Justified by Stupidity Alone?

 

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We live in an era in which the great majority of people nominally considered smart (on the basis of educational credentials, position, and social status) hold and vigorously defend incorrect, demonstrably wrong, or even absurd notions about history, sex and sexuality, race, agriculture, diet, economic development, fiscal policy, climate, energy, and human nature. Joe Biden and his idiot vice president are our true leaders by virtue of the fact that they are demonstrably free from the shackles of facts, consistency, logic, and grammar. The Stupid is strong in those two.

For generations, conservatives, as heirs of Edmund Burke, Russel Kirk, and William F. Buckley, steeled themselves to win the great debate on the grounds of high principles, armed with the rich abiding wisdom of Judeo-Christian tradition, and a wealth of insights drawn from art, philosophy, religion, and the lessons of history … only to find that the left has simply removed the intellects of the audience.  Yeah, it’s cheating, but it’s working.

Schoolchildren are now being subjected to indoctrination by perverts, our teens are immersed in vile confusion, and even the electrifying and uplifting victory of the Civil Rights movement is being tossed away in favor of weird new forms of dependence on the new whiteness, the patently silly woke posture. And the extent to which the right sorts, the modern equivalent of the Best and the Brightest, got COVID-19 policy completely wrong was truly stunning.

In my youth, I expected we needed to prep for the inevitable onslaught of Soviet-style Marxism.  I thought the ultimate internal enemy would be some clever, smarmy intellectual along the lines of Alger Hiss.  I never expected idiot hordes in groupthink lockstep to protect and serve Bozo the President while fostering the dissolution of our social and political fabric in an acid bath of pure stupid.

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  1. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Most of my leftist friends are not stupid. 

    Harvard Medical School professors are now apparently having difficulty discerning boys from girls, and are setting up coursework to help with this vexing problem.

    It’s not because they’re stupid.  It can’t be.  

    Willfully ignorant, I suppose?  Ok, but why?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.  

    But it can’t be simply stupid.

    Governmental organizations are notoriously poor at risk-benefit analyses, and will often come up with apparently stupid solutions to simple problems.  But why do perfectly intelligent private citizens follow their lead?  

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I agree. I would add, though, that stupid benefits from universal laziness. If all you need to do is go along, and all your needs will be met, and you only need to spew the propaganda that they gladly distribute to you, stupid is a slam dunk. It may start earlier, but that’s outside my wheelhouse.

    • #2
  3. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    “The problem with our liberal friends isn’t that they are ignorant it is that they know so much that isn’t so” – Reagan. 

    “Most of our problems today are caused by stupid smart people” – Dan Bongino 

    The problem is our elite universities are not teaching reality anymore they are now teaching an ideology.  People who graduate from these universities don’t know how the world really works.  They just know the cant that allows them to get into positions of authority inside our institutions and have the credentials to be part of the “elite”.   The modern elite however is much like the late medieval or late 19th century nobility.  Incapable of doing things effectively for themselves, and using their tremendous power and ability in counterproductive pursuits.  At the both previous times the scale of damage was limited by the nation state.  Now we have global elites so they can do damage on a much wider scale.  The problem for them and us is reality will win.  Hoping really hard isn’t going to change reality.  

    • #3
  4. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    I suggest that when thinking about stupidity, one must make a conscious effort to distinguish behavior from intellect. Bonhoeffer was clear that the two are independent of each other.

    Cipolla’s Basic Laws of Stupidity are worth considering in this light. He phrases all of his critique in terms of behavior, never making reference to anyone’s intellect. He then uses the suggestive term intelligent along side stupid, both describing behavior. He’s not being perverse, he’s demanding that we the reader consider the relation between personal intellect and observable behavior.

    Cipolla and Bonhoeffer agree that stupidity is a moral fault, not an intellectual one.

