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Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/02/08


Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ test scores developed by independent psychometricians. Kirk Kirkpatrick earned a score at 185, near the top of the listing, on a mainstream IQ test, the Stanford-Binet. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and ~5.67 for Kirk – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick, Rick Rosner, and myself on the “American Disease,” as identified and labeled by Kirk, and “Super Empowerment,” as observed and named by Rick.

Keywords: general intelligence, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Rick Rosner, sigma, Stanford-Binet, World Genius Directory.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Kirk Kirkpatrick and Rick Rosner on the “American Disease” and “Super Empowerment”[1],[2]

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, let’s open the discussion with the election and lead into healthcare. Rick, I believe you had some thoughts on the election. We had some discussions before.

Rick Rosner: Kirk wanted to go deeper than that. Right before we started taping, he wanted to talk about deeper causes because everybody has had a stomach full of the more obvious proximate causes, but I believe deeper trends help generate the situate we’re in.

Kirk Kirkpatrick: Yes, I think he’s right. If I can start the conversation, my background is rather diverse considering most Americans. I lived in 8 countries. I have probably have been to every country in the northern hemisphere. I speak several languages.

My wife is a native Chinese. I tend to take a more international look at things. But when I returned back to living in the United States, one the things that struck me was the way people think they are entitled to hold an opinion.

And they confuse the entitlement of holding an opinion with the veracity of the opinion. In other words, “I have a right to hold an opinion, and that means you need to consider this opinion as valid.” So, I see, if I can give an example.

If I had never been to LA and I was speaking with Rick, and we were having a discussion about Los Angeles, and Rick said to me, “You know, Kirk, I grew up here. I lived here all of my life.” I would start deferring to him about finding out what Los Angeles was like.

I would be the last person in the world to start arguing with him about a place I had never been to before, and that he happened to live in and had grown up in, and is a rational, intelligent human being. Do you understand my point?

Rosner: Yup.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Rosner: And I agree with it. I’ve been calling it “super empowerment.” Where a lot of our tech and social media give people reinforcement of the idea that whatever you believe must be the truth, you’re entitled to spread that truth by whatever means necessary.

Kirkpatrick: The evangelists, I think that’s a very good point. The way I put it, or the succinct way I say it, “A Google search does not an expert make.” Because you Googled an article and read it doesn’t even tell me that you 1) had the background to understand the article that you read or 2), and more importantly, to validate the article and find out whether or not the author knew what he was talking about.

Rosner: I heard on NPR yesterday, day before. Some country or entity wants to install something before you’re allowed to comment on the article. You have to take a quiz on the article to make sure you even read it and understood it.

Kirkpatrick: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing] That’s very good.

Kirkpatrick: I can give you a perfect example that will illustrate it excellently. If you remember a while back, we did a deal, or I say we were part of a deal, with Iran to try to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons.

While that was going on, I had a phone call from a woman who claimed to be from my congress, which I don’t believe. But she said she was. I’ll quote her as quickly or as accurately as I can. She wanted to know my opinion on “Obama’s deal with Iran.”

And those were her exact words. I said to her, “Ma’am, can I ask you a couple of questions first?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “What is your opinion on Obama’s deal with Iran?” She said, “I don’t like it.”

Rosner: Sure.

Kirkpatrick: I said, “Have you been to Iran?” She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name 5 cities in Iran?” She said, “No.” I said, “How about 3?” She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name the countries that border Iran?” She said, “No.” I said, “Then, what is it that bothers you about this deal?” She said, “It threatens Israel.” I said, “That sounds reasonable. Can you name 5 cities in Israel?” She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name 3?”

She said, “No.” I said, “Can you name the countries that border Israel?” She said, “No.” I said, “Have you ever visited the place or been there?” She said, “No.”

I said, “Then allow me to answer your question.” I said, “Firstly, I don’t know any deal that Obama did with Iran, but I know a deal that the P5+1 nations did with Iran under the auspices of the Security Council at the UN. If that’s the one that you’re referring to, I’ve been to Iran and can easily name 5 cities in the place, and can tell you every country that touches it.”

