Sunday, 2 June 2013


And a thought from Nikolaas Tinbergen

Sheffield forensic psychologist Galen Ives has proposed four Laws of Stupidity, 'on a par perhaps with Newton’s Laws of Motion or the Laws of Thermodynamics in their universal applicability –
  1. Stupidity is a universal human faculty, not found in animals. – This means, inevitably, that you are stupid and so am I.
  2. Stupidity is not the opposite of intelligence, they are orthogonal dimensions. – This means that it is possible for someone to be highly intelligent and extremely stupid at the same time.
  3. Whilst the stupidity of others is obvious, one’s own is entirely invisible, irrespective of magnitude. – This accounts for the common illusion that one is the only intelligent being on the planet.
  4. Unlike intelligence, stupidity is additive, so that the stupidity of a group equals the sum of the stupidity of its members. – Groups, such as corporations or governments, are therefore capable of acts of stupidity which far exceed anything any individuals could manage by themselves.
Nikolaas Tinbergen may have been on to the same thing –
I believe that I have discovered the missing link between animals and intelligent life: it is us.

Ives, G. (2013) The Laws of Stupidity, The Psychologist, vol. 26, no 6, p. 385

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