Tag Archives: iq

Why it seems like many high-IQ people ‘underachieve’

As if their earlier article How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent In Math wasn’t bad enough, Nauseo.us magazine keeps raising the bar in demonstrating stupidity about all matters pertaining to IQ and intelligence, in their latest article If You Think You’re a Genius, You’re Crazy. We need to raise awareness about Nauseo.us magazine in the hope people will stop taking them seriously and stop reading and sharing their articles. Nauseo.us is just anther version of ‘fake news’, but under the veneer of intellectualism and ‘science’. People read Nauseo.us because they think they are gaining some sort valuable scientific insight, but they’re just stepping in the brain droppings of someone who has no idea what they are talking about.

But cognitive disinhibition has a dark side: It is positively associated with psychopathology. For example, schizophrenics find themselves bombarded with hallucinations and delusions that they would be much better off filtering out.2 So why don’t the two groups become the same group? According to Harvard University psychologist Shelly Carson, the creative geniuses enjoy the asset of superior general intelligence. This intelligence introduces the necessary cognitive control that enables the person to separate the wheat from the chaff. Bizarre fantasies are divorced from realistic possibilities.

According to this conception, high intelligence is essential to creative genius, but only insofar as it collaborates with cognitive disinhibition. Exceptional intelligence alone yields useful but unoriginal and unsurprising ideas. Marilyn vos Savant made it into the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s highest recorded IQ, and yet has not managed to find a cure for cancer or even build a better mousetrap.

Often, ‘brilliance’ is conferred upon by peers, not by absolute merit alone. The Nobel Prize is mostly luck on top of existing skill (skill is a necessary but insufficient condition)…many others are equally skilled, but only a handful of people can win, by making the right discoveries at the right time. Had Einstein not discovered the photoelectric effect, some other German likely would have. Einstein gets most of the credit for general relativity, but a handful of mathematicians who are far less famous discovered the underlying tensor math that made general relativity possible. Using awards and public adulation as criteria for intelligence and brilliance is insufficient. Often, a major discovery involves many people who build the foundation of knowledge, but only maybe two or three people get most of the fame for publishing results that use such knowledge.

Also, Marilyn vos Savant’s IQ ‘score’ of 228 is a hoax, discredited by psychometricians, and was a contributing factor in the Guinness Book of World Records retiring the ‘highest IQ’ category in 1990:

Alan S. Kaufman, a psychology professor and author of IQ tests, writes in IQ Testing 101 that “Miss Savant was given an old version of the Stanford-Binet (Terman & Merrill 1937), which did, indeed, use the antiquated formula of MA/CA × 100. But in the test manual’s norms, the Binet does not permit IQs to rise above 170 at any age, child or adult. And the authors of the old Binet stated: ‘Beyond fifteen the mental ages are entirely artificial and are to be thought of as simply numerical scores.’ (Terman & Merrill 1937). …the psychologist who came up with an IQ of 228 committed an extrapolation of a misconception, thereby violating almost every rule imaginable concerning the meaning of IQs.”[12] Savant has commented on reports mentioning varying IQ scores she was said to have obtained.[13]

Anyone who still believes her IQ is 228 (or anywhere close to that) is unqualified to write about IQ.

The author also perpetuates the common misconception that having a high IQ is mostly a waste or meaningless, except for the handful of people who apply their intelligence, to, in words of the author, ‘cure cancer’. This is an example of binary thinking or false dichotomy: either a high-IQ person makes an earth-shattering discovery, preferably all on his own, or his IQ is useless and possibly even a burden–there is no in between. As part of the left’s denial of IQ, they create a hurdle for intelligence that is so impossibly high (making earthshaking-discoveries) that virtually no one can clear it, including most brilliant people. As it turns out, having a high-IQ is good for many things–not just for making those ‘earth-shattering discoveries’, but rather more mundane things such as publishing a book, publishing a research paper, making more money, living longer, etc. From Beyond the Blank Slate: How Libs Turn High-IQ Into a Handicap;

While the Terman study produced no Nobel Prize winners or technology billionaires, statistically speaking, a higher IQ increases the likelihood of success as measured by academic output, creative output (like punishing a book), income, and other indicators. There is a fascinating TedX talk about how standardized tests, contrary to what the left says about such tests being useless, can predict lifetime outcomes such as wages, being published in a journal, level of academic attainment, and so on.

You look at the most successful web 2.0 companies and all of the people involved – from the investors to the founders to the employees – all have above average IQs. The same goes for Wall St., or the vast majority of high-paying professions, where high intellect is required. The next Bill Gates or Zuckerberg isn’t going to have an average IQ. While there are low-tech ways to get rich such as skilled trades, the vast majority of people in unskilled professions, such as the low-paying service sector, make little money and barely get by. That’s not to say we should try to help these people – we shouldn’t, because that would be a waste of resources that could otherwise benefit more useful members of society, and entitlement spending is already too high.

Regarding the part about curing cancer, again the author demonstrates ignorance on multiple accounts. Cancer is not just a single disease–but one of many. To say cancer is ‘curable’ is a misnomer–cancer can never truly be ‘cured’ in the same way most viruses and bacterial infections can be; instead, doctors try to achieve a NED (no evidence of disease) state for patients, and if the disease does not recur, it is considered cured, but there is no guarantee it won’t recur. Developing cancer treatments, like most advanced technologies, requires large research teams and lots of money…no single high-IQ person will ‘cure cancer’ by his or own own self.

But then why does it seems like so many high-IQ people ‘underachieve’…first, as explained above, the left has created an unreasonably high threshold or standard for what constitutes success for high-IQ people. The archetype of the underachieving high-IQ person is largely a social construct or trope that is perpetuated by the less intelligent (but also some intelligent people do it do) who want to feel better about themselves and or to downplay the importance of IQ. But if it seems like high-IQ people ‘underachieve’, there are two possible reasons why:

A child may learn to read at 3 instead of 5, which suggests an IQ of 167 (using mental age), and is a very impressive feat, but there is no obvious proportionally equivalent achievement for someone who is, say, 40 years old (how do you read at a 67-year-old level?). This is why mental age fails for measuring IQ beyond childhood and why mental age tends to be unreliable for the highest of IQ.

Anther problem is that much of the ‘low handing fruit’ in terms of discoveries has now been picked, a problem compounded by the exponential growth of the world population over the past 100 year and the use of computers to automate the research process. This could explain why the age of Nobel Prize recipients in the sciences is increasing.

Gustav Källstrand, a senior curator at the Nobel Museum, told us that 100 years ago there were only around 1,000 physicists. Today there are an estimated one million in the world.

Now only is there more competition due to larger population size, but there is so much more requisite material to learn. An aspiring 21st-century theoretical physicist must learn quantum theory, string theory, and general relativity, whereas 100 years ago such concepts didn’t exist, and learning this stuff, which is very mathematically intensive, takes time. Due to the aforementioned factors, much of math and physics research over the past half century has been very incremental, often involving a fine-combed search for small adjustments to preexisting ideas–not ‘earth shattering’ breakthroughs. But this applies to all fields–economics, biology, psychology, etc. The average published economics paper is much longer and has many more co-authors than economics papers published half a century ago. Modern papers often run 40-60 pages and involve tons of compiled data and very sophisticated statistical analysis, taking many years and multiple economists to complete, and if that is not hard enough, the rejection rate is very high for prestigious journals due to the oversupply to papers and scarcity of journal space to publish them (as shown below). Like everything else, the market for academic research has become very saturated over the past few decades. Some on the ‘right’ insist the world is dumbing-down, yet all these major prestigious journals are being inundated with more manuscripts than they could ever hope to publish.

Source: Nine facts about top journals in economics

Anyone who is STEM and finance would agree that it’s more competitive and difficult than ever, even for brilliant people hoping to stand out among the ranks of their equally brilliant peers.

Is the World Becoming Smarter or Dumber?

A comment by Greg Cochran is going viral:

There must have been some selection for IQ – without it, our brains would have disintegrated. But that selection can’t have been very strong, or intelligence would have gone up like a rocket. Today it’s going down at a rate of something like three points a century – think what would have happened if it had changed that rapidly, either up or down, over the last couple of millennia.


