This is a question that has plagued every fiction writer from the moment they pick up the pen and start to write.
“How stupid can someone be before it becomes unbelievable?”
Fortunately for non-fiction writers this is never a challenge or an issue as there are countless books, blogs and websites devoted to this very subject, and I enjoy most of them. But for fiction writers this can be brain wracking as they write and start to realize that one (or more) or perhaps an entire situation just seems too moronic to be believable, and they stumble upon the idea that people can’t be THAT stupid.
Don’t they realize?
Why don’t they just wake up?
No one could be that gullible?
These are issues I fight with all the time, because I keep falling over the problem that “It just does not make sense that people can be this stupid”
Well, I started to look into the issue and I have to admit I was rather amazed at what I found and in many ways, liberated.
Albert Einstein is credited with saying “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
Well, yes, but a simple quote does not answer all our questions, nor does it make anything true or not, but it does set the ground work for where we can go. Which is course, “Human’s being stupid”
However, this is beset by a problem, I am looking up human’s being stupid on a very complex and advanced tool called a computer, using a resource called the “Internet” to support my research, and would it seem that right out the gate, given what is self-evident before me that humans are in-fact, not stupid, they can’t be, or I would not typing this and posting it on something as truly amazing as the internet.
As quick stop in Youtube, and after digesting several videos of humans hurting themselves in the most painful ways I could not even imagine following that up with a bout of Fail.Blog set my situation at ease. While yes, Humans can be creative, constructive, and highly developed in technical means like mathematics, physics, and mechanical science, on the same token we tend to be surprisingly stupid in logic and rational, or sometimes dubbed “Common sense”
Let me start with one of the oldest “Logical” debates, and of course it will involve Religion (Religion tends to bring out the best and worst in people) But here it goes, one of the better known Atheist vs Theist topics.
The Problem of Evil: “If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving, they could make a world where evil does not exist”
This gets followed by a painful display of a warped and misguided series of what people might try to pass off a logical thought process, and normally ends with something along the lines of: “There is evil in the world – Ergo God (As set by the above requirement) does not exist”
Ok, now the problem of evil has been addressed and answered by countless other sites, so don’t have to address it. However, a soundly rational person would say “What part of all-powerful did you miss?”
On a purely logical level our ability to reason should tells us that all-powerful overrides every other component of the scenario because once placed into the equation means this entity can do anything: ergo – you can’t put a requirement on them as any/all other qualities are mutable as all-powerful would allow them to change said traits at their whim.
But that is never enough of an explanation for anyone, and this starts the downward spiral, as people argue back in and forth how something with said qualities could allow or not allow something to exist.
Ending with normally childish ranting like: If god is all powerful can god make a rock so big that god can’t lift it.
Well, again, Logic and Reason would tell us that something that possesses the all-powerful trait is equally immune to paradox, and thus can do things that defy the mental abilities of being that are limited, much the same way a limited being like a human would not be able to grasp how the world smells to a dog, because a human is far more limited then the dog is in that area. I don’t know how a dog can find the smell of excrement fascinating enough to pull against the leash to keep sniffing, but, they do, and I also realize that it is something I might never understand, but a s writer I can try to imagine, pontificate on, and even make an aspect of my next story, but that does not mean I truly grasp it.
But the fact that humans would use this outdated argument is not an issue so much as the people that do argue this think they are the “smart” ones. How does THAT one happen?
Well, when the herd mentality of humans kicks in and people get their information not from the direct source of what they believe they are arguing against, but from what “their” side says about what they are arguing against (The classic Us/Them Fortress Mentality), what I means is Atheist go to Atheist sites to learn about Theism. Yes, I realize (and I am sure you also realize) that makes about as much sense as going to a Republican site to learn what the Democrats are about. Don’t laugh, that is not only done, it is done so much that it is not even remotely unexpected, in-fact it is so common place it is not only accepted, expected, but even encouraged, why do you think a republican site would bother to “Tell you the truth about those Demarcates” and vice-versa, if they did not want the people on “their side” to get be informed entirely by them.
The fact is however that this mentality spreads to all facets of our daily life is, from our religion right down to our diet choices, abet sad, but also just a fact of our existence.
This is why we live in a world with boundless amounts of info at our fingertips and legions of ignorant people. Because humans don’t want their preconceived notions challenged, they don’t want to entertain that they might be wrong, they want to be right, and they want to be correct,and they will be believe anything that tells them so.
This is why people hold on to ignorant ideas that Pit Bulls are vicious dogs, despite the fact that sites like AKC, UKC, BADRAP, and boundless other sites from vets to pet owners, from books to documentaries, repeatedly state that this is a lie, a bare faced lie, people still want to cling to their little pet ideas that Pit Bulls are vicious dogs, regardless of what the truth of the situation is.
Well with that mind, make your world as stupid as you want to, in-fact if you don’t throw in a few legions of truly moronic myopic people into your fictional world, it might not be believable, but as it stands there is not limit to the volume of idiocy you can add, just as there is no limit to the volume of idiocy in our everyday world, right here on the net.
Write Stupidity Fearlessly… they won’t get the joke anyway.