Let's break down 15 terrible excuses from accused sexual harassers and predators.

The world is currently being treated to a slow-rolling reveal of the alleged bad behavior of some of its most powerful men.

And inevitably, with bad behavior comes excuses.

It's no surprise that prominent accused harassers and predators, once cornered, would try to wriggle out of accusations of sexual conduct and abuse. What is surprising is the variety in their attempts to justify their alleged behavior. Excuses by way of apology. Excuses by way of confession. Excuses by way of firm, uncompromising denial. All attempting to convey how they didn't do what they've been accused of or that what they did do made sense to them in the moment. In some way, they're the most revealing window into the personal, social, and cultural forces that enable their alleged misdeeds.


Excuses, ultimately, reflect our beliefs about what's just and fair. Which raises some questions: Do any of them actually put the behavior in a context that makes it, in some distressing way, understandable? Do they ever work? And what does it say about us if we believe them?

Here are just some of the excuses we know they've tried:

1. I'm from a different era, and this strange, new culture is confusing to me.

To date, more than 50 women have accused Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of engaging in a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior ranging from harassment to sexual coercion to rape. But lest "what he supposedly did" is coloring your impression of him, Weinstein wants you to remember he's not an evil man: He's just a recovering hippie!

"I came of age in the '60s and '70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different," Weinstein wrote in a statement. "That was the culture then."

Harvey Weinstein. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images.

Of course. Who doesn't remember the '60s and '70s? Flower power! Free love! Cornering women in a hotel room and trying to force them to watch you shower! Though the millions of other people who made it through those turbulent decades without harassing or abusing anyone — or threatening them if they told anyone and then hiring ex-spies to help cover it up — might remember those decades slightly differently, Weinstein simply refuses to let the swingin' spirit die. No matter the decade, his behavior is less "groovy" and more "galling."

Weinstein's excuse depends on eliding two wildly different notions: (1) That America failed to take workplace harassment and sexual abuse seriously in the '60s and '70s, and (2) that it was OK back then — or perpetrated by anyone reared back then — as a result. While the first assertion is undeniable, the second is self-serving nonsense. Just because a behavior was ignored, tolerated, or even encouraged doesn't make it remotely close to excusable.

2. Hey, it's not like I didn't ask!

Thus wrote comedian Louis C.K. in a widely praised (and widely derided) statement confirming a New York Times report that he had masturbated in front of almost half a dozen unwilling women.

"At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is ... true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them."

Some might argue C.K.'s approach forgoes the most critical part of consent: waiting for a response. Still others might assert that without getting a "yes" or a "no" back, there's no point in asking at all. Viewed that way, C.K.'s logic is baffling at best, and it's both miraculous and frightening that he somehow got to the age of 50 believing the world works like this.

More frightening still, scattered segments from C.K.'s TV show and various stand-up specials in which the comedian acknowledges viewing masturbation as a form of control or tool of revenge suggest that he did indeed know the effect his behavior had on others — and simply didn't care.

3. The closet made me do it. Also, I was drunk.

Ah, alcohol. Absolver of all responsibility. Whether knocking over a glass vase, texting your roommates at 4 a.m., or sexually assaulting teenagers, some men apparently believe that acknowledging that you were blasted when it happened is a one-way express ticket to Forgiveness Town. That reportedly includes Kevin Spacey, who actor Anthony Rapp says drunkenly attempted to force himself on him when Rapp was 14.

"If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years," Spacey wrote in a statement responding contritely to the alleged incident. Since the story of Rapp's accusation broke, over a dozen more accusers have come forward.

Kevin Spacey. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

To make matters worse for everyone but himself, Spacey used the space of his response to come out as a gay man — all but implying a connection between his alleged predation and his closeted sexuality. It reads as a desperate attempt to buy a modicum of sympathy at the cost of casting suspicion on millions of innocent LGBTQ Americans.

4. It's just what guys do.

Donald Trump's now-infamous comments about sexually assaulting women — "Grab 'em by the pussy" and "I moved on her like a bitch" — have largely disappeared down the memory hole, thanks to the steadily strengthening storm of scandals swirling around the now-president. Still, it's tough to forget how the former reality show host became president in the first place: by managing to convince a depressing percentage of Americans that his unscripted admission was just a case of "boys being boys."

"This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago," Trump said in a statement following the revelations.

Was it, though? On one hand, you've got the producers of "Access Hollywood," who fired Billy Bush for merely participating in that very discussion; dozens professional athletes asserting that, no, that's not at all what locker rooms are like; not to mention the dozens of women who have come forward and accused Trump of doing pretty much exactly what he described. On the other hand, you have the word of Donald Trump, a dude who lies constantly.