In the past few weeks there has been considerable interest in dysgenics. Many in the NRx-community subscribe to the dumbing-down or ‘idiocracy’ hypothesis that global intelligence is declining. Note: a distinction must be made between biological intelligence and intelligence as measured by an IQ test. Due to re-norming, the average of the latter will always remain at ’100′ even if biological IQ falls or rises. The debate concerns the former.

There are three approaches to testing the the dumbing-down hypothesis: phenotypic (skull measurements), genomic (genetic markers linked to IQ), and empiric (IQ tests and other data).


A handful of studies have shown a decrease in polygenetic markers linked to IQ. A study of Icelanders by Kong et al 2017 showed a .3 point decline/decade of a polygenic measure of IQ:

However, this seems gradual enough that technology should be able to reverse it.

One scientist argues the world is becoming dumber due to the accumulation of various genetic mutations:

Human intelligence may have actually peaked before our ancient predecessors ever left Africa, Gerald Crabtree writes in two new journal articles. Genetic mutations during the past several millennia are causing a decline in overall human intellectual and emotional fitness, he says. Evolutionary pressure no longer favors intellect, so the problem is getting exponentially worse. He is careful to say that this is taking quite a long time, so it’s not like your grandparents are paragons of brilliance while your children will be cavemen rivaling Hartman’s SNL character. But he does posit that an ancient Athenian, plucked from 1000 BC, would be “among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions.”

His central thesis is that each generation produces deleterious mutations, so down the line of human history, our intelligence is ever more impaired compared to that of our predecessors.

The major problem with this thesis is trying to ascertain the intelligence of ancient humans. Intelligence tests obviously didn’t exist back then, so all we have are ‘proxies’ for intelligence (such as written works, architecture, skull volume, etc.), as well as possible genomic markers.


The ‘Encephalization quotient’ seems to be a good proxy for intelligence, in which humans rank the highest.

Studies have also shown a positive correlation between head size and IQ. Studies that show Americans’ heads are getting bigger, could imply Americans are also becoming smarter.

Specifically, the researchers found skull size in white men has grown by 200 cubic centimeters, which is about the volume of a tennis ball. Skull height, from the base to the top of men’s heads, has increased by 8 millimeters—so about 0.3 inches. Among white women, skull size has grown by 180 cubic centimeters and height has increased by 7 millimeters.

Overall, skull height has grown 6.8 percent since the late 1800s. That’s a bigger percentage than the growth of body height, which has increased 5.6 percent. And comparatively, femur length has only increased about 2 percent. The researchers said that skull shape in Europe has also changed, but not as drastically as in the U.S.

However head size is an imperfect measure of intelligence. Although earlier humans may have had larger brains, they may not have been smarter.

Other evidence suggests brain shrinkage, going as far back as the Stone Age: If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?

Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.” If our brain keeps dwindling at that rate over the next 20,000 years, it will start to approach the size of that found in Homo erectus, a relative that lived half a million years ago and had a brain volume of only 1,100 cc. Possibly owing to said shrinkage, it takes me a while to catch on. “Are you saying we’re getting dumber?” I ask.


The Flynn Effect suggests biological intelligence is rising. But other data suggests the Flynn Effect has stalled or is even reversing.

Regarding the reversal or stalling of the Flynn Effect, a possible explanation is that that earlier gains in IQ were attributed to rapid improvement in living conditions due to industrialization, not genetics, from the earlier post Idiocracy in America? Probably not:

Even if the FLynn effect is tapering off, that doesn’t mean it will reverse. Anther possibility is that early gains in IQ are attributable to environment, and now that essentials such as food, shelter, sanitation, clean water, electricity, and literacy are much more common, the ‘low hanging’ fruit has been picked, putting more precedence on genetic factors, which are much slower to evolve than environmental ones, which is why it may seem like the FLynn effect is reversing.

However, some counter that the Flynn Effect is only tenuously related to g, but rather representative of gains in abilities that are the least g-loaded:

Because children attend school longer now and have become much more familiar with the testing of school-related material, one might expect the greatest gains to occur on such school content-related tests as vocabulary, arithmetic or general information. Just the opposite is the case: abilities such as these have experienced relatively small gains and even occasional decreases over the years. Recent meta-analytic findings indicate that Flynn effects occur for tests assessing both fluid and crystallized abilities. For example, Dutch conscripts gained 21 points during only 30 years, or 7 points per decade, between 1952 and 1982.[7] But this rise in IQ test scores is not wholly explained by an increase in general intelligence. Studies have shown that while test scores have improved over time, the improvement is not fully correlated with latent factors related to intelligence.[14] Rushton has shown that the gains in IQ over time (the Lynn-Flynn effect) are unrelated to g.[15][16] Researchers have shown that the IQ gains described by the Flynn effect are due in part to increasing intelligence, and in part to increases in test-specific skills.[17][18][19]

According to a study of reaction times, perhaps Victorians were smarter than their modern-day counterparts, but the study is beset by a lot of possible methodological flaws and is hardly conclusive.

However, fertility and IQ appear to be inversely related, leading to a possible dysgenic effect over many generations:

…intelligence is negatively correlated with fertility rate, and positively correlated with survival rate of offspring.[1] The combined net effect of these two forces on ultimate population intelligence is not well studied and is unclear. It is theorized that if an inverse correlation of IQ with fertility rate were stronger than the correlation of survival rate, and if heritable factors involved in IQ were consistently expressed in populations with different fertility rates, and if this continued over a significant number of generations, it could lead to a decrease in population IQ scores

In 1982, Daniel Vining sought to address these issues in a large study on the fertility of over 10,000 individuals throughout the United States, who were then aged 25 to 34. The average fertility in his study was correlated at −0.86 with IQ for white women and −0.96 for black women. Vining argued that this indicated a drop in the genotypic average IQ of 1.6 points per generation for the white population, and 2.4 points per generation for the black population.

In a 1988 study, Retherford and Sewell examined the association between the measured intelligence and fertility of over 9,000 high school graduates in Wisconsin in 1957, and confirmed the inverse relationship between IQ and fertility for both sexes, but much more so for females. If children had, on average, the same IQ as their parents, IQ would decline by .81 points per generation. Taking .71 for the additive heritability of IQ as given by Jinks and Fulker,[15] they calculated a dysgenic decline of .57 IQ points per generation.[16]

One study investigating fertility and education carried out in 1991 found that high school dropouts in America had the most children (2.5 on average), with high school graduates having fewer children, and college graduates having the fewest children (1.56 on average).[19]

In addition to having fewer children, smarter women tend to have children later in life, increasing the likelihood of complications both in terms of pregnancy and birth defects.

It’s possible in the next 100 years if birth rates for high-IQ regions fall and populations for low-IQ regions surge, average global biological IQ will fall. But paradoxically, total intelligence may still rise, meaning that the ‘smart faction’ will grow in absolute population size but fall in relative population size, as explained in Idiocracy in America? Probably not. As well as other factors, this is due to assortative mating, in which smarter people choose smart companions.

What matters is that more of these people exist now than existed 10 years ago or 100 years ago. Even if fertility rates among high-IQ people are low, just by having 7+ billion people in the world, by virtue of the normal distribution of IQs you will still get many geniuses.

Empirically, I don’t buy the dumbing-down argument. Just skim the Arxiv high-energy physics section to see how far down the high-IQ rabbit hole goes…it’s obvious there are still a lot of intelligent people, many of whom who are producing research of great complexity and depth. The number of research publications in STEM fields, not just on Arxiv but also everywhere else, has surged in the past few decades:

Look at all the research coming out of Silicon Valley: delivery drones, self-driving electric cars, virtual reality, and apps that can almost mimic the intelligence of a human. The ancients produced a substantial body of classic literature, but their math and physics developments were not commensurate, especially given how much time elapsed, whereas in just the past three decades alone two of the hardest math problems ever conceived were proven: Fermat’s Last Theorem and the Poincaré Conjecture. Euclid, Pythagoras, Archimedes and Thales made discoveries, but the rigorous study of complex analysis and calculus eluded Western Civilization until only as recently as the 1700′s. The stagnation of math during antiquity may have been attributed to the cumbersome system of Roman numerals and the difficulty of sharing knowledge, as the printing press had not been invented.

