Rationality is Not What False Skeptics Portray

It is a common SSkeptic saga, *dreamy reverie fade into a youthful past – they joined Mensa because they were so smart. They longed to be with their elite fellows. The top 2% of the population. Yet they ran into those who considered ESP, UFO’s, ghosts, astrology, angels, parapsychology, conspiracy theories, delusions that government should serve the people, similar seditious ideas, religious groups, etc.  Oh my god the irrationality.  So in their open minds they fled in a storm of revealed supreme knowledge.  Fled as hero directly into the arms of the truly elite, the truly rational, the truly humble – just like themselves. They found their home not in Mensa, but here – in the compliant and comfy high-walled domain of Social Skepticism. Someone hand me a tissue please.
Social Skeptics regularly sling around the terms intelligence and rationality, as if there existed some prescribed social index and measure of each trait implied in the offing; they possessing an unquestionable grasp of such descriptives. While the definitions of the two terms differ in many regards, there indeed exists a nexus inside of which both terms are defined accurately, and are truly achieved.  But it may reside in a dramatic departure from those definitions portrayed inside the pages of Social Skeptic media cherry picking propaganda. Propaganda which conflates highly indoctrinated and compliant persons with those being ‘rational.’
IQ tests show the ability to spot patterns and solve puzzles, and social rationality is the ability to make one’s self appear acceptable. But true rationality and intelligence are indeed a single thing – a character trait exhibited through “thinking dispositions” as well as cognitive ability and social compliance (not that these are completely invalid). It is honed over a life spent in earnest curiosity, altruism and factual integrity. Not a life spent seeking reinforcement by being ‘science,’ or as to how much more rational one is than the unwashed goofballs one hates.

intelligence and rationality - CopyIts rebarbative milieu fatigues me, thus there will be no burying the lede inside this missive. My gosh, we have had the examples foisted upon us and splashed repeatedly across the push media. Yawn. Yes, Paul Frampton, a tenured professor of physics at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, believed that Denise Milani had the hots for him, or at least provided that excuse as to why he attempted to carry ‘her’ cocaine lined bag on a flight out of Argentina.¹ According to the Social Skeptic dogma, in his ‘hubris, narcissism, high personal assessment of intelligence and lack of rationality’, he plotted to bring her the bag, get married, and enjoy life with beautiful Milani. His sin, according to Social Skepticism, was that he was intelligent but not rational. Oh boy, I can just feel the bolt of the high powered agenda rifle being slammed home now.

If you’re like me, about now you’re wondering just what diatribes over this example of human weakness and desire to be loved has to do with contrast between rationality and intelligence. I mean yes, this man lacked basic judgment skills any brick layer might possess. But that does not make people with common sense, also rational. This is not just cherry picking, it is crabapple picking. To the perceptive observer here, the apparent lesson is, if you make a social mistake, your destiny may turn out to simply serve as a warning of what missteps not to commit. A very visible and socially deplored warning example. If you succeed, no one is the wiser and you were rational quod erat demonstrandum. In the end, it is all about being found right. So, rationality in the view of those who are hyper-socially-sensitive is ‘demonstrably never making a misstep.’ Just watch the composition which comes from this camp of the uber-diligent, highly indoctrinated; such rational script cannot contain even one questionable or non-compliant feature. Not even one. Their logic? Eh, well high school level or even one of flawed basis is good enough. The sad reality is, that their cronies are only intelligent enough to spot the procedural or format mistakes, and will only examine as deep as a couple comforting one-liners, to vet the soundness of the material beneath. After all, they are not narcissists.

Narcissism in the mind of the Social Skeptic is the temerity to not conform. How dare they! They must possess an enormous ego to disagree with us like that.

Such exemplifies the psychosis among Social Skeptics – an inner conviction that they must always be right, and at all costs. Rationality is about always being correct; and not only that – making sure that such correctness is a virtual Potemkin Village of compliance, socially demonstrable and highly visible. All posed inside a facade of akratic aeunoia.

I only follow the facts - CopyMost people are not surprised to discover that former president George W. Bush is actually rather intelligent. Why are they not surprised? Because our former President is continuously exploited as a poster child for those who like to imply that lower academic marking is somehow equivalent to dunce-ism, lack of achievement ability and a whole slew of political decisions with which they disagree – because they represent the opinion of ‘science.’ Such purveyors of wisdom routinely like to cite that former President Bush is also ironically, ‘intelligent.’ Recitation of this irony pleases their funding and political sponsors enormously. Again the high powered agenda rifle bolt can be heard slamming home.

I have had these two weak anecdotes of intelligence versus rationality thrust in my face so often that it about makes me want to puke. It is the height of intellectual laziness, and is demonstrative of a lack of real world application and experience, to draw from canned tabloid and political party porn to try and develop examples eliciting a very complex cognitive human issue, such as aptitude, decision making skills and intelligence. Further examples of those who are irrational usually involve some kind of disparagement of their academic performance, lack of adherence to protocols, the fact that their grades did not match their aptitude scores, and the extraordinary contention sans evidence, that an intelligence bent inevitably leads to narcissism. Somehow the humility, subject depth and low key nature of the SSkeptic community should stand as an example of applied rationality and not-narcissism I guess (can my eyes roll any further around my skull?).

