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  • Published: 5 November 2019
  • ISBN: 9780753554838
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $23.00

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

The International Bestseller

The first UK and US publication of the classic international bestseller that set out to detect, understand and neutralise the most powerful dark force known to man: stupidity.

'A classic' - Simon Kuper, Financial Times
'Brilliant' - James O'Brien, author of How to be Right
The five laws that confirm our worst fears: stupid people can and do rule the world.

Since time immemorial, a powerful dark 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 pub. This is the immensely powerful force of human stupidity.

Seeing the shambolic state of human affairs, and sensing the dark force at work behind it, Carlo M. Cipolla, the late, noted professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley, created a vitally important economic model that would allow us to detect, know and neutralise this threat: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.

If you've ever found yourself despairing at the ubiquity of stupidity among even the most 'intellectual' of people, then this hilarious, timely and slightly alarming little book is for you. Arm yourself in the face of baffling political realities, unreasonable colleagues or the unbridled misery of dinner with the in-laws with the first and only economic model for stupidity.

  • Published: 5 November 2019
  • ISBN: 9780753554838
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $23.00

About the author

Carlo M. Cipolla

Carlo M. Cipolla (1922 - 2000) was an Italian economic historian, Fulbright Fellow and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Cipolla was elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 1989 and awarded the International Balzan Prize for Economic History in 1995. He also held honorary degrees in Italy and Switzerland.

His classic treatise The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity has sold more than half a million copies worldwide in over ten languages.

Praise for The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

Cipolla's subtle tongue-in-cheek humour made this book an underground classic in Italy. Today, under current worldwide political trends, it reads more like black humour. Keep in mind: reliable statistical data shows that 98% of the people seriously believe that they are far less stupid than the average.

Carlo Rovelli, author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

A masterly book

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A classic

Simon Kuper, Financial Times

This is a very funny book, but Carlo Cipolla's underlying insight really matters: there's a lot of stupidity about, including in society's highest circles - and the stupid wield a surprising amount of power, because the rest of us can never guess what idiotic thing they'll do next. We need to get wise to stupidity, and Cipolla's drily witty rules are a great place to start.

Oliver Burkeman


James O'Brien, author of How to be Right

Subtly lacerating

Publishers Weekly

The more you confront actual stupidity in everyday life, the more infuriating it is, whereas the more you contemplate it in the abstract, the more amusing it becomes. Cipolla finds the perfect tone to handle this paradox. On the page, he is arch and slightly annoyed, with a good deal of mock scholarly gravity thrown in.... Cipolla is very droll, and his theories-however deeply he has implanted his tongue in his cheek-have a helpful, clarifying quality

Commentary Magazine

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