Book Summary: “Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matter More than Your Own” by Garett Jones

Title: Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matter So Much More Than Your Own
Author: Garett Jones
Scope: 4 stars
Readability: 4 stars
My personal rating: 4 stars
See more on my book rating system.

If you enjoy this summary, please support the author by buying the book.

Topic of Book

Jones explore the role that the average intelligence of a nation plays in promoting its prosperity and well-being.

If you would like to learn more about how group knowledge promoted progress, read my book From Poverty to Progress: How Humans Invented Progress, and How We Can Keep It Going.

Key Take-aways

  • It is better to be a person with average intelligence living in a nation of people with above-average intelligence than to be a genius living in a nation of people with below-average intelligence.

Important Quotes from Book

“This isn’t a book about how to raise IQ: it’s a book about the benefits of raising IQ”

“when it comes to the link between test scores and wages, exceptions are the rule and the link is moderate at best”

“Now set that next to another fact—that nations with the highest test scores are about eight times more prosperous than nations with the lowest scores—and you can see the paradox of IQ”

“test scores do a better job predicting an economy’s performance than do years of education… They also found out that higher test scores have a much stronger relationship with national economic performance than with individual economic performance.”

“I’ll lay out five major channels for how IQ can pay off more for nations than for you as an individual:

  1. High-scoring people tend to save more”
  2. High-scoring groups tend to be more cooperative.”
  3. High-scoring groups are more likely to support market-oriented policies, a key to national prosperity.”
  4. High-scoring groups will tend to be more successful at using highly productive team-based technology. With these “weakest link” technologies, one misstep can destroy the product’s value, so getting high-quality workers together is crucial.”
  5. The human tendency to conform, at least a little, creates a fifth channel that multiplies the effect of the other four: the imitation channel, the peer effect channel. Even a small tendency to conform, to act just a little bit like those around us, to try to fit in, tends to quietly shape our behavior. If you have cooperative, patient, well-informed neighbors, that probably makes you a bit more cooperative, patient, and well-informed.”

“Here’s the most important fact about IQ tests: skill in one area predicts skill in another.”

“IQ tests do about as well as the best kinds of job interviews—structured job interviews the relationship between IQ scores and eventual worker performance is modest to strong at best. But IQ tests are as good as anything that exists in the real world”

“the subjects’ teenage IQ scores did a better job of predicting their wages as they grew older! So it looks like your IQ is something that, at least in a rich country such as the United States, you “grow into.” It takes a while for people to find their place in life, and that’s true for finding a place to use your intelligence.

So when these men were fifty-three, how much did IQ pay? The payoff to a high IQ appears moderate. Those with IQs in the top 10 percent earned about 60 percent more than those in the bottom 10 percent.”

“Any simple story that “wealth causes IQ” has to account for the puzzlingly high average scores found in Taiwan and Hong Kong decades ago, as well as the high scores found in the poverty-stricken but fast-growing China we all know about today. A healthy environment helps to boost IQ, but it can’t be the whole story.”

“but here’s one piece of evidence that it’s possible for average IQ scores to increase for an entire nation: it has already happened time and again in the twentieth century. In the rich countries, it appears that average IQ scores rose in every country for which data exist at a rate of perhaps two or three points per decade, an astonishing rate of increase.”

“the most important finding in sociology is that “people have a modest tendency for conformity.” We tend to imitate what our neighbors are doing”

“Why is cooperation so hard? Because cooperating is often against your own best interest”

Axelrod “came up with some principles for encouraging cooperation in repeated prisoner’s dilemma settings. Three of them matter for us: think of them as the Three P’s of the RPD. Players should

  1. Be patient: Focus on the long-term benefits of finding a way to cooperate”
  2. “Be pleasant: Start off nice—make sure those bared teeth are part of a smile.”
  3. “Be perceptive: Figure out what game you’re playing—know the rules, and know the benefits and costs of cooperation.

I claim that people with higher IQs will be better at all three”

“Reciprocity is so important to explaining human behavior that economists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, … sometimes refer to human beings not as homo sapiens—man the knower—but as homo reciprocans—man the reciprocator. And in a variety of settings, it appears that people with higher test scores are more likely to be reciprocators.

And here’s the most exciting result from my experiments with Omar and Jaap: on average, over the course of the entire experiment, higher-IQ pairs were five times more cooperative than higher-IQ individuals. The link between IQ and cooperation was an emergent phenomenon; it arose not from smart individual players but from smart pairs of players.”

If you would like to learn more about how group knowledge promoted progress, read my book From Poverty to Progress: How Humans Invented Progress, and How We Can Keep It Going.

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