Planet Grok

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Mr. Kurtz Syndrome

Posted by PlanetGrok on March 9, 2010

One of the mandatory reading assignments high-school students used to be assigned before the age of political correctness was Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This haunting novel features as its antagonist a complex, gifted man -Mr. Kurtz- who has “gone native” in the African Congo. He is an ivory trader who is also revered as a god by the native population, whom he terrorizes and rules with an iron fist.

Mr. Kurtz was not always such a bad guy, however. He traveled to Africa with what passed for noble intentions in those days – he was a true believer that exploitative trade with undeveloped natives would bring civilization and enlightenment to them. However, the more he lived with the natives, the more he realized that the natives were actually fundamentally different than him. This jarring collision with reality resulted in a mental breakdown, and on top of his previous liberal writings he scrawled scornful rants, most notably “Exterminate all the brutes!”

While there are obviously racial HBD themes that the book raises, the case of Mr. Kurtz has a broader reach. In the world we live in today, the importance of IQ is downplayed. Employers are not allowed to give IQ tests, and college degrees have become so ubiquitous that they are no longer an accurate measure of having crossed an important IQ threshold. The result of this IQ-denialism is that many more high IQ people are slipping through the cracks, falling into low-paying careers in industries where they often have coworkers and bosses who are much dumber than they are. Many of these higher IQ people were raised to believe that intelligence can’t be measured accurately, that their own scholastic success was mostly a function of personal diligence and effort. Insulated in their childhood with other intelligent children, these lies are easy to accept. But later on in life, when the system fails them, or in tough economic times when they are forced to get a McJob with Bubba O’Malley and crew, their little utopia can come crashing down. Hard. When this happens, they often develop what I call “Mr. Kurtz syndrome”.

The modern Mr. Kurtz is characterized by a misanthropic, disgusted disdain for any groups of people not deemed fit. Those afflicted will tend to retreat into their own worlds, and cut off or alienate friends with their rantings. This attitude comes about when, due to a significant IQ gap, one is unable to connect with a strong majority of people one encounters in daily living. It is just very difficult to connect to, and thus empathize with, people who are 20 points or more behind you in IQ.  Intelligence is the defining feature of humanity, and when one is forced to coexist with those who are significantly less intelligent, it is easy to see them as less human also.

Kurtz’s can be identified readily in everyday life. For example, in the workplace, if a Kurtz has employees to manage, he will engage in extreme micromanagement and make belittling comments about those he does not see as on his intellectual plane. A Mr. Kurtz employee will become lazy and apathetic – he knows that he has the intellect to contribute more than he is allowed to be compensated for by the nature of his position. Both left wing and right wing versions of Mr. Kurtz exist: left wing Mr. Kurtz’s will heap their disdain on Republican-voting white proles. A right wing Mr. Kurtz will do likewise with NAMs.

My prediction is that the more the value and applicability of IQ is denied in the name of radical egalitarianism, the more people will develop Mr. Kurtz syndrome. While most high-IQ people will do just fine, of course, the more that IQ’s inherent value is denied, the more people will slip through the cracks due to the resulting systemic inefficiencies and apply their intelligence in ways that damage societal cohesiveness.

My prescription for remedying this situation is to use real IQ tests, and use them often, to help people fit into their appropriate stratum. When highly intelligent people can mingle with other intelligent people, they are much less likely to develop the extreme misanthropy of Mr. Kurtz syndrome, because they are able to connect with the people they interact with. And when the value of IQ is recognized in such a way by the powers-who-decide-such-things, then the higher-IQ types who already do mingle exclusively together (the SWPL crowd) will also give up their support for naive, money-wasting social policies like amnesty for illegal peasant immigrants, prawns, and future Morlocks (-The horror, the horror!).

*note – this post is intended as a F.U.B.U. post, not in response to a certain commenter bent on showing how much damage people with high IQs inflict on society.


36 Responses to “Mr. Kurtz Syndrome”

  1. Vincent Ignatius said

    Some employers do ask for GRE scores, and these correlate as much with IQ tests as different IQ tests correlate with each other.

    I’ll have to get myself a copy of this book.

  2. theobsidianfiles said

    LOL. Touche’!

    Might I recommend another book title? “Lord of The Flies”.

