Pharyngula

Good grief. This ridiculous study is making the rounds of the atheist community, with its claim that liberals and atheists are smarter than conservatives and religious people. Look at the numbers!

Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

Seriously? Show me the error bars on those measurements. Show me the reliability of IQ as a measure of actual, you know, intelligence. Show me that a 6 point IQ difference matters at all in your interactions with other people, even if it were real. And then to claim that these differences are not only heritable, but evolutionarily significant…jebus, people, you can just glance at it and see that it is complete crap.

And then look at the source: Satoshi Kanazawa, the Fenimore Cooper of Sociobiology, the professional fantasist of Psychology Today. He’s like the poster boy for the stupidity and groundlessnessof freakishly fact-free evolutionary psychology. Just ignore anything with Kanazawa’s name on it.

Comments

  1. #1 Dahan
    February 25, 2010

    Yep, this doesn’t mean anything. We non-theists have got enough reasons to feel proud of ourselves without pointing to something like this, which can be refuted.

  2. #2 Hank Fox
    February 25, 2010

    On the other hand, I actually DO believe that brighter people are more apt to see through religion, and thus to be unbelievers.

    Considering that fighting free of something you get taught when you’re a kid is a bit of work, it just makes sense that having more intellectual fire-power is an asset.

    That being said, first time I ever had lunch with a group of Mensans, one of them said “It just amazes me that anybody intelligent can not-believe in God.”

    I’m still boggled at that.

  3. #3 Krystalline Apostate
    February 25, 2010

    Obviously foolishness is a human trait, not an ideological 1.

  4. #4 MrFire
    February 25, 2010

    And what about those of us who broke free from religion after years of struggle? Are we stuck in the ‘low IQ’ category, or were we the ‘high IQ’ category just waiting to happen? And who cares?

  5. #5 MrFire
    February 25, 2010

    Props to Hank Fox for addressing the same issue I did in a more thoughtful way.

  6. #6 octopode.myopenid.com
    February 25, 2010

    The sooner we get rid of IQ, or at least ensure that it’s widely accepted as a measure only of how good you are at IQ tests the better.

    There are many types of intelligence, IQ is at best a vague measure of only one of them. After all, there are people with IQs in the genius range who fervently believe in God(s) and people with quite low IQs who capable of critical and rational thinking in this regard.

    I personally know several devout Catholics with Science or Maths PhDs (proper ones from good universities too), and people who failed high school yet still have decent enough critical brains not to fall for woo when they see it.

  7. #7 James Sweet
    February 25, 2010

    B-b-b-ut, it sounds science-y! And PZ subscribes to the religion of scientism, so he must believe it!

  8. #8 Peter H
    February 25, 2010

    6% range? Isn’t that pretty much in line with the expected margin of error?

  9. #9 evanharper
    February 25, 2010

    What do you bet the difference drops to 0 points when you control for parents’ socioeconomic status?

  10. #10 mothra
    February 25, 2010

    It would be ‘enlightening’ to repeat this study on the same subjects at age 50. First analyzing the results keeping subjects in the categories they were assigned during their youth and then with the subjects assigned to their ‘present’ categories.

  11. #11 Glen Davidson
    February 25, 2010

    Oooh, the Brights.

    Well, we know where the better thinking usually occurs, anyway.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  12. #12 Draken
    February 25, 2010

    It might well be that liberal atheists are on the average more intelligent than conservative believers, but be sure not to confuse cause and effect. Becoming a liberal because you think that makes you smarter in fact disqualifies you because you aren’t.

    Oh boy, this is too confusing for me. Maybe I should become conservative.

  13. #13 Brownian, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Let’s not punish Kanazawa for being courageous enough in this environment of political correctness to point out the inconvenient reality that all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours–whereas all the testing says not really.

  14. #14 madbull
    February 25, 2010

    Oh no.. the most religious freaks around me solve their differential equations in seconds while Im still trying to figure out how to just write them down correctly.
    If i can venture to hypothesize however, I think the non theists spend more time thinking objectively, considering alternate viewpoints, observable evidence , drawing their conclusions. They usually tend to have more balanced views on patriotism, sexuality etc when compared to the black n white good n evil views of the religious.

  15. #15 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DgiEGD9kscDJEdF9A.79OTdYGt3M006DmA--#6c479
    February 25, 2010

    There are, of course, well-known problems with IQ tests, but at least partly this is because there are real problems with the concept of intelligence in the first place. In actuality, the word “intelligence” is really a proxy for a host of behavioral (and likely biological) characteristics which are not necessarily correlated. I don’t think this can even reasonably be characterized as “many types” of intelligence (though octopode may disagree).

    ~LexAequitas

  16. #16 Abdul Alhazred
    February 25, 2010

    … all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours …

    Proponents of social policies may give lip service to such equality, but the policies are not based on it.

  17. #17 Pinkydead
    February 25, 2010
  18. #18 KOPD42
    February 25, 2010

    Depending on the day you give an IQ test to somebody and how they’re feeling, their score can fluctuate +/- 5 points. And that’s on the “reliable” ones. The only discernible difference between a person with a IQ test result of 97 and one with a result of 103 is … there isn’t any, other than they got a different number. They are both within a small fraction of 1 SD from the mean.

  19. #19 Microraptor
    February 25, 2010

    For a good analysis of the reliability of IQ as a measure of mental ability, I’d recommend Ability Testing: Uses, Consequences, and Controversies. Part I, which was published by a panel of experts commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences in 1982. The idea that IQ tests don’t measure anything meaningful was popular in the 1970s, but the National Academy of Sciences came to the conclusion that IQ is a fairly good predictor of performance in a number of different areas, regardless of the family background of the people being tested.

    I agree that a difference of six points isn’t necessarily significant without knowing more about how the study was performed, though.

  20. #20 Curt Cameron
    February 25, 2010

    I had not heard of Kanazawa before a friend loaned me the book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters a few months ago. Kanazawa wrote that. Shortly into it, I had the distinct impression that it was a collection of just-so stories, then the end of my reading was when he addressed the objection that evolutionary psychology is not scientific, but the example he used to show it was a clear example of how he had no idea of the scientific method. I wish I could recall it, but I’ll look it up when I get home.

  21. #21 tamar
    February 25, 2010

    To Hank @ 2:
    You assume that everyone were brought up into a religion. What about people who were rased up as atheists? (I’m one of those).
    I would like to think of myself as a critical thinker, but the truth is I neve rationalized my way out of a religion – I never had to.

  22. #22 Maslab
    February 25, 2010

    I would like to think of myself as a critical thinker, but the truth is I neve rationalized my way out of a religion – I never had to.

    And then there’s people like me. I wasn’t “raised” an atheist, but I come from a free-thinking, secular household. It took me a bit of thinking to get out of my religion, but not nearly as much as for many others.

  23. #23 Free Lunch
    February 25, 2010

    I was so disappointed that the Gelman post didn’t have any quotes from Mark Twain given the title he used.

  24. #24 Walton
    February 25, 2010

    From my own (admittedly anecdotal) experience, I don’t think atheists and agnostics are necessarily brighter on average than religious people. I know numerous religious people who are exceptionally intelligent. Indeed, highly intelligent people tend to be the most adept at compartmentalising their brains, and not applying the same level of critical scrutiny to their religion that they would apply to information in their academic or professional lives. Powerful minds have a powerful capacity for self-delusion.

    I do suspect – based on experience of people here, among other things – that American atheists tend to be substantially brighter on average, and better critical thinkers, than the general American population. I imagine this is because, when you live in a society where religious belief (or at least lip-service thereto) is the norm, and where atheism is socially stigmatised, it is only people with a strong capacity for independent critical thought who tend to question the prevailing beliefs of society.

    By contrast, here in the UK, where hardcore religious believers are a minority and where apathy towards religion is the norm, I’ve known plenty of “knee-jerk” nontheists who, having grown up in completely secular environments, just never really thought or cared about religion at all. Thinking about, and consciously rejecting, the existence of deities is something that takes intellectual effort and rational thought; but not everyone who is an atheist, especially in a fairly secular society like the UK, has actually been through that process.

    All of this is speculative and tentative, of course, and I can’t support any of it with quantitative data; it would be nice to know whether any really reliable studies have been done.

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?
    February 25, 2010

    Seriously? Show me the error bars on those measurements.

    Never mind error bars. For 103 and 97 to “add up” to a total population which has an average IQ of 100 ? it does so by definition ?, there would have to be equal numbers of “not at all religious” and “very religious” people. TSIB.

    That being said, first time I ever had lunch with a group of Mensans, one of them said “It just amazes me that anybody intelligent can not-believe in God.”

    I’m still boggled at that.

    It’s easy ? if you don’t know anything that you could think about, your intellect* will work in vain. That’s how people come up with things like the “paradox” of Achilles and the tortoise: it follows completely logically from a set of premises that seem obvious but are subtly wrong.

    Calvinism is somewhat reminiscent: once you accept a few points of dogma out of fideism, you can use the entire rest of your towering intellect to find out if you’re one of the elect.

    * All this under the assumption that Mensa members actually are smart. See comments 6 and 15. And Charlie Wagner.

  26. #26 Ron
    February 25, 2010

    …but this was “shaped by evolution over millions of years”. How could he have missed anything?

  27. #27 Kagehi
    February 25, 2010

    With respect.. Given what we see all the time, the only metrics that the IQ probably does reliably measure is a) reading comprehension, and, to a far lesser extent, b) logic. People willing to believe in things that are not true often can’t grasp ideas that don’t fit those beliefs, and leap to conclusions too fast. They also, when confronted with logic problems, are more likely, I would assume, to jump to what they figure is an “obvious” solution, rather than looking more carefully.

    Neither of these measure if they **could** learn either one properly, which is what IQ supposedly measures. In reality, IQ measures what, I suppose, you could call “environmental intelligence”. I.e., failure to get a high score do to environmental factors screwing up their ability to do the tests properly, including a) failure to read the questions correctly, and b) failure to reach the correct conclusion, due to horribly flawed logic.

    In that respect, i.e., environmental intelligence, some of us would look like complete bloody idiots in their church, but they almost universally look like idiots in the real world. ;)

  28. #28 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 25, 2010

    Charlie Wagner

    When he showed us this it was expired by I think 5 years. Maybe 6.

  29. #29 Curt Cameron
    February 25, 2010

    In the book Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer notes that smart people believe weird things because they’re good at rationalizing beliefs they arrived at by non-smart reasons.

  30. #30 David Marjanovi?
    February 25, 2010

    Indeed, highly intelligent people tend to be the most adept at compartmentalising their brains, and not applying the same level of critical scrutiny to their religion that they would apply to information in their academic or professional lives. Powerful minds have a powerful capacity for self-delusion.

    I think we have a winner.

  31. #31 FrankT
    February 25, 2010

    IQ tests are learnable. If you take them over and over again, you get higher scores. Because they test a skill, not an innate ability.

    I much prefer the prisoner faith ratios to show why we are better people than the results of some arbitrary test or another.

  32. #32 Pascalle
    February 25, 2010

    I can only speak for me and my mom and dad.
    Both of them are very bright people.
    They left the church when i was very young, after a scandal in the family that they didn’t want to baptise me.
    They always let me read several different religious books, so I knew what was out there in the world and could make up my mind when i was old enough.

    My mom sorta is a hindu now. not really officially. I don’t even think she believes in the gods, but she does like to meditate, goes to India almost once a year and plays indian music.
    (she’s even learning Hindi now, at the age of 63!)

    I don’t think my dad believes anything anymore, but it’s a subject i would love to talk to him about some time.

    As for me, I’m an atheist, and an excruciatingly smart one. Did an official test and my score fell off the scale.
    All i know, is that i can be logical to the extreme. I can see patterns and connections on a very big scale and don’t seem to have much trouble with comprihending subjects that others see has complicated and difficult.

    And how much further did it get me in life?
    Nowhere :) I’m also very sensitive to stress and due to that had several burnouts. So now i’m home on wellfare.

    On the grander scale of things, i can imagine it’s easier to wrestle yourself free from a religious upbringing when you already notice the enormous contradictions in the bible and have a healthy thirst for knowledge.

  33. #33 clockkingfl
    February 25, 2010

    http://www.arachnoid.com/psychology/index.html

    Is Psychology a Science?

    This might be a useful resource since this post takes us into the realm of psychology.

  34. #34 Isherwood
    February 25, 2010

    Having recently been through counseling where I was introduced to Meyers-Briggs personality profiling, and considering myself to have above average intelligence as a Mensan, I’m convinced that personality type is far more influential in determining religiosity than intelligence. I have no scientific basis for this conclusion, but it seems reasonable that intelligence does not direct learning and understanding, whereas personality traits do.

  35. #35 Big Ugly Jim
    February 25, 2010

    I hate these studies. I know lots of people who are of average intelligence who are atheists and I know a lot of people (my parents, for example) who are highly intelligent and totally faithful.

    On an unrelated note, guess what, PZ? We’re on a list together! The crazy animal rights group hates us both!

    http://negotiationisover.com/2010/02/25/ya-basta-enough-game-change-at-ucla/

  36. #36 ikt
    February 25, 2010

    To be honest looking at the responses to the Dawkins forum closure, comments on other websites, the personal threats to the ‘quacks’ and now this, it seems we have a lot of e-warriors amongst us. :(

  37. #37 G.D.
    February 25, 2010

    While I agree that the study is worthless, asking “What do you bet the difference drops to 0 points when you control for parents’ socioeconomic status?” as evanharper would be utterly irrelevant to those who do exploit it. Their point is, I gather, just that there is a correlation between intelligence level and lack of faith and non-believers are more intelligent – I don’t see why it should matter to them exactly why that is the case or what the causal mechanisms are; what matters would just be that it is the case, regardless of cause or causal direction.

    (and a nitpick: you should ignore anything with Satoshi Kanazawa’s name on it – not anything with the name Kanazawa on it. There are several good scientists with the name Kanazawa, not the least the linguist and logician Makoto Kanazawa).

  38. #38 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    Despite previous comments of mine that I have read, I have an embarrassingly high IQ – I expect that many posters here do, as well.

    Certainly, my abilities to understand new things, and to develop an argument based on a set of facts, and to use words well to convey that argument, are all abilities I exercise well above the level of my peers. My language skills – and my delight in exercising them – have inspired me to be a writer.

    However.

    I’m 35, I live at home with my parents, and I’m unemployed, trying to write a book. I’ve never had a job I kept for longer than two years. I’m quite painfully shy. I say tactless things. I can’t handle small talk with strangers. I’m very creative, but I’m incredibly lazy. (Well, “undirected” is the psychological term). I have serious issues with authority. I also have very poor impulse control.

    So, while I believe IQ certainly tells you something important about someone, it isn’t the sole measure of whether or not you will succeed at life. That also begs the question of how we define “success”.

  39. #39 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    The study has common-sense validity coming out the ass, but it does sound like the data doesn’t support the advertised conclusion.

  40. #40 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    Heh, heh, typo in the above. In the first line, where it says “read” it should say “written”. How ironic.

  41. #41 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    I dunno why Yahoo is giving me such a strange ID– My name is Bryan Pesta.

    PZ’s post here is sheer irony, and illustrates why “scienceblogs” really needs to change its name to something other than “science”.

    PZ just wrote very long posts whining about people out of his field (cognitive psychologists) writing books on evolution (PZ’s field).

    Here PZ does the very same thing– reject peer-reviewed data from people in-field based on a wholly ignorant understanding of what the science reveals.

    I agree that Kanazawa’s stuff is controversial. Fortunately, we don’t need it (as anyone remotely familiar with literature in this area would know…).

    There’s a long list of research going back about 100 years showing that non-believers score significantly higher on IQ tests than do believers.

    Much recent research (some of it mine) shows the effect size to be about 4 IQ points (d = .20). That?s indeed a small effect, but is it worthless? Perhaps we should ask a scientist (i.e., not a blogger, but someone who publishes past peer-review).

    The .20 (4 IQ point!) effect has important, real world, LARGE influences at the extreme ends of the distribution. It’s enough to explain why the National Academy of Science is something like 90+ % atheist (that’s a staggering over-representation of atheists at the extreme upper end of cognitive ability).

    Aggregate data to populations and the effect becomes compellingly important. Colleagues and I have a paper in the January edition of Intelligence (cited below). We correlate US State IQ with many variables (including ?fundamentalist religious beliefs across the 50 US states). Would you call these correlations trivial (and consider, this is social ?science”):

    At the level of the 50 US states, fundamentalism correlates:
    .51 with state crime,
    -.62 with education,
    -.68 with health
    -.72 with income (!)
    -.55 with IQ (!)
    -.83 (!!) with a factorially derived global state ranking on well-being.

    (btw, the list goes on and on, including various measures of liberalism/conservatism like banning gay marriage, minimum wage, gun-ownership, starbucks to walmart ratios, %gay households, %voting obama, etc., etc.).

    With all due respect PZ, you should retract your statement or stfu about areas where you lack expertise (consistent with your request to Fodor). Yes, this is a flame, but I expect more from ?science? blogs and a (terminal?) associate professor of science.

