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Rob Jenkins
Rob Jenkins
Rob Jenkins is an associate professor of English at Georgia State University – Perimeter College and a Higher Education Fellow at Campus Reform.

Ignorance, stupidity, or Malice?

Covid Stupidity opinion

A major topic of conversation at the recent Brownstone retreat was whether the people who locked us down and then mandated an experimental gene therapy, along with their supporters and enablers, were motivated primarily by stupidity or malice.

I’d like to propose a third option: ignorance. In my view, all three played a part in the Covid debacle.

I believe—I choose to believe—that many of the people who are to some degree responsible for the devastation of the last four years—particularly the millions of Americans who allowed it to happen because they docilely went along—were simply ignorant. They accepted what they were told in March 2020 about the virulence and lethality of the virus. They fell for the fake videos of Chinese citizens keeling over in the streets. They watched in horror as what appeared to be freezer trucks sat parked outside New York hospitals. They assumed the government wouldn’t be sending military hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles if the disease wasn’t ravaging those cities. And they eagerly embraced the notion that, if we all just stayed home for two weeks, we could actually “flatten the curve.”

I confess: I fell into this category initially, for about those first two weeks. I’m blessed (or maybe cursed) with a natural skepticism and fortunate to have found, early on, alternative news sources that were reporting the truth—or at least trying to get at it. So I began to suspect, as “two weeks” stretched to infinity, that we were being had. But most Westerners have been conditioned to believe whatever the government and the media tell them, without questioning. Those people bought into the indefinite forced isolation and the social distancing and the Zoom school and the grocery delivery because they were ignorant. They didn’t really understand what was happening.

That includes, by the way, many in positions of authority and responsibility, like medical doctors and nurses, teachers and administrators, religious leaders, and local elected officials. Maybe even some elected officials at the national level. They swallowed the official narrative, too. I’m convinced most of these people honestly believed they were doing the right thing, saving lives, when in fact they were doing nothing of the sort because, as we now know, none of those “mitigation strategies” had any effect on the virus. But to be completely fair to them—and I think it’s important to be fair, however angry we might be at the consequences of their behavior—they were acting out of ignorance.

Of course, at some point, ignorance begins to bleed over into stupidity—perhaps at the point where people could have known better, and maybe even should have known better. Then their ignorance, which is a legitimate excuse for bad behavior, becomes willful. And willful ignorance is a form of stupidity, which is not an excuse, especially not for those we entrust with important decisions that affect all our lives.

The definition of stupidity proposed by UC Berkeley economist Carlo Cipolla in 1976 seems relevant in this context: “A stupid person is one who causes losses to another person or group while deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.” (You can find a nice summary of Cipolla’s theory here.) In other words, stupid people do stupid things for no reason. They harm other people, and they don’t even get anything out of it. They might even harm themselves in the process—“shooting themselves in the foot,” as we sometimes say, or “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” That is indeed the height of stupidity.

This definition certainly applies to many, many of the Covidians, including quite a few who (if we want to be generous) started out as merely ignorant. Over time, their perhaps understandable ignorance morphed into stupidity as they held on stubbornly to masking, distancing, and school closures despite literal mountains of evidence that none of those had any salutary effect. And most of them didn’t even benefit from their stubborn, stupid refusal to acknowledge reality. Yes, some did, and we’ll get to them in a moment. But most didn’t. In many cases, they embarrassed themselves, damaged their careers, lost businesses and personal relationships, and for what? So they could yell at the rest of us about masks? That’s pretty stupid.

Also instructive here is Cipolla’s Second Law of Stupidity: “The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.” In other words, stupidity, as he defines it, is more or less evenly distributed throughout the population. It has nothing to do with intelligence, education, or income level. There are stupid doctors, lawyers, and college professors, just as there are stupid plumbers and ditch diggers. If anything, the former groups are somewhat more likely to contain stupid people. It all comes down to a person’s willingness to do things that make no sense, things that harm others—aka, stupid things—despite not getting anything out of it and perhaps even losing in the bargain.

And then there are the people who actually DO benefit from the harm they cause to others. They exhibit many of the same behaviors as the stupid people, except that they actually get something out of it—money, fame, power. Cipolla refers to these people—those who harm others for their own benefit—as “bandits.” Most of the best-known Covidians, the biggest names in media, government, “public health,” and the pharmaceuticals industry, fall into this category. They initiated, enforced, and supported policies that seemingly made no sense, and they came away smelling like roses. They became the toast of the media circuit, earned cushy sinecures, and expanded their bank accounts by millions.

