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Project Abolish Stupidity & Increase Intelligence

by Frederick Mann


"Should the human race not be extinguished by a nuclear war it will degenerate into a flock of stupid, dumb creatures under the tyranny of dictators who rule them with the help of machines and electronic computers. This is no prophecy, just a nightmare." -- Max Born (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 1965)

Can we boldly proceed on the assumption that it's possible to escape the nightmare? Or is it already too late?

What if a small group of key people could remove certain stupidities from their minds, and they could develop the means to persuade others to do the same...

Quoted from THE ABOLITION OF STUPIDITY by Hagbard Celine (in The Illuminati Papers by Robert Anton Wilson):

Two eminently intelligent men, R. Buckminister Fuller and Werner Erhard, have proposed that we can and should abolish starvation by the end of this century.

This goal is rational, practical, and desirable; so it is naturally denounced as Utopian, fantastic, and absurd.

I wish to propose a similar goal, which is also rational, practical, and desirable, and which will also be denounced as Utopian, fantastic, and absurd.

I suggest a worldwide War against Stupidity.

Although the stupid will naturally resent this, I address my ideas here to those who are not totally stupid or who are not stupid all the time, i.e., those rare individuals who have occasional lucid moments.

The arguments for this Revolutionary Notion are as follows:

1. Although one sounds like a satirist to say it, this planet does seem to be controlled by and largely by persons who are not in all respects reasonable men and women. Voltaire, of course, may have been exaggerating when he said that the only way to understand the mathematical concept of infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity; but the situation is almost that bad. To mention just a few examples from my own lifetime: Hitler murdered six million Jews for "reasons" that were totally insane; Senator Joe McCarthy led a crazy witch-hunt against Communists which ruined many innocent people and never succeeded in uncovering one absolutely definitive real Communist; Anita Bryant [predecessed by Pat Buchanan] is currently waging a crusade right out of the thirteenth century against homosexuals; etc.

It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that millions of humans have been murdered in the course of such irrational scapegoating throughout history. Since each of us belongs to some minority or other, any of us might be one of the targets in the next witch-hunt, and if they burn us there will be nothing left to cryonically preserve.

Nor is stupidity the exclusive trait of the stupid; you do not need a "vocation" for it, as you do for the priesthood. It seems to be a contagious socio-semantic disturbance which afflicts all of us at one time or another. Notorious examples can be found in the lives of "the Great," such as Simon Newcombe (the astronomer who discovered Neptune) "proving" mathematically that heavier-than-air flight was impossible, the French Academy refusing to examine the evidence for meteorites in the eighteenth century, etc. (Some might include Einstein's continuous attempts to refute the random factor in quantum mechanics as another example of stupidity in a fine mind.)

More generally, as Thomas Kuhn has shown in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, an exact measurement of the extent of stupidity among the learned is provided by the fact that every scientific revolution seems to take a generation. As Kuhn documents extensively, this one-generation time-lag seems to be caused by the fact that elderly scientists hardly ever accept a new model, however good it is, and the revolution is only fully accomplished when a second generation, with less prejudice, examines both the new and the old models objectively and determines that the new model is more useful.

But if science, the paradigm of rationality, is infested with enough stupidity to cause this generalized one-generation lag, what can we say of politics, economics, and religion? Time-lags of thousands of years seem to be normal in those areas.

Indeed, it was chiefly by contemplating religious history that Voltaire was led to concluded that human stupidity approximated to the infinite. The study of politics is hardly more inspiring, and any examination of economic debate strongly suggests that the theologians of the Dark Ages are still among us, operating in a new department.

I do not wish to enlarge upon this topic, since it has already been amply discussed by Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain, among others. Let us just summarize the matter by saying that stupidity has murdered and imprisoned more geniuses, burned more books, slaughtered more populations, and blocked progress more effectively than any other force in history. It may be no exaggeration to say that stupidity has killed more people than all diseases known to medicine and psychiatry.

