How does society destroy an intelligent person

The principles

of human stupidity


 
 

introduction

The affairs of mankind are generally believed to be in dire straits. This is by no means new: as far as you can look back, they have always been in a mess. The heavy burden of misery and hardship that people, both as individuals and as members of organized society, have to carry with them is essentially the result of the utterly incomprehensible - and I dare to say, stupid - way of life was organized from the beginning.

Through Darwin, we know that we share our origins with other species of the animal kingdom, and every species, from the smallest worm to the elephant, is known to endure its part of everyday toil, fears, frustrations, torments and adversities. Humans, however, have the privilege of adding extra weight, an extra dose of daily plagues caused by a group of people who are just as human as everyone else. This group is much more powerful than the Mafia, the armaments industry or the Communist International. It is a group without a fixed organization, it does not form a wing within any parliamentary group, it has no board of directors, no president, no statutes, and yet it manages to operate in such perfect harmony as if it were led by an invisible hand. This is done in such a way that the activities of a single member of this group decisively strengthen and expand the effectiveness of all other members. The nature, character and behavior of the members of this group are the subject of the following pages.

At this point it seems necessary to point out briefly that this essay is neither the result of a cynical attitude nor an exercise in social defeatism, nor more than any book on microbiology. The following pages are actually the result of a constructive effort to investigate and recognize one of the most powerful and darkest forces in order to neutralize them in this way as possible, for it is responsible for preventing the increase in prosperity and human happiness.
 


The first principle

The First principle of human stupidity makes the following assertion without any ambiguity:

Always and inevitably, each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals floating around. *

[* The writers of the Old Testament were fully aware of the First Principle and paraphrased it when they claimed stultorum infinitus est numerus-, although they allowed themselves to be carried away with poetic exaggeration. The number of stupid people cannot be infinite since the number of living people is finite.]
 

At first glance, such an assertion may seem trivial, self-evident, not very generous, or all three together. However, a closer examination will fully demonstrate their realistic cut and stab resistance. Therefore, what follows should also be considered. No matter how high the quantitative assessment one accords human stupidity, one is always amazed at the fact that:

a) People who have been considered sensible and intelligent in the past suddenly turn out to be clearly hopelessly stupid;

b) day after day one is held up and hindered in his own work with incessant monotonousness by indescribably stupid people who appear completely unexpectedly in the least suitable places and at the least suitable moments.

The First principle does not allow a quantitative recording of the proportion of stupid people in relation to the total population: any kind of numerical assessment would prove to be an underestimation. For this reason, the number of stupid people within a population is given the symbol S on the following pages.
 


The second principle

The current prevailing cultural tendencies in the western world advocate an understanding of human beings based on equality. One likes to think of people as the mass product of a perfectly designed assembly line. Genetics and sociology, in particular, endeavor to demonstrate, with a tremendously impressive number of scientific data and definitions, that all human beings are naturally the same and that if a few people are more equal than others, this in no way affects their upbringing and social environment but would be due to mother nature.

This view is widespread, although personally I do not share it. Rather, it is my firm conviction, supported by years of observation and experimentation, that people are not the same, that there are stupid people and those who are not, and that the difference is not between cultural forces or factors, but rather through biogenetic tricks of an inscrutable one Nature is determined. Someone is stupid as much as someone else has red hair; Someone belongs to the group of fools in the same way that another belongs to a blood group. In short, someone is born stupid because an inscrutable, uncontrollable Divine Providence wants it to be.

Even if I am convinced that some of the people are stupid and only because Providence wanted it that way, I am still not reactionary and in no way try to smuggle classes and racial discrimination back through the back door. I firmly believe that stupidity is a characteristic found in every human community and that this characteristic is evenly distributed in a constant proportion. This fact is in the Second Scientifically formulated principle that says:

The likelihood that a particular person is stupid is independent of any other quality of the same person.

