Average is Over

George Bush was relentlessly mocked for saying he wanted the schools to ensure that every kid is above average. It was a stupid thing to say, but people understood what he meant by it. The stupid part is thinking schools can fix what nature has crafted between the ears of school children. No one likes to hear that of course. Then again, maybe Bush was right and everyone can be above average. Most of us think we’re above average, according to this story in the National Journal.

Forget being smarter than a fifth-grader. Most Americans think they’re smarter than everyone else in the country.

Fifty-five percent of Americans think that they are smarter than the average American, according to a new survey by YouGov, a research organization that uses online polling. In other words, as YouGov cleverly points out, the average American thinks that he or she is smarter than the average American.

A humble 34 percent of citizens say they are about as smart as everyone else, while a dispirited 4 percent say they are less intelligent than most people.

Men (24 percent) are more likely than women (15 percent) to say they are “much more intelligent” than the average American. White people are more likely to say the same than Hispanic and black people.

So, this many smart people must mean that, on the whole, the United States ranks pretty high in intelligence, right?

Not quite. According to the survey, just 44 percent of Americans say that Americans are “averagely intelligent.” People who make less than $40,000 a year are much more likely to say that their fellow Americans are intelligent, while those who make more than $100,000 are far more likely to say that Americans are unintelligent.

The results are not surprising. Western cultures have a habit of inflating their self-worth, past research has shown. The most competent individuals also tend to underestimate their ability, while incompetent people overestimate it. Not out of arrogance, but of ignorance—the worst performers often don’t get negative feedback. In this survey, 28 percent of high school graduates say they are “slightly more intelligent” than average, while just 1 percent of people with doctoral degrees say they are “much less intelligent.”

The second sentence in the last paragraph is interesting. “Western cultures have a habit of inflating their self-worth, past research has shown.” No actual study is noted, so it’s probably not true. That and how people respond to self-assessment surveys is an area of some debate. The respondent could very well be reacting to the questioner in a culturally biased way. In Japan understatement is a valued social good while in America, boasting is valued. What the respondent actually thinks is unknowable.

The Nuisance Segment

There is a theory called The Smart Fraction Theory. The very short version of it is that every human society has a distribution of IQ’s ranging from retarded to genius. Some populations have a high number of people, relative to human populations as a whole, with above average and better IQ’s. At the other end, some societies have a relatively low number of above average and better IQ’s. The former groups have rocketed ahead while the latter groups have lagged behind.

There’s a lot more to it, a lot more, but that’s a useful shorthand. The point being is the smart fraction exerts upward pressure on society. The larger and more capable that fraction, the better able they are to drag the whole of society upward. If the fraction is too small, you get Zimbabwe or Detroit. The smart fraction, unable to lift the whole of society, sets themselves up as a ruling elite, plundering what they can from society. It is why all the money in the world will not change the character of these societies.

There’s another fraction, one that is at the heart of what ails the West. That’s the nuisance segment. For example, I was at my favorite lunch place the other day. It is a fancy SWPL grocery store with a cafe of sorts. The cafe is mostly a big buffet, but buffets are working class so they splash the word “cafe” all over the place and stock the bar with weird stuff from foreign lands. The most popular food is the typical American stuff, but the sushi and Indian food makes everyone feel better.

Anyway, there’s not a ton of room for people to navigate the serving areas. Inevitably, there will be a few mothers with baby carriages mucking up the works. A few vibrant people will be there with grocery carriages jamming up the walkways. As a result the store has had to rearrange the place a few times to try and get ahead of the nuisance segment. They have been mostly successful, but the cost of these idiots is inevitably spread to the rest of us.

On every product in your house, you will find a warning label. On the shampoo bottle I have in my hand, there are two paragraphs explaining what not to do with it. No one expects the stupid to read these labels, of course. Someone dumb enough to drink shampoo or shove the bottle up their arse is not going to read the warning label. It is just to inoculate the company from the inevitable. The direct cost of litigation is 2% in America. The cost in warning labels is equal that or more. The stupid cost us at least 5% of GDP a year in direct costs.

That’s not the end of it. The regulatory bureaucracy which is the direct result of the nuisance fraction is enormous. So far Obama has added 12,000 pages of regulations to the quarter million or so already on the books. The exact number and nature of Federal crimes has now reached the point where it cannot be counted.  We are perilously close to the point where it is just assumed that everything is a violation of the law. In such a land, there are no laws. The people inevitably respond accordingly.

