P R I N C I P I A T R I O O N I C A
The Great Divide Adds Up
The Malarkey Scale
of Human Reasoning
What? Why would reasoning be measured in malarkey?
It isn't. The name comes from the notion that all human knowledge falls short of the total possible knowledge of reality. Even the most diligent effort and careful reasoning of anything will fall short of a complete and universally applicable understanding. For example, while we all depend on our knowledge of electricity and how to use it, our understanding of electricity and atomic science is incomplete. There is a greater understanding beyond ours, from which ours is, in comparison and to some extent, malarkey.
The scale does not measure greater or lesser amounts of malarkey. The scale simply counts the steps of reasoning that end in a conclusion that is not followed by further steps on the same path of logic. The reason or point of the scale is, why not? Why did the reasoning stop? The first answers that may come to mind are, the reasoning achieved its intention or, reached a practical conclusion that made something work. This essay intends to show that, while these answers are often correct, they are not the whole story.
Folks have discussed confirmation bias, emotion-driven thinking and malicious intention but I'm asking for all that be set aside for the nonce in order to consider a different presumption on the matter of thinking and reasoning.
How does the scale define a step of reasoning?
Reasoning is a broad term. The scale specifically refers to conspicuous reasoning that we know we are doing because we are there steering or shepherding the action. Our attention is on some things to consider that are held in suspension until they sort of unite into one inescapable perception that concludes the immediate task of reasoning. Our attention is now on the conclusion and no longer on the things considered in making it. What happens next might be taking a step on The Malarkey Scale if our attention can make the reasoning continue.
A step on the scale refers to an act of reasoning that makes a conclusion and then continues on the same path of logic to a further act of reasoning that includes the previous conclusion. A step is made when a conclusion continues via further reasoning to a further conclusion. A single conclusion is not a step. One step involves two conclusions, two steps involves three conclusions and so on. The distillation made in one step becomes part of what is distilled in the next step. It is a cognitive continuity. We know we are carrying on with a path of logic. We know when we stop but do we know why?
If our mental attention can be imagined as a bucket, the question is, how much thought can we put in the bucket and still have the same bucket? As we reason, does the bucket become wider and deeper until a hundred thoughts make one conclusion? It doesn't seem that way. Our attention is clearly not infinite. There is only so much of what is available to attend that can be attended. The bucket can be overwhelmed. We might say, I need time to think this through.
Truer words were never spoken. Thinking is not done all at once. Thought leaves a trail of buckets behind that led to the current bucket. If we aren't steering our thoughts, it is as if a moving stream carried them along in a flow. Then, there is no task of steering involved. The flow will always be there. It grants a sort of stepping from one bucket to another but that isn't making steps of reasoning. We have to be there and shepherd how one bucket becomes another in order to score on The Malarkey Scale.
Told with buckets, this seems like no big deal. We could do a hundred continuous buckets that always have the contents of the distillation of the previous bucket. That means the whole bucket brigade was continuously attended by our attention. But that never actually happens and that is why we need the scale.
When we are shepherding our reasoning, we know we are doing it. We might be closing our eyes or pointing them at something empty of detail. We don't want external perceptions taking up needed space in the bucket. Now free of distracting input the score is counted with each step. If we stop reasoning, have lunch, then start reasoning again, the scale resets and starts over. Even a sip of coffee or a pause for a deep breath interrupts the chain. We may, in time, build a long chain of reasoning that goes a hundred steps but the chain is built from many smaller sessions of reasoning, each with its score on the scale.
We don't do a hundred steps and the reason can be told with a modified bucket metaphor. This time the buckets are filled with sand and we have to hold each one up out of the stream with an outstretched arm. This represents an attention-driven process of reasoning. Holding up the buckets represents not only holding our attention on its contents but also attending to their passing. This leaves a different trail of buckets behind than if we had left it to the flow. The buckets always have the same weight of sand but as the reasoning proceeds, each new bucket seems to get heavier. The arm is feeling the burn. It is a human arm, so it is tiring and exhausting its strength. Likewise, our capacity to engage in attention-driven reasoning is another kind of strength that can be exhausted. The arm drops, the reasoning stops. That's when we can count the buckets and our score on The Malarkey Scale.
Attending continuously to reasoning is unique in this way. Is there any other form of what we call thinking that can make strain show on our face? Or cause audible exclamations like "aargh!"? Solving a complex problem or bringing order to conceptual chaos reveals a sort of brain muscularity. When the problem is solved, we can relax. What other type of thinking results in a need to relax? Compared to attended reasoning, aren't they all relaxing?
When we're convinced that someone is smarter than us, isn't this why? When someone takes things farther and we cannot keep up, they are out-scoring us on The Malarkey Scale. That is why, when examining our interactions with others, the scale becomes invaluable.
For humans, the practical spread of the scale is one to seven. Higher scores are possible but not typically so it is simpler to lump the top together and stop at seven & over. There are many ways to use the scale but the most valuable application is in establishing someone's default score. It can test someone's innate endurance when challenged to build a path of logic on an unfamiliar and unprepared for subject. The result is the person's default value. It is how far they can take things without strain or fatigue. Further steps are beyond their comfort level. Checking their score is just like coaxing someone to follow you up many flights of stairs until their knees give out. Unless yours do first.
