Re: Young vs. Old

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Wed Jul 11 2001 - 16:13:37 MDT

Robin Hanson wrote:

> There are two models I had in mind:
> IQ = Year of Birth + Personal factor
> IQ = Current Year + Personal factor
> Both models predict a correlation between year of birth and IQ.
> And both predict the factoid Damien B. cited: "Flynn showed that
> the increasing raw scores appear on every major test, in
> every age range and in every modern industrialized country".
Yes that is what I took you to mean. The first model seems to fit more
naturally with a genetic or in utero explanation for the Flynn effect. I
was assuming in my original post that the first was the correct model. As I
noted, this has some support from the fact of increasing brain volume of
babies each year, coupled with the correlation (about .4) between brain
volume and IQ. Of coure the data here are fuzzy given that we have so few
good longitudinal studies of a person's IQ over a lifetime. And of course
this problem is confounded by the fact that the studies we do have, have
been done during the period which the Flynn effect is in operation.

> > > Yes, but the areas in which the young are the most resistant to the
> > > of the old are the areas where knowledge should transfer the best:
> > > marriage, friends, children, careers, work ethic, institutional
> > reliability,
> > > etc.
> I agree that it is possible in principle for the world to change so fast
> that the knowledge of the old is irrelevant. I just don't believe that we
> live in such a world.
My position is not that the knowledge of the old is irrelevant. The original
post lamented that the young do not listen to the advice of the old. In
response you wrote:
"If people on average learn things as they grow older, older people will on
know more than younger people."I responded with the observation that even if
we grant the relationship between age and knowledge which you suggest, the
fact that the young do not listen to the old _might_ be justified by the
fact that the value of older people's knowledge might not on average be
greater than that of the young. It would be sufficient to make this the case
that _some_ of the knowledge of the old is irrelevant, or that the value of
old folks knowledge (on average) is less valued because they lack knowledge
of some key recent developments--e.g., marriage couseling services or the
possibility of joint custody of kids, etc.

> >... Perhaps you'll agree that these are ultimately empirical questions.
> Of course, since it is logically possible that you are right,
> I must remain open to being show so empirically.
Sorry, I should have formulated this more carefully. What I meant is that I
do not think that the empirical evidence so overwhelmingly favors one view
or the other such that it can be decided in an armchair.
    You suggested that the young might solicit advice from the old in the
following areas:
"love, marriage, friends, children, careers, work ethic, institutional
I just conducted a well-controled superscientific study which involved
thinking about who among my personal acquaintances I would seek advice from
about each of these areas. I forced myself to come up with a different name
in each case. The average age of the seven individuals I have in mind is 47.
If my results are typical then the value of one's knowledge might peak well
before one's total knowledge peaks. But then again, I could be wrong.

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