The death of expertise continues apace


We know Donald Trump despises the UN, so I’m interpreting this as an act of spite: he’s appointing to the post of UN Ambassador one of those interchangeable blonde Fox News talking heads, Heather Nauert. She’s not a diplomat, she’s had no real training from the State Department (she has been a spokesman), and she seems to be prone to gaffes. But we all also know what Trump considers “qualifications”.

She has been a strong defender of Trump’s at the podium, something he has clearly noticed.

She’s excellent, she’s been with us a long time, she’s been a supporter for a long time, Trump told reporters on Nov. 1.

Sycophancy has replaced competence as the key requirement for high positions in government. The other day I saw a Jordan Peterson clip in which he was babbling about how Western culture was a meritocracy and how hierarchies in society were a reflection of degree of competence. I laughed. He has no idea at all.

Comments

  1. Jazzlet says

    Hopefully it will help those elsewhere in the world, who are still looking to see what the USA thinks on an issue before declaring that they agree, that we’re on our own for the moment. Maybe it will help them realise we’ve always been on our own, it’s just that previous presidents have been a bit more subtle about it.

  2. HappyHead says

    But but but! But Peterson lives here in Ontario, where we (someone points out Ontario’s PM handing chief of police of Toronto job to his buddy ahead of all of the people who were actually supposed to get the job…) er… right. Nevermind.

  3. says

    The other day I saw a Jordan Peterson clip in which he was babbling about how Western culture was a meritocracy…

    Anyone who honestly believes that not only has their head in the sand and completely ignores all the studies and evidence that show us otherwise, they are also racist and sexist. Of course that explains why they keep grabbing on to any crackpottery that allows them to keep believing we’re a meritocracy where it’s mostly white men rising to the top.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    In 1938, Stalin murdered the competent generals and replaced them with loyal hacks. He also let a sycophant named Trofim Lysenko be in charge of agricultural practices. These two decisions cost the lives of tens of millions of soviet citizens.

  5. militantagnostic says

    Tabby Lavalamp @3

    Anyone who honestly believes that not only has their head in the sand and completely ignores all the studies and evidence that show us otherwise, they are also racist and sexist.

    And have never worked for any mediium or large corporation.

    believing we’re a meritocracy where it’s mostly white men rising to the top

    .
    You forgot tall. When I worked for Dome Petroleum made presentations to senior management up to one level below the the trio who looted the the company after driving it off a cliff with debt. I noticed 2 things, how tall they were with the exception of our manager Little Ed and how dim they were except for Little Ed.

    I heard and interview with the author of a biography a former CEO of Royal Bank of Canada. The author mentioned that this guy’s would not have been able to advance very far (because his father was a blue collar worker) if he had not had a champion higher up in the organization. She put this in context by mentioning that managers had to be at least 6 feet tall. Meritocracy my back behind.

  6. robro says

    Michelle Obama’s recent comment about the leaders is interesting: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”

  7. lucifersbike says

    If Western culture were truly meritocratic, Jordan Peterson would be a shift leader at a burger joint.

  8. ridana says

    This administration has been up to so much mean-spirited wrecking of all the things, that I can’t even keep up. I only learned today that for the last 2 years Trump has been trying to defund public libraries and museums to throw a few million in the pot to pay for his billion dollar tax cuts and military shopping sprees. I’m shocked but not shocked, because we know he hates experts and education and reading even more than he hates the U.N., since he already knows everything he needs to know and more than anyone else will ever know in the history of mankind, so libraries, feh, who needs ’em. Still, I am shocked, and am tired of feeling this way every freaking day that some new fuckwittery comes bubbling to the surface of his putrid cesspool.

  9. jrkrideau says

    @ 2 HappyHead
    It can be a bit embarrassing to admit that Rob Ford was a better choice than Doug.

