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The last word on Jordan Peterson, and about an IQ cut-off for military service

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  • The last word on Jordan Peterson, and about an IQ cut-off for military service

    Maybe this doesn't quite live up to that build-up, but I did write a summary take on Jordan Peterson for another Quora question.

    The short version is that I think he's mostly right, mostly only citing established positions in psychology and philosophy (more in the first) that aren't up for debate.

    He does tend to express his opinion as final yes and no type conclusions, and that last step and framing are open to criticism. But people tend to criticize the parts they don't understand more than the parts that might actually be wrong.

    I'll cite a bit about that and the link, but it's too long to put all of it here.

    The end talks a little about that gender pronouns mess and philosophical relativism but the only example here is about the military setting a low-end IQ requirement cut-off.

    Here’s the thing: most people who criticize Jordan Peterson’s ideas don’t bother to understand what he’s saying before they do so, so they end up taking issue with what he didn’t actually say. There is room for criticizing some conclusions, and more about his general approach in summarizing complex themes, but in general his ideas are very sound, they just require some interpretation...

    Without getting mired in details, about three fourths of what he’s doing is just summarizing basic ideas that are so well grounded and so clearly accepted that if anyone could follow the background and what he means they’d have no problem with that. Then at the end, after getting through that part, he does tend to leap to his own rounded-off conclusions, which require some interpretation and scoping to appreciate, or really just to understand.

    That naturally leads towards offering an example, doesn’t it, back to the getting “mired in details” part? It’s tempting to start in on that gender pronoun issue, since it’s at the core of what he’s known for (although not at the core of his main messages), but for as messy as that is I’ll go with another example first.

    In one Youtube video posted recently he explains why it seems a concern to him that the US Army doesn’t accept people with an IQ lower than 83 (I think that was US, but then he is Canadian). He starts in on why there is a social issue that gets missed that is clearly implicated by this one entrance requirement position.

    Comments rejecting his position follow that pattern I’d mentioned: they don’t understand his basic point, or in many cases even what IQ or intelligence is. Of course Jordan Peterson does, and of course he assumes that background knowledge in making those points; how could he not.

    The idea is that 10% of the population isn’t considered functional enough by the military to do any work, to be even considered for enlistment. The point relates to why that’s a problem. It’s not a problem because the military is wrong, or biased against people with that particular cognitive limitation. It’s also not a problem because intelligence is a meaningless characteristic, or it can’t be measured effectively. Intelligence is only one relevant mental attribute and measurement and use of one yardstick have issues but all that does work well enough; it’s functional and meaningful.

    The problem relates to how such people could have any productive role in society, to what extent the military is doing the same thing the rest of society is. Society at large and government are not addressing that this proportion of citizens have a serious problem to overcome. It’s not that they need a military job and can’t get it; that’s definitely not the problem.

    The issue is that these people would have difficulty doing any sort of work. Some could be janitors, sure, or do other work. The deeper problem is that without other external family support the employment part of their lives probably wouldn’t work out, especially in the case of the lower 5%. I mentioned in a comment on that video that my parents were landlords at one point, owning a property with small cabins on it. Two tenants were former residents of a mental institution, there specifically for this issue, very low intelligence. Such institutions released a lot of residents in the 1980s in the US due to adjusting institutional social support roles under Reagan but this was prior to that. Those guys couldn’t have held a normal job. Maybe they could have mopped floors somewhere and maybe they couldn’t have, or problems could have come up related to them trying to do that. They probably weren’t dangerous; they were nice guys. My parents did let us spend time with them on our own (as young children) since they were isolated neighbors. Looking back on it now they were probably only around the current level of mental processing of my four year old daughter.

    One might still wonder, what’s the problem? Without landing in that favorable setting as those guys did they could’ve as easily became homeless or lived out lives in prison. Lots of people are experiencing that right now in the US, and turning a blind eye to it doesn’t help. Social programs could help such people but it’s not really easy for people who need help to understand the details and processing steps of such programs. More intelligent people who shouldn’t qualify would be more likely to draw on such support, because they could. My father was a welfare system social worker at one point, actually, which partly explains their idealism.

