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Would intelligent people put themselves in a position where they had to follow stupid orders?

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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09 April 2019 11:27
 

Would intelligent people put themselves in a position where they had to follow stupid orders? 

Do people in the military discuss questions like this, especially when they have a Commander in Chief like Trump?

references: 

1:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fog_of_War  (see references to Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and what Defense Secretary McNamara learned from the Vietnam War)

2.  PBS docudrama - ‘The Man Who Saved the World’  (did a Soviet sub commander go home in disgrace after disobeying orders and preventing a nuclear war?)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=453PEldRoIE

“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.”  -  Albert Einstein

Comments?  Other references?  Quotes?

[ Edited: 09 April 2019 11:33 by unsmoked]
 
 
Garret
 
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Garret
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09 April 2019 13:44
 

Still talking about the Vietnam War, support for the war was highest amongst college educated people.  High school education was lower, and those who didn’t finish high school had the lowest levels of support.  One theory of why is that group membership is a better predictor of what beliefs you’ll hold.  The longer you hold membership within a group, the more beliefs of that group you will adopt.  In this case, the leaders of the government tend to be college educated, and so share a lot of common identity traits with other college educated people in the general population, especially 50 years ago.  So, more than just within the government group, having a college education actually made people more likely to make the bad decision of supporting the war.

 
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09 April 2019 17:11
 
unsmoked - 09 April 2019 11:27 AM

Would intelligent people put themselves in a position where they had to follow stupid orders?

Since Trump cannot attract or retain intelligent people on his staff, then the answer would be No.

 
mapadofu
 
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09 April 2019 19:21
 
Garret - 09 April 2019 01:44 PM

Still talking about the Vietnam War, support for the war was highest amongst college educated people.  High school education was lower, and those who didn’t finish high school had the lowest levels of support.  One theory of why is that group membership is a better predictor of what beliefs you’ll hold.  The longer you hold membership within a group, the more beliefs of that group you will adopt.  In this case, the leaders of the government tend to be college educated, and so share a lot of common identity traits with other college educated people in the general population, especially 50 years ago.  So, more than just within the government group, having a college education actually made people more likely to make the bad decision of supporting the war.

I suspect it was also related to the existence of college deferments back then.

 
unsmoked
 
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09 April 2019 20:21
 
mapadofu - 09 April 2019 07:21 PM
Garret - 09 April 2019 01:44 PM

Still talking about the Vietnam War, support for the war was highest amongst college educated people.  High school education was lower, and those who didn’t finish high school had the lowest levels of support.  One theory of why is that group membership is a better predictor of what beliefs you’ll hold.  The longer you hold membership within a group, the more beliefs of that group you will adopt.  In this case, the leaders of the government tend to be college educated, and so share a lot of common identity traits with other college educated people in the general population, especially 50 years ago.  So, more than just within the government group, having a college education actually made people more likely to make the bad decision of supporting the war.

I suspect it was also related to the existence of college deferments back then.

https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-history

“On November 15, 1969, the largest anti-war demonstration in American history took place in Washington, D.C., as over 250,000 Americans gathered peacefully, calling for withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.

The anti-war movement, which was particularly strong on college campuses, divided Americans bitterly. For some young people, the war symbolized a form of unchecked authority they had come to resent. For other Americans, opposing the government was considered unpatriotic and treasonous.

As the first U.S. troops were withdrawn, those who remained became increasingly angry and frustrated, exacerbating problems with morale and leadership. Tens of thousands of soldiers received dishonorable discharges for desertion, and about 500,000 American men from 1965-73 became “draft dodgers,” with many fleeing to Canada to evade conscription. Nixon ended draft calls in 1972, and instituted an all-volunteer army the following year.”

Wait.  How many deserted?  How many with PTSD?  They didn’t say Nixon cancelled peace talks so he could re-elected did they?

 
 
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10 April 2019 03:22
 
Garret - 09 April 2019 01:44 PM

Still talking about the Vietnam War, support for the war was highest amongst college educated people.  High school education was lower, and those who didn’t finish high school had the lowest levels of support.  One theory of why is that group membership is a better predictor of what beliefs you’ll hold.  The longer you hold membership within a group, the more beliefs of that group you will adopt.  In this case, the leaders of the government tend to be college educated, and so share a lot of common identity traits with other college educated people in the general population, especially 50 years ago.  So, more than just within the government group, having a college education actually made people more likely to make the bad decision of supporting the war.