    • #4
  5. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    The modern elite however is much like the late medieval or late 19th century nobility.  Incapable of doing things effectively for themselves, and using their tremendous power and ability in counterproductive pursuits.  At the both previous times the scale of damage was limited by the nation state.  Now we have global elites so they can do damage on a much wider scale.  The problem for them and us is reality will win.  Hoping really hard isn’t going to change reality.  

    Reality needs to win faster.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Barfly (View Comment):

    I suggest that when thinking about stupidity, one must make a conscious effort to distinguish behavior from intellect. Bonhoeffer was clear that the two are independent of each other.

    Cipolla’s Basic Laws of Stupidity are worth considering in this light. He phrases all of his critique in terms of behavior, never making reference to anyone’s intellect. He then uses the term intelligent along side stupid. He’s not being perverse, he’s demanding that we the reader consider the relation between personal intellect and observable behavior.

    Cipolla and Bonhoeffer agree that stupidity is a moral fault, not an intellectual one.

    That makes sense to me, Barfly. When people worry about what others think, I worry more about what they will do based on their thinking. 

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Most of my leftist friends are not stupid.

    Harvard Medical School professors are now apparently having difficulty discerning boys from girls, and are setting up coursework to help with this vexing problem.

    It’s not because they’re stupid. It can’t be.

    Willfully ignorant, I suppose? Ok, but why?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But it can’t be simply stupid.

    Governmental organizations are notoriously poor at risk-benefit analyses, and will often come up with apparently stupid solutions to simple problems. But why do perfectly intelligent private citizens follow their lead?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But where is the pushback from the smart people?

    That’s what I don’t understand. Stupid or evil people have always been around. But in a free society, we’re supposed to produce intellectuals who can push back, like this guy:

    Konstantin Kisin | This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far – 7/8 | Oxford Union – YouTube

    Free speech should enable the smart people to speak up when madness descends. End of group insanity.

    Where are they?

    • #7
  8. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Most of my leftist friends are not stupid.

    Harvard Medical School professors are now apparently having difficulty discerning boys from girls, and are setting up coursework to help with this vexing problem.

    It’s not because they’re stupid. It can’t be.

    Willfully ignorant, I suppose? Ok, but why?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But it can’t be simply stupid.

    Governmental organizations are notoriously poor at risk-benefit analyses, and will often come up with apparently stupid solutions to simple problems. But why do perfectly intelligent private citizens follow their lead?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    Stupid is about wrong or missing reference points.  For example, my father is still a primary reference point.  He had no use for faking it or BS’ing or pretending expertise.  In Rumsfeldian terms, I know what I don’t know and don’t pretend that I do, and have no use for people who do fake it and expect me to defer.  For the modern intelligentsia, those kinds of referents have been replaced with The Narrative and the herd instinct.  Instead of relying on the cognitive tools and character formation that colleges and families used to provide, instead of questioning, requiring proof, and being possessed of a desire to brush away nonsense, there is only the immediate call of The Narrative–which can change on a dime like war with East Asia.  The referent is loyal membership and kinship with all the others who declare themselves smart by virtue of that membership.  That is a kind of baptism by desire into the state of stupidity.  Having once been smart does not change that state of affairs.

    • #8
  9. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Most of my leftist friends are not stupid.

    Harvard Medical School professors are now apparently having difficulty discerning boys from girls, and are setting up coursework to help with this vexing problem.

    It’s not because they’re stupid. It can’t be.

    Willfully ignorant, I suppose? Ok, but why?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But it can’t be simply stupid.

    Governmental organizations are notoriously poor at risk-benefit analyses, and will often come up with apparently stupid solutions to simple problems. But why do perfectly intelligent private citizens follow their lead?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But where is the pushback from the smart people?

    That’s what I don’t understand. Stupid or evil people have always been around. But in a free society, we’re supposed to produce intellectuals who can push back, like this guy:

    Konstantin Kisin | This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far – 7/8 | Oxford Union – YouTube

    Free speech should enable the smart people to speak up when madness descends. End of group insanity.

    Where are they?

