Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago · 5 min. reading time · ~10 ·

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Exploring the Tragedy of Intellectual Laziness

Exploring the Tragedy of Intellectual Laziness

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Have you ever wondered what really causes war, economic crises and other ills that cause societies to collapse? While there may be many triggers to such disastrous circumstances, if you dig deeply enough, you will find that widespread intellectual laziness is usually at the root of it all. What do I mean by intellectual laziness? I am referring to the widespread tendency to assume that those who claim to have authority, actually know and speak the truth. Not reading, not asking questions, not looking for answers in multiple places, assuming you cannot uncover the truth on your own… those are all acts of intellectual laziness. 

When your financial planner tells you to invest in something, you assume he is giving you the best guidance, but is he misinformed? Does he have a hidden agenda? When the leader of a political movement informs you about something shocking, do you question it or do you take it at face value? When a religious leader tells you what you should believe about your religion, do you accept it or do you delve into religious books to seek the truth? Do you ever question the source of your information? Are you guilty of being intellectually lazy? Many of us are.

In this age of information we have access to all sorts of “truths” via the internet and other places. It can be difficult to discern right from wrong, but I think if you make the effort to be more intellectually curious, the truth will become more apparent.

Has intellectual laziness been taught to us or have we just become that way?

I suspect intellectual laziness and its good buddy apathy have been influencing societies for a very long time. It is said that the rise of Hitler was largely because of apathy on the part of the Germans. If you can’t be bothered to question, then you certainly won’t be bothered to take action. Human history is filled with psychopathic leaders who before they were deemed ruthless, had a following. I contend that they could never have influenced anyone if they were not surrounded by the intellectually lazy.

Like many revolutionary leaders, Muammar Gadaffi of Libya had most of his support from uneducated people in rural villages. My personal view on the religious based terrorism we see today is that the influencers in that arena are essentially psychopaths feeding off the ignorant and intellectually lazy. The followers of these leaders allow self-proclaimed religious experts tell them what to believe about their religion. These psychopathic leaders, hungry for power, have the incredible ability to influence otherwise normal people to kill even little children without remorse. If they were more intellectually curious, nobody could ever fool them into thinking that they were doing something good.

What are the favourite communication tools of those who manipulate the intellectually lazy?

People whose mandate is to rally the support of the intellectually lazy, typically rely on what I call weapons of hidden truth. These are communication tools used to influence public opinion, and are as follows:

Euphemisms: Masters of deception manipulate their key word messaging to make their message more acceptable and to help them rally a group of like-minded individuals. Key words that may be offensive are chosen and swapped out specifically to soften the look of their stance.

Are you a Neo Nazi or a member of the Alt-right movement? Nobody wants to be called a Neo Nazi anymore. Alt-right would have more mass appeal to those who have what the majority might consider repulsive views. As a member of the Alt-right, you may have more influence than a “Neo Nazi”. Same crap, different tissue paper, but that’s how it’s done.

If you are using enhanced interrogation tactics, you are actually torturing people to get information, but torture is such a nasty word, isn’t’ it? Euphemisms are the dandiest way to obscure an otherwise distasteful message. That’s why they are so popular among politicians.

The repetition of blatant lies: A common tactic to obscure the truth is to create a new truth by repeatedly telling blatant lies. Any political leader of ill repute knows that if you tell the same lie over and over again at different places and times, it can eventually be perceived as the truth. Sometimes that blatant lie becomes known as an alternate fact, which is of course a euphemism for blatant lie. See the above point. Your failure to separate the euphemism from the truth and think about what you are being told is what contributes to the successful influence of the world’s master manipulators.

Fake News/ Disinformation: In the days of communist Russia, it was called disinformation. Today we see “fake news” all over the internet to such a degree, the truth is especially difficult to uncover. This is why it is even more important to not succumb to intellectual laziness.