I would assume that people tabled to go to a war are much more likely to oppose it if they can, particularly those who would expect to end up on the front line. Support for a war is much more tempting if you won’t go yourself. Maybe you can even see it as good riddance if war sends away people you don’t like. What people say, and even do, shouldn’t be taken too literally as an indication of their motives. For some, war might even be an opportunity, whether they have to go themselves or whether their competitors have to go. Even a display of emotion should be taken with a pinch of salt. Angry people won’t necessarily tell you exactly why they are angry, or indeed, whether they are really angry.
EB

 
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10 April 2019 03:38
 
unsmoked - 09 April 2019 11:27 AM

Would intelligent people put themselves in a position where they had to follow stupid orders?

By definition, few people are what we call “intelligent”. There has to be a very complex interplay between the sheer numbers of the less intelligent and the greater efficience of the more intelligent. Intelligent people remain individuals, and inevitably subject to social dogmas. So, I would expect all possible situations to obtain and, therefore, many intelligent people to choose to “put themselves in a position where they have to follow stupid orders”. Others won’t. Whether those who don’t would be more intelligent, I really don’t believe this to be necessarily the case.
Intelligence is a tool available that you choose to use or ignore depending on the emotions you have on the moment. Intelligence provides you with a greater capacity to achieve what you’ve decided to do because you want to do it. It won’t help at all for deciding what emotions you’re going to experience and therefore what you are going to want to do. And once you want to do something, intelligence is the best way, usually, to achieve it. But then, it’s just a tool of your emotions.
So, it’s not so much intelligence that matters here, it’s what emotions people have. And you don’t need to be intelligent to have emotions, any emotion.
Trump isn’t an idiot. But he does seem to have an excess of emotions…
And maybe the emotions of the dear leader spread more efficiently than any bright ideas could.
EB

[ Edited: 10 April 2019 03:41 by Speakpigeon]
 
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10 April 2019 05:33
 

Don’t we all consider ourselves intelligent?  Haven’t we all made stupid decisions, whether on our own or following others’ advice? There is your answer.

 
Twissel
 
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10 April 2019 08:51
 

The flipside of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that intelligent people might assume that there is information they are not privy to that makes the seemingly stupid plan actually brilliant.

Ambitious people of all intelligence levels might follow stupid orders to get promoted so that they can issue perhaps less stupid orders one day.

 
 
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10 April 2019 09:06
 

Intelligent people are also better able to self-deceive and convince themselves that following “stupid orders” is the best. It’s one thing disobeying the green lieutenant and another disobeying the president. And it’s also a matter of things like emotion having an influence, and so on. Great read relating to this is Mark Lilla, The Lure of Syracuse, an essay originally published in NY Times Review of Books.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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10 April 2019 09:40
 

If the case in point were that Commander-in-Chief Trump were to give an illegal/immoral order, might it not be the generals, who one could assume/hope are somewhat intelligent and informed, that would make the decision to disregard or disobey and order his/her troops to stand down, i.e. it wouldn’t be up to each soldier in the chain of command to decide?

 
 
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10 April 2019 10:01
 
Jan_CAN - 10 April 2019 09:40 AM

If the case in point were that Commander-in-Chief Trump were to give an illegal/immoral order, might it not be the generals, who one could assume/hope are somewhat intelligent and informed, that would make the decision to disregard or disobey and order his/her troops to stand down, i.e. it wouldn’t be up to each soldier in the chain of command to decide?

The generals would be in the best position to decide.  The farther down the chain it goes, the less likely it is that the order would be disobeyed, I suspect.

 
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10 April 2019 10:09
 

https://www.amazon.com/American-Pageant-AP-Updated-16th/dp/1337090158

A quote from this school history textbook:

“After Antietam, Lincoln replaced McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac with General A.E. Burnside . . . Protesting his unfitness for this responsibility, Burnside proved it when he launched a rash frontal attack on Lee’s strong position at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 13, 1862.  “A chicken could not have lived in the line of fire,” remarked one Confederate officer.  More than ten thousand Northern soldiers were killed or wounded in “Burnside’s Slaughter Pen.”

