what people mean by 'smart' mostly comes down to
(1) speaking eloquently in a prestige lect
(2) doing or being involved in stereotypical 'smart person' things like physics or chess or w/e

both are heavily marked for class, race, and gender

like the reason glasses are stereotyped as a smart person accessory because they were initially worn by scholars in renaissance italy (who needed them to read books with small letters in poor lighting, and could have their patrons buy them), thus becoming associated with erudition and social prestige

Show thread

the ruling class prioritises forms of study that can be used to justify their rule & monopolises access to them. 'intelligence' thereby becomes associated to ruling class traits, which their offspring are socialised to exhibit

Show thread

then theories are invented that retroactively justify how the privileged really are 'naturally' smarter. before iq was invented, the main way to measure 'intelligence' by skull volume; this, by quite the coincidence, turned out to indicate men were on the average more intelligent than women, and whites more intelligent than black people

Show thread

iq is a bit subtler, but fundamentally the same: the theory behind it, the 'g-factor' (which most psychologists no longer accept), is no more a priori than the idea that big head = more smart. an arbitrary, extremely narrow 'smart person' thing — the ability to rotate shapes — is selected as a 'found' indicator of intelligence by virtue of its stereotyped social association, and, miraculously, it's found the people who already claim they're smarter than everyone by this metric turn out to be

Show thread

think about wittgenstein's ruler. i'll let taleb explain it:

(he's a weird phrenology enthusiast but the principle is sound)

Show thread

that is, if we find that iq systematically gives white people better scores (which is what molyneux is not-so-sneakily trying to reference, above), we have to ask, what is actually being measured — 'intelligence', or whiteness?

Show thread

more abstractly, the idea of 'intelligence' as a single, dimensionless quantity that can be objectively measured is itself necessary reactionary. you cannot put people on a ladder from 'best' to 'worst' based on a standardised test and expect the result to be anything but phrenology

@esvrld you know what's interesting is the before WW2 Asian skulls were considered to be smaller than western skulls. After WW2 though the same data was used to confirm the bigness of asian skulls. The change of course came from Asia's new found economic power and military relationship with the west and not any physical change in the skulls. There is a paper called "how Asian skulls got bigger" or something like that.

intelligence, oppression 

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!