Monday, September 21, 2009


Only two things are infinite,
the universe and human stupidity,
and I'm not sure about the former.

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

We all do stupid things from time to time, it's all part of being human, but it seems to me that common sense is no longer very common any more and that stupidity is reaching epidemic levels.
It used to be that when you did something stupid you did a quick shoulder check to make sure no one had noticed. Not so any more. Now you put it on YouTube, Face Book or "tweet it" so that the world gets to witness your stupidity.

Laurent LePierres, a columnist for The Halifax Chronicle Herald has an amusing take on stupidity in the Friday, Aug. 14th, 2009 issue that I would like to share. He writes:

Here’s a bright idea: Act like you have a brain

SO you’ve probably heard by now that dogs are smarter than cats and that crows are craftier than you might think.

Recently published research suggests canines have the cognition of a two-year-old child. Dogs know 165 to 250 words, can count to five, and experience four basic emotions. Like toddlers, they might even have an innate sense of fairness.

Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cats promptly launched a class-action suit in light of their inferior test results. Feline intelligence plateaus at an 18-month-old’s level, but there is an argument to be made that we’ve invested far more in dog development.

The descendant of the grey wolf is the product of thousands of years of schooling and selective breeding. We did not invent the dog, but we certainly re-invented it in all its modern manifestations.

So what about cats? Next to dogs, they’re chopped liver, which, come to think of it, might not sound all that bad to a cat.

As for crows, they’re the black sheep of the brainy family. Humans have always viewed them as pests, not pets. They haven’t received any formal education, probably because a classroom full of crows would quickly degenerate into a squawk fest.

Crows can distinguish between individuals and they’ll sound the alarm when they see one they don’t like. So ravens basically act like kids at a rave when the cops drop in.

Anyway, a recent experiment involving crows from New Caledonia showed how most of these particular captive birds had no trouble figuring out, on their own, how to use three tools in proper sequence to get food. The key here is that without training, they solved a complex problem — something only humans were thought to excel at.

Now, I’m not about to suggest that the average crow is as clever as a human. But I will venture to say that some humans are more clueless than turkeys — especially when they travel in packs.

On a point of privilege, I would also like to object to the English-language expression "a murder of crows." That’s libel — a flock of squawkers isn’t murderous. Really, it’s groups of marauding human males who should be labelled a "murder of Cros" — Cro Magnons, that is.

How else can one characterize the actions of those pond scum in Saskatchewan who whooped it up as they blew a bunch of ducks and ducklings out of the water for the fun of it? The trio proudly posted their prowess in target practice on YouTube, where one of them is heard to exclaim, "Did you get the baby?" A killer quote if I’ve ever heard one.

The video generated a flood of tips and the ignoramuses pleaded guilty this week, all the while pleading ignorance about the law.

But it’s not just the male of the species whose brain seems to shift into reverse when the pack mentality takes hold. In Quebec, a 17-year-old girl died this month from injuries sustained while "car surfing." She was one of six young women tooling around in, and on top of, a car. She fell off and hit her head. In July, a 38-year-old Quebec man was killed in a similar stunt. How you can live 20 years beyond the accepted Age of Idiocy with no instinct for self-preservation is beyond me.

Of course, the rogue’s gallery tableau would not be complete without the infamous YouTube clip of a proud papa from rural Quebec taking his family on an excursion with his seven-year-old son behind the wheel.

My fear is that this sort of behaviour is probably not that rare. Common sense might not be that commonplace after all. Maybe it’s la crème de la crème of cretins who get caught.

Why does mindless behaviour make me so mad? Because the human mind is a sophisticated instrument and should be used as such. Despite the dim wattage our noggins function on, the amazing thing is that we’re not all dimwits.

Think about it. The human brain uses three times less juice than a 60-watt light bulb, yet it manages to multi-task to the nth degree. It’s uncanny, supernatural. There is no supercomputer on Earth that can come close to rivalling its memory and processing power, much less deliver the goods with such economy of energy.

Yes, animals continue to surprise us with their own mental abilities. But by the same token, humans are a walking miracle. And if we were more mindful of the privilege that has been bestowed on us, maybe we’d act more intelligently.


Anyway, I got such a kick out of this and I hope you do too. You can read it plus comments on the piece for yourself on line at The Chronicle Herald.


  1. Well, that is good advice if I ever heard it : ) "Act like you have a brain." : )

  2. I love this post. Our intelligence is a privilege and a gift to be nurtured and exercised. Great quote today!

  3. Enjoyed your quote.

  4. Thank you for sharing the article ... this is something that I've been thinking a lot about lately --- it is disappointing isn't it?

  5. Such an interesting article. I do have to agree that too many times I see common sense go out the window. I hope to teach my kids to use it. I loved your title and Einstein's quote!


  6. Great article. And so very true. We use so little of our potential! And the people who maim other living things or themselves acting stupidly is just sad and unacceptable.

  7. Great Sunday Citar and a terrific post that says it all!

    Boomer Baby Bliss, Sunday Citar!

  8. this was a great article. I loved it thanks :)

  9. Cute post, but I beg to differ..Cats ARE smarter than dogs! LOL!! Coming from a cat lover! :)