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An axe age, a sword age, an age when the Beeb admits rent control doesn’t work

“Why rent control isn’t working in Sweden.”

Surely Ragnarok is upon us.

40 comments to An axe age, a sword age, an age when the Beeb admits rent control doesn’t work

  • staghounds

    The article ends with the explanation- “While potential solutions are debated, Sweden’s swelling population looks set to add to the problem. Stockholm’s one of Europe’s fastest growing regions, with an extra 400,000 people expected in the city by 2030.”

    30 seconds of research tells us that Sweden has had about a 10% population increase in the last ten years.

  • John Lewis

    It would be interesting to know what systems are in place to provide housing for refugees, who surely make up a considerable proportion of the swelling population, and how this impacts those who have been on the waiting list for many years.

  • Ferox

    Regulations designed to prevent owners from making long-term profits are also fuelling market instability.

    Anyone who can read that and still spend a single second wondering about why Sweden has high rents must eventually reach the conclusion that wreckers and hoarders are to blame.

    Can the inevitable next step be long delayed?

  • Jim

    I can only assume that the holiday period may have allowed some articles to get through the net that would normally be caught by the BBC Thought Police – there have been a noticeable number of pieces on the BBC website recently with heretical headlines and containing ThoughtCrime of the vilest order. I’m sure once Big Brother gets back into his office from his holiday in Cornwall normal service will resume. And a few junior staffers will have had their cards marked…….

  • Snorri Godhi

    I noticed that article, but i didn’t click, because i thought that “in Sweden” is frivolous.

  • Plamus

    “If prices are information, then subsidies are censorship.” – Russ Nelson

  • Paul Marks

    In Britain the excuse for Rent Control regulations was the World Wars – in Sweden there was no excuse at all.

    It is a basic law of economics that if the government sets a price different to the the market price – the market will not clear. For goods (such as housing) price control (when the official price is below the market price) means SHORTAGES (which get worse and worse over time), for labour price control (when official wages are above market wages) the result is UNEMPLOYMENT.

    If people react to basic economics by screaming abuse (“you lack compassion”, “you want people to work for starvation wages”, “you want people to be squeezed for their last penny in order pay for slum living conditions”…), walk away. There is no point in trying to discuss things with people who deny the basic laws of supply and demand – you might as well try and have a rational conversation with people who say 1+1=2 is “White Supremacy”.

  • Paul Marks

    On the population increase due to massive immigration (and the natural increase of immigrant population) in Sweden – yes of course it will increase rents and housing costs.

    Henry George noticed that as the population density of part of California went up so the price of land went up – he thought this could be countered by his “Single Tax” (de facto land nationalisation), he thus totally missed-the-point.

    Economic law is not optional (and, as Frank Fetter tried to explain, the David Ricardo view of land is just as wrong as the David Ricardo Labour Theory of Value) – push up the demand for housing and the price (such as rents) is going to go up.

    Just as when you push up the supply of labour (of various types) the price of labour (wages) will tend to fall – unless there is a rise in productivity.

    So mass immigration of low skill labour tends to mean higher rents (and so on) and lower wages than would otherwise be the case.

  • NickM

    I really don’t get the 1+1=2 white suprmacy thing. For starters it goes totally against the history of maths much of which started in India, China and the Middle East.

    I have researched maths (astrophysical fluid dynamics – counted generally as maths rather than physics here in the UK), I am enormously interested in the history of the subject and I have taught it. Maths just is – one of the things I love about it. No gender, race, culture, whatever. It just exists. The anti-social sciences cannot claim this.

    In number theory, Kaprekar’s routine is an iterative algorithm that, with each iteration, takes a natural number in a given number base, creates two new numbers by sorting the digits of its number by descending and ascending order, and subtracts the second from the first to yield the natural number for the next iteration. It is named after its inventor, the Indian mathematician D. R. Kaprekar.

    Kaprekar showed that in 4-digit case, if the initial number has at least two distinct digits, after 7 iterations this process always yield the number 6174 which is now known as the Kaprekar’s constant.

    – wikipedia.

