intellectual-intelligence-emotions-feelings-facts

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“Success is a lousy teacher.

It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

 

Bill Gates

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“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.”

 

Sam Walton

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Original commenter:

It isn’t scientists’ role to package facts and theory for the general public, let alone the most willfully ignorant.

 

 

Response commenter:

Surely scientists have some responsibility to make their findings understandable to the public?

Otherwise how do their findings get incorporated into policy?

 

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So.

 

With so much discussion going on about “the working class” it may become easy this-is-the-part-you-find-out-who-you-are-contrarianto ignore the implicit backlash against ‘intellectualism’ or ‘the out-of-touch elite.’

 

I do not believe there is an anti-intellectualism crisis.

 

I do not believe we have reached an era where any influencers who are smart, or intellectual, are dismissed as the reigning voices of truth & expertise.

 

But.

I do know that elites, or so-called elites, are despised and the opinions of experts are disregarded in favor of emotions or gut feelings, i.e., feelings are as important, if not more important, than facts.

 

And I do know that Michael Gove said “people have had enough of experts.”

 

Whew.

Not only is that a bullshit quote … it is a scary thought.

 

I could walk into a crowded blue collar bar and after some discussion I could be construed as ‘thinker not doer’ … despite the fact I have over 30 years of doing practical experience.

And therein lies the issue.

 

Depending on how you articulate your experience you can sound intellectually elitist <too smart for your own good> or you can sound pragmatically hard working. And within those two bookends is a fairly wide spectrum.

 

There has become a blurring of … well … everything actually … but in this case … true experience & expertise and ‘elitism.’

 

This is creating a horrible thing in society and our culture. If you have gobs of experience you are labeled as out of touch with the everyday schmuck.

 

If you are an everyday schmuck you are immediately labeled as anti-intellectual and, far too often, less educated.

 

This is a horrible situation for everyone <because no one wins>.

 

Simplistically … education and experience are two different things. I can certainly intellectual-elite-asimov-false-notion-ignorance but it shouldn’t diminish experience wisdom <and vice versa>.

 

And that is where the whole communication and communicating aspect comes into play.

For if neither side can clearly communicate their value then … well … everyone assumes the worst.

 

It would be far too easy for me to suggest that if someone has the experience, and the wisdom that comes with it, they should be able to articulate it and communicate it in a way that anyone would not feel condescended to or diminished or simply out-of-touch with either hard working or ‘thinker’.

 

But experience doesn’t necessarily translate into effective communication.

 

And it gets even more challenging when both sides have a pair of perception filtered glasses on as they view the opposite they are seeking to communicate with.

 

My prime example is easy … climate change.

 

The simple fact is that climate activists cannot sell their story effectively – they fall back on … well … facts and numbers. This is deemed as ‘arrogance’ because they get frustrated you don’t see the truth in the numbers and you are deemed ‘ignorant’ as you get frustrated because you aren’t a scientist and don’t want to extrapolate numbers … you just want a simple truthful story.

 

Even non-science people  recognize that cherry-picked statistics and trends & projections are not the same as long-term accurate predictions and effects. But if the case is so strong it must be possible to bring it forth in a compelling way combined with compelling measures to address it.

 

That said.

 

intellectual-behave-as-intelligenceThe most egregious act with regard to elitism versus experience actually takes place when people smart enough to know … undermine other people smart enough to know … within the leadership we seek to take our cues from <or let’s label them what the everyday schmuck would call ‘the ruling intellectual elite’>.

 

They sacrifice acceptance of the value of their ‘competitor’ for undermining the value. And in doing so they undermine everyone’s value. Some would suggest this is ‘not seeing the forest for the trees.’

 

I would suggest this is actually a doom loop. If every day people have no one to trust with regard to their experience they become anxious. And, then, in this state of anxiety, many of those same people no longer trust the experts <let alone anyone attempting to lead by thought leadership>.

 

If you cannot trust experience it all falls apart. Because then gaining experience just doesn’t matter <or specific experience doesn’t matter>.

 

In addition … it seems to foster an environment in which individual thinking is discouraged, the value of scientific/researched fact is diminished and, contrary to belief, the power shifts to some authority figure who leads through opinion rather than fact <and people follow off of ‘feelings’ rather than truth>.

 

That said … all things being equal, it means this issue comes down to its most basic level <which actually creates a real divide in ‘us versus them’>.

 

 

Here is where the biggest gap in skills & experience exists.

 

Survival skills.

 

test think smarterSurvival in corporate America is significantly different than survival in … well … survival.

 

If all of urban/suburban America lost their microwaves and fast food restaurants … well … they would be screwed.

 

Sure.

Most people know how to light a fire <with a match>, wash underwear and make soup but that basic skill set is not even close to the survival skills of the majority of the world let alone rural America.

 

Therefore … experience is measured in two different ways … basic survival versus ‘elitist’ survival. And neither side values the other’s skills equally … or maybe worse … they devalue the other’s skill set.

 

It’s a dangerous state of affairs.

 

 

We are shortchanging our ability to shape events by having each side believe they are the only ones capable of shaping the events.

 

 

We are shortchanging the people who are much more confident in the assessments of what to do and when to do it.

 

 

We are shortchanging the people who understand that in any situation and in any choice there are winners and losers and just because you may have lost smart and stupid peopledoesn’t make you a loser.

 

And, of course, we shortchange the people who don’t have the experience to lead by undervaluing the experience that they do have … and what they have to offer in terms of thinking & ideas.

 

We don’t know what we don’t know.

 

And in those words of wisdom resides our biggest challenge with regard to this crisis of elitism versus experience … we need to figure out how to better articulate expertism and experience … because if we do not … the inexperienced will seek to take on the responsibilities of the experienced … and we will be doomed to fail.

 

 

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“The pen may indeed be mightier than the sword, but the wordsmith would do well to welcome the blacksmith back into the fold, so that artisan craftsmanship the world over may fend off the ravages of industrialised homogeneity and bland monoculture.”

 

Alex Morritt

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