Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Y'know... *heavy sigh*... I don't like to call anyone stupid and I don't like to hear anyone call themselves that. I really, really don't. I think the word stupid is one of the harshest words in our lexicon. It implies mental dullness rather than a mere lack of proficiency on a given subject. (I'm mincing syntax here, I know, but follow my train for a sec.) It's my belief that anyone with a functioning mind can learn anything - they may not become expert at it, but all knowledge is there for the taking. Still plenty of apples danglin' from that ol' tree. While it's true enough that learning comes more easily for some than for others, I believe it's also true that education is attainable for all. I maintain that I can learn and do anything I set my mind to, and so far I've not been wrong. I'm no paragon there, but I'm never stupid, only ignorant. Ignorance can change, stupidity can't. (Idiocy is a whole other subject. I've known plenty of incredibly intelligent people who were total idiots - folks who are highly educated, but ain't got the sense the gods gave a lemon.)

But, I digress. Ok. Meanwhile, back on the train. I've heard a couple of things this week that had me biting the word stupid right off the tip of my tongue. I'm sure these are not really stupid people, but... oy vey, someone please take their voter's cards away. Maybe have them sterilized against reproduction for good measure.

On Monday I was listening to the radio on the drive in to work. The station (shout out to 103.7 KMTT, "The Mountain") plays a game with its listeners called Actual Factual. Marty, the DJ throws out a statement and the listener has to tell him if it's actual factual or false. If they get so many right, they win a prize. In this case he had cruised through a few questions with a listener (I believe her name was Kelly) with no problem. Finally he said, "The 79th element on the Periodic Table is The Element of Surprise." Without hesitation, Kelly responded, "OH! Actual Factual!" There was a moment of silence and Marty said, "Uh. Are you sure?" "Yeah," replied Kelly with absolute conviction. "It's my favorite element!"

Hey, chemistry was never my strongest subject. Do not quiz me on it, you'll only waste your time delighting in my ignorance. I know some basics, particularly when it comes to cooking. I know what needs to happen when there's baking soda in a recipe in order to get the desired rise; I know that the natural iodine in a potato will suck the extra salt out of the accidentally overly salted soup... stuff like that. I couldn't list all the elements on the Periodic Table without looking (and even then, some of the abbreviations would stump me). But. C'mon! I do happen to know that 79 is AU (or gold). I only happen to know this because I sponged up that knowledge somewhere along the way - and, say hey, by the way, 79 is a prime number.

A few days ago I heard another tidbit of anti-knowledge (mustn't call it stupidity... musn't, mustn't) that had me shaking my head in sad resignation. Someone was asked what the Magna Carta is. (Brace yourselves.) With absolute certainty came the answer, "It's a type of champagne." I could have forgiven it had there been some measure of hesitation in the answer, or had it been prefaced with a "maybe." As it was, I felt like calling Gordon Brown right then and there to say, "Yo, GB... hey, you guys were right all along. What the fuck were our forefathers thinking? You can have the country back. My apologies for all this foolishness."

Oh, and in my humble opinion? Saying those three little words "I don't know" is one of the most intelligent things a person can utter. Think about it.

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
~Elbert Hubbard

I'll say no more. My tongue hurts from all this incessant biting.

1 comment:

  1. Element of Surprise - Love it, it's those kinda things you make a snap choice in your head and it gets fixed even if it's wrong..
    Ah the good old Magna Carta - signed sometime in the late 13th or was it 16th century by the noble kings of the day, hmm wait a moment why did I just have a deja vu type thought there, Magna Carta - Deceleration of independence similar things in a way they both are powerful written agreements of their time.
    As for calling old Gordo (I can get away with that as he's actually me MP - I know sad isn't it!), I think he has enough trouble don't think he could handle taking on the US right now maybe next year once all the pain has gone away (that's pain from all the backstabbers and naysayyers ...
    Yup it is or better yet sometimes say nothing that way people just think your thick without you opening your mouth and proving it.

    It's like those answer machine messages - please leave your name, address and contact telephone number after the beep and the doctor will get back to you, please spell out any difficult words..
    .... my difficult word is ......

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