    Bryan J Pesta
    ***
    State IQ paper (available for download free / without registration)
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W4M-4XC974W-1&_user=10&_coverDate=02%2F28%2F2010&_rdoc=17&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info%28%23toc%236546%232010%23999619998%231577821%23FLA%23display%23Volume%29&_cdi=6546&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=22&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=ff0b868361b36e425e07127c0f3859b1
    Paper showing d = ~.20 for religious fundamentalist belief and both paper and pencil IQ tests / Elementary Cognitive Tasks:
    http://www.csuohio.edu/business/academics/mlr/documents/bertsch_pesta_09_intell_religion.pdf

  42. #42 Uncephalized
    February 25, 2010

    I’ve always been under the impression that it was not so much intelligence (although that helps) as a willingness to question authority and tradition that led to atheism. Seems to me that smart people are better at defending and rationalizing their beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are. But people who are willing to buck authority are the ones who actually pause in their lives and say, “hey, wait, does what this important figure in my life has to say actually make sense, or should I ignore it?”

  43. #43 tehmeeplet
    February 25, 2010

    P.Z., is it all Evo psyc you find “freakishly fact free”, or just Kanazawa’s work?

  44. #44 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    @Isherwood @ 34

    Yeah, I’m an INTP on the Myers-Briggs scale. It certainly does explain some of my issues.

    I’m sure it’s not the most scientific of all personality tests, but it works well enough that I have been able to successfully, (although silently) predict my friends results on the test.

    Also, I think with the disdain evo psych, we risk throwing a lot of babies out with the bathwater. There are a lot of idiotic just-so stories out there, but Steven Pinker, for example, did a masterful job of dismantling the “perfectly plastic brain” in The Blank Slate.

    I do, of course, know he’s not popular with some members here.

  45. #45 KOPD42
    February 25, 2010

    For 103 and 97 to “add up” to a total population which has an average IQ of 100…

    But “not at all religious” and “very religious” are not the total population. They are the two ends of the spectrum. The excluded middle may balance the mean to 100. Of course, without having reviewed the survey, I can’t say for sure.

  46. #46 Maslab
    February 25, 2010

    Here PZ does the very same thing– reject peer-reviewed data from people in-field based on a wholly ignorant understanding of what the science reveals.

    While you do have a point, there is an important difference that I can see:

    This is a blog, which mostly includes statements of opinion.

    What Fodor did was publish a book passing off opinion as fact.

  47. #47 Isherwood
    February 25, 2010

    @Colin #44

    INTJ here. I was born a skeptic.

  48. #48 Serenegoose
    February 25, 2010

    I’ve always maintained that IQ is a nonsense. I hate those tests. I’m not good at maths (I flounder at basic subtraction) and I’m not good at rotating funny little blocks in my head and going ‘oh! that one is a little different!’ and I end up missing really obvious things. Apparently I’m an absolute idiot. I reject that.

  49. #49 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    Uncephalized @ 42. You’re exactly right, at least for me. It’s my issues with authority figures that got me started on the path. But I’d say it was my intelligence that kept going… :)

  50. #50 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    Btw, the correlation does not go away when controlling for SES. Religiosity emerges as the most compelling explanation for state differences in well-being. I’m claiming causality, but the usual statistics used to rule out cause (i.e., controlling for SES to see if the correlation goes away) don’t work here.

  51. #51 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    February 25, 2010

    I have every motive to assign great importance to IQ, since Mensa says mine is 176. But i don’t believe it. It appears to me that all IQ tests measure is how much skill you have at taking IQ tests. Apparently, I have that skill in spades, but I can’t do anything else particularly well. Anyway, even if the difference is real, its only a half-dozen points, well within the margin of error, I suspect.

  52. #52 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    @ 38

    IQ: Not what it’s cracked up to be

    I’m in the high IQ club too! Wheeee! I had to get tested when I was a kid for a variety of obnoxious reasons. It was an awful experience.

    I’ve overcome a lot, for those who have read my posts on my life. I’m not remotely happy with my level of achievement, but I recognize that it is really not so small.

    I don’t feel smart but people often call me “smart” which is awkward for me because I actually *feel* frustrated most of the time and like I only slightly understand things that other people seem to grasp quickly. I have a feeling I must be using a different set of tools some times.

  53. #53 Eamon Knight
    February 25, 2010

    All this under the assumption that Mensa members actually are smart.

    While I’m sure lots of Mensans are brilliant, it’s practically a truism that anyone who flaunts their Mensa membership to give weight to their arguments is a flaming crackpot, and their arguments are crap. Examples: Charley Wagner, Richard Milton, and one or two creationists I’ve run across. It’s just a particularly pathetic form of the Argument From Authority.

  54. #54 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    While you do have a point, there is an important difference that I can see:

    This is a blog, which mostly includes statements of opinion.

    What Fodor did was publish a book passing off opinion as fact.

    The flapping stop calling this science blogs. You are bastardizing the name and ruining the brand. How anyone can’t see this is beyond me?

  55. #55 Isherwood
    February 25, 2010

    #51: Mensa does not assess IQ in my experience. You pass the test or you don’t. Please elaborate.

    Off topic, but I should mention that Mensa is as much a social organization as anything. Highly intelligent people tend to experience the world differently. Especially for the introverted, this can lead to social struggles, depression, unhappiness, etc. It’s not about ego or status.

  56. #56 KOPD42
    February 25, 2010

    Yeah, I’m an INTP on the Myers-Briggs scale. It certainly does explain some of my issues.

    INTJ myself. It was weird when I read the descriptions of my MBTI type. It described the hangups that my personality type has (which I had always blamed on those around me), and helped me figure out how to better avoid them. I read description of others just to make sure that there wasn’t some sort of confirmation bias going on, like a horoscope or something. But it wasn’t, and it’s been helpful. I think that taking that test and really analyzing the impact that my type has on my interactions with others was one of the better things I’ve done recently. Oh, and it helped me to better understand some of my strengths as well.

  57. #57 Michelle R
    February 25, 2010

    Yea I never dug that IQ/intelligence nonsense. So I supposedly have a lower IQ than some people… According to tests that rank up my knowledge about cultural or mathematical things. That doesn’t mean I’m a moron. It just means I don’t know these things. Tell me and then I’ll know. Does that suddenly makes me a genius?

    I think IQ is one of the many nonsense ideas people cook up to try to sound superior.

  58. #58 Isherwood
    February 25, 2010

    @ KOPD42 #56,

    I agree 100%. I even faced what was essentially an intervention from my family regarding my past behavior. The MBTI information helped me in much the same way, allowing me to embrace my strengths and realize the negative impact I was having on those around me.

    Eventually I moderated to something slightly less jackass than before, but at least I have awareness. :-)

  59. #59 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    Also, some of my atheist friends could not, in any way, be described as “smart”. But they rejected religion just the same. “Fairy stories,” they say.

    Of course, they then go on to disparage LOTR (fairy stories) and Star Trek (fairy stories with electric lights)… :)

  60. #60 Steven Mading
    February 25, 2010

    The biggest difference between atheists and theists isn’t the ability to think intelligently, but the desire to do so. If two people are equally strong, but one is willing to tolerate the stress of exertion while the other is more lazy, then in normal activities the lazy one will take on the appearance of being weaker without necessarily actually being weaker. Similarly, when two people of equal intelligence don’t have the same attitudes about whether or not it’s appropriate to apply that intelligence to mystical woo-woo, one can be a gullible believer while the other isn’t and the difference is not a matter of ability to be smart, but of desire to be smart.

  61. #61 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    MBTI. I’m not sure how much credence I lend it. I used to type as INTJ but recently have begun typing as ESTP, which does reflect a very real personality change over the last couple years. Still I’m not sure how useful the test is really. Both descriptions fit me very well, respective to time of course.

  62. #62 Serenegoose
    February 25, 2010

    INFP. :)

    Never heard anything about how reliable the Myers-Briggs is though, so I don’t assign any value to it, beyond it being an enjoyable trivial exercise.

    Also, love the correlation between introversion and intelligence, and how hard it is to be intelligent! But Mensa only cares if you’re -super- intelligent, practicing their little elitism. Sorry little man, you’re not smart enough for your intelligence to be a burden, unlike us. oh woe.

  63. #63 God
    February 25, 2010

    Being smart is bad for you. It can drive you away from Me!

  64. #64 Isherwood
    February 25, 2010

    Serenegoose, you’re coming across as either very cynical or very sarcastic, but I can’t tell which.

    As with most things in life, you take from it what you like. I took some valuable insight about myself and my relationships from MBTI. My profile fits me like a glove, and it allowed me to change myself for the better.

    Mensa, for me, has meant monthly dinner socials with people who think and talk like me. “Elitism” is the last word that comes to mind. Seems to me there’s plenty of sour grapes surrounding that topic from folks who went into IQ tests with some higher expectation than was warranted. I took the test during a period of self-doubt and depression. It helped to find people with whom I could more easily relate.

  65. #65 Biodiversivist
    February 25, 2010

    Well done PZ. I occasionally attend Meetup gatherings of atheists. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that we do not have a stranglehold on intelligence, whatever the hell that is.

  66. #66 ursa major
    February 25, 2010

    Hell, if I can no longer pat myself on the back then, dammit, I want someone else to do so. Preferably female. Someone who can lean close and whisper in my ear, “I have an education and know how to use it”. grrr!

  67. #67 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    Ol’Greg @61

    MBTI : Yeah, it seems sometimes people get different results at different times. I personally think the idea behind the tests is very good, but they need a few more axes on which to measure.

    And ultimately, yeah, just living life has shown me that you do get smart people and really dumb people.

    Not every child, picked at random, can grow up to be an Einstein, or a Mozart, or a complete failure like me. That’s just life.

  68. #68 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    Seems to me there’s plenty of sour grapes surrounding that topic from folks who went into IQ tests with some higher expectation than was warranted.

    I don’t know about others but not everybody who has taken them *wanted to* and that is a part of a larger problem.

    I was forced to take one by my school as a child.

    My associations with the test are not positive despite having a “good result” from it. As an adult I have no desire to take the test again. If it had ever been my choice to make I would not have had another set of numbers attached to me in order to assess my aptitude before I even have a chance to try.

    I have no interest, similarly, in knowing whether my friends are high scoring on a test. If they were not bright and intelligent enough to have a conversation with then I would certainly notice!

  69. #69 G.D.
    February 25, 2010

    I don’t know much about the validity of IQ tests, but I think it’s striking that so many even here actually manage to rattle off the following howler of an argument:

    “I don’t score very well on IQ tests. I am not dumb, however (my strength is just not in answering those kinds of questions). Hence, those tests are irrelevant and don’t show anything about people’s actual intelligence”.

    That’s an utterly question-begging argument insofar as the second premise is itself premised on the assumption that the conclusion is true.

    Due to the subject matter of argument it is thereby also self-defeating: By making the argument one displays a blatant lack of critical thinking ability (after all, begging the question is one of the fundamental types of fallacy there is). Committing this fallacy is itself effective evidence that the second premise is, in fact, false. In other words, regardless of the validity or not of IQ tests, people who make the above argument do indicate a lack of, yes, intelligence. Since the above argument is so common and reflects so badly on those making it, maybe the very fact that the topic IQ tests is so likely to elicit it is part of the point of having such tests to begin with?

  70. #70 Serenegoose
    February 25, 2010

    I find the INFP descriptor remarkably accurate, but I also know how easy it is to sound ‘remarkably accurate’, because if it wasn’t, cold reading wouldn’t work. As I’ve not studied the MBTI, I abstain from giving it credence or from believing it worthless.

    As for sarcastic/cynical? Highly sarcastic. I’m never cynical as a first option. However, what you call ‘sour grapes’ is people falling between the cracks. You see, there’s no gradient in terms of social groups between people that are ‘mensa standard’ (a term I reject as I believe the testing principle fundamentally unsound) and ‘the rest of us’. The very fact that people in mensa feel they need a seperate little group is elitism. And what it feels like to those of us that know we’re intelligent, but can’t get in, is exclusionary. It’s saying ‘sorry, we’re far too smart and burdened by our own colossal intellects to associate with you. oh, look over there. Is that wrestling? Maybe you might more be suited to that, as a hobby.’

  71. #71 Brownian, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Mensa, for me, has meant monthly dinner socials with people who think and talk like me.

    Really? Because I’m pretty sure even people who score in the 97th percentile or lower on standardised intelligence tests can see that

    Seems to me there’s plenty of sour grapes surrounding that topic from folks who went into IQ tests with some higher expectation than was warranted.

    is really just “Nyah, nyah, you’re all just jealous!” [stomps feet]

    I hope you talk better than you think, because this suggests you think no better than the average fourth-grader.

    Have fun at your non-elitist social gatherings. I can see why you need your own club.

  72. #72 Serenegoose
    February 25, 2010

    #69

    And in English? I don’t see how ‘these tests aren’t relevant, because they define ‘intelligence’ too narrowly’ begs any question at all.

  73. #73 G.D.
    February 25, 2010

    #72

    It does if your reason for thinking that the tests are using a too narrow definition is ‘I and lots of people I know are really intelligent, even though we score badly on these tests’. But if you look at earlier posts on the thread here you’ll notice that this is exactly the argument that’s being made several places.

    There are surely good reasons to think that IQ tests define intelligence too narrowly. That wasn’t my point. My point was that by making the question-begging argument I described one does exhibit a lack of critical thinking ability (and thereby a lack of intelligence). Regardless of IQ tests.

  74. #74 frankosaurus
    February 25, 2010

    8th grade final exam, Salina KS 1895:
    Grammar (Time, one hour)

    1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
    2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no Modifications.
    3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
    4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of lie, lay and run.
    5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
    6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
    7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
    *****************************************
    Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

    1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
    2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
    4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
    5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
    6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
    7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
    8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
    9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
    10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
    ********************************************
    U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

    1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
    2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
    3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
    4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
    5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
    6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
    7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
    8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.
    **********************************************
    Orthography (Time, one hour) I don’t even know what this is!

    1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
    2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
    3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
    4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’
    5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two exceptions under each rule.
    6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
    7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
    8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
    9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
    10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

    ********************************************
    Geography (Time, one hour)

    1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
    2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
    3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
    4. Describe the mountains of North America.
    5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
    6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S..
    7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
    8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
    9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
    10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.
    ********************************************** http://keithbobbitt.com/lifeinthe1800's.htm

  75. #75 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    I don’t know much about the validity of IQ tests, but I think it’s striking that so many even here actually manage to rattle off the following howler of an argument:
    “I don’t score very well on IQ tests. I am not dumb, however (my strength is just not in answering those kinds of questions). Hence, those tests are irrelevant and don’t show anything about people’s actual intelligence”.

    Well then it’s a good thing nobody here posted that argument as you wrote it then!

  76. #76 jack.rawlinson
    February 25, 2010

    Aww, c’mon, PZ! The value of “studies” like these is that they’re useful for cheap shots against the religious, and for the sheer gleeful fun of winding them up. nobody’s taking them seriously. A bit like internet polls, you know? :-)

  77. #77 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    Serenegoose @72

    And in English?

    I think in post #69 we’re faced with someone who is intelligent but has no ability to communicate what he’s thinking. I had to read it four times before I got even vague idea of what he’s trying to say.

    At least, I think I have a vague idea. GD, any comments? You haven’t bothered to link “Premise 1″ and “Premise 2″ and “The Conclusion” to actual bits of text, and the reading is ambiguous.

    Hey! Perhaps we need a facilitated communicator!

  78. #78 Blak Thundar
    February 25, 2010

    Kagehi
    “With respect.. Given what we see all the time, the only metrics that the IQ probably does reliably measure is a) reading comprehension, and, to a far lesser extent, b) logic.”

    Not so much. Reading comp is part of a cognitive ability test, but not a huge part. If you want that, then you would need an Achievement test that looks specifically at academics (reading, math, writing, oral comprehension).

    FrankT
    “IQ tests are learnable. If you take them over and over again, you get higher scores. Because they test a skill, not an innate ability.”

    Yes and no. There are some portions that look at Processing Speed, where you are asked to complete as many problems as you can in 2-3 minutes (like you have a key of numbers with matching symbols at the top, with a page of numbers where you have to write in the symbols). Also, you generally don’t receive feedback on whether you answered questions right or wrong, so it’s hard to “learn” many of the tasks. Furthermore, there is a recommended amount of time that needs to elapse between the giving of the same test in order to avoid the “practice effect”. Essentially, a good/valid IQ test is probably not one that you find on facebook.

    On the topic as a whole, as PZed and others have mentioned, 6 points on an 1Q test is negligible as that can fall within the Confidence Interval. 15 points, or one Standard deviation might be something to talk about. However, 90-110 is the average range, so it’s a pretty much a moot point.

    While I believe IQ tests to be a help in determining educational placements for students in school (need for Special Education), you really have to take everything into consideration. Functional skills, work ethic, etc. An IQ score is not the end-all, be-all by any means. It’s simply a tool that can provide some useful information.

  79. #79 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    Ack! I think what that sentence needs is another “then” then… then.

    I’ll continue though.

