Are people, generally speaking, smart or stupid?

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More serious answer: people mean a lot of different things when they say "intelligent" and I don't think there is such a thing as "general" intelligence. There are people who are amazing at theoretical math who would be the absolute worst person to run a business, or hold government office, or even give you good directions to the post office. There are people who can speak captivatingly to a crowd about french literature and don't understand simple percentages. There are people who can see through anyone's bullshit but can't make heads or tails out of Shakespeare. There are people with encyclopedic knowledge and understanding of plumbing who couldn't make a plant grow, and encyclopedic gardeners who couldn't put up a shelf.

Also, ime, people who consider "intelligence" to be a general trait are often obnoxious, arrogant, and prone to overestimate their own "intelligence," often with bad consequences.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 13:33 (one month ago) link

There are also highly "intelligent" people who believe things that seem "stupid," -- PhD anti-vaxxers etc. No one's "intelligence" is free from their emotions. Relative who was one of the most "intelligent" people I knew (spoke 6 languages, amazingly well-read, brilliant conversationalist) also believed in healing crystals and stuff like that.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 13:36 (one month ago) link

Being good at calculation and some tasks of cognition is no defense from believing weird/dumb/wrong things. Belief formation and transmission is a complicated as fuck topic that most popular discourse doesn’t seem to have any understanding of

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Monday, 3 May 2021 14:28 (one month ago) link

Education/pedigree/cultural capital also often conflated with intelligence, especially by the holder. Be born to two college-educated parents with good incomes, attend a high school where 90% of people go to college, get good grades, go to Cornell and graduate with a 3.2 avg and a poli-sci degree or something, not the hardest life outcome to achieve, does not indicate exceptional intelligence.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 14:56 (one month ago) link

One of the posts above raised a question for me - are there hyper-rationalists who consider any kind of aesthetic engagement a literal delusion? People who would consider listening to a record or reading a novel not just a waste of time, but a failure of intelligence comparable to belief in religion or superstition?

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 3 May 2021 15:04 (one month ago) link

Have you met ILX

You Can't Have the Woogie Without a Little Boogie (Old Lunch), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:07 (one month ago) link

I think I understand what you're getting at and I feel like I have come across people that are close to that once or twice in my life.

But you also raise a broader point about how the lines between "rational" beliefs or activities and pure "aesthetic engagements" can be blurred for some intelligent people, even deliberately at times. Many rational people also partake in religion while understanding that, on the most literal level, it's not rational and not "true" in a purely rational sense. I always thought it was possible that my relative who liked healing crystals understood on some level that it was an emotional-aesthetic thing that was not "rational" but she never let on. I guess it only becomes problematic where it can harm others.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:10 (one month ago) link

I have no issue with people engaging with the world irrationally to the extent that their engagement doesn't adversely affect the lives or well being of others. Which is to say that I have a big fucking issue with a lot of the people who are currently engaging with the world irrationally.

You Can't Have the Woogie Without a Little Boogie (Old Lunch), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:12 (one month ago) link

Yes, man alive, not to question your judgement of your relative, but what is the difference between getting a healing feeling from a crystal, and from a piece of music or a painting?

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 3 May 2021 15:15 (one month ago) link

Like it's cool to believe in witchcraft until you start burning people in the town square.

You Can't Have the Woogie Without a Little Boogie (Old Lunch), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:16 (one month ago) link

the trick is to not assume someone who has an Esq after their name or a Dr before their name is an expert on every topic.

Filibuster Poindexter (Neanderthal), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:19 (one month ago) link

Did this thread last year

Outcome was that ilx gets v funny about calling stupidity a thing in a specific thread like this despite being fairly onside with the essential concept and using the term and related terms and concepts in every other thread

Found it a little....forced...meself tbh

Ledges post about values is interesting.

flagpost fucking (darraghmac), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:23 (one month ago) link

Like it's cool to believe in witchcraft until you start burning people in the town square.

