The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.
On some subconscious level, we all place a lot of trust in perceived authority. Think about those TV commercials where they say four out of five dentists recommend this particular toothpaste… and inevitably there’s someone in a white lab coat telling us this. We know this person is probably just an actor and not a dentist or some sort of scientist, but the white lab coat gives off the illusion of authority and they deliver this “fact” with an air of confidence.
On an intellectual level, we know that confidence on its own does not equate to truth. Just because someone is saying something with confidence doesn’t mean that we should be taking this information at face value and that we should believe it. Conversely, just because someone isn’t completely sure about what they’re saying doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is without value, merit or credibility. If anything, the reverse may be true.
Even though the Charles Bukowski quote above was clearly uttered years ago, as he passed away in 1994, it feels profoundly appropriate given the current political climate in the United States. I don’t normally talk politics here on Beyond the Rhetoric, as I don’t feel especially qualified to do so, but the number of false statements made by Donald Trump continues to grow at an alarming rate.
Many people don’t trust politicians, and perhaps rightfully so, but we’d like to think that what they present as fact should be based in reality. The problem is that the people who scream the loudest, the ones most confident in their claims (whether they’re true or not), are the ones most likely to be heard. Meanwhile, the skeptical majority in the middle tends to be ignored, because they have their doubts and they’re less likely to speak up.
People commonly say that ignorance is bliss and, to some extent, that’s true. A narrow world view bolsters confidence, because it’s all you know. The thing is that the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. The more you learn, the more you realize how much more there is to learn. For many of us, it feels like we’re just smart enough to be unhappy, because we know there’s so much more out there to learn, to know and to experience.
And so, we have our doubts.
I’m not saying that all confident people are stupid and all doubtful people are intelligent. That’s far too much of a generalization and the truth is never quite so simple. And yes, it certainly pays to be stubborn sometimes, approaching life with a steadfast confidence despite all the signs that you should give up and turn back. It’s not easy.
Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.
Even if you have your doubts–especially if you have your doubts–heed the advice of Charles Bukowski and just start by getting out of bed. And approach the world with an air of healthy skepticism.