The evolution of stupidity

Protecting people from themselves actually encourages irresponsibility

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At least one scientist thinks human beings are getting dumber.

We don’t know about that, but there’s little question that we’re acting that way.

Professor Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University recently posited that human intelligence peaked as far back as 2,000 years ago – basically because our survival back then depended more on our wits.

“A hunter-gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his or her progeny,” Dr. Crabtree suggests, “whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate.”

It’s a more fanciful hypothesis than we’re used to seeing from science, and certainly one that attracts anecdotal evidence.

You may have noticed, for example, that television commercials that depict dangerous or even impossible situations – cars being driven into bodies of water, or a guy flying through the air while holding onto a moving pickup’s tailgate – come with small-print warnings at the bottom of the screen: “Do not attempt.”

Such a warning, no doubt suggested in a memo from the company’s legal department, presupposes two things: 1) someone is stupid enough to try the stunt himself and 2) will sue if he gets hurt.

It’s a sad and funny statement about the state of our legal system, but also about intelligence levels. The lawyers are probably right.

A less whimsical bit of evidence that Dr. Crabtree might someday be proved right is American society’s apparent attempt to protect people from the consequences of their imprudent and downright stupid behavior.

From large, irresponsible firms collapsing from the weight of their recklessness, to indiscreet and intemperate gluttons for gratification, many people today think they deserve to be bailed out.

And, stupidly, we’re bailing them out.

Secretary of State John Kerry recently told a European audience that Americans “have a right to be stupid.” Indeed. In fact, “stupid” has become something of a protected class in America: A man can, for instance, impregnate as many women as he likes, or a woman can have babies with as many different men as she likes, and the worst that may happen to them is they’re held up to scorn on Maury Povich’s show (where the promiscuous-and-proud crowd goes to find out who the daddy is).

That’s because the government is there to pick up the slack.

And when taxpayers occasionally rebel enough to ask, in the law, that public-benefits recipients be drug-tested – sort of like taxpayers are tested for drugs when they get jobs – they’re told to mind their own business.

Really? Doesn’t taking my money and giving it to someone else to protect them from their own irresponsibility kind of make it my business just a little? Don’t I have a right to some sense that my hard-earned money isn’t just supporting someone else’s drug habit?

Apparently not. Ours is not to question the largesse of government – ours is to shut up and subsidize.

It all begs the question: How many people can be protected from the consequences of their behaviors, for how long, and at how great a cost?

The real tragedy is that, in trying everything to protect people from themselves, we’re enabling irresponsibility and negating nature’s demand that folks learn to take care of themselves – and we’re preventing them from growing and becoming their best selves and reaching their God-given potential.

Our attempt to weave a cocoon around stupid is only clogging the courts, as we noted in an editorial Feb. 24, ruining lives and costing us financially.

And it’s Dr. Crabtree’s best chance to be proved correct.

Here are five things we could do to try to change our current trajectory:

1. Stop subsidizing stupid; public policies and benefits must promote good choices and responsibility.

2. Be willing to stand by and watch people fail – with a humane safety net far below, of course.

3. Be open to serious education reform – and we’ve got to rethink everything, including school choice, parent/teacher accountability, and false self-esteem; not everybody deserves a trophy.

4. We need to stop ignoring, tolerating and even rewarding boorish, coarse, ignorant people and behavior.

5. As Superior Court Judge Danny Craig suggested in our Feb. 24 editorial, all of us should see ourselves as leaders and pick up our game in every facet of our lives.

Ultimately, it may matter less how smart humans are than how smart they act.

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specsta
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specsta 03/10/13 - 04:33 am
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18
Drivel and More Drivel

ACES wrote: "Doesn’t taking my money and giving it to someone else to protect them from their own irresponsibility kind of make it my business just a little? Don’t I have a right to some sense that my hard-earned money isn’t just supporting someone else’s drug habit?"

And you fellows also probably believed the old Ronald Reagan lie about the welfare queen picking up her check while driving a Cadillac. Isn't it time to grow up, guys?

It has been proven over and over that public assistance recipients do not use drugs any more than any other group of people. It doesn't take a genius to understand this.

Where is the protest over money spent to create new ways to kill human beings? The money spent to create cluster bombs that maim little children in Afghanistan, the money spent to create drones that rip apart innocent civilians in Pakistan, or the money spent on clandestine research and development of bio-weapons to destroy human life?

Yet ACES is worried about somebody's welfare check. Please! No protest about evil people like the Koch brothers who want to see fewer poor Americans have access to health care. No protest about the fact that the US has a higher infant mortality than 17 other developed countries. No protest about the fact that 17 million children in the US go hungry without proper food.

