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I don’t know for sure that Palo Alto, CA, the home of the venture capital industry and next door to Stanford U., is really the highest IQ town in America. The highest test score public schools in America are in Lexington, MA, a suburb preferred by Boston area college professors. And I imagine tiny, rich municipalities like Atherton, CA might have higher average IQ residents than sprawling Palo Alto with its pretty middle class housing stock.

But still … the average home price in Palo Alto is $2.5 million, which is kind of a lot considering the average home is a nothing special ranch style house. Palo Alto houses average $1,471 per square foot, so a 3,000 square foot house would cost $4.4 million.

So if you took the average IQ of the people who live in Palo Alto and the people who work in Palo Alto, it would be awfully high.

Historically, that’s not a coincidence. As I pointed out in Taki’s Magazine in 2012, Palo Alto has been as central to the story of IQ science in America as it has been to the story of electronics in America. Just before WWI, Lee de Forrest invented an important version of the vacuum tube in Palo Alto, while Stanford professor Lewis Terman published America’s first major IQ test, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales in 1916.

As I wrote in my history of Silicon Valley’s ongoing obsession with intelligence:

In 1921, Terman began his landmark study of gifted children with IQs of 135 and above, which continues even today to track its dwindling band of aged subjects. (Ironically, the young William Shockley was nominated for inclusion in Lewis Terman’s study, but his test score fell just short of the cutoff.) To the public’s surprise, “Terman’s Termites” showed that highly intelligent children were not particularly likely to grow up to be misfits like the much publicized prodigy/bad example William James Sidis. Indeed, the higher the IQ, the better the outcome. Terman’s study was an early landmark in Nerd Liberation, one of the 20th century’s most important social developments.

Hewlett, Packard, F. Terman

Lewis’s son Fred Terman, dean of engineering at Stanford, pretty much invented the distinctive aspects of the Silicon Valley educational-industrial complex, such as by encouraging his students Hewlett & Packard to go into business for themselves.

The other main candidate for Father of Silicon Valley, William Shockley, was a good friend of Terman’s. During WWII, they’d been in charge of mirror image R&D projects for the military in terms of electronic warfare over Germany. Stanford missed out on the federal lucre during WWII, and Terman resolved for Stanford to be ready when the Cold War cranked up. (See Steve Blank’s lecture Hidden in Plain Sight: The Secret History of Silicon Valley for the fascinating back story.)

But Palo Alto wants to stay at the forefront of the growing fad for damnatio memoriae, by rewriting its history to eliminate the names of its now politically inappropriate founding fathers.

From Palo Alto Online:

School board majority supports renaming schools

One trustee worries renaming will distract from deeper issues

by Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Mar 8, 2017, 9:15 am

A majority of the school board agreed on Tuesday that two of the school district’s middle schools should be renamed in light of their namesakes’ leadership roles in the eugenics movement.

Recognizing an opposing view in the community — that to rename these schools would be to sever generations of alumni’s ties to tradition and history — most board members said that in a public school district in 2017, however, schools cannot carry the names of men who actively advocated for policies grounded in a belief that people of certain races and disabilities were inferior to others.

All five trustees said they support a majority recommendation from a district committee, convened last year to study and make recommendations on the renaming issue, to give David Starr Jordan Middle School a new name, and a majority said they also believe Terman Middle School should be renamed.

David Starr Jordan was the first president of Stanford U. He was an anti-imperialist who wrote a famous anti-war treatise pointing out that war was dysgenic: the morally best young men would get gunned down in vast numbers, while the sleazier would be more likely to avoid such a fate.

Terman’s fate is slightly more complicated given its naming history, trustees said Tuesday. Terman was first named after Lewis Terman, a prominent Stanford University psychologist, when the school opened in 1958. When the school later closed and then reopened in 2001, it was named to honor both Lewis and his son, Frederick, an accomplished Stanford electrical engineer. There is no clear evidence, committee members said Tuesday, that Frederick played an active role in or supported the eugenics movement, as Lewis did.

Eh … As I wrote in 2012 about Fred:

His son inherited Lewis’s biases: Fred Terman’s wife of 47 years, who had been one of his father’s grad students, said he only became serious about courting her after he went to the Psych Department and looked up her IQ score.

