Why are there so many idiots?

The greatest of all sins is stupidity

Is it the fascination with the forces of nature? Or the feeling that one needs to beat those forces. Or a sense that ‘it’s just a bit of wind/rain/water’? Or the general question: what’s the worst that can happen?

Whatever the reason, this past weekend’s Storm Ciara has thrown up the usual share of compete idiots who put themselves and others in danger, just because, well, just because.

Maybe it’s the same thing as that instance when the waiter in a restaurant tells you to be careful because the plate is hot, yet one still feels the overwhelming need to touch said plate, just to check. Why do we do that? Do we think the waiter is lying? The rational part of my brain tells me that, if the waiter has told me the plate on which my hot food is served is hot, then of course it is hot. But the part of my brain that’s still 12 years old always feels the need to check.


So maybe this is the reason why so many people this weekend have been caught on camera ‘just checking’ that the waves and the wind and the weather really were as amazing (and dangerous) as the news told them.




Actually, that last one is from last year’s Storm Desmond, but it comes to the same thing: they are all idiots. Not only are they playing fast and furious with their own lives but they are also endangering those who have to go and rescue them. In many cases – certainly the Hastings lifeboat one – these people are volunteers. As are many of the 22-strong mountain rescue team who had to go out to rescue the people who took it upon themselves to climb Ben Nevis in trainers.

Why? Is it Darwinism in action? Not so much survival of the fittest as survival of the least stupid?




About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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