Don't be so sectarian. Murderous pyromaniacs might be remarkably intelligent in other, subtle ways you're not accounting for.

pomenitul, Monday, 3 May 2021 15:25 (one month ago) link

religion might be true on a more or less literal level, who knows

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 15:40 (one month ago) link

i've been reaing a borges collection called "on mysticism" that includes an interesting introduction written by borges' widow. she says that the agnostic is in some ways closer to god than either the believer or the atheist. ambivalence on the big question isn't disinterest -- or doesn't have to be -- it's really openness to the sublime, with its terrors and wonders, and no narrative to fix it in place and make it comprehensible. this seems relevant here, as we struggle to draw a line between "rational" and "irrational" people.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 15:42 (one month ago) link

people are generally dumb regardless of where they land in terms of IQ or whatever other scale of intelligence one might use

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:47 (one month ago) link

people are extremely limited in what they can learn on their own. really, when we talk about intelligence as it relates to covid, etc, the "smart" people are just the ones who trust the same sources that we, ilxors, trust.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 15:48 (one month ago) link

otm

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:52 (one month ago) link

+1

Joe Bombin (milo z), Monday, 3 May 2021 15:54 (one month ago) link

One of the posts above raised a question for me - are there hyper-rationalists who consider any kind of aesthetic engagement a literal delusion? People who would consider listening to a record or reading a novel not just a waste of time, but a failure of intelligence comparable to belief in religion or superstition?

― Halfway there but for you, Monday, 3 May 2021 15:04 (nine minutes ago) link

Some pragmatists need to validate their superiority constantly, and probably only get to an extreme like that in goalpost-moving arms races with other pragmatists to be crowned #1 most pragmatic. They see themselves as sober minded and above therefore unburdened by any time wasting vices. Icy badasses don't have time for bullshit like "leisure activities", of course.

Evan, Monday, 3 May 2021 15:59 (one month ago) link

really, when we talk about intelligence as it relates to covid, etc, the "smart" people are just the ones who trust the same sources that we, ilxors, trust.

The ability to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources isn't a form of intelligence?

pomenitul, Monday, 3 May 2021 16:01 (one month ago) link

Was just gonna say same thing, pom. Tho I would said aspect of intelligence rather than form of it. Whichever.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:05 (one month ago) link

Like if you can't see that someone like Trump is not a "trustworthy source", you're fucking dumb

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:06 (one month ago) link

I think there is a lack of trust in institutions that has myriad causes—some rational, some idiotic—that is showing up as covid skepticism. It’s not, at bottom, intelligence that leads someone to believe the vaccine safety studies or not.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 16:06 (one month ago) link

There isn't necessarily consensus among "trustworthy" sources on a lot of COVID points though. It's still a novel virus and a novel situation, and there's a lot we don't really know in terms of what factors have made the most difference in cases, deaths, etc, why COVID peaks at certain times in certain places. I think there's probably consensus that vaccines work and are slowing death, hospitalization, infection and transmission wherever they are being implemented on a wide scale. Beyond that I think things are much murkier, and the tendency to assert scientific certainty in its absence, based on which epidemiologist we follow on twitter or w/e, is itself irrational.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:06 (one month ago) link

Most people aren’t qualified to independently review the trials for instance. That isn’t what i did. I trusted that everything was on the up and up. But what lie behind that wasn’t rational necessarily. I desperately wanted an end to the pandemic. I want to be a person who believes in science and institutions, even though I know pharmaceutical companies have acted in a corrupt way in the past. Idk. My taking the vaccine was an expression of faith in the system, not a rational decision necessarily.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 16:10 (one month ago) link

You can reasonably decide to put your trust in medical institutions because, on balance, they've done more good than harm.

pomenitul, Monday, 3 May 2021 16:13 (one month ago) link

otm again - there is absolutely an emotional component to being willing to rush to take the vaccine just like there is to being hesitant to take the vaccine -- as you say, I desperately wanted the pandemic to end, and I was almost euphoric that there seemed to be an "easy way out" relatively. And having "faith in the system" is, in itself, comforting. That doesn't mean I'm 100% confident it's 100% safe or 100% as good as it's made out to be. There was calculated risk taking in there too, but the emotional component is there. Don't know if I can say it was a "rational decision" *or* an "emotional decision," - I don't think I believe in that binary.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:14 (one month ago) link

(xp to treesh)

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:14 (one month ago) link

The ability to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources isn't a form of intelligence?

― pomenitul, Monday, May 3, 2021 11:01 AM (twelve minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

I'd chalk that up more to the heavy erosion of critical thinking skills among the populace. Like that's a thing that can ostensibly be taught but by and large isn't being taught so most people are just dropped into an insanely complex world without the tools to reckon with any of it sensibly. So now it's all about how you feel about a thing and how long you're willing to defensively yammer about your feeling.

