Sometimes criticism is nothing but an individual’s ignorance writ large

Monday January 09 2023

In a world awash with billions of websites and online platforms, information is cheap and free, but also verifiable. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH


Social media is awash with talk of the problems around us so much so that we are blinded from seeing the solutions when they are dropped on our laps.

In one of his famous speeches aptly named “The man in the ring,” US president Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”

When critics have their voices continuously amplified, like they do on social media, their ignorance becomes the knowledge of the day and before long, the benchmark and standard of excellence!

People who have never done anything significant with their lives have become coaches overnight. Every champion needs a coach but,, who are you getting advice from?

Years ago, I rued a critic that attacked me at every opportunity. When a friend arranged a meet, they did not even know what I looked like!

It is dangerous to have an opinion on something you are ignorant in/of, yet ironically, in our society, the ignorant are the greatest critics and greatest purveyors of unsolicited advice.


Napoleon Hill writes in Success Habits that opinions are without value because they are based on bias, prejudice, intolerance, guesswork or hearsay. Most people have opinions on every subject imaginable but the majority of those are worthless because they were not derived through practical or scientific means.

A society run on opinions based on ignorance is endangered. Values and morals will crash, and even as they do, the ignorant will cheer them on. When you age, you observe a lot and see different fads come and go. Each fad’s “experts’”tell you it is the newest thing poised to change the world. People rush headlong into these but as noise and “feeding frenzy” dies down, the self-styled experts disappear. Expertise based on assumption and powered by ignorance is toxic.

We must be selective about where we get our information. In a world with billions of websites and online platforms, information is cheap and free. How do we ascertain the veracity of the information we come across?

First, judge by the source. Do they have a reputation that can be messed up if they post wrong or misleading information? If their information leads me up the wrong path, can they be sued?

Second, which other credible sources corroborate the information? There is no monopoly of knowledge or information so deploy other credible sources.

Third, know the background/source of information. Ensure sources are objective and never be carried away by hype.

Finally, we are all subjective to some degree but the ability to submit our views and beliefs to the objectivity of a truth index will differentiate the mediocre from the great.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is that of knowledge. A society that cannot be influenced by the ignorant is on its way to greatness. May 2023 be a year of light where the power of ignorance over us is broken forever.

Wale Akinyemi is the founder of the Street University. Email is [email protected]