The Best Kept Secret Everyone Seems to Know – Part 1 of 2


Milo Bono

The Unanticipated Discovery

Spending nearly six months of 12-hour days sorting and evaluating over 200,000 words for inclusion in Promptoria software was a long and arduous process. It was also very educational and enlightening. By the end of our endeavor we must have contemplated every thought that can be expressed by a single word, the sum total of shared human experience.

Dictionaries are normally used to look up specific words to clarify definition, check proper spelling and pronunciation, or find thesaurus relationships between words. Instead we sought to analyze each and every word individually to determine their value in relation to the technique of Random Word Stimulation. Words that passed our selection criteria were then sorted into categories optimized for use in Promptoria’s various products. Following this unconventional course afforded us the opportunity to experience the English language from a unique perspective and we inadvertently discovered some interesting patterns that emerged along the way.

As we all know – many words have the same or similar meanings, and many words pertain to different facets of the same subject. It seems reasonable to conclude that subjects with the most words attributed to them must hold a respectively higher position of popularity in the hierarchy of human experience. Some subjects have a great many facets to consider, many nuances that reflect the inherent depth and breadth of human perception attributed to a subject.

The Secret is Out

With respect to the above I felt obliged to report we couldn’t help but notice one particular subject that came up with alarming frequency. In fact it came up so often we were forced to consider whether it warranted its own category (although ultimately we thought better of it). The majority of our categories were deliberately designed to be of a more generalized nature so we did not keep a detailed account of how many words were attributed to specific subjects. Nevertheless, looking back over this critical phase of our development cycle, the single most conspicuous subject that stood out head and shoulders above the rest, the subject with more words attributed to it than any other, the subject that we must assume is the best known and most widely recognized reality throughout the entire history of mankind, and as it happens the very subject that inspired this article, was – to put it bluntly – the stupidity of people.

There it is – the secret is out, and I realize just broaching this sensitive subject is committing figurative seppuku in light of the current prevailing culture of political correctness, but it had to be done. There is no escape from this uncomfortable truth, it’s right there in print, carved in stone yet well hidden within the pages of what should be the most unbiased source of information we have – the dictionary.

The Quest for Knowledge

Promptoria is founded on the concept of self-propelled learning by exploring the unknown in the quest for knowledge, and without exception, never to discard or shy away from whatever is discovered. In this particular case we were not searching in the usual sense, the discovery appeared by its own volition. How this came about is irrelevant. All that matters is that the discovery was made and a question is raised. Curiosity must be satisfied. Discovery of any kind behooves us to explore the subject further to ascertain the balance of truth and falsehood, and determine what value can be gleaned from the experience.

So the question is – How could stupidity become the most universally acknowledged attribute of mankind?

A curious question to say the least. After all, one need only point to the remarkable achievements of modern technology, the sensitivity in orchestrating the delicate intricacies of a great symphony or masterpiece of art, the awe inspiring constructs of architecture standing in testament to our ingenuity, intellect, and imagination. Viewed in context of the many works of genius produced by mankind, the question itself immediately raises its opposing question – How stupid could we be?

Popular Opinion

Normally our exploration would begin by utilizing Random Word Stimulation to incite the discovery of new perspectives from which to contemplate the issue. However, in this unusual situation we are dealing with a subject that is already well known – rather incredibly well known at that. In fact in this particular case it is the very popularity of the contention itself that is in question. Under the circumstances perhaps the best way to start would be to query mankind directly and thereby challenge the veracity of the contention from its source.

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To this end I began to make a point of revealing our unanticipated discovery to friends and acquaintances at social gatherings or casual meetings. For the sake of obtaining thorough and unbiased feedback from the largest possible cross section of people I made sure to broach the subject of our discovery with complete strangers at every opportunity.

What the People Say

As it turned out, their reaction was even more alarming than the contention itself. The response was consistent from everyone queried regardless of age, level of education, gender, profession, financial position, social stature or station in life, save only the odd rare exception.

