I think we should differentiate between someone who is 'genuinely' stupid and someone who is uneducated. The latter may have had certain factors in their life (e.g. economic) that prevented them from getting a decent education. (Edit: having re-read your post and your reference to what Socrates meant, I think the definition of stupidity can be expanded to cover many others including 'educated' people!).
Also, if the above is read in the context of atheists' relationship with the rest of society, then it is worth bearing in mind that in many cultures, otherwise intelligent and very reasonable people, usually differentiate between the naturalistic and spiritual realms. Of course, as an atheist I only subscribe to a naturalistic view of the universe, and consider references to spiritual stuff to be just mumbo jumbo. So yes, technically and from this perspective, you can view people as stupid. But let's be careful so as not to be perceived as arrogant. The best we can do is to educate people in the natural sciences and make them appreciate the scientific method and the crucial role of statistics.
Good comment Hathal. Well stated!
It seems like the case here in Canada as well...
well america is known to have the worst maths and science education out of all first world countries, when you accept that fact, does it really surprise you that 80-90% of americans are Christian Theists? that means that basically 80-90% of americans are the kind of people who just follow the crowd like a flock of sheep rather than being intelligent enough to think for themselves.
This is truly depressing. What's a person to do about this? I am sure there are initiatives to counter this on national and state levels, but what can the individual do besides supporting these initiatives and making sure that his or her children receive adequate science and math education? Beyond that, it seems like one Sisyphean task among a multitude of others.
...Or America has the best math and science education available. It's up to the student really. Try to get into MIT, I dare you. We are a true Darwinian society. We have no safety net and the almighty corporations control our culture.
BTW your numbers on US religiosity are dated..and It's very regional.
Despite our Puritan heritage, I am sure if we had a forced state religion, the county would be largely atheists.
I like that the US is underestimated and routinely mocked. The Japanese military made that mistake as they were on the verge of overrunning your country. A black US President will never happen. The US is a very dynamic and surprising landscape, and that attracts many to our shores.
Not defending Americans, as we certainly have our own flaws, but your definition, Lance, would also apply to the low interest in higher education prevalent in countries south of US borders, all the way to the tip of South America, where 90-95% are Catholic sheeple, many of whom cross themselves when passing cemeteries and rub eggs on newborn babies to "take the evil out," and forego the use of birth control, because of Papal edicts, despite living in economies that can't support the children already extant and give them any kind of quality of life that would lead to any of them attaining a higher education.
Ahh, Lance, if they only could. . .
Yes, accurate, but let us not deride others for following peer group and social expectations. Because of such expectations, following is considered appropriate--no? Please my friend, how do you consider teaching them to be intelligent enough to think for themselves? You seem to be advocating a vast rearrangement of neural activity. Ever tried that yourself? Didn't think so.
People are who they are regardless of what others may desire. Might I suggest baiting your hook with acceptance and a positive attitude. . . catches more fish that way.
I have a good example for you Robert, of "conflicted and scared." As a teenager, one summer, I ran a nightly newspaper route in my car, delivering papers in a rural area. Nightly, I would encounter rabbits, that, frightened, would run alongside my car. On occasion, a rabbit I was about to pass entirely, leaving it in complete safety, would suddenly, for no apparent reason, dash in front of my car too quickly for me to stop or swerve, and be crushed under my wheels.
Night after night, I would ponder this, to me, illogical behavior, trying as best I could to get into the mindset of a rabbit. Clearly, the car represented a threat to the rabbit - it moved, implying it possessed life, and seemed to roar, implying a definite threat - why would a rabbit, in the relative safety of the weeds and grasses of a bar ditch, suddenly leave that safety, only to run toward what it must have perceived as being a ravenous beast?
Then it occurred to me - shadows. My moving headlights created enormous moving shadows of all of the weeds and grasses I passed, as well as a shadow of the rabbit itself, though projected larger than life and moving alongside the frightened rabbit. The rabbit had risked the known beast in the road, to escape the unknown threat of the moving shadows, which in its primitive mind, were even more life-threatening. Fear resolved the conflict, usually fatally.
I've pondered this as well, and I think that another possible solution is simply that the home of the creature in question (their only known source of safety) lies in the direction they run. A rabbit or squirrel, finding themselves foraging on the opposite side of a street from their home, will try to bolt for that home when the threat approaches.
They simply don't realize that they can't make it. They only know that a threat approaches, and "definite" safety lies in their tree or burrow. The immediate reaction is to make a run for home, even if it brings them across the path of the oncoming threat.
Running from shadows is a possibility, but I've seen this behavior in broad daylight.
I've seen animals run straight ahead from my car (or birds, flying, trying to gain altitude as they fly as fast as they can). They are wired to assume the car will catch them and kill them if they swerve left or right (giving it a shorter path to them), but in fact the best thing they could do would be to jink sideways and let me pass. But how could they know?
I definitely agree with what has been previously said by other comments, when they mention these things:
1) There is a difference between non-intelligence and ignorance.
Intelligence is the ability to think, more or less. It's not a measure of how much you know, but rather what you're capable of doing with what you know. People vary on this aspect, but usually through no fault of their own. Some people have physical limitations on their intelligence (whether via defects from birth, or from a lack of flexing this "muscle")
Ignorance is a lack of data. It has no bearing on your mind's ability to process or use data. A person can be ignorant of data, but still be intelligent (give them the data, and they could use it)
2) Our society/culture does not value intelligence (or even knowledge of facts), leading many who are mentally capable to remain willfully ignorant. And still others to allow their inherent intelligence to atrophy.
So the true issue is not one of intelligence. I believe that most people are competently intelligent, and can further "train" the ability through use. The issue is that many people choose not to do so, and many that choose not to absorb any data that they don't feel a need for (in fact, this may be the default setting; those of us who actively seek information in all of its forms, regardless of practical application, are likely to be the oddballs).
So society as a whole is keeping itself willfully ignorant, even if most of us have the capacity to think intelligently.
Even more disturbing is the notion that intelligence is bad, which leads many to suppress themselves.
So, perhaps society is stupid, in the sense that many of us (a majority?) willfully avoid using our brains (and even shun those who do), even though most of us have the capability to do much more.