Against IQ-ism (response to Moldbug post)

Moldgug/Curtis has a new essay Why you should come to LambdaConf anyway

Good essay. Quick and easy to read, which cannot be said for some of the posts on Unqualified Reservations. It almost reads similar to what I wrote 2 days ago, against intellectualism.

No need to try to parse that. All Voegelin is saying is that if you experiment with “thinking from scratch” and the results are positive, you end up living in a different story from everyone else. What I see as reality, you see as a surreal dream world. What you see as reality, I see as a surreal dream world.

This part is especially good and echoes the ethos of ‘rationalism’, as I explain in Intellectual Solvent, Part 2

It is very difficult for high-IQ nerds to realize that a Twitter oligarchy of all the high-IQ nerds is not an effective government, that high-IQ people are not inherently better than low-IQ people, etc, etc. But we’re smart and we could try. The clue is out there, somewhere — maybe even in old books.

But you can fail to believe in HNU, and still not be racist. Why? A much more important reason: being intelligent doesn’t make you a better person.

To be frank, I think it does, if ‘better’ is measured by the ability to acquire skills that society finds economically valuable. Coding jobs pay more than bussing tables. Al else being equal, in an economic sense, the former is ‘better’.

Look at it like this, if IQ were really as meaningless as many wish it were, there would be little to no debate or controversy on the matter, just as there is no debate about the existence or lack thereof of flying toasters in space. But people do get worked-up over it, because this number predicts an awful lot.

Maybe Moldbug trying to recant, or maybe he’s always been kinda ambivalent about IQ.

Our whole society works by picking the kids who do the best on tests, hazing them in high school so they hate jocks and cheerleaders, sending them to college where they learn to be bureaucrats

Colleges, if they aren’t completely watered-down by SJW-nonsense, do more than that – they produce discoveries in literature, physics, math, technology, and so on. Intellectualism , on it’s own or in small clusters, is productive. But maybe when too many high-IQ people congregate they form impersonal, inefficient bureaucracies.

Yes, general intelligence correlates across a wide variety of problem-solving skills. If you have a high SAT score, you are more likely to be a good Go player.

True, and the reality is that the ability to score well on IQ tests (and its proxies like the SAT) is not an isolated skill; studies have shown that high-scorers tend to be more creative as measured by intellectual output as well as other benefits. It’s more than just puzzle-solving ability. The IQ test is one of the great successes of human psychology for its predictive power. While not every genius scorer will be the next Goethe, Kant, or Hegel, his odds are certainty better than someone who only scores 90-110.

Moldbug may be falling for the reductionist ‘we don’t anything about IQ’ trap, when in fact, scientists know quite a bit about genetic properties IQ (pulled from the comments):

Not sure where you’ve been getting your information. The science here is actually pretty clear, though there’s a lot left to learn about the details.

Genetic clustering that matches self-reported race is well-documented. See Risch et al, along with many others. Steve Hsu has a map of human genetic clusters scaled by Fst.

See also Hsu’s paper on the genetic structure of intelligence. As he observes, the trait is highly polygenic (like height), and we simply don’t have samples big enough to tell us much. However, some GWAS hits that look robust have been reported.

Note also that your analysis works just as well for height, skin color (okay, now we can compute the genome->pigment function, but that’s a recent development), skeletal structure, etc.

You’d also find it interesting to try to answer the historical question as to how and why the Western scientific consensus changed from the beliefs of, say, Charles Darwin.

From a recent panel discussion on IQ, here is Steve Hsu talking about how IQ is predictive of success even for very small sample sizes.

Moldbug continues:

It’s true that a high IQ is useful in almost every field, including government. In no field is it sufficient. A much more important qualification is a clue.

For certain fields, it’s more like an insufficient but necessary condition.

Why are sh*t-tier whites voting for Trump, a barbarian who can’t even write a grammatical tweet in fourth-grade English?

It’s hard to sound eloquent with only 140 characters, and Trump is trying to pack as much power into each tweet as possible, at the cost of grammar. It’s a cheap shot and inaccurate. Trump is actually pretty smart and well-informed of the issues.

IQism is the arrogant ideology of a live ruling elite. 50 years ago, the jocks and cheerleaders handed over Detroit to the professors and journalists. How’s that working out for Detroit?

Detroit failed because its economy was dependent on auto manufacturing, most of which went away, and also ‘capital flight’ also hurt. Many reasons.

Just raising this potentially controversial discussion, taking a career risk in the process, is commendable. Academia used to be a forum for ideas, and then political correctness took over, stifling research and discussion on these matters.