Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ignorant, Dumb, Stupid, Idiotic, Crazy, and Insane

In response to my "Bumd and Ignorant questions" post reader (and carnival of cordite host , thank you very much sir) Gullyborg responded:

I would switch the words dumb and ignorant.

My take: ignorance can be cured, stupidity cannot.

Therefore: the question you can be excused for asking is the ignorant one; the question you should be embarrassed for asking is the dumb one.

Really what we have is a semnatic issue. Ya see, ignorance has two connotations. The first, is willful or negligent ignorance; the second is simply uninformed ignorance.

When one is willfully or negligently ignorant, it means that the knowledge you should have had, was given to you; or you absolutely should have known where and how to get it. You then ignored that knowledge; hence the word ignorant.

In the second case, you simply didnt know; or didn't know you SHOULD know. Maybe you should have known; but you didnt either deliberately disregard information present, or willfully ignore it as in the more aggravating connotation above.

I usually separate the apparent lack of knowledge or understanding into a few different categories:

Willful or Negligent Ignorance: (as above) This is what I generally mean when I say ignorant. I have no tolerance or patience for willful ignorance. The worst part is, that often those who are wilfully ignorant are quite intelligent, they are simply blinded by personal motivations.

Ignorant of the facts: When someone is ignorant of the facts of a case, they will be wrong; and act wrongly; no matter how smart they are. Ignorance of the facts doesnt necessarily mean the person is wilfully ignorant, or stupid; it may jsut mean they havent had the opportunity to find out what the facts ARE, or that they have been told facts that aren't.

Dumb: This implies the knowledge you dont have is simple, or basic and that you should have it fairly easily; or that you acted or spoke inapropriately on knowledge you DID have, because you didnt think it through. Dumb doesn't mean you arent intelligent, but it means you arent smart; at least at that moment.

Stupid: Stupid implies you did or said something without any knowledge or consideration; or that if you had such knowledge and consideration your actions or conclusions were very inaproriate on their face. Stupid also implies that you may not have had the mental capability to understand what the right thing would have been.

Idiotic:Idiocy is when you do or say something that is both completely counter to the facts of the situation as they are known to you; you dont bother to find the facts out when the situation absolutely requires it; or you do something completely contrary to your own interests.

Crazy: Crazy doesnt necessarily mean mentally ill; it jsut means that what you do or say seem to have little connection in reasoning to the facts. The funny thing is, crazy sometimes works (and it's almsot always interesting).

Insane: Insane doesnt necessarily mean mental illness either; but theres no other rational explanation for what you did or said. Insane is doing something guaranteed to fail; because you think it's the right thing to do, even though all logic and reasoning and facts say no.

Now, here's my theory on human behavior as it relates to this.

I dont care who you are; be it the pope, or Marilyn Vos Savant; we all do or say:

  • at least one dumb thing every day; usually several
  • at least one thing ignorant of the facts a few times a week
  • at least one really stupid thing every week... MAYBE if we're lucky just every month
  • at least one crazy thing every month (or in my case every week)
  • at least one willfully ignorant thing every few months (usually at holidays if nothing else)
  • at least one TRULY idiotic thing every year
  • at least one absolutely insane thing in our lifetime
Hell, it's all just part of being human.

THe problem is... well I think it was best expressed by Dennis Leary:

"Hey pal, God knows everyone has the right to be an asshole sometimes; but you're abusing the fucking privilege OKAY!!!!"