Via Bryce Laliberte comes a compelling article which argues that high IQ people are being systematically discriminated against within corporate bureaucracies and other institutions:
In other words, a significant percentage of people with IQs over 140 are being systematically and, most likely inappropriately, excluded from the population that addresses the biggest problems of our time or who are responsible for assuring the efficient operation of social, scientific, political and economic institutions. This benefits neither the excluded group nor society in general. For society, it is a horrendous waste of a very valuable resource. For the high IQ person it is a personal tragedy commonly resulting in unrealized social, educational and productive potential.
The very limited research that has been done on this phenomenon has focused on possible flaws in high IQ people that might explain the exclusion. However, the evidence that exists suggests that it is the result of inappropriate educational and productive environments within which the high IQ person must strive to succeed. Consequently, remediation should focus on creating more appropriate environments.
The data point he uses to draw this larger conclusion seems flawed (assuming that under-representation in what he calls the elite professions is evidence of exclusion), but anecdotally, it rings true for me, even though I’m at the bottom rung of the scale — perhaps even a bit under it — that he’s talking about, which probably helps to explain why I have an easy time relating to a range going from the slightly above average to the highly intelligent, but have a lot of trouble comprehending people on the normal area of the scale and below.
Erik von Kuenelt-Leddihn makes similar points in his books about the social nature of leftism in “Leftism Revisited” (p. 19):
The nonconforming person or group sinning against the sacred principle of sameness will always be treated as a traitor, and if he is not a traitor the envious majority will push him in that direction… Thus to be different will be treated as or made into treason. And even if the formula Nonconformist-Traitor will not always be promulgated with such clarity, it lurks at the back of modern man’s mind only too often, whether he openly embraces totalitarianism or no.
The American nation has a purpose, and that overriding purpose is equality. People who threaten that goal are excluded, because they can’t help but deflate the pretense that it’s possible.
If you find yourself excluded because of intelligence, you might want to adopt a more taciturn personality around people on the lower end of the scale. Yes, it may be unjust, but it’ll help you adapt to the situation. Don’t show your cards. People can sniff out high intelligence no matter how hard you try to hide it, and you want to avoid obvious flourish unless you’re in a secure position. It’s rude, otherwise.
People with high intelligence will often find greater success outside of bureaucracies, also. Instead of complaining that bureaucracy treats you poorly, find a way to secure a position without relying on conforming socially to a dysfunctional, egalitarian society.
You might even want to pretend to be an affable idiot, like an actor playing a part.
Since the late 1960s and 1970s, a cultural stereotype emerged — the ‘nerd’ — which didn’t really exist to the extent that it once did. The intelligent were trained, rather than instructed to embrace the Aristotelian mean, that the highly intelligent were physically weak, socially maladroit, obsessed with fantasies, and low status.
Many unfortunate young men chose to embrace this ‘identity group’ — and identity is an attempt to achieve sameness, even if that identity group is one of being an outsider from the herd — in part because their existence threatened the egalitarian dream espoused by the new socialists.
The popular image of ‘scientist’ went from the suave, confident Richard Feynman to the popular portrayal of scientists today as effeminate hysterics on the sitcom ‘Big Bang Theory.’
Leftism by its nature is both narcissistic and herd-oriented. With a functional social hierarchy, the intelligent and capable can be put to work for the benefit of a given country or other broader social group which is internally diverse in terms of intellectual capability. When the herd principle dominates, the normal man tends to see the capable man as an active threat to his position, and works to displace him. They will clip the tall poppies to make the mediocre appear to be better and more valuable than they really are.
This tends to be the case in the majority of human societies. The majority of human societies are semi-functional, impoverished, and prone to routine catastrophe, causing mass death. The civilizations which value and reward excellence are rare and unusual.
Mark Minter says
This can even exist in higher intelligence groups like Software Development.
The higher intelligent person can conceive of processes that reduce bottlenecks, he can conceive of designs that are very forward looking, way down the pipe in terms of what the group conceptualizations of the current problem set and solutions currently deployed. Yet to gain the necessary consensus it remarkably difficult because the others cannot conceive of the importance or even the feasibility of his offered solution.
Alternatively, the higher intelligent person can become bored with the design methodology, with the tools, with the speed of development and deployment. The others may need administration, accounting, version control, and a plodding method where the higher intelligent can “skip those steps”. Yet the others cannot.
And literally this personality can cause friction among a group for numerous reasons, lack of social skills or political skills, lack of patience, and even jealousy. All wish to have their ideas heard and designs adopted. None wish to continually be stomped on intellectually. Most wish to not have design sessions be contentious. Some even reject that which they cannot understand as wrong merely because they do not understand it.
And in the end, the smarter person eventually leaves, either voluntarily or else driven from the group.
I would venture to say that in the “mature” software company, the 95% mark of IQ is probably somewhere around 127 with a good number at 120, with perhaps 1 in a 100 at 140.
