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The Tricky Question of Rationality
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Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock in Star Trek. Photograph: Moviestore Collect

Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable?
1. Linda is a bank teller.
2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

Personally, after reading the above description, I have Linda in my mind’s eye, and I can just see her lecturing me on what sort of yoghurt I should eat. If I ever met her, I would not dream of admitting that I drive a diesel car, and that I have very recently taken up sketching nude women. Of course she is a feminist, and against nuclear weapons! That is obvious. (Actually, if Linda is very attractive, it might be worth my while telling her about my book against nuclear war).

“Linda” is the tricky question Kahneman and Tversky made famous. They implied that people who chose answer 2 were being irrational, because, wait for it, it is more likely from a statistical point of view that Linda is a bank teller (answer 1) than that she is a bank teller with a particular political interest (answer 2). This is because there will be at least some bank tellers who are not feminists, and even if there is only one such bank teller, then the category “bank teller and also feminist” will be smaller than the category “bank teller”. So, it is more likely that she is just a bank teller.

However, the introductory remarks have lead you into getting the sucker punch. The woman is SINGLE for God’s sake, despite being 31 years of age. Some problem there. Despite being a woman, she is OUTSPOKEN and VERY BRIGHT. She studied PHILOSOPHY which I can testify puts you on a hiding to nothing. She was DEEPLY CONCERNED with issues of DISCRIMINATION and SOCIAL JUSTICE. ANTI-NUCLEAR completes the picture. Answer 2 is the better match with the female of this species.

For many years some people have been asserting that tests of rationality show that IQ tests leave out an important aspect of mental ability. If you are clever, but screw up on the Linda Question, then that shows that you lack rationality. Like most things, this is an old debate, best presented by Peter Cathcart Wason, who started this horse running with his four card logic problem in 1966. I heard him lecture on it at The National Hospital, Queen Square, in 1968 or thereabouts, and he demurred when the neuro-surgeon introducing him said that he thought the problem “somehow unfair”. That comment caught the essence of the matter very well.

The other interpretation is that, far from being a test of rationality, whatever that is, the Linda Question is tricky, and teaches you more about the specific question form than about general human thinking processes. Question forms are interesting, and should be studied, particularly by those writing instruction manuals, government advice brochures, and examination questions. Confusing people is easy. Writing clearly and honestly is more difficult.

I have explained all this before, and will probably keep explaining it for ever, because many people, discouraged by clear evidence of their palpably limited intellects, would like a Get Out of Jail card from Multiple Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Practical Intelligence and now, Rational Intelligence.
As you will have seen if you read the second list, I wished the authors good luck in making their test, but was implying it would be difficult.

Stanovich, West and Toplak have now published their book: “The Rationality Quotient: Towards a test of rational thinking”. This is a “Towards” book, and we should not be too impatient, because scholarship takes time. However, it is a bit frustrating. The book gives an erudite account of the issues, but then only selected gems from the relevant work, much of it unpublished. What happened to the old-style test manuals? They had short introductions, a much longer section on standardization samples and general procedures, full instructions about how to administer and score each test, and then correlation matrixes, some factor analyses, and standard score conversion tables. You knew where you were with these manuals. You had to read them to understand what you were doing, and had to hang on to reliability and validity measures for dear life: without those the test was useless. Presumably, we will have to wait for that test manual. Daniel Kahneman, however has seen enough to aver that “it makes a compelling case for measuring rationality independently of intelligence”. Should we be compelled to that conclusion?

There is no a priori reason why a new test of rationality, or practical intelligence, or emotional intelligence or multiple intelligence should not supplant the current range of psychometric tests developed over the last 110 years. Improvements happen. All the new test has to show is that it is a better predictor of real life outcomes than the former test. In an instant, the old test is toast.

Why do the developers of CART, heavily trailed as reaching the reasoning zones that ordinary psychometric tests cannot reach, not bother with validity tests? I pondered this and decided that, prior to reading it, I would sketch out what validity tests would be required. I needed a real life measure of reason, and a strong motive for people to exercise their reason in attaining their goal. Finally, the answer struck me: most people work for a living, and most reasonable people save some money for long retirement. Would tests of rationality, I asked myself, be better predictors of investment strategies and outcomes than ordinary tests of intelligence?

No sooner do I pose the question than I find that Stuart Ritchie has already reviewed the book, and found out that the authors have not bothered with validity tests.

So, I no longer have to review the book. Ritchie has done the job, calmly, kindly, and lethally. He has lanced the pretensions of the “rationality tests are better than intelligence tests” by showing they have not yet provided any validity data, and in terms of their association with intelligence tests, they correlate 0.7 Here is an illustrative table.
Rationality and IQ

Naturally, the individual subtests vary considerably in their correlations with intelligence, but the final test result is closely linked with IQ. Indeed, from a psychometric viewpoint it is no more than a long-winded and very cumbersome intelligence subtest, and so it will remain, until validity data proves otherwise. However, these correlations are instructive, so make a mental note of the ones that most rely on intelligence, and then compare with my comments below.

Here are a few reflections as a post-script to Ritchie. If Rationality is a thing, it must hang together. Tests of rationality should correlate with each other because they have rationality in common. As a rule of thumb, subtest correlations should be better than 0.6, ideally 0.7 and above. Absent such correlations, the subtests would be no more than a hodge-podge of curiosities.


Rationality subtest correlations with total

Furthermore, inspection of the correlations between the subtests shows that many of the subtests are apparently not testing the same mental skill of rationality. Correlations of 0.28 hardly suggest a common factor. I think these are disparate tests, corralled under a one-size-fits-all banner. Wechsler subtests look pristine by comparison. From a psychometric point of view the following subtests (ordered by correlations including, and then excluding, the subtest in the total score) seem promising:

1 Probabilistic reasoning .78 .71
2 Scientific reasoning .78 .70
3 Reflection versus Intuition .77 .71
14 Financial literacy .72 .65
4 Syllogistic reasoning .68 .62
13 Probabilistic numeracy .67 .62

Is it just me, or do these have an IQ-like look to them? In fact, the ones that correlate which each other are ones which require intelligence as shown in the correlations with cognitive ability listed above. This is something of a crisis for any test of rationality. If they pick the best 6 sub-tests and drop all the others, they could get the whole test down to manageable proportions and quick enough to use. Currently, the full form is far too long, but this is part of the test development process. Neither subjects or test givers like long tests. There are many quick IQ tests against which a rationality test will have to compete. However, how much Rationality will reside in such a test? It will be just another IQ test. To stick true to their own mission they should reject the list above and concentrate on those tests which do not correlate with intelligence. This will be the pure rationality they seek. The fact that those tests don’t correlate with each other is a problem they will have to solve.

Validity measures must be proffered for this new test, or the whole thing will be no more than a burst bubble, a party balloon that popped.

I think that Kahneman has been premature in concluding that we should measure rationality independently of intelligence. Currently it is no more than a cumbersome subtest, with no demonstrated advantages.

What I cannot refute is that many show a deep desire to supplant tests of intelligence. Far from doing so, this “Towards” book has inadvertently done a good job of showing that Rationality is very probably not separate from Intelligence, and that the tests of a presumed common factor of rationality are a very mixed bunch. I suspect they are mostly a collection of tricky questions organized into general types. Refined down to the best subtests, and further refined down to the most discriminating items, it might be possible to construct a test which clinicians and researchers will use. That remains to be demonstrated, and depends validity measures. It would be good to see if a Rationality Quotient was a better predictor of long-term investment performance than an IQ test.

Grant proposal, someone?

• Category: Science • Tags: Mental Traits, Rationality 
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  1. It seems similar in content to the previous book. That book also made a number of strong claims about the usefulness and incremental validity of these tests, but was light on the numerical content.

    Kuncel and Sackett’s presentation did not find much evidence for these tests being useful for important outcomes:

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  2. @Emil O. W. Kirkegaard

    Agreed. However, they are close to being able to claim that they have an actual test. Once it is available then more validity tests can be done.

  3. res says:

    Thanks for covering this. On a somewhat related note, any thoughts on what would improve on IQ tests as a measure of likelihood of future achievement? My proposal would be combining an IQ test with some form of the Stanford marshmallow experiment (assuming the goal is maximum predictive power with minimum testing, perhaps use Raven’s (A)PM for IQ?). Perhaps such a test would need to be society specific to some degree (e.g. extraversion and height also important in the US?).

    On the other hand, marshmallow test results are supposed to correlate with IQ (amazing how so many “good” things do) and I haven’t seen a rigorous analysis incorporating both and looking at relative merit (e.g. increase in predictive power of both tests over either one alone). This looks like a good direction:
    Any other suggestions?

    Does the book you mention (or the researchers) have enough data to evaluate what their CART looks like if projected onto the intelligence principal components (where g is first and dominant)? I’m guessing they would need a larger sample size (more like an IQ test standardization sample).

    • Replies: @RaceRealist88
    , @dc.sunsets
  4. @res

    Marshmallow test results are definitely correlated with life success. Read:

    Not surprisingly, it’s correlated with obesity which is correlated with intelligence.

  5. I do not have the patience to read the same thing sir.

    First, because we have an idiotic person who confuses his ideology with rationality, this does not mean that the second is not ” one thing ”.

    Second, intelligence is one thing, rationality is part of this thing, but this you and your little friends should know.

    Third, much of MI theory is wrong for the same reason that the ” leftist rationality test ” is wrong. The fact that there is only one intelligence, an ideal model of intelligence, does not mean that this big-trait does not vary in quantitative and qualitative value, but that you and your friends should know.

    Yes, there are no “multiple intelligences,” but there are many types of combinations of this “ideal model of intelligence,” but this you and your friends should know.

    Finally a test of rationality really, for being a test, a simulation of reality, does not seem very efficient. The ideal even and not only for rationality but especially for this we should analyze the people in real life, where the contexts and the answers are real and not just “correlative.”

    But we could begin to see how people react to politics that tends to encompass a range of moral and intellectual questions of the most diverse orders. I know that extremist leftists and rightist extremists are not the most rational, but I also know that many of their more characteristically extremist ideas are not wrong either because they follow it and in fact in the world we are in, the level of rationality Seems to be always higher for the truly oppressed than for the true oppressor, who is almost never quite right, depending on the situation.

    For example, the level of specific rationality in relation to the issue of ‘veganism vs. vegetarianism vs. mega-meat industry’ is much more on the side of vegans and vegetarians than on the side of incurable carnivores, ‘The left’ ‘, although the traditional left has never given any importance to this subject.

    On the other hand, the issue of ‘open door policy vs. immigration restraint’ is much more to the side of those who wish to restrict immigration.

    And whichever is more for the rigorous review and if possible gradual dismantling of this mega-industry of meat and at the same time to restrict immigration, and even use one to justify the other, will be demonstrating greater rationality, at least in relation to these two “Contemporary” issues.

    Fourth, I do not know how autistic you are, but complete intelligence needs your emotional / psychological aspect if it is not just the motor, People tend to make mistakes when they can not suppress their emotions or understand and apply it correctly,

    Fifth, IQ is not intelligence, repeat with me. My weight in numbers is one thing, all the characteristics of my weight is something else, quite different. As I manage my weight is something other than my weight in numbers,

    Sixth, IQ has no context, it’s a test, it’s a reality simulation, that’s why IQ tests always correlate with something in the world, but it never expresses perfectly,

    Seventh, the higher levels of rationality are similar to creativity, that is, they are not regularly well distributed, but often abruptly,

    Eighth, the society is dominated by ” high IQ ” people. They do not seem very rational, just logical, selfish, ambitious, and emotionally cold,

    Logical is one thing, rational is something else. Rational is the act of looking at more than one perspective, making an analytical-critical inquiry to provide the best possible judgments. It consists in the qualitative use of intelligence to observe, analyze, criticize and judge. And looking at more than one perspective also means: looking morally at reality, and often finalizing on the basis of morality, especially universal morality or universal justice,

    Mechanistic psychometrists confuse rationality with logic, think that morality is relative and that emotion is sentimentalism. Protohumanist psychologists confuse universal morality with the morality of the moment, the common sense, and they contradictly think / were conditioned to think that morality is relative,

    As I have explained before, but it seems that the sage here does not like to read: the basic, simple, trivial example of the capitalist and communist partisan. They are rational sir *

    The first tries to justify all the defects and failures of capitalism, the second tries to justify all the defects and failures of communism. Both do not critically analyze themselves, but yes, they are very good at analyzing the faults of others; they even become fantastic in this ability.

    Self-criticism / intellectual honesty, when one is already gifted to look at the faults of others, is the beginning of rationality.

    If you can not understand, even to accept that rationality is a thing, please do not waste your time writing texts like this.

    At all times and in histrionic, perverse, subconsciously wrong or even purposely wrong ways, leftists are always trying to look at the humanist side and tend to disregard the logical side.

    And it is not because they do it wrong that the initial proposal to ” emphasize on the humanist side ” will find itself totally wrong.

