Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Flynn effect

The Flynn effect is the fact that average IQ scores throughout the world rose substantially throughout the 20th century.  The scores for both blacks and whites rose but the gap between the two remained essentially the same.

The effect has been something of a puzzle.  Why did it happen?  There are probably a number of processes causing it  -- processes which could be broadly grouped as "modernization".  An interesting part of the effect is that scores on subtests that load most highly on 'g' (the general factor) have changed least.  This suggests that scores on a perfect test would not have changed at all.

A new researcher has fastened on to that fact and looked at what characterizes high 'g' and low 'g' subtests.  He finds that the subtests which have shown the biggest change are tests where a small group of strategies allow you to answer most of the items successfully.

And that ties in with an explanation commonly given for the Flynn effect -- that ever rising number of years spent in the educational system give students more and more practice at using test-answering strategies.  And they can use some of those strategies in answering IQ tests too. So education increases scores on the least-central question-types.  On items that strategies cannot help you to answer (such as testing how many hard words you know) there has been virtually no change over the years.

So education has now been fairly conclusively identified as the main cause of the rising scores and at the same time the rising scores have been shown as not reflecting a real  rise in underlying abilities.

Steve Sailer has the details

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stereotype threat

Putting it bluntly, Stereotype threat is an invented process to explain why blacks do poorly on IQ tests.  If blacks know that they are expected to do badly they allegedly get all anxious and do even worse than they otherwise would.  But shouldn't the knowledge that they are expected to do badly energize them and make them try harder -- just to prove the stereotype wrong?  I would have thought so but I am not a Leftist.

I have had a bit of a laugh at the theory before (e.g. here) and also see here

The theory has also been used to explain away the fact that women on average do badly on mathematical tasks (those nervous ladies!) and there has recently been some interesting work suggesting that the theory is wrong in that field too.  Steve Sailer summarizes:

"Although the social sciences are considered a bastion of progressivism, it's remarkable how few data-driven ideas they generate in support of their ideology. We can get a feel for this by noting how rare are the "exceptions to the rule" studies that become immensely popular due to bolstering the dominant worldview, such as Hart & Risley's finding that black people don't talk enough and Claude Steele's little study of Stereotype Threat in which he induces black students at Stanford to score lower on a low stakes test of his devising than their high stakes SAT scores would predict. (I wrote about Stereotype Threat in in 2004, suggesting it's not hard to get across the message to black or female students that the professor wants them to not exert themselves fully on this meaningless test. That you can "prime" groups of people to work less hard on an unimportant test does not prove that you know how to make them score higher on an important test.)

Lately, the evidence has been mounting that the existence of Stereotype Threat is quite dependent upon the file drawer function: studies finding its existence are quickly published while studies not finding its existence are in much less demand. A recent article:

An Examination of Stereotype Threat Effects on Girls' Mathematics Performance

By Colleen M. Ganley et al.

... Conclusion

Taken together, the findings from published research, unpublished articles, and the present studies reveal inconsistency in the effects of stereotype threat on girls’ mathematics performance. The discrepancy in results from published and unpublished studies suggests publication bias, which may create an inaccurate picture of the phenomenon. A recent review suggests that this publication bias may also be an issue in the literature on stereotype threat in adult women (Stoet & Geary, 2012). Overall, these results raise the possibility that stereotype threat may not be the cause of gender differences in mathematics performance prior to college. Although we feel that more nuanced research needs to be done to truly understand whether stereotype threat impacts girls’ mathematics performance, we also believe that too much focus on this one explanation may deter researchers from investigating other key factors that may be involved in gender differences in mathematics performance. For example, there are a number of factors (e.g., mathematics anxiety, mathematics interest, spatial skills; see Ceci & Williams, 2010) that have been shown to be consistently related to mathematics performance and mathematics-and science-related career choices and may warrant more research attention than does stereotype threat."


Monday, October 21, 2013

Kees Jan can't

Kees-Jan Kan, a young Dutchman, has recently rediscovered one of the most basic facts in IQ testing: That it's easiest to detect IQ differences if the people you are studying (Ss) have a common background.  So if the Ss are all in the same class at school, for instance, a vocabulary test (finding out how many hard words they know) will give you a quick and easy way to sort them out.  And you will find that the guys who know lots of words are also good at a whole range of puzzles, even mathematical ones. 

So a common background optimizes your chances of assessing IQ accurately. And to be a bit technical, vocab loads highly on 'g' (the general factor in intelligence), meaning that, where it can be used, it is a powerful predictor of other abilities.  Vocab is however convenient rather than essential in IQ measurement.  Tests designed for use among people who do not have a common background (such as the Raven PMs) don't use it but still work perfectly well.

On those basic facts, KJK has erected an elaborate theory, which comes to the conclusions that IQ is mostly cultural, with a genetic component much smaller that is generally thought.  And it is the cultural part which is hereditary.

To arrive at that, KJK goes via the concept of the "cultural load" of each IQ question -- which he assesses by looking at how often a question has to be altered when you are adminstering it to a new and different population.  And he finds that by removing (statistically) the influence of cultural load, all other correlations are much reduced.

When we look more closely at his data, however (e.g. Table 3.1 in KJK's doctoral dissertation) we find that only two out of 11 question types have a high cultural load:  Vocab and general knowledge.  And the cultural dependency of those two question types has been obvious to everyone since the year dot.

What is interesting however is that the remaining 9 question types have low to negligible cultural load.  In other words, we could remove the vocab and knowledge subtests from the overall test and still have a robust test.  So my conclusion is that what KJK should have done from the beginning is to remove those two flawed item types from his calculations altogether.  Once you do that all his exciting findings melt away.  His findings rely on items that he himself knows to be flawed.

There is a summary of KJK's dissertation at  The Unscientific American -- JR

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Does a lack of money make you less intelligent? Financial worries reduce measured IQ (problem-solving ability)

This story has been getting a lot of press  -- mainly because there is very little that has any permanent impact on the IQ you are born with.  The point to note however is that the effect below is temporary, and the direction is down, not up.

It is precisely because psychologists have long been aware of the potential negative effect of extraneous factors on test performance that they do their best to exclude all distractions during test-taking, with testing normally being done under formal examination conditions. So the authors below have to a degree rediscovered the wheel.  That any task will be performed poorly if your mind is elsewhere is no surprise.

The interesting finding, though, is that money worries have a negative  effect only when they are very salient.  Test performance is not affected under normal conditions where such matters are in the background. 

That does confirm something I have myself noticed in many years of observing poor people:  They worry too little.  Their poor circumstances rarely seem to motivate them to efforts at bettering those circumstances.  They tend to be happy living from day to day.  They  often seem happier than many middle-class people.  That they have nothing in the bank is just accepted as normal and of no real concern.

The superficial message in the article is that giving the poor more money will make them smarter but there is no evidence for that and the findings actually contradict it.  What is in fact shown is that the problem solving ability of the poor is temporarily reduced when they are preoccupied by other things:   Quite unsurprising.  It has no implications for their basic underlying problem-solving abilities.

