Society Needs its Weirdos and Nerds

From Mark Manson: The Surprising Benefits Of Being (Sightly) Crazy

Modern society is no different. We need stable, “boring” people to create the stable and boring industries we depend on every day, like the water and electric companies and the grocery store. And we need a lot of these people. They create the backbone of civilization.

But like our tribal ancestors, modern society needs wildcards and weirdos too. Humanity needs some source of innovation in order to take a gamble just as much as we need the stability that runs our everyday lives.

Society need its weirdo and nerds, who are the square pegs in a society engineered to accommodate round ones. Darwin argued that species survive because of variations that allow some members within a population to adapt to changes in environment. Similarly, variations of individual IQ allow humanity to adapt to changes, too. Of course, there is an optimal balance between to much intellectual diversity and none at all.

Jodan Peterson, even though he’s often lumped in with the ‘right’, acknowledges the value of artists in society:

Related: In Defense of Smart People

Maybe the psychopathic asshole CEO of your company is good at making business decisions precisely because he’s a psychopathic asshole. He only sees the numbers, not people. And strangely, you all benefit financially from his lack of empathy.

In our post-2008 result-orientated economy, social skills have become secondary to quantifiable merit and competence. As discussed in the post Introverts Rule the World, nerds and introverts, although they don’t seek attention and status, have become increasingly valued (economically, in terms of high wages and high net-worth) and respected (especially online, due to the rise of ‘expert culture’–sites such as Reddit, Quora, Stack Exchange, and Physics Exchange that bestow a lot of social status on high-IQ people, who are awarded reputation points for their competence). And also the post-2008 rise of ‘nerd culture‘.

On sites like Reddit, Elon Musk is highly respected, not because he is a people-pleaser, but because he embodies and epitomizes competence, authenticity, and skill. The same for any high-IQ person (it doesn’t have to be a multi-millionaire), whether it be a math professor, a philosopher, or a coder–because they are exemplars competence, objectivity, and reason in a world of low-information partisanship, demagoguery, sentimentalism, and media hype. They are the 21st-century ‘nobility’ and ‘priesthood’ that society turns to for answers to the most vexing of questions, such as wealth inequality, finance, biology, the origins and eventual fate of the universe, and so on.

From the post Wealth, Intellectualism, and Individualism, Part 7:

Nowadays everyone wants to be the ‘smartest person in the room’, not the most outgoing or popular. But ironically, in being smart, you become popular, whether you seek the attention or not.

Autistic-like traits such as social awkwardness, dismissiveness, curtness and bluntness (as opposed to sugarcoating, sentimentalism, and extroversion) convey authenticity and credibility, versus being a shallow ‘normie’ or ‘people-pleaser’, leading to a boost in social status both online and offline, whereas decades ago these smart people were ignored or relegated to the lower echelons of the social hierarchy.

In the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, the greatest job loss occurred in sectors and industries that weren’t producing enough economic value relative to their pay. The rise of the ‘gig economy‘ is symptomatic of the increasingly cutthroat nature of post-2008 society, where providing value, above all, is valued.

Also an interesting passage:

Maybe that autistic kid in your calc class will go on to produce major advances in quantum physics and win a Nobel prize one day. So stop stealing his lunch money, asshole.

This seems to be analogous to how the left, acting as bullies, want to deny smart people of their individual cognitive exceptionalism and steal their wealth through redistribution. Rather than elevating America’s best and brightest, the left wants to chop the exceptional down to the lowest common denominator.

I disagree with the part about CEOs though. Unless the CEO is the founder, the success of a company has more to to with the viability of the business model itself, than the CEO. If a business is doomed, the smartest thing a CEO can do is sell, to at least preserve some equity for investors.

He cites a study:

For instance, CEOs are more likely to exhibit psychopathic tendencies than non-CEOs. See: Brooks, N., & Fritzon, K. (2016). Psychopathic personality characteristics amongst high functioning populations. Crime Psychology Review, 2(1), 22–44.↵

But the article does not make a distinction between good and bad CEOs and psychopathy.