I continued, “And on top of that, I lived in Israel. So, 5 cities are really easy. I can tell you every country that touches Israel. I have been to all of them. And in spite of all of this, I still don’t know enough about this arms deal to form an opinion one way or another. So, the operative question for me is, ‘Why do you care what I think? And why do you even have an opinion?’”

Of course, she hung the phone up.

Rosner: Nice.

Kirkpatrick: That’s my point. You’re going to have an opinion on an arms deal that you incorrectly describe to these people, and it’s an arms deal! You know, it’s like, who are you?

Rosner: What she characterized as an arms deal was the nuclear weapons development negotiation going on, I guess, right?

Kirkpatrick: She meant the P5+1 nations’ deal with Iran. But my point is, you’re going to form an opinion about something like that. You’re not bothering to educate yourself? Not knowing the countries that border Iran?

It isn’t that advanced. Let’s put it this way, if Rick and I were talking, and Rick put an equation in front of me that said, “y+ 8=4,” and I looked at him and said, “You can’t add letters to numbers.” I’m not sure he’d take my opinion on math very seriously.

Rosner: Yes, Yes.

Kirkpatrick: That’s the point I’m trying to make. This is what I call the “American Disease.” Where because we have TV, cable news, and Google, we think, “Oh, I’ll Google this.” The American becomes unaware of the fact that the guy who wrote the article doesn’t know any more about the subject than he does. He’s writing down what somebody else has said, over and over again.

Rosner: I’ve watched a lot of the middle to Left-leaning news. I watched a lot of MSNBC. I reluctantly watch CNN. With Fox News, at least you know, you’re getting biased news. CNN presents itself as news and tries to be even handed, or at least they present the appearance of being even handed.

That involves assembling these panels of 6 or 8 people. Most of whom either don’t know what they’re talking about or who are dispensing fairly pure bullshit. And this was a staple of coverage during the election. CNN has stayed with that format.

All of the little tricks they learned about drawing in eyeballs during the election. These cross-partisan panels. People on Trump’s side. People on the other side. Countdown clocks, town halls, they’ve kept it all. It’s as if the election is still going on.

It is endless presentations of uninformed and/or deliberately misleading opinion.

Kirkpatrick: Yes, I have to give you credit here because I can’t stomach any of it. I watch no, absolutely zero, television news.  So, you understand, I can’t do it.

Rosner: I used to write jokes for late night TV. Which meant that I…

Kirkpatrick: you had to…

Rosner: Yes, I had to be informed. I’ve kept the habit. Much to the detriment of my blood pressure.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Kirkpatrick: Here’s what I advise my friends who come and ask me, because my news is a little tough, in that, I speak multiple languages. I am able to read Het Parool in Holland or Die Welt in German. So, I get a little different viewpoint.

But what I tell them is to go to Google News, if they go down to Google News at the bottom, there’s a link that says, “Other languages.” Or there’s about 20 overseas editions of Google News that are English, but presented from the perspective of the person in that country.

So, for example, India has an English Google News and Australia has an English Google News, Israel has an English Google News, and South Africa has an English Google News. If you click that, then there’s every article that you’ll never see in the United States.

Rosner: That’s really good to know. I get sick of my three stupid go-to sources. The ones that I can stomach. I go through it pretty fast. I’m unnecessarily informed after going through it.

Kirkpatrick: They all have to buy it. That’s why I say, “If you get a bunch of them, you read them in the middle.” The other thing I tell people is that if you want to, for example, tell me about Germany and the problem they’re having, or perhaps not having, with the immigrants, and then try to sit there and argue with me.

First thing I’m going to do. I’m going to research it in the German press. Because when I lived in Europe, sometimes, you can see the European press writing in glee about a problem The United of States was having.

When you look down into the problems, it wasn’t nearly as bad. There was a lot added to it because they wanted that. That goes in all directions for any country. I’m not blaming Europeans or anybody else.

Rosner: I had a discussion with a super conservative friend about Sweden being the rape capital of Europe because of the Muslims. My buddy is an artist, which means he’s using his eyes and hands all day but his ears are free.

