November 03, 2013
Smarter 2 Year Olds Better Liars

Beware smart 2 year olds telling you a story.

As early as two, children who are more developmentally advanced are much better liars.

Modest proposal: anyone who genetically engineers their kids for high IQ should be restricted in the number of genetic variations they add for enhanced tendencies to tell lies and to lie well.

I also think that parents should not be allowed to genetically engineer really smart psychopaths. Though psychopaths can be really efficient CEOs. Perhaps there is a way to genetically engineer safe psychopaths?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 November 03 09:53 AM 

Sam said at November 3, 2013 10:41 PM:

"...Perhaps there is a way to genetically engineer safe psychopaths?..."
I doubt it. The condition being "no empathy". There are psychopaths with morals and codes that do not prey on others or a least not the ones who entrust power to them. Of course that could just be another set of lies from psychopaths. I would assume all of them at some time experiment with parasitic and immoral behavior just to see what they can get away with.

Even if they seem to be on your side who knows when they'll change. The story of Athens’ attempted invasion of Sicily in 415 BCE by Alcibiades brings to mind the utter ruin that psychopaths can create.

It should be noted though that psychopaths not having any fear and many being great motivators of men can sometimes pull off astounding feats. If Alcibiades had not been called back to Athens and subsequently not gone over to the Spartans what would have happened? Alcibiades was a bold and competent commander. Maybe he would have attacked immediately and overwhelmed Syracuse. Would that have meant Greece instead of Rome dominating the Med? What would that have changed? The Greeks had a lot of influence on the Romans maybe not much.

Tom Billings said at November 5, 2013 11:55 AM:

"Though psychopaths can be really efficient CEOs."

Please find a way to ditch this from your world view.

The first study claiming sociopathy/psycopathy was more common among businessmen who moved to the top of corporations was done in the early 1950s, by one Professor Adorno. He sacrificed much to publish his study, 2 years before he published it. He had to resign from the Board of Directors he had a seat on. Which BoD? The Board of Directors of the Italian Communist Party. As a propaganda ploy such studies are interesting objects with which to study the academic world's desire to reconfirm their belief in their own moral superiority every so often.

They have little other value.

Ronald Brak said at November 6, 2013 3:55 PM:

Children who do well on IQ tests and who tend not to lie? That sounds like the description of a lot of children on the autism spectrum. And this is why genetically engineering people for superior performance is going to be so tricky. Alleles associated with good IQ test performance and honesty may also increase the risk of autism. Taking the chance of putting in an allele that is associated with improved IQ test performance can run the risk of getting bad results. It is not really possible to assign one fitness value to an allele. Exactly how handy a particular allele is all depends on the population of other gene alleles that it is working with and these are different for almost everybody. We can work on eliminating genetic problems such as Huntingtons chorea or deletorious double recessives or even gene combinations that are clearly associated with disease, but even these problems can vary in effect according to the population of genes they find themselves in. For example, sickle cell appears to result in more serious health effects among Bantu populations than Arab, Indian, or Senegalese populations. (Note this could possibly be due to environmental effects, we just don't know enough to be certain.) So any attempt to genetically improve people rather than just eliminate known problems is going to involve a lot of educated guessing and be somewhat hit and miss. We could improve our knowledge of how genes interact, but this is difficult. Humans have about 25,000 gene loci and if there are an average of a dozen different alleles for each that makes for a very large number of possible combinations. To work them all out would be like NP hard or whatever is the term computery type people use for that sort of problem. Fortunately we don't need to work them all out before we go dickering around with our genes, but at the moment we cannot be certain just what effect giving a particular allele to future Johnny will result in. We can only go by probability and take the risk that there won't be a bad interaction. The good news is, as genetic engineering of agricultural animals escalates it will give us a good idea of how hit and miss the genetic engineering of people is going to be.

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