Understanding Stupidity #2 – Stupidity Is A More Dangerous Enemy…

Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed- in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer wrote the quote above, ten years after Hitler’s accession to supreme power. This conclusion came soaked in the blood of his fellow citizens.

For this post, let’s concentrate on one of the phrases

Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice

For our purposes, I would like to exchange the word “malice” with “evil”. Hitler’s regime was very evil, but it was made powerful by stupidity. This statement is almost shocking! But, as Bonhoeffer found, Hitler got people to do evil things under the guise of building a master race that would solve all the world’s problems. Once that was embedded in the average German’s mind, he found he could tell them to do almost anything and they would believe it.

He incited mobs to throw stones into the windows of innocent shopkeepers. He convinced them to cruelly humiliate women and children in public. He convinced them to look the other way while he exterminated millions of their fellow citizens!

Bonhoeffer backed up the title statement by saying because almost everyone will fight against evil with force, and expose it for what it is. While for stupidity, any reasoning falls on deaf ears. Facts that contradict a stupid person’s prejudgment simply not believed. Any reason is brushed aside. He mentioned that a stupid person is self-satisfied and easily irritated to the point of attack.

Applying these thoughts to today, there is a mountain of reason available to counter so much of what the current Trump herd believes, but it falls on deaf ears. They simply are beyond the point where rationality functions. Let’s face it

Stupidity is basically not an intellectual defect but rather a moral one.

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