The scale is not a measure of intelligence or smartness. It is a measure of our ability to use or harvest the intelligence that manifests in each conclusion taken in continuous reasoning. Imagine that your brain had knees that could carry your intelligence up a number of flights of stairs. Some folks are born as threes and some are born as fives or sevens or ones. The scale is not concerned with how smart any single step may be. A person could be a dumb seven or a clever one.
With exercise, both the arm and knee analogies and our reasoning can be strengthened in endurance. An education that favors independent shepherding of our reasoning can bump one up on the scale, or at least get high scores on the subject of the training. An education that favors rote and unexamined learning can numb the score downward. Almost anyone can be trained to do top-score work in some discipline but they and everyone else will still have a comfort zone on the scale for routine and informal thinking. It is the kind of thinking we bring to social interactions and politics. Speaking and listening rely on thinking and are subject to the same limitations as thinking. If we explain our reasoning or follow someone else's, it is with the same method of buckets and steps. Thus, the Malarkey Scale can also measure how we speak and listen. And then we can see why society is tearing apart.
The scale exposes one of the basic foibles of human communication. Those who tire at two steps assume everyone stops at two. Those who are comfortable with five assume everyone is capable of five.
In conversation, a simple "Yes, but…" can be a request to retrace a step or for a further step. It might lead to a different conclusion. We can observe how different folks are satisfied with differing amounts of steps.
The fives might ask, "Why can't the twos see that they are wrong?" Because, at two on the scale, they aren't wrong. Fives, as seen by twos, look incomprehensible, which further confirms that sticking with two is a good idea. To be either upscale or downscale is intellectually sound as long as any observation or scrutiny comes from the same range. Otherwise, there is no way to see the same satisfaction in the logic.
If a conclusion that stopped at two is examined by someone who won't stop at less than five, the resulting critique will likely be received as elitist, dictatorial and an example of over-thinking what is plain and simple.
If a diligent six-step conclusion is examined by someone who is always satisfied with two steps, the resulting critique will likely be received as a careless glance that oversimplifies and misses the point.
Accusation of hostility, confirmation bias and stupidity are followed by presumptions of secret agendas seen as Deep States, fascist tendencies or narcissism. All this can be mitigated with some savvy application of The Malarkey Scale.
When a six is confronted with a review that stopped at two, it is not because the reviewer is a narcissistic, Deep State fascist. It is because they stopped at two in their analysis. Two steps was all they granted. Perhaps it was all they had to offer. At the higher end of the scale, folks want to be scrutinized by those at the same level as themselves and not be short-changed of the thoughtful consideration (re: steps) they deserve and may have innocently assumed was always there to have from anyone. When a six knows of The Malarkey Scale, the anger is less grim. There is solace in knowing why we're disappointed.
At the lower end, higher-scale scrutiny is a matter of trusting someone who is offering a conclusion or advice that can be understood only because the advisor shepherded the extra steps. After the shepherding, the advisee cannot retrace the steps on their own so it becomes a question of trusting the source's conclusions. Since the path is intangible, there can be room for doubt. The advice may be well-intentioned or it may be malicious and misleading with a hidden purpose. If trust is earned, shepherding privileges may be granted and scrutiny that leads to advice may be accepted. If trust is eroded, those advised will conclude they have been misled. Further shepherding will be rejected.
Beyond the interactions of individuals are the movements of politics where disparities in scrutiny are managed by power. Politics needs illumination from The Malarkey Scale more than anything else. The scale reveals how political power is defined and wielded differently by folks of differing scores regardless of their views or positions.
When someone who rarely bothers with one step of reasoning has the power to decide where their own scrutiny comes from, they will reject any two or beyond and insist on those who will loyally stay one step behind at all times. The resulting cadre of loyal and unquestioning enablers should be easy for a one to scrutinize. If that loyalty is eroded, power will evaporate with it.
On the other hand, a government that relies on a system of checks and balances should have top-scale scrutinizers who can be empowered by a trusted institution filled with folks who are trained to deliver intelligent and high-scoring advice on pressing issues. If that trust is eroded, the maximally thoughtful advice becomes, to folks who cannot follow the whole path of logic behind it, a sinister manipulation of the public to conceal and sustain an elite with an insatiable desire for perversion. Understanding The Malarkey Scale can make all those fears go away by making the examination simple. Count the steps.
That is the easy part. Then, everyone has to decide what kind of political system they want to be a part of. It might be democratic, authoritarian or oligarchic but those will all be secondary features to what will truly define it. That is the depth of consideration it brings to the needs of the populace and its visible aspiration to be on the upper or lower end of The Malarkey Scale. Folks will want a system that is friendly to the way they like to use their brains.
The Founding Fathers of the USA may have thought it was a given that the bulky system of governance the Constitution describes shows a fundamental aspiration to be as upscale as possible about everything. At the time, it was pitched as an alternative to low-scale systems that quickly degrade into a sinister manipulation of the public to conceal and sustain an elite with an insatiable desire for perversion. That can't happen here.
Each of the three branches is open to the scrutiny of the others. Other nations built strong fortresses to defend the personage of authority. The US Capitol is full of fortresses built to defend settings and procedures that provide the ability to be upscale and engage in upscale scrutiny. They are safe spaces where one can be heard, in full, and then challenged by others taking different steps of reasoning. The system encourages and forces the participants to take further steps and engage in better reasoning as the only way to prevail or get anything done. Some call this freedom but not everyone.
