In the spirit of my article, while my focus was to promote the good in the world, there come moments when things need to be told as they are. I hope all take what I have to say carefully before assuming that I appeal to the “fallacy of centrism.”
In concept, it seems funny to say, “I’m not saying we should kill all the stupid people, but we should just remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.” Now, in no way do I advocate permitting stupid people to go about their course unstopped, and there are things out there that are so simple that they shouldn’t need a warning label. However, it is a fallacy to assume that something that seems self-explanatory to you should be self-explanatory to everyone. For instance, this morning I was working to make a new edition to one of my books on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, and when it asked if I had published this book there before, I selected “yes” after careful thought. However, rather than allowing me to create an actual new edition, it would only let me update the page content and cover design, effectively erasing all the information I had labored to put in twice (the first erasure was a computer refresh). I was unable to select “no”, and just had to start everything over. While this allowed for a better book description later on, there was no forewarning that all inputted information would be eliminated and replaced with outdated stuff. Had I intended to merely modify the then-current edition, knowing that would have saved be whole minutes of putting in all the old info. It would have been nice to know that new editions didn't count.
This is just one, and a mild one at that, example of why some warnings need to be given. While most people you would normally meet would admit it would be stupid to put a pencil into a light socket, such knowledge of the dangers would be entirely unknown in places and eras that lack the benefit of modern technology.
Can we really fault them? Can we really call them stupid? People don’t know what they don’t know, and sadly that obvious fact still goes right over the heads of most of those I know of who have claimed that we should remove the warning labels.
I was blown away by the fact that many people, when navigating by way of the stars at night, assume that the North Star is the brightest. Not even close. But for someone who has taken basic navigation and astronomy courses, it makes perfect sense. Do I fault people for their obliviousness? No, I teach them how to find Polaris. It’s only those with excellent memory who don’t get it after the third time that I would worry about. And believe it or not, there are an awful lot of things to remember of the “necessities” that most people just don’t know (and sorry, celebrities aren’t one of them).
So the next time you want to fault others for “stupidity,” perhaps tell me everything you think you know about, say, otters, space, or Star Trek ship classes, and I'll let you know just how right your assumptions are. Common sense is very relative. Go to a foreign place, and eat any berries that look tasty. I'm sure a native will let you know just how smart you are for eating poison.
Perhaps what we all really need is to ask questions rather than guess, and not fault people when they try to jump their ignorance hurdles.