Let’s call it what it is, “stupid”. Mass adoption of a stupid idea does not in anyway alter the intellectual value of that idea. It’s still stupid.
For me when confronted by a populist idea – I remember an anonymous quote I heard years ago; “if 250 million people have a bad idea… it’s still a bad idea.”
Regardless of how many people think a thought, you shouldn’t make it yours because it’s popular. That’s not what freedom of thought is about. If the news media says it, if your mother says it, if your brother says it, if your employer says it… no matter who says it. If you are the last one in the world that believes it’s still a stupid idea – then it’s still a stupid idea.
To adopt any idea because it’s what the majority of people want – is horrific. I fear the day that I use this as a key criteria for making any decision. The more popular a thought is, the more I worry that I am making the wrong decision. It scares me to go in any popular direction.
After all, “because everybody is doing it” is the sort of thinking that leads to drinking cool-aid, joining cults, putting bumper stickers on cars supporting whatever seems popular without even knowing the real agenda; it’s peer pressure for adults, populism, surrendering of ideals and surrendering thoughts.
As for me, I am proud to go the other way. I am proud to think on my own two halves of my brain. I not only question authority, I expect answers. I want to understand why it is so. And if an idea wants my support, I want to make sure it’s not stupid.
So I suggest that because everyone else thinks it’s so – it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea.
In today’s age there seem to be daily polls on just about every major topic in the news cycle; and what purpose do they serve? If everyone thinks you should be shot, does it make it a good idea? Of course it’s absurd. If everyone thinks your house should be burned down and you should be put in prison, does that make it a good idea? Absurd as well. If everyone thinks that you should pay 90% in taxes, does that make it a good idea? No, it certainly does not.
What if everyone is wrong? It’s happened before. They are called mobs and they used to hang people, riot in the streets, burn cars in Paris, destroy cities and help populists rise to power. Going along with the thoughts of the mob, the more emotional the thoughts – the worse it is… going along for the sake of joining the movement – is flat stupid.
By the way, some of the most foolish and stupid ideas come from the most statistically intelligent people you will ever meet. You might say that smart people usually have really dumb ideas. But that’s a topic for another day.
Remember, if everyone is doing it… that’s reason enough to double check that idea and make sure it’s not a stupid one.