The flaw in this scheme is what its Founders took for granted. They believed that the revolutionary aspiration of the age, once empowered, would never stop or wane. They knew their system would not work without a citizenry that shared their up-scale aspirations. Maintaining that aspiration was, by design, not going to be the job of the government. That is what Mr. Franklin meant by his famous warning, "…if you can keep it". He meant the desire to live in it.
The aspiration of that age was for the growing numbers of upscale folks to have a place that their brains want to live in. Literacy and better schooling was making the public, on average, trend upwards on The Malarkey Scale. Many were asking, "what is the point of thinking for myself when all choices are pre-reasoned by some authority?" Existing systems were designed to get humans barely out of the wild to operate together under supervision that shepherded everyone without the need for individual reasoning. Scrutiny of keadership was not in the design. Brutal sub-systems to discourage public reasoning like, "I think I have a better idea" were still built in. That's what made the Founders' aspirations revolutionary.
When the average score of the public climbs to three or so, then those aspirations will become an actual revolution. Folks of all scores share a desire to be upscale and have things decided by a course of reasoning that is un-halted by any un-checked authority. That is where the US founders got it right. There must be no corner of the system to weasel into. Anywhere its power goes, scrutiny must follow. It could be said that this puts The Malarkey Scale in charge.
With this unique feature, the US model became recognized everywhere as the top brand in democratic republics. It was a decent fit for the upscale aspirations of folks all over the world. Some systems placated upscale aspirations with tidbits of autonomy offered in exchange for boulders of surrender. Those systems didn't fool anyone. Everyone could see that the US model held the most promise even if those living in it at the time seemed determined to ruin it or turn it into something more old-school.
Ben's warning was about keeping the public's score on the scale high enough to maintain the aspiration to live in a world that will actually demand that folks think for themselves. There is no ultimate authority dragging us along. It is presumed that everyone will get out of the bus and push. Letting the score drop will be the nation's primary vulnerability.
Folks in this age who carry on the aspiration may be baffled as to why anyone would, once aware of what is possible, still desire an old school system built for ones and zeroes. Once made aware of The Malarkey Scale, the befuddlement will cease.
What was the dominant aspiration before the revolution came? What would the illiterate and barely educated most desire in their society? How about an escape from the fear of their own ignorance and easily challenged reasoning into an established routine that will never make their brain have to say "aargh!". Life in these systems will make ignorance and weak reasoning go away because nothing in the normal routine will expose it. The basic smarts of a single act of reasoning are all any citizen needs to participate and thrive.
It is easy for modern folks to say "Full stop! How could living in a totalitarian state be anyone's aspiration? Those citizens will risk their lives to escape!" It could be depending on which side of the total we're on. North Korea is an example of a total-authority state that has, through industrialization and the education needed to carry it on, allowed its public's score to rise up the scale. The average Joe can give any official reasoning a "Yes, but… " without breaking a sweat. They would if they weren't terrified of the response. Before that happens, when the median public score is one, leaders need only maintain a two to spin up a half-real, half-fantasy world that will provide order, safe sleeping, steady labor, fed children and safety from invaders. It might make an appealing option compared to families fending for themselves at the whims of Nature. Leaders do not need to maintain terror if they can maintain awe and an appealing fantasy.
The Malarkey Scale exposes the most significant distinction between people and the societies they live in. Folks of all levels of intelligence but who function at the low end of the scale and aspire foremost for Law & Order are here identified as Type A. Social systems that cater to their needs are Type A societies. A Type B person is not just someone who scores higher on the scale. There is something in the experience of stepping farther in our own reasoning that reveals a previously unseen frontier where The Malarkey Scale seems to stretch to the far horizon. Type B folks are those who have discovered that there is a new world of learning and understanding that they can see and reach. Type B's aspire to live in a society that will let them and all B's reason and use the harvest to decide its laws and its future. Without that experience of the frontier, a Type B society will be unimaginable in its intentions and look like an invitation to chaos that abandons a proven order.
Both Types have one thing in common. Neither A's nor B's have the slightest idea of how the other is thinking. A's will stop and defer their reasoning to an authority or a firearm. B's will think the A's are stubborn or intellectually dishonest or charmed by confirmation bias. It is none of that. They stop because that is where low-scale folks stop. There is no 'further' that they are not going. There is no frontier.
A's will be befuddle by B's being full of themselves and over-thinking things and possibly disloyal to norms of morality. Type B societies will demand that citizens participate by understanding rules and systems that are nuanced beyond the A's comfort zone. The A's will see Deep States and conspiracies that are, for them, just as ghostly and intangible as the system that is really there. Type B societies are tyranny to Type A folks just as a Type A society like North Korea is tyranny to its increasingly Type B prisoners. Type B citizens become capable of exploiting a Type A society's primary vulnerability- scrutiny from an equal or higher score.
For B's, scrutiny is synonymous with justice. When B's see authority acting without scrutiny, they will object by withholding their civility. They will protest and chant, "No Justice, No B's!" and call for a revolution or a counter-revolution. The call will be an echo of how all B societies got started. They were revolutions that forced a Type A society into a Type B. No such hoopla or political spasm is needed for changing into a Type A again. It is always up to the B's as to which way it goes. When the B's stop doing B-like things and start to carry on in ones and twos, society will easily resume it’s A-ness. Like Lady Liberty's torch, an upscale Type B society will last only as long as its B's can hold up the bucket.
