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The elite are the most likely to censor themselves out of fear

By Patrick follow Patrick   2021 Apr 6, 8:11pm 228 views   16 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


https://quillette.com/2021/04/03/persuasion-and-the-prestige-paradox-are-high-status-people-more-likely-to-lie/

Many have discovered an argument hack. They don’t need to argue that something is false. They just need to show that it’s associated with low status. The converse is also true: You don’t need to argue that something is true. You just need to show that it’s associated with high status. And when low status people express the truth, it sometimes becomes high status to lie. ...

The idea is that there are two paths, or two “routes,” to persuading others. The first type, termed the “central” route, comes from careful and thoughtful consideration of the messages we hear. When the central route is engaged, we actively evaluate the information presented, and try to discern whether or not it’s true.

When the “peripheral” route is engaged, we pay more attention to cues apart from the actual information or content or the message. For example, we might evaluate someone’s argument based on how attractive they are or where they were educated, without considering the actual merits of their message.

When we accept a message through the peripheral route, we tend to be more passive than when we accept a message through the central route. Unfortunately, the peripheral route is more prevalent because we are exposed to an increasingly large amount of information.

The renowned psychologists Susan Fiske and Shelley Taylor have characterized humans as “cognitive misers.” They write, “People are limited in their capacity to process information, so they take shortcuts whenever they can.”

We are lazy creatures who try to expend as little mental energy as possible.

And people are typically less motivated to scrutinize a message if the source is considered to be an expert. We interpret the message through the peripheral route.

This is one reason why media outlets often appoint experts who mirror their political values. ...

But why does this matter? Because by understanding how and why we come to hold our beliefs, we can better understand ourselves and guard against manipulation. ...

In short, people have a mechanism in their minds. It stops them from saying something that could lower their status, even if it’s true. And it propels them to say something that could increase their status, even if it’s false. ...

Furthermore, knowing that we could lose status if we don’t believe in something causes us to be more likely to believe in it to guard against that loss. Considerations of what happens to our own reputation guides our beliefs, leading us to adopt a popular view to preserve or enhance our social positions. We implicitly ask ourselves, “What are the social consequences of holding (or not holding) this belief?”

But our reputation isn’t the only thing that matters when considering what to believe. Equally important is the reputation of others. Returning to the peripheral route of persuasion, we decide whether to believe something not only if lots of people believe it, but also if the proponent of the belief is a prestigious person. If lots of people believe something, our likelihood of believing it increases. And if a high-status person believes something, we are more prone to believing it, too. ...

People in general favor mimicking prestigious people compared to ordinary people. This is why elites have an outsized effect on culture, and why it is important to scrutinize their ideas and opinions. ...

... people across the world view media figures as more prestigious than respected members of their local communities. People on screen appear to be attractive, wealthy, popular, and powerful. Barkow writes, “All over the world, children are learning not from members of their own community but from media figures whom they perceive as prestigious… local prestige is debased.” As this phenomenon continues to grow, the opinions and actions of the globally-prestigious carry even more influence. ...

Which brings us to a question: Who is most susceptible to manipulation via peripheral persuasion? It might seem intuitive to believe that people with less education are more manipulable. But research suggests this may not be true.

High-status people are more preoccupied with how others view them. ...

Students and graduates of top universities are more prone to myside bias. ...

...researchers have found that university-educated people were two to three times more likely than high school graduates to say they supported the Communist Party. White-collar professional workers were likewise two to three times more supportive of communist ideology, relative to farm laborers and semi-skilled workers.

Patterns within the US today are consistent with these historical patterns. ...

They found that highly educated people are the most concerned about losing their jobs or missing out on job opportunities because of their political views. Twenty-five percent of those with a high school education or less are afraid of getting fired or hurting their employment prospects because of their political views, compared with 34 percent of college graduates and an astounding 44 percent of people with a postgraduate degree. ...

In the 1950s, at the height of McCarthyism, 13.4 percent of Americans reported that “felt less free to speak their mind than they used to.” In 1987, the figure had reached 20 percent. By 2019, 40 percent of Americans reported that they did not feel free to speak their minds. ...

The increase is especially pronounced among the educated class. The researchers report, “It is also noteworthy and perhaps unexpected that those who engage in self-censorship are not those with limited political resources… self-censorship is most common among those with the highest levels of education… This finding suggests a social learning process, with those with more education being more cognizant of social norms that discourage the expression of one’s views.”

Highly-educated people appear to be the most likely to express things they don’t necessarily believe for fear of losing their jobs or their reputation. Within the upper class, the true believers set the pace, and those who are loss-averse about their social positions go along with it. ...

