More on porn

– Violent crime isn’t necessarily decreasing.

– I’ve read a lot of books from the pre-1900 era. If you’ve done the same, you undoubtedly noticed that they’re written for a much more intelligent audience than any (general audience) book written today. Apparently, virtually no one alive at the time could read them. That seems odd.

William F. Buckley was a leftist

– The best places to be born are the places where the fewest people are being born. Surely, mass immigration could fix that.

– Why is ESPN the most politically correct media organization?

– It might be time to sell your equities.

51 Responses to Randoms

  1. Alrenous says:


    “Popular novels of the period give a clue: Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, sold so well that a contemporary equivalent would have to move 10 million copies to match it. If you pick up an uncut version you find yourself in a dense thicket of philosophy, history, culture, manners, politics, geography, analysis of human motives and actions, all conveyed in data-rich periodic sentences so formidable only a determined and well-educated reader can handle it nowadays.”

    • sardonic_sob says:

      Last of the Mohicans, or its literary equivalent, would be well within the intellectual capacity, in my opinion, of the average Mensan… but the average bright neurotypical would probably start to glaze over pretty fast. Which means that either EVERY SINGLE SMART PERSON IN THE WORLD bought the book when it was first published, or people are getting dumber.

      (Or a lot of people who weren’t actually capable of reading the book bought it just to say they’d bought it, which is not a hypothesis that can be summarily dismissed.)

  2. Jehu says:

    Yeah, nearly all of the Flynn effect is one what is referred to as ‘Fluid G’, as opposed to ‘Crystalized G’. The problem with fluid G tests is that they rely on everyone who takes them being unfamiliar with the tasks in the test—i.e. they’re supposed to be novel to everyone and thus ‘culture fair’. The problem is that they aren’t anymore. If you don’t believe me, look at children’s toys, even baby toys now, kids books…one of these things is not like the other…
    Then compare it to your Fluid G tests. Notice anything?
    They still work more or less now, correlating very well to crystalized G tests, but comparing across generations or nations is problematic because the degree of novelty differs a lot when you go beyond a few decades of difference.
    Talking with well-preserved WWII vets (i.e. the ones without dementia, Alzheimers, etc) will also disabuse you of the notion that there has been a big meaningful Flynn effect. The guys assessed as members of the 2nd sigma back then will still strike you like 2nd sigma members today.

  3. Bill says:

    Why is ESPN the most politically correct media organization?

    Yeah, why is this?

    • josh says:

      Because ESPN seeks to be apolitical, which means adopting the dominant ideology in each and every case. You will never have a problem erring on the side of political correctness.

  4. prfdy says:

    “Flynn identified this ubiquitous trend (now named the Flynn Effect) back in the 1980s when he realized that the regular renorming of IQ tests suggested that an American with an average IQ of 100 today would score 115 on a 1950s IQ test. ”

    Has anyone ever administered a 1950s test to a modern 100-IQ scoring person? I am sure that one of those tests could be found somewhere.

  5. Jehu says:

    The reverse (administer a modern test to a 100 scoring person from the 50s) is far more interesting.
    The direction of the renorming of crystallized tests—like the SAT, has been in the opposite direction.
    Imagine giving Sudoku as a test to someone from the 50s in the US. It’d probably be a good test then, as almost nobody in the US would have any particular familiarity with it and thus it’d be novel. Now imagine giving the same thing as a test now—there’d be much less (but still some) correlation with g—essentially your people who happen to be hobbyists would get a huge artificial push on their scores, and people with more familiarity with that style of puzzle a more modest one.

  6. Uh sure. We’re getting smarter and smarter. Why back in my day we weren’t smart enough to use calculators for the SAT for instance. Of course we weren’t allowed either. We’re richer too, why a 1912 dollar would be worth more than a hundred dollars today. If you don’t believe me ask a narcissistic college student, which is redundant. Redundant because they’ll surely tell you they’re smarter. I mean when I was there age we didn’t have Facebook. I mean …duh..

  7. SOBL1 says:

    I am currently reading “How I found Livingstone” by Mr. Stanley from the 19th century. Maybe the dum-dums of 1900 just bought it for the 10 illustrations and not the 500 pages of words.

