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Cipolla, Carlo M. The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. New York. 2019. Doubleday. 9780385546478. Foreword by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. 82 pages. hardcover. Cover design by John Fontana.

 

9780385546478FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

An economist explains five laws that confirm our worst fears: stupid people can and do rule the world. Throughout history, a powerful force has hindered the growth of human welfare and happiness. It is more powerful than the Mafia or the military. It has global catastrophic effects and can be found anywhere from the world's most powerful boardrooms to your local bar. It is human stupidity.

 

Cipolla Carlo MCarlo M. Cipolla (15 August 1922 – 5 September 2000) was an Italian economic historian. As a young man, Cipolla wanted to teach history and philosophy in an Italian high school, and therefore enrolled at the political science faculty at the University of Pavia. While a student there, thanks to professor Franco Borlandi, a specialist in medieval economic history, he discovered his passion for economic history. He graduated from Pavia in 1944. Subsequently he studied at the University of Paris and the London  School of Economics. Cipolla obtained his first teaching post in economic history in Catania at the age of 27. This was to be the first stop in a long academic career in Italy (Venice, Turin, Pavia, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Fiesole) and abroad. In 1953 Cipolla left for the United States as a Fulbright fellow and in 1957 became a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Two years later he obtained a full professorship. Cipolla produced two essays on economics, circulated (in English) among friends in 1973 and 1976, then published in 1988 (in Italian) under the title Allegro, ma non troppo ("Forward, but not too fast" or "Happy, but not too much", from the musical phrase meaning "Quickly, but not too quick"). The first essay, "The Role of Spices (and Black Pepper in Particular) in Medieval Economic Development" ("Il ruolo delle spezie (e del pepe nero in particolare) nello sviluppo economico del Medioevo", 1973), traces the curious correlations between spice import and population expansion in the late Middle Ages, postulating a causation due to a supposed aphrodisiac effect of black pepper. The second essay, "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" ("Le leggi fondamentali della stupidità umana", 1976), explores the controversial subject of stupidity. Stupid people are seen as a group, more powerful by far than major organizations such as the Mafia and the industrial complex, which without regulations, leaders or manifesto nonetheless manages to operate to great effect and with incredible coordination.

 


 

 

 


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