Interesting article by The Economist on general intelligence and evolutionary psychology here: http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/06/quick-study-satoshi-kanazawa-intelligence?fb_ref=activity
Satoshi Kanazawa argues that
- Evolution already sufficiently equipped humans to deal with most problems.
- General intelligence is only useful for dealing with “evolutionarily novel” problems, which evolution is unable to prepare humans for.
- General intelligence is not useful for evolutionary matters (survival/finding a mate)
- In fact, it might be a disadvantage.
In addition, he argues that more intelligent people are more likely to have “evolutionarily novel” preferences as well, in ten different ways. I’m just going to copy and paste since i’m too lazy to summarise and paraphrase:
- Left wing liberals: “More intelligent people are more likely to be left-wing liberals because our ancestors were “conservative” by the contemporary American definition—they only cared about the well-being of their friends and family.”
- Atheists: “They are more likely to be atheist because the preferred theory in evolutionary psychology is that humans are designed to believe in God.”
- Nocturnal: “Intelligent people are more likely to be nocturnal because humans are designed to wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun goes down.”
- Homosexual: “They are more likely to be homosexual, because humans are evolutionarily designed to reproduce heterosexually.”
- Mozart/Slash fan: “They are more likely to enjoy instrumental music because music in its evolutionary origin was vocal”
- Drinker/Smoker/Druggie: “they are more likely to consume alcohol, cigarettes and drugs because all of these substances are evolutionarily novel.”
- Keeper boys but skanky girls: “More intelligent boys (but not more intelligent girls) are more likely to grow up to value sexual exclusivity.”
- Grass-eater: “intelligent people are more likely to be vegetarians, because humans are evolutionarily designed to be omnivorous.”
- Law-abiders: “Criminals on average have lower intelligence than law-abiding citizens.”- because crimes are the natural means of competition and the checks on crime are evolutionarily novel
- Lousy mothers: ”Intelligent women make the worst kind of parents, simply because they are less likely to become parents in the first place.”
I find evolutionary psychology to be very interesting but nonetheless speculative. It could no doubt come up with explanations which make sense. But it cannot be proven. And in fact, it is easy to come up with another speculation/theory explaining a certain behaviour.
Kanazawa’s logic is basically to turn everything on its head (which admittedly sounds like something I would do) – if it is evolutionarily different/bad for you, more intelligent people will do it.
First, this depends on his definition of ‘general intelligence’ – it doesn’t actually make sense for a supposedly ‘intelligent’ person to do unintelligent things like binge drink, or have unhealthy sleep hours. It could be inferred that his definition of ‘general intelligence’ is one’s ability to function under certain new institutions, like tests and schools. Perhaps one explanation which supports his view is that a more intelligent person is more able to overcome evolutionary drives (i.e. to listen to your body/have a harem of beautiful women to mate with)
Second, his argument is as such: general intelligence adds nothing to evolutionary matters and only deals with things which are evolutionarily novel, hence it will more often than not gravitate towards the evolutionarily novel. There’s a leap of logic here. While I’m not saying it’s impossible, Kanazawa hasn’t shown why being more able to deal with X equals having a preference for X – and to the point that it could override evolutionary instincts.
In other words, he hasn’t shown why general intelligence, just because it can deal with evolutionarily novel issues, is at odds with basic evolutionary psychology – at least in the above article.
Nonetheless, it is a very interesting read. Now scroll back to the list of ten traits and see how high you score – apart from the Lousy Mothers one, that one is a bit early to tell. So out of the nine remaining traits, give yourself 2 points for having the trait for sure, 0 points for not having that trait, and 1 point if it’s a maybe. 18 is the highest score you can get, and 0 the lowest. And no, I’m not saying my score.
And I’m still quite amused at how by this theory more intelligent guys are loyal, but more intelligent girls are, in polite terms, “sexually less exclusive” – which is smart guys end up married to dumb women (if at all), and smart women end up getting boned by dumb jock after dumb jock ceteris paribus. It’s sexist, it’s stereotypical, but hey, Kanazawa also wrote about why black women are less attractive.