politics

A Colloquy on the Constitution

Q: What is the provenance of the Constitution of the United States of America?

A. In its original form, it was an agreement among the States (i.e., governing bodies of certain geographical areas formerly known as colonies). Each State that ratified (agreed to) the Constitution did so because a majority (however slight) of a small fraction of the State’s residents voted to approve the Constitution.

Q. So the Constitution is binding on all Americans because of the actions of a small fraction of the residents of America in 1787-1790?

A. Approximately. It’s really binding on all Americans because the governments of the States and the central government have the power to make it binding. More importantly those governments have the power enforce statutes, regulations, and judicial decrees, whether or not they actually conform to the Constitutions of the United States or any State. However, there was a time when certain groups of people, known as Indians, were treated as if their tribes and nations weren’t subject to the jurisdiction of American governments, Rather, they were treated as if they were foreign nations, even though their territories were within the boundaries of the United States. Accordingly, they weren’t even taxed by American governments.

Q. So allegiance to the Constitution, etc., is discretionary?

A. Yes, but it’s governmental discretion, not the choice of individuals or groups.

Q. Yet the preamble to the Constitution says that it was established by “the People.”

A. Yes, a few of them.

Q. If that’s the case, why do so many people seem to respect the Constitution and invoke it?

A. Most people who claim to respect the Constitution do so because (a) it’s a symbol of Americanism (whatever that is, these days), or (b) it can be read in a way that supports their political views and preferences. The reading can be literal, which is the way written constitutions are meant to be read, or strained, in which case it involves a “living Constitution” (i.e, make it up as you go along) with “emanations” and “penumbras” (i.e., inferences piled on unsubstantiated interpretations). The Constitution, in brief, is a kind of club to be carried into political battles.

Q. To sum it up: The Constitution is binding because of the power of government to make it binding. But government uses it mainly as an excuse to enforce the wishes of those who control government, regardless of what the Constitution actually says.

A. That’s about it.

Q. Well, then, truth in packaging demands a more accurate preamble. Here it is:

We the minuscule minority who lived a long time ago hereby ratify this document so that a bunch of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges can mention it when they jerk you around and pick your pockets — Indians excluded.

A. Almost. But Indians are no longer excluded, in reality, regardless of the treaties they co-signed with the big chiefs in Washington, D.C.

Q. Spreading the misery is the American way.

A Phrase for Our Time

Near the end of the presidential election campaign of 1884, the Rev. Samuel D. Burchard, a supporter of Republican candidate James G. Blaine, proclaimed the Democrat Party the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.” It is believed that Burchard’s statement inflamed enough drinkers, Catholics, and Southerners to swing the election to the Democrat candidate, (Stephen) Grover Cleveland.

Regardless of the truth or falsity of the belief that the election of 1884 turned on an inflammatory phrase, there was a lot of truth in that phrase. How would a contemporary phrase-maker characterize today’s Democrat Party? Here’s my offering:

Repression, Handouts, and Appeasement

P.S. Examples of repression abound — from taxing success to regulatory micro-management to siccing the IRS on conservative groups to the denial of property rights and freedom of association — but this takes the proverbial cake.

From Each According to His Ability…

…to each according to his need. So goes Marx’s vision of pure communism — when capitalism is no more. Unfettered labor will then produce economic goods in such great abundance that there is no question of some taking from others. All will feed at an ever-filling and overflowing public trough.

There are many holes in the Marxian argument. Here’s the bottom line: It’s an impossible dream that flouts human nature.

Capital accrues and markets arise spontaneously (where not distorted and suppressed by lawlessness, government, and lawless government) because they foster mutually beneficial exchanges of economic goods (e.g., labor for manufactured items)

Communism has failed to catch on, as a sustained and widespread phenomenon, because it rejects capitalism and assumes the inexorability of economic progress in the absence of incentives (e.g., the possibility of great rewards for taking great risks and the investment of time and resources). It is telling that “to each his own need” (or an approximation of it) has been achieved on a broad scale only by force, and only by penalizing success and slowing economic progress.

If the state were to wither to nightwatchman status, the result would be the greatest outpouring of economic goods in human history. Everyone would be better off — rich and (relatively) poor alike. Only the envious and economic ignoramuses would be miserable, and then only in their own minds.

If Marx and his intellectual predecessors and successors were capable of thinking straight, they would have come up with the winning formula:

From each according to his ability and effort,
to each according to the market value of his output,
plus whatever voluntary contributions may come his way.

Whither Francis Underwood?

If you’re addicted to the Netflix version of the House of Cards, you’re probably wondering whether and how President Francis Underwood will get his comeuppance. I have long guessed that he will meet a fate similar to that of his British counterpart, Prime Minister Francis Urquhart (pronounced urk-ert), of the BBC’s House of Cards trilogy. (SPOILER WARNING: Don’t follow the links in the preceding sentence if you haven’t seen the BBC series and don’t want to know how it ended.)

I base my guess on the many parallels between the main characters of the BBC and Netflix series; for example, their initials are FU, both have a right-hand man named Stamper, both are murderers, both have Lady Macbeth-like wives, and both rose to power by arranging the disgrace and resignation of their predecessors.

