Levels of stupidity: Check Out Where You Stand

Have you seen anyone and felt “how can someone be that stupid and wondered what runs in their mind?”. I had so many times. I understand that decisions are affected by the environment but sometimes I can’t help but think ‘why so stupid?’ I mean sometimes it feels that people forget to apply common sense. A few days ago, I got a message on WhatsApp from my friend. It was forwarded so many times. The message was about the changes made in WhatsApp due to the new rules of the Indian Government. Check out the images below.

Did you read the whole message? Now, what do you call the people who created and forwarded this message many times? Look at the last line – you will get three ticks if the government has started proceedings against you’. I mean what? As if WhatsApp can change its whole design just to help the Indian government and if this message is true, would the person who created and forwarded this message arrested by now? What interests me more is what runs in people’s minds when they forward messages like this? Do they believe it? Or is it fun to forward?  Last year, India lost a wonderful actor ‘Sushant Singh Rajput’ due to suicide. Everyone in the country grieved for him. Just a week before his suicide, his ex-manager also killed herself. Now, knowing this everyone started assuming stories and that’s human nature but what unexpected was, people started posting social media statuses about what they think happened. They came up with a story that big celebrities in Bollywood raped and killed his ex-manager and then killed the actor before he could open up in the media. When I saw this story as a status in one of my friend’s WhatsApp, I couldn’t believe how people can blindly share such stories. Immediately I told her to delete the status because it was not verified and honestly was very insulting to the deceased. I mean conspiracy theories also have a basis and limit. Thankfully, she deleted it. The next day, the father of the ex-manager filed a case about these stories. Now, what do you expect? You expect people to understand and stop posting such stories but everyone came up with a different kind of story this time and my friend posted it again as a status. This time I did not tell her to delete it. From sharing the picture of actor’s dead body to these conspiracy theories and believing a guy who said he talks to the actor’s ghost; people crossed the line of stupidity and that is when I have decided to write an article on this and here are the types/levels of stupidity I see every day

Image Source: Google

Levels of Stupidity

  • Over-confidence/ I know it all

People of this category think they know everything and believe they are geniuses. For instance, take a writer who uses unnecessary big words to sound intelligent. When I read articles, I see few writers use fancy words in the wrong places which changes the whole meaning of the sentences. I always wondered if they knew the meaning of the words they used. What’s interesting is despite many commenting on it, they repeat the same every day. I talked to a few of them and I have found out that they publish articles without re-checking/double-checking what they have written. When asked why? They said they have confidence that what they have written was right. Sadly, I see more and more people like this every day. What’s common in all these people is they overestimate themselves and never really grow. They never realize the mistakes and refuse to change. When they face a problem because of it, they try to manage or escape for the moment and then get back to repeating mistakes. I have also mentioned this in my previous article ‘Self-beliefs’. Take for example a person who just completed a course in the stock market and is ready to compete with a professional? We can’t help but think how stupid they are. These category people always underestimate the situations/problems.

  • Discrediting others

This category is related to the first one or maybe a level after it. This kind of people cannot realize that there are different ways to solve a problem. As they mostly think they are right, they fail to see the skills or talent others have and end up discrediting them. For example, an older person who is hell-bent on solving a problem his way and denying others even after clearly explaining him the smartest way. These people are always the first to give unnecessary advice and criticize other’s way of doing things. Have you ever watched sports with a person who always criticizes the players? They constantly tell you how they don’t get what others see in those players. They say they are only representing the nations because of money or recommendations. I am sure you have crossed paths with these kinds of people at least once in life. They can never appreciate others and will always try to show that they know it all. When I decided to take psychology as my career, everyone gave me advice when they had no idea what the subject is about. One of my uncles who told me he knows everything about psychology suggested I pursue an MBA after my bachelor’s. Yes! you heard it right. Although these people believe they are presenting themselves as knowledgeable, they only end up making fools of themselves.

