June 19, 2012

Kanazawa on the disadvantages of intelligence

I admire Satoshi Kanazawa's lively intelligence, although I'm not totally persuaded to trust every idea he comes up with. From The Economist:
... less intelligent people are better at doing most things. In the ancestral environment general intelligence was helpful only for solving a handful of evolutionarily novel problems. 

I look out my window and see mourning doves and crows. The doves seem pretty stupid and the crows appear smarter. Presumably, they both have their evolutionary advantages and disadvantages. Still, it took a lot of natural selection just to get up to being as smart as a dove -- try building a robot bird. 

86 comments:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Better to say that added intelligence only enhances survival in some circumstances, and other characteristics - sociability, aggression, strength, speed, deception - may be more important for some problems.

As an analogy, in basketball it is better to be tall, but the tallest players are not always the best.

Aaron B. said...

That's the kind of claim only a smart person could afford to make. If you're smart, and you've spent most of your life around smart people (which is usually the case), you may never have watched someone of average or sub-average intelligence struggle with tasks that seem trivial to you. Intelligence helps with everything; that's why it correlates with success in everything from marriage to money-making.

Yes, high intelligence can become a handicap in certain situations, just as great beauty can. But no one would choose to be mentally slow, any more than anyone would choose to be ugly. Only someone with IQ points to spare could imagine otherwise.

Kylie said...

"The doves seem pretty stupid and the crows appear smarter. Presumably, they both have their evolutionary advantages and disadvantages."

The mourning dove has the disadvantage of being slow on "take off" but that is offset by the advantage of having loosely attached tail feathers. When it is caught by the tail by a predator, the feathers often simply detach, allowing the dove to make a safe getaway.

RKU said...

Actually, Kanazawa's argument isn't so totally ridiculous an idea as it might seem.

For example, it appears that human intelligence is determined by a very large number of genes of fairly small effect, hence is Gaussian. Now if intelligence had really been subject to strong selective pressure over the last few thousand years, you'd expect the smarter genes to mostly have fixated and the dumber genes to mostly have disappeared. But that doesn't seem to be the case. It certainly may be somewhat true for particular populations under particular circumstances, but probably not correct in general.

The basic argument is that traits which are subject to strong selective pressure tend to rapidly shift away from a Gaussian distribution.

Also, let's look at a simple historical example. I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the ancient Athenians were *enormously* smarter than almost any current group given how much they created from such a tiny population base. So if intelligence were so beneficial, why didn't they dominate the entire ancient world and become the ancestors of most of current humanity? And if very high intelligence didn't help them, why exactly are we so sure it would have helped various other groups? Offhand, it's really not clear to me that average people from a few thousand years ago were any smarter or dumber than average people today. It might be true, but then again it might not.

Catperson said...

A lot of people would define intelligence as the ability to use behavior to your advantage so the notion of intelligence being disadvantageous seems pretty oxymoronic, and as Jensen pointed out, given all the disadvantages and metabolic and birthing expenses of having a large brain and head, the advantages of intelligence would have to be large indeed to negate them to the point that natural selection tripled brain size in just 3 million years.

On the other hand brain size did decline post-agriculture. Maybe selection pressure for intelligence relaxed once there was enough food for everyone or maybe falling brain size reflected nothing more than declining overall body size or maybe both declined because agriculture in less nutriious and both have been rising since the 19th century (flynn effect)

Douglas Knight said...

The fact that we are this smart and not smarter means that smarter people are not as "fit" - worse overall at life and reproduction in the ancestral environment.

But what, exactly is the cost? Some candidates: (1) more calories; (2) more genes to keep from mutating; (3) longer maturation period. Under those scenarios, intelligence need not detract from any particular activity to reduce fitness. Or maybe it does detract from some activities.

Anonymous said...

Andrea Mitchell = Pravda

Algernonymous said...

I'd also note that pigs & dolphins haven't teamed up to take over the Middle East yet

Anonymous said...

http://diversityischaos.blogspot.com/2012/06/international-team-of-scientists-has.html

Anonymous said...

Among gumbas, it helps to be a gumba than a genius.

Anonymous said...

In highschool, jocks and gumbas have a funner time than smarties but then, high school isn't all that demanding for most kids.

Jehu said...

Looked at from an animal husbandry/evolution point of view, high intelligence is a disadvantage in societies rich enough to affair a significant welfare state in the only metric that frame actually counts---number of offspring. If you want to nullify that disadvantage statistically, you need to invest in fairly hardcore religiousity. For more on this see some of the inductivist and anepigone's latest offerings.

Anonymous said...

If you're a gumba in a gumba world, you're happy to be a gumba. But if you're a genius in a gumba world, you're likely to get depressed cuz you feel the world around is too stupid.

It's like Woody Allen movies where he's around Italians. The dagos are h happy being dumb dagos, but Allen feels like a smart fish out of water.

or take CASINO. Why is Rothstein so frustrated? He's surrounded by dumb dagos and hicks.

Anonymous said...

Kanazawa said 'less intelligent', which is not the same thing as no intelligence or dumb.

Anonymous said...

This theory will be useful for massaging the bruised egos of all the whites who are getting left behind by asians and jews in the IQ sweepstakes...

I dont see the logic in drawing the conclusion that intelligence is a "disadvantage" while conceding that "intelligence is very important in modern life because our environment is almost entirely evolutionarily novel. Most of the problems that we have to solve today—how to excel in school, how to find jobs, how to do virtually everything on a computer—are evolutionarily novel. So intelligent people do well in almost every sphere of modern life, except for the most important things, like how to find a mate, how to raise a child, how to make friends."

