Pharyngula

My university doesn’t subscribe to the journal, but I’d really be interested in reading this paper by Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics. Even better would be if someone else would critique it so I wouldn’t have to waste my time on it.

Mind the gap…in intelligence: Re-examining the relationship between inequality and health.

Kanazawa S.
Interdisciplinary Institute of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.

Wilkinson contends that economic inequality reduces the health and life expectancy of the whole population but his argument does not make sense within its own evolutionary framework. Recent evolutionary psychological theory suggests that the human brain, adapted to the ancestral environment, has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment and that general intelligence evolved as a domain-specific adaptation to solve evolutionarily novel problems. Since most dangers to health in the contemporary society are evolutionarily novel, it follows that more intelligent individuals are better able to recognize and deal with such dangers and live longer. Consistent with the theory, the macro-level analyses show that income inequality and economic development have no effect on life expectancy at birth, infant mortality and age-specific mortality net of average intelligence quotient (IQ) in 126 countries. They also show that an average IQ has a very large and significant effect on population health but not in the evolutionarily familiar sub-Saharan Africa. At the micro level, the General Social Survey data show that, while both income and intelligence have independent positive effects on self-reported health, intelligence has a stronger effect than income. The data collectively suggest that individuals in wealthier and more egalitarian societies live longer and stay healthier, not because they are wealthier or more egalitarian but because they are more intelligent.

What brings it up is that a reader sent me a link to a Guardian article on the subject of this paper, and I find it hard to believe that it actually makes such strong causal claims…even though the abstract does plainly state that the author is arguing for a causal relationship between intelligence and poverty, and it’s not in the direction I would think reasonable.

The London School of Economics is embroiled in a row over academic freedom after one of its lecturers published a paper alleging that African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist, is now accused of reviving the politics of eugenics by publishing the research which concludes that low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. His paper, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, compares IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries and claims that nations at the top of the ill health league also have the lowest intelligence ratings.

You know, I could believe that the populations of nations ravaged by disease, poverty, and war would test poorly. I am not surprised that people could develop tests in the Western world, rush into a completely different culture (not to mention one distracted by serious internal problems), and find that the inhabitants do not respond to their tests with quite the due seriousness they do at home. I do wonder, though, how anyone in their right mind could make this claim:

In the paper he cites Ethiopia’s national IQ of 63, the world’s lowest, and the fact that men and women are only expected to live until their mid-40s as an example of his finding that intelligence is the main determinant of someone’s health.

An IQ of 63 means the average person in Ethiopia is clinically mildly mentally retarded; that’s a result that’s over two standard deviations away from the mean. If you look it up in the DSM-IV, you’ll find that this means they are at best capable of sixth-grade work, and that they are marginally capable of living independently with some community support. When a test reports that a population of 75 million people is dominated by a cohort that is incapable of reading beyond the grade school level and is unable to understand geometry, I tend to be suspicious of the validity of the test, or of the conclusions about ability being drawn from it.

I also have to wonder about the chain of reasoning behind this. I guess when I see a nation wracked by civil war with its infrastructure blown to pieces, a life expectancy of 49 years, and an infant mortality rate of almost 10%, combined with poor performance on some abstract IQ test, my conclusion would be that that situation isn’t exactly conducive to educating children. I don’t see how you would come to the conclusion that they’re just too dumb to live; perhaps the full paper would explain this in some plausible detail.

I don’t have much hope, though. I look at the evolutionary rationale in that abstract and am astonished. So this guy thinks African populations, unlike, say, European populations, have not faced the challenges of “evolutionarily novel problems”? That on an evolutionarily significant timescale, selection has been working on Europeans to generate nearly 40 point differences in IQ from their ancestors, and more improbable still, these same forces haven’t applied to Africans? This is cartoon biology, free of any constraint by fact or theory.

I also don’t have a lot of confidence in work coming out of the London School of Economics. What is it with the wacky stuff coming out of the LSE lately?

Comments

  1. #1 apikoros
    November 6, 2006

    I “low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality high” then we must be the 48th smartest country on the planet, just behind Bosnia.

  2. #2 JW Tan
    November 6, 2006

    I’m very disappointed with the level of scholarship in this department of the LSE. It’s very poor econometrics / economics as well as whatever else it may be – it sounds like a classic instance of data mining. It’s even worse from my point of view, since not only am I an LSE alumnus, I graduated in economics. It’s a sad day when they can’t even ensure basic economic literacy among their academics.

  3. #3 Greco
    November 6, 2006

    Cue cretaionist screaming in three… two… one…

  4. #4 carlman23
    November 6, 2006

    This stuff just keeps getting recycled throughout history ad nauseum. An excellent refutation of all of these so-called ‘evolutionary psychology’ studies can be found in Stephen Jay Gould’s ‘The Mismeasure of Man’, though Steven Rose, Leon J. Kamin and R.C.Lewontin’s ‘Not in Our Genes’ [Out of Print] is a pretty good picture of the socio-political factors that shape such studies: Basically conservatism and maintenance of the status quo. If these people are biologically inferior, then spending money on helping them is fruitless… ungh…

  5. #5 Caledonian
    November 6, 2006

    When a test reports that a population of 75 million people is dominated by a cohort that is incapable of reading beyond the grade school level and is unable to understand geometry, I tend to be suspicious of the validity of the test, or of the conclusions about ability being drawn from it.

    You’re being skeptical of the wrong things, PZ. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, and even if causation is presumed, correlation doesn’t tell us which way the causation operates.

    Intelligence tests do not provide a measure of all intellectual function, but more importantly they do not measure an inborn trait. What they measure is heavily influenced by the practice one has in dealing with abstracted problems – this is both a strength and weakness of the tests.

  6. #6 Jason Malloy
    November 6, 2006

    “a paper alleging that African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries.”

    I read this paper and frankly I have no idea where the Guardian article drew these claims from. The paper does use African IQ data, but it actually argues something closer to the opposite. The author predicts that health will not be correlated with IQ in Africa because it is closer to the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, and as predicted, he finds no correlation.

    I tend to be suspicious of the validity of the test, or of the conclusions about ability being drawn from it.

    There is a research literature confirming the validity of IQ test data in SS Africa. The scores really are that low, and signify something meaningfully similar, from a behavioral outcome standpoint, to what they do in the West. Typically the scores are a little over 2 SD lower than in developed nations, and about 1 SD lower than developing nations in other world regions.

  7. #7 Miguelito
    November 6, 2006

    Dumb, dumb, dumb. Malnutrition during early stages of growth strongly influences brain development (and I will infer from that intelligence; I might be wrong, but there are some studies that demonstrate that). Malnutrition also influences long-term health. Thus, people living in nations that suffer from economic inequality or frequent drought(like Ethiopia), increasing their risks of malnutrition, may suffer from both lower intelligences and poor health.

  8. #8 Carlie
    November 6, 2006

    The person who wrote that paper, and the articles about it, should be forced to sit and read Gould’s Mismeasure of Man, and then be beaten about the head with it. We already went through this phase with Terman, Goddard, Yerkes, and Brigham. If they can’t be bothered to read an actual book, a few minutes at the Eugenics Records Archive online should be sufficient to at least make them stop being entirely idiotic.

  9. #9 Kristine
    November 6, 2006

    Since most dangers to health in the contemporary society are evolutionarily novel, it follows that more intelligent individuals are better able to recognize and deal with such dangers and live longer.

    It would seem that the authors have as their premise the idea that “intelligence” includes or is defined by an ability to quickly adapt to and surmount “novel” dangers. It rather seems to me that a secure, largely suburban existence with a minimum of upheaval (“novel dangers”) would allow one to cultivate one’s intelligence and abstract reasoning, which I agree is not an inborn trait.

    How can the LSE possibly compare the so-called adaptability to new dangers of the average pampered westerner to anyone in sub-Saharan Africa? When I hear people at work bitch about traffic I wonder how they would handle the checkpoints that the average Palestinian or Iraqi must face every day, or how they would react to some of the personal horror stories I’ve heard from Somali women attending my college. Who is to say who more quickly adapts to novel obstacles?

    And BTW, from where do people from, say, Ethiopia and Somalia suddenly acquire their new high IQ levels when they move to Minneapolis? I can tell you that they have transformed my city for the better.

  10. #10 Anatoly Venovcev
    November 6, 2006

    IQ tests arent even a really solid way of measuring intelligence. For one, they dont bring in the aspect of emotion and creativity into account. And then, which is pretty probable in this came, IQ tests also tend to be culturally biased- generally toward the group of people and the society they are being distributed by.

  11. #11 Caledonian
    November 6, 2006

    Genes are one of the factors that influence human height. So are things like nutrition. The Japanese are notably taller than their ancestors several generations back were. Is it reasonable to conclude that genes that favor height have spready rampantly there?

    No.

    IQ does not measure ability to maintain high cortical arousal despite limbic activation. It doesn’t measure general ability to think in real-world situations. It measures ability at handling specific kinds of abstractions when they are removed from emotional contexts.

    Some of those abstractions need to be practiced. Some simply improve with practice. If you don’t develop in an environment rich with highly abstracted data, you will not develop the ability to handle such abstractions at all well.

    Some of you people are rejecting this study because you find it offensive, and you run about screaming “ZOMG, racism!”, when you are missing the actual flaws in the study.

  12. #12 hoody
    November 6, 2006

    The author is being deliberately obtuse. If he is a “psychologist” he is more than a little aware of the cultural and socio-economic biases inherent in most IQ testing. To then make this generalization is breathtaking in its arrogance and its error.