There is also evidence later generations (Millennials and Gen Z) may be smarter than earlier generations, or at least that certain elements of pop culture have become smarter. The Big Bang Theory, which appropriates ‘nerd culture’, is one of the highest rated TV shows. There is a huge outpouring of intellectualism on sites such as Reddit and 4chan, where thousands of smart millennials everyday engage in impassioned debates about finance, political philosophy, futurology, biology, statistics, politics, and economics, whereas generations ago there seemed to be less interest in such complicated topics by the general population and youth. Then there is the rise of ‘esoteric celebrities’, and how people in STEM have become the equivalent of ‘rock stars’ for millennials. Philosopher David Chalmers had a hugely popular AMA on Reddit a few week ago, the success of which goes contrary to the belief by the fake news media that millennials only care about celebrity gossip. When millions of millennials showed up to the polls, they were rejecting the fake news narrative that Trump couldn’t win.

However, there is a caveat: mass immigration may disrupt assortative mating, and it’s possible the global population will stagnate, and coupled with an inexorable decline in genetic IQ, will over many centuries lead to a dysgenic dystopia. But this process may be slow enough that technology may reverse it…given the rate of research being produced, it seems more like likely than not such technologies will be developed. But the questions is, will policy makers implement them or cave in to ‘political correctness’ and ‘slippery slope’ arguments.

A combination of exploding population growth and environmental factors (nutrition, shelter, drugs, etc.) has increased total global intelligence, leading to this explosion in the 20th and 21st century of technologies and STEM research. But now that ‘low hanging fruit’ of environmental factors and modernity may have picked, and if global population stalls at 10 billion people, and if the fertility rate of >100 genetic-IQ populations remains below replacement, and if life extension technology to keep smart people alive longer fails, and if global mean genetic-IQs fall and technology is unable to reverse it, and if IQ not only falls but falls so much that it hits a critical level whereby humanity cannot save itself even if it wanted to, then something resembling ‘idiocracy’ is possible. But that’s a lot of ‘ifs’. I’m optimistic that a combination of both rising life expectancy and genomic technology will keep the total population of smart people unchanged, rather then the entire world plunging into idiocracy.

Let’s assume a genetic IQ of 160 is the minimum required to make significant breakthroughs (to advance the canon of human knowledge). That is the estimated IQ of Newton and Einstein, two of the greatest scientific geniuses who ever lived. A single high-IQ person by himself is useless…you probably need at least 500 to collaborate on scientific research and to have a functioning civilization.

The world population is expected to level off in the year 2100 at 10 billion. The regions that typically produce breakthroughs are Europe, Japan, China, India, Middle East, and North America. The combined projected population for these regions is projected to be 6 billion. Assuming genetic IQ stays at 100, with a SD=15 and mean of 100, there will be 190,000 geniuses (IQ >160), which is quite a lot of people and could explain why there are so many physics publications on Arxiv.

But if we simulate dysgenics, the dysgenic threshold is a genetic IQ of 82-83; any lower and the number of geniuses falls below 500.

Below 65 and there are none.

So to answer the original question, ‘Is the World Becoming Smarter or Dumber,’ the verdict still seems to be out, although the empirical evidence lends itself to optimism (for now at least). Despite this optimism, policy makers should not be complacent…boosting national IQ has many benefits, such as increased economic growth, higher standards of living, less crime, less entitlement spending, and improved overall welfare.

The Best of Times or The Worst of Times?

We have two contrasting opinions:

From Bill ‘RamZPaul’ Gates: Warren Buffett’s Best Investment

Bill: One of my favorite books is Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. It shows how violence has dropped dramatically over time. That’s startling news to people, because they tend to think things are not improving as much as they are. Actually, in significant ways, the world is a better place to live than it has ever been. Global poverty is going down, childhood deaths are dropping, literacy is rising, the status of women and minorities around the world is improving.

And on the other extreme: Our Miserable 21st Century

Based on the empirical evidence, I side with the latter (optimism about the US economy and America), although it’s sightly more complicated. I argue there is a Lockean/Hobbes optimism/pessimism dichotomy, from Neo Masculinity and Christianity, Darwinian Conservatism, Free Will, Biological Reality:

But this should not be confused with a pessimistic view of human nature, as expounded by Hobbes. In the spirit of Locke, I am optimistic about the human condition, as well as the economy, but not for most individual humans – in that while society will continue to advance and prosper in terms of technology and other metrics, and the stock market will keep going up, at the individual level things won’t feel so great, with ennui, anxiety, and emptiness the dominant human condition for the vast majority who are not smart enough to attain ‘enlightenment’. John Locke’s optimism was rooted in his faith, for man to full fill his ‘god given’ potential to create, in contrast to the atheist Hobbes who equates man to animals. There is a middle ground, in that we are in an ‘enlightenment’ for those who are smart and successful enough to participate in it , but a Hobbesian ‘dark age’ for everyone else. The capacity to create does not come from god or some creator, but from genes, which is how Darwinism can be reconciled with the more optimistic, future-oriented worldview of the Enlightenment.

America, are measured by it’s economy, S&P 500 profits & earnings, stock market, global military and economic influence, and innovation is doing better than ever; but a lot of people, especially those in the ‘fat middle’ of the IQ distribution, seem to be falling between the cracks. They aren’t starving to death, but they aren’t fully participating in the post-2009 recovery either, plagued by high debt, weak job prospects, medical bills, student loan debt, etc…

So for for rich and or high-IQ people, especially in the web 2.0 ‘tech scene’, times are, generally, good:

..America, especially since 2008, has become a hyper-meritocracy in overdrive. If you like coding, have a prestigious degree and a high IQ, now couldn’t be a better time to be alive, although having the first two qualities pretty much guarantees the third. We’re in a high-IQ, STEM, wealth creation feeding frenzy on a biblical scale. The Rockefellers, Vanderbilt and Carnegies actually had to build something to get wealthy, which took decades and thousands of people. Now start-ups less than three years old are making instant billionaires out of their youthful founders and early investors. Even in the 90′s – what many consider to be the epitome of a bubble – a typical tech start-up was seldom valued at over $60-100 million. Now that is just the Series A round. The Bay Area housing market is going nuts in all-cash bidding wars above the asking price due to endless fed money, rich foreigners, web 2.0 founders and investors flush with cash, and private equity.

This does not apply to all smart people, obviously, but your odds are better than for the less intelligent. For everyone else, maybe the odds of economic success are poorer. That’s the way I see things for the foreseeable future, possibly for decades or even a century or longer. This is also how HBD, the ‘American dream‘, and the success and strength of the US economy are intimately related, because America, through its free market, political stability, and prestigious research universities, is like a ‘magnet’ for the world’s best and brightest, boosting the US economy but also causing a ‘brain drain’ among countries that have their top talent poached by American tech firms and universities. The ‘wealth of nations‘ is real, and, economically, low-IQ countries do worse the high-IQ ones, like Singapore:

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Singapore was worth 292.74 billion US dollars in 2015. The GDP value of Singapore represents 0.47 percent of the world economy. GDP in Singapore averaged 71.73 USD Billion from 1960 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 306.34 USD Billion in 2014 and a record low of 0.70 USD Billion in 1960.

A 422x gain in 55 years, greater than perhaps any developed country:

source: tradingeconomics.com

Contrast that with Zimbabwe, which only gained 14x in the same time period:

source: tradingeconomics.com

Obviously, there are other factors besides IQ, but as we see, time and time again, smarter countries are better countries, with greater economic growth, less corruption, and more stability.

America’s national IQ is 100, but that includes large populations of ‘low scoring’ groups, but in regions such as the Bay Area, Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, and Manhattan, it’s probably as high as 110-115. The same applies to real estate: since 2007, smarter regions (Palo Alto, San Francisco, Manhattan) have provided higher returns than low-IQ ones (Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis).

Regarding the second article, Our Miserable 21st Century, the author is misconstruing/misinterpreting statistics and committing logical fallacies (such as moving the goalposts) to advance his political agenda.

