Category Archives: The Value of Public Education

The Value Of Knowledge

This essay is an excerpt from my book, “Why: An Agnostic Perspective on the Meaning of Life.




Look at your body in a mirror. It looks like one single object, but it can be broken down into organ systems, organs, tissue, cells, organelles, protein, DNA, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, hadrons, quarks, fermions, leptons, gluons, etc. Your body is a complex system that can be divided into ever smaller and more fundamental parts.

Your mind is the same way. Everything that makes up your mind: personality, thoughts, ideas, opinions, dreams, fears, desires, memories, skills, vocabulary, etc. are all made from different levels of progressively smaller building blocks. The most fundamental of these building blocks is knowledge. The more knowledge you have the more articulate and complete your personality, thoughts, ideas, opinions, dreams, fears, desires, memories, skills, vocabulary, etc. will be. The more mass your body has the bigger a person you’ll be, and the more knowledge you have the bigger your mind will be. Thus, the bigger of a person you’ll be.

This means that in order to grow up you need to learn. You can’t just get old and all of a sudden claim you’re grown up. If you stop systematically learning after graduation then it doesn’t matter how many years you age, you all but stopped growing after you quit going to school. Therefore, you never grew up.

Imagine the personality of a baby. Aside from emotions and instinct, a baby doesn’t have a personality or identity. All those cute/sad faces are the product of instinct, not personality.

Now imagine a ten-year-old. The child has a personality but pretty much everything about his personality is still naïve. He has naïve thoughts, questions, beliefs, opinions, dreams, fears, etc. Honestly, you can’t possibly spend a day with a ten-year-old without rolling your eyes at least once because of something naive he said or did.

Now imagine a regular grown man. He’s a blue-collar worker, has 2.5 children, practices religion but is no theologian, and manages his money responsibly enough that he doesn’t starve. This man doesn’t suffer too much mental distress and is capable of functioning in society. However, he’s never systematically tried to achieve self-actualization, and he doesn’t go out of his way to learn new things every day.

He’s really just on par with what a human is capable of becoming. His philosophy on life is basically to keep your head down, pay your taxes, celebrate holidays, watch television, and hopefully someday retire relatively comfortably.

This man will never truly understand the world around him. He’ll believe what he was taught in school, and after he graduates, he’ll only learn what knowledge he stumbles upon, which will be mainly limited to what’s on cable television. His thoughts will be limited to mainstream thoughts. His hopes and fears will be the same as his neighbor’s. He might not buy celebrity gossip magazines, but it won’t be entirely uncommon for him to take part in conversations about it.

The life of the average man doesn’t sound too horrible, but compare it to what his life could have been like.

Imagine anyone who has earned the title of one of the greatest minds in history. These people understood life deeper, made their own perceptive observations without waiting for other people to make sense of the world for them. They were empowered. They weren’t slaves to mainstream thoughts. They had logical thoughts, rational fears, brilliant hopes, articulate opinions/beliefs and personalities you could lose yourself in. Their minds were veritable galaxies. They experienced life more deeply than the average man even has the capacity to imagine.

Whatever factors can be used to explain the differences between an infant, ten-year-old, adult, and genius there’s one common denominator that’s always present: knowledge.

Imagine if everybody’s minds could be visually represented by the house they live in. A baby would be lying on a concrete slab. A child would live in a small slapdash shack. Your average person would live in a drab suburban cookie-cutter home. A genius would live in an elaborately customized mansion.

That’s an easy enough analogy to understand, but it’s easy to miss the depth of the message in it: that there are real internal rewards to gaining knowledge, and there are real internal consequences to being ignorant. This is who you’re going to be for the rest of your life. This is how you’re going to experience the rest of your life. By not learning you’re condemning yourself to a dull and confusing mental prison. You’re missing out on experiencing the fullness of life by not experiencing the fullness of yourself.