The main difference between stupid people and bandits, according to Cipolla, is that the latter’s actions actually make sense, once you understand what they’re trying to accomplish. If a person knocks you down for no reason—well, that’s just stupid. But if they knock you down and then take your wallet, that makes sense. You understand why they knocked you down, even if you don’t like it any better. Moreover, you can to some degree adjust for the actions of “bandits”—for instance, by staying out of the bad part of town, where someone might knock you down and take your wallet. But if you’re at a mall in a nice suburb, and people are just knocking you down for no apparent reason, there’s no way to plan for that.

The problem with stupidity, says Cipolla, is two-fold. First, we consistently “underestimate the number of stupid people in circulation.” We assume the vast majority of people will act rationally under most circumstances, but—as we’ve seen plainly over the last four years—that turns out not to be true. Many behave irrationally much of the time, and it appears that a majority will do so in a time of crisis.

Second, as Cipolla points out, the stupid people are if anything more dangerous than the bandits, mostly for the reasons cited above: There are a lot more of them, and it’s nearly impossible to account for them. You can have a perfectly good plan to address some emergency—like, say, a pandemic—and the stupid people will blow it up for no good reason. Sure, malicious bad actors will make off with the treasury, if they can, but that has always been the case. I mean, is anybody really surprised that Albert Bourla added millions to his net worth? Or that Anthony Fauci now has a cushy job teaching at Georgetown? Yes, it’s frustrating and disgusting. There’s no doubt they were among the main architects of this disaster, as well as its main beneficiaries. But none of that is, or was, completely unexpected. Bandits gonna bandit.

What has been most frustrating to me over the past couple of years has been the way that millions of otherwise normal people—including friends, relatives and colleagues, as well as store clerks, flight attendants, and random people on the streets—have behaved so stupidly. A surprising number continue to do so, embarrassing themselves by haranguing the rest of us about masks and “vaccines,” alienating everyone in sight, making life more difficult for themselves and others even though they gain nothing by it.

So yes, the four-year debacle that is our collective Covid response is attributable in part to ignorance and in part to malice. But worse than either of those, and far more damaging to society in the long term, has been the sheer stupidity—humanity’s capacity for which I will never again underestimate.

Image credit: Usman Yousaf

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17 COMMENTS

  1. IGNORANCE, STUPIDITY, OR MALICE?
    Doesn’t matter. Neither ever prevented culpability and punishment.
    Justice WILL be served.

  2. My humble opinion, take it or leave it:
    Oil supply = national defense. Too many citizens using up oil supply = threat to national security.
    Sacrificing a few billion “for the common good” cuts down on consumption. It’s not about climate change, it’s about saving a precious resource.

    • Harry, climate change is a scam invented by the so called ‘elite’ to fleece the masses. Crude oil is the earths most abundant resource we are never ever going to run out of it. We have all been hoodwinked by the Rockefellers and Co who propel it as being a ‘fossil fuel’ so they can keep the price jacked up. Whats that got to do with those in Govt. responsibile for the illegal mandates and lockdowns ? probably the same reason as closing down Marsden Point. The Govt. were bribed they are corrupt, they are hollowed out self serving freeloaders to the NWO at the publics expense. They coersed Corporations and Cos to mandate the jabs by threatening to withdraw funding. In doing so it kept the Govt. at arms lenght. Then they sprouted ‘the Govt. is not forcing you to take the jab’ Liars. Then ginger mudcake later starts sprouting if you got sick from the jab it was all your own fault for taking it. How do you go with that one? They knew damn well the jabs were untested and dangerous but pushed ahead with the narrative anyway. But they crossed the liine when they paid the parents out up to 450k in some cases to shut up and go away when their poor innocent you young ones died immediately after being jabbed. Where did that money come from? Answer me that one Harry? They knew it was not a vaccine but a bioweapon. Pushing a bioweapon on the public is a War Crime which is a Crime Against Humanity. We the people, for our children and grandchildrens sake must hold them all to account.

      • Well put.

        You only have to do your research of history to know Rockefellers/Rothschilds et al, got into bed together, bought the oil companies, and then promoted that every family have a car. And then fabricated the notion that it is a finite resource.

