The Morphing Ethical System in the U.S.

A study of how the Righteousness vs. Guilt ethical structure of the West was able to have been undermined and overturned.

Readership: All
Length: 2,100 words
Reading Time: 7 minutes


Over the past two years or so, conversations in the sphere have turned from being focused on questions of morality, agency, and motivations, to issues of hierarchies, power structures, and cost/benefit analysis. This is no accident, but is indicative of a reaction to how the ethical structure has changed within the wider culture.

This essay takes a closer look at these changes.

Over two years ago, The Aquila Report reblogged a paywalled article from Christianity Today, Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most (2017 May 27) [1]. This article cited a study from LifeWay Research, Americans Want to Avoid Shame, Make Their Loved Ones Proud (2017 May 23), that reported what motivates the social behaviors of Americans.

“Shame has become particularly powerful in American culture in the internet age, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. A single mistake or embarrassing moment posted on social media can ruin a person’s life.”

“What’s our biggest cultural fear? Shame,” he said. “What’s surprising is not that personal freedom, ambition, and doing the right thing are valued by Americans. It’s that risk to our reputation is what matters most.”

“Researchers asked 1,000 Americans three questions to discover their feelings about fear, shame, guilt, and other issues.”

“Overall, 38 percent of Americans say they avoid shame the most, while 31 percent say guilt and 30 percent say fear.

Education and age play a role in which feelings Americans avoid. Those with graduate degrees (44%) are more likely to avoid shame than those with high school diplomas or less (34%). Americans ages 25 to 34 avoid guilt (37%) more than those 55 and older (27%). Middle-aged Americans—those 35 to 54—are the most likely age group to worry about shame (44%).

In addition to education (which is a proxy indicator of socio-economic class) and age, religious affiliation makes a difference too.

Nones—those who claim no religious identity—avoid guilt (35%) more than those who are religious (30%). Those who are religious avoid shame (39%) more than nones (33%). Those from non-Christian faiths are most likely to avoid shame (48%).

When it comes to what Americans with evangelical beliefs avoid most, 34 percent say guilt, 34 percent say fear, and 32 percent say shame. For Americans worshiping at least once a month, 37 percent say shame, 32 percent say fear, and 31 percent say guilt. (The findings were not significantly different from non-evangelicals or non-worshipers.)

It is interesting that shame is the biggest concern of church-goers, while shame is the weakest motivator among the general populace. The fact that the consciousness of shame increases with the frequency of church attendance leads us to question the overall effect that participating in organized religion has on a person.

The author notes that shame has not been a significant social motivator since the 1830’s, and I’ll point out that this happened to be a particularly godless age in American history.

Shifting Ethical Structures

The author failed to mention that fear, shame, and guilt are not only social motivators, they are also the three main categorical ethical structures that are manifested within the various cultures of the world.

Western Christianized cultures have adhered predominantly to a Righteousness vs. Guilt (RvG) ethical system. But in recent times, the combined influences of social media, feminist ideology, and globalism have produced a gradual shift away from this ethical structure, while the two other ethical systems, Power vs. Fear (PvF), and Honor vs. Shame (HvS), have made impressive advances into western culture. The report cited above shows that the three systems of cultural ethics are now neck-to-neck in competing with each other in the U.S.A.

I’ve written about ethical systems before in Foundations of Cultural Ethics and Chivalry (2018-2-18). If you’re unfamiliar with cultural ethics, then you may want to read this post before continuing. I’ll reiterate the relevant aspects here within the specific context.


The Primary Concerns of the Different Ethical Structures

Here we’ll take a glance at certain elements of each ethical system, to see how they play against each other.

Righteousness vs. Guilt (RvG)

People who abide in a RvG system are intensely interested in moral agency, because the degree to which a person possesses it, is directly proportional to the appropriate amount of guilt (or innocence) that should be ascribed to the person in question. Thus, the social practice of determining agency is a natural socio-psychological process of those operating within a RvG system in which social status and virtue are assigned on the basis of one’s innocence and righteousness.

