The Mad Hater

In modern America, it is generally assumed that intelligent people are smart about everything, not just a narrow specialty. It is also assumed, with regards to social policy, that smart people are on the “right side” of the issue. Taken together, smart people are general experts, who agree and amplify the current Progressive fads. Whenever the television chats shows want to add weight to some claim, they roll out credentialed experts to repeat what the left-wing presenter just said.

The flip side to this, of course, is that critics of the current Progressive fads are ignorant and primitive. They oppose the current trends because they lack the intellect or proper education to understand the issue. There is an oriental quality to it. The experts are talked about as enlightened, as if years of focus have allowed them to ascend to a high plane of existence. The critics, in contrast, are unenlightened, unaware there is a higher plane and thus ignorant of their own ignorance.

It is a useful social control mechanism, as it puts a tremendous moral burden on the intellectual class. No one, especially smart people, wants to be considered ignorant, so the natural tendency is to conform to the latest trends. Social pressure is a powerful weapon, as humans are social animals. To live as a pariah is the worst punishment in a status seeking community like academia. The result is the people who know better tend to keep quiet, while the rage heads and cranks run free.

There is an exception to this. There are people who seem to be smart, but they also go against the current trends, usually in a flamboyant way. Today that means acting like a crazy homeless guy on-line, screaming about stuff to no one and everyone. A good example is someone like Nicolas Taleb, the popinjay of probability. His latest thing is to gainsay evolutionary biology, by claiming all of it is all bunk. It usually involves attacking people. Here he picks out people at random and calls them names.

Taleb has a special animus for psychometry. Here is a long essay where he claims that IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle. This is ironic, given he made his money in a field that does not rise to the level of pseudoscience. Finance is just a swindle, where the “winners” have found a way to swindle the losers. Putting that aside, his essay is typical of his work. Heavy on complicated graphs and meandering logic, all of which is intended to make the reader think the writer is a super genius.

Of course, this is the stock and trade of the intellectual grifter. A pretty good rule is that a graph in an essay better be a highly simplified representation of what the preceding text just explained. If on the other hand, it is a complicated splatter chart following a pile of spaghetti language, the writer is trying to run a con on you. There are exceptions and complex topics can sometimes defy simple explanations. Still, the Feynman Rule and its natural derivatives is good to keep in mind with guys like Taleb.

Another interesting aspect of the Taleb act is that he is extremely ethnocentric. In fact it is his ethnocentrism that drives many of his Twitter tirades. This one is a good example, as it reveals a couple of things. The first thing is he does not know much about fascism or localism. He seems to think the fascists were internationalists. Of course, he assumes fascism is a synonym for bad. Therefore, it must have an opposite, as all bad things are bad because they are the opposite of the good things.

He picks localism as his good opposite of fascism and then makes the claim that the Phoenicians were localists. A popular thing with Lebanese nationalists (Christian) is to claim they are descendants of the Phoenicians. What he is up to here is a sideways celebration of his people. They were the first anti-fascists! Put another way, the root of his political analysis is an extreme pride in his people and culture, real or imagined, not a desire to understand the motivations of those making public policy.

It may be that his attacks on psychometry are driven by his ethnocentrism. Lebanon is a curious place. It is blessed with many natural resources and an ideal location between Europe and the Middle East. Yet, Lebanon is pretty much the ghetto of the Levant. If not for the Palestinians, the Lebanese would be at the bottom of the status pole. Israel, Syria and Iran use Lebanon as a staging area for their proxy wars. The Lebanese live as perpetual victims of their more powerful neighbors.

For a Lebanese nationalist, it is easier to look outside Lebanon for reasons why their country is such a mess. To admit that the Lebanese smart fraction abandoned the place a long time ago, which is mostly true, leaving the less able behind, is not going to fit well with ethno-nationalism. From an ethno-nationalist perspective, it is better to just deny there can be such a thing as a smart fraction. That obviates the need to explain a lot of Lebanese history, as well as Taleb’s personal history.

Now, it is possible that the real motivation behind these frequent rants against biology is just good old fashioned attention seeking. Taleb is a bit of gasbag and he certainly likes himself a lot. On the other hand, he could simply be a great example of someone with one good insight and not much else. Intellectual history is littered with people who had one great insight and a bunch of crackpot ideas. There were a lot of brilliant physicists in the last century, who were convinced international communism was the future.

Regardless, Taleb is a good reminder that smart people are right about things more often than dumb people, but they are still wrong about a lot of things. The further they stray from their narrow specialty, the more certain they seem to be in their wrongness. That and intelligence is a different from morality. Holding the right ideas is a different thing from holding the correct ideas. A guy like Taleb, in addition to providing free entertainment in Twitter, is a good example of how dumb smart people can be when they try.


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Member

A famous quote, attributed to Orwell: “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

On the right nowadays, everyone is talking IQ and throwing made up numbers out there of their own genius.(actually genius and high IQ are two different things.) Most people do want to be considered learned and smart and the cheap and cowardly way is to go along with leftist ideas and scams. Your right, it is a arena ripe for grifters.

I do like Lebanese food though, kafta, schwarmas and the sort. That’s something.

james wilson
Member

I know a single individual with an IQ of 160. He is modest because he is well aware of his defects, which are considerable enough to hold him back. The sweet spot for chess grandmasters has been found to be 135, which allows for intelligence to be mixed with other essentials without repelling them. The 130’s wont get you a prize in physics but I suspect that most of the people I don’t personally know who interest me are 130’s.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

130 may not get a Physics prize, but could land you a faculty position in the Physics department. I believe awhile back on Unz a table of average IQ’s for faculty in University Departments was printed (possibly in a Thompson article). Physics departments had the highest at an average IQ of 133. And their doppelgänger, Philosophy, had an average IQ of 130 or so. Neither, after some thought, seemed surprising to me.

