Liberal eugenics and social stratification

I have/had this conversation on OKCupid. It seemed shareworthy. I’m red, and the other person is blue.

Your profile mentions eugenics as an interest… is that from a pro or anti stance? Or neutral?

Pro, although not like how eugenics was practiced in Europe in the 30’s. Big supporter of liberal eugenics, with embryo selection being the most interesting current proposal if we don’t go straight to gene-therapy.

Hm, liberal eugenics. So you don’t see a problem with social stratification as the practical result? Or is my American capitalistic environment just influencing my thinking on that one?

There is already social stratification because of better genes among different groups. Indeed, this is the topic of The Bell Curve. :)

Of course, in the beginning this technology will be for the rich people, who will by that have even smarter+healthier children than they already have. The same is true for better schools. But such biotech falls quickly in price (say, logarithmic speeds cf. price of genome sequencing) and will soon benefit large parts of society, in the sense that people can have smarter and more healthy kids. But even when only the rich will get it, this will also benefit the rest, since society as a whole benefits from having smarter+more healthy people (to begin with, it will give society a larger pool of potential leaders).

In practice, one would start by expanding the battle against hereditary diseases for the simple reason that these are the easiest to find the genes for. For instance, screening for certain diseases during pregnancy is already widely practiced, e.g. Down’s syndrome. In Denmark 99% of women who are diagnosed as being pregnant with a Down’s syndrome fetus abort it. This has dramatically lowered the number of Down’s syndrome people in Denmark, thus saving parents from the hassle, and saving society (=everybody) from the economic disadvantage such a person is/would be.

We already know of many such genes for diseases/disease risks, while we don’t know of a single well-confirmed case for intelligence. We will find them in the next few decades. The reason they are hard to find is that there are probably 1000s of genes that affect intelligence, but a single gene has only a tiny effect (positive or negative), say 0.5 IQ. This means that one needs a huge sample to spot them from statistical noise (i.e. high powered studies).

Of course, USA is really fucked up in the relative wealth department. :) I particularly liked this video about that problem:

-Emil :)

I’m curious about your interpretation of “better genes” and exactly in what way they contribute to one’s social standing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your perspective sounds a bit deterministic if you’re convinced that the dominant influence on where you end up in the hierarchy is genetics, especially if your interpretation of “better genes” is centered around IQ (considering IQs in the very highest ranges are actually negatively correlated with success). It also sounds like you don’t believe environmental factors make much of a dent overall, am I correct?

Tangent: it seems you’re pretty focused on meritocracy, and while that’s a noble sentiment and a nice idea (like Marxist communism), it unfortunately doesn’t exist in the wild (also like Marxist communism). It’s been my observation that under the facade of well-meaning plans, every large community, social structure, organization, etc. is essentially based on a Hollywood mentality: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I’m not arrogant enough to assume that my own experience is representative of the entire range of experiences, but I have yet to find a self-proclaimed “meritocracy” that truly *was* that.

But back on the topic of social stratification, assuming we were able to influence the leadership potential of a given group, is it not true that when an individual or group acquires power they are unlikely to give that power up voluntarily? And will, generally speaking, restrict the ability of other individuals or groups to attain power as well?

And yes, the USA is fucked up in a lot of areas, but wealth is a pretty big one. Also, sorry if I seem a bit contentious, devil’s advocacy is just a beloved pastime of mine. And the better informed your conversation partner, the more fun it tends to be. I don’t need attribution, but if the anonymity was bothering you, my name’s ****** :)