Reading first millennium history, one thing that jumps out is the high cost of being foolish. This was especially true of the elites. King Peada was murdered by his wife because he foolishly thought his connection with Oswiu, through his marriage to his daughter Alchflaed, would protect him. History of this period is full of examples where small mistakes in judgment resulted in death, often gruesome death. The nitwits pushing a cart through the buffet line never would have made it to adulthood in that era.

Fear of a White Planet

The word “alarm” is supposed to imply concern and even fear. You can be alarmed about a child molester moving into town. You can be alarmed about your kid hanging out with the potheads. One is not typically alarmed about gettting a bonus at Christmastime. Words have meaning and their use says a lot of about what’s on the writer’s mind. No one is alarmed about something they welcome. Alarm is supposed to imply fear and dread of something unwanted.

In this story from National Journal, the headline is, “Tech Pipeline Is Alarmingly White” with a subhead of “No African-Americans, Hispanics or girls took the AP computer science exam in some states, meaning a majority of The Next America has little familiarity with tech.” Presumably, the publication thinks too many white people, however that is defined, is a bad thing. After all, one cannot be alarmed by too much good news. Something must be done!

The pipeline of students who will be tomorrow’s tech leaders is alarmingly vanilla.

According to a new analysis of test-takers, not a single girl, African-American or Hispanic student took the computer science Advanced Placement test in Mississippi or Montana last year. More than a third of the population in Mississippi is black.

In other words, a hugely disproportionate bunch of white guys took the test.

The lack of diversity is disconcerting because computer science is an industry hurting for qualified workers. That’s not to say that a student must take AP computer science to pursue a computer science career, but it’s an indicator of which young people have a degree of familiarity with the field. Tech companies have long lamented that they’ve had to look outside the domestic pool of students to find employees. Encouraging largely untapped demographics—girls, African-Americans and Hispanics—in high school to enter the field would only help.

But that’s not happening, at least successfully, right now.

There are 11 states where not a single African-American took the test, and eight states where no Hispanics sat for the exam.

We’re not talking here about people who passed or didn’t pass, either. We’re talking about people who simply took the test, which means African-Americans, Hispanics and girls aren’t enrolling in AP computer science classes in the first place.

Of the approximately 30,000 students who took the exam in 2013, only around 20 percent were female, according to the analysis, and a tiny 3 percent were African-American. Just 8 percent were Hispanic.

Notice the magically thinking. It is not about passing or failing the AP exam. It is about taking the exam. There’s an assumption that passing the exam is just a matter of joining the process and ticking the right boxes. If you dump more blacks into the AP courses, then they will just pass and become smart STEM people. The possibility that this is not possible is never considered. Of course, biology can’t possibly be the reason.

One reason there are so few students enrolling in the class and taking the test is that AP computer science courses are more common in suburban and private schools, Barbara Ericson, a senior research scientist with Georgia Tech who compiled the data, told the blog Education Week, and those schools tend to be less diverse than urban and public schools.

Another potential reason is that there are so few women, African-American and Hispanic instructors teaching computer science and so few working in the computer science field. Students are more likely to pursue a course of study if they have mentors with similar backgrounds to emulate.

College Board, which oversees the AP tests, has made diversity a priority in recent months, but clearly, there’s still a long way to go. And diversifying the pool of students taking the exam will require more than a push from College Board. Families, schools and community organizations will also play a crucial role in encouraging and guiding more girls and minority students toward computer science.

It is tempting to assume that the people making these claims know they are speaking nonsense, but that’s probably not the case. They really do believe in the blank slate and egalitarianism. The possibility of biology preventing their preferred outcome is just never considered, because that’s not a possibility. It’s like blaming Big Foot of leprechauns fo the problem. As usual, Steve Sailer was all over it and has some handy numbers.

