#FPQ 15: Bertrand Russell

Fandango’s taking some time off, so we have a golden oldie…

This week’s provocative question is based upon a quote by Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Whew, that’s a lot of cred. Anyway, Russell, who died in 1970, suggested that…

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that, in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubts.”

Do you concur with Mr. Russell’s perspective? Why or why not?

The way this quote is phrased implies that he had been discussing “the trouble,” and since we don’t know what that was, it’s kind of hard to say. So, let’s assume for the purpose of this exercise that the “trouble” is just a generic thing. (Which is probably the intention.)

Anyway, I would agree with this.

There is the distinct possibility that my idea of who qualifies as “the stupid” and “the intelligent” might vary slightly (or greatly) with who Bert, or for that matter anyone else, considers to be a genius or a moron. My mother (who, as you have probably guessed, had an opinion about everything) once said of someone, “if it wasn’t on paper that he was smart, no one would know.” Or, as Sheldon Cooper often said, “I’m not crazy, Mom had me tested.”

So, maybe it’s best to rewrite the esteemed Mr. Russell’s statement:

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that, in the modern world, the people who, in my humble opinion, are stupid are cocksure while the people who, in my humble opinion, are intelligent are full of doubts.”

We welcome replies to our editorials.

Tally-ho and away we go!
See you next week with a brand new show!

13 thoughts on “#FPQ 15: Bertrand Russell

  1. I don’t know about this John. Stupid is as stupid does. I know it when I see it. Don’t you? I also know intelligent people when I encounter them, too. Why not call a spade a spade, and proceed from there? If you can’t trust your own perceptions of the people around you, who will you trust?


      1. Sure, sure… but that doesn’t mean everyone’s perceptions are objectively correct. If the goal is to get to the truth, then you have to be willing to dismiss erroneous perceptions, either your own or other people’s. [And I’m having flashbacks to grad school. I’ll be quiet now.]


  2. You’re right about who is stupid verses who is intelligent is a matter of opinion. That said, anyone who claims to be absolutely certain about everything general falls on the stupid side of the spectrum. In my opinion, of course.


  3. I would substitute the words “ill informed” for stupid and the words “well informed” for intelligent. I suspect Mr. Russell considered himself as intelligent and those that disagreed with him as stupid. For example, if my neighbor says the White Sox could still win the pennant he is ill informed not stupid and I, who has agonized over their play recently, know they can’t win. I am well informed not intelligent – wait a minute, what did I just say?


    1. Speaking of the White Sox, what’s going on with Tony LaRussa? Did he walk out, was he told to go home, what?

      The way the postseason shapes up gives a lot of false hope to teams that are probably packing up and going home next Wednesday. Mathematically, the Sox have a very slight chance of getting into the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean that they stand a chance of actually doing it. But the Sabermetricians have their charts and graphs…


      1. LaRussa has a heart problem of some kind that is being kept private. It is doubtful if he will be back next year. Not really his fault this year. A lot of injuries to key players and a couple of pitchers badly under performed


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