The Handiwork of Social Skepticism’s ‘Rationality’

we loseSo, Intelligent people joining in forces together does not solve the prodigiously perplexing ‘problems of the world.’ So regularly claim the Social Skeptics. That really makes the case for me. My job done here, let’s go home. Well OK to balance out this extraordinary claim which sneaks by on its viability as a one-liner, I have to admit that I am not sure I have met a self proclaimed set of ‘rational’ people who could accomplish this herculean task as well. Solving all the world’s problems, hmmmm.  A very objective and unbiased measure I might add. We are well aware that our most dastardly crimes and thefts of wealth all occurred recently at the hand of those who were the academically best and brightest in the room (see A Mediocracy in 4.0). Those holding the top marks, from top universities. Those who were the most rational. They did not make a mistake in judgment, as did wayward Mr. Frampton, this was the humble plan:

  • The theft of American worker wealth by means of 40:1 leveraged debt defaults buried in our pension funds, from 2004 – 2009, as orchestrated and encouraged by the entire derivative banking industry and our progressive politicians, then sold off as equity value into elite hands, went exactly according to its rational plan.
  • The shift of American consumer goods production offshore and into inaccessible channels of supply, killing off American businesses, weakening the West, empowering our enemies, skirting the Sherman Anti-Trust act, was all rational and dictated as ‘best practice’ by the retail oligarchy and the Harvard Business Review. (Please note Walmart’s reversal of this idea in its most recent market push to invest in US production side economics: Walmart: We’re Committed to American Renewal)
  • The single most damaging health event in American history was brought to its inception via fully rational compliance. Conducted in one-shot small labs, collusion and regulatory nepotism, and foisted on 95% of our food by means of wholly inadequate science. The rollout of glyphosate, to such a level that every American consumes 1 lb of its dry concentrate each year. All based upon three scant years of rat death pseudo-science by companies created solely to do this testing and then shut down; solely in purpose to create the ABCD cartel – the ensuing health decline is ignored because, to ignore the crime or its impact – is ‘rational.’∈
  • long working hours for the highly educated - CopyA shift in professional rational work habits towards appearances, rather than competence and outcomes. Oligarch employers will gladly accept longer work hours as an ‘objective’ measure of rational work performance. Employees no longer affect/effect outcomes, since oligarch business outcomes are pre-scripted in the rational plan. Therefore, alternative pretenses become the method by which employees distinguish themselves. Families and personal depth lose out to the need for rational ‘goal-enabling behavior.’

All were enacted through silo and tunnel-view rationality as to what was the “Stanovich-goal enabling’² acceptable thing to do; all sans true intelligence. All were executed through compliant 4.0 executives and PhD advisement, wherein no one – not one person possessed the ‘narcissism’ to stand up and say: “What we are constructing and planning is wrong.”

The deleterious impact of these four mistakes of rational arrogance alone, dwarfs in comparison the sum total of every single mistake of ‘credulity’ or ‘lack of critical thinking’ on the part of the ‘intelligent’ in total over the last 200 years.  The damage enacted by these instances of Social Skepticism ‘rationality’ was indeed immeasurable.

The Basis: Flawed Understandings of Intelligence and Rationality

you are a narcissist - CopyAnd just how do we enforce these completely flawed social understandings of rationality? By educating in error. In exhibition, I suppose that the definition of intelligence depends upon how lowly on the cognitive acumen layer model it is defined by a Social Skeptic. I bristle at the purposeful framing of intelligence in such a way so as to allow for the maximum footprint allotted to its ‘rationality’ complement, both in context and example. In that poor framing, pattern solving memory can be blamed for all bad outcomes, and rationality can take the credit for all the beneficial ones. Yet in this bad practice of definition, to the Social Skeptic, the definitions fall out thusly:²


/as defined by Social Skepticism/ in its most base and prejudiced framing, is expressed as the measured ability to spot patterns and solve puzzles in a small single controlled closed setting.²

Well of course this is useless pseudo-intellectual agenda fodder, serving to promote every success of mankind conversely into the domain of ‘rationality.’ Yay, our club is so smart. But, this is not intelligence. Puzzle solvers might never grasp that maybe their organization is doing something wrong. It is simply procedural skill along with some repetitive cognition ability, and as such it holds some usefulness as a measure of course. In college aptitude acceptance testing, we have to rely upon some kind of objective measure besides academic grades. If not to simply ward off the massive amount of grade and college entry fraud which exists now in the name of ‘rationality’.‡ If we care at all beyond our high powered agenda rifle that is. However, master chess players would be the last group of people from which I would seek talent to solve the problems of the world. They would fare just about as well as Rubics Cube aficionados I would imagine.  Neither is necessarily intelligent in reality.  But not to worry, intelligence’s assumed complement, rationality is here to rescue us all.  At least according to Social Skeptics.  And guess just who is rational? *drum roll …Why THEM of course! Just ask ’em, and they will tell you. And just what is rationality? Well,


/as practiced by Social Skepticism/ in its applied essence, is the ability to spot socially deleterious behavior, and take appropriate self correcting action, before lack of compliance exposes the whole world to how narcissistic and stupid you really are. (Coupled with an obsessive drive to point out such behavior in others)²∋

“The modern hypocrite gives the designation ‘respect’ to what is nothing but fear of the powerful.” – NN Taleb

Rational Thinking - CopyBoth of these reality definitions of Intelligence and rationality however, underpin the reasons why this whole debate is a red herring. True rationality is exhibited by certain overlay traits on the part of an individual which have nothing to do with the above reality definitions employed by Social Skepticism.