Rollo and Donal Graeme have discussed the question of the degree of moral agency that females possess. I doubt that either Rollo or Donal Graeme are aware that their prerogative of ascertaining moral agency directly follows the RvG ethical structure, in which motives and responsibilities are fundamental necessities in establishing the social order. But the implicit purpose of asking this question of female agency is to discern the appropriateness of certain female behaviors, and thus, which behaviors should be considered ‘acceptable’ and which should not. Moreover, in searching out the assignations of agency, they are attempting to rebuild a culture based on the RvG ethical system.

Donal Graeme and Rollo are certainly not alone in their preponderances on agency. The fact that Graeme’s post, Moral Agency in Women Revisited (2013 March 11) is one of his all-time top-ranked posts, stands as a testament of how important the question of agency is to those in a RvG culture.

However, the answers to these questions concerning agency could never be definitively circumscribed. I might guess that this is because the majority of those living in Western culture no longer adhere to the RvG system. In other words, it’s a false/dead question with no real world application and therefore no discernable true answer. This incoherency also explains the lackluster response that this question has received in the comments sections.

guilt-shame rubric

Honor vs. Shame (HvS)

People living in a HvS system are intensely interested in heritage, titles, positions of authority, wealth, and social status, because the person’s standing indicates the appropriate level of honor or shame that should be ascribed to the person in question. This seems to agree with the findings of the above study that highly educated and religious individuals are more sensitive to shame.

The thing is, the type of shame relevant to the HvS system is an outward, socially perceived shame, and not a true, internal sense of shame. Thus, if Christians buy into the HvS system, they may be more sensitive to public opinion, rather than to their internal convictions. This fully explains why many leading pastors are caught up in social trends and worldly philosophies, instead of remaining faithful to the Word of God. Those of us who have been following the Christian ‘sphere (i.e. Dalrock, et al.) have already noticed this difference a few years ago, and we have come to label such pastors and churches “converged”. It also explains why the age-old practice of s1ut shaming has become a taboo, even when it is well deserved.

In a mixed system, the HvS system tends to dominate the RvG system. Tribal and religious loyalties will be considered the highest natural authority and will, over time, usurp the altruistic trust-based, law-oriented authority of the standing RvG system. Thus, Democratic institutions will ultimately be rendered inept in the competition and will fall hostage to feudal-oriented, tribal-minded political warlords. This explains why democracy is currently breaking down.

As I’m sure readers have already noticed, the vast majority of “refugees” emigrating to North America and Europe over the last two decades come from a HvS culture (i.e. Muslim). Thus, it can be understood why they continue to maintain their feudal identities and refuse to assimilate into their host cultures. This also explains why they fail to revere and conform to law and order, which is a social construct of the RvG system, and is especially emphasized in anglophonic nations.

Moreover, the refusal of these immigrants to submit to customary law has the strong potential to upset the standing order and foment large scale violence, especially as their numbers grow to a critical momentum, which according to scientific studies is approximately 10% of the population. [Note: The overall rate of immigration since the Hart-Cellar act of 1964 has now surpassed 14%.] These groups tend to cluster in urban metropolises, and some of these communities now recently have surpassed 30% or more of the local population. This situation is a powderkeg waiting to blow.

Power vs. Fear (PvF)

People living within a PvF system are intensely interested in the pecking order within any particular group of confederates, because the order of seniority determines the consideration and respect that each person in question should be granted. Furthermore, every social interaction between even two people, one must play the role of the mentor/administrator/leader/alpha, and the other must adopt the role of the student/assistant/follower/beta. No meaningful social interaction can transpire until these social conventions have first been established somehow.

The whole concept of 4th Wave Intersectional Feminism is to construct a different ethical system of social rank based on one’s level of ‘oppression’. It plays on the inherent weaknesses of the larger, RvG society by inferring guilt on race (white) and sex (male) through historical precedence (e.g. discrimination, segregation, slavery, suffrage, etc.). It seems to say, “You owe us, big time!” When feminists brand masculinity as ‘toxic’, they are using a reverse-pseudo-shame tactic (HvS) in order to leverage power over men and society (PvF). It thereby establishes a larger power structure (PvF) for females and minority groups.


Fellow blogger Rant A Tonne is a man of African heritage who (I believe) is living (or has lived) within a western RvG society. As such, I feel he has a more nuanced view of the real situation in western culture – a culture in the death grip of Feminism. In his post, Can Children Be Women? Expecting Female Agency (December 30, 2017), he offers some insights that consider both the RvG and the PvF ethical concerns.

