[ExI] The downsides of high IQ

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Apr 16 21:22:59 UTC 2015

rex <rex at nosyntax.net> , 16/4/2015 10:07 PM:
Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> [2015-04-16 08:41]: 
>   The bigger problem with the claim that a 3% increase has a huge effect is 
>   simply that extrapolating linearly far from the current mean will not 
>   work. Obviously a 10 point increase will not reduce high school drop-outs 
>   to zero: the numbers just give a bit of evidence of the sensitivity. 
But it's not a claim; it's a count. That is, there's no theory or prediction 
involved. Instead, H&M counted the fraction of say, HS dropouts in the IQ 97, 
IQ 100, and IQ 103 groups, and found the percentage changes reported. 

Note that this observes groups in a static setting, not people who change their IQ. 

I also seriously doubt his finding actually was a 30% difference between the groups. It has been a while since I read the primary sources, but I think they did a regression. If there actually were a 30% difference over a span of 6 IQ points, people would be talking a lot about the very sharp transition at IQ 100.

And yes, the tail effects of "small" differences in the SD of Gaussian 
distributions are astonishingly large. The URL below has a graph of the 
IQ ratio of two populations which have slightly differing means and SDs. 
Near the mean, the ratio is about 1:1, but it grows with IQ, and at IQ 170 
there are more than 15 times as many of one group in the high-IQ fraction. 

Yep. Still, the actual social impact of smart people is surprisingly hard to track. We have nice studies like the ones by Benbow et al. that give some reason to think they are pretty productive and the benefits of extra smarts may even go up as we get further out (patent rate was double in the top quartile of the top 1% compared to the lower quartile). But exactly how much they add to society has never been properly mapped: we tell stories about geniuses who changed everything, but we miss the smart people who never do anything useful. 

The more one thinks society is moved by Great People, the more one should think even a modest IQ increase will increase the amount of Greats. But if one thinks it is more of a network effect, then the thing to watch is instead the right side of the normal hump, where there is a lot of people becoming more efficient and having less friction costs from the leftsiders. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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