But this is typical of those who would rather condemn poor people and blame them for their station in life.

carcraft
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carcraft 03/10/13 - 06:01 am
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3
Specstra. Why not weed out

Specstra. Why not weed out that are using drugs? Where I work every effort is made to weed out people that abuse drugs!

Young Fred
16807
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Young Fred 03/10/13 - 06:15 am
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specsta, spoken like a

specsta, spoken like a trooper, like a trooper that has no clue.

Anyone who has actually lived the gov't assistance life can tell you that they're is a whole crap pile of people that don't deserve the assistance they get.

Nobody is “condemning poor people or blaming them for their station in life”. And isn't that just what all libweenies claim?

No, what the AC is doing is bringing REALITY to the debate. There should be a way, no, those that pay, demand there be a way to separate the truly needy from the users and takers.

Are you familiar with the concept of enabling? Certain politicians wish to perpetually enable bad habits in the hopes that they in turn will receive a life-time vote.

specsta, we all understand that there are some that need assistance, but the likes of you insist that common sense somehow equals cold-hardheartedness.

Riverman1
82451
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Riverman1 03/10/13 - 07:14 am
17
1
Gangnam Style Public

I heard local defense attorney Pete Theodocion being interviewed the other day and he was asked about picking juries for high profile cases involving public figures. He said the average person in the jury pool is likely to have no knowledge of current events and public officials. Of course, he’s right. Average IQ is 100 and TV recognizes the fact and gears their shows to the majority of viewers with this limited capability. Mobilizing these low information people, as TV does, is a political tactic sure to win elections even if the targeted voters are like Dennis Rodman, not knowing the difference in North and South Korea. They do know what Gangnam Style is though.

seenitB4
85836
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seenitB4 03/10/13 - 07:39 am
12
1
Sad isn't it

Just watch American tv & get an idea of the stupidty of the masses....Povich---Springer--Booboo---yeh I can see what kind of jury most receive in todays world...we need paid educated juries...

Bodhisattva
6019
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Bodhisattva 03/10/13 - 07:45 am
7
8
In the future, for

In the future, for convienience and cost savings, the safety net will be place on the ground instead of slightly above it.

Jane18
12332
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Jane18 03/10/13 - 08:02 am
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3
AC is Correct!

When half of our country is receiving "something" from the government, I would say, "yes, we have a problem". And if there is anyone(one on here)that doesn't think more people abuse the "aid" they get, you need to put a bid in on the Brooklyn Bridge!

deestafford
26627
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deestafford 03/10/13 - 08:39 am
12
1
Great Editorial!

I don't know about being stupidier, which is permanent, or more ignorant, which is temporary, I do know the country is less educated. If one does not believe it just look at a high school graduating test from the late 1800's or the early 1900's. I bet 75% of today's college graduates couldn't pass. Read about the education of the Founding Fathers and you would be amazed at their intelligence and what they knew. It would put the current politicians to shame.
Wasn't there an article published in the last couple of days about 80% of the NYC high school graduates applying to their community colleges were illiterate? If that is the statistic for those applying for community college, it makes one wonder about what the percentage is for the overall graduates. It has to be higher. All of that for over $15,000 per year per student.

rmwhitley
5542
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rmwhitley 03/10/13 - 09:37 am
1
0
Whoops!
Unpublished

Some respondents put too much chocolate in their milk this morning. Welfare recipients are more likely to use drugs and sell them than the average college grad.

debbiep38
421
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debbiep38 03/10/13 - 11:28 am
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Poor Specsta.
Unpublished

Poor Specsta.

myfather15
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myfather15 03/10/13 - 11:29 am
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Priceless!!

That a liberal would voice concern about an infant mortality rate; all the while would probably vote for late term abortions, partial birth abortions and NOW, post birth abortions. But hey, lets not miss an opportunity to bash America!!

myfather15
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myfather15 03/10/13 - 11:41 am
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3
"It has been proven over and

"It has been proven over and over that public assistance recipients do not use drugs any more than any other group of people."

How has this been proven "over and over" when they've NEVER been required to take drug screens? Could you provide a source for this information? Or do you just want us to blindly believe you, as most liberals want. They want BLIND SHEEP following them, because people with half a brain, question leadership.

myfather15
54961
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myfather15 03/10/13 - 12:00 pm
8
4
"And you fellows also

"And you fellows also probably believed the old Ronald Reagan lie about the welfare queen picking up her check while driving a Cadillac. Isn't it time to grow up, guys?"