“The feminist movements have advocated for changes in law and social standing that deny the agency of females. They claim that they are particularly subject to suggestion and social pressures, that their decision making can be impaired easier than that of an equally affected male. One of the recent, and most shameful claims, is that what a female says cannot be trusted. They are able to consent to something at the moment then a day later or decades withdraw that consent building on the way females are treated when they prey on students.”

Trust and agency are central pillars of the RvG system, so it is not surprising that trust has been thrown in the trash. The shame of this has not been perceived because it has been displaced by a new standard of honor – namely “oppression” and intersectional stack.

We could think of this takeover as a complex paper-rock-scissors game leading up to a Hegelian maneuver.

  • The HvS system is toxic to the RvG system.
  • The RvG system is toxic to the PvF system.
  • The PvF system is toxic to the HvS system.

The PvF system cannot win the loyalties of a standing RvG system without first weakening and displacing it. So the HvS system is implemented for this purpose. This tactic is totally dependent on the false-guilt inspired compassion and good will of those within the chivalrous RvG society [2]. Once the RvG ethical system ceases to be a plurality within society as a whole, then the power that Intersectional Feminism has over society will also vanish. The new power structure will depend on the predominant ethical structure, as those who hold the real, visceral power of life and death will begin to take control.

In plain language… Welcome to the Jungle~!

Notes and References

  1. Christianity Today (Bob Smietana): Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most (May 23, 2017)
  2. The Aquila Report (Bob Smietana): Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most (May 27, 2017)
  3. Gautier emphasized that chivalry originated from the Teutonic forests and brought up into civilization by the Catholic Church.
  4. Charles Mills used chivalry “to demonstrate that the Regency gentleman was the ethical heir of a great moral estate, and to provide an inventory of its treasure”. Mills also stated that chivalry was a social, not a military phenomenon, with its key features: generosity, fidelity, liberality, and courtesy.


About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Agency, Chivalry, Collective Strength, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Differences, Ethical Systems, Evangelism, Female Power, Feminism, Holding Frame, International, Moral Agency, Organization and Structure, Psychology, Self-Concept, Society, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to The Morphing Ethical System in the U.S.

  1. Scott says:


    Next time I hear the phrase “health journey” in place of “getting in shape” I am going to stick a 45 lb dumbbell in someone’s ear.


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  3. Scott says:

    This is kind of how I am feeling today.


    • ramman3000 says:

      “Stupid <— YOU ARE HERE"

      The core of my thesis is massive falling ‘g’ at ~1.5 points per decade since the Industrial period (see here).


      • Jack says:

        @ Ramman3000, I am curious to know how ‘g’ compares across cultures. Has there been any research done on this?


      • ramman3000 says:

        “I am curious to know how ‘g’ compares across cultures. Has there been any research done on this?”

        Culture is nature and ‘g’ is nurture. IQ tests try to measure ‘g’, but do both. ‘g’ can’t be measured directly, but certain (sub)tests are more g-loaded than others. I listed 10 such tests. What you want to know is whether there has been research done on ‘g’ across different ethnic groups. Yes, there has.

        There is a massive body of research on IQ (and by proxy ‘g’). IQ is the gold standard for scientific research. It is hugely predictive of many things and there is a very large genetic component. Scott’s profession has a huge reliance on psychometric testing, of which IQ is a large part and why he is an HBD (human biodiversity) proponent.

        One of the significant findings is the IQ gap between Asians (~105), non-Hispanic Whites (~100), Hispanics (~90), and Blacks (~80). Note: racial designations are crude alternative to finer ethnic group distinctions (e.g. Ashkanazi Jews), but still meaningful. These differences seem to apply no matter the current country (after adjusting for selection bias). So, for example, both immigrant and non-immigrant Blacks in the UK or Hispanics in the US show a consistent performance gap, despite the environmental differences.

        The scientific consensus is that IQ is 50%-90% hereditary. Thus, the scientific consensus is that there are racial differences (i.e. ethnic group differences) in IQ and that those differences result in a wide variety of differences in outcomes, including socioeconomic status, academic achievement, crime rates, divorce rates, etc.

