I Just Saw this Picture and I’m So Disturbed. Because it’s Me.

Powerfully and viscerally written piece on racism.


13653430_1070638483027630_2650636656912865440_o-1 This morning The Love Life of an Asian Guy posted this picture on facebook with the following commentary:

This is one of the most powerful images I’ve seen in years.

You’re peeking directly into the laboratory of white supremacy. A system that will send TWO men in full riot gear to arrest ONE Black woman for one purpose: give her a criminal record.

If she is charged (most Black protestors are) for participating in a peaceful protest, she’ll be forced to disclose her new criminal record on ALL job applications and applications for rent.

That one small change can limit where she works, how much she can get paid, and where she can rent.

The implications are LIFE CHANGING. This act of arresting peaceful Black protestors is SYSTEMATIC RACISM AT WORK, BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES.

“You’re a Harvard Law graduate? 7 years of experience? Nice! Ooh, it looks like…

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The Best and Worst of 2015 – Genetic Genealogy Year in Review

Lots of good Genealogy and DNA testing info on this blog.

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

2015 Best and Worst

For the past three years I’ve written a year-in-review article. You can see just how much the landscape has changed in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 versions.

This year, I’ve added a few specific “award” categories for people or firms that I feel need to be specially recognized as outstanding in one direction or the other.

In past years, some news items, announcements and innovations turned out to be very important like the Genographic Project and GedMatch, and others, well, not so much. Who among us has tested their full genome today, for example, or even their exome?  And would you do with that information if you did?

And then there are the deaths, like the Sorenson database and Ancestry’s own Y and mitochondrial data base. I still shudder to think how much we’ve lost at the corporate hands of Ancestry.

In past years, there have often been big new…

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How to cure the banality of Superman (My movie Trilogy idea)

So, Man of Steel could have been a good movie with a few changes but the main problem I have with it is that it tried to do to much and really should have been two or three movies. The best parts in my opinion were those showing Clark before he became Superman except for that abominable scene with his father dying. Anyway, here is my idea for a trilogy of movies or story arc for a reboot/retcon in the comics. Much like Nolan’s Batman the various Superman movies seem to forget that Clark is supposed to be a genius and not just super powered fists.

Movie 1.

Start off with Lex and Clark testing a prototype 3D printing technology to grow an advanced crystalline building that is fully self sufficient and powered by sunlight in just a few days. When doing this they get bathed in some really intense reflected and refracted sunlight as a byproduct of the growing process. They bicker in a friendly way and our proud of their creation. Clark has to leave to play football at his university. Clark has a full ride and is paying his way via the scientific patents that Lex and he made in high school. Lex isn’t interested in college and drops out after realizing he is smarter and more knowledgeable than any of the professors and drops out to create Kent-Luthor Incorporated. Some of Clark’s inspirations for certain aspects of the design come from strange dreams.

Clark is a star linebacker with a miracle season as a freshman and accidentally breaks the spine of the other team’s quarterback in an impossible tackle after an entire game in which Clark is at the top of his game having never played better. Clark gets depressed and drops out of college and stops collaborating with Lex leading to Lex having difficulties finishing their project and having to team up with a corrupt megacorp to bring it to the market. Corrupt politicians and the CEO of the megacorp steal almost all the profit and patents from Lex (and Clark) forcing him to start over completely with Lex Corp with only a few a million in cash and an advanced lab.

Clark travels much like Man of Steel. He gets mugged and shot while being a cashier at a liquor store. At the hospital he discovers the bullet didn’t go that deep and that he heals really fast. He works a night shift for awhile and finds himself getting sluggish and his strength lowering to what would be normal for an human with his physique. Clark tries to help people in small ways and ends up having success as a blogger writing about slumlord corruption that impacted a coworker. The slumlord has goons attack Clark and fail but in the process his new friend dies. Clark hides his identity and puts on a mask to take on the slumlord who was also an human trafficker. This is the climax of movie 1. (Basically he is like Equalizer/Leverage helping people who are too small to count but hasn’t developed any super powers very much beyond a Cap America level.)

After Credits scene: Megacorp cutting corners with Clark and Lex’s technology leading to a disaster in Kansas.

Movie 2.

