Monday, April 18, 2016

Stulticide, an Underfable


          Once upon a time, two Military Researchers turned on their newly-invented Adeledicnandar Emitter. One of them fainted, the other one was fine. Later, their bosses noticed the difference; the stupid one lost consciousness. The machine was on at low power for a short time, thus the dummy survived; but the military applications of the machine were obvious. A Stupidity Killer!
          The project got stamped Top Secret; technicians, gigabux, theoreticians, bureaucrat, contractors and generals converged. Some of them wrote out elaborate fantasies of guilt-free megadeaths. All agreed that only their inferiors will be at risk; that is, the poor, and the dark-skinned, and the weirdoes, and women and children. The generals said, what a shame, but national security demands sacrifices.
          As the Gizmo took shape, word got out, and protestors gathered at the test site. So did reporters and congressmen. Amidst all the commotion, one of the protestors sneaked in and switched the thing on. Low power, on a short timer, he was in fact no fool, so he was all right, and it quickly switched off. But every single one of the Command Staff present lost consciousness. So did the reporters and the congressmen and most of the protesters and technicians.
          But not everybody fainted. The star reporter blacked out, but the cameramen were still on the job, and one of them haltingly reported to the nation what just happened. The generals were hard hit, but the privates mostly unaffected. A nearby suburb was devastated, but the ghetto and the barrio nearby were unaffected. Colleges were silent, while elementary schools swarmed with unsupervised kids. A televangelist was found unconscious in a motel room; his female companion had already left, with the contents of his wallet.
          Afterwards the National Security Advisor to the President read the secret report. First of all, it’s a good thing that the damn thing was on low power for a short time, or we’d need a new JCS. Second, the effect is unpredictable; overall immunity rate is about 10%, distributed unevenly. Third, the immune find the experience humbling; the non-immune, humiliating. Fourth, and worst of all, the effect seems to be negatively correlated with socioeconomic status. It seems that the lower strata have already had plenty of encounters with natural selection, a Stulticide that the upper orders take steps to avoid.
          The Advisor realized that the weapon’s too risky; it’ll cause a revolution if built and used. The trouble was that they’ve already spent billions on it, and the news had already leaked. How to conceal the real reason why they must cancel the project and destroy the blueprints?
          And how to explain to the President that he might not be immune himself?

          Moral: If you’re sure that you’re smart, then you aren’t.

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