Out of touch

When we go through life, we feel a schizophrenic disconnect between what we think we’re doing and the results we see in reality.

Think about the political programs you read about in the news. Almost none of them achieve their desired effect; some do, “on paper,” meaning that they meet some arbitrary targets but don’t fix a problem.

Most of our worst problems are with us perpetually. Crime, poverty, war, incompetence, corruption, filth, and a seemingly endless stream of people willing to do anything for cash, to themselves, others or the world at large including our environment.

Are we out of touch?

Perhaps the answer lies in how we approach the world. We sample from it, then make a “hypothesis” or agreement to study only some details of a situation with many thousands of details. When we find a way to manipulate that subset of the details, we declare ourselves in control.

Yet no one talks about the context, the forgotten data and that which is not considered because it is not what our big human brains are interested in at that moment:

Ken goes on to point out that:

Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase serum hemoglobin, increase total lung capacity and stimulate weight loss, factors that all contribute to enhanced performance in endurance sports. Despite this scientific evidence, the prevalence of smoking in elite athletes is actually many times lower than in the general population. The reasons for this are unclear; however, there has been little to no effort made on the part of national governing bodies to encourage smoking among athletes.

Now at this point I assume that people are wondering how something this insane came to be published in a respected medical journal (as of 2010, CMAJ was ranked 9th of out 40 medical journals, with an impact factor of 9). The answer, of course, is that the point of Ken’s article was to illustrate how you can fashion a review article to support almost any crazy theory if you’re willing to cherry-pick the right data. Here is the paper’s abstract:

The review paper is a staple of medical literature and, when well executed by an expert in the field, can provide a summary of literature that generates useful recommendations and new conceptualizations of a topic. However, if research results are selectively chosen, a review has the potential to create a convincing argument for a faulty hypothesis. Improper correlation or extrapolation of data can result in dangerously flawed conclusions. The following paper seeks to illustrate this point, using existing research to argue the hypothesis that cigarette smoking enhances endurance performance and should be incorporated into high-level training programs.

While people might be able to spot the implausibility of smoking improving distance running performance, it’s a lot harder to spot with more specialized topics. – PLOS

In the past, people have submitted fake articles to humanities and science journals to see if they got through. Often, they did. We have also seen a recent rash of article retractions as scientists have been caught “cherrypicking” data, which is what happens when you keep the results that prove your point and throw out the ones that don’t.

But now, we’re seeing criticism of the scientific method itself. It’s like a cartoon related to reality, a simple primary-colors representation of what goes on out there, with no consideration of context or change over time. An experiment in a lab produces one result and that’s all we care about. Any side effects are not our problem.

That approach works great for the basics of science. For example, does aspirin decrease fever? Does gasoline light on fire when you use a spark? Can we overclock our CPUs to 4x their original clock cycle? But it doesn’t work so well for broader questions, like social questions and our understanding of the nature of reality itself.

Hints of this have even crept into politics:

SPIEGEL: Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the environmental crisis and the financial crisis have common causes. Is this true?

Röttgen: I totally agree with the chancellor. The great crises of our time arise from a mindset and a political approach that knows no tomorrow. Countries and financial markets live on borrowed money, the world’s social systems — even in Germany — are not sufficiently sustainable, and we derive our prosperity from resources that should actually be available to future generations. We run up financial debts, social debts and environmental debts. This adds up to a life on credit that ignores our responsibility for the future.

SPIEGEL: It sounds like saving the euro isn’t our biggest challenge.

Röttgen: The euro crisis is difficult enough, but it’s only part of a wider problem. We are dealing with a systemic crisis. Our lifestyle of the past few decades has revolved around a dangerous egotism, which only focuses on our present needs, and which we now have to overcome. – Der Spiegel

We have a “dangerous egotism” mainly because of equality. If every viewpoint is equal, there is no plan. Each person becomes his or her own self-approving world and idea. It’s no wonder egotism spreads through the society. Equality itself means approval of the ego is enforced upon society at large.

Naturally, egotism manifests itself in a disconnection from reality. Call it narcissism, self-esteem compensation or my favorite, solipsism, but it’s a secession from reality and a withdrawal into the human mind. Judgments, feelings and preferences predominate over hard fact and logic.

It’s possible this mentality is born of the same impulse as our mis-use of science as described above. Both may have an origin in our desire to control our world, coupled with an awareness of how to game the system.

We game the system through social consequences, or by manipulating the opinions of others instead of achieving results in reality. For example, if a product is crap but you invent a catchy line to sell it to others, you win vast profits even though technically you’re in an inferior position.

That’s a reversal of nature, where the best function prevails, even if it’s ungainly or perhaps a bit weird. Equality creates a society based on image and appearance, since we assume that the structure beneath is all the same since all individuals are equal. There can be no difference in structure, or equality itself is upset.

