I’m trying to figure out if it’s ok to look down on others for being ignorant of how the world works.
More specifically, I’m trying to figure out what the criteria are, since I know I’m ok with being selective in this way. I just don’t know where the bar is.
For example, if someone lives in the United States and believes homosexuals are bad people who should be “fixed” or punished, in 2013, then I am ok with looking down on them. If they believe they have evidence of life after death, when they don’t, then I’m ok with discounting them. If they think their race is superior to other races, just because they were taught that and they haven’t broken free yet, then I’m ok with dismissing them.
But where does this start and stop?
I’ve expressed elsewhere that I think there are minimums for being knowledgable in a modern world, e.g. knowing we don’t live after we die, knowing we don’t have free will, etc. But so few people accept these things to be true that I’d have very few people to talk to if that was some sort of litmus test.
Furthermore, many people who accept these truths could be assholes, while clueless people of all varieties could be extraordinary human beings far more worth of friendship and love.
And finally, in a world without free will, what does it mean to be worthy of something. Or to look down at someone for being an idiot? Who’s fault is that? What…um…choice did they have?
Essentiallly, I’m ok being selective about who I spend time with to some degree, but I should not be selective about who I am kind to–at least not if I want to have any sort of consistency to my actions within the context of both compassion and an acceptance of the lack of free will.
How are you managing this obstacle course?
Also, consider that I’m not advocating doing anything that doesn’t already happen in schools all across the world. We judge people who believe silly things every day. We judge them by isolating them. We judge them by not being close to them. We judge them by not giving them good grades on exams.
People who believe things that are not true should face consequences. If you deny gravity or evolution or global warming, this has consequences. And we should stop pretending that other, more protected, instances of this sort of reality denialism are fundamentally different.
[ EDITED: Changed ‘elitist’ to ‘selective’, and added more support around how teaching already does this. ]