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With all the talk in the news about a potential war, it’s a good time to ask what war was like 80,000 years ago, as brilliantly depicted by one of my all time favorite movies, Quest for Fire (1980)

There were no guns so people (and I use that term loosely) would stab with spears, throw rocks or simply wrestle. Instead of dropping bombs on cities, people would try to drop boulders on folks on sitting around a camp fire by pushing it off of an above cliff.

The tribes in Quest for Fire can be divided into three main levels. 1) those smart enough to make fire (potential IQ around 80),

2) those smart enough to maintain fire but not smart enough to make it (potential IQ around 70),

and 3) those not smart enough to make or maintain it so they must steal it from more advanced tribes (potential IQ around 50).

Today every human population has mastered fire so we no longer fight wars over that, and instead (as Lion of the Blogosphere has implied) the World is divided into countries smart enough to make nuclear weapons (potential IQ around 100), countries smart enough to maintain nuclear weapons (potential IQ around 90) and countries smart enough to do neither (potential IQ around 80).

Quest for Fire as a culture fair test of fluid verbal IQ?

Another interesting feature of this film is that it could serve as a rare example of a of verbal IQ test that is both culture reduced and fluid (as opposed to crystallized). Since most of the dialogue is from no-known language ( a new language based on Indo-European roots was specifically created by Anthony Burgess ), high SES people can’t rely on their fancy education and must infer definitions on the spot.

If one scores much higher on an English vocabulary test than they do on a test like this, it implies either they were educated beyond their ability and/or cognitive decline (since their fluid verbal IQ was presumably good in the past to have acquired high crystallized verbal IQ).

Just from watching the above clip, readers can test themselves by defining the words “wogaboo” “dominyai” and “Ka Ka Ka”.