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Derb In TAKIMAG: "In Advanced Societies, The Average Amount Of Reality People Can Bear Has Declined"
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June 18, 2015, 11:28 AM
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My column at Taki’s Magazine is up.  Opening:
T.S. Eliot’s observation that “human kind cannot bear very much reality” is surely up among the half-dozen wisest things ever said about our common nature.

There is, of course, individual variation in how much reality we can bear. I flatter myself by believing I am up toward the high end. I readily admit, however, that I have spent not insignificant portions of my life in a state of self-delusion driven by wishful thinking—a hugely underestimated force in human affairs. Some humility is in order, and not just for me.

There is group variation, too. Speaking generally, and again with much individual variation, the old can bear more reality than the young; men more than women; people in up-against-it professions like medicine or law enforcement more than those in comparatively sheltered occupations; people educated in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, math) more than humanities majors; and so on.

I am now going to propose a half-baked theory to you …

For the content of that theory, with illustrative examples, read the whole thing at Taki’s Magazine.

There’s a minor blooper in the piece, pounced on by several commenters:  I mentioned “Quechua-speaking Indians from Paraguay.”  I of course meant “Guaraní-speaking”; there seem to be no Quechua speakers indigenous to Paraguay at all.  As always in these cases, I blame the editors.

Another commenter, “Mnestheus,” whom I know to be deeply well-informed and accomplished in the physical sciences, challenges my assertion that a roomful of such South American indigenes would be easily distinguishable from a roomful of Koreans.  To the contrary, says Mnestheus, the two races are easily confused.

I have no direct knowledge here.  I have met a lot of Koreans, but have never been further south in this hemisphere than Puerto Rico.  My assertion was based on the a priori reasoning that ten thousand years of allopatric divergence in very different environments would produce visibly obvious race differences.

Keying “paraguayan indians” into Google Images bears me out, I think.  Some of those images look like some Koreans, but a roomful?  Fiddlesticks.