It’s sad to say this, but one of the reasons we have so much fake news available to us is because of the way journalists now have to compete for stories (and get paid). Print media and television media are both dying industries and the internet has become the fastest growing way for people to find out about world news. Most journalists are paid per click rather than per hour or by salary (like in the old days). They must produce more to get paid and the more sensational the headline, the more likely they will get a click… Do you see where I’m going? There is a real disincentive for them to be carefully checking facts, so they can be easily manipulated into feeding the public false information. Unfortunately, the ethics the media were once known for have mostly disintegrated. That's our new reality. It is now your job to uncover the truth.

Manipulation: The manipulative tactics of those who prey on the intellectually lazy may include things like guilt tripping and exclusion. For example, those who strap bombs to their chests in the name of Islam are told it is their religious obligation to do so. There is a certain pressure to prove their religious commitment and faith to the leader and the rest of the group. Believe it or not, the direct trip to heaven and the 72 virgins are usually not the primary incentive.

Another form of manipulation commonly used to woo the intellectually lazy into committing heinous acts is national or racial pride. Most revolutions are sparked by that tactic in particular and elections are often won based on promoting the same ideology. I am sure you can think of several examples of leaders from all around the world who used that tactic to gain popularity. In fact, it would be much harder to find someone who left that one out of their bag of tricks. There’s nothing wrong with being nationalistic per se. What is wrong is not taking the time to think about the entire message; especially when nationalism is not really the agenda. We all know intellectually, that you can be proud of your heritage without killing people.

What’s the solution?

Avoid falling into the trap of intellectual laziness. Seek the truth, ask questions, educate yourself and don’t be anyone’s fool.

You don’t have to fight to change the world. You just have to be willing to think for yourself.

Few public relations & communications specialists have as diverse a background as Renée Cormier. Add published author, employee engagement specialist, sales and marketing strategist, entrepreneur and educator to her list of accomplishments. In her career Renée has held leadership roles in sales and marketing, developed and implemented national marketing strategies and was responsible for teams as large as 28 strong. She brings a wide range of experience and talent to her work.

Renée really shines in marketing communications. She is known for developing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies and generating results through flawless implementation. With such strong business acumen, passion for her work and a natural talent for business strategy, Renée is definitely considered an important resource for her clients. Do you need help with your communications or public relations efforts? Contact Renée through her website.



Randall Burns

4 years ago #39

...Continued from #43 Without opening a "can of worms" we have lost so much more of "ourselves", other abilities besides "...our ability to analyse, reason and make decisions"; But it is just a matter of work to get back in touch with those aspects. Getting back to the point; Yes it is the "Tragedy of Intellectual Laziness", (as you state so eloquently), but mankind has been finding ways to become lazy for thousands of years, hence my comment; (typical human nature?)

Randall Burns

4 years ago #38

Alrighty then! Food for thought indeed Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier), that we are still so far away from actual AI because it cannot encompass ALL of what makes us intelligent beings. Yes we are building "smarter" machines with far more advanced algorithms and computing capabilities but I don't agree that it is "AI". Having said that your point of us developing weaknesses or even losing capabilities due to our dependence on advanced technology is a very valid point which I agree with; But they are not lost permanently. We have lost touch with so much of our capabilities, aspects of ourselves over many years, thousands, due to advancements to make our lives "easier". I could elaborate greatly on this but here's a discussion that I think illustrates the point; (Hopefully it's not too "airy fairy and spiritual", :-)) to be cont...

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #37

Yes, I suppose so, but the brain that doesn't get used, gets lost. Think about how we don't remember phone numbers anymore, or how we rely on calculators and spread sheets to do the work we used to do in our heads. With that in mind, what will become of human brain function, thought processes and our social systems if we stop questioning the world around us and take everything at face value? I think if there is one skill we can't afford to lose it is our ability to analyse, reason and make decisions, but the development of AI is gradually taking that away from us because the AI system can gather all facts and predict outcomes with much greater accuracy than humans, and it gets better over time. What will the human brain get better at one we lose that function? Food for thought...

