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[Link] FreakoStats and CEV

1 Post author: Filipe 06 June 2012 03:21PM

I would like to point you guys to the blog FreakoStats,  by Garth Zietsman, who according to his profile, "Scored an IQ of 185 on the Mega27 and has a degree in psychology and statistics and 25 years experience in psychometrics and statistics." The main concept discussed there is "The Smart Vote", whose essence,  in the author’s words, is as follows:

"If there is no difference of opinion by intelligence then reason is not relevant in deciding between them and none of the opinions being considered is more correct than any of the others. However if opinions do differ systematically with intelligence then relatively more correct or better alternatives probably do exist, and that they are those relatively more favoured by the more intelligent. Statistical differences in the independent opinions of people of different intellectual ability point to the most reasonable responses to controversies”

Many of his posts are based on the choice of relevant, if controversial, topics , and his analysis of the direction and the proportionality of which an opinion on it is related to intelligence, as measured by IQ scores.

An obvious objection would be that smart people would have in many cases common interests, and this could bias the results simply to their interests, in detriment to the interests of the less smart.

Zietsman answers it with the statistical fact that people many times don’t vote selfishly,  and that he can (and will) control for some of their interests anyway:

"My first response is that this isn’t always a factor. Political research shows that people frequently don’t vote their narrow selfish interests e.g. the elderly are less likely to vote for social security than the young and women are less likely to support abortion on demand than men. However there are enough cases where narrow interests obviously do play a role for it to be taken seriously. Fortunately this possibility can be dealt with by controlling for interest differences. For example we could control for class when looking at musical taste, income when looking at welfare, age when looking at social security policy, race when looking at affirmative action, etc."

This seems somewhat related to the notorious concept of Coherent Extrapolation Volition (CEV) of humankind. To have a clue of the direction it might take, I believe it is a nice idea to look at the opinion of the smarter (“if we knew more, thought faster, […]”), corrected for selfish interests (“[…]were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together[…]”), specially bearing in mind that most results tend to converge (“[…]where our wishes cohere rather than interfere; extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated[…]”).

There are analyses on issues such as Abortion, Free Speech ,Capital Punishment and Corporal Punishments on Children ,ImmigrationGay Rights and many more. The results look good to me personally, and I wouldn't be surprised if they pleased many here too.

Comments (40)

Comment author: [deleted] 07 June 2012 05:37:54AM *  7 points [-]

There are analyses on issues such as Abortion, Free Speech ,Capital Punishment and Corporal Punishments on Children ,Immigration, Gay Rights and many more. The results look good to me personally, and I wouldn't be surprised if they pleased many here too.

I think you are underestimating the share of metacontrarians who probably disagree with many of them. Remember normal neurotypical humans, even very intelligent ones, don't really take ideas that seriously. Ideas as tribal markers work just as well at 120 IQ points as they do at 80, its just that very few ideas can fill this role for both groups.

Comment author: Filipe 07 June 2012 02:02:54PM -1 points [-]

I think you are underestimating the share of metacontrarians probably disagree with many of them.

If they are contrarians for contrarianism's sake, why would I take them into consideration? Those are the true dangerous ones: in most cases, those people are just autodidacts who when confronted with a true expert, have their theories pretty much discredited.

Take in mind, for instance, Yvain's (who's a student of Medicine) triumphant answers to Hanson on Medicine (so harsh that he regrets on his blog being so incisive), or Kalla724's comment on cryonics which made many people lower their estimates of cryonics being of any worth. And that's because true experts won't take much of their time arguing with those people! It's funny that Hanson himself sometimes complains of 'rational folks' being ignorant about Sociology, which he has a PhD in, or how much he changed his mind on the power of actual Economics after getting a degree on it.

Remember normal neurotypical humans, even very intelligent ones, don't really take ideas that seriously. Ideas as tribal markers work just as well at 120 IQ points as they do at 80, its just that very few ideas can fill this role for both groups.

