Sunday, May 8, 2011

The right to remain stupid

On occasion, I encounter those who say "There is no knowledge, only opinion". Or "It doesn't matter whether your belief is true, if it gives you comfort". Or "I can believe whatever I want". And such things, all along the same theme of downplaying the importance of reality.

And it is infuriating. I care about reality, and that shouldn't be something you need to say, but it is. Giving a shit about reality is not a favourite flavour of ice-cream. It's so deeply entrenched within the way I deal with the world, it feels off that other humans could believe, or even believe they believe,that knowledge is a matter of preference.

And that's something wrong with me, in part. There's few if any propositions are so ridiculous that a human is unable to profess them (or perhaps, this is just an illusion brought about by the fact that the almost all the beliefs you hear about are those professed by a human, so the sample is self selecting). Either way, it's a fact about reality that some people declare themselves apathetic towards reality, so it shouldn't feel off to me. (There is a curious recursion in that). The principle is, you should be more confused by falsehoods than by truth.

But it is also, in another way, wrong with them. Intolerant it might sound, but this is not a matter of simple preference. You can try to ignore reality, but it will not ignore you, and you will have to deal with it in her own terms. You can draw comfort from your beliefs, but if they are false they will sometimes cause you great harm, and you cannot say that the trade-off is worthy without knowing the true state of things.

So the phrase occurs to me, and it fits. It's arrogant as hell, but it amuses, and it fits. All I have to do, is look at the argument-against-truth and mentally replace it for the indignant protest: "I have the right to remain stupid!"

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