It's important when watching people like Jordan Peterson or Ben Shapiro to never let them lull you in with their presumptions and "suppose that"'s where they basically build some fantasy world, draw conclusions about it, convince you that it's our world, and then map those conclusions to the real world. The insights are only interesting or meaningful to that fantasy world they concocted, not the one we actually live in.
I decided to go ahead and watch this video and do a rough running commentary.
"You can't induct anyone into the armed forces unless they have an IQ of 83"
Literally not an IQ test. There is a standardized test with limitations and cutoffs. This is not really surprising. Lots of professions have tests, certifications, etc. that are require for entry. I'm immediately put off by characterizing this as an IQ test when it's literally a vocational test that they take.
I'm now suspicious of the entire premise of this video.
"Let's just take that apart for a minute because it's a horrifying thing"
I sort of agree that it would be horrifying if the Army were giving out IQ tests. They're giving out a vocational test though so... why are we now taking apart a statement you made up but attributed to the Army?
"The US Armed Forces has been at the forefront of intelligence research since World War 1"
What? I'm going to stop there because that sounds super fishy especially since I now know that the test they give is no an IQ test.
I looked around and couldn't find anything in support or denial of such a claim.
"they were onboard with the idea that ... you need to sort people effectively without prejudice so that you can build up the officer core so that you don't lose the damn war"
Sure, which seems to be why they've landed on a vocational test that's partially meant to gauge which field you'll be moved into.
That doesn't have much to do with intelligence, and most of the research on intelligence has shown that a lot of what we thought was intelligence was just a test for affluence. I'm hoping the ASVAB doesn't still fall into that trap and prejudice itself explicitly against the poor when considering how to build up the officer core.
"there's real motivation to get it right because it's a life and death issue"
Sure. Probably the first thing I've agreed with. The military takes seriously having effective officers. I'm betting he's about to make a claim along the lines that because the US Army is awesome they must've picked the best answer for finding officers. That's another thing that can be about socio-economics rather than any particular competence of the officer class.
"they used IQ"
Not from what I've found...
"they did a lot of early psychometric work on IQ"
Ah, okay, so I didn't look into how the Army did this right after World War 1. It would make sense to me that they might be doing this IQ thing back then because it was the mass movement towards "IQ" testing that has enabled to consistently see how terrible and stupid it is. Maybe the Army was at the forefront of this. They aren't any more though so this feels a bit like talking to me about the science of quantum leaps as if that weren't shown to be an incomplete model and we don't use it anymore.
"they were looking for an accurate predictor so they settled on IQ"
Demonstrably false if we're talking about now. They've clearly settled on a vocational test. They may have started with an IQ test, but they don't use it anymore, which heavily implies that all of that research was effective at disproving whatever premise we're building to here not at proving it.
"second the US armed forces is really motivated to get people into the armed forces"
I think I agree with this. We're seeing this play out now with certain conservatives trying very hard to continue excluding whole classifications of human beings from service while other parts of the army are really trying to just get more boots through the door and are tired of saying no to, at least, 50% of the population for roles they need filled.
My point here is that just because they are really motivated to do this does not mean that every action they're taking is motivated by this goal or assists in this goal. Lots of people still believe women can't win wars, but excluding women obviously reduces the candidate pool.
"you can use the army during peacetime as a way to move people out of the underclass and moving them up working class or the middle class."
Gotta love that hop, skip and a jump over the working poor and the general implication that the "underclass" isn't productively working. I wonder if this guy is also confused why poor people keep shitty jobs? I mean... he seems to get it... you need an "underclass" for the military to recruit from during peacetime. Who in the hell else would do it? Based on the way he's using points like this I'll add one of the following then:
"the army is strongly motivated to keep a certain number of people economically disadvantaged enough to recruit from"
I wonder how that might mix with some of the other motivators here? Is he going to explore that? I doubt it. He's going to get back to the faulty premise at some point soon I'm sure.
"You can use it as a training mechanism"
Certainly. The reverse implication is that the underclass needs this training and it's not something else keeping them out of the "working class". There are a variety of arguments against that.
I'm also reminded here that some of the training received in the army doesn't legally map to the civilian world, so there's an additional socio-economic barrier that both tends to keep you in the army or makes it more expensive to carry on the same job once you leave.
This goes back to that motivation I added. It's hard to pay a rich man enough for him to risk his life for you. The price tag looks much better for a poor man.
"the left and right can agree on that. It's a reasonable way of promoting social mobility."
That's definitely false. This is part of the military industrial complex that lots of lefties are talking about when they say they want to tear it down. He's framing this as a bipartisan assertion to continue to take you along into this fantasy world that the army encourages social mobility rather than the army exploits the economically disadvantaged "underclass."
"it's not that easy to recruit people, so you don't want to throw people out if you don't have to"
They have competing goals here. For most of my life they tossed out gays. For most of the US history blacks were explicitly banned or set as second-class soldiers. There's still a debate about the sort of jobs women can do in the military.
I think what he's about to say about this fantasy military is that they do consider IQ a good enough reason to kick people out despite that. In this fantasy world version of the military that might be a reasonable statement, but the military excludes people for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with IQ, so the recruitment goal is not an absolute indicator of anything.
"so what's the upshot of all of that, well after 100 years essentially of careful statistical analysis the armed forces conclude that if you had an IQ of 83 or less there wasn't anything you could be trained to do in the military at any level of the organization that wasn't positively counter-productive"
False. They do have a vocational test though that you can fail where they determine they don't want you in the army. I feel like we're in a place where he's about to say something like, "Because 80% of the world can't pass an MCSE, ergo..." which is ridiculous on its face.
