“Investigating America’s elite”

by on May 2, 2013 at 11:58 am in Data Source, Education | Permalink

That is a new paper by Jonathan Wai, from the latest issue of Intelligence, with the subtitle “Cognitive ability, education, and sex differences,” and here is the abstract:

Are the American elite drawn from the cognitive elite? To address this, five groups of America’s elite (total N = 2254) were examined: Fortune 500 CEOs, federal judges, billionaires, Senators, and members of the House of Representatives. Within each of these groups, nearly all had attended college with the majority having attended either a highly selective undergraduate institution or graduate school of some kind. High average test scores required for admission to these institutions indicated those who rise to or are selected for these positions are highly filtered for ability. Ability and education level differences were found across various sectors in which the billionaires earned their wealth (e.g., technology vs. fashion and retail); even within billionaires and CEOs wealth was found to be connected to ability and education. Within the Senate and House, Democrats had a higher level of ability and education than Republicans. Females were underrepresented among all groups, but to a lesser degree among federal judges and Democrats and to a larger degree among Republicans and CEOs. America’s elite are largely drawn from the intellectually gifted, with many in the top 1% of ability.

I don’t yet see this paper on-line, but here is some summary coverage.

1 The bachelor May 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm

This is shocking news.

“ability” – what a joke.

Try “discrimination”, “racism” and “structural xxxx” if you truly wants to understand why these people are the elite

2 der May 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

(clap)… (clap)… (clap)… Why so bitter, sweetheart?

3 Louis May 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm

If you have to ask, you have been paying attention.
We have a huge and persistent racial wealth gap, and decreasing economic mobility statistics.

4 America's hostile Elite May 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm

If you disaggregate Jews & White Europeans from the “White” category, & adjust the data for fertility, White Europeans are the poorest, most disadvantaged racial group in America. The only individual who has investigated America’s elite is Professor Kevin Macdonald. Not a single review of his Culture of Critique has been able to refute his analysis. Not one.

Gullible Whites should reject subversive anti-White ideologies – libertarianism, feminism, liberalism, & reject hostile slanders of racism. Instead of pandering to others, White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. here is the reading list: goo.gl/iB777 , goo.gl/htyeq , amazon.com/dp/0759672229 , amazon.com/dp/1410792617

Here is the link to full analysis on how hostile elite are waging war on White applicants for college admissions: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2012/12/ron-unz-on-the-illusory-american-meritocracy/

5 Locke May 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Um, go away.

6 Jamie_nyc May 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm

“Nomen est omen”

7 Philip W May 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

The methodology, as reported by the linked article, seems just horrendous:
“And if they attended one of the 29 ‘elite colleges,’ they were considered to be among the top 1%. Wai chose the schools based on their average SAT scores and American College Test scores, as tracked by the ‘U.S. News & World Report.’ Average SAT scores of 1400 or greater — a combined score on the math and critical reading sections — put a school in the top 1%, he says.”
So all this is really telling us is that graduates of elite U.S. universities are very over-represented among various super-elites. That tells us nothing about intelligence, besides being utterly banal.

8 RPLong May 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm

The number 29 is one that always triggers sirens in my head. It begs the question: what happens to the validity of the results when you include the 30th university?

9 MC May 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm

My guess is that 29 is how far you had to get to include Claremont McKenna College.

10 dead serious May 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I’m sure legacy kids or kids of non-legacy rich donors have no (non-academic) advantages in getting into those elite schools. ::eyeroll::

11 anon May 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

It’s Tyler trolling again.

12 byomtov May 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm

That’s my guess.

13 jtf May 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm

There was a set of scatterplots that my high school admissions office used to track applications and results, SAT score vs. GPA with different data sets corresponding to rejected, waitlisted, accepted. The results went back years. I looked at the one for Brown, and saw the admitted results were all clustered in the top right corner (i.e. high GPA, high SAT) except for one outlier, with a GPA of 2.4 and a mediocre SAT score that I can’t remember. She was the granddaughter of Khoo Teck Puat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoo_Teck_Puat), once Singapore’s wealthiest man. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how that happened.

