Posts Tagged ‘incompetence’

Affirmative Action Destroys Competence

Friday, May 12th, 2017

From The Unz Review, a startling revelation about the consequences of affirmative action in education:

Black teachers have the highest probability of becoming principals throughout the teacher lifecycle. Hispanic teachers have the lowest probabilities and the probabilities for white teachers are situated between the two minority groups. The racial differences in the hazard functions are statistically significant.

The inclusion of teacher characteristics, school characteristics, and year fixed effects increases the odds ratio from 2.18 to 6.36.

People generally do not understand that Affirmative Action creates a market force through risk and cost. If a black person walks through that door and is not hired, there is a not insignificant chance of a lawsuit, and most of those are settled to avoid bad headlines.

For this reason, if a white person and a black person vie for the same job, it is much safer to give it to the black person, even if there is a competence differential.

This is not an argument that all black candidates are incompetent, but a frank statement of fact: an incompetent black candidate has the same chances of winning a lawsuit or getting a huge settlement as a competent one, so the black candidate is usually chosen.

No one gets fired for hiring a black candidate.

This means that affirmative action is forcing the hiring of incompetents, and as a result, is decreasing the value of what they administrate, in addition to creating the classic culture of incompetents: demanding leadership surrounded by yes-people.

Now consider how much this expands outside of education. The same pressures exist for every business, thanks to government laws and regulations which expose them to liability.

As America struggles to regain a healthy economy, one of the major factors thwarting it is such rules, which cause bloat and incompetence, dragging down industries and raising costs across the board.

The Increasing Mediocrity Of Everything

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016


Growing up, students like myself were amazed at the obvious fracture: great art, symphonies and books all belonged to the past. The stuff our teachers told us was good in a contemporary sense was gimmicky foolishness and rarely had the depth of the past, with a few exceptions like Tom Wolfe and Michel Houellebecq.

In the meantime, there was always a trend afoot. Some book was the most recent Hunger Games and was flying off the shelf, to inundate used book sales barely a year later. Some movie was a constant source of pop culture references, or kids were listening to some album, but they never endured more than a decade at best.

Through this, early on we were introduced to the knowledge that our society had once been great, but now was not, and that our current “culture” consisted of little more than temporary fascinations which had no significance. With this in mind, it was hard to take anything seriously but hedonism and careers, since nothing had any meaning at all.

Since that time, most of us have become accustomed to the thought that as every year passes, every thing — institutions, art, culture, products, machines — would cost more and be less functional, but would be correspondingly even more over-hyped. It is like Moore’s Law for decay.

You may wonder why things are so wretchedly awful and getting worse. Here are three good reasons:

  • Ahierarchicalism. In the old days, there were editors on every level who selected the best of what was before them and kicked that upstairs. For this reason, by the time a book hit the readers, it had gone through many gates and was likely at least a candidate for good. As this model became unpopular, writing underwent a “democratization” process by which mediocrity was equated to quality. Now, anyone can publish, and they all do, which has resulted in a flood of books, blogs, magazines, and papers that no one has time to read. Where previously a few hundred thousand “power user” readers sifted through fifty books a year, now they face thousands of books being released per year, almost all of which are terrible and equally over-hyped. Even the famous sources of best-seller lists can tell us what is trendy, but not what is good. As a result, junk proliferates because it is competing on the basis of novelty and ironic uniqueness — a surface trait — alone. This is true not just of books, but all cultural objects and any products, including technology. Innovation has died, replaced by reconfiguration of known tech into new consumer objects. What we do have barely works. Refrigerators that once lasted decades now barely last for ten years. Microwaves fall apart while units from the 70s are still going. Cars seem to work OK if one buys an older design, but the newer trendy ones disappear within the decade.

  • Government. Government does nothing right. At every level it introduces waste and moves slowly, and when it does act, it screws up the natural process of life and business and replaces it with a bureaucracy that rewards the idiotic and punishes the intelligent. Whole fields are now essentially paper-pushing experiences in which new false targets are established by regulation and fear of government interference. Wherever government goes, the markets slow down and those who attempt quality are punished not just by the high cost of all the paperwork, but by the risk involved in going beyond what others are doing that is officially approved. In addition, government demands ever-increasing taxes to keep up with its bloat, further stilling innovation and markets.