    Amazing. I actually agree with you on something. . .

  13. #13 Caledonian
    November 6, 2006

    Forget “social and cultural biases”! The more obvious point is that establishing a correlation between ill health and IQ does not imply that low IQ causes ill health, particularly when illness during development is known to impair that development.

    Good Lord, there are people too stupid to live right here.

  14. #14 carlman23
    November 6, 2006

    First of all, the entire concept of intteligence is rooted in controversy and sceptisism, even within the field of psychology. Second, most studies that I’ve read in the field of evolutionary psychology still operate on the old Selectionist model where everything you see in a species must have been there because of adaptation.
    As evolutionary biologists have generally accepted The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution (Kimura, 1983), I wonder why we still tolerate such studies? Darwin himself cautioned against adaptation stories in The Origin of the Species in saying that we cannot infer what the past circumstances of an organism were from what we observe its present state to be…

  15. #15 carlman23
    November 6, 2006

    Sorry, I typed that one out whilst speaking to a colleague, pardon the spelling mistakes.

  16. #16 Matt F
    November 6, 2006

    I’m not sure how all IQ tests are constructed, but the one I took, from a psychologist back in high school, included questions like “who was Anne Frank”, and asked to identify what was missing in various pictures, such as an umbrella without the support rods. Not hard to imagine someone in Ethiopia of normal intelligence doing poorly on such a test.

  17. #17 natural cynic
    November 6, 2006

    I am reminded of Jared Diamond’s comments on the intelligence of the New Guinea natives that he studied during his birding work. He said [paraphrasing] that he was astounded by their superior intelligence in their knowledge of their environment and their ability to understand the flora and fauna. Perhaps Kanazawa should be given 2 acres and a donkey in the Ethiopian highlands to show how smart he is.

  18. #18 T_U_T
    November 6, 2006

    Perhaps Kanazawa should be given 2 acres and a donkey in the Ethiopian highlands to show how smart he is.

    .
    You nailed it…

  19. #19 valhar2000
    November 6, 2006

    The IQ tests I have taken (a total of two, or so) consisted of recognizing patterns. Pretty much all the questions were about being shown three drawings of abstract geometric shapes, and then being asked to select the next one in the pattern from a set of four abstract geometric shapes.

    The particular tests I took would not be so susceptible to cultural differences as other tests that I have heard of, but I would still be careful about applying them willy nily to people who have not had an education similar to my own.

  20. #20 Mnemosyne
    November 6, 2006

    I do find it fascinating that “scientists” will look at a population that has been chronically undernourished, suffers from many diseases that can affect mental functioning like malaria, and has been provided with no or very poor education and yet, somehow, the problem is … evolution?

    Of course, they do the exact same thing here in the U.S. when they decide that inner-city and Appalachian kids are “naturally” stupid, so why should we expect any better when they look at people overseas who have it even worse health-wise?

  21. #21 MJ Memphis
    November 6, 2006

    Mnemosyne, re: scientists-

    “Dr Kanazawa received his MA in sociology from the University of Washington (1987) and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Arizona (1994). ”

    Fortunately, this particular paper can’t be pinned on scientists, unless sociology turned into a science recently.

  22. #22 Jonathan Badger
    November 6, 2006

    The particular tests I took would not be so susceptible to cultural differences as other tests that I have heard of, but I would still be careful about applying them willy nily to people who have not had an education similar to my own.

    Yeah, it’s a lot like the “logical puzzles” that are on the GRE tests (or at least were so in the early 1990s). Those puzzles involved solving problems like where people sat based on clues like “Jim sits next to someone wearing a blue shirt.”. Maybe if nobody taking the test had seen such a problem before it would be a fair test of logical ability, but most preparatory books and courses for the GRE described how to solve such puzzles in excruciating detail. So, the only people needing logic would be those who somehow hadn’t seen such explanations. It’s the same thing for those “what’s the next number or symbol?” problems.

  23. #23 georgiana
    November 6, 2006

    Actually it sounds like the author missed the not-so-recent news that poverty, especially extreme poverty, leads to poorer IQ scores, not the other way around. And poor childrens’ IQ scores are quite susceptible to environmental impacts. After the Bell Curve (Too lazy to get original links. Sigh)

    Not to mention the absolute silliness of claiming that evolution is the prime factor in low African IQ scores without having eliminated other potential causes (famine, civil war, educational opportunity etc.) Oh, and if evolution is the cause, how does that square with Africa having perhaps the greatest genetic diversity among its human populations?

  24. #24 MattXIV
    November 6, 2006

    I think this paper doesn’t say what most commenting seem to think it does. I got the same impression from the abstract as Jason Malloy did from the paper above – that the paper is specifically pointing out that the relationship between IQ and life expectancy doesn’t hold in sub-Saharan Africa (“They also show that an average IQ has a very large and significant effect on population health but not in the evolutionarily familiar sub-Saharan Africa.” emp. mine) I think the Guardian article may be misrepresenting the paper.

  25. #25 HP
    November 6, 2006

    I’m not an expert on evolutionary psychology, but based on what I’ve seen, it seems reasonable to conclude that among our paleolithic ancestors, the ability to spout complete bullshit increased reproductive success rates among individuals who wouldn’t have stood a chance otherwise.

  26. #26 donna
    November 6, 2006

    How about we move the London School of Economics to Ethiopia, and see if it survives?

  27. #27 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    Excellent suggestion, Donna–I’d chip in for that.

  28. #28 windy
    November 6, 2006

    I appear to have access to the original article (for better or for worse)

    Even in the extreme continuity and constancy of the EEA, however, there were occasional evolutionarily novel and non-recurrent problems that, in order to be solved, required our ancestors to think and reason, deductively and inductively.

    So, there were enough evolutionary novel problems on the “savannah” for intelligence to evolve, but somehow there aren’t enough now to affect reproductive success?

    The Savanna Principle and its interaction with general intelligence discussed above can provide one answer. Most dangers to health today are evolutionarily novel. These include cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, sedentary life (which necessitates regular exercises), automobiles and guns. While our ancestors in the African savannah may have partaken in psychotropic drugs and intoxicating substances (since their use is known among contemporary hunter-gatherers), they certainly did not have anything nearly as potent and, as a result, as potentially dangerous as crack cocaine or vodka. The revised Savanna Principle would therefore predict that high-g individuals can better recognize such dangers to health, deal with them appropriately and so remain healthier and live longer.
    I thus predict that, in largely evolutionarily novel modern society, more intelligent individuals live longer than less intelligent individuals (as Deary et al. (2004) discovered). However, intelligence should not affect health and life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa, the site of our ancestral environment, where, even today, life in tribal societies is less radically different from the ancestral environment than in the rest of the world.

    Yep, like Ethiopia having 75 million people farming coffee and raising cattle is not at all different from having 10000 hunter-gatherers in the same area.

    Anyways the leading cause of death in Ethiopia appears to be malaria. Is this typical of the ancient hunter-gatherer environment? Then why are Ethiopians so poorly adapted to malaria?
    http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/bindon/ant570/topics/sociobiology/img003.jpg

  29. #29 James G
    November 6, 2006

    Liberal denial doesn’t change the facts. Or more to the point, doesn’t explain them. Here are some facts:

    1. IQ (g) is the most widely accepted measure of intelligence in the research areas of cognitive abilities, cognitive science, and education. All other proposed measures to date have been deemed either unreliable or equivalent to IQ (g). Specifically, the dominate theory today is the Cattell-Horn-Carroll hierarchy, which posits g as the most general factor underlying intelligence. There is no other research program on intelligence besides g, much like there is no other research program on the origins of life besides evolution. The wikipedia article on race and intelligence is a good place to start educating yourselves about IQ’s place in the real world. It is a very authoritative article with close to 170 citations.

    2. There are very few laws in sociology and psychology. The fact that IQ actually has some predictive power makes it right away one of the most central pieces of knowledge in sociology, just like it is in psychology. All those other supposed causes “ravaged by disease, poverty, and war” etc. etc. don’t predict much of anything. It is always easy to find countries that have been ravaged by this or that and yet are doing great (Germany/Japan in the case of war). That is why people get so excited about IQ, it actually predicts things on a sociological scale. Other predictors are next to worthless.

    3. Gould’s Mismeasure of Man has been criticized heavily. It was praised by the masses, but ravaged by the psychological community. It has had zero impact on the practice of psychometrics today. In my opinion the book completely misses the point, but see wikipedia for links to all the critiques.

    4. Some groups of people in Africa really do have IQ’s in the 60s. It is sad, but true. And yes it is mostly due to malnutrition. The thing is, when an American has an IQ that low, it typically goes along with other severe deficits (such as social rejection) that make the person almost helpless. But when an IQ this low is not accompanied by these other deficits, the person can carry out most mundane tasks just fine. Life in these countries is completely different from ours. Children are trained from birth to carry out a finite number of simple tasks in order to live. This makes it possible for people to cope with low IQs. In fact there is a lot of evidence to suggest that throughout most of recorded history average IQs for all peoples have been below 80. No one is saying Africans are too dumb to live, rather they are as dumb as the entire human race was not too long ago, and they simply haven’t developed past that point.

