The Big Divide

I keep thinking about the 71+ million Americans who voted against nearly everything American has stood for until the last few years. Our Continental Divide may be beautiful to behold, but our National Divide is an ugly disgrace to normative values.

At least they have been our values until now.

What I am most challenged by is how so many fail to recognize the existential nature of the threat. This is far beyond matters of politics, let alone taste or opinion. This, ultimately, is about recognizing and standing up to evil.

What we’ve seen is no less than the rise of a Dear Leader cult figure that has created a new secular religion in America. The cult members are, as always, thoroughly brain-washed and following a human abomination blindly and irrationally.

And for what? A tax break for his wealthy friends? A few SCOTUS Justices?

Remember infrastructure? (Remember the wall?) Remember how we were going to get tired of winning all the time?

Did any of that happen? What did the last four years of “the best people” accomplish? What has Dear Leader done for anyone but himself?

Was it worth it?

71 million wanted four more years of it.

§ §

I’m suffering from a severe case of brain bollix. I’m trying to wrap my head around how that many people, for four years, heard his words, saw his actions, and still thought he was a good idea.

Oddly, it’s taken me four years for it to hit close to home. I’ve heard the stories about families split and friendships lost, but everyone I know — or so I thought — is avidly opposed to everything the monster stands for.

“Of course they are,” I would have said if asked. “What intelligent sane person couldn’t be?!”

Saturday evening, when most observers had finally called the election, I enjoyed a little celebration. To make it a party, it included a lot of very happy online chatting with friends.

Except for one, my oldest friend, the only one I have who goes all the way back to high school, and the reason turned out be that she voted for another four years.

Oh.

Oh, my.

I had no idea.

§

I’ve been thinking about it ever since. An early seed to these thoughts was planted a week or so before the election when I had an online encounter with someone who was undecided and considering voting for four more years.

The person seemed not just intelligent and sane, but in possession of a sense of history, so I found his outlook particularly disturbing. Apparently he lives in Oregon and is unhappy with the extremes of the far left wing nuts that inhabit that state in fair measure.

That unhappiness colored his view to the point of being undecided and leaning the wrong way about his vote. I’m stunned by his inability to see any forest except a few local trees.

I hope I convinced him to vote for decency.

§

My friend didn’t want to go into her reasons. She was watching a movie and wanted to return to it. (Yeah, definitely a brush off.)

The one thing she offered was the question of whether I could say I was “excited” about Biden.

No, not really excited, as such. I’ve been pretty vocal here about wishing it was Pete Buttigieg, or at least someone younger and more modern. I find it ironic that Progressives have run such old-school candidates, Hillary Clinton and now Joe Biden.

Clearly the Democrats haven’t figured out a key aspect of Abomination’s appeal — breaking the stodgy, measured, careful not too offend any voter, bland attempted inoffensiveness of nearly all politicians. They haven’t figured out that in attempting to offend no one, they offend, at least a bit, everyone.

Still, I sure do appreciate Joe Biden’s experience, intelligence, character, and manner. And I am pretty damn excited that, for the first time in four years, we have a President again, not a foul-mouthed aggrieved idiot clown.

The main point is that, despite the former reality TV star, this isn’t a popularity contest, not this time. We’re involved in an existential battle for what America is now.

That guy from Oregon, my old high school friend,… how do they not see this?

§

My friend especially, is someone I know to be rational and intelligent. One reason we’ve been friends for so long is that I see her as grounded, very intelligent, and quite level-headed.

So I’m utterly befuddled and very dismayed.

¶ How does any American support such utter contempt for American values, American heroes, and American ideals?

¶ How does any Republican support someone who trashes the party and turns it into a cult that blatantly embraces ideas not just contrary to American values, but long-held Republican values?

¶ How does a Christian support someone who so clearly is as far from Christ’s mission on Earth as possible — someone with nothing but contempt for faith and who is cynically using it for self-gain.

¶ How does any decent person support an obvious racist with a clear racist agenda? Are that many Americans still stuck in the past when it comes to race?

¶ How does any woman support an obvious misogynist? That monster falls into the class of men with an active disdain, if not secret hatred, for women.

¶ How does any parent support such a role model? How does any parent tell their kids that this is how a President of the US should behave?

¶ How does any mother support a monster who rips infants and children from their parents, locks them in cages, and then loses track of the parents? How does anyone support such inhumanity?

