Publius Archive

'Now With Attenuated Live Thought Viruses'

WARNING:

INFORMATION FOR PHILOSOPHICAL USE ONLY!

Always use inflammatory information in a well

ventilated area and wear protective headgear

when conducting dangerous thought-experiments.

Information not good after curfew in

Sectors 'R' or 'M.'

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY

I just want to make it clear that this is one of the most brilliant treatise ever written. It even uses some fairly sophisticated game theory before it's through. Funny as it is, I swear to God it explains it all- read the whole thing!...



THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY
by Carlo M. Cipolla
illustrations by James Donnelly

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

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

Stupid Person No. 1At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are ones estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:

a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.

b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in ones activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol å.

More...