In this regard, nature seems to have really outdone itself. It is well known that nature, in a somewhat mysterious way, keeps the frequency of certain natural phenomena constant. For example, that people multiply at the North Pole just as they do at the equator; that couples who unite can be found in advanced countries as well as in underdeveloped ones, whether they are black, red, yellow or white; that the relation between boys and girls among the newborns is constant, with a slight excess of boys. We cannot say anything about how nature achieves this unusual result, but we know that in order to achieve it it must operate with large numbers. The extraordinary underlying the frequency of stupidity consists in the fact that nature succeeds in keeping this frequency constant with respect to the probability S always and everywhere, regardless of the size of the human association because one finds the same percentage of stupid people everywhere, regardless of whether you are considering very large or very small groups. No other phenomenon under our observation offers such unique evidence of the power of nature.

The proof that neither education nor the environment have anything to do with probability S has been furnished by a series of experiments carried out at numerous universities around the world. The population of a university can be divided into four broad categories: pedals, employees, students and faculty.

Every investigation of the pedals found that a fraction S of them were stupid. But since the value of S was higher than had been assumed (First principle), it was initially thought - in line with fashion trends - that this was due to the poverty of the families, from which the pedals generally emerged, and to their low level of education. However, when examining the higher groups, it was found that the same percentage was found among employees and students. The results among the teaching staff were even more impressive. No matter whether it was a large or a small university, a famous or an obscure institute, it was found that the same proportion of S professors were made up of stupid people. This result was so surprising that it was heard that the investigations should be extended to a particularly selected group, an outspoken elite, namely the Nobel Prize winners. The result confirmed the supreme power of nature: a portion of S among the Nobel Prize winners consists of stupid people.

It is not easy to accept and swallow this result, but countless experiments have proven its fundamental reliability. The Second principle is an iron principle and does not tolerate any exceptions. The women's movement becomes this Second principle to appreciate because it shows that there are proportionally more stupid men among men than women. The population of third world countries will deal with the Second principle comfort because it shows that the populations of the so-called 'developed' countries are ultimately not that developed. Whether one the second principle Like it or not, in any case one cannot simply ignore its rather diabolical implications: after all, it says that one - whether one moves in small circles or flees to the headhunters of Polynesia, whether one finds oneself in a monastery closes up or spends the rest of his life in the company of beautiful, wasteful women - encounters the same percentage of stupid people over and over again, and that percentage becomes (in accordance with the First principle) always surpass even the most terrible forecasts.
 


A technical break

At this point it is necessary to clarify the term human stupidity and the dramatis persona define.

People have different degrees of socialization. There are people for whom any kind of contact with other people is an excruciating necessity. You literally have to endure others, and the others have to endure them. At the opposite end of this spectrum, there are people who, under no circumstances, can live alone and are even willing to spend their time in the company of people who despise them rather than being alone. Between these two extremes lies a multitude of very different behaviors, although the vast majority of people tend to be those who cannot endure loneliness than those who have no inclination towards human relationships. Aristotle was aware of this fact when he wrote that man is a "social animal" and the validity of his claim is proven by the fact that we move in social groups, that there are more married people than unmarried people or bachelors, that is an enormous amount Money and time for annoying, boring ones Cocktail parties is wasted and that the word loneliness usually has a negative tinge.

Whether one belongs to the type of the hermit or the type of the salon lion - he is always dealing with people, albeit with different intensities. Sometimes hermits also meet people. In addition, he is always in a relationship with people, even when he reports them. What I could and would not have done for a person or a group constitutes a "cost-expediency" (ie, a gain or loss not made) for that person or group. The moral of this story is, that each of us has a kind of bank account with the other. Each of us draws a profit or a loss from every act or inaction, but at the same time determines the profit or loss for the other. Profit and loss can conveniently be represented by a graph, and Table 1 shows the basic pattern that can be used for this. The graphic refers to a person we want to call Hinz. The X-axis measures the profit that Hinz derives from his act. The Y-axis shows the profit that another person or group of people has to book as a result of the action of our Hinz. The profit can be positive, zero or negative. A negative gain is a loss. The X-axis measures the positive gains of our Hinz, to the right of the zero point, while the losses of our Hinz are shown to the left of the zero point. The Y-axis shows above or accordingly

Y-axis +
                              ^
                              |
                              |
U | I.
                              |
                              |
- <-----------------------------------------> + X-axis
                              |
                              |
D | B.
                              |
                              |
v -

below zero, the profits or losses of the person or group of people with whom Hinz is dealing.

