Cornpone Nonsense

A long time ago, I decided I would just ignore the intelligent design people. I’m perfectly fine leaving them to their beliefs, as I don’t think it causes any harm for people to believe in a supernatural designer. In fact, I feel the same way about creationists. There’s no harm in it and if it brings people some peace and comfort, that seems like a good thing. The reason I will not debate evolution with them, however, is that intelligent design people rarely argue in good faith. They engage in sophistry and logical fallacies, rather than honest debate.

ID’ers will often misrepresent some bit of science, in order to discredit it, and by extension, everything they claim rests upon it. The thermodynamics and entropy argument that was popular with them for a while was a grossly inaccurate interpretation of the science and a faulty application of it. order cannot arise from disorder.By the time you corrected them, they were onto some other half-baked claim. It is simply a waste of time debating them as they just keep moving the goal posts, demanding you prove them wrong.

Anyway, this steaming pile of nonsense from Fred Reed the other day reminds me a lot of the way ID’ers attack evolution. If I recall, Reed is a flat earth guy, so it is probably a habit of mind that puts ID’er and IQ denialists in the same pew.

Apologies to the reader. Perhaps I wax tedious. But the question of intelligence is both interesting to me and great fun as talking about it puts commenters in an uproar. It is like poking a wasp’s nest when you are eleven. I am a bad person.

This Gomer Pyle routine has always been a part of his act. It’s a form of intellectual base stealing where the writer gets to declare the subject, upon which he intends to opine, is easily reduced to folk wisdom. The author is the folksiest of folk wizards, so that means he can be an expert on the countrified version of the topic. He also likes playing the Jon Stewart game of wearing the serious mask when criticizing others, but then donning the clown mask when receiving criticism. In Reed’s case, it is “Ah shucks fellers, I’m just a simple country boy. Why are you sore with me?”

Clearing the underbrush: Obviously intelligence is largely genetic–if it were cultural in origin, all the little boys who grew up in Isaac Newton’s neighborhood would have been towering mathematical geniuses–and obviously the various tests of intellectual function have, at least among testees of similar background, considerable relation to intelligence.

This is a good example of what ID’ers like doing when attacking evolution. It is the false concession. He appears to be conceding that iQ is not cultural, but in reality he is saying it is not magic.  What Reed is describing, with regards to Newton, is not culture. It is magic. Culture is the highly complex feedback loop that evolved over time among a group of people with a shared heritage and biology. Mere proximity does not mean culture. That’s just a version of Magic Dirt Theory. No one would call that culture.

Some individuals have more of it than others. For example, Hillary, a National Merit Finalist, scored higher than 99.5 percent of Illinois and can reliably be suspected of being bright. Some groups are obviously smarter than other groups. Mensans and Nobelists are smarter than sociologists. Of course, so are acorns.

But knowing that a thing exists and measuring it are not the same thing.

Notice the Hillary gag. He knows his readers are not Hillary voters so he attempts to discredit the idea of intelligence, by pointing out that, according to standardized testing, Clinton is intelligent. “How ’bout that fellers? These pin-headed IQ people are so dumb they they think that fat commie Hillary Clinton is smart! Shazam!” It is a way to get the reader to accept a point that the writer was never able, or never bothered, to prove. It’s basically guilt by association.

Notice also the subtle confusion of the idea of shared group traits. When people in the cognitive sciences talk about shared traits, they mean biological groups, not social groups or arbitrary categories like Nobel Prize winners. The implication of what Reed is claiming here is that sub-Saharan Africans, for example, are just a random a collection of people like the local PTA or Rotary Club. That’s absurd. They are people with a shared biological heritage and as a result, a shared sent of traits that evolved in Africa.

This fits in well with the last line where he claims you can know something exists, without measuring it. This is complete nonsense. We cannot know something exists without having some evidence of it. Seeing a a mysterious animal may not tell us much, but it is data of an animal. How accurately we can measure a thing like IQ or height or weight is the question, not whether we can measure it. Of course, what he is trying to slip in here is the assertion that just because something can be measured does not mean it exists.

Virtuosity in taking tests is similarly affected by experience in taking tests. Like most in my generation, I was subjected to unending tests: an IQ test in the second grade when my teacher thought me retarded (as many readers still do). Some sort of Virginia test. PSATs. NMSQT. SATs. GREs. Marine Corps General Qualification Test. FSEE. And so on.

As I suppose others did, I learned the technique for acing tests. Run through all the questions rapidly, picking the low-hanging fruit, putting a tick mark by those questions not instantly obvious. Run through again, answering those of the tick-markeds susceptible to a minute’s thought, double tick-marking the really difficult ones. Then to the really hard ones and finally, with an eye on the clock and knowing how the tests are scored, eliminate one or two answers on the remaining ones and guess.

This is a bit of folk nonsense popular with people who have no idea how intelligence testing is constructed. Test designers have understood for generations that guys like Fred Reed will try to game the test. People who have done a lot of test administration learn that people in the high normal range really worry that they are just in the normal range, rather than some level of genius. Therefore, they will be the ones who are the least honest in test taking. That’s why the tests are designed to mitigate this observed phenomenon.

The most common way of defeating the scheme Fred thinks is effective is to make the exams progressively more difficult. Therefore, running through and answering the easy ones just means you get frustrated quickly as you find fewer and fewer cherries to pick from the exam. Some tests are designed such that non-consecutive answers will be discarded. These days, test takers will use a computer and not have the ability to skip ahead looking for easy questions, even if they think it will work.

