187 - Stupidity

stupid (adjective) stupider, stupidest

  1. 1.lacking intelligence or common sense: I was stupid enough to think she was perfect.

  2. 2.dazed and unable to think clearly: apprehension was numbing her brain and making her stupid.

  3. 3.informally used to express exasperation or boredom:

stupid |(noun, informal); stupidly (adverb)

  1. 1.a stupid person (often used as a term of address):

  2. 2.a person or an idea exhibiting stupidity

Examples of usage:

I can't believe my own stupidity

one of the stupidities of our age

a comedy of infantile stupidity

you're not a coward, stupid! 

she told him to stop messing with his stupid painting.

1.behaviour that shows a lack of good sense or judgment: the quality of being stupid or unintelligent: that state that follows from having a load on information on a topic and then failing to use it.

Stupidity - failing to use the information you hold.


stupidity (noun)

stupid (adjective) stupider, stupidest

  1. 1.lacking intelligence or common sense: I was stupid enough to think she was perfect.

  2. 2.dazed and unable to think clearly: apprehension was numbing her brain and making her stupid.

  3. 3.informally used to express exasperation or boredom:

stupid |(noun, informal); stupidly (adverb)

  1. 1.a stupid person (often used as a term of address):

  2. 2.a person or an idea exhibiting stupidity

Examples of usage:

I can't believe my own stupidity

one of the stupidities of our age

a comedy of infantile stupidity

you're not a coward, stupid! 

she told him to stop messing with his stupid painting.


  1. 1.behaviour that shows a lack of good sense or judgment: the quality of being stupid or unintelligent: that state that follows from having a load on information on a topic and then failing to use it.

  2. 2.a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit or sense. Stupidity may be innate, assumed or reactive – a defence against grief[ or trauma. (wikipedia).

  3. 3.pejorative term equivalent to fool, idiot, dumb, moron.

  4. 4.mental slowness in speech or action (Theophrastus, via wikipedia)

  5. 5.Etymology: from the Latin stupere, to be numb or astonished.


I show above some definition of the words based on stupid. I have no issue with the states of stupidity caused by external factors such as grief, somewhat less tolerance for self-inflicted states such as drunkenness but none whatsoever for those caused by a failure to do thinking. I apply those opinions to myself as thoroughly as I do to others. When trying to research enough to make (more) sense and while looking for an image to use at the top, I came across a number of posters, many of which I have taken the words from and posted below.  My favourite, in the context of this page. is:


The definition of stupidity: seeing the truth, knowing the truth

and choosing to still believe the lies.


This is quite different from failing to disagree with the opinion of others; it is significantly an internal failure. That is similar but different from the several sayings (quotes, homilies, whatever) referring to stupidity and love. These, to my mind, demonstrate that what looks like a sensible and current set of (life) choices will be disregarded in the face of finding what seems to be a life-partner. I have no difficulty in accepting that as a situation; an external event can cause reconsideration of all previous decisions.


No, what I have a problem with is much more the situation described in blue. Not quite the same, but closer to that than the other sayings. I suppose one could say is that what ’gets’ to me is the decision that is based on no admitted basis (and) that flies in the face of that which is admitted. All my data says I/we should do <this> but despite all of the evidence we’re going to do <that opposite thing>. That is a failure: where this is a failure to admit a value being ascribed to emotion, I decry that failure (the admission, not the emotion). Where this is obstinacy, I call this stupidity. Mostly I simply jump to the label of stupidity.

I found, in searching for images to use, a lengthy set of cards from sources such as  som(ee)cards, Rotten cards, and yourEcards with sayings3 such as:

• If you don’t stop being stupid, the “bitch slap” in my hand might activate

• I’ll start being nicer ( or sarcastic, or an asshole) when you stop being stupid

• Stop being stupid - it’s my turn

• It’s great to fall in love. You stop being stupid for no reason and start being stupid for a reason.

• Love is being stupid together    (probably a popular one, best expressed, in my opinion by..)

• Follow your heart but take your brain along too because there’s a thin line between being in love and being stupid.

• Stop of being stupid    (the recursive version)

• There is no reward for being stupid! So please stop competing!!

• Being stupid is easy; the hard part is to hide it.

