The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

How Smart Stupid People Fuck Up the World

Larry Summers, 2013

Larry Summers, 2013

One of the most aggravating things in the world, at least to me, are smart stupid people.

Think Larry Summers. IQ around 170, people who know him say he’s brilliant, and he’s been wrong about almost everything that mattered. Among his highlights, perhaps the most important was pushing to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which was perhaps the most important in causing the housing bubble and financial collapse.

If you don’t like IQ (and I understand and don’t want this to become an IQ debate) call it processing power. Some people have more of it, a lot more.

Being really smart, but being a bad thinker, just gets you to the wrong place faster. Worse it makes you more certain you are correct.

Being really smart, as smart people with a bit of insight realize in their teens or twenties at the latest, means never having to say “I was wrong.” You can almost always find a reason, a work-around, to maintain the opinion you wanted.

Oh, sometimes you are wrong about something you can’t quite deny, perhaps you predicted an election incorrectly. But in such cases you can still keep your model by finding something your model didn’t include, and shouldn’t have to. Think the bright lads and lassies behind Clinton’s campaign: “It was the Russians! They cheated! Our campaign should have won!” Never mind that they didn’t send Clinton or significant resources to the most important battleground states, which she lost by very low margins, and which their model considered “easy wins.”

Nope, they weren’t wrong and neither was their model, it was all Russians. (See “Everything Cost Clinton the Election.“)

So: Very smart means you get there faster, wherever there is, and that you almost never have to admit you’re wrong.

Bad, bad combination.

Further, our education system trains smart people to be authority-worshiping idiots. In school, you get the best marks for getting the answer teacher wants in the way teacher wants. You get kudos for being the kid seated at the front who puts up their hand first.

Get the approved answer fastest, in exactly the approved way.

So you learn models, and you execute them as you learn them. If the models are right, great, but the models are never right. (No, sorry, this is true in every social science and in the physical sciences–whenever you’re dealing with anything that doesn’t amount to engineering.)

Our educational system teaches people to be calculators, not thinkers–to run quickly through models and get the expected results from running the models. If the models are wrong, say, for example, people aren’t utility maximizers (if you could even figure out what that is) as opposed to rational decision makers, resources and sinks aren’t substitutable (think carbon sinks/aka. climate change, or soil) then running your models will run you (and society) off a cliff.

To revisit a prior analogy, processing power, or IQ, is the power of a motorcycle’s engine. Actual ability to think well is the skill of the rider. If you’re going down a freeway with no other vehicles, the only thing which matters is the power of the engine.

But if you’re going off-road, through twisty paths, with other vehicles all around, the skill of the rider becomes paramount. Without a skilled driver, all a good engine is going to do is make you crash sooner and worse (possibly taking other people with you.)

People get very confused about this. I have a good, smart friend who praises Dick Cheney for being a smart hard-worker. If even someone like him couldn’t get things to work…But Cheney was a smart person applying a number of world models. His model of how the bureaucracy and the US government worked worked with each other and how to in-fight and how to control a bureaucracy (government, or the contractors surrounding government) was brilliant and correct. His model of how the world outside that government-industrial complex worked was, well, almost completely wrong.

So he pushed to invade Iraq as part of a project to invade and remake the Middle East and it blew up in his face, because how he thought the world worked was wrong outside a narrow, but very important, area. (After all, being correct about how the world’s only superpower’s government and contractors work is powerful.)

How he thought successful societies work and are run, how he modeled what would happen in a power vacuum (when current Iraq elites were removed), and how he imagined what military force could and couldn’t do were all wrong. His larger context economic, political, and military models were all wrong.

This doesn’t mean he wasn’t brilliant. It doesn’t mean he didn’t have a lot of processing power. But in practice, in the world beyond his world, he was an absolute moron and everything he touched (that didn’t involve power in the Government-Industrial complex) blew up.

In the old days we used to call this Doctor Complex. Doctors make life and death decisions. They have a lot of authority (and had a lot more 30 to 60 years ago.) A good doctor in his field was a veritable God (surgeons have the worst cases of this complex). People hop when he or she says frog, and they save lives regularly.

So they tend to think because they are good at this, they are good at everything.

No one is good at thinking about everything. I’m not (I get electoral results wrong often enough I’m a contrary indicator). No one is.

The first part of being a first rate thinker, then, is knowing where you think well and where you don’t. The second part is knowing why. If you don’t know the conditions for your own good thought, then you don’t know when and where your models will fail. You see this all the time with “genius” traders or investors: Their model works in a particular type of market or economy, but when that changes, it doesn’t. They didn’t actually have a complete model, and, in many cases, they just had rules of thumb for which they didn’t understand the reasons.

Machiavelli made this a keystone of his political philosophy: You should change with the times, but most people won’t or can’t. When the conditions of their success go away, so does their success.

Processing power, absent understanding of how to think, including an understanding of the conditions of one’s own models, leads to disaster. You must understand what you were trained to do, as well, or like Summers and so many economists, you will be wrong about almost everything. Models exist to do things, and often what they exist to do is ideological–not to explain something, but to create something or justify something. Confusing those three functions will drive you off a cliff.

So, brains are good. Big bulging brains are wonderful. But like high explosives or big motorcycle engines, used incorrectly all they do is blow up in your face, or cause huge accidents,

Don’t rely too much on processing power. Learn how to think, and above all, learn about what you’re bad at thinking about. (Then, if you care enough, learn why and fix it.)

Money would be rather useful, as I don’t get paid by the piece. If you want to support my writing, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 24, 2019


The Lesson of Thanksgiving


  1. Lemonhead67

    Don’t you fall into this category friend? Remember you could have bought Bitcoin very cheap and wouldn’t be poor any more, the last time you posted it was “dead” (and good riddance)?

  2. Ian Welsh

    I modeled it incorrectly in the short term. We’ll see if I did in the long term. (And actually I held some BTC and ETH. But being poor I had to sell in order to pay rent. Poor people don’t get to play securities games. I could not have gotten rich buying it on the last dip, because I didn’t have enough money to.)

    Whether I did or not is irrelevant to the argument above, however, I never claimed to be good at modeling everything. If it turns out I did, I’ll admit it, just as I admit I’ve been wrong about electoral politics often.

