Merit Vs Meritocracy

I believe that, like many other good-sounding ideas, meritocracies do not work well in real life. The reader might ask-

Why not? Aren’t meritocratic societies affluent/ stable/ progressive etc.

My answer is-

A society that promotes people based on demonstrated merit and competence is not a meritocracy. Meritocracies almost always preselect their “elites” through processes and rituals that have little or no linkage with reality.

How many of you will ever work on projects without using printed reference material or notes? But aren’t exams in schools and universities based on memorization or solving standard problems within artificial constraints? What about cooperating with others to solve problems? While it is not allowed in exams, it is absolutely necessary in real life.

Does regurgitating the brain farts of ‘famous’ and long-dead Chinese, Indian or White men make you smarter or a better problem solver? But aren’t many areas of human activity, such as economics, based on repeating and explaining the rantings of morons who lived in a world unlike ours?

Entrance exams to ‘professional’ scams such as medicine, law etc are supposed to select for clever people. But then why are ‘iatrogenic events’ the 3rd-4th largest cause of death? Aren’t they competent? Why are physicians so dependent on information from cheerleaders turned sales reps and ‘senior’ doctors? Can they not think for themselves?

What about lawyers? Aren’t most of them just sloppy sociopaths who, in a simpler time, would have been killed in hunting accidents? Where is the competence, ability or social utility?

To conclude this post- Any supposed surrogate marker for ability and competence is really, at best, a vague indicator of potential. Societies and civilizations start stagnating when they start using such proxies of ability or competence, over actually giving people adequate chances to prove themselves.

Comments?

  1. 691
    October 20, 2010 at 6:44 am

    “Any supposed surrogate marker for ability and competence is really, at best, a vague indicator of potential. Societies and civilizations start stagnating when they start using such proxies of ability or competence, over actually giving people adequate chances to prove themselves.”

    Great idea. We should stop using rough proxy indicators of merit that mostly measure luck in favor of rough proxy indicators that mostly measure luck!

  2. Nestorius
    October 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    “Why are physicians so dependent on information from cheerleaders turned sales reps and ‘senior’ doctors? Can they not think for themselves?”

    Why should they think if they have stable incomes? Most people who have stable incomes in their lives don’t think beyond their noses.

  3. October 25, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Physicians are dependent on information from others because if each individual doctor had to make every discovery anew, we would have no progress, and surgery and medications would not be nearly as safe or effective as they are today.

    As for law, it does require thinking and reasoning about new issues. I can’t think of any lawyers I know who hunt, either– and none who fit the characteristics of a sociopath.

  4. Ryan
    November 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    @Amanda: “hunting accident” = killing him on purpose. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fragging

  5. P Ray
    October 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Just leaving this here:
    https://old.reddit.com/r/lostgeneration/comments/9rcxsd/61_of_entrylevel_jobs_require_3_years_of/
    61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

    Also consider that the people telling you “Work hard and you will succeed” … got their success in a time when employers didn’t have hundreds of people competing for the same job, could curse at their boss and find a new job in the same day, and didn’t have social media so that their cv could be poisoned by disgruntled bosses sharing information among themselves.

    People forget that social media also allows bosses to control you by either spreading lies, exaggerating what happened, or leaving out their contribution to a problem.

  1. October 24, 2010 at 1:06 pm

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