The Intellectual Barbarians: How emotionally illiterate over-thinkers create their own Kaizo traps.



A Kaizo trap is something you find in some video games: you beat the big bad, but you still miscalculated or ignored something, and you still die at the end.

Like the old game Karateka. If the hero approaches the princess with an aggressive posture, she is going to kick his cojones and he dies.

The point is to be kind to the one you need to rescue, not be the same brute you were when you had to go up against kidnappers and murderers.

But that old game did something very instructive: it challenged a player’s TORTEE. The One Rule That Explains Everything doesn’t exist. The game made sure that you learned your hero’s manners. There is a fine line between a hero and a barbarian, and this was the game that made it amply clear where the line resided.

In order not to fall into a Kaizo Trap, players need to do something other than go through the motions of playing. It is not just rote; you need another element to resolve the problem.

Kaizo Traps in video games are rare.

But the ones in the real world are bountiful.

And in modern society, we have no shortage of people creating their own Kaizo Traps.

The Intellectual Barbarians.

How so?

Simple: while they are strictly focussed on intellectual intelligence, they ignore half of the landscape, meaning they are too emotionally illiterate to see the big picture.


We know a lot about intellectual logical fallacies, but almost nothing on emotional fallacies. This was made amply clear to me when I had cancer. Doctors and nurses quizzed me about all of the factors in my life that may have triggered it off. They asked if I was a drinker or smoker. They asked about family history. They became increasingly agitated when there was no a single checkmark they could scratch out because I did not fit the profile. I am not genetically predisposed to it. I am healthy. I never needed to see a doctor. I still don’t need any medication. I am not a drinker or smoker. I never did drugs. I am the most exciting boring person you’ll ever meet.

My jobs have never had me exposed to carcinogens. I eat healthy. I take vitamins and minerals. I look after my health and immune system.

So after going through that list, a doctor will sheepishly say, “Sometimes these things just happen.”

And I will say, “There is one thing not on the list that you forgot to ask me — has there been some traumatic stress in your life?”

Because there was.

And then immediately, the doctor will dismiss that.

Well, my mother had the same traumatic stress and she got cancer at the same time.

Still dismissed.

“There is no proof.”

There is no proof?

Of course there is scant proof. The studies are not devised in an emotionally literate way.

And I have never ever had a doctor ask me about any trauma in my medical history.

So, of course there isn’t proof: no one thought to define and measure it.

Get back to me when that is the standard question during the Cancer Quiz portion of the medical visit.

And the funny thing is, I will talk to people in the same waiting room, and an interesting percentage will bring up some trauma in their life that happened roughly two to three years prior to their diagnosis. A spouse died in a horrific way or there was a home invasion, or a child died.

They will rattle a list a tragedies, and then came the cancer, as if it were part of a long unlucky streak, never quite wondering if the trauma may have triggered the cancer.

You can’t find things if you don’t look or use the right mindset and tools to look for them.

It’s like anti-vaxxers ignoring the fact that when there is mass immunization, certain diseases are wiped out. As soon as people stop, they come roaring back.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis died in an asylum because he figured out that women were dying in childbirth because doctors never bothered to sterilize their hands, even after performing autopsies. Doctors thought he was insane and too emotional when he called hospitals murder dens.

He was right. The collective of intellectual barbarians were wrong.

Or once upon a time, people who had numb hands were thought to be mentally ill — until it was discovered it wasn’t “hysteria” but carpel tunnel syndrome.

Or when certain men had a succession of wives who died of cervical cancer were thought to be unlucky, not carriers of something that passed on something that triggered it, and now we have a vaccine to stop its spread.

A true scientific mind never dismisses anecdotal evidence or any evidence that does not fit a pattern. The first instinct should be to consider what it means — and then keep testing it to see if there is something new to be gleaned.

A pseudo scientific mind dismisses evidence, pushes people who challenge the status quo as being silly or intellectually inferior, and then reads the scripts and marches lockstep with that status quo.

