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Review of Hive Mind

January 12, 2016

Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own is quite good, and definitely worth reading. It’s fast paced, clear, concise, and interesting throughout. It deals with controversial topics with honesty, openness, and care. I like Garett Jones’ approach of introducing a problem to be solved, giving the reader a few possible explanations, and going through the evidence for and against each one. I think that’s pretty much the best way to go about doing economics, since no story is ever perfect and it avoids the trap of having a particular hobby horse that you are attached to to the detriment of other explanations. This isn’t an easy topic, and there certainly aren’t easy answers, but Jones doesn’t pretend like their are and it always treats the reader like an adult. The book never lingers and any repetition of the same point is rare and never tedious.

The core mystery the book analyzes is that your nation’s IQ is about six times more important than your own IQ for your income. The book starts by covering what IQ tests mean, how they are performed, empirical problems with past studies and generally summarizing the IQ literature. The book then goes through why it might be the case that group IQs are so important and how group IQs might lead to virtuous cycles. Minimal time is spent on possible policy recommendations, which is probably for the best. Economic models are handled purely in descriptive terms and the book is very accessible to non-economists.

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