Various cures have been attempted, of course. Socrates thought he had found the cure in dialectic, Aristotle in logic, Bacon in experimental method, the eighteenth century in universal democracy and literacy, Freud in psychoanalysis, Korzybski in General Semantics, etc. Although all these inventions have been beneficial to some of us some of the time, they have not stopped the worldwide ravages of the plague, and they have not even abolished totally the occasional lapses into stupidity of their most accomplished practitioners (the present author emphatically included).

2. If intelligence could be increased, obviously solutions could be found more quickly to the various Doomsday scenarios presently threatening us.

(A) For instance, if each scientist working on the energy-resources problem could increase his or her intelligence by a factor of two, work that could otherwise require ten years could be accomplished in five.

(B) If human stupidity in general decreased, there would be less opposition to original thinking and to new approaches to our old problems.

(C) If stupidity decreased, less money would be wasted on vast organized imbecilities, such as the arms race, and more would be available for life-enhancing projects.

The same arguments apply to any other worthwhile goals: abolition of starvation and poverty, finding cures for cancer or schizophrenia, etc. There is nothing rationally desirable that cannot be achieved sooner if rationality itself increases. This is virtually a tautology, yet we seldom consider the corollary: Work to achieve higher intelligence is work to achieve all of our other goals.

... [illogical section deleted] ...

Like death and poverty, stupidity has been around so long that most people cannot imagine human life without it, but it is rapidly becoming obsolete. However many special-interest groups (politicians, clergy, advertisers, etc.) may profit from stupidity, humanity as a whole will profit more from its abolition. From here on, we should measure our progress toward our personal goals, and our contribution to humanity's world-round progress, in terms of how much smarter we have gotten in the last year, the last month, the last week, THE LAST HOUR.

Chapter 1 of Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner is titled "Crap Detecting." In this project I shall use the words "crap" and "stupidity" as more or less interchangeable. To the extent that we develop and improve our own personal crap detectors, we gain in our ability to abolish more and more of our own personal stupidities, thus increasing our intelligence.

My intention is to gather together a group of people who assist each other in abolishing stupidity and increasing intelligence. Maybe if each of us could spend some time every week, hopefully an hour or more, on abolishing our personal stupidities and helping others in the group do the same, we would make some significant progress toward greater intelligence.

One of the basic ideas of Project Abolish Stupidity & Increase Intelligence is to create an "environment" (which could be a forum) where interested individuals can assist each other to abolish some of their stupidities, thus increasing their intelligence.

An ongoing aspect of this project should be the continuing improvement of this project description.

Succeeding with Project Abolish Stupidity & Increase Intelligence may not be easy. Many people do not take kindly to some of what they think of as their "wisdom" being questioned.

Can You Increase Your Intelligence Outside This Project?

Yes. You could try one or more of the following:

Stupidity is Ubiquitous

My first contention is that there's a great deal of crap or stupidity in human minds.

"The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity." -- Voltaire

"Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

"The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." -- Harlan Ellison

"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life." -- Frank Zappa

"There are more fools in the world than there are people." -- Heinrich Heine

"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity." -- Robert Heinlein

Next issue: Why is there so much crap or stupidity in human minds?

Answer: There are two basic ways to obtain a living:

  1. Value creation (earn it - win/win relationships):
    1. Grow your own food and produce everything you need to survive yourself.
    2. Produce valuable products and/or services and trade them (respecting private property, voluntary association, and voluntary exchange).

  2. Value destruction (win/lose or lose/lose relationships):
    1. Steal what you need through overt robbery and/or covert burglary and/or fraud.
    2. Dupe victims (force crap or stupidity into their minds) so they'll pay you without requiring that you produce anything of value.
    3. Have someone else steal for you, and give you some of the proceeds. (E.g. by "voting" for the politician who promises the most "free" stuff.)
    4. "Borrow" money but never pay it back.
    5. Etc.

1. above could be called the "economic means to survival".
2. could be called "the political means to survival".

Politics as theft needs to be disguised and misrepresented as "necessary", "for the public/common good", "for the children", etc. The suckers' minds need to be overwhelmed with stupidities so they'll buy this crap. A good starting point for removing political stupidities from your mind is "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat.

"You have to have a sense of humor if you follow politics. Otherwise, the sheer fraudulence of it all will get you down." -- Thomas Sowell

In order to be rendered susceptible to political crap, young humans need to be forced into concentration campuses for dumbing them down, euphemistically called "schools." (One of the key policies of The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels is free, compulsory state education for all children.)

"Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education." -- Bertrand Russell

"The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda -- a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make 'good' citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens." -- H.L. Mencken

You can explore so-called "state education" further by reading the following books:

See also Education and Compulsory Schooling.

Playing Games in a Stupidity Box

This section was inspired by Jon Rappoport's second news item of March 16th, 2002, where he wrote:

"Consider planet Earth as a grand sociological experiment/game, in which individuals play out assigned roles. Now maybe you think such an idea is lunacy, and if so, just take all this as a metaphor... The net effect of all these roles interacting is a sum of zero... To be more specific, the net effect is an historical carpet of boom-bust, build-destruction. Civilizations rise and then they fall... This rise and fall is a box. Everything appears to happen inside the all-inclusive box."

The box is kept in place by certain stupidities. The walls of the box are invisible to most humans because of certain stupidities. Most humans are held captive in the box by certain stupidities. Most humans see many of the roles in the box as fixed "life-givens" or even "absolutes." To someone outside the box, many of the roles seem arbitrary and even silly -- no less so than the characters in Alice in Wonderland.

The following four paragraphs are quoted from How to Disagree and Question Everything:

Using the game of chess as an analogy may illustrate this. Chess is played on a board with pieces (pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queens, and kings) according to a set of rules. Principles have been formulated, which players can apply to improve their ability to play chess. Chess players have concepts in their minds related to the game of chess. They don't hold these concepts as fixed "life-givens," but as related to and useful for chess.

Now imagine a game of chess where the "pieces" are actual human beings, dressed as pawns, knights, etc. The human "pieces" don't consider themselves to be pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queens, and kings. They realize they're just part of a game and that they can step off the board at any time and stop participating. They don't hold any chess concepts or their roles in the game as fixed "life-givens."

Now consider people playing politics. The players believe that political notions/ concepts such as "country," "state," "government," "law," etc. are fixed "life-givens." They believe they are "citizens" (pawns?) or other classes of "pieces" who must play the game of politics and can't exit the game or unsubscribe from it.

They don't have the thinking skills to question and deconstruct the deep political concepts/ notions in their minds. In my experience, this applies to a large majority of humans. It's as if their thinking is locked into politics and political concepts/ notions as fixed "life-givens." They can't think about politics the way they think about chess. This also applies to practically all libertarians, anarchists, and other political critics.

Language as a Stupidity-Inducing Mechanism

Some linguists seem to think that language does NOT affect behavior. If you need convincing that language can have PROFOUND EFFECTS on thinking and behavior, I recommend the following:

Quote from Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner:

"In our own society, if one grows up in a language environment which includes and approves such a concept as 'white supremacy,' one can quite 'morally' engage in the process of murdering civil rights workers. Similarly, if one is living in a language environment where the term 'black power' crystallizes an ideological identity, one can engage, again quite 'morally,' in acts of violence against any non-black persons or their property. An insensitivity to the unconscious effects of our 'natural' metaphors condemns us to highly constricted perceptions of how things are and, therefore, to highly limited alternative modes of behavior."

Now consider the concepts "master" and "slave." Suppose I accept as valid the notions of "master" and "slave." Further, suppose that I consider myself a "slave" and someone else as "my master." Picture me as a "slave" working in a field with "my master" standing "over" me with a whip. The first thing to realize is that the "master"/"slave" conceptual structure enables the "master" to benefit economically from the "slave" in that the "slave" works for the "master" for little or no pay -- essentially the political means to survival.

The second thing to realize is that the "master"/"slave" conceptual structure is advantageous or beneficial to the person regarded as "master" and disadvantageous or harmful to the person regarded as "slave."

The third thing to realize is that a distinction can be made between "physical reality" and "consensus reality." By "physical reality" I refer to what actually exists and occurs. By "consensus reality" I mean what seems to exist and occur because people say so and agree with it. Physical reality is that there are two men, standing next to each other in a field. One is holding a whip. The other is working. Consensus reality is one is a "master," the other is a "slave," and the "master is standing "over" the "slave."

