Monday, 3 December 2012

How to tell if someone is over-promoted

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How do you know if people are over-promoted? - in the sense that I have been describing in the posts over the past days; I mean by over-promoted that they lack the competence, specifically the general intelligence, to understand their job.

(Not that they are unable to do their job; but they they lack the requisite understanding to maintain, repair, and if necessary replace the complex entities of the modern world.)

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The simplest way is to see if people can understand what you are telling them.

How can you tell if they have understood?

By them correctly summarizing what you have said, but in different words.

(I mean really doing this - not just by reflecting-back what you have just said in a formulaic fashion, nor by 'hypnotizing' you into thinking they have done this. Of course, this also requires honesty on your part - you must be prepared to acknowledge that an accurate, if not perfect, summary has been provided.)

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So, if you never hear your own position correctly re-described; then you can never know that the other person has understood you.

And you must therefore assume, by default, that you are not being understood. 

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The usual reason for failing to provide such a re-description is incompetence - the other person has not understood you because they are cognitively incapable of understanding you.

Less often - or mixed in - are when people rhetorically re-describe your views using deliberate false descriptions (setting-up easily demolished straw men); or that a person is so in the grip of ideology, or involved in the heat of argument, that they lack patience, or there is insufficient time for communication, or that people want to coerce rather than persuade.

Or, they do understand but do not want to engage - perhaps because they recognize that if there was a rational argument they would lose it.

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I think it is normal to ascribe the failure and futility of modern discourse to the fact that one's opponent is evilly-motivated - and in the case of the mass media and leaders of major social institutions, this is could well be true.

Indeed, it is characteristic of the Left that they always regard opponents as evil, ignorant (of facts) or insane.

But (I am asserting here) more often than not, it is the incompetence of the over-promoted which underlies all of this - because people cannot understand opponents, then they can only assume that opposition is evil, ignorant or insane; and no matter how long you were to spend explaining and them patiently listening - it would be to no avail: they cannot understand because they cannot understand.

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All this is inevitable in a society significantly more complex than the cognitive capability of the people who have inherited it.

Over-promoted cognitive incompetence, by and of itself, is not the root of the problem - but if it is pridefully denied, and indeed not just denied but inverted such that incompetence is reinterpreted as superiority...

Well, then that is getting much closer to the root of the problem.

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10 comments:

FHL said...

"Over-promoted cognitive incompetence, by and of itself, is not the root of the problem - but if it is pridefully denied, and indeed not just denied but inverted such that incompetence is reinterpreted as superiority..."

How you fix this though? For example, suppose you do this thing, suppose you ask someone to restate your argument in their own words and they cannot manage to do it, how then do you inform them that you understand something they can't? Surely you cannot just say "You're too stupid to understand" and expect them to respond reasonably.

Is there anyway to tell them gently in a manner that they would accept?

Or do you just pray for them? Maybe pray that they either get the wisdom they need to understand from God or that God grants them the humility to accept that they cannot reasonably function in their assigned position?

I don't know.

This post has me feeling very insecure and uncertain, mostly because I see a lot of myself in your criticisms. I see times when I have commented on here and other places arguing against certain people and ideas on various topics and have looked back and thought: "Surely, it cannot have been that easy. I must have gotten something wrong..."

Oftentimes, looking back, I do find something wrong with my arguments. Ways I've misinterpreted those I've accused of errors, ways I've been too hasty or too confident, more concerned with making a bombastic argument than a reasonable one. And I think to write a correction, an apology, but by that point I find myself completely frozen in a hyper-insecure state in which I question everything I may have to say, thinking to myself: "Wow... I can't believe I didn't notice that... and if I missed that, well who knows what other things I may have missed!”

I really hope I am not one of those prideful people of whom you are talking about! If I ever am, please forgive me and pray for me! I don't mean to be!

FHL said...

And shoot, I need to add a correction and an apology:

Those last statements were not questions: so don't you dare try to comfort me by saying I'm not one of those people; you know that might encourage spiritual pride in me, and so you'll feel bad, and I know that you know that, so I'll feel bad, and we'll all end up feeling bad. No point in anyone feeling bad.

I just wanted to ask for forgiveness of any offenses I may have unknowingly made as well as for prayer if I am committing offensives, offered privately without my knowledge on your own time.

bgc said...

