The History of Idiocy

I know what you’re thinking when you read the title of this essay: How can this guy tackle a topic as large as the history of idiocy in 600 words? Though the history of idiocy is long and detailed, it can be effectively summed up in a few major points.

Idiocy is as old as human thought, or, lack of thought. It has its roots in the first caveman who decided it was smarter to run toward tigers, rather than hide from them and eventually move the clan away from them. It has its roots in the first Homo Sapiens that decided if a jump from a four foot ledge was fun, then a leap from a forty foot cliff would be ten times the fun.

The main cause of idiocy is what is scientifically referred to as the “idiot gene.” I know what you’re thinking: if humans with the idiot gene tend to be self-exterminating, why hasn’t the gene evolved away? Why does it still exist? The answer is because it is a biological entity that every human possesses, a recessed gene that is activated by certain circumstances, such as consuming alcohol, trying to impress clan members, or the hormone boost by being in the presence of anyone of the opposite sex.

Consider the Trojan horse. After ten years of fruitless besieging of the city, the enemy drops off a giant wooden animal, then sails away. Someone in Troy decided, “Hey! Those Greek losers dropped off a trophy symbolizing our victory over them. Wheel ‘er in!” While a more sane person would be suspicious – Why are our enemies giving us a gift? What’s up with the statue that looks like it was nailed together in fifteen minutes and obviously will not last more than a week? Why is that big door on it? – the decider’s idiot gene triggered, likely by the need to impress his fellow countrymen or the girl standing near the fountain in the tight-fitting tunic.

Likewise with the split of the Roman Empire. After Julius Caesar, arguably the Empire’s most popular emperor, is ruled to be emperor in perpetuity, a group of senators decide to assassinate him, sealing the empire’s future fate to split and be ruled by murderous despots. Apparently these senators’ idiot genes kicked in, trying to out-impress each other or the girl near the fountain in the tight-fitting tunic.

By the time of Napoleon’s second ascendancy, he had become one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history. He had secured the First Empire under France. Europe was ready for peace. So why Waterloo? Napoleon’s idiot gene awoke as he tried to impress his country and peers, or the girl near the fountain in the tight-fitting robe.

Why would anyone tempt fate by calling the Titanic “unsinkable?” The man’s idiot gene fired while trying to impress his fellow sea voyagers or the girl near the fountain in the tight-fitting cocktail dress.

Edsel? Idiot gene. New Coke? Idiot gene. Milli Vanilli? Vanilla Ice? You already know.

Man has achieved numerous historical milestones: the Enlightenment, Calculus, scientific method, landing a person on the moon. These were all possible because they were done for selfless reasons: personal achievement, advancement of human knowledge, the good of society. The idiot gene never took over.

Meanwhile, the idiot gene thrives during food eating contests, choking games, skywalking, and so on, anywhere there is a person trying to impress his peers or the good-looking person standing near the fountain in the tight fitting clothes.