High-Iq circles are not monolithic: there are many groups they are be part of, on which different ideas would be 'tribal markers'. And there are the people who are intelligent and are not even in high-Iq circles, due to having low income etc. And the analyses, controlled for many variables, many times show clear intellectual trends, turning the fact that people individually are biased not very relevant, really.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 June 2012 02:09:28PM *  7 points [-]

If they are contrarians for contrarianism's sake, why would I take them into consideration?

I'm just informing you of your audience on LW! Not saying they are right. :)

But I am saying that intelligent people, like to show off their intelligence, this is very obvious on LessWrong. It is no less obvious when you pick up a newspaper or talk at the water cooler about politics. Intelligent people are contrarians. Having different opinions from less intelligent individuals is a great way to distinguish yourself form them. Intellectual fashion seems very much a real phenomena.

High-Iq circles are not monolithic: there are many groups they are be part of, on which different ideas would be 'tribal markers'.

Actually they are. Nearly all of them are university educated or move in social circles among people who are, which is overseen my academia, which does have a left wing bias, because a left-wing bias is self-serving to them. If you check out the GSS you will see education strongly correlating with "leftist" views. Naturally not everyone with a university degree in the US agrees with the ethical consensus of academia, but not every member of the Communist party in the old USSR was a real communist either.

This reminds me if you made a anonymous poll of high IQ people living in the USSR in the 1920s, what do you think their position would on the future prospects of Bolshevik rule? Also what do you think of their policy opinions? The ignorant peasant of 1920s Russia had one great advantage over the well educated and on average much more intelligent teacher, engineer or student. Controlling for class, I'm still pretty sure that those of above average intelligence favoured the Bolsheviks in 1920s Russia compared to their dimmer fellow countrymen.

Smart people are smart enough to know what they need to say, which may or may not be the right answer. They answer and vote in a way that makes them feel morally superior, that makes them feel better than someone else so that they seem higher status. Stupid people just say whatever they happen to be familiar with, which may or may not be the right answer. In a traditional society the default answer has the advantage of being a tested answer. Such a society wasn't designed, it grew.

Comment author: Oligopsony 07 June 2012 11:31:01PM 4 points [-]

This reminds me if you made a anonymous poll of high IQ people living in the USSR in the 1920s, what do you think their position would on the future prospects of Bolshevik rule? Also what do you think of their policy opinions? The ignorant peasant of 1920s Russia had one great advantage over the well educated and on average much more intelligent teacher, engineer or student. Controlling for class, I'm still pretty sure that those of above average intelligence favoured the Bolsheviks in 1920s Russia compared to their dimmer fellow countrymen.

Local coloring aside, intelligent people in the early twentieth century wanted modernization, morons wanted their country to be King Shit, and everyone wanted crass material wealth. Did the Bolsheviks not deliver? (This applies almost as well to most other major modernizing revolutions, now that I think of it.)

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 June 2012 05:12:49AM -2 points [-]

This reminds me if you made a anonymous poll of high IQ people living in the USSR in the 1920s, what do you think their position would on the future prospects of Bolshevik rule? Also what do you think of their policy opinions? The ignorant peasant of 1920s Russia had one great advantage over the well educated and on average much more intelligent teacher, engineer or student. Controlling for class, I'm still pretty sure that those of above average intelligence favoured the Bolsheviks in 1920s Russia compared to their dimmer fellow countrymen.

You have to consider the alternatives. I'll take the Bolsheviks' side over the Tsars any day.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 05:15:18AM *  6 points [-]

I would take the Tsars any day and consider the choice obvious. You will need to actually argue that point because it is quite non-obvious. A mere assertion to the badness of the Tsar won't make the millions deep piles of corpses left by Communism in the 20th century any smaller. Nor will it return to Russia the opportunity costs of ~80 years of command economy.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 June 2012 06:18:40AM *  -1 points [-]

Let me rephrase: I'd rather live in Russia in 1934 than in Russia in 1904.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 06:45:56AM *  7 points [-]

Let me rephrase: I'd rather live in Russia in 1934 than in Russia in 1904.

