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Why Smart People Do Stupid Things (Like Getting mRNA Injections)
During the lockdowns I was absolutely gobsmacked by how thoroughly so many of my friends fell for the psyop and succumbed to the mass psychosis.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, most of them are quite convinced that carbon dioxide is a pressing threat to the survival of the human species, one which photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries will save us from; that race is a social construct; that the pay gap between men and women is real; and that a woman is whoever uses she/her pronouns.
Still, in this case, it all just seemed too obvious to me that the entire thing was a put-up job, a hysterical collective nervous breakdown cultivated by an unholy alliance of politicians greedy for power and pharmaceutical behemoths greedy for cash. I mean, we had the Diamond Princess results in March of 2020.
These aren’t stupid people, by any means. I’m talking PhD scientists, computer programmers, engineers. In terms of raw cognitive grunt this is a group with serious horsepower. So despite the fact that they’d largely swallowed every other mandatory absurdity in the prevailing culture, I retained a naive expectation that they’d eventually come to their senses and realize that COVID’s dangers were exaggerated.
No such luck. Most of them still haven’t come to their senses. Even several months ago masks remained a common sight in professional settings, and of course, the majority dutifully, even enthusiastically, lined up for their untested gene therapy injections. Which, as so many predicted before the rollout, have done absolutely nothing to protect anyone from the Coof of Doom, and have generally proved to be far more trouble than they’re worth what with all the myocarditis. Many of them got sick from the shots. That didn’t stop them from getting more.
A few days agohad a thread on Twixxor examining a recent study which found a strong positive correlation between cognitive ability and likelihood to have gotten jabbed. Here’s the money plot:
Given my personal experiences, I can easily believe the study’s results: in my immediate circle, amongst those I know professionally, I know precisely one other person who rejected the shot.
Cremiuex’s take-away from the study: smart people get vaxxed, so getting vaxxed is the smart thing to do. I don’t want to beat up on Cremiuex here, because I think he does excellent work: here’s a wonderfully interesting deep dive into the early popularization of family planning, and the devastating impact this had on total fertility, which is absolutely worth your time to read if you’re interested in the driving factors behind the depopulocalypse and ways to reverse our societal barrenness. But, with that said: I think Cremiuex is wrong about this. Just because smart people do something, does not make that the smart thing to do.
It’s certainly a popular heuristic though, including amongst intelligent people. “Smart people do this thing, so if you want to be smart you should do it too!” is in practice a highly effective argument for manipulating the behaviour of people who identify as smart.
As a simple historical example, take God.
Within Western civilization, until recently essentially everyone was a Christian. The intelligentsia, however, tended to be the most devout Christians: for a long time, if you had any intellectual acumen whatsoever, you were very likely to find your career inside the Church.
For about the last century or so, this has been reversed: smart people are in general more likely to be atheists.
If you’d been born five hundred years ago, the argument would be: smart people believe in God so believing in God is the smart thing to do. Now, the argument is: smart people do not believe in God, so not believing in God is the smart thing to do.
So which group of smart people is correct?
Scientism enjoyers would probably say the contemporary group is the one to follow, since thanks to The Science they have access to more information about the natural world, which has proven that God doesn’t exist (that’s a bit glib: the more careful argument is that we can explain more without recourse to divine intervention than we previously could, with the promissory assumption that future scientific progress will asymptotically reduce the space for divinity to the null set). Of course, that’s nonsense: the existence or non-existence of God is not something which empirical science can address, even in principle. In terms of resolving that question we are no closer than we were two hundred, two thousand, or two hundred thousand years ago.
Theists could well respond that there is evidence that we have become markedly stupider over the last couple of centuries, pointing to studies of reaction time (which correlates to the general intelligence factor g) or almost any literary passage from a popular novel of the 18th or 19th centuries, which are invariably written with a level of syntactical sophistication that contemporary doctoral candidates struggle to follow. The smart people of the past were smarter than the smart people now, theists might say, so the older group of smart people is the one to follow.
Obviously, one of these groups of smart people is wrong. God either exists or he doesn’t. However, ‘what do smart people believe about God’ is not a reasonable heuristic to use when inquiring into the existence or non-existence of the Almighty. I’m not going to litigate that perennial question here. All that the above example demonstrates is that, by and large, smart people in any given societal context will tend to believe whatever it is currently socially acceptable to believe, and moreover, they will tend to believe it more passionately than the more intellectually average members of the population.
To inhabitants of a rationalist civilization that prizes logical reasoning as the best path to truth, this may seem strange. Intelligent people are better at reasoning, the truth is most effectively apprehended via reason, so intelligent people are more likely to achieve truth. Right?
