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Why Humans Became so Smart and Why We Are Now in Decline.
In The Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence, by David C. Geary, 2005, new dimensions are added to our understanding of general intelligence. This book is thorough, with numerous references and supporting research, and carries on where The Bell Curve and The g Factor left off.
I was hoping that there would be a best seller dealing with general intelligence like The Bell Curve, as a decade has passed and the research keeps accelerating towards its vindication. Perhaps we will have to wait a few more years when we should begin to find at least a few of the IQ genes and the controversy should come to a close. The Origin of Mind is equivalent in importance to other books, but will of course be ignored by the media because it not only confirms the Jensenist hypotheses, it also goes well beyond it in establishing where in the brain general intelligence is located, what processes are involved, and how it evolved in humans.
Geary's book is interlaced with concepts that are dispersed throughout the chapters, so I have compiled some key areas to focus on that I find personally interesting and relevant to eugenics and human behavior. He discusses early on the human desire to control—or motivation to control. By this, he means that every human is biased to control his or her environment for survival, and we have evolved in a way to control not only the environment, but also others around us in order to succeed. Humans have evolved three independent systems that are in place at birth and only need to be trained or tuned to the current situation as children mature: folk physics, folk biology, and folk psychology. Folk psychology is especially important today because it is how we deal with each other in terms of competition, coalition formations, indoctrinability, gossip, competition for resources and sexual mating, warfare, notions of justice, etc. It biases us to act in certain ways under certain circumstances without our conscious awareness.
Friendships for example are biased by our folk psychology, but unlike most human interactions, it does not lead to a need to socially control friends. True friends do not try to control each other for personal gain. It is also probably true that if competition between friends ends up in competition for a mate, the friendship will end forthwith as the relation is severed to pursue a motivation to control the ex-friend.
Competencies in the motivation to control system relies only partly on general intelligence, as other affective competencies such as self-awareness, sensitivity to mood, etc. also come into play. That is, general intelligence can improve our ability to use our innate folk psychology, but it is not enough.
For males, the motivation to control, and the drive for higher intelligence to use it effectively, entails using it for increasing status, dominance, prestige, as well as monitoring females and other males to gain access to and keep other males from reproductive females. Female competition largely involves the manipulation of social relationships in order to protect the young, gain status for offspring, and assuring that males provide for children. This is why males have better visual-spatial intelligence (hunting and bringing home precious meat required findings one's way back home), while females have superior language fluency (using gossip for manipulation of social relationships). Geary states, "Rather than physical competition or direct status-related activities, female-on-female aggression is more commonly relational. It involves learning about the emotional states, secrets, intentions, and so on of other women and, if necessary, using this information to manipulate the web of social relationships within which the women are embedded."
If the motivation to control is so dominate in humans, wouldn't that lead to constant conflict and chaos? No, because it is constrained by other human mechanisms: from our tribal past with its primitive animism, to more sophisticated religions, to monarchies or despotism, to democracy, humans have adopted social systems to adjust levels of dominance and control of others. Along with guilt and shame, we know the limits, usually, of how far we can push others in order to have our own way. Since everyone competes, it is a game of hierarchy and leverage. The higher we rise in society, the more we demand; the farther we fall, the more complacent we become about our situations: "Aspiration means that the organism may continually adjust the definition of what is 'good enough' on the basis of the most immediate successes or failures or on the lifetime pattern of successes and failures…. When combined with a fundamental motivation to control, continual success can result in rapacious behavior and 'megalomania,' at least in humans."
Finally, "The basic argument is that many of the same mechanisms that support the motivation to control, such as efficiency of working memory and problem-solving mechanisms, appear to contribute to individual differences in general intelligence. The motivation to control thus provides the link between models of brain and cognitive evolution and empirical research on general intelligence."
Male coalitions leading to ingroup–outgroup conflict is another mechanism leading to higher intelligence. From our tribal past, where group conflict or intertribal warfare was endemic, we are now easily indoctrinated to form non-tribal coalitions based on sports, employment, nations, politics, religion, ethnicity, or any other coalition seen (or believed to be) beneficial to the members. Now that the United States is no longer a nation with a people of common values, we have been indoctrinated into believing that we are now a multiculturalist–diversity embracing state and that is the way it was supposed to be all along. This allows our leaders to mobilize for a war in Iraq to spread democracy—and we think it is good and proper.