  • Education. How can you be against education? That is a modern heresy like saying you are opposed to science. And yet, education produces people who cannot think for themselves. They are good at being taught a task, memorizing its many variants, and working away at it in that low-intensity modern way that involves lots of detail work and almost no analysis. As a result, they pass along blatantly unrealistic ideas as verified truth and fail whenever confronted with something outside of the script that they were taught at school. Think of the blank looks on the faces of European leaders when the migrant crisis exploded, or the number of companies that have fallen into senescence by failing to keep their products relevant. Look at Radio Shack, which vanished without a fight, or even Apple, which cannot seem to invent any new technology so keeps updating the past. Notice the number of district attorneys who prosecuted absolutely hopeless cases, or failed to prosecute necessary ones. Or even the vast amounts of corruption, tax cheating, and general lawbreaking which goes unnoticed and unacted upon. We have created a system that promotes the obedient far beyond their abilities, and then has no response when they somewhat predictably cannot figure out anything that they were not taught.

All of these are secondary to the primary decay of the West, of course. Once upon a time, we chose our best people and put them into a hierarchy, assigning them power and wealth as tools to be used toward the end of advancing civilization. For several millennia we have backed off from that approach, and as a result, every year we are less good and less competent, but more cocksure and pretentious.


Friday, June 19th, 2015


Like the force of gravity, the temptation is to accept the narrative and change our thinking so that everything seems like it will turn out okay. Stop resisting, stop questioning, and stop noticing; simply put your faith in the System, which is not the old mean system where Progress meant tearing down trees for factories, but the new happy System in which Progress means that everyone gets to be important as long as they keep going to work for ten hours a day.

Stop and consider instead the plague of our time: incompetence. On the surface, we live in a wonderland of products, services and institutions. Underneath, very little of this works except for the simplest possible cases, generally because it is staffed by incompetent and inattentive people. This occurs because in the postmodern West, “the job is no longer the job”; what matters most is political obedience and the nebulous but important ability to be socially acceptable to others. Those who succeed are sometimes those who exceed the norm, but more likely those who are personable, have memorable mini-biographies in their CV, and avoid stepping in any of the many pitfalls. If you cannot choose the best person, choose someone who causes no problems. The result of this regime appears in the form of people who are very good at avoiding visible mistakes but are actually not all that alert. They get ahead on their confidence that every task fits within the framework they have memorized that serves 80% of tasks but does not apply to the rest. And with society in a state of constant growth, 20% losses are insignificant so long as a new, more credulous audience keeps coming in the door. Why spend time and money on an oddball when there is easy money on a mechanical process of more of the same?

Even at the political level this manifests. Our highest echelons of leaders treat every problem as either a lack of jobs, a need to bomb, or an opportunity to create another institution of bureaucrats. None of these work very well, but the product is not the end result; it is the appearance. The voters are seemingly too perpetually clueless to notice this, but the goods paid for are delivered at the press conference and in the warm feelings that spread through the hive, and influence its buying patterns thus make it more profitable. In the same way, the goal of a product in a big-box store is to make a good presentation in the commercial, seem appealing on the shelf, and then avoid manifesting any of its more blatant problems during the warranty period. Academia and science follow a similar template, inventing “studies” and “theories” that allow people to turn to their neighbor, point at it and execute the classic see-I-told-you-so, then forget about six months later when it comes out that the data was cherry-picked. This dysfunction is universal yet is never noticed. That is: you never see mention of it in print, on the radio, on television or even among a social group. Everyone accepts it as some form of background hum that must be endured but has no particular relevance.