Among the lumpen-IQatry, the tendency is to regard SATs, NAEP, and so on as surrogates for IQ, and thus for intelligence. This is error. The SATs in particular are not intelligence tests and were never intended to be. Their function was to measure the student’s ability to handle complex ideas in complex normal English, which is what college students used to do. The tests did did this well. The were not intelligence tests as their scores were functions of at least three things, intelligence, background, and experience in taking tests. IQ = f(a,b,c…)

This is a what is called a lie. Yes, some standardized tests correlate with IQ tests in narrow areas, but exactly no one in the cognitive sciences thinks the SAT is a surrogate for an intelligence test. As for the claim regarding cultural bias, that’s always been nonsense, as anyone who has taken the Raven’s Progressive Matrices would know. When researchers look at IQ among groups, they specifically use these sorts of exams. Here’s a short presentation on IQ testing in Africa for those interested.

Like those ID’ers I referenced at the start of this post, Fred has the habit of assuming that his position must be right if the alternative is not proved beyond all doubt. If evolutionary biology has not answered all of his questions to his satisfaction, then it must all be wrong and his brand of oogily-boogily is correct. Similarly, because there are lots of things we don’t know about IQ, he feels free to dismiss all of it, even the stuff that is correct.

What’s objectionable about Fred Reed is not the sugar-coated goober routine that he lays on so thick it gives you cavities. That’s tolerable if it is sincere. When he gets into these topics, there is a distinct lack of authenticity. There’s a meanness to his approach, as if he is bitter at not being able to keep up with the crowd, so he invests his time in trying to prove there’s no reason to bother. Regardless of the motivations, his brand of cornpone nonsense is exactly that, nonsense.

84 thoughts on “Cornpone Nonsense

  1. Its none of my business if the Z man insists he must share common ancestry with Obama’s nut sac bacteria, and it’s none of his business if I think him a brainwashed gullible fool for believing it. It is the business of science, however, to first prove it is biologically possible in the first place for the progeny of bacteria to be anything other than bacteria, which any honest person would have to admit there is ZERO evidence for same. Nada. Zilch. Therefore, the logical evidentiary foundation for the entire case of common ancestry with all life, i.e. evolution, is sand. But don’t let that stop the Darwinian Cult followers from insisting they see circumstantial evidence of common ancestry with all life everywhere they look; whether same is biologically possible in the first place just isn’t important to cult followers. That’s why the Darwinian Cult Followers are some of the biggest hypocrites around. “The unexamined life is not worth living”, except to the Darwinian Cult Follower.

  2. to know that their is something to smell, you have to know before hand it exists, design it. to see, the eye u need to know there is something to see, design it etc Creater no excuses

  3. “If I recall, Reed is a flat earth guy, so it is probably a habit of mind that puts ID’er and IQ denialists in the same pew.”

    I’m glad you used the word “pew.” Fred is a Presbyterian, and at a certain level, they are antagonistic to evolutionary biology. It does not match up with their teachings. If you try to explain to them that throwing money and medicine at primitive people will only increase the population of primitive people, well…you see the problem.

  4. Looks to me like you have strong pre-conceptions about Fred’s views and you are projecting them onto his words. I think some of the things you objected to are not actually in the piece.

    Fred isn’t a flat earther nor even an IDer. He has some strong criticisms of writing on evolution, but more from a “there’s still more we don’t know yet” than an “its all wrong” point of view.

    Fred’s primary point here appears to be that common estimates of country’s IQs look a bit low. He only mentions evolution in a facetious way (I don’t think he seriously proposes that IQs evolved down).

    This isn’t high science, but I don’t think its a conspiracy either.

    • The problem that guys like Fred and Chanda Chisala have, is that their position is basically that Mestizos and Africans are just as smart as whites and Asians, and there is really nothing to support that position, except for obviously cherry-picked examples, such as the accomplishments of the Maya, and Scrabble play. I mean, if Africans were just as smart as whites on average, there would be at least one African country that would be doing as well with regard to social well-being, income, and stability as the worst country in Europe. Not all, but at least one. There isn’t. If Mestizos were on the whole as smart as Americans or Canadians, there would be at least one Latin American country doing about as well as these countries, maybe not all, but at least one. There isn’t. If these groups had vast reserves of hidden intelligence, they would have much higher PISA scores, much higher economic growth, much lower crime rates, much higher production of Nobellists and Chess Grand Masters, composers and artists, than expected. They don’t. Outside of a few isolated outliers, there is simply no reason to think that what Reed or Chisala thinks is true.

      If the Old Empire Maya (who could not work metal and did not use the wheel, by the way) had a really complex calendar and invented the concept of zero, that just proves that the Maya, like every other society, had a few highly intelligent people who applied that intelligence to what was important to their society. If Gabonians (or Gabonese, or whatever they are properly to be called) have more scrabble champs than one would expect, that proves that the smart people in Gabon, for whatever reason, like scrabble. One always has to ask oneself “If this hypothesis (in this case, equality of intelligence between long geographically separated groups) were true, what else would be true?” In the case of Mestizos and Africans, almost none of these things that would indicate this are true.

      Hey, Fred, I like Mexican girls too!

    • Was the flat earther comment just sarcasm to denigrate Fred’s wandering off the approved conservative reservation?

      I have read a few of his arguments on evolution and he never brings in religion or intelligent design. He just questions current orthodoxy and how nothing is settled. Many of my books that I have are against current evolution theory and written by atheists.

      He is intelligent and also grating at times but always worth reading. Plenty of comments on his pieces at Unz. He even enters the fray from time to time.

      • Really? Didn’t know that there were comments on his articles. I’ll have to check that out at Unz. Thanks for the tip.

    • Looking through the comments, I gave an up vote to everyone who defended Fred Reed. Nekkid in Austin was a great read, I’m thinking the Zman may be deficient in his sense of humor?

  5. Maybe you guys have heard the joke about evolution being like shaking a million pieces of a Boeing 747 together for billions of years before, amazingly, one day, winding up with a fully functional flying machine!

