May 17, 2021
Let's set things straight - intelligence isn't really *all* that matters. The editor seems to have forced a provocative title that even the author doesn't agree with. But intelligence does really matter, and the evidence on this point is overwhelming.
Early on in my study of education, I was enamoured with Carol Dweck's Mindset research, and in all of my growth mindset zeal I couldn't bear to even consider that people might differ in some apparently "fixed" way. However, with time I have had the courage to face this issue; or, more realistically, it has beseiged me enough that I have had to give in.
Intelligence is real, it varies from person to person, and it has a large heritable component. Research on intelligence has continued for well over 100 years, and it has several findings which are very well supported by evidence. The most important finding is the positive manifold, which states that all mental capacities - from vocabulary size to social intelligence to mental rotation to reaction time - are positively correlated with one another. The standard way of explaining this is that they all share a reliance on some general intelligence, or g-factor, in common. IQ tests aim to measure the g-factor.
Another finding is that almost all of the things that one could wish for in a life well-lived also correlate with IQ: health, grades, earnings, and a successful marriage, to name a few. IQ also predicts patience, willingness to cooperate, win-win thinking, and generally being a good citizen. (For many of these, causation has also been shown.) IQ does not merely concern how well you can do a paper-and-pencil test, as many would argue. Due to the positive manifold, it basically concerns everything, which is an only slightly hyperbolic way of putting it.
Intelligence: All That Matters serves as an introduction to intelligence and IQ research, a subject I would like to get into more on the podcast with time. I hope the general topic of IQ research will open your mind as much as it has mine.
Enjoy the episode.