Friday 30 November 2012

Who is NOT over-promoted, in the over-promoted society


Continuing from


In a world of declining general intelligence, not everybody is over-promoted with respect to intelligence.

Some people have the level of intelligence which would have been commensurate with their position in society about a hundred years ago.

Who are these people?


They are those of very high intelligence (by modern standards) but low conscientiousness and agreeableness (low empathizing).

In other words, they are intelligent people with awkward personalities that mean on the one hand they do not get promoted (because they have awkward personalities); while on the other hand they do not want promotion (because they know enough to recognize that that they are not capable of functioning properly at a higher level than they already are at. Not that others could do better - they cannot - but that they themselves could not do the job properly.).

Such not-over-promoted people actually understand what they are doing at the level at which they are doing it; and can provide a critique of what has happened and what has gone wrong.


I don't want to be too specific - but the handful of people I know who are potential geniuses (or unrecognized geniuses) are all functioning at lower levels than would have been commensurate with their abilities 100 years ago. (This is, I think, due to the trend for requring ever higher levels of docility, obedience and friendliness/ non-abrasiveness from employees of bureaucracies).

And I know of many more people of very high intelligence who are at the level where they would have been 100 years ago - but (becuase of the general delcine in g) are consequently of one-standard-deviation-plus higher in intelligence than their modern co-workers at the same level.

Also, I know of quite a few people of very high intelligence who are pretty much unemployable in modern conditions - however, perhaps that was always the case, perhaps there always were such people.


How to simplify over-complex systems (in an over-promoted society)


[Following from ]

In the long run, institutions cannot be more complex than the understanding of their leaders; thus, because the intelligence of leaders has declined, institutional complexity must reduce.

But the complexity must be reduced by great individual (specific human) reformers building-up complexity from core principles which they can understand

- and not therefore by condensation of the complexity into simplified general schemata (however this condensation might be attempted, by whatever means - currently usually statistical).

Building-up is the only thing that works because it preserves core functionality.


A positive example of what must happen was the method by which the complexity of Christianity was reduced by The Reformation, while preserving 'functionality' (salvation).

Since the Christian tradition had become so corrupt in the West, the religion was simplified to scriptural principles (by the inspired work of individual geniuses) and re-built from that base.


But the many recent institutional simplifications I have experienced professionally in education and health services have been damaging failures, precisely because they fail to preserve core functionality.

(e.g. Health service 'reforms' which severely damage the doctor-patient relationship and impose government objectives; teaching 'reforms' which reduced the amount of teaching and increase class sizes; college admission 'reforms' which impose inverse discrimination; research 'reforms' like peer review and research evaluation systems, which punish truth-seeking and truth-speaking.)

The failure to preserve core functionality is denied and lied about, and core function is redefined and redefined ('mission statements'); but the destruction is real, of course.  


The pyramid of technology, and of intellectual functions

[Following on from ]

There seems to be a pyramid of technology which corresponds to a pyramid of intellectual functions in large complex modern societies.

The peak of the pyramid is the high level of general intelligence (g) needed to make qualitative improvements in social functioning: breakthroughs.

This is the pyramid:

Breakthrough (qualitative)
Improvement (incremental)

What I am talking-about are those key factors which could be termed 'technology' in the broadest sense:

these would include forms of social organization (government, religion), food production - including agriculture, warfare and defence, and so on.

Whatever are the key functions upon which society depends.

The pyramid is most obvious for those complex technologies which led to the emergence of modern societies (the technologies of the linked agricultural and industrial revolutions) and upon which modern societies depend.

Modernity arose due to frequent breakthroughs and improvements - these breakthroughs in 'technology' enabling production to outgrow population growth for many generations.

But underneath it all was the breakthroughs.

So the breakthrough is the invention of something qualitatively new - some piece of machinery, some concept, a form of organization... This (as a rule) requires genius - a combination of very high intelligence and creativity.

This breakthrough is then incrementally improved - this does not require such high intelligence, nor does it require creativity - but can be done by 'trial and error'.

Sooner or later the entity (the piece of technology, the social institution) will wear-out, get broken or dissipate entropically, and need to be replaced - this may require workshops, factories, systems of apprenticeship, colleges - these need to be generated and made to work.

And, as it is being used or operating, from time to time the entity needs to be repaired. This is easier than replacing it, and the repair process may be broken down into specific checks and tasks.