Intelligent people doing well in all the spheres of modern life means they become the wealthy elite. How is that a handicap in attracting females and friends? You also find far more dysfunctional families in Appalachia and the inner city than in college towns. I call his conclusion BS.

Anonymous said...

Taylor has really cracked:

http://www.vdare.com/articles/race-purists-are-they-slightly-nuts-jared-taylor-responds-to-john-derbyshire

"It is a near-universal human desire for people to want to see themselves rather than strangers in their children."

If so, why do so many black men go after white women? And why do blacks prefer white-looking blacks over black-looking blacks? And why do so many Asian women go for white men? And why do so many Asian women get surgeries to look 'white'?

"many half-white children identify more strongly with their non-white half. I don’t want half-Kenyan children who listen to rap music and identify with Africa, thank you very much. Nor do I want half-Japanese children who feel compelled to study tea ceremony."

I worry more about pure white kids into rap music. And does Taylor really think half-Japanese American kids are into tea ceremony or care much about Japan? Apollo Ohno is writing haiku? Even Japanese youths are not into that stuff.

But this I agree with:

"This is partly for unabashedly esthetic reasons; I like the way white people look, and that’s reason enough to want white children."

That's honest and forthright.

But...

"Instead of moving smoothly between both groups, many mixed-race children don’t feel comfortable in either. When they go to college, such “outcasts,” as they sometimes call themselves, start their own student groups."

the above statement is pure hokum. It may have some truth to it, but I find it difficult to believe that Taylor opposes miscegenation out of sympathy for poor poor mixed-race kids.
Also, his argument can be disproved in the case of black/white mixed kids. I'll bet mixed-race mulatto kids are better off than pure black American kids.

SFG said...

How about differential reproduction? Everyone's commented on how smart women never have a lot of kids.

David F. said...

Humans are a social species, so we need to consider the adaptive value of intelligence to the survival of the group as well as the individual.

Imagine a society in which everyone was as intelligent as the smartest people you know.

I think they would all kill each other, or starve. Everyone would have their own idea of how to run society. They would instantly deconstruct or warp any myths, religion, or moral codes to suit their individual preferences. Few would submit to anyone else, and no actual work would get done.

RKU's observation about the Gaussian distribution of genetic intelligence factors also implies that the adaptive benefit of a stable range of intelligence levels in a group (a few brilliant minds every generation, but not too many) may outweigh the benefit of being individually endowned with particularly high intelligence.

Thrasymachus said...

Steve, you have evaluated the IQs of various politicians, and if I remember correctly they tend to be around 120. Some higher intelligence is generally useful, but above a certain point it is a social handicap.

Anonymous said...

You have a tendency to over-praise people whom you agree with, Steve.

Flowers for Arbitron said...

I usually like his musings too but he presents as slightly superficial and gabby, even by the standards of evo psych (not that Gladwell doesn't conduct a smug, dour rendition of the same show--surely Kanazawa's upbeat manner is grabbing me the wrong way in part for cultural reasons). In fact in explanatory fervor I daresay he has some resemblance to the popular (American-born) Japanese physics professor guy on those overnight podcasts: throwing out a lot of freakonomical ideas, not being too rigorous in the selection process.

An Unmarried Man said...

"Disadvantages of intelligence" is misleading. The question is not so much about intelligence as it is about mediocrity. Intelligence rarely has disadvantages, but likewise, it doesn't offer any great perks when accounting for the fact that most intelligent people will eventually need to make their way through common society which is decidedly a few SD's below their level. There is little reward for intelligence in a society that is mediocre, at best.

Kanazawa is really speaking of the "advantages of mediocrity."

catperson said...

Also, let's look at a simple historical example. I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the ancient Athenians were *enormously* smarter than almost any current group given how much they created from such a tiny population base. So if intelligence were so beneficial, why didn't they dominate the entire ancient world and become the ancestors of most of current humanity?

Perhaps because their high intelligence was environmental not genetic so when their standard of living declined, so did nutrition levels causing brain size to grow smaller and robbing them of their competitive edge.

I'm a huge believer in the importance of genes, but the 20th century rise in height, brain size and test scores tells us that nutrition places enormous limits on how far even the most genetic traits develop between generations.

Anonymous said...

Now here's my part in the blog of trying, but failing, to remember the crude text of the quotation which has been undoubtedly posted 100x before, of WWII general Baron von Lederhosen (sp). Something like "shiftless + dumb can be fine; mediocrity is OK; whereas enthusiastic morons are dangerous"--it ain't working out in my Google search atm

MuayTyson said...

Being highly intelligent has a cost. Because we are a social species it is not always better to be smarter. There are other traits that can make for success.

If success in the modern world equal net worth then it is obvious that the most intelligent are not the most successful.

Hell, Pamela Anderson probably makes more than anyone on this board but her net worth is probably higher than anyone on this board. Now you may say she is just another dumb Hollywood actress and this maybe true but she took her good looks and limited abilities and made the best of them to ( I am only assuming) create a very nice life for herself and what most would call success.

You can say that she is very attractive and that would be true but there are thousands of very attractive women that have not had her level of success.

She was just the first name to pop in my mind any other actress of her talents would do.

Ron Woo said...

"Also, let's look at a simple historical example. I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the ancient Athenians were *enormously* smarter than almost any current group given how much they created from such a tiny population base."

