Ralph Nader’s Predictable Denial of the Importance of IQ

From Tyler Cowen’s Ralph Nader interview, the question that most stood out was on the Flynn Effect (bottom of page 4 on the PDF), because Nader’s response encapsulates the modern liberal’s denial of biological determinism, denial of the importance of IQ, and illustrates the general liberal aversion to technology, or tendency to blame society’s problems on technology.

It’s little surprise the anti-technology left, including Nader, denies the Flynn Efect and that Americans are getting smarter. His answer devolves into an incoherent rant about China and missiles. That’s what happens when you raise the question of IQ to the left, they become discombobulated.

In response to Tyler’s question, Nader replies, “So maybe they can fill out various kinds of standardized tests and do puzzles and react very quickly to these video games, but quo vadis? To what end?”

How about higher income? The kids that do well on tests tend to be smarter and earn more money as adults. The left wishes this weren’t so – that anyone, regardless of IQ – has an equal shot of success when this is just not true.

While most liberals like technology as much as everyone else when it comes to entertainment like TVs and iPods or medical treatments, they resist technology when it displaces obsolete industries and jobs. But structural employment is how the economy and society advances, through the trade-off of unemployment for better technologies. This ties into IQ because as society advances, individuals with a higher IQ will be able to acquire skills that are technical and pay more, resulting in wealth disparity between the cognitive elite and everyone else. By denying IQ or redefining IQ to mean something unimportant or irrelevant, the left can justify wasteful social programs to try to close the wealth and achievement gap.

Contrary to the stereotype of the ‘knuckle dragging’ conservative, it’s actually the left that tends to be anti-intellectual and anti-technology, not the right. The major leftist ideologies of the of the last century – communism and socialism – are predicated on society regressing to a more egalitarian, primitive and agrarian state, where everyone equal but worse off. The labor movements of the 20th century oppose technology and globalization, because of its potential to displace jobs, lower wages, and lessen the political clout of the unions. Leftist ideologies such as anarcho primitivism, anarcho-socialism, anarcho-syndicalism and deep ecology tend to be anti-technology. Off the top of my head, a right-wing ideology that could be deemed anti-technology is paleoconservatism, which has made a resurgence in much the same way the anti-technology left made a resurgence following the Clinton years, especially after 2008, likely in response to the technocratic and statist policies of the Bush administration.

Prior approval replies:

I guess either the social democrats aren’t leftist enough for you, or the reality that Germany’s SPD was founded in the 19th century and have been in power (alone or in coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Christian Socialists) in Germany in the 21st century means that they get a pass due to that qualifying ‘last century.’ Well, except for the years they also were in power in the 20th century, that is.

Communism and its variants is perhaps the most anti-technology. Typically, the further left you go on the spectrum, the greater the opposition to technology. Larry Summers and Thomas Friedman – hardly ‘far-left’ by any stretch of the imagination – embrace technology and innovation in their writings.

As a counterexample, someone mentions the Christian right’s denial of evolution; however, a denial of evolution isn’t necessarily anti-technology or anti-intellectual. George W. Bush is an example of someone that supports technology and free markets, but is also a religious conservative. Another example is Mozilla’s former CEO and programmer, Brendan Eich. Let’s not forget liberals believe in some pretty unscientific stuff as well, such as astrology and new age.

Zman counters, showing how liberals are the real ‘creationists’ in denying biology and IQ, “That would most likely be the Liberal Democrats. You know, the same guys who dismiss Nick Wade and throw tantrums about “gender bias.”

Agree. Liberals become creationists in denying the science that disagrees with their worldview.

The comments take a turn for the worse with name calling.

Another commenter agrees with Nader’s opposition to defense spending:

His ‘incoherent rant’ is that we spend massive amounts funding defense contractors at a time when there is no existential threat to the United States. This results in us throwing $2 billion dollars a week away in places like Iraq instead of investing in things like universal college education.

However, this defense spending could be viewed as precautionary and to suspend it would invoke the precautionary principle; the burden of prove would fall on the left to show how eliminating defense spending will not make America more vulnerable to attack.