IQ was initially developed as a bureaucratic tool to help institutions at scale to screen and sort out potential employees at scale. One of the reasons why it became popular was because the scores remained relatively constant independent on what age that you provide the tests. In the United States, they were especially important in the great projects of World War I and World War II, but the advance also spilled over to corporations.
Now, managers wouldn’t discriminate based on cultural factors, their personal familiarity with the candidates, and social class. They would use science to select only the ‘best’ candidate for the job, as judged by their objectively determinable intelligence quotient. In the new scientific order, everyone would have equality of opportunity — which even today is something that the slow-progressive movement (AKA conservatives) get warm fuzzies about whenever they hear the term.
Until recently, Silicon Valley was the last corporate outpost of the use of IQ-like tests (fittingly, because the test was developed at Stanford). The SAT is fading in importance as a selection mechanism for universities.
Today, because of the widespread opposition to the idea of innate and heritable intelligence, it seems like a rebellion to say that IQ and similar concepts like ‘g’ are important. It’s a profound mistake, however, to act like it’s the only thing that matters, to say that grouping people into a country or institution based on their innate intelligence alone is the way to make the Tower of Babel political construct work properly.
In a similar way that the reductionist view of race is stupid, the reductionist view of intelligence and its importance is also misguided. If we follow this reductionist view, we would have to ignore the fact that there are far many more smart liberals who deny that intelligence is innate than there are smart people of any political persuasion who say that it isn’t.
One reason why not to treat intelligence as the be-all-and-end-all is that intelligence of a person says nothing about their character, values, religion, or aesthetic sensibility. When you stuff the smartest people from all around the world into a classroom, you get a graduate student lecturing in an unintelligible accent to an alienated student body which has no sense of working towards a single common purpose.
The same people who will complain about not being able to understand their foreign TA are the same people who will attend a diversity rally the weekend after are the same people who will make maudlin Facebook posts about how much they hate all those ‘racists’ preventing the final realization of Babel, in which we’re all one people, carefully graded by how well we perform on test problems.
It’s the institutions that need to proclaim the value of multiculturalism the loudest that tend to suffer the most from this sort of blind faith in meritocratic values. It also makes these institutions vulnerable to simple hacks around testing systems — such as cheating and the use of dummy testers.
Further, a society that selects its leaders based on how good they are at filling in bubbles will eventually become a society fascinated by bureaucratic bubble and spreadsheet filling incapable of dealing with the other important aspects of reality and rich details of the human experience. If it can’t be bubbled in on a sheet, the bubble-people want to make it stop existing.
In the end, the same system created by people selected for excellence in bubble-filling wound up being dominated by people who felt intolerably guilty about the results of that system — so guilty that they no longer wanted to keep it alive.
One reason that they felt guilty about it was because the results of that system showed that ‘equality of opportunity’ was nonsense. There is no equality of opportunity, and there can be no equality of opportunity. Most people are born with limited opportunities owing to their station in life. In order to keep the lie of equality of opportunity alive, the people had to make anything that revealed innate inequality illegal — as part of the general program of censorship against dangerous ideas.
So now, it’s in transition to a system in which the capable compete with one another in public flagellation sessions, and the incapable receive honors and prizes based on how loud and pathetic their sob stories are.
Part of the worldview implicit in the IQ test is that virtue is irrelevant compared to an abstract quantification of a person’s ability to solve puzzles — as if even business can be reduced to a series of difficult puzzles to be solved by someone of sufficient cleverness. What someone does with their capacity is much more important than what that capacity is.
Attempting to replace civilization as it existed with a rationalized, scientific society wound up creating something so enervating that few were motivated to preserve it. So now, we sense the chasm opening up beneath us.