Tag Archives: higher education

Despite indoctrination, a college degree may still be the best path out of poverty

From Washington Post: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

I had to double-check because the chart seems to contradicts the author’s thesis that the American meritocracy is dead and that upward mobility is impossible.

It doesn’t look so bad when you consider that 67% of poor college grads are at least 50-percentile in wealth compared to 49% of rich high school dropouts. It’s even better when you compare poor high school dropouts vs. poor college graduates, which is why a college degree may still be worth the money and the best pathway out of poverty, especially if you major in STEM.

This is why, despite being on the ‘right’–and how colleges have become like ‘West Point’, but instead of producing lieutenants they are producing SJWs–I’m not so quick to join the anti-college bandwagon, because the evidence still suggests that a college degree is worthwhile, especially for STEM. Yes, there is a a lot of student loan debt, but also a ton of financial aid, too, for students of all socioeconomic levels. There is almost no excuse for someone of a reasonably high IQ to not take advantage of these generous financial aid programs to major in STEM.

Some of the most common arguments against college are as follows:

‘I have a degree and all I can find are crappy jobs. Therefore, college is useless.’ This is a legitimate grievance, and I have empathy for millennials who have degrees and are unable to find decent jobs, but this not necessarily proof that college is worthless. For every story of indebtedness and bad jobs prospects, there are other stories, especially on Reddit, of 20 and 30-something graduates in fields such as accounting, STEM, or finance who have solid six-figure jobs, a home, and are paying off their student loan debt. In the case of grads who have bad jobs, consider that getting the degree may have been necessary to get the job in the first place, and despite the low pay, is better than having no job.

‘Look how rich and successful I became (in a field outside of my college degree); the degree is useless, because I became successful in a field that is not applicable to the degree.’ You see this a lot – college grads who major in finance or computer science who become rich and successful in fields outside of computer computer science or finance, and so it would seem like the degree was not necessary. But when you look closer, often these people leveraged their degree early in life, and after amassing financial and social capital (thanks to the early job opportunities and connections afforded by the degree), were later able to parlay these resources to an unrelated endeavor.

‘I became really rich and successful without a degree and or after dropping out.’ Examples include Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, although to their credit neither boasted like this and were more humble. There’s a major survivorship bias here. 80-95% of small businesses fail within a decade, and failures never get as much media attention as successes, giving the false impression that most small businesses succeed. Then you have post-2008 economic trends that favor big, successful companies, that can leverage cheap credit, economies of scale, and networking effects, to keep growing and crowding out smaller businesses. As I explain in Pencil Pushers, success in entrepreneurship requires top-5 percent talent, whereas most day jobs require maybe only top-50 percent talent, to make less money. Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs were able to leverage their superior IQs (as well as connections, family wealth, luck & timing, and other factors) to succeed wildly without a college diploma, which is not applicable to the vast majority of college dropouts who try to follow in their lead, and fail.

Look at all the failed efforts since 2011 or so to create a viable competitor to Facebook (remember Ello, which I correctly predicted would fail), Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, just like tons of money was wasted trying to create a competitor to Google (Bing anyone? There’s a joke that the only reason Bing has market share is because everyone who buys a PC must first use Bing to install Chrome) or the iPod and iPhone (Zune anyone?). The money could have been better spent on Facebook stock (which has surged from $30 to $132 in just four years, and keeps going up to no end), Google stock (up 1100% since 2005), Amazon stock (up 150% since 2014), the S&P 500 (which has nearly doubled since 2011), or on Bay Area real estate (which also has doubled since 2011) than starting an actual company. That’s how easy wealth is created…by piggybacking on existing successes, not trying to create one from the ground up. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the best one.

Contrary to the $200,000 figure cited by James Altucher and others, the average debt per graduate is only around $25,000 – or about the cost of a new car. But unlike a car new, which loses 30-50% of its value after the first year, a degree creates wealth both in terms of higher lifetime earnings and as an inflation hedge. This is because wages for non-graduates have lagged the CPI, and college graduates have seen the most wage growth since the 2009 recovery. This makes a degree a good hedge against inflation and wage deflation.

It doesn’t bear repeating that the higher education system is broken, that too many students are taking on debt to major in low-ROI subjects, and that there is a lot of indoctrination, but as bad as it is, a college degree may still be the best shot for reasonably intelligent people to enter the middle class.

The Student Loan Charade

From Bloomberg: Who’s Profiting from $1.2 Trillion of Federal Student Loans?

