The Tyranny Of The Stupid & Mendacious

The great Greg Cochran will often point out that a smart person is someone who says smart things, but more important, they don’t say many dumb things. Everyone, no matter how smart, will get a dumb idea in their head or get carried away and say something stupid on occasion. It’s just not common with smart people, at least not as common as it is with dumb people. Being smart is as much the absence of stupidity as it is getting right answers or having a long list of brilliant insights.

This comes up often in public discussion of the human sciences. It is remarkable how often an allegedly smart person will say things that are laughably wrong about something in biology or human evolution. A favorite example is Cordelia Fine. She is a Full Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at The University of Melbourne, Australia. That is quite impressive, but she writes books that are full of nonsense about biology. Cochran’s review of her book, Testosterone Rex, is a great read.

Is Cordelia Fine stupid? Well, if you look at her credentials, you have to think she is pretty smart. She has a degree from Oxford and PhD in psychology. It’s not physics, but it’s not nothing. She has advanced in her career to a very high position. Presumably, she is a smart woman. Yet, she routinely writes and says things that are wrong and not just a little wrong either. As Cochran pointed out in his review of her book, she makes the sorts of errors one expects from undergraduates. That’s not smart.

The point is not to pick on Mx. Fine. She’s probably a delightful woman, who would be a pleasure to know. It’s just that she is a great example of the plague of incredibly stupid smart people we see in public life. In fact, it seems to be a requirement of the modern public intellectual to have a long list of credentials and an equally long list of statements that are obviously wrong. We live in an age in which the greatest barrier to success as a public intellectual is not having enough mistakes on your record.

In fairness, you can be smart and have a lot of crazy ideas in your head. The Unibomber was a genius. Ted Kaczynski graduated high school at 15 and was a professor of mathematics at Cal Berkeley at 25. His tested IQ was 167. There’s no denying he was a brilliant man, but he also sent bombs to people in the mail. The old line about there being a fine line between genius and madness always comes up in these cases, but the truth is, you can be both a genius and have a head full of nutty ideas.

Similarly, you can be a genius and be extremely weird or unpleasant. Richard Feynman was a brilliant physicist and a terrible human being, by most accounts. He was often described as ruthless and amoral. Another brilliant physicist was Paul Dirac, who is counted as one of the weirdest people in the history of science. He was so strange that someone wrote a book about him called The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac. Smart people can be so strange, people confuse them for stupid or nuts.

The problem we have today, however, is not an excess of evil super-geniuses or even a glut of eccentric ones. There’s no doubt that many of the pseudo intellectual posers we see in public life are mendacious and immoral. Ben Shapiro says things all the time he has to know are false, but mendacity serves his agenda. Like the Unibomber, he graduated high school early and zoomed through college in three years. He is not sending bombs through the mail, but he says a lot of ridiculous and dishonest things in public.

Everywhere you look, we have people with credentials that strongly suggest they are quite bright, yet they advocate for things that are quite dumb. Even after all these years, we still have “foreign policy experts” demanding we stay in Afghanistan and the Middle East, in order to turn them into democracies. Like Shapiro, they could be saying these things because they are paid to say them. That’s been known to happen. Still, it means our public intellectuals are smart people without scruples.

It’s also possible that the credentialing system we have been using for generations has gone horribly wrong and it now selects for charismatic sociopaths. Not to keep picking in Shapiro, but he is mostly a Hollywood creation. Perhaps the vetting system of college and graduate school has been corrupted to select for the sorts of people, who fit a role in the propaganda machine. Whatever the case, the people who are supposed to help the public sort through things are mostly stupid, crazy or mendacious.

Humans are by nature inclined to look to authorities, in order to understand the world around them. At least it seems that way. In every society that we know of, there were people in positions of authority to whom the people looked for solutions. The shaman or witch doctor may have been nuts, but he knew more about curing ailments and appeasing the gods than anyone else, so everyone looked to them for answers. To put it in modern terms, being less wrong used to count for a lot in human societies.

In the current age, “being smart” automatically bestows authority on someone. It even grants them authority on topics well outside their area of expertise. Yet, our shamans and witch doctors seem to have been selected for their propensity for error. As a result, people are walking around thinking there’s no biological difference between boys and girls, because they heard it from Cordelia Fine. They think James Watson is history’s greatest monster because some enlightened dingbat said so in the New York Times.

Maybe it does not matter that the public is made dumber by the new class of stupid, dishonest public intellectuals. The Aztecs made it a long time thinking human sacrifice was a good idea. Perhaps it really does not matter that the public is clueless, just as long as the people in charge are not clueless. The Iraq War, Bill Kristol, open borders and a whole host of recent public polices suggest the ruling class is suffering from the same malady as the intellectual class. Rule by stupid liars can’t possible end well.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Member

Credentialism is a killer.

Whenever I hear some variant of “and from what [insert professional school] did you graduate” I want to strangle the interrogator.

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

The establishment center-right is just as guilty for the credentialism con. Starting with Reagan they established this scam that we needed more credentials, and were giddy about the idea of charter schools and for-profit universities. Jeb Bush spent considerable effort during his two terms as FL Governor on education. Does anyone think that FL schools are superior, given the onrushing Third World immigration?

Member

The credentialism con has deep roots. So, yeah, your point is well taken.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Credentials are to intelligence as owning your own home is to living in the middle class. Each of the first are typically indicators of the second, but bestowing the first does not create the second. Social engineering (which pushes credentials and home ownership onto the underclasses) ignores this truth.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

“…ignores the truth.” Dutch, I’d say worse. Redirecting young folk into an academic career that they neither want—nor can master, inevitably reduces standards for admission *and* graduation. Folks with meaningless degrees is one thing, incompetents with ostensibly meaningful degrees are dangerous, e.g., Michael Jackson’s last personal physician.