I suspect that you're overstating their accomplishments. The glory of Periclean Athens was extremely short-lived, and Plato's dialogues, though unrivaled in their time as prose-literature, are actually pretty insipid.

Anonymous said...

When just reasoning from Pam's existence it turns into Reductio Ad Us Weekly pretty quickly. She has 2 kids at this point--is there cause to believe her equivalent winsome pre-silicone ilk would record more vigorous or even viable offspring than the typical 4-5 child operation in Paris, Florence, or Antwerp 400 years back? Not to mention Spanish or Irish-sized broods supplying New World volunteers. Even Japan had a 4+ fertility rate before WWII and they weren't importing lots of blondes.

Anonymous said...

"The dagos are h happy being dumb dagos, but Allen feels like a smart fish out of water."

And a physically unattractive smart fish at that...because he isl...unattractive, that is.

Dahlia said...

In the context of this theory, I think of the "less intelligent" as the people "who just have stuff happened to them". The black guy with 30 kids with many different women? He's on the extreme end.

These people behave more by instinct and less by thinking and planning. Simply put, they are more instinctual.

Kanazawa explains this in his articles (and he's been saying this for awhile) but what he doesn't try to explain is why the more intelligent switched from being more, to less, fecund than everyone else.

Personally, I believe it has to do with cycles: an up-and-coming civilization is smarter until a threshold of wealth and comfort is reached wherein (most of) the more intelligent choose, increasingly, to enjoy the good times and good life. The more instinctual are less able to make that choice, and with better health care and all the benefits of civilization, they grow and increase.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely not true.

In ancient times, as now, people had to make hundreds of decisions each day. Bad decisions, due to low IQ, reduced survival and reproduction. Individuals with genes to produce low IQ generally left fewer offspring, otherwise, humans would be no smarter than chimps. The fact that humans are the most intellegent of all animals, is evidence for selection of the brightest.

One of the highest selectors for intellegence was interpersonal relationships. Individuals who could "read" the feelings and motivations of fellow tribe members, and who could respond accordingly were more successful.

Anonymous said...

The empathy problem: What is it like to be a bat? (apologies to Thomas Nagel). What is it like to be a crow?

As RKU implies, crows do what what crows do, and that crucially means producing more crows.

Gilbert Pinfold.

... and I'm a Mormon said...

@Anonymous 6/19/12 9:12 PM

Napoleon?

> Someone once asked Napoleon how he decided where to assign soldiers. Napoleon’s reply was that it’s simple: soldiers are either smart or dumb, lazy or energetic.
> The smart and energetic I make field commanders. They know what to do and can rally the troops to do it.
> The smart and lazy I make generals. They also know what to do, but they’re not going to waste energy doing what doesn’t need to be done.
> The dumb and lazy I make foot soldiers.
>
> But what about the dumb and energetic? "Those," Napoleon replied, "I shoot."

http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2010/12/27/dumb-and-gets-things-done/

Anonymous said...

http://araceagainsttime.blogspot.com/2011/01/study-blacks-and-hispanics-are-twice-as.html

Study: Blacks are twice as likely as whites to have performed a heroic deed

Anonymous said...

Intelligence helps with everything ..


There's an implicit but unstated "all else being equal" attached to that. All else is very rarely equal.

SF said...

When we were building my house, the contractor said the best roofers were people of subnormal intelligence. I laid a few rows of shingles at an extremely slow rate. My brother and his wife came to help and weren't much better. I found a smart guy who had been brain damaged in an auto accident and needed work. He finished the job.

jack strocchi said...

Anonymous said:

"WWII general Baron von Lederhosen (sp). Something like "shiftless + dumb can be fine; mediocrity is OK; whereas enthusiastic morons are dangerous"-

"Lazy geniuses are best."
Rommel?

Anonymous said...

There was this story floating around ancient India.

Three Smart Kids seek education from Foriegn Universities, their simpleton friend remains in the Village and goes to the village school.

Returning upon completing education, all four meet at the river bank by the village one day.

They find a few bones by the river.

1. One kid says, I am a structural Engineer, I can erect these bones in a structure, and proceeds to do the same.

2. Another kid claims that he can create body tissue, muscle, and blood around this bone structure, and proceess to do the same.

A Lion is created, the third foreign educated kid claims that he can breathe life into this re-creation of theirs.

At which point, the simpleton warns them that the live Lion can devour them all.

At which point all three educated kids disregard the simplton's advise, and asks him to vainsh away. The third educated kid breathes in the Life into their re-creation.


The Lion comes alive and devours all the three kids.

Too much intelligence is bad.

In Sanskrith there is a saying.

"In your time of your self-destruction, your intelligence peaks"

Anonymous said...

I would be happier if I was dumber...

Anonymous said...

I can't agree with Kanazawa.
Arhaeology cleraly shows, through countless millenia, a pronounced upward curve in the knapping of flints in making hand axes. The last neolithic models, just before bronze came in, were pretty sophisiticated artifacts requiring great skill and knowledge to make - modern experimental archaeologists struggle to equal those skills. The earliest stone tools were pretty crude - hardly shaped at all. Undoubtedly over hundreds of thusands of years, the increase in human cognition was linked with tool making sophistication, which is dependant on intelligence. many authorities aver that flint knapping was *the* driver of human cerebral evolution, and that language was a by product of the toolmaking brain. A hypothesis I tend to agree with.
It is, of course, tool-making that allowed primitive hominids to become men (who pretty much naked against bears, leopards etc)and thus dominate the planet.

Anonymous said...

There is probaby some truth to what he says.

