IQ and Intelligence

Fellow bloggers: You might find this resource to be very useful. I know I will.

Intelligence as a human characteristic and IQ as a measure of that characteristic are among the most misunderstood … often willfully misunderstood … concepts. Stephanie Zvan has put together an annotated bib of mainly web-based resources on the topic and posted it at Quiche Moraine.

Readings in IQ and Intelligence



  1. #1 Zeno
    December 21, 2009

    My IQ is way too high for me to take IQ seriously.


  2. #2 bryan pesta
    December 22, 2009

    I mentioned in the link to the original blog– that’s one lopsided list.

    Why not cite some of the peer-reviewed research that’s pro IQ?

  3. #3 The Science Pundit
    December 22, 2009

    I mentioned in the link to the original blog– that’s one lopsided list.

    Why not cite some of the peer-reviewed research that’s pro IQ?

    That’s an excellent suggestion! Why don’t you provide some links yourself in the comments?

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    December 22, 2009

    Greg addressed the peer-reviewed research question in a recent post. Find me a journal that’s open access, and I’ll be happy to cite some readable pieces, if I can find any.

    As for being pro-IQ, what are the pros that you think aren’t represented in the reading list? There are a number of pieces in there that both talk about what IQ is good for and its limitations. Are you looking for something that suggests there’s a single-factor intelligence? That’s not the scientific consensus.

  5. #5 Bryan Pesta
    December 22, 2009

    I don’t want to open a can of worms, but this is a science blog. I do think that people who publish in this area would agree / show consensus that a single general factor of intelligence indeed exists.

    IQ bashing is trendy, even among scientists (out of field). I just find it somewhat disappointing given how much peer-reviewed literature there is out there (in, say, the journal, Intelligence).

    Citing Gould as an expert in the area (as the original blog does) I think shows the bias. I’m trying to establish a research program in the field, and it does frustrate me how unfairly (and often smugly) the science is portrayed and discounted.

    But, here’s at least one recent article showing the massive disconnect between people who research in the area and pretty much everyone else.

    My apologies if the post comes across as rude, and I admit to being a newbie here on this science blog thingy.


  6. #6 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2009

    Bryan, you are welcome as a newbie on the blog, but you have to admit that you are also a “newbie” in regards to intelligence research. You have arrived to tell us that you have a certain preconception which I’m going to guess is:

    IQ is inherited
    IQ varies by race
    Brian’s race has a higher race, everybody else is lower
    This is what the science says

    and you are telling me that since I don’t predispose myself to your preconception that I’m not being as scientist.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2009
  8. #8 bryan pesta
    December 22, 2009

    Thanks Greg.

    I do think IQ is in large part (but not solely) inherited.

    Group mean differences exist on IQ test scores. That’s undeniable. Why they differ is up for debate. My answer would be: We don’t know, but it’s not test bias (and the effects seem important enough that further study should be encouraged, versus end your career).

    No, I’m not a white supremacist, but I am very much interested in IQ tests and group differences. I also understand that a group difference in no way implies that members of x are all dumb and members of y are all smart.

    I’m white; I understand that the group means are higher for jewish people and asian people. I know many blacks smarter than me, and I can think of a few asians I know who are probably not as smart as me. So what. You see lots of “person-who” statistics when discussing this topic (my uncle smoked three packs for 40 years and is still kicking; therefore..).

    I guess I’m telling you (asking you?) to apply your scientist background to a balanced picture of the literature.

    Those cites in the OP will not do. It’s the Gould factor. Citing mismeasure as an authoritative source today implies that one is not up on any of the primary source literature (your position may still be right, but I’ve found that citing gould is a red flag in this area– and I realize you were not the person making the OP).

    I do see it as asking a creationist to list citations in the area that give a “balanced” preview of how biologists think life got here (or got to its present state).

  9. #9 bryan pesta
    December 22, 2009

    Oh, forgot– thanks for the link. It’s 2 am here so I will peruse it tomorrow.

    I see myself more as an old man– 41 years old. Been thinking about IQ issues for 20 years, but have only recently “contributed” to the field.

    So, I guess this is my full disclosure:

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    December 22, 2009

    Citing Mismeasure of Man means that the writer is looking for sources that can be easily found and understood by a lay audience without a background in the subject. Current primary literature doesn’t qualify.

  11. #11 bryan pesta
    December 22, 2009

    Pandas and people is accessible to most lay people, but I wouldn’t recommend reading it!

    Have you ever read Jensen’s reply to it? It’s long but informative. I can dig it up if you’re interested.

    Good night all!

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    December 22, 2009

    bryan, Jensen’s reply to Gould is linked from the summary of the book I listed. There are a number links for both praise and criticism. Anyone can read them easily, as I have.

    Your comparing of a book on the history and current (at the time, although they haven’t changed much) arguments in the field, by an author who is up front about his politics, to a “creation science” textbook that worked very hard to cover that up is more than a bit rich. An apology to Gould’s corpse might be in order.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2009

    Brian: 8 why in the world would group differences support the idea that IQ is genetically passed on from parent to ofspring? Perhaps even more importantly for the present discussion, why would someone make the unbelievably huge blunder one would have to make to think that? (other than the possible explanations that one goes along with what one has heard uncritically, which we all do for some things until we realize our mistake, or one has some sort of agenda or something…?)

  14. #14 bryan pesta
    December 22, 2009

    Ah, but Gould’s citations are something like 50% older than 75 years and 75% older than 50 years (based on my memory, the numbers might be off). That does seem to me like using piltdown man to discredit modern IQ science. Or, dismissing modern research in medicine because doctors way back when used leeches to treat disease. Or claiming that the eye is too complex to evolve even though work since that claim shows pretty damn well how complex eyes evolved.

    I think Gould’s work is biased to the point of suspicious. I do know that the morton skull data seem to differ lots by whether Gould is measuring the skulls versus anyone else. You can measure how valuable a work is by whether it stands the test of time. The worst thing that can happen to a work is not that people debate it, or argue against it, but that they ignore it. This is Gould for most anyone who contributes to the modern IQ literature.

    I don’t think I said group differences imply that IQ largely inherited. I think twin studies show that IQ is not 100% environmental, but I agree that within group heritability is not sufficient for concluding between group heritability.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2009

    I had a comment to put here but I accidentally mad it into a whole web post . See this blog post.