Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-12-09 Thread Mike Cardwell
Having taken the WWI era Army IQ test that was the basis for some of this, I
can verify that a significant amount of it seemed to be education based
(questions regarding brands of motor engines and whatnot probably posed
issues for immigrants who'd rarely seen and never driven cars, for example).



-Original Message-
--- [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
 American Jews tested below average on Army intelligence tests conducted
 around the turn of the last century (1900)

I suspect this was not a pure IQ test but had a bias towards education, and
at that time, American Jews, especially recent immigrants, many not have
been so well educated, and now they are.

 I do wonder about the meaning of IQ tests. I test out in the top 1% of
 the IQ distribution but have been singularly unsuccessful.  Although it's
 anedotal, I know many other unsuccesful high IQ people as well.  Clearly
high IQ and success don't automatically go hand in hand.
 David Levenstam

Success in what?  Many high-IQ persons do not have wealth as their highest
goal.  Also, chance falls equally on the high and low IQs.
Fred Foldvary

=


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-12-08 Thread Fred Foldvary
--- [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
 American Jews tested below average on Army intelligence tests conducted
 around the turn of the last century (1900)

I suspect this was not a pure IQ test but had a bias towards education, and
at that time, American Jews, especially recent immigrants, many not have
been so well educated, and now they are.

 I do wonder about the meaning of IQ tests. I test out in the top 1% of
 the IQ distribution but have been singularly unsuccessful.  Although it's
 anedotal, I know many other unsuccesful high IQ people as well.  Clearly
high IQ and success don't automatically go hand in hand.
 David Levenstam

Success in what?  Many high-IQ persons do not have wealth as their highest
goal.  Also, chance falls equally on the high and low IQs.
Fred Foldvary

=
[EMAIL PROTECTED]


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-12-07 Thread Robin Hanson
On 12/1/2003 Wei Dai wrote:
 I argue that (a) can be an equilibrium.  We are rather smart in some areas,
 but the mechanisms in us that allow that are not up to the task of faking
 being dumb in other areas - we are actually dumb in those other
areas.  This
 is/was an equilibrium because people who tried to fake often got caught.
I don't disagree that this occurs to some degree. But there must be
a limit to how smart you can be in one area and still be dumb in
another. I suggest we have already reached it, because otherwise the facts
are hard to explain.
Your story does have a certain plausibility.  But you'd need to argue that
the huge increase in IQ that has been documented during this last century
isn't really an increase in intelligence.  And doing that makes it harder
to take Jewish IQ as relevant data.
Robin Hanson  [EMAIL PROTECTED]  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Assistant Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-12-07 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/7/03 12:40:04 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Your story does have a certain plausibility.  But you'd need to argue that
the huge increase in IQ that has been documented during this last century
isn't really an increase in intelligence.  And doing that makes it harder
to take Jewish IQ as relevant data.

American Jews tested below average on Army intelligence tests conducted
around the turn of the last century (1900), and a century later American Jews test
substantially above the average.  Were the Jews who fled the Nazis so much
smarter than the Jews who came before that their small numbers could raise our
average from below to well above the national average?  Or has the national
average fallen because of the crumbling public education system or the influx of
(name the disfavored immigrant group of your choice).

I do wonder about the meaning of IQ tests. I test out in the top 1% of the IQ
distribution but have been singularly unsuccessful.  Although it's anedotal,
I know many other unsuccesful high IQ people as well.  Clearly high IQ and
success don't automatically go hand in hand.

David Levenstam


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-12-01 Thread Wei Dai
On Sun, Nov 30, 2003 at 11:18:21AM -0500, Robin Hanson wrote:
 That and the difficulty of creating intelligence.

It can't be the latter, because the intelligence that already exist was
not selected for. Consider again the fact that Jews have an average IQ
that is about one standard deviation higher than non-Jewish whites. This
clearly shows that the potential for higher intelligence is already in our
gene pool. How would you explain why the IQ distribution of the general
population does not look more like that of Jews?

(BTW, imagine what that would be like. America would have 13 times the
number of Nobel-level (by our standards) scientists as it actually does.)

