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Stupidity—a Universal Human Flaw?

Peace, harmony, and lifelong learning are Liz's passions. She's outspoken on education and childhood and is an activist in local politics.

Stupid mistakes cause trauma

Stupid mistakes cause trauma

What Is Stupidity, Anyway?

To most of us, theOxford Dictionary definition,

1. Behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgement

2. The quality of being stupid or unintelligent

doesn't quite fulfill the outrageous actions, sometimes comic; oftentimes tragic, and the abject failure to apply good old fashioned common sense.

We've all witnessed classic examples in our lives; perhaps we ourselves at some point were guilty of such a lapse. Haven't we all, at some point, smacked ourselves upside the head, saying, "I can't believe I did something so stupid!"

Our large, well-developed brains are still not immune to lapses of clear thinking.

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

— Celia Storey

Sometimes, Stupidity is So Obvious

We can wonder aloud, in unison about what some people are thinking when they try to pull off some stunt, or make some innane comment.

The internet is full of videos of people doing utterly stupid things, trying to show off, or who knows what their intention actually was.

Some of the stunts people have pulled should have killed them; that they lived to tell about it, and share the video is astonishing. It further amazes me that they collectively seem to have no shame in sharing the videos showcasing their lack of gray matter!

Stupid is as stupid does, sir.

— Forrest Gump

Stupidity in Song

Many songs have been written about stupidity. A large share of them deal with being clumsy with communications in romantic situations.

But, a few deal with other aspects of this universal problem.

Something Stupid by Frank Sinatra

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

— Attributed to Albert Einstein

Stupidity Tries by Elliott Smith

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

— Benjamin Franklin

Poking Fun

Since making stupid mistakes and exhibiting gross lapses of judgement seems rampant, the usual human reaction is to make light of such things by poking fun at the results, or making exaggerated statements intended to draw laughter.

Bill Engvall is one such master. Below are both an exerpt from his stand-up comedy routine, and the song probably inspired by said routine.

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Bill Engvall Comedy Routine

Here's Your Sign by Bill Engvall

Exaggeration and Apparent Invitation to Stupidity

Weird Al Yankovic isn't everyone's cup of tea, but in this context, he well illustrates the comedic form of exaggeration and play on opposites of what folks should do.

Go Ahead: Be Stupid!

Stupid Questions Abound

There are probably more stupid questions people ask than there are people who ask them. HUH? Meaning, there are some people particularly prone to asking stupid questions, and thereby ask more than their fair share, thus multiplying the number of questions well past how many people ask stupid questions!

Here's another song that talks about this, although the "stupid questions" in the song are more like the unknowable questions everyone has. But, given that the answers cannot be known, I suppose that puts them squarely into the category of stupidity.

Stupid Questions by Keller Williams

Alice Cooper has a song about stupidity as well: "Hey Stoopid!" It talks about life choices that are stupid and dangerous. However, I did not link the music video here because parts of it are not quite "G" rated.

But, if you want to watch it, just search the title and artist on YouTube, and it should come right up.

Another song about stupidity is about the gross stupidity of war, and this is probably more a war protest song than specifically about stupidity, but it does fall within the classification. This one is by Culture Club.

The War Song by Culture Club

In Conclusion

Hopefully you have enjoyed this foray into the minds of the stupid. Hopefully, you have not found yourself described in any of these examples!

No disrespect was intended with any of this exploration. That there are so many examples of such human foibles now available for the asking on the Internet, just goes to prove how we are still falliable humans, and at any time "stupid" can sneak up and bite any one of us.

That we laugh at others' misfortunes is a matter for a different kind of article entirely.

And just so you don't feel too bad about human folly, let me end with a video of misjudgements by other species.

Humans Are Not The Only Ones Who Make Poor Judgements

© 2019 Liz Elias


Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 02, 2020:

Hello Jim,

Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind comment. Glad you enjoyed the article.

Jim Henderson from Hattiesburg, Mississippi on June 01, 2020:

Every time I watch the news, I become more convinced your thesis is true. It certainly is a universal human flaw, a maxim I have proven true more often than I would like to admit,


I hope the inspiration you write about in a later follow up on stupid things people do!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on March 23, 2019:

Hi Audrey!

Glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for the share. It is funny to watch someone, when you are saying to yourself, "that isn't going to end well..."

I do appreciate the ironic and the comic and the poking fun on stage, but when some of these things happen in real life, it can be downright scary. But yes, laughter is, as the old saw goes, the best medicine.

I rather miss the comedy improv troupe to which I belonged...gosh...has it already been 20 years ago??? How time flies!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on March 22, 2019:

Enjoyed the Bill Engvall video. Shared it on FB. I love stupid people. They crack me up! Maybe if more folks would get in touch with their stupid side, we'd have more laughter and much less fighting.

Good job, Liz!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 11, 2019:

Hi Shauna!

Yeah, Bill is one funny guy. Isn't it amazing how much truth can be told in jest?

I know what you mean about the first video; parts of it are hard to watch. I have to wonder if some of them even survived those incidents. My husband used to say, "I think you call that birth control; they won't pass on their stupidity genes." Kind of mean-sounding, but I get his point. What were they thinking, indeed?

Perhaps a course in basic physics should be required before the teen may flout the laws of mankind, but you cannot flout the laws of physics!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 11, 2019:

this was fun, Liz. I really got some chuckles from the Bill Engvall video. I forgot how funny he is!

To be honest, I couldn't make it through the first video of people doing stupid things. Some of them really hurt themselves badly. What were they thinking?

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 09, 2019:

Hi Liz--

So true; anyone looking for perfection is on the wrong planet! That said, there is a vast difference between momentary lapses of concentration, such as my mom's friend trying to make room in the fridge for what turned out to be the toaster--and outright disregard for the safety and well being on oneself and others nearby--as demonstrated in the video of people doing monumentally stupid things.

Don't beat yourself up about having "slow" moments; they happen to all of us, after which we usually say, "Oh,...DUH!" But I doubt we'd find you trying to skateboard down a stairway railing!

Liz Westwood from UK on January 09, 2019:

None of us are perfect so I guess we can all be excused the odd mistake. Does stupid equate to not using common sense? As this is something that I am sometimes slow to engage.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 06, 2019:

@Kim--LOL--I know that feeling oh, so well; like the day I was off who knows where in my mind, and forgot to put the coffee cup under the brew spout. UGH! Thanks so much for stopping by; I'm glad you liked this article.

@Carolyn--Oh, yes; I do remember that now! Thanks for adding that bit. It's become quite a catch phrase to say, "You can't fix stupid." But I saw a funny meme on Facebook one day: it had that saying, and continued with, "...but you can muffle it with duct tape!" LOL Glad you enjoyed this piece.

Carolyn Fields from South Dakota, USA on January 06, 2019:

Another comedian, Ron White, talks about picking a spouse based on intelligence, not physical appearance. He argues, quite rightly that you can always do something to improve your looks. But you can't fix stupid. Fits perfectly with the theme of your hub. Enjoying reading it. Thanks!

ocfireflies from North Carolina on January 06, 2019:

What an interesting piece. I know I am guilty of doing many things that upon reflection, the only explanation is stupidity on my part. I enjoyed the quotes and videos.

Blessings Always,


Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 05, 2019:

Thank you, Eric, I'm glad you enjoyed this foray into the hidden folds of our collective brains. ;-)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 05, 2019:

So perfect for our little clubhouse right now. "Stupid" is a cuss word in our home. But my boy and I raise eyebrows when we are stupid. How come acting stupid is so funny? Loved the song by Frank.

I use my brain so much that stupid is a release.

Oh well.

Thank you for this.

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