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Culture: Intellectuals yet idiots? Isn’t that a bit redundant?


You’d think so, to listen to Lebanese American essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb at Medium.com:

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 “intelligenzia” 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. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.More.

At Evolution News & Views, David Klinghoffer riffs,

In general, we disapprove of name-calling around here. But there’s something to this.

Who are the “IYI”? They are “policymaking ‘clerks’ and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts.” A key identifying marker of the IYI is an eager credulousness when presented with prestige scientific or science-flavored ideas. The eagerness to believe is a function of concern for the IYI’s reputation with peers.

At one time this IYI type tended to just hang around campus and get himself accidentally locked in the lavatory over the long weekend. The problem is that today people actually believe that he can help us, guide us, do something useful. Well, we see the results.

Worse, his students, the precious little asshats and junior jackboots are on the march too.

See also: Whole foods scams do not inspire rage


Crisis in replication

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