So? I'd rather live in 1984 Yugoslavia than 1954 America.

Technology matters. Economic growth matters. Given a large enough time gap Haiti today might be preferable to Japan in some past period.

Opportunity costs however are unfortunately mostly invisible. The relevant comparison you should be making is your best estimate of what 1934 Tsarist or at the very least non-Bolshevik Russia would be compared to the 1934 USSR. While we can't do experiments we can look around the world for patters, not only did parliamentary capitalist democracies like West Germany seemed to outperform command economies, resulting in large disparities of living standards, but quasi-Fascist and authoritarian regimes that didn't go for a planned economy did so as well (Franco's Spain, Modern China, Singapore, 1980s South Korea, ect.).

Also let me ask you if you would prefer living in the Ukrainian SSR of 1930s or the Ukraine of 1900s? At the very least that disaster seems unlikely to have occurred under non-Bolshevik rule.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 June 2012 09:35:45AM *  0 points [-]

While we can't do experiments we can look around the world for patters, not only did parliamentary capitalist democracies like West Germany seem to outperform command economies, resulting in large disparities of living standards, but quasi-Fascist and authoritarian regimes that didn't go for a planned economy did so as well (Franco's Spain, Modern China, Singapore, 1980s South Korea, ect.).

I found a document with some comparative historical GDP per capita data.

The following countries had a GDP per capita (measured in 1990 dollars) between $1000 and $2000 in 1913:

Country, 1913 GDP per capita, 1950 GDP per capita, growth factor (1950 gdp / 1913 gdp)
Greece, 1621, 1951, 1.20
Portugal, 1354, 2132, 1.57
Bulgaria, 1498, 1651, 1.10
USSR, 1488, 2834, 1.90
Yugoslavia, 1029, 1546, 1.50
Colombia, 1236, 2089, 1.69
Venezuela, 1104, 7424, 6.72 (wow)
Mexico, 1467, 2085, 1.42
Peru, 1037, 2263, 2.18
Japan, 1334, 1873, 1.40
Philippines, 1418, 1293, 0.91
South Africa, 1451, 2251, 1.55

So it looks like the U.S.S.R. didn't do all that badly economically, considering that it was starting from a point that was, as Stalin put it, fifty years behind "the advanced countries". (I don't know how good the reference class I chose was; if you have objections, you're probably right.)

Incidentally, Venezuela's rapid growth in GDP per capita during this period seems to be the result of successfully exploiting oil reserves.

I certainly agree that the Bolsheviks ended up with an absolutely horrible human rights record, though. There had been a history of famines in Russia caused by droughts and by wars, but yes, that particular disaster was indeed the direct result of Soviet policies.

Comment author: asr 08 June 2012 12:58:16PM *  3 points [-]

I would be interested to know how you measure GDP in a place that didn't have a market economy. Any Soviet economic figures from 1950 would be in Rubles. The official exchange rate was a bureaucratic fiction not tied to any market assessment of value. So how do you compare Rubles to dollars?

The linked-to data tables don't have a lot of notes about their sources.

Comment author: gwern 08 June 2012 08:15:01PM 2 points [-]

There are many clever ways to try to get a grip on a GDP; one method used these days in Africa and for North Korea (as well as to estimate corruption in official figures) is to measure energy usage or if that is too hard to estimate, simple night light emission via satellite. I believe the CIA used many different metrics in its various estimation.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 June 2012 04:34:23PM *  1 point [-]

Apparently, it's hard.

I don't know where Angus Maddison got his data either, but he was apparently the leading expert on this sort of thing...

