In knowledge industries like engineering and finance, debates rage on endlessly about “best practices”. Should you do pair programming, or rely on thorough code review? Is market research valuable, or should companies exclusively do A/B testing? Will bilingual education improve overall student performance, or is it a waste of time?
Ask any expert who does not have a conflict of interest – i.e. they’re not selling their own “system” – and they’ll eventually admit that these best practices aren’t nearly as important as the people on your team. Process can help at the margins; for example, I’d probably be nervous flying with any pilot who didn’t use a pre-flight checklist. However, given the choice between a pilot without a checklist and a pilot who does not know the definition of altitude, I’ll pick the former every time, no matter how much training the second guy supposedly has.
There has been much hand-wringing of late by social activists desperate to salvage the “blank slate” theory that literally everything is socially constructed, and with the right education and environment (and rules – lots of rules!) we can prepare anyone for any kind of work. They then push insane solutions, making the bizarre claim that adding more non-whites racial diversity and women gender diversity will improve performance, apparently oblivious to the inherent contradiction. The reality is as brutal as it is obvious: individual IQ determines group IQ. All prior “studies” that claim otherwise have failed to control for individual IQ. You can’t fix stupid.
Aside: All of the above refers to g-loaded tasks (AKA “knowledge work”). g is the symbol for general intelligence, and IQ is an indirect but highly accurate measurement of g in terms of how well it predicts performance on a wide range of cognitive tasks. Given our knowledge that females cluster more tightly around the mean, there is in fact a real scenario where hiring as many women as possible is the optimal choice: jobs that are moderately g-loaded, where the avoidance of low-g employees is more important than the recruitment of high-g employees. Consciously or unconsciously, society knows this, which is why women dominate the service sector. Average is good when it comes to social interaction and tasks that are mostly repetitive with a small degree of improvisation. I’m not mad that men are over-represented in prison, and women shouldn’t be mad that men are over-represented in STEM; in both cases, we’re dealing with people at the extreme end of the g-curve.
Returning to the central thesis: It should therefore be no surprise that high-IQ societies overwhelmingly fare better than low-IQ societies:
The correlation is near-perfect aside from some anomalous results in China, which I’ll get to in a moment. It’s actually astonishing how, despite the massive cultural, economic and political differences between the USA, Argentina, Russia, Australia, and the various European nations, they have all done pretty well. It seems that a nation built on petty criminals can thrive if they are smart criminals, and once-great nations will eventually bounce back even after decades of oppression by mass-murdering Communist dictators. Governance is a heavily g-loaded task; highly-intelligent groups have inherent capacity for self-governance and will naturally organize themselves into some sort of hierarchy (the specifics of which are culturally-dependent), whereas low-IQ groups will govern like children, subject to laziness, paranoia, and tribal violence.
Some may be tempted to cry cultural bias or assert that the causative effect is backwards – that high development leads to high IQ, not the other way around. These things are not mutually exclusive, and causation can actually go both ways in a virtuous cycle. At least, that seems to be the only explanation why average IQ for a race residing in the USA or Canada is about 10-20 points higher than the exact same race elsewhere in the world; Ashkenazi Jews average 110-115 in the USA but only about 100 in Israel, and Africans average around 85 in the USA vs. 70-75 in Africa. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this, as it still seems to be a taboo subject for researchers, but I will use some logical inference to make an educated guess that the mystery ingredient is liberty.
The combination of libertarian economics and traditional marriage (monogamous, but not arranged) are inherently eugenic. Societies that uphold these values also embrace the inverted-pyramid model of human development – the reality that phenomena like Moore’s Law require continued breakthroughs in scientific, mathematical, technological and business (entrepreneurship) fields, and that these breakthroughs are the result of exceptionally-talented individuals. 100 average scientists will ultimately contribute less than a single Newton or Einstein. These individuals create entirely new branches of science and industry. The trouble is, we can’t simply make more Einsteins or even identify them in advance. The best system we have at present is one that supports free inquiry by as many smart individuals as possible (libertarian), and also tries to make as many new smart people as possible by implicitly linking material success (which correlates highly with intelligence) with genetic success and providing stable two-parent homes. If a better system exists, no one has found it yet.
By contrast, Marxist/Leninist systems are inherently dysgenic. From a purely economic point of view, if you subsidize low intelligence, you’ll get more of it. Restricting free association and free speech makes scientific inquiry very difficult, so the most talented people will flee on principle alone. Once the economic downturn of late-stage Communism hits, the marginally-talented people will start to flee for economic reasons. Any talented people who remain will tend to be persecuted (c.f. the Kulaks, or more recently, Venezuelan bakers) if not killed outright. As the saying goes, collectivism is always one execution away from utopia. It is through this ruthless suppression of individual success – and by consequence, individual intelligence – that entire societies can not only halt economic and scientific progress but also wipe out their entire gifted-to-genius population for several generations.
Which brings us back to China. They don’t have Chairman Mao anymore, and have moved from pure Communism to a strange mixed economic model, but compared to Russia, they took a very long time to recover. This explanation for their comparatively slower development is corroborated by U.S. census data, which shows that Asians (predominantly Chinese) in America are more successful than Caucasians by a wide margin. Ethnic IQ would predict this outcome on a local level, but it also rules out the possibility that ethnic Chinese have some other genetic disadvantage that cancels out their higher IQ. In other words, the problem is China itself, not the Chinese people. And it’s surely not geography, because China has plenty of arable land and access to waterways. It’s the Chinese government and national culture. That is gradually changing, and if those changes continue, they will catch up to the west.
Technology is getting smarter and will continue to replace low-g tasks with automation. It’s more important than ever that we find some new breakthroughs and create new industries, and that means pumping out as many geniuses and entrepreneurs as possible while maximizing their opportunities for success. That’s going to require significant changes to the way we think. If we want to come out of this century alive, we can’t afford to make sympathy our first priority.
For those of us still living in an “average” (>= 100) IQ society, our first priority must be keeping western society above the breaking point of IQ 97, which means severe restrictions on immigration and a permanent end to the welfare state. Our second priority should be throwing every available resource at finding a reliable and repeatable way to raise the average IQ by even a tiny amount, and exporting it across the globe. We can’t be greedy here; boosting global IQ by even a few points will dramatically lower global conflict and bring many new research partners to the table for the third priority: finding some way, whether biological or technological, of massively raising general intelligence. Most of the world needs at least a 10-point gain, and if we want to fix the problems in Africa, we need a 30-point gain.
Ignoring or denying the reality is civilizational suicide. Whether by war, invasion, civil strife, or plain old overpopulation, western society is vulnerable. This is more important than climate change, and it’s damn well more important than manspreading. We have the knowledge, talent, and technology in the west to make real progress on this issue, without cruelty or violence, if we could only break through the social taboos and get serious about it. Our future depends on it.