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Basic Laws of Human Stupidity (1976) (zoon.cc)
166 points by soldeace on Oct 10, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments



What makes a person stupid? If I have a friend who squanders their money while I save and build up wealth, are they stupid? What if they have a much happier and more fulfilling life than I do?

If you have a difficult job (like brain surgeon), but are terrible at most of the other parts of your life, does that make you stupid?

Are slow readers stupid? What if they invent a product or start a business that makes them a lot of money?

“Smart” and “stupid” are such harsh, black and white terms. They leave no room for the many shades of gray in between.

We all think we’re smart, even if we say we don’t. No one wants to be the dumb kid.

I feel like being “smart” usually just means you can think and process information a little bit faster than others. But like having a super fast cpu installed, it’s really a matter of what you do with it. You could write a bestselling novel on a slower computer. You could have a super computer and just go on Facebook all day.

It seems like every time I feel like I’m smart, I see someone who I thought was dumber who is more successful or happier than me, and I wonder if I was that much smarter in the first place.


One thing that really fascinates me is that stupidity is one of the few genetic handicaps that society considers acceptable to criticize and blame people for.

If a person gets hit by a bus because they have some muscular disorder which causes them to fall in front of it, we would have nothing but sympathy for them. If they get hit by a bus because they're too stupid to remember to look for traffic, most people would criticize them harshly for being stupid.

What's really amazing is that there's a cutoff point. If someone has an IQ of 90, you can blame them for all their stupid actions. I'd go so far as to say that not only can you, but it's expected. But if the person has an IQ of 70 suddenly everything changes, people become sympathetic, and blaming them for their own stupidity is super taboo.

To be clear, I'm not trying to pretend that I'm superior in this respect. I do this just like most of the people I see. But when I start thinking about it, I really can't figure out how it makes any sense.


We blame people for acting stupid, not for being stupid. As you mentioned, someone with an IQ of 90 or higher should have all the mental capacity to go about their day without causing chaos or running in front of a bus. But when they choose to act stupid, inconvenience others and possibly even endanger people, we have every right to blame them for that. If on the other hand a person has an IQ around 60 we can't expect them to navigate our complex society without any hiccups and consequently we try to help and understand instead of putting the full blame on them.


Perfect example. Somehow we see it as a people who "choose to act stupid," as if they can just will their brains into being more capable than they are.


You're leaning very hard into absolute genetic determinism of any and all actions, as if an otherwise intelligent person couldn't just be careless or not be paying attention and be hit by a bus (to use your example).

"Mentally handicapped" is generally considered to be where someone's capabilities are hindered to the point that they can't function in a normal autonomous way and perform basic life tasks. "Acting stupid" applies to people who don't have such a level of hindrance but are instead not reasonably utilizing the adequate faculties they do have.

So, back to your example: if you lack the capability to cross a street on your own, or to even understand what that means and why it can be dangerous, no one faults you if you are harmed. If you are capable of crossing a street and appreciate the danger but choose not to take proper care when doing so (e.g., you step out onto the street while texting and are struck by a bus), people fault you.

You seem to be making unsupported assumptions and conflating all sorts of things when it's really not complicated: was the person capable of understanding the situation and acting on that understanding?


You're right that smart people can sometimes act stupid, but there are so many situation where we blame people for their inherent intellectual failings.

For example, smart people frequently describe the lottery as "a tax on stupid people" in a sneering way. When people get taken by an obvious scam, we often place as much if not more blame on the victim as we do on the scammer. Or look at the Darwin Awards for numerous examples of people basically saying that others deserve death for being dumb.

Sure, there are examples where a smart person is negligent, we describe that as "stupid," and we rightfully blame them for the consequences. But there are many more examples where a dumb person doesn't understand that what they're doing won't work, it fails predictably, and we say they deserve it. Lotteries, scams (but I repeat myself), avoiding insurance or banks, and much more tend to fall into this category.

If someone got robbed because they had a bad leg and couldn't run away, we'd sympathize. If they got robbed because they had a bad brain and couldn't detect that this smooth-talking stranger was scamming them, we'd tell them they should stop being so stupid.


It's a fact that people sometimes choose to act stupid. I have chosen to act stupid in the past; and when I was reprimanded, I knew exactly why, and how I could've avoided it. I'm not talking about people who are less capable in their mental faculties. Of course nobody should blame someone who is actually mentally handicapped for "stupid actions", or for "acting stupid". That's exactly the difference I was talking about.