    Well, in looking up that analogy, I came across an interesting site called “Answers in Genesis” and an article entitled “Three Puzzles Evolution Can’t Solve.”

    If you can keep your minds open even if you don’t like ID or creationism, maybe this will give you food for thought:
    * Life from Non-life
    * Information of Life
    * Irreducible Complexity

    Good detail that provides much more depth than my generalization about the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

  6. I admit that I enjoy Fred Reed because he writes well and I find his brand of curmodgeon amusing, in part because you don’t need to ascribe to his cantankerous opinions to be entertained by them.

    And it’s true that IQ test-bashing is a hobbyhorse of Fred’s which he he likes to take out and ride around every so often because he knows that it will rile people up. His take is always a variation on how his immediate observable reality of life in Mexico doesn’t jibe with what the IQ testers say it should be: “Look,” he says, “I live in Mexico and many many Mexicans I deal with are smart, competent and hardworking and I find them preferable to their US counterparts, for the most part – but IQ tests say that these people are stupid and genetically inferior, and that just isn’t true.”

    Which is bully for Fred, and no doubt true in a limited way: IQ testing never claimed either that all Mexicans are stupid or that there may be other human qualities at least as desirable as measurable intelligence. But Fred always mistakes the half loaf for the whole: while it is undoubtedly true that some peoples, like the Chinese, invest a good deal more prestige and social currency in doing well on tests than say, African American, the IQ gap between these populations would not disappear even if the coolness factor of cramming for the SAT suddenly replaced wearing the latest sneakers for thousands of little Trayvons. Both Mexico and the hood remain dysfunctional places in large part not because of prejudice or a history of oppression, but because cognitive limitations result in bad decision making on the part of the people that reside there.

  7. Here’s a big picture angle.

    Perhaps our country’s greatest 20th Century accomplishment was the enormous buildup of our armed forces in World War Two. We went from a few hundred thousand to ten million plus and it was done very quickly.

    It was also done efficiently. We did not form unorganized mobs we formed a huge functioning army and a large navy.

    Could it have been done without massive use of psychological testing, including the AGCT and other quasi-IQ tests?

    I don’t think so.

    Entering the Army in the early 1950s I and my fellow recruits were subjected to hours of tests. One even involved a test for aptitude for interpreting sounds and I recall one of the guys was sent to Signal Corps for training. The IQ equivalents were used to decide who could go to OCS and who couldn’t

  8. I like Fred and find him entertaining on certain subjects. On some subjects like ID, I just ignore him though.

    He’s spot on, in regards to blacks, education and American women, the military. Other stuff he’s iffy or yanking readers chains to get a rise out of them.

    But it doesn’t mean he should be condemned. Heck I think half the stuff Sailer writes about is nothing but click bait and his posters say more interesting things than him most of the time. And that guy is supposedly one of the doyens of the alt-right movement.

  9. (Jeopardy) Alex, I’ll take ID for $600.

    I am one of those who prefers the Biblically linked idea of Intelligent Design to the unpredictable and thoroughly inexplicable “evolution” of the various life forms, minerals and plants on this earth. That some can believe these things just “happened” when so many wonderfully diverse creations exist and abound around the world is puzzling to me. If one only looks at the human body, all it’s specialized components, organs, processes for replacing itself, for the cycle of growth to death, much less the spirit, mind, ego, side of things, the mental capabilities of creation, being able to communicate, learn, make and destroy, well, I think we have only scratched the surface of what we know about the subjects from either direction. And that is only talking about the human body, of earth’s life forms, of the earth itself, while not even yet thinking of the outer world around us … out there!

    The cornerstone for this belief, besides the Bible on the religion side, is the science part which is the part of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. How all these things could happen, by accident, with no intelligent intervention, and result in such an amazing amalgamation of beauty and life, when the Law says that all things tend towards chaos and deterioration, which flies in the face of said Law. That is where I hang my hat and say, nope, evolution is an idea, one of many possible ideas, but I don’t believe what we have today is the result of simple evolution. OTOH, maybe ID is not the end all or complete answer either. But to me, it is the best one going.

  10. Finally a topic I have some personal experience with. Back in college I took a test that indicated that I had an IQ above 200. Having been told I was an imbecile by my father my whole life, i was pretty happy about that. My professor got me involved in a whole ton of additional testing.

    These tests were quite varied and it turned out that my little talent was shape analogies. I took a tremendous number of shape analogy tests. No words, just shapes. No language, no math, just shapes. In the end, there was no particular number that they could assign to my IQ but I never scored below 180 even once when I had not slept for 8 consecutive days.

    I am not particularly successful, and neither are my siblings, who are equally “intelligent”. We have spent our lives trying to cling to our sanity, and quiet the many threads of thought in our heads that go on day and night simultaneously. Although I have theories of everything, I have proof of nothing. However, to anyone who is in a family like mine, it is grossly obvious that our “gift” is genetic. Not social, educational, cultural, or racial. When you look at our children you see the same thing. While many factors impact learning, the basic, fundamental capacity and mental ability was born with me, not learned or taught.

    Also, Z – that line about gravity made me laugh half my salad onto my laptop.

  11. I don’t know what it says about me that I’ve never thought to take tests in the manner that Fred describes.
    I also don’t know what it says about me that I find the whole ID/creation discussion mostly just boring and I don’t care what people think about it, one way or another.
    I’ve never been a regular Fred reader, but I have ran across pieces by him, from time to time. I can’t say I have much of an opinion on the body of his content, as I’m not that knowledgeable.
    I can say though, as a true Deep Southerner with old school rural roots, that hokey, corny business is actually thoroughly repellent and not the least bit charming to me.
    Whatever. If people like it, and him, that’s all it takes.
    Personally, I thought the man had died yrs ago.
    Guess I was wrong.