As Geary notes, "Given the strong coupling between coalitional dominance and this array of survival and reproductive outcomes, selection will by necessity favor individuals with the social and cognitive competencies needed to develop, maintain, and successfully use such coalitions…. The basic human social structure is presumed to consist of kinship groups that cooperate to compete with other kinship groups over control of resource-rich ecologies and to manipulate reproductive dynamics. Within-group relationships will entail a balance of cooperation to meet shared goals and conflict because of divergent goals. In theory and typically in practice, the relative bias toward cooperation or conflict varies directly with the degree of genetic relatedness between the individuals. When combined with the potential for group-level conflict, these within-group dynamics create pressures for the evolutionary elaboration of a folk psychological system, as many contemporary scientists have emphasized and as Darwin suggested more than 130 years ago."
Within male social groups then the competition is for social status dominance to influence others and to control resources. Intergroup conflict comes about as tribal coalitions fight for females, resources, and territory. A win-win for a successful raiding party to attack a neighboring tribe to kill everyone but the females that are reproductive, occupy the land, and take valuable resources. It also prevents the other tribe from doing likewise to them. Preemption is preferable if your tribe is stronger and/or the other tribe is likely to attack. The greater the intelligence of the tribe, either collectively or among some uniquely perceptive leaders, the better the chances of survival. Today we call it politics, warfare, and soccer.
As for females as Geary explains it, "Women, of course, form cooperative social groups, but typically within territory defined by men's coalitions. Participation in these social networks provides women with social and emotional support and stability for themselves and their children. Stability of the social network, including the marital relationship, improves physical and psychological health and, through this, survival prospects of children in some contexts (United Nations, 1985). Unlike that of men, female–female competition is not coalitional but is still related to attempts to achieve access to desired resources, including mates."
Geary also explains that the formation of larger coalitional groups through shared ideologies, beliefs, and rules of conduct, etc. were beneficial as the larger the group, and the more committed, the better chances they have in overcoming any other outgroup. In terms of the modern state, however, this may no longer be true. Today, small coalitions (small businesses, small cults, etc.) can form very tight ingroups that can do well against larger, less unified competitors. This however is true primarily due to the state taking on the function of maintaining social order, while at the same time being unable to stop coalition free-riders from taking advantage loop-holes or merely rejecting the state's indoctrination. For example, those who are volunteering to go to Iraq and fight are buying in to the patriotism value system; whereas most of the elite are making sure they make money off the war—not die in it.
Geary states, "Although they tend not to consider the phenomena in terms of selection pressures, social psychologists have studied in-group–out-group dynamics and group identification for much of the 20th century and now have a considerable understanding of these dynamics at a cognitive and behavioral level. Hewstone and colleagues concluded that 'threat is a central explanatory concept in several of the theories . . . and literature on intergroup bias.' The theories and literature focus on the details of prejudice, favorable evaluations of and identification with members of a perceived in-group, and derogation of and hostilities toward members of out-groups, as well as other forms of social cognition." Could there by any greater threat than being occupied by a foreign country, even if they claim it is for their own good? What a price we pay for ignoring the behavioral sciences.
Males form stronger coalitions than do females, or females are just subsumed under male coalitions, supporting them in defense of the tribe. The evidence is that typically, females leave behind male based kin groups and travel to neighboring tribes when necessary to find a suitable mate. On the other hand, males will travel far distances in search of adventure, resources and women. These occasional migrations can have a significant impact on those that they meet:
"Further evidence for sexual selection comes from mtDNA and Y chromosome patterns that indicate that ancestral males were often from geographically distant populations. Carvajal-Carmona and colleagues reported one of the more extreme results; they assessed mtDNA and Y chromosome patterns for a Colombian (South America) population that was established in the 16th to 17th centuries. The results revealed that the maternal ancestry of this population was largely (more than 90%) Amerindian (i.e., native South American), whereas the paternal ancestry was largely (94%) European. When combined with historical records, these genetic patterns paint a picture of male–male competition in which European men displaced Amerindian men to the reproductive benefit of the former and at a large cost to the latter."
Therefore, men typically stay where they are born, in order to form kin-based coalitions, while women emigrate to the birth place of their husbands, but usually close by. This then raises an interesting question about modern society. In Middle America for example, those who stay behind are more likely to maintain their birth kin-based coalitions; more parochial in their worldviews. Those who leave home for academic training, the military, a better job, or just for adventure or to find a mate, are more likely to lose their parochial worldview for a more cosmopolitan worldview if that is the culture they find themselves in.
This is probably why cosmopolitans tend to mimic the latest trends and fashions, including liberalism of all forms. They are simply less committed to any specific worldview, or are at least as likely to just adopt what those around them have adopted. I know that within a very diverse urban group, I will change my politics depending on which group I am amongst, while retaining my zeal to constantly test how far I can push and probe the ever prevalent dogma held by most, and very intelligent people for the most part, I might add.
