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The Flynn Effect: IQ Testing Across Space and Time
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The Flynn Effect of rising raw scores on IQ tests is one of the most interesting phenomena in all the human sciences. It was first noticed in the 1940s, but for a long time little attention was paid to the fact that IQ test publishers had to renorm their tests periodically because people kept doing better on them. This pattern began to be explored by political philosopher James Flynn from around 1979 onward, and the phrase “Flynn Effect” was coined in his honor in 1994′s The Bell Curve.

One interesting aspect of the Flynn Effect is that it tends to be larger on the less culturally biased tests, such as the outer space-looking Raven’s Progressive Matrices:

Historically, much effort was put into the obvious challenge of developing IQ tests that are stable across space, from culture to culture. In contrast, nobody until Flynn paid all that much attention to the question of IQ tests being stable across time.

For example, the alien-looking Raven’s Matrices IQ test that was introduced in the 1930s in the hope of being more culture-free than previous IQ tests has seen a huge Flynn Effect of around 3 points per decade, or a standard deviation (15 points) in a half century. A score on the Raven’s that would put you at the 50th percentile a half century ago would only put you at the 16th percentile today.

The more human-seeming Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) saw a still-substantial Flynn Effect of about two points per decade, but that’s less than the Raven’s.

Screenshot 2015-10-17 00.15.05

Importantly, the size of the Flynn Effect from 1947-2002 differed sharply amongst the subtests on the WISC as shown above, from only 2 points over the 55 years on the “Information” and “Arithmetic” subtests to 22 points on “Picture Arrangement” and 24 points on “Similarities.” (In the table above, the Flynn Effect column is taken from my 2007 review in VDARE of Flynn’s book What Is Intelligence? )

The kind of cognitive facilities that come up in normal conversation, such as vocabulary, arithmetic and general knowledge, have only seen small Flynn Effects, which is why the Flynn Effect isn’t easily noticeable in much of daily life (although I’ll point out below where it can be seen).

Recently, James Thompson’s Psychological Comments had a table of the “cultural load” of each WISC subtest from a 2013 paper:

Kees-Jan Kan, Jelte M. Wicherts, Conor V. Dolan, and Han L. J. van der Maas. “On the Nature and Nurture of Intelligence and Specific Cognitive Abilities: The More Heritable, the More Culture Dependent.” Psychological Science 24(12) 2420–2428

… Cultural load was operationalized as the average proportion of items that were adjusted in each subtest of the WAIS-III when the scale was adapted for use in 13 countries.

I presume that means adjustments in questions beyond simple translation. IQ test publishers validate new editions of their tests in each country in which they intend to sell them, and that lets them notice proposed questions that don’t work well due to local idiosyncrasies. (In contrast, the PISA international school achievement tests have a “we’ll fix it in post-production” philosophy of dropping poorly designed questions after the PISA test is given. But in either case, it’s important to figure out at some point which questions just don’t work the same across space and which ones work well around the world with just simple translations.)

Wicherts et al have noticed that heritability is strongest on the most culture loaded subtests, which is very important. But I want to focus today upon the potential implications of their data (the Cultural Load column in my table above) for better understanding of the Flynn Effect.

My table above combines the two sets of figures for Weschler substests. (Note the oranges to tangerines comparison of WISC [Flynn Effect] to WAIS [Cultural Load] — there are a ton of technical issues here, such as the Digit Span subtest being missing from Flynn’s data, but I’m just going to blunder onward.)

Eyeballing my table, it looks like there’s a moderate negative correlation between the size of the Flynn Effect and the size of the Cultural Load. The correlation is -0.44.

This overall pattern shouldn’t be surprising because it’s in line with the general difference between the Raven’s and the Wechsler’s: the more a Wechsler subtest is like the Raven’s, the higher the Flynn Effect. Conversely, the more culture-dependent a Wechsler subtest is, the lower the Flynn Effect.

For example, “vocabulary” is the most culturally sensitive Wechsler subtest, not surprisingly, and it’s got a quite small Flynn Effect. Interestingly, vocabulary’s also a really good subtest of overall intelligence. For instance, the ongoing General Social Survey includes a 10 word vocabulary test and that has proven to be a surprisingly decent proxy for IQ.

If we leave out the “Similarities” outlier, the correlation is -0.74.

My best theory for what’s going on with the Flynn Effect besides obvious ones like better nutrition is that the world has seen a major cultural / environmental shift that has been going on in most cultures around the world at a fairly steady pace that makes young people better at certain subtests, typically on Performance IQ subtests, but doesn’t do them much good on Verbal IQ subtests except for “Similarities.”

As I wrote in 2007 about “Similarities:”

Finally, the fastest rising subtest on the WISC, Similarities, rewards abstract scientific thinking, what Flynn calls viewing the world through “scientific spectacles.”

A child gets a maximum score for replying that dogs and rabbits are “mammals.” A kid in 1947 who had never seen a nature documentary on TV would likely have said “They have four legs” or something else more concrete than the Linnaean category “mammals.”

In 1947 a child in the hollers of Kentucky would probably know more concrete things about dogs and rabbits than an urban child today. But IQ tests have tended to anticipate the direction in which global culture has evolved, away from the concrete and toward the abstract and two-dimensional, toward what can be represented on a piece of paper or a screen.

Whatever this change is, it’s reminiscent of Moore’s Law in its endurance and steady pace. As you know, around 1968 Gordon Moore of Intel, the famous Silicon Valley silicon chip firm descended from Shockley Semiconductor, pointed out that Intel had been able to double the number of transistors on a standard size piece of silicon every year or two throughout the 1960s, and he believed that the industry would be able to keep up this pace for some time into the future. This more or less proved true for at least four decades, with world changing consequences, such as the coining of the term “Silicon Valley” in 1971 and the rise of Silicon Valley to immense economic importance.

I don’t know if Moore’s Law is still in effect (the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012, the first time in my personal computer owning career, which goes back to 1984, that a new computer wasn’t tangibly faster). Similarly, I don’t know if the Flynn Effect is still operating everywhere. (I haven’t really been following the data in this decade.)

But Moore’s Law has been kind of like the Flynn Effect in that it has been relatively incremental, decade after decade, rather than erratic, and the effects have been felt globally even though its heartland has been Silicon Valley, kind of like how IQ testing’s heartland has been Silicon Valley ever since Lewis Terman released America’s first IQ test, the Stanford-Binet, a century ago.

Moreover, Moore’s Law (in the sense of higher performance in general) has had multiple causes. For example, when clock speeds on CPU chips topped out, the chip companies were able to regroup and keep Moore’s Law progressing for a number of years further by doing other things. Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) in the past, but improved nutrition has been less of a contributor to the Flynn Effect in some countries in recent years as nutrition has gotten about as good as it’s going to get. But other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going a while longer.

So, Moore’s Law is an informative analogy for the Flynn Effect.

But I would go further and suggest, somewhat hand-wavingly, that one of the driving forces of the Flynn Effect has been Moore’s Law, or, to be both more precise and more vague, some kind of superset of a direction to technological change of which Moore’s Law is a subset.

One of the big changes in daily life over recent centuries has been the growth of what I might call humans having to deal with “machine logic.” People today deal far more often each day than in the past with semi-intelligent machines who can only be dealt with in a certain way according to their own logic. You deal with the ATM rather than with a bank teller, with a gasoline pump rather than with a pump jockey, with elevator buttons rather than with elevator operators. You can’t wave your hands around with these machines until they figure out what you want done. You have to follow a precise logical series of steps.

(This trend may not continue forever. For example, searching the Internet using Google today requires users to use less logic than searching the Internet using Alta Vista in 1998 required. The term “Boolean operators” was useful to understand to get more out of Alta Vista, while Google is so smart today that you don’t have to be as smart.)

This trend toward people having to interface more each decade with machine logic hasn’t just been happening since the silicon chip was invented. Before the silicon chip was the transistor, perfected by William Shockley, and before that the vacuum tube, which Lee de Forest made significant progress upon in Palo Alto around the time Lewis Terman of Stanford was adopting Binet’s pioneering IQ test for the American market.

Granted, I’m waving my hands around in making this argument in the hopes that you’ll grasp what I’m trying to get across. I don’t have this reduced to a precise series of steps that a machine intelligence could understand, but I do think I’m onto something: that the high Flynn Effect, low Culture Load IQ subtests are a kind of like mastering dealing with information technologies, and kids these days get more practice in that than we did and we got more practice than our parents did.

In contrast, kids these days likely have less practice dealing with complex 3-d entities, such as repairing automobile engines. Instead, they are used to dealing with 2-d paper and, ever increasingly, 2-d screens. But IQ tests tend to shy away from much in the way of 3-d testing, other than some blocks subtests on the WISC and other children’s IQ tests, largely for reasons of economy. Asking and answering questions in a 2-d format, whether on paper or on a computer screen, is cheap.

But because 2-d is cheap, the real world has also moved in the 2-d direction that IQ tests anticipated.

 

One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

More senior executives at the information company where I worked back then tended to find the new personal information technologies difficult to master. They were used to issuing orders to intelligent human beings, such as their secretaries, who wouldn’t take everything quite so literally. The founders of the company where I worked were superbly intelligent at dealing with human psychology, but they found arbitrary machine logic daunting.

But similar information technology developments in this century have not struck me as fun at all to learn about. On Twitter, for example, I’m basically clueless about whether I’m replying to one person or to thousands. Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.

Generation after generation, children grow up in an environment ever denser with the kind of systems logic that the more Flynn Effected-Wechsler subtests ask about. Growing up, kids these days get more practice with the kind of thinking tested on the Raven’s and on some of the Wechsler subtexts. And they legitimately are better at it.

The Flynn Effect is a side effect of the developers of the IQ test being on “the right side of history.” We’re used to hearing progressives denounce IQ tests as obsolete pseudoscience on the wrong side of history, but, in reality, IQ testing in the United States has some amusing organic ties to the triumph of Silicon Valley. Louis Terman’s son Fred Terman (1900-1982), a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, was the perhaps the single most important figure in the rise of Silicon Valley. The mentor of Hewlett and Packard, he largely invented the model of Stanford grad students like Larry Page and Sergey Brin starting up high tech firms like Google.

You are supposed to believe that the Termans were all wrong, but it sure looks like we’re living in the world the Terman family anticipated.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Flynn Effect, IQ, Moore's Law, Robots, Silicon Valley 
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  1. Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.

    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam’s Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are ‘heritable’ in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you’re probably an already lost cause.

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    • Replies: @IHTG
    Isn't that what Steve's article is saying?
    , @Cryptogenic
    If you know what answers an IQ test is looking for, you probably have a high IQ. This sort of trickery is subsumed into the IQ test.
    , @Stephen R. Diamond
    I would express Sailer's idea in these terms: The development of a technological culture increasingly produces crystallized tools for handling cognitive problems that would, at earlier times, have drawn on fluid ability.

    [What's lost -- at least according to Ian McGilchrist, who expresses a similar view couched in hemisphericity -- is the ability to handle genuine novelty.]

    anonymous coward's criticism as I'd construe it amounts to questioning the breadth of the crystallized gains: to what extent do they pertain merely to the taking of tests. If Sailer is right, Flynn gains are likely to continue longer into the future than if ac is right.

    , @Anonymous

    Occam’s Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

     

    I totally agree! The interesting part of it is that this "gaming" is very likely to alter the shape of the distribution - when the original normed test was made to look as normal one, the "gaming" occurs predominantly in the low-middle and middle range, raising a mean and effectively rendering the test meaningless.
    , @pyrrhus
    The problem with believing in the Flynn effect in the USA is that SAT and ACT scores have been declining steadily for 50 years, despite the College Board's periodic "renorming" or dumbing down of the tests. College professors have confirmed that they think the students are dumber than they used to be......And this is many millions of data points.....So whatever the reason for better IQ test scores, the effect is not real.
    , @A Pseudonymic Handle
    I know of no one's family who forces you to learn how to do IQ tests at a very early age (1 - 3 years old). So the hypothesis that this is what is causing the Flynn Effect is silly.

    BTW, nothing lasts forever and over the last several years there is little or no evidence of the Flynn Effect continuing.
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  2. Pat Casey says:

    I have no right to mention what merely occurs to me on a whim as a starting point to explain Flynn’s effect. But, as someone who is basically intelligent, yet definitely deficient at machine logic in a way that’s frankly embarrassing on occasion, I may be uniquely circumstanced just now to say something brilliant, but I really have no idea; and I’ll start by saying I even had this thought reading this post before I got to Steve bringing up Moore’s law.

    So, Moore’s Law is an informative analogy for the Flynn Effect.

    What beguiles me disoriented is when the single whole, lets say the text, has a bunch of different font sizes and especially a bunch of different colors. It is mental exercise to shake the fugue sense that that provokes, it is mental exercise to keep the main idea in mind as I struggle to figure out why some words are bigger or a different color than others. DC’s newish street meters piss me off the most. What has been going on across the world for some time now is simply what could be called the visual complication of symbol systems. In the course of a day, Joe Blow reads symbols of probably dozens of different sizes. Day in and day out, what Santayana would have called intellectual acrobatics are being practiced, that is, very simply a matter of being able to maintain a train of thought that needs to jump from one size or style or color of symbol to the next, and back again without interrupting the train. Television and especially TV commercials require this too, and the single reason I stopped playing video games is because they became too complexly detailed. Most people probably don’t realize there is effort, there is exercise involved in negotiating the modern landscape of symbols, and that’s been true for a while. And this exercise could be why IQ goes up: because size matters.

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  3. In about 1985 I had some dealings with a local Merrill Lynch office. When I glanced over at the boss’s computer it had a “executive” keyboard!!! The keys were arranged left to right

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  4. IHTG says:
    @anonymous coward

    Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.
     
    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam's Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are 'heritable' in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you're probably an already lost cause.

    Isn’t that what Steve’s article is saying?

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  5. Romanian says:

    Part of the reason why things don’t appear to be faster is related, I think, to how resource intensive many applications have become. Part of it is functionality (especially science applications, and videogaming), another part are useless frills and the last, but very substantial, part is simple laziness and sloppiness on the part of programmers, many of whom are spoiled compared to yesteryear.

    I don’t really use my Word any differently than I did around 15 years ago, when I first started using it for school, except for some SmartArt and charts, but the Word of today is a lot more resource intensive. If you’re the average user, you’re basically still typing away at the same Word as you had before, only N times more resource intensive. It has graphics, way more options you might never use, shininess etc. I have a free program for automatically introducing diacritics in Romanian texts when someone hands me something written without the special marks. The thing weighs 50 Megs and has every function I have ever needed in Word except charts, including a very good orthographic checker. And it runs like a dream.

    I do, however, notice the change in power when it comes to computer game graphics, although I confess I’ve ceased to become enthusiastic about it around 2011, since the last big qualitative leap (to my mind). Even there, the progress is less than it could be, because of the parallelism with console markets, which need even the newest games to run on the same years old hardware without too much of a noticeable difference in quality and speed compared to PCs (to avoid losing sales), which leads to compromises on the PC version’s part. Though we are now in the new generation of consoles, so there is a lot of room for everyone to grow.

    Regarding the Internet, there was this article once about how pages would load faster in the past than they do now with broadband because the limitations on bandwidth forced website designers to keep things simple. In addition to the cutesy graphics, photos, widgets etc, you also have a suite of programs running in the background, deciding if video should start playing, what happens when you roll your cursor over an interactive commercial, what pop-ups you should have. Mobile versions of websites are, to a certain degree, a throwback to that more innocent age of bandwidth restriction.

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    • Replies: @Old Jew
    Dear Romanian,

    I have one of the problems you described. A minor local paper in my forlorn Bukowina town, asked me, to reminisce about my school days ("Amintiri din Copilarie"). I have the standard USA keyboard on this, my laptop. What is that 50 Megs software that will insert the Romanian diacritics ( ă, î, ș, ț ).

    How to obtain and where?

    Otherwise as I wrote before, I am a command line and UNIX vi (gvim) person, and thus fully agree with your views on the proliferation of fatware and bloatware.

    sf
    , @pork pie hat
    No, they've plateaued(*), we lost the /speed/ part of Moore's Law around 2005:

    http://www.gotw.ca/publications/concurrency-ddj.htm

    Moore's Law still holds for transistor count, but modern CPUs barely eke out clock improvements, and chip makers put their engineering effort into reducing power consumption and adding things like on-chip graphics.

    (* 4 vowels in a row!)

    , @Lugash
    I don't game much anymore, but I'd just as soon see graphics freeze in place and the improvements be put into physics, AI, gameplay and story.

    With respect to web page loading time, try blocking ads at the system or network level. It beats using browser plugins by an order of magnitude. If you're not familiar, here's a good starter for Windows:

    http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm
    , @Former Darfur
    It's important to compare apples to apples, as it were. Modern apps are enormous by previous standards, but they do a lot of things they didn't have to contend with then either. I can sit here and have ten different applications open, several playing videos (in superb depth and frame rates), a couple of huge .pdf files, broser windows, games, emulators, VirtualBox, you name it.

    The current retrocomputing fad offers an easy window into how much a lot has changed. There are several good Apple II, Classic Mac, Amigam Commodore 8 bit, and vintage minicomputer sites out there and an enormous amount of old source has been released for the perusal of any and all interested.

    Here's a little demo on how to do something that would have been unthinkable not too many years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12USa3gU_oU
  6. P says:

    It’s spelled Lewis Terman, not Louis.

    There are two huge, recent meta-analyses of the Flynn effect: Pietschnig & Voracek and Trahan et al. From the former:

    Key findings include that IQ gains vary according to domain (estimated 0.41, 0.30, 0.28, and 0.21 IQ points annually for fluid, spatial, fullscale, and crystallized IQ test performance, respectively), are stronger for adults than children, and have decreased in more recent decades. Altogether, these findings narrow down proposed theories and candidate factors presumably accounting for the Flynn effect. Factors associated with life history speed seem mainly responsible for the Flynn effect’s general trajectory, whereas favorable social-multiplier effects and effects related to economic prosperity appear to be responsible for observed differences of the Flynn effect across intelligence domains.

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  7. SFG says:

    Another question is, if we’re getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I’d love to hear the geezers here comment.

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    • Replies: @AndrewR
    Social skills and handy skills have certainly decreased in the average youth over the last couple generations, but so has the ability to function independently. The "helicopter parent" is a very real phenomenon. Kids' lives are increasingly micromanaged thanks to the growth of the culture of fear [I heard the term "stranger danger" used completely unironically by a local neww anchor last week referring to a purportedly suspicious man near a school] and the college industrial complex [little Timmy has to get accepted into the Best Schools or he might be doomed to a life of working with his hands and the attendent low social status such professions are afforded in our society].
    , @415 reasons
    Have to agree with this one. 500,000 computer savvy autistic losers on 4chan can't be wrong.
    , @Threecranes
    I'm a geezer and here's my two cents.

    True that cars today are extremely complicated compared to old cars. But fixing them is comparatively easy (if your large Euro hands can get into the small Asian spaces). That's because to diagnose a problem all you need do is plug in your analyzer to the (standardized) port located beneath the dash in every contemporary auto and allow it to diagnose whatever ails the beast. Then you buy the Gizmo, unbolt the old one and bolt the new one in.

    There's nothing to "fix". No one e.g. replaces bearings or brushes in alternators anymore. The worn-out component is just sent to a factory that specializes in rebuilds. Everything is refurbished and the rebuild is to all intents and purposes, new.

    As I alluded to above, the real problem is accessing stuff in engine compartments cramped with sideways engines and transmissions, air conditioners etc. Lord help you if you have to change the spark plugs in a full sized American pickup truck; the two located under the dash are unreachable.
    , @thinkingabout it
    Social skills and mechanical skills both. But the former is increasingly important for career advancement. Maybe it was even back in the day, but I'm inclined to think the increasing female presence in the workplace has increased the requirements for social skills. Slyness, tact, charisma- these are the things that get you ahead, even in highly intellectual fields. Because in every field, there is a baseline intellectual cutoff, but once you cross that cutoff, you are competing with people of similar intellectual ability. Then it becomes the soft skills that distinguish you from the herd.
    , @Kevin O'Keeffe
    "What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?"

    Middle-class teenagers can't make instant macaroni 'n' cheese out of a box; its too daunting a task for them. The only way they know how to eat, is have to food put before them by some adult, whether familial or commercial. My de facto wife grew up very poor, and used to catch her own fish, clean them, and eat them (because otherwise, she'd be eating Saltines all day), but a lot of kids now would probably be too repulsed by the thought of food that didn't come from a commercial establishment, to even be able eat such fare, let alone procure & prepare it. Her son is very good with hand tools and the like, and there seems to be a current of nerd culture that still values those kinds of hands-on skills, but kids today are pretty depressing, overall. One thing I will say, is they seem far less interested in drugs & alcohol than my teenaged, Gen X cohorts were, in the late 1980s, so that's liable to accrue to their long-term advantage. But many of them don't seem to merely play videogames for a few hours each day; videogames have become their lives, and other than to go to work and/or school, they do not leave the house.

    I think the Flynn Effect can be at least partly explained by Rubert Sheldrake's morphogenetic field theory. And before anyone feels the need to denounce that as "pseudoscience," yes, we know its an as yet unproven theory. But it does explain a Hell of a lot, and should not be dismissed out of hand, merely because its perceived to be "weird." I recommend reading Dr. Sheldrake's "Dogs Who Know When Their Owners are Coming Home," before dismissing the notion altogether.
    , @Zach
    For one thing, how many pull-ups can the average 14-year-old do? How many could the average 14-year-old do in 1995?
    , @Anonymous
    "Another question is, if we’re getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?"

    Maybe sniffing out bull$#!t. The way they appear to be so willing to embrace SJW propaganda - even that which seems to fly in the face of what is easily observable - is mind-boggling to me.
    , @Benjamin I. Espen
    This is where my brain went too. It seems intuitively true to me that you can't be good at everything, and you have to turn potential ability into actual ability through practice and experience. There is probably some amount of overlap among mental skills, but the correlation isn't perfect.

    Social skills seem pretty good among the young kids I interview for engineering jobs, and this set is selected for mechanical skills [as well as general smartness], but I would guess a lot of them haven't spent much time tending living things like gardens or livestock. I definitely wouldn't want to be lost in woods with most of them.
    , @Grumpy
    This week, I spoke with two college students who didn't look in my direction when speaking to me during a dinner table conversation. Neither so much as turned her head when addressing me. There were six people at the table, but these two young women both looked straight ahead most of the time. I've never seen that before (at least not with people who aren't obviously autistic).
    , @Steve Sailer
    The philosopher who writes about old movies, Stanley Somebody, has argued that Buster Keaton's silent films came at the peak of Americans' familiarity with mechanical physics. Americans in 1925 could anticipate better than we can what kind of trouble Buster was likely getting himself into with, say, that pulley contraption he was rigging up.

    Buster Keaton movies are like "The Martian" in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on.
    , @Pat Casey
    I think it's funny when people notice the derogation of "social skills" to the benefit of machine logic. Well yes, it must be said, machines are not very social. I wonder if it's a question which is occurring with more enthusiasm: people becoming more like machines, or machines becoming more like people? Well I guess machines can only talk to people as much as people talk to machines, and only a smart-set few people like to talk to machines. I fear we must learn from these few before the machines out-learn us. That, or start reading Boswell gravely, to remember how certain "social skills" can forgive other "social skills," and once enlivened not a machine but a "barbarian satirist" to chirp:

    That Johnson was a sort of god to his biographer we readily see. But Falstaff as well is a sort of english god, like the rice-bellied gods of laughter of China. They are illusions hugged and lived in; little dead totems. Just as all gods are a repose for humanity, the big religions an immense refuge and rest, so are these little grotesques fetishes.
     
    Grotesque fetishes is what we want I guess.
  8. AndrewR says:
    @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    Social skills and handy skills have certainly decreased in the average youth over the last couple generations, but so has the ability to function independently. The “helicopter parent” is a very real phenomenon. Kids’ lives are increasingly micromanaged thanks to the growth of the culture of fear [I heard the term "stranger danger" used completely unironically by a local neww anchor last week referring to a purportedly suspicious man near a school] and the college industrial complex [little Timmy has to get accepted into the Best Schools or he might be doomed to a life of working with his hands and the attendent low social status such professions are afforded in our society].

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  9. NOTA says:

    Moore’s law has turned sideways now–the individual processors aren’t getting much faster (you can’t speed up the clock much), but they’re putting more processors and more special-purpose hardware on the chip. That doesn’t do much to speed up the mostly sequential stuff we spend a lot of time doing on our computers.

    On the other hand, you could get perfectly fine performance in a word processor on 1980s machines–Word is slow on old machines because it’s a bloated mess, not because there’s some real need for a very fast processor to do what Word Perfect on a 16 MHz 286 could do just fine.

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    • Replies: @Anon7
    "Word is slow on old machines because it’s a bloated mess, not because there’s some real need for a very fast processor to do what Word Perfect on a 16 MHz 286 could do just fine."

    Darn kids and their reliance on overpowered hardware. All you really needed was Apple Writer running on a 6502 processor running at 1 MHz... You probably thought you needed upper AND lower case characters...
  10. A serious question for you, Steve (as a guy who is reasonably close to ‘expert’ on IQ). How does anyone know that the Flynn Effect is even real?

    Specifically:
    1) Give a test in 1930. Get results
    2) Give the identical test in 2015. Get the results.
    3) Compare the two results. Difference = Flynn Effect.

    But it doesn’t work this way. If you gave the exact same test in 2015 that you gave in 1930, the problems would be public knowledge, they would be publicly available, and some people would cheat. So a similar but different test is given (how often is it changed-every year? every few years?).

    So the real process is:
    1) Give a test in 1930. Get results.
    2) Give a similar test in 2015. Similar is presumably something like: “similar kinds of puzzles/vocabulary questions, as determined by test designers. But they use different puzzles, and different words, for their specific questions to avoid the test questions being public information. (made up example: ‘regatta’ is a vocabulary word in 1930, ‘debilitating’ is a vocabulary word in 2015. Experts deem that the two are IQ-identical).
    3) compare the two results of two different, though hypothetically similar, test results. Difference = Flynn Effect.

    It is a similar problem with every type of IQ test (the one I’m familiar with, because I’ve taken it, is the LSAT). A score on the LSAT of 160 in 2010 means you are at the 80th percentile of other people who took the same test (i.e. other people who took the test the same year you did). This does not mean you are comparable to someone who took the LSAT and scored 160 in 1970, say (or even 2011 or 2009). Because that 160 is not normed to some ideal IQ/LSAT score. It is normed to the people who chose to take the LSAT in 2010 or 1970 (2011/2009). If the people are different (which they obviously are), or the test questions are different (which they obviously are), the meaning of ’160 on the LSAT’ will be different. There is, in fact, no valid way to determine what an LSAT score of 160 in 2010 equals to as an LSAT score in 1970.

    I find this especially baffling with regards to the SAT-because one often reads (in popular press) how SAT scores are dropping (and consequent attempts to explain it: more students, including non-college ready students-are taking the test, more minorities/immigrants/non-english speakers are taking the test, and so on). The only way for this to make sense is that SAT tests, which differ from year to year (as all do) are presumed to measure ability according to some independent standard (rather than ability according to the particular test of the particular year it is taken, as I’ve already discussed).

    Why would ‘IQ test’ be different? Why isn’t comparing IQ test scores over time acknowledged as impossible, and as making the same flaw as ‘SAT tests over time’ , as seems pretty clear with ‘LSAT scores over time.’?

    joeyjoejoe

    Note: I’m sure one response would be that the test designers are pretty good at designing questions that are similar but not identical from one year to the next. A logic puzzle with little crosses rotated in patterns is not that different from a logic puzzle with little squiggly lines rotated in patterns, (and the word ‘regatta’ is roughly as difficult as ‘debilitating’) and so on. And this may be true over a year, or two, or five (a slight change to the puzzle, or two, or five). But over 85 years, I find it less convincing.

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  11. 5371 says:

    People who overestimate the importance of IQ as a universal key to the human mind are trapped by their own assumptions into overestimating the importance of the “Flynn effect”. It’s poetic justice, but has little to do with actual intelligence either way.

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    • Replies: @ben tillman

    People who overestimate the importance of IQ as a universal key to the human mind are trapped by their own assumptions into overestimating the importance of the “Flynn effect”.
     
    IQ itself is just a measurement or calculation (intelligence is the trait), and IQ tests can produce wildly different measurements of the same person's intelligence.
  12. Most high-tech companies give potential hires “programming tests”, but they say that they don’t want to bias in favor of a particular programming language or discipline. They want “the best athlete available” so to speak. So instead of asking you to code something they give a series of abstract logical puzzles to solve. These are obviously carefully contrived high-end IQ tests.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    My wife took an 8 month programming course at DePaul back in the 1990s that was highly successful year after year in placing its graduates in decent corporate jobs. The secret was that the entrance test was just an algebra exam.
  13. The Z Blog says: • Website

    The hierarchy of knowledge evolves over generations. An example I like to use is one from my youth. My grandfather was an amateur word worker and a professional steamfitter. He loved mechanical things so it was how he made his living and entertained himself. When I showed similar interests he would take me into his shop and teach me things.