Overall the response could be distilled into two distinct components:

1. By far the most startling revelation was that everyone was in complete agreement. Body language in this case was even more telling than verbal response. Each participant exhibited a characteristic medley of gestures. Predominate among these; it was the combination of a distant inward gaze focused in view of some inner vision, coupled with a gentle knowing smile, which signaled the unmistakable sign. I would never lay claim to psychic powers, and yet upon witnessing this classic reaction to my query I couldn’t help but feel some kind of vague spiritual empathy, as if for those brief few moments a faded window in my own mind appeared through which their inner thoughts were revealed. My vision, though blurred to detail, revealed crystal clear that each person was experiencing their own intimate associations to past events of their lives, lucid memories that bore the undeniable truth of the matter at hand.

2. It was also clear by what people said, and perhaps even more by what they didn’t say, that the thought never entered their minds to consider themselves in personal possession of this most eminent attribute of humanity.

We must conclude the result of our admittedly unscientific pole did indeed confirm that the contention in question was immediately recognized throughout the brotherhood of mankind. Stupidity would seem to have earned its renowned status, though we are still left to ponder the most elemental question that must be repeated until it can be resolved no further – WHY?

Strategy of Exploration

Would examining stupidity as a concept provide some insight? What better resource could we ask for than the very one that prompted this exploration in the first place – the dictionary.

Here’s the definition according to Webster’s – Stupidity:

1 : the quality or state of being stupid

2 : a stupid idea or act

Not very informative is it. Here we have a subject with more words related to it than any other, yet the only definitions of the word itself merely refer to its root form as if it has no tangible meaning at all. I won’t bother referencing the root form ‘Stupid’ since its definition is no more enlightening.

Search through the endless wealth of knowledge recorded throughout the history of mankind and you will find that definitive reference material pertaining to our subject is virtually non-existent. We are thus left completely on our own to continue the quest for answers. From here on we must rely exclusively on our skills of creative and critical thinking to blaze new paths of exploration and then employ decisive deductive reasoning to further our search of a final resolution.

The Journey Begins

Could stupidity be an organic phenomenon intrinsic to nature and born of the universe? Is it stupid how the sun radiates live endowing energy on our planet, how bees pollinate flowers to sustain new growth, or how rain falls to nourish the earth? Can any of the miraculous wonders of nature, even the very existence of mankind itself, be considered a manifestation of stupidity?

I think not (let’s hope not). No – stupidity would seem to be a concept created by, exclusive to, and firmly rooted in, the human mind. We can conclude therefore that stupidity is not absolute, rather it is a relative construct born of our own perception. Stupidity has no life of its own; it can only exist as a manifestation of mind entirely under the purview of the perceiver.

Everyone thought the Wright Brothers were imbued with boundless stupidity for pursuing the ridiculous notion that man could fly like a bird. History is full of similar examples were popular perceptions held by the many, evolve beyond measure from challenges imposed by a daring few.

One person’s perception of stupidity can often be another’s perception of potentially brilliant innovation. How can we account for these discrepancies of perception? Or more to the point – How can we learn to leverage our seemingly natural aptitude and propensity to recognize the former, so that we may cultivate and amplify our latent ability to recognize the latter?

The Paradox of Perception

Understanding human perception brings us to the somewhat esoteric subject of the human trait known as EGO. I will not belabor this discourse with an in-depth academic exploration into the Id, Ego, and Super-Ego, popularized by the Freudian structural model of the human psyche. Nor will I make any distinctions in reference to the ‘Male Ego’ (I’ve never even heard of a ‘Female Ego’).

Gender not withstanding, for the purpose of our discussion regarding the ego, it will suffice to say that we all have one, and in relatively equal measure. For the sake of brevity the next few sections will focus attention on the predominant aspects of ego germane to our subject.

Ego breeds the evils of prejudice. And since I brought up this immediately offensive and politically incorrect “hot-potato” of a word, an explanation of context is clearly in order.

Most people think of prejudice in terms of its common social stigma, perhaps most notably in the form of racial prejudice. But prejudice is by no means restricted to race. Prejudice has evolved throughout our cultural history to include such things as women, homosexuals bisexuals (pretty much any sexuals), people with disabilities, the poor, the rich, the old, the young, drunkards (a personal favorite), and the list goes on ad nauseum. Name any single thing in the known universe and there will likely be someone somewhere that holds prejudices for or against it.

