Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu Feb 11 08:38:56 PST 1999

Doug Henwood wrote:

> Michael Yates wrote:
> >Well, I must say that many colleagues are pretty stupid too. Perhaps
> >you are right, best not to think about it too much. And as Carrol said,
> >maybe retirement is the best bet.
> What I don't get is how there seems to be no "economic" impact from this
> pervasive indifference and ignorance. How does the most technologically
> advanced and organizationally complex economy in the world keep chugging
> along when staffed by these former undergrads? Is it that we need maybe 5%
> of the labor force to be sophisticated with the other 95% made up of loyal
> drones?

Though I have been struggling with this for about 30 years, I have never reached even a half-way decent formulation of what I think may be the core here. (I use to mock students in the margins for too many "may be's"). People are not stupid or intelligent *in general*: they are stupid or intelligent *within certain contexts*, and the same person will be incredibyly stupid in Context A, C, & G, run-of-the-mill in most of the rest, and an Einstein or a Marx in B and F.

Actually, in reference to command of information (memory) this is the basis for a fairly frequent joke in the comics. The sports fan who can't remember who is the Senator from his/her state but can remember the batting averages of 300 players from over a century, or the teenager who can't remember what President followed FDR but knows the names, band members, and discography (is that the word -- I'm stupid here) of 700 musical groups. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Whenever I've tried to develop this in any detail my efforts have degenerated into the equal stupidity of the rhetoric of "relevance" that misled activist students in the '60s.


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