Back to the Palo Alto Weekly:

One committee member recommended retaining the Terman name, but making clear that it honors the son, not the father. A majority of the committee recommended against this, arguing that “retaining the surname will not effectively disconnect the school from Lewis and does not effectively disavow his eugenics legacy,” committee member and parent Sara Armstrong said Tuesday.

It’s almost as if the anti-eugenics witch-hunters believe that Fred Terman, the primary founder of Silicon Valley, inherited the sins of the father, IQ scientist Lewis Terman, via ideological Corruption of Blood.

Ofelia Prado said as a Mexican mother of a Jordan seventh-grader, it was “negative and shameful and degrading” to hear that her child’s school was named after a eugenicist. (In Jordan’s writings, he called Mexicans “ignorant, superstitious, with little self control and no conception of industry or thrift” and also wrote that “to say that one race is superior to another is merely to confirm the common observation of every intelligent citizen.”)

They should rename Jordan the Angelo Mozilo School, because at least Angelo didn’t believe the wrong things. Angelo put your money where his mouth was when it came to believing that Mexican were good bets to pay back their mortgages.

… Some board members said the estimated cost of renaming — about $200,000 to cover both schools — is a secondary consideration that would not stop them from voting in support. …

The board will vote on the renaming proposals at its next meeting on Tuesday, March 14. …

Many parents urged the board Tuesday night to seize the opportunity to take a visible stand for the values it so often cites: equality, diversity and inclusion.

After all, there’s nothing that screams equality, diversity, and inclusion than Palo Alto’s NIMBY policies that keep the average house selling for $2.5 million.

By the way, Stanford is running a project to make school district average test scores comparable across the country. As I pointed out in Taki’s Magazine last spring, the worst white-black test score gap in the country was found in violently liberal Berkeley, CA. The next four least equal school districts were Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC; Shaker Heights, OH; Asheville, NC; and Evanston, IL.

Other liberal college towns with massive white-black gaps include Madison (U. of Wisconsin), Iowa City (U. of Iowa), Charlottesville (U. of Virginia), Austin (U. of Texas), Bernie Sanders’ Burlington (U. of Vermont), Durham (Duke U.), and Ann Arbor (U. of Michigan). Palo Alto, next door to Stanford U., the sponsor of this research project, also has an intense white-black gap, but not enough blacks can afford to live in Palo Alto for it to make my sample-size cutoff for reliability.

Now that’s what I call equality, diversity and inclusion!

By the way, I’m reminded of this conversation between Russ Roberts and Yale psychologist Paul Bloom:

Screenshot 2017-03-09 03.00.02

I’ve met Pinker and Murray, and they really are noticeably smarter than I am.

Back in 2010 it occurred to me that I ought to write about a book explaining why it isn’t the end of the world that some people are smarter than other people. That would be my great contribution if I could explain why, just as it’s not a global crisis that all the medalists in the next Olympic men’s 100m dash will be black, the fact that some races tend to be smarter than others doesn’t mean we should dig up Hitler’s DNA and elect him President.

But, you’ll notice, I haven’t written that book yet.

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I had only been vaguely aware of the Elizabeth Holmes saga until recently. My impression from all the magazine covers had been that the celebrated Silicon Valley startup foundrix had invented some revolutionary disruptive new method for testing blood and made the Forbes 400 off her invention.

Back in 2014, this high tech startup’s board of directors was … remarkable. From Fortune:

Little known and privately held, Theranos has assembled what may be, in terms of public service, the most illustrious board in U.S. corporate history. It includes three former U.S. cabinet secretaries, two former U.S. senators, a retired Navy admiral and a retired Marine Corps general.

In 2011, explains company founder Elizabeth Holmes, she realized that changing the way health care is delivered in this country would require the help of great strategists.

