Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
Sturgeon’s Law states that “ninety percent of everything is crud”. This is certainly true in many fields, and I myself have invoked it in the context of blogging, but today I’m wondering, is this true also of human beings? Are 90% of us stupid? Like, really stupid? Consider this news story by Reuters in Istanbul:
Turkish police donned white coats and stethoscopes to disguise themselves as doctors, then knocked on people’s doors to see how easily they would fall for a confidence scam.
The undercover police officers told residents of the southeastern city of Gaziantep they were screening for high blood pressure and handed out pills, according to Turkish media.
They were alarmed when residents at 86 out of 100 households visited on Tuesday swallowed the pills immediately.
Apparently this was the actual modus operandi of a gang that got people to pop sedatives and then robbed them. But this isn’t all.
Officers in Adana in southern Turkey last week called at houses, announcing through the intercom: “I am a burglar, please open the door.”
Police said they were stunned at the number of people who opened the door, the Radikal daily newspaper reported.
Brings a certain Godrej commercial to mind, doesn’t it? But to get back to the question of general intelligence levels, just take a look sometime at comments left in any random Rediff article or YouTube video, and a depressing picture emerges. It’s the reverse of the Lake Wobegon Effect: Everyone appears stupider than average—which is, of course, not possible.
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