    One day he is explaining to me how to layout a right angle and he uses the the expression “3-4-5″ to show how you can establish the 90-degree angle just using a tape measure. I popped up with “That’s the Pythagorean theorem” or something similar. He looked at me like I was speaking in tongues.

    It took him a minutes, but he finally remembered what I was talking about and he asked me a few countries to jog his memory. The fact is, he had no reason to remember the formal explanations for the daily math he used. He needed to know the practical application of it. I was never going to be a tradesman so knowing the formal names and proofs was important.

    If you look around, there are loads of examples like this. Reading from a tablet, for example, is a different experience than reading a book. In time, that difference will alter how people write to the point where books look like papyrus scrolls from the Bronze Age.

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    • Replies: @Popeye
    The Way of All Dark Things is an ancient Egyptian text that lists difference measurement values that relate to each other according to the Pythagorean Theorem, all the particulars completely accurate. However, the theorem itself was never stated in its abstract form of (a^2)+(b^2)=(c^2). This manuscript predates most Greek enquiry into math and definitely predates Pythagoras. Apparently, the Greek genius was in stating the general truth.
  14. Big Bill says:

    Another example. Thirty years ago I started searching massive “databases” for “text documents” using things called “keywords”, “fields” and “Boolean logic”.

    What specific terms would I use? What general terms? What fields? What combinations of fields? If I got so-so results from my first search, how could I tailor the search by dropping some search terms and adding new ones to get even better results. It was mentally demanding.

    The only people who were trained (sort of) to think this way were those with advanced degrees in library science.

    Now everybody does this every day across the planet as part of their daily routine. It is called “Googling”.

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    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    Steve,

    This is a good example of the problem with your theory because as more people are Googling, Google is working from the other direction to make it less necessary to think logically in order to Google effectively. Larry Page wants you to have the bank teller experience at the ATM, and they're working to make that happen in search.

    Basically, what I'm saying is that, in technology, there is not a single factor consistently changing over the course of the Flynn Effect's lifetime. The fact that more people are doing more searches today doesn't mean there are more people practicing more Boolean logic.

    An interesting test of your theory would be to see if the Flynn Effect is absent or diminished in specific communities, like the Amish.
  15. Trying to understand…

    Vocabulary is ”just” a materialized expression of language. Capacity to learn to talk is universal among humans without any defect in this area. Kids learn intuitively to talk when they are exposed to it. Again, repetitive, vocabulary is connected with language, of course. Even amerindians who never was exposed for vocabulary before will learn to write at least the basics. Language/vocabulary is hardwared among humans of all racial strains. May explain ”higher heritability”.

    Vocabulary may change during time, i.e, popular words in XIX will be less common in the end of XX century. Vocabulary follow contextual dominant culture.
    Vocabulary may be (again) very subjective and be dependent of social/cultural context.

    People without individuality or strong personality, will be more prone to be influenced by social/cultural (cognitive) contexts. There are a cognitive-potential plasticity where people with symmetric cognition and conformist personality can learn different cognitive activities and increase phenotypically their knowledge about certain ”things”.
    Today many people are literate but many them have superficial knowledge about words meaning and aplicability they use everyday. Words were created to communication and not to be precisely understood.

    Vocabulary ”heritability” changed little during XX century probably because it ever follow social/cultural context.

    To understand the essence of verbal intelligence or better semantic intelligence, the capacity to understand the meaning of words and ”things” (literal and abstract) that word capture and limitates in its own ”shape”, vocabulary size will be little less interesting than capacity to understand the meaning, i.e, use efficiently the vocabulary not just for communicate, but also for understand it and use it very well. This may explain anedotically some nonsense verbally and excessively complex ”academic jobs” created in the humanities.

    General intelligence, those who have similar/same symmetrical level for most of cognitive tasks (aka ”normal” ones), will tend to be less inner-motivated than someone who are very good in some cognitions and very bad in others. This explain partially the autism brightness or savant syndrome island genius.

    Other possibility is the constant actualization of iq tests, what it is mean***

    I think ( ;) ) actualization without global standardizations will create new Flynn Effects in the future where anyone will be able to understand what it happens.

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  16. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Perhaps today’s youngsters are just more familiar with Raven tests – and their ways – than previous generations of youngsters.
    Basically, someone who’s never encountered a Raven test in their life before, like a semi literate 1940s factory worker, and who is expected to do a whole sheaf of them in ten minutes flat, is at a disadvantage compared to someone who, inevitably, met the tests and their kind before, despite all this ‘culture free’ business.

    I’m sceptical if the ‘Flynn effect’ is anything real. It smacks of Lysenko or Lamarckism. Either genetic theory is not true or IQ tests are not true.

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    • Replies: @scrivener3
    I think if the Flynn Effect were due to increased familiarity with the test, then individual people's IQ's would go up with each testing over time. My understanding is that IQ remains surprisingly static from the first time that they see such an animal as an IQ test to the last time they are tested.

    Same would seem to apply to increased exposure to machine interfaces. I don't think any exercise has been proven to increase the IQ of anyone on a material basis.
    , @Stephen R. Diamond

    Basically, someone who’s never encountered a Raven test in their life before, like a semi literate 1940s factory worker, and who is expected to do a whole sheaf of them in ten minutes flat
     
    Ravens is untimed.
  17. Cryptogenic [AKA "Mr. Zeepie"] says:
    @anonymous coward

    Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.
     
    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam's Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are 'heritable' in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you're probably an already lost cause.

    If you know what answers an IQ test is looking for, you probably have a high IQ. This sort of trickery is subsumed into the IQ test.

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  18. Anon says: • Disclaimer

    Trans-gender and Trans-age.

    This beats all.

    Give him, her, or it the Courage Award.

    Age is ‘fluid’.

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  19. ”I think ( ;) ) actualization without global standardizations will create new Flynn Effects in the future where anyone will be able to understand what it happens.”

    Correcting: NO ONE will be able to understand what it happens.

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  20. peterike says:

    the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII

    There is thinking now that iron supplementation may have been a big mistake and may be responsible for many ill effects, including the obesity epidemic.

    http://freetheanimal.com/2015/06/enrichment-theory-everything.html

    the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012

    The best thing you can do now for speed improvement is move from a spinning hard drive to a solid state hard drive. Disk I/O constraints are more likely to slow you down than CPU constraints.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Right, solid state hard drives are great. But I got that feature in 2012, so when that laptop expired from too much coffee being spilled on it over the years, the 2015 replacement was no great thrill.
  21. res says:

    I don’t know if Moore’s Law is still in effect

    Remember that Moore’s law is about transistor density, not speed. The change (or lack thereof) you are seeing now is due to the demise of Dennard scaling in ~2005-2007. Look at how quickly clock frequencies increased for the years when you saw major performance improvements.
    CPUDB used to be good for getting up to date data like this http://cpudb.stanford.edu/
    but it seems to be gone. Here is a static picture up to 2007:

    Moore’s law operating without Dennard scaling has had two major consequences:
    Parallelism has become more important because we now have more, but not faster, transistors.
    Power dissipation has become a larger problem because we now have more, but not more efficient, transistors.

    Dennard scaling enabled a fantastic free lunch for decades (always faster, cheaper, less power just by shrinking feature size). The only reason I can think of that its demise has not received more attention is that it contradicts the technooptimist narrative.

    Regarding current computer performance, it seems like the best upgrade right now is an SSD if you don’t have one. My last upgrade cycle I just chose to add an SSD to my desktop.

    Some articles about Dennard scaling:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennard_scaling

    https://cartesianproduct.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/the-end-of-dennard-scaling/

    P.S. The other comments about software and bandwidth bloat are also highly relevant to speed perceptions.

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  22. @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    Have to agree with this one. 500,000 computer savvy autistic losers on 4chan can’t be wrong.

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    • Replies: @Exfernal
    It's fortunate that the preferred activity of those losers bears a striking similarity to your comment.
  23. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Moore’s Law predates Intel. He observed it at Fairchild, the company he founded earlier. Presumably he founded Intel in 1968 to exploit the Law. Specifically, if he was going to make lots of transistors, he ought to organize them so that the customer wanted them in large batches (integrated circuits).

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "Moore’s Law predates Intel. He observed it at Fairchild, the company he founded earlier. Presumably he founded Intel in 1968 to exploit the Law."

    Can you imagine a more exciting business opportunity than starting Intel to capitalize on Moore's Law? You've figured out a pattern that has been happening and you think you have what it takes to keep it happening, and it's going to the be the biggest thing in the world.

  24. What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I’d love to hear the geezers here comment. …

    Kids today, including 20-something young fellows with whom I’ve interacted, are worse at hands-on hardware do-it-yourself activities, including fixing cars, carpentry, plumbing, and soldering electrical parts.

    Software hacking has replaced hardware hacking. The drawback is, this world is ultimately a hardware world instead of virtual reality.

    Also, fewer and fewer young peepul have any experience with hunting and fishing, nor can they drive cars with manual transmissions. “What’s that third foot pedal for?”

    One of my pet hates is the Google driverless car. What a thrill, riding in one’s low power, unsexy, dweebie cartoon car while absorbed in the Net and checking for messages.

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    • Replies: @Lugash
    I think on average mechanical skills are decreasing, but on the right hand side of the distribution they're increasing. For most people modern cars are pretty bulletproof and self monitoring, so changing the spark plugs or adjusting the timing doesn't make much sense. For guys who like to tinker, there's never been more knowledge available for free.
  25. @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    I’m a geezer and here’s my two cents.

    True that cars today are extremely complicated compared to old cars. But fixing them is comparatively easy (if your large Euro hands can get into the small Asian spaces). That’s because to diagnose a problem all you need do is plug in your analyzer to the (standardized) port located beneath the dash in every contemporary auto and allow it to diagnose whatever ails the beast. Then you buy the Gizmo, unbolt the old one and bolt the new one in.

    There’s nothing to “fix”. No one e.g. replaces bearings or brushes in alternators anymore. The worn-out component is just sent to a factory that specializes in rebuilds. Everything is refurbished and the rebuild is to all intents and purposes, new.

    As I alluded to above, the real problem is accessing stuff in engine compartments cramped with sideways engines and transmissions, air conditioners etc. Lord help you if you have to change the spark plugs in a full sized American pickup truck; the two located under the dash are unreachable.

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  26. Anon7 says:
    @NOTA
    Moore's law has turned sideways now--the individual processors aren't getting much faster (you can't speed up the clock much), but they're putting more processors and more special-purpose hardware on the chip. That doesn't do much to speed up the mostly sequential stuff we spend a lot of time doing on our computers.

    On the other hand, you could get perfectly fine performance in a word processor on 1980s machines--Word is slow on old machines because it's a bloated mess, not because there's some real need for a very fast processor to do what Word Perfect on a 16 MHz 286 could do just fine.

    “Word is slow on old machines because it’s a bloated mess, not because there’s some real need for a very fast processor to do what Word Perfect on a 16 MHz 286 could do just fine.”

    Darn kids and their reliance on overpowered hardware. All you really needed was Apple Writer running on a 6502 processor running at 1 MHz… You probably thought you needed upper AND lower case characters…

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    • Replies: @Former Darfur
    There's a great interview with Paul Lutus, the guy who wrote AppleWriter, on a retro podcast out a couple months ago.

    I remember talking to the old hoodoo Don Lancaster some thirty years ago and him expounding on how this was the singularly finest piece of software in the history of computers. It was interesting to hear Lutus readily admit that Applewriter was replaced by a program that was, in his own opinion, superior, not because it was so elegantly coded in raw assembler, but because it did a lot more for the customer.

    Applewriter was Lutus' first substantial piece of software, and he had no experience with programming when he decided to write it. It was, like most useful 8 bit box applications, entirely done in assembler. It took him several months of full time work. Although Applewriter had somewhat fallen from favor even on the Apple II/IIGS platform, the change to the Motorola on the Mac killed it completely. Not one line of code could be reused.

    About fifteen years after that, I was at a demo for NeXT. Using the toolset included in NeXT Develpoer, very similar to what is still used on MacOS X, the demo presenter went through and coded a very basic but functional word processor in about 45 minutes. It was several megabytes in size as a compiled executable, but it was actually four programs in one: it would run on any NeXT box whether it had a x86, 68K, Sparc or HP processor.

    Which was the more impressive code?
  27. AndrewR says:

    “A child gets a maximum score for replying that dogs and rabbits are “mammals.” A kid in 1947 who had never seen a nature documentary on TV would likely have said “They have four legs” or something else more concrete than the Linnaean category “mammals.”

    Are we talking about a four year old or a twelve year old? I’m reasonably certain that schoolchildren learned basic biology in school by the mid 20th century. No documentaries necessary.

    And even a kid who had never been to school presumably would have noticed that a lizard seems more similar to a snake than to a dog even though a lizard has four legs and a snake doesn’t. Distinguishing between vertebrate classes is not exactly counterintuitive or esoteric.

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  28. Luke Lea says: • Website

    I’d be interested in Steve’s opinion about whether a lot of this new smart technology might also be making us dumber in certain practical ways? People depend on GPS to get around, which means they no longer have to remember directions or know how to read a map. The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends’ telephone numbers. Kids no longer make their own toys or even play with toys or outdoor imaginative games, playing computer games instead. Drawing is less important with all the graphic programs available, even basic arithmetic is no longer necessary because you can do it on the web. Google translate deals with the problem of understanding foreign languages. Voice commands mean you don’t have to know how to write, let alone spell. People don’t read books for entertainment so much anymore, watching Game of Thrones instead of reading War and Peace. Etc. Over time we might evolve to be less intelligent due to these technologies.

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    • Replies: @SFG
    I've thought that as well. (I know, I'm not Steve.)

    Here's the thing: for evolution to occur, there has to be differential success in reproduction. So that means that in the future, humanity will be descended from pickup artists.
    , @AshTon
    Socrates said that the written word was the enemy of memory - once you write something down you no longer need to remember it. He had a point.

    All modern technologies build on this problem. You no longer need to know to do anything - you just rely on your smartphone. You just need to know how to use Google. The flabby mind which results is just like the flabby body in the age of mechanized transport.
    , @rod1963
    It has made us less intelligent or should I say less useful. Turn off electricity and most people will revert to the Dark Ages style of living real fast, not 19th century but 10th century because most people no know almost nothing in terms of knowledge and technique that is of concrete usefulness.

    In the 40's, 50's, 60's and up to the 70's it was common for fathers to have some sort of workshop(a real man's cave, fake ones have X-boxes, pool tables and TV's). Boys weren't spending all their free time on the computer or playing games, many were doing hobbies or learning things in their father's garage or out playing.

    That's gone today. Schools no longer have shop classes of any kind or even PE. Had to make room for computers to prepare kids to be cube drones.

    Even the magazines that catered to the DIY like Popular Mechanics and Science morphed into magazines for the pantsload set, on par with Maxim. That is not progress, it's regress to infantilism.

    And plenty of brains are getting concerned with the damage of exposing young children to Ipods and the like. Books like Idisorder and others detail the damage the digital revolution has done to adults and kids.
    , @Anonymous
    " The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends’ telephone numbers."

    You don't have to, but there still exists many advantages to having memorized phone numbers. Likewise, GPS systems can be quite buggy, so the ability to read maps or remember directions to a place is still very valuable. I wouldn't drive to any location with which I am unfamiliar without a good map or at least very good verbal directions. Also, maps have the advantage of being able to provide big picture views of where you're going.
    , @Anonymous
    Now a days these youngsters don't need to dig a hole to defacate in. They have those new fancy water closets.
  29. @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    Social skills and mechanical skills both. But the former is increasingly important for career advancement. Maybe it was even back in the day, but I’m inclined to think the increasing female presence in the workplace has increased the requirements for social skills. Slyness, tact, charisma- these are the things that get you ahead, even in highly intellectual fields. Because in every field, there is a baseline intellectual cutoff, but once you cross that cutoff, you are competing with people of similar intellectual ability. Then it becomes the soft skills that distinguish you from the herd.

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  30. Mike1 says:

    There are studies showing the Flynn effect is now in reverse: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2730791/Are-STUPID-Britons-people-IQ-decline.html

    I find the argument that the less intelligent are out-breeding the intelligent very persuasive. It is visibly happening in the different countries I’m connected to.

    I think Steve’s point about technology is true but it has the same limits as nutrition. Once people are fed intelligence gains are likely to tough going from this source. There is a big difference with tech however. Tech is consciously trying to replace people’s brain functions and is succeeding. People are developing a genuine helplessness with a lot of basic functions. People not only cannot use a map anymore but they can’t find their way to an address – even if they have been there many times – without the directions on their phone. In other words, their mental geographical map of a city is not there.

    I’ve also found younger employees of mine struggle with the concept that there is a difference between the image they project and the reality of what they do. They are so used to published image (facebook, twitter etc) being real to them and their peers they don’t get it when I measure the reality of their performance.

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  31. Anon7 says:

    I’m intrigued by the idea that human beings are in some sense being trained or habituated to technology or its interfaces, and that this training is giving them a leg up on IQ tests.

    So, you could go in several directions for more evidence. Were any of the generations of men who designed or programmed Jacquard looms in the 19th century more likely to make engineering or scientific advances? How about the sons of telegraph operators? Steady jobs gets them to better nutrition, probably.

    OTOH, maybe habituation to machine interfaces actually results in simplified thinking with a narrower instruction set. (Making light in the darkness by flipping a binary switch on a flashlight obviates the need for a whole set of skills like starting a fire and then making a torch.) So, our brains are being transformed into RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Chip) chips, which process a limited number of tasks more quickly.

    Fun to think about, anyway.

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    • Replies: @Anonym
    For those smart enough, better tools enable more powerful engineering and analysis. Instead of wasting your time performing basic calculations with a slide rule, or quickly churning out a few solutions with an HP48g, you build a spreadsheet or similar automated tool to find an optimal solution.
  32. WGG [AKA "World's Greatest Grandson"] says:

    What Steve says makes sense, but other factors could be at play. Possibly due to Cultural Marxism, generations are getting more cynical (perhaps specifically guided toward their own traditions) but the “about what” is irrelevant. Cynicism is a form of critical thinking, which is related to pattern recognition. All three require a person to “read between the lines.” Then again, so does P.C. oriented self censorship. That has the added bonus of forcing individuals to become accurate predictors of the outcomes of certain future behavior. Knowing what you can say to whom is an essential skill in today’s world, and it is abstract, critical, and pattern oriented.

    The theory about computer systems seems as though it should have crested around 2000 and be falling due to better, idiot-proof software and Apple style interface.

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    >>That has the added bonus of forcing individuals to become accurate predictors of the outcomes of certain future behavior.<<

    At age 7 my son was explaining to me how he says one thing to his teachers (the Politically Correct thing, on eg Climate Change) and the opposite to me. I just can't imagine thinking like that in 1980 when I was his age.
  33. jjbees says:

    One thing I’ve noticed over time is how rare material with a high vocabulary demand is.
    For example, Steve, you tend to be quite prolix and make use of a good number of rare words, as does your commentariat. Use of rare words tends to be a dead give-away for people who read much, and like to read. In daily conversation I will sometimes throw a rare word in edgewise, but there really isn’t an audience for it outside of working for the Financial Times or commenting on your blogs. When the modern world is based on taking multiple choice tests, flicking your way through a smartphone menu, and vegging out in front of Netflix, what does it mean for human linguistic capacity? Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?

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    • Replies: @Anonym
    No. As long as compulsive readers are procreating there will be compulsive readers. And if they are prone to seeking out the best reading material then they will naturally develop a rich vocabulary.
    , @AndrewR
    "You talk like a fag and your shit's all retarded."
    , @Carl
    Huh? Steve is not prolix at all. Nor does he use uncommon words all that much. What blog have you been reading?!
    , @Melendwyr
    "Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?"

    No, the quality of human thoughts is degraded from our lack of ability to think systematically. Language expands to fill the needs of thought. When language is languishing, it's because there's no thinking going on behind it.
  34. strictly speaking, moore’s law isn’t about speed. it’s about transistor density. transistor density is still following an exponential function like moore predicted. clock speed, aka computer speed, stalled during the pentium 4 era (early aughties), ~3ghz. today that’s just gone up to about ~4ghz on a small number of hand picked chips. most chips, especially laptop and mobile still top out at 2.5-3ghz. single thread performance on cmos is dead. something else will probably come along to start up moore’s law again. it will be callled something else. it will still be an exponential function. it too will eventually top out. rinse, lather, repeat. just like mechanical, relay, tube, transistor were all riding exponential functions of performance. what can’t go on forever, won’t go on forever.

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  35. @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    “What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?”

    Middle-class teenagers can’t make instant macaroni ‘n’ cheese out of a box; its too daunting a task for them. The only way they know how to eat, is have to food put before them by some adult, whether familial or commercial. My de facto wife grew up very poor, and used to catch her own fish, clean them, and eat them (because otherwise, she’d be eating Saltines all day), but a lot of kids now would probably be too repulsed by the thought of food that didn’t come from a commercial establishment, to even be able eat such fare, let alone procure & prepare it. Her son is very good with hand tools and the like, and there seems to be a current of nerd culture that still values those kinds of hands-on skills, but kids today are pretty depressing, overall. One thing I will say, is they seem far less interested in drugs & alcohol than my teenaged, Gen X cohorts were, in the late 1980s, so that’s liable to accrue to their long-term advantage. But many of them don’t seem to merely play videogames for a few hours each day; videogames have become their lives, and other than to go to work and/or school, they do not leave the house.

    I think the Flynn Effect can be at least partly explained by Rubert Sheldrake’s morphogenetic field theory. And before anyone feels the need to denounce that as “pseudoscience,” yes, we know its an as yet unproven theory. But it does explain a Hell of a lot, and should not be dismissed out of hand, merely because its perceived to be “weird.” I recommend reading Dr. Sheldrake’s “Dogs Who Know When Their Owners are Coming Home,” before dismissing the notion altogether.

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  36. It’s true, we have been reformed/deformed by technique (in the Jacques Ellul sense). There was no topical-sensational hook for this seemingly boring post so I had to suppress the TL;DR auto-response

    Anyway a lot of this stuff about humans adapting to the interface or The Matrix or what have you, was already said about TV (which computer power was supposed to “save us from” lol) and before that about color photographs. Modern “computer use” resembles vegging out in front of the tube more than ever

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  37. Humans have adapted to the bitstream so well we don’t have any middle-man jobs left for the humans to perform. Hence, the cat video apocalypse

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  38. OT: The Atlantic is going in with the pro-refugee narrative:

    Highlighting an attack on a candidate for mayor:

    “According to reports, her attacker was a 44-year-old Cologne man, who had been unemployed for several years. The assailant told police that “he wanted to and did commit this act because of anti-foreigner motives.” Another woman, an aide to Reker, was also seriously wounded and three others were lightly injured as they sought to help fend off the attacker.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/germany-cologne-mayor-attack-henriette-reker/411139/

    Comparing Xenophobia in Western vs. Eastern Europe

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/xenophobia-eastern-europe-refugees/410800/

    It’s funny what crimes and topics the media chooses to highlight and report on.

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    • Replies: @MEH 0910
    Conversely OT: ‘It Makes Me Very Sad’ Says Open Borders Activist Brutally Stabbed by Migrant Gang

    A pro-migrant, open borders activist is reported to be “very sad” after being stabbed twice in the back by a gang of “Arabs” as he stood outside a pizzeria in Dresden, east Germany.
     
  39. Lugash says:

    One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

    I think there’s a finite amount of IT/computer/tech knowledge that you can mentally store. New technologies also break existing user interface expectations, some by necessity, some by marketing larks(I’m looking at you Windows 8). I’ve got Unix, Windows and Android stored, but I don’t have any more room for iOS or OSX. My tech illiterate parents laugh at me when I flop around on the latter two.

    But similar information technology developments in this century have not struck me as fun at all to learn about. On Twitter, for example, I’m basically clueless about whether I’m replying to one person or to thousands. Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.

    Twitter blows. As an interface between 140 character SMS and computers it worked, but it sucks past that. You can’t thread messages, conversations are split up, search sucks and the mobile clients all seem to have the annoying habit of losing your place and taking you to the top of your feed.

    A lot of the old technologies just worked better. Using NNTP instead of commenting systems would be a VAST improvement(sorry Mr. Unz), XMPP and IRC were better for chat and plain old email works best for ‘direct messaging’.

    Read More
    • Replies: @snorlax

    I’ve got Unix, Windows and Android stored, but I don’t have any more room for iOS or OSX.
     
    OS X is a BSD internally. So if you know Unix you know OS X. If you don't like the GUI just open up the terminal and hack away.
    , @SFG
    My whole thing with social media is it seems awfully easy to pull a Justine Sacco and lose your job and be mocked by the whole world (making it harder to find a new one) over one stupid tweet.
  40. Langley says:

    “The founders of the company where I worked were superbly intelligent at dealing with human psychology, but they found arbitrary machine logic daunting.”

    Is it possible that the culture fair (as Cattell always called them) sub-tests have the same arbitrary logic?

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  41. Seems like you guys are out of touch with where the action is in software engineering today– the emphasis is all on Malthusian concerns like battery life, because the device has to mine as much circumstantial data in its short existence as possible, rather than help some big shot who never sees the electric bill calculate pi to 5 trillion digits. Modern apps that are for work, i.e. not games, use streamlined graphical libs that require fewer CPU cycles and dispense with the fancy gaudy flourishes that typified Windows XP. Storage became unbelievably cheap first but then so did compression & deduplication. About the only place resources are splurged is in photo/screen resolution, which may have already passed the diminishing-returns threshold practically and statistically. When the memristors come online we won’t even have to burn up energy-hogging operating memory for cache purposes any more.

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  42. Zach says:
    @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    For one thing, how many pull-ups can the average 14-year-old do? How many could the average 14-year-old do in 1995?

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  43. SFG says:
    @Luke Lea
    I'd be interested in Steve's opinion about whether a lot of this new smart technology might also be making us dumber in certain practical ways? People depend on GPS to get around, which means they no longer have to remember directions or know how to read a map. The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends' telephone numbers. Kids no longer make their own toys or even play with toys or outdoor imaginative games, playing computer games instead. Drawing is less important with all the graphic programs available, even basic arithmetic is no longer necessary because you can do it on the web. Google translate deals with the problem of understanding foreign languages. Voice commands mean you don't have to know how to write, let alone spell. People don't read books for entertainment so much anymore, watching Game of Thrones instead of reading War and Peace. Etc. Over time we might evolve to be less intelligent due to these technologies.

    I’ve thought that as well. (I know, I’m not Steve.)

    Here’s the thing: for evolution to occur, there has to be differential success in reproduction. So that means that in the future, humanity will be descended from pickup artists.

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    AIR from the research, Humanity was becoming descended from PUAs ca 1920-1970, but then widespread contraception & abortion put the kibosh on that.
  44. Three plus years ago, I wrote about (and you linked), The Gap in the GRE, observing that on the (now old) GRE, fewer than 10-12% ever got over 600 on the Verbal. That seems related. High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don’t really know what to do with them. Yet I’m pretty sure it’s my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.

    Also related, I think: the increasing schism between high and low IQ TV shows. Read TV critics today, and you’d think the #1 scripted TV show didn’t exist, whilst they’re obsessing over TV shows like Mad Men and Game of Thrones with barely a fraction of the ratings or watchers. They can do this, of course, because the critically acclaimed shows have the higher ad rates and the more expensive audiences.

    And the black/white difference in top rated TV shows—I can’t find a link right now, but as I recall they are very different. Likewise, the late night shows are increasingly targeted to a high IQ audience. That was the major difference between Jay Leno vs Letterman/everyone else; Jay’s comedy was generally set about 10 IQ points lower than the others (you’ve written about that, too). Reality shows are targeted more to lower IQs. And all of this seems more verbal.

    Looking at your list, I see a connection to the skills/knowledge debate in education, and it relates to my own experiences. The complaint by the knowledge folk–Don Hirsch and the rest–is that we don’t teach knowledge, instead focusing on relatively empty “skills”. I’ve pointed out that the kids don’t seem to retain knowledge, so we seek to increase engagement by increasing skills (whether explicitly or not). That last is my opinion, but another big gun in this area,Grant Wiggins, made a similar point. It’s not that people like Grant and me think knowledge is unimportant; it’s just incredibly difficult to teach.

    So the list shows that we’ve increased the skills, the processing side of things, but haven’t made much of a dent in knowledge. Which suggests two things: 1) skills are, indeed, easier to teach, probably because of the tremendous environmental changes in tech and 2) knowledge is really important to overall IQ.