That July she finagled an introduction to George Shultz (above), the former Secretary of State, Treasury, and Labor, at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Shultz had held four cabinet-level positions, counting his stint as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and had also been president of engineering giant Bechtel Group and a director at biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. …

Schultz, Holmes, the late Lee Kwan Yew

Three years later nearly all the other outside directors on Theranos’s board are people who were introduced to the company through Shultz, now 93. They are former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Bill Frist (a heart-transplant surgeon), retired U.S. Navy Adm. Gary Roughead, retired U.S. Marine Corp Gen. James Mattis, former Wells Fargo CEO and chairman Dick Kovacevich, and former Bechtel Group CEO Riley Bechtel.

Why isn’t Prince Bandar on her board?

This sounds a lot like that Strategic Advisory Board for Genie Oil and Gas, which is drilling in the Golan Heights: Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Richardson, Mary Landrieu, Lord Rothschild, Jim Woolsey, and Larry Summers.

This sounds like a good data mining project for moneyballing investors: which famous name on boards is most often associated with firms with something to hide? Can you detect patterns of board membership that have predictive value?

Maybe statistics would suggest that adding superlawyer David Boies to your Board isn’t a good sign?

David Boies – Director
David Boies is the Chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, an internationally recognized trial lawyer, legal advisor and counselor to boards of directors. Mr. Boies served as Special Trial Counsel for the United States Department of Justice in its antitrust suit against Microsoft; lead counsel for former Vice-President Al Gore in connection with litigation relating to the 2000 Florida vote count; and as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Perry v. Brown, which established for the first time the federal constitutional right for gay and lesbian citizens to marry.

From the WSJ just after Christmas:

At Theranos, Many Strategies and Snags
Elizabeth Holmes’s blood-testing ambition has long collided with technological problems

By John Carreyrou

The night before a big meeting with a Swiss drug company in 2008, Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes and a colleague sat in a Zurich hotel, sticking their fingers with a lancet.

They drew drops of their own blood to try the company’s testing machine, but the devices wouldn’t work, says someone familiar with the incident. Sometimes the results were obviously too high. Sometimes they were too low. Sometimes the machines spit out only an error message.

After two hours, the colleague called it quits, leaving Ms. Holmes still squeezing blood from her fingers to test it again.

Ever since she launched Theranos in 2003 when she was 19 years old and dropped out of Stanford University, Ms. Holmes has been driven by ambition that is big even by Silicon Valley standards. Instead of a smartphone app to hail a car or order food, she wants to revolutionize health care with a vast range of diagnostic tests run with a few drops of finger-pricked blood.

Now 31, Ms. Holmes has emphasized a variety of strategies—a hand-held device, tests for drugmakers, drugstore clinics—while trying to turn her dream into a business. She often has collided with technological problems, according to interviews with more than 20 former Theranos employees, company emails and complaints filed with federal regulators.

In Switzerland, she went ahead and pricked her finger in front of a group of Novartis AG executives at the meeting the next day, testing for a protein that measures inflammation, says the person familiar with the incident.

All three of her Theranos devices flickered with error messages, the person says. Ms. Holmes was unfazed, blamed a minor technical glitch and continued to pitch the vast potential of her technology.

At the WSJDLive 2015 conference, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes discusses her company’s proprietary technologies, the FDA’s inspection of its facilities and the assertion that Theranos was too quick to market its products.

Ms. Holmes and several current or former Theranos directors declined interview requests. A spokeswoman for Theranos, Brooke Buchanan, says Ms. Holmes recalls only one machine with an error message, because someone tripped over the cord. A second machine ran perfectly, and the third wasn’t used, the spokeswoman says. A Novartis spokeswoman wouldn’t comment.

Since a Wall Street Journal article in October, Ms. Holmes has defended the Palo Alto, Calif., company’s laboratory work and promised to publish data proving the accuracy of its more than 240 tests, ranging from pregnancy to diabetes.

She said earlier this month that customer volume was higher than ever. The company has said it performed millions of tests, with highly positive feedback.

For now, though, Theranos has stopped collecting tiny samples of blood from patients’ fingers for all but one of its tests while it waits for the Food and Drug Administration to review the company’s applications for wider use of the small proprietary vials called “nanotainers.” As a result, Theranos is using traditional lab machines for most of its tests.