  12. Once upon a time, our ancient ancestors lived in world of extreme hardship and existential threat. And one very helpful byproduct of this environment was that it tended to eliminate the stupid from the gene pool. High intelligence improves our species because it aids in our ability to survive and thrive; particularly in highly variable environments such as found in the upper latitudes.

    The Fred Reed described in this post is using his intelligence to deceive others. This is what predators do to survive.

    • If extreme hardship raised the common intelligence then Africans would be scholars and Eskimos physicist. Likewise Erectus did pretty well over two continents for several hundred thousand years carrying around an 800 cc brain. Why primitive man of any race would develop the capacity for calculus remains a mystery. Best bet is it had something to do with getting the best babe, or more likely visa-versa. Maybe the meek didn’t inherit the earth but actually made it.

      • I don’t mean to be rude, but neither Eskimos nor Africans experience highly variable environments. You lose 10 IQ points.

        • Having reached 70, I have in fact lost ten points. But the fact is that “highly variable” is your term, and my response was to “extreme hardship”. Let me know if you need help with your reading comprehension, even if you are still talking out of your ass.

  13. 1. Yes, Fred’s shtick is aw-shucks with hand waving. I have a limited appetite for this and thereby have limited my consumption of Fred’s writing over the years. Most writers develop a style or voice after a while and they run with it.

    2. The source of Fred’s Mexi-philia and his antipathy toward arguments and metrics that show hispanics in a bad light is easy enough to suss out. Same as Tom Kratman’s WRT civic vs ethno-nationalism.

    3. From my perspective, IQ is such a useful predictor with such high correlation to so many other metrics that if it didn’t exist, it would behoove us to (re)invent it.

    4. The Intelligent Design crowd are not my cup of tea, but they serve a useful purpose in poking the Darwinians until the Darwinians react by doing a bit more actual science, as opposed to pseudo-scientific activism and status-signaling. You’d think the Darwinians would jump on such gaps in their theory toot sweet given their sworn fealty to science, but not so much. Darwinians are humans, despite their sometimes robo-spergy outward appearance, and humans are hewn from crooked timber. IDer’s thus serve a useful purpose in the progress of science.

    5. Zman’s link to “There’s plenty of time for evolution” ( ) is an example of the phenomenon. In sum, “the numbers of necessary mutations are thereby reduced to about K log L, rather than K^L, where L is the length of the genomic “word,” and K is the number of possible “letters” that can occupy any position in the word.” Read the whole thing; it is short and easy to follow.

    6. IME, the linked paper’s model (K log L) is helpful, though not much better than the IDer’s model (K^L). The IDer model is worst-case, with zero assumptions that might weigh in favor of evolution requiring fewer total mutations and thus less time. OTOH, the Darwinian paper (on the way to K log L) makes several assumptions, all of which favor a shorter time required. Any of those assumptions turn up invalid and K log L is invalid. Not to mention, reality outside the mathematics may easily render K log L hopelessly optimistic.

    6. Instead of proving the IDers wrong, the paper susses out a mathematical lower bound (K log L) to complement the IDer upper bound (K^L). Assuming, of course, no significant events outside the mathematical model (applies to both models).

    7. Quite an assumption, that. The sort of assumption you’d expect to see an economist, sociologist, psychologist, or suchlike make. And when have we ever seen an economic mathematical model to be far off the mark? So, I am sure we can take it on faith that no Eddie Haskell Event or unaccounted for factor renders K log L hors de combat.

    8. Reading #6 & #7, you might get the impression I am not as convinced as the paper’s authors or Zman that they have dispelled the problem of time WRT the theory of evolution via natural selection. You’d be right. My training makes me from Missouri, despite being born elsewhere. Show me the data & evidence. Models are nice, but a model’s validity lies in its predictive power vis a vis reality. Like I wrote, K log L looks & smells like a lower bound. It is progress, though, and was a fun read.

      • Well, it’s certainly making those whose ancestors were shorter and stupider taller and smarter. It all depends on who “us” is…

        • Oh, no, no, no, the article posits it is making us taller and smarter all around. An injection of new blood to revitalize the race, as it were. As much as you guys complain about American women, I expected to see more support for a brother who intermarried into an outgroup where the women are muy mujer

          • To be honest, I can actually sympathize with ol’ Fred. Feminism poisoned the minds of the better part of two generations of American women, and there are plenty of smart, hot Mexican chicks that any American guy might be tempted to marry (although they tend not to age particularly well, in my experience). But that’s really no excuse. I suppose that we can at least be grateful that Fred isn’t banging a sheep, so that we are spared his editorializing concerning Ovine Equality.

    • I was waiting, so sure that in no. 7 you were going to mention the modeling of climate change/global warming “scientists” of consensus-ville. Nothing like being able to tweak a model to get just the results you were looking for.

      • Climate scientist-activists are implied by the term “suchlike.” I have a whole list of serious problems with how the climate changers go about their work, but there is only so much time in the day…

  14. Pretty much agree that Fred is …difficult… at times to read. Other times though, he’s quite on-the-mark. Like this recent column:

    “Why should the least productive, most criminal, most dependent of the population rewrite history that in any event they don’t know? The erasure of the South and the Confederacy by people most of whom couldn’t spell it, of Washington and Jefferson and Lee by grifters, race hustlers, wanton illiterates and the Brownshirts of Black Lives Matter…enough.”

  15. That moment when someone you enjoy reading displays the very hard limits of their knowledge and then revels in it…

    (And a. I’m not talking about Fred Reed, who is as ersatz a commentator as they come and b. I’m not a believer in any god or gods.)

  16. I have no deep opinions on any of this, but do recall that the GMAT had an adaptive algorithm which made the questions harder if you got them right, and easier if you got them wrong. After about the first 10 questions, you final rough score was determined, and the remaining questions fine tuned your score like the old tuning dials in your pre-digital car radio. If you were to miss the very first question, you were kind of toast, because the decision tree branches would not let you recover to a top score.

