作者: Darren Smith，Weekend Contributor
Our host on numerous occasions makes a strong case in labeling today’s zeitgeist as “The Age of Rage”. It would certainly seem to be so if one focuses on what stereotypically comes out of the news media and political figures we lend our ears to. Yet I would go a step further and suggest the root cause of some of this rage is composed of two elements: power-lust and simple human stupidity.
I believe many people fail to recognize how intertwined is the lust for power and the enabling forces of stupidity. Stupidity can be manipulated to achieve that power. It is said that money is the blood of the powerful. Yet, why spend money when too many can be so easily controlled or recruited for free simply by instead appealing to ignorant or stupid individuals.
Both sadly and obviously however, ignorance and stupidity is not limited to the news or politics, it is manifest in human society generally. The trick is to recognize and extricate it from our lives whenever possible. So in a mostly cynical and possibly comical study of the problem, I propose there are levels and flavors of both ignorance and stupidity and to apply such a study is a first step toward minimizing its damaging potential.
If you could excuse the pretense, I might suggest this study to also be corollary to Carlo Cipolla’s “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity“. I will then attempt to quantify Ignorance and Stupidity into both cardinal and ordinal enumerations. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Cipolla’s laws, here follows a basic primer:
如果你能原谅这种借口，我可能会建议这项研究也是卡洛 · 西波拉的“人类愚蠢的基本法则”的必然结果。然后，我将尝试将无知和愚蠢量化为基数和序数列举。对于那些不熟悉 Cipolla 先生定律的人，以下是一些基本的入门知识:
- Always and inevitably, everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
- The probability that a certain person (will) be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
- A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
- Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places, and under any circumstances, to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
- A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
While I believe Mr. Cipolla’s laws provide some interesting insight, it treats stupidity as an absolute; that is, without a gradient as to how badly it manifests. So I offer to you, the reader, a possible method to quantify ignorance and stupidity so that you may successfully counter it in a reasonably measured fashion.
虽然我相信 Cipolla 先生的定律提供了一些有趣的见解，但是它把愚蠢当作一种绝对，也就是说，没有梯度来说明它表现得有多糟糕。所以我给你们，读者们，一个可能的方法来量化无知和愚蠢，这样你们就可以成功地以一种合理的方式来反击它。
The Eight Degrees of Ignorance and Stupidity
0: Used for reference only, zero degree represents an organism that lacks any mechanism for thought or cognition, relying only on reflex or stimulus-response to changes in its environment. Plants and simple animals comprise this level. There have been debates in some circles as to whether or not plants exhibit a behavior or communicate based upon stress or environmental challenges, though it is an interesting proposal I will leave that debate to others.
First Degree Ignorance: In this example a person or animal having 1st degree ignorance is where the person due to infancy or perhaps early childhood is not physically capable of understanding the facts or information presented to them due to either the transient condition of their age or stage of development or that they lack a sufficiently matured biological structure within their brain necessary to process the information. The state for which a person or animal resides in is not one to be judged as a failure or shortcoming. It is simply the nature of the person or animal at this stage in their lifetime.
Second Degree Ignorance: The simplest definition of this degree is that the person or animal is capable of understanding the facts but is not aware of their existence. Every person or animal living has this at some time or concerning some form of information. Not all facts can ever be known. Yet it is incumbent upon intelligent organisms to manage the known/unknown deficit to be successful.
Third Degree Ignorance: At this stage the person can be taught how to recite an outcome or answer but does not fully understand the underlying reason, process, or cause for the fact or event. The knowledge the person possesses is casual and limited, and hence they can be vulnerable to situations where the outcome is defective or malformed. Yet, the person lacks the ability to correct it by repairing the mechanism.
Fourth Degree Ignorance: At this stage, the beginnings of negligence come into play, where the person or animal causes unnecessary harm to themselves or others by willfully failing to attend to learning or intellectual growth required by their environment or social station.