IQ tests show the ability to spot patterns and solve puzzles, and social rationality is the ability to make one’s self appear acceptable. But true rationality and intelligence are indeed a single thing – a character trait exhibited through “thinking dispositions” as well as cognitive ability and social compliance (not that these are completely invalid). It is honed over a life spent in earnest curiosity and factual integrity. Not a life spent seeking reinforcement as to how smart we all are. Social Skeptics routinely sling the term rationality around without real definition – only recitation of well worn out anecdotes illuminating where intelligent people err, committing sins like considering bigfoot, or belonging to the wrong political party. Horrid practices of irrationality.

You see, there exists cathartic reward in becoming angry about having to hide one’s lack of intelligence through a veneer of uber-adherence to protocol. In this anger I can find revenge by cleaving to a club of ‘rationality.’ I will dance with my fellows in glorious mocking of those who think differently. Therein resides my victory.

And in my best moments I can blend a couple worn out anecdotes, along with a bit of sleight-of-hand into a gigantic Kriging Leap linking these tales across a great gulf of magic and finally into defining rationality as “belief structures and behaviors that optimize goal fulfillment.”  OK, while I don’t accept the worn out anecdotes of how people who disagree with me, or evil Republicans, are examples of irrationality – I do accept this idea of rationality being defined as belief structures that optimize goal fulfillment.  These are dispositions, and as such, dispositions can be cultivated to overcome these false perceptions of rationality and intelligence. These valid dispositions include:

The True Personal Nexus of Rationality and Intelligence

Yes, intelligence and rationality do bear a nexus. Personal dispositions which influence this nexus (belief structures and behaviors) – are, in increasing levels of sophistication, listed below (with a brief precis of its antithetical understanding).

Indoctrination Based Rationality – Belief structures foisted as not constituting belief structures – the ability to spot socially deleterious behavior, and take appropriate action before lack of compliance exposes to the whole world how narcissistic and stupid you really are. The self-delusion and pretense of being open-minded, humble and researching where the facts lead. Highly indoctrinated people are constantly perplexed as to why they are not successful, and live in a constant state of fear of being found out as being not really all that intelligent.  Typically blaming a lack of success on their humility, or choice of serving profession, or not being greedy or some lack of nefarious skill set thereby – or a whole other set of superior skill, chief of which is humility. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy agrees with Keith E. Stanovich, Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto,² opining thusly about the basis and origin of scientific rationality:

For instance, in the case of instrumental rules which tell us the best way to achieve certain goals, philosophers of all stripes would say that looking at historical attempts to achieve those goals will help us evaluate our current proposals for achieving them.“³

cruel rationality - CopyEvaluations which are therefore best left to historians and applied psychologists …Right? Realizations which can only come through specific education repositories and their ‘consensus.’ …Indeed? (*my best rendition of a Vulcan Mr. Spock eyebrow raise). It is rationalizations just like this which lead to malicious pseudo-intellectual arrogance agendas, as exemplified by attempts to remove chaplaincy from hospitals. Not being a religious person myself, nonetheless my rationality forbids me to underpin with support, such a horrid imposition of my personal religion on the rest of humanity. Rationality, stemming from the actual real world human experience of holding people while they died, bids me to regard that stressful period of life in the compassionate and altruistic manner in which it should be handled – an not escalate my perception of personal brilliance into becoming a monster. The SSkeptic faithful will let this monstrous stance slip by and never mention a word to Skeptic Magazine. Let this stand as a hint. In the realms of Social Skepticism, rationality ≡ fear based compliance.

Rationality is never an excuse for becoming intellectual slime. Compliance is never a suitable excuse for cowardice.

In any exhaustive research into the definition of rationality, you will find that it’s root inevitably culminates in the delivery of power into the hands of Social Skeptic academia, and not inside any external objective reference. NO standard exists, save for the shift of power, the religious material monism and political domination entailed. Indeed. But for the rest of us who operate the real world, this is rationality:

Wisdom: Ethical Skepticism applied inside a Rationality/Intelligence Nexus Based Character ———————————– (from this point on)

nexus of int and rat - CopyA.  Efficient Prejudices – Certain foods can make me sick, and I don’t swim after eating. I don’t dive into unknown water. There are the little tidbits of knowledge which parsimony and the desire to survive, along with our parents and friends, impart deeply into our psyche. Note that these tenets are not skepticism – as skepticism is the mindset which allows all of the following (exclusive of Indoctrination) to develop as it should. Indeed, efficient prejudices can become the enemy of skepticism. Skepticism, contrary to Social Skeptic propaganda is not a body of knowledge or probable knowledge unto itself. It is a means of preparing the mind to responsibly develop this process, this nexus of intelligence and rationality.