14 Derp May 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm

“High average test scores required for admission to these institutions indicated those who rise to or are selected for these positions are highly filtered for ability.”

Right, but the elite could just have been the rich privileged kids who LOWERED those average test scores.

15 MC May 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

+1. What a lousy methodology.

16 Andrew' May 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Other than breezing by the human capital screening theory of education it’s not that lousy. They could do some IQ tests of their population to corroborate the assumption.

17 MC May 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

More like “Without doing IQ tests of their population, this study tells us nothing we didn’t already know.” So going to an elite college correlates with being elite. Who knew?

18 Hazel Meade May 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Plus there’s the whole practice of taking SAT prep courses and taking the SAT multiple times until you get a good enough score. Which not everyone can afford, or is even aware that you can do.

19 JWatts May 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm

taking the SAT multiple times until you get a good enough score

I thought this was generally considered a waste of time for most people. That if you were well prepared the first time, that multiple attempts don’t generally result in significantly different results?

20 Cliff May 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm

You are correct

21 j r May 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm

No. I used to teach for Kaplan. You can easily add or lose a hundred point based on your level of familiarity with the test. That’s an overall swing of about 200 points (this is under the old system) for things that have nothing to do with aptitude. That’s pretty significant.

22 P May 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

The average effect of an SAT prep course is between 12 and 25 points, although for East Asians it’s almost 70 points. (Source)

23 asdf May 2, 2013 at 10:10 pm

The higher east Asian increase is mostly the verbal though, and mostly just ESL kids.

24 regularjoeski May 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Cherry picked data to show the results the authors wanted. Defining the “elite” as US senators and house members is foolish. I could buy it if you included all state senators and representatives also. Federal Judges, why not include state judges also. Fortune 500 executives- there are studies showing that their resumes are padded in a large number of cases, esp the supposed elite college they attended. I would say this study just picked fields where people who went to “elite” colleges gravitate to. Also, unless the data was checked with admissions offices it is worthless. Primary verification of education is data, not self reporting.

25 prior_approval May 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

‘Cherry picked data to show the results the authors wanted.’

Yep – you understand the game. And if you play it well enough, it can be quite lucrative.

26 Go kings, go May 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Professors and pundits didnt make the “cognitive elite” cut?

27 RmDeep May 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm

The point was to show that the societal elite are chosen from among the cognitive elite. Professors and pundits don’t count as the societal elite.

28 Emily May 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

No, they didn’t make the American elite cut. But you think the findings regarding the American elite having high levels of education from selective colleges and universities would have been different if those groups had been included?

29 The Original D May 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Don’t forget lobbyists.

30 RmDeep May 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

There is this theory that IQ is important and largely heritable (and distributed differently in different populations), and that modern America’s classes are stratified by IQ. (Or better yet, stratified by g, which if I’m not mistaken also correlates to important things like time preference. And IQ is basically an imperfect measure of g.)

This theory is so simple and so good at explaining so many things that Occam’s Razor, plus simple common sense, simply demands that we accept it, or at least take it seriously.

And yet people don’t like it because the conclusions are so distasteful.

31 FYI May 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Well, the conclusions are only distasteful if you assume that g is purely genetic. Once you add the free will factor people accept this a lot better.

Now, the major problem with all of this is that we really don’t understand how this ‘g’ really works. I know some people who did very well at school that completely failed at work. More importantly, I know people who did the opposite – and I am not talking about being successful at sports or fashion. I am talking about friends of mind who were C- students that somehow ‘awaken’ later in life and became spectacular software developers for instance.

32 Hazel Meade May 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I’m happy to believe that Supreme Court justices, CEOs and academic elites are roughly drawn from cognitive elites. (Not so much journalists, pundits and politicians).

“Classes” though? America only has economic classes (there are no poor upper class people, like there used to be penniless gentlemen in England), and I don’t think I would concede that everyone in the economic 1% got there on brains. We would see a lot more social mobility than we do if that were the case, and if genetics was that strong a determinant and had that big a disparity between classes, it would be far more obvious that there was a huge intellectual gap between the rich and the poor.

