still waiting …

by Henry on November 19, 2007

Andrew Sullivan today on race and IQ, yet again.

In the end, the data demand addressing.

Yes, they do, Andrew. They do.

{ 2 trackbacks }

racismreview.com » Blog Archive » Racism and IQ (Again)
11.20.07 at 5:46 pm
Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » On regretfully concluding that your race is just naturally smarter than that other one
11.21.07 at 5:08 pm

{ 72 comments }

1

SamChevre 11.19.07 at 8:15 pm

If I write a long long long piece on how Cosma Shalizi’s essay is brilliant, and totally misses the point, will you post it?

My abstract: that there is no real quality represented by g–it’s a statistical abstraction–is about as relevant as the lack of totally rational actors in economics. “Economic rationality” and “g” are still good models for prediction.

2

mq 11.19.07 at 8:29 pm

Samchevre, “g” might be a perfectly valid predictor of the performance of an individual in a job task requiring the manipulation of abstractions. But people try to use it to predict the potential of entire races for intellectual, economic, and cultural advancement, over a period of a generation or more. That sort of predictive use is totally unsupported by any kind of scientific evidence. That’s the point, and Cosma’s evidence bears on it.

3

Kevin Donoghue 11.19.07 at 8:34 pm

“Economic rationality” and “g” are still good models for prediction.

Economic rationality is pretty good for predicting what will happen if the price of margarine falls relative to the price of butter. It’s not much good for predicting what will happen if a large bank fails.

What’s g good for? IQ tests are outperformed by the marshmallow test when it comes to predicting the scholastic performance of children – and that’s what IQ tests were designed for.

4

BillCinSD 11.19.07 at 9:13 pm

weren’t IQ tests designed to help identify areas in which young people have trouble learning?

5

Lemmy Caution 11.19.07 at 9:15 pm

6

Matt Weiner 11.19.07 at 9:31 pm

The Slate article also draws heavily on papers by Philippe Rushton. I don’t know whether all these criticisms of Rushton are on-target — it’s Wikipedia — but the reprimand by UWO is well documented. I’d trust Ahmed Chalabi first.

7

Bloix 11.19.07 at 9:42 pm

“The data demand addressing”? Is this English?

8

roger 11.19.07 at 9:56 pm

If I write a long piece showing that Rudolf the rednosed reindeer really does have a shiny nose – and it glows, just like the model of economic rationality! – will you publish it, Henry? Or are you one of those liberal creationists afraid of science.

9

Brett Bellmore 11.19.07 at 10:10 pm

If you could actually gin up some proof, like luminosity readings off the nose of a levitating reindeer, he’d be a fool NOT to publish it. You appear to be confused about who is demonstrating a fear of science here.

10

Aidan Kehoe 11.19.07 at 10:11 pm

“The data demand addressing”? Is this English?

Yes, and better English than yours.

11

Uncle Kvetch 11.19.07 at 10:26 pm

How dare you try to silence Andrew the Stalwart! You can’t handle the truth!

12

Crystal 11.19.07 at 10:35 pm

But science isn’t politically correct! I’m not afraid to speak truth to power! Er…as an affluent white male, I *am* power.

Come back, Stephen Jay Gould. Your country and your discipline need you.

13

nu 11.19.07 at 10:36 pm

there are more fundamental issues:
does the data really exist ?
what’s a race ?

14

John Quiggin 11.19.07 at 10:55 pm

Actually, “data” is a mass noun in English (otherwise “data processing” and many similar constructions would be ungrammatical). It’s derived from a Latin plural, but so is the singular “agenda”.

If you need a count noun, there’s either the nearly obsolete “datum” or, much more standard, “data point”

So, if you don’t mind the anthroporphism, it would be better to write “the data demands addressing”

15

Matt Weiner 11.19.07 at 10:57 pm

via nu’s links, here’s a detailed attack on Rushton’s work on head size — the very work that Saletan cited as quoted in post #5. I don’t know anything about Zack Cernovsky (author of the quoted piece), so conceivably it’s he and not Rushton who’s making things up. But it would be nice if Saletan (and those who cite him, like Sullivan) showed an inkling of the controversial nature of his work — not controversial because of the conclusions he reaches, but controversial because (according to his critics) he does shitty science.

16

Matt Weiner 11.19.07 at 10:58 pm

Isn’t the point that “the data must be addressed” would be better?

