Thursday, March 4, 2004

Completely Hypothetical People

Memo to an entirely hypothetical subset of humanity: YOU ARE DUMB.
We here at You Are Dumb Dot Net like to think of what we do as educational outreach. Of a sort. And most of that educational outreach comes in the form of How To Spot The Dumb (From Quite A Long Way Away). So today, let us examine in more detail the Poking The Nest technique for spotting the dumb.
Poking The Nest is a good way to ferret out the dumbest members of a particular large group of people. It's kind of an informal survey, in which you give a large group of people an identical simple task to perform. Ideally, that simple task should not seem in any way to be a competency test, but should instead be disguised in some way to make it seem like part of the test subjects' normal routine. Then, all you do is sit back and watch the results pour in.
These results traditionally break down into some identifiable subgroups:
The Correct Response: Subject performs the task correctly, reading and following all directions and responding with the correct information. This is, unsurprisingly, rare.
The Nearly Correct Response: The subject has gotten the general gist of the task, and has responded with mostly correct information, however, some portion of the response is incorrect due to a typographical error or other understandable cause.
Individuals in the above two groups are classified as Potentially Not Dumb. 
The Conceptually Flawed Response: These people read and follow the directions, but misinterpret one crucial portion of them and respond broadly with incorrect information as a result. For example, if you were to request an alphabetical list of all fifty state capitals, and you received an alphabetical list of all fifty states, this person would qualify as Conceptually Flawed.
Individuals in the Conceptually Flawed Response group are classified as Potentially Dumb, and should be watched closely.
The Ignorant Response: These are the people who omit one crucial part of the instructions. In the example above, the Ignorant Response group would send you a non-alphabetized list of all fifty state capitals.
The Willfully Ignorant Response: Same as above, except the person clearly did it on purpose, because they couldn't be bothered. This is not always easy to distinguish from the Ignorant Response, but that's OK, as both groups should be regarded as Dumb anyway, because for all practical intents and purposes, the difference between "dumb" and "perfectly willing to appear dumb to avoid effort" are equivalent.
The Stupid Fucks: These are individuals who completely fail to grasp the simple task. If you ask these people to provide you with an alphabetized list of 50 states, they will send you a list of 20 cities in a completely random order.
The Belligerent Stupid Fucks: These are people who completely fail to grasp the simple task, interpret it as a completely different task, take offense at being asked to perform this misinterpretation, and respond aggressively with queries as to why you need a list of the top thousand metropolitan areas in the country sorted by population, and why you are bothering them when you could go buy an almanac or something.
The Self-Aware Stupid Fucks: These are people who are able to grasp that they are NOT able to grasp what you have sent them, and send you questions that require you to repeat the directions you already gave them. Upon receiving your answers, these people will generally climb between three and five spaces on the list, but will never ever achieve a Correct Response.
The Hopelessly Stupid Fucks: HSF's are individuals whose first, second, and possibly third attempt to complete the simple task fall into any of the other Stupid Fuck categories. For example, if they ask for clarification, and respond belligerently; or if they get everything wrong, then ask you for clarification, they are Hopelessly Stupid Fucks.
Anyone in the Stupid Fuck category should be treated with as much scorn and derision as is permitted by your social/professional situation. HSF's, by their nature, are also subject to semi-public ridicule by having their stupidity exposed and shared with your peer group.
We hope you've enjoyed this purely theoretical treatise on how to identify and weed out the dumb people in your medium-to-large organizational structure.