Don’t Be an Idiot!

The classical idea of ‘Idiot’ really means ‘private person,’ detached from the society around you. 

-Aristotle’s conception of human’s as ‘Political Animals’
-The trends are that things overwhelmingly getting better (poverty, education, literacy, child mortality, cures to disease)
-If you are a historical idiot (in the ancient Greek sense), you’ll definitely be really idiot, in the pejorative sense

Don’t want to be an intellectual idiot? Don’t be a historical idiot. 

-Aside: Gratitude for our current time in human history

Related Articles:

Related Sites:

Make Ideas Great for You

3 Ways to Make Ideas For You (and this includes making a discussion of ideas more enjoyable and exciting)

“Men and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence; you can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons; the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things; the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas.”

Henry Thomas Buckle

Three Steps to Take, to Make Ideas Great for You

1. Immerse don’t averse
2. Know the Basics (and admit your ignorance)
3. Run your kingdom, not your Serfdom: Build Your Legacy, Not Your Creature Comforts


  • Ideas can transcend division (for instance, Racism, see my article here)
  • Unify differences
  • Bring commonality from differences
  • Transcend provincialism
  • Grow a perennial moral community, beyond your city, state, time, and culture

Other Links About Ideas

Diagnosing and Correcting Racism: In Two Steps

To Cure Racism You Must Be Negative: Racism is a kind of Low-Resolution Ascription error

What if I told you that we can correct racism in two steps? 

First, understanding the root cause.  Second, educating ourselves and children, without failing to mark the real root of racism, as distinguished from the insidious errors that create new forms of prejudice and injustice. This article will primarily address the first. 

What if racism was– at root– a kind of intellectual mistake, which is only cured rationally and intellectually? If this was the case, then only educational programs, and rational argument, would be able to correct it. In this article, three diagnoses of racism will be considered, favoring the theory that racism is at its basic root, a form of crude fallacy about human characteristics. Specifically, it will be maintained that racism is generated from a Hasty Ascription of moral and intellectual value from a superficial characteristic. Additionally, it will address racism at the level of belief, which has the benefit of clarifying racism in subsequent manifestations of human activity. That is, if racism is based on the belief-level, then the subsequent human activities that are based on these beliefs will make sense, assuming that our diagnosis is right. 

Given any ill in society, if the diagnosis is wrong, you should worry that the prescription may be wrong too (or worse, detrimental). Most people are not racists. However, some people may try to fight what they think is racism, yet actually fortify the core cause of racism. In order for us to truly fight racism, we must understand what the core of racism is. The chart below features three diagnoses and three prescriptions. The one on the left is the one favored by this author. Only the Hasty Ascription Race Diagnosis is obviously demonstrable, while the others might vaguely seem to be true, but on careful analysis are not. 

  • The Hasty Ascription Account identifies the problem of racism as a positive problem, wrongly weighting superficial characteristics as substantial. This account provides a negative solution.
  • The Positive Inequality Accounts identifies the problem of racism as an inequality problem, providing a positive solution that equalizes in the inequality of characteristic, or membership.

The Hasty  Ascription Race diagnosis holds that racism is basically a low-resolution assumption that superficial characteristics are substantial characteristics. The Superficialist and Tribalist diagnoses are not subject to falsification though, since they are prejudices without evidence. 

The Superficialist, which is the first kind of Positive Inequality account, holds that the root of racism relates to an inequality between a person with a characteristic, in contrast to another person with a variation of the same characteristic. For instance, the Superficialist holds that there is a problem with thinking that a brown person is better than a black person. However, the prescribed ‘solution’ commits the very error diagnosed by the Hasty  Ascription Race diagnosis. 

The Tribalist account is similar to the Superficialist account, but instead of directly connecting a superficial characteristic like skin color to something morally/intellectually relevant, in a particular person, it does so through an emphasis on membership of a tribe or group (which is based on a superficial characteristic). This is the second kind of Positive Inequality account. The mistake is the same in form as the previous: It regards the problem of racism as unequal results, assuming that each Tribe has a given moral and intellectual value. This view ascribes substantial worth to Tribal membership, just as the Superficialist ascribes substantial worth to some superficial characteristic.

Notice, that if the Hasty Ascription Race diagnosis is right, then the Superficialist and Tribalist diagnosis and prescription are wrong. Worse than this, if the Hasty Ascription Race diagnosis is right, those trying to cure racism through the positive ascription of value to skin color are in fact guilty of the root of racism itself (determining moral and intellectual from superficial characteristics).  

Consider that only one of the diagnoses is demonstrably true: the Hasty Ascription Diagnosis. This diagnosis is clearly seen by simply noticing that 

  1. Skin Color ≠ Moral/Intellectual Value 
  2. Genetic Descent ≠ Moral/Intellectual Value

All that is necessary to show this, is that there are high and low outliers in whatever group one chooses. Some groups known for being good at math aren’t. Some groups know for being ignorant aren’t. Some groups know for being deceitful aren’t. Obvious, right? The Hasty Ascription diagnosis explains why. Being hasty, and over-weighting a superficial characteristic, as if it was morally or intellectually relevant, this is precisely the root problem.  