  • One- Dimensional

These kinds of people have a very closed mindset. They fail to open their mind and listen to other’s views, ideas, and opinions. They blindly support a view and hate others. These are also the kind of people who justify their views in every possible way. I mean sometimes the justifications don’t even make sense. You know like you fell but I was pushed by phenomena. I see these kinds of people mostly in political or religious conflicts. When there is a social issue, a smart person listens to both sides and then comes to a conclusion but a one-dimensional person comes to a conclusion without listening to the other side and when you try to explain it to them, they start hating. After some point, they will completely block listening to the other side and start searching for ways to spread hate even on the good things. If you observe politicians or their supporters, many spread the news about why the public shouldn’t vote for the opposition instead of why the public should vote for them. I believe these people do not work for the betterment of society rather they work to spread hatred on a particular community. Only if these people can open their minds a little bit, the world would be a more sensible place.

  • Influential/Influenced Stupidity

This, I think is the ultimate level of stupidity and can be seen in two types of people; the one who influences and the one who is influenced. Social media has become a major part of our lives to the extent where we cannot imagine life without the internet and this has become a platform for many to express their opinions. Although it sounds good people started stating their opinions as facts and their followers started believing everything they say without verifying the content. This became super easy for people who want to spread hatred towards a community; like open an account with a few followers and start spreading hatred towards a community and that’s it you will have thousands of followers in no time. The followers who believe everything starts to share the content they see and it goes on. Remember the example I have given above? The conspiracy story about the actor everyone believed? The public not only believed the stories, but they also went on to hate those celebrities mentioned in the story. To be honest, no one knows what happened to the actor; if he killed himself or was murdered and the whole point was to find out the truth but due to these stories, the truth somewhere slipped away. It’s been a year and yet no one knows what happened and this happened in many situations. Recently, in Tamil Nadu, a teacher was arrested from a PSBB school for sexually harassing a student. Later many students opened up their stories about how they were slut-shamed by the teacher. The teacher was also seen topless and wearing a towel around his waist in online classes and shared links of pornography with his students. The teacher was immediately dismissed and arrested by police. Afterward, many students from many branches of PSBB school opened up about their traumatic experiences, and the teachers who harassed were named publicly. Soon it became a national issue but the spotlight was only on PSBB. The public has divided into two groups for-PSBB vs Against-PSBB and the core issue of child abuse has slipped away. How did this happen? People started sharing everything they see without verifying the core issue and the content. If only people verified the story before sharing it, they would have understood that the teacher who abused the student would have done the same in some other school too, not just in PSBB. Adding to this, Many influencers today are going to any extent to seek validation and increase followers in their accounts. Recently, three videos in India have gone viral in just a week. One tied balloons around his pet dog and uploaded the video of its flying, Another released a video about the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh saying he is not Indian and the third sang a rap song insulting Hindu culture and gods. Insulting a religion, stating opinions as facts are considered cool and intelligent these days. Sadly, many like this are going unnoticed, and in short, all this is plain stupidity.

Bottom line:

A stupid person acts in a way where it neither benefits them nor others. He/she can never realize the consequences of his/her actions and ends up harming others. Sadly, these people who can never learn from mistakes can influence many others in social media and the public has become blind enough to share without verifying the content. If you don’t want to be stupid, My suggestion is to open your mind, listen and verify all possible ways and never make stupid people famous!’


Sravani Mangalampalli.

