Scott Adams is the guy who writes Dilbert, a cartoon beloved by suicidal office workers across America. Scott Adams is also, not to brag, the smartest person in America, judging simply by the quantity of thinly-veiled self-regard which drips off of each and every post on Scott Adams' blog, especially the rapey ones. Scott Adams' genius possesses such a breadth and girth that it often crowds everything else off the internet, forcing Scott Adams himself to take on the task of pointing out just how big of a genius Scott Adams is.
I wonder if a country as a whole can have intelligence. And if so, can that intelligence be increased?
I'm not talking about average test scores in schools, or average IQ levels. Those things are important, but they are only part of the picture. I'm talking about how effectively a nation as a whole can make decisions and navigate its position in the world. For example, China has a political system that seems to produce intelligent decisions. You might criticize China's leadership for being heartless and brutal, but that's a separate discussion. If you consider how effectively they pursue their country's interests, their national intelligence seems quite high.
Being heartless and brutal is no barrier to having great intelligence, as proven by Scott Adams' ability to excuse rape, yet still be the world's smartest man. Sometimes "brutal" and "intelligent" go together like "Scott Adams" and "painfully reactionary white guy."
The United States, on the other hand, produces laws and foreign policy that don't always seem to be the result of intelligence or even good intentions. Our actions are a weird stew of religion, politics and randomness. A sentence you never hear in America is "I wonder what the smart people think we should do."
Did you notice that Scott Adams here decided, humbly, not to write "I wonder what Scott Adams thinks we should do," choosing instead to use the generic and more humble "smart people?" Please credit Scott Adams with having ample amounts of character.
I was thinking about National Intelligence (NQ) in relation to the debate on health care. It seems that most American voters have a strong opinion on the topic while perhaps 1% of the public fully understand the issue. So whose job is it to educate voters?
The public schools which we all support with our tax dollars?
It certainly isn't the government's job to educate voters.
It's not the job of news organizations to educate voters either. The point of the news is to inform citizens of what is new and noteworthy. It wouldn't be practical for the press to do a complete history and context for every news item.
The problem, as I see it, is that there isn't any profit in educating the public, so private industry is unlikely to wade in.
So I put the question to you, my brilliant readers. Suppose you start with a website funded by private donations from a variety of citizens, with a mandate to operate independently, and your task is to find a way to populate the site with unbiased and useful information on public policy. What system could you devise to guarantee that the information is unbiased and, importantly, it appears that way to all observers?
The genius of capitalism and democracy is that both systems embrace the destructive forces of competition and self-interest and channel them in a positive direction. Something similar needs to be done with information. What we need is a Founding Father or Mother who can find a way for arguments and information to compete in a way that kills the weak ideas and leaves only the strong.
And that's how Scott Adams, the smartest man in the world, invented Wikipedia.