 I argue that (a) can be an equilibrium.  We are rather smart in some areas,
 but the mechanisms in us that allow that are not up to the task of faking
 being dumb in other areas - we are actually dumb in those other areas.  This
 is/was an equilibrium because people who tried to fake often got caught.

I don't disagree that this occurs to some degree. But there must be
a limit to how smart you can be in one area and still be dumb in
another. I suggest we have already reached it, because otherwise the facts
are hard to explain.


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-11-30 Thread Robin Hanson
On 11/30/2003 Wei Dai wrote:
I'm not saying that intelligence is not useful, just that its
social costs can help explain why we're not smarter. Of course
intelligence seems extremely useful, which is what makes our dumbness
puzzling. Is your position that the other known costs of intelligence
(more energy use, more difficult births, what else?) are sufficient to
explain this?
That and the difficulty of creating intelligence.

To make sure we're not misunderstanding each other, you're says that
having higher intelligence is not so bad, because one can either (a) still
be dumb in certain areas, or (b) fake being dumb in all areas, right? I'm
arguing that (a) is not an equilibrium, and (b) reduces the benefits of
intelligence too much.
I argue that (a) can be an equilibrium.  We are rather smart in some areas,
but the mechanisms in us that allow that are not up to the task of faking
being dumb in other areas - we are actually dumb in those other areas.  This
is/was an equilibrium because people who tried to fake often got caught.
I suggested that people have trouble thinking carefully about economics
because evolution make us bad at that on purpose, in order to protect our
cherished misconceptions about the social world.  There is a distribution
of such abilities, and economists tend to be in the high tail of ability.
Such people cannot typically hide this ability - others see their willingness
to cross sacred moral boundaries and are wary of them.  And in fact on
average economists are probably less trustworthy partners in various ways.
We see this in various experiments comparing economists to others.


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


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-11-29 Thread Dan Lewis
At 02:15 PM 11/29/2003 -0500, Robin Hanson wrote:
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
situations
 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.


If you need an example of being too clever by half, go watch a low-stakes
Texas Hold'Em poker table in a casino.  I'm not going to recap how the game
works here, but suffice it to say that (with a slight exception) one can
choose to not play the hand dealt them and, in folding, not suffer any
pecuniary loss.  You'll see one or more players at the table doing exactly
that -- playing tight: folding just about every hand, waiting until their
hand is exceptionally strong.  The other nine players may play more
loosely, hoping that their hand will improve (in a sense, to beat the odds
and get lucky).  But when the tight player stays in for a hand, after a
while everyone else folds, assuming that he'll win.
The pain of being clever -- that is, being smart enough to not trust
oneself to get lucky -- is that the others should be smart enough to
realize this before long, and one cannot win anything more than the blinds
(Hold'em speak for ante).   The remedy for this ill is to play a bad hand
occassionally, or, if possible, to change tables.  But neither is all that
good.

 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?
I agree with Wei here, given enough experience with the other person.  The
problem with faking being dumb, at least in the poker analogy, is that
sometimes, succeeding in doing so is a bad thing.  The poker equivalent is
playing a winning hand as if you're losing, hoping to draw in the person
who has a strong hand.  The problem is that you can only fake having a bad
hand when you actually have a good one AND someone else does, and therefore
you can't do it too often.  If someone reverse-bluffs often enough, chances
are a lot of times they simply don't have the winning hand.  So, you need
to play w/the same people to get a good taste for when they're
reverse-bluffing and when they're not, but once you have that experience,
you don't see a lot of successful reverses; the strong hand will stop
raising the winning hand.
Dan