To make things clear, let's take a hypothetical example that relates to Table 1. Hinz acts towards Kunz. If Hinz draws a profit from his act and Kunz draws a loss from the same act, this is entered in field B on the graph with a character.

The gains and losses can be plotted on the X and Y axes in dollars, marks, or lire if one feels like it, but one must also plot the rewards, psychological and emotional pleasures, and psychological and emotional stresses. Of course, these are intangible goods (or evils) that are difficult to represent with objective standards. An analysis, for example in the form of a cost-benefit calculation, can help and solve the problem, if not completely. But I don't want to bother the reader with small technical details: an inaccuracy margin can only affect the measurement, but not the core issue of the argument. One thing should be clear, however. In considering Hinzen's deed and in assessing the benefit or loss that Kunz incurs from it, one must start from Hinzen's values; but in order to determine Kunzen's gain or loss, it is absolutely necessary to start from Kunzen's, and not from Hinzen's, values. It is far too common to simply learn about these rules of the fair play, and many problems arise in the first place because of failure to respect this principle of civilized behavior. Let us return once more to a mundane example. Hinz gives Kunz a hit on the head and feels satisfaction about it. Hinz might be of the opinion that Kunz was happy to have been hit on the head. But it is far more likely that Kunz does not agree with Hinz. On the contrary, Kunz could consider the blow on his head to be an extremely unfortunate accident. Whether the blow on Kunzen's head was a gain or a loss for Kunz can only be decided by Kunz and not Hinz.
 


The third (and golden) principle

The third principle assumes, although it does not clearly state this, that people belong to one of the following four basic categories: the unsuspecting, the intelligent, the bandits, and the stupid. The astute reader will understand without difficulty that these four categories correspond to the four fields U, I, B, and D of the output graph (see Table 1).

If Hinz commits an act and incurs a loss, but at the same time gives Kunz an advantage, Hinzen's mark is entered in the U field: Hinz has proven to be inexperienced. If Hinz commits an act and takes advantage of it, but at the same time also gives Kunz an advantage, his mark is entered in field I: Hinz has proven to be intelligent. If Hinz commits an act that brings him an advantage, but Kunz a loss, Hinzen's mark is entered in field B: Hinz behaved like a bandit. The stupidity corresponds to the field D and all positions on the Y-axis below the zero point.

The third principle explicitly clarifies:

A stupid person is a person who causes harm to another person or group of people without drawing any gain for himself or even suffering a loss.

When rational-thinking people with the Third party When confronted with the principle, they instinctively react with skepticism and disbelief. This is due to the fact that reasonable people have difficulty imagining unreasonable behavior. But let's leave theory aside and consider what happens to us every day in real life. Each of us will surely remember a case when we were unfortunate enough to deal with another person who was making an income by making us a loss: we fell into the hands of a bandit. We certainly also remember cases in which a person committed an act with the result that he had to record a loss, but we were able to pocket a profit: in such cases we were dealing with an inexperienced person.Certainly we can also remember cases in which a person committed an act from which both sides benefited: in these cases it was a matter of fact

[* Please note the specification "a person committed an act". The fact that he began the deed is decisive in determining that he is one of the innocent. If I had started the deed that would have determined my gain and loss, the conclusion would be different: in that case I would have been a bandit.]

an intelligent person. Such cases happen all the time. But if you think about them carefully, you will have to admit that they do not constitute the entirety of the events that leave their mark on our lives day in and day out. Our life is also made up of incidents in which we lose money, time, strength, appetite, calm and our humor, and only because some absurd being comes up with a totally improbable act and, of course, in an instant, harm, frustration and difficulty by being at least ready for it and most inopportune by it, although the person has absolutely no profit from what he is doing. There is no explanation for it either - or rather, there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.
 

The distribution of the frequency

The behavior of most people is inconsistent. For example, in certain situations a person acts intelligently, while in other situations they act completely inexperienced.

