[ExI] Human Stupidity Explained
pharos at gmail.com
Fri Aug 20 08:39:16 UTC 2021
Human Stupidity Explained: A Study Published on the Scientific Journal "Systems"
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Let me explain: we all know that we are surrounded by stupidity: it
truly pervades everything (the recent example of the end of the
occupation of Afghanistan is just one of the many). This point had
already been noted in the 1970s by Carlo Cipolla, an enlightened
economist and historian. Cipolla had proposed "five laws of
stupidity." The "third law," the basic one, is expressed as "A stupid
person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group
of persons, while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring
The idea came to us after having studied the history of whaling and of
several other fisheries (that we report in our book "The Empty Sea").
A stupid whaler kills all the whales and is left with no resources to
exploit. And it is exactly what happened in the 19th century when
excessive hunting depleted the whale stock so much that the whaling
Why did whalers (and many other categories) behave in such a stupid
way? Because they operated on a too short time scale, emphasizing
short-term gains. This is the basis of the problem of overexploitation
that has led us to the situation in which we are.
So, not surprising that the Lotka-Volterra model could give us some
deep insight into Cipolla's intuition. According to our
interpretation, stupidity occurs when the dissipation of an energy
potential goes too fast: the result is what we call "overexploitation"
in which people exploit a resource to the point of destroying it, and
damage themselves in the process. Fortunately, we also found that
these systems can adapt in the long run. In an evolutionary system,
stupidity punishes itself, but it takes time. Unfortunately, we are
still in the midst of what could be the greatest stupidity wave that
the ecosystem ever saw in its nearly four billion years of existence.
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