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The Elbow and Ass Distinction Disorder Warning: A Scary American Epidemic

Home » The Elbow and Ass Distinction Disorder Warning: A Scary American Epidemic

Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder, EADD, rages across the U.S. It’s a scary epidemic, and although the symptoms aren’t always identical, experts promise you’ll know it when you see it.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

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Photo by fotografierende on

Introduction to EADD

I first became aware of the scourge of EADD — Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder — when the great American novelist Saul Bellow called it out.

Bellow had little patience when formal education masked the absence of common, conventional wisdom, that is, when people didn’t know their asses from their elbows.

And he didn’t mind pointing it out.

When his son Greg was two, and Bellow bragged that the kid, upon request, could point reliably at either his elbow or his behind. Because of that, the writer concluded, “he knows more than the average Harvard graduate.

Winner of Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes and three time winner of the National Book Award for fiction, Bellow may eventually become better known for illuminating the frightening outbreak of EADD among us.

Detecting Elbow and Ass Distinction Disorder

EADD hides in plain sight, sorry for the cliche, but in the past four years in America, it’s rampant. It’s not widely reported because, experts say, newsrooms are full of it.

Frequently disguised as a contest between scientific facts and preferred beliefs.

But there’s really no contest.

Scientific fact emerges from an ever-evolving search for basic truths knowable and testable. Preferred beliefs contradicting provable fact are a symptom of Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder.

Preferred beliefs are the option of choice when truth induces discomfort, screaming fits, cheerful predictions of Armageddon and war. That is, when you don’t know your ass from your elbow and sink into deep denial.

Where can you find Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder?

The low hanging fruits of symptoms are angry bumper stickers and themed political hats.

If something’s true, anger doesn’t make it any truer, especially at 65 MPH on the Interstate, and why would anyone want someone to read their hats in the first place?

But this is what passes for debate during a meme-infused EADD outbreak.

That also goes for T-shirts, but it’s especially true when shirt design begs attention to body parts. Boobs, in other words, playing substitute for brains is a dead giveaway.

EADD among vociferous patriots…

A sure symptom of Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder is conflating patriotism with government. Patriotism isn’t the province of whoever parks his butt in the Oval Office or of whoever’s blowing smoke on Capital Hill.

Patriotism is about the country, its people, values, art, achievements and direction, and that means fairness too.

American government is inherently unfair, always has been, out of balance power ceded to slaveholding states at inception and others recruited to buttress imbalance.

A decent government would’ve addressed that long ago. After all, America stands firm behind universal equality, right?

Ha! Ha!

A rhetorical question, of course, and that brings us to MAGA.

MAGA was never about making America great again. It was about making America elitist again. Some elites want to yank back power earned by their fellow Americans out of common decency, and it’s conditioned on a con job.

The men and women wearing MAGA hats aren’t getting a bigger slice of the American pie, but they are getting reassurance that none of “those people” will either.

In fact, wearing MAGA paraphernalia of any kind is prima facie evidence of Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder.

But politics ain’t the whole floppy thing…

Bring in big business.

In 1969, Laurence J. Peters brought us The Peter Principle, and although widely diagnosed, it occupies a whole lotta chairs in corporate America.

What Peters found is that, in American business practice, EADD is epidemic.

I works like this. Based on merit, a measure of fairness everybody likes, promotions assure that upgrades continue until the worker finally arrives in a position he or she can’t handle well enough to get promoted again..

Once he or she a level of incompetence, there they stay.

EADD is foundational.


Deal with customer service a few times, and you’ll get it. EADD was behind whoever came up with those gut-wrenching operations. Exceptions occur, Chewy for one, Fresh Direct for another, but they just prove the rule.

Conclusion: Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder

Examples walk by you on the street every day.

Sometimes, they call you on the phone, and they post on Facebook.

And sadly, they never know they’ve got it. A key symptom is lacking enough self-awareness to know something’s wrong and seek help.

Be a friend. Tell them.

No known cure for EADD exists, but you can take steps in avoiding it yourself.

Watch less TV because it shrinks IQs with rampant consumerism, or you can read a book. Talk to a neighbor, or visit with your family.

Hell, you can even get a bit of cure from PBS and NPR, but donate please.

And decide decisively to fix your own head. Exercising your brain is more salubrious than all the lean, leafy vegetables in the world.

Let’s stamp out Elbow Ass Distinction Disorder in our lifetimes.

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