"I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."So needless to say, some were horrified when I wrote:
I think intelligence is way, way overrated. The most successful politicians are highly intelligent sociopaths. The worst possible leaders are the highly intelligent sociopaths.Debate developed, arguments were added, and hyperlinks were hyperactively heaved ho, supposedly proving my cynical and anti-human and otherwise horrible statement incorrect. I'm not sure what the latin is for argument by overwhelming (argumentum overwhelmem?), but I've learned in the past that being a lone individual hit by an onslaught of righteous argument is an untenable position; you lose whether or not you have some degree of truth on your side. And in this case, I just threw that statement out there to stir the pot (and I certainly succeeded at that!), I didn't know whether or not the empirical evidence would support me.
I picked the first link spewed at me from the onslaught: The impact of smart fractions, cognitive ability
of politicians and average competence of peoples on social development. I fully expected it to prove my statement unequivocally wrong. Instead, I found it almost supportive. First, from the abstract:
The intelligence of politicians was less important...Oh? That doesn't sound like I'm so wrong. Here's the key table, in my opinion:
Having smart people is correlated with good things like high GDP, but having smart politicians isn't correlated with much of anything good at all, EXCEPT democracy. With democracy, my guess is that causality goes the other way. In a democracy, the politicians have to be intelligent enough to deceive the populous into voting for them. But their intelligence doesn't seem to help much of anything else.
Given that there's a high correlation between a country having smart people which helps things like GDP and having smart politicians which doesn't which doesn't have much impact on GDP, I think this may show that smart politicians are detrimental to a country and that the countries with smart people do well in spite of their political class.
*Thanks to Clovis for reminding me of this quote