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Encyclopedia > Stupidity

Stupidity is the quality or condition of being stupid, or lacking intelligence, as opposed to being merely ignorant or uneducated. This quality can be attributed to both an individual (e.g. Penny Person is stupid) or a person's actions, words or beliefs (e.g., Penny Person's policies are stupid). The term can thus also refer to poor use of judgement, or insensitivity to nuances in a person who is otherwise intelligent. The determination of who is stupid is relatively difficult, despite attempts to measure intelligence (and thus stupidity) such as IQ tests. The adjective is also used as a general pejorative (e.g. I didn't borrow your stupid cap - go look for it yourself). Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Stupid is a word meaning lack of intelligence or stupidity. ... Intelligence is a property of mind that encompasses many related mental abilities, such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. ... Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, or a willful lack of desire to improve the efficiency, merit, effectiveness or usefulness of ones actions. ... IQ tests are designed to give approximately this Gaussian distribution. ... A word or phrase is pejorative if it implies contempt or disapproval. ...

Contents

Manifested by the educated

Recently a great deal of attention has been paid to another class of stupidity: stupid actions by those that are very educated and worldly. It is an important subject as it is increasingly evident that powerful, and generally very intelligent, people sometimes do stupid things. In recent years a number of notions such as groupthink have been developed to explain this. This is a fairly new topic for researchers and there are still few academic works on the subject, though in the 19th Century Oscar Wilde wrote There is no sin except stupidity. [1] Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. ... Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. ...


Otherwise intelligent individuals may also become stupid when their rational thought is derailed by strong opinions or rigid beliefs. In this case the victim falls into confirmation bias and begins selecting data: becoming intentionally blind and deaf to contrary evidence, while at the same time collecting evidence which supports the beliefs. Rather than being based on low intelligence or missing knowledge, this is the stupidity of closed-mindedness and willful ignorance. Note that modern science specifically evolved to combat this form of stupidity. During scientific thought we should constantly criticise our own beliefs and assumptions (attempt to disprove hypotheses), while also using humility and extreme self-honesty to reduce our ego-based biases. It has been suggested that Myside bias be merged into this article or section. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... Humility is a quality or characteristic ascribed to a person who is considered to be humble. ... Cargo cult science is a term used by Richard Feynman in his 1974 Caltech commencement address to describe work that has the semblance of being scientific, but is missing a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty. // The speech is... eGO is a company that builds electric motor scooters which are becoming popular for urban transportation and vacation use. ...


The Encyclopedia of Stupidity by Matthijs van Boxsel is based on the author's contention that "stupidity is in fact the foundation of our civilization" and his idea that no one is intelligent enough to realise how stupid they are. This is not as stupid as it sounds if one includes in the definition of stupidity "unwitting self-destruction, the ability to act against one's best wishes". A saying attributed to Albert Einstein is "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Stupidity may be more accurately viewed not the opposite of intelligence but as a kind of flawed or absence of intelligence, the darkness that makes the light of true intelligence visible. Contrasted with ignorance, which is the lack of knowledge, not the lack of intelligence. Matthijs van Boxsel is a literary historian who believes that no one is intelligent enough to understand their own stupidity. ... Albert Einstein( ) (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who is widely considered to have been one of the greatest physicists of all time. ...


A popular aphorism goes, " The stupider something seems, the more important it probably is. "


In comedy

For as long as comedy has existed, stupidity has been a source of immense entertainment and laughter. Generally the entertainers are merely pretending to be stupid. The buffoon of ancient plays is the progenitor of a venerable lineage that continued through Falstaff, Bottom, Goofy, Eccles, Norman Wisdom, Jerry Lewis and countless others, and is portrayed in contemporary Western culture by characters such as Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin. The fool/buffoon has been a central character in most comedy. Today there are a wide array of television shows that showcase stupidity, from the America's Funniest Home Videos genre to shows like Jackass. Often the greatest stupidity is deliberately generated by very smart minds such as the Oxbridge comedy of Monty Python or Da Ali G Show. Comedy has a classical meaning (comical theatre) and a popular one (the use of humour with an intent to provoke[[ laughter in general). ... A stilt-walker entertaining shoppers at a shopping centre in Swindon, England Entertainment is an event, performance, or activity designed to give pleasure or relaxation to an audience (although, for example, in the case of a computer game the audience may be only one person). ... Pretending to be stupid is a very old comedy device. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Adolf Schrödter: Falstaff and his page Sir John Falstaff is a fictional character who appears in three plays by William Shakespeare as a companion to Prince Hal, the future King Henry V. A fat, vainglorious, and cowardly knight, Falstaff leads the apparently wayward Prince Hal into trouble, but he... Nick Bottom is a character in Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream who provides comic relief throughout the play, and is famously known for getting his head transformed into an Asss head by the elusive Puck within the play. ... It has been suggested that Goofy holler be merged into this article or section. ... Eccles is the name of a comedy character, created and performed by Spike Milligan, from the 1950s United Kingdom radio comedy series The Goon Show. ... Sir Norman Wisdom, OBE (born 4 February 1915) is an English comedian, singer and actor. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Western World. ... Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons, voiced by Dan Castellaneta. ... Peter Löwenbräu Griffin is the lead character in the American animated television series Family Guy. ... Americas Funniest Home Videos (often simply abbreviated to AFV, previously AFHV), is an American reality television program on ABC in which viewers are able to send in humorous homemade videotapes. ... Jackass is an American television series, originally shown on MTV from 2000 to 2002, featuring people performing various dangerous, ridiculous, and self-injuring stunts and pranks. ... Oxbridge is a name used to refer to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the two oldest in the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world. ... Monty Python, or The Pythons, is the collective name of the creators of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. ... Da Ali G Show was the name of two related satirical TV series starring British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and featuring the character Ali G. The original (single season) series was made by Channel 4 in the UK, and the second (two season) series by HBO in the US. The...


