The Stupidity of the Discontented?

Lower IQs Linked To Less Happiness (via Barking up the wrong tree.) It appears that, to paraphrase the old curmudgeon Kinglsey Amis, that there is no end to the ways that being smart is better than being dull. In addition to living longer and being healthier, smart people make more money, have lower levels of social pathologies such as drug and alcohol abuse and divorce and illegitimacy, and are better looking. Now comes the unoriginal insight that they’re happier too – as if having greater measures of life success didn’t automatically lead to greater happiness.

People with lower IQs tend to be less happy and have poorer health in general than individuals with higher IQs, researchers from University College London reported in Psychological Medicine.

The authors explained that “background happiness” and IQ (intelligent quotient) are independently associated with positive health outcomes. However, previous studies had not been consistent regarding the relationship between IQ and levels of happiness.

The same university carried out a study in 2011 which found that people with higher levels of happiness tended to have longer lifespans, regardless of their overall health status or income.

As the great Linda Gottfredson has said, life is an IQ test.

By the way, one conclusion that can be drawn from the above study is a refutation of the notion that “IQ is what IQ tests measure”, and that it has no real life application. Because if that were so, we wouldn’t see the robust correlation between IQ and so many other measures of life success.

Sexual liberation, the end (or non-enforcement) of victimless crime laws, and the general do-your-own-thing level to which society has descended have arguably hurt the less-intelligent peoples happiness levels. It’s just so much easier to go out and do stupid, life-damaging things now, like having a baby out of wedlock (becoming a “single mother”).

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6 comments
bgc says October 19, 2012

And yet high IQ is grossly maladaptive in biological terms (reducing reproductive success) in modern societies (mostly via its effect on women) – unless counteracted by some very traditional separatist religions.

So, since the industrial revolution, the benefits of higher IQ are rather like the benefits of a male being castrated – be healthier, live longer, but…

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Mangan says October 19, 2012

Aren’t high IQ people merely responding to the incentives which modern society has put in place? If high IQ is grossly maladaptive, then there’s something very wrong with society.

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bgc says October 20, 2012

SINCE high IQ is grossly maladaptive, then there’s something very wrong with society. That’s what I keep saying.

If a biologist looked at modern societies, and saw the degree of reproductive suppression among elites specifically and natives in general, then he would assume (correctly) there was something VERY wrong.

Since the only antidote to this modern reproductive suppression is (some types of) traditional religion, we have a clue to what is very wrong.

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Mangan says October 20, 2012

More intelligent people (in Europe and the U.S.) have apparently been having fewer children than the less intelligent since around the start of the Industrial Revolution, right? Religious belief didn’t begin to wane until much later.

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JayMan says October 21, 2012

But then, there is the link between IQ and mental illness (as seen from the now closed Secular Blood), which presumably includes depression. Are the lives of the low-IQ that much more miserable in general to make up for the apparently higher rates of depressed people among the high-IQ?

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Mangan says October 21, 2012

JayMan: AFAICT, the link between higher intelligence and depression is a myth. For instance:

Intelligence in childhood and risk of psychological distress in adulthood: The 1958 National Child Development Survey and the 1970 British Cohort Study
Catharine R. Gale a, ⁎, Stephani L. Hatch b , G. David Batty c,d , Ian J. Deary

a b s t r a c t

Lower cognitive ability is a risk factor for some forms of severe psychiatric disorder, but it is unclear whether it influences risk of psychological distress due to anxiety or the milder forms of depression.
The participants in the present study were members of two British birth national birth cohorts, the 1958 National Child Development Survey (n=6369) and the 1970 British Cohort Study (n=6074). We examined the association between general cognitive ability (intelligence) measured at age 10 (1970 cohort) and 11 years (1958 cohort) and high levels of psychological distress at age 30 (1970 cohort) or 33 years (1958 cohort), defined as a score of 7 or more on the Malaise Inventory. In both cohorts, participants with higher intelligence in childhood had a reduced risk of psychological distress. In sex-adjusted analyses, a standard deviation (15 points) increase in IQ score was associated with a 39% reduction in psychological distress in the 1958 cohort and a 23% reduction in the 1970 cohort [odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 0.61 (0.56, 0.68) and 0.77 (0.72, 0.83), respectively]. These associations were only slightly attenuated by further adjustment for potential confounding factors in childhood, including birth weight, parental social class, material circumstances, parental death, separation or divorce, and behaviour problems, and for potential mediating factors in adulthood, educational attainment and current social class. Intelligence in childhood is a risk factor for psychological distress due to anxiety and the milder forms of depression in young adults. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this association may help inform methods of prevention.

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