Member

Those who have not been red pilled grasp desperately at the education ring. Pushing this theme gives them support to maintain their ridiculous egalitarian stance, without which they could not keep their places in society. It’s the last excuse left them, and they grimly hang onto it.

Hoyos
Guest
Hoyos

“I attended Harvard Law School. I believe yours was Whittier.” Alger Hiss to Richard Nixon

MBlanc46
Guest

Hoyos. Nixon went to Whittier College. He was accepted to Harvard LS with a scholarship, but his family couldn’t afford the board and room. So he went to Duke LS, where he lived in an unheated shack.

John Derbyshire
Guest

Smartest President of the 20th century.

c matt
Guest
c matt

Yes, Nixon’s was much wittier.

Apex Predator
Guest
Apex Predator

It will get worse because the higher education long con ponzi scheme is starting to bear fruit in the form of very late Xers and millenials moving into low rung hiring positions. When you got ass-raped for 100K in student loans you will definitely want to justify that in your mind and rationalize how important it is. So you will have a whole generation soon of know nothings with several degrees who will require the same from those they hire & place. A guy with raw intellectual HP who can run cerebral laps around these mental midgets will be at… Read more »

Hendrick
Guest
Hendrick

The education bubble will burst soon. Credentialism will fall with it. The cost is out of reach for an ever-increasing fraction of the population. Many, especially those with grievance studies degrees, are discovering that they’re qualified to be baristas with six-figure student debt. Sure, there are a few like Michelle Obama who can leverage their identity to land sweet gigs. But most cannot.

After the university bubble pops, it will be time to take on K-12, which is where the real problem lies. That will prove the tougher nut to crack.

MBlanc46
Guest

Hendrick: In a few years only the children of the rich will get actual teachers and classrooms. The rest of us will get instruction by computer. If we’re lucky.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

MBlanc, I doubt it wrt computer instruction, but not for the reason you think. It is actually the brighter folk I’ve discovered that can handle CBI. The rest of the crowd seems to need to have human interaction in the classroom (or some other human interaction somewhere in the process) to master instruction via computer. Probably a motivational thing than an IQ thing, but never the less I found it quite disconcerting that I was never able to get certain folk to improve their skill sets online.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Now that right there is one first class rant, and every word of it the truth.

Member

Great headline. I’m going to read the post now

Drake
Guest
Drake

I agree that smart people do sometimes float bad ideas. If they are honest they drop them after further examination and talking them through. That’s how many of of us ended up in places like here (pats self on back). The court jester was a useful idea (I’m really not sure how many royal courts actually had one). The idea of a professional fool to point out the dumb ideas of smart people and to identify the true morons in humorous ways would be most useful. I would watch C-Span if we had a jester on the floor of the… Read more »

Member

Well, there was James Traficant. May he RIP.

Ursula
Guest
Ursula

Traficant spoke on taboo subjects and was starting a new political movement. Next thing you know, he was dead.

“Project Freedom USA – Official Website

“Former Congressman Jim Traficant passed away after a quizzical accident on his family farm during the launch of Project Freedom USA in September of 2014. He was one of the last honest and freedom loving Americans to serve in Congress. Traficant was one of the few to speak out about Israel’s stranglehold on American politics. The world lost a great man. We the People carry on in his name.”

http://www.projectfreedomusa.org/

Member

We could sure use another man like Jim Traficant.

One thing he did merits a whole lot of props:

When he was sheriff, he often refused to execute foreclosure orders on steel workers who had become unemployed due to the closure of mills.

((( They ))) must have really loved that!!!

Tim from Nashua
Guest
Tim from Nashua

Rush Limbaugh would qualify for that job, though he is still a bit mainstream.

John Smith
Member

Yeah well, the push back is coming. More and more often people are standing up and walking away rather than being lectured by these people. I call it a common sense inversion and as you might expect – it’s driven largely by liberal women and low skill/low IQ vibrants. Witness the recent kerfuffle over the idea that a teen smirking at a vagrant elderly First Nation freeloader is an act of racism: the left has been shocked at the vehemence of the blowback. The boy was to be sacrificed to the gods of multiculturalism… and a hive of deplorables rose… Read more »

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

The various cultural tribes have made a big mistake. In their demonstrated tribalism, they have turned the white males, who were carefully coached out of their own tribalism for the better part of a century or more, into a tribe of their own. The various color, gender, and pseudo-gender tribes have gone way too far now, and poked that tiger with a stick too many times. Now the lawyers are getting started. It was supposed to go that the white boys would lash out and get violent, resulting in arrests and universal scorn. Instead, some kids with remarkable self control… Read more »

Chief
Guest
Chief

Thanks G-d the Covington kids didn’t have Tiki Torches with them last Friday. But seriously, it’s becoming clear that the Lefties have overreached grievously. The years of abuse and loathing, the hectoring, and the constant belittling of the Normie White Dude at the hands of the Uber-SJW’s, the NPC’s, the Third and Fourth wave Feminazis, the LGBTQUXYZ’s, and the rest of their brain-addled consort have inadvertently forged something new here, with the advent of a nascent Generation Normal. Young males who have figured out how this game is played. See Nick Sandmann in action with their enemy media. Cool as… Read more »

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

Chief- My son (22) has the same disgust with the left as your son. Your post gives me hope. All this nonsense from the left is accelerating, waking up normal people, but at the same time, so is mass immigration and changing demographics, so we’re in for a huge battle. Go Illini! I L L–

Chief
Guest
Chief

I-N-I, Wolf!