But simply operating the entity, working the technology or working-in an institution, requires less capability than repair.

Nonetheless, there are people who cannot operate; they lack the requisite ability - they are sub-functional with respect to that specific 'technology' (although they may be functional for other technologies).

So, if we think of a gun; there was the breakthrough of the concept of a gun, what it could do and how; there was the incremental (trial and error) improvement of this basic breakthrough until there were functional guns - and the continued incremental improvement (and specialization) of these guns.

Then there is the matter of manufacturing and replacing guns; then below that there is the function of maintaining a gun (regular cleaning, oiling etc).

Then below that there is the function of shooting guns (so the hit the target, and so they do not kill the operator).

Below that again are sub-functional people - e.g. who cannot shoot the guns accurately, or who shoot them on impulse or for a joke; and these people are a liability because they may shoot themselves of the people on their side. Indeed, they are 'more trouble than they are worth' because they require such a high degree of supervision in order to prevent them inflicting damage.

If we think of an abstract field like science; there are the creative geniuses who make breakthroughs in theories or discoveries; and there are the non-creative intelligent people who may incrementally improve and refine these breakthroughs.

Then below that are the structures of education and apprenticeship which create the environment within which this can occur, and from which the higher level people may be generated - for example the people who work in (properly functioning) colleges and research institutions.

Below that are the people who use the products of science to make and do things (applied scientists, engineers, doctors, technologists);

and below that are the people who use what these makers and doers generate (e.g. skilled craftsmen);

and below that are the users;

and below them are people who cannot use science safely or appropriately - and must have it done for them, or not at all (e.g. children, and other people who lack the intellectual requisites).

This pyramid is also a hierarchy of general intelligence (g).

Intelligence is not the only important factor (personality - for instance - is very important) but intelligence is a vital and constraining factor in the above hierarchy.

If the required level of intelligence for the required function is not met - then the function will not be done.

So if we cannot repair and replace a piece of technology or a social institution (like medicine, or engineering); then when it breaks (due to wear and tear, or sabotage) it cannot be mended or re-made, and is lost.  

And as a society's average intelligence declines, as has happened in Western Europe, then it has a major impact on the above pyramid.

What happens initially is the over-promoted society; where the lack of intelligence means that people end-up at a level one (or two) categories too high for their cognitive abilities.

Those whose job is to make breakthroughs can now only make incremental improvements - they cannot do their core job. Therefore breakthroughs dry-up - and the whole basis of modern societies is lost.

But because breakthroughs are needed there there is a pretence of breakthroughs - and ideas that are just random variations and inversions and recombinations of what already exists (mere novelties)  are spun as breakthroughs.

Those whose role is to make incremental improvements are unable to function above the level of replacements and repair of already existing entities - so established things don't improve gradually as they used to.

They change but don't improve - therefore they get worse.

Perhaps this contributes to the fact that so many able people have given-up on trying to improve functionality, and lapsed into fashionability and careerism.

Those who are supposed to repair and maintain stuff cannot really understand how it works - so repair becomes reduced to maintenance, and the following of predecided procedures.

And the fact that so many people are over-promoted (for lack of anyone better) can lead to a deficiency of mere operatives - who may be inadequate either intellectually, or in terms of personality.

These are, in fact, sub-functional individuals who are being used for lack of anyone else.

And still there is a large and expanding 'underclass' of those unable or unwilling to perform any of the functions required by modern society.

All this is due to complexity.

If the technology is less complex, if the institutions are less complex, then people can perform at their proper level.

Except for breakthroughs which are necessary to modernity, but now very rare or absent - as those of the highest level of intelligence have all but disappeared.

So, what will happen is that things will get less complex - technology, society will simplify - because things cannot be sustained at the current level of complexity.

The over-promoted society: Bishops and other religious leaders


In an over-promoted society, where the majority of people can do their jobs but do not understand them

problems become obvious when there is change or crisis.


I shall use the Church of England as an example. There has been a substantial decline in the intelligence of people in Britain: what has been the effect on the church?

Well, the people running the church, the Bishops etc, used to be among the most intelligent members of society; and they were cognitively capable of understanding it, and of repairing it.

As intelligence declined (and as the church declined too, and became less able to attract the most intelligent) the people running the church could no longer repair it - but they could maintain it.

So long as nothing went wrong, so long as they didn't try to modify the church - things were fine.

So long as the leaders were humble enough to recognize that they their predecessors were superior in understanding, then matters went on without much of a problem. 


