January 7, 2010

Common Sense and IQ

Audacious Epigone has an important post looking at who has more common sense: people with high IQs or the masses. He uses the venerable General Social Survey, which since 1972 has been asking Americans questions like, "Is it ever okay for a policeman to strike a citizen?" He identifies 33 questions where he thinks that common sense suggests a pretty clear right answer. You'll probably disagree with him on a few items, but he's a very sensible person, so it's a good list.

Crucially, the GSS includes a 10 word vocabulary quiz, so Audacious can compare two groups (looking only at white people to take out the influence of race): the 5% who got all ten vocabulary questions right and the other 95%. A vocabulary quiz is by no means a perfect test of IQ, but it may well be the single best quick test (for native English speakers).

For example, 77% of the masses answered Yes to "Is it ever okay for a policeman to strike a citizen?" In contrast, 90% of those who got a perfect score on the vocabulary quiz said Yes.

My guess is that smarter people are, in general, able to rapidly think of more examples, and thus are more likely to think of a situation in which it would be okay for a policeman to strike somebody. We've all seen TV shows where somebody tries to grab one cop's gun and they grapple for it until the cop's partner smacks the bad guy with his night stick, preventing somebody from winding up dead. There's a positive correlation between scoring well on a vocabulary test and how rapidly and comprehensively you can access or invent examples to test rules.

Another factor is that people without excellent vocabularies tend to be hazier about the meaning of words. For example, lots of people might tend to conflate the word "citizen" with the common phrase "law-abiding citizen," and then reason: Why should a policeman strike a law-abiding citizen?

Whereas people with first-rate vocabularies have probably noticed that the phrase "law-abiding citizen" implies the existence of non-law-abiding citizens. (That's a big reason why vocabulary is often used in IQ tests, such as the Wechsler -- vocabulary tests draw upon not just memory, but also the logical power to draw distinctions between terms, as well as the ability to puzzle out meanings from context.)

Also, lower IQ people are more likely to have been struck by a policeman, so they are more likely to take the question personally.

Not all of these GSS questions are ideal tests of common sense. For example, whether you should agree or disagree with "Astrology is not scientific" (85% of smarties agree v. 71% off the masses) is not something most people can figure out for themselves. St. Augustine used the first recorded example of Twin Studies to debunk astrology by pointing out that, say, Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament were born under the same stars but had very different fates. But most people aren't St. Augustine.

For example, consider this possible question: "Is the belief that the tides are controlled from outer space scientific?" Well, obviously, common sense says that's just crazy talk. That's like astrology. The ocean is ruled from outer space? That's ridiculous. That's ... oh, wait ... never mind. (Galileo got it wrong, by the way, so don't feel bad.)

In that vein, here's another question: "Is the ancient belief that the human menstrual cycle of about 29 days is related to moon's cycle of 29 days scientific?" The theory is scientific in the sense that scientists have been arguing about it for as long as I can remember. Looking it up today on Wikipedia, it appears that the weight of evidence has lately been moving against the moon having a causal relationship and toward it being mere coincidence, but it doesn't appear to be settled by any means. So, common sense can't help much here.

Getting back on track, Audacious finds that out of 33 questions, high IQ people were more likely than the masses to be right (as he defines right) on 16 items, virtually equal on four, and more likely to be wrong on 13.

iSteve readers will not be surprised to learn that 12 of the 13 questions on which people with excellent vocabularies are more likely to be wrong than the average person involve our society's race and gender taboos:

Items for which the masses display more common
sense than the smarties do
SmartiesMasses
Average difference between the intelligence of whites and
of blacks, measured in standard deviations.
0.200.53
Genes play a major role in determining personality.20.7%24.8%
Things for blacks in the US have improved over time.51.1%64.5%
It is better for a man to work and a woman to take care
of home.
24.0%36.9%
Blacks do worse in life because of their innate inability to
learn as much as whites.
4.2%12.9%
There should be more women in the US military than
there currently are.
56.2%33.6%
Women should be assigned to military roles where
hand-to-hand combat is likely.
39.3%34.8%
Poor schools are an important reason why there are poor
people in the US.
81.8%72.5%
Whites are hurt by affirmative action policies that favor
blacks.
52.7%71.6%
It is a shame that traditional American literature is
ignored while other literature is promoted because it is
written by women or minorities.
57.4%70.7%
Increased immigration makes it more difficult to keep
the US united.
45.6%74.4%
Biological differences between men and women are
important in explaining why women are more likely to
take care of children than men are.
42.4%57.4%
Because of science and technology, there will be more
opportunities for future generations.
86.5%92.0%
So, the overall lesson is that a good vocabulary correlates with more common sense answers on random questions that aren't part of your society's status striving taboos.

