Intelligence (IQ) and Public Policy

Mokita – Something we all Know but Won’t Discuss

IQ – Intelligence Part 2

By: George Noga – June 23, 2012
        This is the second of two posts dealing with IQ; the first is on our website; it revealed the radically transformed role of IQ in our private lives. This post undauntedly goes where few have gone before, the role of IQ in public policy. In Papua New Guinea their Kivila language has a word, Mokita, which describes a truth we all know but agree not to talk about. So it is with IQ.
“A mokita is a truth we all know but agree not to talk about.”
     So why does MLLG go there now; why not leave well enough alone? The US public policy debate has become atrophied and twisted by myth and political correctness. Many of our biggest social and economic problems (education, poverty, homelessness, et seq.) are much more accurately defined and explained by IQ than by any other cause. Before we can begin to solve such problems, we must understand them and be willing to look for solutions where the data lead. What follows is a fact-based and principled look at IQ and public policy in America.
Psychometrics of IQ in America
     We are a nation of 310 million; that means about 2.5%, or 8 million of us, have IQ below 70 which is two standard deviations (“SD”) below the norm. Another 30 million have IQ between 70 and 80. An IQ below 70 means significant limitations in two or more areas and de facto retardation. IQ between 70 and 80 means trouble with everyday demands such as filling out routine forms; such people have borderline retardation and limited trainability. Those 40 million Americans with IQ of 80 or less are the focus of public policy questions in this post.
The Role of IQ in Public Policy
     Jumping straightaway to the ineluctable point, IQ should inform our public policies where applicable. Today we not only ignore IQ, we are loath even to talk about it and quick to castigate the few intrepid souls who dare raise the issue. Every measure of social pathology is strongly correlated with low IQ. Poverty, unemployment, welfare, poor parenting, crime, injury, delinquency, drug abuse, illegitimacy, child neglect and even incivility are inexorably and directly linked. The converse is true of those with high IQ; they manifest virtually no social pathologies including every one of the aforementioned listedsupra. Let’s touch briefly on just three areas where policy should be informed by IQ: poverty, education and homelessness. Of course, criminal justice, the drug war and many other areas of public policy also are impacted.
“Poverty, unemployment, welfare, bad parenting, homelessness, crime, injury, delinquency, drug abuse, illegitimacy, child neglect, incivility and all other social pathologies are strongly correlated with low IQ.”
     Poverty: The true level of poverty in America, as defined by those who experience material hardship, i.e. lack the resources to meet basic needs for healthy living including food, shelter, clothing and medical care, is only 2% to 3% of the population. Of the people government classifies as being in poverty, two-thirds (67%) by their own reports suffer no material hardships; in addition, another 17% are illegal aliens. When we subtract those two cohorts, the computed result is eight million people living legally in America who suffer material hardships. These eight million people who experience material hardships are substantially the same eight million cohort with IQ below 70. It seems clear enough; poverty at its root is not primarily an economic or social problem, it is one of low IQ that demands entirely different solutions.
     Education: What if the vast majority of children in the very worst schools had sub 70 (or sub 80) IQ? There is  no amount of spending that could make a difference. Contrary to public perception, Head Start is a failure; it achieves only short-term gains, all of which disappear by third grade. What is bien entendu is no way ever has been demonstrated permanently to raise IQ. Programs like Head Start only raise performance up to the level of a student’s inherent capability as circumscribed by IQ. Throwing unlimited money at schools with low IQ students is ineffective. Remember, these are kids who are either retarded or have difficulty filling out a form. If we honestly recognized the situation, we could craft better approaches. We are not doing justice to the very kids we are trying to help and all because we find truth uncomfortable.
     Homelessness: This is open and shut; today no one in America is homeless absent social pathologies. That explains why the media go into a frenzy whenever they think they find a mainstream family in that circumstance. Because both homelessness and low IQ involve pathologies, it seems clear enough that homelessness results from low IQ; government agencies now understand this but aren’t willing to extend this knowledge to poverty and education.
Implications and Solutions – Private and Public
     Let’s distinguish between private and public behavior. Individuals (liberal and conservative) readily understand the increasing role of IQ in achieving success. People want smart kids and make their marriage and parenting decisions accordingly. The market value of IQ is soaring and differences between elites and others are turning into a chasm. Something must be done about this cavernous cognitive and cultural divide before we soon inhabit a brave new world in which vastly outnumbered Alphas become isolated in communities surrounded by razor wire to protect against the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons bent on their destruction. It already is happening in much of the world and the trend is well underway in the USA.
“We must not shirk from the truth even when it is radioactive.”
    In the public sphere, we must change the culture to value truth above all else and not to shirk when it is uncomfortable – even radioactive. None of our worst problems will be solved with myths and political correctness. We must craft approaches and solutions to real problems based on real causes. We can improve failing schools, poverty and other problems only if and when we are honest. Failure to bridge this cognitive/cultural chasm will come at a steep price indeed.
“Everyone needs a valued place in society and to live on a human scale in a community without complex rules in a culture emphasizing virtue.”
    There are other things government and society can do to shrink the cognitive-cultural divide and to permit everyone a valued place in America; these actions include:
  1. Restore and emphasize local neighborhoods and communities;
  2. Vastly reduce and simplify laws, rules and regulations to make it easy for people to live;
  3. Make it easier to earn a living;
  4. Facilitate living a virtuous life including restoration of marriage and, above all;
  5. Everyone, regardless of cognitive ability, should have a valued place in society.
    Mokita harms those who practice it because they fundamentally are dishonest; the greatest toll however is on those we purport to shield via vapid political correctness. Of course, all the while we engage in mokita publicly, we privately practice selective marriage and breeding. After all, we certainly don’t want political correctness to interfere with our own family, do we?
Credits and source notes: Charles Murray’s books “The Bell Curve” and “Coming Apart” were the source of ideas and data about the role of intelligence as was “The Global Bell Curve” by Richard Lynn. In addition, I read numerous scholarly journal articles in 2008-09 while researching a chapter about IQ for a book on family history.