Here are the pass rates (3 out of 5 or higher, equivalent to a C or better in a college 101-level intro course):

All test takers: 67%
Males: 68%
Females: 62%
Blacks: 36%
Black males: 38%
Black females: 27%
Hispanics: 45%
Hispanic Males: 49%
Hispanic Females: 31%
Whites: 66%
White Males: NA
White Females: NA
Asians: 70%
Asian Males: NA
Asian Females: NA

America has spent roughly a trillion dollars since the 1960’s on trying to fix the race gap is income, education, crime and so on. It’s hard to know, as the accounting for some of it is impossible to figure. How does one cost the affirmative action or laws against private discrimination? Still a trillion is a good figure. Yet, the gaps in all of these areas have no changed much. When it comes to education gaps, the data is overwhelming that environment plays no role in the overall outcomes. It’s biology.

That said, one cannot help but think that the real driver of stories like this is not the denial of biological reality. The real issue is a hatred of white people. Whether it is self-loathing or ethnocentric forces that flow under the surface of society, maybe a combination of both, the ruling class culture is shaped by a general hatred of normal white people. That’s why the headline writer is alarmed at the white people in tech.

Why Are Jews Liberal?

If you read Destructive Generation, something that leaps off the page is the fact that Jews are wildly over-represented in radical politics. Just looking at the Weathermen, about half the founding members were Jews. Huey Newton and the Black Panthers were largely brought to life and sustained by Jews in California. Of course, communism in America was very Jewish. You don’t have to be Kevin McDonald to notice that Jews have an outsized influence on American radicalism.

Even accounting for the fact Horowitz may have highlighted the Jews he knew in the movement, it is impossible not to conclude that Jews were way over represented in radical politics.  When one percent of the population is 30% of anything, that’s a clue. It’s not just the number. In Horowitz’s telling, Jews more often than not played the defining role in these radical movements. After all, Barak Obama would still be fixing parking tickets in Chicago without the Jewish radicals.

If you put “why are Jews liberal” into search engine out comes this list of links. When you get 12 million links, it must be an oft-pondered query. It is not as popular as that figure would suggest. Change “liberal’ to “midget” and you get 47 million hits. Make of that what you will, but the fact remains that Jews are over-represented in radical politics and lots of people are curious about it. That’s why it turns up with millions of links when you search the topic. people are curious about it.

Norman Podhoretz wrote about this in 2009. Podhoretz repeats the old line, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” It’s one of those classically Jewish gags that seems to acknowledge the truth, but subtly shifts the focus away from it. One the one hand you have bourgeois people, the Episcopalians, and on the other hand you have Puerto Ricans. No has strong feelings about Puerto Ricans nor are they associated with subversion, espionage and communism.

Jewish Radicalism is one of those things that seems to only get attention from anti-Semites, which is a shame. Jews don’t quite fit into the anti-Semitics bucket, as they will support radicals who are anti-Semites. In other words, the radicalism trumps the tribal loyalty. Obama captured 78% of the Jewish vote, despite being mildly anti-Semitic and hanging out with anti-Semites.

Most American Jews sincerely believe that their liberalism, together with their commitment to the Democratic Party as its main political vehicle, stems from the teachings of Judaism and reflects the heritage of “Jewish values.” But if this theory were valid, the Orthodox would be the most liberal sector of the Jewish community. After all, it is they who are most familiar with the Jewish religious tradition and who shape their lives around its commandments.

Yet the Orthodox enclaves are the only Jewish neighborhoods where Republican candidates get any votes to speak of. Even more telling is that on every single cultural issue, the Orthodox oppose the politically correct liberal positions taken by most other American Jews precisely because these positions conflict with Jewish law. To cite just a few examples: Jewish law permits abortion only to protect the life of the mother; it forbids sex between men; and it prohibits suicide (except when the only alternatives are forced conversion or incest).

The upshot is that in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. Which is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right. And to the dogmas and commandments of this religion they give the kind of steadfast devotion their forefathers gave to the religion of the Hebrew Bible. For many, moving to the right is invested with much the same horror their forefathers felt about conversion to Christianity.

The response to his query and the book that followed was predictable. The NYTimes dragged out an old warhorse to defend the faith, so to speak. First you discredit the man:

Norman Podhoretz loves his people and loves his country, and I salute him for it, since I love the same people and the same country. But this is a dreary book. Its author has a completely axiomatic mind that is quite content to maintain itself in a permanent condition of apocalyptic excitation. His perspective is so settled, so confirmed, that it is a wonder he is not too bored to write.