    • Replies: @Hubbub
  6. Sean says:

    A test that autistics do better on; that might measure absence of social intelligence. Kahneman is correct that our minds are not wired to use purely rational processes.

    But they are wired to survive and reproduce, as Thompson notes. In that sense it would be socially logical to act on the assumption that Linda is a feminist. What Kahneman calls irrationality is really an automatic override or governor to stop runaway rational thinking.

  7. Finally a test of rationality really, because it’s a test, a simulation of reality, does not seem very efficient. The ideal even and not only for rationality but especially for it we should analyze the people in real life, where the contexts and the answers are real and not just “correlative.”

    But we could begin to see how people react to politics that tends to encompass a range of moral and intellectual questions of the most diverse orders. I know that extremist leftists and rightist extremists are not the most rational, but I also know that many of their more characteristically extremist ideas are not totally wrong either because they follow it and in fact in the world we are in, the level of rationality Seems to be always higher for the truly oppressed than for the true oppressor, who is almost never quite right, depending on the situation.

    For example, the level of specific rationality in relation to the issue of ‘veganism vs. vegetarianism vs. mega-meat industry’ is much more on the side of vegans and vegetarians than on the side of incurable carnivores, ‘The left’ ‘, although the traditional left has never given any importance to this subject.

    On the other hand, the issue of ‘open door policy vs. immigration restriction’ is much more to the side of those who wish to restrict immigration.

    And whichever is more for the rigorous review and if possible gradual dismantling of this mega-industry of meat and at the same time to restrict immigration, and even use one to justify the other, will be demonstrating greater rationality, at least in relation to these two “contemporary” issues.

    Restricting immigration when it is plentiful and dangerous, and at risk of disrupting the cultural and ethnic integrity of a nation, is more rational than simply believing that we are all equal and that we should accept anyone in our countries. And there are many other reasons for different knowledge (ethics: we can not treat the world as if it were our backyard; sociobiology: species become extinct when their territories are invaded by other species) to be against mass immigration.

    Being against the mega-meat industry that kills billions of nonhuman animals a year in the worst possible way to feed a mega human population that is acting more and more like a metastatic cancer that treats non- Human beings as if they were all equal in personality, not to mention the increasingly exaggerated consumption of meat, if in fact there are no other alternatives to having a healthy diet [please, for a certain someone, I do not want your query], etc. … whether it consists of an ethical or morally correct rationality.

    In fact both are logical and moral at the same time, that is why they are rational,;)

  8. Perhaps I misunderstand the definitions here, so my observation is valueless.

    Nevertheless, in discussions with persons exclusively of IQ 140 and above, questions I think invoke “rationality” hinge on bias.

    To me, if I ask those on the list who favor Open Borders, “What happens if the UN is right and Africa’s population balloons to 4 billion and half of them either starve or emigrate to Europe and North America?” I get endless platitudes and moral condemnation. I deem that irrational, but that’s an opinion.

    The same occurs if I ask a host of simple questions that cluster around hot-button social policies in great debate today. The answers are bimodal, all based entirely on emotional premises and deep-seated biases.

    This is intensely disappointing, but probably predictable. Intelligence as signaled by IQ tests is not able to override one’s beliefs on topics pertaining to someone’s identity. Unfortunately, in my mind it is on these logical strings of probable outcome that rationality is best displayed. The confounding of emotional bias renders such inquiries useless, though.

    For example:
    Population A is associated with a tenfold higher propensity to violent crime than Population B, and crime is prevalent enough that avoidance is seriously prudent. To me, it is utterly rational to “profile” in this environment, and have a higher degree of avoidance behavior when A’s are present vs B’s. To me, it is utterly IRRATIONAL to insist that profiling humans is amoral and thus one should never do it.

    Try having that discussion with someone who imbibes the social justice catechism of today.

    Trying to fashion a bland, emotion-free test of rationality strikes me as a worthless endeavor. I’d rather see tests of rationality that look more like the pass-fail outcomes of Natural Selection, where irrational wildebeests are the lions’ main course while their rational herd-mates continue to propagate the species.

  9. @res

    Interesting article.

    I think delayed gratification (low time preference) has parallels in impulsiveness vs rationality.

    This is important because we now exist in a saturation environment of vice.

    Lysander Spooner defined vice as a self-harming action undertaken with the expectation of happiness. Gambling, alcoholism and drug addiction are obvious examples, but lots of other self-harming behaviors, from chronically toxic interpersonal relationships to video game addiction and pornography also meet the definition.

    As I see it, the impulsive mind very much exists, and does so in opposition to the rational mind.

    The impulsive mind is the SEAT of high time preference and vice, “I want it (a pleasure, a reward) and I want it NOW!” When it is controlling action, the rational mind may well know that these short-term pleasures will be more than offset by later painful consequences, but reason is not in control and there’s inertia of action preventing the rational mind from seizing the reins.

    In today’s terms, the Social Justice Warrior obtains a dopamine high by scaling a metaphorical tower and trumpeting his or her Superior Moral Virtue to the world (or on Facebook, Twitter, etc.), then possibly organizing or joining a Virtual Lynch Mob to have some designated miscreant disemployed or otherwise hounded to the ends of the Earth.

    It’s an addiction. Addiction and reason (rationality) are as far as I can tell immiscible.

    So in sum, I’m not sure how tests of rationality can eliminate impulsivity or be value-neutral vis-a-vis time preference. If rationality is synonymous with low time preference, look out for the screams of disparate impact.

    If IQ is the engine’s horsepower, then other variable talents of self-direction, self-discipline, patience and time preference are the transmission. A car with huge HP and lousy trans will put little of the power to the road and be passed easily by a car with moderate HP and an excellent transmission. This is obvious.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  10. Did Mr. Spock have an amygdala?

    Did his mixed race physiology lack the human limbic system, the seat of emotion in humans (and of the sense of self, for that matter?)

    Interesting questions, given r/K evolutionary reproductive theory. Also makes me wonder if Mr. Spock could have traded stocks. It’s my understanding that both psychology tests and PET scans show that under conditions of uncertainty (like making trading decisions on stocks and investments) people do not make those decisions in the neo-cortex (the seat of reason), but instead make them in the limbic system, the seat of emotion, and a brain structure we share with herding animals.

    If this is so, then there is no relationship whatsoever between rationality and decisions made in areas of pervasive uncertainty. I think this complicates the discussion of the relationship between IQ and rationality.

    Nothing like a timely book, recently published….

  11. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    85% of women will answer 2)

  12. @dc.sunsets

    The problem is not emotion per si it’s their bad use.

  13. @dc.sunsets

    Everyone is addicted with something, the illusion that you need to do something even knowing in the end you will die is the primordial addiction human being usually have. Subsequent illusion is to think because you no have explicit addictions so you are not addicted. Habits is the addiction is slow motion.

    Rationality is the capacity to connect the dots namely those of moral nature but self control is not always perfectly related and specially with intellectual rationality.

    Many times the idealism to always make the balanced choices become conflictive with just live knowing it’s likely you will not have other life to do it.

    Realism is the death of most illusions less the primordial ones.

    The great challenge is to mix the fatalistic realism inevitably will make us more impulsive with self control. Curious, open to experience (fatalistic realism:” You have just a one life to live) but responsible, self controlled.

    The marshmallows test can works with many people to capture the basal levels of rationality but I think higher in openness and or curiosity will make us more impulsive and by existential reasons. Also marshmallows test will works better with children because among adults many rational reasons, I say rational and not just rationalized, can be produced to justify taking the candy immediately for example that “it’s just a test”, or “this candy I can take now because there are many others”, “I don’t know if I will die tomorrow”, and in war scenarios immediatism is more rational than delayed gratification.

    Rationality at certain levels is highly protective but highest levels of rationality tend to be more challenging even because we are talking about new boundaries of human experiences.

  14. The marshmallow test, deferred gratification etc.

    Let me propose a slightly different marshmallow test.

    How well can you impale a marshmallow on a stick (of your own fashioning) and roast it over an open fire to a delicate golden brown on all sides and have it neither fall into the fire nor burst into flames nor become blackened? Ideally it should be cooked all the way through which of course makes it difficult to maintain on the stick which you must do until you can pop it into your mouth which of course, you must not do too hastily because it will blister your tongue.

    A test measuring not merely deferred gratification but the tension of finding the right path between too much and too little–Arete or excellence, the highest virtue for Aristotle.

  15. the reinvention of “g” strikes again!

  16. @dc.sunsets

    I would say that it ultimately has much to do with one’s deeply held values, which is very akin to a cognitive bias. Reading higher IQ liberal works clearly shows that they want a world of perfect equality and recognize any biological or actual inequalities as problems to be solved. The triumph of humanity, from what I can tell, is the maximization of individual whim. As one article notes, the writer deplores the Right for “believing that the maximization of humanity through science, often expressed in science fiction as space colonization and imperialistic expansion of humanity as a purpose of human nature.”

    As such, one could argue that the intelligent liberal is rationally attempting to dismiss all observed differences as a problem, and that his or her purpose of humanity, is to create a completely equal world without any greatness.

    • Agree: 95Theses
    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
    , @Wizard of Oz
  17. @Daniel Chieh

    Another way to say that is that Leftism is simply another subset of the Gnostic Heresy, i.e., an attempt to use the mighty fist of the state in order to eliminate sin and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, AKA Utopia.

    The definition of sin may change, but the sentiment stays the same, as does the intended destination.

    If you’re not familiar with it, I think you’d truly enjoy this blog:

    Posts occur rarely, a couple times a year, but the author does a very nice job dissecting each subject. While I have yet to encounter a dud, this two-part series is among the best on the Internet:

    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
  18. iffen says:

    Linda has a job and is not politically and ideologically active.

    Linda has a job and is politically and ideologically active.

    • Agree: AndrewR
  19. @dc.sunsets

    PS: I also think Angelo Codevilla’s treatise on the Rise of Political Correctness is brilliant.


    Because the point of P.C. is not and has never been merely about any of the items that it imposes, but about the imposition itself. Much less is it about creating a definable common culture or achieving some definable good. On the retail level, it is about the American’s ruling class’s felt need to squeeze the last drops of voter participation out of the Democratic Party’s habitual constituencies. On the wholesale level, it is a war on civilization waged to indulge identity politics.

    How Does This Movie End?

    The imposition of P.C. has no logical end because feeling better about one’s self by confessing other people’s sins, humiliating and hurting them, is an addictive pleasure the appetite for which grows with each satisfaction. The more fault I find in thee, the holier (or, at least, the trendier) I am than thou. The worse you are, the better I am and the more power I should have over you. America’s ruling class seems to have adopted the view that the rest of America should be treated as inmates in reeducation camps.
    My 2010 article for the American Spectator, “The Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution,” argued that “some two-thirds of Americans—a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents—lack a vehicle in electoral politics.” Resentment of the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes with which the ruling class has permeated American life, along with its cultural war enforced by P.C., meant that “Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled.” I noted: “Unfortunately, it is easier for anyone who dislikes a court’s or an official’s unlawful act to counter it with another unlawful one than to draw all parties back to the foundation of truth.”

    That is because a majority of Americans—realizing that the Constitution and the laws have ceased to protect them from unending injuries to their way of life; aggravated by being insulted as “irredemable” and “deplorable” racists, sexists, etc.; eager for relief and, yes, for payback with interest; knowing that the ruling class is closed to argument from those it considers its inferiors—have no option but to turn the tables in the hope that, suffering the same kind of insulting oppression, the ruling class might learn the value of treating others as they themselves like to be treated. More likely, doing this would be one more turn in the spiral of reprisals typical of revolutions. And yet, there seems no way of avoiding this.

    What is to be done with a political system in which no one any longer believes?

  20. dearieme says:

    “in discussions with persons exclusively of IQ 140”: how do you know? I’ve mixed with clever people all my working life, and I’ve never known the IQ of a single one of them.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    , @dc.sunsets
  21. One of the problems about impulsiveness and self control is to blame only or specially the individual namely to be impulsive. Because seems most of “self controlled” people have little self’s to control. For example east Asians versus African sub-Saharans. The first group on avg tend to be hypo-sexually engaged while the second group tend to be the opposite. When you have little to control it’s much more simple to do it than when you have much more.

    East Asians have better self control than African subsaharans or they have less sexual impetus to control than the late??

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    , @dc.sunsets
  22. @dearieme

    I believe that he is a member of an organization such as Mensa where IQ assortment is part of the selection criteria. Thus why he can actually speak to the measured IQ of his conservational partners.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  23. @Santoculto

    Irrelevant to an extent. A followup study found that “self-control” was not simply willpower to resist temptation, and indeed, children who attempted simply to resist thinking about the marshmallow or candy usually failed thanks to the Ironic Process Theory:

    “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.”
    — Fyodor Dostoevsky, Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, 1863[3]

    The ability to resist a temptation was more holistic: children who successfully resisted creatively found ways to distract themselves. They refocused on other aspects, they began singing, or they made up stories that kept them from having to think about marshmallows.