In normal IQ testing, the tester makes every effort NOT to  distract the testees, unlike the deliberately distracting procedure reported below. 

The journal article is Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function

The size of your pay packet dictates more than just your holiday choice or the size of your car - it also influences your intelligence.  Financial worries tax the brain of those on low incomes, reducing their IQ by up to 13 points, scientists have found.

As a result, those with limited means are more likely to make bad decisions, such as taking on too much debt, which perpetuate their financial woes.

But researchers discovered when low-income individuals had their financial burdens removed, their intelligence returned to the same levels as higher earners.  The findings suggests that far from low intellect resulting in reduced pay, it is our financial woes that render us less clever.

‘Our results suggest that when you’re poor, money is not the only thing in short supply. Cognitive capacity is also stretched thin,’ said Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan.

‘That’s not to say that poor people are less intelligent than others. What we show is that the same person experiencing poverty suffers a cognitive deficit as opposed to when they’re not experiencing poverty.

‘It’s also wrong to suggest that someone’s cognitive capacity has gotten smaller because they’re poor. In fact, what happens is that your effective capacity gets smaller, because you have all these other things on your mind, you have less mind to give to everything else.’ He said individuals with financial worries are like a computer that has slowed down because it is carrying out more than one function.

‘It’s not that the computer is slow, it’s that it’s doing something else, so it seems slow to you. I think that’s the heart of what we’re trying to say,’ he added.

In the study, published in the journal Science, the team from US and British universities carried out a series of experiments in a US shopping mall.

Researchers selected 400 people at random and divided them into a ‘poor’ or ‘rich’ group based on their income, before subjecting them intelligence testing.

Prior to the experiment, half of the participants were asked to think about how they would pay for $1,500 of urgent repairs on their car if it had broken down. The aim was to get participants to focus on their own financial worries.

The study found poor participants performed much worse in the IQ test if they first considered their economic circumstances, but the better off were unaffected.

However, the group that was not primed to think about their finances scored similarly in the intelligence tests irrespective of their income.

‘For the poor, because these monetary concerns are just below the surface, the question brings them to the top,’ said Professor Mullainathan. ‘The result was, for that group, the gap between the rich and the poor goes up, in both IQ and impulse control. There was no gap in the other group, but ask them anything that makes them think about money and you see this result.’

In a second set of tests, the scientists travelled to rural India, where sugar cane farmers are paid the majority of their income once a year.

They found they performed significantly better at intelligence tests in the month after being paid - the equivalent of 10 IQ points - than just before, when their savings had dwindled.

‘The month after the harvest, they’re pretty rich, but the month before - when the money has run out - they’re pretty poor,’ Professor Mullainathan said. ‘What we did is look at the same people the month before and the month after the harvest, and what we see is that IQ goes up, cognitive control, or errors, goes way down, and response times go way down.’


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Barren Wombs of Smart Women

That dummies tend to have more babies than smarties has been recognized as a problem for decades now so the update to the discussion below is useful.  It might however be noted that it is a mistake to see high IQs as a direct CAUSE of fewer children.  There may be other factors involved.  For instance, high IQ women will undoubtedly spend more time in the educational system, where they are heavily exposed to the "anti-men" diatribes of feminists.  Being anti-men is not a good start to family formation -- JR

A statistical analysis from England suggests that a woman’s IQ is inversely proportional to her desire to breed. This, in turn, suggests that the world will grow dumber with every new day.

In his book The Intelligence Paradox, London School of Economics researcher Satoshi Kanazawa surveyed data from the United Kingdom’s National Child Development Study. Controlling for variables such as education and income, he reached the following conclusions:

 *  With each increase of 15 IQ points, a woman’s urge to reproduce is diminished by 25%.

 *  The average IQ of women who want children is 5.6 points lower than those who don’t want them.

 *  Among all 45-year-old women in England, 20% are childless, but this figure rises to 43% among those with college degrees.

The paradox is that women who are measurably more intelligent based on IQ tests are dumber in terms of evolutionary survival instincts. Kanazawa writes:

"If any value is deeply evolutionarily familiar, it is reproductive success. If any value is truly unnatural, if there is one thing that humans (and all other species in nature) are decisively not designed for, it is voluntary childlessness. All living organisms in nature, including humans, are evolutionarily designed to reproduce. Reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence."

Kanazawa’s findings correlate with a 2010 Pew survey that found women ages 40-44 with a master’s degree or higher are 60% more likely to be childless than women who never graduated high school.

Kanazawa is widely known as a “controversial” researcher, which is coded speech meaning that his results cause significant discomfort among those who swallow the reigning cultural dogma. In the past he has faced disapprobation, ridicule, and even job dismissal for publishing studies that claim black women are less attractive than women of other races due to their higher testosterone levels, sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty is caused by low IQ, intelligent men are less likely to cheat on their partners, and attractive people are more likely to produce female offspring. He also wrote that if Ann Coulter had been president in 2001, she would have dropped nuclear bombs on the Middle East and won the War on Terror “without a single American life lost.”

But it is specifically his research on race and intelligence that causes his critics to dismissively snort that he is a zero-credibility genocidal wackjob who peddles junk science riddled with huge methodological flaws that raise the terrifying notion of eugenics that has long been debunked and discredited because of, well, Hitler and everything.

Paul Gilroy, a colleague of Kanazawa’s at the London School of Economics, says:  Kanazawa’s persistent provocations raise the issue of whether he can do his job effectively in a multi-ethnic, diverse and international institution.

In other words:  His statistical findings do not jibe with our cultural dogma.

Despite all the jeers and catcalls, Kanazawa defends his research:

"The only responsibility scientists have is to the truth. Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create."

The most egregious blasphemy one can utter in today’s insanely stifling and repressive climate of intolerant egalitotalitarianism is to gently suggest that genetics play any role in determining intelligence differences and relative prosperity between individuals and social groups.

Yet (grab a hankie) that’s what the evidence suggests.

Despite the propaganda the media uses to try and blow out your eardrums, the scientific consensus suggests that adult IQ is roughly 75-85% inherited. But due to the currently taboo nature of this fact, Western researchers are unlikely to even suggest such things publicly without sacrificing their careers. The Chinese suffer no such ultimately dysgenic superstitions and are forging ahead in their attempts to crack the code. This might be one of the main reasons why the coming century could belong to them.

Further buttressing Kanazawa’s findings, global evidence suggests that high IQ tends to be negatively correlated with total fertility rate. J. Philippe Rushton’s r/K selection theory noted that parents who actually invested time and thought in nurturing their children tended to have fewer of them…and vice-versa.

Intelligent people have the reflective capacity to consider things such as whether they’d have the economic wherewithal to raise successful offspring, whereas dumber people tend to invest as much thought into reproduction as they do to defecation.  The end result is an increasingly dysgenic world—Idiocracy made flesh.

Western sophisticates claim that the world already has enough people, and many tend to see it as a matter of conscience to not breed. The problem is that hordes of Third Worlders suffer no such ethical qualms. Paradoxically, the pampered First World utopian ideal that the world should be intelligent, sustainable, and filled only with children who are wanted could backfire and create a planet crammed almost exclusively with emotionally, financially, and intellectually deprived Third World bastards.