Every interaction you have with the external world: driving, raising a child, working at your job, making friends, managing your finances, cooking, voting, self-defense, teaching, putting furniture together, managing employees, finding a mate, living with your mate, etc. Everything you do is the result of thoughts in your brain, and those thoughts are made of bits of knowledge strung together. The more knowledge you possess the more articulate and complete your thoughts can be. The more complete your thoughts are the better you can do anything. The quality of everything you do, from the most insignificant to the most life-changing action, is determined by how much knowledge you have.

Here’s a real-world example of this concept in action. The more you know about cars the better you can fix them. That’s obvious enough, but there are a few things implied in that simple statement that a lot of people don’t seem to understand.

The most basic implication of that statement is that you can learn about a car. It’s possible just as it’s possible to learn about anything. Is there anything you want to do but can’t? If so, it’s not because there’s something inherently wrong with you that will always prevent you from doing that thing. You just need to learn it.

Think about this. Everyone wishes they had superpowers. Why do we want superpowers? Because we want to be capable of doing more in life, and we feel limited by our feeble bodies. But it’s not really our bodies that limit us. Compare yourself to a plant, and you’ll see why this is true. A plant truly is stuck with the same abilities forever. Most plants can’t even move except to grow towards light. From a plant’s perspective not only can we move freely, but we have the ability to choose whatever kinds of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, etc. we want. We can choose our defense mechanisms (martial arts, marksmanship), root system (investment strategy, job skills), flowers (art, music, fashion), etc. Compared to a plant you already have superpowers, but more importantly, you can choose whatever other superpowers you want. So if you feel stuck in life and wish you had superpowers then go learn something.

Think about how the car analogy applies to ignorance. If you can’t fix your car you don’t stand around wondering why. You know why. You can’t fix it because you don’t know how, but with a broken car you don’t just sit around complaining about it. You accept the fact that it’s broken and take steps to learn how to fix it or hire somebody who can.

The same concept is true with anything you do. Think about any problem you’ve ever had in your life. Think about any failure you’ve experienced, any dream unfulfilled, any mistake you regret. Think about any tear you’ve shed. Any time you’ve shaken in frustration or anger. Have you ever sat around with your hands in your head wondering, “Why is this happening to me?” The next time that happens imagine yourself sitting behind the wheel of your car with your hands on your head feeling helpless and bewildered wondering, “Why doesn’t my car work?” Because that’s ultimately what you’re doing.

Would you get upset and defensive if someone told you your car is broken or running poorly because you don’t know how to fix it? Probably not, but everyday people refuse to take responsibility for their lives. They make excuses for the bad things happening to them by saying it’s not their fault. They try to find anything to blame their problems on except their own ignorance.

On the most fundamental level, ignorance is the root of all problems, and knowledge is the solution. If there’s a problem in your life there’s knowledge you can possess that will allow you to fix it or there’s someone with the knowledge who can help you if you’d only try to find them. If you don’t have that knowledge and aren’t trying to find it then it’s your fault there are problems in your life regardless of their original source.

Ignorance is even the root of all external problems too. If you were hurt by someone else it’s because they were ignorant. Even what insurance companies call “acts of God” can be prevented with appropriate applications of knowledge. Houses can be built above floodplains. Trailer houses can be made tornado proof. We can erect tsunami barriers along coastland. Buildings can be made earthquake-proof, etc. So if you’re ever looking for someone or something to blame you would always be correct to blame ignorance. And if your life sucks then go learn something. And remember, if there’s always more you can learn about cars then there’s always more you can learn about anything. Life can always be easier.

The last thing that thing that needs to be said about fixing cars is that there are only three ways you can learn how to do it:

1: It’s forced upon you.

2: You stumble upon it.

3: You seek out.

The same is true with all knowledge. People are forced to learn in school, but after graduating nobody forces them to learn anymore. That doesn’t mean they’ll never learn anything else though. They’ll stumble on a little more information here and there through the rest of their life but it’s not going to amount to anything truly empowering. And what’s the opposite of empowerment? Enslavement.

