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Average IQ of College Undergrads and Graduate Degree Holders by Decade
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Per Emil Kirkegaard’s suggestion, mean IQ scores–converted from GSS wordsum results assuming a national average of 98 and a standard deviation of 15–by highest degree attained by the decade degree-holders graduated* (N = 14,978):

Graduated in Grad degree Undergrad HS diploma
1960s 114.0 111.3 99.3
1970s 112.5 107.9 96.4
1980s 109.4 105.2 94.8
1990s 108.1 103.4 95.0
2000s 105.8 103.5 94.6
2010s n/a 100.4 93.5


Today’s bachelor’s degree is the equivalent of a high school graduation certificate from fifty years ago, and today’s graduate degree falls short of a bachelor’s degree from a generation ago.

This is an inevitable consequence of increasing the share of the population that attends college. In the sixties, 10% of American adults had college degrees. Since then that figure has more than tripled, to 34% today.

To say we’re well into the territory of diminishing returns is to understate the problem–-we’re past the point of negative returns. Most Americans in college today are not benefiting from being there. They’re foregoing work to accrue debt for degrees that, if they increase earning power at all, do so only marginally and they’re picking up an unhelpful sense of entitlement in the process.

Outstanding student loan debt in America is an estimated $1.5 trillion. As the degree devaluation above strongly suggests, a significant proportion of this debt–a majority of it in my estimation–is bad debt. It will not be repaid because those holding it literally cannot repay it. They lack the earning power to do so.

* Values for each decade come from those born two decades prior, so the time of actual graduation is approximate. For example, the result for the 1960s comes from the wordsum scores of those born in the 1940s; the result for the 1970s from those born in the 1950s, and so on. The sample size for graduate degrees among those graduating since 2010 is, at a whopping 2, too small to report. The 2018 iteration of the survey will be out in the coming months and I’ll update the table accordingly if the sample is bumped enough to merit doing so.

GSS variables used: COHORT(1940-1949)(1950-1959)(1960-1969)(1970-1979)(1980-1989)(1990-1999), DEGREE(1,3,4), WORDSUM, BORN(1)

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  1. Hail says: • Website

    In the sixties, 10% of American adults had college degrees. Since then that figure has more than tripled, to 34% today.

    In 2015, 36% of Americans born between 1971 and 1990 (ages 25-44 in 2015) held at least a Bachelor’s degree. This rises to ~41% if excluding non-HS graduates, and rising.

    In other words, the U.S. high-school-diploma or-higher population is fast approaching a “45% college degree, 55% no degree” split.

    Also perhaps of interest:

    In the age 25-to-29 cohort, more women than men have held Bachelor’s degrees since 1991, with a pretty sizable gap since the early 2000s.

    (See Table 1 and Figure 7, here, “Educational Attainment in the United States: 2015,” By Camille L. Ryan and Kurt Bauman.)

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Toronto Russian
    , @jinx
  2. This is obviously due to the “browning out” of America with Africans and Mestizos who have far lower IQs than Whites.

    • Replies: @Chase
  3. Two questions.

    1. If you’re an employer and wanted to employ only the people who would have earned a graduate degree in the 60s – how would you work that out (without testing them)? SAT? GPA?

    2. Will the student debt mountain eventually cause an economic collapse like the housing crisis, or is it more of a slow-burn thing?

  4. @TelfoedJohn

    The SL debt increases by 110 Bn per annum–see below. That 110 Bn supports a vast no of people in the EIC–Edu industrial complex.
    (divide $110 Bn by $100K per job and the answer is 1.1 million. that includes a lot of (self) important people living in Blue states with access to the Media etc……)

    Ad a society /empire even Eisenhower could not get a handle on the MIC. The ideology of the EIC is perhaps more deeply ingrained into the civic religion of America so reform is so difficult

  5. Here’s how yet another smart guy put it–just the other day!

    TL;DR version: “College-Educated” is a phrase now fairly devoid of meaning.

    And, in response to “TelfoedJohn” above, this is why ‘brand-name’ colleges have become such a high-value marker. Especially for Asians and especially for White Christians, who didn’t get such a nice bump on admissions as nearly everyone else.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
  6. JLK says:

    Wordsum-IQ overweights verbal intelligence and only has a .71 correlation to g according to my recollection. Some of the other reports I’ve seen based on the GSS IQ data (particularly the breakdown of IQs of ethnic whites) are very, very dubious and obviously inconsistent with other data, such as Arthur Hu’s IQ and SAT studies of different religious sects.

    Caveat Emptor.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  7. Mitleser says:

    • Replies: @anon
  8. Wolverine says:

    Can you argue that the lowering of IQs among colleges is due to overall dumbing down of the entire population rather than the increased number going to college? Seems like IQ among HS graduates dropping as well.

  9. Rosie says:

    Those numbers are way lower than I expected. If the average IQ of college grads in the sixties was 111, it seems to me that too many were going even then.

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
  10. Anon[253] • Disclaimer says:

    Very surprised no one seems to mention what it obvious to me. A BS degree was “SOLD” to the US public as a fool proof way to the top with guaranteed success for all that get one. While that was partly true in the 60’s and maybe 70’s it became less certain after that time. During the 80’s and afterward there was an explosion of remote learning Universities, and with it easy to get Student Loans. Do you think there could have been some collusion between the so called Administration of these Diploma Mills and the Banksters who made certain the loans could not be removed even in a legal Bankruptcy ruling. Now that its become clear that the debt cannot be paid and more importantly cannot be collected, the slime of the Earth (AKA, Jewish Banksters) are lobbying for the Feds to pay, meaning all the rest of us. Well F–k them.

    Not asking for sympathy but when I went to college in the 70’s and received as BS and Ph.D. in Biology I lived like a pauper. But so did almost all of my fellow serious students. I remember the President of the University of South Florida at the greeting meeting that was held for all incoming Freshmen Students and their parents tell the audience that 2/3’rds of the students in the room would not make it to their Senior year and would either Fail or quit. It used to be a challenge to get a college degree and now it is purchased. This is not anything new but it is the norm now not a rarity that used to be know as getting a degree from Montgomery Ward or Sears and Roebuck. Also, getting the BS or BA was no guarantee of success. During the Summer after I got my BS I was working as a Framing Carpenter till I got the news I was accepted into a Ph.D. program and was awarding a Teaching Assistant position.

    Sadly, there is almost no comparison between what an Academic Degree was (prior to 2000) and what the so called same degree is today.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  11. 2735128

    Someone please nuke this spam.

  12. Chase says:
    @Tyvar Ingeberht

    Interesting. As White people are increasingly pushed out of the less prestigious universities as they have been the ivies, will a degree become a sort of anti-signaling to employers? Or is the rot too deep with affirmative action etc to recover?

  13. @Wolverine

    It’s both/and.  The US population is getting dumber as it turns increasingly brown, and colleges and universities are deliberately selecting dumber students through affirmative-action admissions.

    An enormous amount of this is due to the fallout from Griggs vs. Duke Power which forbade private companies from using credentials and tests to select employees but allowed the use of degrees.  This quickly metastasized into post-secondary schools becoming the selection/credentialling agencies for industry, at a devastating financial and social cost.  Now affirmative action is destroying the usefulness of even those credentials.

    Have I mentioned today just how badly we need an end to “civil rights” for non-Whites in the USA?  If they want civil rights they have their own countries to establish them in… if they can.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @JLK
    , @Feryl
  14. This is an inevitable consequence of increasing the share of the population that attends college.

    This is brought about by democracy all over the world — for once we might try to ponder an issue without leaning on “the hostile elite” as an explain-all.
    Fact is, people are managed more easily if social-status-carrying qualifications are profusively bestowed on them. They’ll be happy, and won’t notice the title’s inflation and loss of value as a social-status qualifier.
    Their being happy grants their being handles with more ease than otherwise.

