October 1, 2011

J.Q. Wilson on S. Pinker

In the WSJ, James Q. Wilson reviews Steven Pinker's upcoming The Better Angels of Our Nature: On the Decline of Violence. Wilson gives it a thumbs up, but reminds Pinker not to forget his Sailerisms. :
Alas, when Mr. Pinker departs from his customary close attention to facts, he writes some strange things. ... Mr. Pinker dislikes Mr. Bush because he is "unintellectual." In fact, Mr. Bush never took an IQ test, but he did take the SAT and the armed-forces qualification test. Converting those scores to IQ, Mr. Bush turns out to be brighter than Mr. Kerry, whom Mr. Pinker admires though he got lower grades in college than did Mr. Bush. [Links added.]

When discussing the IQs of American Presidents (Kennedy was smarter than Nixon? Really? That news would have come as a surprise to Joe Kennedy Sr., who paid a lot of money to Ted Sorensen to ghostwrite Profiles in Courage for his son, and to Pulitzer juror Arthur Krock), Pinker can sound a bit Canadian.

Here's Pinker's summary of his argument, with lots of graphs.

156 comments:

FredR said...

You've read the book, right? So can you explain to me if Pinker's "civilizing process" theory has any more evidence to support than the genetic explanation which seems to be dismissed out of hand?

Whiskey said...

Pinker is in great error, in several areas.

First, he assumes that "commerce makes conflict obsolete" a phrase heard often in 1913 and 1938. Tremendous amounts of trade between France and Germany, and Germany and the UK, did not prevent conflict. Nor the US-Japanese trade prevent conflict there.

So strike one, Pinker is in error.

Pinker ignores the RISING amount of conflict in third world failed peoples: Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, and the knowledge that the only way these peoples will advance in income, wealth, and prosperity is by ... conquering violently other peoples.

Strike Two.

Pinker ignores that Pax Americana/Sovieticus, the duopoly that prevented things from spinning out of hand in fear of global nuclear war, i.e. Suez being capped, so too Kim Il Sung's adventures in Korea not extended to Japan. Now with the collapse we have regional and small war rivalries heating up.

Also, the obnoxious nexus between "Civil Rights" (which means enhanced status for non-Whites in the West and degraded status for Whites in the West) and mass immigration has brought violence, though hidden/suppressed, right into a West that is ill-prepared to handle it.

Muslims in Europe conduct a daily campaign of violence against Natives, who cannot because of the Law and Culture fight back; Mexico is ultra-violent due to the drug cartels and government collapse, spreading into the US.

Pinker is so obviously wrong, its pathetic.

RKU said...

I think the flaw in Pinker's analysis is that he's trying to fit a smooth curve to some very lumpy/choppy historical data.

Suppose Pinker had been writing in the early 1900s. The century between 1815 and 1914 had seen some European wars, but the casualties had been tiny, and almost totally confined to soldiers. That was one of the main reasons so many optimistic Victorians believed that a permanent state of peace or at least of limited, quick wars had emerged. Yet within the next decade, many, many millions had been killed, and the stage had been set for the deaths of tens of millions more. In fact, if you start the 19th Century in 1815 and exclude the one-off Taiping Rebellion, I'd think the 1800s may have been among history's most peaceful in terms of violent deaths.

Similarly, things worldwide have been relatively peaceful since WWII, with only twenty or thirty million people killed in wars and massacres, plus maybe another thirty million starving in Mao's very stupid Great Leap Forward. But given nuclear weapons and a single miscalculation, and that total could easily have been an order of magnitude or so higher. Furthermore, since so many of the Third World countries these days are so heavily over-populated and so totally dependent upon outside food or technology to survive, a single major international disruption could easily cause the deaths of a billion or more people, easily throwing off Pinker's smoothly declining curve.

The whole analysis strikes me as being very similar to the "This Time Is Different" analysis of American housing prices just before the collapse of the Bubble. I don't doubt that the general trend has been downward, but I think that trend is far more precarious and fragile than Pinker admits.

RA said...

It's sad that someone as brilliant as Wilson feels the need to defend that moron Bush.

Yes, according to his SAT score Bush was at the 95th percentile of IQ. But that's still pretty stupid for a president or a member of the elite. Add in how uncurious Bush is, and we can see that calling him an idiot is appropriate.

RKU said...

One further point. Until the development of modern medicine in the late 19th Century, the vast majority of all deaths in wartime were always due to disease, and the same probably applied to a considerable fraction of peacetime killings. Injuries were very often fatal. So comparing violent deaths in 1800 let alone 1300 with those in 1950 is a little tricky and ambiguous.

Anonymous said...

The Nixon v. Kennedy IQ comparison does make me believe that Emotional Intelligence cannot be discounted. Kennedy was bright but far more socially savvy than Nixon. Now, of course, learning social graces at the Court of St. James, and at dinner parties in Cambridge, Palo Alto, and Palm Beach clearly gave Kennedy a sense of belonging to the ruling class, and the self-confidence of having money. So, although Nixon might have been able to process data quicker than JFK, his fractured psyche was a handicap in 1960 and 1973-4. A corollary to all the A students who work for B average Stanford MBAs.

Hail said...

Considering his alcoholism and use of cocaine in his 20s/30s, I'd presume he lost a bit of brainpower.

His IQ during his public life in the 1990s/2000s was probably lower than it was at age 17, when he took SAT.

airtommy said...

James Q. Wilson disagrees that Bush is "unintellectual" and then proceeds to support his case with evidence of Bush's intelligence. That's very sloppy and you know better than to cite this.

Bush is fairly intelligent but completely unintellectual. It has been well documented that he hates reading, learning, and thinking.

Ray Sawhill said...

Wilson's often great, but mixing up "intellectual" and "intelligent" is either careless or devious. I've run into a lot of stupid intellectuals, as well as a lot of intelligent nonintellectuals. "Intellectual" is just a temperament, it's got nothing (or not much, anyway) to do with actual brainpower.

james said...

Unfortunately, the rest of Wilson's paragraph is neocon nonsense.

George W. Bush "infamously" supported torture

Is he saying that Bush didn't support torture, or only that this support wasn't "infamous"?

John Kerry was right to think of terrorism as a "nuisance"

Better than thinking of terrorism as something that needs endless war, and terrorism from our side, to combat.


"Palestinian activist groups" have disavowed violence and now work at building a "competent government."

Funny that nobody's asking Israel to "disavow violence."


Iran will never use its nuclear weapons.

It's obviously the first thing they'll do with them, because everyone knows Iran wants a retaliatory nuclear strike. Who wouldn't?

Anonymous said...

RA said:


It's sad that someone as brilliant as Wilson feels the need to defend that moron Bush.

Yes, according to his SAT score Bush was at the 95th percentile of IQ. But that's still pretty stupid for a president or a member of the elite. Add in how uncurious Bush is, and we can see that calling him an idiot is appropriate.


I'm not so sure being at the 95th percentile of IQ is "still pretty stupid" for a president, or a "member of the elite," for that matter. Of course, for someone who buys into the idea that our elite class represents a pure meritocracy, RA's remark would not appear as unintentionally hilarious as it does for the rest of us.

It's actually not "sad" that Wilson pointed out Bush's (slightly) better numbers over Kerry. Pinker thinks Bush is "unintellectual" and RA thinks he is "uncurious." I think Bush's overall record is nothing to write home about, and I certainly agree that Bush is non-intellectual. As to him being incurious, the observation may or may not have merit, but it is rapidly approaching the status of a "code word." The (largely repetitive) criticisms are, at this point, more indicative of the commenter's lack of originality than the former president's lack of curiosity.

RWF said...

I can understand why someone would believe Kerry was smarter than Bush, but thinking a vapid male model like JFK was smartert than Nixon seems bizarre.

Nanonymous said...

I am simple-minded and like simple explanations. Better policing is #1. It is very plausible that it then causes #2, consistent genetic selection. That's about all one needs to explain the existing data.

gcochran said...

"careless or devious"


Devious. I've seen him do it before.

anony-mouse said...

In 1970 Arthur Krock received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Nixon.

Not a likely event if Nixon had thought Krock had received money from Joe Kennedy to get John Kennedy his Pulitzer.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Krock

epobirs said...

What is notable is that Bush is treated as a moron (the claim he doesn't read is flatly false as he has been noted by several sources to be a big reader of history) while Gore and Kerry were considered intellectual lights shows that being an intellectual has more to do with the persona presented to the world than actual cognitive capacity.

This leads right up to the nonsensical claim that Obama is some sort of genius despite the utter lack of evidence or genuine accomplishment. But that is the leftist pattern where it is more important to believe things than than to know things that are demonstrably true. So they keep believing things like Keynesian economics no matter how often it fails.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Pinker is doing that classic 'liberal' thing - believing what he wants to believe and bending 'evidence' around to support his own prejudices rather than look objectively at facts and the broad sweep of history.
Basically it's a case of self-delusion and conning the public.

That the atrocities of WW2 are still in the memory of man living is of course the obvious point.That the atrocities were perpetrated by the most cultured, educated and civic nation in the world is another point that needs not be mentioned.
What man of 1900 would ever have thought that the blood-stained history of the 20th century would have ever occurred? - we tend to forget at 1900 the western world was at the most moralistic, religious observing, civic minded, humanitarian and idealistic state it had ever been.
My point is that tthere very well might be another Hitler or Stalin around the corner.To scoff and rle it out as impossible is the height of absurdity.

Anonymous said...

With their sky-rocketing populations and Malthusian poverty traps a blow-up in one or more of the mass population African states is likely.
How this will imact on a depopulated and deracinated Europe, I do not know.

Anonymous said...

Who would have predicted the recent Yugoslav punch-up in 1975?
Wasn't the EU supposed to mak sure that things like that were to 'never happen again'?

agnostic said...

I think Pinker is talking about interpersonal violence, not state vs. state violence.

RKU is right that the secular decline also shows cycles around it. There were upward swings in European homicide rates from ca. 1580-1630, 1780-1830, 1960-1990, and more unevenly from 1900-1930.

Maybe there's a 200-year cycle then. So don't hold your breath for the next zeitgeist that will produce another Shakespeare, Keats, or Kubrick.

Whiskey is right that commerce doesn't lead to lower violence via better manners. If so, then Ashkenazi Jews would have the most refined manners and courteous behavior.

Keeley shows in War Before Civilization that trade, even among primitive peoples, makes conflict *more* likely. The reason is that frequent trading and dealing leads to more disputes, some of which blow up into violence. That can't happen between groups or individuals who never interact. That's why groups who specialize in commerce tend to be disputatious, like the Ashkenazim or Men In Gold Chains.

So the arrow goes the other way -- when violence rates come down, it allows commerce to flourish. Several other things that track violence rates are probably like that too, like secularism -- an effect, not cause, of an overly safe world, where death, decay, and deviance aren't as salient to the average person anymore.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm quite angry at Pinker and this smug, self-satisified, mendacious bit of wishful-thinking.
I can't help thinking that by writing it he is not only spitting on the graves of everyone who was murdered in the holocaust (just one example of 20th century civilsation), but all of the other atrocities and slaughters that pockmarked that century.
Something about the book angers me.Perhaps it's that I'm just too old to believe in myths and fairy tales and I don't like it when sophistry, silly little graphs and self-serving thinking is trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

S. Brady said...

I think Gregory Clark's Farewell to Alms was pretty good proof that violence declined due to a change in behavioral genetics. Even when the evolution for a character ceases, its effects can linger on for a few centuries longer. Pinker needs to take a walk outside academia now and again.

Civil behavior is decreasing due to lack of selection for the genes that promote non-violent behavior. In the West, the welfare state has promoted single motherhood. When women are relieved of the obligation to select a male on the basis of his resource provision capability they select them on their masculine attributes-which are in general correlated with more violent characteristics. Secondly, more intelligent women with better executive function are encouraged to have careers which reduces their reproductive output. I won't even elaborate on 3rd world immigration.

The net effect? The proportion of gene variants that induce general misbehavior and organizational dysfunction are increasing. The phenotypic effects are starting to appear: the London Riots, flash mob violence, fiscal mismanagement, lack of school discipline, etc. Pinker's ideas will be refuted in the decades to come.

Anonymous said...