    Not sure what sexual control would have to do with consumption of sweets, either. Or the delay of consumption of one sweet, in order to obtain two.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  24. @dearieme

    It’s the threshold (at least in theory) for the group. Some are also members of higher level groups, too, like the Triple Nine Society (twice as selective as Colloquy.)

    The group and I are parting company, though. I define intellectual rigor as the parry and thrust of defending your positions, they think their group is a little badge you pin on your lapel to tell all those meanies out there how smart you are. (facepalm) It’s an IQ-based group that cannot tolerate frank discussion about IQ. Go figure.

  25. @Santoculto

    I’m assuming English is not your first language. It’s quite challenging to follow your comments. Your comment 21 seems to imply impulsiveness only applies to sex drive?

    Yeah—–I don’t think so. It applies across an entire spectrum of actions, most of them having nothing to do with sex other than sharing the dopamine high.

    This is the basis for the 2-repeat allele MAO-A gene, AKA the misnamed warrior gene, whose relationship to the enzyme responsible for recycling dopamine from synapses is, if I understand correctly, why some people are biochemically, genetically predisposed to higher levels of impulsivity, in this case typified by violence. About 5% of those of African ancestry harbor this condition, while the figure for Caucasians is <0.1%. Asians are an oddball, if I recall correctly, they have the gene but in a way that it doesn't express the same way as when found in Africans.

    We all have big self's to control. Mine is 6'3" and over 200 lbs.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  26. the IQ testing field is littered with the detritus of tests that tried to measure something other than “g” (because their makers figured on a market for something other than ‘g’ – b/c, muh PC feelz!) sternberg’s triarchic, das-naglieri’s planning-attention-simultaneous-sequential, the latter’s prof’s kaufman assessment battery for children (which had lower group mean differences b/c it had lower g-loadings, as shown by Jensen at the time – 1984 or so), gardner’s multiple intell. thing that never got off the ground psychometrically (none of these got too far off the ground psychometrically – even piagetian tasks don’t work psychometrically), emotional intelligence (nice concept, poor execution, only going to correlate with IQ even if EI could be measured). same with rationality. or marshmallow time preference. at best you’ll have something that adds ‘1 or .2 above & beyond what IQ already predicts, & the non-IQ measure will of course correlate with IQ (you’re not going to be retarded/ID AND have gifted level rationality or patience or whatever – IQ & rationality will be correlated – which, doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an outlier here & there – an actual individual who is kind of high on one & low on the other, but for groups -> correlation all the way down, baby!)

    • Replies: @dc.sunsets
  27. @dc.sunsets

    It takes a special type of intelligence to be really, really stupid.

    Also: could you email me at lichdar at gmail com? Thanks.

  28. @Daniel Chieh

    No, you really don’t understand. I’m talking that levels of impulsiveness are correlated with levels of instinctiveness. Higher is your instinct, more difficult to control it.

    And when you are weak in logic [to rational] thinking, or also, in meta cognition, your chances to talk with yourself and choice the better thing to do will be rarer.

    Sexual impulsiveness/instinctiveness is obviously correlated with other impulsiveness levels, because both are impulsiveness levels anyway.

    If you have a chance by creative way to distract yourself against the desire to have something so this also mean you have less instinct to control.

    Of course intelligence and ”self-control’ are correlated and tend to be quite complementar.

    It’s not just coincidence the less self-controllable macro-race be also on avg more sexually-engaged and the more self-controllable human macro-race be also on avg less sexually-engaged…

  29. @dc.sunsets

    Your comment 21 seems to imply impulsiveness only applies to sex drive?


    If you can read my comment directed to Daniel Chieh.

  30. @Santoculto

    Again, if I understand you correctly you believe East Asians would be less interested in sex and less impulsive overall?

    Not from what I’ve seen, but I don’t get out that much. If I’m informed correctly, it seems the Japanese invented some pretty whacked out pornography (which I consider an apex vice.) (shudder)

    Not to mention that the Chinese don’t have any problem at all making more Chinese.

    I do think there’s a correlation between intelligence (g) and self-control, but it’s far from 1.0 because the correlation between life success and g is positive but far from 1.0

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  31. @egregious philbin

    What’s the difference between being retarded and believing that environment, not heredity, governs intelligence?

    Lots of high IQ people believe this…irrationally.

  32. dearieme says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Thanks. I’ve never heard Mensa mentioned among the clever people I’ve known. There could be many different reasons for that, of course.

  33. dearieme says:

    Thanks for the explanation. It’s a pity that you’ve not enjoyed it more.

  34. @Santoculto

    “Instinct” is really just something is way too broad to be of much meaning here. You’re referring to what is called executive function; executive function is vaguely related to intelligence, usually in a positive way, but not always.

    I don’t know if executive function is related to sexual desire per se. I can see the mechanism, but its a bit of a jump, to be honest. Sure, you could claim that the frontal lobe is using more “energy” to shut down an active limbic system of emotions, but its just as likely that the frontal lobe is not as efficient in someone with a lowered executive function.

    If directly true, women who have significantly more active limbic systems would have much less executive functioning. Casual smell test dismisses that – women are not to my knowledge that much more vulnerable to instant gratification.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  35. @dc.sunsets


    masturbate is different than ”do it”.

    Not to mention that the Chinese don’t have any problem at all making more Chinese.

    Yes, in absolute or in proportional term*

    In the past have bigger families in Asia was common but this still don’t mean they were different than today.

  36. @Daniel Chieh

    I’m using a narrow concept of instinct here.

    I don’t know where your comment is going, please refute my points first and don’t create new points before reply my points.

  37. utu says:

    Rational person does not do answers questions concocted by Kahneman or anybody else unless there is money in it.

    • Replies: @Utuu
  38. I’m not saying east Asians have no sexual desire. I’m saying they tend to have less sexual desire than for example African sub-Saharans. I also believe there are differences within macro races for example southern Europeans versus northern Europeans. Of course I’m talking about avg’s. It’s not a offense. I’m arguing that if you born hyper sexualized or with great probabilities to become like that and even have a logical healthy and empirical mind you will have more difficulties to control your sexual or other desires, of course case by case. So part of this equation may can be explained like that, again: “when you have less strong desires it’s more easy to control yourself even if you no have greater motivation, for example, for orderness/consciousness”. Today pornography become common place in many east Asian countries. Instead the epidemic rates of rape as happen in many African nations namely in South Africa, east Asian men tend to be satisfied with pornography. Highest levels of sexual desire in man or in woman make them search for real sex because for them pornography is not enough. This explain also “nerd flappery”: Higher (mean) cognitive intelligence and yes, sexual desire, not great enough to make them sexual maniacs.

  39. I am sympathetic to the authors’ premise. I am pretty certain i am at least breaking out of the single digits on the iq curve. Yet as i take stock of 3 decades plus of adult life i can only conclude i never had a damned lick of sense. Why have i remained married to same woman and same employer in all these years. I should have grabbed life by the marshmallows. Gather ye mallows while ye may…

    Rational minds would repudiate a proffered marshmallow as unhealthy processsed food likely replete with gmo. ingredients

  40. I have explained all this before, and will probably keep explaining it for ever, because many people, discouraged by clear evidence of their palpably limited intellects…

    I used to be discouraged by my own palpably limited intellect until I learned that we are all guilty as charged.

    Besides that, we’re all assholes most of the time and mostly irrational as well.

    Ain’t Gawd great?

    • Replies: @Utuu
  41. mp says:

    Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy.

    In that case, a few questions:

    1) Did Linda take a year of formal logic, and can she translate ordinary English into logical schemata?

    2) Can Linda discuss the basis of the first Critique’s notion of Transcendental Aesthetic, and how the author supports his arguments for establishing synthetic apriori propositions?

    3) Can Linda discuss the basis for Hobbes’ reasons why men leaving the state of nature and joining the artificial commonwealth must necessarily give up their Right of Nature to the sovereign?

    4) Can Linda discuss the effects of patriarchal oppression and the aesthetics of yoga pants?

    If the answer is limited to 4, she might be a bank teller. Or holds a position in HR monitoring the company’s AA plan. Probably has a few cats, and likely wears a knitted pink pussy cap to anti-Trump demonstrations on the weekends.

  42. AndrewR says:

    The ability to filter out irrelevant information is an important aspect of applied intelligence, as is the ability to be cautious in the application of stereotypes, as is the ability to exercise caution in general, as is the ability to see through deception.

    The Linda question may be “unfair,” but life is unfair.

    I imagine that incorrect responses on the Linda question correlate with any number of undesirable life outcomes.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  43. ”I have explained all this before, and will probably keep explaining it for ever, because many people, discouraged by clear evidence of their palpably limited intellects…”

    I would not comment this humorous part but sir Thomp can’t avoid congratulate himself because he is capable to wrote ”academically” boring articles where a bunch of self-congratulous geniuses over-sophisticate psychological subjects [complicate what, seems, is more simple to understand] instead try to understand it in more practical and objective ways.

    ”For ever”


    No doubt, aging don’t make none wiser, period.

    No there emotional or multiple intelligences… because there is only one intelligence, a semantic stuff, to start…

    I also agree that there is only one personality model, and we have a diversity of uneven intensities and individual combinations of this behavioral responses/intensities.

    We have a model: everyone have levels of extroversion, neuroticism, psychoticism and openess.

    We have a avg type (most common type): in USA on avg people are moderately extraverted, neurotic, psychoticist and open-minded.

    We have a diversity or variation of this avg type based on model: some people in USA are more extraverted, less neurotic, less psychoticist and more open-minded.; other people are like that…etc

    We have a refferencial self-evident model for cognition: everyone have verbal, spatial, arythmetic and memory skills. And we have a avg type: most gentiles in France have symmetric cognitive profiles. And we have a diversity of variation of this avg type.

    And we have a combination of this two variables: avg americans are moderately smart on verbal, arryth and spatial as well in psychological traits. …

    We have a refferencial composite of human intelligence call G. We have avg or predominant type of human intelligence, ”the normal” and we have a variation from this avg type.

    Of course intelligence is only one, but as happen with all traits, intelligence varies in their composites. And true intelligence is a combination between psychological and cognitive traits, because they are all the time interacting one each other.

    If personality (the mean of temperament throughout the time) and intelligence have the same structural or system model but both varies, evidently, so why say ”there are many types of personality… but no there many types of intelligence”**

    be coerent.

  44. mcs_in_ny says:

    Ah, the importance of one little conjunction! People get the Linda question wrong because they ignore the “and”, which creates the dependence of answer 2 upon answer 1. Since 2 implies 1, but not the reverse, logic dictates that 1 is more probable. Change the “and” to “or” and break the dependency, and 2 is the correct answer. This is not a test of rationality, but of reading comprehension.

    • Replies: @map
  45. alexander says:

    Dear Mr. Thompson,

    The most “rational” answer to the Linda Query is neither of the above.

    There is no way to make a rational determination she is a bank teller on the basis of the information provided.

    It is irrational from the get go, to hazard an answer.

    It might be more “rational” on the basis of the paragraph describing her, to assume she might be a ‘feminist” but not a bank teller.

    But this, too, would be an irrational “guess” .

    The description of her predilection for human rights and social justice issues , as a student, is absent all qualifying references.. .

    We do not know , for example, if her passion for “human rights” had led her to embrace “right to life” issues over feminist concerns, or vice versa.

    So there is very “little probability” on the basis of her “description” that she is either a bank teller or a “feminist” bank teller.

    There is equal “probability” she could be a chiropractor, a waitress, or a kindergarten teacher, for all we know.

    It seems almost supremely irrational to ask the question in the first place.

    And even more “irrational” to demand a “probability” response of either A. or B.

    • Replies: @another fred
  46. The Harvard Business Review seems to believe in the concept of Emotional Intelligence, at least when it comes to scaring people about AI:

  47. Anonymous [AKA "Nomer"] says:

    Sorry Alexander,

    No one lives life like that. You assign probabilities to people everyday, even if it is irrational. Categorization is one of the big sub-components of intelligence. The ability to abstract traits and infer relationships requires one to make fundamental assumptions about the nature of individuals.

    How many people have one encountered people of a certain sub-type of archetype and have such related interests? How much does one overrepresent / are overconfident in their answer?

    This is a classic case of IBM Watson querying into a database and finding relational datapoints that add up to support as evidence.

    Sure, she can be A / B / C / D profession. The question however begs only two choices, given a prior assumption that she can only be either from the perspective of the person understanding the question. Most questions have a framing bias where people ignore the syntactical logic and use implicit cues to quickly assess what the person is asking. People don’t understand things in terms of A and NOT B but C if D syllogically.

    • Replies: @alexander
  48. iffen says:

    Bank teller is irrelevant.

    People who are politically active in college are more likely to be politically active later in life over people who were not politically active in college.

    n is more likely that n + x only if n is random

    n is not random

    Linda is not a random person who went to college; she is not a random bank teller.

  49. alexander says:

    Hi Nomer,

    You can be sorry all you wish…but nothing in the argument you just made , is persuasive, at all.

    On the basis of the “Linda description ” provided, how is it possible to determine the probability she is a bank teller ?

