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Stupidity is a sin, Repent!






How Stupid is Too Stupid

2008-08-31

Category: philosophies

We are all familiar with the idea that different people have differing intellectual capabilities. We also know that there is a difference between academic learning, informal learning, and experience based "common sense" that varies among people. There is the innate mental capacity and then there is the lack of the same. This raises the question as to when is the lack enough to start limiting what a person can do.

No one will disagree that persons with severe mental handicaps must be assigned care takers to help them through life. What about the cases where the limitations are not so severe? Is there a point where we get in the way there too? This dilemma often comes up in political discussions of the so called Nanny State where laws are passed to regulate things that most people believe should require no law.

The issue also comes to play in the case of tort law (civil law rather than criminal law). Should a user of a product be able to sue the manufacturer after being harmed by using the product in an odd manner even if the manufacturer didn't warn them specifically not too? Wouldn't it be better if we just labeled the person a moron and told them not to do it again?

One of the problems with intelligence has to do with its proper measurement. There are many tests that rely on knowledge rather than actual intellectual capacity. To get a real test requires qualified experts in the field and even they will tell you that they are learning new things all the time. Not everyone who claims some level of expertise can be trusted. There are plenty of psychologists out there who had to struggle to get the 2.5 GPA needed to graduate with their degrees.

In computer science, they race to create computer versions of intelligence. There they are working on the concept of complexity. A chess computer that plots out all possible moves for the next three rounds will likely be beaten by the computer that calculates the next five. Likewise, being able to handle a greater number of variables allows the computer to make a better estimate of correctness.

We humans also use the idea of complexity. We refer to a person who lacks intelligence as being simple. The belief is that they can not think of thinks in as complex a manner as others. Does this suggest that complexity of thought is the measure of intellect?

It is true that people we consider smarter have usually thought things out more fully and have considered extra factors that other did not. It also seems that intelligent people are more likely to have made connections between otherwise unrelated concepts. That also seems more complex. Can we use this in any practical way?

Once humans can be categorized and given an intellectual level, what would we do with the knowledge? This definitely would lead to discrimination, but would all of it be bad? I don't mean like having separate drinking fountain for smart and stupid people, but I'm thinking about in jobs, education, and various personal rights and freedoms.

It might be nice to tell someone that they are not allowed to be a surgeon because they just don't have the mental capacity to do so safely. On the other hand, would you tell someone that they could not vote because they aren't smart enough? Ok, most of you would. How about breeding? Would you tell someone that they could not breed because they were too stupid? Again, most of my readers would do that as well.

One is reminded of the eugenics practices of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At that time there were groups that wanted to create a master race through selective breeding. Most of the people, however, started with the notion that white people were almost there already and so they excluded others. This brought the idea into a poor light due to the fact that the people who engaged in the practice were themselves fairly stupid.

This brings up another point though. Is intelligence really the goal of the human species? Are there other characteristics that are just as if not more important? There is the stereotype of the nerd who has plenty of intelligence but is otherwise inept and weak. That, obviously, will not do.

The optimal choice is a combination of intellect and physical constitution. We want heroes with brains and the toughness to go up against the forces of nature and tame them. The future of the human race, as seen by some, is a species that goes forth into the Universe and plants its flag wherever it feels like it.

Other visions of the future have the species decaying through a lack of predation into slovenly, stupid creatures with no real survival skills. These degraded humans would be easily wiped out be disease and the rise of any new predators. That would be the end of the species.

The compromise between these ideas is that the species will develop into two separate species. One will be a tough but stupid group and the other will be an intellectual group. Though these concepts make for a good science fiction story, I think they are unlikely to be the case. There will need to be that other class: the hero.

You probably knew the athlete in school who was good at athletics but not good scholastically. You probably knew the other who were good at school but could barely walk. Did you happen to notice the rarity, the one who actually did do well in class and on the field? That's the one I'm talking about.

There are people out there who have the physical and mental capacity that balances out those who were born with severe handicaps. It is these people who will lead humanity into the stars. It is these people who will become the next great species. Of course, this all hinges on them not being eaten by the ever-increasing masses of the average and below.

So, what can we do in the meantime? First, it must be ok to say that someone is lacking in mental capacity. You must be able to fire someone for being too stupid. In fact, if the stupid coworker is causing too much stress the other employees should be able to sue the employer for creating an excessively uncomfortable workplace. (Normally I would oppose such litigation, but I think it is needed in this case to undo the hippy belief in not calling people stupid when necessary.)

We must also assign a negative stigma to being stupid. We can no longer make celebrities out of bimbos. When we tell young girls to study hard in school we must add, "You don't want to grow up with people thinking you're a stupid whore." We must also get guys to think that brainy chicks are hot. This will encourage people to want to breed with intelligent people and not morons.

Finally, we must make support research into intelligence. Some day we may be able to make people smarter so they won't spill hot coffee in their laps or listen to political advertising. Someday we can stop people from giving you a confused look when you?ve honked at them after they nearly run into your car when running a red light. Some day, we may be able to eradicate stupidity.


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