    Dattatreya Ramchandra Kaprekar was an Indian school teacher and recreational mathematician. His work was truly beautiful. He wasn’t white. That something so simply stated yet profound was only discovered in the C20th is truly remarkable. Of course the “Woke” don’t do maths because it requires smarts and regurgitating a crapulent faux Marxism is so much easier than drilling down to the base-code of the Universe which is what maths is. For sure it doesn’t answer everything but where it is appropriate it is superlatively powerful. Of course it can be abused as any tool of exceptional power can be. Yes, that’s you sociologists and economists on the hook there. I once read something by Jordan Petersen in which he quotes, rightly disparagingly, a student who worked out some social thing to like 7 sf and put a +/- on it of 0.3. Or something like that – I don’t recall exactly but it was utter pignorance. They have stolen the austere beauty and truth of mathematics and are hiding behind drivelious stats like pigs in knickers. You can “prove” anything with bad stats if you really want to. You can also arrange a cart and horse incorrectly but I don’t do equestrianism so you’re gonna have to take that on trust 😉

    BTW I don’t use the Kaprekar constant for anything secure. So don’t try it on.

    I can’t believe “intellectuals” witter on about unfathomable guff from Frankfurt when there is the Euler Identity or Maxwell’s equations.

  • Bridges do not stay up, nor airplanes fly, on partial credit. That’s partial credit in a lot of things, but math is one of the most important.

  • Dr Evil

    Why don’t you bloody supine Swedes rekindle your inner Viking Berserker, drink bear blood, take on a Bear fur, re-forge your axe, Blood Drinker, and do what is necessary to protect and purify your people? Just do it! You bloody well did it to your neighbours like us! Now is your chance.

  • SteveD

    ‘Why rent control isn’t working in Sweden.’

    I suspect it’s the same reason it didn’t work in Norway. Scandinavians are poor at central planning.

  • Lee Moore

    The Social Democrats, who lead the country’s centre-left national coalition, recently mulled reforms allowing market rents for newbuilds – but backtracked in June after the idea temporarily brought down the government.

    As you would 🙂

  • Fraser Orr

    I really don’t get the 1+1=2 white suprmacy thing.

    Kind of OT, but your problem here Nick is that you are looking at it from the wrong end. 1+1≠2 is not based on derivations of data, or the history of math, or any evidence of the origins of the idea. Rather it is simply based on the fact that black kids in America have dreadfully low math scores. And since the actual cause of that is almost entirely because of big state programs, they must find an different reason to pin it on, and “whiteness” is the now accepted cause of everything bad.

    It allows the people who are actually responsible for the terrible crime we are inflicting on millions of black kids, to get off scot free, and instead reflect it back on their enemies, much like Biden blaming Trump for the current debacle in Afghanistan. It is chutzpah of the most horrendous kind.

    It is programs like dreadful inner city schools, poverty programs that encourage, in fact reward, fathers to abandon their children, and mothers to have to work multiple jobs, so having no time for their children, or the real perpetrators of evil — the teachers unions — who refuse to allow parents to have some choice or competition in education.

    I mean you are right, Indians and the Chinese, not to mention the Arab revival of Greek mathematics, had these non white people doing algebra, geometry and elementary trigonometry, when the people’s of Europe’s math capability was “one, two, many”.

    And I think also a big part of that is the sense that one is wise when one tries to say the obvious is not true. For example, one explanation I have heard for 1+1≠2 was: “If you have one apple and one orange and you add them together, you don’t have two apples.” Such a statement is meant to make people who have no real math skill think you have a big wise picture, whereas people who have paid attention in class just roll their eyes at the stupidity of such a thing.

  • bobby b

    Frazer Orr: In some semi-drunken conversations with some friends in lib state government, I get the impression that it’s not so much the guilt over a feeling of “we’ve done a bad job of teaching these kids” as it is the more awful guilt of “there are groups of kids who can never really aspire to knowledge of math no matter what we do, so we need to stop judging people based on their mastery of it.” (Alcohol makes people say the darndest things!)

    The Bell Curve proposition (which we needn’t go into here) – the real one the author made, not the fake one assigned to it by skeptics – has support in the data, and while taboo, it has many believers, happy and unhappy, and more among the liberals than one might guess. (Why do you think they feel the need to be so patronizing and protective?)

    These people see the math thing as not being an attainable goal, and (while feeling horridly racist inside for having such thoughts), can only hope to find a way to work around it. Getting math-ability labeled as a bad thing is one such hope.

    But they’ll feel bad about it, as penance.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    Frazer Orr: In some semi-drunken conversations with some friends in lib state government, I get the impression that it’s not so much the guilt over a feeling of “we’ve done a bad job of teaching these kids” as it is the more awful guilt of “there are groups of kids who can never really aspire to knowledge of math no matter what we do, so we need to stop judging people based on their mastery of it.”

