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 TeasersA. Beaujean@GNXP Blogview

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[pictured with Linda Gottfredson in 2004; photo courtesy of ISIR via Jonathan Wai]

For those who have not had the opportunity to hear Dr. Arthur Jensen in person, I have uploaded a brief interview he did circa 1971 with the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions 1. The interview is entitled A Matter of Genes and he gives his own (rather non-controversial, by today’s standards) positions w.r.t his 1969 HER and related articles.

Here is the link to the file (a ~ 30 minute, 80 MB .mov, which means you’ll either have to download Quicktime or do a conversion to a different format).

[1] If that link doesn’t work, you can get a feel for them by looking at their NPQ publication.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 01:55 PM

• Category: Science 
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Tom Cruise, who according to the IMDB dropped out of high school, gave what has to rank as one of the most assinine interviews on the Today show, well, today (6/24/2005). I’ll let you read it for yourself to get the full flavor, but here is a highlight:

CRUISE: No, you see. Here’s the problem. You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do……

aren’t there examples, and might not Brooke Shields be an example, of someone who benefited from one of those drugs?

all it does is mask the problem, Matt. And if you understand the history of it, it masks the problem. That’s what it does. That’s all it does. You’re not getting to the reason why. There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance. [empahsis added]

No? Hmmmm. That’s interesting. I wonder if he’s ever tested his hypothesis by taking a sample of articles in PubMed, much less taken biochemistry/psychopharmacology coursework from a non-Scientologist. Hell, I’d be impressed if he’d read any scholarly book on the history of psychology/psychiatry (the two intertwine quite a bit, for better or worse, in their beginnings). I’ll admit the fields have episodes in thier pasts that, by modern knowledge, aren’t anything to brag about, but isn’t that what science is about? Perpetually self-correcting, working to make a given field constantly evolve.

But, Cruise, like any other American, is entitled to his opinion—no matter how (un)informed. What concerns me, occasionally working with people w/ dopamine activiation issues, is having to deal with a client coming in, saying, “But Tom Cruise said…” Maybe its just me, but unless they’ve undergone significant training (e.g., ), I don’t think celebrities should dispense medical advice, no matter, um, how well they know a particular field’s history.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 06:42 PM

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For any who are interested in Intelligence/g research, I highly recommend looking at Dr. Linda Gottfredson’s web site. She has (almost) her entire collected works freely available to the public, even the to-be-published stuff. Of particular note are the following (recent) manuscripts:

1. Gottfredson, L. S. (in press). Implications of cognitive differences for schooling within diverse societies. In C. L. Frisby & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.), Comprehensive Handbook of Multicultural School Psychology. New York: Wiley.

[Nice, up-to-date review of group differences, with educational implications]

2. Gottfredson, L. S. (2004). Realities in desegregating gifted education. In D. Booth & J. C. Stanley (Eds.), In the eyes of the beholder: Critical issues for diversity in gifted education (pp. 139-155). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press

[She compares the Discrimination vs. the Distribution hypotheses; a very nice synthesis of the g-Big 5 [give or take a factor] core of much of differential psychology]

3. Gottfredson, L. S. (2003). Dissecting practical intelligence theory: Its claims and evidence. Intelligence, 31, 343-397.

[Gottfredson pretty much shred's Sternberg's Triarchic/Practical Intelligence theory]

–See also: Gottfredson, L. S. (2003). Practical intelligence. Pages 740-745 in R. Fernandez-Ballesteros (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychological assessment. London: Sage.

And my two particular favorites (because of my line of work):

Gottfredson, L. S. (2000). Equal potential: A Collective fraud. Society, 37, 19-28.

Gottfredson, L. S. (2005). Suppressing intelligence research: Hurting those we intend to help. In R. H. Wright & N. A. Cummings (Eds.), Destructive trends in mental health: The well-intentioned path to harm (pp. 155-186). New York: Taylor and Francis.

There are, of course, many others, and it is well worth an hour or two of your time to read a handful of the stuff there. If you read the whole site, I recommend going to your academic adviser and asking for some Independent Study credit hours, as you’ll hardly find a better on-line compendium of literature in this particular field.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 06:18 PM

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So goes a line in David Plotz’s new tome The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, and, curiously, that is what the reader (at least this one) comes away feeling after completing the book: a lot of effort exerted, but with a highly disappointing result.