When a Type B society's deliberative body doesn't have enough frontier-aspiring B's in it, the A's will find their own way of using it. Avenues of scrutiny will be closed. Deliberation will be a formality. Executive leadership will come to those who show the will to be the strongest and meanest power-grabber surrounded by a cadre of loyal and un-scrutinizing ones and zeroes. B's will stand by with their jaws agape and wonder What Happened? The frontier now lies in the distance on the other side of some Great Divide. None of the usual political terms will truly describe exactly what is being divided.
The Great Divide slices through the middle of The Malarkey Scale and not just in politics but anything we can reason about. Almost every religion offers a low-scale version for folks likely to favor a simple and clear-cut Type A society and, a reformed version for B's that provides a funhouse of wildly imaginative nuance that could be mistaken for the frontier if you squint.
How can it be that simple?
It isn't. Unlike genetics, our score on The Malarkey Scale is flexible and the mean average of a society can tilt both ways in a single generation. The path from A to B seems obviously an upward or progressive path for both societies and individuals. B's would say that discovering the frontier was an ascension for them. Or call it a reward for what might have been a long struggle of hard work that made their brain's bucket arm stronger. What B would say that becoming a B was not a forward advancement and any retreat would be a retreat from their full potential? How then does anyone go backwards? In politics, success will favor whichever side caters best to the mean average score currently demonstrated by the public. What transforms an individual? What makes someone declare "I became unreasonable"?
Nothing shapes a person like their environment. What can we take away from a three or a four that then makes it impossible to be a three or a four? The answer is space and time. Space to intellectually stretch-out and the time to see things through. When life runs at a pace where there is only time for tweets and only enough space for a slogan, that can make one see the frontier as a distant and unreachable planet or even forget that the frontier is there. The terminally up-scale will feel like they are living on that distant planet and cut off with no means of impacting on this world. Others will realize that there is no being heard unless you can squeeze into a size two brain. If that brings successful connections with others, it is easy to forget you're wearing it.
Public debate is scaled to the size or bandwidth of the arenas that we make available to each other. Those fortresses in DC that held the space and time to be upscale about things are, for folks of un-favored identities, inaccessible or held by dogmatists who wish to avoid the scrutiny that the institution would allow. Folks who turn to the public square will find barely enough space for a sign with a slogan and little public patience for that. Folks who turn to the streets will find only room for a shout of a meme, the hurl of a rock or the sting of a blow. Type B's need more time and space than Type A's just to be the B that they are. Younger folk observe that no one is making being a B look very appealing. Public mentors retreat to the low end of the scale just to stay connected. Everyone speaks over a drum machine. Determined and un-rhythmic up-scalers risk cancellation or PBS for being boring and tedious and making people's brains say "aargh!".
There is no meaningful divide between the political right and left if they both cynically operate as low-scale Type A's. That puts both sides on the same side of the real Divide. And, that leaves the genuine Type A's, those who tend to be kind, plain spoken and hard-working folks just looking for Law & Order to protect them from the freaks and crazy others they've been instructed to fear, ready to accept any means of reaching That Shining City On a Hill. The Shining City is a promotional pitch first designed to appeal to and attract tribes out of the wild.
Those in the midrange of the scale are caught in the middle of the Great Divide. Whether in politics or family matters, mid-scalers usual find themselves left with only the downscale or upscale cadres with which to take sides. They are the moderates who can sway this way or that but only so far. Long-haired, academic liberalism may be a bit over their head or just unrealistic and folksy, plain-spoken hard truths may seem too often as wishful thinking and gullibility. They long to live in a society with a government where both ends of the scale are proportionally represented and compromise is the only way forward. Even though many of us are already living in one. Why are these democratic societies so fragile?
I suggest that it is because they have, so far, been stumbling in the dark. That is, in the dark about The Malarkey Scale. There are ways to make it appear in front of you. Visit any handy deliberative institution. Stand in the gallery and take in the layout and follow its operation. It is a scripted play that mimics the path of logic and the steps of reason just like the operation of our brains. Unlike our brains, the bucket never has to drop from mortal strain. The arm never wavers because it is held up steady by an institution that is a fortress of space and time. There is room for everyone and hours to fill. The whole place is all about helping us score higher on The Malarkey Scale. Everything about it assumes that is what we want. It can cater only to the aspirations of Type B's who have seen the frontier and long to live there. Knowledge of The Malarkey Scale is like a torch illuminating the way to the frontier.
Citizens could pick a number… four for example… and an amendment could be offered that stipulates that all government mandates, laws, orders, declarations and policy statements must be the result of debate that qualifies as at least a four on The Malarkey Scale. We could call it the Four Amendment. Or we could aim even higher.
Sadly, this would impose tyranny upon Type A's who would have to be dragged along any Type B path. B's will not like what they must become in order to see their progressiveness through. The tyranny must flow in one direction or the other. At least, until a slow generational turnover or a sudden upheaval moves the score decisively one way or the other. That can mean raising our children to be B's and making B-ness look appealing again. That is an uphill climb. Technology, entertainment and advertising have been increasing focusing on quick conclusions and fast results. Pointlessly accelerated schedules convince folks that there isn't time for slowpokes to waste by considering things. Social media's founders intended their platforms to be a clearing house of B-ness but in operation, the system favors short-scale expressions and promotes A-ness. While perhaps based on an aspiration to be upscale, the result is pulling the median score to the low end.