It is negative, in the logical sense, since it says that something ‘does not’ equal something else. Instead of positively ascribing some property, quality, or value to something, it says that we are NOT warranted to go from superficial aspect to substantial property, quality, or value. It doesn’t positively give any meaningful data about a given person. If one observed to see a particular superficial quality, like their color, tribe, etc, the Hasty Ascription Diagnosis says what racism is and what it is not.  If a person concludes something moral/intellectual from a superficial characteristic, then they are guilty of the very prejudice that spawns racism. As such, a person fighting racism by means of applying this prejudice, are themselves fueling the fire that they pretend to be fighting.  Superficialist or Tribabalist ‘solution,’ is guilty of the core problem diagnosed by the Hasty Ascription diagnosis. 

If we want to correct racism, we must understand the core issue, which is ascribing substantial relevance to superficial qualities like skin color, geographic origin, historical background, etc. Since none of these aspects guarantees any information about a person’s moral or intellectual worth, it is a mistake to weigh those characteristics beyond reason. 

Furthermore, the solution to racism must be negative, in the sense that no positive ascription is made from any superficial characteristic. See the chart to see differences in how the problems are diagnoses, solved, and how they manifest in terms of beliefs, judgement, actions, and their ideal manifestation. 

So, in order to correct racism, we must seek to accomplish two things: First, understanding the root cause. Second, educating ourselves and children, without failing to mark the real root of racism, as the Superficialists and the Tribalists do.

Our account fits with MLK’s quote here:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The Superficialist and Tribalist accounts do not fit with MLK’s vision, nor with common sense.

A more elaborated article will be forthcoming.

5 Steps of a Rational Analysis for Voting, Controversial Issues, and General Thinking

First, Put some major issues on the table, like racism, abortion, socialism-vs-capitalism, war, and education. Think about how passionate people are screeching at each other about these issues. Take a step back, and consider any of these issues through the following steps.

1. Diagnostic: What is the real problem?

2. Prescription: Given the diagnosis, what is the best solution?

3. Theoretical Dimensions/conflicts/foundations

4. Historical Application

5. Current Application

Watch for these: 

  • Watch for emotional appeals/divisive
  • Presumptive characterizations of the problems that need to investigate

Tips That You Can Do Now

  • Suspend judgement, admit ignorance, be impartial-before-partisan
  • Seek to know the basic beliefs of the people you are studying
  • Self-Test: if you agree with every policy from a given person or group, chances are, you’re not even thinking things through

Controversy for Progress

Do you want to make the world a more peaceful? Have more discussion, not less. Have more controversy, not less. Similar to teaching a young person to drink moderately, rather than teaching them to embrace abstinence, wrestling with controversial subject matter is a must for an intelligent and free person. It is better for the person, and better for the society.

Consider this quote from Tolstoy:

“If everyone made war only according to his own convictions, there would be no war.” Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Page 25

Basic assumptions

  1. Some problems are properly solved intellectually, rationally, and voluntary (almost everything important)

2. Some problems solved with violence (some break into your house, attacks you, invades your country, etc)

3. Moral and intellectual virtues are like muscles, with practice they are developed, with disuse, they atrophy.

Ground Rules for Rational Discussion:

  • No fallacies (no irrelevant attacks, but focus on the argument at hand; see my articles on Fallacies here, here, )
  • Respect for Truth and Right (see my article Rational Discussion)
  • Respect for the Other Members of the Discussion

Negatives of avoiding controversy

  • Avoiding controversy atrophies your own convictions.
  • Avoiding controversy is itself a statement of relevance (something that can be compartmentalized into another part of your life, means that you are not willing to confront the ill effects of taking a public stand)
  • Avoiding controversy allows for collecting false friends and superficial associations (think of Aristotle’s analysis of Friendship, based on Utility, Pleasure, Goodness)

Positives of regularly confronting controversy

  • If you can be the person that confronts controversy, then you can be a leader, and a force for good (leaders confront controversial issues)
  • If you’re regularly investing in dealing with substantial matters, then the superficial matters are getting less attention
  • If you develop your intellect and your moral courage, then you are encouraging all those around you to be better people (wrestling with controversy does just that)
  • Positively changes your investment of time and energy (think about when people compare the salary of NBA stars to teachers, or soldiers, and some lament that the stars should get less; with a bit of economics in mind, in a free market, people who support the sport, vote with their dollar to give players raises. When you devote your time and money to being more intelligent, well-spoken, and positively-influential, then you’re investing in education)

What can you do to help develop yourself and others

  • Organize your thoughts on controversial matters
  • Understand the moral and rational implications of moral and rational thought: the implications actually matter- meaning, if you find that one of your core beliefs is wrong, than you are obligated to modify your beliefs; if you find that your lifestyle is wrong, than you are obligated to change your lifestyle (if you aren’t willing to do that, are you a person of integrity at all?)