The implications for public policy of this kind of educated stupidity, however, are dire.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

63 comments:

Mr Dubei is unfair said...

What really matters is one's life experiences and ability for empathy. People who live in bubbles or cocoons, no matter how intelligent, just don't know much.

It's like one doesn't know what it means to be burnt unless one is burnt.

sabril said...

Perhaps on PC issues, common sense is telling the smarties to lie.

They should do the survey on two groups of people, one of which is given a greater feeling of anonymity.

Dennis Mangan said...

Also, lower IQ people are more likely to have been struck by a policeman, so they are more likely to take the question personally.

Quote of the day.

Ivy League Bastard said...

Nice posting, Steve.

Education generates a correlation between (not too far) above average IQ and indoctrination.

Your historical examples are off, though. The tides, both intuitively and when measured carefully enough to see all their day-to-day fluctuations, are noticeably better (and more deterministically) synchronized with the earth/moon/sun daily cycle, than women's menstrual cycles are to the luna(tic) phase.

Anonymous said...

Sabril makes a good point.

Also, would this list look similar if we grouped the 8s through 10s together? It seems haphazard to look at 10s vs. everyone else.

Furthermore, we need a better distribution of subjects in order to know whether smarties are actually more rational than other folks. One could argue though that the percentage of questions analyzed regarding racial and gender matters is just right considering how large an effect those matters have on society. I wouldn't argue that though. There are a host of vastly important subjects relating to health, longevity, happiness, family, drugs, capitalism, government, etc that are just as importantant as racial matters and would have liked to see such questions and answered tossed into the analysis.

Finally, I'm always concerned about the fact that a great deal of highly intelligent people wouldn't be able to answer such questions at all on account of the fact that the true answer for almost every single question is "it depends" coupled with "I don't know for sure" and a myriad of other qualifying whines and requests to please be excused mister census man.

I mean... "Because of science and technology, there will be more
opportunities for future generations."

Opportunities for what? To opt out of cyborg society and live a simpler, more human life. No. To play play World of Warcraft XXIV. Yes.

mnuez

Anonymous said...

That first question isn't a question.

Ivy League Bastard said...

By the way, if astrology simply means "identifiable effects of birth month", it would be surprising if this did NOT have an effect comparable to (e.g.) latitude or coastal distance, given that it affects basic environmental factors such as the average temperature and weather and food availability in a child's earliest years. A six month difference in the ages at which a baby encounters winter, could make quite a difference.

This again is a question where middling smarts will increase the chances of the "correct" answer and higher smarts will decrease one's confidence in that answer.

Gribble said...

OT, but i was just reading VDare, and there was an announcement by Jared Taylor for the Amren Conference next month.

Taylor mentioned that David Yeagley is going to be there. What's the deal with Yeagley, anyway? He's supposed to be all Commanche and everything, but everything he writes is about how great the White Man is or something. I'm a White guy, and I don't mind praises coming our way, but Yeagley's writings seem like a big parody or joke or something.

Anonymous said...

Its political correctness that makes people stupid.

Vernunft said...

"if astrology simply means 'identifiable effects of birth month'"

It doesn't.

Happy to help.[/commonsensed]

Jack said...

Wow,smart people ARE dumb. I bet the smart women are especially deluded.

David said...

I also agree with Sabril. The real question isn't what they say they believe, but what they act like they believe. Said smarties are getting their kids away from NAMs and the consequences of massive immigration at every opportunity. My favorite are the ones that are atheists but send their kids to religious schools instead of the local public ones :-) Their actions are so loud I can't hear their voices.
Truth be told, it is the SWPL that acts like he believes precisely as I do but attempts to ostracize me for being honest about it that I really hate. I don't hate the NAM for doing what is in the NAM's collective interest.

she appeared on the parking lot said...

We would get better results if smarties, middlies, and dummies all grew up in the same environment. But, we know that smart people live and develop in different environments than most people. So, their more PC answers could be the result of indoctrination than high intelligence.