My friend is all of the above, but voted for someone she excuses as a “buffoon” — someone she doesn’t recognize as evil.

I’m beyond sick at heart; I’m sick to my soul. If someone so decent and rational can be so badly fooled by evil, what hope is there?

§ §

I can understand, even forgive, voting for the “Buffoon” in 2016.

Many voted in anger, many voted for something (anything) new, many apparently believed the bullshit and voted with hope. I think such voters willfully blinded themselves — Central Park Five and birtherism were clear indicators of evil — but whatever.

Anyone can make a mistake. (I voted for Ross Perot. Twice. (Hey, I could have been part of the biggest political upset in history; don’t judge me.))

What I cannot understand, and cannot forgive, is voting for the Monster in 2020 with the last four years on full display. We’re way beyond willful blindness — we’re into deliberately aligning with evil.

And apparently 71 million Americans are just fine with that.

§ §

This cult is a herpes infection of the body politic. We may heal from this weeping sore but future outbreaks are certain. The hate, fear, dishonesty, bigotry, grievance, and ignorance will not go away just because Dear Leader is finally removed from his throne.

We’re seeing right now that the infection has dug in deep and is furiously trying to corrupt the body, mind, and soul. (The Monster has installed his puppets in the Pentagon, so you know he’s hoping for a military coup.)

Worse, he’s weaponized his brain-washed 71 million and Republican leaders who would otherwise act lawfully and decently instead act from fear of what his supporters could do.

I think a lot of people don’t realize how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone.

§

The tragedy for our country is that our society needs strong and vital — and rational and honest — progressive and conservative wings.

Progressive thought keeps us dynamic and moves us forward. Conservative thought keeps us balanced and prevents progressives from leaping off cliffs. Not only are both valid points of view, both are necessary points of view.

But they have to be honest and based on reality. And both have to admit the other side has value. The true path, as always, lies down the middle.

Stay centered, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

22 responses to “The Big Divide

  • Wyrd Smythe

    As as aside, the Continental Divide is bigger than just US(A), it encompasses the entire continent. Some things are bigger than US.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    In other news, I switched my laptop from the 5 gHz wifi to the 2.4 gHz, and it’s been staying connected for all of two days now. (I was down to the wifi crashing and needing to be reset almost hourly.)

    So that’s nice. Means I can slow down about buying a new laptop. I ordered an HP from Amazon, it was delayed, and then when I got it, it didn’t work well, so I sent it back. Story for another time.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    I hear ya. If your friend is ever willing to talk, I’d be curious to know if the conversation is productive.

    I’ve talked to (and argued with) a few people, some of whom are close friends, and I get the sense they’re all either afraid to tell me the truth about their reasons (maybe I won’t understand or won’t agree and we won’t be friends anymore) or they don’t know themselves well enough to understand why they voted for Trump. The people I’ve talked to are all very different from one another, both in intelligence and in personality. But there’s one thing they all have in common: they share a visceral hatred of political correctness and cancel culture. They don’t see it as benign or slightly annoying, the way many liberals do. So here’s my theory. Trump spits in the face of political correctness, and I suspect they love that about him—but they’re not going to tell you that’s why they voted for him (assuming it is) because it’s a stupid reason. What they’ll say instead is that they think he’s the only one who can get us out of this economic disaster, and the economy is what many around here say is their top priority (no, they won’t acknowledge that his mishandling of the pandemic is what got us here, though they might agree that he shouldn’t have politicized mask-wearing). With one intelligent Rep. friend I got into the economic issue in-depth (this was a while back). First we agreed on a source for sharing info, then I sent graphs and information from that source showing how Trump inherited a rising economy from Obama. Didn’t change her mind about Trump. I don’t know what she thinks now…we don’t talk politics.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I suspect we won’t talk with such a big elephant in the room.

      I think you’re absolutely right that people are afraid to share their support and rightfully so — they should be ashamed. It’s shameful and without excuse. You’d think somewhere in their heart of hearts, they’d know that.

      Ironically (and tragically), our era, and especially this POTUS and his party, are characterized by shamelessness. We have really lost our sense of self.