    I knew I was doing well on it as the questions grew progressively harder. Then, towards the very end, I got a ridiculously easy question and knew I had erred on the prior one (you can’t go back, and obviously can’t skip ahead). But I was good. Got my 690 and 6/6 on the writing (I wrote a pro-Bush essay on media bias and manipulation)…though for sure I’d get a feminist poly-sci professor and 1/6 on it…but hope prevailed. That was far above the results I needed since I had no desire for an ivy MBA.

    IQ tests are a very specific thing. College boards and other entrance exams are not IQ tests. But I do think that they ARE general tests of intelligence…general knowledge, reading ability, writing ability, mathematical skills…and problem solving. If you are proficient in those things, most people would think you’re pretty smart. That does not mean wise nor successful any more than IQ, but it does tell the person reading the scores a great deal about whether you can keep up in school.

    This fall, thousands of valedictorians will head off to college only to find that their diploma and test scores account for very little when they arrive. There’s no IQ score for hard workers, but maybe there should be.

  17. I’ve read some of Fred Reed’s stuff on Unz, American Thinker, and American Renaissance, sites that contain much which leans neocon. Yes, he tries to come across as a folksy, “Hey, we’re just sitting’ by the cracker barrel jawin'” kind of guy. That’s his shtick. He writes for a living and comes up with enough copy to keep his señora in guacamole. He is popular, with his audience. I’ve read some of his stuff that he’s written that I just shake my head at. But, he is not an intellectual writer. He writes for the ‘booboisie’ as Mencken would say. He is a race traitor so I take everything he says with a salt lick. But, this seems to be a bit of professional jealousy, Zman. Just remember, writers all have opinions, you included. And opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and everyone thinks the other person’s stinks. I think you are like the pool great, Willie Mosconi evaluating Minnesota Fats. Sure, he’s not on the same level and he’s a sleazy hustler, but he played 9 ball pretty well and made a living. I’m not of the Vito Corleone school of thought. “Makes no difference what a man does for a living” because it does. But, the right has a tendency to eat its own over petty BS.

      • Occasionally, they will repost a thread from various authors that are “socially acceptable”, if you know what I mean. Not all of them, mind you, but some.

  18. Fred is the king when it comes to ripping apart the mainstream media or explaining how the USA of yesteryear was vastly superior – before the One True Religion took it over. He’s also good on destroying feminism. When he wanders off on these topics… not so much.

    • Yeah, Fred’s best stuff is his pre-1968 nostalgia stuff, which, being in the same general age bracket, I can attest to as being fairly accurate, if a bit schmaltzy. But the guy is an entertainer, not any kind of a serious intellectual (although he is certainly smart enough, when he drops the Andy Griffith act).

  19. IQ tests are crude and imperfect measures of intelligence, but their predictive validity isn’t in dispute. The US military uses the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which is a pretty good proxy for IQ, and typically doesn’t take recruits with IQs below ~91. Below that level, you simply can’t train soldiers well. I wonder how Mr. Reed’s fellow grunts would feel if he started arguing that this whole AFQT thing is nonsense and it’s bullshit to think that a soldier with an IQ of 80 is just as good as anyone else on the battlefield.

    • It seems to be that a mean IQ of 93-95 is required to maintain a modern technological society. It’s why the US military had to get serious about IQ again after the Vietnam War. A technological society is going to need a technological army and that means soldiers with an IQ to work in such an army. You still need guys willing to engage and kill the enemy in close quarters, but you also need guys who can operate modern weaponry and communications equipment.

    • Yes, Fred’s biggest problem is his utter inconsistency, and has been throughout his long career. I’ve been reading Fred, off and on, since his “Soldier of Fortune” days forty years ago, and he’s always been like this. Contrarianism is all for the guy. For example, back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s Fred was gung-ho on the Vietnam War. According to him back then, Vietnam was a noble cause, and the traitors who lost it for us in Washington deserved hanging, at best. But come Reagan, and our victory in the Cold War, not just Vietnam, but the whole Cold War, became one huge misunderstanding, foisted on us by the Military-Industrial Complex. Ditto the wars of the early 2000’s. Just after 9/11, Fred was writing that we needed to kick ass in Afghanistan, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons (!), and that American soldiers of this generation were a bunch of soft, suburban pussies who could never beat the tough, determined Taliban. But when the U.S. and its allies started doing well in Afghanistan and Iraq, suddenly American soldiers and their officers were atrocity-crazed killbots. His reaction to Abu Ghraib was particularly over the top. By the way, if you doubt this, I’d invite a perusal of Fred’s archives. To his credit, its all still there.

      This is also true on the whole IQ issue. Fred dislikes Blacks, due to his grim experience as a police reporter, and has no trouble believing that their lower intelligence may be due to genetics. But Hispanics? On the issue of their intelligence, Fred accepts evidence that he would laugh to scorn, were it put forward with regard to blacks, for, as pointed out above, obvious reasons. Does anyone have any doubt that Fred, had he married a Southeast Asian, and was an expat living in Thailand or the Philippines, would easily accept evidence that he now rejects with regard to Hispanics?

      So Fred’s basic positions seem to be; being against whatever the US Government (especially its military) happens to be doing at any given time, accepting science, except when it contradicts something that he deeply wants to believe, and allowing his putz to utterly rule his head. Which means he’s pretty much like the rest of us, only much more so, and much less shameless about it.

      • If you subject yourself to feedback, comments in the case of a blog, your less reasonable srguments get shot down. Thinking or blogging in a mental cocoon is not conducive to good thinking.