With better genes, I just mean those that code for higher intelligence, health, and attractiveness. This is not quite what biologists mean by better genes, because they are talking about what fits with the environment. In that sense, genes for intelligence are bad genes, since there is selection for lower intelligence in most western countries (smarter people have fewer children). The movie Idiocracy is a description of what will happen in the far future unless we do something. :) I however, think that we definitely will do something to stop the dysgenic trend (as it is called).Not deterministic, stochastic/probabilistic. No one thinks that such things are deterministic (well, no serious scholar, fatalists of course do!), but the evidence is very strong that it is highly predictable, although not perfectly so.
As for social stratification, yes, since IQ-tests are the best measure of intelligence (=df pure g-factor), that is what I’m referring to. :) No, shared environment has no effect on adult intelligence, unless it’s an extremely bad environment (think really bad inner city black neighborhood). This was a surprise to researchers when they found it. It means that the usual sociological theories about it are all wrong. Perhaps needless to say, I think very lowly of sociology. A pity, since it’s an important field of study. Only the quality of the research is so low.As for environment overall, it accounts for about ~20% of the variance. But this is non-shared environment, not shared environment (like poverty). It is currently unknown what this mysterious 20% non-shared env. consists of. Presumably, it’s things like avoiding diseases in one’s childhood, avoiding head injury, having good friends/teachers in school.You seem to have been inflicted with the Malcolm Gladwell myth about high IQs. It is in fact wrong, higher intelligence is always better for success. We actually do have data for >120 (90th percentile, white population), and intelligence still makes a difference, in much the same way as below whatever hypothetical threshold.

See e.g.

You are wrong about it not existing in the wild. Many online communities are explicitly meritocratic (e.g. Mozilla). ;) Also, in a broader sense, our democracies are somewhat meritocratic. Politicians are generally well-educated compared to the population.

Perhaps you have not looked hard enough? ;) I spent some time researching the issue somewhat thoroughly on Google. There isn’t much academic written on the subject for some reason. Weird. However, China had clearly meritocratic policies for the selection of officials in the past. Cf. Wikipedia.

Social stratification, in theory, yes. And we also see some of that in practice. For instance, many democracies have a election threshold. The way it works is that any party that receives less than that amount of votes do not get into parliament, even if they ought to have a seat based on the math alone. This helps keeping newcomers out of the political system. It is an issue that surprisingly have not received any notable attention in the academic literature. I’m mentioning it because I did some research on that issue today. :)

Yes, I normally joke (in seriousness) that the US is the worst western country. It is not wrong. It is difficult to find a single thing the US does better than say, any north European country. Sad especially because the US is the dominant country in the world right now. Although that will change to China in the near future. Not sure that’s much better. :P

That was a long message. :P Let me know if you need sources for whatever. I have sources, it is just such a hassle to insert them into OKC posts. :P Especially, if one wants to keep it ‘somewhat’ casual (I always fail :D).

(I guess I could use end notes…)

Also hi ******.

I was actually aware of the data on the impact of environmental factors on IQ. I was addressing the fact that a very high IQ quite often leads to social maladjustment, and that the ability to operate effectively in social situations is a much greater predictor of success than intelligence alone. ( So to say that higher intelligence is “always” better for success as if there were a linear correlation between success and IQ is to leave out a relevant chunk of information that could potentially explain *why* instead of just *how*. Human relationships are essentially based on power dynamics, no? If success can be interpreted as the amount of power one wields in one’s social environment, then it makes sense that the scales would be tipped in the favor of the moderately intelligent, rather than the highly intelligent, who tend to relate poorly to the vast majority of people and thus have a weaker hold on them from a leadership standpoint.

I am not acquainted with Malcolm Gladwell’s myth, would you care to elaborate?

I will concede your point about online communities, though with no real interaction I’m not sure they qualify as actual “communities”. And the idea that education constitutes merit may not be misguided in the Danish educational system, but it certainly is in the American system. Our difference of opinion here is very likely due to our respective environments. American “democracy” is a dog-and-pony show. I’m sure everything is wonderful and lovely in Denmark though :)

Ya wonder why there isn’t any research on what’s keeping the little guys out of power, huh? Y’know, even scientists need funding…
(When in doubt, follow the money)

So your idea that the technology would diffuse to those outside the upper class is on shaky ground… the precedent set by other forms of technology doesn’t necessarily apply here, since the affordability of a smartphone isn’t nearly as threatening to the controlling interests as the power shift that would come as the result of making previously scarce abilities (that translate directly into leadership potential) common.

Yes, it is sad… it’s especially frustrating to live in the dominant country in the world and then go abroad to find that everyone and their mother has a firmly entrenched opinion on your politics :P But I agree, northern Europe is generally a much better place on a number of metrics.

I am certainly curious about your sources, on principle, and because I’m just curious and like to read. So anything you’d like to pass along is appreciated.