17

roger 11.19.07 at 11:19 pm

I think the point was – the disposition to believe racist narratives based on slippery science or even pseudo-science might, just might, oh in the slightest, tiniest way, have a correlation with the disposition to have racist beliefs. Of course, the latter can’t be true, as we know the tooth fairy came down in America in 1970, pointed its magic wand at the generation growing up and going to all those little Ivy league schools, and said poof – no more racism. Amazing how it just all disappeared. It was quite a relief, that.

18

roger 11.19.07 at 11:21 pm

ps – oh, I should say that according to P. Rushton’s “Correlation of penile girth to moral i.q. quotient of tooth fairies”, that tooth fairy was a bit of all right – a real race superior creature! And talk about head size – much superior to tinkerbell.

19

Brad Holden 11.19.07 at 11:31 pm

Silly me, I actually downloaded the PDF file that Saletan links to.

Did you know that Irish really are stupider? See Table 1. They score 11 points lower than the British (not English, British). That is the same difference between Hong Kong and Britain which, supposedly, has a genetic origin. I guess a lot of Africans moved to Ireland in the recent past. Hey, wait, doesn’t Ireland have a higher GDP per capita (in PPP) than Great Britain?

Looking at Table 3, Blacks are more likely to be “aggressive” and “impulsive”. That most explain why the Irish make so much money. It is all from aggressive, rish-taking portfolios in the City and on Wall Street.

Am I really suppose to take this stuff seriously?

20

roger 11.19.07 at 11:42 pm

Brett, that’s too bad. You should be more impressed by ridicule. Ridicule is a great weapon in the world – it worked for Jonathan swift and Thomas Paine, it exposes congealed injustices without casuistry, it picks open logical fallacies, and it exposes bigotries. I’m much more impressed by successful ridicule than I am by, say, intense linking to far out journals run by eugenicists that actually do attempt to summarize penis length – one of Rushton’s obsessions.

21

roger 11.19.07 at 11:44 pm

ps – I mean, summarize penis length research! Although it is a goal that is as utterly absurd as summarizing penis length, when it comes down to it.

22

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 11.19.07 at 11:44 pm

My real problem with “The data demand[s] addressing” is that the sentiment is dated. Research the subject if you want. But Andrew Sullivan’s obsession with race and IQ is not only unhealthy, it’s a flashback to the worst of the 90s. It’s doing the timewarp again – just like Creationism – and just as dodgy. Get over it, already.

But of course he can’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Sullivan started blogging on the latest advances in Phrenology.

23

engels 11.19.07 at 11:54 pm

I, for one, am shocked that Brett Bellmore would simply dismiss the existence of the Tooth Fairy and Rudolph without so much as a survey of the relevant scholarly literature. Why is Brett Bellmore afraid of science?

24

Aidan Kehoe 11.19.07 at 11:57 pm

Actually, “data” is a mass noun in English

Not in good print journalism. Online, certainly.

25

Henry 11.19.07 at 11:58 pm

Brett – you have exceeded your one-comment-a-day – I have deleted those in excess of the limit. I look forward to reading your wrap-up reply tomorrow.

26

Uncle Kvetch 11.20.07 at 12:04 am

Sullivan is, of course, fully aware that there are plenty of crackpots out there who have scientific proof–not speculation, mind you, but scientific proof–that gay men are, by nature, pedophilic. Sure, the so-called mainstream has proven them to be utterly wrong on all counts, but that just means they’re being SILENCED! by the forces of political correctness who fear science when it doesn’t suit their ideology.

My hunch is that Sullivan does not regularly “engage” these folks “on the merits.” Anybody have any evidence to the contrary?

27

rilkefan 11.20.07 at 12:10 am

“Brett – you have exceeded your one-comment-a-day – I have deleted those in excess of the limit.”

Is this a joke?

28

Jack Fear 11.20.07 at 12:11 am

Who needs it? As Andrew would apparently have us believe, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence…

29

terence 11.20.07 at 12:23 am

anthroporphism
Wha?

John, can you help an under-sophisticated Kiwi out? What’s an anthroporphism? It’s not an attempt to anthropomorphasise that phizzles out half way is it?

30

mq 11.20.07 at 12:39 am

27: unfortunately not.

31

roger 11.20.07 at 12:47 am

I would love to see someone like Saletan, under, say, the influence of sodium pentathal, just break through the contrarian excuse and give it up; “I’ve always thought that white guys are superior to blacks, and I’m happy, now, to cherrypick some data that seems to confirm my belief.” It would be true contrarianism. And if he is put out the door for violating the code that requires that one drapes ones racism in merely contravening liberal taboos, he could always find a place writing for the Washington Times, which would elevate him, inevitably, into a post at the Heritage foundation and op ed space on the Washington Post, finally. But no – though Saletan does want to take his racism to the prom, he also wants everybody to know that this is sort of a joke, and that a guy like him could never, ever be suspected of harboring thoughts about white superiority until they were thrust upon him by his objective study of IQ data.
What a miserable, wretched putz. He doesn’t even have the courage of his bigotries. Although surely we do have an inside glimpse of the hiring atmosphere at Slate. Hmm, how many black writers do I see…

32

Crystal 11.20.07 at 1:00 am

@22: Jane Eyre has quite a few references to phrenology, which was the hip and trendy pseudo-science of Charlotte Bronte’s day. Now, of course, we look back and laugh that people actually believed that the bumps on your head indicated your innermost character.

I wonder if our 22nd century descendants are going to shake their own heads in wonder that people believed such things as “IQ” and “race,” let alone “racial variations in IQ?”

33

rilkefan 11.20.07 at 1:17 am

Could I get a confirmation from the management about 25, or a link to an announcement of the policy in question?

34

tps12 11.20.07 at 2:03 am

14:

Actually, “data” is a mass noun in English

ITYM that “data” are a mass noun in English.

35

Jamie 11.20.07 at 2:10 am

New Oxford American Dictionary

USAGE Data was originally the plural of the Latin word: datum, ‘something (e.g., a piece of information) given.’ Data is now used as a singular where it means ‘information’: | this data was prepared for the conference. It is used as a plural in technical contexts and when the collection of bits of information is stressed: | all recent data on hurricanes are being compared. Avoid | datas and | datae, which are false plurals, neither English nor Latin.

36

Michael Bérubé 11.20.07 at 2:59 am

Saletan’s deliberately missing the point, right? I mean, everybody knows it’s not head size that matters. It’s the shape and placement of the lumps.

37

Barry 11.20.07 at 3:05 am

Posted by Brett Bellmore: “If you could actually gin up some proof, like luminosity readings off the nose of a levitating reindeer, he’d be a fool NOT to publish it. You appear to be confused about who is demonstrating a fear of science here.”

Over on Science Blogs, a blogger named Orac (‘Respectful Insolence’) recounted dealing with Holocaust deniers, from way back in his med school days. He stumbled on a conversation about starvation/malnutrition in concentration camps, and thought that he’d help the debaters out with some actual medical knowledge. He actually thought that they were ignorant, and that information would change their minds.

He finally came to the conclusion that there were two sorts of Holocaust deniers – those who were lying, and a small minority who actually thought that the Holocaust did not happen – and who wished that it had. I.e., all Holocaust denial is anti-semitic – full stop.

In a similar vein, all Bell Curvism on the internet is racism, except for that which is sexism – end of story. There *might* be a few honest, non-ignorant researchers out there, but not enough to matter.

38

Barry 11.20.07 at 3:08 am

Henry: “Brett – you have exceeded your one-comment-a-day – I have deleted those in excess of the limit.”

Posted by rilkefan: “Is this a joke?”

Are you going to try to claim that you haven’t noticed that Brett loves this sort of thread, and will kudzu the whole thing up like a zombie Hernstein?

39

The Data 11.20.07 at 3:13 am

While we’re at it, we also demand a shorter working week and proper health benefits.

40

noen 11.20.07 at 3:54 am

@ #4
“weren’t IQ tests designed to help identify areas in which young people have trouble learning?”

It has been a while but, if memory serves the answer is no. IQ tests were designed, though certainly used, to justify racism. The military didn’t want blacks and whites mixing and so they used various IQ and personality tests as a pretext to keeping different racial groups separated. And again, if I recall correctly, when the tests proved insufficiently useful for this purpose they simply changed the questions until they did.

I believe this is from S.J. Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” but I don’t have it with me and I haven’t checked to be sure. I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

41

The Navigator 11.20.07 at 4:22 am

Are you going to try to claim that you haven’t noticed that Brett loves this sort of thread, and will kudzu the whole thing up like a zombie Hernstein?
Yes, I’ll make that claim: I haven’t noticed it. I’ve noticed him making conservative comments, often ones that I disagreed with, but I haven’t noticed him kudzuing up whole threads. Surely being persistently conservative is not grounds for quasi-banning in CT threads. I’d be awfully disappointed in the management if it were – hopefully there’s more to it than that. Hell, Yglesias lets Steve Sailer post freely, and his blog carries on just fine.

