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April 10, 2021



"What we have in public discourse is not the institutionalized intelligence that has made Beverly Hills or Boeing prosper, but institutionalized stupidity."

Boeing sells you the idea of a plane. Plenty of others know how to build planes safer. Boeing cons you.

That's what you get out of regimented and policed discourse: market failures like the 737 Max ...

If your ideas are good, they will withstand every troll attack. If you have to censor others before your ideas sell, that means your ideas are fragile and puny.

Good argument needs no rules. Your arguments must stand for themselves in all contexts, against all attacks. If you need to enforce rules of debate, you will get weak drivel that excludes 90% of reality.


But "those moron-yak shows" actually succeed. They get those ideas spread to viewer, that's why those viewer watch. If people show humility and make their interlocutor feel good, theirs failed as institution. TV and Radio show goals is to spread ideas to "viewer/listener" not to those at studio.

There are different rules for one to one conversation , public debate, and media events.to treat them as same is mistake.


"I’d suggest that the Tory party is an example of this. Each individual in the party is cognitively limited. But the party as an organization has a fearsome ability to reinvent itself and win elections."

I think the training goes back a long way. It starts at Eton (or before). It's an institution that breeds a competitive survival instinct.


Interesting your analogy with music and sport. A performance is something that is associated with spontaneity and being in the moment, but it is as an impulse that results from endless practice. I almost always prefer recitals to studio recordings.


Should say that Eton and Bullingdon did a better job at this type of training with Johnson than it did with Cameron, however.


I think @rsm "institutionalized stupidity." is called putting the short term greedy "finance guy's" in charge of an engineering company.

Result 346 dead.

First they alter the centre of gravity and handling of the plane.


"The relocated engines and their refined nacelle shape1 caused an upward pitching moment — in essence, the Max’s nose was getting nudged skyward. Boeing quietly added a new system “to compensate for some unique aircraft handling characteristics during it’s (sic) Part 25 certification” and help pilots bring the nose down in the event the jet’s angle of attack drifted too high when flying manually, putting the aircraft at risk of stalling, according to a series of questions and answers provided to pilots at Southwest Airlines, the largest 737 Max operator reviewed by The Air Current."


Then they implemented a quick fix in software, called MCAS.

Then they told no-one and did not retrain the pilots on the new handelling (which would have been at boeings expense).

They only used two sensors for MCAS. MCAS was activated by one (faulty sensor).

"MCAS is activated without the pilot’s input, which has led to some frustration among pilots of the 737 Max jet. At least half a dozen pilots have reported being caught off guard by sudden descents in the aircraft"

Safety systems are optional extras like an MCAS warning light, or knowledge of MCAS!

"But other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, and are more fundamental to the plane’s operations."

Financiers should not be in charge of engineering (or other) companies.

And should not be in charge of the allocation of capital.

As they self-define as short term greedy and have a history of shortcuts and fraud.

Greed is not good, and wealth does not correspond with IQ, for Boris information.

Allan Wort

This is a huge step forward. Well done.

"In a world of huge inequality of power in which we lack institutions which embed good rules of argument, there’s a danger that Leslie’s call for us to be reasonable merely means us accepting injustice, inefficiency and dishonesty."

It's not cynical, it's just accurate observation. Now, what's the next step, hmm? Doing whatever it takes to take back power and set up the resilient institutions and processes which are reasonable and aim to reduce inequality, injustice and dishonesty? Is that worth trying?

Dr Zoltan Jorovic

Interesting article. What fascinates me is how you could read this and then post this: "If your ideas are good, they will withstand every troll attack. If you have to censor others before your ideas sell, that means your ideas are fragile and puny."

@RSM seems to believe that "good" ideas support themselves, and no attacks on them can have any negative impact. This defies the everyday experience of how narrative is framed, controlled and distorted by those who manage our media. Many good ideas receive almost no airing. Those that do are frequently attacked with lies, manipulation and bias, so that a majority dismiss them. Look at how austerity was sold to the nation, and those who used facts against the barrage of lies were simply ignored or side-lined.

He goes on to say "If you need to enforce rules of debate, you will get weak drivel that excludes 90% of reality." So, if we try to establish that argument should be supported by evidence, and that contradictions must be exposed, that deliberate lies are unacceptable, that would count as "excluding 90% of reality"? Bizarre. If we lived in a world where good ideas always carried the day, then we wouldn't be in the shit we are in.

