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Dangerous Thinking [Aug. 26th, 2008|02:01 pm]
Wise Tits
wise_tits
[d_h_belmont]
I've noticed a lot of people in general will consider certain "evil" people in history and even today as "stupid morons", which violates the basic rule of combat according to Sun Tzu, which is "Know your enemy as you do yourself and you shall always be victorious". To that end, I recently watched a fascinating program on Ted Kaczinsky, better known as "The Uni-bomber", on National Geographic. This is the guy who spend nearly 20 years in a shack in Montana building bombs and sending them to Universities. I was so fascinated by the way this guy's mind ticked, that I proceeded to read most of his "Uni-bomber Manifesto", which he kinda forced the media to print under the threat of more bombings, and while I don't agree with his methods, or the very core of his argument, I thought his commentary on the world in which we live in to be thought provoking and disturbing. I even agreed with some of it. Some people would think that's a bad thing, but remember it's a logical fallacy to assume an idea is bad because someone who is bad came up with it or agrees with it...

Anyway, I was discussing this at work with a number of my co-workers on our break, and one of my workers mumbled "Oh, he was an idiot.". To call Ted Kaczinsky an idiot shows a gross understanding of the Uni-bomber. By no means am I trying to say he was a great guy- he was a mass murderer, but as an eleven year old, he was already considered a genius. He skipped a few grades and went to Harvard. He was smarter than the FBI who was trying to chase him, and had it not been for his family turning him in when they realized the Manifesto matched the things he was known for writing, he would still be out there today blowing people up. The FBI's first "sketch" on this guy's personality was 100 percent wrong.

The same could be applied to Hitler, who, once again, was one of the worst individuals of humanity's history. I've heard people call him an idiot, too, but let's not forget this guy took a completely destroyed and bankrupt nation, and in less than a decade, came within a hair's width of taking over the world.

Or here's the current day example: Osama Bin Laden. Again, terrible person, mass murderer, but here's a guy who's been behind countless attacks, including September 11th, and the United States can't seem to figure out where the hell he's at! We're really going to call him stupid? He's very intelligent, and dangerous.

Now all of this isn't to say any of these men are "great", but I think to call them "stupid people" is dangerous thinking because it's a gross underestimation of your enemies strength and wit. If we confront our enemies with this smug overconfidence and this imagined ineptitude of who we're fighting, we'll be in for an unpleasant shock. What's to gain by thinking your enemy is stupid? Their ideas may be messed up and wrong and even stupid, but it doesn't hide the fact they're clever, otherwise, they wouldn't be such a threat to begin with.

I feel like I'm going in circles here, so I'll summarize...

To regard an enemy as "stupid" seems to be a typical mentality for most people.
To acknowledge an enemies' abilities and intelligence is not treason, but an honest assessment of what you're up against.
Overconfidence leads to quick defeat, something most people know, but don't seem to practice when it comes to these matters.

Am I on to something?
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Comments:
From: d_h_belmont
2008-08-26 09:23 pm (UTC)
One obvious theory is that people have these ideas that give them comfort, such as good always defeats evil, and that to challenge us, being the "good" guys, is simply moronic. Good is supposed to be better than evil, so the automatically lower any bad person would "seem" logical, though it isn't.

I would also guess one's ignorance of an individual allows the idea that said individual was a moron to thrive. I wonder how many people could sit down and read (and comprehend) an entire book on Hitler, or Bin Laden, or just about any other great historical bad guy (and not some kiddie book, but something that's several hundred pages in length) and still say any of them were "stupid". It's been my experience that once a person has knowledge of a person, they're left with a strikingly different impression. I used to think the Uni-Bomber was just some nut job in the woods, too, until I learned more about him.
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[User Picture]From: hahahasyyke
2008-08-26 09:56 pm (UTC)
AH! I think that your comment about good/evil is a good idea.

You know, it's kind of funny - my mom isn't exactly someone I would consider intelligent. She's got common sense and probably decent street smarts, but she's not book smart. She always bitched that my real father thought Hitler and Manson were "great people."

Now that I'm thinking about this, I wouldn't doubt that she probably twisted this situation a tad, because my real father (from what I've always been told) was a very intelligent man. My mom, despite all of her anger and hatred toward him, would not deny this. She always said he was really, really smart. So, maybe what my mom is considering stupid (him thinking they were great people) is really simply that he understood their intelligence and she didn't.

I hate saying anyone is stupid, I don't think my mom is "stupid" but sometimes I feel inclined to say "she's dumb" because of things like this. I don't even find myself all too smart, and I can see beyond what she can.

My father probably thought they were smart people and didn't "idolize them" but I could imagine he probably thought highly of their abilities in some ways. *Sigh* Times like this, I wish I knew my father.

Anyway, I think you're totally right about just about everything you've brought to surface in this post, so I suppose I can leave it at that and stop my rambling!
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From: you_lied
2008-08-26 10:31 pm (UTC)
I see what you're saying and agree with it. I think though that people call them stupid just to put them down. I don't think they usually necessarily mean that said person is stupid in terms of intelligence, but that they are stupid in the sense that what they were doing wasn't right.

I don't doubt that I myself have referred to Hitler or Bin Laden (using your examples) as being stupid or something along those lines, but I in no way meant that they weren't intelligent. Like you pointed out they were and are obviously very intelligent people, and I think the world's best criminals, mass murderers, etc are some of the smartest people that have ever lived. Then again I suppose you would have to have some intelligence to pull the kinds of things they do off.

Maybe people should be more selective with the way they word things when they are trying to say something. Although I do also believe there are people who probably do believe these kinds of people were or are stupid, but there is some American arrogance right there for ya. Good point on it all though.
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[User Picture]From: hahahasyyke
2008-08-27 02:11 am (UTC)
That's a good point, actually. People could have just as easily said "Bin Laden is gay" and we wouldn't automatically think they meant he was homosexual OR happy - but when it comes to something like stupid... Well, I know that I, for one, throw that word around and don't necessarily mean that someone is lacking intelligence. No different, I suppose, than if I were to say they were retarded. I obviously don't think they are mentally disabled, and someone might pick up on that.

Calling someone stupid is much more vague than I ever noticed before haha.
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-08-27 02:58 am (UTC)
I like this community. Right off the bat, I'm *thinking*.

I think about certain people, like that co-worker who called Kazscinski an idiot. He calls a lot of people and things stupid, some things I know he knows nothing about. Either he grossly misunderstands the world around him, or he's so smug that he thinks he's better than everyone else. Either way, I think it makes him something of an ass.

I'm pretty critical of the world around me, but I try to be a bit more specific to why I think something's stupid. Either way, I'm probably an ass, too.

I think we're all correct on this subject. In some cases, people are no doubt just using a put down, and in other cases, people really and truly think bad guys are just as inept as they appear in the corniest of movies.
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