Too bad Old Chief Illiniwek was sacrificed on the Altar of Political Correctness by the same assholes I’m railing against above.

You’ll notice that our Division One teams have sucked ass ever since.

I don’t think it’s just a coincidence…

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

This is also something that only could have been done by boys. Girls wouldn’t have gotten it right, not for lack of trying. The confident male, right there, providing and protecting, way earlier than he should have had to. The presence of mind to tap his friend on the shoulder to stop talking. Indeed, this kid is a natural. Great to have him on our team. We can all learn some things from him.

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

Because they were so controlled, it infuriated the opponent’s so much they’ve had to reach back to Orwell for their online comments. He didn’t say anything wrong, so people (feminists) are complaining on the net about his expression. As Orwell said:

In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face…was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

Member

The idiot left has mistaken forbearance for weakness.

Screwtape
Guest
Screwtape

Indeed. But in fairness to lefties, the strength of such has yet to flex in their faces such that they have reason to change their tack. A solitary stoic boy is one shining moment, but we are still neck deep in a cultural quagmire of our own making. The self-owned perversion of ‘tolerance’, much like the defanged meekness, politeness, and pretty much the entirety of the Boy Scout Law are weaknesses when not reinforced by the sword. Its like chivalry between men and women. Men take the knee and women just take. We’ve allowed the leftist death cult to demand… Read more »

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

What those who want to push “the patriarchy” call a smirk (not you ^ — I just mean it’s online all the time that way),some can see as the look of an embarrassed, what-do-I-do-now, nervous person. You know how it is when something happens, and you smile, but you’re not really smiling inside? (Did that once when I was fired…great reaction.) Anyway, Kavanaugh had that same look when they talked of his HS years. It’s like an “I know this is inappropriate, but I’m not in control here, and I can’t stop it” things. (Seems it’s also an “I wish… Read more »

Carl B.
Guest
Carl B.

It’s Human Nature. Success carries with it the seeds(Madness, Stupidity, Weakness, Mendaciousness)of its own destruction. Only question left is: How long will the Decline and Fall of the West last before the next Dark Age?

Yves Vannes
Member

That so many of our reigning elite seem to be corrupt, mendacious and dumb is because we’re all those things. All of the BS about Westerners being individualist has always been nonsense. We aren’t as kin dependent as other genetic groups, but in its place we are critically tied to a well functioning commons. A lot of our smarts and ethics are woven into our that fabric, at least they used to be. As our commons decays so do we. The people of the Middle East are a lot dumber than were their ancestors. They are incapable of building a… Read more »

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

“We aren’t as kin dependent as other genetic groups, but in its place we are critically tied to a well functioning commons. A lot of our smarts and ethics are woven into our that fabric”

Outstanding, a library’s worth of wisdom in that one summay.

blaq pill
Guest
blaq pill

you can be both a genius and have a head full of nutty ideas

Especially if as a minor you spend 200 hours “volunteering” as a test subject for MKUltra.

LineInTheSand
Guest
LineInTheSand

Another explanation for the many smart people who support apparently dumb ideas, like open borders or IQ denial, is simply that many smart people hate the historic American people (Covington boys) and these ideas serve to advance their hatred.

If that’s correct, how do we persuade smart white people not to hate their own? My best idea is to convince them that the smart white person’s demonstrated hatred for whites will not save them from their eventual punishment for being white.

Bruno the Arrogant
Guest
Bruno the Arrogant

Actually, it makes a lot of sense when you consider a lot of nerds spent their school days having their underwear yanked up over their ears. Why would they have any love for a society that makes their lives miserable? They probably feel more kinship with the other outcasts than they do for their own people. Which is probably why they reflexively take the side of the underdog, regardless of the merits of their case.

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

Probably some truth to this. From the invective directed at those poor Covington kids that was obviously people working out their unresolved adolescent issues, I’d say that American High School has a lot to answer for.

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

I have a relative like that; with him, it seems clear that he thinks that is part of being a good person. He loves the traditional people at large and is very proud of his Irish heritage; yet does not see the connection; anything labeled “politically conservative” or just “not left” is bad, bad, bad. I think even if he saw the light, he would not admit it, thinking it makes him bad, bad, bad, too.

BadThinker
Guest
BadThinker

This is very true. One thing that I even today struggle with is that I often find that many of my values are reflected in (some) of the married H-1Bs I have to work with far more than the whites I have to work with in Corporate America. I know that even if some are fine individuals, as a whole their being here is simply not good for our nation. The Boomers have a hell of a lot to answer for, and “High School” is one of those things.

Ivar
Guest
Ivar

“How do we persuade smart white people not to hate their own?” That’s a good question, but I don’t think it can be done. Not only can they come up with more elaborate and convincing rationalizations for their irrational behavior, the conflict between the animal brain and the thinking brain is more acute and painful for them. I can’t think of a single really smart person in high school who had a successful social life. IMO, the animal side resents that and makes the individual pay for it. The unhappiness turns into resentment and it is projected onto the people… Read more »

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Ivan, not to get into this too deeply, but how do you convince someone not to hate themselves over something they had nothing to do with? We are a guilt oriented people (White race/culture), but guilt is by definition related to something one has done. So if you feel guilty for something you’ve not done, then somewhere you are psychologically broken. If guilt resides in our very genes…then what’s the fix?

