Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Lazy and Stupid

"I don't read long things; I'm too lazy."

No, you're not too lazy. You're just stupid.

Have you ever met those people who seem like they're at least above-average in intelligence, but who never really do anything? You can carry on a decent conversation with them every so often, but what have they done in their lives worthy of mention?

Beginning students in anything out of the public spectrum quickly gain a grossly exaggerated view of their own abilities. Programmers, rationalists, artists, writers, the pitfall is everywhere. They've done a few neat (but small) things, or they've won a few arguments, or they've drawn a lot (in the same style), or they've written Twilight... Some of these people really think they're good and no longer novices at their craft.

Then you ask them: why haven't you done X yet? Are you ever going to do Y?

"I'm getting around to it. I'm just too lazy."

A week later:

"Still too lazy."

Months later:

"Still too lazy."

Years later:

"Still too lazy."

No, you're just stupid. Dumb. Retarded. Lazy people are those who take the quickest, easiest way to progress: you don't move at all. Yes, the literal common usage of lazy is to be unmoving, but then why do these people say "I'm just lazy" with such pride? There is a virtue to laziness, but it does not rest with the classical meaning. Good programmers understand it, and indeed I have already mentioned an aspect of it. The virtue of laziness is knowing the quickest, easiest way to do something. Programmers write programs to do things automatically for them, even if the time spent to write the program won't pay for itself until maybe 10 of the tasks later.

To me, the classical meaning of lazy and the meaning of stupid are interchangeable. What could save these so-called lazy people from also falling under stupidity? If they admitted disinterest. But sadly most don't; they still seem somewhat interested in whatever it is they happen to be lazy about doing. "I haven't seriously programmed for months, and I've only done PHP, but yeah, I'm a good programmer." If instead they said "You know what, I'm just not that interested in programming, and I'm going to try something else," then their lack of progress in the field is excusable and not due to stupidity.

There are legitimate claims of people literally having too much on their plate, but if you want anyone to take you seriously, you better reveal what's on that plate. Most people aren't so busy they can't program every day or read for an hour a day. Turn off the t.v., put down the controller, and do something productive.

I love video games, but I don't let that keep me from success. As I've mentioned before, I'm a great procrastinator. I'll play games for long stretches sometimes (I've gone 18 hours a few times), but only when I seriously have nothing more compelling to do, and I always have time for my own intellectual interests as well. I have many acquaintances who might play even less video games than I do, yet they don't progress in any field. What useless things do they do to pack the time? Videos, television, and movies account for a lot of this, but it's not enough to rob the individual of all their time. It's baffling to me, and general stupidity is a great explanation for the behaviors.

Posted on 2009-11-17 by Jach

Tags: stupidity


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