For-profit colleges profit, so does the higher-ed bureaucracy.

The issue is while student loan debt and tuition is high, the amount paid out of pocket by the student is low relative to the sticker price and only modestly exceeds the CPI. After taking into account debt forbearance and other options, it’s probably not as bad as the media makes it seem. There is evidence of a feedback loop of more aid and then higher tuition, which leads to more aid.

Another problem is that high school graduates who are not intellectually suited for college are prodded to enroll, subsequently dropping out with little show for their efforts but a mountain of debt that they will never pay off. The newest iteration of SAT has been dumbed-down to such an extent that it’s ineffective at screening for college suitability for all but the highest of scores, and grade inflation renders high school GPAs nearly worthless, too. If the financial aid application process took into account IQ to weed out the students who are most likely to fail, as the military already does to screen eligibility of recruits, maybe we would stop going in circles in this unproductive finger pointing about student loans.

Not to make this too partisan, but liberals are the problem, again and again. Liberals like Sanders whine about student loan debt, despite the fact that it’s their policies that are making life hard for millennials.

Too many bureaucrats jobs depend on the student loan charade continuing, as summarized by Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

…in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

From Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

That’s the situation we have now with financial aid.

Then there is the issue of credentialism, contributing to the tuition feedback loop. With the exception of certain degrees (medicine, biology, engineering, computer sci, etc), a degree is more of a signal of ‘baseline’ general competence rather than competence of a specific skill. But the thing is, there are much cheaper and better * ways to signal general competence, such as with IQ tests or the SAT, than with expensive, time-consuming degrees. Political correctness and fear of disparate impact litigation can explain creeping credentialism.

An finally, the student bears some responsibility for: 1, not dropping out due to laziness or other factors within his control (dropping out eliminates all of the hypothetical income gains from going to college); 2, understanding the terms and conditions of the student loan instead of whining about being exploited; 3, majoring in a field that is likely to pay enough to cover the loans; 4. understanding his limitations, in declining to apply if not smart enough to benefit from college.

* Grade inflation is making GPAs less effective at signalling competence, contributing to creeping credentialism. If a 3.0-4.0 GPA bachelors of arts doesn’t mean much, then the next step is a Masters. Then it’s PHD, and so on.

There is also tendency for things to become harder and more efficient as time goes on, due to competition, evolution through trial and error making people smarter and savvier, and the low-hanging fruit being picked. This is observed in the investing world, with the majority of active management failing to beat the indexes whereas in the past active management was more successful at generating ‘alpha’.

Breaking the Tuition Feedback Loop

From Aaron Clarey:

On Reddit, 4chan, the blogospehre, and on Youtube, there are three ‘great debates’ that have been raging since 2013:

SJWs/Gawker vs. Redpill/PUA/MRA/Gamergate, the largest most heated of the three, is an internet version of the age-old left vs. right schism, but the battle is waged on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and blogs instead of traditional media. Pretty much every everyone with a Twitter or Youtube account is in some way engaged, exchanging barbs back and forth.

The second debate is about automation/the rise of robots, and how individuals, society, and the economy will adapt. The debate is divided among those who argue that the ‘Luddite Fallacy’ will remain a fallacy and that economy will always adapt to automation by creating new jobs; others argue that there will be a large unemployed underclass, necessitating radical social programs like a universal basic income.

The third debate is about college, specifically about whether or not it’s worth attending. The debate is dividend between those who argue against going to college and those who say it’s still worthwhile.

The above video concerns the third debate topic, college.

I agree that tax payer money should not be used to fund low-ROI courses, but that doesn’t mean we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And the entire situation is quite convoluted, involving employers, the government, lawyers, and students.

We’re in a feedback loop of financial aid leading to higher tuition, and employers requiring degrees, which leads to higher college attendance, which means more loans, and, hence, higher tuition.

The value of the overpriced liberal arts degree is not in the subject itself, but to signal to employers baseline competence. All else being equal, in the eyes of an employer, a person with a History or Philosophy degree is more valuable than someone without a degree. A degree in one of the more ‘rigorous’ liberal arts subjects (History, philosophy, or English, for example) signals above-average literacy, concentration, and critical thinking skills, all of which are valuable for on-site training. A person who is smarter can learn faster, even if the job is unrelated to the degree. So, the degree acts like an IQ or competency test, albeit an overpriced and poorly designed one. The reason why employers use degrees instead easy-to-administer IQ tests is because of the threat of disparate impact litigation, which is very costly and difficult to fight. Typically, only large companies, like Proctor and Gamble, have the resources to fight these lawsuits, and hence can administer these tests.

There are some solutions:

Overturn Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Without fear of litigation, let companies develop their own criteria for screening for competence.

Replace costly diplomas with SAT scores, IQ scores, or an acceptance letter from a prestigious university. Being accepted to Harvard, Caltech, or MIT signals intellect that is in the top 5% of the population.

No more taxpayer subsided financial aid for non-STEM majors and or low-IQ students. This would guarantee a higher ROI for financial aid and hence lower tuition for everyone. Too bad there is zero likelihood of this happening, particularly making financial aid contingent on having a sufficiently high IQ.

The left complains incessantly about tuition, yet on the grounds of political correctness oppose the solutions that would break the cycle. In the liberal world, it’s better that everyone suffer high tuition fees than to face the reality that maybe not everyone is intellectually cut out for higher education. Instead of confronting the reality that some people are smarter than others, make everyone pay more, to avoid this inconvenient truth. And of course, as Aaron says, shrinking the college industrial complex will mean a lot of unemployed liberal professors.

College Degree – A Necessary Evil

From Return of Kings: The True Return On Investment Of A College Education

A college degree in a high-paying field, such as STEM, finance or economics, can have a very good ROI. Contrary to the $100k-200k figures thrown around by the anti-college crowd, the average debt per student is around $30k, or about the same as a new car – except unlike a car, a degree doesn’t lose half its value after you drive it off the lot. In fact, given the growing wage premium between high school graduates and degree holders and the inflation-adjusted rising cost of tuition, a degree only gains value. While student loans are hard to discharge, paying them back is not the end of the world if you’re making a solid 5-figure or higher income with your STEM degree. Everyone freaks out about student loans like it’s the plague, when car loans and small business loans (or a loan for any expensive, depreciating product) are far worse.

As show below, degree holders -especially STEM majors – earn considerably more money than individuals without a degree:

A STEM major makes over $1.5-2 million lifetime. Even a crappy degree still has a 30% greater lifetime earnings potential than no degree ($750k vs. $1 million).

And degree holders not only make more money, but are much less likely to be unemployed:

A $50,000 STEM degree in exchange for $1 million in extra lifetime earnings seems like a good investment. Even if you took that $50k and put it in the stock market at 6% a year, you would only have $287,000 after 30 years. This underscores how it’s important to not take on too much debt and to major in something that pays well. And unlike the hypothetical investment scenario, the $50k in loans is ‘free’ money. You are making $1 million from no initial investment of your own, versus having to put up your own $50k capital to invest in the stock market. Even after accounting for taxes and repaying the loan, you are still left a very large chunk of money (assuming you live within your means and invest what is left over).

Credentialism is the real problem in that people need a degree to signal to employers a minimum threshold of competence, even if the degree is unrelated to the job. In the post-2008 hyper-competitive economy where for most jobs the supply of labor vastly exceeds the demand, employers have the luxury to choose the best and the brightest out of a very large pool of applicants for even the most mundane of jobs. Having the degree, which in many instances functions as an expensive, poorly-designed IQ test, gets your foot in the door. The anti-college crowd may be doing a disservice by encouraging people to pursue entrepreneurial activities that have little hope of success, particularity for people who are simply not smart enough to be successful entrepreneurs in today’s economy. If you’re smart and determined enough to be a professional coder without college, go for it.

Stanford’s Free Tuition

The left is fuming over this:

Stanford offers free tuition for families making less than $125,000

The left hates how they had to pay full tuition to go to a crappy no-name school, but high-IQ Stanford (and other Ivy League) students get free tuition and all the prestige that comes with a Stanford degree. This is the type of pro-growth policy we need, to give high-IQ people free stuff since they create more economic value than everyone else. The left would rather deny the un-egalitarian reality some people are smarter (and hence intrinsically more valuable) than others – than to help the very low-income people they claim to support. The left wants free financial aid for dull students to attend low-IQ colleges, and to mix smart students with the dull ones. That way everyone is equal, even if resources (intellectual talent) are wasted.


