31 07 11 - 01:11Awash in a tide of fools, empowered by equality:
Stupidity seems a concern to a growing group of scholars. Last month alone two arXiv papers appeared that both refer to a 35 year old essay by the Italian economic historian Carlo Cipolla entitled "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity". In this humorous yet thought-provocative treatise Cipolla warns against the power of stupidity. Three of Cipolla laws of stupidity I reproduce here. The first provides a definition for stupidity, and the latter two highlight the abundance and the effectiveness of stupidity:
"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."
"Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation."
"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."
Cipolla describes stupid people as an unstructured, yet powerful group. He argues that when you suffer due to the actions of others, it is likely not due to malevolent actions, but rather due to stupid actions. - Science20
As the old saying goes, never attribute to malice what stupidity/incompetence can explain.
In particular, note that our world is awash in incompetence, which is a result of being oblivious to results.
If you cannot tell the difference between a good result ("that's a sturdy house that will resist wind, rain and animals") and a poor result ("this shack of dubious construction will resist nothing stronger than a good wind") you are by definition incompetent.
Yet incompetence is popular because it's harmless, and we all like to have someone lower than us. For two reasons: (a) a legitimate reason -- predators will eat that person; (b) a social reason -- if the idiot is tolerated, we will be too (surely).
We're compounding it by, in the name of equality, praising the trivial and making the stupid feel "eeeekwale" to their betters:
Facebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives, a top scientist believes.
Repeated exposure to social networking sites leaves users with an 'identity crisis', wanting attention in the manner of a toddler saying: 'Look at me, Mummy, I've done this.'
Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, believes the growth of internet 'friendships' â as well as greater use of computer games â could effectively 'rewire' the brain. - Daily Fail
Maybe it's time for daily competence tests more complex than talking about sports/television.
Maybe in order to get there, we need a society that values those who rise about -- not those who are merely "eeekwall"
If we're lucky, we don't need pogroms against the stupid to get there.