IQ: It Still Predicts A lot

The Bermuda Triangle of Science

Nonetheless, the evidentiary base regarding the existence of general intelligence and its ability to predict important life outcomes — including health, longevity and mortality, as well as other key variables — is beyond compelling, it’s overwhelming. And if you find yourself feeling like you can do damage to this evidence base by invoking arguments about “multiple intelligences” or something of the sort, let me save you the effort. Those urges illustrate unfamiliarity with any of the serious research done on the topic in the last several decades. If those urges haunt you, I’d recommend Stuart Ritchie’s excellent primer on the topic. The waters of intelligence research, though controversial, no longer require that you be Magellan to navigate them…

If you want to watch academics glorify a trait that many still think, “doesn’t exist” or “doesn’t matter”, hang around them when student applications are being reviewed.

The fact some become so histrionic in trying to prove or show that IQ is meaningless or irrelevant is evidence that deep in their subconscious there is a possibility they are wrong, that IQ is not meaningless. It’s almost like it hits too close to home. If someone proclaims that there are flying toasters in space, such statement is meaningless and no one gets defensive because it can be immediately and safely be dismissed as nonsense, but not IQ research. Hence all the arm waving in trying to explain away IQ as ‘meaningless’.

A few weeks ago I got into some Reddit debates about IQ which will be excepted here to help dispel common misconceptions about IQ:

IQ tests have been widely disregarded by academic elites since Howard Gardner’s work in the 80’s. You’re actually serving as an example of non-experts overvaluing their own opinions, as touched on in the article.
The red pill thrives on this notion. Arguments don’t have to be sound, they just have to sound good.
So please, leave the talking to the experts, or at least journalists who are trained to do more thorough research than your cherry picked, pseudo-intellectual school of “thought.”

Not true. As shown above, there is a positive correlation between IQ and income, academic and creative achievement, crime, welfare dependency, morality, success at work, and other qualities.

The problem with the multiple intelligences theory is that it’s an example of moving the goalpost – creating enough categories that everyone is a ‘genius’ at something.

I’ve written two posts with links to studies:

More resources:

Less intelligent people may be predisposed to criminality

The push to discredit IQ tests is more motivated by partisanship than quantifiable evidence that IQ is meaningless.

On a tangential note, another problem is accusations of ‘elitism’ in defending IQ.

From Reddit:

I’m fairly sure that all this talk of anti-intellectualism is the American scholar caste’s way of expressing their frustration with democracy, and of scolding the peasants for not submitting quietly to their enlightened judgement in all matters all the time. So much for “critical thinking”. Typical of this perspective is the tendency to portray the efforts of peasants to resist cultural assimilation as an act of heinous reactionary aggression. And of course, their remedies always involve increasing the prominence, prestige, and respect afforded to, well, themselves.

A quotation comes to mind:
I’m quite happy to be an anti-intellectual, actually. It is the modern equivalent of anticlericalism, and it is long overdue. One can oppose specific institutions without opposing thought in general. In fact, sometimes, it is even necessary.

The unification of anti-intellectualism with democracy is the best argument against democracy.

Also, what about the inventions and discoveries smart people bring to the world, raising standards of living as well as making the world more interesting? Everything we take for granted – internet access, running water & electricity, roofs that don;’t leak, etc -involved the ingenuity smart people, although some of the liberal arts stuff may be of dubious value. Complicated problems demand smart people to solve them, which if this is not egalitarian, inclusionary, or democratic enough, so be it.

The concept of ‘hierarchy’ and ‘natural order‘ is antithetical to the prevailing culture of egalitarianism and equality that for decades has been instilled by pop culture, parents, teachers, and clergy – the false belief that we are all, upon conception, of equal ‘value’ despite differences in ability and biology. According to this flawed thinking, a person with a middling IQ who works in an assembly line or warehouse is as valuable or important as an engineer. However, most people can do a factory job but only a small percentage can create jobs and innovation that, ultimately, employs the warehouse and assembly line worker. There is a hierarchy. Gladwell books and wishful thinking won’t change this, sorry.

An online IQ debate is not complete without the anecdotal argument about high-IQ people who ‘didn’t amount to anything’, as if these underachievers are representative of everyone with a high IQ. What must understood is that a high or low IQ is no guarantee of success or failure – it’s only about probability, with smarter people tending to have a higher probability or likelihood of being successful, if ‘success’ is measured by things such as income, educational attainment, or creative output.