        The above is the position of hereditarians. Though scientifically accurate, politically you must be a blankslatist or else be cancelled. What I said above can get you fired from your job and your family threatened. This is why there is no way that racial (i.e. ethnic) inequalities will ever be solved, as we can’t even acknowledge the reality behind them, let alone do anything about it. We truly live in the ‘Era of Stupid’… and it is getting worse.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Scott says:

    You guys should see the fierce battle that is heating up on social media over hereditarian vs blank slate thinking.

    The context of it is if course the massive civil unrest and “cancelling” that is going on.

    The last of the true scientists are being purged from any kind of public discourse. I’m nobody but I did go to graduate school and I know how normative samples work.

    Distributions are normal and not the same between groups no matter how much you try to torture the data. And it’s not for lack of trying to create a whole host of “culturally neutral” measures.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ramman3000 says:

    “You guys should see the fierce battle that is heating up on social media over hereditarian vs blank slate thinking.”

    Oh, I do.

    I’ve cited quite a few heredetarian researchers and their papers in my 6-part series on IQ (etc.) at Boxer’s blog. I’ve slowly watched over the last 6-9 months as a number of the links that I cited have been censored.

    A sizeable percentage of my Twitter feed is made up of HBDers, including the Winegard brothers. While the suppression of heredetarian views and papers has been intense for some time, it has really gotten crazy in the last month. The blankslatists are not going to be satisfied until every last heredetarian has lost their job, had their work suppressed, and ideally (from their perspective) died. Then they’ll probably come for normal people who hold heredetarian views. The ramped-up censorship (called by many as “the purge”) is insane. I wouldn’t be surprised if these wordpress sites get deleted at any time. I’ve made offline backups of my guest posts, just in case.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lastmod says:

    Yet this god made all in his image…..but made people like Scott and Derek brilliant and everyone else stupid but then these stupid people are supposed to understand everything they purport and say and apply it.


    • ramman3000 says:

      First, you must not conflate moral worth and dignity with equality. The word ‘stupid nominally means ‘lacking intelligence’, but that term is also often used disparagingly. This conflates the two. It is a mistake to assume that low intelligence means you are of lesser worth. It is merely a state of being. Rather, people should be judged on the things they do: which are not equal from person-to-person.

      Second, as I point out to my children almost constantly, there is a huge difference between someone being stupid (in the disparaging sense) and acting stupid. I call my children stupid in the latter sense (a figure of speech), for they need to be told that they are acting in a stupid manner so that the can correct their stupid behavior. I do so becauseI love them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lastmod says:

        “Mr. Lastmod, your IQ is only 93. You are only worth pumping gas for a living, or working as a clerk at 7-11. If you father children you are irresponsible and a drain on society. Go to church, and let us brilliant people tell you what Jesus said, and remember he loves you just as much as me, but he does show favor on me more, and lets me make decisions because of this genetic thing called IQ.”

        The Stanford Binet r1973, and similar tests and batteries like it, were normalized and standardized in a totally different time and on a totally different population.

        At work, I deal with people who are supposedly brilliant (and they REMIND me of how smart they are daily), have better careers than me, and are from better colleges.

        Supposedly, high IQ folks have a privee in society, and they like their leadership positions in church, business, and the college classroom. Unfortunately, they have abused this privee and turned it into some eugenical / superior racial thing. Consequently, brilliant people or “genetically higher IQ people” have caused more misery, more helplessness, and more hardship on the low IQ masses as time untold.

        If those high IQ guys had us lesser gifted folks all exterminated, they would all die debating about who has to do certain jobs in the world to keep society functioning and who was going to fight on the ground in their useless wars.


      • Jack says:

        @ Lastmod,
        You’re assuming that all those of higher intelligence are evil, manipulative eugenicists. Although I’m sure this is true in certain cases, this is simply not true in general. I sense in you a strong distrust (or possibly fear) of authority. This will color everything you see in life.


      • lastmod says:

        Distrust of authority? Yes. A life spent of being “talked down” to and then expecting me to comprehend, act, create, deliver, do, exceed, excel to standards that I cannot ever meet (according to them). Most IQ tests just give permission by a piece of paper for some to do what they like. Like the Meyers-Briggs (another man-made, made up test with an alphabet soup of personality traits that can never, never change…it’s genetic! It’s hereditary! Science says so!!!! Science proves it!) Written by and funded by big business cronies to cull the masses………oh and all the useless personality traits are given to low IQ people too….just a coincidence I am sure…..