  8. rjp says:

    All are predicting a S&P Year-end Target up, 2013 GDP Growth to be modest, and a 2013 End 10 Year US Treasury Yield of pitiful.

    No real growth and government controlled interest rates. We are Japan circa 1980, except we have a huge problem that Japan never had. Parasites who have no shame and feel that welfare should be able to provide them with xBox’s, HDTV’S, and sail foams (say it if you don’t get it).

  9. Allan says:

    Having been a university teacher for almost 50 years, I most definitely can say that observation of the ‘Flynn Effect’ has NOT been my experience.

  10. Handle says:

    There are very few jobs in the world where (1) The employer must IQ test every employee, and (2) One deals fairly closely with over a hundred unique individuals in per year – nearly all in the same young age group, and (3) One takes a look at all their scores as part of that interaction. My job is one of those jobs.

    And so I tend to believe that I have a pretty decent understanding of what an 85, 95, 105, 115, and 125-IQ person is like, what they are able to do, read, and understand. How much supervision they need, how long it takes to teach them to do something new, etc. I don’t have much experience with those below IQ-85 because the employer doesn’t hire hardly any of those, and so I’ve only met a few in the high 70’s, I don’t think I’ve ever met a 70 or lower. Every one of them has graduated high school.

    And let me tell you – even at 80, and with all the purported advantages of the latest in pedagogy, technology, and health – these are not very capable people at all. They are, for all intents and purposes, functionally illiterate. They don’t read for pleasure, ever. They don’t even play many video games because they are usually too difficult. They enjoy passively zoning out in front of the television (or internet porn) for many hours every day. And drinking.

    Now, the idea that the US of a century ago had an average IQ of 70, which means that a person of IQ-100 or higher (an “average Joe” today) were just 2.3% of the population, is so facially preposterous that I have to wonder how it can be taken seriously. But apparently, it’s gospel. Go figure.

  11. @Foseti – I guess you have already read it on my blog, but the most objective evidence (i.e. reaction times) confirms that general intelligence has declined by *at least* a standard deviation since the late 1800s (ie – English Victorians *average* IQ would have been about 115-120 – our top 16-10 percent – by present norms):



    I discovered this in collaboration with Dr Michael A Woodley, and you can expect much more from him on this topic over the coming months and years.

    It’s not a surpise that we are getting less intelligent, since ‘dygenic’ fertility has been known since Francis Galton – but we have been badly misled by the Lynn-Flynn observations of longitudingal increase in IQ test scores (driven by improvement in the non-g test items) – plus wishful thinking/ dishonesty.

    The cause probably includes an inverse correlaton between IQ and fertility (in a world where child mortality is very low); plus an additional effect from this positive selection for lower IQ favouring an increased load of deleterious gene mutations (the kind of thing Greg Cochran has been discussing on the West Hunter blog).

    This was observed within developed nations, but the same trend is now much amplified by differences between nations with acceleratedly-declining native populations in the developed world, and recent ultra-rapid population growth in low-average-general-intelligence nations.

    So that under modern conditions (because higher IQ progressively encourages/ allows reduced fertility) the higher a person’s load of deleterious mutations, the greater their average reproductive success.

    • Foseti says:

      Yes, I had read that on your blog. I look forward to more from Dr Woodley.

      What struck me most about the story I linked to, was the completely absurd statement that average IQ around 1900 was in the 60s. That’s implausible on so many levels, it’s incredible that the idea has stuck around so long.

    • sardonic_sob says:

      See my comments below. In answer to the argument asserted, I can say from experience that I don’t see it. It depends on the test, of course, but there are plenty of people in high-IQ societies I wouldn’t consider particularly well-educated.

    • Allan says:

      I don’t think so. University students I encounter are both dumber and much less well educated than those of a few decades ago.
      Maybe they just have made the IQ tests easier. Why shouldn’t there be grade inflation in IQ tests, as there is in everything else?

