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Confidence and Ignorance Shouldn’t Go Together


Confidence is a good thing when there is reason for it. Capable people generally are confident and they should be. But should confidence and ignorance be paired together? Most people would think not, but not the American school system.

Knowledge and confidence are natural allies but confidence and ignorance are not.

Knowledge is necessary to succeed. Confidence is also integral to success. Ignorance is an impediment to success. But confidence paired with ignorance is worse than ignorance alone. 

The school system in the US now specializes in imparting confidence to its captives. Self-esteem and political correctness are more important than knowledge. “No child left behind” has come to mean that nobody fails, regardless of whether they learned anything or not. As a result, the country becomes increasingly populated with confident ignoramuses. These people have been taught and believe that their opinion on any matter is just as valid as someone knowledgeable in the field. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?

mark-twain-portraitMark Twain described education as

… that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.

The US educational system now specializes in the latter half of Twain’s definition. That is a tragedy. More dangerous is that these people believe they are educated and have been taught to be confident in spite of their ignorance. Ignorance is better served by humility, not confidence.

Schools must get out of the confidence, self-esteem and politically correct mode. Knowledge conveyance, not lock-step behavior and a false sense of one’s self, is required. Convincing incompetents that they are competent puts them on a path that leads to failure and disillusionment. Is there any other industry so cruel and unethical to their customers?

Turning out ignorant people may make it more convenient for the political mountebanks, but it is ultimately destructive to individuals and the society in which they reside. If politicians insist on creating more political pawns through ignorance, the least the schools can do is to stop instilling confidence where it is unwarranted.

Competent people should be confident. Incompetents should recognize their limitations, not be praised for them. Everyone has a right to make a fool of himself. Sadly, the majority of our young cannot even discern when this occurs. The fools don’t even recognize they are fools.

2 thoughts on “Confidence and Ignorance Shouldn’t Go Together”

  1. MP

    “Is there any other industry so cruel and unethical to their customers?”
    Not likely!

    OTOH, Compulsory Attendance Laws forcibly exchange the concept of a “customer”, free to choose and an slave’s forced obedience to the State.

  2. Producing mental lemmings for obedient service to the State has been the goal of government-run “public education”, pre-dating Horace Mann’s importation of the Prussian ideal. From that perspective, “public education” has been quite successful: graduating Functional Illiterates for the growing army of slightly competent State workers and Aggressive Ignorants for the “private sector”, thus accounting for the degradation of quality of product and service. Inflated self-esteem also contributes to daily examples of the corrosion of civility in public behavior.

    ‘You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.’
    Harlan Ellison

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