"well so what, 83. Yeah 1 in 10. That's 1 in 10 people."
"what that really means as far as I can tell if you imagine that the military is approximately as complex as the broader society which I think is a reasonable proposition then there's no place in our cognitively complex society for 1 in 10"
Absolutely false. I didn't really need to do the other research because this is a ridiculous assertion. This is taking a subset of something, generalizing about it, and then asserting you can then replace the superset with those observations.
To make it about computers, this is taking the set of NP problems. Looking at the subset of P problems. Then just asserting that all NP problems must be P. It's important to note that there are some people pursuing this, because they think it may be true, but it's currently false because we don't have the data to bridge the gap.
The same thing is going on here. You cannot just assert that "military vocational testing" is equivalent to "general societal usefulness testing" and expect that people should follow along on that.
If you need another counter-example: General society sees women in all sorts of roles that aren't explicitly gated by gender. Any subset which artificially filters out women can't be seen as representative of the whole without much much stronger arguments than have been made here. If you don't like this with women think of anybody in the LGBTQ+, especially trans, and you'll find that they aren't nearly as motivated to find recruits as Peterson implies.
"so what are we gonna do about that?"
Point out how it's an invalid and unsound assertion and examine what we should do to modify our thinking about this problem since it has led to a false conclusion? That's what you do in math and science.
"That said it seems to me to be a hard and valid question to ask: "what should society do about the fact that there will be some individuals at low IQ regardless of resources expended?" <- This is the question I think Jordan is posing in the video."
Personally I think that's a dangerous, misguided, and, to some degree, unimportant question. I'll start from the end.
Unimportant. Why do anything about this? Are the useless destroying society? At no point did Peterson assert that there's anything new about this state of affairs. He even said the research has taken place over 100 years. That's a pretty long time where 10% of the population being low IQ hasn't stopped the American train from running.
Misguided. As you've pointed out, IQ is unsettled science. We're creating a sloppy definition of the problem we want to solve here.
Dangerous. Peterson doesn't offer solutions, only things that he claims don't work. He leaves the space empty. Let's look at even this thread for what that space gets filled with: Genocide. We were seven comments or so in when somebody said something implying they shouldn't be allowed to breed. He's inspired you to come here and, sorry to risk Godwin's law here, consider "The Jewish Question" as valid. Peterson happens to phrase it as "The Stupids Question." If you disagree on this point I'd be very curious what you think he's implying should be done since he only enumerates ways in which we can't solve "The Stupids Question" that aren't genocide.
"I of course appreciate the sensitivity to eugenics and applaud you for being on the lookout for that. I simply see zero hint of it in this video or in anything Peterson has every said.
This all started with a Peterson US Military example of enlisting men that were below the previous minimum IQ/aptitude.
Best I can tell this is a pretty well-documented historical fact - that it happened and that it had horrible outcomes for those poor low IQ individuals and those around them.
You can google Project 100,000 or see the video below which is actually very interesting (albeit tragic).
As for "what should be done about this" (beyond the military suitability question but more generally) perhaps a Minimum Basic Income, perhaps other policy items. As you point out and I acknowledge, Jordan is not proposing a solution but rather a societal challenge
If you are so inclined I'm happy to continue the dialog in a private chat; but I've found that public Facebook dialog only goes so far... 🙂"
"Best I can tell this is a pretty well-documented historical fact - that it happened and that it had horrible outcomes for those poor low IQ individuals and those around them."
I don't have any particular argument against the military excluding people who don't pass their vocational test. My problem with Peterson's invalid and unsound claim is that either the consequences of keeping around low IQ people, or the military's solutions to the problem of low IQ participants is generalizable or acceptable to society as a whole.
If the military tried to recruit a bunch of people that couldn't pass their vocational test, and it turned out poorly for those people, then it's reasonable (but possibly still systematically exclusionary) to learn that lesson. What isn't reasonable is asserting that a failure in a vocation must be the same as general failings. All of the people who cannot be computer programmers are not a "problem" that we must solve.
"beyond the military suitability question but more generally"
The military already decided what they should do, which is to exclude them based on the results of a test. If one accepts Peterson's implication that low IQ people being in general society has the same effect as it had on the military, are we also to carry over the solution? To me it seems that Peterson is implying exclusion of low IQ people from general society is the appropriate answer.
"Minimum Basic Income, perhaps other policy items. As you point out and I acknowledge, Jordan is not proposing a solution but rather a societal challenge"
He explicitly rejects UBI/MBI as a solution because he claims it's too hard and it doesn't solve "the problem." He claims it's impossible to fix them to make them not low IQ.
My assertion is that he really does mean for you to take away that "exclusion" solution implied above and is intentionally shying away from what form that mechanism might take because it is genocide. People don't just leave out their proposed solutions from a talk like this for no reason.
"If you are so inclined I'm happy to continue the dialog in a private chat; but I've found that public Facebook dialog only goes so far... 🙂"
I understand. I have no interest in talking about it privately though. It's important to me to publicly challenge these ideologies and doesn't feel worth my effort to challenge them only privately.
I'll leave the audience with this: anybody that's finding this analysis reasonable should think about other systems that our military has used to exclude people. If all of the women did poorly in the military, is it reasonable to say they should be excluded from society in general? If it were true that women could not be soldiers, does this mean that women have no role in society whatsoever? This is the sort of reasoning Peterson is using here. You should reject it.
We come here in search of a place to express our thoughts outside of the direct control and surveillance of unaccountable, mega-corporations. There is no common theme that binds us other than these being the bonds we've chosen rather than those that have been chosen for us.