I picked up the book as I had a day to give over to light reading, and a history of the so-called Nobel Prize Sperm Bank (actually Robert Klark Graham’s Repository for Germinal Choice) seemed like a good way to fill it; after all, I was curious to see what this curious cadre of noble sperm spawned. But instead of a group of interesting biographies, the reader gets a characterization of Graham (and his most infamous donor, William Shockley) as a eugenic, racist loons, whose ideas were the epitome of the word preposterous; a half-assed history of eugenics and the Repository, full of the obligatory -ist adjectives every other paragraph; a myriad of Plotz’s opinions about everything from artificial insemination to how parents expect too much from their children–many of which contradict each other; and, in between all this, a few plodding biographical sketches of the offspring and donors.

What struck me the most were two things. First, is Plotz’s inconsistencies: He insists that Graham’s ideas were coo-coo, yet later he concedes that they were good enough to forever shaped the sperm donation/artificial insemination industry. After all, when shopping for sperm today, who would purposefully go after semen from a man with a sub-average intelligence, sub-par health, and noticeable lack of morality. Perhaps serendipitous, but that is what Graham set out to do in the first place: set up a way to allow for positive eugenics; that is, trying to improve mankind’s intelligence, health, and morality via selective breeding. Moreover, Plotz implicitly condemns the thought of producing better babies (on purpose), yet later says that it is now common practice (although more at an individual level). Throughout the book, he leads the reader to believe that a kid’s environment is what causes him/her to be intelligent, personable, and successful, but at other points he admits that they are all influenced genetically. All in all, he takes no position (well, not for long anyway), and his ambivalence is tiresome.

In between his own diatribes, he gives a few glimpses of what the Repository kids are like: one is a reclusive “genius” in college, another a precocious, buoyant girl who is likely to enter in Marine Biology (following, ahem, her biological father’s footsteps, who was a chemist). One is a teenage father, although fervently struggling to go to school and take care of his family, while another (his 1/2 brother by the same Repository dad) is a “gifted” pianist/artist…..although remarkably similar having never seen, or heard of, each other and only having 1 parent in common. While only a handful of the 215, all in all, not too motley a crew, despite Plotz not-always-flattering picture of them.

But what really strikes me about the book is, despite Plotz implications to the contrary, the kids turned out to show the potency of genetics. Quantitative genetics would predict that if you take a group of sperm donors who are “above average”1 in intelligence, health, and morals, you would get, in return, a group of kids who, as a group, are above average. If a father’s trait, say, IQ, is 140 (not a far-fetched figure for the Repository) and assume that the heritability for IQ is .40 (an underestimate), then if the mom’s IQ is 85, then the average value for the kids will be 105; if the mom’s IQ is 120 (a more sensible estimate for the moms seeking Repository sperm), the average value for the kids is 112, and you can interpolate as high or low as you want.2 On average, the kids won’t attain the parents’ values, but they will be above average. While Plotz does his best to paint a dismal picture of the whole Repository, and tries to convince the reader that it is the kids’ environment that one should worry about the most, he can’t help but adding evidence to the genetic theory: “In short, they are certainly above average as a group, but the range is wide”…exactly what quantitative genetics would have predicted about genetically-influenced traits.

In sum, the book is little more than a collection of essays showing Plotz’s ambivalence and ostensible lack of knowledge in quantitative (behavior) genetics, with a few anecdotes about the Repository thrown in for good measure; in other words, read the local library’s copy.

[1] According to Plotz, even though Nobel laureates donated, none of their sperm fertilized an egg carried to term. The sperm that did was from other donors, who were sans Nobel.

[2] Y_hat = X_bar + (h^2){([Mom's Score + Dad's score]/2)-X_bar}, where X_bar is the population average.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 08:12 PM

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Teasdale & Owen and Sundet, Barlaugb, & Torjussen both have recent data from Northern Europe showing an end to the Lynn-Flynn Effect.

As a picture says 1000 words…..

Subdet et al got nationally representative (male) data from 1957 through 2002 on Norway’s military’s “IQ” instrument (r[WAIS FSIQ]=.73). If you use 1957 as the reference group, there was an initial LFE for all the subtests, but it stagnates around 1993 (Figure 1). If you make 1993 the reference, then Figures (think Raven’s Matrices) stagnates, while Vocabulary and Math decline.

Figure 1.