But the trouble with the over-promoted society is that it has a world view of progress, that things are getting better, and that therefore that frequent and radical change is necessary.

So, the leaders are incapable of positive change - because they don't know how to repair their institution, and are cognitively incapable of learning - are no longer humble, but consumed by their vision of progress.

They change things, and things very obviously begin to fall apart. They modify, they modernize the church...


If the modernized church was an aeroplane we could observe that it is grounded, unable to fly - yet, because it is a church not a piece of technology, the people who have wrecked are able to claim they have improved it.

The aeroplane may not be able to fly - but look! It can be used as a cafe and clubhouse!

And yet, claim the leaders, although it no longer flies it is still an aeroplane!


Intellectual decline continues, and the next generation of Bishops and church leaders comes along, and they are people who can neither repair nor even do routine maintenance...

So we get Bishops who are like untrained mechanics armed with monkey wrenches and let loose on some piece of intricate high-tech machinery.

The results are predictable - wreckage.


But in the over-promoted society with the religion of progress, the cause of the wreckage, the reason for the wreckage, is concealed from the wreckers.

The monkey wrench wielding incompetents blame the wreckage of the church either on the people who wanted to leave it as it was, on the basis that we moderns who cannot even repair it, very obviously lack the competence to rebuild it - these are the Prayer Book conservative and Anglo-Catholics; and/ or they blame the wreckage on those who want to simplify the church (leaving the core) to the point that we can understand, repair and maintain it (roughly-speaking, the conservative evangelicals).


But the wreckers are shielded by their incompetence: and this incompetence is due to inability.

The sexual liberation issues that have first divided then corrupted the CoE are really, really simple compared with the theological disputes of the past. They are no-brainers.

Using the standard evaluative methods of the church; the answers are very clear, very easy, unambiguous.

And yet the current Bishops cannot see this; cannot follow simple reasoning based on tradition and scripture (and the traditional interpretation of scripture).

The will not acknowledge their own intellectual incapacity, and - even worse - their own worldly corruption compared with the great Christians of the past whose work they are overthrowing, wrecking.


Incompetence is itself not an evil, and is anyway unavoidable in a declining society.

But when incompetence is denied it leads to pride which is the worst evil: that is the current situation.


The level of cognitive incompetence among church leaders is now so extreme as scarcely to be exaggerated.

This elite are able not to understand matters which used to be within the grasp of most of the population.


The Church of England leadership look at the doctrines of 2000 years of Christianity and they regard them with utter incomprehension.

They cannot imagine how any good and reasonable person could hold such ideas - they regard these ideas as monstrous.

They regard any modern person who holds these traditional Christian ideas as vile.


Since their own competence is, for the Bishops and other leaders, beyond question; the problem is those who challenge the results of their incompetence: those who point out that a church which used to fly is now merely a cafe and club; and even worse, a cafe and club with rapidly declining attendance.


But a church is about flying, not catering.

A church that can fly even two feet above the ground is still a church - but a church which is grounded and functions as something else is not a church: not at all, not even a little bit.


The vast majority of the Bishops and Christians leaders are not just mediocre Christians (we are all that) but not Christians at all, since they have redefined Christianity on non-Christian grounds; and their church organization is not a church at all, since it has discarded religious criteria.

At root this is a matter of sin, of apostasy; but the ground for this, and its swift and nearly-complete corruption, is a matter of over-promotion, of intellectual decline; as is the crisis of leadership in all domains throughout the West.

Once we recognize the fact of substantial intellectual decline, decline in general intelligence, then much becomes clear.


Bishops - it is apparent - do not understand the church, they do not understand the millennial sweep of Christianity - hence they cannot help but wreck it whenever they try to make any change and whatever their motivations might be.

As always, repentance must come first; they must repent their actions (and words, and thoughts) in recognition of their own reckless incompetence; and must pray for guidance.


The Christian Church in general does not depend on cognitive ability - but the Church of England, specifically, has done.

We must lean to do without it; and all the tools are there to enable this - we have scripture and we have tradition, thus we have the traditional understanding of scripture.

If only we are humble enough to be guided by it.  



The over-promoted society


I am now pretty much convinced that average and peak general intelligence (g) has been declining in the West for at least the past 200 years - and the rate of decline is at least half a standard deviation (circa 8 IQ points) per fifty years.

I have recently become aware of further evidence that the above is pretty much correct - but this is not yet published.