The only major exception to the rule are the stupid, who usually show the highest level of coherence in each of their areas of activity. It does not follow from this that one could only plot the values ​​of stupid people on the graph. We can calculate the corresponding position for each person on the plan of Table 1 on the basis of a precisely determined average value. An intelligent person can act like a fool at times, and just like that, he can act like a bandit at times. But since the person in question is basically intelligent, most of his actions will also be characterized by intelligence, and so his determined average value is entered in field 1 of graph no. The fact that people can be entered in the graph instead of their deeds allows us to deviate slightly from the frequency of bandits and fools. The perfect bandit is one who, with his deeds, causes losses to be as great as he makes a profit. The grossest expression of banditry is theft. Someone who steals 100 marks from you without causing further damage is a perfect bandit: one loses 100 marks, the other gets 100 marks. In our graph, the perfect bandits appear on the 45 ° diagonal that divides field B into two completely symmetrical sub-areas (line 0M in table 2).

Y-axis +
                              ^
                              |
                              |
U | I.
                              |
                              |
- <--------------------0--------------------> + X-axis
                              |   \
                              |       \
D | \ BI.
                              |              \
| B.D \
v - M

However, perfect bandits are relatively rare. The line 0M divides the field B into the two sub-areas BI and BD and by far the largest number of bandits collects at some point in these two sub-areas. The bandits who occupy the BI field are those whose profits are greater than the losses they inflict on others. All bandits who occupy a point in the field BI are dishonest, but at the same time have a high degree of intelligence, and the further their position shifts in the right direction on the X-axis, the more these bandits meet the characteristics of a intelligent people too. Unfortunately, those who hold positions in the BI field are few in number. Most of the bandits can be found in the BD field. The bandits belonging to this field are people whose actions bring them lower profits than the losses they inflict on others. When a bandit throws you to the ground and breaks your leg, and only to steal 100 marks, or he causes damage to your car amounting to 1000 marks just to steal a car radio, for which he is at best 50 Mark gets that if he fires a shot at you and kills you just to spend a night in Monte Carlo with your wife, we can be absolutely certain that this is not a perfect bandit. Even if we use his yardsticks to determine his gain (but our yardsticks to determine our loss), he belongs in the area of ​​BD, very close to the borderline of pure stupidity.

The distribution of frequency of stupid people is completely different from that of bandits, intelligent and unsophisticated. While these are for the most part scattered over the entire field designated for them, the dumbs pile up along the Y-axis below the zero point. The reason for this is that stupid people are immovably stupid at their core, in other words, they insist with unparalleled persistence on inflicting harm or loss on others without deriving any benefit or gain from it, be it positive or negative. However, there are also those who, with their unbelievable deeds, not only harm other people, but also themselves. They are some kind of super dumbs that appear in our calculation system at some point in field D, to the left of the Y-axis.
 

Stupidity and power

Like every human being, the stupid exert their influence on others with varying degrees of intensity. Some stupid people usually do limited harm, while others are perfectly capable of causing immense harm not just to one or two people, but to an entire community or even society. A stupid person's potential to cause harm depends on two main factors. Especially the genetic factor. Some people inherit considerable amounts of stupidity genes. Thanks to this genetic makeup, they belong to the elite of their group from the moment they are born. The second factor that determines a person's potential for stupidity depends on the power and authority he occupies within society. Among bureaucrats, generals, politicians and heads of state one comes across again and again the golden percentage S of fundamentally stupid individuals whose ability to harm one's neighbor was (or is) determined by the position of power they held (or have). Church ministers should not be disregarded in this context.

Often one hears reasonable people ask how and why stupid people are even able to attain positions of power and authority.

Class and caste (be it secular or ecclesiastical) were the social institutions that enabled a constant flow of stupid people in positions of power within most pre-industrialized societies. In the modern industrial world, class and caste are becoming less and less important. But they have been replaced by political parties, bureaucracy and democracy. Within a democratic system, the elections to the national parliament are an extremely effective instrument to ensure the unchangeable maintenance of the share of S among the powerful. Here I have to go again the second principle It should be pointed out that a S proportion of the electorate is stupid, and elections are a wonderful opportunity for these individuals to harm everyone else without being able to derive any benefit from them. They contribute to the realization of this objective by ensuring that the S level of stupid persons in power is maintained.
 

The power of stupidity

It is not difficult to imagine how political, economic or bureaucratic power increases a stupid person's potential for danger. But we also have to explain and understand what actually makes a stupid person so dangerous, or in other words: what the power of stupidity consists of.

