Sports Radio IQ

For a long time I did cognitive testing for companies evaluating applicants and current employees. Modern people associate this sort of thing with evil Nazis who view humans the same way farmers look at their livestock. That said, there is a strain of this in the human sciences that dates back to the the Efficiency Movement. The industrial revolution did result in the widespread believe that technology and science could improve the stock of human capital, often by eliminating the stupid and dangerous.

That said, the work I was doing had nothing to do with eugenics or genocide. It was about evaluating employees and applicants with regards to fit within the firm. The idea was to create profiles of the various roles in the company. Everyone including senior managers were tested and then a profile was created for each area. There was the marketing profile, for example, which was used to assess sales applicants. The closer some one was to the ideal profile, the better the fit. It was not determinate, just another evaluation tool.

One of the things I eventually learned is that management often selected against people with a high IQ, particularly for certain sales and management roles. It was just assumed, for example, that a super smart person would be unsatisfied in a sales position, unless the position requires problems solving. Managers looked for simple minded, but outgoing people to sell commodities. For technical sales or sales engineer positions, problem solving was more important than personal skills or aggressiveness.

In other words, before testing, people naturally arrived at some rather sensible assumptions about human behavior. A guy with a high IQ is going to go mad sitting ina  toll booth eight hours a day. On the other hand, he can work out fine in a position where he can kill hours reading a book, while waiting for some process to run. Einstein famously worked in a patent office. Faulkner wrote at least one novel working in a boiler room, as a maintenance man. He wrote while waiting for alarms to ring, telling him to do something.

Certain professions certainly seem like they are better served by a certain kind of stupid person. I was listening to sports talk radio the other day and they were discussing Tim Tebow and it was the usual blather. They wanted dumb sports fans to call in and say bad things about Tebow. When the callers did not materialize, the jabbering sports jocks filled the void by saying stupid things. It occurred to me that being a sports talk radio person requires a combination of stupidity and a misplaced sense of self.

In other words, the good sports radio guy is not very bright, but he is sure he is smarter than the callers, which may be true, but the differences are small at that level. Yet, the people running the sows think they are brilliant. it’s possible that the callers think the exact opposite, that they are the smart ones and the radio guy is the dummy. The bulk of the listeners tune in to hear dumb people argue about sports. If the sports jock was smarter and more self-aware, the whole thing falls apart and is no longer fun for the rest of us.

It is assumed that stupid people fill menial jobs like carrying stuff, picking fruit and stocking shelves. It is further assumed that robots will replace these people and we will have a population of idle nitwits. The truth is, the demand for stupid people may be much higher and their roles may be more difficult to replace. If the robot future also comes with a eugenic component, the result may be fewer middling IQ people, rather than fewer dumb people. The bell curve may be inverted, so it is the smart leading the very dumb.