Most people only seek out the knowledge they need in the immediate present (like how to program their new electronic device). People generally don’t say to themselves, “There’s knowledge out there that will make my life better, but I don’t know what it is. So I’m just going to go learn as much as I can about everything until I find that knowledge that will make my life better.” People don’t do that. They just sit around and watch TV and assume they’ll learn everything they need to know in life from sitcoms, cartoons, and commercials. But that’s not going to happen, and nobody’s going to cram the knowledge you need down your throat your entire life. And why should they? That’s your job.

The fact is you won’t stumble upon enough knowledge to empower you above the status quo if you don’t seek it out on your own. So this is your warning or your wake up call. Seek out knowledge. Seek out as much as you can, but ask yourself what the most important knowledge you can learn is and seek that out most of all lest you waste your life acquiring relatively useless knowledge. And never stop seeking knowledge. Everything in your life (internal and external) depends on it.



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Why We’ve Never Raised An Entire Generation Of Adults Ever

Once people become parents or are given power over younger people in their job, most people assume they deserve that power. They assume they’re mature, grown-up adults. But consider the parents, teachers, and bosses who lived 2000 years ago. Compared to people today they weren’t mature. Relatively speaking, they were idiots. Of course, from their frame of reference, they were the best thing to date. So they thought that made them the best thing in fact. In hindsight, it’s obvious to us now that they were ignorant children masquerading in adult bodies.

Now reconsider the parents, teachers, and bosses who are alive today who don’t have the benefit of hindsight to recognize their own maturity level. Look at how our leaders squabble and pick on weaker people like 5-year-old bullies. Look at how your average parent shouts at their children like a 5-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Look at how the talking heads on television shout illogical, inane babble like 5-year-olds. Look at the television shows that get the best ratings: they’re all about sex, violence, and fame. These themes appeal to our base desires- the primal desires of unrefined children. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of working in the customer service industry you have to deal with adults throwing tantrums and bullying you all day every day.



The evidence points to a frightening and shameful conclusion. It’s not just that a few old people never grew up. It’s not even that a handful of old people never grew up. The evidence point to the conclusion that humanity has never raised a generation of full grown, mature, self-actualized adults. Ever.

Each generation only produces between 1-100 full grown, self-actualized adults, and I fear the number is closer to 1 than 100. Abraham Maslow would agree with me on that figure. The entire world is run by delusional and/or lying children. On the rare occasion anyone even starts to grow up, they get ostracized and even killed for being different and offending the beliefs and pride of the childish masses.

The lesson to be learned from this isn’t that we should hate ourselves for being so stupid. It’s not our fault we never grew up. The world got this way because we’ve never known how to raise a full grown, mature, self-actualized adults. We’ve never been able to create a textbook for life. Seriously. Try to find one book (or set of books) that systematically explains from beginning to parents how to effectively raise a child. You might be able to piece-meal the knowledge together for a wide array of separate sources, but you won’t find one coherent, systematic, logical instruction manual to raising children or growing up. There is no textbook for life. So the call to action here isn’t to berate ourselves. The call to action is to create two textbooks for life: One for how to raise children and one for how to raise yourself.

Once we’ve created these books we need to redesign our school system so that, in addition to learning rote knowledge, every year of school curriculum includes psychology classes that teach children about the stage of mental development they’re currently going through. The classes should go on to teach children what they need to know to overcome the psychological hurdles they’ll face during that time of their lives. In addition to helping them solve their personal problems, it should also provide a coherent, unified direction (or end goal) in their psychological growth.

To augment children’s psychological development, schools should also teach children how to ask the important questions in life and how to answer those questions systematically, objectively and logically. This will help children understand their place in the universe, the meaning of their lives, the value of other people’s lives and how to develop a systematic, coherent, unified, logical, objective ethical framework.

Despite the fact that enough knowledge exists in academia to accomplish this, we aren’t implementing it. Why? One reason is that knowledge is profitable. As long as money can be made by manipulating the intellectual market and creating a false shortage of knowledge, the adults who control intellectual resources can profit from them.