    Or, for that matter, that she is a “feminist” bank teller ?

    As opposed to anything else ?

    There is no probability.

    There is nothing in the “description” to remove the arbitrariness inherent in the question, or the “irrationality” of the inquiry.

    The “probability” that Linda is a “bank teller”, as opposed to a “feminist” bank teller , on the basis of her description, does not seem to exist.

    The correct answer, from a “rational” perspective, is none of the above, and its is even more “irrational” this answer is not provided.

    If you think otherwise then perhaps you are trapped in a very irrational, arbitrary lesson on “rational” thinking and “probabilities”.LOL

    Perhaps the rational thing to do, would be to simply ask Linda herself, and not speculate ?

    If you wish to persuade me otherwise, I am all ears, but your last comment was not successful.


  50. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    PewDiePie’s Media Contrived Anti-Semitism

  51. Rationality is the REAL universal morality. Universal morality is nothing to do with forced egalitarian dogmas. It’s universal because it’s based on what is proportionally right or wrong whatever space and time and just about attitudes but also about thinking. So egalitarian dogmas are already incompatible with universal morality or the “science” of good behavior.

  52. pyrrhus says:

    The whole Kahneman-Twersky school of gotcha questions is an amusing parlor game. What it demonstrates is that our brains take shortcuts that frequently don’t track formal logic, which is most likely a beneficial “fast thinking” evolutionary development. A more interesting question, which I don’t think they have explored, is why excellent scientists in one field disregard scientific findings in another field (e.g. HBD) for emotional reasons….

  53. @dc.sunsets

    It’s the threshold (at least in theory) for the group. Some are also members of higher level groups, too, like the Triple Nine Society (twice as selective as Colloquy.)

    Hey DC,

    If you’re still reading this thread I would like to point something out, as you’ve inspired me to share a bit of personal info. According to my ACT and SAT scores, I actually cleared the hurdles to join the Triple Nine Society, and pretty respectably I might add (ACT 35, combined SAT 1560). I also have what many would consider to be a poor life outcome. For example, at my current age of 36, I’ve been gainfully employed in a steady job for the first time in my life for only the last 2.5 years or so, I have never worked in a profession that actually requires a college degree, am unmarried, have difficulty with relationships, etc.

    I attribute this mainly to my horribly abusive childhood and to the general corrosion of the culture which now fails to properly identify and place people on appropriate life tracks or to uphold beneficial moral and behavioral norms.

    Fortunately for me, I did not end up as an addict, a career criminal, or a total washout. I am reflective enough to understand my situation and strong-willed enough to force myself to acquire better habits. but it’s an exhausting way to go through life and, of course, I am daily plagued by painful reminders of what might have been.

    I wish some of these “intelligence researchers” would just interview me and give me some room to expound. I think I could enlighten them on a few scores.

  54. @Intelligent Dasein

    well, what is success? money? it is the only metric most people use these days. money might alleviate your daily painful reminders? once you are secure financially, the pressure will be gone and you can enjoy life.

  55. @AndrewR

    Define and exemplify relevant information.

    Based on your definition of intelligence many smarter ones will be stupid.

    • Replies: @AndrewR
  56. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Rationality is merely a logical system.

    One can be rational with falsehoods. What really matters is the premise based on empirical truth.

    A white world without culture of reason is still a white world.
    A white world with culture of reason but with tons of non-whites will no longer be white.

    Should one choose white world with unreason or un-white world with reason?
    What use is reason if whites lose their own world? THAT is the crucial question.


    While many on the ‘right’ worry about Mooslims, here’s a much bigger danger that people dare not address because our Neo-religions revolve around the cult of MLK and Mandela and other Magic Negroes and because of worship of Negroes in sports and music.

    France has allowed in lots of black Africans. Blacks are more muscular, stronger, and more aggressive. They routinely beat up and prey on weaker whites. They not only dominate French sports but take over streets and beat up & rob white people.
    We see the same patterns in Australia. And just like blacks attack and rob not only whites but other non-black groups in America, they do the SAME thing in Europe.

    Because of the spiritual-and-sensual fetish for the black in the West, white folks will not confront the true nature of the threat posed by blacks. They just go on and on about Mooslims. But Mooslims didn’t fill white minds with suicidal PC. Whites did it to themselves.

    Of course, while black guys are kicking white boys’ butts as in the video above, white girls are turned on by Negro power and want to have black babies since they look upon white males as losers. Long ago, whites did everything to suppress Jack-Johnsonism because they correctly saw it as a threat to white males and white civilization. They instinctively realized that races are not equal, and that social equality would lead to black boys whupping white boys AND white girls going with winner negroes and feeling contempt for loser whites. Thus, white civilization would fall because NO civilization can survive if the women lose respect for their men.

    Anyway, when we consider the combination of African birthrates and African immigration to France, it looks like the goose is cooked.

    But the main obsession of the West is worshiping homos and trannies along with Negroes.

  57. RobinG says:

    ” I define intellectual rigor…..”

    Sheesh, enough with the pompous posturing! I might have fallen for it, but then you made the very, very, incredibly stupid wildebeest analogy. ” (facepalm)” NOT. I don’t do that. But I won’t be giving you my email.

  58. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    The Linda question is idiotic.

    Linda is supposed to be very bright and well educated but at 31, without the distractions of married life, she has achieved nothing better than the status of “bank teller,” median annual income: $24,921.

    Really? I mean how bright can she really be?

    And she’s supposed to be mad about equality, which we’re supposed to infer means she’s mad about male:female equality, i.e., that she’s a feminist, although a philosopher of any ability would obviously see that to be a stupid inference.

    And not only are we supposed to infer, on totally stupid grounds, that she’s a feminist, but that as a feminist she’s taken a low-paid job in a female dominated profession.

    Christ if she has any goddam brains at all and is intent on equality between the sexes, why the Hell is she not a logger or power-line repairman, both occupations being much better paid with lots of overtime, rather than a bank teller, a wimpy woman’s indoor job?

    The only thing one can infer from the Linda question is how stupid these IQ hounds really are.

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  59. Agent76 says:

    Nov 9, 2010 Public “Education” has become indoctrination and distraction

    People are not being educated they’re being tested for levels of obedience. School is about memorizing what you are told short term and repeating it. The bulk of how you are graded is by completely daily busy work. This is for the work force the most important quality in a worker bee actually is obedience.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  60. AndrewR says:

    In the Linda question, everything in the description was irrelevant.

    The question boils down to:

    Which is more likely:

    1) Linda does thing A

    2) Linda does thing A and thing B

    • Agree: Wizard of Oz
    • Replies: @Santoculto
  61. Art says:

    There are different parts of the brain – every human brain has different strengths and weaknesses.

    Being logical and being rational happen in different parts of the brain. Being rational is in large part being in control of one’s emotions. One could say that “being rational” is having your logical brain guiding your emotional brain. Be rational is trusting what your logical brain tells you. Clearly it does not take a high IQ to be rational.

    Trump is a very smart man – but he is not in logical control of his rational emotional “brain parts” when it comes to crowd size or huge electrical collage totals.

    Measuring intelligence and rationality is like trying to measure apples to oranges.

    In my opinion, measuring rationality is about measuring the emotional maturation of the individual.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  62. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Public “Education” has become indoctrination and distraction.

    Absolutely. Moreover, it has become so, as the inevitable result of universal higher education, as I explained at length here. It is the conclusive verification of the prediction made long ago by the English novelist, wartime spy, journalist, editor, humorist, novelist, and TV personality, the late Malcolm Muggeridge, that when everyone has a university degree, no one will know anything at all.

    Sorry for the syntactical botch of the penultimate paragraph of my comment at (50) above, which was the result of an insufficiency both of IQ and of time for review and revision.

    • Replies: @Agent76
  63. @alexander

    There is no way to make a rational determination she is a bank teller on the basis of the information provided.

    The point is that out of the entire population of bank tellers there would probably be some, at least one, non-feminist(s), therefore the population of bank tellers is larger and given that there is a binary choice on offer it is more probable that #1 is correct.

    • Replies: @alexander
  64. @Intelligent Dasein

    I attribute this mainly to my horribly abusive childhood and to the general corrosion of the culture which now fails to properly identify and place people on appropriate life tracks or to uphold beneficial moral and behavioral norms.

    If you will excuse my 2 cents worth:

    I had my share of trauma coming up (though I would not call it “horribly abusive” one shrink did) and was past 30 when I finally got my degree. I’m 70 years old and sat in a college classroom taking credited courses as recently as 10 years ago. I’m enrolled in online credit courses now to maintain my marketability.

    That you have overcome the abuse speaks well of you, but the sooner you forget about what the culture does or does not do the better off you will be.

    I agree that it would be better to test and qualify people more like the Germans do, but there are millions of other people who don’t want to diminish opportunities for those who do not qualify on tests. So it goes.

    Root, hog, or die – that’s all that matters.

    • Replies: @another fred
  65. @another fred

    the sooner you forget about what the culture does or does not do the better off you will be.

    That is not to say you should not concern yourself with cultural penalties and such that actually impact your life.

  66. Alden says:

    The most important thing about Linda was left out. What is her race?

    If she is White she could not possibly be a bank teller in California. California bank tellers are exclusively affirmative action and immigrant.

    Many banks hire people with BAs as entry level tellers and quickly promote them to assist. managers and loan officers.

  67. @Daniel Chieh

    Something you wrote made me infer that you are part of Australia’s gift from East Asia of IQ points to make up for our 110 years of dysgenics, 30 years behind the Mother Country as we were in most things cultural till the 1980s…. So I am distressed to find you using the word “liberal” in the perverted American sense. My ancestors’ less educated contemporaries didn’t run a White Australia Policy for so many years till Australia and Australians were fit to welcome the brains and energy of Asia only to be reoriented to the linguistic and cultural ways of a declining US 🙂

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  68. @Santoculto

    No, you really don’t understand. I’m talking that levels of impulsiveness are correlated with levels of instinctiveness. Higher is your instinct, more difficult to control it.

    You might find research on tachykinins interesting.

    There is a lot more than just this article. These peptides are “highly conserved”, which means that they (or analogs) permeate many different lines of organisms – from insects to humans that we know of. “Substance P” is a human analog associated with aggression.

    Tachykinin might be loosely translated as “fast twitch”, a type of muscle that favors certain athletes.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  69. @AndrewR

    The ability to filter out irrelevant information is an important aspect of applied intelligence

    Yes i’m talking about the question but what you said/wrote here above.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  70. @Art

    Rationality is the application of logic EVEN in affective or emotional-centric situations. Most scientists are logical because they tend to apply at minimally and over-specialized way the logic in impersonal questions or situations, but when they are analysing social/emotional or affective situations, they, mostly men, cognitively and psychologically masculine (autistic-esque) will under-apply logic because they believe that ”heart” and ”brain” are mutually excludent.

    And similar thing happen but in the opposite path to the women. Women apply logic in emotional or affective questions or situations BUT not always or at constant and minimally precise way as men usually do in ”cognitive” ones. Women appear less logical than men because they tend to loose the important aspect of reality: the reality itself, whatever their feelings, while men tend to loose the secondary and complementar aspect of reality: the world of the feelings, becoming usually behaviorally or socially irrational.

    For example, men can understand naturally better the facts, also because their normatively typical mind will be likely to suppress the emotional side. But to behave well men tend to be less cautious specially to deal with other people, less sensitive, less nuanced. Women can understand better emotional or affective facts, for example, it’s not behaviorally correct/factual hurt other person. Indeed without men i think multiculturalism would more likely to work better because women are less explicitly violent, more empathetic and socially smart.

    So when the qualities of the man and qualities of the woman come together rationality and wisdom become a real possibility. Unfortunately sexually ambiguous men and women tend to mix more the defects or weaknesses of both sexes than their qualities.

  71. @Santoculto

    I’m NOT talking about the question…

  72. Agent76 says:

    If you go even further back into the 1800’s you really get at the root and the beginnings of the Progressive era and its goals.

    The Origins of the American Public Education System Horace Mann & the Prussian Model of Obedience

    In the 1830’s, American Lawmaker Horace Mann visited Prussia and researched its education methodology. He was infatuated with the emperor’s method of eliminating free thought from his subjects and designed an education system for Massachusetts directly based on these concepts. The movement then quickly spread nationally.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  73. J1234 says:

    Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable?
    1. Linda is a bank teller.
    2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

    Larry is 41 years old, single, introverted, and very bright. He majored in philosophy. As a middle school student, he tortured small animals to death. Which is more probable?
    1. Larry is a bank teller.
    2. Larry is a bank teller and a potential serial killer.

    Well, #1 is still more probable, but the people who go with #1 might make pretty lousy homicide detectives.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  74. @another fred

    RECENTLY DEVELOPED powerful, yet also delicate and refined, genetic tools can inva­sively probe nervous systems of animals, far surpassing the safer but much cruder techniques that psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists use to observe the human brain. Now in a remarkable series of experiments, researchers have located a trigger for aggression in mice—providing us with fresh insights into the workings of our human consciousness.


    i’m nervous now, lol, but by RATIONAL reasons, 😉

    Thank you for the link!