I’ll respond to this later. I read the message and was impressed. But I’m too drunk to respond intelligently right now. :p

… drunk at 2pm on a Thursday? That’s Danes for you, I suppose… :P

Today is a holy day (<a href=”” target=”_blank”>This one</a> ), so yesterday I went drinking. And I drank so much I woke up drunk after sleeping. That’s why. ;)

The physics friday bar (my favorite) has this system: Open on all fridays. Every work day followed by a non-work day counts as a friday. So this means that this week there are two fridays (wednesday and friday).

Also, trying to see if links in HTML works…

That’s a negative apparently. Would make for easier referencing…

Hi [NAME],


Much less drunk now. Hopefully more intelligent (phenotype at least!). :)


—- Intelligence and social maladjustment —-


I didn’t know that Terman studied social maladjustment in his famous study. So you managed to find something about intelligence that I didn’t know! That doesn’t happen often. :P I knew that high IQ societies have higher rates of social maladjustment, but that could be due to self-selection effects. After all, it seems that socially maladjusted people are exactly the kind of people who would want to be members of high IQ clubs. Socially well-adapted people would seem to have less need for them. No? I think I read a study of that before, but don’t recall the exact source.


As for success, I am referring to data like these: It’s from the same study as before, and it shows that IQ holds just fine as a predictor even within a >135 IQ group. It even seems to be slightly non-linear as in curving upwards, making intelligence even more important at the ultra high end.


Anyway, the most interesting thing about that study is how the five personality factors predict income. N very oddly has no effect at all, it seems. Very strange! The others are not too surprising, except for the slightly negative correlation with O. Perhaps that’s due to people with high O selecting less well paying jobs (say, professors), not because they do worse at the same kind of jobs. Testable, but I don’t know of any data.


The Gladwell myth is the idea that there is a ceiling effect for IQ/intelligence such that more doesn’t give any benefits. This makes little sense to intelligence researchers and is flatly contracted by empirical evidence as shown above: both income and number of publications and patents. Although apparently not in the humanities… I leave the inference to the reader. :)


But since you said you like sources, I tried to locate the precise whereabouts of the original claim. It is mentioned in many places, say, here: but I downloaded the book and took a look myself. Unfortunately, it isn’t on (deleted by copyright), but it’s on torrent.


The claim is in chapter 3, here:

But there’s a catch. The relationship between success and IQ works only up to a point. Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage.8


The endnote is:

The “IQ fundamentalist” Arthur Jensen put it thusly in his 1980 book Bias in Mental Testing (p. 113): “The four socially and personally most important threshold regions on the IQ scale are those that differentiate with high probability between persons who, because of their level of general mental ability, can or cannot attend a regular school (about IQ 50), can or cannot master the traditional subject matter of elementary school (about IQ 75), can or cannot succeed in the academic or college preparatory curriculum through high school (about IQ 105), can or cannot graduate from an accredited four-year college with grades that would qualify for admission to a professional or graduate school (about IQ 115). Beyond this, the IQ level becomes relatively unimportant in terms of ordinary occupational aspirations and criteria of success. That is not to say that there are not real differences between the intellectual capabilities represented by IQs of 115 and 150 or even between IQs of 150 and 180. But IQ differences in this upper part of the scale have far less personal implications than the thresholds just described and are generally of lesser importance for success in the popular sense than are certain traits of personality and character.””


Actually, his reference is to EXACTLY the book that I am currently reading! Not only is Gladwell’s claim not supported by the evidence cited, but it is also contradicted by the evidence from the Terman study. The reason the reference does not help his case is that Jensen is talking about thresholds for getting through education systems. It is true that once you get past, say, 130, college will be highly manageable, even a hard subject like physics. Jensen was not talking about other real life achievements such as patents or income or publications, etc. Obviously, with major advances in science, a higher intelligence than 120 is a great idea. Studies also show that, since Nobel price winners are usually way beyond 120.


But it seems that I was wrong to say that more intelligence is always better. It seems to be better for the things mentioned and things like them, but bad for social adjustment. It might not make them less happy though. The correlation between intelligence and happiness is an active research question with seemingly contradictory results.


