It’s not easy being part of the smart people. If you are a talented musician, or a stellar athlete, you may or may not be smart. But the majority of those who laugh about being a klutz or tone deaf find it reprehensible certainly elitist to suggest that they may not be that smart. So we compensate by making jokes about really smart people and even our television shows that in theory praise smart people also point to a social awkwardness on those with dizzying intellect. We search for great equalizers when it comes to smart people.
Such generalizations, of course, are poppycock. Smart people who cannot apply their smartness often seem to be quite ineffectual. But in an odd way, theories regarding smart people help explain the Trump phenomena. Along with societal rage at our unfair and unequal zeitgeist the Trump phenomena appeals to those who desire a ‘father figure’ to help channel their rage. The Donald, king of reality TV, suffices for that.
And is there anything more dumbing down in America than realty TV? Those represented on the shows, like Housewives or the Kardashians, symbolize the phenomena where we don’t have an interest such as music or academics or writing of any sort, or artistry, or a historical focus or even bird watching but instead of action we attempt to derive pleasure from watching others.
While it is pretty to think that we all can be Dostoevsky’s or Beethoven’s or Einstein’s we can’t. But it is admirable having a focus, an outlet for brain activity that requires our mind to work at something. It’s like going to the gym for the organ that separates us from all of the other creatures.
So not surprisingly, the Donald doesn’t appeal to smart people. There’s no evidence meanwhile that our intelligentsia has been swayed by the Donald’s arguments. And if he were to become President, a new reality TV show would most likely be born.
“I posed this question to Carol Graham, a Brookings Institution researcher who studies the economics of happiness. “The findings in here suggest (and it is no surprise) that those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it … are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective,” she said.”
“(Important note for smart, argumentative people reading this: we’re talking about averages here. There are plenty of extroverted smart people and introverted dumb people. But on average, smart people tend to dislike socializing because it takes them away from work they find more rewarding.)”
“This odd thing is that this isn’t really an application of evolutionary psychology, even though the authors are evolutionary psychologists. The hypothesis that humans evolved in hierarchical, medium-sized groups that relied on tight social networks for survival is pretty widely accepted. It’s nothing new. What’s new is the suggestion that smart people can overcome the constraints of cognitive evolution more easily than most people. And that’s not really evolutionary psychology. It’s just regular old psychology, or perhaps regular old neuroscience. It’s pretty likely that this has always been true of smart people, but we just don’t know it. Our social science datasets are shockingly inadequate for dates before 20,000 BCE.”
“Now, I don’t have access to the paper itself, and it’s possible that the authors address this. The abstract doesn’t give any hint of it, though. For the time being, then, I’ll take this as a fairly banal observation: people with intense intellectual interests value them more highly than social contact, and almost by definition, it’s mostly smart people who have intense intellectual interests. As a refugee from the tech world who dealt with a lot of programmers, and as a blogger who gets annoyed at being interrupted in the middle of writing a post, color me unsurprised.” http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/03/its-true-smart-people-would-prefer-you-went-away