Besides, not-so-smart offsprings of rich people get good tutoring and sometimes go to good schools while some very smart people drop out and live among the masses. It could be that smarties who live amongst the masses tend to be less PC than not-so-smarties who live in the affluent world.

I wonder what the results of the common sense test would be between affluent dummies and poor dummies; between affluent smarties and poor smarties; rich dummies and poor smarties.

As US is a meritocracy, most smart people probably rise to the top while the bottom really is teeming with dummies.

How about comparing answers of rich smart Jews and relatively poorer smart Russian Jews who just arrived in the US.

Anonymous said...

Questions like this can't be answered. Common sense is too elusive a concept to be reduced to some numerical score, let alone to some either have it or don't dichotomy. People are a combination of traits that exist in varying amounts, having strengths and weaknesses. As long as people stay within the range of their capabilities all is well; it's just when people overestimate themselves that problems ensue. The worst combination, I imagine, is a dumb egotist with no common sense whatsoever. How many here know someone like this,raise your hand. How many know two or more? How many of you would be willing to admit having had a girlfriend or boyfriend in the past like this, please stand up now.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Sorry if this at first seems at OT, but this story touches all bases--high IQ versus common sense, PC, HBD, the whole thing. I am hoping you cover it. Unfortunately , the 9th Circuit strikes again.


--from the Seattle Times,

"Washington state felons should have voting rights, federal court rules"
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010708869_felons06m.html

Yes, by a 2-1 margin, the loons decided that the law prohibiting felons from voting "violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising minority voters."


The article goes on to say,
"The two-judge majority apparently was persuaded by the plaintiffs' argument that reams of social-science data filed in the case showed minorities in Washington are stopped, arrested and convicted in such disproportionate rates that the ban on voting by incarcerated felons is inherently discriminatory."

Uh, there's that silly ole problem we have again--the refusal to understand that maybe some groups really do behave more anti-socially, more violently than others.

It also pisses me off that our system allows a panel of only three judges to decide something like this.

The Wash AG announced he will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. I'll bet Scalia's head just wants to explode.

Anonymous said...

"Created stupidity"


That is the gross domestic product of many classrooms, and where Gladwell gets many of his readers--who went to college and lost whatever common sense they had.

Marlo said...

"iSteve readers will not be surprised to learn that 12 of the 13 questions on which people with excellent vocabularies are more likely to be wrong than the average person involve our society's race and gender taboos"

But wrong according to who? Nearly all of the questions are subjective. Do any of them have a single, definite answer?

"Quote of the day."

I agree, that was funny.

JoeShipman said...

Why do you consider "Poor schools are an important reason why there are poor people in the US" to be a statement counter to common sense? It would be counter to common sense if the statement had said "the most important reason", but "an important reason" is very different from that.

Greg "Brown" Johnson said...

I know you focus mainly on movies, but what's your take on the latest NBC/Leno/Conan kefluffle?

Looks like they're putting Leno back. Personally, I can't stand Leno, but it seems like the old people really love him or something.

I wonder what Whiskey's take on it is.

Steve Sailer said...

Jay Leno is like Bob Hope, the rare kind of workaholic comic without a depressive streak. The self-destructive ones like Lenny Bruce and Dave Chapelle are more interesting to wax nostalgic over, but you don't want to hand the Tonight Show over to one.

It's kind of odd how interviewing has gotten worse over the years -- Carson made his guests better, but both Leno and Letterman seem uncomfortable with asking questions, even as the range of guests has narrowed.

Anonymous said...

White aggrievement and resentment is strong here.

Very strong.

blue anon said...

Naturally, the questions are subjective and some are a bit imponderable.

But one can still answer them. In each case yes is more true than no, or the opposite.

Ivy League Bastard said...

somebuddy sez:

>"if astrology simply means >'identifiable effects of birth month'"
>
>It doesn't.
>
>Happy to help.[/commonsensed]
>

Misunderstanding a correct higher-order cognitive process (e.g., noticing vindicating interpretations of the word "astrology") as a failed lower-level process (e.g., not knowing the ordinary usage of "astrology") is precisely what I predicted in the comments above. [/IQed]

Excessive IQ can of course be a negative on SATs and other tests of moderately high IQ, due to over-attention to interpretations missed by the test writers.

