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2018年03月20日 ‘Intellectual Yet Idiot’とは

一昨日のブログ(http://d.hatena.ne.jp/itunalily/20180318)の「コメント欄」に、ケント・ギルバートさんの文章(http://www.zakzak.co.jp/soc/news/180317/soc1803170003-n2.html)から抜粋を記した。世の中には、何かと人を馬鹿者扱いしたがる傾向があるのかもしれないが、この新たな‘IYI (Intellectual Yet Idiot=知的なバカ)’に興味を引かれたので、以下に抜粋を。

https://medium.com/incerto/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

16 September 2016

The Intellectual Yet Idiot


・What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.


・But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them.


・Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can’t tell science from scientism — in fact in their image-oriented minds scientism looks more scientific than real science.


・They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule.


The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life.


The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and is rarely seen outside specialized outlets, think tanks, the media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many openings for the IYI.


Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry.


The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”.


・What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences.


・While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs as these are needed in the club.


・More socially, the IYI subscribes to The New Yorker. He never curses on twitter. He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver (again, no real skin in the game as the concept is foreign to the IYI).


・Typically, the IYI get the first order logic right, but not second-order (or higher) effects making him totally incompetent in complex domains.


The IYI has been wrong, historically, on Stalinism, Maoism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies, urban planning, low carbohydrate diets, gym machines, behaviorism, transfats, freudianism, portfolio theory, linear regression, Gaussianism, Salafism, dynamic stochastic equilibrium modeling, housing projects, selfish gene, election forecasting models, Bernie Madoff (pre-blowup) and p-values. But he is convinced that his current position is right.


The IYI is member of a club to get traveling privileges;


・he doesn’t use Yiddish words even when talking business; he studies grammar before speaking a language; he has a cousin who worked with someone who knows the Queen; he has never read Frederic Dard, Libanius Antiochus, Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, Amianus Marcellinus, Ibn Battuta, Saadiah Gaon, or Joseph De Maistre;


・he doesn’t know that there is no difference between “pseudointellectual” and “intellectual” in the absence of skin in the game; has mentioned quantum mechanics at least twice in the past five years in conversations that had nothing to do with physics.


・He knows at any point in time what his words or actions are doing to his reputation.


IYIs fail to distinguish between the letter and the spirit of things. They are so blinded by verbalistic notions such as science, education, democracy, racism, equality, evidence, rationality and similar buzzwords that they can be easily taken for a ride. They can thus cause monstrous iatrogenics without even feeling a shade of a guilt, because they are convinced that they mean well and that they can be thus justified to ignore the deep effect on reality.

・But yet, in a different domain, say foreign policy, a neo-con who doesn’t realize he has this mental defect would never feel any guilt for blowing up a country such as Libya, Iraq, or Syria, for the sake of “democracy”. I’ve tried to explain via negativa to a neocon: it was like trying to describe colors to someone born blind.


IYIs can be feel satisfied giving their money to a group aimed at “saving the children” who will spend most of it making powerpoint presentation and organizing conferences on how to save the children and completely miss the inconsistency.


・Likewise an IYI routinely fails to make a distinction between an institution (say formal university setting and credentialization) and what its true aim is (knowledge, rigor in reasoning)


・The propensity to this mental disability may be shared by all humans, and it has to be an ingrained defect, except that it disappears under skin in the game.


Postscript

From the reactions to this piece, I discovered that the IYI has difficulty, when reading, in differentiating between the satirical and the literal.



PostPostcript

The IYI thinks this criticism of IYIs means “everybody is an idiot”, not realizing that their group represents, as we said, a tiny minority — but they don’t like their sense of entitlement to be challenged and although they treat the rest of humans as inferiors, they don’t like it when the waterhose is turned to the opposite direction (what the French call arroseur arrosé).



Post-Post Postscript

(Written after the surprise election of 2016; the chapter above was written several months prior to the event). The election of Trump was so absurd to them and didn’t fit their worldview by such a large margin that they failed to find instructions in their textbook on how to react.



Pretty much everything forecasters, subforecasters, superforecasters, political “scientists”, psychologists, intellectuals, campaigners, “consultants”, big data scientists, everything they know was instantly shown to be a hoax.


Note: this piece can be reproduced, translated, and published by anyone under the condition that it is in its entirety and mentions that it is extracted from Skin in the Game.

Publications banned from republishing my work without explicit written permission: Huffington Post (all languages).

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itunalilyitunalily 2018/04/07 19:41 " can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island"

(Excerpt)

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