Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Viewing the Liberal Arts from Another Perspective
A client sent me an e-mail wondering if he should instead major in engineering rather than his current major, construction management. Knowing engineering was the obviously superior major, I was already predispositioned to recommend it until he told me his IQ.
Now, it almost was mandatory he became an engineer.
I remembered vaguely a rule of thumb you needed an IQ of about 115 to be an engineer, but I checked first before consulting and found I was wrong. It was more like 120, with some of the higher level engineers having an average IQ of around 128 (Economics, ahem, ahem, also came in at 128). Regardless, he had more than the raw potential to become any kind of engineer he wanted.
But as I looked down the list I noticed the dramatic drop in IQ as you went from STEM to the liberal arts. Matter of fact if you took the average of the top STEM fields and compared it to the bottom of the humanities your average roughly dropped form 128 to 106, a full 22 point or 1.5 standard deviation drop.
This was interesting to me because I remember when I used to teach statistics I (in a brilliant stroke of retaliatory genius) had my students take IQ tests online and then calculate their percentile rank. The results were predictable, but I recall one of my smarter students all depressed because he scored a 79. I looked at him and said, "79? That's borderline retarded!" He sheepishly said, "Yeah, I guess I'm retarded." I then yelled at him, "John!!! You're not retarded!!!! You just didn't try your best! Matter of fact you purposely had to try to be this bad! Now take it again and try this time!"
Regardless, that number stuck with me, and as it just so happens it's true. 80 is considered borderline retarded.
However, it wasn't until 13 years later today did this little expedition into the world of IQ provide me some insight on the problems we have in academia, specifically as it pertains to the liberal arts. Compared to their STEM peers, liberal arts majors ARE retarded. The gap between a normal person with an IQ of 100 and a mental retard is 20. So the gap between a STEM major and your average humanities major would be like an average person with an IQ of 100 and the average liberal arts major with an IQ of 78. "Officially retarded."
Of course we don't recognize this or view it that way since we are on the "good" side of 100. People between 90 and 110 are "normal" and it is those who are above 110 that are the statistical freaks in a good way. But if we were to not look at absolute scores, but relative scores to your average STEM major (or, cough, cough, economist), dealing with your average "college educated liberal arts major" is indeed as painful as dealing with a mentally impaired adult.
Watching the average person get excited about sportsball to the point they get upset or happy depending on how one group of guys throws a ball against another group of guys?
Listening to women gossip at the water cooler about what dress which slut wore to the Oscars?
Channel surfing through TV, searching for a morsel akin to "The IT Crowd" or "Sherlock," only to have "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "The View" show up?
Bamboo shoots under the toenails.
It's no different than if your average humanities major had to deal with Rupret the Monkey Boy for their entire waking days.
But cultural comparisons aside this may also go a long way in explaining why so many of us on the right have had absolutely ZERO success in getting people on the left, specifically those in the liberal arts, to acknowledge and accept some basic mathematical facts and realities. To a guy with an IQ of 130 the concept of ever-increasing government debt leads to an obvious conclusion of unsustainability and collapse. But to your average early childhood education major, she doesn't even know (or care) about the difference between a million and a trillion. To the woman with an IQ of 140, she understands the concept that there is no such thing as money, only the goods and services it can buy. But to your average "Child Psychology" major he can't understand why pieces of paper don't have value. And to the guy with an IQ of 120, he knows villainizing and punishing "corporations" will simply have the effect of deterring them from investing in the place they are punished. But to your average journalism major, their brain isn't smart enough to overcome simply envy and spouts out "it's the corporations, man!!!!"
This is not to dismiss my theories that the true motivator of leftists is the mere formula of "laziness+ego." But it is to point out they may simply lack the intelligence to understand and comprehend "slightly advanced"
cause and effect,
rendering what we think are simple, black and white facts moot and ineffective.
Ergo, it doesn't make any sense to get angry with them if they can't understand "% GDP" or "exponential growth," because expecting that out of a liberal arts major is really like expecting a mentally retarded person to be able to do long division. And while it does not solve the country's myriad of problems, it does lower your blood pressure and provide a little bit of sanity.