Thursday, January 07, 2010

IQ and Common Sense

This is the subject of an ongoing subject of discussion at ILSA, and this one is really very, very good. And particularly in that it supports my own particular thesis, which is that the super-intelligent are lacking in certain kinds of usefulness that requires the participation of more average citizens to even out.

Clever sillies indeed, at least when it comes to HBD

Bruce G. Charlton, academic and editor in chief of the journal Medical Hypotheses, has previously described the perceived tendency for people of high intelligence to lack common sense, a consequence of ignoring instinctive reactions ("gut feelings" in the vernacular):
My suggested explanation for this association between intelligence and personality is that an increasing relative level of IQ brings with it a tendency differentially to over-use general intelligence in problem-solving, and to over-ride those instinctive and spontaneous forms of evolved behaviour which could be termed common sense.
Bruce suggested I take a look at the GSS to see to what extent it confirms or repudiates his assessment. To avoid the problem of cherry-picking, he thought it prudent to have someone other than himself peruse the data.

I scoured the entire library (in the process propitiously stumbling on some other interesting variables I had previously been ignorant of!) to assemble what is laid out below. Naturally, there is some level of arbitrariness in what is included and what is not. To minimize this, I cast a wide net to include those for which 'common sense' provides an obvious answer. Also, I did not break out responses by wordsum scores until after I'd settled on the questions to be included to avoid subconsciously favoring one item or another.

Items that solicit opinions without inquiring about consequences were passed over in favor of those dealing with predictable outcomes. That is, I'm less interested in whether or not a person favors governmentally enforced affirmative action, for which plausibly commensensical arguments can be made on both sides (the benefit to upper-echelon NAMs outweighs the harm done to middling and lower-end ice people or it doesn't), than I am in whether or not whites, specifically, are hurt by affirmative action. Obviously giving preferential treatment to a black job applicant hurts a more qualified white applicant who is passed over because of his ancestry.

Several potentially informative items are dead because they are not cross-referenced with wordsum scores. To avoid confounding factors, only white responses are included.

The items are separated into three categories; those for which the high IQ (smarties) people show more common sense than everybody else (the masses) does, those for which smarties and the masses demonstrate equal levels of common sense, and those for which the masses are more commonsensical than the smarties are. The percentages show in what proportions members of each group answered in affirmation of the question or agreed with the statement being made.

Smarties include only the sliver of the respondent pool scoring a perfect 10 of 10 on the wordsum test, equivalent to an IQ floor approaching 130 if the average white score is assumed to represent an IQ of 100 with a standard deviation of 15. They comprise about 5% of the population. The masses (wordsum scores of 0-9) includes everybody else.

Items for which smarties display more common
sense than the masses do

People must live for today and let tomorrow take care of
Favor allowing women who are poor and cannot afford
any children to have abortions if they want to do so.
Homosexual attraction is a conscious choice.16.9%49.2%
Are there situations in which it is okay for a man to punch
another man?
Is it ever okay for a policeman to strike a citizen?89.7%77.1%
It is a civic obligation to report a crime if you witness it.96.0%91.8%
Scientists often pry into things they ought to leave alone*.5.1%29.3%
Morality is a personal matter and society should not try
to force everyone to maintain the same moral standards.
Genes are important in determining whether or not a
person's life turns out poorly or turns out well.
There is no sense in planning for the future. If things are
to happen, they will happen.
Astrology is not scientific.84.6%71.3%
Refuse to eat genetically modified food.19.6%31.2%
It should be illegal to carry a firearm while intoxicated.98.9%91.6%
A single parent is able to raise a child as well as a couple


Modern science does more good than harm.70.9%62.9%
Animal testing is okay if it might result in human lives
being saved.
Items for which smarties and the masses dispaly
equal levels of common sense
Favor busing black and white children from one district
to another**.
Allow incurable patients to die if the patient and family
support doing so.
It's okay for a man to hit someone who has broken into
his house.
Political organizations based on race and/or ethnicity
make it more difficult for everyone to get along with
one another.
Items for which the masses display more common
sense than the smarties do
Average difference between the intelligence of whites and
of blacks, measured in standard deviations.
Genes play a major role in determining personality.20.7%24.8%
Things for blacks in the US have improved over time.51.1%64.5%
It is better for a man to work and a woman to take care
of home.
Blacks do worse in life because of their innate inability to
learn as much as whites.
There should be more women in the US military than
there currently are.
Women should be assigned to military roles where
hand-to-hand combat is likely.
Poor schools are an important reason why there are poor
people in the US.
Whites are hurt by affirmative action policies that favor
It is a shame that traditional American literature is
ignored while other literature is promoted because it is
written by women or minorities.
Increased immigration makes it more difficult to keep
the US united.
Biological differences between men and women are
important in explaining why women are more likely to
take care of children than men are.
Because of science and technology, there will be more
opportunities for future generations.