We don’t really see this. Yeah, you can find examples of really dumb poor people, but I would say most of thosep robably suffer from some sort of mental illness or disability. The average middle-class person and the average rich person don’t seem incapable of communicating with eachother on the same level.

33 gwern May 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Did someone say ‘paper not online’? Here you go: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/85192141/2013-wai.pdf

(It always amuses me to see OPs here saying something like that. They all have academic library access, they all have access to Google Scholar for even faster lookups, they all have web hosting viz. marginalrevolution.com…)

34 RZ0 May 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Guess that’s why none of us are senators.

35 Thor May 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Bah, I considered that position beneath me.

36 Cliff May 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Copyright infringement?

37 ad*m May 2, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Mmm…. Because some of us believe in the rule of law, however imperfect, and do not want to be thieves stealing copyrighted property from the pubisher under the current definition?

38 prasad May 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Copyright infringement, even under the current imperfect law (where a publisher owns someone else’s IP, who it charges for the privilege of publishing) isn’t the same as theft. But thanks for playing.

39 prior_approval May 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm

‘Are the American elite drawn from the cognitive elite?’

George W. Bush – enough said.

And let’s see if Jeb Bush can add himself to the presidential pantheon with this slogan – ‘Even smarter than his brother.’

40 Steve Sailer May 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm

GW Bush scored 1206 out of 1600 on the SAT, old style. That’s about 1300 out of 1600 new style. John F. Kerry probably scored slightly worse — or at least Kerry did a little worse GPA-wise at Yale than Bush did and a little worse on the Naval Officer test than Bush did on the Air Force test.

In contrast, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) is said to have scored 1600 out of 1600 back at a time when about 10 students per year did that. Schumer is formidable.

41 RPLong May 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

The knee-jerk reaction is to dismiss these results. I’m not ready to do that, but there is already some problem with the a priori theory behind it: It neglects to account for choice.

Remember that Russian math genius who gave up everything to go live in his mom’s basement? Remember Bobby Fisher? Anyone ever been to a Mensa meeting? There is a wide variety of lifestyle preference among the cognitive elite. Some prefer to work 90 hour weeks and become CEOs. Others prefer to live in studio apartments and play the ukelele between shifts at Starbucks.

I believe that CEOs are smarter than average, just like I believe that Olympic athletes are stronger, faster, etc. than average. That doesn’t mean being smart is a ticket into the elite. All it really indicates is that smarter people are more successful where intelligence is rewarded. Who didn’t already know this?

42 zbicyclist May 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm

In other news: supermodels are prettier than average.

43 NPW May 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Rejecting the study isn’t the same as rejecting the conclusion.

44 dead serious May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm

In which case, you don’t need the “study.” Just go about your business but don’t pretend your biases are justifiable.

45 NPW May 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

My bias against poorly conceived studies is justifiable. Just because its conclusion agrees with my prior, doesn’t mean that I overlook the obvious flaws in the study.

46 byomtov May 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Well, maybe you have other reasonable bases for your beliefs. If not, they are just biases.

47 The Original D May 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I don’t really have a strong opinion on this study or the suggestion that IQ is important, but I wonder whether and how they’re able to measure social and emotional intelligence. In my experience there are three kinds of people who rise to the top:

1. The insanely brilliant who invent new technologies or who are amazingly analytical – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet
2. People who are incredibly charismatic – Steve Jobs, Richard Branson
3. Clinical psychopaths who are use a combination of charisma and ruthlessness – Al Dunlap

That’s just off the top of my head, so there may be other types. Also, some may be a combination. Steve Jobs combines all three.

48 FC May 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm

“Russian math genius”

Actually Grigori Perelman is an Ashkenazi Jew, genetically speaking.

49 NPW May 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

1) In evaluating any study try to take into account the amount of background noise. That is, remember that the more hypotheses which are tested and the less selection which goes into choosing hypotheses the more likely it is that you are looking at noise.

