Not the cognitive elite

According to Murray, in the bad old days of elitism, the university was full of good old boys, rather than the smartest, but now, our elite are a bunch of really smart guys.

Leading climate scientist Michael Mann and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman are really smart guys? The guys who write the New York Times are really smart?

A university selects for diligence, intelligence, ability to follow orders, and willingness to follow orders, thus a degree signals these things to employers, and a high degree from an elite university signals more of these things to employers. It also, however, selects for political correctness, or the well simulated appearance of political correctness, and as the left has become ever lefter, political correctness has increasingly become a signal of stupidity, real or pretended.

Who is the most influential scientist?

Michael Mann, a Yale PhD, who does not have enough brains to know when he is telling lies with statistics, and who has his students and employees perform any task that is intellectually demanding.

Once upon a time, the left position was arguably clever and sophisticated. By and by, it became more a collection of elaborate and extremely clever rationalizations for propositions that were quite stupid. Galbraith, Gould,and Chomsky were great rationalizers for obviously stupid propositions. Quote any of Chomsky’s conclusions without the very clever lead up, he sounds like a monkey flinging $#!%. But there was a very clever lead up.

However, as leftism has become increasingly stupid, barefaced assertion has replaced clever rationalization. This transition is visible in the career of Paul Krugman, his Nobel prize winning work being clever rationalizations for politically desired stupid conclusions, his recent work being mere proclamations of holy dogma.

Observe the response by the KOS tribe to some guy making the point that Muslims have all the characteristics that the left attribute to Christians:   It is a troop of monkeys flinging their $#!% from the trees.

OK, that troop of monkeys is merely the rank and file leftists, not necessarily Harvard PhDs, (though chances are that quite a lot of them are Harvard PhDs, with advanced degrees in education and victim studies). Surely the leadership is, however, a lot smarter?

Well yes, the leadership is smarter, but that does not actually make them smart. Here is one of the top monkeys flinging his $#!% from his tree.

This is the cognitive elite?

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37 Responses to “Not the cognitive elite”

  1. Matt says:

    Most people have moral problems, not cognitive ones. The smart are no exception, they just build better word-forts.

  2. nydwracu says:

    They’re one step below the cognitive elite, I suspect. The most intelligent people I know (STEM majors, mostly) are all either rightists or libertarians, but the ones below them (either humanities majors or second-rate STEM majors aiming for a government job) all seem to read the Guardian and NYT religiously.

    Why would anyone in the cognitive elite ever take a job shilling for the establishment? Is the pay is good enough to justify feigning such blatant ignorance? (I’d look for statistics on whether there are cognitive strata above the priesthood, but I have no idea where to look, and I don’t currently have access to technology that can do much beyond tapping out blog comments anyway.)

  3. Lemniscate says:

    I’m a postgraduate student at the University of Cambridge, and I’m at one of the most progressive colleges. The most enthusiastic progressives are not usually the smartest people; in fact, I’d say that they’re often some of the stupidest. They’re the ones doing progressive degrees: urban planning, environmental stuff, feminist literature, etc. These degrees seem to exist as ‘affirmative action’ for enthusiastic progressives. You do get a significant number of hardcore progressives doing courses like theoretical physics, but you don’t really see any non-progressives doing progressive degrees.

    King’s college ironically prides itself on its progressiveness, and because of this it doesn’t do as well academically as it could: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tompkins_Table. Being one of the most desirable colleges, it could select the smartest candidates, but it selects the most progressive.

    The only weakness in this system I’ve identified is they let a lot of very smart non-progressives study genetics.

    • jim says:

      This is a pretty clear example of failure to sort out the cognitive elite. The ruling elite recruit bunch of rather ordinary people on political grounds rather than ability, and then create special dumbed down courses for them.

      The question then is to what extent the regular courses are affected. It appears to me that computer science has been dumbed down to accommodate women, and possibly to accommodate progressives.

