Destroy your civilization by dumbing it down

Our modern social systems all begin with democracy, and democracy has a fundamental problem: it is based on popularity with humans, and not reality.

Where an individual leader can become deluded some of the time, a group can be deluded nearly all of the time, simply because as social creatures we want to believe what our friends want to be true is true.

With enough people together, as in a committee, a socially coercive force emerges called politics. Will my friends still like me if I vote this way, or that way? Will I stand out enough to attract friends, mates and business partners if I vote for the same stuff others do?

Even more, popularity rules us through what people purchase. If you want an A+ grade product, and 51% of the market is satisfied by a C+ grade product, the C+ grade is what will be the norm and the A+, if it exists, will be a luxury and cost proportionately more.

In addition to this basic conceit, there are at least two major problems with popularity-based systems:

  1. Recognition. The voters/buyers only approve of what they recognize, and they only recognize what they already understand. Anything beyond the capacity of the majority might as well exist on another planet, because it’s moonman speak to them.
  2. False assessment. In order to make a hierarchy of ability that is recognized by the crowd, such societies rely on tests and measurements that generally assess your ability to take the test, not to do the job itself.

The result is a massive dumbing-down where the realistic range of necessary possibilities is reduced to a simplistic, one-dimensional surrogate because that is palatable to voters/buyers.

Most governments now achieve this through public schooling. They reason that school should address the needs of a mythical “average” student, and create a lowest common denominator out of that and force everyone to conform to that low standard.

The result is walking zombies who throw around words like logical, science, rational, clearly, etc. and random scientific facts as if these were in themselves arguments.

On the surface, their goal is to educate and enlighten, but underneath the surface the method is much clearer: eliminate anything above the level that the voters/buyers are comfortable with.

Such a society can fool itself but no one else. While it reduces its own standards, and produces its new elites, these elites aren’t actually elites. They’re just socially elite.

As always in the barnyard, the herd takes a vote, declares itself to be reality, and uses that new “official” designation to do whatever it wanted to in the first place, creating a disaster that takes a long time to detonate.

They always blame someone else. In the beginning, they blame the most visible enemy; in the end, they blame paranoid conspiracies. It is by this method that great empires pass into irrelevance.

32 Responses to “Destroy your civilization by dumbing it down”

  1. Mihai says:

    “Most governments now achieve this through public schooling”

    Please don’t forget the “prestigious” universities where students are trained to become corporate drones or ‘academics’. Speaking of which, we should not forget our academical “elites” who reduce every subject, every area of study to a pseudo-intellectual, constipated “debate”, producing tones of articles and manuals of irrelevance.

    In such a sterile environment, it is quite understandable that even some of the most gifted children and students will lose all interest immediately and focus on some immediate gratifications that, at least, give the illusion of relevance.
    The educational system is unable to offer even the slightest orientation and life governing principle, other than “make money”, “be a “(that is lack any stable principle and worldview) and “conform to our dogmas”.

    • crow says:

      Great comment :)
      All school really succeeded in doing for me was to stimulate interest in an elaborate plan of escape.

      • Mihai says:

        Yes, exactly. If there is one thing that I learned in my years of school is to never rely on school education, but to go searching for REAL education elsewhere.

        • Mihai says:

          By the way: “other than “make money”, “be a “(that is lack any stable principle and worldview) ”

          Here, I wanted to write “be a free thinker”- which is yet another illusion propagated through school.

  2. crow says:

    I especially identified with that reference to the idea of Recognition:
    I find it almost impossible to speak of things, or ideas, to people, that they are not already familiar with, simply because of this tendency to only give credence to what they recognize.
    If they don’t already know it, then it must be wrong. Or laughable. Or evil.
    Thus nothing new can ever come their way: no clarity, no revelations, no insights.

  3. Missy says:

    A couple of things:

    “If you want an A+ grade product, and 51% of the market is satisfied by a C+ grade product, the C+ grade is what will be the norm and the A+, if it exists, will be a luxury and cost proportionately more.”

    Let us take the example of furniture. If the entire population was unsatisfied by a C+ grade product, for example, your standard household furniture, and instead demanded solid wood furniture, no veneers, no shortcuts, then there’d be no forests left, anywhere and no wild animals who normally make their homes there. Only plantations, and they’d be gone soon, too.

    Is it worth it? Seven billion people with beautiful, solid wood furniture? Should we all demand the kind of furniture the aristocracy owns, get it, and then all live on a bald, sandy prairie forever?

    2nd example: Your phrase “As always in the barnyard, the herd takes a vote”.

    Not in my barnyard! The boss animal is the naturally smartest and strongest. No voting. Not sure what you meant, Brett. Maybe a different comparison is needed, and it shouldn’t involve animals.

    Thank you.