Use as a sales tactic

Pretending to be less intelligent than your prospect is a form of pretending to be stupid without irony that is exploited by salespeople. As in most fields, to be successful in sales requires a great deal of intelligence and empathy. However, if one is selling something, the prospective buyer must feel as though he is in control. Therefore, it can help to know how to pretend to be stupid. The most successful salespeople tend to be extremely intelligent despite their 'idiot facade', particularly when their prospect is of above average intelligence, or is himself trained in such sales techniques. The television character Lieutenant Columbo used this technique to solve crimes. See also Socratic irony Pretending to be stupid is a very old comedy device. ... Irony, from the Greek εἴρων (iron), is a literary or rhetorical device made of iron, in which there is a gap or incongruity between what a speaker or a writer says, and what is generally understood (either at the time, or in the later context of history). ... Columbo. ... Irony, from the Greek εἴρων (iron), is a literary or rhetorical device made of iron, in which there is a gap or incongruity between what a speaker or a writer says, and what is generally understood (either at the time, or in the later context of history). ...


This mode is akin to the satirical tradition of supposedly naive observers, such as Oliver Goldsmith's supposedly Chinese letter-writer in 18th-century London, in The Citizen of the World, and others, including Montesquieu's Persian Letters.


Individual vs collective stupidity

In psychology, this is known as deindividuation in crowds, and can lead to behaviours usually not displayed outside the specific social situation. The behaviours occur because individuals will conform to perceived social norms in order to 'fit in' or project an impression of self as "normal". Deindividuation refers to the phenomenon of relinquishing ones sense of identity. ... A throng of people returning from a show of fireworks spill in to the street stopping traffic at the intersection of Fulton Street and Gold Street in Lower Manhattan. ... In sociology, a norm, or social norm, is a pattern of behavior expected within a particular society in a given situation. ...


References

  • Matthijs van Boxsel. De encyclopedie van de domheid. 1999. Translated by A. and E. Pomerans as The Encyclopedia of Stupidity. London: Reaktion Books, 2003. ISBN 1-86189-159-8, 2005 edition: ISBN 1-86189-231-4, Book description at The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature

See also

The Darwin Awards website logo A Darwin Award is a tongue-in-cheek honor named after evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, given to people who supposedly improve the human gene pool by accidentally killing or sterilizing themselves during a foolish or careless mistake. ... The World Stupidity Awards was founded in 2003 and recognizes achievement in ignorance and stupidity during the past year. ... A genius is a person with great intelligence. ... Look up ignorance in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Irrationality is talking or acting without regard of rationality. ... Low comedy is comedy characterized by horseplay, slapstick and farce. ... In mathematics, the lowest common denominator or least common denominator (abbreviated LCD) is the least common multiple of the denominators of a set of vulgar fractions. ...

External links

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Stupidity
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  Results from FactBites:
 
Stupidity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (958 words)
Stupidity is the quality or condition of being stupid, or lacking intelligence, as opposed to being merely ignorant or uneducated.
The determination of who is stupid is relatively difficult, despite attempts to measure intelligence (and thus stupidity) such as IQ tests.
The Encyclopedia of Stupidity by Matthijs van Boxsel is based on the author's contention that "stupidity is in fact the foundation of our civilization" and his idea that no one is intelligent enough to realise how stupid they are.
Stupid - Encyclopedia Dramatica (151 words)
When somebody says that "___ is teh stupid" they always mean definition #1.
"Stupid" is also most usually the first ad hominem of someone who has just been completely pwned - which leads us to definition #2.
Don't let this happen to you; always keep your finger on that cute little nubbin on your mouse.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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