Gardner, Steinberg, and Goleman's ideas of different or multiple types of intelligence probaby come into play.

Someone who has high quantatative, verbal, or pattern recognition skills but low or poor social intelligence may do poorer than others in many circumstances including some life choices. A lot of life is who you know and can you get along with others.

Regarding AA. Yes it is probably aimed at intelligent Whites to some degree.

As an example, for instance, in the media, entertainemnt, and academia being an intelligent White and "noticing
patterns" can get you in a lot of trouble just ask Derbyshire, Watson, Olive Stone, and many others...


Students in college classes who recognize pattterns and are unable or unwilling to "enthusiastically" kowtow to PC orthodoxy undoubtedly in some instances get poorer grades in some subjects with resulting poorer life expectations. In computer science or the hard sciences this problem is not as significant as in the humanties or arts undoubtedly.

AA is way to weed out these Whites who don't bow to PC orthodoxy or who potentially may not (fewer college or graduate school admissions, fewer lucrative and desireable government jobs ... etc ...)


You don't actually have to hold un PC views, just being a White person is sufficient in many instances to cast suspicion on your application for a job or admission to a college or graduate program probably.

Hence, so many students writing college entrance essays about how they gave back to the poor, miorities ..etc.. or how diversity is great in order to gain admission to elite schools.

In the absence of someone to vouch for them they are trying to present their "bona fides."

It is difficult to look at Harvard knowing that given IQ standard deviation distributions in the country (because of the size of their population there are still many more White Christains with sky high IQS than Jews or Asians) and notice that the current enrolment is ony 25% White European Christian without recognizing that something else than a "pure meritocracy" is going on.

As a final note, Jacques Ellul ( the same French philosopher whose ideas the Unabomber borrowed for his book on the pernicious effects of technology) wrote a book called Propaganda in the 1960s in which he argued that the "more intelligent" are more likely to be effectively subject to propaganda than the less intelligent.

Think about Forest Gump the movie.

The hippie chick of normal intelligence manages to royaly screw up her life by listening to the cool cultural marxism counter culture memes, while Forest who is too dumb to "get it" manages to turn out much better.

I'm not sure if Ellul's idea, although valid, still has as much power in the age of the internet where cultural memes are less subject to central control and dissemination.

Anonymous said...

IQ is probably most helpful in times of scarcity. Most of history has involved a degree of difficulty for most people, and to that extent has selected for intelligence.

The welfare state is only possible in a civilization with an abundance of energy (and hence, food). It's questionable how long that is going to continue.

dearieme said...

I remember reading about a study of Glasgow gangs of the 1950s. What marked out the gang leader wasn't that he was the biggest, the fastest, the strongest or the most intelligent. He was the most "mental" i.e. uninhibited. Perhaps that was true of the Renaissance Popes too?

Simon in London said...

"less intelligent people are better at doing most things"

Absolutely not true. Overall, intelligence is most akin to other attributes like strength, dexterity, constitution, charisma (yes, I am channeling D&D) - the more of it the better. But intelligence, like other attributes, has a lot of costs, it takes resources that could go elsewhere. Given resource constraints there is an evolutionarily optimum INT for crows, and a lower one for doves.

One thing about high intelligence is that it correlates with a limited fertility reproductive strategy, and currently for humans in developed nations this is maladaptive (because babies usually survive, no matter how many you have), so there is evolutionary pressure towards less limited fertility, whether through lower IQ, higher religiosity, or other pro-higher-fertility means.

This pressure could eventually change the human-created environment such that a limited fertility strategy again became adaptive, ie through civilisational collapse or extreme hard times, but in the short term the trend looks likely to continue - smart people created a world in which being smart is maladaptive.

Skadhi the Raverner said...

Whether something is eugenic or dysgenic depends on circumstance, it isn't that "there's no such thing as a bad gene" but whether a gene is good or bad (in the value neutral sense) is something situational.

High IQ may have helped in the past, thats a fact! But Kanazawa is talking about the *present*, in Western and Westernised societies like Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

High IQ individuals are presently responsible for all the problems in the west because they think about things instead of just act, and plan ahead instead of taking things as they come, and view the world through abstract interpretations instead of letting realities speak for themselves.

And if there's less high IQ people being born its because we contracept, abort and simply abstain ourselves out of existence. This is why lower IQ groups are more eugenic at present.

Anonymous said...

Point of Reference:

All the US Army studies showing weapons systems accuracy varies strongly + with IQ.

I would like to know if Kanazawa was aware of those, before writing his post.

jack strocchi said...

Kanazawa's theory, that intelligence is a (contrarian) contra-evolutionary feature used for innovation in novel circumstances, is only true for the current degenerate post-modern period. In previous eras intelligence performed pro-evolutionary function, aiding in survival and sexual operations.

Life does not have a particular predisposition towards intelligence. Single celled creatures were as smart as it got for the two billion or so years of life. Emus and kangaroos had larger heads way back in the day but reduced their cranial size in order to become more efficient at roaming and grazing over large ranges.

But once life stumbles upon intelligence it can find niches where intelligence conquers all. Humans dominion over the planet is existence proof of that.

Intelligence can be of three forms: incarnational, institutional and instrumental. All three intellectual forms have been pro-evolutionary.

Incarnation: homo sapiens evolution was defined by a massive increase in brain size, humans have the highest encephalization quotient of all animals. It was obviously pro-evolutionary otherwise life would not have authorised the incredible allocation of energy to the larger brain nor tolerated the threat to the health of the mother through the vastly increased size of the cranium.

