EVIL OR STUPID?….In comments to this post, Tacitus says:

I prefer evil over stupid, if you have to choose.

That’s an interesting choice, isn’t it? I assume the choices are mutually exclusive, which means we’re not choosing between people who are stupid and evil ? pretty obviously a bad combination ? or people who are smart and good ? a self-evidently desirable combination.

Now, in the first category of dumb but good, I’m not really sure who would qualify. Whoever they are, they don’t seem to have done enough damage to stand out in my mind.

The smart-but-evil category, on the other hand, is ridiculously easy to populate. Stalin was reasonably bright, I think, and while Hitler is questionable, his henchmen were mostly fairly smart guys. Mao might have been out of touch at times, but the stuff I’ve read about him indicates that he had a perfectly good mind. Taken together, this category seems like it’s produced the current frontrunners for immediate inclusion in the 20th Century “Bad Guy Hall of Fame.”

I dunno, though. Am I underestimating the dumb-but-good category? Is it a matter of there being so many more dumb people than evil ones, as opposed to the amount of damage each one can do? Who should be in this category, anyway? And what kind of societal woe can we lay at their feet?

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