No Love For The High-IQ Basic Income

Yesterday I wrote an article defending MGTOW, which I later re-wrote because the original didn’t meet my quality standards.

It’s funny but not too surprising how some people get worked-up about the idea of a high-IQ basic income (and the topic of IQ in general), so much so that facts and logic go out the window, making it easy to counter the doubters because there is hardly any actual argument to counter – just emotion and popular leftist misconceptions about IQ that are easily refuted.

IQ is more important than many people want to believe/accept. In our increasingly competitive and technological economy and society, more than ever whether you succeed of fail/life outcomes seem to be influenced by IQ, with smarter people tending to rise to the top. The reality that some people by virtue of IQ are perhaps ‘better’ than others and therefore more likely to succeed is liable to provoke anger as this goes against the egalitarianism that teachers, culture and parents have brainwashed all too many into believing, and rather than accept these uncomfortable truths some people prefer to lash out at the messenger.

For those who don’t know, a summary of the high-IQ basic income and why I support it:

The high-IQ basic income is like a government Mensa that pays its members. It would cost less and have a higher ROI than a universal basic income (UBI). Depending on the requirements, only around 5% of the country would be eligible, so it would cost much less than a UBI. The advantage is that the money would have a higher ROI than a UBI because high-IQ people tend to be more productive and creative and therefore would put the money to use in ways that could boost the economy and improve society, such as starting businesses, coding, tinkering, producing art, and writing – activities that otherwise may not be possible if these smart people are too busy trying to make ends meet than thinking, thinking, and creating.

Some counter arguments I encountered:

Poor people tend to have lower IQs because they have less access to high-quality education, live in areas with higher pollution, the compounding effects of poverty, etc. Solving these problems with UBI and some other programs/policies would have a much higher ROI, no?

Not quite so, given the evidence that IQ is heredible, stable throughout life, and unmalleable. From Wikipedia:

Various studies have found the heritability of IQ to be between 0.7 and 0.8 in adults and 0.45 in childhood in the United States.[6][9][19] It may seem reasonable to expect that genetic influences on traits like IQ should become less important as one gains experiences with age. However, that the opposite occurs is well documented. Heritability measures in infancy are as low as 0.2, around 0.4 in middle childhood, and as high as 0.8 in adulthood.[10][20] One proposed explanation is that people with different genes tend to seek out different environments that reinforce the effects of those genes.[9]

A 1994 review in Behavior Genetics based on identical/fraternal twin studies found that heritability is as high as 0.80 in general cognitive ability but it also varies based on the trait, with .60 for verbal tests, .50 for spatial and speed-of-processing tests, and only .40 for memory tests.[6]

In 2006, The New York Times Magazine listed about three quarters as a figure held by the majority of studies,[21] while a 2004 meta-analysis of reports in Current Directions in Psychological Science gave an overall estimate of around .85 for 18-year-olds and older.[10]

And from Arthur Jensen’s infamous paper How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?, summarized by Wikipedia:

.[6] IQ tests are reliable measurements of a real human ability — what people generally describe as “intelligence” — that is important to many parts of contemporary life. Intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, is about 80 percent heritable. Intelligent parents are much more likely to have intelligent children than other parents. Remedial educational programs have failed to raise the measured intelligence of individuals or groups. Indeed, one of the most inflammatory sentences is the opener: “Compensatory education has been tried and apparently has failed.” The article generated extensive discussion and controversy both in the popular press[7] and in the academic literature

From Jensen’s paper, here are two passages that show how efforts to boost IQ through environment have failed:

The left keeps getting the cause and effect wrong. It’s like arguing that if doctors do enough circumcisions babies will eventually be born without foreskin.

Someone else counters:

you realize that one of the main reasons most people want basic income is specifically to provide for ‘other’ 95%… so that we don’t have to basically cull the population?
I am someone who is reasonably sure that I will be able to find gainful employment as long as such exists, but I have no illusions that my neighbors will just quietly starve to death with their families without causing me any undue inconvenience when I remain the only one on my block still able to afford food.
When such a scenario occurs, I can see only 3 general outcomes -
1) my neighbours burn my nice house down on my head, kill me and take my stuff
2) my private, just a bit less-starving or possibly automated, army kills them all
3) we all find a way to get them fed too even though the bother of proving them with the necessities of life is always going to be a net loss for me.
Of those 3 general outcomes, the third one seems less shit.
Tl,DR – Not arguing for UBI here, but any solution that provides for a mere 5% of humans is not a solution, it’s just epic fail. Our current system is already likely to provide for more than that.