I can give you an example. At one job I had at a large company, we delivered large database driven systems. The “deliverable” was a set of “scripts” both shell and SQL that were ran after a “server” had been setup. The scripts were long running things that created a database, then ran SQL scripts to create the objects, then loader scripts that would load reference data, then a conversion on existing customer data would occur to transform it into our data model. This is was long error prone process. And much effort was spent on the version control and testing of these scripts.
My idea pre-dated clouds by a couple of years. My idea was instead to “build the ship” in our place, then snap it off as an image using backup technology. Then use the restore technology to “recreate the built ship” over at the customer site. This is the essence of clouds, the image.
This way we needn’t have this perfect installation procedure. If we got an error in some step, we fixed it however it needed. We did in our own time. Using easily constructable sets of tools to do so.
This idea was unfathomable to the others. The idea that a full installation did not occur at the customer site was heresy. I felt exactly the opposite that it absolutely stupid to do it any differently. And cloud technology that came just a couple of years later absolutely bore me out.
But I was gone from that group before that realization was common knowledge.
So what made the ‘excellent’ tech companies ‘excellent’ originally was that they provided some space for these sorts of improvements — room for anti-consensus and initiative.
That tends to be hammered out as the focus becomes more on process and derisking in the micro sense, which builds up competitive risk at the larger scale.
EC2 started when two guys at Amazon wrote a white paper, which Bezos signed off on: http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-amazon-exposed-its-guts-the-history-of-awss-ec2/ — not a ‘consensus’ decision.
Your blog astonishes me. I am glad I found it and hope you prosper.
As to the thesis “Are Smart People Being Inappropriately Excluded?,” absolutely. It is lonely at the top but those at the top, those cursed few with IQs over 160, enter their own world of discovery in which there are so many avenues available and so little time to explore.
Thanks. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the other posts here.
Peter Blood says
Geniuses are hammered down in bureaucracies, because bureaucracies want their thing (manage people and processes for the sake of the bureaucracy) and geniuses want to do what geniuses do (do that creative inventive thing, in a prickly way).
Science today is essentially a research bureaucracy (per Bruce Charlton’s “Not Even Trying”) churning out meaningless research documentation.
William Newman says
“Science today is essentially a research bureaucracy”
“Mostly” I would agree with, but “essentially” no. Humanity was mostly stagnant in the 1700s, with no radical every-few-decade doublings on the scale of the Industrial Revolution, but not essentially stagnant: a mostly stagnant system with a small dynamic fraction kicking off something like the IR is essentially different from one with no dynamic fraction. The dynamic fraction in modern science may be embarrassingly small, but it is not essentially negligible. Consider that even if we held all other progress static — no more improvements in machine learning and other modern statistical methods, or analytical chemistry, or materials science, or pharmaceuticals… — just the progress around DNA sequencing and pinpoint genetic modification (techniques like CRISPR) alone is enough to distinguish the mostly meaningless body of work from an essentially meaningless one. Unless the DNA tech is universally suppressed somehow, it alone should suffice to cause radical change within a generation or two, which distinguishes it, and by extension the scientific enterprise it came from, rather sharply from essential meaninglessness.
(And my guess is that semiconductors and machine learning and related AI stuff are more significant than the DNA stuff, and will outrace DNA tech by a factor of five or so changing the world beyond recognition, but that’s less clear than how the last two decades or so of DNA tech could suffice to change the world beyond recognition all by themselves.)
Peter Blood says
It is a bureaucracy, essentially. Peer review for the win!
Anonymous Coward says
— Mark Minter said:
> This can even exist in higher intelligence
> groups like Software Development.
Absolutely true, and I personally have experienced it in spades.
— Dan Kurt said:
> those cursed few with IQs over 160,
> enter their own world of discovery in
> which there are so many avenues
> available and so little time to explore
It’s true even for us relatively slower people with an IQ of only 150 as well.
— Peter Blood said:
> Geniuses are hammered down in bureaucracies.
The world is nowhere near as good a place as it could have been, had the bureaucrats allowed the geniuses (at all levels of genius) to run free and produce as they are able, without restraints.
In a sense, the bureaucrats deserve what they are getting: a worse world then they could have had. But it is horribly unfair to the geniuses who could have, and would have, made it much better. It is also unfair to the masses, who could have lived in a better world.
I must now temper my above statement with the conditional clause that my statements above only apply to those who are not seeking power over others. Geniuses who desire power over others can generally achieve it (due to their abilities), and they make the world a much worse place by doing so. (Think politicians.)
It would be a much better world if geniuses who aspire to power over others (including in fairly low-level bureaucracies) were in fact restrained greatly. Only those who do not want power over others should ever have it.
But that is not how the world actually works. In fact, the actual world is almost the polar opposite of the best possible world in that respect.