    Also, PG: wouldn’t widespread IQ testing, for the express purpose of putting people in their rightful place, violate key founding ideals of our Republic? Please explain?

    Finally, in the example above, while you admit that there are racial overtones, you seem to lay stress on just IQ alone. Is it possible to tease these two out somehow? For example – let’s say that a Black kid has a very high IQ, but, because he’s Black, is assumed that he’s as dumb as the rest of Blacks, and therefore is consigned to a life of quiet desperation. How would your correctives address this, while at the same time keeping in line with American democratic (small “d”) principles?

    Please explain?



    • PlanetGrok said

      I’ve read the Lord of the Flies as well. That is one of my favorite books.

      “wouldn’t widespread IQ testing, for the express purpose of putting people in their rightful place, violate key founding ideals of our Republic?”

      I’m not necessarily talking about a government-mandated effort here, although I wouldn’t be necessarily opposed to one either. If the value of IQ were more broadly recognized, and employers were allowed to use them, then the market would implement my solution on its own.

      “For example – let’s say that a Black kid has a very high IQ, but, because he’s Black, is assumed that he’s as dumb as the rest of Blacks, and therefore is consigned to a life of quiet desperation. How would your correctives address this, while at the same time keeping in line with American democratic (small “d”) principles?”

      This actually sounds more like what happens in an IQ-denialist society. If a black boy has a high IQ, then according to my prescription for society it would be measured and he would be tracked accordingly.

  3. Jamila said

    I’ll have to put that book by Conrad on my “wish list.” The title sounds familiar.

    Anyhoo, I completely disagree with any sort of tracking via the government based on intelligence. If you eliminate the welfare statism and allow capitalism free reign, the cream will certainly rise to the top. There are people with low IQ’s but big ambition, who will be able to do amazingly innovative things if they are not discouraged; lazy, high IQ folks have been known to exist also. I would trust my future to fate much sooner than I would trust it to a system that is unable to understand and take mitigating factors into account.

    Inequality is inevitable, since we are not all equally beautiful, intelligent or ambitious. However, there should be no invisible hand either leveling the playing field or elevating those it prefers to their so-called “rightful place.” Such a system can only work to discriminate against those whom the powers-that-be deem unfit or unworthy–furthering racism, sexism, ageism and other blights on irrationality and unnaturally exacerbating the problems that come along with the inevitable existence of inequality. But why should anyone be given the authority to decide who is unfit or unworthy, outside of their own field of influence on their own private property? Who will decide who has this power to track others? Tracking creates more problems than it solves.

    (I’ve been reading Ayn Rand, can you tell?)

    • PlanetGrok said

      Free market participants would probably implement IQ testing, as they did before, if they were legally allowed to. The only “invisible hand” in this whole matter have been political activists campaigning for equal outcomes.

      I disagree with your Randian notions of a free-market utopia, however. Public schooling and Social Security are fundamentally great ideas that can be salvaged. History has shown us that markets are not always rational (because their fundamental units (people) aren’t) toward the greater organism they exist in. Markets need rules and guidance, otherwise short term profiteers will kill the goose who lays the golden eggs.

      Rand is fine, but please don’t turn into a cold blooded Objectivist who runs her moral decisions through a calculator on me. 🙂 It didn’t work out so well for Rand.

      • theobsidianfiles said

        Please explain how in your view public schools and Social Security can be “salvaged”? Thanks.


      • Jamila said

        I’m sure if they were allowed to, some would implement IQ testing, but I don’t believe that the majority of business owners would. Lets face it, you don’t have to be a genius to do most jobs today–baker, factory line worker, personal trainer, hairstylist etc.,

        I don’t believe the free market would lead to a utopia; I don’t believe there is such a thing, unless we’re all going to die and go to heaven. I’m sternly against social engineering; I believe it would lead to a dystopia, rather than a utopia and that there is no way to avoid the law of unintended consequences, no matter how good your intentions might be. The free market just protects individual rights and property rights–it provides a foundation for everyone to make the best use of what they’ve been given to work with.

        Social Security is a fundamentally flawed program; its basically a ponzi scheme that relies on each generation supporting the generation that came before it. Once populations begin to decline it leads to increasing taxation of each successive generation and it eventually has to topple.

        Public schooling can work.