Geary notes, "I assume that humans are biased to generate a fantasy representation of how the world 'should' operate, that is, a representation of the world that would be most favorable to the individual's reproductive (e.g., fantasy of the 'perfect' mate) and survival interests." Though this might be true individually, it is also to be noted that humans then will "act" in such a way as to appear to have similar worldviews as those around them, in order to attract mates and advance their own interests. That is, it is evolutionarily adaptive to modify one's internal worldview to that of those around them as a means of deception.
Geary states, "The implication [for our high intelligence] is that there might have been a co-evolving relation between self-awareness and theory of mind. Self-awareness is in effect the counterstrategy to other people's ability to see through one's social deceptions and make inferences about underlying goals and motives."This means we have evolved a high level of intelligence for the purpose of deception, self-deception, coalition building, dominance, and indoctrinability. Few people have the openness and/or intelligence to question the current dogmas that we swallow from out leaders and institutions.
Geary continues, "Controlled attention, working memory, and other executive functions, such as the ability to work with memories, are necessary supporting components of these conscious-psychological simulations. The result is the ability to generate an explicit simulation and maintain it in an active and changeable state in Baddeley's episodic buffer. Problem solving involves successive and goal-related changes in this state and is understandable in terms of the features described in the Controlled Problem Solving section of chapter 6, such as problem space, legal operators, and means–ends analysis. The legal operators are the laws, other social influences (e.g., gossip), and feelings (e.g., guilt) that constrain or promote the types of behaviors that are deemed acceptable in striving to achieve the goal. The combination represents the explicit, controlled problem-solving mechanisms used to generate and simulate strategies to reduce the distance between one's perfect world and current circumstances."
Is it any wonder then that so few people understand their own ideologies, but adhere to what they have been told is truth? Following the indoctrination machines by both the Islamists and the American Press, is it any wonder why politics is entirely irrational in terms of any meaningful truth? Geary does not mention it, but this is why morality is also a meaningless term outside of universal Darwinism. Morality follows from evolutionary principles, and it is maintained as a system of acceptable behaviors for the advancement primarily of the tribe (Salter 2003).
Everyone's value system then just reflects what is good for the individual—and good for the individual via tribal cohesion and action. Geary explains what is fundamental to evolution but is denied by virtually all humans: "The autonoetic [knowledge of past, present and future] mental model enables one to generate a self-centered simulation of the perfect world and to simulate strategies to reduce the difference between this perfect world and current conditions; a perfect world is one in which other people behave in ways consistent with one's best interest and biological and physical resources are under one's control. The systems that evolved to support the use of autonoetic mental models are known as general fluid intelligence, working memory, and attentional control. The combination of these systems and folk knowledge is the foundation on which human intellectual and cultural advances have been built."
Unfortunately, those systems are not rational. Humans have the ability to be rational with enough effort and intelligence, but most humans are limited by bounded rationality—our cognitive systems are biased to interpret and act upon the world in certain ways. Most of our mental machinery still "enables the organism to automatically and implicitly attend to and process evolutionary coupled ecological information and guide rational decisions in these contexts…. Heuristics are the cognitive representations (e.g., memory patterns) and biases (e.g., tendency to weight some memories more than others) that result in decision-making rules of thumb…. For heuristics that have an evolved basis, the intuitions that influence decision making are very likely to be features of folk knowledge, that is, biases that evolved in natural ecologies but that may also lead to judgment errors in modern society. As an example, people judge the risk of dying in a plane crash on the basis of how easily they recall examples of plane crashes from long-term memory, called the availability heuristic. This heuristic probably results in a good intuitive sense of risk in natural settings, but mass media reporting of plane crashes results in memories that distort this heuristic and result in an overestimate of this risk."
Mithen (1996) discusses how humans had separate modules for biology, physics, and psychology, that did not communicate with each other very well at first, but slowly started exchanging information with other parts of the brain. About 50,000~20,000 years ago, humans were at their peak in terms of an evolutionary arms race to compete with each other and between tribes using their expanded intellect. Those who could compete in ways that were not routine won out over those who could not—including intellectual competition between members of a tribe as well as intellectual competition between tribes. Smarter, and more fearsome tribes could conquer other tribes, expand, and flourish while lesser tribes perished.