There’s another crucial similarity: Francis Urquhart is staunchly conservative in his rhetoric, and his evil ways are obviously meant to discredit conservatism and the British Conservative Party. Francis Underwood is a Democrat, but a nowadays rare Southern Democrat who sometimes deploys conservative rhetoric. Many viewers and most Democrats will be happy if FU II shares the fate of FU I.

By the way, I’m not binge-watching HOC IV. It may be a few weeks before I finish the series. So if HOC IV turns out to be the final series and you already know the fate of FU II, please don’t reveal it in a comment.

Whiners

Warning: This is a whine about whining.

Whiners like to gripe about faux injustices. A faux injustice often occurs when the whiner believes that he — or someone with whom he’s in sympathy — deserves something that others aren’t obliged to give.

Here’s an example:

  1. Enterprising men like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford established businesses that prospered.
  2. They hired people who were (obviously) willing to forgo other opportunities (or none) to work for the wages that were on offer.
  3. Professional whiners — labor-union organizers and political “activists” (a.k.a. busybodies) — declared that it was only just to raise workers’ wages above what they had been willing to accept.
  4. Government got in the act on the side of unions and decreed that employers must recognize and bargain with unions.
  5. That which was sought (and applauded by many) — higher wages for unionized workers — was paid for by that which was not publicized — less employment for workers and higher prices for those who bought the products of unionized businesses. And because unionization was pervasive in certain lines of business (e.g., steel and auto-making), there was insufficient (or no competition) to force prices down.

Whiners are more than a pain in the butt. Often, they’re also a pain in the pocketbook.

Residual Christianity Syndrome

Theodore Dalrymple writes of an English judge who showed leniency toward a pair of brothers convicted of a drug crime, and reversed herself after they publicly mocked her leniency. (Justice isn’t blind in her court.)

The judge is well known for her leniency, which is more properly called soft-headedness. Dalrymple calls it residual Christianity syndrome:

She thought initially that it was her place to be mercifully forgiving of sins, provided they were humbly confessed before her, thereby also fulfilling the injunction (on behalf of society) to turn the other cheek.

Similarly disposed are leftist politicians — and leftists generally — who often excuse their penchant for dispensing other people’s money as a Christian act of charity or compassion. It’s nothing of the kind, of course, because it’s not their money.

With due apology to the founder of Christianity, I offer this slightly modified version of Matthew 19:24:

And once again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than for a man to enter the kingdom of heaven when he robs some to give to others in My name.

Oh, the Shrillness!

Donald Trump and his legion of followers resent Mitt Romney’s attack on Trump. Their problem, of course, is that Romney was right on target. Their predictable riposte: Romney’s a loser. Who’s he to criticize Trump?

Well, Romney won the GOP nomination, which is more than Trump has done so far. Moreover, having lost the general election to Obama doesn’t disqualify Romney as an observer of the political scene and a representative of traditional Republican values (which aren’t Trump’s values).

The shrillness emanating from Trump and his Trumpeters is unsurprising. They have, as usual, substituted emotion for facts and logic.

I’m convinced that Trump’s main objective is to discredit and destroy the Republican Party. If he doesn’t win the GOP nomination, watch him turn on the party and its nominee.

 

The War on Conservatism

Trump’s candidacy is transforming the Republican Party and party lines. If Trump is nominated by the GOP — and especially if he wins in November — he will have transformed the GOP from the party of (nominal) conservatism to the party of working-class-whites-seeking-their-share-of-government-bestowed-privileges.

Thus the two major parties will represent the following constituencies:

  • Affluent “progressives” from Wall Street, the media, academe, and business (especially technology companies), who “know” who’s deserving, how the world should be organized, and what sentiments should (and should not) be expressed
  • Government officials and workers, especially federal but also those of most States and municipalities, who are the direct beneficiaries of bigger and more powerful government
  • Most “persons of color” (blacks and Hispanics) who turn to government for handouts and preferences
  • Working-class whites who rely on the dole, in some form — especially those who think they’ve been short-changed by “persons of color”
  • Everyone who wants to preserve or expand the power of government to do something that they favor.

In sum: The two parties will represent the grasping, intolerant, and controlling forces of oppression. True conservatives (and libertarians) — who seek nothing from government but to be defended by it, and who understand the wisdom of long-standing social norms and the civilizing institutions of civil society — will be out in the cold.

Venting about Election 2016

The presidential candidates have been at it (name-calling) for months. It’s my turn now.

Trump’s dissing of his opponents and ideas that are disagreeable to him is refreshing, though I sample it through the filter of the written word. I am repelled by Trump’s appearance, manners, and mannerisms. His mouth often assumes a circular shape, the significance of which I leave to the dirty-minded among you.

In the spirit of equal opportunity, I can honestly say that Hillary is repulsive, too. She reminds me of a grounded parade float. And she’s so obviously honest and sincere that she’s sure to become a saint (in the church of holy baloney). It would serve Hillary right if she goes to jail for mishandling of classified material while Bill continues to roam free despite his mishandling of women.

