Stupid Weapons Index

A system for rating a (possibly) stupid weapon idea:

1) Promises a “revolution in warfare.” Add 50 points. Add 25 points for claims of a “new arms race.”

Add 5 points for each time any derivative of the word “transformation” is used in promotional materials describing the weapon.

2) Is supposedly a “new” idea, yet on closer examination, there are myriad examples of attempts using similar ideas in the past.

Add 10 points for each case of a similar idea in the past. Add another 15 points, for each case inventor/company was unaware of this earlier attempt, and thus failed to learn from past mistakes.

3) Lacks a realistic operational scenario of where or how such a weapon could be used.

Add 25 points. Add 15 points if inventor/company describes an operational scenario, but it has no relation to current warfare (i.e. aircraft equipped with laser beams shooting at each other).

4) The usability of the weapon assumes as yet unproven leaps in technology to reduce size, power generation or other critical elements.

Add 15 points for each needed technological advance.

5) The idea comes from someone who is unfamiliar with how the military fights and how weapons are used.

Add 15 points (this is slightly subjective, so add only five points if served in military, but never involved in any military operations). Add 20 points if military experience is derived from watching war movies or the evening news.

6) The company/inventor relies on obtaining funding (private or public) from people who themselves have no idea how the military uses weapons (i.e. private investors, congressional earmarks).

Add 20 points if developmental funding relies on congressional earmarks (as opposed to funds requested in the Pentagon’s budget). Add 25 points if developmental funding relies on publicly traded stock. Add 30 points for developmental funding from intelligence agencies.

7) Incorporates references to and/or inspiration from Star Trek, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, or video games.

Add 10 points for Star Trek, 5 points for Star Wars, 3 points for Buck Rogers, and 2 points for video games (regardless whether XBox or Playstation II).

8) Inventor/company argues that people also once doubted the feasibility of a nuclear weapon, as if that automatically means that this weapon will work and/or is deserving of nearly unlimited funding.

Add 25 points. Also add 20 points if similar references are made to the Wright Brothers and airplanes.

9) Claims foreign countries are either working on this technology, and thus could overtake the United States if we don’t invest in it or buy it (without proof of such work).

Add 10 points for claiming Russia is working on the same type of weapons, 20 points for China, 30 points for North Korea, and 5 points for the French. Score extra 100 points if claim is that extraterrestrial life forms are working on it (in fact, stop now if that’s the case – trust me, that’s a stupid weapon).

10) Claims foreign governments have contacted inventor/company about buying the weapon and/or idea (but with no actual sales).

Add 10 points.

11) Relies on PowerPoint in lieu of engineering details to demonstrate workability.

Add 5 points for each cartoon depiction of technology not yet in existence.

12) Weapon introduces several more steps of complexity to solve a problem/threat that could be dealt with as, or almost as well, with a less technologically advanced solution.

Add five points for each new element of complexity.

13) Weapon can only be used under conditions that are unrealistic for most military operations (i.e. perfect weather, pristine storage facilities, readily available maintenance, etc.)

Add 30 points if the weapon has problems operating in the desert (due to sand or heat). Add 25 points for problems in cold weather, and 15 points for problems with water/rain, and 5 points if can’t be used at night (or can only used at night).

14) References to previous military/government funding as proof the idea is valid, because we all know the military only funds things that work.

Add 5 points.

15) When presented with possible scientific laws that the weapon – as proposed – might violate, inventor/company simply insists the technology works, and it’s up to the scientists to explain how.

Add 35 points.

16) Cost of the weapon (please include nonrecurring costs if the weapon doesn’t yet exist), exceeds that of similar one currently in inventory by a factor of 10.

Add 20 points for each factor of 10. Add another 5 points if you assert that costs will come down with mass production without being able to cite evidence for demand and/or how much those costs would be reduced.

17) Any proof the weapon works is openly paraded to the media, but questions about problems with the weapon are rebuffed by claims that the information is “classified” or “proprietary.”

Add 25 points.

18) Weapon creator/inventor ignores obvious, simple and/or inexpensive countermeasures that could render the system useless.

Add 25 points. Add 30 points if such countermeasures already exist, and 45 points if such countermeasures exist, and cost less than one-tenth of the system it’s designed to defeat.

…….Okay, what’s the weapon’s total score?

– Less than 50 points: Okay, it’s still possibly stupid, but there’s perhaps some hope for this weapon, so don’t give up yet.

– 50 - 100 points: Take another look at your VuGraph engineering. Does the world really need another death beam?

– More than 100 points: Yes, yes, it’s still in the high-risk, high-payoff category, but it’s teetering dangerously into the brink of very stupid ideas. 

– More than 200 points: Very few get up this high, and if the weapon is here, it’s in the fine company of purveyors of anti-matter and hafnium bombs. But don’t despair – this weapon may never end up in the hands of a soldier, but it could be fodder for future science fiction.