Geary states, "My proposal in this section is that the empirical and theoretical research on general intelligence and especially fluid intelligence has identified many of the core features that support the use of autonoetic mental models, which evolved as a result of the social and to a lesser extent ecological pressures described in previous chapters. The core function of autonoetic mental models is the ability to mentally generate a problem space that includes a representation of the 'perfect world.' In the perfect world, the individual is in control of the social, biological, and physical resources that have tended to covary with survival and reproductive prospects during human evolutionary history: The behavior of other people and the flow of resources align with the individual's best interest. The real world operates differently, however. The goal is to generate strategies that will reduce the difference between conditions in the real world and those simulated in the perfect world, that is, to generate ways to gain better control of important relationships and resources."
There has been over 100 years of research on general intelligence, and what Geary is proposing is that this research shows that general intelligence, or g, is now found in specific areas of the brain, and in rather specific systems of brain development. All other theories of what intelligence is have been set aside because they just could not provide the solid data along the line of Jensenism (Jensen 1998). Geary has taken Jensen's mental ability model, and integrated it with an evolutionary explanation of how it developed.
In psychometrics, there are two primary components of general intelligence: Fluid intelligence (gF) and Crystallized intelligence (gC). "My proposal in this section is that research on general fluid intelligence, gF, has identified many of the core cognitive processes and brain systems that support the use of autonoetic [past, present, future processes] mental models and that gF evolved as a result of the social and to a lesser extent the ecological pressures I describe in earlier chapters. The ability to use these mental simulations is dependent on working memory, attentional control, and a brain system that includes the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. These executive brain and cognitive systems function to deal with variation and novelty in social and ecological conditions and thus should be engaged when individuals must cope with conditions and information that cannot be automatically and implicitly processed by the modular systems described in chapter 5 and the heuristics described in chapter 6. In other words, the 100 years of empirical research on g has isolated those features of autonoetic mental models that are not strongly influenced by content and that enable explicit representations of information in working memory and an attentional-dependent ability to manipulate this information in the service of strategic problem solving. Horn's and Cattell's definition of fluid intelligence and subsequent research on the underlying cognitive and brain systems are consistent with this view: There is considerable overlap in the cognitive and brain systems that support autonoetic mental models and those that support fluid abilities."
Geary explains that during this evolutionary arms race for higher intelligence, the environment became less important and competition between humans flourished. Humans had acquired the ability to totally dominate the environment, and expand to levels where they encroached on other humans' territories. This led to competition for resources and sexual selection, both between and within tribes. It was a time of fluctuating numbers of humans, not so much based on the ecology as on each other, and the smarter people out bred the lesser intelligent people. These people were increasingly more "cognitively, socially, and behaviorally sophisticated individuals."
Even within primates, Geary explains, the sexual competition, dominance, and coalitional complexities are extreme, and that is without being able to gossip. Humans expanded this complexity with language and with the ability to remember the past, think about the present, and contemplate the future. For humans then, "When many people with divergent and competing interests are able to simultaneously anticipate and mentally simulate these moves and countermoves, the complexity of social dynamics explodes, and the predictability of the dynamics decreases accordingly."
Fluid intelligence seems to dominate over crystallized intelligence in terms of what really matters, it seems to be the primary basis of individual differences in intelligence. gF is the engine of mental ability, whereas gC is what is learned, more or less. Without gF, a person is less capable of learning new facts and implicit actions. Intelligent people then are those that, "can hold more information in working memory and are better able to reason about and draw inferences from the associated patterns. The combination of a large working memory capacity and the ability to reason defines several of the core cognitive competencies that underlie fluid intelligence. Above average performance on measures of g, and particularly gF, is associated with a larger neocortex, especially the dorsolateral area; activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex during the solving of IQ test items; and lower overall metabolic activity in the brain during complex problem solving. In short, many of the same brain regions associated with working memory and complex problem solving that I describe in chapter 7 support fluid intelligence. It appears that intelligent individuals are, through attentional focus, able to engage only those brain regions needed to solve the problem at hand. The attentional focus prevents the activation of task-irrelevant brain regions and thus results in less overall metabolic activity, and at a cognitive level this focus prevents task-irrelevant information from entering conscious awareness. The result is an enhanced ability to use working memory to engage in the problem-solving processes needed to cope with novel situations."
What Geary is looking at is the considerable overlap of those systems that drove our socially biased social systems, along with an evolved sense of the past and future, with those systems that we have now mapped onto areas that are responsible for general intelligence—the systems are the same systems. General intelligence=an evolved social arms race between people and tribes.