Comment author: bramflakes 06 June 2012 03:35:22PM 6 points [-]

Does this take into account that with greater intelligence, it's easier to find clever rationalizations to avoid having to change your mind?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 06 June 2012 04:40:03PM *  3 points [-]

1) More generally, what if more intelligent people are more resistant to some biases, but equally prone to other biases? Then in opinions of more intelligent people we would see less of the former biases, but perhaps more of the latter biases; and also more of the correct answers. The exact values would depend on exact numbers in models.

Example model: Imagine that a person must first avoid an error A, then an error B, until they reach the correct conclusion C. The chance of making the error A is 70% for average person, 50% for intelligent person; the chance of making the error B is 90% for average person, 80% for an intelligent person.

Results for average people: 70% A, 27% B, 3% C. Results for intelligent people: 50% A, 40% B, 10% C. Possible interpretation: B is the correct answer, because here the difference is largest: 13%. (C is obviously a small minority even among intelligent people, so we can explain it away e.g. by signalling.)

2) Intelligence can correlate with something, e.g. education, which may be a source of new errors. Not necessarily new kinds of biases, just new ways to apply the same old biases. For example the "quantum mysterious consciousness" explanations will be more popular among more educated people, less educated will instead use words "spirits" and "magic" to explain the same concept.

3) An intelligent person can easily confuse "opinions of me and my friends" with "opinions of intelligent people". Because how do most intelligent-and-proud-of-it people judge the intelligence of others? In my experience, usually by similarity of opinions.

EDIT: Does author really give questionaires and IQ tests to large enough samples of randomly selected people? In other words, even if we trust the authors premises, should be trust his specific results too?

Comment author: gwern 06 June 2012 05:38:42PM 2 points [-]

1) More generally, what if more intelligent people are more resistant to some biases, but equally prone to other biases? Then in opinions of more intelligent people we would see less of the former biases, but perhaps more of the latter biases; and also more of the correct answers. The exact values would depend on exact numbers in models.

For what it's worth (and as I've commented previously on that blog), in reading on heuristics & biases, I've encountered biases which inversely correlate minimally with intelligence like sunk cost, but I don't believe I have seen any biases which correlated with increasing intelligence.

EDIT: Does author really give questionaires and IQ tests to large enough samples of randomly selected people?

How large is 'large enough'? Think of political polling - how many samples do they need to extrapolate to the general population?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 06 June 2012 07:55:38PM 0 points [-]

I don't believe I have seen any biases which correlated with increasing intelligence.

My guess would be reversing stupidity, and searching for a difficult solution when a simple one exists. Both are related to signalling intelligence. On the other hand, I guess many intelligent people don't self-diagnose as intelligent, so perhaps those biases would be only strong in Mensa and similar places.

But I was more thinking about one bias appearing stronger when a bias in another direction is eliminated. For example bias X makes people think A, bias Y makes people think B, if a person is under influence of both biases, the answer is randomly A or B. In such case, eliminating bias X leads to increase of answer B.

How large is 'large enough'?

Depending on what certainty of answer is required. Before convincing people "you should believe X, because this is what smart people believe" I would like to be at least 95% certain, because this kind of argument is rather offensive towards opponents.

Comment author: gwern 06 June 2012 09:34:54PM *  2 points [-]

But I was more thinking about one bias appearing stronger when a bias in another direction is eliminated. For example bias X makes people think A, bias Y makes people think B, if a person is under influence of both biases, the answer is randomly A or B. In such case, eliminating bias X leads to increase of answer B.

Biases don't have clear 'directions' often. If you are overconfident on a claim P, that's just as accurate as saying you were underconfident on claim ~P. Similarly for anchoring or priming - if you anchor on the random number generator while estimating number of African nations, whether you look "over" or "under" is going to depend on whether the RNG was spitting out 1-50 or 100-200, perhaps.