    • crow says:

      Do you call yourself ‘Missy’ because, no matter what, you always miss the point? Here’s a tip to becoming a sentient being…
      Words are not the things that they refer to.
      Words refer to things.
      Words describe things.
      Words articulate ideas.
      But the words are not the ideas, themselves.

      Almost nothing is ever going to be written in the way you expect them to be written. Because the writer is not you.
      And the words used are not your words.

      • Missy says:

        It could be argued – and I so argue – that a writer should be so precise that no one, not even a tard like me, could possibly see other possibilities in the way he makes his points: that all professional writers ought to shape their arguments and opinions in a way that one cannot possibly come to a wrong conclusion or see angles other than the one the writer is trying to make.

        In another essay here on, Brett said, “…Teach to a level of achievement, not a level of compromise.” To do that, you need to make sure you are such a good teacher that the one tard in the class could not possibly misunderstand you. Don’t blame the tard!

        • crow says:

          Nobody blames a tard for being a tard, whatever a tard is, but a tard might consider resisting the urge to venture where tards should never go. I.E. into discussions where concepts unknown and unknowable to tards take place.
          Whether you know it or not, it is totally impossible to successfully explain or describe something to anyone unable to grasp it. This is amazingly common on the internet. I see it all the time. I am unsure as to what is actually going on, but have reached a point where I no longer try to explain certain things to certain types because it verges on madness to continue to try.

          Really, my above comment probably contained elements of sarcasm and ridicule, but along with that was a lot of truth.
          Words are pointers to things, not the things, themselves.
          And this, I imagine, is what many fail to appreciate.

          • Whether you know it or not, it is totally impossible to successfully explain or describe something to anyone unable to grasp it.

            Learning really is a leap of faith. The student must be ready, the instructor ready to give and the two ready to meet in the middle. That it happens at all is amazing. Then again, so is DNA replication.

          • Missy says:

            “Tard” means retard. Persons incapable of grasping whatever it is superior minds want to put across. A narrow, limited mind is a retarded mind. I’m a tard because I foolishly expect highly interpretive writing or speaking to be acknowledged as such by the writer or speaker. Arrogant, stupid little tardish mind, but not so tardish as to be unable to take a hint.

            • crow says:

              A narrow, limited mind is not necessarily retarded. It is simply a narrow, limited mind.
              Are you a ‘tard? I don’t remember that anyone called you that.
              Being able to take a hint is a very worthwhile thing, and something I didn’t quite get for a long, long time.
              Actually I don’t feel I was hinting at anything, other than expressing minor annoyance at your questions, that seemed to reveal that you hadn’t seen the obvious. Obvious to me, anyway.
              You don’t have to take me seriously.
              Almost nobody else does.
              Including me, whenever possible.

        • ferret says:

          writers ought to shape their arguments and opinions in a way that one cannot possibly come to a wrong conclusion or see angles other than the one the writer is trying to make.

          I agree. It would be really helpful, but it’s too hard to do.
          It’s much easier just to share an opinion without elaborate argumentation. Also it’s much easier to criticize something, or somebody (almost effortless) than to build a system of positive insights.

          One can try to articulate something positive and constructive, just in order to see how difficult it is.

          About the wrong conclusions: there is always a certain percentage of audience that interprete what they were told in a completely opposite way. It’s normal. And the feedback helps to cope with this. But the feedback works only if it’s constructive, which rarely happens.

      • crow says:

        This is actually a very interesting point…
        It is a peculiarly leftist trait to assign meaning to words, themselves, rather than assigning words to describe meanings.
        As an example, nauseatingly common where I live:
        In order to be ‘spiritual’ and let others know one is ‘spiritual’, all one needs do is tell people “I am spiritual”. Unsurprisingly, there is no spirituality inherent in this act. The content is non-existent, and the words take the place of content.
        The leftist will claim others to be ‘bigots’ and in this way show others their own unbigoted nature, while at the same time creating a ‘bigot’ out of thin air.
        Maybe this is a low-I.Q. phenomenon. Coupled with a bull-in-a-china-shop mentality.
        I wouldn’t know.

        • It is a peculiarly leftist trait to assign meaning to words, themselves, rather than assigning words to describe meanings.

          I think this is very important. For the conservative, meaning is found through symbols; for the leftist, the symbols are the meaning.

        • Lisa Colorado says:

          ‘spiritual’ is too vague. Maybe they could take some time to think about what kind of a person they are, what their truest morals are, and then they could be honest.

        • Eric says:

          Another great way to show off your spirituality is to be seen toting around your yoga mat in public while wearing you skin hugging yoga clothes, or if a guy, your organic cotton loosing fitting thin fabric pants that go down about halfway between the knees and ankles. Clearly a sign of people with superior spiritual knowledge. It is a known fact, so don’t try and say it isn’t so.