99 Year Blues
Guest

I gave up on Taleb (without ever actually reading his patently-silly books, just lengthy quotations of him) when I discovered something rather amusing about him. The self-styled High Poobah of Noticing Things apparently wrote a book in which two imaginary characters, whom he called Fat Tony and Dr. John, were emblems and signifiers of some rather uninteresting cliches. He seems to have been blissfully unaware that the names Fat Tony and Dr. John are ALREADY TAKEN as cultural signifiers in American society, they already have quite specific cultural meanings and associations, they are not Monopoly squares upon which no one’s… Read more »

(((They))) Live
Guest
(((They))) Live

I liked his first two books, he’s clearly a smart man, his main problem as the Zman points out is that he wishes he was European, I mean if you have an above average IQ it must suck to be an Arab

Imagine being a high IQ black dude in Africa (yes they do exist) the majority of people you have to deal with are utter fools, hard not to feel sorry for them

Another Dave
Guest
Another Dave

That’s why the smart fraction in Sub Saharan Africa is jumping ship and heading to the whitest countries they can find as fast as possible. Unfortunately, their less capable brethren are hot on their heels.

Calsdad
Guest
Calsdad

There’s an awful lot of people in the world that have gotten themselves so “smart” – that they don’t understand anything.

Member

One of the weird aspects of modern society is how wide the gap has become between people with academic credentials, ex. college degrees. and people who are actually intelligent and informed. This was true when I was in college in the early 90s and it seems to have really accelerated since my college days.

Member

When you’ve made it your goal to get everyone to go to college, you have to debase the currency of academic credentials. But people don’t really comprehend how much. I mentioned to some person that credentials in the Angry Studies have virtually no correlation to intelligence and he insisted that a person with a Ph.D. in Gender Studies was still a more-intelligent-than-average person. But this plainly isn’t true, if you believe the evidence of your own eyes. The Zman’s Xrrl Science as exhibit A.

Exile
Guest
Exile

Check out Michelle Obama’s “thesis” (think it’s legit, I read this back in the Hopey Change era, this reads like the same document) https://obamaprincetonthesis.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/1985_michelle_obama_princeton_thesis.pdf

OFC, the PhD’s in this stuff are usually the ones most insistent on being called “Dr.”

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Yes, the thesis cited is legit. Obviously copied before it became controversial and removed from the library at Princeton. I read through it years ago in the early reign of the Obamas. What is sad is that it epitomizes how far a dullard like Michelle Obama could go via AA, the corruption of the Princeton faculty, and the scary part—how often her name comes up as a logical presidential candidate—pushed by the intersectionality advocates I assume. We are truly screwed.

Member

Anecdote time (insert usual disclaimer about that here). While in graduate school there was this fellow student, a single black woman with a kid, who claimed to have a bachelor’s in biology from Stanford or some other big name Cali school. She had figured out early on that I was one of the “smarties” that she could rely on to give her the answers so she always tried to sit near me. After class one day I overheard her and the professor talking. She was asking if the colors in the molecular models reflected what color the atoms “really” were.… Read more »

Member

My father had a HS diploma and an Associate’s degree from the local community college and he was better educated than the vast majority of college educated Millennials. He was a Silent Gen class of 1953 Catholic HS. He did his electrical engineering classes with a slide rule. Today, illiterate kids graduate from HS. Kids who cannot do even arithmetic or read above a 6th or 7th grade level graduate from HS. They enter college woefully unprepared because liberals thought a HS diploma was actually a magical talisman which brought riches to anyone holding one at least as far back… Read more »

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Not all the kids graduating are illiterate. PISA test scores look pretty bad for a 1st world country such as the USA when compared to most European and 1st world English speaking countries—such as Australia or Canada. However, when the non-white US population is separated out, we (Whites) do fairly well. Overall however, I think education expectations/achievement have certainly lowered in the last century as lower class Whites and POC have increasingly joined the ranks of “schooled” population—and if Dutton and Woodley are correct—our population IQ has declined. Heck, a college degree isn’t even the new HS diploma today.

Member

When Obama was in power one of the things I thought especially wretched was his mad plan to make sure every Murrican got a college degree. The people pushing this always cited those studies showing higher lifetime earnings for people with degrees as proof that this was a good idea. As Dr. Farnsworth from Futurama might say – take that causality!

Maus
Guest
Maus

Agreed. The Studies departments exist to handle all those affirmative action admits. They didn’t get in because they were smart but because they were brown. I am immediately suspicious of the intelligence of anyone with such a degree. Intelligence finds its level in society. Sadly, that process has been supplanted by credentialism. I knew many men in the 70s who had no college degree yet were CEOs of banks, petroleum companies or large agricultural operations. How often would that happen today?

Member

My Dad was a hospital executive from the ’60s through the ’80s with nothing but a high school diploma and extensive experience in his field, before that he’d been in restaurant management. He saw that world change. In the ’80s he hard to retire from his directorship due to health issues, but later he wanted to get a less-stressful job in the field and was virtually unable to find anyone who would hire him without a college diploma, despite more than forty years experience. I’m sure there was also a bunch of age discrimination in there, too, but the diploma… Read more »

ReturnOfBestGuest
Guest
ReturnOfBestGuest

Credentialism. It’s really too bad.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

That may change. Credentialism is used (appropriately) derisively to describe those know nothing’s graduating from our institutions of lower learning. However, that may not always be the case. Even as I was ending my career there was a rise in the field of CS for folks with certifications in certain specialties; networking, systems administration, etc. In that manner, employers knew what they were getting in the hiring process as well as produced a path for employees to improve upon their skill sets while employed. And it’s sure cheaper than attending a four year institution for a degree in a fast… Read more »

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Try to get a job as a cop without a college degree.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Vizzini, if one assumes the average as 100 or say below, then perhaps the college attending student majoring in “Angry Studies” (love that term) might do better than that. However, there still are a lot of non-college folk who test out better than 100 and also—my biggest conundrum—is what the difference between two individual IQ scores means, as IQ is a rank order, not interval scale measurement. Is the difference between an average person (say IQ, 100) and a mediocre angry studies student (say IQ, 106–if that) meaningful in any practical sense? I suspect not, although if I had my… Read more »

Peter
Guest
Peter

I don’t agree that smart people are necessarily more correct on issues than dumb people. They can just muster better arguments. I think views of people are driven more by emotion and experience than by a dispassionate weighing of facts. The Righteous Mind by Haidt goes into detail on this.