B.  Body of Gnosis – Much of this may not have been arrived at through the full scientific method, but is science nonetheless.  A hot stove will burn your hand, driving too fast or while drinking can cause an auto accident, etc. Although each of these can, and ultimately many times were, backed by science, people ascertained this from their own ‘observational method’ and not from skepticism.

C.  Knowledge Principles – Learned logically framed constructs and linkages which guide our human, economic, and physical realm. Profit is determined when we take all expenses, depreciation, amortization and interest away from revenue. From this dividends may be issued.

D.  Knowledge Facts – The data bricks which can make a brick wall, or a fake brick wall depending upon how we employ them. PV = NRT.

E.  The Unquenchable Drive to Know – The integrity to want to improve the knowledge development process and body of knowledge coupled with the selfish desire to improve one’s insight into the wonder of our realm. I have to know, and no manner of accolade and personal boast to knowledge (or the lack of need to pursue it) on your part is going to arrest this desire.

F.  Education – Education is the ability to distinguish one’s indoctrination from one’s knowledge.

G.  Epoché – A neutral suspension of prejudicial belief.  Not just being open-minded (which is a self delusion); indeed rather, the adherence to the scientific method ethic of holding no prejudice until the preponderance of data dictates such as warranted. Even then the cautious parsimony of avoiding pluralistic stacking and explanatory complexity.

H.  Scientific Method – Observe, survey, ask, define, measure, consider and repeat. Wise is the one who understands how and why this works – not the one who talks noisily about it for appearances sake.

I.  Sincere Innate Humility (not the social pretense) – Humility is measured by the integrity and respect exhibited in one’s dealing with data and with other people.  It is not measured in how one regards themselves. This is one of those lessons you learn by living a real life of challenge, and not an academically compliant facade. It comprises a lack of desire to mock, deride and control. A lack of arrogance or anger over an inner knowledge that one does not have THE highest cognition skills in the land. Lack of the desire to strike back, mock and ridicule those who do not conclude the same things as do they…. Lack of the need to band together into a club, in order to derive significance and fill the void of nagging self perception.

J.  Creativity/Insight –  Not simply the ability to invent or conceptualize, rather the ability to look at asymmetric problem sets in fresh and new ways, not simply using pattern recognition, but also developing new ideas and possessing an insight which extends beyond the prima facia issues that cloud a problem.

K.  Adeptness with Risk – Life to those who have taken risks, in order to benefit others and those they love, is about balancing risk and benefit. About knowing when the risk/benefit analysis does not apply because one may be treading on the well being and rights of others. People who see themselves as ‘rational’ in a Dunninig-Kruger sense, often are dilettante at risk/benefit scenarios or in grasping or understanding the rights of others (unless it benefits their politics). This is how we snuck glyphosate into the market to such and extent, that now each American consumes over 1 pound of it, in dry concentrate form, each year.†

L.  Altruism/Love – The understanding that consciousness precedes at least part of our reality, coupled with the desire to direct one’s intention to make the plight of those on the planet better; and not simply serve a presumed course of the rationality dictated by those with an agenda rifle.  Here is the key = true intelligence is the only pathway to this realization. The procedurally rational among us never get here. They wallow in self justifications and activist anger over others’ success. They substitute revenge based activism in lieu of ethical work on behalf of humanity.

life good on the inside - CopyTo be rational, we must know when to override indoctrination and propaganda from academic activists masquerading as knowledge, and begin to walk the intelligent path of vision as to why/when to apply risk, altruism and love – above self. Whereupon, in that realization, that coming of age, one attains intelligence. One is rational, only then.  This is intelligence, not the ability to solve puzzles. This is rationality, not some elite display one puts on for the purpose of being included inside a club of elite fellows.

That requires more than critical thought, more than cognitive ability. It requires us to hold our biases in a state of epoché while we investigate and grow in knowledge in an altruistic fashion. Thinking dispositions which carry anger of presuppositions of what is and what is not intelligence and rationality, get in the way of that process.

It is a common SSkeptic saga, *dreamy reverie of youthful past – they joined Mensa because they were so smart. They longed to be with their elite fellows. The top 2% of the population (or often cited as an overly inclusive 1 in 25 because of measurement error, error which apparently produces an upwards bias 100% of the time, of course – in other words you are only considered smart because the test results were wrong). Yet they ran into those who considered ESP, UFO’s, ghosts, astrology, angels, parapsychology, conspiracy theories, delusions that government should serve the people and other similar seditious ideas, religious groups, including atheists…  Oh my god the irrationality.  So they fled.  Fled back into the arms of the truly elite, the truly rational.  The self proclaimed ‘skeptics.’ They found their home not in Mensa, but here – in the compliant and comfy domain of Social Skepticism.

“Hmmm, sigh.” …and all that bad Mensa stuff?  All of it is proved to be applied irrationality, things which a right thinking skeptic just knows are folly and incorrectness from the very start. I mean just look at the jokes we make about these camps. Meanwhile we will bask in the superior nature of our open-mindedness, need for cognition, lack of laziness, and very demonstrable humility, the self proclaimed pinnacle traits of rationality …right? …right? …right?