      • Lemniscate says:

        Surely this is a statistical inevitability if you have two rare traits that are not perfectly correlated; i.e., the smartest people are unlikely to be the most progressive, and the most progressive people are unlikely to be the smartest. You can’t simply make the smartest the most progressive, although government schools and universities certainly try damn hard.

        I reckon the accommodation of women has had a greater affect on the least political courses. I doubt there’s much screening of political predilections for mathematics at Cambridge, but you can bet they’d get excoriated in the press if they didn’t have enough women to appease the progressives.

        They’re trying to bring racial affirmative action to Oxford now: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/dec/18/black-students-oxford-university-rises?INTCMP=SRCH. Only one black person was admitted the year before, which is of course unacceptable…I pretty much never see a black person the Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge; that’ll probably have to change soon too.

  4. Bill says:

    What does smart mean to you? Harvard PhDs have IQs around 140. They are smart by any reasonable definition. And hard-working, cooperative, dependable, diligent, civil, and charming when need be. Dishonest, destructive, amoral, and mindlessly conformist as well, but definitely smart.

    Lemniscate says:
    Why would anyone in the cognitive elite ever take a job shilling for the establishment? Is the pay is good enough to justify feigning such blatant ignorance?

    You are either very rich, very uninterested in money, or pretty clueless/young. Larry Summers makes tens of millions of dollars per year giving speeches to Wall St types. It is utterly routine for social scientists inside the relevant charmed circle to make $1000+/hr in consulting work (with precious little monitoring of whether or not they are putting in the hours). If you are inside the charmed circle and your get-rick-quick scheme starts to go wobbly (Long Term Capital Management), the gvt swoops in and saves you. If you are inside the charmed circle, then, once in a while, you get to loot a supine country (Andrei Schleifer & friends and Russia). If you are inside the charmed circle, then you get paid $50,000 to sign your name to some scam company’s PR piece (Krugman and Enron) and when it comes out that you did this, absolutely nothing happens to you. It is very good indeed to be inside the charmed circle.

    Jim claims these guys are not smart, but what bad thing is going to happen to them as a result of their actions? No bad thing. Look at Donald Kennedy, who, as president of Stanford, got caught stealing from the federal government. Did he go to jail? Lose his tenure? Lose his reputation? No, today he is a world renowned expert (translation: paid a lot of money to give talks and consult) on academic integrity (NOT making it up). Worst comes to worst, they emigrate and live off their foreign accounts.

    Saying obviously false things is not proof of stupidity. Making laughably bad arguments is not proof of stupidity. Driving the bus they are on over the cliff is not proof of stupidity—as long as they can jump off as necessary. Andrei Schleifer’s life is not fucked up because he helped loot Russia. Russians’ lives are fucked up because he helped loot Russia. They are wicked, not stupid.

    On the other hand, James Watson, surely one of the greatest scientists of the 20th C, lost his job and his reputation for one politically incorrect comment, despite emitting a pathetically humiliating apology. John Lott has never had a real job in academia despite having a cv which would have gotten any more pliable person an endowed chair.

    These days, most people getting PhDs in the social sciences are pretty clueless. They either actually believe the BS or have learned not to think about certain things. They either cannot think critically or have learned not to turn that skill loose on certain subjects. But this does not apply to the guys at the tops of their classes at the big 5 schools (HPY, Chicago, Stanford). They can’t not know. The guy driving the bus has to know what the road looks like. Plus, they tip their hands every once in a while.

    So, yeah, they are paid plenty to tow the line.

    • Bill says:

      I apologize. I misattributed the quote in my comment. It came from nydwracu, not from Lemniscate.

    • jim says:

      What does smart mean to you? Harvard PhDs have IQs around 140. They are smart by any reasonable definition. And hard-working, cooperative, dependable, diligent, civil, and charming when need be. Dishonest, destructive, amoral, and mindlessly conformist as well, but definitely smart.

      PhDs in STEM fields from non Ivy League universities also have IQs around 140. So Ivy League is smart, but not the cognitive elite, merely the political elite – the powerful among smart people, not the smart among smart people.