Tough call, I guess.  

5. I knew it was wrong, but no one complained, so how wrong could it have been?

"Toward the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem," journalist Mark Halperin said in a statement responding to allegations he had sexually harassed multiple women during his tenure at the network. "No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person who was behaving in a manner that had to stop."

Of course, Halperin "knew" that what he was doing was wrong in the same way that his victims likely "knew" that going to human resources to complain about their boss would get them sidelined, fired, or branded as a troublemaker. That power imbalance allows Halperin to attempt to have it both ways: pretending to take full responsibility of the allegations while slyly implying that the women he harassed share the blame for not speaking up sooner or louder.

6. I'm too old and infirm to be a threat, and it was a joke anyway.

George H.W. Bush. Photo by David J. Phillip - Pool/Getty Images.

After multiple women came forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping them while posing for photos, the elder statesman did something few accused predators have the integrity to do: He admitted it.

Still, as drafted by his spokesperson, his statement-slash-confession seemed to carry more than a whiff of an implication that his victims were needlessly slandering a harmless, disabled, old American hero:

"To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner."

And while it's true that Bush is in his 90s and his arms aren't as flexible as they used to be, a pat is different than a squeeze — and if someone squeezes your ass, you know. Not to mention, this explanation would appear to be contradicted by new reports that a less old and less infirm Bush was, apparently, no less inclined to grope the women (and girls, in some cases) standing next to him in photos.

7. I made them stars, and this is how they repay me?!

For some serial abusers, getting a woman her dream job apparently means assuming sexual ownership over her forever and always in exchange. Consider Roger Ailes, who reportedly made a series of unwelcome overtures to former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, even repeatedly attempting to kiss her in his office. The excuse he gave, framed as a furious denial, attempts to marshal other, generous actions as evidence to why he couldn't or wouldn't have engaged in misconduct.

"I worked tirelessly to promote and advance [Megyn Kelly’s] career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself," Ailes said. As is commonly the case, Kelly wasn't close to alone in her accusations among the women hired by Ailes. Since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson launched her lawsuit against her ex-boss, more than 20 women have come forward with similar allegations.

For others, that imagined control extends to merely pretending to get women jobs. That was, allegedly, the longtime MO of director James Toback, who is accused of inviting over 200 women to professional meetings only to proposition and, occasionally, assault them once in private. Toback put his denial even more aggressively:

"The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying c*cksucker or c*nt or both."

8. I'm trying to be a good guy now, and I respect the hell out of women, so let's just wipe the slate clean.

A popular excuse, especially among various left-of-center men of Hollywood and the media, mixes a nod to contrition with a subtle appeal to tribal loyalty: "I may have been a jerk once," the argument goes, "But I'm on the right side of the issues that you care about."

Here's Casey Affleck's response, who reportedly harassed multiple women on the set of "I'm Still Here":  

"There’s really nothing I can do about [the allegations] other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time."

Casey Affleck. Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

And here's what Dustin Hoffman had to say after he was accused of making inappropriate and lewd comments to a production assistant during "Death of a Salesman":

"I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

And here are Leon Weiseltier's words, who allegedly harassed multiple women of a series of years as editor-in-chief of The New Republic:

"The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning."

Whether that "reckoning" ever comes is often irrelevant to the alleged abuser. What matters is that enough people believe he's an asset to whatever fight they're fighting, leaving open the possibility that he'll be rehabilitated by his community without having to lift a finger.

9. This is a political ploy by my enemies to ruin me.

Bill O'Reilly. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.

When in doubt, blame those bastards in the opposition party for trying to tear you down.

"If you look at the totality, this was a hit job — a political and financial hit job," argued Bill O'Reilly, after reports surfaced that he settled an unknown sexual harassment claim for $32 million in addition to allegations that he harassed or abused a string of coworkers during his decade-plus at Fox News.

As a naked appeal to tribal loyalty, it's a nefarious tactic but potentially a good deal more effective than, say, trying to shame your accusers by sharing the thank you notes they wrote you for some unrelated thing or outright blaming God — two things O'Reilly for real tried to do in the wake of allegations against him.

10. This is a political ploy by the media to get clicks and sell papers.

When in even more doubt, blame the fake news for whipping up people's anger and impairing their "objectivity."  

"Brett Ratner vehemently denies the outrageous derogatory allegations that have been reported about him, and we are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims," said the director's spokesperson in a statement responding to allegations that Ratner had engaged in sexual misconduct on set.