    So here Jordan Peterson is making some pretty basic points; lots of people have an obvious problem, and the position of military entrance restrictions highlights what it is. But he hasn’t dumbed down the explanation enough for lots of people to get it. Some would get hung up back on what “intelligence” even is, and if measuring it is meaningful.

    A lot of his ideas work out this way; if you already know what he’s saying the points are clear and insightful. If you’re way behind on background then you’d never make it to the final intended messages, and never be up to speed to take part in evaluating parts of that final leap and interpretation that may or may not work as a simple final take on a complex issue....

    (more follows on those other themes)

  • #2
    Those intelligence test don't depict the complete intelligence of someone. That's true, but if you want a job where finding patterns in several different options is necessary, then are those standard IQ tests a good option to know if a person is suitable for a job or not. 83 points is really low requirement, then the average IQ in those tests is around 100. You need at least 130 for most technical study subjects here.

    Peterson tried to touch a topic that people indoctrinated with pseudo equality idealism don't want accept. The point is, if they would be sure that such inequality in those test don't exists, they wouldn't be annoyed about this point. They know that it exists but they reject the reality in different types of their personal defense mechanisms for some higher good in their reality perception. For Peterson is that just "If you take the flak you're over the target" situation.
    Yeah, western societies are in same way indoctrinated than people in DPRK but into different direction. For them isn't the great leader the sun but something else what is beneficial for the western elites.

    In regard to those people who wouldn't meet the US Army IQ test. The thesis that those people are handicapped through false nutrition in their childhood or lack of education isn't valid in western world. The bitter pill of reality is the one that it's very related with genetics or with former mechanical, chemical damages of their brains.
    - Are such people dangerous for a society? .... No. A vicious high IQ individual is certainly much more dangerous for a society than somebody with 80 IQ.
    - Are such people more often victims of mental illness?.... No. People with high IQ tend statistically to more severe psychical disorders.
    - Are such people a burden for the society? ... No, if the society can give them proper function in their life. An adequate job for their abilities e.t.c.
    But they can be a burden if the society is neglecting them, they are more influential by others and can be used for criminality or violence.
    - Is the amount of such individual higher in some societies than others? .... Yes. One part of the puzzle can be for sure nutrition in the childhood and lack of proper education, but not only. It's somehow the 'hen and egg' paradox for those societies as well.
    Last edited by Hades91; 05-16-2018, 12:44 PM.


    • #3
      Peterson also claimed a person who finds a way to increase iq could get a noble prize meanwhile every educational institution I've ever been to already knows you can do that from simple practice and had known so for years, lel


      • #4
        It's not difficult for people to train to take IQ tests and improve scoring but actually raising their level of intelligence is a completely different thing.

        It's only one cognitive factor but it is meaningful and descriptive.

        I would tend to agree with all of what Hades91 wrote about related factors. Really that short video section from Jordan Peterson wasn't talking through what intelligence means in actual application though, only about that it seems to be meaningful. It was mostly about the military recognizing a lower cut-off limit that excludes 10% of the population, about how that seems to be significant, but he didn't talk through much of why in the clip shown.

        One point about lower IQ people being dangerous I might expand on. Those two guys I mentioned in that story are a good example of how that might work out. They were really nice, not dangerous at all. But they probably had roughly the mental processing capacity of my 4 year old daughter. She is a lot more intelligent but lacks a lot of life experience and the broad perspective that goes along with that. The question automatically comes up: could they have been a danger to us as young kids? Most likely not, but it's not quite that straightforward. I'll give an example.

        One of those guys had a dog who was quite old, and in that rural area it's common to practice euthanasia by shooting animals. It's more common in US culture now to let dogs go to the point of being incapacitated before even considering such a step, but at that time an animal suffering might be considered grounds for ending their life. I had a friend who let his dog waste away from cancer to the point that he couldn't eat, or walk, or maintain basic bodily functions, and weighed less than half what he did when he was healthy, before having him "put to sleep," and that's probably normal now.

        That guy shot that dog. The problem was that it's normal to take great care to make the end quick for the animal, and taking great care wasn't within his scope. He shot it several times, wounding it badly but not killing it over what was a cruelly long period of time. I remember my father being quite angry about that.

