Liberal Denial of Individual Congenital Cognitive Exceptionalism

As part of the left’s war on Individual Congenital Cognitive Exceptionalism, besides turning high-IQ into a handicap, another tactic is redefining IQ, such as saying there are two types of IQ: ‘common sense’ IQ and ‘mental performance’ IQ, or that IQ and intelligence are distinct.

As an example of this trend, here’s a recent article from Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking that IQ Tests Miss. The byline is: Why smart people sometimes do dumb things.

No doubt you know several folks with perfectly respectable IQs who repeatedly make poor decisions. The behavior of such people tells us that we are missing something important by treating intelligence as if it encompassed all cognitive abilities.

But if smart people occasionally make dumb, irrational decisions, what does that say about people with low IQs? Actually, we have plenty information on that:

A body of research has also demonstrated that individuals with lower IQ levels are more likely to commit more severe (and violent) offences (Crocker & Hodgins, 1997; Hayes & McIIwain, 1988; Martell, 1991). Additionally, evidence exists which demonstrates that criminal offenders have lower IQ’s than non-offenders (Feldman, 1993; Herrnstein & Murray, 1994; Wilson & Herrnstein, 1985). In fact, a large body of early research found clear links between lower intelligence and criminal behaviour (Hischi & Hindelang, 1977; McGarvey, Gabrielli, Bentler, & Mednick, 1981; Culberton et al., 1989). This may be because of deficits in the “executive functions” of the brain, which are thought to be associated with abstract reasoning and concept formation,..

Much of liberal pop psychology is about leveling – singling out those who demonstrate cognitive superiority, whether its beating the stock market consistently or having a high-IQ, and then chopping them down to size, to fulfill some leftist egalitarian utopia where no one is really better than anyone else. That day trader who doubles his money every four months? Dumb luck because markets are rigged by greedy bankers – or he’s working with the bankers! An 8-year-old who tests at a high school level? Lots of good parenting, obviously. A very unfair environmental advantage, according to the left. And that kid still occasionally makes irrational decisions, so he’s not so smart after all. And I know a prodigy who now works as a barista. What a burnout; that kid will have a similar fate. Being smart is worse than being dumb, assuming – that is – anyone can be smarter than anyone else, reasons the left.

A liberal cannot handle reality so he creates his own. As another example of the leftist whitewashing of IQ, in an article for Psychology Today Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D. writes that IQ and intelligence are distinct, but what the author is really doing is conflating IQ with EQ. IQ tests were never intend to empathy.

A behavior or an activity that seems stupid to outsiders may seem rational to the high-IQ person. There’s a lot of subjectivity in trying to measure rationality and ‘emotional intelligence’. Administered IQ tests have proven to be very successful in predicting learning ability, a skill that reasonably correlates with intelligence and, ultimately, success at school and at life. There’s a plethora of data that shows that higher IQ people advance further in schooling and hence earn higher paying jobs and have more wealth. On average, those with high IQs who drop out of school are still more successful compared to low-IQ dropouts. Smart people are so successful because they are so good at picking up skills.

The left wishes this weren’t so. But a low IQ has a few advantages: you’re less likely to go to war and maybe you can get out of the death penalty.

Perhaps a better euphemism for IQ is cognitive capacity (CC) or cognitive potential (CP). A person with a higher IQ has more potential to be creative in intellectually demanding fields such as physics, writing, coding, and math; whether or not he chooses to live up to his ‘cognitive potential’ is up to him.

A common thread of the most successful books of pop behavior psychology; Nicolas Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan, Anti Fragile, Dan Ariely Predictably Irrational, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty ; Malcom Gladwell Outliers, David and Goliath ; and Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow is about denying congenital individual cognitive exceptionalism in the assumption that humans, regardless of intelligence, are hopelessly irrational and that even the mightiest of minds are easily tripped-up by cognitive biases and anchoring effects that even a 5-year-old can see through.

These books agree with the comforting, leftist narrative of cognitive egalitarianism – that everyone is an irrational blank slate and that the only way anyone is exceptional is through luck, zillions of hours of practice, or some unfair environmental advantage – never genes. If someone demonstrates superior ability and success, such as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, it’s because of a combination of endless practice, being at ‘right place at the right time’, and some special environmental advantages. While no one can deny practice is necessary to the mastery of a skill, no professional psychologists have been able to reproduce the 10,000 rule, rendering it merely apocryphal rather than scientific. This should not come as a surprise as there are innumerable exceptions to the 10,000 hour rule of people becoming world-class experts in a field and or demonstrating superior capability in a field with much less than 10,000 hours of practice.

To quote Daniel Kahneman in an interview, he says ‘We’re all prone to make some very simple errors when we try to work out what to do. And we continue to make those mistakes even when they are pointed out to us.’ For this there is no remedy: ‘I don’t have a recipe for avoiding the errors that we’re all prone to, and I don’t think there is one. It’s the way we are.’

