The Deep Truth In The Midwit Meme

The Deep Truth In The Midwit Meme

There is a meme that well describes the intellectual separation we see in many areas. I’m not sure of the name of this meme, but Beige Shiba called it the midwit meme, which is apt.

The far ends of the scale are united against the middle. It either takes no effort, or you are born with the inability, to be at the low end. It takes immense or unusual dedication, or you are born with the ability, to be at the top.

The middle extends part way to the bottom and the top, representing, for example, those with college degrees and professorships respectively. The middle never reaches either extreme. It is the home of theorists and people who say “ackchyually”. The “I f****** Science” crowd and bureaucrats live here, as does every propagandist and the majority of politicians.

Though we do not have to take “IQ” as a rigorous numerical description of ability, it is now customary to call these middle people midwits. It fits.

Roger Scruton in an interview made the meme come to life:

If you start thinking about politics in an intellectual way, you are likely to be on the left. Because that provides a systematic solution, an answer to the questions, puts it all in a system, and also gives you a rather dignified and self-congratulatory place in the system. But once you started thinking, if you think a bit harder and longer about it, you’ll move back to what you would have been had you never thought at all.

That’s my view as to what an intellectual conservative is. He’s someone who articulates the real reasons for not having reasons, [that is] just feeling and doing what’s right.

There are any number of acts that are so familiar we don’t think of the reasons for them, like knowing when to cross the street. We follow the traditions of our culture and, if pressed for an explanation for an act, we say what we did was because this is the way things are, because of commonsense.

For crossing the street, this can be because the light has changed because we know what the colors mean. Or because suspicious characters have just appeared on our side. If pressed for an explanation why we just crossed, given strangers have appeared, we might say, “My dad always said to stay away from those guys.”

Reacting without thinking in this way is what midwits call “prejudice” or “bigotry”, and the like. Prejudice was not always a bad word. The oft-quoted Burke (in a nice coincidence, I saw this quoted on Unz as I was writing this, a good sign that people are beginning to recall forgotten truths):

Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man’s virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just such prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.

Prejudice produces results like drilling does in the military. You get so familiar with a task you can do it without thinking. These habits are good things, and assist is performing our duties. Duty, though, is a hateful word to progressives, hence their condemnation of prejudices grown out of tradition.

Everybody, with excellent reason, now quotes Chesterton at this point:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

Reformers are midwits (almost always credentialed) in love with theories. Theories are beautiful, simple, clean, pure. Like Scruton said, they create a system, a theory, which answers all questions. Just like scientists, those who hold political theories become angry when Reality does not conform to theory. Scientists at least only ignore the parts of Reality that don’t fit their theories. Not ideologues. When in power, they dispose of the troublesome parts of Reality.

Conservatives at the far end of the scale have beliefs, too. But they do not profess to hold theories which are as exact as the midwits’. Indeed, they hold much simpler beliefs, the same ones the supposed dullards believe. These beliefs are the theory, if they can be given so glorified a name, that tradition works, that most innovation, especially rapid innovation, is dangerous, that human nature is consequential. Simple as that. But in our culture it takes a lot of thought to get to that point

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  1. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Apparently the link won’t work. Too bad, Sobran’s thoughts are worth reading . One can read them by copying the words below and pasting them into your search engine

    Pensees: Notes for the reactionary of tomorrow.

  2. Briggs

    ABS, you missed a final ‘m’. Fixed.

  3. john b()

    So …

    The middle should be excluded?

    ABS has enemies?

  4. Sheri

    Performance of duty applies to anarchists, too, though they deny it vehemently. Their duty is to remain stupid, uneducated, living in the moment. If they start to think or question, they are out. Stupidity is the duty of the Left drones and the communist drones.

    Most of the modern world lives in fantasy. You see it in the number of “theorists”, aka wastes of oxygen. We don’t need more theories, we need workers. You really can think and work at the same time, and if not, there’s plenty of dirty jobs requiring little thought that we can find you while you’re not thinking. Thinking on your part is dangerous. What we need is order in society where those who do NOTHING worthwhile but “think” are cleaning toilets, picking fields, sweeping streets. “Higher education” counts as “doing nothing”, by the way. It’s actually overthrowing the government and killing humanity, but we’ll go with “doing nothing” to save the feelings of the fools that get paid to destroy America. Stupid and unthinking has no place in a higher position than manual labor in a truly advanced society. Problem is, we want to go back to anarchy and death like the Dark Ages, so we hang onto paying anarchists to destroy us. They eat the idiots first, so we may have a chance….