¹  Swann, Maxine, “The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble,” The New York Times; March 8, 2013.

²  Keith E. Stanovich, Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto (Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rationality-versus-intelligence#oIy7FtCMSFJUkhRj.99):

“To be rational means to adopt appropriate goals, take the appropriate action given one’s goals and beliefs, and hold beliefs that are commensurate with available evidence.”

“Yet assessments of such good (rational) thinking are nowhere to be found on IQ tests.”

³  Matheson, Carl and Dallmann, Justin, “Historicist Theories of Scientific Rationality”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/rationality-historicist/&gt;

†  Glyphosate Use Growth Curve (annual, in millions of pounds, dry); https://theethicalskeptic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/glyphosate-history-curve1.png?w=800&h=585.

‡  “Grade Inflation: The Current Fraud.” By M. Donald Thomas and William L. Bainbridge. Effective School Research. January 1997.

∈  The Rising Age of the Cartel http://theethicalskeptic.com/2015/07/07/the-rising-age-of-the-cartel-your-freedoms-were-simply-an-experiment/

∋  McDonald, Cheryl Ann, Psy.D, “Am I Normal, A Self Measure” Health Psychology Center, http://healthpsychology.org/am-i-normal-a-self-measure/

A Mediocracy in 4.0: Discounting College Acceptance Aptitude Testing is a Grave Error

The College Board aims to start a national crusade for college access with a revamp of its SAT admission test to debut in 2016. But the nonprofit organization faces a major hurdle in its quest: Use of the SAT has shrunk in huge swaths of the country since the test’s last makeover nine years ago. In 29 states, a Washington Post analysis found, there were fewer SAT test-takers in the high school class of 2013 than there were in the class of 2006. Over seven years, the declines in SAT test-takers exceeded 20 percent in 19 states, including drops of 59 percent in Michigan, 46 percent in Illinois, 37 percent in Ohio and 25 percent in Tennessee.¹

~ Nick Anderson, The Washington Post: Education; March 16, 2014

“Never hire an A student unless it is to take exams.”

~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Even as far back as 1997, researchers found that not only does there exist a mismatch between SAT scores and achieved high school GPA’s, indicative of severe levels of grade inflation at the high school level; but moreover, the level of grade inflation appears to be focused more heavily into the most underachieving SAT academic environments.† This renders the entire 4.0 GPA attainment a mockery in deception and procedural gaming; unsuitable as a measure to perform in its ascending role as the sole basis for collegiate acceptances. This malady serves as a sentinel shedding light into the phenomena of academic arrogance and unaccountability, Social Skepticism, as well as why the overall levels of integrity are falling inside the broader realms of American business, economics and politics.

Ideas are Not Welcome in a Utopia

small minds - Copy - CopyBoth the level of employment of SAT tests in college admissions, and as well the score results themselves, are both down again over the last 7 years, continuing an alarming trend of ineffectiveness on the part of US Education.  My purpose here is not to hash fully over again, the pro and con arguments of GPA versus SAT employment in the college admissions process, nor the pro and con arguments which can be foisted towards each point of view. An excellent discourse, albeit one introduced by asking the wrong and ill thought out question, can be found here. Be careful however with this link, as the debate presented here revolves around the equivocal term ‘standardized testing,’ conflating 3rd and 5th grade standardized measures with means and methods of college acceptance. Generally I do not trust anyone who purposely confuses ‘all standardized test scores’ as a means of enforcing GPA as the sole criteria basis for college admissions. Neither do I trust anyone who would ask the prejudiced and charged question, begging thusly “Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America?” as is prefaced in the linked article. This is an equivocating and loaded question, begging for a process leading to a single non-sequitur political answer to the question at hand.  The real question to be asked is “What has been, and what will be, the impact of a shift away from the SAT as an important basis of college admissions acceptance in terms of the quality and preparedness of new professional candidates?” This is the correct question under the scientific method. The question which is asked by one who thinks in terms of ideas, and not in terms of process to arrive at the correct answer.

The Zone of Corruptability wrt Grades and Standardized Scores - CopyMy purpose here is to relate key examples of where, in my research firms, labs and companies, both in science and engineering, I have observed directly the deleterious and misleading effects of a GPA – focused candidate selection process.  One which elicits a growing problem in our culture with dominant, oligarch and compliance oriented institutions. Cartels which no longer stand accountable to your opinion as an American, regarding the ethical nature of their business and social actions.  Social Skepticism thrives in a culture of procedural acumen; one which worships GPA, compliance, achievement and following the instructions.  Why? Because that is what is necessary in an Orwellian Utopia of correct answers and correct people.

Ideas are unnecessary, indeed not welcome, in a Social Skepticism utopia.