    Unfortunately, one thing that would make it easier to transmit knowledge and possibly improve the content base of low IQ folks would be an agreed upon body of knowledge. That’s politically impossible, which is why Hirsch’s proffered content is constantly blasted.

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    • Replies: @cthulhu

    High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don’t really know what to do with them. Yet I’m pretty sure it’s my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.
     
    My SAT and ACT scores (from the late '70s) were pretty high and very close on the verbal and math / science sections (my SAT math and verbal were only 10 points different). I went on to do pretty advanced math in the physics / engineering track in college. I agree that high verbal IQ helps in math - symbolic manipulation is related to language, and no less than Steven Pinker has pointed out that counting systems, required to develop arithmetic, hijack the brain's language module in the service of numbers. But for me, applying all of that math in the physics and engineering disciplines requires a lot of nonverbal visualization. Often I'll get into something like a mental flow state where I see the relationships in purely visual, abstract ways, that guide me to the approach I need for solving a problem, and it is very difficult to describe such things in words. I don't think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times.
    , @Pat Casey
    Regarding knowledge that's hard to teach to the less intelligent, consider what Impressionism was after at the end of the day: an impression of the impression that captures the real image that leaves an impression. It's simply true that Monet leaves a greater impression on people than anything at least two periods prior, and that's demonstrable if only because it bears the opinion of the less intelligent. What I remember from a year of intensive special-ed for auditory processing disorder in third grade is what my pretty teacher looked like. But seriously, I believe you are right that knowledge is hard to teach---but because it can mostly only be shown. I would just show them art all day and get them talking about it, and trust that if the art leaves an impression on you it will on them. But that's just my impression.
    , @Stephen R. Diamond
    I agree with much that you say about teaching skill versus content, but I can't see how it can be literally true that "we [still] don’t really know what to do with [high verbal IQ]." For the most part, high verbal IQ means high IQ. I recall an old study where eminent scientists were given a beefed up version of the SAT/GRE, but with a Spatial aptitude test in addition to the usual Verbal and Mathematics. Scientists were grouped as physical science, biology, and social science. Physical scientists were high spatial biologists and social scientists only above average. All groups were very high Verbal; physical scientists were highest. (This parallels results - last I checked - on the Miller Analogies verbal test where physical science students score highest.)

    Verbal intelligence is mostly just intelligence. I think what you are describing might be more perspicuously termed the problem of those with high intelligence but low general visualization ability. Such folks might actually be described as having a spatio-visual deficit - a development disorder affecting spatial processing, such as what is sometimes termed "right-hemisphere" learning disability.

    There is a curious divide between clinicians and factor-analysts on the significant of "tilted" scores, the clinicians viewing this as (at least prima facie) evidence of dysfunction.

  45. dearieme says:

    “The Flynn Effect of rising raw scores on IQ tests is one of the most interesting phenomena in all the human sciences.”

    Let me break that into two bits.

    (i) The study of intelligence is one of the few areas of social science to yield replicable, powerful, and interesting experimental results.

    (ii) And it is scientific enough that it generates interesting new questions. For instance, the tests are consistent enough to identify a clear trend with time that demands explanation.

    For what it’s worth my views on IQ are (a) Only anti-scientific loonies deny the success of study in this area, and (b) But there are some obsessives around who grotesquely exaggerate the importance of IQ in many aspects of life.

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  46. cthulhu says:

    Louis Terman’s son Fred Terman (1900-1982), a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, was the perhaps the single most important figure in the rise of Silicon Valley. The mentor of Hewlett and Packard, he largely invented the model of Stanford grad students like Larry Page and Sergey Brin starting up high tech firms like Google.

    A quibble, but Tom Wolfe’s marvelous profile of Robert Noyce – one of Shockley’s original recruits to Shockley Semiconductor, the co-inventor of the integrated circuit, co-founder of Intel – makes a strong case for Noyce as the father of Silicon Valley and startup culture. The Noyce-led defection of seven engineers from Shockley, their use of venture capital to form Fairchild Semiconductor, the culture that Noyce instilled at Fairchild and then at Intel…all laid the foundation for Silicon Valley as it has existed for the last 40 years.

    The profile was originally published in Esquire‘s 50th anniversary issue in 1983, but can also be found in Wolfe’s Hooking Up collection, published in 2000. The collection also includes some of Wolfe’s thoughts on neuroscience as it relates to religion. Recommended.

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  47. IQ tests have been on the right side of history all along……..

    Ha ha!!, that’s an absolutely pro-level troll, Steve, an endzone sack dance of proportions most epic. Brilliant, sir.

    I’m not as enamored as you are with the value of IQ scores, because brain speed (the ability to quickly access memories) and creativity (the ability to make associations and connections between apparently disparate things) are far more important to create and maintain successful relationships with people, which is the source of most people’s happiness; abstract analytical skills are dry and boring by comparison, but do indicate that someone will be a more effective and reliable corporate worker bee. So should we put IQ on a pedestal because productivity?

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  48. cthulhu says:
    @education realist
    Three plus years ago, I wrote about (and you linked), The Gap in the GRE, observing that on the (now old) GRE, fewer than 10-12% ever got over 600 on the Verbal. That seems related. High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don't really know what to do with them. Yet I'm pretty sure it's my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.

    Also related, I think: the increasing schism between high and low IQ TV shows. Read TV critics today, and you'd think the #1 scripted TV show didn't exist, whilst they're obsessing over TV shows like Mad Men and Game of Thrones with barely a fraction of the ratings or watchers. They can do this, of course, because the critically acclaimed shows have the higher ad rates and the more expensive audiences.

    And the black/white difference in top rated TV shows---I can't find a link right now, but as I recall they are very different. Likewise, the late night shows are increasingly targeted to a high IQ audience. That was the major difference between Jay Leno vs Letterman/everyone else; Jay's comedy was generally set about 10 IQ points lower than the others (you've written about that, too). Reality shows are targeted more to lower IQs. And all of this seems more verbal.

    Looking at your list, I see a connection to the skills/knowledge debate in education, and it relates to my own experiences. The complaint by the knowledge folk--Don Hirsch and the rest--is that we don't teach knowledge, instead focusing on relatively empty "skills". I've pointed out that the kids don't seem to retain knowledge, so we seek to increase engagement by increasing skills (whether explicitly or not). That last is my opinion, but another big gun in this area,Grant Wiggins, made a similar point. It's not that people like Grant and me think knowledge is unimportant; it's just incredibly difficult to teach.

    So the list shows that we've increased the skills, the processing side of things, but haven't made much of a dent in knowledge. Which suggests two things: 1) skills are, indeed, easier to teach, probably because of the tremendous environmental changes in tech and 2) knowledge is really important to overall IQ.

    Unfortunately, one thing that would make it easier to transmit knowledge and possibly improve the content base of low IQ folks would be an agreed upon body of knowledge. That's politically impossible, which is why Hirsch's proffered content is constantly blasted.

    High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don’t really know what to do with them. Yet I’m pretty sure it’s my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.

    My SAT and ACT scores (from the late ’70s) were pretty high and very close on the verbal and math / science sections (my SAT math and verbal were only 10 points different). I went on to do pretty advanced math in the physics / engineering track in college. I agree that high verbal IQ helps in math – symbolic manipulation is related to language, and no less than Steven Pinker has pointed out that counting systems, required to develop arithmetic, hijack the brain’s language module in the service of numbers. But for me, applying all of that math in the physics and engineering disciplines requires a lot of nonverbal visualization. Often I’ll get into something like a mental flow state where I see the relationships in purely visual, abstract ways, that guide me to the approach I need for solving a problem, and it is very difficult to describe such things in words. I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    "I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times."

    But it might have been very relevant to setting up the (mental) preconditions. [The ability to set up the preconditions for productive thought over extended periods is potentially captured only by the "enculturated" tests, which (in effect) infer reasoning ability from the knowledge it fosters.]
  49. snorlax says:
    @Lugash
    One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

    I think there's a finite amount of IT/computer/tech knowledge that you can mentally store. New technologies also break existing user interface expectations, some by necessity, some by marketing larks(I'm looking at you Windows 8). I've got Unix, Windows and Android stored, but I don't have any more room for iOS or OSX. My tech illiterate parents laugh at me when I flop around on the latter two.

    But similar information technology developments in this century have not struck me as fun at all to learn about. On Twitter, for example, I’m basically clueless about whether I’m replying to one person or to thousands. Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.

    Twitter blows. As an interface between 140 character SMS and computers it worked, but it sucks past that. You can't thread messages, conversations are split up, search sucks and the mobile clients all seem to have the annoying habit of losing your place and taking you to the top of your feed.

    A lot of the old technologies just worked better. Using NNTP instead of commenting systems would be a VAST improvement(sorry Mr. Unz), XMPP and IRC were better for chat and plain old email works best for 'direct messaging'.

    I’ve got Unix, Windows and Android stored, but I don’t have any more room for iOS or OSX.

    OS X is a BSD internally. So if you know Unix you know OS X. If you don’t like the GUI just open up the terminal and hack away.

    Read More
  50. Old Jew says:
    @Romanian
    Part of the reason why things don't appear to be faster is related, I think, to how resource intensive many applications have become. Part of it is functionality (especially science applications, and videogaming), another part are useless frills and the last, but very substantial, part is simple laziness and sloppiness on the part of programmers, many of whom are spoiled compared to yesteryear.

    I don't really use my Word any differently than I did around 15 years ago, when I first started using it for school, except for some SmartArt and charts, but the Word of today is a lot more resource intensive. If you're the average user, you're basically still typing away at the same Word as you had before, only N times more resource intensive. It has graphics, way more options you might never use, shininess etc. I have a free program for automatically introducing diacritics in Romanian texts when someone hands me something written without the special marks. The thing weighs 50 Megs and has every function I have ever needed in Word except charts, including a very good orthographic checker. And it runs like a dream.

    I do, however, notice the change in power when it comes to computer game graphics, although I confess I've ceased to become enthusiastic about it around 2011, since the last big qualitative leap (to my mind). Even there, the progress is less than it could be, because of the parallelism with console markets, which need even the newest games to run on the same years old hardware without too much of a noticeable difference in quality and speed compared to PCs (to avoid losing sales), which leads to compromises on the PC version's part. Though we are now in the new generation of consoles, so there is a lot of room for everyone to grow.

    Regarding the Internet, there was this article once about how pages would load faster in the past than they do now with broadband because the limitations on bandwidth forced website designers to keep things simple. In addition to the cutesy graphics, photos, widgets etc, you also have a suite of programs running in the background, deciding if video should start playing, what happens when you roll your cursor over an interactive commercial, what pop-ups you should have. Mobile versions of websites are, to a certain degree, a throwback to that more innocent age of bandwidth restriction.

    Dear Romanian,

    I have one of the problems you described. A minor local paper in my forlorn Bukowina town, asked me, to reminisce about my school days (“Amintiri din Copilarie”). I have the standard USA keyboard on this, my laptop. What is that 50 Megs software that will insert the Romanian diacritics ( ă, î, ș, ț ).

    How to obtain and where?

    Otherwise as I wrote before, I am a command line and UNIX vi (gvim) person, and thus fully agree with your views on the proliferation of fatware and bloatware.

    sf

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    • Replies: @Romanian
    http://www.download3k.com/System-Utilities/Text-Editors/Download-AutoCorect.html

    I hope this helps! It's not perfect, though, especially with ambiguous phrasing, but it gets the job done. Of course, no one I know has an actual Romanian keyboard. You just turn on the option for diacritics in the keyboard options and have the [ ] ; ' \ keys become the letters, but I understand that it's a chore and it really impacts your typing speed if you're not used to it.
  51. Lot says:

    People today deal far more often each day than in the past with semi-intelligent machines who can only be dealt with in a certain way according to their logic.

    That’s a good way of putting it.

    I think the trend may start reversing soon. What’s hot right now is making machines that don’t require precise input from human beings. So Siri and Google’s voice rec software can parse increasingly inexact spoken language.

    But similar information technology developments in this century have not struck me as fun at all to learn about.

    That’s because they are increasingly useless for people who are not teens, social-butterfly girls with no or easy jobs, or self-promoting narcissists. I bet you love using the map software on your cell phone, that’s my vote for the single best development of the decade.

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  52. @Romanian
    Part of the reason why things don't appear to be faster is related, I think, to how resource intensive many applications have become. Part of it is functionality (especially science applications, and videogaming), another part are useless frills and the last, but very substantial, part is simple laziness and sloppiness on the part of programmers, many of whom are spoiled compared to yesteryear.

    I don't really use my Word any differently than I did around 15 years ago, when I first started using it for school, except for some SmartArt and charts, but the Word of today is a lot more resource intensive. If you're the average user, you're basically still typing away at the same Word as you had before, only N times more resource intensive. It has graphics, way more options you might never use, shininess etc. I have a free program for automatically introducing diacritics in Romanian texts when someone hands me something written without the special marks. The thing weighs 50 Megs and has every function I have ever needed in Word except charts, including a very good orthographic checker. And it runs like a dream.

    I do, however, notice the change in power when it comes to computer game graphics, although I confess I've ceased to become enthusiastic about it around 2011, since the last big qualitative leap (to my mind). Even there, the progress is less than it could be, because of the parallelism with console markets, which need even the newest games to run on the same years old hardware without too much of a noticeable difference in quality and speed compared to PCs (to avoid losing sales), which leads to compromises on the PC version's part. Though we are now in the new generation of consoles, so there is a lot of room for everyone to grow.

    Regarding the Internet, there was this article once about how pages would load faster in the past than they do now with broadband because the limitations on bandwidth forced website designers to keep things simple. In addition to the cutesy graphics, photos, widgets etc, you also have a suite of programs running in the background, deciding if video should start playing, what happens when you roll your cursor over an interactive commercial, what pop-ups you should have. Mobile versions of websites are, to a certain degree, a throwback to that more innocent age of bandwidth restriction.

    No, they’ve plateaued(*), we lost the /speed/ part of Moore’s Law around 2005:

    http://www.gotw.ca/publications/concurrency-ddj.htm

    Moore’s Law still holds for transistor count, but modern CPUs barely eke out clock improvements, and chip makers put their engineering effort into reducing power consumption and adding things like on-chip graphics.

    (* 4 vowels in a row!)

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  53. AshTon says:
    @Luke Lea
    I'd be interested in Steve's opinion about whether a lot of this new smart technology might also be making us dumber in certain practical ways? People depend on GPS to get around, which means they no longer have to remember directions or know how to read a map. The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends' telephone numbers. Kids no longer make their own toys or even play with toys or outdoor imaginative games, playing computer games instead. Drawing is less important with all the graphic programs available, even basic arithmetic is no longer necessary because you can do it on the web. Google translate deals with the problem of understanding foreign languages. Voice commands mean you don't have to know how to write, let alone spell. People don't read books for entertainment so much anymore, watching Game of Thrones instead of reading War and Peace. Etc. Over time we might evolve to be less intelligent due to these technologies.

    Socrates said that the written word was the enemy of memory – once you write something down you no longer need to remember it. He had a point.

    All modern technologies build on this problem. You no longer need to know to do anything – you just rely on your smartphone. You just need to know how to use Google. The flabby mind which results is just like the flabby body in the age of mechanized transport.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    -"Socrates said that the written word was the enemy of memory – once you write something down you no longer need to remember it. He had a point."

    I find that when I write something down the chance of my remembering it increases, whether I've consciously made a point of remembering it or not.
  54. Lot says:

    I don’t know if Moore’s Law is still in effect (the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012, the first time in my personal computer owning career, which goes back to 1984, that a new computer wasn’t tangibly faster).

    This is an atypical situation. The Macbook Air 2012 and 2015 models, for the base version, actually saw a slight decrease in clock speed and a very tiny increase in overall performance, which is kind of exceptional for a three year period. In fact nearly all the specs are very similar:

    Mid-2012: https://support.apple.com/kb/SP670?locale=en_US
    Current: http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/specs.html

    What Apple seems to have done is decided that for the base 2012 model, which did have a lot of updates over 2011, was plenty good and that it was not worth the effort with declining laptop sales to deal with any further big upgrades for a few years, and instead focus on cutting prices and raising profits.

    So your 2012 model was a high end ultra book, and your nearly identical 2015 model is mid-range and had an MSRP (for the basic 13 inch model) $999 rather than $1199.

    The biggest improvement between 2012 and 2015 is a combination of a better battery and a processor that uses it less, meaning much improved battery life. It also will run cooler and last longer for that reason.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lot
    2012 was also the peak of the Intel and Microsoft freakout over people ditching computers for tablets or chromebook type laptops that use ARM CPUs, which are cheaper than Intel's and use less power. For this reason Intel's focus then was heavily on price and power consumption, not speed.

    Microsoft also released the awful Windows RT that uses ARM CPUs.

    The owner of the ARM design, ARM Holdings, is an interesting company, based in Cambridge, England, that makes half a billion a year profit doing nothing but R&D and licensing its IP.
    , @cthulhu
    A great deal of the stagnation in the MacBook Air's performance over the last few years is due to Intel's CPU strategy though. The laptop CPUs have seen little performance gains in the last two generations; Intel has been focused on reducing power consumption and improving their integrated graphics. Apple has understandably decided switching to Intel's higher performance chips is not worth the large drop in battery life that would ensue - the MacBook Air's 12+ hour battery life is one of its major selling points. So I think Steve's observation does relate to the inability of CPU vendors to translate improvements in transistor density - which is still happening - into single core processor performance gains (the kind of performance that benefits people the most). But happily, for most people, their computing needs are nowhere near CPU-bound.
  55. Partly OT

    I met a guy last weekend who is writing a book about his theory of why intelligence/IQ seems to be increasing. He was surprised that I had heard of the Flynn Effect and wanted to know where I had learned about it.

    Because I had just met this guy and was in a group of people I didn’t know and had no idea if they were a bunch of SJWs or Race Realists, I just answered that I read a lot.

    My question is what’s a good phrase to use in conversation as a dog whistle when trying to signal like minded individuals without tipping off some ideological crusader who might decide to make an example out of me and try to get me fired.

    Would using Steve’s name be a good idea? How about HBD?

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    • Replies: @Paul Walker Most beautiful man ever...
    "My question is what’s a good phrase to use in conversation as a dog whistle when trying to signal like minded individuals".
    Non-verbal cues are better. Try a Roman salute.
  56. >They were used to issuing orders to intelligent human beings who wouldn’t take everything quite so literally.

    Which has led to a decline in people being able to generate thorough, well-thought-out plans which anticipate likely contingencies in order to turn abstract goals into concrete reality, much less be able to formulate and express such abstract goals intelligibly.

    Which has led to people being unable to properly assess the practicality of attaining any particular abstract goal, much less its actual desirability. People pretty much tend to live their lives in Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mode, these days.

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  57. rod1963 says:
    @Luke Lea
    I'd be interested in Steve's opinion about whether a lot of this new smart technology might also be making us dumber in certain practical ways? People depend on GPS to get around, which means they no longer have to remember directions or know how to read a map. The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends' telephone numbers. Kids no longer make their own toys or even play with toys or outdoor imaginative games, playing computer games instead. Drawing is less important with all the graphic programs available, even basic arithmetic is no longer necessary because you can do it on the web. Google translate deals with the problem of understanding foreign languages. Voice commands mean you don't have to know how to write, let alone spell. People don't read books for entertainment so much anymore, watching Game of Thrones instead of reading War and Peace. Etc. Over time we might evolve to be less intelligent due to these technologies.

    It has made us less intelligent or should I say less useful. Turn off electricity and most people will revert to the Dark Ages style of living real fast, not 19th century but 10th century because most people no know almost nothing in terms of knowledge and technique that is of concrete usefulness.

    In the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s and up to the 70′s it was common for fathers to have some sort of workshop(a real man’s cave, fake ones have X-boxes, pool tables and TV’s). Boys weren’t spending all their free time on the computer or playing games, many were doing hobbies or learning things in their father’s garage or out playing.

    That’s gone today. Schools no longer have shop classes of any kind or even PE. Had to make room for computers to prepare kids to be cube drones.

    Even the magazines that catered to the DIY like Popular Mechanics and Science morphed into magazines for the pantsload set, on par with Maxim. That is not progress, it’s regress to infantilism.

    And plenty of brains are getting concerned with the damage of exposing young children to Ipods and the like. Books like Idisorder and others detail the damage the digital revolution has done to adults and kids.

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  58. Realist says:

    Practice and familiarity have improved IQ scores. It does not indicate an increase in intelligence….just ability to learn.

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  59. Lot says:
    @Lot

    I don’t know if Moore’s Law is still in effect (the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012, the first time in my personal computer owning career, which goes back to 1984, that a new computer wasn’t tangibly faster).
     
    This is an atypical situation. The Macbook Air 2012 and 2015 models, for the base version, actually saw a slight decrease in clock speed and a very tiny increase in overall performance, which is kind of exceptional for a three year period. In fact nearly all the specs are very similar:

    Mid-2012: https://support.apple.com/kb/SP670?locale=en_US
    Current: http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/specs.html

    What Apple seems to have done is decided that for the base 2012 model, which did have a lot of updates over 2011, was plenty good and that it was not worth the effort with declining laptop sales to deal with any further big upgrades for a few years, and instead focus on cutting prices and raising profits.

    So your 2012 model was a high end ultra book, and your nearly identical 2015 model is mid-range and had an MSRP (for the basic 13 inch model) $999 rather than $1199.

    The biggest improvement between 2012 and 2015 is a combination of a better battery and a processor that uses it less, meaning much improved battery life. It also will run cooler and last longer for that reason.

    2012 was also the peak of the Intel and Microsoft freakout over people ditching computers for tablets or chromebook type laptops that use ARM CPUs, which are cheaper than Intel’s and use less power. For this reason Intel’s focus then was heavily on price and power consumption, not speed.

    Microsoft also released the awful Windows RT that uses ARM CPUs.

    The owner of the ARM design, ARM Holdings, is an interesting company, based in Cambridge, England, that makes half a billion a year profit doing nothing but R&D and licensing its IP.

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  60. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    “Another question is, if we’re getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?”

    Maybe sniffing out bull$#!t. The way they appear to be so willing to embrace SJW propaganda – even that which seems to fly in the face of what is easily observable – is mind-boggling to me.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Marty
    But what if they spent ages 10-14 with "take your daughter/son to work Day"? Then they'd realize what bullshit most jobs are, that everything is a game, and that AGW alarmism is a potential gravy train? I mean, if Mom and Dad didn't have real jobs, then I need a non-job paradigm too, right?
    , @SFG
    I'm not so sure about that particular one. It strikes me that any public display of beliefs contrary to SJW propaganda is much more risky than it used to be--heck, remember those two guys who lost their jobs for making a joke about 'dongles'? There seems to be a strong cultural-libertarian backlash once you get to anonymous fields like the Internet. So, they may be faking it, much like Soviet citizens.

    But, perhaps I am insufficiently pessimistic.
  61. cthulhu says:
    @Lot

    I don’t know if Moore’s Law is still in effect (the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012, the first time in my personal computer owning career, which goes back to 1984, that a new computer wasn’t tangibly faster).
     
    This is an atypical situation. The Macbook Air 2012 and 2015 models, for the base version, actually saw a slight decrease in clock speed and a very tiny increase in overall performance, which is kind of exceptional for a three year period. In fact nearly all the specs are very similar:

    Mid-2012: https://support.apple.com/kb/SP670?locale=en_US
    Current: http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/specs.html

    What Apple seems to have done is decided that for the base 2012 model, which did have a lot of updates over 2011, was plenty good and that it was not worth the effort with declining laptop sales to deal with any further big upgrades for a few years, and instead focus on cutting prices and raising profits.

    So your 2012 model was a high end ultra book, and your nearly identical 2015 model is mid-range and had an MSRP (for the basic 13 inch model) $999 rather than $1199.

    The biggest improvement between 2012 and 2015 is a combination of a better battery and a processor that uses it less, meaning much improved battery life. It also will run cooler and last longer for that reason.

    A great deal of the stagnation in the MacBook Air’s performance over the last few years is due to Intel’s CPU strategy though. The laptop CPUs have seen little performance gains in the last two generations; Intel has been focused on reducing power consumption and improving their integrated graphics. Apple has understandably decided switching to Intel’s higher performance chips is not worth the large drop in battery life that would ensue – the MacBook Air’s 12+ hour battery life is one of its major selling points. So I think Steve’s observation does relate to the inability of CPU vendors to translate improvements in transistor density – which is still happening – into single core processor performance gains (the kind of performance that benefits people the most). But happily, for most people, their computing needs are nowhere near CPU-bound.

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  62. Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.

    This is a both big Big Boss status display and effective high level leadership. . Guys such as Trump have human secretaries — excuse me, executive assistants — to take dictation, screen calls and email, and handle small matters without consuming the big monkey’s time. A big boss is supposed to have more important things to do than typing or chattering about trivial stuff.

    For that matter, my forty-something orthopedic doc, who is a busy physician but not a big shot, still dictates to a voice recorder and has his nurse screen calls from his patients. He doesn’t do his own typing.

    Your Vice Chairman may have concealed his real sentiment.

    I read somewhere on the Net that Donald Trump does not have a computer in his office. Also, he has a cell phone, but Donald tries to avoid being seen with it in public.

    Apparently, Trump makes his Twitter comments himself, usually in the evening.
    I wonder if Mt. T. has an assistant who looks for remarks on the Internut or otherwise in the news to which the big man should respond.

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    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
    I'm going to take a rather small leap and assume that you aren't of Big Boss status level yourself. My father who is c-suite level was acutely bothered by the fact he couldn't type (and for that matter learn French well when he worked abroad) even though he had a secretary and newly-minted MBA grad executive assistant to farm that kind of stuff out to. Most people of real accomplishments and real status aren't consumed with self-calculated status displays. Displays of status are definitely a part of human nature- but the tendency to see the world entirely through that prism. It's unfortunate that the alt-right is made up with a lot of poor. undersexed, low status guys because this kind of reductionism is rampant.
  63. @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    This is where my brain went too. It seems intuitively true to me that you can’t be good at everything, and you have to turn potential ability into actual ability through practice and experience. There is probably some amount of overlap among mental skills, but the correlation isn’t perfect.

    Social skills seem pretty good among the young kids I interview for engineering jobs, and this set is selected for mechanical skills [as well as general smartness], but I would guess a lot of them haven’t spent much time tending living things like gardens or livestock. I definitely wouldn’t want to be lost in woods with most of them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    The U.S. during WWII could draw on a huge reservoir of shade tree mechanics who had experience fixing internal combustion engine vehicles such as the Model T.

    The Japanese, with about half the population, had a brilliant layer of urban mechanics that made them better at naval air warfare in 1941, but after they started losing aircraft carriers in 1942, they were extremely hard pressed to replace the losses, while the U.S. just churned out an immense fleet of aircraft carriers. My guess is that America had little trouble shifting a 30 year old farmer to a mechanical job in war work because the farmer already had a tractor or a car and spent a lot of time socializing around cars being repaired. Japanese farmers, however, faced a steeper learning curve because they barely knew anybody with a car or a tractor.
  64. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Luke Lea
    I'd be interested in Steve's opinion about whether a lot of this new smart technology might also be making us dumber in certain practical ways? People depend on GPS to get around, which means they no longer have to remember directions or know how to read a map. The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends' telephone numbers. Kids no longer make their own toys or even play with toys or outdoor imaginative games, playing computer games instead. Drawing is less important with all the graphic programs available, even basic arithmetic is no longer necessary because you can do it on the web. Google translate deals with the problem of understanding foreign languages. Voice commands mean you don't have to know how to write, let alone spell. People don't read books for entertainment so much anymore, watching Game of Thrones instead of reading War and Peace. Etc. Over time we might evolve to be less intelligent due to these technologies.

    ” The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends’ telephone numbers.”

    You don’t have to, but there still exists many advantages to having memorized phone numbers. Likewise, GPS systems can be quite buggy, so the ability to read maps or remember directions to a place is still very valuable. I wouldn’t drive to any location with which I am unfamiliar without a good map or at least very good verbal directions. Also, maps have the advantage of being able to provide big picture views of where you’re going.

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  65. rod1963 says:

    One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

    Yes and no. One never stops learning. But there is a limit to tech knowledge. This is why folks end up specializing. If you don’t, you become the man with micromind who knows everything about nothing.

    For example at the moment I typing this on a Windows XP machine that was state of the art 6 years ago. I have zero interest in learning the newest market driven stupidity from Microsoft. It’s rock solid and I know the internals inside and out. Easy to fix and maintain.

    But that’s just one platform I learned over the years. I have a half-dozen OS’s stuffed in my noggin from Solaris, SGI Irix, Novell Netware to OS/2 and some exotic things like PLC’s.

