Sunday, December 31, 2006

Shout, shout ... let it all out.

Wandering as I was through the local sprawl of shops, I chanced upon a small book "What is your dangerous idea". It piqued my interest, so I bought it. The book is a collection of ideas about the future, it's cute, speculative and generally interesting. As with all good books, it led me on a journey.

The journey in this case, was because of its claim to provide "today's leading thinkers on the unthinkable". How do you define "today's leading thinkers?" One of the lessons that Cambridge taught me was that true genius is very scarce. I was there, and I'm a fully paid up member of the dazzlingly daft society. Along with 90% of the population, I believe I'm above average intelligence which either means I can't count or I'm deluded - I prefer to think I'm deluded. The one thing this does tell me is that I'm not one of the great thinkers, but fortunately I've got a lot of people to keep me company.

The truly great thinkers are often hidden away in the most obscure places and in my experience they never think of themselves in such terms. Now if you are a truly exceptional individual, let's say in the top 0.01%, then in the world today there are over half a million people just as bright as you; enough to make a small city. No matter how smart you think you or your clique are, there is a city of smarter people out there. Now this is the rub - the city couldn't exist anyway. The problem is that unless you exist in a true meritocracy most of these brilliant people are unlikely to be discovered. I believe I've met many outstandingly intelligent and thoughtful people who, because of the cards that life has dealt them, have never come close to realising their potential. A true meritocracy needs to hunt out these individuals.

So what do we live in; isn't the internet a true meritocracy? Well, it seems closer to a "shoutocracy" or, not to mix languages, a Stentorocracy (from the greek hero with the big lungs) than to a true meritocracy. There are those who argue the "wisdom of the crowd" creates a meritocracy. However the crowd is equally wise as daft (see Marquis de Condorcet for a more formal examination of this). You also still have to shout at the crowd and then you have the problem of memes.

So anyway back to the book. It led me to a group called the Edge. It's an interesting mix of self-selecting cultural imperialism, combined with some ardent beliefs and pleasurable intellectual discourse. Now there is nothing wrong with this - it's a talking shop - but the claims it makes are somewhat disturbing. It's not so much the edge, as sailing close or over it.

  • "The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are."

All hail to the priesthood. Hmmm, Hume would be turning in his grave - where has the humility gone?

  • "America now is the intellectual seedbed for Europe and Asia."
  • "The emergence of the third culture introduces new modes of intellectual discourse and reaffirms the preeminence of America in the realm of important ideas"

All hail to the imperium! I think 6 billion people might disagree with this. This doesn't mean the ideas or people aren't interesting, the claims are just a tad strong though.

  • "Who are the 'digerati' and why are they 'the cyber elite'? They are the doers, thinkers, and writers who have tremendous influence on the emerging communication revolution. They are not on the frontier, they are the frontier."

All hail to the Kings and Queens. They may well be self-anointed, but let the meme spread long enough and soon the crowd in its wisdom will be chanting. Still, it could be worse :-

King Arthur: I am your king.
Serf: Well I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Serf: Well how'd you become king then?
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Serf: Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Serf: You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.
Serf: If I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away.
(Monty Python, Holy Grail ... if you haven't seen this, you should)

and finally ...

  • "The role of the intellectual includes communicating. Intellectuals are not just people who know things but people who shape the thoughts of their generation. An intellectual is a synthesizer, a publicist, a communicator."

Ah, the Stentorocracy in action, the pantomisation of science (oh no it isn't, oh yes it is - I can't hear you!) - this is as dangerous a meme or idea as any in the book. Still, it's an interesting book - worth reading and it won't make you go blind.

19 comments:

Jay Jonna Jameson said...

If you are looking for more info, search for it here then!

jenifferleio12 said...

The blog topic is very informative and interesting for readers and i also really enjoyed it.
office.com/setup

ashleyleio123 said...

Excellent blog. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
office.com/setup

john martin said...

office.com/setup is a product ofoffice setup. Get Support if you face problem to activate office.com/setup or mcafee.com/activate install Microsoft Office product. Install with Product Key. mcafee.com/activate
norton.com/setup is one of the best Security Antivirus product can completely Call qui protect your digital life online. You can securely surf the Internet with the To activate your with product key you can visit norton.com/setup. |
mcafee.com/activate

Jhon Cena said...

Norton.com/setup - Norton is a well-known name offering a variety of security services to their users.
It has marked its name in the market of personal as well as business security.

Panda Thúy said...

I would like most of the accounts, Favor actually enjoyed, We wish addiitional details regarding it, because it will be comparatively outstanding., Respect only for proclaiming
miniclip games, a10 games to play, jogos para crianças

Huyen said...

I would love to keep track of your posts, it is really a useful source of information, wish you success. It's great, wish you success in the next blog, this is a post that we all should read at least once.
games free for kids
jogos friv gratis 2019

Lucia Mandela said...

We provide free office Setup Technical support, customer service & online support for install ms office ,Get Live Chat Help & Support
norton.com/setup | office.com/setup| mcafee.com/activate | office.com/setup |norton.com/setup www.mcafee.com/activate

arpitpc said...

Microsoft Office setup is a complete package of productivity suite open for professional, educational, and personal use. office setup is visited once you have bought your Office Setup Product office.com/setup is where you enter your product information to setup office.
suddenlink email | brighthouse email | xfinity customer service | brighthouse email login | brighthouse webmail

mcfee.com/activate said...

The post you shared is very unique and informative. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.
norton.com/setup
mcafee.com/activate
office.com/setup

LINH NGUYEN said...

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. jogo io
2 player games for girl
friv 4 game

Huyen said...

This pass practice is commonly costly as professional web developers can warfare you each and every share of one from a hundred bucks to thousands of dollars, depending not in the isolate away away off from how perplexing you nonappearance your website to be

gooey game
play friv
y 8 c om

Thúy Panda said...

miniclip games,
a10 games for kid,
Jogo online

I admit, I have not been on this web page in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals.

martinapcexpert said...

It really makes me happy and I am satisfied with the arrangement of your post. You are really a talented person I have ever seen.
Norton.com/Setup

Tech masala said...

Garmin.com/express - Garmin categorical may be a product that permits you to update and deals along with your Garmin gadgets. you'll update, edit, register your Garmin gadgets even as match up the knowledge with Garmin interface.

Devin Smith said...

Microsoft Office often releases its latest updated version of its applications and productivity suite, and every latest update comes with various amazing and advanced features for the benefits of the users. Also, Microsoft provides a complete cloud-based productivity suite to fulfill the requirements of office and home users. To download, install, and activate office.com/setup, connect with the Microsoft expert team and avail optimum benefits. Learn how to easily enter 25 digit alphanumeric product activation key code and easily activate it. Get assistance for Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, Office 365, etc.

Devin Smith said...

Microsoft Office is providing complete cloud-based productivity package across the globe. Get single solution for downloading, installing, re-installing, and activating it by using 25 digit alphanumeric product key code from office.com/setup. The alphanumeric code is used for activating the Microsoft office. Get assistance for Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, and Office 365.

Tech Support said...

Trend micro geek squad is an antivirus software offered by your very own geek squad repair service provider. Experts could be reached at our toll-free help desk to know more about this software and its related issues. Dial our trend micro geek squad helpline number for any query.

Devin Smith said...

Figure out how to exchange your Norton security to another PC, Formatted or Reimaged PC. It additionally has ventures to download or re-download, introduce or reinstall and enact your Norton security items on your PC and cell phone. To find out about more visit norton.com/setup