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Survival of the Stupidest

Is stupidity rising? Are we witnessing an alarming proliferation of irrationality and an exuberance of ignorance?

Stupidity seems a concern to a growing group of scholars. Last month alone two arXiv papers (here and here) appeared that both refer to a 35 year old essay by the Italian conomic historian Carlo Cipolla entitled The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. In this humorous yet thought-provocative treatise Cipolla warns against the power of stupidity. Three of Cipolla laws of stupidity I reproduce here. The first provides a definition for stupidity, and the latter two highlight the abundance and the effectiveness of stupidity:

“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.”

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

“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.”


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