March 23, 2013

More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald
"The bad misleading and abusing the dumb sums up large parts of human history quite well."
-- MM

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1. Four main problems with human stupidity
The rule of law
Interview with Glenn Greenwald
About ME/CFS

Like yesterday, I keep having problems with my eyes, and therefore there only is a shorter Nederlog today than there could have been.

If you are looking for "Human Stupidity Is Destroying the World", click on the last link: It's yesterday's Nederlog, and I have a little more today on it, in the first section, which I add because I do not want to be misunderstood.

1. Four main problems with human stupidity

Yesterday I wrote about "Human Stupidity Is Destroying the World", which title is not mine, though I agree with its general idea, but not with the notion that it is especially the stupidity of the lower half of the IQ/intelligence distribution [1] that is the problem.

The real problems all start with the fact that the education the higher half on the scale of intelligence has received and been exposed to since the 1970ies, is a lot less, on all levels, than people got between 1865 and 1965, at least in Europe. [2] (I know less about the US, but from what I know it seems to have been similar there: Once there were quite a few good public schools; now most of these are defunct, just as happened in Holland and most of the rest of Europe - and let me add that at least in Holland many of the really good schools have been destroyed on purpose by local leftish levellers of the Dutch Labour Party, especially, on the pretext that they were "elitarian".)

Here are four of the real problems:

  • The really intelligent, with a few exceptions in some studies that are not popular but are demanding (mathematics, physics, sinology), have been systematically undereducated the last 40 to 50 years: That is the first main problem - an educated class that is both far larger than it used to be, and far less highly educated than it was and could have been (if standards had been maintained instead of levelled).
  • This resulted in a class of academically qualified intellectuals that is far less capable, on average, than members of the same class were between 1865 and 1965, which results in far less competent leaders, directors, psychologists, pedagogues, linguists, sociologists, and academically qualified people of almost all kinds. That is the second main problem: Those who reach positions of power over others - of all kinds - have been on average much less well educated, and are less capable, and much more prone to make, pass, approve, or not to speak up against dangerous, deleterious, or dumb policies of all kinds (such as deregulating banks, allowing junk bonds, strangling instead of stimulating a tottering economy, massifying schools, and lots more).
  • Added to which are the effects of TV, propaganda, and marketing which have much undermined and generally much worsened the rational and honest use of language. That is the third main problem: While there are more nominal "intellectuals", there are far fewer competent and real intellectuals, who also have to compete with the far larger class to get income, tenure or jobs, and while there is a pressing need for intelligent public intellectuals who could engage the public in intelligent discussion of important themes, the population as a whole has been massively undereducated, relative to what is possible and required for maintaining a high civilization based on real natural science and technology, while the few intelligent public intellectuals there are, are crowded out, shouted down, or repressed by a far larger crowd of far dumber or far more dishonest posturers who also have academic degrees.
  • The fourth main problem is that, in consequence of the above three main problems, there is less and less room for intelligent public discussion of any kind: Either there is no public for it or what gets discussed are not the real problems but only such restatements, simplifications, or propagandistic rephrasings as the average postmodern academic intellect can cope with agreeably, which is very little, as e.g. in Holland most can't spell and can't do mental arithmetic, and know almost nothing of real science, history, mathematics, philosophy or literature. [2]

But I am only listing what seem to me to be the real problems with human stupidity, as that now has been manufactured on a very large scale from the late 1960ies onwards, and I will not here and now discuss more of it, other than saying that if you really are intellligent - and the percentage of people who are truly intelligent probably is more or less the same as was, and certainly less than 1 in 50 - these are some of the postmodern problems you will run into: Your peers generally are undereducated, as are you; your competitors are generally hardly competent intellectuals, but far more numerous, and are in positions of power almost everywhere - and they don't like smartasses at all; the public likewise has been both undereducated and been steeped all their lives in propaganda, marketing slogans, exaggerations and postures of all kinds that make it very difficult to find an audience that can speak and understand proper English; and the majority of your fellow students, who also finished with degrees, quite possibly better than you because conformism gets rewarded, had an IQ of 115 or so, that is, in years with gifted students.

