Two texts about IQ


Jedi Master
I've found two texts about IQ which I thought would be interesting for the readers here.

The first text is titled "The Outsiders" and is about the correlation between (high) IQ and and social maladjustment. It an article published in "Gift of Fire", the magazine of the Prometheus Society, an association of people with high IQs.

Some short excerpts
Grady M. Towers said:
Children with IQs up to 150 get along in the ordinary course of school life quite well, achieving excellent marks without serious effort. But children above this mental status become almost intolerably bored with school work if kept in lockstep with unselected pupils of their own age. Children who rise above 170 IQ are liable to regard school with indifference or with positive dislike, for they find nothing in the work to absorb their interest. This condition of affairs, coupled with the supervision of unseeing and unsympathetic teachers, has sometimes led even to truancy on the part of gifted children
A second adjustment problem faced by all gifted persons is due to their uncommon versatility.
A third problem faced by the gifted is learning to suffer fools gladly.
The single greatest adjustment problem faced by the gifted, however, is their tendency to become isolated from the rest of humanity. This problem is especially acute among the exceptionally gifted.
Article -->
More articles -->

The second text compares IQs of the black, white (and asiatic) races. It is a research paper titled "THIRTY YEARS OF RESEARCH ON RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY" and was written by Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen. Below is the abstract

Ruston and Jensen said:
The culture-only (0% genetic–100% environmental) and the hereditarian (50%
genetic–50% environmental) models of the causes of mean Black–White differences in cognitive ability are compared and contrasted across 10 categories of evidence:
the worldwide distribution of test scores,
g factor of mental ability,
brain size and cognitive ability,
transracial adoption,
racial admixture,
related life-history traits,
human origins research,
and hypothesized environmental variables.

The new evidence reviewed here points to some genetic component in Black–White differences in mean IQ. The implication for public policy is that the discrimination model (i.e., Black–White differences in socially valued outcomes will be equal barring discrimination) must be tempered by a distributional model (i.e., Black–White outcomes reflect underlying group characteristics).
The full paper (PDF) is here -->

I am posting this text here despite having some reserves about it because I think that they are possibly drawing their conclusions based on invalid premisses b/c the tests used on African ppl were possibly not appropriate in first place b/c they were not understood by the subjects. There is a comment thread about this paper (here - click on 'Comments' down left). Look for "Flumo and Yakpalo" and the comments following it, which illustrate perfectly what I suspect is the case. A short quote:
Mortimer in GNXP said:
"if we accept the hypothesis that African people are simply not oriented towards IQ-type tests"

I could't find anything on Google. Here's what Stephen Pinker wrote about research done in Liberia in the '70's:

For many years, the psychologist Michael Cole and his colleagues studied a Liberian people called the Kpelle. They are an articulate group enjoying argument and debate. Most are illiterate and unschooled, and they do poorly on tests that seem easy to us. This dialogue show why:

Experimenter: Flumo and Yakpalo always drink cane juice (rum) together. Flumo is drinking cane juice. Is Yakpalo drinking can juice?

Subject: Flumo and Yakpalo drink cane juice together , but the time Flumo was drinking the first one Yakpalo was not there on that day.

Experimenter: But I told you that Flumo and Yakpalo always drink cane juice together. One day Flumo was drinking can juice. Was Yakpalo drinking can juice?

Subject: The day Flumo was drinking can juice Yakpalo was not there on that day.

Experimenter: What is the reason?

Subject: The reason is that Yakpalo went to his farm on that day and Flumo remained in town that day.

The example is not atypical: Cole's subjects often say things like "Yakapalo isn't here at the moment; why don't you go and ask him about the matter?"


Also, these Liberians that were studied in the '70's were "unschooled" and "illiterate" and presumably it is schooling that develops the "orientation" needed for IQ tests, but the Africans mentioned in the Rushton and Jensen article apparently were schooled. Maybe IQ test orientation is a matter of degree, but then it seems likely that there would be different item structures for oriented vs. non-oriented groups, and apparently that is not the case. Maybe one thing they could do is try to extract a working memory component from the results of tests on the Ravens, estimate it's heritability, and then determine if that genetic component plays a major role in producing these low scores. But it is not necessarily obvious that working memory is more heritable than conceptual representation, or how to separate one from the other. Perhaps the reason why this issue has not been fully resolved is that people are afraid of what they might find if they investigate it thoroughly.