      Reading the climategate files, Michael Mann is smart compared to average people. He is not as smart as the people he gives orders to. Michael Mann is a Harvard PhD in a STEM field, and is the most powerful and important scientist in the world, and he is not quite smart enough to do STEM topics, whereas the people under him, the people he gives orders to, are smart enough to do STEM topics. Climate Science is run by people equivalent to Dilbert’s pointy haired boss. Like Dilbert’s boss, smarter than the man in the street, but not the cognitive elite because not as smart as Dilbert.

      Making laughably bad arguments is not proof of stupidity.

      Actually it is proof of stupidity. Even if one is arguing cynically in a bad cause, one makes arguments that are targeted at people of one’s own intellectual level. The word for arguments that are smart, but deliberately and cleverly fallacious is “sophistic”. The left’s arguments used to be sophistic, used to be clever arguments for clever people arguing for wicked and wrong causes. Krugman and the New York Times are increasingly making arguments that not sophistic, that are stupid and wrong rather than clever and wrong, or, as in “We are the one percent”, not even wrong.

      • Bill says:

        Michael Mann is a Harvard PhD in a STEM field, and is the most powerful and important scientist in the world, and he is not quite smart enough to do STEM topics

        Michael Mann is probably stupid or lazy or both. I seem to have a lower opinion of him than you do, even. His statistical incompetence is mind-boggling, especially given that he presents himself as the stats geek of the climate science world.

        But. He got BS and MS in physics and then a PhD in geophysics. That is, he switched fields between his MS and PhD. Switching at this point towards an easier discipline is usually a sign that you couldn’t hack it in the harder discipline. Then, he went into an interdisciplinary field, climate science. Interdisciplinary fields are generally worthless. Climate science is indisputably worthless. Failures are funneled into interdisciplinary fields. So, I don’t think he is a counterexample. It’s possible that there is something I don’t understand about Harvard’s setup which makes the physics-to-geophysics transition not a signal, but the interdisciplinary thing is pure poison.

        These rules, that switching towards an easier field is a signal of incompetence and that practicing in an interdisciplinary field (which George Stigler memorably called non-disciplinary fields) is a signal of incompetence, are general rules. I did not make them up to explain Michael Mann.

        Furthermore, you have to understand that admitting people to graduate school is hard. Most graduate students you admit you end up wishing you hadn’t. I meant the qualification “top students” in my comment. Michael Mann is likely dumb. But he isn’t a top student. He’s a failure in his home discipline of physics, or at least that’s what his record suggests.

        • jim says:

          [Michael Mann] got BS and MS in physics and then a PhD in geophysics. That is, he switched fields between his MS and PhD. Switching at this point towards an easier discipline is usually a sign that you couldn’t hack it in the harder discipline. Then, he went into an interdisciplinary field, climate science. Interdisciplinary fields are generally worthless.

          When you are on the right track in Harvard, they never fail you out, no matter how dimwitted you prove to be. Michael Mann’s academic path is, as you say, indicative of someone just not smart enough to do science – first not smart enough to do physics, then not smart enough to do geophysics, which is pretty much the impression I got reading the climategate files: that he is Dilbert’s pointy haired boss.

          So this is indicative of elite universities failing to separate out the cognitive elite. Had he been doing physics in a low status community college, the outcome would have been “Can’t do physics? Fail! Out you go.”

          Similarly, if a black guy has a computer science degree from a historically black college, he can probably program, he can probably do the job that one would expect from his accreditation. If a black guy has a computer science degree from an elite university, probably cannot.

          Michael Mann is likely dumb. But he isn’t a top student. He’s a failure in his home discipline of physics, or at least that’s what his record suggests.

          Well yes: And he is a Harvard Science PhD and the world’s most influential scientist. He is the elite. And he is not the cognitive elite.

          Had he been going to a less elite university, failure in his home discipline of physics would have resulted in a fail. So those who pass from less elite universities are more the cognitive elite than those who pass from Harvard.

      • Bill says:

        Even if one is arguing cynically in a bad cause, one makes arguments that are targeted at people of one’s own intellectual level.