Clark returns home after the disaster. Finds out his mother was killed while grocery shopping because of a defect of their building technology. The megacorp leans on their pet politicians to try and ruin Lex Corp and place all the bad PR and blame on him. Lex comes to Clark for help. Clark’s dad tells him about his adoption and how once when he was a young boy he had spent all day in the sun just wearing trunks during a day when the sun was deep red and ended up floating off the ground. Avoiding this was the reason that he always made sure he used lots of sunscreen when going outside for very long thinking that he had sensitive skin.  Clark uses his investigative skills to help Lex running into Lois. Clark finds out the adoption agency had no idea where he was from as he was discovered abandoned in the wilderness by Forest rangers during a freak fire started by a fallen meteor. He discovers a necklace with a crystal that had been found with him. Clark and Lex can’t seem to beat the megacorp so Lex turns to crime for money and leverage to counter the megacorp but hides it from Clark. The megacorp sends super soldiers to kill Clark and Lex in different locations. Clark uses his growing abilities (basically a weak Spiderman who can jump an hundred feet) to defeat and turn in the bad guys to the police. Lex uses his criminal connections and the body armor technology he had been developing to survive and kills the bad guys. Lex lies and says no one came after him to Clark. Investigation turns out that the megacorp had used its influence to steal Clark’s childhood space craft and reverse engineer the tech. When Clark arrives at the gutted craft his necklace lights up and the ship turns on allowing him to fly out of megacorp’s facilities.

After Credits scene: Kryptonian ship escapes from a black hole like prison from a civil war thousands of years ago. Ship arrives at Krypton and discovers its destruction. Discovers long dead satellite and rebuilds the brainiac AI. Checks database for seeded colony worlds for ones that might be suitable for rebuilding the Kryptonian Empire.

Movie 3.

Using his ship and the necklace with his own tech and insights Clark builds a fortress of solitude and discovers that he has a genetic codex from Krypton is what gives him his power and gave him the dreams. The fortress trains him in battle and focuses the sunlight into wavelengths that he can absorb better. Think danger room. Learns that he can beam energy out of his eyes but it depletes his energy and thus his super strength and invulnerability. He can also draw out the energy from a system which freezes it but it is exhausting. Goes from weak spidey to past spidey. Jumps thousands of feet but has hard time with landings. Learns about Krypton and his mother who made a copy of her mind which is stored in the crystal Clark had recovered. Mother is the heroic figure of the Krypton side of the story with the father being a tragic naive figure as the brilliant scientist who invents the Codex as a way of preventing loss of knowledge during cyclic cataclysmic disasters and rebuilding and is killed for his discovery. Certain oligarchic elements of Kryptonian society don’t want people to know that the destruction is coming so they can rule over the colonies so they steal the technology to use on their own children so the oligarchs can wield power of generation over generation.

Kryptonian ship finds mostly dead colony worlds or worlds that regressed to savagery or primitivism without Krypton’s guiding hand. A single Kryptonian colony world that is backward but still had some elements of advanced technology as remnants of ancient times attacks them viciously thinking them military rivals as the oligarchs had created their society had collapsed into military/religious autocracy with a distrust of science and democracy. The Kryptonian rebels conquer and dominate the colony defeating the dozen super powered Kryptonians using advanced mecha supersoldiers who walk over the handful of still working advanced kryptonian technological war machines. General Zod uses the last substandard version of the serum of the Kryptonian Codex that exists to become Superhuman.

The megacorp plays with some of the advanced tech from Superman’s spaceship to discover an ancient kryptonian base. This sends a signal which is picked up by the rebels who begin to plan an invasion.

Clark helps out Lois on a project of hers and decides to become an investigative reporter and try to root out corruption.

General Zod, his personal mecha units, the colonial troops and the substandard superhumans invade the earth. Lex defends the midwest with his latest iron man style mech and leverages becomes an hero for power as he will never be a victim again. The megacorp gets wiped out by Zod along with significant damage to many nations and their armies. However bits and pieces of Kryptonian tech becomes available to most major world militaries and major megacorps.

Clark defeats Zod. Hopefully without too many billions of property damage as Clark would pick a battlefield away from people as he isn’t a moron. Discovers he can fly and survive in space without a full suit after taking his childhood spacecraft into space battle and it gets destroyed. The final battle is on the space station that the rebels are building to dominate the earth.

