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.
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.
"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?
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.
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.
>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.
This might be the root of our disagreement. I don't see these as being in opposition at all. Stupidity is normal.
"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."
- Personal gain, others' gain: "good businessman".
- Personal gain, others' loss: "evil".
- Personal loss, others' gain: "benefactor" / "saint".
- Personal loss, others' loss: "stupid".
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
> 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
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...
Let's say you have an ideal world where everyone reaches their own conclusions. Could you not have consensus then?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
The literal meaning (greek?) is "one who lives in a private world of their own".
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a friend of mine once remarked in Hindi-- "Once a chutiya, always a chutiya."
(Translation ) "Once a stupid, always a stupid"
I think stupid is just an inaccurate term and being pejorative brings little to any understanding of a situation or a person.
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.
With very little scientific proof.
(Amusingly clever essay, though.)
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 think however that a reasonable person would also consider that social policies may have great benefits for herself as an individual.
- 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.
Possibly related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_von_Hammerstein-Equord#Cl...
So we have to invent a universal income targeted at stupid people. Like a "Please stay idle" type income :)
At least in theory. In practice of course, stupid bandits make laws all the time.
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.
More history about the Author and the book is here:
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 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.
"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
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?
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.
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?
You may not find it funny, but that was it's intent.
with a bit more background and drama