How did we rise to this level of incompetence? One answer is provided above: people who can tell the difference are rare, and it is easier to simply find more clueless people than to take the time and effort to address those with solid needs. In America, we began this process with the importation of non-Western Europeans and extended it through the democratization of education and “success.” This promoted people of incompetent judgment skills who were competent at another sham process, which is education, or the memorization of many “facts” and then reciting them on demand in a slightly different order. With the rise of the educated dummies, a new consumer class had been found; its members lacked the intelligence to separate a good-looking bad deal from a good deal, so they got the former and the latter, being obsolete in market terms, vanished from the earth. If you wonder why the refrigerator breaks after exactly twelve months and one day, or why most movies are pitched at the intelligence level of a retarded sloth, here is your answer. Idiots with degrees and specializations constituted a replacement middle class, and they could be counted on to buy moron products like Porsche SUVs and fridges that could tweet when you need more milk. The division between these two is illustrated in a classic work by Albert Jay Nock, in which he discusses the division between mass culture and The Remnant, or those with the capacity to create civilization and discern good from stupid:

Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

…As the word “masses” is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

In other words, incompetence arises from mass taste. The Remnant are those who could create our civilization anew and who can tell the difference between quality and junk, but that makes them bad consumers, where the masses — those with no particular ability except obedience — are excellent consumers and useless at restoring civilization. Spengler would observe that most civilizations extinguish themselves by forming an internal preference for masses over Remnant, which explains why third-world nations consist of the remains of once-great empires, now staffed by people who cannot understand much less replicate what their ancestors — and higher-caste employers — once did with ease.

Charles Darwin described this progress as degeneration, which occurs when evolutionary pressures are altered to select for more generalized traits, as happens when industry needs consumers and elects to cram as many fools in the door as possible. That method of control, or of manipulating others as means to an end and not as part of the organic whole that is society, appears frequently when civilizations lose contact with their original genetic unity and become participation- or politics-based. As Darwin writes:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected. – Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, pgs. 168 -169

In this passage, he carefully targets pity as a source of social decline. We see others struggling, and in them, see a social property for ourselves: we can feel good, and look good to others, for the simple cost of helping an incompetent. The same impulse that causes people to give money to beggars when out for a walk with the girlfriend, or to insist that everyone must get along in a class of kindergartners of uneven abilities, propels our desire for altruism or the helping of those who cannot or will not help themselves. Altruism, which is self-interest masked behind manipulating the social feelings of others, is the basis of equality (“egalitarianism” is apparently too big of a word for the internet audience). Equality in turn is the basis of accepting incompetence as equal to competence so long as the incompetence is obedient, personable, etc.

We have reached a tipping point in the West where the masses have overwhelmed the Remnant, and are now pushing hard to exterminate it. Typical masses M.O. here is to either stage a revolution and directly punish those with wealth and intelligence (but not wealth alone) or to create a completely unworkable situation politically and then expect the Remnant to rise up, volunteer to fight, and go die defending liberty for people who cannot use and will not risk themselves to achieve it. Witness the massive debacle that was the OPM hack, referred to by many as a “Cyber Pearl Harbor,” and the surprising origin for its success despite our advance warning of its inevitability through the Hollywood hack and credit card hacks of major retailers. A post-mortem reveals that its cause was mass-culture incompetence before anything else:

A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?'”

Obedient mass culture people lack the skill of judgment, which is what separates the idea of what we can do from what will achieve sensible results. That is, your average mass culture nitwit knows how to do things, and he applies those without regard to circumstance, which is why he can solve only 80% of problems and the remainder baffle him (and he screws them up). The inoffensive, personable and interesting manager simply outsources to China. Well, of course the admin passwords go too — what do you think, that he is a racist? And so insanity passes for intelligence, of all things, because the Americans are so hamstrung by social obligations to be nice, interesting and inoffensive that they ignore the actual task. Someone from the Remnant would not have screwed this up; people from the mass culture get it wrong every time.

When people like myself talk about reclaiming the West, our goal can be expressed simply: changing our society so it again rewards the Remnant over mass culture, and deposing the incompetents and the mass culture vote, consumerism and social forces that propel such people into power every time over the Remnant. This also recognizes the tendency of mass culture toward ressentiment against the Remnant, and explains its ongoing desire to pervert, corrupt, dumb down and otherwise adulterate every aspect of modern life. This also shows why, as I have been writing about for years, the real Rubicon we must cross is the idea of equality itself, and that all other problems stem from that. The point of class warfare is to overthrow the competent so the incompetent mass culture can reign; the point of immigration and diversity is to destroy the Remnant genetically. All of these things are linked to a singular tendency of incompetents, which is to be apologists for decline who “explain it away” by demanding attention to unrelated and less important issues instead. Incompetents are in a perpetual state of compensation where they cannot address the actual problems, so invent other ways to stay employed, and end up re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic until they are surprised by a sudden influx of water which, also shockingly, is deathly cold in a way their minds could never conceptualize until that moment.

