10 Reasons You’re Surrounded By Idiots

Man laying in a hospital bed talking to a concerned woman says, "Doctor says it's because I'm surrounded by idiots."


1: Cultural Isolation

Great leaps in human progress have often come from the meeting of minds. The Crusades brought Europe out of the dark ages. Christianity would have never evolved out of Judaism were it not for the cultural diffusion the Romans brought to the Middle East.  The founding fathers of America based many of their political ideas on what they learned from thinkers all over Europe as well as the Native Americans.

The printing press made the ideas cheaper and easier to transport, and the internet has sped up the growth of human knowledge exponentially, but throughout history, our minds have been cut off from each other’s by physical, linguistic and political barriers… and they still are. If we had free energy, one language and no political barriers our knowledge would explode like an algae bloom in the ocean… but the people with the power to remove these stumbling blocks from our path fear change. So despite the globalization that is shrinking the world and bringing humanity together, all of our minds are still limited by the relative cultural isolation that remains.


2: Stress

The greater the disparity between the rich and poor becomes, the less wealth there is for the poor to fulfill their base needs/desires, much less achieve self-actualization. The harder and longer the poor are forced to work, the less time, energy, opportunity and motivation they have to turn their minds towards self-actualization and learning for the sake of learning.

Throughout history, the gap between the rich and poor has stretched and contracted in cycles, but the contractions have been few and far between. If human nature wasn’t to be so greedy, and the distribution of wealth had been more equitable all along, then the human race would have progressed at an exponentially faster rate, but since the vast majority of humanity has been poor and stressed throughout history, we’re suffering the compounded consequences of generations of ignorance.  Even today most people are still too stressed over their base needs/desires to turn their attention to becoming more complete people.


3: Peer Pressure

Humans don’t like it when people act differently than them. Our brains are designed to fear what they don’t know. It was a useful survival instinct for cavemen, but in modern society it mostly causes us to bully, insult, ostracize and find other ways to punish each other, for being different. One of the big reasons we’re all so dumb is because we’ve beaten the courage and inspiration out of each other.

Another consequence of fearing the unknown is that progress is by definition, deviant, which means humans tend to reject improving the status quo. History is full of examples of heroes who died trying to pull their fellow man out of the dark age, and humanity is still being dragged towards enlightenment kicking and screaming.


4: Media caters to the lowest common denominator

Mass media isn’t designed to enlighten its viewers. It’s designed to cater to its viewers most base desires: fortune, glory, excitement, sex, drama, and shiny things.  Mass media is puerile brain candy. If you always eat brain candy, and you never eat brain food, your brain regresses. The longer you stay in Stupid Land, the more you accept and defend stupid as reality.


5: Government doesn’t make education a priority

The world wouldn’t be so dumb if our governments devoted more resources to education than war. If we’d spent our entire war budget on education we could end the need for most of the world’s wars and prisons. Our leaders aren’t doing that though because it’s very difficult to exploit and manipulate highly educated people who are capable of solving all the world’s problems. The rich need the poor to stay poor, desperate and ignorant in order to exploit them. So they lobby our leaders to under-fund schools and over-fund the prison industry.


6: Academic philosophy has failed humanity

Ideally, school is supposed to teach students to be curious, to seek knowledge on their own, to ask questions and seek answers. Unfortunately, academia has suffered the same fate as any large, hierarchical bureaucracy that controls vast amounts of wealth and power. It has come to defend the status quo and ridicule, ostracize and punish deviant thinkers.

Universities rarely teach people to think for themselves. More often than not they teach students to think what their professors or the authors of their textbooks think. There are some good academic philosophy classes out there, but standardized tests don’t measure original thought. They measure memorization. So most curricula are designed to challenge students to study old thoughts and regurgitate them, which makes students experts at bragging about how much they know about the history of philosophy without doing much original or practical problem solving of their own.


7: Religion has failed humanity

There may be some force somewhere in the universe that fits some definition of the word God. There’s some evidence to suggest that might be possible, but there are mountains of evidence that all the religions humans have invented are mythologies. While these belief systems may make some good points and give people hope, there are catastrophic consequences to a single person, let alone entire world, of people basing their real-world decisions on a mythology-based understanding of reality.

