About my Blog

I am writing this blog from a radical political point of view. To be a political radical is to examine everything critically. It is about taking today's news, today's unmentioned news, history, or even just the way we think about ideas, and adding a totally new perspective to them. If you are a radical, and a socialist, like me, you will agree with a lot of what I have to say. If not, I hope I at least make you think about things that you previously took for granted. Most of all, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

About Me

I have just graduated from college, where I wrote opinion pieces for my school newspaper. Though I started out a liberal, I have moved far to the left since then. Despite my politics being different from most people, many people found a lot of what I had to say interesting and insightful. I hope to continue challenging people to think here on my blog.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Rule: Thinking You're Smarter Than Everyone Else Doesn't Make it So

This was too long to post on the huffington post. I imagine that this "new rule" is the one that Bill Maher will do tonight on his show. Anyway, here is a link to it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/new-rule-smart-president_b_253996.html

He basically says that Americans are stupid, and that the "founding fathers" were wise to oppose democracy. I sometimes like what Bill Maher says, and at least he speaks his mind. But I've always been annoyed when he insists that the American people are the problem, and not the elites who control them. And when I look at what is on the news, and what people are told, I'm impressed that people are as skeptical as they are. Here is what I was going to write:

It is elitist to sit there, and find the worst polls, claim that America is stupid, and then suggest that the framers were right to oppose democracy. Ask most Americans, and I think you will find they have some interesting things to say. The trick is that you have to look under the surface. Which statement is more insightful: "Iraq is located next to Iran," or "Both political parties are corrupt?" I would say the second. Even though the second statement fails to explain how or why, the first statement is simply trivia and provides no insight at all. Regarding Iraq, it is more important to oppose the American occupation than it is to locate it on a map. You are not intellligent if you can find it on the map, name all the cities, cite the history, and then conclude that democracy can created at the barrel of a gun.

The second problem is what people have been taught. For example, I think that people believe in creationism because they haven't been taught evolution properly. It is usually thought of the way Lamarck conceived of it, not Darwin. Lamarck thought that giraffes gradually grew longer necks because they stretched them in order to reach the tall trees. Darwin argued that instead, the giraffes with shorter necks died off, because they couldn't reach the trees, while a few who happened to have longer necks due to a mutation survived.

Whose fault is that? How many people who bought Lamarck's theory did so because they weren't taught the proper theory of evolution?

And then of course, we can't forget apathy. The intuition that politicians are corrupt, while simplistic, is correct. This causes people to give up, because they have been persuaded there is no alternative. Consequently, they don't pay attention to politics, and therefore don't know anything.

We ultimately have a choice. Either we can have an elite that looks out for their own interests at the expense of everyone else, or we can have democracy. What we can't have is an elite that looks out for the people's best interest instead of their own.


  1. Your third paragraph is very well put. As much as I like Bill Maher and those like him, you're right, people like him who are supposed to be inteligent and expose the flaws in politics can be just as sensationalist as the media who they criticize. However, I don't have as much faith in Americans as you do. And I feel with an issue such as evolution for example, after talking with people I know at college who don't believe in evolution, that its not so much a lack of knowledge on the subject, as it is a state of denial that is very hard to reverse.

  2. That's interesting that you say that about people who don't believe in evolution. I would guess that there is variation amongst those that don't believe in it, just as there amongst those that do.

    But think about it. We can talk about the scientific notion of verifying everything until we're blue in the face, but we guess on everything. And we are rigid about things we can't possibly know. I've had to eat my own words many times, even though I was sure I was right. You might remember back in the day when I thought marijuana should remain illegal because I was ignorant about what it is and what it does.

    I change my mind more than other people. The only way I could be writing this blog is if I was both opinionated and open minded at the same time. Still it should be difficult to change your mind, otherwise no one would ever have any opinions on anything, and people would be afraid to do anything. Society would simply collapse, with no one ever making decisions.

    The trickiest thing though is convincing people that they might be wrong. I have actually heard someone say that they read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the U.S.," but they weren't sure they could believe it, because it was just too crazy. Thinking outside the box is painful, and necessary.