42

Crystal 11.20.07 at 4:40 am

The IQ test was invented by Alfred Binet in France, 1904, solely to identify children who might need special education. Binet never intended it as a general-purpose ranking device.

@ Uncle Kvetch, 26: I surmise that Sullivan thinks he’s some kind of unique and special gay snowflake and no-one is going to think he’s a pedophile. Just like Ann “Women shouldn’t be allowed to vote” Coulter is convinced that she, alone of all her sex, will keep her voting rights after the great right-wing takeover. And Clarence Thomas thinks no-one ever refers to him with that “n” word.

43

Matt Weiner 11.20.07 at 5:47 am

Hell, Yglesias lets Steve Sailer post freely, and his blog carries on just fine.

Yeah, but his comment threads are often disastrous, especially when Steve Sailer carpet-bombs them.

44

dsquared 11.20.07 at 7:23 am

Did you know that Irish really are stupider? See Table 1. They score 11 points lower than the British (not English, British). That is the same difference between Hong Kong and Britain which, supposedly, has a genetic origin

the question of the genetic differences between the Irish and the English was a live issue in (English) science up until surprisingly recently. I’m pretty sure I remember Francis Galton having a few opinions on it. Learned opinion was divided between those who believed that the Irish were an intermediate race between Europeans and Negroes, versus those who believed that the Irish were intrinsically created equal to the English but had degenerated over time due to the potatoes they ate. The really frightening thing is that I’m not making this up (although the author of the biography of Carlyle that I read it in might have been, cos I haven’t seen this sourced anywhere else).

45

djw 11.20.07 at 7:59 am

Sailer’s more surreal than Bellmore, and therefore more entertaining.

46

alphie 11.20.07 at 8:28 am

But Sullivan is a good conservative.

Shouldn’t we ignore his racism?

47

Brett Bellmore 11.20.07 at 11:42 am

1. Roger, the reason I object to ridicule as a tool of persuasion is not because it isn’t effective; It is. I object to it because it’s effectiveness is in no way a function of whether or not the views being ridiculed are true, only whether the person employing it is witty. We are in a search for truth here, aren’t we? Why, then, would we want to use tools which can be used to persuade people of untruth?

2. Rilkefan, Navigator, when I comment over at Matt’s place, the other commentors tend to respond civilly, or at least sanely. For some obscure reason, the same degree of civil disagreement here results in the liberal commentors descending into a spasm of ad homieums and profanity. Since this is not what Henry intends, (What I think he does intend I won’t venture to guess, beyond observing that it clearly doesn’t involve much in the way of dissent.) and since banishing me is clearly easier than a wholesale replacement of his visitors, he’s declared that I can only comment once a day on his threads. I suppose I should be glad that he did extend me that once a day. (This is Tuesday’s.)

3. Since this thread really brings up nothing novel, rather than attempting to encapsulate my thoughts on it, I just refer you all to my comments on earlier “race and IQ” threads. Assuming Henry didn’t go back and delete those, too… He hadn’t as of yesterday.

Suffice to say, there are valid attacks on the views Sullivan is expressing. They tend to get lost in the chaff here, I think, since there’s not much in the way of argument permitted to winnow them.

48

bjk 11.20.07 at 11:44 am

All the smart people left Ireland, that’s why it’s low.

49

Ray 11.20.07 at 1:17 pm

Irish people are too smart to take IQ tests seriously, so we give joke answers.

50

Barry 11.20.07 at 1:33 pm

The Navigator: “Hell, Yglesias lets Steve Sailer post freely, and his blog carries on just fine.”

Posted by Matt Weiner: “Yeah, but his comment threads are often disastrous, especially when Steve Sailer carpet-bombs them.”

Sailer doesn’t carpet-bomb anywhere near like Brett.

Navigator, if you haven’t noticed the effect of Brett – well, then, you probably believe ‘The Bell Curve’.

51

Kevin Donoghue 11.20.07 at 2:31 pm

Ray: Irish people are too smart to take IQ tests seriously, so we give joke answers.

This theory neatly ties in with the claim that Irish Protestants are a humourless lot (hence the term “sourfaces”). They supply the expected answers and score better than the Catholic majority. So both the Irish/White disparity and the Catholic/Protestant disparity are explained.

