Saturday, June 9, 2018

Jordan Peterson's hysterical rant about people of low IQ

Jordan Peterson is the University of Toronto psychology professor rightly applauded for his opposition to Canada's recently enacted law "to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code" (Bill C16) in such ways as to compel, among other things, the use of self-selected pronouns demanded by transgender and other minorities from the mundane Zie and Zim to such loony extremes as His Majesty and It's Serene Highness.

 Less well known are Peterson's ideas about intelligence. In the short video below, Peterson reveals his thinking on this topic as he describes what he calls a "horrifying thing", namely what he says is the finding of US Army psychologists who were "motivated to find an accurate predictor [of the competence of recruits], so they used IQ."

One of the most terrifying statistics I ever came across [related to] the rationale of the US armed forces for not inducting anyone with an IQ of less than 83.

Lets just take that apart, because it's a horrifying thing.

After 100 years, essentially, of careful statistical anaylsis, the armed forces concluded that if you had an IQ of 83 or less there wasn't anything you could be trained to do in the military at any level of the organization that wasn't positively counterproductive.

OK, so what, 83, OK, yeah, one in ten, one in ten, that's one in ten people, and what that really means, as far as I can tell, if you imagine that the military is approximately as complex as the broader society, then there is no place in our cognitively complex society for one in ten people.

So what are we going to do about that? The answer is, no one knows. It's a vicious problem.
At that point, the interviewer interjects:
It's hard to train people to become creative, adaptive, problem solvers.
To which Peterson responds:
It's impossible. You can't do it. It doesn't work. Sorry, it doesn't work.

So here is expressed a basic mistake underlying the IQ-ist creed: it is to assume what has to be demonstrated. Specifically, that IQ test scores are an accurate predictor of competence in the military or, as Peterson makes clear, any other sphere of human activity.

But everything else Peterson has to say on the subject is more or less obvious bunk. If, for example, ten percent of the US population is totally incompetent, then one should expect a floor to the unemployment rate of no less than 10%, whereas in fact, US unemployment is currently under four percent, while the unemployment rate for African Americans with an average IQ of 85, or barely above Peterson's threshold for total uselessness, is under 6%.

As for the claim that there is no place in "our cognitively complex society for one in ten people," what exactly is he suggesting? The thinking of those prewar Hitler admirers in the Anglo-American eugenics movement come to mind. That Peterson concludes that the existence of so many incompetent people is a "vicious problem," certainly suggests a willingness to consider extreme solutions.

But in any case, what did he mean by "our cognitively complex society"? Can a society even have cognitive features? Perhaps what he meant was our cognitively demanding society. But is it really? Is it harder to stay alive in a world of 24/7 shopping, homeless shelters, and food stamps than in prehistoric times? And even for those productively employed, how many have cognitively challenging jobs — store clerks? coffee-shop employees? gas station attendants? hospital orderlies? Or the lower ranks of academia, say 90% of college professors?

And what about the Africans? With a mean IQ 84, half the Nigerian population is close to, or below Peterson's competence threshold, yet their population is booming. So who's gonna win the evolutionary race: IQ 98 Americans with their below replacement fertility, or Nigerians doubling their population every 30 years? Then there's the Mozambiquans, with a mean IQ of 64 despite a significant Euro-African population component and, like Nigerians, a fertility two and half times the replacement rate.

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