Dennis Dale said...

White aggrievement and resentment is strong here.

Very strong.


I too sense a strong evil presence, Kimosabe. But it's not as strong as my Wu Tang style [cue clanging sword sample].

M.A. said...

Steve , has the president called and asked your advice adout the crisis
in Yemen?

l said...

According to Czeslaw Milosz ('The Captive Mind'), intellectuals behind the Iron Curtain would have spirited debates about this or that party policy, but they mostly accepted Marxist Theory as manifestly true.
For the average slob on the collective farm, Marxism was b.s. and the intelligenstia were pinheads.

Natalie said...

"Astrology is not scientific" is a question about a system of belief, astroLOGY.

"The tides are controlled from outer space is a scientific belief" is not at all the same type of question. It is only a scientific belief if arrived at through science. The fact that it is a correct belief isn't relevant since that is not what is being asked. It is a wrong question.

Henry Canaday said...

In other words, our society is being governed, taught and managed by people who are, concerning certain essential aspects of human nature, systemically dumber than the people they govern, teach and manage. Oh joy.

Systemically? Where have we heard that word before? Oh yes, the financial collapse of 2008 was said to be due to systemic risks.

Dahinda said...

"All professional philosophers tend to assume that common sense means the mental habit of the common man. Nothing could be further from the mark. The common man is chiefly to be distinguished by his plentiful lack of common sense: he believes things on evidence that is too scanty, or that distorts the plain facts, or that is full of non sequiturs. Common sense really involves making full use of all the demonstrable evidence—and of nothing but the demonstrable evidence."

H.L. Mencken, Minority Report 1956

Anonymous said...

White aggrievement and resentment is strong here.



But is the aggrievement and resentment appropriate and founded on a rational basis?

There's nothing wrong with aggrievement and resentment per se. America was founded on aggrievement with and resentment of British rule. Jews should feel aggrievement and resentment towards Nazis. And so on.

Anonymous said...

As US is a meritocracy, most smart people probably rise to the top while the bottom really is teeming with dummies.




Americans like to tell themselves this. I don't see any evidence that it's actually true though. I give you the United States Congress and President Obama as Exhibits A and B.

China, for instance, seems to be run by far more intelligent people.

Part of the problem is that people in HBD-land don't measure intelligence by real world results. They prefer to believe that the people running the show are smart by definition, regardless of how stupid and destructive their actions are.

Anonymous said...

TO be quite honest I think the strange tendency for the educated and rich to vote Democratic, doesn't happen in the UK where its the other way round, is due to the far left brainwashing you get at US universities.
My brother comes from a very conservative family but having done a MSc and studying for a PHD in the US he now has very far left opinions. His colleagues who go mainly into the UN have the same mentality or is that just globalist self interest at play?

KingM said...

One has to at least ask the question, "What if we're the ones who are wrong about HBD-related questions?" After all, our intellectual peers are more likely to be right about other common sense issues, so why would they be wrong about this subject?

I try to ask myself this sort of question whenever difficult to answer questions with big consequences (HBD, Peak Oil, AGW) arise. At the very least, it helps me be more aware of my own biases.

Gene Berman said...

David:

"I don't hate the NAM for doing what's in the NAM's collective interest."

You've really said a mouthful there with so many undertones that it deserves much more attention, being, as it is, a synposized version of a very great portion of "what's wrong" with people (or "people in general").

Though it's only my guess, I'm inclined to think that you believe (as do I) that, on very many issues, what seems to many NAMs as "in their collective interest" are policies that are, in only the slightly longer run, actually detrimental to those interests (or what we might term "their rightly-understood interests").

The best (and most widely applicable) example is in their near-lockstep endorsement and alignment with forces mandating redistributive policies, i.e., socialism. "Austrian School" economists, for the better part of a century, have offered powerful (logically irrefutable, actually) theoretical support for the material superiority (in "delivering the goods" to all sectors of society not irrevocably committed to living on the proceeds of despoliation) and which theories are, in no known instance, counteracted or thrown in doubt by experience (mainstream economists' "empirical evidence").
SCIENCE tells us (emphatically) that nearly all do better when production (and exchange) relations are free of the myriad interferences with which we've grown so accustomed.

