Our High-IQ Aristocracy

From Scott’s blog TALENTS PART 2: ATTITUDE VS. ALTITUDE

Likewise, if we can just apply the same common reasoning we use for normal everyday activities like basketball to the question of intelligence, we might find it’s not so complicated and scary after all.

Here’s why the basketball example doesn’t give peace of mind to those cognitively self-conscious, nor placates fears of a high-IQ aristocracy. Physical skills, such as running and jumping, are becoming less valuable/pertinent in the competitive-post 2008 economy that seems to increasingly reward intelligence and cleverness, as explained in Liberal Denial of Genetic Determinism

It’s not taboo to profess that genetics play a role in the variance of athletic ability but not intelligence, probably because the later is superseding the former in terms of important things like employment, income, reverence, etc. There are increasingly few jobs where physical ability plays a role in the hiring process, and the jobs that do typically don’t pay well. In the smartist era, people are looking up to scientists and other intellectual professions more than athletes or actors.

Second, we tend to compare ourselves to people/groups that are similar to us. A person who is cerebral may aspire to understand the world like a famous physicist or to write like a famous author, and thus genius becomes the benchmark of personal self-worth.

Politeness and social skills, while possibly important during The Great Gatsby era, in the post-2008 economy takes a backseat to wealth, merit, IQ, and authenticity. In the hyper-meritocracy that is characteristic of our New Era, we will tolerate assholes if they have the talent to backup their bravado – and they often do. And from the rise of Friedman-esque neo liberalism to Dawkins neo atheism, a know-it-all aloofness seems to have permeated the American cultural psyche and intellectual discourse.

Another commenter writes,

On the other hand, intellectual activities are both socially and physically crippling as far as the majority of society is concerned,

This may may have been true as recently as 20 years ago, but not anymore. Both in terms of earning power and social status, intellectualism is more valued than ever, and you see evidence of this in pop culture with the huge success of The Big Bang Theory and the post-2008 rise of nerd culture, in general. On Reddit, AMAs by prominent scientists, for example, get as many comments and up-votes as AMAs by A-list celebrities. Union membership has been in decline for decades. In the past year, with oil plunging from $90 to $45, you have the energy and commodity sectors, both of which employ a lot of blue collar workers, undergoing large job cuts. The housing construction market never recovered from its 2006 peak; again, a lot of blue collar jobs lost there. Meanwhile, STEM is coasting alone just fine. Every week we hear about some company going IPO and doubling, some app start-up being valued at some mindbogglingly huge number, or about home prices in ‘nerd-centric’ cities, such as Palo Alto, Seattle and Washington DC, making new highs month after month as the the rest of the country treads water. It’s as if we’re in a Revenge of The Nerds in overdrive.

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