    (I was one of the only people who got the financial crisis right publicly. But I got the timing wrong the first time based on the assumption the Fed would prick the bubble before it got too bad. I wasn’t wrong about the underlying dynamic. What is important is that I admitted the first error and corrected for it. That’s one of the points of the article. It’s not about never being wrong, it’s about correction.

    You might think carefully about why both myself and Nouriel Roubini don’t like BTC. It may be that we’re wrong, but we were both publicly right about the financial collapse before it happened. What you should be asking yourself is why we think it’s fucked, and if our reasons are incorrect. What are we modeling incorrectly? That’s the important question.)

    You’ve fallen into the modern capitalist version of Doctor mentality, by the way. It’s like people such as Bloomberg or Hoover, who think because they were good at one thing, they’ll be good at other things automatically. I’ve never been good at trading securities or speculative trading and I’ve never claimed to be.

    “I made a lot of money, therefore I am good at everything” and “since you didn’t make a lot of money you are bad at everything” might be the best encapsulation of why our society is a shitshow that I’ve read recently, however.

  3. KT Chong

    You assumed he had made those decisions out of stupidity. More likely, he made those decisions for personal gains and financial motives to benefit himself and his circles.

  4. Ian Welsh

    I know people who know Summers and whose judgment I trust. According to them, he really did believe. Now, of course, it’s possible there’s some subconscious corruption, but it wasn’t foremost, as I understand it.

  5. KT Chong

    You never know. You and those people who know Summer could not read his minds.

    I have observed a peculiarity about the rich people, those whom I have known and worked for in the past. They have a very warped sense of morality. Whatever that benefited them was considered good and moral. Whatever that did not, even if it benefited a lot more other people, was immoral.

    They rationalize morality around their selfish self-interest. When it comes to morality, they have a whole different frame of reference from the rest of us.

    “Their morals, their code, is a bad joke.”

    I imagine it must be the same way with how they use and view intelligence: whatever they could do to benefit and enrich themselves was smart. If they did something that benefited a lot, a lot, of other people but NOT themselves, then it was stupid of them to do so.

  6. KT Chong

    Just remember:

    The one thing the very rich are very, very, good at is lying and deception. That is how they get to be that rich in the first place.

  7. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    Umm, I would guess that M. Chong was referring to the Cheney example, not the Summers one; if so, you are WRONG AGAIN!!! 🙂

    Seriously, thank you for bringing this topic up for discussion. It includes many issues that I have been chewing over for a long time, because the thought process we employ determines almost everything we do, and because I have always been an analyst of one sort or another (mostly in the psychology, law, and financial market areas), and one must constantly examine the operation of one’s own mind when doing work in such areas to avoid falling prey to our own biases and limitations. I have been watching with chagrin the deterioration of the collective American mind for several decades now. It will be interesting to read the thoughts of some of the very smart people who are the reason why I keep coming here.

    I would start off by saying that one of the key problems I perceive is that people are too comfortable about ignoring the contradictions they are willing to live with. Living with a contradiction that you won’t acknowledge means that part of you is lying to another part of you.

    Also, Jimmy Carter was one of the greatest inspirations for me, because his “zero-based budgeting” model gave birth to my personal “zero-based reasoning” model, i.e., you may cite authority all you want, but if you can’t show me or I can’t show myself independently why the reasoning process behind any position makes sense here and now, then your ‘authority’ carries no weight with me. Corollary: If you can’t coherently articulate your position, then you don’t really understand it.

    A position based on reason must build on reliable facts, and one unreliable fact adopted early in the process calls into question every thought that is built atop the faulty fact. Too many make the error of taking a ‘quantum leap’ of faith to bridge the gap where they can’t find a reliable fact at a key point to support their argument, which makes their final position vulnerable to attack and deserving of rejection.

    A good thinker should always be more focused on being accurate than ‘winning’ any particular argument. The best teacher is any opportunity to correct one’s own mistakes, so such opportunities should be welcomed, rather than resented.

    It is much easier to identify a falsity than to be sure when you are embracing a pure truth; I try to avoid giving future credence to any sources that I catch trying to deceive me.

    There are so many layers to this topic–I hope the participation will be extensive. Thanks again for bringing it, Ian. Very, very timely, IMO.

  8. Hugh

    KT Chong, and class war is how the rich keep their wealth.

    Keynes, who was supposedly a pretty good investor, said markets could stay irrational longer than he could stay solvent. And another investor, Warren Buffett said in the run up to the 2008 meltdown that he no longer understood the markets.

    If you were around at the time, Ian was very good in the run up to this same crisis. So for that matter was I. Where I went wrong was that I couldn’t believe that the Fed would go the limit to bail out the bad actors by juicing asset prices.

    “Being really smart, but being a bad thinker, just gets you to the wrong place faster” pretty much says it all. I also liked, “Further our education system trains smart people to be authority worshiping idiots.”

    I think it explains a lot about Larry Summers to remember that he had two uncles, Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow, who won the sorta Nobel Prize in economics. In addition to the repeal of Glass-Steagall, Summers also pushed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which deregulated derivatives, both of which turned a really bad mortgage crisis into something that could take out the whole financial system. Summers set up a program through Harvard to help turn Russia into the corrupt oligarchical kleptocracy it became. He then was President of Harvard, had lots of scandals, got the Harvard Trust to invest in ways that would cost it billions, and eventually resigned. Summers is the quintessential Establishment type that no matter how badly he f*cked up has always managed to fail upward or land somewhere really, really comfortable.

  9. KM

    IQ and Wisdom are unrelated. Johnny Von Neuman had perhaps the highest recorded IQ and was a shit thinker too like Summers. He wanted to first strike the USSR. What a doofus.

  10. One of my longest running complaints [caveat: as a Mad Scientist and ahh… ~lapsed~ PhD candidate] about the interesting times we live in – no doubt aired here a time or two – is our tendency to treated doctors: medical doctors, juris doctors (lawyers), dentists… as paradigms of wisdom. No doubt pillars of their profession, none-the-less rote memorization, not unlike car mechanics and computer geeks. Very little room for ‘outside the box’.

