# The Sixth Law of Stupidity: A Biophysical Interpretation of Carlo Cipolla’s Stupidity Laws

^{1}

^{2}

^{*}

## Abstract

**:**

## 1. Introduction

## 2. Methods

_{1}/dt = aL

_{1}− bL

_{1}L

_{2}

_{2}/dt = ηbL

_{1}L

_{2}− cL

_{2}

_{1}represents the population of the first trophic level (the prey, or rabbits). L

_{2}is the population of the second level (the predators, or foxes). a, b, and c are constant coefficients, η is an efficiency parameter that ranges from zero to one. In the standard version of the model, all these coefficients are positive. The interplay of the parameters in the LV model generates continuous oscillations in that the two populations tend to go through cycles of rapid growth and sudden collapses. This periodic behavior is driven by L

_{1}L

_{2,}originating major nonlinearities when either population become small while the other is large. This allows the minority population to recover and fosters the oscillations.

_{1}(prey) population, while the predator population is effectively regulated by that of the prey:

_{1}/dt = aL

_{1}(1−a/N) − bL

_{1}L

_{2}

_{2}/dt = ηbL

_{1}L

_{2}− cL

_{2}

## 3. Results

#### 3.1. First and Third Quadrants: Bandits and Their Helpless Victims

_{1}corresponding to the victim and L

_{2}to the bandit. The figure below shows how the system evolves in time according to the LV equations, solved iteratively. In the figure, the y−scale represents the level of the stocks and it can be seen as a measure of the monetary wealth of the agents: bandits and victims (Figure 2).

_{2}/dt > 0. This condition implies ηbL

_{1}/c > 1. This expression is the ROI, the return on the investment in robbery. In a biophysical system, this parameter is called EROI or EROEI (energy return on energy invested) [20]. According to Cipolla, a “perfect” bandit is one whose gains exactly equals the loss of the victim, but this is not possible in the real world because of the limits set by the laws of thermodynamics (η must be smaller than 1). Nevertheless, bandits will normally try to maximize their ROI/EROI by being as efficient as possible (η close to 1). They may also try to decrease the value of the c coefficient, decreasing the cost of banditry. Another possible strategy for them is to increase the value of the b coefficient, increasing the intensity of their robbing activity. Note that the formula implies that the return on investment of the bandits is proportional to that of their victims. That agrees with the common wisdom that bandits should always rob rich people (something that Robin Hood understood without the need for mathematical models).

#### 3.2. Second Quadrant: Intelligent Agents

_{1}/dt = 0. The consequence is that L

_{2}= a(1 − a/N)/b. The symbionts involved in the energy exchange should try to maximize this expression, which involves a = N/2, that is L

_{2}= N/4b. Since we can express b as a function of L

_{1}, we can obtain a relation between L

_{1}and L

_{2}at homeostasis. The result is L

_{2}= ηNL

_{1}/4c, which indicates the requirements to maximize the efficiency of symbiosis.

#### 3.3. Fourth Quadrant: Stupid People

## 4. Discussion

“Some are stupid and others are not, and that 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.”

## 5. Conclusions

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Institutional Review Board Statement

## Informed Consent Statement

## Acknowledgments

## Conflicts of Interest

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**Figure 1.**Cipolla’s quadrants: diagram showing the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

**Figure 3.**Results of the LV model for the second quadrant of Cipolla’s model. The two populations tend to converge to a stable condition (an attractor of the system).

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Perissi, I.; Bardi, U. The Sixth Law of Stupidity: A Biophysical Interpretation of Carlo Cipolla’s Stupidity Laws. *Systems* **2021**, *9*, 57.
https://doi.org/10.3390/systems9030057

**AMA Style**

Perissi I, Bardi U. The Sixth Law of Stupidity: A Biophysical Interpretation of Carlo Cipolla’s Stupidity Laws. *Systems*. 2021; 9(3):57.
https://doi.org/10.3390/systems9030057

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Perissi, Ilaria, and Ugo Bardi. 2021. "The Sixth Law of Stupidity: A Biophysical Interpretation of Carlo Cipolla’s Stupidity Laws" *Systems* 9, no. 3: 57.
https://doi.org/10.3390/systems9030057