Have we always been this stupid or is it something new?

Have we always been this stupid or is it something new?

I would prefer an intelligent hell to a stupid paradise – Blaise Pascal

And you were silly enough to think the core question consisted of “To be or not to be!” But since I’ve been seriously contemplating the titular dilemma and we’ve been covering stupid people at length, I thought it time to delve into the central issue directly. And that process commenced with a reconsideration of those halcyon St. Nick’s grammar school days in which the yardstick wielding sisters weren’t too terribly patient with the slower students. It may not have been the kindest approach, but it worked!

The first and foremost consequence was that stupidity wasn’t celebrated, it was disparaged, which meant even those curriculum challenged students made an effort to keep up. The more fascinating second side effect was those greater Catholic expectations drove everyone to do just a little bit better. I considered myself an astoundingly average elementary/middle school student and I was as shocked as anyone when I was placed in all honors high school classes.

Perhaps it was that private school paradigm that encouraged me to believe that, given a reasonable educational shot, most folks would persist in the learning process because they’d rather be regarded as intelligent than the converse.

But that was 1970 and this is now and it’s clearly NOT the case. Not only has stupidity become a cause célèbre, but folks are wholeheartedly embracing the notion of unrepentantly displaying their unbounded ignorance at every social media turn. To wit, some of the responses to last week’s column on local teachers suing to avoid COVID vaccines were so far beyond the pale that even this semi-jaded journalist was stunned.

One Facebook friend sent me a video of two women testifying – ON TELEVISION before the House Health Committee, no less – that the vaccine made them “magnetic.” And they weren’t talking about their personalities, either! The saddest part was they were not nearly deterred by one a testifier’s repeatedly failed attempt to get a housekey to “stick” to her neck.

And it was no different closer to home, either!

One local social media “pundit” dismissed the vaccine by claiming it kills two people for every life it saves, and no amount of evidence could convince him otherwise. Another declared they’d never take a “government vaccine” despite the blitheringly obvious reality that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it. Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson did!

And it ain’t just COVID, either! Because I made the mistake of offhandedly dismissing the nitwits who still believe the election was stolen to what I once considered a smart friend. But she immediately pounced by providing a slew of absurd anecdotal “evidence” of rampant Illinois voter fraud, and my contention that fraud was unnecessary in a state Trump lost by 17 points barely slowed her roll.

Faced with this newly absurd brand of pervasive and impenetrable stupidity, I started deliberating on the chicken and egg nature of this dynamic. More specifically, have we always been this stupid, or is it a relatively recent phenomenon borne of COVID and these insane hyper-partisan times where politicians pander to intellectual deficits.

Sadly, after thoroughly discussing this proposition with a particularly insightful friend, I decided it’s gotta be the former. Apparently, Americans have always been this stupid and it was only the former lack of input and outlet possibilities that served as an effective barrier against that collective ignorance from becoming an epidemic. Sure! There have always been crackpot conspiracy theories and, if you were in the mood, you could drive down to Bughouse Square and listen to all the loons.

But now, through the eternally horrifying auspices of social media and the 24/7 media news cycle, the crackpot conspiracy theorists and intellectually challenged can come directly into your family room. And as it turns out, stupid people have no inherent immunity to this insistent ignorance onslaught, particularly when the Net provides the capacity for low IQ folks to directly connect with each other.

What other circumstance could possibly explain Q-Anon’s wide appeal?

Though I really didn’t want to have to admit that stupidity has always been this pervasive, there is a certain solace in the knowledge that we’ve always been this dumb. First, unlike Einstein’s infinite stupidity theorem, just as it is with matter and energy, stupidity must be a finite quantity. That means we’re not getting stupider, it’s just that we’re being exposed to a heck of a lot more of it.

Then there’s this!

If humanity has always existed at this level of imbecility and we’ve somehow still survived, then despite the dumb folks best efforts that lengthy trend will likely continue. It would seem that, aside from natural selection, evolution has built in a number of specific stupidity failsafes to prevent civilization from collapsing into an idiocy fueled black hole.

It’s the only possible explanation for why we’re still here.

So, rather than be disheartened by this revelation regarding my fellowman’s enduringly frightening folly, I’ll simply resign myself to thats sad fact and move on to better things. Considering those permanent yardstick scars, I also have to add that it’s particularly bizarre to suddenly believe we could use a lot more 1970’s nuns!

All that aside, as far as this 100,000 light year galaxy goes, aside from my regular readers, there’ absolutely no sign of intelligent life!

 

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