Genius and Y chromosomes.

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Tue, 07 Jan 1997 00:02:40 -0600

Dr. Hugo de Garis:
In your article, you make the interesting note that boys outnumber
girls 14 to 1 at SAT scores 700 and above.

Allow me to introduce myself. I took the SAT at age 11, in seventh
grade. I scored a 670 Verbal, and 740 Math. I came in second. For the
entire eight-state Midwest region. To be more specific, the 670 was
2nd, the 740 was 3rd, and the 1410 was 2nd.

I'm a girl.

Ha ha, just kidding - about the girl part, at least, though the SAT
scores are simple and unvarnished fact. But anyway:

Since apparently you regard SAT scores as measuring "genius", and
speaking as one of your "geniuses" who cannot be matched by any mere
female, let me speak frankly. Dr. de Garis, you are a raving lunatic
with no more chance of matching my SAT scores than you have of flying,
regardless of how many Y chromosomes you happen to be born with. For
somebody working in Artificial Intelligence, you seem to be completely
unaquainted with the methodology of cognitive science. Anecdotes do not
constitute adequate evidence for consigning half the human race to
mental oblivion; you, on the other hand...

Speaking as one of the very few people who know the sub-module of
intelligence that the SAT *actually* measures, I know of no reason
whatsoever why causal analysis should be a sex-linked trait. If
anything, females - living more frustrating lives thanks to the likes of
you - should actually do *better* on the SAT.

Why don't they? I am reminded of an anecdote:

Physics teacher: "Why is this metal plate hottest on the side farthest
from the heat source?"
Student: "Ehrm, because of the convection and such?"
Teacher: "No, because I just turned it around."

In other words, I'd like to see some factual evidence before I start
rationalizing. Even if the ratios you cite are correct, it seems
perfectly plausible to me that in this still-prejudiced society, 14
times as many exceptional boys as girls are *recognized* and

Madame Curie could eat you for breakfast and so could I. Don't presume
to compare us, statistically, theoretically, or at all, until you can at
least do it in a methodologically acceptable fashion. The only remotely
interesting argument on the entire page was your speculation about
greater variance in males due to recessive X genes not being masked by
another X gene.

I resent being part of the statistics with which you casually dismiss an
estimated 3 x 10^20 neurons that it would take you until Doomsday even
to count. Your Neanderthal attitude towards the female of the species
is deeply offensive to me. So is your total lack of self-knowledge in
evolutionary terms. As a young teenager, you channeled the
rebelliousness designed to overthrow the current ruler of the tribe into
feminism. As an elder whose best evolutionary strategy lies in
supporting the current ruler, you are a masculinist. Either way, the
horrid odor of self-righteousness wafts up as you write your smug way to

There are others out there, ones who know how to use both apostrophes
and rational arguments, arguing with the controlled experimental studies
that are the language of science. Some of them have established that
average XXs are better at mentally rotating objects while average XYs
are better at verbal skills. And that is the *only* gender-based
intelligence result that I have ever even heard of; I defy you to name a
single female scientist - much less a majority - who now "just accept
the idea of an inherent male genetically based superiority" on the basis
of their results.

I confess that I don't care, and certainly none of this is remotely
relevant to the issue of the genius which obeys its own laws. Speaking
as a "genius" who knows *exactly* and *precisely*, in neurological and
cognitive terms, what makes me a "genius", I can say that I don't see
any reason why lightning wouldn't strike girls as often as boys.

You don't often see women at conferences, you say? (It came as no
surprise whatsoever that you later applied exactly the same argument to
blacks.) I wonder what the average *age* of the speakers at conferences
are? I wonder how many XXs try to enter into Ph.D. programs... how many
of them are driven out by people like you... and how many are subtly
weeded out by male-designed tests.

Let me share a secret with you. A test designed by *any*
socio-political-economic group, any group whatsoever, will weed out all
those not of that group. If the poor designed tests, they would weed
out the rich. It would come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever to
find that the 14:1 SAT ratios you cite are being achieved on an SAT
designed by a committee with 14 male members and 1 female member... or
certainly one with a male committee chairman.

It's all very well to place oneself at the apex of a hierarchy you
design... until you wind up at the bottom of someone else's hierarchy.
I am a member of an SAT-scoring group which damn well certainly excludes
you, regardless of how many females happen to be in it. I've decided to
form a club of geniuses. You, of course, are not invited. It's not in
your genetic destiny. You'll never match a *real* genius, because I
don't recall any *real* geniuses (think of exclusionary criteria...)
with a Japanese email address! Yes, virtually every invention I've ever
heard of was designed by an American, and no genius *I've* ever heard of
was Japanese. In fact, although I happen to be making this statistic
up, only 1 out of 14 top SAT scorers, in the Midwest, are Japanese.

And, now that we've established my little ruling class, let's figure out
what to do with you. Now, when I was young, I used to believe that
"non-geniuses" like you could be rehabilitated to my own cultural
standards, although of course I regarded you with contempt because I
could simulate your complete moral belief systems with 300 lines of

Now that I'm a grizzled elder I've come to realize that that my own
cultural standard is not merely superior but inherently exclusive;
others don't join not because they're ungrateful or foolish or envious,
they're simply not capable of meeting my standards. So rather than
being given an opportunity to join me in my self-evident superiority,
you will be allowed to graciously sink to your natural level as a

And of course, it goes without saying that no genius has ever carried
the title of "Hugo de Garis", and only an infinitesimal fraction of the
top SAT scorers. It's fate.

So... how do you like it, down on the bottom to which your way of
thinking must inevitably condemn itself? There's always someone
smarter, faster, stronger. "Might makes right" sounds fine and true,
with "only my tribe is mighty" even more so, until someone like me
happens along and squishes you like a bug. You simply happen to be
lucky that at my level of intelligence, the folly of Nazidom is
obvious. Otherwise, you *would* wind up as a janitor. Are you willing
to continue in your folly when *you* are at the bottom?

Scientifically, ethically, and cognitively correct,
Superior to you in every way,
(At least by your standards),
I am,
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky.

Oh, and a postscript: XXs are better at verbal skills, XYs are better
at mental rotation, and not the opposite as was claimed above. Out of
curiosity, how far did you get in rationalizing why mental rotation
wasn't important compared to verbal skills?

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.