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Food For Thought: Certainty In The Wake Of Doubt

bertrand-russell1-314x400I came across a quote by Bertrand Russell on Facebook the other day. It read: ‎”The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

And I immediately thought: are you certain?

See, I agree with Bertrand Russell – and the person who posted the quote – one hundred percent. But the problem is that the validity of this argument hinges on what the argument itself defines as a symptom of stupidity.

In other words, unless spoken meekly, the quote undermines itself. And if spoken meekly, it doesn’t sound valid.

So, with all due respect, I lean forward and add something to it:

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt… except when identifying the difference between the two. Then the intelligent are cocksure, while the stupid remain stupid. Thankfully intelligent words are more resilient than stupid remarks are, delivering their message well after the stupid who used to shun them have passed away, allowing the stupid that have taken their place to embrace them, because it makes them sound smart. And the world progresses slowly. Very slowly.”

To be fair, the person who posted Russell’s quote on Facebook is not an idiot. On the contrary, he is without a doubt one of the smartest individuals I know.

Did I mention that logic can tie people in knots?


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    You’ve really impressed me with that answer!

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    Bonjour,J’aimerai savoir si la date du 15/12/2011 est toujours confirmée.Je suis allé en boutique SFR ce matin, et les vendeurs ne connaissaient même pas l’existence de ce mobile.(ça fait peur).J’espère vraiment qu’il sortira rapidement……merci pour vos réponses.

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