The Force is Strong With This One
Also, these Liberians that were studied in the '70's were "unschooled" and "illiterate" and presumably it is schooling that develops the "orientation" needed for IQ tests, but the Africans mentioned in the Rushton and Jensen article apparently were schooled. Maybe IQ test orientation is a matter of degree, but then it seems likely that there would be different item structures for oriented vs. non-oriented groups, and apparently that is not the case. Maybe one thing they could do is try to extract a working memory component from the results of tests on the Ravens, estimate it's heritability, and then determine if that genetic component plays a major role in producing these low scores. But it is not necessarily obvious that working memory is more heritable than conceptual representation, or how to separate one from the other. Perhaps the reason why this issue has not been fully resolved is that people are afraid of what they might find if they investigate it thoroughly.
What I'm reading from this paragraph is that, in other words, western education which supposedly "develops the orientation needed for IQ tests," in reality teaches people to accept a premise unquestioningly... please correct me if I'm wrong.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've taken such tests before. Seemed partially based, among other things, on degree of acculturation, and partially on degree of utilization of education (programming) -- that is, you learned to read, so, did you go and read a lot, etc. There are volumes of criticism of such tests to be found, and also entirely different theories about what intelligence actually is, because it is not well defined. See Guilford's Structure of the Intellect theory, et. al.


Jedi Master
I don't trust IQ tests. For example, if your IQ is so high that you treat school - or even life in general, with indifference, then why should you treat an IQ test any differently? Also I hate IQ tests! They're stupid, probably designed by a person with an IQ of 80 ;) I done one once, and it was so badly made, you could easily debate the question for quite a while, but no... the decision is made by the test that you are wrong and therefore you are thick, no comebacks.

Another thing is I don't think you need to have an IQ of 170 to find school boring.

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Malcolm Gladwell addresses all this Jensen nonsense about IQ being genetic here:

Basically, James Flynn demolished all such arguments, but racists have ignored his research or dismissed it unfairly. What Flynn found was that for different ethnic groups, IQ rose over time as they became acculturated to the dominant culture who wrote the tests. Believe it or not, in the 1920s scientists debated whether or not Jews were genetically dumber than other Americans. Nowadays, that would be absurd, Jews score very highly on intelligence tests, but in the 1920s they were much more likely to be poor, recent arrivals who didn't have English as their first language. If IQ rises over time, then it can't be genetic. Also it rises over time for ALL ethnic groups. That means that the way they score it, the majority of people in 1900 would be considered retarded today. Because scores keep rising, each 20 years or so, they recalibrate it so that you need to do better on the tests to get the same "score." Most people don't realize this.

Malcolm Gladwell said:
One Saturday in November of 1984, James Flynn, a social scientist at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, received a large package in the mail. It was from a colleague in Utrecht, and it contained the results of I.Q. tests given to two generations of Dutch eighteen-year-olds. When Flynn looked through the data, he found something puzzling. The Dutch eighteen-year-olds from the nineteen-eighties scored better than those who took the same tests in the nineteen-fifties—and not just slightly better, much better.

Curious, Flynn sent out some letters. He collected intelligence-test results from Europe, from North America, from Asia, and from the developing world, until he had data for almost thirty countries. In every case, the story was pretty much the same. I.Q.s around the world appeared to be rising by 0.3 points per year, or three points per decade, for as far back as the tests had been administered. For some reason, human beings seemed to be getting smarter.

Flynn has been writing about the implications of his findings—now known as the Flynn effect—for almost twenty-five years. His books consist of a series of plainly stated statistical observations, in support of deceptively modest conclusions, and the evidence in support of his original observation is now so overwhelming that the Flynn effect has moved from theory to fact. What remains uncertain is how to make sense of the Flynn effect. If an American born in the nineteen-thirties has an I.Q. of 100, the Flynn effect says that his children will have I.Q.s of 108, and his grandchildren I.Q.s of close to 120—more than a standard deviation higher. If we work in the opposite direction, the typical teen-ager of today, with an I.Q. of 100, would have had grandparents with average I.Q.s of 82—seemingly below the threshold necessary to graduate from high school. And, if we go back even farther, the Flynn effect puts the average I.Q.s of the schoolchildren of 1900 at around 70, which is to suggest, bizarrely, that a century ago the United States was populated largely by people who today would be considered mentally retarded...

The very fact that average I.Q.s shift over time ought to create a “crisis of confidence,” Flynn writes in “What Is Intelligence?” (Cambridge; $22), his latest attempt to puzzle through the implications of his discovery. “How could such huge gains be intelligence gains? Either the children of today were far brighter than their parents or, at least in some circumstances, I.Q. tests were not good measures of intelligence.”

