Among other things, it highlights one difficulty that I've been worrying at for a few years. Pinker argues that the following questions:
Darling, I know that you always have been faithful and always will be faithful, but just hypothetically, if you were going to have an affair, which of my friends would it be with? Or try this: In a dinner party, ideally one of mixed ethnicity and religion, ask the question, well, of course none of us here are prejudiced, but if we were, if you were bigoted, which ethnic group would you be prejudiced against, just hypothetically?has only one correct answer:
The answer to these questions is not to deliberate and then say, well, no, I wouldn’t want to sleep with any of your friends, or now that I think of it, there isn’t any ethnic group that I’m prejudiced against. One must reject them instantly. Just allowing them to percolate in your brain is considered morally corrosive.Unfortunately, both me and most of the folks I hang out with consider and then answer the question when posed. Which leads to my question? Why are smart folks considered subversive? In short because most of them are socially retarded in that they don't have the ability to turn off the brain and accept the standard answer, once a question has been highlighted. And if you're actually considering a question, there's real good odds you won't reach the "correct" conclusion. Therefore smart folks are almost always correctly considered dangerous to the social fabric.
Anyhow, Pinker's a short must-read. Go visit. Ties in nicely to Devin's recent post as well, but at a more meta- level.