Bruce G. Charlton, academic and editor in chief of the journal Medical Hypotheses, has previously described the perceived tendency for people of high intelligence to lack common sense, a consequence of ignoring instinctive reactions ("gut feelings" in the vernacular):
My suggested explanation for this association between intelligence and personality is that an increasing relative level of IQ brings with it a tendency differentially to over-use general intelligence in problem-solving, and to over-ride those instinctive and spontaneous forms of evolved behaviour which could be termed common sense.Bruce suggested I take a look at the GSS to see to what extent it confirms or repudiates his assessment. To avoid the problem of cherry-picking, he thought it prudent to have someone other than himself peruse the data.
I scoured the entire library (in the process propitiously stumbling on some other interesting variables I had previously been ignorant of!) to assemble what is laid out below. Naturally, there is some level of arbitrariness in what is included and what is not. To minimize this, I cast a wide net to include those for which 'common sense' provides an obvious answer. Also, I did not break out responses by wordsum scores until after I'd settled on the questions to be included to avoid subconsciously favoring one item or another.
Items that solicit opinions without inquiring about consequences were passed over in favor of those dealing with predictable outcomes. That is, I'm less interested in whether or not a person favors governmentally enforced affirmative action, for which plausibly commensensical arguments can be made on both sides (the benefit to upper-echelon NAMs outweighs the harm done to middling and lower-end ice people or it doesn't), than I am in whether or not whites, specifically, are hurt by affirmative action. Obviously giving preferential treatment to a black job applicant hurts a more qualified white applicant who is passed over because of his ancestry.
Several potentially informative items are dead because they are not cross-referenced with wordsum scores. To avoid confounding factors, only white responses are included.
The items are separated into three categories; those for which the high IQ (smarties) people show more common sense than everybody else (the masses) does, those for which smarties and the masses demonstrate equal levels of common sense, and those for which the masses are more commonsensical than the smarties are. The percentages show in what proportions members of each group answered in affirmation of the question or agreed with the statement being made.
Smarties include only the sliver of the respondent pool scoring a perfect 10 of 10 on the wordsum test, equivalent to an IQ floor approaching 130 if the average white score is assumed to represent an IQ of 100 with a standard deviation of 15. They comprise about 5% of the population. The masses (wordsum scores of 0-9) includes everybody else.
Items for which smarties display more common
|People must live for today and let tomorrow take care of|
|Favor allowing women who are poor and cannot afford|
any children to have abortions if they want to do so.
|Homosexual attraction is a conscious choice.||16.9%||49.2%|
|Are there situations in which it is okay for a man to punch|
|Is it ever okay for a policeman to strike a citizen?||89.7%||77.1%|
|It is a civic obligation to report a crime if you witness it.||96.0%||91.8%|
|Scientists often pry into things they ought to leave alone*.||5.1%||29.3%|
|Morality is a personal matter and society should not try|
to force everyone to maintain the same moral standards.
|Genes are important in determining whether or not a|
person's life turns out poorly or turns out well.
|There is no sense in planning for the future. If things are|
to happen, they will happen.
|Astrology is not scientific.||84.6%||71.3%|
|Refuse to eat genetically modified food.||19.6%||31.2%|
|It should be illegal to carry a firearm while intoxicated.||98.9%||91.6%|
|A single parent is able to raise a child as well as a couple|
|Modern science does more good than harm.||70.9%||62.9%|
|Animal testing is okay if it might result in human lives|
|Items for which smarties and the masses dispaly|
equal levels of common sense
|Favor busing black and white children from one district|
|Allow incurable patients to die if the patient and family|
support doing so.
|It's okay for a man to hit someone who has broken into|
|Political organizations based on race and/or ethnicity|
make it more difficult for everyone to get along with
|Items for which the masses display more common|
sense than the smarties do
|Average difference between the intelligence of whites and|
of blacks, measured in standard deviations.
|Genes play a major role in determining personality.||20.7%||24.8%|
|Things for blacks in the US have improved over time.||51.1%||64.5%|
|It is better for a man to work and a woman to take care|
|Blacks do worse in life because of their innate inability to|
learn as much as whites.
|There should be more women in the US military than|
there currently are.
|Women should be assigned to military roles where|
hand-to-hand combat is likely.
|Poor schools are an important reason why there are poor|
people in the US.
|Whites are hurt by affirmative action policies that favor|
|It is a shame that traditional American literature is|
ignored while other literature is promoted because it is
written by women or minorities.
|Increased immigration makes it more difficult to keep|
the US united.
|Biological differences between men and women are|
important in explaining why women are more likely to
take care of children than men are.
|Because of science and technology, there will be more|
opportunities for future generations.
I don't gather from this that intelligence is a handicap when it comes to arriving at commonsensical conclusions about most things. The assertion that intelligence either lacks significant correlation with or correlates positively with nearly all desirable outcomes and behaviors seems to hold up here (though there are a couple of exceptions, including the question on genes and personality and also the question about future opportunities provided by advances in science and technology). With the glaring exception of HBD-related issues, smarties display more common sense in their thinking than the masses do.
However, when it comes to accurately assessing differences in human subgroups--or even acknowledging that they exist--society's brightest squelch common sense in the name of politically correct moral posturing. Virtually every question for which the masses are more grounded in reality than the smarties are involves race or gender. The epicycles constructed and maintained by smarties are demonstrably if one simply believes his own lying eyes.
The explanations for why this occurs are surely familiar to most readers. My favored working explanation is that smart whites compete primarily against other whites (and Asians). NAMs are abstract pawns used in a moral posturing game played against other whites. Ilkka puts a clever spin on it:
Liberalism is status signaling that demonstrates that you are immune to theAnd Steve Sailer states it in no uncertain terms:
societal consequences of liberalism.
Political correctness makes people stupid.To the extent, if any, that this challenges Bruce's assertion^, it strikes me as encouraging. Rather than being maladaptive in facing the mundania of life, ceteris paribus, intelligence improves one's quality of life and his ability to comprehend the world around him.
GSS variables used: RACE(1), WORDSUM(0-9)(10), GENEEXPS, BUSING, BLKSIMP, ANOMIA4, ABPOOR, HOMOCHNG, LETDIE1, HITOK, HITROBBR, POLHITOK, FEFAM, RACDIF2, FENUMOK, FIGHTLND, OB911, SCIPRY, PERMORAL, WHYPOOR1, INTLWHTS, INTLBLKS, DISCAFF, LFEGENES, PCLIT, ETHORGS, IMMUNITE, FEKIDS1, NOPLAN, NEXTGEN, ASTROSCI, EATGM, GUNSDRINK, SINGLPAR, HARMGOOD, ANTESTS
* (I hear Ned Flanders exclaiming, "Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know!")
** Even though this solicits a personal opinion, it strikes me as being so disruptive to society to merit being deemed as an opinion lacking in common sense entirely.
^ Again, the criteria for selected GSS items, beyond adequate sample size and cross-referenced data on wordsum scores, was arbitrarily selected and is consequently open to crticism for not adequately finding proxies for common sense. Also, the reasonable responses to some of the questions seem as though they should be obvious to a thinking person of even modest intellect, but do not involve what would generally be deemed commonsensical in popular parlance, the question on astrology serving as an example.