        One thing I have noticed in above average IQ folks (above 110 evidently) is it assumed by society at large that they are “better” people. They make “good” decisions and are natural “leaders” and probably out there there is some study concocting that they are just better looking too……you know “good genetics” and all.

        In practical practice, we know this to be false….and yet we weigh so much of a persons “worth” in this world on their IQ, and deviations, SD’s, their race, their gender, their potential outcomes.

        As for high IQ……its very few, and these few have ruined the world according to the “science” most people fall into the average range…….


      • Elspeth says:

        He’s not wrong though. The “smart people” are the ones spearheading -through academia, journalism, and pop culture- the current attempt at a leftist political coup.

        I say this as someone outside the paradigm in many ways as a relatively high IQ black woman married to a relatively high IQ black man.

        No. We don’t want the dim bulbs running the show, but cognitive ability sans wisdom, morality, and faith in the transcendent is not only useless, but actively destructive and harmful.

        Liked by 1 person

    • ramman3000 says:

      ” then these stupid people are supposed to understand everything they purport and say and apply it.”

      Third. Good advice needs be applied and bad advice needs be rejected regardless of understanding. If one doesn’t and/or can’t understand, they must rely on someone (or something) they trust that does. Everyone (including the brilliant and stupid) must do this.

      My children must do as I say, whether or not they agree. Understanding is fine, but not a requirement: obedience is. My children have wide latitude to challenge me, even disrespectfully. This fosters independence, but ultimately they do as they’re told or face consequences.


  7. Scott says:

    It’s probably not the best forum to get into it, but this debate is absolutely batty, in light of the overwhelming evidence that generalized (g) intelligence and its two subtypes (fluid and crystallized) are mostly heritable traits. Intelligence is the most studied construct/trait there is. It is part of a cluster of traits in what most people know as “personality.” it is relatively stable over the lifetime and very difficult to dislodge or move in one direction or another within subjects.

    The culturally neutral tests have done nothing but CONFIRM this stubborn bit of reality. Tests like that are known to be impervious to all sorts of outside influence, (that’s why they were developed) like all the usual bogey men: SES, diet, “systemic racism” and even serious brain injury.

    Of course, in the context of the current dilemma, the blank slate must be adhered to because it is the version that most closely resembles “anti-racism” — the secular religion in America. If personality traits (like intelligence) are heritable, then gas chambers are surely next. Its crazy.

    Bo and Ben Weinguard as well as the guy who runs “A New Radical Centrism” and others are in trouble with the mob. Steve Hsu, and others have already fallen. And those guys are LIBERAL. So is Jonathan Haigt and he is in the crosshairs. It’s the wild west and as you pointed out, this time everyone is about 1 standard deviation below where they were back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack says:

      @ Scott and Derek,
      SJW’s can’t wrap their heads around the concept of heritability, and even the scientific community is rolling over in deference. “Post truth” strikes yet again! I expect this topic to boil over and create further schisms.


      • Scott says:

        The red pill / manosphere is sharply divided on issues of heritability/HBD/racial differences.

        Everybody’s all “bro” this and “bro” that until this comes up.

        The only innate differences they accept are male/female.


      • AngloSaxon says:

        Its not surprising that heritability is suppressed. If its true, feminism is even worse than thought because the intelligent women go off and have careers and rarely reproduce!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Scott says:

    I would rather live in a world full of people at exactly 100 IQ who are kind, considerate, good neighbors than a bunch of 140+ types with a random sampling of prosocial/antisocial traits.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Scott says:


    Correct on all account. Ones humanity is a separate issue then their IQ score. In fact, I would argue that if you are on the right side of the mean on a whole bunch of dimensions, it means you are obligated to take care of those with less of the tools needed to navigate this complex world. I realize that makes me sound like a nobles oblige oligarch or elitist, but sobeit. I don’t care how smart you are until you try to do something you cant understand. I only really care how kind you are.

    However, IQ score DOES predict a lot of things and it is not equally distributed among populations. There are a number of reasons this bothers a lot of people, some of those reasons are rational others are not.