    I think that this rather betrays them though. If their goal is to get all kids onto the same bell curve, which is really a kind of collectivist goal, rather than maximizing opportunity and performance for individual students then I suggest they are on the wrong target.

    I’m not convinced by the evidence for the IQ difference in the Bell Curve, I think there are many epigenetic factors that seem rather more likely to affect performance (for example, good nutrition, parental demands, social conditioning, parental involvement), if there is a signal there, I think it is buried in that noise.

    However, the simple fact is that parents in the crappiest of school districts are lining up around the block to get their kids into charter schools (which are basically public schools with a tiny mix in of competition — nothing like what a truly competitive school system would be), and you’d be able to pull their kids out of there from their cold, dead hands.

    If the premise of the Bell Curve were true, something I doubt TBH, then you may expect to see Black kids on average going worse, but not that much worse. Baltimore School district has only 4 kids meeting middle school math proficiency. Not 4%, 4 individual students. And I guarantee those 4 kids are only there because they have amazing parents bailing the boat out as the school pours more and more crap in.

    We can fix the educational system fairly simply, and by fixing the educational system I mean fixing the rot in America because it is at the root of it all. How? Stop funding public schools and instead give every parent a $7000 credit per kid for educational expenses. It could be done at a state level — the Feds shouldn’t be involved in education anyway. Sweeten the deal by applying it from Kindergarten to Senior year of college. Within three years there would be a massive industry of education in the country that would have to fight tooth and nail for those $7k fees. And the only way to get it would be to convince parents that their kids are getting what they want. And most parents just simply want kids to excel academically. However, of course their would also be other types of schools. Schools that prepare kids for blue collar careers, or schools that focus on music or sports, or whatever. Parents would have a smorgasborg of options and that money would vest in them control of the schools and their performance.

    Of course the one group that doesn’t really want that is the Education establishment and the Teachers unions. For exactly the same reason that no monopoly wants competition. For which I’d refer you to Adam Smith, and his seminal work on ecomonies:

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
    It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law
    which either could be executed, or would be consistent with
    liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people
    of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it
    ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to
    render them necessary.

  • I see bobby b (August 29, 2021 at 9:37 pm) and Fraser Orr (August 29, 2021 at 8:23 pm et seq.) as describing two aspects of the same thing, not disagreeing.

    At a very deep level, the education establishment and its supporters are determined not to see themselves as the problem. It would be intolerable for them to think that only their methods fail to reduce racial disparities, let alone that it is their methods which maintain and increase them. They would much rather drunkenly ‘admit’ to bobby b that making an impact on the black disparity in maths is impossible than admit that reducing it noticeably is possible by replacing them with the sort of approach that a Trump-voter might espouse. Even as they in practice serve their own interests, they nevertheless identify so wholly as the anti-racists, and identify their political foes so wholly as the racists, that they would rather see themselves as apostate anti-racists who have lost the noble faith than look in the mirror and see the very ‘racists’ they love to hate or (worse, if possible) see their demonised enemies as blacks’ true friends.

    So I credit Fraser Orr’s analysis but I also find wholly believable bobby b’s report of a drunken conversation. The predictable next stage after they can no longer make themselves fear their ‘lying’ eyes is to fear their ‘lying’ minds. Better to believe in the innate inferiority of blacks than that anti-racism and racism are inverse to themselves and their foes.

  • Paul Marks


    Remember when you used to say that at least the left were not taking over the mathematics and physical science departments? Well now THEY ARE.

    It is not just “Social Scientists” who are coming out with Frankfurt School of Marxism guff – it is supposed “Physical Scientists” – who have betrayed science, utterly betrayed science.

    This is not happening in China – indeed the Chinese have a new character that means “white leftist”.

    For a Chinese use this term in relation to another Chinese is very rare – and it is meant (and taken) as a very severe insult.

    Stalin rejected the Frankfurt School of Marxism as utterly irrational and destructive (which it is) – Mr Putin is a thief and a murderer, but he is NOT Frankfurt School and he does not push their antics in Russia.

    The Chinese attitude is similar – Frankfurt School Marxist ideas are useful for destroying the West, but if anyone tried them IN CHINA that person would be quickly dealt with.