The recovery from the crash of 2008—which unleashed the worst recession since the Great Depression—has been singularly slow and weak. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), it took nearly four years for America’s gross domestic product (GDP) to re-attain its late 2007 level. As of late 2016, total value added to the U.S. economy was just 12 percent higher than in 2007. (SEE FIGURE 2.) The situation is even more sobering if we consider per capita growth. It took America six and a half years—until mid-2014—to get back to its late 2007 per capita production levels. And in late 2016, per capita output was just 4 percent higher than in late 2007—nine years earlier. By this reckoning, the American economy looks to have suffered something close to a lost decad

Yes, maybe growth is slow and weak compared to the 40′s and 50′s, but compared to the 80′s and 90′s and early 2000′s, it’s pretty much in-line with historic trends, albeit just a tad lower:

But part of the alleged economic weakness may also be attributed to the declining population growth rate of America:

When adjusted for population size (per-capita GDP growth), it’s better.

Yes, it often takes 4-5 years to recover from a recession. It was that way in the 70′s and 80′s, yet the author somehow ignores those instances.

“The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for example, suggests that the “potential growth” rate for the U.S. economy at full employment of factors of production has now dropped below 1.7 percent a year, implying a sustainable long-term annual ”

Sounds like moving the goal posts…growth is growth, and the USA has the highest real GDP growth (at 2-3%) than almost all developed countries. Anyone can create an arbitrary metric and than say the US economy is ‘failing’ by not meeting said metric. Part of being a ‘reactionary realist’ is living in reality, not, as Scott Adams calls, a ‘mental movie’.

The USA has the highest real GDP growth of all developed countries, which is even more impressive given its size:

This is the chart the ‘fake news’ does not want you to see, who insist the US has weaker growth than the rest of the world, which is refuted by simple empirical comparison of growth rates.

The fake, misleading financial media only reports nominal GDP growth, not real growth, so countries with high nominal growth seem to be better but the are actually worse because all that growth comes at the cost of inflation and falling currencies. From Slow Economic Growth Not a Big Deal:

It’s like selling a book for $20 but inserting a $20 bill inside. Yeah, you’ll get a lot of sales, but it’s costing you more money than you make. That’s the bad situation facing many of these emerging countries right now…they are borrowing a lot of money at very unfavorable rates to keep growth high, whereas America can borrow at very little and still have solid growth.

Profits & earnings for tech companies, payment processing, retail, and consumer staples companies have far-outpaced GDP growth. A lot of the lag comes from the chronically weak financial, commodity, and energy sector.

Google, Amazon, and Facebook reported blowout quarters for like the 50th time in a row. Companies like Nike, Lowes, Costco, Disney, Johnson and Johnson, Starbucks, and Home Depot reporting double-digit profits & earnings growth.

The pundit-left as of late has invented a new tactic: trying to emphasize with the concerns of Trump voters and the ‘working class’ (as Michael Moron tries to do), instead of mocking them, which I have dubbed ‘concern liberalism‘. Maybe this is a sign of desperation or capitulation by the far-left, because they know their ideology is failing and they are losing.

A Skeptic’s View of Fred’s IQ Artilce

From Fred Reed; IQ: A Skeptic’s View

As anyone who has read Fred Reed’s columns knows, he has a soft spot for Mexico, possibly stemming from the fact he lives there with his wife and children, ardently defending the country against so-called ‘IQ-ists’ who insist Mexico only has an IQ of around 85, which Mr. Reed refutes with anecdotal evidence and how Mexico City, developmentally, resembles that of cities of higher IQ populations. His latest article is no different.

Fred is far from being an idiot, having scored in the 99-percentile on the GRE according to his website, implying an IQ of at least 140-150, but I think he deliberately omits obvious counterarguments to generate more discussion for his articles, as commenters below fill the obvious but intended gaps of his logic. It’s almost like a variation of Cunningham’s Law, which states “the best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.”

For example, American blacks, the Irish, and Mexicans had IQs accepted by the list as being 85, 86, and 87 respectively—almost identical. It seemed odd to me that identical IQs had produced (a) the on-going academic disaster of American blacks (b) an upper Third World country running the usual infrastructure of telecommunications, medicine, airlines, and so on, and (c) a First World European country. This, though IQist doctrine argued vociferously that IQ correlates closely with achievement. Well, it didn’t.

I think he confused ‘b’ and ‘c’.

I was struck by the perfect acceptance of these numbers even though they made no sense. IQists simply do not question IQ. I pointed out the obvious conclusion, that if Mexicans could run the infrastructure of modern nations, decent if not spectacular universities, and so on, then so, on the basis of IQ, could blacks—none of which they in fact do, or have done.

…Do you really believe that this city was designed and built by people with a mean IQ of 84? That is six points below Mexicans, and below American blacks? As a matter of logic, it follows that if people of IQ 84 can design, build, and operate a city with all the credentials of modernity, so can a population of IQ 85. It’s either both can, or neither can, or something is wrong with the purported IQs. For what it’s worth, my wife and I recently spent a month traveling widely in the country. No sign of stupidity

Here is the global IQ map:

Africa and South America have IQs of around 85-90, almost a full standard deviation below Europeans and Asians. In the case of Africa, this data is corroborated by many tests, in which Africans consistently score even lower than Whites, even for non-culturally biased tests such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices. This is discussed in further detail in IQ Tests Are Not Culturally Biased.

But it’s not just Mexico that has modern-looking cities–so to does Zimbabwe and Uganda, both of which have lower national IQs than Mexico. For example, Kampala, the capital city of Uganda:

…and Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe:

As the examples above show, the existence of modern infrastructure in sub-100 IQ countries is not a refutation ‘IQ-ism’, but rather that scarce cognitive capital is being put to good use. The major flaw in Fred’s logic is that he ignores how national IQ is only an average of a normal distribution of IQ scores. Countries with national IQs of 80-90 will still produce geniuses (albeit at a much lower rate), because of the normal distribution of IQ scores. Maybe instead of, say, thousands of geniuses required to to build and run a modern city, maybe you only need a few hundred geniuses, which is feasible even for a country with a national IQ of 85. Also, low-IQ countries import cognitive capital (doctors, engineers, etc.) as needed.

This is furiously denied in IQist circles. The reason, in my judgement, is that thirteen points is exactly the purported gap between Mexicans and US whites insisted upon by IQists. These, often rabidly anti-immigration, do not want to admit any possibility that the immigrants might not be suitably stupid. Why they want immigrants to their country to be moronic is not clear.

Again, señor Fred continues to misinterpret, ignore, or misconstrue arguments that refute his thesis. How else is it explained that certain immigrants score lower on achivement tests and are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Source: The Color of Crime, 2016 Revised Edition

If IQ measured intelligence, we would be in the midst of an intellectual explosion. We are not.

To some extent, we are. Look at all the innovation coming out of Silicon Valley (self-driving cars, delivery drones, apps that can do everything you want, etc.), or the surge in physics and mathematics publications on arXiv, or how America leads the world in research papers, Nobel Prizes, and patents.

Then in the IQ brew there is the occasional intrusion of common sense. (Not much of it, I grant.) A country whose purported IQ seems to me to fail the test of common sense is India, mean IQ 81. Here we have a billion people averaging well below borderline-retarded. Say again? Anyone even vaguely familiar with the intellectual, artistic, and musical history of India is going to think, “What are you guys smoking?”

The cut-off for retardation is 70, not 80.

There immediately springs to everyone’s mind that Indian kids dominate the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The IQist response is that only the smartest Indian kids come to the US. Perhaps, but the smartest American kids are already here, aren’t they? And since the kids got their visas based on the brains of their parents, shouldn’t they be regressing to the (dismal) mean?

Yes, I know the IQist explanation, that they are genetically-selected Brahmans, said to have a mean IQ of 96, the rest of the country being wretchedly stupid. Well, maybe. Like so much in IQist thought, it relies on genes posited but not identified, acted upon by selective pressures assumed but not quantifiable, to produce assumed effects that cannot be correlated with the pressures. If that isn’t rock-solid, I can’t imagine what could be.

One reason they don’t regress is because of assortative mating. It’s funny how Fred dismisses such counterarguments as ‘maybe’, when it’s the most obvious explanation and also pretty much destroys his thesis. Also, a spelling bee is not an IQ test.

Having spent twelve years in Mexico, I can see no difference in intelligence between Mexicans and Americans. Nor when I lived in Taiwan, Vietnam, or Thailand. This raises the question: How great would the difference have to be to be noticeable? Clearly, greater than thirteen points (OK, now reduced, sometimes, to ten points), since that is the Mexi-American gap measured by IQists. The response will be that I am reasonably intelligent and so spend my time with the reasonably intelligent, but that is equally true in the US, and of course I am in frequent contact with ordinary citizens.

