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I consider my really good friend one of the smartest people I’ve met. He is an aspiring poet and right now is teaching for a few years before getting his MFA. He told me recently that he intentionally tries to avoid learning (or at least any formal or in-depth learning) about both economics and philosophy, because he thinks ignorance in those fields will lead him to live a happier life. I think he might be right, but I can’t help think he is missing out on a lot of knowledge and truth about the world, even if it might make him unhappier. I guess he is free to do what he wants — do you have any thoughts about his choice?
An aspiring poet? What a gigantic a**hole.
Listen, there’s nothing wrong with not being smart. We’re all born into this world with a certain amount of brains, and it’s perfectly fine not having the intellectual capacity to study economics or philosophy.
There’s also nothing wrong with having no interest in those fields, but that’s not what’s happening here. This guy is deliberately being lazy, and it’s disgusting for someone to intentionally avoid learning truths about the world because he thinks ignorance is bliss — especially someone with the brass balls to call himself a poet.
It’s bad enough when willful ignorance is the byproduct of some dogmatic belief system, but it’s absolutely repulsive when it’s a voluntary act by an intelligent person who just can’t be bothered.
Sure, he’s free to do what he wants, but this guy is an intellectual sloth not worthy of your respect.
Do you really believe in endings? I’m starting to think that there’s no such thing. What we consider an ending is actually just a transition into something different.
Of course I believe in endings. Life ends, my friend. One day yours will too, and as far as you’re concerned, it won’t matter much what happens to the rest of the universe after that, because there will be no “you” to experience it.
It’s fine if you want to incorporate conservation laws of mass and energy into your metaphysical belief system, and it’s fine if you want to imagine some sort of nebulous universal eternity, but you’re fooling yourself if you think it applies to you or your consciousness.
When it’s all said and done, dead is dead, and the only thing you’ll transition into is worm food.
I’m 21, and I feel like every time I think I get closer to “knowing myself better,” I’m actually wrong, and I need to start all over again. Why is my own identity so difficult to be understood by my own self?
You’re never starting all over again. It only feels that way because you think knowing yourself and acknowledging an identity are the same thing.
My friend Joe says he wants women to discuss how they “don’t have to make an effort” regarding “sex, dating, sports, lifting things, buying drinks.” What should I say to him?
If at all possible, ignore him. If you can’t do that, challenge him. Whatever you do, don’t discuss anything with him. All Joe really wants is the debate. He wants you to counter his opinion by saying that women do have to make an effort. He wants you to validate his ignorance by establishing that this is an argument that naturally has two sides worth defending. It doesn’t. Joe is simply wrong.
If you choose to challenge him, the trick is to come at him with a barrage of Socratic questioning. Force Joe to justify his own opinions with something more than anecdotal evidence. He won’t be able to do it, because idiots who are wrong can’t make a rational argument based on facts.
Practice saying the phrases, “What’s your point?” “Where are you getting your information?” and “Why do you believe that?”
Remember, don’t let it become a debate. He’ll want to know your opinion so he’ll have something to attack, but you should never feel like you have to defend a position. You are not responsible for proving the opposite of his opinion. The burden of proof is on Joe.
You don’t have to prove that you’re right. Joe is the one who has to prove that he’s not wrong, and if he tries shifting the argument to you, simply say, “It doesn’t matter what I think. You’re the one who has to justify your beliefs.”
Inevitably, he will try and rile you up by pushing your buttons, because once you’ve backed him into a corner of his own ignorance, the only thing he’ll have left to do is get you flustered with comments that are rude, mean, or personal.
Stay cool, and don’t get emotional. When it starts to break down, just say, “It sounds like you still have a lot to think about,” and gracefully exit the conversation.
Don’t expect to change Joe’s mind, and don’t expect to “win.” There’s not supposed to be a winner, just one loser talking himself into a circle.
Email your questions to Coquette at firstname.lastname@example.org
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