    Actually the point is more valid than you think G.D. since IQ provides a really clear cut-off for low functioning people but not so much for the higher-functioning. There’s a big difference, say, between a person who tests at 90 and one that tests at 100. Past the normal range however IQ is not nearly so clear an indicator of ability to function and does bring up the question of what “intelligence” really means. To say then that a person is clearly less intelligent because they have made a logical fallacy would not, for instance, be a good measure of their ability as a programmer.

    Likewise I would also argue that making a logical fallacy is not a particularly stunning indicator of lacking intelligence.

    I don’t read Michelle’s comment that way anyhow. Her comment, to me, is more along the lines of “I may not test with a high IQ but I don’t feel limited in what I am able to do” which makes me wonder what your goal is anyway, especially considering that you mangled other people’s words in order to build the argument you’re tearing down.

    So first before tearing into people who are saying that they don’t think the test actually measures “intelligence” as they see and understand it in their friends or in themselves I think we would need to be completely settled on what “intelligence” means in normal functioning and high functioning people.

    Apparently to you it means that no one at any time can twist your words in such a way as to make a simple circular argument from what you have said.

  80. #80 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    GD @72 :

    Ah, thanks, a much clearer explanation. What you’re saying is that ‘I scored low and I’m not dumb’ is not sufficient to reach ‘These tests are worthless’.

    I quite agree.

    Could you lead me through how that is “begging the question”? I mean that sincerely. My exposure to logical fallacies is recent and I haven’t had a lot of practice.

  81. #81 QuarkyGideon
    February 25, 2010

    Cheers PZ; I would have probably bought into this.

  82. #82 octopode.myopenid.com
    February 25, 2010

    @ LexAequitas, #15

    No disagreement here – “many types of intelligence” is in itself a generalisation that ignores much of the complexity of the concept.

    My take on it is influenced by my time as a science teacher – ‘multiple intelligences’ are currently in vogue for planning / differentiating lessons in British schools. (cf Howard Gardner etc)

  83. #83 Serenegoose
    February 25, 2010

    Someone who I’m in a relationship with scored low 80 on their school mandated IQ test. They’re currently in good stead for finishing their masters degree with a distinction, something that only the most academically minded and intelligent (I do not say here that academically minded and intelligence are the same) could achieve. They could have been entirely sabotaged if they’d been sidelined for ‘special education’ as a result. I know others who’ve scored incredibly highly and been absolute idiots. I’ve only ever met one person who was both intelligent and had a correspondingly high IQ score. My anecdotal experience is why I don’t think the IQ test is a great indicator.

  84. #84 Microraptor
    February 25, 2010

    G.D., I understand what you?re saying.

    Something I wish more people would do is rather than relying on anecdotal evidence for IQ tests being unreliable (?I?m smart but I tested low; therefore the tests are inaccurate?), they should be looking at the professional literature about this topic, such as the report from the National Academy of Sciences that I cited in post #19. There is a huge body of research on this topic; you can get an idea of some of it by looking through the bibliography of that report, although this obviously only includes studies conducted up through when the report was published in 1982. Aren?t most of the people here aware that for any topic in science, anecdotal evidence isn?t all that useful as a source of information, especially not in comparison to peer-reviewed research?

  85. #85 Hank Fox
    February 25, 2010

    The couple of commenters here who’ve basically said “I’m extremely bright but can’t seem to handle the real world” …

    There’s probably NOTHING wrong with you. It’s just that you’re gifted, along with intelligence, with a very high level of sensitivity. Unfortunately you happen to live in a society engineered by and for stubby-fingered, thick-skinned, dull-witted apes.

    It’s like being comfortable with the TV volume on 3, but having to live with roommates who can only hear it at 9.

    The human world comes across as a continuous barrage of painful, insistent, BORING noise. Because everybody else seems comfortable with it, you naturally assume (and have probably even been told) there?s something wrong with you.

    I don?t think that?s it.

    .

    .

    Just some food for thought.

  86. #86 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    Well I guess my point is “I did poorly, but I’m not dumb” is only a circular argument if the person who says it is saying:

    1. I failed the test
    2. I am not dumb
    3. THEREFORE, by that argument, the tests are not useful

    That is, it is only a logical fallacy if it is an actual argument being brought forth to show the tests are not useful in general. In all of these cases it seems that the people in question are not making an argument, but rather are saying that being told they are dumb is not helpful to them in their own lives therefore they do not make use of the information and blow it off. That is not the same argument at all.

    I am, in fact, making a similar comment. I took the test. I scored very well. I do not think the tests are very useful.

  87. #87 Isherwood
    February 25, 2010

    Have fun at your non-elitist social gatherings. I can see why you need your own club.

    Wow. Your entire post was a backhanded insult that is little more than a projection of your own insecurities. Why on earth else would you blast me, whom you’ve never met, like that?

    You’re one of those who Richard Dawkins is dealing with on his site right now, aren’t you? Pissy just for the heck of it, right?

    Over and out. You’re not worth the time.

  88. #88 Utakata
    February 25, 2010

    When I was 9 my IQ score was about 95. By the time I reached 20 it was 120. And 30, 130…I guess when I reach 95, my brain will be the size of a planet barring dementia. But I digress…I guess I just learned to adapt to my learning disabilities over time. And my IQ’s “steady growth” was regardless to my religious beliefs, since I went from a theist to an athiest to a fundy back to an agnostic in a similar course of time.

    As for the author of this claim, I guess he scored baka on his IQ test. Just saying…

  89. #89 G.D.
    February 25, 2010

    #77
    No, I haven’t linked the argument to any piece of text. Browsing through the thread here it isn’t hard to find versions of it (though of course not verbatim, that wasn’t the point). I repeat the kind of argument I’m thinking about here, inserting “P1″, “P2″ and “C” to mark “premise 1″, “premise 2″ and “conclusion”, respectively, so that Colin might just be able to follow it.

    “(P1) I don’t score very well on IQ tests. (P2) I am not dumb, however (my strength is just not in answering those kinds of questions). (C) Hence, those tests are irrelevant and don’t show anything about people’s actual intelligence”.

    To see that this argument is blatantly circular should be very easy. ‘I am not stupid even though I don’t score very well on IQ tests’ can only be true if you already presuppose that those tests don’t show your actual intelligence. Hence, you cannot also use ‘I am not stupid even though I don’t score very well on IQ tests’ as a justification for the claim that those tests don’t show your actual intelligence. If you try to do that, you have a circular argument to the effect that ‘these tests don’t show one’s actual intelligence because they don’t show one’s actual intelligence’.

    Now, there might of course be independent reasons for thinking that these tests don’t show anything important. I have no idea, and I don’t really care.

    Being able to spot question-begging arguments and avoiding them is a basic reasoning skill, however. Later in my post I linked basic reasoning skills to intelligence and suggested that if you lack basic reasoning skills, you aren’t very intelligent. Regardless of what IQ tests may or may not show. If you find arguments equivalent to the one in my example compelling, you do lack basic reasoning skills.

    I am curious, though, about the ambiguity you claim that you find in the argument.

  90. #90 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    You’re one of those who Richard Dawkins is dealing with on his site right now, aren’t you?

    No, he’s one of our very own. This ain’t RD.net.

  91. #91 SED
    February 25, 2010

    In your earlier post, linked above, you write:

    That’s not a thought experiment, it’s a right-wing masturbation fantasy. Kanazawa must be looking for a gig writing for WingNutDaily.

    Sadly, yes:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201001/applied-evolutionary-psychology-its-best

  92. #92 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    If you find arguments equivalent to the one in my example compelling, you do lack basic reasoning skills.

    Who said anything about finding them compelling? Off fighting windmills? Or is it strawmen?

    Personally I find the research I *have* read on IQ less than compelling and I have not found them useful in my own personal life. These are two separate things.

    Then past that those two independent points, I do not find the arguments you refer to “compelling” in sense you seem to imply. That is they are not the basis on which I develop my views about IQ testing in general (separate from those views I have on how personally important it is to me). I also, however, do not find them indicative of lower intelligence and take issue with your claim.

    Are you making the claim that immunity to logical fallacy = intelligence? Because if that is your argument you should support it with something.

  93. #93 G.D.
    February 25, 2010

    OK, I posted #89 without being aware of the 12 posts preceding it. Sorry.

  94. #94 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 25, 2010

    How about I scored hi and I’m dumb?

  95. #95 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    90% of the posters here demonstrate a profound ignorance of the literature. Keep fighting the good fight there PZ and his “skeptics”.

    The OP is a ugly and as uninformed as creation science.

  96. #96 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    GD #89

    Your numbering of the premises cleared up the ambiguity (you could have treated P2 as two separate statements : “I am not dumb”, and “My strength is not in answering those sorts of questions”).

    If you’d done that, you could examine that separately.

    P2 – My strengths are not in answering question in IQ tests.

    C – I am not dumb.

    At which point we could ask if “C” is a valid given only P1.

    However, since I find the further discussion in Ol’Greg’s post at #92 to be far more interesting than anything I’ve said, please ignore anything I’ve brought up if it will hinder your ability to respond to him sooner. :)

  97. #97 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    I meant “At which point we could ask if C is valid given only P2″

  98. #98 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    @Ol’Greg #86

    You’re saying you don’t find the tests useful. Indeed, nor do I.

    However, do you believe they actually measure something that exists?

    I do.

  99. #99 badgersdaughter
    February 25, 2010

    XNTJ, which means I typically score right on the line between I and E.

    When I was a young teenager, I was a wee bit maladjusted. The school psychologist gave me an IQ test that took hours (or seemed to) and used a lot of spoken word answers – it wasn’t just a written word test. I was conditioned early not to talk about the results. My parents thought it would make me sound snotty to the other kids. I don’t believe the results anyway. I think I’d be a lot more successful if they were correct.

  100. #100 sexycelticlady
    February 25, 2010

    Having taken the time to skim read the actual study the error bars are low and the data does appear to be statistically significant. However, the study does dicuss the correlation between intelligence and IQ tests (I think the one used in the study is the verbal IQ test, I cannot remember exactly what it is called) and notes that the correlation is poor at the age the measurements were taken. The author also acknowledges that the assumptions made in the research with regard to evolution goes against the general consensus for evolutionary psychology. I didn’t have time to read the rest of the study.

  101. #101 martha
    February 25, 2010

    Religious belief has to do with emotion so why would there be any correlation with IQ? Certainty is an emotional state. And smart people are good at rationalization.

    I think whether you believe in god depends a lot on how you are raised and what is your occupation. Scientists are far less likely to believe in god than the general population.

  102. #102 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    However, do you believe they actually measure something that exists?

    Sure. I absolutely would agree that they measure *something* certainly! I even think that IQ tests do offer some leverage in efforts to pin down learning disabilities.

    I just think that they emphasize a certain set of values for intelligence and that the results of the test are over-valued socially so much so that the number itself becomes a little precious.

    I’m especially bothered, for instance, by the way that conversation in everyday life quickly begins to slide into a mode of thought somewhat like higher IQ = more valuable human being when the subject is broached. Even if I completely supported the tests and thought they were absolutely infallible as a method of quantifying intelligence I wouldn’t hold those views, but that, of course, depends on what is “valuable” in a human being anyway.

    As far as quantifying human intelligence, the test definitely does measure certain aptitudes.

  103. #103 dglas
    February 25, 2010

    PZ, if something is true, it is true regardless of who says it, why they said or how they said it.

  104. #104 robertdw
    February 25, 2010

    Okay – there’s a likely reason for this. In the Western world, at least, education is a known correlation with both liberal attitudes & lack of religion.

    Educated people also tend to do better on IQ tests. This is partly because of a selection filter dropping out the bottom of the curve, but mostly because most (but not all) IQ tests have some bias towards existing knowledge. For example, it’s a lot easier to spot the pattern in “1 2 3 5 8 13 …” if you’ve been taught about Fibonacci sequences.

    I’d also argue that smarter people are more likely to break free of religion.

    Finally – not buying into the bullshit dogma that the conservatives spin these days automatically makes you a liberal, apparently. Just ask the moderate Republicans who are facing challenges in their primaries. (Not buying into the bullshit dogma that the liberals spin doesn’t make you a conservative, though)

  105. #105 Colin
    February 25, 2010

    @Ol’Greg #102

    Yeah, you said it better than I possibly could.

    Certainly the “higher IQ = more valuable human being” is a construction and at attitude I dislike strongly. Many of my closest friends score a lot lower than I did, and I wouldn’t swap any of ‘em for anything.

  106. #106 SteveM
    February 25, 2010

    To see that this argument is blatantly circular should be very easy. ‘I am not stupid even though I don’t score very well on IQ tests’ can only be true if you already presuppose that those tests don’t show your actual intelligence. Hence, you cannot also use ‘I am not stupid even though I don’t score very well on IQ tests’ as a justification for the claim that those tests don’t show your actual intelligence. If you try to do that, you have a circular argument to the effect that ‘these tests don’t show one’s actual intelligence because they don’t show one’s actual intelligence’.

    Sorry, I do not see how this is a circular argument, you are just restating the same thing twice. And you are also misrepresenting the argument, which is:

    P1. I am not stupid.
    P2. I do not score well on IQ tests.
    C. therefore IQ tests are a poor measure of intelligence.

    There is no assumption that the IQ test is worthless. This is really no different than

    P1. My car gets on average 24 MPG
    P2. The EPA rated this model at 30MPG
    C. Therefore the EPA rating is a poor predictor of actual MPG.

  107. #107 KOPD42
    February 25, 2010

    It’s not a circular argument. It’s more like proof by contradiction, but there is a missing premise, and a missing qualifier

    P1. People who are not stupid should score well on IQ tests.
    P2. I am not stupid. (And I know this from some other means than an IQ test.)
    P3. I do not score well on IQ tests.
    C. therefore IQ tests are a poor measure of intelligence.

  108. #108 shatfat
    February 25, 2010

    Went through annoyance of logging in to reply to pascalle:

    I feel your pain. When I was younger I scored very high on standardized tests and did pretty well at ARML, too (wasn’t in the genius ring but did rub shoulders with them–but I was good at other subjects than math, so there’s that :), AHSME awards, etc, but my grades were always so-so to poor. And it wasn’t that I didn’t take school seriously. I just had poor time management skills (and a lot of stress at home–crazy mother, and let’s leave it at that) and I was just socially stupid. I’ll never forget getting a C on a paper I’d slaved over in philosophy class. I couldn’t understand the bad grade because my argument was flawlessly logical. I wasn’t good at making friends either and was depressed a lot.

    In my 20’s I went, through a series of bad decisions, from a cushy (if average-paying) white collar job to a physically and emotionally demanding blue collar job with unpleasant supervisors.

    Our society used to have a place for people like us. We used to have positions available in R&D. Time and space and resources to think and create. Recall the bored engineers who invented Unix so they could mess around with a minicomputer.

    Today in physical sciences you can either work in defense industry or port your math skills to the miserable worlds of computer programming or Wall Street quants. Bio sciences are a little better, but most will be lab drudges or post-docs, which means minimum wage in your 30’s. If you do want to have a good position, you have to be all those things you and I are not–driven, good at politics, consistent. You see? We are capitalism’s discontents. We’re denied the chance to make a useful contribution in our own way.

    Personally, I am on a campaign to “fit in”. I know I’m getting stupider, as concepts that used to come easily to me are getting harder, but I’m also starting to understand human interactions and read between the lines. I’m not as depressed as often, and when I do face a setback, I bounce back quickly. I have goals now and I’m hitting benchmarks frequently. A lot of my ego was tied up in being “smaaaht” but I had to give that up along with a lot of braincells. However, it beats being suicidal.

    The world sucks. Sometimes all you can do is survive it for a while.

  109. #109 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    February 25, 2010

    @55: Mensa didn’t tell me my IQ. Mensa accepts a wide range of standardized tests for membership. The test I took, which they accepted, gave me the IQ. Mensa said they would have accepted 132 or higher on that particular test. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.
    And no, I’m not bragging about being in Mensa. I let my membership lapse as soon as possible. The meetings were deadly dull, and were frequently infested with rabid libertarians and death-penalty advocates wearing Spock ears. The folks didn’t seem especially smart.

  110. #110 Diane G.
    February 25, 2010

    #104Posted by: robertdw | February 25, 2010 4:17 PM

    For example, it’s a lot easier to spot the pattern in “1 2 3 5 8 13 …” if you’ve been taught about Fibonacci sequences.

    You left out a “1.”

  111. #111 JRQ
    February 25, 2010

    The major issue with IQ scores is not that they aren’t statistically reliable (they are), or that they don’t predict anything (they do). The problem is that they don’t assess anything like rationality or critical thinking. What IQ scores tap more than anything else are reasoning from analogy and inductive pattern recognition.

    However, IQ tests contain little to no analytical reasoning content. Not much of anything requiring deductive inference or hypothesis testing, or drawing conclusions from evidence. Nor do IQ scores correlate very well with measures of critical thinking, probabilistic reasoning, or sensitivity to judgment and decision-making biases. Your IQ doesn’t predict, for example, how likely you will exhibit commit base-rate neglect, confirmation bias, overuse availability, exhibit clustering illusions, anchor quantitative judgments on irrelevant numbers, or be overconfident in your judgments. In short, IQ neither determines nor depends on any particular skill at rational thinking.

