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Smartly Stupid

The infrastructure of manufactured intelligence has become a truly impressive thing. Today as never before there is an industry dedicated, not to educating people, but to making them feel smart. From paradigm shifting TED talks by thought leaders and documentaries by change agents that promise to transform your view of the world, manufactured intelligence has become its own culture.

We all know that George W. Bush was a moron. And we all know that Obama is a genius. We have been told by Valerie Jarrett, by his media lapdogs and even by the great man himself that he is just too smart to do his job. And it's reasonable that a genius would be bored by the tedious tasks involved in running the most powerful nation on earth.

But what is "smart" anyway? What makes Obama a genius? It's not his IQ. It's probably not his grades or we would have seen them already. It's that like so many of the thought leaders and TED talkers, he makes his supporters feel smart. The perception of intelligence is really a reflection.

Smart once used to be an unreachable quality. Einstein was proclaimed a genius, because it was said that no one understood his theories. Those were undemocratic times when it was assumed that the eggheads playing with the atom had to be a lot smarter than us or we were in big trouble.

Intelligence has since been democratized. Smart has been redistributed. Anyone can get an A for effort. And the impulse of manufactured intelligence is not smart people, but people who make us feel smart.

Self-esteem is the new intelligence. Obama's intelligence was manufactured by pandering to the biases and tastes of his supporters. The more he shared their biases and tastes, the smarter he seemed to be and the smarter they felt by having so much in common with such a smart man.

Intelligence to a modern liberal isn't depth, it's appearance. It isn't even an intellectual quality, but a spiritual quality. Compassionate people who care about others are always "smarter", no matter how stupid they might be, because they care about the world around them.

Obama and his audience mistake their orgy of mutual flattery for intelligence and depth. Like a trendy restaurant whose patrons know that they have good taste because they patronize it, his supporters know that they are smart because they support a smart man and Obama knows he is smart because so many smart people support him.

The thought never rises within this bubble of manufactured intelligence that all of them might really be idiots who have convinced themselves that they are geniuses because they read the right books (or pretend to read them), watch the right movies and shows (or pretend to) and have the right values (or pretend to).

The supreme duty of the modern liberal intellectual is not to be smart, but to make others feel smart. Genuine intelligence is threatening. Manufactured intelligence is soothing. And those intellectually superior progressives who need to believe that Obama is smart in order to believe that they are smart cannot stop believing in his brains without confronting the illusion of their own intelligence.

Manufactured intelligence is a consensus, not a debate. It's not arrived at through a process, but flopped into like a warm soothing bath of nothingness. It's correct because everyone says so. Real intelligence is the product of constant debate. It is not easy or simple. It is a collision, not a consensus.

Manufactured intelligence is self-involved. It mistakes feeling for thinking. It deals not with how things are or even how we would like them to be, but how we feel about the way things are and what our feelings about the way things are say about what kind of people we are.

Liberal intelligence is largely concerned with the latter. It is a self-esteem project for mediocre elites.

Perpetual self-involvement isn't intelligence regardless of how many of the linguistic tricks of memoir fiction it borrows to endow its liberal self-help section with the appearance of nobility.

Liberalism isn't really about making the world a better place. It's about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.

That is why Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for having good intentions. His actual foreign policy mattered less than the appearance of a new transformative foreign policy based on speeches. Gore promised to be be harsher on Saddam than Bush, but no one remembers that because everyone in the bubble knows that the Iraq War was stupid... and only conservatives do stupid things.

Liberal intelligence exists on the illusion of its self-worth. The magical thinking that guides it in every other area from economics to diplomacy also convinces it that if it believes it is smart, that it will be. The impenetrable liberal consensus in every area is based on this delusion of intelligence. Every policy is right because it's smart and it's smart because it's progressive and it's progressive because smart progressives say that it is.

Progressives manufacture the consensus of their own intelligence and insist that it proves them right.


  1. Wow and just wow. How do you consistently manage to articulate so eloquently what I intuitively sense, that I am only able to shake my head about?

  2. From Canada tomorrow (Thursday) you may see our Prime Minister visit. Throughout this essay I thought I should get fellow Cdns to read it as if every "Obama" is also a "Trudeau." Trudeau got the invite because his progressive worldview matches Obama; I believe Obama thinks of him as an heir. That holds for "intelligence" too, neither wide nor deep.

    — Rob McVey, T4b

  3. Sounds like the Ayn Rand evaluation of prestige from the Fountainhead. Accurate.

  4. Infidel10/3/16

    Thanks, very interesting and helpful article,hopefully it will help me better understand the bubble of illusion and delusion we are caught in.

    Self-esteem is very dangerous, as it can make a person misjudge the situation and his capabilities. I've been think a lot lately about how one of the most dangerous things in American public schools is teaching the kids to have a sense of self-esteem. Sets them up for failure when they get out in the real world.

  5. Morons Praise Obama - most people wonder if he Can walk and Chew gum at the same time.
    "I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do." - Valerie Jarrett

    Great insights Daniel as always.

  6. I think, therefore I am ... smart.

    1. I think I am smart therefore I am....

  7. Daniel, this article shows just one more example of the upside down world in which we now live. Every day I wake up wondering whether I should give up hope. Then I read you and it gives me a little more time, knowing that there's someone out there living in the same world!