    5. IQ tests are only biased in the sense that they test for a westernized notion of intelligence. But why shouldn’t they? After all, “developed nation” today is practically synonymous with “westernized”. If African countries want to step out of poverty, it looks like the only path they can take is a western path. And to do that they need western intelligence. Of course it is always possible they could invent some new “African” mode of development that somehow didn’t require western intelligence, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

    Ultimately, the causes behind IQ scores are not as important as their predictive power. They have been shown to have robust predictive power in modern economies, between developed nations and undeveloped nations, and even within undeveloped nations as well. What does the term “brain drain” refer to but the fact that in many countries the most high-IQ individuals choose to leave for developed countries? Do you really think that there are not smart Ethiopians and dumb Ethiopians? And that the smart Ethiopians wouldn’t both do better for themselves and score better on IQ tests? What is so hard to believe about that?

    Quote:
    “So this guy thinks African populations, unlike, say, European populations, have not faced the challenges of “evolutionarily novel problems”? That on an evolutionarily significant timescale, selection has been working on Europeans to generate nearly 40 point differences in IQ from their ancestors, and more improbable still, these same forces haven’t applied to Africans?”

    This guy is observing the differences and trying to come up with an explanation. Do you have a better one? Why couldn’t the colder, more rugged climates of Europe and Asia provided more novel challenges that the lush jungles of africa? I certainly would rather have lived in Africa.

    I’m sure Kanazawa would admit that a large part of that 40-point gap is due to malnutrition and other missing environmental cues. For all we know, Ethiopians could have genius genes inside them, just waiting to be expressed by the proper western diet and upbringing! Unfortunately, some of the biggest pieces of evidence behind the hereditarian hypothesis point against this scenario:

    1. African populations living in affluent countries like the US, the UK, etc. still score worse on IQ tests than whites and Asians from the same socio-economic class. Moreover, the more African heritage these individuals have, the worse they score.

    2. African children adopted into wealthy white western families, while scoring much higher than they would have otherwise, still do not score anywhere near their biological siblings.

    3. Identical twins reared apart show IQ correlations close to .90.

    More to the point, and more to Kanazawa’s point I am sure, all this speculation is moot. If your people don’t have the IQ, you aren’t likely to get the nutrition or whatever other environmental development you need, are you?

  30. #30 MOMUS
    November 6, 2006

    Caledonian – no doubt all those below your absolutely massive IQ level should be considered Untermensch to be ‘removed’ for both ‘rational’ and ‘scientific’ grounds that you and other right-wing creeps decide to apply.

  31. #31 windy
    November 6, 2006

    I think this paper doesn’t say what most commenting seem to think it does. I got the same impression from the abstract as Jason Malloy did from the paper above – that the paper is specifically pointing out that the relationship between IQ and life expectancy doesn’t hold in sub-Saharan Africa (“They also show that an average IQ has a very large and significant effect on population health but not in the evolutionarily familiar sub-Saharan Africa.” emp. mine)

    And how would this work? Does the author mean to say that selection has extinguished fitness-related variation in IQ in Africa, but has not had time to do so in modern societies where the set of problems is different? Fine, but when did the difference set in?

    Did life in Paleolithic, Neolithic or medieval Europe pose significantly more evolutionary novel problems than life in modern Ethiopia? If not, was the IQ difference created by positive selection in the last couple of hundred years?

    And apparently, intelligence helps you avoid booze, cigarettes and junk food, but does not help you avoid HIV.

  32. #32 Sleazeweazel
    November 6, 2006

    Ethiopians in Minnesota do well for the same reason that immigrants from other ethnic groups do well, because they had the brains and courage to try something new. Their children are smarter too due to the evolutionary bottleneck effect of a small founder group. It is speciation in action!

    As a child growing up in Washington DC I had occasion to meet actual Africans at the Smithsonian and elsewhere. I was invariably impressed by their intelligence, poise, and excellent command of English. I found this very difficult to reconcile with the black Americans who surrounded me in everyday life. I knew that all such black people came originally from Africa, but supposed that perhaps the “real” Africans were from a different tribe? (human diversity is far greater in Africa than elsewhere) It was only later that I understood that the real difference was that the brightest of the bright had come voluntarily whereas those who had been forced represented a broad cross section of Africans whose ancestors were dumb enough or slow enough to get caught.

    Please note that nothing that I am saying here should be construed to mean that a given individual of any given race is more or less intelligent than anyone else, simply that neither individuals nor groups are equal in every respect, and that those differences are the result of evolution.

    Those who co-evolve in situ with all that surrounds them have little incentive for innovation. It may take some intelligence to know the names of the birds you eat, or how to avoid being eaten by a crocodile, but it requires a far greater degree of intelligence to confront novel circumstances. It should come as no surprise that small human groups with limited gene pools who were rapidly spreading across the entire earth should quickly evolve toward higher intelligence.

    Can anyone possibly suppose that the intellectual rigors facing a nomadic band of ice age mammoth hunters following the edge of a retreating glacier can be compared to those of an Ethiopian farmer with a donkey The only lifestyle requiring less innate intelligence would be that of a government cubicle worker, or perhaps a tenured professor.

    Do Gould and Diamond really suppose that evolution suddenly stopped as soon as we became human (whenever that was!)? Or that all humans are of equal intelligence? Please excuse me while I remove a flying monkey from my rectum. Such views are a blatant example of political ideology trumping science.

    There is only one experiment worth citing, and that is life itself. Use whatever data set you wish, socioeconomic status, health, wealth, educational attainment, crime rates, IQ, or longevity, and the results are the same. Repeat the experiment with the same people in different places. Try to skew the results with social programs. Try anything you want and the results will be the same. Equality may be the holy grail of reformers, and I applaud their efforts, but do not be surprised when they inevitably fail.

    Sleazeweazel

  33. #33 carlman23
    November 6, 2006

    “IQ (g) is the most widely accepted measure of intelligence in the research areas of cognitive abilities, cognitive science, and education.”

    Way to posit the argumentum ad populum. It also happens to be one of the more controversial measures of ANYTHING. Studies have consistenly shown that so called ‘IQ’ is not inherent nor unchangeable. People seem to have a problem in understanding that something that is found to be highly-heritable says nothing about whether that trait is fixed or plastic within an individual. Height, for example is highly heritable, but extremely influenced by environment and nutrition.

    I’d even question the reliability of twin studies and the 0.9 genetic correlation score. Think about it, you HAVE to have a greater than average income level, and a stable familial environment to adopt. Isn’t that biasing so-called ‘twins raised in DIFFERENT environments’ studies towards having MORE than averagely similar environments?

  34. #34 Will Von Wizzlepig
    November 6, 2006

    Reading that initial entry by Kanazawa made me think of the Postmodern Essay Generator: http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo

    A wonderful diversion from seriousness. See the informational block just after the end of the references.

    Considering the content, this is pretty much the same as the ‘engineers’ who proved that a bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly- while not actually true, the fact that people believe it seals the case, that is: Some, who purport to know what they are talking about (or know someone who does), make incorrect assumptions about something, and some people believe and repeat it because they don’t know any better, and have the propensity to believe the claim. And those purporters publish it. And build an empire on it. And generations later, defend it voraciously as it is their heritage now… hmm. Sounds a lot like a completely different favorite topic.

  35. #35 Bob O'H
    November 6, 2006

    The LSE isn’t all bad: it educated Jim Hacker MP. More importantly, it supported Bill Hamilton in the early 60s. In the Department of Sociology!

    Bob

  36. #36 windy
    November 6, 2006

    Can anyone possibly suppose that the intellectual rigors facing a nomadic band of ice age mammoth hunters following the edge of a retreating glacier can be compared to those of an Ethiopian farmer with a donkey

    You are right, the Ethiopian farmer obviously lives in a more evolutionary novel environment than the Paleolithic European hunter-gatherer.

    Speaking of the donkey, why were those paleolithic Europeans too dumb to domesticate any of the animals they hunted? I mean, that would have been an evolutionary novel thing to do.

  37. #37 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    Ethiopians in Minnesota do well for the same reason that immigrants from other ethnic groups do well, because they had the brains and courage to try something new. Their children are smarter too due to the evolutionary bottleneck effect of a small founder group. It is speciation in action!

    Speciation in only one generation–that’s a pretty damned impressive rate there. Perhaps you could explain which genotype correlates with the phenotypes you propose at such a rate?

    A lot of people with brains and courage die trying to escape war, poverty, and genocide. And a lot of people who are lucky manage to escape through sheer chance, whether or not they are especially endowed with those properties.

    So perhaps you should start to demonstrate your correlation by rigorously describing how you ascertain the phenotypes of “brains” and “courage”, the genotypes that you propose correlate with them, the sample size you need to determine the appropriate power to test your hypothesis, and how you are controlling for chance in the cases of people who escaped in the chaos of war in the Horn of Africa. I, for one, will be extremely interested to hear your methodology.

  38. #38 James G
    November 6, 2006

    Oh please carlman, do you really think all psychometricians are morons? Yes you have some valid points, but so do they. Of course heritability goes up when environmental variability goes down, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean we don’t know what we are talking about when we say that height is highly heritable, does it? It is the same with IQ.

    Ther is no way that high-income environment can account for a correlation of .9 because genetically unrelated individuals reared in the same family rarely have IQ correlations above .2, some studies even find zero correlations. You are forgetting that similiar environments causes heritability to go up, not down; and you are confusing absolute similiarity (both high IQ) with correlation.

    I don’t think my ad populum argument is any different than the ones used by evolutionary biologists against ID crackpots. The reason evolution is popular is the same reason IQ is popular, it gives you a fruitful research program. If the thing you were studying were “not real”, you would not expect it to yield any interesting results. That is the ultimate justification for pursuing any research program.