The best way to understand why I.Q.s rise, Flynn argues, is to look at one of the most widely used I.Q. tests, the so-called WISC (for Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). The WISC is composed of ten subtests, each of which measures a different aspect of I.Q. Flynn points out that scores in some of the categories—those measuring general knowledge, say, or vocabulary or the ability to do basic arithmetic—have risen only modestly over time. The big gains on the WISC are largely in the category known as “similarities,” where you get questions such as “In what way are ‘dogs’ and ‘rabbits’ alike?” Today, we tend to give what, for the purposes of I.Q. tests, is the right answer: dogs and rabbits are both mammals. A nineteenth-century American would have said that “you use dogs to hunt rabbits.”

“If the everyday world is your cognitive home, it is not natural to detach abstractions and logic and the hypothetical from their concrete referents,” Flynn writes. Our great-grandparents may have been perfectly intelligent. But they would have done poorly on I.Q. tests because they did not participate in the twentieth century’s great cognitive revolution, in which we learned to sort experience according to a new set of abstract categories. In Flynn’s phrase, we have now had to put on “scientific spectacles,” which enable us to make sense of the WISC questions about similarities. To say that Dutch I.Q. scores rose substantially between 1952 and 1982 was another way of saying that the Netherlands in 1982 was, in at least certain respects, much more cognitively demanding than the Netherlands in 1952. An I.Q., in other words, measures not so much how smart we are as how modern we are.

This is a critical distinction. When the children of Southern Italian immigrants were given I.Q. tests in the early part of the past century, for example, they recorded median scores in the high seventies and low eighties, a full standard deviation below their American and Western European counterparts. Southern Italians did as poorly on I.Q. tests as Hispanics and blacks did. As you can imagine, there was much concerned talk at the time about the genetic inferiority of Italian stock, of the inadvisability of letting so many second-class immigrants into the United States, and of the squalor that seemed endemic to Italian urban neighborhoods. Sound familiar? These days, when talk turns to the supposed genetic differences in the intelligence of certain races, Southern Italians have disappeared from the discussion. “Did their genes begin to mutate somewhere in the 1930s?” the psychologists Seymour Sarason and John Doris ask, in their account of the Italian experience. “Or is it possible that somewhere in the 1920s, if not earlier, the sociocultural history of Italo-Americans took a turn from the blacks and the Spanish Americans which permitted their assimilation into the general undifferentiated mass of Americans?”

The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. “A wise man could only do such-and-such,” they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, “How would a fool do it?” The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the “right” categories. It can be argued that taxonomical categories are a developmental improvement—that is, that the Kpelle would be more likely to advance, technologically and scientifically, if they started to see the world that way. But to label them less intelligent than Westerners, on the basis of their performance on that test, is merely to state that they have different cognitive preferences and habits. And if I.Q. varies with habits of mind, which can be adopted or discarded in a generation, what, exactly, is all the fuss about?

When I was growing up, my family would sometimes play Twenty Questions on long car trips. My father was one of those people who insist that the standard categories of animal, vegetable, and mineral be supplemented with a fourth category: “abstract.” Abstract could mean something like “whatever it was that was going through my mind when we drove past the water tower fifty miles back.” That abstract category sounds absurdly difficult, but it wasn’t: it merely required that we ask a slightly different set of questions and grasp a slightly different set of conventions, and, after two or three rounds of practice, guessing the contents of someone’s mind fifty miles ago becomes as easy as guessing Winston Churchill. (There is one exception. That was the trip on which my old roommate Tom Connell chose, as an abstraction, “the Unknown Soldier”—which allowed him legitimately and gleefully to answer “I have no idea” to almost every question. There were four of us playing. We gave up after an hour.) Flynn would say that my father was teaching his three sons how to put on scientific spectacles, and that extra practice probably bumped up all of our I.Q.s a few notches. But let’s be clear about what this means. There’s a world of difference between an I.Q. advantage that’s genetic and one that depends on extended car time with Graham Gladwell.

Flynn is a cautious and careful writer. Unlike many others in the I.Q. debates, he resists grand philosophizing. He comes back again and again to the fact that I.Q. scores are generated by paper-and-pencil tests—and making sense of those scores, he tells us, is a messy and complicated business that requires something closer to the skills of an accountant than to those of a philosopher.