Some Ideas to Reform Higher Education

Creating Optimal Socioeconomic Environments for the Cognitively Exceptional

Some Ideas to Reform Higher Education

Unlike some libertarians, I don’t believe the state is inherently oppressive. I believe in incrementalism, in making small changes to make a better society rather than uprooting society. An example is optimizing the allocation of public resources. We have a finite quantity of capital from tax payers dollars, it should be allocated in such a manner that it will provide the greatest ROI as measured by advancing the canon of human knowledge, responding to and staving off crisis, growing the economy, improving living standards, and advancing technology. Other pro-growth ideas borrow from Reaganomics, such as lowering taxes. Yet, although I acknowledge the government can play an auspicious role as far as public goods such as defense, infrastructure, venture capital and research is concerned, majoritarianism/democracy means people voting to enlarge the welfare state by taking wealth from the most productive and spreading it to the least, a form of slavery in which the productive are exploited by the parasitic. Market-libertarianism, but with some intervention when necessary, is possibly an ideal middle ground in reconciling individualism and freedom with government and the rule of law, a system similar to the one we have today. The government doesn’t need to leave the picture entirely – it just needs to do a better job allocating resources and devising policy, and through small changes not only is this possible, but the government can be a force for good, working in tandem with the private sector.

One of my favorite proposals the high-IQ basic income, along with other proposals. Another idea, and the topic of this article, is some sort of free education for high-IQ individuals as they are the most likely to derive a benefit from higher education. The problem with our current system of financial aid is that:

1. Too many students with financial aid, particularly low IQ students, drop out and or get poor grades – a waste of taxpayer money.

2. Students graduate with too much debt.

3. Existing scholarships and grants are too small, failing to sufficiently cover tuition costs and either excluding too many students or admitting students who are not qualified.

Unlike regular student loan programs, under our proposal they would not have to pay it back. The program could still be a success and less costly than existing programs because high-IQ people are more likely to finish college and only 5% or of the population would be smart enough to be eligible for this subsidy. Present student loan programs are wasteful due to high delinquency rates, creating a vicious cycle of students defaulting, governments offering more money, and colleges raising prices.

The Economist reported in June 2014 that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.2 trillion, with over 7 million debtors in default. Public universities increased their fees by a total of 27% over the five years ending in 2012, or 20% adjusted for inflation. Public university students paid an average of almost $8,400 annually for in-state tuition, with out-of-state students paying more than $19,000. For two decades ending in 2013, college costs have risen 1.6% more than inflation each year. Government funding per student fell 27% between 2007 and 2012. Student enrollments rose from 15.2 million in 1999 to 20.4 million in 2011, but fell 2% in 2012.[9][10]

The ROI of my proposal can optimized further by only offering free higher education to high-IQ people who major in a STEM field, or any field that is sufficiently rigorous. Dubious programs, such as child development, would not be eligible. Another idea is to drop the prereq classes, so that a person majoring in math, for example, would not be required to take an anthropology course.

There are so many ideas of how higher education can be improved; another idea which I frequently explore is how solve the problem of credentialism.

College, to some extent, is an IQ test, but a very expensive and poorly designed one. Credentialism can be reduced by replacing costly diplomas with administered IQ tests, SAT , or any inexpensive test that signals cognitive ability, but ultimately any screening program where the results can be interpreted to mean some individuals are smarter than others will be fraught with much controversy, especially if it factors into hiring. The military uses such tests (you can technically have a PHD in math but still not get into the military if you fail their IQ test), but it would be hard to transition this to broader society. Some people are more comfortable with encumbering millions of smart students with debt than conceding that, yes, some people are smarter than others.

A commenter on Scott’s blog replies:

Which credentials do wish to get rid of? I’d rather have an IQ 125 surgeon who went to medical school than an IQ 150 surgeon who was self taught.

Credentialism isn’t only about signaling intelligence. Its a way of ensuring that certain standards in education are being met.

For specific fields credentialism is necessary, but you see credentialism for jobs that obviously do not require an advanced degree. This is because employers understandably want to hire best and the brightest out of a huge applicant pool, and the post-2008 economic environment is one where for most jobs the supply of labor vastly exceeds the demand, giving employers the luxury of being very selective. Smart people learn faster which means less money spent on training, and they are better at anticipating the needs of employers and customers. But such intelligence can be signaled with an IQ, SAT, or a Wonderlic Test instead of a costly diploma. A college degree is expensive and typically takes four years – time and money that could be better spent. That is the issue…students taking on too much debt because employers req. a degree because the degree (to some extent) signals competence, when there are better, cheaper ways of signaling competence.

The trades, for example, typically require certification, which can be obtained out of a higher education setting. This certification can be extended to all career choices, and could sidestep the whole IQ and disparate impact issue. To get a job in IT you must pass the IT test, which contains questions directly relevant to IT. Lower IQ people may not be able to pass the test, but it would not be subject disparate impact since the question asked directly pertain to the IT job. IQ screening is useful if the employer plans to train people on their own dime; employers want trainees who are easily trainable, and studies show high-IQ people learn with fewer repetitions than everyone else. Certification means the person seeking a certificate must get the training, which creates a financial constraint for some people. Giving free training courses to high-IQ people, who are the most likely to complete and benefit from the training, seems like good policy, but again, will be met with resistance by the left.

High school guidance counselors should dissuade individuals who are likely not smart enough to benefit from going to college, even if some of these students otherwise have high GPAs. Or discourage students from majoring in low-paying fields. Unfortunately, IQ tests are no longer being administered frequently except in instances where there is a suspected learning disability, so due to grade inflation many high school graduates, even graduates with modest IQs, are mislead into believing they are cognitively suited for higher education. The SAT used to be an effective screening tool, but political pressure has made it more like a general knowledge test and less like an IQ test, making it less effective at identifying exceptional individuals and assessing college suitability.

There is the National Merit Scholarship and although it does screen for high IQ, a $35 million annual endowment is hardly enough and excludes a lot of people who are smart, but otherwise don’t meet all the qualifications. Since it’s a privately funded organization, understandably its budget is limited compared to the federal government.

Obama’s 2-year free community college plan is a start, but it would perhaps be better to only make it applicable to those of a sufficiently high IQ and offer more coverage, otherwise there would be a lot of waste due to dropouts, while also falling short for those who would really stand to benefit.

The issue is textbooks and other expenses, which aren’t covered under Obama’s plan.

From http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2015/01/20-obama-free-community-college-bad-idea-sotu-butler

For one, the plan is badly targeted. Covering the full tuition of all community college students would mean middle-income, and even upper-income, students would get hefty subsidies, even though many do not need the help. Meanwhile, many lower-income students at community colleges would still not have the money to cover the non-tuition costs, such as books, supplies and transportation – and room and board for those not living at home. These costs usually dwarf tuition at a public community college – annual total costs averages over $16,000, while free tuition would account for only about one-fifth of that. True, lower-income students can qualify for Pell grants, but the maximum this year is $5,730, making community college a financial challenge for many, even if tuition were free.

A solution could be to use Wikipedia-like textbooks curated by Wikipedia editors and composed from Wikipedia articles. These guides could be printed and distributed cheaply.

There are Pell Grants, but they don’t screen for IQ nor, as the passage states, do they offer enough money. The result is that you have a lot of dropouts and insufficient funds to keep up with college costs.

Free 4-year private education would be prohibitively expensive, even if eligibility is restricted to those of the top 1% of intelligence. But to make public education free, according to The Atlantic, would cost $62 billion.

According to new Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans.

But if the government gave free public education to the top 5% of IQ (>120), that would only cost $3 billion. If restricted to STEM, it would be even less.

So this plan is financially feasible, but would face much bigger ideological hurdles (from those who argue the screening process in inherently racist because a disproportionately small percentage of blacks and Hispanics, who tend to score lower on IQ tests than whites and Asians, would qualify) than budgetary ones.

Much Needed IQ Realism in the Anti and Pro College Movements

There’s a misconception by the pro-college crowd that college is a stepping stone to success, or, according to the the anti-college crowd, that skipping college will give you an invaluable head-start in life. There are caveats to both of these, and the immutable laws of biology are to blame. College is just another IQ test, albeit a very expensive and poorly designed one. Unless you’re in the top 5-10% or so in IQ, you will likely just ‘get by’ in college no matter how hard you study, nor will you become wildly successful if you choose to not go to college; you’ll just be average.

Those to the left of the Bell Curve will most likely drop out of college and end up being failures regardless if they go to college or not, so the best advice for these people is to simply not go to college.

For those who do complete college, the degree is more valuable than the acquired knowledge because having the degree signifies at least an above average intelligence and hence an above average ability to acquire nearly any skill, in what is known as skills transference.

From Phil Greenspun’s blog:

This blind spot is curious because there is a fair amount of evidence that many American college graduates learned little during their four-year sojourn. The book Academically Adrift, for example, cites data from a Collegiate Learning Assessment test showing that many students don’t improve much from freshman to senior year. Studies on students who were admitted to elite schools, such as Harvard, but elected not to attend have found that there was little difference in lifetime income attributable to actually attending the elite schools (though being qualified for admission had a lot of value). There were some interesting additions to this literature at the conference.

