Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Read. Think. Challenge.

What is the difference between being ignorant and being stupid?

Ignorant means lacking knowledge or information. Ignorance can be remedied with education. But stupid? Stupid is a choice. It's a willful decision to remain uneducated of the facts.

Ignorance, I can handle. I've been ignorant of many things in my life and being open to learning changes that. But stupid? No. There's no excuse for stupid. Want examples? Here, have examples:

Taylor Swift released a video yesterday and was immediately met with criticism for showing women of color twerking. It's pop culture, so it's fair game for debate and discussion. But there's this, instead:

I haven't watched it but I'm going to weigh in, anyway.

That's stupid. If you haven't watched something like a music video, how can speak with any authority on whether or not it's offensive? You can't. But people do it all the time. We mock people we don't know and we criticize things we haven't seen or heard personally.

Likewise, Facebook and other social media continue to be hotspots of people weighing in on topics without taking a moment to educate themselves on the subject matter. Why read an entire article when you can just react to the headline, instead? Why take the time to follow a provided link when you can just ignore it and pretend it was never posted? And why bother to think critically about a claim someone makes when it already fits in perfectly with your already established beliefs?

And just yesterday, I got into a heated discussion with someone about the murder of Journalist James Foley. I won't repeat the specifics here, because I don't want to derail my own train of thought. But the person posted a partial quote and claimed the very opposite of what it actually meant. I posted the full quote and showed that not only was he citing half a statement out of context, he was also making flat-out lies about the overall subject. And his own partial quote was the source I used to show he was not being truthful.

That's stupid. It's like selecting this statement "only a fool would run a marathon without proper training" but only citing, "only a fool would run a marathon."

It's dishonest. Obviously, the message was intended to stress the importance of training, but the selectively edited quote appears to mock anyone who runs a marathon as a fool. That's just a flat-out lie.

And while I'm on my rant, here's a little more. Just because someone posts something on Facebook that you agree with, it doesn't make it true. Check your sources. Check Snopes. Check Politifact. Check anywhere and everywhere. It's tempting to jump on the bandwagon because you agree with what you're reading, but in the end, reposting nonsense makes you appear foolish and gullible.

Read. Think. Challenge. Take the time to educate yourself on what is happening before spouting off like an expert. It will keep you from sounding stupid.

And I should know. I've said many stupid things, even recently. And I'm taking my a step back to assess my own critical thinking skills to minimize the odds of that happening again in the future.

And you? Does the truth matter to you? If so, make an effort. The world needs it and your friends should demand it.

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