• Somebody can become a celebrity for being stupid. That’s what it’s come down to.

• Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot bit not for me to point it out?

• I rejoice that despite being stupid enough for ten, your vote counts only once. Therefore you cannot vote to your level of stupidity. Huzzah!

Indeed, I’m afraid I rate this sort of stupidity as near-criminal, by which I mean that whatever goes wrong in co

nsequence

receives no sympathy from me. I’m famous for a lack of sympathy mostly because so many occasions fall into the category where I deem it inappropriate. A very few (designated friends) will recognise the truth of that.


I extend this concept.

What offends is failure to use available information, that is to take uninformed decisions. There are layers of stupidity here, from a mild case that you might describe as failure to do due diligence (you could have found out but didn’t) up to what really gets my goat1, where you had the information in your possession and failed to apply it. Shades of grey possibly earning sympathy apply if you didn’t recognise that <this> information applied to <that> case for decision.


I do not claim to be immune from stupidity. Those who worked with me in China will be well aware that I’d call myself stupid quite often. I  enjoy occasions when someone attempts to change my opinion—when they do that constructively, by providing extra information. I would say that these were generally occasions when I had misread cultural symbols (applied European values to a Chinese). Forgivable to the rookie, not for my greater experience—to put that another way, I would label myself stupid for having failed to apply an earlier lesson. You could say I failed to learn from experience; once is error, twice is failure to apply the lesson learned, thrice is clearly stupidity.



This description of stupidity is not entirely but largely separated from my observation of the Far Eastern observation ‘say one thing, do a second, think a third’. This state I mostly ascribe to double-think as in 19842, holding two contradictory beliefs and ascribing to both. How else could one say one thing and believe something else entirely?. I have been exploring this extensively and one partial answer is that one tells lies internally. Answers to “how do I feel about this?” are modified so heavily by the situation (i.e. to whom one might be talking besides yourself) that what is said to minimise offence or to agree as much as possible with the ‘other’ causes the internal admission to be fault-ridden. Or, in my simplistic binary thinking, to be untrue and therefore a lie. A ‘lie’ because is is contrary to the true belief; far too often not just a little bit different but wholly opposite.  A near-truth may be a political omission, but a counter-truth is a lie indeed and in deed. I find, far too often, that what purports to be an opinion or a statement of belief is far less, more akin to an echo response. In marital terms, as “Yes, dear” can so often mean “Whatever you say” and by implication may reflect (inflect?) such possibilities as  “I don’t want to argue/ talk/ participate”, so that may reflect a refusal to engage. Fine, this is not stupidity (well, not as defined above). However, I find myself of the opinion that when one says things that one does not mean then the consequences must be borne when you are found out to have deceived. But this problem is exaggerated when the first level of deceit has been internal.

Personally I do not understand how this can occur. I understand that one can change one’s mind and, for me, that occurs when new information comes to light, when information is lit differently or when some apparently external event changes many otherwise unconnected opinions. Hence the labelled stupidities of falling in love.



I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state (“Where did that come from?” you think) in that I encourage you to hold whatever beliefs you enjoy as long as you do not inflict those upon me by trying to change my opinion. By all means explain the basis of your belief; by all means give me extra information, but let me form my own opinions and beliefs. Of course that opinion and belief is something I put out in an attempt to persuade others to agree, so I must at some level be betraying my own rule. [You have chosen to read this; I am not pushing it upon you. No fault, according to my rules, then.] What then do I find offensive about people proselytising? Perhaps it is the uninvited nature of the persuasion. If I welcome a conversation with someone who holds a different opinion, that, usually, is an enjoyable experience provided we can agree to disagree. It is those occasions where that, the acceptance of the existence of other opinions, is denied that we have the creation of unrest. Which one could characterise as a breach of tolerance. Most of the religious wars are formed over a lack of tolerance.4 (Historians please consider and send me the result.)