Despite Ratner's denial, actor Ellen Page followed up days later with a blistering Facebook post, accusing the director of outing her against her will with an unwelcome, sexually tinged comment. Ratner as of yet hasn't respond to her claim, unmediated by the media such as it was.

11. It was the Russians!

George Takei. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

When in the most doubt, blame Vladimir Putin. As if the allegations against George Takei (which eerily paralleled a story Takei himself told Howard Stern several weeks earlier) weren't upsetting enough, especially given Takei's history of speaking out about the serious issue of sexual harassment, his response could not have been more bizarre:

"A friend sent me this. It is a chart of what Russian bots have been doing to amplify stories containing the allegations against me," Takei wrote, after allegations that he had groped a fellow actor without his consent surfaced. "It’s clear they want to cow me into silence, but do not fear friends. I won’t succumb to that."

12. But what about all the men who are falsely accused?

Of course, not all of those accused of harassment or abuse are guilty, though recent studies peg the incidence of false reports at between a mere 2% to 8%. But while the guilty category is larger by leaps and bounds, that inkling of doubt too often allows alleged harassers and predators to weasel their way into the former.

"No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing," Woody Allen wrote in The New York Times after his daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of sexually assaulting her in the pages of the same paper a week earlier.

When reached for comment on the on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Allen told the BBC he wished to avoid "a witch-hunt atmosphere" where "every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself." It's a frame that conflates workplace flirting (potentially harassing behavior in its own right) with Weinstein's alleged pattern of coercion and assault or, perhaps, his own by association.

13. No comment, through a lawyer.

Rather than offer an excuse, which can be its own form of admission, some alleged abusers simply choose to say nothing and hope the accusation goes away. That's what Bill Clinton did in response to claims that he raped then-nursing home operator Juanita Brodderick in a hotel after luring her there with the promise of a professional meeting. First, Clinton's attorney called the allegations "absolutely false." Later, Clinton himself doubled down.

"My counsel has made a statement about the ... issue, and I have nothing to add to it," the then-president told the Washington Post.

14. I'm a sick man.

Anthony Weiner. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Of course, when the allegations become impossible to deny, some abusers see no option beyond making a full-throated, self-abasing confession. Anthony Weiner did this after pleading guilty to "transferring obscene material to a minor."

"This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom," he said in court. "I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day."

"I accept full responsibility for my conduct," he continued. "I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you."

Weiner certainly isn't the first prominent accused predator to claim to be broken. Harvey Weinstein checked himself into rehab for sex addiction after allegations against him surfaced. Kevin Spacey did the same some weeks later. Weiner himself previously had done a stint at rehab. But while Weiner's statement completely acknowledges the scope of his wrongdoing, it nonetheless contains an excuse. In some way, it implies that the former congressman's sickness mitigates the harm his actions caused or, at the very least, absolves him of some of the blame.

It's evidence that even the best, most clinical excuse is substandard at best.

Which is why the most reasonable excuse might just be:

15. I have no excuse.

On Nov. 1, former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes stepped down in the wake of allegations that he had harassed multiple women on the job. His acknowledgement was direct and, notably, didn't offer an explanation for his behavior.

"I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility."

Apologizing unconditionally doesn't make it all better. It doesn't restore the careers of the women Oreskes' behavior likely sidelined, marginalized, or ended. And it doesn't provide a quicker, smoother path to forgiveness. Doing so merely acknowledges what should by now be obvious.

When it comes to harassing or abusing the people who work for you, depend on you, admire you, or simply those who are around you, there is no excuse.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Chris Evans is playing the lead role in the upcoming Pixar film "Lightyear."

Chris Evans was already skilled at squeezing hearts on social media, cavalierly sharing sweet pics of his adorable dog and piano-playing videos on Instagram, as if we could just casually watch him be a near-perfect man without swooning. And now he's being even more delightful with his gushing giddiness over getting to play his dream role.

The guy is already best known as the studly Marvel superhero Captain America, so what could possibly top that? Pixar, apparently. Evans' ultimate acting dream is being in a Pixar movie. And now that dream is coming true, the most eligible of the Chrises could not be cuter in his expressions of joy.

Sharing the new trailer for "Lightyear"—Pixar's origin story about the astronaut the Buzz Lightyear toy was based on in the "Toy Story" universe—Evans wrote on Twitter:

"I'm covered in goosebumps. And will be every time I watch this trailer. Or hear a Bowie song. Or have any thought whatsoever between now and July cause nothing has ever made me feel more joy and gratitude than knowing I'm a part of this and it's basically always on my mind."

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Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term "stupid" isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he believes applies to everyone.

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