Garett Jones is Endorsed

‘Pseudoerasums’ writes,

Your “moral circle” is wider with intelligence and patience than without.

…To paraphrase Garett Jones…smart, patient people are more Coasian; they find a way to cooperate and build good institutions.

It is a very long essay, and all throughout I was thinking of Garett Jones, so it was nice to see him turn up at the end. Pointer from Tyler Cowen.

The substantive point is that you can expect good institutions when you have a population that is high in intelligence and patience. Although the author of the essay does not go this far, I would suggest a causal pyramid with population intelligence and patience at the bottom, institutions the layer on top of that, and economic outcomes and other indicators of human development on top of that.

See also the appendix to my recipe for good government piece.

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6 Responses to Garett Jones is Endorsed

  1. Handle says:

    The substantive point is that you can expect good institutions when you have a population that is high in intelligence and patience.

    I think that needs a qualifier ” – for its members – ” after “institutions”. Cartels are institutions which are unstable, but they are less unstable when the members are intelligent and patient. That’s good for the insider members, but bad for everyone else on the outside.

    Or maybe I should put it this way. Academic fields in general select for individuals with very high amounts of both intelligence and patience. How would we rate the institutions that have arisen in various fields? Economics is a field full of intelligent and patient people, and yet how about that replication crisis and the state of macroeconomics? Who is going to lose tenure for authoring a few bad studies that can’t be replicated?

    Are these institutions ‘good’? Good for the insiders, sure. For everyone else – not so much.

    I guess the idea of good government institutions is that everybody in the nation is kind of an insider vs all those foreigners who are outsiders. That might have been a good approximation in the past. I don’t think it’s a good description of who the real insiders and outsiders are anymore.

    • asdf says:

      Good summary. High IQ people pass the potential usefulness test, but its just potential. How they decide to live determines if that potential will be used for good or ill. One needs to ask questions about their character, culture, likely effect on group dynamics, etc before knowing if they would be a good or bad addition to a society.

  2. I’d add: if what was devised was only barely working with the people you’ve got in your institution, then you must be vigilant against declines in the average quality (and experience+trust in the system) of your peers or it all falls apart. (On the other hand: if it’s robustly working with plenty of margin, then you can hope to establish satellites out of lands where suitable people are merely stuck in bad societies, and you may also import new and below-par people without ruining your garden.) It’s important that if you add people you’re sure you can make them believe in working toward being of use in the system. Undiagnosed differences in opinion about this dynamic underly most of the prolonged disagreements on immigration policy (between well-meaning, intelligent, patient people who nonetheless offer vastly different prescriptions).

  3. Ghost of Christmas Past says:

    This is why mass low-IQ immigration is a terrible idea.

    • Baconbacon says:

      Immigration typically requires savings and forethought, it heavily selects for the right type of people.

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