  39. #39 Julie Stahlhut
    November 6, 2006

    I’d love to know the methods that were used to test IQ in sub-Saharan Africa. Were the tests administered by people who had strong familiarity with the appropriate cultures and languages? In how many of these cultures were the subjects even familiar with the concept of an IQ test?

    If you asked me “How would you move Mount Fuji?”, my first response would probably be “Who the hell cares?” Okay, obviously I don’t think like a prospective Microsoft employee, but it’s not beyond imagination that an intelligent, perceptive, rational adult would have a similar response to the “What color shirt is Jim wearing?” example if s/he had never experienced that kind of questioning before.

  40. #40 Shiftlessbum
    November 6, 2006

    Jim G;

    “Some groups of people in Africa really do have IQ’s in the 60s. It is sad, but true. And yes it is mostly due to malnutrition.”

    Then you say;

    “No one is saying Africans are too dumb to live, rather they are as dumb as the entire human race was not too long ago, and they simply haven’t developed past that point.”

    Which is it? Malnutrition or evolution?

  41. #41 Carolyn the Red
    November 6, 2006

    How about my favourite argument against population differences being genetic: The Flynn effect.

    In the same population groups, IQ scores have been increasing over time. Scandinavians are smarter than their grandparents, so are Israelis, and so on. It doesn’t matter where the population is on the comparative charts, it seems people test higher every generation. It’s a big change, too.

    What exactly this means, I don’t know, though I speculate that whatever specific skills are being tested on an IQ test improve as a culture has more exposure to them.

  42. #42 carlman23
    November 6, 2006

    “Oh please carlman, do you really think all psychometricians are morons?”

    No I don’t. I don’t bother with what kind of person the ‘psychometrician’ is, only the content, assumptions and validity of particular studies. That’s called scientific rigour. I’ve seen psychology studies that I’ve agreed with like I’ve seen biology studies I thought were junk.

    “You are forgetting that similiar environments causes heritability to go up, not down…”

    Of course I’m not, as this is the crux of my argument. Twins raised in similar environments (that are assumed to be different) will appear to have a higher heritability.

  43. #43 Mong H Tan, PhD
    November 6, 2006

    Hello, Pharyngula Readers-Thinkers, Everybody, Mind, and Spirit! 🙂

    Please wake up and be serious: Didn’t I point out that the LSE was associated with Bad Science of the Dawkinsian kind–Genetic Determinism, Scientism–here, Religious credulity and the recent spate of godly ‘science’ (ScienceBlogsUSA; July 25), with the 30th anniversary publication of Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene?

    Recently, there was another Bad Science article coming out of the LSE, which I also noticed here, All men will have big willies (BadScienceUK; October 22).

    If Dawkins–a pseudo-Darwinist–could run around spreading his Evolutionism, Scientism (especially in The Selfish Gene, and now The God Delusion) as a Darwinian Science, why wouldn’t Kanazawa–a socioeconomics theorist, not even a scientist nor psychologist–do likewise, as Herrnstein and Murray did in The Bell Curve (1994)?

    Thank you all for your kind attention and cooperation in this matter–just a food for thought, from a self-introspective Darwinist evolutionist perspective. Happy reading, thinking, scrutinizing, and enlightening! 🙂

    Best wishes, Mong 11/6/6usct1:39p; author Gods, Genes, Conscience and Gods, Genes, Conscience: Global Dialogues Now; a cyberspace hermit-philosopher of Modern Mind, whose works are based on the current advances in interdisciplinary science and integrative psychology of Science and Religion worldwide; ethically, morally; metacognitively, and objectively.

  44. #44 Markus
    November 6, 2006

    Wouldn’t this be a big reason to promote equality in education, nutrition and general health?

    Like so many ‘economists’, they’d prefer to leave the 3rd world alone, unless we need cheap labor to exploit.

  45. #45 Steve_C
    November 6, 2006

    Move along. Nothing to see here. Ignore the train wreck.

  46. #46 llewelly
    November 6, 2006

    Mong, you conflate Dawkins with ideas which Dawkins would find illogical and repellent. Further, you do so in a manner that indicates you asume your readers will fail to read Dawkins (or this article).

  47. #47 James G
    November 6, 2006

    “Which is it? Malnutrition or evolution?”

    About half and half. Like I was saying, the two are hard to seperate since they both cause each other. I used the word “mostly malnutrition” to mean the reason their IQ’s are in the 60s is mostly malnutrition. If they got proper nutrition, I doubt you would find a large population with average IQ’s below 75 or so.

  48. #48 Tommykey
    November 6, 2006

    In the 1890’s, the Ethiopians defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adowa. So, if the Ethiopians are functionally retarded, what does that say about Italians?

  49. #49 Alon Levy
    November 6, 2006

    Why couldn’t the colder, more rugged climates of Europe and Asia provided more novel challenges that the lush jungles of africa?

    Because they didn’t. Most of the IQ gap between Europe and Africa developed after World War Two. IQ in the developed world didn’t increase by about 20% in 60 years because more intelligent people had more kids.

    And evidently, once you take the African out of Africa, the gap grows even smaller. Unless there was some selective breeding among black slaves, there’s no genetic explanation of why African IQs average in the 70s and African-American IQs average at 93, growing to 100 once you control for poverty.

  50. #50 Mnemosyne
    November 6, 2006

    “While our ancestors in the African savannah may have partaken in psychotropic drugs and intoxicating substances (since their use is known among contemporary hunter-gatherers), they certainly did not have anything nearly as potent and, as a result, as potentially dangerous as crack cocaine or vodka.”

    They have crack cocaine in sub-Saharan Africa? Or is the writer thinking of, um, a different population of Africans on a completely different continent?

    As an aside, it’s amazing how any talk of IQ brings the “No, really, they ARE all inferior to me, the pinnacle of human evolution!” types out of the woodwork.

  51. #51 mndean
    November 6, 2006

    Mnemosyne,
    The fact they come out of the woodwork makes for excellent killfile exercise. Three more hit the bin just now, and one I have dangling on the rim, just waiting for his next response.

  52. #52 Bartholomew
    November 6, 2006

    Kanazawa is just rehashing Richard Lynn of Ulster University. This 2003 Guardian piece gives the background:

    Lynn claims that samples from 50 countries reveal that the average IQ in Africa is 70. Black South Africans, for example, have an average IQ of 66 – slightly smarter than the sub-moronic Ethiopians at 63. IQ, he claims, is an accurate measure of intrinsic intelligence, which means that Africans are thicker than the rest of us, and because “intelligence is a determinant of earnings”, black South Africans and Ethiopians are poor.

  53. #53 Pygmy Loris
    November 6, 2006

    Man, I can’t believe anyone would make some of the claims in the comments here. Even among MZ twins that are reared apart IQ correlations are not .9, but more like .8. Also, MZ twins share the maternal womb environment which is thought to account for a large proportion of the correlation all by itself.

    Besides, the very idea that most of Africa is mildly mentally retarded is ridiculous. Repeated analyses of IQ show that SES, parents’ education, nutrition etc. etc. etc. exert enough influence on IQ that the genetic component becomes meaningless.

    Also, who says IQ is linked to success? I really can’t believe that GW Bush would do that well on an IQ test, but he’s president of the US.

  54. #54 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 6, 2006

    Kanazawa seems to be the type of researcher that tries to research as many odd theories as possible, probably for the usual reasons of course. “Human Sexual Dimorphism in Size May Be Triggered by Environmental Cues”, “Social Sciences Are Branches of Biology”, “You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover: Evidence that Cheaters May Look Different from Cooperators”, et cetera. It would be remarkable to see any of it used later.

    I have often wondered what exact properties IQ tests test for. My own score, admittedly in sundry tests, have gone up about 35 points as I learned how to, or rather how not to, answer them. It is all in picking the expected solution of the possibles. One unusually wet after-party night I had to pass a few minutes waiting and chose to use them to take a small web test to stay awake because I was *too drunk for gaming*. I scored but 9 points lower than usual – did that make me intellectually competent, or lucky? I don’t think so.

    “most studies that I’ve read in the field of evolutionary psychology still operate on the old Selectionist model where everything you see in a species must have been there because of adaptation”

    Ah, what might explain why Kanazawa discusses domain-specific adaptation models, while I have seen neuroscientists blogs detailing the pros-and-cons between domain-general and domain-specific language et cetera models seemingly without having any definitive evidence either way.

  55. #55 spencer
    November 6, 2006

    The only lifestyle requiring less innate intelligence would be that of a government cubicle worker, or perhaps a tenured professor.

    Maybe you should try getting tenure, dumbshit. Then let us know how little intelligence it takes.

  56. #56 C. Schuyler
    November 6, 2006

    I think that if you were among a large group of people whose avg. IQ was in the mildly retarded range, you would have little trouble noticing the difference between this group and any population with a normal distribution of intelligence. For this reason, when told that this or that Black African country (and it’s always a Black country) shows an avg. IQ in that subnormal range, I have to wonder on what evidence this assertion is based. It’s not the “take” I get after listening to or reading about or observing Black Africans. To put it a little differently: why should I take such assertions seriously? I’m not saying that intelligence can’t be measured, or that IQ tests don’t provide a roughly satisfactory measure of intelligence, or that g is a meritless concept (I don’t know whether it is or isn’t). I’m just saying that, on its face, I find this kind of estimate of IQ to be incredible.

