Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tyranny of the Glib, Scourge of the Second Sigma

Nearly all major politicians in the US fall into that band of intelligence between around 120 and about 135, in short, the second sigma.  You can add to this most major cogs in the bureaucratic section of the Cathedral.  Both Bush the Younger and Kerry, for example, fell in this band per their military IQ tests.

People can generally relate and communicate effectively within about a two sigma range, so it shouldn't be too surprising that so many politicians are clustered here.  I know it's popular in this section of the blogosphere to say that 2 sigma isn't very smart, but let's be real here---2 sigma is about 98th percentile.  Someone at that level is the smartest person an awful lot of people know personally.  It is a lot smarter than the average.  A person at this level honestly can aspire to pretty much any profession with reasonable chances of success.

Of course there's a serious dark side to this...the tyranny of the glib.
People in this range are NOT like average people, but they don't trigger the 'scary smart' defensive mechanisms of said ordinary people.  So they don't typically have it rubbed in their faces on a daily basis that are not representative of the set of average people.  Most people in this range also have no significant daily contact with anyone of below average intelligence, and a lot of people in this range have no significant contact with anyone below about +1 sigma of intelligence.  I don't begrudge them this, as I enjoy it myself but it has huge implications when you consider that this is the class that rules America.

They generate a tax code and other rules of unholy length and complexity.  Even the agencies that enforce their rules don't understand them.  They generally think that if they can handle or outsource the complexity, that everyone else can too.  Excessive complexity is a poison in society, and they pour it out by the barrel---probably not realizing that it hurts them also, although not as much as it hurts the center of the bell curve, let alone the left tail.

They believe that anyone can handle college if they're willing to work moderately hard at it, so everyone should.  This is mostly true in the segments of society where they dwell, but a woeful mistake elsewhere.  They also believe that everyone's kids can learn like theirs do---and nothing could be further from the truth, different methods work for each range of intelligence, and 1950s and earlier teaching textbooks at the college level will actually tell you this.  In short, a lot of the contradictions of the PC, blank slate view of man in the educational sphere are largely invisible to them.

They're at the optimal range for glibness, and they love to morally posture and erect shibboleths that are painfully ridiculous to anyone in tangential contact with reality while imposing the costs of their moralizing on their lessers.  Ever notice how nearly everything they do just HAPPENS to favor them in status competitions?

It is rare to find a politician or major bureaucrat who is smarter than this---most people who are 3 sigmas or above rarely have such roles, partly because they are alien to the general population and they know it, hell, most of them aren't even neurotypical.  They don't expect the experiences of the general population to match theirs, so they're on the whole a good bit more humble about the prospects of reshaping their fellow man.

I believe that there is profound wisdom in the general population's distrust of any politician that does not fairly strongly profess a fair bit of religiosity.  How else is one to constrain someone far smarter and more glib from running roughshod over you?   I suppose there are always pitchforks and torches.

1 comment:

postgygaxian said...

This is brilliant.

Don't forget, however, that the sigmas are of different widths for different races.