    The leap from intelligence being a mostly genetic and measurable construct, that predicts lots of things and is not distributed equally among groups to gas chambers and extermination people is ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • elspeth says:

      I would argue that if you are on the right side of the mean on a whole bunch of dimensions, it means you are obligated to take care of those with less of the tools needed to navigate this complex world. I realize that makes me sound like a nobles oblige oligarch or elitist, but sobeit.

      I don’t disagree with this Scott. I do believe along with you that the strong should bear the infirmities of the weak, to borrow from Scripture. But you do realize this is the exact argument of the people who would decide for the masses how to live, what is right and true, and who have decided that socialism/sexual autonomy/dismissal of biological reality is the path of moral excellence?

      It would be comical if it weren’t so devastating to see them try and apply the principle.


  10. ramman3000 says:


    “We don’t want the dim bulbs running the show…”

    Ah, but that’s what we are getting! ‘Brilliant’ politicians with very high IQ are not necessarily smart. The Flynn Effec⁠t—the dramatic 1 to 2 SD rise in IQ over 200 years⁠—is a paradox because it implies that the average person at the founding of the country was mentally retarded (an obvious absurdity). The key is that general (real) intelligence has declined by ~1SD since the time of George Washington while IQ has risen.

    Let’s say the average politician was 1SD higher than average. That reflects 15% of the population. However, in 2020, only 5% of the population has the same general intelligence as in 1776. Worse, the top 5% then now only make up 0.3% of the current population. Our standard for what qualifies as ‘genius’ and ‘brilliant’ has (unconsciously) dropped significantly.

    “…but cognitive ability sans wisdom, morality, and faith in the transcendent is not only useless, but actively destructive and harmful.”

    This is true, and I don’t want to diminish this, but the consequence of high IQ and low ‘g’ is that you get a lot of dumb smart people. Many of those ‘brilliant’ politicians…are not. Not only are they not brilliant, but many also lack common sense, wisdom, morality, and faith. The ‘leftist coup’ is made up of posers.

    Society is in over its head. There are too many people in academia, journalism, and popular culture for them all to be (relatively) significantly above average. ~15% of the entire workforce is employed in public sector jobs. There may be a slight above-average intelligence bias, but it isn’t going to be much. Sure, you will find super smart individuals, but playing the averages means that most people in highly skilled jobs are simply not qualified (by way of general intelligence) to do their jobs by harnessing intelligence (i.e. abilities) alone. This is why true leadership abilities are rare and most rely on skills and bureaucratic systems.


    • elspeth says:

      Yes, Derek. There are a lot of dumb smart people, and a lot of people who are suddenly gifted these days. When I was pronounced so-called gifted, I was 10 years old. That was in 1981. In my all-black school, not one other child had tested where I had tested (130 IQ) so they bussed me off once a week to a neighboring mostly-white school for “enrichment”. There were 7 other kids in that class (3 of them -not black- being bussed in from their school once a week). It was a pretty big school at the time, as far as those schools go, and they had to bus in enough students to “fill” that class with 8 students.

      By the time my kids were in school, all schools had enough gifted kids to fill a classroom with 15 kids. Only one of our three public schooled kids was pegged as smart enough to be tested for gifted and we decided not to let her take the test. We decided that it really didn’t matter even though it was clear to us early on that she was smart. Thankfully, and it had to be God not me, she was also born with grace and uncommon wisdom.

      One of our two youngest (now 12) would probably pass the gifted threshold, but again, we don’t care. it doesn’t matter! Why?

      We can see the high IQ set claiming men can have periods and women can possess penises, sex is arbitrarily “assigned at birth”. No sense of nuance or understanding that wiping away history because they judge 18th-century citizens by 21st-century norms is foolish and unwise. Emasculating men and masculinizing women. Holding today’s people responsible for things some of their ancestors did before they were born, yet excusing people of the reprehensible actions they are responsible for today. Encouraging the less competent to give in to their base natures rather than admonishing them and incentivizing them to do better. I could go on and on, but I won’t. These are the “smart people”, the high IQ people.

      Despite all of this, I stumble onto online conversations where IQ is held up as the be-all, end-all of human worth (all with the gratuitous caveat that a man’s worth and dignity isn’t really based on his IQ, LOL!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jack says:

      @ Derek,
      Would a high-functioning autistic person be an example of someone with a high IQ and a low ‘g’?


      • ramman3000 says:

        “Would a high-functioning autistic person be an example of someone with a high IQ and a low ‘g’?”

        No. IQ correlates with ‘g’ at a 0.7 factor or better. Your confusion stems from IQ as a measurement. IQ scores from different time periods become non-comparable as the time gap increases. You can’t directly compare someone’s IQ from 1950 with another person’s IQ in 2020. You can’t conclude that people were mentally retarded in 1800. That disconnect is partially how you could have a 1-2 SD increase in IQ, but a 1 SD decrease in ‘g’.

        So, the 10 year old Elspeth would have a point or two higher ‘g’ than a 10 year old today getting the same IQ score that she got back then.

        It’s not quite like grade inflation though! Our ancestors had higher raw abilities, but they lacked many of the skills and training that we have. Our ancestors had poorer nutrition, poor medical care, fewer educational opportunities, etc. Most of that ability went untapped due to environmental reasons. They were ‘smart dumb people’.

        By contrast, modern humans have gotten exceptionally good at wrenching out every last bit of productivity from a person’s raw potential.* Our high IQ represents a stunning achievement: doing it despite falling ‘g’ is quite impressive. But, it is my opinion that higher skillsets and lower raw abilities makes more ‘dumb smart people’: people who overestimate their intelligence. It is my opinion that people with very high skills but lower abilities are more prone to bureaucratic (rather than individualistic) behaviors, that is, a reduction in intuition, common sense, and effective leadership.

        In other words, both the very real rise in IQ and the very real drop in ‘g’ over time has real intractable consequences for society. Skills and abilities are not interchangeable.

        * The Black IQ gap is considered by most scientists to have a 10%-50% environmental component. There may still be significant untapped potential there.


  11. Scott says:

    Here are some other things that are highly heritable (besides raw brain power)

    Propensity towards anxiety or depression
    Propensity toward aggression and aggressive forms of problem solving
    Internal vs external locus of control
    Frustration tolerance
    Time horizon/delayed gratification
    “Clannishness” vs out group tolerance
    Openness to novel experiences
    … and many others

    And some of these hang together in factors. These factors tend to hang together in ethnic groups/races

    I would like to live in a world where it’s ok to notice these things. Also to live in a world where we notice the outliers. And then go have a sandwich

    But here’s where it matters.

    Know yourself. Know the group you came from. Be willing to dispassionately ask yourself “do any of those stereotypes apply to me? Do I care? Am I unique in some other ways? If I have goal I have set for myself, will it be harder or easier to accomplish because of it?”

    Then make your plans. Move out and fail or succeed on your own. But don’t pretend like you inherited absolutely nothing from your ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ramman3000 says:


      See Scott’s comment above. It mostly addresses this:

      “Despite all of this, I stumble onto online conversations where IQ is held up as the be-all, end-all of human worth (all with the gratuitous caveat that a man’s worth and dignity isn’t really based on his IQ, LOL!)”

      Nowhere in society will you get fired from your job for suggesting that IQ is irrelevant or unnecessary. But you can get fired and have your family threatened for suggesting that IQ is relevant and should be used to address societal problems.

      It is vitally important that we, as a society, be able to acknowledge differences between people and groups without assigning moral judgment to those differences. Hereditarians are constantly accused of being racist, but it is the accusers who are conflating intelligence with human worth. Because heredetarians are correct in reality, when critics scoffing at heredetarian views,they implicitly scoff at the very notion of human worth. There really is a difference between dignity and intelligence and both are important.

      I suspect that most people promoting IQ (like myself and Scott) are doing so because, as data scientists (so to speak), we know how much IQ predicts behavior (as Scott described). In science, this is extremely unusual. There are few reliable ways to predict human behavior and outcomes, but IQ is, by far, the best one. To put it in perspective, if I know you are a Christian and have an IQ of 130, I can predict more about you from the latter than the former, even though religiosity is a one of the reliable predictors.

      As for blowhards who say that you should listen to them because they have a high IQ, those people should just be ignored if at all possible.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s a good post of that which lists a bunch of the traits and their heritability.

      You missed a big one in your list. Schizophrenia has a very high heritability at .8. Intelligence is .8-.85 if I remember correctly.


