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As is my usual custom, I wrote to the authors whose work I had commented upon in my previous post: I asked John Protzko how long the effects of intelligence boosting interventions lasted. He said that he thought this “fadeout” effect was likely to happen somewhere between 3 and 5 years after the intervention had... Read More
Stay even longer at school?
Although it is popular for people to claim that they don’t know what intelligence is, most people show an interest in boosting their intelligence. Funny, that. These schemes come around every few years: getting babies in the womb to listen to Mozart, taking vitamins and concentration enhancing drugs, counting backwards in the N back procedure:... Read More
A UK charity, The Sutton Trust, has urged universities to take in students with grades which are two levels below the usual entry requirements, arguing that some students are capable of doing well at university, but have low scholastic attainments because of environmental circumstances: being poor, being at a bad school, and having to look... Read More
Test results of 550,492 individuals in 123 countries
Few subjects arouse as much ire as national IQs. Questions are asked about the cultural appropriateness of the tests, whether they have sufficient scope to assess the different talents of racial and cultural groups, the representativeness and size of the samples, and even whether those results are reported correctly. National scholastic achievements, on the other... Read More
Though she is not a psychometrician, I was reminded of Nina Simone’s song by a recent paper on identifying gifted children, which found that an IQ test was better than the standard teacher referral systems at detecting bright black and hispanic kids. Good news I thought, and yet another vindication of intelligence testing. However, before... Read More
Some immigrants don’t contribute much: locals blamed.
Commenting on the findings shown on the Government website, the Prime Minister said: “What this audit shows is there isn't anywhere to hide. That's not just for Government, it's for society as a whole. Britain has come a long way in promoting equality and opportunity but what the data we've published today shows is that... Read More
Sex differences are in the news. A male Google employee reviewed some of the literature on the topic in the context of his workplace practices, and got sacked. A book questioning the role of testosterone in sex differences, and more generally the veracity of innate biological sex differences, got the Royal Society Science Book prize,... Read More
If people were crops, where would they be best planted? Like many people, I have read some books which have led me astray. They were plausible, and although I could see errors in them, I continued reading so as to learn new things. I am willing to accept that authors can be wrong about some... Read More
The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific society, and is held in high regard. To be a Fellow of that society is a great accomplishment. I am glad to have friends who have achieved this status, including one of the few couples who are both Fellows. So, it is a considerable surprise to learn... Read More
Optimal prediction to the rescue.
The “missing heritability” problem: current genetic analysis cannot explain as much variance as that suggested by population heritability estimates. This has been a cue for “Down with twin studies” arguments, in which those of dramatic inclinations have chosen to imagine that heritability estimates were thereby disproved. Not so. I was never particularly worried about this... Read More
Longitudinal studies are a mixed blessing for any up-and-coming researcher. You have to wait so long that the world seems to pass you by, and when you finally publish, your results are often drowned out by more fashionable controversies. Worse, you might die before you actually get any interesting results. Yet, if you can last... Read More
In my last post “Even more genes for intelligence”, I alluded to the mysterious Hsu Boundary, and I encourage you to use this phrase as often as possible. Why should other researchers have a monopoly of jargon? The phrase should help you impress friends, and also to curtail tedious conversations with persons who have limited... Read More
The intelligence gene hunters have been stepping up their activities, and keep coming back with more trophies. Danielle Posthuma and colleagues are at it again, studying very large samples and finding further novel genes which load on brain tissues. I hope someone somewhere is keeping track of the overall picture, perhaps in a control room... Read More
In describing the Kaplan-Meier survival graphs in "Vita Brevis, Dignitatis Inutilis" I correctly described the findings in the Iveson et al. paper, but then went a step too far in equating a decrease in mortality risk with an identical increase in lifespan. I said: The second sentence should have read “So, at IQ 115 your... Read More
As if in a dream, I found the house. The winding path was overgrown, and the twisted, almost horizontal, vine trunks rose gradually to announce a sudden wall with a small door to a kitchen: a transition from messy overshadowing leaves to white-domed domesticity. From there, like servants, we entered the grander spaces. Every room... Read More
If bright people live longer, is it because of the good things that social status provides? This question may appear to be very hard to answer, because one thing leads to another, and bright people are clever enough to build themselves agreeable places in which to live. One approach is to “control” for this, on... Read More
Don't talk about the war
I don’t watch many movies, but made an exception for Dunkirk because it was touted as giving centrality to the experiences of those who were there, rather than the more usual mixture of military strategy, tactical skirmishes, and a few personal stories. The actual retreat was a complicated matter, from 28 May to 4 June... Read More
I doubt that having women per se in a business confers any advantage over and above having bright and diligent men and women chosen on the basis of their abilities. How would one test this this? Observational studies would be a start, looking to see whether the proportions of the sexes in different businesses, and... Read More
In my last post I said: I had no idea that my thesis would receive instant support the following day in a paper which begins with a stirring paragraph, worth quoting in full: Since its discovery in 1904, hundreds of studies have replicated the finding that around 40% of the variance in people’s test scores... Read More
My impression of Damore’s Google Memo is that it is a thoughtful and well-considered personal opinion about workplace differences in abilities and attitudes. The tone is reserved, measured, and reasonable, avoiding sweeping claims. For example, it restricts its scope to the particular office in which he worked, and not Google as a whole. It is... Read More
The picture shows that working memory for simple repetition (Forwards Digit Span, Forward Corsi Blocks) has increased slightly over 43 years, whilst working memory for the more complicated task of items in reverse order (Backwards Digit Span, Backwards Corsi Blocks) has fallen slightly. Digit span is a bombshell of a test. Despite being very brief... Read More
Simply because the immediate reaction to the Google Memo concentrated on sex differences I gathered together some posts on sex differences, showing that the sexes differ somewhat in their abilities: not very much, but enough to make a difference at the extremes, and it is the extremes which make a difference to technology based societies,... Read More
Since Google does not employ me, it cannot sack me, but I admit to feeling a little left out of the news recently. In a late bid for notoriety I have put together a series of my previous statements about sex differences, and if you will kindly circulate these as widely as possible someone may... Read More
France is a territory which lies to the south of the English Channel, and was largely managed by the English Crown till it fell under the sway of the local inhabitants, with mixed results. It is a large domain, blessed with ample resources and noble prospects, of which its azure Mediterranean coast is a treasured... Read More
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
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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.