The rule of midwits is propelling the decay of American institutions

The rule of midwits is propelling the decay of American institutions. By Brian Chau.

While competition for authority might, in some contexts, be well worth the value that a member of the elite contributes, this is rarely the case in incumbent political institutions, most of which depend for their survival on restricting intellectual input. Even if incumbent institutions could attract elites initially, elites would eventually abandon them, either to work in institutions less burdened by historical constraints or else in fields that are dominated more by objective rather than subjective measures of skill and accomplishment.

To understand this phenomenon better, it helps to look at a chart of college majors ranked by average IQ.

IQ is also not an all-encompassing measure, but a reasonably predictive, best-for-now heuristic without many alternatives. This chart also provides averages only: There are of course geniuses in early childhood education and dimwits in economics. But some fields, on average, clearly skew toward midwits. …

What really give teeth to this observation are the selection systems that dominate particular fields, explicitly filtering out candidates from both the top and bottom of the IQ scale. Job qualifications typically filter out candidates from the bottom, while restricting opportunities for free, creative, lucrative, and independent work filters out those from the top. …

Using their greater numbers (remember the bell curve), the midwits have joined up to push their common interest: no to meritocracy!

The professional fields that are most politically touchy, and which are also (uncoincidentally) left leaning, fall neatly into the midwit range: journalism (communications), education, social science, business administration and management, and public administration. …

The Soviets went in for this too, and look what it did for them:

The historical analogs for this effect are often referred to as “Lysenkoism,” named after the Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko. Rejecting well-evidenced genetic findings, Lysenko made absurd, demonstrably false claims about farming …

Lysenko is the standard bearer for pseudoscience driven by confirmation bias. But his false claims were not at all random or founded in ignorance: Each of his lies formed part of a coherent argument for communist assumptions. He denied that genes exist on the basis that believing they do could prove a “barrier to progress.” He dismissed contrary evidence presented by Western scientists as “tools of imperialist oppressors.”

Today’s “science”is increasingly like Lysenkoism, funded by midwit bureaucrats to come up with the findings they approve of:

There is no shortage of this phenomenon in contemporary times. Think of the denial of diversity in human intelligence, of physical differences based on biological sex, of standardized testing as race-neutral, and of the empirical data behind the efficacy of corporate diversity training and measures to combat the “gender pay gap.”

With the benefit of hindsight, it is widely known how Lysenkoism ended: The implementation of his “research” in reality helped facilitate the starvation of tens of millions of people from Ukraine to China through manmade famines. …

Midwits hire other ideologically-aligned midwits, until the institutions are full of them and can no longer function properly:

Recruiting, HR policy, and governance are not just procedures for choosing the best person for the job or promotion; they are means of choosing the person who would most benefit the faction making the choice. In other words, it’s politics all the way down.

With this in mind, midwits and the ideological conformity they favor can spread through incumbent institutions fairly easily even without any organized effort. How? First, incumbent institutions disproportionately select for midwits; second, ideologically conformist midwits select for others of the same ideology, which can be done through hiring decisions, HR law, or employee activism; third, the selection process is amplified further by incentives — because ideological conformity benefits midwits, they change procedures to elevate themselves over their less conformist but more productive colleagues; fourth, the increase in ideological conformity skews selection further toward midwits.

This cycle helps explain why incumbent institutions become stagnant or decline, and eventually become incapable of doing what they were created to do. …

The right hasn’t come to grips with this yet:

Unlike what some prominent conservatives seem to think, this doesn’t really represent “a plan to take over America.” Instead, it’s mostly a case of incentives aligning for midwits to act according to their own emotional and political biases, which also happens to advantage their political benefactors.

This model helps explain how left-wing ideology and incumbent institutions have become almost synonymous, just as Democratic politicians and media figures have become closely associated with ideas like “bureaucracy” and “stagnation.”

On the Republican side, this theory helps explain why most of their attempts to address institutional disadvantages are failing. It’s actually much easier to reverse the consequences of an organized plan than to reverse an emergent process: Simply remove the leaders from power and wield political force. So far, that’s exactly what Republicans have been trying to do. …

Republicans put both Donald Trump and Glenn Youngkin into office. They’ve passed broad anti-critical race theory (CRT) laws, threatened to break up Big Tech companies, and have even proposed legislation to make it easier. But as Marshall Kosloff put it, “If you broke up Amazon into six different companies, … all six of those companies would also not serve Parler … It’s just the fact that a certain part of the country that is realigning away from their political beliefs has control over these institutions.” Similar arguments can easily be made for other Republican ideas. Even if anti-CRT laws are passed, left-wingers who would have taught it have plenty of other ideologies to choose from, which they can use to educate students the way they want.

So: Are Republican elites just stupid? Well, no. Firstly, elites — whether Democrat or Republican — can easily shelter themselves. Anyone in at least the upper middle class, with an average income around $200,000 per year, can pay for private schools or whatever other pathways lead away from the problems caused by the rise of midwits. …

The incentives and institutions that caused this cycle of institutional decline and failure will continue to self-perpetuate, despite the efforts of third parties and intellectual movements, whether elitist or populist, to take over. This cycle will perpetuate itself because it is driven by an incredibly resistant set of decentralized incentives that incorporate built-in reactions to the most common challenges.

The common mistake of the “anti-woke,” “depolarization,” and “never-Trump” factions is in underestimating the phenomena they claim to oppose.

Institutions overrun by midwits are unreformable, so burn them down. Build replacement institutions, but employ hiring practices  that prevent midwit domination — such as not allowing the midwits to choose new personnel. Resist all attempts to weaken meritocracy and competition, such as insisting on color blindness and gender neutrality.