Sunday, October 05, 2014

The intelligence sweet spot

In an otherwise NA-specific article Steve Sailer makes the following observation about advertisers, that they prefer those:
"who have been to college, because they have more money, but who are not all that bright because (cf. The Bell Curve) there aren’t many people out at the right edge of the bell curve. The spending sweetspot is a little to the right of the median IQ."
This has the ring of truth about it, also accounting for the general dumbness of much TV and the broader media. And Mr Sailer has more: there is a class of irritating intellectual emanating from this part of the distribution which Sailer amusingly labels the Lumpenintelligentsia, characterised by 'self-absorption ,..., wounded amour propre, dimwittedness, and general cluelessness'. You will have heard their opinions in the broadcast media (Radio 4 in the UK is a particular offender) and TV news and current affairs programmes; also in the opinion pages of way too many newspapers.

Further on the subject of the immediate right-hand side of the IQ bell curve, Steve Hsu notes the results of an impressive Swedish Study.
"Match Made at Birth? What Traits of a Million Swedes Tell Us about CEOs

"Abstract: This paper analyzes the role three personal traits — cognitive and non-cognitive ability, and height — play in the market for CEOs. We merge data on the traits of more than one million Swedish males, measured at age 18 in a mandatory military enlistment test, with comprehensive data on their income, education, profession, and service as a CEO of any Swedish company."
Since the standard deviation of the IQ distribution is set at 15 points, the study tells us that the CEOs of large (Swedish) companies have IQs averaging around 115. This is not that high by academic standards. How puzzled should we be?

Steve Hsu observes: (bold = my emphasis)
"Performance beyond a certain level in the vast majority of fields (and business is certainly one of them) is principally a function of having no cognitive and personal qualities which fall below a (high, but not insanely high) hygene threshold -- and then multiplied by determination, of course.

"Conscientiousness, in fact, is the best single stable predictor of job success for complex jobs (well established in personality psychometrics).

"Very high intelligence actually negatively correlates with career success (Kotter), probably because smart people enjoy solving problems, rather than making money selling things -- which outside of quant trading, show business and sport is really the only way of being really successful.

"There are some extremely intelligent people in business (by which I mean high IQ, not just wise or experienced), but you tend to find them in the corners of the business landscape with the richest intellectual pastures: some areas of law, venture capital, some cutting edge technology fields."
Yep, seen this in telecoms. The toilers at the base of the organisation think the senior execs must be incredibly smart. Those I've seen mostly not so much.