  11. anon y'mouse

    knowing the right answer doesn’t mean you know what is real. it just means you can memorize.

    knowing what the teacher wants is a social skill, somewhat. even not-very-brainy people can do it. rapport helps.

    i think what you are looking for is “basic reasoning”, “logic” and “conceptualization”, and a big dose of what other fields call “risk management”. people who make mistakes and persevere are much better off than someone who always “knows” the right answer. but in our society, we are more focused on making people look and feel badly for blurting out the wrong thing instead of understanding where we went awry and trying to rectify things using reasoning skills, instead of just looking up what someone else has found to be “true”.

    btw, i doubt Cheney was the one who set his sights on Iraq. didn’t that come out of a whole complex of Stink Tanks and been batted around for years and years? i think this is a matter of he was the one holding the reigns and executing the plan, but he didn’t originate the plan and probably didn’t care that it was a faulty plan. the plan in that case was never what they said it was. it was outright destabilization. so you are holding him for a failure when the only job was to invade and make the place another craphole. he did his job, and made his company rich so he “won” on both counts. it just isn’t what the rest of us had in mind. but if you had been reading the things circling around, you would know absolutely what was coming there.

    don’t take shysters at their word. their real goals are never what is purported to be. i am no brainiac, but my inborn paranoia and distrust of authority (viewing nearly all as illegitimate, due to early upbringing experiences) has gotten me farther in reasoning than i normally would have. because instead of having to figure out what the teacher wanted, i had to figure out what the psychopath wanted or meet with dire repercussions. even this skill is limited. the rest of the world doesn’t operate this way (or didn’t. but it has been more and more often as years go on). so lessons learned in one context are so very often not the same toolkit you need with other situations. which may be why these people are stupid-smart. they figured out how to use one tool and it worked often enough that they got recognition for it, and were allowed to get better. but that’s just ONE tool. there are a ton of reasoning tools, and our society is very bad at teaching them.

  12. nihil obstet

    One of my problems with regarding Larry Summers and Dick Cheney as smart is that they remind me of the local honchos in a small town sitting around the country club bar after a round of golf agreeing on how to solve all the nation’s problems if the people in Washington just had any sense. The owner of the car dealership, the manager of the bank, the real estate king, and their buddies are convinced of their own brilliance. The people surrounding them think they’re smart, too. I assume it has to do with how financially successful they are in the small town pond. But I couldn’t get over it back in 2000. Bush and all the people surrounding him (the “grown-ups”) were indistinguishable from the guys pontificating in the 19th hole.

    I suspect that the people who report how smart these guys are are themselves inhabitants of a limited experiential range that constitutes a small town mentality.

  13. Rich

    From a doctor, I think, without a God complex after being supervised by RNs and certified nursing assistants over the past 14 years (not facetious and if the medical-care-partaking public only knew the extent of how debased the profession is involving their care), I have a question.
    What does it mean to say or write “he really did believe” with regard to Lawrence Summers?

  14. anon

    A lot of these “smart” people just came from well-off families who paid for top-notch education throughout their lives. As with most rich people who are well-educated and put some effort into getting good grades in school, they are book-smart, articulate, well-read, and can pass tests, but they are sheltered, ignorant, and stupid in every other aspect of life. I know plenty of these people. Got straight-A’s, high SAT scores, got into an Ivy league, and are adept at making money, but they fail at life. They can’t carry a conversation, aren’t interesting, can’t date, have horrible ideas that lean more conservative and libertarian than most of the public want to believe.

  15. highrpm

    he was just trying to help the clinton admin open the home ownership dream to the poor and disadvantaged. a worthy dream. an obvious path was to make lots more money available to lots more buyers. i think they were pretty creative. and pretty gutsy. and they had lots of smart people on board — e.g., james johnson. they tried. they failed. if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

  16. Ian Welsh

    The ability to show explicit reasoning isn’t always a good test of knowledge, I’m afraid. I’d like to think it was, but it isn’t.

    A good example I remember (though not the name of the guy) was a snake handler. There was a point where he always knew if a snake was going to strike. He was never wrong. But he couldn’t explain the reasoning.

    Still, if you ignored him, you’d get bit.

    I never ever called an election wrong until I got seriously involved in politics. I couldn’t have told you why, but I was always right. Now I can explain why I think X will win, and I’m wrong more often than right.

    I suggest looking at what people are right and wrong about, more than their reasoning. What’s the track record?

    Now this is tricky, because, again, conditions change. Someone may be good at predicting the market, say, then the type of market changes and they suck. (The market before Greenspan is different from the market after Greenspan. There are other changes, such as whether taxation favored stocks for raising funds or debt and blah, blah, blah.)

    That said, complete understanding should include the ability to explain. But people are rarely there, and people who can explain very clearly are often wrong or only conditionally right.

    It’s a genuinely hard problem.

  17. Ian Welsh

    Summers really did believe that what he did would not cause a financial bubble. Just Greenspan believed that markets are really self-regulating. They believed that Glass-Steagall was out-dated, harmful and unecessary. It created inefficiencies in the market which were harmful to ordinary people.

    Of course they believed this, it is what their ideology and their mathematical models told them.

    (Also, free-er trade is always good and always leads to more prosperity.)

  18. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    LOL I see my guess about M. Chong’s meaning was what was WRONG!!!

    I relied on my feeling that he was thinking that Cheney’s monetary motivations were easier to see and understand than Summers’.

    Silver lining–goes to show how very easy it is to misunderstand what is in someone else’s head at any given moment.

    In this case, it was just about a tease, but how often do we see the people around us doing the same thing, i.e., not being uncertain enough when there are multiple plausible scenarios worth considering, about matters that are deadly serious? Ability to admit error as soon as you recognize such is so important.

    My bad, carry on. 🙂

  19. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    Sorry, I should have qualified further–I meant one should be able to articulate his reasoning process in situations where his conclusion is presented as being something reason/logic based; that would exclude your snake-handling example, and lots of other intuition- or experience- based situations. I would also qualify that the explainer would be competent with the language being used lol.

    I have lots of experience with the kinds of situations where you eventually know what works, so you work it without really knowing why it works. Many of the tricks of the kind of trading I do are of that nature, while others are based on principled and precise reasoning that I could clearly explain. In court, only the latter kinds of rightness would be useful lol.

    We may be looking at this on slightly different frequencies. I am focused more on the nature of how we must personally train our minds to become and remain accurate, perceptive, and effective. I did not choose my screen name by accident, I just really believe it is a continuous process demanding ongoing discipline and commitment, and an understanding that what we know is always dwarfed by what we don’t know yet. And a resultant process that reaches for perfection while knowing it will never be achieved. That at best, we will have to settle for excellence.

