David SimsEssays

Intelligence, Skill, and the Biological Basis of Morality


by David Sims

IQ IS, pretty much, a fixed and unchanging quantity. Many people confuse intelligence with acquired mental skills, but the two aren’t the same thing.

When someone first starts to play the game Minesweeper on the “intermediate” difficulty level, his time to finish is usually around three or four minutes. But, if he continues to play, his times for finishing the game successfully grow briefer, until, usually after about two weeks of frequent playing, he is completing a game in under 60 seconds.

Does that mean his intelligence increased? No. What it means is that he used the intelligence he has to acquire a set of mental skill, chiefly of logic and arithmetic, which will remain with him for as long as he continues to play the game regularly.

What more nearly measures the player’s intelligence the greatest amount of improvement in his finishing time he is able to make with sustained practice: i.e., the shortest time in which he can consistently complete a game of Minesweeper. That briefest finishing time partly reflects the extent to which he can hone the relevant mental math and logic skills by practicing them. I said “partly” because other factors, such as his reflex speed and muscular coordination, become important as the playing time decreases. But, sooner or later, a player will reach his point of diminishing returns on time invested in practice. His intelligence influences where that point is.

Intelligence isn’t a skill. It’s an inborn, heritable characteristic of the brain related to its information capacity, to its information transfer efficiency, and to its ability to acquire, interpret, and relate new information as it becomes available.

The assertion regarding the lower IQ scores of “socioeconomically disadvantaged populations… regardless of race” is a common liberal attempt to hide the racial gaps in IQ. Whereas it is true that the higher SES (socio-economic status) groups have somewhat higher IQs than the lower SES groups do, the opinion that financial income leads and IQ follows is mistaken. The reverse is true. A person with a high IQ can usually earn more money than a person with a low IQ can, and that’s the cause of the SES gaps. That’s why you can’t improve the IQ of a retarded person by giving him money.

There are racial IQ gaps on top of the SES gaps.

“Socioeconomic status (SES) varies both between and within populations, but black-white differences in IQ persist among the children of parents matched for SES, and the gap is largest among the children of wealthiest and best educated parents.” —Wikipedia.

One of my debate opponents wrote: “Furthermore, many IQ tests are culturally biased towards whites, and, although the use of them has diminished greatly over the years, in poorer school districts they are still widely used…”

That’s more leftist evasion, easily refuted. Here is why the “cultural bias in IQ tests” explanation won’t work.

1. Asian students coming from cultures that are considerably more different than the American mainstream, as compared with the cultures of US-resident blacks, did usually outperform whites to some extent on IQ tests, and these same Asians outperform blacks greatly.

2. There are tests having no cultural dependence, such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices, which show exactly the same thing that the more culturally loaded IQ tests do.

You question my philosophical premises? I don’t rely on any a priori premises. You do. I rely on empirically acquired statistical evidence, which is precisely what you can’t do and also maintain your present viewpoint.

You wrote: “Assuming there was a proven genetic difference between races, what would it matter? Is a lower IQ a reason to discriminate against a person or a group? Surely, if one values individual rights, it is immoral to discriminate against anyone on the basis of something such as race. To do so is to value a collectivist mindset, one that views people not as individuals but as groups. Of course, this is America, so it is your right to discriminate as you wish.”

Let me clarify what I mean when I use the word morality. I refer, above all, to a will to preserve the existence of the group that practices the moral code. The survival of the molecular information (the DNA) that made the cultural information (the moral code) possible, is a prerequisite for every other value judgment and is, therefore, itself the highest value. Why? Because nothing matters to the dead. Because only to something alive may anything else be good. Because neither knowledge, nor freedom, nor justice, nor happiness, nor wealth can have any importance if nothing living can experience and appreciate those other values.

An essay by Herschel Elliott makes this concept more clear. Read his “A General Statement of the Tragedy of the Commons.” It provides a close reasoning for why survival is the highest of moral virtues.

So, to answer your questions: Yes, it is appropriate to discriminate when choosing which person shall have opportunity, because opportunity isn’t automatic success. Rather, it is a challenge which, if mastered, will bring more challenges, which may ultimately lead to success.

Not everyone who might be given opportunity will be able to surmount the challenge that comes with it. For example, a person hired to do a job that demands from him more mental ability than he has will fail to perform that job in a satisfactory way. He’ll either be fired and replaced, or his inability will inflict a drag on the competitiveness of whatever company hired him.

Discrimination is a good thing. It’s what makes it possible for you to reject poison and choose nutritious foods when planning your menu. And it is what allows opportunities to be apportioned to people in accordance with their abilities, instead of being wasted on people who can’t make use of them.

I do have copies of both the Bible and Mein Kampf. They are on my bookshelf. However, those books aren’t on that shelf because I endorse the views of their authors. I am not, for example, a Christian. It is simply useful on occasion to have a Bible handy, in case I should want to point out to a Christian that he isn’t behaving in accordance with his own religious teaching.

It does happen that I endorse many of Hitler’s opinions, although not necessarily all of them. I judge his views in my own mind in the same way that I judge everyone else’s.

I have read Kapital, too, and have decided that not everything Karl Marx or Friedrich Engels said is stupid. Some of their criticisms of capitalism are correct and well-presented. They made a basic error in holding that social class is the primary division of mankind. It isn’t, because that’s what race is, and that mistake is why Marxist regimes often fail. Natural evolution created a partial remedy for the tragedy of the commons for biological collectives (it’s called “love”), but it did nothing similar for socio-economic groups. Man is primarily a biological creature, not a financial one.

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Source: David Sims

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