Bernie Sanders reminds me of a former neighbor who proclaimed himself a Marxist (despite his upscale abode). He’s an ignoramus who sees the economy as a zero-sum game, when in fact it’s a cooperative enterprise that (generally) rewards people for the value of their contributions. (I’m confess that I can’t find any value in the contributions of Lady Gaga, rap singers, and most contemporary “entertainers.”) But Bernie wouldn’t know anything about that because, like Hillary, he hasn’t actually worked for a living in decades. He has a soft spot in his heart for those who feed at the public trough because he’s one of them. It’s surprising that Bernie doesn’t attract a larger share of the black vote. I guess that’s because Hillary is married to the first black president.

Put Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in a blender and you might get one formidable candidate, someone with brains and likability. As it is, Cruz and Rubio seem destined to finish second and third to Trump in most of the primary races, which means that Trump may lock up the GOP nomination before the convention.

It seems that election 2016 won’t come down to a choice between the lesser of two evils — not with Trump and Hillary as the choices. Not that it really matters to me. I live in Texas, where almost any Republican (even Trump) is bound to win. So I look forward to election day, when it’s likely to be warm and sunny in my part of Texas (the central part). I’ll probably spend the day outside, doing something useful like cutting brush.

Thinkers vs. Doers

There’s a mythical dividing line between thinkers and doers. It’s true that there are thinkers who can’t do practical things very well, and doers who don’t think very well. But real doers must think, and think well.

Thinkers are exemplified by pundits and academicians who expound grandiloquently on such matters as the “evils” of capitalism and the “virtues” of socialism (though they usually don’t cal it that). Their pronouncements mask a kind of “penis envy” that’s aimed at the real doers of this world. Such thinkers survive mainly because they are able to trade their verbal facility for incomes that enable them to buy posh homes, fancy cars, fine dining, opera tickets, and so on. Their cushy lives are made possible the surpluses of the capitalist system that they deplore. They are crony anti-capitalists.

The gene pool in which intellectuals spawn was enriched by the survival of the physically and mentally fittest, who didn’t have the option of talking their way out of the dangers posed by the elements and predators (human and otherwise). Life isn’t as fraught for today’s doers — people who produce actual products and services. But doers nevertheless have to think rather carefully and well in order to succeed in the world of commerce.

I have been a subsidized thinker and an unsubsidized doer. Take it from me that doing is not only hard work, but doing well in the world of commerce is every bit as mentally demanding as riskless thinking and pontificating.

Intelligence, Personality, Politics, and Happiness (re-post)

I am re-posting this, by popular demand. It’s identical to the updated original.

This post is a collection and refinement of related posts at my earlier blog, Liberty Corner (with updated links). Each section of this post carries the same title as the original post at Liberty Corner. “IQ and Personality” is and has been, by far, the most popular of my Liberty Corner posts, so I give the eponymous section the place of honor in this post.

Web pages that link to this post usually consist of a discussion thread whose participants’ views of the post vary from “I told you so” to “that doesn’t square with me/my experience” or “MBTI is all wet because…”.  Those who take the former position tend to be persons of above-average intelligence whose MBTI types correlate well with high intelligence. Those who take the latter two positions tend to be persons who are defensive about their personality types, which do not correlate well with high intelligence. Such persons should take a deep breath and remember that high intelligence (of the abstract-reasoning-book-learning kind measured by IQ tests) is widely distributed throughout the population. As I say below, ” I am not claiming that a small subset of MBTI types accounts for all high-IQ persons, nor am I claiming that a small subset of MBTI types is populated entirely by high-IQ persons.” All I am saying is that the bits of evidence which I have compiled suggest that high intelligence is more likely — but far from exclusively — to be found among persons with certain MBTI types.

The correlations between intelligence, political leanings, and happiness are admittedly more tenuous. But they are plausible.

Leftists who proclaim themselves to be more intelligent than persons of the right do so, in my observation, as a way of reassuring themselves of the superiority of their views. They have no legitimate basis for claiming that the ranks of highly intelligent persons are dominated by the left. Leftist “intellectuals” in academia, journalism, the “arts,” and other traditional haunts of leftism are prominent because they are vocal. But they comprise a small minority of the population and should not be mistaken for typical leftists, who seem mainly to populate the ranks of the civil service, labor unions, the teaching “profession,” and the unemployed. (It is worth noting that public-school teachers, on the whole, are notoriously dumber than most other college graduates.)

Again, I am talking about general relationships, to which there are many exceptions. If you happen to be an exception, don’t take this post personally. You’re probably an exceptional person.

IQ AND PERSONALITY

Some years ago I came across some statistics about the personality traits of high-IQ persons (those who are in the top 2 percent of the population).* The statistics pertain to a widely used personality test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which I have taken twice. In the MBTI there are four pairs of complementary personality traits, called preferences: Extraverted/Introverted, Sensing/iNtuitive, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. Thus, there are 16 possible personality types in the MBTI: ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ESFP, and so on. (For an introduction to MBTI, summaries of types, criticisms of MBTI, and links to other sources, see this article at Wikipedia. A straightforward description of the theory of MBTI and the personality traits can be found here. Detailed descriptions of the 16 types are given here.)