    • Having been a military personnel officer for a brief time during and then following the late unpleasantness in SE Asia in the ’70’s, I can tell you that the military is only as picky as it can get away with. War’s over; Standards up. O sh*t, we can’t fill our recruiting quota’s now that the draft’s gone; Dial standards down a bit, etc.

      So I confidently predict that _when_ the next mass casualty land war kicks off, grunts with > 80 IQ will suddenly be just as good as anyone else, just not being put in charge of anything important (we all hope).

      Slightly OT, the military used to test for vocational aptitude as well as basic intelligence in order to better match a recruit to tech school. It was called the ASVAB (armed services vocational aptitude battery) IIIRC. For the mechanical and spatial orientation aptitude sections It used methods very much like the Raven tests linked to: Pictures requiring selection of the next state following a defined operation.

      It was about lowering overall training costs by reducing tech school failure rates and NOT about any recruit’s social adjustment or them following their passion. After the draft ended a prospective recruit to pick their favored tech school provided the met minimum ASVAB standards and there were openings. But if they failed tech school they got sent where-ever needed at the moment – should have been a strong motivation but too often it wasn’t enough.

      • The military still uses the ASVAB. I don’t know if it’s given to everyone, but my brother took it after maxing out his AFQT and ended up working as a linguist. I was genuinely surprised that the kid was smart enough to pick up Chinese as well as he did.

        I’m sure you’re right about the potential for military to relax its standards if we were to enter a new mass casualty war and I think it would be pretty ugly:

        • Horace;
          If it’s not too late to reply; I can confirm what’s said in the book blurb about low IQ, not to mention criminals, being brought into the ground forces in large numbers during Vietnam. While not in the ground forces, I had plenty of day-to-day contact with them during that time.

          As mentioned, this policy was a deliberate, political act to spare the spawn of the middle and upper class GGen (such as myself). It was consciously and callously done to keep down political opposition to The Great Society spending that LBJ urgently desired to ramp up. Wasn’t how it worked in WWII or Korea. For the future, who knows_? One might hope for a class-balanced approach.

          This policy also played no small role in the unrest of ’68 – ’68: Blacks and Working Class Whites (justifiably) felt that they were being used as cannon fodder. And many college Boomers (myself included) felt/knew that they were part of a corrupt system: Took the out but (rightly) felt dirty. Some of us went anyway (not making us heroes just for doing it).

          The most diabolical aspect of the whole business was that quite a number of marginal IQ officers and NCO’s were brought in as a consequence of this policy. But yet they were often marginal performers: Potentially dangerous, as the blurb implies. They wanted to stay because it was a better gig than they could hope for on the outside. But yet they were necessarily RIF’ed out just as soon as the war was ramped down at the end of ’72. I knew a number of sad individuals like that. You could both sympathize yet see the cruel necessity.

  20. What would be interesting, though never done, would be to ask IQ test takers who have supplied the “wrong” answer to explain why they chose the answer they chose (specifically, to those questions involving only visual questions).

    I will surmise that most of them can supply a perfectly rational reason for their choice, and further, one most likely would find that the explanations would differ as a function of one’s culture and background.

    What would be the results of an IQ test devised by, say, Africans? or Apaches ? or the Inuits? or Chinese?

    I do not doubt the veracity of the IQ test results shown in the video, but it is also clear that half the population of Africa is NOT borderline retarded (as indicated by the IQ test results.).
    So there seems to be something here that has not been identified.
    Perhaps not all cultures think alike; (e.g., Norwegians vs Greeks).

    As for intelligent design, you either believe it or not – its purely a belief system – but the Big Bang Theory (BBT) is a tough one to swallow.

    A quantum expansion of particles spontaneously occurred (or is it a spontaneous expansion of quantum particles?) – of only energy mind you, no mass, and poof, we have our universe consisting of BILLIONS of stars and who knows how many infinitely dense black holes, whose masses are on the order of 1000 times, or larger, than our middling sized Sun-Star.

    (Our Sun is an average sized star, yet it’s mass is 330,000 times that of the earth. Jupiter is 317 times as massive as earth).


    Recall E=mc^2 from which m= E/(c^2) and c^2 is a Trumpian huuge quantity; and m, presumably is the mass of the entire universe; so E must have been of a magnitude totally beyond imagination.
    In other words, out of pure energy, ALL the mass of the universe was produced.
    Don’t know bout that.

  21. Ah yes, the famous “my terrible science and bad conclusions are more realistic than you stupid Christians terrible science and bad conclusions” argument. I can (and do) hear this every day from every idiot lib on the street. Why does anyone need to hear it here?

    • say, aren’t you really Ho Chi Minh jr ? you used to be called Lil’Mingh back in Danang? I’m sure it’s you, Madame Butterfly!

  22. Culture is the highly complex feedback loop that evolved over time among a group of people with a shared heritage and biology.

    If by ‘shared heritage’ you mean “cult”, then yes. If you excise “cult” from the equasion, I–like Pp. Benedict XVI–think you miss the boat.

  23. 1) re: IQ testing: personal experience. Father age 90 a year before he died told me that I had a full IQ test by a school district psychologist in 2nd grade and its results were within 2 points of another IQ test (full scale) when 17 as a freshman in college. Three years later took the GREs and the scores of the combined Verbal and Math give an IQ which also was within two points of the other two. A fourth IQ test was taken prior to my entering the Navy when I was 24 and it also was within a few points of the other three. I have wondered how could the four different tests given over a few decades have come out so close in scores. All I come up with is that the test writers have really nailed the manner in which they test for IQ. I am a believer unlike Fred.

    2) re: Evolution vs Intelligent Design. If the Earth is circa 4 billion years old there probably is not enough time to effect evolution unless panspermia as a mechanism for spreading life exists since the time from the presumed big bang is circa 14 billion years ago, giving evolution almost 4 times longer than the former limit of four billion years. If there was no big bang and the universe is older by an X factor then evolution and panspermia makes sense obviating the need for Intelligent Design. To get an idea that the big bang may be nonsense check out the Hubble photos and story of the Ultra Deep Field study. Keep in mind that Halton Arp showed evidence that red shift may not be at all an accurate distance marker.