Burnside’s Slaughter Pen?  Sounds worse than ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ in Crimea - 1854 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX59tX9ow0Q

“Trust yourself; there is no one else to trust.”  -  Zen master Linji

 
 
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10 April 2019 10:26
 
EN - 10 April 2019 10:01 AM
Jan_CAN - 10 April 2019 09:40 AM

If the case in point were that Commander-in-Chief Trump were to give an illegal/immoral order, might it not be the generals, who one could assume/hope are somewhat intelligent and informed, that would make the decision to disregard or disobey and order his/her troops to stand down, i.e. it wouldn’t be up to each soldier in the chain of command to decide?

The generals would be in the best position to decide.  The farther down the chain it goes, the less likely it is that the order would be disobeyed, I suspect.

Wouldn’t soldiers be most likely to obey the orders of the next in command immediately above them, all the way up the chain?  Isn’t that what they are trained to do?

[ Edited: 10 April 2019 10:30 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
unsmoked
 
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10 April 2019 11:34
 
Jan_CAN - 10 April 2019 10:26 AM
EN - 10 April 2019 10:01 AM
Jan_CAN - 10 April 2019 09:40 AM

If the case in point were that Commander-in-Chief Trump were to give an illegal/immoral order, might it not be the generals, who one could assume/hope are somewhat intelligent and informed, that would make the decision to disregard or disobey and order his/her troops to stand down, i.e. it wouldn’t be up to each soldier in the chain of command to decide?

The generals would be in the best position to decide.  The farther down the chain it goes, the less likely it is that the order would be disobeyed, I suspect.

Wouldn’t soldiers be most likely to obey the orders of the next in command immediately above them, all the way up the chain?  Isn’t that what they are trained to do?

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-forgotten-history-of-fragging-in-vietnam_b_5a1b77b6e4b0cee6c050939d

“The term “fragging” was derived from the fact that a fragmentation grenade was rolled into the area where an officer or NCO was sleeping. When it exploded, no fingerprints could be found. The target was often a leader who was hated because he was incompetent in leading men, or excessively harsh in his discipline, or overly aggressive in waging war (putting the lives of soldiers and Marines at unnecessary risk just so that he could gain glory and advance his own career).”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDA60X-f_A  (movie trailer - Paths of Glory)

 
 
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10 April 2019 11:57
 
unsmoked - 10 April 2019 11:34 AM
Jan_CAN - 10 April 2019 10:26 AM
EN - 10 April 2019 10:01 AM
Jan_CAN - 10 April 2019 09:40 AM

If the case in point were that Commander-in-Chief Trump were to give an illegal/immoral order, might it not be the generals, who one could assume/hope are somewhat intelligent and informed, that would make the decision to disregard or disobey and order his/her troops to stand down, i.e. it wouldn’t be up to each soldier in the chain of command to decide?

The generals would be in the best position to decide.  The farther down the chain it goes, the less likely it is that the order would be disobeyed, I suspect.

Wouldn’t soldiers be most likely to obey the orders of the next in command immediately above them, all the way up the chain?  Isn’t that what they are trained to do?

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-forgotten-history-of-fragging-in-vietnam_b_5a1b77b6e4b0cee6c050939d

“The term “fragging” was derived from the fact that a fragmentation grenade was rolled into the area where an officer or NCO was sleeping. When it exploded, no fingerprints could be found. The target was often a leader who was hated because he was incompetent in leading men, or excessively harsh in his discipline, or overly aggressive in waging war (putting the lives of soldiers and Marines at unnecessary risk just so that he could gain glory and advance his own career).”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDA60X-f_A  (movie trailer - Paths of Glory)

There are of course many examples of soldiers disobeying orders that they should have followed, and of soldiers obeying orders that should not have been obeyed.  And in your example, of soldiers driven to take terrible actions.

I’m just hoping that, due to the incompetence, unpredictability and the particularly questionable morality of the current Commander-in-Chief, certain saner minds in the military might hinder actions that could be even more harmful or dangerous than some that have been taken in the past.

 

 
 
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