Joe Rogan and Eric Weinstein Discuss IQ Tests


5 years ago



Eric Weinstein

6 appearances

Eric Weinstein is a mathematician, economist, and managing director at Thiel Capital.


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To give you an idea of where my energy comes from. Let's imagine that you actually believe that males and females are equally intelligent. Okay. Just a fissure and equivalence. Can I say LOL? Then what would you be? You'd be fascinated as to why you don't have males and females in an intellectually and equal numbers in a demanding occupation. So you'd start saying, huh, if I already assume that males and females are equally intelligent, I care about different categories. How much of this is about fertility? How much of this is about kin work? How much of this is about structural oppression? How much of this is about path dependence? You do some very careful thing in order to understand your problem. And only when you'd finally understood your problem would you say, okay, now I have an idea of how to remediate it. We need a financial product that transfers money from late life to early life because the huge burden that knocks women out of the STEM pipeline might be that they have to take care of elderly parents or young kids. Bingo. Now you're working in a totally different idiom because you've actually come up with a different idea. Or for example, if you make, if you hard code, like Sean Carroll, I think just had a podcast in which he said something to the effect of, well, the IDW is kind of too interested in race and IQ. I have never been interested in race and IQ. The only time I became interested in race and IQ was when I started hearing there is absolutely no variation between groups in, you know, in any kind of a cognitive endowment. Well, certainly there is in terms of height, the ability to radiate heat, melanin content of the skin, the ability to absorb sunlight. It doesn't pass the smell test that you could be able to say that a priori. It's just, it's not a scientific type statement. It's something you'd have to investigate. So in that situation, am I interested in some finding that says that one group is smarter and other groups are not as smart? Do I believe that IQ equals smartness? No, I don't believe IQ equals smartness. Do I believe that there's no cultural bias? I think there is cultural bias. You know, I'm definitely on record of saying there are ways in which groups that are said to fare less well in terms of IQ demonstrate actual intellectual dominance. This is some rich, weird area I've never cared about before. And the only reason that it becomes interesting to me is that suddenly we're making these incredible proclamations with certainty. Like you can't say this word or this is absolutely true. And like life doesn't work like that. There's no word in the English language. George Carlin made this point all the time. There are no bad words. There's bad intent. Yes. There are bad people. Well, isn't it also the issue of being a part of a group? Say more. The IDW is too interested in race and IQ. I'm not. I'm not. Who is? I mean, I'm really not. I don't discuss that at all. I understand. But who is interested? Sam Harris has discussed it before, but he discussed it with someone who was studying. I don't think Sam Carlin. I think that Sam felt that he had, Sam felt that Charles Murray had been railroaded by him, by he Sam Harris. And then as Sam came to understand what it is like to have a mob turn on you, Sam said, maybe I'm wrong about Charles Murray. And then Ezra Klein made this really interesting point in a really unfair way against Sam, which was basically like, hey, you don't know what Charles Murray is. He's a hybrid. He's not just a social scientist. He's also got an agenda. Right. Is that accurate? I think so. I've never read Murray's work, but I know. I don't know enough to say either, but I. Deeply polarizing. I think. The bell curve, the whole idea about being able to recognize the differences in race and IQ, it's a very contentious subject. Both analyzed. First of all, I mean, look, I have to admit that I don't score that well on certain tests. So I have a built in total skepticism of IQ tests, SAT tests, ACT tests, any kind of test. Because it's an unnatural examination. It's not intelligence. It just isn't. What is it? It's a proxy. Like there are people who think, oh, it's a really good proxy. I've never met someone who has a really high IQ though, that I deemed to be intellectually inferior. Yeah, but I've met people who don't have very high IQs who just blow me away. Yes. Right. Well, there's absolutely, there's a type of intelligence that certain people possess, particularly creative intelligence. Yeah. There's a creative intelligence. Like there's certain people that might not score well on SAT tests, but they're capable of producing amazing stuff, whether it's literature, comedy, whatever it is, movies, they can make things, they can do things. They have a genius in their ability and that requires some intelligence. Right. It requires some immeasurable, there's something that you can't put on a scale. Well, this is what I, you know, I said to Jordan, I said to Jordan Peterson, I said, I don't think I have an IQ because the conceit, we have to remember that a priori, we would always have guessed that intelligence was many different things. It was a composite of like lots of different types of intelligence. Right. The conceit around IQ is you'd think that was true, but guess again. There's essentially one kind of intelligence. There's one scale. It's a surprise. Oh, that's really surprising. Tell me something. Of the various forms of intelligence, is one of the things that you call intelligence processing? Yes, yes, processing is very important. I don't score well on processing. In fact, I don't think anyone in my family has ever scored well on processing. What do you mean by processing? Some kind of mechanical process of how quickly and flawlessly you can encode information, play with it and get it out. You know, like if you're a dyslexic, let's take spelling. Lots of people on Twitter say, haha, you misspelled here. In fact, it's H-E-A-R in the case that you meant. It really just shows me something about your intelligence that you can't keep track of spelling. Okay. That's your level of thought. Do you know how many brilliant people can't spell, can't write? Well also, you're not even thinking. You're just trying to get the