If I write something with arguments presented in threes, fours and fives, and it is read in ones and twos, I should not expect success in communicating. I should expect to be vilified and not feign surprise at any cartoonish reflection. If I think someone's argument is stupid, is it because I short-changed the scale of attention they were asking for? Are they really a low-scaler or am I being unfair? What if the score were upfront in the debate? "Anyone for a three?" Those who would say "No thanks. I'm too busy for anything more than a one" can simply move on with their busy day. Name calling can be avoided.
Type B pundits complain that they cannot relate to or empathize with the childlike understandings of angry and fearful Type A citizens. The temptation to dismiss them as unforgivably infantile or simple morons is hard to resist but dangerously off the mark. Their obsession with freedom relates to a fundamental need to not be scrutinized. Scrutiny makes any life they can build collapse and any power they can muster over the people in their life erode. Without the frontier, the most any Type A citizen can hope for is to build a local farce where their influence reaches as far into their community as they need. They are prepared to live in a world of competing farces where the object is to dominate the battle-space. The same strategy carries on at the leadership level. Winning is everything. A's celebrate their freedom when one agreeable authority achieves domination and escapes scrutiny from dissenters. B's celebrate their freedom when convinced that scrutiny from the frontier is keeping up with authority.
If the Great Divide were thrown in a bucket it would distill down to the single issue of scrutiny. Freedom as an aspiration means either for or from it. The Malarkey Scale illuminates why. The next analogy involves an LED or light-emitting diode and, the rainbow or visible light spectrum. Blue is way up the light-frequency scale and red is the lowest. To make white light, a diode must emit energy that makes a pile of phosphor glow. Given a whole rainbow of phosphors to excite, the diode must emit photons with a color or frequency matching or exceeding the frequencies of any phosphor color they wish to excite. Any phosphor colors of a higher frequency are intangible to the diodes photons. A red emission excites only red phosphor. Diode-blue can excite the whole rainbow because it can 'see' the other colors.
Likewise, an attentive gaze of one step on The Malarkey Scale will only see a one regardless of what else is there. An attentive gaze granting three buckets will see and be able to scrutinize ones, twos and threes because that part of the scale becomes tangible. The most upscale sees the whole range. Such omnipotence might seem empowering but in practice, it is incapacitating. Upscale voices will offer strategies and solutions that they feel are sound and mere exercises in logic. However, low-scale offerings, as seen from the low end, are also sound exercises in logic. The only difference is the number of steps taken until the conclusion is satisfying. The upscale must explain why something intangible should replace what is already sound and plainly logical because only the red phosphor was expected to glow. How is the upscaler's otherness going to gain the low-scalers' trust? How could any exercising of upscale scrutiny become tangible? Or welcome?
It won't be. Well-intentioned scrutinizers bravely 'speaking truth to power' are unintentionally bolstering the very defenses they wish to breach. In Type A societies, truth belongs to power because there is nowhere else (like a frontier) for it reside. The brave B's will speak from the area of the frontier known as the Moral High Ground. It is a unique perspective of morality as an elevated view from above and beyond that looks down on everyone. A morality that sees all and can judge everyone is unique to B's. Unfortunately, in a Type A system, the moral high ground is under the leader's podium. To their perspective, the B's have built a sniper tower of unconstrained scrutiny that threatens their freedom. Like freedom, notions of morality serve different purposes for A's and B's. Moral failures look different from each side of the divide.
When B's can see that low-scale logic has stopped when it could have continued, they will imagine that horrible motivations and self-deceptions are behind the stopping. It will seem immoral and unforgivable. It would be for anyone who lives at the upper end of The Malarkey Scale so, what if you don't? The scale can provide B's with a useful tourist guide to Type A societies. It will show them in an historical context as a forgotten hometown and not as an enemy base.
The old Type A system rewards power and discourages any bi-directional scrutiny or balancing of checks. It makes light demands on our reasoning. Success within it grants powers or rank that can protect one from scrutiny of their reasoning or behavior by those with less power or rank. With power, one need not account for their reasoning or behavior. No one can make your brain say "aargh". If that was the way your brain had to work and your society said, that's a fine way to fit in here, the deal might be hard to resist. If you knew that you had in any way been a bag of fictitious gas to others, fear of scrutiny will be a powerful motivator. Powerful enough for some to have to say "When they are dead, they can't judge you"
Life in a Type A world is based on an interconnecting network of isolated and often concealed deals that are each designed to benefit only its immediate participants. The bureaucracy grows when further deals must be designed to protect and facilitate existing deals. These deals may involve bribes, blackmail or outings with a promise of violence to follow. In modern times we call this corruption because it corrupts the intent of our Type B societies but that isn't fair. In A-town, it is the only sustainable form of momentum available to the management of public services. This limits how much is possible but most things get done eventually or in the fullness of time.
The setting is different as are the public buildings. At the center, there is a palace or Holy City for the leadership that is walled-off from outside scrutiny. Access for common citizens is confined to a long causeway where the leaders can create a slow crescendo of awe that culminates in an awesome vision of the leader who is elevated above all in every sense. Everything about the place says this is the system that works.
When a society's A-ness begins to be left behind, new buildings house new institutions and palaces get refurbished for tourists. It may happen in spasms of revolution or through multi-generational determination. At some point in this progression, society and its buildings will begin to look like B-town. What was once a matter of persuading folks to advance beyond the A-ness surrounding them is now a matter of cajoling them to catch up with all the B-ness that is plain to see. Things look good for the B's even if there is still some A-ness showing. This is the moment that Mr. Franklin was warning the inquisitive citizen about.