    But I have zero and I mean zero interest in learning about Twitter which I consider a nasty regress from e-mail that makes people really stupid or how to use Android or Apple products. To be honest I don’t think I can.

    I don’t even own a cell phone. I still have a rotary phone that is almost 60 years old.

    I don’t have a issue learning but it has to be relevant. Most modern tech is just a repackaging of existing tech for marketing reasons just to suck money out of the consumer.

    To be blunt most tech innovations aren’t really innovations anymore. Most are just schemes to either: 1) forms of data mining 2) to monitor us 3) to encourage us to consume. 4) to extract revenue from consumers(cell phones and the like).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Former Darfur
    Most telco's don't even have the decoding for pulse dial installed. I occasionally hook an old piece of dial era test equipment up that acts as a phone for demo, and while it will receive calls and measure line conditions just fine, out dialing means I have to clip a DTMF butt set across the pair. I have several old WE phones I just can't bear to throw out, including 1A2 sets and whatnot, but they sit in the attic.

    Anyway, if you could use one workstation in the 80s and 90s, you could use them all, since they were all just Unix with some differences in interface.
  66. Lugash says:
    @Romanian
    Part of the reason why things don't appear to be faster is related, I think, to how resource intensive many applications have become. Part of it is functionality (especially science applications, and videogaming), another part are useless frills and the last, but very substantial, part is simple laziness and sloppiness on the part of programmers, many of whom are spoiled compared to yesteryear.

    I don't really use my Word any differently than I did around 15 years ago, when I first started using it for school, except for some SmartArt and charts, but the Word of today is a lot more resource intensive. If you're the average user, you're basically still typing away at the same Word as you had before, only N times more resource intensive. It has graphics, way more options you might never use, shininess etc. I have a free program for automatically introducing diacritics in Romanian texts when someone hands me something written without the special marks. The thing weighs 50 Megs and has every function I have ever needed in Word except charts, including a very good orthographic checker. And it runs like a dream.

    I do, however, notice the change in power when it comes to computer game graphics, although I confess I've ceased to become enthusiastic about it around 2011, since the last big qualitative leap (to my mind). Even there, the progress is less than it could be, because of the parallelism with console markets, which need even the newest games to run on the same years old hardware without too much of a noticeable difference in quality and speed compared to PCs (to avoid losing sales), which leads to compromises on the PC version's part. Though we are now in the new generation of consoles, so there is a lot of room for everyone to grow.

    Regarding the Internet, there was this article once about how pages would load faster in the past than they do now with broadband because the limitations on bandwidth forced website designers to keep things simple. In addition to the cutesy graphics, photos, widgets etc, you also have a suite of programs running in the background, deciding if video should start playing, what happens when you roll your cursor over an interactive commercial, what pop-ups you should have. Mobile versions of websites are, to a certain degree, a throwback to that more innocent age of bandwidth restriction.

    I don’t game much anymore, but I’d just as soon see graphics freeze in place and the improvements be put into physics, AI, gameplay and story.

    With respect to web page loading time, try blocking ads at the system or network level. It beats using browser plugins by an order of magnitude. If you’re not familiar, here’s a good starter for Windows:

    http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

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  67. Marty [AKA "morty"] says:
    @Anonymous
    "Another question is, if we’re getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?"

    Maybe sniffing out bull$#!t. The way they appear to be so willing to embrace SJW propaganda - even that which seems to fly in the face of what is easily observable - is mind-boggling to me.

    But what if they spent ages 10-14 with “take your daughter/son to work Day”? Then they’d realize what bullshit most jobs are, that everything is a game, and that AGW alarmism is a potential gravy train? I mean, if Mom and Dad didn’t have real jobs, then I need a non-job paradigm too, right?

    Read More
  68. ““Another question is, if we’re getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?”

    Maybe sniffing out bull$#!t. The way they appear to be so willing to embrace SJW propaganda – even that which seems to fly in the face of what is easily observable – is mind-boggling to me.”

    I really notice this as well. As one anecdote: growing up 30 years ago, I was (and spent all my time with) an engineering student. My sense at that time was that there were liberal activists, and there were unthinking conservatives (say, athletes, business majors, etc. Folks who were pretty happy with the status quo without thinking about it). But engineers, being hyperrational, were also pretty conservative (probably the equivalent of HBD realists).

    Today, I don’t get that sense. HBD (and its equivalents: say, that there aren’t as many women engineers because women don’t want to be engineers, or there’s nothing particularly wrong with an engineering company that is 90% male, and so on) is so outside of the mainstream, it is not even legitimately available to socially awkward engineers. One has to be aggressively contrarian to be an HBD believer. Nobody would publicly argue for HBD, or for the obvious fact that women don’t want to be engineers at the same rate as men (evidence to the contrary is evidence of sexist oppression), and so on. Utterly rational and reasonable observations are verboten.

    It even occurs amongst my friends, who are not 20 something engineers, but 50 something adults. They express political opinions that are utterly contrary to what they would have unthinkingly believed earlier in their life (earlier, but still in adulthood). Military officers, who 30 years ago would have been utterly disdainful of homosexuality, are today supportive of Bruce Jenner, and so on.

    My anecdotal experience is that culture has completely abolished casual conservatism as a legitimate, public viewpoint (and to repeat: my experience is not amongst professionals in San Francisco or D.C. It is amongst midwestern engineers, and retired military officers). Rational conservatism (i.e. logically-based libertarianism) can still be argued, but values-based (or religiously based), or even unthinking/undefended, conservatism is dead.

    joeyjoejoe

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  69. SFG says:
    @Lugash
    One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

    I think there's a finite amount of IT/computer/tech knowledge that you can mentally store. New technologies also break existing user interface expectations, some by necessity, some by marketing larks(I'm looking at you Windows 8). I've got Unix, Windows and Android stored, but I don't have any more room for iOS or OSX. My tech illiterate parents laugh at me when I flop around on the latter two.

    But similar information technology developments in this century have not struck me as fun at all to learn about. On Twitter, for example, I’m basically clueless about whether I’m replying to one person or to thousands. Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.

    Twitter blows. As an interface between 140 character SMS and computers it worked, but it sucks past that. You can't thread messages, conversations are split up, search sucks and the mobile clients all seem to have the annoying habit of losing your place and taking you to the top of your feed.

    A lot of the old technologies just worked better. Using NNTP instead of commenting systems would be a VAST improvement(sorry Mr. Unz), XMPP and IRC were better for chat and plain old email works best for 'direct messaging'.

    My whole thing with social media is it seems awfully easy to pull a Justine Sacco and lose your job and be mocked by the whole world (making it harder to find a new one) over one stupid tweet.

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  70. SFG says:
    @Anonymous
    "Another question is, if we’re getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?"

    Maybe sniffing out bull$#!t. The way they appear to be so willing to embrace SJW propaganda - even that which seems to fly in the face of what is easily observable - is mind-boggling to me.

    I’m not so sure about that particular one. It strikes me that any public display of beliefs contrary to SJW propaganda is much more risky than it used to be–heck, remember those two guys who lost their jobs for making a joke about ‘dongles’? There seems to be a strong cultural-libertarian backlash once you get to anonymous fields like the Internet. So, they may be faking it, much like Soviet citizens.

    But, perhaps I am insufficiently pessimistic.

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  71. @cthulhu

    High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don’t really know what to do with them. Yet I’m pretty sure it’s my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.
     
    My SAT and ACT scores (from the late '70s) were pretty high and very close on the verbal and math / science sections (my SAT math and verbal were only 10 points different). I went on to do pretty advanced math in the physics / engineering track in college. I agree that high verbal IQ helps in math - symbolic manipulation is related to language, and no less than Steven Pinker has pointed out that counting systems, required to develop arithmetic, hijack the brain's language module in the service of numbers. But for me, applying all of that math in the physics and engineering disciplines requires a lot of nonverbal visualization. Often I'll get into something like a mental flow state where I see the relationships in purely visual, abstract ways, that guide me to the approach I need for solving a problem, and it is very difficult to describe such things in words. I don't think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times.

    “I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times.”

    But it might have been very relevant to setting up the (mental) preconditions. [The ability to set up the preconditions for productive thought over extended periods is potentially captured only by the "enculturated" tests, which (in effect) infer reasoning ability from the knowledge it fosters.]

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    • Replies: @cthulhu
    I'm not disagreeing with your comment. The verbal skills are definitely key in learning the symbolic manipulation skills, setting up the problems, and formalizing the solutions. The key insights are, for me at least, mostly nonverbal. Complementary skills...
  72. @anonymous coward

    Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.
     
    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam's Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are 'heritable' in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you're probably an already lost cause.

    I would express Sailer’s idea in these terms: The development of a technological culture increasingly produces crystallized tools for handling cognitive problems that would, at earlier times, have drawn on fluid ability.

    [What's lost -- at least according to Ian McGilchrist, who expresses a similar view couched in hemisphericity -- is the ability to handle genuine novelty.]

    anonymous coward’s criticism as I’d construe it amounts to questioning the breadth of the crystallized gains: to what extent do they pertain merely to the taking of tests. If Sailer is right, Flynn gains are likely to continue longer into the future than if ac is right.

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    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    I think you've set up a false dichotomy. If people can learn to improve their IQ scores, they're actually learning to improve their IQ. So a world in which everyone is prepping for IQ tests is a world where people's IQs are actually getting higher.

    The problem is that, while IQ is a real and significant aspect of mental functioning, it isn't everything, but we tend to forget. We can imagine a computer, for example, that could perform off the charts on IQ tests but was totally incapable of managing a series of tasks like making a shopping list and picking up milk at the store (no arms! no arms? what are arms like?).

    However, in a world where more and more things are based on insularly cognitive skills, it's possible that people could be prepping for IQ tests and getting smarter in a real world sense.

    The real problems I see with the "gaming" idea are that (1) people don't actually do this and (2) even if they do, they didn't in the past and (3) if it's just test prepping, there's going to be a ceiling on the improvements, which I suspect we would have hit already...
  73. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @anonymous coward

    Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.
     
    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam's Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are 'heritable' in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you're probably an already lost cause.

    Occam’s Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    I totally agree! The interesting part of it is that this “gaming” is very likely to alter the shape of the distribution – when the original normed test was made to look as normal one, the “gaming” occurs predominantly in the low-middle and middle range, raising a mean and effectively rendering the test meaningless.

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  74. @SFG
    I've thought that as well. (I know, I'm not Steve.)

    Here's the thing: for evolution to occur, there has to be differential success in reproduction. So that means that in the future, humanity will be descended from pickup artists.

    AIR from the research, Humanity was becoming descended from PUAs ca 1920-1970, but then widespread contraception & abortion put the kibosh on that.

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  75. @WGG
    What Steve says makes sense, but other factors could be at play. Possibly due to Cultural Marxism, generations are getting more cynical (perhaps specifically guided toward their own traditions) but the "about what" is irrelevant. Cynicism is a form of critical thinking, which is related to pattern recognition. All three require a person to "read between the lines." Then again, so does P.C. oriented self censorship. That has the added bonus of forcing individuals to become accurate predictors of the outcomes of certain future behavior. Knowing what you can say to whom is an essential skill in today's world, and it is abstract, critical, and pattern oriented.

    The theory about computer systems seems as though it should have crested around 2000 and be falling due to better, idiot-proof software and Apple style interface.

    >>That has the added bonus of forcing individuals to become accurate predictors of the outcomes of certain future behavior.<<

    At age 7 my son was explaining to me how he says one thing to his teachers (the Politically Correct thing, on eg Climate Change) and the opposite to me. I just can't imagine thinking like that in 1980 when I was his age.

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  76. Anonym says:
    @jjbees
    One thing I've noticed over time is how rare material with a high vocabulary demand is.
    For example, Steve, you tend to be quite prolix and make use of a good number of rare words, as does your commentariat. Use of rare words tends to be a dead give-away for people who read much, and like to read. In daily conversation I will sometimes throw a rare word in edgewise, but there really isn't an audience for it outside of working for the Financial Times or commenting on your blogs. When the modern world is based on taking multiple choice tests, flicking your way through a smartphone menu, and vegging out in front of Netflix, what does it mean for human linguistic capacity? Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?

    No. As long as compulsive readers are procreating there will be compulsive readers. And if they are prone to seeking out the best reading material then they will naturally develop a rich vocabulary.

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  77. @Anonymous
    Moore's Law predates Intel. He observed it at Fairchild, the company he founded earlier. Presumably he founded Intel in 1968 to exploit the Law. Specifically, if he was going to make lots of transistors, he ought to organize them so that the customer wanted them in large batches (integrated circuits).

    “Moore’s Law predates Intel. He observed it at Fairchild, the company he founded earlier. Presumably he founded Intel in 1968 to exploit the Law.”

    Can you imagine a more exciting business opportunity than starting Intel to capitalize on Moore’s Law? You’ve figured out a pattern that has been happening and you think you have what it takes to keep it happening, and it’s going to the be the biggest thing in the world.

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  78. @peterike

    the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII

     

    There is thinking now that iron supplementation may have been a big mistake and may be responsible for many ill effects, including the obesity epidemic.

    http://freetheanimal.com/2015/06/enrichment-theory-everything.html

    the laptop I bought in 2015 is only trivially faster than the one I bought in 2012

     

    The best thing you can do now for speed improvement is move from a spinning hard drive to a solid state hard drive. Disk I/O constraints are more likely to slow you down than CPU constraints.

    Right, solid state hard drives are great. But I got that feature in 2012, so when that laptop expired from too much coffee being spilled on it over the years, the 2015 replacement was no great thrill.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Buying a new car and a new dishwasher every three years makes a lot more practical sense than overpaying ~2X for a laptop for its SSD.
  79. Grumpy says:
    @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    This week, I spoke with two college students who didn’t look in my direction when speaking to me during a dinner table conversation. Neither so much as turned her head when addressing me. There were six people at the table, but these two young women both looked straight ahead most of the time. I’ve never seen that before (at least not with people who aren’t obviously autistic).

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    • Replies: @Threecranes
    Same thing happened to me while asking for help at the hardware store the other day.

    Disconcerting.
  80. @Tim Howells
    Most high-tech companies give potential hires "programming tests", but they say that they don't want to bias in favor of a particular programming language or discipline. They want "the best athlete available" so to speak. So instead of asking you to code something they give a series of abstract logical puzzles to solve. These are obviously carefully contrived high-end IQ tests.

    My wife took an 8 month programming course at DePaul back in the 1990s that was highly successful year after year in placing its graduates in decent corporate jobs. The secret was that the entrance test was just an algebra exam.

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  81. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Steve Sailer
    Right, solid state hard drives are great. But I got that feature in 2012, so when that laptop expired from too much coffee being spilled on it over the years, the 2015 replacement was no great thrill.

    Buying a new car and a new dishwasher every three years makes a lot more practical sense than overpaying ~2X for a laptop for its SSD.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I spend about 70 hours per week with my hands on my laptop keyboard. Paying $1500 every few years for a no drama laptop that almost never screws up is a pretty good investment in my time and sanity.
    , @Former Darfur
    The new dishwashers that are low water and low noise suck as compared with the 1970s and 1980s models.
  82. Romanian says:
    @Old Jew
    Dear Romanian,

    I have one of the problems you described. A minor local paper in my forlorn Bukowina town, asked me, to reminisce about my school days ("Amintiri din Copilarie"). I have the standard USA keyboard on this, my laptop. What is that 50 Megs software that will insert the Romanian diacritics ( ă, î, ș, ț ).

    How to obtain and where?

    Otherwise as I wrote before, I am a command line and UNIX vi (gvim) person, and thus fully agree with your views on the proliferation of fatware and bloatware.

    sf

    http://www.download3k.com/System-Utilities/Text-Editors/Download-AutoCorect.html

    I hope this helps! It’s not perfect, though, especially with ambiguous phrasing, but it gets the job done. Of course, no one I know has an actual Romanian keyboard. You just turn on the option for diacritics in the keyboard options and have the [ ] ; ‘ \ keys become the letters, but I understand that it’s a chore and it really impacts your typing speed if you’re not used to it.

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  83. @David Davenport
    Today, I feel like the Vice Chairman of my employer back in 1984 when he gave me his $9,000 IBM PC XT with the coveted 10-meg hard disk because he was too old to learn to type.


    This is a both big Big Boss status display and effective high level leadership. . Guys such as Trump have human secretaries -- excuse me, executive assistants -- to take dictation, screen calls and email, and handle small matters without consuming the big monkey's time. A big boss is supposed to have more important things to do than typing or chattering about trivial stuff.

    For that matter, my forty-something orthopedic doc, who is a busy physician but not a big shot, still dictates to a voice recorder and has his nurse screen calls from his patients. He doesn't do his own typing.

    Your Vice Chairman may have concealed his real sentiment.

    I read somewhere on the Net that Donald Trump does not have a computer in his office. Also, he has a cell phone, but Donald tries to avoid being seen with it in public.

    Apparently, Trump makes his Twitter comments himself, usually in the evening.
    I wonder if Mt. T. has an assistant who looks for remarks on the Internut or otherwise in the news to which the big man should respond.

    I’m going to take a rather small leap and assume that you aren’t of Big Boss status level yourself. My father who is c-suite level was acutely bothered by the fact he couldn’t type (and for that matter learn French well when he worked abroad) even though he had a secretary and newly-minted MBA grad executive assistant to farm that kind of stuff out to. Most people of real accomplishments and real status aren’t consumed with self-calculated status displays. Displays of status are definitely a part of human nature- but the tendency to see the world entirely through that prism. It’s unfortunate that the alt-right is made up with a lot of poor. undersexed, low status guys because this kind of reductionism is rampant.

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  84. @Anonymous
    Buying a new car and a new dishwasher every three years makes a lot more practical sense than overpaying ~2X for a laptop for its SSD.

    I spend about 70 hours per week with my hands on my laptop keyboard. Paying $1500 every few years for a no drama laptop that almost never screws up is a pretty good investment in my time and sanity.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Over the course of a three-year lifespan for a laptop I use it about 10,000 hours. So, the cost to me per hour of the higher reliability and lower frustration of a Mac with OS X over a Dell with Windows, which I used for most of the previous quarter of a century, is in the range of a nickel per hour for me.

    Seems worth it to me.
  85. @Big Bill
    Another example. Thirty years ago I started searching massive "databases" for "text documents" using things called "keywords", "fields" and "Boolean logic".

    What specific terms would I use? What general terms? What fields? What combinations of fields? If I got so-so results from my first search, how could I tailor the search by dropping some search terms and adding new ones to get even better results. It was mentally demanding.

    The only people who were trained (sort of) to think this way were those with advanced degrees in library science.

    Now everybody does this every day across the planet as part of their daily routine. It is called "Googling".

    Steve,

    This is a good example of the problem with your theory because as more people are Googling, Google is working from the other direction to make it less necessary to think logically in order to Google effectively. Larry Page wants you to have the bank teller experience at the ATM, and they’re working to make that happen in search.

    Basically, what I’m saying is that, in technology, there is not a single factor consistently changing over the course of the Flynn Effect’s lifetime. The fact that more people are doing more searches today doesn’t mean there are more people practicing more Boolean logic.

    An interesting test of your theory would be to see if the Flynn Effect is absent or diminished in specific communities, like the Amish.

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  86. @Steve Sailer
    I spend about 70 hours per week with my hands on my laptop keyboard. Paying $1500 every few years for a no drama laptop that almost never screws up is a pretty good investment in my time and sanity.

    Over the course of a three-year lifespan for a laptop I use it about 10,000 hours. So, the cost to me per hour of the higher reliability and lower frustration of a Mac with OS X over a Dell with Windows, which I used for most of the previous quarter of a century, is in the range of a nickel per hour for me.

    Seems worth it to me.

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    • Replies: @EriK
    Given the substantial amount of time you put in writing and reading does your laptop stay in the same place a lot (my guess) or do you move it around much?
  87. Here’s a completely different idea:

    Imagine a scene in the movie Idiocracy where some idiot psychologists make an IQ test consisting of a circle and square and asking which one is round. Even idiots–everyone–could perform well on this test although the idiot psychologists can’t see it, so they conclude people are still getting smarter–the Flynn Effect is still going on!!!

    Maybe we have idiot psychologists today.

    I kid. I kid.

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  88. @Benjamin I. Espen
    This is where my brain went too. It seems intuitively true to me that you can't be good at everything, and you have to turn potential ability into actual ability through practice and experience. There is probably some amount of overlap among mental skills, but the correlation isn't perfect.

    Social skills seem pretty good among the young kids I interview for engineering jobs, and this set is selected for mechanical skills [as well as general smartness], but I would guess a lot of them haven't spent much time tending living things like gardens or livestock. I definitely wouldn't want to be lost in woods with most of them.

    The U.S. during WWII could draw on a huge reservoir of shade tree mechanics who had experience fixing internal combustion engine vehicles such as the Model T.

    The Japanese, with about half the population, had a brilliant layer of urban mechanics that made them better at naval air warfare in 1941, but after they started losing aircraft carriers in 1942, they were extremely hard pressed to replace the losses, while the U.S. just churned out an immense fleet of aircraft carriers. My guess is that America had little trouble shifting a 30 year old farmer to a mechanical job in war work because the farmer already had a tractor or a car and spent a lot of time socializing around cars being repaired. Japanese farmers, however, faced a steeper learning curve because they barely knew anybody with a car or a tractor.

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    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
    That reservoir of shade tree mechanics was recently on display in East Ukraine.
    , @Benjamin I. Espen
    That's plausible to me, but I would feel better about it if I had some data to back up my impressions that agriculture in Japan pre-WWII was vastly less automated than in the US during the same time period.
    , @Anon7
    According to my Dad, who grew up in the 1930's in a small town, all of the males knew everything that was needed to fix Model Ts and other cars. All the boys could drive by the age of 12; most of the boys in his town had cars long before the age of sixteen, and could fix them easily if they broke down. Old Model Ts were so cheap that boys could own and drive them; buy a junker for next to nothing and put in the effort to fix it with more parts from the junk yard. (In 1925 Ford produced a new Model T every twenty-seven seconds - there were lots of junker cars by 1935.) They used to drive onto the town golf course and play polo with them. Any long trip (greater than fifty miles) was an adventure; of course you had to bring your tools and parts so you could fix your car if it broke down, guys always stopped and helped, too.

    Lots of mechanics available? Yes, I'd say every male who came from a small town was qualified.
    , @OutWest
    It’s hard to generalize. But at Midway most of the Japanese pilots survive. But most of the mechanics and technicians perished in the hanger decks infernos. Japanese naval aviation never regained its decisive superiority of the first seven months of the war though they still had most of their pilots.

    The Wright pacific theater engineer once told me that the US largely repaired/rebuilt their aircraft in the field. The Japanese shipped anything difficult back to the factory which didn’t work that well when the US submarines became effective.

    Of course intellect and talent are different attributes with the latter being important for the population at large and the former, while critical, needed less by the population in general.
  89. cthulhu says:
    @Stephen R. Diamond
    "I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times."

    But it might have been very relevant to setting up the (mental) preconditions. [The ability to set up the preconditions for productive thought over extended periods is potentially captured only by the "enculturated" tests, which (in effect) infer reasoning ability from the knowledge it fosters.]

    I’m not disagreeing with your comment. The verbal skills are definitely key in learning the symbolic manipulation skills, setting up the problems, and formalizing the solutions. The key insights are, for me at least, mostly nonverbal. Complementary skills…

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  90. @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    The philosopher who writes about old movies, Stanley Somebody, has argued that Buster Keaton’s silent films came at the peak of Americans’ familiarity with mechanical physics. Americans in 1925 could anticipate better than we can what kind of trouble Buster was likely getting himself into with, say, that pulley contraption he was rigging up.

    Buster Keaton movies are like “The Martian” in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on.

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    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    That's pretty interesting. There's that kind of humor in Laurel and Hardy comedies too. That suggests that, although I can't get the joke so well, the humor is essentially the same as Fawlty Towers and maybe Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's just that the cultural context is old-fashioned American can-do problem-solving instead of class anxiety or Jewish hang-ups.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    "Buster Keaton movies are like “The Martian” in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on."

    And just like in "The Martian", Buster never breaks into a smile but continues to soldier on while expecting that, come what may, the new problem will somehow get solved just as it did before.

    , @Anon5
    Stanley Cavell?
  91. It’s unfortunate that the alt-right is made up with a lot of poor. undersexed, low status guys because this kind of reductionism is rampant.

    Mr. Haysom or Hayseed:

    I’ll assume that you are affluent, oversexed, high status,and have no difficulty with manual transmissions in large old trucks.

    My father who is c-suite level was acutely bothered by the fact he couldn’t type (and for that matter learn French well when he worked abroad) even though he had a secretary and newly-minted MBA grad executive assistant to farm that kind of stuff out to.

    I also assume that your father is the sort of c-level big net worth big chief who reliably votes Democrat. Is your Dad c-suite level in a government bureau or a nonprofit org. Maybe a university administrator at a posh U.?

    Did your Dad offer to share his salary with his secretary or with his MBA assistant? If not, did the differences in pay bother him acutely?

    … learn French well … Is your Dad John Kerry? France, everybody there is so-o-o sophisticated.

    Displays of status are definitely a part of human nature- but the tendency to see the world entirely through that prism.

    Isn’t the second part of that sentence missing a predicate?

    Oh yes. I think I see your point. We’re all God’s children, equal in His sight. Let us bow our heads and pray.

    Steve’s boss “giving” Steve a new-fangled personal computer, which the Big Man probably didn’t pay for out of his own pocket: “Stevy my boy, I can’t figure this gizmo out, but I bet you can make good use of it.”

    A quite patronizing gift. “Me Chief, you spear carrier. Here’s a new spear.”

    By the way, Brother Haysom, what is your definition of “alternative right”?

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  92. @Steve Sailer
    The philosopher who writes about old movies, Stanley Somebody, has argued that Buster Keaton's silent films came at the peak of Americans' familiarity with mechanical physics. Americans in 1925 could anticipate better than we can what kind of trouble Buster was likely getting himself into with, say, that pulley contraption he was rigging up.

    Buster Keaton movies are like "The Martian" in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on.

    That’s pretty interesting. There’s that kind of humor in Laurel and Hardy comedies too. That suggests that, although I can’t get the joke so well, the humor is essentially the same as Fawlty Towers and maybe Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s just that the cultural context is old-fashioned American can-do problem-solving instead of class anxiety or Jewish hang-ups.

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  93. AndrewR says:
    @jjbees
    One thing I've noticed over time is how rare material with a high vocabulary demand is.
    For example, Steve, you tend to be quite prolix and make use of a good number of rare words, as does your commentariat. Use of rare words tends to be a dead give-away for people who read much, and like to read. In daily conversation I will sometimes throw a rare word in edgewise, but there really isn't an audience for it outside of working for the Financial Times or commenting on your blogs. When the modern world is based on taking multiple choice tests, flicking your way through a smartphone menu, and vegging out in front of Netflix, what does it mean for human linguistic capacity? Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?

    “You talk like a fag and your shit’s all retarded.”

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  94. @Romanian
    Part of the reason why things don't appear to be faster is related, I think, to how resource intensive many applications have become. Part of it is functionality (especially science applications, and videogaming), another part are useless frills and the last, but very substantial, part is simple laziness and sloppiness on the part of programmers, many of whom are spoiled compared to yesteryear.

    I don't really use my Word any differently than I did around 15 years ago, when I first started using it for school, except for some SmartArt and charts, but the Word of today is a lot more resource intensive. If you're the average user, you're basically still typing away at the same Word as you had before, only N times more resource intensive. It has graphics, way more options you might never use, shininess etc. I have a free program for automatically introducing diacritics in Romanian texts when someone hands me something written without the special marks. The thing weighs 50 Megs and has every function I have ever needed in Word except charts, including a very good orthographic checker. And it runs like a dream.

    I do, however, notice the change in power when it comes to computer game graphics, although I confess I've ceased to become enthusiastic about it around 2011, since the last big qualitative leap (to my mind). Even there, the progress is less than it could be, because of the parallelism with console markets, which need even the newest games to run on the same years old hardware without too much of a noticeable difference in quality and speed compared to PCs (to avoid losing sales), which leads to compromises on the PC version's part. Though we are now in the new generation of consoles, so there is a lot of room for everyone to grow.

    Regarding the Internet, there was this article once about how pages would load faster in the past than they do now with broadband because the limitations on bandwidth forced website designers to keep things simple. In addition to the cutesy graphics, photos, widgets etc, you also have a suite of programs running in the background, deciding if video should start playing, what happens when you roll your cursor over an interactive commercial, what pop-ups you should have. Mobile versions of websites are, to a certain degree, a throwback to that more innocent age of bandwidth restriction.

