Along with Genesis, the Gospels, and Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Socrates’ Apologia, written by Plato, is one of the founding documents of Western thought, part of our dual inheritance from Athens and Jerusalem.
In the Apologia, Socrates describes how he set out to disprove the oracle’s claim that there was “no man wiser” than himself. Socrates thought that couldn’t be true because he knew that he knew nothing.
Socrates went through the city interviewing various experts to find a wiser man. He went to politicians, poets, craftsmen – and in each case, he discovered that they too knew nothing but, unlike him, they didn’t know they knew nothing. The oracle was right: there was no man wiser than Socrates because Socrates knew what he didn’t know.
Among other things, the Apologia testifies to the ubiquity of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. According to Wikipedia, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is “a cognitive bias in which people assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority.”
They might have added it also related to the cognitive bias of leftism.
This week, in what may be one of the most misjudged moments in the history of television, CNN anchor Don Lemon and his two guests, Rick Wilson and Wajahat Ali, laughed themselves silly over the stupidity of what Wilson called (in a mock southern accent), the “credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump that wants to think that Donald Trump is the smart one and y’all elitists are dumb.”
What struck me about the CNN laugh-fest was not the fact that Don and his pals think I’m an idiot – I read Plato; I know I know nothing – but the fact that these dopes actually think they’re smart. Like the experts interviewed by Socrates, they are suffering from a near-fatal case of Dunning-Kruger.
To start with the three CNN laugh-meisters themselves. Trump is right about Lemon. He is “the dumbest man on television.” This is a guy who speculated that a missing Malaysian Airlines jet may have been swallowed by a black hole, and advised a Bill Cosby rape victim that she might have escaped by biting the comedian’s digit.
Ali is just a typical leftist scribbler who sees bigotry in every opinion that differs from his, but Wilson’s a genuine knucklehead. A sample of his articles at The Daily Beast includes: “Trump’s s***ting bricks,” “Trump’s Already F***ed the GOP,” “Trumpism will F*** Us Forever,” “Now Trump’s F***ed” and “You’re in Deep S***, Donald.” With this sort of stunning eloquence, Wilson has been predicting Trump’s downfall since his election. His faith in the Trump-destroying power of the Mueller report was downright touching.
Stepping back for a wider look, a recent survey of voter knowledge from the independent Just Facts institute found that Trump voters got answers right substantially more than Democrats. A 2018 General Social Survey found that Trump voters scored significantly higher on verbal ability and scientific knowledge than Clinton supporters.
It is true that Clinton’s voters had higher education levels than Trump’s, but given the leftist bent of our education system – and my own experience among highly educated people – I very much doubt education equals intelligence, and I know it has nothing to do with wisdom.
Finally, there’s this. In the first weeks of 2020, the stock market – powered by Trump’s low tax and regulation policies – hit its highest level ever. Trump engineered the death of Qasem Soleimani, possibly the world’s worst terrorist. Trump signed a new NAFTA-style trade deal and engineered a preliminary trade deal with China. A new Gallup poll shows voter satisfaction has risen since Trump took office on issues ranging from the economy to security to race relations. And American life expectancy – which had been dropping because of drug use and suicide – has risen for the first time in three years, which I suspect is at least in part because of Trump’s focus on American job creation.
In each of these areas, the elite experts predicted disaster: falling stocks, World War III with Iran, trade wreckage, race war, and the catastrophic death of globalism. In each of these areas … not so much.
What have the Democrats accomplished meanwhile? Impeachment – doubtless in the hope it will help the election chances of their leading candidates: Joe “The Deep Thinker” Biden, and Bernie Sanders, who hasn’t changed his mind since Karl Marx died.
My point is not that Trump voters are geniuses. My point is that leftist elites are fools. In the grips of the Dunning-Kruger effect, they have forgotten the wisdom of Socrates, if they ever possessed it at all.