@FHL - your mistake here is to jump ahead to possible implications and effective actions when the fact is still a novelty and unassimilated! But, factually, I was NOT thinking of you.

FHL said...

Darn it man! I'm even wrong about when I'm wrong!

Thanks though. I didn't think you were referring to me, but I was thinking that I could easily be included into that group, whether you intended it at the time you wrote it or not.

But let that just be a preemptive apology then, so that I can have some free opportunities for accidental idiocy in the future, sort of like a "get out of jail free" card. If anyone's like "you're not making any sense..." I'll just copy and paste it.







Boethius said...

off-topic
What are your thoughts on this?

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/05/medicine_as_sca.html

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/07/the-oregon-health-insurance-experiment.html

Is this related with the decline of science?

bgc said...

@FHL - My understanding of the implications of the over-promoted society are that there are two possible ways of adapting to it:

1. To adhere to tradition (ancient tradition) despite incomprehension - and on the basis that the people in the past had understanding that we lack - so we defer to them.

2. To rebuild at a level of complexity that we CAN comprehend - and this needs a rebuilding from, and on the basis of, core principles.

So the only useful arguments with those in authority go along the lines of:

1. we shouldn't mess with things we don't really understand

(but secular Leftists believe the past is evil and we are on a escalator of progresss); or

2. we need to rebuild all this stuff, but on clear core principles which we can define, describe, defend, discuss etc

(but secular Leftists believe that all core principles should be problematized, subverted and inverted).

So, in practice, since the secular Left rule our culture, there isn't much that can be done to prevent continued inexorable loss of functionality, then sooner or later (probably sooner - maybe today?) civilizational collapse.

bgc said...

@Boethius - I know RH's work, and indeed published a couple of papers by him when I was editor of Medical Hypotheses. So I think it is good stuff - so far as it goes.

But RH's general view of the human condition strikes me as extraordinarily narrow and abstract - which limits the applicability of his analyses.

A much fuller picture comes from the work of David Healy - esepcially his latest book Pharmageddon, but really anything he has published since 1998 and the Antidepressant Era.

The full picture would need a Christian framework, because medicine only makes sense within a religious perspective - otherwise it almost certainly ends up doing more harm than good by open-ended and unbounded pursuit of utilitarian goals.

JP said...

Indeed, it is characteristic of the Left that they always regard opponents as evil, ignorant (of facts) or insane.

The Left also commonly describes their opponents as stupid. They apply this description in particular to Christians - "only stupid people would believe such obvious nonsense."

Of course, the question of who is really the stupid one would only have meaning if debates were resolved on the basis of facts and logic rather than political power.

bgc said...

@JP - what they *really* believe is another matter - but I think the typical Leftist would - if pressed on the point - deny that anyone was stupid in the sense of unintelligent; because this would imply exactly the kind of difference that Leftism systematically denies.

They would have to believe or pretend pretend that the 'stupid' person lacked specific information, or had been fed lies (if they were in a privileged 'minority') - and if the person could not plausibly be considered ignorant (e.g. if they were an accredited intellectual, and yet were opposing AGW or AA or 'Christian' priestesses) - they they would have to regard them as either insane or evil.

Either way, the implication is that such people ought to be locked up for the safety of the public...

Rusty Mason said...

FHL asked, "How you fix this though? For example, suppose you do this thing, suppose you ask someone to restate your argument in their own words and they cannot manage to do it, how then do you inform them that you understand something they can't? Surely you cannot just say "You're too stupid to understand" and expect them to respond reasonably.

"Is there anyway to tell them gently in a manner that they would accept?"

Every situation is different but in many cases, yes. Myself, being smarter, more rational, honest, caring, humble, et cetera, I outsmart them, similar to how a wise parent outsmarts an unreasonable child, or how P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves character outsmarts his employers. If I plan and execute successfully, everyone is better off and I get credit for being so caring and clever, all while upholding the highest standards.

IF I am really smarter, that is.
Most conservatives expect that by arguing with lefties/liberals in good faith, they can win or compromise. Inasmuch as they continue to do this without learning that it is futile and adopt another strategy, they are not any smarter than their liberal opponents (This describes all of our current conservative leadership). They never learn that you cannot expect those under the devil's spell to be reasonable.