Some recent talk has got me reflecting upon the nature of stupidity once again.
You're probably right now asking, "Wes, what makes you such an expert on stupidity?" Well, I once stuck my finger in a live light socket out of curiosity. So why wouldn't I be an expert on stupidity?
When the subject of trees comes up, I'm as stupid as two postage stamps glued to each other.
But seriously, when you are a mutant as I am, your stupidities stand out in stark relief to those of the normal humans. You become more clearly aware of your own stupidities, while, at the same time, normal people's stupidities just drive you to the need for psychiatric medications.
A typical normal human stupidity is the Talk Over The Answer stupidity, or TOTA. People who exhibit TOTA have sense enough to ask questions when they don't know something, but their sense leaves them when it comes time to listen to the answer. They talk over it.
Sufferers of TOTA often have what I have identified as "negative IQ." I first discovered negative IQ when I was forced to team up on a job with a person who had a severe TOTA problem. Lets call her Ms. D. Even though I have at least an average IQ, I could tell that, while working as a team, Ms. D and I were two suits short of a full deck. I mean Ms. D brought my usual IQ down to somewhere around my ankles, and a job that took two hours to do by myself took four hours with her "help." Ms. D had a negative IQ.
One of my own stupidities that fascinates my friends is what I call my detail-discrimination impairment. This can take many forms in others, but for me it is a persistent, long term, inability to bring myself to make distinctions among objects that don't directly concern me.
For example, let's say my way is blocked by a tall woody leaf-bearing plant. I might be heard to utter something like, "Oh. Tree." To myself I might note whether the thing were a deciduous tree or a familiar evergreen, but that's about as far as I'd analyze the situation. Over the long term, since I haven't often noticed the differences between trees I've encountered, the result is that I can't tell most of them apart. Therefore, when the subject of trees comes up, I'm as stupid as two postage stamps glued to each other.
One more universal class of stupidities is what I call the Reversal Stupidities. The Reversal Stupidities manifest in a habit of thinking that if some idea isn't true, then the idea you get by reversing everything about the first idea has to be true. So you think if X isn't your friend, he has to be your enemy. You think that if X and Y are arguing, and if it's clear to you that X is wrong, then Y must be right. You think if evolution is false, creationism must be true, or vice versa. You think that if UFOs aren't glowing marsh gas, then they must be piloted by extra-terrestrials.
There is something about the hard-wiring of the human brain that causes otherwise highly intelligent people to jump to these sorts of conclusions. You have to always be alert to this kind of stupidity, and it doesn't help to think that you yourself are ever free of it.
What can help is an occasional "heads up" from a friend. We're all in this together. Here's a heads up to my well-meaning Pioneer Square neighbors who want to add limits on what alcohol can be sold there: your solution to the "alcohol impact problem" would in effect result in two sets of laws, one for the rest of the state, one for our neighborhood. We would begin to live in a de facto ghetto.
How about a solution that doesn't single Pioneer Square out for ghettohood? How about backing alcoholic treatment for everybody that wants it, wherever they live? Or, if you don't like that idea, think of a better one. How should I know what would work? But don't ghettoize my neighborhood just to inconvenience alcoholics.
Remember, they can buy their brands outside the neighborhood. I already do.
Adventures in Poetry Columns
© Dr. Wes
Browning's Home Page
The Great Speckled Bird Columns on Homelessness