Tuesday, December 11, 2007

IQ: Here we go again

Quite aside from the strangely-dressed gent who appears to constitute their their logo, The New Yorker is a rather strange publication. They email to privileged people like me (why I am so privileged I have no idea) copies of articles that have not yet appeared in their magazine. One such is a part of the small rush of articles that have been sparked by James Watson's perfectly factual observations about black IQ. The New Yorker's contribution appears under the heading "None of the above" and is by Malcolm Gladwell, a historian who takes an interest in the social sciences. Gladwell is of course among the "saints" who think IQ is all nonsense.

I must say that I had to laugh. Gladwell mentions, for instance, the old Eyferth study (without naming it) as if it proved something when all it proves (to be blunt) is that German women don't go to bed with dumb blacks.

All Gladwell does, basically, is rehash the usual points made by Flynn -- so any critique of Flynn (e.g. here) should be an adequate reply to Gladwell. I will however mention a few points here. Another point Gladwell raises is that the black/white gap rises from a small gap in infancy to a much larger gap in later life. Gladwell thinks that shows an effect of black culture but the real explanation is again rather blunt so I will simply refer readers to an extended comment I made on that matter recently.

But Gladwell's basic blindness is to fail to distinguish between phenotypic IQ (scores on IQ tests) and genotypic IQ (that part of IQ test scores which is genetically determined). Nobody has ever denied that IQ test scores are influenced by environmental factors -- about a third of IQ is usually found to be environmentally determined -- so the rise in the IQ scores of most populations over the 20th century (as described by Flynn) was to be expected from all the many advantages that modernization brings -- better nutrition, greater stimulation via TV, more time in the educational system, better perinatal medical care etc. But if genetics set a limit, the improvement to IQ scores that flow from an improved environment should peak as the environment reaches the optimum for IQ development. And precisely that has now happened in several affluent countries.

So Flynn's findings don't let you escape those pesky genes! It is in fact rather amusing to hear an attack on genetic influences in this day and age. We now hear almost daily (in the medical and psychological literature) of new findings about genetic influences on human behaviour -- so much so that it would be amazing if there was NOT a large genetic influence on IQ.

See my recent post about Metcalf for more on the points raised by Gladwell. It would be nice if The New Yorker opened its pages to an article on IQ by someone who really knows the subject -- such as Gottfedson or Rushton -- but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime. Complex truths always have a difficult struggle against simplistic lies. The Gladwell article is apparently set for publication in the Dec 17 issue of The New Yorker.

I will leave readers with an interesting histogram from the U.S. Government's National Science Foundation. SAT scores are, of course, highly correlated with IQ:



There are quite a lot of education bloggers around so I am pleased to say that my EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL blog survives the competition well enough to get around 150 hits per day. That may not seem much but it is better than 99% of all blogs.

What I put up on it is basically whatever I come across in my days's reading that interests me both from a libertarian/conservative point of view and from my point of view as a former teacher at both the High School and University levels.

Education is however a huge field and I am acutely aware that I cover only a small fraction of what I could cover. And I think that a wider coverage would lead to more readers. So I would be very pleased if I could get a co-blogger who would help expand what the blog covers. Getting access to an established blog is a lot easier than starting a new blog so I hope someone will contact me about this.

Their general orientation would of course have to be libertarian/conservative but I think that any regular reader of this blog would fill the bill. The most consistent message of the blog so far has been that there should be much more privatization of schooling. I write from a country where over 40% of High School students already go to private schools so that is not totally blue-sky.



Iran 'hoodwinked' CIA over nuclear plans: "British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran. Analysts believe that Iranian staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation. The report used new evidence - including human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Teheran suspended the bomb-making side of its nuclear programme in 2003. But British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time. A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defence chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons."

Males less biased: "A new study published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences finds that the attractiveness of interviewees can significantly bias outcome in hiring practices, showing a clear distinction between the attractive and average looking interviewees in terms of high and low status job packages offered. The study explored the influence of the halo effect in a mock job negotiation scenario where male and female interviewers were shown pictures of attractive or average looking male and female job applicants. Female interviewers were found to allocate attractive looking male interviewees more high status job packages than the average looking men. Female interviewers also gave more high status job packages to attractive men than to attractive women. Average looking men also received more low status job packages than average looking women. Male interviewers did not differ in the number of high or low status job packages that were given to attractive looking interviewees of either sex, though the male interviewers gave out more low status job packages overall, irrespective of the sex of the interviewee."

Is this the Leftist brain we are talking about? "Human experience is based on learning that our actions affect subsequent positive or negative outcomes. Rewards strengthen associations between contextual stimuli and actions thereby reinforcing and maintaining successful behavior; whereas punishments induce avoidance of erroneous actions. While we usually learn from both positive and negative reinforcement, the relative amount of learning from success or errors varies between individuals. Klein et al. investigated a human genetic polymorphism associated with the density of brain dopamine D2 receptor. Reduced D2 receptor density was associated with less efficient learning from errors. In people with lower D2 receptor density, the reduced capacity to learn from errors was accompanied by reduced feedback-related activity in the posterior medial frontal cortex, an area known to monitor for negative action outcomes". [More here]

Offended Muslim Syndrome: "Following the misery inflicted on Islam by a toy bear that ended up with calls for the execution of an English woman, more Muslims are stepping forward with stories of long-suppressed emotional trauma imposed on them by so-called reality. This has led to the creation of support groups and social networks that help followers of the Prophet Mohammed cope with the agony of learning about life outside of their immediate environment, offering assistance with technical resources, practical guidance, and strategies for early intervention and punishment of those who offend Islam." [Satire]


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

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) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


1 comment:

BigDon said...

Couple of points:
US Military excludes persons below approximately IQ-85 via the AFQT. This elimnates from service (round numbers) the dumbest 50% of blacks but only the dumbest 10% of whites. Eyferth study is therefore bogus. PC types, in their eagerness to condemn genetic IQ theory, conveniently overlook this study flaw. Whites would have excelled easily if both race samples had been truly representative of overall group IQ.

Flynn erroneously treats environment and genetics as two totally independent variables. WRONG. Smart humans have the capability to select improved environments for themselves and their children. Simple example - having enough sense to come in out of the cold. Thus, environments are heavily influenced by genetics as well. Smart person, finding oneself in a slum of DC or Philly, would realize better life outcomes might result by picking up stakes and relocating to Podunk, North Dakota...