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I remember when I was twenty, I thought the only reason adults were less utopian than I was, was because of their hidebound rose-colored self-serving biases.Pretty big coincidence that I was wrong then, but I’m right about everyone older than me now. We’ve been talking recently about the high-level frames and heuristics that organize other concepts.Wisdom seems like the accumulation of those, or changes in higher-level heuristics you get once you’ve had enough of those. ten years ago and notice I’ve become more cynical, more mellow, and more prone to believing things are complicated. Less excitement about radical utopian plans to fix everything in society at once 2. More concern that I’m wrong about everything, even the things I’m right about, on the grounds that I’m missing important other paradigms that think about things completely differently. Less hope that everyone would just get along if they understood each other a little better. Less hope that anybody cares about truth (even though ten years ago I would have admitted that nobody cares about truth). But most of them are in the direction of elite opinion.Then when other people say it, I start looking down on them for being bad at public relations.Then I start looking down on them just for being low-status or cringeworthy.Or is it just a more stable, more thermodynamically-preferred state than innocence?And if I accept my intellectual changes as “gaining wisdom”, shouldn’t I also believe that old people are wiser than I am?
And even then, it’s in a condescending way, where I feel like the people who say it’s true deserve low status for not being smart enough to remember not to say it.Less belief that I’m special and can change the world 3. There’s an innocent explanation for this: intellectual elites are pretty wise, so as I grow wiser I converge to their position.Less trust in any specific system, more resignation to the idea that anything useful requires a grab bag of intuitions, heuristics, and almost-unteachable skills. More willingness to assume that other people are competent in aggregate in certain ways, eg that academic fields aren’t making incredibly stupid mistakes or pointlessly circlejerking in ways I can easily detect. More willingness to believe that power (as in “power structures” or “speak truth to power”) matters and infects everything. But the non-innocent explanation is that I’m not getting wiser, I’m just getting better socialized.And old people mostly seem to go around being really conservative and saying that everything was better in the old days and the youth are corrupt and Facebook is going to be the death of us.I could model this as two different processes – a real wisdom-related process that ends exactly where I am now, plus a false rose-colored-glasses-related process that ends with your crotchety great-uncle talking about how things have been going downhill since the war – but that’s a lot of special pleading.