Intelligence really just boils down to the ability to extract meaningful patterns from information. The more rapidly this can be done, the more complex the patterns that can be discerned, the higher the intelligence. As a rule this means that intelligent people are capable of learning more rapidly, since learning is itself essentially a pattern recognition process in which the meaningful is abstracted from the meaningless and therefore more easily stored away for future reference. Hence ‘crystallized intelligence’, the sum total of the information that someone has acquired over their life, is usually a reasonable guide to how intelligent someone is. Early IQ tests relied to a large degree on tests of knowledge for this reason, until researchers realized that this measure was useless for cross-cultural comparisons, including comparisons of subcultures that had differential access to educational materials, at which point they ultimately settled on pattern recognition tests as an objective measure.
Basically, smart people are better at absorbing information.
What happens when the information environment is saturated with nonsense?
GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. Most people will happily absorb the nonsense just as readily as they will the accurate information, and the smart ones will do so more efficiently than the less intelligent. Now, there are caveats here. If the nonsense is really obviously nonsense, in stark contradiction to the evidence of the senses, people are less likely to absorb it. However, if there’s no real empirical test – much of metaphysics, for example – then this won’t apply, and the only remaining tests are ‘is this logically coherent’ and ‘will people shun me if I think/don’t think this’. It is quite possible to build great towering edifices of elaborate logically coherent absurdity on foundations of difficult to detect bullshit, meaning that the latter, social test is often, in practice, the one that gets applied. Including by very intelligent people, who are after all highly capable of mastering the intricate nuances of the bullshit towers, while being every bit as neurotic about societal acceptability as everyone else ... if not more neurotic about social acceptance, given that their highly developed pattern recognition capabilities mean that they are able to think through the probable consequences for their careers, mating prospects, and invitations to fashionable parties of saying socially unacceptable things.
Is this just the midwit meme?
The grug-brain lacks the intellectual acumen to absorb information rapidly, which perversely enough is actually an advantage when the information environment is dominated by bullshit towers. Grug goes with his gut instinct, and then rationalizes those instinctive conclusions with whatever nonsense he finds lying around. It doesn’t matter if the 5G thing is true or not: it’s simply a justification for not getting jabbed, which (insofar as that is the right call), makes the 5G conspiracy theories functionally true. The highly intelligent wizard-brain is perceptive enough to identify the tower’s foundational bullshit, and therefore can tell that the tower is structurally unsound, and not really worth the effort and hazard of climbing. The benighted midwit is just smart enough to learn his way around the bullshit tower, but too dumb to perceive that it is bullshit, and therefore climbs all the way to the unstable top where he reaps the awful consequences.
Amusing as it is, as the study of cognitive ability and enthusiasm for the incredible injectables suggests, the midwit meme probably doesn’t capture the underlying dynamics driving high rates of uptake amongst the highly intelligent.
So what does?
The propaganda in favour of vaccination has been absolutely relentless for a couple of decades, now. The party line has been that any skepticism at all towards not just vaccination as a concept, but even the product safety of any specific vaccine, is a marker for anti-science obscurantism. Everyone knows that Andrew Wakefield guy was a quack for claiming that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine was causally related to the autism epidemic, which is all the proof you need that all vaccines are safe and effective. That includes products that would not have been considered vaccines at all, until the definition of ‘vaccine’ was changed. Noticing that definitional legerdemain, or asking any other questions whatsoever about the testing protocols, legal liability agreements, biodistribution, biopersistence, or immunogenicity of the mRNA injectables, identifies you as a wooly-headed crunchy granola mommy who probably keeps crystals under her pillow to attune her aura’s vibration to the celestial frequency emanating from the Galactic Centre so that she can remain in psychic contact with her Pleiadian space angels. “Vaccine hesistancy” will get you branded a kook, in other words, and laughed at for being stupid. Smart people don’t like getting laughed at for being stupid. It is extremely important to them that they be thought of as smart people by other smart people, because being smart is central to their identities.
Quite apart from the reputational damage risked by hesitating for even a moment before letting a gene therapy serum into your bloodstream, there were the professional consequences. Smart people, by and large, tend to work within the professional-managerial classes. They are well-paid for their intellectual labour on behalf of the institutions, and by refusing to get the shot they risked losing their comfortable jobs. Even if their employer did not have a vaccine mandate, they would (potentially) be subject to travel restrictions which – given the nature of many of their positions – could be a significant professional impediment.
