The Pool

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The theory of diversity holds that by adding more viewpoints we get a better result, regardless of how smart the individuals holding those viewpoints are.  Diversity increases group intelligence.

 In practice, if you want a smarter group of people, add smarter people.  Diversity dilutes group intelligence.

 This is not news, it’s confirmation of what we already knew from anecdotal evidence. Adding more people to a committee does not increase committee intelligence, it just takes longer to get nothing done.

 It’s settled science.  You’re not a science denier, are you?

 Joe Doakes

To the left, “settled science” means “comports with our  narrative, so shut up”.

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30 thoughts on “The Pool

  1. There’s as Group Dumbification Theory. The more people in a group there are then the dumber their collective actions will be.

  2. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that group intelligence correlates more with social aptitude than IQ?

  3. No. One stupid person (like you, for example) in a sea of geniuses would spoil the entire groupthink. Once again, your reason is all wrong. Try again.

  4. The Big Stink Theory of Auto Safety: For every teenager you add to a car, the intelligence decreases 50% – which, translated, means a group of kids going to the mall in mom’s minivan has about a 6% chance of actually arriving.

  5. You constantly hear that “diversity makes us stronger” (or more profitable, or more resilient, add superlative of your choice).
    “Diversity” is a political goal. It has not been proven that diversity improves anything other than diversity. Some of the most successful nations, corporations, time periods, etc., have had very little diversity.
    Especially if you are a college student you will hear the “diversity” cant on an almost hourly basis. It’s crap. The claim that the more diverse, the better, is bad social science.

  6. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that group intelligence correlates more with social aptitude than IQ?

    Dear God, NO! Do you want your next safety system on an airliner designed by the smartest, most safety obsessed engineers who, generally, have the social aptitudes and sensitivities that make Trump look like Mother Teresa, or do you want them designed by the Wymyn’s Studies Department?

    Look, “group intelligence” in the context you’re thinking of is purely political and “soft” decisions (do we add vegan selections on Fridays in the cafeteria and if we do will we be accused of catering to Catholics during Lent?) rather than the “hard” decisions (is it more optimal to consolidate our data centers to reduce overhead or leave them dispersed to promote redundancy in case of failures?). The “hard” decisions tend to lead to much more confrontation and demand for empirical evidence and analysis, meaning IQ matters much more to the group than “working together” and respecting everyone’s “feelings.”

  7. No. One stupid person (like you, for example) in a sea of geniuses would spoil the entire groupthink. Once again, your reason is all wrong. Try again.

    Reverse is true as well from personal experience starting in middle school. I carried so many group projects until I realized young males suck at working together. I was the first guy to do group projects with girls and I always have preferred to work in a group setting since with girls or at least a mix. All male and all female projects don’t work at any level. Since we both view things so differently you need both perspectives.

  8. My view of the whole situation of “group IQ” can be summed up thusly:

    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

    “People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” – Thomas Sowell

    Yes, I’ve seen design reviews that have broken out in fist-fights after the meeting. Engineers aren’t your best examples of socially aware creatures. Our whole being is about finding the best solution to a problem. Which makes it really tough to interact with more feminine types who don’t want you to try to solve what they claim is a “problem” when they really just want to vent to you. But who would you rather solve a critical problem: someone obsessed with finding the right, optimal answer or someone who just slapped something together to get the paycheck while whining about their significant other?

  9. On social intelligence and all, it strikes me first of all that when we talk about a group solving a problem, we are almost always talking about a group of people working in the field solving a problem. You have a problem with a machine, you get the machinist in the room. Most people appealing to “social intelligence” who haven’t learned that the wisdom of groups really means the wisdom of stakeholders, not just that of random individuals. (which is why the Founders insisted that you had to own land to vote–you need a “stake” in the game)

    Regarding the “lack of social intelligence” among engineers, I’ve been guilty, but it strikes me that what’s often going on is a “lack of logic” among the “socially intelligent.”

  10. Nerdbert, I like this one,
    “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’ “- Dave Barry

  11. Also nerdbert, did you ever see the video with the woman with a nail sticking out of her forehead complaining about her headache and tearing sweaters but gets angry whenever her boyfriend suggests getting the nail removed?