  20. Stirling S Newberry

    The problem with many smart people, however defined, is that they have three problems: they think everyone is as smart as they are, they believe no one is as smart as they are, and they get wrong about what is which.

    Example of the first (from a talk by Larry Summers): before the last recession, he was convinced that since monetary and fiscal policy were loosened, that all would be fine. He had me convinced – for two days. Then I asked myself “If I were reasonably bright, what would I invest in?” The answer was real estate. I knew that was a bad call. Lesson: if everyone did the smart thing John Maynard Keynes would have worried about “animal spirits.”

    Example Two: once everything started to got to hell, people double down. Rather than say “I was wrong.” Lesson: people would rather throw money away than admit to being wrong. Go visit a mall.

    Example Three: Our President wants more pollution, largely because fossil fuels were the great investment of the past. Lesson: the past has the money, but we don’t live there.

  21. Tony

    “Summers really did believe that what he did would not cause a financial bubble. Just Greenspan believed that markets are really self-regulating. They believed that Glass-Steagall was out-dated, harmful and unecessary. It created inefficiencies in the market which were harmful to ordinary people.

    Of course they believed this, it is what their ideology and their mathematical models told them.”

    And Dick Cheney might have believed his lies too. Believeing your own lies makes life easier and reduces cognitive dissonance. That is what is taught at school, you need to tell the teacher what she wants to hear, but using your own words. The best students are those that learn to sincerely adopt the beliefs that benefit them.

    None of this blew up in their faces. Greenspan was a hero and is still rich. Cheney had $90 million five years ago, probably a lot more today. These are not bad thinkers, they are probably better than you. It’s just that their actual goals have nothing to do with their stated goals.


    I enjoyed this article and and it goes with my observations in my 60 plus years. Most people do small stupid things and smart (IQ) people do big stupid things. When oil was raging over 100 dollars a hedge fund I was associated with had a huge short Canadian dollar position. I didn’t know about this and found out after the loss was taken. Everyone who made this position were MBAs from top schools. I explained they needed a kid from Brooklyn on their team who barely finished high school who would explain that (at the time) how do you short a currency whose major export is oil. Smart IQ doesn’t mean you have common sense and street smarts. If you do you become a billionaire.

  23. StewartM

    Ian, in many ways I concur with you, save that I believe that ‘getting the ‘right answer’ in an academic environment, which you correctly describe as what is rewarded as ‘smart’ in one’s schooling, isn’t truly smart. I see a very imperfect correlation between academic achievement and real-world achievement, especially when the ‘real world achievement’ is tied to real invention and accomplishments (no, becoming the next CEO, or the next CNBC financial guru, or self-help guru doesn’t cut it in my book). This correlation would probably be even poorer if people who made good grades and went to the ‘right schools’ didn’t have oodles of opportunities thrown at them, even after they’ve spectacularly failed several times.

  24. Ed

    You sort-of exempted Engineering from your list of areas where the models are wrong. It doesn’t get a pass. All engineering models are approximations too.

    The major difference between engineering, when practiced correctly, is good engineers build prototypes to test their models. They then modify their models to be consistent with the test results before building the final unit(s).

    Bad engineers, often driven by cost/schedule/non-engineering reasons, go straight to the final units. That’s the source of failures, more often than not.


    Our entire abstracted reality is an approximation at best so it’s not just the models of various disciplines. The world we’ve created for ourselves, insulated as it is from the primal and visceral vicissitudes of nature, is a mentally modeled abstraction and a poor approximation of the reality of the universe at large. We live a lie. But not for long in the scheme of things, and civilization is a scheme. Human’s time, a mere insignificant happenstance that doesn’t even show as a blip on the radar of the universe, is coming to an end. Human was an evolutionary mistake and thankfully civilization is the suicide switch meant to shut it off and down.

    As I’ve said, the emperor has no clothes and America is now on a path to direct, autocratic, oligarchic rule where the oligarchs rule us directly from the pulpit/throne rather than indirectly via the purchase of government and governors. Trump has ushered in this age and now Bloomberg is running with it. Considering that, like Ian has exhorted related to climate change, it’s a matter of fact that cannot be altered at this point so you may as well accept it and operate within the confines of this unalterable fact. As such, if it’s a choice between Trump or Bloomberg, and it very well may be, I have to go with Bloomberg.

  26. Ché Pasa

    Critical thinking was eliminated from most US educational endeavours starting in the mid/late 1960s and accelerating after the 1980s. The impetus for doing away with teaching or even knowing what critical thinking is was the public prominence of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in 1964. That led, inevitably, to the world-wide student revolt that in many cases was driven by critical thinkers (as well as firebrands.)

    Dovetailing with the Civil Rights Movement rooted in ideals of social justice and the counterculture movement rooted in ideals of liberation and community, those in authority panicked. The insight of the first Reagan administration in California (c. 1967) was that the problem was education. Students were learning the wrong things, such as history, civics, critical thinking, arts and so forth. All that needed to be squeezed out of public education at the very least, ideally expelled from all education. How to do it was the question.

    The answer they implemented was Administration. Overloading (and overlording) public education with administrators and administrative goals — some of which appeared to reflect the goals of the rebels in the streets — proved a very effective way to curtail undesirable educational activities. It worked like a charm, and it still does. The lessons learned have been applied widely ever since.

    Recently I became aware of a class being taught at a nearby college called “Critical Thinking,” something most of the students had never in their lives been exposed to. They had no idea how to approach this topic, but worse, perhaps, was that what was being taught were specific matters students were expected to be critical of rather than means and methods of engaging in the process of thinking critically about knowledge and the world around them. The class in essence was a means of further polarizing an already deeply divided community.

    I doubt anyone learned to think critically in that class, but they did learn approved matters to criticize, so there is that!

    So much of what goes wrong in our world is due to the inability of those in authority to think critically. Perhaps they never did, or if they ever did, they’ve forgotten. Power and corruption rule. No sense of public interest or duty. Those who say or believe the right things rise like scum to the top.

    Those who ask questions? Well, you know the answer, don’t you?


    If Fox News is saying this and reporting it, you know they’re running scared. This is all the indication you need that Bloomberg can beat Trump IF he plays his cards right. He needs to use Trump-like tactics but in a classy, intelligent, sophisticated manner. He has to be willing to tear the other Democratic candidates to shreds. He needs to leave blood on the floor but in a way to where it can only be detected by Luminol for those, unlike me, who don’t already have Luminol Vision.

