Sunday, August 18, 2013

Some Thoughts on System 1 Thinking, IQ Debate and the Cathedral.

Unlike most critics of IQ testing, I believe in their validity. Where I differ from most of the supporting crowd is that I recognise that the test has some practical real world limitations.  It's true that a higher IQ reduces the risk of outright stupidity but does not eliminate it, and thus, it being a cure-all for the ills of society should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, the way the majority of people think about IQ is a classic example of Systems 1 thinking in operation.

The graph below is one that I've randomly pulled off the internet and which we'll use for discussion purposes.

Now, clearly, the  population groups under consideration are different, with mean Black IQ being lower than White. This a fact. But from the graph we can see that there still are many blacks who have a higher IQ than the average white. This is also a fact. An intelligent man will be cognsicent of these facts and will take them into account in any discussion.

The problem occurs when the cognitive miser becomes involved.

System 1 thinking--the predominant mode of thought amongst the cognitive miser-- tends to concentrate on the rule and not the exception. The factual statement that most blacks have lower IQ's than whites is internalised into the heuristic that all blacks have lower IQ's than whites. It's cognitively simpler and intuitively congenial to the miser. The thing is, based on the above chart,  the miser will be right roughly 80% of time. If the miser lives in a poor 'redneck area"  where selection pressures have made high-IQ blacks leave, he will be right nearly 100% of the time. In his own mind his life experience will confirm his ideas and liberal notions of black academic potential will be dismissed with scorn.*

The problem is, when such a man comes to the IQ debate he brings partial truths to it. He can't be dismissed outright, yet he is also factually wrong about his "conceptions" of Black IQ. When such as man presents his arguments to other cognitive misers, they will be readily accepted, especially amongst those who are dispositionally inclined. However, given the strong emotional link to System 1 thinking, anyone who is dispositionally disinclined to any argument will reject it outright. Thus on one hand, we have a advocacy of partial truths on one side and suppression of them by another. In the end, when two dispositionally opposed cognitive misers meet, it's not about the exchange of ideas as much as it is about the assertion of their various camps. The IQ debate eventually degenerates inot one camp who asserts that blacks are stupid, and the other; who assert that IQ doesn't matter, the tests are false or that there opponents are racist.

But the really interesting thing is what happens to the intelligent man who tries to assert himself in the debate. Firstly, let's say he is conservatively disposed; the conservative cognitive misers who are supposedly his allies will suspect he is some crypto-liberal who has infiltrated their ranks. If he liberally disposed and acknowledges the racial differences, the prole liberal with regard him as some nascent Fascist. Both sides will look upon him with suspicion and both will be quite literally "confused" by his position.  He doesn't neatly fit into any camp.

Secondly,  he is overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers, as cognitive misers are the overwhelming majority in any population. A universal democracy, with gives everyone the "right to an opinion" ensures the opinions of the uninformed overwhelm those of the informed, thus public debate never rises above that of the mob squabble.

Finally, any attempt to convince the cognitive miser or the merits or failings of any cause is likely to further entrench them in their position, especially if there is a strong emotional attachment to the cause. Debate with such an individual is usually counterproductive and trying to convince the public through rational debate is a waste of time, especially to  those with diminishing resources (i.e. thoughtful conservatives) Indeed, the whole "convince your opposition with the merits of your case" approach is a diversionary tactic which favours the The Cathedral. The intelligent Right expends itself trying to convince the unconvincables.

The Cathedral has long recognised that intelligent discourse with its enemies is counterproductive. It has recognised that the way to win the debate with the masses is through emotional conditioning. As the Jonathan Haidt has shown, and commercial advertising has demonstrated for decades, it's the emotional tail which wags the rational dog. [Ed:Amongst cognitive misers.] The Cathedral tries to paint causes in a positive light always. All the Gays depicted on television and the media are funny, nice and agreeable, all the Conservatives; nasty, unattractive and ignorant. The whole thrust of Cathedral ops is to conflate agreeableness with Liberal values and disagreeableness with Conservative ones. If you can make people feel good about an issue they will vote for it.

*Depressing examples of this type of thought are frequently seen on Roissy's blog in the comments section. Take, for example, the concept of the "neg".  An intelligent man will see that it's use is conditional on the circumstances but a lot of the spergy commentariat miss this distinction. They neg away endlessly to their detriment. Roissy is good writer but some of his implicit subtlety is lost with the Hive mind commentariat.