This wasn’t the case before feminism came along to empower women and free them from childbearing’s oppressive shackles. It wasn’t the case until Big Brother morphed into Big Daddy and financially penalized the intelligent for reproducing as it gave handouts that encouraged cretins to spawn. It wasn’t the case during the Victorian Era, when it wasn’t considered so déclassé for wealthy and intelligent women to have children and when it’s estimated that the mean Western IQ was nearly 14 points higher than it is now.

The grand irony is that by failing to breed, this new breed of woman will breed itself out of existence.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

People Everywhere Are Getting Smarter?

The article below by Ronald Bailey  is fairer than most but overlooks some important facts.  His reliance on the Eppig study, for a start, is incautious.  I pointed out the large flaws in that study long ago.

But the most important point he omits is that the 20th century rise in IQ seems to reflect measured IQ rather than underlying IQ.  The rise is smallest on the tests that correlate most highly with 'g' (underlying IQ).  The rise is probably due to increased test sophistication, which in turn is driven by the large increase in the number of years most people now spend in the educational system.

There is evidence that micronutrient deprivation can reduce IQ but a U.N. study assigned only 5 points to that effect.  In summary,  most of the apparent rise in IQ is likely to be illusory

In 1980, the New Zealand political scientist James Flynn discovered that average IQs in many countries have been drifting upward at about 3 points per decade over the past couple of generations. In fact, the average has risen by an astonishing 15 points in the last 50 years in the United States. In other words, a person with an average IQ of 100 today would score 115 on a 1950s IQ test, and a person of average IQ today would have been in approximately the top 15 percent of same-age scorers 50 years ago. If the average American kid were to take the first Stanford-Binet IQ test from 1932, she would score about 124 points today.

“This means that on an IQ test made in 1930 the average score of the entire population would give an IQ between 120 and 130 according to the original standardization,” the Hungarian technologist Kristóf Kovács explains. So “instead of 2 percent, 35–50 percent of the population would have an IQ above 130. And vice versa; if the current standard was applied to people living in 1930, average IQ would be between 70 and 80, and instead of 2 percent, 35–50 percent would be diagnosed with mental retardation.”

What accounts for this massive increase in IQ scores? Researchers have suggested a panoply of causes, including better nutrition, exposure to more mentally challenging media, and more formal schooling, but my favorite is the reduced load of infectious childhood diseases.

A fascinating study published in the June 2010 Proceedings of the Royal Society by the University of New Mexico biologist Christopher Eppig and his colleagues finds an intriguing correlation between the average IQ of a country’s citizens and the intensity with which they suffer from parasites and infectious diseases. The authors note that the brains of newborns burn up 87 percent of infants’ metabolic energy; 5-year-old brains use 44 percent; and adult brains consume 25 percent of the body’s energy. Mobilizing the immune system to fight off diseases and parasites is very metabolically expensive, diverting nutrients and energy that would otherwise be used to fuel the building and maintenance of the human brain. If this analysis is substantially correct, then promoting public health also promotes higher IQs.

The new study reports, “Infectious disease remains the most powerful predictor of average national IQ when temperature, distance from Africa, gross domestic product per capita and several measures of education are controlled for. These findings suggest that the Flynn effect may be caused in part by the decrease in the intensity of infectious diseases as nations develop.”

The converse of this research should find a correlation between higher average IQs and increasing allergy and asthma rates. Allergy and asthma rates are hypothesized to be on the rise because children’s immune systems, no longer challenged by infections, have become oversensitive, attacking the bodies they are supposed to protect. Myopia also correlates with higher IQ scores; U.S. myopia rates in people ages 12 to 54 increased from 25 percent in 1971–72 to 41.6 percent in 1999–2004. But higher IQ correlates with better health and longer lives, less propensity to commit crimes, and higher income (although not greater than average personal wealth).


Monday, July 29, 2013

China not squeamish about IQ

After being identified early as a science prodigy, Zhao raced through China’s special programs for gifted students and won a spot in Renmin, one of the country’s most elite high schools. Then, to the shock of his friends and family, he decided to drop out when he was 17. Now, at 21, he oversees his own research project at BGI Shenzhen—the country’s top biotech institute and home to the world’s most powerful cluster of DNA-sequencing machines—where he commands a multimillion-dollar research budget.

Zhao’s goal is to use those machines to examine the genetic underpinnings of genius like his own. He wants nothing less than to crack the code for intelligence by studying the genomes of thousands of prodigies, not just from China but around the world. He and his collaborators, a transnational group of intelligence researchers, fully expect they will succeed in identifying a genetic basis for IQ. They also expect that within a decade their research will be used to screen embryos during in vitro fertilization, boosting the IQ of unborn children by up to 20 points. In theory, that’s the difference between a kid who struggles through high school and one who sails into college.

Some people are smarter than others. It seems like a straightforward truth, and one that should lend itself to scientific investigation. But those who try to study intelligence, at least in the West, find themselves lost in a political minefield. To be sure, not all intelligence research is controversial: If you study cognitive development in toddlers, or the mental decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease, “that’s treated as just normal science,” says Douglas Detterman, founding editor of Intelligence, a leading journal in the field. The trouble starts whenever the heritability of intelligence is discussed, or when intelligence is compared between genders, socioeconomic classes, or—most explosively—racial groupings.

Since the 1990s, when a book called The Bell Curve (coauthored by a psychologist and a political scientist) waded into this last morass, attempts to quantify or even study intelligence have become deeply unfashionable. Dozens of popular books by nonexperts have filled the void, many claiming that IQ—which after more than a century remains the dominant metric for intelligence—predicts nothing important or that intelligence is simply too complex and subtle to be measured.

For the most part, an IQ test—the most common of which today is called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—is a series of brainteasers. You fit abstract shapes together, translate codes using a key, sort numbers or letters into ascending order in your mind. It’s a weirdly playful exercise, the sort of test you would expect to have no bearing on anything else. But studies make it clear that IQ is strongly correlated with the ability to solve all sorts of abstract problems, whether they involve language, math, or visual patterns. The frightening upshot is that IQ remains by far the most powerful predictor of the life outcomes that people care most about in the modern world. Tell me your IQ and I can make a decently accurate prediction of your occupational attainment, how many kids you’ll have, your chances of being arrested for a crime, even how long you’ll live.

Critics claim that these correlations are misleading, that those life outcomes have more to do with culture and environmental circumstances than with innate intellectual ability. And even IQ researchers are far from in agreement about whether scores can be validly compared between groups of people—men and women, blacks and whites—who experience very different environments even within the same country. Variations within groups are often greater than the variations between them, making it impossible to draw conclusions about someone based on their group.

But on an individual level, the evidence points toward a strong genetic component in IQ. Based on studies of twins, siblings, and adoption, contemporary estimates put the heritability of IQ at 50 to 80 percent, and recent studies that measure the genetic similarity of unrelated people seem to have pushed the estimate to the high end of that range.

