There was an article on a political blog this morning, describing a study at Cornell, which suggested that our democracy -- our republic anyway -- was in danger because the vox populi was too stupid to recognize what was good for them. My favorite quote was an Orwellian (maybe Huxleyian) riff by one of the researchers, "Very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is.”
Only in the social sciences! Another snake-eating-its tail gem: “Incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas." Yeah?
Anyway, I responded that the article confused "idea" (whether good or bad) with political promises and rhetoric (one of the subjects was Obamacare -- a touchy subject to say the least); and several respondents in San Francisco, my hometown (all obviously twitching, navel-gazing shut-ins), landed on me like sack of ****** for questioning the basis of the "study" -- this from a city that questions everything, including gravity and the supposed wisdom of combining ****-less chaps with hirsute, morbid obesity. There was even a criticism leveled at me due to a typo -- this while riding BART (our sucky subway), while tapping on a borrowed smartphone, and trying to prevent my head exploding. I suggested at one point that grandiose ideas aren't, in and of themselves, necessarily, good ideas. One only has to see Hitler and Speer's architectural models of a new Nuremburg: spectacular, to be sure -- but as mad as a ******-house rat.
Here was my final response after the brow-beating:
I find it strangely ironic how virulent some respondents are to those critical of the study -- how they willingly and shockingly conflate IDEA with political rhetoric and promises, no matter its supposed benefit; and that those whose views are in disagreement, are held as somehow less relevant; or paradoxically, seen through some hellish Orwellian lens, as even bolstering the Cornell findings?
What ever happened to San Francisco, my hometown, once that vanguard, along with Berkeley of "question authority" but a brief generation or two ago? Have we become that credulous that we now believe "from the top, down" that we simply cannot politically recognize, what is good for us any longer -- that we are not to question or exercise critical thought (far more endangered, nowadays, it would appear, than a spotted owl)? What kind sheepish rationale is that for the city that protests most anything under the sun? What ever happened to "Quo custodiet ipso custodes?" I saw that freshly tattooed on the forearm of a coffee jerk downtown a few weeks back. Is that all that remains of that grand idea -- so much ink on reddened skin with a potential risk of hepatitis?