The Zeroth Law of Human Stupidity:There is no upper bound on the amount of stupidity that can exist within any particular individual. Attributed to Carlo Cipolla
In the late nineties, something disturbing happened in the Ugandan fishing industry. It transpired that some unscrupulous fishermen were using poison to kill fish which they’d then scoop up – easily. Undoubtedly, their hauls during this period were ‘out of this world’ or ‘for world cup’ as some would say nowadays. However, there was a small problem. Actually, it was a huge problem. Human beings and poison don’t mix. As a result of consuming the poisoned fish, a number of people fell sick and a few of them sadly succumbed to the poisoning.
It didn’t take long to identify the cause.
As an A-Level student then who joined University, I vividly remember thinking very deeply about this scandal at the time. The key thing that I couldn’t fathom was why the fishermen chose to do this yet fishing was their livelihood. Couldn’t they see, I reasoned, that they were only ultimately going to hurt themselves? Even if the long arm of the law didn’t catch up with them for (both human and ecological crimes), surely they could see that people would simply stop buying their ‘produce’, no? Then how would they fend for themselves and their families? The desire for short term gains in this case would definitely not be worth it.
Fast forward to 2015/2016 and lo and behold – many things have changed but clearly human stupidity is alive and well. On New Year’s Eve in Germany, a number of migrants allegedly sexually harassed a number of female revelers. Reading the story of what happened and the aftermath is what rekindled the fish poisoning memories.
Consider this – there’s a horrible war raging in Syria and parts of Iraq. Deranged militias and government troops are committing untold atrocities. No one is safe in this closest approximation to hell-on-earth. As a result, people are fleeing the region in terror using whatever means they get. New horror stories of capsized boats, mass drownings and ruthless traffickers make the news on a daily basis. Unfortunately for the refugees, most European countries simply don’t want them there. The anti-migrant rhetoric is loud and the public sentiment is fiercely in favour of keeping them out. But the German Chancellor Angela Merkel goes against the tide of opposition and opens her country’s borders to them. Hundreds of thousands flood in and the country takes care of them as best as it can.
Human stupidity really knows no bounds…