If something doesn’t catch your eye or pique your curiosity, and you keep trying to explain away the exceptions to the rule as you cite flawed and crude irrelevant studies as if they were divine decree, you do not have a scientific mind.

You have a rote mind. You are not emotionally strong or literate enough to see there is a line of inquiry to explore.

I find it fascinating that we do not discuss traumatic stress. We know it can compel people to commit suicide or drop dead of a stroke and heart attack, but we don’t have traumatic shock specialists who could actually codify and quantify the physical impact of extreme emotional trauma.

And that is a shame, but considering that we have no formal educational structures to teach emotional literacy, we are always seeing half a picture, and always drawing the wrong conclusions.

And when you strictly stick to intellectualism, you are mimicking the thinking patterns of a psychopath.

That is what destroyed journalism. If you have no feel, you have no instincts and no internal measurements of the changes transpiring — and conspiring — around you. You live in a void vortex and facts can be no fortress unless you have the emotional literacy to know what it means.

In other words, you become half-stupid. Following a script and throwing tantrums is not going to salvage the plans of the half-stupid.

You can have you inner android honed, but unless your inner Neanderthal gets equal attention, your solutions will never work.

It is an internal — and eternal blind spot. The reason we have emotional illiteracy is that people are afraid, and then retreat and avoid the very things they must confront in order to solve the problem.

Intellectualism ranks and labels. It creates scales and pecking orders, sparking competitive thinking, and then those same intellectual barbarians become terrified of being seen as inferior; and hence, cannot see an obvious solution because it is standing behind the monster they fear the most — the one that psyches them out by taunting them that no matter how hard they study or what paper crowns they wear, they are stupid, deficient, and inferior.

And as long as they remain emotionally illiterate, the monster is right on the money.


Western thought is patriarchal, competitive, rote, and emotionally illiterate, and over the years, many obvious answers were ignored as the intellectual barbarians laughed and dismissed people who noticed healthy patients who had endoscopies were having problems because no one was sterilizing the equipment, spreading diseases, or that children living in certain toxic areas were all having a plethora of defects and diseases way above the national average. The people who first noticed it often weren’t scholars, doctors, or researchers — they were just people who were vigilant and noticed patterns, then started asking questions and challenged established narratives of Authority.

I remember when I was a psych student, I was taking a course in abnormal psychology, and we were going through (at that time) DSM-III-R, and we learned about alcohol withdrawal — what were the symptoms and indicators. Around the same time, a family friend developed a nasty cough and she was taking cough syrup. She was never a drinker, but as mom begged her to go to the hospital because the cough wasn’t going away, the dear friend stuck to over-the-counter syrup.

And then before anyone knew, she was in the ICU, having to be tied down. They told her husband to go buy a casket because it was over.

All of her symptoms screamed alcohol withdrawal, and I said this to the doctor who arrogantly dismissed me. Who had the medical degree? I did not back down — she must have had heart trouble, and the cough syrup had alcohol and she was having withdrawal symptoms.

Another doctor overheard me, and promised to look into that possibility. She made a speedy recovery, went home soon after with heart medication, and lived over a decade more after.

No, I did not have a medical degree. I didn’t need one. There was no medical mystery here as the first doctor implied. They can treat alcohol withdrawal and your heart at the same time.

My first family doctor could look you in the eye, shake your hand, and be 100% accurate in figuring out what was wrong with you. He would do all of the examinations, and tests, but he was always right. I learned from him as a little girl the importance of looking for quiet signs — but that takes feel.

You are not going to detect it staring at a computer screen or relying on AI because it takes more than input-output.

People are trying to eradicate emotions in intellectual thought. It doesn’t work. If you don’t hone your emotions, you miss everything that counts.

And you walk int an abyss hoping the numbness is a sign of intellectual victory as you don’t see that you have thrown yourself into emotional — and intellectual defeat…