The phrase, attributed to Albert Einstein, expresses the ancient idea. “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but I still have doubts about the universe.” As early as 250 a. C. the biblical book of Ecclesiastes warned: “Infinite is the number of fools”, revealing that the problem had already been caught in all its gravity.
But what is meant by stupidity? The concept, instinctively known to all, however, appear to escape any theoretical definition. It is the opposite of intelligence: there are intelligent people who, at times, act as silly.
How to define stupidity? The economist Carlo Cipolla has developed an effective system to identify unambiguously: a Cartesian graph. The horizontal axis measures the income that you get from their actions, the vertical axis indicates the gain you get another person or a group of other people. The gain can be positive, zero or negative (ie a loss). The two axes determine 4Q identifying 4 “human types”:
the unwary, who, by their actions hurt themselves while producing an advantage for someone else;
intelligent, people whose actions benefit them and also the other;
bandits, people who act to benefit but harm others; and stupid: people who cause harm to others without realizing any benefit for himself or even possibly incurring losses. The worst possible outcome.
The causes of stupidity according to an experiment conducted by psychologist Balazs Aczel, dell’Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, there are three situations that encourage us to stupid behavior. The first context, considered by researchers the most serious, is that of “confident ignorance.” All overestimate us a classic example is when we get behind the wheel after a glass too, are sure that the machine comes in accidents only to others.
The second is related to the “lack of control” classic case, we arrive late for an important appointment to play the last game or to see the end of a show. The third type of stupidity is called “mental absence” (venial, but deadly in certain circumstances) and it is when we do not pay attention to what we are doing. For example, when we cross the street reading a message on cellphone. Stupidity is contagious. The crowds, ie, they are much more stupid than the individuals who compose them. This also explains how can easily be conditioned to pursue insane objectives. A well-known phenomenon in psychology. The emotional contagion own group decreases critical skills. Occurs the “polarization of the decision” taken: you choose the simplest solution, which is often also the least intelligent. As the Romans said, Senatores boni viri, Senatus evil beast: although individual senators are good people, the Senate is an ugly beast.