Saturday, March 31, 2007

Stupidity Sells!

I like people who like talking words, and from the looks of things it appears that's the whole wide world, isn't it?

And I guess you could say... you and I could be included in this bunch too!

But Matthew Stibbe - over at Bad Language and Articulate Marketing - passed this tidbit of information on to me the other day... which got me thinking... and I rather enjoyed it.

According to an Oxford University Press expert, 90% of the top 100 most popular words used in internet copy online was one syllable.

Top Ten Words for Copy

1 Time
2. Person
3. Year
4. Way
5. Day
6. Thing
7. Man
8. World
9. Life
10. Hand

Mark would like this piece of good news too, because as you may or may not have noticed, he's usually only conversant in chat rooms or on the telephone... and reading and writing puts him seriously at a loss for words - or at a loss for time - one or the other.

Hell, just the idea of completing a sentence - usually delivered in a staccato, rapid-fire, either-you-get-it-or-you-don't manner - doesn't sit too well with him... so why would forming a complete thought... with little more than one or two sentences... cause him to lose any sleep?

So the news of this one-syllable word business only validates what he's been trying to tell me from day one - namely, that stupidity sells!

Which of course caused me to Google it today - once again.

Now, innocently enough, I had originally started this search yesterday... since stupidity turns out to be a synonym for foolishness (see the previous post)... and I'm prone to engage in foolish behavior a LOT... but here I was led to a whole treasure trove of useful links, like these...

The Encyclopedia of Stupidity, by Dutch library historian, Matthijs van Boxsel
Understanding Stupidity
Definitive Supidity
What is Man? - By our friend Mark Twain
The Darwin Awards
Digital Philosophy - Think Mark would dig this?
Annals of Improbable Research - Read this and tell me, "Is this guy not stupid?"
Stupidity Tracker
Stupidity Awards

... And all I've finally got to say is, yes, after reading most of this stuff, "Man, I am damn proud to be stupid! I never knew I'd find such good company with so many stupid-asses in my whole life! Talk about liberating - and fun!"

Albert Einstein said...

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

... But then I wonder if old Albert considered he just might be stupid too. (At least I learned he had a sense of humor.)

Goodness knows, a hundred years from now, we might all consider it a good thing to be stupid. After all, how many of us wouldn't admit that we're a whole lot more stupid about most things compared to how smart we were about just a few things?

Figuratively speaking, that is.

Does the use of big words, even ordinary words, make us collectors of such nonsense, or what?

And for what unspoken ulterior motive does our collecting of words serve for us anyway?

Are we smarter if we're richer? Happier if we're richer? Or stupider if we're not either one?

For which I mean to say... in words... and the size of our vocabulary... as it relates to these attributes.

Hell, does anyone think we're maybe poorly served... by even knowing so many words?

And can stupidity sell?

What compels poor stupid people like me to look up English language words like balderdash and piffle for instance?

Mark would laughingly say, "Because you're sick in the head, Lark... probably!"

To which I'd add, "Why don't you just say it, Marko, you think I'm stupid, right?"

And he'd, more than likely, keep on keepin' on... laughing himself silly!

Because words - and constantly collecting a bunch of 'em - really does seem stupid to Mark.

Take a look at what someone said to me recently about what drives a person to want to write:

"Several different regions of the brain govern the act of writing. The physical movement of the hand is controlled by the cerebral cortex which comprises part of the outer layer of the brain. The drive to write, on the other hand, is controlled by the limbic system, a ring-shaped cluster of cells deeply buried in the cortex which governs emotion, affiliated instincts and inspiration and is said to regulate the human being's need for communication. Words and ideas are cognized and understood by the temporal lobes behind the ears, and these temporal lobes are connected to the limbic system. Ideas are organized and edited in the frontal lobe of the brain. Temporal lobe lesions cause temporal lobe epilepsy; however it is also known to run in families. Hypergraphia is not a frequent manifestation of temporal lobe epilepsy."

"As of current, hypergraphia is understood to be triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe."

"It is also associated with manic and bipolar disorder. Manic and depressive episodes have been reported to intensify hypergraphia symptoms. Additionally schizophrenics and people with frontotemporal dementia also experience a compulsive drive to write."

