January 26, 2002   

Ethical Ignorance, Part 2 - “The Hypocrisy”

I’m going to elaborate on some fine points of “Ethical Ignorance.” Regarding SAT and intelligence. In the term, “ethical ignorance”, the word “ethical” is not what I think is ethical, but rather what the public considers ethical, which often is in disagreement with my own personal view of what is ethical. The points that I made regarding the SAT are not my personal valuation, but are the perceptions and the assumptions of the public, which I find contradictory. Whether I think it is a good or bad practice is besides the point.

Take the physical difference between men and women, for instance. The difference is so unarguably clear that there is no point of contention. It would be futile for any feminists and the likes to argue the physical superiority of male body in terms of their strength. When a fundamental difference is acknowledged in our society, we create different categories, so that the disadvantaged do not have to compete head to head with the advantaged, because, otherwise, we feel that it would be unethical, unfair, or cruel. The Olympics, for instance, is a prestigious competition which provides distinct categories for men and women. If the categories did not exist, I would imagine that 99% of contestants are going to be male, and the Olympics would forever be unattainable for women. Another good example is boxing. In the world of boxing, we have several different categories based on weight. We feel that it is unfair for a 200 pound 7 feet tall to be fighting against a 100 pound 5 feet tall. Why don’t we simply say, “Tough shit”, to all those who were born short? Because we presumably value efforts over luck.

Take this view to intelligence. If we all agreed that intelligence is something that we are born with, as we all agree about the difference between male and female strength, we would be creating different categories for intelligence. Say, for instance, Class A, Class B, and Class C intelligence based on the IQ numbers. Firstly, just the notion of classifying intelligence in this manner would cause a huge uproar. This is because intelligence is still very much a gray area, and because of it, the public does not want to believe that some people are simply born unintelligent. But if in the future, this becomes unarguable, what the society will do is to create these classes, so that the Class C students do not have to compete head to head with Class A students. Harvard University, for instance, will have to have different acceptance categories, just as the Olympics do, otherwise it would be deemed unfair.

I am not advocating either views. In fact, my criticism is targeted towards both. There is a hypocrisy here. Our society is built on competitions, but there is a part of us that feel that it is inhumane or uncivilized to strictly advocate the survival of the fittest notion. We feel that it is unethical or immoral to advocate the idea that the lucky people succeed in life and live happily, and the unlucky ones fail and live unhappily. We want to be judged according to our efforts, not by what we are born with. There is schizophrenia here. On one side, we are all about competition, and on the other, we are all about being humane. In order for the successful ones to enjoy the fruit of their success guiltlessly, they have to believe in fairness. No one wants to think that they won the competition unfairly. Because of this, our society has a massive need to believe in fairness. The more competitive we get, the more we need to emphasize the fairness of our society. This is why we devise categories in the Olympics, boxing, and many other competitive arenas. This is hypocrisy. No matter how you slice them or not slice them, there is nothing humane or civilized about competitions. If you cannot accept that, you should not be competing. If we accepted the unfairness of life, we can’t comfortably compete. But, perhaps, that is what we need to accept.

Take fashion models, for instance. I can build a better example if we only took male models. Our society does not respect male models, at least not to the extent we might respect people like Bill Gates or Einstein. Why? Because of the ethical ignorance that believes that we are all created equal inside, but not outside. If our society established that we are unequal inside also, just as clearly as we have establish about our outside, then we would not respect Gates or Einstein either. We would see them as some lucky guys who took full advantage of their luck, no more respectable than male models who do have to make some efforts, on top of their luck, in order to be successful. In this sense, I respect male models because they do live with a stigma that they deserve. Our society is hypocritical in that we pay respect to those who are just as lucky as male models are. If we are going to endorse competition, we need to accept that it is all unfair. Endorsing competition, yet ignoring the inherent unfairness, and pretending the fairness, is hypocritical. Personally I do not condemn competition nor unfairness. My criticism is towards the inconsistency, the hypocrisy. In fact, I love competitions, but I do not respect any competitions anymore than I respect good video games. I love video games because they allow me to enjoy competitions without having the pretense of doing something substantial or important. Anything competitive in this world is just as stupid as video games. There is nothing humane or civilized about video games. The video gamers know that and accept that. At least they are not hypocrites. That is why I tell those who criticize video games to f**k off.