Written by walter
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Friday, 11 November 2016

Carlo M. Cipolla, an economic historian, born in Italy in 1922, dead in 2000, classified people into four groups: intelligent, helpless, bandit and stupid. However, Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers came up with 16 types of personality types. Cipolla's emphasis on stupid people makes his findings interesting. Perhaps, it is not unwise to begin with a definition of stupidity vs. ignorance from www.quora.com: "Ignorance is lack of knowledge, (while) stupidity is lack of intelligence or common sense; therefore, an intelligent person can be ignorant. On the other hand, surprisingly, a stupid person can be knowledgeable."... Now let's see what Cipolla tells us about stupid people:

We, first of all, ' underestimate the number of stupid individuals…People whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid… We are harassed in our activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments…Scientists insists that all men are naturally equal... In fact, they are not ; some are stupid and others are not…The difference is determined by nature and not by cultural forces or factors… A stupid man is born a stupid man by an act of Providence.' Cipolla goes on saying that education cannot rectify stupidity… 'the students, the administrators and the professors can be stupid'. Cipolla: "I made a special point to extend my research to a specially selected group, to real elite, the Nobel laureates. The result confirmed Nature's supreme powers: σ fraction of the Nobel laureates are stupid."

We suffer at the hands of stupid people; they cause losses to us without gaining anything. Of course, the actions of a stupid fellow should not be confused with actions of a bandit: a bandit causes damage to us while he gains something. The other way around is when a fellow takes an action which results in his loss and our gain. In such cases, we may conclude that the individual belongs to the category of helpless individual, not the stupid. Cipolla points out that 'our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact, there is no explanation - or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.'

Since a stupid creature harasses us 'for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places', we have 'no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks'. When we are confronted with a stupid individual we are completely at his mercy…stupid person's actions do not conform to the rules of rationality'. We are 'caught by surprise'. We 'cannot organize a rational defense, because the attack itself lacks any rational structure...the activity and movements of a stupid creature are absolutely erratic and irrational…makes defense problematic…counter-attack is extremely difficult.'

Let alone helpless people, even intelligent people and bandits often fail to recognize the inherent power of stupidity. Sometime we are 'tempted to believe that a stupid man will only do harm to himself. In such case, we are confusing stupidity with helplessness. Occasionally 'one is tempted to associate oneself with a stupid individual in order to use him for one's own schemes. Such a maneuver cannot but have disastrous effects'. Cipolla advises us not to try to outmaneuver the stupid because we cannot foresee the stupid people's actions and reactions'.
In brief, a stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit. The society, because of the actions of stupid people eventually gets impoverished. Additionally, the bandits and the helpless with overtones of stupidity add losses to the society. Sadly, the stupid members of the society are allowed by the other members to become more active and take more actions which result in pushing a country into disaster.
***
Literature presents lots of instances of stupidities. For instance, Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897). a French novelist wrote a short story called 'The Game of Billiards', an instance of stupidity of a Marshal, the commanding general of an army; the army that has been fighting for 48 hours with knapsacks on, beneath a flood of rain' The soldiers are completely exhausted. And yet for three mortal hours they have been left waiting, with grounded arms, in the puddles of the highroads and the mud of the saturated fields...'an army that is awaiting the commanding general's order to attack, but the general is absorbed in playing his game of billiards…

"An aide-de-camp covered with mud forces his way past the sentries and ascends the steps (to the HQ) at one bound. "Marshal, marshal!" You should see how he is greeted. Puffing with anger and red as a rooster, the marshal appears at the window, his billiard-cue in his hand:
"What's the matter? What's all this? Isn't there any sentry there?" "But, marshal--"
"All right, in a moment; wait for my orders, in God's name!" And the window is violently closed. The roar of the battle draws nearer. The marshal has but one more to go. The army is in full retreat. The marshal has won his game".
***
A simpler and recent instance now happening in an ISIS-stricken country that is strangled to death by a group of people comprised of the least qualified individuals, bandits, stupid individuals, criminals and the most reactionary clerics, a gang that seeks nothing but personal wealth and power.

Due to their mismanagement, absolute chaos dominate the entire nation; lack of social coherence has already shattered the society into pieces; fraud is extremely wide spread, trust is totally vanished, inequality is soaring, dissatisfaction has reached its peak, polarization has no room to expand, social relations unavailable, social and political activities nonexistent, debt, anxiety, low self-esteem, ill-health, poor skills and bad living conditions widespread. The effect of mismanagement is felt everywhere. Lets give an instance. Lets call a cab to take us to a place 15 kilometers away. The sub-street that we live is 8-meter wide. It is formally a one-way street.

Cars are illegally parked on sidewalks, bumper-to-bumper. Consequently, it leaves a narrow space just for a single car to pass. In this so-called one-way street drivers enter the street from either ways. When they come head-to-head, the drivers hopelessly try to pull over to let the other car pass, but most of times there is no room to pull over. The cab we had called showed up from no-entry side. Time is 1900 and rush hour; of course. Headlights are on due to lack of proper street light; all drivers shouting and cursing. A car approached our cab, standing with the engine running and headlights on. The approaching car, stopped. The cab tried to pull over as far as the she-driver could. Passage impossible. The approaching car reared; why? No reason can be given despite she having the right of way. A car behind this rearing car backed up, too. Despite glaring headlight, it was still dark. The rearing car kept moving backward. Suddenly, we heard a loud collision with a car parked on the sidewalk. Now the entire street is fully blocked. The rearing car decided to move forward again. The driver, a female, too, somehow managed to pass our, the violating cab. Both exchanged looks. A lapse occurred: no car approaching. Cab driver pressed way down the accelerator. She or we all were lucky to get to the main street. When we entered the main street, we saw a unimaginable heavy helter-skelter traffic. It took the driver more than one hour to traverse a 15-minute course. What do you call this?

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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