Figure 2

Teasdale and Owen, in a to-be-published article, showed a similar effect in Denmark using a similar population as the Sundet group. If you use 1959 as the reference group, then there is an initial increase in IQ (actually the Børge Priens Prøve; r[WAIS FSIQ]=.82) (See Figure 3), but when you make 1993 the reference group, there is a brief stagnation, followed by a drop that shows no recovery.

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

Now, lest we think this effect is only in Europe, I have data from the mathematics section of the American College
Basic Academic Subjects Examination
showing the same effect:

First, the Mathematics section was used becasue its substests load well on g:

CBASE Math Skill:

Geometrical calculations .711
2- & 3-Dimensional figures .687
Equations & Inequalities .658
Evaluating Expressions .636
Using Statistics .770
Properties & Notations .673
Practical Applications .736

Second, from 1996-2001, there has been the same reverse LFE, using Classical Test and Item Response Theory models:

Year Means SD CTT Standardized "True Score" Difference IRT Scaled Latent Trait Difference
1996 36.214 10.219    
2001 34.393 10.929 -.178 -.222

The interpretation of the data is still up-for-grabs; I am in the Burt (1952) camp in thinking that the whole LFE (although, obviously, he didn’t call it that) is just a psychometric artifact hiding a dysgenic trend1. Still no matter if Lynn et al. are correct and there really has been true rise, the effects appear to be leveling off or perhaps dissipating, at least in developed countries (in “still developing” countries the effect might still be going on).

Burt, C. L. (1952). Intelligence and fertility (2nd ed.). London: Eugenics Society.

1. As soon as my committee gives the thumbs up, I’ll give the details of how this is quite possible.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 12:32 AM

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Well, maybe not so noble……

If you search through the GNXP archives, you’ll see periodic references to how media, in general, negatively portray math/science (e.g., it is often the “evil villains” who are the geniuses). A colleague at the Clinic I work brought me a videotape of a show called Numb3rs to watch (at work). 1 After watching the part of the season he brought me, I have to say I am almost impressed.2 Instead of the evil-mad-scientist caricature, they have a very positive slant on math/science, with a genius-can-help-the-commoner caricature (perhaps due to the show’s consulting firm). Of course, they do portray the genius-in-residence as somewhat aloof and out of touch, but when you decide to devote a whole show to regression-to-the-mean, what can you expect? Still, the fella gets the last laugh, as his mentee-come-girlfriend is kinda cute (see below)

Ms. Rawat:

1. I am one of the 2% of Americans who refuse to buy a television.

2. The (forensic) psychology is hokey. Truthfully, I’ve yet to see a 1/2 accurate portrayal of a (non-psychoanalytic) psychologist.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 05:01 PM

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Great piece in the LA Daily News today by Leonard Adleman. The ostensible crux of the article is to give reason why Rush Limbaugh should have received an honorary doctorate (an idea I am not necessarily super-keen on), but the subtle (and, I think, real) point behind the story is a little lower in the article….
But there is a bigger reason why I support giving him an honorary degree: Because I value intellectual diversity . . . intellectual diversity has all but vanished from America’s campuses. We are failing in our duty to provide our students with a broad spectrum of ideas from which to choose. Honoring Limbaugh, or someone like him, would help to make the academy more intellectually diverse.

The great liberal ideas that swept through our universities when I was a student at Berkeley in the 1960s have long ago been digested and largely embraced in academia. Liberalism has triumphed. But a troubling legacy of that triumph is a nation whose professorate is almost entirely liberal.

In the 29 years I have been a professor, I do not recall encountering a single colleague who expressed conservative ideas [Adleman is a professor of computer science]. The left-wing accusations of Ward Churchill (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Alfred University, 1992) are not the problem — the problem is the scarcity of professors who are inclined to rebut them. It is time for the nation’s universities to address this disturbing situation.

The lack of intellectual diversity in academia has been documented, much less myopic fields like my own. There is going to be a big turnover in academia in the next few years (well, in psychology/education, anyway), one can only hope that some of this functional diversity seeps through the cracks.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 09:27 PM

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Since Jensen & Rushton’s article a few weeks ago (but really since Day 1 of graduate school), I’ve heard a lot of arguments against using IQ instruments, some are great (the best were from Jensen himself), some are mediocre (from Robert L. Williams, creator of Ebonics and the BITCH) and some I can only shake my head at, because the arguments they make are irrelevant. Some of my favorites are listed below…..

