7 Habits That Make Anyone an Idiot
It’s a temporary state for some, self-permanent for others
Written by Jessica Wildfire
During a debate, someone asked Bill Nye what — if anything — could change his mind about evolution.
“One piece of evidence,” he said.
His opponent, Ken Ham, said nothing would ever convince him to change his mind. To me, this sums up idiocy in its purest form.
My husband grew up in a different world. He attended private Christian schools all the way through college. At one point, he changed his mind about a wide range of
Evidence has that effect on people.
The word “idiot” isn’t a word I use lightly. I’ve been called an idiot (sometimes for good reason). It cuts deeper than just about anything you could say. And yet,
some people have earned the title.
1. They refuse to change their mind.
Intelligent people change their minds often. They don’t do it because they’re fickle, spineless, or immoral. They do it because the world is complicated. We’re always
finding out new information. We adjust their worldview to accommodate what’s new.
Idiots base their self-worth completely on their opinions. They equate opinions with beliefs and values.
When you challenge their opinion, they see it as a personal attack on every single part of their identity.
Reality attacks them every day.
They’ve never learned how to change their mind, because they’ve never tried. It’s not entirely their fault. Their culture has taught them that changing your mind too
much shows weakness. When you disagree with an idiot, it’s like you’re already calling them one.
2. They have to win every single argument.
It would be one thing if idiots lived their own lives according to their own values and principles.
But living doesn’t make idiots happy.
Idiots feel the need to control everyone around them, which also means they start arguments they know they’ll lose.
They lose because they don’t understand what an argument
is. Intelligent people see arguments as exchanges of information, attitudes, opinions, and
values, and all that great stuff.
You can’t “win” an argument.
Intelligent people don’t see debates as contests. They see them as opportunities to share their thoughts. They know they’ll come away with
new perspectives they didn’t have earlier.
3. They despise difference and diversity.
Idiots feel threatened by anyone who doesn’t look, sound, think, or act exactly the way they do.
To feel safe, idiots need everything around them to reflect and reinforce the identity they already have.
They have such an insecure sense of self, they’re afraid that being around difference will change them.
Idiots base their identity largely on their ability to conform. When all you do is conform, your mind can’t handle difference.
They see new attitudes and ideas as contagious, especially when they come from other cultures.
Idiots like the saying, “Everyone’s entitled to an opinion.” Of course, they don’t really mean this. That’s why idiots get so upset when someone expresses any kind
of opinion they find unappealing.
4. They dehumanize others with ease.
Once or twice, I’ve gotten into arguments with idiots. They’re always the first to start with name-calling. They’ll insult your physical appearance first, and go from
When idiots run out of reasons and facts, the slurs come out.
They know it’s an effective way to end a debate, and gives them the illusion they’ve won simply by hurting someone.
You might stop and wonder if the term “idiot” itself is dehumanizing.
But idiots are people who just need to calm down and stop forcing their lifestyles on everyone else and claiming to be the only voice worth hearing.
That’s all intelligent people want from idiots.
We don’t need idiots to give up their family, language, values, or their homes— as they’ve so often expected of others.
But this is exactly what idiots expect of everyone else.
They justify their violence by denying the very humanity of the people they can’t stand for being different.
5. They love hurting things.
Idiots enjoy causing pain and suffering. It starts small with bugs and plants then escalates with animals.
Any living creature that can’t fight back, they want to cause it harm.
We tend to relegate this kind of behavior to psychopaths, because we don’t want to acknowledge how prevalent it is. For idiots, anything less than human exists to suffer
for their entertainment.
And so we get dog fighting and sport hunting.
It’s not entirely their fault. Idiots receive a lot of violence in a lot of forms. They grow up thinking the only way to process their own trauma is to inflict more
of it on other people.
They believe hurting things protects them from being hurt, and heals what happened to them in the past.
So they’ll beat their wives and kids. And if they can’t inflict violence on
you, they’ll do everything to make it clear that they can. They’ll make it clear that they
want to, and that they’re just waiting for an excuse. So we get huge trucks and tail-gating on highways.
6. They laugh at the suffering of others.
Years ago, one of my students wrote a paper describing a disturbing incident. He and his friends were exercising at a gym when they saw a skinny kid try to bench press
too much weight.
He didn’t have a spotter, so he lay there squirming under the bar begging for help. Instead of helping him, my student encouraged his friends to mock the poor kid for
thinking he was stronger than he was.
I gave the paper an F.
In my comments, I told him that apart from the typos and huge font size, the paper showed no hint of reflection or self-awareness. I wrote something like, “You couldn’t
laugh at him after
helping?” He complained to my department chair. The chair suggested he drop the course and try something that didn’t require too much thinking.
Weakness is funny to idiots.
They’re so confident in their own mental and physical superiority, they can’t fathom that day in the future when they’ll need help. When that day comes,
they won’t acknowledge the help they get. They’ll see it as something they earned. To idiots, help is vulgar.
7. They live to offend.
Idiots justify their behavior by elevating themselves above everyone else.
them to constantly mock and demean anyone who isn’t like them, or who disagrees with them.
Their winner-take-all attitude includes trash talking the ones they’ve already taken everything from.
Their offensive remarks act as a smokescreen. They honestly believe the awful things they say about other people, because if someone else is that bad, then they deserve
what’s happening to them.
When you live to offend, you also live to be offended. It’s a short, easy high that leaves you wanting more.
Anyone can be an idiot.
Idiocy transcends race, class, religion, and gender. I’ve met idiots from around the world. Idiots have a way of thinking that they’re always right. They hate changing
their minds. They think difference is contagious, because they lack a sophisticated, flexible sense of identity.
If they can’t be what they’ve always been, then they’re nobody.
Idiots have a way of thinking only
are entitled to certain things. Everyone else is unworthy.
This isn’t a pleasant way to live — always scared, always offended, always angry and looking for someone to take it out on.
We’ve all felt what it’s like to live this way, at some point or another. Then we woke up. We realized how miserable we were. We wondered what it would be like to just
let a few things go for once. We wondered what it would feel like to release our need to control everyone and everything around us. Far from what we feared, it was liberating.
Idiots can change. I know this because I’ve been one.