Thursday, January 03, 2019

More on IQ

Discussing the topic of wisdom over at Chicago Boyz, I hit upon the idea that IQ tests are rather like the decathlon.  We declare the winner to be the world's greatest athlete, then forget about him the next week.  We pay, and pay attention to almost every other athlete more. We apparently don't really think the decathlete is the best; or perhaps we value athletic display only in context of accomplishing some goal, such as hitting a large or small ball somewhere, so that a more limited number of combined abilities is admired. The decathlon certainly does test athletic abilities, and while we might add or subtract others (think pentathlon), those abilities would likely greatly transfer to any sport we might devise.

It is both true and false that the decathlete is the world's best athlete, and I think it fits the IQ/Other Smarts debate pretty well.

Update: Comments over at West Hunter - ouch


james said...

Is a monk holier than a housewife?

It might look like it, because the clutter is cleared away and you can see the devotion more easily.

Laura said...

I view intelligence, that is, g, as an enabler, nothing more. There is a practical "floor" of g needed for each job or task, which is mostly driven by how much unpredictability is involved in the task and how much breadth there is in the knowledge/facts needed to be "at your fingertips". Below the floor, and you just aren't going to be able to do that job, regardless of how much "grit" (or whatever) you bring to the table. At the floor, you're working your butt off all the time to achieve mediocrity. But once you're comfortably above the floor, more g doesn't much help; instead, other factors-- like "grit", or experience, or a charming personality that makes people want to help you-- are dominant. So, if the "floor" for being a lawyer is (say) IQ 115, smarter than about 2/3 of the population: somebody with an IQ of 115 will be able to pass the bar, and will be competent in his specific area (although rapidly loses knowledge in other areas). Somebody with an IQ of 110 and a huge amount of determination and patience could maybe pass the bar on the third try, and would be able only to do the simplest and most repetitive lawyer tasks (say, mostly boilerplate contracts). But a lawyer with IQ 125 and 20 years of experience will likely wipe the floor with a lawyer with an IQ of 145 and only 3 years of experience.

I would emphasize, g is an enabler-- it opens the door for you, but it doesn't mean that you actually do go through it without lots of that "additional" stuff (focused practice, help from others, determination, etc.) It is one of the most, if not the most, robust psychometric measurements we can take, and it measures something very real, and very important.

NNT's first set of mistakes is that he assumes that everyone has met the "floor" requirement for g-- not so, at all; the people who don't, never show up on his radar, because they either wash out immediately or never make it through the training program. IQ, g, is absolutely real, and it absolutely limits your life choices. If he doubts it, he's not dealing with anybody in the bottom half of the population regularly.

Part of his frustration is simple social irritation-- some people are not as competent as he is, and yet they refuse to recognize this. That is, they aren't giving him the status that he feels he deserves. Another factor is that NNT has a relatively high degree of aggression, which bleeds into contempt for others (especially men) who don't have that. Especially if they use classically "feminine" approaches to venting what aggression they have (e.g. gossip/backstabbing, clique formation, etc.)

He also gets angry at a tendency for some people to construct highly elaborate, internally consistent, emotionally satisfying mental models-- which are entirely unpinned to the actual reality around us. It's true that many of his "intellectuals yet idiots" (IYIs) do this. But this isn't really a factor of IQ. All humans have a tendency to do this-- the "dumber" ones believe in astrology, Bible codes and prophecies, control conspiracies by Jews/whitey/the CIA/Russia/the Pope/etc., the "blue pill" alt Right, magic/voodoo/etc. and so on. "Medium" intelligence people follow esoteric meditative religions (Buddhism, Kabbalah, New Age, etc.), political ideologies (Marxism, etc.), and so on. But it's all the same impulse-- to replace the scary, uncontrollable reality with a nice, domesticated model 100% contained in the brain, 100% controlled by the person concerned. Bonus, the person with the mental model is better than anybody at manipulating it (natch), so they're the world expert by definition.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Laura, I've seldom heard anyone articulate my views quite so well ;)

David Foster said...

Laura..."But it's all the same impulse-- to replace the scary, uncontrollable reality with a nice, domesticated model 100% contained in the brain, 100% controlled by the person concerned."

This ties to a remark by the writer Andre Maurois: people who are *intelligent*, but not in any way *creative*, tend to latch on to intellectual systems and to apply them even more rigidly than their originators would have.

See also Arthur Koestler (himself a former Communist) on Closed Systems:

"A closed system has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of casuistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself. The orthodox Freudian school in its early stages approximated a closed system; if you argued that for such and such reasons you doubted the existence of the so-called castration complex, the Freudian’s prompt answer was that your argument betrayed an unconscious resistance indicating that you yourself have a castration complex; you were caught in a vicious circle. Similarly, if you argued with a Stalinist that to make a pact with Hitler was not a nice thing to do he would explain that your bourgeois class-consciousness made you unable to understand the dialectics of history…In short, the closed system excludes the possibility of objective argument by two related proceedings: (a) facts are deprived of their value as evidence by scholastic processing; (b) objections are invalidated by shifting the argument to the personal motive behind the objection. This procedure is legitimate according to the closed system’s rules of the game which, however absurd they seem to the outsider, have a great coherence and inner consistency.

The atmosphere inside the closed system is highly charged; it is an emotional hothouse…The trained, “closed-minded” theologian, psychoanalyst, or Marxist can at any time make mincemeat of his “open-minded” adversary and thus prove the superiority of his system to the world and to himself."

Intellectuals and Totalitarian Dictators:

Texan99 said...

Reading this in the context of the West Hunter discussion, I'm struck by a pervasive error: If races have no hard-and-fast boundaries, then they must be a completely non-existent category. If IQ is not 100% determinative of every outcome we can value or even imagine, it must not have any impact at all.

The color "orange" has no hard-and-fast outlines. Not only does it fade into red on one end and yellow on the other, but we mean lots of different things by orange, including shades incorporating a bit of black, white, or many other colors. Why would we conclude that there's no such thing as "orange"?

People who fervently proclaim there is no such thing as race have no problem with saying that blondes and redheads exist, or that some people have hazel eyes, even though those are categories with similarly fuzzy edges. Even species have fuzzy edges. People who know perfectly well that grit can't solve all problems (why, that would be almost Republican!) will still tell you with a straight face that IQ is meaningless. Has this confusion always been so rampant, or are we just going through a period in which people are having particular difficulty with adopting useful but flexible generalizations, and acknowledging the multiplicity of causative factors?