    Political correctness was the beginning. That morphed into cancel culture. Now we have “we will destroy you culture “ 

    They keep there head down. All the above was intended to have just that effect. 

    Tyranny is now the order of the day. 

    • #9
  10. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Most of my leftist friends are not stupid.

    Yes they are.

    Harvard Medical School professors are now apparently having difficulty discerning boys from girls, and are setting up coursework to help with this vexing problem.

    That’s stupid. No, really it is stupid. Bonhoeffer would recognize it instantly.

    It’s not because they’re stupid. It can’t be.

    We don’t get to say what can or can’t be. Dietrich does in this case, I think. He thought harder about it, and was more immediately affected. He had a better mind than me, for certain.

    Willfully ignorant, I suppose? Ok, but why?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But it can’t be simply stupid.

    Governmental organizations are notoriously poor at risk-benefit analyses, and will often come up with apparently stupid solutions to simple problems. But why do perfectly intelligent private citizens follow their lead?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    Yes you do. I don’t want to admit they’re all morally broken any more than you do. But it’s stupid to ignore the problem. The problem is not anyone’s intellect or lack thereof. The stupid are just bad people.

    • #10
  11. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Barfly (View Comment):
    He phrases all of his critique in terms of behavior, never making reference to anyone’s intellect.

    Yes, it is not about IQ.

    • #11
  12. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    When people start using stupid in one and only one way, meaning “wrong”, it tends to confuse people who use stupid to mean “unintelligent”.  I tend to draw a distinction between smart and stupid in the same way I differentiate high and low intellectual ability — but I don’t exactly equate intellect with smartness.

    I think in this post, stupidity is being used in a very strict and exclusive sense, in which high intellect people think and act very wrongly.

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    MarciN (View Comment):

    But where is the pushback from the smart people?

    That’s what I don’t understand. Stupid or evil people have always been around. But in a free society, we’re supposed to produce intellectuals who can push back, like this guy:

    Konstantin Kisin | This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far – 7/8 | Oxford Union – YouTube

    Free speech should enable the smart people to speak up when madness descends. End of group insanity.

    Where are they?

    Old Bathos: Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless.

    I don’t know why, and I bet I wouldn’t like the answer. Part of it is that stupidity is insidious. It doesn’t come on us all at once. It seems we could have stopped the climate stupidity in the 70’s, for instance, if we had shut down Carson, Holdren, the population bomb guy, Saint Carl Sagan, maybe a few more. Hmm. No good answers.

    • #13
  14. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I think in this post, stupidity is being used in a very strict and exclusive sense, in which high intellect people think and act very wrongly.

    That is the only sense that makes consistent sense. Hanging on to the notion that “stupidity” ever implies “lack of intelligence” is …

    • #14
  15. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    The modern elite however is much like the late medieval or late 19th century nobility. Incapable of doing things effectively for themselves, and using their tremendous power and ability in counterproductive pursuits. At the both previous times the scale of damage was limited by the nation state. Now we have global elites so they can do damage on a much wider scale. The problem for them and us is reality will win. Hoping really hard isn’t going to change reality.

    Reality needs to win faster.

    Unfortunately as Adam Smith observed there is “a lot of ruin in a nation”, more so in the world as a whole which makes global elites more dangerous than the old aristocracy was.  It will take time for reality to win, but reality can’t lose so it is a safe bet it will win in the end.  It is starting in Europe as a cold winter without cheap gas from Russia is showing that the green agenda may not be all it is cracked up to be.  

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Free speech should enable the smart people to speak up when madness descends. End of group insanity.

    Where are they?

     I think some smart people are afraid of being attacked and ostracized. They probably worry about that possibility too much, but those kinds of fear and retribution seem to be everywhere. I doubt that the retribution is as severe as people think it will be. But fear wins out.

    • #16
  17. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Most of my leftist friends are not stupid.

    Harvard Medical School professors are now apparently having difficulty discerning boys from girls, and are setting up coursework to help with this vexing problem.

