Attitudes towards intelligence

Woolery

Banned
Banned
Research suggests that those of you who enjoyed academic success or scored highly on tests of general cognition in large part did not earn that success. You were lucky. The same way a successful track & field athlete or bodybuilder was lucky. The research bears this out, though it’s fairly unpopular research.

I should disclose that my personal cognitive test results indicate I am of average intelligence at best. I did not excel in school. Consequently, I will probably present my case here in a way that is unsatisfactory to smarter folks. I apologize, but, as I’ll try to illustrate, there’s only so much I can do about that.

Here are some findings from a large, widely cited study on the subject of the heritability of intelligence:
Intelligence is a core construct in differential psychology and behavioural genetics, and should be so in cognitive neuroscience. It is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes such as education, occupation, mental and physical health and illness, and mortality. Intelligence is one of the most heritable behavioural traits.
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270739/#abstract-1title
The heritability of intelligence increases from about 20% in infancy to perhaps 80% in later adulthood. (ii) Intelligence captures genetic effects on diverse cognitive and learning abilities, which correlate phenotypically about 0.30 on average but correlate genetically about 0.60 or higher.
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270739/#abstract-1title

And for folks like me naive enough to occasionally rely on Wikipedia, here’s what it says on the subject:
Early twin studies of adult individuals have found a heritability of IQ between 57% and 73%, with some recent studies showing heritability for IQ as high as 80%.
Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

In addition to heritability, environment also plays a role in determining intelligence. While not nearly as determinative as heritability, the prenatal environment, availability of nutrition and the effects of disease also have a relatively smaller effect on intelligence.

On this website, I see a lot of senior members telling other members to, in effect, get smarter, study harder, pay closer attention if they want to interrogate or state a position. Many senior members say that it is up to the reader of the post to educate themselves and when they don’t, the senior member claims it demonstrates laziness. It demonstrates insincerity. In effect they question their character. I can’t find any evidence that intelligence correlates to character.

A world in which intellectual aptitude largely determines the value or success of the average individual, is a potentially frustrating, bewildering and cruel world to most people through no fault of their own. And the insistence that a world shaped by intellectuals is best for everyone (instead of primarily intellectuals) feeds the fear many average people have of elitism—the fear that their lives will become increasingly controlled and marginalized by highly educated, intellectually successful individuals who do not share their interests and concerns. I don’t think this is an irrational fear, given that today people of lesser intelligence (through no fault of their own) have found it more and more difficult to achieve the relative status, security and prosperity that they might’ve enjoyed in centuries past. Go back two thousand years and an “elite” was far more likely to be a warrior than a scholar. Scholars obviously view this as a backwards society. But many people who are marginalized today would prosper in such a hierarchy. Are they wrong to aspire to it?

I guess this is my main question:

In regards to the general welfare and prosperity of less educated and less intelligent people, are people of higher education and intelligence likely to make more effective decisions than the less educated, less intelligent people for which they are advocates?

EDIT: Readers didn’t like the inclusion of skepticism so I removed it.
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
I think you'd have to clearly define what you consider to be the opposite of skepticism in order to discuss the relative merits of the subject, wouldn't you?
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Looks like an interesting topic for discussion. First of all - and call me a skeptic - but I'm a bit dubious about claims like this:

I should disclose that my personal cognitive test results indicate I am of average intelligence at best.

It also struck me when you described yourself as "an average American voter" - I just think you come across as too eloquent, articulate, self-aware, balanced, thoughtful and informed to be considered of average intelligence ("at best"!)

Are you sure that's true? What tests have you done? Has your IQ really been measured at <=100?

Research suggests that those of you who enjoyed academic success or scored highly on tests of general cognition in large part did not earn that success. You were lucky. The research bears this out.

I totally agree. And one of the main arguments against that - that one must also have motivation and work ethic and get up and go and not be a lazy bum - well, are they not also traits that one is born with? And if they don't come naturally but one is able to use willpower to overcome laziness/fear/etc - isn't willpower also something we are born with?

So, yes, in total agreement with that.

And yet on this website, I see a lot of senior members telling other members to, in effect, get smarter, study harder, pay closer attention if they want to interrogate or state a position. Many senior members say that it is up to the reader of the post to educate themselves on terminology, to familiarize themselves with the skeptical or scientific or utilitarian mindset, and when they don’t, it demonstrates laziness. It demonstrates insincerity. In effect they question their character. There are lengthy posts on metabunk within which the poster marvels at the inability of the average person to grasp the merits of a skeptical mindset.

Can you link to some examples of this please so I know the kinds of posts you mean? About five should suffice.

Anecdotally, Bret Weinstein is a brilliant evolutionary biologist who nonetheless appears to have fallen victim to vaccine “skepticism.” Even if he is right about the dangers of the COVID vaccines, his position demonstrates the double-edged nature of a skeptical approach.

Are you sure it's his "misapplication of skepticism" - and the skeptical approach in general - that has led him to a "false conviction" or error? Could it perhaps be something else?

I suppose what I'm getting at is that smart people are also still people and are no more immune to going crazy, believing untrue things, or making "stupid" decisions than anyone else.

