Yesterday’s fascinating conversation concerning — Is Intelligence Inherited or Earned — inspires today’s post.

Does society need – and please forgive the easy opposite term for “intellectual” and read yesterday’s article to fully understand the context — “stupid” people? If yes, why? If not, why not?

Stupid People!

If you believe stupid people are a necessity, please provide analysis of their roles in the following three landscapes of society — Economics, Aesthetics and Education — in addition to the rest of your argument.


  1. Short answer is yes – we need people that can do and produce as well as people who can guide, think and work out what is needed to be produced.
    Longer answer is also a yes .
    We need people who can do the mind numbing unintellectual jobs that enable our society to function.
    We need the food packers, the fruit sorters, the waste disposal engineers , the sewage plant workers, the factory workers, the street cleaners , the sewing machinists, tarmac layers etc etc.
    Historically we also needed cannon fodder.
    I would be very happy without the current crop of the “stupid” celebrities – others wouldnt.
    I think *stupid* people are a challenge to our educators . One of the greatest challenges I find in my limited experience as an educator is making myself understood and getting the message across to whomever is on the listening end. Sometimes we have to work very hard at this – but in doing this we are also educating ourselves.
    I also believe that we need brawn and brains.
    Of course as a society we also need *stupid* people – to make those of us who are not so stupid feel better about ourselves.

  2. That’s a very interesting argument, Nicola.
    Do you think stupid people are ever aware they are being used as “canon fodder” or do they just see that risk as part of the job?
    Should stupid people be allowed to attend public schools or should they have learning programs of their own? Do stupid people hold back the intellectual students in the same classroom?

  3. I think the hundreds of thousands who volunteered in the first and the second world war felt they were doing the right thing for their country.
    I dont think they were aware of the cannon fodder factor – I suspect they were blinded by patriotism and of course being able to *do* something.
    I think they may be more aware of the risks these days as we have the information far more readily available on our TV screens …….. they dont even have to read a paper !
    I believe that in an ideal world we should have education geared to the individual – and that individual strengths should be developed. People who are not intellectual still have other skills that should be nurtured and developed.
    I dont have the experience to answer the last question ………. however I think a lot of that would be down to the teacher/facilitator and what is being taught.
    One thing that hasnt been mentioned yet in these dicsusions is common sense ……. I would rather have a stupid person with some common sense than an intellectual without.

  4. Nicola —
    I agree there aren’t many intellectuals who would give up their lives for patriotism and a guarantee of death. For the stupid and their mourning families in history, a medal and a flag from a coffin may have made up for the devastating loss of future propagation into the future.
    I suppose some might bluntly argue throughout history that warfare is one way of winning the battle while also winnowing the stupid from among us.
    Are “common sense” and “street smarts” the same thing?

  5. I think you might have to define “street smarts” for me to enable me to answer that.
    While you are doing that I will try and define what *common sense* means in UK speak rather than philosophy speak.

  6. Nicola!
    Fair enough! Here’s the Oxford definition of “street smarts” and I find it appropriate:

    common sense, acumen, savvy, shrewdness, wisdom, know-how, horse sense.

  7. David- Yes we need stupid people.
    Economics- Without stupid people who who give their money to the rich and corporations? These rich people and corporations would soon be poor and couldn’t pay politicians and judges which recieve all the welfare called subsides and tariffs, and would have to go to jail like poor people when they are forced to go to jail everyone will be in jail and terrorists who kill innocent children and old people and women would take over the country.
    Aestheics- We would have no art and pretty pictures without stupid people. Who else would work for less than a dollar an hour but a stupid person. i am speaking here from first hand experience. Personally i am too stupid to realize that only those the money condones and are harmless to the corrupt system would ever get funds filtered to them by the 12 wankers who hand it out, but i am starting to get a few clues.
    Education- Without stupid people who would the smart people teach. No one could learn how to make bombs and nukes and other property protected by the Declaration of Independence.
    Stupid people are good for anything one can name aside from cannon fodder as Nicola already stated. Aside from actually shooting them out of cannons, we can get them to follow law and order and not their God given moral conscience. The whole Platonic/Machiavellian system would crumble without the stupid, and war would end and we all know that is our main business.
    Without the stupid we would only be working 6 hours a year for a middle class existence. This would create tons of free time, and an “idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” This would create tons of devils all living life instead of working as slaves thinking they are free.
    Organized Religion? in whose name would we thin the herd?
    Media- What we do to get news and entertainment?
    Conservative think tanks? How would we keep the slaves shuffling?
    One could take the whole history of the world for the at least past 8,000 years and put it here. If there was one person, including, Jesus Christ, Howard Zinn, Nietzsche, John Coltrane, David Boles and myself who wasn’t stupid we would be living in a sane world, and not the nut house of the universe, speaking in tongues as we did in Babylon.
    In reference to Adam and the Apple- ” Human history began with an act of disobedience and it is not unlikely that it will be terminated by an act of disobedience.” (Eric Fromm- quoted in ” Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.)
    In case anyone is really stupid (which no one is) much of the above should not be taken at total face value, although there is much truth there.

