Sunday, May 17, 2009

Defining Ignorant, Stupid, Intelligent and Dumb

One of the primary problems communicating with the English language is connotation and mutating meaning. However, it is one of the things that can make English such a powerful communication tool. With that in mind, from time to time I intend to post short essays defining how I use words.

In this case, I'll be talking about four words I think about often, two of which are really grades on the same scale.

The first word is Ignorance. The Bob Standard Definition of Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Please note that I do not place any value judgement on ignorant people based on their ignorance. It is possible to be ignorant and not be at fault for your ignorance. Children are born ignorant. Those not taught to read face a much harder task combating or controlling their own ignorance. Judging someone for being Ignorant is like judging someone for being poor, just like judging someone for being knowledgeable is like judging someone for being rich. As an additional aside, there are a number of side effects of Ignorance. People possessing some of those side effects are also value judged by society at large. I do not, for the same reasons I don't value judge people who are ignorant for being ignorant.

The next word(s) are Intelligent and Dumb. Both are descriptors for processing and learning rates. The Bob Standard Definition of Intelligent is someone who processes information and learns more quickly than average. The Bob Standard Definition of Dumb is someone who processes information and learns more slowly than average. Again, no value judgements there, although in this case we're talking about inherent or inherited traits rather than default or acquired ones. Being prejudiced against the Intelligent or the Dumb is like being prejudiced against someone for the color of their skin or how tall they are. Like other inherent traits, it might predispose you to excelling at certain tasks, but talent doesn't make you a better or worse person.

The final word of the day is Stupidity. I reserve that word for the condition of being deliberately Ignorant. Until recently, I have placed value judgements on Stupidity, and they have been uniformly bad. I haven't stopped value judging based on Stupidity, but I have seen instances where I didn't find it bad. I have realized that there are times when the only way humanity has continued to thrive is that certain humans were ignorant. Since I like humanity thriving, because the quadruped has not yet been born who can create a good deep dish pizza or code a interesting and visually appealing video game, I am forced to judge judicious use of ignorance as the lesser of evils.

So, there you go. Ignorance is lack of knowledge, Dumb is lack of processing power, Stupidity is deliberate Ignorance. I'm going to be looking further into this later, when I talk about the side effects and grades of Ignorance, and discuss Weapons Grade Ignorance and similar concepts.

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