Friday, April 26, 2019


In the continuing debate about Intelligence, IQ, Wisdom, Smarts, and Education, I would like to add in a neglected bit.  The assumptions one starts from may be more important than one's formal intelligence.  Consider: the Soviet Union had many scientists who were smarter than I am, some in general, and many many more in specific training. Yet they exiled or even killed those who would not start from the correct Stalinist assumptions, so all the remaining ones were a restricted pool. So they got many things deeply wrong.

Still, they were brilliant people.  In those fields where they could keep away from the inquisitors, such as historical linguistics, they exceeded the efforts of those in the West who were under the thumb of different assumptions here.

Similarly, the State Department, CIA, FBI, NSA, Military Intelligence and other agencies contain many, many people who know more than I do and some who are smarter than I am to begin with. Yet if they do not start from correct assumptions, they will reach bad conclusions, and doubly bad because 1) they have pre-emptively defended those positions against criticism already,  though starting from a point too far downstream makes this useless, and 2) they cannot listen to critics who do not know the details they do.

When I speak with family members who do not know much about mental health, or newish Christians or Seekers who do not know much theology, Bible, or church history, or newcomers in many fields I know something about, I don;t find it hard to be patient in my explanations and assiduous in trying to create clear analogies. Where I get irritated is with people who think they know something, yet who have started from wrong assumptions that they seem unable to question.

I'm not good with that.


The Old Man said...

Erroneous conclusions due to horsecrap starting assumptions is one of my hot buttons also. Well put.

james said...

I'm not good with that either, and I run into it frequently. "What a fool believes he sees..." (I looked up the lyrics to that to make sure I had them correct. I'd been mishearing part of the song for years.)

Blick said...

Even deeper than assumptions is a common morality. Way back, once upon a time, in college economics the textbook laid out the Ten Assumptions of Economics -- a perfect set of circumstances that economics was based on. That was a surprise and a beginning of seeking the assumptions behind ideas and discussions. Thus, I am somewhat amused when many complaints about Capitalism is about Fairness and the defense of Socialism is Fairness. That is a moral argument not an economic one. The discussion about Climate Change becomes one of fear, damage compensation, or data manipulation. Not about the accuracy of the science but about the morality of the effect or the morality - honesty- of the scientists. Therefore one of the assumptions that has to be examined and clarified in any argument/discussion is it based on common morality/worldview?

David Foster said...

One characteristic of dishonest...or at least very bad...investment deals is that the promoters talk about all the wonderful things you'll be able to do with all that money you're going to make, rather than attempting to explain why the investment will work.

Much 'climate change' talk is simply the obverse of this.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

True, and I had not thought of that similarity.

IIRC, Time-share sales are much the same.