Garett Jones’ Hive Mind

How your Nation’s IQ Matters so Much More than Your Own

I conjecture that the precise meaning of the subtitle is that over the worlds total population, the correlation of one’s standard of living (SOL) with one’s intelligence is less than the correlation of one’s SOL with one’s nation’s average intelligence.

Of course the personal IQ to SOL correlation over a nation, is not the same as the correlation over the world. That is the distinction made by the qualification “other things held constant”.

L 97: Win-win
It is not immediate that proclivity to win-win and IQ are highly correlated. I can imagine that they are. That is an interesting observation.

L 244: I suggest an hypothesis: The average SOL of an individual in a nation is even more closely correlated with the 3rd quartile of the IQs of that nation. (The IQ of someone that is smarter than ¾ of the rest of that nation) Jones addresses this question in the conclusion (L 2526).

L 250: “Members of society all draw on that collective intelligence, they all get benefits from the hive mind that they never pay for, benefits that, by my lights at least, they don’t deserve.”

I would say that the members draw on the fruits of individual intelligence of others. Such a perspective is more compatible with the concept of division of labor. I agree that we are smarter thru shared intelligence as well. But heterogeneous intelligence is even better than homogeneous intelligence.

L: 256: Among channels by which IQ benefits: “High-scoring groups tend to be more cooperative. And cooperation is a key ingredient for building higher-quality governments and more productive businesses.” Agreed. I sometimes claim that the US is rich because we are civil to each other. Nearly the same thing.

L 495: I have been aware of a social bias against speaking of IQ in the last few decades. I am pleased to hear modern numbers in its defense.

L 1144: “environmental degradation is a form of spending down national wealth.” So is mining copper.

L 1293: Typo: “investors can’t send”/“investors can’t sent”
L 1642: Typo “skills pay off on the battlefield”/“skills pay of on the battlefield”

L 1681: I knew Coase’s theorem but Jones’ description is about the best I have read.

L 2035: Tendency to conformance. Perhaps the conformers suspected that they misunderstood the question.

L 2324: “It’s that the memory skills and other traits that higher-IQ individuals tend to have are useful in searching out win-win possibilities, so it would be a great surprise if that didn’t happen in the lab and out in the real world.” A good summary of much of the book.

I differ a bit from Jones in that I think the productivity of a team may depend more on the IQ of the most intelligent member than that on the least intelligent member. (The “O-ring theory”) The immediate screwups are more likely due to the low IQ, but the systematic fixes are due to the high IQs. Both are important. Another factor is diversity of talent. This can take on many forms: mathematical talent, physical intuition, interpersonal relations, market savvy, etc. This is called “synergy”. It is one of the evolutionary pressures for language. Sometimes diversity of talent, in a team, counts for more than total talent.

L 2371: Concerning the “O-ring” phenomena: The original Challenger O-ring disaster was a one-of-a-kind sort of thing. Computer chips are even more dependent on very many complex parts working flawlessly, but we build 108 of them. We built only about 101 rocket systems. Experience counts. We built very many failing chips before we began to build the good ones. Protection against screwups in the production line is elaborate in the extreme. Still, I grant that Intel probably pays that clean room janitors more than other janitors.

L 2386: Regarding the “LOOP” principle, (or how prices get set). I think that I was about 7 years old when I asked my dad how prices got set. He explained about supply and demand. I remember being astonished and surprised about the obviousness of the idea. I remember also that it had not occurred to me and that was astonishing. I suspect now that it has never been understood by quite a few fairly intelligent people. Or if it has then they so dislike the idea that the spend careers trying to improve on it. (Marx)

L 2418: I find plausible Jones’ theory of new immigrant workers pushing middle skill workers up the ladder. It is somewhat swamped by the rate of automation, however.

L 2433: Comparing the GDP of high and low IQ countries must take into account cultural issues. I view India and China as a high IQ countries but only recently have their cultures begun to tolerate and even welcome the entrepreneur. Earlier, creative destruction was seen as unnecessary or a job for the state.

L 2439:

This ignores the slope of the demand curve for O-ring workers—admittedly a small effect.