This is also the cause for the confusion over "street smarts." It is claimed that some people have street smarts, but just do not do well on tests. But what we are really seeing is again the innate bias of humans when it comes to folk psychology. Geary explains, "Experimental studies of humans are also consistent with an intuitive sense of fair play. Cosmides and Gigerenzer and Hug demonstrated that college students had difficulty solving abstract reasoning problems but easily solved the same problems when they were recast as social exchanges; these social scenarios involved an individual receiving a benefit but only if a required cost is paid or that involved a violation of this conditional arrangement, as with Brosnan and de Waal's monkeys. In other words, these students easily understood these problems when they were presented in ways that tapped their fair play heuristic. Sugiyama, Tooby, and Cosmides found the same pattern with Shiwiar hunter-horticulturalists from the Ecuadoran Amazon. These unschooled adults performed as well as Harvard undergraduates on tests that assessed their ability to detect violations—cheating—of reciprocal social exchanges. At a behavioral level, children are also very sensitive to cheating and will avoid relationships with other children who do not reciprocate or 'play fair.'"
The above could be used to prove that people are all equally intelligent, but that is not the case. Intelligent people are capable of learning these abstract reasoning problems, whereas unintelligent people could never come to understand what is required to solve them. That is, even very intelligent people have to learn how to deal with these types of problems implicitly through learning. In short, both low intelligent people and high intelligent people are equipped with innate heuristics to deal with certain types of recurring problems from out evolutionary past. Intelligent people are more capable however, of learning new and difficult abstract problems that fall outside of these heuristic systems. Just imagine the shy professor and the slick street hustler that has knocked up dozens of women. It could be argued that the street hustler is more intelligent because he is using his "social knowledge," whereas the professor is clumsy and falters around women, and ends up lonely. The difference is that aside from perhaps understanding women intellectually, the professor cannot lay aside millions of years of evolutionary biasing against sexual aggression towards women—even lower status male chimps have to be careful with females. Discovery by dominant chimpanzee males can be painful. With humans, a misstep in terms of cuckoldry could lead to death not that long ago.
Geary explains further, "The attentional systems of the central executive and the accompanying ability to mentally manipulate explicit representations (e.g., words) are important features of working memory. The details regarding the ways in which information is stored and manipulated in working memory and the limits of this system are debated. Nonetheless, it is now clear that individual differences in working memory capacity are related to individual differences in the ability to focus attention and prevent irrelevant information from diverting attention from the task at hand. In addition to attentional control, performance on working memory tasks and on tests of general intelligence is also correlated with the speed of information processing, such as the speed of determining if two line segments are the same length (e.g., "<—" versus "—>")."
These interacting systems of heuristics, biases and raw intelligence co-evolved, with high intelligence riding along with adaptive changes in our behavioral repertoire. Self-awareness, and an increasing sophistication of understanding other's intentions, drove intelligence, but it also kept modifying our innate behavioral systems like guilt, introversion, conscientiousness, etc. Intelligence was evolutionarily beneficial, but under different social circumstances, the introverted person might have out-produced the reckless extrovert. Our increased intelligence helped in the game of "social deception and making inferences about underlying goals and motives" of other people. Intelligence however had inconsistent adaptiveness, or else we would all be geniuses.
Taking Jensen's work further, Geary provides additional data on how general intelligence is a unitary factor: If a person has high intelligence then they will do well on all the varying intelligence tests such as vocabulary, spatial, and numerical proficiency. Low intelligent people will do poorly on all intelligence tests. However, the more intelligent a person is the greater the difference there will between the differing tests. High IQ people tend to specialize in areas that interest them, but still do well on all tests.
Geary then looks at the specific parts of the brain that come into play that support fluid intelligence, and concludes that they overlap with parts of the brain that support autonoetic mental models [Sense of self, others, past, future and present]. "In fact, Horn and many other scientists have argued that measures of strategic problem solving and abstract reasoning define gF, and the primary cognitive system underlying problem solving, reasoning, and thus gF is working memory. The strength of the relation between performance on working memory tasks and scores on measures of reasoning and gF ranges from moderate (rs about 0.5) to very high (rs > 0.8)." Fluid intelligence then is a single factor and to a large degree, it is what it is associated with intelligence. Fluid intelligence is associated with large brain volumes, better short-term memory, faster reaction times, but it is not related to crystallized abilities. Fluid intelligence is also predictive of socioeconomic status (SES), academic performance, occupational status, and income.
Geary states, "When all is said and done, high general intelligence and especially fluid intelligence make it easier to obtain the education needed to enter high-status and high-paying occupations and then to excel in these occupations. In short, general intelligence, especially gF, evolved to facilitate competition with other people for social and resource control and it is still used in this way." Crystallized intelligence (gC) however seems to follow fluid intelligence. That is, gF allows a person to gain knowledge (gC). Crystallized intelligence is then primarily knowledge (facts, concepts, problem-solving procedures) that is better obtained by having a high fluid intelligence plus a second set of competencies are a combination of folk psychology and innate modular competencies.
