The Vietnam War can be said to be the only war that America has lost. Due to a lack of men volunteering for combat (and a large number of young men getting exemptions from service from their doctors and many other ways), standards were lowered in order to meet quotas. They recruited those with low test scores who came to be known as ‘McNamara’s Morons’—a group of 357,000 or so men. With ‘mental standards’ now lower, the US now had men to fight in the war.
This decision was made by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Lyndon B. Johnson. This came to be known as ‘McNamara’s Folly’—the title of a book on the subject (Hamilton, 2015). Hamilton (2015: 10) writes: “A total of 5,478 low-IQ men died will in the service, most of them in combat. Their fatality rate was three times as high as that of other GIs. An estimated 20,270 were wounded, and some were permanently disabled (including an estimated 500 amputees).”
Hamilton spends the first part of the book describing his friendship with a man named Johnny Gupton who could neither read nor write. He spoke like a hillbilly and used hillbilly phrasing. According to Hamilton (2010: 14):
I was surprised that he knew nothing about the situation he was in. He didn’t understand what basic training was all about, and he didn’t know that America was in a war. I tried to explain what was happening, but at the end, I could tell that he was still in a fog.
Hamilton describes an instance in which they were told that on their postcards they were to send home, they should not write anything “raunchy” like the sergeant said “Don’t be like that trainee who went through here and wrote ‘Dear Darlene. This is to inform you that Sugar Dick has arrived safely…’” (Hamilton, 2015: 16). Hamilton went on to write that Gupton did not ‘get’ the joke while “There was a roar of laughter” from everyone else. Gupton’s postcard, since he could not read or write, was written by Hamilton but he did not know his address; he could not state the name of a family member, only stating “Granny” while not able to state her full name. He could not tie his boots correctly, so Hamilton did it for him every morning. But he was a great boot-shiner, having the shiniest boots in the barracks.
Writing home to his fiancee, Hamilton (2015: 18) wrote to her that Gupton’s dogtags “provide him with endless fascination.”
Gupton had trouble distinguishing between left and right, which prevented him from marching in step (“left, right, left, right”) and knowing which way to turn for commands like “left face!” and “right flank march!” So Sergeant Boone tied an old shoelace around Gupton’s right wrist to help him remember which side of his body was the right side, and he placed a rubber band on the left wrist to denote the left side of the body. The shoelace and the rubberband helped, but Gupton was a but slow in responding. For example, he learned how to execute “left face” and “right face,” but he was a fraction of a second behind everyone else.
Gupton was also not able to make his bunk to Army standards, so Hamilton and another soldier did it for him. Hamilton stated that Gupton could also not distinguish between sergeants and officers. “Someone in the barracks discovered that Gupton thought a nickel was more valuable than a dime because it was bigger in size” (Hamilton, 2015: 26). So after that, Hamilton took Gupton’s money and rationed it out to him.
Hamilton then describes a time where he was asked by a Captain what they were doing and the situation they were in—to which he gave the correct responses. A Captain then asked Gupton “Which rank is higher, a captain or a general?” to which Gupton responded, “I don’t know, Drill Sergeant.” (He was supposed to say ‘Sir.’) The captain talking to Hamilton then said:
Can you believe this idiot we drafted? I tell you who else is an idiot. Fuckin’ Robert McNamara. How can he expect us to win a war if we draft these morons? (Hamilton, 2015: 27)
Captain Bosch’s contemptuous remark about Defense Secretary McNamara was typical of the comments I often heard from career Army men, who detested McNamara’s lowering of enlistment standards in order to bring low-IQ men into the ranks. (Hamilton, 2015: 28)
Hamilton heard one sergeant tell others that “Gupton should absolutely never be allowed to handle loaded weapons on his own” (Hamilton, 2015: 41). Gupton was then sent to kitchen duty where, for 16 hours (5 am to 9 pm), they would have to peel potatoes, clean the floors, do the dishes etc.
Hamilton (2015: 45) then describes another member of “The Muck Squad” but in a different platoon who “was unfazed by the dictatorial authority of his superiors.” When an officer screamed at him for not speaking or acting correctly he would then give a slightly related answer. When asked if he had shaved one morning, he “replied with a rambling of pronouncements about body odor and his belief that the sergeants were stealing his soap and shaving cream” (Hamilton, 2015: 45). He was thought to be faking insanity but he kept getting weirder; Hamilton was told that he would talk to an imaginary person in his bunk at night.
