How the World Is Run by Mediocrity (and Rightfully So)
Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven. —Edward de Bono
As many of you know, since I stopped being an ordained monk I’ve been working at sheet metal shops, first one, and now another that pays better. One thing that I’ve noticed since working at such places is that the people that work and do business at such places are pretty much average with regard to intelligence and pretty much everything else, and that it is people like this that are the backbone of a civilization, including a technological and industrial one.
Setting aside higher management, who statistically, I suppose, are placed a bit farther to the right on the statistical bell-shaped curve, most of the people who work at a place like a sheet metal shop are guys who got C’s in school, didn’t go to college, tend not to be very talented at innovative problem solving, and drink lots of beer. They’re average guys, statistically speaking; though of course we’re all miraculous in some way. But even though they are average with regard to innate talents, they are able to do really impressive things, things so impressive that our extremely complex society functions relatively smoothly.
Consider operating a forklift. It is a skill that must be learned, though some people are naturally better at it than others, even with training. Operating a forklift at a sheet metal shop may require picking up 30-foot long panels or other long metal and moving it around without destroying anything. Also it may require moving large coils of steel weighing almost five tons each—again without destroying anything. Sometimes it may even require loading many hundreds of pounds of metal onto a very sketchy-looking vehicle, after which another person of average intelligence will manage to get the loaded van or trailer or whatever to a worksite (again without destroying anything). Operating a forklift, even while doing routine tasks, can be scary for me even after having a certification for well over a year.
Then there are the other machines that are required to produce corrugated roofing, trim, and so on. They are big, expensive machines that cannot be run by some untrained person off the street, even though that person might have a university degree and be relatively very intelligent. (Such a person could be trained more quickly, and with fewer mistakes, than the average guy, but still he would probably destroy something if he tried coming in off the street and operating such a machine without at least a week of intensive training.) Also there’s the multitude of 18-wheel semi trucks that all require skilled drivers, let alone all the construction workers to install the metal roofing components after they have been manufactured and delivered.
So what has impressed me about the human race since I began working as a blue-collar semiskilled laborer is that even a person who got C’s in school and is pretty much average can master one or more specific tasks that most other people can’t do—like backing up a huge trailer truck or bending metal on a brake without crushing his own fingers. It appears that how our species has created and maintained an industrial and technological society is by having people with average intelligence, and thus not too bright, master a few impressive skills each, which dovetail with all the others to cause our material world to flow relatively smoothly most of the time. It causes me to have more respect for the average guy. Just about any guy of anywhere near average intelligence can do something that most people can’t do, like fix a hydraulic motor, or troubleshoot an electrical system, or play a guitar, or grill a steak to perfection. Many if not most of us are driven by society and our own nature to master some potentially impressive skill.
I have read and heard, though, from multiple sources (including Jordan Peterson), that there is a minimum level of intelligence that allows a person to master a modern technological skill. If I recall correctly the cut-off is at around an IQ of 88 to 90. Thus I have also been informed that an average national IQ of around 90 is the minimum for a nation or society to be able to maintain a modern level of industry and technology. No matter how intelligent the leaders are, the average guy has to be able to learn those mundane but impressive skills that keep the civilization moving forward, or at least holding steady.
The purpose of this post is merely to share this little insight I had since I started working at a sheet metal shop, and it is not to get into the issue of human biodiversity or "race realism" (a topic I discussed quite a lot during the first year or two of the existence of this here blog), but I may as well point out that Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and more recently, South Africa appear to be cases in point with regard to a minimum average level of cognitive abilities being necessary to maintain a modern, western-style industrial civilization. After the Europeans (with an average IQ of 100, since the scale is calibrated that way) were mostly driven out of skilled professions in those countries, and were replaced by people who not only were not skilled but less capable even of becoming skilled, both nations began an inevitable decline into a pre-industrial level of society. Some would say that it was little or nothing more than the corrupt nepotism that replaced meritocracy that has resulted in the decline, but even the corrupt nepotism was the result of a lower level of cognitive ability even at the highest levels. But again, my purpose here is not to wrangle with the “Africa Question.” As I've said before, everyone and every ethnicity excels at something, and it is probable that the ethnicity best equipped to run a modern, technological society is the one which invented it, and that is the European "race." Other ethnicities excel at other things.
One other little offshoot or digression of this idea of average people each cultivating some valuable skill through application of average intelligence and much repetition, and thus making a valuable contribution to keeping technological samsara going (which I must admit is preferable in many ways to pre-technological samsara), is that, as suggested by the opening quote, some very intelligent people are less skilled in their thinking than the average forklift operator. Lately this is largely due to indoctrination (by the educational system), propaganda (by the mainstream media), and peer group pressure turning otherwise intelligent people into fools that in most respects are worse than useless to a properly functioning society. Intelligent, educated people can easily deviate from empirical common sense through their preference for elegant-sounding theories over ugly, dirty facts (which helps to explain why human biodiversity is absolutely taboo in the postmodern west), which is already somewhat of a handicap which causes the ruling elite to become clueless with regard to what is actually best for society. So it is heartening that we can fall back on the average guy, who admittedly watches TikTok, plays video games, and drinks much beer, at least to keep the warehouses stocked and the trains running on time.