Another reason is it would cost an extraordinary amount of money to redesign our education system to the point where every child not only gets a solid education in the rote knowledge a human being needs to understand to succeed in our economy but also the systematic, holistic knowledge of psychological development a human being needs to master in order to become a mature adult. The ruling aristocracy would rather see our taxes spent on subjugating third world countries to exploit their natural and human resources than to raise our children to be full grown adults.

Another reason is parents aren’t willing to allow their children to think freely. Parents assume what they believe is true and right. Unfortunately, 99.9% of parents are children themselves, and their beliefs are immature, haphazard, illogical, and subjective. Parent tends to oppose any system of thought that challenges their preconceived beliefs.

Average citizens might be able to change the system, but today’s children will have graduated before the system could be improved, and another generation will be wasted. Even if we were able to change the system it would likely be so bogged down by bureaucracy, red tape, and compromises that it would lose much of its effectiveness.

However, the option still exists to create a personal growth-oriented education system outside of the standard public school system. We could create a virtual school on the Internet. This method would be cheaper, and the cost could be spread out across millions of donations. An open source, user-generated system would spread out the labor needed to create such a system and would allow for much of the work to be done for free by volunteers. It would also make the content available for free, anywhere, anytime. So anyone in the world (the site could be multilingual like Wikipedia could benefit from the content. The site could also generate a profit via advertising, affiliate sales, and merchandising.

Once the virtual system is in place, entrepreneurs could build brick and mortar weekend/summer schools where students could receive direct guidance and assistance in their studies. These could be paid for by grants, fees, sales, and donations. Effectively they would operate like churches…except instead of tearing down people’s understanding of reality and indoctrinating them with archaic, destructive ethics while wasting countless dollars on expensive alters, decorations, statues and sound system the students would be taught how to grow up into sane, wise, functional adults, and the money would go directly to improving people’s minds, which will improve not only their lives but the lives of everyone within their sphere of influence.

I have no doubt that a system like this will be created someday. The only question is how many generations of children are robbed of their potential while the old children we call adults grow up.


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Why You Should Have High Intellectual Standards

Universal Intellectual Standers: Clarity, Accuracy, Precision, Relevance, Depth, Breadth, Logic, Significance, Fairness


You are your life, and your life is who you are. What you experience is who you are. What you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, say, believe, think, remember, etc. is who you are. The quality of who you are equates to the quality of your life…and visa versa.

This is why it’s important to have intellectual standards. We all make excuses for the stupid things we do, say, watch, listen to, think, believe, etc. Whatever excuses we use they all point towards the same conclusions: that it’s harmless or even good to lower our standards, even if just for a little while. But it’s not okay. There are real-world consequences for exposing yourself to and partaking in mindless, low brow anti-intellectualism.

Even without getting into macro-sociological ripples the consequences are personal and immediate. When you watch a stupid television show like the Super Bowl, you’re lowering your quality of life immediately and irrevocably. I know it may seem fun, but so does crack-cocaine. Would you be right to justify crack-cocaine use because it’s fun? No. So why would you justify watching American Idol because it’s fun? They have the same consequences.

You can’t even use the excuse that they’re different because crack-cocaine will kill you. When you binge on stupidity and mindlessness it builds up in your system. Then, before you know it you’re riding a four-wheeler around a construction site drunk shouting to your friends, “Hey man, watch this shit!” Next thing you know you’re winning a Darwin Award.

But even without getting that dramatic, think about this. You have one life to live, and it’s a short one. Life is infinitely valuable. We need to make the most of it to honor our creator or at least for our own personal sake. If you spend your whole life watching dumb ass television and reading gossip magazines what have you really done with your life? You’ve wasted it and mocked it just as surely as killing yourself as a teenager.

Wallowing in the joys of low intellectual standards may seem fun at the time, but life is better than that. Life has more to offer, and if you take it up on that offer you’ll become a better person, and immediately you’ll live a more enjoyable and more meaningful life.

