The importance of Not Getting the Joke

One of my favorite genres in the prestige press is the Self-Refuting Article. These are articles that contain all the facts necessary to undermine the premise of the piece, but reporters, editors, and readers all conspire together in an act of collective stupidity to Not Get the Joke.

-Steve Sailer, here

But why do people conspire in an act of collective stupidity to Not Get The Joke? Before I proceed let me first admit that it is indeed hard to identify such situations with any reasonable level of certainty, its seems difficult to do, when “Not Getting the Joke” is good for our side its subjectively harder to spot (see mind killer). I’m not quite sure what to make of this, but it seems to me that three obvious things are going on here:

  1. The author and the audience share many of the same biases. Maybe they really don’t get the joke

  2. bandwagon effect, even if the overlap in biases isn’t that great people are lazy thinkers and prefer a given answer.

  3. The right answer happens to be enemy attire and might provoke accusations or suspicion from others in the in group.

Now, perhaps not so obviously, could it be people have some incentives to say and even believe or at least try to believe things that are obviously wrong even to people of their tribe (political/​religious/​ect. affilation)? Why would something like this arise? My mind at this point wandered to conspicuous consumption.

Conspicuous consumption is lavish spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth.

Could there be such a thing as conspicuous wrongness?

“Look how much I identify with our group, I’m even willing to buy even if it dosen’t do us much good. If I wasn’t so virtuous I could never believe something this silly.”

But why would sticking to the script when its blatantly false to others in the tribe boost your status and self-esteem? Well, sticking to it when its blatantly obvious to most people dosen’t cost you anything now does it? Sticking to it when its merely uncertain only costs you the esteem of the out group (worthless in most cases)?


Sticking to the script, when everyone knows the script is false, is a sign of either cleverness or innocence, and more than that it is a sign that that cleverness or innocence is perfectly aligned to the interests of the tribe.

So my question is, if there is anything in the sequences that already covers this or was my speculation faulty?*

*(only just started reading the sequences)

1st Edit: Less goofy presentation.
2nd Edit: Spacing problem resolved.