Another excerpt from Geoffrey Miller's Spent by Steve Sailer just sent me over to Amazon to put in an order. Miller writes:
The irony about general intelligence is that ordinary folks of average intelligence recognize its variance across people, its generality across domains, and its importance in life. Yet educated elites meanwhile often remain implacably opposed to the very concept of general intelligence, and deny its variance, generality, and importance. Professors and students at elite universities are especially prone to this pseudohumility. They socialize only with other people of extraordinarily high intelligence, so the width of the whole bell curve lies outside their frame of reference. I have met theoretical physicists who claimed that any human could understand superstring theory and quantum mechanics if only he or she was given the right educational opportunities. Of course, such scientists talk only with other physicists with IQs above 140, and seem to forget that their janitors, barbers, and car mechanics are in fact real humans too, so they can rest comfortably in the envy-deflecting delusion that there are no significant differences in general intelligence.A recurring theme here has been the search for a socially desirable attribute that correlates inversely with IQ. Miller suggests perspicacity in identifying differences in intelligence is just such an attribute.
I am skeptical of the assertion that people three standard deviations above the mean are so obtuse when it comes to seeing the realities of such differences that they really believe they do not exist. Hence my more cynical claim: Candidness in expressing true perceptions of differences in intelligence (and a general disregard for or unawareness of politically correct axioms) is inversely correlated with IQ.
Whatever the level of sincerity is, smarter people claim less variance in intelligence exists than duller people do. The following graph shows the size of the standard deviation for total responses by Wordsum score for the GSS question on the intelligence of whites (white line) and of blacks (black line). The smaller the standard deviation, the closer responses for that Wordsum score huddle around the average intelligence value. Sample sizes are too small for perceptions of other groups. The intelligence questions are on a scale from 1 (unintelligent) to 7 (intelligent):
The second graph facilitates the same observation in a less technical way. The percentage of all respondents who choose the middling value of 4, representing perfectly average intelligence, for whites (white line) and blacks (black line):
Whether it is blacks or whites being evaluated, the trend is clear--the more intelligent someone is, the more likely he is to see (or claim to see) everybody existing in a state of cognitive parity. Only vulgar rednecks claim to see differences that aren't there!
Assuming there is some disingenuity in the putative parity perceived by the intelligent, it's not difficult to see why it is to be maintained. Although Miller seems to be arguing that those with high intelligence are so surrounded by others like themselves (the cognitive stratification described by Herrnstein and Murray) they forget that real people exist in the social classes below themselves, in using the term "pseudohumility"--implying a calculated public downplaying of the importance of intelligence and their generous helpings of it--he nails it.
If intelligence is innate or even just unmalleable past a certain young age, those with high intelligence are unable to attribute their own successes to personal dedication, creativity, education, hard work, a strong personality, the liberal values they were raised with, and the like. They just lucked into it. And that means confronting sticky things like the fact that others aren't so fortunate and that with their elevated intelligence comes an elevated level of responsibility.
At whatever distance between nature and nurture reality sits (somewhere around 60%-40% if nurture encompasses everything that is not nature), it's closer to the former than the cognitive egalitarians would like it to be. Any ground ceded to nature threatens the entire educational structure. Most people probably intrinsically sense that smart kids go to Harvard more than Harvard makes the students it takes in into smart young adults. The last thing Harvard wants, however, is for that to become the conventional wisdom. It also threatens to impact a host of other issues like immigration, drug policy, welfare use, etc.
GSS variables used: INTLWHTS, INTLBLKS, WORDSUM