On Stupidity

NewEngland Seeker

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I stumbled on this excellent 6 minute YouTube video of Theory of Stupidity by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued that stupid people are more dangerous than evil ones. This is because while we can protest against or fight evil people, against stupid ones we are defenseless — reasons fall on death ears. Bonhoeffer's famous text, which we slightly edited for this video, serves any free society as a warning of what can happen when certain people gain too much power.

This is an excellent insight of why we see so many angry and violent people demanding everyone to obey the totalitarian regimes. He realized that the stupid are amoral and that is why they weak and puppets of the regime. I would only add that they are stupid, amoral, perverted and cowards. Which perfectly describes the entire Biden administration. :shock:

Enjoy.
 

Skyfall

The Force is Strong With This One
I think was Schiller that remarked " against stupidly not even the Gods " or something along those lines.
I guess that the only remedy against stupidly (stupidity as explained in the video ) is the gathering of information ,which is a long and hard work in itself as everybody on this forum is well aware , only by gathering information one can hope to make sound choices and avoid to became "stupid".
I know ,this is nothing new ...but still......
 

pecha

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
The video is in line with what Laura learned about what constitutes the everyday evil. It's not evil in the way it is traditionally thought, in that it comes from a deeply seated malice and agenda to hurt others, but rather it stems from ignorance. One's self-importance can blind oneself and and harden their mind to other possibilities, which has a seriously deleterious effect to those that they cross. "Forgive them father, for they know not what they do".
 

msante

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm not saying the video is bad, but I think Bonhoeffer (or at least what the video says about him) perhaps made some good observations about society and human behaviour, although he doesn't seem to have made a great discovery, others have observed the same things before as well. Putting a name or a label on it (stupidity) may be practical at some point and even sound sympathetic, but for the purposes of understanding the complex underlying phenomenon I don't know how much it can contribute because it is a simplistic reduction of a phenomenon that is complex and diverse in variables.

I think "stupidity" would perhaps be an acceptable name to refer to the symptom, to the overt aspects of the phenomenon, but it would seem to me rather narrow and pretentious if we were to use it to explain the causes of human behaviour.
 

Pluchi

Padawan Learner
I can say that I have been stupid, and it wasn't until I gathered information on matters that I realized how stupid I was. I agree with Skyfall in that by gathering information one can hope to make sound choices, but I truly believe that the powers that be know the importance of keeping us in the dark (unaware/confused/uninformed), and they have designed a society in which we are essentially distracted or extremely busy. Lots of people who act stupid sometimes do it in good faith because they actually believe that they hold "the truth" and are doing something good. It is a genuine belief and it is interesting to watch. Likewise, sometimes stupidity is a choice; in this regard, Bonhoeffer states that "action springs from a readiness for responsibility." Some people turn on the tv and get the "news" from the mainstream media because researching alternative, non-biased sources takes time and effort. Networking, discussing, reading, researching requires effort and, again, time, and as much as it can be fun, some people are so overworked that they have no energy to commit to getting out of the darkness. Sometimes though, when I think that someone is acting stupid, I remind myself that we are at different points in our evolution and we 'wake up' when we are ready. I also remind myself --after I learned about soulless people, that there are portals everywhere too, and maybe fundamental stupidity is an innate trait of portals.
 

Metrist

Dagobah Resident
Are you a Duke, or are you a Dim-wit?

There's a video game I played recently, and it's setting is in the early industrial revolution... and in this carnival-like setting are vending machines that dispense industrialist propaganda - with two marionettes that play a role of Duke, and Dim-wit.
And they compare each others actions in a given situation, with the intent to make the viewers want to be Dukes, as the case for it is obvious - contrasted with the Dim-wit.

So, it is like a crude, early form of mass-media, and programming.

It is like an appeal to logic by which the Dukes receive instruction. Outside this sphere are Dim-wits, not influenced by the manipulation, and therefore Dim-wits.

In either situation is the process of categorization, where the intent is to indoctrinate the Dukes, and get the Dim-wits to become Dukes.

So, stupidity is a worse enemy to manipulation, and more an ally to goodness, as goodness is inclusive, whereas manipulation demands action upon which to turn its gears.

'Are you stupid?! Good God man, get busy!'
 

Lathyrus

Padawan Learner
While I do think that the term 'stupid' is more than a little derisive, the conclusions drawn from this are very correct IMO. While we can expect an 'evil' or consciously malicious person to behave in a rationally self-serving way, the ignorant person may engage in behavior that is logically contradictory in one way or another even to the point of running contrary to their own ultimate self-interest, making them erratic and unpredictable. In this respect, I think the views shared by the others here are also quite correct... Insofar as ignorance within ourselves is concerned, we should always strive to seek and refine our knowledge yes, but I think the general thrust of this question is not in regards to how to deal with "stupidity" within ourselves, but how to deal with it when it comes to those we find in our environment. As Skyfall suggests, there is no apparent solution to this, as you cannot "reason out" a person that has not reached their own conclusions on a rational basis but rather due to the use of emotional thinking, and if you have to rely on force or something equally brutish in order to get them to adhere behaviorally to one's viewpoint then you have not given them any kind of real "knowledge" but only obedience. I guess, if they aren't asking for real knowledge in some form, all one can really do is exercise a form of 'strategic enclosure' and leave them to figure things out on their own terms. They'll come around when, or if, they're ready.
 

gottathink

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Oxford English Dictionary gives a definition of stupid:
In a state of stupor or lethargy; slow witted, lacking in sensibility, obtuse.
stupor:
Dazed state, torpidity, helpless amazement.
Torpid:
Dormant; numb; sluggish, inactive, apathetic.
So I think Bonhoeffer is accurate in calling stupidity a moral state, a lack of taking responsibility for one’s own thinking.
 

