Daily Prompt Fool Me Once It’s April 1st! Pull a fast one — publish a post that gently pranks your readers.

April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.” – Mark Twain


n. A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity. He is omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscience, omnipotent. He it was who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences. He created patriotism and taught the nations war — founded theology, philosophy, law, medicine and Chicago. He established monarchical and republican government. He is from everlasting to everlasting — such as creation’s dawn beheld he fooleth now. In the morning of time he sang upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the procession of being. His grandmotherly hand was warmly tucked-in the set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man’s evening meal of milk-and-morality and turns down the covers of the universal grave. And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human civilization.” Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

People — some more than others — are easily fooled. Maybe all of us are easily fooled in some dimension. Facebook is the revelatory locus for fools and foolishness of all kinds in these times. Yesterday a friend posted a satirical paragraph in which the Ayatollah was quoted (satire) as applauding Indiana’s decision to allow restaurants not to admit LGBT people and another friend had a hissy fit because she didn’t recognize the satire. Anyone who’s ever been “on” Facebook can imagine where that led. My particular “fool” abyss is believing what people tell me (“I’ll be home for dinner” is one example from my second marriage) and not imagining that people lie or con or all the other things they’re capable of doing (“I’m here to make amends. I’m in Sex Addicts Anonymous recovery and I have to make amends to everyone I’ve hurt — and that would just be you. I cheated on you the whole time we were married.” Uh, so, uh, we’ve been divorced a YEAR. Why are you telling me NOW? [or EVER?]).

On this glorious sunny Colorado morning, I’m once more reminded of why I’m grateful I’m not teaching any more. Teaching brought me in contact with a wide variety of fools.

In the critical thinking text I used in many of my classes over the years, the author, Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, quoted The Devil’s Dictionary in his chapter discussing self-esteem and self-knowledge. Ruggiero quoted Bierce’ definition of self-esteem: “An erroneous appraisement.” Some of my students refused to read the two short quotations in our text because the author of the book was quoting Satan. A couple other students complained (to my boss) that I was teaching Satanism.

On the chapter quiz, I asked two questions related to that little quotation. One was, “Who was Ambrose Bierce?” The most commonly chosen option in the multiple choice list was NOT “A satirist” but “A satanist.” The other question asked why Ruggiero quoted Bierce. The choices were:

a) To add some levity to an otherwise dull chapter;
b) Ruggiero is also a satanist and wants to show that critical thinkers are accepting of all religions;
c) Bierce is an authority on critical thinking;
d) Ruggiero likes Ambrose Bierce.

The answer was “a).” The most commonly chosen option was b).

I’m sorry to say, this is no prank. This was real life and, presumably, still goes on in the classroom of many teachers today along with whoopee-cushions and other pranks the great unwashed may perpetrate on the poor benighted fool in the front of the room.

16 thoughts on “Fool

  1. I suspect people thought Bierce was a Satanist because, having never actually read “The Devil’s Dictionary,” they assumed it was something other than it is. Which essentially supports my position on pretty much everything — Stupid People are running the world. The depth and breadth of human stupidity never cease to amaze me.

    I read “The Garden of Forked Paths,” after which I realized I had read it before, just a very long time ago. The concept stuck somewhere in the brain, though the source got lost. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Not only that, but they thought “satirist” was a misspelled word and that I was trying to give them the same choice (satanist) twice as a trick. I hate them. I think about them and I seriously hate them. I had to fight with them (not against ignorance and stupidity) every single day for the five years before I retired. They were not only ignorant and stupid, they were arrogant and mean. But I’m not there now. 🙂

  2. A sad set of stupid satanists is sort-of a satirical statement of…on…about…(oh, help…something that begins with “s”…)

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