In summary, here is what the statistics indicate about the correlation between personality traits and IQ:

  • Other personality traits being the same, an iNtuitive person (one who grasps patterns and seeks possibilities) is 25 times more likely to have a high IQ than a Sensing person (one who focuses on sensory details and the here-and-now).
  • Again, other traits being the same, an Introverted person is 2.6 times more likely to have a high IQ than one who is Extraverted; a Thinking (logic-oriented) person is 4.5 times more likely to have a high IQ than a Feeling (people-oriented) person; and a Judging person (one who seeks closure) is 1.6 times as likely to have a high IQ than a Perceiving person (one who likes to keep his options open).
  • Moreover, if you encounter an INTJ, there is a 22% probability that his IQ places him in the top 2 percent of the population. (Disclosure: I am an INTJ.) Next are INTP, at 14%; ENTJ, 8%; ENTP, 5%; and INFJ, 5%. (The next highest type is the INFP at 3%.) The  five types (INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, and INFJ) account for 78% of the high-IQ population but only 15% of the total population.**
  • Four of the five most-intelligent types are NTs, as one would expect, given the probabilities cited above. Those same probabilities lead to the dominance of INTJs and INTPs, which account for 49% of the Mensa membership but only 5% of the general population.**
  • Persons with the S preference bring up the rear, when it comes to taking IQ tests.**

A person who encountered this post when it was at Liberty Corner claims that “one would expect to see the whole spectrum of intelligences within each personality type.” Well, one does see just that, but high intelligence is skewed toward the five types listed above. I am not claiming that a small subset of MBTI types accounts for all high-IQ persons, nor am I claiming that a small subset of MBTI types is populated entirely by high-IQ persons.

I acknowledge reservations about MBTI, such as those discussed in the Wikipedia article. An inherent shortcoming of psychological tests (as opposed to intelligence tests) is that they rely on subjective responses (e.g., my favorite color might be black today and blue tomorrow). But I do not accept this criticism:

[S]ome researchers expected that scores would show a bimodal distribution with peaks near the ends of the scales, but found that scores on the individual subscales were actually distributed in a centrally peaked manner similar to a normal distribution. A cut-off exists at the center of the subscale such that a score on one side is classified as one type, and a score on the other side as the opposite type. This fails to support the concept of type: the norm is for people to lie near the middle of the subscale.[6][7][8][33][42]

Why was “it was expected” that scores on a subscale (E/I, S/N, T/F, J/P) would show a bimodal distribution? How often does one encounter a person who is at the extreme end of any subscale? Not often, I wager, except in places where such extremes are likely to be clustered (e.g., Extraverts in acting classes, Introverts in monasteries). The cut-off at the center of each subscale is arbitrary; it simply affords a shorthand characterization of a person’s dominant traits. But anyone who takes an MBTI (or equivalent instrument) is given his scores on each of the subscales, so that he knows the strength (or weakness) of his tendencies.

Regarding other points of criticism: It is possible, of course, that a person who is familiar with MBTI tends to see in others the characteristics of their known MBTI types (i.e., confirmation bias). But has that tendency been confirmed by rigorous testing? Such testing would examine the contrary case, that is, the ability of a person to predict the type of a person whom he knows well (e.g., a co-worker or relative). The supposed vagueness of the descriptions of the 16 types arises from the complexity of human personality; but there are differences among the descriptions, just as there are differences among individuals. According to a footnote to an earlier version of the Wikipedia article about MBTI, half of the persons who take the MBTI are able to guess their types before taking it. Does that invalidate MBTI or does it point to a more likely phenomenon, namely, that introspection is a personality-related trait, one that is more common among Introverts than Extraverts? A good MBTI instrument cuts through self-deception and self-flattery by asking the same set of questions in many different ways, and in ways that do not make any particular answer seem like the “right” one.

My considerable exposure to high-IQ scientists in 30 years of working with them is suggestive. Most of them seemed to exhibit the traits of INTJs and INTPs. And those who took an MBTI test were found to be INTJs and INTPs.

IQ AND POLITICS

It is hard to find clear, concise analyses of the relationship between IQ and political leanings. I offer the following in evidence that very high-IQ individuals lean strongly toward libertarian positions.

The Triple Nine Society (TNS) limits its membership to persons with IQs in the top 0.1% of the population. In an undated survey (probably conducted in 2000, given the questions about the perceived intelligence of certain presidential candidates), members of TNS gave their views on several topics (in addition to speculating about the candidates’ intelligence): subsidies, taxation, civil regulation, business regulation, health care, regulation of genetic engineering, data privacy, death penalty, and use of military force.

The results speak for themselves. Those members of TNS who took the survey clearly have strong (if not unanimous) libertarian leanings.

THE RIGHT IS SMARTER THAN THE LEFT

I count libertarians as part of the right because libertarians’ anti-statist views are aligned with the views of the traditional (small-government) conservatives who are usually Republicans. Having said that, the results reported in “IQ and Politics” lead me to suspect that the right is smarter than the left, left-wing propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding. There is additional evidence for my view.