Murdoch was then told to find an electric floor buffer to buff the floors and he “wandered around in battalion headquarters until he found the biggest office, which belonged to the battalion commander. He walked in without knocking or saluting or seeking permission to speak, and asked the commander—a lieutenant colonel—for a buffer“. When in the office, he “proceeded to play with a miniature cannon and other memorabilia on the commander’s desk…” (Hamilton, 2015: 45). Murdoch was then found to have schizophrenia and was sent on home medical discharge.
Right before their tests of physical fitness to see if they qualified, young-looking sergeants shaved their heads and did the tests for them—Gupton got a 95 while Hamilton got an 80, which upset Hamilton because he knew he could have scored 100.
Hamilton ended up nearly getting heatstroke (with a 105-degree fever) and so he was separated from Gupton. He eventually ended up contacting someone who had spent time with Gupton. He did not “remember much about Gupton except that he was protected by a friendly sergeant, who had grown up with a “mentally handicapped” sister and was sensitive to his plight” (Hamilton, 2015: 51). Gupton was only given menial jobs by this sergeant. Hamilton discovered that Gupton had died at age 57 in 2002.
Hamilton then got sent to Special Training Company because while he was out with his fever he missed important days so his captain sent him to the Company to get “rehabilitation” before returning to another training company. They had to do log drills and a Physical Combat Proficiency Test, which most men failed. You needed 60 points per event to pass. The first event was crawling on dirt as fast as possible for 40 yards on your hands and knees. “Most of the men failed to get any points at all because they were disqualified for getting up on their knees. They had trouble grasping the concept of keeping their trunks against the ground and moving forward like supple lizards” (Hamilton, 2015: 59).
The second event was the horizontal ladder—imagine a jungle gym. Think of swinging like an ape through the trees. Hamilton, though as he admits not being strong, traversed 36 rungs in under a minute for the full 60 points. When he attempted to show them how to do it and watch them try, “none of the men were able to translate the idea into action” * (Hamilton, 2015: 60).
The third event was called run, dodge, and jump. They had to zig-zag, dodge obstacles, and side-step people and finally jump over a shallow ditch. To get the 60 points they had to make 2 trips in 25 seconds.
Some of the Special Training men were befuddled by one aspect of the course: the wooden obstacles had directional arros, and if you failed to go in the right direction, you were disqualified. A person of normal intelligence would observe the arrows ahead of time and run in the right direction without pausing or breaking stride. But these men would hesitate in order to study the arros and think about which way to go. For each second they paused, they lost 10 points. A few more men were unable to jump across the ditch, so they were disqualified. (Hamilton, 2015: 60-61)
Fourth was the grenade throw. They had to throw 5 training grenades 90 feet with scoring similar to that of a dartboard where the closer you are to the bull’s eye, the higher your score. They had to throw it from one knee in order to simulate battle conditions, but “Most of the Special Training men were too weak or uncoordinated to come close to the target, so they got a zero” * (Hamilton, 2015: 61). Most of them tried throwing it in a straight line like a baseball catcher rather than an arc like a center fielder to a catcher trying to throw someone out at home plate. “…the men couldn’t understand what he was driving at, or else they couldn’t translate it into action. Their throws were pathetic little trajectories” (Hamilton, 2015: 62).
Fifth was the mile-run—they had to do it in eight minutes and 33 seconds but they had to have their combat boots on. The other men in his group would immediately sprint, tiring themselves outs, they could not—according to Hamilton—“grasp or apply what the sergeants told them about the need to maintain a steady pace (not too slow, not too fast) throughout the entire mile.”
Hamilton then discusses another instance in which sergeants told a soldier that there was a cat behind the garbage can and to pick up a cat. But the cat turned out to be a skunk and he spent the next two weeks in the hospital getting treated for possible rabies. “He had no idea that the sergeants had played a trick on him.”
It was true that most of us were unimpressive physical specimens—overweight or scrawny or just plain unhealthy-looking, with unappealing faces and awkward ways of walking and running.