  57. #57 C. Schuyler
    November 6, 2006

    Yes, what I’ve just uttered is an argument from incredulity. All I can respond is that some stuff is incredible for excellent reasons.

  58. #58 SLC
    November 6, 2006

    Re Pygmy Loris

    Actually, Bush has a higher IQ then John Kerry and performed well above average on his college boards (a score of 1217 on the SAT). The problem with Bush is not that he’s stupid. It’s that he’s intellectually incurious. If anything, the Bush presidency is an example that innate intelligence does not necessarily a good president make (James Earl Carter, the worst president in American history, probably had the highest IQ of any president, save perhaps Jefferson and Hoover).

  59. #59 Arun
    November 6, 2006

    The easiest way to see that IQ doesn’t measure something intrinsic is by reading up on the Flynn effect – which is that unrenormalized IQ scores in Western countries have increased by about a standard deviation in 30 years – which means the number of super-geniuses should have greatly increased (remember the properties of the Bell Curve), but are famously absent. (see http://arunsmusings.blogspot.com/2006/03/european-iqs.html for an example).

    What does IQ measure? IQ measures the ranking of a person on particular kinds of tests among his/her cohorts in a particular population. The results are really meaningful in a particular place and time.

    What I mean is that a person from 30 years ago who had a IQ of 100 and a person today who has a IQ of 100 are not comparable without assumptions. (The person from 30 years ago would have a raw score corresponding to 85 on today’s test). A person from Great Britain and a person from Somalia who score 100 on the test are not comparable (too many uncontrolled environmental differences).

    What one can say is, e.g., that if a bunch of GIs from Alabama take a IQ test today, and one scores 90 and another scores 110, then in the specific types of intelligence that IQ tests exercises, the person who scores 110 is more intelligent.

  60. #60 Alon Levy
    November 6, 2006

    There’s also research that shows that the heritability of IQ increases with SES. In the US, low-SES populations have an IQ heritability of 0.1, and the main predictors of IQ are entirely environmental. Middle- and high-SES populations have a heritability of 0.72, with the rest of the variability being due to random variation rather than environmental effects.

  61. #61 James G
    November 6, 2006

    Arun, yes you have a good point. IQ has to be assessed in some kind of context. Within that context, it will have some predictive power and some validity. How generalizable is it? Can it be generalized between nations? We don’t really know, but that is what Kanazawa is trying to do. Whats wrong with that?

    You point to the Flynn effect and try to show that it means that IQ doesn’t measure anything “intrinsic”. I’m not sure what you mean by intrinsic but I will take it to mean you don’t think IQ measures anything “real”. I would say the Flynn effect shows that theories of IQ need some work, and indeed they do. But no scientific theory is perfect and as Kuhn showed us, until we have something better to replace them with, flawed theories have to stick around. In fact, “IQ” is really an outdated notion and is only used by contemporary researchers in a non-technical kind of way. Researchers today would instead talk about general intelligence, visual intelligence, crystallized intelligence, etc. You should read what Flynn has to say about the effect he himself discovered to learn why he does not think it completely undermines the notion of general intelligence.

  62. #62 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    How generalizable is it? Can it be generalized between nations? We don’t really know, but that is what Kanazawa is trying to do. Whats wrong with that?

    Nothing is wrong with that, but that’s not what Kanazawa is doing. You are describing the process of validating an instrument or test or measurement in the different context. Kanazawa is using the test in that context as if it had already been validated in the way you described, and applying that measurement to draw conclusions about people, rather than first ensuring that the measurement is valid before proceeding to drawing those conclusions.

  63. #63 Ronald Brak
    November 6, 2006

    Kanazawa? Hmmm… You know, that name sounds a bit Japanese. And which country in the world has the highest life expectancy? Gee, it’s Japan. Wow, Kanazawa has just proved that his own ethnic group is the smartest in the world. What were the chances of that happening?

  64. #64 Darkrose
    November 6, 2006

    So, what I’ve learned from this thread is that either:

    a) As an African American who did just fine on my College Boards and came out of Stanford with a B+ average, I apparently don’t exist, or;

    b) I should thank the slaveowner who raped my female ancestor way back when, because I’m only smart due to my “white” genes–how do you tell which ones those are, BTW? I don’t remember the Human Genome Project mentioning that…

    c) Or, as usual, discussions on race and IQ always bring out the “but we’re not racist–even though we’ve always known that those darkies aren’t as smart as we are–it’s science!” crew.

    My money’s on c).

  65. #65 James G
    November 6, 2006

    Darkrose,

    A) would say you are very rare, not nonexistant. Do you feel rare? I certainly feel rare being a smart white person, I can only assume you would feel even more rare as a smart black person, if only because there are less black people in America…

    I think just as you argue that belief in racial differences in average intelligence is the result of racist history, I can argue that disbelief in racial differences in average intelligence is due to that same racist history.

    What IQ means to me is that I would rather hang out with or work with people who are close to me in IQ, and not people who are the same race. But if you look at what people actually do, how they attend church, how they sit in the cafeteria, they often self-segregate based on race more than anything else.

    To me, IQ destroys the need to worry about race. You can go from saying “I don’t like black people, they are dumb” to saying “I don’t like low-IQ people, they are dumb” and be a lot more accurate, because now you get to keep all the smart black people and get rid of all the dumb white people.

    People are only fixated on race because it pushes their buttons and has a lot to do with history. You could just as easily talk about the high-IQ members and low-IQ members of a middle-school classroom, and in that context, no one really has a problem with IQ, because it is necessary to explain the huge differences that exist between people in academic ability, differences that education and capitalism both serve to magnify. Education because high-IQ individuals get much more out of education than low-IQ individuals, such that a narrow bell curve in 3rd grade becomes a veritable mountain by high school. Capitalism because it is a winner-take all system, where slight differences in ability (think betamax vs. VHS) cause large differences in income. That is why IQ is important to study.

  66. #66 miz_geek
    November 6, 2006

    I’m with Jason Malloy and MarkXIV. I don’t think the article looks like it particularly talks about the relationship between health and IQ in Africa at all. It might have been interesting to discuss his *actual* argument, though. Is all of his data on the country level, for example, or does he have any epidemiological studies within a single country?

  67. #67 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    I think just as you argue that belief in racial differences in average intelligence is the result of racist history, I can argue that disbelief in racial differences in average intelligence is due to that same racist history.

    You can argue anything you please; doesn’t make it true, though. You still have to demonstrate that any differences a) measure what you claim they measure (construct and external validity), and b) exist independently of racist history (to eliminate tremendous confounding), and so far, you haven’t done either.

    What IQ means to me is that I would rather hang out with or work with people who are close to me in IQ

    Heh. Reminds me of the time, pre-Mr. Raven, when I joined Mensa to meet guys. Now *that* was a train wreck! It’s like they say about Alaska: “the odds are good, but the goods are odd”.

  68. #68 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    I don’t think the article looks like it particularly talks about the relationship between health and IQ in Africa at all.

    I agree it would be better to argue from the actual article; too bad my library only carried the journal up through May; else I’d like to fisk it myself. But this sentence from the abstract suggests that that relationship is exactly what he’s talking about:

    The data collectively suggest that individuals in wealthier and more egalitarian societies live longer and stay healthier, not because they are wealthier or more egalitarian but because they are more intelligent.

    It’s a single-author paper, so it’s reasonable to assume he wrote that sentence himself, and that he stands behind it.

  69. #69 windy
    November 6, 2006

    I don’t think the article looks like it particularly talks about the relationship between health and IQ in Africa at all. It might have been interesting to discuss his *actual* argument, though.

    He says there is no relationship in Africa as some correctly pointed out. However, he attributes it to a completely weird idea about modern Africa being “evolutionarily familiar”.

    If IQ does not boost survival in Africa, and the modern African environment is representative of the ancient savannah, how ever did humans evolve intelligence IN AFRICA?

  70. #70 windy
    November 6, 2006

    I agree it would be better to argue from the actual article; too bad my library only carried the journal up through May; else I’d like to fisk it myself.

    I can email it if you want a copy. Where to?

  71. #71 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    Thanks, windy–I’ll post my review of the article on my blog.

    please send it to zooinformatics AT gmail DOT com — thanks!

  72. #72 David Harmon
    November 6, 2006

    Well, behind the civil wars and malnutrition, there’s the effects of climate change. As I understand things, this contributes to both issues, as the carrying capacity of various regions drops out from beneath their populations!

    As far as disease, I’d guess that Africa really is a special case, in an unfortunate way. Consider: It’s common observation that part of why “invasive species” do better in their new homes than in the old, is because they’re leaving behind a goodly part of their parasite load. Humans are of course, the ultimate invasive species — and last I heard, the best bet was that we came from… Africa. In other words, on top of their more current problems, the native Africans are dealing with the specific selection of diseases and parasites that evolved to harass Homo sapiens in the first place!

  73. #73 Graculus
    November 6, 2006

    Considering the content, this is pretty much the same as the ‘engineers’ who proved that a bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly- while not actually true, the fact that people believe it seals the case,

    A minor point: The story is ture, but incompletely translated. It should end with “as we understand the laws of aerodynamics”. It was, in fact, a comment on the lack of understanding of small scale aerodynamics. Like the story about King Canute and the tide, the story has been twisted pretty much 180 from it’s origin.

    Even without the problem of whether the IQ tests are valid, there is a major problem with this. Has anyone ever demonstrated that intelligence is both heritable and positively selected for? Has anyone ever demonstrated that we are, in fact, smarter than our ancestors?