But I read an article saying X_1 group improved their performance by Z points on Y measure after a week of coaching from [usually someone with access to the assessment instrument].So what? If they didn’t gain any points, that would be the interesting point. The real question is not if X_1 group can increase their score after coaching, but, giving the same coaching to groups X_2 . . X_p is the rate of increase the same across groups1. Moreover, the score(s) at the end of the coaching are not measuring the same thing as the scores before the test, so to compare them is akin to comparing apples and doorknob handles.Smitty took an IQ test and said s/he got X score (usually X < 80), but I think Smitty is brilliant. S/he always engages in conversation, offers lots of opinions about this, that, the other, and sounds so eloquent when s/he speaks.So what? When did a given amount of interactions with [the person making the argument] indicate an objective, reliable way to indicate intellectual capacity?I don't think a 2-hour exam can really give a good measure of someone's [put moral construct here, but it usually is worth].So what? 1) No scientist would ever advocate that IQ=worth. 2) You're entitled to have whatever opinion you desire to have (whether supported or not supported by data).IQ tests just measure performance on discrete skills. They don't really (directly) measure intelligence [usually followed by some asinine argument about why either intelligence doesn't exist or that there are so many varieties that it isn't worthwhile just to measure "1 kind"] .So what? You can't directly measure evolution or gravity either, but few scientifically literate folks would say that they don't exist. You can quantify the constructs' effects and make (quite accurate) predictions about their potency on a given variable.IQ researchers [in the past] have used it to discriminate against X group and say derogatory things about [the group] [The (often unstated) conclusion I am supposed to draw is that IQ/intelligence/g research should stop].So what? People have misused fire to set women’s garments ablaze, does that mean fire is bad? E-bay has been used to sell teenage boys, does that mean the Internet (or computers, in general) shouldn’t be used? The ethics of a given research program and the object under investigation by the research team are two separate issues, not to mention use by folks who have no idea what they are doing with the object.

1. Note. I am not advocating the analysis of change scores.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 10:57 PM

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From the NYT (via free subscription):
And there are other ways that being a dedicated parent strengthens our minds. Research shows that learning and memory skills can be improved by bearing and nurturing offspring. A team of neuroscientists in Virginia found that mother lab rats, just like working mothers, demonstrably excel at time-management and efficiency, racing around mazes to find rewards and get back to the pups in record time. Other research is showing how hormones elevated in parenting can help buffer mothers from anxiety and stress – a timely gift from a sometimes compassionate Mother Nature.

Of course, they put in the mandatory swipe at IQ/intelligence, assuming there is this orthogonal entity called emotional intelligence that can add oodles above-and-beyond g in predicting job/educational/life outcomes, but skip over that part and you get to the crux of the article’s idea: Perhaps then we can start to re-imagine a mother’s brain as less a handicap than a keen asset in the lifelong task of getting smart, i.e., the non-recursive mother-child relation. Mothers influence their children’s intellectual development (well, prenatally and in the first 5 or so years, anyway), but the kid’s repay the favor by influencing her own cognitive development.

In other words, we’re getting back to Bell and Harper’s 20+ year old work. Happy mom’s day, indeed.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 03:05 PM

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The future, if we are to have one, is increasingly to be in the hands of the scientifically literate, those who at least know what it is all about. There can be no multicultural solution to the genetics of cystic fibrosis; the ozone hole cannot be deconstructed; there is nothing whatsoever relativistic or culturally contextual about the dopamine transporter molecules whose blockages by cocaine gives a rush of euphoria, the kind that leads the constructivist to doubt the objectivity of science. E. O. WilsonEO & I Posted by A. Beaujean at 09:01 PM

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I was sent this working paper today from the NSCDC about early childhood emotion. Usually, I need to ingest some type of analgesic compound before I can make it through these things, but this one smacks nicely of the hb-d theme of this blog. Of course you have to, somewhat, read between the lines, but not too much. For example, here is one of their main points:
We now know that differences in early childhood temperament — ranging from being extremely outgoing and adventurous to being painfully shy and easily upset by anything new or unusual — are grounded in one’s biological makeup. These variations lead to alternative behavioral pathways for young children as they develop individual strategies to control their emotions during the preschool years and beyond. They also present diverse challenges for parents and other adults who must respond differently to different kinds of children. When it comes to finding the “best” approach for raising young children, scientists tell us that one size does not fit all.

I really don’t think Scarr & McCartney, or Galton himself, could have put it much better.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 02:41 PM

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New article out in the latest PS by I. Deary showing that individual differences in performance on chronometric tasks are highly related to mortality even after controlling for smoking, education, and social class.

