On 11/26/2003 Wei Dai wrote:
> There certainly do seem to be some situations in which it can pay not be
> seen as "too clever by half".  But of course there are many other
> in which being clever pays well.  So unless the first set of situations are
> more important than the second, it seems unlikely that evolution makes us
> dumb in general on purpose.

Perhaps the first set of situations is more important than you think. For
example, could the Holocaust (and anti-semitism in general) fall into that
category, given that Jews have a higher average IQ than gentiles? ...

That's pretty weak evidence, compared to the vast experience each of us has in using cleverness to better get along in the world.

> The question instead is whether evolution
> was able to identify the particular topic areas where we were better off
> being dumber, so as to tailor our minds to be dumber mainly in those areas.

I'd argue no, at least beyond a certain degree, because if you have
sufficient general intelligence, you can apply it to any area but still
fake being dumb in particular areas. The only way to convince others of
actually being dumb in those areas is to be dumb in general.

If you can fake being dumb in particular areas, why can't you fake being dumb in all areas?

Perhaps sufficiently general intelligences can fake anything, but if so
humans do not seem to be sufficiently general.  Humans give off all sorts
of subconscious clues about whether they are faking, and they are adept at
detecting those clues in others.  Humans cannot lie with impunity.

> Yet most educated people actually seem
> to understand physics better than economics.

Do you have any evidence for this? At least personally I find economics
easier to understand than, say, string theory, or even electromagnetism.

I'm just drawing on personal experience here; you may be an exception.

Robin Hanson [EMAIL PROTECTED] http://hanson.gmu.edu Assistant Professor of Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444 703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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