    The attitude that “rent control” can reduce rents without producing a housing shortage, or that “minimum wage laws” can increase wages without creating unemployment, is just as irrational as saying that “1+1=2 is white supremacy”, or saying that physics is about race.

    The Nazis got there at about the same time as the Frankfurt School Marxists – remember “Jewish Physics” – the idea that if Jewish people suggested a theory, that theory must (by definition) be wrong.

    Ironically many of the leading figures of the Frankfurt School of Marxism were from historically Jewish families – today Frankfurt School Marxism is riddled with hatred of Jews, masked as “Anti Zionism”.

    Remember if any group of people achieves more (higher incomes, better qualifications, whatever) than the average – that goes against “Equity”

    Inequality is “injustice” – so, for example, if black people are, on average, poor than other people this proves “exploitation” and “oppression”.

    Frankfurt School Marxism keeps the fundamental assumption of Marxism – namely that inequality (in health, income, whatever) is proof of “exploitation” and “oppression”. It just quietly drops the laws of history and economics.

    Thinking that passing an edict to reduce rents will work is very mild in comparison to all this.

    The Emperor Diocletian felt the same way – if you want something to be true, then pass a law and it is true. And execute anyone who does not fall into line.

    This was also the German “Historical” Theory of Economics (no real economic laws – just the whims of rulers) – and that was considered mainstream as far back as the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    No I am NOT making that up – cretins such as Gustave Von Schmoller were being treated as “great economists” even in 1911.

    If the government wants something (lower rents, higher wages, whatever) pass a law and it will be so.

    This is the heart of the Progressive movement.

    So why not pass a law saying that 1+1=3.

    Just pass a law saying 1+1=3 – and execute everyone that disagrees.

    This is the logical end point of “Rent Control” and all the rest of it.

    This both the Frankfurt School of Marxism and French Post Modernism embrace.

    Like the German “Historical School” before them, they REJECT reason.

    They REJECT the idea of universal objectively true principles.

    Not just in economics – in EVERYTHING.

    Including the physical sciences.

    And the university “scientists” are starting to AGREE (or they are forced out) that scientific laws are but “social constructs” – reflecting “power relationships” that go against “Equity”.

    If you do not understand – I am sure General Milley will explain it to you, with lots of people with firearms.

  • Snorri Godhi


    Remember when you used to say that at least the left were not taking over the mathematics and physical science departments? Well now THEY ARE.

    I plead guilty of being as dismissive as NickM of the threat of PC fascism to the hard sciences.

    It is difficult to be sure of what i was thinking at the time, but i seem to remember that i thought it would not be a problem for research (as opposed to teaching); that it would be less of a problem in Europe, since over here students in the hard sciences don’t have also to take courses in the “humanities”; and that problems might arise when the current crop of students get faculty positions.

  • Stonyground

    Part of the tragedy in all this is that, although mathematics can be incredibly difficult, basic arithmetic is fairly easy. Practically speaking basic numeracy is all that is needed to function in everyday life. Understanding percentages is a bit more difficult and is useful. Having been an engineer I needed a bit more mathematical knowledge and electronics requires algebra and an understanding of logarithms. Any teacher or school that can’t instil basic numeracy into any but the thickest kids isn’t fit for purpose. The same applies to teaching them to read.

  • bobby b

    Niall K:

    Some of the most committed (while still unwilling and unhappy and guilty-feeling) adherents of The Bell Curve ideas I’ve met have been teachers coming out of urban environments.

    Protective self-coloration in order to rescue their own feelings of value? Maybe. But I think there might be a simpler answer, and Occam was a smart guy.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m a bit puzzled by all these references to the Bell Curve. I select Fraser by way of example :

    If the premise of the Bell Curve were true

    What premise ? The Bell Curve simply presents a ton of statistical evidence that various life outcomes are to some extent correlated, positively or negatively with IQ test scores; and more correlated than those outcomes are with parental socio-economic status – a proxy for the social and economic cards you are dealt. That’s not a premise, it’s a conclusion.

    The Bell Curve never advances the view that life outcomes (eg income, jobs, family stability, crime, health, lifespan) are not correlated with those socio-economic cards. It merely presents evidence that those life outcomes are statisticaly more correlated with IQ scores.

  • bobby b

    “The Bell Curve never advances the view that life outcomes (eg income, jobs, family stability, crime, health, lifespan) are not correlated with those socio-economic cards. It merely presents evidence that those life outcomes are statisticaly more correlated with IQ scores.”