Kentucky Headhunter
Guest

“In the current age, “being smart” automatically bestows authority on someone. It even grants them authority on topics well outside their area of expertise.” Replace “smart” with “famous” and you get the Hollywood celebrities who lecture us deplorables everyday about politics, the economy, and the environment and why she should let trannies share a bathroom with our kids. I remember hearing a LONG time ago that Ted Danson was working to save the oceans. Ted Danson, you know, the bartender guy from Cheers. No, not Woody, the other one. Anyway, my first thought ( and I was still quite blue-pill)… Read more »

Larkin Lover
Guest
Larkin Lover

Also, I find that the increasing specialized nature of modern civilization makes it difficult for people to be conversant on multiple topics. The smarter people are on highly technical and specialized career paths and may not finish their career training until they are 30. Older for many MDs. They just take the word of pundits and “experts”, (((experts))))?, on most outside topics. Something is gained but an important something is lost.

Member

Our current systems of epistemology are irretrievably broken. Anyone who’s spent some time in academia – especially postgrad academia – knows that you don’t really have to be smart to get advanced degrees, you just have to be good at school. That’s a very specific skill – it certainly requires *some* intelligence, but it’s not a very good indicator of genuinely being smart. Similarly, peer review has been a disaster as a substitute for carefully-controlled experimentation and observation which show a result to be consistent and repeatable. Being suckered into accepting credentialism and consensus as measures of truth has been… Read more »

Member

I spent most of my professional career in settings where everyone had at least a Bachelor’s degree and many of my peers had MBAs. I know people that have attended some fairly elite schools, including Ivy League universities. Simply spending time around people that are presumably smarter because they graduated from college will disabuse you of the notion that college graduates are smarter than non-college graduates. I graduated from college in 1995 and many of the people I went to school with were dumb as a bag of hammers, I have to assume it is even worse now, and that… Read more »

Member

Oh and I would much rather spend the day with Ted Kaczynski than Ben Shapiro.

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

Well yeah, Kaczynski would at least have something to say other than Conservative, Inc. talking points.

But in person, please. No mail correspondence…

Thomas Taylor
Guest
Thomas Taylor

FYI Ted K is murderer.

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

Yeah, but he’s an interesting murderer, although being more interesting than Shapiro is a pretty low bar to clear. Of course, his killing by letter bomb is what my remark above referred to. I didn’t say that I wanted him released.

Chief
Guest
Chief

When I have the displeasure of catching The Tiniest Neocon on the radio (locally, they slam his show on after Rush Limbaugh’s, and sometimes I’m not quick enough with the tuning dial) I’ll wonder, “if you squeezed this cuck long enough by the neck, would his balls finally descend?”

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

I. Cannot. Stand. that slimy pipsqueak. He has the fast patter of a con-man. He’s a castrated carny barker.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Arthur, right on the money. I’d add that my general impression is that this partially stems from a modern adversion to general education studies where one gets a broad view of *knowledge* from history to philosophy to humanities to math to … Instead we don’t have time for such nonsense and therefore take only those core courses we think are “necessary for the job” and “career advancement”. Add to that the complete breakdown of education at the secondary level—where there used to be some education in these areas—and you have degreed dummies entering the market.

Pippi the Zin-head
Guest

“State your name for the court, please.”

“Cordelia Fine.”

“No further questions.”

Member

An intelligent or extremely smart person usually demonstrated their gifts by achievements or actual quantifiable output. Now they just throw out their IQ or SAT scores as if nothing else needs to be demonstrated. (Unverified at that).

The quote from (wilde, Orwell?) is pretty good. “There are some ideas so preposterous only an intellectual could believe them”.

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

It’s high-IQ idiots like Fine and Shapiro that lead Nassim Taleb to regard IQ testing as a pseudoscience. He’s wrong, of course (and probably knows it, but Taleb likes nothing better than to roil the waters and fight with people) but he’s not seeing nothing. High IQ people can be batshit crazy, corrupt, or evil, and their undoubted intelligence makes them all the more dangerous. Intelligence is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for any number of purposes, good or bad. Lenin was probably close to being a genius, and that was most decidedly not… Read more »

Severian
Guest

As Derbyshire said somewhere, if only those with PhDs had been allowed to vote in 1920 (that is, when a PhD meant real brains, drive, etc.), we would’ve had Soviet Socialist America. Quoting from memory: “Political stupidity is a special kind of stupidity, not well correlated with other kinds.” As he also said, there are very challenging, dense systems of thought out there that seem right — brilliant, in fact — but have zero truth content… the most famous, of course, being Marxism, which is why so many intellectuals, who think of themselves as smart above all things, are Leftists.

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

Very true. As regards Taleb, I sometimes wonder if his view of IQ isn’t skewed by the fact that most of his experience is in Finance and Academia, where very smart people have been doing very stupid things for quite a while. You have to wonder how many actually low-IQ people Taleb comes in contact with on a daily basis – even the competent blue collar workers, chefs, plumbers, and truckers that he rightly regards as being under-rated in our society almost all probably have IQs well over 100. Taleb correctly likes to talk about the value of experience, but… Read more »

Severian
Guest

I haven’t read Taleb, but what I’ve read that mentions him makes me think you’re right. Having run into my share of those (slightly) on the back side of the IQ bell curve, I can state with confidence that they’re a different breed of cat. Nothing’s as frustrating to a teacher as having a student who wants to get it, does everything he can to get it…. but *can’t* get it. As these are half our countrymen, it’s crucial that they somehow be made to get it, whatever “it” may be. Trump seems to know how to do this, at… Read more »

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

Yes, the attitude of our “betters” that anyone with an IQ of less than 115 or so should just OD on Fentynal and get it over with is one of the most reprehensible things about them.