As Geary explains, "Problem solving in knowledge-rich domains is also influenced by the nature and extent of the individual's declarative knowledge (i.e., explicitly known facts, principles, and so forth) in the domain and the nature and types of operations (or procedures) the individual has learned or inferred from previous problem-solving attempts. Problem solving in these domains can also be influenced by previously learned strategic plans for approaching these tasks. Cognitive psychologists sometimes call the latter schemata. These consist of a memory system of linked operations and the sequence in which they were executed in previous problem-solving situations. Schemata are essentially heuristics that are acquired through the repeated solving of similar forms of complex problems. The entire body of knowledge, including facts, procedures, schemata, that is stored in the individual's long-term memory is a form of intelligence called crystallized general intelligence, …."
Over the last few decades, the debate over what intelligence is has solidified into a hierarchy structure with g at the top (mental ability or general intelligence), with gF and gC making up the two components that make up g, with several other components contributing to either gF or gC like vocabulary, reaction times, mathematical ability, map reading, short and long term memory, etc. This research that spans back over 100 years was summarized in Arthur Jensen's 1998 book The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability. In that book he showed that all other theories about intelligence were unscientific or fatally flawed.
It is interesting now that Geary goes much further than Jensen in showing that what we see as high or low intelligence is primarily gF. Rather than multiple intelligences, psychometrics is building a powerful case that intelligence is a set of innate abilities, located in parts of the brain and in the development of the brain and the brain's chemistry, and that people who are not intelligent lack any hope of excelling in any area of academic success. If you are not smart enough to learn, you will not achieve any lasting knowledge that will lead to success in today's more complex workplace. Geary states, "Spearman found that above-average performance in academic domains was associated with above-average ratings of 'common sense' or out-of-school competencies, which presumably involve some social situations criteria for indexing 'genius' was intimately linked to social eminence and success…. [F]luid abilities are still related to success at social competition, albeit competition in the evolutionarily novel and complex world of modern schools and work environments [also relies on gF]."
That some people have emotional intelligence and/or street smarts, and others have academic smarts is therefore a myth. That is not to say that someone who is brilliant may not have a personality that is odd or different, only that it is not what we include as what people everywhere consider to be mental ability. Surely, one can find primitive foraging tribes or herders who have a certain learned savvy about areas that an urbanite would not, but that is to be expected. Intelligence is the ability to understand, it is not knowing everything there is in every context without extracting that knowledge from experience. Knowledge (crystallized intelligence) is made possible by having fluid intelligence.
Richard Lewontin in his 1972 paper in Evolutionary Biology, "The apportionment of human diversity," tried to show that there was not enough genetic difference between races to account for observable differences in average intelligence. Geary points out however that it is not just the genes that are different, but it is also the frequency of expression of those genes that make a difference in intelligence. That is, there may not be large observable differences in genes between races, but there can still be large differences in the genomes of each that activate "smart genes" to replicate. Genes produce certain proteins, but other segments of DNA code for how much of the protein is produced.
Again, back to politics as warfare by other means, Geary notes: "In fact, strictly logical reasoning may not be possible in the context of social dynamics that include multiple players with a combination of cooperative and competing interests and in the absence of perfect knowledge of the future choices of each player. Rather, their inferences are based on folk knowledge, memories of related experiences, analogy, and so forth. Nonetheless, individuals who are high in general intelligence can use these simulations to represent social, biological, and physical phenomena abstractly and often do reason logically." When I read statements like this it is clear that to be rational requires intelligence, the will to understand counterintuitive ideas, and openness to ideas and concepts that we may not like, but nevertheless are obliged to test for validity—or the scientific method. Just listening to the media, where there is an intense battle taking place between the Left and the Right, it is clear that except in rare occasions, neither side is aware of the scientific method nor of human behavior.
Still, high intelligence is a prerequisite for understanding the scientific method, and it is genetic. Geary confirms that the heritability of intelligence goes from about 40% in children to 80% in adults. As the brain develops, fluid intelligence increases in importance, and bright people keep learning it seems, even if they don't try very hard. With only about 20% of variance in adult intelligence attributable to unknown environmental factors, that is not much to work with when trying to raise the adult intelligence of races with a low average IQ.