Fifth Degree (Stupidity): Fifth degree separates human beings from most animals. While this degree’s definition relies mostly upon nomenclature, such as instinct versus cognitively derived strategy, it does require a certain intellectual threshold be met to transition from ordinary ignorance (inability to conceive a proper result), to stupidity (ability to conceive a proper result but willingly refusing to do so by disregarding the truth or the process of deriving truth). This is the most prevalent level of stupid among the general population.
第五等级(愚蠢) : 第五级将人类与大多数动物区分开来。虽然这个学位的定义主要依赖于术语，比如本能与认知派生策略，但它确实需要一定的智力门槛，以便从普通的无知(无法想象出一个合适的结果)过渡到愚蠢(想象出一个合适的结果，但通过无视真理或推导真理的过程，自愿拒绝这样做的能力)。这是一般人群中最普遍的愚蠢程度。
The inchoate notion of recklessness incorporates into this degree.
Another form of expression within this degree is that while the person displaying stupidity might not immediately be contributing to the stupid act, it is also that the act resulted from the culmination of a series of events whereby the stupid person continually failed to exercise attention to truth and was somewhat predestined to commit to stupidity by default.
Sixth Degree (Unyielding Stupidity): At this stage the Unyielding Stupid express total unwillingness to accept any fact presented to them that is contrary to their own presumptions, regardless of even monumental levels of proof from all other sources. No amount of convincing will succeed in dislodging their false belief or facilitate their acceptance of truth. In fact, the strength in which they will hold their falsehood is nearly proportionate to the amount of effort wasted by others trying to convince them otherwise.
第六等级(不屈的愚蠢) : 在这个阶段，不屈的愚蠢表示完全不愿意接受呈现给他们的任何事实，这与他们自己的假设相反，即使从所有其他来源得到了巨大程度的证明。再多的说服也不能成功地驱逐他们的错误信念或促进他们接受真理。事实上，他们说谎的能力几乎与其他人为了说服他们而浪费的努力成正比。
They also tend to accept new information as “factual” based on a very low initial bar of proof, especially if presented to them by a source they blindly assign credibility. Once falsehood becomes resident in their mind it is nearly impossible to rehabilitate by contrary, yet factual evidence. From this they incorporate falsehoods into their thinking and behavior; which of course leads to feedback loops of bad decision making and the consternation of all around them.
Normally minded individuals will certainly experience frustration and annoyance in having to be forced into proximity with the Unyielding Stupid. It is one of the rare quantifiable aspects of human emotion: the aggravation is measured as the inverse of the square of the distance the victim finds themselves from the stupid person’s mouth or keyboard. For one’s own mental wellbeing this flavor of stupid is better observed from a safe distance and at best if not at all.
As detrimental as these persons are, they fortunately lack high levels of motivation and tend to be rather benign in their ability to infect others’ tranquility of reason. This is not to say that they keep to themselves but their continual blundering tends to cap the damaging potential to those around them. Great care must be taken of course to guard at all costs against the entrance of the Unyielding Stupid into one’s life or worse, government and politics. That systemic degree of dysfunction which envelopes their lives usually serves as a moderator to their damaging ability. Theirs is a counterintuitive example of laziness being a benefit to others and society, or at least a buffer against damaging potential.
Also counterintuitively, these individuals are also easily manipulated by others who they’ve assigned expertise or kinship. They tend to place greater importance on the person or ideal they devote themselves to rather than the information or events presented by that person. So by extension they blindly follow a few because they both lack the ability to effectively think for themselves and that everyone else who might disagree is wrong.
Individuals routinely manifesting Unyielding Stupidity relegate themselves to having their sole prominent achievement as proving the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Seventh Degree (Militant Stupidity): This by far is not only the worst level of a stupid person it is also the most dangerous.