  74. #74 Clastito
    November 6, 2006

    Well, this is a problem with England. They continue to have instances where their conservative chauvinism gets the best of them and churns out some bullshit theory presented as science. The worrying fact is that an editorial board and a I guess a whole academic community of economical scientists at London thought this work to be “science” (probably right wing obnoxious snobs who like to think they are increibly smart and this, the fittest). Science it is not, since the causal realtionship that is the centerpiece of the idea is not proven by the data, period.
    And, of course, they call it “evolutionary” by thinking that “evolutionary theory” is simply all about adaptationism and who is “better”… therefore this kind of crap is made to look all the more serious, as something we may merely expect according to “evolutionary theory”…the laws of competition and advantages that their sacred intellectual ancestors laid down in the 19th century (yeah, it’s a bit dated, isn’t it) .
    As long as crap like this is presented as “evolutionary”, england will present quite a soft underbelly indeed for the creationists to attack

  75. #75 Arun
    November 6, 2006

    IQ measures the ranking of people for certain kinds of abilities within a cohort. The ranking is real – it is to a good extent repeatable, no one will drastically change rank. Given a set of reasonably similar people a ranking makes sense. But a rank is not intrinsic, it depends on the context. A person who tops his high school class but is average at college is a common experience. The group within which he is ranked is what has changed, nothing within the person. The rank at school is real, the rank at college is real. “Not intrinsic” does not mean “not real”.

  76. #76 windy
    November 6, 2006

    The worrying fact is that an editorial board and a I guess a whole academic community of economical scientists at London thought this work to be “science” (probably right wing obnoxious snobs who like to think they are increibly smart and this, the fittest)

    Actually it was in the “British journal of health psychology.” Nice rant, though.

  77. #77 Caledonian
    November 6, 2006

    Has anyone ever demonstrated that intelligence is both heritable and positively selected for? Has anyone ever demonstrated that we are, in fact, smarter than our ancestors?

    But that’s precisely the point: in psychology, “intelligence” does not refer to “smart”.

  78. #78 RavenT
    November 6, 2006

    Now that I’ve got the article and have begun reading it, it will take a couple of days to analyze. Flipping through it, though, I must say I’m looking forward to reading this publication from his references section next:

    Kanazawa, S., & Kovar, J. L. (2004). Why beautiful people are more intelligent. Intelligence, 32, 227-243.

  79. #79 PZ Myers
    November 6, 2006

    I look forward to your critique, especially since it means I won’t have to read that piece of crap paper. Let me know when it is posted!

  80. #80 Madhu
    November 7, 2006

    Wow! I came to this posting and thread late, and am rather dumbfounded… by the LSE, by the journal publishing this piece of work, and by many of the comments on this thread!

    Since I do have access to the journal, I’ve just downloaded the PDF and am amazed at some of the scatterplots and their apparent interpretations. I’ll try to get through it critically in the near future. Better yet, this paper might be good fodder for my Biometry graduate class to have a go at! Seems like a classic example of making too much out of partial correlations found through a lot of data mining. Might be a good way to generate discussion of such topics as “correlation is not causation” and the difference between statistical and biological significance.

    And BTW, having skimmed through the article just now, I can verify that PZ’s interpretation of the abstract is indeed the correct one.

    Thank you PZ for pointing this article out, and I too look forward to RavenT’s critique.

  81. #81 James G
    November 7, 2006

    “Has anyone ever demonstrated that intelligence is both heritable and positively selected for? Has anyone ever demonstrated that we are, in fact, smarter than our ancestors?”

    uhhh humans exist yo…monkey…human…more intelligent.

    Man…I guess I will never understand why some people are so anti-evolutionary psychology. Seems like common sense to me. As Dawkin’s says, it’s not a random process…if men like titties there has got to be a reason…

    Arun,

    Yes I see what you are saying, a rank is not absolute, it is relative. But I don’t think that is a big problem for arguments like Kanazawa’s. He doesn’t need to establish that Ethiopia is “dumb” on some absolute scale. What he needs to establish is that they are “dumber” that some other country that also has better health, and that in general countries that are smarter are healthier. The relativization of properties is not such a big deal when you realize that most properties are relative.

    Madhu,

    Granted Kanazawa’s analysis relies on partial correlations, controlling for other factors, etc, but these methods are common in social science. One does not do experiments with nations. The point I assume Kanazawa is making is that IQ explains national public health better than income inequality and economic development, and even more surprisingly, that income inequality and economic development do not predict public health once IQ is taken into account. Now to me that sounds like a pretty interesting finding, regardless of whether his just-so-story about intelligence and adaptation is correct. I don’t see that his argument really depends on that story.

  82. #82 N. Eanderthal
    November 7, 2006

    Science upset GOD people GOOD!

    Science upset liberal people DOO DOO!

    “I look forward to your critique, especially since it means I won’t have to read that piece of crap paper”

    No read BAD paper BAD paper POISON BRAIN! Only READ thing already know agree with!

  83. #83 thwaite
    November 7, 2006

    A quick search at human-nature.com on Kanazawa turned up some background of possible interest:

    No, It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That by Satoshi Kanazawa
    Abstract: For cultural, social, and institutional reasons, Asians cannot make original contributions to basic science. I therefore doubt Miller’s prediction …
    human-nature.com/ep/articles/ep04120128.html

    Asian Creativity: A Response to Satoshi Kanazawa by Geoffrey Miller
    Abstract: This article responds to Satoshi Kanazawa’s thoughtful and entertaining comments about my article concerning the Asian future of evolutionary …
    human-nature.com/ep/articles/ep04129137.html

    Can the social scientists be saved? Should they? by Satoshi Kanazawa
    I began my graduate career in the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington, where the great sociobiologist Pierre van den Berghe taught all …
    human-nature.com/ep/reviews/ep04102106.html

  84. #84 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 7, 2006

    “(The person from 30 years ago would have a raw score corresponding to 85 on today’s test).”

    Shoot! Forgot about that one – now I wonder even more what the learning effect is in those tests. Works either way – the tests should change too as we learn more.

    “It was only later that I understood that the real difference was that the brightest of the bright had come voluntarily whereas those who had been forced represented a broad cross section of Africans whose ancestors were dumb enough or slow enough to get caught.”

    “Roots” gave the opposite impression – that it was beneficial to be intellectually agile and robust to survive, due to the bottleneck of hardships during transit, culture chock and slavery.

  85. #85 idlemind
    November 7, 2006

    Thanks, thwaite. The first two articles clear up just where Kanazawa is coming from and how much weight to give him. The sequence is tragicomic, overall; Miller’s response is almost too kind. I can’t easily read the original article, so it’s fortunate that those readings have nearly eliminated any desire on my part to hunt it down.

  86. #86 Erik Ringmar
    November 7, 2006

    Returning to Africa for a moment, and speaking as a social scientist, it seems to me the basic flaw of the argument is the assumption that development has something to do with intelligence, ie. factors on the level of individuals. On the contrary, development is largely about institutional processes — the workings of governments, economic markets, public opinion, the judicial system — and none of these are helpfully explained in terms of the features of individuals (IQ or whatever).

    I would turn the argument around. People in many places in Africa have to be very clever and astute in order to survive precisely because their institutions are such a mess. People in the West can afford to be lazy and ignorant because their institutions are so efficient. After all, who really knows why money comes out of the wall when you put a plastic card into a slot in it?

  87. #87 False Prophet
    November 7, 2006

    In the 1890’s, the Ethiopians defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adowa. So, if the Ethiopians are functionally retarded, what does that say about Italians?

    Posted by: Tommykey | November 6, 2006 02:55 PM

    Well, like the War Nerd said, we’re efficient killers one-on-one, but put us in uniform and we can’t wait to throw our rifles away and hide ’til the bombs stop falling. 😉

  88. #88 DrFrank
    November 7, 2006

    Yes, clatisto, let’s insult the entire of England for the output of the LSE. A similar argument would to call all Americans morons for the existence of Bob Jones University.

    And for a country ruled by Shrub et al I find it profoundly ironic to accuse us of `conservative chauvinism’.

    Let’s keep the insults to the specific people that actually deserve it, yes, rather than making incredibly broad generalisations?

    There are plenty of people in the UK, myself being one of them, who are willing to stand up for the teaching of proper science.

  89. #89 James G
    November 7, 2006

    “I would turn the argument around. People in many places in Africa have to be very clever and astute in order to survive precisely because their institutions are such a mess. People in the West can afford to be lazy and ignorant because their institutions are so efficient. After all, who really knows why money comes out of the wall when you put a plastic card into a slot in it?”

    Boy, people just love this argument don’t they? Yeah, and I’ll tell you, spiders have to be really clever to make those webs, man I couldn’t do that! And those penguins, wow, how do they survive in an environment that is so challenging? They must be super-smart. In fact, when you think about it, you realize that humans must be the dumbest animals on earth! I mean hell; they need houses, computers, pre-packed food, beds, and showers just to survive!

    I guess all that traditional emphasis on language ability, reading and writing, logical thinking, abstract thinking, reflection as signs of intelligence…that was all just a bunch of elitist horseshit wasn’t it? Those Greeks were just babbling about a bunch of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, weren’t they? Bunch of slave-owners! What a lucky stroke that the west has finally turned out so well, building on that tripe…

    The sad irony is that some of the most intelligent, well educated people on the planet can have such a poor understanding of their own intelligence and such a lack of respect for it too. Erik actually seems to believe that intelligence has nothing to do with society…because society is just a bunch of institutions somebody else put there and you can’t do anything about it. Curse that society! If only people could get together and make their own country, without that darn society getting in the way.

