Dealing With Mass Stupidity

Posted on April 8, 2023 by Robert Ringer


The legendary German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom the Nazis executed less than a month before the end of World War II, once offered this fascinating comparison of stupidity and malice:

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice.  One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force.  Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease.  Against stupidity we are defenseless.”

In our day and age of mass stupidity, it’s hard to disagree with Bonhoeffer’s viewpoint.  In day-to-day life, a stupid person can drain you of your most valuable personal resources, including time, energy, and money.  But when it comes to political and geopolitical affairs, stupid people can damage entire nations.

Dunderheads, like many of those in positions of power today in Washington, have even been known to start wars.  Thus, from a practical point of view, it doesn’t matter if a person is stupid or evil, because the results stemming from both traits are pretty much the same.

Malevolent people are usually easy to spot, so the smart person goes out of his way to avoid contact with them.  By contrast, the most dull-witted among us are usually treated with compassion, which is precisely why they are so dangerous.  They tend to ignore facts, because facts get in the way of their preconceived notions.  Because their minds are fixed, learning is not a possibility.  Worse, they often get angry, even violent, when their beliefs are challenged.

Which brings me to the noxious world of politics, where stupidity can cause an enormous amount of pain and suffering.  It’s long been a cliché that people get the government they deserve, but it’s still puzzling that they keep voting for politicians who have no interest in the things that are important to them.  What politicians are focused on is their own agenda, which more often than not is at odds with the wants and needs of voters.

Last Tuesday, voters in Wisconsin once again dutifully voted for more pain by electing radical liberal Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which changed the ideological balance of the court.  In simple terms, what this means, at a minimum, is that stupid people voted to make it easier to cheat in Wisconsin elections.

In Chicago, foolish people did what many thought was impossible and elected a more radical mayor than Lori Lightfoot, a leftwing activist by the name of Brandon Johnson.  Anyone with half a brain would have concluded that Johnson all but guaranteed to bring more crime and poverty to a city already on the verge of collapse.

As to those dunderheads in Washington I mentioned earlier, Joe Manchin has to be near the top of the list, primarily because he has a habit of huffing and puffing to show he’s standing up to corrupt Democrats, only to end up voting with them anyway.  After finally agreeing to vote for the purposely mistitled Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for Democrat leaders agreeing to build a natural-gas pipeline in West Virginia, Manchin acted shocked when Democrats flipped him the bird and refused to make good on their promise after they secured his vote.  Forrest Gump’s mama was right:  Stupid is as stupid does.

Tens of millions of people ignorantly vote for politicians who push scams like diversity and equity programs, gun control, and renewable energy legislation, even though endless studies and statistics have conclusively shown they don’t work.  The question then gets down to why do so many people continue to vote for jackals who bring them nothing but pain and suffering?  Perhaps Etienne de la Boetie provided the best answer in the 16th century when he explained:

“It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say … that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement.”

Finally, stupidity cuts both ways.  It is the height of stupidity to try to appease a stupid person, or, worse, apologize to him for your thoughts or actions.  The most rational and efficient way to handle a stupid person is to ignore him.  I appreciate why science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison once said that the two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity, but I think in today’s world stupidity is actually a bit more common than hydrogen.

It’s amazing that with all of mankind’s scientific advancements, he has never come up with a way to fix stupid.  Perhaps another lucrative project for Elon Musk?

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.