    It’s not because they’re stupid. It can’t be.

    Willfully ignorant, I suppose? Ok, but why?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But it can’t be simply stupid.

    Governmental organizations are notoriously poor at risk-benefit analyses, and will often come up with apparently stupid solutions to simple problems. But why do perfectly intelligent private citizens follow their lead?

    I honestly don’t understand what’s going on.

    But where is the pushback from the smart people?

    That’s what I don’t understand. Stupid or evil people have always been around. But in a free society, we’re supposed to produce intellectuals who can push back, like this guy:

    Konstantin Kisin | This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far – 7/8 | Oxford Union – YouTube

    Free speech should enable the smart people to speak up when madness descends. End of group insanity.

    Where are they?

    It’s hard to live up to one’s principles, even if smart. Mist of us live in d concrete day to day, not d theory, if you will.  And many are not presented with situations where they can do “something” that will (they think, or might, perhaps) make a difference, other than go long. Going along is easier- how many can/want to  give up their primary source of income for principle? How many people are willing to speak in public about things they like or know well, much less something they think will get them in trouble? It’s hard. 

    I think many (most?) don’t know how little the “something” that makes a difference can be. A significant factor is the large % of the population that has now had no formation in living a moral life in civilized society. The “Don’t Judge Anyone” ethos became dominant since I was in graduate school, but was being nurtured long before. It’s now entrenched as Nothing Matters Anyway. 

    • #17
  18. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    I honestly think it’s fear.   The dawn of social media and the well publicised immolation of those who anger the social media mob leave many in the position where they are afraid to do anything but parrot the party line.

    • #18
  19. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I think in this post, stupidity is being used in a very strict and exclusive sense, in which high intellect people think and act very wrongly.

    That is the only sense that makes consistent sense. Hanging on to the notion that “stupidity” ever implies “lack of intelligence” is …

    Well, regarding your lining out a couple words, I mean “includes high intellect people”.   I thought it saved me from going into smart people can be dumb and stupid people can be smart thing.

    I mean, in truth, I use smart as canny, cagey, “demi-wisdom”, and useful thinking no matter how simple — and stupid as anything less for any reason but including, and often especially, for low intellect.  It’s generally contextual.  I know lots of low-intellect people who act very smart, and lots of high-intellect people who say very stupid things.

    And very generally, sometimes I think very high intellect people have the lowest social intellect (which is at least half of life), show broadly the least creativity outside their field of expertise, and possess the least knowledge about common everyday things.

    That’s why concerning intellect, I don’t get particularly pedantic about what words describe what.

    • #19
  20. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    This one has a lot of meaning for me:

     

    “Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain

    • #20
  21. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Old Bathos: For generations, conservatives, as heirs of Edmund Burke, Russel Kirk, and William F. Buckley steeled themselves to win the great debate on grounds of high principles, armed with the rich abiding wisdom of Judeo-Christian tradition, and a wealth of insights drawn from art, philosophy, religion and the lessons of history only to find that the left has simply removed the intellects of the audience.

    The Left has formed these so-called intellects. They have controlled education and have brain-washed the new generations. We mistakenly fell for the social truce they call tolerance and have allowed this stupidity to happen.

    Archbishop Chaput has some sobering words for us:

    A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square — peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.

    We’ve failed in large part. We caved into their social truce.

    • #21
  22. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    He phrases all of his critique in terms of behavior, never making reference to anyone’s intellect.

    Yes, it is not about IQ.

    Exactly. I once had a very experienced, very clever lawyer who appeared to be smart on most occasions, but when the chips were down in an adversarial situation would blurt out the most stupid things.

    • #22
  23. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Barfly (View Comment):
    The stupid are just bad people.

    Or, at least, foolish. Foolish being the opposite of wise and wisdom meaning understanding how things really are.

    • #23
  24. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Wonder if Asimov read Bonhoeffer?  (“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”)

     

    There is a willful stupidity as well as an inherited stupidity.

