The basic laws of human stupidity

“The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.”

Anybody, whether intellectual or ignorant, blue-collar or white collar, book smart or street smart, can be stupid. Moreover, idiocy persists at roughly equal proportions at all levels of society. The rate of stupidity amongst Nobel laureates is just as high as it is amongst male swimmers on the U.S. Olympic team.

“[The Second Basic Law’s] implications are frightening,” Cipolla wrote. “The Law implies that whether you move in distinguished circles or you take refuge among the head-hunters of Polynesia, whether you lock yourself into a monastery or decide to spend the rest of your life in the company of beautiful and lascivious women, you always have to face the same percentage of stupid people — which (in accordance with the First Law) will always surpass your expectations.”

How can this be? Well, it might make more sense in light of the definition of stupidity, which Cipolla provides in his third law. Understandably, given his background, he tackles the term from an economic perspective.