Many of the American readers may have participated in CTY. This article on the gifted students in the program will be of interest to most GNXP readers:
The same egalitarian ardor has swept over schools across the country in recent years, slashing gifted classes and dismantling tracking systems. Programs for the gifted now receive less than two cents of every hundred dollars spent on education by the federal government…
By 1980, he had begun to track the fortunes of the most gifted among the gifted-known as “the 1-in-10,000,” because their test scores were in the top one-hundredth of one per cent nationwide. The talent search had begun…
Camerer’s career is not unusual for a High Math. We know this because he and some six thousand other alumni have now been followed for nearly thirty years, first by Stanley and then by one of his proteges, Camilla Benbow, the dean of education and human development at Vanderbilt University. Benbow and her husband, David Lubinski, a psychologist at Vanderbilt, send out periodic questionnaires and track their subjects’ achievements year by year. Recently, they compared Camerer’s cohort-the 1-in-10,000-to a group that merely scored in the top one per cent. “There were huge differences,” Benbow says. “Huge.” By the age of thirty, the 1-in-10,000 were twice as likely to earn Ph.D.s as the other cohort, and fifty times more likely to earn Ph.D.s than the average American. “And they go to much more prestigious schools,” she added. “The top one per cent achieve enormous amounts, but the 1-in-10,000 do even better.”
It’s too early to tell how many of the 1-in-10,000 will become Nobel Prize winners. But a few, like Camerer, are already leaders in their field, and the rest have proved surprisingly predictable. Lubinski showed me a series of graphs based on gifted students’ S.A.T. scores. In college, those with high verbal and low math scores mostly majored in the social sciences and humanities; those with high math and low verbal scores gravitated toward math and engineering. Students with high scores in both areas often studied physics; those with equally low scores drifted into business. By the age of thirty-three, when the students had become professionals, physicians occupied the center of the graph-good but not great in both math and language. And lawyers had joined businesspeople in the bottom quarter.
Remember here that “low” is relative, because we are talking about people in the top .0001 of the IQ distribution. Make sure to check out Camilla Benbow’s webpage, particularly this publication on the ultra high IQ:
Adolescents identified before the age of 13 (N = 320) as having exceptional mathematical or verbal reasoning abilities (top 1 in 10,000) were tracked over 10 years. They pursued doctoral degrees at rates over 50 times base-rate expectations, with several participants having created noteworthy literary, scientific, or technical products by their early 20s. Early observed distinctions inintellectual strength (viz., quantitative reasoning ability over verbal reasoning ability, and vice versa) predicted sharp differences in their developmental trajectories and occupational pursuits. This special population strongly preferred educational opportunities tailored to their precocious rate of learning (i.e., appropriate developmental placement), with 95% using some form of acceleration to individualize their education.
Ok, let’s just enumerate the take home points:
A one hour test given at age 12 is sufficient to predict outcome statistics more than a decade later. In particular, it can identify a group of individuals more than 50-times more likely than the general population to obtain doctoral degrees. As the paper shows, the top 1 in 10000 population is overwhelmingly European and Asian. (78% European, 20% Asian) – see the Methods section. The threshold effect postulated by some investigators like Gardiner – which supposes that a 180 IQ does not afford much advantage over a 130 IQ – does not stand up to statistical investigation.
When I see studies like this, I have to admit that I’m a bit perplexed as to how biophobes fit them into their worldview. Whatever IQ measures, it’s clearly related to physiological variables and is a very strong predictor of life outcomes on both the individual and the macroeconomic scale. Its utility becomes more starkly apparent when you contrast it to other metrics – you wouldn’t see these kinds of numbers if you had measured height or weight at age 12, for example. For that matter, I seriously doubt that you’d have gotten such results by measuring wealth at age 12, not least because one’s wealth is better predicted by one’s own IQ than by one’s parents’ IQ.
So if I was a biophobe – literally, someone afraid of biological explanations – just about the only explanation for the ethnic differences observed would be some omnipresent environmental factor X (stereotype threat, post traumatic slavery disorder, etc.) that does indeed depress *real* performance. While standard as a conversational gambit, one must recognize that this plays the same role as “God’s will” does for the religious – it’s not intended to be a testable hypothesis. However, for a biophobe to take this tack he must first cede that IQ tests are a good predictor for the vast bulk of the population which is not affected by his factor X.
Usually, of course, the conversation doesn’t get to this point. Hysterical name calling is the name of the day – it’s far easier to denounce everyone interested in intelligence as a “racist” than to engage with ideas that threaten the blank slate…
Posted by gc_emeritus at 11:42 PM