30 April 2011

What Good is Intelligence?

Bob Lefsetz, ladies and gentlemen:

Along with the rise in materialism in the eighties came a  denigration of education, of being smart, of critical analysis.  It’s cool to be dumb.  Just ask Snooki.  Or Sarah Palin, whose flock consists of idiots too stupid to realize the people they back are profiteers leaving them by the wayside.  But if you’re intelligent, if you’re educated, you can think about things, work them through your fingers and come to new, interesting conclusions.  You can debate economic policy instead of trying to prove Barack Obama was born in outer space.

I am not, of course, a fan of Sarah Palin, nor of Snooki, for that matter.  But I can’t honestly say that the country would be worse off with either of these two in office.  Obama is allegedly a genius.  And, in spite of his tendency to mispronounce common words, Bush was/is quite intelligent as well.  The same was asserted about Greenspan and is now being asserted about Bernanke.

The current mess is the result of geniuses being in charge.  Arguably, America can’t afford any more brilliant leaders, so why not give the morons a shot?  They may not fix the mess, but it’s hard to see how they would make it worse.  It takes a certain level of genius to make this big a mess, which neither Palin nor Snooki possess.  So, if nothing else, putting stupid people in charge would ensure that the problems facing the country wouldn’t multiply as quickly.  That’s worth something, right?


  1. I have heard it quipped that it would be better to be ruled by the first 535 names in the NYC phone book than by those presently in Congress and in other positions of government. Sarah Palin and Snooki included. I'd rather have men (and women, when talent and disposition disposes them) of average intelligence but above average integrity and humility as leaders, rather than the super-smart and charismatic as leaders.

  2. "What good is intelligence?" is a good question to pose toward those who I think take HBD too far wrt lower-scoring Hispanics and blacks.

    They (those whom I critique) presumably would have the higher-scoring races (Jews, Asians, whites, in that order) rule, whereas we know that g != wisdom or morality.

  3. For a leader, I'm way more concerned that they're actually on my side than that they're intelligent. The overwhelming majority of leaders are in the 110-135 IQ range anyway, including, I suspect Palin, both Bushes, and Obama. What's special about this range is that it's the range of maximum indoctrinatability, and considering who is doing the indoctrinating, those within it are particularly suspect IMO.

  4. We tend to elect charisma rather than brilliance. The Ron Pauls and Ross Perots may have genius intelligence but they will never be elected.

  5. You misdiagnose the problem Simon. The problem is not intelligence but the assumptions by which many of the intelligent operate. It's a metaphysical problem. Stupid leftists are even more insufferable than smart ones, though admittedly, their administrative incompetence generally limits their damage.

  6. I've said often that I don't mind lazy government workers at all...it's the industrious ones that scare the crap out of me.

    Substitute the appropriate IQ-related adjectives for the work-ethic ones, and the same holds true, more or less.

    I don't mind so much if relatively stupid people work for the .gov...they're not very useful in the real world. But if you're almost as smart as I am, and still choose to work for the country's largest bureaucracy (or you still can't find any real employer or customer willing to buy your services)...well, I have to suspect that your motives may be problematic.

  7. Well, I typed up a fairly long response to each one of you and then blogger ate it. I don't feel like retyping everything, so let me just say that I thank each one of you for stopping by and commenting, and allow me a very brief response to each of you.

    EW, the quip is from Buckley, if memory serves me correctly. Jehu, I think you're on to something, especially since the moderately intelligent almost always seem to let their intelligence go to their head. Paige, charisma is like raw intelligence in that it is not inherently better at solving problems. SP, you are quite correct, as usual, although I will say that my criticism was directed more towards this particular leftist's tendency to fetishize intelligence. Matt, hard-working and highly intelligent bureaucrats coupled with government force is a scary combination indeed.

  8. SP, you are quite correct, as usual, although I will say that my criticism was directed more towards this particular leftist's tendency to fetishize intelligence.

    The thing I worry about is the strong tendency by the atheistic right to use intelligence as a metric for all of life's successes. The Evo-bio crowd are the ones most guilty of this.

    BTW, I'm sorry not to have been able to comment on some of your previous posts. They have been very, very good.

  9. @SP- I think atheists in general have a tendency to use intelligence as a metric or life's successes. I think this is because they have a sort of intellectual insecurity, and think that because they are conservative they have to prove they are intelligent in order to be taken seriously. The fundamentalist Christians I generally hang with exhibit this type of behavior as well. It's like they have a chip on their shoulder.