people so stupid????? Honestly, why?
Such a deeply,
deeply philosophical question. And yet so frequently asked as to be
There are a multitude
of reasons why people are so stupid, which partly explains stupidity's
enduring popularity as an abundant element of the universe. So we'll
list 'em, scientifically, and in no particular order.
You may or may
not have noticed this, but humans are a rapidly growing element of
earth's ecosystem. Since humanity's hardscrabble beginnings many thousands
of years ago, all the way to the sophisticated complexity of today's
sprawling mass of Other People, the human population on earth has
been growing. Not consistently, not steadily, but relentlessly nonetheless.
As species go, we are currently jaw-droppingly successful. In other
words, there are more and more of us all the fucking time.
not hurt us one bit. We were stupid a long time ago, we are still
stupid, and yet we continue to reproduce enormously successfully.
Whether or not you are pleased with this turn of events I leave to
you, but the underlying moral is clear:
not hamper reproduction! Stupid people breed. Stupidity may in
fact help our ability to reproduce quite a bit. Anyone who has ever
gotten married, had children and later wondered - why did I do that
anyway? Oh yeah, that's right, I was really stupid - can attest to
the helpful effects of stupidity on the mating, dating, and attraction
process. Not thinking clearly is very helpful in making the whole
mystery of chemical attraction seem worth pursuing.
On the other hand,
thinking too clearly and being too smart or too sensible can really
really fuck it up. Thinking too much can badly inhibit the bonding
process. The bonding process, which is essential for human
survival, doesn't give a damn about what we think of as smartness,
it cares about irrationality and chemicals, both of which it highly
values. None of us would put up with each other for a moment if it
weren't for the saving graces of stupidity and bonding.
and naturally get very confused about this, because they are taught
to think that what makes us successful as a species is our intelligence.
We think we rule the earth because we are smart. We do not rule
the earth, and evolution does not select for smartness, it selects
for survival. Cockroaches rule the earth and they are smart enough
not to think it's because they have big brains.
This is not to
say we aren't intelligent as a species, in fact, we are. But we are
intelligent for a reason. Or actually a couple. One reason is that
we are designed to be modular, adaptable to a wide variety of climates
and environmental conditions from Alaska to the Congo. But so are
a lot of other species, and they don't run around inventing indoor
The other reason
is that we have to get along with each other to survive. Again, we
are not the only species like this - bees have to get along with each
other too. But you combine our modularity with our need to get along
and you get culture. Or a system in which individuals of the species
can be born into any of a huge variety of cultures, none of which
the organism can predict before its born, and the poor organism has
to develop a big brain of a certain kind just to figure out what the
fuck is going on and how it has to act to survive in its particular
environment. Combine this with two other factors - language,
which was probably an evolutionary accident (whoah, get a load of
this!) and which creates many complications, and lack of bodily
defenses like fur and claws - you've got something more or less
resembling a human being.
It's this desperate
need to get along with each other under unpredictable circumstances
that makes us invent indoor plumbing and freeway systems and astrophysics.
We have to fucking cooperate with each other to survive the elements
and each other and so we turn a large portion of our efforts toward
smartness. We don't have fur and we get cold peeing outside,
so we invent plumbing. We don't have claws, so we invent arrows and
guns. We need to keep in contact with each other so we invent freeways,
so we can zip around meeting each other in various places. We might
need astrophysics to keep asteroids from zooming into us. We have
to figure out how the fuck to get along with each other, so we invent
laws, and philosophy, and literature, and justice, and commerce and
a whole bunch of other stuff. We do all this smart shit to survive,
not because God loves smart shit. Roses don't act all that smart,
but there's nothing to indicate God doesn't love them. We're smart
because it's complicated being modular and social and defenseless
and chatty. You need a big brain just to deal with all the fucking
possibilities. Which is exactly what our brains are designed to do.
Being smart doesn't make us human - being human made us smart.
All this emphasis
on smartness might seem out of place in a rant on stupidity - but
I bring it up for two reasons. One is the surprise factor.
It's the fact that we're smart that makes us so wide-eyed with astonishment
and anger when we realize how stupid we are - we expect better from
ourselves - but that's only because we're stupid.
