Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Bryan Caplan expresses his surprise at Geoffrey Miller:

I’m impressed that after proclaiming himself “a secular humanist, an antiwar internationalist, an animal-rights environmentalist, a pro-gay feminist, a libertarian on most social, sexual, and cultural issues, and a registered Democrat,” he’s still ready to bet his life on the science of intelligence.

Well color me neither surprised nor impressed. Anecdotally, I’ve found that the more culturally “liberated” a person, the more likely he is to use the intelligence of others as a dominant metric when assembling character judgments.

This shouldn’t be surprising either, the less “liberated” one is, the greater the number of competing yardsticks jockeying for position in our judgmental faculties. Some of the most culturally and naturally ingrained of those yardsticks are incompatible with “liberation” as it is currently conceived, and so they drop out leaving only the least-controversial of them around — intelligence being a prime example.

I see this as roughly analogous to the broader process by which, as concepts become contested, the only political vocabulary that remains acceptable is the lowest common denominator vocabulary that we all recognize: health, safety, productivity, efficiency, etc. The irony is that these words are as sectarian as any others, but few seem to recognize this. Yet another way in which technocracy and license are mutually-reinforcing.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles