I ran across a quote recently: ‘Those who know the least, know it the loudest.’
I don’t know the author of the quote. But it says a lot.
‘Loud,’ in this context, means: unthinking, or shrill. It doesn’t mean strong or passionate. They’re two different things.
It doesn’t mean objective, either. It just means loud for the sake of appealing to emotion, and emotion alone.
You see this quote embodied in everyday life. Have you ever known a know-it-all, who presumes to know what’s best for you, and gives you advice whether you want it or not? Most likely, you have.
Know-it-all types experience their pseudo-self-esteem in relationship to others, not through the acquisition of genuine knowledge. In other words, they feel smart and knowledgeable because they are preaching or lecturing to you.
Think of it as acting or performing. Their ‘knowledge’ does not necessarily come from facts, or from higher level reasoning about those facts. They don’t seek to share that knowledge (or even opinion) with you, if you’re interested. They impose it on you, whether you like it, or not, because they are going through the motions of what they believe smart or wise people do.
In the worst case, ‘knowing the loudest’ refers to intimidation. People who don’t know what they’re talking about grasp, on some level, that they cannot persuade you. How can you persuade without possessing full knowledge and understanding yourself?
When they don’t have complete or even any knowledge about something, such people resort to intimidation. Intimidation is anything aimed at arousing fear in you.
‘Oh, you’re doing that, are you? Well nobody else does that. Why are you doing it?’
Or: ‘Oh, you think that way, do you? Well, that’s not mainstream. Who are you to think that way?’
Notice that these comments don’t aim at proving you wrong. There’s no benevolent effort to point out a fact you’re missing, or expose a logical fallacy or contradiction in what you’re saying. There’s no effort made to ask you a question to suggest that perhaps you have a mistaken or hidden assumption about something. Instead, the person ‘knowing the least, but knowing it loudly,’ is appealing to the most primitive of human emotions: fear. They’re counting on you to not have self-esteem, i.e., to be governed by the approval of the ‘herd.’
This is why it’s so important to develop and maintain self-esteem. Among other things, self-esteem means not being afraid. This ‘not being afraid’ arises from a confidence in the power of reason. If someone says to me, ‘How can you believe that? That’s not what most people think,’ my genuine reaction is only, ‘What facts disprove what I think?’
I’m unable to care, or even have an opinion of another register on my mental ‘radar screen’ without grasping what is being claimed in the terms of logic, reason and facts. I don’t submit to other people, not even people I admire and respect. I submit only to reason grounded in logic and facts—and only to people when they do the same.
The deeper issue with self-esteem is how you acquire knowledge. Do humans acquire knowledge through the use of common sense perception, advanced by the abstract concepts of thought and science? Or do humans acquire knowledge via some other means?
My vote is definitely for the first. I trust no knowledge—not my own, not another’s—unless it goes through the process of facts, logic and reason. Reason is not infallible. Errors are possible. But it’s only reason, facts and logic which can correct those errors.
Do I know everything? Of course not. But when seeking knowledge, I only do so from people I can trust to have used reason in gaining that knowledge. And they can explain it in objective terms, offering proof that they understand what they’re talking about.
As a process of knowing, reason is the means for everything, including self-esteem. Opinions of others do not and should not register, unless in the context of reason.
‘Others’ is a vague abstraction, at best, anyway. I often hear people say, ‘Others won’t like me. I want to be part of the pack.’
But what does this have to do with reality?
Sometimes, a majority of people are doing things a certain way with good reason. For example, most people don’t kill others. Most people don’t deliberately try to harm themselves.
Sometimes, the majority are provably wrong. During Hitler’s Germany, a majority supported the Nazi (i.e., National Socialist) state, at least at first. They were horribly and tragically wrong.
The religious mainstream opposed the idea, for a long time, that the earth orbits the sun rather than the other way around. For a long time, scholarly people thought (erroneously) the world to be flat, and it took a very lonely individual (Columbus) to prove this wrong.
These dramatic examples, just like lesser ones from daily life, prove that it’s reason and objectively provable truth that decide things, not ‘other people.’ If ‘other people’ were the final or only standard, mankind would still be in a totally primitive state, or even have died out by now.
Those who seek to replace reason and logic with intimidation and fear are guilty of ‘knowing things loudly,’ but not rationally and objectively. That’s the sense in which I so like this quote.
Be sure to “friend” Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest.