Exploring the Tragedy of Intellectual Laziness
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.
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