History is full of examples of people hurting each other and discouraging progress in the name of religion. These aren’t anomalies. That’s what happens when you base your understanding of reality on mythology. That’s still happening, and it’s going to keep happening as long as people keep believing in mythology.


8: Our leaders don’t know what they’re doing, and they lie about it

Society is so lost we don’t even know we’re lost. This is true for the lowest street sweeper all the way up to the highest political leader. We have no idea what we’re doing, and we’re just guessing while putting on enough airs to make it look like we have it together.

In this kind of world, it’s natural to look to leaders for guidance, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing except that our leaders are just as blind as the rest of us. The only difference between us and them is that they’re better at lying. This causes two problems. First, when we attempt to emulate our leaders we end up emulating fools. The second problem is that our leaders are leading us in circles as our world becomes overpopulated and better armed.


9: Parents don’t know what they’re doing, and they lie about it

Nobody knows the meaning of life, and psychologists are still figuring out how what makes a mentally healthy human being. Most K-12 schools don’t teach philosophy, and I’ve never heard of one that teaches child psychology. Parents are mostly making up their parenting skills as they go along, but they still demand respect and obedience from the younger generation. So children are raised to look up to and emulate people who are doing their best at faking it until they make it. This haphazard approach to raising children into adults yields haphazard results.


10: Evolution has designed us to be stupid

All of these problems aren’t accidents or anomalies. They’re all inevitabilities considering how evolution has designed us. As surely as evolution gave us hands, feet, eyes, ears, and noses to help us survive it also gave us pain, pleasure, hunger, fear, love, greed and all the other emotions and base desires that steer us away from logical accountability. It also put shortcuts into our brains like cognitive dissonance, cognitive bias, schemas, trust for authority, fear of change, the fundamental attribution error and a slew of other mental processes that reduce our need to think about what we’re doing and encourages us to sleepwalk through life on autopilot.

The truth is ugly, but we have to face this demon in order to fulfill our potential. We were born to be stupid, and make no mistake, we are stupid. I don’t say this because I’m better than you. I’m no better than you. I’m stupid too. The big difference between me and the gangstas, rednecks, preps and religious fanatics that infuriate me day in and day out is that I’m afraid and ashamed of my stupidity whereas they celebrate theirs.

How terrified are you of your stupidity? Because the greater your terror is the more motivated you’ll be to do everything in your power to get unstupid. The more confident or even resigned with who you are the less critical of your own stupidity you’ll be and the more you’ll wallow in your own stupidity, infuriate the intelligent people around you (who you will have ignorantly mistaken for being stupid) and waste your life and lower humanity’s potential.


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40 responses to “10 Reasons You’re Surrounded By Idiots

  • John Grabowski

    “Society is so lost we don’t even know we’re lost. This is true for the lowest street sweeper all the way up to the highest political leader. We have no idea what we’re doing, and we’re just guessing while putting on enough airs to make it look like we have it together.”

    Next to Oscar Wilde’s immortal “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation,” this might be one of the truest statements ever made.


  • Raven

    Reading this on my lunch break at Walmart. Yes, this is an intellectual waste land. No, I don’t know how I haven’t murdered everyone from here to the horizon in the last eleven years. So happy to see others also see problems around them, and can share, makes me feel a tiny bit better.


  • Anonymous

    Point 5 is irrelevant.

    Government does a piss poor job at anything it does. If they devoted more resources to education, we’d just end up with more administrators and less teachers.

    What they need to do, is allow teachers to teach, and parents to guide, and allow the market forces to vector individuality among those more suited for pursuits of higher knowledge, trade, or skills. GPA inflation, funding based on test scores, and federally mandated curriculum all sound good on paper, but set to the standards of what we should be achieving, they fail drastically.

    This meme, that government is the purist source of information is deafening to those of us who have worked within its bureaucracies. If we want to have a more educated, intelligent populace, we need to start by removing the safety nets and practices that keep them fed, alive, and breeding within our country. If the lack of peril produces a fat, lazy, and intellectually slobbish population, then perhaps unbridled self-governance is the answer.


  • ConnorsFan

    I think that peer pressure is the worst, but in a slightly different way than the one you mentioned. I am often amazed to see how easily a confident person can find followers and push them to do what they want. Many people are ready to do anything to come into the good graces of a top dog. These people can be educated, well informed, as knowledgeable as you want. They just want to be part of the group. The fear of being isolated makes them puppets in the hands of manipulators. I see it everywhere around me and nearly every day, unfortunately.