This is an idea that makes us incredibly uncomfortable. “People don’t like to talk about IQ, because it undermines their notion of equality,” Detterman says. “We think every person is equal to every other, and we like to take credit for our own accomplishments. You are where you are because you worked hard.” The very idea of the American dream is undermined by the notion that some people might be born more likely to succeed. Even if we accept that intelligence is heritable, any effort to improve or even understand the inheritance process strikes us as distasteful, even ghoulish, suggesting the rise of designer superbabies. And given the fallout that sometimes results when academics talk about intelligence as a quantifiable concept—such as the case of Harvard president Lawrence Summers, who in 2006 resigned after suggesting that science is male-dominated due not to discrimination but to a shortage of high-IQ women—it’s no surprise that IQ research is not a popular subject these days at Western universities.

But in his lab at BGI, 21-year-old Zhao has no such squeamishness. He waves it away as “irrational,” making a comparison with height: “Some people are tall and some are short,” he says. Three years into the project, a team of four geneticists is crunching an initial batch of 2,000 DNA samples from high-IQ subjects, searching for where their genomes differ from the norm. Soon Zhao plans to get thousands more through Renmin—his former high school—as well as from other sources around the world. He believes that intelligence has a genetic recipe and that given enough samples—and enough time—his team will find it.

Ask Zhao what draws him to IQ as a research subject and invariably he talks about the mysteries of the brain. He’s driven by a fascination with kids who are born smart; he wants to know what makes them—and by extension, himself—the way they are. But there’s also a basic pragmatism at work. By way of explanation, he points to the International Mathematical Olympiad, a tough competition that has helped define China’s approach to math. Two-thirds of students train for it, he says, and its judgment of the talent is so respected that for years high scorers were allowed to skip gaokao, the traditional college entrance exam. But only a tiny fraction of people have the mathematical gifts to be competitive, Zhao says, and this basically comes down to IQ. “You cannot ask a kid with low IQ to just work hard and then become a really talented mathematician,” he says. “It’s impossible.” And yet, Zhao says, that’s what is currently expected in China. He wants to stop the vast majority of Chinese students from wasting their time.

Three years after arriving at BGI, Zhao’s messy mop of hair is gone, replaced by a dark shadow across his shaved scalp. His project, meanwhile, has grown up along with him. Just a week before my visit, thousands of DNA samples arrived at the institute, each containing the genome of a person with extraordinarily high IQ. They were collected from volunteers around the world by Robert Plomin, a behavioral geneticist at King’s College London who is now one of the project’s main collaborators. Once these samples are processed, BGI’s battery of DNA sequencers will decode them.


Friday, May 31, 2013

People with high IQs really DO see the world differently: Researchers find they process sensory information differently

People with high IQ scores aren't just more intelligent - they also process sensory information differently, according to new study.

Scientists discovered that the brains of people with high IQ are automatically more selective when it comes to perceiving moving objects, meaning that they are more likely to suppress larger and less relevant background motion.

‘It is not that people with high IQ are simply better at visual perception,’ said Duje Tadin of the University of Rochester. ‘Instead, their visual perception is more discriminating.'
Scientists discovered that the brains of people with high IQ are automatically more selective when it comes to perceiving objects in motion meaning that they are specifically more likely to suppress larger and less relevant background motion.

Scientists discovered that the brains of people with high IQ are more selective when perceiving objects in motion, meaning that they are more likely to ignore larger and less relevant background motion

'They excel at seeing small, moving objects but struggle in perceiving large, background-like motions.’

The discovery was made by asking people to watch videos showing moving bars on a computer screen.

Their task was to state whether the bars were moving to the left or to the right.

The researchers measured how long the video had to run before the individual could correctly perceive the motion.

The results show that individuals with high IQ can pick up on the movement of small objects faster than low-IQ individuals can.

'That wasn't unexpected, Tadin says.  The surprise came when tests with larger objects showed just the opposite: individuals with high IQ were slower to see what was right there in front of them.

‘There is something about the brains of high-IQ individuals that prevents them from quickly seeing large, background-like motions,’ Tadin added.

In other words, it isn't a conscious strategy but rather something automatic and fundamentally different about the way these people's brains work.

The ability to block out distraction is very useful in a world filled with more information than we can possibly take in. It helps to explain what makes some brains more efficient than others. An efficient brain 'has to be picky' Tadin said.

The findings were reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

The race to avoid "Idiocracy"

By Martin Hutchinson

Mike Judge's 2006 movie masterpiece "Idiocracy" painted a future in which differential fertility between the middle classes and the underclass in 500 years produced a U.S. population of knuckle-dragging intelligence, allied to a popular culture whose debasement had reached its ultimate destination. Meanwhile, with the first successful cloning of a human embryo by the Oregon Health and Science University we may have entered the period of philosophical discussion and legal results thereof which determines whether "Idiocracy" is just a playful fantasy or an accurate portrayal of our future.

The effect of differential fertility is arithmetical and has nothing to do with the virtue of the people concerned. If the top half of the population, with an average IQ (or whatever other measure you choose to measure ability) of 115 has half the number of children of the other half, with an average IQ of 85, and reversion to the mean is 50%, then the next generation will have an average IQ of 97.5 rather than 100. That's the "Idiocracy" effect and in modern western societies it's quite strong, as it is between the West and poor countries with high birth rates and, these days, access to modern medicine.

Countering this is the Flynn Effect, whereby IQ test scores in Western countries have been increasing since testing began around 1930, by about 3 points per decade at the upper end of estimates. This makes perfect sense; while the aristocracy had a stimulating environment in the 19th century, poor people had poor nutrition, little stimulation and a high exposure to infectious diseases. In the past half century, on the other hand, adequate nutrition has become universal, many diseases have been conquered and films, radio, TV and the Internet, whatever their vices, have given poor youngsters a wealth of stimulatory experiences unimaginable to their ancestors.  You'd expect the majority's IQs to improve.

However if the Flynn Effect continued today as strong as it was, and extended to the middle classes as well as the poor, at 3 points per decade I should have been unable to cope with my son's college calculus course examples (he is 42 years younger than me) whereas in fact I found them perfectly straightforward. There is indeed considerable evidence that the Flynn effect is now dying out, with IQ scores beginning to decline in Britain since 1980 – suggesting that the temporary Flynn effect is being overwhelmed by the longer-term Idiocracy Effect.

You'd expect this. The propaganda about the Millennial Generation, skulking unemployed in their mothers' basements, being able to console themselves that they are the best educated generation in history, is unfortunately rubbish – they are merely the generation with the most paper qualifications. Both my parents, educated in state schools, studied Milton's "Paradise Lost" in high school; there was none of that in my private school 30 years later, while my son, within the last decade, never progressed in literature beyond the wooly maunderings of randomly-chosen South American communists. The education system has been dumbed down, and the unfortunate Millennials are now finding themselves unemployable in consequence.