  75. alexander says:
    @another fred

    But is that the point, Fred ?

    We are given a short paragraph that describes Linda in broad strokes…..Correct ?

    Then we are asked the question of the “probability” that she is ….A. a bank teller,…. or B. a “feminist ” bank teller.

    There is no way to determine from the paragraph the probability she “might” be a bank teller….so there is, equally, no way to determine if she is a “feminist bank teller”.

    For the question to be “rational”…and not arbitrary… would be phrased in a way to ask that if Linda WERE, indeed, a “bank teller”, might she be a “feminist” one ?

    This is a much more “rational” question…..but even so, not by much.

    What we have been presented with is both arbitrary and irrational.

    It is almost ironic this “query” would function as the preface within an essay on “rational thought”…It seems like a ” joke” on the readers….Doesn’t it ?

    But…. while we are at it….. do you want to here something funnier, Fred ?

    I was married to my first wife for over eighteen years.

    She was both a “feminist” and a “bank teller”…..I kid you not.

    She also studied “philosophy” in college, and was concerned with social justice issues.

    All true.

    But she never became a “bank teller” because she graduated from “college”, studied philosophy, was a “feminist”, or cared about “social justice”.

    She became a bank teller, because she had BEEN a bank teller, during the summers she was in High School….and since it was the easiest “paying job” for her to get, once we were fresh out of college…she took it…to make a little money..and get a few benefits.

    We were both “starving artists” fresh out of college…so we both took the best jobs we could find….to make some dough… I believe I took a job delivering meats in a refrigerator van…to restaurants in my area …..And I had studied Nietzsche, Plato and Rousseau in college…until I was blue in the face.

    The question in the “Linda Query” is wholly arbitrary, and quite “irrational”… in my book.

    The fact there are some people who don’t think so…is quite strange.

    At least to me.

    And , hey, I was married to a “feminist” “bank teller”.

  76. @Intelligent Dasein

    wwebd guest on rachmaninoff said – I did not take the SAT because, at the age of 16, I was not about to suck up to the PC powers that be and their little testing games – but 1560 is pretty good for those people in this world who are willing to submit to the SAT guys. Things worked out for me because I was lucky enough to wind up working along with people who saw through the SAT nonsense (Thanks N.S. ! You knew what I was doing when I stepped off the elevator with my friend!) That being said, almost all really intelligent people have really intelligent parents, which would seem a good thing, but it is usually not – it is remarkably fun to be intelligent — (I have never said that in those words before, but it is true – I would not, for example, give up one percent of my intellectual acumen for any reward in this world – being a champion athlete, being the highest SMV person in the world, and even (probably) being a great Naval Admiral in an age of great Naval Admirals) — and one thing I know in 2017 that I wish I had known in 1977 is that intelligent people are not kind to their children, as a general rule, and the fault lies with the parents, not the children. No big deal —the love of God suffices for the least of us, every single time!!!! They (the high-IQ ignoramuses, even the ones with many offspring) are having too much fun playing their games of great intelligence! Best advice to children of almost-geniuses – step away from the bong (Lincecum), remember that your friends at the bar are not always your friend the next morning (Behan) – anything more than a half bottle of wine or a quarter bottle of good Scotch a night is self-indulgence (poor poor Waugh and Fitzgerald, just to stick with the prosateurs), and remember that many of the people we feel sorry for and enjoy being with are the sort of people the Book of Proverbs warned us against. Good luck, my friend. Lighten up on the criticisms of Jews – God loves Jews and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with that — and double down on your criticisms of our humdrum celebrity evolutionists (like you, I know what DNA is – a simple tool, not some weird predictive horse-race betting sheet); and remember that many many people are praying for those of us (hopefully including you some day) who know what is going on in this world . Also, please do not reply to this post unless you are sober. Thank you. Oremus invicem. I was wrong about Bolt. It was just a guess, anyway. I was right about Tebow.

    • Replies: @Jacobite
  77. wwebd guest on rachmaninoff said: also for the record – Eckhart then Schelling then Schopenhauer then Kant (urs von Balthasar can explain) and several places later, poor little Nietzsche. Sophocles got better as he got older – an insight Nietzsche did not live long enough to understand. Well, philologists back then did not hold themselves up to the highest standards. Only among friends are there no ranks (Don Colacho – tan solo entre amigos non hay rangos); 19th century continental philology was not a hotbed of friendship. Sad!

  78. @alexander

    We are given a short paragraph that describes Linda in broad strokes…..Correct ?

    The question in the “Linda Query” is wholly arbitrary, and quite “irrational”… in my book.

    I think it was intentionally misleading. As Dr. Thompson wrote, it is of questionable validity but logically correct.

    Rational? Who knows.

  79. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Despite what is claimed in the video you present, the fact is that Germany, the United States and Britain had, during the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the twentieth century, the most productive economies and and the most creative scientific communities in the world, so there must have been something right about their so-called Prussian system of education.

    In fact, as I experienced it at an English grammar school in the 1950’s, I would say it was a remarkably sound system: the curriculum was broad, including the sciences, with real labs from the age of eleven up, several languages, English, history, geography, religion and how to use a rifle with bayonet mounted. The work entailed plenty or reading, writing, analysis and composition. There was strict discipline and no hesitation to applaud success and stigmatizing failure. A very different system from that which seems to prevail today.

  80. @Wizard of Oz

    Alas, I have to speak the most common language of the world, which is of course American. This includes their weird and perverted redefinitions of what was once noble concepts. I feel today, Voltaire would be with us, despite his hate of the Church – for the new Church is the progressive orthodoxy that refuses all criticism as heresy.

  81. @alexander

    I think you need the context of the original Linda question in order to understand the point of the discussion. Try Michael Lewis’s “The Undoing Project” (mostly) about Kahneman and Tversky and their work. It’s a charactetistically good read from Michael Lewis anyway.

  82. @CanSpeccy

    I think you are misconceiving the question’s provenance. Nothing to do with “IQ hounds” I think but more to do with the distortions of our thinking which help to make nonsense of the Efficient Market Hypothesis and explain irrational exuberance, Minsky
    moments etc. See #81

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
    , @CanSpeccy
  83. mcohen says:

    single outspoken bright and a bank teller =split personality

    married introvert dim and a rock star musician=split personality

    no shortage of examples here.this is a deliberate state of the human condition that produces irrational cannot exist without the other.

    from this state comes a unique narrow form of higher intelligence.

    looking at the 2 questions from this perspective the answer is neither

    ernest hemingway,s book “the old man and the sea” is a good example

  84. Utuu says:

    because many people, discouraged by clear evidence of their palpably limited intellects, would like a Get Out of Jail card from Multiple Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Practical Intelligence and now, Rational Intelligence.

    Big flashing neon sign pointing to Utu

  85. Utuu says:
    @jacques sheete

    You beat me too it!

    The intellectually limited can demonstrate flashes of self reflection at times. Similar to simians recognizing their reflection.

    I enjoyed you verbal elocution or excuse me, I meant your oral ejaculation when insemeninating wisdom to the molasses online. I offer the following as an example of your masterbal reasoning abilities,

  86. The bigger difference between geniuses-like or “really’ smart people (even don’t have a great insights) versus generic smarter people is that the first know how to use their intelligence while the late usually don’t know and I’m not talking about “use intelligence ‘to adapt’”: Have a good job, a beautiful wife, etc, even because many times other important factors affect this “capacity to adapt” for example most people who have a good job already have facilities for example have above avg cognitive skills and the system want it. Or, women don’t choice men only by physical appearance and even less by real intelligence levels. I’m talking about analytical critical skills or intellectual ones. Geniuses-like learn how to use their intelligences, to organize, emphasize and direct it.

    Just like the self awareness of their intelligences.

  87. Worse, only 6/20 rationality sub-tests correlate strongly with the rationality total, and all are IQ related

    Most things correlated with IQ because it’s broad but it’s not enough…

  88. RobRich says: • Website

    Kahneman and Tversky are in fact irrational with their bizarre take on rationality.

    If a 49% of Lindas are just tellers it’s still the case that Linda is likely a teller plus feminist based on the data given, let alone a mere one as they claim.

    You see this all the time in social science–the left paradigm is assumed ‘rational’ and they then set out to explain the irrationality of common sense.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  89. The Linda question reminds me of first semester law school instructions on writing a case brief. Eliminate all the b.s. and stick to the simple and relevant facts. Linda is 31, single, and therefore needs a job to put food on the table and a roof over her head, and to pay off those student loans. The rest of the facts are just noise that could go in a thousand different directions, feminism being just one of them.

  90. @RobRich

    Are you assuming or implying when you hypothesise 49 per cent of Lindas being just tellers that 51 per cent are tellers who are feminists?

  91. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Wizard of Oz

    Kahneman and Tversky may not have been IQ hounds but James Thomson asks whether the aspect of judgement that the Linda question raises should be considered as something missing from the assessment of intelligence. So the question is clearly of interest to the IQ hounds.

    Incidentally, I don’t think the correct answer to the Linda question is so clear as Kahneman and Tversky assumed. Consider this variant:

    Linda, aged 64, weighs 284 lbs, is professional wrestler, a former world female weight lifting champion, and a lesbian.

    Which is most probable,

    1. Linda is a night club bouncer

    2. Linda is a night club bouncer who smells bad.

    Obviously any rational person will chose 2. Why? Because it’s more probable, so most people would think, that a person as Linda is described would smell bad than that she wouldn’t.

    The stuff about disjuncts is just bunct. What we’re trying to understand is what is Linda like. Both 1. and 2. tell us she’s a bouncer, so there’s no difference in probability between the two on that score. However, 2. states something about Linda we think can be inferred from what we’ve been told about her. We assume, therefore, that 2. is more likely to be correct than 1., which we take to mean that Linda does not smell bad.

    In other words, what the brain does is try and tell us something about reality, and screw formal logic, which rarely gets us anywhere — just look where it got people like Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

    (With apologies to all professional wrestling, weight lifting, female night club bouncers who smell great).

  92. pyrrhus says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    You have my sympathy, and you are not alone….I don’t think anyone can reasonably doubt that emotional stability, and good nurture, or at least an absence of abuse, can have a serious effect on outcomes. (well, maybe JayMan disputes it) Emotional stability improves functioning in many ways, though it doesn’t increase your native intelligence, which in your case is obviously outstanding.
    My advice, try to meet a lot of good people, whether they are counselors or not, one of them may be a healer.

    • Replies: @anonymous reply
  93. @J1234

    Yes. Lovely example. Thanks.

    • Agree: Wizard of Oz
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  94. @pyrrhus

    Pyrrhus, that was a much much better reply than mine (than my two replies). I would simply add that if one goes the counselor route one should avoid at all costs anybody who seems even a little smug.

  95. Art says:

    Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable?
    1. Linda is a bank teller.
    2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

    100% Linda is a bank teller. The question is “is she part of the active feminist movement?”

    Given that she is 31, unmarried, and only a teller – and given the state of our elitist collage educated culture – one must think that she is a loser in life and an angry activist feminist.

    On the other hand, any woman who majors in philosophy has to be interesting. She being anti-discrimination and anti-nuke is normal for a collage age rational person – that is a positive sign of character. The facts presented do not include selfish hateful feminist activity. Being collage educated, 31, and unmarried is very normal in today’s culture.

    The facts presented are inconclusive. It is a poor selection, but the rational choice is “1.”

    Defining Linda as a feminist requires a set of precise attributes – a definition of something requires a prescribed set of properties. The properties of “activist feminist” are not totally provided in the proffered facts.

    Peace — Art

  96. FKA Max says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is quite common for very high-IQ individuals to struggle financially, etc.:

    Do you have to be smart to be rich? The impact of IQ on wealth, income and financial distress
    Jay L. Zagorsky

    How important is intelligence to financial success? Using the NLSY79, which tracks a large group of young U.S. baby boomers, this research shows that each point increase in IQ test scores raises income by between $234 and $616 per year after holding a variety of factors constant. Regression results suggest no statistically distinguishable relationship between IQ scores and wealth. Financial distress, such as problems paying bills, going bankrupt or reaching credit card limits, is related to IQ scores not linearly but instead in a quadratic relationship. This means higher IQ scores sometimes increase the probability of being in financial difficulty.

    This is an interesting article which interviewed Michael Woodley of Menie, whose research was the subject of a recent Unz Review article:

    Dr Woodley believes geniuses are “literally not hardwired to be able to learn those kind of tasks. Every time they attempt to allocate the effort into dealing with the mundanities in life they’re constitutionally resisted; their brains are not capable of processing things at that low level.”

    Genius, Dr Woodley says, can be found in people with modestly high levels of psychoticism [often typified by interpersonal hostility] and very high intelligence, with IQs scores of more than 140 or 150. Furthermore they are, he says, often asexual as their brains use the space allocated to urges such as sexual desire for additional cognitive ability. “You have a trade off between what Freud would have referred to as libido and on the other hand pure abstraction: a Platonistic world of ideas,” he said.