He pipes in ten hours a day of conservative talk about this stuff. He is very informed on all the conservative talking points. The story about this rape in Sweden. You poke at it a little bit. It starts to fall apart because it starts turning into mush where you really have to do a lot of research on it.

It’s all the parts, but you’re not left with anything because now you’re left with uncertainty. One reason that Sweden seems rapey is that they have a super inclusive definition of sexual assault that can include things such as micro aggressions.

Kirkpatrick: It is worse than that, okay? Now, let me give you an example, my company, the one I am the CEO of, has about 15 employees who has 10 on contract. We build countrywide telecommunication systems, but we generally use the manpower of whoever is buying our system to build it.

So, let’s get to Sweden, I’m talking to some young thing in the bar. I tell her I’m the CEO of a telecommunication company. Then we go to bed because she thinks I’m hot. In the next morning, I get a phone call.

I say, “I’ve got to do this and that. It’s my accountant. I don’t have a secretary.” She asks, “How big is your company?” I reply, “We have five employees and ten contractors.” Now, she thought I was this rich Apple type CEO, but, in fact, now she found out that my company is not as big as she thought it was.

That’s right; I deceived her. That’s rape after the fact. That’s what Julian Assange has been accused of; that exact thing. That he lied to the woman about who he was. I’m not going to show what they do about it, but I don’t think that that’s right in the other direction.

But it’s the same thing when you’re talking to a conservative about the crime rate in the UK. If I raise my fist to you in the UK, then I’ve assaulted you, even though I’ve never hit you. In the United States, that’s not a violent crime and in the UK it is.

But I think that’s my point in the case of discussing this about Sweden. I will move this on social media. This will come up and almost lead into the conversation. A guy who is not only Swedish, but he lives there. He’s living there now. He’s never lived any place else.

I’ll still have Americans who argue with him. Sure, that’s much more.

Rosner: Yes, so, in a deeper sense or looking at its people feeling super empowered, at the same time, they’re almost more manipulable than at a lot of other points in history.

Kirkpatrick: Does that mean the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Rosner: Yes, I love that thing. I tweeted about that during the election so many times. To explain to everybody, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, let me explain: in movies, there are magical characters.  Often, in movies, dumb people have a special wisdom. They know they’re dumb.

Forrest Gump, he’s retarded. He’s got an IQ 70. Yet, he’s full of this wisdom, a deeper wisdom that goes beyond his academic difficulties. That’s in the movies. In real life, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that somebody who’s dumb is also dumb about their level of dumbness.

So, a lot of people who are dumb think they’re super smart because they’re too dumb to realize that they’re dumb. There’s nothing magic about them. There’s no deep wisdom about them. There’s a deep assurance that they know what’s what.

They’ve been catered to by these news sources. Fox being the first one to it. I’m not sure my understanding is completely accurate, but it is my understanding. That 30-40 years ago conservative think-tanks started researching how to win people.

They realized that dumb, colourful, easy branding, easy issues were the way to grab low information – meaning dumb – voters, and yank them around. They started by that.  Anyway, Fox News has been going for 37 years. People have their brain tenderized.

They are super confident about what they think, but they’re not good in the head.

Kirkpatrick: I think you’re giving them a little too much credit.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Kirkpatrick: Let me tell you what mean by that. I think this is more Rupert saying that there’s the gullible objects. First, what I’ll say is this, we say it about CNN and MSNBC. I think MSNBC tried to be FOX a little bit.

But what I would say is most of the American media and a lot of European media are biased towards sensationalists. If it bleeds, it leads. They want to be sensational. CNN is the worst with this, but Fox is appealing to a specific constituency that Rupert Murdoch realized CNN wasn’t available to feed these people.

When I was dealing with a man who was very close in the group, I helped set up Sky Latin America for him down in Latin America. He told me that they had brought in a bunch of marketers who’d do a marketing plan for Sky Latin American.

The groups produced a document about a 158 pages long. Rupert wasn’t there.  Rupert came down. My friend whose name happens to be Scott, came in to say you may have this marketing plan in his hand, which they put together.