    Dan Kurt

    • > If the Earth is circa 4 billion years old there probably is not enough time to effect evolution unless panspermia

      Based on what assumptions?

      • @ Rod Horner “Based on what assumptions?” not enough time….

        Funny how the argument that evolution has not had enough time (Wistar conference about 1966 or so) and parallel selection (The Z-Man’s reference above) that finds enough time both originate at the University of Pennsylvania albeit separated by half a century.

        Fred Hoyle, a proponent of the Steady State Cosmology view as opposed to the Big Bang*, wrote a lot on Panspermia including a book on the topic: Evolution From Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism. I never read the book, only some reviews, so I can only mention it to you. Hoyle also wrote a book titled Mathematics of Evolution; again I have only read reviews of it.

        I would not dismiss Hoyle out of hand as I learned a lot of astronomy as a youth from his books. I highly recommend his autobiography as he recounts his life in Astronomy and gives the reader insight as to why he came to the views that he held: Home Is Where the Wind Blows: Chapters from a Cosmologist’s Life.

        Dan Kurt

        *Big Bang is a term coined by Fred Hoyle

  24. I had been of the general opinion that Fred was pretty good until last year when he wrote a piece on health insurance that could have been written by Bernie Sanders with a bit of Hillary thrown in for good measure. Then I started looking more closely and it began to dawn on me that perhaps he might be somewhat of a moron. Glad to know that I’m not alone.

    • And then there are those posts that are clearly written while under the influence. He needs a sign in front of his computer, “Fred, don’t drink and write!”

  25. I put Fred Reed into the same category as Jim Goad. Everything he’s ever written has been a shtick, a part of an act, a character he’s cultivated over the years for people who want to feel edgy but don’t actually want to really wander off the reservation or look deeper into the way things work and the “why” behind it.

    And yes, just as you mentioned a few days ago regarding how we have blind-spots regarding things we want to keep (online shopping was your example, I believe), Fred’s blank slate b.s. is totally motivated by the fact that he likes Mexican pudendum, so much so that he married a Mexican woman. If race and IQ do correlate and biology is a part of destiny, then that means he sold out his genetic forebears to live cheaply and comfortably south of the Border on his pensions (he was a cop and a marine, I believe). He’s sort of the inverse of John Derbyshire, whose sinophilia is rooted in his marriage to a Chinese woman (though Derb is smarter and more honest than Reed, and Asians are generally superior to Mestizos so he has a leg to stand on when justifying his proclivity for slanted snatch).

    • yep, everything fred writes is to justify — mostly to himself — his choice of lady friend.

    • To give Fred credit where it’s due, there’s been one area where he has been utterly consistent; Feminism. He hated feminists back in the 1970’s, and he hates them now. I have actually wondered if Fred’s soft spot for Mestizo culture may have something to do with the exaggerated masculinity of Latinos. Yeah, they may have IQ’s of 91, they may knife or shoot each other at near-African rates, they may get ripped after half a Tecate, but at least their damned women know their place.

      American Blacks, on the other hand, have a matriarchal culture. Fred despises them. Makes you wonder…

  26. zman,

    The SAT used to be considered an IQ test. Then the moonbats changed the test to measure other things.

    Mensa no longer accepts high scores on the SAT. They did however, accept it from 1974-1994. A score of 1250 or higher during that period qualified for Mensa.

    Since 1994 College Admissions also changed. Essays, other activities in school or community (aka your brag sheet), race, social economic status, nepotism, & guvmnt subsidies are all factored in along with your fake IQ test score and your fake grades (remember this is the age of everyone gets a prize) which are all part of the recipe for modern college admissions.

    A top 1% or 2% score on the SAT used to get you into any pretty much ANY school you applied to.

    Perhaps it’s better off simply putting it this way — College Admissions has been red-pilled.


  27. One of my gigs is in the Ed biz, so I love these discussions of “testing,” its relationship to IQ, and how to game both. As you say, modern tests work really well to foil gamesters. The GRE, for example, is computerized for this reason. Questions get progressively harder. Since my program didn’t require a math score, but you couldn’t just skip it on the computer, I clicked “C” for every answer. The lowest possible score on a GRE section is 200, and I got… a 220. (Meaning, I think, that I randomly got the first question right). Better yet, they were “calibrating” the math section at the time, so I had the opportunity to take another version of the math test. Same deal, “C” for every answer, and I got…. a 220. Pretty well calibrated, I’d say.

    The REAL gaming of the system, of course, is done by East Asian kids, who mysteriously, year after year, end up acing the SATs… then they get to college (I’ve had lots of them), and the Dick and Jane Reader is far beyond their Engrish. It helps to have an enterprising soul on the College Board sell you the exam way in advance….

    • I took the GREs decades ago, before they were computerized. They were to be used as our department finals, and two of us figured out that we could take a nationally offered administration the fall before. By comparing notes, and studying the subjects emphasized on the first taking, we moved our scores up a ton on the school administration. The rest of the department scored in the 70s percentiles on a normalization of the raw scores. The two of us scored in the 90s. We had both scored in the 70s on the fall administration.

      Some years back, I was studying for a professional designation. The education outfit I worked with offered copies of the past tests and correct answers for an additional fee. The test was a pass/fail at 70% correct. I studied by simply memorizing 1500 questions and answers, self-testing and emphasizing the memorization of those I got wrong. My peers studied class notes and workbooks. I passed, they failed, and I got done way before the time limit. I coached three people who had no business passing the test by using the same method.