In suggesting that the most intelligent people tend to use IQ to over-ride common sense I am unsure of the extent to which this is due to a deficit in the social reasoning ability, perhaps due to a trade-off between cognitive abilities – as suggested by Baron-Cohen’s conceptualization of Asperger’s syndrome, including the male- versus female-type of systematizing/empathizing brain [22]. Or alternatively it could be more of an habitual tendency to over-use abstract analysis, that might (in principle) be overcome by effort or with training. Observing the apparent universality of ‘Silly Clevers’ in modernizing societies, I suspect that a higher IQ bias towards over-utilizing abstract reasoning would probably turn-out to be innate and relatively stable.

Indeed, I suggest that higher levels of the personality trait of Openness in higher IQ people may the flip-side of this over-use of abstraction. I regard Openness as the result of deploying abstract analysis for social problems to yield unstable and unpredictable results, when innate social intelligence would tend to yield predictable and stable results. This might plausibly underlie the tendency of the most intelligent people in modernizing societies to hold ‘left-wing’ political views [10] and [20]. – Bruce Charlton

More intelligent people use IQ in place of common sense because they do not trust the world around them. To a mind of two deviations above average intelligence, our declining civilization seems like a place of disorder, corrupt motivations and confused goals.

Even more, once the principle of “science” is understood and manipulated, it infects the mind with its narrow type of thinking. After all, thinking that way is how you get ahead. That type of narrow thinking, combined with paying attention to social rules more than reality itself, is what makes modern society: an egotistic wasteland in which people pursue symbols of reality instead of connecting with the outside world.

As the years go on, and our problems not only stay with us but thrive despite our “best efforts” to quash them, we are starting to realize that the real problem is in the assumptions we use to approach the world. All of our thoughts are corrupted because some underlying notion is corrupt.

Perhaps this is what we mean when we say our society is “out of touch.”

27 Comments

  1. Cannibal LOLocaust says:

    Morons: “lol smart people am bad at social thinking, they always screw it up”

    Brett Stevens: “…Or maybe when you’re smart you notice that a civilization full of YOU is such a hellhole that it makes you get a little experimental.”

    Thank you for existing. On that note, I somehow doubt that the millions of hipsters with that “smart people inherently suck at socializing” article are willing to cite it in context of their idealogical heroes, who are always allegedly geniuses.

    “Smart people ruin socialization!”

    What about Marx?

    “That’s different.”

    1. “Smart people ruin socialization!”

      What about Marx?

      “That’s different.”

      Thank you for appreciating what we do and reading. I think the above exchange pretty much symbolizes the class revenge that inhabits the liberalized heart.

  2. As far as the Asperger thing goes, on a ‘concrete vs abstract’ level, the Left is more ‘aspie’, but on a ‘logic vs empathetic’ level, the Right is more aspergic, if you see what I’m saying.

    Leftists do like to hold counter-intuitive views on the world to assuage feelings of cognitive dissonance, but the Left more strongly appeals to emotion and appears to appeal to females for its ‘empathetic/sympathetic’ qualities.

    What’s your experience?

    1. Ryan says:

      i feel that the “empathetic/sympathetic” image is largely due to christian morality that has been “athiezed”, as well as women nature tendency toward “empathy/sympathy” (i would say ideally though) seem to make liberalism see that way. in fact Marx, and the modern left can be seen as this almost new form of religion, one that takes the morality of radical christianity and then mixes in radical ideas of equality. ever had a liberal minded person start talking about “racism” or who’s “racist”, it sounds like a monk correcting some wayward brother. as if there is no other way to be,

    2. The left is autistic at their core but are more socially aware than an autistic, they are good manipulators, while the right are really innocent children who think that if you do something for the best, everyone will just wake up and appreciate you, which is not at all what I have seen happen, if you change anything people turn on you like poo throwing apes.

      1. Ryan says:

        “if you change anything people turn on you like poo throwing apes.”,
        Very true

  3. crow says:

    “Out of touch” is a bit of an understatement.
    It is the inevitable result of interacting with life using nothing but ego.
    There was a time when recovery might have been an option, but that time has long since disappeared. Now, so many people know nothing else but ego-projection, that any other way of doing things is beyond imagining.
    A very few, it seems, are able to see the point of embarking upon a quest to attain spiritual mastery, and even fewer will ever actually attain it, or anything close to it. Yet this is probably the only viable path to societal health, in the absence of sound leadership.
    Not gonna happen is it?
    Thus the best that anyone can do, is attempt to “fix” themselves. Society at large is far beyond being fixable.
    It remains possible to attain fulfillment, contentment, and productivity, amid a world of insanity, by diligent devotion to the attainment of such a state, although it becomes ever more difficult, over time, as society spins its way deeper and deeper down the plug-hole.
    The irony is that if individuals would only stop either devouring the world, or trying to save it, and instead, concentrate their energies upon their own inner well-being, society would, indeed, magically regain its soundness.
    Yet people seem forever unable to see the simple connection between society and their own duty to it. Out-of-touch!