Then dismiss the argument:

The veracity of everything he believes is so overwhelmingly obvious to him that he no longer troubles to argue for it. Instead there is only bewilderment that others do not see it, too. “Why Are Jews Liberals?” is a document of his bewilderment; and there is a Henry Higgins-­like poignancy to his discovery that his brethren are not more like himself. But the refusal of others to assent to his beliefs is portrayed by Podhoretz not as a principled disagreement that is worthy of respect, but as a human failing. Jews are liberals, he concludes, as a consequence of “willful blindness and denial.” He has a philosophy. They have a psychology.

The long and short of it is we have one person asking the obvious question. Why are Jews liberal? His answer is that liberalism has become the religion of The Tribe. That’s a bit of a tautology, but at least it moves the ball down the field. The alternative theory as seen here, here and in the NYTimes book review is the typical boilerplate we see from the Left every day. “The reason for X is we are the good guys and down in the valley, where the bad people dwell, is Y.”

Podhoretz’s explanation is good for a number of reasons. One is it fits with something we know about liberalism. It is clearly a religion. This political ideology provides the inner measures traditionally considered to be a religious territory, such as ethics, values, symbols, myths and rituals. At the same time, its attachment to the Standard Social Science Model, appeals to those raised in the Talmudic tradition. Instead of divining God’s will from the Torah, liberals divine the will of “science.”

Successful minority groups the world over have one thing in common. That is they attach themselves to the strongest element of the ruling class. Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, is a good example. He is not Mexican. He is Lebanese. He is also tight with the ruling class. He has to be as he controls 90% of the telephone market. If he does not make sure the guys with guns are well compensated, they may decide Carlos needs some competition. In other words, minorities can be useful to the ruling elite.

The trouble with this theory is Jews have been out front in American culture and politics for generations now. The days of Jewish entertainers, for example, passing themselves off as Italians are long gone. Joe Lieberman was a Vice Presidential candidate 15 years ago and probably kept Gore in the race. Lieberman was a very respected political figure and very publicly Jewish. Modern Jews don’t have to cozy up to the elite for protection, as they are the elite and mostly in control of America.

There are a few other things to consider. Catholics, Episcopalians and Baptists have not followed the same path. Catholics used to be a core Democratic constituency, but that was more class and economics than religion. Plus, when they left their old church, they did not join the new faith. Instead they started voting Republican. Protestants certainly swapped the old religion for the new in many cases. Episcopalians, for example, are mostly way out on the far left these days.

Genetics may hold the key. Jews, as known in the West, are not the same Jews as in the Middle East. Most Jews in the West are Ashkenazim, not Sephardim. They have a very different evolutionary arc and they have a different history. It’s not just the issue with you know who. The Jews of central and eastern Europe are different people from the Jews of Italy, Spain and the Middle East. Recent studies suggest Ashkenazim descend from the earliest Europeans.

The majority of Ashkenazi Jews are descended from prehistoric European women, according to study published today (October 8) in Nature Communications. While the Jewish religion began in the Near East, and the Ashkenazi Jews were believed to have origins in the early indigenous tribes of this region, new evidence from mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on exclusively from mother to child, suggests that female ancestors of most modern Ashkenazi Jews converted to Judaism in the north Mediterranean around 2,000 years ago and later in west and central Europe.

The new findings contradict previous assertions that Ashkenazi mitochondrial lineages originated in the Near East, or from mass conversions to Judaism in the Khazar kingdom, an empire in the north Caucasus region between Europe and Asia lasting from the 7th century to the 11th century whose leaders adopted Judaism. “We found that most of the maternal lineages don’t trace to the north Caucasus, which would be a proxy for the Khazarians, or to the Near East, but most of them emanate from Europe,” said coauthor Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in the U.K.

Given the state of religion in Europe 2,000 years ago, it is rather amazing that a group of people would elect to become monotheists, much less Jewish. A religion requiring a relatively high degree of literacy and one that comes with a rational legal code is going to make them even more unusual. It is not too much of a reach to think that Ashkenazim are hard wired to believe and to believe a certain way. Those unique traits and a high degree of endogamy meant those traits were reinforced through mating.