        Recall the scene from Holy Grail in which King Arthur asks the French Knights if they want to help him find the Grail, and they respond that they already have one. They are snickering all the while amongst themselves — around 1:35 here. This is a ridiculous argument and a transparent lie. But who is the dummy in that scene?

        Recall also the essentially universal testimony of normal, intelligent people confronted with commie bureaucrats. They are shocked that the commie bureaucrats say such ridiculous things, such bold and idiotic lies, such absurd and pointless arguments. Who is the dummy in those interactions?

        The French are saying “fuck you” to Arthur in a particularly belittling way. The commie bureaucrats are saying “I have power and you do not” in a particularly belittling way. You are so weak, so beneath me that I don’t even condescend to pretend to try to trick you.

        So, telling bad lies and making bad arguments is not proof of stupidity. The person making the bad argument may not be trying to convince via the substance of the argument—instead the argument may merely be an expression of disdain or a demand for submission. A good argument is a worse tool for this purpose than is a bad argument. Krugman does not need to convince anyone of anything via the substance of his arguments. He is a Prince, and there is nothing you can do about it . . .

        • jim says:

          So, telling bad lies and making bad arguments is not proof of stupidity. The person making the bad argument may not be trying to convince via the substance of the argument—instead the argument may merely be an expression of disdain or a demand for submission

          Possibly Krugman is intelligent, but making bad arguments out of the arrogance of power. On the other hand, you argue that Michael Mann’s academic record indicates he is not capable of a STEM field, which is what I had concluded from the climategate files. Like Dilbert’s point haired boss, he is overly dependent on his subordinates for anything difficult.

          You suggest that non disciplinary fields are created by the elite universities to accommodate and credential those who go into STEM but cannot handle it. Victim studies and education degrees are pretty obviously dumping grounds for the none too bright. Lemniscate tells us that progressives are “the ones doing progressive degrees: urban planning, environmental stuff, feminist literature”

          This is the opposite of Murray’s thesis that universities are now efficiently sorting out the cognitive elite. Instead, the dimwitted are being given accreditation on political grounds. The truly dim do feminist literature, the rather ordinary do urban planning and interdisciplinary studies. Even objectively tough courses, such as computer science, are dumbed down so that today holding a computer science degree from an elite university is not evidence of ability to program.

          • Lemniscate says:

            I would count climate science as a progressive degree, although I don’t think there’s any reason in principle why it would have to be, unlike urban planning, environmental management, feminist literature, etc. Certain disciplines are born progressives, others are made progressive.

            I think Bill is being harsh on interdisciplinary fields. Sure, some of them are non-sense, but there is a genuine need for certain ones. The biological sciences, for example, are becoming much more mathematical and computational, and they need talented mathematicians and computer scientists to cross disciplines. Would you call Eric Lander a failure in his discipline?

          • Bill says:

            It’s not the opposite! It’s the sorting mechanism in action. To get into Harvard, you need to pass tests for IQ, conscientiousness, and pliability. Once there, you are sorted according to the abilities you reveal in person. Micheal Mann is not a member of the elite. He failed. He is what failure looks like. He does interdisciplinary crap at flipping Penn State! He’s a cog. If you want to know whether our current elite is a cognitive elite or not using Michael Mann, you have to compare him to similar cogs in other elites. That comparison is going to reveal that our elite is a cognitive elite, because similar cogs in other elites are likely to be overt thugs or retarded younger brothers of Dukes.

            To use your phrase from an earlier conversation, he is a speaker not a microphone. If Michael Mann changed his mind tomorrow on global warming, what would the effect be? Nothing. He is a zero, and he knows he is a zero. Interdisciplinary fields tend to float on grant money. We know climate science and Michael Mann float on grant money. He says what the guys holding the money want him to say, and if he stops, he is done.

            If Larry Summers, who ain’t even a climate scientist, came out hard against global warming tomorrow, deniers would get strange new respect tout de suite.

            • jim says:

              Micheal Mann is not a member of the elite. He failed. He is what failure looks like. He does interdisciplinary crap at flipping Penn State! He’s a cog. … similar cogs in other elites are likely to be overt thugs or retarded younger brothers of Dukes.