Sometimes trainees from other companiees, riding by in trucks, would hoot at us and shout “morons!” and “dummies!” Once, when a platoon marched by, the sergeant led the men in singing,
If I had a low IQ,
I’d be Special Training, too!
(It was sung to the tune of the famous Jody songs, as in “Ain’t no use goin’ home/Jody’s got your girls and gone.”)
Hamilton states that there was “One exception to the general unattractiveness” who “was Freddie Hensley.” He was consumed with “dread and anxiety”, always sighing. Freddie ended up being too slow to pass the rifle test with moving targets. Hamilton had wondered “why Freddie had been chosen to take the rifle test, but it soon dawned on me that he was selected because he was a handsome young man. Many people equate good looks with competence, and ugliness with incompetence. Freddie didn’t look like a dim bulb” (Hamilton, 2015: 72).
Freddy also didn’t know some ‘basic facts’ such as thunder precedes lightining. “As Freddy and I sat together on foot lockers and looked out the window, I passed the time by trying to figure out how close the lightning was. … I tried to explain what I was doing, and I was not surprised that Freddy could not comprehend. What was surprising was my discovery that Freddy did not know that lightning caused thunder. He knew what lightning was, he knew what thunder was, but he did not know that one caused the other” (Hamilton, 2015: 72).
The test used while the US was in Vietnam was the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualifying Test) (Maier, 1993: 1). As Maier (1993: 3) notes—as does Hamilton—men who chose to enlist could choose their occupation from a list whereas those who were forced had their occupation chosen for them.
For example, during the Vietnam period, the minimum selection standards were so low that many recruits were not qualified for any specialty, or the specialties for which they were qualified had already been filled by people with higher aptitude scores. These people, called no-equals, were rejected by the algorithm and had to be assigned by hand. Typically they were assigned as infantrymen, cooks, or stevedores. Maier (1993: 4)
Most of McNamara’s Morons
came from economically unstable homes with non-traditional family structures. 70% came from low-income backgrounds, and 60% came from singleparent families. Over 80% were high school dropouts, 40% read below a sixth grade level, and 15% read below a fourth grade level. 50% had IQs of less than 85. (Hsiao, 1989: 16-17)
Such tests were constructed from their very beginnings, though, to get this result.
… the tests’ very lack of effect on the placement of [army] personnel provides the clue to their use. The tests were used to justify, not alter, the army’s traditional personnel policy, which called for the selection of officers from among relatively affluent whites and the assignment of white of lower socioeconomic status go lower-status roles and African-Americans at the bottom rung. (Mensh and Mensh 1991: 31)
Reading through this book, the individuals that Hamilton describes clearly had learning disabilities. We do not need IQ tests to identify such individuals who clearly suffer from learning disabilities and other abnormalities (Sigel, 1989). Jordan Peterson claims that the military won’t accept people with IQs below 83, while Gottfredson states that
IQ 85 is a second important minimum threshold because the U.S. military sets its minimum enlistment standards at about this level. (2004, 28)
The laws in some countries, such as the United States, do not allow individuals with IQs below 80 to serve in the military because they lack adequate trainability. (2004, 18)
What “laws” do we have here in America ***specifically*** to disallow “individuals with IQs below 80 to serve in the military”? ** Where are the references? Why do Peterson and Gottfredson both make unevidenced claims when the claim in question most definitely needs a reference?
McNamara’s Folly is a good book; it shows why we should not let people with learning/physical/mental disabilities into the war. However, from the descriptions Hamilton gave, we did not need to learn their IQ to know that they could not be soldiers. It was clear as day that they weren’t all there, and their IQ score is irrelevant to that. The people described in the book clearly have developmental disabilities; how is IQ causal in this regard? IQ is an outcome, not a cause (Howe, 1997).
Both Jordan Peterson and Linda Gottfredson claim that the military will not hire a recruit with an IQ score of 80 or below; but they both just make a claim and attempting to validate the claim by searching through military papers does not validate the claim. In any case, IQ scores are not needed to learn that an individual has a learning disability (like how those described in the book clearly had). The unevidenced claims from Gottfredson and Peterson should not be accepted. In any case, one’s IQ is not causal in regard to their inability to, say, become a soldier as other factors are important, not a reified number we call ‘IQ.’ Their IQ scores were not their downfalls.