Why do you assume that a fairly stupid person is choosing to act stupid, but an extremely stupid person is not? "Mentally handicapped" is an arbitrary line we draw in the continuum of intelligence.


I didn't realize an IQ of 90 was "fairly stupid" nowadays. I actually meant that as an example for a "smart enough" person. Of course one has to draw the line somewhere, and of course there will be false positives and false negatives; but what else can one do? It's the same for e.g. illness; at which point does a doctor allow a patient to stay home from work? He has to draw the line somewhere. There will be cases when he's too strict and a genuinely ill person is forced to work or use a vacation day; and there will be cases when he's too lenient and a perfectly healthy, simulating person can relax at home. I wouldn't argue that we should give everyone unlimited sick days without a proper diagnosis, which, again, might include false positives/negatives.


100 is average, and the average person is pretty dumb.

Why does there have to be a line drawn anywhere? We don't do this for other disabilities. We don't blame someone with a mild limp but sympathize with someone missing a leg. Why do we blame dumb people for their dumbness, but only if they're not too dumb?

Again, I'm not trying to set myself apart here. I do it too. I just don't really get why.


But we can blame a person with perfectly functioning legs if they pretend to have a limp and e.g. cause a congestion in a subway station. The line should be between "having trouble walking" and "being able to walk just fine", not somewhere on the spectrum between a limp and a missing leg. Same with intelligence, there should be a line above which a person should be able to act normally (as opposed to stupidly). I'm not trying to make a distinction according to the severity of mental disabilities, but between having one and not having one; between purposefully or negligently acting "stupid", and having no other choice. Which, again, can never be done without error; so some people will be unfairly blamed or the other way around. But the alternative is to just accept any kind of stupid behaviour, even from people who have the option to behave better.

>Why do we blame dumb people for their dumbness, but only if they're not too dumb?

Adding to what I wrote above: Ideally we shouldn't blame "dumb" people at all, just relatively smart, or normal, people who act dumb. I will agree though that we (myself included) often do exactly what you described, blaming dumb people, which is wrong in my opinion. "Dumb people" should be understood, educated and/or supported, not blamed.


"act normally (as opposed to stupidly)"

This might be the root of our disagreement. I don't see these as being in opposition at all. Stupidity is normal.


I bet it isn't arbitrary. It isn't possible to train IQ70s in a human lifespan, cost effectively, but it is possible to do so for IQ90s.


Train to do what? There are tasks people with severe mental disabilities can still be trained to do, and there are tasks that anyone who isn't a six-sigma genius can't be trained to do.


If you assume that most "stupid" people could avoid these situations if they tried harder and that social pressure to not "be stupid" causes people to act harder to not appear stupid, then it makes sense. (Both of those assumptions may be suspect, but the logic is okay.) This also makes sense of your IQ cutoff observation: some people may not be able to compensate for it with any amount of work or may not be able to understand social pressure.


From the text:

  "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."
I think all of your examples give the person some gain, or causes good to others.


This looks like a hint on a whole possible matrix:

- Personal gain, others' gain: "good businessman".

- Personal gain, others' loss: "evil".

- Personal loss, others' gain: "benefactor" / "saint".

- Personal loss, others' loss: "stupid".


Number 3 is called helpless for a reason. Even saints typically attempt to maximize gain, helpless do not - they tend to minimize loss instead.

In fact I would say many if not most people are helpless. This is part H1. Part H2 is the benefactor.

Likewise part I1 which is upper left triangle of I would be the inventor, scientist or good reformer. (They benefit but society benefits more). Bottom right of I would be good businessman. (Their own benefit is higher than society.) Top right B2 would be exploitative businessman. (Society loses a bit but the businessman gains a lot.)

As per political systems, capitalism attempts to promote rightmost two quadrants. Socialism (not Stalinism) attempts to penalize bottom half.

Essentially the full graph would be a square with a 45º rotated square inside. The stupid have two categories too - unnecessary cutting corners and messing up for minimal immediate gain with net loss (shortsighted) - top right of stupid quadrant - and plain old danger to society.


The textual definition is slightly off: there are stupid people who cause no loss to anyone but themselves†. Think of stupid people doing stupid things you can see on gifs and youtube where their attempt at doing something ranges from extremely unlikely to completely impossible to achieve in a very obvious way combined with a strong likeliness that Things Go Wrong in a very immediate and physical way. So the value on the Y axis (loss to other) can be zero.

I posit a better definition of stupidity that includes a lack of foresight of "obvious"†† damaging consequences would be more appropriate. A corollary would be Einstein's possibly apocryphal definition of insanity.