A world in which a sound skeptical practice largely determines the worth or value or success of the average individual is a potentially frustrating, bewildering and cruel world to most people.

Agreed. I don't find my own skepticism much fun - the part of me that habitually doubts others or already knows that what they're relating as fact isn't true - nor does it make for great human interactions - especially in a world where so many people say so many ill-informed and/or untrue things.

the insistence that a skeptical world is best for everyone (instead of primarily skeptics) feeds the fear many average people have of elitism

Someone is insisting that? I don't read every thread so if they have done so here I have probably missed it.

Link?

Are the societal remedies that many skeptics promote here at metabunk best for the majority of people of average or below average intelligence and academic achievement, or best for well educated, highly intelligent people who excel at skepticism?

I'm not sure what "societal remedies" you're referring to - or who these "many skeptics" are (again, some examples would be useful) - but if you're asking me that question I can only say that I think learning and applying critical thinking is a wonderful thing to get into; and the kind of skepticism that's employed here - I'd rather term it "investigating and explaining" - should be seen as nothing more than a fun hobby, an exercise for the brain, and a place to test one's skills and wits. Wanting anything for society at large seems kind of pointless in my opinion.

But, anyway, yes indeed: skeptics can be assholes and it is quite annoying that people who are right 80-90% of the time often have a hard time understanding that in the other 10-20% they can be as dufussy as the rest of us average folk like you or I (though I tend to the sub-average in a great many ways).
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
well, are they not also traits that one is born with? And if they don't come naturally but one is able to use willpower to overcome laziness/fear/etc - isn't willpower also something we are born with?

even if you are not born with, then environment (nurture) would play a HUGE role in the development (or lack of) of these skills.
ex: even a child who did not receive attention building activities in early development can be motivated in High School or College by a mentor they greatly admire.

Someone is insisting that?
I think that is the general jist i see here. even before the recent takeover of the "elitists". (meaning when i first started on MB, the smart people were more humble and didn't have that elitist vibe happening.)

But @Woolery this is a debunking site. Even me, the resident airhead, extolls the value of skepticism vs dogmatism (except bigfoot and fun stuff like that). I mean it's our hobby, obviously we are into the idea.
But i do wonder if you are maybe confusing "critical thinking" with skepticism in some of your wording.

and note, we have many threads on MB discussing with studies, AND threads that are demonstrative of the idea, that higher education does not mean a firm grasp of what skepticism is, or better critical thinking skills.
 
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tinkertailor

Senior Member.
I should disclose that my personal cognitive test results indicate I am of average intelligence at best.
Hi! I have no idea what my IQ is, but I can tell you that IQ (the most commonly used test of intelligence, and what I assume you mean here by cognition) is fraught with controversy. For instance, they are super culturally biased. Most norm-referenced standardized tests (that is, tests that have a specific protocol for administration and that use a big sample of normal folks as the comparative basis--think "bell curve") are super duper biased! So much so that in California, it is actually illegal to compare these kinds of tests against Black school students. There was a huge legal case in the '70s about it and now it's a whole thing:
a group of black psychologists broke off from the American Psychological Association in protest over black community concerns that they believed the larger organization was too slow to address. Their top priority was to stop districts from using IQ tests, which they thought were culturally biased, to decide who belonged in special education
Now, I don't have a source for this specifically, but I'm not a big fan of IQ tests because if they're this biased towards anyone who isn't white and English-speaking what else are they biased against? Maybe it's socioeconomic status, or general world knowledge. We just don't know.

There are also questions of neurodiversity and how they affect what most people think of as intelligence. Like, I'm super ADHD. You sit me down in front of a big ol' intelligence test and tell me to TAKE IT and I'm going to be simultaneously thinking about the newest season of Better Call Saul, what I'm eating for dinner tonight, when my credit card bill is due, and how itchy my clothes are. I don't do focus real well. So no matter how smart I am, you give me a timed test and that ain't representing my abilities. I'm smart, but tests don't reflect that.

My point here, in this very rambly mess of a post, is that whatever person, test, or idea might have told you that you aren't an intelligent or cognitively adept person may be 100 percent bull.

Also: Wikipedia rules. Literally the first place I go when I have to do any kind of research because it is so broad and it gives me great starting points for finding my own sources!

And Bonus Addendum: please stick around here, your posts are always really on point
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
On this website, I see a lot of senior members telling other members to, in effect, get smarter, study harder, pay closer attention if they want to interrogate or state a position.
If I were seeing this "a lot" on this site, I wouldn't be here nearly as often as I am.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I guess this is my main question:

In regards to the general welfare and prosperity of less educated and less intelligent people, are people of higher education and intelligence likely to make more effective decisions than the less educated, less intelligent people for which they are advocates?
i'm quoting this because i see the OP has changed quite a bit, and likely noone already responding to this thread will see any of the changes.
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
Are you sure that's true? What tests have you done? Has your IQ really been measured at <=100?
I don’t have any numerical proof. It shouldn’t matter but I was a C student. I went to the state college with lowest admission standards where I flunked out. I went to a JC, got reinstated at the state school, started flunking out again, then left school to work at a warehouse. Saw that was a tough life, went back to school, spent my last semester abroad through the University of London and graduated. My BA took me about 8 years.