    The outcome of all of this is university exams having become nothing but rote memory trials.
    Serious questions need an IQ from 120 up, and very serious from 130-135 up to be answered. The solution has been found: have exams where questions are just mock questions.
    Women under this new system out-grade men, it’s no surprise, considering how optimal grades satisfy and entice women way more than they do men learners.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  15. @Chase

    will a degree become a sort of anti-signaling to employers?

    It’s going to depend on the degree.  Solid grades in STEM are going to mean something (until affirmative action grading is mandated even in STEM, that is).  But a degree in “African studies”?  “Feminist studies”?  Application straight to shredder.

    • Replies: @216
  16. “This is an inevitable consequence of increasing the share of the population that attends college.”

    What about the high school column?

    That’s really frightening.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  17. @Rosie

    Don’t forget that college was a favorite “Stay Out Of Vietnam” card back then.

  18. Anon[654] • Disclaimer says:

    More degrees, less intelligence, in ZioMafia-occupied territories. Makes sense given the NWO Globalist dumb-down agenda (for gentiles).

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
  19. @Rosie

    At a certain SES level going to college is simply an emblem of the level.

  20. Buck says:

    This graph is the product of a few decisions made 50 years ago. Taken together, they have undermined the purpose of publicly supported higher education and precipitated a debt crisis.
    1964- Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination by government
    1965- Higher Education Act greatly expands the amount of student loans available. 18-22 year olds are a pretty poor credit risk so they require subsidized loans and guarantees to lenders for repayment. The Federal government steps in to do this ostensibly because we need more STEM graduates to fight the Cold War.
    1965- Hart-Celler immigration reform eliminates bias against non-European immigration changing America’s demographic makeup.
    1972- Griggs v. Duke Energy made it illegal under Civil Rights law for private companies to give tests for employment. Since tests were a proxy for IQ, minorities faced a desperate impact so companies were compelled to disregard them. A bachelor’s degree became a substitute for the tests, basically outsourcing to Universities what a simple test had done previously. Entry level white-collar positions began to require at least a Bachelor’s degree making entry to a middle-class lifestyle much more expensive.
    1976- Bankruptcy laws changed so no public student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy.
    1978- University of California v. Blake upheld the university’s right to discriminate FOR minority students (affirmative action)
    1984- Bankruptcy law now includes no Private student loans can be discharged.

    A perfect storm. Greatly increase the percentage of low IQ minorities of the American population. Basically require a college degree for a middle-class lifestyle. Outlaw discrimination, even give preference to minorities. Give all students loans subsidized by the government and non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    The result is simple to predict. Everyone, even the unqualified, trying to go to college paid for by massive student loans. Universities simply raise their fees to accommodate all the new demand and “free” money. Dumb down the degree fields and education standards to accommodate students unprepared for academic rigor so as to milk more money from the system. Taxpayers waste trillions subsidising bloated higher education with little economic gain. Students mired in a trillion dollar loan scam.

    Universities make out. Banks make out. Taxpayers and students get shafted.

    Eliminating student loan debt and taking on the educational industrial complex should be two of the main platforms of Trump’s 2020 campaign.

    • Agree: George Taylor
    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  21. OMG, so each grad degree I added over the 80s, 90s, and 00s lowered my IQ?

    • Replies: @Cloudbuster
  22. @Anon

    I want to answer Telfoed John (Q-2) at the same time here, so I’ll say this is a bubble that will pop. I don’t think it will be any kind of slow burn to a lower level of spending. The U’s have been used to the big bucks now for 2-3 decades. How can you wean these people off of it slowly? This relates here, as …

    In answer to you, Mr. #253, I am familiar with how students lived back a few decades ago, when, indeed, most lived fairly frugally. (All-you-can-eat place were not as helpful as one might think, BTW! – your stomach can’t take in that one meal per day as you planned.) Here’s the deal now, though: At any kind of normal near-min-wage job, NOBODY can earn enough in the evenings and summers to pay for, from what I’ve seen lately, even full-tuition at a TECH school, much less a full-out University.

    That means that lots of them no longer even try. I’ve seen restaurants beyond the campus that take cards filled by student loan money. I’ve seen students driving a lot of nice vehicles, and eating/drinking as much as we ever did, but especially a lot more eating at nice places, or how about the $4/cup coffee daily or twice daily? Once you’ve got that guaranteed-by-the-taxpayer (haha) loan set up, the sky’s the limit. (I really think a big number of the students hope a guy like Øb☭ma will come along at push for forgiveness, and this makes the moral hazard for the otherwise-responsible young people even worse.)

    I’m getting off the topic kind of. What I meant to reply with, is that the U’s will raise tuition and fees in accordance with exactly how much money they can soak out of the students , I mean students’ parents , I mean grandchildren of taxpayers.

    • Replies: @Dan Kurt
  23. @Mr. Rational


    Concise, but that’s the story.

  24. @Mr. Rational

    Good point there too. I’d like to see a number that was from the mid-1960’s or earlier for a comparison to the time when finishing college was rightly an accomplishment to be proud of.

  25. Only time will tell… Accumilation of student loan debt and “education’s” (powerful buzz word for I have an English degree) inflated worth combined with flattening incomes, automation, and increased immigration will probably trigger the next financial crisis.

    I’ve said it before… The status of the skilled trades must rise and be seen as sexy while the status of the student loan racket must fall and be seen as debt bondage.

  26. JLK says:
    @Mr. Rational

    An enormous amount of this is due to the fallout from Griggs vs. Duke Power which forbade private companies from using credentials and tests to select employees but allowed the use of degrees.  This quickly metastasized into post-secondary schools becoming the selection/credentialling agencies for industry, at a devastating financial and social cost.

    Agreed. There’s also a financial aid gap for children of middle income parents that makes it more likely that their kids will go to State U. instead of an Ivy-type school than very rich or very poor kids having similar test scores. When they get to the corporate workplace, no one knows their tests score, just their alma mater. People assume the Ivy kids are smarter.

  27. Sorry, AE, I have not been following your writing even though you’ve been on here a few weeks. I will do more reading here, as your posts are nice and concise, for one thing.

    To answer you directly, I’m going to put in 5 links here, so please don’t think I’m another Mr. #420 (comment number lucky-7). I’ve been closely associated with a large university a while back, so I do see what’s going on. The debt business is due in large part to what we Libertarians call a “moral hazard”. This moral hazard was created by the US Feral Gov’t’s backing of student loans along with lending out-right.

    Look, in 1980, a loan officer at the bank would be fired if he took it upon himself to loan out full tuition to an Art History major. I’ve got nothing against Art History, mind you. It’s just that the risk would just be too great for delinquency, even back then with much lower tuition, and, indeed, many more jobs for people who had the BA/BS piece of paper. One the US Gov started guaranteeing the money, there was nothing to lose anymore. Get the origination fee, sell it off, or just don’t worry about it.

    I don’t think 1 in 3 students had ANY kind of loan back when I went to college. The ones that did maybe borrowed $5,000 total over 4 years, lower than today even with the 6-8 X inflation in college tuition we’ve had.

    Please see Peak Stupidity’s University Bubble 99 – Remedial Global Financial Stupidity at the U (Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).

    Oh, yeah, then there is the Great University Textbook Scam of the 21st century.

  28. And yet nobody wants to employ older college graduates.

    Notice how important IQ is.

    • Replies: @216
  29. 216 says:

    Employers like pliability. Older (whites) are liable to demand higher pay and won’t be as willing to work under a younger supervisor. Age discrimination lawsuits are also a factor.

    The ideal worker from an employer perspective is a young f.o.b. Asian/Hispanic that never talks back and works unreasonable hours in order to secure that green card and sponsor their relatives.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  30. @Achmed E. Newman

    What if the student loan debt bubble scam was cooked up bankers and puppet politicians such as Bill Clinton to massively increase debt to provide more ability for shady shysters to clam rake out some cash before the whole damn thing came down in a crash?

    I thought it was understood by Unz Review types that financialization was a frigging swindle from the get-go? The baby boomers got the jobs and the graft from the student loan debt bubble and the bankers got the profit on the loans. Construction cads built crap like gangbusters on all the student loan debt and they loved it. A lot of money-grubbers were grabbing the cash from student loans and they loved it.