So I guess this proves it - not only am I stupid, but I'm deranged as well!

God knows Mark wouldn't bother to even read this drivel - he'd all-of-a-sudden be too busy... or something - and he'd probably get mad if I forced him...

... Which leads me to what I really wanted to write about.

Patricia Ritsema van Eck...

... At Thin Electrons has been soliciting thoughts from her members about the reformatting of her site to something with a little more interaction using Web 2.0 standards; and, in particular, she asked her members for their favorite resources to be included on the new site too.

So... I'd already gotten cold feet about posting in her forum about the availability of a free download of our little comic strip... thinking... "What a stupid thing for somebody to want to download in the first place"... which of course it is.

But she seems so nice - I know for a fact she ain't dumb either - and I wanted to comment in her blog about a favorite niche she wants to target more in the future, generally identified as happiness.

Now you know how I am - more than a little bit wordy - and as I'd never had the courage to come right out and say hello in her blog, I felt more-than-a-little creepy about being the first to comment on this... her latest post.

So Patricia... forgive me... if I just post the wordiness right here...

Hi Patricia!

Thought you'd enjoy hearing about this Dutch guy, Matthijs van Boxsel, as I guess he's a library historian who's written and compiled a thing called... get this... "The Encyclopedia of Stupidity".

And it's received rave reviews too!

Anyway, I had some thoughts about Thin Electrons, and some great resource ideas for you too. But I'm embarrassed to place such a long comment in your blog... especially since this is my first time.

So would you mind looking at it over at my blog first?

Just click on "See the Blog" at our site, Mark and Lark dot com, and scroll down.

Thanks for allowing me this space to comment!


[P.S. - That's a great viral marketing tip you gifted us with the other day. Mark and I consider it one of the best actionable ideas we've seen yet!]

... And to continue... directly from her blog...

May I suggest laughter (jokesters & merry pranksters), like in a "Just Kidding!" section, as a nice way to point towards happiness?

And "Yummy Eye Candy" (featured artists, etc.)?

How about "Show-and-Tell" ("how to", "what for", etc.), organized with sub-categories?

Remember, like in grade school?

And did you ever have to present - or share - a "Current Event" (political/human affairs) in front of a "Civics" class?

How about an "Angels" (help-mates, heroes) and "Demons" (anti-heroes) section... or a "Controllers" and "De-Controllers" section for those wanting to pitch something?

Or sections called "The Road Less Traveled", "On the Bandwagon!"... "Life in The Slow Lane" and "Life in the Fast Lane"?

And different word cloud sections organized by groups suggested by the members, like "Interesting Fluff - The Stuff of Us"... or "Great Big Cloudbursts" and "Little Puffs of Smoke?"

Your instincts are indeed correct about the Web 2.0 format... but I don't see you as writing solely in the "Happy Warriors" section... divided up maybe as...

... Rich Bitches | Sons-of-Bitches | Rags-to-Riches | Let's Talk About Me-Me-Me... only talking about making money. Instead, I see you as a person who genuinely wants to promote all kinds of happiness!

Since you're already a very good marketer - and others can certainly learn from you - your members will be more than glad to promote the site... especially if it also helps promote themselves!

The new interactive format will allow others, besides yourself, to share ways making money can contribute to happiness... and what's not to make one happy seeing others so happy at your reformatted Thin Electrons site?

Heck, let the members vote on their favorite stuff that makes them the happiest!

Personally, my own site would have me as a features page editor of sorts... and my column might be called "My Stupid Opinions".

And naturally, other commentators would be allowed to post under "So what's Your Stupid Opinion?"

I really think happiness can sell - as well you should too. In fact, if I could bottle it right now, I would... just for you!

Best regards,


[P.S. - Oh yea, here's some of my favorite resources:

Power 150: Top Marketing Blogs

The One-Sentence Persuasion Course: 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding... and... The No-Nonsense Guide to Enlightenment

Zag: The #1 Discipline for High Performance Brands

Creating Pleasurable Interfaces: Getting From Tasks to Experiences.

Hope you and your members find them useful!]