Pedro Arantes

Purposeful Stupidity

"Citizen-saboteurs" learned those instructions to sabotage organizations or governments institutions.
Zettelkasten, September 19th, 2021.


  • Purposeful stupidity is a set of instructions that the CIA's precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), wrote in 1944, namely the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

  • "Citizen-saboteurs" learned those instructions to sabotage organizations or governments institutions.

  • Organizations become incompetent and slow after the saboteurs apply the techniques to them.

  • Instructions for organizations and conferences.

    • Add bureaucracy to expedite decisions.
    • Talk as frequently as possible and at great length without adding much value.
    • Attempt to make the committee as large as possible.
    • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
    • Haggle over precise workings of communications.
    • Refer back to matters previously decided.
    • Be "reasonable" and urge your fellows-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassment or difficulties later on.
  • Instructions for managers.

    • Always sign out the unimportant jobs first. Assign important jobs to inefficient workers.
    • Insist on perfect in relatively unimportant products.
    • Be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions.
    • Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
    • Add bureaucracy to the processes.
  • Instructions for employees.

    • Work slowly.
    • Make as many interruptions as you can.
    • Do your work poorly and blame it on inadequate tools.
    • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.


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