Anybody paying attention to the course of modern school reform will not be very surprised by this news: Newly released SAT scores show that scores in reading, writing and even math are down over last year and have been declining for years. And critical reading scores are the lowest in 40 years. ³

~ Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post: Local; September 14, 2011

From my observation, in the pool of hundreds of scientists and engineers I have hired over the decades (and yes, I have kept a record of every single one of them – their GPA and SAT, their professional evaluations, and their work track record), this trend in focus to procedural acumen is a cause for concern.  Concern in terms of corporations’ ability to hire qualified and equipped candidates, and concern with respect of worker ability to spot pathways of integrity versus ones of questionable ethics – in the midst of awesome and intimidating compliance requirements levied by oligarch driven cartels. Right now, in our top 5 growing industries, the answer to these questions of concern is not an encouraging one.

This loss of focus on what constitutes real education, I contend, is a principal contributor to the origin of our current plague of Fake Skepticism and crippling/abusive Cartel Economics.

procedural acumen

/Education : Teaching : Aptitude/ : The orientation of a learning process or mindset into which an individual is educated, which distinguishes itself through a lower exposure to ideas, in contrast with a high exposure to people, events, facts, methods and memorization. While procedural acumen is important in education, and certainly stands as a key component of an individual success formula inside the attainment of academic achievement, it should not occupy the sole goal domain of an educational system. Indeed, its preeminence stands as a vulnerable Achilles’s heel with respect to industry’s ability to address corruption, bureaucracy, need for vision, leadership, courage and the transcendent nature of discerning integrity versus blind compliance or corruptibility.


If a man’s thoughts are to have truth and life in them, they must, after all, be his own fundamental thoughts; for these are the only ones that he can fully and wholly understand. . . . a man who thinks for himself can easily be distinguished from the book-philosopher by the very way in which he talks, by his marked earnestness, and the originality, directness, and personal conviction that stamp all his thoughts and expressions. The book-philosopher, on the other hand, lets it be seen that everything he has is second-hand.

~ Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Thinking for Yourself” (1851)

When One Promotes 4.0 Mediocrity Over Ideas and Intellect in Collegiate Acceptance

“Mistakes grow your brain,” Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford University expressed at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by The Atlantic (see below). She further contends,

“When we give kids the message that mistakes are good, that successful people make mistakes, it can change their entire trajectory,” Boaler said.‡

Psychologist Carol Dweck elaborates on this further as well in her book The New Psychology of Success,

“100 percent is not an ideal score. When kids come home from school and announce that they got everything right on their school work, Dweck advises parents to offer some sympathy: Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t get the chance to learn.”‡

fear - Copy - Copy
My Advice to Aspiring Tier I College Entrants
  • Don’t participate in Athletics – you might not get in
  • Don’t have allergies or ADHD – you might not get in
  • Don’t participate in Drama or Music – you might not get in
  • Don’t have a medical condition – you might not get in
  • Don’t participate in Student Government – you might not get in
  • Don’t have parental/home issues – you might not get in
  • Don’t have a medical issue – you might not get in
  • Don’t fail to kiss ass with ANY instructor – you might not get in
  • Don’t work to help any fellow student – you might not get in
  • Don’t come from an affluent family – all it takes is one instructor to give you a B
  • Don’t be in the wrong political party – all it takes is one instructor to block you
  • Don’t be in the wrong religion – all it take is one instructor who does not like that
  • Don’t let your parents be in the military – all it takes is one social epistemologist B
  • Don’t write a paper saying things academics don’t agree with – you might not get in
  • Don’t participate in extracurricular activities of any kind – you might not get in
  • Don’t have intestinal, focus, energy, visual or learning style differences – you might not get in
  • Don’t waste study time in community activities, charity, social or church work – you might not get in
  • Don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend – because you might not get in
  • Follow the instructions – because they can hold a B over your head at any time
  • Don’t question – because all it takes is one Social Skeptic instructor and you are dead
  • Study – because a 4.0 GPA is all that counts
  • Cheat – because you Fear the B
  • Corrupt our grading processes – otherwise our preferred students might not get in
  • Everyone gets an A – teach students all about the ethics of appearances
  • Evaluate teachers on their ability to get the right grades to the right people

After all – Colleges want well rounded ethical leaders who can think for themselves – get that 4.0!

stanford acceptance of SAT and GPA - Copy - CopyI am not of course speaking about the lack of effort entailed in say a 2.9 GPA in high school; rather indeed focusing on the differences between a 3.7 and a 4.0 GPA. The discernment of student effectiveness as a thinker may not readily be ascertained by such a narrow margin of delineation. The factors which contribute to earning a 4.0 versus a 3.7 might not constitute issues of diligence, as much as we like to pretend such. As you can observe here in the graphic on the right, citing the admissions habits of one of my favorite institutions, Stanford University, an extreme bias towards GPA is now exercised in the selection process.  I would really hate to be that guy or gal on the extreme right, the red dot who scored a 2400, yet had a 3.7 GPA in high school, and as a result was denied admission to Stanford.  What was the particular case there? Did her father get injured or killed in Afghanistan? Did he contract diabetes in high school and lose his ability to focus during tests from attempting to learn how to control blood sugar swings? Perhaps she was hit in the head with a softball and was unable to get her vision stabilized for a critical year due to a ‘snap-back’ injury?