The preceding paragraph pertained to prejudice in reference to things from the world outside the mind. But ego breeds another kind of prejudice, a yin to the yang as it were. Instead of pertaining to things outside the mind this type of prejudice is decidedly in favor of everything inside the mind. This incarnation of ego is characterized by an inflated sense of self worth and extreme self assuredness were one’s own thoughts and opinions reign supreme to the exclusion of all others.

It must be acknowledged this orientation of the ego does indeed pose some significant advantages. A mind that views the world strictly through the lens of a self-fabricated ego can move through that world with single mindedness of purpose, effortlessly brushing aside any considerations that could stand in the way of achieving its goals. But success thus derived does not come without cost. Also there is no guarantee an inflated sense of self will achieve great success, especially when said inflation consists more of air than of substance. The cost is the same regardless and one way or another the devil always collects his due. Those that suffer this affliction rarely find the strength of character to realize their plight or recognize its folly.

The concept of prejudice extends far beyond its contemporary connotations to political incorrectness (a type of prejudice in its own right). In the larger sense prejudice denotes the ego harboring a steadfast penchant to favor its own personal preferences. There is nothing wrong with preferences per se, we all have them, but it is not the acquisition of specific preferences that is at issue. The issue is how ego tends to dominate our thinking and how its prejudices severely narrow our field of view, crippling our capacity to fathom the alternatives that make up the full spectrum experience of life. Prejudice is the function of an ego that regards its own preferences, whatever they may be, as the ultimate benchmark by which all things are measured and judged.

Our Precious Gift of Creativity

Essentially ego is what we experience as our own self. The existence of ego in its purest elemental form may well be absolute, an intrinsic aspect of the human condition. But from birth the ego is subject to the forces of evolution, which means its development is ultimately self-determined and therefore relative to the individual.

Many would say it is precisely our ego that defines our individuality, something to be nurtured, cultivated, and refined. Promptoria on the other hand views ego as something to be restrained, minimized, and kept under constant observation and careful scrutiny.

Ego is an integral aspect of our psychology that colors our view of the world, and all too often determines how we interpret our life experiences. When under the control of self-awareness the ego can serve as a powerful ally. Constrained and restricted to its own devices the ego tends to obscure any truths that conflict with its personal preferences by fabricating convenient new truths that favor them.

Are we not better off utilizing our precious gift of creativity to discover the reality of authentic truth, instead of creating an artificial reality based on self-serving falsehoods?

The Challenge We Face

Cultivating the conscious awareness of our own ego so that we may understand how ego influences our thinking is actually a more difficult skill to master than one might expect. We must gain awareness that we humans are in reality a great deal more than what we appear to be.

There is no way to examine our own ego from within the ego itself. The only way to accomplish this prodigious feat is to find a new unbiased vantage point from which to view.

The Supreme Being

When we close our eyes, and thereby draw a curtain over the world outside the mind, we dwell in a space that at once seems localized inside of our head and yet, when viewed from inside, has no discernable boundaries. An infinite inner universe where we have the power and freedom to create whatever we wish. Absolutely nothing exists in this space except that which we ourselves manifest.

We all exist as the Supreme Being of this inner universe where the only limits of creation are those we impose on ourselves. Within this universe is the source of our true human nature where the ego is merely a superficial image that obscures the more profound reality.

It is within this universe we can find the mirror to see our own ego’s true reflection in realistic clarity. Only then can we bypass the ego’s normal filtering mechanisms and engage in sober contemplation of self from a new unbiased perspective.

Milo Bono is the founder and lead developer of Promptoria – Software for Innovation and Creativity.

Promptoria is dedicated to helping people amplify their natural creativity and critical thinking skills. Organic open-ended environments foster self-propelled learning by literally drawing new life experiences from the users mind without ever leaving the comfort, convenience , and security, of their own desktop.

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The Best Kept Secret Everyone Seems to Know – Part 1 of 2