        Free markets are ALWAYS rational in the sense that creative destruction leads to ineffective businesses becoming non-profitable (eventually) and new products and services can be offered in their place.

      • PlanetGrok said

        Your comment raises an interesting point about how economic free markets actually operate within democratic systems. With any system of human government, it is a pick your poison type of deal, no? But instead of replying further here, I’ll write a new post on the subject in a day or two.

  4. theobsidianfiles said

    Hmm! Seems that Jamila and I are somewhat in agreement here. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.

    Also, Jamila, please explain how Atlas Shrugged applies to the current discussion, since you mentioned your taking to Rand’s writings of late? Thanks.

    PG, my point in mentioning Lord of The Flies is that it actually directly contradicts your Mr. Kurtz premise. Nor have you actually answered my question in relation to your notion of widespread IQ testing – does it, or does it not, come in direct contradiction with the founding ideals of our Republic? If so, how, and if not, why?



    • PlanetGrok said

      PG, my point in mentioning Lord of The Flies is that it actually directly contradicts your Mr. Kurtz premise.

      Please elaborate.

      Nor have you actually answered my question in relation to your notion of widespread IQ testing – does it, or does it not, come in direct contradiction with the founding ideals of our Republic? If so, how, and if not, why?

      No, it does not. It is not a founding ideal of our country that everyone is able to be anything. Ever heard of the phrase “Jeffersonian aristocracy”? Jefferson, as you know, was a founding father.

    • Jamila said

      I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged (yet). I happened to be in the bookstore recently and came across a compilation of Rand’s writings called “The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.” The title caught my eye and I started flipping through it, which led to me buying it.

  5. theobsidianfiles said

    Yes, I am very familiar with Jefferson. And as we know, he didn’t have too many qualms writing and saying one thing, and actually doing another. Nevertheless, since the days of the Continental Congress, we have moved towards building a more perfect union, and that takes us to our current discussion.

    I just want to make sure I clearly understand you – mandatory and widespread IQ testing, be that done by the private sector or by the State, does, or does not violate the founding principles of our Republic – all Men are created equal, equality under the law, and so forth? I just want to be sure I’m clear on this.

    As for my book recommendation, I think its quite clear and how it rubs up against the notions you’ve presented. In the book you mentioned, the protagonist is kind of above the fray; in the book I mentioned, the ostensible betters of society quickly devolve to the level of animals when all the things we take for granted are removed in a societal sense.

    My point? That high IQ never has been the sole determinants of how a society will conduct itself; other factors have to be taken into account.

    Your response?


    • PlanetGrok said

      The way the founding fathers meant the word “equal” was in the moral sense, as they were rebelling against a monarchy that slighted them.

      If you would claim that said use of “equal” in the DOI means inherently equal in every regard, then yes, widespread societal use of IQ do not match the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence – which is not suprising, since it was written before the modern scientific era. There are many other ideals (such as those related black personhood) our founding fathers held that we have discarded.

      IQ tests do not contradict the notion of equality under the law. Nowhere have I said people should be harmed, persecuted or prosecuted soley for having a low IQ. So I don’t know where you are going with that line of questioning.

      “in the book I mentioned, the ostensible betters of society quickly devolve to the level of animals when all the things we take for granted are removed in a societal sense.”

      True. But 1) they were mere kids and 2) they would have never had a civilization to begin with if higher-IQ people were never around, they’d still be chucking spears, like….

  6. OM said

    I take issue with 2 points made by Jamila and PG.

    Jamila says in a free-market that the “cream rises to the top”. This is assuming that materially and financially minded people are “cream”, or even just “the smartest”. I know dozens upon dozens of “cream” people who, due to not being materially or financially minded, are poor. They are artists, musicians, poets, scientists, intellectuals, saints, etc… but they are not invested in the materialistic rat-race of post-modern society.

    That’s just like people who ask, “why are Indians so arrogant when their country is so poor?” as if MONEY is the only thing worthy being proud about. And such a question really betrays the value systemp (or lack thereof) of the person who asks it.

    Art, culture, literature, music, dance, philosophy, religion, spirituality, family values, etc of course are nothing to be proud about for a person who asks such a question, only $$$$. And it may be that the person who asks such a question does so because they themselves are lacking in all of the above.