Can you link to some examples of this please so I know the kinds of posts you mean? About five should suffice.

I’ll try (and post it later) but I’d rather not call specific people out. Someone called me a lazy thinker here just yesterday. I’m good with that. Defining yourself by your intellect is like defining yourself by your hair color or the length of your nose as I hope the research I cited indicates.
Are you sure it's his "misapplication of skepticism" - and the skeptical approach in general - that has led him to a "false conviction" or error?
No. I’ve never spoken to him. Though he is a credentialed scientist who through his research has become a vaccine skeptic. If the vaccine is in fact dangerous then it wouldn’t be a misapplication but an excellent application, and other scientists have misapplied it. If the vaccine is not, then his research led him to a false conclusion which he still holds. That’s all I know.

Could it perhaps be something else?
Sure, it could be. I’m sorry to pull the rug out from under you Rory, but I deleted the references to skepticism in my post earlier because some people seemed thrown off by them. My bad.

Someone is insisting that? I don't read every thread so if they have done so here I have probably missed it.
I guess not. Are people here open to the idea that orthodox skepticism might not be important in shaping a fair and sustainable world? I think most people here are not. But maybe they are, and like I said, I removed skepticism from the post.

I'm not sure what "societal remedies" you're referring to - or who these "many skeptics" are (again, some examples would be useful)
My apologies. Like I said, I took skepticism out. I restated my primary question differently after some thought. The post is bad. But perhaps someone can help me understand the perspective of the intellectual better if I just keep hammering away. My ideas develop more slowly than most people appreciate.
 

econ41

Senior Member
OK - I think I'll wave a flag of interest. And stake out my preliminary "lines in the sand":
I think you'd have to clearly define what you consider to be the opposite of skepticism in order to discuss the relative merits of the subject, wouldn't you?
Yes. Everyone posting here should be well aware of the risks associated with the ambiguity of the definition of terminology. ;)
I guess this is my main question:

In regards to the general welfare and prosperity of less educated and less intelligent people, are people of higher education and intelligence likely to make more effective decisions than the less educated, less intelligent people for which they are advocates?
Potentially yes they are "likely" to be able. BUT my subjective experience and lifetime observations suggest that smart arse clever types can make some monumental stuff ups. So there are both "for" and "against" and I won't guess at the proportions at this early stage of discusion.

EDIT: Readers didn’t like the inclusion of skepticism so I removed it.
OK - my first "smart arse" comment. It is generally considered "bad form" to post edit OPs after anyone has commented.
Looks like an interesting topic for discussion.
Agreed.
And one of the main arguments against that - that one must also have motivation and work ethic and get up and go and not be a lazy bum - well, are they not also traits that one is born with? And if they don't come naturally but one is able to use willpower to overcome laziness/fear/etc - isn't willpower also something we are born with?
IMO "Nature v Nurture" is certain to be part of the discussion.
Are you sure it's his "misapplication of skepticism" - and the skeptical approach in general - that has led him to a "false conviction" or error? Could it perhaps be something else?
AND I don't find skepticism much fun, nor does it make for great human interactions - especially in a world where so many people say so many ill-informed and/or untrue things.
We will need to define how we use the term "scepticism" (if not how we spell it - ;) )
To me scepticism is simply not taking claims/assertions on face value without checking objectively. So that is what I would call "pure scepticism". I sense a pejorative emotive meaning implied in your usage @Rory - an attribution of ill intent or malice to the "sceptic". It shouldn't be a problem provided we know which meaning we intend.
I think learning and applying critical thinking is a wonderful thing to get into; and the kind of skepticism that's employed here - I'd rather term it "investigating and explaining" - should be seen as nothing more than a fun hobby, an exercise for the brain, and a place to test one's skills and wits.
Agreed all four
Wanting anything for society at large seems kind of pointless in my opinion.
Agreed EXCEPT I think "How would I do it if I was in control" is a reasonable target for quality assurance - a benchmark test of claims. A standard to aim for.

k
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
Someone called me a lazy thinker here just yesterday.
That was me, and no, that is not at all what I said, so please don't take that as a personal criticism when it was not meant to be. I called "both-siderism" lazy thinking. That's the "Well, they do it too" kind of argument, one in which an assumption is made that two arguments in a discussion have opposite but equal merit. But this forum exists specifically to examine claims and see if we can figure out where the preponderance of evidence lies.

Skepticism, to me, means that claims should be judged on their merits, because they're not equally balanced. Some are obviously lies, mistakes, or misinterpretations, and I think that Metabunk does a fairly good job of taking a close look at them. Some are a lot more fuzzy and difficult to decide about, but if we can find out what the facts are, we are a lot nearer to a conclusion. Skeptics are the ones who hear a story or claim and think "is that true?", and I've never found it to be the case that, as you implied, people are looked down upon by the average person just for asking that question.
 

econ41

Senior Member
that's fine, just let us know with a quick post if you changed something (so we dont think we are going crazy, when we go back and look for it) :)
I've developed some bad habits from posting on FaceBook because the line feed on FB is CTL ENTER but that combination submits the post on most forums. So, if I make the error and post prematurely I often EDIT the premature posts with a "DRAFT - WORK IN PROGRESS" header .
 

obiwanbenobi

Active Member
I am old enough that I remember times when being intellectual and scholarly was not at all popular. Both of my parents are smart in their own ways, my Dad could have been a more educated person but didn't choose that, alas he's gotten stuck in racism and right-wing radicalisms of various kinds along with several conspiracy theories. If he'd take some time to educate himself about science and math (even a bit of the basics of probability and statistics) he could go a long ways towards digging himself out the rabbit holes... Mom is more emotionally and socially genius level as she can really get along with almost anyone, she's also somewhat racist but not as much as Dad and can generally ignore politics (thank goodness or I could probably not be around her as much as I am).