It a depressing competition, the Bush vs. Kerry IQ race, since both have such strong data indicating intellectual mediocrity (even if Bush edges out Kerry by a nose).

Despite all the sound and fury regarding the Republican nomination process, Gov. Romney has a great resume and intellectual qualifications to be President of the United States.

Hopefully Anonymous
http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

Anonymous said...

Bush's test scores say nothing about how intellectual he is.


Does the reviewer really not understand the meaning of this simple word?

RKU said...

James: Unfortunately, the rest of Wilson's paragraph is neocon nonsense.

Yes, Wilson's a smart guy, so the whole thing seems rather odd.

Even odder was that WSJ symposium a month or two ago, in which a dozen or so prominent intellectuals were asked what they would do if elected President. Most of the responses were reasonable (at least relative to the sort of intellectuals the WSJ selected), but Wilson's plans centered on committment to the survival of Israel, treating an attack on Israel as an attack on the US, using sanctions against the "terrorist regimes" which Israel doesn't like, and that sort of thing. A very, very strange perspective for an *American* president.

Since Wilson's real name is Wilson rather than Wilsonstein, I'm wondering whether he might be in ill health, and has hired a zealous young neocon to ghost these sort of very minor essays for him. Or perhaps he accidentally "said something wrong" recently and needs to over-compensate in order to avoid Helen Thomas's fate. Certainly, the osmotic ideological influence of one's friends might have had an impact over time, but I'd think that's less likely to suddenly manifest after one's turned eighty.

Anonymous said...

Despite being a moderately squishy liberal, one of the things I really admire about Pinker us that he's willing to engage with critics in good faith and even to stray from the PC reservation if that's where the science takes him. (Some of this may be due to him being Canadian and their history being less fraught with racial issues.) Too bad more of the liberal public intellectuals aren't like him.

Brett Stevens said...

Whether unwittingly or by subterfuge, Pinker chooses to remain firmly anchored in the left while making arguments that mostly belong to the right.

It's a brilliant strategy, however it is derived. "The Blank Slate" is required reading for the new millennium.

Anonymous said...

On the decline of violence where? Mostly in the Western world, not in Africa.
But as the West fills up with more blacks, we are seeing rise of violence in France, UK, and Sweden, etc.

Anonymous said...

"It's sad that someone as brilliant as Wilson feels the need to defend that moron Bush."

He's not defending Bush but poking holes at Pinker's views.
I think both have a point.
Bush may be as smart or even slightly smarter than Kerry.
But intelligence does not equal intellectualism. One can be very smart--as some criminals are--and not be intellectual(curious, analytical, well-read, thoughtful, etc)about the world. Also, many highly intelligent artists were not intellectuals.
But a person of average IQ can be an intellectual if he adopts the intellectualist attitude toward life.

Personally, neither Kerry nor Bush strike me as intellectual. Obama puts on a good act, but I think he's profoundly uninterested in anything but himself.

Anonymous said...

I think we should make a distinction between macro-violence(between nations or big communities) and micro-violence(among individuals within a community).

We should also make a distinction between violence of criminal necessity and violence of criminal badassity.

A nation or community could be peaceful within but violent with neighboring or other nations. Nazi Germany and militarist Japan were mostly orderly within, but they were violent against neighbors. They were socially peaceful but politically/ideologically violent(to Poland or China, to Jews or POWS). After WWII, Germany and Japan chose political peace, and they've both been peaceful socially and politically.
There's a paradox here. A socially orderly nation is potentially more dangerous politically because, under an aggressive regime, it can pull its resources together and work well together to fight wars. If Hitler's Germany had been a social mess--like Amin's Uganda--, no way it could have been a threat to other nations. It was because Germany was unified and stable that it could mount a formidable challenge to the world.
But Germany after WWII chose to be both socially and politically peaceful, the best of both worlds--though to be sure, the commies were held at bay by threat of American violence against the Soviets.

Anyway, a socially peaceful society can be peaceful or violent with other nations. But social peace within is something that makes life pleasant for people within the community.
But black communities are often violent from within--micro-violent or socially violent. For this reason, African nations cannot pose any kind of world threat. They can never get their acts together to become world powers--like UK, Germany, US, and now China. But the social violence within can cause all sorts of mayhem(and can spill into other communities with weak borders to protect itself). And with the introduction of guns, things got worse in some areas. Also, modern ideas about individualism and freedom don't bode too well in a world dominated by tribalism; it just led to juvenile egocentrism. In the West, individualism and freedom work because they are balanced by law and order,
agreed-upon values among a large community, and relatively peaceful human nature among whites(at least compared to blacks). Higher IQ also allows whites to realize things better.

Even in the West, look at Detroit vs Denver. (To be sure, even Denver is getting worse with more blacks arriving, btw.)

So, it's foolish to write of humanity as one big whole.

I'd say in the West and East, 20th century saw a tremendous amount of political and macro-violence but an increase in social and micro-peace.
Micro-peace is no guarantee for macro-peace, but there can be no macro-peace without micro-peace.

As for crime, there's two kinds. People who are really desperate and break rules to get by--as lots of Europeans did after WWII(especially through black markets and thievery for foodstuff, etc). Such criminals are not pros but feel shame about what they're doing. It's like Ricci in BICYCLE THIEVES who tries to steal a bike at the end because he needs a job.
With social stability increasing, such people don't commit crime, find jobs, and raise their children well.

But there are criminals who just commit crime cuz it's badass. Too many blacks feel and act this way. Indeed, even middle class blacks will steal and break rules cuz it's the badass jiveass stuff to do; it's no wonder so many black middle-class people work in government, where they almost never get fired no matter how lousy a job they do. They are not a productive middle class but a distributive middle class leeching off the taxes of the real middle class.
With too many of such people, there can't be much progress. Even among Europeans, Southern Italians are like this, steeped in a culture of crime.. and so they have far less progress than in the north. Southern Italy, Greece, and parts of Spain are the Mexico of Europe.

Anonymous said...

"careless or devious"


"Devious. I've seen him do it before."

It's the only way to be politically incorrect in a politically acceptable way.
Watson wasn't devious in his statement about Africans but where did it get him?

Anonymous said...

"Actually, I'm quite angry at Pinker and this smug, self-satisified, mendacious bit of wishful-thinking.
I can't help thinking that by writing it he is not only spitting on the graves of everyone who was murdered in the holocaust (just one example of 20th century civilsation), but all of the other atrocities and slaughters that pockmarked that century."


I think you're missing the point. Holocaust was an act of political violence fed by ideology. But Nazi Germany within itself was stable and peaceful--as was much of the Soviet Union(despite its massive political murders). I think Pinker's point is that, despite massive political violence in the 20th century, new forms of governance and organization allowed for greater peace within societies. Nazi Germany was a safe and orderly society(as was East Germany). The violence arose not from incapacity for order(if anything, there was an over-abundance of it)but from an ideology. Get rid of the dangerous ideology, and you can have social order in a nation like Germany. So, the holocaust wasn't inevitable. It was something that happened for political reasons. And perversely enough, even as an act of political violence, it was carried out methodically and in an orderly manner. So, even killing became rationalized in the 20th century than random and wild. It's like there's a difference between how we butcher animals and how wolves tear an animal alive or how primitive people kill animals in horribly violent ways. Even our violence is done in a less wildly violent way but in a more orderly way. This isn't to say holocaust victims or the Hiroshima dead died peacefully(heck no!), but it shows that even the actions of Germany or US could be channeled to more productive actions than killing lots of people.
Order is the foundation of peace, and a people who are capable of acting orderly(even in violence) have greater potential for peace later. Germany and Japan were among the most aggressive in WWII, but after the war, their societies were among the most peaceful among major powers. Why? They have the capacity for order, and even their wars had been carried out in an orderly fashion. Even monstrosities such as the Rape of Nanking was done as an order from higher above. It's like dogs can be ordered to do crazy things, but it's in their capacity to obey orders which makes them potentially peaceful. If you order them to bite, they will bite, but if you order them to sit and be nice, they'll sit and be nice. The West and East are societies of tamed dogs(who can be ordered to either act nice or act nuts; blacks are more like wild dogs who won't obey orders, and so they're ALWAYS violent.)

Anonymous said...

As for Pinker's view that economic interconnection makes for greater peace, it's both true and not-so-true. Globalism had intertwined entire worlds more closely together than ever before. Instead of nations doing business with nations, we have a businesses all over the world tied more closely to one another than to their nations of origin. So, American business is closer to Mexican business and Chinese business than to American workers. This had made things more interdependent. Since business interests dominate nations, we have policies geared not to upset the globalist agenda. Prior to WWI, Germany and France did business but were still separate political entities. Under the EU, they are still separate nations but they're far more integrated than ever before. Also, globalism had led to tremendous movement of peoples, and the elites seem to want it this way.
What globalism has done is drive a wedge between a nation's business elites and its workers. In the America of the yesteryear, General Motors and American workers were one. They were American. Today, GM is a global company and feel no loyalty to American workers. And many American workers are now Mexicans, some of them Illegal. Jews fear nothing more than goy majority unity in a given nation. Jews love globalism cuz it has divided American business elites from American masses. American business can no longer be patriotic, which means goyim cannot form into an unified economic block to challenge globalist Jewish power.

Anonymous said...

Though globalism has brought the world together in greater economic peace, it may lead to new tensions(trade imbalances) and new headaches(as the ones we are seeing in the West with low white birthrates and high level of immigration of blacks, Muslims, and Mexicans who have lots of kids). And then, at some point, the whole global venture might start falling apart like the Roman Empire. Globalism has been successful thus far largely due to the abilities and actions of Western and Eastern elites and peoples. Western elites dominate Europe, both Americas, Australia, etc. Eastern elites(especially Chinese and Japanese)dominate business in much of Asia, not least in SE Asia. In the future, the East may remain more stable because of the unity of elites and masses. China is made of Chinese elite and Chinese masses, Japan is made of Japanese elites and Japanese masses. But one worries about the Europe and America. Europe will have an EU elite and growing Muslim and African masses who have little use for modern thinking. America has a Jewish globalist elite that is hostile to the white majority and rising numbers of blacks and Mexicans who are less capable for social order and/or economic progress. And then, the great fall in the future will be more horrendous than anything we've witnessed before.

Anonymous said...

A corollary to all the A students who work for B average Stanford MBAs.

Dumb comment. Stanford MBA "B students" are still pretty elite, because Stanford has the most selective MBA program in the world. Typical Stanford MBA scored at or above the 98th percentile on the GMAT and have significant work experience.

-- bb

RA said...

I'm not so sure being at the 95th percentile of IQ is "still pretty stupid" for a president, or a "member of the elite," for that matter. Of course, for someone who buys into the idea that our elite class represents a pure meritocracy, RA's remark would not appear as unintentionally hilarious as it does for the rest of us.


Look at where the elites went to school and look at the average test scores of the people who went there.

If you reject that the elites are smart, you have to throw out Bush's SAT scores too.

Funny how ISteve readers love standardized tests when they tell them they're smarter than blacks, but not when they tell them the liberal elites are smarter than conservatives.

Dutch Boy said...

One need not be an intellectual to be a successful politician. The most successful American politician in history has been Franklin Roosevelt and one of his admirers once admitted that he had never known him to read anything but detective stories.

Anonymous said...

How very convenient and simple: Two Conservative writers (you and Mr. Wilson) claim that a conservative president is smarter than a dooshbag Liberal like John Kerry... based on what exactly?

A gpa score and a pseudo-SAT test?

That's it?

I would say that's a little flimsy and very much in keeping with people like you who very much need to feel like you can "master" the human race, that you can understand someone with just the flimsiest of clues.

I don't know if Kerry is smarter but what I do know is that I enjoy hearing him speak (much more than Barrack Obama, for example.) I also that Bush sounds borderline retarded when speaking publicly.


The contortions and circle-jerk you conservatives perform in order to appear in the right.

This has become one of the dumb Right-Wing memes: Bush is smarter than Kerry and here is the non-proof.

Anonymous said...

What is the role of urbanism in all this? Urbanism seems to create more chaos in bringing so many people together--and mega-cities(or at least parts of them, as in Rio)around the world are real hellholes--, yet at the same thing, urbanism can also make people more adaptive to new realities and more tolerant of different peoples.

But one striking factor of Western life seems to be the huge cultural divide between the rurality and urbanity. This wasn't always so. Prior to the rise of ultra-liberalism, the urban and rural communities had much in common in values, outlook, morality, attitudes(though great tensions did exist, e.g. William Jenning Byran's crusade against city slicker bankers, etc). Even 50 yrs ago, urban Americans and rural Americans would have been mostly agreed on patriotism and would have scoffed at the notion of 'gay marriage'. Today, a huge divide exists between urbanity and rurality in cultural values(though MTV and internet in every room seems to be closing the divide--and not in a good way). Also, there was a time when even most urban Americans had memories in rural America as the place of origin. 70 yrs ago, a city person could have been raised on a farm or his parents would have told him stories of farm life. But we've had generations of people who know nothing but the city and have no direct link to the land or soil(except farm animals exhibit at the city zoo). It used to be American cityfolks had roots in the soil but found new freedoms in the city. Same was true of immigrants, many of whom were of humble farmer origin from places like Southern Italy or Poland. But once they came here, generations all grew up in the city. Today, only 2% of Americans work in agriculture, but there is still what goes by the name of 'small town' America which is closer to the soil. The divide between them and urban folks is very wide. City folks are into 'gay marriage' and other crazy stuff. Both groups have little in common. As for suburban folks, they are essentially city folks seeking respite from excess of urbanity(or black crime) than rural folks hankering to get closer to urban life.

The big difference between US and China is many city folks in China have fresh memories of rural life. Though the divide between urbanity and rurality is huge over there, on a cultural level, I'll bet lots of Chinese city dwellers still have a sense of roots in the soil. They may have migrated to the city not long ago and still have lots of relatives on the farm.
Though hayseeds and dung-steppers can be plenty annoying and ignorant, there is a psychological advantage to having this connection to the soil.

One difference between Anglo-Americans(and other earlier-Americans) and later immigrant Americans is the former mostly started out as farmers and formed a direct link to the American soil... before moving to the cities. Later immigrant groups, otoh, arrived in the cities and put their foot down on asphalt and cement. They never connected to the soil. This was rather odd cuz many of them were of dirt-poor farmer backgrounds, and it must have been traumatic(as well as liberating) for them to suddenly find a living working in factories and living in tenements. One exception were Jews, who never had much of a connection to the soil to begin with even in the old world. They were built for the city, and Jews to this day harbor an anciet fear of rural-rube folkishness.

Anonymous said...

In freshman highschool, we had to read a short story called 'Antaeus', and I think it gets at something that's missing in most of our lives. Though Chinese, with their memories of rurality, may be less sophisticated than we are, the link may also make them hardier and more 'authentic'. City life has made many of us sharp, scrappy, and adaptable, but also cut off from that soil-spiritual-hardy connection to life. There was some of this in the Japanese film HIMATSURI and of course SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, pretty good movie based on the great novel. One senses it too in the Russian flick SIBERIADE. One thing about rural folks; they may be dimwitted but they are tough and real in ways that many city folks are not. Watching pigs get castrated does something to you.

Anyway, the issue isn't so much violence vs peace. Both violence and peace are necessary for social order and progress. It's like what the Ecclesiastes says. There is a time for everything. So, more peace isn't necessarily better FOR ALL TIMES, not even for long-term peace(Neville Chamberlain found that out). If anything, it would be nice if Europeans went back to blood-and-soil fighting mode to save their civlization from marauders. If they choose radical or absolute peace and let things keep going as they're going, then their societies will fall--as we've seen with burning London--, and then there will be lots more violence in the future. A people who've lost the will to use violence to prevent worse violence will fall to horrible violence. Pinker should know this cuz Israel is even willing to use nukes to save itself from crazy Arabs.
If Europe becomes the demographic extension of Africa, it will become Africa, and then the violence will be irreversible since the very heart of Africans is violent.

PS. Another thing most city folks are cut off from is family. When women were mothers and had more children, kids grew up feeling as part of a family--mom and dad, siblings. etc. Also, mom and dad had siblings--uncles, aunts, etc. And there were many cousins, and etc. But many kids are only childs and so they have no siblings. And that means their children won't have uncles or aunts, which means they won't have cousins. And so, modern mentality has moved away from blood-family-ties-and-links to links to celebrities and styles and fashions. In a way, it's liberating but also lonely. There are friends but they too are aloof and hip and unattached to anything real. And one never feel as close to a friend as to a blood relative.
I don't know if psychological weakening of family ties is good for peace or violence. Maybe such people won't feel much patriotic bond to nation either. Or maybe they'll seek to compensate for their lack of family ties with strong ties to nation or ideology. Hitler lost his parents pretty early and drifted alone for much of life, and he seems to have found his new family in the German nation. Others, otoh, prefer to be alone.

NOTA said...

RA:

Is there evidence that liberal elites are smarter than conservative elites? Can you give s cite for that?

One pretty easy difference to see is that liberal voters llike the image of being intellectual better than conservative voters do. So Al Gore or John Kerry might cultivate that image, whereas George Bush or Bob Dole might not. And this is independent of actual interests or abilities, since they and their spin people and the media types who mindlessly follow the current popular narrative are all working to project some image of them regardless of any incnvenient contradictory facts. So Obama is both a postracial rock star (despite spending much of his life obsessed with racial issues) and an intellectual academic law professor (despite not having done much publishing or research). So Bush was s regular guy from Texas (hey, don't most regular guys from Texas have a bunch of senators and Saudi sheikhs as old buddies?) and not especially bright or educated (not like he attended Yale and then went to Harvard for his MBA). And so on.

Kylie said...

"...secularism -- an effect, not cause, of an overly safe world, where death, decay, and deviance aren't as salient to the average person anymore."

I've been thinking about this notion a lot lately, that so many Westerners have dispensed with conventional religion and embraced PC because their ease of life allows them to do so.

But you expressed it far more succinctly than I could have. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I love that Whiskey includes Turkey in his list of third world failed peoples who can only gain prosperity through conquest. You know, Turkey, the country with the economy that's been growing 8-10 percent a year, is at peace with its neighbors (even Iraq and Armenia now), and managed to survive the latest European financial crisis without a bailout. It so tracks with his tendency to say things that sound reasonable unless you actually know anything about the subjects he's discussing.

Anonymous said...

"Is there evidence that liberal elites are smarter than conservative elites? Can you give s cite for that?"

Libs got the Jews and won over the Asian elites.

Anonymous said...

"Whether unwittingly or by subterfuge, Pinker chooses to remain firmly anchored in the left while making arguments that mostly belong to the right."

Whether unwittingly or by subterfuge, Pinker chooses to remain firmly anchored in privileged white communities while making arguments that sound egalitarian and pc.

Anonymous said...

Pinker Panther Strikes Again.

Wilson may sometimes be devious, but he has nothing on Pinker.

Anonymous said...

It Takes A (global)Village Idiot to swallow this BS.

SFG said...

"Dumb comment. Stanford MBA "B students" are still pretty elite, because Stanford has the most selective MBA program in the world. Typical Stanford MBA scored at or above the 98th percentile on the GMAT and have significant work experience."

I'd say that's right. Top b-school people are probably your best example of intelligent but unintellectual people. They do pretty well. An interest in the life of the mind is largely a bad thing. People don't fit abstractions. Unlike in France, there's no status associated with it.

Dahlia said...

"Throughout 'The Better Angels of Our Nature" Mr. Pinker defends the Enlightenment—that is, the reliance on human reason to make choices and shun intolerance.'"

"The Bell Curve" was not Murray's most controversial book. That honor goes to "Human Accomplishment" for declaring that the Renaissance and the following initial phase of the Protestant Reformation constituted the most genius era of human history.

That the Enlightenment is the pinnacle of human history is the sustaining mythology for the superiority of individualism against hierarchy, community and tradition.

James Kurth, himself a Protestant, is superior at describing the world view of people like Whiskey (not a Protestant, but Jews and the Enlightenment is another topic) and the American and Northern European establishment and how we got here vis a vis our foreign policy, but it describes all our politics as well; I think it is even superior to Auster's 3 levels of liberalism theory (hat tip to The American Conservative's Rod Dreher:
http://www.phillysoc.org/Kurth%20Speech.htm

Average Joe said...

Kennedy was smarter than Nixon? Really?

Well, at least Kennedy never got involved in anything as stupid as the Watergate scandal that turned Nixon's life to crap.

FredR said...

Agnostic:

Have you read Fischer's "The Great Wave"? In the end I thought it was pretty weak, but he does gather a lot of data about these cycles, including an additional cycle he puts at around 1300.

Anonymous said...

How does Pinker explain the only two graphs at the link that matter to the average person-homicide in England and in Europe-both trending up?

And WTF include a graph about animals harmed in making motion pictures and not homicide in the US?

Dahlia said...

Also, does Pinker mention abortion? It surely needs to be recognized as part of the violence record.

Just because it is invisible doesn't make it less violent and grisly. Since Pinker is discussing the morality and philosophy of people, it would seem pertinent to discuss the meaning of, just in the U.S., tens of millions of children being slaughtered. It is after all something particular to the modern era.

That is violence of the most interpersonal kind and it's been ignored by every review of the book I've seen.

Honestly, I don't know what its inclusion would do for Pinker's thesis (and perhaps he did include it).

RAH said...

Is there evidence that liberal elites are smarter than conservative elites? Can you give s cite for that?


Just based on where they went to school. Look at this year's conservative candidates for president. The only ones who went to schools which indicate high IQ are Romney and Paul. The Democrats seem to have a few morons like Biden, but they generally went to Harvard or Yale (Obama, Hillary, Bill, Gore). Even John Kerry, not very smart for a Democratic elite, is smarter than Bachmann, Cain, Perry.

No, I haven't done an actual study of say, comparing Democratic Senators to Republican ones. But my impression is that liberal elites tend to be more credentialed, and thus smarter. I'm open to being proven wrong empirically. But this is the last place in the world I want to hear that standardized tests don't measure intelligence.

Anonymous said...

RA:

Look at where the elites went to school and look at the average test scores of the people who went there.

If you reject that the elites are smart, you have to throw out Bush's SAT scores too.


Um, I said no such thing. Read what I
wrote more carefully.


Funny how ISteve readers love standardized tests when they tell them they're smarter than blacks, but not when they tell them the liberal elites are smarter than conservatives.


I said nothing about blacks. If you feel other commenters here are guilty of employing a double standard, please take it up with them.

Anonymous said...

Not to defend Wiskey, but Turkey is expected by many economists to crash soon. Also, we can hardly ignore the fact that Turkey still has a GDP per capita lower than Mexico.

Pinker and Wilson both claim Stalin murdered 20 million people. Those are old, inflated numbers. It was probably “only” half of that, according to modern estimates.
There is often inflation in genocide numbers, because no one wants to sound as if he is defending the murderer by saying it was actually less than x.

Anonymous said...

The claims that 20 million Indian’s were murdered by whites or that Genghis Khan killed 40 million people are almost certainly wrong.

If you add up all the Indians actually killed by whites in the United States in various historically documented massacres, it is barely above 10.000. Yet they claim 1-2 million murdered in genocide.

Similarly you have to be nuts to think a few thousand Spanish walked around and killed 20 million Indians in Latin America. They died from disease, and in many cases they never existed (all this is based on guesses about how many people lived there, since there was no census).

I think if you want to claim genocide, you have to start by actual historic accounts of murders, which tend to be two orders of magnitude smaller than the demographic estimates. Sure, people dies indirectly too, but 100 times as many?

Similarly, the Mongul army was 100.000 men. 40 million sounds too high. At the very least, we should warn readers about how uncertain such estimate are.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
I afraid your understanding of Nazi ideology and philosophy is very, very limited.
Anti-semitism was the cornerstone of Nazi belief probably a bigger cornerstone than socialism/corporatism.Anti-semitism was the leitmotif of Nazism right from the very beginning, right at the founding of the party.It's roots were very deep Viennese and Mittel European anti-semitism that existed for centuries.
Hitler's very lat word in his last testament, read to the German people went like this "...and finally I give absolutely no apology whatsoever for the merciless destruction of the universal poisoner of all mankind".
The Nazis fully meant what they said and meant what they did, as difficult as you might believe it, Hitler wanted all Jews expirtated from Europe, he wasn't buggering around because of circumstances and 'politics'.