“America’s elite are largely drawn from the intellectually gifted, with many in the top 1% of ability.” This study might prove that if, and only if, one also believes that America’s elite higher education is exclusively merit based.

I can think of several alternative hypotheses.

50 Bill May 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm

You should run the same study on the Chinese elites and you would probably find the same results: but, then, you would be talking about “networks of affiliation”, cronyism, initial conditions, etc.

51 Molloy May 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

There is much more cronyism in America than there is in China.

52 Dean May 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Does this comment come from a position of knowledge of the amount of cronyism caused by non-elected communist party, state capitalism, guangxi, and a family oriented collectivism, or just a dissatisfaction with the level of cronyism in America?

53 Molloy May 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I was under the (false?) belief that elite Chinese universities are more meritocratic than elite American universities.

54 Bill May 2, 2013 at 5:57 pm

My point is that if you run the same study on Chinese elites you would have someone say: oh, they were more intelligent, or they attended selective schools, yada, yada, yada.

55 Hazel Meade May 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

It’s worth noting that “drawn from” the top 1% intellectually, does not mean that everyone in the top 1% intellectually are in the “elite”.
The “elite” is a group that, in a country of some 300 million people is a tiny fraction of a percent. That means there are still tons of freakishly brilliant people out there who are completely excluded from power.

56 Andrew' May 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm

“there are still tons of freakishly brilliant people out there who are completely excluded from power”

That’s called a good start.

57 Thor May 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Yes, when you emphasize the “freakishly” part this becomes even more obvious. Most of the vocations mentioned require advanced social skill.

58 jack sparrow May 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm

James Flynn already has an article on this and its implications:

Flynn argues that such society is inconsistent with notions of a meritable society and tries to make a case for intervention.

59 paul May 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Highly selective college equals highly connected and networked undergrad students. The US has replicated on a grander scale the English public (ie private) school to Oxbridge pipeline for the elite to replicate itself. Of course these schools admit a number of poor but brilliant and/or hardworking outsiders to bring in fresh blood and keep the reputation up.

The capstone is the way the US President is now effectively an elected monarch, courtiers and all.

60 weareastrangemonkey May 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

“Some 45% of billionaires rank among the smartest 1% of people in the U.S.”

So 55% of billionaires are not in the top 1% of ability! So 235 of the 425 billionaires in America are dumber than 3 million of America’s other citizens.

Put another way, billionaires are in the top 0.0001% of the wealth distribution in the country, yet less than half of them make it into the top 1% of the ability distribution.

This study (methodological issues aside) only shows that brains are not the most important thing for getting rich. The WSJ managed to completely miss the point. Given the WSJ readership this is not very surprising.

This does not mean the wealthy are undeserving, that depends on your notion of desert. It does imply that their wealth does not flow from their brains.

Here is a link to the journal article (not open access I’m afraid):

61 weareastrangemonkey May 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I said “methodological issues aside”.

We should not put them aside. The methodology is awful. It does not tell us that 55% are not in the top 1% of ability. Nor that the top 45% are in the top 1%.

It only tells us that very rich people have often gone to top schools. If we believe many of the rich are rich due to privilege we probably also believe that they would get into the top schools by privilege. So the study does little to reject the detractors of the wealthy.

Nor, does is do much to suggest that the rich are not that smart, as I thought it had done above. What we need are IQ tests of all the billionaires if we are to actually make any inferences. Good luck with getting that data set.

62 Dismalist May 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Members of the House of Representatives belong to a so-called elite?

63 Rich Berger May 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

They were when Nancy “Pass the bill to find out what is in it” Pelosi was speaker of the House, fer sure.

64 j r May 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I always wonder why we seem to collectively care so much more about the education system than we do about actual education. Some second grader draws a picture of Jesus riding a Tyrannosaurus and the whole interwebs goes mad. People seem to be really convinced that, unless American kids can out-read those damn Norwegians, all hope is lost and we’ll lose the future to some combination of the Chinese and the Morlock hordes.