After Credits: Brainaic AI on the old colony world gets fed up with the primitives and takes over.


The Naturalistic Fallacy through the Ages of Man

Late Miocene:

Alpha Orrorin: “How dare you? Walking upright in public? It isn’t natural. Grandfather spirit is grunting in anger. Do you not hear him? It is a slippery slope to perversions like looking at a mate face to face during sex!”


Priestess Lucy: “What do you think you’re doing? Running without using your hands? It isn’t natural. Grandmother spirit shuns you. Do you not hear her? It is a slippery slope to perversions like leaving the forest to live by the sea!”

Lower Paleolithic:

Boss Twiggy: “This is an abomination. Cooking food? Why would you want to ruin perfectly tasty meat and veggies? Cave Bear demands sacrifice. Didn’t you hear that growl? We aren’t meant to eat food with fire next you will be wanting to eat something that lives in the water!”

Middle Paleolithic:

Shaman Amud: “It is forbidden. Making drawings on wall? You steal soul from prey spirits and curse the hunt! It isn’t natural. If spirit animals were meant to be drawn on wall we would have hands that make paint!”

Upper Paleolithic:

Golden Child Lapedo: “It is a trick. Some sort of forbidden magic? I forbid the use of this tool which purports to make it easier to throw spears. What’s next if we allow this? Use a bendable stick with a string to fire small spears great distances? I forbid this.”


Priest Tepexpan: “It is against the way. We drop seeds and move on and come back years later. What kind of perversions would happen if we stayed in one spot all year long? It is against the gods and the ways of man. If we stayed in one spot someone would brew intoxicating drinks and everyone would just lay about and drink!”

Before Common Era:

Dairy Farmer Kujawy: “How dare you waste my milk? Letting it spoil like that. What you made new foods? Disgusting. You can keep your cheese and your yogurt. It isn’t natural they way the Beast God intended it.

Common Era:

Bible Thumper Westboro: “It is a sin. God hates f**s. Marriage is for man and a woman. What’s next? A man marrying a broom? Feminist lesbians having mass marriages? Bestiality? It isn’t natural and against the teachings of the Bible.”


Anti-GMO Activist and Greenpeace veteran Rainbow Moonshine: “It isn’t natural or organic. We shouldn’t eat gluten or frankenfood. GMO is poison and contaminates farm land and the people of Zambia are better off starving by the millions and those children in China deserve healthy blindness rather than poisonous golden rice. I mean duh?!? Eating metal mixed with rice is just insane. Soon we will be eating jellyfish dna in our chickens! So what if genetic modification increases yields and requires less use of pesticides it is still poison and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it caused HIV. Besides what’s next using radiation to induce mutations? It isn’t natural and against Gaia.




My Top Novels, Poetry and Comics

Since a dozen of my friends have posted various versions of the list ten books that touched you I will share 10 books that heavily influenced me before high school. I was a precocious reader and at 10 was reading at a college level so I kind of skipped young adult books for the most part.

1. Dune by Frank Herbert (my first difficult book that I had to get a dictionary to help and practiced trying to say all the words with weird spellings)
2. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (beginning a life long fascination with logic and deduction)
3. Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov (was given a giant book of Asimov classics which were my first SF stories)
4. Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow (a collection of military SF short stories which was my first anthology including Heinlein, PKD, Card, Nourse, Laumer, Saberhagen, Haldeman, Sheffield, Teddy the fish and other greats)
5. Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke (my first SF story with a twist at the end)
6. Magician by Raymond E Feist (my first fantasy series and I could never decide if I related more to Pug or Tomas)
7. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (introduced me to Alexandre Dumas besides being an amazingly powerful story of vengeance and I highly recommend the demolished man and the men who killed mohammed)
8. The Cycle of Fire by Janny Wurts (my second fantasy series that ended up twisting into a SF story and coincidentally Feist and Wurts would end up teaming up on a series years later.
9. The White Plague by Frank Herbert (my first apocalypse end of the world story which ended up being followed by the stand by Stephen King)
10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (My favorite kid book/series along with the really weird short stories he wrote that I found in the elementary school library hidden in a cubbyhole)