Basically, the stupid are so dangerous and fatal because sensible people find it difficult to imagine, let alone understand, stupid behavior. An intelligent person can understand the logic of a bandit. A bandit's actions follow a clear, rational model: a perverse model, one may object, but it is rational. The bandit wants "more" on his account. But since he is not intelligent enough to come up with methods with which he can achieve "more" for himself and at the same time "more" for others, he gets his "more" by causing "less" in others . All this is not right, but it is rational, and if one thinks rationally, this can be foreseen. So one can foresee a bandit's deeds, dirty tricks, and deplorable intentions, and often even take appropriate countermeasures.

With a stupid person, all of this is absolutely impossible. As the Third principle implies, you are being chased by a stupid person for no reason, with no precise plan, at the most unlikely times and in the most unimaginable places. There is no rational method of foreseeing when, where, and why a stupid person will attack you. You are helpless at the mercy of a stupid person.

But because the deeds of a stupid person do not correspond to any rational rule, it follows:

a) that one is generally surprised by their attack,

b) that even if one becomes conscious of the attack, one is not in a position to build up a rational defense, because the attack itself is devoid of any rational structure.

The fact that a stupid person's actions and tricks are utterly incoherent and irrational not only makes defense problematic, but also makes any counterattack appear extremely difficult - it's like trying to shoot something that is in is able to make the most unlikely and unimaginable movements. That is what Dickens and Schiller had in mind when one claimed that "man can tackle many things with stupidity and good digestion" and the other stated that "Gods themselves fight against stupidity in vain".

Another circumstance must also be taken into account. An intelligent person knows that he is intelligent. A bandit is aware that he is a bandit. The ignorant is painfully permeated with the awareness of being ignorant. But unlike all these people, the fool is not aware of being stupid. This naturally contributes to the fact that his destructive undertakings are tremendously potentiated in their force and impact. The stupid has no idea what the English do self-consciousness call. With a smile on his face, as if he were doing the most natural thing in the world, the stupid suddenly appears and messes up your plans, destroys your peace, makes your life and your work difficult, robs you of your money, your time, yours Humor, your appetite, your productivity - and all without any malice, without any remorse, without any reason. Unfortunately.
 


The fourth principle

It is not surprising that inexperienced people - those who appear in our system in field U - generally do not recognize the dangers of stupid people. This fact is nothing more than another expression of your naivety. What is really surprising, however, is the fact that even intelligent people and bandits are often unable to recognize the destructive power of stupidity. Why this is so is extremely difficult to explain. One can only surmise that intelligent people and bandits alike make the mistake of indulging in complacency and contempt when dealing with fools rather than immediately pumping out large amounts of adrenaline and defending themselves.

There is also a general belief that a stupid person only harms himself, but that means nothing more than confusing stupidity with incompetence. Sometimes you are even tempted to team up with a stupid person with the aim of harnessing them for your own ends. Such an attempt can only have two devastating effects because it:

a) is based on a complete lack of understanding of the very essence of stupidity and

b) give the stupid person one more room to practice their talents.

Someone can lean into the belief that they are manipulating a stupid person, which they can do to a certain extent. But due to the inconsistent, erratic behavior on the part of the stupid, his actions and reactions cannot be foreseen, and within a very short time one is uprooted and crushed even by the unpredictable actions of the stupid.

All of this is in Fourth principle in a nutshell that says:

People who are not stupid always underestimate the danger potential of stupid people. Most importantly, people who are not stupid keep forgetting that negotiating and / or associating with stupid people at any time, in any place, under any circumstance will inevitably prove to be a costly mistake.

Over the centuries, countless people in public and private life have had this fourth principle ignored, and this has resulted in immeasurable loss of life.
 


Macro Analysis and the Fifth Principle

The concluding considerations of the previous chapter lead on to a type, macro-analysis, in which, instead of individual prosperity, the prosperity of society is examined, which in this context is defined as the algebraic sum of individual prosperity. A thorough understanding of the Fifth principle is essential for the following analysis. It must also be added that of the five principles the fifth is certainly the best known, and its corollary is often quoted. It says:

The stupid person is one of the most dangerous people there is.