It's not that I believe this, but the more important fact is; I'VE SEEN THIS. So I don't have to believe it, I KNOW IT. You can't confuse me with your pathetic attempt. You can't confuse people who know the truth. But that's the problem, there aren't enough people in the world that care enough to get involved and LEARN TRUTH.

No, of course EVERY person on assistance isn't cheating the system, but MANY are. Not everyone picking up their government check is doing so in a Cadillac, but many are. I've patroled the public housing areas for too many years for you to be able to confuse me. I've rode through there, seeing the Tahoes, Expeditions, Avalanches, Chrysler 300's, New Dodge Chargers with rims and expensive paint jobs and YES, I've even seen a few Cadillac Escalades.

No, you won't see them at every residence, but many; and if they are on public assistance, isn't ONE, to many? If they can afford a 400-600 vehicle payment; one would think they could afford their own place. BUT THEY WON'T, until being forced too.

What's amazing to me is this; from time to time you will see a family kicked out of the public housing for a violation of the rules and regulations. Then month or so later, you will see those same folks living in the hood or other neighborhood, paying for their own rent.

What? Wait!! You mean to tell me they were actually alive after being kicked out of the projects? They actually found a way to survive without public housing? How can this be? How is it they are able to survive without being provide a residence by the government? Surprise, a recent study revealed that people, when forced; are far more capable of taking care of themselves than liberal ideology would project. When forced to, people CAN actually find places to live. When hungry, people will actually find a way to provide food; some would even call it.......WORK. OMG, the humanity!!! I actually used the W-word.

myfather15
54961
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myfather15 03/10/13 - 12:04 pm
8
3
Oh, and by the way; if you

Oh, and by the way; if you must know, that study was conducted by common sense. You might want to contact them and see if they can assist you in understanding a few things about the world.

GiantsAllDay
9436
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GiantsAllDay 03/10/13 - 12:17 pm
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2
Actually, this is not a bad

Actually, this is not a bad little piece by the ACES.

Conservative Man
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Conservative Man 03/10/13 - 02:27 pm
10
1
"Idiocracy"...is a movie,

...about a marginally intelligent pizza delivery guy who's frozen in a cryogenic experiment only to be reanimated 500 years from now to find out, that compared to the rest of humanity, he's a genius...
I submit that the "dumbing down" of the human race has already begun...as RM pointed out that when the majority of society can tell you who Honey Boo-Boo is but can't give the names of their senators, or they know who holds the scoring record for the Miami Heat but they can't name the three branches of government, we are doomed..
What's sadder still is that he ruling elite, and in particular the left are perfectly happy with this..
It allows them to (in one of Obama's closest advisers words) "rule", instead of govern....
This editorial is spot on...until we stop subsidizing poor behavior we will continue to get what we pay for....poor behavior.

A Measured Response
70
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A Measured Response 03/10/13 - 02:54 pm
7
1
Well Said

Well said, Conservative Man ...

chascushman
6653
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chascushman 03/10/13 - 04:02 pm
8
2
“At least one scientist
Unpublished

“At least one scientist thinks human beings are getting dumber.”
If you look at the last election it does make one think this statement is true. We reelected a Marxist/communist that hates everything this country is based on and is doing everything he can to bring it to its knees .

Herenow2say
107
Points
Herenow2say 03/10/13 - 03:31 pm
2
7
If we stop rewarding stupid,

If we stop rewarding stupid, coarse and boorish acts, the Chronicle will not be allowed to be published.

KasparHauser
362
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KasparHauser 03/10/13 - 03:31 pm
0
1
Plural of Anecdote is STILL Not Data
Unpublished

Do let us know when there is a peer reviewed research paper in Science or Nature backing up the personal assertion in a 'set of articles' by Crabtree.

Until then, he and the Chronicle are just scribbling the old peoples' lament that things just aren't as perfect as they were in the 'good old days'. A lament that is actually 'why don't people respect us old people', where the answer is an uncomfortable 'because we can't afford to live in your fantasy world, what with us having to support you in social security, etc.'.

The heightened irony is in the fact that the very people who are most endangered by societal failure are the very children who will be paying the entitlements of the right wing whining class who seem to have nothing better to do than tune into wingnut media, all day and night.

Jon Lester
2285
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Jon Lester 03/10/13 - 03:34 pm
3
5
Not unlike the insular nature of the

conservative entertainment complex. Look at our state legislature.

specsta
6405
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specsta 03/10/13 - 04:06 pm
4
10
Blaming the Poor - Again???

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Florida law requiring drug testing of welfare recipients, due to a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment.