Institutional: the development of civilization, symbolic culture was an intellectual force multiplier. It was obviously pro-evolutionary as it enabled the development of agriculture which vastly increased the population size.

Instrumental: the development of technology, especially in transportation, communication and finally computation was another massive intellectual force multiplier. Again, obviously pro-evolutionary as it enabled a huge increase in the range, population size and life-spans for humans.

It's only since the development of contraception, when humans finally evaded the imperatives of evolution, that we have started down the route of dysgenic degeneracy. Intelligent people no longer have to think hard to improve their survival and sexual opportunities. Instead they think hard to make life interesting, to avoid boredom is the ultimate aim of intelligent life.

It seems intelligence gets up to mischief, once one transcends the laws of life.

Ewing said...

Sure, less intelligent people are excellent at smoking and drinking more, getting into more car crashes, getting themselves into jail, failing in school, finding menial jobs, needing government assistance,becoming disabled, becoming obese, catching diseases, having children when they least want them, neglecting said children...you name it, they excel at the very things that make life miserable.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

In response to the above comment and link to Jared Taylor's piece, thus is why I cannot abide White Nationist types in spite of them having the right idea, for the most part. As Taylor himself puts it, it's about where you draw the line. I draw the line at people who think that whites marrying NE asians is "genocide". First of all, while preserving White European culture is indeed a noble goal, such hyperbole does not do anything to win people over to the cause, and only gives ammunition to the detractors who want to dismiss WNs as mindless bigots. That being said, there is no reason for whites to be threatened by White-Asian marriages. The offspring of such marriages, such as myself, almost always relate more to their white half. And every other 1/2 Asian I've known, both male and female, has married a white person. So the Asian genes spread as the result of interracial pairings will most likely be swamped by the white genes farther down the road anyway.

Anonymous said...

According to this, Pamela Anderson is worth about $5m, and California claimed in 2010 that she owed $500,000 in back taxes:

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/actors/pamela-anderson-net-worth/

Let's assume the Franchise Tax Board was wrong, as I have no idea how that claim was resolved. Now $5m is pretty rich, but there are certainly readers of this blog worth more than that--and probably a few who are worth an order of magnitude (or two, or even three) more. And it's *very* unlikely that they got their hands on that much cash by exploiting talents similar to hers...

slumber_j said...

"...After a few minutes, he cawed and flew off to join his companions. I had a good feeling I couldn’t put into words. Basically, I thought the meeting had gone well, and as it turned out, I was right. When I got home there was a message from the crows saying I had the job.

"That first interview proved indicative of the crows’ business style. They are very informal and relaxed, unlike their public persona, and mostly they leave me alone. I’m given a general direction of what they want done, but the specifics of how to do it are up to me."

From this, which is pretty great:

http://www.utne.com/2001-03-01/Countoncrows.aspx

Anonymous said...

In fact, crows (or corvids for that matter) are reckoned to be the among the most intelligent of non-primate species.

Big Brain Drawbacks said...

Intelligence helps with everything ..

There's an implicit but unstated "all else being equal" attached to that. All else is very rarely equal.


Can anyone cite any studies that correlate "negative" traits with high IQ?

For example:

* Many neuro diseases in Azkenazi's like Tay Sach's (over clocking, too many connections, etc?)

* Introverted, socially alienated

* Physically weak and uncoordinated

etc?

Is there any statistical support to these negative stereotypes? Things like nearsightedness can be explained by environment more than inherent IQ no?

Anonymous said...

Study: Blacks are twice as likely as whites to have performed a heroic deed

My parole officer friend says the same about his (mostly white) "clients". The sort of guy who can get talked into helping knock over a gas station may also be the sort of guy who will run into a burning building to save people.

This sorts of people must have had an easier time finding their place in society a thousand years ago.

Cennbeorc

SFG said...

I wonder if there's a sort of naturally occurring negative feedback loop where intelligence produces civilization and then civilization allows stupider people to have more kids, eventually causing the downfall of civilization?

I am sure I am not the first person to think of this. Is there some politically incorrect thinker who has argued this?

pat said...

Thoughout evolution cratures tend to grow more intelligent. This is known as Cope's Rule after Edward Drinker Cope the famous American paleontologist. Earlier lineages among dinosaurs, primates and birds have smaller brains in smaller skulls.

This is the basis of the speculation that had the asteroid not hit the Yucatan 65 million years ago, some small therapods like Struthiomimus would have developed primate or even human level intelligence.

BTW there is a story on Drudge this morning about the military developing a robot bird.

Albertosaurus

Marlowe said...

On the other hand brain size did decline post-agriculture.

AS Larry Niven's Speaker to Animals once said: how much intelligence does it take to creep up on a leaf?

ON the benefits of being a fool I recall Woody Allen's Love and Death (1975) during an exchange of words when Allen bemoans his existence and Diane Keaton rebukes him:

Keaton ('Sonia'): Look at Igor: he's happy
Allen ('Boris'): He's the village idiot, of course he's happy.

Dan said...

Kanazawa is just making a simple observation that dumbs are outbreeding smarts. Getting that observation into The Economist is an achievement, given the media moratorium on facts.

He can't very well get an article published if it has the headline,

"Mayday, mayday, dumb people are outbreeding smart people and civilization is heading toward the rocks."

Dan said...

Intelligent people need religion to be fertile. Audacious Epigone recently showed this statistically. Intelligence+lack of religious practice = very low fertility. Intelligence+religious practice = good fertility.

This may help explain why high IQ could be maintained among Ashkenzani populations. Orthodox Judaism is emphatically pro-natalist, much more than the pre-20th century Catholic church with celibate priests as the role model. High IQ may have popped up at various times in history, but only where it (Intelligence) was tied to an explicitly pro-natalist faith could it increase and flourish.

Anonymous said...

First, I have to say that Mr. Kanazawa's article is itself an example of an intelligent person taking a good (and novel) idea and generalizing it way beyond its actual usefulness. How entertaining!

Mainly, though, I wanted to remark that there is one other trait that intelligent people are capable of, although there is no guarantee that they will ever exhibit this trait: They are capable of developing ways of thinking that are novel in relation to their own habitual ways of thinking. Thus, over time, they can learn to unlearn their own mistakes and misconceptions, and are presumably better at this than ordinary people.

However, the first step in this process is admitting that you may be wrong, and most of us intelligent people grow up in an environment (i.e. school) where being intelligent and wrong is grounds for persecution. Thus we see many, many quite intelligent people gravitating towards novel ways of thinking early in life, but then becoming locked into that world view for their entire lives, beyond the point of reason, but still using all of their considerable mental faculties to fallaciously defend their ideals. This is where I perceive many of the boom generation to be right now, and I believe that is a primary reason why the United States continues to spin its wheels uselessly in the face of its many problems.

candid_observer said...

Even if it's arguable whether being in possession of an IQ of 140 is a great advantage over an IQ of 120, who could seriously argue that an IQ of 115 isn't a great advantage in any number of practical ways over an IQ of 100? Or that an IQ of 100 isn't a huge advantage likewise over an IQ of 85?

It's a little absurd to argue from the case of the absent minded professor to make the general claim that IQ confers little advantage. Certainly in any kind of agricultural society I would expect it would confer a significant advantage, over the full range of IQs.

Has this guy read any of Gottfredson's work?

heartiste said...

SFG:
"I wonder if there's a sort of naturally occurring negative feedback loop where intelligence produces civilization and then civilization allows stupider people to have more kids, eventually causing the downfall of civilization?

I am sure I am not the first person to think of this. Is there some politically incorrect thinker who has argued this?"

you rang?

http://heartiste.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/prosperity-is-the-problem/

re: the social value of IQ. you can tell the value of some human trait quite easily by how many people would be willing to accept possessing its opposite, or at least be indifferent to possessing its opposite. not many people would choose less smarts over more smarts. and that really gets at the crux of liberals' visceral fear of discussing group differences in smarts: they know it matters.

now whether the social value and the evolutionary value of a human trait align is another question entirely. if you like nice things, you would have to concede based on historical and present day evidence that meddling in the forces of evolution might be necessary to preserve your nice things.

David said...

>Pamela Anderson probably makes more than anyone on this board<

Pamela Anderson is a tool of the smart people who invented, produce, and distribute TV, who often use many other such tools. Not only does the intelligence of the smart people make the success of Pamela Anderson even possible; the top ones also make and keep more money than Pamela Anderson ever could

In a mediocracy (mediocre + cracy), many intelligent people (though not every single one) are sandbagged and even crushed. Every possible obstacle is routinely placed in their way; their frustration is immense; the rank injustices they must face as a matter of "normalcy" are numerous, and many of these people fall by the wayside, broken. And their complaining about it results in an even worse fate for them.

An analogy would be a crooked or unreliable culture, the kind Hernando de Soto decries as an impediment to Western-style political freedom and economic development. In such a culture, property rights are not properly secured; so large enterprises requiring long-range cooperation are virtually impossible to form. Now imagine living in such a culture. Let's say you create a brilliant design for a spacecraft. Well, your spacecraft will never be built; in fact, you will probably be lucky to get even a pittance as a housemaid or enforcer for some mafia chieftan. From the perspective of the corrupt rulers, you're a "loser." However, in a decent culture, built by decent, basically honest people, the kind whom de Soto respects, you would have a chance - if not to build a spacecraft - then at least to live within a legal framework securing your property and have a successful business. You would be a "winner."

Or consider the USSR. Were the "losers" there evolutionarily unfit? Or, was the system that crushed them evolutionarily unfit?

Lastly, consider the Jews. The Nazis killed them in the millions. So, doesn't this indicate that Jews are evolutionarily unfit and the Nazis are fit? In 1942, the answer would have been: "Yes, obviously it does indicate that." But where are the Nazis now?

It is a mistake to conflate a given political miasma and the fundamental conditions of human survival. The junk-America around you today is not necessarily going to be "reality" in five years; nor was it "reality" fifty years ago.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if there's a sort of naturally occurring negative feedback loop where intelligence produces civilization and then civilization allows stupider people to have more kids, eventually causing the downfall of civilization?


I am sure I am not the first person to think of this. Is there some politically incorrect thinker who has argued this?"



I'm pretty sure Adam Smith mentioned this (the tendency of the lower classes to be more fecund than the upper classes) in The Wealth Of Nations.

Anonymous said...

"There's an implicit but unstated "all else being equal" attached to that. All else is very rarely equal."


Can anyone cite any studies that correlate "negative" traits with high IQ?



There does not have to be a correlation for all else to rarely be equal.

Our theoretical perfect person would score very highly on intelligence, and also on strength, dexterity, charisma, positive mental attitude, good looks, and an array of other attributes.

In practice it's highly unlikely that one person is going to exceptionally blessed in all those departments. Just scoring in the top one percent in any one of them takes a lot of luck.

Crowder said...