Mind you I’m not saying I agree with either the stereotype or the theory; only that it appeals to my warped sense of humour.

52

Mrs Tilton 11.20.07 at 2:42 pm

Kevin, I realise that you’re joking, but you did notice that Ray wrote “Irish people”, not “Irish catholics”? They’re not synonyms.

53

Matt Weiner 11.20.07 at 2:44 pm

Sailer doesn’t carpet-bomb anywhere near like Brett.

Barry, that’s just not true — check this thread.

54

Cranky Observer 11.20.07 at 3:00 pm

This comment by John H. Morrison over at Brad deLong’s site was interesting:

—– I hope that this exercise illustrates how unlikely it is that IQ or IQ variability has actually been shown to be genetic. Imagine creating a “musicality quantity” (MQ) that would measure the inherent musicality of an individual independent of his upbringing.

Consider a set of quintuplets (five identical twins) raised in five different ways. Twin one starts at age two on the violin or piano with the Suzuki Method, and music of all types infests her upbringing.

Twin two is surrounded by CDs of music from her birth. At age six or seven, she begins piano lessons which continue through her childhood and youth.

Twin three takes ordinary music classes in elementary school, and begins band in fifth grade on clarinet.

Twin four grows up listening to various forms of popular music. She sometimes dances socially, and parties quite a bit in her teens.

Twin five grows up in a cave, with virtually no exposure to the outside world.

Now, give the five twins at age fifteen the test that measures their respective MQs. Up to statistical fluctuations, all their MQs should be the same.

Imagine trying to come up with such a test. It would have to be musical and independent of the environment of a person’s upbringing — a contradictory pair of requirements. Most likely, the test would try to estimate the subject’s background and discount for that. Then verifying the MQ test would be a project of monstrous proportions.

The problem is that intelligence is at least as nebulous a thing as musicality. Producing and verifying an IQ test is at least as difficult as producing and verifying the hypothetical MQ test. It would have to account for differences in education and family attitudes towards being smart, to begin with. —–

55

Cranky Observer 11.20.07 at 3:01 pm

Sorry – preview and final formatting were not the same. Everything up to the second —– is a quote from the John M. Morrison.

Cranky

56

roger 11.20.07 at 3:56 pm

Brett, although it is pleasant to think we are like the guys on the X files, searching for the truth that is out there, I have my doubts that the ‘truth’, here, functions so simply. In fact, in the discussion of the racial determination of I.Q., two themes almost always emerge. One, the explicit theme, is the “you can’t take the truth” theme. Thus, the only reason the evidence just staring before us that blacks are inferior intellectually is that one is a liberal. A liberal creationist type. And the bringer of this truth is violating a liberal taboo. Which implies not that the truth is out there, but that the truth is hidden, and that the attitude of the bringer of truth is one of unparalleled bravery. The implicit theme is that though we can talk about the ideology and prejudices of the person, the liberal, who denies the truth, we can never question the ideology or the motives of the person who brings the truth to us. Because, apriori, a member in good standing of the media elite like Sullivan or Saletan can’t, just can’t, be motivated by bigotry. Their standing shows, in itself, their objectivity – for the system they have arisen in has gloriously and valiantly done the most it could to combat bigotry in the country, even though, of course, the bigots were and are right and blacks are inferior.

Now, I find those two themes to be not only untrue, as the hypothesis that whales are fishes is untrue, but also ridiculous, as the hypothesis that whales are big birds is ridiculous. And ridicule thus seems to be the best response to it.

57

Lee A. Arnold 11.20.07 at 4:59 pm

It is shoddy stuff. Considering that Sullivan suggests we should be “preparing for the possibility,” it should be repudiated. IQ is related to intellectual analysis, but it isn’t related to synthetic creative emergence, which is the other half of intellectual ability although it can’t be scored. We have all met high IQ’s who are unable to formulate useful new concepts, for example. We know that there are plenty of high IQ’s who end up panhandling in college towns. We know that IQ appears to be unrelated to whether people have happy lives, within the usual IQ ranges. And IQ reveals nothing of other forms of knowing, so the use of “IQ” as synonymous with the word “intelligence,” as Sullivan repeats, should be ended.

We know that IQ scores can change in a few generations, so any heritable component is hardly the last word. We know that educational achievement is most strongly correlated to measures of surrounding social capital, and so it wouldn’t be a surprise if IQ achievement is also related to social capital measures extended over a few generations or more.

