Sunday, August 28, 2005


A couple of days ago I made a few brief comments about findings showing that there are far more men than women in the top ranges of IQ. I also put the post up on Tongue-Tied, where I am guest-blogging at the moment. I got a lot of emails about it from "Tongue-Tied" readers and to help answer the emails I have just put up another post on "Tongue-Tied" which I also reproduce below

My post on female IQ got me a heap of emails so, although the subject is a bit off the regular track for "Tongue-Tied", I feel I should comment on the concerns that readers have expressed. In a way, the topic is VERY appropriate for "Tongue-Tied" because it is the unmentionable nature of IQ research that has enabled so many misunderstandings about the subject to flourish. So I think I should spend a bit of time in telling you what nobody else is likely to. Let me start with one well-expressed email that I received:

"As a woman, I don't have a problem with the IQ findings. I tend to believe it, as my personal experience has shown that men tend to be more analytical than women. My issue is with the way IQ is measured. My opinion is that IQ tests place a lot of emphasis on analytical abilities, but not much on "other types" of intelligence, such as creativity, multi-tasking, musical genius or whatever. For example, women tend to be a lot more perceptive than men, especially when it comes to relationships. They also can have more agility of mind; that is, they can do more than one thing at the same time, and do it well (better known as multi-tasking). Everyone has his or her own strengths, which leads me to believe that IQ tests are mostly useless. Instead, instructors/employers should be trained to identify individuals' strengths and how to capitalize on them.

Most of what the lady says is right. There are ways in which women tend to do better than men -- and multi-tasking is certainly one of those ways. What the lady does not know is that the abilities measured in IQ tests are NOT just some arbitrary selection of puzzles. The whole notion of IQ arose from an OBSERVATION: the observation that people who tend to be good at solving one sort of puzzle also tend to be good at solving lots of other seemingly unrelated puzzles. In other words, what Binet discovered in the 19th century was that problem-solving is GENERAL. There is such a thing as general problem-solving ability (often abbreviated as 'g'). So over a hundred years have gone by since Binet's discovery and most people still don't know of it! If that is not a truth that has been thoroughly tongue-tied, I don't know what one would be (actually, I can think of a couple of others but I will save them for another day). So IQ tests are simply collections of different puzzles that do in fact go together. Success on one does tend to predict success on all the rest.

And what that means is that IQ tests are VERY useful. For instance, if you are hiring for a job that requires a lot of problem-solving, you can use an IQ test to predict which applicant will be best at that job -- no matter what the problems may be in the job you are hiring for. And IQ tests are also very predictive of educational success. If you have a high IQ it is much more worthwhile to spend up big on a university education than if you have a low IQ.

As an example of how ability generalizes, take mechanical aptitude: I am very good at all sorts of academic things so lots of people would think I must be hopeless at practical things like mechanics. And it is true that any time my car needs fixing I hand the job over to an expert. But I like fixing locks. I am an amateur locksmith. Locks are just another puzzle to me. So one day, I was at a small gathering where some ladies were having trouble with the deadlock on their front door. So they took it off and opened it up. And immediately, bits and pieces went "SPROING" everywhere. They were of course completely stumped by that and did not for a moment think to ask a hopeless academic like me to help. So I said: "Maybe I can help". They looked at me with great skepticism. But in ten minutes I had it back together and all working properly. I hope they learnt something about 'g' from that episode.

Now I have just used an example above to illustrate what I am saying. But the example is NOT the proof. The proof is the gazillion times researchers have found that problem-solving generalizes. One of my other readers of my post yesterday made that mistake. She said that men got all the Nobel prizes because good education has become available to women only fairly recently. But that was not the point at all. The researchers who wrote the article in The British Journal of Psychology that I referred to yesterday relied for their conclusions on hundreds of studies with IQ tests. The bit about Nobel prize-winners was only an illustration, much like my locksmithing illustration above. Examples prove nothing by themselves. They just help you to understand how generalizations work out in practice.

Incidentally, creativity is NOT like IQ. It does not generalize much. People who are highly creative in one field are usually pretty uncreative in other fields. For instance, I am extremely good at writing articles for scientific journals. And that is a highly creative field. In that field you are creating new knowledge and understanding about something. And I have had hundreds of such articles published. But I could not write a novel for nuts! So even in the single field of writing, there can be different types of totally unrelated creativity!



An unusual perspective on Israel's rights: “The so-called occupied territories are really disputed territory, gained due to acts of aggression by the Arab states against Israel. There was no Palestinian State in 1967 when the territories were captured. What kind of morality is it, then, to return territory to the aggressor? And where’s the precedent? It rewards aggression — and guarantees it’ll reoccur. If anything, by returning land to the aggressors — the Sinai first — Israel violated Nullum crimen sine poena, the imperative in international law to punish the aggressor.”

Some uncommon-sense from Australia: "The Centre for Independent Studies, in a report into income tax levels, said there was overwhelming evidence to support deep tax cuts for high income earners because of the benefits that would bring to the economy. It follows criticism of the Government's $22 billion worth of tax cuts announced in the May budget. Average wage earners have already received a $6 a week tax cut under the package, but people on higher incomes - including those earning more than $100,000 a year - will get substantially more. But Dr Sinclair Davidson, an associate professor at RMIT University, said in a paper for the centre that there was far more scope for the Government to go further with its tax cuts. He said the Government could cut taxes further without a reduction in revenue. In fact, an economy buoyed by larger tax cuts would actually lift the amount of money flowing to the Government".

Arabs mostly marry cousins: "Just as modern medicine recognizes genetic sources of many physical illnesses, modern psychology recognizes genetic components in many psychological problems including criminality. Presumably, a region where inbreeding is rife-and reinforced through successive generations-should also have a greater frequency of such mental ailments. Though, not surprisingly, there seem to have been no studies in that regard given the delicacy of the subject, the high levels of social pathology, violence, and terrorism in the Arab world suggest that inbreeding is one of the causes."

I have just put up here the latest article by Arlene Peck. She notes how Israel's voluntary withdrawal from Gaza has won it no credit from Leftists at all. Excerpt: "Already, the rabidly anti-Semitic Los Angeles Times is publishing its ‘editorials': “Israel Leaves but Gaza is Hardly Free!" and articles decrying “ isolated they are in Gaza now, from the outside world, (not to mention the West Bank and Jerusalem) and as subject to Israeli domination as before”.

For more postings, see EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Mirror sites here, here, here, here and here. And on Social Security see Dick McDonald


Practically all policies advocated by the Left create poverty. Leftists get the government to waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so load the burden of providing most useful goods and services onto fewer and fewer people. So fewer useful goods and services are produced to go around. That is no accident. The Left love the poor. The Left need the poor so that they can feel good by patronizing and "helping" them. So they do their best to create as many poor people as possible.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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