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Laws of Human Stupidity Cheat Sheet by

Stupid people as a group

The Laws of Human Stupidity

Always and inevitably everyone undere­sti­mates the number of stupid indivi­duals in circul­ation.
The probab­ility that a certain person will be stupid is indepe­ndent of any other charac­ter­istic of that person.
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.
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 always turns out to be a costly mistake.
A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
Corollary: a stupid person is more dangerous than a pillager.

The Dual Factors of Human Behaviour (Self,­Others)

Benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself.
Benefits and losses that an individual causes to others.
Lets represent the combin­ations 2x2 of factors (Self, Other) in cuadrants as (win,win), (win, lose), (lose, win) and (lose, lose)
(win,win) Intell­igent
Who contribute to society and who leverage their contri­butions into reciprocal benefits
(win,lose) Bandits
Who pursue their own self-i­nterest even when doing so poses a net detriment to societal welfare
(lose,win) Helpless
Who contribute to society but are taken advantage of by it (and especially by the "­ban­dit­" sector of it)
(lose,­lose) Stupid people
Whose efforts are counte­rpr­odu­ctive to both their and others' interests
Note about (lose, win) Extreme altruists and pacifists may willingly and consci­ously (rather than helple­ssly) accept a place in this category for moral or ethical reasons.
There is a 5th category repres­ented as (0,0) of ineffe­ctual people.

Coroll­aries First Law, by Giancarlo Livraghi

In each of us there is a factor of stupidity, which is always larger than we suppose
When the stupidity of one person combines with the stupidity of others, the impact grows geomet­rically – i.e. by multip­lic­ation, not addition, of the individual stupidity factors
The combin­ation of intell­igence in different people is more difficult than the combin­ation of stupidity
See Also: A Short Introd­uction to the History of Human Stupidity by Walter B. Pitkin

About Stupidity

Comes from the Latin verb stupere, for being numb or astoni­shed, and is related to stupor.
Stupidity is a quality or state of being stupid, or an act or idea that exhibits properties of being stupid.
James F. Welles defines: The term may be used to designate a mentality which is considered to be informed, deliberate and malada­ptive
Wilfred Bion considered that psycho­logical projection created a barrier against learning anything new, and thus its own form of pseudo­-st­upidity
Otto Fenichel: People become stupid ad hoc, that is, when they do not want to unders­tand, where unders­tanding would cause anxiety or guilt feeling, or would endanger an existing neurotic equili­brium
Jung: it requires no art to become stupid; the whole art lies in extracting wisdom from stupidity. Stupidity is the mother of the wise, but cleverness never
Welles distin­guishes stupidity from ignorance; one must know they are acting in their own worst interest. Secondly, it must be a choice, not a forced act or accident. Lastly, it requires the activity to be malada­ptive, in that it is in the worst interest of the actor, and specif­ically done to prevent adaption to new data or existing circum­stances

Kurt von Hammer­ste­in-­Equord

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two charac­ter­istics are combined. Some are clever and diligent - their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy, they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intell­ectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent - he must not be entrusted with any respon­sib­ility because he will always cause only mischief
Kurt Freiherr von Hammer­ste­in-­Equord (26 September 1878 – 24 April 1943) was a German general who served for a period as Comman­der­-in­-Chief of the German Army. He was an ardent opponent of Hitler and the Nazi regime.

The Three Friends of Stupidity

Ignorance · Fear · Habit
From Part Four of “The Power of Stupidity” by Giancarlo Livraghi 2002

Albert Einstein's Quote

Albert Einstein
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the former quote in Gestalt Therapy Verbatim by Frederick S. Perls.

Carlo M. Cipolla

Carlo M. Cipolla (August 15, 1922 – September 5, 2000) Italian economic historian
Published (in Italian) the title Allegro ma non troppo (1988) The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Stupid people act as a group, more powerful by far than major organi­zations such as the mafia and the military industrial complex, which without regula­tions, leaders or manifesto noneth­eless manages to operate to great effect and with incredible coordi­nation


Hanlon's razor
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity
Occam's razor
Among competing hypoth­eses, the one with the fewest assump­tions should be selected
Dunnin­g-K­ruger effect
Occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specif­ically, their incomp­etence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. (people who are too stupid to know how stupid they are)
Impostor Syndrome
Competent people tend to undere­stimate their ability compared to others
Not Enough Know
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A small amount of knowledge can mislead a person into thinking that they're an expert because this small amount of knowledge isn't a well known fact
Ignorance Confidence
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge
Poe's Law
Without a clear indication of the author's intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.
Peter's Principle
Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it (Laurence J. Peter)
Hatchett's Principle
Real stupidity beats artificial intell­igence every time
Hanlon's razor is essent­ially a special case of Occam's razor (or Lex Parsim­onae)
Recomended Lectures: http:/­/ga­nda­lf.i­t/­stu­pid­/st­upi­d.htm
Video John Cleese on Stupidity: https:­//y­out­u.b­e/w­vVP­dyYeaQU

How Not To Look Stupid

A study offers a scientific answer.
Balázs Aczél, a psychology professor at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest is a co-author of a study, Aczél and his colleagues gathered 180 pieces of writing from the news, blog sites, and social media deemed as "­­st­u­p­id­­"

Resear­­chers noticed 3 different types of behaviors most often deemed as stupid.
Their statis­­tical analysis of the data found that people regard stupid action in three different catego­­ries:

(1) not mainta­­ining a balance between confidence and abilities
(2) failures of attention
(3) lack of control

Examples of the 3 catego­ries:

1. Overco­nfi­dence
Aczél term is "­con­fident ignora­nce­," when someone is overco­nfident about their ability to do something. A driver refuses to ask for direct­ions, and end up lost.
2. Lack of control
On a diet but buys cookies in the grocery store "just in case."
3. Absent­-mi­nde­dness
Your mind is wandering or thinking in other thing. Crash!!!

Resear­chers noted that more is needed to determine how much of their findings are influenced by culture and shared expect­ations.

The level of observed stupidity was dependent on the level of respon­­si­b­ility and the conseq­­uences of the action.
Published in Intell­igence
Volume 53, Novemb­er–­Dec­ember 2015, Pages 51-58

Bonhoe­ffer’s Theory of Stupidity

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian under the Nazi regime. He spent in prison for speaking against the Nazi regime. Thinking about was happening in Germany he came to the conclusion that "the root of the problem was not malice, but stupid­ity."
Evil can be exposed and fought against. Against stupidity we are defens­eless.
"­Stu­pidity is not an intell­ectual defect­", says Bonhoe­ffer, "but a moral one. There are educated stupid people and wise uneducated people­".

“We note further that people who have isolated themselves from others or who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than indivi­duals or groups of people inclined or condemned to sociab­ility. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psycho­logical than a sociol­ogical problem.”

“It is a particular form of the impact of historical circum­stances on human beings, a psycho­logical concom­itant of certain external condit­ions. Upon closer observ­ation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupid­ity.”

“Against stupidity we have no defense. Neither protests nor force can touch it. Reasoning is of no use. Facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbel­ieved — indeed, the fool can counter by critic­izing them, and if they are undeni­able, they can just be pushed aside as trivial except­ions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-s­ati­sfied. In fact, they can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make them aggres­sive. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and danger­ous.”
We live in a world of endless stupidity

Author: Jorge Juan Lafuente

Version 2.1 Feb 2023
God bless you with the gift of avoiding stupidity !


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