    Which was my point in my framing above (“The Bell Curve proposition (which we needn’t go into here) – the real one the author made, not the fake one assigned to it by skeptics . . . “). And I have no reason to think that Frazer Orr doesn’t understand this, also.

    But this basic conclusion is anathema in and of itself to many progressives, based not on the merits of that conclusion, but on how it can lead to bad places. And my point was, many progressives seem to find themselves squarely within those bad places.

    Whether that makes my experienced schoolteachers racists or race realists I’ll leave for others to argue, somewhere else.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I’d like to ask bobby what he understands the thesis of The Bell Curve to be.
    I am asking this because i have not read the book myself.

    My understanding is that:
    * There is positive evidence that White Americans have a significantly higher IQ than Black Americans (about the same difference as between Ashkenazi Jews and White Americans).

    * There is no convincing evidence that this difference is genetic.

    * There is controversy about the importance of IQ, but it seems foolish to dismiss it altogether.

    * Charles Murray agrees with at least the first 2 points above.

    — Added in proof: if you ask me, diet is at least as important as genetics; and genetics is important, to some extent, because what you can eat without too much brain damage depends in part on genetics.

  • NickM

    I know… I didn’t wanna know. I thought – I hoped – that the hard sciences were our last redoubt – where our Minas Tirith lay. But they weren’t were they? They may have fell after the arts and social “sciences” but they still fell. I went to Nottingham University to study science. I still get stuff from them asking for money and it is all “woke” now. As I recall there is one statue on Nottingham University’s main campus. It is not of Sir Peter Mansfield FRS (and a Nobel) – who taught me quantum mechanics. It is not of Sir Jesse Boot who gifted the campus (a very handsome thing indeed). Sir Jesse is also noted for a certain pharma company he founded. No, they have a statue of D H Lawrence. Lawrence was a well-on leftie – but let’s not hold that against him for he was an omni-cunt. I got a good degree in Physics. Lawrence got by on a teaching certificate and called Nottingham (then University College, Nottingham), “That dismal college on the Trent” and absconded with the wife of a Professor of German – not because she was good-looking or charming or anything but just because she was into anal sex – or as Lawrence put it, “sex without friction”. So, they have a staue of him looking noble and beneficent with a butterfly in his hands. They don’t have a ststue of my prof who won the Nobel in physiology/medicine for developing magnetic resonance imaging. Or indeed of Sir Jesse Boot. They ought to either (or both) rather than a scumbag who couldn’t write for toffee.

  • Fraser Orr

    Part of the tragedy in all this is that, although mathematics can be incredibly difficult, basic arithmetic is fairly easy. Practically speaking basic numeracy is all that is needed to function in everyday life. Understanding percentages is a bit more difficult and is useful.

    See, I find this a bit shocking. You may be right, but kids sit through twelve years of math education and you think getting as far as basic numeracy, or, advanced students getting to understand percentages, is somehow an acceptable baseline? I remember talking to a guy I worked with, a very successful sales person who worked with me selling complicated software technology. He told me about this problem his kid had asked him about. “I travel north 6 miles, then west 8 miles, how far am I from the start as the crow flies?” He explained to me how ridiculous that problem is, and that there was no way to do it without drawing it on a piece of paper. You are an engineer, so I am sure you knew the answer before you read the last word in the sentence (though you are probably smart enough to ask if it is a Euclidian plane, or spherical geometry…. but then you’d just be showing off 😀.)

    How can a highly successful person who graduated from one of the best high schools in the country and has a degree from a large university not know Pythagoras’ theorem? Something that is arguably the most useful discovery in the history of mathematics? He isn’t some black kid from some crappy inner city school. One of the things I remember when I first moved from Britain to the USA, and ran my first business here was how dreadful the grammar was. My team used to send emails to customers, and when I saw them it just took my breath away how poor their grammar and spelling was, of how utterly unprofessional their writing was. Again, I only employed college graduates, how can you POSSIBLY get through sixteen years of education and not know the difference between their, they’re and there? I mean WTF are they teaching in all that time? (FWIW, I STILL see this despite the fact that every email client and word processor puts a little squiggly line under spelling and grammar mistakes.)