You Can't Have the Woogie Without a Little Boogie (Old Lunch), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:18 (one month ago) link

Maybe people should wear name tags that list the types of intelligence they possess.

"Joe Bob Wilson - good at math"
"Francesca Nkruma - writes well-reviewed poetry"

etc., etc.

but also fuck you (unperson), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:20 (one month ago) link

when was this golden age of critical thinking?

Left, Monday, 3 May 2021 16:22 (one month ago) link

Evan - strong thighs

Evan, Monday, 3 May 2021 16:23 (one month ago) link

when was this golden age of critical thinking?

― Left, Monday, May 3, 2021 11:22 AM (eleven minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

I dunno, maybe you tell us since yours is the first evocation of such a notion itt.

You Can't Have the Woogie Without a Little Boogie (Old Lunch), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:35 (one month ago) link

you used the words "erosion" and "now"

Left, Monday, 3 May 2021 16:37 (one month ago) link

pretty evocative imo

Left, Monday, 3 May 2021 16:37 (one month ago) link

I'd chalk that up more to the heavy erosion of critical thinking skills among the populace.

Idk. I think some people have rational reasons to distrust the healthcare system and other systems. Restoring social trust by building stronger, more transparent, and less corrupt institutions will have more of an effect in promoting pro-social behavior with regard to things like vaccines than any kind of critical thinking education.

https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/covid-vaccine-black-distrust

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 16:37 (one month ago) link

I always thought it was possible that my relative who liked healing crystals understood on some level that it was an emotional-aesthetic thing that was not "rational" but she never let on.

I know a bunch of people who have gotten into tarot & assorted trendy witchy astrology stuff over the years, which generally seems extremely silly to me and embarrassing at face value. and while i've never pressed them about it critically bc that would seem to be in bad taste, ive heard a number of them assert that its 'rational' in the sense of "i dont believe the cards/stars/crystals have literal supernatural magic powers, but using them as a metaphorical framework for thinking deeply about the world and your life can lead you to powerful personal insights or self discovery". which on the one hand is the same reasonable argument anyone would make for engage with art & literature, but on the other hand often seems to me like the confirmation bias of concocting a rational explanations for a belief system that they already decided to adopt for aesthetic-emotional reasons, and/or just having a handy non-foolish-sounding retort in their pocket for when someone says "you know thats all fake right?" idk if its dumb or what though.

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:38 (one month ago) link

We always turn the onus on the individual in America. While I agree that vaccine hesitancy is infuriating, I can’t help but be angrier at government authorities than individuals.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 16:39 (one month ago) link

Tarot is made up of archetypes, one eye open. So it’s true in the same way great literature and myths are, which is to say it speaks to fundamental human truths.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 16:43 (one month ago) link

People get a lot out of drawing analogies between their own specific struggles and archetypal stories and symbols, which are often pretty nuanced when examined up close. Nothing irrational about it in my opinion.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 16:45 (one month ago) link

I know a bunch of people who have gotten into tarot & assorted trendy witchy astrology stuff over the years, which generally seems extremely silly to me and embarrassing at face value. and while i've never pressed them about it critically bc that would seem to be in bad taste, ive heard a number of them assert that its 'rational' in the sense of "i dont believe the cards/stars/crystals have literal supernatural magic powers, but using them as a metaphorical framework for thinking deeply about the world and your life can lead you to powerful personal insights or self discovery". which on the one hand is the same reasonable argument anyone would make for engage with art & literature, but on the other hand often seems to me like the confirmation bias of concocting a rational explanations for a belief system that they already decided to adopt for aesthetic-emotional reasons, and/or just having a handy non-foolish-sounding retort in their pocket for when someone says "you know thats all fake right?" idk if its dumb or what though.

― nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Monday, May 3, 2021 11:38 AM (seven minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

It seems weird to imagine that a person would be cogent and rational enough to understand that that explanation makes sense and to assert it, and yet not actually believe that explanation. Like that a person would somehow be totally irrational and dumb about tarot cards yet at the same time smart and rational enough to concoct a convincing smart/rational explanation that they don't actually believe.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:48 (one month ago) link

FWIW, during the pandemic I got in the habit of saying a brief Jewish morning prayer every morning, which roughly translates to "Thank you God for returning my soul to my body." Obviously I don't believe that I have a soul that leaves my body at night in any literal sense, nor do I believe there is literally a god that is deciding every single night whether I should wake up again the next morning. And yet (1) I find that doing this makes me happier and more appreciative of my life and circumstances (2) I find it more meaningful to say this very old traditional prayer rather than just wake up and say "Yay, happy to be alive," (3) I really like and find poetic the idea of my soul leaving and returning to my body as a metaphor for sleep and (4) there's a layer to it beyond 1-3 that I can't really fully explain.

And I probably also have some lingering religious anxiety from when I was a young child and wondered whether all of these things were more literally true, and have found that it's easier in life to just ritually alleviate the anxiety rather than struggle to rationalize my way out of it.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:54 (one month ago) link

So, I guess to OEO's point, on some level that's true -- I am doing something because of how it feels and then backfilling the explanation. But I don't think that's because of a "failure of critical thinking" so much as a choice not to try to overpower a certain feeling with critical thinking.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:57 (one month ago) link

Ppl are losing faith in "institutions" because they're sometimes wrong. Very wrong! "Experts" aren't infallible. There's corruption. There's lying because "people can't handle the truth" or to save one's ass.
Smart people observe that and conclude they should be skeptical of "institutions" and make extra efforts to suss out the truth and facts. Dumb people just go "welp you can't trust ANYTHING anyone says ever". Aka throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Thus govt ALWAYS lies. EVERYTHING is a scam or a conspiracy or a scamspiracy. I don't vote cause they're all crooks and it's all rigged etc etc

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:57 (one month ago) link

right now, the line to get into the new White Castle that just opened here is about 6 times as long as any line to get a vaccine

Filibuster Poindexter (Neanderthal), Monday, 3 May 2021 16:59 (one month ago) link

There's lying because "people can't handle the truth" or to save one's ass.

this part really irritates me about dr. fauci, the "noble lies" thing.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 17:02 (one month ago) link

i get why he does it but i think it's infuriating. and over the long haul, it erodes his authority.

treeship., Monday, 3 May 2021 17:03 (one month ago) link

Agreed. It hasn't only been him.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 3 May 2021 17:05 (one month ago) link

They fucked up right out the gate by flip flopping on whether ppl should wear masks or not. Because they were concerned ppl would buy up all the PPE leaving health-care workers without. But again, a smart person can see why they weren't telling the straight truth in that instance and not take it to mean they don't EVER tell the truth.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Monday, 3 May 2021 17:08 (one month ago) link

My mum always says stupid is as stupid does

Pinefox reviews Reviews (wins), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 08:56 (one month ago) link

She’s a fucking dimwit though

Pinefox reviews Reviews (wins), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 08:56 (one month ago) link

I like my mum's daft mixed metaphors in an Irish accent that don't make any sense - there is some wisdom in there somewhere!

calzino, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 09:04 (one month ago) link

She once said, when I was starting a bookie job: "when you are dealing with money, don't even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"

calzino, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 09:09 (one month ago) link

I am generally speaking smart because I realized this thread was gonna go into tl;dr territory 100 posts ago

Draymond is "Mr Dumpy" (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 15:41 (one month ago) link

I can generally figure things out but I also do dumb shit all the time: the Duality of Man

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 16:04 (one month ago) link

She once said, when I was starting a bookie job: "when you are dealing with money, don't even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"

This is funny to me because back when I worked construction in the summers, that last part was the foreman's favorite insult for people he perceived as dumb. I.e. "that new laborer is so stupid his left hand don't know what his right is doing".

soaring skrrrtpeggios (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 16:38 (one month ago) link

when you are dealing with money, don't even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing

Her use of it makes sense if we go by this definition:

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/225650.html

pomenitul, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 16:42 (one month ago) link

Oh, it's from the Bible.

Authoritarian Steaks (Tom D.), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 17:14 (one month ago) link

where does “overthinking” come into play?

brimstead, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 21:44 (one month ago) link

Also the Bible

Filibuster Poindexter (Neanderthal), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 21:51 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Thursday, 10 June 2021 00:01 (six days ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Friday, 11 June 2021 00:01 (five days ago) link

67 vs 6 imo

Eschew things thirty two times before swallowing them (darraghmac), Friday, 11 June 2021 00:06 (five days ago) link


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