He said, “I handed it to Rupert.” As I see Rupert glance at the cover, he said, “This hand never stopped moving towards the next page.” Finally, he dropped it. He looked at him. He said, “Scott, you buy the football. You put dishes on the roofs. That’s the marketing.” You get it?

I would say deep understanding of these markets. 80% of the decisions when multi-channel video is made on the basis of sports program in Latin America; soccer is everything. So, Rupert was much more fundamental than Scott was.

Guys, it’s really simple. These guys want football, buy the rights, then y’all run to you to get it, okay? Same with FOX. You could out that conservative being this The people will have confirmation by us. They want that to be right and will turn you into the exclusivity of everybody.

Rosner: I can’t get me to shut up about the size of the American population. 325-329 million people You got the dumbest half of the country. Then half of that again is the dumbest half of the dumbest half. That’s still 80 million people.

Kirkpatrick: FOX has this subscribership of about 30 million. So, that’s not even half of that, but look at how much money they’ve made.

Rosner: By the way, this is little off what you were saying, where the coverage is people who are on the Left. They lost the election, lost the government. All the branches feel pretty angst and bereft.

Perhaps, beyond even the immediate or midterm consequences of the laws, I think it’s hard on people’s sadness that the coverage took the form of sports coverage during the election. So, it’s not the political implications, but there’s this emotional bond you have with your political team now.

The way that people either love or hate you the way they do with the Patriots.

Kirkpatrick: You definitely have this, but I think there’s ignorance. I know that there’s a lot of – I didn’t say – angst because we lost the election, but this in my opinion is fundamentally different. I’ll tell you why for a couple of reasons. Number one, as I told you, I’ve lived more than half of my life in other countries.

You might imagine other countries follow American politics closely. The reason is because it affects their lives. But until the second George Bush election, I had never seen that end up with the American people. What I mean by that is people saying, “I don’t like your government at all, but I think the Americans are best people who work.” You understand what I mean?

Rosner: We’re starting to get hit hard with our own brushes.

Kirkpatrick: Yes. After the second George Bush election, people started saying, “Straighten this out, if that is the way you are, then, maybe, the American people are not who we thought they were.” I don’t think the average American understands the picture that we started painting for over the border.

If I can give you an example, did either of you gentlemen see the movie ‘The American Sniper’?

Jacobsen: Nope.

Rosner: No.

Kirkpatrick: I haven’t either, on purpose.  But I know about the scene because I went out and looked at it, because of the description of the scene. The first scene of this movie they’re attacking a neighborhood in Iraq. I believe it’s Iraq.

The red’s a woman in a Hijab and Abaya, where she’s got a 10-year-old kid.

Rosner: I heard about that scene too.

Kirkpatrick: You’ve heard about it? So, he shoots the woman. The whole time he’s sitting there saying, “Please don’t throw the grenade, please don’t throw.” But she starts to throw and he kills her. The little 10-year-old kid picks up the grenade and he starts back with this.

Of course, to make it more dramatic, his partner says, “If you’re wrong about this, you’re going to go to prison.” And, of course, he hesitates, the boy throws the grenade, but it doesn’t make it all the way to Americans. So, he saved their lives.

I say to people, “If you watch this scene in this movie, the only thing about the movie is that you convert the American soldier into a Soviet Union informant and make the woman and the boy Afghans, how would you feel? Would you feel the Soviet guy was a hero because he is saving the other Soviet soldiers from this evil Afghani woman and her child, as they’re invading their country?”

Rosner: Not so, much.

Kirkpatrick: Not so much, what’s different about the situation with Chris, Scott? We’re invading their country. They’re defending their homes the same way. Yet, now, he’s a hero and the whole world looks and wonders.

Let me give you a second example to chock the crap out of them, my wife is Chinese. She became an American citizen. She applied for American Citizenship. They had a nationalization ceremony. 80 people got their citizenship. I went to it. 

