IQ is positively correlated with following social norms. The smarter a person is, the more likely he is to endeavor to behave the way his group expects him to behave. The end result is what I call smart people groupthink. All the smart people user their high intelligence to figure out what other smart people think, and then duplicate their mode of thinking.
Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group. During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight.
There are two related concepts. The first is social learning theory. Once again, from Wikipedia:
Social learning theory is the theory that people learn new behavior through overt reinforcement or punishment, or via observational learning of the social actors in their environment. If people observe positive, desired outcomes in the observed behavior, they are more likely to model, imitate, and adopt the behavior themselves.
The second concept is information cascades. From Wikipedia:
An information (or informational) cascade occurs when people observe the actions of others and then make the same choice that the others have made, independently of their own private information signals. Because it is usually sensible to do what other people are doing, the phenomenon is assumed to be the result of rational choice. Nevertheless, information cascades can sometimes lead to arbitrary or even erroneous decisions.
John Tierney wrote about information cascades in his NY Times blog.
An information cascade is what happens before an idea becomes groupthink.
I have identified three important cases of erroneous smart people groupthink: (1) denial of HBD; (2) the belief that dietary cholesterol causes heart attacks; and (3) belief in global warming.
All of these groupthink ideas are leading to bad government policies. Bad policies are an example of the first symptom of groupthink:
1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
For example, global warming believers, completely sure of their beliefs (despite the vast majority of believers not being physicists, chemists, meteorologists, or any other type of scientist), push through government policies to lower carbon dioxide emissions, without any concern for how many hundreds of billions of dollars such policies might cost.
The reason I don’t put my name on my blog is because of symptoms four and five:
4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty".
People who speak the truth about HBD are called racists, and that has come to mean the most evil thing you can possibly be. There is direct pressure to conform because people who speak the truth about HBD are often punished with loss of jobs. In the case of people who speak out against global warming, they are now being called "cranks."
How do you fight against smart people groupthink? You have to create an information cascade going in the other direction. The reason people in the HBD community were excited about the James Watson incident is that we hoped it would lead to other prominent smart people agreeing with him, creating an HBD information cascade. But that never happened. Watson was called racist, or stupid in his old age, and he was punished with loss of his job. Instead of spreading the truth about HBD, it taught people that they had better conform to the group orthodoxy or face sanction. That's an example of social learning.
Hopefully, bloggers who write about HBD can set the stage for an information cascade that will ultimately work and displace the erroneous HBD-denial groupthink.
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Religions, such as Christianity (only being singled out because it’s the primary religion in the United States), are an example of groupthink but not currently of smart people groupthink because the higher one’s IQ the less likely one is to believe in Christianity.