My version of reality is that lies are the opposite of truth. So if we can't enforce a standard which exposes falsehoods, untruths, distortions and delusion, then we are living in a fantasy.



Again, I think I agree with your diagnosis, but not your solution. Boeing has forgotten how to build planes (and Beverly Hills residents have forgotten how to live); finance guys are a huge part of that. But the best solution is to let finance guys move into virtual finance markets entirely. Let them innovate and insure new synthetic virtual financial instruments, while engineers self-organize to build planes.

Markets incentivize centralized production which can be controlled and gated so that subscriptions can be sold. This strategy may maximize profit, but engineers know it is better to build standalone individualized customizable production machines that allow for independence from markets. Markets can persist in purely virtual form, like video games, that no longer affect real production much. We're already heading toward this disconnect; policies can facilitate the disconnect between finance and production by implementing basic income and lessening financial regulation so that traders can play and engineers can invent.

@ Dr Zoltan Jorovic:

"If we lived in a world where good ideas always carried the day, then we wouldn't be in the shit we are in."

Clearly, censorship is not working. Time to try free speech.

Nick Drew

"What we need is not more brains in our head, but in our institutions – ways of making better use of what intellect we have."

Thank you. That is the essence of conservatism.

The question about Arguments is certainly the next critical issue, because ultimately there has to be a way to make changes, consistent with retaining the benefits of the above. If there is to be Rule of Law governing all of this (a point on which it is of course relatively easy for a conservative to agree strongly) we are then back to the eternally competing systems for resolving Arguments within the Rule of Law:

- Priesthood (Communist Party elites; Christianity in the middle ages; Islam where it holds sway; European Commission ...)

- Democracy (greatly to be prefered)


Then I am wondering whether the institutional brains of Labour were marginalized by Tony Blair, so as to be unlikely to ever be recovered.

Jan Wiklund

Intelligence is situated between the brains, said Swedish sociologist Johan Asplund. But the trouble is that without trust it is severely jammed.

For example, an exiled Uruguayan decided about 2000 to go home after 25 years, bringing with him some saved money to start a business. But he found it was impossible. There is a constant war going on between employers and employees in Uruguay, with both parties trying to cheat the other as much as they can. All energy goes into that. And that is why they are poor. I suppose it's the same thing in Russia.

What can be done? Corruption researcher Bo Rothstein thinks that the fish rots from the head, and that the responsibility always lies with the "government" - trust has to be built from above. See for example https://muse.jhu.edu/article/541985/pdf.

It seems to be difficult with a constantly lying prime minister...


More on Boeing


"Although newly ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg was an engineer, he stuck closely to the financial engineering playbook of his predecessor, Jim McNerney. Whistleblowers and leaked documents have raised damaging accusations that management drove too relentlessly to cut costs and deliver on schedule."


"Stan Sorscher, retired Boeing engineer and longtime policy analyst with Boeing’s white-collar union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), describes a shift at Boeing over the past two decades from an engineering culture that strove for quality, high performance and problem-solving during development of a new airplane, to one focused narrowly on cost cutting.

This deliberate strategy from the very top of the company led to massive, ill-thought-out outsourcing and the discarding of engineering talent as work was moved out of the Puget Sound region.

Sorscher said that has led to major failures on Boeing’s latest two major airplane development programs — first the heavily outsourced 787 Dreamliner and then the minimally upgraded 737 MAX. Both planes had to be grounded over safety issues.

Sorscher said Boeing had built up a superb engineering culture through building new planes every 10 years or so and passing on the knowledge through generations of engineers, but "we’ve now had two decades of workers who have not had the experience of going through a good, high-performance development program."



"The order backlog for all Boeing jet models is now 4,054 airplanes.

Because Airbus gained almost 3,000 jet sales over Boeing in the single-aisle jet market during the MAX crisis, its total order backlog stands at 6,998 aircraft."



More on Boeing....

[ This is all excellent, and I am grateful. ]


"Intelligence is situated between the brains"

But you don't need an institution to develop natural language.


To be somewhat less concise: individuals can form intelligences by interacting with themselves or with computer brains. Institutions are superfluous and mostly needlessly throttle progress. Inevitable financialization of institutions leads to expected profit perversely overriding good engineering sense, as Boeing shows. Basic income frees each of us from coerced participation in the more perverse natures of institutions.

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