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June 27, 2003

Don't be too smart

The Executioner's I.Q. Test is an article in The New York Times on IQ & the death penalty. Check this out:

For the court majority, and for organizations like the American Association on Mental Retardation, it is clear that mentally retarded people should be exempt from the death penalty because, as a group, they are prone to gullibility and have poor impulse control and limited abstract-reasoning abilities, all of which render them less responsible for their actions -- or at least for their death-penalty crimes.

Does this mean that those in the top 3%, IQs above 130, should be held to a different standard? A higher standard for mitigating circumstances? ;)

Posted by razib at 08:51 PM

What would keep the prisoners from putting wrong answers for items they can solve, hence reducing their IQ score and putting them into mentally retarded territory => safety?

Posted by: Dienekes at June 27, 2003 11:04 PM

From the article, Dienekes:

It has not, as some of its critics predicted, unleashed a flood of farfetched claims. It has not produced flagrant cases of malingering, since in fact it is almost impossible to successfully fake mental retardation, the diagnosis of which involves not only I.Q. scores but documentation of the condition's onset before the age of 18 and assessments of how a person manages day to day, at work, at home and in the community. The person who imagined himself someday staving off execution with a claim of mental retardation would have to have been fiendishly proactive, starting at least in grade school with a purposeful campaign of deflating his test scores and bamboozling his way into special-ed classes. (And would-be fakers who try to flub I.Q. tests as adults don't tend to do it very well; they often make the mistake of answering all the questions wrong, which an actual retarded person rarely does.)

FWIW, I'm not a fan of the death penalty, so anything that keeps people from death row is a good thing, but quite frankly the Supreme Court's logical basis for its decision on this matter was...well, retarded.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at June 27, 2003 11:20 PM

I always wondered. If you answered all the questions in an IQ test randomly, what is the IQ score you would get? A really brain-not-working type of person would behave exactly like that. If one got even less answers than what randomness would predict, then there is a case to be made that he intends to perform bad.

Posted by: Dienekes at June 27, 2003 11:54 PM

And would-be fakers who try to flub I.Q. tests as adults don't tend to do it very well; they often make the mistake of answering all the questions wrong, which an actual retarded person rarely does.

yes, the fakers are too stupid to pretend being retarded on an IQ test ;)

Posted by: razib at June 28, 2003 05:59 AM

If we are going to apply a less severe set of punishments to people who are considered to have a limited ability to respect the rights of others then it makes sense to simultaneously restrict them in terms of what they can do and where they can go. Rights and responsibilities must go hand-in-hand or a rights-based society does not work.

Posted by: Randall Parker at June 28, 2003 11:59 AM

Actually if you have superior intelligence you are held to a higher standard. Certainly if your eyesight is sharper you are required to see better.

In the recent Sam Waksal (Imclone) case his lawyer used the high IQ argument which is that he has already suffered enough because of the publicity, loss of self-esteem, shunning by his
peers, and on and on and . . ..

Posted by: medufo at June 28, 2003 12:28 PM

But, but... IQ scores are merely a patriarchial construct that arbitrarily assign people value according to homosocial norms imposed by the..

Posted by: Döbeln at July 2, 2003 02:13 AM