Bonhoeffer‘s Theory of Stupidity

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer’s Theory of Stupidity – Sprouts — Free Videos for Schools and Learning

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Bonhoeffer‘s Theory of Stupidity

  1. Eli the Pit Bull says:

    And it’s a shame how many democrats think these people care about them. They don’t. They are evil

  2. arn says:

    The biggest trick the devil ever pulled
    was masquerading evil as stupidity.

  3. Stuart Hamish says:

    ” Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons for it is senseless and dangerous ” ..

    . For whom was Bonhoeffer purporting to collectively ‘[ “will we try to persuade’ ] represent and are they in agreeance with him ?. How might an act of liberation transform or rather enlighten someone defined as a ‘stupid person ‘ ? …The Bonhoeffer Theory of Stupidity video presentation offers hope that ‘only an act of liberation – not instruction – can overcome stupidity ” which is at best speculative as there are gradations and varieties of ‘stupidity’ . Moreover , it can be a subjectively determined character trait as well as the result of acquired cognitive impairment or concerted indoctrination ..The theory as explained in the video is also categorically inconsistent as stupidity is variously described as not ” an intellectual defect but a moral one ” and then later “less a psychological than a ‘sociological’ problem

    • Vegieman says:

      Sodom and Gomorrah was a collective loss; not ten righteous. The solution was fire and brimstone.

    • arn says:

      Imo the ‘inconsistence’ is explained well in the video
      as moral stupidity is the state of the individual(solitude argument in the video)
      while the sociological is about group think.
      As even smart people who are very well aware of what’s going on use to go along with group think(wether they are intellectually lazy,ignorant or cowards afraid to lose reputation is irrelevant),
      therefore the sociological stupidity is the dominant thing.

      Or as Nietzsche said: “In individuals insanity is rare but in groups the norm”

      • Stuart Hamish says:

        Friedrich Nietzsche was a loner and as an individual he went insane

        • Ad hominem is not a valid argument.

          • Stuart Hamish says:

            Not an ad hominem attack on Nietzsche at all . I merely pointed out that the man Arn quoted went mad ..It must be emphasized Nietzsche’s philosophical argument is paradoxical as individuals constitute ‘groups ”

            This left me perplexed : ” Your answer does not add a thing to your original topic ”

            Followed by : ” considering your pretty good observation of a possible inconsistency ”

            Which is it Arn ?..Was my ‘good observation’ in your words a meaningful valued addition to the original topic [ not mine – Tony’s ] or was it a worthless addition ?

        • arn says:

          Your answer does not add a thing to your original topic.
          (Maybe my conclusion of Bonhoeffers hierarchy in terms of stupidity isn’t even right,considering that my English skills are on the level of a US President .
          But your response is not existent.
          Neither a counter argument nor an acknowledgment .
          Very dissapointing considering your pretty good observation of a possible inconsistency )

          But here are some things to get rid of your personal stupidity .

          1) the fact that someone is a loner does not make them immune to stupidities.
          In fact isolation,lack of socilaizing and no challenges towards the own opinion can drive people crazy and radicalize them.

          2) The fact that Nietzsche was crazy does not make his opinions better or worse.
          Either they are right or they are wrong.
          The intrensic quality of a statement has nothing to do with mental state of its originator.
          You must never confuse the message with the messanger.

          Especially not In the case of Nietzsche,as Nietzsche predicted the decline of your western civilizations almost 150 years ago
          when he said: God is Dead.
          And as result,once a society reaches a godless state,its (self)destruction is on the way and horrible things will happen.

          + Never forget Riskins quote :
          When you are 1 step ahead of the crowd you are a genius,
          when you are 2 steps ahead you are a crackpot.

          3) Nietzsche did not become crazy because he was a loner,but as result of an illness,i think it was an STD,that degenerated his brain.

          • GWS says:

            True, it was an illness. Syphilis, they say. Most loners do not go insane, but all societies exhibit varying degrees of insanity. Knot knowing what others are thinking leaves one guessing, so groups set up rules for safety assurances.

        • Conrad Ziefle says:

          From syphilis. Not sure if he was a loner, as he was the head of the philosophy department at Basal University, or whatever university is in Basal, I believe. In any case, I think stupidity matches up with mass hysteria, and the interesting, and I think attraction of it, is that all its minions not only hand over their rights, but also hand over all responsibility for their actions. The ultimate in mental laziness is to be held unaccountable for what you do.

