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Dealing with the Reality That Not Everyone Can Succeed

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by Asif WILSON Khan, May 4, 2017.

  1. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    As a society, we’ve failed to confront a reality that has emerged time and again from psychological research. Two traits — general intelligence and self-control — are perhaps our best individual level predictors of living a successful life. More on what “successful” means momentarily. However, failure to appreciate the reach of intelligence and self-control, though troublesome in the past, will become increasingly problematic as our modern American economy becomes ever more technological and our economy ever more global. In fact, had we appreciated the importance of these traits more fully in the decades leading up to now, we might have foreseen more clearly the rise of a Donald J. Trump style presidential candidate.

    What does it mean to live a successful life? Quite frankly, it can mean a lot of things. I’m not referring in this case to having any particular occupation, level of education, income, or living in any particular region of the country. By “living a successful life” I mean that when possible, avoiding the many negative occurrences that can creep up. Avoiding contracting certain illnesses, avoiding contact with the criminal justice system, avoiding financial ruin, those types of things.

    But it’s more than just avoiding the bad things in life. Success also means succeeding at whatever it is we’re doing. Finding a job you enjoy (or even just tolerate), keeping it for as long as you desire, and perhaps promoting up through the ranks of your employment. There is much flexibility in the definition of “success”, but there are clearly certain lifestyles that are objectively less successful than others. How do we avoid those lifestyles?

    As I’ve mentioned, behavioral scientists that work on this topic have a pretty good handle on the answer. I’ll start first with general intelligence. Though often maligned by commentators, general intelligence (or IQ) is a trait that psychologists have studied for the better part of a century. Our understanding of it rocketed forward when Charles Spearman proposed his general theory of intelligence, which was remarkably simple. Linda Gottfredson, in fact, best summed it up when she noted:

    Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience. It is not merely book-learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings, ‘catching on’, ‘making sense’ of things, or ‘figuring out’ what to do.

    Yes, intelligence is a controversial topic. But it has also been closely scrutinized for decades now, and the results are quite impressive. Stuart Ritchie detailed many of them in a brisk, very accessible book recently. As he noted, intelligence is not some vague social construct that we (academics) conjured up. Intelligence is a trait that emerges very early in life and is linked directly to brain functioning. We measure it very well, and it predicts important life outcomes. In particular, as intelligence increases, occupational success goes up, income earned goes up, educational attainment goes up, odds of getting arrested go down, violent behavior goes down, and life expectancy increases.

    We can move now to our second trait; self-control. Behavioral researchers actually use different names sometimes when studying this trait — executive functioning or gratification delay — but for the most part these denote an ability to manage impulses and to delay getting what you want right now in favor of getting a better version of it down the road. Saving for retirement, saving money period, going to college, showing up consistently to your job, all of these are indicative of having low levels of impulsivity (high self-control).

    Like intelligence, we have a wealth of good research regarding self-control. People with high impulsivity are more likely to break the law, get arrested, use drugs, have poor health, and be obese. A rather incredible study, published by the psychologist Terrie Moffitt and her team, examined the effects of self-control across decades of life. Individuals with higher self-control were simply better off in the long run. They made more money and were generally healthier and more productive citizenry as adults. But what makes all of this so relevant to the current discussion is that self-control and intelligence are highly correlated. The two traits — both linked to brain functioning — often come packaged together.

    So why would this be particularly relevant to our current situation in 2017 America and beyond? As anyone can clearly observe, our society thrives now on innovation and technology. Thriving in an economy that is increasingly technology based is difficult, and requires many of the skills that are marshaled by intelligence and self-control. This dilemma was chronicled recently in a book called Coming Apart. In it, Charles Murray argued for the existence of a new class structure in society. One based not on socioeconomic status and wealth, as much as it was on cognitive ability.

    At the top of the new class structure are the “cognitive elites” a group populating the halls of governmental power, the media, Silicon Valley, and generally stationed along each respective coastline in America. These are the trendsetters, the newsmakers, and the cultural shapers. As our economy has shifted to one in which intellectually demanding professions are increasing in number, individuals with the ability to do these jobs are handsomely rewarded. With a decline in manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs, and perhaps also the diminished prestige of such jobs, some individuals have been increasingly been left out in the cold. Feeling ever imperiled, and ever sneered at by the other members of society, one might imagine how a block of individuals with less than appealing life prospects voted what (seemed to be) their interests in the form of one, Donald J. Trump.

    In the decades preceding the 1960s, according to Murray, there was an increasingly intermingled quality to American society, and an economy that was not yet too technological, but was quickly moving in that direction. Many exceedingly bright people never went to college, and lived their lives comfortably (often in the same neighborhood) with people less bright than them. And there were jobs that people of all range of ability could do. Perhaps this is not as much the case anymore. Our failure to talk seriously about individual differences in key traits — like intelligence and self-control — has come with consequences. In particular, it leads us to mistakenly assume that all Americans have the same ability to succeed in a modern, technological economy. Such a proposition is simply not true, and there is no evidence to support it.

    That said, does recognizing the relevance of individual difference mean that we stop worrying about structural barriers to success in our society? Absolutely not. Many things can be true at the same time. It is true that millions of Americans, by virtue of only their skin color or gender have had artificial blockades placed in front of them. It did not matter how smart they were, success was forbidden to them. This is a malfeasance that we should continually try to remedy any chance we get. Moreover, sometimes events beyond our control disrupt our lives. The recent financial collapse is one example, when a confluence of events derailed the lives of millions of Americans. We should do whatever we can to prevent corporate misbehavior from wreaking such havoc in the future.