Exile
Guest
Exile

The main peril of high-IQ is hubris and lack of self-awareness. Haidt’s right in regarding rationality as merely the rider on the elephant. High-IQ’s tend to underestimate the power and influence of the beast beneath their awesome cortex. Mere mortal thinkers trust Dirty Harry and “know their limitations.” Still, high-IQ’s will be more correct than low-IQ’s by definition unless they trip over their frontal lobe in the thinking process. Some of this is more related to the type of thinker rather than raw IQ. MBTI breaks this down on an N (intuitive) and S (sensing) axis. N’s relate to the… Read more »

BadThinker
Guest
BadThinker

MBTI is fun and all, but it’s really more like astrology than anything else. Big five is a bit better, but generally psychometrics (even ‘g’) are a really, really grey area. For lots more good info from a dissident right-winger and honest math guy: On psychometrics: https://wmbriggs.com/post/27713/ “The goal people have is to develop an entirely objective “rubric” which anybody can use to rate a person along some dimension or dimensions. I argue that this is an impossibility. Not that it is unlikely, but it is impossible. Perfection, therefore, is not to be had.” Other stuff: *Fantastic* post about IQ… Read more »

Exile
Guest
Exile

I use MBTI loosely – the problems tend to arise when pigeon-holing someone into a category with insufficient evidence and/or assuming that everyone fits perfectly into the boxes. What Taleb would call a “Procrustean” error. If you couple it with function-preferences/stacks you can develop some useful strategies for better evaluating people, relating to them and helping them cope with tasks. Treating any kind of psychometics like physics is obviously a mistake. I’ll quibble on the astrology comparison – MBTI’s based on what you observe, then less reliably on what’s self-reported by the subject. Astrology’s totally arbitrary and based on no… Read more »

Member

Intelligence is just horsepower. The old computer science term, “Garbage In, Garbage Out” holds true. Young adults today have been fed garbage since their kindergarten days. They have no ability to produce correct answers from bad data, no matter the horsepower of their computing machinery. We live in the most counter-factual time in human history. Primitive people believed absurd things because they didn’t have the data to know any better. We’ve produced generations of modern primitives that have been fed bad data, leading to absurd beliefs, despite the fact that there are people who KNOW the data is wrong. Reality… Read more »

AltitudeZero
Guest
AltitudeZero

The most hilarious thing about Taleb is that he does not realize that he is the classic example of so many things that he is always railing about; he fulminates against the “Intellectual Yet Idiots”, without realizing that his attacks on IQ put him squarely in this camp. He claims to believe that national or racial differences don’t exist, yet he spends a large portion of his twitter feed stating that he is not Not NOT ARAB! He goes on about how most successful people think that they are smart when they are just lucky, when of course, if this… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yes, I always enjoyed reading NNT and his book Fooled By Randomness had a genuine impact on me while I was going through school, and probably contributed to the way I think no as much as anything.

However I have found it ironic that he dramatically demonstrating his “IYI” logic live in person, for everyone to see.

That being said, his general hostility to ProgThinkers is entertaining.

AltitudeZero
Guest
AltitudeZero

Yeah, I actually like Taleb and find a lot of his stuff informative, but he’s just gone off the deep end on the IQ thing. I mean, it’s fine to point out that it’s a very imperfect measure, and that lots of highly intelligent people can do very stupid things, but he seems to have taken the tack that if a measure is not perfectly predictive, it’s worthless, which is just absurd.

Ris_Eruwaedhiel
Guest
Ris_Eruwaedhiel

“So smart, so smart, so stupid.”

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

I wonder if in many areas of this discussion folks are not drifting back and forth (conflating, unwittingly) between usefulness of IQ in group decisions and analysis and decisions regarding individuals.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

I find the argument sifting process that goes on here very valuable. Which is why I hate the Tiny Duck intrusions, as they upset the flow of things.

JZs
Guest
JZs

As a bit of an aside, Taleb is a true believer in the keto diet. That’s the mountain he’s defending in the diet wars. That struck me as very odd coming from the likes of him. But I suppose next to politics and religion, diet zealots can be pretty damn strident if not irrational. At any rate, Taleb comes off as a crackpot, at least on the diet score.

Full disclosure—-I’m largely an agnostic, diet wise.

Exile
Guest
Exile

Keto’s legit if your body likes it, YMMV. I’ve lost considerable weight and managed to keep if off by using it when necessary. He has some decent ideas on diet to the extent he’s kinda-paleo and skeptical of “scientific nutrition.”

Exile
Guest
Exile

Taleb like most libertarians lacks self-awareness. He seems oblivious to how much he resembles the infamous IYI (intellectual yet idiot) he skewers in his books when he ventures into fields of specialty knowledge like IQ science. I’ve read most of his stuff and he’s my #2 brilliant-yet-unreliable source for information behind Ayn Rand (another gloriously myopic NT-type lib-sperg). Some ideas and insights are great, some are nonsense. Every idea has to be unpacked and rigorously tested on its own, otherwise you end up buying into Phoenecians, Steve Jobs, open borders for smart fractions and nonsense like “IQ is pseudo-science.” He… Read more »

Member

I’ve met several guys like Taleb. Really smart guys who have shown some really creative insight on a few topics but on other topics are raving madmen.