The problems cannot (fairly or even mainly) be laid exclusively on NAM preoccupation with short-term or collective interests; in this wise, they're merely a somewhat accentuated version of the entire polity. What else might we expect from a well- below-average-intelligence group where the entirety, including many at the very top (cognitively) favor the redistributive model to one great degree or another? (My personal estimate is that a minimum of 75% of the population is somewhat strongly persuaded--again, against all reason or evidence--of the desirability of significant socialism (including redistributionism). If these were educable, you wouldn't have to worry about NAMS; on the other hand, if these aren't educable, there's hardly any point in worrying about NAMS (except in a personal, physical safety sense).

If I had answers, I'd tell 'em--but I don't. I can't shake a general, hopeful optimism but that may be just a crutch to help get out of bed in the morning (or, maybe, is just the "default setting" for our species).

Le Mur said...

Obviously the propaganda from the MSM and universities is working.

"One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool." -- G. Orwell

Le Mur said...

Misunderstanding a correct higher-order cognitive process (e.g., noticing vindicating interpretations of the word "astrology")

Making up your own personal definition of "astrology" isn't a very impressive example of a higher-order cognitive process.

The Bear said...

Steve, you've got the best blog on the internet. There's such a vast range of topics covered here you even managed to discuss the only topic this ol' redneck knows more about than you -- college football.

'Bama wins the national title last night with only 263 total yards of offense, thanks to its defense knocking out the UT quarterback on the first series of the game. The defensive players in the Southeastern Conference are so fast and physical, meaningfully comparing offensive stats in college football is impossible.

RandyB said...

Another example of how modern liberalism is defined by its assault on average Americans from both above and below. The poor and stupid want money (jobs and redistribution) from productive citizens; and the wealthy and smart want to help them get it.

Simon said...

The high-IQ types, being smarter, are more aware of the taboos and more likely to answer accordingly.

Simples.

Svigor said...

But wrong according to who? Nearly all of the questions are subjective. Do any of them have a single, definite answer?

Indeed. Was there a control for people who believe "worse is better"?

Moralist said...

Re: Leno

Leno's success isn't so much attributable to the factors you mention in this thread, Steve, but to that which you've called attention to in the past: Leno's jokes require less intelligence to understand, particularly that kind of intelligence that SWPLs tend to have more of.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your comment about Carson, Steve.

Actually, I think Carson, toward the last eight or so years of his late night career, showed evidence of his depressive nature. He became increasingly mean-spirited ala Letterman. Previous to that, his schtick hadn't been known for that. In his private life, he'd always been a moody introvert, a suspicious sort, and, if reports are to be believed, very self-centered. Add to that his drinking.

Anonymous said...

I rarely watch late nite TV, but if I do, I stop after the opening monologue and comedy bits. The guests are boring and the interview questions even worse.

she once lived at van doren said...

"Another factor is that people without excellent vocabularies tend to be hazier about the meaning of words."

I would say dumb people are hazy about the meaning of words unintentionally while smart people are hazy about the meaning of words intentionally. Dumb people woefully misunderstand whereas smart people willfully misinterpret. Thus, Bill Clinton's "What is the meaning of 'is'?" Or, consider all those lawyers who twist and turn the meaning of words and phrases to squeeze brilliant but bogus meanings out of them. Or, all those brilliant liberal legal scholars who make a creative mockery out of the Constitution to argue for affirmative action, open borders, 'gay marriage', etc.

And notice how 'racism' has come to mean racial superioritism or racial hatred when it should only mean belief in the existence of races. Or, notice how discrimination against whites goes by 'affirmative action', something positive and glowing. Consider how the multiple meaning of 'terrorism' has been used to justify wars against nations that didn't attack the US.
Or, notice how 'gay marriage' has been changed to 'same sex marriage' as if to make it sound more mainstream. 'Gay marriage' sounds like it's ONLY for gays whereas 'same sex marriage' sounds open to ALL people. But, who but gays would marry people of the same sex?

Creative semantics is a proud tradition of smarties. They are so enamoured of their own brilliance that they favor their ability to toy with reality than reality itself. For really smart people, clarity in meaning is lame and square--like representational painting is to modernists.

The only people who care about and appreciate clarity in meaning are the middlies. They are smart enough to distinguish fact from fiction but not smart enough for creative mental tricks and exercises. Thus, there are two kinds of haziness in meanings: among dummies who can't grasp the meaning and among smarties who wanna go BEYOND meaning via narcissistic and devious brilliance. What is 'is' indeed.

albertosaurus said...

One of my services to humanity has been to instantly raise the IQs of my friends.

Your discussion of vocabulary and IQ helps explain how I can do this nifty trick.

There are two types of IQ test - group and individual. The classic examples are the WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale) and the Stanford-Binet respectively.

The Stanford-Binet also has a vocabulary sub-test and it is recommended to practitioners when time is short. The word list is arranged in order of increasing difficulty. So while everyone knows the first words on the list some of those at the end are rather obscure.

So one can do a very fast IQ test on someone by determining if they know the last word on the list.

That word is limpet.

Californians especially those near Stanford University are quite familiar with limpets. This is a sort of home team advantage. In any case now that you have googled limpet you are smarter. Or is my logic faulty?

Anonymous said...

Felons voting, huh? Combined with massive numbers of busily reproducing Hispanic immigrants loaded onto the voter rolls, it shouldn't be long before the voting power of whites is sufficiently impotent that the Constitution will be rewritten by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Bobbie Rush.

albertosaurus said...

I am reminded that Bertrand Russell once said that common sense is that which informs us that the world is flat.

Sideways said...

Why do you consider "Poor schools are an important reason why there are poor people in the US" to be a statement counter to common sense? It would be counter to common sense if the statement had said "the most important reason", but "an important reason" is very different from that.

well, poor schools are a factor in who winds up poor, but have little to do with the existence of income inequality society-wide. Good schools wouldn't make everyone rich

Anonymous said...

"albertosaurus said...
I am reminded that Bertrand Russell once said that common sense is that which informs us that the world is flat."



Bertrand Russell was wrong about many things, and that was just another one of them. Anybody who has been on a mountain near the sea can see the curvature of the earth on the horizon. The existence of half-moons, quarter moons, and every lunar phase that shows the earth's shadow over the moon informed people in the past that the earth simply must be round. There are several large mountains from the tops of which a curvature of the horizon can be discerned. Betrand Russell was a people-hater. Paul Johnson's book, "The Intellectuals" drew a pretty mean potrait of the guy.


"anti-knowledge"

"cultural disinformation"

Two more good names for what is taught these days.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, since common sense doesn't appear to be so common, we should quit using it. Replace it with terms like "pragmatic intelligence" or "proletarian empiricism".

JudgeStone said...

I seriously doubt that only .5% of the general population understands the IQ/race gap. People I speak to are actually rather sympathetic to the idea, if presented diplomatically.

JudgeStone said...

KingM:

"We're" not wrong about anything; nor are we right about anything. Make up your own mind.

AGW is an obvious fraud.
The IQ gap exists, and there is a mountain of evidence that points to a significant genetic component. The evidence to the contrary consists largely of wishful thinking, with a scrap of mildly intriguing scientific findings here and there.

Women and men are different.

The list goes on.

albertosaurus said...

Let me remind iSteve readers once more that there is no longer any excuse for spelling errors. The Google tool bar spell checks the comment input box.

Gene Berman said...

she once lived at van doren said:

Your example (of brilliant but misleading word-usage) is a complete botch job (regardless the basic truth of your general assertion) . First, because (though using quotation marks) you've misquoted Clinton, whose actual statement was more like "it all depends on what your meaning of "is" is." Though this may sound weasel-wordy, it's a perfectly-phrased (and worded) and straightforward explanation of the situation to which it referred (which I'll describe following) and couldn't be more truthful or appropriate. In this case, it's Clinton who's coming down on the side of unequivocal language (by pointing out the existence of potentially misleading dual interpretations of the word "is.")

In the legal proceeding (and I forget which one), the prosecuting attorney (I remember the name Butterfield but could be in error.) asked Clinton the following question: "Is there a sexual relationship between you and Ms. Lewinski?" At that point, Clinton had no possible way to answer that question which might not lead either to a conviction or to a further charge of perjury. It was a question of the very same type as "Are you still beating your wife?" though the prosecutor had, apparently, uttered it out of his own less-than-stellar ability to handle the language (rather than as a result of malevolence).

At that point, in a strict sense, there was no "sexual relationship" between the two--it having, effectively, been ended with the exposure of its suspected existence. In a technical (language) sense, Clinton should be "home free" by simply answering "No." But that wasn't good enough for him, in either a political or legal sense: charges could always be brought, however misdirected AND many might conclude, however "correctly" he had answered, that he had intentionally misled the jury. The prosecutor botched his questioning completely, there being at least a half-dozen ways in which the question could have been asked without leaving its answer open to
misinterpretation (Have you ever...etc?). And, although Clinton had to suffer some unease over the wording of the question, it was almost what he might have prayed for (or written for himself to be asked)--a question he could answer truthfully without actually answering at all.

Anonymous said...

"Part of the problem is that people in HBD-land don't measure intelligence by real world results. They prefer to believe that the people running the show are smart by definition, regardless of how stupid and destructive their actions are."

Yep. Witness the wise decisions of those "smart" people who sit on the bench, like those of the 8th Circuit...or the Ruth Bader Ginsburg sorts on SCOTUS.

Anonymous said...

Correction--meant to type "like those of the 9th Circuit" not the ""8th Circuit."

she walked gently said...

Me thinks Clinton frequents this site as 'Gene Berman' or is it Gene Vermin?

I dunno, the question sounds pretty simple to me. But, Clinton and people with name like "Berman" wanna play lawyer. They didn't call him slick willy for nuttin.

Reg C├Žsar said...

For example, whether you should agree or disagree with “Astrology is not scientific” (85% of smarties agree v. 71% off the masses) is not something most people can figure out for themselves. St. Augustine used the first recorded example of Twin Studies to debunk astrology...

To "debunk" something is to show that it is not true, not that it is not science. Steven Goldberg argued that astrology, while false and easily disproved, nevertheless qualifies as science.

Vernunft said...

"Misunderstanding a correct higher-order cognitive process (e.g., noticing vindicating interpretations of the word 'astrology') as a failed lower-level process (e.g., not knowing the ordinary usage of 'astrology') is precisely what I predicted in the comments above."

–noun
1. the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs.

Brown or Cornell? Can't be Princeton, Harvard, or Yale. They have standards.

sabril said...

"AGW is an obvious fraud."

I basically agree with this, but it takes more than common sense to come to that conclusion.

On the other hand, anyone who has an ounce of common sense and real world experience and does not deceive themself about things knows full well that black people are a lot stupider than whites and that the difference is in large part due to genetics.

"One has to at least ask the question, 'What if we're the ones who are wrong about HBD-related questions?'"

I agree that there is some sense in questionning one's own beliefs. One way to do it is to ask oneself what evidence would change one's mind.

With global warming, I would change my mind if these fancy climate models made a large number of specific and interesting predictions which came true.

With the racial intelligence gap, I would change my mind if a representative and significant sample of blacks had their IQs raised to white levels sustainably and repeatably through some intervention.

Jack Burton said...

The responses to that last question are exactly backwards. Science and technology will open up more opportunities for the top 5%, but everybody else's job is going to be done by a machine.

Mr. Anon said...

"sabril said...

"AGW is an obvious fraud."

I basically agree with this, but it takes more than common sense to come to that conclusion."

You are quite right. A lot of people seem to disbelieve AGW, because the non-AGW world is the one they want to believe in. But AGW is right or wrong based on the evidence, not on ones ideology.

""One has to at least ask the question, 'What if we're the ones who are wrong about HBD-related questions?'""

"I agree that there is some sense in questionning one's own beliefs. One way to do it is to ask oneself what evidence would change one's mind."

I agree, but my answer would be that I spent roughly the first 40 years of my life questioning HBD - in fact, I did more than question it, I rejected it - because that was the only answer allowed by society. My arrival at the conclusion that HBD is true is the result of having lived the better part of my life and having paid attention to what I've seen.

David said...

> "Is there a sexual relationship between you and Ms. Lewinski?" At that point, Clinton had no possible way to answer that question which might not lead either to a conviction or to a further charge of perjury. [...] it's Clinton who's coming down on the side of unequivocal language <

Coming down squarely on the side of unequivocal language would be Bill's having answered with some form of: "We no longer have a sexual relationship, but we had one in the past." That clears the matter up *unequivocally* (synonyms: clearly, pellucidly, straightforwardly). An artful dodging of justice isn't an example of excellence in either language or thought; it is a corruption of both.