    It’s important to compare apples to apples, as it were. Modern apps are enormous by previous standards, but they do a lot of things they didn’t have to contend with then either. I can sit here and have ten different applications open, several playing videos (in superb depth and frame rates), a couple of huge .pdf files, broser windows, games, emulators, VirtualBox, you name it.

    The current retrocomputing fad offers an easy window into how much a lot has changed. There are several good Apple II, Classic Mac, Amigam Commodore 8 bit, and vintage minicomputer sites out there and an enormous amount of old source has been released for the perusal of any and all interested.

    Here’s a little demo on how to do something that would have been unthinkable not too many years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12USa3gU_oU

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  95. @Grumpy
    This week, I spoke with two college students who didn't look in my direction when speaking to me during a dinner table conversation. Neither so much as turned her head when addressing me. There were six people at the table, but these two young women both looked straight ahead most of the time. I've never seen that before (at least not with people who aren't obviously autistic).

    Same thing happened to me while asking for help at the hardware store the other day.

    Disconcerting.

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  96. @Stephen R. Diamond
    I would express Sailer's idea in these terms: The development of a technological culture increasingly produces crystallized tools for handling cognitive problems that would, at earlier times, have drawn on fluid ability.

    [What's lost -- at least according to Ian McGilchrist, who expresses a similar view couched in hemisphericity -- is the ability to handle genuine novelty.]

    anonymous coward's criticism as I'd construe it amounts to questioning the breadth of the crystallized gains: to what extent do they pertain merely to the taking of tests. If Sailer is right, Flynn gains are likely to continue longer into the future than if ac is right.

    I think you’ve set up a false dichotomy. If people can learn to improve their IQ scores, they’re actually learning to improve their IQ. So a world in which everyone is prepping for IQ tests is a world where people’s IQs are actually getting higher.

    The problem is that, while IQ is a real and significant aspect of mental functioning, it isn’t everything, but we tend to forget. We can imagine a computer, for example, that could perform off the charts on IQ tests but was totally incapable of managing a series of tasks like making a shopping list and picking up milk at the store (no arms! no arms? what are arms like?).

    However, in a world where more and more things are based on insularly cognitive skills, it’s possible that people could be prepping for IQ tests and getting smarter in a real world sense.

    The real problems I see with the “gaming” idea are that (1) people don’t actually do this and (2) even if they do, they didn’t in the past and (3) if it’s just test prepping, there’s going to be a ceiling on the improvements, which I suspect we would have hit already…

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    • Replies: @AP

    I think you’ve set up a false dichotomy. If people can learn to improve their IQ scores, they’re actually learning to improve their IQ. So a world in which everyone is prepping for IQ tests is a world where people’s IQs are actually getting higher.
     
    Not really - they would only be able to game that one test better. Has someone who has memorized all the answers to a single specific history test become really knowledgeable about history?
  97. @Milo Minderbinder
    Partly OT

    I met a guy last weekend who is writing a book about his theory of why intelligence/IQ seems to be increasing. He was surprised that I had heard of the Flynn Effect and wanted to know where I had learned about it.

    Because I had just met this guy and was in a group of people I didn't know and had no idea if they were a bunch of SJWs or Race Realists, I just answered that I read a lot.

    My question is what's a good phrase to use in conversation as a dog whistle when trying to signal like minded individuals without tipping off some ideological crusader who might decide to make an example out of me and try to get me fired.

    Would using Steve's name be a good idea? How about HBD?

    “My question is what’s a good phrase to use in conversation as a dog whistle when trying to signal like minded individuals”.
    Non-verbal cues are better. Try a Roman salute.

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  98. @Anonymous
    Buying a new car and a new dishwasher every three years makes a lot more practical sense than overpaying ~2X for a laptop for its SSD.

    The new dishwashers that are low water and low noise suck as compared with the 1970s and 1980s models.

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  99. @Steve Sailer
    The philosopher who writes about old movies, Stanley Somebody, has argued that Buster Keaton's silent films came at the peak of Americans' familiarity with mechanical physics. Americans in 1925 could anticipate better than we can what kind of trouble Buster was likely getting himself into with, say, that pulley contraption he was rigging up.

    Buster Keaton movies are like "The Martian" in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on.

    “Buster Keaton movies are like “The Martian” in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on.”

    And just like in “The Martian”, Buster never breaks into a smile but continues to soldier on while expecting that, come what may, the new problem will somehow get solved just as it did before.

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  100. On Twitter, for example, I’m basically clueless about whether I’m replying to one person or to thousands.

    That was Anthony Weiner’s downfall.

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  101. Pat Casey says:
    @SFG
    Another question is, if we're getting better at using computer programs and things run like computer programs, what are we losing? What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I'd love to hear the geezers here comment.

    I think it’s funny when people notice the derogation of “social skills” to the benefit of machine logic. Well yes, it must be said, machines are not very social. I wonder if it’s a question which is occurring with more enthusiasm: people becoming more like machines, or machines becoming more like people? Well I guess machines can only talk to people as much as people talk to machines, and only a smart-set few people like to talk to machines. I fear we must learn from these few before the machines out-learn us. That, or start reading Boswell gravely, to remember how certain “social skills” can forgive other “social skills,” and once enlivened not a machine but a “barbarian satirist” to chirp:

    That Johnson was a sort of god to his biographer we readily see. But Falstaff as well is a sort of english god, like the rice-bellied gods of laughter of China. They are illusions hugged and lived in; little dead totems. Just as all gods are a repose for humanity, the big religions an immense refuge and rest, so are these little grotesques fetishes.

    Grotesque fetishes is what we want I guess.

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  102. @rod1963
    One thing that seems pretty likely is that in each person’s life, he has a window where it’s easy and fun to learn to communicate logically with a new set of systems, and over time that window closes. For example, when I was in the marketing research industry, I jumped all over the coming of the personal computer in 1984 and the Internet in 1996.

    Yes and no. One never stops learning. But there is a limit to tech knowledge. This is why folks end up specializing. If you don't, you become the man with micromind who knows everything about nothing.

    For example at the moment I typing this on a Windows XP machine that was state of the art 6 years ago. I have zero interest in learning the newest market driven stupidity from Microsoft. It's rock solid and I know the internals inside and out. Easy to fix and maintain.

    But that's just one platform I learned over the years. I have a half-dozen OS's stuffed in my noggin from Solaris, SGI Irix, Novell Netware to OS/2 and some exotic things like PLC's.

    But I have zero and I mean zero interest in learning about Twitter which I consider a nasty regress from e-mail that makes people really stupid or how to use Android or Apple products. To be honest I don't think I can.

    I don't even own a cell phone. I still have a rotary phone that is almost 60 years old.

    I don't have a issue learning but it has to be relevant. Most modern tech is just a repackaging of existing tech for marketing reasons just to suck money out of the consumer.

    To be blunt most tech innovations aren't really innovations anymore. Most are just schemes to either: 1) forms of data mining 2) to monitor us 3) to encourage us to consume. 4) to extract revenue from consumers(cell phones and the like).

    Most telco’s don’t even have the decoding for pulse dial installed. I occasionally hook an old piece of dial era test equipment up that acts as a phone for demo, and while it will receive calls and measure line conditions just fine, out dialing means I have to clip a DTMF butt set across the pair. I have several old WE phones I just can’t bear to throw out, including 1A2 sets and whatnot, but they sit in the attic.

    Anyway, if you could use one workstation in the 80s and 90s, you could use them all, since they were all just Unix with some differences in interface.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The most deplorable one
    Anyway, if you could use one workstation in the 80s and 90s, you could use them all, since they were all just Unix with some differences in interface.

    Not the VAXstations ...
  103. Lugash says:
    @David Davenport
    What are kids worse at today than they were fifty years ago?

    My first thought is social skills and mechanical things like fixing cars (which is much harder to do these days), but I’d love to hear the geezers here comment. ...

    Kids today, including 20-something young fellows with whom I've interacted, are worse at hands-on hardware do-it-yourself activities, including fixing cars, carpentry, plumbing, and soldering electrical parts.

    Software hacking has replaced hardware hacking. The drawback is, this world is ultimately a hardware world instead of virtual reality.

    Also, fewer and fewer young peepul have any experience with hunting and fishing, nor can they drive cars with manual transmissions. "What's that third foot pedal for?"

    One of my pet hates is the Google driverless car. What a thrill, riding in one's low power, unsexy, dweebie cartoon car while absorbed in the Net and checking for messages.

    I think on average mechanical skills are decreasing, but on the right hand side of the distribution they’re increasing. For most people modern cars are pretty bulletproof and self monitoring, so changing the spark plugs or adjusting the timing doesn’t make much sense. For guys who like to tinker, there’s never been more knowledge available for free.

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    • Replies: @Former Darfur
    You also have to consider that as much as many people would prefer to have the old, simple technology in a car, automakers couldn't make them that way if they wanted any more. The modern automobile is incredibly regulated with "safety" and emissions legislation. Dozens of features are built into all cars, whether you want them or not, or even know what they are. And to meat CAFE standards, cars have to be far more lightly built than the market would prefer, which means everything is packed in so tightly working on anything requires either massive disassembly or being a contortionist with a lot of specialized tools.
    , @Brutusale
    Automotive technology hit its peak with the '72 Chevy Nova, which came with a carburetor that a non-mechanical 17-year old and his 15-year old brother could rebuild with a $7 kit from the auto parts store.
  104. Popeye says:
    @The Z Blog
    The hierarchy of knowledge evolves over generations. An example I like to use is one from my youth. My grandfather was an amateur word worker and a professional steamfitter. He loved mechanical things so it was how he made his living and entertained himself. When I showed similar interests he would take me into his shop and teach me things.

    One day he is explaining to me how to layout a right angle and he uses the the expression "3-4-5" to show how you can establish the 90-degree angle just using a tape measure. I popped up with "That's the Pythagorean theorem" or something similar. He looked at me like I was speaking in tongues.

    It took him a minutes, but he finally remembered what I was talking about and he asked me a few countries to jog his memory. The fact is, he had no reason to remember the formal explanations for the daily math he used. He needed to know the practical application of it. I was never going to be a tradesman so knowing the formal names and proofs was important.

    If you look around, there are loads of examples like this. Reading from a tablet, for example, is a different experience than reading a book. In time, that difference will alter how people write to the point where books look like papyrus scrolls from the Bronze Age.

    The Way of All Dark Things is an ancient Egyptian text that lists difference measurement values that relate to each other according to the Pythagorean Theorem, all the particulars completely accurate. However, the theorem itself was never stated in its abstract form of (a^2)+(b^2)=(c^2). This manuscript predates most Greek enquiry into math and definitely predates Pythagoras. Apparently, the Greek genius was in stating the general truth.

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  105. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Luke Lea
    I'd be interested in Steve's opinion about whether a lot of this new smart technology might also be making us dumber in certain practical ways? People depend on GPS to get around, which means they no longer have to remember directions or know how to read a map. The built in phone books in our cell phones means we no longer have to memorize even our close friends' telephone numbers. Kids no longer make their own toys or even play with toys or outdoor imaginative games, playing computer games instead. Drawing is less important with all the graphic programs available, even basic arithmetic is no longer necessary because you can do it on the web. Google translate deals with the problem of understanding foreign languages. Voice commands mean you don't have to know how to write, let alone spell. People don't read books for entertainment so much anymore, watching Game of Thrones instead of reading War and Peace. Etc. Over time we might evolve to be less intelligent due to these technologies.

    Now a days these youngsters don’t need to dig a hole to defacate in. They have those new fancy water closets.

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  106. scrivener3 says: • Website
    @Anonymous
    Perhaps today's youngsters are just more familiar with Raven tests - and their ways - than previous generations of youngsters.
    Basically, someone who's never encountered a Raven test in their life before, like a semi literate 1940s factory worker, and who is expected to do a whole sheaf of them in ten minutes flat, is at a disadvantage compared to someone who, inevitably, met the tests and their kind before, despite all this 'culture free' business.

    I'm sceptical if the 'Flynn effect' is anything real. It smacks of Lysenko or Lamarckism. Either genetic theory is not true or IQ tests are not true.

    I think if the Flynn Effect were due to increased familiarity with the test, then individual people’s IQ’s would go up with each testing over time. My understanding is that IQ remains surprisingly static from the first time that they see such an animal as an IQ test to the last time they are tested.

    Same would seem to apply to increased exposure to machine interfaces. I don’t think any exercise has been proven to increase the IQ of anyone on a material basis.

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  107. The Flynn effect is caused by morphic resonance. One person takes an IQ test and makes it easier for the next person and so on.

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  108. @Anonymous
    Perhaps today's youngsters are just more familiar with Raven tests - and their ways - than previous generations of youngsters.
    Basically, someone who's never encountered a Raven test in their life before, like a semi literate 1940s factory worker, and who is expected to do a whole sheaf of them in ten minutes flat, is at a disadvantage compared to someone who, inevitably, met the tests and their kind before, despite all this 'culture free' business.

    I'm sceptical if the 'Flynn effect' is anything real. It smacks of Lysenko or Lamarckism. Either genetic theory is not true or IQ tests are not true.

    Basically, someone who’s never encountered a Raven test in their life before, like a semi literate 1940s factory worker, and who is expected to do a whole sheaf of them in ten minutes flat

    Ravens is untimed.

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  109. @Steve Sailer
    The U.S. during WWII could draw on a huge reservoir of shade tree mechanics who had experience fixing internal combustion engine vehicles such as the Model T.

    The Japanese, with about half the population, had a brilliant layer of urban mechanics that made them better at naval air warfare in 1941, but after they started losing aircraft carriers in 1942, they were extremely hard pressed to replace the losses, while the U.S. just churned out an immense fleet of aircraft carriers. My guess is that America had little trouble shifting a 30 year old farmer to a mechanical job in war work because the farmer already had a tractor or a car and spent a lot of time socializing around cars being repaired. Japanese farmers, however, faced a steeper learning curve because they barely knew anybody with a car or a tractor.

    That reservoir of shade tree mechanics was recently on display in East Ukraine.

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  110. Anon5 says:
    @Steve Sailer
    The philosopher who writes about old movies, Stanley Somebody, has argued that Buster Keaton's silent films came at the peak of Americans' familiarity with mechanical physics. Americans in 1925 could anticipate better than we can what kind of trouble Buster was likely getting himself into with, say, that pulley contraption he was rigging up.

    Buster Keaton movies are like "The Martian" in that Buster solves his current problem which causes a new problem that he in turn solves which causes yet another problem and so forth and so on.

    Stanley Cavell?

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  111. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @AshTon
    Socrates said that the written word was the enemy of memory - once you write something down you no longer need to remember it. He had a point.

    All modern technologies build on this problem. You no longer need to know to do anything - you just rely on your smartphone. You just need to know how to use Google. The flabby mind which results is just like the flabby body in the age of mechanized transport.

    -”Socrates said that the written word was the enemy of memory – once you write something down you no longer need to remember it. He had a point.”

    I find that when I write something down the chance of my remembering it increases, whether I’ve consciously made a point of remembering it or not.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
    "I find that when I write something down the chance of my remembering it increases, whether I’ve consciously made a point of remembering it or not."

    Yup. If you're revising, write it down.
  112. Pat Casey says:
    @education realist
    Three plus years ago, I wrote about (and you linked), The Gap in the GRE, observing that on the (now old) GRE, fewer than 10-12% ever got over 600 on the Verbal. That seems related. High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don't really know what to do with them. Yet I'm pretty sure it's my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.

    Also related, I think: the increasing schism between high and low IQ TV shows. Read TV critics today, and you'd think the #1 scripted TV show didn't exist, whilst they're obsessing over TV shows like Mad Men and Game of Thrones with barely a fraction of the ratings or watchers. They can do this, of course, because the critically acclaimed shows have the higher ad rates and the more expensive audiences.

    And the black/white difference in top rated TV shows---I can't find a link right now, but as I recall they are very different. Likewise, the late night shows are increasingly targeted to a high IQ audience. That was the major difference between Jay Leno vs Letterman/everyone else; Jay's comedy was generally set about 10 IQ points lower than the others (you've written about that, too). Reality shows are targeted more to lower IQs. And all of this seems more verbal.

    Looking at your list, I see a connection to the skills/knowledge debate in education, and it relates to my own experiences. The complaint by the knowledge folk--Don Hirsch and the rest--is that we don't teach knowledge, instead focusing on relatively empty "skills". I've pointed out that the kids don't seem to retain knowledge, so we seek to increase engagement by increasing skills (whether explicitly or not). That last is my opinion, but another big gun in this area,Grant Wiggins, made a similar point. It's not that people like Grant and me think knowledge is unimportant; it's just incredibly difficult to teach.

    So the list shows that we've increased the skills, the processing side of things, but haven't made much of a dent in knowledge. Which suggests two things: 1) skills are, indeed, easier to teach, probably because of the tremendous environmental changes in tech and 2) knowledge is really important to overall IQ.

    Unfortunately, one thing that would make it easier to transmit knowledge and possibly improve the content base of low IQ folks would be an agreed upon body of knowledge. That's politically impossible, which is why Hirsch's proffered content is constantly blasted.

    Regarding knowledge that’s hard to teach to the less intelligent, consider what Impressionism was after at the end of the day: an impression of the impression that captures the real image that leaves an impression. It’s simply true that Monet leaves a greater impression on people than anything at least two periods prior, and that’s demonstrable if only because it bears the opinion of the less intelligent. What I remember from a year of intensive special-ed for auditory processing disorder in third grade is what my pretty teacher looked like. But seriously, I believe you are right that knowledge is hard to teach—but because it can mostly only be shown. I would just show them art all day and get them talking about it, and trust that if the art leaves an impression on you it will on them. But that’s just my impression.

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  113. @Anon7
    "Word is slow on old machines because it’s a bloated mess, not because there’s some real need for a very fast processor to do what Word Perfect on a 16 MHz 286 could do just fine."

    Darn kids and their reliance on overpowered hardware. All you really needed was Apple Writer running on a 6502 processor running at 1 MHz... You probably thought you needed upper AND lower case characters...

    There’s a great interview with Paul Lutus, the guy who wrote AppleWriter, on a retro podcast out a couple months ago.

    I remember talking to the old hoodoo Don Lancaster some thirty years ago and him expounding on how this was the singularly finest piece of software in the history of computers. It was interesting to hear Lutus readily admit that Applewriter was replaced by a program that was, in his own opinion, superior, not because it was so elegantly coded in raw assembler, but because it did a lot more for the customer.

    Applewriter was Lutus’ first substantial piece of software, and he had no experience with programming when he decided to write it. It was, like most useful 8 bit box applications, entirely done in assembler. It took him several months of full time work. Although Applewriter had somewhat fallen from favor even on the Apple II/IIGS platform, the change to the Motorola on the Mac killed it completely. Not one line of code could be reused.

    About fifteen years after that, I was at a demo for NeXT. Using the toolset included in NeXT Develpoer, very similar to what is still used on MacOS X, the demo presenter went through and coded a very basic but functional word processor in about 45 minutes. It was several megabytes in size as a compiled executable, but it was actually four programs in one: it would run on any NeXT box whether it had a x86, 68K, Sparc or HP processor.

    Which was the more impressive code?

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  114. @Lugash
    I think on average mechanical skills are decreasing, but on the right hand side of the distribution they're increasing. For most people modern cars are pretty bulletproof and self monitoring, so changing the spark plugs or adjusting the timing doesn't make much sense. For guys who like to tinker, there's never been more knowledge available for free.

    You also have to consider that as much as many people would prefer to have the old, simple technology in a car, automakers couldn’t make them that way if they wanted any more. The modern automobile is incredibly regulated with “safety” and emissions legislation. Dozens of features are built into all cars, whether you want them or not, or even know what they are. And to meat CAFE standards, cars have to be far more lightly built than the market would prefer, which means everything is packed in so tightly working on anything requires either massive disassembly or being a contortionist with a lot of specialized tools.

    Read More
  115. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:
    @Former Darfur
    Most telco's don't even have the decoding for pulse dial installed. I occasionally hook an old piece of dial era test equipment up that acts as a phone for demo, and while it will receive calls and measure line conditions just fine, out dialing means I have to clip a DTMF butt set across the pair. I have several old WE phones I just can't bear to throw out, including 1A2 sets and whatnot, but they sit in the attic.

    Anyway, if you could use one workstation in the 80s and 90s, you could use them all, since they were all just Unix with some differences in interface.

    Anyway, if you could use one workstation in the 80s and 90s, you could use them all, since they were all just Unix with some differences in interface.

    Not the VAXstations …

    Read More
    • Replies: @Former Darfur
    Oddly enough, the VAX was the platform on which Unix really came to fruition. It was ironic, since its instruction set-huge and orthogonal, the antithesis of RISC-was specifically designed to accomodate the VMS operating system it was co-developed with, and also because DEC supremo Ken Olson hated, detested, and despised Unix.

    For a while, DEC sold two lines of pizza boxes, the VAXstation/MicroVAX and the MIPS based DECstations. None the less, a lot of academic and scientific customers bought VAXstations and promptly reformatted them and loaded Unix on them.

    When I cleaned out some of my junkpile, I found a VAXstation and put it on Craigslist. I wound up giving it to a woman who had been a VMS system manager at a bank before she retired. She wanted it so she could run the All-In-One word processor she knew and loved: her intended purpose was to write romance fiction. It takes all kinds, I guess.

    Several non-Unix workstations existed. Xerox's Star could be considered a workstation, I suppose, as could any of the various Lisp Machines, the PERQ, and there were ones that ran Unixlike but not-really-Unix systems like the Apollo DomainOS. But Unix was what made building workstations attractive and profitable: the business model was to leverage off the shelf hardware and software into a product that could far exceed what personal computers on the one hand (with no networking, minimal RAM, and feeble CPU power, especially for floating point operations) or mainframe or mini driven terminals on the other (high upfront costs for a given computational power, no graphics, and complete reliance on the big box running and then-expensive WAN connectivity) could provide. The workstation business made a lot of money and involved little burping, feeding and diaper changing of the technically inept for roughly a decade and a half, maybe two. Eventually the growth of commodity computer hardware and the availability of free, as opposed to (by mainframe standards) cheap software killed the workstation business. But it was fun while it lasted.

    One of the blogs I've really enjoyed reading, and an inadvertent source of much iStevish material is ex-Sun HR head Nancy Hauge's Consulting Adult. I think she still has a crush on Scooter. Hey, if I was a girl I probably would too. For one thing, nobody, but nobody busted Bill Gates the way Sun did.

    http://www.cnet.com/news/say-what-a-look-back-at-mcnealy-zingers/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEMriY2_Rfs
  116. newrouter says:

    “For most people modern cars are pretty bulletproof and self monitoring, so changing the spark plugs or adjusting the timing doesn’t make much sense. For guys who like to tinker, there’s never been more knowledge available for free.”

    the funny thing about the “vw emission scandal” is that vw gave the feds what they wanted and gave the public what they wanted.

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  117. Anonym says:
    @Anon7
    I'm intrigued by the idea that human beings are in some sense being trained or habituated to technology or its interfaces, and that this training is giving them a leg up on IQ tests.

    So, you could go in several directions for more evidence. Were any of the generations of men who designed or programmed Jacquard looms in the 19th century more likely to make engineering or scientific advances? How about the sons of telegraph operators? Steady jobs gets them to better nutrition, probably.

    OTOH, maybe habituation to machine interfaces actually results in simplified thinking with a narrower instruction set. (Making light in the darkness by flipping a binary switch on a flashlight obviates the need for a whole set of skills like starting a fire and then making a torch.) So, our brains are being transformed into RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Chip) chips, which process a limited number of tasks more quickly.

    Fun to think about, anyway.

    For those smart enough, better tools enable more powerful engineering and analysis. Instead of wasting your time performing basic calculations with a slide rule, or quickly churning out a few solutions with an HP48g, you build a spreadsheet or similar automated tool to find an optimal solution.

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  118. Mr. Haysom:

    Talk to me some more. I’m not sure I know what I said that irritated you so much.

    The new dishwashers that are low water and low noise suck as compared with the 1970s and 1980s models.

    Apparently there’s a gray market or semi-black market in used commodes that have larger water tanks than newer commodes with smaller water capacities. The building codes in some USA municipalities forbid swapping such newer commodes with older commodes.

    Also, earlier 20th or 19th C. commodes with the water tank mounted three to five feet above the toilet bowl flush with more pressure per unit water than toilet tanks of the same size mounted lower down because of the potential energy stored in the gravity differential or gravity drop.

    This kind of toilet tank was Thomas Crapper’s original design. My guess is that wall mounted tanks went out of style for aesthetic reasons — “low boy” tanks conceal the downflow pipe and thereby seem more modernistically minimalist.

    For guys who like to tinker, there’s never been more knowledge available for free.

    You’re right, but watch out for Youtube do-it-yourself car repair videos, which sometimes have mistakes or omissions.

    For example, a size 25 female Torx screw machine head is not the same as a male Torx screw head of the same size. ( Some might prefer to call a male screw head a bolt head. ) If you need to replace the multifunction switch ( wipers, turn signal, etc. ) on one of GM’s quality products from the 2000′s, you need tools for both types of Torx 25 screws. The Torx shape is also called a star shape. I can’t recall whether Torx fasteners have six or eight points. .. . Probably six.

    If you start taking apart the steering column and don’t have the proper Torx tool to reach the screw head which is located in a tight, small diameter spot, you can make do if you happen to have a slender, long-nosed needle nose pliers. ( Is it more idiomatic to say, “pair of pliers”? … Similar to “pair of pants.” )

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    • Replies: @Former Darfur
    There's Torx, Torx Security (center pin in the screw), Torx Plus, and a couple of variants of Torx Plus Security. They are used for two reasons: high torque and low breakage/wear in automated assembly and to keep casual tinkerers out.

    If you intend to re-use the fastener, it is essential to use exactly the right bit or wrench.

    The good thing is that most cars will only use three or four different ones throughout the car. The bad thing is that it's different for any other make of car.

    The common ones for GM cars are available at most any auto parts place. For others, you will need to chase a Snap-On truck or buy them online from tool vendors.
  119. ” I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times.”

    The mind reels. Good lord. Ya think?

    I was making precisely the opposite point. Certain–alas, wrongly so–that everyone would understand the essentially spatial nature of math, I was saying that despite my failure to understand math the normal way (that is, spatial), I was finally able to figure out math using whole different parts of my brain than usual. That is, despite the fact that we “don’t know what to do with” high verbal IQs, they have some utility beyond being “good at reading” that I don’t think we’ve figured out yet.

    Steve,

    I’m exactly the opposite on PCs, although I also use them extensively. I buy super cheap so I don’t hate it when they break. They never do; I keep each one for 3-4 years, paying about $500 or so. Someone’s going to say they get them cheaper. As if that matters.

    And to the room–why on earth is it so necessary to sneer on current generations? I very much doubt we’ve lost any of the qualities everyone’s offering up. More likely, we’ve lost the ability to use slide rules and take square roots in our head.

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    • Replies: @cthulhu
    "The mind reels" indeed - you completely missed MY point.

    Math has a strong symbolic component, and it is not really surprising that someone with a strong verbal IQ could tackle it successfully, at least to a point. But that will eventually fail, at least in physics and engineering.

    As far as high verbal IQ, logic should be a good place for those people, and hence they should make good programmers.

    And for someone with a high verbal IQ, your sense of irony and understatement could apparently use some development :-/
    , @Santoculto
    Hardcore hbds think like machines, that's why they go into a screw when they see some genuine demonstration of empathy. I do not know how people with high verbal IQ works, on average, i do not know if the people who make the humanities are representative of them in all. But starting from the idea that greater verbal intelligence to represent greater semantic intelligence , ie, a greater ability to understand the world via vocabulary invented by man, I think the importance of part them will be significant, especially in this area of ​​expertise.

    I am an example of this capability, at least with regard to the wisdom and i have a mediocre mathematical intelligence, at best. Again, we are not robots, though some feel that it does, because they may have more disposition to think by rigid and reductionist way. Personality dimensions is what brings people together, for example, to read this text and agree with the author. If it was intelligence, then we would not have at least one-third of '' smarters '' trying to deconstruct each paragraph of text.

    I'm not racialist because I '' have '' iq X or Y, but because I am very slightly obsessive compulsive with order and i have a personality/cognition profile which is the opposite of what prevails among blacks. Our first understanding is the visual or perceptual (in the case of blind people).

    What is a mystery to me is to try to understand how that mathematicians may find themselves so superior in relation to others, we tend to make lousy teachers and I'm not just talking of the smartest types, but medium teachers as well.

    One reason to have societies far from perfect occurs because of the lack of people who can improve their communication skills, making it more efficient, diplomatic and coherent.

    If hbds cease to transpire rather its dark enlightment, I would not doubt if they could attract twice as many people currently follow them.

    This competition to see who is the smartest is just another symptom as the denial of human cognitive diversity and the monstrous ego and nonsense of this kind.