    The answer to the student loan debt bubble is to implode the debt by immediate debt repudiations and money printing. There was always going to be a currency crisis anyway after the monetary extremism starting in 2008, so it might as well start now. The Deep State can coordinate with China and Japan and Europe to simultaneously implode the value of global currencies. The baby boomers will be financially liquidated, but they have been the beneficiary of all the unpayable debt anyway.

    The Fed could take all the repudiated student loan debt onto its balance sheet like they took all the toxic mortgage-backed securities.

    All student loan debt — whether paid or unpaid — should be redeemed back to students who took out the debt. Every penny ever borrowed for student loans should be sent back to the students who took out the loans and paid them. All unpayed student loan debt should be repudiated with extreme prejudice.

    Raise The Fed Funds Rate To 6 Percent Now, DAMMIT!


    Global Financial Implosion In 2019 — Cancel All Debts!

    But the baby boomers are counting on dumb boobs paying all that debt? Tough Cookies!

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @Sparkon
  31. 216 says:
    @Mr. Rational

    About half of workers with college training in a STEM field are working in a non-STEM job. Among workers ages 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree, one-in-three (33%) have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field of study. But only about half (52%) of these STEM-trained workers are employed in a STEM occupation.

    STEM is signalling

    • Replies: @Mr. Rational
  32. @216

    STEM degrees are a proxy for ability to think quantitatively and accurately.  It should be no surprise that those abilities pay dividends outside the strict boundaries of STEM job descriptions.

    • Replies: @jbwilson24
  33. Anonymous[332] • Disclaimer says:

    Where can I find a WORDSUM test to take?

    • Replies: @TelfoedJohn
  34. @Mr. Rational

    “Stay Out Of Vietnam” strikes me as a half-decent proxy for higher-than-median IQ; the only people in the top couple of quartiles who would have been in favour of going in to Viet Nam, were those who stood to gain from it – “You tell me whar a man gits his corn-pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”

  35. @Chase

    i’m moderate on a lot of issues but I really dislike the sort of originalist larping type of conservatives. The one good thing to come out of the ivy leagues barring white christians is that the federalist society will basically get its supply line cut off.

  36. What would he the mechanism by which student debt would cause a crash? What signs would you look for?

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  37. @Charles Pewitt

    But the baby boomers are counting on dumb boobs paying all that debt? Tough Cookies!

    I hate to tell you, Charles, but at this point, the baby boomers are not the ones getting the bad end of this deal. I don’t think they really cooked it up, unless you want to say that the entirety of Socialism was just “cooked up”. I think it’s more nefarious than that, as the evil ones behind the scenes push this stuff and useful idiots of ALL GENERATIONS have been going for it.

    There are 10’s of millions of Americans in college that won’t get any better job than their previous barista gig after 4-5 years of living large, “studying” at the coffee shops while sipping $4 Grande Lattes, and hooking up*, and will end up with mortgage-sized loans, say $70 – $100,000. I would call these Millennials suckers for being involved, but maybe the suckers will be the few responsible ones that either didn’t go, or went very easy on the borrowing to go to college, once the others are “forgiven”** – those ones are also Millenials, BTW.

    I agree with you, Charles, that this financialization of everything has got to end soon, but I don’t know if this is going to be what sets it all off. Admittedly, $1,500,000,000,000 and rising is not exactly chump change for anyone.

    Raise The Fed Funds Rate To 6 Percent Now, DAMMIT!


    FIFY, Mr. Pewitt. No charge! Merry Christmas!


    * Well, compared to hookers that hot in later life, maybe it DOES pay-off. I’ve not done this math yet

    ** There’s that darn moral hazard again. [Libertarian over and out!].

    • Replies: @Trevor H.
  38. @Chase

    See Peter Turchin’s books. He sees history as “overproduction of elites” followed by end of the elite system, a new elite, and then a new overproduction. He has some interesting examples. Overproduction of elites is always accompanied by over-certification: more degrees, more awards from the sovereign, more levels of elite ancestors claimed, plus more elaborate conspicuous consumption by the elites and would be elites, more haughty attitudes, and so on. Real opportunities to achieve elite status are mobbed, often enough that the scenes look something like Black Friday outside Wallmart and the supposed command hierarchy of the elite breaks down from sheer overload.
    Not saying that Turchin is right, but he paints an interesting picture.


    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  39. anon[338] • Disclaimer says:

    jacobite interviews caplan

    anyone wonder how ben shapiro got to where he’s at?

  40. @atlantis_dweller

    Since at least the 1950s the educational establishment has tried to make everybody equally educated. Originally it was said that the dumber students would be enhanced by hypothetical drugs, and that high achievers would be made dumber (I got caught in that idea, way back when) by discouraging them from acting “smart”. (I remember when one of the terms for smart people was “severely gifted”.)

    Well, the hypothetical drugs to make dumb people smart didn’t show up, but other drugs did, and so did dumbing down the curriculum (as atlantis_dweller points out).

    Success is almost in hand, the educational establishment’s 1950s dream (with minor modifications) is almost achieved.


    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  41. @TelfoedJohn

    See Peter Turchin’s work. He claims that the student loans are a function of the crash (a symptom of elite overproduction) rather than the crash being a function of student loans. Unfortunately, that’s not much good as a short time indicator.

    However, you might consider that society is quite fragile just now, and anticipate that any major upset will be recovered from quite poorly. Just now President Trump is fighting for his life and that of his family and associates, so major upsets shouldn’t all that scarce in the future’s timeline. It doesn’t help that his opposition thinks that it is doing much the same, and in fact might be.


  42. Joe862 says:

    Certainly the major is a big indicator. People who take hard classes and/or pick hard majors are ones who are willing to work. If they do well chances are they’re pretty bright. What is missing from this discussion is the proportion of students in each major over time. Have hard science majors dropped from 60% to 10%? Do the kids who should be in vocational school choose easy, pointless majors consistently? If so, they’re the ones who should be mad. They’re wasting their time and greatly reducing their chances of being able to make a decent living. Have colleges and universities increased the proportion of useless majors dramatically to increase income?

  43. @Counterinsurgency

    I saw this cartoon back when I was pre-school. Wasn’t frightening, was just a strong suggestion that society had no place for smart and talented people. I cried for a good hour afterwards. Still remember it, won’t watch it again. If you want to know what the 1950s were really like, and the general idea of making smart people dumber, take a look at this one.

    I think the general idea was that making smart people dumber was actually humanitarian, because they’d be exiled from society as “queer geniuses” (the term is actually from Burton L. White, q.v.) if they were not made normal, or perhaps simply exploited and mistreated. This movie captures what really happened to the Anglo Saxons: they destroyed their best in an effort to be liked.

    A related story showed up much later (, written by George R.R. Martin; _Analog_, 1975/07. It concerned a Puritan like group of colonists (Steel Angels) who were displacing the natives. At the end of the story, the natives had, through clever management, convinced the Angels to raise the bar on their manhood tests so high that nobody could reach it. The Angels presumably went extinct, as they executed all their children. The story captures something about what happened to the Anglo Saxons. Conformity was enforced, and proved deadly, as other groups could match the conformity and displace the Anglo Saxon’s children. Chilling short story, and instructive.


    • Replies: @atlantis_dweller
  44. @Counterinsurgency

    The fact is, if you have to handle governance of people, vanity and envy are two enormous tectonic forces you have to reckon with. Tectonic in that they aren’t under the sun., and in that they are chief drivers of all what goes on.

    Surely I am not unfamiliar with the setting wherein repeatedly raising my hand and providing a fine answer to a teacher’s question to the class engendered a tense ambiance.

    Still, thanks to these political devices, we no longer have actual communistic agitation in society. You achieve this only by making Everybody assured they have Everything and, most important, aren’t “below” Anybody.