    Conservatives are experts at passive-aggressive and masked racism and contempt of others. I have learned that the one thing the Left may be accurate in is calling conservatives racists. At least the racism of the right doesn’t burn down the businesses and homes of those they “love”. It’s a step…..

  5. trigger warning

    I believe there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female, midwit nor megawit.

    I love your blog, and I frequently find truth here, but someday you may feel embarrassed about about buying into this elitist midwit bilge. Although I’m certain you are elite. I’m just an unshod Appalachian hillbilly, so what would I know when compared to my betters?

    So, I guess, if it makes you feel better, go for it. I’m kinda libertarian that way.

  6. Michael Dowd

    This is what Christ meant about becoming children in order to attain heaven. It is the secret of separating good from evil using faith in God and the instinct we call conscience.

  7. Murray

    The midwit hypothesis has great explanatory power, and I’ve observed it countless times both online and IRL, but some distinctions need to be made.

    First, it’s not as tied to raw IQ as the meme implies. There are plenty of middling IQ people with common sense, plenty of dumb people with terrible ideas (*cough*BLM), and plenty of smart people who do the “ackshually” bit.

    I was one of these latter people myself for much of my younger life. My IQ is somewhere around 130, plus or minus, but I was a midwit Reddit-tier leftist atheist long before Reddit was conceived. As an early GenXer, alternative views were just much harder to find before the internet came along. Fortunately, I’m naturally curious and low on the Big 5 sociability scale, so I eventually came across both good theistic arguments and guys like Steve Sailer and the late Lawrence Auster, and that led me both to the Catholic Church and to the dissident right.

    I believe there’s an additional axis which might be labelled Curiosity, somewhat independent from IQ, which reflects a person’s willingness to entertain ideas outside the boundaries of social consensus. Most people, no matter how smart they are, instinctively recoil from “forbidden” ideas due to the potential social costs of doing so, and midwittery is the natural outcome. For example, I am surrounded by highly intelligent yet incurious people in my professional life, so I have learned to keep my opinions to myself.

    In other words, midwits are the natural footsoldiers of whatever social consensus happens to hold sway. In a sane society, they’d be invaluable, but we do not live in a sane society.

  8. c matt

    I believe there is neither Jew nor Greek,

    If you read the passage closely, it begins with a critical modifier: In Christ. I am no theologian (therefore, I am as qualified as Calvin), but that seems to be an important qualifier. Surely, the people who heard this message knew quite well there were Jews, Greeks, slaves and free (and, in fact, I recall the speaker also admonishing a slave to return to his master, which would seem to be odd, if not contradictory). The good people hearing this likely understood that it was not declaring there are no differences among people (and peoples), but that the promise of salvation was available to all, and each should be treated with charity and the respect due.

  9. c matt

    That is an interesting qualifier, Murray. Along that line, there is also a level of truth commitment. That is, how willing someone is to follow the truth given the cost. In short, how courageous/cowardly one is. You see a lot of that in virtue signalling.

  10. Midwits are those who are just smart enough to be taught to be fantastically stupid.

    I hold to the wisdom of my ancestors:
    The negro is at your feet or at your throat.
    The gay is in the closet or in your face.

  11. George Christiansen

    Sorry, Michael Dowd, but you are ripping that text bleeding and screaming out of context.

    The passage has nothing to do with the child’s abilities to discern anything other than the worthiness of engaging Jesus and his willingness to engage them. Which the disciples are attempting to reprimand Him for doing because they see the children as not worth His time and attention….which they are not, but the disciples should be able to see that their worth is a nonissue.

  12. An old adage says that when you’re ignorant, mountains are just mountains. When you become educated, mountains cease to be mountains. When you become wise, mountains are once again just mountains.

    The point about the fence is well taken. Social customs and institutions often do vital jobs that we either don’t know about or discreetly avoid talking about. Leftists want to tear them down unless we can explain them to the leftists’ satisfaction. Marriage and traditional sex roles are examples. The results of tearing them down are often disastrous, because it’s only when society’s hidden supports are removed that we find out what they did:

    “Disorder increases because there are more ways for things to be chaotic than to be organized in useful ways. Suppose that you throw a deck of cards on the floor. There’s only one way they can fall so they’re in order, but 52! ways to fall out of order. Therefore, it’s much more likely that they will fall out of order.

