“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” (Charles Darwin)
I’ve been thinking about the Darwin Awards a lot lately. As you may know, they are bestowed annually (usually posthumously) on people who do something so unbelievably stupid that they remove themselves from future procreation, thus strengthening—even if only infinitesimally—the future of our species. Quoting the Awards:
“In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”
Examples of previous Darwin Award winners include the two Texans who lost their lives while trying to “shoot the gap” between the sides of an open drawbridge in southwestern Louisiana. Their 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, along with the bodies of these Blues Brothers wannabes, were recovered by Louisiana State Patrol from the deep waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Alcohol or drugs may have been a factor in the incident.
It is also possible to be a living recipient of a Darwin Award if one’s action resulted in permanent sterilization and thus prevented any chance of reproduction. These stories often involve a firearm unwisely stuffed into the waistband of one’s Levi’s. This one is worth reading if only for the magnificent puns it inspired.
If you’d like to get a preview of some possible 2020 recipients, tune into the Tulsa Trump rally this weekend and watch as humans deny and defy the advice of doctors, scientists, and statisticians by coming together unprotected in crowded, enclosed places. They will be the ones packed shoulder-to-shoulder, gut-to-gut, wearing red baseball caps on their heads and nothing on their faces. They will be maskless, gloveless, and abundantly clueless, as they yell, expectorate, and swear their fealty for a man who has absolutely no interest in their wellbeing.
The only value this mass of people has to Jabba the Trump is to temporarily feed his need for attention and his insatiable maw of an ego. They are disposable, as we will see soon after, when people begin getting sick and coronavirus infections spike among the Tulsa minions. That’s when the Trump cabal will disavow any connection to those Oklahoma good ol’ boys who fell ill. Losers, all of ‘em, right Donnie? Throw ‘em under the bus.
The folks in Tulsa don’t have a lock on the Darwin Awards. There are people all over the nation acting irresponsibly … and they’re durn proud of it. Unfortunately, they’re putting others at risk, including many who do believe in science and solid medical advice, and in taking precautions. Unfortunately, too often, the stupid take the smart along for the ride.
And, sadly, for that reason, many of these folks will exempt themselves from Award consideration because they will return home and infect innocent people who knew better than to participate in a clusterf#¢k. The rules are very clear that candidates are disqualified if “innocent bystanders,” who might have contributed positively to the gene pool, are also killed in the process.
As long as we’re talking about really stupid people, let’s not forget the man who has elevated stupid to a new level. The man who said of the COVID-19 Pandemic, “If we stopped testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.” There’s not a punchline for a comment like that, not when we see infection and death numbers climbing daily at obscene and largely preventable rates.
But those who take the President’s words as gospel now may claim to have evidence that tests are of no value. So, let’s not test that water for contaminants … or that bridge for structural soundness. Pregnancy tests? Forget ‘em, as long as you don’t test, you won’t get pregnant. Birth control solved. Surely that will earn him his long-sought Nobel Prize.
A quote often attributed to H. L. Mencken is: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” I used to smile at Mencken’s perspicacity and cynicism. Now I wince at the stark and terrible truth.
I’m sorry. If you came here today looking for a post about kindness, I’ve let you down.
Sometimes it feels like the kindest thing we can do is speak our truth.
“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” (Charles Darwin)