More sobering, though, is that higher education was consistently related to less positive views of other people. In their paper they write, “to understand people’s feelings, behaviors, and social relationships, it is of key importance to know which general view they hold about others… the better people are educated, the less positive their other-perceptions are.”

So affluent people care the most about status, believe they have little power, are afraid of losing their jobs and reputation, and have less favorable views of others.

In short, opinions can confer status regardless of their truth value. And the individuals most likely to express certain opinions in order to preserve or enhance their status are also those who are already on the upper rungs of the social ladder.
1   clambo   ignore (5)   2021 Apr 7, 1:55pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I only temper my comments
1. out of etiquette in groups
2. to not offend a female

Lately I care less about both; attractive females don't care about me.

"He was shot down in flames; I hope he had a parachute."
2   WineHorror1   ignore (2)   2021 Apr 7, 2:08pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

clambo says
I only temper my comments
1. out of etiquette in groups
2. to not offend a female

And this is how the truth stays hidden.
3   Shaman   ignore (2)   2021 Apr 7, 3:08pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Holy fuck that’s a great article!
Here’s a comment that was pure 24k GOLD from a user named “The Snark.”
“ Now consider Jonathan Haidt’s observation that smart people don’t usually use their intelligence to objectively analyze a question in order to consciously reach a logical conclusion, but far more frequently use their smarts come up with plausible justifications for the opinions their subconscious told them that they want to hold or already have.

Combine those two, and you have a good insight into our current problems: our elites tend to subconsciously reach conclusions based on what their peers are saying (who in turn are saying because others of their peers are saying it), and then use their education and intellect not to question those conclusions, but to come up with plausible justifications for what they already want to believe.”

Whoever this guy is, he’s much more intelligent than I am and almost anyone I’ve ever met.
4   Shaman   ignore (2)   2021 Apr 7, 3:16pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick this article is the kill switch for woke culture. It’s the little boy pointing at the naked emperor and saying “But he’s got no clothes on!”
In a much more scholarly way, of course.
5   Patrick   ignore (1)   2021 Apr 7, 5:28pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Thanks. It kinda blew me away too. It's a bit long, but makes amazingly good and useful points about elite self-indoctrination and conformity.

Today I was getting in trouble at work for rightfully pointing out the good doctor's comments in this video:

https://patrick.net/post/1338647?offset=80#comment-1743550

But I was polite about it in spite of the vitriol directed against me. All I wanted was to be able to make my points.

Lol, what are they going to do, fire me? I have only 7 work days left until retirement.
6   stereotomy   ignore (0)   2021 Apr 7, 6:02pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

This seems like a reiteration of Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow."

There has been some pushback against the methodology underlying the book. I think it's instructive to think "both ways" when presented with an argument or an appeal. At first, react via the "fast" cognitive alternative. Later, think about it "slowly," perhaps before you fall asleep, and re-examine your conclusions of the day. I find that it is a potent learning tool with respect to confirmation bias, reactive rather than proactive motivations, etc.
7   rocketjoe79   ignore (1)   2021 Apr 7, 6:10pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
Thanks. It kinda blew me away too. It's a bit long, but makes amazingly good and useful points about elite self-indoctrination and conformity.

Today I was getting in trouble at work for rightfully pointing out the good doctor's comments in this video:

https://patrick.net/post/1338647?offset=80#comment-1743550

But I was polite about it in spite of the vitriol directed against me. All I wanted was to be able to make my points.

Lol, what are they going to do, fire me? I have only 7 work days left until retirement.


7 days? Bravo, sir! I'm right behind ya. Targeting Jun 30.
8   richwicks   ignore (4)   2021 Apr 7, 7:17pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
Highly-educated people appear to be the most likely to express things they don’t necessarily believe for fear of losing their jobs or their reputation.


I think highly educated people are simply more gullible, not that they are unconsciously trying to attain "status".

"Highly educated" people mostly learn from "experts" and as a result, they HAVE to be gullible in order to assimilate the information as people wouldn't waste their time getting a degree that they think is entirely bullshit.
9   WineHorror1   ignore (2)   2021 Apr 7, 7:37pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

richwicks says
Patrick says
Highly-educated people appear to be the most likely to express things they don’t necessarily believe for fear of losing their jobs or their reputation.


I think highly educated people are simply more gullible, not that they are unconsciously trying to attain "status".

"Highly educated" people mostly learn from "experts" and as a result, they HAVE to be gullible in order to assimilate the information as people wouldn't waste their time getting a degree that they think is entirely bullshit.