    @5 militantagnostic
    You forgot tall
    Have you ever noticed how tall Vladimir Putin is?
    Zakharova receives an award ( about 2.20)

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    jrkrideau @11:

    Have you ever noticed how tall Vladimir Putin is?

    It’s one of those “not absolutely required, but it helps” thingies. Like being white, or male, or sociopathic. So Putin’s got three out of four.

  11. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Maybe the garbage idea of meritocracy will finally die as it deserves. It’s almost always been a lie told by the already powerful to justify their own position (i.e. they must be the best of the best if they are so wealthy) with a few scraps thrown to selected exceptional individuals to keep up the lie. The nonsense of “equality of opportunity” has never existed, and if people would start disbelieving this particular lie, we might stand a chance of making some lasting improvements to society.

  12. John Morales says

    ck,

    Maybe the garbage idea of meritocracy will finally die as it deserves.

    But then, maybe the near-universal degree of incompetence or antipathy towards the supposed goals of the organisations they head by such appointees would then suggest the concept of appointees who are not just adequate, but possibly even meritorious towards those goals as its converse.

    The concept is not a lie, whether or not it routinely gets missaplied.
    Maybe it is better to think of it as an ideal than as a mere idea.

  13. John Morales says

    PS

    The nonsense of “equality of opportunity” has never existed, and if people would start disbelieving this particular lie, we might stand a chance of making some lasting improvements to society.

    Ditto. Careless language, there.

    That “equality of opportunity” has never existed does not entail it may never exist, nor that it should not be an aspiration. So, it’s not a nonsense idea, any more than is meritocracy.

  14. says

    Those that throw about the term “meritocracy” with abandon usually seem to be unaware that it was invented as a satire[1] by British sociologist Michael Young, a man probably better known today, unfortunately, for having fathered odious Tory shitweasel Toby Young. Which, when you think about it, is two bastard abominations to have let loose on an unhappy world. What a legacy.

    [1] Not the first time this has happened, of course. As most IT folks around here probably know, the so-called “waterfall model” of software development was put forward in a paper as an example of something that could not possibly work, as something to be criticised so that something better could be built– yet was seized on by an ignorant industry and trumpeted as “best practice” for decades despite all evidence showing it didn’t bloody work…

  15. raven says

    Jordan Peterson never bothers to pay attention to reality, data, or facts.
    He is simply a babbling idiot in service to white males and the oligarchies.

    Upward mobility has fallen sharply in US: study – Phys.org
    https://phys.org › Other Sciences › Economics & Business
    Apr 24, 2017 – The fading American dream: Economic mobility has nearly halved since … for children to attain a higher income than their parents has dropped …

    If the US was a meritocracy, it should be reflected in upward social mobility.
    Upward social mobility actually does exist in the USA and it is considered a highly desirable property for a society.
    It has also been dropping steadily for many decades by a lot.
    When Peterson isn’t flat out lying, he is usually just flat out…wrong on the facts and data.

  16. petesh says

    A11: Putin is also, by every account, very smart, so 4 out of 5. Nowadays he’s also very rich, which would make 5 out of 6, but he got his start without that, so set it aside. But his promo videos make it look as though he’s built like a brick shithouse, which tries (fairly successfully, it seems) to compensate for the one that is lacking. I understand that his hands are lethal weapons, too.

  17. zetopan says

    “I understand that his hands are lethal weapons, too.”

    Not nearly as lethal as his commands!

  18. tbp1 says

    To be fair, there’s always been some of this going on, including in Democratic administrations, but in the past it’s mostly been for appointments that are mostly ceremonial, like ambassador to Lichtenstein, where even screwups couldn’t do serious damage.

  19. jrkrideau says

    @ 21zetopan
    Did you see the picture of Pence glaring at Putin?
    It was a joke in action. Putin was not impressed.

    Putin really is a black belt in one oriental martial art and an expert in Sambo, a Soviet unarmed combat.

    Attempting to physically intimidate a world leader who can personally tie you into fancy knots is not a really bright move.

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