It seems like everyone is discussing economics these days. I remember, as recently just a decade ago, it was mostly economists and finance guys who discussed economics, but now it’s pretty much every 20-something who is an armchair economist. Economics has become so pervasive in our everyday lives – from employment, to automation, to basic income, and student loans. I guess a couple decades ago, when backdrop of a perpetually weak labor market wasn’t present, young people had little reason to take a keen interest in economics, nor was the information readily available unlike today where you can get the equivalent of a Masters in economics just from reading Wikipedia and various economics discussions on sites like Reddit and 4chan. Third, because everyone is getting smarter than ever, and IQ is becoming more important too, topics such as economics and physics are perhaps more intellectually stimulating than, say, sports or entertainment.
As more evidence that we’re in a smartist era of IQ being more important than ever and the celebritization of STEM, Reddit users are ebullient over a Science Verified User Program, allowing smart Reddit users to showoff their qualifications by adding a special science ‘flare’ next to their username. A STEM degree is useful not for the knowledge per say (which can all be found online) but because it signals competence, thus boosting your social standing, especially in our competitive, winner-take-all post-2008 world. A child development degree, on the other hand, has an opposite effect, branding you an idiot and a loser who couldn’t cut it in a hard field, and any student loan debt you have you deserve for your laziness, your lack of introspection, and being a sub-optimal human being. In our era of stocks going up all the time, the web 2.0/Silicon Valley boom, American exceptionalism, and forever low interest rates – high-IQ is the ticket to success, both financially and socially.
Maybe Ayn Rand was the ‘first’ millennial, as the competent individual vs. the incompetent collective – themes which play heavily in her books – are being adopted especially by the millennials generation who like Rand, through taking selfies, eschewing the collectiveness and unfalsifiability of religion, and by celebrating science, ‘hustle’ and wealth, are unwittingly following Objectivism. Taking Selfies and posting them online, for example, is an expression of individualism, as are posting ‘inspirational’ quotes on Instagram about ‘hustle’ being more important than friendship. Similarly, Rand herself wasn’t known to be the most gregarious or amiable person, was an avowed atheist, and her books extol the virtues of the pursuit of wealth, with the protagonists of her books having the traits millennials view as the most important in a person: being some combination of smart, individualistic, important, rich, and enterprising. Being nice, agreeable, or altruistic aren’t it.
. “Emotions are not tools of cognition.” Rand also rejected all forms of faith or mysticism, terms that she used synonymously. She defined faith as “the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and reason… Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as ‘instinct,’ ‘intuition,’ ‘revelation,’ or any form of ‘just knowing.’” Reliance on revelation is like reliance on a Ouija board; it bypasses the need to show how it connects its results to reality. Faith, for Rand, is not a “short-cut” to knowledge, but a “short-circuit” destroying it.
This would seem to describe the thought process of millennials who, more so than any other generation, tend to defer to logic and empirical evidence and not faith, and you see evidence of this on Reddit and pop culture, where science is celebrated and religion is irrelevant. It’s not that millennials hate religion (as some on the right mistakenly assume); it just doesn’t agree with reality so millennials see no use for it. Religion is predicated on the idea that individuals can be ‘changed’ though faith in some scriptures/deity/whatever; however, millennials, being that they tend to be more educated and smarter by virtue of the Flynn Effect and other possible factors, tend to believe in biological-based explanations (genes for low IQ and poor impulse control) for societal problems (crime, poverty, and poor academic performance among some groups of people), which is the opposite of the themes of malleability and redemption found in religion. Perhaps some people are born to be economically disadvantaged and it may be a waste of resources to try to help them. Similar to their rejection of religion, many millenials, especially the smarter ones, like Rand, reject the self-esteem movement, believing that the value of individual is through merit that can be objectively and quantifiably measured – that individuals have no intrinsic value besides IQ. In the post-2008 era, millennials, and society in general, revere people such as Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who better known for being wealthy, competent and smart than being ‘people pleasers’ , which agrees with Rand’s philosophy of individualism and results being more important than ‘sucking up’ to a higher ambiguous moral power, whether it be a government, family, a faceless business, or a church.