    Which is precisely why we see so many high-IQ nitwits who believe stupid things.

  112. #112 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    104 said:

    “Educated people also tend to do better on IQ tests. This is partly because of a selection filter dropping out the bottom of the curve, but mostly because most (but not all) IQ tests have some bias towards existing knowledge. For example, it’s a lot easier to spot the pattern in “1 2 3 5 8 13 …” if you’ve been taught about Fibonacci sequences.”

    Simply not true– the effect occurs on elementary cognitive tasks which require no education (8 years can do them with near 100% accuracy– judging which of two rapidly presented lines was longer is an example). I cited the article above.

    Go “Science” blogs (if by Science you mean intuitions on any thing scientific, without bothering to, say, read the science on the topic).

    PZ: You made some inane, ignorant comments in your OP. My rebuttal is #41 here. Care to comment?

  113. #113 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    The major issue with IQ scores is not that they aren’t statistically reliable (they are), or that they don’t predict anything (they do). The problem is that they don’t assess anything like rationality or critical thinking. What IQ scores tap more than anything else are reasoning from analogy and inductive pattern recognition.

    However, IQ tests contain little to no analytical reasoning content. Not much of anything requiring deductive inference or hypothesis testing, or drawing conclusions from evidence.

    ***

    Where are you guys getting this shit?

    This is embarrassing for skepticism and science.

    Search the journal intelligence for deductive reasoning. Look at how many articles show just how g-loaded DR is.

    “Both the substantial g-loading for syllogism-solving, historically recognized as the symbol of human intelligence, and the emergence of g as an entity at an etiological level, that is, at the genetic and environmental factor level, provide further support for the g theory.”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W4M-4V5NSYK-1&_user=10&_coverDate=06%2F30%2F2009&_alid=1222976010&_rdoc=7&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_cdi=6546&_sort=r&_docanchor=&view=c&_ct=26&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4e4f6b630076d1c914d2d5724fa7879a

    Will you guys at least admit that you’re making this shit up?

  114. #114 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    I don’t know much about the validity of IQ tests, but I think it’s striking that so many even here actually manage to rattle off the following howler of an argument:

    “I don’t score very well on IQ tests. I am not dumb, however (my strength is just not in answering those kinds of questions). Hence, those tests are irrelevant and don’t show anything about people’s actual intelligence”.

    ….

    (after all, begging the question is one of the fundamental types of fallacy there is).

    “Straw man” is another such type.

  115. #115 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    114– worse, it’s a person-who fallacy:

    My grandpa smoked 4 packs a day and lived til 96. Smoking does not cause health problems.

    It’s snowing here now; badly. So much for global warming….lols.

  116. #116 Ol'Greg
    February 25, 2010

    114– worse, it’s a person-who fallacy

    Nope, just a strawman since its an argument against an argument not being made.

  117. #117 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    G.D.:

    How about this formulation, which is what I took from some of the comments you’re vaguely referencing:

    “IQ tests purport to accurately measure general mental ability. However, the IQ scores of myself and some others, relative to those around us, do not correlate with our demonstrated level of intellectual functioning relative to those around us. This casts doubt on IQ tests’ claims to accurately measure general mental ability.”

  118. #118 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    PZ, if something is true, it is true regardless of who says it, why they said or how they said it.

    How, why, and by who something was said is often highly relevant to how likely it is to be true, and in particular, how likely it is to be false but carefully formulated to appear true.

  119. #119 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    PZ’s post here is sheer irony, and illustrates why “scienceblogs” really needs to change its name to something other than “science”.

    PZ just wrote very long posts whining about people out of his field (cognitive psychologists) writing books on evolution (PZ’s field).

    Here PZ does the very same thing– reject peer-reviewed data from people in-field based on a wholly ignorant understanding of what the science reveals.

    I agree that Kanazawa’s stuff is controversial. Fortunately, we don’t need it (as anyone remotely familiar with literature in this area would know…).

    That?s indeed a small effect, but is it worthless? Perhaps we should ask a scientist (i.e., not a blogger, but someone who publishes past peer-review).

    Would you call these correlations trivial (and consider, this is social ?science”):

    With all due respect PZ, you should retract your statement or stfu about areas where you lack expertise (consistent with your request to Fodor). Yes, this is a flame, but I expect more from ?science? blogs and a (terminal?) associate professor of science.

    The flapping stop calling this science blogs. You are bastardizing the name and ruining the brand. How anyone can’t see this is beyond me?

    90% of the posters here demonstrate a profound ignorance of the literature. Keep fighting the good fight there PZ and his “skeptics”.

    The OP is a ugly and as uninformed as creation science.

    Go “Science” blogs (if by Science you mean intuitions on any thing scientific, without bothering to, say, read the science on the topic).

    PZ: You made some inane, ignorant comments in your OP. My rebuttal is #41 here. Care to comment?

    Where are you guys getting this shit?

    This is embarrassing for skepticism and science.

    Will you guys at least admit that you’re making this shit up?

    You know, you could just write “FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP FAP” and be done with it.

  120. #120 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    I know what fap is, not sure what it means in context of your reply to my original post?

  121. #121 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    It means you are an arrogant jerk off idjit. You haven’t said anything cogent all thread. That is his point. Boring troll.

  122. #122 J Dubb
    February 25, 2010

    Man, where to start with this thread.

    First of all, Myers-Briggs is pseudoscience. It is meaningless, about on par with astrology. It was whipped up from Jungian nonsense. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are not INTP or whatever; you’ve not learned anything about yourself from taking the MB. It can seem convincing but it’s just the Forer effect.

    Next, the link posted by #33 is a huge strawman attack on psychological science. Yes, there is nonsense that most people consider part of psychology (like M-B), but that doesn’t mean the whole field = not science. The author goes laughably overboard… because John Mack thought psychic ability was real, that means ALL of psychology is bunk? Because we can’t do unethical experiments on humans, ALL psychology is bunk?

  123. #123 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    First of all, Myers-Briggs is pseudoscience. It is meaningless, about on par with astrology. It was whipped up from Jungian nonsense. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are not INTP or whatever; you’ve not learned anything about yourself from taking the MB. It can seem convincing but it’s just the Forer effect.

    I’ve found it’s both descriptive, in a sense that doesn’t seem to be attributable to the Forer effect, and useful, even though it clearly doesn’t map in a straightforward fashion to, say, actual neurology. What’s your evidence that I’m mistaken in this?

  124. #124 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    I’m the idiot when all you can do is call me names?

    Was PZ arrogant to call out Fodor’s stupidity?

    Or it only goes one way around here?

  125. #125 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Was PZ arrogant to call out Fodor’s stupidity?

    How can PZ be arrogant to describe the truth? If you have trouble with PZ (who usually doesn’t respond to demands), usually the ilk will respond. If they don’t, maybe you have such a worthless argument it isn’t worth our trouble. That is the hint you need to take.

  126. #126 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    How can PZ be arrogant to describe the truth? If you have trouble with PZ (who usually doesn’t respond to demands), usually the ilk will respond. If they don’t, maybe you have such a worthless argument it isn’t worth our trouble. That is the hint you need to take.

    Yeah, that’s it. I remember PZ all over james randi for his recent comments re global warming. On the front page is his rant re fodor.

    Your emperor is naked on this topic and you’re still drinking his kool-aid.

    I’m fine with no response by PZ, but to call this science or skepticism is pretty sad. You epitomize that by not even addressing my claims (though that didn’t stop you from replying to insult me).

  127. #127 J Dubb
    February 25, 2010

    #123,
    Here’s a quick primer on Myers-Briggs. http://www.skepdic.com/myersb.html

    This is not to say that personality can’t be studied scientifically. The “big five” model is a good example.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits

  128. #128 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    Yes, and I agree that describing the truth can never be arrogant (sarcasm– wtf?)

  129. #129 jstevewhite.pip.verisignlabs.com
    February 25, 2010

    In reading through this thread full of vitriol, I can’t help but wonder if anyone actually read the article before they jumped on PZ’s bandwagon. I see someone said “6 points is irrelevant, but 15 might matter”… how about 11? See, PZ misquoted the article; it says 106, not 103, or eleven points instead of six – nearly twice the spread.

    And I’m not paying $32 to read the study – there are quite a few well documented studies available that show that as IQ increases the percentage of atheism increases as well – there’s a high correlation. No, correlation is not causation, I get that. And “data” is not the plural of “anecdotes”, which is apparently something the commenters in this thread should think about.

    I don’t have access to the work of this Satoshi Kanazawa, but he sounds like an easy target for derision. Steven Pinker might not be such a soft target; I read several of the studies in he cites, and they seem to have fairly rigorous methodology, in general. The categorical rejection of evolutionary psychology and IQ as a concept seems counter to fairly solid statistical data.

  130. #130 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    I’m the idiot when all you can do is call me names?

    Ahem…

  131. #131 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Bryan Pesta [real name] #41

    There’s a long list of research going back about 100 years showing that non-believers score significantly higher on IQ tests than do believers.

    Much recent research (some of it mine) shows the effect size to be about 4 IQ points (d = .20). That?s indeed a small effect, but is it worthless? Perhaps we should ask a scientist (i.e., not a blogger, but someone who publishes past peer-review).

    You’re kidding me. 4 whole IQ points? That’s less than one SD. It’s not statistically relevant. It’s certainly not “significantly higher.”

    Perhaps we should ask a statistician (i.e., not a psychologist but someone who knows about statistics) to explain that d=.20 isn’t significant.

  132. #132 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    J Dubb: From your link…

    Note: One reader wrote me to complain that my “claim that any type to a significant extent fits most people is absolute nonsense.” Perhaps others have also misread my concluding remarks in this entry. What I suggest is that some parts of the profiles could apply to most people, a characteristic shared by other kinds of readings such as astrological or psychic readings. I do not claim that any profile, taken as a whole, will fit most people. I am not suggesting that one type fits all.

    In any case, those who read the above article carefully recognize that the main problem is not with the accuracy of the profiles but with the way they are abused by employers and others.

  133. #133 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    You’re kidding me. 4 whole IQ points? That’s less than one SD. It’s not statistically relevant. It’s certainly not “significantly higher.”

    Perhaps we should ask a statistician (i.e., not a psychologist but someone who knows about statistics) to explain that d=.20 isn’t significant.

    please see the statistician Cohen and what effect size means in science.

    Please also check taylor russel tables for the practical validity and utility a .20 effect size can have re prediction accuracy.

  134. #134 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    Please also check taylor russel tables for the practical validity and utility a .20 effect size can have re prediction accuracy.

    That’s what she said.

  135. #135 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    Perhaps we should ask a statistician (i.e., not a psychologist but someone who knows about statistics) to explain that d=.20 isn’t significant.

    Were you not wholly ignorant, you might be surprised by how many statisticians are employed in psych departments.

    But please, keep demonstrating your expertise and keen skepticism / academic integrity here by your devastating critiques of my points…

  136. #136 Azkyroth
    February 25, 2010

    But please, keep demonstrating your expertise and keen skepticism / academic integrity here by your devastating critiques of my points…

    By all means, keep accusing us of being unskeptical for not just taking your word for something.

  137. #137 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 25, 2010

    Were you not wholly ignorant, you might be surprised by how many statisticians are employed in psych departments.

    Were you not a pompous asshole I’d tell you that while you may have a statistician hanging around your department lounge you personally don’t know jack shit about statistics.

    I challenge you. Show how d=.20 is significant. Show your work.

    Oh by the way, I’m an economist. I work with statistics every day.

  138. #138 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    You claim that a less than SD difference cannot be significant. That would flunk intro to stats. Any difference could be significant with big enough n. Whether it has practical significance is the issue, and I addressed that with my first post.

    I cite recent peer-reviewed data, with links to PDF files of the research. I’m not asking you to take my word– just to admit that PZ knows not what he’s talking about here, which is a shame given his reach and popularity.

    I seen the same shit with “scientist” greg laden’s blog, which explains my overly-snarky tone here (and I apologize for that, but this stuff frustrates the hell out of me).

    No one seems to agree with me, but PZ should be held to a higher standard. He should not get away with ignorant, a-scientific, comments in an area where he lacks expertise, especially given how quick he is to attack others for the same reason.

    No one agrees neither that calling this whole web site scienceblogs is an insult to science. At the very least, feature a disclaimer that this site is not about scientific education.

  139. #139 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    Ah, my last post is being held for perusal by a mod.

    Good, perhaps this is progress. I am very willing to have a skeptic here show me my ass. My reputation’s (outside “science”blogs) on the line here, so what do you have?

  140. #140 J Dubb
    February 25, 2010

    Azky, here’s an article mostly about learning styles, but includes a little paragraph on the Myers-Briggs, and a couple citations if you want to explore deeper.
    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/pspi/PSPI_9_3.pdf

  141. #141 Kagehi
    February 25, 2010

    When I was 9 my IQ score was about 95. By the time I reached 20 it was 120. And 30, 130…

    Mine was over 120 when 9, but I tend to suspect that nearly three years working with the idiots I do now has *lowered* it in the last 3 years, even assuming it rose in the prior 27 or so… lol

  142. #142 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 25, 2010

    You claim that a less than SD difference cannot be significant. That would flunk intro to stats. Any difference could be significant with big enough n. Whether it has practical significance is the issue, and I addressed that with my first post.

    You claimed there was a significant difference. It’s my understanding, and I admit I’m not a psychopathologist or anything like that, that the error bars for IQ tests were 10 points or 1 SD. If the difference is less than the error range, then you cannot pretend there’s any significant difference. That, asshole, is basic statistics.

    I seen the same shit with “scientist” greg laden’s blog, which explains my overly-snarky tone here (and I apologize for that, but this stuff frustrates the hell out of me).

    Fuck off. You can charging in here denouncing everyone from PZ on down. You may be the greatest psychopathologist since B.F. Skinner but I hope you’re involved in research rather than clinical work because the way you interact with others, particularly complete strangers, sucks.

  143. #143 DLC
    February 25, 2010

    Right. why would anyone with a brain buy this study ?
    It’s what they want to believe. “There are no intelligent .”

    As for Meyers -Briggs : I can score in 3 different categories depending on how the questions are asked.
    It’s the test itself. Like IQ tests, M-B is subject to test-designer bias. So, someone might actually be introverted, intuitive, a thinker and judgmental. But determining this through a simple test is just not likely to happen.

  144. #144 Escuerd
    February 25, 2010

    You claimed there was a significant difference. It’s my understanding, and I admit I’m not a psychopathologist or anything like that, that the error bars for IQ tests were 10 points or 1 SD. If the difference is less than the error range, then you cannot pretend there’s any significant difference. That, asshole, is basic statistics.

    There’s a basic error here. If you were comparing two individual IQ tests, then yes, something less than 1 SD would not be considered significant. But if you’re averaging a large number of people, then you can get the error bars to be smaller.

    We’re no longer dealing with the probability distribution of a single test score, but with the distribution of the mean of several test scores. The standard deviation of this distribution decreases as the square root of n.

    Imagine samples of two groups of people, one found to have average height 180 cm and the other with average height 170 cm. Even if the SD were something like 20 cm for each of them (I’m making these numbers up, of course.) that would not mean there’s no significant difference between the group averages. It would imply that there’s overlap between the groups, but that’s not the same as saying there’s “no significant difference.”

  145. #145 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    Sorry, I’m having problems posting here…*

    Cut below is a post I tried to make about 2 hours ago.

    My snarkiness: I have a history of jaw-dropping experiences with Scienceblogs. I was hoping PZ was different, but it doesn’t seem like it so far. I can see where most old-timers here would rightly conclude I am an ass. If you can get past the tone, here are the points I think need addressing (not because I am an awesome psychologist but because PZ is flatly wrong here):

    PZ is not an expert in this area.
    PZ put this thread in the category of “stupidity”
    PZ marginalizes a sub-discipline of science based on ignorant (i.e., non-expert) opinion.
    PZ whined when others did this to work in his field.
    PZ should admit he’s doing the very same here.

    This whole blog seems to be about educating people about science and the scientific method. You don’t think that creates some obligation on the part of the “science” bloggers? That is why PZ owes me a reply (the “owing” is to academic integrity and not because I personally posted the questions).

    ***

    *I will try cutting the original reply in a separate thread…third time’s a charm?

  146. #146 Haley
    February 25, 2010

    It’s good to know that PZ can be very objective about the data. I had a full round of intelligence testing in 8th grade (only 5 years ago…)including IQ testing, and I was diagnosed with ADD even though I got like a 128 or something. I’ve since been medicated. I’m still not sure if I could trust the doctor that administered the IQ test, because she also diagnosed me with anorexia just by looking at me.

    Also, INTP here. I think we’re the atheist personality type.

  147. #147 onethird-man
    February 25, 2010

    Um, the scientific method and statistics do not repeal and abase themselves because a discipline has a particular name.

