There Are 2×2 Types of People in This World . . .

“There are only four types of officer. First, there are the lazy stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm. Second, there are the hard-working intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everyone. Finally, there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.”

—General von Manstein about the German Officer Corps

Hard-working versus lazy. Intelligent versus stupid. Cross-reference the two sets and you have four types of people in the world.

INTELLIGENT STUPID
HARD-WORKING intelligent, hard-working stupid, hard-working
LAZY intelligent, lazy stupid, lazy

Why do the intelligent but lazy ones rise to the highest office? Because they learn how to delegate tasks. Their talent is in getting things done by appointing someone else to do it.

Why do the intelligent and hard-working not get ahead? Because they’re too busy working to really look at the big picture, or they enjoy the work itself too much to give it up.

Why are the lazy and stupid no real threat to civilization? Because they aren’t demanding, and ultimately they’ll do what they’re told. It’s just easier to “go with the flow” than to have to find a way out. As long as there’s TV and beer at the end of a work day, everything’s cool.

Why are the stupid and industrious a threat? Seriously, have you ever met one of these people? Perhaps they’ve come knocking on your door, asking to show you the way. Or tried to sell you on Amway. Or argued with you that people of another race or creed ought to be destroyed. At best, they waste your time—but all too often they cause actual harm.

Obviously, this is a simplification. Some people are stuck in dead-end jobs not because they have no intelligence or energy, but because our civilization allows them no opportunity. Some others are at the top for no other reason than the great good fortune of having been born there. And just because talk-radio hosts stir up trouble doesn’t prove they’re stupid—they could be intelligent and lazy people with a hidden agenda.

Those caveats aside, I believe this graph is an interesting way of evaluating the world in a general sense. I think I know where I fit in it. (The fact that I took time to hand-code that table says something. I sincerely hope the fact that I could do it demonstrates another. Otherwise I’m screwed.)

So where do you fit?

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