In the nowadays of whacked-neurotic life, the grace of being stupid does have its momentum. However, to be ‘stupid,’ one would suppose you first had to do/say something ‘stupid‘ in order to qualify — a preceding act of stupidity.
Beyond the non-scientific disclaimer of ‘stupidity is understood/recognizable when witnessed,’ what’s the real, verifiable definition of something ‘stupid’ and what makes it so? Apparently, common sense appreciates stupid.
News item this week on a scientific answer to what we call an ‘act of stupidity’ — researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, and Baylor University in Texas teamed up to produce supposedly verifiable results to what is viewed as being ‘stupid.’
(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Harlequin Head,’ found here).
Test subjects for the study were Hungarian college students, with 79 percent being female, so there’s a slant for culture and gender, but they still came up with enough on ‘stupid.’
Results in the latest issue of Intelligence magazine (abstract at ScienceDirect) seems to reveal more shame to power: ‘The level of observed stupidity was always amplified by higher responsibility being attributed to the actor and by the severity of the consequences of the action.’
The ‘stupid’ details, via Real Clear Science:
“The first situation in which people call an action stupid is when the actor takes high risks while lacking the necessary skills to perform the risky action.
A typical story for this is when burglars wanted to steal cell phones, but instead stole GPS navigation devices.
They didn’t switch them off so the police were able to track them easily.
We named this category ‘Confident ignorance.’
The second cluster consisted cases of ‘Absentmindedness – Lack of practicality’… A typical story here is when someone inflates more air in the car tires than allowed.
Here the person either forgot to pay attention to the action or he or she doesn’t know something essential about tire inflation.
The third category is ‘Lack of control.’
Cases here are thought to be the result of obsessive, compulsive or addictive behavior.
For example, one of the stories in this category described a person who canceled a meeting with a good friend to instead continue playing video games at home.”
Or backward-Gump: “Stupid does as stupid is.”