The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
by Carlo M. Cipolla, Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley
in Whole Earth Review, Spring 1987
THE FIRST BASIC LAW: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
- people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.
- day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.
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: A stupid person is a person who caused losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
THE FOURTH BASIC LAW: 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 costly mistake.
THE FIFTH BASIC LAW: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
In a country which is moving downhill, the fraction of stupid people is still equal tos; however in the remaining population one notices among those in power an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity (sub-are B2 of quadrant B in figure 3) and among those not in power an equally alarming growth in the number of helpless individuals (are H in basic graph, fig. 1). Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the s fraction and makes decline a certainty. And the country goes to Hell.
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