      I fully appreciate — and fully share — the disdain for political correctness, and I’m especially unhappy with cancel culture. There is a definite tendency on the Left to over-react and over-correct. (The Right, OTOH, just over-reacts. 😉 )

      I do understand why that one aspect of P45 would be attractive. As I mentioned in the post, it’s ironic (and sad) how the Progressive Left has offered such conservatively old-school candidates (and, in 2016, one with such awful baggage). It also accounts for how popular Bernie Sanders is. (Regrettably, in both cases, there is an irrational cult component in play.)

      But to excuse everything else in favor of that one aspect is beyond irrational, it’s insane to me.

      It’s what I’ve decided to call Social Raisin Theory — our tendency to eat shit-covered raisins because we like the raisins so much. P45 has always been mostly shit and damn little raisin. That people would willingly eat his shit for that minuscule taste of raisin horrifies me.

      I suspect we won’t talk with such a big elephant in the room, and because, same as with your friend, I’m sure nothing I could say would be persuasive. That’s the thing about a cult — there’s nothing rational or considered about it. So where does a conversation even begin? And this is one elephant that’s just too big for me to ignore.

      (Fundamentalist Christian and definite Republican Conservative, not really a problem. Supporting P45 is just too far beyond the pale. It’s objectively, demonstrably, factually, historically, culturally wrong. (No need to study Kant for this one; a child should be able to see it.))

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I live in a pretty conservative region, so I know a good number of Trump supporters. Most think liberal fears about him are hyperbole. And to Tina’s point, they actually like that he often freaks us out.

    Many of them are social conservatives. They don’t care for Trump as a person, but they were willing to tolerate him to get their judges. This group was freaked out by all the talk among liberal activists of packing the court or defunding the police, and so were extra motivated to vote.

    Many others see Trump as a champion for people like them: blue collar workers without a college degree. They like the way he talks and get the most satisfaction from our reaction to it. Even though it’s been ineffective, they like his advocacy for manufacturing and old school economy.

    It’s also sobering to realize that Trump actually got increased support from Latino and black males this time around.

    As I noted in my post, Trump is a symptom. If the factors that led to his rise aren’t addressed, finding a place for people without a collage degree in the new economy, there will be another Trump. And the next one may not be nearly as inept.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “Most think liberal fears about him are hyperbole.”

      That’s one of the more striking aspects to me, the idea that this is just a matter of taste and opinion. That guy from Oregon suggested the media has been unfair and that liberals had been conditioned by the media.

      It ignores the words and actions he made himself. (“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”)

      “And to Tina’s point, they actually like that he often freaks us out.”

      Yes, and what a great reason to vote for President — it pisses off people you don’t like.

      “They don’t care for Trump as a person, but they were willing to tolerate him to get their judges.”

      Which is maybe one legitimate reason for support. But at what cost?

      I am pretty upset with the Left about the defunding police thing. Another over-reaction. There was a huge move to defund in Minneapolis, but the rising violent crime wave here since the uprising over the killing of George Floyd has pointed out the abject stupidity of that idea.

      Nor am I happy with this talk of packing the SCOTUS. I’m coming to dislike far Left wing nuts almost as much (at least in some ways) as their far Right counterparts. So, great, we have two groups of nutballs trying to pull the country apart.

      “It’s also sobering to realize that Trump actually got increased support from Latino and black males this time around.”

      That, in general, is a major concern. It points to manifest failure on the part of the Left. Sadly, in our modern culture, we’ve allowed ourselves to be stupid, and there’s plenty to go around on both sides.

      As I said when this Big series of posts started, if this is the best humanity is capable of, the universe has nothing to fear from us. We will not be going to the stars any time soon. We’re not capable of the vision and cooperation necessary.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Oh, Wyrd, meant to ask. have you ever tried disabling IPV6 on your adapter? I had disabled it a while back on my old laptop, and recently have been seeing some issues on the new one, leading me to think I probably need to disable it on this one. Just something to consider if that other change doesn’t end up helping.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      That’s a cool idea, I’ll have to give that a try! I’ve never seen any activity in the stats for IPv6, so nothing I have is using it. It never occurred to me to disable it (probably “just in case” something wanted it).

      Switching to 2.4 gHz is working pretty good, so I might hold off changing anything until I’m convinced this change is meaningful. (Given how bad it had gotten, it sure seems so, but I’m wondering if using it for a while will cause something to develop or show up.)

