Bryan Caplan’s “IQ With Conscience”

Bryan Caplan criticizes what he perceives as ‘brutality’ among IQ realists: IQ With Conscience

He starts off strong:

I’m an IQ realist, all the way. IQ tests aren’t perfect, but they’re an excellent proxy for what ordinary language calls “intelligence.” A massive body of research confirms that IQ predicts not just educational success, but career success. Contrary to critics, IQ tests are not culturally biased; they fairly measure genuine group differences in intelligence.

But then it falls apart:

Yet I’ve got to admit: My fellow IQ realists are, on average, a scary bunch. People who vocally defend the power of IQ are vastly more likely than normal people to advocate extreme human rights violations. I’ve heard IQ realists advocate a One-Child Policy for people with low IQs. I’ve heard IQ realists advocate a No-Child Policy for people with low IQs. I’ve heard IQ realists advocate forced sterilization for people with low IQs. I’ve heard IQ realists advocate forcible exile of people with low IQs – fellow citizens, not just immigrants. I’ve heard IQ realists advocate murdering people with low IQs.

He is wrong on two counts:

Caplan addresses externalities, with is a valid criticism, but waves it away by shifting the burden of proof on the reader to find such a miracle solution that is compatible with these mythical, illusory ‘human rights’:

But don’t low-IQ people produce negative externalities – negative externalities that well-intentioned consequentialists will want to address? I’m no consequentialist, but the consistent consequentialist position is: Not if the “solution” is worse than the problem! And if your “solution” involves gross human rights violations, there’s every reason to think it is worse than the problem. We should be especially wary of self-styled consequentialists who rush toward maximal brutality instead of patiently searching for cheap, humane ways to cope with the social costs of low IQ.

One can argue that lifetime welfare (as well as other socially undesirable consequences) for a low-IQ person is a violation of my own ‘human rights’ [1] as a taxpayer and a free citizen, when other alternatives would have been much cheaper. As Jordan Petersen showed, those with an IQ less than 85 are almost always permanently unemployed.

2. Consider third world overpopulation: think of all the suffering and disease that can prevented with birth control, than allowing the population to surge and then die at a young age from disease. The easiest way to lessen ‘total human suffering’ to prevent low-IQ groups from breeding themselves into an oblivion of poverty and early death.

Also, not once on any HBD forum or discussion have I seen anyone advocate murder; rather, they support preventative measures to arrest the low-IQ poverty-welfare cycle.

As someone in the comments notes:

How strange. I read Steve Sailer’s blog (on almost every day. Its commenters include hundreds of IQ realists. I have never seen any remark even vaguely approximating the horrible things you mention. Could it be that Steve carefully moderates them all out – which I doubt, because there are too many posts and too many comments? Or could it be that these repellent sentiments are far rarer than you allege?

Yes, prima facie, murder is wrong, but preventing someone from ever being conceived (not even abortion) is not murder (or at least not according to any legal definition of murder I am aware of).

Other solutions induce providing financial incentives for low-IQ people to not procreate (which in the spirit of libertarian, is a market-based solution to a social problem). From the comments:

Point taken but you could say that about any bad trait along with IQ (disabled people, ppl with DS.) Haters a plenty. My answer to your complaint is an economic one: simply deincentivize low IQ people from having children rather than incentivizing them to do so as we do now. It shouldn’t be controversial to not like the gov’t supporting Idiocracy.

Agree. America’s welfare system is like a form of reverse-Darwinism, survival of the un-fittest.

Caplan again:

So here’s what I say to every IQ realist who forgets common decency: You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself. You embarrass intelligence itself. Teaching IQ with conscience probably won’t end the stigma against the science of intelligence. But if we teach IQ without conscience, we deserve that stigma.

No, it’s what Caplan has defined as ‘common decency’ to support his own pre-existing personal bias as to what constitutes ‘decency’ and ‘conscience’ in his own mind. This article is an embarrassment to him, not only in the sloppy logic but how he paints with such a broad brush something he doesn’t understand yet so strongly opposes. Maybe Caplan wants a society of only mouth breathers who buy stuff–and America has plenty of those–but a successful society is an equilibrium between consumers and creators.

Caplan posted a follow-up: IQ With Conscience: Three Followups, which can be summed up as ‘ppl said mean things about IQ, therefore it is wrong,’ or something like that.

[1] The funny thing is, neocons used ‘human right’ as an impetus for the invasion of Iraq, which libertarian opposed. Maybe human rights are not the best benchmark for assessing the worthiness of policy.