Default User said...

Using intellectualism as a proxy for intelligence will tend to favor liberals. What we generally consider intellectual is more about opinion forming discussions. What we call intellectuals are those who prefer to discuss politics, history, sociology, etc. We would not deny that most physicists are smart, but would be less likely to call them intellectuals (scientists, is more likely appellation).

Most prominent intellectuals are probably smart (perhaps more verbal than mathematic) but you can be smart and not intellectual. I am not defending Bush's apparent lack of curiosity (although I wonder how much of that is similar to the dumb Reagan myth) but claiming that such disposition is not necessarily a good proxy for IQ.

Although not very smart (probably higher than average but certainly not in the +2 SD league), some might be consider me an intellectual. I am curious and try to learn about many things. I am not certain that such a disposition would serve me better as president than more smarts.

Advice (and presidents will receive much of that) does not come labeled "good" or "bad." More "nuanced" (intellectual) types may be comfortable with ambiguity and seeing both sides, they just may find making decisions difficult. I do not believe that the bad (unintellectual) Bush decisions will necessarily be worse than the bad (but nuanced) Obama decisions.

Most arguments about presidential smarts are really about presidential style.

RKU said...

I love that Whiskey includes Turkey in his list of third world failed peoples who can only gain prosperity through conquest....It so tracks with his tendency to say things that sound reasonable unless you actually know anything about the subjects he's discussing.

I sometimes wonder whether our good friend "Whiskey" might be the most totally pathological liar anywhere on the entire Internet. Can't say that I've ever encountered one even remotely in his league...

josh said...

"That the atrocities of WW2...were perpetrated by the most cultured,educated and civic nation..." Hmm. The atrocities of the Communist regime (Hitlers least favorite general,Manstein,once said he was fighting the "bolshevik terror".Hey! He was fighting the terrorists!!) were perpretated by the very same people who are now in full control of the government,media and academy of the United States. Not good. Btw more Kennedy bashing? I somehow dont see him down on his knees pulling McNamara down and saying,"Pray with me,Danny!" Not to be disrespectful of Nixon,but he was a really bad Prez. He expanded affirm action.A louse who planted a Bad Seed.

Anonymous said...

Steve, there are a number of holes in Pinker's analysis.

Most clearly, certain ethno groups seem predisposed to violence, and certain ones do not.

To my knowledge, Somalis are pre desposed to violence and just about every single nation that has invited Somalis to immigrate has found this - it doesn't matter if the Somalis are settled in cold weather or warm, doesn't matter if they are urban or rural. They tend to be violent, more so than almost any other group I know of.

that being said, which of the anglo saxon nations seem to be accepting the largest number of violent immigrants as a percentage of population - Canada or Australia?

Putting it another way, if someone whose family has lived in Scotland for a thousand years is fed up with the direction that the UK is going in, and all he cares about is the environment his great grand children will grow up in, is he better off moving to Canada or moving to Australia?

Anonymous said...

A key reason the murder rate is way down is medical advances developed by U.S. forces in Vietnam during the 1960s that allowed medics to stabilize people with gunshot wounds to the torso. How this is never brought up is beyond me. It's why the deaths in Afghanisation and Iraq are a fraction of what they would have been a half-century ago. Also holds for First World murder rates. Duh, duh and mega-duh.

Simon in London said...

And yet: The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Doug1 said...

RKU—

Furthermore, since so many of the Third World countries these days are so heavily over-populated and so totally dependent upon outside food or technology to survive, a single major international disruption could easily cause the deaths of a billion or more people, easily throwing off Pinker's smoothly declining curve.

Pinker’s not talking about those kinds of deaths due to starvation, or pestilence.

I think his general thesis is pretty persuasive.

The big counterfactual worrying overhang of course has always been nuclear war between the US and the Soviets or now Russians. Also the civilizing process though has been spread unevenly around the world. A radical Jihadi terrorist getting hold of a loose nuke is another worry.

Simon in London said...

I've now read through Pinker's talk at http://edge.org/conversation/mc2011-history-violence-pinker

At the bottom, John Tooby makes a couple very good points, about the current world trajectory being a Pax Anglo-Americum, and how maintenance of that trajectory rests on fewer and fewer shoulders - young upper working class Red State Christian men, basically.

More broadly, I think Pinker is right that States have much lower violence rates than non-State societies. He's also right that modern Western society has low violence rates, except he ignores the impact of immigration by violent foreigners. And technology - Western-created technology - appears to often have an impact i reducing violence.

But the West is not immortal. Indeed the West appears to be dying, though our civilisation may last a couple more centuries, long after Pinker is dead. We're starting to get some idea of what the successor-world will look like, and I don't see any reason to believe it will be less violent than today.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the reason for reduction for violence is tectonical. An earthquake can be very violent, but after a massive tremor, there's long peace.... until new forces come into play and create tensions for a new earthquake.

History may be like this. Instead of speaking of past vs present, it may make more sense to think in terms of cycles. Mongols did kill many people in their conquest of Eurasia, but once they established Pax Mongo, there was relative peace over the territory--even to the point where a silk road flourished between East and West for century or two. Once Pax Mongo fell apart, new tensions arose and new wars broke out.
In the early part of 20th century, there were many unresolved issues and no sure sign who was the big mofo. There was the British Empire, French Empire, Spanish Empire(long in decline but still a player in Philippines and such), Russian Empire, America, rising Japan, etc. (Soon, with fall of Manchu Rule, China too would enter into global politics). There was no single top mofo. Germans wanted their place in teh sun. Japan wanted to be master of Asia. US, having settled the West, wanted to play world politics. Russia has its own Slavic and Central Asian mission. It also looked to Asia. WWI resolved some of the conflict. Losers were Russia, Germany, Ottomans, and Austrians. Germans, Russians, and Austrians lost their Central European empires, and nations like Poland and others came into being. Ottoman empire fell and new nations arose. This was very violent. The loser nations Russia and Germany underwent radical change--of far left and far right.

Winners were supposedly UK, France, US, and Japan. But Japan didn't get much out of WWI and felt bitter. UK and France were drained. US was on the rise but divided on its role in the world(and then came the Great Depression which made US insular). Germany rebuilt its military and along with Japan(and Italy)decided to take on the world order and come out on top. That unleashed a superduper war, the biggest historical earthquake that people ever did see.

Once the tremors ended, the losers were Germany and Japan, and the big winners were USSR and US. UK was a winner but drained even worse than after WWI.
With Germany and Japan accepting defeat(and peace), the world was divided into Pax Sovietus, Pax Americana, and the Third World, where tensions were still prevalent and set off whole bunch of tremors, especially in China(culminating in civil war and rise of communism), Southeast and North AFrica with 'liberation' struggles, and etc.

Some of the new wars were between natives vs white imperialists, and once the latter were gone, new conflicts were between third-worlders vs third-worlders(like between Viets and Cams in Southeast Asia and between the right and left in Latin America--which was sometimes about whites vs mestizos vs indians).

But Cold War didn't lead to war between US and USSR, largely cuz of geography. If USSR and US had been face-to-face(like US and Canada or Russia and Germany--following partition of Poland), things might have been more heated. But USSR was OVER THERE and we were OVER HERE. And though it was tragic that Eastern Europe fell to commies, they served as a useful wall between the West and USSR. It was a useful wall cuz E. Europe was both pro-Soviet(under Soviet military rule and commie regimes)and anti-Soviet(its people resented Soviet presence and communist tyranny). Poland, for example, was nominally a communist ally of USSR but its people preferred to be closer to the West. Such ambiguity made it a kind of no-man's land, politically, neither on the side of West nor on the side of East.

Anonymous said...

There were proxy wars in the Third World(and some areas turned into hellholes), but Cold War remained pretty stable. In some ways, it aided greater peace in some areas cuz the world was simply divided into East and West. So, if you belonged with the East, Soviets gave you candy. If you belonged to the West, Americans gave you candy. It was one form of stability.

US won the Cold War, and this led to reduced macro-tensions around the world, but it fired up micro-tensions in areas undergoing change. There were hotspots in Central Asia and Yugoslavia due to fall of communism. It took massive earthquakes in Yugoslavia for nations to break up and go separate ways. So, as with WWII, it took a massive quake to realign the order and create a new stability. There is much greater peace now than before.

Roman Empire was plenty violent in conquering different folks but once they done what they did, there was peace in the empire for like two centuries. Again, massive violence led to peace. Romans showed everyone they were the top mofo and conquered peoples got whupped so bad that they accepted and recognized Romans as top dogs. Romans were so badass that no one dared to challenge Roman rule. But once Roman empire grew weak, different peoples began to rise up and new conflicts broke out all over.

America was created through violence too. White man showed everyone that he was boss. Indians fought the white man but got beat so bad--like Japanese did later--that one chief even spread his arms and said, "I shall fight no more, forever"--at least in a movie. When Gaddafi was top mofo of Libya, there was peace for 4 decades. But once his power slipped and rebels got a sense that they could win(especiall with Nato aid), there was bloodshed all over.
It's like Ali and Foreman fought like crazy until one guy fell, and then there was peace.

Now, the black man, yellow man, brown man, and etc used to fear the white man in America, and so there was peace and unity under the Anglo-American-made order. But as respect for the traditional power of whites diminish--and with blacks, browns, and yellows and others feeling more cocky--, things may change. Blacks were more peaceful when they used to fear the white man. White man may have been physically weaker but was socially, legally, politically united against the Negro. Today, white elites praise the magic negro and attack poor whites for complaining about black thuggery and crime--indeed, any such complaint is 'racist', the worst of all sins. So, blacks nowfeel they don't have to respect no honkey.

Anonymous said...

Pinker says the South is more violent than the North cuz of its culture of honor and weak police, but how come Jewish communities in the South were peaceful? How come most white southern folks are peaceful? Lazy maybe but peaceful. And if the culture of honor is the problem, there's plenty of that among pioneer spirited descendents in place like the Dakotas and Idoha. But there's less violence there cuz there's fewer blacks. But look at northern areas like Detroit, south side Chicago, and Cleveland and St. Louis, and it's some bad shit. Again, it's blacks, but Pinker is too chickenshit to state the obvious. Japan has a honor culture, and there is honor related violence--like yakuza guys cutting off fingers in them movies--but Japan as a whole isn't violent. Japan thankfully doesn't have blacks.

Speaking of decivilizing influences, I wonder what Pinker has to say about the ho culture, stud culture, thug culture, and etc that is peddled by Jewish liberals in Hollywood and music industry?

josh said...

"Not a likely event if Nixon had thought Krock had received money from Joe Kennedy to get John Kennedy his Pulitzer."

Why not? What is it to David Rockefeller?

jody said...

some of pinker's argument is decent. but half the time he clearly veers off from his main point, of declining violence in war and crime, into classic liberal, "anti-racist", pro-anybody-but-straight-european-men, baloney.

his data sets show every obvious marker of how a liberal is not intellectually rigorous at all. the tables and numbers have every single metric organized around the "white males verses everybody else" mindset. his data even literally uses absolutely mind boggling values like "minorities".

WTF? this category makes NO SENSE AT ALL in an intellectually rigorous analysis of global trends among ALL HUMANS.

pinker does not attempt to analyze what the non-europeans are doing to each other, and to various other groups, at all.

at least his data clearly shows, as i have pointed out many times, that the serious nations of the world cannot fight each other anymore because missiles and aircraft are too good now, but the third worlders, who have exploding populations but weak weapons, are killing each other more and more.

David Davenport said...

Jews love globalism cuz it has divided American business elites from American masses.

They're Carthagenians, not "J..."

What you meant to say was, "Carthagenians love globalism ..."

Anonymous said...

Pinker's obviously got a political agenda. Globalist shill! It's almost the opposite of Chompsky's.

I'm annoyed enough I won't be making a second attempt at getting through The Language Instinct. Again mimicking Chompsky...

Surprised the guy doesn't like Bush since they seem to be on the same side.

the fourth tramp said...

"I can understand why someone would believe Kerry was smarter than Bush, but thinking a vapid male model like JFK was smartert than Nixon seems bizarre."



JFK vapid? What a vapid comment. I've heard countless anti-Kennedy comments but that's a first. Even the idealogical grandchildren of E. Howard Hunt would choose other adjectives.

