Saturday, June 28, 2008

Who's more distrustful: smarts or dulls? I'm aware of two opposite images of smart people: 1) the toughminded cynic who is suspicious of others; and 2) the airhead who always seems naive about people (one incident of this was E.O. Wilson being thoroughly surprised at the violent reaction to his Sociobiology).

The General Social Survey asked 1,302 respondents if they think of themselves as a trusting person. Answers ranged from "very trusting" (=1) to "very distrustful" (=4). Here are the means by IQ level:

Mean distrust score by IQ level

High IQ (125) 1.82
Medium IQ (98) 1.50
Low IQ (71) 1.31

SD .67

The first image is supported here: Intelligent folks are almost a standard deviation more suspicious of others than slow people. As Erving Goffman claimed, people present an image of themselves to others that is better than the reality. Our public images are dishonest, we're all liars about ourselves, and dumb folks buy it while smarter people see through it.


  1. Id add that dumber people have a smaller time horizon as well.

    People can mean well and not follow through.

    Random Example: You make friends with someone. See his girlfriend, try to bed her, friendship off.

    A dumb person will truly have feelings of friendship with another person and yet try to bed his friend's girlfriend a week later because he doesnt think it through.

    A smart person will be choosy about forming a friendship in the first place or be cognizant of its implications. So they come off as more surly, less social.

    As I said, random example - but it gets the point across. In my experience, it is particularly noticeable in lower IQ blacks ( I do know a bunch) who combine low IQ and a voracious sex drive.

  2. I think you are excessively harsh on EO Wilson to use him as an example of a naive intellectual.

    After publishing Sociobiology, Wilson was attacked by an organized campaign of spiteful and dishonest but prestigious group of communist scientist colleagues - who used vilification of Wilson and others as a way of pursuing a political agenda.

    This was (thankfully) unusal, and could not really have been anticipated.

    (Perhaps the nearest precursor was the hostility against Hans Eysenck in the UK, which was similarly orchestrated for political purposes, but by less-clever and less-credible aggressors.)

    This hasn't happened much in other branches of science, and it seemed to depend on a few key personalities. So I can't accept that Wilson should have anticipated what happened to him.

    When something has not happened before, why should failure to anticipate it be regarded as naive?

  3. Anonymous2:31 PM

    Since the smarts are usually dependent on their ability to outdo the dulls for their position in society, it is possible to argue that those with smarts have a vested interest the continued existence of dulls.

  4. Anonymous11:11 PM

    From Andrew Greeley's That Most Distressful Nation where he reports the findings of a survey
    conducted by the National Opinion Research Center for Dr. Melvin Kohn of the National Institute of Mental Health. The survey attempted to assess various ethnic groups’ comparable levels of distrust. The scale went from Plus 4—most trusting—to Minus 4—least trusting:


    +2.506 Irish Catholic
    +1.583 Scandinavian Protestant
    +1.481 Slavic Catholic
    +0.767 German Protestant
    +0.757 German Catholic
    +0.502 Italian Catholic
    +0.242 White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant
    -3.106 Jewish

    Based on the other psychological charts presented in the book, these results might be a bit of an outlier.

  5. Anonymous7:15 AM

    And then there's the old joke:

    How do they say "fuck you" in Hollywood?

    "Trust me."

  6. Anonymous4:14 AM

    And then there's the old joke:

    How do they say "fuck you" in Hollywood?

    "Trust me."

    Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

    (I think that was Kissinger, in fact...)

  7. Anonymous4:15 AM

    Besides, WASPs are the second least trusting group you mentioned. So how does this show Jews are so bad?

  8. I scored well on standardized tests (1600 on 2-part SAT, etc.) and would say that 1) I am very distrustful of other people, but 2) I'm really bad at detecting when people are lying, so despite attempting to detect lies I usually conclude that people are telling the truth.


The Inductivist admits that culture matters

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