Our chatty defenseless
modular sociability forced us to develop social brains to keep
track of all the madness, and it is the social brain that thinks we're
really smart. It values intelligence for its ability to come up with
polio vaccines and electric lighting. Ironically, however, your social
brain, the one that is patting you on the back for being smarter than
everyone else - is also the part of your brain specifically designed
to be incredibly fucking stupid. The other parts of your brain
can't ignore reality, because they rely on it, sensory input, information
about blood flow and volume and pressure and digestive juices, and
hunger and fatigue and cold, and so on. Your social brain on the other
hand, relies on Other People instead of reality, which inclines your
Social Brain to dramatic outbursts of complete fucking idiocy.
Let's take an
example. Wearing ties might be pretty fucking stupid, but a
number of people have worn them over the years. Tying a knot around
your neck might not seem like the best way to convince God that you're
a smart species, but it's not by far the stupidest fashion idea any
culture has ever come up with. There's always been heavy competition
in that category (hey, how about we all stick a bone through our
nose!). But the Social Brain, the one that encouraged us to build
the automobile, will seize upon something like a tie, as if it was
just as good an idea as Advil (which it wasn't by the way, Advil is
one of the best ideas anybody has ever come up with, period).
Because the Social
Brain reasons like this, 'I don't know why everybody around you is
wearing ties to work, but if you want to survive this mess of a culture
you got yourself into, you damn well better wear one too.' And it
will reward you immensely if someone says 'nice tie!' Even though
you are just as glad when you get a different job and never ever have
to fucking wear one again. Stupid as ties are, they do not interfere
with your ability to reproduce, tie-wearing people breed. In fact,
if everyone in your goddamn environment is wearing one, then not having
one, or having a crappy one can hurt your ability to breed. Because
people will say to themselves, what the fuck is wrong with that guy?
Doesn't he know how to dress? And they will think you are socially
defective, which you might very well be, in spite of the fact you
are smart enough not to wear one of the neck-chokers, and all the
pretty women will mate furiously with the stupid tie-wearing people
and leave you out in the cold with no money and the very chilly comfort
of being smarter than all the people who won't breed with you.
Other People and
sex and bonding are way more important than intelligence and if there
is a conflict between the two, the smart money's always on stupidity
Of course, wearing
ties is just one example of a whole host of stupid human behaviors
that manage to exist and survive and not prevent people from breeding.
Okay, so now
it's time for a fun interactive activity!
up ten really really really stupid things people do that get on your
nerves really badly that don't seem to stop people from breeding.
Write them down
so you won't forget them. Number them from one to ten so that you
will seem very organized. Make a space between each stupid activity.
Now stare at your
list in total annoyance and frustration. Do this for a few seconds
for effect. Then take a sturdy writing implement and after each stupid
thing people do write this phrase with bold, loud, aggressive firmness:
And yet these people breed!!! If you are a devil-may-care type,
write this phrase in red so it
will really stand out.
This will make
you feel a lot better. Do this frequently after watching the news,
a notorious hang-out of stupid people who abuse their children, shoot
old ladies for no reason, get drunk and drive over innocent bystanders,
and so on. The world is full of stupid, bad stuff that doesn't stop
people from breeding and it will make your brain feel much better
to acknowledge the fact. When you acknowledge the twin realities,
that the bad stuff is stupid, and yet people breed, it will be like
something clicks inside your brain and suddenly it gets it. The reasons
for your hatred and anxiety and frustration will become clear and
nicely sorted into the places in your mind that they belong.
brain will know the one thing it's been longing to know all the time,
which is what it's supposed to do about this insanity, this stupidity.
Which is acknowledge it, name it, identify it, and oppose it - not
wonder why the fuck it's there.
you acknowledge that stupid people breed and that's basically not
going to change, your brain gets overheated with frustration
because it accidentally thinks there's no reason for stupidity
and it ought to magically go away without any effort on your part.
And it gets more and more frustrated when stupidity doesn't magically
go away. It will drive itself insane on this point if you let it,
chasing itself around in circles like a dog after its tail, until
you are exhausted, incoherent and very very grumpy. There is a reason
why your brain does this of course - and that's because it's stupid!
Of course, there
are many more exciting reasons why people are stupid than mere
breeding. And since the subject of stupid people fascinates you, you
will naturally want to know what they are. Which is why you are going
to click over to the next page, even though it's a very very bad
Stupid Reasons for Stupidity....