BUT THE BIGGEST PROBLEM OF THIS DEBATE IS ITS POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN. I think schoolkids should be dealt with individually. I don’t follow the intelligence debate because at the present primitive stage of neuroscience, I don’t know what we would change if it were true. So I find Sullivan’s “preparing for the possibility” to be fatuous, and more than a little dangerous. Because if this debate is repeated in the presence of children of any race, it would be a very bad thing, for themselves and for their interactions with each other.

We know that no little kids read Andrew Sullivan, but there must be lots of self-important adults who do, and we see even in Crooked Timber’s comment threads people who are willing to stupidly repeat and promulgate falsehoods. Here we have a misunderstanding of intelligence which if publicized will directly effect the self-image and performance of children. This is an evil. If Sullivan has been returning to this topic he should stop it, at once and for all.

I’m not a high IQ, but I know a lot of people who are very high indeed, and as far as I know, none of them pay any attention to this debate. None of them read Sullivan either. There’s my ad hominem.

58

mq 11.20.07 at 5:51 pm

Comment #54 gets to the fundamental set of intellectual problems behind the very idea of “IQ”. It’s reifying some intellectual capacity like it’s a physical thing, when in fact intelligence is the product of a complex interaction between individual capacities, individual tastes, collective culture, and opportunities in the surrounding environment.

At best, it’s a tool for short-term prediction of individual performance in certain tasks. The equivalent for crankyobservers “MQ” would be an audition playing a musical instrument.

59

fardels bear 11.20.07 at 7:15 pm

To folly up on barry’s comment at #37. There are well documented links between the community of Holocaust Deniers and at least some scientists who argue for scientific racism. For example, the late Glayde Whitney, past president of the Behavioral Genetics Association. Chapter 1 of SCIENCE FOR SEGREGATION (NYU Press, 2005)

http://comm.colorado.edu/jjackson/chapt1.pdf

Note the echoes of Sullivan’s own conspiracy rhetoric.

60

Steve LaBonne 11.20.07 at 7:20 pm

“Respectable” racists like Sullivan and Saletan will clutch at any straw that seems to offer the possibility of validating their racism, even when it comes from the very unrespectable likes of Rushton. In other news, dog bites man. Yawn.

61

Kevin Donoghue 11.20.07 at 7:30 pm

Kevin, I realise that you’re joking, but you did notice that Ray wrote “Irish people”, not “Irish catholics”? They’re not synonyms.

Quite so, Mrs T. Obviously I am extending Ray’s theory in a way he might not endorse. Moreover I have no data showing that the propensity to take the mickey out of psychologists who come bearing psychometric kits correlates with religious affiliation. But would Sir Cyril Burt have let that stop him?

62

Rickm 11.20.07 at 8:01 pm

Now Ross Douthat is on it

63

Barry 11.20.07 at 8:33 pm

Me: “Sailer doesn’t carpet-bomb anywhere near like Brett.”

Posted by Matt Weiner: “Barry, that’s just not true—check this thread.”

Day-am. I’d seen some overposting by Steve, but I didn’t recall that one. And I read Yglesias’ blog.

64

Barry 11.20.07 at 8:38 pm

Re: #54 by Cranky Observer – IIRC, when orchestras went to blind auditions, women suddenly became fully competitive; thier success rate sky-rocketed. Demonstrating that it was, indeed, just sexism.

And (again, IIRC), musical ability and mathematical ability are supposed to be linked.

This is why I’ve come to the conclusion that there are *no honest, informed Bell Curvists* – because we can throw a vast quantity of contrary data at their thesis (group-level, changes in time, national and international, down to many replicable controlled experiments).

And in the end, they shrug off the data like a duck shrugging off water, and continue paddling their way, peddling their sh*t.

65

roger 11.20.07 at 9:06 pm

Douthat, at least, shows what he made on the analogies part of his I.Q. test in his conclusion. Apparently, the left doesn’t like science that goes against the left and the right doesn’t like science that goes against the right. So the left hates business and loves the global warming theory, and the right loves business and hates the global warming theory. And the left loves blacks and hates I.Q science, and the right, uh, er, loves the truth! It is the truth and nothing but the truth, your honor!
What a hilarious bunch of yahoos, with their fake analogies about lactose tolerance – I’ve noticed this is the new, fashionable way to try to slip Lamarckian acquired traits into the Darwinian framework, quietly avoiding the part about random mutations – and their nutty notion that the left (which is otherwise all P.C. and about identity) is actually cosmopolitan in the extreme (it is all about how there aren’t races at all). As if your average lefty is saying, hey, anyone can get sickle cell anemia.
How did the right get so… dumb? A question for genetics, I suppose.