    Applied to society, it means there are many more ways for things to go *wrong* than for them to go *right*. The overall result of any social change is more likely to be bad than to be good. That includes the intended result and all the other results that nobody expected.”

  13. Michael Dowd

    George Christiansen–

    I suggest you re-consider your position which completely misses the point.

    “And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
    —Matthew 18:3

  14. Dean Ericson

    Midwit Man is the Essential Man. Without him as a yardstick neither those at the top and bottom, or out on the edges of the curvaceous bell, would have any measure, and if a thing has no measure it doesn’t exist. This is science. Without midwit statements such as this our host would have nothing to rail against, and thus lose his luster. Midwittery is the potato in a steak dinner, the Wonder Bread in a club sandwich, it is Jello, Cool Whip, and Velveeta, the building blocks of all edible matter. God must have loved midwits since he made so many of us. And so on, and so forth.

  15. trigger warning

    c matt:

    “each should be treated with charity”


    Yr obt svt,
    Midwit T. Warning

  16. David

    “The negro is at your feet or at your throat.
    The gay is in the closet or in your face.”

    By McChuck

    I agree that “gays” are just perversions but the first statement is actually racism. Not the pretend racism but something that hurts and divides people. Racism did exist, and it was a genuine issue.

    Doesn’t mean because the crazy left goes one extremes, the opposite is right as well.

    I thought it consisted of rational thinkers here? Hopefully the error is just with McChuck.

  17. Fredo

    Dean’s got it right midwittery is indispensable imbued as it is with audience rights. How
    else but with uncertainty and confusion could the balance be tipped and progress made
    to move from populist torture to execution? Where would the world be without all those
    Templar witch burning’s? Certainty must remain eternally fleeting indictments suspended,
    for if we punish the wicked who would escape whipping?

  18. John B()


    It isn’t the first time McChuck has quoted that
    (It was told him by his father)
    Sheri called him out on it the last time … I don’t know if he’s trying to be “ironic” or something but you get the idea that he just might actually believe it

  19. Murray

    c matt,

    That is an interesting qualifier, Murray. Along that line, there is also a level of truth commitment. That is, how willing someone is to follow the truth given the cost. In short, how courageous/cowardly one is. You see a lot of that in virtue signalling.

    It’s all tied up with status. As the Prophet Spandrell says, most people desire status more than anything else, because it’s the gateway to all good earthly things: mating success, wealth, power, influence, friendships, and so on. As Spandrell puts it, status is “that which makes people want to become your associate and give you preferential treatment.” (Look up “spandrell bioleninism” if you want to know more.) Virtue signalling is a public declaration of affiliation with dominant (i.e. high-status) beliefs, and therefore a shortcut to higher status for yourself.

    Some few people care more about truth than social status, as you say–or at least they derive status from their own subculture or some other alternative venue. But for most people, there’s no substitute for the warm feeling you get when you feel the embrace of the herd. Even if the herd is stampeding off a cliff.

    In liberal societies, status is associated with high intelligence. This is because the ideal governor of the liberal society is the disinterested technocrat, liberated from all sectarian and ideological prejudices, handing down perfectly rational judgments to ensure that everyone gets the best possible utilitarian outcome. In other words, The Expert. And who is a better model of The Expert than a scientist? Liberalism demands rational justifications for every proposed reform, so everyone seeks to justify their preferences in quasi-scientific terms. Of course many people want things that are objectively bad or even insane, but they need to make a sciencey-sounding case for them, so they concoct extremely complex and convoluted rationalizations to persuade others that what they want is really perfectly fine.

    Enter the midwit. Like all men, he desires status, and in a liberal society status is conferred by sounding Very Intelligent. That being so, the midwit, being a man of above-average but not spectacular intelligence, very much wants to be seen as part of the smart, high-status crowd. So when someone presents him with a fog of big-word verbiage proving that, say, men in dresses are women or that homosexuality is really perfectly normal and healthy, he is immediately caught in the flypaper. He understands the argument (such as it is) well enough to parrot it back, but he is unequipped to evaluate it critically. It’s complex and has counterintuitive conclusions, and that means it’s very intellectual indeed. Status Achievement Unlocked!