It is the moment when only The Malarkey Scale can weigh what is at stake. Lady Liberty's torch is drooping. Her arm is getting tired. The buildings that house the institutions of scrutiny still stand but when B societies start to devolve into A's, important positions in those buildings become filled with folks for whom scrutiny of authority has been forbidden. This includes any scrutiny necessary to effectively accomplish their administrative task because that might lead to or stumble into scrutiny of authority. Even the Founders' mighty efforts in order and fairness can be avoided simply by not waiting for them and plunging ahead.
Now, in the solid institutions of B-town, short-sighted networks of quiet deals become the only kind of system that can be established or function. Both the A's and B's have their reasoning restricted in bandwidth. All management systems favor low-scalers whose personal default score matches the now limited demands of the non-scrutinizing positions available. Resumes would be more informative if they included a score on The Malarkey Scale. It should be right at the top. Threes should mention whether they are open to being a one. Upscalers could say, "I'm a four but I'm willing to stop at two if there's a decent pension". It may still look like B-town but there is an A-ness descending on it.
When it reaches the seat of power, all the rules suddenly change back to the way things were before the revolution. The Moral High Ground is refurbished into a remote holiday retreat for any guilty conscience to visit in private. Since the beginning of civilization, change has always been entirely in the hands of the B's. States like Russia understand that unchecked B-ness can spread anywhere and bring the scourge of scrutiny with it. Type A-ness does not need to be spread. When B-ness falls, A-ness resumes.
All savvy Type A police states know that liberal Type B societies anywhere in the world can be undermined by discouraging or attacking their B-ness. Some call it hatred of intellectuals but only because they are in the dark about The Malarkey Scale. It is a dread of upscale scrutiny that would expose how often their brain says "aargh!" and of those who would force them into a intangible world they cannot completely see. An imaginative reality is made from what they can see of it, which is convincingly sinister when considered in one or two steps. A-ness is inserted into the political discourse with a variety imaginative realities filled with assassinations of character and credibility. Any one of them might be true to a low-scale perspective. The rest of the story, like the up-spectrum phosphors, is intangible. Denials and rebuttals from upscalers only add to the sinister intellectualism that is out to use slippery and intangible big talk to take your stuff and your freedom.
Established Type B societies can see their median score shift dramatically as immigration brings either Type B aspirants seeking the frontier or repressed and marginalized folks who have never seen the frontier but have seen a Shining City On a Hill. Nothing tests people's B-ness like having to extend liberal principles to nascent citizens from other places. They may be misplaced. Folks will wonder why. Without the illumination provided by The Malarkey Scale, other explanations will have to be considered. Without seeing the flexibility the score reveals, all explanations will be concrete and assigned to the identity of the examined. These assignment can last for generations.
B-ness itself is not innate. Everyone has a bucket-lifting arm in their brain. Its potential is universal in mankind but it must be fostered and developed by mentors who can act as shepherds in an atmosphere of trust. Some who are born on the high side of the scale will find the frontier on their own and some will only find they have an advantage over others. Some will seem unemotional and detached from the feelings of others because things that others react to are not intellectually satisfying enough to warrant an emotional response. Others will appear to be content to live in an incomplete reality while the up-scalers find only isolation in the world that is, to their view, plainly there but is un-sharable with all but a few kindred spirits.
The Great Divide does not emerge from a contest of choices. It reflects positions taken out of necessity. Moderate up-scalers who are convinced that mankind has always been and will always be mostly low-scalers can also believe their gift obliges them to be a guide that finds and leads the way to the Shiny City On a Hill. Prized intellectuals will present clever and complex theories and systems of economics and governance that presume the citizens they serve will always be far less clever and complex than their theories. Those who seek the frontier will find the only one available is contained and heavily developed within walls of the palace or Holy City. Once a fanciful back-story or Holy Text grows in bulk beyond the scrutinizing of any human lifetime, protecting it is a simple matter of preventing scrutinizers from organizing a team effort. Then, the Great System can become what everyone says they are doing while they are making a network of short-sighted deals that serve the needs of the immediate participants. Any exploitation or cruelty that looks enough like the Great System at work will not be seen as exploitation or cruelty. That's life in the shining city, snowflake.
When there is no frontier to aspire to, there is only the heap. Everyone has a place in the heap. It has a top to achieve and a bottom to dread. Making things better for you and yours means making your way to the top of the heap by the sacred practice of winning. Standing firm leads to subsidence as the upward climbing of winners causes firm standing folks to sink downward. There is only so much heap to go around. It is finite. Like a heap, the Great System rests upon its citizens as the immovable object and the irresistible force of the Way Things Are if you know what I mean. It could be called a Shiny City On a Heap. For the Heapies, the Shining City is to be reached for but not lived in. The city is for winners so, logically, the more winning we have, the more the world fills with losers. From this initial conclusion, the second bucket or next step can conclude something ghastly if the second step has to be the final step.
Some may see the Type A model as lacking in morality but that isn't fair. The sort of morality that can have its own high ground is intangible in a Type A. Introducing it would cause an outbreak of unchecked scrutiny that would undermine the ability of authority to impose and enforce a morality. What's the point of that? There is a point to that but spelling it out could never be heard over all the "aarghs!". Instead, the Type A has an economy of accountability and one-way scrutiny. No one has to grasp morality as a set of guiding principles when it looms out of reach like a security camera. No one needs to possess a personal morality. Should one develop, keep it out of sight because there is no place for it. Morality-at-a-distance is over there where Santa makes his list of the naughty and nice or where Saint Peter keeps the Book of Eternal Life or on TV where the naughty get punched in the face by super-scrutinizer Detective Manpants. Be nice and obedient or morality will come and get you. There is no need to take the subject of morality any further than that in order for a citizen to be in full compliance. That means, logically, any moral furthering of any sort is an act of non-compliance and therefore, immoral. This should leave all citizens with only the heap to be good or bad in.