Institutional dependence is a significant factor. The lifestyle enabled by their well-remunerated services is for many a gilded cage. A six-figure income sounds like a lot, but when you’ve taken on a mortgage for a million dollar house in a suburb with good private schools for your 1.5 children, you’re on the hook for loans for your hundred thousand dollar post-graduate training and a pair of hundred thousand dollar Teslas, and you’ve grown accustomed to free range organic artisanal farm-to-table everything, there isn’t a lot of wiggle in the household budget, particularly if you want to spend that week in Italy next summer. Lose your position, and you risk losing everything and getting busted down to the trailer park, where you’ll be even worse off than the trailer trash because their meth habits are probably less expensive than your undischargeable student loan. Getting a new position isn’t at all guaranteed, particularly if you lost your old one because you did something gauche like refuse a grandma-saving medical treatment due to those anti-science right wing conspiracy theories you gave credence to. Professional fields tend to be small, word gets around, and the HR ladies talk. A career is not the same thing as a job: it is much harder to get, and much harder to replace.
So, regardless of whatever they privately thought about the mRNA treatments, many of the cognitively gifted would look at the social, professional, and economic ramifications of refusal, and calculate that the best option was simply to sit down and roll up their sleeves. While most of the professionals I know personally were quite enthusiastic about the jabs, I also know several who received them despite private misgivings, precisely because of such considerations.
But what of those who didn’t go along with it?
On the low end of the intellectual scale, concerns over reputation aren’t as pressing: they have no reputation to guard, because no one really cares if waitresses think the Earth is flat or Uber drivers are convinced 9/11 Was An Inside Job. Concerns over work aren’t as pressing: for those stuck in the gig economy, low-end service jobs, and the like, money is always tighter but the barrier to getting a new job just like the old one is much lower, while on the other hand social services provide an income comparable to what you can make from working such jobs. Concerns over travel aren’t as pressing: assuming they can afford it, they might travel once or twice a year for vacation, but with the exception of long-haul truckers they don’t tend to travel for work. All in all the consequences of rejecting the jab were much lower for this cohort.
On the upper end of the cognitive scale, where the pressures were far more intense, refusal to get the jab had nothing to do with intelligence, and everything to do with character. It meant that one had to be comfortable adopting an oppositional stance towards both the overwhelming majority of one’s peers and one’s employer, risking not just one’s job, but one’s career. It meant that one had to weigh in the balance everything one had worked for, against one’s gut feeling that something smelled off about the not-vaccine, and be willing not just to trust one’s gut but to trust it so far that one was willing to throw away a lifetime of training, education, and professional success. Now, sure, it wasn’t wholly an intuitive call: there was, and is, an entire ecosystem of open source analysts and independent media who were performing critical examinations of the safety profile and medical efficacy of the mRNA shots ... but many of these are anons, and that community was vastly outnumbered by the overwhelming consensus of the medical profession that the shots were a good idea, backed up by the overwhelming consensus of society that the medical establishment was essentially trustworthy. Who you gonna believe, John Hopkins and the CDC or some schizo writing Tweet threads?
It would be fascinating to see a study of vaccine uptake sorted not just by cognitive ability, but by personality traits such as the five-factor OCEAN model. My guess would be high Openness, low Conscientiousness, low Agreeability, and low Neuroticism would be stronger predictors of refusal than IQ (Extroversion, I suspect, would be neutral). The study that motivated this post did look at personality, but it wasn’t the OCEAN model, and the exact method used to evaluate ‘personality’ by the Swedish military isn’t exactly clear. According to the paper, the ‘personality’ variable they examined bundled together ‘high emotional stability, persistence, sociality, willingness to assume responsibility, and ability to take initiative’. ‘Sociality’, to me, sounds a lot like agreeableness, although it could also measure extroversion, while ‘persistence’ could map to conscientiousness, as could ‘willingness to assume responsibility’. Interestingly, the study notes that controlling for personality reduces the correlation of vaxx uptake with cognitive ability by a significant amount, with education also playing a considerable role.
Notably, it is precisely the opposite ends of those traits which are strongly selected for in our academic institutions, probably more intensely than they select for intellect: low Openness, high Conscientiousness, high Agreeability, and high Neuroticism are all strongly preferred. That combination of traits tends to produce an intellectual community that values conformity far more than it values truth. When the majority of the world’s intelligent people are acculturated into a system that prioritizes obedience over veracity, looking at what the smart fraction do might not be a great guide to actually smart behaviour. In fact, it may be the precise opposite.
I’ve been pretty quiet the last few weeks, and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience, especially my long-suffering paying subscribers, who are probably sitting there wondering what the heck they’re giving this guy money for if he isn’t going to write anything. It would be nice if I had a good excuse, something like “I’ve been sick”, but honestly it’s just been writer’s block. There are several long essays I’ve been working on, on subjects ranging from UAPs to the question of What Is To Be Done about the managerial state, but nothing that’s felt quite ready to publish. I don’t want to bombard your inboxes with low-quality, half-written essays. That said, I’ve felt a little guilty for my slow output over the last couple of months, especially as a few of you have reached out to check in on me. Something which, I might add, was also incredibly touching.