This is, in part, the Kevin McDonald argument. He takes it well beyond this point, arguing that Jews are purpose built to undermine white nations. That’s a bit ridiculous from the perspective of science, but a lot of people believe it. Maybe it does not matter, as Jews are wildly over-represented in radicalism. Why that is so is not all that important. Like blacks voting Democrat, what matters is accepting that Jews are never going to be on the side of bourgeois white people.

Not So Smart Fraction

Raw intelligence is a poor predictor of political success. The HBD people tends to link IQ with everything, even politics, despite the rather obvious fact that many of our politicians are uncommonly stupid. Joe Biden is quite dull. Years of drinking and a few strokes have shaved a dozen points off his IQ. Odds are he would score in the low 20’s on the Wonderlic Test, maybe even high teens. His rather obvious lack of intelligence has not worked against him. He’s going to president one day.

Saying that politicians are dumb is a popular past time, but not all of them are dumb and even the dumb ones can say some smart things. Simply noticing things can be the smartest thing one can do and some of our politicians can notice things. Sarah Palin was hooted down by the Left for her alleged lack of smarts. They mocked here for claiming Russian had designs on parts of the Ukraine.  This story from Breitbart goes into it in light of recent events..

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned that if Senator Barack Obama were elected president, his “indecision” and “moral equivalence” may encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

Palin said then:

After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.

For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine.

In light of recent events in Ukraine and concerns that Russia is getting its troops ready to cross the border into the neighboring nation, nobody seems to be laughing at or dismissing those comments now.

Hounshell wrote then that Palin’s comments were “strange” and “this is an extremely far-fetched scenario.”

“And given how Russia has been able to unsettle Ukraine’s pro-Western government without firing a shot, I don’t see why violence would be necessary to bring Kiev to heel,” Hounshell dismissively wrote.

Palin made her remarks on the stump after Obama’s running mate Joe Biden warned Obama supporters to “gird  your loins” if Obama is elected because international leaders may test or try to take advantage of him.

That’s not to say Palin is very smart. It is a good bet that she is not working math puzzles in her free time. She’s not dumb like Joe Biden. Palin is school teacher smart, while Biden is fork lift driver smart. On the other hand, Biden is politician smart, while Palin is not. One can be left unsupervised while the other may run with scissors if you don’t watch him. You can trust Palin with your kids, while Biden, well, you know.

That’s the thing about politics in a social democracy. it’s not about smarts. Palin could have been the sharpest person in the room, but the Left would still call her dumb, because they need to call her dumb. They would get away with it because she is not good at politics in the way a lunkhead like Joe Biden is good at politics. That’s why democracy is a terrible system. It rewards Joe Biden and punishes Sarah Palin.

Science at the Gate

The 21st century is going to look a lot like the 17th century in that the organizing faith will be under constant assault from new thinking. In 1500, the ruling and intellectual elites of the western world believed in God and accepted the Church. By 1550, the Church was under assault as the Protestant Reformation spread through central Europe. The prevailing orthodoxy was under assault on all sides.

Fifty years later the schism within the Church was challenging the prevailing secular order in Europe. The Thirty Years War was kicked off in 1618 and by the end of the century, the world was an entirely different place. The jostling between the people of Europe was no longer about Christendom. It was about nationalism. More important, Christianity was no longer the organizing faith of western societies.

The Enlightenment swept away the old religion and offered up a range of secular replacements. Various forms of socialism, like Marxism, Fabian socialism and Bolshevism, were more than political or economic movements. They may have started with the material, but they ended with the spiritual. They became civic religions that would attempt to fill the role of the Church. Politics would become the public ceremony for the new religion. This is especially true of liberal democracy.

If you look around, the firm belief in the malleability of man is all around you. Test prep courses and materials promise to improve your scores on IQ tests. Americans are bankrupting themselves in pursuit of education. Billions are spent on health regimes that promise to make fat people thin and ugly people attractive. Behavior modification is so deeply ingrained in our culture we hardly notice it.

Economics, the closest thing we have to witchcraft in America, is entirely based on the belief you can make people do anything with the right incentives. The military is putting women in combat units, despite the obvious physical and psychological problems. Disparity of outcomes between races and the sexes are proof of bad behavior, not natural differences in talent. Mentioning black crime, of course, is as heretical as claiming, in 15th century France, that the Pope was a Jew.