    Psychological and Social Disorders of High IQ

    Published on Feb 24, 2013

    “Psychological and Social Disorders of High IQ,” Jennifer Carl, Valencia College
    While it is easy to assume someone’s psychological well-being, it is often masked by a crucial factor: IQ. People outside the normal IQ range often face unique psychological and psycho-social disorders. Individuals with higher IQs usually exhibit certain characteristics that are many times overlooked. Here we will discuss this side of the spectrum and many adversities these individuals must overcome in society and within themselves.

    Presented at Florida Collegiate Honors Council 2013

  97. Jacobite says:
    @anonymous reply

    I’d spread that 6+ ounces of whisky over the course of the entire day if I were you.

    • Replies: @anonymous reply
  98. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Wizard of Oz

    More explicitly, the Linda question asks people whose understanding of language depends on inductive inference, i.e., normal people, to evaluate statements as if they were taking an exam in formal logic, but without telling them that they are taking an exam in formal logic. Moreover, material is provided that is relevant to a common sense analysis, but irrelevant to a formal logical analysis.

    The Linda question is, in other words, a trick question. And a silly one at that.

    Consider: there is no connection whatever between the prolegamenon and the statements that follow it. The introductory material is included solely to mislead. It is there to elicit the false assumption (in the view of the questioner) that it is the basis for assessing the Statements 1. and 2.

    But assessing propositions on the basis of whatever related information we may have is how the human mind normally functions, which is to say how it functions when it is serving as an adaptive mechanism to keep the human organism alive and well.

    Moreover, in assessing the relative probability of Statements 1. and 2., the mind naturally focuses on the difference between the two, i.e., the question: is Linda a feminist or not?

    That Statement 1. does not explicitly assert that Linda is not a feminist does not invalidate this common sense assessment, because common speech is not intended to conform to the requirements of formal logical analysis and is not interpreted as if it were: much of the meaning in human discourse is inferred or assumed.

    Likewise, although there is no formal logical connection between Statements 1. and 2. and the introductory statements, there is no sense in the Linda question unless the introductory statements are assumed to have been provided as the basis for assessing which of the two statements is most probably true. Such assumptions are normal in human discourse, and without them human communication would be hopelessly long-winded, like listening to some maddeningly pedantic philosopher — Ludwig Wittgenstein, for example.

    What that means is that people who are supposedly fooled by the Linda question are simply functioning as viable organisms, not desiccated logical analysts. Anyone who insists that the question should be assessed on the basis of formal logic is either ignorant of how intelligent organisms survive in the world or irrational.

    But why am I casting my pearls of wisdom, the fruits of my Darwinian mind, before an audience of g freaks and IQ fanatics, whose entire system of thought is is a perfect illustration of the fallacy of reification?

  99. Rationality is strongly manifested as great and better judgment. A test of rationality is also a test of mental sanity. For example, someone ask you to observe a piece of rock extracted from geologically heterogeneous ground. So you only need analyze and describe what you are seeing. It’s easy to do it when we no have feelings involved because we don’t need avoid ethical or moral issues we just need look to the rock and describe it, at direct and impersonal perception. Better, accurate and even insightful was your description at least to this particular “test” better will be your rationality there. The pure exercise of perception, see or observe, analyze , compilate the salient or relevant points, criticize, judge better and even give more extra details, this is real manifestation of rational skills. Explain why many partisans are more prone to irrationalia than reasonable people because this people tend to look only for their own perspective and extrapolating to the ideological systems they choice. My examples, capitalistic, communistic.. Everyone who follows a ideological doctrine without truly analyze, criticize and judge at precise or correct ways all their perspectives will be being irrational because they will be buying good points and justifying bad (usually worst) points. It’s like buy a car with evident defects and justify them, well…

    The great difference between naturalistic rationality (“cold” facts, in my view still a logical and not rational view) to the affective/moral rationality is that the first tend to believe we need to be submissive to the nature while the second usually don’t care about natural laws but human laws or maximization of existential comfort and of course because they despise natural world instead improve human (and non human) comfort they destroy it.

  100. Sorry mental sanity or stability is not exactly the same than intellectual health.

  101. @CanSpeccy

    Your “It is there to elicit the false assumption….” is I think your key point. But I am not sure how much beyond showing that intelligent people could be induced to make false assumptions the question was designed for. (I suppose I, and all commenters on Linda could Google “the Linda question” to get a better knowledge of its genesis. I haven’t and am irritated again to note no index to Michael Lewis’s “The Undoing Project”.

    As to your last par. allow me to make a point based on just the practical inductive thinking that you invoke. By chance or mischance I was able to read reports which disclosed the IQ test results of scores of my contemporaries and near contemporaries at secondary school. I know their predictive value was pretty good, though improved by knowledge of established interests and character. Likewise I believe the in-law who had owned her own small English prep school and told me that her estimates of what the children would score on IQ tests were generally accurate.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  102. @CanSpeccy

    It occurred to me that the question might have been (but was not) ” Which is likely to be the better description?” to which 2. is arguably the right answer.

    Over an adult lifetime of having professional reason to cultivate my accuracy in reading and listening (leaving aside the emotional tone aspects as a separate question for present purposes) I have become pretty good at not being misdirected as in the Linda question. But I wonder how far trainability extends to improving a generalised ability to focus on the key words and concepts. Also, just as pertinent or more so, is the effective result of training likely to be IQ related. I suspect it is – partly because it requires a reasonably high IQ to maintain an interest beyond a parent’s pushing in Martin Gardner’s “Mathematical Puzzles”…

  103. I was once involved in some drafting wherein resolution was sought by replacing the word “reasonable” with “rational”. Latecomers to the issue with adequate IQs noticed and were amused, if not too irritated.

    Think rational objection. And think that “rational objection” might just about squeeze past criticism because of the favourable connotation of “rational” when in reality an opening is being made for unreasonable objections!

  104. @CanSpeccy

    I think you are the only commenter *on this thread* to use the word “reify” or “reification” so it is here that I pursue my morning’s “esprit de la douche” (to coin a misleading phrase).

    Reification suggests both the treating of something abstract as concrete and also, perhaps, an activity as a thing. But why isn’t it equally reification (hypostatisation indeed?) to speak of someone’s verbal ability, or spatial or athletic? Isn’t g, it has just occurred to me, the decathlon in games where most people are well advised to stick to the ability that stands out as their best?

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  105. @Jacobite

    Nice! In case you actually are interested in the rhetorical devices I was deploying on behalf of the internet character “anonymous reply”, please consult page 260 of “Cervantes, [Aristotle], & Classical Rhetoric”, page 260 footnote 8 (discussing ‘erlebte rede’). If you were just being rude, and have no interest in saying or listening to that which is true, well, have a nice day anyway. I do teetotalers and pot-heads pretty well too when the occasion arises; and I am really good, in real life, at making people with Asperger’s and similar afflictions laugh. Communicating with people, I am sure you would agree, is not a simple task! People are so ready so often to immediately discount what one says!

    • Replies: @anonymous
  106. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Wizard of Oz

    Yes, I don’t doubt that IQ tests measure significant attributes of the central nervous system, in particular, aptitude for mathematics and facility in the use of words. Aptitude in both is a prerequisites to high academic achievement, which in turn, is a prerequisite for success in various professions from rocket science to employment with a top New York law firm.

    What I object to is the notion that IQ tests are highly, or even fairly, accurate and free from cultural influence, and that they provide a measure of some basic thing, g, upon the linear scale of which all humanity can be graded from the dumbest to the brightest.

    Even on the abilities measured, verbal and mathematical, there is only a rather poor correlation (r squared of less than 0.5). And IQ tests make no assessment whatever of other important nervous system properties, including musical gifts, physical coordination, and originality.

    And we should not forget personality. It’s what gets a person into bed with the person they want, or makes them President. Jeb Bush had a ton of election funding, Hillary had even more funding, and we assume, a high IQ. But Trump won — on personality.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  107. To be fair, I do not do “teetotalers” well but I do “Southern Baptist teetotalers” really well. It took about twenty years to understand their Robinson Crusoe-like mindset, but eventually I succeeded. Anyway, if you have good constructive advice on my communication skills (either as anonymous reply or as wwebd guest on rachmaninoff) I would be happy to give you a listen. “Tapadh leat, a charaid”!

  108. EH says:

    The Linda question has annoyed me since 2005, when Eliezer Yudkowsky kicked Richard Loosemore off the SL5 list for politely disagreeing with E.Y.’s interpretation of the question, which was the last I bothered reading SL5. The supposedly “rational” answer to the Linda question is precisely the kind of Talmudic interpretation divorced from common sense that typifies the kibitzers over at “Less Wrong”.

    They ask you to assume the validity of the description of Linda, but in fact Linda most likely does not exist. She’s probably fictional, created for the question, but we’re not quite 100% sure of that, so when asked which is more likely, A or A and B, with B fitting in with the rest of the description, we are being asked which is the more plausible character, which description is less likely to be a product of the writer’s imagination. Someone who can give a more detailed description appears more potentially knowledgeable, and that the extra information is highly consistent with the rest of the description, while its negation would be highly inconsistent, so the more detailed description is more credible and less likely to be imaginary.

    The self-anointed rationalists are incapable of jumping out of the frame of the question, they accept alleged information given in the questions uncritically. They’re like computers that accept whatever nonsense they’re told without applying the prior knowledge they should have from experience. They had to train themselves to be this stupid, and they pat themselves on the back for having disabled their common sense.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  109. @EH

    It is amusing that the Linda question annoys so many people. It would be decades since any such question would have caught me out simply because my tastes and interests have led me to look for the key to a question – roughly “what is the point of it, where’s the catch..?” No doubt very many other people with IQs in most cases not less than a modest 110 are similarly primed. Cf. Flynn’s own explanation of the farmboy of the 1890s and his grandson of 1950 answering the question “what do foxes and rabbits have in common?”.

  110. @Wizard of Oz

    g as measured by Wechsler is indeed a decathlon, and Ricardo would suggest you stick to your best ability, which gives you comparative advantage. However, at high g you have many other options if the vagaries of fate make your best ability fall out of favour in the marketplace.

  111. @CanSpeccy

    Assuming that success in life can be measured (and if it cannot then your hypothesis about personality assisting in life success cannot be evaluated) then a number of factors may lead to success. You have mentioned personality and musical gifts, physical coordination, and originality. I would add physical attractiveness. Intelligence researchers have looked at all those, and find that they make a contribution. However, so far the data indicate that intelligence is highly placed among possible causes of success. A broad range of tests on a broad range of people confirm that finding, for a century at least. If it is not so, it can easily be proved false by contrary findings.

    On the question of test bias, Jensen’s “Bias in mental testing” 1980 goes through the topic in great detail.

    On personality there are several posts, but here are a few

    On originality, it looks as if that is primarily down to intelligence.

    Rex Jung is a good person to read on this issue

    • Replies: @Santoculto
    , @CanSpeccy
  112. @James Thompson

    Iq-tards are one of the less original of all, even to understand their precious IQ they are palpably incapable.

    I think only or specially truly creative people can say about originality and not those ”academics” who produce boring/ unoriginal articles during their entire lifes.

  113. @Intelligent Dasein

    I find other people’s lives enigmatic. Lacking experience anywhere near the tests of scientific validity and to some extent simply not caring enough to study the relevant literature, I draw my conclusions from anecdote.

    I’ve encountered people who are clearly brilliant, and whose accomplishments are far beyond my ken even as they are also (to me) boringly narrow. I’ve encountered people who are bright (about where I see myself) who can’t think their way out of a box. I’ve met at least one man who was so brilliant that life bored him to tears, and last I saw him, he worked as an examiner at a Drivers License facility (and spent most of his free time drunk.) I’ve never met anyone who swings in the Big Leagues (Microsoft, Tesla, et. al.) so I have no idea what the principle people at that level are like. I also really don’t care.

    I have no idea what the relevant ingredients are to a satisfactory life, much less how to acquire what is not inborn. My experience was a lifetime of underemployment (I worked in sales mostly, but I’ve worked both blue and white collar jobs, done basic (biological) research, worked in a clinical lab and tried all sorts of things, none of which were that interesting.

    OTOH, I’ve performed lead roles on stage through college, I could call up “alpha male” behavior when I wanted, and I found tremendous success in interpersonal relationships at the nuclear family level (although I’m largely disappointed by relationships outside of those with my wife and kids.)

    Most people get through life without examining themselves or their surroundings much. Some of the wealthiest people I’ve met are of no more than a little above average intelligence, but they were either driven to compete or just what I call the “just enough’s,” smart enough to be capable of things but not so smart that they see all the likely pitfalls along their paths. We thus have a sample bias problem, where we see the “successes” but we don’t see those who took the same risks but were culled along the way.

    Post-career now, I kind of wish I’d have applied myself earlier and found an occupation I’d have enjoyed more, but that’s the breaks.

