A computer algorithm capable of identifying stupidity has been developed by Israeli researchers.
The researchers analysed 666,000 Amazon and eBay reviews, people in line at the DMV, political candidates and several other sources of high-quotient stupidity, looking for - and finding - dumb stuff.
This unusual formula could pave the way for more sophisticated communication between humans and idiots - the Holy Grail of intelligence.
Devised by computer scientists with an excess of time on their hands at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, this algorithm has been programmed to recognise idiocy - from slight to sheer - by analysing patterns of phrases and behaviors indicating low intelligence, such as that exhibited by Facebook blogger fanatics and WalMart shoppers.
In tests on 666,000 product reviews posted on the Amazon shopping website, for example, the algorithm had an impressive 77 per cent success rate in picking out the dim & doltish - arguably higher than some humans. Which is the point.
The researchers "trained" the algorithm to recognise pudding-heads by teaching it nearly 5,500 sentences from Amazon, eBay and NY Times film reviews, political campaign rhetoric and Facebook entries that human volunteers had marked as either imbecilic or non-imbecilic.
Fatheaded phrases used for the research included "I heart <insert proper noun>", "Want to see more pictures of my Llaso Apso?", "Born Again", "When elected, I promise to <insert lie de jour>" and "Gosh, no, I don't know my cellphone number, I never call anyone on it".
From its learned list of feebleminded phrases, the algorithm was taught to recognise patterns of words and behaviors which indicate the perpetrator hasn't a single clue.
The algorithm's detective skills were then tested on tens of thousands of Facebook members, daily eBayers, lawyers, MPs and other humanoid invertibrates, people operating primarily from the brain stem. It produced an accurate analysis of assholes in 77 per cent of cases, usually within nanoseconds.
In addition to producing an algorithm with a remarkable success rate, the researchers also drew some intriguing conclusions about why so many people are idiots.
The academics write: "We speculate that one of the strongest reasons for the existance of ignorance is television and television commercials, followed closely by our school systems and the proliferation of cellphones manufactured for all uses but phoning a fellow human."
The authors of the study, Oren Tonsure, Dmitry Ddavid and Haimnot Rappaport, say that "witlessness recognition could one day be used to develop a stupidity shield for the rest of us...maybe some kind of specialized tin foil hat or an electric stunner that automatically activates in the presence of blind ignorant bullshit."
We can only hope.