[Paleopsych] White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Fri Nov 12 00:12:46 UTC 2004

Karen, et al.:

Actually, this idea that the masses want a dunce is a rather old idea, 
and fortunately one that has not proven itself. I think we can agree 
that our presidents have been remarkable each in his own way, and 
criticism of the current one is short-sighted. Mencken was a clever 
writer, but not necessarily wise. I say that at the considerable risk of 
alienating Frank Foreman, a man of huge intellect.
    Take a look at "Wisdom of Crowds" by Surowicki. He demonstrates that 
aggregate wisdom is remarkably accurate. That being said, it may well be 
that either would have made a fairly good president, but perhaps it will 
turn out that Bush will be somewhat better (1% or 2% better??).
The following is from:  http://www.randomhouse.com/features/wisdomofcrowds/

"No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by 
underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."
-H. L. Mencken

H. L. Mencken was wrong.

In this endlessly fascinating book, New Yorker columnist James 
Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound 
implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no 
matter how brilliant--better at solving problems, fostering innovation, 
coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.

This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless and major 
ramifications for how businesses operate, how knowledge is advanced, how 
economies are (or should be) organized and how we live our daily lives. 
With seemingly boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, 
Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, 
psychology, ant biology, economic behaviorism, artificial intelligence, 
military history and political theory to show just how this principle 
operates in the real world.

    From a broader perspective, I recommend we look at Appreciative 
Inquiry as a model for dealing with this election. AI involves a way of 
capturing the wisdom of large groups and transmuting those groups by 
coordinated committed action. Check out:
and click on the introduction button.

I personally was touched by Kerry's appeal to come together now (quite a 
change for me, since I had an irrational and embarassing dislike for the 
man) and am going to do all I can to promote that. I believe 
passionately in the power of positive visions, and I believe in the 
transformational possibilities of seeing our leaders appreciatively. I 
ask you to join me in that.

Lynn Johnson
Salt Lake City

K.E. wrote:

> When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face 
> men of
> sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is that they
> are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any 
> save the
> most elemental -- men whose whole thinking is done in terms of 
> emotion, and
> whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So
> confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack, or count 
> himself
> lost. His one aim is to disarm suspicion, to arouse confidence in his
> orthodoxy, to avoid challenge. If he is a man of convictions, of 
> enthusiasm,
> or self-respect, it is cruelly hard...
> The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small
> electorates, a first rate man occasionally fights his way through, 
> carrying
> even a mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the 
> field is
> nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second or third 
> hand, and
> the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the
> odds are on the man who is, intrinsically the most devious and mediocre
> -- 
> the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a
> virtual vacuum.
> The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is
> perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul
> of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious
> day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at 
> last, and the
> White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
> --H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920
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