A distinction must be made between a UBI, which is universal and without preconditions, and a ‘basic income’, which could have preconditions. A UBI has a much higher likelihood of failing than with preconditions, as I argue here. Inflation-adjusted entitlement spending keeps growing, and a UBI without preconditions would simply compound the existing spending problem.

I think most Americans, who will not qualify for the high-IQ basic income, will see the merits of the program rather than revolt. Most people accept that professional athletes, for example, make more money because they have a scarce skill that society finds valuable; having a high-IQ is also valuable and a scarce resource, and while there are more high-IQ people than professional athletes, the income allotted to each individual who qualifies under the high-IQ basic income would be much less than the paycheck that, say, Alex Rodriguez earns.

Others liken the high-IQ basic income to Nazism, but in all my reading I don’t recall the NSDAP having such a program. The Nazis were more concerned about racial purity than intelligence; second, the Nazis wanted purity – meaning expunging from society those who didn’t meet their strict standards. Our approach is much more humane – to create optimal socioeconomic environments for the cognitively exceptional – not to forcibly remove the less intelligent from society.

The Flynn Effect also came up as a rebuttal, as evidence for how environment can boost IQ scores. Not so fast. There is no actual consensus among the psychometrician community that the alleged rise in IQ scores is attributable to better test-taking ability or true gains in intelligence. It could be that people are getting better at taking the test due to better nutrition, but this does not prove their cognitive capacity (IQ) has increased. Kids who aren’t hungry will score better, which could explain why scores for the lower-end of the IQ distribution and in third world countries have risen, but this is not proof kids are smarter. They could just be operating at their full’ cognitive potential, instead of maybe 75%, thanks to a better environment.

There is evidence that the Flynn Effect has tapered-off in 1st-world countries, suggesting that a good environment will allow an individual to live to his or her full cognitive potential, but not exceed it:

The end of the Flynn effect? A study of secular trends in mean intelligence test scoresof Norwegian conscripts during half a century

The present paper reports secular trends in the mean scores of a language, mathematics, and a Raven-like test
together with a combined general ability (GA) score among Norwegian (male) conscripts tested from the mid
1950s to 2002 (birth cohorts c1935–1984). Secular gains in standing height (indicating improved nutrition and
health care) were also investigated. Substantial gains in GA were apparent from the mid 1950s (test years) to the
end 1960s–early 1970s, followed by a decreasing gain rate and a complete stop from the mid 1990s. The gains
seemed to be mainly caused by decreasing prevalence of low scorers.

There is some evidence IQ scores are actually declining:

British teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts did 30 years ago

Tests carried out in 1980 and again in 2008 show that the IQ score of an average 14-year-old dropped by more than two points over the period.

Among those in the upper half of the intelligence scale, a group that is typically dominated by children from middle class families, performance was even worse, with an average IQ score six points below what it was 28 years ago.

The trend marks an abrupt reversal of the so-called “Flynn effect” which has seen IQ scores rise year on year, among all age groups, in most industrialised countries throughout the past century.

Flynn effect could also be endogenous, meaning that while IQs may be higher, IQ scores don’t rise throughout the persons’s life to suggest exogenous factors. This means Jensen’s argument about the futility of trying to boost IQ scores through intervention still holds. National IQ scores could be boosted through assortative mating, but environment-based programs for ‘first world’ countries are of limited effectiveness at boosting cognitive capacity and is the wrong approach. Environment will help an individual reach their full cognitive potential, but not exceed it, which is what the whole idea behind the high-IQ basic income is about. We already have the resources to challenge the cognitively average, but the cognitively exceptional are often underserved by society, especially in the public schools, where only a tiny percentage of the federal education budget is allotted to gifted programs.

The squandering of America’s most important resource, cognitive capital:

Screenshot taken from: Victims of Public Education By Donald Kordosky

Related:

The Great Debate: Automation, Jobs, Wealth Inequality, Basic Income, Post Scarcity