Tuesday, February 15, 2011
My continuing exploration of the lesser-known proverbs of Poor Richard led me recently to this bit of wisdom:
A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.
You either want to be governed by the "best and the brightest" or you do not. I think we know where Ben Franklin would have come down on that question.
Discuss "blockheadism" and Poor Richard's proposition with reference to today's American political divide.
Well, you just have to scan through some of Instapundit's "credentialed, not educated" posts to see Poor Richard's point. Especially when elected officials show less understanding of the constitution (for example) than the general population.
I am also saddened that adults today seem less interested in deliberate self-education outside of academic settings than they did in the past. Dennis Prager blames this trend partly on the constant pressure to go to college even if one has no real interest in academics. People are more likely to educate themselves if education is not viewed as a necessary but very unpleasant and often irrelevant drudgery.
Consider this from the perspective of information theory.
An elite leader may be smarter, may know more than any of the other 300 million Americans. But no elite leader knows more, or is smarter than, ALL of the other 300 million Americans.
That line sums up Paul Krugman perfectly.
Of course, so many from the Democratic Partisan devotion seem to fit this pattern.
It is knowing one is flawed, imperfect, mistaken, which produces a desire to study the facts - to "get it right". WFB was a fine example of seeking a greater existence via the truth.
Perhaps hubris can aid this ignorant folly posing as "enlightened" nonsense.
It's even possible that an elite leader may not know more than the first 400 people in the Boston telephone directory.
And some elite leaders - the ones Poor Richard might called "blockheads" - may even substitute education for thinking.