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not entirely absurd, indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." -- Bertrand Russell

The fourth thing to realize is that when people agree on consensus reality conceptual structures, and behave accordingly, the evidence often seems overwhelming that consensus reality equals physical reality. This phenomenon makes it very difficult for most people, in many instances, to tell the difference between consensus reality and physical reality.

From "Thinking Tools/Mental Models":

"2/12/1: Man is nowhere more foolish than when he confuses the contents of his consciousness for the truth, for reality, for what actually is. That is most true where the confusion is between the contents of his consciousness and all that actually is: most dangerous when his confusion has the support of his cultural group.

Even greater danger comes from the common situation of some men substituting the first for the second, milking the confusion. The first situation is an honest confusion; the second is loaded dice."

Human languages literally contain thousands of words designed by old-style "masters" and modern-day "politicians," "bureaucrats," "lawyers," "bankers," etc. that are effectively used to disguise, inflict, and perpetuate the political means to survival. These words are designed to effectively position some people as "masters" and others as "slaves."

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that is all."

- Lewis Carroll

In probably all human languages there are thousands of stupid words/concepts. Intelligent words/concepts are the major building blocks of intelligence. Stupid words/concepts are some of the building blocks of stupidity. (There are others, such as fallacious thinking patterns.)

As long as people hold stupid words/concepts as valid, and think in terms of them, they will think some stupid thoughts, and perform some stupid actions. Obvious examples: "white supremacy," "black power," "jihad" (as "holy war"), "fatwa" (as "holy order"), etc., ad infinitum.

"Out of one foolish word may start a thousand daggers." -- Jeremy Bentham

"Those who believe in absurdities will commit atrocities." -- Voltaire

However, there are thousands of nonobvious stupid words/concepts. Most people use these words/concepts with no idea how stupid and destructive they can be. Revealing them at this point would be premature and likely to drive away potential stupidity abolishers.

"No man likes to have his intelligence or good faith questioned, especially if he has doubts about it himself." -- Henry Brooks Adams

"Wars are not fought for territory, but for words... Man's deadliest weapon is language. He is as susceptible to being hypnotized by slogans as he is to infectious diseases." -- Arthur Koestler (Janus: A Summing Up)

"The words of Adolph Hitler were more effective agents of destruction than thermonuclear bombs. ...[T]he fervent words of the prophet Mohammed released an emotive chain-reaction, whose blas shook the world from Central Asia to the Atlantic coast... Language is the main source of our superiority over brother animal -- and, in view of its explosive potentials, the main threat to our survival... Thus language appears to be one of the main reasons, perhaps the main reason, why the disruptive forces have always been stronger than the cohesive forces in our species." -- Arthur Koestler (The Heel of Achilles)

"It's easy to see why humans are willing to fight to the death to defend the memes that constitute their belief systems. To allow a faith or ideology to be overthrown would be to abandon a massive neural fabric into which you've invested an entire life, a network that cannot easily be replaced, perhaps that cannot be replaced at all." -- Howard Bloom (The Lucifer Principle)

See #TL07A: The Anatomy of Slavespeak.

Levels of Stupidities

For operational purposes, stupidities can be divided into three levels:

  1. Surface stupidities;
  2. Medium stupidities;
  3. Deep stupidities.

Surface stupidities are relatively easily spotted and abolished by most, e.g., "white supremacy." Medium stupidities are not so easily identified and abolished, e.g., concepts used by bankers to practice the political means to survival at the expense of their victims. Deep stupidities are very difficult for the vast majority to recognize and abolish.

The same stupidity can be surface, medium, or deep in relation to a particular individual, depending on how easy or difficult it is for him or her to spot and abolish it.

The "deep" in "deep stupidity" was inspired by Dr. Max More's article on "Deep Anarchy" (writing as Max T. O'Connor).

Because the minds of practically all humans are so deeply and pervasively infected with political stupidities that are part of their language and culture, many are highly gullible and it's very easy for politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, bankers, etc. to practice the political means to survival with impunity.

"In politics stupidity is not a handicap." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

See #TL07B: The Nature of Government and #TL15A: The Good and the Bad.