      Funny thing is, I’ve had the 2.4 gHz off for a while. I’d ordered an HP laptop (through Amazon; never again), and when it finally got here (late), during setup it couldn’t see my wifi. That caused some gnashing of teeth until it occurred to me maybe the damn thing didn’t have 5 gHz. Didn’t see how that was possible in a new PC, but maybe? I turned on the 2.4 gHz radio on my router, and the new laptop instantly saw my wifi. Once setup, the damn thing wouldn’t allow me to install FireFox (some MS BS about “S-mode” and only allowing apps from the App Store). That was it, back in the box and back to Amazon. Obviously I need to do a bit of research about WTF MS is doing these days and how I can avoid it. I’m about ready to say fuck it and buy a Mac. (I’m am seriously at the end of my chain with technology companies.)

      Anyway, turning on the 2.4 gHz radio made me think of trying it with the Dell laptop, and that’s been pretty sweet so far. I’m putting off doing a speed test because I don’t want to know, but even when the 5 gHz was working better, I was never getting the download speeds I should have.

      I wanted to tear the laptop apart and see if the wifi module was replaceable, but it turns out I have to go buy some really tiny Torex tip screwdrivers. It’s always something.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Sounds like the HP might have come with Windows S, a lobotomized version that only lets you install from the MS app store. Yeah, if you stick with Windows, I’d make sure whatever device you’re considering came with at least the Home edition. (And someone like you might want to put down the extra money for the Pro edition.)

        A word of warning. Macs are reportedly undergoing a major change, switching away from Intel processors. Something you might want to investigate prior to jumping.

        I got my new laptop from Amazon. They made a mess of estimating when it would arrive, and forced me to sign for it when it arrived, which seemed unnerving for both me and the delivery guy. Although I suspect anyone shipping something that expensive would have required the signature.

        Good luck with the changes. Hope it gives you some relief.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        One of my complaints about buying a computer (ran into this when I bought this Dell) is that these companies offer way too many models and configurations. It makes me long for the days when you could order your car in any color, so long as it was black. It takes far more research than I want to put into it to figure out what I should buy.

        But, yeah, I think I have heard of Windows S. Definitely not acceptable. (I’ve looked into Windows Pro but haven’t really seen much justification for it for me. I haven’t run into anything limiting on my Home edition.)

        Actually jumping to Macs would be a huge change. Given I mostly browse and blog, it’s a change I could conceivably make, although I’d have to start over with any coding, I’m sure. I have a Python app for my iPad, so I know Python is available, and that’s about all I use anymore. Probably won’t, but given I have an iPod, an iPad, and now an iPhone, it almost seems a natural progression.

        I’m starting to wonder what the point of Prime is given most deliveries are late and I order rarely enough that my orders are big enough to get free shipping anyway. I’ve been horribly disappointed by what books are available for Prime users, and I’m a bit underwhelmed by the non-Prime Original video content, too. I like some of the original things enough to keep the service, which is reasonable, but it’s gotten a bit borderline. Amazon is just one more tech company I’m not happy with. (I think at this point Apple is about the only one that hasn’t seriously pissed me off in a long-term way, which is one more reason I ponder a move to Mac.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Yeah, lots of options with laptops, and still I always have trouble finding the configuration I really want. For example, left to my own devices, I’d probably get a pretty moderate processor but load up on memory, but usually the options are set up that you have to to go a higher level processor to get more memory. That’s good for the vendor, less good for us.

        With desktops, it’s at least easier to buy a modest processor and load up on memory afterward. But most modern laptops aren’t designed for us to do that anymore.

        Prime deliveries are fairly reliable where I live, but I can see what you mean about what’s available under it.

        Apple for me is a mixed bag. I find their iOS offerings better than the Android stuff I’ve tried, and the Macbook Pro was a very nice piece of hardware, but I found working under Mac OS often frustrating and limited, much of which I’m sure comes from the fact that I came up under Windows.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That is the thing about Apple for us “roll up the sleeve and get into the hardware” folks. Apple never bought into that. (If IBM hadn’t thought the PC was a throwaway and opened the architecture for 3rd party developers, PCs could have been just as locked down as IBM mainframes are.) It’s definitely what’s kept me from Apple computers all these years.

        But as I mentioned, I think my computer use may have collapsed down to mostly browsing, streaming, blogging, and some Python. I find myself pondering if I really need the flexibility of Windows, especially when Windows is becoming less flexible all the time. And I have to say my experience with my various iP* devices has been almost entirely positive.

