How Stupidity Is Manufactured

Yes, manufactured. It’s done all day, every day, and especially in the most advanced parts of the world. And I can prove it to you.

Please look at this diagram and tell me which of the lines on the right side, A, B, or C, is the same length as the line on the left.


That isn’t too hard, is it? A is obviously shorter and B is obviously longer. The answer is C.

This diagram was part of an experiment run back in 1951 by a psychologist named Solomon Asch. And as you might expect, when people were asked to identify the same-length line in a neutral setting, more than 99% did it correctly.

But then, Asch had the study participants surrounded by actors who maintained that either A or B was the same length and that C was not. In other words, the participants were intimidated into conforming to what they knew was wrong.

With such intimidation, 75% of the participants said (at least some of the time) that C was not the same length as the line on the left.

In other words, three quarters of these normal people could be made to act very stupidly. No force was involved and no threats were involved, just the intimidation that comes from conformity pressures… the fear of standing alone.

It turns out then that stupidity can be manufactured and that it can be manufactured very efficiently. 75% is a serious supermajority.

Is This Being Done to Us?

Of course it is.

What, after all, are news channels, if not fear delivery systems? What’s the purpose of political advertisements, if not to compel us to fear the opponent? And how many advertisements don’t include some level of apprehension over what would happen without the advertised product?

Fear, you see, is an excellent business, functioning on an inherent human weakness:

Fear makes us stupid.

Fear is a mind hack.

Fear works.

These are not overstated. Humans of our time are messed up in this way, and so long as we fail to deal with it, we’ll remain suckers to an army of fear merchants. For life.

“I’m Not an Addict…”

Most of us in the West are pretty well addicted to fear. We turn on Fear TV or Fear Radio to “stay up on events.” Or we check Internet feeds that provide the same fears in slightly more modern packaging.

And why do we do these things? To show that we’re vibrant and engaged of course. Otherwise, what would we have to talk about at the cocktail party or the coffee shop? This is more or less the same as teenagers who become cigarette smokers (nicotine addicts) to show that they’re part of the cool group.

We do these things because everyone else does them, because we’re told to do them, and because we don’t know what else to do.

And yet, fear damages us, deeply and continually. Here are Napoleon Hill’s list of fear’s effects, from Think and Grow Rich:

[It] paralyzes the faculty of reason, destroys the faculty of imagination, kills off self-reliance, undermines enthusiasm, discourages initiative, leads to uncertainty of purpose, encourages procrastination, wipes out enthusiasm and makes self-control an impossibility. It takes the charm from one’s personality, destroys the possibility of accurate thinking, diverts concentration of effort, it masters persistence, turns will-power into nothingness, destroys ambition, beclouds the memory and invites failure in every conceivable form…

Why would we want to suck that into our lives? And if it hurts us… and yet if we can’t stop… doesn’t that sound a lot like addiction?

“But I’ll Be Bored”

No, you’ll detox.

And what will you do if you unplug from the fear screen?

You’ll take your child or grandchild to the park.

You’ll read a good book.

You’ll tend a garden.

You’ll help an aged neighbor.

You’ll learn (or teach!) a productive skill, such as welding or crypto mining.

And so on, ad infinitum.

In other words, you’ll directly improve the world, rather than authorizing political fear sellers to do it for you. (Which they never really do.)

In short, you would stop worrying and start doing… something that would dethrone the fear sellers while actually improving our world. And by the way, you’d increase your effective intelligence at the same time.

Just say no.

* * * * *


The 20th century, for better or worse, is over. This book was written from the trenches of the new data wars. It offers a raw, apolitical view of what is happening and where the practice of intelligence is headed.

Comments from readers:

“Be warned; this book is not rainbows and butterflies. This book is a hard look at a future that can be avoided only through vigilance and dedication. At only 55 pages, I read it in one sitting and agree with every word. If I had the resources I would buy hundreds of these books and distribute them to people freely.”

“Right on the money. What’s described so aptly in this book is happening now and it’s only going to get worse.”

“A must read for everyone. As terrifying as The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you have a glimpse of the whole picture of history and where we can head (or are heading) as a civilization, you should come away from this read with new insights.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

3 thoughts on “How Stupidity Is Manufactured”

  1. It also atrophies your ability to stand up, when you habitually and willingly lie down:
    “In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.” ~ Theodore Dalrymple

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