  8. That would indicate they are similar. I should try the dictionary rather than google !
    The reason I was introducing it is that quite a lot of intellectuals I know are sadly lacking in it – either that or they get easily distracted.
    It is almost as if the practical side of their minds have been turned off by their intellect.

  9. Society might not want “stupid” people, but it definitely needs them. It creates balance. There are not enough places at the top for everyone.
    Moreover, it is an easy exploitation – in every sense of the term.
    They are easy to be swayed/influenced/manipulated – with or without knowing it.

  10. Hello, David.
    What are we talking about? What is a stupid person? Are you using ones IQ to determine whether or not he is stupid?

  11. Nicola —
    It’s interesting that Webster’s defines “street smarts” by referring one to “streetwise” and “streetwise” is defined as “how to survive on the street.” Ha! Oxford gets the bigger win on that one!
    I agree we cannot live too much in the mind or the body will suffer and the greatest threat to the body is a mind foggy to the reality of the dangers of the lack of common sense.

  12. Katha!
    Please make sure you’re logged in to so we can always see your beautiful Avatar!
    Have you ever exploited a stupid person?
    In what way are stupid people easily manipulated and why don’t you think they’re aware of it?

  13. Hi David,
    I don’t think we need stupid people as much as our society needs people who are willing to be followers who won’t question the higher authorities.
    Look at the guys and gals sitting in nuclear silos, submarines, and airplanes. They need to be smart to accomplish their missions and not mess up millions of dollars worth of equipment. But, they also need to be a “follower” type that will execute an order when it comes from a higher authority without questioning it if it is properly formatted and authenticated.
    The same thing is true for labor. People who have some sort of skill set are required because the days of mindless labor are probably gone as robots and cheap overseas labor takes over. Gone are the days of unskilled laborers making a huge wage. These people also need to be self-starters who can work with little or no supervision.
    To address the various landscapes:
    Economics: It is cheaper to have a skilled person who is willing to take orders without question, than it is to have someone who is unskilled and who will require training and supervision to get the job done. Self-starters who won’t rock the boat are great for business because they will do the assigned tasks without causing problems — either by goofing off or agitating co-workers.
    Aesthetics: There’s an intelligence that is required for art. While one might not require book-smarts to excel in the arts, artists do require that special intelligence that allows them to view life and distill it into various media. Smart people make stupid artwork — look at some of the offerings on television. If smart people mess up, I doubt that “stupid” people would do any better.
    Education: The same thing applies. The follower who will self-start after receiving an assignment is desirable. “Stupid” students cause problems and require extra effort, and thus get tracked away from the mainstream and gifted students.
    Since most mind-numbingly dull jobs are going overseas or are being replaced by computers and robots, the need for mindless workers has been reduced. But, there is a great need for a follower who will self-activate after receiving an order, but not until receiving an order from above.

  14. Are you saying I fall under the category of the “intelligent”? I am not sure my status on this one though! 😀
    I don’t remember intentionally exploiting someone, but I saw people exploiting them.
    This is either a case of “lost in the woods…can’t see the forest” or being a victim of the situation.
    Some people are just too wrapped up to focus on the ultimate objective (sometimes I am that way…the only difference is I know my weakness…) of whatever they are doing in their life, basically directionless, don’t like/want to come out of their comfort zone. Moreover, they are too proud to acknowledge the fact.
    On the other hand, some are just in a situation that they know they are being used as an instrument of others but can’t take the risk to get out of the situation – but they are fully aware of it.

