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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Apr 3, 2021


[Content note: scrupulosity and self-esteem triggers, IQ, brief discussion of weight and dieting. Not good for growth mindset.]


I sometimes blog about research into IQ and human intelligence. I think most readers of this blog already know IQ is 50% to 80% heritable, and that it’s so important for intellectual pursuits that eminent scientists in some fields have average IQs around 150 to 160. Since IQ this high only appears in 1/10,000 people or so, it beggars coincidence to believe this represents anything but a very strong filter for IQ (or something correlated with it) in reaching that level. If you saw a group of dozens of people who were 7’0 tall on average, you’d assume it was a basketball team or some other group selected for height, not a bunch of botanists who were all very tall by coincidence.

A lot of people find this pretty depressing. Some worry that taking it seriously might damage the “growth mindset” people need to fully actualize their potential. This is important and I want to discuss it eventually, but not now. What I want to discuss now is people who feel personally depressed. For example, a comment from last week:

I’m sorry to leave self a self absorbed comment, but reading this really upset me and I just need to get this off my chest…How is a person supposed to stay sane in a culture that prizes intelligence above everything else – especially if, as Scott suggests, Human Intelligence Really Is the Key to the Future – when they themselves are not particularly intelligent and, apparently, have no potential to ever become intelligent? Right now I basically feel like pond scum.