But it turns out that back in 2003 she only came up with the idea that it would be awesome to invent some revolutionary new method for testing blood that wouldn’t require a big needle. (Getting rich off a replacement for the needle isn’t a wholly original idea, either. In the 2000 movie Boiler Room, a fictionalized version of The Wolf of Wall Street shenanigans, the boys are pushing a penny stock firm said to have invented a replacement for the hypodermic needle.)

The various devices that Theranos’s engineers have come up with since then evidently haven’t worked well enough to get FDA approval, so Theranos has apparently been using its large sums of investor money to have the blood tests it does at drug stores processed the old-fashioned way. (And / or deliver not very reliable results.)

This kind of fake-it-until-you-make-it strategy is hardly unknown. I suspect numerous successful companies went through just such a ploy of promising a revolutionary cheaper technology and then delivering on contracts using an expensive old fashioned technology until making the new tech work.

Of course, so did lots of ultimately unsuccessful companies.

It’s also not uncommon in Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs who are funded for their original idea to get repurposed into working on something else when the original idea proves a dud, but the investors still like the founders’ personalities.

Obviously, she’s good at impressing important men. That’s a remunerative skill, even without being an inventor. The interesting question is why didn’t she get redirected away from a field, biotechnology, in which she had no particular technical skills to one in which her abundant people skills would be useful?

But perhaps the Elizabeth Holmes’ reality distortion field was so strong that all the venture capitalists and famous board members backing her never noticed that she actually wasn’t a genius biotech inventor? Or did it have something to do with everybody who was anybody getting too invested in the idea that it was time for Silicon Valley to have a female Steve Jobs (she wears black turtlenecks like Jobs) to notice?

P.S., Back in October, Holmes was named to the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic & International Studies:

CSIS Names 9 New Members to its Board of Trustees
OCT 1, 2015
WASHINGTON, October 1, 2015—The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is pleased to announce that Erskine Bowles [Clinton Administration chief of staff], William Daley [Obama chief of staff], Stanley Druckenmiller [formerly Soros Management Fund], Martin Edelman [real estate legal rainmaker active in Persian Gulf gigadeals], Elizabeth Holmes, Ronald Kirk [black mayor of Dallas, US Trade Rep], Leon Panetta [got Osama as CIA boss, then Sec of Def], Bob Schieffer [Face the Nation], and Frances Townsend [chair of Homeland Security Council under Bush] have joined the CSIS Board of Trustees.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Elizabeth Holmes, Silicon Valley, Theranos 
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The Flynn Effect of rising raw scores on IQ tests is one of the most interesting phenomena in all the human sciences. It was first noticed in the 1940s, but for a long time little attention was paid to the fact that IQ test publishers had to renorm their tests periodically because people kept doing better on them. This pattern began to be explored by political philosopher James Flynn from around 1979 onward, and the phrase “Flynn Effect” was coined in his honor in 1994′s The Bell Curve.

One interesting aspect of the Flynn Effect is that it tends to be larger on the less culturally biased tests, such as the outer space-looking Raven’s Progressive Matrices:

Historically, much effort was put into the obvious challenge of developing IQ tests that are stable across space, from culture to culture. In contrast, nobody until Flynn paid all that much attention to the question of IQ tests being stable across time.

For example, the alien-looking Raven’s Matrices IQ test that was introduced in the 1930s in the hope of being more culture-free than previous IQ tests has seen a huge Flynn Effect of around 3 points per decade, or a standard deviation (15 points) in a half century. A score on the Raven’s that would put you at the 50th percentile a half century ago would only put you at the 16th percentile today.

The more human-seeming Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) saw a still-substantial Flynn Effect of about two points per decade, but that’s less than the Raven’s.

Screenshot 2015-10-17 00.15.05

Importantly, the size of the Flynn Effect from 1947-2002 differed sharply amongst the subtests on the WISC as shown above, from only 2 points over the 55 years on the “Information” and “Arithmetic” subtests to 22 points on “Picture Arrangement” and 24 points on “Similarities.” (In the table above, the Flynn Effect column is taken from my 2007 review in VDARE of Flynn’s book What Is Intelligence? )

The kind of cognitive facilities that come up in normal conversation, such as vocabulary, arithmetic and general knowledge, have only seen small Flynn Effects, which is why the Flynn Effect isn’t easily noticeable in much of daily life (although I’ll point out below where it can be seen).