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

Interesting, the opposing viewpoints. I taught in sped and there, rather than have the information settled with the student reaching to get to it, the student was settled and the information or lesson was stretched or shrunken, so to speak, to fit the student’s capability. I tried teaching reg ed at one time and didn’t last — would have taken me awhile to adjust to the difference (in MANY ways)… Interesting to hear about it from “the other side.”

Cloudswrest
Guest
Cloudswrest

I think there is a sort of inverted bell curve between “Political Stupidity” and intelligence. At the dumb end (proletariat) people vote based on instinct, which has been honed by a billion years of evolution, so you get pretty good results. In the middle section people are “over educated” and they override their instincts, but they’re still too stupid to override them appropriately, giving poor results. At the upper end of intelligence people realize their instincts were mostly right after all, and if they do override them they do so more often appropriately.

Mcleod
Guest
Mcleod

The old man likens modern credentialism with the Soviet Generals of old that had medals pinned on every square inch of their body, but in reality were just toadies to the regime.

If we accept Socrates theory, then the more you think you know, but are wrong about, the dumber you are. Imagine the crap piled into a head that has a degree in the pseudoscience of psychology from Oxford. The further you go in the “elite” universities the dumber you get.

tonaludatus
Guest
tonaludatus

I would not call Chuikov, Zhukov, Rokossovsky, Vassilevsky, etc. toadies even though they all had their chests covered with medals to the last square inch. As I recall they kicked the shit of the Wermacht.

DraveckysHumerus
Guest
DraveckysHumerus

My wife puts lil benny to shame in terms of early academic and professional achievement. Aside from her strength areas, however, she has quite noticeable liabilities just as we all do. One strength area is that my sweetie appreciates her deficiencies and covers for them or reveals them with humor as appropriate. That’s a hallmark of intellect without psychopathy or disorder. Lil benny and his ilk exhibit clear symptoms of psychopathy and I believe this is the fundamental societal problem with our so-called betters.

Saml Adams
Guest
Saml Adams

Just observing my own kids, the general “fund of knowledge” that most younger people possess is simply less than it used to be. When I was a kid and you had time to kill or the weather was crappy, you read a book. Now you fiddle around with instagram and texting. We subscribed to NatGeo–and ready every single issue for about a decade. When I took one of my sons to see “They Shall Not Grow Old” and we discussed it afterward, it was clear he knew almost nothing about WWI, despite being a tested genius and likely a brilliant… Read more »

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

“The general “fund of knowledge” that most younger people possess is simply less than it used to be.” You can see this when you watch old TV shows. Even in “mass appeal” shows like “Gilligan’s Island” and “I Dream of Jeannie”, getting a lot of the humor often involved knowing about aspects of culture that most people today are utterly ignorant of. Hell, even “Looney Toons” was more intellectual than most of today’s programming. Show the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” to an audience of average millennials, and see if they can even figure out what’s going on,… Read more »

Cloudswrest
Guest
Cloudswrest

I once asked my (private) H.S. senior daughter who Robert E. Lee was. She had no idea.

Apex Predator
Guest
Apex Predator

I see this question pop up frequently in some variation often about the various wars and the Civil War in particular. If you want to be really blackpilled ask your daughter and her friends who even FOUGHT the Civil War. What were the two sides. You will want to be sitting when you do. Or ask them in what century did it take place in. American kids from millenials on to younger ages are astonishingly ignorant and generally quite proud of it. The reason are manifold but the infusion of ghetto culture into the mainstream is one of the big… Read more »

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

So much so…one thing they consistently mess up in K-12…they consistently denigrate the value of core knowledge. We must have that to build concepts upon; yet, you were supposed to be PC about it, yawning about the bore of “drilling” and “memorizing” when it really meant learning some basic facts and not “discovering” knowledge on your own. Could not agree more–their knowledge is not only shallow, but narrow. Yep, we KNEW things, which opened neural pathways and helped us learn more, in other areas. Now all that is ignored in favor of technology and one-size-fits-all fads that recycle under new… Read more »

Larkin Lover
Guest
Larkin Lover

It will end badly for us, yes, but for the elites, they will decamp to pleasure palaces in New Zealand, Australia, uroguay, and perhaps north Asia. They may even take their Hispanic maids with them! There is a difference between objective stupidity, aka low iq, and correct thought or understanding of the real world. These are inversely correlated paradoxically enough. Your smartest people are pro open borders pinkos while your dumbest objectively get things right evolutionarily. Just like your most brilliant divinity students before 1600 were the ones burning witches in the country side. Humans are social and imitative animals.… Read more »

brad
Guest
brad

“authority on topics well outside their area of expertise” = ultracrepidarian

big problem in academia

Joshinca
Guest
Joshinca

WRT Cordelia Fine There seams to be a thread of human nature that believes wisdom, and intelligence is universal, that a person smart in one area will be smart in all or at least most. Perhaps this is a holdover from our evolution in small tribes. The thing though is that the totality of human knowledge long past the point where one person could hold it in there head. In fact, knowledge is so great that to become a true expert requires a deep focus on a very narrow field. When I was a kid, there was a quip that… Read more »

Bruno the Arrogant
Guest
Bruno the Arrogant

One problem is the perception that intelligence is an intrinsic good. When I was young, I assumed that anyone who was smart deserved a hearing just on the basis of being intelligent.

That couldn’t be more wrong. Intelligence is merely an accelerant. It says nothing about the character of intelligent person. The germane fact about the brilliant serial killer is not that he’s brilliant, it’s that he’s a serial killer. Being brilliant only helps him be a very good at being a serial killer.

Larkin Lover
Guest
Larkin Lover

Right. Intelligence is an amoral virtue is what you are saying. But intelligence is correlated with other virtues. Hence the differential crime rates between groups with different iqs.

ronehjr
Guest
ronehjr

“To put it in modern terms, being less wrong used to count for a lot in human societies.”

Gotta disagree. Seeing as how very few human societies advanced appreciably over the last few thousand years. The West was the exception because being right did not get you automatically stoned, castrated or human sacrificed. Now that we are no longer ‘The West’ this is changing rapidly. To me this is the result of allowing women and people who are not Western to rule over us. And of course the ascendency of socialism, which promotes the stupid and unsuccessful.

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

Back in the early 90’s when NAFTA was a big issue, there used to be quite a few debates and discussions about free trade vs. protectionism. The economists and pundits and politicians on both sides seemed intelligent to me, and made some good arguments. I took the side of the protectionists, but I can remember thinking that I look forward to finding out who’s right. Anyway, yada yada yada, and here we are with a hollowed-out manufacturing base, good-paying jobs sent overseas, massive trade deficit, and yet there’s still no consensus opinion that free trade has been disastrous for us.… Read more »

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

Yes, except for the example of North Korea and South Korea, there has never been anything closer to a controlled experiment with regard to economic policy than NAFTA, and the results are in, with regard to the above-mentioned trade deficits, hollowed-out manufacturing base, etc. And yet the pundits remain silent, because, like the Brexit referendum and the 2016 election, those weren’t the results that they wanted. Almost incredibly, NAFTA seems to have hurt both the US and Mexico, albeit in different ways, yet we’re all supposed to pretend that this isn’t happening, because Adam Smith, or someting like that. Denial… Read more »

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Heard a discussion years back with a Mexican economist of sorts wrt NAFTA. In short, not only did it hurt the USA and MX, but the influx of MX nationals coming over the border were in no small way due to NAFTA and the ability of cheap US corn imports and some other commodities, basically wiping out the livelihood of 100’s of thousands of subsistence farmers.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Yes, Compsci, Wall Street and the Chicago Commodities Exchange pulled out the long-standing price-supports floor of corn and coffee, collapsing the price and the Peso, and wiping out the small farmers as well. GoldSachs followed up by commoditising ag, but I’m darned if I can remember what the special instrument was called… something like receiverships?

Mountaindogsix
Guest
Mountaindogsix

The same rings true in the military. I served almost 25 years, met countless well educated senior officers and met many of our leading General Officers involved in OIF and OEF. They all talked the talk and sounded competent. This is all well and good until we left the FOB and I was reminded that we were still losing. These guys had no better clue as to how to win an insurgency then anybody before them. They either didn’t appreciate the history of the later years in Vietnam and to some extent France’s experience in Algeria or just didn’t care.… Read more »

williamwilliams
Guest
williamwilliams

The USA is becoming ever more of a democracy.
Of course it’s doomed.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

M.D.6 Sad to hear. Same story as Vietnam until they finally pulled Westmoreland, the Prince of the Pentagon (I was in during but never in theater). I was constantly astonished at those so-called Strategists. All you had to do was read about the Am Revolution, Napoleon’s Peninsular War, Mao’s takeover of China, etc. and then look at the friggin map. You couldn’t see Laos is/was the key terrain for feeding the insurgency_? And Kennedy gave it away in ’62 for God’s sake_! If you’re not willing/able to retrieve that strategic blunder, better to go home right now_! And, as you… Read more »

Member

As always with your ilk you miss the point.

The US had no more business killing Vietnamese than it does killing Afghans.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Bile, Al d’Nort’s comment enfuriated me as well, but for a different reason. Al is of the honorable martial tradition, where brief wars were fought to actually settle things. Modern foreign entanglements, seem senseless because they service the ends of a global criminal class, and are never meant to end in service to a nation’s interest. Low level conflicts, like drug wars, are not only a racket, they’re a fulcrum, levering up the much larger assets of the 1% with war inflation. Al was right. The Beltway princes weren’t trying to win, and end, their wars. They deposed Nixon after… Read more »

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

In the latest no consequences for stupidity department, right after Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez says we’re all gonna die in 12 years (global warming), a poll shows 74 percent of Democrats would support her for president. (if she was old enough)

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatened conservatives with gang rape.

No Democrats condemned her for this.

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

That’s because only Donald Trump is crude. According to the MSM, he’s all crude, all the time, meaning there is no crude left for anyone else to be (esp dems).

Guest
Guest
Guest

I don’t have a Twitter account, but I have been following the Twitter accounts of AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley as a matter of curiosity. It’s as if we elected a gaggle of college sophomore girls to Congress–an endless parade of selfies, sarcastic memes, and self promotion. One really must watch the video of AOC doing a little dance move outside her office door to thoroughly appreciate how hopelessly immature and unprepared for the job she is. The stupid hurts, but judging by the feedback they get I would not count them out. This is the future… Read more »

DJ3way
Guest
DJ3way

Is your gab down?

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

Does anyone find it suspicious that Nathan Phillipps, 64 years old, is a “youth leader”?

I’m going to groundlessly speculate that we might have a Hugo Schwyzer-type here.

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

https://www.crimeandfederalism.com/2011/07/hugo-schwyzer-alpha-of-the-century.html

This is from Cernovich’s old blog, which shows you what he was like before going “family-friendly”. Schwyzer was a frequent topic of discussion during the days of “The Spearhead”.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

As an afternote, Chief Forked Tongue was a manufactured stunt for MLK Day.

MLK Day, itself, is equivalent to tearing down a statue and replacing it with one by foreign conquerors.

Such stunts demand we bow down to the new values, those imposed by the imbecilic King’s ventriloquist, Stanley Levison.

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

He’s only 64??

Vegetius
Guest
Vegetius

Shapiro delenda est.

(In Minecraft, of course.)

Tim
Guest
Tim

A great deal of the stupidity comes from the bizarre politically correct way of thinking. Zman’s post dovetails very nicely with Sailer’s latest.

https://www.takimag.com/article/identity-stalinism/

T

Dale Peterson
Guest
Dale Peterson

I hate to sound like a broken record on this but, guys, if we don’t get behind Bill Mitchell on this kind of stuff we are all gonna be doomed.

Jim from Boston
Guest
Jim from Boston

Regardless of how intelligent or educated someone is … if they have flawed values in their heads, their thoughts, words and desired outcomes will be distorted and, well, wrong.

RT Rider
Guest
RT Rider

Real life experience is always the best school for learning, as long as your observant and willing to adjust. Practice usually trumps theory. So maybe these people have a broken feedback loop or are just plain unobservant in life.

The old engineering joke for academic engineers – “so it works well in practice but how well does it work in theory?” – might hold for this type of person.

TomA
Guest
TomA

Brain encephalization in our species likely derives from the development of complex language skill, and the follow-on application of language to reprogram our young post-partem with accumulated wisdom. This practice enhanced survival, fecundity, and robustness; which is why it persisted and became a trait. In modern times, religion became a vehicle for transmitting wisdom between generations, and the proclivity to absorb teaching from a “wiseman” is part of our heritage. A defect in our current culture is that wisdom is no longer wise, but that cannot change absent a penalty for stupidity.

Issac
Guest
Issac

Grey Enlightenment had a post dovetailing this, albeit from the opposite direction. According to his reckoning, most of the people you expect to be smart are smart and you just don’t appreciate their moderate centrism with a bias towards stability.

Did you know Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris are smart? There are many other smart people like them writing on Quilette. You wouldn’t want to keep reading this populist jingoism…

Issac
Guest
Issac

Bari Weiss is also smart and was on the Joe Roan podcast. Have a listen if you want to experience the raw power of centrist intellect. They’re just smarter than you and very moderate. A light unto your nation.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

When I went to a good college in the late 1970s, I was excited to get out of my “hick” nowheresville white middle class existence and into the “hallowed halls”. I took art classes, expecting a celebration of western artistic achievement and technique, and instead got tutorials on the finer points of abstract painting. I thought literature was going to be all about Beowulf and Shakespeare, but I got Ezra Pound’s “Paris Metro” and Eliot’s “Waste Land”. History was “Nazis bad” and all about the Holocaust. Economics was an exquisite parsing of Marxist theory. I didn’t even try music, because… Read more »

Toddy Cat
Guest
Toddy Cat

I had a similar experience, I’m about your age. And the saddest thing is, we almost certainly got a better college education than kids get today. Just try asking some Millennial who Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot or John Cage was

the Russians
Member

I met a kid that could make change in his head a few weeks ago…

GU1
Guest
GU1

Taleb calls these people IYI: “intellectual yet idiot.” Taleb is currently butthurt about the Middle East’s low IQ, but his other writings are still interesting and sometimes insightful.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

One difference besides the great proliferation in and narrowing down of ‘knowledge’ is that there used to be something like a guild structure in each of the so-called expert professions (medicine, law, the sciences, even journalism and the arts) in the ’50s and before. That is, those professions sorta policed their own ranks lest some member depreciate all of their standings (and eventually their incomes) as experts by saying/doing obviously stupid things in public. A big part of that situation was the ‘guilds’ determining who they let in in the first place. There was, it seems to me, sort of… Read more »

V. Pejorative
Guest
V. Pejorative

I wish I could upvote this comment ten times.

Importing incompetents into the managerial elite is a political strategy, not an unintended side-effect. The incompetent will be loyal to the political left forever, because they know they don’t deserve their jobs and would lose power if the Left did. Of course it’s a civilization wrecking strategy, and the bill is coming due soon.

“By blowing them up through radical politics the radicals opened the door to their being no standards but political ones.”

… and that was the whole point all along.

Spandrell on biolenninism:

https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/biological-leninism/

Member

I am rather fond of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s description; “intellectual yet idiot”, Someone gets a PhD in say Underwater Basket Weaving and suddenly feels competent to opine on anything from ancient Urdu to quantum physics. It is pure Dunning-Kruger.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

The Cordelia Fine example is absolutely spot on here. Some ideas are so insane and ridiculous that only extremely intelligent people can believe them. No one on the left side of the bell curve could truly believe the differences between men and women are 100% the result of socialization. Apologetics for the blank slate require an amount of brain power that most everyone lacks.

Another good example would be libertarians arguing how contracts would be enforced absent a government. One has to be very smart to manage to think something that stupid.

Member

First example is fact.

Second example, not so much. Every day, contracts are fulfilled without government.

Hoagie
Guest
Hoagie

When I began to read this all I could think of is Paul Krugman.

MBlanc46
Guest

The notion of lying to oneself is a bit paradoxical. But that really has to be what’s going on with most of our intelligentsia. The evidence against equalism/nurturism increases practically by the hour, and yet they double down on them as if they’re trying desperately to reassure themselves as much as they’re trying to convince us.

Range Front Fault
Guest
Range Front Fault

Hi Z…….I think in your article you are actually looking for some display from our ruling elites of WISDOM. They nowadays entirely lack wisdom. IQ and schooling, smarts and wisdom are mutually exclusive yet can be contained in the same person. Wisdom is a character trait as opposed to hardwired IQ. I can attest that some of the dumbest people in the world can have a high IQ, often accompanied with arrogance to deflect. Once I realized this, I have made it a life goal to gather and cultivate wisdom often through experience and observable reality. (A boy is a… Read more »

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Or maybe our overlords are so-called “wise”, yet are just screwing with the rest of us. If that’s the case, they had better get over it quickly, because sooner or later people find a way to effectively stand up to that kind of crap.

