Progress

Continuing the theme of my previous post:

What changed in American society such that a 1950s engineer would be viewed favorably by his fellow citizens, but a 2010s engineer is seen as despicable and gross? Jim theorizes

1. Elite culture has become more hostile to intelligence. Catcher in the Rye replaces Anabasis.
Smart people tend to exclude women and blacks. Shirtgate guy.

2. Smart people have a tendency to deal with girls on the basis of what they are taught …

I find the second reasonable, but not the first. Elite culture is not hostile to intelligence so much as it flirts with the underclass.

America 60 years ago, being much more sane, celebrated middle class values such as getting good grades, receiving a worthwhile education, getting a good job. Geeks[1] do well in this straightforward framework.

Six decades of “progress” have given us the alliance of near and far, the overclass allying with the underclass. American popular culture can be described as cultivating underclass values up to the point where they would manifest in reality and become dangerous.

Toying with stupidity, lust, and violence is a way for the elite to demonstrate their “sophistication”, which in 2015 does not mean the appreciation and comprehension of things that are beautiful and sublime; “sophistication” means mental and moral flexibility. Get together with your friends on Sunday night to watch torture and execution; email your friends on Monday morning asking them to sign a petition against torture in Guantanamo.

This flexibility does not come naturally to the scientist or engineer, who likes to view the world as stable and reproducible. The computer developer would do well to consider that sucking up to progressivism is not something he is suited to succeed at.

[1] It’s noteworthy that the slur “geek”, and its somewhat antiquated relative “nerd”, trips easily off the tongue, while I cannot think of a convenient moniker for “engineer or scientist.” A “geek” used to be a circus freak who, anticipating Ozzy Osbourne, bit the heads off chickens.

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