What is stupidity? A call to share: “Entropy Of Welfare”

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Some years ago I was talking with my friend David about stupidity. He told me about the definition of stupidity by Carlo Maria Cipolla, an italian history and economy professor. Cipolla deeply studied the concept about human stupidity trying to define it and creating the 5 laws of stupidity. There are many studies related to this but until now none of them could provide a clear definition of it. Stupidity appears in a subjective and human environment but detailed definitions are hard to achieve.

Anyway, the explanation of Cipolla could be resumed in a diagram representing, that in one word is a way to understand human life.

1. I benefit myself damaging others

Unfortunately this is the common posture in this planet. Everything is based on self profit and nobody cares about the impact of his/her own behavior unto others. Just look around on this planet and realize that the vast majority try to achieve this point. Banks, big corporations and governments, don’t care about the pain in this world, exploiting any resource for their own interests.

2. I benefit others and damage myself

This is the position of the altruist. The good guy, the one that doesn’t care to damage him/herself to help others. Unfortunately people like this is rare and the few ones that exist usually become an object of cult.

3. I damage others and I damage myself

This is the behavior of the stupid. His/her behavior does not create any benefit for anybody. Unfortunately this is the the common result in this world. Almost anybody try to behave as in point 1 but at the end almost everybody ends in this point, doing the most stupid thing: Hurting him/herself and hurting others.

4. I benefit myself and create benefit to others

This is the behavior of the intelligent. This is the goal that everybody as individual and as a group, or as a company or government should try to achieve. It’s not so difficult, just start to share and help others even in small things. Don’t think always and only if the current action will provide us a direct benefit. Maybe it does not provide a direct benefit now, but in the future we will see the fruits of this behavior.

This four points could be better understood in this diagram:


Internet and free and open licenses as Creative Commons and GPL are an example of this. In internet the people usually help others, answering questions, sharing information, as programs, movies, music or any other kind of things, including their time.
Sharing with others, helping others even in small things, even without a direct impact in our bank account or any other direct benefit will help to increase the entropy of welfare.
Benefit our environment will benefit ourselves too.

Finally this is an interesting video about stupidity:


2 Comments on “What is stupidity? A call to share: “Entropy Of Welfare””

  1. It would be great that (1) were most common, at least there would be anybody beneficiated. ;-)

    My experience says that (3) is more common (and Cipolla’s work says the same)

  2. It would be great that (1) were most common, at least there would be anybody beneficiated. ;-)

    My experience says that (3) is more common (and Cipolla’s work says the same)

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