    The verbally intelligent, have their respective roles in society that will tend not to be transferable to other groups. The social system is basically like a machine where different parts have different functions, it is observe and understand cognitive diversity and without the need to push a equalitarist ideology without intellectual substance.
    , @Benjamin I. Espen
    I'm not sneering at anyone, it just seems likely that you can't be good at everything, and I'm curious what we aren't good at anymore.
  120. cthulhu says:
    @education realist
    " I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times."

    The mind reels. Good lord. Ya think?

    I was making precisely the opposite point. Certain--alas, wrongly so--that everyone would understand the essentially spatial nature of math, I was saying that despite my failure to understand math the normal way (that is, spatial), I was finally able to figure out math using whole different parts of my brain than usual. That is, despite the fact that we "don't know what to do with" high verbal IQs, they have some utility beyond being "good at reading" that I don't think we've figured out yet.

    Steve,

    I'm exactly the opposite on PCs, although I also use them extensively. I buy super cheap so I don't hate it when they break. They never do; I keep each one for 3-4 years, paying about $500 or so. Someone's going to say they get them cheaper. As if that matters.

    And to the room--why on earth is it so necessary to sneer on current generations? I very much doubt we've lost any of the qualities everyone's offering up. More likely, we've lost the ability to use slide rules and take square roots in our head.

    “The mind reels” indeed – you completely missed MY point.

    Math has a strong symbolic component, and it is not really surprising that someone with a strong verbal IQ could tackle it successfully, at least to a point. But that will eventually fail, at least in physics and engineering.

    As far as high verbal IQ, logic should be a good place for those people, and hence they should make good programmers.

    And for someone with a high verbal IQ, your sense of irony and understatement could apparently use some development :-/

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  121. MEH 0910 says:
    @Average Man
    OT: The Atlantic is going in with the pro-refugee narrative:


    Highlighting an attack on a candidate for mayor:

    "According to reports, her attacker was a 44-year-old Cologne man, who had been unemployed for several years. The assailant told police that “he wanted to and did commit this act because of anti-foreigner motives.” Another woman, an aide to Reker, was also seriously wounded and three others were lightly injured as they sought to help fend off the attacker.
     
    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/germany-cologne-mayor-attack-henriette-reker/411139/

    Comparing Xenophobia in Western vs. Eastern Europe

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/xenophobia-eastern-europe-refugees/410800/

    It's funny what crimes and topics the media chooses to highlight and report on.

    Conversely OT: ‘It Makes Me Very Sad’ Says Open Borders Activist Brutally Stabbed by Migrant Gang

    A pro-migrant, open borders activist is reported to be “very sad” after being stabbed twice in the back by a gang of “Arabs” as he stood outside a pizzeria in Dresden, east Germany.

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  122. OT – Christopher Caldwell on Merkel’s Boner

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/rising-migrant-tide_1046314.html

    “There is something in this that reminds one of the financial crisis of 2008. Like a too-big-to-fail bank, Merkel has made a bet that will allow her to pocket the credit if she succeeds and spread the baleful consequences to others if she fails. It appears now that she is going to fail. Her defenders exult that she is showing a different face of Germany than the one the world knows from the last century of its history. It is premature to say so. Merkel is showing the face of a Germany that is acting unilaterally, claiming superior moral authority, and answering those who object by saying they’ll thank her for this someday.”

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  123. @The most deplorable one
    Anyway, if you could use one workstation in the 80s and 90s, you could use them all, since they were all just Unix with some differences in interface.

    Not the VAXstations ...

    Oddly enough, the VAX was the platform on which Unix really came to fruition. It was ironic, since its instruction set-huge and orthogonal, the antithesis of RISC-was specifically designed to accomodate the VMS operating system it was co-developed with, and also because DEC supremo Ken Olson hated, detested, and despised Unix.

    For a while, DEC sold two lines of pizza boxes, the VAXstation/MicroVAX and the MIPS based DECstations. None the less, a lot of academic and scientific customers bought VAXstations and promptly reformatted them and loaded Unix on them.

    When I cleaned out some of my junkpile, I found a VAXstation and put it on Craigslist. I wound up giving it to a woman who had been a VMS system manager at a bank before she retired. She wanted it so she could run the All-In-One word processor she knew and loved: her intended purpose was to write romance fiction. It takes all kinds, I guess.

    Several non-Unix workstations existed. Xerox’s Star could be considered a workstation, I suppose, as could any of the various Lisp Machines, the PERQ, and there were ones that ran Unixlike but not-really-Unix systems like the Apollo DomainOS. But Unix was what made building workstations attractive and profitable: the business model was to leverage off the shelf hardware and software into a product that could far exceed what personal computers on the one hand (with no networking, minimal RAM, and feeble CPU power, especially for floating point operations) or mainframe or mini driven terminals on the other (high upfront costs for a given computational power, no graphics, and complete reliance on the big box running and then-expensive WAN connectivity) could provide. The workstation business made a lot of money and involved little burping, feeding and diaper changing of the technically inept for roughly a decade and a half, maybe two. Eventually the growth of commodity computer hardware and the availability of free, as opposed to (by mainframe standards) cheap software killed the workstation business. But it was fun while it lasted.

    One of the blogs I’ve really enjoyed reading, and an inadvertent source of much iStevish material is ex-Sun HR head Nancy Hauge’s Consulting Adult. I think she still has a crush on Scooter. Hey, if I was a girl I probably would too. For one thing, nobody, but nobody busted Bill Gates the way Sun did.

    http://www.cnet.com/news/say-what-a-look-back-at-mcnealy-zingers/

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  124. @Anonymous
    -"Socrates said that the written word was the enemy of memory – once you write something down you no longer need to remember it. He had a point."

    I find that when I write something down the chance of my remembering it increases, whether I've consciously made a point of remembering it or not.

    “I find that when I write something down the chance of my remembering it increases, whether I’ve consciously made a point of remembering it or not.”

    Yup. If you’re revising, write it down.

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  125. @David Davenport
    Mr. Haysom:

    Talk to me some more. I'm not sure I know what I said that irritated you so much.

    The new dishwashers that are low water and low noise suck as compared with the 1970s and 1980s models.

    Apparently there's a gray market or semi-black market in used commodes that have larger water tanks than newer commodes with smaller water capacities. The building codes in some USA municipalities forbid swapping such newer commodes with older commodes.

    Also, earlier 20th or 19th C. commodes with the water tank mounted three to five feet above the toilet bowl flush with more pressure per unit water than toilet tanks of the same size mounted lower down because of the potential energy stored in the gravity differential or gravity drop.

    This kind of toilet tank was Thomas Crapper's original design. My guess is that wall mounted tanks went out of style for aesthetic reasons -- "low boy" tanks conceal the downflow pipe and thereby seem more modernistically minimalist.

    For guys who like to tinker, there’s never been more knowledge available for free.

    You're right, but watch out for Youtube do-it-yourself car repair videos, which sometimes have mistakes or omissions.

    For example, a size 25 female Torx screw machine head is not the same as a male Torx screw head of the same size. ( Some might prefer to call a male screw head a bolt head. ) If you need to replace the multifunction switch ( wipers, turn signal, etc. ) on one of GM's quality products from the 2000's, you need tools for both types of Torx 25 screws. The Torx shape is also called a star shape. I can't recall whether Torx fasteners have six or eight points. .. . Probably six.

    If you start taking apart the steering column and don't have the proper Torx tool to reach the screw head which is located in a tight, small diameter spot, you can make do if you happen to have a slender, long-nosed needle nose pliers. ( Is it more idiomatic to say, "pair of pliers"? ... Similar to "pair of pants." )

    There’s Torx, Torx Security (center pin in the screw), Torx Plus, and a couple of variants of Torx Plus Security. They are used for two reasons: high torque and low breakage/wear in automated assembly and to keep casual tinkerers out.

    If you intend to re-use the fastener, it is essential to use exactly the right bit or wrench.

    The good thing is that most cars will only use three or four different ones throughout the car. The bad thing is that it’s different for any other make of car.

    The common ones for GM cars are available at most any auto parts place. For others, you will need to chase a Snap-On truck or buy them online from tool vendors.

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    • Replies: @Lugash
    I foolishly bought a mid 2000s GM product. It had f'ing Torx bolts securing the air filter housing. I get why they use it for assembly, but it's still ridiculous.

    On the opposite side, I think GM has made an effort yo standardize on 10mm hex sockets where possible.
  126. Carl says:
    @jjbees
    One thing I've noticed over time is how rare material with a high vocabulary demand is.
    For example, Steve, you tend to be quite prolix and make use of a good number of rare words, as does your commentariat. Use of rare words tends to be a dead give-away for people who read much, and like to read. In daily conversation I will sometimes throw a rare word in edgewise, but there really isn't an audience for it outside of working for the Financial Times or commenting on your blogs. When the modern world is based on taking multiple choice tests, flicking your way through a smartphone menu, and vegging out in front of Netflix, what does it mean for human linguistic capacity? Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?

    Huh? Steve is not prolix at all. Nor does he use uncommon words all that much. What blog have you been reading?!

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  127. Brutusale says:
    @Lugash
    I think on average mechanical skills are decreasing, but on the right hand side of the distribution they're increasing. For most people modern cars are pretty bulletproof and self monitoring, so changing the spark plugs or adjusting the timing doesn't make much sense. For guys who like to tinker, there's never been more knowledge available for free.

    Automotive technology hit its peak with the ’72 Chevy Nova, which came with a carburetor that a non-mechanical 17-year old and his 15-year old brother could rebuild with a $7 kit from the auto parts store.

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  128. @education realist
    " I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times."

    The mind reels. Good lord. Ya think?

    I was making precisely the opposite point. Certain--alas, wrongly so--that everyone would understand the essentially spatial nature of math, I was saying that despite my failure to understand math the normal way (that is, spatial), I was finally able to figure out math using whole different parts of my brain than usual. That is, despite the fact that we "don't know what to do with" high verbal IQs, they have some utility beyond being "good at reading" that I don't think we've figured out yet.

    Steve,

    I'm exactly the opposite on PCs, although I also use them extensively. I buy super cheap so I don't hate it when they break. They never do; I keep each one for 3-4 years, paying about $500 or so. Someone's going to say they get them cheaper. As if that matters.

    And to the room--why on earth is it so necessary to sneer on current generations? I very much doubt we've lost any of the qualities everyone's offering up. More likely, we've lost the ability to use slide rules and take square roots in our head.

    Hardcore hbds think like machines, that’s why they go into a screw when they see some genuine demonstration of empathy. I do not know how people with high verbal IQ works, on average, i do not know if the people who make the humanities are representative of them in all. But starting from the idea that greater verbal intelligence to represent greater semantic intelligence , ie, a greater ability to understand the world via vocabulary invented by man, I think the importance of part them will be significant, especially in this area of ​​expertise.

    I am an example of this capability, at least with regard to the wisdom and i have a mediocre mathematical intelligence, at best. Again, we are not robots, though some feel that it does, because they may have more disposition to think by rigid and reductionist way. Personality dimensions is what brings people together, for example, to read this text and agree with the author. If it was intelligence, then we would not have at least one-third of ” smarters ” trying to deconstruct each paragraph of text.

    I’m not racialist because I ” have ” iq X or Y, but because I am very slightly obsessive compulsive with order and i have a personality/cognition profile which is the opposite of what prevails among blacks. Our first understanding is the visual or perceptual (in the case of blind people).

    What is a mystery to me is to try to understand how that mathematicians may find themselves so superior in relation to others, we tend to make lousy teachers and I’m not just talking of the smartest types, but medium teachers as well.

    One reason to have societies far from perfect occurs because of the lack of people who can improve their communication skills, making it more efficient, diplomatic and coherent.

    If hbds cease to transpire rather its dark enlightment, I would not doubt if they could attract twice as many people currently follow them.

    This competition to see who is the smartest is just another symptom as the denial of human cognitive diversity and the monstrous ego and nonsense of this kind.

    The verbally intelligent, have their respective roles in society that will tend not to be transferable to other groups. The social system is basically like a machine where different parts have different functions, it is observe and understand cognitive diversity and without the need to push a equalitarist ideology without intellectual substance.

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  129. EriK says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Over the course of a three-year lifespan for a laptop I use it about 10,000 hours. So, the cost to me per hour of the higher reliability and lower frustration of a Mac with OS X over a Dell with Windows, which I used for most of the previous quarter of a century, is in the range of a nickel per hour for me.

    Seems worth it to me.

    Given the substantial amount of time you put in writing and reading does your laptop stay in the same place a lot (my guess) or do you move it around much?

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  130. There’s Torx, Torx Security (center pin in the screw), Torx Plus, and a couple of variants of Torx Plus Security. They are used for two reasons: high torque and low breakage/wear in automated assembly and to keep casual tinkerers out.

    OK, I didn’t know all that.

    Here’s part of the story: To access the multifunction switch on the left side of the steering column, the O-fficial GM shop manual says to remove the steering wheel and steering wheel air bag, then remove the upper and lower steering column covers. However, it saves beaucoup time and complications if one can get the steering column covers off without removing the steering wheel.

    The presence of the steering wheel does make it difficult to get a tool on two Torx screws which fasten the upper steering column. Why the screw to the left side had to be female Torx but the screw to the right side be male, you’d have to ask Government Motors.

    ….

    I intended to use use this Torx business as a lead-in to a longer tale about car repairs, but I want to go to the gym just now. There’s this pretty woman who is usually at the gym between noon and 2:00 PM Central Time. She is good looking, but her arms and shoulders are on the verge of becoming too muscular for many people’s taste, although she’s fine with me. Her body resembles that of the actress — Linda Something? –who was paired with Arnold S. in some of the Terminator movies.

    Flirting or trying to flirt with this girl does me more good than going to church. She is extremely erotically appealing, at least to me, when she gets sweaty.

    Drawbacks? She’s really too young for me. Furthermore, I have an unpleasant suspicion that her own erotic tastes are not altogether wholesome. You know the stereotype about athletic women …

    If she’d have me, I’d revere her as a good Christian man should, although I’ve become skeptical about the Old Man, the Kid, and the Spook.

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    • Replies: @Former Darfur
    There is no incentive for manufacturers to make cars easier to work on. There is a great incentive to make them cheaper to assemble.

    Most people in the US are either new car buyers, late model used car buyers, and there are still a few of the old style, DIY oriented, buy them cash, fix them up, fully depreciated car buyers.

    The new car buyer buys them new and trades out of them before the warranty is up. Usually, he makes a payment every month and has no intent to ever have a car paid for completely. If it breaks, that is a warranty expense. He has no incentive to want a car to be simple to work on. He never will do so, and probably will never pay a full repair bill either.

    The late model buyer buys the cars the first guy trades in. He is buying a payment and usually a warranty, just like the new car guy. He might change his own oil and stuff, but serious repairs are out of the question. He also has little saved up money to pay the sums car mechanics charge either. He tends to sell the old car about the time it's paid off or the first time after that serious work might be needed.

    After that the car goes to one of three places: the salvage yard, a buy-here-pay-here outfit who will patch it together and sell it for payments (and repo it the first time a payment is missed), or someone like my kin, who fix them up and drive them. At least, all the ones on my dad's side of the family. They are pretty good at the workarounds, the (word we can't say)-rigs, the old make-one-from-two move (buy two nonrunning similar cars and make one good one), and knowing where to find engines, transmissions, etc, that work. Usually they have a place to work, and jacks, jackstands, if they are lucky a place to hang a winch.

    But their kind are getting scarcer. The kids don't want to do this kind of stuff any more, and the tooling costs are getting higher, and also, cars are getting better about running until everything is completely shot, and you have failed transaxles, engines with head and block cracks, and so forth and fixing them means replacing everything.

    Eventually, the carmakers and the do-gooders in government will inflict a system like Japan and Singapore have on us, where owning cars more than a set number of years old is either illegal or economically infeasible. In effect, all cars will be leased and all will be scrapped at a certain number of years. You won't own it and you won't be able to work on it.
  131. @5371
    People who overestimate the importance of IQ as a universal key to the human mind are trapped by their own assumptions into overestimating the importance of the "Flynn effect". It's poetic justice, but has little to do with actual intelligence either way.

    People who overestimate the importance of IQ as a universal key to the human mind are trapped by their own assumptions into overestimating the importance of the “Flynn effect”.

    IQ itself is just a measurement or calculation (intelligence is the trait), and IQ tests can produce wildly different measurements of the same person’s intelligence.

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  132. Lugash says:
    @Former Darfur
    There's Torx, Torx Security (center pin in the screw), Torx Plus, and a couple of variants of Torx Plus Security. They are used for two reasons: high torque and low breakage/wear in automated assembly and to keep casual tinkerers out.

    If you intend to re-use the fastener, it is essential to use exactly the right bit or wrench.

    The good thing is that most cars will only use three or four different ones throughout the car. The bad thing is that it's different for any other make of car.

    The common ones for GM cars are available at most any auto parts place. For others, you will need to chase a Snap-On truck or buy them online from tool vendors.

    I foolishly bought a mid 2000s GM product. It had f’ing Torx bolts securing the air filter housing. I get why they use it for assembly, but it’s still ridiculous.

    On the opposite side, I think GM has made an effort yo standardize on 10mm hex sockets where possible.

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  133. As many have noted, software has become an order of magnitude bigger than a decade ago. And clock speed has also stagnated in rate of increase. Now we seem to be hitting the wall on the number of transistors we can build into a chip (per given unit of size). 7nm chips are proving much more difficult to build than anticipated. And 5nm, while proven in the lab, may not hit any consumer devices until well into the 2020′s.

    Back to the software, I wonder how much of the current situation is a result of the industry’s top talent being drawn to VR and AI coding? If rumors have any value, we will soon see some mind blowing AR (augmented reality). Google “Magic Leap” for a hint at the future. $1 billion in VC can’t be wrong can it?

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  134. AP says:

    Richard Lynn has pointed out that intelligence has peaked and even begun to decline in some Western countries:

    http://www.iapsych.com/iqmr/fe/LinkedDocuments/lynn2008.pdf

    Which makes sense. I suspect peak IQ in terms of verbal abilities among the very most intelligent occurred sometime in the early to mid 20th century if not earlier, but this was easily overcome by spread of literacy, improved diet, socialization towards “scientific thinking”, etc. within the general population. Now, practice with video games and increasingly sophisticated toys improves processing speed involving visual information while vocabulary declines. As John Lukacs observed, we are going from a verbally oriented to a visually oriented society, in some respects regressing to a pre-literate way of functioning, although the level of visual information is and will be much more complex than it had been for medieval peasants so IQ as measured by something like the Raven’s may not decline as much. The person of the future may have the ability to manipulate various shapes on a screen at a very fast rate, yet will be unable to adequately understand or attend to a novel, a skill that will have gone the way of calligraphy.

    Interesting fact: chimps have the equivalent of the WAIS’s working memory (on a task is not similar to any of the WAIS’s subtests but measures the same thing) that surpasses that of humans:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096098220702088X

    I don’t think “progress” is the right word to describe increasing or stable nonverbal skills when verbal functioning declines.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    Interesting fact: chimps have the equivalent of the WAIS’s working memory (on a task is not similar to any of the WAIS’s subtests but measures the same thing) that surpasses that of humans
     
    The article describes as "working memory" what is really just short-term memory. Digits forward isn't a good test of verbal memory. In the chimps, what seems to be involved is the capacity of what has been called the "visual sketch pad."

    [Working memory is holding something in mind while performing some other demanding task.]
  135. @David Davenport
    There’s Torx, Torx Security (center pin in the screw), Torx Plus, and a couple of variants of Torx Plus Security. They are used for two reasons: high torque and low breakage/wear in automated assembly and to keep casual tinkerers out.

    OK, I didn't know all that.

    Here's part of the story: To access the multifunction switch on the left side of the steering column, the O-fficial GM shop manual says to remove the steering wheel and steering wheel air bag, then remove the upper and lower steering column covers. However, it saves beaucoup time and complications if one can get the steering column covers off without removing the steering wheel.

    The presence of the steering wheel does make it difficult to get a tool on two Torx screws which fasten the upper steering column. Why the screw to the left side had to be female Torx but the screw to the right side be male, you'd have to ask Government Motors.

    ....

    I intended to use use this Torx business as a lead-in to a longer tale about car repairs, but I want to go to the gym just now. There's this pretty woman who is usually at the gym between noon and 2:00 PM Central Time. She is good looking, but her arms and shoulders are on the verge of becoming too muscular for many people's taste, although she's fine with me. Her body resembles that of the actress -- Linda Something? --who was paired with Arnold S. in some of the Terminator movies.

    Flirting or trying to flirt with this girl does me more good than going to church. She is extremely erotically appealing, at least to me, when she gets sweaty.

    Drawbacks? She's really too young for me. Furthermore, I have an unpleasant suspicion that her own erotic tastes are not altogether wholesome. You know the stereotype about athletic women ...

    If she'd have me, I'd revere her as a good Christian man should, although I've become skeptical about the Old Man, the Kid, and the Spook.

    There is no incentive for manufacturers to make cars easier to work on. There is a great incentive to make them cheaper to assemble.

    Most people in the US are either new car buyers, late model used car buyers, and there are still a few of the old style, DIY oriented, buy them cash, fix them up, fully depreciated car buyers.

    The new car buyer buys them new and trades out of them before the warranty is up. Usually, he makes a payment every month and has no intent to ever have a car paid for completely. If it breaks, that is a warranty expense. He has no incentive to want a car to be simple to work on. He never will do so, and probably will never pay a full repair bill either.

    The late model buyer buys the cars the first guy trades in. He is buying a payment and usually a warranty, just like the new car guy. He might change his own oil and stuff, but serious repairs are out of the question. He also has little saved up money to pay the sums car mechanics charge either. He tends to sell the old car about the time it’s paid off or the first time after that serious work might be needed.

    After that the car goes to one of three places: the salvage yard, a buy-here-pay-here outfit who will patch it together and sell it for payments (and repo it the first time a payment is missed), or someone like my kin, who fix them up and drive them. At least, all the ones on my dad’s side of the family. They are pretty good at the workarounds, the (word we can’t say)-rigs, the old make-one-from-two move (buy two nonrunning similar cars and make one good one), and knowing where to find engines, transmissions, etc, that work. Usually they have a place to work, and jacks, jackstands, if they are lucky a place to hang a winch.

    But their kind are getting scarcer. The kids don’t want to do this kind of stuff any more, and the tooling costs are getting higher, and also, cars are getting better about running until everything is completely shot, and you have failed transaxles, engines with head and block cracks, and so forth and fixing them means replacing everything.

    Eventually, the carmakers and the do-gooders in government will inflict a system like Japan and Singapore have on us, where owning cars more than a set number of years old is either illegal or economically infeasible. In effect, all cars will be leased and all will be scrapped at a certain number of years. You won’t own it and you won’t be able to work on it.

    Read More
  136. AP says:
    @Chrisnonymous
    I think you've set up a false dichotomy. If people can learn to improve their IQ scores, they're actually learning to improve their IQ. So a world in which everyone is prepping for IQ tests is a world where people's IQs are actually getting higher.

    The problem is that, while IQ is a real and significant aspect of mental functioning, it isn't everything, but we tend to forget. We can imagine a computer, for example, that could perform off the charts on IQ tests but was totally incapable of managing a series of tasks like making a shopping list and picking up milk at the store (no arms! no arms? what are arms like?).

    However, in a world where more and more things are based on insularly cognitive skills, it's possible that people could be prepping for IQ tests and getting smarter in a real world sense.

    The real problems I see with the "gaming" idea are that (1) people don't actually do this and (2) even if they do, they didn't in the past and (3) if it's just test prepping, there's going to be a ceiling on the improvements, which I suspect we would have hit already...

    I think you’ve set up a false dichotomy. If people can learn to improve their IQ scores, they’re actually learning to improve their IQ. So a world in which everyone is prepping for IQ tests is a world where people’s IQs are actually getting higher.

    Not really – they would only be able to game that one test better. Has someone who has memorized all the answers to a single specific history test become really knowledgeable about history?

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  137. @AP
    Richard Lynn has pointed out that intelligence has peaked and even begun to decline in some Western countries:

    http://www.iapsych.com/iqmr/fe/LinkedDocuments/lynn2008.pdf

    Which makes sense. I suspect peak IQ in terms of verbal abilities among the very most intelligent occurred sometime in the early to mid 20th century if not earlier, but this was easily overcome by spread of literacy, improved diet, socialization towards "scientific thinking", etc. within the general population. Now, practice with video games and increasingly sophisticated toys improves processing speed involving visual information while vocabulary declines. As John Lukacs observed, we are going from a verbally oriented to a visually oriented society, in some respects regressing to a pre-literate way of functioning, although the level of visual information is and will be much more complex than it had been for medieval peasants so IQ as measured by something like the Raven's may not decline as much. The person of the future may have the ability to manipulate various shapes on a screen at a very fast rate, yet will be unable to adequately understand or attend to a novel, a skill that will have gone the way of calligraphy.

    Interesting fact: chimps have the equivalent of the WAIS's working memory (on a task is not similar to any of the WAIS's subtests but measures the same thing) that surpasses that of humans:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096098220702088X

    I don't think "progress" is the right word to describe increasing or stable nonverbal skills when verbal functioning declines.

    Interesting fact: chimps have the equivalent of the WAIS’s working memory (on a task is not similar to any of the WAIS’s subtests but measures the same thing) that surpasses that of humans

    The article describes as “working memory” what is really just short-term memory. Digits forward isn’t a good test of verbal memory. In the chimps, what seems to be involved is the capacity of what has been called the “visual sketch pad.”

    [Working memory is holding something in mind while performing some other demanding task.]

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    I suppose it's a question of how this is defined. Working memory as measured on the WAIS is holding something in mind while performing a task involving that which is held in mind - not some other task. So for example, the digit span subtest: being told a string of numbers and then having to do something with those numbers in three tasks. And another subtest involving solving math problems. The simplest thing to do with this information is to repeat it (this task doesn't involve abstract concepts such as which number is higher or lower, or the idea of backward sequences) . The chimps were doing the equivalent of the simplest part of the Digit Span subtest. On this task, their ability surpassed that of humans.
  138. AP says:
    @Stephen R. Diamond

    Interesting fact: chimps have the equivalent of the WAIS’s working memory (on a task is not similar to any of the WAIS’s subtests but measures the same thing) that surpasses that of humans
     
    The article describes as "working memory" what is really just short-term memory. Digits forward isn't a good test of verbal memory. In the chimps, what seems to be involved is the capacity of what has been called the "visual sketch pad."

    [Working memory is holding something in mind while performing some other demanding task.]

    I suppose it’s a question of how this is defined. Working memory as measured on the WAIS is holding something in mind while performing a task involving that which is held in mind – not some other task. So for example, the digit span subtest: being told a string of numbers and then having to do something with those numbers in three tasks. And another subtest involving solving math problems. The simplest thing to do with this information is to repeat it (this task doesn’t involve abstract concepts such as which number is higher or lower, or the idea of backward sequences) . The chimps were doing the equivalent of the simplest part of the Digit Span subtest. On this task, their ability surpassed that of humans.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    I suppose it’s a question of how this is defined. Working memory as measured on the WAIS is holding something in mind while performing a task involving that which is held in mind – not some other task.
     
    I concede that it's hard to criticize the author too much when the WAIS employs the same misnomer. It's an important distinction because working memory, correctly defined, has a substantial g loading whereas short-term memory does not. It's even been argued that working memory is the essence of fluid intelligence. [The WAIS used to term what's now called the working memory factor as "attention-concentration." The test maker changed the label without changing the kinds of subtests used. The WAIS-IV does not include any excellent measure of working memory as currently defined in the literature.]

    There don't seem to be data on the Flynn Effect on the digit span subtest.
  139. No exciting news to report re my visit to the Fitness Center today. I’m not Chester the child molester. She’ll be 28 yrs. old before year 2015 ends.

    Mack Daddy: I agree with everything you say. Your post is an excellent post.

    Except that if the manufacturer doesn’t make it easy for the DIY-er to fix it, that enhances the challenge of fixing it yourself. I think software hackers would empathize with this.

    As for the incongruity of my praising Trump and my orthopedic M. D. for delegating drudge work, whilst I did this plebeian repair: I called a Buick dealer to get a price for a new switch to replace the busted multifunction switch. The man quoted me three labor hours at $100 dollars/hr. This is formerly low rent, low cost Nashville. … Plus $126 and change for a new switch.

    I bought a new switch from A1Auto.com ( I think it was ) for $68 and change. I installed the thing in one hour and sixteen minutes, rounding down the seconds. Considering the time and inconvenience of dropping the vee-hicle off at a repair shop in the morning and picking it up in the afternoon, my decision was efficient in time, money, and convenience, all three.

