Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stop Validating Conservative Ignorance - NOW

Since the beginning of "Criminalize Conservatism," we have posted 31 pieces on Conservative Stupidity out of 234 posts, or, for the mathematically challenged or for the Conservative sheeplets,  13% of our total.  (To see those posts, click on "Conservatives Are Stupid" in our "Category Index" on the right side of the page, or just click here -->

But for the first time we offer a solution for all the stupidity of Conservative rhetoric and arguments we bump into each day by reprinting the essay from Lawrence Krauss at titled, "Stop Validating Ignorance" -- and great advice it is indeed.

But first, from Wikipedia, an entry on the subject of ignorance:

"Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge). The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. Ignoramus is commonly used in the US, the UK, and Ireland as a term for someone who is willfully ignorant.

Ignorance is distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to "unwise" acts.

Writer Thomas Pynchon articulated about the scope and structure of one's ignorance: "Ignorance is not just a blank space on a person's mental map. It has contours and coherence, and for all I know rules of operation as well. So as a corollary to [the advice of] writing about what we know, maybe we should add getting familiar with our ignorance, and the possibilities therein for writing a good story."

The legal principle that ignorantia juris non excusat, literally "ignorance of the law is no excuse", stands for the proposition that the law applies also to those who are unaware of it."

(Note: Even though innorantia juris non excusat appears not to exonerate the Conservative sheeplets from their guilt by association with the aims of their leadership, we still call for re-education camps for those followers, rather than the punishment meted out to the leaders after Conservatism is criminalized.)

Again, from Wikipedia:

"Willful delusion

"Matters which are obvious are sometimes ignored, not taken into consideration. This phenomenon is not limited to ordinary persons without native ability but extends to the highest level of human governance resulting in nightmarish scenarios that could, with more wisdom, have been avoided.

"Consequences of Ignorance

Individuals with superficial knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing. As Charles Darwin observed, "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."

Ignorance can stifle learning, in that a person who falsely believes he or she is knowledgeable will not seek out clarification of his or her beliefs, but rather rely on his or her ignorant position. He or she may also reject valid but contrary information, neither realizing its importance nor understanding it. This concept is elucidated in Justin Kruger's and David Dunning's work, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments," otherwise known as the Dunning–Kruger effect."

And what is the Dunning-Kruger effect?  Again, a definition from Wikipedia:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.[1]

Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others".


The hypothesized phenomenon was tested in a series of experiments performed by Dunning and Kruger.   Dunning and Kruger noted earlier studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.

Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
1.  tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
2.  fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
3.  fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
4.  recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.
Dunning has since drawn an analogy ("the anosognosia of everyday life") with a condition in which a person who suffers a physical disability because of brain injury seems unaware of or denies the existence of the disability, even for dramatic impairments such as blindness or paralysis.

"Supporting studies

"Dunning and Kruger set out to test these hypotheses on Cornell undergraduates in psychology courses. In a series of studies, they examined the subjects' self-assessment of logical reasoning skills, grammatical skills, and humor. After being shown their test scores, the subjects were again asked to estimate their own rank: the competent group accurately estimated their rank, while the incompetent group still overestimated theirs. As Dunning and Kruger noted,Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd.

Meanwhile, people with true ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be relatively easy erroneously assumed, to some extent, that the tasks must also be easy for others.

A follow-up study, reported in the same paper, suggests that grossly incompetent students improved their ability to estimate their rank after minimal tutoring in the skills they had previously lacked, regardless of the negligible improvement in actual skills."

And now on to the essay, "Stop Supporting Ignorance":


Lawrence Krauss: It amazes me that people have pre-existing notions that defy the evidence of reality. But that they hold onto them so dearly. And one of them is the notion of creationism, or. in fact, Senator Marco Rubio, who’s presumably a reasonably intelligent man and maybe even educated, was asked what’s the age of the Earth, and ultimately, either because he actually believed it or he was trying to appeal to some constituency, had to argue that it’s a big mystery, that somehow we should teach kids both ideas, that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that it’s 4.55 billion years old, which is what it is.

If you think about that, somehow saying that, well, anything goes, we shouldn't offend religious beliefs by requiring kids to know - to understand reality; that’s child abuse. And if you think about it, teaching kids - or allowing the notion that the earth is 6,000 years old to be promulgated in schools is like teaching kids that the distance across the United States is 17 feet. That’s how big an error it is.

Now you might say, look, a lot of people believe that, so don’t we owe it to them to allow their views to be present in school? Well, as I’ve often said, the purpose of education is not to validate ignorance but to overcome it. Fifty percent of the people in the United States, when we probe them each year with the National Science Foundation, think that the sun goes around the Earth, not that the Earth goes around the sun. When we asked the question - we provide the question: The Earth goes around the sun and takes a year to do it; true or false? Almost every year, 50 percent of the people get that wrong.

Now, does that mean in schools we should allow the anti-Galilean and Copernican idea that the sun goes around the Earth to be taught? Absolutely not. If, in fact, the very fact that people don’t know that, and the very fact that enough people are willing to somehow believe that Earth is 6,000 years old, means we have to do a better job of teaching physics and biology, not a worse job.

The last thing we want to do is water down the teaching of biology because some people don’t recognize that evolution happened. Evolution is the basis of modern biology and, in fact, if a lot of people don’t believe it, it only means we have to do a better job teaching it. So once again, I repeat, the purpose of education is not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it. And to overcome a situation where a United States Senator can speak such manifest nonsense with impunity is vitally important to the healthy future of our society.

Technology and biotechnology will be the basis of our economic future. And if we allow nonsense to be promulgated in the schools, we do a disservice to our students, a disservice to our children, and we’re guaranteeing that they will fall behind in a competitive world that depends upon a skilled workforce able to understand and manipulate technology and science."

So in your next encounter with Conservative sheeplets, whether at a family reunion or in one of the many forums where sheeplets gather, be sure to call them out on their's catching.  Call them out on their facts...they might be believed by others.  And be sure to let the sheeplets know where you believe that Conservatism is a crime and that it must be made illegal for democracy to move forward once again after removing all of the laws and regulations passed by the Conservative politicos for the last 60+ years.


"Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship."

Lord Byron


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