What Is Wrong With You People?

Here are some links, “sign-posts” along our knowledge journey:



Arnold Kling alerted me to the “epistemic crisis”, in which we are currently immersed, and The Aristocracy of Talent (2021) was the final book in a Meritocracy debate we explored here 8/3/21 – 11/2/21.  Elites today “lack virtue and moral balance”. 


Chapter 10 of Rationality (2021), What’s Wrong with People?, explains that elites are blind to their own bias, in addition to being morally vacuous (oh they virtue signal like crazy – but it’s just fake wokeness; playing the “social justice game”, as Kling puts it).  Pinker begins this chapter with a recap of cognitive fallacies and then zeros in on the motivated reasoning of elites.  It’s what makes them so wrong.  They will not admit it, but wokeness is just a status weapon being wielded by the irrational and immoral, grasping for power and status, unable to obtain it via rational means.  Check back here in a few months, after we’ve excavated the thoughts of Rauch, Stanovich and Galef, if you’re not convinced yet.

Elites remain in denial, wallowing in motivated reasoning and myside bias, militantly shunning the rationality train.  Pinker writes:

The obvious reason that people avoid getting onto a train of reasoning is that they don’t like where it takes them.  It may terminate in a conclusion that is not in their interest, such as an allocation of money, power, or prestige that is objectively fair but benefits someone else.  As Upton Sinclair pointed out, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.

Pinker points out two kinds of belief – reality (testable) vs. mythology (distal beliefs – non-falsifiable).  Elites are ensconced in luxury distal beliefs – they have no stake in the truth of them.  He concludes the chapter by urging a reaffirmation of reality.  Pinker’s fixation on Donald Trump (and Rauch’s as we’ll see) is distracting because the illiberal, irrational right is not really a threat to society.  The real danger is from the condescending illiberal left now in power.  Trump’s lying, trolling and attempts to “flood the zone with shit” is an angry reaction on behalf of the working class, who are fed up with all the woke nonsense – they’re sick and tired of being ignored or openly disparaged as deplorables.

Reality is a public good, which is now being damaged by the “Tragedy of the Rationality Commons”, as Pinker and others dub it.  A tiny minority of us (the Rationality Community) can see what’s wrong with people.  Rationality is not just a cognitive virtue, it’s a moral one as well.  Understanding that should be the basis of norms and mores for our whole society – not just the hobby of a club of blogging rationalist enthusiasts. 

Next week, we’ll finish Pinker’s book and then start the New Year off with The Constitution of Knowledge.  Merry Christmas from The Estate Planning War Chest!

EDIT: Elon Musk explained recently: Wokeness is “divisive, exclusionary and hateful it basically gives mean people a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.” What is wrong with people?

-> wokeness


We’ll continue to shine the light on the woke mind virus infecting academia and journalism.


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