I personally stopped thinking of anyone as being “dumb” or “stupid” a while ago. I believe now, that there are “stupid” (meaning incorrect) ideas, but not stupid people.
Everyone has “stupid” ideas; in fact, everyone probably has more “stupid” ideas than they have intelligent ideas. Plato, one of the most important people in western philosophy, believed that the earth was at the center of the universe. Despite most of what Plato believed about the world and the universe being wrong, no one would refer to him as “stupid”.
So there is no such thing as “stupid” people. There are, however, close minded people. These are the people that, given overwhelming evidence, refuse to give up their “stupid” ideas despite knowing that their ideas are stupid. This is what irritates me, never stupidity. Stupid people can learn, close minded people cannot. The most frightening thing about this is that intelligent people (people who are rarely incorrect) can be close minded as well.
The reason for this is undoubtedly evolutionary. Close minded people cannot learn, and learning is a human’s primary means of survival. Further, as many other answers have pointed out, being around people who are unable to learn can deplete the chances of survival for people who are able to learn. In fact, the mere existence of close-minded people depletes the chances of survival for everyone. So we have an instinctual urge to shun and even to hate those who we believe to be “stupid” because we have been taught to do so by evolution.
However, it is important to realize that, while being aggressive toward close minded people may increase chances of survival, we can do better. If, instead of being aggressive and hateful, we teach those close minded people to be open minded, then we not only increase our chances of surviving, but also our quality of life.
Evolution does not care about quality of life, it only cares about whether we survive at all. So, it is true that hatred can, in many cases, help us survive, but only love and understanding can allow us to live. It is also the case that being hateful quickly leads to close mindedness, and therefore stupidity.
I think that if every “intelligent” person in the world realized this, the world would be a perfect place.
Written by William Oliver