  15. Hi Chris!
    Excellent comment! Aren’t stupid people known for not questioning authority? I have not met a single non-stupid person who didn’t want to know every detail about everything.
    Submitting your life for your country goes to the heart of patriotism and “following orders” in order to earn a paycheck. If there were no money involved in the transaction I find it hard to believe soldiers would willingly serve in an open democratic system of government — follower or not.

  16. David,
    I tend to fall a bit on the ‘moral’ side of the category – probably because of my upbringing. I am fully aware of the consequence of it being monotonously predictable though! Remember, you didn’t want to pick the one yesterday? That’s why I was not sure…I am still not! 😀
    I am harping on Chris’ note, the society needs followers. Can followers be called stupid? I am not sure. Some can’t take the load of ‘taking what it needs to be a leader’ – some just don’t want to.
    “Uneasy lies the head…” !
    If you know you want to reach from point A to point B within a certain time – you will chalk out a solid plan and act accordingly. If you see you need others’ help – you will try to identify the right person for it and here comes the catch …
    The ‘right’ persons have to be followers because if they question your intention – time will be wasted.
    Is it a ‘nature’ or a ‘necessity’?

  17. That is the reason I was checking David.
    Common sense is the “early bird that catches the worm” – the person who when confronted with a flooded floor switches the tap off before doing anything else.
    While I was looking around for ideas – I came across this from the New Scientist which is quite
    The other definition that I quite like is this one
    “Sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge; native good judgment.”
    Oooooooops thing I have drifted off topic here – sorry.

  18. I take your point, Nicola. I think common sense is like intelligence and stupidity — you’re either born with it or not and you cannot acquire it after the fact.

  19. Sorry Katha —
    I’m saying you lost me in trying to understand your latest message. I asked you:

    It is part of the nature of the Intellectual to control and manipulate the Stupid?

    And your reply did not make sense to me as an answer to that question.
    Can you re-phrase your answer so I might better understand your point?

  20. David-
    This subject both intrigues and repulses me, for at its base, it smacks of intellectual snobbery.
    Certainly it raises (or at least continues) the issue of eugenics, for indeed, if such a discussion is to be of value, would not the question I threw earlier—what is to be done with the stupid?—demand a hearing?
    The American Heritage Dictionary defines an intellectual as: Possessing or showing intellect or mental capacity, esp. to a high degree.
    So, as most of the world has not been gifted with a high degree of intelligence, by your defining stupid as the opposite of intellectual, most of the world is stupid. Are those indeed your thoughts?
    Using your definitions, the basic question then is simply answered: Yes, we need the stupid, else the world would essentially cease functioning.
    Personally, I don’t believe most of the people on the earth are stupid. While some human beings are remarkably quicker and more intelligent than are others, it is fairly common to observe such people acting in a way that could only be called stupid, demonstrating a distinct lack in intellectual superiority.
    Your site is fascinating and slightly addictive.

  21. Shirley- i agree. Everything is a living speaking god and therefore is superior to “smart, stupid, intellectual, moral or immoral.” The so called “stupid” have “difficulty” understanding what is being said by these living speaking Gods. Even the worst tyrant is a living speaking God. The tyrant is saying, i am a tyrant what should be done with me? Who put me here and why? Do you want more of the same? What can you do if you want this type tyrany to stop? Have you learned the lesson of the “mistake” that brought me to power? Do you realise you and me are two sides of one coin? He is by no means any more “stupid” than is the person with Downs syndrome, who is saying things like ” Hey I’m happy and don’t have to work or do things i don’t want to do.” How about you?” Everything is created by God and is positive. If it appears “negative” a lesson is to be learned. It is racist and elitist to look down on anything. An intellectual who is amoral is more “stupid” than a moral person with downs syndrome, no matter how quick, smooth, polished, retentive and logical her/his mind works because the moral person acts as if he and her/his sister/brother, animal, mineral are one. This is the golden rule, which although has more than one side but is basically the enlightened view. This was eastern knowlege of monism that was supposedly transplanted to the mid east and was called monotheism, but it got skewed on it’s trip there and became macho-man in the sky dualism that has led to these countless wars. The female Gods were erradicated and the war horse and chariot devoplved into the A and H bombs that once made, ask to be dropped and so called “stupid” people were swayed by them. They are not stupid people, merely unenlghtened.