* Note that if one does not have a good mind-muscle connection then they won’t be able to carry-out novel tasks such as what they went through on the monkey bars.
1/20/2020 Edit ** I did not look hard enough for a reference for the claims. It appears that there is indeed a law (10 USC Sec. 520) that states that those that get between 1 and 9 questions right (category V) are not trainable recruits. The ASVAB is not not a measure of ‘general intelligence’, but is a measure of “acculturated learning” (Roberts et al, 2000). The ‘IQ test’ used in Murray and Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve was the AFQT, and it “best indicates poverty” (Palmer, 2018). This letter relates AFQT scores to the Weschler and Stanford-Binet—where the cut-off is 71 for the S-B and 80 for Weschler (both are category V). Returning to Mensh and Mensh (1991), such tests were—from their very beginnings—used to justify the current military order, having lower-class recruits in more menial jobs.
“Law prohibits applicants in Category V from enlisting. 10 USC Sec. 520” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armed_Services_Vocational_Aptitude_Battery#Armed_Forces_Qualification_Test
Category V is below the 10th percentile, which is an IQ of 80.
What about IQ testing for the Commander in Chief?
The military really, really places a huge amount of emphasis on the AFQT cognitive test, which correlates closely with IQ tests.
For example, much of “The Bell Curve” is based on the 1980 renorming of the AFQT using the nationally representative National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979 cohort after the Pentagon broke the AFQT scoring norms in 1976 and started admitting volunteers who wouldn’t have gotten in previously. Senator Sam Nunn kept asking Pentagon officials why drill instructors kept telling him there was something wrong with the new recruits and they kept telling him their Science proved him wrong, until they admitted the test scoring system was fouled up.
So the military redid the AFQT scoring in 1980 and the head psychometrician of one of the major branches of the military gave the results to Herrnstein and Murray for use in “The Bell Curve.”
steve sailer is so dumb he thinks charles murray is a serious person.
rr is such a ridiculous person he still has pictures of murray, densen, and gottfredjew on his blog. all of these people are retarded pieces of shit who need to be flushed stat.
Very interesting. There are clearly many levels of intelligence that are partially cut off from each other.
Their mental disabilities are why they score low on IQ tests and subsequently why they are not good soldiers.
So because learning disability and low IQ are near synonymous then it is correct to say that low IQ is the cause of failure for the particular examples.
Nice try buddy.
Ok, that has nothing to do with what I said.
IQ tests are more accurate than personal anecdotes. It’s just that evaluative anecdotes have the luxury of longitudinal data. Like with teacher assessment of student intelligence.
What’s funny is that your quote is akin to denouncing the usefulness of thermometers since I can tell how hot something is by simply touching it.
Yes it is related to what you said.
Thermometers and “IQ” tests are two different things—in any case (for this specific example), the AFQT is not a measure of ‘g’ but of acculturated learning (I will edit this article with a reference).
Not at all. You stated: “In any case, one’s IQ is not causal in regard to their inability to, say, become a soldier”
I was correcting that statement and it was not in reference to whether you thought personal anecdotes trumped IQ tests but instead to whether IQ is can be considered causal in this instance.
Two different lines of thought and arguments.
They’re not as different as I’m sure you’d like to believe but either way the analogy stands.
I thought all IQ tests were measurements of a cultured learning? Why are you now suddenly trying to make this distinction?
Because I believe IQ is an outcome, not a cause.
They are, specifically—as I will edit my article soon to reflect—the AFQT is not a measure of ‘g’, but of acculturated learning.
Yeah and outcomes can be the causes of other outcomes. They’re not distinct concepts.
What I’m asking is what does this distinction on what the AFQT measures prove or refute in reference to my reply on personal anecdotes vs actual measurements?
What is the definition of ‘IQ test’? Can any test be an IQ test if it’s standardized with an SD of 15, normalized at 100? What could the outcome be another outcome of? Is IQ an outcome or a cause?
