Danger Room reports on a little-known episode of imaginary Candian espionage:
The harmless "poppy coin" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.A good argument against coin-based espionage is that there’s no guarantee your target won’t pump the coins into a vending machine, toss them superstitiously into a fountain, or drop them in a homeless person’s cup. Honestly, you’d think that any idiot would be able to figure this out. And yet, this problem apparently bedeviled the minds of presumably well-educated people who held positions of great authority.
Which brings me to an excellent post by PZ Myers, in which he attacks the eugenicist assumptions of C.W. Kornbluth’s story “The Marching Morons”:
[I]t fed into a strain of self-serving smugness in science-fiction fandom, the idea that people who read SF are special and brilliant and superior, we are the technological geniuses and far-seeing futurists, while the mundanes leech off our vision. The eugenics movement built on the same us-vs.-them mentality, that there are superiors and inferiors, and the inferiors breed like cockroaches.This quasi-Platonic claptrap is far more widespread on the Left than it ought to be, given that it’s the natural ideology of objectivists, racists, and their allies. PZ’s remark about fandom reinforces my distrust of consumerist identity politics (e.g., music snobbery, and underground culture generally), but that’s a rant for another day.
The most troubling part of it all is the attempt to root the distinction in biology—it's intrinsic. "They" are lesser beings than "us" because, while their gonads work marvelously well, their brains are inherently less capacious and their children are born with less ability. It's the kind of unwarranted labeling of people that leads to decisions like "three generations of imbeciles are enough"—bigotry built on bad biology to justify suppression by class.And race:
Do you have any Irish, or Jewish, or Italian, or Native American, or Asian, or whatever (literally—it's hard to find any ethnic origin that wasn't despised at some time) in your ancestry? Go back a hundred years or so, and your great- or great-great-grandparents were regarded as apes or subhumans or mentally deficient lackeys suitable only for menial labor.He also deals a glancing blow to the notion of “dysfunctional culture”:
[T]hat isn't about despising intelligence, it's about conforming to the trappings of your group and not adopting the markers of another class, especially when that class has a habit of treating you like dirt and talking abstractly about how to expunge you, your family, and your friends from the gene pool.While assuming, foolishly, that you're too stupid to notice.
I won’t quote any more of the post, because everyone ought to read it in full; every word is a sermon in itself.
Since it's more or less the theme of this blog, I have to add that despite – or perhaps because of - their opportunities, their education, their knowledge, and their privilege, our expert class tends to make an awful lot of stupid, shortsighted, and dangerous decisions. The fact that they do so while living in relative luxury doesn't make them superior to people who make stupid decisions while living in ghettoes or trailer parks. Quite the opposite, in fact.