Nobody who declares out loud he will "scatter the CIA to the winds" (knowing of what they are capable) could be described as vapid. Recklessly confident maybe.
He did things no president has done since, or would dare to, even questioning the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve, though there's some controversy over how far he intended to go on that course. Kennedy was the last president who had the guts to out and out fire advisors (no matter how high & mighty) for their bad advice. We know how that worked out for him, and no president since has attempted it to anywhere near the same extent. Indeed, they are more likely to reward bad advice, high crimes and treason. He had the moral sense to veto General LeMay's false flag scenario of blowing up an airline full of Americans (preferably students for maximum effect) and blame it on the Cubans. This was possibly the most corrupt plan by any faction of the American government up till that time. I suspect had one of the Bushes or the current potus been in office--or maybe even LBJ--Operation Northwoods would have proceeded. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/.

Bobby Kennedy, however, briefly thought it had potential. I think he changed after his brother's murder.

That Profiles in Courage was ghosted has been known for some time but at least it was about American leaders who had some real inspirational facility and not some ghosted belly-button gazing monologue on the color of his skin, like the opus of the current potus. Shows how far this country has fallen in term of what we expect people to be motivated by. JFK's reading list was pretty impressive, including at the top, "The Red and the Black" by Stendhal, as well as some classics. Also a big James Bond fan, but he knew that a lot of that was for real. When the Manchurian Candidate was being filmed he took a lively interest in the selection of the actors. That movie was delayed in release since it came out around the assassination.
He was a speed reader and could digest info quickly and accurately from all observers.

I do think Nixon may have been higher IQ. I know many people were struck by his strategic intelligence. He also, so like all the presidents after JFK, would not take the blame for having done anything wrong. He loved the trappings of the presidency, red carpet & all. Basically a narcissist, much like the current potus, only much, much smarter.


Kennedy frequently said he could be blown away, and knew the ruthlessness and bitterness of his enemies. How could he not? His father knew many of them personally, especially among the "Mob." On the afternoon of Nov. 22, the mob boss of New Orleans drank champaigne celebrating the double victory of winning his court battle to stay in the U.S. (he'd been "exiled" by Atty General RFK) and the death of the President.

Before you make anymore inaccurate statements about JFK, his era, and its various players, how about a glance at: "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters." http://www.amazon.com/JFK-Unspeakable-Why-Died-Matters/dp/1570757550.

Kennedy knew the risks in the life he'd chosen (or maybe his father chose for him) and didn't whine. Being stratospherically rich/powerful, and disastrously unhealthy, in danger, and in near constant pain, he was fond of the saying, "life isn't fair."

I wish more politicians would say that, with themselves in mind, and not their constituents.

Anonymous said...

"Kennedy was smarter than Nixon? Really? That news would have come as a surprise to Joe Kennedy Sr., who paid a lot of money to Ted Sorensen to ghostwrite Profiles in Courage for his son"

Steve, Profiles in Courage appeared in 1956, the mano-a-mano with Nixon was 4 years in the future....

ben tillman said...

Well, at least Kennedy never got involved in anything as stupid as the Watergate scandal that turned Nixon's life to crap.

As far as you know.

Why would you expect to be aware of it if Kennedy had done something like that?

Were the media intent on pushing him out of office? Did Kennedy get elected as a counter-revolutionary before the revolution had actually occurred? Was Kennedy elected in counterrevolutionary circumstances in which the involvement of a real outsider (George Wallace) made it necessary for the ruling elite to accept an unacceptable candidate as President -- and then scheme to evict him from office on the basis of a preposterous triviality (compared to the megacide committed by recent Presidents in Iraq and elsewhere)?

ben tillman said...

More broadly, I think Pinker is right that States have much lower violence rates than non-State societies.

Read what Mancur Olson has to say about "stationary bandits".

Anonymous said...

"So they keep believing things like Keynesian economics no matter how often it fails."


Keynesian economics works under specific conditions. So, if all the people who actually have a ton of money, started spending tons more of it to employ way more people, it would stimulate the economy. However, those people are not willing to do that. Keynesian spending doesn't work in the case of a debt ridden government borrowing even more money from folks who have it because the gov't has to pay the money back and pay interest. So, in our case the spend a thon can't work, but if the richest folks just started spending like crazy, it would stimulate and create jobs.

Anonymous said...

On a group IQ test taken in high school, Nixon had a global score of about 144 or so. When visiting one of the prestige universities in the UK, the social judgement of the professors who ushered him around and presumed him to be simply a "Yank Rotarian" was that Nixon appeared on the surface to be American "Main Street" but had a quickness and breadth of perception and a fund of general information on a par with them. Nixon's brainpower as a young Congressman permitted him to detect well before others that impressive Alger Hiss was lying and that eccentric Whittaker Chambers was telling the truth.

Catperson said...

Look at where the elites went to school and look at the average test scores of the people who went there.


Bush's IQ of 125 is only a bit lower than the Harvard average of 128. While it's true that the average SAT score at harvard equates to an IQ above 140, the SAT is a statistically biased measure of Harvard IQ because Harvard students were selected based largely on SAT scores.

When you select people based on high scores on one test, they will regress to the mean on every other test because part of what you were selecting for was exceptional luck, overachievement, and specialization on the first test. That's why many harvard students find they can't score high enough on the LSAT to get into harvard law even though their SAT scores are higher than most supreme court judges. The SAT simply overestimated their IQ. Half the students at harvard deserve to be there and the other half just got lucky on the SAT. Similarly, many people at
harvard law are surprised they couldn't get into harvard based on their SAT scores when their LSAT scores are good enough for harvard law. In the case of harvard law
students, the LSAT is the inflated test because it's the one they were selected on. If you want to know the average IQ of a group, you never use the test the group was selected with. This is a concept very few people grasp.


In the case of Bush, the SAT just happened to be the IQ score that got revealed, so assuming there was no selection bias in that leak, there's no reason to think Bush's SAT scores are higher than any other IQ score that might have been released, but with harvard students as a whole, they are by definition selected for high scores on one specific test.

Catperson said...

No, I haven't done an actual study of say, comparing Democratic Senators to Republican ones. But my impression is that liberal elites tend to be more credentialed, and thus smarter. I'm open to being proven wrong empirically. But this is the last place in the world I want to hear that standardized tests don't measure intelligence.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's lot harder to become elite without superior credentials, so the less credentialed elites are often smarter because they actually got to the top on their own merits instead of just coasting on a fancy degree. For example Nixon was looked down by the media for where he went to school, but he towered over the more credentialed Kennedy when it came to brain power.

Steve Sailer said...

A few things: the "intelligent" v. "intellectual" distinction is a red herring because Pinker repeatedly explicitly refers to Presidents' IQs, as guesstimated by Dean Simonton in 2006, a study that Pinker finds a lot more persuasive than I did. So, Wilson is correct to point to more direct evidence of IQ ignored by Simonton in favor of his judgment of the "integrative complexity" of samples of the Presidents' prose, which, in many cases, the President didn't write.

Second, this isn't an argument about how bright Bush was in an absolute sense, it is an argument about who bright Bush was relative to Kerry. There's a whole bunch of evidence that Kerry is bright enough, but was overrated because he's a liberal Democrat. For example, both went to Yale, where Bush's grades were very slightly higher. Then Bush got into Harvard for his professional degree (not by much apparently, judging by how happy his parents were in Oliver Stone's fairly reliable biopic "W" over the news). In contrast, Kerry, who was an antiwar celebrity already, had to get his professional degree at Boston College (University?) law school. One of his professors there remarked on the incongruity.

Finally, JFK was a helluva guy. I like him. But what did Nixon have over him other than cunning and health? Charm? Coordination? Wit? Wealth? Connections? Nixon had nothing. They had long seen each other as peers, rivals, and, to a certain extent, friends, and when they ran against each other in 1960, that was the voters's judgment too: overall, they were pretty comparable.

RKU said...

Catperson: For example Nixon was looked down by the media for where he went to school, but he towered over the more credentialed Kennedy when it came to brain power.

Yes, I'd say that's probably correct. I also remember reading somewhere that Nixon was actually accepted to Harvard, but had been unable to attend because his family couldn't afford the expense (I think one of his brothers had serious health problems). Meanwhile, the Kennedys were one of the wealthiest families in the country, roughly the equivalent of today's Bloombergs in relative ranking.

Catperson also made a very good point about the need for caution in accepting the validity of the implied IQ of test scores whose high one-off values may be somewhat distorted by threshold requirements.

Anonymous said...

Yes, according to his SAT score Bush was at the 95th percentile of IQ. But that's still pretty stupid for a president or a member of the elite.



I think it's safe to say that the average US President probably has an IQ which would put them at approx. the 95the percentile.


And it's highly likely that the average IQ of "the elite" is less than that. "The elite" are not people with Phd's in physics - they are people who have gained power and wealth by wheeling and dealing.

Anonymous said...

my impression is that liberal elites tend to be more credentialed, and thus smarter.


If you think that being more credentialed = smarter, then you're not intelligent enough to be having this discussion.

Anonymous said...

this is the last place in the world I want to hear that standardized tests don't measure intelligence.


There's nothing "standardized" about the American college experience. A students grades are a product of any number of factors, but a standardized test is not among them.

And standardized tests such as the SAT are a rough proxy for intelligence, they do not "measure" it.

Anonymous said...

"A gpa score and a pseudo-SAT test?"

Here's where you cite how its correlation to IQ is worse than the SAT's. With numbers. Or is that too hard, nancy?

Anonymous said...

One need not be an intellectual to be a successful politician.

Yes, success in politics is pretty clearly multi-factor, of which IQ is only one element. In "big five" psychological trait terms, a good politician would probably score high on extraversion and agreeableness, and low on neuroticism, along with having a decent but not necessarily sky-high IQ. In presidential politics it probably helps to have executive experience in running an organization.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Harvard lawyer Geoff Shepard persuasively argues in his book "The Secret Plot To Make Ted Kennedy President; Inside The Real Watergate Conspiracy" that Nixon was taken out by Ted Kennedy and his cohorts in the media

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Here is a link to the Nixon v Ted Kennedy book:

http://www.thesecretplot.com/thebook.html

Catperson said...

I think it's safe to say that the average US President probably has an IQ which would put them at approx. the 95the percentile.

If becoming the most powerful man on the planet only implies an IQ of 125, then we might as well throw our IQ tests in the garbage because they're not measuring intelligence. As i've said before, a distinction needs to be
made between self-made presidents like Nixon, Clinton, Carter, Reagan and Obama, and presidents who largely
inherited their power like bush II and Kennedy. The former
group probably has much higher IQ's than the latter group on average. I know folks here don't consider Obama self-made because of affirmative action or alleged CIA connections, but that sounds like sour grapes to me. Statistically it's actually harder to get to the top if you're black in America which is why blacks are 12% of the population but 0% of the US senate and only 0.25% of American billionaires.

Catperson said...

And it's highly likely that the average IQ of "the elite" is less than that. "The elite" are not people with Phd's in physics - they are people who have gained power and wealth by wheeling and dealing.

Intelligence did not evolve so we could get PhDs in physics. It evolved so we could dominate and outsmart other people and animals. In other words, gain power. So yes I would expect the elite to be quite smart.

Anonymous said...

I think Pinker is on to something, and I think too many readers around here want every question to be about sociobiology. It is not even possible to imagine Joe Biden and Hank Paulsen having a duel, beyond the fact that they are not personal enemies, and it has nothing to do with DNA.

Anonymous said...

“Democrats seem to have a few morons like Biden, but they generally went to Harvard or Yale”

Bias. Objectively, the Republican field in 2011 is (somewhat) better educated than the Democrat field in 2008. Let me score them:

A. Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law, failed Bar once).
A. B Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law, Affirmative Action.

B- Bill Richardson (Tufts B.A, Tufts Law)
B- Tom Vilsack (B.A Hamilton College, Albany Law JD)
B- Joe Biden (University of Delaware, Syracuse University Law)
B-. John Edwards (North Carolina State University B.A, University of North Carolina School of Law)

C Dennis Kucinich Case Western Reserve University (M.A)
C Chris Dodd (B.A Providence College)

Republicans:

A+. Newt Ginrich (Emory University (B.A., Tulane University PhD). Assistant Professor at University of West Georgia.