—- Power dynamics —-


I have no opinion, but it sounds like sociology and I googled it and it was sociology. As someone very interested in behavioral genetics, I am understandably not too impressed by that field of study. There is a reason why psychometricians have coined two fallacies named after sociology. :)


—- Meritocracy, education —-


Education is a decent predictor of intelligence, so that will make it measure merit if we think that it is a good idea to have smarter rulers. I certainly think so. :p But, of course, in countries where there is no free education, education is also a function of (parental) wealth, which is however also correlated with intelligence of the children, but to a much smaller degree. I like free education systems because it increases social mobility, which is necessary for any meritocratic society. :) By the way, I’m not rich and my social background are ‘divorced’ parents without fancy jobs or educations. I am the first person in the family to attend university. No economic privilege here.


Yes, the US democracy is notoriously bad. Actually most democracies are really bad compared to what they could be. Have you looked into liquid democracy?


This is a pretty decent introduction.

Can of course also just read on the official site:


There are many faults with the Danish system that I can point out if that area interests you. :P For starters, to be put on the voting ballot, one needs to gather a ridiculous amount of signatures (20,500) in complicated way. This basically means that to be put on the ballot, one needs a considerable amount of money, probably in the order of tens of thousands of dollars (>100k DKK). This is the reason why my party (Pirate Party Denmark) is not on the ballot.


Are you familiar with CGPGrey’s great series of videos on voting systems?


The US system is of course FPTP (first past the post), and this always leads to two party systems, which are horrible forms of democracy. Perhaps the worst kind aside from outright corrupt ones or with voter fraud (say, Russia).


—- Eugenics’ political aspects —-


Things like embryo selection will not make talent non-scarce. It will however improve the general intelligence levels of societies if widely employed. I also don’t think it would be possible to keep such a technology super expensive no matter which power interests want that. There will quickly be a huge demand for such technology, meaning that companies can earn money by making it available, even if illegal (like illegal drugs). The technology necessary for that is not particularly difficult to operate or large etc.


In any case, since generations take time, even if the rich have a window of opportunity of, say, 20 years before it’s so cheap as to be affordable for most people, or even free in countries with free health care, that will only be a single generation.


With the price curves for similar technology, it won’t take long before it’s dirt cheap. Actually, the time is somewhat predictable already. Since embryo selection would at least require a number of genome sequences, any number >1 will do, but more is better of course (larger variety to select from). Right now such full genome sequences are pretty expensive, but the 1,000 dollar mark is close. In 10 years, it will be very cheap so that everybody can afford it. For efficient embryo selection, one would need something like 100 or so. So, it will have to be very cheap. But it will be. :)


Then comes the price of egg extraction or some other method of getting eggs (grow them perhaps? stem cells?). I don’t think it’s very expensive even now. Sperm is obviously easy to get a hold of :P. Then they have to be combine separately. Can’t be too expensive.


In general the only expensive thing will be the sequencing, and it is falling logarithmicly in price.


I don’t think my belief is on shaky ground at all. I think it is more or less certain, but we can make a bet on it, and you can come find me in 30 years or so. :P


I got the idea from Richard Lynn’s Eugenics: A reassessment. It’s on page 252ff. I quote the beginning:


”Embryo selection consists of growing a number of embryos in vitro, testing

them for their genetic characteristics, and selecting for implantation those

with genetic characteristics regarded as desirable, while at the same time

discarding those with genetic characteristics regarded as undesirable. This

procedure is also known as embryo biopsy, which entails growing several blas-

tocysts (embryos grown in vitro to eight cells), removing one of the eight

cells, and testing it for genetic and chromosomal defects. Verlinksy, Pergament,

and Strom (1990) reported the use of this procedure to screen out embryos

with genes for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and Down’s syndrome, so an

embryo free of these disorders could be implanted in the mother. At about

the same time, another use of this technique was reported by Handyside and

his colleagues at London University. They used IVF (in vitro fertilization) for

two couples in which the female was a carrier for an X-linked recessive dis-

ease, which is expressed only in males. To avoid the potential birth of a boy

with the X-linked disorder, the physicians tested for the sex of the embryos

and implanted only females. This technique allows couples to choose the sex

of their babies, whether this is to avoid having babies likely to inherit serious

disorders, or simply because they prefer one sex rather than the other.”