  22. Ok, what I am trying to say is it is not ‘nature’; it is ‘necessary’. ‘Intelligent/ intellectuals’ manipulate so called ‘stupid’ (should we say followers?) to reach their goal – it might be in the best interest of their own or for a greater good…
    Intelligent can foresee the need and act on it – they are more or ruthless to reach their goal and they do ‘whatever it takes’ without any soppy sentiment and sometimes bulldoze other people – because they see it necessary and important.

  23. Thanks for your full and detailed answer, Shirley.
    These questions are difficult and repulsive, but it’s better to discuss them here in the open than to pretend these conundrums of living don’t exist.
    How else will we grapple with definitions and meaning and action if not among a public intellectual scrum?
    We previously discussed Embryo Eugenics here:
    Some claim “all life is precious” but few fairly back up that talk with action across the span of all ages and mindsets and economies.

  24. That’s a daring answer, Katha, and I thank you for sharing it with us.
    Are the stupid aware of their lot? Do they care how they are perceived and valued or are they incapable of thought and determination on that psychic level?

  25. Yes, I know it’s daring, I was trying to sugercoat it first.
    If you go back now and re-read it probably it might make sense.
    I will come back again to answer the last part of your question.

  26. Fred,
    I am not undermining the issue, but in one word – yes.
    India was ruled by the British for more than 200 years. Were the British more intelligent than the Indians?
    Yes. No questions asked.
    Were the Indians, I mean – ‘we’ stupid? Yes. Period.
    We were ‘idiots’, so we were exploited.
    The British served their own good, we whined for 200 years, then learnt to fight back from them only – and drove them out.

  27. Katha!
    Wowser! I love the vitality and power of your reply.
    Do did the Indians become more intelligent over those 200 years or did the British become stupider?

  28. Hello Kathy,
    Let me see if I understand you: Do you have no problem with Hitler and his annihilation of Jews? He “bulldozed them with no soppy sentiment to reach his own goals.” Is that acceptable to you?
    Slavery in the United States is a blight on our history. Do you perceive this otherwise? For surely the slave-owners said within himself, “such activities are in my own best interest.”

  29. Hi Shirley!
    I just stated the fact – I never supported it.
    David replied me in one of his comments yesterday:

    Now there are times when intelligence can be just as easily used for criminal activity instead of the greater human good but that is price we pay as a society for freedom of thought and the ongoing expansion of intellectual capacity and scientific discovery.

    I no way support Hitler or Slave master of any kind – but that’s how it works. Some people are quick to understand their own need and how to accomplish it and they are ruthless.
    Are they intelligent? Unfortunately, yes.

  30. David,
    Here are the answers for the rest of your questions:
    Are the stupid aware of their lot?
    – They know they don’t possess ‘what it takes to be a leader’ – any kind – good, bad, ugly…
    Do they care how they are perceived and valued or are they incapable of thought and determination on that psychic level?
    – I am not sure. Some people care and fret over it, some people (like me) do not :D, and some don’t have the capacity to detect the fact.
    Do did the Indians become more intelligent over those 200 years or did the British become stupider?
    -Indians became more educated and enlightened for sure – but we have to go more – and we need to understand it without cribbing about our past.
    -I am not the right person to answer your last question 😉
    -To say the least – pendulum never stops!

    “ON FIRE” is a good thing, Katha!
    I love your passion and fiery mind and I wish all your comments here were packed with such blunt power and hunger!

  32. Throughout todays discussions I have had something going through my head – the “I know my place” sketch from the Frost report – a discussion and the sketch can be seen here
    I know this refers to class , but I think that it is relevant to the discussion. In the 1960’s we did know our place. I think 40 years on *our place* has become less easy to define – both in terms of class, place and function in society.
    Maybe this is the issue today – the lines have been blurred and we no longer know our place – or maybe we are all free to move on from those limitations and even the *stupid* have expectations.