There are a number of possible reasons why the human race may not see the year 3,000, but perhaps the most depressing possibility is that they may see it but not be able to count that far.  2.5 or even 1.5 IQ points lost per generation takes you pretty close to zero in a thousand years, and while our descendants, swinging from the few remaining trees, may at last lose the Idiocracy differential, re-establishing civilization will be very difficult for them with natural resources depleted and non-functional electronic clutter all over the place.

Genetic engineering, if entered into carefully, is potentially a solution to this problem. Not that more than a tiny percentage of people will ever be cloned, but those cloned will tend to be the very intelligent, the intelligent and successful, or those with special abilities in other directions. Needless to say, this will improve the human gene pool, especially at the top end where the major scientific, cultural and economic advances can be expected to arise. Adding the potential to tweak the genes before cloning them would merely increase the leavening effect.

There are of course many difficulties both scientific and philosophical in getting from here to there. In particular, two philosophical objections arise when cloning is discussed in the West: that it is itself immoral and that it cannot be undertaken without experimentation, which would inevitably produce imperfectly cloned individuals in the early stages.

Taking the second objection first, this is indeed a serious problem for an individual researcher or laboratory. While many defects of the process may be ironed out at the embryo stage, some will unavoidably slip through and there will thus be produced maybe a few dozen cloned individuals with defects, whether unexpected diseases or mental abnormalities or wretchedly shortened lifespans. For an individual or a private laboratory, this may seem an insuperable obstacle to the necessary work.

It is not however an insuperable obstacle to a government. Governments send people to their deaths all the time in the cause of the "greater good," whether military personnel being sent into battle or firemen, policemen or other "first responders" being sent to deal with perilous situations of all kinds. Governments have also in the past conducted dangerous experiments with inadequate safeguards – the entire Manhattan Project, for example exposed its workers to levels of radiation that would now be considered intolerable. Once the necessary scientific knowledge is available (and we are probably a few years off that stage yet) a government could therefore in good conscience mandate a private laboratory to carry out the work that would bring reproductive cloning into reality.

Given the current state of public opinion and the political forces involved, it's unlikely that a U.S. or European government would sponsor cloning research; indeed they are more likely to attempt to make it illegal. However the overall objection to cloning derives largely from the Judaeo-Christian attitude to human life (which may be shared by Islam.) It does not extend to Asian religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. Just as Japanese companies have made greater use of fuzzy logic systems than Westerners, because of Western homage to "crisp" philosophers such as Aristotle and Descartes, so the philosophical barriers to cloning, which produce fierce opposition in the West, should produce much less opposition in countries with different philosophical traditions.

China, Japan, South Korea and India all have sufficient technological capability to attempt cloning within a few years of it becoming feasible in the West, and the governments of those countries are well able to lead a program through the initial troublesome research. It thus seems inevitable that by 2050 and quite possibly by 2030 the genie will be out of the bottle; cloning technology will exist and the initial difficulties and unpleasantnesses surrounding it will have been overcome.

Opponents of cloning will produce a litany of phobias from old science fiction movies, stretching from Frankenstein to The Boys from Brazil, in which Dr. Mengele produced 94 clones of Hitler. As with most technologies, there is always the possibility of a James Bond villain misusing them. But in the real world, creating (say) an army of clones would be impossibly expensive, precisely as expensive, time-consuming and pointless as creating a hidden army from ordinary babies.   We can easily imagine in theory evil governments misusing cloning; in practice there seems little advantage to them doing so. Most such nightmares can be avoided altogether by opening the technology fully to the private sector.

Once the initial technical problems of cloning have been solved, the private market will take over if legally permitted to do so. Self-cloning will be extremely attractive for those successful men and women who discover late in life that they have omitted to have children. It won't just be the ultra-rich that undertake it. Just as genetic sequencing can now be purchased for less than $1,000, so genetic reproduction will be available at a cost far below that of a 4-year college degree. For the successful person, it will be a better deal; instead of paying to put a child through college whose intelligence may have regressed to the mean, he or she will be able to create a reproduction that will have their own intelligence, and their own ability to make it into the Ivy League on a full scholarship. If legal restrictions make the technique unavailable in the United States, the world is a small place even for the middle class, and the business opportunity will be too attractive for Asian entrepreneurs to pass up.

The next technique, of tweaking the gene before cloning it to produce even more attractive cloned beings, will cause yet further ethical hand-wringing, but is probably for the next generation to worry about. There are undoubtedly questions here, notably "What is humanity?" that will need to be answered (they don't need to be answered for ordinary cloning which is merely the generation of an identical twin.)

We can now see more clearly than could our ancestors that industrialization, as well as its immense benefits, has had costs, the most important of which has been the explosion in population since 1800, and the consequent proletarianization of global culture. We now have the ability to mitigate some of these costs, through a further scientific advance. We almost certainly cannot avoid this advance altogether, so it's important that we recognize its own costs and benefits, and prevent crass politics from placing too many obstacles to its thoughtful development.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mentioning the unmentionable again

In my academic career as a psychometrician, I paid some attention to the sociology of knowledge, and, indeed to the psychology of knowledge.

The field is actually a respectable one among Leftists -- dating particularly from Karl Marx's claim that your class position influences how you think.

Unlike Marx and the Leftists, however, I do not extrapolate small facts into vast generalizations.  Because one can descry influences on how people think, I don't jump to the conclusion that there is no such thing as truth.  I think the truth is still knowable even to those who wish that it were not so.

But the thing that fascinates me is the use of censorship, formal and informal.  Why do people wish to censor certain ideas?  Censored ideas are obviously seen as dangerous but WHY are they seen as dangerous?  It cannot be because they are silly.  There are many silly ideas that are not censored.  Nobody tries to censor the widespread claim that George Bush blew up the Twin Towers, for instance.  Silly ideas are allowed to run their course.  They are not censored.

So it is clearly threatening ideas that are censored.  But why are they threatening?  The answer surely is that the censored thought is reality-based.  So religious people who wish to censor expressions of sexual license, reveal by their censorship attempts that there is a real tendency towards sexual licence out there in the population -- a tendency which they do not wish to overwhelm  their own families.  And homosexuals who brand all criticism of homosexuality as "homophobia" reveal that there is a strong tendency out there in the population to find homosexuality at least distasteful if not perverted and immoral.

So ever since I wrote an academic article on the subject in 1972, it has always seemed to me that the idea of IQ is very threatening to those who fulminate against it.  And it is clear why it is threatening:  Because it refers to a fact that has great potential to upset people who are less intellectually able. 

But that is the point.  If it were a fantasy as silly as the claim about George Bush and the Twin Towers, nobody would be disturbed by it.  The fact that the idea of IQ is founded in over a century of careful academic research is the problem.  It is arguably the most solid finding ever to come out of psychological research that problem solving ability is highly general across different classes of problem.  And we call that general problem solving ability 'g' or IQ.

But the fact that there really is such a thing as IQ out there in the general population only intensifies the problem.  The findings about IQ are entirely disruptive to the Leftist wish to declare all men equal.  The fury and sweeping denunciations aimed at  people like Jason Richwine are so powerful precisely because the concept of IQ is so accurate.  Although many have tried, the concept of IQ cannot be dismissed academically.  So all that is left is denunciation and persecution of those who proclaim the facts of the matter. 