  • Dealarr

    “There may be some force somewhere in the universe that fits some definition of the word God. There’s some evidence to suggest that might be possible, but there are mountains of evidence that all the religions humans have invented are mythologies.”

    I am interested in the first part. “There may be some force somewhere in the universe that fits some definition of the word God. There’s some evidence to suggest that might be possible.

    Please elaborate.


      • Dealarr

        That’s a good read and very logical. It’s crazy to think the make up of our DNA is so intentional.

        This is crazy true too, “One of the big reasons we’re all so dumb is because we’ve beat the courage and inspiration out of each other.:

        My observation of groups of human beings are, men will often try to berate an individual if one of them don’t act like them. Especially in the presence of females, since we are all competing for partners, theoretically. It’s quite ugly to see really, because it’s almost like that is the only thing they are capable of, their brains are unable to think of another viable solution in the billionth amount of possibilities.


        • Wengert

          That got weirdly sexist at the end. I know TONS of men who aren’t like that. Most human brains are very similar. It’s the hormones and upbringings that influence actions, but the feelings and thoughts are nearly identical. And when it comes to berating and urging others to fall in line, women share plenty of the burden.


  • Zander

    This article is my safe place. I want to hug it, and never leave.


  • Bee

    We live in a world full of worthless idiots. Accept it. We are all worthless, dumb idiots.


  • Benjamin

    People need better teachers. I don’t mean in the school room, though it wouldn’t hurt. People are clay, or blank slates. Put the wrong hands to task of molding them, and they are bound to be ignorant. I’m certain there are exceptions.


  • khloeissabelle

    you made me feel so much better about life right now


  • Josh C.

    This is fantastic. I can’t agree enough.


  • Linda Gerstmann

    Sometimes I wish all the freethinkers could get together and form some kind of organization big enough and powerful and influential enough to begin to crowd out these Christian-Right pinheaded Southern inbred trailer trash that has somehow risen to such positions of power that they can pass laws to bend the rest of us to their will and the will of their puppetmasters. There must be a way. Any ideas out there, fellow readers?


    • Jules

      I found this article while searching for such a group or movement. I cannot sit idly by anymore and watch society devolve and pull itself apart while the few leaders running the machine sit back, untouchable, on their piles of cash from their blindly faithful followers. Both sides of politics have some theoretical good points, why is it so rare to hear intellectual discourse on facts and ideals without resorting to name calling and fear mongoring with a dash of (somewhat disturbing) nationalism? Just reading these comments lets me know I’m not alone. “If you see something, say something.” I see a need for change… but where; how? Even just finding a group of people to talk with about ideas would be like heaven, it certainly can’t be found in the classrooms of higher education, so where?


  • John Smith

    very good… now, who’s for a game of chess?


  • reg

    Brilliant article smashing super etc. I arrived here quite by accident searching for somewhere to for unfamous quotes by unfamous people. My quote which is from experience “Its no use trying to be clever when your’e surrounded by idiots” By me unfamous Reg Jukes. just as stupid as the next bloke!


  • Fáreryniel Ithilwen

    So much truth, Journalism has gone to hell in a handbasket, nobody checks facts anymore.


  • Marcus Rodrigo Cain

    You have written well, I suppose. It is a sad fact that idiots cannot be made intellectuals but intellectuals are easily made idiots which is evident throughout history. One particular despicable nation, whom I shall not name, is a staunch example of it. It claims to be a country of ideals and diversity, but how can it be so when its ideals were made by corrupt vain, naive people! (not USA). There, stupidity is a fashion.


  • azalee

    thanks for reflecting about , life, and waste of time,
    i m asking the universe, to give me a second chance for not being stupid….