    You may well argue that more advanced and abstract mathematics like calculus is beyond the actual intellectual capacity of some people. I think that is probably true. In my field, computer programming, I know for a fact that less than 10% of people have the abstraction ability to function as a professional programmer — and that is among those who claim to be one, and who have an education in computer programming. But the idea that, for example, the mathematics required for an SAT test is beyond any but the most intellectually challenged is ridiculous. The only explanation is some toxic combination of very poor teaching, and social conditioning that destroys motivation and desire to learn. However, the fact that these two things are the two things we are not ALLOWED to attribute these failures to, rather we must find an explanation EXCEPT those, tells you all you need to know.

    (I have kids doing SATs, so to give you an idea, the most advanced topics in SAT are maybe two or three questions out of maybe 80 or 90 on very basic ideas of complex numbers, and very, very basic trigonometry. Everything else would fall under the category of Algebra 1 and introductory geometry.)

  • bobby b

    Ah. The last comment of mine says “awaiting moderation.” So it will be a duplicate – too many links? Please delete the first if possible, as the second has the more complete list.

  • bobby b

    Frazer Orr – most people with college degrees (in the US, at least) had their last exposure to math class somewhere in high school. And it was likely algebra. You sound like me bemoaning how so few people seem to remember what the Constitution says. In reality, few ever studied it.

  • Over fifty years ago, Arthur Jensen wrote (I quote from memory)

    There are great and relatively untapped wells of talent and capacity in the black race

    – wells which, he argued, could be unlocked by different teaching methods. However he was a ‘vile racist’ to whom all that five-decades-past cancel culture could do was done because he held that the marked practical improvements in black numeracy and literacy that he believed possible would not be accompanied by marked improvements in IQ scores. Thomas Sowell agreed with the quote, and the need for different teaching methods, but argued that improvements in IQ scores too would likely follow in time, instancing the noticeable improvements in Hebridean Islanders’ IQ scores as their exposure to wider UK culture increased, and in eastern European Jews’ IQ scores between arriving in the US and when tested again after a decade or two of assimilation.

    It would be nice if blacks could be taught so as to gain these benefits, and incidentally so all of us could in time find out whether Sowell (in my opinion the more impressive and deeper thinker) or Jensen were right, but the drunken teachers bobby b describes will never allow blacks access to those different teaching methods if they can help it. It’s OK for them to tell each other privately that blacks are innately incapable of learning anything much, but for Jensen to say publicly that they are very capable of learning the three Rs to a valuable standard if differently taught, but innately not capable of doing the same for their IQ scores, is a double breach of the PC omerta code, and as for ‘race traitor’ Thomas Sowell … .

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Thankfully, here in Asia we are still quite sane. About 25% of the student cohort in Sg take the following mathematics syllabus.

    I think it’s a bit too difficult though for 18 year olds.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you bobby!

  • Jacob

    “These people see the math thing as not being an attainable goal”

    Maybe they judge from their own experience? “If I could not get math how can “we” expect black kids to do it?”
    Maybe “these people” are not only racist but also dumb?

  • Kirk

    Y’know… Here’s a couple of thoughts on what this thread morphed into, the discussion of intelligence.

    I would like to submit a couple of things regarding this: One, the utter lack of objective assessment for the result of all this “intelligence testing”, in terms of what the supposed “cognitive elite” has achieved, once they were enshrined as such.

    Look around you. Is the world a better place? Are they doing a better job of managing things? Is your life objectively better, because someone who did really, really well on the tests got put in charge, rather than some well-connected not-so-testably-smart member of the old elite?

    At least, most of those benighted relics were taught a few of the old noblesse oblige values, some of the time.

    The first point is this: The stats that all highlight the correlation between life outcome and doing well on the tests…?

    What they don’t do is factor out the self-fulfilling prophecy implied by the widespread use of all those IQ tests in the first place, selecting people for educational opportunities, followed by their subsequent placement high up in the hierarchies of the world outside academia.

    These statistics may well be true, but the utter failure to consider that they don’t automatically imply real-world success absent their use in “potential” assessments and then placements into advanced academic programs resulting in ever-higher placements into positions of power and economic leverage…?

    Yeah; I have my doubts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a study with a construction that would factor these things out–It’s all college students, all the way down. Go out and test the general population, don’t tell them the results, don’t use those results in any form of “tracking”, and then get back to me after a few longitudinal studies lasting generations. I’ll lay you long odds that there are actual observable negative impacts caused by mis-identified “intelligence” that really isn’t anything but a mis-identified form of autism.