† OK unless the guy lives in the most remote area, there will probably be emergency services involved.

†† What's obvious to one may not be obvious to another, and it's a common mistake to conflate lack of knowledge with lack of foresight. We should strive to be kind in our expectations, yet the fact remains that some people are profoundly stupid to the point of being survivally challenged.


Based on that description, stupid people are very, very rare.

This is a classic case of "There are almost no irrational people." Or phrased in a way my mentors would put it: If you call someone irrational, you are being lazy and not trying to understand them.


I find it very difficult to buy the idea that a person is characteristically stupid. People does things like described by the definition all the time. It's called mistakes. Some people are ignorant sure. But my guess is that even the most ignorant person is not an idiot most of the time.


This is stated in article too.

> When confronted for the first time with the Third Basic Law, rational people instinctively react with feelings of skepticism and incredulity.

> Most people do not act consistently. [...] We can calculate for each person his weighted average position in the plane of figure 1 quite independently from his degree of inconsistency.


Yeah well it's also stated that

> 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


I thought this article was written by Nassim Taleb initially but it sounded too harsh even for him.

Like the author of this article, Taleb also discusses stupid people in several of his books... Often drawing attention to "the educated idiot" which is basically a person who is highly educated, knows a lot of stuff and who is perhaps productive or successful in society but they get caught up in social thinking trends (group think) instead of coming up with their own conclusions - So in essence, you could say that these people don't actually think; they just mindlessly follow popular opinion - Therefore they're idiots.

For example, if I did not see any irony in what I've just written above, then it's possible I could be an idiot too; mindlessly paraphrasing a thought leader...


Mindlessly because you said so. You could've just agreed with him and be thoughtful.

Let's say you have an ideal world where everyone reaches their own conclusions. Could you not have consensus then?


Yes I think that reaching consensus is great if it is reached through individual critical thinking.

Unfortunately, people have a tendency to accept ideas via mere osmosis; if something is repeated often and with a loud enough voice, eventually most people will accept it as fact.

Most people tend to blindly trust things that are popular (loud voice). It's flock behavior.


Is it true that the article is written by Taleb? Where do you get the information?


"If I have a friend who squanders their money while I save and build up wealth, are they stupid?"

No, they are probably "helpless". If they actually have a more fulfilling life then they may be "intelligent".

The distinguishing feature of "stupid" people in this typology is that they are the ones who cause grief to others with no gain to themselves. This is not the same as being unintelligent; the intro to the article points out that nobel laureates are just as likely to be stupid as anyone else.


Seems like such a strange way to define stupidity to me, and why I wasn't a fan of how the paper defined things. Why does it depend on causing grief to others?

I think the CPU analogy is more apt. Some people have faster processors, some have slower ones, but what actually matters is what you do with it.

I know "smart" people who are living at home with their parents doing nothing with their lives, and I know "stupid" people who own successful businesses. That's my problem with the terms, and why I think it depends way more on what you do with your circumstances, rather than the circumstances you were born into.


What alternative names would you propose?


I don't have a good solution. I just know I don't like how the article defines stupid/intelligent, and that "stupid/smart" have a lot more (often hurtful) connotations than what they really mean.

But then you have the problem of going down the PC rabbit hole where you can't say anything about whether someone is smart or not, and have to live in a pretend world where everyone is the same intelligence even though they're not. So that's no good either.


> What makes a person stupid? If I have a friend who squanders their money while I save and build up wealth, are they stupid?

By the definition of the article, they're likely "helpless" actually.

A stupid person, by the definition of the article, is somebody who manages to consistently destroy gains in most situations. They either hurt the opponent without any gain to themselves, or hurt the opponent while simultaneously hurting themselves.

I think the "colloquial" use of the word "stupid" lines up to the definition of "Helpless" in this article. "Helpless" people hurt themselves while the opponent typically takes advantage of them.

> Are slow readers stupid? What if they invent a product or start a business that makes them a lot of money?

That makes them either a Bandit (someone who is taking money from other people without giving much in return), or Intelligent (someone who manages to take money but do so in such a way to benefit the opponent).

---------------

This "stupid" article is all about four different kinds of people:

1. Intelligent people -- Both sides of a transaction benefit.

2. Bandits -- They benefit, the opponent loses.

3. Helpless -- They tend to lose, while the opponent benefits.

4. Stupid -- Both sides lose, somehow.

The article suggests that most people are either a Bandit or are Helpless... and furthermore, that a good system needs to be designed to consider the effects of "Stupid" people who manage to screw both themselves AND opponents over.