    Yes, I did have to lie on my back and get my head up against the brake pedal to unplug the old switch and plug in the new part. I didn’t mention that earlier.

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  140. @AP
    I suppose it's a question of how this is defined. Working memory as measured on the WAIS is holding something in mind while performing a task involving that which is held in mind - not some other task. So for example, the digit span subtest: being told a string of numbers and then having to do something with those numbers in three tasks. And another subtest involving solving math problems. The simplest thing to do with this information is to repeat it (this task doesn't involve abstract concepts such as which number is higher or lower, or the idea of backward sequences) . The chimps were doing the equivalent of the simplest part of the Digit Span subtest. On this task, their ability surpassed that of humans.

    I suppose it’s a question of how this is defined. Working memory as measured on the WAIS is holding something in mind while performing a task involving that which is held in mind – not some other task.

    I concede that it’s hard to criticize the author too much when the WAIS employs the same misnomer. It’s an important distinction because working memory, correctly defined, has a substantial g loading whereas short-term memory does not. It’s even been argued that working memory is the essence of fluid intelligence. [The WAIS used to term what's now called the working memory factor as "attention-concentration." The test maker changed the label without changing the kinds of subtests used. The WAIS-IV does not include any excellent measure of working memory as currently defined in the literature.]

    There don’t seem to be data on the Flynn Effect on the digit span subtest.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Working memory is a big part of intelligence. I tried reading Kant recently, for example, but my working memory wasn't up to the job.
  141. @Stephen R. Diamond

    I suppose it’s a question of how this is defined. Working memory as measured on the WAIS is holding something in mind while performing a task involving that which is held in mind – not some other task.
     
    I concede that it's hard to criticize the author too much when the WAIS employs the same misnomer. It's an important distinction because working memory, correctly defined, has a substantial g loading whereas short-term memory does not. It's even been argued that working memory is the essence of fluid intelligence. [The WAIS used to term what's now called the working memory factor as "attention-concentration." The test maker changed the label without changing the kinds of subtests used. The WAIS-IV does not include any excellent measure of working memory as currently defined in the literature.]

    There don't seem to be data on the Flynn Effect on the digit span subtest.

    Working memory is a big part of intelligence. I tried reading Kant recently, for example, but my working memory wasn’t up to the job.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    What first persuaded me of the importance of working memory were studies in the 90s predicting reading comprehension (and SAT-V) scores from working-memory tests.
  142. @Steve Sailer
    Working memory is a big part of intelligence. I tried reading Kant recently, for example, but my working memory wasn't up to the job.

    What first persuaded me of the importance of working memory were studies in the 90s predicting reading comprehension (and SAT-V) scores from working-memory tests.

    Read More
  143. @education realist
    Three plus years ago, I wrote about (and you linked), The Gap in the GRE, observing that on the (now old) GRE, fewer than 10-12% ever got over 600 on the Verbal. That seems related. High verbal IQs are very rare, and we still don't really know what to do with them. Yet I'm pretty sure it's my high verbal IQ that ultimately allowed me to learn math, when all the teachers had failed to help.

    Also related, I think: the increasing schism between high and low IQ TV shows. Read TV critics today, and you'd think the #1 scripted TV show didn't exist, whilst they're obsessing over TV shows like Mad Men and Game of Thrones with barely a fraction of the ratings or watchers. They can do this, of course, because the critically acclaimed shows have the higher ad rates and the more expensive audiences.

    And the black/white difference in top rated TV shows---I can't find a link right now, but as I recall they are very different. Likewise, the late night shows are increasingly targeted to a high IQ audience. That was the major difference between Jay Leno vs Letterman/everyone else; Jay's comedy was generally set about 10 IQ points lower than the others (you've written about that, too). Reality shows are targeted more to lower IQs. And all of this seems more verbal.

    Looking at your list, I see a connection to the skills/knowledge debate in education, and it relates to my own experiences. The complaint by the knowledge folk--Don Hirsch and the rest--is that we don't teach knowledge, instead focusing on relatively empty "skills". I've pointed out that the kids don't seem to retain knowledge, so we seek to increase engagement by increasing skills (whether explicitly or not). That last is my opinion, but another big gun in this area,Grant Wiggins, made a similar point. It's not that people like Grant and me think knowledge is unimportant; it's just incredibly difficult to teach.

    So the list shows that we've increased the skills, the processing side of things, but haven't made much of a dent in knowledge. Which suggests two things: 1) skills are, indeed, easier to teach, probably because of the tremendous environmental changes in tech and 2) knowledge is really important to overall IQ.

    Unfortunately, one thing that would make it easier to transmit knowledge and possibly improve the content base of low IQ folks would be an agreed upon body of knowledge. That's politically impossible, which is why Hirsch's proffered content is constantly blasted.

    I agree with much that you say about teaching skill versus content, but I can’t see how it can be literally true that “we [still] don’t really know what to do with [high verbal IQ].” For the most part, high verbal IQ means high IQ. I recall an old study where eminent scientists were given a beefed up version of the SAT/GRE, but with a Spatial aptitude test in addition to the usual Verbal and Mathematics. Scientists were grouped as physical science, biology, and social science. Physical scientists were high spatial biologists and social scientists only above average. All groups were very high Verbal; physical scientists were highest. (This parallels results – last I checked – on the Miller Analogies verbal test where physical science students score highest.)

    Verbal intelligence is mostly just intelligence. I think what you are describing might be more perspicuously termed the problem of those with high intelligence but low general visualization ability. Such folks might actually be described as having a spatio-visual deficit – a development disorder affecting spatial processing, such as what is sometimes termed “right-hemisphere” learning disability.

    There is a curious divide between clinicians and factor-analysts on the significant of “tilted” scores, the clinicians viewing this as (at least prima facie) evidence of dysfunction.

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  144. “I think what you are describing might be more perspicuously termed the problem of those with high intelligence but low general visualization ability.”

    You are positing a case in which “high verbal” have the same verbal abilities as “high IQ”, but lower spatial. You are also saying “low visualization”, but remember since these are high IQ folk, we’re probably talking about spatial abilities above average.

    You also seem to contradict yourself, first saying that “high verbal” are people with high IQs and low spatial, while later suggesting they are high “intelligence”–but not, apparently, high IQ.

    I suspect imbalance is correct, but I also suspect that in many cases there are people whose verbal is higher than yea, even those in the physical sciences! no, really. I also suspect that many people in the physical sciences have an “imbalance” towards verbal, but no one considers it a problem, because “not being able to do advanced math” is more noticeable than abilities that we don’t particularly measure beyond vocabulary tests. (for example, literature analysis has one of the lowest average scores in the SAT Subject range, despite only being taken by interested people).

    So it’s probably more accurate to say that most high IQ people have “balanced” abilities, but some don’t. And I am saying that we don’t generally consider it a problem if the imbalance is on the verbal side, since we have many ways to develop mathematical knowledge. But people with high IQs who “can’t do math” who are, instead, people who can’t easily adapt their imbalance to understanding an extremely spatial ability.

    I am also saying that perhaps we can teach these people more math by teaching them to compensate. I base this on my existence as a 3 or 4 SD IQ with extremely high verbal who struggled to learn math in high school but nonetheless passed AP Calc, and then went back later and learned how to learn math. Thus far, I’m able to teach math up through basic calculus , but who knows how far we could take it with an understanding of what we were doing? I think we could be developing abilities more. I’m not certain if the flip is possible, but then no one cares someone with a relatively low Vocab but a stratospheric Raven’s score becomes better at, well, whatever we’re better at.

    Finally, I’m saying that if you have an IQ out there in 3 or 4SD but a relatively average spatial ability and a working class or middle class background, there’s not a clearly defined notion of exactly what it is we’re better at. But we clearly seem to be.

    None of this denies that physical scientists have rilly rilly high verbal intelligence.

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    • Replies: @Benjamin I. Espen
    Ed, the first time you posted something about this three years ago, I thought of a friend of mine from high school. I must have just thought about commenting on your post, instead of actually doing, so here is my experience.

    The two of us were in a lot of the same activities in our school, which is a decent public high school, but the demographics make it look terrible [40% graduation rate for example]. We did drama, speech and debate, German club, journalism club [a fun excuse to skip class and take pictures, plus we put together parts of the yearbook] and founded a chess club [another excuse to get out of class].

    I was a pretty good debater, but there were days I just couldn't get the best of my friend. He had a way with words, still does. The thing he couldn't do was math. I took all the physics my high school offered, and made up some classes after that to keep myself busy. I took all the math on offer too. My friend skipped all that and just did the minimum at the time, which I don't remember the details of any longer.

    I went on to college in physics and mathematics. Once there it turned out that were a lot of people in my program better at math than me. However, I was wayyy better with words than most of them were. My friend ended doing something like classics, and then afterwards he got a sales job with a bank. He made it work out for himself, because he is bright guy, but the path wasn't as clear as it was for me. There are a lot of guys like this who don't really have a place because they don't have a clear STEM focus, which is still the easy [-ier] career path for anybody with a high spatial ability.
    , @Stephen R. Diamond

    You also seem to contradict yourself, first saying that “high verbal” are people with high IQs and low spatial, while later suggesting they are high “intelligence”–but not, apparently, high IQ.
     
    In the first instance, I was using "IQ" to mean general intelligence. Low spatials will obtain IQ scores lower than their general intelligence.

    Until I read your link, I had thought you had meant higher math (after intro. calculus), rather than the math the SAT-M calls upon. General visualization capacity (of which spatial ability is part) is no doubt related to (some forms of) mathematical talent (although the scientific evidence is sparse), but it has negligible (additional) predictive value for the basic math on the SAT or GRE. It may be, as you suggest, that high verbals adapt their intelligence to learn basic math differently, but the data suggest, then, that such adaptation is the rule more than the exception. While very high math scores with low verbal scores on the SAT aren't uncommon, very high SAT-V and low SAT-M is unusual.

  145. Ivy says:

    Pro-tip for test takers:

    Stop drinking any beverage that has artificial sweeteners (Splenda seems even worse than the others). Those impair recall speed and depth of memory access.

    If you or your kids need to take tests, why not get a free increase in brain function and score. It worked, and still works, for me and mine.

    The same benefits accrue to other brain applications such as getting that answer when the boss calls, etc.

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  146. […] The Flynn Effect: IQ Testing Across Space and Time – from steve sailer. […]

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  147. @education realist
    " I don’t think my verbal IQ is much engaged at those times."

    The mind reels. Good lord. Ya think?

    I was making precisely the opposite point. Certain--alas, wrongly so--that everyone would understand the essentially spatial nature of math, I was saying that despite my failure to understand math the normal way (that is, spatial), I was finally able to figure out math using whole different parts of my brain than usual. That is, despite the fact that we "don't know what to do with" high verbal IQs, they have some utility beyond being "good at reading" that I don't think we've figured out yet.

    Steve,

    I'm exactly the opposite on PCs, although I also use them extensively. I buy super cheap so I don't hate it when they break. They never do; I keep each one for 3-4 years, paying about $500 or so. Someone's going to say they get them cheaper. As if that matters.

    And to the room--why on earth is it so necessary to sneer on current generations? I very much doubt we've lost any of the qualities everyone's offering up. More likely, we've lost the ability to use slide rules and take square roots in our head.

    I’m not sneering at anyone, it just seems likely that you can’t be good at everything, and I’m curious what we aren’t good at anymore.

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  148. @education realist
    "I think what you are describing might be more perspicuously termed the problem of those with high intelligence but low general visualization ability."

    You are positing a case in which "high verbal" have the same verbal abilities as "high IQ", but lower spatial. You are also saying "low visualization", but remember since these are high IQ folk, we're probably talking about spatial abilities above average.

    You also seem to contradict yourself, first saying that "high verbal" are people with high IQs and low spatial, while later suggesting they are high "intelligence"--but not, apparently, high IQ.

    I suspect imbalance is correct, but I also suspect that in many cases there are people whose verbal is higher than yea, even those in the physical sciences! no, really. I also suspect that many people in the physical sciences have an "imbalance" towards verbal, but no one considers it a problem, because "not being able to do advanced math" is more noticeable than abilities that we don't particularly measure beyond vocabulary tests. (for example, literature analysis has one of the lowest average scores in the SAT Subject range, despite only being taken by interested people).

    So it's probably more accurate to say that most high IQ people have "balanced" abilities, but some don't. And I am saying that we don't generally consider it a problem if the imbalance is on the verbal side, since we have many ways to develop mathematical knowledge. But people with high IQs who "can't do math" who are, instead, people who can't easily adapt their imbalance to understanding an extremely spatial ability.

    I am also saying that perhaps we can teach these people more math by teaching them to compensate. I base this on my existence as a 3 or 4 SD IQ with extremely high verbal who struggled to learn math in high school but nonetheless passed AP Calc, and then went back later and learned how to learn math. Thus far, I'm able to teach math up through basic calculus , but who knows how far we could take it with an understanding of what we were doing? I think we could be developing abilities more. I'm not certain if the flip is possible, but then no one cares someone with a relatively low Vocab but a stratospheric Raven's score becomes better at, well, whatever we're better at.

    Finally, I'm saying that if you have an IQ out there in 3 or 4SD but a relatively average spatial ability and a working class or middle class background, there's not a clearly defined notion of exactly what it is we're better at. But we clearly seem to be.

    None of this denies that physical scientists have rilly rilly high verbal intelligence.

    Ed, the first time you posted something about this three years ago, I thought of a friend of mine from high school. I must have just thought about commenting on your post, instead of actually doing, so here is my experience.

    The two of us were in a lot of the same activities in our school, which is a decent public high school, but the demographics make it look terrible [40% graduation rate for example]. We did drama, speech and debate, German club, journalism club [a fun excuse to skip class and take pictures, plus we put together parts of the yearbook] and founded a chess club [another excuse to get out of class].

    I was a pretty good debater, but there were days I just couldn’t get the best of my friend. He had a way with words, still does. The thing he couldn’t do was math. I took all the physics my high school offered, and made up some classes after that to keep myself busy. I took all the math on offer too. My friend skipped all that and just did the minimum at the time, which I don’t remember the details of any longer.

    I went on to college in physics and mathematics. Once there it turned out that were a lot of people in my program better at math than me. However, I was wayyy better with words than most of them were. My friend ended doing something like classics, and then afterwards he got a sales job with a bank. He made it work out for himself, because he is bright guy, but the path wasn’t as clear as it was for me. There are a lot of guys like this who don’t really have a place because they don’t have a clear STEM focus, which is still the easy [-ier] career path for anybody with a high spatial ability.

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  149. @Steve Sailer
    The U.S. during WWII could draw on a huge reservoir of shade tree mechanics who had experience fixing internal combustion engine vehicles such as the Model T.

    The Japanese, with about half the population, had a brilliant layer of urban mechanics that made them better at naval air warfare in 1941, but after they started losing aircraft carriers in 1942, they were extremely hard pressed to replace the losses, while the U.S. just churned out an immense fleet of aircraft carriers. My guess is that America had little trouble shifting a 30 year old farmer to a mechanical job in war work because the farmer already had a tractor or a car and spent a lot of time socializing around cars being repaired. Japanese farmers, however, faced a steeper learning curve because they barely knew anybody with a car or a tractor.

    That’s plausible to me, but I would feel better about it if I had some data to back up my impressions that agriculture in Japan pre-WWII was vastly less automated than in the US during the same time period.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Look up automobile production in the US and Japan in 1940.
  150. @Benjamin I. Espen
    That's plausible to me, but I would feel better about it if I had some data to back up my impressions that agriculture in Japan pre-WWII was vastly less automated than in the US during the same time period.

    Look up automobile production in the US and Japan in 1940.

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  151. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    For a related view from a trad Catholic point of view, basically that the Flynn Effect shows a movement from an emphasis on understanding evolved complexly adaptive systems (e.g., life) to understanding more rationalized systems (e.g., computers), see http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/competing-ways-thinking-explain-culture-wars.

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  152. Anon7 says:
    @Steve Sailer
    The U.S. during WWII could draw on a huge reservoir of shade tree mechanics who had experience fixing internal combustion engine vehicles such as the Model T.

    The Japanese, with about half the population, had a brilliant layer of urban mechanics that made them better at naval air warfare in 1941, but after they started losing aircraft carriers in 1942, they were extremely hard pressed to replace the losses, while the U.S. just churned out an immense fleet of aircraft carriers. My guess is that America had little trouble shifting a 30 year old farmer to a mechanical job in war work because the farmer already had a tractor or a car and spent a lot of time socializing around cars being repaired. Japanese farmers, however, faced a steeper learning curve because they barely knew anybody with a car or a tractor.

    According to my Dad, who grew up in the 1930′s in a small town, all of the males knew everything that was needed to fix Model Ts and other cars. All the boys could drive by the age of 12; most of the boys in his town had cars long before the age of sixteen, and could fix them easily if they broke down. Old Model Ts were so cheap that boys could own and drive them; buy a junker for next to nothing and put in the effort to fix it with more parts from the junk yard. (In 1925 Ford produced a new Model T every twenty-seven seconds – there were lots of junker cars by 1935.) They used to drive onto the town golf course and play polo with them. Any long trip (greater than fifty miles) was an adventure; of course you had to bring your tools and parts so you could fix your car if it broke down, guys always stopped and helped, too.

    Lots of mechanics available? Yes, I’d say every male who came from a small town was qualified.

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  153. There are already a lot of comments that I won’t take time to read now at 3 am so my apologies Steve if this has already been suggested. That is that the Flynn effect, not least on Raven’s Progressive Matrices tests could logically be explained – because we are dealing with population averages – by the increase gradually over time of the number of people who have done the necessary preliminaries to high scoring on such tests. N’est-ce pas?

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  154. OutWest says:
    @Steve Sailer
    The U.S. during WWII could draw on a huge reservoir of shade tree mechanics who had experience fixing internal combustion engine vehicles such as the Model T.

    The Japanese, with about half the population, had a brilliant layer of urban mechanics that made them better at naval air warfare in 1941, but after they started losing aircraft carriers in 1942, they were extremely hard pressed to replace the losses, while the U.S. just churned out an immense fleet of aircraft carriers. My guess is that America had little trouble shifting a 30 year old farmer to a mechanical job in war work because the farmer already had a tractor or a car and spent a lot of time socializing around cars being repaired. Japanese farmers, however, faced a steeper learning curve because they barely knew anybody with a car or a tractor.

    It’s hard to generalize. But at Midway most of the Japanese pilots survive. But most of the mechanics and technicians perished in the hanger decks infernos. Japanese naval aviation never regained its decisive superiority of the first seven months of the war though they still had most of their pilots.

    The Wright pacific theater engineer once told me that the US largely repaired/rebuilt their aircraft in the field. The Japanese shipped anything difficult back to the factory which didn’t work that well when the US submarines became effective.

    Of course intellect and talent are different attributes with the latter being important for the population at large and the former, while critical, needed less by the population in general.

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  155. nickels says:

    There is little doubt that people are getting dumber, certainly not smarter.
    So why this effect?

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  156. @education realist
    "I think what you are describing might be more perspicuously termed the problem of those with high intelligence but low general visualization ability."

    You are positing a case in which "high verbal" have the same verbal abilities as "high IQ", but lower spatial. You are also saying "low visualization", but remember since these are high IQ folk, we're probably talking about spatial abilities above average.

    You also seem to contradict yourself, first saying that "high verbal" are people with high IQs and low spatial, while later suggesting they are high "intelligence"--but not, apparently, high IQ.

    I suspect imbalance is correct, but I also suspect that in many cases there are people whose verbal is higher than yea, even those in the physical sciences! no, really. I also suspect that many people in the physical sciences have an "imbalance" towards verbal, but no one considers it a problem, because "not being able to do advanced math" is more noticeable than abilities that we don't particularly measure beyond vocabulary tests. (for example, literature analysis has one of the lowest average scores in the SAT Subject range, despite only being taken by interested people).

    So it's probably more accurate to say that most high IQ people have "balanced" abilities, but some don't. And I am saying that we don't generally consider it a problem if the imbalance is on the verbal side, since we have many ways to develop mathematical knowledge. But people with high IQs who "can't do math" who are, instead, people who can't easily adapt their imbalance to understanding an extremely spatial ability.

    I am also saying that perhaps we can teach these people more math by teaching them to compensate. I base this on my existence as a 3 or 4 SD IQ with extremely high verbal who struggled to learn math in high school but nonetheless passed AP Calc, and then went back later and learned how to learn math. Thus far, I'm able to teach math up through basic calculus , but who knows how far we could take it with an understanding of what we were doing? I think we could be developing abilities more. I'm not certain if the flip is possible, but then no one cares someone with a relatively low Vocab but a stratospheric Raven's score becomes better at, well, whatever we're better at.

    Finally, I'm saying that if you have an IQ out there in 3 or 4SD but a relatively average spatial ability and a working class or middle class background, there's not a clearly defined notion of exactly what it is we're better at. But we clearly seem to be.

    None of this denies that physical scientists have rilly rilly high verbal intelligence.

    You also seem to contradict yourself, first saying that “high verbal” are people with high IQs and low spatial, while later suggesting they are high “intelligence”–but not, apparently, high IQ.

    In the first instance, I was using “IQ” to mean general intelligence. Low spatials will obtain IQ scores lower than their general intelligence.

    Until I read your link, I had thought you had meant higher math (after intro. calculus), rather than the math the SAT-M calls upon. General visualization capacity (of which spatial ability is part) is no doubt related to (some forms of) mathematical talent (although the scientific evidence is sparse), but it has negligible (additional) predictive value for the basic math on the SAT or GRE. It may be, as you suggest, that high verbals adapt their intelligence to learn basic math differently, but the data suggest, then, that such adaptation is the rule more than the exception. While very high math scores with low verbal scores on the SAT aren’t uncommon, very high SAT-V and low SAT-M is unusual.

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    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    This point is important:

    You are positing a case in which “high verbal” have the same verbal abilities as “high IQ”, but lower spatial.
     
    Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)
  157. @Stephen R. Diamond

    You also seem to contradict yourself, first saying that “high verbal” are people with high IQs and low spatial, while later suggesting they are high “intelligence”–but not, apparently, high IQ.
     
    In the first instance, I was using "IQ" to mean general intelligence. Low spatials will obtain IQ scores lower than their general intelligence.

    Until I read your link, I had thought you had meant higher math (after intro. calculus), rather than the math the SAT-M calls upon. General visualization capacity (of which spatial ability is part) is no doubt related to (some forms of) mathematical talent (although the scientific evidence is sparse), but it has negligible (additional) predictive value for the basic math on the SAT or GRE. It may be, as you suggest, that high verbals adapt their intelligence to learn basic math differently, but the data suggest, then, that such adaptation is the rule more than the exception. While very high math scores with low verbal scores on the SAT aren't uncommon, very high SAT-V and low SAT-M is unusual.

    This point is important:

    You are positing a case in which “high verbal” have the same verbal abilities as “high IQ”, but lower spatial.

    Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)

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  158. OutWest says:

    There may be a basic misunderstanding about “intelligence”. I was a subject in a fairly long running study by two (handed off) universities. While I had obvious learning disabilities and was “slow”, I tended to actually do fairly well long term. Specifically, my short term periodic testing was dismal yet at the end of the semester I tested very well –well after fourth or fifth grade when I figured out my situation.

    It seems that my memory is essentially nonexistent for random facts and definitions -no doubt the result of illness at one year of age. Yet my cognitive skills were well developed. It is very difficult for me to commit something to memory but once there the item was fairly permanent. My coping skill was to construct a mental matrix of principles but limited facts. I’d inductively and deductively derive an answer from my resource of principles in depth but limited arbitrary facts per se. This is reasonably effective but has the advantage of long-term retention and in depth resources for synthesizing since I’m always figuring things out rather than recalling random conclusions. A drawback is resistance to cognitive dissonance commonly induced by advertising and “accepted” practices.

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  159. pyrrhus says:
    @anonymous coward

    Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.
     
    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam's Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are 'heritable' in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you're probably an already lost cause.

    The problem with believing in the Flynn effect in the USA is that SAT and ACT scores have been declining steadily for 50 years, despite the College Board’s periodic “renorming” or dumbing down of the tests. College professors have confirmed that they think the students are dumber than they used to be……And this is many millions of data points…..So whatever the reason for better IQ test scores, the effect is not real.

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  160. But at Midway most of the Japanese pilots survive. But most of the mechanics and technicians perished in the hanger decks infernos. …

    No, they did not. How could many Japanese pilots survive? There were no friendly aircraft carriers left for them to land on. The other Rising Sun warships made a brisk retreat after Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu sank. USA forces made only small efforts to rescueJapanese in the water.

    Japanese naval aviation never regained its decisive superiority of the first seven months of the war though they still had most of their pilots.

    Again, no, they did not still have most of their pilots after the Midway battle. Where did you get this incorrect iofo.?

    Wikipedia: … After Midway and the exhausting attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign, Japan’s capacity to replace its losses in materiel (particularly aircraft carriers) and men (especially well-trained pilots and maintenance crewmen) rapidly became insufficient to cope with mounting casualties, while the United States’ massive industrial and training capabilities made losses far easier to replace. The Battle of Midway is considered a turning point in the Pacific War.

    Replacement pilots were pushed through an abbreviated training regimen in order to meet the short-term needs of the fleet. This led to a sharp decline in the quality of the aviators produced. These inexperienced pilots were fed into front-line units, while the veterans who remained after Midway and the Solomons campaign were forced to share an increased workload as conditions grew more desperate, with few being given a chance to rest in rear areas or in the home islands. As a result, Japanese naval air groups as a whole progressively deteriorated during the war while their American adversaries continued to improve.[143]
    American prisoners[edit]

    Three U.S. airmen, Ensign Wesley Osmus, a pilot from Yorktown, Ensign Frank O’Flaherty, a pilot from Enterprise and Aviation Machinist’s Mate B. F. (or B. P.) Bruno Gaido, the radioman-gunner of O’Flaherty’s SBD, were captured by the Japanese during the battle. Osmus was held on Arashi; O’Flaherty and Gaido on the cruiser Nagara (or destroyer Makigumo, sources vary); all three were interrogated, and then killed by being tied to water-filled kerosene cans and thrown overboard to drown.[144] The report filed by Nagumo tersely states of Ensign Osmus, “He died on 6 June and was buried at sea”;[145] O’Flaherty and Gaido’s fates were not mentioned in Nagumo’s report.[146] The execution of Ensign Wesley Osmus in this manner was apparently ordered by Arashi’s captain, Watanabe Yasumasa. Had Watanabe survived the war (he died in December 1943), he would have likely been tried as a war criminal.[147]
    Japanese prisoners[edit]

    Two enlisted men from the Mikuma were rescued from a life raft on 9 June by USS Trout and brought to Pearl Harbor. After receiving medical care, at least one of these sailors cooperated during interrogation and provided intelligence.[148] Another 35 crewmen from the Hiryu were taken from a lifeboat by USS Ballard on 19 June after being spotted by an American search plane. They were brought to Midway and then transferred to Pearl Harbor on USS Sirius.[149][150]

    /////////////////////////////

    The problem with believing in the Flynn effect in the USA is that SAT and ACT scores have been declining steadily for 50 years, despite the College Board’s periodic “renorming” or dumbing down of the tests.

    Averages can be deceptive.

    More persons of historically downpressed ethnicities have been taking the tests since 50 yrs. ago.

    Also, a larger percentage of young white peepul have been taking those tests as time has gone own. In the 1950′s and 1960′s and so on, most test takers were better students. In more recent years, less academically promising white kids have been channeled into taking these tests, ‘Cause all God’s children gotta go to college, don’t you see?

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  161. Maybe this was the source of your info. From further down in Wikipedia re Battle of Midway:

    Some authors have stated heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy.[155] Parshall and Tully have stated that the heavy losses in veteran aircrew (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the four carriers),

    That is subject to controversy. Other sources say a larger percentage of Japanese airmen perished at Midway. OK, I can’t find citations for that just now.

    [156] were not crippling to the Japanese naval air corps as a whole; the Japanese navy had 2,000 carrier-qualified aircrew at the start of the Pacific war.[157] The loss of four large fleet carriers and over 40% of the carriers’ highly trained aircraft mechanics and technicians, plus the essential flight-deck crews and armorers, and the loss of organizational knowledge embodied in such highly trained crew, were still heavy blows to the Japanese carrier fleet.[158][nb 6] A few months after Midway, the JNAF sustained similar casualty rates in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of Santa Cruz, and it was these battles, combined with the constant attrition of veterans during the Solomons campaign, which were the catalyst for the sharp downward spiral in operational capability.[158]

    After the battle Shōkaku and Zuikaku were the only large carriers of the original Pearl Harbor strike force left for offensive actions. Of Japan’s other carriers, Taihō, which was not commissioned until early 1944, would be the only fleet carrier worth teaming with Shōkaku and Zuikaku; Ryūjō and Zuihō were light carriers, while Junyo and Hiyō, although technically classified as fleet carriers, were second-rate ships of comparatively limited effectiveness.[159] In the time it took Japan to build three carriers, the U.S. Navy commissioned more than two dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers.[160] By 1942 the United States was already three years into a shipbuilding program mandated by the Second Vinson Act, intended to make the navy larger than all the Axis navies combined, plus the British and French navies, which it was feared might fall into Axis hands.[161]

    For the USA, WWII was a very effective Keynesian, i.e. deficit spending, economic and industrial stimulus program.

