Fluid intelligence vs crystallised intelligence

By The_Wobbly_Guy

1. IQ aka fluid intelligence is very much genetics.

2. The willingness to work hard, the industriousness component of the personality trait conscientiousness (using Big Five model), has also been proven to be highly heritable.

3. In other words, those who succeed - they can thank their parents for good genes and their own luck for inheriting the good genes. There is not as much inherent 'merit' they can claim, and on the flip side, not much demerit those who failed can be damned with. For those who are religious, they can thank whatever deities / concepts they worship, and then refer to Christ' parable of the talents - to those given much, much is expected.

4. Crystallised intelligence is input (conscientiousness to obtain the inputs) processed via fluid intelligence into memory and attained skills. Tuition is an example of this - students who aren't as smart (slower to absorb concepts) can compensate by going for shadow education to bridge the gap - this requires time, effort, and money. Our academic subjects, especially at the PSLE and 'O' Levels, mainly test for crystallised intelligence because academic systems generally all screen for both IQ and conscientiousness. The weightage on fluid intelligence (IQ) is significant only at the 'A' Levels (novel questions, novel situations, the Unseen in E Lit etc). A pure fluid intelligence (IQ) test is usually a pattern recognition test like the Raven's Progressive Matrices, or the psychometric test (which is the same thing with a different name) scholars have to take before they get their scholarship, where conscientiousness plays no part at all.

5. People with relatively lower IQs can still achieve greater crystallised intelligence and mastery in specific fields compared to people with high IQs. Think of the mugger who isn't quite that bright, but slogs through all the revision packages and spends a lot of effort, getting good grades compared against the slacker who procrastinated until just before the exams and did poorly. It requires hard work though, which once again deals both conscientiousness and industriousness - both being inherited traits. Ouch.

6. Add to that the already existing social inequalities, and the uneven distribution of opportunities for the poor but talented, and it can be very demoralising.

7. Hierarchies are a natural, and even desired order of affairs in the real world. When even lobsters are in hierarchies... You sure as hell want there to be competence hierarchies in medicine and surgery, for example!

8. There are many competence hierarchies - just because you can't top them all doesn't mean you can't top a single one. People with lower IQ can achieve high crystallised intelligence in their preferred fields and dominate their chosen competence hierarchy.

9. The rapidly progressing state of automation is decreasing the number of competence hierarchies that could be occupied by low IQ workers.

10. The challenge facing society is finding new niches and enough competence hierarchies for (a) those with lower IQ and high conscientiousness, (b) low IQ and low conscientiousness. Either that, or we finally just opt for universal basic income (UBI). How much does it cost to supply a guy with a room, a bed, communal toilets, 3 square meals and video games on a daily basis, hmmm...

11. Class segregation and inequality will worsen over time. This process is well described by Charles Murray of Bell Curve fame in his work 'Coming Apart'. I would add there is a centrifugal effect as well - this elite class will, through the meritocratic system, continue to extract the remaining top talents who make it despite their disadvantaged backgrounds into their ranks, perpetuating their wealth and talent despite regression to the mean with each succeeding generation, replenishing and maintaining the quality of the elite gene pool. Current Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing is a perfect example of this.

12. If class segregation gets bad enough, we go back to Mark Blyth's warning about inequality, "...the Hamptons are not a defensible position. The Hamptons are on a low-lying beach. Eventually the people will come for you."

13. How to square the circle? The answer is not redistributive programs - that simply discards a meritocratic power structure with one based on ideological purity (Cambodia, North Korea, Venezuela), which is infinitely worse. The answer is to enable people to realize that there are a hell of a lot of things they won't or can't do that others will and can do, and they should appreciate and respect the heck out of these other folks.

14. I've gone on school CIP trips before, but I've felt a better way would be to make these privileged, often wealthy (or at least middle class) students take up part-time jobs in Singapore's sanitation, cleaning, gardening, and F&B sectors during their term break. Their parents would scream, but doing these tough jobs under uncomfortable conditions may give them more respect and gratefulness for these essential workers than daily boring school presentations ever would. "There you would be, but for the grace of God..." A bit of hard-earned money in their pockets would also give them some real self-worth and respect.

15. Males in Singapore tend to be more egalitarian and more oblivious about this issue, because most of us serve NS and it is a tremendous equalizing experience, mixing around with people from different SES, and hence get that shared memory of doing stuff we hated under uncomfortable conditions. We all go through the same shit, we all bleed the same colour, we all gripe about the same things. Get any two guys together and they can almost surely always bitch about NS, even if they have nothing else to talk about. Contrast against the females, who really have no binding experience across the SES spectrum.

16. Which is why I support NS for females (not necessarily military service of the physical nature). I have a daughter (who is almost 3 years old now), and I think it would be a great and humbling experience for her to experience all the shit people go through when she grows older. I have to keep dissuading my wife from imprinting 'princess' fantasies on her. Sigh.

17. The Caucasians and the Japanese have done this respect thing better than us. I always remember the story of basketball legend Larry Bird - if he didn't play basketball, he would have ended up as a garbage collector, and there was nothing wrong with that. The problem is the predominant Sinosphere (and Hindi caste system perhaps?) culture placed a high premium and worth on wealth and class, which is also why white fair skin is so valued. Anything to do with working under the hot sun is for the lower classes. I'd like to think the Swiss, in contrast, would never accept this viewpoint. So, perhaps the reason we will never reach a Swiss standard of living, is because we don't think like Swiss folks!

I remember an anecdote by Jordan Peterson, about people working together to build a civilisation. He talked about two guys with disabilities, but compensating for each other's inadequacies and going out to fix electrical lines, so that the lights turn on, and how ungrateful we are towards the members of our society that make civilisation possible at all levels.

We need more of that.


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