Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thought provoking idea of the day

Maybe meritocracy is more complicated than I assumed:

What this means paradoxically, is that to encourage an honest “meritocracy”, one may have to discard equality of opportunity. To come from a dishonored or disgraced family would be a hurdle to overcome. To come from a family with an unblemished record for integrity, would be boost. Not because this is fair to the child. It is demonstrably unfair. But, because it may be the only enforcement mechanism that will work against ambitious parents.
The context for this post is Karl Smith thinking about why cheaters will rise to the top of a meritocracy and the implications that this will have.  I often disagree with Karl Smith but, on this point, I think that he might be on to something that is hard to deal with in a social context like that of the United States.

But I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Boing boing links to a book and Wired Magazine interview with the author about why people cheat. His main point is that the people who cheat rarely consider the punishment, so raising the stakes will have little effect.

    I haven't read the book, but in the interview he focuses on those who have already cheated. I don't know how the book deals with the possibility that there are potential cheaters who were deterred by the punishment and cost/benefit type decisions.

    As for this argument about evolved severe punishments, I find it less convincing. That this behavior evolved in the past is not a convincing argument that it is our best option now. Tribal warfare is pretty ingrained in us, and I don't think you'd get a lot of support for a return to that.