In high school I had three BFF’s (Best Friends Forever!) all of them had higher grades than I did and being somewhat insecure about that I thought that meant they actually knew more than I did. I am still friends with one of them but this tale involves the other two, I’ll call them Jen and Jane. During a conversation I only vaguely remember I used the word “cobbler” as in “He lives across the street from a cobbler.” Be aware that I grew up in Calgary, AB Canada, but my parents immigrated from Britain years before I came along, so I knew a number of ‘funny’ words. So I use this word “cobbler” and Jen and Jane both look at me like I am insane and proceed to laugh and instruct me on the *fact* that “cobbler” is not a real word because neither of them had ever heard of it. I told them the definition as I understood it – someone who makes shoes or repairs them – Nope, the correct name for that person was a “Shoe-maker” they said, laughing some more.
Try as I might I could not convince them through argument alone; and they were quite smug in their surety and after all it was two against one so clearly I was wrong. In other words their own ignorance of the word meant that its very existence was impossible and in thinking that it was possible I was insane or at the very least deluded. They KNEW there was no such word with no such definition. They KNEW – they didn’t need proof. Proof was irrelevant. In fact a few days later when I pointed out this non-existent word in a dictionary, Jen’s response (in a withering superior tone) was, “whatever it’s not like it’s important!” Just because you’ve never heard of something does not mean it is impossible, was my response, or something similar. Yes, this was high school, yes teenagers are tyrants, but to me this exposed my two friends as being more concerned with being “right” than being “factual.” I started to see that academic success did not equate critical thinking skills or save a mind from the herd mentality.
Basically they did not want to admit that I knew something they didn’t, so to salvage their ego’s or their belief in their own superiority they completely dismissed the possibility that they could be wrong, and once faced with the facts dismissed them as unimportant. This is precisely the same problem I have with religion and “spirituality.”
Just because you want the fairy tale to be true doesn’t mean that it is, just because generations of people have been brainwashed by rich and powerful peddlers of fairy tales doesn’t make it good, true or useful! Just because you think you are right and everyone you know agrees with you doesn’t mean that you are actually, factually, correct. Opinion is not fact. Belief is not evidence.
The most trying part of this experience was being made to feel stupid, irrational and deluded because I disagreed with, what was for them, an *Obvious truth* I was quite stupified by how arrogant they were in their ignorance and I have never quite figured out how to deal with people who are so willfully blind.
Thanks for reading.
1. One who mends or makes boots and shoes.
2. Archaic One who is clumsy at work; a bungler.
[Middle English cobeler.]
P.S.… any advice on how to deal with my “spiritual” sibling would be much appreciated – particularly how to respond to “I know you’re an Atheist, but I KNOW this really happened to me” - followed by some story of a ghost or evil presence in the room etc ...UGH!