What bothers me, is not the fact that this dot exists in red (non-acceptance) on the Stanford chart – What bothers me is the fact that fewer than 5 candidates with an exceptionally high SAT, had a suitable excuse as to why their GPA was below a 4.0. Moreover, all the GPA’s are unrealistically smashed into the 4.0 ceiling, offering no way to adjudicate between students – and hinting strongly indicative towards a reliance upon an overinflated student measure.  This is an extreme problem – a bias in selection towards falsely inflated GPA’s which will end up biting us in the ass one day as a nation.

I will contend this, that of those students who equaled me in GPA in high school, only two had a higher SAT score (both went to tier I schools), and only 3 out of the entire 15 actually did anything at all with their lives. The remaining 12 simply followed the instructions, took up a slot at the University, absorbed a scholarship, and then left school and did absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. As a man who funds scholarships for disadvantaged students now at my alma mater, this waste of top academic slots really pisses me off.

We all received scholarships of varying magnitude. 80% of both the scholarships and the university slots were wasted on these rule follower students. GPA for them turned out simply to constitute an ego trip of enormously costly social impact. Were we to have relied upon SAT scores more heavily, at least 2/3’rds of these candidates would have never made it into tier I universities. Their GPA’s were high because they endeared themselves with the teachers and followed the rules obsessively.  But they had no desire whatsoever to actually apply the education they were abusing. Their SAT scores, were in the high to average range. These socialites could have been replaced by persons who actually sought to do something with their lives, however were not as popular with their instructors or encountered a life challenge in high school. I know of several brilliant 3.7/3.8 GPA students who could have performed well in their places.

But if wasted scholarships and university admission slots were the only deleterious effect of endemic inflation of GPA’s, then that circumstance might almost be tolerable. Sadly however, this lesson about gaming the system and the numbers in favor of appearances bears additional ill fruit in terms of American Ethics, well beyond education.  Let’s review what this false pretense, a mediocrity in 4.0, does in terms of the preparedness of the average high school student, as well as its eventual impact inside the workplace of ideas and accountability.

Achievement is questionable when the tasks entailed have been mandated to the achiever. Rule followers will always ask how high they should jump. Aptitude in part, indicates the propensity to achieve when the achievement goals are no longer mandatory or are not so well defined.  Just as morality is defined often as being what one does when no one is looking, in similar form true aptitude based achievement is indicated by what goals one sets when no one any longer is telling you what to do next.

      ~ TES

Achievement justifies authority - CopyThere are several problems with using GPA as the sole means, or dominant means of acceptance to tier I universities.

1.  It stimulates egregious levels of grade inflation at the high school level.

2.  It tempts instructors to reward with grades those they personally like, more than those they do not.

3.  It encourages and mandates a culture of systemic cheating, especially at the collegiate level.

4.  It spreads the zone of acceptability into ranges of candidates who are not characterized by particularly high involvement in ideas, other than those they have been taught to tender fealty towards.

5.  It weakens our society in its ability to discern those of a high level of integrity, ambition and acumen, from those who are susceptible to corruptibility or diffidence (see graph above).

6.  It creates an unfair disadvantage to students who suffered life trauma or who’s parents endured military or dynamic career interruptions during their high school tenure. Socially fixed students will advance in contrast.

7.  It weakens our society in its ability to discern those of a high level of integrity and acumen, from those who simply followed all the rules (see graph above).

8.  It promotes a reliance on Social Skepticism, and not science, as the means of cultivating and filtering ideas, obtaining information and understanding knowledge development.

9.  It leaves students and their society unarmed with the ideas and insights necessary in combating corruption and cartel and socialist based economics.

10.  It trains shallow, procedural acumen, and ‘cover your ass’ political leaders who know that appearances are all that matter.

GPA is an Unreliable Predictor of Success in the Professional STEM Workplace

Through an inflated 4.0 level of following the next steps, you can aspire someday to sit in a really nice cubicle or corner office. But you are less likely to bear the character or skill set which can stand to change the world of ideas. Moreover, you might fall destiny to becoming a fixture inside of that which ultimately needs changing.

What I hire - CopyJust as GPA was an unreliable predictor of professional success in my high school experience, on the broader market – it is an unreliable predictor of anything aside from ‘graduation rates’ themselves. Now again as a reminder here, were are not talking about a 4.0 versus 2.9 GPA, rather the artifice of employing 3.7 to 4.0 differentials to trump aptitude measures altogether as the basis for college admissions. This social presumption, along with the refusal to examine longer term professional success along these GPA differential lines, is well… pseudoscience. Employing graduation rates as the outcome measure in the effectiveness of GPA based admissions is a lackluster approach to evaluating its effectiveness. The observation we all need to make is ‘What is this adherence to pretenses and image, producing in terms of professional culture in America?’ There are several problems with using GPA as the sole means, or dominant means of acceptance to tier I universities, which manifests later in life to become problems in the workplace. These are the ones I have observed over three decades of hiring, teaching and managing STEM professionals in a highly demanding set of professional workplace environments.  Yes, ones which seek to change the world, but more importantly, ones which seek out integrity and ethics over compliance and dogma.

1.  nnt a students and academic cocoonsIt stimulates evaluation of professionals based on their ability to follow preprogrammed objectives only. Early in my career it was hard to distinguish performance over those who followed every instruction to the tee. I wasted years attempting to demonstrate that more than this was required to impress clients and solve complex problems.

