The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson

Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Cognitive Abilities and the Value of a Human Being

In this article when I speak of cognition abilities and human value I do so in the following sense:

  • Cognition – The psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning
  • Human Value – the ability to be a productive and contributing member of society in a moral and ethical manner

Cognitive people do not necessarily have more human values, just as high-value people are not necessarily more cognitive. Indeed, some very high cognitive people lack human values (con artists and computer scammers come to mind). And I personally know many people that are not high cognitively but are very good people (this describes my mother’s family quite well). It is when you are combining the cognition abilities and value of a person that you can determine the subjective worth of a person. But every person has worth, and every person has human rights. You must always keep this in mind when dealing with anybody or dealing with societal issues and concerns. When you implement a solution to a societal problem the solution cannot violate the human rights of a person nor the self-worth of a person, as it would be an immoral solution having no cogency nor should it have any legal force.

I lead with these thoughts as I am about to touch upon a subject that is very controversial and wrought with emotional repercussions. I will try to state my thoughts in an intelligent, reasonable, and impassionate manner so as to illuminate and clarify this issue. These thoughts are not to disparage any person or groups of persons, especially upon racial, ethnicity, sexual, religious, etc. lines.

The problem that I wish to discuss is that in the mechanized and technological advanced 21st century the workforce needs to have minimal cognitive abilities and human values to function in this environment. Without these minimal capabilities and values, they are virtually unemployable and therefore cannot contribute to society. But they are human beings and must be treated humanely. The question is how we determine who does not have these cognitive abilities nor human values, and then what our responsibility as a society is to these people.

This is a problem in the 21st century because in the past low cognitive people could be contributing members of society by performing unskilled labor. Unskilled labor such as manual farming tasks, manual construction tasks, manual mining tasks, manual warehouse stocking or loading/unloading materials from ships, boats, railcars, trucks, and cargo airplanes. There were many other manual labor jobs that did not require much cognitive abilities. The people who performed these jobs were contributing members of society and could often support themselves and their family at a minimal level. But with the mechanization of labor-saving devices and the technological control of the mechanization of modern labor-saving devices, the need for much-unskilled labor has disappeared. To operate this mechanized equipment requires a higher cognitive ability than the previous unskilled laborers had. But we still have people with low cognitive abilities. Where and what is their place in 21st-century society?

The first problem is to identify who the lower cognitive people are, and then where they are located. Identifying who the people are is not difficult scientifically. We have a scientific test to identify cognitive abilities – The IQ Test. I know that there are issues with IQ tests, but many of these issues have been, and continue to be, overcome. Today’s IQ tests are much more accurate and unbiased than the previous decades of IQ tests. In the Social Sciences, the IQ test is considered to be the only accurate scientific testing for social characteristics by a factor of three to any other scientific social sciences testing. Therefore, IQ Tests are the only reliable means to test for cognitive abilities in an individual.

In the past, the U.S. Armed Forces have determined that anyone with an IQ of less than 83 could not be inducted as it was impossible to train them to do any productive task and they were often counter-productive when they performed tasks. The U.S. Armed Forces have been testing IQ (by other names) and performance of individuals since 1919. Recently, however, many social scientists involved in IQ testing have determined that anyone with an IQ of less than 90 has a very difficult time with reading simple instructions and then translating the instructions into actions. In the 21st century, this ability to read and translate instructions is critical to performing a productive job. Therefore, we can conclude that an IQ of less than 90 makes you virtually unemployable.

The disconcerting fact is that it is estimated that 15%  of people in the United States have an IQ of less than 90. This means that in a population of 330 million people 50 million people are virtually unemployable. This is a huge number of unemployable people that need to be dealt with in some manner. The societal question is how are we to deal with lower cognitive people? Lower cognitive people need the basics of food, clothing, and shelter, as well as being able to take care of themselves with modern technological appliances and conveniences. They also need a sense of worthiness in being members of our society. Without this sense of worthiness, they may become anti-social and destructive to society.

The answer is not providing them with money, as in many cases they are incapable of making a monetary decision that is in their best interests. Rather than using the money on their basic needs they may squander it on unneeded or unnecessary items. They may need guidance on how to best utilize the money but are often unaccepting of this guidance as often they resent the guidance as it makes them feel demeaned.

There is also the issue that millions of these less cognitive people are children in our public education system. Children that do not have the cognitive abilities to be educated much beyond the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Practically all these children are placed in classrooms with more cognitive children. They often require more of a teacher’s time and efforts to educate, which detracts from the time and effort the teacher can spend on the other more cognitive students. The higher cognitive students may become bored or disruptive due to this situation, and not be educated to their full capabilities. And if you spend less time and effort on the lower cognitive students, they may also become bored and disruptive as well as not being educated to their full potential. There is also a point in the education of a less cognitive student where there is no more education that can be gained, but they are sitting in the classroom being bored and probably disruptive to the other students. Given that most advancement in the public education system is time spent in the classroom, rather than achievement in the classroom, these less cognitive students are pushed along throughout the K-12 public education system and graduate with very little useful education. Is it any wonder that we have a crisis in our Public Education system as I have remarked on this subject in my observation “Public Schools”? We need to start teaching our students to the level of their cognitive abilities, with other students on the same level of cognitive abilities, so that all students are educated to their full capabilities.

I have no answers on how we can deal with lower cognitive people. I only know that we need to recognize this problem and find some means to alleviate this problem.

For more information on this topic I would suggest that you review the article "Jordan Peterson Video: ‘Intelligence As Speed In The Race Of Life’ And Other Ideas." and look at the video posted on this website. For now, the chart utilized in this video to dramatize this problem is as follows: