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The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One 1st Edition

3.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470586952
ISBN-10: 0470586958
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Seventeenth-century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes once observed that intelligence must be equally distributed among humans, because no one ever complained that they didn't get as much as everyone else. Of course, that was before the invention of the IQ test prompted a series of objections that the tests were biased and/or inaccurate, that intelligence can't really be measured, and that there are multiple types of intelligence. For well over a century, intelligence and what it means have been the source of endless controversy. Here comes more.

In The Intelligence Paradox, the coauthor of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, Satoshi Kanazawa challenges the common misconceptions about what intelligence is and what it is not, how it is measured, what it's good for, and what it's bad at. He also makes many controversial statements: liberals are, on average, more intelligent than conservatives; atheists are more intelligent than believers; and homosexuals are more intelligent than heterosexuals. And using the latest research, he shows each one to be true.

At its core, Kanazawa's message is that intelligence, while certainly an asset, is one human trait among many, and it is in no way a measure of human worth. He reveals how the purposefor which general intelligence evolved—solving evolutionarily novel problems that were rarely encountered during life on the savanna—allows us to understand why the most intelligent people have the particular values and preferences they have. He also explains why, despite their huge brains, the most intelligent people are often less successful than their less intelligent relatives at solving life's most important problems.

Kanazawa uses the findings of several large long-term studies to examine the relationship between intelligence and numerous preferences and values. What he discovers is often surprising and sometimes, indeed, paradoxical. Intelligent men, for example, are more likely than less intelligent men to value sexual exclusivity for themselves, yet also more likely to cheat on wives or girlfriends despite what they really want. Why are intelligent people more likely than less intelligent people to be night owls and late sleepers? Precisely because it is unnatural. It may not surprise you to learn that intelligent people are more likely to prefer classical music to pop—but why on earth would they also like elevator music?

Intersecting the fields of evolutionary psychology and intelligence research, The Intelligence Paradox is guaranteed to change the way you think about all that thinking you do.

From the Back Cover

Advance praise for The Intelligence Paradox

"The Intelligence Paradox is a chocolate sundae for the brain, filled with insights about intelligence and everyday behavior that have changed my thinking about intelligence. A brilliant achievement and a joy to read."—Charles Murray, author of the New York Times bestseller Coming Apart

"This is a splendidly written book about a fascinating new theory of intelligence. By carefully anchoring his approach in evidence, Kanazawa integrates information about the evolution of intelligence in intriguing and tantalizing ways. He also generates some startling and provocative predictions. Be forewarned, this book will change the way you think about intelligence." —Gordon Gallup, evolutionary psychologist, University at Albany, SUNY

"This is a beautifully written book that will sell to laymen as well as to academics. Kanazawa's thesis is that intelligence, what IQ tests measure, is a specific ability to cope with general problems for which our evolution has not prepared us. Intelligence then leads to great benefit when tethered to the real world, such as quantum theory and computers. Untethered, it can lead to convoluted nonsense such as fads in literary criticism. And while intelligence may often be considered an unalloyed good, Kanazawa shows it has costs to biological fitness. For example, intelligent people have fewer offspring, although successful reproduction is the definition of evolutionary success. Intelligent people are more prone to indulge in (evolutionary) novelties such as drugs. Viewed from the perspective of evolution, intelligent people are 'the ultimate losers in life.'"—Henry Harpending, coauthor of The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

"General intelligence is both a grand achievement of psychology research and a crucial human dimension. That people differ so markedly from each other on such an important trait has seemed something of an evolutionary paradox. Wouldn't evolution make us all smart? Satoshi Kanazawa proposes an intriguing explanation about how human intelligence evolved and why differences remain among us. It is a creative but data-driven argument that I found surprising but sensible. I think he may be right. And it's delivered in a breezily elegant style that is a joy to read."—J. Michael Bailey, author of The Man Who Would Be Queen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470586958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470586952
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A hardcore evolutionary psychologist and avowed enemy of "political correctness" and other recent cultural brainwashing afflicting modern society, Satoshi Kanazawa is no stranger to controversy. In his latest book, he again takes the reader on the journey of blunt and unapologetic evolutionary reality. The latest social question he tackles is, What is intelligence, and why did it evolve?

