Friday, 22 January 2016

Stuart Ritchie reviews "Hive Mind"


  1. Forgive me if this is meant to be implied, but have you read it yourself, Dr. Thompson?

    I'm curious about this part of his review:

    "Patience is more than just a virtue. If the economist Garett Jones's new book, Hive Mind, is correct, patience—a consequence of higher intelligence—is no less than the foundation of civilisation. Brighter people “are more patient, more cooperative, and have better memories”

    I am always seeking for explanations for the socalled Great Divergence, in particular why Science didn't occur in East Asia, rather than in Europe, despite the IQ scores. It seems that the few psychometrics upon which North Europeans reliably but strongly outperform East Asians have to do with metrics of social capital, and with time preference (Mashmallow Tests, and so on). Does Hive Mind go beyond IQ, and directly measure "patience"?

  2. I not seen a paper identifying patience with IQ. I'd predict they correlate <=.3, with most of that being a confusion between impatience (not waiting to do the right thing) and error (doing the wrong thing because one has errantly computed it to be the correct thing).

    A good example is delay discounting "would you rather have $1 today or $1.05 tomorrow" correlates < .1 with IQ I believe (would have to pull up a citation).

    The correlation between a test in which all subjects know what the right thing to do is and IQ should yield a zero correlation (according to my understanding of what g is (i.e., knowing or being able to learn what the right thing to do is).

    Plenty of room for selection on patience (conscientiousness) as a virtue in smart people.

  3. IQ might be correlated with many things, but not equal to it.

    Paler skin is associated with IQ, but not pale skin genes contributing to higher IQ. It is product of devolution with higher IQ people. Wealth is another example. Stupid people can get rich too. Patience is just another example of such association with high intelligence. But there are plenty of high IQ with low patience or delayed ratification.

    Example: Christopher Langan

    Despite of his high IQ, he seems lack future orientation and not very rich at end.


  4. This Ritchie kid is a hugely impressive thinker and writer.

  5. I liked his crack about avoiding genetics "given the potential for misunderstandings". How many of them, I wonder, would be wilful misunderstandings? Oh the joy of declaring "I am a saint and you are a nazi."

  6. My sentimentally favorite paper on a direct measure of patiencr, which I discuss in Hive Mind:

    East Asian countries have higher savings rates than can readily be explained by the usual covariates. So my story helps explain the puzzle.

    I have my own academic paper as well, on my website, but I like the China paper because it is clear about the anomaly.

    In my Asian Development Bank essay, I also discuss some survey measures of patience, some might find that of value.

    The statistically significant link between IQ and time preference, combined with peer effects in frugality, opens a door to much of economic and political theory: both have major roles for time preference. Having a clear theoretical reason for IQ's importance across the economy is valuable, especially when the link from IQ to wages is modest, and I see time preference everywhere in formal models.

    1. First of all, you did fantastic work linking human biological nature with economical performance. After all, genetically different species will not do what human can do no matter what condition you provide for them. So genetic difference in human should have similar effect to lesser degree.

      Your IQ explanation about delayed gratification/patience/trust make a lot of sense. But I believe these are associations instead of explanation or causation among these factors ( intelligence, patience, trust, wealth/income). Just like studies confirm depigmentation association with intelligence, not causation.

      From evolutional perspective, some one with high IQ but lack of patience is like a muscular athlete with disability. They will have reduced survival benefit comparing to some one who have both intelligence and patience. On the other hand, a stupid person with good patience will not work either. He gonna waste his time for no thing. He better take care himself now instead of investment in the scam artist trap. So only smart person with good delayed gratification can achieve the best result for survival of himself and his offsprings. Over thousands and thousands years, such traits might coevolve together. Pale skin is mutation of pigment genes for some people who is smart enough to make living mostly in doors for generations. High IQ people tend to have a lot of book at home. But a lot of book at home will not make stupid person to be smarter.

      Another biological factor also important in time-delay gratification is natural life expectancy. Native American have only about 50 years (I might be wrong). Investment in future make less sense for them. Live for the moment is far better. On the other hand, Asian American have the highest (close to 80). With exponential growth of investment, 30 years can make a lot of difference in future. A person with nature long life had better to think about future. A person with long life expectancy but not investing in future will not work. A person with short life expectancy and investing in long non-existence future is meaningless. All these associations are product of evolution.

      Again all these are just hypothesis, open to change with new evidence. After all, intellectual exchange helps scientific exploration.


    2. Correction

      I do agree your explanation about trust vs IQ. It makes sense that intelligent person can accurately evaluate people and form correct assessment about who can be trusted. With accurate conclusion of most people can be trusted. However, stupid people can not tell the difference between false and truth. So they have no idea who can be trusted or not trusted. The end result is not trusting anything as protection.

      In a population with higher IQ, long term memory is big deal. No body can get away to do thing wrong and let people forget about it. This also serve as another factor against people who dare to break trust. Most stupid people have terrible long term memory. But they are good at forget and forgive, which does not help to build trust.


    3. other ''iq lover''...

      ''iq is my life''

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