Quotes: Obfuscating Stupidity

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    Anime and Manga 

Papa is not a stupid man. It takes calculation to decimate another human with a word. He measures others carefully. He only feigns being crude and dense.
Masaru "Kodama" Kodaka, Bokurano

Soyogi: She's coming up? In that case, I'm going down.
Nagi: You can't deal with her either, huh?
Soyogi: Yeah... especially when she pretends to be a fool.

    Film - Live-Action 

I can't tell if you're really fuckin' dumb, or really fuckin' smart.
Wendell Everett, The Guard

No one is as dumb as I appear to be.
David "Mo" Rutherford, The Stuff

He brilliantly lowers our expectations and then jumps without a chute. Remarkable!
Lana, The Librariannote 

    Literature 

All warfare is based on deception.

A truly advanced being might realize it's best to approach lesser species in a nonthreatening way — as a ridiculous-looking creature who comes across as a pompous jerk barely able to keep his foot out of his mouth. It puts you at ease, doesn't it, when you say, "This Pollisand guy isn't so scary; he's not the swaggering supergenius the rest of the universe thinks he is." You catch me making a few goofs, you throw my words back in my face, and after a while, you relax cuz you think I'm not smart enough to pull the wool over your eyes.
The Pollisand, Ascending

A certain combination of skill and ignorance is very effective, you do not suspect it, and you accede to it.

We must be so intelligent that he does not suspect us of being intelligent at all.
Hercule Poirot, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with the inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

Thinking I'm a moron gives people something to feel smug about. Why should I disillusion them?
Charles Wallace, A Wrinkle in Time

There was always something like that, Lawrence was realizing. Parson would make some mistake, be labeled an idiot for it, and then everyone would forget. Or at least, Lawrence would. Only in retrospect did it become clear that most of those "mistakes" had since been vindicated in some way.

I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. ... You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!

    Live-Action TV 

I never run around in the bushes in a ski mask when I'm breaking in some place. Somebody catches you, what are you gonna say? You wanna look like a legitimate visitor until the very last minute. If you can't look legit, confused works almost as well. Maybe you get a soda from the fridge or a yogurt. If you're caught, you just act confused and apologize like crazy for taking the yogurt, nothing could be more innocent.

Mrs. Scarlioni: My dear, I don't think he's as stupid as he seems.
Count Scarlioni: My dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems.
Doctor Who, "City of Death"

An unintelligent enemy is far less dangerous than an intelligent one, Jamie. Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that?
The Second Doctor, Doctor Who, "The Dominators"

You have the mouth of a prattling jackanapes, but your eyes tell a different story.
Sharez Jek, Doctor Who, "The Caves of Androzani"

As for being half-witted, well, what can I say? Except that I have survived to middle age with half my wits while thousands have died with all of theirs intact! Evidently quality of wits is more important than quantity!
Claudius, I, Claudius

Rule 15: Acting stupid is often smart.
The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, Star Trek

    Music 

Day after day,
Alone on a hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning 'round...
The Beatles, "The Fool on the Hill"

    Video Games 

I'll show you the truth.

    Webcomics 

How big of a dumbass do you think I think you are?
Kit not buying it, The Dreadful

AC: :33 < then look like a fool!
AC: :33 < but don't be one

I've always found that declaring something at Customs makes it much easier and faster to get through. The people who declare nothing tend to be the ones pulled over for complete luggage inspections, whereas if you say you're carrying a bag of jelly babies and a wooden souvenir elephant, the Customs officers just look at you as though you have no idea what you're doing and wave you through.
David Morgan-Mar, commentary for Irregular Webcomic! #2481

It's great how all these morons think I'm the one who's too naive.

Tarquin: Remember, Nale: Who knows that you know is just as important as knowing in in the first place.
Nale: But you look like a fool for being ignorant!
Tarquin: So what? Better to look the fool than be one.

    Western Animation 

That's when it hit me. I realized that if I let him think he was smarter than me, I could make him do anything I wanted.
Grandpa Phil on dealing with Nazis, Hey Arnold!

Mr. Mxyzptlk: If you can make me say, spell or otherwise reveal my name backwards then I'll split, until our dimensions come into alignment again in... oh, three months, give or take.
Superman: I can't even say your name forwards - how am I supposed to say it backwards?
Mr. Mxyzptlk: No, dope, you don't have to say it, you have to get me to say it!
Superman: Say what?
Mr. Mxyzptlk: Kltpzyxm! Gosh, you're thick! Now, for the last time... ah, nuts! (vanishes)

"Spongebob, you can't always expect my usual brand of stupidity. I like to mix it up, keep you on your toes."
Patrick Star, Spongebob Squarepants

    Real Life 

It's like these people are programmed by Karl Rove. What he wants is to have liberal critics ridicule Bush because he says "nucular" and "misunderestimate" and talks with a probably fake Texas accent and so on, because then can come back with the big propaganda apparatus saying, "See, those elite liberals who run the world and are sitting around drinking French wine and eating quiche don't understand us ordinary guys;" regular guys like the guy working on the assembly line and George Bush, who is going back to his ranch to cut brush.
Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes (2007)

To be looked upon as a fool by an idiot is a true connoisseur's delight.
Georges Courteline

It takes a smart guy to play dumb.
Mr. T

[The Spartans] conceal their wisdom, and pretend to be blockheads, so that they may seem to be superior only because of their prowess in battle ... This is how you may know that I am speaking the truth and that the Spartans are the best educated in philosophy and speaking: if you talk to any ordinary Spartan, he seems to be stupid, but eventually, like some expert marksman, he shoots in some brief remark that proves you to be only a child.
Plato, Protagoras

Eisenhower's career demonstrated how it is possible to fool all the people all the time... "I may be stupid," he once said at a press conference, "but at least I'm sincere!" Actually, he was neither, but it suited his purpose to play the part of the bumbling man of good will who was "not an expert in these matters" but somehow would do his best.

The thing about Colbert is he's fucking brilliant... He was always the smartest guy in the room, and he was always smart enough not to let you know he was the smartest guy in the room.
Scott Wherry on long-time friend Stephen Colbert