Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will have come to the conclusion that I am a very knowledgeable, highly intelligent person with thoughtful, watertight views on a wide variety of subjects. After all, this is the entire point of this exercise: convincing the world how great I am. It may therefore come as a big shock to all of you to discover that most of the time I am writing here (or even talking in real life, or even in my inner monologue) I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, I just know a few pieces of information about a topic, which I convince myself are the most important things anyone needs to know about the given topic, which then gives me the right to go on a big rant about it and act like I am an expert. I doubt I am alone in acting like this, as the good people at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal produced a classic graph (pictured below) that relates the willingness of a person to talk about a topic with the amount of knowledge that person has about the topic. As you can see, there are two peaks in the graph, meaning that two different types of people will be interested in ranting about a given topic: those who know a little about it, and those who know a lot about it. The graph designers coin a phrase for this first peak: Mount Stupid. I am here today in defence of the brave souls like me who scale its’ heights as part of their daily lives, and prove that we can contribute actively and productively to any debate, anywhere, on any topic.
Firstly, unlike so-called ‘experts’, residents of Mount Stupid like myself are unburdened by the weight of extensive background literature that combine to produce the understood facts about a topic. These ‘facts’ are often entrenched within the mindsets of the overeducated elite, and rarely questioned by the experts themselves. The oft-quoted phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants”, in reference to the continually moving glacier of scientific progress is relevant here, as in order for science to progress properly, the validity of each giant (and the stability of his shoulders) must be assessed and verified constantly. This verification process must not come from those within a given discipline, but from those on the outside, with fresh eyes and ideas untainted by years of brainwashing within the given scientific discipline. In truth, I would say that in order to argue truly about a topic, one must know as little as possible about it to begin with. Facts and knowledge should not be allowed to get in the way of a good argument, and I believe I have adequately demonstrated that this is to the benefit of humanity as a whole. Therefore the negative connotations associated with Mount Stupid are entirely undeserved.
Tied in with the previous point is of course the environmental aspect. If less information is needed about each topic, it naturally follows that the demand for books will fall. Less books means less paper, which immediately results in more trees. While you may argue that most publishing houses plant at least one tree for every tree felled, the paper industry is about more than deforestation. With processing felled trees, transporting them to and from refining plants and other aspects of their journey to the library, books are responsible for a lot more pollution and terror than you would think. My personal statistics would estimate the average carbon footprint of one felled tree to be almost 60 tons. Many reading this may also argue that nowadays most information is processed online. While this does save our precious environment from the burdens of the tyrannical paper industry, there is still the issue of processing power to energise connected devices. Google alternative Blackle shows in stark terms how much energy is wasted through needless Google searches, often in pursuit of useless entrenched knowledge. Therefore not only are those who frequent Mount Stupid actively saving humanity, we are also saving the planet. Forego the facts, and save the environment.
Finally, and most importantly, the world would be no fun without Mount Stupid. Isn’t it much more entertaining to see a squirming politician, way out of his depth, live on TV, arguing his strong views about the economy rather than a University Professor from the London School of Economics? Isn’t it funnier watching Katie Hopkins trying to convert inane thoughts about British immigration into policy advice on a chat show rather than an actual person? Would you rather the mayor of Sochi had been an intelligent, competent public servant, rather than swearing that there were no gay people in his town and that he didn’t know what the fuss was about? Anyone who wants intelligent, informed people commenting on important topics are only out to spoil everyone else’s fun. This also translates to the private sphere. Imagine you are at a party and, within a group of friends, bring up an interesting article you read about Kim Jong-Un. Nobody else present has read the article, and therefore no one feels comfortable discussing the topic, and immediately awkward silence ensues. In this case, there is a dramatic need for someone to simply spew every single thing they know about the young dictator into the conversation, in order to avoid this awkwardness. Social gatherings need Mount Stupid.
I think I have mentioned in a previous blog that when someone asks me a question, I always try and answer it, regardless of whether I know the answer or not. I would have to say that a large part of that is stubbornness and vanity, and that the rest of it is my academic training, where we are supposedly given the tools to deconstruct any problem and therefore attempt to solve it rationally. This is why you will never hear a university professor admit to not knowing something. Also, I am the guy at the party who meets someone from Belarus, and immediately says everything he knows about that country, which consists entirely of Minsk, Alexander Hleb and Lukaschenko’s moustache. I would have a heated argument anywhere, anytime about the diamond industry drawing entirely on information gleaned from me having watched the movie Blood Diamond, repeatedly listened to the album version of Diamonds of Sierra Leone by Kanye West, and half-remembered drunken anecdotes from a Zimbabwean friend of mine. This is the pinnacle of Mount Stupid, and it feels damn good when no one notices it.