Taleb has also gotten into with Charles Murray, who argued (and wrote a book) in favor of the obvious superiority of Western Civilization. Taleb was butt-hurt and claimed Murray was unfairly classifying Mediterranean civilization as Western. Obviously that dovetails with his resentment on group IQ.

Exile
Guest
Exile

He’s either blind to or utterly dishonest about his personal biases. You could ret-con his bio from reading what he considers his rational deductions.

3g4me
Guest
3g4me

That blindness to personal biases is really evident whenever anyone not of White Christian ancestry comments at d-right or d-lite sites. Jews who acknowledge Negro dysfunction but insist their own coethnics are pure and righteous. A particular Korean commenter who’s ruined Audacious Epigone for me, with his insistence that his hapa kids are White and that he loves White people, but mention Koreans specifically or merely Asians generally and he goes to town on how everyone else’s experience or belief is wrong and All Asians are smart and cultured and Koreans in particular are awesome. Then there’s the typical female… Read more »

Exile
Guest
Exile

Had a run-in with one of the d-right feminist types at Counter-Currents in the Tommy thread last week when I dared to say d-right women should lead from the home. We like-minded men made allowance for outliers like Queen Ann but many wanted the whole equality grovel – lotta white knighting resulted. Apparently it’s going to take some time before either sex fully gets their firmware updated on gender roles in Our Thing

BadThinker
Guest
BadThinker

I’m convinced that the ‘famous’ d-right women, and especially the ‘conservative woman’ are grifters out to make a buck. I might make an exception for Coulter, but even there I don’t think I will.

Live your values. Have some kids to keep your civilization going. If you’re sterile, adopt some. There are no shortage of heritage American kids in need of homes thanks to opioids. (as an aside, this is what really steams me about the Christian that goes and adopts a bunch of African babies when there are lots of their own at home without parents).

Apex Predator
Guest
Apex Predator

“Really smart guys who have shown some really creative insight on a few topics but on other topics are raving madmen.” Was his name Vox Day? This is the primary problem over there other than being a very delicate little flower unable to take even a slight amount of critique of his ideas. He is the Super Genius and can -never- be wrong, that is a huge blindspot and he lashes out like a petulant child. Having a tribe of sycophant loyalists hanging on your every word doesn’t help matters. The guy has deep insight into certain topics that keep… Read more »

ronehjr
Guest
ronehjr

What’s the matter? Don’t you trust the plan? Don’t you know the God Emperor has it under control? You don’t like calling him the God Emperor? Gamma.

james wilson
Member

If the Greeks, who were certainly not Englishmen, were not Western Civ, nobody is. Curiously, the evidence mounts that the Greeks were in fact German tribes, with the exception of the Attics. One can see how that might hurt a Phoenician butt. After all, the best that the smart fraction of Phoenicians could build was a rather successful civilization in Carthage based on baby sacrifice. Me, all I ask is that you do not mate with your first, second, or third cousin and things may work out.

Citizen of a Silly Country
Guest
Citizen of a Silly Country

“Social pressure is a powerful weapon, as humans are social animals. To live as a pariah is the worst punishment in a status seeking community like academia.” Which is why creating our own community is where our future begins. It’s fundamental. Muslims can ignore the media’s rantings because it’s made up of people who not part of their community. The media is rendered powerless. This is why I say that despite its facade of invincibility, TPTB are, in truth, quite vulnerable. They have few weapons against a unified community. Muslims – some of the least capable people on the planet… Read more »

3g4me
Guest
3g4me

Citizen: Brilliant take on how to turn Whites’ susceptibility to social pressure to our advantage. Thank you for a much-needed White pill.

Citizen of a Silly Country
Guest
Citizen of a Silly Country

We really can win this thing. What’s more, our task is going to get easier over time. The anti-white propaganda and policies will simultaneously hurt whites and make them more susceptible to our message.

In the near term, things will get worse, but the longer-term term future is up for grabs, and we have a good shot of carving out a niche for ourselves.

Exile
Guest
Exile

Social reinforcement’s a huge part of the 5PT strategy. You unplug from Big Other and fill the gaps with normal, pre-bugged social inputs. Face to face positive reinforcement from people you actually know and respect is much more powerful than muh likes and retweets.

Citizen of a Silly Country
Guest
Citizen of a Silly Country

That is true. But big media will always be there, and kids and women will watch it unless we create an alternative. Vox Day is odd fellow for sure, but he’s dead right about trying to create alternative content. I don’t read him much but he mentioned the other day about trying to get enough subscribers to fund the making of a “Little House on the Praire” type show or an Owen Benjamin comedy. Shows that would support our people and values and not tell use that white people are terrible. That’s our path. We’re not going to violently overthrow… Read more »

S18-1000
Guest
S18-1000

This phenomenon reminds me of the ‘Why Speculate?’ essay by Michael Crichton; specifically this part: “Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.) Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case,… Read more »

Larry
Guest
Larry

Amen. When I was in HS in the1960s I felt sorry for the poor men in Russia who had to rely on Izvestia and Pravada as their news sources and it was only later (for me, it began with believing Time mag etc on Jimmy Carter) that I realised the major media of America is as trustworthy as was the Commie press. I no longer read the newspapers ( i assume that what makes it into print is only accidentally accurate) or listen to the TV new/talk shows etc. As to why the press produces such a ghastly product was… Read more »

Member

The effect is especially true in finance: economic statistics are a joke, If GDP stats for example are read by a chain store owner he’ll mutter about the retail numbers being wrong but accept the rest. The developer will pooh-pooh the the housing starts number etc etc.
Anything you know about is falsifiable yet people believe the rest,
Quite odd really,

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

As I go through life accumulating knowledge, the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. It seems like most people don’t have that view. Taleb’s probably one of them.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

The Lebanese I have met are very bright and very clever, but are convinced of their own infallibility and won’t listen. Taleb seems to fit the mold. But then, I have this constant habit of quickly characterizing people by their roots and their culture. Maybe it’s me.