All of this depends on a fundamental denial of science. Jacobinism, the mother culture of every left-wing movement, is a rejection of nature and therefore a rejection of science. Later movements bolted on science here and there as a marketing ploy, but the Left is by its nature, anti-science. It has to be. If you allow that some parts of the human animal are beyond the reach of social planners, you open up the possibility that large parts of humanity cannot be altered by social structure.

If the debate shifts from what should be done to what can be done, then the debate about what ought to be done changes as well. In a world where humans are infinitely malleable, what ought to be done is limitless. In a world where humans are the product of the mating decisions of their ancestors, what ought to be done is bounded by the limits of the human condition. Trying for make college scholars out of low-IQ people with poor impulse control becomes as immoral as torturing the mentally ill.

Science is slowly undermining the claims of these secular religions. On the one hand, we have evolutionary biology, which is telling us immutable truth about humanity. On the other hand, we have genetics, which is making a steady assault on the tenets of Standard Social Science Model. This piece in the Telegraph tells us that science may have found a gene that determines intelligence. We know these genes exist. The question is how many and how much each one influence the general intelligence.

They found that, on average, teenagers carrying a particular gene variant had a thinner cortex in the left cerebral hemisphere, particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes, and performed less well on tests for intellectual ability.

The genetic variation affects the expression of the NPTN gene, which encodes a protein acting at neuronal synapses and therefore affects how brain cells communicate.

Their findings suggest that some differences in intellectual abilities can result from the decreased function of the NPTN gene in particular regions of the left brain hemisphere.

Although the genetic variation identified in this study only accounts for an estimated 0.5 per cent of the total variation in intelligence.

However, the findings may have important implications for the understanding of biological mechanisms underlying several psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, where impaired cognitive ability is a key feature of the disorder.

To sensible people, this may not sound ground breaking, but it is the sort of ripple that knocks over buildings down the line. If IQ is a matter of genetics, IQ tests can no longer be dismissed. Similarly, as behavior is linked to specific proteins, or the lack of them, whole swaths of social science fall into the category of witchcraft. If humans are not infinitely malleable, then 300 years of political theory goes out the window. At some point, there is the Galileo moment, when the old faith no longer has meaning.

Posted in IQ

The Genius Cat Lady

This is one of those sites that is so full of nuttiness it almost feels like satire, but it is completely serious. Obviously, a site calling itself “Brain Pickings” should be brimming with sarcasm, but this one is brimming with unintentional comedy. For starters the blogger describes the site as “a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness.” There is a better than even chance that Maria Popova is going to end up living with 50 cats. It juts has that sort of vibe, based on the first impression.

The “about” section is a bit sad. Anytime you see someone claiming to be in “search for meaning” you just know they are acquainted with the psychiatric industry. Women seem to use that expression a lot and almost always they are single, childless and full of feminist nuttiness. Women with kids and a husband have all the meaning they need. They don’t have blogs where they talk about their feelings and pretend to be free spirits. Perhaps there are exceptions, but that’s the general rule.

Anyway, The post is about someone called Angela Duckworth, who appears to have been given a MacArthur genius grant for telling people things that are mostly false. Her claim to genius status is a new book explaining  how “self-control and grit — the relentless work ethic of sustaining your commitments toward a long-term goal — impact success.”  While that is largely true, you are born with these qualities, or not born with them in the case of people who lack those qualities.

Is there anyone who does not know that successful are blessed with personality traits like determination and a relentless work ethic”? Now, the blank slate people don’t accept that these are innate qualities, for the most part. Instead they think they are the product of environment like good home habits and good schools. There’s money in selling people books about how they can acquire the skills that will make them successful, so it makes sense that people write such books. A genius, however, should know better

Now, Miss Duckworth is not dumb. According to the post, she thought about starting a school to put her theories to the test, but decided the “model did not hold much promise” so she “decided to pursue a PhD program at Penn.” It’s always better to be someone offering novel, untested theories that confirm the deeply held beliefs of the ruling class, than to be the person trying to make those novel ideas work. The former pays better and has little risk, while the latter pays poorly and usually ends in tears.

Another amusing tidbit from the post is this weird way of avoiding the obvious. “She found that the students’ self-discipline scores were far better predictors of their academic performance than their IQ scores.” This is certainly true, but the correlation between IQ and impulse control is high. There’s a very good chance that the kids with poor self-control also happened to be black. They were probably from poor families. It’s hardly a revelation that poor impulse control, low-IQ and poverty are features of black communities.

