Saturday, January 19, 2013

Are all people equal?

The other day I posted a Facebook status update which read,”Here is a question. Do you think the human species is getting dumber? Smart people are not having as many children as stupid people. Do you think that in the next few hundred years, our collective IQ will drop?”

With such a controversial question, I saw more than the usual responses. Many of the respondents said that if one is measuring smarts by test scores on IQ tests alone, then we have been getting progressively smarter since about the 1930’s. A few people mentioned the Flynn effect. The thing about social network comments is that the subject matters shoot off like branches of a tree, taking on a life of their own.

One person wrote: “You need this in a capitalist economy to keep a large supply of cheap labor. A society where everyone is equally smart and educated is not compatible with capitalism.” I had always thought the same thing, but never lingered over the thought enough to sit down and actually write about it. This topic is an emotionally charged. We live in a modern world where the message is that anyone can become whatever they want if they are willing to work hard enough for it.

Working hard enough unfortunately is not enough to prosper, especially when you just so happen to be part of that cheap labor. Cheap labor can work from sunrise to sunset and still live hand to mouth. In a capitalist society, these people will be lucky to have any retirement or healthcare. People must be able to work hard and work smart. Translation: use an ax to chop wood, not a hammer. I went online to find what other people had to say about working smarter and not harder, this is what I found --> LINK

Another commenter wrote, “Actually IQ is a relative value based on the population being measured. So statistically speaking, there is no way that collective IQ can either drop or increase.”  

The purpose of this blog is to contrast the two comments, because I think both of them have merit. 

The Australian Aborigines’ have a world view entirely different from our own, everything from language, time and space are different from what Westerners know. Ask an aboriginal child to point north, and they will be able to do it consistently without error. Ask a British child to point north, and they will have to look at street and maybe an address. The Aboriginal child has an innate sense of direction, something highly valued in their culture but something that IQ tests do not test. In this sense, the commenter on cultural bias is correct, if we take the approach that all cultures are equal. Herein we run into a problem.

I have been listening to an audio book Why The West Rules For Now, by Ian Morris. Morris wrote a big history encompassing the dawn of early humans, ancient civilizations, middle ages, to present day with a chapter conjecturing about the future.

In the words of the author - "History is not one damn thing after another, it is a single grand and relentless process of adaptations to the world that always generate new problems (in the form of disease, famine, climate change, migration and state failure) that call for further adaptations. And each breakthrough came not as a result of tinkering but as a result of desperate times, calling for desperate measures."

Free will, culture and fatalism are wildcards that can hinder or stimulate progress. In other words, necessity is the mother of invention. Difficult situations encourage inventive solutions. The people being exploited by large companies are often trapped by both culture, fatalism and a lack of opportunities  As we see education and opportunities available to all people equally, we will see a move away from exploitation and a move towards socialism. 

He articulates the Morris Theorem: "Change is caused by lazy, greedy, frightened people looking for easier, more profitable and safer ways to do things. And they rarely know what they're doing.”  From the gathering in caves for collective warmth to the development of the steam engine and even the internet you are using to read this, these changes came about through the ingenuity of people following the great ideas of the time in order to make life easier, safer, and more beneficial. When I think of the Morris Theorem, I think of that wonderful invention – the remote control. People are so lazy that they cannot get off their bottoms to change the television. They need to sit on their sofa and do it.

As we can see, this article already branched off, taking on a life of its own. We started from IQ changes, to capitalism, to cultural relativism, to history. Allow me the opportunity to tie it all up in a knot, and revisit the previous comment which read: “You need this in a capitalist economy to keep a large supply of cheap labor. A society where everyone is equally smart and educated is not compatible with capitalism.”

The original question I asked was if IQ’s were dropping. The evidence suggests that IQ’s have been rising since the 1930’s. However, it is a fact that stupid people breed more than intelligent people. The contention are in the terms “stupid people” and "low IQ". By using it, I offended half of my readers because the word elicits value judgments about human beings. Human beings who do not want to be considered stupid, even though they do all the things that stupid people do, like make poor choices, manage their money poorly, and snub their noses at the educational institutions available to help them. Putting our feelings aside, lets examine the facts. What do we know about the cheap labor force? Are they highly educated? How about their skills? How useful are they as managers, leaders, and idea creators? This is not to say that their lives are not valuable  this is merely saying that they cannot do many jobs simply because they do not have the skill, education or knowledge. If they all did, who would be our cheap labor force? And, can we have the same goods, at the same prices, without economic exploitation of cheap labor? If we are honest with ourselves, we will know that it is in the best interest of capitalism to maintain an ignorant mass of cheap labor. It is cruel. There is no doubt about it. 

Evidence suggests on a broad basis, society does appear to consider one person, or a group of people to be more important and valuable than others. Yet, the wisdom of the masses is often flawed. (example: religion, astrology, numerology, and other things people believe without any corroborating evidence). There is a prevailing tendency to view people with dichotomous lenses. Take for example George W. Bush's bold declaration that “you are with us or against us”. At the most basic level this divides the world into no more than 'Cowboys' and 'Indians', and as every child knows, the cowboys always win. Using this analogy I would suggest that broadly speaking the Cowboys are the white middle and upper classes that have dominated Western society right from the age of Classical Greece through to the present day. If you disagree, think about how closely money is connected to power and who has, and who has always had, the majority of it. And the Indians are everyone else. They are the African American slaves; the native people of a great number of nations; the poor inhabitants of the third world; and increasingly the innocent civilians of the Middle East and North Africa, whose deaths are regarded as collateral damage both by Western military forces and the terrorists who target their fellow countrymen regardless of religion.

Another dichotomous lenses we see from the MRA (men’s rights activists), they refer to the Red Pill and Blue Pill. This analogy from the Matrix holds that blue pill people are all living in someone else’s constructed reality, whereas they, those who take the red pill, are the only ones who know the truth about the world and its people. Dichotomous thinking, whether you want to call it: black or white thinking, with us or against us thinking, or red pill and blue pill thinking, is entirely flawed.

I do not know if IQ’s are dropping or on the rise. If pop culture is any indication, we are definitely getting stupider. It used to be en vogue to read literature and argue of it in coffee shops, while today it is cool to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians. When we see societies with equally smart and competent workers, we tend to see societies that are more socialist. When we find capitalist societies, like Canada, United States, Mexico, Latin America, and Asia, we will see a huge population of ignorant workers and cheap labor. Just look at the Global Equality Index. It is crystal clear: nations with the best education and skilled work forces are also socialist.

For capitalism to function, we need to exploit workers. Capitalism cannot exist without exploitation. When we compare and contrast the two previously mentioned Facebook comments, I think that both of them are right, but I also find that some of the wild cards (fatalism, culture, world views) will never be compatible with capitalism. If capitalism is not going to crash as an economic system, then all of those cultures and world views will end up sitting behind a dusty museum glass window. They will have no demonstrable function in the modern world. As more education and opportunities arrive, the less relevant the cultures will become. 

Cheap Labor Around the Globe

United States Prisons: Cheap Labor and Indentured Servitude

Dubai Cheap Labor  from Bangladesh 

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