Science: Unit of Measurement
The Foolhard (fh)   (+6, -2)  [vote for, against]
How much brainpower does it not take to do that?

An unit of measure devoted to stupidity, inversely proportional to a commonly-accepted scale of common sense.

One foolhard would be the amount of brainpower not required to do something standard and yet stupid, i.e. urinate on an electric fence.

More foolhards indicates that the person is expending more effort in not thinking.

This should have a cap of reasonable foolhardiness, say, 10 (which would be something like insulting Idi Amin to his face and expecting to get away with it). Anything higher than 10 fh indicates unthinking on a level heretofore unseen by man.

A measurement of zero fh indicates that yes, that person thought something through.

Negative fh is impossible.

EDIT: Another way of thinking of it: It takes some amount of energy to lift an object. However, less energy than is required is used in an attempt to lift it - the remainder, the energy deficit, is analagous to the foolhard.
-- shapu, Aug 24 2006

//commonly-accepted scale of common sense//
Which is?
-- ldischler, Aug 24 2006

I think that's probably going to be one of my next ideas.
-- shapu, Aug 24 2006

//commonly-accepted scale of common sense//
The Modicum?
-- Jinbish, Aug 25 2006

I like the principal behind this... so (+) but would like the unit to have a better name, so that it can attract a little symbol, in much the same way as the bakery's fishbone.
-- xenzag, Aug 25 2006

//can attract a little symbol// I think the symbol will have to be a reverse-italicised (left-leaning) Greek uppercase 'delta', which by both sound and appearance would indicate a duncecap.
-- lurch, Aug 25 2006

[phlish]: That's true, not thinking doesn't require effort. I was trying to be witty, but it obviously didn't work. The foolhard would measure only dumbness as compared to a scale of moronosity.
-- shapu, Aug 25 2006

0 fh would be anything that requires all brainpower, therefore the scale would have a definite end (no brainpower used) rather than being open ended. If 10 is the end of the scale, a value above 10 would imply more brainpower not used than was availbale, which would be quite a feat; To have a logarithmic scale how about the inverse log of the amount of brainpower needed to avoid the stupidity? 0 fh means all power would have to have been used to avoid disaster, while 3 fh means 1/100th of the available brainpower would have been sufficient.
-- loonquawl, Apr 21 2009

"using two and a half modicums of common sense…"

The modicum does not exhibit a constant value. It may be thought of more like a coeffecient, relating the quantity of common sense to the task. To illustrate, consider the acts of 1) not putting ones hand into a fire, and 2) not standing on a mountain top in a thunderstorm, wearing copper boots, holding a sword aloft and yelling "all the gods are bastards". While the first is a simple act requiring very little reasoning, the second requires some understanding of metrology, electrostatics and theology. Both, however, require a modicum of common sense. Similarly, the foolhard would need to be a coeffecient of stupidity.
-- Twizz, Apr 21 2009

This doesn't quite work, because to be foolhardy and to be stupid are not the same thing.

To be foolhardy is to not think through (or not care about) the consequences of one's actions, that is, to take an unnecessary risk.
To be stupid may just involve getting something wrong due to incompetence.

Run across a busy road without looking : foolhardy.
To make a basic mathematical error: stupid.
To insist that your child not be given the MMR jab due to an inability to weight evidence: stupid.

The last example is stupid but not foolhardy because the outcome is the motivation for the action.
Similarly to run across a busy road in an attempt to get run over would not be foolhardy. (It may or may not be considered stupid).
-- Loris, Apr 21 2009

I propose that foolhardiness is merely the voluntary application of stupidity, within the limits of stupidity of the subject. In your example, an individual may be perfectly capable of weighting evidence but choose to base a decision on tabloid press stories. This is a voluntary application of stupidity as opposed to limiting stupidity.
-- Twizz, Apr 21 2009

Three cheers for the random button, shirley?
-- shapu, Apr 21 2009

random, halfbakery