Ignorance can be fixed: we’re all born ignorant. But stupid is forever.
What is stupidity, though? What are its salient characteristics? How do we distinguish its effects from those of disease or injury?
*Stupid was always there. It didn’t start as a hard knock to the head.
*Stupid can’t learn from experience. If fact, stupid people can’t learn at all, mostly because they think they already know everything. Stupid does the same thing again and again, even when it always turns out badly. People who are not stupid can learn from the experience of others, even if that experience is only recorded in a book. But stupid can’t.
*If you’re not stupid, you can look at various factors in play and, by dint of common sense and ordinary prudence, add them up into the most likely outcome. Like, you see cracked ice with water on it, you probably conclude that it would be unwise to try to walk across it. But if you’re stupid, you either never add things up at all, or else come to a completely wrong conclusion for entirely wrong reasons. Like, “I can walk out there because the ice is already cracked so it won’t crack again.”
*Stupid is always drawn to stupid. If you are a jidrool, other jidrools will strike you as really smart and cool people whose company you want to cultivate. You will also think that demonstrably stupid ideas, like socialism, are smart. And genuinely stupid individuals never even suspect that they themselves are stupid. They think they’re wise.
No one has ever devised a way to fix stupidity. What we are good at is spreading it around. Public education, “entertainment,” and our politics ensure an inexhaustible supply of stupid.
If only there were a sure-fire way to undo the damage…