My own IQ was sold to me as 110, but I wonder because I don't recall particularly caring much about any tests that were given to me at different times during school, but later on I found out that I was in the top of my class in high school and I wasn't really even trying much until the last year and a half. In both Chemistry and Physics in high-school I beat out the valedictorian of the class in the tests the instructor gave (which were exceedingly difficult as in multiple choice questions, but then there was a second layer of multiple choices including combinations and logic tricks and also common mistakes were part of the possible answers so if you even made a slight mistake you could pick wrong). He was a devious teacher and one of the best teachers I've had in my life. I don't know what became of him - perhaps one of the few people from high-school I really enjoyed and was certainly a mentor to me along with a counselor who I could talk to. Both those guys saved me from drugs, alcohol and a lot of emotional stuff, which didn't really get resolved until I was mid-20s). I include all this history to provide some context to my remarks and also to acknowledge those teachers as important to me along with some others too in high-school that were welcome friends at times.

What I wonder about though is what would have happened had I just stuck with the family business and all that. I sure am glad I went the route I did. Construction and contracting was a tough life and the kind of work I was doing was physically oppressive and dangerous.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
That was me, and no, that is not at all what I said, so please don't take that as a personal criticism when it was not meant to be.

it sounded just like an indirect insult. (granted most of your examples were bunk, but still if any reader related to any bits of your examples, then you are insulting them). Indirect or 2nd hand insults are prolific on MB as of late, but i dont really blame you as the moderators aren't doing their job and you are not doing anything you dont see everyone else getting away with on MB.



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Rory

Senior Member.
I don’t have any numerical proof. It shouldn’t matter but I was a C student. I went to the state college with lowest admission standards where I flunked out. I went to a JC, got reinstated at the state school, started flunking out again, then left school to work at a warehouse. Saw that was a tough life, went back to school, spent my last semester abroad through the University of London and graduated. My BA took me about 8 years.

Yeah, academic credentials (or lack of) mean nothing to me: I've been around enough PhDs who seemed to not possess much in the way of common sense or basic understanding of straightforward subjects to have that knocked out of me. And I'm sure we can find a long list of great - and smart - people who flunked out of schools and universities.

I’ll try (and post it later) but I’d rather not call specific people out.

They won't mind if they're true skeptics. ;)

he is a credentialed scientist who through his research has become a vaccine skeptic. If the vaccine is in fact dangerous then it wouldn’t be a misapplication but an excellent application, and other scientists have misapplied it. If the vaccine is not, then his research led him to a false conclusion which he still holds. That’s all I know.

Again, I'm sure we can find a long list of "credentialed scientists" who also held some far out and - to most of us - clearly erroneous views. Off the top of my head Newton springs to mind; no doubt others can furnish more. So being really smart and scientific in certain ways in no safeguard to being really unsmart in others.

Are people here open to the idea that orthodox skepticism might not be important in shaping a fair and sustainable world? I think most people here are not. But maybe they are

I can only speak for myself - but as a non-materialist who feels that mental, emotional and spiritual evolution is probably the only real way to solve the world's problems* - ie, a believer in things many orthodox skeptics knee-jerkedly oppose - then I can say I certainly am open to that.

(*If that's possible; or if it's desirable; or if it's something to do with what life is actually about - but that's another issue.)

My apologies. Like I said, I took skepticism out. I restated my primary question differently after some thought. The post is bad. But perhaps someone can help me understand the perspective of the intellectual better if I just keep hammering away.

Gotcha. Well I hope it's a fruitful and interesting conversation. So the primary question is now this?

With regard to the general welfare and prosperity of less educated and less intelligent people, are people of higher education and intelligence likely to make more effective decisions than the less educated, less intelligent people for which they are advocates?

That's a tough one - but since most politicians are pretty intelligent by general standards then it doesn't appear to be the case.

Really, as far as I can see, there's much more to consider. That most people are a mix of smart and stupid, for example. Or that there are many different kinds of intelligence. Or that making good decisions for others' welfare is probably more likely to be dependent on things like wisdom, altruism and compassion than education and intelligence.

(Boris Johnson might be a good example: he's clearly a very intelligent and highly educated man - but also a massive dumb dumb in lots of ways that much less intelligent people aren't, and it's not like his stint in charge of the UK has done much in the way changing the country for the better.)

I sense a pejorative emotive meaning implied in your usage @Rory - an attribution of ill intent or malice to the "sceptic".

In this sentence?

I don't find skepticism much fun, nor does it make for great human interactions - especially in a world where so many people say so many ill-informed and/or untrue things.