              Reading the climategate files, it is apparent that other scientists are terrified of him, that he wields a lot of power – much as the younger brother of the duke would wield a lot of power in other systems.

              Similarly Dilbert’s dimwitted boss is merely a cog – but that cog is in charge of Dilbert.

              Murray argues that the ruling elite is culturally homogeneous because they are selected for being smart people. On the contrary, they are culturally homogeneous because they are selected for cultural homogeneity, among other things. A smart white kid from flyover country is not going to get in.

              The Royal family and high nobility of the Ashantee empire were about as smart as the average English gentlemen, which makes them a hell of a lot smarter than the average Ashantee, but we don’t call them the cognitive elite because a smart commoner would not be able to get in – he would wind up taking orders from the dimwitted younger brother of the duke, much as the relatively smart Briffa winds up taking orders from the dimwitted Mann.

          • nydwracu says:

            My question would be: which universities? It’s obvious that Harvard isn’t sorting out the cognitive elite, but the real cognitive elite tend not to be part of the political establishment. I doubt liberal arts colleges do; I go to a rather good one, and I’m not at all impressed. MIT and Caltech, on the other hand, could most likely pull it off, unless they’ve got a pointy-haired hippie pulling the strings, forcing them to accommodate more to the political elite.

  5. spandrell says:

    It’s one thing that the elite as a whole is getting smarter; not necessarily meaning that the more conspicuous members of the elite are the smartest among the smart.
    Uber-smart people don’t stand out, you need to be a social attention whore to get in the spotlight.

    • jim says:

      Victim studies courses and education courses would suggest the elite as a whole is getting dumber – that universities are not efficiently sorting people by intelligence, that the accredited elite is not the cognitive elite.

      When we compare past exams with present exams, past exams look pretty tough. Snopes argues that it is merely that the syllabus has changed – that past students would not do well on modern tests either. Changes of syllabus make it hard to compare tests, but let us look at STEM fields, where reality nails the syllabus down hard. The hardest routine common task in computer science is pointer arithmetic, being mindful of the difference between stack based and heap based pointers, and, when interfacing between languages, or different kinds of dlls, the difference between pointers based on different heaps. Today, you can graduate with an advanced degree in computer science, knowing all kinds of stuff about functional programming and recursive descent languages, and not be able to program. If today’s computer science graduate has to code review an algorithm involving pointers to pointers, his head explodes. An advanced degree in computer science from a prestigious university is not in practice a useful filter to ascertain whether a job candidate can actually do the job.

      If people can graduate computer science, without ever having had to manage any tricky pointers and indirection, accreditation is not indicative of the cognitive elite. The elite is not getting smarter.

      Software engineering jobs need smart people, and elite accreditation in computer science is not a reliable indicator that someone is capable of doing software engineering. Therefore, accreditation is not accurately selecting a cognitive elite. If elite accreditation in computer science is not a reliable indication that someone is actually smart, elite accreditation in education or victim studies is likely to be a reliable indication that someone is stupid enough to not question any lies he is told.

      It used to be that the elite knew Latin, and knowing Latin was a reliable indicator of both intelligence and elite status. That today’s elite no longer know Latin is not an indicator that they are stupid, merely a syllabus change. That today’s elite computer science graduates do not know pointers and indirection does indicate that they are stupid. It is not just a syllabus change, but dumbing down.

      Similarly, when I was a kid, part of the science course was the scientific method. Back then, the scientific method was taught to children before they went to university. Today, the scientific method is no longer taught even in university. That represents a fundamental dumbing down.

      • spandrell says:

        I’m one of those who still knows Latin, and haven’t crossed the Atlantic, so correct me if I’m wrong.
        The Ivy League does ask for a pretty high SAT for entrance, doesn’t it? They may fail to teach them anything of use, but there’s a IQ threshold to be a member of the elite.

        It’s not about simply being a college grad, Computer science grads aren’t the elite, unless they make a lot of money and love Obama.