A. Mitt Romney (Brigham Young, Harvard MBA/JD)
A. Ron Paul (Gettysburg College B.S, Duke University MD)

B+. Tim Pawlenty (University of Minnesota B.A, University of Minnesota Law)
B+. Jon Huntsman (University of Pennsylvania B.A)

B- Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania State University BA, University of Pittsburgh MBA, Dickinson School of Law JD)
B- Herman Cain (Morehouse College B.A in math, Purdue University M.A, likely Affirmative Action)
B- Michele Bachman (Winona State University B.A, William & Mary School of Law LLM)

C Rick Perry (B.S Texas A&M University)

Of the bunch, the most intellectual one has to be Newt, slime of a human he may be. The only one with a PhD. He has written over 20 books. Like Steve he likes to write extensive reviews on Amazon, which suggests to me he actually writes some of the books himself.

We know from exit polls that the length of education of Republicans and Democrats is *identical*. Democrats have more at the extremes. However, Republicans earn more, and income is correlated with I.Q.

Academics are more likely to be Democrat. But the elites at the very top recruit from a deep pool, at the very top there is no difference in I.Q (witness that at the top, but not lower down the pyramid, there are plenty of Jewish republicans). Conservative thinkers have the advantage of being less constraint in their thinking by political correctness and thus more interesting. James Q Wilson and Pinker himself are good examples of this.

The general impression that Republicans are dumb is a media construc. They pick the really dumb ones like Palin and hammer the point.

Anonymous said...

Forgot

B John McCain (United States Naval Academy)

Catperson said...

Bush probably had an IQ 5 points higher than Kerry when they were teenagers, but 5 points lower than Kerry by the time they were 50. I read that alcohol takes about 10 points off your IQ over time so while Kerry probably stayed at the 90th percentile of his age group at both 17 and age 50, bush probably dropped from the 95th %ile to the 85%ile. But bush might never have really been at the 95%ile because he attended a very elite high school and came from a very elite family and that could have inflated his SAT scores. The SAT is far more sensitive to cultural upbringing then standard IQ tests so perhaps another 10 points can be deducted from bush's IQ which would bring him down to 105. And that's assuming bush even wrote the SAT himself. If we can believe bill ayers wrote obama's book, then why couldn't someone as rich, powerful, and entitled as bush get someone to write his SATs for him or get daddy to get the ETS to add a few points.


A rough and ready measure of bush's IQ might be the pop quiz an interviewer ambushed him with when he campaigned for president in 2000. Bush was aked to name world leaders in major hot spots and he could only name one. I doubt his performance on this brief quiz was commensurate with a 125 IQ. Anyoe who could be tricked into invading Iraq to protect Israel and destroying his and his family's legacy in the process, cant be too intelligent.

Catperson said...

Yes, success in politics is pretty clearly multi-factor, of which IQ is only one element. In "big five" psychological trait terms, a good politician would probably score high on extraversion and agreeableness, and low on neuroticism, along with having a decent but not necessarily sky-high IQ. In presidential politics it probably helps to have executive experience in running an organization.

In another thread we were also discussing how they would also score high on psychopathy assuming this is a real trait. On the other hand psychopaths are usually not successful, but this could be because most psychopaths are dumb. The ivy league psychopaths however might end up running the world.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

How can CASE WESTERN RESERVE get a "C"????

Are you kidding? Kucinich may be to the left of Obama but that hardly makes his alma mater the equivalent of Cal State Dominguez Hills.

*"Sour grapes" is not pointing out the fact that Obama - a man who was not remotely descended from African slaves and yet unethically benefited from Affirmative Action designed to redress past injustice to those slaves heirs- is really not all that "brilliant" after all.

Opportunistic Obama C-

Case Western Reserve A

Catperson said...

In my own unpublished informal research I found that leftwing extremists had above average IQs. I don't know if this means liberalism is a sign of high IQ or if political extremism is a sign of high IQ. Perhaps rightwing radicals have high IQs too.

Conservatives seem stupid because they seem to have a lot of primitive personality traits ( tribalism, religiosity, lack of compassion, fear of change, intolerance, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-capital punishment, anti-intellectual). They basically believe in the law of the jungle. So maybe people think they have primitive intellects too.They also want to protect inherited wealth which is almost anti-meritocratic.

On the other hand, rich people have strong incentives to vote conservative so all the rich conservatives raise the republican IQ. But among people of similar economic status, I suspect liberals are smarter. Weren't most of the greatest minds of all time considered liberal for their time?

Anonymous said...

The late, great Scottish anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith has a lot more intelligent things to say than Pinker on this subject.

Anonymous said...

If becoming the most powerful man on the planet only implies an IQ of 125, then we might as well throw our IQ tests in the garbage because they're not measuring intelligence.

IQ is only one aspect of personality. Because various tests can measure it with a degree of accuracy it can be overused in a looking-for-the-car-keys-under-the-street-lamp sort of way.

One can easily think of a math PhD with a sky-high IQ but who dislikes interacting with people, is prickly to deal with on a personal level, and becomes depressed when his obviously correct ideas are rejected. Just because he has a high IQ and can perhaps even recognize his weaknesses doesn't mean that he will actually overcome them. More likely he'll simply gravitate to another profession that doesn't require those traits.

Big Bill said...

Pinker's "commerce makes conflict obsolete" is just recycled Israeli neo-con hooey. We got the sane line of BS from that Jewish Israeli guy, Natan Sharansky, when he and his pals were prepping us for the Iraq invasion.

Sharansky wrote a book preaching his "democracy makes conflict obsolete" bushwa in order to get us fired up to conquer the world for Truth, Justice, and the American Way (or "invade the world" as Steve puts it).

Pinker is preaching economic and national surrender ("commerce makes conflict obsolete" aka Open Borders, aka globalism) to complete our destruction (or "invite the world" as Steve puts it).

Pinker is a member of the cognitive elite. He would rather invite some bright Oompa-Loompa to Harvard than your kids, and he would rather ship your jobs to China and India where they can be done much cheaper. It's better and more profit maximizing for The American Economy", the rulers of which he faithfully serves. And once you, like he, define "American" as "whoever happens to be within the borders of the US at any given instant in time" he is absolutely right!

Rain And said...

"A few things: the "intelligent" v. "intellectual" distinction is a red herring because Pinker repeatedly explicitly refers to Presidents' IQs, as guesstimated by Dean Simonton in 2006, a study that Pinker finds a lot more persuasive than I did"

Where? In the new book? The only red herring I see is Pinker called Bush "unintellectual" in his book and Wilson started arguing about IQ.

Neither Simonton or Pinker argued that Bush had a low IQ.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives seem stupid because they seem to have a lot of primitive personality traits ( tribalism, religiosity, lack of compassion, fear of change, intolerance, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-capital punishment, anti-intellectual).



You don't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer. To pick one problem at random from your screed, those conservatives with their "lack of compassion" actually give far more to charity than do liberals.


On the other hand, rich people have strong incentives to vote conservative so all the rich conservatives raise the republican IQ.


More left-wing boilerplate. In fact the richest Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats.


Weren't most of the greatest minds of all time considered liberal for their time?

Ha ha. Sure, Archimedes and Newton were considered "liberal for their time"!

Anonymous said...

If becoming the most powerful man on the planet only implies an IQ of 125, then we might as well throw our IQ tests in the garbage because they're not measuring intelligence.


That makes no sense, Catperson. Though that seems to be a recurring theme with you ...

You seem to think that "the most powerful person on the planet" must be a person of superlative intelligence. Why? Of all the things which lead to being "the most powerful person on the planet", intelligence is of only middling importance.

I'd expect "the most powerful person on the planet" to have higher than average IQ (say, 125) but not genius level IQ, because people with genius level IQ do not go down the "power" track, they wind up in some laboratory trying to discover new sub-atomic particles.

No, "the most powerful person on the planet" would be somebody with about 120-130 IQ plus exceptional social skills, charisma, and ruthlessness.

Anonymous said...

Bush probably had an IQ 5 points higher than Kerry when they were teenagers, but 5 points lower than Kerry by the time they were 50. I read that alcohol takes about 10 points off your IQ over time so while Kerry probably stayed at the 90th percentile of his age group at both 17 and age 50, bush probably dropped from the 95th %ile to the 85%ile.



We don't see too many Kossacks here at iSteve. Stick around and maybe you'll learn something for a change.

For starters, you read wrong if you read that "alcohol takes about 10 points off your IQ over time"

Anonymous said...

How very convenient and simple: Two Conservative writers (you and Mr. Wilson) claim that a conservative president is smarter than a dooshbag Liberal like John Kerry... based on what exactly?

A gpa score and a pseudo-SAT test?

That's it?

I would say that's a little flimsy and very much in keeping with people like you who very much need to feel like you can "master" the human race, that you can understand someone with just the flimsiest of clues.

I don't know if Kerry is smarter but what I do know is that I enjoy hearing him speak (much more than Barrack Obama, for example.) I also that Bush sounds borderline retarded when speaking publicly.




So, you think that "a gpa score and a pseudo-SAT test" are too darn flimsy to be taken seriously as evidence of intelligence, and you much prefer your own measure of intelligence, which is .... "Who do I enjoy listening to the most?"


Behold the mighty liberal brain at work, and despair!

G Joubert said...

Statistically it's actually harder to get to the top if you're black in America which is why blacks are 12% of the population but 0% of the US senate and only 0.25% of American billionaires.

Your error is in automatically presuming without questioning the prevalent existence of external social forces which prevent black socio-economic ascendency, without consideration of internal explanations. It can be presumed that there are some external factors at work restraining black ascendency, but these restraints have diminished significantly in time, to the point that now there is no real macro sociological mechanation (e.g., white racism) keeping blacks in their permanent underclass status. It seems apparent that there are significant other factors --factors internal to blacks or to black subculture-- at work. IQ? I don't know, because IQ scores are actually quite fluid amongst groups situationally. Black IQs might be suppressed for the same reasons, by the same forces, holding blacks back generally. I'd suggest that the black subculture which has evolved does not value traditional education, does not reinforce it in their youth, and in fact pointedly rejects it, as being "too white." I'd be looking at that.

Kylie said...

"Conservatives seem stupid because they seem to have a lot of primitive personality traits ( tribalism, religiosity, lack of compassion, fear of change, intolerance, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-capital punishment, anti-intellectual)."

Since when are being pro-war, pro-torture and pro-capital punishment "personality traits"?

Having a primitive notion of what words mean also makes a [cat]person seem stupid.

Apparently, the only word you really understand is "agenda".

dogz rule said...

"But among people of similar economic status, I suspect liberals are smarter. Weren't most of the greatest minds of all time considered liberal for their time?"

Sorry, Catperson, what you are noticing is probably greater verbal fluency which would correlate with more emotional rather than logical processing. Sort of what you described, eh?

And trust me, when I was down in the trenches, I was always much smarter than my liberal counterparts who nevertheless outpaced me in coolness: trendy haircuts, fashionable clothes, albums from all the right groups, oh my!

In fact, an honest researcher might discover a connection between precocious verbosity and narcissism and melodrama. When young these creatures are the center of the drama; when older they are heroes rescuing some deserving yet helpless/hapless victim from those more laconic analytical types and reality.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Boston College Law is for two-toilet Irish in Boston to get their JD and become Triple Eagles (Boston College High School, Boston College, Boston College Law). It's a serious come-down for a Yalie.

Do yourself a favor and don't make the mistake of confusing Boston College and Boston University to an alum of either. It's the New England equivalent of saying USC/UCLA, what's the difference!

Finally, the idiot commenting on Herman Cain's bona fides as being a B-. I don't think there's much AA at Morehouse (it's a black college!) with a masters in computer science from Purdue and ballistics work for the Navy is more impressive to me than Perry, Romney and Huntsman put together.

Which do you think contained more intellectual rigor, Romney's "No Apologies" book or Cain's "The Intangibles of Inplementation" for the Institution of Operations Research and the Management Sciences?

Anonymous said...