A site called Personality Page offers some data about personality type and political affiliation. The sample is not representative of the population as a whole; the average age of respondents is 25, and introverted personalities are overrepresented (as you might expect for a test that is apparently self-administered through a web site). On the other hand, the results are probably unbiased with respect to intelligence because the data about personality type were not collected as part of a study that attempts to relate political views and intelligence, and there is nothing on the site to indicate a left-wing bias. (Psychologists, who tend toward leftism, have a knack for making conservatives look bad, as discussed here, here, and here. If there is a strong association between political views and intelligence, it is found among so-called intellectuals, where the herd mentality reigns supreme.)

The data provided by Personality Page are based on the responses of 1,222 individuals who took a 60-question personality test that determined their MBTI types (see “IQ and Personality”). The test takers were asked to state their political preferences, given these choices: Democrat, Republican, middle of the road, liberal, conservative, libertarian, not political, and other. Political self-labelling is an exercise in subjectivity. Nevertheless, individuals who call themselves Democrats or liberals (the left) are almost certainly distinct, politically, from individuals who call themselves Republicans, conservatives, or libertarians (the right).

Now, to the money question: Given the distribution of personality types on the left and right, which distribution is more likely to produce members of Mensa? The answer: Those who self-identify as persons of the right are 15% more likely to qualify for membership in Mensa than those who self-identify as persons of the left. This result is plausible because it is consistent with the pronounced anti-government tendencies of the very-high-IQ members of the Triple Nine Society (see “IQ and Politics”).

REPUBLICANS (AND LIBERTARIANS) ARE HAPPIER THAN DEMOCRATS

That statement follows from research by the Pew Research Center (“Are We Happy Yet?” February 13, 2006) and Gallup (“Republicans Report Much Better Health Than Others,” November 30, 2007).

Pew reports:

Some 45% of all Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972….

Of course, there’s a more obvious explanation for the Republicans’ happiness edge. Republicans tend to have more money than Democrats, and — as we’ve already discovered — people who have more money tend to be happier.

But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.

Gallup adds this:

Republicans are significantly more likely to report excellent mental health than are independents or Democrats among those making less than $50,000 a year, and among those making at least $50,000 a year. Republicans are also more likely than independents and Democrats to report excellent mental health within all four categories of educational attainment.

There is a lot more in both sources. Read them for yourself.

Why would Republicans be happier than Democrats? Here’s my thought, Republicans tend to be conservative or libertarian (at least with respect to minimizing government’s role in economic affairs). I refer you to a post in which I discussed Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions:

He posits two opposing visions: the unconstrained vision (I would call it the idealistic vision) and the constrained vision (which I would call the realistic vision). As Sowell explains, at the end of chapter 2:

The dichotomy between constrained and unconstrained visions is based on whether or not inherent limitations of man are among the key elements included in each vision…. These different ways of conceiving man and the world lead not merely to different conclusions but to sharply divergent, often diametrically opposed, conclusions on issues ranging from justice to war.

Idealists (“liberals”) are bound to be less happy than realists (conservatives and libertarians) because idealists’ expectations about human accomplishments (aided by government) are higher than those of realists, and so idealists are doomed to disappointment.

All of this is consistent with findings reported by law professor James Lindgren:

[C]ompared to anti-redistributionists, strong redistributionists have about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were angry, mad at someone, outraged, sad, lonely, and had trouble shaking the blues. Similarly, anti-redistributionists had about two to four times higher odds of reporting being happy or at ease. Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. When asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge. Last, both redistributionists and anti-capitalists expressed lower overall happiness, less happy marriages, and lower satisfaction with their financial situations and with their jobs or housework. (From the abstract of Northwestern Law and Economics Research Paper 06-29, “What Drives Views on Government Redistribution and Anti-Capitalism: Envy or a Desire for Social Dominance?,” March 15, 2011.)

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you are very intelligent — with an IQ that puts you in the top 2% of the population — you are most likely to be an INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, or INFJ, in that order. Your politics will lean heavily toward libertarianism or small-government conservatism. You probably vote Republican most of the time because, even if you are not a card-carrying Republican, you are a staunch anti-Democrat. And you are a happy person because your expectations are not constantly defeated by reality.

*     *     *

Footnotes:

* I apologize for not having documented the source of the statistics that I cite here. I dimly recall finding them on or via the website of American Mensa, but I am not certain of that. And I can no longer find the source by searching the web. I did transcribe the statistics to a spreadsheet, which I still have. So, the numbers are real, even if their source is now lost to me.

** Estimates of the distribution of  MBTI types  in the U.S. population are given in two tables on page 4 of “Estimated Frequencies of the Types in the United States Population,” published by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type. One table gives estimates of the distribution of the population by preference (E, I, N, S, etc.). The other table give estimates of the distribution of the population among all 16 MBTI types. The statistics for members of Mensa were broken down by preferences, not by types; therefore I had to use the values for preferences to estimate the frequencies of the 16 types among members of Mensa. For consistency, I used the distribution of the preferences among the U.S. population to estimate the frequencies of the 16 types among the population, rather than use the frequencies provided for each type. For example, the fraction of the population that is INTJ comes to 0.029 (2.9%) when the values for I (0.507), N (0.267), T (0.402), and J (0.541) are multiplied. But the detailed table has INTJs as 2.1% of the population. In sum, there are discrepancies between the computed and given values of the 16 types in the population. The most striking discrepancy is for the INFJ type. When estimated from the frequencies of the four preferences, INFJs are 4.4% of the population; the table of values for all 16 types gives the percentage of INFJs as 1.5%.