  12. lastmod says:

    “There are few reliable ways to predict human behavior and outcomes, but IQ is, by far, the best one.”

    What a crock.


  13. Sharkly says:

    I’d like to hear a discussion about metacognition, illusory superiority, the Dunning–Kruger effect, and how over 90% of people think they have above average common sense and decision making ability, and thus they deserve to rule all the others.
    [SF: Brett Stevens at Amerika discusses this stuff a lot. See here.]


  14. lastmod says:

    Its called the Stanford Binet 1973r IQ test Sharkly


  15. ramman3000 says:

    “Brett Stevens at Amerika discusses this stuff a lot. “

    I read those articles and agree with a lot of it, but I have a few comments.

    In “Did Universal Education Destroy The West?” he notes:

    “[Education] is designed to remove intelligence from the process and replace it with factory-made assumption-spouting robots who cannot analyze anything for which they do not have a template.”

    This is not quite accurate. It doesn’t remove intelligence, it elevates learned skill priority, producing the “smart dumb people” that form the foundation of modern economic prosperity and high level consumption. He’s quite right that this leads to bureaucratic systematization (‘robots’), but (as Jason points out), they are the foundation of society and you can’t do without them.

    “…above 115 IQ points — this is a terrible sign [..] when only one in four people in your nation can halfway make sense of even moderate complexity problems”

    Critically, in 1800, the average person was able to do this, while in 2020, the average person cannot. As he points out in “The Dunning-Kruger effect“, democracy can’t function effectively:

    “This causes a mathematical problem for democracies since most people are not particularly competent at leadership, government or logical argument, meaning they are both unable to assess the best leadership choices and sure that they’re right.”

    Now, one would think that authoritarianism (like a monarchy) would be required to fix it, but existing social structures ensure that the wrong leaders will be selected (as Elspeth pointed out).

    “many successful societies have relied on strong leaders who had no problem beating down the incompetent with force. Unless suppressed, the 90% of humanity who per the “Bell Curve” are unskilled and unaware of it will take over and, being incompetent, run society into the ground.”

    When strong leaders are needed most is exactly when they are hardest to find. That’s Dunning-Kruger put into real-life practice.

    In “Intelligent People Are Marooned In A Vast Wave Of Incompetence” he makes one point that I strongly disagree with:

    “In the short term, individualists always win because their ideas are more popular. In the long term, they make civilization collapse. The result of all of the above “wins” is that the individualists have made a society in the West that is moribund and dying out. What is popular is usually wrong. What is individualist is always popular. “

    It makes no sense to say that individualists are popular. By definition individualists are those who go against the group mentality. It is is the mob—the collective—that is popular because it is in the majority. The individualists tend to be high IQ because they are more independent thinkers. They are diametrically opposed to the collectivist bureaucratic system that categorizes all modern institutions. I’m not sure how he made this error.


  16. lastmod says:

    Derek…most revolutions or “turning society and upending it” through most of the 20th century and the later half of the 19th have not been by the “disgusting proles and low IQ people on the bottom who are only robots”

    Most have been by caused by the “quasi-educated / semi-professional class” of people
    The bank branch manager. The schoolteacher. The rank and file journalist. The government employee. The law clerk. College students coming usually from this same class as well. The professional so to speak.

    The schlubb on the bottom are too busy working, and they usually get roused by this above group of people. Not the “welfare / criminal class” but the working poor / working class. It’s usually them again being “promised” a seat at the table and “fair shake” in the new order but they usually end up in the ‘Ministry of Love’ (a la 1984) paying the cost of the high IQ people, they end up in the new army fighting a new enemy, or in a re-education camp / commune / sweat shop


  17. Scott says:

    People who are uncomfortable with pattern recognition are understandable but ultimately irrational to the point where it truly costs them.

    A 1986 Chevy caprice classic with $3,000 rims, blacked out tinted windows and loud booming bass rattling the bolts loose is driving toward you.

    I put a gun to to your head and you have to guess at the color of the driver. Get it right and live.

    What is your answer?

    The desire to not be seen as racist will get most people responding (in the abstract) to engage in all sorts of mental contortions to avoid giving the most obvious answer.

    This is the same reason Nidal Hassan was able to ascend to the rank of Major unhindered.

    Liked by 2 people

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