2. The rule of law

I mentioned the rule of law repeatedly in Nederlogs, which is a principle that was best phrased - as many things were best phrased [3] - by Aristotle:

It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.

What is "the rule of law"? It turns out the phrase is used in various senses, and that what seems like a fair summary [4] is to be found on Wikipedia:

There are at least three separate aspects of the phrase, it seems to me:

1. Equal: The rule of law involves that the same laws are applied in the same ways to everyone in the society that is under the rule of law, and that this is all done regardless of person, power, position or prestige.

People are not equal, in very many ways, but an essential part of justice is that one gets treated by the law according to one's real acts and ommissions, and that this gets decided by standards, rules and regulations that are equally applied to all, that do not depend on any special privileges or special discriminations.

2. Public: The rule of law is exercised in public trials on the basis of published laws.

There is no real rule of law if the laws that are applied are secret or arbitrary in their content or application, and there is no real rule of law either if legal trials, accusations and judgments are forbidden to the public (with some rare possible exceptions, and even then there should be some public accountability and special reasons for keeping certain things hidden).

3. Absolute: The rule of law trumps any political, religious, personal or other interest. Public officials get power to maintain the law, in the name of the law, but they do not, themselves, get discretionary power over what the laws are to be, or the power or right to make laws, or the freedom to decide which of the laws are to be maintained in what circumstances, indeed unless they are public judges doing public justice.

There is no real rule of law if public - non-judicial - officials are free to transgress it, are free not to maintain it, are free to decide how the existing laws are to be interpreted or applied, or are free to make laws by themselves without recourse to and approval by the majority of the public they rule in the name of the law.

For Dutch readers, and for people interested in Holland and also for people interested in the - supposedly - paradisical sutuation of - supposedly - legalized soft drugs in Amsterdam and Holland, or indeed in Dutch Tolerance:

The Dutch are not under the rule of law, and have not been for decades:

Asylum seekers, foreigners and poor people do not get equal access or equal treatment since 2002 at the latest (systematic, intentional, inhuman abuse of foreigners whose only "crime" is that they have no legal papers); many decisions that ought to be made by either the courts or the parliaments are taken by the politicians who are ministers or by high bureaucrats (sale out of the Dutch public institutions for water, energy, and health care, in the name of "the free market"; destruction of large parts of education, mostly by bureaucrats in education; insanely high remuneration of high bureaucrats and holders of public offices); and since ca. 1980 every year billions are and have been made systematically and by design on the market of soft drugs that are effectively controlled illegally by mayors, aldermen and police-officers: Illegal drugs are sold with special mayorial personal permission given by Dutch mayors, given to what must be supposed their personal friends who deal in illegal drugs, who also have gotten effectively, in practice, since more than three decades now, "the right", by special mayorial permission, not to have the qualities of their drugs controlled, and not to have to record the amounts of their sales (!!), all while selling these illegal drugs with the mayor's personal permission and allowance. [5]

3. Interview with Glenn Greenwald

This is a man with considerable courage and a clear mind, who wrote and said many interesting things. His column in The Guardian is here:

There is a Wikipedia on him here:

and a quite interesting interview (I saw/listened to several, but found this, upon the whole, the best of what came to my attention) here:

I found it interesting that Greenwald studied philosophy, as I did, although in fact I would not recommend that to any truly intelligent person (but then nobody told me so, who could know, before I found out), not because the subject is uninteresting or unimportant - see my "Why philosophy is important" - but because almost all academic philosophers are quite uninteresting, both as persons and as intellects; because one can read the great philosophers - logicians, philosophers of science - oneself anyway (perhaps with some education in mathematics); and because it is very hard to get a decent job with it, especially if one is truly competent and honest, and does not like to lick arse, or cannot do so with lots of enthusiasm and apparent joy.

So, if you are really interested in philosophy, and besides really intelligent, my advice is that you study physics or mathematics or biology or computing, or indeed perhaps law, and read philosophy as an aside, or take it as a minor. [6]

Mar 29, 2013: Corrected a typo.

