50 Pictures From The Online “Gallery Of Inexplicable Stupidity”
And you couldn't find better proof of this than the subreddit r/facecpalm. Created all the way back in 2009, this online community describes itself as "a gallery of inexplicable stupidity" and currently has over 6 million members constantly looking for new 'artworks' for its 'collection.'
Over the years, they have collected plenty of examples of people making a complete fool of themselves both online and in real life, so we thought it would be interesting to make an exhibit, featuring the most memorable ones. Continue scrolling and enjoy!
We reached out to the people who look after r/facepalm and one of them agreed to tell us more about the community.
"We moderate according to Reddit's content policy and that means that most of the comment moderation we do is to remove bigotry and racism," they told Bored Panda.
"The subreddit's community is fine, for the most part. A lot of people come here to have a laugh at whatever silly thing is being posted and that's ok."
You can see a lot of different themes on the subreddit, and the mod said they can change quite fast. "[What's popular] really depends on what is on people's minds at the time. Currently, a popular topic is the insane lengths people go through to deny the facts about Covid."
But there's a way to determine what we can expect from r/facepalm. According to research, people see actions as stupid for three primary reasons: the actions reflect a foolhardy level of risk, an absent-mindedness and lack of practicality, or an impulsive lack of control.
So even though the word 'stupid' sounds subjective, scientists have discovered that people are very quick to identify it.
"People don't spend time on judging if something is stupid or not," study researcher Balazs Aczel told Live Science. "It comes instantaneously, and as our results showed, they have high agreement. If one person calls something stupid, there's a high likelihood others will do the same thing."
It might seem unusual or even strange to investigate how people decide that something is stupid. But scientists love a challenge and researchers who study decision-making had no information, beyond anecdotes, as to how people decide whether an action is stupid.
So the team collected news stories and other online content that someone had described as stupid.
One example was a news story about a robber who set out to steal cellphones, but lifted GPS devices instead — and failed to switch the devices off, allowing the police to discover them (and him) immediately.
Next, the researchers invited 154 different students to gather examples of stupidity from their day-to-day life and read the stories, asking them whether each qualified as stupid.
The students (who were all Hungarian) then chose possible reasons from a long list as to why they'd decided each example would qualify for the label.
The reasons fell into three categories. The first, dubbed "confident ignorance," is when someone tackles something high-risk without the required skills. The cellphone/GPS caper was a prime example of this kind of stupidity.
The next category was "absent-mindedness," which applied to situations where people knew the right thing to do, but for some reason weren't paying close attention. Aczel said one example would be walking out of the store without paying for your groceries.
The third kind of stupidity was described by a lack of control. It occurred when people knew they shouldn't do something but couldn't resist their impulse to do it anyway. Reaching for the third slice of cake when you know you'll get a stomachache later is an example of this kind of stupidity, Aczel explained.
According to Aczel, stupidity is an interesting concept because it doesn't always track with intelligence.
Even people who possess a very high IQ can make extremely dumb moves. The research revealed that judging a behavior "stupid" reveals the observer's expectations of how someone should behave, he said. But the person doing the stupid thing might be operating according to a different set of expectations or goals.
On a more practical level, you might be wondering if any of this matters. But understanding why people call something stupid might provide better ways to call out dumb behavior, Aczel highlighted. For instance, it might be more helpful to tell someone they're being overconfident than that they're being stupid.
After the research, the team said they plan to concentrate on the cognitive mechanisms people use to monitor others' behaviors. One mystery, Aczel said, is the question why people find stupidity so amusing, a fact that drives more and more people to become members of r/facepalm.
"People want to watch other people doing something stupid as a source of amusement," he said. And it's hard to argue with that.