        Rather than that taken alone seeming like an important factor it makes me wonder what else he might have been capable of, which never actually happened. Under what range of circumstances would he have decided it was a right step to shoot another person? I certainly wouldn't give my daughter access to a gun, and in some ways they are on the same level for making decisions. He was much better at observing conventional limitations, because he had more life experience, but she can process information better--in a limited sense--as a four year old than he could as a 60 year old.

        Peterson seemed to be leading towards how a broad range of problems might come up related to the lowest IQ range of the population, not starting in on gun ownership issues.


        • #5
          One obvious observation from this retired U.S. Army officer, the U.S. military doesn't test for IQ before enlistment.

          I have no clue where this Jordan Peterson expert got that wrong impression.

          These are the only enlistment requirements for the U.S. Army:

          A U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien
          17-34 years old
          In good physical condition
          In good moral standing (not be a convicted criminal for the most part)
          A high school graduate or equivalent

          Please note the absence of an IQ test.

          Now their is a written proficiency test, but that is used to determine what best sort of military service that person fits.


          • #6
            Oh, the U.S. Army currently has no problem meeting recruitment quotas. The primary limitation on the recruitment pool of recruits is far too many kids are fat and/or can't pass the fitness requirements. And those standards really aren't that severe. The land of plenty produces a lot of useless fat kids not fit for military service in the regulars. This has nothing to do with IQ.

            Although they don't know it. They are still by law already in the unorganized federal and state militias (depending on age and sex, it varies from state to state).


            • #7
              For clarification, the test I was referring to is officially called the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). A recruit does have to achieve a certain minimum score. For the army it is 31, if you have a high school diploma. 70% of recruits score 50 or higher, so it isn't exactly a difficult test. But if you do fail it, you can take it as many times as you like and their are plenty of tutoring and practice tests available.

              If a recruit does not have a high school diploma but has a GED, each service handles it differently. For example, the army sets a limit on how many recruits each year can have a GED.


              • #8
                I took an ASVAB test myself in high school, not that I was really considering a career in the military, it was just something they had us do as some sort of general counseling step.

                Since I'm not sure how to place the use of that that I'll check an online source. When in doubt check with Wikipedia, right?

                The short version of that article seems to be that Peterson is right; there is testing, it does relate to a minimum score requirement, and in the end it does match up very closely with standard IQ testing.


                The ASVAB currently contains 10 sections (except the written test, which contains 9 sections)...

                An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is used to determine basic qualification for enlistment.

                AFQT Scores are divided into the following categories

                Category I: 93–99; Category II: 65–92; ...; Category V: 0–9

                The formula for computing an AFQT score is: AR + MK + (2 x VE)....

                ....The minimum score for enlistment varies according to branch of service and whether the enlistee has a high school diploma.

                ....According to Marks, "On the basis of the studies summarized here, there can be little doubt that the Armed Forces Qualifications Test is a measure of literacy."

                However, it is important to note that AFQT has been shown to correlate more highly with classic IQ tests than they do with one another, and that the "crystallized" intelligence measured by AFQT is measured very similarly by Wechsler, in particular.[8]


                • #9
                  The short version is Peterson is wrong if he thinks the ASVAB is an IQ test. You can take it as many times as you like. So you can brush up on the areas you did poorly in and get a higher score next time. Did the candidate magically become more intelligent between test 1, test 2, and test 3? No, they just prepped better.


                  • #10
                    I suppose it was already clear that not just Peterson thinks military testing includes an IQ test but the related Wikipedia article I just cited says that.

                    So we could accept that a clinical psychologist who has done research into personality testing is wrong, and it's a coincidence that the Wikipedia article is also wrong about the same point, or more likely that's the actual truth of the matter.

                    It's definitely possible to learn how to take IQ tests and improve your scoring, of course without any increase in intelligence at all, which isn't how that works. Those tests just cover specific types of problems, and you can learn how to solve them better.

                    It would help to be able to do versions that you can check the answers on, to work backwards to figure out why you missed problems, but just taking different versions would be enough practice to improve. I went through that process with my son when he was 4 related to testing to get into a semi-private school (kind of a long story).

                    Here's an online example of one: