Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where Smart People are Stupid

George Orwell famously stated that 'There are some things so stupid that only an intellectual can believe them', and this create biases peculiar to our intellectual elites. John Jost does research about how many oppressed people rationalize their oppression, becoming 'Uncle Toms', aiding and abetting the unjust status quo via their agreeablenesss. For example, he finds that when threatened, people tend to grasp comforting stereotypes, such as that rich people are more intelligent than poor people, and that fat people are lazier than skinny people. Crazy talk.

Less intelligent people tend to confuse 'tend' with 'always' more often, so if you say men are stronger than women, they would be more prone think this implies this is true for every possible pair of men and women. That is clearly a logical error in inference. The twentieth century's most singular intellectual insight is that discrimination—the idea that certain groups like women or blacks are all different than, say, white men—is morally wrong and inefficient. Thus, every New York Times article noting some difference between groups of people has a perfunctory paragraph stating, for example, that "this does not imply all women are not as strong as all men", just in case anyone made such an inference.

Modern intellectuals are so afraid of stereotyping they can no longer generalize about people as intelligently as the great unwashed. The thought that obese people are lazier than average seems not merely mean, but illogical, to many intellectuals. Thinking that there are many poor persons much smarter than many rich persons, yet on average rich people are smarter than poor people, does not imply we should sterilize the poor, or never listen, hire, or marry a less intelligent person. Yet to assume the wealthy are just as intelligent as the poor would imply a conspiracy so vast and efficient at working to offset the natural advantages implied by the nature of 'intelligence', defies credulity. Almost all stereotypes are true as generalizations, a useful fact plebians believe more than intellectuals. This guy seems to think the only way to believe pathetic people are not as virtuous or admirable as rich people rationalizes our current, arbitrary hierarchy.

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