If so, I should clarify and say that what I meant was my own skepticism - ie, the way it affects my interactions with others.
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
Hi! I have no idea what my IQ is, but I can tell you that IQ (the most commonly used test of intelligence, and what I assume you mean here by cognition) is fraught with controversy.
That’s true. Unfortunately there isn’t an adequate metric.
My point here, in this very rambly mess of a post, is that whatever person, test, or idea might have told you that you aren't an intelligent or cognitively adept person may be 100 percent bull.
I think intelligence is a real quality of most living things (if not all to some extent). Nobody told me I was stupid but experience has a way of teaching us where our deficiencies lie relative to our peers. I’m certainly not ashamed of it. The notion that we could all have the potential to be neurosurgeons or quantum physicists seems no different to me than the notion we all could win an NBA title or perform a carrier landing.

I just don’t think intelligence should be revered anymore than someone’s bicep diameter or mile time. And I think people use their intellectual achievements to bolster their convictions about ethics and ideology, particularly since the Internet/social media age. I find a lot of smart people very unpersuasive. And they will tell me I just haven’t listened carefully enough.

Having lower than average intelligence isn’t shameful. But I fear smart people continue to unconsciously shape the world in such a way to make it so. Being smart certainly doesn’t seem to help you be compassionate or loyal or loving or brave. In fact, from my anecdotal experience, a reduction in some traditionally noble qualities often accompanies critical thought.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I think intelligence is a real quality of most living things (if not all to some extent).

We may have to define intelligence at some point. Is a man who can dismantle a non-functioning car engine and put it back together good as new but can't read or write intelligent? Is a high-ranking PhD educated politician adept at understanding complex issues but a dishonest manipulator and thief, an alcoholic, and a disaster in her romantic relationships intelligent?

Nobody told me I was stupid but experience has a way of teaching us where our deficiencies lie relative to our peers. I’m certainly not ashamed of it.

This reminds me of myself: I was told from an early age that I was smarter than everyone else in my school and reality also backed that up. But it could very easily have been down to a number of things, including: a) it wasn't a very good school; or more likely b) I just peaked early and everyone else caught up later. But self-perception and self-identity are formed early and hard to shake once ingrained and the idea, whether remaining true or not, sticks.

You seem to be the opposite case. 100 is average IQ (obviously not the best measure but it's something). I'd would expect you're at least 115 or 120.

(By the way, my exam results were pretty poor and I dropped out of school at 17.)

I just don’t think intelligence should be revered anymore than someone’s bicep diameter or mile time.

That's an interesting comparison because we do revere strength and speed - and other physical characteristics and abilities - and, in general, much more so than we revere intellectual intelligence. Soccer players are paid in the tens of millions and enormous crowds pay large sums to watch them. Not many intellectuals can claim that level of support.

I find a lot of smart people very unpersuasive. And they will tell me I just haven’t listened carefully enough.

What are they trying to persuade you of?

Being smart certainly doesn’t seem to help you be compassionate or loyal or loving or brave. In fact, from my anecdotal experience, a reduction in some traditionally noble qualities often accompanies critical thought.

Agreed.

Having lower than average intelligence isn’t shameful. But I fear smart people continue to unconsciously shape the world in such a way to make it so.

Who is doing that? I don't see that happening. Though, granted, I am somewhat detached from "the world".
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
Again, I'm sure we can find a long list of "credentialed scientists" who also held some far out and - to most of us - clearly erroneous views. Off the top of my head Newton springs to mind; no doubt others can furnish more. So being really smart and scientific in certain ways in no safeguard to being really unsmart in others.
I think this is part of my point. If something like skepticism is so difficult to use (and costly when misused), even for the most intelligent and educated of us, what chance do the rest of us have at using it wisely? Particularly if my intelligence (ability to understand the concept) happens to be low? It doesn’t appear trustworthy in its practical application.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I think this is part of my point. If something like skepticism is so difficult to use (and costly when misused), even for the most intelligent and educated of us, what chance do the rest of us have at using it wisely?

You're going to have to define what you mean by skepticism for me to answer that question. ;)

But, anyway, in the case of someone like Brett Weinstein ("brilliant evolutionary biologist" but Ivermectin pusher and vaccine-phobe) I'd be more interested in their psychological and emotional intelligence rather than their intellectual intelligence.

It doesn't appear to be "skepticism" that's the problem in a case like that but more "the mind behind the skepticism" - same as with just about everything really.
 
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econ41

Senior Member
We may have to define intelligence at some point.
I have found it useful to use an "operational" definition. Topics have an inherent level of complexity. My own specialist topic - WTC 9/11 collapse physics - has number of sub-set topics. And they vary in complexity. And people also vary in the level of complexity (of physics) they can discuss.

The easiest - least complex - sub-topic I identify as "Grade #3" and most typical high school students can comprehend THAT sub topic when explained.

The most complex sub-topic is about Grade #6 and it is one that few academics seem to understand. Or, rather, most who publish seem to get wrong.

So that is the basis of a graqdation scal of complexity. Grades #4 and #5 are intermediate. The important benefit is that "understanding" at the various levels is assessable. "Can he do it" >> "Yes" then he seems clever enough. "No!" >> then he is probably not clever enough.