Anonymous Coward says
— I (Anonymous Coward) said:
> Geniuses who desire power over others
> can generally achieve it (due to their
> abilities), and they make the world a
> much worse place by doing so. (Think
I do not mean to imply that politicians are geniuses. Indeed, they are not. But they are not average either. They are above average.
I suspect that a few politicians are in fact geniuses, but probably at the lower levels of genius, and almost never at the very highest levels of genius. I suspect (but do not know for sure) that the more intelligent one is, the less attracted to politics one is.
Is this all really true, though? From my experience, really high IQ makes one such a mismatch for “normal” society that it often dooms you to a life of poverty and social nobodyhood. Bryce himself is a good example, and so am I. I couldn’t be arsed less about money or status or signaling or living in a McMansion somewhere. I could never work 9-to-5 in some cubicle, whether I was good at it or not. People in the 120-to-140 IQ range are the ones who do really well there. And that’s not a criticism – God bless them, the world needs them. But 140+ people, – easily bored, tending towards a mix of depression and rebelliousness, contemptuous of make-work – are another story. Whether corporate and government bureaucracies *should* select for the highest IQ is a debate perhaps worth having. But in reality they don’t select for it, because, with a few exceptions (like perhaps Apple in the Steve Jobs years), bureaucracies mostly select for people who balance being smart with qualities like being generally agreeable or seeing a point to showing up at the office at 9AM if there isn’t anything to do and you’re just going to sit around bored. If that balance is what you’re actually looking for, then the exclusion isn’t “inappropriate” at all.
This, by the way, is a reality of the bureaucratic state, not the aristocratic state. Aristocrats tended to keep extreme high-IQ (or extremely artistic) people around and act as patrons to them (at least, the ones who didn’t end up in monasteries); giving them some little room in a corner of the estate house and letting them work on some treatise or another, or a sculpture, or a painting. It was prestigious, and in an aristocratic culture, prestige is one sort of currency in common use. To the very limited extent that this is true in the bureaucratic state, corporations simply buy their prestige by giving some money away to whatever cause is trendy and will buy them some favor with the Establishment. The effect, especially upon the larger culture, is not the same.
“I could never work 9-to-5 in some cubicle, whether I was good at it or not. People in the 120-to-140 IQ range are the ones who do really well there. And that’s not a criticism – God bless them, the world needs them. But 140+ people, – easily bored, tending towards a mix of depression and rebelliousness, contemptuous of make-work – are another story. Whether corporate and government bureaucracies *should* select for the highest IQ is a debate perhaps worth having. But in reality they don’t select for it, because, with a few exceptions (like perhaps Apple in the Steve Jobs years), bureaucracies mostly select for people who balance being smart with qualities like being generally agreeable or seeing a point to showing up at the office at 9AM if there isn’t anything to do and you’re just going to sit around bored. If that balance is what you’re actually looking for, then the exclusion isn’t “inappropriate” at all.”
No, they don’t. I personally suck at 9-to-5 also unless I really respect the boss, so I can’t credibly tell people to go suck it up. Some bureaucracies can handle the smarter types. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. It’s just difficult to maintain for all that long. High IQ people should work at early stage companies or work in small shops. Paypal was famous for being a high-IQ pressure cooker. Some hedge funds are that way also, even the larger ones, but especially some of the small shops.
Did any of those people stay there after the company had been established? No… why bother? Job was done, most of the value was created, off to the next adventure.
Geniuses are needed to make product. Promoting them to manager lowers their productivity. They would then spend too much time babysitting others. We tend to lack the important social skills necessary to manage. We are especially bad at “sucking up to the boss”. The problem is in the heirarchy of our businesses. People who do nothing but sit around and talk about working are the highest paid in an organization.
I don’t have an issue relating to the dumblocs. They have issues relating to me.
I wish I could say I don’t understand them, but that is incorrect. I do understand all to well. Just because I understand them doesn’t mean I will acquiesce to their ways- that would be asinine and what has occurred through out history.
Its like having a dog as a friend.
Actually, this is more about classism and is a survival device which evolved from social dynamics related to “alphaism.” You would find the same behavior through societies going way back into history for low class intellects with similar amounts of “winners” (about 1:100 gets out of the situation with something like 1:200,000 actually “winning”). On a world scale, there are 7,000,000 geniuses and maybe 2,000 billionaires (resource command goes to intellect). Everyone believes all those billionaires are measurably superior humans vs all those geniuses with nearly identical aptitudes. Derp
Actually, it isn’t “leftism” or “egalitarianism.” The problem exists in all political circles and all social groups that are not principally high intelligence. In fact, “rightist” philosophies are more correlated with lower IQ’s.
History was always dominated by less then stellar intelligences that didn’t contribute anything of value (by that, I mean, advancing the human condition). Those of in the books represent “concessions” to keep the rest working for the possibility of “recognition.” Most scientists are more concerned with notoriety than power which is dumb because people who don’t understand their work have the power over it.