word out and you've missed that. Yeah, but like my mind, you know, at some point I got sent home, I think, because I was asked to draw a chicken in school and I put two wings and four feet on it. I'm so non-observant. My handwriting- You got sent home? Yeah, something like this. They sent you home? I was like aberrant or, you know, I was making fun of the teacher. Because it was four legged chicken? Well, you know, famously Mrs. Baccuero in first grade sent me out of the class because I said that a spider wasn't an insect because it had eight legs. And that it- She sent you out of class? Yeah, because I was- Well, you're correct. In that case, I was. In the case of a chicken, I wasn't. Well, maybe you saw some weird fucking Chernobyl chicken somewhere. Yeah, man. Chernobyl chicken, chicken Kiev. That's good. That's comedy gold. My point being that if you don't have a high confidence in normal metrics, the race and IQ discussion doesn't land. So to get back to Charles Murray. So Charles Murray, it is, it, it, it's hard to say. He wrote the bell curve. Right. Was either dismissed as being racist or applauded by people who you would call white nationalists. Who trot out his ideas as proof. Right. As measurable proof that certain races are superior. And you know, we could discuss the many online people who trot those out all the time and they use it to form these weird groups of people that love to hear that. Right. And that smacks of racism. Well, this is the issue, which is you have a situation in which he appeared to have a political orientation, which is that he didn't want money spent in certain ways and he wanted it spent in others. There was an political interpretation of why he wanted that, which was maybe he's a closet racist. Then there was facts that will tend to empower people who are actually racist. All right, but let me pause you there. Sure. But then there's the actual data. Right. And then examining the actual data, if you just look at the actual data, is it racist to look at the real numbers? Like if you say Nigerians in particular, who are incredibly industrious in some of the more successful immigrant groups that come over to America, also happen to be black. If you wanted to look at Nigerians in terms of like, if you wanted to, if you wanted to look at them particularly as a group, it'd be very difficult to be racist. You'd have to say, well, these are superior. A lot of superior intellects come from Nigeria. They also trot out the Asian one. Right. That a, like this is one of the weird things that people like to show that they're not racist. Right. Like look, it shows Asians are of a superior IQ. I puzzle on that one. That one's puzzling. Same one. Because I think with certain people, with certain males, let's just go with males, they look at African Americans and they see superiority in certain ways. They see superiority athletically, artistically, musically. If you look at the contributions of African Americans culturally across the board in terms of like the real, the Jimi Hendrix, the Miles Davis. Native thought and creativity, like analytic. Well, not just that. Also athletically, like the fucking outliers are just so many. There's so many Michael Jordans, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard's. There's so many African American outliers who are just extraordinary in terms of their accomplishments. Right. But not that many Asian Americans in that regard. So it's almost like they'll concede. Like they're not doing the things that make me jealous. Do you see what I'm saying? They're not creating this insane music, although there are a few, right? But overall, they're not creating these insane athletic accomplishments that these white Americans can't keep up with. So we'll say, but look, they're superior intellectually, so I can't be racist. I'm pointing out that these Asians who I'm not jealous of, because they don't do the things that I wish that I could do. But then when it comes to the African Americans, they're pointing out all the things that the African Americans can do that they can't do, but they're saying, oh, but they're intellectually inferior. Well, this is proven. I'm not racist. I don't want this to be true, but it seems to be true. I see. You see what I'm saying? It's like a way of suppressing accomplishment. Right. While like almost mitigating the impact of the jealousy that they feel. So if you think about, for example, first of all- Does that make sense? I think so. First of all, I just, I hate this topic. Yeah, it's a weird topic. It's a weird topic. It feels greasy, even touching it. But now we have to. I feel like my wrong view of it is if you'd never brought this thing up, we would never have had to deal with it. And I no longer believe that's true because we have so much inadvertent data. I don't want the data on chess. We have an idea of how many grandmasters there are and which groups like male, female, Asian, black, various portions of Europe. I don't know what that data means, but I can't stop the data because it's going to be generated even if nobody comes up with a standardized test because it's a game and it's scored and it has something to do with intellectual abilities. On the other hand, I mean, I'm a competitive guy and I am. You do comedy. I do some amount of music. I can guarantee you that both of us have had our ass kicked at some point by African-Americans who excel in both of these areas. And I don't mean all God's children got rhythm. I mean getting out thunk in a competitive situation, looking over somebody's shoulder on the keyboard and they're thinking so quickly in so many dimensions, I can't even imagine what the hell is going on. So therefore, I never had a lot of fear about it because I'm in close proximity with somebody who's just kicking my ass. And therefore, I thought I could leave these topics alone. I would never have to deal with it. The way in which that they come up in a way that is really unpleasant is this new thing, which is that all imbalances are all structural oppression, which doesn't allow for trade-offs between groups like Finns. Finns are good at some things. They're not good at others. Nobody believes in anti-Finnish prejudice. So we don't think about it. It's just not a big issue for us. Finnish humor. How many Finnish comedians are there? I have no idea. Right. Well, how many do you run into at the comedy store? That's a bad example because you're dealing with America, America in American