    Truly smart people don’t do the things our elites get up to; actual intelligent minds can think through cause-and-effect, and project the actual outcomes of these idiotic policies and ideas they might come up with. The fact that these creatures can mimic the outward forms of what we think we’re terming “intelligence” by doing really, really well on these tests and all the rest of the infrastructure we’ve based on them?

    That’s actually utterly, factually meaningless in the face of what they do, what effect they have out here, in the real world.

    Smart is as smart does, and if what you think is smart ain’t actually doing or producing smart things that work…?

    Maybe you better re-calibrate what you think is “smart”.

    I have doubts about all of it–Doubts that I think you can see made manifest in the world around us. The “experts” keep making these promises about fixing things, but what do we get?

    Nobody goes to these jackasses, after the failures and says anything like “Hey… We had this problem with homelessness; you promised a solution, and we gave you a billion dollars a year to solve the problem. It’s been five years, and five billion dollars, and there are more homeless than ever out there on the streets… You’ve manifestly failed; get out of this office, and never seek power or authority again, you charlatan…”, followed by at least trying another solution.

    We just keep right on doubling-down, ‘cos these people did really, really well on all the tests, and they’re the smart ones, the technocrats, the genius high priest-kings of intelligence. We’re all mesmerized by their smarts, we are…

    Not so much, in my case.

    There is never any objective after-the-fact assessment of these idiots and their policies; we never set metrics before taking them up, and we never go back after the fact and acknowledge “Well, that didn’t work… Let’s not do that again…”.

    I think it’s about damn time we start applying standards for their performance. If it looks smart, sounds smart, yet doesn’t actually work? IT IS NOT SMART.

    What you should do at the outset of implementing one of these pet solutions of the “cognitive elite” is force them to state the conditions as they exist, what they plan to do, and the intended outcome by such-and-such date. That way, we can objectively assess on that date whether or not it worked, and go on from there. See how easy that is?

    I don’t know what IQ measures, but I have my doubts that it is any form of practical intelligence, nor that it measures another vitally important component at all–Wisdom.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    What you should do at the outset of implementing one of these pet solutions of the “cognitive elite” is force them to state the conditions as they exist, what they plan to do, and the intended outcome by such-and-such date. That way, we can objectively assess on that date whether or not it worked, and go on from there. See how easy that is?

    Yup, I said the same thing before. It’s common sense, yet nobody does it. Why?

    But as for the rest of your comment on IQ, I think it’s important to note that the government and other institutions in the US clearly do not select for IQ, but rather something else. So many of your ‘elites’ in US universities are actually cognitively limited or lack the ability to think critically. Part of it is the Gramscian neutering of education, another part is that they are just not that smart in the first place. Yet another part is the nature of your tests – your tests are a joke, and simply only weed out the truly stupid. Your education system is just not discriminating enough, and I think your government purposely designed it that way.

    So who gets on top? The well-connected, the suck-ups. I’ve never been impressed with the quality of US bureaucrats anyway, and I have never regarded them as some form of cognitive elite.

    Case in point: the maths syllabus I posted. Would you expect your cognitive elite to be able to learn it competently at 18 years old? If not, then they’re not truly cognitive elites.

    For Singapore, I can safely say yes, our cognitive elites in government definitely can. After all, they went through this syllabus. (except for those small number of losers who went through the Arts stream to escape Maths. Boo!) Our PM was even Senior Wrangler at Cambridge.

  • Lee Moore

    Kirk’s wee rant seemed a little confused in places, so :

    1. IQ tests are not limited to college graduates. A lot of The Bell Curve’s stats were accumulated over decades, long before it was usual for lots of people to go to college, and long before colleges became rather picky about who they would let in. Now that colleges are a wee bit picky and now that a large proportion of the 18-22 year old population goes to college, it’s hardly surprising that that proportion is the proportion is the proportion that does well on IQ tests.

    2. The correlations between IQ tests scores and life success are measured across the IQ range, not just for the 125s and above. IQ tests are designed for everyone, and are “normed” – one of the effects of this is that they aren’t particularly good at identifying the “truly” cognitive elite from the “fairly” elite, or the “truly” dumb, from the “fairly” dumb. It is also the case that sometimes people are “too smart” for some of the questions in an IQ test – ie they can see other angles that didn’t occur to the question setter.

    3. Nobody pretends that IQ and life success are 100% correlated. Obviously there are many other factors, not excluding luck and connections. So there’s no reason to expect that everyone at the top has a spectacular IQ.

