How Did YouTube Atheists Get So Stupid?

Something that’s been on my mind for a while since my YouTube channel was found by a few atheist channels for low-intelligence atheists is how it’s possible for people to be as stupid as many of the commenters who showed up are. I don’t mean low-intelligence. Most of them aren’t very bright, but I’ve met plenty of people who aren’t very bright who aren’t stupid. What I mean by stupid is something like, aggressively unable to understand anything. And I don’t mean that they’re stupid because they’ve failed to see that I’m correct—that just makes them wrong—I mean that they don’t even have any idea what I or anyone else is saying. And they’re aggressive about how much they don’t understand it. And I don’t just mean on the subject of contention—I’ve run into idiots who don’t understand what you mean when you say that the sky is blue.

This perplexes me. How is it possible for a human being to get into this condition?

One possibility, of course, is that they’re just trolling me. On the internet where we only have text and not the clues of facial expression, etc.—which are much harder to fake consistently—it’s much easier to troll people. And where the interactions are one-offs, I’m pretty willing to believe that they’re just trolls. But I’ve also had consistent interactions with people over time where this seems less plausible.

In some cases it seems like they’ve imprinted on the Christopher Hitchens debates, where they want someone to try to prove something to them so they can feel smart saying variations of, “I don’t believe you.” It’s curious to watch how often these people don’t even know what they’re saying when they imitate the atheist-Christian debates that they’ve watched. For example, they’ve imprinted on the idea that the atheist position is one of pure negation (the unthinking man’s version of Anthony Flew’s The Presumption of Atheism), and so they always deny that they have made any claims, even right after they’ve made claims. They do this so often it is obvious that they don’t know what a claim is.

I think it’s related that they are also, generally, raging narcissists. They will intrude into discussions of the nature of reality to tell you all about themselves, then demand that you do things for them such as try to convince them of things even when you clearly state you don’t care what they believe.

It’s very strange because their use of language—which is intrinsically rational; it’s no accident that logos meant both “word” and “rationality” and “argument”—makes them seem rational even when everything they say is irrational.

One thing which comes to mind is that perhaps they’re some sort of weird birth defect that never received a human soul; not really human but merely some form of highly clever simian. While theoretically not impossible, this is a dangerous idea and probably should be considered last.

Another possibility is that they are human, but very damaged by anger. Anger is well known for making it difficult for people to think and it is unlikely to be a coincidence that these idiots always seem angry. This isn’t really a better possibility, though, because it does not leave open any greater possibility for helping them than if they’re merely a clever simian. People can choose to be less than human; that is one of the meanings of Hell. You can’t make a person think, if he wills to not think. So what can we do?

I suppose that this is one of those cases where there is nothing to do but be patient and pray. Perhaps, for the people who seem this way, helping them is given to someone else and not to me, and all I can do is pray to strengthen the person to whom helping them has been given.

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