Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘intelligence

The odd claim about the intelligent Leftist / Follow-up: Vaccines, myself, and defamatory politicians

with one comment

Last week, I wrote (concerning e.g. COVID-vaccine skeptics):

Politicians seem to have an image of mouth-breathers who have never made it further than the cartoons or the sports section in the news-paper, […]

This naturally leads me to one of my main suspicions about the paradox of allegedly educated and intelligent people voting Left—that (too) many believe that you are sufficiently politically educated and aware when you read the daily paper.

This, however, is unlikely to have been the case even in the days before journalism collapsed and even in those days when papers were the main or only source of information available on “current events”. Today? When journalists tend to be uninformed, unintelligent, and more driven by ideology than an investigative spirit? To be frank, chances are that those who bet on the papers are worse off than even those who do not pay attention at all. Compared to those who actually dig down in various matters, consult* non-MSM viewpoints, etc., they will trail horribly. BILD: Dir deine Meinung.**

*An interesting issue is that many on the Left seem to assume that anyone who reads source X also agrees with source X, whether it be because only someone who agrees would read it or because anyone who reads it would be bound to be uncritically adopt the same opinions. The latter could be a telling sign of weak critical thinking among the Leftists and forms an interesting parallel to the naive reader above.

**One of the two possible readings of the slogan of the German Bild-Zeitung: BILD: Gives you your opinion.

Certainly, looking at COVID, the original context of the quote, I have a very strong impression that the better informed someone is, the more likely he is to be skeptical of this-and-that “official truth” on COVID. These are the people who read up and think critically—not the “I have a bachelor in gender studies and read the paper!” crowd.

More generally, I find the whole “Left = intelligent and educated, Right = dumb and uneducated” narrative puzzling, as it does not at all match what I have seen in real life—and was indisputably incorrect in Sweden during the early days of my political awareness. The Leftist parties were for those easily manipulated or driven mostly by their own special interests,* while the intelligent and educated went for non-Left parties.

*Indeed, the Left pushed a very strong Marxist “us vs. them” angle and had an attitude that “if you are a worker, you have to vote for us, because only we look out for you” (or even “[…] the other parties just want to exploit us workers”). Interestingly, the current U.S. Democrats do the same, except that they replace “worker” with e.g. “Black”, “woman”, “homosexual”, …

Some speculation on the why follows below, but let it firstly be said that someone who votes Left today will, in almost all cases, show a horrifying lack of judgment. Indeed, as noted, I have much greater sympathies for the Left of, say, 1921 than of 2021. A Leftist today basically has to be ignorant of:

  1. History, especially 20th-century history and economic history. (No wonder that the Left tries to destroy history education.)
  2. Economics. (A near-absent topic in high school; even the 101-level is not attempted by most college students.)
  3. Human nature, including psychology, biology, evolutionary influences. Indeed, a belief in a strict “nurture only” view of humans, which was outdated even in the 1970s, still seems to be very common. (And large swaths of the social sciences teach the opposite of what the harder sciences say on the topic.)
  4. At least in the case of the U.S.,* the background of and ideas behind the U.S. constitution, checks and balances, division of power, etc. (And fields like civics are also often attacked by the Left.)

    *This ignorance is naturally even greater in most other countries, but is less damaging there, because corresponding whatnots tend to be far less developed to begin with. For instance, if there is less constitutional protection of the citizens, the damage that can be done by judicial-activist judges to such protections is smaller, and the understanding that such judicial activists are almost always a bad thing is of less practical relevance.

To this can be added a weak ability to see through Leftist rhetoric and pseudo-argumentation, which often has very little to do with reality, even by the standards of politicians, and very often fall into categories like “lies” and “defamation”. (Cf. e.g. any number of earlier posts on Feminism.)

As to potential reasons:*

*Note that some of these point to an incorrect perception, i.e. that “Left = intelligent [etc.]” is faulty, while others could be a partial explanation if and when the perception is correct. The discussion is partially U.S. centric. The list is likely incomplete.

