Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Conspiracy Theorists Overestimate Intelligence

It's been noted that conspiracy theories make stupid people feel smart.

This explains the appeal, but not the belief. Here's my explanation for that: Stupid people believe conspiracy theories because they overestimate smart people.

Smart people recognize the severe limitations of intelligence. They know human beings are nowhere near competent enough, visionary enough, or discrete enough to pull off big conspiracies. If you're smart, you understand that smart people are slightly less oafish...but still oafish. Earth's where they put the oafs.

In my recent posting, "How to Respond to Conspiracy Theorists", I made this comparison:
How have our trillion dollar attempts at nation-building panned out? That’s a pretty useful high water mark for societal orchestration skills. In the end, I think Gary Larson had it right. We are slightly clever livestock. And often not even that clever.
Convincing stupid people that intelligent people aren't all-knowing and that powerful people aren't all-powerful is like trying to convince poor people that billionaires experience discontentment and frustration, or homely people that the highly-attractive can be lonely.

My plumber's super short. We were in my basement last week and I conked my head on a lead pipe. He winced in sympathy, and I boomed "See? It's not all it's cracked up to be!" He assumed I was being witty, but I saw no flash of recognition in his eyes. He figured I enjoy an elite "tall person" lifestyle, and a few errant head conks are a small price to pay. To me, it's nothing but head conks.


Unknown said...

OK, Jim...I'll bite. Realizing how low my intelligence is (thank you for the assessment), do you agree there are *any* viable conspiracy theories out there?

(Hint: Nobody has said "intelligent people are all-knowing" or "powerful people are all-powerful", so you should limit the straw man in the future.)

Jim Leff said...

Thank you for the assessment

The notion that I'm speaking directly and specifically to you through your monitor is, itself, stupid.

Nobody has said "intelligent people are all-knowing

If you think Bill Gates can personally invent nanobot technology all on his own (and keep it secret, and use it not for good but to "control" people via their bloodstream), then you vastly vastly overrate Bill Gates' intelligence. All-knowing or preposterously-exaggerated-impossible-levels-of-knowing, it's all the same to me.

do you agree there are *any* viable conspiracy theories out there?

Answered in comments here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.leff/posts/10209209611632698

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