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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 James Thompson ArchiveBlogview
The loathsome truth about psychology textbooks
I have a secret hope that one day one of my readers will write a psychology textbook, and that intelligence will be mentioned in an up-to-date and accurate manner. Years ago, when reading a new UK textbook that took an apologetic and partial view of racial differences in intelligence I planned to look at the... Read More
Here are two presentations from the London Conference on Intelligence in May. They are in what I would call the proper format, in that both the speaker and the slides are visible, and the sound is on throughout. Almost like being there. The conference is speakers only, so the audience is about 24 persons, hence... Read More
If solving problems doesn’t motivate you, what does?
One of the joys of attending a conference on intelligence, such as ISIR2017, is hearing people report the results of their detailed investigations into overblown claims in science reporting that one had oneself thought questionable. Will the proper researcher come to the same conclusions as you had in your own preliminary reactions? Years ago I... Read More
Things move fast here. No sooner do I give you the brief description of my visit to see the Big Brain than I can announce the movie of the same. Here is the Big Brain film, showing how it was put together, and what it is like to use. http://mcin-cnim.ca/research/bigbrain/ Here is the link to... Read More
Finding the conference location was difficul. The best and most detailed instruction from conference staff was that it was “up the hill”. The hotel porter was more helpful. He said it was up the hill. He also gave me a road name, so I walked up the hill on that road, wondering what the Montreal... Read More
Strange place, Montreal. Many people persist in speaking French, even when there is absolutely no need to do so. They have even put it on their public signs. The repetition of banalities in two languages merely drives home the greater power and economy of the English language. Still, the buildings seem solid enough, and the... Read More
As loyal readers will know, getting to conferences is an intellectual challenge for me. Having worked out where and when they are to take place, the problems multiply. Travel must be arranged for both before and after the conference dates, which is difficult when the venue is in a different time zone, and even more... Read More
1.6% to 2.4%
There are two main approaches to understanding the evolution of intelligence. A) Study the differences in intelligence between genetic groups. B) Study the differences in intelligence within a genetic group. Approach A is currently not being funded, as far as I know, but please let me know if there are studies I should be commenting... Read More
I have always assumed that the Ancients were wiser than us, but I admit that my evaluation is subject to survivor bias: the best of their thinking has been passed on to us, the mediocre rest forgotten. The Ancients were not all at the level of Socrates, they also included the dullards that killed him.... Read More
Please retweet Yesterday I looked at a graph showing the number of users for the main social media, and was slightly hurt to see Twitter languishing towards the end of the pack. (Updated figures put Facebook above 2 billion). I enjoy Twitter, since it alerts me to what is being published and debated in my... Read More
Although the Bard warned against finding the mind’s construction in the face, we are apt to try. Can facial features show us the power of the brain behind the mask? Lee et al. (2017) think so. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3c4TxciNeJZTGpEdkJBbnVmNFE Unlike minor Scottish nobility planning regicide, they have made their judgments using the medium of facial photographs of... Read More
Ron has re-posted his July 2012 post on Lynn and Vanhanen, together with all the comments that it raised, and says: “It provoked an enormous outpouring of responses all across the Internet, perhaps 99% of those hostile, often intensely so, but after over a dozen follow-up columns and responses, I believe I was proven correct... Read More
Chanda Chisala and I post about each other so often that we should be employing the same agent. Properly managed, I might finally get onto a lecture tour circuit somewhere. The Shetlands, perhaps. Below is the post to which I am referring. http://www.unz.com/article/will-scrabble-have-the-last-word-on-the-iq-debate/ My reply to Chisala’s post has hardly been prompt: one source of... Read More
The official temperature in London is 31C. This is the measure taken properly, in the shade, as prudence and good methodology requires. In actual fact, the temperature in the sunshine is 36C, and that is what strikes the skin of any Londoner, but that is the least of our problems. Last night, admittedly a sultry... Read More
A fire in a tower block in London spread to burn out the whole 27 storey building, with large loss of life, possibly almost 100 dead. The probable cause of the fire was said to be a faulty refrigerator in a 4th floor flat, followed by an astoundingly quick spread of the flames, involving recently... Read More
It already seems apparent that the Labour campaign depended on the enthusiasm and commitment of its supporters, and that prior to the election the Labour party had succeeded in getting many new members, most of them probably of university age. They formed an activist cadre out of all proportion to their numbers, even though they... Read More
Although it is too early for a very detailed analysis of which groups voted which way in the UK election, here is a quick overview of my impressions of the campaign. The election was called because the omens seemed favourable: the Conservatives were well ahead in the polls. Their cover story about the need for... Read More
We are facing a French dilemma: Piffer has an approach to the genetics of racial differences in intelligence which seems to work in practice, but should not work in theory. His technique appears to run against the general trend of genetic research, in that he appears to be getting good results predicting group differences in... Read More
Dear Prof Posthuma, Thank you for your comments. These comments are not new, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, it works to my advantage because over the years I have had the opportunity to develop ways to rebut these criticisms. One of the ways of answering your criticisms, and the one which... Read More
As you know, this blog moves at internet speed, not the glacial creep imposed by academic publishers, with their lucrative frustration of intellectual discourse. No sooner do I write about the work of Piffer, and his use of the new findings of Sniekers et al. (2017) than a senior author on that latter paper, Prof... Read More
Polygenic scores cannot predict a person's IQ, but can they tell a genius apart from the crowd?