I would like to be at least 95% certain

And what does that mean? If you just want to know 'what do smart people in general believe versus normal people', you don't need large samples if you can get a random selection and your questions are each independent. For example, in my recent Wikipedia experiment I removed only 100 links and 3 were reverted; when I put that into a calculator for a Bernouilli distribution, I get 99% certainty that the true reversion rate is 0-7%. So to simplify considerably, if you sampled 100 smart people and 100 dumb people and they differ by 14%, is that enough certainty for you?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 07 June 2012 08:01:52AM *  0 points [-]

So to simplify considerably, if you sampled 100 smart people and 100 dumb people and they differ by 14%, is that enough certainty for you?

I am not good at statistics, but I guess yes. Especially if those 100 people are really randomly selected, which in the given situation they were.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 June 2012 08:15:56PM *  1 point [-]

Results for average people: 70% A, 27% B, 3% C. Results for intelligent people: 50% A, 40% B, 10% C. Possible interpretation: B is the correct answer, because here the difference is largest: 13%.

Wouldn't it make more sense to use odds ratios than probability differences?

Comment author: Filipe 06 June 2012 09:01:14PM *  -1 points [-]

Not only it makes more sense, but it is the approach adopted by Zietsman. Please check my answer below.

Comment author: Filipe 06 June 2012 06:08:10PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you for your interest in the matter.

1) I think even in your example model, the answer chosen by the method would still be C, the correct conclusion, for, as the author says, "The percentage of smart and dull groups choosing each answer is compared and the largest ratio of the smart to dull percentages is the Smart Vote."(emphasis added) As you see, it's not the difference (a subtraction) that matters, but the ratio: A = 50/70 ~ 0.71 B = 40/27 ~ 1.6 C = 10/3 ~ 3.3 Thus, C > B > A.

2) and 3) I don't grok totally Regression Analysis yet (dropped out College, akrasia+depression won), but he emphasises in many comments that he controls for many variables such as income, education, to avoid non-cognitive motivations (I'm not sure this is the right term, but I hope you understand me) and only get the 'smart' decisions.

Regarding biases, he once gave an answer to User:gwern who once commented on his blog, that even though it is true that even bright people are prone to some biases as everyone else, still in these cases they're a little bit less prone, so what counts is the 'trend' from the dumb to the smart. In his words:

"In cases like the sunk cost fallacy high IQ people usually make mistakes like everyone else. The point however is that on average they make them less often. Typically you see stuff like 70% of a smart group get it wrong but 90% of the dull group do. That trend, and not the % correct, is what points to the better answer.

I have a big collection of common logical mistakes people make (gleaned from Tversky & Kahneman mostly, but also many others). On all those I've tried so far - including the sunk cost fallacy - the brighter group does quite a bit better, even though most still get them wrong. Contrary to what you are saying here the Smart Vote does particularly well on such fallacies."

Regarding the question posed in the EDIT, he seems to use the General Social Survey (GSS). According to Wikipedia ,

"The General Social Survey (GSS) is a sociological survey used to collect data on demographic characteristics and attitudes of residents of the United States. The survey is conducted face-to-face with an in-person interview by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, of a randomly-selected sample of adults (18+) who are not institutionalized. The survey was conducted every year from 1972 to 1994 (except in 1979, 1981, and 1992). Since 1994, it has been conducted every other year. The survey takes about 90 minutes to administer. As of 2010 28 national samples with 55,087 respondents and 5,417 variables had been collected. The data collected about this survey includes both demographic information and respondent's opinions on matters ranging from government spending to the state of race relations to the existence and nature of God. Because of the wide range of topics covered, and the comprehensive gathering of demographic information, survey results allow social scientists to correlate demographic factors like age, race, gender, and urban/rural upbringing with beliefs, and thereby determine whether, for example, an average middle-aged black male respondent would be more or less likely to move to a different U.S. state for economic reasons than a similarly situated white female respondent; or whether a highly educated person with a rural upbringing is more likely to believe in a transcendent God than a person with an urban upbringing and only a high-school education."

