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Daniel Buck
stupid or not smart, take your pick
Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:47am


Not sure I said it quite so bluntly, but I could have. I looked back at my emails and OWR posts in which I used the word "stupid" in reference to outlaws (as opposed to in reference to colleagues, heh). Two themes. First, choosing an outlaw life is stupid because almost all outlaws are either capture or killed, sometimes both. In other words, I'm defining stupid as being an outlaw. Argue with that at you leisure.

In a related manner, I've also said many times that BC&SK went all the way to Argentina to start a new life, but then reverted to their old life, thus drawing the attention of the local authorities. Not smart. Or stupid, Take your pick.

Second, outlaws are stupid as a reaction to researchers who try to reason backwards, a certain outlaw was so smart he would not have done something so stupid. In other words, the stupid outlaw meme is a reaction to the genius outlaw meme.

Below are are some examples, culled mainly from emails and OWR posts. Dan

PS Chris, all generalizations have exceptions (including this one), that's the nature of generalizations.

The FW5 portrait had nothing to do with the deaths &/or arrests of any of the depicted five men. Kilpatrick & Logan's arrests were based on their having passed stolen bank notes, although with Logan we can add stupidity, because he was initially nabbed after an altercation with police officers, which led to finding the bank notes. Carver's April 1901 death in Texas was the result of his stupidity. -- long story, but he was an idiot. We need not go into what sparked BC&SK's deaths, but it wasn't the FW5 photo.

Hard to imagine any member of the gang, notwithstanding their repeated stupidities, mailing Nixon -- hence the police -- a photograph of the five of themselves.

I recently read Burton (2009), who laid out in much detail the events that led up to the encounter. Carver, among others, babbled to outsiders they were intent on robbing the bank. The law soon learned & went looking for them. Another example of criminals being stupid.

SK was not stupid? Outlaws are not the sharpest pencils in the drawer. Almost of of them get caught or killed. Anyway, it was probably his letter home to Sis or Mom in Pennsylvania that led the Pinkertons to locate the trio in Argentina

"Admitted mastermind and brilliant criminal"? He robbed trains and payrolls, like hundreds of other outlaws back in the day, but he was neither brilliant nor a mastermind. As I mentioned earlier, most outlaws fall, one way or the other, sooner or later. Sometimes they do something stupid; sometimes their luck runs out. Was Billy the Kid too brilliant to get shot? Was Elzy Lay too brilliant to get caught? Jesse James? Kid Curry? Harry Tracy? The Youngers? The Daltons? Matt Warner? Tom Ketchum? The Renos? Between shot & caught, the list is nigh endless. A better approach is to try to figure out what happened rather than say it could not have happened.

Sorry, I mixed up the chapter 21 text with the chapter 22 notes, but my point is still the same, there's no specific source for the "mentioned" they were going to South America item, but even if they had told there friends, it's of no consequence (that is, in the fantasy world of how could they be so stupid?), since we know they also told their families they were in Argentina, which is even more specific than a vague "South America, and withing a year of their going south the Pinkertons were on the hunt, a hunt that led to their being chased out of Argentina.

In other words, one cannot work backwards: they didn't go to Argentina because how could they be so stupid as to tell people they went to Argentina. What? They did go to Argentina. They told their families they were in Argentina.

Whether they were smart or not is a different question.

[Tombstone Epitaph interview, March 2018] Cassidy and Sundance's lives were defined by trouble and flight. They could not keep away from crime or stay put. Trouble did not find them; they found it. They fled some 6,000 miles to Patagonia to homestead a ranch and within a couple of years were again in scrapes with the law, resulting in their fleeing to Chile and then Bolivia. The pattern repeated itself throughout their lives. If they had gone straight in Patagonia, they could have lived long lives and their grandchildren would today own a small ranch in a lovely part of Patagonia and be working as fly fishing guides.

  • Dan Buck Says...Vince Garcia, Thu Mar 29 5:12pm
    “Criminals are stupid.” This was proven in the last couple days here by a thief who went into some sort of Home Improvement store and was trying to steal a $200 spool of copper wire. A salesman... more
    • Merriam WebsterBob Goodwin, Fri Mar 30 6:09am
      Merriam Webster defines "Stupid," among other things as "given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner," or as "lacking intelligence or reason", ie... more
      • Re: Merriam WebsterChrisV, Fri Mar 30 6:56am
        Merriam Webster's first definition is "slow of mind" BTW You left that out This can be debated all day, but it still doesn't help solve the mystery. The ironic and funny thing is, if Butch and... more
        • Re: Merriam WebsterVince Garcia, Fri Mar 30 5:04pm
          brilliance or stupidity has nothing to do w/being dumped in virtually a common grave that the officials won't let you dig up to DNA
        • Re: Merriam WebsterDaniel Buck, Fri Mar 30 8:51am
          Chris, The numerical order (and suborder) of a word's dictionary definition is historical, not importance. I'm surprised a high school teacher would not know that. It's dictionary 101. Details here,... more
          • Re: Merriam WebsterChrisV, Fri Mar 30 9:14am
            I know of two graves we will not find them in LOL As far as them being buried in San Vicente? Not so sure. Looking at the inquest papers, it is not Butch and SK buried there.
            • Re: Merriam WebsterVince Garcia, Sat Mar 31 6:20am
              Why do you say that? The descriptions of the bodies are decent matches. I don't know of anything in the report that is an "a ha" indication either was someone else Anecdotal claims notwithstanding
              • Really?ChrisV, Sat Mar 31 7:22am
                Vince, I guess the inquest is open to some interpretation, but what makes you think it was them? Their description does not make me think it was them. best, Chris
                • Re: Really?Vince Garcia, Sat Mar 31 12:37pm
                  i don't have anne' book handy but the descriptions as i recall fundamentally sound like them, SD having gained weight. Now anecdotally you have tales of people allegedly seeing photos of the bodies... more
                  • Re: Really?ChrisV, Sat Mar 31 2:26pm
                    Hi Vince, I too am not able to pull my files out. If I recall correctly, one of the bodies was a short ugly guy. The other, was a tall guy. Which one was Butch and which one was SK exactly? Werent... more
                    • Re: Really?Vince Garcia, Sat Mar 31 4:28pm
                      I don't remember one being short or described as "ugly" in the docs. Give Bob some time to see this and he will post the descriptions, I'll bet
      • Re: Merriam WebsterDaniel Buck, Fri Mar 30 6:48am
        Thanks Bob. What I was driving at, with better examples. Many bright people are stupid, and many not so bright people have good judgment. The question is perhaps judgement, which is independent of... more
    • stupid or not smart, take your pick — Daniel Buck, Fri Mar 30 3:47am
    • GeneralizationChrisV, Thu Mar 29 6:08pm
      There is some truth to that statement. Most psychologists agree, a lot of criminals do have a lower IQ than the regular person. However, to just say "Criminals are stupid" is a generalization and not ... more
      • Re: GeneralizationVince Garcia, Thu Mar 29 6:14pm
        I think his overall point was being a criminal at all shows they're stupid. I'm showing it a bit more graphically
        • Re: GeneralizationChrisV, Thu Mar 29 6:39pm
          Ive had this discussion before. Being a criminal doesn't make you stupid, it makes you immoral. Your example is funny BTW
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