Honorable mentions that were read a little later in high school or didn’t have as much of an impact as the above: Songs of Earth and Power by Greg Bear, City by Clifford Simak, the Lensmen/Skylark by EE doc Smith, A wizard of earthsea and left hand of darkness by Ursula K Leguin, Dorsai! by Gordon R Dickson and the rest of the Childe Cycle and Wolfling also by GRD, The Glassbead Game by Herman Hesse, I am barbarian and princess of mars by Burroughs, Lest Darkness Falls by L Sprague de Camp, Peter the Great by Robert K Massie, the hero with a thousand faces, occidental mythology and a dozen other Joseph Campbell books, and A history of the Swedish People by Vilhelm Moberg.

Ah, and before I forget of course Tolkien which would be my fourth fantasy series after the white gold wielder series and followed by Belgariad.

Top five for Poetry:

1.The Childe Roland unto the Dark Tower Came by Robert Browning
2. Love Poems by Elizabeth Browning
3. Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake
4. Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas
5. Kubla Khan by Samuel Coleridge.

Honorable Mention:

Ulysses by Tennyson mainly for this part:

“I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”

Top ten for Comic Books:
Transmetropolitan, Planetary, Hellblazer, Global Frequency, Watchmen, the secret history (come on guys and translate some more books!), sandman, annihilation, Promethea, and House of M.

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

This is one of my favorite bits of humor and insight about the human condition. It is more fun and doesn’t take itself as seriously as the Peter/Dilbert Principle.

This originally was part of a longer book published by The Mad Millers Publishers and is no longer available for purchase. Apparently it was a best seller in Italy. This extract is posted all over the internet. Professor Cipolla was much beloved and taught at Berkeley. He passed away in 2000.

by Carlo M. Cipolla
illustrations by James Donnelly

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

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

Stupid Person No. 1
At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are one’s estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:
a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.
b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol å.

Stupid Person No. 2Cultural trends now fashionable in the West favour an egalitarian approach to life. People like to think of human beings as the output of a perfectly engineered mass production machine. Geneticists and sociologists especially go out of their way to prove, with an impressive apparatus of scientific data and formulations that all men are naturally equal and if some are more equal than others, this is attributable to nurture and not to nature. I take an exception to this general view. It is my firm conviction, supported by years of observation and experimentation, that men are not equal, that some are stupid and others are not, and that the difference is determined by nature and not by cultural forces or factors. One is stupid in the same way one is red-haired; one belongs to the stupid set as one belongs to a blood group. A stupid man is born a stupid man by an act of Providence. Although convinced that fraction of human beings are stupid and that they are so because of genetic traits, I am not a reactionary trying to reintroduce surreptitiously class or race discrimination. I firmly believe that stupidity is an indiscriminate privilege of all human groups and is uniformly distributed according to a constant proportion. This fact is scientifically expressed by the Second Basic Law which states that

The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person. 

In this regard, Nature seems indeed to have outdone herself. It is well known that Nature manages, rather mysteriously, to keep constant the relative frequency of certain natural phenomena. For instance, whether men proliferate at the Northern Pole or at the Equator, whether the matching couples are developed or underdeveloped, whether they are black, red, white or yellow the female to male ratio among the newly born is a constant, with a very slight prevalence of males. We do not know how Nature achieves this remarkable result but we know that in order to achieve it Nature must operate with large numbers. The most remarkable fact about the frequency of stupidity is that Nature succeeds in making this frequency equal to the probability quite independently from the size of the group.

Thus one finds the same percentage of stupid people whether one is considering very large groups or one is dealing with very small ones. No other set of observable phenomena offers such striking proof of the powers of Nature.

The evidence that education has nothing to do with the probability was provided by experiments carried on in a large number of universities all over the world. One may distinguish the composite population which constitutes a university in five major groups, namely the blue-collar workers, the white-collar employees, the students, the administrators and the professors.

