It’s definitely not about raw intellect as I’ve met many really smart people who were clueless about this stuff. Plus people really aren’t that stupid inherently. Corporate power has developed an extremely robust attack mechanism to take advantage of this tribalism and create idiotic behavior amongst otherwise intelligent people. This mechanism uses our emotions to turn us against each other and support the instigator. This is the oldest trick in the book and these techniques/memes have been honed over thousands of years going back to the Roman times, and probably earlier. Our modern system uses selective education to ensure that our emotional and social intelligence is very low. Even to the point where most people have never even heard the term “Emotional Intelligence”. They confuse intelligence with knowledge, like winning the simplistic game of jeopardy, which is largely won by nerds.
If you tried to educate young people, even graduate business students about the Machiavellian tactics used to by management to control their employees and politicians to control the general population, you will be shot down as being negative and full of conspiracy theories, even though this is probably over half of what you really need to know, especially if you are getting an MBA.
I know as I’ve done this with my business school (MBA) alma mater Carnegie Mellon University. Two of the professors in the Human Behavior department agreed to bring me in to speak with the class about this nefarious stuff. After I gave a 45 minute presentation on this material, I passed out surveys to about 300 people I spoke with over 3 sessions, and the results roughly split into 3 categories, roughly evenly split:
- One third thought I was crazy and was a loser who had sour groups about my experiences
- One third were completely blown away and thought my talk was one of the most enlightening and authentic talks they had ever heard
- One third enjoyed the talk, but thought this material was obvious as they already knew all about it.
That’s a big difference amongst these groups, so it clearly was important. The primary message that I wanted to deliver was that students should appreciate that understanding human behavior is probably the most important topic in business school. Most students think of it as fluff nonsense, and it’s definitely de-emphasized in school, often completely hidden. So we went to the administration to propose a plan give this topic broad exposure.
NOTE: I wasn’t some random student, I was the valedictorian who was awarded my valedictorian status even though my grades were the 2nd highest. My GPA was very slightly below another student who was a complete nerd and did nothing beyond schoolwork, whereas I was involved in founding multiple clubs, public speaking, and was the co-founder of the school Follies show which I also produced and performed in. The administration overrode him as the valedictorian and instead awarded it to me and gave him some other award. So they knew and respected me very well.
They shot down including this in the eduction program because they felt it was not appropriate. It was too negative. I still wonder what is the real reason they don’t want to include this stuff. For example:
- Academics are too ignorant of the real world and truly don’t understand it and it’s importance?
- It just an extension of the standardized test and curriculum problem — we don’t teach the soft stuff because we can’t directly measure the results of the education (e.g. finance vs. human behavior)
- It’s a big conspiracy and the educational system doesn’t want us to be too smart. They want us to be good worker bees
- They are afraid to look bad teaching this stuff, because most people are ignorant and have the same limitations as in #1 and #2
I’ve seen this same problem over and over in business, politics, and activism. So unfortunately, I just use my knowledge of this stuff for my own benefit and occasionally I can help other people who ask me for it. But I still find that most people just doesn’t want to hear about this Machiavellian stuff, it is scary and hard to hear. It’s too hard and too painful for more experienced adults to try to teach this stuff to the younger less experienced folks.
These series of videos give a good overview:
There is also a podcast where most of the downloads come from.