What Is Stupidity?

All of us, as we go through our lives, are called upon to evaluate other people. Are they decent, honest, could we be friends and can I trust them?  When it comes to deciding whether to trust others, we would naturally ask ourselves whether they can keep a secret, fulfill a promise and be loyal and supportive. And there is yet another standard we ought to consider. That is, whether the other person is smart enough to be trusted.

You will probably vote many times in your life. You may go into a partnership with someone. You may have a professional do your tax returns or help you plan for retirement. In those cases you want to rely on a smart person. The question is this: how accurately can you distinguish stupid from smart?

Spotting stupidity may not always be so easy, especially if the individual in question appeals to our emotions or opinions such that we don’t notice his/her lack of intelligence. Because we are all liable to make such errors, let’s examine what defines stupidity. Consider the following criteria.

Stupidity consists of …

Inability to learn basic operations in math, science and language arts.

Inability to comprehend, process and retain information.

Stubbornness. Grudge-holding. Rigidity.

Refusal to accept reality.

Inability or refusal to learn from history.

Inability or refusal to learn from personal mistakes.

Inability or refusal to learn from the mistakes of others.

Opinions based on emotion and hunches, rather than on facts.

Impulsive decision-making without anticipating consequences.

Inability to detect a false argument.

Poor problem-solving skills.

Inability to draw a logical conclusion.

Inability to adjust behavior and attitude to suit the occasion.

Inability to sense the needs and welfare of others.

Lack of self-control.

Use of violence and/or intimidation to settle conflicts.

Notice that some of the above are not within some people’s control; such people simply lack certain kinds of intelligence. However, some of these criteria are, indeed, subject to our control; in those cases, if the individual makes no attempt to better himself, evidence of poor character emerges.

It should also be noted that some people can be brilliant in one area of their lives, and clueless in other areas. You probably know about the endless stream of sex scandals involving celebrities, financiers, CEO’s and politicians. On one hand, their accomplishments may have distinguished them. On the other hand, they acted badly and ended up hurting themselves and others. Do we call these people intelligent? Semi-intelligent? Too smart for their own good? And if they’re intelligent, how can they behave in such an appalling manner?

To be fair, it seems likely that many of us have failed to spot some brand of stupidity in someone, some time. Have you? If so, did it turn out badly for you? If so, and if you’d like to forestall another bad situation, you may benefit from receiving coaching in this area. As a matter of fact, I do that sort of thing; so please feel free to reach out. The phone number is 219-309-3928, and I would be honored to be of service.

Thanks for reading!