When life gives you string theory, make string cheese
According to new research studies, studies now show that incompetent people are too incompetent to know they are incompetent and stupid people are too stupid to know they are stupid. You’re probably thinking you could have told them that, but that’s just because you only think you know anything about science.
Funny thing is, the research was done at Cornell University, where I was a graduate student, and that is exactly where I first came up with my own discovery that stupidity is more important than intelligence in understanding how people think. I’m sure it comes as a surprise to many people that such a great center of learning, known for having turned out such luminaries as Ann Coulter, Paul Wolfowitz and Coors Brewing executives could also inspire so much interest in the phenomenon of the not entirely bright.
Before I go on I want to reaffirm the value of stupid people and stupidity. A lot of people think I’m too negative or “down” on stupid people. They completely miss the point. I am celebrating stupidity. I am saying we are all stupid, and let’s count the ways. If we all realized how stupid we were, and appreciated it, we wouldn’t have studies like this making us look foolish.
Socrates was famous for pushing the idea that the guy who knows the most is the guy who knows he doesn’t know. Turns out he made matters worse. I wonder if he ever could have guessed the number of freshman in America that, having learned about his idea in a Philosophy 101 course, would try it out on their mathematics profs. “You say you ‘know’ calculus, and would test me on my learning of it, but I am superior, for I know that I don’t know it. Check and mate.”
Lately the world’s greatest gift to the incompetent is string theory. Everyone knows what a string is. Everyone knows what vibrations are. Everyone knows what a slice of moldy bread is, so they can understand membranes in 11-dimensional space, and strings sticking out of them. So anytime a question comes up like, how do we get a colony going on Mars, everyone knows it’s going to be done with vibrating strings sticking out of 11-dimensional bread.
Imagine how boring life would be if everyone who knew nothing knew they knew nothing and shut up. The whole world would fall silent. I’m talking about Rush Limbaugh, mostly.
Rush Limbaugh’s pronouncements throughout his career illustrate the concept of emergence, how complex systems arise out of a multiplicity of simple interactions. Starting from a constellation of elementary mistakes, like the inability to grasp what the failure rate of condoms actually means, or the notion that paper is not biodegradable because it doesn’t come imprinted with the word “biodegradable” on it, a stupidity of planetary proportions has emerged from Rush, one that no one could have foreseen. Not even someone who knows about strings.
Imagine if you’d been told in 1982 that in 30 years a drug addicted national radio talk show host (with “talent on loan from God”) would casually call a 23-year-old college graduate student a slut for pointing out how expensive birth control is, and then suggest that she post videos of herself having sex with said birth control. You’d have said, no way any talk show host could be so stupid. See how you don’t understand science?
There is, or has been, only one person in the media I can think of who could top Rush Limbaugh for the generation of novel, complex, unforeseeable, stupidity. That was Andrew Breitbart, who just died.
Within hours of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, Andrew Breitbart went out of his way to call Kennedy a villain, a duplicitous bastard, a prick, and a pile of human excrement.
I’d like to be able to say something equally clever and insightful on the occasion of Mr. Breitbart’s untimely demise, but I’m not smart enough.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.