I recently watched a documentary about stupidity. In the video, they asked numerous people to define stupidity.
It was amazing at just how hard it was, as we are all stupid (or do stupid things) at certain times in our lives.
I thought quite a bit about stupidity and what it really was and is.
Dictionary.com defines stupidity as: stu·pid·i·ty /
1. the state, quality, or fact of being stupid.
2. a stupid act, notion, speech, etc.
Stupidity is a quality or state of being stupid, or an act or idea that exhibits properties of being stupid.
The root word stupid, which can serve as an adjective or noun, comes from the Latin verb stupere, for being numb or astonished, and is related to stupor.
The modern English word "stupid" has a broad range of application, from being slow of mind (indicating a lack of intelligence, care or reason), dullness of feeling or sensation (torpidity, senseless, insensitivity), or lacking interest or point (vexing, exasperating).
It can either infer a congenital lack of capacity for reasoning, or a temporary state of daze or slow-mindedness.
In science and research
There are Ig Nobel Prizes for trivial research in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, public health, engineering, biology, mathematics, veterinary medicine.
Awarded topics have included cows with names give more milk than cows that are nameless, or creating diamond film from tequila, or determining why pregnant women do not tip over.
More socially harmful stupidity is academic stupidity, defined as "Academic Research Illusion", "deluding by creating illusory ideas", "considered scientific (magical) by laymen (naive observers)", "something what is false", "erroneous mental representation."
It is when the quality of research is measured by the number of papers published, instead of the quality of the content produced, its correctness, importance, novelty, and originality.
Such widely supported by funding agencies paper-count policy schemes are resulted in foolish things: Encouraging superficial research of hastily written, shallow (and often incorrect) papers lacking quality, value or sense; Encouraging extra-large groups of academics; Encouraging repetition of the same ideas in many conferences and journals; Encouraging small, insignificant, and trivial studies; Rewarding publication of half-baked ideas.
This last paragraph could describe what happens in business too (or even our personal lives) when we worry or pay attention to insignificant things, work on projects lacking quality, value, or sense.
Or we encourage repetition of behaviors that cause harm (this can be an addiction, a bad habit, making poor decisions, a vice) and rewarding such poor performance, mediocrity, or lack of talent.
At one point in the documentary, someone stated that stupidity is willful ignorance. I pondered that, and I have to agree.
If you continue in a behavior, vice, habit, addiction, which you know, is harmful or brings negative consequences…that is stupidity.
You are willfully NOT changing and so you keep getting the same result (but not the result you want).
That is willful ignorance; of having or making a better life.
For example, the person who is constantly late for work, does not improve their skills, takes long breaks, does the minimal that they can…and then they wonder why so and so was promoted and they were not.
Alternatively, the person who has an addiction or habit that endangers their health, but refuses to change their behavior.
Willful ignorance; stupidity.
I believe that we even choose to remain ignorant at times, because deep down we are not ready to give up our favorite vice.
Other times, I believe we are blind to our stupidity and until we pass through certain experiences, our ignorance is hidden from us.
Thus, the importance of being humble so we can be teachable and encounter our ignorance more quickly.