Being qualified to get into an elite school signifies high-intelligence; such high intelligence carries benefits throughout life regardless if one actually attends the school. Those in the top 1% of IQ, such as Bill Gates, James Altucher and Steve Jobs, for example, have the capacity to excel regardless if they chose to go to college or not. Ultimately, we believe that independent of higher education, IQ is the ultimate determinant of success or failure, especially in the post-2008 economy.

The high-IQ folks without college fare better than the lower IQ folks with college, because smart people are better at acquiring skills and making decisions. Look at all these high-IQ teen and 20-something app developers who either have no college or dropped out and are earning thousands of dollars a month. Many IQ tests measure memory, such as reciting numbers, and studies have shown people with superior IQs typically have superior working memories. That’s how smart people do well in college and everyone else does poorly or drops out, because smart people excel at retaining the stuff that they read and then regurgitating the correct answers on test day. People of below-average to average intelligence don’t read much and quickly forget much of what little they do read. That’s why a person with a < 100 IQ will almost never get a > 3.5 GPA, because he simply cannot retain the necessary materiel in the allotted time – no matter how hard he tries.

But on the other hand, from Salon:

In reviewing the performance of more than eighty-eight thousand students, Hiss and Franks found that students who perform well in college were the ones who had gotten strong grades in high school, even if they had weak SAT scores. They also found that students with weaker high school grades did less well in college—even if they had stronger SAT scores. Summing up their findings they wrote, “Many of us who have spent our careers as secondary and university faculty and administrators find compelling the argument that ‘what students do over four years in high school is more important than what they do on a Saturday morning.’”

While there is a positive, but small, correlation between SAT scores (a proxy for IQ) and college performance, there are many instances of individual with good scores (Bill Gates and Zuckerberg, most famously) dropping out. These smart, high-scorers have the cognitive capacity to be college whizzes, but for various reasons they chose not to. But, as shown by the Salon article, SAT scores strongly correlated with wealth of the test taker. Some on the left argue that this is because wealthier families give their children an unfair advantage over poorer ones, resulting in higher scores for wealthier students. From Lisa Wade, PhD:

First, it is certainly true that children with more economic resources, on average, end up better prepared for standardized tests. They tend to have better teachers, more resource-rich educational environments, more educated parents who can help them with school and, sometimes, expensive SAT tutoring.

But what about the income of the test-taker years after completing the test? How do low-income high-scorers fare later in life? I suspect later in life that high-scorers earn more than low-scorers, when matched by income at the time of the test. If this is true, then it lends credence to the earlier argument that IQ, not college completion, is the best predictor of success at life, and the SAT is not only an intelligence test but a ‘future success’ test, versus a ‘rich parents test’.

But what about, as the Salon article mentions, the test takers of wealthier families scoring better? Doesn’t that prove the test is invalid? Not necessary, the test could be measuring what existing data has already shown: IQ and income are highly correlated, that IQ is strongly hereditary, and therefore the progeny of high-IQ, high-income families are expected to get higher SAT scores.

In blaming rich people and trying to discredit the SAT, the left does a disservice to the thousands of smart, poor students who do score well and benefit from the SAT. Second, because the welfare left is so uncomfortable with the idea that some individuals are cognitively better than others, they want to make the SAT less like an IQ test and more like a subject test; this benefits rich test takers because they have more time and money to ‘game’ the test with studying and tutors, in the same way lazy rich high-school kids have their rich parents do their homework. That’s why GPAs for non-STEM are pretty much irrelevant, and thanks to the left’s war on biology, the SAT is going down that same path. The left’s inability to confront inconvenient biological truths that, yes, some groups of people are smarter than others does a disservice to the low income people they supposedly want to help.

Some on the left also assume that memorization, a must come at the expense of critical thinking when, in fact, those who excel at memorization often excel at reasoning, too. Typically, to have a high IQ means you must be above average at all aspects of intelligence, as a high IQ score requires scoring well on all of the components of an IQ test, although there are some exceptions such as ‘culture-fair’ tests.

The question is, why do we need to lie to ourselves and others about the role of IQ in success. Why do we need to spread false hope though bad advice; why isn’t the truth, and only the truth, good enough. By ignoring or downplaying the role of IQ in life success, both the pro-college and anti-college crowd are setting unrealistic expectations for their followers. High-IQ is not a guarantee of success, but it dramatically improves the odds, with or without college. Part of the HBD movement is about promoting intellectual honesty and scientific realism over reductive ‘environment/nurture’ based wishful thinking.