  90. #90 windy
    November 7, 2006

    Yeah, and I’ll tell you, spiders have to be really clever to make those webs, man I couldn’t do that! And those penguins, wow, how do they survive in an environment that is so challenging? They must be super-smart.

    Are you arguing that people in developing countries survive by instinct, and we in industrial countries survive by our wits? Have you even visited any developing country?

    I guess all that traditional emphasis on language ability, reading and writing, logical thinking, abstract thinking, reflection as signs of intelligence…that was all just a bunch of elitist horseshit wasn’t it?

    And where did these traits (with the exception of reading and writing) first evolve?

    Erik actually seems to believe that intelligence has nothing to do with society…because society is just a bunch of institutions somebody else put there and you can’t do anything about it.

    Why are North Koreans so poor? Did all the smart genes migrate south?

    I’m all for looking at biological differences between humans, but could we please have that discussion under a more serious topic than Kanazawa’s moronic suggestion that modern Africa=the ancient savannah?

  91. #91 RavenT
    November 7, 2006

    The sad irony is that some of the most intelligent, well educated people on the planet can have such a poor understanding of their own intelligence and such a lack of respect for it too.

    So we should respect it, but we shouldn’t, you know, actually use it to critically examine any of your underlying assumptions?

  92. #92 James G
    November 7, 2006

    Are you arguing that people in developing countries survive by instinct, and we in industrial countries survive by our wits? Have you even visited any developing country?

    So we should respect it, but we shouldn’t, you know, actually use it to critically examine any of your underlying assumptions?

    I am trying to get across how the ability to do just that kind of abstract critical thinking is part of what we mean by intelligence and that is a good portion of what IQ tests measure. These arguments like “look how intelligent these people are, look what they need to do to survive” miss the point. Since all humans appear perfectly capable of surviving in natural environments, perhaps it is varying levels of ability to engage in abstract critical thinking that separates some people from others?

    The point is we need to think about how to get these people the skills they need to benefit from the modern economy, not praise them for their medieval coping skills. If they have low IQ’s, that is a factor we need to take into account if we are going to help them.

    Humans are indeed very equal in most respects, and that is why IQ tests focus on specific applications of intelligence that highlight the differences.

    And no I’m not saying genetic intelligence is the be-all-end-all of historical determinism, just that it is one of the few factors we have some inkling how to measure, and that it has real meaning for anyone seriously interested in education.

  93. #93 Kansas Anarchist
    November 7, 2006

    Man…I guess I will never understand why some people are so anti-evolutionary psychology. Seems like common sense to me. As Dawkin’s says, it’s not a random process…if men like titties there has got to be a reason…

    Ironic, because you’ve given a short example of just what’s wrong with evolutionary psychology. One takes some observable, and then say “There’s got to be a reason!” and then invent an adaptationist story to paper over one’s ignorance.

    We don’t know fully how the genes and regulatory systems interact with maternal environments to produce a human brain, and we don’t know fully how that human brain works to produce a human mind. We’re two major conceptual breakthroughs short of being able to apply any sort of evolutionary reasoning in a rigorous way with respect to psychology, and yet the evolutionary psychologists and their boosters seem blissfully unaware that, in the absence of relevant data, they’ll end up establishing cultural norms and prejudices as unarguable biological ‘facts’.

  94. #94 Clastito
    November 7, 2006

    Dr Frnk,
    Bth th K nd th S r th mn src f ths brnd f bd “vltnry psychlgy” thrs. Th thr prblm s crtnsm: qt mnfst n th S, lrkng n th K. My ntntn ws nt t sy tht ll ppl frm bth cntrs r nt ths… bt t mny r. blv bth rlgs nd scntfc bnnrs f sprrty r dffrnt sds f th sm cn f chvnsm
    C’mn PZ, ‘v stppd rntng gnst yr bdds.

  95. #95 windy
    November 7, 2006

    Man…I guess I will never understand why some people are so anti-evolutionary psychology.

    Where is the evolutionary psychology in this thread? I must have missed it – I like to assume that even EP has standards, however low.

  96. #96 James G
    November 7, 2006

    We’re two major conceptual breakthroughs short of being able to apply any sort of evolutionary reasoning in a rigorous way with respect to psychology, and yet the evolutionary psychologists and their boosters seem blissfully unaware that, in the absence of relevant data, they’ll end up establishing cultural norms and prejudices as unarguable biological ‘facts’.

    In response to your first statement I would point out that all sciences depend on assumptions about the nature of processes studied by sciences at lower levels. Chemistry makes assumptions about physics, biology makes assumptions about chemistry, psychology makes assumptions about biology, etc. Obviously EPs makes a lot of assumptions about biology, evolution, the brain, how genes and environment affect the brain, how the brain creates the mind, etc., but they think their subject matter is important enough go ahead and make these assumptions and try to get the field going, instead of waiting till all the facts are in from biology or cognitive science, which may be never.

    Secondly, I think most EPs are motivated by the desire to counter folk wisdom about the nature of morality, behavior, etc. They want to counter these “cognitive biases” and explain to people why they do what they do, in the hopes that this will give people more control over their behavior. They believe it is better for people to take a scientific, evolutionary view of human nature than some kind of religious or folk view. I would think people on this blog of all people would be behind this effort.

    Just because EP might be wrong about some of its current thinking on human nature, this doesn’t mean they will establish these inaccurate ideas as permanent cultural norms. Hopefully the basic idea of establishing cultural norms based on science will work to help people change their thinking if the science changes.

  97. #97 Kansas Anarchist
    November 8, 2006

    Obviously EPs makes a lot of assumptions about biology, evolution, the brain, how genes and environment affect the brain, how the brain creates the mind, etc., but they think their subject matter is important enough go ahead and make these assumptions and try to get the field going, instead of waiting till all the facts are in from biology or cognitive science, which may be never.

    In that case, I have some shocking news: their field isn’t that important. Without a secure empirical basis in which to evaluate the biological aspects of psychology, they’re reduced to adaptationist storytelling in order to explain the so-called ‘persistence’ of what may well be transitory cultural norms and prejudices. That is not important research; it is the height of irrelevance.

    Secondly, I think most EPs are motivated by the desire to counter folk wisdom about the nature of morality, behavior, etc. They want to counter these “cognitive biases” and explain to people why they do what they do, in the hopes that this will give people more control over their behavior.

    Unfortunately, you don’t achieve that longed-for goal by unreflectively cataloguing a whole range of culturally common attitudes and ideas and then inventing adaptationist stories to ‘explain’ them.

    They believe it is better for people to take a scientific, evolutionary view of human nature than some kind of religious or folk view. I would think people on this blog of all people would be behind this effort.

    It does not serve the interests of science to be championing pseudoscience, and that’s what evolutionary psychology is at this point. Perhaps someday it will achieve a better level, but it needs some way to seperate out the wheat from the chaff, both in the attitudes it investigates (in determining whether they’re truly cross-cultural and the result of evolutionary processes) and in the adaptationist stories they spin. In neither case have they done the requisite work which would make their investigations rigorous.

    Just because EP might be wrong about some of its current thinking on human nature, this doesn’t mean they will establish these inaccurate ideas as permanent cultural norms. Hopefully the basic idea of establishing cultural norms based on science will work to help people change their thinking if the science changes.

    You misread what I was saying. I’m not saying that EP’s current thinking will be enshrined forever as an unassailable biological fact (although with the unreflective devotion I’ve seen, I am inclined to wonder), but that the process of EP identifies currently common attitudes and then invents adaptationist stories for them, turning them into biological ‘facts’. These, usually retrograde, ideas are then championed by the spokespeople for the vested interests they adhere to, as was done in this paper–if Africans are starving, it’s nothing to do with the fact that $3 goes out for ever $1 of aid, it’s nothing to do with corporate control of resources, it’s nothing to do with the debt trap, it’s nothing to do with IMF privatization plans, etc., it’s because they’re stupid, the whole lot of them! Addressing any further causes would be a waste, and then we can safely retire the issue, knowing that our moral and intellectual superiority can reign unchallenged, because it’s been supported by the ‘scientific evidence’.

  98. #98 pat
    November 10, 2006

    This paper reflects typical logic for silver spoon-fed brats. First we ravage and destroy the social fabric of the continent and when all hell breaks loose we blame it on the stupidity of the natives. We have the exact same thing happening in Iraq; reduce the country to the stone age and then blame the iraqis for being lazy, murderous and not wanting democracy. But I am glad he gets to state his opinion because now I know who not to listen to.

  99. #99 llewelly
    November 10, 2006

    Re Darkrose

    c) Or, as usual, discussions on race and IQ always bring out the “but we’re not racist–even though we’ve always known that those darkies aren’t as smart as we are–it’s science!” crew.
    My money’s on c).

    I agree with you. Same crew seems to come out whenever gender and IQ are discussed. I think of them as the Bell Curve crowd. They are akin to the Phrenologists of our time.

    (disclaimer: I’m neither black nor female.)

  100. #100 James G
    November 12, 2006

    For those still ignorant about the validity of IQ, here is a quote from Jones and Schneider, 2006:

    General-purpose human capital has been the focus of growth research, and it is here that we place our focus in this paper. Fortunately for economists, psychologists spent the 20th century putting a great deal of energy into refining and improving upon one valuable technique for measuring this particular type of human capital: The intelligence test.

