The Fool or Folly, Which Comes First?: An Addendum to "Immortal Truth: A Neuroscientific Critique of Postmodernism"

By MatTehCat | MatTehCat's Blogs | 20 Nov 2021


 

 

"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." – Luke 6:26

 

 

I recently wrote a paper, Immortal Truth: A Neuroscientific Critique of Postmodernism, but I believe there may be an issue worth addressing from the conclusion that I drew in that paper, though I stand by my conclusion. To concisely summarize my conclusion: Postmodernism is a framework that disrupts Man's ability to make sense of his experiences of reality. When Man's ability to make sense of reality is disturbed, he's more likely to experience negative consequences (e.g., negative psychological, social, and physiological effects). Thus, Postmodernism is likely correlated with negative effects like poorer mental health, social instability, and physiological states of being (e.g., morbid obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.). However, issues like these are also associated with lower levels of intelligence (1., 2., & 3.) Thus, the issue with this paper was that I was not clear about whether or not Postmodernism was the ultimate cause of these issues or the mechanism by which these issues were exacerbated. Of course, these issues exist independent of whether or not Postmodernism exists; however, the ultimate cause of the inculturation and imbibing of Postmodernism was not clear. In other words, what causes the imbibing and inculturation of Postmodernism? In my opinion, the ability to problem-solve, i.e., intelligence.

 

Postmodernism does have some value, which is important to recognize. Postmodernism enables an individual to avoid closed semantic schemas by showing how a closed semantic schema's claim to have a complete conception of the truth is erroneous. In this sense, it is very creative and useful. However, this is not what people mean by Postmodernism nor what I meant by Postmodernism. Nevertheless, the logical conclusion that postmodernists draw is erroneous; i.e., we do have access to the truth, truth is not socially-constructed, and we do not have to default to semantic nihilism. Therefore, this question must be asked: what causes an individual to draw the conclusion that the truth is inaccessible, any conception of the truth is socially constructed, and we must adopt semantic nihilism? As mentioned above, the ability to problem-solve, or engage in complex problem-solving (4.). Why? Postmodernism poses a complex problem; to resolve that complex problem, you need the ability to solve complex problems that are not simply concrete problems (e.g., 8+4(5*7^3), or who was the Governor of New York State in 1930?), this ability is known as Gf (fluid intelligence), thus you need to have a certain level of Gf to solve the complex problem postmodernism poses. 

 

To avoid the conclusion reached by most postmodernists, one must be able to engage in abstract reasoning (5.), have the capacity to hold abstract concepts in working-memory for a period of time (6. & 7.), engage in abstract spatial manipulation (8.), and at least, analogical reasoning (9). Without these abilities, an erroneous conclusion would be drawn, which can be identified as wrong despite the fact that it is complex because it can be defined via a binary. The degree to which one must have access to these abilities isn't clear to me, although I will touch on that briefly. 

 

The ability to engage in complex abstract reasoning is one of the main aspects for solving complex problems (10. & 11.) and necessary to draw the conclusion that Postmodernism, in the sense that most postmodernists understand it, is false. These aspects of intelligence are also defined by g and not or secular intelligence, which means environmental effects on intelligence shouldn't resolve or add to the problems postmodernism causes per se. That is, the Flynn Effect, which has been shown to be false and is subject to immense criticism (12., 13., & 14.), cannot resolve why one doesn't or does reach the postmodern worldview, imbibes it, or is affected by it; i.e., it is not by education alone that one avoids being deluded by Postmodernism. This leads to an important question: is Postmodernism associated with lower levels of g-loaded intelligence, i.e., Gf, as I am inclined to think, or might it even exacerbate it? 

 

Essentially: which comes first, the postmodern worldview or a lower or Gf, which may be associated with the adoption and proliferation of the narratives of social constructivism or Postmodernism. 

 

There are problems with this question. First, the social conception of appropriateness, which is related to creativity, (15.), which is affected by intelligence and personality; i.e., levels of intelligence or personality profiles can determine whether something is appropriate for the general population or not. E.g., if a brilliant scientist develops a theory with applicable conclusions but the general population is unable to make sense of his theory and thus apply his conclusions, can his theory be called appropriate? Not at that time. This means that his theory, if it is true, is simply not appropriate for this given population who has a lower level of intelligence, or a personality profile that finds the theory to be inappropriate.  This also means that the utility of his theory is time-dependent; is it the right time to adopt his theory? Perhaps in the future people will be more willing to adopt his theory; i.e., many people may consider his theory too groundbreaking, capable of grievously upending the status quo (16.); i.e., they sacrifice his theory to maintain social cohesion.

 

Therefore, if Postmodernism was adopted by the general population and it also has negative effects on intelligence, the adoption of Postmodernism may have been done by a relatively unintelligent population and that the intelligentsia who adopted it must have a reason for adopting it; e.g., perhaps to maintain social cohesion. There are several problems I see, at least, with this idea.

 

First: what about societies that have never been subjected to Postmodernism or socially constructed worldviews; i.e., how could postmodernism or socially constructed worldviews not exist in those societies if the conception and proliferation of Postmodernism and socially constructed worldviews is caused by lower levels of intelligence or correlated with lower levels of intelligence? To resolve this issue, instead of correlating the adoption of Postmodernism and socially constructed worldviews with intelligence per se, it would be best to associate it with proxy measures of intelligence (e.g., social stability and trust (17.), scores on RAPM tests (18., 19., & 20.), or measures of economic wellbeing (21.)). Correlating societies or institutions with these proxies for intelligence would be a decent gauge for whether or not the societies and institutions that have adopted socially constructed worldviews or Postmodernism (in some form or aspect – e.g., men can be women, everything is relative, aggression towards foundational institutions or patriarchal institutions of authority is a good thing) are similar or reflect societies with lower levels of intelligence, especially given their correlation with intelligence. 

 

The second issue I see would be the fact that intelligent people also imbibe and proliferate the postmodern or socially constructed worldviews. Why might they do this: conformity, which is associated with intelligence (22.). This is related to whether or not a society's intelligentsia will be willing to adopt a groundbreaking theory or a theory that might upend the status quo of the society and thus threaten their position and social stability (16.). The best response to this is that there is a threshold for adopting or bucking the trend, which is required for being creative or for being less conformist (23., 24., & 25.). This could mean one of two things: Postmodernism was created by people with an above-average level of intelligence (IQ ~115 – 120), adopted by similar people, or adopted by people who wanted to maintain social stability. If this is the case, and Postmodernism and socially constructed narratives were adopted and created by such people, while also causing negative effects, then Postmodernism and socially constructed worldviews will create conditions similar to those found in societies with lower levels of intelligence, decreasing the general population's skill for and ability to avoid erroneous conclusions. Secondly, those who are more intelligent and able to recognize why postmodernism and socially constructed worldviews are erroneous may simply go along with the majority because they are more conformist; however, their conditions will continue to degrade, this will negatively affect them, and they'll be less healthy as a result, which means their ability to effectively think may really be warped by Postmodernism, supporting my first conclusion. This creates an intriguing paradox. If intelligence is associated with better life outcomes (e.g., Terman's Termites or the precocious children studies based on childhood Verbal and Mathematical SAT scores), but the adoption of the postmodern worldview causes negative life outcomes for the intelligent people who adopt it, are these people really intelligent? I.e., if we can account for conformity and they still make this decision despite being intelligent, might we be looking at intelligence incorrectly (is this a definitional issue or an issue with the battery of intelligence measurements we are using to determine if they are intelligent)? Or perhaps it really is as simple as concluding that they adopt a deleterious worldview to avoid social unrest despite the negative effects. 

 

Lastly, how might we measure the change in intelligence over time while avoiding issues like the Flynn Effect? One way to answer this question may be via response times (26.).  Social instability, or economic wellbeing, may be another proxy, especially for societies that were once well-off, as well. 

 

In conclusion, I think it would be wise to test another hypothesis related to my initial theory on Postmodernism.

 

I.e.,

 

  1. Proxy measures of intelligence should be done on societies, institutions, and people from countries who have and have not adopted Postmodernism to assess whether Postmodernism has an effect on intelligence or indicates a trend in societies who've adopted Postmodernism; i.e., are those societies becoming more or less intelligent?
  2. These studies should account for conformity, at least, which may explain why intelligent people adopt and proliferate those worldviews, despite the negative effects such views would have on their long-term success.
  3. Lastly, we can measure changes in intelligence over time (negative trends), which may be a potential cause of Postmodernism and its proliferation, in at least three ways: response times, social instability, or measures of economic wellbeing.

C: By measuring the intelligence levels of people in societies who've adopted postmodern or socially constructed worldviews via proxies, identifying the trend in intelligence in those societies (is it increasing or decreasing over time), and accounting for a confound like conformity, it is possible to show that less intelligent societies adopt postmodern or socially constructed worldviews, or that their ability to make sense of reality is warped by the inculturation of the postmodern worldview, which is caused by their desire to get along with everyone else in the society. 

 

Therefore, going back to my initial conclusion:

 

  1. Postmodernism is a framework that disrupts Man's ability to make sense of his experiences of reality.
  2. When Man's ability to make sense of reality is disturbed, he's more likely to experience negative consequences.

C: Thus, Postmodernism is likely correlated with negative effects like poorer mental health, social instability, and physiological states of being.

 

Copula Conclusion:

 

Postmodernism either causes lower levels of intelligence by affecting an individual's ability to make sense of reality, or is adopted by people with lower levels of intelligence (when you account for the conformity of highly intelligent people). This results in societies that are similar to those with lower levels of intelligence. Less intelligent people may adopt the worldview of more intelligent people who've imbibed the postmodern and socially constructed worldview to engage in social posturing to acquire more resources, exacerbating the negative effects of postmodernism and nihilistic worldviews. However, highly intelligent people may have adopted or adopt the socially constructed and postmodern worldview solely to signal how altruistic or conformist they are; i.e., it is Zahavian signaling. Thus, Postmodernism deprives a society of mental heuristics and toolsets that enable critical thinking and the capacity to make sense of reality. However, the ability to recognize, use those tools, and improve one's life by them is not completely determined by postmodern and socially constructed worldviews (i.e., not teaching a socially constructed, postmodern worldview will not alleviate this problem per se); those worldviews only make it more difficult to make sense of reality and thus lead to societal conditions analogous to those with lower levels of intelligence and may even increase the downward trend in intelligence if it's an aspect of that downward trend, which is related to mutational load (27.).