"The State has presented no evidence that simply because an applicant for TANF benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug addicted or prone to fraudulent and neglectful behavior," the judges wrote in their opinion.

“The simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy.”

The 11th Circuit governs Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

The average TANF assistance check is $392, and the total amount of funds paid out is about 16 billion per year. In comparison, ONE United States military program to build F-35 Lightning II's costs the taxpayers 332 BILLION, with costs to run the program estimated at about a TRILLION DOLLARS.

Where are the complaints about that? There is always money to build weapons to kill human beings, but never enough funding to HELP PEOPLE. It is a disgusting, obscene state that we find ourselves in, and the heartless ramblings of the extreme right, who are more worried about food stamps and welfare checks, just shows the level of depravity into which this country has sunk.

There are plenty of folks that used to have good jobs and live in nice homes who are facing unemployment, medical bills, foreclosures, etc. Some find themselves in a situation where they must turn to public housing or SNAP benefits. No one has the right to judge someone by the car they drive (you don't know anything about their lives), the clothes they wear, the foods they buy - or anything else. IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. There are folks who bought nice cars and clothes and then the bottom was ripped out from under them. So stop judging other people. You don't know their stories.

chascushman
6653
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chascushman 03/10/13 - 04:34 pm
10
3
“IT'S NONE OF YOUR
Unpublished

“IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.”
Sorry, specsta if they are getting tax payer money IT IS the business of every tax payer.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 03/10/13 - 04:44 pm
8
3
Sell the nice car
Unpublished

“There are folks who bought nice cars”
Sell the nice car and buy some food why should I buy food for someone that drives a better car than I do.

Young Fred
16807
Points
Young Fred 03/10/13 - 05:15 pm
9
2
spectra, you trot out the

spectra,

you trot out the tired old argument that just because there are injustices in the world, that we should...continue to perpetually commit injustices... because some injustices are better than others?!

What you've witnessed in this country and most European countries is the purposeful enslavement of a whole class of people.

But somehow you seem OK with that, why, because it makes you feel better? Because you see what you consider bigger injustices?

If you could somehow find it within yourself to address the subjugation of your fellow citizens, the purposeful keeping of them in poverty, I for one could probably give a little more credence to your rants against “the so called ruling class”.

But as long as you're enabling poverty and enabling those with power to keep them there, (ie the statist), you seem to be part of the problem.

carcraft
25350
Points
carcraft 03/10/13 - 05:45 pm
9
2
Spectra- but working at the

Spectra- but working at the Hospital that used to be MCG deprives me of my constituional rights? LOL they recently busted a drug dealer with $25,000 cash and an EBT card. he really needed it right? My wife worked at a health care providers office. The kids on Peach care would come in with the latest fashion designs she couldn't afford for her own kids. One women came in, 6 kids by 6 differant guys and would say "nobodies telling me how many kids I can have". If she had to pay for them I don't think her legs would spread 1/2 as quick!

carcraft
25350
Points
carcraft 03/10/13 - 05:49 pm
6
3
I know we are getting dumber,

I know we are getting dumber, it is the only way they can get me to go to work to support all this BS and stupidity! In two years I am going to pull an ATLAS SHRUG and start collecting my retirement and every bit of goods I can from the gubment! I want as many gubment checks as I can get! I'll be up to three, military retirement, VA retirement and social security! maybe if I engineer it right I can get food stamps!

KSL
126987
Points
KSL 03/10/13 - 06:02 pm
5
2
Well said, Fred

Well said

specsta
6405
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specsta 03/10/13 - 07:33 pm
3
6
Choosing To Be Poor?

So we enable poverty by helping poor folks with food, medicine and shelter? Maybe you would rather just line them up in front of a firing squad and eliminate the problem. It worked for the Nazis, so why not here?

The only entities that are enabling poverty are the greedy corporations that snatch the livelihood from people in order to make a nice profit for the shareholders, the greedy politicians who serve their masters in the corporate boardroom, and the greedy lawmakers who can always fund prisons and bombs, but not schools and books.

Talk about enslavement? When a nation thinks that someone who has wealth is a better person than someone in need, the enslavement is a state of spiritual death.

How can one call themselves a human being and have the audacity to think that some rich, silver-spoon fed individual is more worthy of being able to see a doctor, or eat healthy food, or live in a safe neighborhood, or get a good education - than someone who is homeless or poor?

I will never understand this hatred for the poor. It is vile and and abhorrent. I can only imagine what God thinks of such hate.

carcraft
25350
Points
carcraft 03/10/13 - 07:50 pm
4
0
Specstra Trying to help

Specstra Trying to help people is differant than subsidizing stupidity

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