66

Mrs Tilton 11.20.07 at 11:39 pm

Kevin @62,

Moreover I have no data showing that the propensity to take the mickey out of psychologists who come bearing psychometric kits correlates with religious affiliation. But would Sir Cyril Burt have let that stop him?

Ah, well now I am happy to kick Sir Cyril with any foot of your choosing.

67

noen 11.21.07 at 12:16 am

“As if your average lefty is saying, hey, anyone can get sickle cell anemia.
How did the right get so… dumb? A question for genetics, I suppose.”

Through willful ignorance.

Sickle Cell Disease
“Is sickle cell a “black” disease? No. Contrary to popular perception, the gene variant that causes sickle cell disease evolved as a result of its surprising upside – malaria resistance. In the malaria belt regions of Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe and South Asia, this gene variant flourished because the benefits of malaria resistance outweighed the negative impact of sickle cell disease.”

68

alex 11.21.07 at 4:24 am

Linking to Shalizi’s post does not actually constitute a rebuttal to Sullivan, since Sullivan bases his statements on data not considered by Shalizi, namely the correlations between head-size and performance on IQ tests.

Some commenters have called into question the reputability of J.P. Rushton, who published some papers on these correlations. I want to point out it isn’t just J.P. Rushton publishing correlations between head-size and intelligence – see here, here, and here for examples of peer-reviewed research by others with the same punchline.

69

alex 11.21.07 at 4:41 am

…continuing my point: I find the counterargument of this post to be quite lacking. If I had to reply to Sullivan and Saletan, I’d say:

Yes, if there was a link between brain size and performance on a test, I’d be forced to concede that this test at least in part measures something fundamental about the brain. However, this link is far from established: for example these two papers dispute it, and this one casts doubts on the causation mechanism. Sullivan & Saletan present only one side of the story, neglecting to mention criticisms and counterexamples. What does their eagerness to believe say about them?

70

Matt Weiner 11.21.07 at 1:29 pm

the same punchline.

They don’t mention race, do they? The Abiola Lapite post I linked quoted Cernovsky criticizing Rushton specifically on the brain size-race link:

Rushton implied that Beals et al. presented large-scale evidence for racial inferiority of the Blacks with respect to cranial size. De facto, extensive statistical analyses by Beals et al. showed that cranial size varies primarily with climatic zones (e.g., distance from the equator), not race. According to Beals et al., the correlations of brain size to race are spurious: smaller crania are found in warmer climates, irrespective of race.

And, although Rushton misleadingly reported Tobias’s (1970) and Herskovits’ s (1930) surveys of cranial data as confirming his theory, their data are more consistent with the model presented by Beals et al. As already mentioned, in their reviews, cranial size and number of excess neurons of North American Blacks compared favorably to those of Caucasoids. It is only by pooling their data with data for Negroids from countries in hot climatic zones (notorious for famine and infant malnutrition) that Rushton obtained an illusory support for his postulates.

So even if the papers you link are right, reliance on Rushton is still a bad idea.

Also, I don’t think it follows that if there’s a link between brain size and performance on a test, that the test measures something fundamental about the brain — at least not something fundamental about intelligence.

71

Matt Weiner 11.21.07 at 1:30 pm

Paragraph beginning and, although…. should be in italics. Preview LIES!

72

alex 11.21.07 at 10:44 pm

Also, I don’t think it follows that if there’s a link between brain size and performance on a test, that the test measures something fundamental about the brain—at least not something fundamental about intelligence.

I don’t agree. Of course, it depends on what you mean by “intelligence.” This is hypothetical, but – if brain size were correlated with scores on a test – and moreover, this correlation existed even when you narrowed your study to people raised in the same environment, for example, siblings – then the simplest explanation would be to posit the existence of some quality related to brain function which explains the ability of people to solve the sort of problems found on that test efficiently. And furthermore, we’d have to conclude that this test is a measure of that quantity.

Now if the test contained a collection of logical, verbal, spatial, mathematical puzzles, then that would bring us pretty close to what people normally mean when they say “intelligence.”

Comments on this entry are closed.