The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity



The Pequod Review:

Carlo Cipolla's partly-serious, partly-humorous book The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity argues that stupid people are among the most powerful in the world. His book is structured around five basic laws, most of which are supported with little evidence:

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

(2) The probability that a certain person (will) 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 always turns out to be a costly mistake.

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

It will not come as a big surprise that Nassim Nicholas Taleb provided a foreword to the most recent (2021) Doubleday edition.