The fact that talk about IQ is so heavily penalized and forbidden is surely one of the most powerful demonstrations there are of how reality-based IQ findings are.  Putting it more generally, the more "forbidden" a statement is, the more likely it is to be true.

So it is mildly amusing how silly the attacks on IQ are -- and the demonstration that blacks on average have markedly lower IQs does of course arouse great steaming eruptions of silliness.  The quite standard response of Leftists is a variation of their ultimate fallback when forced into a corner by the facts.  They resort to some variation on the quite incoherent assertion that "there is no such thing as right and wrong".  In the case of IQ they deny that either IQ or race exists.

I have been reading a fair bit of the Leftist commentaries on the Richwine affair  -- from black writers like Ta Nehisi Coates to the cautious David Weigel.  And they regularly  refer to the concept of IQ as "discredited".  Who discredited it and how they do not say.  They don't want to go there. I think they know that they would be in very deep if they tried.  The various academic assaults on the concept have been easily rebutted  -- e.g. here.

Ta Nehisi Coates is however more empirical than most.  He takes a rather ad hominem approach.  Like the black conservative Tom Sowell, he shows how ideas of racial intelligence have been wrong in the past and arrives at the non sequitur that current ideas of that ilk are also therefore wrong.  It's rather like saying that Hitler liked dogs so love of dogs these days is Fascist.  Ultimately you have to judge the truth of a proposition on the  facts, not on who believes it now or who believed something similar in the past.

And absolutely ALL Leftists deny that such a thing as race exists.  As far as I can tell, ALL Americans can see that it does but when did reality hold up Leftists?  The argument for race non-existence is an old philosophical fallacy that can be applied to almost everything.  I can equally argue, for instance, that dogs do not exist  because some are large, some are small, some have short coats some have long coats, some are white some are black etc.

So some people regarded as American blacks look a lot like whites and some do not.  So the Leftist argument (e.g. by Coates) is that there is therefore no such thing as blacks. Such an asinine argument hardly deserves a reply but Razib Khan (a brown man) has answered it at length anyway  -- pointing out that all taxonomy in the natural world concerns central tendency rather than rigid or simple demarcation lines.  My comment from some years back on the matter is here.

Even many conservatives find the idea of low average IQ among blacks distasteful but, as the old Scots proverb has it:  "Facts are chiels that winna ding" (Facts are guys that you can't knock down).

FOOTNOTE:  It is often pretended that what IQ tests measure is either a mystery or trivial.  So we sometimes hear even from people who should know better the statement:  "IQ is only what IQ tests measure".  It is of course trivially true that IQ tests measure IQ but what IQ tests measure is neither obscure nor trivial.  They measure general problem-solving ability, which is why psychometricians refer to IQ as 'g'.  And that there is such a thing as general problem-solving ability is a momentous discovery with many implications -- which is why high IQ goes with so many desiderata:  from educational success to higher income to better health and longer life. 

And pointing out that there are exceptions to that rule is merely sophomoric.  In the life sciences all rules that I can think of have exceptions.  As any gambler can tell you, however, even small departures from randomness can be invaluable. A correlation does not have to be perfect to be useful.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Truth is no defense: The case of Jason Richwine

Richwine's resignation is emblematic of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse, says Charles Murray

On Monday, May 6, Robert Rector and Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation published a study of the fiscal effects of immigration amnesty, arguing that the costs would amount to $6.3 trillion. Controversy greeted the report, but of the normal kind, with critics making specific allegations that the costs were calculated using unrealistic assumptions.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed that Richwine’s 2009 Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard’s Kennedy School had said that, on average, Latinos have lower IQs than do non-Latino white Americans and the nation should consider incorporating IQ into immigration decisions. The blogosphere and some elements of the mainstream media erupted in denunciations.

On Friday, the Heritage Foundation announced that Richwine had resigned.

I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.

In resigning, Dr. Richwine joins distinguished company. The most famous biologist in the world, James D. Watson, was forced to retire from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 because of a factually accurate remark to a British journalist about low IQ scores among African blacks. In 2006, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, had to resign after a series of attacks that began with his empirically well-informed remarks about gender differences. These are just the most visible examples of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse: If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant.

In academia, only the tenured can safely write on these topics. Assistant professors know that their chances of getting tenure will be close to zero if they publish politically incorrect findings on climate change, homosexuality, race differences, gender differences, or renewable energy. Their chances will not be much higher if they have published anything with a distinctly conservative perspective of any sort. To borrow George Orwell’s word, they will have proved themselves to be guilty of crimethink.

Everybody who does research in the social sciences or biology is aware how treacherous the environment has become, and so scholars take defensive measures. They bury important findings in obscurely worded technical articles lest they be discovered by reporters and lead to disastrous publicity. A few years ago, a brilliant young evolutionary geneticist publicly announced he would not pursue his work on the evolution of brain size after his preliminary results were attacked as crimethink. Others have deliberately refrained from discussing race or gender differences in works that ordinarily would have called for treating those topics. When I chided the author of a successful book for avoiding some obvious issues involving race, he quite rightly replied that if he had included anything about race, everything else in the book would have been ignored.

These examples are only the visible tip of a much broader problem of self-censorship in the questions that scholars are willing to ask. I am not referring just to scholars who might otherwise engage the taboo topics directly. We can have no idea of the full extent to which important avenues of inquiry in economics, sociology, genetics, and neuroscience that indirectly touch on the taboo topics are also self-censored by scholars who fear becoming pariahs.

But let’s not pretend that the problem is confined to academia or intellectuals. It infects the culture more broadly.

Freedom of expression used to be a big deal in the United States. When the Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech was first on the list. Americans didn’t originate “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (maybe Voltaire said it, maybe not), but it became part of the American credo. The celebration of freedom of expression was still in full flower in the 1950s, when a play based on the Scopes trial, Inherit the Wind, was a Broadway hit. The American Civil Liberties Union of that era was passionately absolutist about freedom of expression, defending the right of free expression for even odious groups such as neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The lonely individual saying what he believed in the face of pressure to keep silent was a staple of American films and television drama.

Few remnants of those American themes survive. We too seldom engage our adversaries’ arguments in good faith. Often, we don’t even bother to find out what they are, attacking instead what we want them to be. When we don’t like what someone else thinks, we troll the Internet relentlessly until we find something with which to destroy that person professionally or personally — one is as good as the other. Hollywood still does films about lonely voices standing up against evil corporations or racist sheriffs, but never about lonely voices standing up against intellectual orthodoxy.

I’m sick of it. I also have no idea how to fix it. But we can light candles. Here is what I undertake to do, and I invite you to join me: Look for opportunities to praise people with whom you disagree but who have made an argument that deserves to be taken seriously. Look for opportunities to criticize allies who have used crimethink tactics against your adversaries. Identify yourself not just with those who agree with you, but with all those who stand for something and play fair.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Victorians were smarter than us, study suggests

Reaction times are far from the best measure of IQ but they are important so a decline in them is certainly cause for concern -- JR

The Victorians achieved so much because they were cleverer than us, a new study suggests.

