The 3-1-2 Principle (Why I’m an “Anti-Intellectual”)

“What are you doing here?”

That’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot.  Most recently it was at Gigantour, as someone observed that a clean-cut geek like myself doesn’t fit the mold of typical metal fan.  The observation, though slightly rude, wasn’t exactly news to me.  The instance when I was most surprised to hear it happened when I was in grade 10, lined up to receive a bronze medal for my grades.  The first place grade 11 student, who was someone I was acquainted with, leaned over and wondered aloud what I was doing there. The truth is though, despite being de facto one of them I never did really fit in with the “high grades” crowd either. I just happen to be that guy who was able to do well without really appearing to have tried. You’ve probably met someone like me.

For the purpose of this argument I’m going to class intelligence into three very broad categories:

  1. Characterized by indifference.  These people know what works for them and are generally unwilling to change.
  2. Characterized by education.  Members of this group are dutiful students, willing to expend a lot of time and effort to come to the “correct” conclusion.
  3. Characterized by insight. These people tend to think independently and be able to come to reasonable conclusions.
The 3-1-2 principle, then is the idea that folks in both group 3 and 1 have a tendency to come to sound conclusions more often than the huge glut of intellectuals in group 2.
Here’s a simple litmus test to determine which category you belong in:
  1. If you managed to turn your computer on and read this article; Congratulations! You’re not in group 1!
  2. Read this article
  3. If you, like the article’s authors, assumed the conclusion of the study doesn’t apply to you, it probably does. Group 2 for you.
What prompted this theory?  The constant deluge of  evidence linking political beliefs to intelligence.  A small fraction of the most intelligent tends to skew libertarian.  If we assume for a second those conclusions are correct, and that I myself am a member of that small minority of intelligent libertarian types, I wondered how it is I would find myself agreeing with the stupid idiots on the opposite end of the spectrum more often than their supposedly more intelligent counterparts. And I don’t mean just a little. I often find myself thinking Kate McMillan‘s musings could easily have come straight out of my very own head. That’s generally something one would avoid admitting publicly because it tends to result in one’s liberal friends to re-evaluate their opinions of you.
Here’s a modified left/right political spectrum graph in which each of the three groups is associated with a core value.  The fascist genocidal maniacs/communist hordes at the extremes of the classic chart are clearly identified by the red arrows for your ease of use:
312 Political Spectrum

1. TRADITION – The least intellectually curious group tends to believe adhering to tradition is the surest path to success.  This group has millions of years of evolution behind them backing them up, whether they choose to believe that or not.  Skills, values and ideas handed down from older generations have intrinsic value because they’ve been tested.

2. MONEY – The more educated group has observed that money is correlated with power. Their political ideas tend to involve fixing the world by redistributing wealth.  They tend to ignore lessons from the past, and focus on their ideas being philosophically correct rather than practical or workable.

3. FREEDOM – This group tends to view freedom as paramount.  The freedom to pursue one’s own goals within reasonable, well-defined limits are all that is necessary to allow everyone equal opportunity at success.

In summary, I tend to get annoyed by intellectuals because their ideas are less grounded in reality than even actual racist, homophobic cavemen who desperately cling to their guns (or whatever they’re doing today). If you’re in the 2% of the population whose intelligence I didn’t just insult, I hope you found this post amusing and/or enlightening.

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