Using the distribution given for the 16 types leads to somewhat different results:

  • There is a 31% probability that an INTJ’s his IQ places him in the top 2 percent of the population. Next are INFJ, at 14%; ENTJ, 13%; and INTP, 10%. (The next highest type is the ENTP at 4%.) The  four types (INTJ, INFJ, ENTJ, AND INTP) account for 72% of the high-IQ population but only 9% of the total population. The top five types (including ENTPs) account for 78% of the high-IQ population but only 12% of the total population.
  • Four of the five most-intelligent types are NTs, as one would expect, given the probabilities cited earlier. But, in terms of the likelihood of having an IQ, this method moves INFJs into second place, a percentage point ahead of ENTJs.
  • In any event, the same five types dominate, and all five types have a preference for iNtuitive thinking.
  • As before, persons with the S preference generally lag their peers when it comes to IQ tests.

*   *   *

Related posts:
Intelligence as a Dirty Word
Intelligence and Intuition

Uber Panic

The killing spree by a Uber driver in Kalamazoo will doubtless reinforce efforts by various municipalities to tighten the screws on Uber, Lyft, and similar operations. (Lemonade stands are probably in for a bad summer, too.)

After all, if one Uber driver kills people, all Uber drivers must be suspected of harboring homicidal tendencies. By that logic, many occupations and preoccupations should be more tightly regulated; for example:

Actor. Remember John Wilkes Booth?

Artist. Jackson Pollock wasn’t the only person who died when he wrecked his car.

Fan. Selena wasn’t the only celebrity to be killed by one.

Phlebotomist. Jeffrey Dahmer was one.

Democrat or Jaycee. Dahmer’s soulmate John Wayne Gacy was both.

Ph.D. student. That’s James Holmes.

I could come up with many more examples, but you get the idea: All X are bad because _____ is an X and he is bad.

 

Bigot or Tribalist?

There’s a world of difference between these three things:

  1. hating persons who are different because they’re different
  2. fearing persons of a certain type because that type is highly correlated with danger
  3. preferring the company and comfort of persons with whom one has things in common, such as religion, customs, language, moral beliefs, and political preferences.

Number 1 is a symptom of bigotry, of which racism is a subset. Number 2 is a sign of prudence. Number 3 is a symptom of tribalism.

Liberals, who like to accuse others of racism and bigotry, tend to be strong tribalists — as are most people, the world around. Being tribal doesn’t make a person a racist or a bigot, that is, hateful toward persons of a different type. It’s natural (for most people) to trust and help those who live nearest them or are most like them, in customs, religion, language, etc. Persons of different colors and ethnicities usually have different customs, religions, and languages (e.g., black English isn’t General American English), so it’s unsurprising that there’s a tribal gap between most blacks and whites, most Latinos and whites, most Latinos and blacks, and so on.

Tribalism has deep evolutionary-psychological roots in mutual aid and mutual defense. The idea that tribalism can be erased by sitting in a circle, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya — or the equivalent in social-diplomatic posturing — is as fatuous as the idea that all human beings enter this world with blank minds and equal potential. Saying that tribalism is wrong is like saying that breathing and thinking are wrong. It’s a fact of life that can’t be undone without undoing the bonds of mutual trust and respect that are the backbone of a civilized society.

If tribalism is wrong, then most blacks, Latinos, members of other racial and ethnic groups, and liberals are guilty of wrong-doing.

Superiority

You are a superior person (i.e., a liberal and probably a Yuppie) if you hate most of these things:

  • smoking (tobacco)
  • fast food
  • rednecks and other rural types
  • all sports but running, soccer, and cycling
  • fundamentalist Christians (but not fundamentalist Muslims)
  • Israel
  • NASCAR
  • AGW “deniers”
  • fossil fuels (but not the low-cost energy they yield)
  • CO2 (though your “carbon footprint” is probably bigger than that of most Americans and almost everyone else in the world)
  • the Constitution (as written) and those who defend it
  • large families
  • home-schooling and private schools (for others)
  • deregulation
  • war (though WWII turned out okay)
  • police (except when you need them)
  • guns
  • capital punishment (all other forms are also suspect)
  • capitalists (though you may be one and certainly benefit from capitalism)
  • red-meat eaters (unless they also like sashimi)
  • private-property rights and freedom of association (for others)
  • anyone who likes most of the above
  • people who are opinionated, judgmental, intolerant, and hateful (high irony)

How Democracy Works

A minority of eligible voters elects representatives.

Those representatives — often by bare majorities — empower bureaucrats who effectively write laws and impose penalties for the violation of same. Bureaucrats are barely constrained by statutory law, and the Constitution is nothing but a word to them.

