1) Americans have the highest confidence despite middling education by comparison to other countries. (Google it.)
2) Americans are disproportionately wealthy so our lower classes can express their ideas, and are more confident expressing those ideas.
3) Our education system promotes common falsehoods in support of postmodern ideology, and our religious and traditional systems promote common falsehoods in support of aristocratic ideology (traditional american values).
4) The Pareto principle applies to all human activity: about 1% of people think of everything, about 19% understand and distribute that knowledge, and the remaining 80% form a long chain of imitation of that 20%. The distribution of IQ over 105 largely reflects the Pareto Principle. 105 is the boundary for articulated reason and repair of machines.
5) The evidence is that people reason much better over the past century. Its just that more people, in a wider distribution, with a lower average, participate in public discourse — and our academics have adopted a new but equally fallacious, albeit secular, religion and are propagating that religion, which both encourages confidence and spreads falsehoods. In response, the traditionalists retrench into their ideologies and so the din of irrationality continues to increase.
6) Despite the increase in population and the dramatic increase in education, hard degrees have remained relatively constant since 1963 – (we have not increased the number of ‘smart’ people getting degrees that require ‘smarts’ since that time. See Louis Menand and his bibliography on this topic.) Despite he dramatic change in our economy since the introduction of information technology and the decline of labor as an economic value, our education system still teaches using the model of the 1940’s and 1950’s – due largely to the competition over ideological control of education content combined with the resistance of teacher’s unions, and the transfer of spending on budgets from teachers salaries to administrative bureaucracy.
Advice: Until you understand the failings of science, the limits of mathematics under complexity, the lack of maturity in our understanding of the calculus of measurement, the immaturity of our understanding of economics and statistics, and the extraordinary influence of our cognitive biases – particularly false consensus bias, and the patently false content of most political philosophy, especially Postmodern political philosophy (“liberalism”), you might want to consider that allegorical, moral, and historical arguments have survived evolutionary processes and have produce positive outcomes even if articulated in arational terms. The profundity of this problem is what those of us who occupy ourselves with the solution to political problems struggle with. And this is Hayek’s lesson in The Road to Serfdom as well as the warning given us by Popper, Kuhn and Taleb, and historians like Mokyr. Reason is a limited tool, because of the variation in human ability.
The west is only beginning to understand what made it unique in world history, and it turns out that it’s not what we thought – and it might not even be very comforting – it’s just true anyway.
7) Most political differences consist of differences in time preference and mating strategy. As we evolve into individual economic units and the nuclear family becomes a minority, our different reproductive strategies – which determine our moral preferences and biases – are increasingly expressed in our political preferences, and social rhetoric. We have lost the common interest that multi house republican democracy under majority rule assumes we possess. Majority rule can solve the problem of selecting priorities for people with similar interests. Multi house majority rule can solve the problem of selecting priorities and negotiating compromises and trades between the social and economic classes. But majority rule cannot solve the problem of selecting from competing interests, or even negotiating resolutions between competing interests.
Our political system was designed to prevent legislation without wide support. But it has devolved for the reasons I mention above. and there is no solution to it in our current political system. We have an agrarian system of government designed in the age of sail, using accounting methods with agrarian (monthly) periodicity, that requires nuclear families with common interests, and a people with homogenous cultural values.
But we no longer have homogenous values, we no longer have common interests, we no longer have nuclear families, we no longer have agrarian economies, we operate in an age of instant transfer of information, and our businesses are organized, conducted, and then decline, not over generations but over less than a decades.
in context – people appear ‘dumber’ for these reasons. 🙂