        • jim says:

          The Ivy League does ask for a pretty high SAT for entrance, doesn’t it?

          Not necessarily. The SAT is one factor among many, and it is difficult to ascertain how low they will go. SAT is, more or less, IQ, and if they simply selected on the basis of SAT, then indeed the academies with the highest required SAT score would definitely be the cognitive elite – but that is not the way they do it, and it is hard to find out what they are actually doing is.

          • Bill says:

            Ugh. Harvard’s 25th to 75th percentile range on the math SAT is 700 to 790. On reading, it is 710 to 800. These are 93-99th percentile and 96-99th percentile, respectively on the SAT overall. So the guy at the 25th percentile of Harvard’s incoming freshman class has an SAT score at something like the 95th percentile. If SAT takers had the same IQ distribution as American whites, he would have an IQ around 125. The guy at the 75th percentile would have an IQ around 145. These are underestimates, because SAT takers are selected for IQ to begin with. An estimate for the median Harvard undergraduate IQ of 140 is very reasonable.

            There are a bunch of minorities and legacies in the bottom 25% which probably bring the mean (as opposed to the median) down some, but so what? Harvard undergrads are smart (top 1 or 2 % smart), the grad students are smarter, the PhD recipients are smarter still.

            Your complaint is really that they are not bold, creative, independent thinkers. And this is true. They are heavily selected for conscientiousness and pliability which pushes them towards a lack of boldness, creativity, and independence. But that is different from IQ.

          • davver says:

            What Bill says. Murray is comparing Harvard today to Harvard circa 1950. Harvard circa 1950 wasn’t even trying to get the smartest kids, just the most recent exeter grads with the right last names. By any measure the vast majority of Harvard grads will be in the top 5% of IQ. The class of 1950 wouldn’t even be close to that. We can quible all day about weather the absolute best and brightest are all members of Harvard. Harvard doesn’t give a shit. It dips its hand in roughly the top couple of % IQ wise, throws it at the wall, and sees who ends up foudning facebook or becomming president.

            • jim says:

              By any measure the vast majority of Harvard grads will be in the top 5% of IQ. The class of 1950 wouldn’t even be close to that.

              Ah yes, the horrible evil bad old days when white males got ahead just for being white males, aristocratic lads got ahead of regular white males, and dinosaurs walked the earth. Obviously back in those horrid wicked evil bad old days they cannot have been very bright. (I am being sarcastic)

              If group X is, on average, smarter and better than group Y, one will obtain a more capable of elite by granting preferment to members of group X, because test scores are in various ways unreliable, just as group membership is unreliable, so one take into account both test scores and group membership – as allegedly people did in the 1950s.

              But, in fact, if you check what actually happened, back in the 1950s they did not give significant preferment to members of superior groups. They relied on test scores, probably more so than now, for today membership of victim groups and purported political beliefs are also taken into account. To go back to a time when they performed the optimum method, relying on both group membership and test scores, when whites were preferred over blacks at the same test score, and aristocratic whites over regular whites, you need to go all the way back to at least 1890, possibly earlier, not 1950.

              Relying primarily on test scores, as they did in the 1950s, should have produced a more elite elite than today, and it looks to me that it did.

              Relying on both membership of superior groups and also test scores, as they arguably did in the 1890s, and certainly did in the 1870s, should have produced a more elite elite than in the 1950s, and it looks to me, that back then it did produce a more elite ruling elite.

              The Chinese selected the Mandarins by open examination, and Woleseley, a critic of aristocratic preferment in the British army, upon meeting members of the mandarinate noted that open examination seemed to produce a Chinese elite that sucked mightily – that the Chinese mandarinate was a piss poor advertisement for his belief in “merit” (aka test score) based preferment.

              And today we do not even have a Mandarinate, for correct politics, (pliability), and victim group membership counts for quite a lot.

          • Zach says:

            If a high status college, such has Harvard, only allowed the highest SAT scores in, then my guess is very close to nothing would change. You’d get all the same stupid, with more clever rationalizations.