    We use Lynn and VanhanenÂ’s (2002) new database of IQ tests from 81 countries–tests given across the entire 20th-century–to create estimates of what Lynn and Vanhanen call “national average IQ.” We use this national average IQ measure in growth regressions that also include as explanatory variables all three-variable combinations of the 21 growth variables that passed Sala-i-Martin’s (1997a,b) robustness test: this implies a total of 1330 regressions. We do so in order to create a high econometric hurdle for the IQ measure. By using such robust control variables, we are able to see if the strong bivariate IQ-growth relationship (R2=43%) vanishes when multiple robust regressors are included in the specification.

    Out of these 1330 regressions, IQ is statistically significant at the 95% level in 99.8% of the regressions, and positive in all regressions. Thus, after giving traditional growth regressors every possibility to span the same econometric space as IQ, IQ is still remarkably robust. Given these strong results, IQ easily passes the BACE (Bayesian averaging of classical estimates) robustness tests proposed by SDM (2004).

    We also evaluate the explanatory power of national average IQ in growth regressions that include Sala-i-Martin’s education measures. Among these 56 education-related regressions, IQ was statistically significant in every one, thus passing not only SDMÂ’s BACE robustness test, but also LeamerÂ’s (1983, 1985) more-demanding extreme bounds test. While one might expect that at least some linear combination of primary, secondary, and higher education measures could eliminate the statistical significance of IQ, we did not find this to be the case. As an additional robustness check, we also show strong results for IQ when OECD countries are completely excluded from the sample. This evidence helps to address the concern that IQ tests are culturally biased in favor of people living in the developed world. And finally, we show that IQ passes LeamerÂ’s extreme bounds test at the 1% level in 455 regressions that use as controls the robust growth variables from SDM (2004). Our IQ-based results bolster the conclusions of Hanushek and Kimko (2000), who found that international mathematics and science test scores from 31 countries were strongly positively correlated with growth; the authors use interpolation methods to expand the sample to a total of 80 countries, with similar results.

    If you guys still think you know some better way to measure intelligence, I’m sure a lot of social scientists and educators would love to hear about it.

  101. #101 Garett
    November 14, 2006

    If you think that Kanazawa is just getting his causation backward, think again.

    Environment surely impacts IQ–Africa has more lead in its gasoline than any other country—but it’s hard to laugh away the results of many adoption studies that show that Asian kids who get adopted by whites turn out to have adult IQ’s more like…….adult Asians. A good survey of this literature is in Arthur Jensen’s book, The g Factor. And the review of Richard Lynn’s new book over at Gene Expression gives another valuable summary….

    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2006/02/world-of-difference-richard-lynn-maps.php

    I should mention I’m coauthor of the paper cited by James G in the post above, and I’m working on a few other papers on this topic….As I show in a new paper, East Asian countries had high IQ’s back when they were dirt poor, so the “Wealth causes IQ” story will need quite a bit of work before it’s ready for prime time….

    And while you’re at it, just Google “Bruce Lahn” or “Neanderthals and Microcephalin”—-it looks like we’ll know a lot more on this topic in just a few more years. Stay tuned…..

  102. #102 Garett
    November 14, 2006

    oops—more lead than any other ‘continent.’ My bad.

  103. #103 chris g
    November 19, 2006

    My sympathies are with Steve C – move along and stop gawping at the train wreck – it only encourages them. However, accident investigators have to get it right. Psychometric intelligence isn’t just relative and culturally biased, it belongs purely in the realm of appearances. Stick a hundred people in a room and then liquidate everyone else on the planet. Those hundred people will still have a mean height, even without anyone there to observe it. They won’t have a mean intelligence, however, because observation of intelligence depends on there being people around to agree what intelligence is in the first place. The hundred survivors would probably fall out over what it was, each of them preferring to define it by a particular ability the individual was good at; if they did manage to agree, it would still be just that – an agreement, a human consensus.

    Saying that particular individuals are more able than other particular individuals at some particular thing – this is one kind of thought process, a judgement, and verifiable in some way. Splitting some of these abilities off (abstraction, logical reasoning, information-processing) and call them “intelligence” is another kind of thought process entirely – a sorting of terms, reached only by human consensus and ultimately subjective. The jumbling together of those two quite different thoughts is the cause of the train crash.

    Historically, Francis Galton thought about human mental abilities by analogy with statistical measurements of height (Quetelet). The problem is (as Ian Hacking has demonstrated) that the height of a human population exists before you calculate the mean, while “mean intelligence” arrives by the reverse process: you establish the mean and then say “Let this be intelligence.” All the early pioneers of psychometrics were quite happy with this situation and acknowledged it. Alfred Binet, Truman Kelley, Cyril Burt, Hans Eysenck – they
    can all be quoted as saying something like “It doesn’t matter how we define intelligence – the important thing is that it can be measured.” Ah yes, of course, because measurement was what gave them status as exact scienctists. However, physicists are a bit more fastidious about making sure that their object of study exists in the first place.

    There is one further consequence for the sceptics, and for black Africans and women who are always on the receiving end of this regularly recurring psychometric garbage. If intelligence only exists as such by human consensus – if it only exists in the realm of appearances – then so too must so-called “intellectual disability.” This “disability” is what everyone, relativists and sceptics and psychometricians alike, take for granted, and it constitutes a reserve tank into which anyone can dip when they seek a justification for their prejudices about other human groups. The answer is: get rid of the reserve tank. Once you understand that people currently identified as disabled because they have an IQ below 60 (say, people with Down’s syndrome or severe autism) have as much to offer the world as you (whichever camp you belong to), then you have a chance of justifying your own worth.

    And, since every “appearance” has its own reality, that’s what the reality of intelligence is: it’s a social value – a status concept and nothing else, with no underlying collateral. It is not a member of the same class of (statistically measurable) things as gas particles and planets. Nor is it something we can cite as concrete collateral when making a bid for social status (e.g. wealth, chastity, etc.). It belongs instead to the class of things which are purely self-referential bids for status. For religious people “grace” is a similar concept. In the distant past, “honour” was such a concept. I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence ….

  104. #104 James G
    November 19, 2006

    And, since every “appearance” has its own reality, that’s what the reality of intelligence is: it’s a social value – a status concept and nothing else, with no underlying collateral. It is not a member of the same class of (statistically measurable) things as gas particles and planets. Nor is it something we can cite as concrete collateral when making a bid for social status (e.g. wealth, chastity, etc.). It belongs instead to the class of things which are purely self-referential bids for status. For religious people “grace” is a similar concept. In the distant past, “honour” was such a concept. I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence ….

    So, are you saying social scientists should just all just pack up because their subject matter is not as observable as the subject matter of physicists? You must be forgetting that there is a a huge need for psychometrics out there in the world, in the military, in education, in business. As long as IQ correlates with important outcomes, does anyone care whether it is “real” or not?

    Yes, you can employ skeptical arguments against IQ. But of course you can employ those same skeptical arguments again ethics and science (witness Intelligent Design controversy). You can insist that quarks are “more real” than intelligence, but I think you will be in the minority. Most people think that intelligence, in some form or another, is quite real indeed.

    You are really playing word games about how to define intelligence, and forgetting that we are talking about psychometric intelligence, not some Platonic “Intelligence.” For pschometricians, intelligence mostly just means “ability to learn fast,” and speed of learning is quite easy to measure, much easier than measuring quarks or dark energy.

    Yes there are philosophical problems with intelligence, but hell there are philosophical problems with everything, so your argument has nothing to say to Kanazawa specifically.

  105. #105 llewelly
    November 19, 2006

    You must be forgetting that there is a a huge need for psychometrics out there in the world, in the military, in education, in business. As long as IQ correlates with important outcomes, does anyone care whether it is “real” or not?

    As long as people want to pay good money for psychometrics, does anyone care whether it is “real” or not?

    I’m sorry, but it seems to me you are choosing to ignore whether psychometrics are being used scientifically or not, in favor of whether or not they appear to be profitable.

    Recall that homeopathy appears to be profitable to some.

    To ask a slightly different question, I would like to know why it is that every time I try to learn about something like, e.g., the Flynn Effect, why do I find myself wading through and endless sea of bad _Bell Curve_ clones? If I try to learn something about global warming, astronomy, history, medicine, evolution, or almost any other topic, I have little trouble finding something that doesn’t sound like the writer rocked up some Julian Simon with some phrenology and smoked it in a light bulb pipe, but if I’m interested in some psychometrics related topic, it seems to take forever to find something that hasn’t been repeatedly debunked by the scientific skeptic sources I read.

    To this non-expert, it seems psychometrics has a fraud problem that makes the alt-med scene look like a paragon of transparency and honesty.

  106. #106 chris g
    November 20, 2006

    What, me, a skeptic? I didn’t said anything skeptical about physical attributes such as height, or about the idea of a mean height. Nor am I skeptical about the idea that there are subjective attributes which we can judge certain individuals as being better at than others. What I want to know is: what are the grounds, other than subjective ones, on which we classify some of these attributes as “intelligence” (psychometric or otherwise) and others as not, or as something else? Surely it’s a straightforward enough question, not just playing with words. There must be a better answer than “Well it just bloody well exists, so there!!” That is tantamount to saying the answer doesn’t matter. Fine, if you are after a career – but not fine, if you are after truth.

    And of course whatever Kanazawa did or did not say, he too has to face this question.

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