Read stuff like this, however, and it starts to make sense. Winning the future is a red herring. This is just about controlling access to the “elites,” which has become mostly a function of being good at school. That won’t end well.

65 Newerspeak May 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm

IQ is a very reliable indicator: interest in IQ is exclusive to those smarter than they are important. This is part of a broad trend that is usefully applicable here.

66 Steve Sailer May 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Rich Karlgaard’s observation after spending a week with Bill Gates is that Gates appears to be obsessed with IQ, judging from how often it comes up in Gates’ conversations.

67 Steve Sailer May 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Speaking of billionaires, there is a very interesting new article in Forbes Israel on the demographics of billionaires:


68 JKB May 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm

“High average test scores required for admission to these institutions indicated those who rise to or are selected for these positions are highly filtered for ability.”

Ability to take tests maybe. Ability to meet expectations in the microcosm of academia. Which ends with, not education, but credentials.

Credentials which get you the interview, let you move in certain circles and knock rings with those making the selections. The billionaires are an outlier but the other “elites” are all those who benefit from selection by other elites. C-level executives, federal judges, candidates for the Senate and House are all chosen for their opportunities most often based on their networks and/or credentials. There is quite a bit of panic when someone without the right pedigree makes it past the gatekeepers.

But education would be a growing element as more of those with ability, even outside of test taking, are able to go to college. Young and adrift, at college they might find the edge of technology and notice a problem they can solve using the increasingly non-experiential features of current science to be of use to others and then end up in the billionaire category. Or they could just notice that privileged college students would jump at a chance to put their intimate details online rather than just having a few published in book ever so often.

69 MPS May 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

If you’re in the top 1% intelligence then you must realize this study is bullshit.

First of all, to assume that all students at schools are in the top 1% because the average SAT score of students at that school is in the top 1%, well this a very bad assumption.

Second of all, the threshold income at the top 1% is a few hundred thousand a year, so the fact that a significant fraction of billionaires have top percentile intelligence is not really indicating cognitive merit.

Thirdly, given flaw #1, the percentage of billionaires reported to have top 1% intelligence is shockingly low… less than half! Contrast this with college professors, for instance, a group in which I’d guess 90% have top 1% intelligence (and if we try to filter to select major research universities, I think we’ll find that number significantly increase).

OK it’s not worth it to go on.

70 dead serious May 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm

“Contrast this with college professors, for instance, a group in which I’d guess 90% have top 1% intelligence…”

I seriously, seriously doubt that.

71 zbicyclist May 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm

“Contrast this with college professors, for instance, a group in which I’d guess 90% have top 1% intelligence…”

This means you either are a college professor, or don’t know any very well.

72 zbicyclist May 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm

In support of what some might take as a snarky comment, I provide the following:


This estimates the average professor at 116 IQ — about 1 standard deviation above the average.

73 GiT May 3, 2013 at 3:23 am

“Because a perfect score translates to an IQ of 128, high-end wordsum scorers encounter an artificial ceiling on their purported IQ”

I guess we have a clue about where you fall in the distribution…

74 Popeye May 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm

America’s elite are largely drawn from the intellectually gifted, with many in the top 1% of ability.

This is laughable. What a weak result.

We define “elite” as 2,000 people — Fortune 500 CEOs, federal judges, billionaires, and members of Congress.
And it turns out that “many” of them are among the top 3 million Americans, as measured by what schools they attended?

75 CG May 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm

By using education and test scores as a proxy for intelligence, they are also measuring the effects of social influences on intelligence. While raw intelligence may be important for success, getting into a good school and getting high test scores (and this study leaves unanswered the question to what degree IQ is fluid v.s. fixed), a potentially more important factor is parents income and education level.

One Pew study found substantial stickiness at the ends of the income distribution: “43% of Americans raised in the bottom quintile remain stuck in the bottom as adults, and 70% remain below the middle. 40% raised in the top quintile remain at the top as adults, and 63% remain above the middle.” In contrast, “Only 4 percent of those raised in the bottom quintile make it all the way to the top quintile as adults.” http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2012/Pursuing_American_Dream.pdf

It’s possible that children born into the bottom quintile of the income ladder are actually that much dumber than those born in the top, but that seems pretty implausible. Especially in light of what we know wealth and a stable home environment can do for learning, college admissions, test preparation classes, connections, etc.