    4. Nor is it necessary to believe that IQ tests measure “intelligence” – whatever that may be. All that you need to know, for IQ tests to be useful, is that the scores on them correlate, to some extent, with various life outcomes, and for capability to do different sorts of jobs. For example one example that Herrnstein and Murray quote is from US Army IQ tests – which determined whether you were destined for signals, or engineers or for combat. The Army had discovered that higher IQ folk were better at signals and engineering than lower IQ people. But that for combat, it made less of a difference. Who’da thunk it ? The Army also concluded that – though they were DESPERATE for men – there was no point taking anyone with an IQ score of below 85, as there was no job they could assign to them that they would be trainable for. Presumably, with a higher tech miitary, the IQ cut off is now higher.

    5. It is also the case that C Tests (ie Conscientiousness tests) would be just as useful to employers as IQ tests, since conscienciousness is just as correlated with “useful employeeness” as is IQ. It’s just that no one has yet invented a valid and reliable C test.

    6. But IQ tests ARE valid and reliable – within the claimed confidence limits.

  • Kirk (August 31, 2021 at 6:38 pm) asks the very sensible question of whether the ‘cognitive elite’ are really anything of the kind, given how dismally they are performing.

    This relevant comment at the end of a relevant post is one example of how the so-called elite today, like many a ruling class throughout history, is beset by gate-crashers who fake their possession of the entry criteria or else contrive exemptions from them.

    However the more fundamental point is the one made by Thomas Sowell in ‘A Conflict of Visions’, ‘The Vision of the Anointed’ and so on.

    * When the ‘elite’ are behaving as we wish they would let us behave – when they are pursuing their own affairs and seeking to benefit themselves, to progress their careers – they can effectively use whatever cognitive abilities they have to help attain their goals.

    * When the elite are preventing us from acting like them – when they are trying to manage our affairs supposedly for our own benefit – they are not competent to do it, not just because they are not as intelligent as they think (though they certainly are not as intelligent as they think), not just because they are not as high-mindedly serving us not themselves as they pretend (though they certainly are not as high-minded as they pretend), but because in general socialism does not work, philosopher kings do not work, replacing ad-hoc trial and error with pre-planned direction does not work, replacing incentives with intentions does not work. There is no ‘true’ cognitive elite who, replacing the current lot, could use the same methods of working it all out in theory, and then assuming they are clever so the theory must be right, to run our lives for us.

    The current ‘elite’ are reacting to failure by making it harder to point out, through such tactics as ‘misinformation’, ‘cancel culture’ and ‘hate’ speech. This response to their incompetence makes them less competent still. But their failure was embedded in their very decision to regard themselves as clever enough to run ordinary non-‘elite’ peoples’ lives better than those ordinary people could themselves.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Not an exact measure of conscientiousness, but my country’s civil service has figured it out.

    Simply put, they measure IQ first. Then they cross-check with actual academic achievements which rely on IQ and conscientiousness. From there, they can roughly get a measure of conscientiousness.

    E.g. a very smart guy would be expected to have participated in advanced H3 courses, research projects, and Olympiads. If he didn’t, then it’s a sign he’s coasting by on ability and not hard work.

    Or the guy who got good results for the A levels but didn’t do all that great on the IQ test. Then he probably has high conscientiousness.

    The Sg A Levels (vastly different from the UK and international versions) are so difficult that even the smartest students need to have a certain level of conscientiousness to do well.

  • rxc

    “…basic arithmetic is fairly easy…”

    I have a very short test of this concept that I try to use when I can. I buy something where the bill ends up at, say $12.32, and hand the cashier a $20 bill. They (both male and females) ring it up on the register and start to pull out my change, so I say -“Oh, I have some change here”, and give them $0.07. In the past year I have experienced at least 5 people who did not know how to deal with this situation. Several times I got the response that they had already entered my $20 into the machine, but most of the time, they just did not know how to make change. In one case, I was told that they needed to call the manager who could unlock the register and void the transaction and do it all over again.

    I started this after reading a story about how math teachers are writing peer-reviewed papers that say that it is not necessary to teach arithmetic any more, because no one does it – they just punch numbers into a machine.

    This is horrifying. Without arithmetic, you cannot progress to any of the higher levels of math. They are all based on arithmetic.

    I am waiting for some educational academic to start arguing that people don’t need to learn how to read. After all, we can now talk to the machines and they can talk to us. The only thing people need to know is how to understand the spoken word, and to obey.