Depends on how you define ‘intelligent’ or how you measure it. Merely conversing with someone in casual setting about simple day-to-today stuff is too imprecise to be of any use in ascertaining intelligence. There’s a reason why IQ tests are designed the way they are, and have specific questions that measure quantifiable attributes of intelligence.

Was Charles Darwin Slow-Witted?

This story went viral: The Darwinian Guide to Overachieving your IQ

Darwin, however, was not a man of pure intellect. He was not Issac Newton, or Richard Feynman, or Albert Einstein — breezing through complex mathematical physics at a young age.

Darwin and the aforementioned names were in totally different fields, Darwin being biology/anthropology and the others in physics. Whether anthropology can be considered less intellectually ‘rigorous’ than physics is subjective, because at the time both fields were quite speculative (more so than they are now). Also, it’s not like Darwin tried physics as a young adult, realized he wasn’t smart enough, and then switched to biology. Although the vast majority of physicists and mathematician have high IQs, not all high-IQ people are physicists or mathematicians. This is below logic 101…it’s just common sense. The author just pulls his reasoning out of his butt, that the intellectual worth of individual is how they measure to Einstein and Newton, disregarding intellectual accomplishments in fields as diverse as philosophy, architecture, classical composition, art, and literature, as well as other sciences and scientists.

Charlie Munger, the billionaire business partner to Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, thinks Darwin would have been in the middle of the class. He had notoriously bad health and really only worked a few hours a day in the many years leading up to the Origin of Species.

What does his health have do with IQ? Ramanujan, one of the most brilliant mathematicians who ever lived, had poor health.

Yet Darwin’s “thinking work” outclassed almost everyone, even those who started with a higher IQ.

Darwin was born in 1809, well before IQ tests were invented and widely administered. Same for Newton and Einstein. The only recorded IQ is for Feynman, which was supposedly only 125, although this may be apocryphal. Again, you cannot hold them to the same intellectual ‘yardstick’, as they were different scientists in different fields, living in different times. Even nowadays it’s hard to find IQ records for people – it’s not like people just go around boasting about their IQ. But, again, there are surprisingly many high-IQ people who are not physicists, and many professions that may seem ‘unintelligent’ are actually full of geniuses…look at all those Hollywood ‘high IQ’ lists…it’s almost as if having a high IQ is a prerequisite to being in the entertainment industry.

Even without IQ tests, because of the standardized and factory-style of post-WW1 education (Prussian education system), one can estimate someone’s ‘general intelligence’ by the age they graduate high school and or finish college. The usual age range is 17-18 for the former and 21-22 for the latter. Early graduation may suggest superior intelligence. SAT scores are more accurate, but like IQ scores, can be hard to obtain. High school GPA however is useless due to grade inflation.

But what was Darwin’s IQ? It’s hard to know. Back in the 19th century, such standardization didn’t exist. Environmental factors tended to play a bigger role than they do now because, during the Victorian Era, wealthy parents had access to tutors, and poorer families had far fewer opportunities, whereas nowadays education is available to all socioeconomic levels (although quality may vary).

There is evidence Einstein may have been a child prodigy, and Feynman mastered advanced math at a young ago, too. Assuming math ability is a perfect proxy for IQ (ignoring verbal and all other aspects of intelligence), then, yes, it’s reasonable to assume Darwin was less intelligent than Einstein, Newton, or Feynman. But it doesn’t matter, because we’re comparing different fields of study. It would only matter if someone with a low IQ relative to his or her peers in the same field of study was able to excel, because then it would be worthwhile to learn how this less intelligent person was able to compensate, controlling for all other variables, but otherwise it’s not a valid comparison.

1. Darwin did not think he had a quick intellect or an ability to follow long, complex, or mathematical reasoning. Darwin’s life also proves how little that trait matters if you’re aware of it and counter-weight it with other methods. Primarily, that meant developing extreme objectivity, extreme diligence, and taking time to think through his ideas. He was very intellectually humble and open to being wrong.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t have the ability to grasp complicated stuff. The author is equating humbleness with being less intelligent, when the evidence suggests smarter, more competent people tend to be more humble about their abilities (Dunning-Kruger effect).

The Gender Gap in Extreme Math Intelligence

In tests of extreme math intelligence, boys still outscore girls in the US but the gap is closing fast

Whether this is because boys are innately better at math or if girls are socially conditioned not to be math superstars remains an open question. But the latest round of test data strongly suggests the difference rests with the latter.

And which data strongly suggests this? If the gap has narrowed, maybe it’s due to revisions of the SAT, with the trend towards newer tests being easier, lowering the effective math ceiling for high-scoring boys. It’s not that girls are getting better, but the test has become easier, allowing more women to score in the top .1%. The pre-1995 version is regarded as harder than the 2005 revision.

But second, why is the gender gap, whether it’s IQ, math, science, or technology, a problem that merits so much attention? No one complains that tall people are over-represented in the NBA, but everyone gets all worked up about women being underrepresented in the sciences or about there not being enough minorities in Silicon Valley tech companies (apparently Indians and Asians don’t count as diversity according to the left though). Now imagine in order to accommodate players of all heights and to ‘narrow the height gap’, the NBA were required to make the baskets only 4-feet high. Attendance, ratings, and profits would suffer considerably, but at least vertical equality could be achieved. It sounds sounds pretty absurd when you frame it that way, but it’s no different than how the left puts equality ahead of results. When the left bemoans how Silicon Valley is not diverse enough, they want successful companies to ‘lower their baskets’ at the expense of shareholders, company culture, and overall corporate well-being.

Hooey and Phooey from John C. Wright

Hooey and Phooey by John C Wright in which he criticizes the alt-right.

And a response by Vox Day Safe as houses in which he defends Wright’s competence as an author despite their political differences.

The problem is Mr. Wright puts himself on a moral high ground of infallibility…by not taking stance, he can avoid being wrong, but at the same time from his perch accuse others else of being ‘too extreme’ or ‘taking him out of context’, with an air of pretentiousness on his part.

Going through his post…

From the axiom that different population groups have different heritable traits, it does not follow that the traits are genetic rather than cultural, are natural rather than produced deliberately by enemies of the union, or that the differences are of such a magnitude that they cause inevitable conflicts, or that such conflicts are or are not to be tolerated for the sake of the greater good that comes from the blessings of liberty.

Seems like he’s really entrenched in this Pollyanna concept of ‘liberty’, and even the cynical left understands that liberty is a construct and hence revocable, not an unalienable ‘natural right’. Second, your personal liberty does not include the right to impose externalities on others, and for society to not respond, including but not limited to, sequestration of said individuals from society. Although Wright invokes a utilitarian/consequentialist argument (‘greater good’), this can be reversed by arguing that a ‘greater good’ is achieved by having less tolerance, not more.

In the example of two groups who grow wrathful at different rates, for example, putting more police in the more violent neighborhood might be a more cost effective solution than isolating the evil gene responsible for their evil and exiling those who possess it.

…and that’s why he have a possible entitlement spending problem, because policy makers keep throwing money at these social problem, with the same ineffective programs and piss-poor results, instead of, figuratively speaking, nipping it in the bud.

It doesn’t have to be exile – eugenics, including offering financial incentives for certain individuals to not reproduce, could be a viable long-term solution that does not impugn on individual rights (in fact, many people would probably choose moeny to forgo reproduction). At the same time, offer incentives for the intelligent to spread their genes.

I have heard partisans of the Alt-Right make outrageous statements such as, for example, Spaniards and Jews and Irish and Germans are not now and never can become American: that no one not of Anglo-Saxon blood can ever become American. This, even for Spaniards and Jews who have served in the military, bled in the wars, and made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the liberties we Americans enjoy.

But Wright provides no links to support this supposition. Rather, the alt-right believes culture and government is downstream from ethnicity. Shared ethnicity leads to shared values.

Even granting that there are genetic and noncultural characteristics creating a different threshold of anger between, say, hot-blooded Spaniards and aloof Germans, it would not follow from this that no community of mixed races is possible or desirable, and that a community based on shared values, such as an agreement to respect the civic rights of other in return for being respected, cannot exist and should not be tried.