    • GreyGeek says:

      Purport – ” appear to be or do something, especially falsely”
      Your choice of words deliberate suggests that Bonhoeffer was falsely representing himself as a Christian preacher of God’s Word. Is that what you are implying? Do you have information that can establish this postulate?

      He was a Lutheran priest. From Christianity Today:
      https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/martyrs/dietrich-bonhoeffer.html
      “Hitler’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions intensified—as did his opposition, which included the likes of theologian Karl Barth, pastor Martin Niemoller, and the young Bonhoeffer. Together with other pastors and theologians, they organized the Confessing Church, which announced publicly in its Barmen Declaration (1934) its allegiance first to Jesus Christ: “We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize yet other happenings and powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God. … “”

      Bonhoeffer was fighting against this:
      “The time is fulfilled for the German people of Hitler. It is because of Hitler that Christ, God the helper and redeemer, has become effective among us. … Hitler is the way of the Spirit and the will of God for the German people to enter the Church of Christ.” So spoke German pastor Hermann Gruner. Another pastor put it more succinctly: “Christ has come to us through Adolph Hitler.”

      Bonhoeffer could see in Hitler’s anti-Semitic attacks on German Jews (every despot needs a boogieman) that Hitler was evil and chose to fight him, even at the cost of his own life. He put is life where his mouth was.

      • Ann Inquirer says:

        I remember reading Bonhoeffer decades ago. One episode stands out to me even today. Using today’s language, in the begining of Nazi Germany, the powers in Germany used their positions and their control of institutions to cancel people who were not aligned with the Nazi view. Priests had to agree to the Nazi talking points in order for them to get or retain their jobs. They need not be active Nazis, but they had to agree to Nazi ideas. When I read what U of C students had to sign relative to COVID last year, I was reminded of what the Nazis did in the non-violent, peaceful beginnings of their take over of Germany.

        • Stuart Hamish says:

          ” I was reminded of what the Nazis did in the non -violent peaceful beginnings of their takeover of Germany ”

          Unless I missed the sarcasm , the ascension of the Nazis to power in Germany – if you mean the turbulent Weimar Republic years – was marked by terrible violence and never peaceful or ‘non violent” .. In fact the German Communists when they were not fighting street battles with the Nazi hooligans at times collaborated with them in paralyzing strikes and rallies and helped bring Hitler to power . This is one of Communisms dirty secrets. One day they were bitter enemies and the next they were ‘working peoples comrades ” depending on the orders from the KPD command and the Kremlin . The stands of Bonhoeffer and activists such as Sophie Scholl were too late ….I have posted this article here on several occasions : ” How Communists in Germany Allied With Nazis to Undermine Democracy ” https://warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/communists-allied-with-nazis.html

          Your Godwins fallacy comparison of the University of California’s Covid diktat to the rise of Nazi Germany is absurd moral equivalence

    • GreyGeek says:

      Purport – ” appear to be or do something, especially falsely”
      Your choice of words deliberately suggests that Bonhoeffer was falsely representing himself as a Christian preacher of God’s Word. Is that what you are implying? Do you have information that can establish this postulate?

      He was a Lutheran priest. From Christianity Today:
      https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/martyrs/dietrich-bonhoeffer.html
      “Hitler’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions intensified—as did his opposition, which included the likes of theologian Karl Barth, pastor Martin Niemoller, and the young Bonhoeffer. Together with other pastors and theologians, they organized the Confessing Church, which announced publicly in its Barmen Declaration (1934) its allegiance first to Jesus Christ: “We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize yet other happenings and powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God. … “”

      Bonhoeffer was fighting against this:
      “The time is fulfilled for the German people of Hitler. It is because of Hitler that Christ, God the helper and redeemer, has become effective among us. … Hitler is the way of the Spirit and the will of God for the German people to enter the Church of Christ.” So spoke German pastor Hermann Gruner. Another pastor put it more succinctly: “Christ has come to us through Adolph Hitler.”

      Bonhoeffer could see in Hitler’s anti-Semitic attacks on German Jews (every despot needs a boogieman) that Hitler was evil and chose to fight him, even at the cost of his own life. He put is life where his mouth was.