        Back when I bought this Dell the plan was to buy a desktop and a laptop, but I decided laptops are so powerful these days, I’d just go with the one. I used to build my desktops from parts, so I know full well what you mean about adding to them.

        I’ve realized that all the laptops I got through work (IBMs and HPs, mostly) were all fine, no problems with the machines themselves. But I’ve now purchased three personal laptops, the Sony Vaio (hated it), the Dell XPS 15 (hate it and it’s defective), and the 2020 17.3″ HP I ordered and sent back because Windows-S and no 5 gHz radio for the WiFi. So I’m 0-3 on personal laptops.

        It’s not like I use the laptop as a laptop much. Just sometimes when I decide to do something while watching TV, and that’s rare. Might be a lot simpler to just get a desktop.

        I know exactly what you mean about all those choices and none of them is exactly what you want. I wish they’d just offer a grid of models and options and let me pick among them. Some outlets still do that I think, but the computer makers themselves just seem to offer confusion.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    So, one week past Election Day:

    Winner: 77,162,528
    Loser: 72,047,893 (by 5,114,636 votes)

    And the silence from the GOP is deafening.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    It’s leveling off: 77,464,103 (50.9%) to 72,288,375 (47.5%)

    Biden now leading by 5,175,728 votes…

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And now: 78,142,149 (50.9%) to 72,770,551 (47.4%)

    Biden wins by 5,371,598

    Also Biden wins by 290 Electoral Votes to the loser’s 232.

    And still that worthless corrupt incompetent POS can’t admit he lost.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      As is being pointed out loudly, this is exactly what the same people refusing to acknowledge this election called a “landslide” victory in 2016. (But then shameless hypocrisy seems characteristic of the R-party these days.)

  • Anonymole

    Two thoughts in my own attempt to reconcile the insanity of 72M Americans:

    1) The IBI* was not, is not and will never be a politician. (Oddly enough, the man lies more than any politician in history. But as a genre, he does not fit the model.)

    2) “Socialism” is evil, or so many people think.

    I’ve been reading about how terrified conservatives are about shifting to a socialistic form of government. I think this single factor is why those folks buried their morals and conscience and voted for the Idiot in Chief.

    As I’ve recently noted, we already live in socialism… Just not enough of it (yet). What the delusional folks who voted for the IBI need to realize is this reality. They seem to think that they are independent, free, self-made people who demand autonomy and little interference from government. What most of then should learn is that we are all wards of the state, and rightly and successfully so.

    If more folks realized that were it not for our vast and pervasive government, we’d be living in a 4th world nation with no amenities, no security, no opportunity, and no freedoms — shackled to day to day survival.

    * IBI: Incoherent Bloviating Imbecile

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “The IBI* was not, is not and will never be a politician.”

      No, and that’s the single aspect of his approach that even «I» like. It’s ironic that the “Conservatives” ran such a wild candidate these past two years while the “Progressives” have run such utterly standard stodgy models those years. (I wish we would copy that one page from his book and then burn the book.)

      I’m not a big fan of AOC, but I think she’s right the Democrats don’t get it. Losing in 2016 should have been a serious wake-up call, but a lot of people on the left are still snoozing. They need to find a balance between the far left and business as usual. (But that’s a whole other discussion.)

      “‘Socialism’ is evil, or so many people think.”

      It’s definitely been turned into a demonic idea, a political McGuffin. The very wealthy see it as a threat — true egalitarianism invariably means those on top get pulled down while the far larger masses get pulled up. So anything that tends to level the playing field threatens those on the high ground of that field.

      “I think this single factor is why those folks buried their morals and conscience and voted for the Idiot in Chief.”

      I think it’s important to realize that it’s less burying their morals than following morals very different from ours (and from much of our cultural normative past). From their perspective, they’re acting reasonably. That’s what I find so hard to wrap my head around — their worldview.

      A good example is someone radically opposed to abortion. Groupthink and brain-washing aside, it’s possible to see it as killing human life — something we often, in other circumstances, go to great lengths to prevent (think about the mobilization of emergency services and news media any time Timmy’s ass is down some well because Timmy was a damn fool — the world briefly comes to a stop (remember “Balloon Boy”?)).