  1. Being above average in intelligence does not make someone intelligent in absolute terms. The vast majority of all humans are too stupid to vote, and a majority support from e.g. those with an I.Q. of 110 resp. 90 tells us very little.
  2. There might be a critical span of intelligence, where someone is, e.g., intelligent and interested enough to read the papers, but not sufficiently so to move beyond the papers or to properly apply critical thinking to claims made in the papers. (To continue the earlier theme. The same idea can apply elsewhere, e.g. when it comes to going to college below.) The effect, then, is that someone with an I.Q. of a 110 is more likely to be exposed to a certain type of deliberate propaganda and/or set of unconscious biases and prejudices than someone with an I.Q. of 90—and, unlike someone with an I.Q. of a 130, will lack the intelligence to see through the propaganda.
  3. Having a college education, be it as a measure per se or as a proxy for intelligence, tells us comparatively little today, with the great intake of students who are not true college material and the corresponding drop in academic standards. The non-STEM fields are extremely weak filters for intelligence, and fields like “gender studies” might actually be negative filters. Moreover, many intelligent men, who could have earned a college degree, chose another road to a career, in light of the extreme costs (in the U.S.) and the great prevalence of anti-scientific Leftist ideologies in the college environment—often including anti-man and anti-White propaganda.
  4. A divide can in part be caused by women, who, at any range of intelligence and education, on average, appear to be weaker critical thinkers and more guided by emotions than men in the same range, but who currently tend to seek a college education at higher rates than men.
  5. Women are also, I suspect, more likely to fall into the brav sein trap, e.g. through having (or merely professing to have) the opinions that they are “supposed” to have in order to be enlightened (intelligent, upstanding citizens, whatnot). Of course, here we can have a vicious circle of the type “intelligent people belong to the Left; I wish to be brav; ergo, I must belong to the Left”. Similarly, the common use of “Liberal” to describe Democrats might play in: “Liberal” once held a justifiable position as a term of enlightenment, but the U.S. Liberals have very little to do with the word’s original intent—in fact, they are often outright anti-Liberal, while “true” Liberals go by terms like “Libertarian” in the U.S.

    In current colleges, and some other settings, not conforming to the right set of opinions might result in visible disapproval or, even, harassment and violence, giving additional incentives to be brav.

  6. What is considered the political Left/Center/Right varies from country to country and from time to time. If we look e.g. at Sweden and the U.S. in the 1980s,* the U.S. Democrats might have had more in common with the Swedish Right than with the Left; and certainly more with the Center than the Left. Correspondingly, a comparison (of e.g. intelligence) that might have held in the 1980s might not hold today or might have had very different implications. (To this, note e.g. factors like the previous item combined with a possible stereotype of the Democrats as the “smart party”; and note that there might be many who still consider themselves Democrats out of habit or who are unable to realize that the Democrat party has left them and fail to draw the conclusion that it is time for them to return the favor.**)

    *The U.S. Democrats have shifted in a truly extreme manner since then.

    **Note Reagan’s claim “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me.”. (Also an indication that a tendency to change is very old and/or unusually strong with said party.)

  7. The use of a two-party system might make one or both parties the home of groups that are not necessarily that close to each other, are only temporary fellow travelers, or see each other as a lesser evil compared to what is found in the other party. For instance, Libertarians and Conservatives are not truly natural bed-mates, but they are better off with each other than with the pseudo-Liberals of the Democrat party, let alone the increasingly more extremist Leftist factions that have lately grown strong. I have not kept book, but I have the subjective impression that the truly intelligent are Libertarians disproportionately often and that Libertarians tend to be intelligent disproportionately often. If so, this fact could be hidden by e.g. a survey of X among those who vote for party A and party B, without a more fine-grained grouping.
  8. The U.S. is far more religious than e.g. Sweden. We might then have a situation where weak critical thinkers tend to go Left in Sweden, but tend to be split between the Left and various religious groups in the U.S. In a second step, if the strongly Christian tend to vote Republican, this could distort the “natural” distribution of weak critical thinkers.

    (Of course, Leftist parties have long been keen on exterminating religion—likely, because they know that they compete for similar groups.)

  9. In at least the U.S., issues like LGBT-rights can distort impressions. (Also note the previous item and the often Bible-rooted resistance.) For instance, maybe it is more enlightened, and a position more likely to be held by the intelligent and educated, that a gay couple should be allowed to marry.* However, if we look at the big picture, how important an issue is that? It affects comparatively few people and to a comparatively small degree, while, in contrast and for example, an overlarge government, too high taxes, large scale illegal immigration, and similar affect virtually everyone and to a very high degree. It is easy to make a noble cause out of a small issue with a sob angle, especially when it can be narrated (whether fairly or not) as an unfairness or as unequal treatment, but that does not make it the most important issue of the day, nor even a top-10 issue.

    *See an earlier text for a different take, with the implicit conclusion that the question is largely misposed.

    (Somewhat similarly, “civic rights” issues that are more important, e.g. the preservation of free speech, often carry very little weight on the Left. Indeed, the Left is often the reason that there is a problem, e.g. through an attitude that free speech only applies to those who say the right (i.e. Left) thing, which is fundamentally contradictory to the point of free speech.)

In the overlap between the last few items, note that the overall party politics in a two-party system might contain items that do not reflect the majority (let alone consensus) opinion, but which have been added to keep this-or-that sub-group happy. Vice versa, some items might be absent to prevent a sub-group from being upset. Judging the individual or the overall group based on such items is dangerous.