Related (Thanks to Scott)

New study showing that High IQ mediates liklihood of suicide.

Alex’s Comment

It has been known for decades that g mediates the relationship between [name your (psycho)pathology] and outcomes, but the Environmentalists in Psychology (or, name your own discipline) have long inisisted that it is the SES that (often) accompanies g that mediates the outcome. I hope this line of inquiry (i.e., g–>health outcome, inspite fo SES) continues.

This important area of research requires an open mind regarding potential explanatory variables, mechanisms, and direction of causation. It is tempting to posit that cognitive ability in old age relates prospectively to mortality because the brain sensitively reflects deteriorations in the state of the body. In this common-cause hypothesis, the association is more correlation than causation: A deteriorating brain is a part of a body that is deteriorating generally . . . This hypothesis implies that reaction time might be able to pick up bodily deterioration earlier than the terminal decline found in psychometric tests of cognition preceding death. However, this is not the whole story, because IQ of healthy 11-year-olds predicts survival almost 70 years later just as well as IQ of 56-year-olds predicted survival in this 14-year prospective study. Thus, there is something traitlike as well as possibly statelike about cognitive ability that offers a clue to longevity.

Middle-aged subjects provide an interesting case. Here, we found that psychometric intelligence and reaction times were significantly related to survival over the next 14 years, with an effect size comparable to that of smoking status. But what is the direction of explanation? Social class, education, and smoking did not explain the association, so perhaps the present results replicate the 11-year-old effect, reflecting traitlike aspects of even healthy brains that correlate with survival. Or did the IQ test and reaction time indices sensitively pick up preclinical decline in physiological mechanisms that subserve good health and survival? Findings in children support the first explanation, and findings in older people support the second. But perhaps such a trait-state dichotomy is false. It might be the case that, even in children, lower IQ relates to earlier death partly because it is a reflection of a body with suboptimal physiological integrity. This possibility is consistent with the finding that the association between lower IQ and earlier death is especially strong in the lowest quartile of IQ scores . . .

I am sure that most of you will be shocked that performance on chronometric tasks is partially heritable, and that we might even have located a specific gene that is implicated in variance of chronometric performance. Moreover, I am sure you will be aghast at the fact that individual differences in g play a significant part in the variance in chronometric task performance (e.g., 1, 2).

I guess you can add this to the pile of data suggesting not only that intelligence/g has a biological component, but that it also confers a procreational advantage.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 09:56 PM

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David Geary‘s new book, The Origin Of The Mind: Evolution Of Brain, Cognition, And General Intelligence
will be of great interest to (almost) all readers of this compendium o’ prose. Its content, while not particularly novel to gnxp (e.g., 1, 2), is a massive defense of the idea that intelligence (or, more specifically, g) specifically evolved due to the advantages it gives in (social) problem solving and purposeful planning.

I can’t go into much of a review at this time, but I’ll say that the book’s final two chapters (Evolution of general intelligence, and General intelligence in modern society) are superb reviews and integration of current g literature and Evolutionary (Cognitive) Psychology. If you afford it, buy a copy today. If not, march down to your closest library and demand that they purchase a copy.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 01:06 PM

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I’ve been looking at some of the TIMSS stuff for a few days, but dobeln’s post prompted me to post.

Here are two trends (source) that I found interesting, re: Race and TIMSS in the USA:

Notice that (1), the White levels have ostensibly leveled off, while

(2) the Black and Hispanic/Latino levels have definitely increased over 3 years, although they might be leveling off (at least in math).*

My initial question was what was causing the differential slopes? And the secondary question was what will the 2007 wave show?

As to the former, I would say that it is the massive funding going into Urban school districts. Where I live, for example, they put oodles of money into a particular school that wasn’t faring so well academically and happened to have a large African American population. They overhauled the school’s administration, teachers, etc., and I am sure they will find some improvement on achievement indicators. Few would say if you took the best teachers and the best administrators and threw a wad of $ at them that scores couldn’t be somewhat increased.

As to the latter, I see all three race groups show heavy plateauing, especially in math, with a Black-White gap of ~ 75, which (gasp!) is about 1 SD.

* I really wanted to see the trend for Asian Americans, too, but the data did not meet some requirement, so the good people at the Federal Gov’t decided not to post the data (at least that I could easily find).