For instance, Flynn shows what happens when we recognize that I.Q. is not a freestanding number but a value attached to a specific time and a specific test. When an I.Q. test is created, he reminds us, it is calibrated or “normed” so that the test-takers in the fiftieth percentile—those exactly at the median—are assigned a score of 100. But since I.Q.s are always rising, the only way to keep that hundred-point benchmark is periodically to make the tests more difficult—to “renorm” them. The original WISC was normed in the late nineteen-forties. It was then renormed in the early nineteen-seventies, as the WISC-R; renormed a third time in the late eighties, as the WISC III; and renormed again a few years ago, as the WISC IV—with each version just a little harder than its predecessor. The notion that anyone “has” an I.Q. of a certain number, then, is meaningless unless you know which WISC he took, and when he took it, since there’s a substantial difference between getting a 130 on the WISC IV and getting a 130 on the much easier WISC.

This is not a trivial issue. I.Q. tests are used to diagnose people as mentally retarded, with a score of 70 generally taken to be the cutoff. You can imagine how the Flynn effect plays havoc with that system. In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, most states used the WISC-R to make their mental-retardation diagnoses. But since kids—even kids with disabilities—score a little higher every year, the number of children whose scores fell below 70 declined steadily through the end of the eighties. Then, in 1991, the WISC III was introduced, and suddenly the percentage of kids labelled retarded went up. The psychologists Tomoe Kanaya, Matthew Scullin, and Stephen Ceci estimated that, if every state had switched to the WISC III right away, the number of Americans labelled mentally retarded should have doubled.

That is an extraordinary number. The diagnosis of mental disability is one of the most stigmatizing of all educational and occupational classifications—and yet, apparently, the chances of being burdened with that label are in no small degree a function of the point, in the life cycle of the WISC, at which a child happens to sit for his evaluation. “As far as I can determine, no clinical or school psychologists using the WISC over the relevant 25 years noticed that its criterion of mental retardation became more lenient over time,” Flynn wrote, in a 2000 paper. “Yet no one drew the obvious moral about psychologists in the field: They simply were not making any systematic assessment of the I.Q. criterion for mental retardation.”

Flynn brings a similar precision to the question of whether Asians have a genetic advantage in I.Q., a possibility that has led to great excitement among I.Q. fundamentalists in recent years. Data showing that the Japanese had higher I.Q.s than people of European descent, for example, prompted the British psychometrician and eugenicist Richard Lynn to concoct an elaborate evolutionary explanation involving the Himalayas, really cold weather, premodern hunting practices, brain size, and specialized vowel sounds. The fact that the I.Q.s of Chinese-Americans also seemed to be elevated has led I.Q. fundamentalists to posit the existence of an international I.Q. pyramid, with Asians at the top, European whites next, and Hispanics and blacks at the bottom.

Here was a question tailor-made for James Flynn’s accounting skills. He looked first at Lynn’s data, and realized that the comparison was skewed. Lynn was comparing American I.Q. estimates based on a representative sample of schoolchildren with Japanese estimates based on an upper-income, heavily urban sample. Recalculated, the Japanese average came in not at 106.6 but at 99.2. Then Flynn turned his attention to the Chinese-American estimates. They turned out to be based on a 1975 study in San Francisco’s Chinatown using something called the Lorge-Thorndike Intelligence Test. But the Lorge-Thorndike test was normed in the nineteen-fifties. For children in the nineteen-seventies, it would have been a piece of cake. When the Chinese-American scores were reassessed using up-to-date intelligence metrics, Flynn found, they came in at 97 verbal and 100 nonverbal. Chinese-Americans had slightly lower I.Q.s than white Americans.

The Asian-American success story had suddenly been turned on its head. The numbers now suggested, Flynn said, that they had succeeded not because of their higher I.Q.s. but despite their lower I.Q.s. Asians were overachievers. In a nifty piece of statistical analysis, Flynn then worked out just how great that overachievement was. Among whites, virtually everyone who joins the ranks of the managerial, professional, and technical occupations has an I.Q. of 97 or above. Among Chinese-Americans, that threshold is 90. A Chinese-American with an I.Q. of 90, it would appear, does as much with it as a white American with an I.Q. of 97.

There should be no great mystery about Asian achievement. It has to do with hard work and dedication to higher education, and belonging to a culture that stresses professional success. But Flynn makes one more observation. The children of that first successful wave of Asian-Americans really did have I.Q.s that were higher than everyone else’s—coming in somewhere around 103. Having worked their way into the upper reaches of the occupational scale, and taken note of how much the professions value abstract thinking, Asian-American parents have evidently made sure that their own children wore scientific spectacles. “Chinese Americans are an ethnic group for whom high achievement preceded high I.Q. rather than the reverse,” Flynn concludes, reminding us that in our discussions of the relationship between I.Q. and success we often confuse causes and effects. “It is not easy to view the history of their achievements without emotion,” he writes. That is exactly right. To ascribe Asian success to some abstract number is to trivialize it...
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