[1] Although I have (or had, when younger, healthier, and more interested in these issues) a very high IQ, I do not believe it is a really good measure of intelligence for various reasons I won't enter into. Clearly, in general terms, the two are correlated (high intelligence with high IQ, etc.), and IQs are fairly good predictors of scholastic aptitude.

For those who know who Richard Feynman was, see "Surely, you're joking, Mr Feynman!": He also ran into the problem. As to postmodernistically educated "intellectuals": Most didn't get any science, any history, any mathematics, or any foreign language except English - in Holland - since they were 14 or so. (But many have a Ph.D. in "media studies" or "European studies", although they cannot spell the words in their own mother tongue and find it impossible to say how much 25*77 might be without a calculator.)

Even though we lack all Aristotle's published works, that are supposed to have been written in most excellent Greek: What we have seem to be mostly in the nature of his personal notebooks, that were also preserved by a fluke.

IANAL - "I Am Not A Lawyer" - as the phrase is, but at least I did read parts of Dicey and some other law books, albeit I did these things several decades ago. And I read a great amount of philosophy, to which many writers on the law have recourse.

There is a very widespread confusion of most non-Dutchmen that "soft drugs - marijuana and hasish - are legal in Amsterdam and Holland", because they are sold publicly from public "coffee shops", to which anyone has access, and where any adult can buy soft drugs. This is NOT legal according to Dutch law: It is since 1980 the special prerogative of mayor and aldermen of Amsterdam and, since 1980, of many other Dutch towns and cities, that the mayor and/or aldermen can choose who may sell these drugs, which is done on the public pretense that these mayors and aldermen do not know what they are doing, do not know what is being sold with their personal permission, and do not know how much is being sold with their personal permission. There was one Parliamentary Investigation of this practice, in 1995, from which it emerged that, then, at least 10 Billion dollars of soft drugs are turned over in Holland each year. Since the leader of this Parliamentary Investigation "got a mortal accident" no Dutch politician, no judge, no policeman and hardly any journalist has questioned any of this practice, or investigated in any way who receives the gigantic yearly - untaxed, uncontrolled - profits (estimated to be at least 50%of the amount turned over). Let me just remark that I expect that the families of especially Amsterdam mayors and aldermen, but also quite a few of that species of Dutch official outside Amsterdam, will turn out to be exceedingly rich, probably - they will say - because they "were lucky speculating in shares". The Dutch generally don't care, except that some are financially envious. No Dutch judge or politician publicly discusses or questions this state of affairs in any way: One might upset leading members of the Dutch Labour Party! Also, there are many drugs related murders in and around Amsterdam, is true. And the summary of the legal status of soft drugs in Holland comes to this: It could all have been easily legalized since 1980 at the latest, if only Dutch politcians had wanted to do so. Since it did not happen, and since what did happen is the most secure schema to get unmeasurably rich, this is what happened, most probably: It was kept illegal on purpose, so as to make some Dutch ciivil servants, mayors or aldermen and their families exceedingly rich, in foreign shares on foreign banks. Since this still happens since the entry of Holland in the European Union, there probably is connivance on that level as well, but indeed the yearly turnover in the early 1990ies was around 10 Billion - 10.000 million - dollars each year, and since then very probably considerably more. As the Dutch saying is: "Tel uit je winst!" (Translation: "Go count your profit!").

Given my opinions, my honesty, and my intransigence it is very unlikely I ever would have gotten an academic job as a philosopher in Holland, where the mediocrities and imposturers rule almost all institutions since many decades, but then I also was removed as a student of philosophy briefly before taking my M.A. in it, "because of your publicly outspoken ideas", as the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam put it to me. They also wrote me that they did so "in spite of your illness, that we take quite serious", and did not mind that their staff had screamed at me that I am "a fascist" and "a terrorist", although they knew of my family background.  Then again, the whole question is academic, as the phrase is, because I fell ill at age 28, on 1.1.1979, and never got better. I did take an M.A. in psychology, with excellent marks also, but that choice was mostly motivated by the fact that my then wife also studied it, and by the fact that I wanted to know more about human reasoning, for which the academic study of psychology also is not helpful, and indeed large parts, though not all of it, turned out to be pseudoscience.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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