We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Generally the better educated are more prone to irrational political opinions and political hysteria than the worse educated far from power. Why? In the field of political opinion they are more driven by fashion, a gang mentality, and the desire to pose about moral and political questions all of which exacerbate cognitive biases, encourage groupthink, and reduce accuracy. Those on average incomes are less likely to express political views to send signals; political views are much less important for signalling to one’s immediate in-group when you are on 20k a year. The former tend to see such questions in more general and abstract terms, and are more insulated from immediate worries about money. The latter tend to see such questions in more concrete and specific terms and ask ‘how does this affect me?’.

– Dominic Cummings, On the referendum #21: Branching histories of the 2016 referendum and ‘the frogs before the storm’

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • bobby b

    “Well, why would I take political advice from a bunch of wankers who can’t make more than 20k per year? If they had any smarts, they’d be making more. I’ll certainly take political advice from my betters, but there are just so few of them . . .”

    Ego solidifies opinion. Even ignorant opinion.

  • Flubber

    “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

    ― George Orwell

    He really had their number.

  • Paul Marks

    Flubber – as you may know that is Orwell doing a loose translation of Cicero. And it is true – some things are so absurd that only a “philosopher”, cut off from reality and ordinary human experience, could be misguided enough to believe them.

    For example thinking that an extra layer of government pushing endless new regulations, the European Union, is a good thing.

    The “intellectuals” think they can control the European Union, and the wealthy think they can manipulate its regulations to destroy competition.

    Such things as the European Union are set up for all sorts of reasons – mad “intellectuals” think they will create a “better world” (taking power from the “racist-sexist-homophobic….” ordinary people that they so despise), corrupt corporate managers think they can manipulate them and-so-on. But the state (as Anthony De Jasay pointed out) have a logic of their own, a LIFE of their own. State power grows for its own sake.

    In the end the “treason of the intellectuals” will destroy the very people who support it.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, Orwell took the line from Cicero? I didn’t know that. Thanks.

  • Mr Ed

    Julie, in the first place Cicero actually took it from Paul, who is an occulted ‘Gandalf’, he just doesn’t know that yet 😉

  • Chip

    Signaling is part of it. But I think modern education is mostly to blame.

    Whereas learning used to build on our thousands of years of cutural experiences and evolution (ie, common sense), education too often tries to replace common sense with a new system of beliefs and behavior.

    New systems that have higher costs than benefits used to be quickly discarded when our lives were fragile.

    But today, with so much wealth to cushion our mistakes and governments happily funding ruinous ideas, the new systems never die no matter how awful.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul is — or will go back to being — Gandalf!


    Well, thank you, Mr Ed. That clears up a lot for me.

    I think. :>|

  • The Pedant-General


    “British elites handed over power to the Monnet-Delors project with barely one-in-a-thousand understanding in detail why, what it involved, and its likely evolution (and that one-in-a-thousand almost all concluded that the public could not be trusted to know the truth”

    That said, it’s hard not to feel a little uneasy that the end justified the means in DC’s approach. He clearly gets – as per quote above – that the EU is not a force for good, but that that argument could not be made directly if they wanted to win. All in all, I’m left feeling that we won, that it was at once right, necessary and not in the least pre-ordained that we would win, but I can’t help feeling a bit grubby at how it was done.

    How very libertarian…

  • I think The Pedant-General (January 9, 2019 at 9:15 am) is being unfair to Dominic Cummings. The points Dominic makes before and after the part that TPD quotes relate to what issues could be practically raised. Since, as Dominic remarks, the supposedly educated interviewers and commentators no more understood the single market than “a brickie in Darlington”, so that any discussion with them involved a constant, fruitless attempt to correct basic misunderstandings – and rarely received from them the professionalism that would even let the attempt be made – the campaign naturally focussed most on points it could make.

  • While Orwell would have translated much Cicero at his crammer and at Eton, and may have quoted him on occasion, I think the best known Orwell quote about the gullibility of intellectuals dates from the mid-war years.

    I have heard it confidently asserted that American troops are being brought to England to crush an English revolution, not to invade the continent. You have to be an intellectual to believe a thing like that. No common man could be such a fool.

    (quoted from memory). Usually only the last two sentences are quoted but I thought it might interest people to have the specific example of what an intellectual in 1943 could believe.

  • The Pedant-General


    That’s a fair criticism. The piece overall is staggeringly brilliant and chimes completely – and validates completely – my decision to vote leave. Your summary of the piece and the campaign is quite correct. The problem I’ve got is that they had to focus on a couple of potentially peripheral points, immigration being the most egregious, to the exclusion of the actual goal.

    My complaint throughout the campaign was that no-one dealt with the fundamentally underlying poltiical philosophy problems. It really really irked to be told that the Leave campaign was thinking short term (old people voting for it and wrecking the future prospects of the young) when in reality it was the exact opposite. It is good to see that this was properly understood by DC, but doesn’t detract from my irked-ness in that it was never voiced.

    In other news, it’s a gift that is still giving. This from the comments:

    What really did it for me was Cameron’s own assessment that his greatest achievement in politics was the upgrading of civil partnerships to gay marriages. Now I approve of gay marriage, it’s fine by me. But it’s the sort of pleasing thing that should be a cherry on the top of a substantial cake of political achievement. It has almost no bearing on the pressing practical concerns of voters. A whole generation of young workers that can’t afford to buy even the most modest property; people whose home towns have, without consultation, been utterly transformed by unprecedented economic migration; a nagging sense that one’s children will have lots of gadgets but no real prospect of reliable, well-paid work or a decent family home…. And there’s Cameron proudly trumpeting gay marriage as his great achievement for the nation? He left no cake, only a cherry sitting sadly on a great empty plate.

  • Flubber


    “British elites handed over power to the Monnet-Delors project with barely one-in-a-thousand understanding in detail why, what it involved, and its likely evolution (and that one-in-a-thousand almost all concluded that the public could not be trusted to know the truth”

    As Monnet himself stated:

    “Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.”

    Hence Remain’s focus on bollocks like “no one voted to be poorer” (if this dictum held, there would be no green agenda for example)

  • Itellyounothing

    Or socialism.

    I don’t think lack of foresight was by voting for independence it showed the opposite. Short term pain accepted for long term gain by regaining control of the country.

    Every remain critique of voting leave seems more like the psychologically projected flaws of chief remainers not independence voters.

  • staghounds

    Politics is celebrity gossip and team sports fandom for clever people.

  • Paul Marks


    Yes – from the decline of the Common Sense School in American universities after the death of Noah Porter (1890) and James McCosh (1894) all the bad things followed.

    They really did – for a fish goes rotten from the head first. When the intellectual elite become corrupted (as they started to be in the very late 19th century in the United States – basically from the 1880s on) EVENTUALLY everything else becomes corrupted as well.

    In some universities reason clung on – but in the elite universities (such as Harvard) it was already in terrible decline even in the early 1900s (see the Harvard Law School).