Skyfall

The Force is Strong With This One
I have to agree with Lathyrus , that maybe the term "stupid" is a bit derisive, maybe should be something like "unthinking " rather than "stupid " or something similar , just to indicate that is not related to somebody dumb or slow witted, which in everyday parlance is called stupid , but has more to do with an attitude or behavior of not taking full responsibility , hence really became a moral issue. Also agree with Pluchi , and I really think that in the end, one of the most important factor is energy or the lack of .

If we look at this from a practical perspective , seems quite clear that the system is designed to keep you on your knees ,to suck energy out of you,.
You are working 8 - 9 or sometimes more hours per day , at the end you are stressed and exhausted, but life goes on and so you have to deal with other issues ,spouse, children , the fridge is empty and you need a run to the supermarket ,or other thousand things that you can think of ,and given that we live in a physical world all these things needs to be taken care of and they require your attention and energy.
So finally the sun is setting , who can blame you when you switch on your TV or lazily surf the net (probably only reading the headline rather than the full article) searching for "news" and thinking that you did your "research" and you are now "properly informed" and up to speed ? Who can blame you , you have not an ounce of energy left , the media beating down on you with incessant propaganda, in this state you cannot really discern much and so you drink the lies thinking them truth ,is really a Pavlovian experiment.
So that's why as Pluchi pointed out ,many people acting (stupidly) but in good faith , they really think that they have the truth, but this doesn't make them less dangerous, Bonhoeffer and countless others paid with their life ....

So to a certain extent the psychopath in power and the subservient press are right , there is a pandemic ,but not of Covid 19 , but a pandemic of "stupidity" that they themselves unleashed on the world (probably long ago) and is now is spreading almost unchecked , as Bonhoeffer said "the power of the one need the stupidity of the others".
In the end, given that you cannot reason with "stupid" we can only exercise caution and keep distance, and working to maintain our own sanity , however is also very important (or so I believe) never to forget that they are victims , I have been "stupid" many times in my life and despite my efforts , who knows maybe to a certain extent I'm still one..... certainly there is no one that can claim the all truth..
 

Laura

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There's also this that I posted back in 2013:


The title of the book is in the subject field, but I don't think I want to put it in the books section.

It is written by historian/professor of economics, Carlo M. Cipolla and it is a real little gem. 71 pages.(basically an essay printed in a little booklet.) The entire text can be found here:


You can read about the author here: Carlo M. Cipolla - Wikipedia

You can buy an e-copy if you like: Amazon.com: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity: The International Bestseller eBook : Cipolla, Carlo M., Taleb, Nassim Nicholas: Kindle Store

I chuckled a lot, but darned if he isn't onto something.

These are Cipolla's five fundamental laws of stupidity:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

The probability that a certain person (will) be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
 

Michael B-C

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FOTCM Member
A connection perhaps between Stupidity and Dunning–Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.

The term lends a scientific name and explanation to a problem that many people immediately recognize—that fools are blind to their own foolishness. As Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."

From the video transcript:
There are human beings who are remarkably agile intellectually yet stupid, and others who are intellectually dull yet anything but stupid. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or rather, they allow this to happen to them. People who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals in groups. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem.

It becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power, be it of a political or religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. Almost as if this is a sociological-psychological law where the power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, such as intellect, suddenly fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up an autonomous position.
 

Joe

Administrator
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FOTCM Member
Putting a name or a label on it (stupidity) may be practical at some point and even sound sympathetic, but for the purposes of understanding the complex underlying phenomenon I don't know how much it can contribute because it is a simplistic reduction of a phenomenon that is complex and diverse in variables.

I think "stupidity" would perhaps be an acceptable name to refer to the symptom, to the overt aspects of the phenomenon, but it would seem to me rather narrow and pretentious if we were to use it to explain the causes of human behaviour.

Depends on how specific you want to be. I think "stupidity" is a very accurate macro statement on the situation, when viewed over time and scale. Note also in the video that Bonhoeffer went into detail explaining that these "stupid" people effectively give up what independence they had in favor of group think and trite statements from authorities. That's rather more detailed that just "stupid", and it's very true of the covid world today.
 

Joe

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I can say that I have been stupid, and it wasn't until I gathered information on matters that I realized how stupid I was.

And that's the point: there are masses of people out there who, when having internalized a belief or ideology, appear to be UNABLE to realize the error of their ways, at least until it is waaay to late. That, IMO, is the definition of stupidity: the inability to recognize the error of one's thinking and take corrective action before disaster ensues.
 

Michael B-C

Ambassador
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Bonhoeffer's theory has been taken up by others. This short video explores 5 principle laws of stupidity as outlined by Italian economic historian called Carlo Cipolla. The fundamental at the heart of his equation seems to be that true stupidity can be defined through actions that lead to loses to oneself as well as loses for others. Which quite neatly summarizes all those who proudly take the jab without knowledge or thought about the likely outcomes for themselves or for others (namely long term health decline for self and the destruction of society for others via enforcing group think compliance with tyranny).

 
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