Hot-blooded Spaniards and aloof Germans are tolerable but not Islamists, who have a proclivity to terrorism, and, of course, the rape. Part of the rise of the alt-right is in response to the ‘rapefugee’ crisis in Europe right now, as well as concerns over immigration in America. The alt-right understands that Trump is the only major American politician addressing these issues.

More than one partisan of the Alt-Right mentions a naturalization law from the Eighteenth Century excluding non-White immigrants, and uses this a lonely proof that the Founding Fathers intended America to be, not a Christian nation supporting the Rights of Man, as they repeatedly said, but intended America to be a White nation supporting the Rights of Whites, something they never said.

It may have been implied…

Unfortunately, the wording of the law does not extend beyond the express purpose of the law. Since the only non-Europeans in North America at that time were Red Indians and Black slaves, with free Blacks as rare as Jews or Turks, the word “White” at that time referred to the same group as the words “Civilized Christians”. A newborn nation in the midst of the first steps of its experiment with a disestablishment form of government would prefer not to use the word ‘Christian’ in its laws.

It may have also been implied

But even supposing the argument to hold, in what sense is this early law to be accorded more respect than the laws which superseded it? Supposing that preserving America for Anglo-Saxons alone was the intent of the Act, why should we accord it more honor than we do the Dred Scott decision or the Alien and Sedition Acts? Why not regard this law as an aberration alien to the general character of the American spirit?

It doesn’t mean the ‘American spirit’ cannot be fixed, in order to to exclude those who are a threat or undesirable to society and or a drain on public resources. Early American history had zero-tolerance, and only through revisionism has such tolerance has been appended to the ‘American spirit’, which has been bastardized to such an extent to be unrecognizable from its antecedent.

Even granting this argument (which I do not) that the Constitutional order before the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments was the only true America, and the post-Lincoln America is a false and corrupt Whore of Babylon, what grounds are there for preferring Antebellum America to Postbellum America?

It doesn’t matter where you draw the demarcation (Antebellum vs. Postbellum). Wright is trying to frame it as a civil rights issue, with the implication being those who disagree are ‘racist’; rather, it’s an issue of how society deals with its undesirable elements.

The historical fact is that America is not now and never has been a racial nation like the Irish or Japanese. It America is a union of what were once sovereign states of different cultures, denominations, and characters: fortunately, all the denominations were Christian, and the shared language and law was English. This allowed for sufficient organic unity (such as we conservatives says is the core of a country) for the union to be formed.

Some groups assimilate better then others. Germans and Irish assimilate well. So do Japanese and Chinese. Muslims assimilate the worst. The alt-right’s primary concern is immigration, particularly by poorly assimilating groups.

Racism, however disguised, is alien to that organic core which makes America what it is. It is alien, in fact, to European law and custom following the edicts of Justinian outlawing slavery, since it is alien to Christendom. It is, however, endemic to the human species: and the Alt-Right wishes to argue that this is a universal human characteristic that should be incorporated into our laws. They also argue that the idea of natural rights, rights innate to all men, individual rights, and all men being made in the image and likeness of God are recently coined, alien to Christianity, and alien to the legal traditions of Europe. Time does not permit a point by point refutation of this wingnuttery: I will say only that the crackpot arguing in favor of geocentrism has a more coherent argument with more evidence on his side.

Like in response to ‘Gnossoss’, dismissive labels such as ‘wingnuttery’ are not an argument either.

The idea that Americanism is granted by birth rather than by dedication to the proposition for which America stands is now and always has been unamerican.

Do we want a nation of productive people who contribute to society, or a nation of those who are a drain.

That is, in fact, the one thing that makes American different from other countries: the fact that you can become one of us by dedicating yourself to our ideals and asking to join. As GK Chesterton famously never said, America is the only nation with the soul of a Church.

But the problem is these ‘ideals’ keep moving to the left.

Even if the Alt-Right wanted to make the humbler argument that Americans in the past were a nation formed by shared ideals rather than shared bloodline, but should halt the practice in the near future, and should hereafter all themselves to be a race like the Irish, the fact of it is that in order to be an American, you have to agree with the American ideas, the foremost of which is that America is an idea, not a bloodline.

But it was largely implied from the beginning that America would be WASP nation. It didn’t have to be codified but it was implied to be so, and then gradually the conditions were relaxed to include Catholics and then, not soon after, pretty much anyone. But HBD 101: Irish are not a race; rather, they are an ethnicity of the ‘white race’. ‘Whiteness’, which is biological instead of territorial, encompass much of Europe, and these biological similarities could explain why the assimilation of Irish and Germans in America was successful…

But in the 1950s, before the welfare state, the marriage rate and divorce rate among blacks in America were better than among whites. It was not until the federal government began bribing the blacks to have bastards, and giving them money in return for votes, that the rates among black poor turned toxic.

This is debunked here. Although Wright is correct about politicians bribing voters, eliminating such disincentives won’t magically make everything better. That’s the problem with the ‘mainstream right’, and how like the ‘left’, they ignore the role of biology. The left says ‘we need more govt.’ the right says ‘we need less’ but both these ignore biological realities.

Now, since England has a similar urban poor problem caused by similar Leftist policies, the argument that the racial and genetic inferiority of the blacks in America causes them to be suckered by the Leftists into living like savage evaporates. Whites living under similar welfare state circumstances act similarly.

Yes, there are many poor whites, but the poverty and crime rate among blacks is still higher than for whites, for all age groups, as well as an achievement gap that persists despite billions of taxpayer dollars, civil rights and full integration, and decades of government programs.

The Alt-Right makes much ado about the IQ differences between blacks and whites. Hooey and phooey.

‘Hooey and phooey’ is not an argument. Here is one.

It is hooey in that it is junk science: the differences between where the peak of the racial bellcurve falls are less than is found between twin brothers. Since IQ tests differ by ten and twenty points depending on whether the man taking the test was read bedtime stories as a child, it is hardly what one expects for a genetic difference.

Wright may be confusing cause and effect. It’s not that reading to children boosts IQ scores, rather it’s that smarter parents, who pass their genes for high IQ to their children, are more inclined to read to their children. Differences in intelligence manifest so early in life that they cannot be attributed to environment.

It is phooey in that having a high IQ is not a necessity for being an honest, productive, chaste and decent member of a democratic republic. Indeed, very few high IQ people avoid the trap of intellectual pride which renders them unfit for society: nearly all college professors are high IQ types, and they are enemies of everything in Western Society. The devil was the brightest of the archangels.

Speaking as a genius myself (or, at least, so I am rated by my IQ test — one main reason why I regard them as hooey) I can tell you the genius is overrated. Honesty is a better trait to have for civic stability. Far, far too many people with high IQ regard themselves as being allowed to lie and deceive the unintelligent, whom they regard as inferiors, or as subhumans, and all the main antichristian and antiwestern attacks these days come from the fever swamps of the intellectuals.

For some reason, the very utterance of IQ triggers a switch in many people’s brains that flicks off reality. No one denies that some people are taller or fatter than others. No one denies Shaq is very tall or that Usain Bolt is very fast, so what is so hard about accepting that some people are more intelligent than others, too. Yet everyone has to dance around the issue of IQ. It’s not racist that some groups score lower in IQ tests than others – it’s just reality. The left keeps chanting that ‘IQ is not everything’, but no on ever said it was, but it’s pretty important, and if it weren’t important the left wouldn’t have to make such a big deal to try to prove otherwise.

Wright also falls into the leftist trap of treating high-IQ as a handicap, that superior intellect must come at the cost of another trait, such as honesty. The data suggests that smarter people are more ethical and moral.

The Alt-Right uses all the same rhetorical tactics as the Alt-Left (otherwise known as SJWs) to promote the cause: the motte-and-bailey tactic of making extraordinary claims, and then, when challenged, pretending to have made a smaller, noncontroversial claim; outrageous personal attacks; endless boasts and flaunting of one’s self as a paragon and one’s opponents as devils and fools, with almost no word spared on the actual dispute itself. The virtue-signaling, the screech-mobs, the empty victory parades the self-pity of the crybaby combined with the cruel vindictiveness of the bully: the Alt-Right is as intellectually bankrupt as the Alt-Left, or otherwise they would not be using their tactics.

