Here is an executive review . ( note the Longform review is linked below )

…. one of my all time favorite books …The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity… This is a book that belongs on the bookshelves of everyone. I wrote a long review of it a few years ago.

That book is outstanding.

It contains the five laws of human stupidity enumerated below:

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

2. The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
3. A stupid person is one who causes losses to another person or a group of people while they gain nothing or may even suffer losses.
4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that in any time and place and circumstance dealing and/or hanging out with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
5. Stupid people are the most dangerous type of people.
Carlo Cipolla, the Italian economist, adds a corollary to the above saying “A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.”

The third law above defines a stupid person. It is not what we’re used to thinking of as stupid. In Cipolla’s definition a stupid person causes a loss both to others and themselves. If you steal from someone, you’re not necessarily a stupid person by his definition. Someone else loses, but you gain. In dealing with a truly stupid person (again, by Cipolla’s definition) you lose and the stupid person loses. But you lose because of actions of the stupid person.

The first two laws above simply lay out the high probability of finding stupid people. There are always more than expected.

The second law says stupid people are spread through all demographics. You’re as apt to find a stupid person–and they are represented by the same fraction–among Nobel laureates as you are ditch diggers. It’s not a matter of intelligence or learning. It’s a matter of, well, stupidity-ence, to coin a word.

The fourth law discusses the inevitability of losing whenever you’re dealing with a stupid person. Even one you might think is harmless.

The fifth and final law states that stupid people are truly dangerous.

Thus Cipolla’s corollary above.

Since I read this book, I’m always on the lookout for stupid people as per his definition. And avoid them if at all possible.

The only thing that gives me pause is that by Cipolla’s Rule’s #1 & #2 there are more stupid people among newsletter writers than might be imagined and the fact that a given newsletter writer has an advanced education is no guarantee of a lack of stupidity. Those rules are never far from my mind.

I think Cipolla should have added another rule. We’ll call it the Eades/Cipolla rule. Stupid people don’t know they are stupid.

A literary critic in our midst…who knew 🙂


Stupid people are everywhere. And, as we all know, no class, race, sex, occupation, political affiliation, country of origin, or degree of wealth has a monopoly on stupidity. Stupid people cause profound damage to individuals and to society at large. But, for the most part, stupid people operate in a kind of anonymity. Consequently, we are frequently ambushed by them and pay the often hefty price.


No matter how high are one’s estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:
a) People whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.
b) Day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.


Sadly, I have had my share of stupid people exercise their gifts to my loss.

Those interactions were personal to me. Stupid people can harm you as well. But the real consequences come when they harm society or an entire country.

The damaging potential of the stupid person depends on two major factors. First of all, it depends on the genetic factor. Some individuals inherit exceptional doses of the gene of stupidity and by virtue of inheritance they belong from birth to the élite of their group. The second factor which determines the potential of a stupid person is related to the position of power and consequence which he occupies in society. Among bureaucrats, generals, politicians and heads of state one has little difficulty in finding clear examples of basically stupid individuals whose damaging capacity was (or is) alarmingly enhanced by the position of power which they occupied (or occupy). Religious dignitaries should not be overlooked.

This is brilliant …Everybody just read the whole piece

And of course we are in agreement with this guy