Randall Burns

4 years ago #36

Great post Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier Glad I came across it. I think your comment of; "In this age of information we have access to all sorts of “truths” via the internet and other places..." We are indeed in an "information revolution" in that it has never been easier to access information/"facts" faster and more comprehensively than ever before, yet people seem to be "lazier" than ever, (typical human nature?)

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #35

Milos Djukic, thank you for sharing!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #34

For sure, Sue!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #33

Absolutely, Donna! I have often said, your education will set you free. If you want to take control of your life or at least change the direction, then you need to learn something new and do something different!

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #32

Yes, Kevin, that is the point. I've only known one self-ascribed "guru" who I felt used the title with some measure of legitimacy. Some years ago, a very experienced fiberglass production guy dubbed himself "The Fiberglass Guru" and launched a website on which he not only promoted himself and the industrial services he provided, but also -- and this is most important -- answered all manner of questions from readers concerning reinforced plastic laminates. The self-ascribed title was not as presumptuous as such often are because he stood ready to offer a pile of free advice and to back his opinions up with detailed explanations and instructions, also for free. It was also at a time when the use of the title could be seen as a tongue-in-cheek marketing affectation. Cheers!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #31

Thanks for sharing, Phil. Much appreciated.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #30

I agree Phil. There's a world of difference when the words 'self-proclaimed' is put in front of 'expert' or 'guru'. I'm more than a little suspect when someone claims to be an expert in anything. Those who have achieved mastery of a skill, or knowledge don't need to brag... it is evident just by watching their actions, or listening to them speak.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #29

Yes. That is just one more reason why knowledge is power. It really does make me sad to see people put so much faith in the expertise of others. Even well educated and knowledgeable people with good intentions are fallible. It is up to us to not be sheep and figure out the difference between the wolves and the dogs.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #28

Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier, this is a great piece, chock full of street smarts. I'd like to add one example to your list of tools for communications manipulators: self-ascribed "expert" or "guru" status. In the hands of such manipulators, these labels are intended to signal to the intellectually lazy that the manipulator's message should be accepted at face value, without question because the expert or guru knows so much more than the reader. The most common warning flag is that, when you question one of these people, the response is never a reasoned or detailed explanation, but always an admonishment simply to trust him or her, for he or she knows the truth. Cheers!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #27

Why, thank you for the fine compliment, Don. Thank you also for sharing this and Kevin Pashuk, your share and input is also much appreciated.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #26

Will check it out. :)

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #25

Ah, you mean being too lazy to look for answers is not a choice? Hmmm. LOL
food for thought. My most recent post Dents explores it some.

don kerr

5 years ago #23

Work your brain a bit and read this today.

don kerr

5 years ago #22

Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier IMHO this is your best piece yet on beBee. You capture many salient points and I would only add that given our natural attention span is now less than that of a goldfish the climate is ripe for the exploitation of the intellectually lazy. In my book I harp on to people about the need too self advocate. This requires active exercise of the brain and maintaining a profoundly curious nature. Very well done my friend. Will share.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #21

I think the two are similar, but willful ignorance CHOOSES to not believe the evidence vs someone who is just too lazy to find out what the facts are.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #20

I feel like those are pretty much the same thing. Egad! Could I be wrong?