      • Stuart Hamish says:

        From the ‘Readers Digest Complete Wordfinder combined dictionary and thesaurus ” purport/ verb & noun : [1 ] profess ; be intended to seem …2[ often foll by that + clause] [ of a document or speech ] have as its meaning ; state .

        n/1. the ostensible meaning of something . 2 the sense or tenor [ of a document or statement ] v, 1 ‘ profess , pretend [ lay ] claim , make a pretense ‘

        I meant purportedly in the sense of ‘seemingly’ or ‘profess ‘…You, ‘GreyGeek’ attached the most negative definition available [ pretense ] for which you provided no citation : ” Your choice of words deliberately suggests Bonhoeffer was falsely representing himself as a Christian preacher of Gods Word . Is that what you were implying ? ” …

        Not the smartest guy are you Grey Geek .. Why would you ask the question ” Is that what you were implying “, when you convinced yourself of my ‘choice of words ”
        and must have certainly been aware of the various definitions with regard to ‘ purportedly ‘ ? Unless of course your reply was a tendentious moralizing smear. My query only pertained to whom Dietrich Bonhoeffer presumed to speak for [ “…. will we try to persuade “] not any notion of questionable fidelity to his Christian faith ….Now considering Bonhoeffer’s theory of moralistic stupidity you have rather vindicated his thesis haven’t you ?

      • Stuart Hamish says:

        Grey Geek : ” He was a Lutheran priest …….Bonhoeffer could see in Hitler’s anti Semitic attacks on German Jews …that Hitler was evil and chose to fight him , even at the cost of his own life ”

        It goes much deeper than that ‘Grey -Geek’ ..Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran tradition theologian and pastor and he was almost certainly tormented by guilt for this reason. At the risk of of being perceived as an armchair psychoanalyst what Bonhoeffer saw in Hitler was the Reverend Martin Luther himself – the founder of his own church ..This must have caused him great insecurity and anguish . Martin Luther you see was a hateful ,rabid German nationalist anti Semite, and a hero of Hitler’s who incited prejudice , pogroms and the burning of Jewish homes and places of worship in his writings and sermons . Kristallnacht and the Holocaust have their roots in the German creeds of Lutheranism and Marxism …[See attached links ]

        In a 1924 Berlin speech , Hitler praised Martin Luther as ” the greatest encouragement of my life ” Daphne Olsen wrote : ” It is impossible to assume that Luther did not have any influence on Hitler and his views for it cannot be mere coincidence that Hitler’s anti Jewish sentiment of the 1930’s and 1940’s mirrors that of Luther’s anti Semitism of the 1500’s ”

        Bonhoeffer’s Theory of Stupidity reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s widely criticized ‘Banality of Evil ” thesis What is of interest are the subconscious aversion and guilt loaded subtexts of their theses . Arendt herself was a lover and lifelong friend of the unrepentant Nazi academic and guru of postmodernism Martin Heidegger, whose persona she projected onto Eichmann [ This compelling argument is not new ] when he was on trial in Jerusalem for crimes against humanity ..Similarly , if the Lutheran theologian Bonhoeffer could subconsciously rationalize that Germans mesmerized by Hitler and Nazism were simply morally defective , gullible and ‘stupid’ he could minimize and exonerate the influence of Martin Luther and Lutheran anti Semitism on the atavistic Hitler .
        https://spartacus-educational.com/ExTEU27.htm https://youtube.com/watch?v=Um17_SWBUK4
        Self deception and deceitful propaganda can be as dangerous as stupidity

  4. GWS says:

    So many people would I send this to if it weren’t for the critical attacks I know I would receive.

    • Stuart Hamish says:

      Why not undertake a critical review of it first ?

    • Vegieman says:

      The rejection of ultimate moral authority is what left is. Truth will not be tolerated and will be attacked. At worst you will be crucified.

    • Michael Peinsipp says:

      So?
      You might actually bring to light what they are doing to society and themselves. Even one person is one saved from the Death if ignorance Sir.
      Mine was 38 yrs ago when I met my Wife.
      Now I am next to George Washington as a Libertarian Conservative.
      Live your Life to the fullest with only one restriction : Do no harm to any other Citizen.

    • Ann Inquirer says:

      Although they would not be correct, my circle of friends would say that it is the skeptics who are the stupid ones, not the alarmists.