He also expands on the intelligence=big brains debate. Now that the different component parts of the brain that contribute to intelligence are being located, the size of different brain areas correlates with raw intelligence. "Genetic influences explained 90% of the individual differences in total brain volume and 82% and 87% of the individual differences in volume of gray and white matter, respectively. The remaining differences were due to unique environmental effects; there were no significant shared environmental effects…. Overall, individual differences in the volume of the frontal lobes were more strongly related to genetic than to environmental influences, and individual differences in the volume of the posterior regions were more strongly related to environmental (largely unique) than to genetic influences…. Individual differences in g were related only to volume of the frontal cortex, while simultaneously controlling for volume of all other regions."
Simply stated, there are parts of the brain not associated with intelligence that can vary in size, but specific parts of the brain that are associated with intelligence are under genetic control and the correlation then between the size of these specific "IQ" brain areas and intelligence is getting higher (around 50%) as the brain is dissected by new imaging techniques. Or as Geary puts it: "…the most intriguing finding is that individual differences in the volume and organization of the prefrontal cortex, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, are highly heritable and have been linked to individual differences in general intelligence…. The number of genes involved in the construction and functioning of the human brain is not yet known but will be in the thousands. The vast number of genes influencing brain development and functioning greatly complicates the search for the perhaps 100 genes underlying the heritability of intelligence and related cognitive competencies (e.g., working memory)."
For decades now, the naïve environmentalists have been looking for reasons other than genetics for the large differences in intelligence between different races. So far, none of the theories has overturned the highly accepted genetic component. In adulthood where it counts, intelligence remains about 80% genetic for anyone not severely deprived in childhood, and the other 20% is unknown. This does not mean that poor nutrition or vaccinations against disease have not had a favorable impact on general intelligence, along with universal education and smaller families. It just means that environmental effects are small and generally apply to everyone. Geary notes that, "For the 200 high school students who participated, intelligence and motivation and persistence were unrelated. A combination of performance on two IQ tests explained 40% of the individual differences in academic achievement, and persistence measures explained between 6% and 10% of these individual differences; the motivational measures were unrelated to achievement…. Before World War II, family background explained 47% of the individual differences in educational outcomes. Following the war and the liberalization of educational opportunity, family background explained less than 10% of the individual differences in years of schooling."
President Bush now wants to expand the No Child Left Behind program to include testing of high school students. This will surely be resisted by the Left, as it will be more proof that children's intelligence can be artificially boosted (crystallized intelligence) with aggressive intervention programs, but invariably fail as children become teenagers. Geary states, "About 40% of the developmental change in gF was due to age-related improvements in working memory capacity, and about 70% of the improvement in working memory capacity was due to age-related increases in speed of processing. These and other results suggest that individual differences in working memory are related to individual differences in speed of processing." That is, developmentally, intelligence does not come into play until adulthood approaches and it is under genetic control. Along with education, the needed environmental component to be able to express high intelligence, the truly gifted rise above the rest.
As Geary notes, "There have been numerous environmental enrichment interventions, such as Head Start, designed to improve the cognitive and social competencies of children living in poverty or other difficult circumstances. These types of interventions appear to result in a number of beneficial outcomes, including improved academic functioning. Many of these interventions were not designed to target children's general intelligence per se, but nonetheless have been used to assess whether such enrichment can improve intellectual functioning. The interpretation of these studies results is hotly debated and is beyond the scope of this book. The bottom line is that many of these interventions are initially associated with modest, and sometimes substantial, improvements in IQ scores, but most of these gains fade with time."
Geary notes that with high intelligence and along with training, focused attention and problem solving shifts after time to implicit problem-solving strategies. For example, a mathematician first has to learn the language of math so well that after time, looking at complex formulas becomes as easy as reading a sentence—it becomes implicit. Likewise, a carpenter has to use his innate intelligence at first but then after time carpentry becomes more innate, and done without much thinking. Many on the Left have tried to use this explicit to implicit problem solving shift to try and show how a carpenter then is more intelligent than a mathematician because they hardly have to think about the angle relationships when framing up a hip roof for example. In addition, they fail to understand that there are tradesmen who are geniuses, but due to opportunity or behavioral traits prefer a blue collar job over being a professor. This is where anecdotal stories are used to try and distort the facts of statistical observations of groups, where aggregation is needed to see how the brain develops. Just-so Stories due little to get at counterintuitive knowledge that requires numerous research programs to triangulate on what is—not what the Left would like nature to be.