Exile
Guest
Exile

Once had a Levantine in the family by marriage (much Appalachian Sardaukar wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued and persisted) – can confirm.

Bubba
Guest
Bubba

Join the discussion…”Once had a Levantine in the family by marriage” . . . me, too. She still doesn’t listen. But the babaganoush was great.

Maus
Guest
Maus

It’s the food. Serve me some dolmas and shish tawook, with a couple glasses of arak, and I will happily agree with my Lebanese host that Lebanon is the cradle of civilization and its people beyond compare.

3g4me
Guest
3g4me

I adore Mediterranean/North African food (Turkish, Lebanese, Greek, Iranian, Moroccan). The people, in their own environment, as well. As paper Americans/Europeans, not so much. Fwiw, I bought cookbooks by locals when I lived overseas. It may not be original, but with the right ingredients and a bit of effort one can prepare pretty good copies. One needn’t import the original people for muh ethnic restaurants.

3g4me
Guest
3g4me

Yes. I was always told how smart and well-read I was and the d-right has humbled me over the past decade. I’ve learned so much from so many insightful people so much more knowledgeable than I on so many subjects, and then I read the standard “liberals are smarter and more credentialed” crap. I have all the credentials needed to impress the standard lib and I know I’m still amazingly ignorant about so much.

Chiron
Guest
Chiron

“makes the claim that the Phoenicians were localists“

That’s odd, the first thing I learned about the Phoenicians is that they had a international maritime trade in the Mediterranean and maybe beyond, they founded Carthage in the coast of what is today Tunisia, it seems some stereotypes associated with Jews started with the Phoenicians

Exile
Guest
Exile

I found that an odd idea in reading him, too. The Levantine Phoenecians traded all the way to the coast of Britain, the ur-seafarers, more so than the Greeks by a stretch. They mostly delegated their fighting and farming to mercenaries and helots and worshipped a fire god. The later-arising Jews share some genes and a lot of behaviors with them. Similar genetic fitness, similar environmental challenges, similar strategies/behavior.

This is a good sample of what we know, from what I know:
https://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/science/31genes.html
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000509003653.htm

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

Chiron;
Agree about Phoenicians being widely traveled traders in the Med. And besides that they practiced a truly evil religion that featured burning infants alive as sacrifices to their gods: Molech in the Bible, Tanit and Baal Hermon in their language.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Religion_in_Carthage#Child_sacrifice

Even the Romans, who were no slouches in pagan depravity, were horrified at the Carthaginian religious practices. Not sure why NNT would wish to associate himself with these folks.

TomA
Guest
TomA

It’s important to make a distinction between people who use their intelligence in their routine working lives (doctors, engineers, etc.) and those who roll it out occasionally for public display. For the former, intelligence is an adjunct to one’s everyday life. For the latter, it’s most often ego gratification. Regardless of the degree of intelligence that you were born with, you must make the best of what you’ve got. And a little humility is never a bad thing.

Guzalot
Guest
Guzalot

“If you can’t dazzle them with dexterity baffle them with bullshit.” I’m looking at YOU Taleb.

Exile
Guest
Exile

I see this in law a lot – confident delivery’s often enough to make people assume you know what you’re talking about and not dig deeper, particularly if you keep firing for effect. The more a guy says, the more I want to fact-check him. Buckley’s entire career was built on this. I always believed he was a WASP version of Cornell West. Check out his old “Firing Line” episodes and watch him use the “wall of words” to crush his opposition like Taliban on a tranny. If he bothered to rhyme, he’d be indistinguishable from guys like West, with… Read more »

Larry
Guest
Larry

Everyone, especially those you admire, must be fact-checked. One useful habit to develop is when you read/hear about such things as Republican Russian collusion or Republican white supremacy, you can be fairly certain that is an ego defense mechanism in action -projection – and that the person/party making those accusations are/were guilty of the very same actions they falsely accuse of others of being guilty. I assume most readers here know the Democrat POTUS Platform of 1898 had posters stating that they represent the white man and the white man must rule Now, of course, the media is not going… Read more »

Larry
Guest
Larry
Sleepy
Member
Sleepy

This fellow Taleb hardly qualifies as “The Great Iconoclast” for attacking evolutionary biology theory and IQ testing. On the contrary, he’s simply promoting the doubleplusgoodthink of the standard social model, i.e., blank slate theory. That at the same time he promotes chauvinistic beliefs about his Lebanese/Phoenician heritage just make him a hypocrite and fool. That said, we’re talking Lebanon here, so if it makes him feel better about himself, who really cares? Sailer has written about this fellow fairly often, but I haven’t seen anything about him that makes me think I should take him seriously.or anything that separates him… Read more »

Member

Frankly, I was glad to see someone with some credentials at least try to take the IQ fanatics down a few pegs. In fact, most of what I gleaned from Taleb’s tweets seemed consistent with what people have said here: IQ is something but actual success in ones field or in life depends on many additional factors,. Also, Zman’s point about bullshitting with graphs seems to be exactly Taleb’s point about all these IQ distribution charts. Of course, unlike Taleb, I will admit I may be wrong,

AltitudeZero
Guest
AltitudeZero

Sure, there’s no doubt that it’s possible to go way too far with the whole IQ thing, and had Taleb limited his criticisms to IQ fanatics, he would have been making a useful and valid point. But his near hysteria on the topic, his denial that IQ means anything at all, and his insults and blocking of critics ruined what could have been a valid criticism. Taleb’s huge but fragile ego really detracts from his value as a thinker and critic, and, as with Vox Day, his sycophantic echo chamber doesn’t help.

