Imagine a hypothetical where the experts are wrong. Yes, I know how difficult that must be to grasp, but try. Suppose there is a disconnect between what actual people in the real world do and what the experts say the people should do. Naturally, the difference can’t be due to an error by the experts so it must be due to the people. They are too stupid to know what is in their own best interests. If only they would be guided by the wisdom of their betters, everything would be alright.
STRANDED ON THE MOON
I first became aware of the shortcomings of the experts at some corporate retreats/training programs. There we were, a group of strangers gathered together to learn from the experts. As part of the training in one exercise we were divided into smaller groups of probably ten people each. The problem posed to us was that we were stranded on the moon (pre-Matt Damon on Mars) or at another training session in the desert. We were never stranded on an island after a three hour cruise.
The instructors then gave each group a list of 20 items. They asked us to rank the items based on their potential contribution to our survival. After a short time, each group presented its rankings to the collective group. Then the instructors compared our rankings to those of the experts.
One of the 20 items was a gun. I always ranked it last. I always was outvoted. The experts also ranked it higher. On the moon, the gun’s recoil could propel someone across a crevice. In the desert, the sound of the gunshot might attract the attention of the search party.
At this point, I suspect some of you have realized the absurdity of the expert opinion in the real world. Even Hollywood knows such expertise flunks the reality test. In the real world, the gun represents power. Assuming the existence of alpha males in the group or mean girls/queen bees, the gun meant there would be a battle to control it and therefore the group. It would not be used to propel someone across a crevice or to attract searchers, it would be used to kill or threaten to kill someone. Maybe at some point there would be a struggle for the gun, the good guy would prevail, fire the last bullet to get the attention of the searchers just before they disappeared over the horizon, and get the girl but that was not what the experts had in mind. Interestingly, I never proposed giving one person the gun and another person the bullets but as I recall the exercise did not allow for such creativity. Anyway, the lesson learned was that people may be experts in the lab without knowing squat in the real world.
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS (2004)
The book What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank was another exercise in false expertise. The thrust of the book was to resolve the dilemma of why so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests. There had to be something wrong with these people since culture war issues trumped their economic and social concerns. It would be like supporting candidates who consistently favored tax cuts for the rich while giving you nothing. How could people be so dumb as to be shafted again and again while cheering the very people who exploited them? What’s the matter with these people?
The publication date of 2004 is most revealing. That election year was the last time and only time in the Baby Boomer Era a Republican presidential candidate won a majority vote. If it was written say a year before the publication date, then it was five years before Sarah Palin called for taking back the country and 13 years before the then long-time Democrat and Clinton supporter conned Republicans into thinking he cared about the little people the elitists fly over. To put those years in perspective, it means the Democrats had 13-year notice on the 2016 election and learned nothing during the interim except to pour more oil on the fire. Still it is questionable whether or not the Democrats have learned that there is nothing wrong with the people of Kansas except the way they have been treated by the elitists.
THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION
With Civil War, the smug superiority of the condescending arrogant self-righteous elitists really shines through. Everyone knows the war was really about slavery. Everyone knows the claim abut state’s rights was just a smokescreen for the real cause of maintaining slavery. Everyone knows that the proponents of the Lost Cause are really backwards subhuman racists who should not be welcomed in polite society.
Now try listening. Confederates call the war the “War of Northern Aggression.” Why? Maybe they assigned that name to the conflict because it genuinely expresses how they felt. Just as we know from feminists that rape is about power and not sex, so we should consider that for the Confederates, the war also was about the violation of their home. In the Union, the exploits of Sherman and Grant are heroic, to the people who lived on the lands ravaged and devastated, the view was different. “Damn Yankees” is not a slavery-based approbation. It is a response to the mentally and morally superior people who are the elect of God (or the goddess) who never tire of telling Southerners that they are inferior people. Today there are two peoples it is still acceptable to demean and insult: Nazis and Southerners. And then the mentally and morally superior people wonder why such degenerates vote for Trump. Obviously it’s because they are racists who want to bring back slavery. Then the superior people pat themselves on the back and bask in their moral superiority.
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT AND 2016
By now there is no excuse for not knowing that Politically Corrected People (PCP) were more of a determinant than Putin in deciding the 2016 election. I am not going to repeat here example after example from previous blogs or from the ones I have been saving, where Trumpicans express their revulsion at the PCPs. If anything, that revulsion has intensified. Snowflakes in schools and colleges cringing at the mere sight of murals or sound of words! The toppling of statues! The declaration of superiority with the capitalized B in black! Truly the American world is coming to an end. Democrats have expressed no desire to celebrate America…such declarations would only antagonize the Woke who want to replace July 4th with 1619.
Trumpicans may not know anyone who died from Covid-19, but they all have stories to tell about another action against America taken by the PCPs, they seen them on Fox.
As it turns out, Trumpicans are voting for their self-interests but no one until the candidate who thinks with his gut actually listened and understood what those interests were. If people are voting against their economic and social interests perhaps something else is more important to them. Perhaps telling people over and over again they are backward, inferior, and consigned to the demographic dump heap of history isn’t an inspiring message. Perhaps telling people they have nothing to look forward to isn’t an inspiring message. Perhaps elevating people here illegally to the same level as those who are here legally isn’t an inspiring message.
If this country is to remain a single country, a big “if’, then it will become necessary for people to talk to each other. That is not possible now. Neither party is attempting to transcend the differences that divide us. Centrifugal forces rule the day. Thomas Friedman suggested Joe Biden should go on listening tours to Trumpican areas. Not preaching tours, nor haranguing tours, nor lecturing tours, but listening tours. Even Donald Trump tried a town hall with people who are not loyalists. Never again. It didn’t go well. He will never expand his base. Can Biden do better? Does his empathy and sympathy skills extend to people who oppose him? If he expects to govern then he will need to listen to the Trumpicans as well as to the Woke.
3 thoughts on “When Experts Are Wrong, Criticize the People: The Unmovable 42%”
Great essay title and Thomas Frank is/was indeed clueless, but you never talk about this unmovable 42%. Where’d that number come from?
I talked some about the PCP types in a March 2016 TAI essay called “On the Trumpenproletariat.” And again after the election, in a different way, in a piece called “No, It Was Not About Race.” So I’ve been banging this drum for a while. In my memory, this is the most vivid you’ve been on this point. I liked it.
Some of us are planning a sequel to the now collapsed TAI. I’ll try to keep you informed of our progress.
Thanks for your comments and kind words.I look forward to hearing about your progress. I am surprised that you also unsubscribed from the blog at the same time.
Good column, Peter!
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