It speaks for itself.
The fact that I’m a chronic delayer has nothing to do with the above title. I’m hardly a genius and I know that. Although, admittedly I saw a glint of myself in the statement. To hesitate, when discussing, thinking about or planning something that has many parts moving or otherwise is in a way the sign of pre-genious. Not all people are so deliberate and not everyone who isn’t is deficient. Conversely deliberation is not the sole sign of a sharp mind.
This whole line of thinking started when I started listening to 7 Brief Lessons on Physics this morning on my way in to work.
Now I’ve smoked some pot in my life, that isn’t either unusual nor is it news. Under some unique circumstances where a lot was consumed I’d bordered on paranoia, reaching out as the thoughts I tried so hard to corral slipped out of the gate with me standing in the corner unable to stop their escape. On some other occasions where I consumed a smaller but still substantial amount, the thoughts lined up in neat rows of disparate complexions, the need to arrange the thought cows by breed or by color erased by the ability to see what else they had in common. Yeah, thought cows.
I recall these times in this context because the need to guide every thought that usually rules my daily life was unchecked by THC. I didn’t think that every thought was genius but some seemed pretty great and on those occasions I would have been nice to allow my untethered brain to run free but circumstances didn’t allow that. I’m sure most of what I was coming up with was shit and I had no illusions that it was all “good stuff” even in that state I knew enough to judge my thoughts for what they were and to try to hold on enough to them so that in the cold sober light of day I might logically disseminate the gems from the coal.
Still, after the burst of random creativity there is always doubt.
Einstein-Bohr as a model.
In matters of importance, whatever the realm might be, to think you have the answer yet be still critical of not only the conclusion but the question itself is key to growth. Arguable theoretical questions at whatever level, be it what team is best or what is the nature of reality, benefit from the willingness of the person trying to answer them having the ability to self correct, self check and yes, self-doubt. The book presents the Einstein-Bohr debates as proof of that and the necessity of malleability of thought that doubt engenders. Now I’m not even going to begin to pretend that I understand what they are arguing, I know it has something to do with at least in part the existence, nonexistence or semi existence of electrons, that’s about all I know.
What the exchange does show is that having a sliver of doubt, not being so absolutely sure of your assertions, especially if they have implications beyond you and your field is at the very least as aside to genius. Deliberation in your conclusions and the willingness to be wrong is hardly weakness.
I have never trusted anyone who has all the answers, or who says that they can fix all the problems. It’s really too bad that a significant number of people in this country don’t feel the same way.
I’ve done it, I’ve quoted myself, I guess I’m done now.
I was listening to the Radiolab podcast the other day on a longer than usual commute and this came on. It was another one of those examples of a historical figure far too gray to describe in a paragraph, but still, somehow not important enough to try.
I beg to differ, Haber, one of the most important people IMO in the history of the modern world not only gave us the basis for industrial fertilizer production and therefore is one of the fathers of the whole mass farming process, but also gave us the means to mass exterminate millions. The former arguably being one of the best inventions, and the latter being, somewhat accidentally, one of the worst.
His story is one of those I love to read about, one that we need to tell more of.
Stories of people whose inventiveness, ego and social ineptitude made him one of the most important, and dangerous people who’ve ever lived. It is also the story of someone how let his ego get the better of him and that ego cost his people greatly. It’s a twisted cautionary tale of someone who did one of the very best things ever, and unwittingly assisted in, or committed a few of the worst atrocities ever.
Some times there is no black and white and good things don’t always come from good people.
Its ironic that people like Jordan Peterson, Mike Cernovich, Ben Shapiro and even Alex Jones have allied themselves with a philosophical tactic they often rail against. Peterson especially name checks postmodernist thinking in his critique of gender identity and gender politics, yet the very fact that he can pepper his statements with the very dishonesty and untruth that he accuses the philosophy of bringing to the table is just logic-defyingly stupid.