  12. My theorem: the lower that a person scores on a standard intelligence test, the more likely he or she will claim that standard intelligence tests do not accurately measure intelligence.

  13. Nerdbert – my favorite quote regarding meetings has always been “Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings. They did it by killing all those that opposed them.”

    PoD – my experience is wholly different from you. When in the Army, I spent most of my career in combat arms (which, at the time, meant all male). Things got accomplished. If you said “that’s a f’ing stupid idea” to someone, they didn’t get upset or offended. Things focused on the mission, and accomplishment. When I moved over to the non combat focused side of things, there was a whole lot more feelings involved. And, of course, monitoring of language. There was more time spent on planning social events than on actual mission planning.

  14. Shakingmyhead; did yesterday feel a little bit like the “good old days”, then? : ^)

    Sorry, couldn’t resist, but I am reminded of a couple of times that I got in trouble with the PC Nazis at work. One does not need to use racial, ethic, or other slurs to get in trouble anymore. One time, I simply noted that with five children in my home, we would end up bankrupt if we’d chosen to have my wife work–daycare and all. That was interpreted as me being against women in the workforce. Um, maybe…go back to remedial reading comprehension, boss? (that was at least what I felt like saying)

  15. Yes, I’ve seen design reviews that have broken out in fist-fights after the meeting.

    We have completely removed such discord, Nerd, with Wednesday afternoon team building retreats to the local gun range. In fact, one of the first things a guy gets asked during interviews is “what kind of guns do you have?”

  16. SMH- to be fair middle school and the Army arent exactly a apple to apple comparison and PC didn’t take over really bad until I had left high school in 2005.

  17. BB – I almost said I miss those days, but then reminded myself about all the other BS that went along with it. There was plenty of bad in those days as well.

    PoD – Concur, for the most part. There are times in the Army that feels like you’re back in middle school though. I am now trying to recall if I ever had to do a group project in middle or high school. I don’t think they were in fashion yet. Except for a lab partner in science.

  18. We have completely removed such discord, Nerd, with Wednesday afternoon team building retreats to the local gun range. In fact, one of the first things a guy gets asked during interviews is “what kind of guns do you have?”

    Ummm, so how much time do you expect to have left to do the technical part of the interview? Just asking for a friend, because it could be a while answering that.

  19. All male and all female projects don’t work at any level. Since we both view things so differently you need both perspectives.

    Maybe. I honestly can say I don’t give a d**n about another person’s gender (or lack of gender) when I’m trying to solve a problem. One of the best RFIC engineers I ever worked with was female and I can’t say that it had any effect on how she was treated or treated me in terms of butting heads on technical issues. And our RFIC SoC really didn’t need a female perspective to be successful and sell hundreds of millions, it needed to be the best one out there and she was one of the best.

    Then there was when Charlie came back years as Charlene. That was hard. The voice hadn’t changed so I had a very hard time remembering to be sensitive to “gender identity” by using the “right” pronoun, especially in phone conferences. But I didn’t really care, because the individual in question was a questionable flake before changing over and remained a questionable flake afterwards. Charlie and Charlene punched all the diversity buttons you can imagine, but were a negative value add to the team when we had to shoot down all the stupid suggestions with data.

  20. I don’t have a engineering background but I’m guessing from what they say about majors that the split is 90/10 male maybe 85/15 or 80/20 in recent year so it would make sense that you’d have to have all male group projects. I just speak from personal experience and being in the customer service industry which is pretty mixed.

  21. PoD, I don’t think that EE is actually 80/20 yet. That might be close to the graduation rate, but a lot of those 20 elect to go fields other than engineering. Which isn’t surprising as they can actually be a lot more lucrative.

    In a field like customer service, I don’t think that engineering principles are quite as valued and I actually appreciate that. You’d want folks who can understand interacting with various humans and subcultures making decisions on how employees should interact with customers. As such, being sensitive to communication styles matters, as that’s what the actual product in your business is.

    But I really, really want the persons who are designing my bridges to care about safety, design margins, tensile strength of the materials involved, etc. rather than whether the shape of the bridge reflects input from female LGBT native activists. I don’t want the engineer picking airbags for my car to be worried about whether the airbag inflator reflects the feelings of the African American community, I want them to pick the one that’s safer and more reliable.