Selected Individuals with Websites Who Have Abolished Deep Stupidities

Types of Learning

To abolish stupidity, we may need to learn certain things; we may need augmented learning skills. We may also need to unlearn certain stupidities we've learned; we may need augmented unlearning skills. Here's a list of more books relevant to learning and unlearning:

"Rote learning" or "parrot learning" involves memorizing facts and opinions of others so you can regurgitate them.

"Integrated learning" involves examining facts, theories, and opinions, and forming your own conclusions.

"Unlearning" involves discarding idiot concepts, stupid beliefs, bad habits, and other crap you "learned" in the past.

Thinking Critically and Intelligently

You may be able to improve your crap detecting by studying one or more of the following books:

The good news is that a great deal has been written about stupidity and intelligence, bad thinking and good thinking. The bad news is one or more of the following:

  1. Not one of the authors mentioned here has a crap detector penetrating enough to expose the deepest stupidities.
  2. If any of them has a sufficiently penetrating crap detector to reach the deepest stupidities, they keep quiet about the deep crap because they fear being denounced as insane by the "crap-happy public."
  3. If they do expose some very deep crap, the vast majority of their readers gloss over it without noticing.

In my opinion, the three greatest crap detectors are Max Stirner, Friedrich Nietzsche, and George Gurdjieff.

"To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world." -- George Gurdjieff (Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson)

Stupidity-Protection/Crap-Defense Mode

Some people come to value some of their stupidities (particularly their deep crap) above their survival -- kamikaze pilots, suicide bombers.

"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought... crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity." -- George Orwell

It is likely that some who get involved with this project will become defensive, angry, upset, etc. when some of their crap is challenged. It's very likely that, to a greater or lesser extent, we all value some of our stupidities (particularly the deep crap). Some people are likely to depart rather than recognize some of their stupidities. It may not be easy to admit to yourself that you've been duped all your life about certain things.

"Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others." -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." -- Joshua Reynolds

Part of the challenge is that some people identify themselves or their egos with some of the contents of their minds. If someone indicates that something in their mind might be questionable, they may interpret this as a personal attack and get defensive, angry, upset, etc.

It's very important to realize that the contention that you might have something stupid in your mind does not imply that you are stupid. Steve Allen's Rule #71 in "Dumbth" is "Don't equate your ideas with yourself." You could be more brilliant than Einstein, and still harbor a thousand deep stupidities in your mind!

Stupidity-Abolition Mode

Hopefully, some of us will be able to stay the course with a willingness to confront and abolish all the stupidities pointed out to us.

The willingness and ability to QUESTION EVERYTHING is the key -- as expressed by the Gurdjieff quote above.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." -- Albert Einstein

See also "Power X," -- right-hand column, reading from, "The second July 2 entry includes a most important phrase: "...trapped by their language, and logic...""

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." -- Henry D. Thoreau

Surface stupidities are like leaves. Medium stupidities like branches. Deep stupidities like roots, hidden under the ground.

In his book The Myth of the State, Ernst Cassirer uses the term "primeval stupidity" ("Urdummheit" in German). I've compiled a report, based on extracts from The Myth of the State and An Essay on Man (also by Cassirer), that may provide further insights to understanding and abolishing deep stupidities. See #TL071: ERNST CASSIRER AND "PRIMEVAL STUPIDITY.".

Discussions About Deep Stupidities

During the past few years I've engaged in several email discussions related to deep stupidities, including with Richard Brodie (author of Virus of the Mind), John de Rock, Samuel Edward Konkin III (libertarian author, historian, and publisher), Steve Nichols (psychologist and philosopher), and J. Neil Shulman (libertarian author, journalist, and publisher). See:

Human Biological/Genetic/Cellular Stupidity

Illnesses, diseases, and even the aging process can be metaphorically regarded as kinds of "biological stupidities."

Can we think of the bristle cone pine tree that lives 5,000 years as "biologically more intelligent" than a human who lives only 100 years?

In any case, we can think of the various aspects of the human aging process as biological, genetic, and/or cellular "stupidities." The more of these "stupidities" we can abolish, the longer we may be able to live.

Preliminary Classification or Taxonomy of Stupidities

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