2.  It tempts managers to reward with high objective ratings, those they personally like, more than those they do not – because they cannot distinguish talent from compliance. I personally rated those who challenged me with objective ideas, higher than those who simply agreed with me, who were also higher ranked than those who simply sought to be disagreeable.

3.  It renders executives into ‘pathways of privilege’ wherein it is the school you attend and the endorsements you receive socially which determine your career track, and not competence – only the appearance thereof. I have witnessed hundreds of executives who, bounce from top job to top job simply because of their executive MBA and social class; executives who bear no more depth or understanding, than does a mid level manager of those same businesses.  I have witnessed entitled persons be given Senior VP slots within years after graduation, and then after taking a 3 year break – be given the CEO role in a major corporation, simply because they were blessed as uber-compliant/uber-diligent. Are these people going to challenge illegal and unethical activity when they encounter it?  Hell no, they hope to be gifted with its inheritance, so why would they raise a stink?

4.  It encourages and mandates a culture of systemic gaming, fraud and cheating with respect to published numbers. The rate of fraud, account manipulation for quarterly financial results, production number tweaking, and milestone padding, is rampant in procedural acumen based companies. Some very noteworthy clients of mine over the years were rife with numerical fraud practices. It was particularly disconcerting to observe this habit, from those who graduated from a very familiar B-school.

5.  It spreads the uncertainty factor on the performance of entry level candidates based upon simply their academic performance alone. I typically asked for university name, example leadership roles and SAT score – and providing their GPA was above a 3.0 – I did not care.  A 3.8 from Ball State simply did not match up to a 3.3 at Stanford. Nor did I want to hire a slob with a 3.9 or 4.0 who simply sat in front of a computer for 4 years (even and especially if your degree was Information Technology) and did nothing but classwork or a little TA assistanceship.  Not impressed.

6.  It weakens our businesses in their ability to discern those of a high level of integrity and acumen, from those who are susceptible to corruptibility (see graph above).

7.  It creates professionals who constantly reply to new challenges “But I have not been trained on how to do that.”

8.  It renders our society vulnerable to professionals who skirt the system, game the rules to steal money, or think that putting all other mid-tier businesses out of business is congruent with ‘competitiveness,’ or fail to see the unethical nature of an industry vertical dominated by cartel. Over the years I worked with several clients who’s strategy it was to use unfair offshore cost advantage agreements to put smaller domestic competitors out of business, and then raise prices back to a higher level than they were previously once completed.  We reside in this Cartel Based Economy now. It is a 4.0 GPA Cartel Economy of our own crafting.

9.  It promotes a reliance on Social Skepticism, and not science, as the means of cultivating and filtering ideas, obtaining information and understanding knowledge development.

10.  It results in professionals who feel entitled as if they are supposed to be “in charge” from day one. Professionals who are easily offended when other persons apply strong aptitude for results in a subject, customer or corporate challenge. Aptitude which threatens their internal assessment of their own superiority. They are perplexed and angry that they followed all the rules and were not given all the glory as usual.

11.  It renders professionals and governments unarmed with the ideas and insights necessary in combating corruption and mafia or cartel based economics. There are numerous ministers in foreign countries, with whom I worked over the years, who ascended to their positions through the graces of a controlling cabal, cartel or mafia. They were afraid to do anything other than follow the rules they were given.  Their people suffered as a result. They were emasculated, terrified servants, with perfect GPA’s.

12.  It trains shallow, procedural acumen, and ‘cover your ass’ political leaders who know that appearances are all that matter.

Interestingly, there is not one Celebrity SSkeptic I know, who would have ever passed the screening and interview process for hiring into one of my companies. It is always refreshing, not to mention highly effective, to work with sincere mindsets and not those who made it by on a daisy chain of one academic achievement underpinning the credibility basis for the next scheduled one. For the Ethical Skeptic, it all starts at the watering hole of collegiate academic evaluation and acceptance methods. Will we return again to choosing those students with success-oriented integrity and acumen habits (aptitude), or retreat further headlong into policies of rewarding scripted ideas, obsessive compliance, and a cultivation of 4.0 mediocrity, spun as ‘achievement?’

Hence of course the charter of this blog: Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance.

¹  Nick Anderson, The Washington Post: Education; March 16, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/sat-usage-declined-in-29-states-over-7-years/2014/03/15/f4504cfc-a5ff-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html.

²  Stanford GPA, SAT and ACT Data, Allen Grove; About Education; http://collegeapps.about.com/od/GPA-SAT-ACT-Graphs/ss/stanford-admission-gpa-sat-act.htm.

³  Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post: Local; September 14, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/what-the-decline-in-sat-scores-really-means/2011/09/14/gIQAdUzdSK_blog.html.

†  “Grade Inflation: The Current Fraud.” By M. Donald Thomas and William L. Bainbridge.
Effective School Research. January 1997.

‡  James Hamblin, The Atlantic: “100 Percent Is Overrated – People labeled “smart” at a young age don’t deal well with being wrong.” June 30, 2015; http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/06/the-s-word/397205/.