第七级(军事愚蠢) : 这不仅是愚蠢者最坏的等级，也是最危险的等级。
A person espousing Militant Stupidity possesses all the traits of the Unyielding Stupid, but rather than otherwise being somewhat benign, actively prosecutes against capability and intellect while forcing stupidity upon the general population. They view the notion of free thinking, scientific methodology, reason, or working debate as existential threats that must be exterminated at any cost. They have no tolerance of any idea that is not closely held by them or their cohorts and seek the maximum punishment against those they perceive as threats or unwilling to submit to idiocy. They become unhinged easily and quickly resort to anger and shouting. In fact, they seem to be almost permanently offended or outraged when dealing with those outside their inner circle. Yet just like their lesser brethren, the Unyielding Stupid, they surrender themselves into being manipulated. And to their greater detriment, their militancy facilitates their vulnerability to be prompted into action.
An auxiliary to Militant Stupidity is what is known as a “Useful Idiot”, that is a disrespected individual who can be easily summoned to blindly perform dirty-work on behalf of unscrupulous yet powerful individuals or organizations. Organizations that can thereby maintain plausible deniability of responsibility for the damage the Useful Idiot germinates. These are the most recruitable form of Useful Idiot.
The Militant Stupid proffer themselves as highly intelligent and also command a delusional birthright mandate to lead others. They are completely incapable of benevolent, effective leadership but are actually otherwise sheep who believe they are wolves or the shepherd. This narcissism is the yoke from which they can be controlled.
A good laugh can be generated by easily beckoning Useful Idiots and the Militant Stupid into identifying themselves among a crowd or audience simply by voicing a generic reference to stupid people in general. Both types of creature will be the first to jump up in outrage and either demand the speaker be punished or they will also proclaim that they are the smartest people in the room. It works nearly every time and seems to stem from a hair-trigger like proclivity on their part to be irrational and easily offended—“offended” being their preferred state of being. Deep down, there might be a faint yet secret notion within some of them that they possibly are not the smartest or brightest, but they perceive this as a vulnerability that must not be revealed or exposed by others. Consequentially, they overreact to this perceived threat by attacking others with shotgun-like precision. When having provoked the Militant Stupid into identifying themselves within the crowd, some of them become so ferociously animated in their rage and screaming that you begin to wonder when the demon possessing their body will tear its way out and unleash pandemonium upon the fleeing crowd. Pitiful and annoying perhaps, but at least the drama can certainly break the monotony of an otherwise boring town council meeting or lecture. So the useful idiot does have some utility, I suppose.
Eighth Degree (Self-Actualized Stupidity): This seemingly contradictory and oxymoronic term nomenclates a rare and paradoxical creature of bad habit, the Self-Actualized Stupid. This strangely benevolent person lends their self to a unique form of justice and that propensity, I suspect, is hardcoded into the DNA of humanity as a form of error correction; halting further replication into the biosphere. The recessive allele of this gene expresses itself as the Self-Actualized Stupid, and the dominant expresses as the Schadenfreude Trait within the realm of human thought.
第八等级(自我实现的愚蠢) : 这个看似矛盾和矛盾的术语命名为一个罕见和矛盾的坏习惯生物，自我实现的愚蠢。这个奇怪的仁慈的人把他们的自我借给了一种独特的正义形式，我怀疑，这种倾向被硬编码到人类的 DNA 中，作为一种纠错的形式; 阻止进一步在生物圈中的复制。该基因的隐性等位基因表现为自我实现的愚蠢，显性基因表现为人类思维领域的幸灾乐祸性状。
The Self-actualized Stupid generally possess a higher than average level of general intelligence, a requisite attribute to construct and conduct their own demise. With them the endgame’s culmination of their stupidity ranges from an absolute reputation worthy of universal ridicule, to the other pole being a successful laureate for the Darwin Awards.
In the former, they quickly achieve fame through misfortune by committing acts or making statements that are so preposterous and exaltedly stupid they evoke thunderous levels of laughter and elation in society, vanquishing any possible taint or perceivable threat this type of stupidity might engender. Not only is their own credibility eviscerated, but the whole of society buoys itself in joy from the occasional reminder of the humor brought forth again by the replaying of such a stupid act or statement. It is akin to the stupid creating a Big Bang of a blunder on video, with YouTube as the Cosmic Microwave Background reverberating its echoes.