When someone feels the need to take a moral position, there is good reason to call it a position. It is a spatial metaphor for somewhere beyond the boundaries of the heap where things are not the Way Things Are and the same somewhere as the previous spatial metaphor, the frontier. For B's who are concerned because their society's behavior looks cruel and unforgivable, aspiring to a better morality is the gateway to the frontier. Better than what? Any authority can make rules and enforce a fear of morality but only the B's can build a system based on the desire for a morality and only the B's can imagine and trust that the desire is shared by all their fellow citizens. Leadership must earn public trust to claim the ground under their moral standings. In a Type B society, there is more to Law & Order than keeping the heap the Way Things Are. Leaders must successfully locate or define the Moral High Ground. They have to take a position and stand on it while the citizens scrutinize.
Leaders can describe the Moral High Ground as if they have been there but only a demonstration of empathy will prove it. Empathy, when applied where nature never put it, is a demonstration of upscale reasoning. Candidates can say "I allowed other voices to take me farther in my reasoning and I found a better understanding that made me feel empathy for those I had previously overlooked or was short-sighted and misinformed about". B's can examine a candidate's sincerity because the B's have something to compare it to. In discovering the frontier, B's have found that any examination of any person is incomplete until it reaches the point of empathy. Only then is judgment without bias. The scrutiny needed to get there must not only be unchecked, it must be guaranteed to every citizen. When scrutiny comes from the Moral High Ground, it is a source of social and political empowerment. In principle, as in what people can believe is happening, morality without bias is justice. In practice, as in what people can see happening, morality without empathy is prejudice.
This is the world the B's would live in, with scrutiny flying around in all directions and a serenity in knowing that surveillance is empathetically looking for opportunities for empathy to become action. Everyone has seen the frontier. Everyone involved has too much empathy to allow abuse of the system. Scrutiny is a sacred trust. Or would be, in B-town.
When the B's start building the world they want to live in, they might believe that simply putting B-town in front of folks will make everyone want to make a B-line for it. It's builders will believe that B-ness has arrived for society to enjoy. Only The Malarkey Scale could show them how that is not the way we build a Type B society. Step out into the public square. Listen and count. This is not B-town yet. Those decent and able folks we could be trusting right now are living and operating at the low end of the scale. That's because they were raised in A-town and may still live there. The kind of upscale reasoning that can find a reasoned empathy may be found in a majority but not an overwhelming tide. Society's median score has the Malarkey Meter not quite pointing all the way to B. However, careful consideration must be taken in evaluating the score.
The Malarkey Scale must never be used alone to judge inferiority or superiority. Applied to societies, it can indicate any society's likelihood of success by how well its systems accommodate the reasoning needs of its citizens. Efficient or dysfunctional societies are possible anywhere on the scale. A Type A society that offers a strict discipline in which folks can find a life of stability is superior to an equally low-scale society that impedes our inevitable progression to B-ness with oppression and brutality. A Type B society that uses every means to uniformly ensure that everyone is raised with knowledge of the frontier is superior to an equally up-scale society that tries to drag along marginalized folks who still need to believe the Heap works just fine.
Dashing ahead with building B-town without quite enough B's to live in it is dangerous. High-tech tools assumed to be used with upscale empathy will be used as weapons for low-scale ends like winning. The technology that can coordinate a response to a pandemic can maximize repression by a police state. New channels of communication that could allow folks to share the frontier can become a virtual Heap.
Conflicts of A-ness and B-ness are always simmering below or beyond the public's view but these days, everyone has a chance to know what bothers them about nearly everything. Governments teeter between incompatible and uncompromising forms of Type A and Type B. Everyone talks about how their side of the Great Divide is standing on the brink.
Each side expresses their offence at the morality of the other. A lack of empathy is defended as a lack of naiveté about human nature. Both sides argue about whether and how progress can apply to human nature. Is it by personal enlightenment or by choosing the correct supreme authority to surrender and defer to? Enlightenment can continue and evolve but a correct conclusion about supremacy cannot. There is no established context that can make these positions compatible or provide a common denominator. Only The Malarkey Scale can show how the concept of progress can apply to human nature. Not at the invisible pace of evolution but at a speed that can be seen in each living generation. Strengthening our capacity to take steps of reason changes the way we react to stimuli. It has impact on our fundamental nature as biological creatures.
The conflict between A's and B's is inevitable because Nature put it there. Or maybe Nature is gradually putting it there. Maybe after another 100,000 years of evolution, folks will be born B's. Unless B-ness proves to have no long term survival value. Our opinions of the conflict won't matter. Only Nature can determine if B means better.
In the Big Picture, B's cannot consider themselves as the solvers of society's problems without first seeing that they are, as seen from either end of The Malarkey Scale, one half of the problem. There is no Moral Middle Ground between the heap and the frontier. Okay, there is, but we call it hypocrisy.