If it were an ‘IQ test’, would it not be a measure of ‘g’? Yes, all standardized tests measure acculturation; the point is, the ‘g factor’ isn’t found when doing FA—that the AFQT correlates at around .8 with IQ tests (WAIS, S-B if I recall correctly) means that, as I noted in previous articles, they are constructing these tests consciously to get these results. Since the AFQT outcomes are related to poverty, and as Hamilton notes, those recruits came from impoverished backgrounds, then…?
IQ can be both an outcome and a cause. Outcomes and causes aren’t distinct concepts. Or more specifically the effect or outcome of one cause can become the cause of other effects and this can repeat ad infinium. You know, like distal and proximate causes.
I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say here. In fact it’s pretty impossible to keep any predictive validity like the correlation of .8 you just cited if there is no g factor found during FA.
In relation, have you seen modern heresy’s new critique on ken Richardson?
How can it be an outcome and a cause? All standardized tests are different versions of each other, see eg Au and Mensh and Mensh. I have seen the video. I am pretty busy with other projects (personal and blog) at the moment and will respond in time.
I already explained how.
Lets say Ive been drinking heavily while driving and I crash my car into a tree. In this instance drinking and driving is the cause and crashing into the tree is the outcome. Then let’s say because I crash into a tree it falls over and kills an old woman. In that instance the the cause is crashing into a tree and the outcome is killing the old woman.
In this example the outcome is also a cause to a subsequent outcome.
Also I’ll be waiting on that response. I’m interested in how you’ll respond.
No, I mean explain the proximate/ultimate cause regarding this current discussion.
I’m interested in how I will respond as well. I have a lot of reading to do before I respond.
Well in this instance having learning disabilities necessarily means you will score low on an IQ test. So that subsequently means having a low IQ means you will be a bad soldier because in the sample provided if you have a low IQ then you have a mental disability. They’re not just ignorant they’re stupid.
In this instance, the AFQT is a test of acculturated knowledge. They have learning disabilities. They can’t—or they have trouble—learning the information on the test. Thus they score low.
Signifying it’s an outcome of their learning disability, not a cause. Statements about one’s “intelligence” are a descriptor, not a cause.
The AFQT was clearly not the only way these men’s abilities were evaluated. Remember you said things like IQ and the AFQT are unnecessary to identify a learning disability.
No shit having a low IQ isn’t the cause of having a learning disability, that’s not what you said though. You said that low IQ was not the cause of their inability to be “good soldiers”. However, because having a low IQ is synonymous with you have a learning disability within this sample it is therefore correct to say that low IQ is responsible for this deficiency.
AFQT is a “proxy” for IQ. Yes, low IQ is not a cause of their inability to “be good soldiers”—because, again, IQ is irrelevant to the definition of learning disabilities.
Ill claim again: We don’t need IQ tests to screen military personnel.
It’s not irrelevant though. If the AFQT has a .8 correlation to IQ like you stated then the former predicts the latter to some degree.
I’ll claim again: Tests of cognitive ability are accurate than personal anecdotes.
They’re, again, different versions of the same test and what Mensh and Mensh wrote about the Army Alpha and Beta holds for the AFQT, too.
I know that’s what I just said.
What did they say and how is it relevant to my argument? That IQ is causal in regards to the variation in the performance of soldiers simply because having a low IQ is equivalent to having a learning disability, within the context of sample of course.
See the second section.
Of what? Your blog post? If so, then please explain how the quote is even relevant at all. I’m very curious as to what the reason behind the tests creation has to do with whether IQ tests are causal to the variation in soldier performance.
Need I say more? Aaaaand what do ya know, most of McNamara’s Morons
Uhhh yeah you definitely do.
RR… none of this contradicts what I said. Intelligence as a concept is NOT coextensive with the idea of “innate or culture/environment free potential”.
Uhhh yea it shows their presuppositions and how they built the tests to “show it.”
Dude my argument doesn’t rest on whether the tests were constructed purposefully to the creator’s biases or not. If it predicts IQ it predicts IQ, end of story.
Dude, if they were constructed purposefully to the creator’s biases then we shouldn’t accept hereditarian claims (and environmentalist ones, since the debate is pointless).
“If it predicts IQ it predicts IQ”
Did you misspeak?