    Bloomberg 2020

    MOBA — Make Oligarchy Benevolent Again

    I can’t wait for the smart stupid people to tell me I’m wrong.

  28. Off Topic: “Assad gassed his own people” in Douma hoax is falling apart. That means that the Democrat fixers will want to do all in their power to keep Tulsi Gabbard off the stage of the next Democratic debate.

    “Tucker Carlson does the unthinkable: Reports on OPCW hoax that almost pushed world to war”

  29. John

    The ancients understood and elevated Wisdom to the level of diety. They were familiar with the quick and clever and generally recognized that as Trickster.
    Wisdom has no place in the modern world while the countless Tricksters run amok.
    Trickster is the God of the neoliberal marketplace. Many of us will overshoot the Wily Coyote cliff and crash on the rocks below. Basic human morality tale.

  30. Willy

    I once worked for a “world class” engineering place where the smart stupid Dear Leader got fired for chasing ass (at least officially). Not to be outdone, his replacement then proceeded to get fired for doing the exact same thing. Of course people at that level cannot be “fired” but must be per$uaded to vacate their desks. So it wasn’t a complete tragedy for them.

    About Mr. Summers, all of this of course assumes that he was one of the more ethical smart stupids, using his semi-disciplined mental horsepower to rationalize teh stupid, and wasn’t being influenced by any lobby persuasions. We see so much of the latter these days.

  31. Z

    I’m in the Summers is flat out corrupted camp. He denies that anyone could have anticipated the economic crash of 2008, when he certainly heard arguments of that sort prior to the “crisis”. It doesn’t prove that he wasn’t taken by surprise with it, but it does provide proof of his duplicity because there is no way he wasn’t aware of its possibility, and also demonstrates his desire to cover his ass with lies.


  32. Z

    Of course, opinions for hire like Summers are going to continue to deny that they are sellouts and they somehow weren’t even aware that the possibility of a housing/market/economic crash existed. What’s the alternative: to admit they are brains for hire which would destroy their marketing power and usefulness to the elites with the added bonus of being known as a fraud to the public?

    No, they’ll hunker down and deny it all. It’s worked out well for themselves so far.

    The Clintonites are well aware that they are at fault for their meal ticket’s loss to Trump. That’s why they fight so hard to try to conceal and deflect the fault.


  33. Anon y’mouse writes that “knowing what the teacher wants is a social skill.” Absolutely correct. Wisdom is also a social skill. As a first approximation, I’d say the core of that skill is humility. Tragically, the loudest voices tend to be the most foolish.

    We usually see “smarts” or “intelligence” as a property of the individual. This individualistic bias leads us to too much credit to processing power, to use Ian’s term, and too little to the social dimension of wisdom.

    Our minds are not confined to our brains. We are greater. And vulnerable for that: when a loved one dies, so does part of us. The processing power of one cannot compete with the collaboration of many. Often that collaboration is mediated, particularly through books. A first way that thinking is social.

    If one thinks of “social” as encompassing non-human relationships, then experience and empirical evidence have social dimensions to them. We moderns may think of the non-human world as largely thoughtless, but I suspect at a basic level that’s not how we really feel and relate to it. Dialog with empirical reality is a kind of social relation. Even if you don’t go that far, Kuhn argues that science is ultimately social in that what counts as evidence is a social (not objective rational) determination. A second way that thinking is social.

    We are innately susceptible to social pressure to the point where it can lead us to believe things we know to be false. The capacity to resist that pressure – to disagree with the teacher – is a social skill. But this casts shade on the value of humility: for the man who refuses to acquiesce is probably not too humble. To be wise, one must be able to be humble: but also know when not to be. Wisest of all is he who is able to weave together the counsel of others. A third way that thinking is social.

    I seem to have ended up defining wisdom as a kind of leadership. Not the debased idea of leadership as power exerted, but the more traditional understanding (e.g. in tribal societies where the chief leads only so long as he has respect) of leadership as power suspended. One must possess the security to be able to stand apart from the views of others, the humility to listen to them, and the confidence to be wrong.

    In era of extreme individualism, being the rebel who rejects the crowd might seem to be enough – as might the humility to reject individualism. I suspect neither is enough. And I have a tough time thinking of anywhere that we teach the balance of these things. Has it always been so?

  34. anon y'mouse

    education has entered Scholasticism again, at this point.

    we are not teaching people to reason. not even when i was going. we are teaching people to copy. from “certified” authorities.

    even, and especially in academia. you have to reason forth from all of the previous examples and not contradict them. if you think you have found something that contradicts them, they will go even worse on you, and you won’t be published/tenured/etc.

    i always say that i never want to sit in on a speech, discussion or talk where everyone in room is constantly nodding their heads in agreement. it means we are all going down the road to hell. the part which fails is something none of us is considering, or have all decided to view a “certain” way.

    one needs contrarians, and people who find flaws and figures out how to rectify them. our desire to fall in with the herd doesn’t help us to know that there is a cliff over the horizon, nor a wolf behind those trees.

    one thing that my upbringing taught me is that anyone that has enough power to be above you is a potential wolf, regardless of how polite they are or how well rationalized their reasoning process is. when push comes to shove, whether they are right or not has almost nothing to do with it. it is that they have control.

  35. Willy

    Speaking of divining that balance between personal responsibility and social responsibility in a world of never-before-seen populations and technologies, we find Harvard PhDs like Bill Kristol.

    In a better world he’d be seeking counsel on the Dr. Phil show, bemoaning being catcalled “Dr. Wrong” and “useful idiot” everywhere he goes. But we don’t live in that world. In this world we get to see him on MSNBC panels being treated like an esteemed colleague.

    I don’t watch opinion news anymore.

  36. ricardo2000

    I agree with the idea ‘stupid smart people’ being dangerous as a result of social construction of success, individual value, and social benefit. Lemonhead67 makes this mistake: money as the measure of all success when wealth is contingent on family connections, social status and inherited riches, more than rare skill or special insight. I suspect he believes Mozart and Van Gogh deserved pauper’s burials and the contempt of their larger society. This primary misconception is rooted in CONservative political myths: society exists as result of individual efforts, or even Thatcher’s shallow, arrogant contempt, ‘Society doesn’t exist.’ This attitude makes it easy for the 1% to exploit society. Make no mistake the 1% do not create or build, they are bandits pillaging valuable organizations until they collapse (downsizing, pollution, Global Financial Crisis, excessive militarism and police control, financial wealth creation).