So, yes, I think it's a fairly comprehensive and diverse sample.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 06 June 2012 08:04:26PM 3 points [-]

Thanks, this seems fair.

Is there an example of "politically correct" beliefs? Such as "everything is learned, heredity is a myth". I would suspect intelligent people more prone to this kind of beliefs, because they are associated with education and they require more complex explanation -- both is opportunity to signal intelligence.

Comment author: Filipe 06 June 2012 08:53:58PM *  -1 points [-]

It seems most of his analyses are on political opinions, not on matters of fact. The one exception seems to be on the existence of God, where the smart vote was on agnosticism, which is not exactly "politically correct", but would signal intelligence.

Now, some of the political positions are PC, such as support for Gay Rights, for Immigration, and opposition to Death Penalty. The position on welfare state seems very un-PC, though ("doesn’t think is really a state responsibility but is not opposed to some welfare spending so long as the country can afford it"). The total support for abortion doesn't seem PC at all either, at least it isn't in Brazil.

It is important to note that those people were answering a survey, so signalling isn't that strong a factor as it would be if they were talking of their position to, say, their work colleagues.

Comment author: gwern 06 June 2012 04:07:38PM 1 point [-]

But is that an issue when you first start thinking about a topic...?

Comment author: bramflakes 06 June 2012 08:39:09PM 3 points [-]

Perhaps not absolutely, but many topics, especially political ones, are connected to beliefs people already have and vigorously defend. Introduce a new topic that people haven't heard of before, and what will likely happen is that they'll round it to the nearest thing that corresponds in their current worldview.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 June 2012 06:41:36AM *  3 points [-]

A key problem of most people thinking about policy is I think mind projection fallacy. Is there evidence that intelligent people are significantly better at avoiding it?

If not one should expect intelligent people to make excellent and reasonable policy suggestions that however will fail and produce disturbing (to them) unexpected consequences when implemented because, most people simply won't respond as they assume they will. When planning social norms or laws people of average intelligence have the advantage of having a better model of how regular people will behave.

Comment author: Filipe 07 June 2012 01:28:06PM -1 points [-]

A key problem of most people thinking about policy is I think mind projection fallacy. Is there evidence that intelligent people are significantly better at avoiding it?

As it has been said, sometimes smart people are pretty prone to some biases almost like anybody else, but even in those cases they're always at least a little better (or 'less bad') than dumb people. And it is the dumb-smart trend, not the percentage, which will point to the better answer. So, no, they need not be significantly better at avoiding certain biases, including mind projection fallacy.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 June 2012 02:28:45PM *  3 points [-]

I'm not sure I understand your argument.

That point was about that high IQ people not having a good understanding of how low IQ people will respond to their preferred policies, while low IQ people have a very good idea of how others like them will respond. High intelligence isn't magic, one still needs to have information. Cognitive stratification is a very real and growing trend. If one is an outlier among one's friends one is very likely to change their opinion to match theirs.

To see how this has played out consider some of the social policies implemented in the past 40 years that where favoured by those with high IQ. They seem to remarkably often result in very little social pathology for those with high IQ, but quite a bit for those with low IQ. A great example of this is the sexual revolution.

Comment author: CharlieSheen 07 June 2012 02:46:48PM *  5 points [-]

There are analyses on issues such as Abortion, Free Speech ,Capital Punishment and Corporal Punishments on Children ,Immigration, Gay Rights and many more.

Reading those positions and this post has now enlightened me by helping me realize that Liberals happen to be right about everything. We know they are right because smarter people tend to favour Liberal policies. It seems remarkable that they are right about everything except maybe censoring racist and sexist speech. I guess even smart humans make a few mistakes on average.

Since our civilization has consistently marched leftward for oh 200 or so years, we need not worry about uFAI. Our whole society is already working as a CEV machine! I guess it is an emergent property of sticking hundreds of millions of human brains together in a structure they don't fully understand.