I think intellectuals are discriminated against because 1) there is an unstated backlash against Jewish liberalism, 2) jealousy over success, and 3)we live in a country of average-IQ types and anything different is ridiculed.

Turin said...

"
Imagine a society in which everyone was as intelligent as the smartest people you know.

I think they would all kill each other, or starve. Everyone would have their own idea of how to run society. They would instantly deconstruct or warp any myths, religion, or moral codes to suit their individual preferences. Few would submit to anyone else, and no actual work would get done."


- You're way off. Throughout history, higher IQ societies have achieved more than lower IQ societies. In fact, before the PC obsession, they usually overran the lower IQ societies, and made them into slaves, or killed them off, and took their property.

Truth said...

"Not only does the intelligence of the smart people make the success of Pamela Anderson even possible; the top ones also make and keep more money than Pamela Anderson ever could..."

Maybe, but she still makes more than you.

Anonymous said...

Woody Allen/ Mia Farrow's son's life seriously limited by too much intelligence

http://yegs.org/yegs-hall-of-fame-ronan-seamus-farrow-1987/

FredR said...

"I am sure I am not the first person to think of this. Is there some politically incorrect thinker who has argued this?"

Volkmar Weiss: The Population Cycle Drives Human History

Aaron B. said...

"[W]ho could seriously argue that an IQ of 115 isn't a great advantage in any number of practical ways over an IQ of 100? Or that an IQ of 100 isn't a huge advantage likewise over an IQ of 85?"

Exactly. And you don't have to be in an academic field for that to be true. You could be digging ditches, and the 115 guy is going to learn faster just how to poke his shovel into different kinds of dirt, what grip and movement move the most dirt for the least pain, etc.

Now, it may be true that a 160-IQ guy may get so bored with digging ditches that he wanders off thinking about the meaning of life and gets fired. But he can afford that, because he can pick up a job doing about anything he knows a little about, or teach as a last resort. Maybe the 85-IQ guy won't get bored as quickly with digging, but if he does, how many other options does he have? Which one is at greater disadvantage?

Simon in London said...

David:
"Lastly, consider the Jews. The Nazis killed them in the millions. So, doesn't this indicate that Jews are evolutionarily unfit and the Nazis are fit? In 1942, the answer would have been: "Yes, obviously it does indicate that." But where are the Nazis now?"

Congratulations: You have discovered that as environments change, the definition of fitness changes. Which is what evolution through natural selection is all about.

David said...

Simon, I haven't discovered it. It seems some people have forgotten it; I am reminding them.

David F. said...

@Turin

You didn't read what I wrote. I was imagining a society made entirely of Steve Sailer/John Derbyshire-level IQ's, and pointing out that such a society would likely be very unstable and maladaptive at the group level, even if possessing a high IQ were adaptive at the individual level.

I am not disputing that a society with a higher average IQ will likely be more successful than others. I am pointing out that variation in IQ within a society is probably necessary for the society to function.

Anonymous said...

"Lastly, consider the Jews. The Nazis killed them in the millions. So, doesn't this indicate that Jews are evolutionarily unfit and the Nazis are fit? In 1942, the answer would have been: "Yes, obviously it does indicate that." But where are the Nazis now?"

Everyone on the internets is Hitler. His fitness approaches infinity.

Sublime Oblivion said...

If I recall correctly, things like social function and psychological problems start increasing once you reach an IQ above 130, after troughing in the 110-130 range.

This makes sense from an intuitive person. The smartest people in a class tend to be "nerds" and frequently don't fit in and bullied.

Look at the most successful businesspeople and politicians (NOT academics) - spheres where you need social intelligence to succeed. Most of them have reasonably above average IQ's, but very few of them are geniuses.

rob said...

I wonder if Kanazawa is thinking about, for lack of better terms, the normals, whose IQ's vary mostly as a function of genetic load, and the brilliant, who look a bit like they've been supercharged (per Cochran) with one or a few alleles of huge effect. The 'fat tail' on the right end of the IQ distribution comes from something besides lots of alleles of small, independent effects.

Among normals the higher IQ do everything better because they are better: they have fewer genetic faults, so they're healthier, taller, more symmetric...all those things that don't really have obvious reasons to correlate with IQ.

The geniuses, the people so smart that they'll be remembered for a long, long time, they often had fitness-reducing interests and priorities.

'Course, Kanazawa could just be noticing that the strategy of having few children and taking really good care of them looks like failure when the children of stupid people who put almost nothing into raising them don't die from neglect, disease, weather and predators. That might be a temporary situation.

On the gripping hand, Kanazawa thinks some silly things.

Svigor said...

This theory will be useful for massaging the bruised egos of all the whites who are getting left behind by asians and jews in the IQ sweepstakes...

Just to be fair, we should massage those yellow and Ashkenazi (other Jews are dumb, and don't have the stratospheric mean IQ of 106 like Ashkenazis) egos, too; just look at how het up they get when you tell them they don't have the right to settle in White countries. It's the least we can do, given how they keep their countries crappy to protect our egos.

NOTA said...

David F:

So how does your model account for the existence of high IQ high achieving communities and projects? I mean, any good hospital is staffed ovwewhelmingly by people on the right end of the bell curve. Other than the people cleaning up, most everyone there is at least a pretty skilled person who had to get through some real training. And yet, hospitals. chock full of smart people, function passably well.

Universities, tech companies, law firms, research labs--all are pretty functional organizations made up mostly of smart people, with hardly any really dumb people. These have their problems, but they hardly ever collapse into endless warfare between intellectuals who can't abide disagreement. Indeed, many really smart people enjoy working and socializing with other really smart people.