    The obvious solution to misguided, selfish, arrogant intelligence is team work. Team work and community cooperation are the secret sauce that makes a smart person the valuable person.

    Team work multiplies the power of intelligence with experiences of the many. Insights come from anyone, anywhere, sometimes with just a casual aside. Shining more lights, from many angles, on a problem removes shadows of ignorance. Team work makes overgeneralizing from individual, singular success much harder. Implementation is much improved as team resources always exceed that of any individual. Less than arrogant intelligence can recognize these resources and avoid ‘god complex’ failures. Make no mistake, every activity in a mass society civilization depends on team work. No civilization has existed without a team sport exemplifying individual excellence and self-sacrifice that depends on team support extending to the broad community.

    Community cooperation adds further resources in scale and kind as other intelligences are brought to bear. Misguided attempts can be adjusted to suit community goals. Prejudices can be judged and overturned to meet challenges.
    Otherwise, the intelligent are just basement cranks, or suffer from the ‘Cassandra Effect’: correct, but ignored or derided.

  37. ven

    I read a book called ‘Disciplined Minds’ many years ago. The point it made is that the more senior you got in academia (and it clearly is not different in business), the more you had conformed to a certain way of thinking. If you did not think within certain acceptable parameters in the first place, you were unlikely to get promoted.

    So, taking the example of Cheney and Summers, they may have been ‘smart’ in the sense of their ability to think rapidly within learned constraints within which our current society functions, and which therefore got them promoted to high office. And, of course, the mix of right connections / relationships and luck to get them there.

    McNamara was reputed to have brought a scientific management style to run Ford, and then to the War Department to subjugate Vietnam. He instituted a MI dashboard of bombs dropped, etc to prosecute the war. But for all of his smarts, he could not see that the Vietnam War was an atrocious act of imperialism. His smarts basically just helped him to climb the ladder within an established system / pattern of thinking.

    None of these people are really smart: to be able to think out of those constraints, out of the proverbial box. ‘Smart’ is over-rated. It just means you have learned how to play human-constructed systems well. Wisdom is what is missing.

  38. Hugh

    Re Cheney, Summers, our privileged and elites in general, if they believed in what they were doing, there is a presumption that they were acting in good faith, only wrong or mistaken. This is categorically untrue. I often use the example of the SS officer engaged in mass killings. It is immaterial what he believed. He was acting in bad faith. There are two points here. First, this is not arbitrary. It’s commonsense. There needs to be some minimum bar which we hold ourselves and all others too as well. Second, the higher the level of power or responsibility, the higher that bar becomes. So Cheney, Summers, our privileged and elites, act in bad faith. It is not about what they think they know, about what they believe, it is about what they should have known and how they should have acted, given their status in our society and that they are members of that society. By not holding them to account, we encourage them and their successors to act with impunity.

  39. someofparts

    ” ‘Smart’ is over-rated. It just means you have learned how to play human-constructed systems well. Wisdom is what is missing.”

    Smart is easy to monetize. Wisdom, not so much.

  40. Stirling S Newberry

    The rich smart people tend to remain rich. There first in line for the bail-out party. Some of them have large tracts of land, if you know what I mean, but all of them have friends who do.

  41. davidly

    Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by indifferent maliciousness, Machiavellian or not. Especially if the agent in question can, not unlike Mike Damone, accurately claim that no matter what happens, their toes are still tappin’. Y’know, the whole ‘feature not a flaw’ thing?

  42. bruce wilder

    Did Summers advocate for financial deregulation because he “believed in it” ideologically, or did he adopt the ideology because doing so made him useful to the powerful and therefore powerful?

    I see Summers as deeply ambitious and using his smarts to get himself cast in powerful roles. In those roles, he has arguably not acted very responsibly, at least as far as the general welfare is concerned. If he has an identifiable ideological belief to guide him, I would say he believes in corruption, which is to say that he believes apparently in the predator-prey model of political economy and that the predators should be given a modicum of scope to innovate because in some vague way predation drives the economy dynamically forward. Believing in corruption is, in addition to being an intellectual belief or ideology of sorts, also convenient and instrumentally useful to the pursuit of his personal ambitions as it allows him to use his smarts to make himself politically useful to the predator class.

    Among famous economists, Summers contrasts strongly with the figure of James Galbraith, who also benefited in his career from his family legacy, but who has chosen to be idealistic and to speak out against corruption.


    I love the smell of smart stupid people criticizing smart stupid people in the morning, don’t you?

  44. realitychecker


    I don’t agree with a lot of what you post, but I do think your paragraph above about the essential nature of mental modelling is on target, and would just extend that POV to include the issue of having to use words which are themselves imperfect models of the thoughts they are meant to convey. I think communication would be greatly improved if people were more aware of the power and limitations of linguistics. Or used such awareness with more good faith, seeing the manipulations of others as being only as unacceptable as the ones they themselves know how and apparently like to use.

    @ Ian

    Sorry, but count me among those who find you too generous in appraising folks like Summers and Cheney. Since Reagan ‘viralized’ the “I wasn’t being evil, just stupid’ defense, I have great suspicion for those who achieve great wealth and power by virtue of their supposed stupidity, a defense that never gets raised until after they get caught.

    Others have well addressed the Summers side, let me address the Cheney side. And I won’t even touch the part that is about his ability to profit from a war on the ground in the Middle East that he sought openly in the plans for such an invasion that were formalized in the 1997 Project for a New American Century (PNAC). As a trader, it has always amazed me that nobody at the time ever mentioned the obvious fact that any military action on the ground in the ME was inevitably going to massively increase the price of oil world-wide, due to increased risk to production and distribution from ME sources; the 1990 invasion showed that dynamic quite clearly. However, oil is priced on a world-wide basis, which means that even our domestic producers, who ran ZERO increased risk from ground fighting in the ME, would experience windfall profits from a ground fight in Iraq, despite having no increased risk or costs of production. Thus, domestic producers and their investors were guaranteed a bonanza windfall immediately, regardless of how the war actually turned out.

    Gee, I wish I could have ever been in a position to profit from such ‘stupidity.’

