Rebirth of Reason

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Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 10:51pmSanction this postReply

Excellent analysis, Joe.


From the point of view of psychology, I see another side to this.


My first thought was that these people don't really believe any of that. They don't believe - not gut deep - that their jobs are threatened by more geniuses. Where is this flood of geniuses coming from? Are they popping up out of the ground like mushrooms after a rain? Or, falling from the sky?


No one starts becoming seriously concerned about something that isn't happening or going to happen, or is said to possibly be happening at sometime. Now, if on the news, there was an announcement that we were going to drastically change our immigration policy to open the door wide, and even pay people to emigrate, but only if they were geniuses.  And we expected this new policy to be wildly successful, then we would need to see your article was given wide circulation because then there WOULD be people who mistakenly feared financial woes - and those people would be happy to learn that things would be better, not worse.


But in the absence of it threatening to rain geniuses, there is something else going on and I smell rationaliztion, denial, and projection.


People are often resentful of virtues and values specifically for being virtues and values.  The reason for such a strange reaction is that they have betrayed some of their own virtues or turned their back on certain values... maybe out of fear, or even just laziness. They can ignore, to a degree, the psychological consequences of those acts as long as they can turn away from whatever might symbolize that which they betrayed.


Each person who comes into view as energetically productive will often earn the ire of the cynically lazy who wants to settle for less in his life but also wants others to do the same, and doesn't want to have that productive person out there that he can be compared to.


Another unpleasant pattern is where those who out of a represssed fear of not being up to whatever challenges tomorrow might bring, end up building an emotional safety-nest out of anti-change beliefs. They fear and resent those who might bring about change. They have an implicit sense that they are getting by just fine as long as no one upsets the status quo. This is often why people with above average intelligence, and people who are exceptionally productive, are subjected to messages to back off, to take it easy, don't get too big for your britches, leave things well enough alone, don't rock the boat, who are you to think you know better, put in your dues first, respect tradition, etc.


Certainty in one's approach to work isfelt like an affront to some who feel uncertain and want a comfort of fog and keeping things the same.


Whether it is intelligence, productivity, confidence, honesty, or success... there are those who don't want to hear why more individuals with these are good for everyone, not just for the person who shines. They won't be honest with themselves about why they feel negative towards those virtues and values, but the fact is that they WILL be very open to rationalizations, denials, to sharing their hostile attitudes with those they feel akin to, and they will displace the negative feeling they should have for what they did to their life onto others that symbolize what they should have done with their life.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 - 12:06amSanction this postReply

Fully agreed Joe - Thanx :)

Instead of fearing talented people, we should honor them for their contributions to our lives.

If there were suddenly a miraculous overabundance of geniuses I’d thank them on my knees for making this world livable again, even if I were to go extinct myself or resign myself to shining their shoes … do we seriously have to become the same mediocre fear-infested irrational human being just to appease the sheeple?

I have the same argument whenever we're implementing new software: 'my job, my home, my livelihood, my family, my poor little ego' … if you’re not capable of doing more than pushing a button then don’t expect someone else to keep you in bread and water the rest of your life. A monkey can do that and they're happy with a banana and occasional company. Maybe not Zira - she was a little picky about company and loathed bananas ;)

As for the more realistic argument: software (and geniuses) free you from the tedious mundane tasks you complain about daily at length. Be grateful you get a chance to be more productive. That is if you’re capable of being more productive otherwise shut up about your boring job and be glad you still get paid for it.

They can ignore, to a degree, the psychological consequences of those acts as long as they can turn away from whatever might symbolize that which they betrayed.

Saved from a longer rant by the psychologist :D I just don't have the patience (and optimism) to see people for what they really are and help them out of their little dilemma ;)

Thanx Steve :)

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 - 8:16amSanction this postReply

That was all very nicely said, Joseph.  I do wonder who you hang out with, though.  I never had that conversation with anyone.  The word "genius" is overused, of course.  We have few (perhaps no) reliable measures of "intelligence" though we seem to recognize it when we meet it, or fail to find it where we expect it.  Defining "genius" seems much harder.  


However, we actually do live in a world of such people. The Flynn Effect can be debated, but researching histrory, I often find many volumes of published idiocy.  And those are the works of literate people.  Not that illiterate people are necessarily less intelligent, but certainly they do not have the opportunity to extend or expand their ranges. Sheer population growth has given us millilons of very intelligent and creative people who an ice age ago might have some along once in three generations.


The law of comparative advantage is also called Ricardo's Law of Association.  It applies to individuals.  Years ago, Jerry Emanuelson published an algebraic proof of Ricardo's Law.  He wrote the equagtions out by hand for mimeograph.  Some years later, I got his permission to reset it with TeX, the computer language for mathematics invented by Donald Knuth, but I never finished the project.  Using high school algebra, Emanuelson proved that even if Person X does everything better than Person Y, Person X must profit more by dividing the labor and specializing in the work - even if Person X trades their lesser skill for a task that Person Y does not as well as X could have.  Division of labor and specialization are highly productive.


So many of our conservative comrades love the simple life of yeoman farmer - or the idea of it; since so few actually live that way.  They disparage urban culture, even praying literally or figuratively for the end of civlization.  Atlas Shrugged comes to mind. 


Contrary to the power of production, quality of life suggests that we break from work and do something else for ourselves just for the doing.  In Dinesh D'souza's America, he presents himself cooking hamburgers at a diner and shows that he can do it for less than the housewife cooking for herself.  Perhaps so.  It is still more fun to cook than to go out, at least for me.  (My wife disagrees.)  In both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged diners are described as clean, bright, gleaming with steel and graced by heavy ceramic dishware.  All of those mundane details we accept as ours by right were created by "geniuses" of one kind or another.  Once upon a time, my ex-wife showed some of us how Girl Scouts cook bacon and eggs in a paper bag over a campfire.  It was intriguing; the food was good - breakfast usually is.  But I would hate to be limited to that...  In fact, without the geniuses who perfected the paper bag ....

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