There is only one human problem

Thursday, September 25th, 2014


Humanity doesn’t have problems. It has one problem: incompetence.

Stupidity, laziness, and denial go together. Wherever there are stupid people, these problems spread. Stupid people inherently have these problems, and enough stupid people together make them into a norm.

The solution is obvious but not simple. We need more smart people. We need fewer incompetent ones. This can be achieved by not allowing incompetents to have power and money, and by encouraging the intelligent to have more children.

A secondary problem presents through the tendency of smart people to make themselves stupid through neurosis. We can fight this by establishing strong families, giving people more time at home with their children and spouses, and removing ugliness and tedium from wherever it is found in our society.

Strip away the billboards and constant advertising; throw out the moronic blockbuster movie and chart-topping insipid rock music. Burn the modern “art” that expresses nothing but confusion, and tear down the hideous modern architecture that idolizes the box in all of its forms. Get rid of lines and triplicate paperwork. There is no accountability; you either have smart and honorable people in charge, or all is lost.

We suffer under the mistaken idea that the incompetent are “equal” to the competent. Such an idea violates logic and brainwashes people into tolerating incompetence.

None are equal.

Equality represents a false goal. We should instead seek supremacy, or becoming a better version of what we are, much as individuals improve through maturation, experience and facing the challenges of life. We must challenge ourselves and rise above our comfort zones.

Stagnation is death. It does not exist; when we stop moving forward, we begin drifting backward with the current, and other things take our place. Usually these are parasites, including the stupid, deceptive, corrupt, criminal, perverse and sadistic.

Our society made a positive goal out of stagnation with its quest for equality. This crusade always creates death because it denies our need to reward those who do good so that we encourage more doing of good. Equality amounts to an award for doing nothing, and it converts who nations into groups of incompetents.

This viewpoint has no political “side” or orientation. It is practical knowledge that can be derived from either logic or life experience, particularly experience in nature. Nature represents a mathematically optimized system which has adopted its form of anti-incompetence called “evolution.” In nature, those which are competent generally out-live and out-breed others.

In humanity, we have reversed this process. Now the competent cower in fear of the vast masses of incompetents who will band together and crush them. This leads to a dumbing-down of all ideas, a reversion to the mean in ability, a wave of crassness in all art and culture. It is the path to our slow but inevitable doom.

Old man grumblings

Sunday, February 9th, 2014


Old men grumble in the frosty morning. Their fingers are stiff, their jaws set. They fumble with the difficult objects of everyday life.

Part of what makes them grumble is that, having a lifetime of experience to know the difference between mediocre and adequate, they realize the world quickly separates itself into incompetents and competents. And the incompetents are winning.

They might bemoan for example the cheap plastic nature of most gadgets now. “This crap won’t last a winter.” They’re right in spirit, although usually wrong in terms of length of time predicted.

But the bigger point is that the old men are right about the objects in our daily lives. That is the role of old men; they are less active in the bigger picture, and focus on the more day-to-day.

And yet, doing so makes sense. The day-to-day is what influences our moods, our outlooks, and how we’ll respond to the world. If the door lock sticks, and the garage door opener is a plastic piece of junk, and the spare on the car really sucks, is it surprising that people are embittered and negative?

Old man grumblings illustrate what is in my view the most destructive aspect of the modern world. In order for us to all be equal, we must ensure that our focus as a society is on methods and systems, not quality of individuals.

As a consequence, we set up an educational system and many metrics to measure merit. But do we really look at people as far as their intent, as whole people? We do not. And thus if Gary who manages the team designing the garage opener finds a way to make more profit by making it flimsier, Gary gets promoted.

It wasn’t always this way, which is what old men remember. Back when they were young, there was a strong culture. A culture that said that if you ship a piece of junk, it reveals you as a piece of junk. That you never make something flimsy because someone out there will be relying on it. That profit is only sensible when it doesn’t come at the cost of being what your culture says is a good person.