Some readers of these comments might find interesting the really expert
"IQ estimates" made of historical figures by Lewis Terman's student,
Catherine Cox. (Old country boy Abe Lincoln with an estimated global IQ of 150, e.g. ).
***************************
Too, an IQ score is just a shorthand notation of a score range. At the
85% confidence level (i.e.. at odds of 7 to l ) it can be said only that the odds are 7 to 1 that the "true score" is higher than IQ
*** and lower than IQ ***. This is most meaningful at percentile levels---thus the odds are 7 to 1 that Johnny's true underlying ability exceeds ** out of 100 kids his age and that it is exceeded by ** out of 100 kids his age. The exclamation often is--"hey, that's quite a gap!". Single IQ scores are just an implication of stop watch precison fostered by the larcenous publisher world of IQ test marketing. The actual precision is sundial--not stopwatch. Sundials were a helluva advance and at their best are still useful for many practical purposes--like male "staying power" here in West Texas bedrooms.
*****************************
In the chair in the Oval/Oral
Office, your IQ is the average that can be calculated from the size of the IQ's of those who jump to your aid when you yell for help. There is some real strength behind all the up-front Circus.

Anonymous said...

re Nixon "on a group IQ test taken in high school" and Kennedy and Nixon about equal
******************
Expectancy table inferences are inevitable re IQ. Thus, most people liking the inane "mood music" that Nixon preferred are distinctly less able intellectually than those who appreciate classical music. But it all is just a matter of the odds--given THIS, then it is **% likely THAT is true. Nixon appears to have been an example of a number of very bright people who devote themselves to narrow and blunted art--a kind of willful vulgarization of emotions--a desire to "downsize" their emotions in the service of their guard dog intellects

Anonymous said...

How many people hit it out of the ball park on a standardized test and get in to a top college by fluke? I took to the LSAT ten times and fell between the 98th and 99th percentile every time.

Anonymous said...

The tendency of the highly educated to vote for the left is not general, its unique to the U.S, and even here unique to recent history. Bush in 1988 got most of the educated vote.

I have detailed data regarding military I.Q test scores in a Scandinavian country, and the right has far higher I.Q.
Granted the right in Scandinavia is to the left of the right in the U.S, but they are still more pro-war, anti-crime, pro-tradition, anti-immigration, pro-market etc. than the Scandinavian left.

This is actual test scores, not the guesswork that democrats in the U.S rely on.

Anonymous said...

They also want to protect inherited wealth which is almost anti-meritocratic.

Tangent: I think I enjoyed a counterargument to this by Robin Hanson:

- We can gift money to ourselves in the future
- Generally people decline in cognitive capabilities and ability to work as they age
- Therefore, allowing people to save for their old age is anti-meritocratic.

Of course, no one sees it like this. Although maybe there are some "Logan's Run Liberals" that do.

Future selves and children (and relatives) are both imperfect continuations of your self. If gifting money to one is not "anti-meritocratic" why is gifting money to the other?

I think there is Liberal emphasis on the separateness of persons between children and parents (and people and relatives) which is somewhat false in light of the influence of genes and secondarily culture upon a person, which Conservatives tend to buy into less.

Lots of Liberalism at present "It's OK to be somewhat selfish (with regards to money, concern for pleasure, concern for autonomy) for "yourself" as an "individual", and it's good to be universalist otherwise, but being selfish in the above ways towards your extended phenotype (read, family, race, &c.) is really bad!". But this is totally reliant on this false self concept.

Liberals should read more Buddhism and learn to deconstruct their selves somewhat...

Which I think is a good example of why Liberalism being associated with higher IQ is not really the be all and end all. Sometimes people think one thing, then smarter people think another thing, and then smarter still people go back to the first thing, and so on into, potentially, infinity.

Dahlia said...

Catperson,

I believe you are mostly correct, but I think it is more accurate to say, speaking only to your examples and thrust, that smarter people take things to their logical conclusions faster and more easily than "dumb conservatives".

For example, Protestantism is inherently liberal because it is individualist-based, yet, we have Evangelical Christians who are quite "conservative". Given enough time or intelligence, the liberal position has always and will always win because it comports more with the foundational beliefs.
And so it will be with most of today's Evangelicals. It's truly shocking to personally have seen many, just since the '90s, corrupted or fold up like cheap lawn chairs.

With the Catholics, it's the opposite. Even more than ethnicity, I think this factor goes more toward explaining why they dominate the conservative side of the Supreme Court.

Relatedly, I do think smarter people are more likely to come up with new thoughts regardless of religious and political beliefs.

Catperson said...

How many people hit it out of the ball park on a standardized test and get in to a top college by fluke?

Most of the students at top colleges are there by fluke. That's not to deny that they are very bright, but the genius level scores they got on their admission tests overestimate their true ability.


I took to the LSAT ten times and fell between the 98th and 99th percentile every time.

You're confusing a tests internal reliability with it's external validity. It's not surprising that you can consistently score high on the LSAT because the LSAT probably has near perfect reliability, but that doesn't mean you could score equally high on a totally different IQ test like the WAIS-IV. For example harvard students have an IQ around 143 when measured by the SAT but in a study where they given an abbreviated version of the Wechsler scales, they only scored around 130. This is because no standardized test is a perfect measure of intelligence; they also measure luck and test specificity, so people selected for extreme scores on one test regress to the mean on another.

Anonymous said...

The tendency of the highly educated to vote for the left is not general, its unique to the U.S, and even here unique to recent history.


It's dubious to even say that the "highly educated vote for the left".

Voting patterns in education mimic voting patterns in income levels.The richest Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, and so are the poorest Americans.

Looking at the national exit polls from the 2010 elections, the Democrats won the votes of those with post-graduate degrees by 53% to 45%. They also won the votes of those without a high-school diploma by 57% to 36%.

Republicans won all the categories in between - HS graduates, those with some college, and those with a four years degree.

If we insist on using level of education as a proxy for intelligence, then we should say that the left gets its votes from both the smartest and the most stupid segments of society.

Given that the number of people without a HS diploma is a lot larger than the number of people with a post-grad degree, the average Democrat voter is probably less intelligent than the average Republicans voter.

(But in fact the trends are very "soft". You cannnot predict how a person will vote with any degree of accuracy based on their level of education)

You get the same results if you look at the IQ's of the different ethnic groups. Democrats get the votes of Jews, blacks, and Hispanics. The average IQ of these combined groups is less than the white average.


Intelligence is a relatively poor predictor of probable voting behavior. The most reliable predictors are race, ethnicity, and religion.

Catperson said...

I have detailed data regarding military I.Q test scores in a Scandinavian country, and the right has far higher I.Q.
Granted the right in Scandinavia is to the left of the right in the U.S, but they are still more pro-war, anti-crime, pro-tradition, anti-immigration, pro-market etc. than the Scandinavian left.


If what you're saying is true, that's significant. I always assumed that liberals had higher IQs all over the world because liberalism was just intrinsically more enlightened, however if high IQ liberals are a uniquely American phenomenon, then that suggests that Jewish influence, which is most pronounced in the U.S. might have brainwashed a lot of American intellectuals into embracing liberalism. I always assumed high IQ whites were liberal because they were intelligent enough to resist their primitive tribal instincts, but in actuality they might be manipulated into serving the tribal instincts of higher IQ Jews who empower themselves by making sure whites are less tribal.

Anonymous said...

Statistically it's actually harder to get to the top if you're black in America which is why blacks are 12% of the population but 0% of the US senate


It probably is "harder to get to the top if you're black in America" (or in any other non-black country), but you really should unpack that statement a little.

All else being equal, a high-IQ black person in America has a leg-up on a white person with the same IQ. The paucity of high achieving blacks has more to do with the fact that there are so few high-IQ blacks than with anything else.

Anonymous said...

Intelligence did not evolve so we could get PhDs in physics. It evolved so we could dominate and outsmart other people and animals. In other words, gain power. So yes I would expect the elite to be quite smart.


I would expect them to be "quite smart" also. But not "quite smart" in the sense that is measured by IQ tests. There is no section in the Wechsler tests which measures your ability to dominate and outsmart other people or animals. IQ tests do not and cannot measure those sorts of social skills.

Catperson said...

You seem to think that "the most powerful person on the planet" must be a person of superlative intelligence. Why?

because intelligence is the mental ability to adapt, to problem solve, to use the environment to your advantage; so smart people should end up on top. Whose the smartest animal on the planet? Humans. Whose the most powerful animal on the planet? Humans. Among humans, high IQ Jews dominate average IQ whites who enslaved low IQ west Africans who enslaved very low IQ pygmies. Intelligence is the most empowering trait, that's why it's increased so much through the course of evolution.

So it's perfectly natural to expect the super powerful to be supersmart. Not in every case but on average.

Anonymous said...

For example harvard students have an IQ around 143 when measured by the SAT but in a study where they given an abbreviated version of the Wechsler scales, they only scored around 130. This is because no standardized test is a perfect measure of intelligence; they also measure luck and test specificity, so people selected for extreme scores on one test regress to the mean on another.

This is a good reason to not rely on a single standardized exam for college admissions, but instead many.

The single format standardized exam increases the utility of test gaming. If everyone uses the SAT for admissions then test takers have a high payoff for studying SAT exam-taking strategies, which have limited utility as a life skill. If there where 40 different exams studying to any one exam becomes less valuable.

Anonymous said...

“The richest Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, and so are the poorest Americans.”

That is not true, at least unless you are talking about billionaires (for which there is not data I am aware of). In 2010, 64% of people earning more than $200.000 voted Republican.

American voting patterns are complex. Those post-graduates who vote Democrats tend to be low earning ones, such as teachers and nurses.

TGGP said...

I think Pinker's argument applies to boht interpersonal and military violence. I have heard him discuss the decline of both interstate war and civil war.

Whiskey, I know a woman who is taller than a man. So men are not taller than women.
Per capita economic stats for Turkey & Iran. According to Wikipedia the intentional homicide rate in Turkey dropped from 10.0 per 100000 in 2000 to 3.8 in 2008. Iran has fewer figures, 2.6 in 2003 and 2.9 in 2004. Egypt has gone up from 0.4 in 2003 to 0.8 in 2008. Pakistan was 6.9 in 2000 and 6.8 in 2008.

TGGP said...

The Wikipedia page I was working off of is here.

Anonymous said...

Here is publicly available data on education:

Daniel B Klein has shown that in Sweden, academics are actually more likely to vote for the (socially moderate) right.

Here is voting data from 2006 for Sweden. The higher education, the more people vote for the right. Those with PhD went 61% for the right.

http://www.scb.se/statistik/_publikationer/ME0106_2006A01_BR_00_ME04BR0801.pdf

Catperson said...

I would expect them to be "quite smart" also. But not "quite smart" in the sense that is measured by IQ tests. There is no section in the Wechsler tests which measures your ability to dominate and outsmart other people or animals. IQ tests do not and cannot measure those sorts of social skills.

IQ tests are just a sample of your intelligence, so if you are good at the abilities measured on IQ tests, you will also tend to be good at the abilities not measured like social cognition, musical aptitude, artistic talents etc. Also IQ tests measure g and high g people have little difficulty acquiring any complex nuanced mental skill like interpersonal reasoning unless they have some kind of social learning disability like autism.

Catperson said...

This is a good reason to not rely on a single standardized exam for college admissions, but instead many.

We shouldn't rely on any exam for college admission, it should be based entirely on grades. High IQ people should get ahead in society because they have high high IQs and not because they have high scores on iQ tests.

Catperson said...

Post grads and high school dropouts probably both vote democrat perhaps because both are dependent on the government. High school dropouts are on welfare and post grads work for government funded universities/research labs. Also post grads vote democrat because they are bitter that less educated people they look down on make more money than they do and are furiously hoping the government will raise the taxes of these rich philistines.

James Kabala said...

Since someone stuck up for Case Western Reserve, I might as well stick up for Providence College. which is at least as good as several of the other schools mentioned - maybe less so in the 1960s when Dodd went there. Dodd's J.D. is from the University of Louisville - no idea where that ranks - didn't even know it existed until I checked Wikipedia.

James Kabala said...

Clarification - I heard of the University of Louisville; I meant I didn't know they had a law school.

David Davenport said...

Conservatives seem stupid because they seem to have a lot of primitive personality traits ( tribalism, religiosity, lack of compassion, fear of change, intolerance, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-capital punishment, anti-intellectual)

Young lady, I wonder if you are an actual college sophomore.