  5. Daniel B says:

    Hey Tony, it’s been a while, and I hope you and Kirye and very well. As the “climate change” SCAM hasn’t been put out of its misery, I’ve been thinking that if we can only create a meme that gets the message across to the masses how PREPOSTEROUS their claim is, that the life giving TRACE gas is responsible for “climate change”, and here’s my attempt: https://i.imgur.com/of5Bslr.jpg

    • arn says:

      Nice visualization – yet far too small in scale(Just 214 molecules instead of 2500)
      to show the scale of co2 unimportance.

      • Daniel B says:

        Hey thanks. Each molecule / atom (Ar) represents 0.5% of the atmosphere, so I think that works pretty well, where as I mention on the graphic, on that scale, CO2 doesn’t even register, and thus has essentially ZERO impact on climate temperature trends. I’m not sure showing sufficient molecules so CO2 can seen would work as a meme, where I’d probably have to use my software engineering skills to create the image, as I’d be there forever in MS Paint 😉.

        As a matter of interest, indoor growers have found that a concentration of three time atmospheric, 0.12%, is the sweet spot for plant growth, which would still only represent 6/25 of a single molecule / atom pictured, i.e. NAFF ALL.

        • Conrad Ziefle says:

          I like it, except I agree that the scale is too small. You need it to be big enough to include at least one molecule of CO2, and make your argument much more simple. Start out with: This square represents air. Find the one molecule of CO2. Then say something about HO2 is immensely more heat absorbing and is much more numerous in the atmosphere. It outcompetes CO2 for radiation making CO2 almost insignificant. Which gas do you think actually controls the green house effect?
          Want to try to stop the oceans from outgasing HO2 molecules?
          Just some suggestions. But this is a great start. Making it a find Waldo thing for kids, too.

      • Timo, not that one says:

        I would like to see how it works with colour coding. Certainly would be easier to see the relative differences, especially if there is a CO2 in there on an expanded version.

    • Michael Peinsipp says:

      Daniel…FANTASTIC Suh!!!
      I have sent that to many who will send it to others. When people see a picture such as yours they think, finally, for themselves…why, how and what for!

    • Daniel B says:

      Here’s an slightly improved version where I’ve improved the wording (I also had too much Nitrogen 😉): https://i.imgur.com/UWNfp0W.jpg

  6. Russell Cook says:

    Many on our side might say the excessively stupid regurgitators of AGW talking points are hopeless, but — call me crazy — when I run across them in online comment sections, Facebook, etc, I challenge them to support their assertions and when they fail on that, I challenge them to ask why they fail, while also suggesting that they more they question their dear leaders’ unsupportable talking points, the closer they’ll come to ultimately emancipating themselves from a political ideology that demands unquestioned loyalty and in return only brings them misery, self-loathing, and hatred of others .

    • GWS says:

      NASA has become their august leader which no one is allowed to question. “I’m not a biologist,” becomes: only the experts know and my expert is superior to yours. The facts get buried in personality wars, beliefs, and interpretations. Dead end, usually.

      • Michael Peinsipp says:

        Non biologist here…Boys have penises, girls have vaginas.
        And trust me…I have been in trouble over girls since I was FOUR yrs old.
        Kindergarten pulled a girls hair (punished), 1st grade looked up girls’ dresses, and it continues to today!
        Women are the finest creation EVAH!
        happily married for 37 yrs…

  7. Peter Rollings says:

    How true Tony, you can’t fix stupid.

  8. Peter Carroll says:

    Brilliant!!!! That encapsulates the entire global warming/climate change, mindset and expression.

  9. D. Boss says:

    Sadly this theory appears to be the case in the mass formation psychosis that befalls western society as a whole. It also explains why the so called education system has been dumbing down several successive generations of young people. The purpose is twofold:

    1) stupid people are easier to fool into believing a false narrative and once the indoctrination is fully formed, it becomes almost impossible to change their minds with facts as in this theory of stupid people.

    2) once sufficiently made stupid, the mob becomes a dangerous tool for the elites who rule things – even populating the elite corps with stupid people too. Those seeking power over others can use this stupefied mob rule to control and tamp down dissent, instead of putting out jack booted govmnt enforcers…

    So the question is this: are there enough people not having been stupefied to keep us from complete ruin, or has this outright evil plan, in play for ~50+ years already succeeded (and collapse of western society is inevitable)?

  10. Michael Hevener says:

    History does repeat itself. Thank you for this eye opening video Tony.

  11. Matt says:

    I hesitate to think of most people as stupid. They have however succumbed to group-think, and their views are formed emotionally and without human-human interaction.