      Given a certain worldview, their actions make sense. The problem I see is how they get and maintain that worldview.

      I just read an article this morning about a study showing that, when evaluating something, Conservatives tend to value personal stories as much as scientific evidence. Progressives tend to place more value on the scientific evidence. That tendency, if genuine, explains a lot.

      I’ve also read articles correlating an innate sense of disgust with Conservative thinking. (See: The Penis Election) It seems related to a more general tendency among humans: Openness to experience. Progressives, naturally, are more open to new things, but not everyone shares that excitement. (See also: Predictive Art, which I found really interesting.)

      I never got back to your earlier comment about people being irrational. (I switched my laptop from the 5 gHz wifi to the 2.4 gHz, and now it’s holding the connection. Using the 5 gHz had gotten so bad that almost any use of the network kicked me off the network.)

      On some level, we’re all irrational, but clearly some folks have more trouble with logic and fact than others. If they see personal accounts as equally compelling as hard facts, that irrationality makes some sense.

      As a Star Trek fan back in the day, I wanted to sit down with Spock and explain that humans actually are logical once one understands their axioms and worldview. Unless one is literally insane, given one’s view of reality, one’s actions usually make sense. The problem is the axioms and worldview — once those get corrupted, all bets are off.

      “What most of then should learn is that we are all wards of the state, and rightly and successfully so.”

      One of my oldest presumptions is that a decent education is a huge step in the right direction. I cannot understand why we don’t take education more seriously.

      I suspect one reason people don’t take science more seriously is they don’t understand it. We no longer teach fundamental STEM skills because so many find them “boring” and don’t see the point. The point, of course, is giving one a foundation with which to more clearly see the world.

      As you said in the earlier comment:

      “The issue is not that most folks will fail to agree with your stated values, it’s that we expect them to do so in the first place.”

      Yeah, exactly. It’s even a problem within progressive thought. The whole notion of the Far Left and the Far Right is problematic. This polarization is destroying us.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      As a possibly related aside, I made a note the other day (which might grow into a post) about how many people in YouTube comments of science videos advertise their ignorance.

      A lot of the channels I follow on YT are science-related, and a lot of comments seem to fall into one of two similar buckets: [1] something along the lines of “Cool! But I didn’t get it!!” or [2] just saying they don’t get it.

      None of them ever mention actually doing anything about their ignorance (other than wallow in it, I guess).

      On the one hand (OTOH), the world has become hugely technological and fully understanding it is beyond anyone.

      But, on the other hand (confusingly, also OTOH), not being able to understand all of it doesn’t mean one can’t understand some of it. To me the shame is in that utter willful ignorance. I knew someone who maintained a “maybe yes; maybe no” attitude about climate change because she couldn’t understand the science. But anyone can understand the basics enough to read a few charts. (Or, you know, just pay attention to what’s actually happening around the world with ice and snow packs not to mention growing seasons and annual weather patterns.)

      Somehow we’ve become a nation of willful ignoramuses who’ll believe anyone with a good story. (No, make that with a story they like.) Part of our problem is a fantasy culture — one based on lies and illusions, smoke and mirrors. Consider that our most successful entertainment franchises are built on toys, children’s fairy tales, amusement park rides, and comic book heroes. We’ve all gotten a bit too lost in navel-gazing and opium dreams.

      And too damn infantile.

  • Anonymole

    We are divided, yes, but rightly so. I have generally taught myself to elevate my observations of behavior (people’s and animals alike) with regards to judging them on a homogeneous playing field (we cannot).

    The standard IQ distribution curve is my “Scales of Justice” or perhaps more like the weighing of a soul in Egyptian mythology. In this case, however, IQ is not something you can mold. You are stamped at birth.

    Half of humanity has an IQ less than 100. Period.

    Much of our failing to understand our division, I believe, is ignoring this highly influential factor in human capability. 1/3 of the human race has an IQ less than 92 — functionally mentally disabled.

    This, I’m finding, is compounded by the brain’s built in methods of attachment through chemical manipulation (body produced or externally sourced). Case in point, the religious right can become addicted to religion. This guy has a recent article on a study on this: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-in-the-machine/202009/your-brain-god

    Such a divide, as we’ve been seeing, is not reconcilable. These folks will never see the world through enlightened eyes. It’s not their fault, they are simply incapable.

