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. As Kanazawa notes tongue-in-cheek, "There is no common sense about how to boot up a Macintosh computer or how to fly an airplane." But it is precisely these people, defined as "intelligent" based on a series of objective tests, who excel at such new, academic, high-level "EN" tasks.
So intelligent people are those who are very good at adapting to unusual, new situations. "Stupid"/non-intelligent people are those who are very good at familiar, ancient tasks. That is the distinction, and several interesting predictions result from it:
- Liberalism/Marxism/Left-wing values: The idea of supporting others who are not related to you, is "unusual" in evolutionary terms, because it is contrary to traditional tribalism. Thus, intelligent people, who lean in the "EN" direction, are likely to espouse unusual, idealistic beliefs such as liberalism, multiculturalism, and egalitarianism. (As a matter of fact, the very word "idealistic" signals something contrary to what is evolutionarily familiar.)
- Vegetarianism: The idea of not eating animal protein is "unsual" in evolutionary terms, because it is contrary to ancient survival mechanisms. Thus, intelligent people, with their "EN" tendencies, are more likely to be vegetarians.
- Sexual Exclusivity: The idea of marriage and sexual exclusivity may be contrary to "natural" promiscuity (for men). Men who strongly uphold sexual exclusivity and monogamy may, in some respects, be unusual and have "EN" tendencies; thus, they are more likely to be intelligent.
There are many other conclusions and patterns noted in the book, a few of which are debatable, but most are very plausible and accurate. Despite Kanazawa's blunt and in-your-face writing style, his and similar books on evolutionary psychology are a welcome break from the sociological, liberal propaganda constantly shoved down people's throats in today's society. (By the way, this in itself is no coincidence: "Liberals control most institutions... because they are on average more intelligent than conservatives," Kanazawa notes: "Liberals control most organizations in most areas of life, even though the American population in general is mostly conservative.")