Ridiculous Truths

Common sense will mark you as the enemy.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Look at the things that are commonly held to be Indisputable Truths by our so-called betters:

  • Our differences are our strength! Actually, differences divide us and tear us apart. Focusing on our similarities would actually be more beneficial. But say that, and you’re some kind of -ist.
  • Both sides are the same! Be in the center! Yet if both sides are the same, you not only absolve yourself of the responsibility of choosing a side, you likely just want to be perceived as being “above it all” without actually having to commit to anything. No skin in the game!
  • Debt is good for the economy! On what planet does this make sense? Oh, right. We don’t live on earth any more. We live in Clown World.
  • Win war through unilateral disarmament. Find me one time in the entirety of human history where this has actually worked and then I’ll change my stance.
  • Double standards are the only way to correct past wrongs! This is so destructive, the only logical assumption is that the people who agree with this sentiment aren’t stupid: They’re just blatant liars. Double standards are killing us.

The latest bout of public idiocy, and the thing that started this train of thought, is outrage at the Attorney General’s use of the term “Anglo-American heritage” when talking about the office of the sheriff.

The office of “sheriff” is not only Anglo idea, the term is an Anglo word (“shire” + “reeve” elided over the centuries to become “sheriff”). The office of sheriff was adopted in America thanks to the fact that America was a colony founded by individuals of primarily Anglo-Saxon descent. But hey, why let truth get in the way of a good diatribe? Racist!

Most of these ridiculous truths are, on their face, absurd and demonstrably false. But we are operating in this weird epoch where, in order to be thought of as “intelligent,” one must adopt idiotic positions.

This stems from a condition I like to call Intellectual Inadequacy. This phenomenon typically afflicts midwits!

Akin to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s IYI (intellectual yet idiot), midwits are people just smart enough to know they’re not average, but they know they’re not geniuses either. This bothers them.

There are plenty of us who aren’t geniuses (*raises hand*), but the true and committ r midwit lacks that crucial component that even many on the low-end of the intellect scale possesses–humility.

In other words, the midwit refuses to admit that he or she doesn’t know something. Continue reading “Ridiculous Truths”

The Comprehension Gap

The logo for the organization Reading Is Fundamental

I feel it is obligatory to write about the whole Google memo thing; it’s all everybody is talking about anyway, so why not chime in?

“Because enough is enough, Alex!”

Ah, but I think you’ll find my take to be slightly different than your average customers’.

(See what I did there? It’s called foreshadowing).

So the memo, what some are calling an “anti-diversity screed” and are characterizing as “arguing that women are not biologically fit for tech roles.”

Which begs the question: did these outlets even read the memo, or are they lying about it?

You see, I am not here to discuss the contents of the memo, or its now-fired author James Damore, or even discuss what this means to the future of the American workplace–if you want to read a good article about all that stuff, check out Lord Adeonistake on the whole controversy.

I’m not even here to talk about the media: I do not expect honesty from them, nor do I expect them to be particularly intelligent enough to grasp what the memo actually said, which can be boiled down thusly:

The gap in representation in STEM fields does not stem from sexism, but from the AVERAGE PREFERENCES women make when choosing an occupation, some of which are driven by biological differences between men and women, and Google’s strategy of using discrimination to promote women, and certain other groups in general, does more harm than good.

That’s it. The author wanted more women to be working in STEM fields generally, and at Google in particular–in fact, he sounds like a fan of diversity (this is where reading comprehension comes in: did people just skip that part, or ignore it?). The memo is not “anti-diversity”; it is more “anti-Google’s current diversity policies, which he claims are not producing the desired effect, and are in fact causing more harm than good.”

A picture of the outside of Google headquarters

That’s a bit more nuanced, right? It’s not as good for clickbait, though. And you’ll notice that I am neither attacking nor defending the contents of the memo . . . I’m just trying to set a baseline of understanding so we know what we are talking about. It’s like in a formal debate or an informal argument: both sides need to be sure that they are talking about the same thing. Remember when that used to be important?

And yet, people want him drawn and quartered. People are frothing-at-the-mouth mad. You may find the contents of the memo offensive or distasteful–and that’s fine–but I certainly hope you at least read and understood what it actually said.

More shocking, to me at least, is this:

So many people seem to lack both a basic understanding of statistics and of basic reading comprehension.

And many of these people went to college.

This is what disturbs me the most. Continue reading “The Comprehension Gap”