How Not to Be Stupid

Avoiding stupidity is going to get you a lot further than trying to be smart. At least, this is what Charlie Munger credits his success to. So how do we avoid stupidity?

How Not to Be Stupid

Happy Sunday!

I read an article a couple of weeks ago, titled How Not to Be Stupid. It is often said that common sense is anything but common. And Charlie Munger, the billionaire investor and long time partner of Warren Buffet at Berkshire, credits almost all his success to not being stupid. So it's a topic that's worth at least five minutes exploring.

The article is essentially a podcast discussion, summarised in a written format for easy consumption. Adam Robinson defined stupidity as "overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information," and shared his idea of the seven factors that lead to stupidity:

  1. Being outside of your circle of competence
  2. Stress
  3. Rushing or urgency
  4. Fixation on an outcome
  5. Information overload
  6. Being in a group where social cohesion comes into play
  7. Being in the presence of an “authority.”

While one of those factors is powerful enough to make you act stupid in any situation, when you combine them, your chances of acting stupid dramatically increases. For example, if you're stressed, outside your comfort zone, overloaded with information and are rushing to meet a deadline, the chances are, you'll do something stupid.

This point really hit home when Adam explained that all seven factors of stupidity are present in US hospitals.

In the United States every year, there are roughly 30,000 fatalities from automobile accidents. That is a benchmark. How many deaths accidentally occur, accidentally, in hospitals every year? In other words, you go in with a broken arm and you don’t come out. Not, you died as a result of what you went in for. You died because of error, human error. I would tell you the current best estimate—this is deaths, mind you, not injuries—is 210 to 440 thousand people die every year in the United States from hospital error.

For something so easy to avoid, stupidity is all around us. Identifying and becoming aware of the risk factors will help you all in avoiding stupidity going forwards. Mind you, this is never going to be an easy task.

Have an awesome week ahead,

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