So, actually, it has already been tested, just without sequencing. One can of course detect other problems without a full genome sequencing.


I got the term ”liberal eugenics” from Wikipedia and from the book mentioned on Wikipedia which I also read:

Agar, Nicholas (2004). Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement. ISBN 1-4051-2390-7.


Lynn’s book is much better. Liberal here is just non-coercive eugenics. I dislike coercive eugenics — I’m a freedom kind of person. :)


Also, since we don’t actually know the genes for intelligence yet, but do know a lot of genes for genetic diseases — genetic diseases will be the first thing to fix with this kind of selection. And actually it was, as seen above. Genetic diseases are more common among the poor/dumb people, so they will benefit the most of this technology. Societies with free health care have an interest in making this technology available, for the simple reason that it saves money in the long run. It is very expensive to treat many chronic diseases (say, diabetes), but this technology is once per person.


Eugenics is also becoming more mainstream, just under other names. See e.g.:


—- US compared to real countries :P —-


You don’t have a state church, or a monarchy. Denmark has both, but not too much trouble in practice. Still, there are some things. :P


—- Sources —-


I have an e-library here: Probably there are many things on that that should interest you. At least if you share any of my interests, which it looks like. :) You can also take a look at my Goodreads profile if you didn’t already.


Some of the links are broken due to a flaw in the php-script that I don’t know how to fix.


Of course, you can also just ask me. I have tried to list the major works I got the ideas from above.


PS. You should share some pictures with me. :)

Social maladjustment in high IQ societies may be due in part to self-selection, yes, particularly in the case of Mensa and the “2 percenters”, who one could argue are not qualitatively different from those of average IQ, and whose IQs do not create an intrinsic barrier to communication with the 98 percent. However, I do not think it is unlikely that there exists a threshold above which some degree of social maladjustment is unavoidable; a person whose intelligence is in the range of 160-170 would relate to a person of average IQ in much the same way a person in the 130-140 range would relate to a mentally retarded person. It seems to follow that an individual who relates to 98% of their peer group the way “gifted” people relate to the mentally retarded faces probably insurmountable obstacles in their social development. (Tangent: forgive me for presuming to diagnose a stranger over the internet, and also for presuming that the stranger in question has any interest or need for my diagnosis, but your self-described “mild case of Gregory House” sounds a bit like a manifestation of this very phenomenon, no? That is, assuming you are above the 2 percent mark :P)

I don’t think this conversation can progress until we reach a mutually satisfying definition of “success”. Are you emphasising earnings as an indicator because this is the easiest to quantify? Or do you actually believe that earning power is synonymous with success? For the record, I don’t consider this discussion a “debate” in that I am not neccessarily looking for tangible proof. In fact, it is my belief that constraining the terms of the conversation to only that which can be tangibly proven is unneccesarily restrictive, and even detrimental to creative problem solving. Not that statistics should be ignored… but the skepticism with which you regard sociological research should perhaps be extended more broadly, as bad science is not the exclusive domain of sociology (and even interpreting “good” science can be tricky).

On the personality factors front, I would suggest that “O” might translate into higher usage of recreational substances, particularly in the college years that are so formative to one’s career path (in the US, anyway), potentially leading to lower academic success rates. Alternately, people with high “O” scores may be prone to boredom and would be less likely to specialize, specialization (supposedly) being key to success in modern society.

Yes, Gladwell sounds like an idiot. An idiot or a politician. The contempt with which you regard sociology is similar to the contempt with which I regard politics.

Hm, happiness… I believe the notion that happiness is objectively quantifiable is a mistaken one.

Your refusal to engage any argument that smacks of sociology does not render it moot, it simply narrows your field of vision. I do not suffer under the delusion that the vast majority of sociological research is devoid of fallacy, or even particularly useful at all in an academic sense (more often than not, anything politically useful is actually academically harmful). But I also don’t allow the absence of reliable statistics to preclude any sort of observation or speculation, because absolute certainty is not always possible. And also because leaning on figures as a crutch is the hallmark of those incapable of original thought :)

This article may interest you, and will also probably seal your judgement of America as the Worst Western Country (TM):

As a disclaimer, I do not regularly read the American Conservative, nor do I identify as a conservative.

Your educational system is probably my favorite aspect of Scandinavian style socialism. At least it sounds good from an outside perspective, and apparently it’s worked well for at least one member of your society :)

Liquid democracy is an interesting form, but it does not solve the real problem: there are too many people, and too many of those people are idiots. The average person can’t be trusted to deliver my mail properly, let alone make national policy decisions. Populism is in vogue right now, and while I am not an elitist, I don’t particularly trust any populist philosophy on its face, as populism is often anti-intellectuallism masquerading as some “noble savage” ground-swelling. As presented by your video, liquid democracy has a significant populist component.

I understand your frustration with the Danish system, and I believe you that it has its faults, but the US’s system is closer to the Russian system than you might think. Indeed, for all our posturing, American and Russian culture are not too dissimilar (I and a Russian friend of mine have fun comparing and contrasting our respective backgrounds, and we are often shocked). For instance, both Kennedy and Bush faced charges of voter fraud that were not without substance… but corruption in American politics is deep-rooted and generally not an appropriate conversation topic in polite company, so I will merely say this: whatever your woes up there in your nordic bubble, they do not compare with the clusterfuck that is American politics.

Just because something “should” happen doesn’t mean it will. I think you underestimate the ability of those in power (be it political or economic) to abuse that power… but perhaps that is tempered in a socialistic system. It is also important to keep in mind that taboo is a powerful tool. Many cultures, especially those with strong populist sentiment, harbor an innate distrust of scientists and, by extension, technology. The industrial revolution eradicated feudalism and created the middle class, and what thanks did the scientists get? Luddites burning down the mills! The strongest form of control is not necessarily the most direct one. Look at what religion has done for the past 10,000 years.

Your point about fixing genetic diseases (especially in the case of state-subsidized health care) does seem to be more solidly based in reality, though. And by reality I mean money.

You have quite a collection there…

A Billion Wicked Thoughts is fascinating, definitely pick that up if you haven’t. Also, if you haven’t read Sex at Dawn, that is fascinating as well. Gives us poly people some ammunition when the monogamists start moralizing or telling us it’s “unnatural” :)

And I suppose it’s only fair…


The causes of high g social maladjustment

I’m thinking that the high g social maladjustment is due to loneliness, lack of similar friends and stuff like that. Although it could be a case of ‘direct’ pleiotropy as well (one gene with multiple phenotypic effects).

The trouble with IQ’s as a measure of intelligence is that it is not a ratio scale. So one cannot conclude that a, say, person at 70 IQ is twice as unintelligent as a person of 140, and the other way around with twice as smart. This bothered Jensen who wanted to make psychology a regular hard science (a branch of biology/physiology), so he spent much of his career trying to establish a connection with something that does use a ratio scale: reaction times. It turns out that reaction times are related to g, and in systematic ways. This of course fits with conventional wisdom with the bright people being “quick-witted” as well. Although this technical aspect of intelligence research does not interest me particularly.

I cite: Jensen’s Clocking the mind: Mental Chronometry and Individual Differences (2006), which I read some parts of. It is also discussed at length in Jensen 1998.

But I agree that there is a kind of communication barrier between people of different g levels, but perhaps it is not linear. Suppose there is a barrier between, say, 140 and 100 such that persons that different almost never get along. It seems to me that it doesn’t follow from that, that there must be a similar barrier between ex. 140 and 180.
The cause of such barriers, IMO, is that the normal folks lack academic interests and simply don’t know much about anything academic. This makes conversation difficult. A person of 140 is surely capable of great knowledge of academic interests, although a 180 is without a doubt much better at it. But still, there is a good chance of mutual interests.
Self assessment of intelligence is very difficult. Not just because we are naturally inclined to overrate ourselves (self serving bias, men especially), but it is also known that ‘smart people’ 75 percentile) tend to underestimate themselves in experiments (cf. Dunning-Kruger effect). But we also know that the higher we put the number, the lower is the base rate, which makes it more difficult to have convincing evidence (cf. base rate fallacy). Together with the above, there is a lack of good, high ceiling IQ tests on the web for free. It is also not wise to rely on friend’s judgments as they are also biased (in one’s favor). University grades don’t correlate too well with IQ (0.3ish), so not too useful of a guide either. General achievement in life is also the function of things like motivation, creativity, opportunity and chance. So, difficult to use that too.

