museum of folly | stuff and nonsense

7 museum of folly

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“Text is not likely to be stupid”

Internal memoranda

FROM: Membership department
TO: Director’s office

Dr. Thom:

Have you seen something call the stupid filter? We are concerned that this insidious software, which “can detect rampant stupidity in written English,” will interfere with our current membership drive. By filtering stupidity out of the internet, materials for new acquisitions may diminish, and we will have difficulty hosting special exhibitions. Also, according to our colleagues in Marketing and PR, if stupidity is removed from the internet our ability to promote the museum will negatively impacted.

Listen to this:

Too long have we suffered in silence under the tyranny of idiocy. In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people. Then, Eternal September hit and we were lost in the noise. The advent of user-driven web content has compounded the matter yet further, straining our tolerance to the breaking point.

[The filter] will be accomplished with weighted Bayesian or similar analysis and some rules-based processing, similar to spam detection engines. The primary challenge inherent in our task is that stupidity is not a binary distinction, but rather a matter of degree.

We plan to release core engine source code for incorporation into content management systems, blogs, wikis and the like. Additionally, we plan to develop a fully implemented Firefox plugin and a WordPress plugin.


— Membership department


FROM: Director’s office
TO: Membership department

Membership department friends:

There is no cause for concern. There is no way to remove stupidity from the internet as long as people keep developing content and surfing the web. Remember, Numerus stultorum est infinitus: The number of fools is infinite.

I visited the site you reference and tried their beta demo. I tested all of our installed labels as well as our promotional and educational copy in it. In every instance the software returned the message “text is not likely to be stupid.” As we at the museum know, text is actually very likely to be stupid. So I think we have nothing to fear.


TWX, director