Dan Ariely, another researcher in the useless field of social psychology, is famous for giving moral cover to petty thieves and criminals everywhere by saying that it’s perfectly normal that humans rationalize cheating and lying. His other work is focused on showing how humans, regardless of intelligence, fall for simple cognitive biases such as anchoring.

Even if there is some figment of truth to this, so what? Did irrationality or susceptibility to anchoring stop smart people from inventing farming, electricity and other innovations that catapulted civilization from darkness into the light? Because smart people learn faster, one would assume they are less prone to making the same mistakes over an over, especially after the mistakes are pointed out to them. This ‘research’, in agreement with the liberal denial of individual cognitive exceptionalism, is about telling the dull masses who buy these vapid books and attend their seminars what they want to hear, that smart people are not so smart after all because they fall for simple fallacies.

Taleb, another purveyor of liberal blank slate-ism, never outlines viable solutions in his books and all he does is rant against bankers, compensation, and too big to fail. He, like Peter Schiff, Roubni, and the rest of the doom and gloom left, is just a broken clock that got lucky in 2008. He continues to predict gloom even though, as shown below, major financial institutions are much less leveraged and lending standards are much more stringent. Big systems are not the problem, it’s leverage and reckless lending. And Taleb never blames the real culprits of the 2008 financial problem – not bankers or traders, but the delusional homeowners that bit off more home than they could chew and made the mistake of buying low quality, exurban sprawl real estate at a bad time. And also the politicians and leftist pressure groups that forced this reckless lending:

“The National Homeownership Strategy: Partners in the American Dream”, was compiled in 1995 by Henry Cisneros, President Clinton’s HUD Secretary. This 100-page document represented the viewpoints of HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, leaders of the housing industry, various banks, numerous activist organizations such as ACORN and La Raza, and representatives from several state and local governments.”

The leftist doom and gloom media makes it seem like financial crisis are a common occurrence, but there have only been two in the past 100 years with an 80 year gap between them (the Great Depression and 2008). Large system can be very stable for very long periods of time if they are run by competent people and there is not too much leverage, which has been the case since 2008.

Although many fund managers don’t beat the market, many people do beat the market with consistency, and the failure of most pundits and money mangers to predict the future doesn’t prelude the possibility of certain individuals endowed with intellectual gifts from doing what, according to the left, should be seemingly impossible.

This leftist denial of individual congenital cognitive superiority is the reason why the left was so adamant about ‘proving’ that alleged trading prodigy, Mohammad Islam, was a fraud and why CNBC, a conservative network that believes in individual excpetionalism and free markets, gave him the benefit of the doubt and wanted to book him on their show, until the story fell apart. Yes, Mohammad Islam lied, but why was it so important to so many liberals, no one of whom can say they were victims of his shenanigans, that he fail? Because he didn’t put in his full 10,000 hours, because he demonstrated an innate talent in a high-IQ field that couldn’t immediately dismissed as having originated through an unfair environmental advantage, and because he profited off his mental gifts immensely – which shouldn’t be possible, because the left, like Taleb, Robert Shiller and others, says that the markets are rigged, a bubble, and that people cannot beat the market unless by dumb luck or fraud. And as we wrote before, the left doesn’t care about individual exceptionalism in low-IQ things like athletic ability. Mohammad Islam was the anti-blank slate and, with decades of useless liberal pop psychology research, speaking engagements, and book sales as stake, he had to go down.

On a related note, I believe it’s also pretty easy to predict the next multi-billion dollar company if you are smart and you know the field well – a comment that has garnered some skepticism, and deservedly so. So many people have been brainwashed by the ant-exceptionalism left that hen someone says that, yes, you can indeed be exceptional at predicting which companies will be wildly successful and I have proof of this, the instinctual response is to shoot it down. Picking the wining companies is easy if you know what to look for.

In my writings I predicted Facebook, Air BNB, Snapchat, Uber, and Pinterest were not bubbles and would become more valuable, which indeed they did. It’s as simple as looking for a company with a lot of user growth, a wide moat, and in a hot sector. The mistake a lot of VC firms make is investing $50 million in something that is new and edgy (like a watch or a lame phone app that has few users) instead of the already valuable stuff that has gained traction, such as Snapchat and Tinder. At least in the later case you have a near 100% chance of quadrupling your money on buyout or IPO instead of a 99% chance of failure and maybe a .001% chance of having the next Facebook.

Entrepreneurship has a higher ROI if you chose a business that has low start-up costs and expenses, in a hot sector, and viral potential, such as apps and websites, versus businesses with a lot of overhead, like restaurants and retail. But there’s good reason to be risk averse given the high failure rate.