This is an analogy that I've run across in my own thinking, too. I feel like it's an example of Fundamental Attribution Bias or something.

Instead of thinking of people as static personalities with properties like smart vs. dumb or agressive vs. passive, I try to think of people as minds reacting to some local environment. It's just personal anecdote, but I'm told that my ability to read people is really on point, and I attribute that to avoiding "personality profiles" in my thinking as much as possible.


The definition of stupidity is "being lack of intelligence", and the definition of intelligence is "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills".

So maybe a stupid person can only be detected by observing said person during a period of time and measuring the ability to learn from mistakes and update behavior. If the variation on behavior is zero we can say we spotted a stupid person. But, if the variation is positive we are dealing with somebody "learning" and maybe we can "help".


Consider the term, "idiot".

The literal meaning (greek?) is "one who lives in a private world of their own".


You can also consider the case where you have a super fast CPU but are using poor algorithms. That's why I think the terms 'smart' and 'stupid' are fairly useless in practice.


Well said!


There are lots of strategies which are rational, non-stupid, in a specific context but irrational & stupid if context is expanded. Eg. Paying it forward by advising a sociopath, working on something interesting despite it being damaging, not being religious because its illogical even if being religious makes you feel/act better.

A better general definition of stupidity as a non-rational strategy would be "taking an action in deliberate ignorance of context". Not "taking a non-rational action". Root contexts are pretty simple and almost universally agreed "don't be an ass to others", "aim for happiness". If you don't ensure your action within context is rational, your being stupid.

Obviously its difficult in many scenarios to grasp the larger context, but if we promoted this definition we would as a society optimise for core ethics and be less apt to being manipulated by a minority.

Rationalism, about as useful as a piece of string is long :P


> not being religious because its illogical even if being religious makes you feel/act better.

It's not exactly a choice. I for the life of me just can't start believing one or another unfounded story, because there's no basis to choose which story to believe. Even taking into account prevalent beliefs of the society as a basis, I can't imagine what kind of mental stunt I need to perform to promote probability of the hypothesis to one. Deep brain stimulation could probably work, but it's too risky.


I guess it doesn't make you feel better then :) Its subjective, but some can take comfort in rituals and beliefs that rely on a certain amount of doublethink.

PS I don't think you need to compare and contrast, just go with say an interesting one like Jedi (lots in England according to the census) and see how it goes!


"Obviously its difficult in many scenarios to grasp the larger context, but if we promoted this definition we would as a society optimise for core ethics and be less apt to being manipulated by a minority."

Doesn't this mean that you already believe that we need to be first manipulated by the minority that holds the definition you advocate, since that definition is not already generally held? And if your definition is generally held you lose your complaint, don't you?

To be fair, I think your point about the importance of correct context is completely valid. I just don't think minority vs. majority is a factor. Failing to think, or not knowing how to think, rationally and independently puts you at the mercy of wrong minority, or majority, opinion.


Good point.


Rather than asserting that the laws of stupidity are an inherent characteristic of people, I think it would be more useful or productive to apply the laws to human actions instead. So the third law would be something like:

A stupid action is anything that causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while the executor of action derives no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

The laws could serve as a heuristic for people who consistently perform stupid actions, and reconsider their position from being a plague to something (better?) like a bloodsucking parasite. Admittedly, the laws of stupidity seem to be in conflict with the laws of conservation. Then again, This comment probably qualifies as an act of stupidity.


One might also usefully characterise social institutions thus. Also technologies. (For instance tetra-ethyl lead in gasoline is in the bandit quadrant, as are cigarettes).


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

I think it's very arrogant and pretentious to call other people 'stupid' and I try to refrain from doing it. We all know people who are much smarter than us, surely we must sound stupid to them. Besides, one can be stupid for one thing (say mathematics) and shine for something else (raising kids or playing the trumpet).

That being said, I can't help thinking a lot of people are stupid, especially when I read news or youtube comments. It's amazing how so many people can be dumb, mean, uneducated and bitter.


> We all know people who are much smarter than us, surely we must sound stupid to them [...]

I believe you misunderstood the article, because the "stupid" it discusses isn't relative. Quite the contrary: the third (and golden) basic law states that

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.


While that's very kind of you, I don't know how you've come to think that life is devoid of the unfortunate - some people are simply stupid.