      • sardonic_sob says:

        While I would be the first to admit that “the tests aren’t properly designed” is a good working hypothesis in any situation dealing with modern education, in theory a properly designed IQ test shouldn’t show a different distribution of scores because it gets relatively easier or relatively harder. IQ isn’t an objective measure, like, say, your weight. We can weigh a person and point to a physical property that they have which corresponds exactly and to any desired degree of precision to the number we measure. IQ isn’t like that. A score of 145 on a particular test is like having a dress size of 6. As I like to ask fashion designers (I used to be a professional photographer and encountered them from time to time,) “Six WHATS?” Six nothing in particulars, that’s what. If you like, it’s a dimensionless unit. (They almost never knew that: most of them thought it measured something but didn’t know what.)

        Anyway, IQ measures relative performance. So long as the test is not SO hard, or so easy, that the general population won’t miss nearly every question or get nearly every one right, the distribution you get out of it can be converted to an IQ score. There are “super-hard” IQ tests which purport to more precisely measure the IQ of the highly gifted for just this reason, incidentally. On a test designed to work for the “average” person, the distribution at the far ends of the curve is not very precise.

    • Handle says:

      Nope, but the education level one pursues is strongly influenced by your IQ, so there would appear to be a correlation but the causality runs the other way.

      Anyway, if this were so, then individuals receiving the same education would show similar scores which converged over time. They do not. On the contrary, the scores of most individuals stay remarkably consistent from early childhood onwards regardless of what educational experiences they’ve had in the interim.

  12. sardonic_sob says:

    I am a member of several high-IQ societies. (Laugh if you want: I was curious.) The experience is… illuminating. In much the same way that one can have a Dark Enlightenment. (For reference, I belong to Mensa, Intertel, and the Triple Nine society. Triple Nine is as high as I go.)

    1) Despite all the arguments about higher-IQ individuals being more likely to be atheists, I don’t see it. Admittedly this is a self-selected subset, but people of faith are quite common (and quite vocal, and of course have no particularly new arguments.) Atheists tend to be somewhat more civil at this level, though. Rarely does one hear a rant about how stupid believers are, if for no other reason than such a rant would be mocked since all the believers in the discussion are documented to be about as intelligent as the atheists involved.

    2) The older the member, the more likely they are to be at least somewhat literate and well-spoken. Younger high-IQ people seem to be suffering from societal/educational breakdown about as much as the neurotypical. Exceptions are lamentably rare.

    3) Discussion amongst the high-IQ goes mostly along the lines of discussion in any group of reasonably intelligent/educated people. There’s nothing talked about that in my opinion any college graduate shouldn’t be able to follow. The number of people who understand mathematics (including but not limited to statistics) is somewhat higher, but not ridiculously so. And there are plenty who either don’t understand or aren’t above twisting statistics to their own purposes, just like you’d get in any group of reasonably bright neurotypicals.

    4) Logical argument is given a lot of lip service but, again in my opinion, is no more likely to move a high-IQ person’s opinion about something significantly than it is for a neurotypical. (This is the part that really depressed me.) The saying “You cannot reason a person out of a position they did not reason themselves into” applies to the high-IQ at roughly the same level (maybe a LITTLE less) that it does to the neurotypical.

    • sardonic_sob says:

      Oh, and here is an interesting little tidbit that quite surprised me:

      There is, in my experience, almost no hierarchy, express or implied, around relative intelligence/IQ score. I was halfway expecting the sort of thing you see in, for instance, the movie “Real Genius:”

      “Mighty Mouse over there beat your placement scores by over twenty points!”

      But it just doesn’t happen, for whatever reason. People don’t wear little t-shirts with their scores, nobody quotes numbers to try to establish dominance or support an argument, Triple Niners are not inherently dismissive of Mensans, etc. That part is kind of refreshing. The assumption seems to be that if you’re in, you’re in, and therefore you have established that you deserve to be allowed to participate. (Not that saying something stupid, for relative values of stupid, won’t get you mocked quite viciously.)

  13. Matt says:

    Isn’t the obvious conclusion that there is something fundamentally bogus about IQ?