Recently, James Thompson’s Psychological Comments had a table of the “cultural load” of each WISC subtest from a 2013 paper:

Kees-Jan Kan, Jelte M. Wicherts, Conor V. Dolan, and Han L. J. van der Maas. “On the Nature and Nurture of Intelligence and Specific Cognitive Abilities: The More Heritable, the More Culture Dependent.” Psychological Science 24(12) 2420–2428

… Cultural load was operationalized as the average proportion of items that were adjusted in each subtest of the WAIS-III when the scale was adapted for use in 13 countries.

I presume that means adjustments in questions beyond simple translation. IQ test publishers validate new editions of their tests in each country in which they intend to sell them, and that lets them notice proposed questions that don’t work well due to local idiosyncrasies. (In contrast, the PISA international school achievement tests have a “we’ll fix it in post-production” philosophy of dropping poorly designed questions after the PISA test is given. But in either case, it’s important to figure out at some point which questions just don’t work the same across space and which ones work well around the world with just simple translations.)

Wicherts et al have noticed that heritability is strongest on the most culture loaded subtests, which is very important. But I want to focus today upon the potential implications of their data (the Cultural Load column in my table above) for better understanding of the Flynn Effect.

My table above combines the two sets of figures for Weschler substests. (Note the oranges to tangerines comparison of WISC [Flynn Effect] to WAIS [Cultural Load] — there are a ton of technical issues here, such as the Digit Span subtest being missing from Flynn’s data, but I’m just going to blunder onward.)

Eyeballing my table, it looks like there’s a moderate negative correlation between the size of the Flynn Effect and the size of the Cultural Load. The correlation is -0.44.

This overall pattern shouldn’t be surprising because it’s in line with the general difference between the Raven’s and the Wechsler’s: the more a Wechsler subtest is like the Raven’s, the higher the Flynn Effect. Conversely, the more culture-dependent a Wechsler subtest is, the lower the Flynn Effect.

For example, “vocabulary” is the most culturally sensitive Wechsler subtest, not surprisingly, and it’s got a quite small Flynn Effect. Interestingly, vocabulary’s also a really good subtest of overall intelligence. For instance, the ongoing General Social Survey includes a 10 word vocabulary test and that has proven to be a surprisingly decent proxy for IQ.

If we leave out the “Similarities” outlier, the correlation is -0.74.

My best theory for what’s going on with the Flynn Effect besides obvious ones like better nutrition is that the world has seen a major cultural / environmental shift that has been going on in most cultures around the world at a fairly steady pace that makes young people better at certain subtests, typically on Performance IQ subtests, but doesn’t do them much good on Verbal IQ subtests except for “Similarities.”

As I wrote in 2007 about “Similarities:”

Finally, the fastest rising subtest on the WISC, Similarities, rewards abstract scientific thinking, what Flynn calls viewing the world through “scientific spectacles.”

A child gets a maximum score for replying that dogs and rabbits are “mammals.” A kid in 1947 who had never seen a nature documentary on TV would likely have said “They have four legs” or something else more concrete than the Linnaean category “mammals.”

In 1947 a child in the hollers of Kentucky would probably know more concrete things about dogs and rabbits than an urban child today. But IQ tests have tended to anticipate the direction in which global culture has evolved, away from the concrete and toward the abstract and two-dimensional, toward what can be represented on a piece of paper or a screen.

Whatever this change is, it’s reminiscent of Moore’s Law in its endurance and steady pace. As you know, around 1968 Gordon Moore of Intel, the famous Silicon Valley silicon chip firm descended from Shockley Semiconductor, pointed out that Intel had been able to double the number of transistors on a standard size piece of silicon every year or two throughout the 1960s, and he believed that the industry would be able to keep up this pace for some time into the future. This more or less proved true for at least four decades, with world changing consequences, such as the coining of the term “Silicon Valley” in 1971 and the rise of Silicon Valley to immense economic importance.

I don’t know if Moore’s Law is still in effect (the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012, the first time in my personal computer owning career, which goes back to 1984, that a new computer wasn’t tangibly faster). Similarly, I don’t know if the Flynn Effect is still operating everywhere. (I haven’t really been following the data in this decade.)