    The conclusions are spurious, at best. The methods piecemeal and poorly described. If I were to take a list of measurements and conclude that “shorter people have rounder heads” after testing my classmates, it would not be supportable. My sample is small, all I can say is that head circumference appears on some level to corroborate with adult height in my sub-sample. This set of conclusions goes way beyond that, and it would be as if I said “A sufficiently short person’s head would be totally spherical, while a sufficiently tall person would have a head much like a Giger Alien.”

    It is one thing to say one has expertise, but things like Math don’t change for an individual* or just because one wants desperately for it to be so.

    *Except for Karl Rove, who managed to wrestle “The Math” from reality itself, superseding all of our assumptions about the universal nature of physical laws. Or it could just be that he was insane at the time. Or continuously insane with no let-up or abatement.

  148. #148 Escuerd
    February 25, 2010

    Haley, ADD/ADHD is not the same as having a low IQ, and its diagnosis is usually based on some other test, like the TOVA (Test Of Variables of Attention).

    I’m not a psychologist, and hope any will correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think that IQ is used to calculate an expected value for the TOVA score and ADHD is diagnosed if someone falls more than a couple of standard deviations below that. I.e. ADHD is seen as a deficiency in a specific area relative to your overall cognitive abilities.

  149. #149 Escuerd
    February 25, 2010

    BPesta, perhaps you should use something like Movable Type instead of Yahoo to register. I’m not sure if that’s the root of your posting problem, but it would make your name easier to look at.

  150. #150 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 25, 2010

    Onethird: Not sure I get your point, but I am assuming you read the actual journal article and not the linked summary when commenting on the lack of detail provided…?

  151. #151 Haley
    February 26, 2010

    Escuerd- yeah, I know that ADD != low IQ. I’m really tired. What I meant to say was that I did really well on the IQ test, but on other intelligence tests like the short term memory test, I failed miserably. I wasn’t diagnosed until 8th grade because I was able to compensate for my attention span with my high intelligence, and I’m not hyperactive so my parents didn’t seek treatment for that when I was young.

  152. #152 onethird-man
    February 26, 2010

    Yes, actually, I’d read it before it surfaced here, and in my broaching of the subject earlier in the thread I linked to the press release and publication summary by the author, not the referenced ScienceDaily link.

    It then, and still now, struck me as too hefty a conclusion from too flimsy a premise. Kind of like trying to make a Cessna out of cotton candy.

    It’s dangerous to make generalizations in a population, and this seemed far too generalizing based on very little data. I’m gratified to see that at least a few others also view it this way.

    If one deals at all with populations and variation, concrete assertions like “Atheists are smarter” or “Smarter people are atheists” without qualifiers and backed by a six-point variance in a scale that has a mean of 100 (allegedly) when IQ testing has never been an exact science…

    I’m used to what my wife does: clinical research, where all outliers and exceptions are documented, any potential even remote effects are noted, and still some effects are only discovered long term, only in some of the population… and this often with tens of thousands of data points, half of which are thrown out for quality reasons and much of it including placebo controls in double-blind settings.

    One cannot so much as assert “Tylenol works for everyone” not because of some who are allergic, but because there are mutants in the population who don’t feel pain. Seriously.

  153. #153 Bride of Shrek OM
    February 26, 2010

    I have a history of jaw-dropping experiences with Scienceblogs. I was hoping PZ was different, but it doesn’t seem like it so far.

    .. I have no wish to get into the current “debate” as I have no knowledge in this field but one has to wonder if the above sentence is true, why on Earth do you keep returning to Sci Blogs? Really, I ask this genuinely. If it’s that frustrating and annoying to you then why are you causing yourself stress and anxiety by coming back to a place like that?

    I don’t want you to take that as a “if you don’t like it bugger off” snark as it’s not (regulars here will know I’m not adverse to telling someone to fuck off if that’s what I intend to mean), I’m just genuinely curious.

  154. #154 Bjørn Østman
    February 26, 2010

    No one seems to agree with me, but PZ should be held to a higher standard. He should not get away with ignorant, a-scientific, comments in an area where he lacks expertise, especially given how quick he is to attack others for the same reason.

    I agree with you.

    Fuck off. You can charging in here denouncing everyone from PZ on down. You may be the greatest psychopathologist since B.F. Skinner but I hope you’re involved in research rather than clinical work because the way you interact with others, particularly complete strangers, sucks.

    Erhm…. The irony…

    .. I have no wish to get into the current “debate” as I have no knowledge in this field but one has to wonder if the above sentence is true, why on Earth do you keep returning to Sci Blogs? Really, I ask this genuinely. If it’s that frustrating and annoying to you then why are you causing yourself stress and anxiety by coming back to a place like that?

    SIWOTI?

  155. #155 Azkyroth
    February 26, 2010

    I’d be interested to see Mr. Yahoo describe in detail what he thinks he’s supposed to be finding here based on the “Science Blogs” label.

  156. #156 Bride of Shrek OM
    February 26, 2010

    Bjorn @ #156

    SIWOTI?

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    I was asking a genuine question you condescending concern troll so thanks for your sarcasm. Now piss off and try and randomly someone else down to make yourself feel big and strong.

  157. #157 Microraptor
    February 26, 2010

    I hope PZ is at least reading these comments. I very rarely comment here; the last time I can remember commenting in Pharyngula is when he posted about me in 2007. (That?s my webcomic he linked to there.) And part of why I?ve been reluctant to comment is because although I respect Myers for his anti-creationism efforts, in other areas of science such as psychology he sometimes rejects the overwhelming consensus of researchers in these fields, while providing little or no explanation for why he rejects it, which is a paradoxically creationist-like attitude.

    It seems like a double standard. On the one hand he mocks creationists and global warming skeptics for rejecting the conclusions of mainstream science, particularly when they lack the necessary training to fully understand the research behind them. But if he?s going to reject the conclusion of mainstream psychology about IQ as a valid measure of mental ability, without any training in this field, then he?s guilty of something similar.

    PZ, I don?t expect you to necessarily reply to me or to anyone else who?s been pointing this out, but I hope you?ll at least take what we?re saying to heart.

  158. #158 000.cacarr
    February 26, 2010

    I can’t comment on this particular study because I haven’t done the necessary reading. But, broadly speaking, PZ seems to think that biological things are evolutionary products — except for brains…specifically, human brains. In this area, he frequently sounds almost identical to social “scientists” for whom evolutionary logics are an impediment to some sort of “emancipatory,” neo-Marxist view of how the universe *ought* to be.

    I suspect Leda Cosmides would wipe the floor with his arse in a debate on the subject.

  159. #159 Al B. Quirky
    February 26, 2010

    “In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be” ..yadayadayada..

    Evolution is DESIGNED now? Is that a new “change”?

  160. #160 Teshi
    February 26, 2010

    Statistically meaningful or not, these statistics are insignficant. At the moment, it could indeed be that more science-brainy people are atheists, but that could simply be that they were raised in a science-brainy environment where as people of equal intelligence were raised in a arty-brainy environment where intelligence was directed towards skills that do not necessarily show up extremely well on an IQ test.

    *

    Also, controversially, for those quoting their Meyers-Briggs results as if they are set in stone and that is the cause of all their troubles: they are not. Your Meyers-Briggs results are, like your IQ results, practisable and modifiable.

    If you have problems with small talk, for example, you may not be able to turn yoursef into a social animal, but you can still practice talking to people and you can get better. Believe me.

    Like, I said, controversial. But most things can be learnt, and it worries me that people are quoting personality tests as evidence of failure.

  161. #161 000.cacarr
    February 26, 2010

    That’s an insubstantial quibble, Al — or maybe you’re just trying to be funny.

  162. #162 llewelly
    February 26, 2010

    Satoshi Kanazawa explains why we are losing the war on terror:

    It seems to me that there is one resource that our enemies have in abundance but we don?t: hate. We don?t hate our enemies nearly as much as they hate us. They are consumed in pure and intense hatred of us, while we appear to have PC?ed hatred out of our lexicon and emotional repertoire. We are not even allowed to call our enemies for who they are, and must instead use euphemisms like ?terrorists.? (As I explain elsewhere, we are not really fighting terrorists.) We may be losing this war because our enemies have a full range of human emotions while we don?t.

    This has never been the case in our previous wars. We have always hated our enemies purely and intensely. They were ?Japs,? they were ?Krauts,? they were ?Gooks.? And we didn?t think twice about dropping bombs on them, to kill them and their wives and children. (As many commentators have pointed out, the distinction between combatants and civilians does not make sense in World War III, and the Geneva Convention — an agreement among nations — is no longer applicable, because our enemies are not nation states.) Hatred of enemies has always been a proximate emotional motive for war throughout human evolutionary history. Until now.

    Here?s a little thought experiment. Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost.

    Yes, we need a woman in the White House, but not the one who?s running.

    (I know, I know, I know this thread is about his IQ research. But it’s so crazy I had to post it.)

  163. #163 El
    February 26, 2010

    He’s insane, and a son of a bitch. He sounds like a psicopath.

  164. #164 aratina cage of the OM
    February 26, 2010

    On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children.

    *jaw drops to the floor* This man would be fucking dangerous in any position of political power if he thinks this is a good idea. I don’t know if even Ann Coulter herself would go that far (from what little I’ve heard from her and of her, though, I guess there could be a tiny possibility she would support such wholesale genocide).

  165. #165 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children.

    One would hope US military commanders would have more sense than to obey such an order.

  166. #166 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 26, 2010

    One would hope US military commanders would have more sense than to obey such an order.

    They would. And we not need to worry about ever having Coutler as a pres. We need to worry about people who hold equally crazy ideas who know better than to expose their craziness to the public.

  167. #167 heddle
    February 26, 2010

    I love this kind of post. I thoroughly enjoy the Oh yes, you are right PZ. Quite so…but, you know, on the other hand… responses.

  168. #168 prasad
    February 26, 2010

    ‘Tis Himself, OM – Escuerd is right. It simply isn’t true that the means of broad distributions cannot be known precisely, or that you can’t separate the means of two different distributions to better than their standard deviations. I don’t think you understand what it means when people say things like ‘1-sigma differences are small’

  169. #169 WowbaggerOM
    February 26, 2010

    heddle wrote:

    I love this kind of post. I thoroughly enjoy the Oh yes, you are right PZ. Quite so…but, you know, on the other hand… responses.

    Yeah, we need to realise that, when it comes down to it, it’s intellectual honesty religious people are deficient in, not necessarily intelligence per se.

    I mean, take heddle – he’s amassed a vast store of ‘answers’ which he can produce at a moment’s notice when asked the kind of questions about his religious beliefs that produce serious cognitive dissonance. That level of sophisticated self-delusion would hardly be possibly if he were stupid, now, would it?

  170. #170 heddle
    February 26, 2010

    WowbaggerOM,

    Hmm.. I actually agree with the findings. For a number of reasons. Some even biblical: foolish shame the wise, weak the strong, I come for the sick/unrighteous not the healthy/righteous, etc.

    By the way, please look up cognitive dissonance. If I don’t feel a tension, then I don’t have it. I don’t so I don’t. The best you can claim is that I should have it.

  171. #171 Peter Ashby
    February 26, 2010

    Walton is right, in Western Europe where growing up atheist by default is becoming the norm and where working class antipathy to organised religion has long roots you would not expect this relationship at all. Only somewhere as religion soaked as the US, where you have in many cases to actively reject a religious upbringing could it even possibly be a true correlation.

  172. #172 onethird-man
    February 26, 2010

    It seems, and this is just me and based on a slightly larger sampling of data from this … man …

    He’s nucking futs.

    He appears to be reasoning from conclusion to data, rather than the other way around. There are plenty of other papers and other research which, indeed, look at the brain as an evolutionarily influenced organ. This (Kazanawa’s) is not one of them. He claims fanatics in another country have hate, which gives them an advantage. Rather than realizing that a monoculture makes people who cannot comprehend other cultures, and so their response is a base xenophobic one. This includes debasing, demeaning, and dehumanizing the “other” as well as considering the only solution to be complete annihilation.

    Is he seriously advocating this as a desired course of action?

    He’s one of the first psychological researchers I’ve encountered that actively encourages gazing into the abyss, and listening to it assiduously.

  173. #173 windy
    February 26, 2010

    If I were to take a list of measurements and conclude that “shorter people have rounder heads” after testing my classmates, it would not be supportable. My sample is small, all I can say is that head circumference appears on some level to corroborate with adult height in my sub-sample. This set of conclusions goes way beyond that, and it would be as if I said “A sufficiently short person’s head would be totally spherical, while a sufficiently tall person would have a head much like a Giger Alien.”

    It’s more like “There is a rather large dataset that suggests that shorter people may have slightly rounder heads. This must be because on the African savannah where humans evolved, shorter people were at a greater risk of being attacked by leopards, and a round head was adaptive because it would not fit as easily in the leopard’s jaws.” Not so much going beyond the data, but inventing a completely freakish explanation for it. (It may still be true that short people have rounder heads, or maybe there is a confounding factor in the data set, such as young people generally having rounder heads.)

  174. #174 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Sorry– this is epic yahoo man, signing in using AIM rather than Yahoo.

    Reflecting back, I do owe all regulars here an apology for my tone. I am extremely frustrated by scienceblogs, but it didn’t occur to me yesterday that no one else knows this or cares! So, again, sorry.

    ***

    Bride:

    Thanks. I spent literally 2 weeks of my life debating IQ on Laden’s blog. The lack of integrity, utter stupidity and complete ignorance of the literature (and unwillingness to even consider it) plus a my-way-or-the-highway close threads at will moderation style burned me up to now end.

    I know– internet, serious business. On any other site, I agree. But, again, this is SCIENCE blogs. We have Harvard educated ph.d.s acting like creationists here. The behavior I experienced (perhaps it’s not representative) was so appallingly non-science that I really think this site is doing a disservice to science in general and my field specifically.

    Worse than even creationism, IQ research is wholly completely utterly mis-represented by people who should know better. One of my aims in life is to help protect my brand and to show intelligence, open-minded people that (e.g.) Mismeasure of man is utter crap; we have 100 years of good-science data on IQ, and you might be surprised by the quality and strength of conclusions we can reach right now (indeed, IQ is the most powerful variable in social science).

    So, yes, I’m on a mission. Am I self important asshole? Perhaps– especially the first impression I gave to many here.

    Why is it an obsession to me? What if the field you spent a decade getting a degree in and is now your profession were so baldy maligned, misunderstood and mischaracterized by 99% of people out of field?

    The response of some in my field is to retreat to the ivory tower and go about their business. My approach is different.

    In sum, if science blogs were called something else, I’d stop. If PZ wasn’t the most popular science blog in the world, I’d stop. Til then, get it right or don’t offer an ignorant opinion when it carries so much weight.

  175. #175 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    By the way, please look up cognitive dissonance. If I don’t feel a tension, then I don’t have it. I don’t so I don’t. The best you can claim is that I should have it.

    There are at least two other options.

    First you could be lying when you say you do not experience cognitive dissonence. Given that you are known to engage in illectual dishonesty this is quite possible.

    Second, you mind could be broken. If you do not suffer cognotive dissonence when you should, then it may be that your cognitive process are abnormal. This seems to be your preffered explanation, and I can only suggest you consult a physchiatrist to see if anything can be done to improve you cognition.

  176. #176 Ol'Greg
    February 26, 2010

    @176

    I can’t debate IQ with you because I’m not qualified, but I do hope that someone who is engages you as it could be a good learning opportunity.

    I don’t know that PZ seems to be taking on the whole of IQ testing as irrelevant, but maybe only the work of that particular scientist who does seem a bit unbalanced from the links provided at least. So I’m not sure if trying to engage people in such a way as to say the entire field of IQ is rubbish will produce much anyway.

    Would you be willing to tell me what you think IQ testing provides when you say it is the most valuable variable in social science?

    I am inclined to think that rather than people here being just specifically biased against IQ testing, that IQ testing has been misused to such a degree that many people’s contact with it is very bad and lends credence to the worst ideas about it.

    Perhaps some specific information from an expert in the field could be helpful?

  177. #177 https://me.yahoo.com/a/beBFMFlvrOccd2hs7jx42uyrgCwOPEcXXw--#62058
    February 26, 2010

    “Here?s a little thought experiment. Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost.

    Yes, we need a woman in the White House, but not the one who?s running.”

    Kanazawa, on http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200803/why-we-are-losing-war

    Holy fucking shit. They let this guy teach?

  178. #178 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Ol’Greg.

    Thanks for your comments. I indeed challenged Laden to a public debate on the JREF– he refused (I think he worries more about page hits than discussing science).

    PZ has made at least a few ignorant comments re IQ in the past two years or so. Doesn’t mean my worldview is correct, but his in this area is based on something he whines about when directed at his field (i.e., ignorance).

    I never said valuable I said powerful. By that I mean predictive validity.

    -There’s not much IQ doesn’t predict (education, income, job performance, crime, health, religiosity).