76 LemmusLemmus May 3, 2013 at 2:27 am

“It’s possible that children born into the bottom quintile of the income ladder are actually that much dumber than those born in the top, but that seems pretty implausible.”

No, that’s totally plausible. You, on the other hand, seem to be assuming that cognitive talents are handed out at random, which is known to be false.

Also, one cannot measure a society’s current level of meritocracy by simply looking at how many make it from the bottom to the top. Longish explanation.

77 R. Jones May 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm


78 Hopaulius May 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

The economics blogosphere seems obsessed with articulating and measuring a correlation between intelligence and wealth. I find this odd, since the few econ blogs I read are run not by billionaires, but by relatively lowly university professors. Surely you professors don’t consider yourselves too stupid to become billionaires, do you? Can it possibly be that the intelligent mind occasionally directs its energies in directions other than the accumulation of wealth?

79 Noah Yetter May 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Members of the House are “elites”? I object to the whole thing on that basis alone. These people are the dregs of society.

80 ThomasH May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm

The null hypothesis was that Federal politicians, Federal judges, and billionaire’s have a mean IQ of 100? Who knew?

81 sebastian May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Obviously flawed methodology.

The powerful are powerful…. yes?

Getting into a good grad school can be a sign of intelligance (cognitive elite), but can also be just a sign of “pull” of your parents (plain old elite). So what did they (not) prove?

82 rk May 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Yeah, sure…lousy ‘study’ with ‘results’ that are pretty laughable…and in the case of Politicians having poor Face Validity.

The pernicious thing is the attitude that we should be led by the top 1 percent. David Halberstan said this about his book The Best and the Brightest:

The phrase referred to President John F. Kennedy’s “whiz kids”—leaders of industry and academia brought into the Kennedy administration—whom Halberstam characterized as arrogantly insisting on “brilliant policies that defied common sense” in Vietnam, often against the advice of career U.S. Department of State employees.
(cf. Wikipedia)

It was meant as irony. We seem to be back at square one…with punditeers and psychologists trying to make a name for themselves cheer leading ‘elite’ pols.

Thanks, but I’ll pass. This country was never intended to be ‘run’ by elites. Lib/lefties are always filled with self-regard, and, often, have this cultist mentality about ‘their’ guy being the best and the brightest. That was irony folks…don’t miss the irony clue

83 Ricardo May 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm

“often against the advice of career U.S. Department of State employees.”

Career U.S. State Department employees — especially those who are foreign service officers or regional specialists — would seem to be at least semi-elite. They are in the top 1% in terms of knowledge of other countries and the exams to get into the State Department are very tough and IQ-demanding. Not everything fits into a neat narrative of anti-intellectualism.

84 rk May 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

as pointed out by several commenters it is absurd to think that ‘elites’ are from the top 1 percent in IQ. Obviously, talent is multifaceted. Social skills, emotional skills, image projection skills…and, yes, cognitive skills are all very important. And different jobs require different combinations.

There is nothing ‘anti-intellectual’ about that. That is silly. Obviously most people are successful in skilled professions are brighter than the average bulb. James Watson used to brag that his IQ was roughly 115…because he felt that people imputed too much brain power to him. Today, sadly, we have retreated from that wisdom. Now we have disgusting episodes of flagrant self-regard like #nerdprom. Please. The WHCA din-din and comedy show a Nerd Prom? I don’t think so. Again cf. Wikipedia

A nerd (adjective: nerdy) is a person, typically described as being overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities

Pointing out that the King has no clothes is not anti-intellectual.

85 FC May 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Are FSOs elite? Pro: Gordon Tullock was one. Con: Gordon Tullock was so frustrated he quit.

86 Alan May 3, 2013 at 2:06 am

The wikipedia entry on narcissism could be much abbreviated by adding a link to MR.

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