Reaction times – a reliable marker of general intelligence – have declined steadily since the Victorian era from about 183 milliseconds to 250ms in men, and from 187ms to 277ms in women.

The slowing of our reflexes points to a decrease in general intelligence equivalent to 1.23 IQ points per decade since the 1880s or about 14 IQ points overall, researchers said.

Actual IQ scores from different decades cannot be directly compared because people today enjoy better teaching, health and nutrition which would help improve their results, the scientists explained.

But the reaction times signify that the genetic component of general intelligence – which leads to the type of creativity and invention typical of the Victorian era – has been dwindling over the past century.

Dr Michael Woodley, who led the study published in the Intelligence journal this month, identified the trend by comparing reaction times from trials conducted by Victorian scientists against those carried out in recent decades.

Our declining intelligence is most likely down to a "reverse" in the process of natural selection, he explained. The most intelligent people now have fewer children on average than in previous decades, while there are higher survival rates among people with less favourable genes.

"The pressures of modern life, a nine-to-five modern lifestyle, have created all these pressures against very smart people having break-even numbers of children," he said.


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Heretic at Heritage

Pat Buchanan

Jason Richwine, the young conservative scholar who co-authored the Heritage Foundation report on the long-term costs of the amnesty bill backed by the "Gang of Eight," is gone from Heritage.

He was purged after The Washington Post unearthed his doctoral dissertation at the JFK School of Government.

Richwine's thesis:

IQ tests fairly measure mental ability. The average IQ of immigrants is well below that of white Americans. This difference in IQ is likely to persist through several generations.

And the potential consequences of this?

"A lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market."

Richwine defended his 166-page thesis before Harvard's George Borjas, Richard Zeckhauser and Christopher Jencks, who once edited The New Republic. But while his thesis was acceptable at Harvard -- it earned Richwine a Ph.D. -- it has scandalized the Potomac priesthood.

Our elites appear unanimous: Richwine's view that intelligence is not equally distributed among ethnic and racial groups, and is partly inherited, is rankest heresy. Yet no one seems to want to prove him wrong.

Consider Richwine's contention that differences in mental ability exist and seem to persist among racial and ethnic groups.

In The Wall Street Journal last month, Warren Kozak noted that 28,000 students in America's citadel of diversity, New York City, took the eighth-grade exam to enter Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, the city's most elite high schools. Students are admitted solely on their entrance test scores.

Of the 830 students who will be entering Stuyvesant as freshmen this fall, 1 percent are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, 21 percent are white -- and 75 percent are Asian.

Now, blacks and Hispanics far outnumber Asians in New York. But at Stuyvesant, Asians will outnumber blacks and Hispanics together 19-to-1.

Is this the result of racially biased tests at Stuyvesant?

At Berkeley, crown jewel of the California university system, Hispanics, 40 percent of California's population and an even larger share of California's young, are 12 percent of the freshman class. Asians, outnumbered almost 3-to-1 by Hispanics in California, have almost four times as many slots as Hispanics in the freshman class. Another example of racial bias?

The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, which measures the academic ability of 15-year-olds worldwide, found the U.S.A. falling to 17th in reading, 23rd in science, 31st in math.

Yet, Spain aside, not one Hispanic nation, from which a plurality of our immigrants come, was among the top 40 in reading, science or math.

But these folks are going to come here and make us No. 1 again?

Is there greater "underclass behavior" among Hispanics?

The crime rate among Hispanics is about three times that of white Americans, while the Asian crime rate is about a third that of whites.

Among white folks, the recent illegitimacy rate was 28 percent; among Hispanics, 53 percent. According to one study a few years back, Hispanics were 19 times as likely as whites to join gangs.

What about Richwine's point regarding "social trust"?

Six years ago, in "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century," Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," wrote that after 30,000 interviews he found that ethnic and racial diversity can be devastating to communities and destructive of community values.

In racially mixed communities, Putnam wrote, not only do people not trust strangers, they do not even trust their own kind.

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down,' that is, to pull in like a turtle ... (to) withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

With the immigration bill granting amnesty to 12 million illegals, an open door to their dependents and a million new immigrants each year, almost all from the Third World, America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today. Yet, it was in L.A. that Putnam found social capital at its most depleted and exhausted.

If Richwine is right, America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor.

The issues Richwine raises go to the question of whether we shall survive as one nation and one people.

If our huge bloc of Hispanics, already America's largest minority at 53 million, is fed by constant new immigration, but fails for a couple of generations to reach the middle-class status that Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians and Poles attained after two generations, what becomes of our "indivisible" nation?

Rather than face this question, better to purge and silence the Harvard extremist who dared to raise it.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Crucifixion of Jason Richwine

Michelle Malkin presents the facts below but may not make it completely clear that there are two pieces of writing involved:  The Heritage report on the costs of immigration and Richwine's Ph.D. dissertation.  Richwine was only a junior contributor to the Heritage report. 

When the open-borders clique found that the Heritage report was too difficult to rebut, they went off on a tangent and started to shriek about Richwine's Ph.D. dissertation and the bad things he said in it.  In good Leftist "ad hominem" style, they attempted to discredit the Heritage report by saying that one of its authors was a bad man.

What they found in Richwine's dissertation did surprise me.  Richwine touched the third rail of American politics:  IQ.  IQ  studies are not terribly controversial among professors of psychology who work in the field but they are dynamite in American politics.  IQ studies are COMPLETELY inconsistent with the great Leftist myth that "All men are equal".  God may value all men equally (a rather unscriptural assertion) but they are not equal in any other sense.  All men are different.  And  IQ studies show that clearly.

Even worse, however, is that some RACES are different too.  That is not intrinsically surprising but it clashes with the widespread American wish that the whole topic of race will go away and that any effect of slavery or Jim Crow will simply wash out eventually.  It won't.  IQ tests have been showing time after time for around the last 100 years that blacks have a severe intellectual disadvantage compared to whites.  Every effort under the sun has been made to find fault with that finding but nothing works.  After all criticisms are allowed for, the large  black/white gap remains.

So why a young researcher like Richwine stepped into that quagmire, I do not know.  He showed that Hispanics too have low average IQs, though not as low as for blacks.  He was taking a huge risk of being attacked just by mentioning the topic  -- let alone by doing a comprehensive survey of the evidence on it.

I am myself a psychometrician who has made a couple of minor contributions to the academic literature on IQ but I can assure you that I said nothing on the topic until I had tenure.

So it is sad that an honest man has had his name dragged through the mud for no good reason but he really should have left the topic to those who are in a better position to resist the slings and arrows of a deeply corrupt but powerful Left.

The people I condemn most are the powers that be at Heritage.  They have fired Richwine in a cowardly attempt to take the heat off themselves.  I am a regular donor to American and Israeli conservative organizations but Heritage will get not one cent from me from now on.  Any existing donors reading this should also write to them and tell them "no more"

How low will supporters of the Gang of Eight immigration bill go to get their way? This low: They've shamelessly branded an accomplished Ivy League-trained quantitative analyst a "racist" and will stop at nothing to destroy his career as they pave their legislative path to another massive illegal alien benefits bonanza.