        They acquired pharmaceutical companies then bought out the medical universities, manipulated the curriculum, ended natural medicines and taught med students to prescribe drugs that were only going to help with symptoms which required other drugs to mitigate those side effects. And were never designed to get to the root cause of ill health.

        They owned the banks and implemented the loan with interest agreements and sent that out around the world with their children, well versed on keeping the masses in dept.

        They bought armouries and provided both sides with the ammunition and weapons and in some cases put countries in dept to provide those arms.

        Wars are the perfect storm, and the reason they continue.

        And so on and so forth

  3. Malice.

    It’s always malice. Every single time.

    Ignorance is the excuse they feign to stop us hanging them from trees the way our forefathers used to.

  4. Interesting considerations. People in power could argue ignorance in their defence, but only for a limited period. If after say a few weeks you have not reflected, acted on red red flags (of which there were a lot early on and thousands by now) and revised your stance: stupid.
    And yes i agree; way more stupid people than I’d ever expected.
    Hanlon’s razor: do not attribute to malice which can adequately be explained by stupidity.

    • Plenty of the so called ignorant people were ready to tell you how stupid and selfish you were being, for not wearing a face diaper and not having an experimental medicine. Did they even investigate the counter argument from those people, who asked them to.

      If not, they were willfully ignorant, and stupid.
      Instead of investigating counter arguments they were scared into following the “experts” put forward promoting the lies, lest they be called a conspiracy theorist granny killer.

      Fear drove the ignorance – don’t do your own research, Jacinda and Ashley wouldn’t lie to you, would they.

      There was definately a fair bit of malice too. People didn’t want to be on the receiving end of character slurs and loss of liberties, so went along.

      The use of fear to control the people was massive, and that witch has the gall to talk about others using fear on their populations.

    • Respectfully, Hanlon’s razor got it horribly wrong. It should be the other way around IMO.

      Everything that’s happened to us over the past ten years has clearly been calculated and deliberate. In fact, malice isn’t even an appropriate word anymore, it’s more like full blown, unbridled rage.

      You can feel it in everything they do, every new scheme they announce, every crisis they create and every shiny new law they ram through. You sense it in all the new technology they’re practically giddy to force onto us, every fun convenient and useful new thing already primed to be turned against us as soon as we consent away just a few more of our rights.

      We all know it and feel it deep down inside, that Covid was just a test run, and that something bigger is coming, something lurking in the back of the cave just beyond the light. Just biding it’s time.

      I refuse to let those who serve it off the hook with, “oh they’re just harmless idiots…”

      I refuse to let my guard down ever again.

      Evil is here. The first step in overcoming any problem is acknowledging that it exists.

      • I would agree that in the WEF associated megalomaniacs there’s intrinsic evil. Most of their cronies seem to be useful idiots tho. You cannot get thousands of evil people to conspire, they’d be too selfish for that to work. Does not mean that useful idiots should be off the hook, i hope they all get their punishment.

  5. It was ignorance and stupidity motivated by malice, together with a lust for fame/fortune for many of the so called experts. Where are siouxsie and baker and planker nowadays?

    • If you’re malicious you’d go into banking, farmaceutics or politics, not science. These 3 “experts” are likely genuinely stupid, blinded by fear and the spotlight and unable to reflect.

  6. Jabcinda knew what she was doing for her globalist Bosses, WHEN WILL SHE AND ALL HER ACCOMPLICE’S BE ON TRIAL FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE…..bloody soon I hope.

  7. Even before covid Drs were raising the alarm of vaccine harms. Dr Andrew Moulden had studied this for many years.
    Like so many whistleblowers, he committed suicide weeks before a major presentation.

  8. No, no, no, please be aware that there is no harm whatsoever and make sure your children get their measles vaccine because there is an Out Break and you definitely don’t want them to have a fever, cough, rash, runny nose and challenge their immune system.

    Also make sure you get them the chicken pox vaccine so that later in life they can get the shingles vaccine

  9. IGNORANCE, STUPIDITY, OR MALICE?

    All three, please also add malfeasance, corruption and crimes against humanity to the list.

  10. All of the above….I came across people who were on a genuine power trip and were often quite resentful too but their rationale for their behaviour lacked logic……just shows you what people can become when they are given a little power and authority….

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