A day is a long time in genetics research. Yesterday I made the following prediction about the method that David Piffer has used to estimate racial intelligence: Prediction: we will need very many more SNPs before we can attempt predictions of individual IQs across different races at better than a correlation of r=0.7 Having made... Read More
Jim Flynn once observed that no-one was funding research into the genetics of racial differences in intelligence because they feared they would find something. Here is my psychologist’s summary of where we are as regards the genetics of intelligence in general: 10%. That is to say, by poking about in the genetic code researchers can... Read More
I started my career at Guy’s Hospital, and at lunchtimes walked around Borough High Street, and the market next to Southwark Cathedral, scene of last night’s attack. I used to live down the road. At that time it was a working class district, and now it is an upmarket place, a cool place for evening... Read More
As part of a plan to relieve you from too much reading, here is another video to watch over the weekend, this time about the difficulties of tracking immigrant outcomes and the reluctance in official quarters to examine whether outcomes are largely determined by intelligence. Differential immigrant performance: A matter of intelligence? Emil OW Kirkegaard... Read More
Underestimated associations
It is now commonplace to denounce any observed associations between groups and behaviours as being “stereotypes” with the strong implication that these preliminary impressions are dreadfully wrong, and malevolently so. However, these first impressions should be evaluated against objective measures, in which case they can be shown to over or under estimates of the association... Read More
My first experience with Raven’s Matrices was as a psychology student. We did the test as a group, and then the Alice Heim 5 test of high grade intelligence, and finally inexpertly attempted to give each other the Wechsler test of adult intelligence. As you will have noted, the concept of intelligence and the ways... Read More
After the slaughter of innocents, the ritual of abnegation. While parents pleaded for news about the pieces of their children, the citizens of Manchester met in a public show of solidarity, in an all faith meeting to show that “the bombers would not win”. We have plenty of experience of organizing those. Commendable, very Christian,... Read More
No sooner do I return from my own intelligence conference, about which more later, than I note, courtesy of another scholar, a fascinating new paper showing that 40% of the variance in IQ can be accounted for by a new measure of brain networks. This is strong stuff, so with a spinning head I tried... Read More
There is nothing like sex differences in intelligence to put you on the wrong side of half the population. The story so far is that the standard academic opinion on sex differences in intelligence is that there aren’t any, or that they are small, or that the few that exist counterbalance each other. Women are... Read More
My attitude to exercise was best summed up by cartoonist Paul Terry: However, I am not deaf to the cacophony of advisers recommending that people should keep active, particularly the over 50s. The notion seems to be that the elderly serve some undefined but useful purpose which could be prolonged by physical exertion. I find... Read More
Brain size and intelligence
Here is a very interesting paper on sex differences in brain size and intelligence, notable for linking people’s brain scans with their detailed intelligence test results. It has been accepted for publication in Intelligence. Sex differences in brain size and general intelligence (g) Dimitri van der Linden, Curtis S. Dunkel, Guy Madison Abstract Utilizing MRI... Read More
There was a time when boys played games of marbles following strict playground rules: contestants had to stand a prescribed distance away from the little pyramid of marbles, and chuck only marbles of the prescribed size. Rules ruled. Piaget was intrigued by the explanations children gave for moral judgements, and the playground is the arena... Read More
It is in the spirit of human intercourse, untrammelled by paywalls and anonymous peer reviews, to freely exchange ideas and reflect on life. In that light I reproduce here, for greater public attention, comment No 41 on my post "Intelligence and General Knowledge". Good books have been based on less. “This is true in my... Read More
It is a measure of the quality of British life that one of its longest running TV programs is “University Challenge”, a quiz show for university students. Yes, it has always been a minority interest, but it is a showcase of talent, an astounding example of what bright young people can get to know in... Read More
Estimating blogger productivity
This is not about baseball, but about blogging, but times are hard for some columnists, so I needed to get your attention. Steve Sailer has put up his March statistics (More records for iSteve, April 3) showing that last month his posts generated 19,707 comments containing a total of 1,485,295 words. By any standards, this... Read More
Lead poisoning reduces social mobility
There are still many people who believe that intelligence does not exist or that it cannot be measured, particularly if the summary result is given as a single figure. The argument seems to be that single figure cannot possibly represent their myriad abilities. Quite so. What are they to make of a recent finding by... Read More
