For no light matter is at stake; the question concerns the very manner in which human lfe is to be lived.
Stupefaction, when it persists, becomes stupidity
Jose Ortega y Gasset
On Stupidity and Stupefaction
Co-creating meaning since 2001
Particularly fatal is the combination of stupidity and intelligence
Matthijs van Boxsel
Stupefaction - the action of stupefying or state of being stupefied
Stupefy - to make stupid or torpid; to deprive of apprehension, feeling, or sensibility; to benumb, deaden
Humanity has spent much time and energy studying the positive human attributes of intelligence, compassion and creativity, yet we still inch ever closer to bringing about our own destruction. We must, if we wish to survive the 21st Century, spend more time and effort in studying the negative attributes - including stupidity, selfishness and greed - that are taking us ever closer to the precipice. The time has come for a science of human folly and stupidity.
We create systems because people are stupid, but we must remember that systems are even more stupid than people. Our ideal is a balance where one stupidity moderates and counteracts the other. The unfortunate and all-too-frequent circumstance of them acting together and reinforcing each other must be met head-on; we must use our stupidities intelligently
In a 1937 lecture entitled 'On Stupidity' the writer Robert Musil defined stupidity, not as a lack of intelligence, but as a lack of feeling - he even spoke of "intelligent stupidity".
We can now see that stupidity is neither lack of intelligence nor lack of feeling - it is a failure to integrate the two effectively.
Whatever in our lives makes us torpid, or deprives us of the natural qualities of apprehension, feeling or sensibility, therefore leads us into a state of stupefaction.
Rather than to individuals, it is the outcomes from actions, decisions, or statements made during a stupefied state that we should apply the term 'stupid'.
"When you're young you look at television and think 'there's a conspiracy - the networks have conspired to dumb us down.' But when you get older you realize that's not true - the networks are in business to give people exactly what they want."
"I had rather be an oyster than a man, the most stupid and senseless of animals."
"All our organisations work by virtue of stupidity. Our world revolves around fantasies and fools who believe in them"
Matthijs van Boxsel
How Stupidity Arises - a neuroscientific model
"Man must learn to recognise stupidity in it's bewildering dimensions and to learn to develop a modus vivendi, a way of coming to terms with it"
Matthijs van Boxsel
"The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little." Ray Bradbury, The Golden Apples of the Sun
Stupefaction in Groups
"It is a well-attested human phenomenon that a group of wise men and women, when formed into a committee, start to form foolish resolutions. Swell the committee to a crowd and it becomes capable of madness."
A N Wilson
In a relatively benign form the phenomenon of group stupefaction can be seen as Groupthink, with a tendency for thought and behaviours to converge; at its most extreme the phenomenon can swell into a monster of hideous proportion and consequences.
The Victorian Scottish writer Charles Mackay wrote a monumental history of human group stupefaction - Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness of Crowds. In it he described centuries of human group follies from the banal to the catastrophic - with examples ranging from obsessions with parlour games and tricks, through the influence of beard shape in politics, to witch-hunts, crusades and massacres of enormous scale.
Mackay said that humans think in herds and go mad in herds, only returning to their senses "slowly and one-by-one". He also described how such stupefactions arise and wane as one 'craze' or fashion emerges and blooms, only to fade and be replaced by another: "We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first."
The phenomenon of group stupefaction acts to significantly lower the cognitive thresholds of any group - up to and including whole societies and civilizations - in which it takes hold. Group stupefaction was responsible for the most tragic and catastrophic chapters of human history.
"Television has done more harm to human intelligence than any other invention."
John Cowper Powys
Television is dynamite - exploding 100 times a second
Q. "Sir, would you attribute the ignorance and apathy of the English to the exclusiveness of their class system?"
A. "I don't know and I don't care - now GO AWAY!"
"No man is intelligent enough to grasp his own stupidity"
Matthijs van Boxsel - 'The Encyclopedia of Stupidity'