    -It’s the strong rule– with few exceptions (in fact I can’t think of any off the top of my head) that if there’s an important outcome variable, IQ will be the single best (but not only) predictor of that outcome

    -Cultural bias does not exist on IQ tests (except using english-based tests on people whose native language is not english, but that’s the tester’s fault not the test’s)

    -IQ measures (quite well) individual differences in how fast and efficiently brains process information

    -Factor x variables (the most popular is income/ses or “exposure to western culture) simply do not explain why IQ predicts. Control SES and IQ still predicts (it may even be that IQ causes SES. I believe that people create environments and not vice versa).

    -My world view is not based on one study, or a controversial figure like the researcher in the OP. It’s decades of research replicated as well as any effects in social science.

    -I could be completely wrong, but so far, I believe my world view is evidence-driven.

    -The field is now attempting to show causality (a sticky wicket in any field). I believe that IQ is a fundamental (but not the only) cause of human well-being.

    I guess that’s it for now. I am helping coach an academic competition and will likely be completely unavailable later this evening and all day Sat.

  179. #179 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2010

    But, broadly speaking, PZ seems to think that biological things are evolutionary products — except for brains…specifically, human brains.

    What annoying bullshit.

    No. The brain is entirely the product of biology and evolution. There are intrinsic differences between the brains of individuals. There are even genes that directly influence intelligence, broadly defined.

    However, intelligence is not simply reducible to a single number. There are batteries of tests that spit out single numbers as a result, and there is a lot of research digging into those numbers, but they do not correspond to intelligence, except when you simply define intelligence as IQ. I find that whole domain of study to be masturbatory and obscurantist.

    A good study of the evolution of the brain will find that it is multifactorial, complex, and not at all reducible to a single value. It will also reveal that there are heritable components that define potential and plasticity, not absolute capacity, and that culture and individual experience are the major determinants of actual, practical performance.

  180. #180 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    The brain is entirely the product of biology and evolution.

    It is hard to see how it could be anything other than the product of biology and evolution.

    I can only think bpesta22 is conflating natural selection with evolution. Whilst an important mechanism in evolution it is not the only one.

  181. #181 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 26, 2010

    It is obvious bpesta22 is a True BelieverTM, who isn’t swayed by conflicting evidence. He only looks at the evidence that supports his biases. The true scientist looks at all the evidence, including the evidence that says IQ itself isn’t all that meaningful, besides the ability to take an IQ test and do well on it.

  182. #182 windy
    February 26, 2010

    I can only think bpesta22 is conflating natural selection with evolution.

    PZ was quoting 000.cacarr, not bpesta.

  183. #183 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    PZ was quoting 000.cacarr, not bpesta.

    Ooooops.

    My mistake.

  184. #184 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Yes, thanks– he was not replying to me. PZ is clearly wrong, but I don’t expect him to debate me here or anywhere about it (one debate PZ would lose).

    I just wonder why these single number IQ scores predict so much, and that when people try to measure sub-domains of IQ (multiple intelligences, whatever) they don’t predict anything beyond what that single number does. But, I’m only relying on peer-reviewed science; not Pz’s uninformed intuitions.

  185. #185 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 26, 2010

    Yawn, the TBTM is a boring and wrong troll. What else is new?

  186. #186 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    -Cultural bias does not exist on IQ tests (except using english-based tests on people whose native language is not english, but that’s the tester’s fault not the test’s)

    Really ?

    So asking how many postage stamps can be bought for dollar is not a cultural bias ?

    Here is a hint, most countries in the world do not use the dollar.

  187. #187 Sven DiMilo
    February 26, 2010

    It is hard to see how it could be anything other than the product of biology and evolution.
    I can only think bpesta22 000.cacarr is conflating natural selection with evolution. Whilst an important mechanism in evolution it is not the only one.

    No, 000.cacarr is rhetorically conflating “brain” and “mind”. There really are a lot of smart people who think that there cannot possibly be heritable variation in “intelligence” however defined. A dogmatic rejection of evolutionary psychology, such as one might infer (incorrectly, I think) from PZ’s “the stupidity and groundlessnessof freakishly fact-free evolutionary psychology,” is a common symptom and/or cause of this idea.
    PZ’s statement in response @#181 is commendably clear and straightforward, except maybe the last sentence, which is not so clear (the difference between ‘potential’ and ‘capacity’ is?).
    Having followed, and participated a bit, in Pesta’s discussions with Laden+Z, I share some of his frustration. Let’s just say that nothing over there is clear and straightforward.

  188. #188 windy
    February 26, 2010

    A good study of the evolution of the brain will find that it is multifactorial, complex, and not at all reducible to a single value.

    But couldn’t a single measurement be correlated with some interesting aspect of the biology of the brain, even if it’s a vast oversimplification?

  189. #189 Stephen Wells
    February 26, 2010

    @190: There’ll always be a biggest component in a principle components analysis. Reifying it into The Prime Component or The Intelligence Quotient is dangerous.

  190. #190 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Ok, so as to not waste more time: I formally challenge PZ myers to a debate on IQ to be hosted at the JREF (though so far I trust his integrity enough to host it here, but I think any type of vote on who won would be biased since posters here obviously like PZ).

    To win, I literally have to change minds. My experience is that this is near impossible to do, even when skeptics are in the audience.

    For PZ to win, he just has to mutter the standard conventional “wisdoms” (albeit they’re incorrect) and be PZ. PZ is also a brilliant writer, so this should be an easy victory on many counts.

    I am risking my reputation here (colleagues may be watching!).

    I expect now people to comment on how arrogant I am to assume PZ should bother replying to a concern (or whatever) troll like me.

    Or, that I am just trying to secure attention / a place in the internet community by the challenge (I assure you science blogging is a career killer if one’s goal is to publish scientific journal articles. I have no interest in doing this beyond protecting my field).

    Or, that I am not a true skeptic and no amount of truth from the opposition will make me admit I am wrong.

    Fine.

    If this is ignored or rejected, than just please consider that PZs next post about IQ should include a disclaimer wherein he admits he doesn’t know wtf he’s talking about with regard to research in this area.

  191. #191 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2010

    The brain has a certain capacity for acquiring information, which represents a limit on how much you can know. We bump up against it all the time — there’s good experimental evidence on our ability to memorize or visualize numbers, for instance.

    We also have differences in potential for learning. We all know people who take to mathematics easily, for instance, and others that struggle to grasp basic concepts.

    Both of those kinds of limits on intelligence have a biological basis. There may also be heritable variation in those abilities, although I’m not entirely convinced that there is (early education is important, and confounds every study on this subject!).

    What I am certain of, though, is that trying to reduce multiple biological and environmental influences to a single mysterious g factor is bad science that buries all the interesting variables under one stupid umbrella idea. “g” has no physical instantiation, no locus, no measurable influence on anything biological — it’s all abstraction and hand-waving. It desperately needs to be decomposed into addressable components before it has any utility at all.

  192. #192 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    One of the problems I have with IQ tests, is that they do show a differences in IQ between different ethic groups.

    Now either this is an intrinsic difference or there are other factors at play, such as economic status, educational opportunities etc. Cultural differences in other words, and something IQ tests are supposed to take into account.

    What is intriguing is that it is those who are socially, economically, and educationally disadvantaged that perform worst on IQ tests. If there was an innate difference that would not be the case.

  193. #193 Sven DiMilo
    February 26, 2010

    It is obvious bpesta22 is a True BelieverTM, who isn’t swayed by conflicting evidence. He only looks at the evidence that supports his biases. The true scientist looks at all the evidence, including the evidence that says IQ itself isn’t all that meaningful, besides the ability to take an IQ test and do well on it.

    Who has provided such evidence on this thread,Nerd? Anyone? You?

    No.

    Yawn, the TBTM is a boring and wrong troll.

    And whether you agree with him or not, Pesta is not trolling. I am so tired of you immediately calling anybody you disagree with a ‘troll’ that I just killfiled your ass.

    I should add that I think Pesta’s been kind of a dick–“(terminal?)” was particularly unnecessary and assholish–but he apologized.

  194. #194 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    early education is important, and confounds every study on this subject!

    But that would be a cultural difference, and we have been told that IQ tests do not have a cultural bias!

  195. #195 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Gez PZ. With all due respect you don’t know what you are talking about. I can cite dozens of studies on g’s correlation with a host of neuropsych variables (even the speed with which a single neuron fires, or it’s level of myelin).

    Don’t do a laden on me. You have too much power and respect in the science community (rightfully so, except in this area) to drop the ball like this.

  196. #196 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Out to shovel snow. This is Cleveland, not Minnesota!

    Oh, and go cavs!

  197. #197 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    I can only assume that research that bpesta cites must be very involved since it would mean coming up with a separate IQ test for every subject.

    After all everyone has a different background, and a good part of that difference could be labelled cultural. So a test that is not biased for one person could well be biased for another.

  198. #198 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2010

    Do you have even an inkling of how often I get that grandstanding challenge — pay attention to me or you have to admit you’re wrong! — from creationists? It’s practically daily. Whenever I see that rhetorical construction, I automatically dismiss the person as an irrational fool.

    Make your case. Don’t brag about how you would make your case if you had the right environment and the right audience and the right venue and the attention of the one guy you’re accusing of being all wrong, but since you don’t have sufficient public courting, you can’t possibly make that killer argument.

  199. #199 liberalbiorealism
    February 26, 2010

    However, intelligence is not simply reducible to a single number. There are batteries of tests that spit out single numbers as a result, and there is a lot of research digging into those numbers, but they do not correspond to intelligence, except when you simply define intelligence as IQ. I find that whole domain of study to be masturbatory and obscurantist.

    Yet the remarkable fact about intelligence as measured by any test psychologists have been able to devise is how consistently it does seem to be reducible in large part to one number, so-called g.

    A priori, there was no particular reason to believe it would turn out to be so. What they discovered, and kept confirming, is that tests of seemingly quite disparate abilities inevitably wound up highly correlated when measured. Why should, say, ability to repeat backwards a sequence of numbers (a measure of working memory) be so highly correlated with ability to understand analogies, or to read with understanding a passage, or to use a large vocabulary? And why should such abilities be demonstrably greatly heritable, as shown in twin studies among many other lines of evidence?

    You simply ignore the many efforts over a century to try to find other variables in intelligence that can be independently measured and don’t ultimately reduce almost entirely to g. Not a single one of those efforts has held up, including the latest attempts of Robert Sternberg.

    And you’re really on the wrong side of history here, even as the environmental hypothesis goes. Even such prominent environmental advocates as Richard Nesbitt and James Flynn are pretty much throwing in the towel on the centrality and inevitability of IQ and g. Mostly, they are disputing whether IQ and g are really as heritable as claimed. Suffice it to say, they have a really tough argument on that score; the evidence is quite stacked against them.

  200. #200 Stephen Wells
    February 26, 2010

    @197: well why don’t you go right ahead and do that then? One or more cites on correlation between g and speed of neuronal firing, please, I’m interested.

  201. #201 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    Ok, so as to not waste more time: I formally challenge PZ myers to a debate on IQ to be hosted at the JREF (though so far I trust his integrity enough to host it here, but I think any type of vote on who won would be biased since posters here obviously like PZ).

    Sorry, but since when has scientific veracity been decided by a vote ?

  202. #202 RijkswaanVijanD
    February 26, 2010

    While searching for the actual article I stumbled on “Why night owls are more intelligent”
    It’s a prime example of another brilliant study by Kanazawa. Here, to me it seems he’s measuring for differences in development and onset of puberty among children, testing for a correlation of these to circadian rhythm; mistakingly adressing it as a correlation of IQ and circadian rhythm..
    Decent fundings for (indecent) IQ research going on somewhere?? Intelligence = big business?

  203. #203 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    This is different PZ.

    Unlike probably everyone else you may have debated, Science is on my side. I have the peer-reviewed data. You made 6-10 claims in a post above; the field shows conclusively all are wrong.

    Suspend disbelief for a moment, and assume I might be correct. If so, do you not see this as problematic for the ?number 1 science blogger on the net?? You are quick to mock and trash many (even james randi) when they make comments ignorant of the scientific literature. Will you turn the skeptical process on yourself and least investigate whether your conventional wisdoms re IQ might be wrong?

    I agree, I don’t think you owe me a debate. I am standing on the shoulders of giants, but I myself have only about 5 journal articles on this topic. I have no internet fame and you rightly have no obligation to spend further time addressing my posts.

    You do, though, have an obligation to Science. Anyone can blog; few have authority. You have authority. Surely you?ve noticed the trend today where expert scientific advice is no better no worse than, say, Sarah Palin?s advice. That?s dangerous. You escalate the danger here when you speak with authority on topics you clearly know nothing about.

    I apologize personally to you for my tone here (long story based on experiences with your colleague). As I mentioned to your colleague, I believe so strongly in protecting the brand (the word, Science) that I have it tattooed on my arm (inside a Darwin fish!).

  204. #204 claire-chan
    February 26, 2010

    I thought that article was somewhat suspicious, but said nothing since it had a nice conclusion. I didn’t know how long until it’d make its appearance here.

  205. #205 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2010

    No, it’s the same thing. You keep claiming you have science on your side, and think you’d clean my clock in a debate…but for some odd reason, you can’t bring yourself to actually present the evidence right here.

    Not interested.

  206. #206 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Fair enough.

    I hope your next post on the topic at least gives you pause.

  207. #207 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2010

    That perhaps I’ll pause because someone will persistently complain that they have secret evidence that I’m completely wrong, which they cannot divulge here, but that they’re certain completely undermines my every premise?

    Nah, that won’t ever cause me even a millisecond of hesitation.

  208. #208 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 26, 2010

    Bryan here– locked myself out of the other log-on.

    I’m content to stop wasting your time, but you might try this very thread / my first post here (#41) which in my humble opinion directly contradicts the ill-informed claims you made in your OP here.

  209. #209 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 26, 2010

    Wow, I was pretty snarky @ 41. Sorry!

  210. #210 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnIOM7E1COYryEQtIb0ErmXlTEuXvdorFE
    February 26, 2010

    You simply ignore the many efforts over a century to try to find other variables in intelligence that can be independently measured and don’t ultimately reduce almost entirely to g. Not a single one of those efforts has held up, including the latest attempts of Robert Sternberg.

    Hmm.

    If that is so, then can you explain to me why different people’s abilities do not seem to be correlated generally?

    If a single factor is highly correlated to all those interesting attributes, how come those attributes aren’t all correlated to each other?

    Or is the claim that they are? In which case, again, how does that explain the observation that people’s abilities differ widely in direction, not only in amount?

    Either there’s something very unobvious going on here, or else what you claim doesn’t mean what it sounds like.

  211. #211 liberalbiorealism
    February 26, 2010

    PZ,

    I can’t say that I’ve followed the back and forth of your argument with bpesta, but I will say this: it’s rather troubling to see you make the sort of dismissive claims about IQ without any real argument to back it up. This is independent of whether or not bpesta in particular has himself a good argument. If you dismiss what is a scientific claim, as is the assertion of the salience of and predictive importance of IQ, you’re really not entitled, as a scientist, to dismiss it without even the slightest real attempt to build an argument.

    Look, whether or not IQ and g measure intelligence is an argument that goes back roughly a full century. Some of the finest minds in all of social science, including a number of the founding fathers of statistics, have weighed in on this issue, and most have come to accept the centrality of IQ. I should think that a scientist might recognize that, if he is going to reject their thinking, it should be on the basis of something a little more cogent than some hunch he has that intelligence simply must be basically multifactorial.

    Trust me when I say that many, many other scientists who have addressed this matter have had the same hunch, going nearly all the way back to the very genesis of psychometric testing. What is remarkable is just how poorly that hunch has held up in the face of the evidence. At the very least, the dismissal of the contrary view as somehow stupid could hardly be more ill supported by actual scientific findings.

    Good scientists realize very clearly that their hunches, even when they seem very plausible a priori, can turn out to be roundly false when tested against reality.

    Do you wish to be a good scientist?

  212. #212 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 26, 2010

    Look up SLODR if you’re wondering why some of your smart friends seem much better in math versus verbal and vice versa.

  213. #213 Escuerd
    February 26, 2010

    llewelly @164:

    Wow, I had never heard of Kanazawa before this post, but I think any non-lunatic would be convinced that he is a lunatic on reading that.

  214. #214 windy
    February 26, 2010

    Thanks. I spent literally 2 weeks of my life debating IQ on Laden’s blog.

    You’re not the only one to end up frustrated over various subjects there. Have you checked out Gene Expression?

    If IQ researchers in social science feel that they are not getting taken seriously by biologists, I have a suggestion for something they could do as well: try to get more input from evolutionary biologists in your research and in the review process. I don’t know how respected Social Psychology Quarterly is, but I don’t think you could easily publish this kind of wild conjecture in an evolutionary biology journal. (At least not if it was any other species.)

    I completely understand that you don’t like when people disrespect your field of study, but you are kind of doing the same by calling Kanazawa only “controversial”, when his conclusions are a JOKE and an embarrassment to people attempting to make careful, testable hypotheses about the evolution of behavior. IMO, of course.

  215. #215 Escuerd
    February 26, 2010

    Bride of Shrek @ 158:

    I’m not sure that Bjørn Østman was being sarcastic (or maybe there was just something there that I didn’t pick up on). I interpreted that response as suggesting that perhaps BPesta was here because of the SIWOTI compulsion. It’s certainly the reason I’ve continued to post in many forums that I’ve found infuriating.

    I think that there is some good that comes from that too, as it’s one of the things that helps reduce the tendency people have to self-sort by views.

  216. #216 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Windy– points well taken. I am not willing to demean a colleague in public, especially when I have enough combatants out of field.

    Certainly, his study was not published in Intelligence, but SPQ has an impact factor near 3, so it can’t be that bad a journal.

    There will be a very interesting article (not by me) coming soon that indeed links evo psych to one aspect of intelligence. I agree, the field needs more inter-disciplinary collaboration.

  217. #217 Bjørn Østman
    February 26, 2010

    Escuerd, I was not being sarcastic.

    Posted by: Bride of Shrek OM Author Profile Page | February 26, 2010 4:13 AM

    Bjorn @ #156

    SIWOTI?

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    I was asking a genuine question you condescending concern troll so thanks for your sarcasm. Now piss off and try and randomly someone else down to make yourself feel big and strong.

    Fiona, I really am amazed at the vitriol. I was suggesting that Bryan Pesta perhaps felt that he had to correct what he considers wrongheaded ideas about IQ research. You asked a genuine question, and I genuinely hinted at a possible answer.

    SIWOTI

    Acronym for “someone is wrong on the internet.” Describes the compulsion to post rebuttals to online nonsense, in the vain hope that it will somehow set the record straight.

    I try to stay away from Dinesh D’Souza’s ravings, but when you’ve got SIWOTI syndrome, the man is like a magnet of wrong. (PZ Myers, 3/April/2008)

    What did you think I thought SIWOTI syndrome was?

  218. #218 bpesta22
    February 26, 2010

    Stephen– sorry I missed your request. The literature on reaction time and IQ is vast. It seems like you’re interested in the brain links:

    Intelligence recently had a whole issue devoted to the topic. This is the tip of the ice-berg, but current. The link will likely be ghastly, sorry

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=PublicationURL&_tockey=%23TOC%236546%232009%23999629997%23947081%23FLA%23&_cdi=6546&_pubType=J&_auth=y&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=19ed7d891a252d16d8eaf94bfe36daba

  219. #219 WowbaggerOM
    February 26, 2010

    heddle wrote:

    By the way, please look up cognitive dissonance. If I don’t feel a tension, then I don’t have it. I don’t so I don’t. The best you can claim is that I should have it.

    Which is a claim I take about as seriously as the one that your god exists, heddle. If you weren’t dissonant you wouldn’t adore tossing out your desperate sophistry in places like this; it’s obvious that it’s far less about convincing us than it is reassuring yourself so you can sleep at night.

    You’re a physicist who claims belief in God, for fuck’s sake. That’s almost as bad as being a neurosurgeon who endorses phrenology.

  220. #220 heddle
    February 26, 2010

    WowbaggerOM,

    You’re a physicist who claims belief in God, for fuck’s sake. That’s almost as bad as being a neurosurgeon who endorses phrenology.

    But I don’t think so, so it’s not cognitive dissonance. Delusional? Perhaps. Insane? Perhaps. Cognitive dissonance? Nope. Just saying–I’d think you’d want to use the term accurately. But I guess not.

    You should experience cognitive dissonance at knowingly using the term cognitive dissonance incorrectly.

  221. #221 Foggg
    February 26, 2010

    `From BPesta’s link, first 2 abstracts I looked at:

    Gray matter and intelligence factors: Is there a neuro-g?
    …Regional gray matter (GM) was determined using voxel-based-morphometry (VBM) and correlated to g-scores. Results showed correlations distributed throughout the brain, but there was limited overlap with brain areas identified in a similar study that used a different battery of tests to derive g-scores. Comparable spatial scores (with g variance removed) also were derived from both batteries, and there was considerable overlap in brain areas where GM was correlated to the respective spatial scores. The results indicate that g-scores derived from different test batteries do not necessarily have equivalent neuro-anatomical substrates, suggesting that identifying a ?neuro-g? will be difficult. The neuro-anatomical substrate of a spatial factor, however, appears more consistent and implicates a distributed network of brain areas that may be involved with spatial ability. Future imaging studies directed at identifying the neural basis of intelligence may benefit from using a psychometric test battery chosen with specific criteria.

    Specific spacial, yes. Neural g, no.

    This one involves an “intel” test battery (Raven’s Matrices), but 2 specific tasks done in the fMRI.

    Exploring possible neural mechanisms of intelligence differences using processing speed and working memory tasks: An fMRI study
    …we examined the associations between Raven’s Matrices scores and two tasks that were administered in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) setting. The two tasks were an n-back working memory task and inspection time.
    Performance on both tasks was correlated significantly with scores on Raven’s Matrices.
    In the inspection time task there were regions with significant correlations between the neural activity and performance but not between neural activity and scores on Raven’s Matrices. In the working memory task there were no significant correlations between neural activity and either performance or scores on Raven’s Matrices. Moreover, there was almost no mediation of the Raven’s Matrices versus n-back and inspection time scores correlations by the respective neural activity. These findings partially replicate important aspects of a prominent report in this field …, but have also extended the those finding into both a unique population and a novel functional task.

    Specific tasks: Introspection, yes. Working memory, no.
    But broad Raven’s Matrices measure, no. Looks like bad news for the “general measure.”

  222. #222 Hannah
    February 26, 2010

    Kanazawa was the author of that horrible book, “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters” – a total skewering of evolutionary psychology employing questionable hypotheses and unsound methods. (Sorry if someone else has already pointed this out – I’m not reading through 200+ comments to see.) And I object to the idea that religious people are just not as intelligent. They’ve simply been brainwashed into what they believe. What they need is not a higher IQ but an opportunity to think for themselves.

  223. #223 Matt Penfold
    February 26, 2010

    But I don’t think so, so it’s not cognitive dissonance.

    No, it just means your ability to recognise cognitive dissonance is not working.

    If a fire alarm is not going off, but there is smoke and flames it is more likely that the alarm is broken than there is not actually a fire.

  224. #224 sexycelticlady
    February 26, 2010

    @ Foggg #223

    The first study quoted finds differences in the tests used rather than, as you imply, no correlation between g and region grey matter, one of the tests has a high statistical correlation but there is criticism about the nature of the test as it does not follow the recomendations by the authors.

    The abstract immediately after the first one you quoted says this…

    “Neuroimaging studies, using various modalities, have evidenced a link between the general intelligence factor (g) and regional brain function and structure in several multimodal association areas. While in the last few years, developments in computational neuroanatomy have made possible the in vivo quantification of cortical thickness, the relationship between cortical thickness and psychometric intelligence has been little studied. Recently, cortical thickness estimations have been improved by the use of an iterative hemisphere-specific template registration algorithm which provides a better between-subject alignment of brain surfaces. Using this improvement, we aimed to further characterize brain regions where cortical thickness was associated with cognitive ability differences and to test the hypothesis that these regions are mostly located in multimodal association areas. We report associations between a general cognitive ability factor (as an estimate of g) derived from the four subtests of the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence and cortical thickness adjusted for age, gender, and scanner in a large sample of healthy children and adolescents (ages 6?18, n = 216) representative of the US population. Significant positive associations were evidenced between the cognitive ability factor and cortical thickness in most multimodal association areas. Results are consistent with a distributed model of intelligence.”

    It seems like there is evidence for and against, as usual within most science, it is not a clear cut senario. Seeing as the first two abstracts you looked at were actually from the first (# 3 in the issue, first research paper) and ninth (#11) papers in that journal and there are several positive and ambivalent papers in between it leads me to question your selectivity in abstracts.

  225. #225 Microraptor
    February 26, 2010

    PZ Myers wrote:

    ?You keep claiming you have science on your side, and think you’d clean my clock in a debate…but for some odd reason, you can’t bring yourself to actually present the evidence right here.?

    Have you looked at the report from the National Academy of Sciences that I cited in post #19? It discusses a lot of the points that bpesta22 is making, and supports most of them. Discussing individual studies here would probably be pretty time-consuming (there are hundreds, if not thousands of them), but this is one of the best available overviews of the data on this subject that existed as of 1982, and it?s obviously been published by a pretty respectable organization.

    I can cite overviews of this topic by other major scientific organizations that reached the same conclusion (there?s also one published by the American Psychological Association in 1996), but I think the National Academy of Sciences probably is the one that carries the most weight.

  226. #226 Bjørn Østman
    February 26, 2010

    Hannah:

    And I object to the idea that religious people are just not as intelligent.

    This line of reasoning seems to be common here. “I don’t like the conclusion, so I will object.” As Bryan has noted more than once, this is (supposed to be) about science.

    Worthless thread, basically.

  227. #227 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 26, 2010

    The neuro-iq links are tough reads w/o the background?I do think the selective quotes above are misleading (i.e., they do not show problems with the idea that g exists). I doubt there is a place in the brain we can point to and say: ?yup, that?s intelligence?. Fortunately, g theory doesn?t predict that such a place should exist.

    IQ ? like memory– seems to be nowhere-specifically but everywhere-generally in the brain. IQ is a proxy for g?general mental ability; it?s the shared variance across diverse mental tests. Take the within person correlation on math, verbal, spatial, speed and other diverse tests; that?s g. That g exists is proved by the positive manifold (within person differences on a host of mental tests will always be smaller than between person differences), among other things (including its impressive criterion validity, which led me to claim it?s ?the most powerful variable in social science?).

    Show no positive manifold and you have falsified g. Good luck. It?s why Gardner?s multiple intelligences and Spearman?s 3 IQs have failed miserably: No one has yet been able to devise a mental task that predicts things once the g-loading of the task is factored out.

    How can IQ be just one score? Because it?s an index of individual differences (i.e. a rank ordering) in how fast / efficient brains process information. Not good enough? Well what level of reductionism do you require? Speed of neurons? Myelin? Brain volume / size (in vivo)? Ok, we got studies showing the link. Performance on simple, choice and semi-complex reaction time tasks? All g-loaded.

    It?s a good rule of thumb that if a mental task takes between 200 milliseconds and 2 seconds, individual differences in intelligence/IQ/g will drive the variance on the task. Faster than 200 ms and we?re really measuring sensation. Longer than 2 seconds and we are measuring hard-to-pin down higher-order cognitive processes. Differences in strategies for solving problems muck up the g/performance relationship.

    To those who say these higher processes are intelligence; and g is not. Ok, show me data where performance on them predicts anything important after g is controlled for. Good luck.
    What is clear: some minimum level of g is needed to do well on higher-order cognitive processes (decision making; problem solving; creativity). But, I do not believe those higher-order process are g/IQ.

    It?s highly unlikely PZ is familiar with any of this, simply because this is not his field. At the very least, the neuro-IQ links show two things: (1) literature in this area is quite sophisticated; (2) many real scientists (neuropsychologists) are on the g band wagon. All this in general shows that PZ?s world view on IQ is ignorant. Given how he attacks ignorance directed at his field, I think someone should point out he?s not wearing any clothes when talks about this topic.

  228. #228 onethird-man
    February 27, 2010

    I might be more convinced by IQ except for one thing – well, several things, actually, but besides the self-appreciative nature of the last few posts, I’m reminded of something I read from the dawn of anthropology. I’ll quote (words from the 1916 edition of “The International Scientific Series: Anthropology”, not anything even remotely what I think) :

    In measuring the minds of the lower races, a good test is how far their children are able to take a civilized education. The account generally given by European teachers who have had the children of lower races in their schools is that, though they often learn as well as the white children up to about twelve years old, they then fall off, and are left behind by the children of the ruling race. This fits with what anatomy teaches of the less development of the brain in the Australian and African than in the European.

    Note that here we have an observation: children are the same up to about age twelve.

    Now it becomes unscientific: the conjecture is made that this is endemic. Rather than attempt to account for the data, or isolate the effect, or attempt to figure out why age 12 is such a difference making age, it is simply put that some people are more advanced, and the proof is that they are more advanced.

    Now, that last sentence is really obviously stating something that is self-affirming, but not necessarily true or supportable.

    If you measure the volume of cups by how much liquid is in them, and you then state how much they can hold based on how much they held, well… that doesn’t really tell you anything. Without knowing or even trying to know how much their maximum capacity is, you’ve really learned the minimum, not any kind of maximum. That’s the self-affirming nature of discounting socioeconomics in testing, and assuming that a number can determine most of life.

    Think for a moment: you’re just turning twelve, you’re just now becoming aware of what your real opportunities in life are. Now, you’re told that your best situation is serving some other guy by taking tickets and hauling luggage, how much more interest are you going to have in anything more than what it would take to do that job? How much resentment are you going to harbor towards the teacher that filled your head with dreams only to then stomp on them (metaphorically) and still expects you to do work that will not help you a whit?

    I think that despair is a valid dimension in measuring intelligence, and something to be controlled for. Dismissal of socioeconomic status smacks, to me, of the above assessment from nearly one-hundred years ago: unscientific and unsupported.

  229. #229 Foggg
    February 27, 2010

    sexycelticlady :
    The first study quoted finds differences in the tests used rather than, as you imply, no correlation between g and region grey matter,
    ?g? is quantified by collections of tests for ?g?. The various tests except spacial are neurally uncorrelated. ?Identifying a ?neuro-g? will be difficult.? Do you disagree?

    one of the tests has a high statistical correlation

    As I indeed said, spacial is correlated. As they thought it would be, and why they separated it out. Unsurprisingly. Spacial is not the ?general measure?.

    It seems like there is evidence for and against, as usual within most science, it is not a clear cut senario.

    Perhaps you should direct this comment to BPesta. He seems to find correlations clear cut.

    Seeing as the first two abstracts you looked at were actually from the first (# 3 in the issue, first research paper) and ninth (#11) papers in that journal and there are several positive and ambivalent papers in between it leads me to question your selectivity in abstracts.

    I started unsurprisingly with the first article title citing g. Whose conclusions surprised me. I then skipped to one with ?processing speed?and fMRI in the title, per BPesta’s discussion.
    (Actually I first looked at the intro editorial abstract hoping to find some specific guidance for the issue, but it failed.)

    I guessed a gross measure like a healthy cortex’s thickness would imply just what you copied, more neurons the better, broadly – and skipped it. ?Positive association between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in healthy 6 to 18 year-olds?. OKfinewhoop.
    It’s always good to begin by accusing people of dishonesty. It keeps them honest.
    Like it’s always good to start one’s first comments on a blog with tales of what has gone on at some other blog. It sounds like a long-running soap opera and gets people interested.

    To repeat the 2009 sophisticated fMRI study in BPesta’s referenced issue:
    Regarding inspection time: no significant correlation between neural activity and scores on Raven’s Matrices.
    Regarding working memory: no significant correlations between neural activity and either performance or scores on Raven’s Matrices.
    almost no mediation of the Raven’s Matrices versus working memory and inspection time scores correlations by the respective neural activity.
    ?These findings partially replicate important aspects of a prominent report in this field …,?

    What’s Raven’s Matrices? The most g – loaded tests in existence, more than the Wechsler IQ tests, even though they are quite homogeneous in the types of tasks comprised. See, for example, Arthur ?g? factor Jensen, 1998.

  230. #230 Escherichia coli
    February 27, 2010

    Just wanted to make a few points…

    For those of you who bring up specific concerns like how intelligence cannot be measured by a single number, well, don’t you think the researchers in the field have also considered those? It’s starting to sound like the climate change deniers claiming that researchers haven’t properly investigated the effects of solar cycles…

    Also, cherry-picking papers showing no correlation between certain variables is a terrible practice. Please try to remember that there is always a chance to find no correlation when there is. You should instead have a wide overview of the literature.

    Sorry, I’m still pretty new to this, hope I don’t offend anybody. The culture here is quite intimidating to someone from a relatively conservative culture (as in socially conservative such as in Asian countries, not politically).

  231. #231 onethird-man
    February 27, 2010

    Unfortunately, the standards of science are not blanket and regulated among disciplines.

    The discounting of socioeconomic factors (as stated here at least two times by count by personages claiming evolutionary psychology as their field) is suspect. Other neurological fields have, for instance, shown that childhood trauma can force reorganization of the brain. This is an unspecific but strong event, it has verifiable markers in the brain, and it could be shown to be related to socioeconomic factors (such as how some reach sexual maturity faster in situations of stress and poverty). So, discounting this out of hand, as it has been done, is suspicious to me and smacks of a lack of coordination among disciplines. It is not one discipline attacking another unknowingly; its one discipline showing what appears to be a uniquely disparate line of reasoning from even closely related fields.

    The comparison of PZ to Creationists falls down; to be valid, PZ would have to ignore Creationist research that showed conclusions disparate from Biology, supported by data and peer-review. However, no such research exists. In the case of evolutionary psychology, it is an overlapping discipline with genetics and biology because you cannot have evolution without inheritance, of whatever form. It is not outside PZ’s field to criticize papers and rampant speculation when it concerns evolutionary origins of spuriously defined heritable characteristics. The conclusions are suspect enough; the reasoning to evolutionary influences does cross directly over to evo-devo, and PZ, I should hope, would be quite expert at discerning logical arguments for selection effects.