    When we allow such folks to tout their ‘genius’ on the way up, but self-excuse when they get caught on the basis that they were not such geniuses after all, perhaps the minimum sanction should be that they forfeit all the money they made by ‘mistake’?

    Or would that be too mean?

    Don’t we need to get more real about the function of punishment in controlling bad behavior?

  45. bruce wilder

    Let us give thanks for how simply stupid most of us are about who and what is smart.

  46. I don’t recall the exact quote, but it is something about the impossibility of making someone understand something when his wealth or position of power utterly depends upon his complete inability to understand it.

    Intelligence or wisdom does not enter into that issue, only survival is at stake in such a case.

  47. realitychecker

    Nobody is smart all the time about all things.

    We can be geniuses in areas we concentrate on, and foolish or simply ignorant about other areas we have not studied.

    We can make stupid emotional choices based on psychological neediness rather than rational judgments.

    There is a lot of nuance to judging intelligence. My bottom line is, nobody is in a better position to make sure our minds stay well calibrated than we ourselves are. Which is why I place the greatest emphasis on the importance of constant reality-checking of our own mental functioning and decision-making. When I get something wrong, my practice is to chew it over relentlessly until I satisfy myself that I understand where I went wrong and what I could have done differently to get a better result, or even to be sure that no other course of action would have produced a better result (in which case, the very decision to become engaged in that situation would become understood to have been the error lol). I know I would rather improve my own accuracy than ‘prove’ I was right about something I actually got wrong. I don’t know why I see that attitude so infrequently in most others, but that is where we are.

    Reality-checking used to be something the aware folks universally recognized as a good and virtuous thing. Nowadays, folks seem to get riled up by merely seeing the phrase. That defensiveness tell us a lot about what we have been turned into over the last 50 years.

    Everybody has an opinion, and most stink (like a-holes lol), but today, we are told that every opinion is equally valuable. How fucked up is that, really?

  48. realitychecker

    I’ll just make one more point, and then start enjoying the holiday as I hope all here will also enjoy it.

    Our minds do a great job of evaluating data, but they do need us to expose them to the data. I used to be a fiery progressive, uncomfortably so according to the other progressives; Obama helped open my eyes.

    Now, I often ask overt Trump haters where they get their info from, and they can usually list a slew of sources, proudly, but they are all left-wing sources. I ask, “Ever go to any right-wing sources?” and they look at me like I am crazy for asking. They seem confirmed in that belief when I point out that their favorite sources don’t seem to ever include competent rebuttal voices anymore.

    Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine in 1984. The message: Buy the media, control the minds with propaganda. And that is what happened. Lawyers and modern liars use similar tactics, in that they leave out the facts that undermine their own positions. In court, that’s OK, because another licensed pro is right there to tell the judge what was left out, and vice versa.

    But in public dialogue, if no adversarial voice is present, the liars-by-omission win every time.

    So, let me tout Tucker Carlson for a moment. My gorge rises whenever I hear Hannity or Limbaugh’s voices, can’t turn them off fast enough, and used to be same with Carlson, but he has grown up, and he always has an opposing voice to debate him, unlike CNN or MSNBC, for example.

    I check other sources as well, but I mention Tucker because right now he is among the best available, IMO (not on abortion, drugs, or some other things!) in terms of fair discussion, and we could all use more of that.

    Specifically I recommend viewing his mid-show segment from last night, November 27, where he discusses lying in a very perceptive way, with good and compelling video illustrations.

    Getting good data from varied sources is the best way to get smart results.

    Have a great holiday, everyone. I am thankful for Ian and this forum he provides for thoughtful discussions. Too rare, so even more precious.

  49. scruff

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    ― Upton Sinclair

  50. DMC

    ““It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    Upton Sinclair


    Larry Summers along with Bill Clinton should have been put before a firing squad for this and yet they not only run free but are also exalted in certain circles. As well, Harvard needs to be shut down as an institution and its endowment confiscated and put to constructive use. Harvard, and all the Ivy League schools for that matter, do more harm than any good they may do. Their time is up, or it should be. They should be shamed and put out to pasture. Their legacy is a legacy of beyond-the-pale exploitation and corruption.


    Now, I often ask overt Trump haters where they get their info from…

    I’m not a Trump hater (I won’t give him that energy) but I do find him deplorable and loathsome. He disgusts me as a pedophile disgusts me.

    Either way, I get my info from Trump from his Twitter account and watching 5 minutes of his rallies until I become nauseous. Trump doesn’t hide who and what he is. There’s no need for left-leaning sources. Trump is his own criticism for all to see. He’s the guy who comes to a party and shits in the middle of the room. What’s hilarious, and tragic and f*cked up, is watching smart stupid people defend that. People like you. Check your reality some more because you obviously didn’t check it thoroughly enough when it comes to Trump.

  53. realitychecker

    Get back to me when you have an actual fecal sample from Trump as a guest anywhere to submit as evidence that you are dealing with reality in your recitation of facts..

    Until then, I’ll just mark you down as Undecided. 🙂

  54. Willy

    Trump is getting right wingers to reconsider the true source of the Chinese economic miracle, which seems a good thing. And Trump is also getting right wingers to question the wisdom of any more incredibly expensive military incursions into Islamic lands.

    Of course that may not be saying much. Had Hillary publicly turned Republican and slammed her former party, most right wingers would’ve worshiped her every bit as blindly as they do Trump.


    Willy, Trump is doing no such thing. Trump is getting right wingers to support direct oligarchical rule versus indirect. Trump is getting right wingers to support transforming America into Russia or Ukraine. Did the Dems help conjure and enable this predicament? Yes. I’m convinced the Dems threw the election to Trump. What I cannot quite figure yet is why. It must mean something much more terrible is in store for us in order for them to run this risky gambit. I watched Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 the other day and when put in proper perspective it’s clear the Dems threw the election to Trump and then blamed it on the Russians. This should be extremely unnerving to all of us. It has to mean something huge and awful is coming our way to implement such a wild and radical gambit. If we don’t collectively depose the oligarchy NOW, we’re toast. Trump is a tool. He’s a foil and happy to be one because any publicity is good for this con man self-promoting Troll In Chief.

  56. Willy

    Trumps supplicants would make him king if there was a Jerusalem temple in the deal. And oligarchs just want more freedom to do as they please, especially freedom from consequences. But Trump may be getting some of the supplicants think, for once. Not that they matter. Most potential voters are the young, female, working class and minority.