John Smith
Member

Yup. My proggie in laws were like that and they drove me bonkers with it. Their idiot son spent 7 YEARS getting a mickey mouse BEd degree. He went to school part time and had to repeat courses. When he went for his masters he quit because it was too hard. But his degree in public education made him an expert on everything in their opinion. Of course he was a card carrying environmentalist, feminist, socialist and general leftist ass hat. Creationists and Christians were all a bunch of rubes and idiots – even though my braying jack as of… Read more »

TheLastStand
Guest
TheLastStand

Being an atheist never made sense to me. You have to believe in spontaneous generation. Literally taking science back before Pasteur.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

John S; You are right re The *Theory* of Evolution. This hypothesis was an elegant explanation for the diversity of nature based on what smart guys knew in the 1840’s. But almost all of the underlying scientific theories of that time on which it was based have been disproven since. Ordinarily, when disconfirming findings begin to accumulate, the current hypothetical scientific theories are adjusted, restated or replaced. That’s what science is and does. Mostly. As an extreme example, in my youth, the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion was widely derided by chemistry professors. However, given the state of scientific knowledge in… Read more »

John Smith
Member

Well said, Al. I think what’s happening is that people are looking for some kind of morality and redemption. When the church got corrupted with grift and scammers, it took a chit kicking as people fled in droves away from the television evangelists, the scam charities and all the other BS. (The church deserved that too; it didn’t police its ranks and the pedos, perverts and scammers ran away with it and people got fed up). I think they turned instead to science, hoping to find something there… and as you say, guys like Fat Al Gore got into it… Read more »

Larry
Guest
Larry

Excellent observations. Thank you

JR Wirth
Guest
JR Wirth

I don’t understand how someone can repackage Minsky’s credit cycle theory into a “Black Swan Event” and be hailed as a genius for groundbreaking research. He owes royalties to the Minsky family. As a matter of fact he owes a lot of royalties to a lot of people. Taleb is a repackager of ideas, not an originator of them. He knows the media, and the personae that the media is looking for. No bright person in his field would come off well in the media. He’s the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of Finance. People like that come from generations of swindlers,… Read more »

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Consumers of financial services fall for stories all the time. 99% of it appears to be looking for confirmation for their being “in” or being “out”. The appearance of intellectual or occupational depth seems to count for a lot in exercising authority.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

JR, remind me never to get on your wrong side. Ouch! 😉

Moran ya Simba
Guest
Moran ya Simba

I can say from personal experience that someone can be a world-class scientist, with the mathematical, logical mind of a demi-god. And be a complete, total, political moron. There are people who can understand ‘D-branes’ (highly abstract mathematical concepts used in ‘super string theory’) and NOT understand why whites becoming a minority is a problem. I’ve actually been genuinely puzzled by this, I find it weirder than quantum mechanics to be honest. I like Taleb but as an applied mathematician/statistician. I don’t know enough about him politically and he may indeed be bonkers. I guess that sort of supports his… Read more »

Severian
Guest

My personal litmus test for “Smart” people is: Have you ever been wrong about anything of consequence? I don’t mean stuff like “Where’s the nearest McDonald’s” or “What’s the best way to get to the post office.” I mean questions of war and peace, that kind of thing. If you haven’t, you’re a poseur. I’d bet long money Taleb has never been wrong in his life. (N.b. this is especially true if you today hold positions 180 degrees from your previous positions. It has never ceased to fascinate me, the way the ivory tower herd moves like a school of… Read more »

Exile
Guest
Exile

Pretty good filter for poseurs. The “carcass of dead policies” problem in politics largely results from inability to admit you were wrong (see W on almost everything, ever – see me, 2000-2008, believing him).

Severian
Guest

I was right there with you, buddy. In fact, there was a time when the kindest term to describe me would’ve been “civic nationalist.” A more accurate term would’ve been “cuck,” though, which is why I rarely make the Left’s mistake of believing my own BS anymore. Experience is a dear school, as Franklin once said, but fools will learn at no other.

DLS
Guest
DLS

Getting a bunch of 7th century tribesmen to morph into the founding fathers overnight. I still can’t believe I fell for that one. Now I can see it was about Israel and justifying our defense budget.

BadThinker
Guest
BadThinker

Yep. I remember arguing that we just *HAD* to go into Iraq because of all the WMDs and how we don’t want us to get nuked by some crazy dude like Saddam…

Would that I had a time machine to go back and punch myself in the face.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

“Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia”.

Maus
Guest
Maus

Ah, the felicity of your epithet “popinjay of probability” is such a delight that I cannot help but smile. That is Zman at his best. I know an astrophysicist who left academia after his second post doc because, he confessed, there were probably only four people in the world who truly understood his work. When Taleb resorts to mathematics rather than aphorisms, I feel he is channeling a similar dynamic. It obfuscates rather than explains or confirms, leaving one unable to parse the argument. One ultimately agrees or disagrees based on the forcefulness of his personality, which is a very… Read more »

Damian
Guest
Damian

A few months ago I read his argument that IQ was not a predictor of success. I sort of like some of his books – currently have Skin in the Game, which I’m reading. He was also arguing with Clare Lehman at the time on twitter. His argument was that IQ did not correlate with success. His essay and argument seemed disingenuous to me, as his essay did actually prove what most on the d-right believe to be true. Low IQ was a predictor of failure with the increase in failure correlating with lower IQ. What wasn’t correlated was that… Read more »

Member

I’ve seen persuasive (to me at least) studies that the higher IQ = greater success correlation starts to fail much above 2 SD’s up. The theory is that above that level the far larger number of somewhat less smart but still bright people view one as a not to be trusted outsider: being an outlier on the upside has its downside.
The Bell Curve giveth and the differential calculus of the Bell Curve taketh away.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Yes, but over a certain level of IQ, you are working with a restricted range population. This selected population of high IQ’ers *will show less correlation* with your measure of “success” simply due to this phenomena.

