Why are you all such morons?

A brief discussion of thinking critically.

bankers critical thinking G.A. Cohen men's rugby Richard Taylor UCL rugby

My father once turned to me in what for us is a rare father-son moment at our local, The Star. Looking into my beautiful blue eyes he said, “Simba, let me tell you something my father told me…indifference is the worst quality in a man.”

If my father had it in him to make a cultural reference or indeed a point in under fifty words, that’s what he would have said. Regardless, I ironically digress, because it’s my reply that is relevant. What I should have responded, instead of ‘hmm’ and sipping awkwardly, was “No, it is in fact lazy opinions, they are for bottom feeders.” A hundred words frivolously wasted on scene-setting, as noted wordsmith Marshall Mathers (wildly out of context) would say: ‘All you do is annoy me, so I have been sent here to destroy you.’

I’m not attacking gullibility, that isn’t a choice, it is lazy opinions that I find so terribly irksome. Opinions where one has the capacity for thought, but does not exercise this out of mental lethargy. It is upsetting that so many bright people indulge themselves so intensively in this Lotus-eater fruit, accepting conclusions and even internalising them as convictions without recourse to rational critique. Lazy opinions are as cancerous as UCL Memes and, as with UCL Memes, we are all guilty to a greater or lesser extent.

A recent article posted on a web-based tabloid regarding UCL’s somewhat irrational rivalry with King’s really boiled my tea. It had all the tenets of a promising point and nicely elucidated how arbitrary much of the rivalry is. It perhaps was even based upon the principle that this article embraces: that it is foolish to just accept stereotypes. Although some are founded in fact, many are utterly baseless and moronic. However, it baffles me when making such a good point that one would ruin it with a throwaway statement, such as:

‘The Varsity is a great event for all, but unfortunately winning makes our rugby teams all the more unbearable and only serves to heighten the “We hate King’s” nonsense on campus.’

Missing the irony of King’s-bashing aside, declaring all rugby players male or female as unbearable is just plain lazy. Some of the men’s rugby club are shy, retiring, introverted, teetotal types that stammer at women and live in the library. It is ridiculous to tar these people with a brush that can be applied to a minority. I’m not suggesting pull the world apart, but a critical outlook goes a long way. 

Before holding, believing or propounding an opinion one should at least analyse it. For example, “bankers are evil soul-eating monsters.” This is bandied around as if fact, but are the people asserting this aware of the economic benefit bankers pose both to themselves and the wider capitalist system? Are they aware that the cappuccino they’re holding and the Christmas jumper they’re wearing in Spring are a part of this system?

The late Jerry Cohen, a former UCL philosophy lecturer, noted how we are the product of our environment. One’s values and convictions are initially inherited. However, why should we not challenge these? To arbitrarily hold opinions defies the very nature of being a student. One of the great benefits of studying at UCL, from my experience, is the sheer diversity of opinions and perspectives on offer. Why come to university to learn if one is not willing to widely apply this principle?