  8. Y. Ben-David10/3/16

    Just heard about the article in The Atlantic where B. Hussein Obama told off Netanyahu by saying that Netanyahu had better grovel to him because he was the first black from a home with a single mother to be elected to the White House. SUCH ARROGANCE! He was pampered his whole life, got ahead because he had a big mouth and was pushed beyond his true abilities by affirmative action. Netanyahu, on the other hand, didn't do anything of importance in the eyes of Obama, all he did was fight in the Yom Kippur War, participate in the commando operation to save the passengers on the Sabena plane, carry out other actions in the elite Sayaret Matkal unit, then study at MIT and work his way up in Israel in spite of the fact that his father had been blackballed because he had the wrong political affiliation which was held against him.

  9. Anonymous10/3/16

    The other possibility is that progressives know they are full of BS but articulate policies that they are convinced will provide them power and political domination over a stupid, anti-intellectual, ignorant populace.

  10. D.D.Mao10/3/16

    Although the article specifically mentions the left and liberal views on this artificial intelligence it immediately brought to mind a certain narcissistic cretin who is running for President with a "R" after his name.

  11. In the Progressive world, the agenda is actually what actually defines everything, from intelligence to apple pie. If it doesn't push the agenda then the definition must be changed accordingly.

  12. This completely explains the current predominance of "virtue signaling". By claiming to be caring and compassionate, folks also get to be presumed intelligent since, caring=smart.
    Only mean people don't care, therefore mean=stupid therefore all Republicans, are mean, because they don't care about xyz therefore they are stupid. Dang, this also explains Bush Derangement syndrome.
    It also explains the incredible force of their rage when you tell someone their virtues may be incorrect.
    This explains so much. Of everything.

  13. OH and NPR. This explains NPR and the smarmy tone they use...

  14. It is not just liberals. I know quite a few conservatives, some in media, with below average intelligence who are not afraid to tell me how smart they are. Out of kindness I never engage them in thoughtful debate, since it would be pointless. They know what they feel, they know it is right, but they can't really tell me why, and they surely never read the political sources that should underpin ideology.

  15. Me: if I'm the smartest guy in the room, I'm in the wrong room

    Libs: we're all the smartest guy in the room

    "remember...if YOU believe it, it is the truth"

  16. Anonymous10/3/16

    Great column Daniel! The Emperor's new clothes look beautiful and Obama is intelligent.

    - HaLevi

  17. Last night I stubbed my toe trying to get to the bathroom in the dark. And now my toe smarts.


  18. Infidel10/3/16

    One thing is just realized is that "cultural appropriation" is one of the main ways progress is made. Maybe that is why the radical left attacks it.

  19. Charles Babbage:

    "The Council of the Royal Society is a collection of men who elect each other to office and then dine together at the expense of this society to praise each other over wine and give each other medals."


  20. Anonymous11/3/16

    "Smart has been redistributed."
    Hah! Yes, it sure has. I hope this stops about 1-20-17 when we wake up to the knowledge that the long nightmare is over.

  21. Anonymous11/3/16

    Progressives will never let go of the noble savage myth because it is the source of their moral superiority. Besides a proper photo opp can boost their income too. Whether it is a hideous yanomamo, el chapo or the muslim next door who is developing a sudden interest in fertilizers… In Europe they even teach them where the G spot is (more mythology again) after some raping. Don´t try it if you are not in the pet list or your last name finishes with linton.

  22. Anonymous11/3/16

    Mr Trump is a good example of high order intuitive intelligence. Consider the recent remark "Islam hates us", that's a very accurate assessment on the theological origins to these current problems.

    For the liberal, intelligence is an object, like something you pick up at Harvard or Yale for a cool $300k on your way out the door. The perfect caricature for this is the scene in the Wizard of Oz handing the straw man a degree which did nothing to alleviate his being brainless.

    For our Gnostic elite, we observe two contradictory claims about knowledge. Knowledge in the academic realm, where all facts are considered equal is enabling a plunder of the public purse pursuing pointless and irrelevant research that's point is lots of subsidized world travel and wines from the vintage section. The other is status knowledge in the socio-cultural realm, where facts are definitely unequal. It performs the function of acting as ideological guard and watch dog to maintain the power order.

    They have been able to keep doubting contingencies away from a necessity for the truth for nearly two generations but as existential forces bring them into closer proximity it has allowed a reason for doubt to become evident.

  23. I had no idea that Dubya wasn't the intellectual runt of the Bush litter until I saw ¿Jeb?

  24. Our progressive friends & relatives know they are smart and caring (just ask 'em). And how do they know this? Why because they are progressive democrats (ie on the "right" side of politics). QED.

  25. See this very relevant old post by Lead & Gold: Knowledge and Knowingness


  26. I came a cross a few books decrying how people are getting 'dumber' (something a lot of people say). But just flicking through them, you quickly learn that the author's definition of 'dumb' is simply 'people don't support/oppose the same things I do'.

    It's not a measure of intelligence, but righteousness from their perspective.

  27. Anonymous13/3/16

    Everybody is smart, but very few are wise.....

  28. Steve D13/3/16

    'Intelligence has since been democratized.'

    Always you make these profound statements. But never do you ask why.

  29. Anonymous14/3/16

    Ever notice that if you challenge a liberal to defend their point of view they will end up shouting at you? Being loud makes you right!

  30. "Intelligence has been democratized. Smart has been redistributed."

    Perfect. Thank you, Daniel.

  31. I remember when Hillary first came on the scene, her hubby introduced her as "the smartest women who ever trod the earth."

    She certainly proved to be that and more. s/off

  32. I'd never realized that when a leftie says of someone that 'his/her heart is in the right place', what they mean is that they put their heart where their brain should be...


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