    Psychological research has shown people making $3k a month in a quarter where the average income is 5k are more exposed to depressive conditions than people making $2k where that’s the average.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  45. It’s probably impossible, but if you could factor out blacks, I imagine much if admittedly not all the change would go away.

  46. @TelfoedJohn

    1) I’ll cop out and note that was before the disastrous Griggs v Duke Power decision, so I would in fact just test them!

    2) My best guess: The debt will serve as the impetus to legislative action–tuition forgiveness, etc–that will precipitate an economic collapse (or exacerbate one that is already occurring).

    • Replies: @JLK
  47. @JLK

    .71 is pretty good for the social sciences, especially when we take into account that a lot of that remaining disparity is on account of the Wordsum’s artificial ceiling. It bunches all IQ estimates towards the mean as a consequence. That’s okay here since it’s better to be conservative about the gaps than liberal about them.

    The ethnic estimates aren’t bad. Russians are on top because over half of the Russians in the US are Ashkenazi Jews.

    • Replies: @JLK
    , @JLK
  48. 2735128

    Still learning the ropes and realize while I know how to ban commenters, I’m not sure how to delete comments. Sending a carrier pigeon to the imperial residence for an answer and then this carbuncle is cast out!

  49. @Wolverine

    You can, but not from this. If IQ stays constant, we’d expect the averages at every level of attainment to go down with degree creep. If a generation ago, the bottom 75% were high school grads as highest attained but today only the bottom 50% are HS grads as highest attained, today’s HS grads are going to be dumber because the HS grad pool is now pulling no higher than the 50th percentile of person while a generation ago it was pulling all the way up to the 75th percentile. That’s a really oversimplified example but I think it gets the point across.

  50. JLK says:
    @Audacious Epigone

    1) I’ll cop out and note that was before the disastrous Griggs v Duke Power decision, so I would in fact just test them!

    Griggs doesn’t have a lot of teeth, as some prospective employers have been getting away with asking for SAT scores for decades.

  51. @James Bowery

    Have you seen the complexion of the American high school class in The Current Year?!

    College creep does make the HS number look worse over time though. In another 25 years, when 90% of the population is college-educated, the 10% that are not are really going to be bumping along the bottom. [This presumes that the trend continues steadily as it has over the last 25 years–something I find highly improbable]

  52. @Buck

    A first parlay that Trump would presumably be comfortable with–put universities on the hook for all loans that graduates are unable to pay X years after graduation (via a means test). If the degree isn’t worth anything, the students effectively get a refund at the colleges’ expense.

  53. @Achmed E. Newman

    I’m working through these comments sequentially, which makes it fun to see when my thoughts converge with someone else’s (Griggs is hugely important here!).

    For an institution to be economically viable, responsibility must not just reside with the lendee but also with the lender. In nothing is that less the case than in the funding of higher education.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @Buck
  54. @Counterinsurgency

    The bios of the dime-a-dozen blue checkmark NPCs on Twitter mesh well with Turchin’s idea of elite overproduction.

    • Replies: @krustykurmudgeon
  55. JLK says:
    @Audacious Epigone

    The ethnic estimates aren’t bad. Russians are on top because over half of the Russians in the US are Ashkenazi Jews.

    The Mexicans should be higher than the Africans, and the Germans and Dutch are way too low. The supposed IQs of the latter two are way out of sync with their counterparts in Europe, the Hu SAT scores for e.g. Mennonites and Lutherans, FICO scores and educational attainment in the states in which they tend to live and the general eyeball test of who is represented in elite schools and in the professions.

    Some of the other ethnic groups, while having plenty of upwardly mobile professionals, also have large lower class populations in or near the big Eastern cities where college is rare, living paycheck to paycheck is common and using streetwise tactics like not paying the electric bill in the winter because the word is out that they’ll never disconnect service is common.

    So it doesn’t meet my eyeball test.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  56. @Audacious Epigone

    It sounds good, but I don’t think it can work. Who is going to be able to judge which graduates really “can’t pay”, as that is not a simple concept for an accountant? I’ve had a guy who owned me money (luckily not a whole lot) tell me, when asked about it, “you’ll get it when I get it”.

    Knowing most people, they’ll all try to blow off the loans. Could you pick an income level over a period of time as a gauge? Sure, but there are ways out of everything – go to Chinatown. Most would probably try to show an income jussst under the limit, etc.

    Nah, I think that the US government has no business in the Education business, but then we’d have to go back to before Jimmy Carter. Fine by me, though. Additionally, a sudden decrease or change (per your idea, AE) in the process would produce that crash that Mr. Pewitt sees ahead (as I do too).

  57. @Audacious Epigone


    The Universities and entire University towns are being funded by Federal taxpayers right now, but it doesn’t show on the books (the Feral debt), as we taxpayers have assets in the form of our lending side of the ledger. I got a feeling I’m gonna hear that same thing from the graduates – “you’ll get it when I get it.”

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
  58. JLK says:

    Getting back to the thesis of your article, namely that the GSS WORDSUM test shows a steady decades-long decline in the IQ of all levels of educational achievement, take a look at this article:

    Given the intrinsic limitations of using a 10-item verbal test, and because the response rate in the GSS data tends to be less than 80 percent and varies over time (Davis and Smith 1996), it is our position that one cannot obtain interpretable results on the effects of either age or cohort on vocabulary when both variables are considered simultaneously.

    In addition to multicollinearity, other issues complicate the interpretation of these data. Although Alwin (1991) and Glenn (1994) do not treat word obsolescence as a serious issue, there are substantial reasons to think that it may affect the observed relationships.

    My guess is they are right to some extent about word obsolescence. For the past few decades, a word is obsolescent if it isn’t in the auto-complete lexicon of your phone while thumb-typing. I don’t think people read anywhere as much as they used to when I was a kid in the 1960s.

    We think it is particularly likely that when education is controlled the negative relationship between vocabulary score and survey year is affected by (1) the substantial increase over time in the years of education people complete, combined with (2) the fact that this increase in formal education includes persons who manifest less scholastic aptitude than persons who achieved the same levels of education in earlier periods. In other words, because education has become less selective over time, we are comparing a more select population (earlier cohorts) with a less select population (recent cohorts). Consequently, the use of education as a control variable results in a spurious period effect.

    The latter quote is in agreement with your point:

    This is an inevitable consequence of increasing the share of the population that attends college. In the sixties, 10% of American adults had college degrees. Since then that figure has more than tripled, to 34% today.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  59. @Mr. Rational

    “STEM degrees are a proxy for ability to think quantitatively and accurately. It should be no surprise that those abilities pay dividends outside the strict boundaries of STEM job descriptions.”

    Give me a break. I’ve taught numerous STEM grads within STEM, and also in law school. I’ve found that the biology students have zero critical thinking skills. Zero. None. They can’t reason their way out of a paper bag. The problem is that biology is a memorization discipline. There’s no critical thinking in it at all. (I’ve met PhDs in biology who didn’t know the basic deductive fallacies).

    Legions of buck toothed Chinese EE, CS grads who avoid arts courses like the plague. Also similarly useless.

    The only good students I have come across from STEM who are versatile enough to take on work in other fields are from physics or pure mathematics.

    You are going to have a fun time as an engineer writing good documentation if you just focused on cramming (and cheating) your way through calculus and thermodynamics courses to the detriment of general education. Plenty of those around.

    • Replies: @JLK
    , @Achmed E. Newman
  60. Feryl says:
    @Mr. Rational

    There are far more white boys attending college, these days. If your read these posts, you’ll see that more and more white guys report college education; it’s been rising gradually since the mid-80’s.

    People of all races are susceptible to the pressure to “compete”. When most people just wanted enough to get by in the 1940’s-early 1980’s, there wasn’t much “drive” to crush the competition. What’s the point? It’s all morally bankrupt narcissism to bust your back excessively so that you can get a nicer car or bigger house.

    Houses start getting noticeably bigger around 1984; from the early 1930’s-early 80’s, people were embarrassed to be seen as engaging in excessive/conspicous consumption. After all, there’s only so many resources to go around, who wants to be seen as the pig who want a lot at the expense of others?

