Monday, October 14, 2013

Intelligence is supposedly going to be explained here, but I think the purported criticisms to be explained are strawman versions of more substantive and hard to refute criticisms. I don't think intelligence is very useful as a practical matter because:

1. It is not necessary to assume we are all good at something to criticize the overall intelligence concept. Rather, it's enough to note that everyone has different relative strengths across their cognitive domains, and it's these variations, along with that 50% of ability that isn't "g-locked' and is somewhat variant, will often dominate the explanation.

The blogger says that intelligence exists to cope with uncertainty. To pull an economics concept into the discussion, intelligence by definition doesn't help one cope with something like Knightian uncertainty (an uncertainty that's simply not calculable in a meaningful way). More practically, how many philosophers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, because it's not a problem that requires a philosopher. There are a lot of ways to resolve life's many uncertainties, and it's not always evident that throwing more intelligence at the problem is the most efficient. Out of all the problems out there to be solved, a critical application of abnormal intelligence solves very few of them.

2. The brightest of us aren't as bright we might hope. And definitely not so bright as to rightly claim the prerogatives they have historically claimed. Simply put, the smartest of us frequently lie, cheat, steal and kill, and the dumbest of us frequently know when they're being lied to, cheated, stolen from, and killed.

3. “It is possible that clever people develop a kind of cognitive noblesse oblige; they kind of know they have won the lottery on a valuable trait, but they think it is bad form to acknowledge it.”

See 2. If you're truly smart, you ought to be smart enough to not go prattling on about it. And if you're truly smart and realize that the overwhelming majority of people are truly quite a bit less smart, you ought to be smart enough to understand they may not be smart enough to take your prattling on about it in stride.

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