    I’d suggest you read Scott Adams rather humorous take on engineers here. It’s truer than many an engineer will admit, with nuggets like:

    For society, it’s probably a good thing that engineers value function over appearance. For example, you wouldn’t want engineers to build nuclear power plants that only look like they would keep all the radiation inside.

    Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic
    thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. […] Engineers understand that their appearance only bothers other people and therefore it is not worth optimizing.

    The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:
    RISK: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent people.
    REWARD: A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame.

    No engineer looks at a television remote control without wondering what it would take to turn it into a stun gun.

    Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can’t handle the truth.

    That last isn’t quite true, although I have had marketing tell me that they always feel like they’re rolling the dice when they have to take me on a customer call.

  22. It is dangerous to assign characteristics to a person based on a generalization. This used to be called racism or sexism. Now it is a requirement. It is considered sexist to say “we need a woman’s point of view. Grab a woman and see what she thinks.” But corporate culture is doing the same thing when they talk about “diversity.” “Diversity is a corporate value” is essentially the same as saying “sexism and racism are corporate values.” Diversity means that you believe that a person’s thought processes are a product of their race or sex. If being a woman means sympathizing with the oppressed, is a woman who does not feel any particular empathy for the oppressed less of a woman?
    Diversity says “yes.”

  23. Same thing in Supreme Court nominees. Just exactly what IS the Latino Lesbian perspective on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution?

  24. MP, your thoughts make me want to share.
    I’ve done the engineering side, and the customer service side, worked through the group think, and the “leadership gatherings”. I’ve suffered gathered staff in a room to get input and opinions for a consensus on best resolve to problem solving. More times than I can count I’d come away with no answers. So at the end of day I had to act on best practices. I never had much success with group think.

    I will say I’m pleased with the concept of STEM education and bringing both younger guys and gals to the sciences, it’s be unwise to discount the gals. For me it’s better (for the most part) to encourage them to science than liberal arts.

  25. Imagine, Scott Hughes, if every few years you had to put in an extra ten or twenty percent of time at work because female coworkers took medical leave, for reasons no man could ever take medical leave. And they can’t pay you more for working more because that would be sex based discrimination.
    The sciences are in a real bind. If you are an academic physicist, your career, your legacy, is the number of physicists you have trained.
    You get ten PhD applicants, eight of them men, two of them women. You’ve got money to give two of them fellowships. The rules say you should give one fellowship to a man and one fellowship to a woman to avoid accusations of sexism. The problem is that 80% of the male PhD students go on to become researchers, while 80% of the female PhD candidates quit at some point to have kids or make a home.
    What do you do?

  26. Women don’t enter Engineering and Physics as undergrads any more today than they did 30 years ago (when I was in school). The lack of researchers follows from decisions made by 18-year-olds. I’ve always struggled to understand the lack of appeal for young women in these fields. And please don’t say its because the men in the field are all sexist pigs. Medicine and law were full of sexist pigs, too, and women now outnumber men in med schools and law schools. As a Process Engineer, I have known quite a few female engineers, but I haven’t heard a convincing reason for this oft-discussed phenomenon. One problem is that interviewing the women who chose engineering doesn’t tell you why the ones who did not made that choice. I think part of the problem is high school math and science teachers, who for the most part haven’t a clue what engineering is

  27. I encourage my female grandchildren to explore the sciences. For me it’s about the challenge of deductive reasoning vs.some of the liberal arts concepts. I’m not a fan of affirmative action policies, I think what good they have served is gone bye (I’m inclined to make exception for returning vets). MP mentions about females in and what is today is entitled leave of absence, I’d prefer they didn’t have carte blanche leave, and rather governed by an employment contract that says you can leave your job for child rearing or such but that’s your choice and doesn’t compel your employer to hold a position for you. Life decisions can be hard.

  28. The reason that women aren’t coming into engineering in huge numbers is really the same reason that U.S. born males aren’t going into it in the way they did in the 1980s; companies fire engineers, but hospitals are far less likely to fire doctors. If you’re programmed for security, what is your choice?

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