    • sardonic_sob says:

      No. The obvious conclusion is that curve-fitting is the most dangerous thing a human being can do and should be outlawed, like fully-automatic weapons and pedophilia.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t think so. Regardless of whether or not IQ is a perfect measure of intelligence, it’s pretty freaking obvious that some people are smarter than others and that this intelligence correlates pretty highly with results on IQ tests

      • Matt says:

        A better formulation then would be that there is something fundamentally missing from IQ. What it measures correlates with intelligence, and is useful for an all-else-equal comparison, but the Flynn effect demonstrates that the number itself is to some degree bogus. An IQ of 100 is fairly meaningless save as a contrast with another IQ of greater or lesser.

      • sardonic_sob says:

        At some point you come across the map/territory dichotomy, and the difference between “g” and “IQ” is a pretty good place to draw the line. If you try to get much more specific, you get out of the realm of general population statistics and into individual variances. We all know somebody who allegedly has a high IQ and yet believes stupid things or can’t do something we would expect a high-IQ person to be able to do. (For instance, I’m lousy at chess. 🙂 )The fact that this is true doesn’t mean there is something “fundamentally missing” from IQ or the concept of g, it means that as with almost every generally significant statistical measurement, the correlation is not 1.0 across all possible related cognitive tasks.

      • nydwracu says:

        The obvious conclusion is that Flynn was wrong. Anything beyond that, without outside data, is flinging darts while blindfolded.

  14. asdf says:

    In looking at the posts you made in the first month and especially your first post how do you feel you’ve succeeded in your goals? How have your views changed?

    The stated goal of your first post was to “make conservatives more libertarian.” It was stated that libertarian government would be the best government, though one should be practical politically.

    Your views would best be described as secular-right. I’m not entirely sure what it is you believe to be “the good”. How would one judge a society as better or worse in Foseti-land.

    You fear that the loss of religion could be bad, but you still believe it is false and mostly just a useful lie you hope plebs fall for.

    • Foseti says:

      If you start the blog from the beginning (which I don’t recommend), you’ll basically see that my views went from relatively mainstream libertarian (with some conservative sympathies) to Old Rightist to reactionary.

      So, the short answer is that I long since gave up any views held in the early posts.

      • Allan says:

        Quite a change in 5 years. Where do suppose you will be in another 5 years?

      • Foseti says:

        It felt more gradual. I suspect my views are pretty set at this point, unless it’s somehow possible to get further to the right.

      • @Foseti “…unless it’s somehow possible to get further to the right.”.

        Oh come, come – your read my blog. I regard you as a Liberal. (And I’m not joking!)

        But I have hopes…

      • Foseti says:

        I know you’re not joking, but I’m chuckling anyway.

      • Lawful Neutral says:

        I’ve made approximately the same journey in approximately the same time. Allan’s right; it’s a big change. What do you think brought you here?

      • Foseti says:

        I didn’t really encounter any Old Right or reactionary until around that time.

        It’s not like they’re taught in schools.

        I would say my views changed so much as I would say it took a long time to find the right expression of them.

      • sardonic_sob says:

        I think this is a common (for appropriate values of “common”) arc to follow. My theory is that reasonably intelligent people see that libertarianism makes a lot of theoretical sense, and it would be great for THEM, both in terms of congeniality of philosophy and in results. Then life knocks them around, they see that a lot of “libertarians” are annoying and vaguely creepy tax-dodgers, and gradually come to realize that human societies, as a whole, work best when run on more authoritarian principles. And that in any event, that’s what’s going to happen anyway so you might as well get used to it. As Moldbug says, “Imperium decays. Imperium is conserved.” That is the fundamental truth of human governance. Resistance is futile.

      • josh says:

        If you keep searching for truth, I guarantee you will end up a theist.

      • asdf says:

        So much to comment on here. I went through the same path.

        “I would say my views changed so much as I would say it took a long time to find the right expression of them.”

        Yeah, same. I think they changed a bit, but more the method then the underlying values.

        “Then life knocks them around, they see that a lot of “libertarians” are annoying and vaguely creepy tax-dodgers, and gradually come to realize that human societies, as a whole, work best when run on more authoritarian principles.”


        “If you keep searching for truth, I guarantee you will end up a theist.”

        I think that’s the last piece. It was for me. It’s just impossible to be anything but a leftist if your an atheist.

  15. spandrell says:

    Let me be contrarian. Go read the Wikipedia article on Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, and tell me that it doesn’t sound like all those involved (except Brigham Young) were fucking retarded.
    I have a hard time finding all those Victorians as been that smart.

