The Winners are the Clever

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Moldbug returns to explain how our society works:

Our whole society works by picking the kids who do the best on tests, hazing them in high school so they hate jocks and cheerleaders, sending them to college where they learn to be bureaucrats, and funneling them into gigantic, incompetent institutions that misrule the entire planet. Unless they’re good at math, in which case they end up in Silicon Valley.

At every stage of this tournament, the winners are the clever. The professors at Harvard have higher IQs than the professors at Notre Dame. The journalists at the NYT have higher IQs than the reporters at the SF Chronicle. They all need a lot of other bureaucratic skills to get ahead, of course. But they assume — simply because they’re the smartest — that they’re the best. Are they? Look at the results.

It’s true that a high IQ is useful in almost every field, including government. In no field is it sufficient. A much more important qualification is a clue.


  1. Handle says:

    Reminds me of the structure of the argument in Nozick’s “Why do intellectuals oppose capitalism?

  2. Isegoria says:

    This is the passage from Nozick that I cited years ago, and it does seem apropos:

    The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later. Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements. The school system thereby produces anti-capitalist feeling among intellectuals.

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    “Why do intellectuals oppose capitalism?” was just recently also a topic on the Free Thoughts podcast. Both the mp3 and transcript of that can be found here. They discuss the left-leaning tendencies of public intellectuals and examine said essay by Robert Nozick, which proposes a cause for this trend.

  4. A Boy and His Dog says:

    IQism implies moral weakness or failure among those with lower IQs. After all, if someone loses their manufacturing job, they can ‘just study some more’ and get a new job in a globally competitive industry. (An Economics PhD for example.) If they don’t do that it’s their own fault, not the fault of inherent cognitive differences (which nobody believes in anyway) and leadership that doesn’t give a damn about their problems. Leaders have no responsibility to try and protect those who aren’t cut out to go to Brown and work at NPR because those peoples’ situation is their own failure.

    Basically IQism is a repugnant ideology.

  5. Jeff R. says:

    And yet, where does Moldy choose to make his abode? Probably not in low-rent East Oakland.

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