As an aside, some of the mentioned issues might be affected by Leftist distortions and propaganda. Consider e.g. someone who opposes “gay marriage” based on the opinion that the point of marriage is procreation. Will his opinion be respected and discussed on its merits—or will he be condemned for “hating gays”, “wanting to oppress gays”, or similar? (And how will those who only encounter the Leftist distortion think of this someone? As someone with a valid perspective or as a hateful, prejudiced, and ignorant redneck?)


Written by michaeleriksson

December 10, 2021 at 12:04 am

IQ myths

with 4 comments

A great annoyance when IQw is on the table is that many of the PC persuasion make cocksure, yet absolutely incorrect, statements about it—often “proving” the opposite of reality in the process.

For instance, on a recently discussed blog entrye (where I still cannot comment) someone today made the following two claims as a means to dismiss The Bell Curvew:

  1. IQ is not given by nature, which is proved by how easy it is to train it.

    In reality, IQ has comparatively little yield (less than e.g. a time for the 100 m dash), even having very strong correlations between results at e.g. ages 10 and 30. Even if training has an effect, the thing most likely to change is not actually the IQ proper (or, in its core, g), but the test taking ability. (A reason why some prefer to only give tests to pristine subjects. Note that the proportion of people who are repeated test takers is limited and the distortion of overall numbers, in particular between groups, is small.) Doing this might give better room for bragging, but changes neither reality nor the value of IQ tests.

  2. IQ is unlikely to be inherited, which is proved by unspecified claims about adopted Third-World children being closer to their adopted than native countries in terms of IQ.

    In reality, IQ is very strongly hereditary, which has been shown again and again by a great number of studies—including those involving twins placed into foster homes of different SES.

    As for the specific claim, the lack of source makes it hard to make a definite statement. (But I do vaguely recall having heard similar claims on other occasions.) However, the fact that Third-World children were chosen would make the applicability in general low: The Third-World has problems with e.g. nutrition that make the impact of environmental factors far larger than in the First World—and it is quite possible that merely removing these detrimental factors could account for more than half the gap. This, however, has no impact on the observations made in the First World.

    (Generally speaking, the relative influence of nature and nurture on a group will depend not only on their “absolute” influence, but on how much variation is present. For a simplified example consider the influence of x on f(x, y) = x + y when x varies between 0 and 10 and y between 0 and 1 resp. 0 and 100.)

Other popular incorrect claims include:

  1. Scientists like Stephen Jay Gouldw have disproved IQ.

    They have not: Experts see great value in IQ and Gould has been criticized for making unqualified claims, referring to a state of research decades behind even his time (and note that his The Mismeasure of Manw is another thirty years old by now…), misrepresenting scientific consensus, and building strawmen—with a more than good chance even of ideological bias on Gould’s part.

  2. IQ only determines how good you are at taking IQ tests.

    In fact, IQ shows a high degree of correlation with a variety of tasks. There is even a correlation between IQ and speed of reaction. It is true that IQ is a very imperfect (but far from worthless!) predictor for individuals. However, for groups it is very useful. Further, even for individuals it can make statements about e.g. what work positions are at all possible.

  3. IQ is “culturally loaded”, biased against non-White, non-Christian, non-European men, or similar.

    Decades ago, this was to some degree true. Since then, great efforts have been made to investigate and eliminate such problems. One of the purest tests, Raven’s progressive matricesw, shows the same general group differences as have so often been ridiculed as caused by cultural bias. Indeed, cultural bias can often reduce a group difference: By reducing the g loading and making knowledge and experience more important, a smaller difference in these areas will mask the difference in g.

Finally, there is a claim that is true, but often used in a misleading manner:

IQ and intelligence are different things and IQ does not measure intelligence

IQ is indeed only a proxy for intelligence, even increasingly a proxy for g. Notably, it can be argued that removing “culturally loaded” questions (e.g. relating to word knowledge) has made it a lesser proxy for intelligence… To some approximation, it can be said that IQ measures the inborn part of intelligence—which makes it highly valuable and allows it to (approximately) fulfill the demands that are put on it today. In an earlier entry, I compare basket ability and height with success in life and IQ, noting that it would be equally foolish to dismiss IQ for success as to dismiss height for basketball—it would be several degrees more foolish to dismiss IQ when talking about intelligence.

For a decent overview with many further sources, I recommend the original link to Wikipedia. This page is not perfect, often being altered by PC zealots, but the facts usually shine through.

