The five universal laws of human stupidity

Always nice to have a graph IMO


I would submit that THIS is the biggest mistake in that article: “The stupid, in comparison, are paragons of consistency, acting at all times with unyielding idiocy.”

I think we can all agree that ALL of us have done “stupid” stuff - whether fueled by ignorance, youthful arrogance or just unthinking inertia. To claim that “stupid people” are invariable seems, well, rather stupid to me :slight_smile:


The people who the article is calling stupid are the ones who only do stupid stuff. All the other categories do stupid stuff as well, but only sometimes.


I’m curious to know if it was the stupid people or helpless people at Berkeley who paid this bandit professor a salary to come up with this stuff? I eliminated any intelligent people that Berkeley may of had back in '76.


The link in the OP goes to a summary. Here is the original: THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY

If I’m reading it right I’d say because the bandit professor was able to make use of the salary Berkeley was paying him that would make them helpless rather then stupid.

However if the graph can be used to identity both the helpless Berkeley and the bandit professor doesn’t that make it useful? In which case the professor would flip to the upper right quadrant?

“…doesn’t that make it useful?”

If anybody finds this graph or his study useful besides for entertainment purposes only then they have nothing to worry about. Since the intelligent wouldn’t pay for such needles insight & the sucker & stupid quadrants have no use for this information because they’re suckers & stupid then it would make the professor a bandit because he is the only one who benifitted via the salary? The only way everyone would benefit from this study is if he was a creative writing professor.

From the essay:

Most people do not act consistently. Under certain circumstances a given person acts intelligently and under different circumstances the same person will act helplessly. The only important exception to the rule is represented by the stupid people who normally show a strong proclivity toward perfect consistency in all fields of human endeavours.

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.
Benjamin Franklin

Stoopid is as stoopid does.
Forrest Gump


A highly entertaining read, but sadly not to very useful. For example, how can you reconcile laws 2 and 3 with self made billionaires as a group? That clearly doesn’t work.

I especially like the graph. If we could somehow classify people on the basis of their interactions (a job for a neural AI?) and generate heat maps based on vocation, shopping habits, political leanings, etc., I would be referring to them all the time :smiley:

I have another that applies to any large(ish) group:
You have 4 types of people.
Top 25% are the geniuses, movers, shakers, invent new things, can dock a ship blindfolded, etc. Your endeavor succeeds because of them.
Next 25% Competent worker bees. They are vital too and do well when led/instructed by the top 25%. You need these people too.
Next 25% - Lazy asses. Take up space and complain, but left to their own devices are about as offensive as a house plant. Will text or buy stuff on eBay if not disturbed. Will do some work if you watch them, but quit doing it once you leave.
Bottom 25% - Actively interfere with the 75% above them. They are far worse than intert, they spread gloom and disaster as much as they can. If your ship is sinking it isn’t that they won’t man a pump, more like they drill more holes and steal the lifeboat.

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The cross diagram has been used for all kinds of comparisons. I remember seeing one with quadrants to display something like doers, analyzers, promoters and followers.

Well, the classic 2x2, which I encountered in AF OTS a century or so ago, went like this:

Vertical axis: Energetic or Lazy

Horizontal Axis: Smart or Stupid

Smart and Energetic = Staff Officer; they’ll give you all the information and plans you can handle.

Smart and Lazy = Commander; they’ll be cool under stress.

Stupid and Lazy = Middle Ranks; they can be trusted not to do anything unless ordered.

The fourth category you get rid of.

Apologies if you’ve seen this before – I think I may have even posted it once.



Maybe we should have a new catagory: like "laws of relativity (upgraded) Here is my contribution:

  1. “A object at rest will tend to remain at rest till acted upon by a idiot”.and while i’m at it: not the right catagory but : “you’re right, money isn’t everything … it’s all there is” ha ha ha ha