What this means is that we are living in an over-promoted society.

We have inherited social structures from earlier generations, with social roles dependent upon certain minimal cognitive capacities - but we lack sufficient people with the requisite cognitive capacity to fill these social functions, therefore although people can do their jobs and functions, they do not and cannot understand these functions.

Therefore when anything goes wrong or when any change is required, people will necessarily wreck what they have inherited.


It has been like giving a bunch of ten year old kids modern guns, tanks and aircraft - they can certainly shoot guns, many could drive tanks, and a few could fly aircraft - but they cannot maintain or repair the stuff - and certainly they cannot replace it.

They simply cannot do this - whether they wanted to or not (and mostly they can't be bothered, and would rather do other things anyway). 


Modern people are the same with their cultural inheritance. Not just technology but religion, science, the education system, politics, administration and management, literature, music, fine arts... you name it, we have wrecked it.

We wreck it because the majority of people who do these things cannot understand them; therefore necessarily cannot maintain, repair or replace them.


Compared with (say) 100 years ago - our premier intellectuals are like their school teachers, our school teachers are like their foremen, our skilled workers like their semi-skilled, our semi-skilled workers are like their peasants, and our unskilled workers are unable (and unwilling) to do anything useful at all.

(I mean they cannot do anything useful in the modern society which we have inherited - in other societies they might perform valuable work.)


And this continues.

There is no reasoning with these people - they cannot follow reason - they are over-promoted, they just cannot understand.


What is to be done?

Start again, simplify, build-up from the ground.

But that will happen anyway, willy nilly...


Note on the phrase 'willy nilly'. From Christopher Tolkien's glossary to Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale: Medieval English possessed special negative forms of some common verbs; see nys, nas, nere, noot [ nys from ne is, is not; nas from ne was, was not; nere from ne were, were it not; noot from ne woot, I do not know]... The phrase 'willy nilly' still contains one: 'will I, nill I' or whether I wish it or wish it not. 


Wednesday 21 November 2012

What can be done about the Genius famine?


I seem to have evolved such a distinctive view of the nature and effect of Creative Genius that I don't suppose anyone else holds any similar views...

And, in the end, I am ambivalent about Genius. Clearly Genius is such a powerful weapon that it can scarcely be trusted in the hands of a fallen Man.

Genius is thus more likely to lead to harm than good, for the same reason that any machine will usually do more harm than good.


But if the modern world has been necessarily based on the work of relatively few Geniuses - as I believe it has; and if Genius is disappearing fast - as I believe it is; then what would be a rational response of a pro-modernizer to the situation.

What is actually happening is not rational, because in fact the modern world has become (and is becoming more so) hostile to Genius; so that the relatively few who emerge are usually kept from having any chance of influence.

This happens passively by bureaucracy and actively by Leftism (pretty much all of the Leftist 'moral' priorities will have the net effect of making it harder, or impossible, for a Genius to get into any position of influence or be taken notice of).


So on the one hand there is a 'famine' of Genius - which afflicts the science, technology, the arts, politics, philosophy, law... pretty much everything with very few people of that sort within the fields

But on the other hand, there is near zero awareness of the rapid and (from a modernizing perspective) catastrophic decline in Genius.


Take classical music. There are essentially zero geniuses operating in composing Western classical music nowadays, although there used to be many; and this has been the situation for many decades; and indeed the kind of people who might potentially do work of genius are utterly absent from these social systems - yet nobody ever talks about this.

Or in academic scholarship. In the vastly bloated British university systems, not only is there essentially nobody doing work of Genius (I can think of just one); but there is probably nobody who would even be capable of having a shot at Genius-level work: the people are just the wrong kind of people altogether.

In the first place, they are not even trying to do the best work of which they are capable - so it is not going to happen,

In the second place they have the wrong personality type: conscientious, obedient, empathic, following of established rules...

In the third place they are of lesser intelligence compared with the past.


Nothing much can be done about the demographic decline in intelligence; and the process continues.

However, it would, in principle, seemingly be possible to compensate for this - for a while - by a better 'search process': a more effective way of unearthing more individuals from the declining pool of potential geniuses and giving them a better chance of coming through to a position where they might attain the best work of which they were capable - and then taking some notice of it.

Yet, to write that paragraph is to see that it will not happen, and also perhaps why it will not happen.