    To me, discounting of socioeconomic factors still smacks of century-old racist arguments. But that’s me, a single datum and anecdotal at that.

  232. #232 Bjørn Østman
    February 27, 2010

    In the case of evolutionary psychology, it is an overlapping discipline with genetics and biology because you cannot have evolution without inheritance, of whatever form. It is not outside PZ’s field to criticize papers and rampant speculation when it concerns evolutionary origins of spuriously defined heritable characteristics.

    In the case of the study cited by PZ, there are two components: the first is a simple (though not easy) measurement of IQ among different segments of the population. This has nothing to do with evolution, and PZ is also attacking this result as it stands. The other component is the evolutionary one, claiming that IQ is heritable, and hypothesizing what the evolutionary reason might be for this difference. As far as I have read, Bryan Pesta has been saying that there is lots of support for the first of these two components only, whether they are due to nature or nurture.

  233. #233 Microraptor
    February 27, 2010

    Onethird-man, what are you basing it on when you say that modern IQ research ignores the effects of socioeconomic status? You?ve provided one example that shows this was the case 100 years ago, but you don?t appear to have provided any examples that show this is still the case currently. (Or maybe you did, and I missed them.)

    The APA report from 1996 that I mentioned earlier is available online here. As you can see if you read it, it does discuss the effects of socioeconomic status, including in relation to the difference in average IQ between races, but ultimately comes to the conclusion that SES alone is not enough to cause this difference. (It also examines several other possible causes of this difference, but doesn?t find any of them to be satisfactory?its eventual conclusion is that the cause of the difference in average IQ cannot be identified at this point.) I think what you interpret as ignoring the effects of socioeconomic status may actually be examining its effects, and after careful examination, concluding that it isn?t an adequate explanation.

  234. #234 Microraptor
    February 27, 2010

    Sorry to double post, but I just realized you were probably referring only to evolutionary psychology with that comment, and not IQ research in general. I was confused by the fact that Bpesta?s argument here has just been for the validity of IQ research, and since you were arguing against his point about this, I figured you were referring to the same thing that he was.

    Even so, I think you?ll find that modern evolutionary explanations for differences between races (such as the papers about this published in last month?s issue of Personality and Individual Differences) cover a lot of the same territory that the APA report does, including why socio-economic status alone isn?t an adequate explanation. That isn?t to say the evolutionary explanations for this are necessarily correct, but whatever flaws may exist in them aren?t quite as obvious as you?re making them out to be.

  235. #235 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 27, 2010

    I agree with Micro and Bjorn.

    The APA is about as politically correct as it gets, and here’s a near verbatim quote in the cited article: “It is clear that no explanation which appeals to a simple SES model will do”. The article needs updating, but it’s still quite revealing– what the APA was willing to admit “pro IQ,” even 14 years ago. It certainly doesn’t square with PZ’s inane ideas about the field.

    I also thought it odd that someone referenced something in 1916? That’s a classic Gould trick a la Mismeasure of Man. Let’s discount modern medicine because doctors centuries ago used leaches to cure disease?

    Also, please show me where the existence (as fact) of a psychometric g requires always a correlation between it and some brain function / any brain function. Beyond problems with betting on a null hypothesis, it is not clear to me that IQ scores must correlate with all measures of brain function / activity / structure for the construct to have biological reality.

    Now, go back and read PZ’s comments in the OP. They’re still quite ignorant and indeed fall in the category of “stupidity”.

    I don’t think PZ’s obligated to reply to all criticisms of his science blogs, but I am in field at least, and I did present evidence in the very thread (here) where he demanded I present evidence. And, some of that evidence was data published by me.

    I hear crickets chirping now; fine.

  236. #236 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 27, 2010

    House cleaning as this thread dies:

    ***…I’m not entirely convinced that there is (early education is important, and confounds every study on this subject!).

    Except for them famous identical twins separated at birth studies, but surely scienceblogs is aware of these. Or those studies showing that the adopted kid’s IQ correlates zero with the foster parents’ IQ but strongly with the biological parents’. Or that the heritability of IQ increases with age (more heritable after– not before– one gets an education).

    ***What I am certain of, though, is that trying to reduce multiple biological and environmental influences to a single mysterious g factor is bad science that buries all the interesting variables under one stupid umbrella idea. “g

    What if all these interesting variables were so inter-correlated that they produced the g factor every time anyone’s looked for it in 1000s of studies and 100 years of research? Why is there no g factor in personality (or at least no g factor that predicts anything near what iq/g does)? Why is there no g-factor for emotional IQ? What makes a scientist certain, anyways?

    ***? it’s all abstraction and hand-waving. It desperately needs to be decomposed into addressable components before it has any utility at all.

    Yes, like the 2 or so recent books by Arthur Jensen where that’s done. Of course, a scientist worried about out-of-field comments in his area should have read these.

    I’m considering starting a fund where we throw money at whoever is prostituting this web site in the hopes they might change the name to something other than “science”blogs.

  237. #237 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 27, 2010

    Or that head start produces no long term gains in g, or that infant iq (pre education) correlates nicely with grade school iq.

    Ok, I think I am done.

  238. #238 Brooklynjosh
    February 28, 2010

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-schrei/newsflash-educated-libera_b_479818.html

    This is not meant to raise the ire of atheists. As a liberal non-atheist, I enjoy a healthy debate with all my atheist friends. and I couldn’t help respond to this ridiculous study.

  239. #239 Sven DiMilo
    February 28, 2010

    I’m considering starting a fund where we throw money at whoever is prostituting this web site in the hopes they might change the name to something other than “science”blogs.

    I have defended you in a limited way above, but dude, this is the stupidest hobby-horse ever. Please to shut up about it. kthx

  240. #240 Brooklynjosh
    February 28, 2010

    The test group for this study are all Americans. The results would be entirely different if conducted in a country with a lower population of atheists. Its ludicrous.

    And then to make assumptions about the evolutionary purpose of belief based on a few IQ tests?

  241. #241 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 28, 2010

    Sven– point taken; plus I doubt too many people would contribute the funds.

    Brooklynjosh: this literature exists at the national level too. There’s maybe half a dozen papers now showing the same strong relationships between atheism rates by country and a host of important outcomes from IQ to GDP / income to crime, health, democracy, etc.

    One curious thing about the National literature– The USA is a huge outlier in terms of how religious it is compared with other “high well-being” nations.

    I do agree that evolutionary psych *can* be full of “just so” stories that are hard to falsify and not very scientific. Oh, did I just speak out of field?!

  242. #242 Ben Dover
    February 28, 2010

    I’ve been reading PZ’s blogg for years and consider my self a big fan, but when I read this post I couldn’t belive my eyes! How can someone who so good at debunking creationists and climate change denialists, be so certain, and wrong, about something he’s obviously totally ingnorant about? I must say that IMO bpesta22 won this “debate” hands down. PZ just comes of as an ognorant fool that just can’t admit that he was wrong (but deep down I think he realises that he might just be). I hope he takes the time to think about this and reads up on the science, like he would tell the creationists and climate change denilaists to do. maybe he will change his mind. (I’m still a fan when it comes to ripping creationists a new on though.)

    PS: This is my first post btw, and english is not my first language, so if this is written in poor english, you know why.

  243. #243 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    February 28, 2010

    Ben– thanks. I suspect someone will claim you’re my sock puppet if anyone’s following this.

    PZ is obviously a popular skeptic for good reasons. This area is not one of them.

  244. #244 rkulla
    February 28, 2010

    I know some pretty intelligent people who have not shook the conditioning of being raised to be religious.

    For example, I know a programmer who is highly logical–when it comes to software engineering–yet uses every logical fallacy in the book when arguing religion. His psychological desire to defend his religious identity seems to trump IQ.

    I’m sure my religious friends would say the same thing about my secular views but at least my ability to point out their flawed logic is demonstrable.

  245. #245 Microraptor
    February 28, 2010

    While I agree that IQ is no guarantee against being illogical, I?m pretty sure this study is only describing religious and non-religious people?s average IQ. The distribution of IQ for both religious and non-religious people is probably pretty large, but for non-religious people it?s centered somewhat higher.

    This is the way it usually goes when you?re comparing the distribution of a trait between two large groups of people. Going with an obvious example, men on average tend to be physically stronger than women. But women like Jang Mi-Ran, the women?s weight-lifting champion from the 2008 Olympics, are obviously stronger than most men. Substitute IQ for strength, and religious and non-religious people for women and men, and you?ll have an idea of what I think the study is saying.

  246. #246 bpesta22
    March 1, 2010

    test-ing. Dunno if my comments are being held for approval or it’s a glitch…

  247. #247 https://me.yahoo.com/a/.uGBYqRw3dX5soKzMgidVSB8qRW_7fMYMA--#3aef5
    March 1, 2010

    “PZ, if something is true, it is true regardless of who says it, why they said or how they said it.”

    Indeed, dglas, for all his reputation as a rational scientist, it’s the second time I catch PZ using the genetic fallacy (a form of ad hominem) to reject someone’s opinion. I think it reflects very badly on him as a scientist to commit such egregious logical errors repeatedly.

    As the CRU e-mails showed, scientists are indeed “only human”, but they could at least have some shame for the more obnoxious sides of their humanity.

  248. #248 demystifier
    March 1, 2010

    *claps*

    Thank you PZ.

  249. #249 shojaee
    March 1, 2010

    I can see that there is hot discussion in the comments and sorry to meddle in, but this clear criticism of this pseudo-scientific paper really requires a lot of courage, which should be in every old school scientist and atheist. I just wanted to thank you P.Z!!

  250. #250 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkMrkqjiP_2RMYdYi-KecSQKMk6Qpfqwyw
    March 2, 2010

    You make some good points PZ. I never have had much confidence in IQ tests. IQ test’s are about as reliable as lie detectors and SAT’s. It’s irresponsible, to say the least, for nonbelievers to tout this study as proof of a superior intellect.

  251. #251 skybluskyblue
    March 2, 2010

    Ol’Greg [#52] and those who have high IQ yet have trouble “making it” in life, you may have Asperger’s a form of autism. This would explain why you can do well on the test your brain has more resources for such things “taken” from the parts of the brain that deal with the social world, coordination and grasping sarcasm etc. i.e. non-literal language. As to how autism correlates to religiosity, I am sure that there is likely nearly equal amounts of non-religious and religious. However, with the inherent dislike of non-literalism there may be a few more atheistic autistics than religious autistics. We are supposedly more likely to not believe in superstition for that reason too.

  252. #252 Caz Fans
    March 2, 2010

    Kanazawa’s interpretation of the data in his paper may or not be wrong, but it is in a journal it would cap many a career to publish in. Social Psychological Quarterly is the premier sociological journal in social psychology, published under the auspices of the American Sociological Association (ASA). (Social psychology is a specialty that spans the boundary between sociology and psychology.) (Full disclosure: my father was editor of the journal back when it was called Sociometry. He always claimed it was the driest journal in all of science. In his day all papers were reviewed by at least two reviewers (plus himself). Other ASA journals these days seem to use as many as four.) I would love to have seen the reviewer comments! According to his online vita (http://personal.lse.ac.uk/Kanazawa), Kanazawa also has one article in the top general journal in sociology, two in the number three journal, an article in The Annual Review of Sociology (as I recall, the first or second most cited serial in sociology), comments in all the top three sociology journals (some are responses to comments on his publications in those journals ? hmm), and articles in top journals in political science, psychology, demography, psychological social psychology, and social theory (another specialty mostly within sociology). I can’t evaluate the economics, criminal justice, and anthropological journals or some of the psych journals (Intelligence, among others), nor can I evaluate the biology journals (Journal of Biosocial Science, Annals of Human Biology, Biodemography and Social Biology, Human Reproduction, Journal of Theoretical Biology (3), British Journal of Health Psychology, Journal of Biosocial Science, Evolution and Human Behavior (4), Social Biology (2), and Politics and the Life Sciences), but he would seem to be a thoroughly peer reviewed kind of guy.
    This is not to say Kanazawa is right. We sociologists of science are fond of the quote from a Nobelist (Roger Guillemin, I believe) during the quest for the structure of TRH, “The only thing I believe [in the journals] are the retractions.” As a sociologist, I have always been a little skeptical of biological incursions into my discipline. On the other hand, I tell my students that when their children take the intro sociology course, there will be a lot more biology in it than what they get from me and the textbook. (The other Caz Fan, a veterinarian, is not nearly so bio-averse.) Before his death, my father was becoming interested in biological roots of social psychology, inspired largely by the twin studies. Maybe Kanazawa is onto something, if only as a Tommy Gold-like agent provocateur.

  253. #253 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    March 3, 2010

    Caz fans:

    You are right– he is well-published and the journals are on balance far from crappy (intelligence’s impact factor is higher than SPQ, though it’s probably inflated somewhat because many papers are controversial). You can’t stay employed at the London School without a nice vita.

    My point is that Kanazawa is not needed to reach any of the conclusions he reaches in that paper. There’s a stream of peer-reviewed data on these topics, and most of what he reports is not new.

    Why is he being featured? My guess is he issued a press release for his one study among many.

  254. #254 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AhK6VzN7pIBqZlVkJfQVUKo32HmQ#1e3b2
    March 4, 2010

    Why are people still rating this thread yet no one is replying?

    It was like 8.2, now is 9.

    Curious as to why people like this thread.

  255. #255 SEF
    March 5, 2010

    That rating system is automatic (generated from viewings) rather than by people actively registering their approval and it is also typically quite a long time out of date – showing what used to be popular the previous week(?).

  256. #256 bpesta22#b99c7
    March 6, 2010

    bizarre.

  257. #257 Riccardo77
    March 7, 2010

    ***Show me the reliability of IQ as a measure of actual, you know, intelligence. Show me that a 6 point IQ difference matters at all in your interactions with other people, even if it were real.***

    PZ,

    Physicist Steve Hsu has an excellent post explaining psychometric testing.

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2009/11/iq-compression-and-simple-models.html

    A tremendous amount of research has been conducted on the live outcomes it predicts. For a nice summary, see ‘Why g matters: the complexity of ordinary life’ by psychologist Linda Gottfredson.

    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997whygmatters.pdf

    In terms of heritability, see some of the work by Robert Plomin, or UCLA Neuroscientist Paul Thompson.

    “The UCLA researchers took the study a step further by comparing the white matter architecture of identical twins, who share almost all their DNA, and fraternal twins, who share only half. Results showed that the quality of the white matter is highly genetically determined, although the influence of genetics varies by brain area. According to the findings, about 85 percent of the variation in white matter in the parietal lobe, which is involved in mathematics, logic, and visual-spatial skills, can be attributed to genetics. But only about 45 percent of the variation in the temporal lobe, which plays a central role in learning and memory, appears to be inherited.”

    http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22333/

  258. #258 Microraptor
    March 8, 2010

    Riccardo77, BPesta and I have already shown P.Z. Myers several other papers that explain this, including one statement from the National Academy of Sciences and another from the American Psychological Association, but he hasn?t responded to most of it. (He?s responded to some of BPesta other points, but not to any of the literature that he or I have cited.) And he hasn?t replied to any of our posts here past February 26th.

    I?m not sure if this is because he?s decided he doesn?t have sufficient scientific backing for the points he was making here, or if he?s just ignoring us now. I?m obviously hoping it?s the first one?it?s forgivable for a person to be ignorant about a topic simply because they?ve never learned about it in depth, but it?s much less forgivable for a person to remain willfully ignorant even when the evidence against their viewpoint is being demonstrated to them. I guess we?ll learn which it is when and if P.Z. Myers makes another post at Pharyngula about something that involves IQ.

  259. #259 bpesta22#b99c7
    March 8, 2010

    Micro

    I agree. It would be an interesting example of a popular skeptic admitting he was wrong or at least admitting his opinion was not based on the evidence.

    I got this personality thing where I can be persistent. So, let’s wait n see what the next Myers comment is re IQ (whether it’s in this thread, or elsewhere in the PZ universe).

  260. #260 Riccardo77
    March 8, 2010

    **And part of why I?ve been reluctant to comment is because although I respect Myers for his anti-creationism efforts, in other areas of science such as psychology he sometimes rejects the overwhelming consensus of researchers in these fields, while providing little or no explanation for why he rejects it, which is a paradoxically creationist-like attitude.**

    Microraptor & bpesta,

    I think that this is common for those who use ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ as a bible on psychometrics. I think it’s also a good example of how bias works. The book by Gould reaches a conclusion consistent with progressive egalitarian beliefs. It’s hard, even for normally rational people, to accept information that contradicts deeply held beliefs.

  261. #261 bpesta22#b99c7
    March 8, 2010

    Riccardo

    I agree completely. A true story: My first pub in this area cited Mismeasure in an attempt to provide a balanced review of the lit.

    An anonymous reviewer said:

    Why cite Gould. The man is an idiot. He’s an advocate, not a scientist. Would the authors cite an article on young earth creationism for a paper on geography?

    That was the most interesting comment I’ve ever received in peer review…

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.