So don’t waste your time justifying low intellectual standards to your self, and certainly don’t push them on others. Because what you’re really doing is justifying a life less lived.


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They’re Giving Away Free Super Powers On The Internet

Everyone has wished they had a superpower, like the ability to fly or run super fast, but superpowers don’t exist. There’s no hope of finding radioactive ooze or a magical totem that will imbue you with the ability to do anything out of the ordinary other than maybe get cancer.  We’re going to die in the same bodies we were born in, and that’s it.

However, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You don’t need magic or fantasy to get superpowers. In fact, you’ve got the one superpower that unlocks all the rest. You’re a human, right? And you wish you could fly? Humans have already made flight possible. Do you want X-ray vision? Humans have already created X-ray machines that can do that. Do you want to breathe underwater? We figured that one out too, and scuba divers have been doing it for years. We can see all the way to the moon. We can shoot bullets out of our hands. We’ve got friggin lasers.

If you want a superpower, don’t go looking for mythical beings to give it to you. Go ask a really smart person who thinks a lot. Then they’ll study the universe we live in and reverse engineer a way to give you that ability using what we’ve got. All our technological superpowers came from the same source: people studying the way things work and thinking about it.

There’s something you wish you could do, and it’s probably not as exotic as flying. You might wish you could give fantastic back massages. Or perhaps you wished you were like MacGuyver and could make anything out of anything or like Sherlock Holmes who could solve any puzzle. Maybe you just wish you had the ability to keep your car running. You probably wish you were more seductive… or at least less socially awkward. The point is, there’s something you wish you could do.

Whatever it is. You can do it… or at least the next best thing. There’s just one secret to unlocking every power-up in the universe: STUDY. If you want to be able to do something new… you can do it if you research how to do it, and you can find that information online. Now more than in any other time in history, if you want a superpower you can get it. If you want to become a karate master who looks like a turtle, you can arrange all of that in a couple of Google searches. You can even get a sidekick off of Craigslist.

Learning takes a little effort, but what else did you have to do with your life besides make it better? If there’s something you want to do, then power up with knowledge or quit whining about it. If you’re not absorbing new powers, I have no idea why, because the solution to your limitations is right in front of you. If you want to get stronger, then learn and think, and beware that the less you do, the weaker you’ll be. If you don’t believe me, go talk to an idiot and see how hard their life is. Then go talk to Bill Gates and ask him how many superpowers his house has.


Picture of Batman and Ironman with the caption, "MONEY: Best superpower of all."

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Education Is The Silver Bullet To The World’s Problems

What if you only had one year to do one thing to help the entire world before retiring to a life of self-interest? Where would you place your one bet in the chaos theory casino of global issues? If you got a magic lamp and could change one thing about the world, what would have the biggest positive impact?



It’s a funny question, but it’s important because the world’s problems are your problems, and your problems are your responsibility. The only time you ever get answers, is when you ask questions. So at some point in your life, you have to stop asking “But what can we do?” and start asking yourself, “What causes problems?”

You can make a game out of the question. Just walk around until you see something that sucks. Then point at it, and have someone take a picture of your pointing at the problem. Then go find a solution to the problem and have someone take a picture of you pointing at it. After you collect two stacks of pictures, try to find common denominators and connections between the world’s problems and solutions. If everyone shared their pictures on a website and analyzed them together, we could find all the answers very quickly. I guarantee, all the arrows are going to point to sustainability and education.

Everything education touches turns to gold. You can send in a group of educated people to a barren wilderness or a garbage dump and they’ll turn that area into a utopia. Give a man 8 years in prison and he’ll come out a monster. Give a man 8 years in school and he’ll come out a doctor. The defining difference between an officer and an enlisted troop is education. The first thing employers ask job applicants is what their education level is. Education doesn’t improve civilization. Education is civilization.

