Oct 27, 2021 • 1HR 8M

Ep41 – So What? The Tyranny of Merit and Everyone Gets a Participation Trophy

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Episode details

Is a system based on individual ability or achievement ruining society by creating a feeling of hubris in society's winners and resentment in its losers? In Mentally Unscripted episode 41, Paul and Scott review The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good? by Michael J. Sandel. In that book, the author claims that a merit-based system is destroying the common good. 


  1. The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good? 

  1. Meritocracy: A system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement. 

  1. Does America Hate the "Poorly Educated"? by Matt Taibi 

Mental Models 

  1. Confirmation bias 

  1. Disconfirming evidence 

  1. Error of induction

  2. Inversion

  3. False dichotomy

Top Takeaways  

  1. According to the author, western society is struggling because our culture of meritocracy is destroying the common good. Those who succeed have a sense of hubris and look down on those who are less successful, and the less successful resent those who succeed. Resentment against the elites is causing a rise in populism. 

  1. On the other hand, aristocracies are less prone to hubris and resentment because people understand that their success is attributable to luck. 

  1. The common good requires society to balance justice, goodness, and progress.  

  1. The author's argument is weak because he doesn't take disconfirming evidence into account in his analysis, and he focuses almost exclusively on language from politicians to prove his point.  

Engage with Scott and Paul on the Twitter thought control machine. 

We’re also on Odysee (full episodes and clips). 

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