But Moore’s Law has been kind of like the Flynn Effect in that it has been relatively incremental, decade after decade, rather than erratic, and the effects have been felt globally even though its heartland has been Silicon Valley, kind of like how IQ testing’s heartland has been Silicon Valley ever since Lewis Terman released America’s first IQ test, the Stanford-Binet, a century ago.

Moreover, Moore’s Law (in the sense of higher performance in general) has had multiple causes. For example, when clock speeds on CPU chips topped out, the chip companies were able to regroup and keep Moore’s Law progressing for a number of years further by doing other things. Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) in the past, but improved nutrition has been less of a contributor to the Flynn Effect in some countries in recent years as nutrition has gotten about as good as it’s going to get. But other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going a while longer.

So, Moore’s Law is an informative analogy for the Flynn Effect.

But I would go further and suggest, somewhat hand-wavingly, that one of the driving forces of the Flynn Effect has been Moore’s Law, or, to be both more precise and more vague, some kind of superset of a direction to technological change of which Moore’s Law is a subset.

One of the big changes in daily life over recent centuries has been the growth of what I might call humans having to deal with “machine logic.” People today deal far more often each day than in the past with semi-intelligent machines who can only be dealt with in a certain way according to their own logic. You deal with the ATM rather than with a bank teller, with a gasoline pump rather than with a pump jockey, with elevator buttons rather than with elevator operators. You can’t wave your hands around with these machines until they figure out what you want done. You have to follow a precise logical series of steps.

(This trend may not continue forever. For example, searching the Internet using Google today requires users to use less logic than searching the Internet using Alta Vista in 1998 required. The term “Boolean operators” was useful to understand to get more out of Alta Vista, while Google is so smart today that you don’t have to be as smart.)

This trend toward people having to interface more each decade with machine logic hasn’t just been happening since the silicon chip was invented. Before the silicon chip was the transistor, perfected by William Shockley, and before that the vacuum tube, which Lee de Forest made significant progress upon in Palo Alto around the time Lewis Terman of Stanford was adopting Binet’s pioneering IQ test for the American market.

Granted, I’m waving my hands around in making this argument in the hopes that you’ll grasp what I’m trying to get across. I don’t have this reduced to a precise series of steps that a machine intelligence could understand, but I do think I’m onto something: that the high Flynn Effect, low Culture Load IQ subtests are a kind of like mastering dealing with information technologies, and kids these days get more practice in that than we did and we got more practice than our parents did.

In contrast, kids these days likely have less practice dealing with complex 3-d entities, such as repairing automobile engines. Instead, they are used to dealing with 2-d paper and, ever increasingly, 2-d screens. But IQ tests tend to shy away from much in the way of 3-d testing, other than some blocks subtests on the WISC and other children’s IQ tests, largely for reasons of economy. Asking and answering questions in a 2-d format, whether on paper or on a computer screen, is cheap.

But because 2-d is cheap, the real world has also moved in the 2-d direction that IQ tests anticipated.


One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

More senior executives at the information company where I worked back then tended to find the new personal information technologies difficult to master. They were used to issuing orders to intelligent human beings, such as their secretaries, who wouldn’t take everything quite so literally. The founders of the company where I worked were superbly intelligent at dealing with human psychology, but they found arbitrary machine logic daunting.

But similar information technology developments in this century have not struck me as fun at all to learn about. On Twitter, for example, I’m basically clueless about whether I’m replying to one person or to thousands. Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.

Generation after generation, children grow up in an environment ever denser with the kind of systems logic that the more Flynn Effected-Wechsler subtests ask about. Growing up, kids these days get more practice with the kind of thinking tested on the Raven’s and on some of the Wechsler subtexts. And they legitimately are better at it.

The Flynn Effect is a side effect of the developers of the IQ test being on “the right side of history.” We’re used to hearing progressives denounce IQ tests as obsolete pseudoscience on the wrong side of history, but, in reality, IQ testing in the United States has some amusing organic ties to the triumph of Silicon Valley. Louis Terman’s son Fred Terman (1900-1982), a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, was the perhaps the single most important figure in the rise of Silicon Valley. The mentor of Hewlett and Packard, he largely invented the model of Stanford grad students like Larry Page and Sergey Brin starting up high tech firms like Google.