    As far as PG’s assertion about tribal people “chucking spears” if not for the high IQ peeps coming along and pulling them out of their ignorance… just see what all of the high IQ people are trying to do now;

    1. trying to “go green” coz they realized they fucked up the planet and their system is not sustainable.

    2. trying to “de-stress” by going on retreats in nature where they can’t bring their cell phones

    3. trying to “eat organic” which spear chucking tribals don’t have to go out of their way or pay exhorbitant fees in order to do

    4. copying Native American and other tribal “rituals” and incorporating them into their “mens’ circles” (or womens’) in order to feel some sense of “belonging” and “culture” which otherwise they wouldn’t have (so they have to copy someone else’s LOL, not funny, sad really)

    When the Euros arrived on Polyneisian and Melenesian Islands they took note at how healthy and happy everyone was, and how well the family and village life was organized. With a few years of the Euros being there the health of the Natives went down hill, and their teeth started falling out due to being introduced to processed sugar and other high IQ civilized CRAP.

    The Euros brought mosquitoes and their diseases with them to Hawaiin Islands. The Euros brought foreing diseases (both of the mental and physical kind) to every “native” island or country they invaded or “showed mercy to” (in order to convert them to another tribal religion which arose out of the dry, barren deserts of the Middle East, go figure), in the name of “missions”.

    Bottom line is; if someone is chucking spears but living happily, eating pure, organic food for free (I’m jealous) and not having cancer or heart disease or teeth falling out – leave well enough alone!

    But misery loves company and the Euros wanted the entire planet to be just as fucked up as they were.

    And now look at the mess we are in!!!

    And by the way, CULTURES EVOLVE without the help of outsiders. Spear chuckers can “evolve” on their own and in their own time, and in a much more culturally congruent and healthy way without the help of dysfunctional Europeans and their processed chemical crap that goes by the name “food”.

    There, I’ve said my peace.


  7. IQ = Certificate of Nobel Birth.

    Tell me something.. Did the wright brothers have higher IQs than the other ‘famous’ academics who nonetheless sucked at making heavier-than-air machines?

    Why were the first broad spectrum anti-bacterials (sulfonamides)discovered by Domgak? Why not some more famous, renowned ‘high IQ’ guy?

    Zuse was a civil engineer who nonetheless invented modern binary computing? Why did he succeed years before WASP ivy leaguers got around to binary computers and programing languages.. after they came to know about his work?

    What was the IQ of Hiram Maxim, whose invention changed warfare in the last 100 years more than any other weapon? Why did some pedigreed ‘high IQ’ guy not invent the self-powered machine gun?

  8. Kurtz’s angst probably comes from being a former naïve liberal turned hardcore conservative.

    David Horowitz used to work for the Black Panthers. These days he writes for VDare.

  9. Phoenixism said

    Notwithstanding Marlon Brando’s illustrious and skinheaded murmur of an overpaid appearance, Apocalypse Now was a great mutation of Conrad’s novel. I was in an “AE” English class in 1978 or 79 and they dragged us to the Pacific Cinerama Dome in Hollywood to watch it (while of course reading Heart of Darkness to add an academic touch).

    On IQ’s. I see no benefits to stratifying society against such a unidimensional yardstick.

    High IQ people will, and can, and posses the ingenuity, to seek each other out. Without the added burden (born by society) of creating yet another category into which to shuffle humanity.

  10. Sagat said

    I think that your assessment of high IQ individuals is based on a very narrow sample of persons. Not everyone with a high IQ will develop the attitudes of Mr. Kurtz. As people differ in their IQs, they also differ in their aptitudes and temperaments. Some with high IQs do very well relating to and understanding those that are much simpler minded and some even appreciate the value of the perspective that an ignorant mind can bring. Your concept of high IQ individuals as well as Obsidian’s view of high IQ persons is based on a certain type that I doubt even represents the majority of high IQ persons. Most leaders possess high IQs and they don’t lead through the sheer fact that their brainpower is greater. They lead because they understand and relate to people.

    • PlanetGrok said

      Right, most high IQ people will still do just fine. My point is that the % of those who don’t live up to their potential will increase the less IQ is valued by society.

  11. OM said

    I’m pretty sure I have a high IQ but my field of knowledge is obscure and not marketable at present.

