A recurring theme of this blog is to try to understand what makes some opinions are better than others. It’s assumed that because opinions are subjective that that it should be hard to quantify a good opinion from a bad one, but I believe such a distinction is possible.
This is sorta subjective, but from personal experience, it would seem as if smarter people are better at understanding things or having ‘good takes’ on issues. The ability to reason is correlated with IQ, so it stands to reason that smarter people are better at arguing or forming good opinions. The LSAT, for example, tests reasoning ability, and is effectively an IQ test under a different name.
I remember someone made a comment suggestive of having a high IQ, and I checked his post history to see if my ‘theory’ held up, and sure enough not a single post of his had downvotes. This held true for many individuals. It’s not perfect though, downvotes do happen even for smart people, but there are far fewer of them compared to less intelligent people. It does not matter where they post. Someone who is really smart can make a pro-capitalism argument on a Marxist sub and not be downvoted. Meanwhile less intelligent people find it hard just to be accepted by saying things that their community/tribe should otherwise agree with. Having good opinions is both an art and science; IQ helps as far as the ‘science’ is concerned.
Scott Adams and Scott Alexander are both examples of high-IQ people who have good opinions. Scott Adams can argue for the merits of vaccines and still retain the loyalty of his mostly Trump followers. Scott Alexander in 2016 made a post which could have been interpreted as defending Trump, and it still went viral and was a great success despite much of his readership being left-wing, because he made many good points and presented his argument really well.
As I have said before, outside of ‘normie Twitter’ and talk radio, good arguments are valued more than ideological conformity or predictability. People are tired of boring, stale takes on issues. Tired of pearl clutching and doth protesting too much. Can you believe so-and-so said something about something? Yes, I believe it. Sure, Ben Shapiro, Tucker, and Hannity can keep repeating the same stale populist talking points and generalizations, but they already built huge brands of average-IQ people who will lap that stuff up. It’s not 2016-2018 anymore. The populist well is now dry and the novelty has worn off. That’s how high-IQ writers like Richard Hanania
and Noah Smith have built huge audiences in 2020-2022 by arguing against populism, because the anti-populism market had been neglected.
Here is one such tweet in which Hanania pushes back against the bipartisan populist notion that it’s too expensive to raise a family:
I'm no economist, but I promise you that you don't need $250,000 a year to have kids and achieve the same living standard as Americans had in 1980. Seems as if people get their ideas of what the past was like from sitcoms rather than data. https://t.co/yG1BiEJwjm pic.twitter.com/6jxDJ3yhW6
— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) April 3, 2022
The most effective communicators do not tell people what they expect to hear , although the success of Ben Shapiro shows that this works for some, but rather present a new framing of an issue, because things are almost never as obvious or self-evident as we are often led to believe that they are. For any social issue, there are always hidden details or subtleties that are easily overlooked.