    But, I suspect these are only about 1/2 of the 72 million delusional folks who voted for the IBI.

    The other half, yes I agree, they must be making choices based on all the reasons you and others have outlined above.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I quite agree people need to be judged on their own merits, just like stories (which, in some sense, is what a person is: all their stories). I don’t apply the same yardstick to “blockbuster” action thrillers that I do insightful drama.

      “Half of humanity has an IQ less than 100.”

      I quite agree with that, too, and it has always been true. What I think has changed is that, until the internet, it wasn’t so catastrophic and socially effective. One consequence of the internet is giving, what we used to call, “the lunatic fringe” both voice and power.

      There is also that this is a more technological world, which tends to leave those people behind which is a problem because they are human — literally, as you say, half of us.

      One of my favorite quotes on this is due to Carl Sagan and dates back to 1995 (this shit ain’t new by any stretch — but it packs more wallop these days):

      “We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

      Another one I really like is from when Leon Wieseltier was on The Colbert Report:

      A democratic society, an open society, places an extraordinary intellectual responsibility on ordinary men and women, because we are governed by what we think, we are governed by our opinions. So the content of our opinions, and the quality of our opinions, and the quality of the formation of our opinions, basically determines the character of our society.

      Despite the Gaussian distribution of intelligence, we used to be better at it than we are now. We used to be able to move forward; now we seem to have stalled.

      Charlie Pierce, back in 2009, wrote Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. A key thesis in the book is that we used to have more sense about sifting the reasonably sane from the entirely idiotic. As a culture we both enjoyed, and gained something, from the various nutballs and fruitcakes that arise, but we were better at recognizing them for what they are. Mighty oaks from acorns grow — sometimes those nutballs came up with a useful idea.

      But somehow it grew to be too much for us, and we turned away. Back in the early 1900s, newspapers published details about Einstein’s Theory of SR because they knew readers would be both interested and capable of absorbing some of it. Remember all those educational channels, Discovery, TLC, NatGeo, and others? They’ve all sunk to the depths of Reality TV. Or shows like: “Did Aliens Help Build the Pyramids?!”

      I’ve been railing against what I call the “Death of a Liberal Arts Education” for over 40 years.

      It’s not (just) that people are stupid. We’ve always been stupid. It’s that we’ve gotten lost in our fantasies and turned our back on the empirical world because it’s too challenging.

      As you say, this isn’t something about people we can change. We can only change society (maybe; with luck and effort).

      It took me a good fraction of my life to understand intelligence is, indeed, native to the individual. I spent that first larger fraction thinking other people just weren’t trying. (If tests mean anything, I’m way up the IQ curve, so most people fell into the category of seeming to not try.) For much of my life, I viewed intelligence like physical fitness — something one could work for (it sure felt like work to me).

      The epiphany, some years ago now, was that intelligence is more akin to height. (And I’m really fucking tall, and it turns out to be a blessing in some ways and a curse in others. I totally get Rick Sanchez, and I really identified with Dr. Greg House on so many levels.)

      “Case in point, the religious right can become addicted to religion.”

      It’s been my observation that many on both sides are prone to that same underlying mechanism. In the absence of an actual God, people worship a variety of god-like things. I see the same blind faith in, for instance, some people with regard to comics or the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics. We are wired to believe things.

      The trick, I think, is constant self-questioning and re-evaluation relative to known facts. Very few people, once they decide they believe in something, really ever question it again. Instead, they tend to build mental constructs perpetuating that belief. Those constructs can become unassailable.

      (In my favorite Kevin Smith movie, Dogma, the 13th Disciple (Chris Rock) has a great speech about the difference between ideas and beliefs and how the trouble starts with the latter.)

      “Such a divide, as we’ve been seeing, is not reconcilable.”

      Absolutely. A manager I worked for once (one of my favorites) had the perfect word: She said some people are just “limited.”

      The vexing question is what do we do about it? How do we deal with the shorties?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      There is also that, ultimately, morality boils down to: “Don’t be an asshole!” I care more about that than I do intelligence. I’m more about people’s choices than their capabilities (which is not to say I ignore capabilities; far from it, I revere competence).

      As we’ve said, intelligence is native, but being an asshole is a choice. Ignorance is curable, but being an asshole is harder to fix. As they say, “Beauty is skin deep, but being an asshole goes to the bone.”

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