Gender Studies: Everything You Should Know

Have you ever been confused between different gender identities and sexual orientations? I know, I was. When I was new to gender studies and did not have much knowledge, I was confused between transgenders and gays. To be honest, I am still confused with few acronyms and I immediately google when I find something new. Do you know there are almost 100-200 gender identities, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and romantic relationships combined? And the acronyms are only seeming to be growing. I know it’s a lot to take in. So, before getting deep into the topic let us discuss why it is important for everyone to learn about different types of genders? Remember, the first thing we say when we talk about human behavior? That humans are social beings? Every human on this planet craves acknowledgment, acceptance, and belongingness. We all search for a group where we can fit in so we can feel ourselves the way we want to but then we also say every person is different. No two people feel the same or express the same. For instance, let’s say you and your best friend went out for a vacation, and both are happy. Now, do you both express your happiness in the same way? No. Are you both being happy because of the same thing that happened on that vacation? Maybe not. Maybe the night talks made you most happy and going out and clicking pictures made your best friend the happiest. So, as we all have different likes, dislikes, preferences, personalities, etc. it is always difficult to group people in just one or two. Do you know Psychologist Gordon Allport, who was the first to create a personality taxonomy, listed more than 4000 different personality traits? Although, many research studies after that narrowed down the types of personalities to 16 and then 5, still no two people who fall into the same personality type are exactly similar. I am an introvert so do my best friend but we both are introverts in completely different ways. Likewise, our gender identities, sexual orientations, and gender expressions also differ from each other. There are different types of gender identity and sexual orientation groups so people can find others who are similar to them, can understand them, and feel a sense of belongingness and now, that more and more people are coming out everyone needs to understand these concepts so there is easy communication and better relationships within the society. Having said that, now let’s talk about different concepts in gender studies.

Gender bread person:

Now, you might be confused about who is a gender bread person. Don’t be. Can you see the image down below? This is our friend and it helps us to understand the most basics that everyone should know.

Image source: Google

What can you understand by the above diagram? It takes about four different concepts gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, and biological sex. Let us go into each topic one by one.

Biological Sex:

As clearly shown in the diagram, biological sex is about what you have. It includes reproductive organs and secondary sexual characteristics like a beard for men and breasts for women. Biological sex doesn’t include anything about gender. So how many are there? Male and female? That’s the most common answer but there is also another group called Intersex. We have studied in our biology class that XX chromosomes contribute to a female and XY chromosomes to a male but there also other variations in chromosomes like XO, XXY, XYY, XXYY, XXXY, XY/XO, XX/XO, XX/XY, and so on. People with such type of chromosomal variations come under intersex and according to studies roughly 1.7% contribute to intersex. One thing to be noted is Intersex is only confined to physical characteristics. It talks nothing about sexual orientation. For instance, a person with a male reproductive organ can develop breasts in later stages of life and can be straight i.e., a male. Most times when the baby is identified as Intersex at birth, parents are given the option for surgery so they can fit in one of the binary biological sex. If one feels they are Intersex, they can take a chromosomal or hormonal test to find out.

Image source: Google

Gender Identity:

Gender identity is about what you feel and how you see yourself as. People either identify themselves as cisgender – gender identity same as biological sex or, Transgender – gender identity opposite to biological sex, and non-binary – who feel they don’t fit in boxes of either male or female. They are also other acronyms like gender-fluid, A-gender, genderless, etc. Point to be noted that transgender men or transgender women are men and women. I have a friend who is transgender. I met her when I was new to gender studies. Although I never told her directly every time my friend wore a saree (traditional wear for women in India) and makeup, I thought I can never makeover like her even I am a born woman. Later, I realized that’s very wrong of me to think like that. There is nothing called normal or real women and distinguishing transgender women with such words is very offensive. Many times, people get confused between transgender women and cross-dressing gay men, and between non-binary and intersex. As mentioned earlier intersex is only confined to physical characteristics whereas non-binary is related to emotional, mental identity, and cultural norms. Cross-dressing gay men sometimes dress as women for entertainment purposes or as a gender expression. They are not transgenders. I know it is sometimes confusing to how to address non-binary and transgenders and the best way to avoid such confusion is to just ask them. No one gets offended if you ask the pronouns, they prefer for addressing.

Image source: Google

Gender Expression:

Wait! So, gender identity and gender expression are different? Yes, they are. Gender expression is all about how you present yourself. It includes your actions, clothes, appearance and is related to gender norms. Gender expression is changing all the time and it is becoming more and more neutral these days. For instance, decades ago women never wore pants but jeans today are neutral clothing. Other such examples are guys wearing heels or makeup and women shaving their heads etc. It is okay if few things feel strange to you but such things are becoming normal and neutral day by day. Look at the few celebrities normalizing gender expressions.