    • Foseti says:

      Yes, but they were literate. Have you ever met someone with a sub-60 IQ?

      • Handle says:

        I think people have a hard time understanding what abstract IQ numbers really mean. If you could point them to a table of performance in certain core human cognitive capabilities vs score and age, they’d get a better picture of what is being discussed when terms like “IQ of 70” are used.

        Using such a tool, one of ways one could easily disprove the “average of 70” hypothesis, is to look at the curriculum of public schooling from long ago. Horace Mann was establishing these in Massachusetts in the mid 19th century, (based on the Prussian system – something that can also be looked at – Frederick II made public school compulsory 250 years ago!)

        Now, if you were to find, say, Algebra in that curriculum, and you were to look up “Algebra” in your IQ table and discover that individuals with IQ less than 85 can almost never gain any proficiency in Algebra, then that would tend to corroborate the case that Flynn and his crowd are utterly full of BS.

      • sardonic_sob says:

        Handle is quite correct. It works both ways, too. Most people of average IQ never meet someone with a *really* high IQ, and their experience with really low ones is limited and rather random. I have had far more experience than I needed or wanted with both ends of the spectrum. Until you do, it’s impossible to really understand how *different* their minds are, and what it means that somebody has an IQ of 60, or 160. They’re almost not even the same species.

      • Jehu says:

        I had the experience a few years back of consulting one of my grandfather’s education textbooks from when he got his degree in the late 1940s. I suspect it was written in the 30s. It really was a lot less full of nonsense than modern textbooks. It had a lot of tables based on actual research—basically, with IQ X, you can expect to be able to teach task Y, and it will take on average Z repetitions. It even had the analogous tables for physical activities by sex, age, and I believe deciles of physical ability.

      • Alrenous says:

        In an alternate history, those books would now read, “We used not to be able to teach task Y to IQ X, but with new method M, it has become easy, needing fewer repetitions than .”

        I wonder how useful those tables would be at reverse-lookup. “I can do task Y, so my IQ must be at least X.”

      • Handle says:

        @Jehu; @Alrenous:

        The US military (and I’m sure many others) maintains these tables precisely for its own tasks and training models. Various branches – infantry, engineers, medical, etc. – have distinct minimum IQ scores below which they simply will not accept new recruits because they know that no reasonable amount of training can make them able to perform the job. The Signal corps, (lots of IT, networking, satellite communications, etc.) tends to have a lot of very bright Joes and no dullards.

        Everyone thinks that the military is about fighting war – but in fact, most of what it does is prepare for war (like firefighters mostly prepare for, not fight, fires) – which makes the US military, from a certain point of view, the largest educational institution in the world. As an organization it has a very high level of turnover of a highly diverse population, and it cannot waste resources on misallocating those individuals into assignments they cannot manage for the frequently brief time they have them. If you had to spend most of your time teaching and training and constantly re-certifying individuals, and you actually have to be effective at doing so because lives are on the line it’s amazing how “realistic” (and utopian ideology-neutralizing) your systems will become.

    • sardonic_sob says:

      A lot of that is acculturation. If you read the story of St. Pascal, who was by almost any measure one of the smartest human beings the race has yet spawned, you realize just how easy it is for a brilliant person to believe things which are obviously nonsense. Or Newton, for that matter. Or realize that there are Christian Fundamentalists (who believe the Bible is the literal truth) with IQ’s in the 160’s or higher. I’ve met them. Darrow was wrong when he said, “I am exempting you on your fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes. “

  16. spandrell says:

    “what it means that somebody has an IQ of 60, or 160. They’re almost not even the same species.”

    Says a sardonic sob.

  17. samstarrett says:

    Regarding the “our ancestors were stupid” claim: It’s the prevailing orthodoxy needed to uphold the progressive paradigm. It’s, to be polite, horsefeathers, but quite unsurprising.

    • sardonic_sob says:

      It is the underlying psychology of those subject to the Fallacy of Chesterton’s Fence.

      “There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease.”

  18. namae nanka says:

    having a high IQ doesn’t preclude you from behaving like a whiny girl.


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