Left liberals aren't tribal or intolerant of conservative opinion or afraid of change -- that is,change from the current cant?

Pro-war? Are you confident that pacifism has Darwinian survival value?

Pro capital punishment? Oh boo hoo hoo, the horror of it all.

Was Issac Newton anti-intellectual? He was quite conservative politically, as well as being firmly Protestant.

David Davenport said...

High IQ people should get ahead in society because they have high high IQs and not because they have high scores on iQ tests.

I take it that you haven't scored too well on "iQ" tests.

David Davenport said...

Post grads and high school dropouts probably both vote democrat perhaps because both are dependent on the government. High school dropouts are on welfare and post grads work for government funded universities/research labs.

Catperson, that remark, on the other hand, is clever.

One thing that many "conservatives" don't realize is that private enterprise, outside the mil-industrial complex, is doing less and less R & D.

Save the James Webb Space Telescope and the Senate Launch System!

Anonymous said...

That is not true, at least unless you are talking about billionaires

That is who I'm talking about.

(for which there is not data I am aware of)

It's out there. Go to Open Secrets and have a look at the people who make million dollar donations. Do some digging into the political affiliations of Fortune 500 CEO's. It's always been the case that the richest Americans support the Democratic Party.

Anonymous said...

Post grads and high school dropouts probably both vote democrat perhaps because both are dependent on the government.

No doubt. But your assertion was that liberalism was the natural home of intelligent people, unlike conservatism and its attraction to dumb people.

So now that it has been pointed out to you that (1) people with post-grad degrees split their votes close to 50-50 and (2) the least intelligent people tend to vote liberal, I'm expecting you to say something intelligent for a change - something like "I was wrong".

Catperson said...

All else being equal, a high-IQ black person in America has a leg-up on a white person with the same IQ. The paucity of high achieving blacks has more to do with the fact that there are so few high-IQ blacks than with anything else.

I agree that low IQ is the primary reason there are so few rich and powerful blacks, but it's probably not the only reason. The book "the bell curve" looked at blacks and whites with IQs of 100 and found that when IQ was equated, blacks and whites made identical wages. What this tells us is that there is still racism against blacks, but because of affirmative action, blacks with descent IQs can get treated fairly. So this notion that affirmative action is giving the blacks a free ride is incorrect. Affirmative action is simply protecting blacks from racism in the work place and allowing them to get the same opportunities as whites get.

Kylie said...

"... intelligence is the mental ability to adapt, to problem solve, to use the environment to your advantage; so smart people should end up on top."

No, that is one kind of intelligence. There are others.

You are starting from a false premise. No surprise there, as your intelligent comments seem to depend less on your having a smart brain and more on the blind hogs and acorns principle of discovery.

Anonymous said...

high IQ Jews dominate average IQ whites who enslaved low IQ west Africans who enslaved very low IQ pygmies. Intelligence is the most empowering trait, that's why it's increased so much through the course of evolution.


It's news to me that "high IQ Jews dominate average IQ whites", and it's interesting that you do not mention Asians at all in your domination pyramid. Of course, "average IQ whites" have dominated the world - including Asians and Jews - for the past several hundred years.

Anonymous said...

10/04/11 11:19
Jews in the US have a remarkably high average IQ level that is congruent with the huge overrepresentation of them in attainments in major domains of science and the arts. A "whispered" feature of Jewish IQ
testing is the remarkable gap within the Jewish population of high verbal IQ and relatively low performance IQ. The insensitive and socailly impermissible reference (as in some Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, etc. ) to Jews as "verbal engineers" does reflect an underlying reality that if more adquately ackowledged would take the voltage out of cocktail slanders.

Catperson said...

No, that is one kind of intelligence. There are others.

No, there is only one intelligence:the mental ability to adapt. You can have the verbal skills of shakespeare, the math skills of newton and the musical skills of Mozart and none of it means you are intelligent unless you can figure out away to use those talents to your advantage. Intelligence is the mental capacity for goal directed adaptive behavior. The ability to take whatever problem you have and figure out away to solve it.

There are many different parts of intelligence, many different intellectual abilities, but only behavioral adaptations are the essence of intelligence.

ben tillman said...

Anonymous at 10/3/11 2:38 PM:

You need to comment more.

Q said...

IQ tests are just a sample of your intelligence, so if you are good at the abilities measured on IQ tests, you will also tend to be good at the abilities not measured like social cognition, musical aptitude, artistic talents etc.

That's patently untrue. At least, it's patently untrue in real life. You seem to live in your own little theoretical world where real life rarely intrudes.

John Lennon was a genius, in music. In intellectual terms, he failed all his O-levels and needed some strings pulled to get into art school. Once there, he flunked some more exams and was finally expelled.

This is not an uncommon background among notable musicians. Brian May, who has a doctrate in astrophysics, is very much the exception to the rule in the musical world.

Q said...

Jews in the US have a remarkably high average IQ


No, they do not. Nobody knows exactly what the average Jewish IQ in America is - in fact the definition of what constitutes an "American Jew" is pretty vague - but the figure 115 is often bandied about. And that's not "remarkably high".


A "whispered" feature of Jewish IQ testing is the remarkable gap within the Jewish population of high verbal IQ and relatively low performance IQ.


I keep hearing about this tremendous "verbal IQ" which Jews are supposed to possess, but I never see any examples of it. Jews make up a disproportionate share of the pundit class, but it is hard to see quite why. (other than that are are hired because they are Jews)

I can't say that I've ever been blown away by the exceptional "verbal IQ" of Erza Klein or Jonah Goldberg or Charles Krauthammer or (insert name of Jewish talking head of your choice). I think we all understand why Steve Sailer does not have a well paying gig with a respected media outlet, and it's not because of his inadequate "verbal IQ".

Q said...

there is only one intelligence:the mental ability to adapt. You can have the verbal skills of shakespeare, the math skills of newton and the musical skills of Mozart and none of it means you are intelligent unless you can figure out away to use those talents to your advantage.


None of those things are measured very well by IQ tests. Two of them - musical skills and the ability to "figure out away{sic} to use those talents to your advantage" - are not measured at all by IQ tests.

Don't worry, I'll keep pointing this out until it gets through to you.

Anonymous said...

The capacity to adapt is heavily dependent basically on emotional and character qualities and physical health and physical strength, etc. The best selection program using tests and assessments would be to assess people from the ears on down and THEN discriminate on the basis of
general mental ability. Response contingent testing, while presenting challenges to the determination of testing reliability, would be ideal for this sort of testing/assessment.

Anonymous said...

The use of a specific IQ scores--a kind of spurious wrist watch precision to measurement system that approaches sundial crudity--in rare instances can be off the mark completely. The late Hans Eysenck, arguably the greatest psychologist of the 20th century, personally observed and interacted with a reliably measured borderline male retardate who ran a real estate sales business that yielded a respectable and honest income and who interacted with customers in a way that was productive. Eysenck detected some partial explanations for the guy's success--e.g., his bright and faithful wife worked quietly (in UK fashion) beside him, etc. Yet the final verdict was that an explanation remained cloaked in Nature's mysteries.

Anonymous said...

Mental testing is a domain that always should have had , in the interest of American national security, a large public/government sector to complement and support the purely free enterprise functions of major American test publishers. For example, the subtests that make up individually administered IQ tests can usefully be compared for ipsative measurement--i.e, showing the examinee's strengths and weaknesses relavant to an overall IQ score range. But to do this with testing "safety engineering" against misunderstanding and voodoo conjectures, would require expectancy tables for determning subtest variation (where it actually exists ). The standardization population ( that costs publishers about $100 per capita! ) would have to be 10 times larger than what is conventionally used. Bankers don't like stuff like that. Scientists do. The same issue pertains to bringing into widespred use of choice reaction measurement, Inspection Time measurement, sociometric measurement merged with mental testing, etc. The British, with meagre public resources during post WW II, nonetheless did this for a while and at the encouragement of Sir Cyril Burt.
It has nothing to do with any place on the political spectrum, but with having genuine leadership in a nation.

Anonymous said...

"I keep hearing about the tremendous verbal IQ of Jews"
*************************************
In psychometrics and psychology generally overwhelming evidence buttresses the social assessment about Jews--as a whole, they are a helluva bright people. Their overall average group IQ in America is in harmony with the very disproportionate successes they have in the arts, in science, in business, etc.

Part of our American "whisper" world is that overall the Jewish group disparity between Verbal IQ and Performance IQ is quite pronounced. The anti-Semitic flavored quip that the world of lawyers (in the US, anyhow) is one of "Jewish engineering" is an insensitive and regrettable encapsulation of a larger and more complex truth.

Anonymous said...

"There is only one intelligence..the ability to adapt"
********************************'
(1) Folks adapt much much better if they get where they belong and stay away from where they don't belong--and a lot of that navigation has to do with emotions, physical appearance, social class conditioning
(2)What we know about "g" is from group averages. Heritability level of , say, 80% of variance being (crudely stated) Nature rather than Nurture---is a group average that does not belie that some people may be far more nearly "Blank Slate" than others.
(3) Hart Crane and Erskine Caldwell are two fine examples of people with only above average IQs who had outstanding splinter abilities and created art of enduring value--Crane perhaps moreso than Erskine Caldwell (?)
Crane may be a very rare example of someone whose mental disorders directly aided his poetry, while almost always disorders that are active rather than latent, detract from about every human endeavor.

Catperson said...

*Folks adapt much much better if they get where they belong and stay away from where they don't belong--and a lot of that navigation has to do with emotions, physical appearance, social class conditioning

Well if you have inferior emotions, inferior looks, and inferior social class, then you need far more intelligence to adapt your environment to your advantage. That's why an ugly low class emotionally impaired man like Nixon needed an IQ of 143 to get to the top while a good looking, high class emotionally gifted man like Kennedy needed only an IQ of 119 to get to the top. Kennedy did not need to be as cognitively adaptable because he was already socially, physically and temperamentally adapted to his environment. Nixon was not so Nixon had a more challenging problem to solve and thus needed more cognitive adaptability.

Catperson said...

None of those things are measured very well by IQ tests. Two of them - musical skills and the ability to "figure out away{sic} to use those talents to your advantage" - are not measured at all by IQ tests.

The cognitive ability to adapt your environment to your advantage is indeed measured by IQ tests. Notice how the lowest IQraces never developed agriculture or domestication of animals; that's a classic example of adapting your environment to your advantage. And look at the adaptability of the highest IQ race of all: Ashkenazi Jews. Their adaptability is seen by the fact that despite having an extremely tiny and resented global population, they control vast sums of wealth and influence, and have brilliantly manipulated the world's only super power into fighting all their battles in the middle east(I.e. Iraq). look at how pygmies are slaves to higher IQ bantus who were slaves to higher IQ caucasoids. Being able to use objects (stone weapons), plants (agriculture) people (slaves) or event countries (israel's influence over US foreign policy) as a tool to your advantage is that ultimate evolutionary adaptation and the essence of intelligence.

Catperson said...

John Lennon was a genius, in music. In intellectual terms, he failed all his O-levels and needed some strings pulled to get into art school. Once there, he flunked some more exams and was finally expelled.


I don't know what John lennon's IQ was, but the reason IQ tests don't measure musical aptitude, is because musical aptitude contributes very little to ones cognitive ability to adapt, which is why most parents want their kids to be a doctor or a lawyer and not to join a band. Parents know that the odds of adapting to the environment are much greater if you make use of more g loaded talents. Even the most successful music stars like john Lennon, Elvis and Michael Jackson often die very young showing that their ability to adapt their environment to their advantage is short-lived.


It's not possible on an IQ test to measure all of intelligence, so you simply sample the most representative chunks of the brain like verbal and spatial ability. Analagously, if you were sampling world opinion, there's no time to sample every country, so you would sample the largest most representative countries like India and china.

Anonymous said...

The sense of "two intelligences" within one person is sometimes seen in correlation between low verbal IQ on tests like vocabulary, abstract verbal analogies, etc, and high performance IQ on tests like block design, seeing what's missing in pictures, etc. It is not uncommon to find florid psychopaths having this sort of bifurcation. They can do all manner of things well but lack understanding of the "why" and "when" and "where" of it all. Of course, a bubble world like the U.S. Congress seems at times almost shaped to provide a utopia for such "survivors".