We learned about this problem in our second year stat’s or measurement course. Problem usually illustrated with any number of social science research examples that use college sophomores as subjects and then apply results—or lack thereof—to the general population (majority of course, not college educated).

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

“Yet, Lebanon is pretty much the ghetto of the Levant.”

I’m told it was a nice enough place before the 1975 to 1990 civil war wrecked the country and its society. Beirut was once called the Paris of the Levant without too much exaggeration.

Damian
Guest
Damian

I go there on business a couple of times a year. Beirut is on a peninsular and a sort of sloping hill. Before the civil war it was full of low rise buildings where most could see the sea, and the city was classic and beautiful. After the war, they restored a few streets, and it appears that the builders bribed the councilors to allow them to build high rise flats galore. I’d say it’s now the Marseilles of the Middle East, as it is just high rise after high rise that could once see the Med, but now just… Read more »

Senator Brundlefly
Guest
Senator Brundlefly

Intelligence as biological computational power translates to wisdom, but only in the presence of humility. I’m not sure if the two traits are often hand and hand. I know very few people who can just sit down and objectively and honestly describe an ideological opponent’s worldview and why someone would be drawn to it. Fewer the caveats and hesitations they have about their own worldview and why someone would not be drawn to it.

BadThinker
Guest
BadThinker

I have found that the older (mostly) honest folks get, the more they can see the other side as well as the negatives to their own side. The older dishonest folks get, the more they are bound to the lies that they tell themselves…

Monsieur le Baron
Guest

Sometimes the only way to be humbled is the school of hard knocks.

Member

Oh dear, I would bet dollars to donuts that NN Taleb searches for himself on google daily. You are likely to elicit a large number of unkind words from the Phoneyecian Phenom.

Official Bologna Tester
Guest
Official Bologna Tester

thezman said: ” There are exceptions and complex topics can sometimes defy simple explanations. Still, the Feynman Rule and its natural derivatives is good to keep in mind with guys like Taleb.”
Albert Einstein said the same thing. Here’s a link to ” BrainyQuote.”
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/albert_einstein_383803

Jay Dee
Guest
Jay Dee

Taleb is the Mickey Hatcher of the Good-Think intelligentsia. A light-hitting utility player for most of his career.

But in the 1988 World Series he hit .368 w 2 HRs and 5 RBIs, and when you bring up the name Mickey Hatcher and his mostly undistinguished 12-year career…….the first thing that pops to mind is that 1988 World Series.

Mickey was lucky that way. As is Taleb.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

I had an argument with a relative in which she claimed to be “more enlightened” and even tried pulling the White privilege canard on me. If we weren’t related I wouldn’t have restrained myself, but I got my licks in. She kept blathering about Roy Moore being a pedophile. Eventually I asked her what she thought of drag queen story hour. Of course that’s totally cool. Then she claimed she was more enlightened because she knows more gay people. This incoherent mess of an argument somehow makes her one of the smart people. Her badly regurgitated NPR drivel gives her… Read more »

BadThinker
Guest
BadThinker

Just tell them to make you a sandwich.

Larry
Guest
Larry

Her badly regurgitated NPR drivel gives her this sense of superiority that’s unbearable.

That describes the self-righteous attitudes of the 1960s radicals. They knew they were right and they knew those they opposed were wrong and they were not about to prove it to either themselves or their enemies.

karl Mchungus
Guest
karl Mchungus

you will never get that time back.

horus197
Guest
horus197

“Taleb has a special animus for psychometry. Here is a long essay where he claims that IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle. This is ironic, given he made his money in a field that does not rise to the level of pseudoscience. Finance is just a swindle, where the ‘winners’ have found a way to swindle the losers.” Ironic, because Taleb would probably agree with you about finance as a pseudoscience. That’s been his position since he started writing for a general audience. He’s a professional skeptic. It’s not surprising that he takes an equally skeptical view of IQ.

ReturnOfBestGuest
Guest
ReturnOfBestGuest

Whatever. As Murray said a week or so ago, neither the IQ denialists nor the absolutists ever cite the massive distributional overlap between groups to bolster their arguments.

Compsci
Guest
Compsci

Why would they cite overlap? Their arguments are never made to categorize the individual, but rather the collective (group). And collective arguments are valid and useful. For example, recognition of inherent group differences is the death knell to the current blather of “blank slatism” and the lie of White racism being the cause of outcome differences among groups.

Official Bologna Tester
Guest
Official Bologna Tester

thezman said: “He picks localism as his good opposite of fascism and then makes the claim that the Phoenicians were localists. A popular thing with Lebanese nationalists (Christian) is to claim they are descendants of the Phoenicians. What he is up to here is a sideways celebration of his people. They were the first anti-fascists! Put another way, the root of his political analysis is an extreme pride in his people and culture, real or imagined, not a desire to understand the motivations of those making public policy.” Everyone has a foundation myth that anchors them in the past/present/future. And… Read more »

Member

A humble person has no trouble saying “I have no idea,” when he in fact has no idea. That is a good starting point for analysing the mouthings of “smart people.”

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

High IQ is like concealed carry. It is for your own protection, and you only show your weapon when it might be really necessary to use it. Do not trust people who openly carry, or openly talk about their IQ, until you get to know them well. You might not trust them even then.

