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The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Posted: 18 May 2009 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Just ran across a link to The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity at Brent Rasmussen’s web site. Anything that starts with a lead this good is worth reading:

The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:

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

The essay is presented as a scientific analysis of why stupid people cause harm, and explains why we are defenseless against them. Great stuff. It may not be satire.

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Posted: 18 May 2009 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Nice find!

Have to agree with the author, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the amount of idiocy circulating in the populace.

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Posted: 05 June 2009 10:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 08:01 PM

Nice find!

Have to agree with the author, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the amount of idiocy circulating in the populace.

Oh Joy. Elitism.

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He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

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Posted: 06 June 2009 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Nope, not elitism. Realism.

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“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

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Posted: 06 June 2009 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m Unemployed - 05 June 2009 10:38 PM
Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 08:01 PM

Nice find!

Have to agree with the author, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the amount of idiocy circulating in the populace.

Oh Joy. Elitism.

I don’t understand your response.  Is it elitism to question the irrational thought processes of a large portion of the populace?  If that is your definition then I count myself an elitist.

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Posted: 06 June 2009 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think it’s fascinating how some have made “elitist” into a pejorative.  Elite means part of a group of the best.  An elitist would seem to mean only that one considered oneself part of an elite group.  We recognize that equal opportunity should be available to all, however, we must not carry the Political Correctness to the point of demanding that we can’t recognize differences among people.  Depending on our skills at introspection and objectivity, we can self-evaluate and decide where we fit in various areas. 

Obvously, there are ranges of ability in all areas of human endeavor.  If we recognize that we fit in the upper, say, 5% or 10% of the population in a given area, I believe we could be justified in assigning the adjective “elite” to ourselves in that area. 

Occam

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Posted: 06 June 2009 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam - 06 June 2009 02:46 PM

Obvously, there are ranges of ability in all areas of human endeavor.  If we recognize that we fit in the upper, say, 5% or 10% of the population in a given area, I believe we could be justified in assigning the adjective “elite” to ourselves in that area. 

Of course, humans are notorious at overestimating their own abilities. IIRC something like 80% of drivers believe that they are better than average.

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Posted: 06 June 2009 09:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’m Unemployed - 05 June 2009 10:38 PM
Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 08:01 PM

Nice find!

Have to agree with the author, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the amount of idiocy circulating in the populace.

Oh Joy. Elitism.

Oprah Winfrey is a great example—-she goes out of her way to collect them!

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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Posted: 07 June 2009 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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dougsmith - 06 June 2009 03:31 PM

Of course, humans are notorious at overestimating their own abilities. IIRC something like 80% of drivers believe that they are better than average.

  Since I believe I’m courteous, but drive way too fast, change lanes too often, and don’t pay enough attention, I figured that I wasn’t too good a driver.  If I’m overestimating myself as much as you say, Doug, I must be a real menace on the road. LOL

Occam

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Posted: 07 June 2009 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Occam - 07 June 2009 11:58 AM

Since I believe I’m courteous, but drive way too fast, change lanes too often, and don’t pay enough attention, I figured that I wasn’t too good a driver.  If I’m overestimating myself as much as you say, Doug, I must be a real menace on the road. LOL

LOL

Watch out there, Occam!

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Posted: 07 June 2009 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hawkfan - 06 June 2009 09:49 AM
I’m Unemployed - 05 June 2009 10:38 PM
Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 08:01 PM

Nice find!

Have to agree with the author, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the amount of idiocy circulating in the populace.

Oh Joy. Elitism.

I don’t understand your response.  Is it elitism to question the irrational thought processes of a large portion of the populace?  If that is your definition then I count myself an elitist.

There was no objective justification given for the idea that such a large portion of the populace is unintelligent, and in my experience such claims indicate that the person making them feel that nearly all others are far less intelligent than they without justification, and I think that attitude is kind of disgusting.

I apologize, as, in retrospect I’m basing this off of personal experience, which means nothing. I judged too quickly, as I typically interpret what I perceive as insults as someone praising themselves, although this is obviously not always the case.

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Posted: 08 June 2009 05:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’d love for someone to give me an example of “an irrational thought process”.
Are there such people that have never made ” an irrational thought process”?
Are there standardized figures which can be used to determine the amount of “irrational thought processes” which constitute idiocy?

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Posted: 08 June 2009 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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VYAZMA - 08 June 2009 05:30 AM

I’d love for someone to give me an example of “an irrational thought process”.

Believing that flying is more dangerous than driving and so driving from NY to Chicago instead of taking a plane. That’s one example. There are a million others.

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Posted: 08 June 2009 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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dougsmith - 08 June 2009 06:24 AM
VYAZMA - 08 June 2009 05:30 AM

I’d love for someone to give me an example of “an irrational thought process”.

Believing that flying is more dangerous than driving and so driving from NY to Chicago instead of taking a plane. That’s one example. There are a million others.

So there are millions of examples…..?  This begins to muddy the water. I would have to believe that everyone makes irrational thought processes.
Discriminating against someone due to their ethnicity.
Paying out more in interest, than the value of the priniple in a given term.
Throwing a pinch of salt over ones shoulder for good luck.
Apparently making decisions based on fear is irrational too.

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 08 June 2009 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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VYAZMA - 08 June 2009 06:59 AM

I would have to believe that everyone makes irrational thought processes.

Sure. We are hardwired biologically to have irrational thought processes. Some of the work behind the awareness of this fact won a Nobel Prize for Daniel Kahnemann in his work with Amos Tversky.

There is nobody who is completely immune to irrationality. I’d have thought that was a biological impossibility. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a distinction between some people who appear in daily life to be more irrational and others who appear less so.

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Posted: 08 June 2009 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I’m Unemployed - 07 June 2009 09:34 PM

There was no objective justification given for the idea that such a large portion of the populace is unintelligent, and in my experience such claims indicate that the person making them feel that nearly all others are far less intelligent than they without justification, and I think that attitude is kind of disgusting.

You are missing the point of the piece. As humorous as it was, it incorporates are really interesting idea and one quite contrary to the simplistic false dichotomy of self-interest versus altruism and of many more realistic and sophisticated elaborations of such concepts. Namely it provided an amusing operational definition of stupidity, that of behaving in a way to the detriment of others and oneself - a category that it looks virtually undeniable to exist (although I would be interested in attempts to do so), yet has been missed by many great thinkers studying practical rationality.

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