While she went to what should have been a solemn ceremony, they had a big screen in the centre of the room that would pop down when they played the national anthem. People stood up. After they said their oaths and stuff, they handed out to these little American flags.

After the ceremony, the screen comes back down, then they start playing Proud to be an American, the country music song. A woman walks on stage swinging a huge American flag back and forth. She yells at these guys and says, “Now, new American citizens stand up, wave your flag and sing.”

Now, I’m sure my wife has never heard this song before. She’s sitting right in front of me. They (new immigrants) were sitting together. But my point was when the song is over, of course, the 80 guys stood up and smiled and waved their flags.

It was as soon as it was over my wife not knowing what she was doing looks over at me six rows across the room and says out loud, “Just like IN CHINA, So Communist.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Kirkpatrick: Guys, that’s exactly what I was thinking. I spent time behind the Iron Curtain. I was thinking “This looks eerily like in Moscow.” What do you mean stand up, wave your flag and sing? Is that an order? I never did anything for it. Scott, you’re Canadian, right?

Jacobsen: I am, yes.

Kirkpatrick: Yet, can you imagine a lumberjack in the middle of the nationalization ceremony?

Jacobsen: [Laughing] If on the condition that it was a replay of a Monty Python song.

Kirkpatrick: Oh, right, right. And you don’t have the guy doing Doug & Bob McKenzie impressions from the podium. No, I can end this by saying my team I hired him out of Moscow. He grew up in the Soviet Union and has lived in the US for 5 years. ,

He came to me and said “One of the big differences between the Soviet Union and the US is that we have understood that our propaganda was all bullshit, “But you guys believe yours!”

Rosner: Because it comes out of an earnest people because the basic American values are not cynical. The 20th century marked the decay of American institutions that people used to believe in wholeheartedly: the church, Boy Scouts, patriotism, and so on. Everything got torched.

That stuff worked great for a while. So, it’s easy to sell people on stuff that used to work without examination and qualification. I remember in the ‘60s being taught critical thinking skills in elementary school.

There was a lesson on the nine ways advertising manipulates you.  It was good to have that.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosner: If that is still taught, but I know that we’re in the middle of a bunch of new technology and new social media, that makes us vulnerable because we haven’t learned the considerate bullshit. We’re still virgins.

When I worked in bars, one of my jobs was walking through the bar and looking for underage people who’d snuck in one way or another. One way I found them was I’d look for the clump of lame guys over there night after night without picking anybody up.

If there were several of those gathered around somebody, I knew at the center of the cluster of lame-Os would be an underage girl who had yet to bullshit. She didn’t have the experience yet on how to detect bullshit, how to push it away.

We are in that situation, where there’s all this new stuff. It looks shiny and powerful and makes us feel powerful. It makes us manipulable.

2. Jacobsen: Then maybe a closure question for the two of you: do you think social media, the new technology, amplifies the American Disease as you call it, Kirk, or the Super Empowered population as you call it, Rick?

Kirkpatrick: I think we’re both right. What I mean by this is I think it amplifies the American Disease, but as Rick implies, it’s probably going to be solved. In the end, it’s probably going to be the closest to the point that, as he mentioned before, you’re going to pull something and it’s going to pop up.

Instead, I’ve marked this is incorrect for anybody who might read.

Rosner: I totally agree with that. It takes a while to get resistant. When people first had cell phones, only 10% of the population had cell phones. We saw a lot of behaviour because it made everybody else pissed off: talking really loud on your phone in the line at the bank or in a restaurant.

Over time, people calmed down with that. Now, the new prop is texting all over the place, in crosswalks or while driving. Eventually, people will calm down with that and will learn to make better use of technology and understand. They will be less swayed by it. The trouble is by that time. It will be two or three new ways of tech to mess with people, but I remain optimistic.

Kirkpatrick: I do too.

Rosner: Is that a good place to end right there?

Jacobsen: That is a good line to end on, I think.


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Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Kirk Kirkpatrick: Founder & CEO, MDS America Inc. Corporation; Rick Rosner: Former Comedy Writer, Jimmy Kimmel Live!; Former Editor, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2018 at; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2018 at


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