            As things are now they are getting more dumb people to graduate, but this doesn’t mean they are getting less smart people to.

            Ben Bernanke scored a 1590 on his SAT, if wiki is to be believed. Krugman is probably intelligent, but certainly he is wrong.

            There is something else at play here. The real question is why are the elite so stupid? And as far as I can tell, you’ve been talking about this for a long time.

            The ignorance today is not a cognitive issue.

            • jim says:

              If a high status college, such has Harvard, only allowed the highest SAT scores in, then my guess is very close to nothing would change. You’d get all the same stupid, with more clever rationalizations.

              If it only allowed the highest SAT scores in, then it would not be able to give preference to those are politically correct, or plausibly pretend to be politically correct, nor would it be able to give preference to those that share the elite culture and outlook, thus would be exposed to the chill wind of outside ideas.

              There is something else at play here.

              Yes. They make themselves stupid, rather than naturally being stupid. And why do they make themselves stupid?

              What is at play are the natural and inevitable dynamics of consensus: See my post Stultum facit fortuna Consensus always and necessarily winds up converging on madness and evil.

          • Zach says:

            In error, and after I gutted a much longer initial post, I left in “more clever rationalizations” and “As things are now they are getting more dumb people to graduate, but this doesn’t mean they are getting less smart people to.”

            This should have confused anybody reading it. Long day. A little boozy.

            I endorse the idea of SAT, IQ or some other testing as means to entry and only letting those results speak to the ability of the individual without outside influence. I just don’t think that will stop the smart from acting stupid, as you said.

            I will look at the link presented.

            As is often the case with blog posts, the comment section is often times where the meat is.

      • Matthew says:

        Pointers are for C and C++.

        Those languages are not used for writing enterprise applications or web applications, which constitute the bulk of programming work today.

        There is still very “hard” work to do in programming — it is now concentrated in generating good data models and writing correct SQL. But the bulk of software development these days has no need for pointers.

        • jim says:

          Well, perhaps pointer arithmetic has gone the way of Latin, but code that gets installed on large numbers of machines, shrink wrapped software, operating system software, utilities, and suchlike, is still largely written in C and C++, and the pointer issues in such code have become more complex, not less complex, because of the need to interface with garbage collected memory.

  6. Zach says:

    Bill had mentioned this scene:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSo0duY7-9s

    It’s pretty funny.

    (sorry no fancy links)

  7. Ian says:

    Krugman’s blue-eyed-fair-skinned-but-african-american-identified wife Robin Wells apparently does a fair amount of the political slanting of his writings:

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/02/mr-and-mrs-krugman.html

  8. Bruce Charlton says:

    I don’t know what you think of this tiny bit of very simple analysis I did a few years ago

    http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2009/05/do-elite-us-colleges-choose-personality.html

    But I found it completely convincing evidence that elite US colleges are NOT selecting PRIMARILY on the basis of IQ.

    • jim says:

      You are insufficiently cynical: In computer science they are simply graduating females who they would have simply failed had they been males. If that is happening in computer science, I suspect it is happening generally. The simplest explanation is that being a member of victim group is worth one or two grade point levels, and females are the largest victim group.

  9. Bruce Charlton says:

    “You are insufficiently cynical”

    Agreed – this was 2008 when I wrote the paper. I hope I have learned better since.

    As a general rule of thumb, which I have checked in quite a few situations, I think privileged minority status is worth plus 1 standard deviation under affirmative action systems.

    One SD is large enough to make a big difference, yet small enough to be ‘deniable’ to the naked eye.

    If you look at figure 18.2 on page 541 of this book chapter (and in the text), it shows the approximate equivalent jobs at different levels of average intelligence.

    So that an affirmative action doctor is about at the level of a high school teacher; an affirmative action teacher at the level of a clerk/ teller; an affirmative action clerk/ teller at the level of a food service worker and so on…

    Or – to take a random example – an AA professor at (say) U of Chicago is about the level of an average mainstream State university professor; an AA elite law school graduate is about the level of an average accountant or middle manager – and so on.

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