But I did take Mensa’s test and got a passing grade. :p I’m not a member though.

I am of course not defining success as earnings. I just picked an example of something that is usually regarded as one measure of success (because people want money), and which there is correlational data about with IQ. I also mentioned patents and STEM publications. In any case, my goals are polymathy (very difficult), and leading the Pirate Party to election in Denmark. Both are going well IMO. I did create a spelling reform proposal that multiple respectful people said nice things about, so I’m pretty proud of that. Especially because it was something I did alone+without help, before entering university, before studying linguistics in a more serious way. I also created an innovative logic system, although much of that work is unpublished sitting on my desktop because I lost interest in it. I think it’s cool and useful for philosophy, but philosophy no longer holds my main interest.
I looked up “success”. Wiktionary just reports “The achievement of one’s aim or goal. [from 16th c.]”. So, being a high earner can be a success, if that was one’s goal. I don’t care too much about money. I tend to donate it. For instance, to Wikipedia, Wikileaks and the like.

Personality and earnings
I checked our suggestion on O and drug usage, well, drinking. It is borne out by what appears to be a decent study. Decent sample size. Higher O does correlate with more drinking. Also as expected higher C correlates negatively with more drinking. Higher N also positively.
Well, more work is needed for path analysis. I didn’t read the study, just checked the statistics.

How come? Anyway, it seems it is. Although it is not so simple as previously thought. The heritability of happiness is also known with some certainly from twin studies and the like. It is usually put in the 50-80% range. Similar to IQ. Height is something like 90%.

I don’t disagree with what you say, but I don’t really know enough about “power” as thought about in sociology to say anything. I read much of the Wikipedia article on power. It has 14 sections for “Theories” the last of which is called “Other theories”. I knew of some of the research though (ultimatum and dictator games), because these are employed in evolutionary psychology in studies of cheater detection.

Meritocracy in the US
I already read that article. :P I read texts from all over the political spectrum. Something about now being narrow minded? :p Being in an information bubble is a bad idea, as it leads to confirmation bias.

Education in Scandinavia
Free education is the best meritocratic system for the reason that it being free maximizes the chances that a poor/bad SES but gifted person gets the best education. It is the best way to have social mobility. According to the equality people (of The Spirit Level fame), social mobility is good. From an intelligence research perspective, it is a good idea because the variance in human abilities is so large, even within families (average sibling IQ difference is 12, compared with 15 in the population).

Liquid democracy
You say you’re not an elitist, but then you say elitist things. :P Actually, I think (hope) that liquid democracy can solve a problem not possible to form with regular representative democracies. It is connected with the thing we were talking about earlier: the communication between different g groups. The idea is that one has a certain range where one can see who is the smartest/best leader. I would explain it, but someone explained it here:
The study is here:

His assumption of complete inability to judge who is a better leader than oneself is without a doubt wrong, but there is truth to the idea that there is a range based on oneself, which doesn’t extend too far rightward. Given that, the results should be somewhat mediocre (to fit with reality). However, if people could delegate votes recursively, one could see a delegation of votes from a person at x level, to someone higher at y, who would delegate it to someone higher at z, and so on for a few delegations. That would enable the vote to go to someone much higher than x could ‘see’. In theory, that should work very well.

I have no idea how well that idea would work in practice. Worth a try?

As for too many dumb people, yes. See e.g. this for depressing reading.

It does have a populist component, if only because there is no way else to get such a system implemented. It will also benefit the current system for other reasons than the above. For instance, the majority of the Danish population supports cannabis legalization, but the politicians are against it. With LD they could vote on it themselves. Similar for e.g. active euthanasia. Might also give other bad results though… As with other large changes, it is too difficult to predict with certainty, and the best way is to try it out. My idea is to get it implemented in some local governments, and then see how it goes. The more near-term goal is to get it implemented in the Danish Pirate Party.