  57. different clue

    Why did the Clintobamacrats throw the election to Trump? To make sure that no Sanders-figure or Gabbard-figure would ever get elected.

    Why will the Clintobamacrats throw election 2020 to Trump? To make sure that no Sanders-figure or Gabbard-figure can get elected.

    What could ever change the basic reality of what the Clintobamacratic Party is today? A very total and detailed purge of every piece of Clintobamacrat fecal matter from off of every surface and out of every crevice and corner of the Democratic Party. Unless and until the Clintobamas are purged, burned and exterminated from out of the Democratic Party, the future is Trump after Trump after Trump . . . as far as the eye can see.

  58. Willy

    dc, I think you’re projecting. Frustrated Bernies made up a small percentage of Trump voters. I’m speaking of the many highly tribalized evangelicals who I know personally, who believe that Trump is some kind of miracle from God. They are his unwavering base. And they are hardly populist in any sort of working class way. Clinton and Obama are socialists to them.

    IMHO, Trump has been extremely effective in using childish smears and binary argumentation against his opponents. I’ve known for a long time that taking the high road or debating from lofty ivory towers means very little for today’s working class voter. They don’t care and just want change. I find it interesting (and disconcerting) that Trumpian strategies are so effective.

  59. Ian Welsh

    Fewer Bernie supporters voted Trump than Clinton supporters voted Romney. It was a non-factor, except for the fact it was so close everything mattered. But it would be irrational to not expect a few to go Trump: what made Bernie a good candidate was precisely that he did peel off Trump supporters, people Clinton could not get.

  60. somecomputerguy

    I would like to offer an alternative hypothesis.

    We have abundant unimpeachable evidence for the (ordinary) stupid things that come out of Larry THE BRILLIANT\’s (henceforth, LTB) mouth.

    What exactly is the evidence for his brilliance?

    We should keep in mind here that LTB has been in a position to steal an endless quantity of new ideas with impunity from the grad students at his mercy during his career. So within his discipline, this needs to be a high bar. So let\’s be generous.

    What innovations or dynamism did LTB bring to the organizations he led, such that they noticibly over-performed under his tenure?

    What contribution to public life has LTB made, that would warrant a public statue, or even the humble gratitude of the rest of us?

    I spent my the majority of my working life among senior tenured academics at a major research university. About fifteen years after I started, my boss was awarded a Nobel Prize.

    I have met legions of the brilliant. Please allow me to inform you, that there is no such thing.

    In my entire life I have also met a tiny, tiny number of genuine smart people, people who really do seem to be able to learn new things faster than the rest of us.
    None of the ones I am sure of were academics, and almost the only thing they all had in common was that not a single one of them tried to tell me how smart they were.

    Academics are a special case when it comes to \”brilliance\”. Pretending to be smarter than you really are is actually a part of their professional training. There are two things you learn from that 10,000-page-a-week reading list; that there is no greater taboo than admitting ignorance, and how to fake every visual and rhetorical cue associated with comprehension.

    Since I worked in IT, this was a real problem for me. My Nobelist would look me dead in the eye, and nod gravely while I explained something, and I would believe. Even though I knew at the same time intellectually, they had not a clue.

    Ironically, within their profession, academics are simply the most gullible, credulous group I have ever seen. If you have a Ph. D., you can basically say anything outside the listeners\’ expertise, and you don\’t even have to make a case.

    When someone volunteers that they speak five languages, it is a good idea to wonder \”how well?\” but a better question is \”so what?\”.

    We do not have an explanation for sleep. We cannot directly diagnose an injured mind, nor heal one when we do. That is the state of our current understanding of the mind. But we can tell you within a decimal point how good a mind you have? Really?

    The concept \”intelligence\” is an embarrassment as a scientific concept, but a stunning success as tool for legitimation of elite status. It is fundamentally rotten.

    Albert Einstein was born with enough brain damage that it significantly delayed his development as a child. In most accounts this is either ignored or actually made to sound like a superpower.
    I think it\’s a lot more likely that If he had been born with a fully functional brain, it wouldn\’t have taken him ten years from the special theory to the general theory. Still, a \”mentally retarded person\” figured out relativity.

    There are no brilliant people. There are only brilliant ideas, and anyone, anyone at all can have them.

  61. Maarl

    \”You must understand what you were trained to do, as well, or like Summers and so many economists, you will be wrong about almost everything.\”

    \”Thirdly, neural nets are “myopic”. They can see the trees, so to speak, but not the forest. \”

  62. realitychecker

    @ somecomputerguy

    Interesting comment, and I think I agree with most of it.

    But let me highlight the part I think you left out, a part nobody ever seems to consider worthy of mention. Ignorance is a taboo if admitted among the academics, true enough, but superior intelligence is actually what is treated as a taboo among the general populace, which makes most truly superior minds into very lonely, one might even say alienated, entities.

    Think for a moment about what it might be like for a truly superior intellect to have to be always surrounded by inferior minds. Jews have historically been hated for supposed superior intelligence, hell, they used to kill black folks for learning to read. I keep hearing about book-smart kids getting bullied in schools. Follow that thought path a ways.

    There’s a fear that comes from being perceived as smarter, and also a despair that one can’t share one’s best thoughts with those not equipped to even understand what is meant, nor can one expect those around him to be able to teach him anything new or useful in areas that he already excels in.

    Yet almost all people the gifted meet will act as though THEY are the smartest person in any room. Worse, the gifted may be viewed as weird or even slow because the don’t parrot the same conventional wisdoms as others. How do you think that would make the truly
    gifted feel, to have that as the norm in their daily experience?

    I think that is a real problem for the holders of truly superior intellects, that maybe deserves as much attention as we currently give to those who seek gender re-assignment, for example. They may, in fact, be the last victim class to be recognized, due to these factors. Food for thought?

    But let me say, at the same time, that most high-performance minds seem to have only a few areas where they are so outstanding, and they can and will be foolish in areas they have not actively studied enough to know the relevant background facts. Especially when it comes to emotional issues. Superior information processing, pattern recognition, memory, fact analysis, and inferential thinking seem to me to be the key elements to be found in truly gifted minds. That in no way guarantees wisdom in all areas.

  63. Sid Finster

    Power is to sociopaths what catnip is to cats.

    Learn well The Iron Law of Oligarchy and the Iron Law of Institutions.

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