  12. Cannon's Canon said

    this post is fucking brilliant. i’ve passed it along to my peers, as we will now be referring to ourselves as “mr. kurtz’s”. this is speaking really clearly to me.

  13. Carl said

    I’ve gone Kurtz pretty hard, and I work with people who should be well above average in IQ based on occupation and educational level. I’m surrounded by rocket scientists, but many of them are morons. I shudder to imagine having to deal with the masses.

  14. FWIW, in my drunker, depressed moments, one could argue that I suffer from the slightly related condition where instead of projecting black inferiorities on whites, I simply call for the black population to be eliminated en masse to prevent further suffering for everybody. It certainly seems easier to implement instead of spending years and trillions on research to “save” black people and perform the ultimate in alchemy, and the alternative of trying to deal with effects of living with a black population doesn’t seem any alluring for both blacks and whites.

    My prescription for remedying this situation is to use real IQ tests, and use them often, to help people fit into their appropriate stratum.

    There’s that pesky liberal side of me that believes that sorting people by IQ means that you’ll have a lump of people who’ll never become a part of the middle class and will never achieve the mythical American Dream, and that’s “wrong”. In a practical sense, the real problem is that there is no use for people with IQs below 95 (and at best 90), and when you have a small, yet distinct and sizable portion of the population noting that they’re poor and stuck with the shitty jobs while those that look different are all doing better, one could argue that it’s a recipe for social instability, especially where there has been historic animosity between both groups. I’m black and prefer the company of white people, but effectively, if as a group we can’t live together, you might as well get rid of us.

    Given the alternatives, it certainly explains why elimination of blacks comes across as a sensible idea. You can’t just kill off the low IQ, but the high IQ who will become resentful as well, and it has to be a concerted global effort to eliminate every black person.

    And when the value of IQ is recognized in such a way by the powers-who-decide-such-things, then the higher-IQ types who already do mingle exclusively together

    I’m tempted to argue that it won’t make much of a difference, we’ll probably end up raising what constitutes “retardation” to the equivalent of an IQ of 90, and hand out disability checks and provide other support services to anybody below that level. Given your earlier comments, I’d argue that watching people live in poverty doesn’t bother you, but it certainly nags a certain segment of the population, and I suspect IQ-knowledge will simply increase that desire to save what is effectively the high functioning mentally challenged.

  15. OM said

    Some high IQ people are just not going to fit into our present economic system. It is a problem.

    Many lower IQ people can fit in just fine by performing monotonous, conformist jobs.

    I take issue with the assumption that high IQ means “successful” or even “functionable” in our economic and cultural environment.

  16. […] – David Alexander, his comments in full, taken from the Planet Grok post “Mr. Kurtz Syndrome”: […]

  17. […] Ignatius made a couple of good points that tied into an earlier post, Mr. Kurtz syndrome. He commented that the people who seem to be the most snobby about their intelligence are those ~2 […]

  18. […] Planet Grok: The Sweet Revenge of Man, Mr. Kurtz Syndrome […]

  19. […] PlanetGrok – “Mr. Kurtz Syndrome” […]

  20. Dack Thrombosis said

    If you’ve never heard of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness before, you have a low IQ and reading the book will do nothing to help you.

  21. NotProgressive said

    Kurtz resonated with me because I was almost him. Fortunately, some pockets of business still recognize people who stick out, and help the company make money and solve problems. It is very easy to fall through the cracks if you are not from a favored group. For example, it is clear that Apalachian whites are discriminated against by ivy league schools based on new data coming out.

    A higher education is mostly an expensive IQ test. Most people don’t work in their degreed profession. The most advanced people I know are self learners…autodidacts. They certainly don’t fit into society, and make the degreed people uncomfortable. Autodidacts like the Wright Brothers were obsessed with heavier than air flight. That lead them down paths that the group think IQ elite couldn’t fathom. The Wrights certainly possessed Hi IQ.

    The notion that you must have a lot of letters behind your name to be taken seriously is one of the great fallacies of our current era. It wasn’t always that way. Would Abraham Lincoln be taken seriously today?

    IQ tests as Grok recommends, would be a way of breaking the elite lettered parardigm we currently exist under. Also it would allow those with natural ability to rise up, despite not having money or other resources.

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