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%%                         The Humor Department                          %%

*** Area: OMAHA                                   Date: 22 Jan 94  9:52:20
*** From: Wes Perkhiser (1:285/1.20)
*** To  : All
*** Subj: Gilligan

Remember the Gilligan's Island episode where the Russian spies land on the
island, but every time they get close to their goal Gilligan messes them up
(accidentally)?  Remember how they decided that Gilligan must be a Yankee
master spy, because no one could really be that stupid?

That episode was the event that brought about the concept of the "Gilligan
Effect", where someone who is really clever pretends to be incredibly stupid
to throw off the trail of those who are out to get him.  Many people, in fact,
refer to their favorite politician as a master at the Gilligan Effect.

How, though, do we distinguish pretend stupidity from actual stupidity (also
known as the Gilligan Syndrome)?  Unfortunately, the only way to tell the
difference is by close, long-term observation of the subject.  This, however,
leads to other complications.  

For one thing, it takes a person of exceptional patience and self-control to
observe stupidity in action without interfering with the activity in question.
Another, far more dangerous, effect is that stupidity is contagious.  (Just
look at any major political body to see the effect of sustained contact with
stupid activity.)  In fact, some studies comparing the genetic disposition
toward stupidity vs. the environmental effects of exposure to stupidity have
concluded that stupidity is only marginally related to genetic makeup.

So, without risking the effects of a long-term study, the question of the day

Lorena Bobbit's jury -- Gilligan Effect or Gilligan Syndrome?