This manual, as I may call it, is hilarious. But its usefulness cannot be discounted. The first rule while dealing with people is "Individuals are who they are." And if in the past you had an encounter with someone who fits the label of "stupid", as described by these laws, then there is a high chance that the person is going to display stupidity even in the foreseeing future.

As a friend of mine once remarked in Hindi-- "Once a chutiya, always a chutiya." (Translation ) "Once a stupid, always a stupid"


I have never met a stupid person. Unwise, thoughtless, ignorant, uncouth, vain, angry - yes. Stupid no. I have never met someone I believed I could not make understand something, if I articulated it in the right way. I never met someone who, if confronted with a wrong action was intellectually incapable of understanding what was wrong: emotionally yes, but not intellectually.

I think stupid is just an inaccurate term and being pejorative brings little to any understanding of a situation or a person.


Really, truly? The interesting question to me is then: why not? Or how? There are many individuals on the planet who, through no fault of their own, have severely limited mental capacity. You've never met one?


I have met people with mental disability, who would have had significant limits on their intellectual capabilities, but I didn't consider them stupid.

If it helps to clarify: I can't explain relational databases to someone who doesn't have basic numeracy and you can't explain (say) quantum mechanics to me and the hyper-intelligent aliens can't explain ?$%>$£DDDD to you...but none of us in that chain are stupid. And all of us with sufficient power of articulation can convey the elements of those things to each other that matter to the person within their context.


But that's quite circular. I have never found a cup that would overspill, if not poured to beyond its capacity. I think I understand the sympathy you're trying to convey, and the insight that you should try to explain things to the capacity of the other people. It's a mine field of perceived ability and all, but yeah.


Well then the other way to look at it is that we are all stupid. The point I'm making is that the term itself does not mean what its users intend it to mean. It is actually a way of excusing our own lack of ability to communicate in a meaningful way.


It's not that a certain percentage of people are stupid. It's that no matter how intelligent people are, they are very inconsistent about what they apply their intelligence to and there's always going to be some super intelligent idiot who doesn't have his head in the game and fucks shit up for everyone else because he wasn't paying attention to the right things.


Unfortunately this is a taboo subject so no one can talk about it candidly (hence: satire).


That's because intelligence is way overvalued.

With very little scientific proof.

Shh.

(Amusingly clever essay, though.)


Worth remembering that Carlo M. Cipolla made up his middle name :)

What is the M. of Carlo M. Cipolla (1922-2000)? No, it's not for Maria, as everyone believes and as Wikipedia also reports. So is it for Mario? Do not be bothered. It just stands for nothing at all.

Or, better, it stands for itself. "M." is the initial that the author (...) made up just to fill the "middle name" box on the modules at the University of Berkeley where he moved in the 1950s.

(quick translation from http://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/cultura/2011-10-21/irresistib...)


I feel this is one thing that differentiate the European political cultures and the US political culture.

In Europe I feel we do better understand that people are stupid (in general). They won't insure their health, they'll kill you for $50, they won't pay the price for an education.

That's why we don't have guns, we have mostly free healthcare and universities.

In the US, I feel you guys hope or would like that people would NOT be stupid and do smart things on a general basis.

But that's not the case.

What if all side of the US political system could agree on this? People are fucking stupid, let's make more rules and put more systems and programs in place that take this into account.


I see your point but it also implies that Europe breeds the stupid while US allows them to extract themselves from the gene pool.. not a very nice perspective for me (as an European)


According to the article, extracting stupid people from the gene pool won't affect the ratio of stupid people present in society. σ remains constant no matter what.


Yes good point. Now, in the US, some of the stupids seem to extract a lot of other/innocent people from the gene pool with them...


I'll let Sarah Constantin make this argument for me: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/in-defense-of-... :)


I think individualism is a respectable philosophy. Thank you for sharing this article.

I think however that a reasonable person would also consider that social policies may have great benefits for herself as an individual.

For example:

- If stupids don't have access to war weapons, maybe it will be more difficult for them to mass murder ME.

- If the stupids have to vaccinate and can get healthcare, maybe they won't spread viruses and diseases to ME.

- If the stupids have a degree maybe they can create value instead of ruining ME through welfare taxes.


I would question the last one. Stupid people with an education can cause havoc.

Possibly related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_von_Hammerstein-Equord#Cl...


What happens when the two characteristics of clever and stupid are combined? I'm far from certain this combination is impossible.


Tribal societies have many stories of such individuals, think Coyote or Loki. Clever stupid people are constantly falling into elaborate traps of their own making.


Some people like to see the world burn. [insert joker meme]


Interesting though, thank you.

