A quick data mining search could give us a rough idea where most people are at in the hierarchy, but the caste system, like a system of courts needs to judge people with a very high degree of accuracy to preserve the system’s legitimacy.
A lot of busywork could be eliminated with easy disqualifiers but this frees up greater effort for the rest.
For the next step, maybe a test or evaluation of some kind would be required. The goal might be to look for key indicators of someone’s psychology in a way that would be hard to fake. Or perhaps even start testing people when they are children and continue to test periodically. In this process we would look for accurate constants that could improve the data mining algorithm.
Tests would need to be focused more in determining how someone thinks as opposed to memorized knowledge in itself.
Perhaps some raven’s style matrices could be thrown in like on an IQ test or reading comprehension/analogies to get an idea of spatial and verbal reasoning but more important might be simply asking someone’s opinion.
The idea wouldn’t be to screen people based on what they believe, but to examine why they believe it. If someone explains they believe in invisible unicorns because of lack of falsifiability principle, however specious this may be we already know this isn’t someone from the lowest tiers.
-Simple people tend to hold beliefs for simple reasons. The USSR is bad because the Russians are the bad guys.
-Middle people have an idea of a conflict between communism and capitalism and will be able to explain the differences in basic detail, something along the lines of free enterprise against collective control. They can tell us why one is bad and why the other is good but their reasons will mostly be the official propaganda without too much thought behind it. If you ask them to explain what “free enterprise” actually means they begin to stumble.
-Upper Middle can delve into more nuance regarding why a communist ideology that sounds good in theory doesn’t work with human nature and begin to simultaneously examine the flaws inherent in capitalism as well. However, they are quite content that capitalism is at once the least of evils and the best of possible solutions. They are not too interested in exploring further.
-Above that level someone might dissect the weaknesses in both systems and ask what a better alternative might look like. They might be willing to entertain the idea that communism suffered from being too extreme and that perhaps certain forms of socialism have applied Marxist principles more successfully and might in fact be more effective in the long run than a free market system with minimal controls that allows corporations to run rampant. This person has a mind that can place themselves on both sides of the issue and toy with different solutions from a detached perspective.
-Simple people believe what they’re told because they were told it and everyone else believes it.
-Middle people believe what they’re told because it seems to make sense in their daily life and everyone else believes it.
-Upper middle believe what they’re told because it seems to make sense in a larger context, seems better than what anyone else has come up with, and because everyone important believes it.
-Above that level, people examine what they’re told in depth and come up with their own ideas if it doesn’t check out. Or if it’s generally valid but just sub-optimal, they still ponder better solutions. They don’t really care what others believe for its own sake. They know full well most people believe what they’re told or at least they rationalize belief in what gets them laid and employed.
I figure just getting an idea of how someone thinks would be hard to fake. Even if someone memorized what to say about one topic, they would be lost if the subject were to change. I figure like confucian East Asia, people would send their kids to cram academies to learn how to think, or at least how to talk like a higher person.
My experience tells me though that there’s only so much that can be learned. And if the highest ideal is what every ordinary person strove for, that would be the mark of a healthy and vigorous social order.
Results could be cross-checked against data mining information and if there’s an unusual or unlikely patterns, the bureau of caste standards might have auditors it could send out to take a closer look.
It occurs to me that once people knew there was a data mining algorithm and a testing system, people would constantly try to game the system. An auditor might try to figure out if someone just memorized what to say on several topics and changed their purchase history to reflect tastes they don’t actually have in a bid to “get ahead.” “Speeding tickets” for caste fraud would disincentivize trying to cheat because there’s nothing to lose by trying and drastically reduce auditors’ caseloads to manageable levels. The biggest deterrent of course is most people simply wouldn’t find life beyond their rightful caste attractive.
Ultimately, though, the people on top must really be smarter than those below or else they will fail at preserving the legitimacy and integrity of the system.