• James Tam

The Mystery of Stupidity


STUPIDITY, a 21st century bliss, seems a Darwinian mystery at first.

Idiot genes don’t serve any obvious evolutionary purpose, yet are present in prodigious abundance. How did that happen, I wonder? Perhaps people supported imbeciles because they’re cute, or pathetic enough for charity? After all, plenty of garbage DNA, such as those that make pooches, are bred for their adorably lack of intelligence.

Unfortunately, both conjectures don’t stand up to observation.

People rarely adore idiots like they do poodles. In fact, even dummies despise idiots. Unlike folks sharing other handicaps, there is little evidence of solidarity among the stupid. A possible reason could be that fools, like us, don’t usually know themselves to be one.

Don’t think it’s sympathy either. Even unconditionally liberal and politically impeccable folks tend to be unkind to idiots. Idiots are simply idiots, more commonly fkng idiots. Few other derogatory remarks are made with comparable contempt and exasperation. People refuse to understand that nobody is dumb by choice, so it’s not really the dummies’ fault.

After much thinking, I still have no clue as to why dunces are so prolific. Perhaps, duh. . . Oh dear. No no no. Don’t be stupid. I ain’t dumb; I can make up an explanation for nearly everything. Let me show you.

On the surface, “Survival of the Dumbest” defies Darwin’s theories. But when I look deeper, Darwin’s insightful principles remain valid in the long run. Only that we need more time to tell.

My simpleminded interpretation of Natural Selection is that those fittest to survive in a given environment live longer, reproduce more, and their genes thrive. Unfit ones die off, taking their virginal genes with them into oblivion. Originally, the ruthless selection forces mainly came from nature. But human societies have long tried to compete with “nature”, though Homo sapiens are but a miniscule subset of it. For the sake of this analysis, let’s pretend that “social selection” were an independent selection mechanism, which it could be, for a nano-blip on nature’s time-scale.

In social selection, dummies and smarties each started out with a useful role. Until recent time, a fool was valuable if he had hardworking muscles, or a brave heart which led him charging down battlefields, crying the name of his god or King. On the other hand, his scheming fellow men were better at directing and coordinating communal muscles for the strength of the collective. Society, like a body of human organs, was a symbiosis of brain and brawn, each serving different vital functions. One was not superior to the other, naturally. But the brain, being trickier, would be tempted to exploit the unwitting brawn, upon which it depended for survival. Exploitation was born many thousand years before capitalism.

Anyway, that was how non-brainy genes got passed down in quantity.

Then one day, a huge fkng idiot mistaken for a genius had an appalling idea. Greed, grossly excessive greed, he pronounced, should be unchecked, enshrined, institutionalised. The reign of money thus began. Selection pressure shifted, breeding a new strain of politicians. They are good looking and fast talking, amorphous like amoebae. The brain is marginalised, unless it knows how to entertain popular inanity. Intelligence without a market is useless, therefore unfit for survival.

The role of the stupid has also changed. Muscular genes have been made redundant by technology. A few brave hearts are retained for the military, charging down oily killing fields, shouting new slogans. The rest are mostly turned into fat. They wallow in giant sofas, mouth stuffed with chips, eyes on TV, thoughtlessly wailing adopted opinions. Their new social function is to borrow, consume, and vote. They are the backbone of democracy, organic lubricants of the economic engine.

Modern humanity, basking in self-determined stupidity, feeling proud and free, thumbs its nose at natural selection.

James Tam (Guo Du) 27.04.2013

#MysteryofStupidity

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