          • ferret says:

            “Spirituality Pants TM”
            Good Idea for a new product/business. You should patent it :)

            • Eric says:

              Where I live, they are all over the place (well, not totally). I just love the way these guys carry themselves, full of certitude of there superior spirituality. You get to a point where you can read people like a book, and once you do, it blows your mind that people are really like this (or that, that and that.) Really, it blows your effing mind. The women, most are just looking to show off their “assets” if you will. I’m a dirty bastard sometimes, so cannot deny taking a look here and there ;) But in all seriousness, there is so much phoniness in society today. To the point where it seems crazy. It truly seems to be the norm.

            • Ted Swanson says:

              Spirituality Pants – LOL!

          • Eric says:

            Oh yeah, another way to accomplish this is to get yourself some kind of tattoo, you know, some really cool symbol that speaks volumes and exemplifies depth. Maybe something tribal that shows just how in touch with nature you are or that you are some sort of tough nuts. If you are a guy, maybe something on the calf you can show off. Or a full sleeve that ages so fucking well.

            I’m seeing this crap all the time, and a lot of it is being done as a means of trying to display some sort of hard ass toughness. Sometimes I just want to look at one of these douchebags in the face and tell them “scars are earned, tattoos are bought – you ain’t shit.” For real, you ain’t nothing.

            • Eric says:

              Excuse my language above. I was in a bit of a mood yesterday. It was kind of a warm one out, and had gotten caught up in all the “tough nuts” posturing going around that day. I’m an equal opportunity hater – I see fakes and phonies across all persuasions. They are all over. Maybe I’m one too??!? It does seem to be the norm these days…

    • I was more thinking of Animal Farm or perhaps a herd of sheep, but barnyards do vary. If you don’t mind bearing with the metaphor, as crow suggests, the point is found outside of it but through it.

      On furniture, what fascinates me is that what makes great furniture is often not the raw materials but the design and craftsmanship applied. However, the larger point is that if you need quality, and the population doesn’t want quality, you’re outvoted.

      I will keep your barnyard and furniture in mind when constructing future metaphors :)

    • ferret says:

      Seven billion people with beautiful, solid wood furniture?

      Presently, the solid wood is used for fences; the byproducts are used for making the pressed particles boards for the furniture. Which is absurd.
      A good solid wood furniture in a good household served for couple of generations. It was beautiful and of better quality. Today’s furniture falls apart in couple of years, and sometimes people have urge to throw it away after couple of month due to the bad quality.
      This “economy” solution in reality increases the wood consumption.

      One more deception we have when consider wooden frame houses so popular in the US as being cheap. Yes, they are of inferior quality, but not cheap: in fifty or so years half of their wood is consumed by termites or/and gets rotten. We pay less for the house, then pay to the termite exterminators and house repairs.
      As a result, we save nothing and destroy our forests at the same time. Only because we do not demand a quality products.
      And it is inherent to consumerist society with capitalist economy.

      • Anon says:

        ferret makes a good point here, which maybe Missy didn’t consider. Saying “it’s too expensive to make quality products for everyone” contains some truth, but is short-sighted in that it forgets that cheap products need to be replaced often, and this can lead to more waste and expense in the long-term than if the product had been designed well with quality components initially.

        crow laid into Missy with his first comment there, hence the whole butthurt exchange, hehe…very strange for a crow, especially this crow. why you not play nice with Missy, crow?

        • crow says:

          Nice isn’t something I value highly.
          I am what I am when I am whatever I am.
          Today I am very tired.
          Tomorrow I may not be.

      • Eric says:

        Yes, quality can last a long time. And if of a suitable design, timeless if you will, will not come across a dated either. In fact, stuff of the nature often gets better with time. In the long run, less resource wastage.

        • Missy says:

          I’m not against beautiful, solid wood furniture that lasts for generations. We have a few pieces (and they were not expensive) and it doesn’t look as if they are going to die anytime soon. A lot of people of today’s mental conformation cannot bear to keep the same old stuff year after year; it makes them crazy. We have to be getting and spending, it is truly an addiction.

          I am saying that you can’t have a population of 7 billion hungry mouths and rising, together with beauty and integrity. Including integrity of forests, whether planted or ancient.

          • Eric says:

            You don’t need to sell me on the “too many people” problem. I’m fully on board with that one for sure…

            Heck, too many rats in a cage, all wired together, all socialized to the same meaningless reality. Well, we see where it is headed…

  4. Jake says:

    Love your site, love your posts. One request, though …. :

    Could you PLEASE, for the love of the almighty whoever, just use less WORDS?

    The words, man, I’m trying to keep track of them, then it’s sentences, then paragraphs and the whole time I wonder … could this have been done with less words? And maybe too, words with less syllables?

    Heh. Nice work, though.

    • crow says:

      Yes, words all too often obscure meanings, instead of conveying them.
      Sorry. let me put it another way:
      “Yeah man” :)

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