  33. Thanks for your compliment David!
    On a second thought, I think I came on too aggressive in some of my replies – if so, accept my apology.

  34. There is no “stupid.” Those who believe there is are eliteist, racist. David to spur Katha on is indefensible, but i guess that comes with your amoral stance. Katha- The “honkeys” got your mind.

  35. Whatever makes you happy Fred.
    But one thing is for sure – I wrote what I believe in and I accept your comment as a right to ‘express your freedom of speech’.
    Thank you.

  36. Katha!
    I love your aggressiveness! I tell my students to aggressively argue their logic in everything they write and when they do, they shine because you cannot be aggressive without being passionate!
    Be even more aggressive in the future!

  37. Exactly. She’s sown her career into the flames of the dying neocons and betrayed her intellect and her emotional goodwill in the process, Nicola.
    She may be in love with Bush — calling him her “husband” in a public slip — and that sort of passion has fogged the logic and compassion of her brilliant mind.

  38. Hi, Kathy.
    Thank you for clarifying that, for yourself, you do not act out the behaviors prevalent in the theory you earlier expounded.
    I quibble with your conclusions. Recall that in yesterday’s topic, much attention was given to the concept that intelligence cannot be earned, but is inherited. For the sake of this discussion, let us agree on that point.
    So: 1.The Indians are of the same intelligence as before.
    2. The British are of the same intelligence as before.
    3. Slaves (or those who would be) are of the same intelligence as before.
    4. Slave-owners (or those who would be) are of the same intelligence as before.
    Since Britian no longer enslaves India, and America has abolished slavery—yet with the same level of intellectual prowess in the mix—there must be other components.
    I submit there are: life experience, life situations, learning, training, opportunities, the throw of the die, spirituality, evil—all may contribute to such significant changes in society while the intellectual level of both groups remain the same.
    Before a nation becomes enslaved, more is required than a person of superior intellect at the helm. Either evil intent or obscene ignorance is surely present. Within the enslaved nation are no doubt persons whose intellectual strength far exceeds that of their captor.
    Perhaps I failed to see your answer to my previous question.
    “So, as most of the world has not been gifted with a high degree of intelligence, by your defining stupid as the opposite of intellectual, most of the world is stupid. Are those indeed your thoughts?”

  39. Shirley —
    I don’t understand where “most of the world has not been gifted with a high degree of intelligence” is coming from — is that your opinion or is that an outside fact?
    If it is your opinion, I disagree with and believe you have too narrow an understanding of what makes intelligence.
    If it is a fact, please provide a link to follow and read.

  40. David-
    Thank you for correcting me concerning Katha’s name. I knew that and had already read her interesting bio. Not sure why I called her Kathy–inferior intellect, probably. 🙂
    As I understand it, most of the world is of average intelligence, and thus “has not been gifted with a high degree of intelligence.” We’re just average, not intellectual, at all.
    I personally believe intelligence encompasses much more than IQ. It seems to me that the flavor of today’s discussion, though, called for the conclusion that one is either stupid or intellectual.

  41. David and Katha- The average being has average intelligence by definition. The important questions here are. 1. Is there actually such a thing as intelligence? People forget that it is just a word that divides like all words and has no absolute meaning. Is a human more intelligent than a tiger? a mouse? a termite? the latter who may a better chance on this planet for long term survival? People fall in love with words and concepts. We shouldn’t define intelligence from a human or “intelligent human” point of view. 2. Is a slave less intelligent than his master? Here Katha and your support of her “racism” has gone off the deep end by implying the People of India, Jews, Native Americans, Blacks, Browns, Yellows, Gypsies, Semites are of inferior intelligence to the “Anglo Saxons” (who acording to science are still Black at the root genetic core, and are a type of semite themselves) better known as the MTHICAL ARYAN or “master race.” Being composed of quanta ourselves, it is easy for us to make these quantum leaps to nonsense. This thinking brought us the thinking of the obvious “semite” Hitler and his cohorts who came near to enslaving the world with support of the U.S. and major industries around the world. Everything in the past is perfect if we learn the lessons of these previous “mistakes” we are all a part of. The main “mistake” being propogated on this site yesterday is that the English were more intelligent than the people of India and your support of Katha and this idiotic thesis.

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