This is the trouble people often have when thinking about this stuff. The the traits associated with high achieving people tend to be clustered together. That is, there are few high-IQ people with poor impulse control and high time preference. On the other hand, there are people with self-control, but a low-IQ. Intelligence is still the main factor in life outcomes, but self-control can either mitigate or amplify it. A dumb guy with self-control is going further than a average guy who can’t control himself.

A better way of stating it maybe is to think these various traits as forces pushing in either direction on a person. Some push harder, because they have greater value in current society. Intelligence means a lot today, but not as much in the tenth century, at least with regards to life outcomes. The mafia used to say you get further with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. Today you get further determination and high-IQ than just determination. That’s strangely difficult for modern people to accept.

Religion & IQ

For as long as I have been alive, the Left has been trying to “prove” they are the smartest kids in the room. One tactic is to attack religion and by extension the religious, who they naturally see as their enemy. This makes some sense, given that Progressivism is nothing but a poorly defined civic religion. Stuff like this is the sort of thing they like to wave around to prove they are super-smart.  I’ll assume the authors of this study are making a good faith effort, but 30-plus years of this act naturally makes me skeptical.

I’m not a particularly religious person so I don’t have a dog in the fight. I just think the Left’s war on Christianity is a lot like what we see in the Arab world. Islam, like all living religions, is intolerant of other religions. After all, if you are sure your faith is correct and others are in error, or worse, an offense to god, then how can you in good conscience tolerate these false religions? The answer is obvious, which is why all religions, with the exception of race-based faiths, always try to dominate other religions through proselytizing or worse.

Of course, Muslims really hate Jews, because Jews put a lot of effort into pitting one Muslim against another, as part of Israel’s survival strategy. American have been taught that Muslims hate Jews because Hitler, but that’s nonsense. Muslims don’t hate Jews on religious grounds or even geopolitical grounds. That’s part of it, but the real issue is that faithful Muslims believe in unity of the faithful. Therefore, they look at Israel’s geopolitical shenanigans as a war on Islam itself. For Muslims, hating Jews is self-defense.

Now, in the case of this study, assuming it is a serious effort at examining the issue, is they start with the assumption religion is strictly about the super natural. Even more specifically, they narrow religion to Christianity. It leaves out secular religions like Marxism and anti-religions like atheism. Both are mass movements that hold the same appeal for adherents. They trade their identity for that of the group. My bet is if we broadened the scope of religion to include secular faiths, the difference in IQ would be trivial.

I’m fond of pointing out that even the most brilliant people subscribe to magical thinking and superstition. Blaise Pascal, the father of probability, computer science and statistics was a heretical Catholic fanatic. Many of the men who worked on the Manhattan Project were religious Jews, as well as Marxists. J. B. S. Haldane was a communist, were many intellectuals of his day. Belief in the worker’s paradise is every bit as wacky as anything the Bible believing Christians can muster. Belief is not just about religion.

That said, Jason Richwine is probably right. Higher IQ could lead to greater skepticism and therefore lower religiosity. The reason is high intelligence often has a strange humbling effect. Once you get outside the normal range, the genuinely gifted can see the limits of human intelligence more clearly, as they tend to be in frustrating fields like math and science. That’s inevitably going to result a great deal of skepticism about everything, not just religion. IQ and skepticism are probably co-dependent cognitive traits.

A caveat to that would be people with an exceptional verbal IQ and average quantitative reasoning. That would explain the high number of Jewish communists, for example. A people bred for solving complex word games as a part of their status system are probably inclined to accept magic as within the domain of possible answers. People with high spatial, could also be an exception. In other words, the empirically minded will probably be the most skeptically minded, and therefore the least religions, with some exceptions.

None of this really matters much. Most people are not so smart as to fall beyond the line between belief and skepticism. That’s certainly true for the hooting fanatics of the Progressive cult, who fall for every nutty fad that springs from egalitarianism and the blank slate. it much more reasonable to believe a Jewish hippy was the son of God, than to think better pre-school is going to solve black crime. The Left still think you can talk people out of mental illness. To be on the Left means the total suspension of disbelief.