The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One - Satoshi Kanazawa 2012


I first became interested in the problem of values when I was a student of Michael Hechter's at the University of Arizona. For my Ph.D. dissertation, I pursued an old theoretical problem that Michael had been interested in for many years, the Hobbesian problem of order (How is society possible among self-interested rational actors?). However, by the time I became his student in 1989, Michael was already beginning to move on to another project. He was trying to figure out where values and preferences of human actors came from. Rational choice theory can explain human behavior very well if it assumes what humans want and desire, but it cannot explain these wants and desires themselves. Michael, a leading rational choice theorist, wanted to advance the frontiers of rational choice theory by figuring out where human values and preferences came from, by providing a theoretical explanation for them. In technical language, he was trying to endogenize values in rational choice models.

I was not involved in Michael's values project at all, but was aware of the problem that he was struggling to solve. Even though Michael and I never discussed these theoretical issues, I was able to follow the contours and directions of his current thinking from the books and journal articles that he asked me to fetch from the library. On my long walks back from the main university library to the Social Sciences building, I would peruse the books and articles he wanted to read next. Sometimes I kept them for a couple of hours so that I could finish reading them before handing them to Michael.

Neither Michael nor I (nor anyone else) solved the problem of values, but the importance of the problem stayed with me. Years later, when I discovered evolutionary psychology by reading Robert Wright's The Moral Animal, I immediately realized that evolutionary psychology provided the answer that Michael had been searching for all these years. It could explain where human values and preferences came from. This book is the result of the realization.

My first and foremost intellectual debt is therefore to Michael Hechter, who unwittingly and unintentionally made me realize the importance of the problem of values and set me on this intellectual path. But I'm not sure how happy he is with the answer that I have found.

My intellectual life in London would be entirely barren but for a small group of like-minded scientists in and around London with whom I can share our mutual interest in evolutionary psychology and intelligence research. I thank Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Bruce G. Charlton, David de Meza, Adrian Furnham, Richard Lynn, Diane J. Reyniers, Jörn Rothe, Peter D. Sozou, and in particular Jay Belsky (who has since left London for greener intellectual pastures back in the United States) for years of stimulating discussions.

Since February 2008, I have had a blog at Psychology Today called the Scientific Fundamentalist ( I've thrown out some of the ideas contained in this book initially on the blog, and they were subsequently developed, often with intellectual contributions from astute readers. I have a great team of editors at Psychology Today who have given tremendous support to me and my blog over the years. My warmest thanks go to Kaja Perina, Hara Estroff Marano, Carlin Flora, Lybi Ma, Wendy Paris, PT COO Charles Frank, PT Director of Business Development Batya Lahav, and PT CEO Jo Colman. I consider them all to be part of my extended intellectual family.

Kaja is responsible for recruiting me as one of the inaugural PT bloggers. In December 2007, “blogging” was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I had always thought that there could not possibly be any value in doing something that anyone can (and apparently does) do, and that “bloggers” were the most idiotic and self-obsessed group of people. (After four years, I have not changed my opinion of bloggers. The only people who are stupider than bloggers are people who leave anonymous comments on blogs.) With one transatlantic phone call, Kaja changed my mind and got me to agree to sign up as one of the four inaugural PT bloggers. As it turns out, to my great surprise, blogging was something I could do, and I was somewhat good at it. As usual, Kaja knew me much better than I knew myself.

In the last nine years, since Kaja became Editor-in-Chief, Psychology Today has done more to popularize and promote evolutionary psychology to the general nonacademic public than we evolutionary psychologists have done ourselves. So the scientific community of evolutionary psychologists owes a great intellectual debt of gratitude to Kaja and her superb editorial staff at Psychology Today.

A large number of friends and colleagues have made substantive contributions to this book, either as coauthors of the academic papers that constitute individual chapters in the book or generous colleagues who have taken the time to read and comment on drafts of such papers. I want to thank Jay Belsky, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, David de Meza, Ian J. Deary, Paula England, Aurelio José Figueredo, Barbara L. Finlay, Jeremy Freese, Linda S. Gottfredson, Josephine E. E. U. Hellberg, Christine Horne, Evelyn Korn, Norman P. Li, Patrick M. Markey, John D. Mayer, Andrew Oswald, Nando Pelusi, Kaja Perina, Qazi Rahman, Diane J. Reyniers, Todd K. Shackelford, Brent T. Simpson, and Pierre L. van den Berghe. Gordon G. Gallup Jr. was kind enough to read the entire book manuscript and provide extremely constructive comments. Thanks to Kipling D. Williams for giving me permission to use a picture from Cyberball in Chapter (and for inventing Cyberball in the first place).

None of my scientific research described in this book would have been possible without my formal affiliations with University College London and Birkbeck College University of London. I thank Adrian Furnham and David Shanks for offering me an honorary research fellowship in the Department of Psychology at UCL and Jay Belsky and Mike Oaksford for doing the same with the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck.

Finally, I would like to thank the pioneers in intelligence research, who have been unafraid to tell the truth in the face of political oppression and persecution. Many of them have paid tremendous personal and professional prices for their scientific integrity, but their courage has made it easier for others like me to continue their work and tell the truth. For their courageous and groundbreaking work, I thank Arthur R. Jensen, Richard Lynn, J. Philippe Rushton, Linda S. Gottfredson, Richard J. Herrnstein, Charles Murray, and Helmuth Nyborg. I am proud to count many of them among my personal friends and colleagues.

On 15 October 2001, in front of the building in Washington DC that houses the American Enterprise Institute, Charles Murray calmly told me that it would ultimately be my personal choice what kind of work I do, whether I succumb to the public pressure or pursue the truth no matter what the cost. For him personally, Charles continued, the life and career would not be worth living unless one told the truth. I was then too young, too inexperienced, too untenured, and too afraid to appreciate his wisdom. But I now know he was right. E pur si muove.