    I told my sons during their formative years that their job was thus:
    1. Cultivate your aptitudes.
    2. Identify something you’re good at.
    3. Look at jobs where people who have that aptitude are valued.
    4. Pick one you think you could stomach.
    5. Find the fastest, cheapest path to obtain necessary qualifications.
    6. Be in the top 5% of those on that path.

    All three were gifted at math. All three (judging from Life: The IQ test) are smarter than I am. Two out of three went into comp. sci., the other went into mech. eng. and all are punching way above their weight class in their jobs, sailing past colleagues who are twenty years their senior.

    None of them had the “formative years” handicaps I encountered, so maybe your history of abuse really is to blame for your difficulty finding a path on which to leverage your talents. That’s frankly what I blame my difficulties on, and everyone needs a good scapegoat (including me.)

    FWIW, I am on a program (in fits and starts) to fix some of the scholastic deficits that dogged me since grade school. It’s never too late to identify the basic holes in your repertoire, fill them and set your sights on a whole new spectrum of possible opportunities. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

    One other observation, one that is both a rationalization and an expression of narcissism: If you’re smart enough, you can see enough of the irrationality and illogic that saturates our social system and it informs you of the impossibility of certain things. When those things occur anyway, despite their seeming impossibility, it can make you question your sanity (“you” is me, in this construction, of course.)

    I don’t consider myself wealthy, but I’m not going to miss a meal anytime soon. I achieved that despite the stock market being a wealth sink, a money burning machine for me during a time when we’re told everyone else is getting richer than Croesus by mindlessly dumping 20% of their income into passively managed asset-allocation funds. The way my mind is wired, I am utterly incapable of participating with the herd on such things, because I see the underlying principles in stark relief and it all screams, “Lunacy” to me. So much for that insight being of value.

    It has taken me 22 years to realize that it’s fad and irrationality, all the way down. But life is the ultimate value, and whatever one’s condition today, tomorrow brings the potential for change. The trick is to simply outlast today’s difficulties.

    • Replies: @JackOH
  114. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @James Thompson

    Assuming that success in life can be measured (and if it cannot then your hypothesis about personality assisting in life success cannot be evaluated)

    I was quite explicit about what I meant by “success in life” in relation to personality:

    And we should not forget personality. It’s what gets a person into bed with the person they want, or makes them President. Jeb Bush had a ton of election funding, Hillary had even more funding, and we assume, a high IQ. But Trump won — on personality.

    So no measurement issue there — as far as success is concerned.

    And since getting to be president often means getting to bed with some at least of the persons you want, one might in all cases reduce “life success” to a single factor: reproductive success, although it must be understood that a combination of perversion and contraception has meant that getting the wench to bed and getting the wench with child are different things.

    So today, speaking from an evolutionary perspective (a view obscure if not entirely irrelevant to the present-day liberal), life success should be defined as frequency of copulation with reproductive consequences.

    As for:

    However, so far the data indicate that intelligence is highly placed among possible causes of success.

    Ha! You falsely charge me with having a meaningless concept of life success and then talk about causes of success without giving any indication of your own understanding of success.

    However, we can probably assume that your measure of success is how much money and social status a person has. But, if as you say, such success is linked to IQ, then from a Darwinian perspective it is actually a measure of failure, since there is an inverse relation between reproductive success and IQ.

    And evidence that IQ is an evolutionary negative is all around us. Welfare mothers producing a succession of low IQ kids, and high IQ politicians and liberal propagandists in academia promoting welfarism for low IQ mothers.

  115. JackOH says:

    Fine essay, dc.—. Have you thought about submitting it for publication? Possibly a sectarian publication?

    • Replies: @anon
  116. map says:

    This is not correct. T & K are making the assumption that the probable truth of a statement is based on the size of particular populations: the population of bank tellers is greater than the population of bank tellers who are feminists, therefore Linda is a bank teller only.

    This is not good reasoning at all. We know bank tellers who are feminists exists, even if they exist in smaller numbers. The description of Linda readily identifies her as such a feminist. Therefore, she is a bank teller who is a feminist.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  117. anon • Disclaimer says:

    dc,sunsets, that was very well written. Sometimes I read comments on the internet and I think: I would have really really liked to have written that. This is one of those times . (I am a big fan of John 3:13 and Romans 6:23 – this world is a hard place. God is kind to us but God is a person too and wants us to be kind to Him!!!)

  118. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous reply

    Jacobite – you forgot to apologize.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  119. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Not that I am criticizing. Possibly you were happy to sit down at your computer and say something hurtful. But that is no way to live! God wants us to try to understand each other! I have known people who said hurtful things one moment and a few moments later risked their lives for others. God loves us at our best, and one prays every day that He does not judge us when we are at any less than our best. (By the way this is probably my last comment on this website. I wrote a 100 word comment following the “forgot to apologize”comment above and whoever runs the software on this website made it impossible to publish that comment. So, Jacobite, if anything I said seems unfair – the more than fair counterbalancing things I wrote were deleted by the programs that run this website. I am sure that there is a good chance you are a wonderful person, God Bless.) Philippians One through Four explains so much of this so much better than I ever have. I know you probably will not read this but I will pray for you anyway.

  120. ” She is outspoken and very bright , she studied philosophy”

    Some of the most profound Dummköpfe I have ever encountered were holding degrees, PhDs, in philosophy.

    Had a good friend who went through Viet Nam in the infantry, he came back and persued a philosophy degree, which from my viewpoint afforded him no answers. He voted for Carter.

    And the idea of HC having a “High” IQ , is qualified to be submitted to the “Joke of the century” competition.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member since 1973, and pro jazz artist.

  121. @anonymous

    ” God loves us at our best”

    So how do you know this, does God talk to you and tell you what he wants from us?

    And just why did God, seeing as according to you believers he knows the future, just why did he go ahead and create Hitler and Stalin, fully knowing what their future accomplishments would encompass.

    If he loves us at our best one would assume that he, God would have thought : Wait a minute I had better refrain from putting these guys, Hitler, Stalin, Gacy, etc, on earth, seeing as I KNOW what they are going to do.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member since 1973, and pro jazz artist.

  122. @map

    You either have a problem with the precise use of the English language or are very careless.

    There have been quite a number of comments showing some sort of emotional rejection of K & T’s Linda question. So I have hone back and reread it. Its meaning is quite clear.

    It asks whether, taking the whole p0pulation of women who fit the description of Linda (being more than a handful) it would be more probable that, if you chose one at random, she would turn out to be A. or B.

    Unambiguously, and without doubt, A is the answer.

    Your conclusion requires that every woman who fits Linda’s description is a feminist. And even then you are wrong because A and B are then equally probable.

    • Replies: @map
  123. @anonymous

    As you clearly seem to have a special relationship to God, can you tell us when He is coming to smite the Godless liberals?

  124. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    AuthenticJazzman, Daniel Chieh – thanks for reading my comment. You are both extremely intelligent and, being lucky in that way, can quickly access religious explanations for the existence of evil. Many people have explained it, none successfully, but many better than I could. That being said, today is today, and we are here and it is now, and I am the person you asked, and here are some of the unique reflections I can add (while noting that I completely respect your objections): I do have a special relationship with God, as do we all. The most pathetic bum asking for a few quarters an hour or so at the end of a day so he can buy a quart of rail liquor is loved by God extremely (so far this is all basic Christianity – the next few sentences explain a few things that are not basic). Jesus Christ suffered for a few hours on one afternoon in an otherwise blissful life -amazingly wonderful parents, not a hint of psychological disorder, no intellectual impediments, stupendously kind and loving friends. I know hundreds of people who suffered more than Him. Now, I do not have children because all 4 of my grandparents were nasty people, and hence I embraced celibacy to make the world a less bad place. Not that I wanted to – I am a former alpha male who could have bedded as many beautiful women as I wanted (*not* ‘the ones I wanted’, but ***as many as I wanted*** – the distinction is not important in any respect except to show that I am not delusional). I hate evil people, I even hate Reggie from the Archie comics because he is selfish. (That being said, I named my dog after Bix because he was the friendliest jazz musician ever). Another thing about me – I was almost killed in the line of duty in the Air Force and spent 10 hours, without opium or any pain relievers at all, because the doctors said that would not be good for your brain. I said fine, but after it was over I said to myself that was worse than dying on the cross – at least if you are dying on a cross you know the pain will soon be over. If not soon, at least no more than 3 hours of it! So, here’s the thing – if you like anyone in this world, ask yourself, how much suffering would you – not some idealized person, not homo economicus, not your great amazing Dad, but you – how much would You suffer to keep that person from being born, in a slightly rejiggered world (the word rejiggered is a nod to my adversary Jacobite (just kidding, he is a wonderful guy) to the sort of parents the average evil person has? I hate evil people, I support capital punishment, and I would gladly go into one-on-one battle to the death with rapists and evil dictators and their ilk, and I would be very cheerful to watch them die. But one thing I would not do is say to God, God, I refuse to suffer in this world in order to keep my child from being born under an evil moon to nasty parents. Now, I have been through more pain than many people can imagine, and the worst of it is that I know that millions of us in this world – more than half of us – have suffered as much or more than I have. That is too too sad. Sometimes I have beautiful dreams where I am playing golf or taking a nice hike with people and it is all real and then someone says “I have decided, because I like my friend, to be born in the horrible circumstances he would be born in if I did not take his place” and I say “what the f***” and I wake up and realize that people love each other, and God loves us at our best – I grew up speaking English, and God loves us at our best makes sense to me – if I have not expressed myself well, sorry. To finish, thank you Ron Unz, for letting me use your bandwidth.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  125. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    also, I am sorry, Jacobite. I did not mean to sound rude but I did. Thanks, Ron Unz, for letting me post here. I have learned much.

  126. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Authentic Jazzman, Daniel Chieh: I meant what I said, I am sure you love the people you love as much as I love the people I love. I meant what I said God loves you and He especially loves your hatred for injustice. I apologize if any single word I said was said without awareness that God gave you as difficult a task as God gave me. You and me hate injustice: you and me will be victorious. Amor omnia vincit.

  127. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    The Linda in this article is probably Jewish.

  128. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Authentic Jazzman, Daniel Chieh: You are welcome, my friends. You would have expended the same effort for me as I did for you, I am sure. (not being sarcastic here).

  129. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    “It asks whether, taking the whole p0pulation of women who fit the description of Linda (being more than a handful) it would be more probable that, if you chose one at random, she would turn out to be A. or B.”

    But you are not choosing Linda at random. Linda has already been chosen and she has a description that is attached to her. This is not a question of the probability of selecting one or two black balls in a bag of 500 white balls.

    In other words, you are mistaking the whole for the part and ignoring the specific information given. It would be like debating how many teeth there are in a woman’s mouth without actually counting the teeth.

    Let’s rewrite the question this way:

    Linda is 31 years old. She is unable to wear clothing that fits a normal adult woman of her age due to her diminutive size. She is, instead, forced to wear clothing made for a 10 year old child. Which is more probable?

    1. Linda is a bank teller.
    2. Linda is a bank teller and is also a midget.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  130. @map

    Nope. Wrong. Start with your rewrite. You have actually defined Linda, all the Lindas in the population whetein probability is to be assessed, to be a midget. That means A. and B. are equally probable. The original version avoids defining her as a feminist.

    No Linda hasn’t been chosen. The name Linda is just one of the attributes ascribed to the person whose further description is being inquired about in terms of pronability. To make it clear consider a rewrite which, unlike yours, doesn’t change the facts.

    “There is at least one woman who has characteristics p, q, and r [those actually used for Linda in the oroginal] whom we shall call X. Is it more probable that X is
    A. A bank teller,
    B. A bank teller and feminist?

    • Replies: @map
  131. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    No. You are completely incorrect.

    I have not defined Linda. I have given a description of Linda. The description creates an inference as to the probability of what she is. This is no different than what the original syllogism posed. I described, what is, in all probability, a midget, just as the original describes what is, in all probability, a feminist.

    “The original version avoids defining her as a feminist.”

    This is exactly wrong. The original version does not define her as a feminist, but it describes her as a feminist, and that is enough to assess that she is probably both a bank teller and a feminist, because you’ve described her as feminist. You must include the feminist component if you are assessing the probable attributes of an object, because you’ve described that object as having those attributes.

    The rest of your comment is exactly what is not being asked. The question is not, given a pool of bank tellers and feminists, what is more probable: finding an object that is a bank teller; or, finding an object that is both a bank teller and a feminist. Of course the former is right. That is the nature of any search criteria using the boolean AND. But that is not the way the question is structured. The object, Linda, is a concrete entity, not an abstraction.

    In fact, let’s re-write it this way. Everything is the same except the following:

    What is probable?

    1) Linda is a potato
    2) Linda is a potato and a feminist


    1) Linda is a bank teller
    2) Linda is a bank teller and a potato

    Do you see how the description of Linda as a feminist and the substitution of a word changes the logic?

