By William Markiewicz

A few weeks ago on CNN or CBC I saw a program about Stupidity. As stupidity is not a scientific term, the topic had to be treated humorously, and concluded that even if we can recognize stupidity it is still hard to define.

Logically, the term should define intellectual below average limits. What makes it hard to define is that, in reality, human behaviour is not the fruit of intellectual ability only, but also of personality. So, a person not considered stupid can make stupid, meaning ‘wrong’ decisions due to natural stubbornness, emotions, criteria, etc. Personality manifests itself in very mysterious ways. For instance, somebody with a strong personality can get away with a lot denied to somebody with a weaker personality who is therefore more prone to being judged. We’ve all met people who can afford to be extravagant because, “Who would dare to make fun of me!”

Tests don't always help either; we know the limits of IQ tests because intelligence (and so it goes with stupidity) can be qualitative and quantitative. So, somebody good at resolving complex quantitative problems may be less ‘interesting’ than somebody who defies exact definitions because he inhabits "the heights where the spirits blow”, meaning that his reasoning may be more poetic, artistic, surrealistic, or - another mysterious definition - intuitive. Many scientific topics are expressed in formulas that fit mathematically – thus quantitatively — and still escape logical reasoning (the famous quote by Niels Bohr: “Ladies & Gentlemen, I don’t understand one word of what I just told you”). Prominent mathematicians, physicians, operate transcending our four living dimensions. Therefore intelligence and/or stupidity will be part of our vocabulary but will never be a subject for total definition.

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