Johnny Depp, Exo – Baekhyun, Cara Delevingne, Harry Styles

Sexual Orientation:

By now, you must have understood what is sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to. There is straight, gays, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and aromantic. Straight people are attracted to their opposite sex, gays are attracted to same-sex. Asexuals are not sexually attracted to any sex or gender but few can engage in romantic gestures like cuddling or holding hands. Aromantic is not interested or has no desire in romantic relationships. Many usually get confused between bisexuals and pansexuals. Bisexuals are attracted to both men and women. It is to be noted that the attraction towards man and woman is not always 50-50. A person who is attracted 90% times to man and 10% times to woman or vice versa can be a bisexual too. Pansexuals on the other hand are attracted to people regardless of their gender. They do not care if the person is male, female, transgender, or any other. It is broader than bisexual and more related to personality than gender. There is no test to find out what sexual orientation a person has. Only a person knows how they feel. Only they know to whom they are attracted. No matter what we think a person is depending on their behavior, it is always wrong to assume a person’s sexual orientation. I see a lot of people assume celebrities’ sexual orientations and comment in every video of theirs. Trust me, it is very offensive if they are not what these people assumed, even if they are, it is human to respect their privacy. People come out when they are ready. No one needs to push the other.

Image Source: Google

Worth Mentioning:

There are also groups like queer, questioning, and allies. A person identifies as queer when they feel they don’t fit in already defined categories or if they identify themselves in two or more categories. For instance, a transgender woman who also identifies as lesbian can prefer addressing herself as transgender lesbian, or simply lesbian, or a queer. It also depends on the person how they address themselves. So, as mentioned earlier, it is always better to ask than assume. Questioning is used to describe people who are wondering about where they exactly stand i.e., people who do not know their gender identity or sexual orientation or still trying to figure out. Allies are used to describe people who support the LGBT+ community. So, does this mean a cisgender person who supports the LGBT+ community comes under allies? Yes, they are. Now, you might be wondering that questioning and allies aren’t like the majority of people? I understand. When I first heard about the allies’ group, I wondered why they formed it but unfortunately, they are still people who are not supporting and are disregarding others’ feelings. Although people are coming out more and more, supporting each other openly and the lines between the cisgender community and LGBT+ community are seeming to be blurring, sometimes, it still feels like the two communities are so distant from each other that they are poles apart. I believe especially with groups like allies and questioning it is high time for all of us to stop distinguishing between people and treat every person as equal. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which community is in majority. It is not a race. What matters is how the person feels, do they feel acknowledged? Accepted? Belonged? Loved? In society. It is okay if it is hard to understand a few of these concepts but remember one doesn’t need to understand everything to respect the other person’s feelings.

Image source: Google

One can address themselves as so and so if they want to and one doesn’t have to do it if they don’t want to. There is no compulsion to be always open and label yourself. A private person should be equally respected and being private doesn’t mean they are ashamed. One must keep in mind that a person is much more beyond these labels and being open or private is one’s choice.

‘I would like to believe an ideal world is where it doesn’t matter if you are cisgender, transgender, non-binary, gay, etc. and everyone starts seeing each other as who they are.’


Sravani Mangalampalli

‘Self-Beliefs: Underestimating vs Overestimating Ourselves’

Recently, I was reading articles on self-concepts and I noticed almost every article made a similar statement that ‘We know ourselves better’. Well, I agree that’s true but not always especially when it comes to judging our abilities. When I observe people in real life, I see so many with self-misconceptions. People do not always estimate their abilities correctly. Before getting into details. Let me tell you two stories.

Story 1: There was a girl who was interested in drawing. She learned how to draw on her own, made few amazing paintings, and won many prizes. She works very hard at her job without a break and used to take care of her family all alone. One time when her family got sick, she managed to take care of her family and her job, worked day and night without any help and sleep. As time passed by, she got many promotions at her job and made everyone happy at home. Despite many achievements in her life, the girl suffered anxiety and self-worth issues every time she was faced with a challenge. She thought she was failing, not working enough, and letting her people down. Every day she cried and questioned her abilities despite evidence proving otherwise.