I don't gather from this that intelligence is a handicap when it comes to arriving at commonsensical conclusions about most things. The assertion that intelligence either lacks significant correlation with or correlates positively with nearly all desirable outcomes and behaviors seems to hold up here (though there are a couple of exceptions, including the question on genes and personality and also the question about future opportunities provided by advances in science and technology). With the glaring exception of HBD-related issues, smarties display more common sense in their thinking than the masses do.

However, when it comes to accurately assessing differences in human subgroups--or even acknowledging that they exist--society's brightest squelch common sense in the name of politically correct moral posturing. Virtually every question for which the masses are more grounded in reality than the smarties are involves race or gender. The epicycles constructed and maintained by smarties are demonstrably if one simply believes his own lying eyes.

The explanations for why this occurs are surely familiar to most readers. My favored working explanation is that smart whites compete primarily against other whites (and Asians). NAMs are abstract pawns used in a moral posturing game played against other whites. Ilkka puts a clever spin on it:
Liberalism is status signaling that demonstrates that you are immune to the
societal consequences of liberalism.
And Steve Sailer states it in no uncertain terms:

Political correctness makes people stupid.
To the extent, if any, that this challenges Bruce's assertion^, it strikes me as encouraging. Rather than being maladaptive in facing the mundania of life, ceteris paribus, intelligence improves one's quality of life and his ability to comprehend the world around him.


* (I hear Ned Flanders exclaiming, "Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know!")

** Even though this solicits a personal opinion, it strikes me as being so disruptive to society to merit being deemed as an opinion lacking in common sense entirely.

^ Again, the criteria for selected GSS items, beyond adequate sample size and cross-referenced data on wordsum scores, was arbitrarily selected and is consequently open to crticism for not adequately finding proxies for common sense. Also, the reasonable responses to some of the questions seem as though they should be obvious to a thinking person of even modest intellect, but do not involve what would generally be deemed commonsensical in popular parlance, the question on astrology serving as an example.

8 Opinion(s):

Vanilla Ice said...

I don't think anybody is saying that IQ, in isolation, is the panacea.

It works best with a good dose of EQ (Emotion) and CQ (Creativity).

But we pretty much know that from 130 upwards, you trade off physiology, or some other common trait for intellectual horsepower. There is no free lunch.

That must be why I am squint and bad at sports.

Pity that this article is perhaps suggesting that intellectuals may be dishonest, as I was more of the view that correctness affected the 105 - 125 bracket.

Islandshark said...

@ VI: You must love "The Big Bang Theory" then. Some characters clearly trade off emotion and creativity for IQ.

I actually think it is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I quote:
"Liberalism is status signaling that demonstrates that you are immune to the societal consequences of liberalism."

If this is true then it implies that a conservative, which is the opposite from a liberal, isn't immune to the societal consequences of liberalism.
Thus one would concluded that conservatives are stupid or ill-adapted to modern life.

There must be more, as the majority of conservatives I know are the smart kids on the block.

Thus the third group must be the realists whom like the status aware, signalling liberalists, are also immune to the effects of liberalism on modern society, but whom actually cares enough about their society to give a fuck.


Difference Maker said...

With a > 130 iQ I don't seem to lack anywhere except in eyesight. Even then I'm still great at aiming

Vanilla Ice said...

@Difference Maker. The problem with IQ, is that when you ask, everybody is above average; just like our children. Which makes us all average.

Vanilla Ice said...

I think the problem with the intelligentsia, is that they venture opinions in fields that are not their own; they bullshit to achieve a particular outcome. Prof. Frankfurt specifically singles out the intelligent, and says that we have to be particularly mindful of those that are careless with the truth.

When pushed, most inteeligent folk will cave, and will acknowledge what the truth is. However, the 105-125 group, the privileged white middle class, are the ones who truly believe their liberal education; because the hypotheses make sense, except in the real world.

Viking said...

haha, I think that anyone who has a computer, can plug it in, and make a sentence with no speeling mistakes in it probably has an above-average IQ ...

Smart people are notoriously susceptible to totalitarian ideologies - they tend towards utopianism because it seems natural that everyone must be almost as smart as they are.

They are also no less prone to the 'good-nature' fallacy, whereby truth is made subservient to some other cause such as 'the public good'.

Anonymous said...

"Smart people are notoriously susceptible to totalitarian ideologies - they tend towards utopianism because it seems natural that everyone must be almost as smart as they are."

--- Well said and I can't agree more.