The neurotics, abused children and addicts who form the basis of the left found such an attitude enraging. Why should their free spirits be constrained by culture? Why should we have values at all? Let everything slide; then we’d be free. But free to do what, exactly?

Free to use flimsy garage controllers, to have fumble-prone locks, to replace disposable plastic gadgets, to drive down roads choked with people not paying attention, to wait in line while low-information workers bungle your order, to file paperwork so bureaucrats can lose it, and many more examples of everyday insanity and stupidity. That is what focus on method has produced. It’s easy to control from the top but results in the day-by-day are bad.

The free spirits are the same as they were seventy or a hundred years ago. Their problem is that they are neurotic, abused/angry, and strung out. Their problem was not a lack of freedom, but their own behavior. They’re doing exactly the same stuff their early precursors did, which is to be bohemian, “act different” and flaunt social mores. But like a broken record, these behaviors ring hollow now too. They do not lead to enlightenment. Even if we found they were not harmful at all, their utility would be dubious, since they do not get us someplace better. And yet the free spirits persist, because these behaviors are how they justify their position in life. They want us to look at them backwards, and see not people with problems, but brave innovators living on their own terms. This is why they invent those behaviors: to, like good actors, fit the role they are playing.

A modern person confronted with this dilemma will view the problem as insoluble. There is no other option, they think. But there is: stop the focus on methods and systems. Focus instead on quality of people. We’re not all equal; some are better in character, morality, ability and the talent to see the whole picture. Start getting those people into positions of power.

You can burn most of the laws, regulations and certificates at that point. Put good people in power. Put bad people in charge of nothing. Good to the good, bad to the bad. It works out much better than our automated assembly line governments which can focus on only one attribute at a time, thus leave us grumbling in the morning that everything sucks and no one is paying attention.

The little guy, tyrant

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Our society is essentially divided between two narratives. In one, the little guy is oppressed by big institutions. In the other, the little guy and his failings are why we need institutions.

The former view, shared by anyone on the leftist spectrum from anarchist through moderate Democrat all the way to die-hard Communist, sees the individual as always being the victim. The individual is blameless; the problem lies, instead, with these institutions (which paradoxically are composed of individuals).

On the other hand, the view shared by all conservatives from moderate Republicans through Traditionalists is that each individual faces a series of “moral” (e.g. based in consequences) decisions and the failure of most people to get very many of those right creates an unstable and corrupt society.

If we adopt the former view, we are forever watching for an external enemy. Dictators happen to us, not by our hand. Corruption, crime and social decay are more like the flu than the result of our own actions. And we should forever be vigilant for a chance to stick it to the big guy.

It all started over the weekend, when Victoria Liss was tending bar at Bimbo’s Cantina in Capitol Hill and a customer stiffed her on her tip. He also insulted her by scrawling this note on the receipt:

“P.S. You could stand to loose (sic) a few pounds.”

That prompted the outspoken Liss to post a picture of the receipt on her Facebook page. She posted the customer’s name, Andrew Meyer. Soon, an enraged mob was scouring the Internet for the man Liss called “yuppie scum,” and a picture and Facebook page was found, posted and reposted. – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Stop right there. The narrative that ten thousand movies and books have programmed into your head is that this bartender is the victim.

However, we’ve only heard one side of the story and some of the facts.

Despite his atrocious spelling, it’s not clear whether he did anything wrong. We know nothing of the quality of her service. Does she deserve a tip automatically even if the service was bad?

Did she say anything cruel or stupid to him? How was their interaction? If a lonely guy wanders into a bar, gets snubbed and scorned by a bartender, especially if she calls him fat, his response is entirely understandable.

Interestingly, none of our media overlords — many of whom carried this story — thought to ask that. None of the forums on which it was posted thought to ask that. Any thought was in fact drowned out by the lust of a crowd for a good hanging.

And then, the unraveling:

Except there was one problem. It was the wrong Andrew Meyer.

On Monday, Liss posted an apology.

“I need glasses, I put up the picture of the wrong guy,” she wrote. “I’m a douche for that. SO SORRY. Blinded by rage.”