Story 2: There was a student who was very interested in science. She had high ambitions, wanted to achieve a doctorate, and desired to be one of the prominent members in her field. Every time there was an exam or an assignment, she skipped reading, copied, and always submitted her assignments after the deadline. When asked why, she said it was because she fought with her friends, or because of her family, or because she was not well. She continued to fail in exams, never tried to learn any topics, theories, or concepts in the subject. Despite everything, the girl thought she had immense knowledge and can easily win against the professional in her field.

Now, what did you observe in both the stories? The girl in the first story underestimated herself whereas the girl in the second overestimated herself. What’s more interesting is that the girls genuinely believed what they thought. The first girl believed she was incapable despite her achievements and the second believed she knows more than the professional without working at all. I am sure we all crossed such people at least once in our lifetimes. Think about a multi-talented businessman who always tries to seek validation from his family on his every decision or a friend who just started learning about the stock market and is ready to compete with the professional. Why do they do that?  It happens to every one of us. When faced with a challenge, we underestimate the risk and overestimate our potentials or vice versa. The question is why does it happen? And how to stop it?

Image Source: Google

Why do we underestimate ourselves?

  • Parenting:

The foremost reason I think is parenting. As I mentioned in the previous articles, our personalities, interests, likes, and many more are influenced by our parents. Imagine a parent who always screams at his son that he is good for nothing every time the son did a mistake, compared him with his siblings, and said he is incompetent. What happens? The boy will start developing insecurities and genuinely believes he is incapable. A friend of mine who is multi-talented is always insecure and afraid to decide on his career because his father thinks he is incapable. If his father was more supportive and trusted his abilities, maybe he would have accomplished so much. So, it is very important to be careful about what and how parents talk to their kids. No parent should be a reason for their kid’s insecurities.

  • Fear of disappointment:

I think we all heard of a popular saying ‘Expectations only brings us disappointments’. No one likes to get disappointed or to disappoint our loved ones. Because of it, we think million times before we make a decision. Although, it is good to be careful most times fear of disappointment doesn’t let us move forward. Think about a student who is not willing to get into competition only because he/she is scared of losing or a boy who doesn’t express his feelings to his crush because of the fear of rejection and in situations like this, we often find ourselves unable to take a step forward and when that happens, we need to remember that ‘we don’t know the future’. As we fear we might be right about losing but we might also be wrong. Either way, we don’t know what’s in the future and it is okay to be uncertain.

  • Fear of risk-taking:

If you were born in an Indian Middle-Class Family, you know what I am talking about. Indian families never like to take risks. We always go for the safest option in the book. One of the reasons why many Indian parents do not wish to send their kids to different fields. I have a cousin who likes to enter the film industry. Listening to his ambition, everyone in my family immediately judged it’s a wrong choice. Why? Have they seen him act? No. They judged he cannot achieve it without knowing his capabilities. I am glad my cousin went forward with his decision but many stop themselves only because it’s an unusual option and is risky but no matter what others say there is never the safest option. Every decision has its consequences. If we take up a career because it is safe per, say engineering, we still have to go through so much competition. The chances of succeeding are always higher when we take up a career, we are most interested in.

  • Listening to everyone:

I am sure everyone experienced this. Every person in our life has advice that they want to give us. Most of them don’t even know why we decided to do something. When I first decided to take psychology as my subject, everyone gave me advice that it is not the right field for me. Most told me to take Business Administration and then MBA or pursue engineering and get a job. If I had listened to them, I wouldn’t be here today writing this article but unfortunately, many listen and step back. Considering advice is good but one shouldn’t blindly follow them. All the people who gave me advice not to take psychology don’t even know what it means. So, when we decide to follow a piece of advice, we should question ourselves on why we want to follow it? Is it because the person is experienced and might be right or is it because we are just told so?

