For Serious. You don’t. At all. About anything. This is one of the most important things you can learn in life. Not just the stupidly trite sentiment of “the more I know the more I know I don’t know.” That barely touches the surface of the truth, and is often used to make people feel good about themselves or allows them to excuse their ignorance. The truth is it is impossible for you to actually be informed on most things in life. At the most you can be really and truly informed on a few things. There just isn’t time. This isn’t a matter of you being stupid. This is a matter of space and stuff.
There is no area in life where this is more apparent than looking at American politics. The idea is that we have to be informed citizens before making our votes. That’s a reasonable request. In a perfect world the issues at hand would be simple enough for everyone to be able to look at all candidates (this perfect world has more than two parties as well) and see all of their stances on all the issues and be able to make a decision. Even in this perfect world, though, if you had all the information there wouldn’t be a candidate that did all your things and you’re left compromising. That’s a different topic altogether.
Our perfect world really only has about twenty people in it and they live in a remote location where nothing they do really effects anyone or anything else. In our real world every policy has so many branching effects that unless you dedicate yourself wholly to researching it you really aren’t equipped to have an opinion on it. How much do you really know about economics? Really, be honest. What you have are ideas about economics and how money should be spent and maybe a little bit of information about how certain economic systems work, but your opinion on American Economic Policy means less than jack shit. Seriously, you can take your opinion and go fuck yourself with it. this goes for me too. When I debate it I’m being just as ignorant as everyone else.
That’s just an example but the point holds for just about everything else. Do you really know what will happen if they build a road in your back yard? You know you won’t like it (and that’s a valid reason to vote for not having a road in your back yard), but do you actually understand what it will do for the municipality? Probably not. It’s hard.
Let’s look at the bright side though. There’s probably a topic or two that you’re really interested in and know all about. For me it’s history. Specifically American History. More specifcally race relations in American history and government institutions. I also am pretty well versed in stereotype history as well as sociological effects of media representations of people throughout history. That takes a lot of work in my spare time to do research and stuff on. It’s annoying when ignorant people try to talk to me about this stuff because I know way more than they do. I feel confident in my ability to craft an opinion on what effect different government policies will have on different racial groups in this country.
That’s my thing though. Outside of this area I’m just as lost as everyone else. It’s not because I’m stupid, it’s because to have a wide breadth of knowledge on a topic means that I just absolutely do not have the time or mental space to also be an expert in foreign policy. I have ideas. Israel is a tyrant and needs to back the fuck off Iran. I’ve read a lot of articles from all over the world describing the situation. I have a pretty good notion that going to war with Iran for the sake of Israel is about the worst idea we’ve had since going to Iraq (and is probably going to end way worse for us). Truth is though, I don’t know how to exactly handle the situation. I don’t know what we should do in terms of crafting policy. Don’t have the time.
Shit, I don’t know what to do about corporate discounts for moving into your state. It brings jobs, but maybe you should focus on local jobs and do marketing work to make it work, but there’s a lot of work to be done there too. It is complicated as shit.
We’re losing the point here though. The point of this is that you should really think about what you do and don’t know, and think hard about it. Think about the thing you know the most about. Think about how long it took you to gain that knowledge, think about how much effort it took for you to be able to sort through that information to use it in conversation or just know it. Just always be thinking about that so the next time you get into a debate about something take a step back and ask how much you really know. Ask the person you’re arguing with how much they really know. Chances are neither of you know anything so all the stress you’re going through isn’t worth it.
P.S. This is about broad political topics. It’s about temperance of your own stupidity and ignorance. What this isn’t about is making your argument. “You don’t know” is something that should be used as a building point. You can’t say “You don’t know that every Hispanic person you see is actually a citizen so you have to check them.” That doesn’t fly.