A Question for Bryan
By Arnold Kling
Reader Randall Parker called my attention to Steve Sailer’s post on GRE scores by intended field of study. The scores are on verbal reasoning and math. Generally speaking, if an intended field of study draws people with higher verbal reasoning scores than economics (e.g., philosophy), it draws people with lower math scores, and vice-versa. The only field that is higher on both is physics/astronomy.
Relative to all takers of the exams, economics students score 0.32 standard deviations above average in verbal and 0.82 standard deviations above average in math. Political scientists score .50 standard deviations above average in verbal and .03 standard deviations above average in math. Scores below average tend to come from students in education, social work, and public administration.
OK, so Bryan’s latest book is on stupid voters. One solution is to educate them. But his next to-be-written book, on education, says that education is merely a signal of ability. The data on GRE scores arguably validates that.
In any case, how can you believe on the one hand that education is merely a signal and on the other hand believe that education can produce more rational voters? Won’t people’s rationality as voters (or, more accurately, their willingness to vote in ways that Bryan or I would consider rational) depend on ability alone?