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Archive for May 30th, 2019

“The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity” by Carlo M. Cipolla

Posted by te2ataria on May 30, 2019

Foreword: “Stupid people as a group are by far more powerful than major criminal organizations such as the Mafia, or the Military Industrial Complex…”

Stupidity is defined as a lack of intelligence, reason, understanding, wit, or common sense…

Sent by a “genius” in the “University” of Otago

This presentation is a summary of original text posted at http://www.zoon.cc/stupid/

Humans fall into four basic categories: The helpless, the intelligent, the bandit and the stupid

The first basic law of human stupidity

The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

The second basic law

The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

The third (and golden) basic law

The Third Basic Law assumes, although it does not state it explicitly, that human beings fall into four basic categories: the helpless, the intelligent, the bandit and the stupid.

As the Third Basic Law explicitly clarifies:

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Frequency distribution

Most people do not act consistently. Under certain circumstances a given person acts intelligently and under different circumstances the same person will act helplessly. The only important exception to the rule is represented by the stupid people who normally show a strong proclivity toward perfect consistency in all fields of human endeavours.

The power of stupidity

It is not difficult to understand how social, political and institutional power enhances the damaging potential of a stupid person. But one still has to explain and understand what essentially it is that makes a stupid person dangerous to other people – in other words what constitutes the power of stupidity.

Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behaviour. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit’s actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit’s actions, his nasty manoeuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy. Because the stupid person’s actions do not conform to the rules of rationality. . .

It’s in your genes, stupid!

The Ass in the School. Social protest engraving by Pieter Breughel the Elder, 1556. Caption translation: “Even if the Ass goes to School to learn, he will not return as a horse.”

The fourth basic law

In summary, Fourth Basic Law which states that:

Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

Through centuries and millennia, in public as in private life, countless individuals have failed to take account of the Fourth Basic Law and the failure has caused mankind incalculable losses.

The fifth basic law

Instead of considering the welfare of the individual let us consider the welfare of the society, regarded in this context as the algebraic sum of the individual conditions. A full understanding of the Fifth Basic Law is essential to the analysis. It may be parenthetically added here that of the Five Basic Laws, the Fifth is certainly the best known and its corollary is quoted very frequently. The Fifth Basic Law states that:

A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

The corollary of the Law is that:

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

Notes from original article:

There is genius at work in this thesis. It came round about by way of reader Sam Keen, who sent to the UK a thin gray monograph printed anonymously in mid-1986 in Bologna, Italy. The trail eventually led to Carlo M. Cipolla, the author, who was Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley but, alas died in 2000 and left behind a bunch of (half-American) offsprings… who promptly tried to scrap money out of everything he had written, even if -as in the case of this small text- clearly earmarked and STATED by the Author in its 1986 version as intended for the public domain (and yes, stated again in 1992, despite having re-published this text in 1988, slightly modified, in his “Allegro ma non troppo” copyrighted collection).
This copy comes from Whole Earth Review (Spring 1987 pp 2 – 7) and is anyway easy to find all over the web and/or on any webarchive facility à la “wayback machine”.
There isn’t of course, nor cannot be, any valid patent or bogus “copyright” on this work that Professor Cipolla personally WANTED to have in the public domain and incidentally BECAUSE OF ITS VERY OPEN SPREADING is the only one that has made -and still makes- him famous all over the web.
We firmly believe that this belongs into any reality cracker’s quiver, and that the best honor to the Author and the best chance that anyone will “buy” his other texts (frankly also equally easy to find in many “grey” areas of Internet, but way less interesting) is to allow this nice little essay to be spread around as originally clearly intended by Professor Cipolla himself.

This presentation is a summary of original text posted at http://www.zoon.cc/stupid/


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