Unfortunately Wright uses the same tactics against the alt-right that he ascribes to the left. Wright is virtue signaling by wrapping himself in ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ but castigating the alt-right as ‘racist’ and ‘un-American’, making himself look holier than thou in the process.

Solving the Student Loan/Debt Crisis: A Plan That Can Work

On sites like Reddit, 4chan, and College Confidential, stories of college graduates saddled with piles of debt and poor job prospects, are becoming commonplace:

Many on the ‘left’ (and I say ‘left’ because it’s mainly democrats who raise this issue) complain about student loan debt being too high, as well as poor job prospects for new graduates, who are either unable to find a job, or if they get a job, the job isn’t commensurate with their credentials (for example, anthropology majors waiting tables).

But what if there were a way to break the student loan debt cycle, or at least put a dent in it.

As I said before, the higher education system is broken, due to ‘good intentions’ gone wrong, and many entities shoulder the blame: students, politicians, guidance counselors, culture and society, and parents.

In the case of high school graduates, they have one of three options:

- skip college and enter the workforce
- go to college and major in a liberal arts subject
- major in STEM

The first choice results in no debt but also the worst job prospects of all. The second may result in a lot of debt and mediocre job prospects. The third choice may also result in debt but also has the best job prospects. As a caveat, those who graduate from elite colleges can typically major in anything and still have decent job prospects, but they are of the minority. Most students are aware that STEM pays more and has better job opportunities, but they choose the liberal arts anyway. That’s their choice, but they should not be surprised if they are unable to find good job afterwards – they were warned.

Most graduates (such as the example from Reddit above) are reasonably intelligent. According to research by Charles Murray, the typical college graduate has an IQ of around 115, which is one standard deviation above average. Thus to some extent a college degree (even for non-STEM majors) signals above-average intelligence, which could explain why many employers, particularly for higher-paying jobs, require a college degree, or ceteris paribus will choose a candidate who has a degree over one who doesn’t. Studies have shown that IQ and job performance are correlated, probably because smarter employees learn faster and are better able to anticipate the needs of customers and their employers.

Another issue is debt. Working as a barista for Starbucks may suck, but it’s even worse if you have a lot of debt. There’s no reason why anyone should have to spend tens of thousands of dollars (or even hundreds of thousands), and four to seven years of their life, to get a piece of paper that signals ‘merely above-average intelligence’. Worse yet, most jobs are completely unrelated to the degree. Very few literature, anthropology, and history majors actually get jobs pertaining to literature, anthropology, or history.

Grade inflation and credentalism are related. Because of grade inflation, increasingly advanced degrees are required signal competence and ‘stand out’:

This means more debt and more years of college to acquire these advanced degrees, including but not limited to PHDs and Masters Degrees – money and time that could otherwise be spent on ‘life’, not education. High school degrees don’t get much mileage as they did decades ago, because if everyone is getting a 4.0 GPA and ‘honors’ due to dumbed-down courses, what good is it. Another cause of credentalism is that the labor pool has swelled, which is not just limited to the United States but also includes many emerging economies. The problem is the skills that are taught in collage and high school have become commoditized and are no longer ‘special’. Employers can easily outsource workers, filling jobs that decades ago would have gone to high school or even college graduates, because basic skills (like reading and writing) have become so common. And then there is also technology, which may result in low-skill jobs being automated. Either the courses are dumbed-down or too many people are completing school – it’s probably both.

Although some students go to college for the ‘experience’ and the ‘pursuit of knowledge’, many attend in the hope of landing a good-paying job when they graduate. If making money is goal, and for most students it is, there is an alternative to the current dysfunctional system. Because in the eyes of employers a college degree signals above-average intellect and competence, the obvious solution is to give employers carte blanche to screen prospective employees for intelligence using cheap, easy-to-administer IQ-type tests. This would help both employers and students. It helps employers because IQ tests (as well as related tests like the SAT and the Wonderlic) may provide a cheaper, more reliable means of assessing the intelligence and competence of potential employees than college degrees, which have been devalued by grade inflation. For students and job seekers the benefits are even more obvious: no more debt and years spent acquiring increasingly advanced degrees in the hope merely of being qualified, let alone getting a job. Even if high-scoring students are unable to find good-paying jobs (due to the economy and other factors), not accumulating a bunch of debt for that same crummy job would be a success for the program.

For this solution to be implemented, disparate impact laws (Griggs v. Duke Power) would need to be overturned. Although some large companies (like Proctor and Gamble) use these tests, they also have the financial resources and case study data to fend off litigation, which small business cannot. Not to make this too political, if the ‘left’ cared about students a much as Sanders or Hillary say they do, they would make a push to overturn disparate impact laws.

In the unlikely event Griggs is annulled, private (or maybe publicly run) mass testing centers can be established, independent from employers. Anyone can register to have their intelligence tested on one of multiple tests, in order of increasing complexity and administrative costs: Wonderlic, SAT, or Wais. The Wonderlic is a 50-question multiple choice test of general competence (basic numeracy, vocab, etc.), and takes 12 minutes to complete. The SAT is more comprehensive and takes much longer to administer, and like the Wonderlic only tests mostly math and verbal skills. The Wais the most comprehensive of all, and tests a wide range of abilities, such as spatial intelligence, which the other two tests don’t. Upon registering an account (req. govt. ID) and obtaining scores on one or multiple tests, this information can be provided who employers, who will have the ability to enter a code to verify the score on an online database.

Some may be surprised to learn that anyone who wants to enlist in the US military must score in the 33rd percentile or better on the AFQT, a test administered to all enlistees that measures ‘general skills, which is related to IQ (although in times when cannon fodder is needed the bar may be lowered), so why can’t such a testing system be adopted for the general public, for use by employers?

A common criticism is that the less intelligent would be discriminated by such a system, but the unintelligent often drop out of college (the result being debt and no degree) at a very high rate, so by not going to college and instead being tested, they would save money, which is especially helpful considering the lifetime incomes of the less intelligent isn’t very high, so they are hurt the most by having student loan debt. It’s not like the unintelligent are being deprived of their opportunity to work for NASA by being tested. Second, the likely economic tailwind from reducing student loan debt, getting young people into the workforce earlier, and boosting employer productivity would create more total jobs, benefiting job seekers of all intelligence levels.

How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math (response)

How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math

They should just call it nauseo.us magazine because some of these articles are so wrong as to induce vomiting.

There is no disagreement about the absurdity that playing basketball will make you taller but many people willingly believe ‘brain puzzles’ or ‘rewiring’ will make them smarter. [1] Many want to hold on to the cherished belief instilled by culture that they have ‘free will’, and that their potential, particularly as it pertains to intellectual endeavors such as math or coding, is not limited by genes.

Interestingly though, intelligence is treated as malleable whereas physical traits less so. We’re more apt to believe we can ‘rewire our brains’ to become good at math, than become a marathoner. Part of this has to do with how society has evolved economically, from an economy and society that prized physical labor, to presently, the ‘information age’, where intellectualism is more important than physical strength. A couple hundred years it would have been the opposite: people believing that physical ability and traits are malleable but intelligence less so. High intelligence confers with a greater self-worth, as well as being a more valuable person to society in terms of economic value and creative output.

Nowadays it’s not as politically incorrect (or at least not as much as it was decades ago) to point out that perhaps some groups, due to certain biological traits, are better at basketball or sprinting than others. But to suggest that some groups are less intelligent? Well then it’s off to the unemployment line for you.

I was a wayward kid who grew up on the literary side of life, treating math and science as if they were pustules from the plague. So it’s a little strange how I’ve ended up now—someone who dances daily with triple integrals, Fourier transforms, and that crown jewel of mathematics, Euler’s equation. It’s hard to believe I’ve flipped from a virtually congenital math-phobe to a professor of engineering.