Her excuse is that she was “blinded by rage,” which implies that the rage was justified. Still, we don’t know — no one has asked the questions asked above. And if she behaved like a “douche” on the night before he “stiffed” her for the tip, maybe he was always the victim in this case.

But the Crowd likes to think that no individual can be wrong and so they always side with the underdog and the little guy. A bartender is always weaker than his customers, because they’re the ones with the money, goes the narrative. Yet even that isn’t necessarily so. A quiet person can be very humiliated in that situation.

We are told we need to consider the little guy more, and to give the 99% all of our money, but we don’t actually know that these people are competent at…anything. In fact, having seen the people at these protests, we can say they fall into two types:

  • Young. Still living on the parental dole, and subsidized by easy but low-paying entry-level jobs, they know nothing of the world. Their sum total obligations are an apartment and a phone bill. They don’t understand economics or even how vicious a Crowd can be.
  • Failed. These are people who often have a reasonable amount of money thanks to having stayed with their entry-level jobs and, despite incompetence, getting promoted sheerly by being there. They now want to know why their incompetent performance hasn’t made them champions of the world.

The mentality of the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the vindictive bartender are the same.

The motivations of American Democrats and 1917 Russian Communists are the same.

The outlook of bomb-throwing 1930s anarchists and limousine liberal “progressives” are the same.

Their goal is equality through wealth redistribution. Assume the little guy is a moral Jesus, and therefore (magically) the big guy is evil, and take that wealth and spread it around. Spread the power around too.

Never mind that like this vindictive bartender, the little guy is incompetent (that’s why he’s a little guy; he has found nothing truly constructive to do) and as a result, will become a far worse dictator.

As incompetent social policies fail, dictators increase their demands for obedience to the dogma that caused those problems. They must maintain control. This resembles our own manic cleaving to failed programs like universal education, multiculturalism, government regulation and entitlement subsidies.

When a leader is unsure of her own abilities, she tends to act like a Stalin or Mao and first lock down control and remove the ability of others to criticize her. Only when that is accomplished does she worry about whether the Army has the right caliber bullets.

The little guy is in fact a worse dictator than any Pol Pot, Hitler or Genghis Khan could ever be.

The little guy acts on impulse, and when he sees a bartender complaining, gets on his white knight horse and attacks the other person, without even considering that there are two sides to the story.

The little guy demands unrealistic things in total ignorance of biology, economics, logic and even chemistry, and punishes those who remind him that his plan is impossible.

The little guy ignores problems that are socially unacceptable, while continuing to beat the dead horse of his own ideology.

Luckily for him, the little guy is also an invisible dictator. When we think of power, we think of one Voldemort-type character ruling from a throne, not an army of thuggish food service employees, their unions, and millions of useful idiots taking out their dissatisfaction with life on the rest of us.

Worst of all, the little guy takes up all of our political time and energy with his drama, while real problems get passed on by.

Whether your service is good or bad, some San Francisco restaurant workers want to implement a 25% standard tip onto your bill for you, according to an article in the Contra Costa Times.

Is this fair? Some in the food industry say “yes, it’s about time.” However, many “foodies” are not as happy with the idea. According to the Times, for the most part, people, on average tip between 15% – 20% and the restaurant worker actually has to claim 15% with the IRS.

Those opposed to the increase noted in the article that “the whole purpose of a tip is to reward service.” – CBS

This is the little guy as dictator at work. The underdog feels that he is always the victim, so he wants a mandatory payment. This way, it doesn’t matter whether he’s competent or not. Since he’s the little guy because he’s not particularly competent at life, this benefits him.

Unfortunately, it also provides him a disincentive to perform. In addition, he will retain his status as underdog victim and so will viciously attack anyone who criticizes him. He thinks that, like government workers and people on welfare, he has finally found a way to live on easy street.

Except that only a total moron would endorse such a plan. Total morons cannot think to the moral value (measured in consequences in the long-term) of their actions. They cannot visualize the actual chain of events: service will decline, people will eat out less to avoid the hostile environment, and thousands of do-nothings will become waiters, dividing into even thinner slices an already thinned-out pie.

The little guy is incompetent, oblivious and often cruel. As a dictator, he wants only to be obeyed without question. If someone did not leave a tip, that person is guilty — no trial or even considering the facts needed. Burn that witch, drown that sinner, lynch that heretic. For equality!

