RE: IQ - A cautionary tale (Re: The ways of child prodigies)

From: Michael Vassar (
Date: Wed Nov 16 2005 - 11:31:51 MST

Herb M: Have Mensa's tests been shown to predict life outcomes, or merely
to produce internally consistant results. If not the latter, who cares?
Have physical correlates such as height, brain glucose consumption, brain
size, and reaction time been found for any "high ceiling" tests? If yes to
all of the above, Tyler C and Michael A should probably start investigating
and look for potentially promising programmers/theorists. If no, we are
probably better off using well validated tests taken at an earlier age, and
I already posted how repeatable but small (about 2-fold for most rare IQ
based positive life outcomes) the difference in outcomes is between 99th
percentile and 99.99th percentile SAT scores at age 12.

Phil G: I'm pretty sure that the documented correlations between sub-task
test scores decline fairly steadily with increasing 'g' even within the
normal range, (with numerous IQ 50-70 outliers, primarily autistic but
sometimes with other syndromes) strongly substantiating your position.

J. Andrew Rogers: The fact that the average human's performance on IQ tests
"threw you" when you administered them is important. For all of our
arrogance, most Transhumanists grossly overestimate the abilities of
ordinary humans. This is substantially a consequence of how folk psychology
works, and fails to work for outliers, but also a consequence of typically
limited and iscolated life experience. Unfortunately, it has serious
consequences when predicting the future. Our estimates of the likely
behavior of large scale groups, the effort that will be devoted to a
particular research objective, or the time until some task is accomplished
are all grossly distorted. For many transhumanists this means that boogie
men such as "terrorists" are imagined as something that never was,
disutility maximizers, and the resultant threats of bioterror and nanoterror
are overestimated by many orders of magnitude. For almost all
transhumanists this means an underestimation of inertia, leading Chris
Phoenix's fears of pre-emptory arms races and Nick Bostrom's utopian dreams
of world government and benign regulation of dangerous tech. At SL4, it
probably means a serious overestimate of the immediacy of the existential
risk associated with more powerful hardware.

I strongly recommend that before wearing a "futurist" hat, all
transhumanists try putting on a "historical futurist" hat. Try to put
yourself, with your current folk-psychology derived folk-psychohistory, in
the role of a person in some recent decade, with the knowledge a person
somewhat like yourself would have had then. Observe where your model goes
wrong and simply admit ignorance until you have fixed it.

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