Bloody shovel

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Stupid Cognitive Elite

Ever since Charles Murray’s last book stirred up the blogosphere, including yours truly,  everybody has written some opinion on Murray’s point that the smart people are increasingly concentrating in the upper classes, creating a cognitive difference between the rich and powerful and the people at large. James Donald has been the only one to deny the major premise: that the elite is getting any smarter than before. He says it ain’t so, that they’re dumber every day,  which has started many interesting discussions over at his blog. The thing is we lack hard data, so it’s all a battle of anecdotes on dumb or smart elites. And while the plural of anecdotes is not data, I have an interesting anecdote to put forward.

Let me talk about Julian Assange. Assange is a cool guy who is presently being victimized by USG, and he’s into putting cool data on the internet. As an infovore internet addict I simply have to like the guy. Now by all accounts Julian Assange is a very smart man. You need some serious brains to be a teenager hacker, and more than that to actually build useful software in your 20s. This guy has a 14o+ IQ, no doubt about that.

I won’t talk about the wisdom of going public with Wikileaks, which strikes me as the sort of enterprise you want to keep low profile. But well, I guess vanity is unrelated to smarts. He also wanted to get laid, which I won’t fault him for. But this vice of him is what in the end did him in. The surreal, Kafkaesque honey trap he fell in at Sweden is evil and wrong in more ways than I can count. You’d think that after USG had used feminism to try to ruin his life and throw him at some filthy American jail to be sodomized by Africans he would have learned how evil the Cathedral is, and put all his mind and body to attack it.

Assange is still on detention at London, the eastern capital of the Cathedral. They might as well rename it New Washington. Well, I had a glad surprise last month when I learned that RT, i.e. Russia Today, the only TV station who you should be watching, had made an agreement with Assange to give him a prime time show on their English channel. As Assange is detained, the show is an interview show, where he talks with famous figures, either through video call or visiting him in London.

RT is awesome because it’s totally focused on badmouthing the USG. I don’t know how much funding Putin is throwing at it, but it’s awesome. There’s Americans, Brits, Africans, everyone who hates the USG or is willing to badmouth it for money has time on RT to criticise the US intervention in Syria, the US economy, Bernankes QE, Goldman Sachs, you name it. I wish I could work there.

Now Assange is being crossed by the USG, so there comes RT to help. Now as I was saying, you would think Assange would use this chance to talk about some confidential papers saying that Obama eats babies for breakfast, or that all Hillary got a sex change operation last year. Or even some demagogic shit about killed children in Afghanistan. But no, his first show was an interview with Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief. Wtf? Well Nasrallah is an Iranian client, so perhaps he wants to talk to him about how evil the US and Israel are. That’s what Nasrallah thought the show was about, so he starts with a smile trying to talk about killing Jews, when Assang takes the conversation to talking about Syria. He suddenly asks Nasrallah why he doesn’t condemn Assad, and what must be done to stop the killings.

Nasrallah can’t believe what he’s hearing. Is this guy nuts? Hezbollah is an Iranian client. Assad’s government is friendly with Iran. In fact Syria is the conduit through which Iranians get help to Hezbollah. Nasrallah totally depends on Assad, how the hell is he supposed to criticise him. So Assad is killing some hundreds of  Sunnis bankrolled by the USG and the Saudis. Big fucking deal! Kill more of them. Nasrallah is probably helping with the killing.

Of course he doesn’t say that on Live TV, he tries to please everyone as he can’t afford to cross the Sunnis, in case they actually win. Then Assange reminds him that journalist known to him as been killed in Homs. He says that in the typical liberal sanctimonious tone, implying “my friend was killed, you must condemn it”. Nasrallah again looks baffled. A stupid white liberal journalist was killed trying to stage some agit-prop during a war? Fuck him! As a propaganda agent of the USG he is the same as a hostile combatant. Probably worse than that. A foreign journalist is worth a colonel.

Assange, an uber-smart fellow who has valiantly challenged the Cathedral for years, is fighting for his freedom and anal virginity, when Putin gives him a chance to use the media to keep the fight on. And what does he do? He calls Hezbollah and whines that they don’t cry about a dead friend of his.

Multiply this example by 10.000 and you have a good picture of our cognitive elite. Yeah, they’re smart. And yet so stupid.

16 responses to “Stupid Cognitive Elite

  1. formerly no name April 28, 2012 at 03:54

    RT also puts some really awful content at times:

    I’ll forgive them if they give Richard Spencer a show.

    • spandrell April 28, 2012 at 12:32

      Well RT always attacks from the left. We tend to forget that Russia has always been leftist. But hey at least they fight.
      Al Jazeera is even worse on the heart bleeding leftist crap. All those stories about poor dalits in India.

  2. James A Donald April 28, 2012 at 05:58

    If recruiting people into the elite on the basis of test results is a good way of getting a smart elite, I would say the elite would have been smartest between 1900 and 1950 or so, and has been going downhill ever since they started worrying in 1910, 1920 or so about the curious fact that affluent white males tended to do disproportionately well in the tests, and tried to fix the tests to prevent this.

    But in fact I don’t think that. I think that tests are unreliable in the face of determined effort to game them, and the best way to recruit a smart elite is on the basis of test results, demonstrated performance, good breeding (that is to say high performing ancestors) and membership of groups that tend to produce high performing individuals, in which case the elite was smartest from around 1870 to 1910 – which also happens to be the period of the most rapid progress in science and technology.

    • spandrell April 28, 2012 at 12:28

      Yeah but beyond that, a guy like Assange would test well in any g loaded test you came up with. He is smart. Yet there he is, utterly clueless about the situation he’s facing.

  3. Anomaly UK April 29, 2012 at 08:13

    It might be that intelligence combined with a fully realistic approach leads to doubt, cynicism, caution and selfishness, and that to achieve anything as spectacular as Assange has done actually requires a selective blindness to the big picture — something like Yeats’s “passionate intensity”.

    That’s not inconsistent with Murray’s thesis, because the elite consist mostly of those who haven’t done anything spectacular, but have just played it safe within the system.

    • spandrell April 29, 2012 at 18:59

      Assange did spectacular thing when young. I was also idealistic at that age. But I grew up and learned how the world works. He clinged to his madness.

      You do have a point though, but I have a hard time understanding “passionate intensity” as anything but madness.

  4. yacheritsi April 30, 2012 at 18:38

    Assange needed to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast in order to hang out with his friends before. Nasrallah needs to believ 6 different impossible things before breakfast to hang out with his friends. They are different things. If Assange were more disagreeable, he might be more likely to run this analysis on himself. If he were that sort of person, he wouldn’t’ve been able to hang out with his important friends before hand, and we would never have heard of him.

  5. asdf May 1, 2012 at 13:58

    On an IQ/g basis, the case for the elite being “smarter” is a clear slam dunk. Denying that is just denying math.

    Whether IQ/g is the most important factor in getting the best elites is another question.

  6. Vladimir May 1, 2012 at 16:26

    I think we’re seeing here a fundamental problem of meritocracy. Modern Western societies, especially the English-speaking ones, are extremely meritocratic, and this is great in those areas of human activity that involve genuine intellectual progress and value creation. However, most of what the elites actually do is rent-seeking, and even useful economic and intellectual activity must be done in an institutional framework where one must engage in heavy rent-seeking to survive. So meritocracy ends up selecting for people who are geniuses of rent-seeking, always able to expand it even further under ever more ingenious covers and rationalizations.

    As long as enough useful work gets done in the process to keep the society stable and prosperous, this isn’t such a big problem. The trouble is, rent-seeking always requires false pretenses and rationalizations, and the most successful people will be those who manage to internalize them honestly, since conscious duplicity is difficult to hide, dangerous if discovered, and even otherwise a huge psychological burden. So the system in fact ends up selecting for people who are smart and capable but who have at the same time internalized their faith in its ideology and institutions fully. Hence the seemingly paradoxical situation we observe, and the apparent madness of the elites.

    • asdf May 1, 2012 at 19:33


      Let’s face it, good elites need good morals. That comes from culture and upbrining, not taking on extra IQ points past generic “smart” (+1-2 SD).

    • spandrell May 1, 2012 at 21:21

      Yes, yes.
      Which leads us to conclude that meritocracy as applied to politics is wrong, and absolutism is right. A ruling class comfortable in its power needs neither to compete or to rationalize it. It just is.
      But then there’s infighting. Merit somehow always creeps up.

      What’s the endgame of rent seeking?

  7. asdf May 1, 2012 at 21:54

    The end game is what you already know. I’m in “ought” mode here not “is” mode.

    We ought to allow meritocracy in matters where meritocracy matters (science, engineering) and deny it in matters that are all about rent seeking (politics, finance, etc).

    I have no model to get there. The old model (Harvard WASPs only accept other Harvard WASPs from the right prep schools) broke down because merit became too important economically (science/engineering/tech increased in importance) while technology made rent seeking sectors more complicated (quant trading hedge funds, 24/7 news coverage and image management). Harvard didn’t change because it wanted to, but because it saw embracing high IQ as the God metric as the only way to remain relevant.

    • spandrell May 1, 2012 at 23:05

      Well some say we are getting back to a hereditary aristocracy, as the growing inequality shows.

      In history though most aristocracies fell out of overpopulation of aristocrats or of infighting. The sweet point of rent seeking is limiting the numbers of the parasites, something that even Louis XIV or the CCCP couldn’t do.

      • RS May 2, 2012 at 18:01

        I think G Clark says English aristocrats were not so fecund, the bourgeois including haute-bourgeois were. I don’t necessarily believe that — I’m not sure whether he accounted for sexual antics on the part of aristo men.

  8. spandrell May 2, 2012 at 19:36

    Well that’s England. In China you find peasant villages who can trace their ancestry to some emperor, and it’s usually true.
    I’m sure there’s good data on aristocrat breeding since the dark ages.

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