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-11-26 Thread Robin Hanson
On 11/25/2003, Wei Dai wrote:
Besides the well-known costs of higher intelligence (e.g., more energy
use, bigger heads causing more difficult births), it seems that being
smart can be a disadvantage when playing some non-zero-sum games. Here is
one example. How often do these games occur in real life, I wonder?
Consider an infinitely repeated game with 2n players, where in each round
all players are randomly matched against each other in n seperate
prisoner's dillema stage games.  ...
some smart players who are able to recognize the pattern and predict
whether a given stage game's outcome will be published. And suppose it's
public knowledge who these smart players are. ...
... marking all smart  players as bad, ... smart players actually
end up worse off than normal players. ...
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 situations
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.  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.
Robert Trivers has argued that we evolved to be self-deceived about many
particular things, and to be too dumb to figure out this fact.
(see: http://www.mercatus.org/pdf/materials/465.pdf )  We consistently
think ourselves to be more able and trustworthy than we really are, for
example, but can't seem to realize this.
Let me suggest this as an explanation for why people find it so difficult
to understand economics.  Humanity can't be faulted for not understanding
basic physics until recently, since we didn't have instruments to measure
this stuff until recently.  But we've had the key data on human social
interactions for many millennia.  Yet most educated people actually seem
to understand physics better than economics.  Why?
My explanation is that we evolved to hold tight to certain misconceptions
about our social world, and this makes it difficult to think carefully
about economics.  We have misconceptions about physics too, but are
willing to give up most of them more easily.
Of course since many other topic overlap in complex ways with economics
topics, this raises the questions of what exactly are the cues that
our evolved minds use to figure out which topics they should act dumb on.


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


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-11-26 Thread Wei Dai
On Wed, Nov 26, 2003 at 04:47:17PM -0500, Robin Hanson 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 situations
 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? (116 vs
100, according to http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/ashkenaz.htm.)

 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.

 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.


why aren't we smarter?

2003-11-25 Thread Wei Dai
Given that there is significant existing variation in human intelligence,
it's curious that we are not all much smarter than we actually are.
Besides the well-known costs of higher intelligence (e.g., more energy
use, bigger heads causing more difficult births), it seems that being
smart can be a disadvantage when playing some non-zero-sum games. Here is
one example. How often do these games occur in real life, I wonder?

Consider an infinitely repeated game with 2n players, where in each round
all players are randomly matched against each other in n seperate
prisoner's dillema stage games. After each round is finished, the outcomes
are recorded and published.

One plausible outcome of this game is for everyone to follow this strategy
(let's call it A): Initially mark all players as good. If anyone defects
against a player who is marked as good, mark him as bad. Play
cooperate against good players, defect against bad players.

Now suppose in each stage game, there is probability p that the outcome is
not made public. Also assume that n is large enough so that we can
disregard the possibility that two players might face each other again in
the future and remember a previous non-published outcome. Now depending on
p, the discount factor, and the actual payoffs, it can still be an
equilibrium for everyone to follow strategy A.

For example, suppose the payoffs are 2,2/3,-10/-10,3/0,0, and p=0.5. If a
player deviates from the above strategy and plays defect against a
good player, he gains 1 utility (compared to strategy A) for the current
round, but has a probability of 0.5 of losing 2 utility in each future
round.

Now further suppose that the random number generator used to decide
whether each outcome is published or not is only pseudorandom, and there
are some smart players who are able to recognize the pattern and predict
whether a given stage game's outcome will be published. And suppose it's
public knowledge who these smart players are. In this third game, its no
longer an equilibrium for everyone to follow strategy A, because a smart
player should always play defect in any round in which he predicts the
outcome won't be published. The normal players can follow strategy A, or
they can follow a modified strategy (B) which starts by marking all
smart  players as bad, in which case the smart players should also
start by marking all normal players as bad.

In either case the total surplus is less than if there were no smart
players. But with some game parameters, only the latter is an equilibria,
in which case smart players actually end up worse off than normal
players. (Note that even when the first outcome is an equlibrium, it is
not coalition-proof. I.e., the normal players have an incentive to
collectively switch to strategy B.)

For example, consider the above payoffs again. When a normal player
faces a smart player, he knows there is .5 probability that the smart
player will defect. If he deviates from strategy A to play defect, there
is .5 probability that he gains 10 utility, and .5 probability that he
gains 1 utility in the current round and loses no more than 2 utilities in
each future round. Therefore depending on the time discount factor he may
have an incentive to play defect.