At the extreme end, something like the Manhattan Project or Apollo Program was built on lots and lots of very smart people, who somehow managed to work together to do stuff that probably looked damned near impossible when they started. Similarly, Google, famously interested in hiring only the super smart, seems to be accomplishing a lot despite the terrible handicap of being full of guys with 150 IQs.

Aaron B. said...

NOTA, well said. I'm not sure why anyone would expect a society of Sailers and Derbyshires to be unstable. Boring, maybe, but dysfunctional? Why?

"If I recall correctly, things like social function and psychological problems start increasing once you reach an IQ above 130, after troughing in the 110-130 range."

Are there any references for this? I know that's the stereotype -- the absent-minded professor and so on -- but is there evidence to back it up?

Paul Graham explained very well why smart kids don't fit in at school. It's because they're busy thinking about things that really matter, like ways to save the world (hence the love of sci-fi and fantasy), and care more about that than on figuring out how to navigate the artificial social survival camp that is a high school. They could figure out how to be popular -- what to wear, how to act, etc. -- but they have better things to think about.

David F. said...

@NOTA

The institutions you describe are not independent societies that reproduce, feed, and defend themselves. They are limited-purpose associations that exist only because the rest of society supports them in exchange for the specialized services that they offer.

Society includes the farmers, yard-men, security guards, miners, janitors, cops, unemployed, supermarket stockers, truck drivers, etc. Imagine if all those people were equal in intelligence to the top Google executives and perhaps you'll see my point.

NOTA said...

At a guess, I think the stereotype of dysfunctional smart people is based on a kind of statistical sampling error.

Consider a worlkplace with an average IQ of 100. The smartest guy there is *there*, not at someplace higher achieving. So the smartest guy in that workplace is probably carrying some baggage--lack of work ethic, no organizational skills, very rough background, etc.--which keeps him from going further. Every unusually smart person you observe in that environment is also carrying some baggage of that kind. And yet, this can happen even if there is no correlation between the baggage and the intelligence.

The same applies really widely. The smartest guy in your class at State U was there, not in a better school, for some reason. Lack of ambition, lack of preparation, whatever.

Weird interests (SF instead of sports, say) don't count as dysfunction--stuff like utter inability to understand other people, or weird obsessions or phobias, do. But these exist in people of low and normal intelligence, too. There are plenty of poor dumb people who stumble through life with no clue what's happening in other peoples' minds, or unable to keep up withtheir paperwork and bills or find their car keys.

NOTA said...

Aaron:

From personal experience, being much smarter than your classmates and getting picked on for it leads to a pretty unhealthy focus on intelligence as determining your value as a person. It took me some years to get over that BS.

heartiste said...

homo economicus:
"Imagine if all those people were equal in intelligence to the top Google executives and perhaps you'll see my point."

Robots would be manufactured more easily and quickly to do those crappy jobs?

David said...

>such a society would likely be very unstable and maladaptive at the group level, even if possessing a high IQ were adaptive at the individual level.<

The mysterious multiplier effect.

1. X number of smart people function together well.

2. ("A miracle happens.")

3. X+1 is catastrophe.

>Society includes the farmers, yard-men, security guards, miners, janitors, cops, unemployed [??], supermarket stockers, truck drivers, etc. Imagine if all those people were equal in intelligence to the top Google executives and perhaps you'll see my point.<

Every job could and should be done better. A more efficient janitor, a swifter stocker, a more careful and punctilious truck driver, a wiser cop, etc. are not to be dismissed as undesirable. There is no magical virtue in mediocrity.

Not every very intelligent person is Mr. Peepers. As Charles Murray pointed out, prior to the cognitive stratification he tut-tuts about, intelligence (even very high intelligence) was much more distributed among the population in terms of job and social class. Various backwoods (or near-as-dammit) geniuses built not only a noticeable part of America's industrial structure, but also helped bring the Industrial Revolution to birth. Where did all the smart, capable, sharp-eyed adults go? Into the ghetto of government, education, "leadership," there to be warped into articulate but helpless or harmful fools.

Society today is limping along on momentum, but to see the possible future of a mediocracy, look at large swathes of NAM-world.

Simon in London said...

"NOTA said...
At a guess, I think the stereotype of dysfunctional smart people is based on a kind of statistical sampling error.

Consider a worlkplace with an average IQ of 100. The smartest guy there is *there*, not at someplace higher achieving. So the smartest guy in that workplace is probably carrying some baggage--lack of work ethic, no organizational skills, very rough background, etc.--which keeps him from going further. Every unusually smart person you observe in that environment is also carrying some baggage of that kind. And yet, this can happen even if there is no correlation between the baggage and the intelligence.

The same applies really widely. The smartest guy in your class at State U was there, not in a better school, for some reason. Lack of ambition, lack of preparation, whatever."

This makes sense. If I'm smarter than the people around me, it's probably because there are some things wrong with me such that the less-smart people can perform overall about as well as I can. If I didn't have anything wrong with me, my peer group would be smarter and more successful, and I would probably have close to the median intelligence for the group.

Anonymous said...

Paul Graham explained very well why smart kids don't fit in at school. It's because they're busy thinking about things that really matter, like ways to save the world (hence the love of sci-fi and fantasy), and care more about that than on figuring out how to navigate the artificial social survival camp that is a high school. They could figure out how to be popular -- what to wear, how to act, etc. -- but they have better things to think about.

It's not so much smart kids not fitting in in Prussoid public schools, but the schools not fitting them.