    Per Charles Murray, no more than likely about 25% of the population had an IQ above 110 in the 1990’s, when America was still mostly white. Yet fewer than 25% of white guys on the GSS reported college graduation before 1986 (!). And fittingly, even Undergrads of the 1970’s reported an impressive IQ of 108 (Aud’s above chart) in the 1970’s, the last decade before high ed inflation got so damn out of hand.

    I see no reason to object to the top 1/4 of our brains going to any college which fits their goals, though in the non cut throat 1940’s-1970’s fewer than 25% of white guys chose to do so.

    Thing is, in the increasingly “competitive” (that goddam word) climate of the last 30+ years, it’s just not ok for intellectually average people, let alone the gifted, to sit back and take it easy. No, put your game face on and get in the arena of status pursuit. Damn the Boomers for preaching to X-ers and Millennials that avoiding college is only something a “loser” settles for.

  61. Feryl says:
    @Mr. Rational

    Actually, those who avoided Vietnam via college were probably far more intelligent and conscientious than those who did less to avoid service. Older generations were skeptical of Vietnam all along, and a lot of smart people had reservations about it too. Proles back then, who almost never went to college, were more likely to still feel as if America was the good guy and deserved unconditional support (it wasn’t until the mid-late 70’s that prole America became disaffected, as can be discerned from soaring divorce levels, drug abuse, and so on). The treatment of Vets had more than a touch of class tension to it; Vietnam Vets often had problems with mental illness, drugs, booze, homelessness, and the like, which made them easy targets for snotty college kids who didn’t understand why anyone would be dumb enough to bleed and sweat in the jungle for no good reason. One can also see that the poor outcomes of Vietnam vets can be put down to the fact that too many lowish IQ troops were accepted, whose already questionable prospects were heavily damaged by serving in an unpopular war (the military eventually admitted that it’s mental standards weren’t rigorous enough in the late 60’s and 70’s, esp. when they got desperate for recruits after many Americans began to despise the military by 1970.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  62. Trevor H. says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    The early baby boomers are getting off as scot-free as the self-anointed “Greatest Generation” who arranged the entire gravy train for their own benefit.

    The later ones–born in the early 1960s–are already getting screwed and will be in much the same basket as GenX. Beyond that? You don’t have to look far to find people who took on more debt than they should have, demanding that all debts should be repudiated. (But especially theirs.)

    To see into America’s future, all you have to do is to examine the parlous state of the third-world pissholes everyone’s coming from. To put it simply, the world’s supply of Magic Dirt is running low. Strange, isn’t it.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  63. @atlantis_dweller

    Well, you could say that. You could also say that the communists (actually the New Left) have come very close to taking over, a close as our most recent presidential election. It was the legitimacy of society wide Federal control, legitimized during WW II and exercised with the full cooperation of the general population, that was responsible for the use of that authority to destroy opposition to the New Left, to start dismantling science and engineering after the Apollo moon landings, to set up a national propaganda radio (NPR for short, New Left agitation) network. to fund clearly political non-governmental organizations (NGO) without public objection, and so on.
    The idea that enforced equality suppresses political protest is widely held. It also isn’t true. Corporations have enforced inequality. They have about five tiers: temp workers, long term workers, line supervisors, executives, board members. Corporations have grown _more_ unequal over the past 70 years, yet labor unions have quietly vanished. Political parties during this past interval have actively promoted inequality in corporations. The Left abandoned blue collar workers c.a. AD 1970, and c.a. AD 1980s the corporations abandoned mechanization in favor of sending their work overseas and hiring temps. The term “virtual corporation” was invented back then ( and is now more or less the standard for US firms.
    Same thing with economic inequality in all the large cities. The citizens of those cities run those cities, each running its own part for day to day affairs, which include law enforcement. The disputes of the large cities are either within the local population, caused by inter-ethnic hatred, or are attempts to get more money. ( Entertaining book that’s a standard text in political science curricula).
    Serious political activity comes when cultures clash (immigrants from A to B try to re-work B, and B tries to re-work A — e.g. USA, ad 1890s) _or_ when the current social order no longer provides a living for some crucial part of the population _or_, in the West and there only, when the population sees a brighter future if only the current oppressive inefficiencies are discarded (e.g. French Revolution, end of the USSR) .
    Inequality, absent these conditions, is quite stable.

    However, the point here is that AD 1950s society firmly believed in equality, enough so that it was willing to play Procurstus (
    The willingness to enforce the same level of accomplishment proved to be a serious short term weakness. It was used (by highly non-average people — activists, academic professors, armed street fighters, terrorists with bombs — yes, all that happened) to destroy their political adversaries.
    Long term, the weakness has been worse. The West has relied on genius and high creativity since the Islamic invasions began to reach Western Europe after the 4th Crusade fiasco. That’s how the West won, and how it eventually broke out of Western Europe c.a. AD 1500. (That breakout was enabled by the development of highly rugged and highly automated ships that required minimal crew, hence could carry the provisions for world wide travel.) All that is gone, now. Mathematicians at some colleges are judged on the amount of outreach they have done in poor neighborhoods. Granted that we don’t have the Office of Technological Assessment anymore, other methods have proven more effective.
    Granted that the West still has the embers, which is what Trump represents — the ability to improvise, to discard non-functional social organizations, and to get results. This ability is also why Trump’s opposition becomes non-rational (Trump Derangement Syndrome. I actually observed this first hand during an interaction with a Democrat community organizer made up to look like a Baptist preacher. He had no case, and stuck to beating on the pulpit, figuratively speaking.)
    But the embers are embers. We used to have a bonfire, or perhaps it was a steel mill. We might again, but not quickly or easily.

    And the 1950s was the first full expression of the enforcement of the prohibition of excellence.


    • Replies: @Mr. Rational
  64. @JLK

    “White Death”. One of the more serious complaints by whites is that whites are seriously discriminated against both legally and informally. The leveling out of white death rates, while those of other ethnic groups continue to decline (that’s for the US only) suggests very strongly that these complaints have some substance. (“His complaint that he was feeling unwell was generally agreed to be substantiated when he died two days later”, to paraphrase Parkinson). Even back at the time of _The Bell Curve_, Murry pointed out that the ethnic groups (as defined by Federal law) had a higher income/IQ than did the whites.
    So perhaps the “eyeball test” needs some work. And perhaps problems in the US are more serious than one might think.


    • Agree: Mr. Rational, Hail
  65. @Trevor H.

    Terminology quibble: the “Greatest Generation” actually fought WW II. The survivors of the Greatest Generation had the members of the “Baby Boom” generation. The “baby boom” generation was frequently told that it was the most educated, healthy, etc. generation to date. There were high hopes for them, but it didn’t work out. Essentially, they’ve been bribed to sit down and shut up.


  66. yeabuoy says:

    It’s the Fluoride.

  67. @Feryl

    Not quite. The factors you named were all observable, but I think there was something a bit more fundamental happening.
    After every war there is a problem with the returning veterans. They offer a threat to the existing political machines (er, organizations). This is perhaps best shown in Hawaii, where the returning troops (100th Infantry Battalion, see: simply transformed their military organization into a political organization and tossed out their predecessors in a perfectly legal way. Something roughly similar happened in Tennessee (
    The existing (1944 or so) political organizations did not regard their potential exile favorably, as you might imagine. However, the flux of returning troops was just too large to ignore, and an unprecedented program of re-integration was put into place. It worked fairly well, and, except for a few cases, the WW II political organizations remained in firm control. (Note that these were Democrat organizations — Republican organizations had been almost driven out of existence by the end of WW II.)

