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Friday, February 1, 2019

Stupid is as Stupid Does: A lesson on Stupidity by Bertrand Russell, Forest Gump and David Krakauer

Forrest Gump



Was Forrest Gump the brightest light bulb shining or dumb as a box of rocks? You might be very surprised!

Of course, Forrest is not real but he lives in our minds as one of the most incredible human beings ever depicted. In his way, he simply and positively affected everyone he met and got his world--and theirs too--right.


"Stupidity is not simply the opposite of intelligence," says Bertrand Russell, a most respected British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist and Nobel Laurate who died in 1970 at the age of 97, "... stupidity is using a rule where adding more data doesn't improve your chances of getting (a problem) right."

In 1933, Russell wrote an essay, The Triumph of Stupidity, attributing the rise of Adolph Hitler to organized stupid and brutal people... two qualities, he noted,  "... that usually go together," which led to his most famous observations,  that the  "fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."

In the ceremony while accepting Harvard's ig Nobel Award,  Russell said "Some people's own incompetence somehow gives them a stupid sense that everything they do is first rate."

SO, WHAT IS THE GREATEST PROBLEM THE WORLD FACES TODAY? This clip by David Krakauer, President of the Santa Fe Institute*, is 1 minute 53 seconds long and worth every second. It answers that question wisely and critically for us and all that follow:  The greatest problem is... 

Hint: it rhythms with 'cupidity,' but is much better and wiser said if you click the link above.


 Bonus quotes by Bertrand Russell:
Bertrand Russell


"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into what he can understand."

"If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting with his instincts. he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The  origin of myths is explained this way."

"In the part of this universe, we know that there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying."


So, do you recognize anyone in today's world that fits this description? 



Thanks to Nautilus, a web based magazine that combines science, culture and philosophy into a single issue each month on its website. That is where some of this information came from. Check it out. Nautilus also has a terrific free newsletter.

*The Santa Fe Institute (SFI) is an independent, nonprofit theoretical research institute located in Santa Fe (New Mexico, United States) and dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the fundamental principles of complex adaptive systems, including physical, computational, biological, and social systems.

 

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