And we can do that WITHOUT needing to debate either the psychology theory or even whether it is "intelligence". And it bypasses all the issues about "intelligence" differing depending on the topic field it is applied to.

There is one trap that could be contentious. Who decides the complexity level of the topic issues? ;) So it is relative levels NOT absolute objective or quantified. But "relative: or "comparative" is all we need for most of these discussions. IMNSHO.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Having lower than average intelligence isn’t shameful. But I fear smart people continue to unconsciously shape the world in such a way to make it so.
have you seen tik tok or youtube or Facebook or twitter? i assume "smart" people started these companies. :) I'm not seeing lots of shame.
 

econ41

Senior Member
You're going to have to define what you mean by skepticism for me to answer that question.
Yes. As we have already said and should have learned from recent discussions - we need to agree on the terminology. Preferably using standard definitions
It doesn't appear to be "skepticism" that's the problem in cases like this, but more "the mind behind the skepticism" - same as with just about everything really.
Yes.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
what chance do the rest of us have at using it wisely? Particularly if my intelligence (ability to understand the concept) happens to be low?
i think the concept is likely easier for the less "educated" (add: vs. educated who often overthink things way too much):

Trust. but verify.

which sounds sort of opposite to normal usage of skepticism, which is more like "Trust noone. until verified"

But i'm using the above bolded statement for the "less educated" because, in my opinion, the biggest hinderance is the less educated don't
1. know how to -can be taught
2. have the time to -can't be fixed
verify stuff. I think they just want to find someone they can trust so they don't have to "verify" every little thing. That is the real issue, hardworking people with busy lives dont have time to be truly skeptical.
 

econ41

Senior Member
....find someone they can trust so they don't have to "verify" every little thing.
Agreed. And that is how a lot of us operate. I have an informal unwritten list of those who I regard as reliable - several members of this forum on the list. I know them well enough to know which topics I trust them on. And how far to go before their thinking may not align with mine so I need to verify.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Agreed. And that is how a lot of us operate. I have an informal unwritten list of those who I regard as reliable - several members of this forum on the list. I know them well enough to know which topics I trust them on. And how far to go before their thinking may not align with mine so I need to verify.
I trust MB more as a group. The individual people i trust has narrowed quite a bit since i've seen how unreasonable most can be on political issues (<my opinion of course). Can i really trust they have no personal motive in other topics as well, motives that i just didnt recognize at the time because i don't know the subject matter well enough?

But i do still trust the group ego to debunk each other on things like the maths, or where a star is located in the sky at a particular time, flight tracking, built tools, where a column is located in a dirt pile etc. <all the stuff i don't want to learn on my own.
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
Who is doing that? I don't see that happening. Though, granted, I am somewhat detached from "the world".
Maybe nobody. Could be I’m wrong.

If you were best at, say, carrying a heavy load or swinging a hammer you used to be afforded more respect for that and paid better relative to the overall job market than you are today. Today a person whose job it is to understand the interactions of fundamental particles will be paid far better and be more highly esteemed than a warehouse worker. A person who designs software will typically have better health and more leisure time than a road worker. Higher education correlates to higher income and greater opportunity.

I don’t think these changes in status and income are because less educated people prefer it. Modern civilization and its rules and markets appear to be governed by principles and regulations established by educated individuals. The more our lives depend on the accumulation and analysis of data, for instance, (something smart folks love) the easier it becomes to exploit those who don’t understand the data. The present and the future appear to be in the hands of educated people and the disparity in life outcomes between them and less educated people appears to be growing.
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
It doesn't appear to be "skepticism" that's the problem in a case like that but more "the mind behind the skepticism" - same as with just about everything really.
Do you think an intelligent, educated mind has a better shot at using it than a less intelligent, uneducated mind?
 

Rory

Senior Member.
If you were best at, say, carrying a heavy load or swinging a hammer you used to be afforded more respect for that and paid better relative to the overall job market than you are today.

When was that? And where?

I don’t think these changes in status and income are because less educated people prefer it. Modern civilization and its rules and markets appear to be governed by principles and regulations established by educated individuals.

Something along those lines is probably true. It's always struck me as terribly unfair that a solicitor - I think in the US known as a barrister, but not the type that defends clients - can earn hundreds of dollars/pounds for looking over some papers and putting their name to it while others might have to put in a week of hard work to earn the same.

Of course there's training and education and an office and such - but still, there is a disparity.

I don't know if it's about education or intelligence though. Maybe more about power and supply and demand. Soccer players earn much more than solicitors; and they're not generally known for their high levels of intelligence or education. They earn because the people want it and are willing to pay for it. Market forces and all that.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
When was that? And where?
in America. Certainly my grandfathers generation. He was a railroad porter. great pension, they lived i would say upper? middle class.

and even when i was young. the cost of living was much much cheaper, but wages weren't that much less then even today. I actually made more the few years i worked as a housekeeper in the late 80s then my moms crew makes today. (she does give them big xmas bonuses because we both think it's bull what their company pays them).

College wasn't that big a thing still to the bulk of the population when i was young.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Do you think an intelligent, educated mind has a better shot at using [skepticism] than a less intelligent, uneducated mind?

