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Stupidity

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Main PageDictionary → Stupidity


Quote: «Germay original:
Die Herrschaft der Dummen ist unüberwindlich, weil es so viele sind, und ihre Stimmen zählen genau wie unsere.

English translation:

The reign of the stupid is invincible, because there are so many, and their votes are just equal ours.» - Albert Einstein[wp][1]
Quote: «Two things are infinite: the universe and the human stupidity.»[2]
Quote: «Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.»[3]
Quote: «Germay original:
Wenn man eine Sache irgendwie mit Dummheit erklären kann, dann soll man Dummheit annehmen. Zur Gerissenheit gehört Geist, und der ist selten.

English translation:

If you can explain with stupidity one thing somehow, then they should accept stupidity. To cunning belongs mind, and that is rare.» - Rainer[4]
Quote: «Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.» - Wikipedia: Hanlon's razor
Quote: «Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice.» - Wikipedia: Hanlon's razor
Quote: «Germay original:
Der Horizont vieler Menschen ist ein Kreis mit Radius Null - und das nennen sie ihren Standpunkt.

English translation:

The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius - which they call their point of view.»[5]
Quote: «Germay original:
Mit dummen Menschen zu streiten, ist wie mit einer Taube Schach zu spielen.
Egal, wie gut du Schach spielst, die Taube wird alle Figuren umwerfen, auf das Brett kacken und herumstolzieren, als hätte sie gewonnen.

English translation:

Fighting with stupid people is like playing chess with a dove.
No matter how well you play chess, the dove will upset all the figures, poop on the board and then struts around like it had won.
Negotiating with stupid people is like playing chess with a pigeon.
No matter how good you are, the pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.»

References

  1. Albert Einstein kurz vor seinem Tod gegenüber seiner Freundin Johanna Fantova, zitiert in Focus Nr. 52 (2004) Das geheimnisvolle Genie
  2. As discussed in this entry from The Quote Investigator, the earliest published attribution of a similar quote to Einstein seems to have been in Gestalt therapist Frederick S. Perls'[wp] 1969 book Gestalt Theory Verbatim, where he wrote on p. 33: "As Albert Einstein once said to me: 'Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.' But what is much more widespread than the actual stupidity is the playing stupid, turning off your ear, not listening, not seeing." Perls also offered another variant in his 1972 book In and Out the Garbage Pail, where he mentioned a meeting with Einstein and on p. 52 quoted him saying: "Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe." However, Perls had given yet another variant of this quote in an earlier book, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression: a Revision of Freud’s Theory and Method (originally published 1942, although the Quote Investigator only checked that the quote appeared in the 1947 edition), where he attributed it not to Einstein but to a "great astronomer", writing: "As modern times promote hasty eating to a large extent, it is not surprising to learn that a great astronomer said: 'Two things are infinite, as far as we know - the universe and human stupidity.' To-day we know that this statement is not quite correct. Einstein has proved that the universe is limited." So, the later attributions in 1969 and 1972 may have been a case of faulty memory, or of intentionally trying to increase the authority of the quote by attributing it to Einstein. The quote itself may be a variant of a similar quote attributed even earlier to the philosopher Ernest Renan[wp], found for example in The Public: Volume 18 from 1915, which says on p. 1126: "He quotes the saying of Renan: it isn't the stars that give him an idea of infinity; it is man's stupidity." (Other examples of similar attributions to Renan can be found on this google books search.) Renan was French so this is presumably intended as a translation, but different sources give different versions of the supposed original French quote, such as "La bêtise humaine est la seule chose qui donne une idée de l'infini" (found for example in Réflexions sur la vie, 1895-1898 by Remy de Gourmont from 1903, p. 103, along with several other early sources as seen in this search) and "Ce n'est pas l'immensité de la voûte étoilée qui peut donner le plus complétement l'idée de l'infini, mais bien la bêtise humaine!" (found in Broad views, Volume 2 from 1904, p. 465). Since these variants have not been found in Renan's own writings, they may represent false attributions as well. They may also be variants of an even older saying; for example, the 1880 book Des vers by Guy de Maupassant[wp] includes on p. 9 a quote from a letter (dated February 19, 1880) by Gustave Flaubert[wp] where Flaubert writes "Cependant, qui sait? La terre a des limites, mais la bêtise humaine est infinie!" which translates to "But who knows? The earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is infinite!" Similarly the 1887 book Melanges by Jules-Paul Tardivel[wp] includes on p. 273 a piece said to have been written in 1880 in which he writes "Aujourd'hui je sais qu'il n'y a pas de limites à la bêtise humaine, qu'elle est infinie" which translates to "today I know that there is no limit to human stupidity, it is infinite."
  3. Earliest version located is in Technocracy digest: Issues 287-314 from 1988, p. 76. Translated to German as: "Zwei Dinge sind unendlich: das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit. Aber beim Universum bin ich mir nicht ganz sicher." (Earliest version located is Arndt-Michael Meyer, Die Macht der Kürze, Books on Demand GmbH, 2004, p. 14.)
  4. WGvdL-Forum (Archiv 2): Rainer on 21. Juli 2012 - 13:52 h
  5. Neben Einstein auch David Hilbert und Leonhard Euler zugeschrieben