The corollary of this law is:

The stupid is more dangerous than the bandit.

The formulation of this law and its logical consequence still belongs in the micro area. However, as indicated above, the law and its logical consequence have deep roots in the macro area. The essential thing to keep in mind is this: the result of the act of a perfect bandit (the type of person who falls on the line 0M of Table 2) simply represents nothing other than the displacement of wealth and / or prosperity. After a perfect bandit has committed his deed, he has a "more" in his account, and that "more" corresponds exactly to the "less" he has inflicted on another person. For society as a whole, the situation has neither improved nor worsened. If all members of a society were perfect bandits, society would stagnate, but no major disasters would continue to occur. Everything would be limited to the massive shift of wealth and prosperity in favor of those who do the deed. If all members of society took turns doing this, not only society as a whole but also its individual individuals would be in a state of perfect stability.

But if the stupid ones mess with it, that's a whole different pair of boots. Stupid people cause losses to other people without taking advantage of them for themselves. It follows that all of society is impoverished.

The calculation system expressed in the basic graphs shows that all acts committed by people who fall within the range to the right of the P0M line (see Table 3) increase the prosperity of a society, albeit in different degrees, during the acts of all those who fall to the left of the P0M line impoverish society.

Y-axis +
                              ^
P |
\ UI.      |
\ | I.
UD.    \         |
                        \     |
- <--------------------0--------------------> + X-axis
                              |   \
                              |       \
D | \ BI.
                              |              \
| B.D \
v - M

In other words: the unsuspecting, those with certain elements of intelligence that are above your average in their category (area UI), as well as the bandits gifted with intelligence (area BI), but above all the intelligent ones themselves (field I) all carry help, albeit to varying degrees, to increase the prosperity of society. On the other hand, bandits who are stupid (area BI, and the unsuspecting with strong elements of stupidity (area UD) cause nothing but losses, in addition to those already caused by the stupid, thus the first two groups the ominous destructive power of the latter only increased.

All of this gives rise to some thought about the role of society. The Second principle according to the proportion of stupid people is a constant S that is not influenced by space, time, race, class, or any other historical or socio-cultural variable. It would be a grave mistake to assume that the number of fools is greater in a declining society than in a rising society. Both are equally stupid with the same percentage of fools. The difference between the two societies is that in the declining society:

a) the stupid members of society are allowed by the other members to become more active; b) there is a change in the composition of the non-stupid population, with a relative increase in the populations in fields D and BD.

This hypothesis is sufficiently confirmed by thorough analysis of historical cases. Historical analysis even allows us to reformulate the theoretical conclusions in even more concrete and realistic detail.

Regardless of whether one looks at classical antiquity, the Middle Ages or the present - one is surprised to find that every society in the ascendant has its share of stupid people. However, every ascending society also has an unusually high percentage of intelligent people who try to keep the proportion S under control and at the same time create sufficient profits for themselves and for the other members of the community to ensure progress .

In a country in decline, the percentage of stupid people is always the same; nevertheless, an alarming expansion of banditry with a high percentage of stupidity is observed in the rest of the population, especially among those in power, and equally among those who do not exercise power alarming increase in the number of people not in need (field U in the basic graphic model, table 1). This change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the stupid fraction and leads the country to ruin.
 

appendix

In the following, the reader can use several graphical representations to record the deeds of persons or groups with whom he is constantly dealing. This allows him to formulate precise evaluations of these examined persons or groups and accordingly to develop a sensible strategy of action towards them.
 

Reader +
                             ^
                              |
                              |
U | I.
                              |
                              |
- <--------------------0--------------------> + person / group
                              |
                              |
D | B.
                              |
                              |
v -
 
 
 
 

Freely based on: Carlo M. Cipolla, Le leggi fondamentali della stupidità umana.
in: C. M. Cipolla, Allegro ma non troppo. Bologna: il Mulino 1988.

Since the number of stupid people is always underestimated, they give up
Spanish: http://bugs.invest.uv.mx/~nahum/lckuri/stupi2.htm
and English: http://www12.geocities.com/RainForest/3621/STUPID.HTM

The data protection declaration of the TU Braunschweig applies to this website with the exception of Sections VI, VII and VIII.