comedy. And also, you're also dealing with the highest level of the game. The comedy store is essentially like the Harvard research labs of stand-up comedy. Yeah. But nobody's worried about anti-Finnish behavior. We're worried that we're prejudiced against certain groups. We're worried that we're prejudiced against Jews. We're worried that we're prejudiced against Mexicans, against blacks. We have a pretty clean idea of what bigotry we really still need to worry about. And we feel guilty about it. And that's why you say it has this kind of lubricious quality. It's like, what are you really up to over there? Why are you looking at that data set? And what my comment is, is I don't know how to stop this thing. I'm not excited about it. I'm not interested in it. I definitely think that we have to actually think about the social implications of all these things. If your idea is that we're going to stop this at the level of data and analysis, I can't afford that. I just can't afford that. We need to have somebody who's able, like for example, microcephaly. You've got people with smaller heads than the rest of us, maybe because of the Zika virus. Well, is it unethical to study what the cognitive impairment due to microcephaly is? Right. I don't know. I don't know what to do. But I know that I want to have a very thoughtful conversation about it. Well, how can it be? How can it be unethical to study the cognitive impairment of someone who's affected by a disease and that could possibly help fund research, help fund preventative measures? What if there's a correlation with smaller heads and cognitive impairment? You know? And then what if somebody, like let's take mosaic down syndrome. Mosaic down syndrome doesn't have the same profile as regular down syndrome. You get much higher functioning people. Right? I mean, ultimately we're all souls and we have to figure out dignity and we have to figure out some system by which we can live with this increased level of knowledge. But does examining impairment, does that really mean that it's a prejudice? Like what about an examining impairment from people who've been injured? Should we avoid doing that because we don't want to be ableist? Do you see what I'm saying? Not quite. We're talking about reality, right? We're talking about issues. If you're examining someone who contracted the Zika virus and it led to them developing a smaller head, which is one of the horrible side effects of that, is examining that in some way some sort of prejudice? Should we avoid examining their cognitive impairment? If we avoid examining it, we might do some damage. If we examine it and publish the findings, we might do damage. I mean... So you're saying you might do damage to the people that are infected or afflicted? If we don't begin with an idea that ultimately the issue is compassion for ourselves and others and that a lot of our genetics and our history predisposes us to bad behavior now that we're living with each other, like we have to start, I mean as hippy dippy as this sounds, we have to start from a place of love and decency and care. I certainly agree, but I don't think that we should avoid reality. Well, this is the thing, right? Yeah. And I think we should have this other thing, which is reality is compassionate in and of itself. Remember when HIV was an equal opportunity disease and it just started in the gay community and it's going to jump the fire road and it's going to be as much a heterosexual problem as it was a homosexual problem? That turned out not to be true. It was an ideological statement that didn't look at the differences between different kinds of epithelium and different sexual practices between gays and straights. It was an activist position that started to compete with a epidemiological position or a biological position. And so historically what we did is we had private expert communication and it's not always clear that you can trust your experts. It's not always clear that you should start with the data. What if the data says terrible things? Like maybe the data on people with microcephaly says something and you have got a person who's going to be judged by the size of their head, which is visibly off from the rest of their body. We haven't taken up the challenge of our time, which is, okay, we've got a lot more information than we wanted and we have a lot more ability to analyze it and we know something about ourselves. We know that we have got bigotry as part of our makeup and we know that we're not really good at certain ways of integrating information and not becoming triumphalist and jerkish about it and taking victory lapses if it's a competition like my group's better than your group. So that's where we're stuck. Now I want to be struggling with other people who are saying, look, I don't know what the answers are. I don't think, as I brought up before, I don't think East Africans are cheating on the Boston Marathon because they've come to dominate it just because suddenly you had a diverse group of people replaced by a very tiny group from Ethiopia and Kenya. We are behaving, as you would expect, when compassionate people who recognize that they have been bigoted and structurally oppressive encounter data that they can't handle, which the science is giving us more data than we ever wanted on these things, and we're not answering the challenge of our time. And that's what my issue with social justice is. It's not about I don't want a better planet or a more inclusive planet. It's like stop crowding out the really difficult, interesting, open-hearted, and hard-headed conversation with this dime-store nonsense about simple answers and simple truths, because those aren't true. And it's not going to work in the long term. I mean, I guess that's maybe the idea is we're competing with social justice for the rights to try to come up with a better, more equitable future. And the complaint about it isn't you guys are trying to come up with a better, more equitable future. It's, what if you're going to make the same mistake when we said, well, the heterosexuals are as much at risk as the homosexual? That wasn't true. We needed to devote resources to our homosexual community. And we did need to get the heterosexual community interested. We had a problem, and we needed to think about, you know, very thoughtfully, we've got an epidemic that's killing people. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do. And that's what we're going to do.