So we have to invent a universal income targeted at stupid people. Like a "Please stay idle" type income :)


I think the US response would be, "we don't want stupid people making laws the rest of us have to follow".

At least in theory. In practice of course, stupid bandits make laws all the time.


I know the OP is not the author, and this edit is about 30 years late. However, the quote "With stupidity and sound digestion, man may front much" should apparently be attributed to Thomas Carlyle, not Dickens: https://quotefancy.com/quote/917262/Thomas-Carlyle-With-stup...


Does anybody have a year for it? I went with 2009 via https://web.archive.org/web/20090601000000*/http://www.zoon.... but it feels like it might be older, especially as the author had been dead for 9 years.

Edit: a comment (now deleted) helpfully pointed out the Whole Earth Review, Spring 1987 reference at the bottom. Thanks!

Previously: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=Basic%20Laws%20of%20Human%20St.... Interesting annotation by pg at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=817703.

Url changed from http://harmful.cat-v.org/people/basic-laws-of-human-stupidit..., which points to this.


Wikipedia page of the author [1] claims it was circulated among the friends in 1976 (English) and published in 1988 (Italian).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_M._Cipolla


Yes, it is a "classic", and actually the linked to online version (with the illustrations) is (besides being not complete) somehow much worse (IMHO) than the original, which is a very plain booklet where the cartesian diagrams are less distracting, here it is (from archive.org), the PDF is an actual scan of the booklet:

https://archive.org/details/The_Basic_Laws_of_Human_Stupidit...

More history about the Author and the book is here: http://gandalf.it/stupid/cipoleng.htm


You're probably right about that; such framing has a huge effect on how a text is perceived. But I think in this case having a normal web page might be more important.


Thank you!


> I made a special point to extend my research to a specially selected group... The result confirmed Nature's supreme powers: σ fraction of the Nobel laureates are stupid.

I mean... okay. I would like to know both what the definition of "stupid" is here and what this study actually consists of. Also I'm pretty sure using "We all recollect occasions..." as your main supporting evidence is several logical fallacies rolled into one.

Is this satire? Am I missing the joke? If the main point is that stupidity is a product of nature and can't be changed by experience there needs to be a lot more evidence to back it up.


As defined by "The third (and golden) basic law":

"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."

These are absolute laws, no need to see the studies =P


Not sure if I should take these laws seriously, but the difficulty is in defining a loss versus a gain.

For example, the old "I'm taking you down with me" is often driven out of spite or vindictiveness. Maybe it's stupid, but maybe not? If you get pleasure out of it, is it a loss?


I'td be in the lower bandit category (the personal gain is significantly less than loss to the other person). The definition of loss is intuitively simple I think: you would have preferred that nothing had happened instead. Vice versa for gains, and then its matter of degrees. With total gain/loss to society scaling the intelligence axis

The stupid man would take down the other without meaning to; he gets nothing out of the event, and he brought significant loss upon his neighbors. The key being that this was without intention; that is, he poses a threat to himself, and everyone around him, by virtue of his normal character.


Speaking of intelligence, from my brief thirty-year existence, I've observed that self-reflection and creativity are positively correlated with intelligence. I haven't tested out this theory, but I believe r = 0.75.


fwiw, pearson coefficients completely ignore non-linear effects.. make of that what thou wilt, regarding intelligence, self-reflection (irrelevant but it would be nice if we called self-reflection reflexivity, imo) and creativity :P


If you like this, try http://www.thedevilsdictionary.com/. Less PC, but also hilarious in places.


The author, Carlo M. Cipolla, was an Italian economic historian, a professor at U.C. Berkeley. The article is from a small (71 page) book, available in paperback and Kindle.


Is this thesis intentionally ironic? What exactly is the utility?

On a human level, loss and gain are subjective. The definition of a "stupid" person therefore requires complete context and access to their subjective state.

Therefore this doesn't provide any gain to the "intelligent" person to help resolve the situation.

However, from the perspective of a potential stupid person who is by definition self-destructive, when they read this thesis, their reaction at best will be neutral, and at worst cause them to become destructive.

So, to recap, this essay provides no gain, but does create potential loss.

In which category would that place this essay?

Q.E.D.


The category you're looking for is 'humour'.

You may not find it funny, but that was it's intent.


original url: http://web.archive.org/web/20130216132858/http://www.cantrip...

with a bit more background and drama


THIS is the shit. Very hilarious and weirdly very relatable to my life ??


Not much of a reasonable writing ... what would it help????




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