I can claim to have been assaulted by micro-aggressions. I find myself profoundly hurt when people in my presence say “Intelligence – whatever that is”. They do it to vex me, which is beastly of them. Other aggressive behaviours include people in conversation denouncing anyone who holds a particular political opinion, without considering that I... Read More
Earth has not anything to show more foul
As these things go, it was not too bad. One idiot in a car murdered 3 people, with 7 more in a critical condition who may die, at least 40 with terrible injuries, and many more people traumatized. Crowds of tourists ran away from the place of slaughter at Westminster Bridge. Earth has not anything... Read More
It has been dryly observed that many people involved in the Northern Ireland peace process did so without having been terrorists first. Perversely, a terrorist who changes course when murder proves unfruitful as a sole strategy is seen as having made a greater contribution than those who were always whole-heartedly in favour of peaceful politics.... Read More
tsiname-tribe
Saturday is a relative slow day in my household, so it felt somewhat of a rebuke to read on the BBC that the Tsimané people have an ideal lifestyle, walking some 17,000 steps a day, as compared to the lethargic wealthy West, who aim for 10,000 daily steps but rarely take them. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39292389 Those of... Read More
eye-pupil
Despite being interested in intelligence, I am also on guard against judging the mind from the face (there's no art to find the mind's construction in the face) while probably doing just that all the time. I assume that I judge mental ability by conversations which go beyond pleasantries. Indeed, perhaps measuring how quickly people... Read More
blade-runner
Blade Runner had an impact on me, both as a film and because it was an introduction to the writings of Philip K Dick, whose whimsical work was based on wondering what it meant to be human. Are we as individuals merely constructions of fundamental genetic coding mechanisms, which create treasured but probably false memories... Read More
Although I cannot claim to be in the mainstream of contemporary culture, even I have heard of the Oscar error. I should immediately state that I have no specialist knowledge about Oscar ceremonies, because I have never watched one, though I have seen many brief highlights of acceptance speeches (a maudlin art form in their... Read More
Smart groups are (simply) groups of smart people.
Few things attract more attention in the business world than new ways of making groups work well. As any fool knows, groups are a pain. They argue, dither, drift off course, waste time and resources, and produce loads of rubbish. Worse, all those participants draw salaries, so treasure is wasted. Surely, bosses think, any technique... Read More
Personally, after reading the above description, I have Linda in my mind’s eye, and I can just see her lecturing me on what sort of yoghurt I should eat. If I ever met her, I would not dream of admitting that I drive a diesel car, and that I have very recently taken up sketching... Read More
Add fertilizer and yields are boosted, up to a plateau; ignore the quality of the seed and yields slowly decline.
Everyone knows about the Flynn Effect, but very few about the Woodley Effect. When Woodley was working on his paper in 2013 “Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time” I wrote to Charles Murray about his findings, and in his... Read More
cognitive-capitalism-sinc-800-bc
It is good that people are discussing IQ. Fred Reed’s post has drawn many comments, too many for me to answer individually. Here I outline the main heads of his argument as I see them, and some of the relevant research. My summary of Reed’s post is: Intelligence is important; intelligence research is important and... Read More
  Steve Sailer posted an item on Freud, and my short comment in reply grew too long, so here it is as a very brief post. Here are some quick reflections. I think that commentator Discordiax is right that the First World War is part of the explanation for the rise of Freudianism. "Thoughts for... Read More
No story about the brain is simple; no one study is definitive; and it takes many years to sort out conflicting and inconsistent findings and establish a weight of evidence. It is a fundamental truth that any researcher who can put a person in a scanner can publish a paper. Any researcher able to talk... Read More
  I have never played Scrabble. I may have tried once, but certainly gave up very quickly, before even finishing the game. I like words, but I don’t particularly like games. I can’t see the point of Scrabble, and would prefer to read a book, in which the words are assembled to convey meaning. Unscrabble.... Read More
James Thompson
About James Thompson

James Thompson has lectured in Psychology at the University of London all his working life. His first publication and conference presentation was a critique of Jensen’s 1969 paper, with Arthur Jensen in the audience. He also taught Arthur how to use an English public telephone. Many topics have taken up his attention since then, but mostly he comments on intelligence research.