Brave New World Arrives 500 Years Early

The Astonishing Role of IQ in 21st Century America

IQ – Intelligence Part 1
By: George Noga – June 15, 2012

     This is the first of two posts about the shocking role of intelligence (as in IQ) in contemporary life; this installment deals with its transformational effect on our private lives; the second part addresses a radioactive issue: IQ and public policy. A sea change, mostly over the past half century, has taken place off all radar screens. It already exerts a profound effect on our lives and, when it reaches its culmination later this century, will forever change life on Earth as we know it.

“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.”

     Brave New World was taken from Shakespeare; in The Tempest when Miranda, who was raised on an isolated island, saw other people for the first time, she exclaimed the above words. Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel is set in the year 2540; what he warned about is happening 500 years early. The difference is instead of the World State controlling children’s IQs in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, we are doing it voluntarily but every bit as thoroughly.

Six Fundamental Truths About IQ

     We have allowed myth and political correctness to creep into our views about IQ, mainly because the truth makes many uncomfortable. Liberals in particular get apoplectic whenever hereditary differences are highlighted, such as when they learn little girls really do like to play with dolls and little boys with guns. The following axioms are accepted virtually unanimously by professionals and academics who study such things, albeit a few won’t say so publicly.

  1. There is such a thing as general level of intelligence on which human beings differ;
  2. All academic and achievement standardized tests measure this factor to some extent; tests expressly designed to measure cognitive ability (IQ) do it most accurately;
  3. IQ scores match what people mean when they use terms like smart and intelligent;
  4. Scores that measure IQ are stable throughout life although not perfectly so;
  5. Properly designed and administered IQ tests are not biased against any group; and,
  6. Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, no less than 40% and no more than 80%.

Psychometrics in the Twenty-First Century

     Around the middle of the last century the sea change began to be wrought. In earlier times high intelligence was nearly randomly and broadly distributed throughout society. A laborer, farmer or plumber was just as likely to have high IQ as anyone. Moreover, IQ rarely entered into the calculus of marriage. Everything changed beginning circa 1950; to wit:

  • High IQ students attending college soared from a low percentage to about 90% today of those who are in the top quartile. Among the top few centiles, the share is nearly 100%.
  • Elite colleges were transformed. In 1950 Harvard was easy to get into; by 1960 the average 1952 freshman would be in the bottom 10%. Today they wouldn’t even apply.
  • Bright kids from every place and background were identified and sorted. Today, any high performing kid could go to college and, if needed, without having to pay.
  • The entire non college population has been drained of the brightest kids and now has a markedly lower IQ than mere decades ago.

“The market value of IQ is soaring and the income/wealth gap
between the elite and others is widening at an alarming rate.”

  • Educational partitioning has been followed by occupational selection. High performers are concentrated in certain occupations specifically screened for that purpose. High IQ professions now take 5 times more of the elite than 20 years ago.
  • Cognitive ability and job ability are conjoined. The market value of IQ is soaring and the income/wealth gap between high performers and others is widening at an alarming rate.
  • Now we see physical segregation in addition to that in academia and the workplace.
  • The final step, selective marriage based on IQ, already is well established. Marriage and breeding between elites and others is rare even today as with Huxley’s Alphas and others. To put it bluntly, people want smart kids who can thrive in the world of the future.
  • This is happening all over the world and the trend is accelerating rapidly.

What Does This Mean For Our Future?

     Brave New World is arriving 500 years early. What kind of dystopian world will our children and grandchildren inhabit? Cognitive elites already matriculate in different schools, work in different jobs and workplaces, earn vastly more income, worship differently, shop differently, live in different cities and neighborhoods and send their kids to different schools. They intermarry and have kids who are even more elite. Now we are getting third generation elites for whom even their grandparents can’t supply them with insights into the life of ordinary Americans. But wait; it gets even worse.

“The greatest source of inequality in America today
is not economic – it is cognitive and cultural.”

   Elites don’t go to the same movies, watch the same TV shows, eat at the same restaurants, buy the same automobiles and vacation in the same places. They don’t look the same due to different notions about diet, exercise, body fat, cosmetic surgery, tattoos and piercings. They even have longer life spans. They raise their children differently, are indifferent to professional sports teams, eschew the military, disdain hunting and fishing, have different politics and well, you get the idea. Most will go through their entire life without ever talking with an Evangelical Christian, having a friend without a college degree or even knowing someone with a below average IQ. For crying out loud, they even eat breakfast (yogurt and muesli) differently.

     I don’t pretend to know how all this will end, except that it cannot be good. We are nearing the point where today’s cognitive elite Alpha pluses and Alphas are about as different from today’s Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons as in Huxley’s Brave New World. The main take away point for readers is to understand the radically transformed role IQ plays in the modern world and that the trend will become more and more pronounced over time. It explains a great many things no one likes to talk about and should influence our future public policies.

Next up: The role of IQ in public policy. Danger: Radioactive!

Credits and source notes: Charles Murray’s books “The Bell Curve” and “Coming Apart” were the source of ideas and data about the role of intelligence as was “The Global Bell Curve” by Richard Lynn. In addition, I read numerous scholarly journal articles in 2008-09 in connection with writing a chapter about IQ for a family history.