IMO, the really smart people, those with wide understanding, are those who forge their own paths. We used to have lots of them. They were entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs wear many hats and deal with many problems on a daily basis. Problems ranging from finances to planning and implementing new services to forecasting.
10   Shaman   ignore (2)   2021 Apr 7, 7:48pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Our intelligentsia class is mostly concerned with doing less work for more unearned money while gaining more underlings to abuse.
11   richwicks   ignore (4)   2021 Apr 7, 9:44pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

WineHorror1 says
IMO, the really smart people, those with wide understanding, are those who forge their own paths. We used to have lots of them. They were entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs wear many hats and deal with many problems on a daily basis. Problems ranging from finances to planning and implementing new services to forecasting.


I'd agree with that point of view. It's my contention that people who are traditionally considered "smart" - aren't really. They are complex solving algorithms.

I am shocked by how few people are skeptical of this pandemic for example, and I'm in Silly Con Valley. I really thought people were smart here. I actually got into a little conversation with somebody at work and I brought up that several governors, including our own, had placed sars-cov2-19 patients in nursing homes. You know what his response was as we were talking in our almost entirely empty office building?

"well, where else are you going to put them?"

There's PLENTY of space now. Hotels are empty, tech buildings are empty, gyms are empty - but it's a great idea to place sick people into the most vulnerable population we have. I was disgusted. I think it was at that point I decided fuck this job and fuck the people I work with. I am so, very, disappointed with "smart" people.

The upside to this is now I realize how the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany came into being. I couldn't understand it quite until recently. I didn't think it would happen in the "land of the free and the brave" - turns out that's just propaganda. It's the land of slaves and cowards. People are afraid to think.
12   Patrick   ignore (1)   2021 Apr 7, 9:47pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

rocketjoe79 says
7 days? Bravo, sir! I'm right behind ya. Targeting Jun 30.



Happy to hear that, @rocketjoe79
13   Patrick   ignore (1)   2021 Apr 7, 9:50pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

richwicks says
"Highly educated" people mostly learn from "experts" and as a result, they HAVE to be gullible in order to assimilate the information as people wouldn't waste their time getting a degree that they think is entirely bullshit.



Right, I think there's something to this.

Maybe everything.

Note how conformity and self censorship goes straight up with "education". It makes sense. Education is about obedience and accepting what you're told is true, not questioning the teacher.
14   richwicks   ignore (4)   2021 Apr 7, 10:38pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
Note how conformity and self censorship goes straight up with "education". It makes sense. Education is about obedience and accepting what you're told is true, not questioning the teacher.


Precisely. Teacher was always right when I was a young, stupid, child. My history teacher in high school was only, exclusively, teaching propaganda.

That caused me quite a bit of confusion when I hit college. Same with physics, we were given simplified equations in Newtonian mechanics, and I remember the frustration of when I learned Relativity. Relativity simplifies to Newtonian mechanics, but why didn't they just teach Relativity and start out with "these don't matter for speeds at below 1% of the speed of light"?

The "simplified" propaganda and physics (and math) went a long way to forcing me to distrust what I learned. What finally killed my trust was my Aunt gave me a gift subscription to the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. You might find that publication to be anti-Semitic (which I did when I got it, and I was shocked to learn my Aunt was "anti-Semitic") when in reality I later realized is that everything in the publication (at least at that time) was entirely true. Our news media lied through omission. Now they just lie.

For example news media stated that Palestinians had sent in rockets into Israel - what it never stated was how pointless (and mostly harmless - not entirely harmless) Qassam rockets were, or that Israel had been bombing the West Bank for the previous 3 months and it was retaliation.

That fundamentally changed me and got me to reach out to other people in the world to just talk with them. Back in the 1990's, the ONLY people on the net were academics and researchers and a FEW people not in that area. I found a lot of people like me also reaching out. It was a golden age. I learned so much. I wonder if that can be recreated? I need to create something that allows other people to see, just as I was able to 30 years ago.
15   PeopleUnited   ignore (1)   2021 Apr 8, 4:34pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
rocketjoe79 says
7 days? Bravo, sir! I'm right behind ya. Targeting Jun 30.



Happy to hear that, @rocketjoe79


Congrats Gentlemen!
16   PeopleUnited   ignore (1)   2021 Apr 8, 5:04pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
richwicks says
"Highly educated" people mostly learn from "experts" and as a result, they HAVE to be gullible in order to assimilate the information as people wouldn't waste their time getting a degree that they think is entirely bullshit.



Right, I think there's something to this.

Maybe everything.

Note how conformity and self censorship goes straight up with "education". It makes sense. Education is about obedience and accepting what you're told is true, not questioning the teacher.


What you are describing is indoctrination. Obedience and conformity are hallmarks of successful indoctrination.

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