I don't consider those as "our" memes, except if you meant Western culture in general. Those seem like bad ideas, smart or not smart. I would prefer something like "Distinguish intellectual authorities that have reasons to be correlated with truth (because of the incentive structures) from authorities who derive their status from other things (success in unrelated fields, good communication skills, saying what people want to hear), and take the first kind seriously."

"Trying to figure everything out yourself" is something I ass... (read more)

Rationality & Low-IQ People

by kokotajlod 1 min read2nd Feb 2014107 comments


This post is to raise a question about the demographics of rationality: Is rationality something that can appeal to low-IQ people as well?

I don't mean in theory, I mean in practice. From what I've seen, people who are concerned about rationality (in the sense that it has on LW, OvercomingBias, etc.) are overwhelmingly high-IQ.

Meanwhile, HPMOR and other stories in the "rationality genre" appeal to me, and to other people I know. However I wonder: Perhaps part of the reason they appeal to me is that I think of myself as a smart person, and this allows me to identify with the main characters, cheer when they think their way to victory, etc. If I thought of myself as a stupid person, then perhaps I would feel uncomfortable, insecure, and alienated while reading the same stories.

So, I have four questions:

1.) Do we have reason to believe that the kind of rationality promoted on LW, OvercomingBias, CFAR, etc. appeals to a fairly normal distribution of people around the IQ mean? Or should we think, as I suggested, that people with lower IQ's are disposed to find the idea of being rational less attractive?

2.) Ditto, except replace "being rational" with "celebrating rationality through stories like HPMOR." Perhaps people think that rationality is a good thing in much the same way that being wealthy is a good thing, but they don't think that it should be celebrated, or at least they don't find such celebrations appealing.

3.) Supposing #1 and #2 have the answers I am suggesting, why? 

4.) Making the same supposition, what are the implications for the movement in general? 

Note: I chose to use IQ in this post instead of a more vague term like "intelligence," but I could easily have done the opposite. I'm happy to do whichever version is less problematic.