A provocative title, implying that the physical and intellectual aspects of a person are in some form of competition or have any particular sway over each other. Does one’s physical attributes command their intellectual capabilities or vice versa? I see no logical connection, and reality would often disagree with that query. Yet, there are many who seem to believe they are somehow entwined.
As I mentioned in my last piece, I have found a YouTube channel called Philosophy Tube that has some incredibly well-made videos and offers much for one to consider on different concepts. The one that led to this piece was about Steve Bannon, never directly calling him a racist or a fascist, but calling him out on his inconsistencies, particular behaviours, and shortcomings. (It is well worth watching, and the subplot regarding the Arsonist is stunning writing).
But it is not about Bannon, or even fascism, that sparks this piece, but instead a response from a different YouTube personality to the video. In his video, Oliver Thorn refers to a conversation carried out between Marcus Follin, a Swedish nationalist, and Tom Rowsell about the Cheddar Man – a 10,000-year-old male human fossil that made headlines and triggered controversy in some circles for his possible ‘blackness’.
It is not important what any of the men had to say about the Cheddar Man here, nor particularly insightful. Both parties agreed that the complexion of the Cheddar Man was darker than modern Europeans, specifically the British people in this case, but that so far, no specific complexion had been deduced. This is entirely fair, and the media skyrocketed the discovery, seeing as the UK was (and still is) going through a spot of Brexit troubles.
But what Follin and Rowsell then link this to is a conspiracy between scientists, the media, and the reconstruction artists (that made the images we saw of what the Cheddar Man might’ve looked like) to try to displace white peoples’ sense of belonging in the UK. Ok, maybe the complexion they portrayed the Cheddar Man as is darker than he was, but that’s not really relevant. I must have missed the articles from the virtue-signalling papers like the Guardian telling us that all white British people must vacate the country, or is it that they don’t exist?
There were stories and articles about how it made darker skinned UK citizens feel more comfortable and prouder of their place in the UK, but that is by no means synonymous with casting aside or discrediting white British people. The only people I see that tried to dive down that particular rabbit hole (I had to go searching) were people who believed the media, the scientific community, and the vaguely defined ‘elite’ were pushing an anti-white, pro-immigration world. Note that I do not refer to these people as racist, per se (although some certainly would be), but they are victims of some rather outrageous disinformation.
One article I found tried to portray a video in which a black British geneticist expressed pride in the discovery of Cheddar Man’s true complexion (again, dark but not fully defined) as an attempt to “[weaponise] Cheddar Man’s suspected dark skin… in order to attack the concept of whiteness”. I hesitantly question the author’s intelligence as, earlier in the piece, they accused the geneticist of using ‘technobabble’ by talking about “genomes and chromosomes (concepts that tend to be very specialist in nature, not accessible to your average person)”. Now, I haven’t actively pursued any scientific education since I dropped it as a subject after grade 10 in high school, but what the geneticist said is not exactly difficult to understand.
I digress, however, the above is a prolonged tangent for something I said was not important.
What I wished to bring up was Follin’s video response to Thorn’s video, because while Rowsell… tried? to tie some threads together to prove his point, Follin is the pinnacle of self-aggrandisement. Follin’s YouTube channel, called The Golden One, is described by him as “dedicated to how glorious and magnificent [he is]”. Part of the response video’s title is literally “The Golden One, Beloved By All”, and in most of his videos I clicked through he was quite fond of showcasing his bulging muscles. Makes the claims of humility and ‘humble opinions’ rather trite.
Follin starts by admitting that he did not even watch Thorn’s video and ‘guessing’ that Thorn probably just labelled him ‘this or that’. The next logical step is to take pity on a physically inferior man by comparing his psychology to that of a small dog that constantly barks loudly for attention and ‘assert dominance’ against ‘people like [him]’. Follin’s physical form must be good, because that was quite a leap. He then spends more than half the video saying people like him, making pop culture references, and imploring ‘open-minded’ newcomers to watch his videos because he has turned many a ‘leftist’, apparently. I watched a few, and I think I’m good thanks.
But what do physical characteristics have to do with the philosophical points and intellectual arguments one puts forward? The realm of ideas is not one commanded by strength but with intellect – and no, quoting Socrates here will not prove otherwise. Big muscles and blond hair do not intrigue me when your ideas are flawed or, in some cases, probably offensive to some due to your ignorance. Meanwhile, Thorn may not be physically intimidating, but does he have to be?
In the very video Follin did not watch, there is a character that is (spoilers, I guess) slowly revealed to be the Arsonist he alludes to, who is used to cleverly veil his (implied, not explicit) tendency towards fascism. The story and themes used in the video are brilliant, and much more fascinating (and intellectually stimulating) than watching a man trying to look physically imposing while ‘politely’ calling transgenderism a disease ‘we all want to get rid of’.
In a competition of ideas, how beautiful your physique is has no real bearing, and appears only to bring in an audience of men who chant about soy and demean anything that could even be partially considered ‘leftist’. This is not proof of having the greater argument but simply showing that you believe your argument is correct by virtue of the physical strength you have to enforce it, whether you would actually be violent in person or not. Noam Chomsky, for example, is admired by many as one of the great modern thinkers and has never (to my knowledge, seeing as he detests violence of all kinds) referred to physical intimidation to make his point known.
I see no correlation whatsoever between physical and intellectual attributes when it comes to the merit of one’s ideas. If your first thought is, however, to judge someone’s argument based on their physical appearance, then it might be you that needs to reconsider your position before engaging in an actual debate.
Previous piece: Education Should Be Free