Insulting My Mind

Some insults are more fun than others.

One semi-common insult that is a little fun which I have flung at me is “pseudo-intellectual”. I’ve been insulted this way nearly ever since I got out of school. I’m guessing it has something to do with my thinking/writing style, and that I say things people don’t want to hear but that they may not know how to refute.

Another cutesy insult that has recently cropped up is saying I need to learn about the Dunning-Kruger Effect— which I already know about– because it explains my ignorant opinions. I admit I am as susceptible to that effect as anyone. It’s interesting to me how my critics– even after I admit this possibility– never entertain the possibility that it might also apply to them. It never even enters their minds.

Usually, I get these insults after someone corrects my wrongthink out of the goodness of their heart, and I systematically dismantle their objection.

This happened just a few days ago when someone insisted I admit that not all cops are bad; that they are individuals who can’t be judged collectively. Then he generously suggested I revise my post to reflect this information and let him know once I have done so.

In response, instead of revising my post, I went through his flawed assertions one by one, laying out why I said what I said. That’s when he responded by calling me a pseudo-intellectual. The thanks I get for trying to explain things in enough detail for him to follow the trail with ease is an insult. How should I feel about that? Well, if I hadn’t been so snarky toward him I would feel worse.

I also triggered this in someone a couple of days ago because he was making Covid-19 out to be (almost) an extinction-level threat, and I said the panic was unnecessary. He launched into multiple expletives and kept saying I was too stupid to engage with (and kept engaging anyway) and that I needed to research the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

I think I really lit his fuse when I pointed out that no one wants to be seen as fighting a weak kitten, so they always portray their enemy as a strong dragon. I also told him my parents had both contracted and recovered from Covid, and that my dad even had multiple co-morbidities. He said he suspected I was lying.

I do not have a college degree. Never claimed to. I did attend college for 2 unfocused years– my best subject, by far, was astronomy. I don’t read the “right things”. I don’t automatically accept the claims of “authority“, but I don’t automatically dismiss them, either. I do my best to explain my thoughts clearly, and I know I sometimes don’t. I guess this makes me a pseudo-intellectual who is too unaware of my mental limitations to realize how dumb I am. At least, according to some people.

If my writing style makes people think I’m trying to pass myself off as an intellectual, that’s not my intention. I doubt I could pass for one if I tried. I’m also not going to dumb down what I write (although I admit I do try to do so for the newspaper columns, but that’s another story). What you read is what you get.

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Kent McManigal

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