    While undoubtedly brilliant this guy might have mixed up cause and effect (see “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”)

    Many people (half the population?) are also uncomfortable with any type of confrontation, or even disagreement. When pressed, I find that many people hold ideas in their heads that contradict each other, but they speak in code so they don’t realize it

    Appreciate you Tony!

  12. So true. I saw this last year and god that was an eye-opener.

    Stupid people are dangerous!!

  13. Phil Inman says:

    I guess if a person is absorbed in day to day activities as usual while a soon coming destruction is gathering quickly likely to destroy everything that surrounds that person. And that person hears of coming calamity with reason even repeatedly and chooses to continue without interruption his routine and refuses to take prudent action that might alleviate likely suffering both of himself and others around him, Stupid fits, sort of. When speaking to these types however, Stupid doesn’t seem to be what is encountered. Stupid inferring firstly a mental incapacity. Mental incapacity is not what seems at the core. Now if stupidity is used more broadly to describe also the condition where a person is unwilling to know the truth or to perceive truth as truth or to do a little inquiry about a presented supposed truth where the self evident nature of this presented truth is/might even be honestly in question in his mind, especially where his/her own existence is in peril- well failure here just seems little to do with mental capacity at all. This seems more an action born out of a perfectly well understood, although seldom consciously understood, rebellion against Truth itself. Truth threatens an individuals choice to be a god unto himself. Inability to see truth is a condition placed on humans who choose not to see it. In the Bible it is called blindness. It must exist as it does to allow freewill to exist. There must be options to Truth. It is not so complicated. To equate blindness to stupidity is giving the blind a pass that they should not choose. Wisdom says, “all they that hate me love death” Pv 8:

    • Vegieman says:

      “This seems more an action born out of a perfectly well understood, although seldom consciously understood, rebellion against Truth itself. Truth threatens an individuals choice to be a god unto himself. Inability to see truth is a condition placed on humans who choose not to see it.”

      Exactly.

      “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” Romans 1:28

      “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” 2 Thessalonians 2:10,11

      “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2Cor 4:3,4

      The only hope: an external act of liberation (the grace of God granting repentance) followed by internal liberation (the grace of God granting salvation). Not as though the individual has no part. This life is full of opportunity (trials and tribulations) to cry out to God, and in that condition of a broken and contrite heart, he will not despise.

      “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” 2Cor 7:10

      “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

    • Stuart Hamish says:

      ” I guess if a person is absorbed in day to day activities while a soon coming destruction is gathering quickly likely to destroy everything that surrounds that person And that person hears of coming calamity with reason and chooses to continue without interruption his routine and refuses to take prudent action that might alleviate likely suffering of himself and those around him , Stupid fits, sort of ”

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer was warned that his moral stand against the Nazi regime would imperil his life and his family many times yet he stubbornly persisted …. His brother and several in laws were imprisoned and executed Then, ultimately, he died in a concentration camp shortly before the camp was liberated …. What are you suggesting with regard to Bonhoeffer Phil ?

      • Vegieman says:

        “To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man—not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

        I guess you could call him a fool for Christ.

        “. . . not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:” Paul

  14. Bobby Day G says:

    Clearly there are a number of well educated, intelligent, and informed people on this email thread. I consider myself an average Joe. A Christian and US patriot.

    Was Hitler intelligent or stupid? Did he use what intelligence and charisma he had to gain power and influence intelligent people to accept his vision of Germany to the point where these people began to ignore reason between good and evil? I believe, as I’m confident most would agree, he obviously did.

    It didn’t happen overnight but year by year chipping away at the moral fabric of a society. There is little question that his timing was right given the state of mind of Germany post WWI.

    Now here in the USA we have an empty suit President obviously being manipulating by others. Many believe it is a cabal lead by BHO. Maybe so? To me it’s not the rank in file citizens who follow the present administration but the uber wealthy that control the media, financial institutions, and large corporations. Some of these follow because they are either mindful of consequences, sycophants, or “stupid.” Whatever the case, if a leader, or his controllers, have a high level of governmental power and or influence over a population, there will be no shortage of intelligent people acting stupidly to benefit.

    We desperately need a good leader without hidden agendas but a fearless person who speaks the truth! Money corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that is what drives the mindset of evil people. Power and control over free men. Nothing new here. Take away God (morality) from a civilization and you destroy freedom. You cede God given freedom to a self serving government in its place. Those who do this or accept this are STUPID!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.