    This is why the Midwit Meme so often features Grug and Genius saying baldly obvious things, while Midwit spouts a wall of gibberish. Counterintuitivity is catnip to the midwit striver.

  20. Dean Ericson

    It’s no use, David, we are all racists here, including you. Nothing can be done about it and we don’t care.

  21. John B()

    And there, Dean, is the irony

  22. asdf

    Tne term “midwit” was coined by VoxDay, not all of his terminology has gone mainstream however… (scitistry vs. scientody for example) These folks seem to have mixed VD’s intended meaning with isteve’s War Against the Middle. :/

  23. Zapollo

    Not a usual commenter, but this is the best thing I’ve seen this week.

    Reminds me of the quote from Donald Kingsbury: “Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution and you get the problem back.”

    Only midwits discount this.

  24. David –
    You’re darn right I’m a racist. I have the mental power to discriminate, too. “Discriminate” mean to tell apart things which are different.

    Races exist. People are different. Cultures are different. Saying that they are not is the most blatant form of lying, and flies in the face of biblical teachings. Remember the curse of Babel.

    And if you aren’t a racist by now, then nothing will ever teach you until you are forced to watch your family members raped, killed, and eaten. I pity you. “None so blind as those who just won’t see.”

  25. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dear Briggs. TY for fixing the link

    As for ABS having enemies, let it be said ABS wishes he was his own boss so he could fire his goofy ass

  26. Sheri

    “None so blind as those who just won’t see.” Says the totally blind commenter.

    Discriminate has more than one meaning, though being blind, you’re not likely to understand. Living in fear and anger. Just like those you “discriminate” against. Actually, you’re emoter, not a thinker.

  27. Tom Hart

    Descartes was the first modern midwit. He argued that we should challenge all our pre-existing assumptions, a complete demolition job. To support this view, he used the analogy of a town; he claimed towns planned from scratch by one man are more beautiful than towns that have grown up bit by bit. Of course, we know it’s the opposite: rationally planned towns are very ugly. Further, Descartes suggested that an elite trained in his method should lead those ignorant of his method, people who held onto all their old ideas; hence Descartes was also the first modern technocrat. He thought people who doubt everything are superior to everyone else and should, effectively, look down on people who follow their instincts or do what their grandfather told them. Trés midwit.

    If you want to go deep, Socrates was the first midwit; he went round Athens causing people to doubt what they were doing and what they thought without offering an alternative—a point made by Taleb. As with modern midwits, he had nothing to offer as a replacement and no guarantee that his new ideas would be better, or even less harmful. As with Descartes, Plato wanted to create a philosopher elite to impose Socrates’s clever-silly system on other people. Socrates wasn’t popular in his own time, but his thought did become popular…when Athens became decadent. Midwits rule when a society is in decline QED.

  28. Hozuki

    McChuck is right. “Racism” is an invention & a tool exclusively used to target & silence whites as well as absolve the other races from responsibility for their own actions. It’s a sick & tired trend. On an individual basis, people of compatible cultures & creeds can get along… but try as we might, the natural divisions among men are exacerbated by the “free” press, which seeks struggle & chaos in order to reform society in the image of its masters— wealthy special interests.

    Just take a look at what ‘migrants’ are doing in European countries. Look at the savages & opportunists in America eager to exploit a man’s death for personal gain: looting, burning, & killing to satisfy their own primitive urges for destruction & dominance. These atrocities are practiced by many blacks seeking to represent the race, & the cowards who align themselves with them out of so-called “solidarity.”

    How can one have so little empathy that they can’t see themselves in the position of the victims? Is their suffering, a warning of what occurs when hostile races encounter, to be ignored in some grandiose, pretentious scheme to be “impartial?” In the name of “fairness?” That’s not fair at all. Mankind is a monstrosity, one that already conjures enough reasons to hurt each other; race is just another excuse to add to the pile. That’s the reality. Kindness given to narcissists will be taken advantage of & spat back into your face. One may dismiss it as mere emotion—hyperbole driven by mere fear, thinking themselves so wise & above it all… but experience is the greater teacher.

  29. Dave

    A midwit is smart enough to construct a logical framework in which they become trapped, but they don’t realize they have become trapped and, therefore, can never find their way out.

  30. DC Reade

    if you’ve fallen for the “Meme” thing, don’t expect to get much smarter.

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