  • Comparisons:

Comparing ourselves with others is an instinct of a human. We all do it. We compare ourselves with a person who is above us on the ladder and we make a list of why they succeeded in their field. When we find ourselves lacking according to the list, we immediately step back but what we don’t realize is there are many successful people in our respective fields. They are many successful sports persons, celebrities, scientists, etc., and all of them neither followed the same path nor have the same personality traits. So, it is okay if we think we are lacking in certain things because, with the right amount of guidance and hard work, we can be successful too.

  • Adjusting to what we have:

We are continuously told by our society that we have to adjust to what we have, we should not think about being at the top or about earning a lot of money because money doesn’t buy happiness. Many are not boosted to be successful and as a result, they find themselves adjusting and managing with what they have. But one doesn’t need to get adjusted if he/she is not satisfied with their current life. Irrespective of what others say one can have high ambitions and desires as long as they are realistic. If one has imaginations about how to lead their life, they should trust themselves and move forward. If it’s hard to be positive then it is okay to not be so. I always tell myself if I am unable to stay positive, I should be neutral. Just because I am not positive, doesn’t mean I am negative. I can be neutral and see where it goes.

  • Past experiences:

Our past experiences shape our opinions and behavior. Many times, we step back from a decision because we experienced failures before. One of my teachers in school used to tell us a story about a man who never gave up. Thomas Alva Edison failed more than 1000times before he successfully invented the light bulb. If he had given up because of his past failures, he wouldn’t have made history. There could be numerous reasons why we failed at a particular time. Because we failed once doesn’t mean we fail always. If we look up the reasons why we failed and work to overcome it, we sure can get successful one day.

Having said that, now let us see why we overestimate ourselves?

Image Source: Google

The Dunning – Kruger Effect & Self-Serving Bias

David Dunning, a social psychologist with his student Justin Kruger experimented on undergraduate students. He asked questions on grammar, logic, and humor and told them to judge their score and their relative rank when compared to others. It was found that the students who scored bottom estimated themselves as the highest and the students who scored highest judged themselves as the lowest. Dunning and Kruger carried many such experiments and observed the same results. Unskilled people, not necessarily incompetent always judged themselves as above average. There could be many reasons why a person does that but Dunning says, Self-Serving Bias is one main reason. According to these people, they are never wrong. Self-serving bias is a concept where the person always credits success to himself and blames failures on others. In the above story, if you have observed the girl always blamed others or situations on her failures. She never admitted she did not do well in the exam because she did not study. Dunning- Kruger Effect and Self- Serving Bias helps us to protect our ego and self-esteem. No one likes to admit that they are unskilled. So, we tend to ignore the evidence and overestimate our performances. One of my friends once told me that ‘Ignorance is a Bliss’ and that’s true sometimes. Those who overestimate themselves are highly confident. It seems very logical if you think, when one thinks they know something very well, they tend to be very confident about it. This is also called Illusion of Confidence’.

Dunning, in one of his studies, quoted

‘…incompetent people do not recognize-scratch that, cannot recognize- just how incompetent they are…what’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge’

Although it gives people false confidence, the problem arrives when a person has to face the reality or a challenge that requires the skills, he thinks he has and as these people are most times ignorant, they do not wish to learn and ultimately never grow and develop in their skills. Another reason Dunning points out why people overestimate is because of no accurate feedback. If you observe people around you, you can see most do not like to give negative feedback. They say a painting is amazing even if they don’t feel so. This can make the painter believe that he is amazing and also some parents always praise their kids every time the kid does or doesn’t do anything. As much as a parent should not be a reason for a kid’s insecurities, they should not also be a reason for a kid’s ignorant behavior.  So, how do we stop overestimating ourselves?

Reality Check-In

The only way to stop overestimating ourselves is to carefully observe the results. If we failed an exam. Why did we fail? We can find several reasons if we start blaming others or situations but what’s important is to accept and focus on one’s weakness. If we find it is hard to self-assess our abilities, we can ask for feedback from the person we believe will give us accurate opinions and by being open to criticism, we can learn and help ourselves grow.


Sravani Mangalampalli