Range Front Fault
Guest
Range Front Fault

Afternoon Dutch….Yes, they are giving us a totalitarian screwing that has nothing whatsoever to do with Wisdom. They even drag out sham “wisdom keepers” such as that old Indian shiester banging the drum at the Covington lads. Notice the MSM, cucks and lefties frothed like a St. Bernard because it’s immoral to disrespect “good old Indian wisdom keepers.” I’ve seen these old Indian activists since the early AIM days. It’s an act to F with whitey and long practiced. The radical Left is moving so rapidly out of control that each week now moves the Overton window noticeably left.

midlandia
Guest
midlandia

After “convincing” us that there are several sexes, their latest argument is that a MAGA hat is a KKK hood. “Our overlords” are borrowing more from islam every day and are of the belief that our dhimmihood (“and make them feel subdued”) is pretty much a done deal. They’re sure they have us silent; now the deal is to make us invisible. It’s the opposite of what islam is doing with the prominent burkhas and praying in the street. Gives them a good excuse for random violence. Although rape is never the fault of dress, violence is. If they just… Read more »

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

Range;
Your desire to pursue wisdom is highly commendable. An excellent place to start for anyone looking for pointers is the Book of Proverbs in the First/Old Testament, even if you are not a believer.

the Russians
Member

sometimes, the bicycle goes farther without the rider

Moran ya Simba
Guest
Moran ya Simba

Good saying lol

Spud Boy
Guest
Spud Boy

You can obtain impressive credentials at a young age, yet it doesn’t make you wise. And you can live your adult life in an intellectual bubble and never develop wisdom either.

Moran ya Simba
Guest
Moran ya Simba

On very smart ppl, ‘normal’ ppl run into a problem in distinguishing a genius from a nutjob similar to if a person who knows no math has to distinguish a brilliant math paper from a fraudster writing a lot of integrals, differential quotients etc. One could be the most profound treatise on something and the other meaningless garbage and in the most advanced cases only very few would be able to tell the difference. This has further relevance b/c postmodernists, and ‘xirl scientists’, deliberately abuse this problem of telling profundity from noise by using a lot of strange, and not… Read more »

Edward Longshanks
Guest
Edward Longshanks

Zman: “Richard Feynman was a brilliant physicist and a terrible human being, by most accounts. He was often described as ruthless and amoral.”

That’s really interesting. I read two of his books, and watched his lectures and he seemed really cool.

But that is him putting his best side forward, so of course it is probably going to look good.

I vaguely remember he cheated on his wife, and I think he was disappointed his daughter didn’t share his interest in science and physics.

Do you have any more info you can share on this?

Thanks.

Member

Edward Longshanks: I have read, listened to and watched a lot of material by and about Richard Feynman and he is one of my heroes. He was a smart kid and a wise-guy with a New York accent. To say he was amoral and ruthless is like saying Einstein was scatter-brained and had a bad haircut.

Edward Longshanks
Guest
Edward Longshanks

Yeah, when I read his books, he seemed really cool and strangely enough, relatable.

The first lecture of his that I ever saw was when he talked about magnetism.

At first I with thinking this was going to be a boring lecture…big deal, magnets. Positive and negative poles, yada, yada, yada.

But it turned out to be a great introduction.

It led me to watching his university physics lectures and his books.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO0r930Sn_8

TomA
Guest
TomA

Like most savants, Feynman was a fierce defender of his ideas, which some likely interpreted as ruthlessness. He was also an avowed atheist, which likely explains the amoral description. In many respects, he was a classic Renaissance Man before that appellation became popular, and possessed many disparate talents and interests. I would say that he lived a life well lived and left a significant and lasting contribution to physics in his wake. Not a bad accomplishment with the small window of time that each of us gets.

Member

Intelligence is hard to figure and guys are even more confusing. On the opposite end of the educated smart but dumb guys you have high-school-only smart but dumb guys. Some of the dullest goons out there are poker players. Excellent poker players. But they probably can’t tell you what color their girlfriend’s hair is. I’d be taken to the horse track as a kid and the conversations I’d overhear sounded like mathematicians on speed. I’m really familiar with MMA fighters and heavy metal guitarists. They both come off like morons. But being great at fighting technique and guitar is super… Read more »

JimAnchor
Guest
JimAnchor

The academia elites hand out PHDs to all their stupid liberals like candy at Halloween. I have very little respect for these doctors today. Most have taken the religion of Marxism as their shield – they should know full well it is against human nature and has never worked for 103 years.

Member

They’re plenty smart. Smart is not a virtue. That is the wisdom of alternative systems; insofar as they produce leaders with some virtue – courage or prudence – they are systematically better than the one we have. We like smart in this country, the virtues be damned.

Member
James LePore

Character is higher than intellect. T.S. Elliott

sirlancelot
Guest
sirlancelot

Listening to all the doctors here reminded me of a story. New doctor ( think he was a Saudi ) examines this guy and determines he’s got water in the lungs. Nurse rolls in half-a-dozen vacuum bottles. He jabs one end of the hose in the vacuum bottle ( immediately releasing all the vacuum ) and the other end with this huge needle into the guy’s lower back. After the third or fourth attempt the nurse slips out and brings back another doctor ( Paki ) they have a little conference in the corner of the room . The nurse… Read more »

Member

Fine,Feynman & Shapiro. Hmm, whatever could these three have in common?