WP: Why you shouldn’t be surprised that prisoners crushed Harvard’s debate team

From the Washington Post:

Last month, a debate team of three inmates with violent criminal records defeated a team of three Harvard University undergraduates.

It sounds like an underdog story plucked from the pages of a yet unwritten Walt Disney screenplay — and in some ways, it is.

But it’s also worth pointing out the fallacy of our underlying assumptions about such a match-up — the first (and most pernicious) being that if a definitive link between criminality and below-average intelligence exists, nobody has found it.

Despite living behind bars, prisoners have recorded albums, produced fine literature, run lucrative criminal enterprises and mastered the ancient meditation technique known as Vipassana.

As the highly sophisticated prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., made clear earlier this year, inmates are not only intelligent, but often more capable and deliberate than those of us on the outside. Richard Matt may have been smart enough to tunnel his way out of prison using rudimentary engineering skills picked up on the fly, but like many career criminals, his greatest gifts were probably rhetorical in nature, prison staffers said.

The debate took place last month at the Eastern Correctional Facility in New York, a maximum-security prison about an hour southwest of Bard College. The hosts beat a Harvard team that had won three of four American Parliamentary Debate Association National Championships.

“There are few teams we are prouder of having lost a debate to than the phenomenally intelligent and articulate team we faced this weekend,” the Harvard College Debating Union wrote on Facebook after the defeat. “And we are incredibly thankful to Bard and the eastern New York correctional facility for the work they do and for organizing this event.”

To get the real story, you have to go to the comments on the story:

* In general prisoners have lower intelligence than the average population. 70% of them do not have a high school diploma. That doesn’t mean very intelligent people aren’t convicted; they are usually poor and couldn’t afford a good lawyer, or they were actually guilty.

* With one Google search I found 3 scholarly articles that did, in fact, link lower intelligence with criminal behavior. Why could the writer of this article not find it?

* Criminals are dullards. Everyone know this. We need no study to know this, it is self-evident. The author wrongly suggests that if a tiny handful of criminals in jail are cherry-picked to debate, have tutored instruction by a debate expert, and have the jail-time afforded leisure to prepare ALL DAY-EVERY DAY, they somehow represent the average criminal in prison. Middle school mathematics says otherwise. The three evil criminals being coached to do something as simple as debate have nothing to do with the 1.3 million evil criminals in prison.

A Google search reveals that prisoners on average have low IQs.

Where’s the video of this debate? Judges can decide on a winner for reasons that have nothing to do with excellence.

Why do blacks keep winning these debates? Steve Sailer writes July 20, 2015:

Warning: Language, while up to Presidential podcast norms, does not meet iSteve standards.

As you may have heard, college debate has collapsed into complete farce in recent years due to white and Asian people letting black contestants turn it into a contest over who is most black. (The black contestants don’t use the word “black” to describe themselves, however.) While the white-Asian teams discuss Constitutional law and social science findings regarding the debate’s official topic, the black teams ignore the subject they are supposed to be debating. Instead, they rap and twerk and denounce white women for shoving them while they were riding on the escalator when they were four.

And they win, because few white judges dare vote publicly against blacks acting stupid. (The secret ballot is an underrated thing.) That would be like admitting you read The Bell Curve.

A point I make over and over is that nobody really takes the conventional wisdom seriously because you don’t often see major institutions allowing themselves to be completely destroyed in the name of the logic of political correctness. Corrupted, of course; made less effective, sure. But obliterated, no. Society over the last half century has figured out lots of ways to buy off the loudest black people. For example, in The Bonfire of the Vanities, the mayor of New York spends part of most days handing out Plaques for Blacks.

But college debate is an exception to my rule, perhaps because there is so little money involved. In college debate, there’s nothing except plaques, so blacks now have to win all of them.

If you are a Democratic political strategist, this video ought to make you a bit worried about the Democrats’ future. You’ve looked at all the demographic forecasts about how you are importing millions of ringers to vote Democratic, but will blacks be willing to share?

On the other hand, there is one organized group that has the testicular fortitude, the sheer narcissistic rage to stand up to the black debaters, to go jaw to jaw screaming with them over who is most oppressed: the transies.

And here’s a preview of what the Democratic primary campaign of 2020 will look like if Hillary loses next year.

From Business Insider:

* Genetics make up an estimated 40 to 80% of a person’s IQ
Despite the environmental effects on IQ, heritability still plays a bigger role in determining overall IQ.
Environmental factors can mean the loss or gain of a few points here or there, but it pales in comparison to what you’re born with.

Source: University of Delaware

* Contrary to popular belief, the higher your IQ, the more likely you’re socially smart

Of course, correlation does not prove causation. But IQ is strongly correlated to educational, professional, economic and social success or failure. It’s difficult to say what exactly IQ tests measure beyond “general” intelligence, but those with a high score see positive outcomes in education and social competence, so it can’t be too bad.

Source: University of Delaware

* People with a lower-than-average IQ (between 75 and 90) are more likely to drop out, go to jail and live in poverty
Significantly more, in fact: people in the 75 to 90 range are 88 times likelier to drop out of high school, seven times more likely to go to prison, and five times more likely to live in poverty than those with an IQ over 110.

Source: Mega Foundation

* For each one-point increase in a country’s average IQ, the per capita GDP was $229 higher, and can go up to $468 higher for each additional point
Atlas of Economic Complexity
A recent article in Psychological Science revealed that in a study of 90 countries, the “intelligence of the people, particularly the smartest 5 percent, made a big contribution to the strength of their economies.”

While it should be stressed that “smart” and “high IQ” are not synonymous, it is worth noting that there were hard numbers behind that assertion.

Source: Psychological Science

* Lower IQ scores are linked to more suicidal feelings

Though there are multiple factors at work, Swedish researchers have drawn a link between lower IQ scores and suicidal feelings.

Low IQs can mean bad problem-solving abilities, which makes people less capable of dealing with stress in crisis situations.

Source: Scientific American

* If you have an IQ of at least 115, you can do any job

People with low and high IQ scores can work almost any job at almost any level. But it becomes increasingly difficult to perform well in very complex or fluid jobs (such as management in an ambiguous, changing, unpredictable fields) with a lower IQ. An IQ over 115 places no restrictions on what you can do.

On the other hand, unskilled work doesn’t require a high IQ, as only simple decisions need to be made.

Source: University of Delaware

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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