I must confess a certain degree of irritation at the bluster with which the ignorant will try to put forward half baked ideas as though they were gospel truth. The media are often guilty of this: often, when I have been close to a subject that was being reported in the press or on television, I have heard statements that were misleading, partial or just plain wrong. As a result I have learned to read or listen to even our more distinguished commentators with one ear cocked for misrepresentation and inaccuracy.
The pity of it is that on quite a few issues the media have helped to create "conventional wisdom" that is simply wrong. For example, on politicalbetting.com- a excellent website which I read fairly avidly- I see posters regurgitating statements that are completely wrong. These errors are not just of opinion, but of fact. For example, Conservatives, determined to prove that the Euro is a failure, try to blame wholly unrelated problems in the European Union entirely on the European Central Bank. I appreciate that monetary policy is complicated, but displaying simple ignorance of the whole basis of how the ECB actually works I rather think disbars one from pontificating on the subject.
I also find that so many Brits like to think in stereotypes: the complicated reasons for the recent French strikes are distilled into "The French are lazy". Other national caricatures, like "The Germans are arrogant", have become part of the intellectual furniture of far to many people in the UK. Usually ignorant of either the place or its language, British visitors often seem to travel round continental Europe in a haze of prejudice. I am glad to see Sir Geoff Hurst advertising the German tourist board- perhaps it will remind people that, whatever our history, Germans are by and large very much our friends (and so, by the way are the French, Italians and most Europeans) - and the generation that now chants "two world wars and one world cup" mostly can not remember any of those events. Those that were alive through the wars were determined not to build up the barriers that led to war in the first place. If we persist in our ignorance of our neighbours and continue to denigrate them and their culture then we too will have become a stereotype, and it is not an attractive one. The boorish, drunken, violent "hooligan"- a word that has developed some surprising currency even amongst those countries that we do not choose to mock.
Stupidity is simple, the world is complicated- those commentators and politicians whose casual judgments shape opinion may wish to reflect on this- for with the advent of new technology, including the blogosphere, they may find their days become numbered.