The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One - Satoshi Kanazawa 2012
Intelligent People Are Not What You Think
By now I hope you have a very different view of intelligence and intelligent people than before you started reading this book. Yes, intelligent people have more education and do better in school, because formal education and universities, as well as many subjects taught in schools and universities, are entirely evolutionarily novel, although they may not be equally evolutionarily novel. Psychology (the study of human character and behavior) and home economics (the management of a household) are probably less evolutionarily novel than, say, trigonometry or particle physics. But studying any academic subject in school by listening to lectures, reading books, and taking written exams is evolutionarily novel.
In fact, probably all subjects taught in school are more or less evolutionarily novel, which is why we need to teach the students how to do them. We don't need to teach the students how to make friends, because it is part of human nature and everybody knows how to make friends on their own. Everybody, that is, except for intelligent people.
Yes, intelligent people make more money and attain higher status in organizations, because capitalist economy and complex organizations in which most people work today are entirely evolutionarily novel. Yes, intelligent people make better physicians, better astronauts, better scientists, and better violinists, because all of these pursuits are evolutionarily novel.
But these are all the unimportant things in life. We are not designed to be physicians, astronauts, scientists, or violinists. And intelligent people fail (or at least are no more successful than less intelligent people) in the most important things in life. They do not make better friends, they do not make better spouses and partners, and they do not make better parents, precisely because these are things that our ancestors have done for hundreds of thousands of years on the African savanna. Intelligent people—especially intelligent women—make the worst kind of parents, simply because they are least likely to be parents. And intelligent people lack common sense and have stupid ideas.
Think about it. If you had a choice, would you rather be a good brain surgeon, or a good parent? Would you rather be a good corporate executive, or a good friend?
I hope it is apparent by now that intelligence is just one of many, many traits that humans possess and on which there are individual differences, like height, weight, hair color, eye color, and many personality traits like aggressiveness and sociability. Just as intelligent people are different from less intelligent people—in both good and bad ways in most people's minds—taller people are different from shorter people, and sociable people are different from unsociable people. But we never equate any of these individual traits with human worth. We never believe that taller people or sociable people are inherently more worthy or better human beings than others who don't share their traits. (Yes, taller and better looking people make more money, but this is at least in part because they are on average more intelligent.1) That is why we don't get upset when there are observable group differences in these traits. Nobody gets upset that men are on average taller than women, and Caucasians are on average taller than Asians.
Yet, for some unfathomable reason, people treat intelligence differently. They believe (or at least act as though they believe) that intelligence is the ultimate gauge of human worth. They believe, or at least act publicly as though they believe, that everybody is or should be equally intelligent, because everybody is equally worthy as human beings. They get upset at scientific findings (by now, incontrovertible and indisputable) that show there are observable race and sex differences in intelligence. They a priori condemn such findings as racist or sexist. (Once again, as Kurzban aptly says, “It's only ’good science’ if the message is politically correct.”2) But they are no more racist than the finding that Caucasians are taller than Asians or blacks have higher blood pressure than whites; they are no more sexist than the finding that men are taller than women. Why should intelligence be any different?
Intelligent people are not at all what you think. Intelligent people are more likely to be liberal and atheistic. Why is it inherently better to be liberal and atheistic than to be conservative and religious? Intelligent people are more likely to be night owls than morning larks. Why is it inherently better to get up later in the morning (or in the afternoon) than earlier? Intelligent people are more likely to be homosexual. Why is it inherently better to be homosexual than heterosexual? Intelligent people prefer to listen to purely instrumental music than vocal music. Why is it inherently better to listen to classical music than folk music?
And more intelligent people are more likely to drink alcohol, to smoke tobacco, and to use illegal drugs. Intelligent people are more likely to binge drink and get drunk. Although this too is a value judgment, which science does not make, it seems very difficult to argue from any perspective that it is better to binge drink, get drunk, smoke cigarettes, and do drugs. Strictly from the health perspective, it is decidedly not good to drink alcohol (especially to excess), smoke tobacco, and use drugs.
And intelligent people—especially intelligent women—have fewer children and are more likely to remain childless for life than less intelligent people. Once again, whether or not to have children is a matter of personal choice, at least in western liberal societies, and it is neither better nor worse to have children than not to have children. Strictly from the perspective of your genes, however, not having children, or having fewer children than you can safely raise to sexual maturity, is the worst thing you can possibly do in your life. You are failing at the most important task in life, the one thing—the most important thing—that you are evolutionarily designed to do. More than exclusive homosexuality or listening to classical music, voluntary childlessness is the most unnatural thing that any living organism can do, including humans.
Reproductive success is the ultimate goal of all living organisms, including all humans. That is what all humans are evolutionarily designed to do. It is the meaning of life itself.3 Voluntary childlessness is therefore the greatest crime against nature, which is why intelligent people do it.
Why is the tendency to commit the greatest crime against nature the ultimate gauge of human worth?
1. Jensen and Sinha (1993); Kanazawa (2011); Kanazawa and Kovar (2004); Kanazawa and Reyniers (2009)
3. Dennett (1995); Kanazawa (2004c)