Dangers of Ignoring Cognitive Inequality

#1
C C Offline
https://quillette.com/2018/08/25/the-dan...nequality/

EXCERPT: On Sunday 28 April 1996, Martin Bryant [...] drove to the nearby town of Port Arthur [...] to perpetrate the worst massacre in modern Australian history. [...] Intense media speculation followed, the main focus of which was Bryant’s history of behavioral difficulties. These were offered as possible evidence of a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia [...] However, the most notable and concrete fact of Bryant’s psychological condition was his extremely low IQ of 66—well within the range for mental disability.

[...] The connection between intelligence and behavioral problems, such as Conduct Disorder (CD) or Antisocial Personality (APD), was well-known around the time of the Port Arthur Massacre. A review by biostatistician and UCSD professor Sonia Jain cites contemporaneous studies to suggest that low IQ scores in childhood should be considered a risk factor for APD and CD. In 2010, several psychologists published results from a longitudinal study containing data on over a million Swedish men, who were tracked from conscription for a little over 20 years. They found that IQ scores tested during conscription were a significant and robust predictor, not only for APD or CD, but for all categories of mental disorders. Conscripts with low IQ were substantially more likely to be diagnosed with one or more mental disorders, to suffer from mood and personality disorders, and to be hospitalized for mental illness. Those in the lowest band—like Bryant—were most at risk of severe psychological disorders.

[...] But much of this correlation [...] would be abhorrent—obscene, even—to suggest that people with a low IQ should be treated with suspicion, or as murderers-in-waiting. In almost all cases, these individuals pose a risk to no one but themselves, and are more likely to fall prey to victimization by others. On the other hand, it is equally irresponsible to ignore the specific difficulties which those with a low IQ face. The consequences of this wishful thinking—however noble in intent—can be devastating.

[...] Perhaps the best example is offered by the recent history of the Cold War. [...] young American men needed to fight on the ground in 1960s-era Vietnam [...] The government was confounded by [...a shortage of men...] attempting halfhearted crackdowns on draft dodgers [...] until Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara arrived at a more permanent workaround. The US government would draft men whose low IQ scores had hitherto disqualified them from military service. [...] the late Hamilton Gregory [...] witnessed the fate of the low-IQ draftees firsthand while he was a soldier in Vietnam. These draftees—cruelly nicknamed ‘McNamara’s Morons’—were generally capable of completing simple tasks, but even a simple task imperfectly executed can be disastrous in warfare.

[...] The danger of physical harm faced by those with a low IQ is not restricted to the battlefield. A 2016 study by four psychologists using data from the Danish Conscription Database (containing 728,160 men) revealed low IQ to be a risk factor for almost all causes of death. A drop in IQ by a single standard deviation (roughly 15 points) was associated with a 28 percent increase in mortality risk. The association between low IQ and mortality was particularly great for homicide and respiratory disease (such as lung cancer).

[...] having a low IQ doesn’t only make you more likely to get killed or fall victim to an accident. It also means you’re more likely to undergo difficulties in progressing up every ladder in life. You’ll often feel permanently ‘stuck at zero’—unable to improve or change your position. Most of us will experience this feeling at least a few times in our lives, whether encountered in school (being unable to break the ‘A-grade’), in our social lives (being unable to establish or maintain a successful romantic relationship), or in comparatively trivial areas. Yet most of the time, it is transient—passing when we switch our efforts to a new endeavor, or after devising a way to solve the problem. Very few of us know what it is like to have that feeling almost all of the time—to have a large proportion of one’s attempts at self-betterment or advancement frustrated by forces that seem to be beyond our control. Being trapped in such a dismal psychological state for only a brief interval can lead to anxiety, depression, or dependence. In some, this feeling of ‘being stuck at zero’ (that the world is manifestly unfair and against them) will lead to resentment—and resentment can turn into murderousness. Martin Bryant’s life, characterized by loneliness, depression, and numerous frustrated attempts at making friends, is replete with examples that follow this pattern. [...]

Despite the fact that low IQ is correlated with negative outcomes in a large number of areas and afflicts around 15 percent of the population, we seem incapable of treating it like any other public health problem. Simply wishing away the fact that the genetic and environmental circumstances of a person’s birth inevitably endows everyone—for better or worse—with a personality, a level of sociability, and an intelligence is a form of denialism that serves only our urge for moral exculpation. Pretending that those burdened with low IQ are just lazy, or lack the appropriate motivation, is a way of absolving ourselves of responsibility to help them....

MORE: https://quillette.com/2018/08/25/the-dan...nequality/
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#2
Ostronomos Offline
It is hard to take a perspective on this without crossing boundaries of offensiveness.While I have compassion for those with a low IQ, I take solace with the knowledge that I do not have to encounter such difficulties. Although I have enough problems as it is.
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