Homework for your personal growth

  • Make a list of controversial issues that are live today
  • Articulate in writing what you think on them
  • Expose the argument that you think is compelling in front of others (be respectful, though)
  • If you don’t feel comfortable talking about these things, in front of your friends, family, coworkers, ask yourself why this is the case.
  • Explore these topics: God, Economic Theory, Abortion, Racism, Gun Rights, Euthanasia, Charity vs Taxed Welfare, Socialism vs Capitalism

Great websites along similar lines:

Reasons for Being Educated

Here are some strong reasons to be educated.

First, without education, your very world is smaller and lower-resolution.

Second, without education, you can’t explain why experts might be quite wrong.

Third, without education, you can’t tell the difference true things from counterfeit things, true authority, from a counterfeit authority, true wisdom, from folly.

Where do you get an education? It has never been easier. Never has there been easier access to knowledge and wisdom than now. I’m not talking about spending your time and money at a University. In fact, there are legitimate questions about whether college is even an effective route to education.

Viewed from a different vantage, simply, a true education will transform you, and it will allow you to see the world differently, and do things differently.

For similar articles:

Great courses to take control of your education: Liberty Classroom.

Related Websites:

False Liberalism (Fascism Education/Ideology) vs True Liberal Education

Have You Been Educated?

Three Differences Between True Liberal Education, from False-Liberal Education

First Difference: Liberal Education Develops the Authority of Reason, but False-Liberal Education the Authority of State/Party/Group

Second Difference: Liberal Education Develops Freedom of the Person, from the Passions, and from the State, but False-Liberalism Cultivates the Passions for Service to the Party/State/Institutions

Third Difference: Liberal Education Emphasizes Unity Above Division, but False-Liberalism Emphasizes Division, for Motivating Passions for the Party’s Goals

4 Tests for See if You’ve Received a LIberal Education:

1. What can you question? Are things open for discussion, or are discussions shut down because they are ‘harmful’?
2. Do you believe that feeling is more important than reasoning? (than you probably, are yet to be liberalized)
3. What rules you? Passions or principles?
4. Does your party/group/tribe seek understanding or compliance?

Recap in Other Words

-But Fascism cultivates a ‘party’ identity, where being obedient to the party narrative is constantly echoed, and getting its members ‘aware’ of its favorite issues
-Liberal Education makes you an independent thinker, not a passionate follower
-Liberal Education makes you an independent citizen, not a mere member that echoes
-Liberal Education helps you guard against the tyranny of the self, as well as the tyranny of the State, not the blind support of the party’s causes

What do you think?

For a more complete discussion on this, see Adler’s book on Reforming Education.

Some short articles on Mortimer Adler can found here:

Check Out More:

Intro to Rational Discussion

What is the Point of a Rational Discussion?

 How do you have a rational discussion?

What are some necessary conditions of rational discussion?

Here are some answers:

Goals of a Rational Discussion: Not winning, but cooperatively getting to the truth.Means: Argument construction, weighing of premises, logical validity, testing conclusions against the rest of our knowledge

Necessary Conditions: Logical axioms, minimal real contact with reality beyond the world, goodwill towards your dialectical opponent (the person you’re talking to). 

Less Systematically: You can’t reason well if…

  1. If you don’t want truth first, and winning second

2. If you can’t discerner between emotions and reasoning, 

3. If you efuse to admit that you might be wrong, 

4. If you don’t believe that you’re in a cooperative enterprise,

 5. If you don’t respect the results of reasoning (otherwise, reasoning has no authority) 

For additional resources check out my other articles here:

For similar articles, check out these resources:

For courses to help develop your logic skills:

Check out this Introduction to Logic course at Liberty Classroom.

Life is a Miraculous Adventure

Life is a Miraculous Adventure: 
Two Quotes for Your Life: 
1. “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”― G.K. Chesterton
2. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Churchill said something similar:

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

If you like this content, like and share, and check out these related posts: Things You Can Fail at Now, Failure is Essential for GrowthThe Relevance of Reason and the Curious Absence of Logic in Public SchoolsThree Tips to Make the World a Better PlaceWhat Would You Suffer For?

Here are some similar websites that are also great:

Chesterton: Chesterton and the Meaning of Progress—The Imaginative Conservative

Einstein: On living live and miracles by Albert Einstein (Gurteen Knowledge)

***Correction, I misquoted Oscar Wilde in the video. In fact, I was thinking of this quote:

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Things You Can Fail at Now

Things That You Can Fail at Now: 
1. Start making some substantial videos (helping somebody, in some way; Thirty Days of Live videos?)
2. Write a Book (something you know about, or can get from research)
3. Apply for a Job that you think is above your head
4. Pretend that you’re an adult, and have rational discussions with friends and family (I’m being a little glib, maybe, but by explaining what you believe- and why-to others, you develop yourself)

**Wondering Why You Want to Fail? Check out my previous video**
For similar content, check out: Failure is Essential for Growth, The Relevance of Reason and the Curious Absence of Logic in Public Schools, Three Tips to Make the World a Better Place, What Would You Suffer For?