The obvious current example would be the current state of opinions on in/out—Remain or  Leave—of UK in Europe). The dearth of believable fact (such as any number that both sides can agree upon) has created a situation where holding to any ‘fact’ is tantamount to having decided which camp you fall in. Which in turn has come to mean that what you believe must be in some pre-emptive way be determined by the ‘facts’ or numbers you choose to trust. Which, in turn again, means that no-one will ever hear an unbiased piece of information. This is mad, maddening and a recipe for disaster: or, at least, disastrous for voting based on things that should not be the bases5 for forming opinions. All the terms one learns in Critical Thinking about false arguments apply here.


DJS 20160401

I think the top picture shows someone using a laptop. In a manner that I suspect they think of as ‘secure’. My son tells me this image is likely to be of someone doing some audio input (e.g. as part of an online course) for later upload—and far cheaper than hiring a recording studio. That makes far more sense than anything else that comes to mind, enough to explain the evident purposed knitting.  However, I used it for its first impression, to me, of stupidity.




1 to “get one’s goat”  from phrases.org.uk we have this not terribly helpful explanation, of which the substance is that one’s goat is also one’s temper when raised. Or roused.

The dictionary definition of goat is 'a ruminant quadruped of the genus Capra'. What's that got to do with being angry? Given the meaning of 'get your goat', we might expect to find goat as a slang term meaning anger or annoyance. That meaning is recorded in the US book Life in Sing Sing, 1904, which goat is given as a slang term for anger.

The phrase originated in the US and the first entry in print that I can find comes from a fanciful story about a burst water pipe that was printed in the US newspaper The Stevens Point Daily Journal, May 1909:

"Wouldn't that get your goat? We'd been transferring the same water all night from the tub to the bowl and back again."

The expression took a few years to cross the Atlantic. The first non-US citation isn't found until 1924 in the English author John Galsworthy's story White Monkey, and even there it is clearly seen as a recent innovation:

"That had got the chairman's goat! - Got his goat? What expressions they used nowadays!"

The following year, The Times printed a piece in memory of the then recently deceased Friedrich Baedeker. This included a side-swipe at American tourists and uses the phrase as a typical piece of Americana:

"... goggled Americans whispering aloud, 'Wa-al Sadie, these durned three star things get my goat'!"


A commonly repeated story which purports to explain the phrase's origin is that goats were placed with racehorses to keep them calm. When ne'er-do-wells who wanted the horse to race badly removed it, that is, they 'got someone's goat', the horse became unsettled and ran badly. That's just the sort of tale that gets the folk etymology juices running. Let's just say that there's no evidence to support that story.


2 1984, George Orwell. doublethink - Reality Control. The power to hold two completely contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accept both of them. An excellent example of doublethink in modern society is the war on drugs. Again, consider this and send result to me.


3 There are several of the discovered posts with which I disagree. I will call these offered sayings posts here:

        Smart listens to the head, stupid listens to the heart     

This post is saying that all emotion (the label I use for what comes from the ‘heart’) is necessarily stupid. I disagree: emotion is an expression of unrecognised factors such as predicted happiness with a result, It may be spoiled by false wishes for the future. Recognising that the heart has an input can modify decisions helpfully. Post rejected. This is for me too close to accepting that people can be stupid in love but then inverting that whole by deciding that the only way one can be that sort of stupid is through emotion. Rejected.

        Stupid isn’t afraid to fail

Well smart, the implied opposite of stupid, can quite easily choose to accept a failure as a learning process. Entrepreneurs will tell you that a success rate of 2% is not bad but 10% is wonderful. If we learn from our mistakes then the corollary smart is afraid to fail says to me that smart is afraid to learn. Not smart at all. Post rejected.

        Smart may have the brains but stupid has the balls

Much the same as the previous post and rejected. However, if having the balls means doing something because testosterone is the driving force, in which case this is a chemically-based decision, post accepted. Stupid is as stupid does. Just possibly, ‘having the balls’ to do something is more about the subsequent bragging rights that the sense of the proposed action. In which case situation understood and, possibly very stupid.


4 One of my favourite religious stories is the description of a guided tour of heaven, usually given as part of a far longer story, in which there is a walled-off region in heaven with lots of boisterous enjoyment audible. “What’s in there?” asks the new incumbent. “Oh, that’s the Catholics—they think they’re the only ones here”.


5 the plural of basis is bases. Really. Isn’t English confusing? Or is this bit Greek?

© David Scoins 2017