Geary also notes that selection pressures for high intelligence have subsided recently, as the state takes up the task of providing for everyone, no matter how productive they are. That is, we have decoupled reproductive success with resource success. Prior to modernity, no organism could be reproductively successful with being successful at acquiring resources like food, shelter, safe havens, etc. Humans however, through the state, have made it beneficial for successful people to have few or no children, and to delay reproduction. The poor on the other hand are having more children and are having them at a younger age. On average, the poor are less intelligent than the successful, and this demographic transition will be devastating to the average human IQ over time. Today, the average world IQ is about 90 and falling, as the third world peoples displace people in the West, with an average IQ of about 100 (Lynn & Vanhanen 2002). Eventually, this will also lead to an end of democracy and liberalism, as the overall IQ drops, and humans everywhere return to tribal warfare to survive (LeBlanc 2003).
Many like to point to the Flynn effect, where intelligence has been rising over the last fifty years. Unfortunately, just like height or stature increased over the last 100 years from better nutrition, it is not permanent. Stature is also about 90% genetic, but again that high heritability relies on good nutrition. Likewise, now with universal education, intelligence "test scores" have been rising, but that will not continue. Geary points out that the increase primarily resides among the high intelligent people who show a secular increase in intelligence due to opportunities. Recent data indicates that this is now leveling off, and cannot be relied upon in the future. The dysgenic effects of low IQ people out producing high IQ people means that we are now—globally—in an IQ decline.
Geary warns, "The minority of individuals who push scientific, technological, and intellectual boundaries beyond folk knowledge create a knowledge gap. One result of this gap is an accompanying change in the type and level of academic competency needed to live successfully (e.g., gainful employment) in the society in which these advances emerged. Today, there is an ever-widening gap between folk knowledge and scientific and technological advances and a corresponding increase in the need for people to acquire novel academic competencies. A crucial implication for education is that folk knowledge, though necessary, is no longer sufficient for occupational and social functioning (e.g., understanding interest on debt) in modern society."
A glance at President Bush's second inaugural address, January 20, 2005, shows that our political system still relies on folk psychology when addressing the masses, while academic studies into human behavior could have predicted the disaster in Iraq, and the failures of multiculturalism on any state that also wants to be a nation as well. We seem to be unable to break through rhetoric in favor of a scientific approach to solving problems, and this is a combination of too many people with low intelligence dominating the political and academics agendas, as well as a failure to teach what open inquiry requires—each theory and/or hypothesis must rise or fall on its own merits.
There has always been a strong correlation between intelligence and success, but even in academic success and income this correlation can be reduced by other factors. First, we do not live in a meritocratic society. Minimum wage, welfare, affirmative action, set asides, unionism—these all distort the human resources marketplace. In addition, individually, intelligence is not enough to succeed. Geary notes that, "Moreover, the dimension of personality known as openness to experience is also correlated with gC but not with gF. Overall, it appears that the processes that define gF, the brain and cognitive systems associated with long-term memory formation, and the dimension of personality associated with interest in new experiences interact to create crystallized knowledge…. When high fluid intelligence and a strong long-term memory system is combined with an interest in seeking novel experiences, the result is the acquisition of a large store of crystallized knowledge, gC, over the life span." Intelligence then, along with openness and conscientiousness—two innate behavioral traits that make up the "big five" or OCEAN—contribute significantly to having the right personality to make the most of one's mental ability. Intelligence is the means, and personality provides the drive.
Geary notes, "However, intelligence is not the only predictor of job performance. Several dimensions of personality, especially conscientiousness and integrity, add significantly to the predictive validity of intelligence. Conscientiousness is a major dimension of human personality and reflects individual differences in the extent to which the individual is dependable, careful, and responsible in social relationships and day-to-day activities. Integrity tests appear to assess a combination of conscientiousness, emotional stability, and the extent to which the individual is socially cooperative. Individuals who score low on measures of integrity show more job-related theft, absenteeism, and disciplinary problems than do other individuals." Intelligence has a long history of psychological research, and the average differences between races are well known and have not changed in 100 years. Now, it would be interesting if we could find differences between races when it comes to openness, conscientiousness, and integrity. Anecdotally, it does seem that different racial groups do differ on all three of these behavioral traits, and understanding these differences would help complete the picture of why some people are successful and others not.
Geary has taken up where The g Factor left off (Jenson, 1998). The book looks again at mental ability, and connects the development of intelligence with evolution from Mithen's perspective of moving from folk or modular systems to a more general mental ability that can operate on counterintuitive information that can advance science and thus human understanding (Mithen 1993). Geary manages to stay out of the area of racial differences. But the book clearly supports the Jensenist position that intelligence is primarily genetic, and that the different races have on average differing levels of intelligence.