While all of our Hollywood movies, Washington speeches and Brussels commandments tell us to push further down the obviously failing path of universal equality and the entitlement state (in order “fight inequality” and “smash fascism”), we should ask ourselves:

Do we want a dictator? Especially one we cannot dethrone? And one that has shown, throughout history, a predilection for bloodshed, cruelty, injustice and worst of all, a tendency to enact vindictive rage against those who are not incompetent?

The choice lies before us. We have been acting out the political drama of 1789 over and over again, with little guy underdog against the big guys, and it hasn’t worked for us. Maybe instead of enshrining incompetents as dictators, we should simply find competent leadership instead.

The Dunning-Kruger effect

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Dumb and Dumber (Screengrab)

The Dunning-Kruger effect states that incompetent people are also incompetent in assessing their own performance. Therefore, less competent people think their performance is competent, while smarter people focus on their own flaws.

It explains, among other things, how in a society that places too much value on image, idiots and insane people are able to get ahead by overestimating their value and getting fools to agree with them.

The essence of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than knowledge.” Studies have shown that the most incompetent individuals are the ones that are most convinced of their competence. At work this translates into lots of incompetent people who think they are superstars. And what is worse is that if you have a manager that doesn’t closely supervise work, he or she may judge performance based on outward appearances using information like the confidence with which these incompetent blockheads speak.

An important corollary of this effect is that the most competent people often underestimate their competence. This is a result of how you frame knowledge. The more you know, the more you focus on what you don’t know. For instance, people who can name 15 of the 50 state capitals tend to think “I know 15.” People who know 45 of the 50 state capitals tend to think “I don’t know 5.”1

Dunning and Kruger, two researchers at Cornell University, described their findings in a paper entitled “Unskilled and Unaware Of It: How Difficulties In Recognising Ones Own Incompetence Lead To Inflated Self-Assessments” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Their conclusions can be summarized this way:

  1. Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill,
  2. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others,
  3. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy,
  4. If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

Translation: without leadership at the top of the curve who is willing to call people on their incompetence, the incompetents will appear competent to other incompetents and be advanced, possibly even to the presidency.

This causes a mathematical problem for democracies since most people are not particularly competent at leadership, government or logical argument, meaning they are both unable to assess the best leadership choices and sure that they’re right.

It’s essentially similar to the Downing effect:

One of the main effects of illusory superiority in IQ is the Downing effect. This describes the tendency of people with a below average IQ to overestimate their IQ, and of people with an above average IQ to underestimate their IQ. The propensity to predictably misjudge one’s own IQ was first noted by C. L. Downing who conducted the first cross-cultural studies on perceived ‘intelligence’.

His studies also evidenced that the ability to accurately estimate others’ IQ was proportional to one’s own IQ. This means that the lower the IQ of an individual, the less capable they are of appreciating and accurately appraising others’ IQ. Therefore individuals with a lower IQ are more likely to rate themselves as having a higher IQ than those around them. Conversely, people with a higher IQ, while better at appraising others’ IQ overall, are still likely to rate people of similar IQ as themselves as having higher IQs.

The disparity between actual IQ and perceived IQ has also been noted between genders by British psychologist Adrian Furnham, in whose work there was a suggestion that, on average, men are more likely to overestimate their intelligence by 5 points, while women are more likely to underestimate their IQ by a similar margin.2

That tendency could go a long way toward explaining why many successful societies have relied on strong leaders who had no problem beating down the incompetent with force. Unless suppressed, the 90% of humanity who per the “Bell Curve” are unskilled and unaware of it will take over and, being incompetent, run society into the ground.

In addition, while people can be taught specific tasks, they cannot be taught to reason in general; education does not raise IQ and in the process of trying, becomes dumbed-down to the point where no one intelligent will get any benefit from it, which discriminates against the intelligent.

When you combine the Bell Curve, the Dunning-Kruger and Downing effects, and the natural tendency of human beings to compromise, you have a working explanation why human societies inevitably begin the pursuit of a “race to the bottom” once they become powerful enough to stop losing so many people to natural events, disease and war.

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