One shining example of a ridiculed, self-actualizedly stupid person was a man who several years ago posted a YouTube video of his challenging a large cactus to a test of wills, or quills so to speak. I do not know which species of cactus this was, but it appeared very menacing—being more bush-like than tall, while wielding a ferocious arsenal of thick, inch-and-a-half long needles more accurately described as nails. He announced his grievance to the audience. As it was the cactus, being level 0, was unable to accept such a challenge, it was nevertheless clear from the beginning who was not going to get satisfaction in this duel.
几年前，一个男人在 YouTube 上发布了一段视频，视频中他挑战一株巨大的仙人掌作为意志测试，或者可以说是挑刺。我不知道这是哪一种仙人掌，但它看起来很有威胁性——它更像灌木，而不是高大的仙人掌，它挥舞着一个凶猛的军火库，里面有厚厚的、一英寸半长的针，更准确地说是钉子。他向听众宣布了他的不满。由于仙人掌是0级，无法接受这样的挑战，然而从一开始就很清楚谁不会在这场决斗中得到满足。
I suspect this need to battle the cactus was inspired from an earlier meme where lesser stupids posted videos of their forceful grappling of cactus houseplants with their bare hands and proclaiming supremacy in overcoming the ensuing pain. Not to be outdone, our Self-actualized Stupid candidate drove into the hinterlands in search of a more formidable opponent. Upon locating such, he positioned his car next to the cactus, climbed atop the car and belly flopped himself into a new definition of agony and suffering. In a way it appeared the cactus swallowed him whole in a manner similar to how a Venus Fly Trap ensnares its prey. Though his seconds managed to extricate him…there he lay, frozen in pain, shrieking in despair, reduced to being a human bed of nails begging to be plucked. Prior to this spectacle of foolhardiness he somehow managed to summon the inspiration to at least put on a facemask, boxing gloves, and goggles. Notwithstanding, he could not escape his nature; the recessive alleles prevailed and his stupendous stupidly neglected to realize that going into this challenge shirtless and in shorts would not end well for him. Dozens and dozens of quills remained impaled in his body, to be yanked out to the gruesome tune of his wailing. I admittedly was a bit disappointed the producers of the video did not provide a musical score to this act, perhaps some baroque chamber music with a harpsichord plucking a note for each quill extracted. A missed opportunity for sure, yet macabre and perhaps fitting I would say: for I came to realize after witnessing such a grand spectacle that this man was decidedly beyond all others.
我怀疑这种与仙人掌战斗的需要是受到了一个更早的文化基因的启发，在那个文化基因里，一些不那么愚蠢的人发布了他们赤手空拳强力抓取仙人掌室内植物的视频，并宣称在克服随之而来的痛苦方面拥有至高无上的地位。为了不被超越，我们的自我实现的愚蠢的候选人驱车进入内陆地区寻找一个更强大的对手。找到这个地方后，他把车停在仙人掌旁边，爬上车顶，肚子一下子陷入痛苦和苦难的新定义中。在某种程度上，它似乎仙人掌吞噬了他整个的方式类似于如何捕蝇草诱捕其猎物。虽然他的助手设法把他解救出来... ... 他躺在那里，被痛苦冻僵，绝望地尖叫，沦落成一张钉子床，乞求着被拔掉。在这个有勇无谋的奇观出现之前，他不知怎么的鼓起勇气，至少戴上了面罩、拳击手套和护目镜。尽管如此，他还是无法摆脱自己的本性; 隐性等位基因占了上风，他愚蠢地忽视了这一点，没有意识到光着膀子穿着短裤参加这场挑战对他不会有好结果。一打又一打的羽毛刺在他的身体里，随着他哀号的可怕旋律被猛拉出来。无可否认，我有点失望的视频制作人没有提供一个音乐分数这一行为，也许一些巴洛克室内音乐与大键琴拨弦为每个鹅毛笔提取。这当然是一个错过的机会，然而我要说的是可怕的，也许是恰当的: 因为在目睹了如此壮观的场面之后，我意识到这个人绝对是其他人所不能比拟的。
I observed then that this person was clearly stupider than every other individual within the Animal Kingdom. No animal, not salamander, not ape, nor thing that slithers would ever commit itself to such a depravedly foolhardy game—cactus diving—at least not intentionally. An animal would at best be sufficiently cunning to avoid such cactuses or at least if it had never previously encountered such it would approach cautiously. At a minimum, after perhaps a slight stinging to the snout the experience would impart forever in the animal’s mind a thing to be avoided. Yet it takes a human being, having a brain capable of both driving a car to approach this cactus and a mind stupid enough to deliberately leap into it with the hopes of generating more likes on a YouTube to do such a thing.