    • #24
  25. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Part of the problem is that Intelligence/ Expertise has become highly specialized in modern society.  Someone could be extremely intelligent in his own sphere of knowledge and absolutely out of his depth in a different sphere of knowledge; however, our elite believe because they are successful in their own lane they are qualified to opine on other fields where they have absolutely no competence.

    Unfortunately two things have happened in the 21st century that make this worse.  First a whole host of nonsense/worthless fields of “Expertise” has been developed.  Secondly these worthless academic disciplines have taken on an outsized role in forming elite opinion.   This has lead to a development of a group of “experts” without any real expertise and no conception of how the world really works.   In truth we would be better off if our leaders were populated by welders, plumbers, and carpenters  at least they have skills which translate into the real world and an understanding of the way things actually have to work. 

    • #25
  26. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    Part of the problem is that Intelligence/ Expertise has become highly specialized in modern society.  Someone could be extremely intelligent in his own sphere of knowledge and absolutely out of his depth in a different sphere of knowledge; however, our elite believe because they are successful in their own lane they are qualified to opine on other fields where they have absolutely no competence.

    True, but is it relevant to what they do? That remark makes sense if you’re talking about personal competence and intellect – the vague thing that Flicker thinks about. Stupidity is a different thing, a distinct mental flaw. It happens at a higher level than basic g, general intelligence. It is more a thing we do, than a thing we are.

    • #26
  27. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    kedavis (View Comment):

    This one has a lot of meaning for me:

     

    “Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain

    In this case, I’m embracing the power of “and”.

    • #27
  28. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    Part of the problem is that Intelligence/ Expertise has become highly specialized in modern society. Someone could be extremely intelligent in his own sphere of knowledge and absolutely out of his depth in a different sphere of knowledge; however, our elite believe because they are successful in their own lane they are qualified to opine on other fields where they have absolutely no competence.

    True, but is it relevant to what they do? That remark makes sense if you’re talking about personal competence and intellect – the vague thing that Flicker thinks about. Stupidity is a different thing, a distinct mental flaw. It happens at a higher level than basic g, general intelligence. It is more a thing we do, than a thing we are.

    I think it is when you have very specialized knowledge in an extremely narrow field that isn’t particularly rigorous or grounded in reality you are going to behave in very stupid ways.  You may have a great deal of general intelligence but you have built a substandard mental map.  Therefore when you try to generalize away from the thing you “know” you make a lot of mistakes.  As you point out you do stupid things.  In a certain sense it is what a person is, or rather it is a element of what he has been trained to be.  This is what makes undoing the damage so much more difficult.  

    • #28
  29. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    I think it is when you have very specialized knowledge in an extremely narrow field that isn’t particularly rigorous or grounded in reality you are going to behave in very stupid ways.

    Yeah, having one’s head too deep in one thing gives one an excuse to ignore what’s important.

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    You may have a great deal of general intelligence but you have built a substandard mental map.  Therefore when you try to generalize away from the thing you “know” you make a lot of mistakes.

    There I disagree a little mostly agree. When smart people go stupid, they don’t try to generalize or reason. Their sense of confidence may carry over, but not much else. They assume that they know – which is exactly what the dumb do when they go stupid.

    • #29
  30. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    I think it is when you have very specialized knowledge in an extremely narrow field that isn’t particularly rigorous or grounded in reality you are going to behave in very stupid ways.

    Yeah, having one’s head too deep in one thing gives one an excuse to ignore what’s important.

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    You may have a great deal of general intelligence but you have built a substandard mental map. Therefore when you try to generalize away from the thing you “know” you make a lot of mistakes.

    There I disagree a little. When smart people go stupid, they don’t try to generalize or reason. Their sense of confidence may carry over, but not much else. They assume that they know – which is exactly what the dumb do when they go stupid.

    It is a quibble only but I think what they do in making that assumption is a generalization; however, I agree the effect is precisely the same.  They do stupid stuff and generally are proud of it.   

    • #30
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