Member

Yep, but it’s partly a byproduct of their education. “Smart” kids are often put in smart kid classes with other smart kids. So there’s this natural “never show weakness” thing going on. The classes themselves are often structured to avoid failure…leading to the idea that only dumb people don’t know or are wrong. So a lot of the “smart” kids grow up as thin skinned whiners who won’t admit they’re wrong or don’t know…because you’re not “smart” if you do that. And oftentimes their whole identity is built up around that test score in 3rd grade which declared them “smart”.… Read more »

Member

I had my doubts about Taleb when I read his third book, a collection of banalities he called “aphorisms.” The icing on the cake was when he tweeted that, although he rarely tosses around such terms, he thought Claire Lehmann is a “neo-Nazi.” Now, you can think about Claire Lehmann what you will, but anyone who claims she is a “new-Nazi” has a screw loose, no matter how profound their mastery of statistics.

Rcocean
Guest
Rcocean

High IQ doesn’t mean wise. Einstein was smart and a complete idiot when it came to Religion and was a Communist (or was it socialist). A high IQ con-man and crook is a menace – and so are High IQ foreigners – who want to rule our country. Finally, once you get past a certain point, IQ = 140, the rest is irrelevant. People need to understand high intelligence isn’t a virtue, its an attribute. Like being physically strong.

Official Bologna Tester
Guest
Official Bologna Tester

Heraclitus said: “Character is destiny.” https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/heraclitus_117863 Lefty Gomez said: “I’d rather be lucky than good.” https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/lefty_gomez_139632 Thomas A. Edison said: ” Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_a_edison_109928 Here’s a website called: “PlanetofSuccess.” With an artical called: “12 Qualities of Highly Successful People.” http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/2016/12-qualities-of-highly-successful-people/ Here’s a website called: ” The Positive Parenting Centre.” With an artical called: ” Our List of Virtues and their Definitions.” https://www.the-positive-parenting-centre.com/list_of_virtues.html Ecclesiastes 9:11. ” New Living Translation.” “I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle.… Read more »

Member

Fun with numbers. By definition: – Half of the people you meet at random are below average intelligence. Column B, so to speak. Nearly 100%, if asked, would claim to be a member of column A. – You have equal chances that a randomly assigned doctor in the medical group finished in the bottom 50% of their class. Even if you assume some don’t get board certified, say 20%, your odds are still around 40%. – This week, many school students are receiving their PSAT results from testing last April. This will be their first experience with the meaning of… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

Anybody older than 50 who thinks the Flynn Effect is real hasn’t spent much time around many people

Member

I think the data is real, but nobody really can explain why. There’s also a measured “reverse” Flynn Effect in Western nations over the last 20ish years.

H I
Guest
H I

Levantine Lysenko, Popinjay of Probability, Intellectual Yet Useful Idiot (IYUI), The IQ Taleban. I’m sure the nicknames will keep coming.

Reziac
Guest
Reziac

I read IYI after deciding, from various podcasts, that Taleb tries to speak into existence that which he wants and approves… He’s the finest example of IYI.

Original article:
https://medium.com/incerto/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577

Member

Some researcher a few years ago released a study finding that smarter people more readily fool themselves than do average people. Vox Day and Taleb seem to be great example of that. They are so convinced about their brilliance that they automatically assume they are right based on just a gut reaction. You see that in Taleb and IQ and Vox and both the reconquesta and Q.

Member

I have taken two IQ tests – the first in elementary school and the second when I turned 50. Both were 136. I was a marketing executive and my IQ was always a hindrance. Companies increasingly don’t want you to think and implement smart ideas. They want you to be on whatever popular bandwagon that makes executives’ lives easier and satisfy the people who tend to bitch to the ceo. To make matters worse, I find that really smart people just use their IQ to better play this game rather than actually conceiving of and driving smart ideas. Maybe if… Read more »

Mark Taylor
Guest
Mark Taylor

IQ matters because I don’t want to live in a place like the Congo or Venezuela. However it does seem as though a lot of the smart people have a bit of autistic tendencies. These people will often claim rationality is the most important factor in politics. They also admit that they find human behavior odd and human interactions difficult. Politics is fundamentally about what large groups of people want. If you find normal people indecipherable and unrelatable, than you probably shouldn’t get involved in politics. They also seem to be rather tedious. When a Napoleon Dynamite says he spent… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

“However it does seem as though a lot of the smart people have a bit of autistic tendencies. These people will often claim rationality is the most important factor in politics. They also admit that they find human behavior odd and human interactions difficult.”

Those aren’t smart people, they’re libertarians.

A B
Guest
A B

Stanford-Binet 139. (shrugs)

It’s utterly useless from a practical POV without a good knowledge of historical facts, laws of the natural world, the ability to emotionally navigate with/around others, etc. Lower IQs can be more successful in the world than higher.

It’s just one measure of several that are relevant.

vxxc💂🏻‍♂️😉
Guest

The Falangist Flaneur offers only Lebanon, not a path for the West or Americans.

He’s also living proof the Roman’s were right about Carthage.

Nemo
Guest
Nemo

I follow Taleb on Twitter and his recent rantings on IQ had me wondering for the past few weeks if you would ever share your thoughts on him and what angle you would take.

You did not disappoint.

He has to respond, right?

david
Guest
david

Talebs article only “criticized” one IQ study out of thousands. His main mathematical premise there is IQ correlates only 60% with AVOIDING poverty. Thats obvious. 60% is still significant. More importantly are other studies, showing IQ correlates MUCH higher with STEM jobs, AKA building the modern world. His claim that “street smarts beat intelligence” falls apart quickly when you need your society to develop trustworthy electrical engineering, infrastructure, technology, medicine, chemistry and physics. Would Taleb take his family across a bridge designed by a low IQ guy with street smarts? How about to the top of a skyscraper? You cant… Read more »