When you think I am "entitled" in the sense in which people currently misuse that word, then you lose the ability to communicate with me and have me on your side in anything. Just like "stupid," the thought will destroy your ability to convince. I think that one's not worth it either.

These conflicts seem to be a basic property of how human minds work. When we have the thought about others being "stupid" or "entitled," we put our brains into a state in which they can't perform the computations necessary for effective communication and empathy. It doesn't matter exactly how it works, though; what matters is that it's true and we have to deal with it. There's no getting around it by trying to use different, politer words. There's no escaping it with intelligence or training. Smart people and educated people don't seem to be any better at avoiding this trap than anybody else. Sometimes quite the contrary. We all have to make the choice between thinking people are "stupid" and convincing them. We all have to choose between thinking people are "entitled" and having their cooperation.

I have a friend who believes that the practices called alternative medicine are based on delusions, and he works hard trying to help people who he sees as having fallen into those delusions. He doesn't achieve his goals in that realm very often. I have several friends who are concerned about what they call "entitlement" in relation to things like gender and race. They write a lot about it and get positive feedback from each other but don't convince very many of the people whose attitudes they want to change. I fall into the trap frequently myself. Many times I've tried to talk to people I thought weren't as smart as me or as deserving as they claimed to be, without getting what I wanted from the interaction. Nobody is exempt. Everybody has to face it.

Is it so important to you to think that I am "stupid"? Is it so valuable to you to think that I am "entitled"? Are those thoughts your important values? The price of having those thoughts is that you will never be able to convince me of anything and you will never be able to have my help in changing the world. It's not enough to try to hide them behind politeness. Human beings aren't actually capable of hiding those kinds of thoughts. You can't have those thoughts at all and also have real communication. Are "stupid" and "entitled" worth what they cost?

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