Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Stupid Is As Stupid Does" Or Why Smart People Do Stupid Things

I've always wondered what makes some people think that the blatantly idiotic things they do in life won't, some day, come back to bite them in their butts. Acts of stupidity, as we are well aware of, are not always the exclusive realm of those with fewer brain cells; seemingly intelligent people are as apt to err in judgment as their lesser-brained brethren. These are the folk that have me puzzled, particularly those in positions of power.

You have the politicians and religious personalities who think their sexual dalliances will conveniently remain in the shadows forever; take Bill Clinton, Sen. Larry Craig, Pastor Ted Haggard, and a host of other public figures, who have been caught, figuratively and literally, with their pants down. Then you have people like Barack Obama who thinks a 20 year affiliation with an anti-American, racist Church will somehow remain unexposed along with his questionable affiliations with Antoin Rezko and William Ayers. Add corrupt politicians like Rep. William Jennings Jefferson (who was indicted on 16 charges of corruption), who obviously thought he could get away with taking bribes without any political or personal repercussions. And then you have people like Todd Davis, CEO of Lifelock, an ID prevention company, and idiot extraordinaire, who challenged criminals to steal his identity for 2 years, as proof that the service was worth the $10.00 per month fee. He even made it easy for them by publishing his social security number in a number of commercial TV ads, and guess what? They took him up on his offer. At least 87 times, and one happened to succeed:

Attorney David Paris said he found records of other people applying for or receiving driver's licenses at least 20 times using Davis' Social Security number, though some of the applications may have been rejected because data in them didn't match what the Social Security Administration had on file.

So now people are suing him, and rightfully so.

So you have a group of smart individuals, from politicians to CEOs, doing truly stupid things in varying degrees of significance, and you have to wonder why? What possessed them to do what they did? Perhaps they aren't as bright as one would imagine, after all, or they are arrogant enough to believe that because they happen to be in positions of power they are somehow more blessed and therefore infallible or, worse yet, entitled to their questionable acts of idiocy? Or do they believe the American people are so stupid or morally vacuous (and, sadly, too many are) to think that immoral or downright stupid behaviour is forgivable or matters not?

If so, they deserve what they get.


Karen said...

I heard that about the security guy yesterday and had the same thought. How stupid do you have to be, all in the name of product publicity. And, it made me think of when Gary Hart was running and challenged the press on rumors of his marital infidelity. He challenged the press to follow him and report on anything they saw that was suspicious if they didn't believe his lie that he was faithful to his wife. Well, they took him up on his challenge and photographed Donna Rice on his lap on the yacht in the Carribean. What a doofus. Such egos and arrogance. It's impossible to feel sorry for them.

Incognito said...

Hey Karen, Gary Hart really did that? Ha... what was he thinking? They wouldn't take him up on it? Absolutely, no sympathy here, they deserve what they get.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

I think we all are guilty of occasionally doing stupid things. Does intention count?? :)

Z said...

interesting point about 'intention', chris.....But, really, don't most of Incognito's examples have to do with CHARACTER? CAN you do something really vile if you have good character? I'm not saying anyone with good character can't do a stupid thing, but character motivates us, informs us, propels us, right?
WOuldn't we expect a Pastor, for example, to have had his business rub off enough on him that he COULDN'T be unfaithful to his wife, have an affair, steal, kill?
The LIFELOCK guy (i didn't know this happened till now!) was just STUPID. He hadn't done his homework enough; done enough to protect him or his clients who paid money because they believed in him and his product. But the others? CHARACTER.

Politicians ought to have enough to avoid scandal, too...I think they did. Once.

Incognito said...

PAN: I agree, we all do stupid things, but the point was how certain people seem to think that they shouldn't be held accountable for the stupid things they do. There's a difference between say unintentionally doing something stupid (which we all have) and intentionally doing something stupid, knowing we might get caught and thinking no-one will care. :-)

Z: I was talking more about character (at least for the politicians and preachers).. the Lifelock guy was just plain dumb for thinking no-one wouldn't steal his identity. Point is you don't brazenly do something stupid without thinking there will be consequences to those actions.

I think they might have, at one time, Z.. but not anymore.

Pat Jenkins said...

well said incog. their "karma" has caught up with them..... as long as people hold the power in this nation no one will be able to get away with corruption.... as long as the people hold the power!!!

Incognito said...

PATJ: Indeed.. :-) and thank God the people do..! That's what is so wonderful about democracy.