    Yet, we should do all of this without forgetting that ability and perseverance differ in the population (in large part, for genetic reasons). We owe it to our citizenry to take that seriously too, and to think clearly and intently about how we can create a society where all Americans can flourish, regardless of the differences in ability that exist. This is a hard problem, and we’ve wasted enough time ignoring it.


    SOURCE: http://quillette.com/2017/02/06/dealing-with-the-reality-that-not-everyone-can-succeed/
     
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    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. bartosimpsonio

    bartosimpsonio Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Damn this is gonna hit hard somewhere on BHW, I just know....

    Still, it's the hard truth.
     
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  3. Breezly

    Breezly Newbie

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    IMO the important part is to decide you won't be a part of those depressing statistics.
     
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  4. drogon

    drogon Elite Member Premium Member

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    This another sponsored links article + amazon affiliate links?
     
  5. Minnehaha

    Minnehaha Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    It's about habits, if you get in the habit of working and making money 18 hours a day it becomes addicting. You won't be able to watch a movie or have a "2 beers with dinner and friends" or have time to date because all that shit isn't as exciting as the hustle. A 16 year old that is making 20k a month isnt exactly smarter than his classmates, maybe they could beat him in chess or other things they're good at etc, he just plinko'd into "intelligent" money making habits
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  6. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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  7. elavmunretea

    elavmunretea BANNED BANNED

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    What do you quantify as success?

    It scares me how many people in my class would be happy earning £28k a year.
     
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  8. drogon

    drogon Elite Member Premium Member

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    Yes i know, thats why i asked if its a sponsored links article with affiliate links.....and why do you say 'if' when there clearly are aff links. Or this is a workaround to posting afiliate links here on BHW. I cant post my own but i can post someone else's link?
     
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  9. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    I just copied and pasted an article I though was interesting and that I thought may interest others. I didn't check any links, so if there are affiliate links in the article they are not mine and I was not aware of it. The OP has been edited now and the links removed, so it shouldn't be a problem.
     
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  10. jazzc

    jazzc Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    All these words and it's just fluff and no meat. Gotta give it to the author, this takes skill.
     
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  11. VinceC

    VinceC Elite Member

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    I thought it was written by OP. No wonder it is a long and boring article IMO
     
  12. Setox

    Setox Regular Member

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    What I know is that everyones has its own definition for "Reality", And Limiting your ability & skills to Only what you can prove or what exist in front of you will stop you from seeing & accepting another "Reality" . That's how world works .
    (I'm not quoting from Mr.Robot)
     
  13. Vladamir

    Vladamir Power Member

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    "A rather incredible study, published by the psychologist Terrie Moffitt and her team, examined the effects of self-control across decades of life. Individuals with higher self-control were simply better off in the long run. They made more money"

    Well im screwed i get addicted to everything...addicted to making money now though
     
  14. Lothric

    Lothric Newbie

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    Good Article
     
  15. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    Yes, I think he did have a word count in mind and padded it out, but the bit about self-control I found interesting.
    I would even change it to/or add, self-interest, as successful people follow a path that benefits them, where as others (myself included) can become distracted and follow a path that impacts them negatively.
    As we all know IQ does not mean somebody will be successful, as I personally know several extremely intelligent people who are broke and unhappy. I also know people who I would consider borderline retarded but they have "street smarts" and make a decent living and are happy with that.
    I definitely feel that self-control/executive functioning/gratification delay/will-power could possibly be the missing link for a lot of people to achieve true success and long term happiness.
     
  16. sirmeep

    sirmeep Registered Member

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    Bell Curve (Murray) is a fantastic book. The concept of cognitive sorting is an under-appreciated social influencer. Fun fact, the more you create an egalitarian access to early childhood education and social services, the more influential biological determents for intelligence become. (All things equal, genes determine outcomes kinda thing).

    With that said... Heuristics beat raw computational power any day. The framework you use for understanding information is far more important then your base processing capacity. It's why on an individual basis the correlation between success and intelligence is so much weaker then on the aggregate.

    On the aggregate IQ score (g-factor) is the single best predictive correlate for success. Higher then even childhood socio-economic status.
     
  17. jazzc

    jazzc Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    With a total R^2 of 0.14 (socio of parents + iq) which means they amounted in aggregate to 14% of the outcome - which sums up as "meh", at best.

    That's why you need to read numbers and not eat pre-digested food. Expressed in this light, it's clearly a non-thing, compared to how you put it.
     
  18. Bronzesmith

    Bronzesmith Newbie

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    Makes you think doesnt it
     
  19. sirmeep

    sirmeep Registered Member

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    Source....citation...reference?

    Murray and Herrenstien has a lot of different parameters for success in the book, which instance does your above R-score refer to? Or is it from another analysis?

    Soo.... You think that influences of IQ on life outcome, between the the highest and lowest quintile of intelligence to be 'not much of a thing'?
     
  20. ScribScribScrib

    ScribScribScrib Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    The more your deviate from the general population in terms of intelligence, the more of a pest you are to society and yourself, be it in terms of aggression or self-control.
    It would have been a fun addendum to point out all the wunderchilds and retards that failed simply becouse they were too gifted to succeed.