Bruh, I’m not making hereditarian claims. My argument is nothing about that.
Nah. I just formatted it incorrectly so when you read it doesn’t sound right.
Uhhh saying they test intelligence is a hereditarian claim.
What’s the correct format?
Uhhhh no it’s not.
If it predicts IQ, then it predicts IQ.
Meaning: if it shoots cum like a cock, gets hard like a cock, looks like a cock, then it’s probably a cock.
Doesn’t make sense.
“If it predicts IQ it predicts IQ” I don’t even know what that means. Do you mean between two different tests?
I already said what it means what the fuck?
Did you not see my cock example????
A penis is an object; IQ, just because it’s defined as being “measurable” doesn’t mean that it is real—the fallacy of reification.
That’s not what the metaphor was about but ok.
IQ is a measurement of something real. Indirectly or directly.
You just need to stop being a little bitch and accept the cock into your life.
Yea see Howe (1997) and Richardson (1991).
Why don’t you just quote me the passages that you think are relevant?
Unless the citations you’re mentioning directly address why intelligence can NOT be mutually exclusive to the idea of an innate potential then I don’t see how it’s relevant.
Also Richardson (1998: 127; he has expanded on this in chapter 3 of his 2017 book)
low IQ brown midgets like melo and peepee think IQ is a thing because low IQ brown midgets.
saying “IQ” rather than “intelligence” or whatever sounds (pseudo) scientific and therefore confuses dumb people like melo and peepee.
IQ is not a thing like the intramolecular, or intraatomic energy of particles, aka temperature.
IQ is a measurement of a thing dipshit.
you can see the ideology when a dumb person says, “i have an IQ of whatever” unaware that there are as many IQs as IQ tests and that scores on the same test vary over time.
“Ill claim again: We don’t need IQ tests to screen military personnel.”
But you’re not in the military. You’re some weird anonymous blogger that deconstructs useful tools with fallacies for some unknown reason. So why would anyone care what you say?
What does my being anonymous have to do with my arguments?
It adds to thick layer of insincerity.
I’m anonymous for a reason and my being anonymous is irrelevant to my arguments.
Your arguments are laughable.
IQ tests are actually bad for identifying people with mental disabilities.
This one sure wasn’t.
the fallacy of reification
or the phallus-y.
brown midgets with micropenis can’t tell the difference between words and things.
a better question is how smart must one be to know that the military is stupid?
if rr were in basic training he would talk to arnold at night.
there actually are a few “behaviroal geneticists”.
now afro-albanians need to STFU.
Richardson is a damn fool who is only taken seriously by idiots like RR.
Luck supporting antifas, Italian trash.
pretty sure rr is down with el duce.
rr wants italy to be part of the holy roman empire again under emperor arnold i.
who will be arnold ii?
May 29, 2021
One morning I was burning confidential trash, paper tapes with hole punches that would have been unreadable by anyone without a primitive but closely guarded patch cord almost-computer, a secret monthly code list, a command of English, and electricity. None of the hostiles near me in the Central Highlands had any of the above. But our SOP was to pour five gallons of gas into a drum, stir the tapes and gas vigorously and drop in a match.
This particular morning as I started to strike a match the gasoline exploded violently. I thought it must be a mortar and I was dead. But I wasn’t dead, just on
fire: hair, eyebrows, arms, and hands, right down to the bones on the hand closest
to the fire. I heard a moan and turned to see a headquarters platoon member with his hands in the air, still holding the book of matches and realized he had thrown a match over my shoulder as a prank. Thank god my M16 was in my rig. I stepped toward him and was reaching for my knife when he said, “Don’t hit me” and I knew instantly that he was too stupid to kill or even really blame.
When I got to my platoon area and told them how I got burned and that I needed the medics my platoon sergeant grabbed his M16 to kill the moron who burned me. I was so angry I said he can’t help being an imbecile but you people who are supposedly in charge sent him out here to the field with guns and grenades and claymore mines when he’s got no more brains than a shithouse rat and that’s what I’ll say if you hurt or court-martial him. He can’t help it but you should know better. They flew him back to basecamp in the morning where he could stay out of trouble and I recovered. There is no doubt in my mind I had a close encounter with one of Macnamara’s morons.