Is it okay if we call it "critical thinking" instead? Or define "skepticism"?

Thinking about what makes someone a good critical thinker, maybe if we list the components to that it will answer your question. In no particular order, just off the top of my head, they would need to:
  • Have the time to devote to investigating a topic (or topics) deeply
  • Have the interest and desire to do so
  • Have good research skills
  • Not be attached to any particular outcome or preconceived belief
  • Have the notion to begin with that there was something to investigate (eg, something I notice when smart people I know share things that I know aren't true is that it hasn't even occurred to them to fact check them)
  • Be somewhat geeky and/or obsessive and maybe possess the type of mind that values knowledge or information above human interaction
Other people can list other things. But having done that it doesn't seem to me that the most important component is one based on intelligence or education, it seems more about what one finds interesting and having the time to dive in - and perhaps the final point is one of the most key too.

Still, I suppose anything is "easier" ("has a better shot" at success) if one is smart rather than not smart and educated rather than not educated - as long we we're not referring to education solely as "academic, institutional education" (one can learn as much with a library card as on a degree course - depending on the degree).
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
a solicitor - I think in the US known as a barrister, but not the type that defends clients
off topic info:
maybe a paralegal here. i know they can prepare documents, not sure if they can put their names to it. They have to work under lawyers directly, they are basically secretaries. ie. they do all the hard work and get paid way less then the lawyer. But it does tend to save the client money.

What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney? It is helpful to remember that all attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. The major difference is that attorneys can represent clients in court and other legal proceedings, while lawyers cannot.
Content from External Source
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Other people can list other things. But having done that it doesn't seem to me that the most important component is one based on intelligence or education, it seems more about what one finds interesting and having the time to dive in - and perhaps the final point is one of the most key too.
think it depends on what you need to be skeptical about.
ex if i was a 9/11 truther or anti-vaxxer it might be hard for me to have the "intelligence" to really investigate it properly. you know how tricky reading medical papers can be. etc.

maybe even flat earth. i still think the best way for a laymen to debunk that is your example of go way up high and use a level over the ocean and youll see the curve. Other than that i dont know if i would truly grasp the science without trusting the MB guys.

That's why i think it is so important for ALL political affiliations to be able to trust MB. Otherwise they would never know about your experiment.
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
When was that? And where?
You don’t think the importance of being able to harvest and haul the materials to build your own home, for instance, was greater on the American frontier than it is today? Or the importance of defending yourself and your property? These things required a certain amount of physical strength and toughness that modern life requires less with each passing day. I don’t think many would argue that the public standing of the man in town who could fell a tree the fastest, regardless of his education, has plummeted over time.

Soccer players earn much more than solicitors; and they're not generally known for their high levels of intelligence or education. They earn because the people want it and are willing to pay for it. Market forces and all that.

Most professional athletes (including soccer players) make a living wage. Top athletes at the highest levels are paid well due to gate and broadcast revenue that is generated by the patronage of largely working class spectators who love physical sport. The majority of this money goes to the league franchise owners who are usually well educated and/or independently wealthy.

I don’t deny that there are a handful of high paying jobs that don’t require higher education. But overall income correlates to education. It also correlates closely to IQ, as the study, and Wikipedia, indicate.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
in America. Certainly my grandfathers generation. He was a railroad porter. great pension, they lived i would say upper? middle class.

That's awesome. Upper-middle class in the UK means having a large house and probably at least one other property, several nice family holidays a year, plenty of disposable income, and all the kids go to the best and most expensive private schools and get to do and have everything they can think of.

Definitely the good old days if railroad porters were able to provide that standard of living for their families.

You don’t think the importance of being able to harvest and haul the materials to build your own home, for instance, was greater on the American frontier than it is today?

I didn't offer any thoughts on it. I just wondered what timeframe you were referring to. Not everything I say is skeptical. ;)

Though "American frontier" is very localised and you originally said "overall job market". So I guess we would have to look at what was going on in Europe or the Eastern US at the time and compare.

Most professional athletes (including soccer players) make a living wage.

The UK living wage is £9.50 per hour whereas at the fifth tier of English soccer (the lowest professional level) players earn an average of £1000-£1500 per week.

The majority of this money goes to the league franchise owners

The owners of UK teams probably don't make much if any money unless they actually sell the team. More likely they lose money. Hence the saying "if you want to earn a small fortune owning a football team start with a large fortune."

But overall income correlates to education. It also correlates closely to IQ, as the study, and Wikipedia, indicate.

True: it's definitely a lot easier to make money if one has smarts. Though I just use mine to work less. ;)
 
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NoParty

Senior Member.
That was me, and no, that is not at all what I said, so please don't take that as a personal criticism when it was not meant to be. I called "both-siderism" lazy thinking. That's the "Well, they do it too" kind of argument, one in which an assumption is made that two arguments in a discussion have opposite but equal merit. But this forum exists specifically to examine claims and see if we can figure out where the preponderance of evidence lies.

Skepticism, to me, means that claims should be judged on their merits, because they're not equally balanced. Some are obviously lies, mistakes, or misinterpretations, and I think that Metabunk does a fairly good job of taking a close look at them. Some are a lot more fuzzy and difficult to decide about, but if we can find out what the facts are, we are a lot nearer to a conclusion. Skeptics are the ones who hear a story or claim and think "is that true?", and I've never found it to be the case that, as you implied, people are looked down upon by the average person just for asking that question.
It was actually 4 days ago...I went back and re-read your comments about
"both-siderism." They were dead on and, in my opinion, not insulting to any particular person.
 
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econ41

Senior Member
a solicitor - I think in the US known as a barrister, but not the type that defends clients ...
off topic info:
maybe a paralegal here. i know they can prepare documents,
The term "barrister" comes from the British common law tradition. Which carried through into the legal practice of Commonwealth countries. The "solicitor" was - still is - the licensed professional first point of contact for a lay person client. Solicitors could not originally appear in criminal court actions. The "barrister" was engaged if a matter went to criminal jurisdiction court. Or more serious civil litigation. The distinction has since been abolished in AU and I think most other Commonwealh jurisdicions.
What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney? It is helpful to remember that all attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. The major difference is that attorneys can represent clients in court and other legal proceedings, while lawyers cannot.
Content from External Source
That is analogous to the former UK and AU practice if we change the words. "attorney" >> "barrister" and "lawyer" >> "solicitor". The distinction has be en discontinued. And they are all "lawyers" which is the genric label
 

Woolery

Banned
Banned
Is it okay if we call it "critical thinking" instead? Or define "skepticism"?
Sure. Whatever you like.

Other people can list other things. But having done that it doesn't seem to me that the most important component is one based on intelligence or education, it seems more about what one finds interesting and having the time to dive in - and perhaps the final point is one of the most key too.
This is where we fundamentally disagree. I strongly associate any kind of thinking with intelligence, particularly critical thinking (the objective evaluation and analysis of issues) and consider intelligence its most important component.

I think it’s a romantic notion to think that anybody can learn to think critically. I just don’t see evidence of that. I can’t think critically. Every thought I have is wrapped up in some preconceived notion or swayed by some perceived indignancy or narrowed by my own selfish preferences. And it’s taken me nearly all my adult life just to recognize as much, let alone do anything about it.

You all say you can think critically, I’ll take your word for it (unless you’re one of the members here I’ve seen be as petty as myself). But those who assert that anybody can learn to think critically run the risk of not addressing the real vulnerabilities of less intelligent people, other than to say “study harder.” Until the stigma surrounding cognitive differences is removed and we’re free to evaluate them objectively, those who were simply unlucky in terms of genetics and environment will continue to face exploitation and miserable frustration in a data-driven world without practical recourse or hope of relief.

I didn't offer any thoughts on it. I just wondered what timeframe you were referring to. Not everything I say is skeptical. ;)

Though "American frontier" is very localised and you originally said "overall job market". So I guess we would have to look at what was going on in Europe or the Eastern US at the time and compare.

I’m not sure I do Rory. I’m fairly comfortable in saying that man power, much like literal horse power has become less of a valuable commodity with the introduction of more powerful machinery and industrial techniques.
The UK living wage is £9.50 per hour whereas at the fifth tier of English soccer (the lowest professional level) players earn an average of £1000-£1500 per week.
I meant living wage as a wage generally high enough to maintain a normal standard of living. I didn’t know it was an exact figure. USL players in the US make 43K a year according to zip recruiter (https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/USL-Soccer-Salary). I can’t find official salary data for
The NISA which is a lower level fully pro US league but the Reddit posts indicate it’s typically 10-15K a year. I don’t even know how to research the semi-pros here. I’m very surprised that in the UK there aren’t any smaller semi-pro clubs than fifth-tier English soccer. I’m not sure how any of this changes anything unless you’re making the case that non-college graduates earn similar salaries to college graduates.

The owners of UK teams probably don't make much if any money unless they actually sell the team. More likely they lose money. Hence the saying "if you want to earn a small fortune owning a football team start with a large fortune."
That’s tantamount to saying an investor is throwing away his money until he sells stock and realizes his capital gains. That’s not losing money, it’s investing it. But I’m beat. You win. Pity the owner who selflessly runs his billion dollar club (Manchester United is worth 1.8 billion pounds I think), and we should all be as lucky as the low level athlete making 15-40K a year until he injures himself or reaches his mid-thirties and has to make a career move without the benefit of a higher education.

I love you Rory (I truly do—you’re a good egg), but I’m finished.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Using "big words" does not automatically imply elitism/intellectual arrogance or a need to demonstrate any manner of superiority. Nor does being colloquial and simple always imply humility.

Using "big words" also doesn't imply being intelligent nor being colloquial imply being less.

And being educated or not is the furthest thing from a reliable measure of intelligence.

I think @Woolery is absolutely on point in saying that sometimes the 'skeptical tribe' (if I may) attracts individuals who're less interested in truth than they are in feeling smarter than others. To belong to a group where there's a sort of group identity of being the smart ones ridiculing either overtly or covertly the stupider or the more gullible types. Seeking this type of self-serving emotional payoff (of feeling special and smarter) can sometimes create toxicity, unnecessary divisiveness and inability to reflect on one's own biases and blind spots.

And hence is not helpful to the otherwise laudable discussions we have here on MB amongst the members.
 
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