There was a fair amount of talk about EQ a few years ago, and there is an increasing amount of discussion of pathological altruism. What is gradually becoming apparent to me is that Western civilization not only requires a base level of intelligence, but also a base level of empathy. Any population group with an average level of either intelligence or empathy that falls below that level is not going to be able to participate in European civilization or sustain a reasonable facsimile on its own.
Christianity certainly helps support the development of empathy in an individual by providing a strong rational justification for it, but it observably does not create it ex nihilo in the human breast. I suspect it would be eucivically useful if there were standard tests for empathy as reliable as those for intelligence.”
I’d like to flesh out my theory of empathy a bit in order to talk about potential for testing.
Race and religion
Here follows the beginning of an idea.
I plagiarize Simon Baron-Cohen’s analysis to break empathy into two necessary but insufficient components: 1) cognitive empathy (mind-reading) and 2) emotional empathy (sympathetic mirroring).
On a societal level, a high level of cognitive empathy leads to a shame culture. Shame is not operative in people without social intelligence. Similarly, a high average emotional empathy leads to a guilt culture. People without the capacity for sympathetic emotional mirroring do not feel guilt. To give two examples, semitic cultures are generally shameless (e.g. You Gentile). East Asian cultures are high-shame but low guilt (e.g. fake crying politicians, two-year-old run over by car and left to die).
Cognitive empathy is probably a trait evolved for social competition (C in CSR). Social intelligence is associated with the ability to avoid social predation by in-group defectors looking to dishonorably extract resources, and the capacity to engage in such predation should one be so inclined. Emotional empathy is probably a trait evolved for altruism in stress tolerator environments (S in CSR). It’s associated with the capacity to view someone else’s interests (and problems) as being emotionally salient, i.e. important for tribal survival. Thus, it’s the source of altruism.
Emotional intelligence in the absence of cognitive intelligence produces *pathological* altruism and neuroticism. High cognitive intelligence in the absence of emotional intelligence produces psychopathy. High cognitive intelligence produces social signaling with precision, speed, and nuance, and the ability to scan such symbolic indicators in order to predict both “signaled” and “true” emotional states. (True vs. signaled: often a person wishes to appear confident when they truly feel anxious, so that their signaling is mixed. A person of low social intelligence may only see one aspect, whereas a person of high social intelligence will see both and deduce which is which.) It is probably best predicted by IQ tests primarily and eye-reading tests secondarily, and therefore does not require the creation of more tests.
Analyzing the IQ correlation a bit further, I expect the perceptual aspect of cognitive empathy (reading another person’s emotional state) to be weighted more with symbolic intelligence, somewhat with verbal intelligence, and not much at all with visuospatial intelligence. I expect the performance aspect (convincing an audience of one’s emotional state) to be weighted toward verbal intelligence, then symbolic intelligence, and again not much with visuospatial intelligence. However I expect there is a weak or medium-strength correlation between visuospatial intelligence and emotional empathy.
On to the task of measuring emotional empathy.
The trouble is that altruism must be treated as a revealed preference, completely unrelated to stated preference. This is because, in the West, conspicuous altruism is a form of peacocking, i.e. a way of signaling wealth and status.
So if it’s going to be tested, it has to be without any suspicion of the participants, which is a particularly difficult task when subjects are in the medium and high ranges of cognitive empathy. I propose that cognitive empathy is more notable by its *absence* in high-ability people.
We can exploit this difference. Overperformance in poker distinguishes cognitive empathy from IQ. One plays the opponent’s cards (CE) and one also plays the odds (IQ). (This can be buttressed with their eye-reading test score.) If we measure empathy by altruistic behaviors (both signaling and actual altruism), then we can subtract the cognitive side to obtain the emotional side. Intuitively speaking, if Full-scale Empathy = Cognitive * Emotional, then Emotional = Full-scale/Cognitive.
It’s going to be effectively impossible to measure a person’s biological disposition to altruistic behavior because it’s related to so many variables, particularly ideology, wealth, and life history. A poor Nietzschean striver is not going to donate much to a charity regardless of his personality, whereas a rich Mormon is likely to make large donations. So, charity can only be sussed out for large groups of subjects, which is fine because we already have social studies that do this with regression analysis.
Anyway, here’s how I’d structure the experiment proper: Hold a Poker tournament, round-robin style. Afterward, players are asked to contribute a portion of their winnings. (Asking the poker players to donate their *time* to charity is much easier to analyze because the disparity in time and wealth between the rich and poor is less obscene.) After this contribution, they are given an eye-reading test and an IQ test. This would take a while (maybe a week) because it’d be exhausting for participants to do all of this in one day. Poker obviously has a skill curve, which could either be obviated using a very large sample size to average out differences (dubious) or more easily and efficiently by appealing to poker enthusiasts who are already in the diminishing returns portion of the skill curve.
That’s all I got for now.