    The Vietnam War was different. The policy of rotating by formed units was replaced by rotating individuals, so there was no repetition of the 100th Infantry Battalion affair or the Athens affair. There were not that many returning individuals, and they were _individuals_, no organization. To top things off, however, there was a fairly intense propaganda effort, TV shows with menacing veterans, many newspaper stories, etc.. The propaganda was new to the exposed population, which at that time had WW II levels of trust in media. The campaign was so disgusting in retrospect that it eventually led to another propaganda campaign, the “support our troops” campaign.
    I should also add that training programs were rather cursory, apparently in order to produce more warm bodies. It amounted to attempted destruction of civil identities matched with exposure to weapons fire (from the giving end) and some very simple military operations (firing from a fortified position). That’s it.
    There was also no effort to re-integrate the troops to a society propagandized into hostility. “In the jungles one day, on the street a week later” was more or less the standard. You got people who had been risking their lives to protect the US suddenly put back into the US, which now regarded them as the bad guys.
    Notorious case, probably still true: the same US that imports foreign physicians because of a “shortage” gives no credentials for having been a combat medic. Their military medical training is not accepted by the US medical establishment, nor is their medical experience. This is a pretty clear attempt to avoid assimilation of former medics into US society, the same society that imports foreign medical personnel on all levels.
    Post-Vietnam war surveys suggest that the officers were not much affected by the above (although I’ve met some who were. Most were bought off, absorbed into existing organizations), but the enlisted men were pretty much destroyed. Rite of manhood completed, certificate of discharge obtained, so where is the reward? Isn’t any, men aren’t needed or wanted. No job, no place in society, you’re the bad guy.

    Summary: In effect, the US political establishment eliminated competition from returning veterans by instituting a 100% casualty program: enlisted people sent to Vietnam were either casualties during their tour, or made into casualties when they returned (or both, of course). Crippled, every last one of them.

    Note that something very similar is still happening for US Army veterans.

    As Trump once remarked, “And I thought the real estate business was tough!”

  68. FireAnt says:

    Is intelligence defined in IQ the same as defined in Artificial Intelligence?
    If not, what are the differences?

  69. kjr says:

    I was told by one of my professors while in graduate school at Georgia Tech that the university standards were reduced during the late 60’s to keep students from being drafted. They were never readjusted. Some places like Cal Berkeley are very difficult to get into. Georgia Tech is relatively or comparatively “easier” to get into but they WILL fail you – unlike some other places.

    And for those who see race everywhere, give me a break. The social programming done to blacks is now being done to whites – with similar results.

    If one wishes to destroy a nation, the nation must be “prepped” and it’s happening underneath our noses while many of you point at others when you SHOULD be looking in the mirror.

    • Replies: @216
    , @Buck
  70. 216 says:

    It has often been said that one of the seminal causes of neoconservatism was the Jewish professors being shocked when armed black students occupied buildings at Cornell in 1969.

    I heard an echo of this with the Gamergate and BLM backlash in 2014. Of course, Cernovich isn’t of the same caliber as Leo Strauss.

  71. @Audacious Epigone

    That would be fitting, but probably not workable for institutions like community colleges which have no endowments.

    I can imagine the screams, though.  The high-risk borrowers would be minorities and those whose talents only make them fit for grievance-studies degrees and other fluff.  Weeding these types out in favor of students with STEM and business aptitudes goes directly against all the affirmative-action ideologies of the admissions department.  The only way around that would be to put just about every student in those programs on scholarships… and the rampant financial discrimination against Whites, NE Asians and men in general would red-pill people by the millions and cause massive pushback.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
  72. Sparkon says:
    @Charles Pewitt

    What if the student loan debt bubble scam was cooked up bankers and puppet politicians such as Bill Clinton.

    You mean Ronald Reagan. Up until his presidency, the United States was a creditor nation, but in his 8 years, the Great Communicator Puppet (and the shysters around him) managed to triple the national debt, and presided over the S&L scandal, which cost taxpayers over $130 billion.

    But the baby boomers are counting on dumb boobs paying all that debt?

    The true Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and about 1952 or so. By then, the true post WWII baby boom was over. Virtually all of us are retired now, and are not counting on anything in our golden years other than increasing stupidity and ignorance among the general population. It is the younger generations who are burdened with a lifetime of national debt.

    The true Baby Boomers also recorded some of the highest SAT scores ever, before the rise of the boob tube put a big dent in leisure time reading among increasing numbers of youth in the 1950s, as reflected by the skyrocketing numbers of televisions in U.S. homes, which soared from 3.8 million in 1950 to over 50 million by 1963, and declining SAT scores beginning in the mid ’60s.

  73. @Counterinsurgency

    the 1950s was the first full expression of the enforcement of the prohibition of excellence.

    There was at least some slackening of that levelling push in the post-Sputnik era, but I can attest that it was still there.

    Exceptions in the current day are some private schools (particularly elite schools) and home schools.  Private schooling is mostly unconstrained by the demands of the social engineers and can recognize potential and develop excellence.  Home-schooled children are noteworthy for being academically far beyond their public-schooled age mates, perhaps because of individual attention, but I suspect more because there is no constraint to proceed through material at the pace of the dull average attendee (I won’t grant them the honor of calling them “students”).

    • Replies: @Mr. Rational
  74. Buck says:

    RE: Georgia Tech admissions

    Anecdotally, my brother was accepted to GA Tech circa 1985 although he ended up attending another State U. engineering school. He had a good, but not great H.S. GPA and an SAT in the mid-1200’s if I recall correctly. Fast forward to 2018, his much more intelligent son was declined admission to GA Tech. He had a great GPA, scored in the 1500’s and a perfect ACT.

    Of course both are white males. Of my nephew’s classmates who also applied to GA Tech, only women and minorities were accepted, most with lesser resumes than him. It’s a tale we’ve come to hear from many of our friends about their sons’ rejection woes to GA Tech.

  75. @Mr. Rational

    I forgot to mention:  this is pretty much what you’d expect from the elites, pulling up the ladder of success to prevent the children of non-elites from getting ahead of their own offspring.

  76. Buck says:
    @Audacious Epigone

    Absolutely, I came to the same conclusion several years ago when the student loan and diploma mill problem popped up on my radar but my solution was a little different.

    Basically, begin to allow former students the ability to discharge some or all their debt in formal bankruptcy proceedings. If colleges have a certain threshold of defaults (say 10-20%), disallow them from being able to provide subsidized student loans.

    Bankruptcy is not without it’s drawbacks so there’s less chance of moral hazard than simply debt forgiveness. Colleges would become more focused on readying students for gainful employment and job placement. Many degree programs would be jettisoned altogether and schools would become more selective in their admissions.

    The plan is really just geared to turn the clock back on the role of publicly supported higher education. Taxpayers must get a positive return on their trillion dollar investment.

    • Replies: @216
  77. 216 says:

    The problem with bankruptcy discharge alone is that a significant portion of society has bought into the lie that university is the pathway to the middle class. And also that we need more education not less.

    Making admission more selective faces the same “civil rights” backlash that resumption of K-12 “tracking” would bring. It’s a ready made conspiracy theory for many to believe that rich white people only want education for their children, and everyone else gets stuck with vocational Bantu Education.

    There’s also no shortage of low-information voters that believe:
    -Free healthcare
    -Tuition-free university

    And we can pay for it all by:
    -taxing the rich
    -cutting military spending
    -Modern Monetary Theory (if you know what this is are you really low-information?)

    Boomer conservatives love to say “socialism fails” by pointing at Venezuela, though South Africa would be a better example. This argument was stronger in 2010 when the PIGS were on the brink of collapse. As much as we might otherwise wish for, Sweden is not a no-go zone, and is nowhere near bankruptcy.

    • Replies: @Mr. Rational
  78. JLK says:

    Give me a break. I’ve taught numerous STEM grads within STEM, and also in law school. I’ve found that the biology students have zero critical thinking skills. Zero. None. They can’t reason their way out of a paper bag. The problem is that biology is a memorization discipline. There’s no critical thinking in it at all. (I’ve met PhDs in biology who didn’t know the basic deductive fallacies).

    Biology is a mnemonically-oriented field of STEM. You’d probably have a different experience with physics or engineering majors.

    Law school is mainly mnemonic as well. The analytical thinking involved in law is junior varsity stuff compared to fields like high-end math and physics. I’ve never come across a legal argument or doctrine that couldn’t be quickly grasped in a few seconds.

  79. @216

    The problem with bankruptcy discharge alone is that a significant portion of society has bought into the lie that university is the pathway to the middle class.

    The message about skilled trades is percolating down.  Between the guy who gets an engineering degree and the guy who goes to HVAC school and does an apprenticeship, who’s more likely to be running a $1 million business by age 30?  Same thing about auto mechanics.  Here’s a video which proves that at least some auto mechanics just don’t know what they’re doing (interesting in its own right).  A smart guy can start making real money as a mechanic and then get a degree if he wants to, without taking on any debt.

  80. @Hail

    In the age 25-to-29 cohort, more women than men have held Bachelor’s degrees since 1991, with a pretty sizable gap since the early 2000s.

    A guy without college education can earn good money in jobs like truck driving or construction. An average girl has no strength for that. The exceptionally athletic ones who do, may not bother with regular jobs at all and go win medals in professional sports.

    For 99% of women it’s either college education (that’s needed even to be a secretary) or absolute bottom-level jobs like Walmart cashier. But sure she can just marry a truck driver or construction worker and be a housewife? Well, it’s betting all she has on a chance that nothing bad will happen until his retirement.

    “Mrs Construction Worker, your husband has been exposed to harmful chemicals and now has cancer. Where are you going to get money for his hospital treatment, mortgage, and food?”

    • Replies: @anon
    , @anon
    , @Hail
  81. anon[166] • Disclaimer says:
    @Toronto Russian

    The population of college grads does well in total. Even if most grads don’t have great jobs, most great jobs are filled with grads. The narrative of the indebted barista is real enough.

    Obviously, the population must be divided to get a better idea of what is going on. To that end, I’d say that indebted students who never graduate are the ones with the most serious problems. Many of those that have the loans of less than $10,000 or maybe $5,000, will pay them off if the alternative is BK. If the payments are roughly the size of a smartphone bill – $100/mo, how hard is that?. On the other hand, a lot of loans are DOA.

    To make sense of the $1. 5T, its necessary to slice it up. Discharge the hopeless in bankruptcy. Its already happening either officially or in practice. I’d like to see the best loans refied by at 3% or so by the federal government. Subsidized loans are more like 6%+, and the difference on larger loans by professional school grads is significant. Sofi and others do something similar now. None of the loans have pre payment penalties. These are held by institutions, etc. so they could eat some negative convexity. And then, as the loans age out, there are two paths, both of which offer some relief.

    The possibility that student loans will be severely disruptive seems unlikely, since most are guaranteed by the govt.

  82. anon[166] • Disclaimer says:
    @Toronto Russian

    In the 70’s Construction jobs paid 2x minimum wage, at least. Now work that is done by illegals has driven the wage to slightly above min.

  83. jinx says:

    IQ tests themselves are a scam. Rubbish, Inc way to social control and bondage. That said, certainly w/ Huxley’s NWO prescription for media/education, drugs and environmental poisons, people have become so much more passive, compliant and mediocre. How to measure it concretely is still up for grabs.

    • Troll: Mr. Rational
    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  84. Anon[319] • Disclaimer says:

    After graduating high school in the early ’80s, my girlfriend’s father offered to get me into the Massachusetts Sheetmetal Workers’ Union, along with his two sons. I declined and went on to earn my BS Computer Science. Within a few years the two sons were earning six figures and retired after 30 years in their late 40s with excellent union pensions and lifetime health insurance.

    I’ve been laid off three times, will never earn six figures, have no traditional pension (though a very nice 401K), and will still be paying off my (2.25%) grad student loans when I apply for Medicare.

  85. Hail says: • Website
    @Toronto Russian

    In terms marriage, stable family formation, and fertility rates:

    Women “marry up.” Even if it should not be, “college degree” has now long been an important social signifier in our culture, and has the potential to trump even the also-significant “income.”

    Extrapolating from the graph in comment-1, the USA may sit today at a 40%-33% women-men split in the metric “college degrees held” for the age 25 to 29 cohort (born early 1990s). This means a lot of women are going to have to “marry down,” but which in practice means they won’t marry, won’t form stable, family-like relationships, instead favoring a series of boyfriends until perhaps it’s too late.

    If we have indeed hit 40% Bachelor-degrees-or-higher rate among U.S. women born in the early 1990s, a simple model of marriage preference would have this group preferring to marry Master-degree-holders (and for female Master-degree-holders, preferring to marry PhD men). The available pool of masters-degree men may not exceed ~12% (not sure on this number).

    This leaves us with the sad prospect of our ‘best’ young women, at least sorted by education (if you want a fixed point in time, call it the 40% of U.S. women in their early 30s as of the early 2020s who will be Bachelor-degree-or-higher holders), looking at these marriage odds (roughly):

    – no more than one-third of them will be able to pursue the traditional marriage pattern of “marrying up” (here, marrying a man with higher education)
    – half will have to marry “even” (men of the same education)
    at least one-sixth will either have to marry “down” (man with no college degree) or not at all.

    For the first group, good prospects; for the second, not so good; very bleak for the third. In the here-implied (but likely pretty strong) education-marriage-preference model. As for the 60% of early-30s women without degrees, the pool of college-men has already run dry in the above scenaio, and none of them will marry up in education terms. (In practice, many college-men will continue to marry non-college women, meaning ‘group three’ (college women who must, statistically, marry down) will be quite a lot bigger still.

  86. Another great essay AE. Thanks.

    The whole student loan grift is just another way for the FedGov to induce over-investment in college education, similar to the Community Reinvestment Act induced over-investment in residential real estate. The end result is universities with ridiculously rich endowments, college professors and administrators with big houses and student burdened with unpayable debt.

    The solution probably includes the following:

    1) make the student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy and
    2) make the colleges liable for the student loan debt (in the second position after the student).
    3) get the FedGov out of the lending business — no lending, no guarantees.

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
  87. JLK says:

    Just a blog post, but it references a Charles Murray book and suggests the IQs of college grads, etc. have not changed much over the years.

  88. @jbwilson24

    The problem is that biology is a memorization discipline. There’s no critical thinking in it at all.

    Agreed, with this part.

    No, there is no cramming for calculus or engineering, at least not for people who want to pass. It doesn’t work like that, as there are problems to solve, and you either understand it or you don’t. Almost no memorization is required. Cheating is another story, and I have seen much more of that from the new 80%-Asian (Indian and Oriental) graduate student body than in the past.

    …. versatile enough to take on work in other fields are from physics or pure mathematics.

    That might be out of necessity, because there aren’t many jobs in their fields. The engineers will be by far the most personable and versatile of these three fields, BY FAR. The math guys and physicists, bless their hearts, are the ones with their head in the clouds walking around campus not seeing anything of the world.*

    * Of course, that could be the whole campus now, with the ubiquity of Artificial Stupidity, substituting “phones” for “clouds”. (h/t to John Derbyshire for this term.)

  89. Anon[752] • Disclaimer says:

    “The debt will serve as the impetus to legislative action–tuition forgiveness, etc–that will precipitate an economic collapse (or exacerbate one that is already occurring).”

    Probably the latter. Student debt, while large, is only a small amount compared to the debt accumulated just before the Housing Crisis, so I think they’ll be able to get away with it; short term, forgiveness of that debt might inject some life into the economy and help the struggling youth. But once the sugar high runs out, the federal government be stuck with the debt and an overall worse situation. I think it is more likely that multiple sectors of the economy, starting with consumer spending, trend downward simultaneously over several years as the Boomers retire or shift into lower wage part time jobs. Then perhaps we get a debt crisis or a stock market crash. It’ll be unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory and the solution won’t be so obvious as supply will outstrip demand (or consumer disposable income) as whites reach their peak purchasing power and decline. Peak white.