Posted by A. Beaujean at 05:16 PM

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New article in EPAA. It has flaws, but (surprise, surprise):
(a) it adds to the evidence that the achievement gap is not going to go away without massive government intrusion (take a gander at the article’s last paragraph)…and even then, the magnitude of the gap’s closure is debatable (of course, there are other options); and
(b) it gives some evidence that perhaps (math) pedagogy should be race based…
The practices that reduce the gap seem to be somewhat different for African American and Latino students. . . some practices that are beneficial to all students, irrespective of race. Time on task is important. . Conducting routine exercises also proved helpful across the board . . . The practices particularly beneficial to African Americans and Latinos differed somewhat from those beneficial across the board and between the two ethnic groups. . . for black students the most beneficial practice is the emphasis on topics of measurement and estimation. On the other hand, testing has a disproportionately negative impact on black students. . . For Latino students, the most beneficial practice is the emphasis on data analysis. There are no practices analyzed here that proved specifically detrimental to Latino students.*

I doubt that many in Education will rush to accept the fact that there are race-based neuroanatomical and/or neurophysiological differences (why else would different methods of teaching [presumably] have differential outcomes?…and in the 4th grade, nonetheless?), but on the other hand, like medicine, it will be hardly ethical to know something works for a given sub-population and withhold it on a political basis. Of course, this whole field will need multiple replicative (and, hopefully, experimental) studies, but with the brouhaha NCLB is causing (just Google “No Child Left Behind” and you will get a taste), it is plausible this type of research will get underway.

* I am still pondering why emphasizing measurement & estimation or data analysis would be particularly beneficial for a specific race.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 07:42 PM

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Article here about a Prince Charles memo. Of course the story casts it as being a scurrilous piece of elitism, but here is the “key quote:”

People think they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability. This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history.

As Christmas is coming up, think I’ll be able to buy a inspirational poster of this anytime soon?

Posted by A. Beaujean at 08:08 AM

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I hope this is not in violation of the 11/15 rule…..

But, in response to Ole’s post, I did some investigation of state “average” IQ and where the state’s electoral votes went.

First, I found this site, which seemed to be on the mark. I then correlated the IQ scores here with what ACT reports and got r=.8, so figured the IQ scores were up to snuff.

Results below:

Results of state IQ and electoral preference: Not much of a pattern.

IQ and 2004 Election

For 7 out of 11 IQ categories, Bush won, and did so in both in the “high” and the “low” groups.

I then double checked how I interpreted the graph and ran a chi-square analysis, and the cell frequencies did not show significant differences between IQ and voting preference (assuming alpha=.05). (see here).

You can take what you want from this, but it appears to me that IQ (at least aggregated state IQ) didn’t have that much of an impact in this election.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 03:46 PM

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I don’t blog much on politics, but as the election comes ’round, and I catch some of the debates and Internet scuttlebutt, I am “surprised” at how much folks emphasize the externals as influencers on political ideology, when there is ample evidence that our political orientation (which is, in part, an outgrowth of personality) is largely influenced genetically, and that there is little evidence for a massive environmental effect, such as a debate might have (see here for a nice general review). While debates might be important in the primaries, where, ostensibly, the candidates from a given party have similar ideology, at the national level, the difference between the two parties is too vast (see, for example) for a debate to do much but provide entertainment value.

While people do switch party affiliations and there might be some that pick their candidate via what they see on the tele, I would wager that a large portion of informed Americans have already made up their mind long before November ever rolls around. Moreover, I would also venture that, sans for times of extenuating circumstances (e.g., war), the way they vote in any given election, will largely mirror both the way they have voted for the past x elections, and the future y elections, as well.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 09:15 PM

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David Geary has a new book out on Intelligence and EP (here is a précis).

I won’t have time to read it thoroughly until Thanksgiving break, but I have read oodles of Geary’s work (as he and I work at the same university, although in different departments) and, traditionally, he has had a nice appreciation of individual differences and doesn’t appear to back down too much from the controversial issues (i.e., sex differences). Thus, the book will probably be well worth a read if you can get your hands on it (well, if you can believe Pinker, anyway).

Posted by A. Beaujean at 04:27 PM

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The U-California system voted to raise the admissions criteria to having X > 3.0 GPA. The reason? Too many people in the California School system have a GPA higher than the current minimum of 2.8.

Quick, before reading the rest of the article, can you guess the protestors’ argument?

Posted by A. Beaujean at 07:09 PM

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The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?