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
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.