    Look, I understand what subversive academics like T & K are trying to do: train you into not noticing patterns. The more random and bewildering the world appears to you, the more easily you can be manipulated and the less likely you are to notice said manipulation.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  132. @map

    I don’t think the differences between “description” and “definition” are critical in this context. But I won’t pause to discuss that further since your attempts at precision of language and logic are somewhat undermined by your apparently not noticing the contradiction in your

    ” ‘The original version avoids defining her as feminist’

    “This is exactly [sic] wrong. The original version does *not* define her as a feminist, but….”

    You have confused the question as to whether from the description of Linda it makes it probable that she is a feminist with the question whether she is a feminist and a bank teller. Most people would agree with you that, if a late 20th century American, she is probably a feminist. She is àlso probably NOT a bank teller if only because there are not nearly as many bank tellers as feminists.

    So it is more probable that she is a feminist than a bank teller. But you have misconceived the nature of the question or simply not noticed that the choice is between her membership of a class of say 50,000 feminist female bank tellers and a class which includes all those 50,000 but also includes one or more female bank tellers who aren’t feminists.

    Ask yourself. For someone of Linda’s description is it possible that she is a bank teller who is not a feminist? If not, why not? If so, how do you assess the probability that she is both bank teller and feminist against the probability that she is just a bank teller? Does not the simpler description, including the name, denote a larger pool than rhe more complex one? The best you can do is get to a denial that the question can be answered based on some unstated premise like “all 31 year old women called Linda are feminists”.

    • Replies: @map
  133. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    The reason why I am a stickler on this point is because T & K are using this example to demonstrate irrationality when it comes to categorizing and defining objects. T & K are trying to cast doubt on the discovery of a feminist and using a specious argument to do so.

    Yes, I understand how this operates.

    We know that Linda is 31 and a feminist because that is how she is described. We are then asked to conduct what are essentially two Boolean searches:

    1) Linda AND 31 AND Bank Teller
    2) Linda AND 31 AND Bank Teller AND Feminist

    Even if we know that Linda is a feminist, there is no search criteria that allows for feminist alone. For Linda to be selected in either Boolean search, “Bank Teller” would have to be true. If “bank teller” is not true, then neither criteria will identify Linda.

    The thing is, Boolean logic has nothing to do with probability and nothing to do with rationality. This is the bait and switch that T & K are practicing, a type of psychological warfare. The boolean logic is supposed to suck any meaning out of the categorical description of Linda, and then lead you to believe that she is something else without any credible evidence: that she is really a bank teller and not a feminist. This is an exercise in training a population in not believing their proverbial lying eyes.

    It’s as if I were to declare that only geniuses know auto mechanics and, therefore, everyone must believe that those who do not know auto mechanics are not geniuses.

    Likewise, T & K are doing the same thing: the boolean logic acts as a “weasel criterion” that sucks the meaning out of the established description of Linda, until you are forced by the criterion to come to regard the wrong answer as correct…in other words, to accept a compete inversion of reality. To this inversion of reality, they call rational.

  134. @map

    Aren’t you confusing “Boolean search” [AND, OR, NOT] with “Boolean logic” [TRUE, FALSE]?

    You might do better following up the idea that, even in the 20th and 21st centuries not everyone uses the word probability to mean the same thing.

    • Replies: @map
    , @map
  135. @map

    UR software has been failing to record mybreplies on another thread so I shall simply say at this point that you might care to go to p.327 of Michael Lewis’s characteristically readable book “The Undoing Project” where you might be prompted to subsitute a reference to Venn for Boole. Venn diagrams clearly do have a great deal to do with mathematical probability.

    Lewis’s book has no index which is a very proper sign that Lewis is not pretending to write as a scholar rather than a highly intelligent and lucid journalist but I flipped through till I found the Linda puzzle in Chapter 12 “This cloud of possibility”.

  136. @map

    You are braver than I with no more memory of now somewhat distant maths, stats and formal logic. I, after all, am on the side of Tversky and Kahneman, the less brilliant of whom, after the death of AT, received the Nobel Prize for their work. You gallantly ride alone without even searching for the articles of the many people T & K upset!

    If you go to Lewis’s Chapter 12 I cited, at about p.320 (see also p.327), you will find that representativeness rather than probability was being investigated. Unfortunately Lewis does not elsborate enough on what was done apatt from noting that not all the 8 original questions or possibilities were put to all subjects. I think his view of what it showed was probably justified despite the fact that the obvious answer to chose as to representativeness was “Linda is an activist feminist”.

  137. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz


    Let’s assume you are writing condition statements with the Boolean search, AND, OR, NOT.

    Consider a very important problem with this exercise: How many casual readers would walk away with the impression that Linda is a bank teller?

  138. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Boolean logic and Boolean search are identical. The TRUE and FALSE are a subset of the Boolean operators AND, NOT and OR.

    Yes, the Boolean AND requires that both conditions be TRUE to bring back the effective search result.

    The whole exercise, because it juxtaposes unrelated elements, would lead the casual reader to think that Linda is actually a bank teller.

  139. @map

    As I said with reference to what Lewis reports on T and K it is to Venn diagrams that you should be resorting when dealing with the probability question. The bank teller and feminist diagram is competely contained within the bank teller diagram.

    But, to answer your question about “hw many readers”: of course very few Lindas would *be*
    bank tellers or would be thought by readers to be bank tellers. So what? The class of Lindas who are bank tellers and activist feminusts would be entirely subsumed within the class of Lindas who are bank tellers.

    It does seem odd, if you read Lewis’s account, that they got on to their almost bait and switch but logically clear simple A and B version from alternative versions of a multiple choice question about representativeness. After all it would not be very surprising that readers would look for some reference to feminism and/or activism after reading the description of Linda – and find just “bank teller” a non-starter. After all there would be, in fact rather than logic, a lot more feminists who met the description than bank tellers…

  140. @map

    Put the matter in concrete terms. Further to #142 I guess one in a thousand American women who meet the description of Linda apart from her actual name might be bank tellers and on in three activist feminists (of the two out of three who are feminists). It would still be true that the class of those who were both bank tellers and feminists would probably be smaller than the class of those who wete just bank tellers and couldn’t be larger.

    • Replies: @map
  141. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz


    Look, let’s re-write the example this way:

    1) Linda is a bank teller
    2) Linda is a bank teller and a hair dresser.

    The answer is always 1). No matter what combination you use, no matter what you substitute for “bank teller” or “feminist”, you always arrive at the first answer.

    But, then, what is the point of the description of Linda?

    Taken in isolation, let’s rewrite the argument this way:

    Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.

    Is Linda a feminist?

    There are two answers:

    1) Yes
    2) Probably yes

    That is simply based on the description of Linda and logical conclusions drawn from that description.

    But then T & K added a choice that is designed to subvert concrete understanding:

    1) Linda is a bank teller
    2) Linda is a bank teller and a feminist.

    Now you are supposed to think that she is probably a bank teller and not a feminist, ignoring what you actually know about Linda.

    This is a psychological trick designed to get you to ignore pertinent information and to come to incorrect conclusions, a good training ground for manipulating stupid people. Ergo, most will conclude that Linda is bank teller.

    Again, this has nothing to do with probability or rationality, or Venn diagrams or Boolean searches. It’s using a particular logical construct with a mechanically correct conclusion to suck meaning out of the concrete examples, like a weasel word.

    In other words, the argument is set up for you to regard the choice with less information to be true over the choice that actually contains the true info.

    It’s interesting how this example occurs in behavioral finance, which is designed to prevent people from trading and to, instead, invest in index funds.

    • Replies: @map
    , @Wizard of Oz
  142. map says:

    I should say, for any substitution of “bank teller” or “feminist”, 1) is always going to be true. This is trivially true and has nothing to do with logic or rationality.

  143. @map

    You ask “what is the point of the description of Linda?” This coild seek an answer in terms of what T & K’s motives or purposes were personally or as meaning something more like “in analysing the structure of the whole question what is the function of the description of Linda?”.

    Your “you are supposed to think …etc” and later “psychological trick designed …etc” both commit you to the former approach (if not exclusively) and you are demonstrably wrong both empirically and as a matter of logic.

    As a matter of logic and plain words your “This is a psychological trick designed to get you to ignore pertinent information” is exactly the opposite of the truth. It is indeed irrelevant, not pertinent, information that you are tempted to take into consideration to discover or demonstrate how it can affect rational thinking. Everything beyond “Linda is a 31 year old woman” in the description is *not* pertinent or relevant to the queston asked.

    The original objective function of the description of Linda in terms which make it likely she would be a feminist was, as I noted in relating what I found in Michael Lewis’s book, an experiment by academic psychologists related to the question of how people made judgments of representativeness. That seems to have led to equally dispassionate academic study of the kind of distortion of rational thinking that they thought they had discovered in their original experiment.

    I commend you for your imagination but I would be interested in any evidence you may be able to find by studying the actual psychological literature, including T & K’s own work and words.

    • Replies: @map
  144. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    “The original objective function of the description of Linda in terms which make it likely she would be a feminist was, as I noted in relating what I found in Michael Lewis’s book, an experiment by academic psychologists related to the question of how people made judgments of representativeness. That seems to have led to equally dispassionate academic study of the kind of distortion of rational thinking that they thought they had discovered in their original experiment.”

    The reason why people make the judgment that Linda is a feminist, is because that is the correct judgment.

    This is why I keep harping on this point. Again, let’s review:

    1) Bank Teller
    2) Bank Teller and Feminist

    is the exact same construction as

    1) Bank Teller
    2) Bank Teller and Hairdresser

    If you ask what Linda is in all probability, the answer will always be Bank Teller. Even though the description of Linda mentions neither bank tellers nor hairdressers, it will always be more probable that Linda is a one broad category than two broad categories. You can write the argument this way:

    For any given description of X, the probability that X is A will always be greater than the probability that X is both A and B, for any substitution of A and/or B. For example, if, given the description of Linda, the choice of what is more probable is:

    1) Feminist
    2) Feminist and Bank Teller

    Then the answer will be Feminist. What’s important to understand, is that this answer is not driven by the actual description of Linda as a feminist in T & K’s example. It is driven by the mechanical application of this logical construct. So, the pretense of “representativeness” or “rationality” or anything T & K are trying to prove is not there.

    Let’s put this all together:

    “Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable?”

    1) Linda is Feminist
    2) Linda is a Bank Teller

    Obviously, Linda being a Feminist is more probably given the description.

    Now, add the logical construct designed to suck meaning out of the correct judgment:

    1. Linda is a bank teller.
    2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

    This will always give you the first answer, as will:

    1. Linda is a bank teller.
    2. Linda is a bank teller and is a hairdresser.


    1. Linda is a feminist.
    2. Linda is a feminist and a bank teller.

    You see? The probable choices that T & K give are “weasel word” logical constructions, designed to empty out the meaning of the first logical construction.

    This is what I object to. Labeling any of this as giving insight into how people think is deceptive and insulting.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  145. @map

    Well, you are certainly not the first to express their reaction to T & K’s work with feeling. At least we agree that Linda is probably (if not by definition) a feminist. I can’t understand however why you would see a problem about research into what tends to produce different approaches to questions when one of the approaches available is the simple unadorned Venn diagram approach or to the inclusion of the Llinda question in such research. Your use of such expressions as “weasel word” suggests strongly to me that you do.

    In most countries this would all be ancient history amongst those with post high school education. Surely now everyone with a functionimg brain starts with “OK where’s the trick?” Except in real life questions….

    • Replies: @map
  146. map says:
    @Wizard of Oz


    Ask yourself:

    Why is there so much research being directed toward getting people not to notice patterns?

    Consider a similar logic problem:

    All elephants are pink.
    Nelly is an elephant.

    What color is Nelly?

    Logically, Nelly should be pink. But…there are no such things as pink elephants. Therefore, Nelly is gray, or some shade of gray.

    See? It’s a question of what you choose to emphasize: Do you follow what is logically correct or do you follow what is empirically correct?

    The reason why people zone in on the second answer as most probable given the description of Linda, is because it contains the correct answer and the human mind seeks correct answers. The fact that the correct answer is embedded in a logical construct that detracts away from it depends on what you choose to emphasize.

    Again, give what we know about Linda:

    A) What is probable?

    1) Linda is a Feminist
    2) Linda is a Bank Teller


    B) What is probable?

    1) Linda is a Feminist
    2) Linda is a Feminist and a Bank Teller

    In either case, the answer is 1). But do you understand that the answer is 1) for completely unrelated reasons?

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  147. @map

    I am not sure we are on the same page.

    Your “why is so much research etc…? doesn’t strike me as reflecting any reality I know about although, in a different context, I can see why military people and orgganised crime might like to find ways of destroying pattern recognition.

    Your saying “it contains the correct answer” is comprehensible in context but still wrong in the sense that you can only have a correct answer to a defined question that has been actually asked. No one has asked the question to which “Linda is (or is probably) a feminist” is the answer. I think this matters because I detect signs that your real onjection is to the kind of research they were doing (in your understandimg of its mrthods and purposes. Maximum clarity and precision is needed to ensure discussion is not like ships that pass in the night.

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