Re: I'm stupid, im smart, im just plain crazy, doda-doda

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Fri, 11 Nov 1994 15:23:12 -0500

On Stupidity;

Some years ago there was a wonderful little piece in Coevolution
Quarterly by an Italian economist - forget his name at this moment,
called "an economic definition of stupidity."

He had a standard four-cell diagram. On the top was "hurt self, help
self" on the side was "hurt other, help other." There are four boxes,
describing the outcomes of four strategies.

The help self/help other box was the optimum outcome of good behavior.
The help self/hurt other box is evil
The help other, hurt self box is altruism

And you guessed it, the hurt self/hurt other box is STUPIDITY.

He has a wonderful law, developed from this analysis. To paraphrase,
"the proportion of stupid people in any population is a constant"

He says, nobel prize winners or oil-barge drivers will have the same
proportion of stupid behavior. Judging by my first hand observations in
academia, I have to say I think he is right.!
Richard Wilk Anthropology Dept.
812-855-8162 (voice) Indiana University
812-855-4358 (fax) Bloomington, IN 47405