So what do we do about that? Should we donate all of our money to universities and testing companies? Because that’s what we’re doing. We’re betting the future of the human species on universities and testing companies, and most of that money is getting funneled into sports cars and swimming pools. The test scores from the testing companies we’re giving all of our education money to are showing that test scores are falling because children are learning less because our schools are focused too much on testing. And the lower you test the higher a percentage of your income you have to spend to further your education.



Education is getting so overpriced, almost nobody can afford it, and even those who can, are finding the cost/benefit analysis of investing in an education doesn’t add up. The system in place discourages and excludes people from getting an education. Then we wonder why we don’t have enough skilled workers or innovative thinkers to solve the world’s problems. Instead, we have unemployed, angry young adults complaining about not having the opportunities they were promised, and the youngest generation is growing up apathetic because they’ve known their whole life the education system is an overpriced commodity that only leads to a cubicle which is barely distinguishable from a jail cell. They’re not detached because they’re lazy but because they live in a giant, horrible, futile Skinner box.



So what do you do? Do you fix the testing companies that are cannibalizing our public budget or do you fix the universities that are cannibalizing our private budgets? Or is there a butterfly out there somewhere else that we can disturb and cause ripple effects throughout the whole system that will solve both problems, if not more?

The end goal is to provide a full spectrum of easily accessible, high-quality information to as many people as possible as quickly and cheaply as possible for as long as possible. The ideal dream scenario would be for every level of education to be completely free to everyone everywhere all the time. The ripple effects of such a school system would do more to render more causes of more problems obsolete than any other single solution. Universal, free education is the holy grail of social action. It’s the ultimate tool of self-empowerment. It’s the silver bullet for poverty. It’s the silver bullet for making responsible voters, citizens, soldiers, and politicians. It’s the long-term cure for corruption and the key to technological innovation.

Universal, free education is the key to the next Golden era of human history, which will be the greatest golden era mankind has ever seen, and this key exists today in its infancy at websites like the Khan Academy and others, but they’re all underfunded. If the United States had donated every penny it’s spent on wars in the last 10 years to the free online schools, we would be living in Gene Roddenberry’s wildest dream today. Instead of investing in education, America is investing in bombing goat herders.



Governments aren’t fulfilling their obligation to education, but you can. Everyone can donate to sites like Khan Academy. Once we’ve enlightened the world then the solutions to the rest of our problems will be clear, and we’ll have the skills to engage those problems. I guarantee it’ll help more than investing in sports cars and swimming pools. It’ll help more than killing brown people. It’ll help more than cheap gasoline. It’ll help more than funding a Republican or Democrat’s political campaign. It’ll help more than funding the war on drugs. It’ll create more jobs than tax cuts for the rich. It’ll put more food in children’s mouths than churches.


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The World Sucks Because People Are Stupid. The Solution Is Free Online Education.

This is very simple. The world sucks because people suck, and people suck because they’re stupid. If you want to save the world, the most obvious solution is free education. Once all human knowledge is completely free and accessible anywhere, anytime, then everything else will follow.

Who should pay for it? You. Everyone. If you live in the United States of America, then most of your federal income tax goes to bombing brown people. That money should be spent on giving you and everyone else free education. Any politician who doesn’t make that their number one priority is the barrier between us and utopia, but politicians choose to continue to use your money to fund an unnecessary and destructive weapons industry.

Since your elected leaders won’t spend your tax dollars to give you free education, then Hollywood should. Second only to religion, Hollywood has been the largest producer of stupidity in all of human history. The majority of all media content produced in Hollywood is stupid. It’s designed to appeal to the lowest common intellectual denominator. It’s brain candy, and most people in first world countries binge on brain candy most of the time they’re not at work or school, and it makes them stupid.

Hollywood owes the world free education to atone for the stupidity it has created. Who is your favorite celebrity? That person is a millionaire and has played a role in making you, your friends, your enemies and countless strangers dumber. Your favorite celebrity should pay to build a free online school that offers video classes on every subject broken down by topic.

