You have heard me say it before: “I am constantly amazed at the stupidity of people,” and I am saying it yet again. It seems as if stupidity in one form or another will pop up daily and often it’s recorded in newspapers or aired on television news or broadcasts that lack depth, but want to attract an audience. One such show on the National Geographic channel is the Science of Stupid and it explores how mishaps and embarrassing accidents occur. They refer to the victims of thoughtless acts as “amateur scientists,” but in most cases they are individuals who do not think matters through or consider the consequences of their actions.
The show’s website states: “On the Science of Stupid, some self-selecting, amateur scientists go head-to-head for the crowned title of most ill-informed as they test scientific principles like torque, gravity, and Newton’s laws. As our amateur scientists have learned the hard way: try and break the laws of science, and the laws will break you. It’s the science of stupid.”
It is entertaining viewing for a while, but it gets old relatively fast as people perform brainless acts and suffer the consequences of their actions. However, being afflicted by stupidity is not limited to people with low IQ. Heck no, it also abounds in individuals with a high level of education and even strikes government officials and bureaucrats. In truth, no one is immune from it if the conditions are correct. Intelligence can definitely be a factor when stupid acts are performed, but more often it is a lack of forethought or a desire to impress others that is the main motivating factor.
I was reminded of that when reading about a neuroscientist Emmy Byrne, who claims swearing is healthy. The scientist has conducted studies that she believes prove that swearing helps a person endure adversity. Byrne says cussing appears to help individuals suffer longer when facing adversity. However, I believe such action is simply a distraction and any verbal outburst or act that diverts a person’s attention away from a painful situation will have the same effect.
The neuroscientist believes swearing can reduce stress (even in a work environment), relieve pain, help stroke victims improve and even improve an athlete’s performance. “It can be therapeutic, especially for those with impairments – swearing may be the only language they have left . . .”
It comes as no surprise that Byrne freely admits she has a foul mouth. It’s also no surprise that the neuroscientist was able to refrain from swearing while she was being interviewed on the BBC. After all, using profanity is truly a matter of choice and unfortunately too many people choose to use it in public venues. As a result, our airwaves are audibly fouled and polluted by words and language that have very negative meanings or connotations.
Regarding publicity and the BBC interview, Byrne said, “So one of the deals I made with the producer was that I would keep my language clean.” In the newspaper story she elaborated further on her personal behaviour by telling the reporter about the birth of her 18-month-old daughter. “I was very surprised that I didn’t swear at all – and I was expecting to.” Could it be the miracle of birth and the joy of seeing a new life enter this world left her speechless, at least when it came to expressing negative words and emotions?
Occasionally something bad pops out of my mouth and that goes back to my upbringing, a decision I made as a teen to swear and a lack of control as an adult. Granted, I had a few role models to follow when young, including an uncle who is infamous for his tirades and profanity. He is also quite a storyteller and proceeded to weave profanity into his tales in the most creative ways.
It may be wishful thinking on behalf of the neuroscientist, but Byrne claims women now swear as much as men. If true, that definitely puts our society in a sad state of affairs since women have traditionally been nurturing, empathetic caregivers at home (not foul-mouthed individuals who react with venomous words). When I was young, it was uncommon to hear an adult woman swear, especially when it came to using the f-bomb. It was equally uncommon and troubling to hear a child swear. Sadly, that is no longer the case – just hang around a group of kids for a while or go to a hotly contested sports event and listen carefully to the comments that are made.
I have worked with people (mostly guys) who often used the f-bomb. In fact, some would use it several times in a single sentence as if they were trying to impress or out-perform their workmates. If only they could understand how truly stupid a person sounds when grossly overusing a word – any word.
However, far more disturbing is the mindset of public watchdog agencies such as the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. The council recently responded to several complaints of the f-word being used on airwaves in Quebec and said the profanity does not have the same vulgar meaning when aired in French as it does in English. Therefore, the council’s code of ethics had not been breached.
It’s not fair to say that was an incredibly stupid decision, but it certainly was far removed from anything intelligent in my opinion. Stupidity is gaining speed and growing in popularity these days and there is no end in sight.