  • Lolzamigo

    Hey Wise Sloth, I agree with your article except for a few points. I too feel almost the same way. However my question is pretty simple. If the case is as above, why haven’t the few people like you(perhaps) and (perhaps) me who can see through all the bullshit we’re being fed gotten together in order to become “leaders” for the clueless masses , the “idiots”? Why not get all of us together regardless of race,creed, nationality, age, sex etc and actually make a positive difference? If not us then who will, the politicians? lol We can set an example for the rest and if they still dont get it, then start our own nation/ society for ourselves. A utopia based on common sense and intelligence and the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge leading to a technologically advanced society based on decency & humanity in the long run.
    As I see it there are only two kinds of deeds/actions in life. The Good and the Bad/evil. Most of us do both on a daily basis. (You can argue what defines good and bad but the basics are the same for everyone: lie murder cheat etc). Good people usually do bad/evil things in order to survive and thrive in the messed up societies they find themselves in. I’m advocating pursuing the good rather than the bad with a vengeance, for ourselves, for others for humanity for the planet. If like minded people got together & did that then either the rest of society would have to change or we would end up with our own better society where at least we wouldnt be forced to choose between doing good and whats right & being successful and surviving.


    • wise sloth

      My one-point plan on how to save the world

      The reason people like you and I haven’t implemented this kind of plan yet is because we don’t have enough money.


      • Anonymous

        New world order


      • Jules

        We only need money for ourselves. Be the change we want to see in the world. We don’t need to fund political parties and “take over” for the good of humanity, if I can fend for myself amidst the idiocracy that is society, why couldn’t I do the same along side like-minded intellectuals? Either in a physical place or a virtual meeting place. I like what the other comment brought up, about doing the the right thing, lead by example. All I’m looking for is connection and validation with other own minded people who want to leave this place better than we found it and keep humanity progressing.


  • Bart

    Hey Man, very interesting stuff. Am I right to assume you’re a reductionist?
    I actually got here because I googled “an intellectual surrounded by idiots” to find some views on that as I have recently noticed an intellectual gap that’s getting bigger and bigger between me and my closest friends. I spent the last 8 years expanding my intellectual horizon mainly by reading about things. When the gap was small it didn’t bother me but it got to the point that the disconnect is so apparent I can’t help but think of them as “idiots”. Everything they say, their opinions, their arguments and their reasoning is just bad. It’s very hard to turn a blind eye to those things. I love my friends but something tells me that I should ditch them. I really need to surround myself with like-minded people or I will shoot myself 😉 Any thoughts?


    • wise sloth

      Honestly, I’ve never heard the term “reductionist” before. I looked it up, and it seems to me that reductionism takes a useful point and paints all life black and white.

      Your friends are probably good people, and you would probably lose a lot of good things by burning the bridge between you. However, we tend to rise or fall to the level of our peers. It’s always better to spend time with people who pull you up and not those you drag you down. My suggestion is to go places where people do the kind of things you like to do. Join organizations that revolve around the topics that interest you. Get on meetup.com and go to some meetups. As you meet new people you may transition from your old friends to new ones.


    • reg

      Shooting yourself would be stupid contemplating shooting yourself is stupid. It appears the gap with your stupid friend is not a wide as you thought.


  • mvk

    Thanks for reply. I see you are prepared for so many question. 🙂
    I did also went to some muslim religious school. And it is backfired to me either. Religion is not about god. It’s about custom and politics. King was need to the legitimation and by aid of his violence and with some kind of epileptic or schizophrenic guy and the cognitive dissonance of the rest, God was created. (why don’t we write this story? setting in some barbarian age)
    I like the way Jung’s looking psychologic topology (soul as mountain not iceberg). But don’t like so many eastern mysticism. It looks to me snake oil -or “they live happily after”.
    Maybe human mind is not stop even when it find the answer. Maybe we don’t need an answer. Maybe we just need something to step on and rise.


  • mvk

    Hi Travis I’m exploiting your story templates now. Thanks for your wise advices. I think the problem is not whether being clever or not for society. I think problem is limited sources for our greedy souls. We will always in the middle of the intelligence.
    My biggest question about life is yet about free will or determinism. I know all things tided each other -like chain- with cause-effect, but what is the first cause? is it god or we, or we as god?
    sorry for my second pity language 😦


  • Taoist

    Thank you for the enlightening post, or should I say, what I was thinking all along. I will share this with the other idiots who really need it.


  • rubyrubyruby

    If you’re surrounded by idiots you might very well be one yourself cause we’re the product of our environment to a vast degree


  • Heather

    love this post!!!!


  • Myles

    Enjoyed reading this. What are the 10 steps to become unstupid please?


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