If Hollywood won’t do it then the richest person in the world should pay for it. You know how you become the richest person in the world? You sell stuff, and you pay your workers as little as possible to produce something everyone needs and that is as cheap as possible to reproduce, and you sell it for as high a price as you can. Then you avoid paying as many taxes as possible by exploiting tax havens and loopholes.

The richest person in the world is the world’s biggest legal thief. The richest person in the world has ripped off more people than anyone else in the world. The richest person in the world owes the world a free school that offers instruction in every subject. The richest person in the world can afford to create that school and never have to sacrifice any luxury or necessity in their personal life ever.

If the richest person in the world won’t give the world free education then the smartest people should. MIT has already created a small, free online school. That’s great, but it doesn’t include elementary school lessons on the alphabet or downloadable video clips on how to build and launch a spaceship (yet). If MIT doesn’t have the money to give the world that scope of free education then MENSA should pay for it. If MENSA is so smart then the need to fund a free school should be obvious to them.

If high IQ societies won’t fund a free school then the KKK and other hate groups should. If you feel that another group of people are a burden on society then give them a free online school. Once everyone in the world has equal access to education then we can all be fully trained workers with self-actualized minds, and we’ll all be productive members of society. Plus smart people statistically have fewer children. What more could a hater want? Education is the final solution.

If haters won’t save the world, then religious groups should. Religions claim to want to help people and to not be greedy. Great. Sell all your temples and ridiculous outfits to pay for school. Or be a hypocrite and stand by and watch the world burn knowing that you have the power to save it but chose not to. Yes, the issue really is that black and white.

If religion won’t give the world free school then the people should give it to themselves. People on social networks should collaborate and fund it.

Until then stupid people will continue to destroy the world until there’s nothing left.

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The Rising Tide of Vagrant Intellectuals

Photo of Charles Bukowski sitting at a desk covered in papers, speaking into a microphone, holding a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of alcohol in the other.


Throughout most of human history, the only people who could read were the upper class. Until the invention of the printing press, the upper class was also the only people who could afford books, which all had to be hand-written. Even if a peasant could read, lived in a city with a library, and were allowed in the library he still wouldn’t be able to learn enough to be considered educated, because he wouldn’t have time to learn, because he would have had to work the fields or the factories from morning to night.

The printing press helped make education more affordable and accessible to the poor. Unions gave us the weekend and the 40 hour work week, which gave the poor time to learn. The invention of free public education allowed the poor to learn to read and get a taste for intelligence. Very recently children of blue collar workers have been able to access higher education through grants, scholarships, and loans. Now that the internet exists anyone can research any topic they want through free websites. Anyone can purchase almost any book that exists on, even upper-level college textbooks that used to be only sold at university bookstores.

Towards the beginning of human history, the only people who could ever hope to be intelligent were the wealthiest people on the earth. As a result of social progress and technological advancements access to knowledge has slowly trickled down to the middle class, and now the lower class finally has the same privilege (at least in first world countries).

With the lowest class of society finally having practically unrestricted access to knowledge I see a new class of philosophers and thinkers forming. I call them the vagrant intellectuals, and I have high hopes for them.

Think about this. What is an upper-class socialite going to be inspired to write? A pampered socialite from old money doesn’t have to face the harsh realities of life and isn’t going to be able to relate to the real human condition, and that’s going to be reflected in what they publish: over-worded pseudo-intellectual crap.

But the poor, the dejected, the abused, the chemically dependent dregs of the earth have been bitch slapped by reality, and now they have the educational resources to understand and articulate that experience. Plus they have the technical resources to disseminate their hard-earned knowledge upwards to the rest of society. Plus, they can help the rest of the dregs make sense of their lot in life and articulate their experiences.

The rich are losing their monopoly on literature and intellectual culture. More and more you can expect the poor to shape national dialogue. The more the poor air their experiences and grievances the more well-rounded our understanding of our society will become and the more the world will be forced to acknowledge and rectify the unfair conditions the poor live in.

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