Intuitively, we all know who intelligent people are, and their likely behaviors. On paper, they are high achievers, who rise to the top ranks of modern society thanks to their academic talents and aptitude; but upon closer examination, these seemingly successful people are socially awkward, lack common sense, and often hold bizarre, unrealistic beliefs. "More intelligent people are more likely to be 'stupid' (lacking common sense), whereas less intelligent people are more likely to be 'smart' (possessing functional common sense)," Kanazawa writes, noting the paradox.

Where does the paradox come from? Kanazawa's thesis is that the majority of people (who, by definition, are not intelligent), are good at "Evolutionarily-Familiar" tasks. "Evolutionarily-Familiar" problems ("EF") are those that have always existed throughout evolutionary history. "Mating, parenting, social exchange, and personal relationships" are, according to Kanazawa, some of these ultra-familiar, ultra-prominent "EF" problems that all social animals have always had to deal with. Humans and other primates have always mated, raised children, made alliances, related to others, sought out nutritious food, and avoided predators.

A fraction of people, however, are very good at "Evolutionarily-Novel" tasks ("EN"). These are new, unusual domains of life which have never before existed in our evolutionary past.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
People who do the kind of research Kanazawa does often cannot get published. The get fired from their jobs at conservative as well as liberal think tanks. They have a hard time getting tenure at universities. There is little freedom of inquiry left in the realms in which Kanazawa works. For that reason alone it is delightful to see him publish such a politically incorrect work as this.

In his preface Kanazawa credits the giants who preceded him. Robert Trivers, Arthur Jensen, Philippe Rushton, just to name three. What I hoped in reading this book was to find a worthy successor to these, the latter two of whom died just last year. My hopes remain somewhat unfulfilled. While Kanazawa has the courage to beard any lion in its den, he has some shortcomings when it comes to structure and research.

The introduction to the book is a delight. It is a defense of academic freedom, the right of an academic, indeed, the obligation of an academic, to pursue the truth wherever it takes him. Quite specifically, this pursuit of truth should not be constrained by concerns about what the implications might be of the truths that are found. He talks about the great fallacies, the naturalistic fallacy and the moralistic fallacy. These are worth repeating right here in this this review, because they are so pervasive and academics today.

"The naturalistic fallacy, which was coined by the English philosopher George Edward Moore in the early 20th century, though first identified much earlier by the Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the leap from is to ought--that is, the tendency to believe that what is natural is good; that what is, ought to be.
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Written from the perspective of an evolutionary psychologist, this is an interesting and accessible book regarding what is valuable about high intelligence and what is not. In a nutshell, intelligence is an asset when we face novel situations, but can lead to clever boneheadedness in everyday life. Kanazawa shows little patience for political correctness when it conflicts with what he sees as the evidence, and this is likely to irk some readers. However, he does present his case cogently, and is an entertaining read, whether he ultimately convinces or not.
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Interesting work. Much more controversial than his first. I like how he suggest we rethink what intelligence is and how the concept is used colloquially versus what it actually means and is defined by in the sciences: a much narrower trait that has little to do with self-worth.
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This book does a an excellent job of explaining why men and women make the choices and decisions they do; even the outwardly non-sensical ones. Before I read this book I thought modern men (and women) were completely out of touch with reality in regards to what is important, now from an evolutionary perspective it makes sense. Satoshi gives a thorough and interesting account of why this is so. I highly recommend this book to those trying to make sense of the choices we see people making in the modern world.
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This book is entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking, but not very well thought out.

The main idea is that intelligence (what IQ tests measure) is an adaptation for evolutionarily novel situations, and shouldn't be positively correlated with cognitive abilities that are specialized for evolutionarily familiar problems. He defines "smart" so that it's very different from intelligence. His notion of smart includes a good deal of common sense that is unconnected with IQ.

He only provides one example of an evolutionarily familiar skill which I assumed would be correlated with IQ but which isn't: finding your way in situations such as woods where there's some risk of getting lost.

He does make and test many odd predictions about high IQ people being more likely to engage in evolutionarily novel behavior, such as high IQ people going to bed later than low IQ people. But I'm a bit concerned at the large number of factors he controls for before showing associations (e.g. 19 factors for alcohol use). How hard would it be to try many combinations and only report results when he got conclusions that fit his prediction? On the other hand, he can't be trying too hard to reject all evidence that conflicts with his predictions, since he occasionally reports evidence that conflicts with his predictions (e.g. tobacco use).

He reports that fertility is heritable, and finds that puzzling. He gives a kin selection based argument saying that someone with many siblings ought to put more effort into the siblings reproductive success and less into personally reproducing.
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