Bureaucrats aren’t accountable to voters, nor do they care one whit about the “people’s representatives,” except those who funnel money their way. Representatives exercise power through their pet bureaucrats, and so they care more about them than about the wishes of the voters who put them in office. Civil-service protections ensure that bureaucrats almost never lose their jobs.

Judges — elected by a minority of eligible voters or appointed by representatives who are elected by a minority of eligible voters — interpret laws in accordance with their political views. This is especially true of so-called liberals, for whom the Constitution and constitutional laws are meaningless.

In sum, Americans’ lives are largely controlled by functionaries who do as they wish — regardless of the views of voters, the law, or the Constitution — because they can almost always count on holding office for as long as they wish, and exercising their power with near impunity.

That’s “democracy” in America.

Related reading, here.

Dumb-Ass Logic

Will Wilkinson, writing about some idiots who inhabit Cato Institute, notes that their

case for Bernie Sanders is simply that Bernie Sanders wants to make America more like Denmark, Canada, or Sweden … and the citizens of those countries enjoy more liberty than Americans do. No other candidate specifically aims to make the United States more closely resemble a freer country. That’s it. That’s the case.

Here’s the problem with that “logic”: You can’t take a country that has a lower index of freedom than Denmark, Canada, Sweden, etc., and make it freer by making it more socialistic. The citizens of those other countries enjoy as much freedom as they do in spite of — not because of — their socialistic institutions.

Luckily (I think), president Bernie would face a Republican-controlled Congress. Though the actual will and ability of Republicans to oppose big government has become highly suspect.

Name That Politician

[T[he most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist … and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Ezra Klein, Vox

With the omission of one word, indicated by ellipsis dots, that’s a spot-on description of Obama. The omitted word is “sexist,” on which I’m agnostic because Obama’s cynical appointment of women (and blacks) to high positions could mask contempt for them as a group.

Anyway, Klein means to describe Trump. But Obama fits the shoes nicely.

Election 2016: Does It Matter?

If a Democrat is elected president, he or she can’t do any more damage to liberty and the economy than Obama has already done. (But … see below.)

If a Republican is elected president, he or she is unlikely to undo the damage to liberty and the economy that Obama has already done. (But … see below.) Republican presidents have a poor track record of walking back the bad things done by Democrats. They just don’t want to be “mean,” I guess.*

Here’s the “but”: The president gets to nominate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrat nominees are reliable leftists; Republican nominees aren’t reliable constitutionalists (e.g., Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Roberts) . But I’d much rather take my chances with a GOP-appointed justice than with a Democrat-appointed one.

If it weren’t for the power of appointment, I’d probably stay home on election day.

* Cruz may be “mean” enough, though possibly not electable because of his “mean” image. I’d love to have the chance to vote for Cruz, but I think Rubio would be a more appealing GOP candidate.

Society

If anything irritates me more than political correctness, left-wing cant, and thoughtless drivers it’s reification. By that I mean the practice of treating broad classes of things (e.g., Americans, voters) as if all members of the class harbored the same views and acted in concert.

Reification is manifested in such expressions as “the national will,” “the American character,” “the wishes of the electorate,” and (perhaps most egregiously) “society.” All such constructions submerge individual differences and suggest degrees of agreement and connectedness that simply do not apply to large masses of people.

Take “society” (please!). How many times have I read “We as a society have decided…” such-and-such about a government policy? Too many times. “Society” decides nothing about government policy. Politicians, bureaucrats, influential elites, and voting blocs set government policy.

Why arbitrarily constrict “society” to the geographic boundaries of the United States? If “society” consists of the myriad cultures, religions, social classes, economic classes, occupational classes, neighborhoods, churches, clubs, etc., etc., etc., that are comprised in the United States, it wouldn’t be a stretch to add Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean nations — and perhaps the whole Western Hemisphere — to the mix. In fact, given the vastly varied origins of Americans, it wouldn’t be a stretch to add the whole world to the mix.

There you have it: “Society” is synonymous with the population of Earth.

Doesn’t that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? Well, it might if you’re a muddle-headed lefty or a wishy-washy centrist who likes to think nice thoughts.

Here’s a way to squelch that warm, fuzzy feeling. Think about the people you don’t and wouldn’t associate with, and ask yourself (honestly) if you consider them to be members of the society to which you belong — the people with whom you associate because have much in common, including mutual trust and respect.

If you’re a lefty or a left-sympathizer (e.g., a well-off person with more money than sense), can you honestly say that your society includes, for example, ghetto gang-bangers or rural rednecks? I’ll bet that your honest answer is no. And while you’re on an honesty kick, you can probably list a lot of other types that you wouldn’t include in your society.

So, let’s quit talking about “society” and start talking about what really happens to our money and liberty when politicians, bureaucrats, influential elites, and voting blocs gang up on the oppressed majority.

Pop Logic

If you’re old enough to fight, you’re old enough to vote.

An 18-year-old is strong and full of energy — just what a foot-soldier should be. An 18-year old is impetuous and usually has little in the way of income, property, or investments to protect — just what a voter should not be. (Voting should be restricted to persons aged 30 or older who have income, property, and investments to protect.)

It’s okay to (insert crime or egregious behavior here) because others have done the same thing.