    1. Jason says:

      I choose to be out of touch. It is the only way I remain somewhat sane!

      1. crow says:

        That’s certainly one way of surviving in a world-gone-mad, and one espoused – for the most part – by my wife :)
        But you’re not going to be very successful being out of touch by coming here.
        Why do you come here?

        1. Ryan says:

          i come here because here is the only place people are actually talking, everywhere else is pantomime crow, and its so goddamn horrifying to know I will never be able to talk with coherant people except through an anonymous proxies, people who are sick of the “relatives”, if you get the bradbury allusion there

          1. Maybe Amerika.org will have a BBQ, you never know.

        2. Jason says:

          I’m looking for a belief system I can teach my kids someday, as the way I was raised nearly failed me.

          1. I favor an organic approach: teach values, history, and culture as best you can. The rest becomes apparent, but until that happens, teaching them an identity gives them no context and leaves them open to attack from the herd. It’s probably one of those “fine line” situations.

    2. Jason says:

      One more thing about ego, I notice in ultra liberal circles that I have friends in, the competition to be most leftist is laughable.

      The most respected people are the ones with the most poor and downtrodden acquintances. They are never personal friends with the drug addicts and poor, they are poverty pimps and race pimps using those people to raise their own social profiles. Always looking for a slight, they are so quick to defend a transgendered Eskimo lesbian with a cousin suffering due to BP wanting to build a pipeline in Ghana, just so they can look good to their friends.

      1. crow says:

        This has the discomfiting ring of authenticity to it.
        It’s a nightmare scenario, all too common to the waking state.

      2. Ryan says:

        “One more thing about ego, I notice in ultra liberal circles that I have friends in, the competition to be most leftist is laughable.”
        oh jason how true, everyday is just a march through moral crusading followed by the daily functions of being a cog, followed by more moral crusading and so on, but i have hope in the alt-right that it will not be infinite. i distinctly remember angrily yelling at a (very stoned) peer of mine who was going on and on about how much he had to make up for racism, i told him that he was manufacturing his guilt so he could seem morally superior (to get laid), and he shut up real fast, i rarely say it to a big strong prole though, only men i know i can beat to a pulp.

        1. The proles are inert until there are middle class goody two shoes to lead them on.

          1. Ryan says:

            yep you hit the nail on the head

            1. Ryan says:

              calling out proles is like yelling at children, its the enablers telling them thats “cool” or “not cool” that you want

        2. crow says:

          You crack me up, Ryan :)
          After laughing myself silly at your guileless honesty, I got my wife to read it too, and she laughed her head off as well.
          You really must try taking on “big strong proles”, though. That’s where the glory is.
          You are unstoppable, once you realize you are.
          But before you start, check to see that your medical coverage is fully paid up.

          1. Ryan says:

            yeah, i have done it before many times as a wee lad, and i was the schools punching bag, so you learn to work past the idiots, they all fall in line eventually. but thanks for the compliment to my internet “persona”.

        3. Eric says:

          Ryan,

          I swear I wrote my longer response before reading just what you wrote here. Good to know people are seeing the same things.

          Eric

      3. When your ideology is based on denial of reality, you want people near you who are driven just as hard as you are to deny reality, or you might be facing a traitor. That’s how the left sees it and that is why to be part of their little clique they make you swallow tonns of insane rhetoric bullshit so that you are bonded to the lie with the rest of them.

        1. Ryan says:

          wow man, you are spot on

      4. Eric says:

        I was just thinking recently about some of the photos from the various OWS demonstrations. Before I continue, I do think there are some big structural problems that allow the system to be gamed that are making some people a lot of money while not providing any value. On that note, the system is also getting gamed on the bottom end, and for that matter in between. In fact, society and the system are the commons, and we all know about the Tragedy of the Commons. In agreement with things that have been said here before, with no social consensus, it is a free for all to maximize personal gain from those commons without regards to their long-term health.

        Okay, but back to the OWS photos. It is very clear that in these pictures those partaking in the various acts of ‘rebellion’ know these acts are being captured by various forms of media. There is no doubt in my mind that there is quite a bit of ego-greed involved in these acts (as a side note, greed comes in a lot of flavors.) It is as if many of these people want to be ‘the hero of the revolution’, because in doing so (they think) they raise their coolness status and probably figure it will get them laid. Most people are either clueless to their true motivations, or are unwilling to admit them. That is a real problem.

    3. A. Realist says:

      “Society at large is far beyond being fixable.”

      And yet, if we do not fix it, it takes us all down with it.

  4. Mike Elliot says:

    I stay “out of touch” because in today’s world, it makes me relevant.

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