Jason Richwine works for the conservative Heritage Foundation. He's a Harvard University Ph.D. who co-authored a study that pegs the cost of the Ted Kennedy Memorial Open Borders Act 2.0 legislation at $6.3 trillion. Lead author Robert Rector is a senior research fellow at Heritage, a former United States Office of Personnel Management analyst and the intellectual godfather of welfare reform. He holds a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University.

Both Democrats and Republicans leaped to discredit the 102-page report without bothering to read it. The Washington Post falsely claimed that the study did not take into account increased revenues from amnestied illegal alien workers. It did. Haley Barbour immediately proclaimed that the Heritage assessment of government costs incurred by amnestied illegal aliens was "not serious."

They want to talk gravitas? Let's talk gravitas. Blowhard Barbour is a career politician and paid lobbyist for the government of Mexico who has carried water for open borders since the Bush years.

Richwine received his doctorate in public policy in 2009 from Harvard University's prestigious Kennedy School of Government. He holds bachelor's degrees in mathematics and political science from American University. Before joining Heritage in 2010, he worked at the American Enterprise Institute on a dissertation fellowship.

Richwine's 166-page dissertation, "IQ and Immigration Policy," is now being used to smear him -- and, by extension, all of Heritage's scholarship -- as "racist." While the punditocracy and political establishment sanctimoniously call for "honest discussions" on race, they rush to crush bona fide, dispassionate academic inquiries into the controversial subjects of intelligence, racial and ethnic differences, and domestic policy.

Richwine's entire thesis is now online here.

Part One reviews the science of IQ. Part Two delves into empirical research comparing IQs of the native-born American population with that of immigrant groups, with the Hispanic population broken out. Richwine explores the causes of an immigrant IQ deficit that appears to persist among Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. through several generations.

The thesis analyzes social policy consequences of these findings and uses a model of the labor market "to show how immigrant IQ affects the economic surplus accruing to natives and the wage impact on low-skill natives."

The smug dismissal of Richwine's credentials and scholarship is to be expected by liberal hacks and clown operatives. But a reckless and cowardly pileup of knee-jerk dilettantes on the right -- including former McCain campaign co-chair Ana Navarro and conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin -- have joined the character assassins of the Soros-sphere, MSNBC and Mother Jones in deeming Richwine a "racist." The drooling attack dogs of the far-left blog Daily Kos have now launched a pressure campaign against the JFK School demanding to know "why the school awarded Richwine a Ph.D. and what they plan to do in the future to prevent it from happening again.”

No researcher or academic institution is safe if this smear campaign succeeds. Richwine's dissertation committee at Harvard included George Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy. The Cuban-born scholar received his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia. He is an award-winning labor economist, a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and the author of countless books, including a widely used labor economics textbook now in its sixth edition.

Richard J. Zeckhauser, the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy at JFK, also signed off on Richwine's dissertation. Zeckhauser earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He belongs to the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences).

The final member of Richwine's "racist" thesis committee is Christopher Jencks, the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at Harvard's JFK School. He is a renowned left-wing academic who has taught at Harvard, Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He edited the liberal New Republic magazine in the 1960s and has written several scholarly books tackling poverty, economic inequality, affirmative action, welfare reform and, yes, racial differences ("The Black-White Test Score Gap").

The willingness of Republican Gang of 8'ers to allow a young conservative researcher and married father of two to be strung up by the p.c. lynch mob for the crime of unflinching social science research is chilling, sickening and suicidal.

These are serious people doing serious work. The crucifiers of Jason Richwine pretend to defend sound science. But if it is now inherently racist to study racial and ethnic differences among demographic groups, then it's time to shut down every social sciences department in the country.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Debunking the IQ myth (?)

This Hampshire guff (below) was debunked months ago -- and the underlying controversy goes back about 100 years.  We have always known that IQ can be split up in various ways so the only interesting issue is how well those components correlate.  From the report below you could be forgiven for thinking that they do not correlate at all.  But they do.  The correlations were somewhat lower in the Hampshire study because of his use of a restricted (high IQ) sample, but that effect is elementary statistics and does not provide an estimate for the population as a whole.  There is NOTHING new in this study from a psychometrics viewpoint:  Just another tired old attempt to deny the facts that don't align with  the "all men are equal" myth

You may be more than a single number, according to a team of Western-led researchers. Considered a standard gauge of intelligence, an intelligence quotient (IQ) score doesn't actually provide an accurate measure of one's intellect, according to a landmark study – the largest of its kind – led by Adrian Owen of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western.

The study included more than 100,000 participants from around the globe, asking them to complete 12 cognitive tests looking at their memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities. It found a simple IQ score is misleading when assessing one's intellectual capacity. These findings were published in an article:

"Fractioning Human Intelligence," in the journal Neuron, last month. "While there are different types of intelligence, they are all influenced by one, overarching, general intelligence. And that's what we essentially measured using something like an IQ test," said Adam Hampshire of the Brain and Mind Institute, who co-authored the paper.

Hampshire noted this kind of testing is insufficient in measuring one's intellect as it doesn't take into account multiple factors and abilities – different kinds of intelligence. "In the past, when people tried to examine how intelligence is related to the brain, they generally approached it with an assumption that there is one dominant form of intelligence which is sub-served by a specific system in the brain. What we found is that the brain regions associated with whatever the 'G Factor' is – what general intelligence is – actually housed more specialized systems, not just one," he explained.

"What we did in our study, that's been different than what's been done before, is to try and understand what the structure of intelligence is by considering the way in which the brain is organized into specialized functional systems – that is, when you look at the brain and you see there are different areas that form networks and support different types of functions," he explained.

As part of the study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques with one group of participants to show that differences in cognitive abilities correspond to individual circuits in the brain.

"There are these multiple forms of intelligence and each form is in a different brain system," Hampshire said. Results from the study found that given a broader range of cognitive tasks, the differences in ability relate to at least three components of intelligence – short-term memory, reasoning and verbal aptitude.

These three components combined create an intelligence, or "cognitive profile." In other words, there is no single measure of intelligence.

Given the range of participants in the study, results also gave researchers new insight into how factors such as age, gender and the tendency to play computer games can influence brain function. While age had a profound negative effect on memory and reasoning abilities, playing computer games helped certain individuals perform better on tests assessing reasoning and short-term memory.

"My hope is that this (study) pens the debate back up on how we should conceive of and measure human intelligence. We very often hear these comparisons (of intelligence) and it's a terrible oversimplification. People should be skeptical when they hear these reports of population differences in IQ; it shouldn't be a unitary measure. Examining the social demographic correlations in more detail will help to understand them better. The patterns need to be examined with a more detailed model," Hampshire noted.

"We've identified different forms of intelligence now which relate to different systems in the brain. And we've also researched some into correlations with types of intelligence and different social demographics variables. What's next is refining that model of intelligence."