  90. JLK says:
    @Audacious Epigone

    The ethnic estimates aren’t bad.

    Take a few minutes and compare the WORDSUM score of 94.5 for rural Germans with the reality in 103.8 IQ North Dakota.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  91. @Steve in Greensboro

    You forgot the crucial element underlying it all:

    0)  Allow employers to use their own criteria for job fitness without any second-guessing by race-equalitarian social engineers (overturn Griggs and repeal all related legislation, including all equal-opportunity employment laws and regulations).

  92. @216

    Totally off topic just to get your little hobbyhorse rockin.

    • Troll: Mr. Rational
  93. @JLK

    Response rates in virtually all surveys are low. Given the GSS’ time requirement, that’s actually a remarkably high insinuated response rate.

    As for word obsolescence, I’ve looked at it here. Maybe of marginal importance, but not that big of a deal. Incidentally the link to the putative Wordsum test given above is incorrect, at least for the last several decades. The actual 10-word quiz is here.

    I’m obviously polemically guarding my turf here, but while the GSS isn’t perfect, I’m unaware of a better source for looking at something like this over the span of several decades.

  94. @jinx

    Mr. Taleb, everybody steps in it from time to time. No need to go incognito!

  95. @Steve in Greensboro


    It’s also a way to kick the can down the road a little farther. How to disguise what structural changes are doing to the prospects of millennials? Warehouse them in colleges for an extra decade to hide–for a little while longer, anyway–the massive generational downward mobility that is occurring.

  96. @JLK

    McDaniel uses a nationwide mean IQ estimate of 100, which is too high given that the US was only 70% n-H white at the time. Incidentally, I put together estimates several months before he released his paper!

    • Replies: @JLK
  97. JLK says:
    @Audacious Epigone

    You can find several other estimates of North Dakota IQ of ~100, which is still high enough that my point stands. Most of the North Dakota whites are German and rural. Where are the 94 IQers?

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
  98. anon[166] • Disclaimer says:

    For example, only 4 percent of white graduates who never attended a for-profit defaulted within 12 years of entry, compared to 67 percent of black dropouts who ever attended a for-profit. And while average debt per student has risen over time, defaults are highest among those who borrow relatively small amounts.

    There is data out there…this is from a Brookings study.

    The for profit stats are abysmal. Some of the schools have been BK ed because of abuses.

  99. Anon[383] • Disclaimer says:

    Can confirm for a loose estimate hovering around that average IQ for a Masters level degree (adjusted for science over arts).

    If you are smart (115+ depending on the discipline that you wish to pursue), take my heartfelt advice and pursue the most advanced degree in the most advanced discipline that you can cope with and that will provide you with a good career. Do not skip for length of study nor for cost. Confirm your future salary and take ALL federal loans. Buckle down and just do it.

    What you are trying to avoid is both departments and professions run by low IQ nimwits that will make your life hell for the duration, if not unduly threaten your career with their incompetence (easier to do than you may think).

    General competence is an IQ thing. Your sanity will depend on that competence. I can not over-state this.

    You will also be avoiding the type of petty resent / revenge politics that nimwits more often engage in because it is their archaic and only means that they know; to feel as if they are protecting themselves from you (who they will resent as smarter even if you are merely present. I’m not paranoid and this isn’t all of them, but they will invariably exist at any workplace).

    Schools have been lowering standards for a long time and these people now run entire University departments as well as professional organizations.

    Did you know that her University allowed your mid-level medical professional to re-take her entrance exams multiple times to squeak in for a supposedly competitive program , even after they lowered their score standards? Did you know that the University student sitting next to you in you teaching program is barely literate but will graduate? (well, she can sort of read but can barely string together a grammatical sentence).

    Signs that your field is run by the low IQ set, any one of which is a large red flag: the field is mostly women, its not a field that requires a science degree but instead requires an arts degree, it is not math centric, its ceiling pay is below 100k, it has anything to do with children, it has a professional correlate that requires more rigorous schooling (ie: psychologist vs psychiatrist), it is heavily political (ie: sociology, anthropology, psychology, teaching, etc), it has a national union, etc.

    Don’t make the worst mistake of your life. Go for a law degree if you are exceptionally intelligent, logical and can be sure that you can stand out (engineering+law= patent attorney also recommended), go for a medical doctor degree if you can memorize well, and if you are someone who is already getting that other hard science degree then you likely already know what to do.

    If you are getting a business degree, it better be from a top school or you had better have connections. Otherwise you are at risk for ending up with the nitwit crew.

    Accounting is also great and highly recommended (this is what I would have done, time and cost considered, if I could do it again). Actuarial science is supposedly good but I cannot comment on the time, cost, and career balance. Logistics is something else I would look at if I wanted another option for any reason. Engineering on its own seems limited unless extremely talented, but I would guess that many / most engineers get their project management certification that is good for 100-120k salary across many industries.

  100. @Audacious Epigone

    I was talking with one of my other fashy buddies and I was discussing how anything worth anything will eventually be faked over time. The powers that be knew that being a professor at Harvard Law gave you sort of a license to say whatever you want because the fact you taught there meant you were a smart person.

    Knowing that the public would buy almost everything by an expert™ – I’m of the view that they started making shit up they themselves knew was bullshit. They would then give there talking points to someone dumb enough not to question it but who could pose as an intellectual. The reputation of somewhere like Harvard will run/has run on inertia for a long time – but eventually people will question it.

    As a result, the media was able to meme Elizabeth Warren into an intellectual. But what she really is is a mcintellectual. Someone who cargo cults all the same thing as a genuinely smart person – while the real people in there field tend to be the ones who never get attention. It’s like how my mom once said that the real rich people are people you’ve never heard of.

    Likewise, this takimag piece talks about this kind of thing as well.

  101. eah says:

    Remember this?

    • Replies: @eah
  102. eah says:

    From the UC Merced web site:

  103. markflag says:

    The data would seem to be more relevant if broken down according to field of study or major. Over the past forty plus years (I finished in 1971) many pseudo-majors have been created. “Studies” has become a meaningless designation for limiting my studies to what I think I want to do but not what I need to do. Individual studies? Film studies? And the laughable ‘gender studies’ and/or ‘wymyn’s studies.’ These ain’t exactly differential calculus to say nothing of integral.

    I taught in a high level professional school for two decades. Some of the current crop of students are appallingly inarticulate. Spelling IS important as is grammar.

  104. Dan Kurt says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    re: All-you-can-eat place were not as helpful as one might think, BTW! – your stomach can’t take in that one meal per day as you planned. AEN

    My first year as a Grad Student at an Ivy cemented how poor most grad students were. I was tickled beyond belief to have gotten in and in my field NO ONE that I knew about got a full ride at the time but that all changed during my years there. But in 1963 most paid their way themselves (family) or took low interest loans. I had the deal one third scholarship, one third loan, and one third self pay for tuition. My family covered living expenses. I lived close to the bone but not that close. The first year I lived in a rooming house with a mixed group of grad and professional school students: dental, medical, chemistry, mba, and economics. I recall the med students had the option of taking meals at a closely located hospital where the food was really cheap. Their white coats allowed them to get into the cafeteria. One of dental students outdid them and everyone else by living on Hoagies. We called him Hoagie actually. He bought one Hoagie each evening and ate half of it for his supper. He had the second half the next day for breakfast. He did this seven days a week. He studied constantly but flunked out at the end of his first year as the dental school had a horrendous first year attrition rate. The mba student had an electric skillet and cooked almost all of his suppers: canned meat & rice cooked as a one pot meal. I recall he was from Montana and in his late 20s and he had been in the army for two years. He had his act together. The med students had the least time as they had classes five and a half days a week and some of them also had research positions during the academic year.

    At that time, it was sink or swim not only for students but the drive for tenure motivated the professors. While I was there my research professor got tenure. What a celebration. However, most did not and then scrambled for a position elsewhere. Those leaving often left their grad student(s) in a lurch. I wonder how it is now with all of the governmental support showering on the universities.

    Dan Kurt

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