Every single one of the folks listed above have said things that have a sliver of truth. Peterson’s assertion that we should be radical in our self-assessments and his claim that self-actualization often comes at a very high price are both truisms that very few people would argue with. Cernovich, in the past, quite accurately has spoken about manhood being tested and twisted by the expectations of women, hardly an original thought, but at least its accurate and debate worthy in a genuine way. Shapiro too has made some salient points about personal responsibility and having some moral foundation for your ideology. Hell, even Jones in his less crazy less tongue up Trumps ass years made allusions to real issues with the government’s unnecessarily secretive side.
Now I’m not sure if it is the allure of fame, the draw of infamy or some other ego driven magnetism that has pulled all of the above in to the crazy-town station, but with each one of them there are distinct patterns of ascending levels of insanity as their notoriety grew.
Citing the Dunning-Kruger effect is all the rage by well-meaning folks on the center and left. It speaks to the large majority of voters who, despite numerous silos full of evidence, feel that they know better in matters of government and science especially. It’s been used effectively by activists predominantly on the so-called right but also the so-called left. “So called” being used the way Malcolm X used the term. He’d often cite the “So called Negro” as a way to quickly deconstruct the language of the oppressor. In my mind the right and the left are used by moneyed elites to muddy the waters and call into the code word lexicon a form of identity politics they use to keep the focus off the wealthy. But I digress…
Dunning-Kruger is a great party trick for dismissing the economic reality and manipulation of the white working class by some people who in using it, display its qualities. I’ve gotten into the boneheaded ways the left loves to play the holier than thou game and I’m sure I’ll go there again. It is a real phenomenon but shouldn’t be used as a cudgel to dismiss a whole group of people. Ironically combining this and post-modernistic reality modes to manipulate people are what these Guys do best.
Everything is a lie, the media is evil, they are lying to you. Don’t believe what you hear, feel and see, only believe me.
I hesitate to say that each one started out really wanting to help enlighten us menfolk but that’s the narrative anyway. I do believe that of all the above Peterson is probably the likely one to have altruistic motives, at least in the beginning. Jones has always been a bit nutty and Cerno a bit sleazy, Shapiro I think is just a smarter than average boy child who got his conservative Orthodox faith confused with real morals. But at some point, each one saw the allure of the spotlight and followed it like a moth down the nut-ball tunnel.
I really do think that, at least in this case. our way of life may be brought down by foibles smaller than hatred or nationalism. Honestly I believe that as long as there have been humans in human civilizations there have been and will be smaller, more human things that take down nations, things we call Nazism, or nationalism, or Fascism but are really greed, envy, lust, anger you get it.
I don’t think anyone not blinded by the allure of fame whatever form that takes, adulation or recognition, especially those who regardless of what a perspective on reality would give feels like they got the shitty end of an otherwise clean stick, is subject to the self trickery that enslaves them. Anyone with a brain sees that we are heading toward a dangerous future for our democracy, a future that makes it harder to think about the repercussions of daily actions.
Postmodernist ideas of the flexibility of perspective and the dissection of humans into identities are, I think, dangerous if they don’t include the starting point from which we all begin. When there are too many sub divisions of us into this and that, the nationhood that brings us together disappears and becomes a series of roaming nation states. Bisexual, transgendered, white, christian, Black, Jewish, American are all aspects of who we are NOT the limits of that identity. The same goes for political labels although those can be more easily affected, Candice Owens’ and Dave Rubin’s sudden disaffection for the left and all its better philosophical parts betrays something else at work. In their cases I believe it’s purely money, but I won’t fully presume.
It always seems that there is more defection from left to right, usually followed by some sort of steady income. Miller, Horowitz, Owens…all scored some duckets by flipping off the left and demonizing all lefties as dumb, misinformed bullies. Fame is an amazing aphrodisiac it lulls you in and cradles you and insulates you, it seems much easier to be stuck in an echo chamber at either end of the income spectrum. I know at some point all of these people have to look at themselves in the mirror and realize the damage they have done, none of these people (save Owens, or Rubin who really seem not to have a clue as the exchanges below the end of this post prove) are so painfully self-unaware as to not see what they have contributed to the polarization and collaginization of this country.
Whether its money, fame, ego or whatever, the bill will eventually come due. And boy will that tab be heavy, very heavy indeed.