 

I hope this helps to clarify my sentiments about the ultimate cause of the negative effects we are seeing as a result of living in anti-foundationalist, socially constructed, postmodern, and nihilistic societies, which I highlighted in my paper, Immortal Truth: A Neuroscientific Critique of Postmodernism.  Importantly, it is not yet clear which came first, Postmodernism or lower levels of intelligence, from the positions and information in this paper alone, and more work must obviously be done. However, if I were to guess based on the evidence in this paper, and what it takes for a society to adopt Postmodernism (the social and environmental conditions involved), I would be inclined to think that it's caused or strongly correlated with a downward trend that has been occurring for quite some time.  Therefore, I believe my initial claim still stands. Postmodernism and its effects result from a mismatch, i.e., Humanity moving away from its environment of evolutionary adaptation and being unable to cope with the effects of that transition.  Whether the cause of, or mechanism by which it's adopted, intelligence likely has a relationship with Postmodernism, which must be explored for a proper analysis and critique of the issue, hence this follow-up paper.  

 

 

Bibliography 

 

  1. Premorbid (early life) IQ and Later Mortality Risk: Systematic Review – Batty, Deary, and Gottfredson, 2007
  2. Does cognitive ability predict mortality in the ninth decade? The Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 – Murray, Pattie, Star, and Deary, 2012
  3. Intelligence in early adulthood and subsequent hospitalisation and admission rates for the whole range of mental disorders: longitudinal study of 1,049,663 men – Gale, Batty, Tynelius, Deary, and Rasmussen, 2010
  4. Mainstream Science on Intelligence: An Editorial With 52 Signatories, History, and Bibliography – Gottfredson, 1997
  5. The neuroscience of human intelligence differences – Deary et al., 2010
  6. Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence Are Strongly Related Constructs: Comment on Ackerman, Beier, and Boyle – Kane et al., 2005
  7. Working memory and intelligence are highly related constructs, but why? – Colom, et al., 2008
  8. Spatial Ability and g – Lohman, 1996; Human Abilities: Their Nature and Measurement
  9. Fluid intelligence allows flexible recruitment of the parieto-frontal network in analogical reasoning – Preusse, 2011
  10. Reasoning and learning by analogy: Introduction – Genter and Holyoak, 1997
  11. Analogy in scientific argumentation – Gibson, 2008
  12. Is the Flynn effect on g?: A meta-analysis -- te Nijenhuis & van der Flier, 2013
  13. Are Headstart gains on the g factor? A meta-analysis – te Nijenhuis, 2014
  14. Do schooling gains yield anomalous Jensen effects? A reply to Flynn (2019) including a meta-analysis – te Nijenhuis, 2019
  15. Emotion and Creativity, East and West, -- Averill, Chon, and Hahn, 2002
  16. Taking the Propulsion Model of Creative Contributions into the 21st Century – Kaufman and Skidmore, 2010
  17. Socioeconomic Status (SES) and Children's Intelligence (IQ): In a UK-Representative Sample SES Moderates the Environmental, Not Genetic, Effect on IQ – Hanscombe, Trzaskowski, Haworth, and Davis, 2012
  18. What one intelligence test measures: A theoretical account of the processing in the Raven Progressive Matrices Test. – Carpenter, Just, and Shell, 1990
  19. Assessment of intelligence with Raven and WAIS in patients with psychosis – Nikolaos, et al., 2016
  20. Estimating age-stratified WAIS-R IQS from scores on the raven's standard progressive matrices – O'Leary, Rush, and, Guastello, 1991
  21. View on IQ, David Becker (https://viewoniq.org); accessed November, 19th, 2021
  22. Are high-IQ individuals deficient in common sense? A critical examination of the 'clever sillies' hypothesis – Woodley, 2010
  23. Threshold Theory, Creativity, and Intelligence – Runco, 1986
  24. The relationship between intelligence and creativity: New support for the threshold hypothesis by means of empirical breakpoint detection – Juak, Benedek, Dunst, and Neubauer, 2013
  25. Is creativity without intelligence possible? A Necessary Condition Analysis – Krakowski, et al., 2016
  26. Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time – Woodley, te Nijenhuis, and Murphy, 2013
  27. Making the Case for Mutation Accumulation – Sarraf, Woodley, and Feltham, 2019

 

How do you rate this article?


3

0

MatTehCat
MatTehCat

Writer, Blogger and Vlogger creating stories, rhetorical arguments, and editorials on philosophy, psychology, religion and art.


MatTehCat's Blogs
MatTehCat's Blogs

Blogs on psychology, philosophy, poetry, religion, literature, and culture.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.