The progressive wave of feminism, liberal values, and social justice embodies a correct identification of many of the oppressive qualities of present and historical norms, rules, and controls. A steady march toward greater standards of toleration really does improve the lives of many people, such as homosexuals. A loosening of the shackles of rigid social norms and crushing oppression allows a greater range of people to pursue their own view of a happy, fulfilling human existence.
Within society we have a class of individuals who we call “scientists”, “academics”, “intellectuals”, “rationalists”, or “thinkers”. In the popular imagination, the high-status members of this class belong to a subset of mankind we may call “highly intelligent”.
When I first started studying Japanese, I hadn’t yet been to Japan and I didn’t know any Japanese people. I was talking to one of my friends who lived in Japan at the time, and he mentioned that I could gain two things at once if I met a Japanese person over the Internet: I would have someone to do language exchange with, so as to improve my Japanese, and I would potentially meet someone I could stay with for a few weeks in Japan, in order to decrease the cost of visiting.
I was talking to a male friend, and I was trying to give a few major suggestions for how to improve a man’s rationality. He singled out one of my claims as requiring more explanation: that a man can make great leaps in his ability to think clearly by leaving his home country, and learning how to do pickup in a foreign land.
Most people believe that there’s a critical period in human development, where during that period it’s easy for a human to learn a natural language, and after that period it becomes very difficult. When a young child goes to a boarding school in a foreign country and picks up perfect native-level pronunciation, grammar, and word usage after a few years, their admirers say, “What a wonderful thing childhood is! His brain is like a sponge.” And when an adult ends up with a heavy foreign accent, broken grammar, and foreign-sound word usage, their defenders reply, “Well, he learned the language as an adult. Everyone knows how hard that is.”