I’ve been thinking, as I imagine many people have – how it is possible for so many breathtakingly stupid people to inhabit so many positions of power and influence worldwide?
I think I have the answer – maybe we all measure “smart” the wrong way.
Let’s say a group of scientists puts together a list of everything involved in being Smart. A Scale of Smart. And then let’s say (isn’t this fun?) that those scientists are somehow able to rank-order all 7 Billion humans on this planet using their Scale of Smart. Maybe NSA could help. They are probably already doing something like this anyway.
So once the data is crunched, somewhere on the planet there would be one person who was #1 on the Scale of Smart. The smartest person. Lots of people would assume that this was them, but of course there can be only one. So we would have a lot of pissing contests. And also of course, somewhere there would be one person with the crushing burden of 7 Billion+ smarter people sitting on top of them. Poor soul. It probably wouldn’t even occur to them. Carry on little friend.
Some other interesting ideas flow from this totally imaginary but eminently possible “Scale of Smart”.
At least half the people in the world are going to have average smarts, or less. One quarter are going to be profoundly stupid. At first glance, it might be natural to expect that people so low on the Scale of Smarts would be easy to identify. After all, they do seem to be on the road 24/7 – that should make it easy.
But, are we really talking about Billions of people walking (or driving) around actually looking stupid?
Perhaps in at least some cases, yes. Gently setting aside those in whom the human genetic code has simply failed, and who are obviously stupid, there are also those people who are unfortunate enough to be born or raised in circumstances that cause them to be stupid, regardless of what they may look like.
One way unfortunates on the lower 25% of the Scale of Smarts can NOT be identified is by observing them do the same stupid things over and over. That behavior is universally human, up and down the Scale of Smarts, and is not a good way to zero in, if you wish, on the poor souls in the lower regions behaving stupidly. Everybody does it.
However, there is a group on the lower end of the Scale of Smarts who we all know. We see many of them every day, both in person and on the media. I’m talking about truly stupid people who don’t obviously look stupid. They are effectively disguised, usually because they have a lot of money, and lots of hired help to keep them from looking stupid. It is common everyday observation that an amazing number of truly stupid but wealthy people inhabit the top echelons of society and control everything. Business. Corporate. Military. Banking. Religious. Philanthropic. Social Service. Education. Government.
And the rest of us shake our heads and wonder what the fuck is going on.
I think I have the answer. Maybe it’s this simple. Maybe whoever constructed the Scale of Smart forgot to include low cunning.
Because if low cunning were included in the Scale of Smart none of these people would ever have been classified in the lower 25%. No way. Yes, they are stupid in every other way, The Scale of Smarts isn’t wrong. It’s just that they’re really, really cunning, and it is the lowest form of cunning, so they don’t need to be smart in any other way. If they are excellent at being low cunning that’s all they need.
For these people, being stupid on the Scale of Smart actually helps. They don’t have any sort of higher self to get in the way, and it never occurs to them that what they are doing in life may be causing other people pain and suffering.
There are probably a few other omissions by the creators of the Scale of Smart, but they all relate to cunning. Certain mental pathologies, for example, allow extremely stupid people to rise to positions of power and wealth, but it is through psychotic cunning. Inherited wealth makes it easy for stupid people to automatically assume positions of power and influence or simply consume in grand style, all unrelated to their actual position on the Scale of Smart. With enough money, of course, you don’t even need cunning yourself. There are plenty of cunning people for hire.
The point I’m trying to make here? There seems to be an algae-like bloom of stupidity in our society these days. It’s everywhere. But let’s not underestimate the destructive power of truly stupid people just because they meet all the obvious criteria on the Scale of Stupid. No matter how wealthy or powerful they are, or how many idiotic things they do (or tweet).
Let’s not forget that they are cunning, and that’s all it really takes. Smarts are a dime a dozen, and so is wealth. But low cunning – that’s the key to real destructive power.