Seven Varieties of Stupidity

“1. Pure Stupidity…

2. Ignorant stupidity…

3. Fish-out-of-water stupidity…

4. Rule-based stupidity…

5. Overthinking stupidity…

6. Emergent stupidity…

7. Ego-driven stupidity…

-Ian Leslie, “Seven Varieties of Stupidity.” ianleslie.substack.com. May 21, 2022

It’s a fun classification exercise. I’d say that 3 is a subset of 2, being in an unfamiliar environment is a variety of ignorance.

However, if you think about the kinds of stupidity we are most likely in contemporary times, it’s rule-based stupidity. Everyone is being turned into algorithms. They have a set of rules they are given, checklists, and they go through the checklist, whether it makes sense or not.

For example, if you take out a home equity loan of $20,000 on a home worth $200,000. Does the bank really need your credit report and income? But, by God, they’ll get through their checklist, before they’ll lend anyone money.

It’s also interesting to think about the connections. Rule-based stupidity is a variety of emergent stupidity, or the kind of stupidity you get when people get together and are afraid of conflict and sharing their ideas. Rule-based stupidity is trying to stripe initiative away from people because you are afraid of the first three forms of stupidity.

Ego driven stupidity reminds me of barkers in the Church of Interruption piece. People that are too busy thinking they are the only ones with anything interesting to say, aren’t learning anything. There’s only so much we can learn from our own experience. To be smart in any meaningful sense, we have to learn from the experiences of others. If we stop doing that, we slowly become more stupid.

The Top Idea In Your Mind

“I think most people have one top idea in their mind at any given time. That’s the idea their thoughts will drift toward when they’re allowed to drift freely. And this idea will thus tend to get all the benefit of that type of thinking, while others are starved of it. Which means it’s a disaster to let the wrong idea become the top one in your mind.”

-Paul Graham, “The Top Idea In Your Mind.” paulgraham.com. July 2010

If your top ideas are getting money, arguing with someone, the past, how stupid you are and so forth, then your mind is working on destructive bullshit.

Online Techno-Polymath Guy

“I was discussing with Sam the “genre,” so to speak, of the Online Techno-Polymath Guy. You know this guy. He (and it’s usually a he) has his own website, probably hand-crafted in Kirby, Github, or WordPress, as well as a well-regarded, personable Twitter presence. 

He keeps track of everything he reads, writes pithy blog posts on esoteric subjects. His personal philosophy is progressive with a futurist bent.  He has worked in a variety of fields, though you are unsure what he actually currently does for a living. He is knowledgeable, authoritative, but eccentric, which you can tell by the fun colors he’s used to design his fun little homepage. 

You can have fun clicking around his carefully maintained archive, witnessing the dynamic interplay of his disparate areas of interest. You can ooh and ahh at his reading lists, his quirky, inventive stances on issues like quantum computing and social media moderation. 

It’s all very inspirational.”

-Allegra Rosenberg, “Fear of the Archive.” tchotchke.substack.com. July 29, 2020.

When I read this, I thought I’d probably met the definition of this archetype for this person. Then, he goes on to say this.

“Better to be inconstant in one’s archiving (or forgo it completely) than to constantly be faced with the dirty dishes, the nauseating, living ‘matter’ of one’s past interests, pasts opinions, past genius lying guilelessly buried under strata of increasing idiocy.”

The weird thing about keeping a daily blog like this one is it is a process and a bit of a discipline. Here it is on Saturday morning, and I’ve nothing on my blog for the day. What do I do?

I have a Wallabag list that I put everything interesting I came across – in newsletters, RSS feeds or from wherever. I just look for something especially interesting or that I’d like to make a short statement about or would like to remember. Curation, and sharing of the things you think are interesting in this moment is a kind of love, a sharing of oneself.

The audience for these blog posts is the future me. It’s capturing a moment, and in some future moment, stumbling across it while looking for something else, I don’t think past me is some brilliant standard I’m no longer living up to. More often than not, I’m looking at the flaws, mostly spelling and formatting mistakes, and correcting them.

You see, future me remembers some of what it was like to be past me. There are wisps of memory of that particular moment, where I wrote something or did something, but much of it gets lost. But, being able to read these bits helps me to remember. Helps me to see how I’ve grown and changed. Whereas without taking the moment to write the post, it would be forever lost, like salt in the ocean.

Memory flavors everything, but it is its own kind of experience. It is always flawed and incomplete, like trying to see ocean salt when you can only taste it.

When I look at this blog, I see a few really good things. But, most of it is very mediocre. But, Sturgeon’s Law reigns everywhere. It doesn’t have to be good. I’m allowed to say dumb things – past, present and future – because I’m a flawed human being. And, every once in awhile, there’s gold in this swill bucket. But, you never get a chance to find it if you don’t stir it on a regular basis.

Lower your standards. No effort is lost of wasted. It’s this kind of dialogue, mostly with ourselves, that makes blogging worthwhile. I recommend it to everyone.

Manufacturing Intellect

“The primary focus of Manufacturing Intellect is to rescue and preserve the greatest intellectual voices and bring them to you. I do this by assiduously searching for rare and unavailable video and audio; restoring video quality through denoising and deartifacting, upscaling, color correction, and careful sharpening; and meticulously repairing and conforming audio to the greatest listening quality. My quest to preserve rare content takes me to various public, private and university libraries, thrift stores, used video, music and book stores, and into databases and archives all over the net.”

https://www.youtube.com/user/Vaipan

Words We Don’t Have

“Language and culture are inextricably linked. The words that exist (or that we make) form our language, and hence, are definitive of our culture. This place explores words that are unique to dialects or non-English languages, with an aim to examine what these words might illuminate about their cultures (and ours).”

WordsWeDontHave.com