然后我观察到，这个人明显比动物王国中的其他任何个体都要愚蠢。任何动物，不管是蝾螈、猿类，还是滑行者，都不会参与这种愚蠢的堕落游戏——仙人掌潜水——至少不是故意的。一只动物最多只能足够狡猾地避开这些仙人掌，或者至少在它以前从未遇到过仙人掌的情况下，它会小心翼翼地靠近。至少，在鼻子被轻微刺痛之后，这种经历会在动物的脑海中永远留下一个需要避免的印象。然而，这需要一个既能驾驶汽车接近这个仙人掌的大脑，又有足够愚蠢的头脑，故意跳进去，希望在 YouTube 上获得更多的赞来做这样的事情。
I suppose he succeeded in affording several schadenfreude-driven people free entertainment for a couple minutes. But more importantly the damage he did was his own to suffer, and he set a precedent for lesser stupid people not to follow in his manner. For even they would break from their tradition of self-described omnipotence and recognize this level of stupidity was beyond theirs to attempt. The wider audience…they were at least offered a fleeting distraction from the constant strain of having to deal with the malignant banality of the Unyielding and Militant Stupid otherwise infesting life.
我猜想他成功地让几个幸灾乐祸的人免费娱乐了几分钟。但更重要的是，他所造成的伤害是他自己要承受的，他为那些不那么愚蠢的人树立了一个先例，让他们不要按照他的方式行事。因为即使是他们，也会打破自认为无所不能的传统，认识到这种程度的愚蠢超出了他们的企图。更广泛的观众... ... 他们至少可以从持续不断的应对不屈和战斗愚蠢的恶毒平庸的生活中获得短暂的分心。
On balance I would be remiss to not offer a degree of respect of the Self-Actualized Stupid. It is difficult, if not impossible for ordinary people, and even greatly creative thinkers, to convincingly mimic the skill level and artistic expression commanded by the Self-Actualized Stupid. We are constrained by our own sense of self-preservation and reason, and thus our capacity to conjure the ideas and thoughts of these savants will never compare. They on the other hand are unbound by caution and reasonability, modern-day Icaruses to the Suns of Social Media. Best of all, they are benign.
总的来说，如果我不对自我实现的愚人表示一定程度的尊重，那就是我的失职。对于普通人，甚至是极具创造力的思想家来说，要令人信服地模仿“自我实现的愚人”所要求的技巧水平和艺术表达是困难的，甚至是不可能的。我们被自己的自我保存和理性所束缚，因此我们想象这些天才的思想和想法的能力是无法比拟的。另一方面，他们不受谨慎和合理的约束，就像现代的 Icaruses 对社交媒体的太阳。最重要的是，它们是良性的。~+~
So I submit for your review the Eight Degrees of Ignorance and Stupidity. May God have mercy on our souls.
By Darren Smith
作者: 达伦 · 史密斯
Photo Credit: Uncyclopedia / Moronicus