How to Reason With Stupid People

Okay, I know… I keep promising that I will never resort to insult humor, and then I go and write mean-spirited stuff about Donald Trump and other Republicans.   But I need to point out that as a middle school English teacher for 24 of my 31 teaching years, I had to talk to a lot of stupid.  And I am not being mean when I say that.  Unformed, immature minds are full of misinformation and wrong-way pig-headedness.  Those are both synonyms of “stupid”, aren’t they?  And I have the further disadvantage of being a freakishly high level of smart.  I have a lot of experience dealing with stupid.

HarkerAnd it often begins with, “Well, I know you are very, very smart, but I have common sense!”  That’s how the argument started this morning with my beloved wife.  When we are wrestling with financial and health and family problems, we always start with the assumption that I am completely wrong and headed for disaster.  An acceptable compromise is when the two of us talk it out for an hour, with me listening and agreeing and her laying on me a thick layer of sometimes-aromatic common-sense solutions.  We reach a compromise, by which we mean I accept that she is right and I am wrong.  And then we talk about the yes-buts.  “Yes, but have you thought about the consequences of that expense when it comes to the APR on your credit cards?”   “Yes, but if you talk to your boss that way, would she consider firing you?”  “Yes, but if you give that prized possession to our son as a gift of love, will he be resentful if you take it away again as a punishment for a minor error?”  Sometimes the common sense people have to be gently reminded that their simple solution might need to be looked at from the back side as well.  (Don’t get me wrong.  I am not calling my wife “stupid” here.  She is not.  And I am not looking to make a fatal mistake in my blog.)

witch of creek valley

It helps when talking and reasoning with stupid people that they know you really love and respect them.  When I have to talk politics with my more Republican relatives, well, I have to be very reasonable and polite.  Some of them are clinging to toxic candidates that, if they elect them, are going to do the exact opposite of what is good for people in their socio-economic group.  Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are intentionally playing on the fears and prejudices of people that are thinking with their “lizard brain” instead of their higher-level thinking functions.  It helps them to see that you care enough to explain things like “socialism” and “labor unions” and “taxes” in simple terms that help them to grasp that there is a good side to those things as well as a bad.

Cool School Blue

A large part of the lives of stupid people is the pain and uncertainty that being a part of humanity brings to them.  So many of them have no idea of the value of what they do and who they are.  They are so caught up in the pain of being themselves that they never realize how much the world around them appreciates and loves them.  They don’t understand that being stupid is the common condition of mankind, and just because they are not as smart as God himself, it doesn’t make them bad.  Sometimes the only way to talk to stupid people is to stop thinking of them as stupid, and reassure them that you love them and you will do everything you can to help them.  If you say it and mean it, they will not be stupid people any more.

“And that is all I have to say about that…”  -Forrest Gump

5 Comments

Filed under empathy, humor, Paffooney

5 responses to “How to Reason With Stupid People

  1. Thanks Forrest. You are doing your diplomatic best.

  2. Pingback: Lying as a Form of Social Responsibility | Catch a Falling Star

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