You are supposed to believe that the Termans were all wrong, but it sure looks like we’re living in the world the Terman family anticipated.

• Category: Science • Tags: Flynn Effect, IQ, Moore's Law, Robots, Silicon Valley 
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For years I’ve been pointing out that two bulwarks of Democratic Party campaign fundraising and prestige, Silicon Valley and Hollywood, don’t have to play by the Diversity rules that most of the rest of American business is supposed to play by.

Every few years since the 1990s, Jesse Jackson would try to shake down the Tech Industry and he’d be laughed out of town. Silicon Valley and Hollywood were too liberal, too rich, too powerful, too successful in the global marketplace (America can only wish we had as big a share of jetliners, much less cars, as Silicon Valley and Hollywood have of their respective markets) to let Jesse Jackson throw a wrench in the works.

But 2014 was the year in which liberal ideology overwhelmed liberal hypocrisy. From New York Times columnist Joe Nocera:

Silicon Valley’s Mirror Effect
DEC. 26, 2014

“If meritocracy exists anywhere on earth, it is in Silicon Valley,” wrote David Sacks in an email to The Times’s Jodi Kantor.

Kantor was working on an article, published in The Times on Tuesday, about the Stanford class of 1994 — the class that graduated a year before Netscape went public, and, for all intents and purposes, started the Internet economy. She was exploring why the men in that class had done so much better in Silicon Valley than the women.

Sacks, meanwhile, was one of the most successful members of the class. At Stanford he wrote for The Stanford Review, “a conservative-libertarian campus newspaper,” where he befriended Peter Thiel, a fellow libertarian.

And were wildly unpopular dissidents on campus for opposing the regime of diversity worship that Jesse Jackson’s Hey Ho Western Civ Has Got To Go protests had imposed on Stanford. Obviously Thiel and Sacks were wrong because Science. Blacks and women (nobody ever seems to care enough about Mexicans to mention them, even though there are many millions in California) are just as likely to found successful companies once Jesse Jackson gets to revamp education. I mean, who are you gonna believe is smarter: Jesse Jackson or Peter Thiel?

Then, in 1998, Sacks, Thiel and a handful of others — overwhelmingly white and male — founded PayPal, which made them all very rich. Since then, the PayPal Mafia, as these men are known in Silicon Valley, have seeded companies, founded companies and sold companies — in effect, financing another generation of (mostly) young white men.

So, Sacks and Thiel have tested their discredited theories, using themselves as their test subjects, and …

… But, as Kantor pointedly asks in a short introduction to Sacks’s email, if Silicon Valley is truly a meritocracy, “why do mostly men prevail?”

Why do mostly men prevail in the NBA?

This is a question that has become increasingly urgent. This summer, Jesse Jackson shamed a number of important Silicon Valley companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and LinkedIn, into publishing a breakdown of their employees by race and sex. The numbers are appalling — something the companies were forced to concede once the figures became public. At LinkedIn, 2 percent of the work force is black, and 4 percent is Hispanic. Google is 70 percent male, with 91 percent of its employees either white or Asian. Facebook: 69 percent male and 91 percent white or Asian. When it comes to leadership positions or board seats, the numbers are even worse. Can this really be the result of “meritocracy?”


There aren’t many women or African-Americans working in Silicon Valley who would agree.

Why the constant insensitivity, the microagressions against the missing Mexicans not working in Silicon Valley, Mr. Nocera?

“Silicon Valley’s obsession with meritocracy is delusional,” Freada Kapor Klein, the co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, told The Los Angeles Times in May.

How did Freada Kapor Klein get to be the co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact?

“Unless someone wants to posit that intelligence is not evenly distributed across genders and race, there has to be some systemic explanation for what these numbers look like.”

I want to posit that intelligence is not evenly distributed across genders and race.

Her husband, Mitch Kapor, designed Lotus 1-2-3, the seminal spreadsheet program that helped to make the IBM PC famous,

Question answered!

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Diversity, Silicon Valley 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?