Finally, I would like to throw in a recent Dilbert stripe that not only matches most uses of the word “racism” I have ever encountered on the Internet, but which is particularly apt for discussions around IQ, “The Bell Curve”, and similar topics.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Two measures—both alike in quackery

with 5 comments

When I land in discussions of IQ, it is often manifestly clear that two thirds of the debaters have no clue about the topic. In an attempt to straighten out a few question marks, I will below present an analogy. The topic as a whole is far too wide for a single blog post, but I can recommend IQ Comparison Sitee and some of La Griffe du Lion’s writingse to those who want a basic introduction respectively some discussion of other aspects. (There is plenty of more material on the Internet, including academic papers. Google is your friend.)

Now, one of the most common ways of dismissing IQ is to point out that there are high-IQ people who have failed utterly and that there are low-IQ people who have succeeded—“obviously” IQ is just quackery.

IMO, a very appropriate analogy is height in basket ball. Consider that:

  1. Countless other factors play in, including how hard and well the athlete trains (the two are far from the same…), what his physical characteristics in other areas are, how he fits in the team—and whether he is at all interested in basket ball.

  2. It is possible to be an NBA player without being tall: Muggsy Boguesw played for 14 seasons at a mere 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m). (Numbers here and elsewhere copied from Wikipedia.)

  3. Great height is no guarantee for anything: Robert Wadloww stood a full 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m)—but was hard-pressed to walk. Despite being the tallest man on historic record, theoretically able to dunk while keeping his heels solidly on the floor, he never played an NBA game.

  4. Michael Jordanw, by many considered the greatest player of all times, was far shorter, at 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m).

Obviously, height in basket ball is just quackery…

No: As anyone who thinks the situation through, looks at more statistics about height (e.g. heree), considers the advantages under the basket, whatnot, soon realizes, great height is a major advantage and lack of height is corresponding disadvantage. This in particular when considering the statistics in light of how few men reach 7 feet compared to those who reach 6 feet.

In conclusion, I will look at two side-issues:

  1. I have seen speculated that there is a certain “comfort interval” of roughly 30 IQ points within which people are sufficiently compatible to handle each other well: Someone with an IQ of 130 gets along well with people down to roughly 100, but has problems with those at 90; someone with an IQ of a 160 plays well down to 130, but has problems with someone at 120; etc. (Obviously, there is unlikely to be an abrupt change, but rather a gradual worsening.) This can go a long way to explain why many of the very highly intelligent have problems in life, including mental issues, problems in romance, surprisingly poor career developments, whatnot. (Speaking for myself: Yes, I find that when I am too far ahead of someone else, communication problems, differences in interests and world-view, etc., become disproportionally likely.)

  2. Feynmanw is often taken as an example of an “ordinary” man who became a Nobel-prize winning physicist—his IQ being “only” 125.

    Apart from 125 being more than one-and-a-half standard deviations above the mean, this number is highly likely to be misleading. Consider e.g. that anyone can have a bad day and score low, that he may not have taken the test seriously, or that he may have had his mind elsewhere, causing careless mistakes. Notably, I have spent a lot of time solving puzzles of various kinds (including questions from real IQ tests), and have found it to be important to know what level of difficulty the puzzle has: Different difficulties require different approaches and meta-reasoning—and a world-leading physicist could easily have over-estimated the difficulty of the questions.

    Most notably, many IQ tests have a strong verbal component (the more so in the past) and there is reason to suspect that Feynman’s verbal IQ was far from stellar. At the same time, a physicist needs math ability, spatial thinking, and similar. Going by the books by him that I have read, I would only be mildly surprised to hear him going below 100 in verbal IQ—and shocked if he went above average + one standard deviation (i.e. roughly 115). He may then very well have had mathematical and visio-spatial IQs and a “g” on a genius level while still scoring just 125 overall.

    Certainly, based on his books and accomplishments, Feynman was very, very far from average in raw intelligence—and a claimed IQ of 125 would point to a test that needed refinement or something having gone wrong. (Note that this would hold true even if IQ was a more flawed proxy of intelligence than I consider it to be: A man on his level should have no problem scoring higher on a well-made IQ test, be it in my world or in the world of Stephen Jay Gould.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 20, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Unfair argumentation methods VIII: US example

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Finally, we arrive at the US example:

An incautious Harvard student made the following statement in an email:

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.


This appears to have caused a flood of unjustified criticism (cf. the given link), including one completely intellectually dishonest blogger, who made claims like:

[…]my head shook and my eyes rolled as I read the ignorant comments of someone who clearly wasted their money on an attempt to become educated.


[…] she wanted them to understand that she was not wavering and adamantly [sic!] believed that “African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.”


The blog entry, if anything, proves the opposite, namely that its author is the one to have wasted her money…

I have made several comments on that entry, and ethicsalarms has also subsequently dealt with it, so I will not go into a deeper analysis here—in particular, since the “intermezzos” and the unexpected length of at least one planned entry has caused great delays in this article series. Instead, I have directed my efforts on the following entry on “Ships to Gaza”.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm