“On September 18th we will, for all intents and purposes, be independent.”
There is a difference between being ignorant and being stupid but many times people confuse the two. Ignorance comes from not knowing enough about a situation to really understand it while stupid comes from an innate inability to piece together information and come up with a coherent understanding of the situation. Being in a state of ignorance is not (generally) a person’s fault; I mean, how can any of us know what we don’t know? I am ignorant of all sorts of things to the extent that I am ignorant about how ignorant I am (I better stop this or I will come over all ‘Donald Rumsfeld’ and start wittering on about unknown unknowns – google it if you are ignorant of what I am writing about) but I am not stupid by anyone’s measure and anyone who suggests otherwise is trying to bully me or sell me something.
Scotland is full of ignorant people who are treated as if they are stupid by the vested interests that run this country of ours. Sometimes the ignorance leads to people growing up hating foreigners, Catholics, Protestants or English people and sometimes that ignorance is so ingrained that it becomes indistinguishable from stupidity as some people are unable or so unwilling to absorb new information as it comes their way. It is not always easy to transition from a state of ignorance to being informed because sometimes it is not simply that we lack information about a subject or idea but that we already have the ‘wrong’ information in our brains that we have to over-write it and completely rejig our thinking on a certain subject. That can be very hard to do but if you don’t, that is when you become stupid, no matter how high your IQ is.
Our real ignorance lies in the field of economics, politics, immigration, welfare, education, health care, the military, law and order and history. Such things are not mathematics, physics, biology or chemistry where things are either right or wrong (though each generation of scientists revises what we once thought we knew to be true) but are in the realm of ideas and is subject to interpretation. Highly educated people with advanced degrees (ie. measurably not-stupid) can be just as ignorant as the person who dropped out of school at fifteen because they lose sight of the fact that economics are not physics. Educated people like to think that they are informed on pretty much everything and hate to be considered (or consider themselves) ignorant so are just as susceptible to believing false information coming through the media and from their friends and colleagues.
And this is what Better Together, and their allies, are banking on. Educated and not so educated people who are afraid to be seen as ignorant because they fear being labelled ‘stupid’. So they spread stories which just aren’t true but fit into our existing framework of how we think about the country, our economy and the public institutions we use throughout our lives but rarely think about (health, education, law, etc.). And people believe them because they are getting told a version of what they already ‘know’.
You can’t fix stupid but you can fix ignorance. If you are, like me, ignorant about many issues you can go and get informed. Or you can listen to the stories handed to you by people who want to manipulate you into doing something that benefits them. But that sounds pretty much like being stupid to me.
A guest post by Macart
I don’t think its too out there by this point to hazard a theory that the Westminster political establishment (cross party natch), Better Together (cross party ditto), and their assorted chums in the media (need we add), are counting on you believing that things are scary as hell out there in the big bad world.
We’re supposed to be too cowed by their obvious class, status and intellectual armoury to think about their assessment and either too apathetic or unworthy to risk change. We’re the low esteem, low intelligence voters, by their lights, and hammered on a daily basis with waves of just how pish our chances are of ever making something of ourselves. Their intent is to convince you that you don’t know enough about anything for your vote to have meaning. That the principle of independence and running a country is so complex…
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