Nassim Taleb could very well be the foremost risk statistician/probability philosopher of our age.
The best selling author of the Black Swan, Nassim now explains a factor which is degrading the political performance of the bureaucratic Left (and the Right) and opening doors for new political movements – the rising phenomenon of the “Intellectual Yet Idiot” class.
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligenzia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them.
Hence we get a self replicating, self reinforcing, self congratulatory class of political bureaucrats, activists,wannabes and hangers-on’s who have become increasingly disconnected from ordinary people in the rest of society.
No wonder people far away from the wealthy ruling class-centric “Thorndon Bubbles”/”Beltways” of the world often continue to take their own advice contrary to the noise of the self-proclaimed experts, especially given the poor track record of these “intellectual yet idiots”:
With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
That’s a big thumbs up for the value of traditional, cultural and familial knowledge, in my books. It is a call to attention as to how the expert technocratic classes have failed to deliver on their promises to the wider society over, and over, and over again.
Taleb continues and has more to say about the social characteristics of the “IYI” class (from a US perspective of course):
More socially, the IYI subscribes to The New Yorker. He never curses on twitter. He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver. Those in the U.K. have been taken for a ride by Tony Blair. The modern IYI has attended more than one TEDx talks in person or watched more than two TED talks on Youtube. Not only will he vote for Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison because she seems electable and some other such circular reasoning, but holds that anyone who doesn’t do so is mentally ill.
And so comes the discussion relevant to the current Clinton/Trump race for the Oval Office:
The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences.
Once you look out for this languaging and this attitude you will find it everywhere on both the Left wing and the Right wing of politics. The most recent example being Hillary Clinton denigrating tens of millions of Americans as “irredeemable” and “deplorable” – while the activist liberal left cheered on with moral self-righteousness.
Yes the specific terminology and the politics between how the Left wing IYI and the Right wing IYI proceeds along this same avenue differs – but the pervasive sense of self entitled, assumed superiority is common to both sides and unmistakable.