      I suspect that some of those Asian kids acing these tests are augmenting their scores with similar training methods. Virtual steroids for test-taking.

      • There’s a lot of that, but there’s actual outright theft of the test — China and (I think) S. Korea got busted a few years back. Then they get to the US and continue their, ummm, entrepreneurial ways — the U. of Iowa, I think, busted a huge plagiarism ring among Chinese students a few years back. They were all paying for term papers from the same service. As literally every Asian national I’ve ever had in class (again, quite a few) enthusiastically and unabashedly cheats on everything, constantly — and as this is well known at every college in America — those kids must’ve been some kind of blatant to get caught…. and since foreign nationals pay full tuition plus, it must’ve been *really* egregious for them to get expelled. As in, I bet the university president (or someone very high in the food chain) got fired.

  28. I like Fred and what he has to say on most subjects. I especially agree with his antiwar position. I simply disagree with him on evolution and pay him no attention when he writes about that particular topic.

    There is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  29. For the record, Fred is not a ‘Creationist’, nor is he a Christian. I’m also pretty certain he’s not a flat-earther. And obviously, neither is he a race realist… I am all of those, however. There is no conflict with historical, factual knowledge, or “science” in taking up any of those philosophical positions. Those are notorious issues of great debate among thinking men, but you are certainly not an authority on any of them, so I wouldn’t bother arguing the finer points.

    I like Fred and enjoy his “gomerish” writing style. I also like yours, Zman. That’s why I read you. I don’t care if you’re a fool in your spiritual beliefs, or a blind follower of the priesthood of Scientism. I don’t read you for that. In my opinion, you’re just as wrong about your understanding of origins, or what ‘scientific knowledge’ actually is as Reed is in his analysis of race and IQ.

    I don’t think Fred is any more of a “phony” than you are, and yet I value both of your opinions–on things I agree with… Imagine that! Eat the fish, spit out the bones. I certainly don’t fault you for exposing your positions of ignorance (which all of us have). Neither should you fault his. He’s just a guy trying to understand this matrix of deception we all find ourselves in, and questioning the deceivers with his own goober Socratic method. That makes him unpopular with most of his colleagues who have taken the blue pill. You shouldn’t be one of them, bro.

    Criticism kindly offered, free of charge.

    • You are entitled to your opinion and I reserve the right to be proven wrong about Reed. I’ve spent a lot of my life in the South, which means I’ve run into too many guys who run the Amiable Cooter act. As a result, my skepticism is well grounded.

    • Zman encourages comments and Fred doesn’t allow them. I enjoy both blogs, but I particularly enjoy the comments on Zman and give Z respect for allowing us to take shots at him.

      Given Fred Reed’s points of view, a comment section there would be a hoot but probably require a shower afterwards.

    • Evolutionary biology is the best tool we have to explain the fossil record and natural reality. Are there huge gaps in our knowledge? You bet. That’s why thousands and thousands of people make a living in genetics, biology, anthropology, etc. There are huge gaps in physics as well, but no one thinks gravity is a religion.

      That’s always been the game the ID’er play. They think if they can find a mote in the eye of evolution, no one will notice the plank in their eye.

      • The studies and data Vox Day points to do not concern the fossil record, but the time periods required for speciation on the basis of random mutation to have occurred as posited. Based on the known age of the universe, the math doesn’t work, pointing — potentially — to some other mechanism that would fit with the time frame involved.

        If interested, you can scroll through some of the links in the search I provided above and the links.

        • I’m familiar with those arguments. All of them suffer from bad math. The people pushing them simply don’t understand the material and make convenient mistakes to arrive at the desired answer. Once you correct for concurrency, for example, their math falls to pieces. Gene mutation happens in parallel, not series. If you are interested in the math, here’s a paper on it.

  30. >A long time ago, I decided I would just ignore the intelligent design people. I’m perfectly fine leaving them to their beliefs, as I don’t think it causes any harm for people to believe in a supernatural designer. In fact, I feel the same way about creationists.

    I’m there with you, from the Christian perspective. While accepting the truth of the Word, I don’t subscribe to literalism at either end of the book.

    OTOH, I’m just not sure that the origin of life is empirically knowable. Standing by for the repeatable experiment that goes from inorganic, to self-reproducing organic, chemistry. Getting it all arranged “just so” remains a distant goal. Such an experiment will be interesting when it arrives, but, until then, has scant effect on tomorrow’s workday.

    As far as the intelligence debate goes, I’m just about as “Meh” as on Creation. We are rated as individuals. There is some nature/nurture balance going on in intelligence. You’re quite bounded if you’re graced with Down’s Syndrome. So you take the talents you’re granted and do the best possible work with them.

    In other words, even if it’s possible to generate some exams and aggregate scores against the exams for various populations and show that My Number’s Bigger Than Yours. . .so, what?

    • So what is what is said by people with an advantage and sometimes by people who know they are never going to have one.

    • I am willing to entertain ID. I am willing to entertain some of the alternate theories of how 9/11 went down as well. But I haven’t seen enough there, on either one, IMO, to go banging the drum for them.

  31. Ya, Fred hates IQ. He’s lived with Mestizo’s since Cortez lay down with his first squaw to make one, and Fred told us a Mestizo can do anything a Euro peon can do, except better….. or at least anything he has asked them to do. So there! Hard to understand why the Army, a known equal employment agency, will not accept an IQ below 91. They claim that is throwing a monkey wrench into the machine.

    • I’ve never been a fan of Fred Reed. His Gabby Hayes act never struck me as on the level. I should not be such a prick about these things, but I have zero tolerance for phonies.

      • oh phuck phred, he’s stuck so far back in the 70’s it’s pathetic. screw him and his boring crap.

      • This not being a prick thing is not working out so well for my side. I admire it when it is done extremely well, but the music is nothing where the audience is deaf.

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