Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens

To complement the " Systemantics" perspective of Gall, it is appropriate to note the existence of a charming publication by a professor of international economics, Carlo M Cipolla. The editors are indebted to the network of the Association for the Promotion of Humour in Intemational Affairs for informing us of its existence. It has been privately printed under the following title:

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

"Human affairs are admittedly in a deplorable state. This, however, is no novelty. As far back as we can see, human affairs have always been in a deplorable state... After Darwin we know that we share our origin with the lower members of the animal kingdom, and worms as well as elephants have to bear their daily share of trials, predicaments, and ordeals. Human beings, however, are privileged in so far as they have to bear an extra load - an extra dose of tribulations originated daily by a group of people within the human race itself. This... is an unorganised unchartered group which has no chief, no president, no bylaws and yet manages to operate in perfect unison, as if guided by an invisible hand, in such a way that the activity of each member powerfully contributes to strenghten and amplify the effectiveness of the activity of all other members. The nature, character and behaviour of the members of this group are the subject of the following pages" (page 5)

Cipolla's Five Basic Laws are:

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

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

3. 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.

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 to deal and/or associate with stupid people infallibly turns out to be a costly mistake.

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

The author demonstrates that stupidity is an indiscriminate privilege of all human groups, irrespective of race, class, creed or level of education (including Nobel laureates). It is uniformly distributed according to a constant proportion. He notes: .. The underdeveloped of the Third World will probably take solace at the Second Basic Law as they can find in it the proof that after all the developed are not so developed".

Unfortunately, Cipolla fails to consider how the world would function without "stupid people". For without the problems they create, there would be nothing for the "non-stupid" people to do. Every action requires an equal and opposite reaction!

Carlo M Cipolla. The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. Bologna, The Mad Millers (Imola, Italy, Grafiche Galeati) 1976, 30 p.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

For further updates on this site, subscribe here