One day, one of my students asked me how I did it—how I changed my brain. I wanted to answer Hell—with lots of difficulty! After all, I’d flunked my way through elementary, middle, and high school math and science. In fact, I didn’t start studying remedial math until I left the Army at age 26. If there were a textbook example of the potential for adult neural plasticity, I’d be Exhibit A

We’ll it’s fairly obvious the author has a high IQ, and this helped her make the transition from a ‘mathphobe’ to a ‘numerophile’. HBD explains what others attribute to ‘magic’, ‘rewiring’, or ‘tons of practice’. This also douses water on the multiple intelligences theory, as opposed to the Spearman ‘general g’ theory of intelligence. The creation of these multiples types of ‘intelligence’ (‘street smarts’, EQ, ‘multiple intelligences’) seems to be part of a trend in political correctness in not wanting to face the unpleasant reality that some people are perhaps smarter than others, so by creating many types of intelligences, everyone can be smart at ‘something’. As it turns out, people who are smart at writing can often make the transition to other high-IQ endeavors such as math or coding, whereas those who are less intelligent tend to not be very good at anything intellectual-related.

[1] A refutation is that exercise can improve physical ability, and that if people improve at basketball by practicing then one can become smarter by doing ‘brain puzzles’ and ‘rewiring’. In general, physical ability tends more plastic than mental ability, but improvement in ability should not be confused for modification of ‘traits’. People know that height is a fixed trait, which (after the bones stop growing) is correct, but they are also inclined to believe intelligence is malleable, but this is just as absurd as thinking you can modify your height (short of surgery). As for ‘brain training’, brain puzzles do not boost IQ to any high degree of significance.

But how about studying? Don’t people who study math become better at it. To some extent, yes, but improvement at a task should not be conflated with modification of an underlying trait (like height, IQ, etc.). Studying is like doing a single Sudoku puzzle over and over and being really good at the one Sudoku configuration. IQ is what allows you to be good at any puzzle, and to master puzzles quickly. IQ involves making inferences, separating noise from signal. It’s the reason why ‘plug and chug’ is much easier for students than word problems; the latter requires making inferences. It’s more mentally demanding. As for learning, smarter people get better faster (which is also why IQ is strongly correlated with job performance). The less intelligent may see improvement, but they may never make the fundamental connections necessary for mastery (it never ‘clicks’), and they are less adept at filtering noise. IQ is analogous to the hardware on a computer whereas ‘brain boosters’ and ‘studying’ are like the ‘software’…no matter how good the software is, it will run against the physical limitations imposed by the number of transistors on the chip, as well as the RAM.

Lessons from a 45-Year Study of Supersmart Children

What is obvious to pretty much everyone else, isn’t so for the blank slate left, who have to perform mental gymnastics to explain away the reality that environment alone cannot account for the disparity of outcomes, both educational and socioeconomic, between individuals. According to the left, policy makers are not ‘doing enough’ and that ‘higher taxes are needed to close the gap’, or that ‘institutional racism is to blame’.

Here are two studies that put in a nail in the coffin for the blank slate (because the welfare left are impervious to logic and empirical evidence, it won’t convince them, but interesting nonetheless):

Parents’ math skills ‘rub off’ on their children:

Surprisingly, the researchers also found that children’s intuitive sense of numbers — i.e. the ability to know that 20 jelly beans are more than 10 jelly beans without first counting them — is predicted by their parents’ intuitive sense of numbers. Researchers determined that such close result parallels could not have been produced through similar institutional learning backgrounds because their previous research showed that this intuitive sense of numbers is present in infancy.

This is obvious to anyone who has either attended school (everyone) or works with children: there are the ‘slow kids’ and the ‘smart kids’, and these differences in intellect manifest very early in life, long before 10,000 hours can ever kick in. Teachers can reality identifying which students will succeed at life (or at least have the most potential to succeed) and who are slated for an ennobling career flipping burgers or greeting strangers at Walmart.

To give an anecdotal example, my middle school had a yearly writing content, and the winners obviously had more talent than everyone else (as was obvious when they read their stories aloud during the awards), and since we were only 11-13 years old it’s not like any of us had thousands of hours of practice under our belts.

But that means we need universal pre-pre-pre-k…all the way up until conception. We’re not spending enough tax dollars to to close the gap, obviously.

Here’s another: How to Raise a Genius: Lessons from a 45-Year Study of Supersmart Children:

The research emphasizes the importance of nurturing precocious children, at a time when the prevailing focus in the United States and other countries is on improving the performance of struggling students. At the same time, the work to identify and support academically talented students has raised troubling questions about the risks of labelling children, and the shortfalls of talent searches and standardized tests as a means of identifying high-potential students, especially in poor and rural districts.

The headline caused confusion for some, because it seemed to suggest, perhaps, that it’s possible to turn a child into a genius (nurture). As the passage above shows, what the author meant is that the child has already been identified as a genius (such as through an IQ test), and then what the next steps should be in order to maximize the child’s potential. Cognitive capital is like any other resource, and it should not go to waste.

Special education gets vastly more funding than gifted education despite both extremes being represented equally on the Bell Curve. This represents a massive misappropriation of public resources, and needs to be rectified.

The welfare left talks about ‘breaking barriers’, but this is false or a red herring: what they really want are equal outcomes. The SAT was created with the intent of identifying exceptional talent that may have been overlooked by elite universities, which at the time had quotas, but now the left wants to neuter the SAT or eliminate it altogether, because the ‘wrong people’ are scoring too high, so to prevent this it’s time to get rid of the SAT.

Probably the most overused, trite argument you encounter online when debating IQ is that ‘not everyone who is smart achieves much – early to bloom, early to rot’ – or something along those lines. This study lays that argument to waste:

“Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society,” says Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program in Durham, North Carolina, which collaborates with the Hopkins centre. Wai combined data from 11 prospective and retrospective longitudinal studies, including SMPY, to demonstrate the correlation between early cognitive ability and adult achievement. “The kids who test in the top 1% tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires,” he says.

Although not every high-IQ person will achieve world-renowned success, the odds are much higher than someone who is less intelligent.

In further shattering the blank slate, exceptional talent manifests early in life, irrespective of practice or environment:

Such results contradict long-established ideas suggesting that expert performance is built mainly through practice—that anyone can get to the top with enough focused effort of the right kind. SMPY, by contrast, suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status.

Here is a point-by-point refutation of some of the more persistent myths about IQ and giftedness:

Finding “gifted” children does not contradict this. Nobody pops out of the womb a math genius.

Yes, technically no one pops out knowing trig or calculus, but some are born with the cognitive capacity, which later manifests in life, to readily master abstract and complicated stuff, and others aren’t born with that ability so they struggle to understand concepts that smart people grasp easily. Although ability can be lopsided (some are better at math than verbal), the less intelligent tend to have no dominant strengths – they are just average. And that’s fine. Most people are that way.

Gifted children are “gifted” with a laser focus on the unusual things that they find fun – math, music, what-have-you. They spend countless hours playing with numbers or with music, while little Johnny is playing with a ball.

Why don’t adults play with paste, coloring books, and alphabet letters? Because they are too mentally mature for those activities. Likewise, high-IQ children have a higher mental age, hence they find these tasks tedious and boring, as adults do.

…when people point to “gifted” talent, this is just another cop-out. They don’t have an explanation. They are appealing to everybody’s shared sense of magical outcomes. But it boils down to the hours that kids put into their interests.

Well, there’s something called an IQ score, and it does a pretty good job at predicting all sorts of things, such as socioeconomic outcomes, job performance, educational attainment, welfare dependency, and learning ability. The IQ test is one of great achievements of human psychology, is much harder to manipulate than EQ tests, and scores tend to remain stable throughout life.

One question is why these erogenous views about IQ are so persistent, and why the the blank slate view of human development is so popular. Perhaps it has to do with ignorance. Many people have been fooled by the intellectual-equivalent of snake oil salesmen such as Malcolm Gladwell, who dispenses a message that is appealing but is either wrong or unfounded. There are also potential career consequences for espousing biological realism, as we saw in 2005 with the firing of Larry Summers. Teachers can’t tell parents their kid is slow, and parents refuse to accept that their kid may be slow, preferring euphemisms like ‘ADD’, ‘differently-abled’, or ‘Autism-spectrum disorder’. As we see with Gladwell and others, entire publishing industries are built upon promoting blank slate-ism to a public that laps it up – there is a lot of money at stake. At the national level, entire multi-billion dollar departments, as well as the careers of thousands of bureaucrats, depend on shoveling money into the furnace of promoting equality of outcomes.