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Stupid People: A Primer

QZ

The five universal laws of human stupidity

The five universal laws of human stupidity

qz.com

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The Numbers

Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

No matter how many idiots you suspect yourself surrounded by, you are invariably lowballing the total. This problem is compounded by biased assumptions that certain people are int...

Nothing Else Matters

Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Stupidity is a variable that remains constant across all populations. Every category one can imagine—gender, race, nationality, education level, income—possesses a fixe...

The Golden Law Of Stupidity

Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

A stupid person is one who causes problems for others without any clear benefit to himself.

The uncle unable to stop hims...

Stupidity Vs Non-Stupidity

There are three phenotypes that co-exist alongside stupidity.

First, there is the intelligent person, whose actions benefit both himself and others. Then there is the bandit, who benefits himself at others’ expense. And lastly, there is the

The Non-Stupid

The non-stupid are a flawed and inconsistent bunch. Sometimes we act intelligently, sometimes we are selfish bandits, sometimes we act helplessly and are taken advantage of by others, and sometimes we’re a bit of both. The stupid, in comparison, are paragons of consistency, acting at all times wi...

Unreasonable Behaviour

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 ...

A Costly Mistake

Law 4: 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, dealing and/or associating with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

We can do nothing about the stupid. The difference between societies that collapse under the weight of their stupid citizens and those who transcend them is the makeu...

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created 20 ideas

In 1976, Carlo M. Cipolla, professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley published an essay outlining the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as humanity’s greatest existential threat: Stupidity. We (still) grossly underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril.

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