In the politically correct era, arguing that people are born with different abilities and different innate intelligence is close to taboo. Suggesting that different cultures have different effects on individuals is also suspect. Judging the value of a particular culture, and the extent to which it shapes and encourages intellectual and emotional growth in individuals is an extremely controversial issue.

I like to read widely in the fields of sociology and cultural anthropology, particularly in relation to contentious contemporary issues like race, gender, intelligence, social responsibility, employment and recreational drug use. I also like to hypothesise about connections between research findings.

A recent article in the New Yorker about IQ testing and IQ research carried out by Malcolm Gladwell suggests that the culture in which someone grows up has a significant impact on their IQ: “I.Q. measures not just the quality of a person’s mind but the quality of the world that person lives in.” Sustained intellectual stimulation leads to greater intellectual growth (at least as measured by IQ tests).

I’ve written previously about social inequalities, education and unemployment, and white trash. I think cause and effect are routinely confused by well meaning but hopelessly poitically correct researchers and bureaucrats. Many of these writers and researchers argue that social disadvantage and poverty results from social exclusion and underemployment.

In contrast to these writers, in Resources thrown in the wrong direction, Peter Saunders from the Centre for Independent Studies argues that “Training unskilled welfare recipients doesn’t work.”

Elsewhere, he explains that:

many of them are unskilled and unqualified, and demand for their labour has been falling as a result of technological change and competition from abroad. Our economy has been booming over the last 15 years, but three-quarters of new jobs have been for graduates, and unskilled people have been dropping out of the labour force. In 1981, three-quarters of unskilled men had full-time jobs; today it is fewer than 60 per cent.

It may be an unpalatable truth for a new, optimistic Labor government to swallow, but not everybody has the ability to benefit from more education and training. Some people are not cut out for year 12 schoolwork, or a university degree, or a technically-skilled job.

The reason why some people cannot benefit from further education and training is because they have low intelligence and little to offer society. As I’ve previously claimed:

There is no point in delivering expensive services to someone who is incapable of benefiting from them. Governments must find other strategies to integrate such people into society, or at least to minimise their economic inefficiency and negative impact on society.

Saunders has more to say on this issue in What are low ability workers to do when unskilled jobs disappear? (PDF). Saunders advocates policies to retain unskilled work wherever possible to give the underclass something to do. He mentions that otherwise they will remain an economic burden on society due to their use of unemployment, single parent and disability payments. Unlike many other commentators, he also acknowledges the link between low intelligence and low ability in relation to socialisation and employment. He describes intelligence as “the missing variable” (p14).

I’d go a step further and suggest that they should be subject to increased and earlier intervention to encourage intellectual growth through exposure to stimulation and education. Leaving children to rot in dysfunctional families to be neglected and abused results in adults who cannot be rehabilitated. Whether white trash bogans or remote indigenous communities, the result is the same. The IQ research shows that race and genetics do not account for significant differences between social groups. It is the culture of the group that really counts.

Societies where anti-intellectual, anti-achievement cultures exist should be broken up so that they cannot continue to produce stupid dysfunctional people. Even more controversially, people of low intelligence, who are likely to provide low stimulation environments for children, thus creating more low intelligence people, should be discouraged from breeding.

the value of education

One thought on “the value of education

  • 17 December 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Lol…for a minute there I thought you were going to recommend culling! You def. raise a few interesting points, I too worry about the spiral of stunted opportunity, the way it’s self perpetuating unless the cycle is broken early on. During my primary schooling I had friends who came from very disadvantaged households, some of whom may also have suffered from the effects of the mother drinking while carrying them, for others it was simply economic disadvantage or, as you mentioned, a sort of inherited mindset. They, mostly, did possess ability and potential but, more often than not, it was quickly stifled by their immediate familial or cultural environment, regardless of schooling. I am concerned though that you are demonstrating intellectual elitism, teetering on the cusp of something sinister, dangerous territory indeed…are you holding back a bit are have you got it all off your chest? Who decides who “should be discouraged from breeding.”? How would this manifest itself in your view? Define what you mean by “discouraged”, some practical examples perhaps?

    And no, I don’t suffer from overt political correctness but I do try and add an element of empathy into my judgements.


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