20 January 2012

What's wrong with the world

Here's a first draft for a short list of the central challenges for building a good society. It's why I'm skeptical of anarchists, for example.

  • Critical thinking skills are difficult to teach and cognitively expensive to exercise
  • Solutions don't scale, but our intuition expects them to
  • Expertise means learning where common sense is wrong
  • The Dunning-Kruger effect
  • Most people are emotionally adolescent
  • Most people are dumb
  • A few people have severe psychological pathologies — psychopathy, narcissism, borderline personality disorder — which are highly destructive to the people and social order which encounter them


Anonymous said...

Isn't the assertion that most people are dumb an oxymoron? By what measure?

Also, my experience and observations have led me to believe that it is "expensive" to not exercise critical thinking.

Or as I like to say; When Anton LaVey said "stupidity should be painful" I have to conclude he wasn't paying attention.

Jonathan Korman said...

The average person has average intelligence, which is pretty dumb.

Point taken about critical thinking; avoiding it will indeed cost you. But I meant that it's expensive in demanding more attention.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, the "I was raised by a cognitive development psychologist" part of me has a few things to say about what "dumb" and "intelligence" are.

Anyway, the short version is; "It sounds like elitism."

As to the second; I figured.

Jonathan Korman said...

Perhaps I should underline that part of my thesis is that on the scale of what it takes to address the hard problems of the world, even the smartest people are pretty dumb.

I recognize that "intelligence" is not as simple as many folks imagine, but it's not elitist to recognize that different people have different abilities to think about different questions. I'm a pretty sharp guy in a lot of ways, but there are many problems I would rather trust to people whose talents and temperaments are better suited to them than I am.

Anonymous said...

I figured you were smarter than that.

I agree. "Getting in over our head" is a necessary part of the human experience. As a physics professor I had was fond of pointing out; all solutions lead to auxiliary problems which in turn require more complex solutions.
Hrm. How about "the average person does not have the intelligence to solve the problems created by the more intelligent."
Having just had a rousing discussion with my neighbors regarding geopolitics, I certain would regard that as true.

Jonathan Korman said...

I like your little aphorism. I suppose the converse question is whether even the intelligent people can solve the problems created by ordinary people. I worry that the answer is no.

Cindy Cummins, Rawprincess Studio 503-707-1641 said...

I'm certain this comment won't show as I've doused it in lemon juice.

But I was just writing about this very topic from a different angle. I'm equally certain that essay won't bleed into view. It's just below the drip marks. I'm sure you see those?

About how simple it is really. All this world-ruling.

What I mean is the problems created by intelligent people are absolutely absurd--in their deadliness.

Wasn't there an old conversation about nature-connected wisdom versus the opposite.

This would render many experts unwise.

Cindy Cummins, Rawprincess Studio 503-707-1641 said...

... and about the adolescent emotions.


Anonymous said...

Dear God so do I.
Of course this whole topic tempts me to veer into the classic 3D6 version of the question of wisdom Vs intelligence.

Cure light wounds FTW!

Al said...

This is why I put all of my points into Charisma.