How could a society which is root and branch hostile to the kind of person who might (but probably wont) become a Genius, do anything of the sort?

And there is the paradox of organizing society to encourage the emergence of the disorganized and disorganizing and disruptive.


But if something of the sort was actually put into effect (and this might well be a plot for a science fiction novel, perhaps by Philip K Dick), then it could happen by means of a program of psychological profiling and testing rather like the process which already exists for discovering talent in musical performance.

That is, a multitude of individual coaches, teachers or Maestros who would take on promising youngsters for training; and a variety of competitions aimed at evaluating both achieved performance and (more important) potential.

The framework is that what is happening is that talent is being discovered then developed to a point where the talent can take-over its own development.


The apprentice would need to find, and trust, a Master.

The Master would need to want to find, and work with, the best apprentices. 

The Masters would be in control of the system.

Because only the Masters can see what is going on. 

But aside from that, there is no 'system'. No formal requirements. No standard progression. No accreditation of any significance.


Very individualistic, very elitist, very esoteric.

It sees talent and the potential for Genius as essentially innate.

If you haven't got it you can't do it; and if even you have, you probably won't.


The only place I think anything of this sort continues (at least until recently) in the scholarly world is mathematics in some countries - where there exists a system of competitions for sifting the general population, identifying then developing the small number of kids who show special mathematical talent.

If modern society was concerned with its own continuation - which very clearly it is not, instead being devoted to its own extinction - then something of this kind would need to occur to locate and empower sufficient numbers of Geniuses to maintain the frequent and relevant breakthroughs necessary to enable continued growth in efficiency and capability.

But instead we have public relations which convinces everybody who matters that everything is fine and getting better. 


Neglected genius?


The neglected genius, unrecognized during his lifetime is a standard concept in modern discourse. Yet good examples are exceedingly rare.

(Or unrecognized during her lifetime, since it has been a tenet of feminist theory that there were/ are numerous unrecognized female geniuses. However, I don't think that forty years of feminist - ahem - scholarship has come up with a single new example.)


Of course it takes a while, usually a matter of decades, for somebody to become really famous - but the genius who was essentially unknown and disregarded during their lifetime and only emerged after death is pretty rare considering the cultural currency.

In classical music, among the certainly first rate, there is probably only Schubert (the example comes from Karl Popper's autobiography).

In poetry, perhaps Emily Dickinson would count; probably William Blake (although well known for his art work).

But some of the supposed examples, such as Van Gogh or Mozart are simply untrue - Van Gogh was well known (and sold his work) and Mozart extremely famous during their lives - dying in insanity or poverty is not the same as being unknown; and of course when somebody dies young there has not been enough time for their reputation to be consolidated.


Reputations rise and fall, of course - and there is dishonest boosting and denigration - but in general geniuses are (or have been) known and recognized by their contemporaries - although not necessarily given pride of place.

Fashionable and powerful figures are always in evidence - e.g. Spohr in classical music seems to have been regarded as first rate in Victorian times while Mozart was neglected for a while (seen as a composer of pleasant trifles - rather as we might regard J.C. or C.P.E Bach).

But while trajectories are various, the specific notion of an obscure and neglected genius who lived a full lifespan in the wilderness and was only recognized by posterity is, in fact, a very rare bird.



Is the lack of modern geniuses because there are no big things left to discover?


One of the most frequent arguments about the lack of modern geniuses hinges around the assertion that it was easier for geniuses of the past to make a mark and influence history, because there were so many 'low hanging fruit' - major discoveries just hovering there waiting to be plucked.

But nowadays, so the story goes, the early, easy, major discoveries have already been made; what now remains to be discovered is both harder and more minor - so that a modern person of equal genius to a famous figure of the past appears to make a lesser contribution.


Such an argument seems to assume what is false - that the quantity of human geniuses is constant in all times and places and among all people.

Nonetheless, let us assume it is correct: what then?


The importance of genius in human history - and specifically in modern society - is that the major discoveries (the breakthoughs) are so great and so fundamental that they enable a new wave of 'growth' to be built upon them.

But if we have actually (as the above argument asserts) run out of major discoveries to make; then the growth which depends on major discoveries will come to an end.

And since modernity depends on growth - specifically growth in capability and efficiency of productivity - then modernity will halt, then reverse. 


So, the end of genius means the end of modernity; whether the cause is that we have run out of geniuses, or because we have run out of major things for geniuses to discover.

Either way, the consequences are the same.