This is an attempt to absolve a person or group favored by the speaker or writer. By the same logic, the favored person or group could be absolved of murder. This kind of “logic” is often used to excuse the behavior of politicians (e.g., Hillary Clinton) and to justify reverse discrimination (e.g., “Whites got away with X, so it’s okay for blacks to do X.”)

Abortion should be allowed until X weeks, when a fetus becomes viable.

If the certainty of survival determines whether a human being should live or die, the human race should be exterminated because everyone is doomed to die eventually.

The death penalty doesn’t deter murder and should therefore be abolished.

It is because of such sentiments that the death penalty is no longer a common or certain punishment for murder, and therefore less of a deterrent than it used to be. Moreover, the death penalty is properly justified as a punishment. Its deterrent effect is secondary.

The death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished.

Murder is barbaric, and murderers should be executed so that they can’t murder again. And if potential murderers get the message, so much the better.

It is far more costly to enforce the death penalty than it is to keep a murderer in prison.

That’s because the cringing opponents of the death penalty have made it costly to enforce.

“Migrants” (the PC term for illegal immigrants) are human beings, and should be allowed to enter our country freely.

It’s true that illegal immigrants are human beings. The real question is whether immigration law should be changed by Congress (and not by executive fiat). By the “logic” of those who favor unlimited immigration, murderers (who are human beings, after all) should be allowed to murder with impunity.

Borders are arbitrary and shouldn’t restrict the movement of people who want to better themselves.

That’s okay if you know whether everyone who’s crossing a border is doing so to better himself — and not at the government-enforced expense of others. And if borders are arbitrary, why should you call the police if someone trespasses on your property and steals from you?

The “rich” should pay their fair share of taxes.

A person who says this is ignorant of the fact that the “rich” (i.e., those who earn high incomes) pay an overwhelming share of taxes. And he probably doesn’t consider himself to be among the “rich,” who are “those people” who earn more than he does.

I’m “rich,” and my taxes aren’t high enough.

The government accepts voluntary contributions. What you probably mean is that the government should raise taxes on the “rich,” presumably to give more money to the “poor.” Which suggests that you’re not rich because you’re smart. If you were smart, you’d know that government keeps a big chunk of taxes to pay above-market salaries to government workers and contractors. The poor would be better off if you and like-minded “rich” persons just sent your emissaries among the “poor” and handed out money. Or perhaps you don’t understand that the money which you spend and invest creates jobs that help to lift up the “poor” and end their dependency. Self-reliance is to be nurtured by job creation, not discouraged by handouts. But, as I said, you’re probably among the dumb “rich” — if not among the guilt-ridden (for no reason) or emotionally addled (i.e., functionally dumb) “rich.”

I like politician X because he’s becoming more popular.

That’ the implicit reasoning behind the bandwagon effect. For example, some people go from “undecided” between X and Y to “favor X over Y,” and it shows up in the polls. This leads the wishy-washy — bereft of principle and wanting to be on the right side of a trend — to join the movement toward X. And because of that more of the wishy-washy join the movement. And so on. The wishy-washy don’t necessarily prefer X and Y for an ascertainable reason, they just like to be on the winning side.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Sorry, but as much as I favor an almost-unlimited right to bear arms,* I can’t swallow that one whole. Unless you’re a witch or wizard, you can’t kill a person by pointing a finger at him. Guns do (often) kill people when people with guns point them (or not) and pull the trigger. And I daresay that most of the killings are intentional. Further, it’s likely that there would be fewer murders (though probably more crimes, overall) if there were fewer guns around. It’s psychologically and physically easier to kill someone with a gun than with a knife, a baseball bat, a garrotte, or bare hands. But even if guns were outlawed, I — like millions of other Americans who own unregistered weapons — wouldn’t give up my gun. Technically, that would make outlaws of me and the other millions, thus validating the motto “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” But we would hold onto our guns to protect ourselves from the real outlaws — those who use guns to harm, rob, and coerce others.
__________
* I draw the line at persons who have been convicted of felonies against persons and property, loonies, idiots, and minors. I don’t draw the line at type of weapon — anything goes.

People who oppose preferences for blacks (e.g., unmerited job offers and university admissions for the sake of “diversity”) are racist; people who oppose homosexual “marriage” and preferences for homosexuals are homophobic; and people who disagree with politically correct positions, such as preferences for blacks and homosexuals, are hateful.

All such statements are cheap rhetorical tricks, played by people who don’t want to confront the real issues; for example:

  • the harm done to non-blacks and homosexuals (and members of  those groups, as well) by preferential treatment
  • the harm done to traditional marriage by the state’s encouragement of nontraditional marriage
  • the predictable harm to property rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech, and the rights of non-preferred groups that follows inevitably from preferential treatment for any preferred group
  • the harm done to civilizing social norms by the disparagement of traditional norms, such as heterosexual marriage and advancement based on merit.

But blacks, homosexuals, etc., are victims.

So, it’s all right to victimize whites, Asians, heterosexuals, etc., but not blacks, homosexuals, etc. (For the tone-deaf, that’s a rhetorical statement, not a claim.)