The Wages of Dim

It’s hard to find good help.

I have a housekeeper ‘cos I’m heaps rich and that (so long as I never return to Australia or any other civilized country).

I ran into a minor problem.

She didn’t cook me dinner tonight because she didn’t have enough money to buy ingredients.

You dickhead, my reader thinks despite his best efforts at generosity of spirit towards his frequently irritating narrator. Why didn’t you give her some money?

Well, because she didn’t say she needed any. I gave her some cash up front at the start of the month in anticipation of just this situation. If she needed more, she might have mentioned it to me. A suitable time might have been when we were talking two days ago. But no, just giving up on any possibility of a solution and not cooking dinner seemed the path of least resistance.

It’s not the dinner I’m concerned about. I whipped up some rather decent chili egg rolls in about ten minutes. Rather, the ongoing stubbornness and inability to solve minor problems is frustrating.  We had discussed this issue a couple of weeks ago and the solution I suggested, based on how other people arrange things, she dismissed out of hand. I suspect that this problem will continue until I either leave the country or find a new cook. Negotiation and rational discussion are not helping.

The average IQ of this country is higher than the African average but a standard deviation lower than Australia’s. Now, where the anti-scientific left falls down is right here because they pretend not to understand what average means.  They will argue that they have this black friend who’s really smart.  There are plenty of locals in this country who are far brighter than I am (yes, that bar is low) but henceforth we are talking about the mean.  There, I linked it, so let’s have none of your innumerate rubbish in the comments.

Anyway, it’s frustrating enough living in a country like Australia where I am of average intelligence: half of the population is even dumber than I am and a quarter of them significantly so. I have to rub shoulders with these people every time I try to complete the simplest task at the post office.

In a nation where the average IQ is below mine, frustration and annoyance are common.

If you haven’t been to the third world you’re probably imagining dribbling retards staggering along dusty streets, bumping into each other as they go and occasionally grunting, ‘Carn the Pies!”* But it isn’t like that at all.

Plenty of people are canny enough to run a successful business. You don’t need calculus to keep simple accounts, make coffee and have a friendly chat with customers. Plenty of 90-odd IQ people manage this around the world, and talking to them you’d never suspect they don’t know what a dependent variable is or who Marc Antony was. They get by just fine without such refinements.

Unless people are reeeeeeally dumb (lower than 70 perhaps?), their lack of brainpower is not immediately obvious. It’s only in advanced, highly educated and specialized societies that high levels of raw IQ become so crucial. In a nation where there are few professional career opportunities anyway, it doesn’t matter so much. Some common sense and the ability to get along with others and stay out of trouble are plenty. I bear no malice nor do I have a superiority complex with regards to such people. They work hard, do their jobs well and are pleasant to be around. Good on them, one and all.

The third world starts to drag when you need to deal with the lower end of the average. If the average is 100, the duller quarter might be around 85 and might get flummoxed and mix up your order at Maccas. If the average is 90, the lowest quartile might be unable to read the instructions on a packet of antibiotics. Or remember to ask for money to buy ingredients.

Most services one needs on a day-to-day basis are fairly simple. Coffee, food, a taxi – with patience and good humour you can figure it out. Third world frustration hits hardest when one comes into contact with the more cognitively demanding functions of the government.

La Griffe suggests that a country may need an average IQ of around 90 in order to function as a modern state (oversimplification, read it for yourself). With this average, there will hopefully be enough IQ 110ish people to competently govern. They will comprehend basic economics, even if they just blindly copy Singapore’s policies. Because you could do a lot worse than that. They can set up a functional police force, build infrastructure and manage resource exports without plunging into absurd levels of corruption. At the lower end of this category we might have countries like Thailand and Turkey. Not neo-Japans, but doing okay. The best of luck to them in their endeavors.

I fear this country is just slightly too dumb to function well. There are reasons why this might be wrong – the well-educated, urban elite who have largely escaped actually do pretty well abroad, but the rural, donkey-slapping majority dampen the average quite a bit.

We see evidence of this dimness in many policies. Just a couple for you: it is illegal to take the local currency out of the country. What if you were just going to buy some duty-free goods upstairs in the airport? Too bad, they’ll confiscate your boarding pass and make you face trial anyway. All over a couple hundred dollars worth of cash. And another: bread is subsidized so you need a permit to buy it. Wait, we’re not at the dumb bit yet. I mean the very dumb bit. So, foreigners aren’t allowed to get a permit because they’re rich and shouldn’t be getting stuff subsidized by the government. That almost makes sense except for one thing – foreigners can’t buy bread at the market rate, either. Yes, in this country, it is illegal for foreigners to buy bread. Read that last sentence as many times as you like, it’s not going to make any more sense than it did the first time.

But yes, I had some rolls for dinner. Where there’s a will and all that.

Finally, IQ is not everything. Stubbornness is another factor here, and inflexibility of thinking, and xenophobia (an overused word which I employ carefully and correctly in this context). Small-mindedness. Meanness.  But mostly stubbornness. I am sure that there is a complex and dynamic relationship between all these psychological factors, genes and environment but I can’t be bothered pondering or investigating it any more.

For me, this is just a country I’ll spend a few years in and then leave once I’m a bit richer. I intend to have some fun and learn new things while I’m here. As for the country itself, I don’t have strong opinions on its future. One should look after one’s own country and let foreigners manage their affairs as they see fit.


*Yes, my most obscure reference yet.


  1. dickycone · January 22, 2018

    If I’ve guessed correctly what country you’re in, the average IQ is actually higher than the low-end Central American country where I live, at least if is correct. I mostly notice the low IQ here in the obsession with fireworks. They shoot them off almost every day and at any hour, often at annoying times like 4:00am. Not just regular fireworks either, often M-80s and supposedly even small sticks of dynamite (I believe that because the walls of my house shake and I can feel the shock waves through the windows sometimes…it feels like you’re being shelled). Don’t get me wrong, fireworks can be fun once in a while, but I think it takes an IQ close to the retard range to not get bored with them day in and day out.


  2. Adam · January 23, 2018

    Stubbornness combined with lack of initiative. That is what really got to me.


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