The Bickering of Fools

Do you know those angry arguments that people sometimes get into? The ones where they end up accusing each other of terrible things, threatening one another, mocking the other, lying in bed awake afterward boiling with impotent fury?

I witnessed one recently. Online, of course.

It was tough for me, because I think the natural instinct in such a situation is to want to try and pick sides, and in this case both sides were manifestly idiotic. Both of them were knowledgeable, well-educated idiots, who could throw around some big words and some important names from the history of philosophy, but no less idiotic for all that.

How frustrating is it to watch two people who are fundamentally ignorant as they are aggressively trading opinions.

Don’t do that. Don’t be that person. Don’t try to convince someone you’re right until you’ve studied the subject so well that you feel you could have an intelligent and respectable conversation on the matter with a subject matter expert who would not need to dumb things down for you or smirk quietly at all the signs of your incomprehension.

Studying is an immeasurably more beneficial way to spend time than bickering.

And once we’ve done some studying, we will probably no longer have any desire to lower ourselves to the level of those who want to bicker ignorantly about things. We can’t always avoid those people, of course, and sometimes it is emotionally a difficult thing to ignore the mockery of the ignorant. But at the very least I think we’ll find that we have little impetus from within ourselves to debate those who have no desire to make an effort to educate themselves, and that alone will be a great advantage to us in terms of our happiness and even of our intelligence.

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