On the Fantasy vs medieval vs real topic;
All we have to work with is our own framework of right and wrong and how the world works. Convenience is part of it and the part that my NonGamer friends think is the dumbest part of the hobby. I've been fortunate to play with a barehandful of DMs who were good enough that not only could they handle the game and narrative but also completely dispense with our group prejudices and preconceptions to completely immerse us in an Alien World. That's a rare talent I think.
Part of what this thread has been is that. We have different views on what Stats mean. We have different views on how they should impact the game. We bring our own preconceptions to the table and those preconceptions are different for different people. The OP's group had a different preconception of what PC Intelligence means and the DM and his group had a discussion about it, that's working as intended for a RPG.
Preconceptions about the game happen with Mechanics and role play. I like to know ahead of time if the game I join is just a combat simulation and I like to know if I'll go whole sessions riffing in character and never toss a die. Both have merits and neither is exclusive. I usually prefer a game where there is some balance, but other times I just wanna hit stuff with a sharp stick.
To Paizo specifically and their setting.
Paizo has done a magnificent job at eliminating numerous conceits of the RPG hobby that were really hurting it at some levels.
*The depiction of ethnic minorities was a major one. I play with 2 black guys, father and son. The son doesn't remember a time where the only black guy in fantasy was an elf.
*The depiction of the female form in a sensible form of dress. There's an awful lot of Under boob cleavage in my TSR modules. I personally love Red Sonja's Metal Disc Bikini but it shouldn't be a default for art submissions.
*They've added actual moral and ethical dilemmas to their setting where players can actually make a decision that matters in regards to their place in the world.
*I never saw the term MurderHoBo before this board, but it's apt for a great many games ive participated in. Paizo's printed adventures and the APs especially have done more to remove that than any of their predecessors.
* Genocide: This is more than human genocide. Once clearing an Orc tribe meant dead Orc Babies in D&D. Not so much anymore. Maybe it's Mikaze's quest for non stereotyped racial portrayals or it's from years of players doing some awful things in character and thinking "wait a minute".
There are lots of bad spots on Golarion. Nidal is nasty but Cheliax isn't a vacation destination. Katapesh is full of Slavers, who will take anyone not obviously too powerful to market. In Geb, humans are food. Sargava is full of bad juju. Galt is a mess where death is true death sometimes.
Starvation is a real threat for the general populace of all those spots. Magical Healing exists but saying it's common place is a stretch. It also costs money by the rules and the poor of Golarion are like modern India poor in some of these places.
Andoren is nice, unless you work for the Timber Consortium. Molthune is trying to destroy Nirmathas. Razmir forces religious conversion on it's neighbors. In the River Kingdoms food producers have extremely high Social Status because it's so hard to bring a crop to harvest and everyone else is hungry. In central Varisia you can be raped by Ogres. Mendev exists because Demons are invading the world. Ustalav is Ustalav. LastWall is there to prevent an Undead Wizard King from escaping and bringing the whole world into Undeath and it's neighbor is a nation teeming with Orcs who worship a war god and like to war with Lastwall.
Golarion isn't a nice place to live.