magic starSummarize by Aili

Don’t Underestimate Stupid

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the concept of human stupidity, drawing insights from Professor Carlo Cipolla's "Basic Laws of Human Stupidity". It examines examples of "stupid" decisions made by large companies and individuals, highlighting the tendency for success to breed overconfidence and poor decision-making. The article also touches on the author's personal experiences with his sons and the challenges of fatherhood.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Stupidity and Decision-Making

1. What are the key points made about human stupidity and decision-making?

  • The article introduces Professor Carlo Cipolla's "Basic Laws of Human Stupidity", which define stupid decisions as actions that are bad for the individual and damaging to others.
  • It argues that people tend to underestimate the prevalence of stupid decisions, especially among successful individuals and companies.
  • The article provides examples of "stupid" decisions made by large firms, such as Apple's continued pursuit of virtual reality headsets and Coinbase's plan to rate employees based on peer feedback.
  • It suggests that success can lead to overconfidence and impaired judgment, making people more prone to making poor decisions that harm themselves and others.

2. How does the article contrast the importance of appearance and utility in product design?

  • The article notes that Apple has become a major jewelry maker through products like the Apple Watch and AirPods, which are seen as enhancing appearance and utility.
  • In contrast, the article argues that virtual reality headsets make users less attractive and less useful, while also contributing to isolation, loneliness, and depression.

3. What is the author's view on the Coinbase employee rating system?

  • The author strongly criticizes Coinbase's plan to implement a software tool that allows employees to rate each other after every interaction, calling it a "tool that encourages anti-cooperation".
  • The article suggests that this system, which was developed by the hedge fund Bridgewater, is only suitable for a narrow set of people, such as traders, and has led to high employee turnover and workplace issues at Bridgewater.

[02] Examples of "Stupid" Decisions

1. What are the examples of "stupid" decisions discussed in the article?

  • The article provides several examples of "stupid" decisions, including:
    • Apple's continued development of virtual reality headsets, despite internal opposition and concerns about their practicality and appeal.
    • Coinbase's plan to implement an employee rating system that the author sees as damaging to cooperation and workplace culture.
    • The creation of "Flowcarbon" by WeWork founder Adam Neumann, which the author describes as a company operating at the "intersection of carbon and crypto" and funded by the sale of Neumann's own cryptocurrency.

2. How does the article characterize the Robinhood and Luna examples?

  • The article suggests that Robinhood built an $8 billion company by "assembling a list of people with a particular form of stupidity that's widespread — financial illiteracy".
  • Similarly, the article states that the cryptocurrency Luna "put a similar list on the blockchain and built up a 'market cap' of over $41 billion ... then crashed spectacularly."
  • In both cases, the article portrays these companies as profiting from the "stupidity" of their customers or investors.

[03] Personal Experiences and Reflections

1. How does the author describe his experiences with his sons?

  • The article describes the author's interactions with his two sons, a 14-year-old who is becoming more distant and an 11-year-old who is still enthusiastic about spending time with his father.
  • The author recounts a positive experience at an observation deck in New York City, where his younger son was excited to discover a bar and enjoy the view with his father.
  • The author reflects on the challenges of fatherhood and the rapid changes in his sons' attitudes and behaviors as they grow older.

2. What does the author share about his own emotional experiences and reflections?

  • The article describes the author feeling emotional after his experience with his younger son, leading him to text people close to him to share his thoughts and feelings about fatherhood.
  • The author acknowledges feeling embarrassed the next morning when sober, as he was "more in control" and less likely to spontaneously reach out to people with his emotions.
  • The author reflects on the idea that he is "stupid" for these types of emotional outbursts, suggesting a tendency to be self-critical about his own decision-making and behavior.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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