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 12:17:13AM 1 point [-]

Upvoted for trolling in an amusing way.

Comment author: Filipe 07 June 2012 03:30:02PM *  -1 points [-]

If you read the session on Welfare, you'll find it's pretty not liberal. So a mere liberal mistaken position on welfare + censoring certain views on racism and sexism (if some of those happen to be right) could be damning to civilization. Besides, theocracy and totaliarism are not only alive - take Islamic countries, with their huge populational growth - but coming back in a lot of places, like Venezuela or Turkey.

Now, I guess that some Liberal positions such as favoring Gay Rights and Abortions are the more reasonable shoudn't be really surprising among smart people, and I'm sure they're among the majority here, too.

Comment author: Jonathan_Graehl 14 July 2012 07:35:29PM *  1 point [-]

I see no mention in this summary of controlling for PC and other signaling.

His entire premise should only be expected to apply where beliefs have to pay rent, e.g. in a prediction market.

[edit] I see this is an old discussion, and that Konkvistador raised my broad point already.

Comment author: Manfred 06 June 2012 07:38:45PM *  1 point [-]

An obvious objection would be that smart people would have in many cases common interests

Huh, that's not what I expected. I expected (okay, hoped for) the analogy to politics, where people at different levels of intelligence are actually solving different problems, leading to a breakdown of the assumptions.

Comment author: Filipe 06 June 2012 08:27:17PM *  -1 points [-]

How come? If you mean they would solve different problems due to different levels of education, or income, I think the regression analysis was meant to handle those. If you have another thing in mind, I'm afraid I don't understand you.

Comment author: Manfred 06 June 2012 10:20:25PM 1 point [-]

Consider someone dumb but politically opinionated. What problem are they solving? Tribal affiliation, probably. As a by-product, their political actions are practically directed by the leaders of the tribe.

Now consider someone a bit less dumb who happens to have just enough inspiration to try to solve the problem of what actually works, rather than tribal affiliation. I think it entirely reasonable that this slight increase in inspiration can actually reduce the effectiveness of policies advocated, if the problem is confusing. Sure, the tribe leaders aren't going to make great decisions, because they're solving a problem of inter-tribe politics rather than just what works. But it's entirely possible to do worse, and many people will.

So you're going to see strange signals in the data as people become smart enough to question the ordinary, fail, do better, and find new things to question. At no point are you really sure if smart people are solving the same problem better, or just failing at a new and interesting question. You can work out some good guesses, though I guess this would depend on the nitty-gritty of what the signals look like.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 June 2012 10:27:33PM 1 point [-]

Sure, the tribe leaders aren't going to make great decisions, because they're solving a problem of inter-tribe politics rather than just what works.

I would have said "intra-tribe".

Comment author: Filipe 06 June 2012 11:11:14PM *  -1 points [-]

Ah! Indeed, without the distributions - from dumb to smart -, one can't be much certain. However, in many (if not all) cases he doesn't merely calculate what the smart vote is. He analyses and interprets it, and in a very artful way (the guy is smart), although sometimes art is not really necessary, e.g. as in an graph of an increasing monotonical dumb-smart function.

Anyway, you do raise an obvious problem: even if a graph dumb-smart represented something like a monotonic function, how would one know that, after a while, eg. at the 300 IQ point, there isn't going to be a radical change?

Comment author: gwern 06 June 2012 11:39:43PM 0 points [-]

Current IQ tests are pretty meaningless past >160, so as long as this works in the 70-160 range, we're fine.

Comment author: Filipe 06 June 2012 11:45:52PM *  -1 points [-]

That we cannot measure intelligence reliably after a certain point does not imply that there are not (infinite?) levels of intelligence after it. There are certainly - at least theoretically - levels of fluid intelligence that correspond to IQs of 170, 180, 300..., and it was in this theoretical sense that I raised my question.