The problem is for the B's to solve because their dissatisfaction arises from their aspirations, which arise from their capabilities. In the Big Picture, this is more than a political fight. It is an ongoing evolutionary struggle to determine if adding a thought-shepherding appendage to the human brain is worth bothering with. The struggle is not new. Folks have been trying to explain the frontier to each other for ages.
There is an old saw about the warrior who broke his leg and could not join the others in battle. That's bad but all the warriors who went died at the battle. That's good for the injured warrior but we can insert a further ironic twist that makes the news bad again. Or, we can flip the polarity of the consequences by starting from an earlier event or a different person's perspective. The Chinese proverb called The Old Man and His Horse tells of an old man who admonishes his fellows for seeing finality where there are only pieces of a larger story. Another telling is The Farmer's Son, which makes the same point. As proverbs, they are cautionary tales that elude to the reality of The Malarkey Scale. The Old Man is a learned up-scaler who has not learned why he feels the need to admonish anybody.
We can report the daily facts to each other with a clarity that leaves little to argue about. Once we put a trail of buckets behind it or imagine a trail ahead, we have authored a story. It is reasonable to ask why the story starts where it does and why it stops.
Set aside the news of current events and consider the straight-up acknowledged storytelling of a novel or script. The starting point reveals the story's point of view or who's interests are reflected and establishes who's lives matter or who is the hero of the tale. It is a chance for the reader to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, see the world through different eyes and expose the easily overlooked details of other people's lives. The reader may react with empathy, admiration or revulsion which might grow or reverse as the story unfolds. When the story winds down, the Happy Ending is in sight. There is always an implicit happy ending where achievement is rewarded, empathy allows forgiveness or revulsion sees Justice done. Not every story needs to end with a happy episode as long as the reader can see the happy ending that is aspired to, could still be or might have been. Even if the ending is tragic, the tragedy comes from knowing what the denied happy ending would have looked like. The point is, a completed evocation of its happy ending is why the story stops. The story starts with a hero for whom the ending is happy. What inspired this model of expression? How much does storytelling reflect the workings of our reasoning?
It might reflect a way to stop reasoning just before the bucket-arm begins to feel the burn. It's a way to stop that doesn't reveal the soon-to-be-reached comfort limit. One never has to hear their brain say "aargh!". One can begin to believe that their mighty bucket-arm is invincible but that is only because they never see it vince. The storyteller, your brain, knows the story has to end. It is time for the hero's happy ending. The hero is the story's focus of empathy for whom the task of reasoning presents a crisis or an opportunity.
The story and the reasoning can stop with a conclusion where self-achievement is self-rewarded, self-empathy allows self-forgiveness or revulsion of others sees Justice done to others.
Others may already call this making the facts fit the narrative or confirmation bias or being closed minded. The point is, the hero was protected from scrutiny. The Kingpin was protected by loyal and subservient beliefs. The reasoning never left the confines of the heap. This kind of thinking is how many of us manage to live in A-town. It is how the rest of us will lose sight of B-town.
Are you the hero of your reasoning? Are you the unquestioned Boss of your brain? Are you the righteous victim of what you critique? Do you look for loyalty in your logic? Is there a happy ending that lurks behind your reasoning? Is there a point beyond which you will never hear yourself say "Yes, but… "?
If, at the end of your analysis of society, you find a basket of deplorables or people who should not exist, then something stopped the analysis well short of the frontier. It might be because the reasoning has fulfilled the needs of its hero and made confinement in the Heap bearable. Or, it might be because, even after a series of "aarghs!", the reasoning finds a gap and nothing to fill it with that could lead to an understanding of folks of the other Type. The logical path to empathy is a great divide they cannot leap.
The question of the missing piece has always been, how can we be doing something differently mentally unless we are also being something differently physically? Many have reached for some calipers and calculators and looked for differences. We can put them down now because The Malarkey Scale fills the gap. It offers a way to see across the Divide. Our imaginings of the other side can become forgivable. The path to empathy is possible.
When we're reasoning about plain facts and stats, the standard has to be the high ground of Science with tests and peer-reviews where a collation of evidence is reached before any final conclusion. When we're reasoning about people, the standard has to be the Moral High Ground and that means empathy is reached before any final conclusion. Walking a mile in someone's shoes isn't enough. We need to walk three or maybe four miles in someone's shoes. Would anything less be scrutiny?
You say there isn't time? That's A-ness talking. We can use our busy-ness to protect ourselves from excessive contemplation time. We can use the Way Things Are to defend the way we think. Speed and brevity rule the public forum in A-town. Those who aspire to live in B-town can march, shout and carry signs in actions expressing that civility will be withheld until their voices are heard. When that hearing comes, all B-aspirants had better learn to gently shepherd their reasoning so all can follow for as many buckets as it takes.
Armed with The Malarkey Scale, empathetic B's can patiently shepherd fearful A's to the edge of the frontier without the usual inter-planetary hostilities. There is no need to angrily condemn them for making an indefensible choice. Now it is a matter of showing them what they are missing. How will we know them? We could all wear hats with an A or B on them and have a number on our shirts. That way, when we find people to be puzzling, we can check their letter and number and eliminate the puzzle. Singles in search of romance can add a Malarkey score to their wish list. When someone solves a problem or invents something useful or makes a reliable prediction, it should, depending on their hat, be added as a point on a big A versus B scoreboard. B's believe that B is better. It grants a better moral nature. B's can demonstrate that is true only by demonstrating that it is true. It's Nature that we will have to convince.