The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity were first outlined by Carlo M. Cipolla, Professor Emeritus of Economic History at Berkeley, in an essay called The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. D'oh!

The Laws of Stupidity[edit]

Zeroth Law[edit]

There is no upper bound on the amount of stupidity[1] that can exist within any particular individual.

First Law[edit]

We always underestimate the number of stupid people.

Not as obvious as it sounds, because:

  1. people we had thought to be rational and intelligent suddenly turn out to be unquestionably stupid;
  2. day after day we are hampered in whatever we do by stupid people who invariably turn up in the least appropriate places, and
  3. the underestimation is after the first law itself is already accounted for.

Second Law[edit]

The probability of a person being stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Third (and Golden) Law[edit]

A stupid person is someone who causes damage to another person, or a group of people, without any advantage accruing to himself (or herself) — or even with some resultant self-damage.

Fourth Law[edit]

Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid people.[2] They constantly forget that at any moment, and in any circumstance, associating with stupid people invariably constitutes an expensive mistake.

Fifth Law[edit]

A stupid person is the most dangerous person in existence. Prof. Cipolla adds a corollary to the fifth law: a stupid person is thus more dangerous than a bandit.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. The question whether there exists a unit of stupidity is irrelevant. The existence of quantifiable stupidity follows from the existence of the comparative and superlative word forms.
  2. Sadly the law still stands even if you already took into account the fourth law itselfWikipedia.