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #19

This would be a great coffee shop conversation Renée. I would add one more category thanks to an article about Hans Rosling ( Beyond intellectual laziness, there is a more insidious and destructive symptom defined as 'willful ignorance', as in 'Don't confuse me with the facts.' Thanks for tagging me in the comments.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #18

Must check that out.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #17

I agree. The problem is one that is systemic. In my mind, willful ignorance and intellectual laziness are essentially the same thing. Refusing to seek the truth, believing everything you hear, not giving a shit... it all leads to the same place.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #16

There is always value in seeking the truth and not passively believing everything you read or hear. Thinking that other people are smarter than you is as bad as believing nobody is smarter than you. Neither will bother to seek the truth and both can therefore be easily duped. In fact, it is often noted that the most educated people are the most gullible. Arrogance also leads to intellectual laziness.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #15

Haha! That reminds me of the Graham\ud83d\udc1d Edwards wrote a buzz about the Seven Deadly Sins. Check it out:

Harvey Lloyd

5 years ago #14

I would suggest that "intellectual laziness" is a response to the ever changing and variations of truth presented. Truth in our post modern world is relative not absolute. So my truth in a social setting can be different than yours within the same setting. This sounds preposterous when we consider that truth within in society requires absolutes in order to keep anarchy at bay. I will have to claim the title you have imposed of being intellectually lazy. The news is all fake as it all talks about problems that someone is going to save me from. Fighting outcomes that are part of a bad systemic system where no one talks about the foundational systems as this raises the err in everyone. Great post and i agree, but i would submit the time it takes to sort out just one news effort is not worthy of our time as we look to grow ourselves and others. I also believe that the tactics of terrorism have been picked up by the media and politicians. We just need to spin a comment or two with little facts and lots of emotion and we can get momentum of negative or positive thought.

Paul Walters

5 years ago #13

@ Intellectual laziness... is this related to sloth because if it is I'm in trouble!!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #12

Great observations, Devesh! Introspection is a critical part of truth seeking, indeed.

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt

5 years ago #11

Everybody has a story of trying to tell the truth when no one listened. We conveniently jump on the back up plan of skimming or quitting. Discovery requires a process and persistence, it is a tough road. Awareness on the other hand merely requires awareness. The poor know, they just do not question because they doubt themselves and they fear consequences. The rest of us are educated, have enough to survive and think on other aspects of life, yet we are lazy and ignorant. I totally agree with you that laziness breeds apathy for the majority, but this truth allows for people to shed the accountability in the name of laziness. Some deliberately created this context as a loophole. For a few people apathy breeds laziness, now this maybe a lie but this would make people introspect. But this too is a context used countless times , specially in case of Religious leaders who fill you with guilt, get you to help the poor but convince the poor to chant their name. Both contexts ultimately work and only work when we introspect. The moment we superimpose it on society, the viscious cycle of ignorance and laziness not only becomes evident, it engulfs us. I once tried to simply invert the process and replace society with self and seld with society and applied the prevalent contexts taught to us by social conditioning. Soon things started to work out. I really enjoy your writing and it feels great to have a structured simple way of seeing things which i believe everyone thinks about every single day, but the majority are too lazy to write it :)

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #10

Thanks for sharing John White, MBA!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #9

Thanks for sharing, Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #7

But what a dangerous option that is. Thinking is always your best option, even if it hurts your head!
Ahhhhh--so true. I think we tend to mistake power for intelligence. I do not. Knowledge can also make us miserable, so it is comfortable to just lean back and have someone else tell us what to do.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #5

You gave me a good laugh, David. Thanks for that, and thanks for sharing my post!

David B. Grinberg

5 years ago #4

Nice buzz, Renee. Actually, it might be too good. Thus, I hope you don't get surreptitiously recruited by the Russians, North Koreans, or some other communist/totalitarian regime to run their propaganda machines, cranking out even more (and better) fake news (although the contracts might be lucrative, lol). Remember, we need you here in North America to speak truth to power, or the perception thereof. Actually, I just heard the Fake News Channel...I mean Fox News Channel, has an opening at their 8:00 pm prime-time hour for a host to replace alleged serial sexual harasser Billy "Hands" O'Reilly. But I'm guessing that Jim Murray will be competing fiercely for that slot. Keep buzzing!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #3

Thank you for sharing, @Blaine Little!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #2

Excellent point!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #1

Beezers Phil Friedman. I think you will like this post.

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