You can’t fix stupid, 19th century style

I need this mug. Image via Amazon.
I need this mug. Image via Amazon.

As my regular readers know, I run across some strange, funny stuff in the course of my research. Most of the time it has nothing to do with what I’m actually looking for. *sigh* On the bright side, that means I can tuck it away to share with you guys!

In an age where nearly everyone’s pocket holds a camera and information can be shared instantly across the globe, we are confronted with a daily barrage of stupidity (especially in an election year, but let’s not go there). It’s easy at times to believe that we (collectively speaking) are just about as stupid as is possible without killing ourselves.




Ah, not so fast. The 1890s had its share of boneheads, too. Check out the story of this doctor, as recounted in The Iola Register (Dec 24, 1897). The text can be a bit tough to read, so I highlighted some of the interesting bits:


1897stupid doctor composite3

Read the full article here, via Chronicling America’s archive.


Wow. Sounds like the opening scene of a low-budget sci-fi movie, or the origin story for a Spiderman super-villain. What if Dr. Connors had injected himself with cocaine instead of reptile DNA? Feel free to let loose in the comments. Maybe Stan Lee is looking for alternate timelines.


I also wonder…did Dr. Glynn’s patient list decline after the incident? (The bright side: more free time to poison himself). Did he ever write that treatise on poisoning, or did a subsequent “experiment” do him in? I guess we’ll never know.

So, what do you think? Have we grown more collectively idiotic, have we improved, or are we about equal with the past? What’s the funniest (non-lethal…hey, it’s almost the weekend, we want to kick back) story of stupidity you’ve run across lately? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,


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8 thoughts on “You can’t fix stupid, 19th century style”

  1. PatriciaPatricia

    You mean besides me spending 5 minutes looking for the socks on my feet? I run across stupid a lot, but I think I’ve become immune to it. I just expect to encounter stupid people.

    And yes, as a whole we are becoming more and more stupid. We’re trying to erase history, we’re resurrecting discrimination and racial tensions, instead of focusing on facts and finding solutions, we’re resorting to mud-slinging, name-calling and other lower forms of bad behavior without solving any problems. Basically, we’re becoming Neanderthals. (sigh)

    Here’s hoping we rise above soon. Real soon.

    Thanks for sharing the idiocy.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. MargotMargot

    It is nice to know that ‘stupid’ isn’t reserved for this day and age, Kathy. Yikes! I do think you make a well-taken point about the profusion of ‘photos and videos, though. And with social media sites everywhere, the result is that any stupid thing that someone says or does can be seen by millions. Instantly. *Quickly straightens up and brushes hair* 😉

  3. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    He combined strychnine and morphine to combat the effects of cocaine? That is beyond stupid.

    I don’t think as a whole we are more stupid (research says the average IQ in the U.S. is now 110, rather than 100). I think it’s just that the stupid is so in our faces today with modern media and cell phone videos. Stupid can’t hide anymore. No matter how hard it tries.

    And sadly some people are too stupid to know that they should be trying to hide it (guess who I’m thinking of 🙂 )

  4. BillBill

    After reading your post about 19th century spiritualism, I wouldn’t be so hard on Dr. Glynn. At least it was (in a weird way) research. One of Walter Reed’s physician-cohorts, Jesse Lazear, deliberately exposed himself to yellow fever mosquitos. He paid with his life, but did help solve the puzzle of yellow fever transmission.

    Nice piece.


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