2009 May 05 Tuesday
IQ Important For Supreme Court Picks?

Razib points out that faced with a decision of who to put on the Supreme Court suddenly people on the Left start comparing candidates by levels of intelligence.

As many have noted, The New Republic is now publishing perceptions that Sonia Sotomayor is not that intelligent. Granted, even if affirmative action played a role in her acceptance to Princeton and Yale law school, the fact that she graduated and passed the bar suggests a minimum threshold of ability. But that's not good enough, it seems that many liberals would like someone who can go toe-to-toe with the conservatives on the court intellectually, and she doesn't pass the grade on that elevated level. When the stakes are high, and a Supreme Court position is arguably one of the most powerful positions within the American government, the perceived marginal returns on more g become stark for those who would pooh-pooh it in other contexts.

How could be be not that intelligent if we are all equally intelligent? How could she not be that smart if environment is all powerful and she attended intellectually stimulating Princeton and Yale?

I'm reminded of a recent excerpt Steve Sailer did of a Geoffrey Miller book and Miller's comments on IQ.

In the 1970s, critics of intelligence research such as Leon Kamin and Stephen Jay Gould wrote many diatribes insisting that general intelligence had none of these correlations with other biological traits such as height, physical health, mental health, brain size, or nerve conduction speed. Mountains of research since then have shown that they were wrong, and today general intelligence dwells comfortably at the center of a whole web of empirical associations stretching from genetics through neuroscience to creativity research. Still, the anti-intelligence dogma continues unabated, and a conspicuous contempt for IQ remains, among the liberal elite, a fashionable indicator of one’s agreeableness and openness.

Yet this overt contempt for the concept of intelligence has never undermined our universal worship of the intelligence-based meritocracy that drives capitalist educational and occupational aspirations. All parents glow with pride when their children score well on standardized tests, get into elite universities that require high test scores, and pursue careers that require elite university degrees. The anti-intelligence dogma has not deterred liberal elites from sulking and ranting about the embarrassing stupidity of certain politicians, the inhumanity of inflicting capital punishment on murderers with subnormal IQs, or the IQ-harming effects of lead paint or prenatal alcoholism. Whenever policy issues are important enough, we turn to the concept of general intelligence as a crucial explanatory variable or measure of cognitive health, despite our Gould-tutored discomfort with the idea.

When a seat on the Supreme Court is at stake suddenly IQ becomes too important for the Left to ignore.

But if you think seriously about IQ differences then you are not a nice guy? Is the truth ugly? Or are standards for which facts are ugly learned from one's environment?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 May 05 11:56 PM  Cultural Wars Western

Dragon Horse said at May 6, 2009 9:10 AM:

"Sailer's argument is that racial classification is natural—that we "can't help but be interested in race" because we tend to define others as in or out of our extended family. I think he's right about that. We're prone to tribalism. But that's not a reason to encourage racial classification. It's a reason to beware it."

We should be looking for behavior linked genes that determine "xenophobia". I would bet my life that there are alleles and that different alleles give people different degrees of potential xenophobia.

I imagine that some of the people who follow Sailer, if not him himself have more "primitive versions" of these genes, that make them more xenophobic than average. Their ancestors were the ones leading the raiding parties into other hunter-gather settlements. At the time this trait was adaptive, but if you read "Sex and War" you will quickly find out how this is unadpative in 2009 and I would bet these genes are under selection pressure everywhere in the world (selection against them). Maybe we should work on gene therapy to treat these folks and cure them up their early primate tendencies??

Randall Parker said at May 6, 2009 10:38 AM:

Dragon Horse,

No, actually the lack of xenophobia genes is causing societal decay.

Dragon Horse said at May 7, 2009 5:16 AM:


Yeah I guess you are right...I mean these genes are good. If The Russians knew what the Nazi were doing they would have let them finish the job and that would have been good right? All that European xenophobia, led the xenophobic Ashkenazi to Israel where they displaced xenophobic Muslims who they have been fighting for 50 years. Xenophobic Japanese did a lot of good for the world in from 1900 to 1945. Oh yeah, Catholic xenophobia surely helped Europe in a 100 years of war with protestants...I mean that was definitely a benefit...oh and the Crusades...yep, that was really successful, accomplished a lot. Yes, Xenophobia has been a net positive for people for the last 5,000 years. And you wonder why people watch you Randall? :-) The thing about xenophobia is you never know when someone will form a group where you are on the outside. You think someone like you would have been popular after the Soviet Revolution for instance?

Anonymous said at May 7, 2009 10:36 AM:

You are confusing Xenophobia with aggression. The Japanese were xenophobic up until
Commodore Perry forced them to open up Japan to international trade. The West taught Japan the technology to become a world power. A xenophobic Japan was a peaceful insular nation. A westernized Japan became an aggressor.

Your style of argumentation is to take a few historical facts and throw in a snot attitude. It's bullying. It's not an argument.

Witless Idiot said at May 7, 2009 2:35 PM:

"Your style of argumentation is to take a few historical facts and throw in a snot attitude. It's bullying. It's not an argument."

Don't get too worked up. Dragon Horse isn't known for his grasp of historical events. Poor guy thinks that the Vietnam War didn't have a winner.

Randall Parker said at May 9, 2009 8:55 AM:

Dragon Horse,

Lots of genetic variations bring both harm and benefit. That is true of most personality characteristics. Depending on the circumstances introversion or extroversion can be harmful or helpful. Otherwise opposing personality characteristics wouldn't exist.

Are you trying to argue that letting in lots of low IQ immigrants is beneficial?

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