Whenever I analyzed the blue-collar workers I found that the fraction å of them were stupid. As å‘s value was higher than I expected (First Law), paying my tribute to fashion I thought at first that segregation, poverty, lack of education were to be blamed. But moving up the social ladder I found that the same ratio was prevalent among the white-collar employees and among the students. More impressive still were the results among the professors. Whether I considered a large university or a small college, a famous institution or an obscure one, I found that the same fraction å of the professors are stupid. So bewildered was I by the results, that I made a special point to extend my research to a specially selected group, to a real elite, the Nobel laureates. The result confirmed Nature’s supreme powers: å fraction of the Nobel laureates are stupid.

This idea was hard to accept and digest but too many experimental results proved its fundamental veracity. The Second Basic Law is an iron law, and it does not admit exceptions. The Women’s Liberation Movement will support the Second Basic Law as it shows that stupid individuals are proportionately as numerous among men as among women. The underdeveloped of the Third World will probably take solace at the Second Basic Law as they can find in it the proof that after all the developed are not so developed. Whether the Second Basic Law is liked or not, however, its implications are frightening: the Law implies that whether you move in distinguished circles or you take refuge among the head-hunters of Polynesia, whether you lock yourself into a monastery or decide to spend the rest of your life in the company of beautiful and lascivious women, you always have to face the same percentage of stupid people – which percentage (in accordance with the First Law) will always surpass your expectations.


The Third Basic Law assumes, although it does not state it explicitly, that human beings fall into four basic categories: the helpless, the intelligent, the bandit and the stupid. It will be easily recognized by the perspicacious reader that these four categories correspond to the four areas I, H, S, B, of the basic graph (see below).

Figure 1

If Tom takes an action and suffers a loss while producing a gain to Dick, Tom’s mark will fall in field H: Tom acted helplessly. If Tom takes an action by which he makes a gain while yielding a gain also to Dick, Tom’s mark will fall in area I: Tom acted intelligently. If Tom takes an action by which he makes a gain causing Dick a loss, Tom’s mark will fall in area B: Tom acted as a bandit. Stupidity is related to area S and to all positions on axis Y below point O. As the Third Basic Law explicitly clarifies:

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses. 

When confronted for the first time with the Third Basic Law, rational people instinctively react with feelings of skepticism and incredulity. The fact is that reasonable people have difficulty in conceiving and understanding unreasonable behaviour. But let us abandon the lofty plane of theory and let us look pragmatically at our daily life. We all recollect occasions in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his gain and our loss: we had to deal with a bandit. We also recollect cases in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his loss and our gain: we had to deal with a helpless person. We can recollect cases in which a fellow took an action by which both parties gained: he was intelligent. Such cases do indeed occur. But upon thoughtful reflection you must admit that these are not the events which punctuate most frequently our daily life. Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation – or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.


Most people do not act consistently. Under certain circumstances a given person acts intelligently and under different circumstances the same person will act helplessly. The only important exception to the rule is represented by the stupid people who normally show a strong proclivity toward perfect consistency in all fields of human endeavours.

From all that proceeds, it does not follow that we can chart on the basic graph only stupid individuals. We can calculate for each person his weighted average position in the plane of figure 1 quite independently from his degree of inconsistency. A helpless person may occasionally behave intelligently and on occasion he may perform a bandit’s action. But since the person in question is fundamentally helpless most of his action will have the characteristics of helplessness. Thus the overall weighted average position of all the actions of such a person will place him in the H quadrant of the basic graph.

The fact that it is possible to place on the graph individuals instead of their actions allows some digression about the frequency of the bandit and stupid types.

The perfect bandit is one who, with his actions, causes to other individuals losses equal to his gains. The crudest type of banditry is theft. A person who robs you of 100 pounds without causing you an extra loss or harm is a perfect bandit: you lose 100 pounds, he gains 100 pounds. In the basic graph the perfect bandits would appear on a 45-degree diagonal line that divides the area B into two perfectly symmetrical sub-areas (line OM of figure 2).

Figure 2

However the “perfect” bandits are relatively few. The line OM divides the area B into two sub-areas, B1, and B2, and by far the largest majority of the bandits falls somewhere in one of these two sub-areas.

The bandits who fall in area B1 are those individuals whose actions yield to them profits which are larger than the losses they cause to other people. All bandits who are entitled to a position in area B1 are bandits with overtones of intelligence and as they get closer to the right side of the X axis they share more and more the characteristics of the intelligent person.

Unfortunately the individuals entitled to a position in the B1 area are not very numerous. Most bandits actually fall in area B2. The individuals who fall in this area are those whose actions yield to them gains inferior to the losses inflicted to other people. If someone kills you in order to rob you of fifty pounds or if he murders you in order to spend a weekend with your wife at Monte Carlo, we can be sure that he is not a perfect bandit. Even by using his values to measure his gains (but still using your values to measure your losses) he falls in the B2 area very close to the border of sheer stupidity. Generals who cause vast destruction and innumerable casualties in return for a promotion or a medal fall in the same area.

The frequency distribution of the stupid people is totally different from that of the bandit. While bandits are mostly scattered over an area stupid people are heavily concentrated along one line, specifically on the Y axis below point O. The reason for this is that by far the majority of stupid people are basically and unwaveringly stupid – in other words they perseveringly insist in causing harm and losses to other people without deriving any gain, whether positive or negative.

There are however people who by their improbable actions not only cause damages to other people but in addition hurt themselves. They are a sort of super-stupid who, in our system of accounting, will appear somewhere in the area S to the left of the Y axis.


It is not difficult to understand how social, political and institutional power enhances the damaging potential of a stupid person. But one still has to explain and understand what essentially it is that makes a stupid person dangerous to other people – in other words what constitutes the power of stupidity.

Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behaviour. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit’s actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit’s actions, his nasty manoeuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy. Because the stupid person’s actions do not conform to the rules of rationality, it follows that:

a) one is generally caught by surprise by the attack; b) even when one becomes aware of the attack, one cannot organize a rational defense, because the attack itself lacks any rational structure.

The fact that the activity and movements of a stupid creature are absolutely erratic and irrational not only makes defense problematic but it also makes any counter-attack extremely difficult – like trying to shoot at an object which is capable of the most improbable and unimaginable movements. This is what both Dickens and Schiller had in mind when the former stated that “with stupidity and sound digestion man may front much” and the latter wrote that “against stupidity the very Gods fight in vain.”


That helpless people, namely those who in our accounting system fall into the H area, do not normally recognize how dangerous stupid people are, is not at all surprising. Their failure is just another expression of their helplessness. The truly amazing fact, however, is that also intelligent people and bandits often fail to recognize the power to damage inherent in stupidity. It is extremely difficult to explain why this should happen and one can only remark that when confronted with stupid individuals often intelligent men as well as bandits make the mistake of indulging in feelings of self-complacency and contemptuousness instead of immediately secreting adequate quantities of adrenaline and building up defenses.

One is tempted to believe that a stupid man will only do harm to himself but this is confusing stupidity with helplessness. On occasion one is tempted to associate oneself with a stupid individual in order to use him for one’s own schemes. Such a manoeuvre cannot but have disastrous effects because a) it is based on a complete misunderstanding of the essential nature of stupidity and b) it gives the stupid person added scope for the exercise of his gifts. One may hope to outmanoeuvre the stupid and, up to a point, one may actually do so. But because of the erratic behaviour of the stupid, one cannot foresee all the stupid’s actions and reactions and before long one will be pulverized by the unpredictable moves of the stupid partner.

This is clearly summarized in the Fourth Basic Law which states that:

Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake. 

Through centuries and millennia, in public as in private life, countless individuals have failed to take account of the Fourth Basic Law and the failure has caused mankind incalculable losses.


Instead of considering the welfare of the individual let us consider the welfare of the society, regarded in this context as the algebraic sum of the individual conditions. A full understanding of the Fifth Basic Law is essential to the analysis. It may be parenthetically added here that of the Five Basic Laws, the Fifth is certainly the best known and its corollary is quoted very frequently. The Fifth Basic Law states that:

A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person. 

The corollary of the Law is that:

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit. 

The result of the action of a perfect bandit (the person who falls on line OM of figure 2) is purely and simply a transfer of wealth and/or welfare. After the action of a perfect bandit, the bandit has a plus on his account which plus is exactly equivalent to the minus he has caused to another person. The society as a whole is neither better nor worse off. If all members of a society were perfect bandits the society would remain stagnant but there would be no major disaster. The whole business would amount to massive transfers of wealth and welfare in favour of those who would take action. If all members of the society would take action in regular turns, not only the society as a whole but also individuals would find themselves in a perfectly steady state of no change.

When stupid people are at work, the story is totally different. Stupid people cause losses to other people with no counterpart of gains on their own account. Thus the society as a whole is impoverished. The system of accounting which finds expression in the basic graphs shows that while all actions of individuals falling to the right of the line POM (see fig. 3) add to the welfare of a society; although in different degrees, the actions of all individuals falling to the left of the same line POM cause a deterioration.

Figure 3

In other words the helpless with overtones of intelligence (area H1), the bandits with overtones of intelligence (area B1) and above all the intelligent (area I) all contribute, though in different degrees, to accrue to the welfare of a society. On the other hand the bandits with overtones of stupidity (area B2) and the helpless with overtones of stupidity (area H1) manage to add losses to those caused by stupid people thus enhancing the nefarious destructive power of the latter group.

All this suggests some reflection on the performance of societies. According to the Second Basic Law, the fraction of stupid people is a constant å which is not affected by time, space, race, class or any other socio- cultural or historical variable. It would be a profound mistake to believe the number of stupid people in a declining society is greater than in a developing society. Both such societies are plagued by the same percentage of stupid people. The difference between the two societies is that in the society which performs poorly:

a) the stupid members of the society are allowed by the other members to become more active and take more actions; b) there is a change in the composition of the non-stupid section with a relative decline of populations of areas I, H1 and B1 and a proportionate increase of populations H2 and B2.

This theoretical presumption is abundantly confirmed by an exhaustive analysis of historical cases. In fact the historical analysis allows us to reformulate the theoretical conclusions in a more factual way and with more realistic detail.

Whether one considers classical, or medieval, or modern or contemporary times one is impressed by the fact that any country moving uphill has its unavoidable å fraction of stupid people. However the country moving uphill also has an unusually high fraction of intelligent people who manage to keep the å fraction at bay and at the same time produce enough gains for themselves and the other members of the community to make progress a certainty.

In a country which is moving downhill, the fraction of stupid people is still equal to å; however in the remaining population one notices among those in power an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity (sub-area B1 of quadrant B in figure 3) and among those not in power an equally alarming growth in the number of helpless individuals (area H in basic graph, fig.1). Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the å fraction and makes decline a certainty. And the country goes to Hell.

Response to a Quartz article on education

Earlier education is a terrible idea. Studies in Scandinavia repeatedly have shown that starting school before six leads to lowered performance and often creates anxiety based problems and dislike towards schooling that lasts a lifetime.

How about less homework but more projects like the finland model? Most Finns have less than 3 hours of homework a week because their time is not wasted on repetitive busy work. They actually focus on learning in the classroom with the teacher being a guide subtly directing the class with most of the discussion being done by the students. Instead in america we have kids sitting listening to teachers who for the most part lecture and abhor tangents and it is by tangents that actual understanding comes through connecting the dots to something meaningful to the students instead of rote memorization which is worthless.

Montessori, summer hills and other schooling systems have proven to be much more effective. Scientists are 8 times more likely than typical students to have strong Art and Music skills yet funding for such is always tenuous.

We have a great system if the goal is to train industrial workers and soldiers using the Prussian model of the 19th century and Pavlovian training with bells and rigid time tables.

If we want creative and competent thinkers we have to abandon Lectio for more Disputio to spout some Latin. More language study, more arts, more fun and hands dirty science and more questions with less ‘work’.

Starting earlier to imprison kids and take them away from strong parental involvement is a terrible idea. How about more vacation time for workers so parents could spend more time with their families like in all of europe? How about daycare help and maternity aids like france has where people come by and help exhausted parents with house chores. The key to strong development and a love of learning comes from parents and parents must have the time and energy to bond with their kids. A kid can learn more and understand the world more with a two week vacation to a far off country than two weeks in a chair. Self directed learning towards passions of the student and more focus time on the strengths of a student will work wonders. If a kid who loves dinosaurs realizes he needs to learn math and scientific to go further will WANT to learn math and science and will CHOOSE to study them and will run circles around a kid taught by a teacher with a lesson plan that can’t be deviated from.