“The confidence of the dumb”
There is a scale of intelligence upon which one person is smarter than another, and there is a scale of knowledge upon which one person knows more than another, and there is a scale of ego upon which one person exhibits more confidence or hubris than another, and there is a scale of forthrightness, the gap between known truth and manipulation of information that separates the honorable from the game-players.
In a political arena, these come into play when word wars are waged in the comment threads and social media that represent the high speed, widespread conversations of our time.
If you take any given advocate of a cause or candidate, he or she can be assigned each of these qualities or a counterpoint, the opposite or bottom of the scale:
- Intelligent (counterpoint Dumb)
- Knowledgeable (counterpoint Uninformed)
- Egoistic (counterpoint Wimpy)
- Forthright (counterpoint Manipulative)
Like the Myers Briggs personality profiles, we can develop a scale for every person commenting. If they are tested . . . or we judge them . . . they can receive one of four pairs of bipolar attributes:
- I or D
- K or U
- E or W
- F or M
So a manipulative troll who is highly intelligent, knowledgeable and confident (IKEM) would be clearly different from a slow-witted, uninformed, pontificating chat-room troll (DUEM).
Now this blog attracts intelligent, knowledgeable people like barnacles to a whale’s back. Most readers are confident and are here to listen and learn. So this is a community of IKEFs. And a fine community it is.
The trouble we face, though, is the same trouble Mar Roxas faces. He is talking to himself, or into the wind. No DU*M would visit here. In fact, no *U** would visit here as he’d be bored out of his skull. A *U** would likely perceive us as intellectually arrogant, rather like they consider Mar to be an elitist snob. And the smarter we get in trying to figure out the solution to something, the wider is the gap between us and them.
Now I am of the impression that there are actually few D***s anywhere in the Philippines. The poor may be under-educated, but they are not Dumb. I also don’t think there are many Wimps in the Philippines. There is a lot of confidence hereabouts. Furthermore, I think the broad masses of people are not inherently Manipulative. That is the realm of crooks, lawyers, sales people and politicians. So we have a broad, broad voting population comprised of:
I say Uninformed, because, for sure, they have no idea at all about infrastructure projects underway, or what Mar Roxas REALLY is like or has accomplished. They work from images thrown out publicly by tabloid media, political players and other Uninformed souls. It does not matter if they are rice workers or college graduates. They have no idea. The national Uninformed score is profound. Stunning, actually.
And so we sit here talking (or writing) to ourselves, or into the wind, because there is no knowledge out there that welcomes or grasps what we say. People aren’t listening.
Well, I suppose we really aren’t that destitute of influence. If 20,000 people read a blog and 300 of them are opinion leaders, then we have at least pushed the idea rock over the top of the hill and it will roll and bounce down as it will roll and bounce down. With enough people pushing rocks, we can move a mountain.
We just don’t know when or where it will re-appear or what it will look like.
The two qualities of our scoring mechanism that fascinate me most is the interplay between Knowledge and Ego. I think that we are all within reaching distance of each other on intelligence. And we are either pushing an agenda or not.
But knowledge is not increasing, overall, I think. Where social media ought to lead us quickly to rich information, it is instead dumbing us down. Furthermore, it is turning us emotional, leading us to a lala land where conquest is the goal, and to achieve the win people build relentless layers of conflicting, irrelevant, just-plain-wrong nonsense. Our egos are developing a need for emotional highs, for conquest, for “likes”. And we will sacrifice sense to get there.
Thus, we see that, in a nation which is basically intelligent, basically confident, basically forthright . . . lunacy sells.
This particular blog was inspired by the gross irrationality that sees Filipinos seriously considering crooks, liars, opportunists, manipulators, murderers, and terminally ill people to be their president. How can a nation that is so fundamentally good get things so gawdawfully wrong?
Here’s a MUST READ article from which the title of this blog was extracted: “The Death Of Expertise“. I’ve pulled a few meaningful ideas from the article and added my thoughts in parentheses in bold type.
- “. . . what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live.” (We have stopped listening.)
- “To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.” (Right. We really ought to be searching for solutions, for an agreed path. We just don’t know enough to do that, or are too emotional and impatient.)
- “None of this ignorance stops people from arguing as though they are research scientists. Tackle a complex policy issue with a layman today, and you will get snippy and sophistic demands to show ever increasing amounts of ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’ for your case . . .” (We see that demanding attitude over and over again in comment threads here.)
- “There are no longer any gatekeepers: the journals and op-ed pages that were once strictly edited have been drowned under the weight of self-publishable blogs.” (Yep. We have met the enemy, and he is us.)
- “There’s also that immutable problem known as “human nature.” It has a name now: it’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says, in sum, that the dumber you are, the more confident you are that you’re not actually dumb.” (Which is why Duterte, Marcos, and Binay followers have hollow-blocks for brains and echo chambers for ears.)
- “So what can we do? Not much, sadly, since this is a cultural and generational issue that will take a long time come right, if it ever does.” (RIP, social intelligence.)
- “In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible.” (The emphasis is on listening, not speaking, and understanding, not pontificating.)
I actually think the Philippines leads the world in this characteristic of dumb being expertise. It is not a compliment. Tens of millions of people run around with cell phones getting knowledge from the uninformed. Facebook is an authoritative source. Superstition rules over sense. Rumor over fact. Headline over content. Meme over critical thinking. And each cell-phone operator is incredibly confident in his vision of things.
Really, woe to us!
Smart phones in the hands of masses of grossly uninformed people . . . who happen to be voters.
Yes, yes, I know, the US is that way, too. But stop trying to muddy the message. That’s a form of dumb.
We . . . you and I . . . are in huge trouble here . . .