    Both the United States and Japan stepped up the training of aircrew, but the United States had a more effective pilot rotation system, which meant that more veterans survived and went on to training or command billets, where they were able to pass on lessons they had learned in training rather than in combat, where errors were more likely to be fatal.[162] By the time of the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, the Japanese had nearly rebuilt their carrier forces in terms of numbers, but their planes, many of which were obsolescent, were largely flown by inexperienced and poorly trained pilots.[nb 7]

    Which motivated kamikaze warfare, since one way, one sortie pilots needed less training.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    My theory is that Japan, which had a about half the population of the U.S., had a thinner stratum of people with skills with modern mechanical transport. The Japanese who lived in a world of internal combustion engines and the like were just as clever with them as the Americans, but they made up a smaller fraction of Japan's smaller population. America had an immense supply of shade tree Model T mechanics who could be brought up to speed fairly quickly on building, repairing, or maintaining planes, ships, tanks, and trucks. But Japan quickly ran out of people with experience with cars and the like, and found training middle-aged farmers to be modern mechanics slower going than America did.

    Unfortunately, I don't have much evidence for this one way or another. A late friend of mine who was a historian, Jim Chapin, told me this along time ago, but he died in 2002.

    , @OutWest
    Big subject but yes, my prime Midway source would be the most recent Shattered Sword, Tully et al, but in view of Prange’s Miracle at Midway. My point is that the Japanese pilot casualties were perhaps 110 airmen, 721 mechanics and 690 engineers, though these figures are subject to question.

    After Midway the IJN air activity tended towards ground based activities and were quite effective at Darwin, New Guinea and Guadalcanal. The Allies relearned the Zero’s poor high speed aileron response and pretty much gutted the IJN pilot expertise during this period. Perhaps an indicator of the mechanic dearth for the IJN is the fact they shipped much of their repair work back to Japan, which proved to be an Achilles Heel when the US Navy submarine force savaged the IJN merchant fleet.
  162. @David Davenport
    Maybe this was the source of your info. From further down in Wikipedia re Battle of Midway:

    Some authors have stated heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy.[155] Parshall and Tully have stated that the heavy losses in veteran aircrew (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the four carriers), ...

    That is subject to controversy. Other sources say a larger percentage of Japanese airmen perished at Midway. OK, I can't find citations for that just now.

    ... [156] were not crippling to the Japanese naval air corps as a whole; the Japanese navy had 2,000 carrier-qualified aircrew at the start of the Pacific war.[157] The loss of four large fleet carriers and over 40% of the carriers' highly trained aircraft mechanics and technicians, plus the essential flight-deck crews and armorers, and the loss of organizational knowledge embodied in such highly trained crew, were still heavy blows to the Japanese carrier fleet.[158][nb 6] A few months after Midway, the JNAF sustained similar casualty rates in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of Santa Cruz, and it was these battles, combined with the constant attrition of veterans during the Solomons campaign, which were the catalyst for the sharp downward spiral in operational capability.[158]

    After the battle Shōkaku and Zuikaku were the only large carriers of the original Pearl Harbor strike force left for offensive actions. Of Japan's other carriers, Taihō, which was not commissioned until early 1944, would be the only fleet carrier worth teaming with Shōkaku and Zuikaku; Ryūjō and Zuihō were light carriers, while Junyo and Hiyō, although technically classified as fleet carriers, were second-rate ships of comparatively limited effectiveness.[159] In the time it took Japan to build three carriers, the U.S. Navy commissioned more than two dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers.[160] By 1942 the United States was already three years into a shipbuilding program mandated by the Second Vinson Act, intended to make the navy larger than all the Axis navies combined, plus the British and French navies, which it was feared might fall into Axis hands.[161]


    For the USA, WWII was a very effective Keynesian, i.e. deficit spending, economic and industrial stimulus program.

    Both the United States and Japan stepped up the training of aircrew, but the United States had a more effective pilot rotation system, which meant that more veterans survived and went on to training or command billets, where they were able to pass on lessons they had learned in training rather than in combat, where errors were more likely to be fatal.[162] By the time of the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, the Japanese had nearly rebuilt their carrier forces in terms of numbers, but their planes, many of which were obsolescent, were largely flown by inexperienced and poorly trained pilots.[nb 7]

    Which motivated kamikaze warfare, since one way, one sortie pilots needed less training.

    My theory is that Japan, which had a about half the population of the U.S., had a thinner stratum of people with skills with modern mechanical transport. The Japanese who lived in a world of internal combustion engines and the like were just as clever with them as the Americans, but they made up a smaller fraction of Japan’s smaller population. America had an immense supply of shade tree Model T mechanics who could be brought up to speed fairly quickly on building, repairing, or maintaining planes, ships, tanks, and trucks. But Japan quickly ran out of people with experience with cars and the like, and found training middle-aged farmers to be modern mechanics slower going than America did.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have much evidence for this one way or another. A late friend of mine who was a historian, Jim Chapin, told me this along time ago, but he died in 2002.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Brutusale
    Neal Stephenson, a guy I trust to do his research, also touched on this in Cryptonomicon, when a Japanese submarine made a midnight run to a God-forsaken island to pick up irreplaceable personnel: Lt. Goto and an aircraft mechanic.
  163. “While very high math scores with low verbal scores on the SAT aren’t uncommon, very high SAT-V and low SAT-M is unusual.”

    Again, I’m not talking high to low V to M. My SAT scores, below renorming, were 730 V, 580 M. The first is 99th%, the second around 60%. My first GRE scores, before I “figured out” math, were 790 V, 690 A, 650 Q. Anything over 700 is 99+% on the V, the A was about 85%, the Q about 60th.

    When I learned math, my GRE was 790 V, 800 Q. I was always too lazy to peruse the reading questions closely enough on the computerized to get an 800 V, and it was always more important I do my best in math. Again, verbal is 99+, but now the Q is 96%.

    That’s not “low”. In contrast, 800 M 450 R are very common SAT scores for Asians. But other than them, I’m not sure if 800 M, 600 R is common among whites.

    ” I had thought you had meant higher math (after intro. calculus), rather than the math the SAT-M calls upon. ”

    You act as if it’s this huge gap–oh, heavens, I thought you meant *really* advanced math–but in reality are talking about a grand total of maybe 15% of the population. Almost as big as the “gap” between the math the SAT calls upon and the higher math after intro calculus. SAT goes to geometry. In order to get past calculus, you have to deal with higher level algebra, analytic geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. While I recognize the tendency of people who have moved beyond intro calculus to dismiss all else as equally elementary, the reality is that the genuine understanding of math beyond geometry is really only mastered by about 10-15% of the population.

    Moreover, there are people in that 10-15% whose math understanding is purely applied, and not indicative of “high IQ”. That is, there are people who have mastered calculus from an applied standpoint that can’t score over 700 on the GRE Q. I use to coach the GRE; I met such people all the time. They were engineers who knew math I couldn’t yet follow, but the GRE tested an underlying intelligence they just didn’t have. Meanwhile, there are people who don’t understand calculus who get high Quant scores. Like me–at the time I got an 800, I had just begun to understand second year algebra and a bit of trig. I didn’t really understand more than the basics of trig until last year, when I taught it, and likewise for a lot of analytic geometry from when I taught pre-calc the year before.

    “It may be, as you suggest, that high verbals adapt their intelligence to learn basic math differently, but the data suggest, then, that such adaptation is the rule more than the exception”

    Kind of my point, actually. That perhaps we should identify high verbals and a) teach them more math, seeing how far they can compensate once they understand that’s what they are doing and b) see what career paths are available.

    “Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)”

    “High verbal”, characterized by analytical reading skills and vocabulary depth. As Steve said, vocabulary is a decent IQ proxy, so either clinicians are wrong or, more likely, you are confusing “high verbal” with “verbal comprehension” .

    People with exceptionally high verbal ability are far less common than those with good spatial ability. SAT Verbal and GRE Verbals have been renormed or changed to eliminate vocabulary entirely while the math has, over the years, become slightly more difficult as abilities have increased.

    Read More
    • Replies: @res
    Interesting comment. Perhaps you could (or have?) write this up along with the approaches you took to "figure out math" in a blog post?
    , @Stephen R. Diamond

    You act as if it’s this huge gap–oh, heavens, I thought you meant *really* advanced math–but in reality are talking about a grand total of maybe 15% of the population.
     
    The gap I alluded to concerns the importance of spatio-visual ability, which doesn't correlate well with SAT-M but does (arguably) correlate with more advanced mathematics.

    “Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)”
    “High verbal”, characterized by analytical reading skills and vocabulary depth. As Steve said, vocabulary is a decent IQ proxy, so either clinicians are wrong or, more likely, you are confusing “high verbal” with “verbal comprehension” .
     

    Analytical reading skill and vocabulary depth (but more so, vocabulary precision) are measures of verbal comprehension. Vocabulary is more than a decent IQ proxy, at least at high levels: in Terman's study of the gifted, it was the only test of high level intelligence he employed. "High verbal" means high verbal comprehension.

    But why exactly did you think I was confusing them? And why are the clinicians wrong? You think high verbal comprehension is possible with low general intelligence? Or what?

    On your test pattern: It isn't terribly atypical for a Humanities major. (I know, you didn't say it was.) What threw me off is that you had trouble with high-school algebra, which isn't spatially infused like geometry. Are you actually low spatial: do you have trouble navigating by auto - a good test?

    There are other sources of mathematical talent, better demonstrated and probably more important than spatial ability. Excellent mathematicians score very high on the general speededness factor. This more than any other basic cognitive capacity distinguishes them from those with high intelligence but nonmathematical gifts. [Engineers, however, are demonstrably high spatial; but spatial ability itself increases about a standard deviation in the course of their training.] Before you mastered math, how do you think you would have performed on a GRE-M with no time limits?

  164. Benjamin:

    I didn’t think you were sneering at anyone; there were others.

    I think I was able to help get my son past my math glitch, which allowed him to do more college math than I did–he majored in econ, minored in math. But like me, he’s much more verbal and never really specialized. I thought he’d go into teaching, but he told me that I’d spent 20 years making money, he wanted to do the same. And so he’s in sales, doing very well. I never felt that I was doing something that used my strengths until I started teaching and tutoring in multiple subjects.

    So to put this in the “knowledge vs. skills” paradigm: I wonder if verbal fluency corresponds to an ability to acquire knowledge, while spatial ability translates better to a skills acquisition. This is way too simplistic, obviously, but it would correspond with the seeming inability we have to increase vocabulary, while we are doing well at increasing pattern recognition. It would also explain why high vocabulary is still less common than excellence in math. Not sure, but it’s interesting to mull.

    Read More
  165. Brutusale says:
    @Steve Sailer
    My theory is that Japan, which had a about half the population of the U.S., had a thinner stratum of people with skills with modern mechanical transport. The Japanese who lived in a world of internal combustion engines and the like were just as clever with them as the Americans, but they made up a smaller fraction of Japan's smaller population. America had an immense supply of shade tree Model T mechanics who could be brought up to speed fairly quickly on building, repairing, or maintaining planes, ships, tanks, and trucks. But Japan quickly ran out of people with experience with cars and the like, and found training middle-aged farmers to be modern mechanics slower going than America did.

    Unfortunately, I don't have much evidence for this one way or another. A late friend of mine who was a historian, Jim Chapin, told me this along time ago, but he died in 2002.

    Neal Stephenson, a guy I trust to do his research, also touched on this in Cryptonomicon, when a Japanese submarine made a midnight run to a God-forsaken island to pick up irreplaceable personnel: Lt. Goto and an aircraft mechanic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Stephenson should get interviewed more because he's quite good at summarizing his insights.
  166. res says:
    @education realist
    "While very high math scores with low verbal scores on the SAT aren’t uncommon, very high SAT-V and low SAT-M is unusual."

    Again, I'm not talking high to low V to M. My SAT scores, below renorming, were 730 V, 580 M. The first is 99th%, the second around 60%. My first GRE scores, before I "figured out" math, were 790 V, 690 A, 650 Q. Anything over 700 is 99+% on the V, the A was about 85%, the Q about 60th.

    When I learned math, my GRE was 790 V, 800 Q. I was always too lazy to peruse the reading questions closely enough on the computerized to get an 800 V, and it was always more important I do my best in math. Again, verbal is 99+, but now the Q is 96%.

    That's not "low". In contrast, 800 M 450 R are very common SAT scores for Asians. But other than them, I'm not sure if 800 M, 600 R is common among whites.

    " I had thought you had meant higher math (after intro. calculus), rather than the math the SAT-M calls upon. "

    You act as if it's this huge gap--oh, heavens, I thought you meant *really* advanced math--but in reality are talking about a grand total of maybe 15% of the population. Almost as big as the "gap" between the math the SAT calls upon and the higher math after intro calculus. SAT goes to geometry. In order to get past calculus, you have to deal with higher level algebra, analytic geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. While I recognize the tendency of people who have moved beyond intro calculus to dismiss all else as equally elementary, the reality is that the genuine understanding of math beyond geometry is really only mastered by about 10-15% of the population.


    Moreover, there are people in that 10-15% whose math understanding is purely applied, and not indicative of "high IQ". That is, there are people who have mastered calculus from an applied standpoint that can't score over 700 on the GRE Q. I use to coach the GRE; I met such people all the time. They were engineers who knew math I couldn't yet follow, but the GRE tested an underlying intelligence they just didn't have. Meanwhile, there are people who don't understand calculus who get high Quant scores. Like me--at the time I got an 800, I had just begun to understand second year algebra and a bit of trig. I didn't really understand more than the basics of trig until last year, when I taught it, and likewise for a lot of analytic geometry from when I taught pre-calc the year before.

    "It may be, as you suggest, that high verbals adapt their intelligence to learn basic math differently, but the data suggest, then, that such adaptation is the rule more than the exception"

    Kind of my point, actually. That perhaps we should identify high verbals and a) teach them more math, seeing how far they can compensate once they understand that's what they are doing and b) see what career paths are available.

    "Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)"

    "High verbal", characterized by analytical reading skills and vocabulary depth. As Steve said, vocabulary is a decent IQ proxy, so either clinicians are wrong or, more likely, you are confusing "high verbal" with "verbal comprehension" .

    People with exceptionally high verbal ability are far less common than those with good spatial ability. SAT Verbal and GRE Verbals have been renormed or changed to eliminate vocabulary entirely while the math has, over the years, become slightly more difficult as abilities have increased.

    Interesting comment. Perhaps you could (or have?) write this up along with the approaches you took to “figure out math” in a blog post?

    Read More
  167. Regarding repair skills, part of the Battle of Midway lore is the frenzied “24/7″ repair of aircraft carrier Yorktown just in time for the battle, which turned out to be a one way trip for Yorktown.

    Yorktown was patched up at Pearl Harbor. Imperial Japanese Navy ships had to go back to the home islands for major repairs.

    Read More
  168. OutWest says:
    @David Davenport
    Maybe this was the source of your info. From further down in Wikipedia re Battle of Midway:

    Some authors have stated heavy losses in carriers and veteran aircrews at Midway permanently weakened the Imperial Japanese Navy.[155] Parshall and Tully have stated that the heavy losses in veteran aircrew (110, just under 25% of the aircrew embarked on the four carriers), ...

    That is subject to controversy. Other sources say a larger percentage of Japanese airmen perished at Midway. OK, I can't find citations for that just now.

    ... [156] were not crippling to the Japanese naval air corps as a whole; the Japanese navy had 2,000 carrier-qualified aircrew at the start of the Pacific war.[157] The loss of four large fleet carriers and over 40% of the carriers' highly trained aircraft mechanics and technicians, plus the essential flight-deck crews and armorers, and the loss of organizational knowledge embodied in such highly trained crew, were still heavy blows to the Japanese carrier fleet.[158][nb 6] A few months after Midway, the JNAF sustained similar casualty rates in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of Santa Cruz, and it was these battles, combined with the constant attrition of veterans during the Solomons campaign, which were the catalyst for the sharp downward spiral in operational capability.[158]

    After the battle Shōkaku and Zuikaku were the only large carriers of the original Pearl Harbor strike force left for offensive actions. Of Japan's other carriers, Taihō, which was not commissioned until early 1944, would be the only fleet carrier worth teaming with Shōkaku and Zuikaku; Ryūjō and Zuihō were light carriers, while Junyo and Hiyō, although technically classified as fleet carriers, were second-rate ships of comparatively limited effectiveness.[159] In the time it took Japan to build three carriers, the U.S. Navy commissioned more than two dozen fleet and light fleet carriers, and numerous escort carriers.[160] By 1942 the United States was already three years into a shipbuilding program mandated by the Second Vinson Act, intended to make the navy larger than all the Axis navies combined, plus the British and French navies, which it was feared might fall into Axis hands.[161]


    For the USA, WWII was a very effective Keynesian, i.e. deficit spending, economic and industrial stimulus program.

    Both the United States and Japan stepped up the training of aircrew, but the United States had a more effective pilot rotation system, which meant that more veterans survived and went on to training or command billets, where they were able to pass on lessons they had learned in training rather than in combat, where errors were more likely to be fatal.[162] By the time of the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, the Japanese had nearly rebuilt their carrier forces in terms of numbers, but their planes, many of which were obsolescent, were largely flown by inexperienced and poorly trained pilots.[nb 7]

    Which motivated kamikaze warfare, since one way, one sortie pilots needed less training.

    Big subject but yes, my prime Midway source would be the most recent Shattered Sword, Tully et al, but in view of Prange’s Miracle at Midway. My point is that the Japanese pilot casualties were perhaps 110 airmen, 721 mechanics and 690 engineers, though these figures are subject to question.

    After Midway the IJN air activity tended towards ground based activities and were quite effective at Darwin, New Guinea and Guadalcanal. The Allies relearned the Zero’s poor high speed aileron response and pretty much gutted the IJN pilot expertise during this period. Perhaps an indicator of the mechanic dearth for the IJN is the fact they shipped much of their repair work back to Japan, which proved to be an Achilles Heel when the US Navy submarine force savaged the IJN merchant fleet.

    Read More
  169. I don’t have time to read all 170 comments so forgive me I make a point already made, but as Lynn noted back in 1990, the simplest explanation for the Flynn effect is nutrition (which includes disease reduction since diseases prevent us from using nutrients) and schooling.

    The Flynn effect has been 2 standard deviations over the 20th century. Height gains have probably been 1.3 standard deviations over the 20th century, so right there, 65% of the Flynn effect can be plausibly explained by nutrition making the brain larger and probably also more complex. This also explains why culture loaded tests are less affected, as studies have shown that malnutrition impairs non-verbal IQ more than verbal IQ, even when the malnutrition is prenatal.

    The remaining third can be explained by schooling, because people today get around 4 more years of schooling than they did 100 years ago, and research consistently shows schooling has a direct causal effect on IQ test performance, though probably not on real intelligence:

    http://www.voanews.com/content/study-more-education-increases-iq-score-136593433/169492.html

    As for Similarities showing the largest Flynn effect…I don’t buy it. As I’ve noticed and as A.S. Kaufman has written about, on the newer Similarities tests, there’s a lot more coaching on how to respond to Similarities items, so when you take the old test after you’ve taken the new test, your score on the old test will be extra high compared to your score on the new test, because the norming sample on the old test got no coaching. I suspect this has created a false impression that Similarities scores have gone up more than they have.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    This also explains why culture loaded tests are less affected, as studies have shown that malnutrition impairs non-verbal IQ more than verbal IQ, even when the malnutrition is prenatal.
     
    This is the key issue concerning the influence of malnutrition. This study of malnutrition at age 3 showed, however, a larger deficit on verbal IQ than performance IQ: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3975917/figure/F1/

    It doesn't appear to be substantiated that, in general, malnutrition affects spatial ability more than verbal. [If it doesn't, then malnutrition fails to explain the dramatic difference in Flynn Effect between cognitive-ability domains.]
  170. @education realist
    "While very high math scores with low verbal scores on the SAT aren’t uncommon, very high SAT-V and low SAT-M is unusual."

    Again, I'm not talking high to low V to M. My SAT scores, below renorming, were 730 V, 580 M. The first is 99th%, the second around 60%. My first GRE scores, before I "figured out" math, were 790 V, 690 A, 650 Q. Anything over 700 is 99+% on the V, the A was about 85%, the Q about 60th.

    When I learned math, my GRE was 790 V, 800 Q. I was always too lazy to peruse the reading questions closely enough on the computerized to get an 800 V, and it was always more important I do my best in math. Again, verbal is 99+, but now the Q is 96%.

    That's not "low". In contrast, 800 M 450 R are very common SAT scores for Asians. But other than them, I'm not sure if 800 M, 600 R is common among whites.

    " I had thought you had meant higher math (after intro. calculus), rather than the math the SAT-M calls upon. "

    You act as if it's this huge gap--oh, heavens, I thought you meant *really* advanced math--but in reality are talking about a grand total of maybe 15% of the population. Almost as big as the "gap" between the math the SAT calls upon and the higher math after intro calculus. SAT goes to geometry. In order to get past calculus, you have to deal with higher level algebra, analytic geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. While I recognize the tendency of people who have moved beyond intro calculus to dismiss all else as equally elementary, the reality is that the genuine understanding of math beyond geometry is really only mastered by about 10-15% of the population.


    Moreover, there are people in that 10-15% whose math understanding is purely applied, and not indicative of "high IQ". That is, there are people who have mastered calculus from an applied standpoint that can't score over 700 on the GRE Q. I use to coach the GRE; I met such people all the time. They were engineers who knew math I couldn't yet follow, but the GRE tested an underlying intelligence they just didn't have. Meanwhile, there are people who don't understand calculus who get high Quant scores. Like me--at the time I got an 800, I had just begun to understand second year algebra and a bit of trig. I didn't really understand more than the basics of trig until last year, when I taught it, and likewise for a lot of analytic geometry from when I taught pre-calc the year before.

    "It may be, as you suggest, that high verbals adapt their intelligence to learn basic math differently, but the data suggest, then, that such adaptation is the rule more than the exception"

    Kind of my point, actually. That perhaps we should identify high verbals and a) teach them more math, seeing how far they can compensate once they understand that's what they are doing and b) see what career paths are available.

    "Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)"

    "High verbal", characterized by analytical reading skills and vocabulary depth. As Steve said, vocabulary is a decent IQ proxy, so either clinicians are wrong or, more likely, you are confusing "high verbal" with "verbal comprehension" .

    People with exceptionally high verbal ability are far less common than those with good spatial ability. SAT Verbal and GRE Verbals have been renormed or changed to eliminate vocabulary entirely while the math has, over the years, become slightly more difficult as abilities have increased.

    You act as if it’s this huge gap–oh, heavens, I thought you meant *really* advanced math–but in reality are talking about a grand total of maybe 15% of the population.

    The gap I alluded to concerns the importance of spatio-visual ability, which doesn’t correlate well with SAT-M but does (arguably) correlate with more advanced mathematics.

    “Yes, the assumption made by clinicians is that verbal comprehension is too basic an ability to develop much in advance of general intelligence. (Verbal fluency is another matter.)”
    “High verbal”, characterized by analytical reading skills and vocabulary depth. As Steve said, vocabulary is a decent IQ proxy, so either clinicians are wrong or, more likely, you are confusing “high verbal” with “verbal comprehension” .

    Analytical reading skill and vocabulary depth (but more so, vocabulary precision) are measures of verbal comprehension. Vocabulary is more than a decent IQ proxy, at least at high levels: in Terman’s study of the gifted, it was the only test of high level intelligence he employed. “High verbal” means high verbal comprehension.

    But why exactly did you think I was confusing them? And why are the clinicians wrong? You think high verbal comprehension is possible with low general intelligence? Or what?

    On your test pattern: It isn’t terribly atypical for a Humanities major. (I know, you didn’t say it was.) What threw me off is that you had trouble with high-school algebra, which isn’t spatially infused like geometry. Are you actually low spatial: do you have trouble navigating by auto – a good test?

    There are other sources of mathematical talent, better demonstrated and probably more important than spatial ability. Excellent mathematicians score very high on the general speededness factor. This more than any other basic cognitive capacity distinguishes them from those with high intelligence but nonmathematical gifts. [Engineers, however, are demonstrably high spatial; but spatial ability itself increases about a standard deviation in the course of their training.] Before you mastered math, how do you think you would have performed on a GRE-M with no time limits?

    Read More
  171. @pumpkinperson
    I don't have time to read all 170 comments so forgive me I make a point already made, but as Lynn noted back in 1990, the simplest explanation for the Flynn effect is nutrition (which includes disease reduction since diseases prevent us from using nutrients) and schooling.

    The Flynn effect has been 2 standard deviations over the 20th century. Height gains have probably been 1.3 standard deviations over the 20th century, so right there, 65% of the Flynn effect can be plausibly explained by nutrition making the brain larger and probably also more complex. This also explains why culture loaded tests are less affected, as studies have shown that malnutrition impairs non-verbal IQ more than verbal IQ, even when the malnutrition is prenatal.

    The remaining third can be explained by schooling, because people today get around 4 more years of schooling than they did 100 years ago, and research consistently shows schooling has a direct causal effect on IQ test performance, though probably not on real intelligence:

    http://www.voanews.com/content/study-more-education-increases-iq-score-136593433/169492.html

    As for Similarities showing the largest Flynn effect...I don't buy it. As I've noticed and as A.S. Kaufman has written about, on the newer Similarities tests, there's a lot more coaching on how to respond to Similarities items, so when you take the old test after you've taken the new test, your score on the old test will be extra high compared to your score on the new test, because the norming sample on the old test got no coaching. I suspect this has created a false impression that Similarities scores have gone up more than they have.

    This also explains why culture loaded tests are less affected, as studies have shown that malnutrition impairs non-verbal IQ more than verbal IQ, even when the malnutrition is prenatal.

    This is the key issue concerning the influence of malnutrition. This study of malnutrition at age 3 showed, however, a larger deficit on verbal IQ than performance IQ: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3975917/figure/F1/

    It doesn’t appear to be substantiated that, in general, malnutrition affects spatial ability more than verbal. [If it doesn't, then malnutrition fails to explain the dramatic difference in Flynn Effect between cognitive-ability domains.]

    Read More
    • Replies: @pumpkinperson
    This is the key issue concerning the influence of malnutrition. This study of malnutrition at age 3 showed, however, a larger deficit on verbal IQ than performance IQ:

    I don't know how well the control group controlled for confounds in that study, because malnourished kids tend to have low IQs as much, or more, because of genetic factors (low IQ parents) and verbal IQ is more genetic.

    However Richard Lynn cited studies of identical twins so genetics was controlled, yet one twin received fewer nutrients in the womb and was born with lower weight and a smaller head which persisted into adolescence. The small headed twin scored lower on the WISC, but ONLY on the non-verbal tests.

    Since past generations had smaller birth weights, heads, and heights than people today, this likely explains much of the non-verbal Flynn effect, while the verbal Flynn effect, and part of the non-verbal Flynn effect can be explained by everyone getting more schooling, so all but the most culture reduced tests (which doesn't include the Raven) are biased in favor of newer cohorts.
  172. @Brutusale
    Neal Stephenson, a guy I trust to do his research, also touched on this in Cryptonomicon, when a Japanese submarine made a midnight run to a God-forsaken island to pick up irreplaceable personnel: Lt. Goto and an aircraft mechanic.

    Stephenson should get interviewed more because he’s quite good at summarizing his insights.

    Read More
  173. @Stephen R. Diamond

    This also explains why culture loaded tests are less affected, as studies have shown that malnutrition impairs non-verbal IQ more than verbal IQ, even when the malnutrition is prenatal.
     
    This is the key issue concerning the influence of malnutrition. This study of malnutrition at age 3 showed, however, a larger deficit on verbal IQ than performance IQ: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3975917/figure/F1/

    It doesn't appear to be substantiated that, in general, malnutrition affects spatial ability more than verbal. [If it doesn't, then malnutrition fails to explain the dramatic difference in Flynn Effect between cognitive-ability domains.]

    This is the key issue concerning the influence of malnutrition. This study of malnutrition at age 3 showed, however, a larger deficit on verbal IQ than performance IQ:

    I don’t know how well the control group controlled for confounds in that study, because malnourished kids tend to have low IQs as much, or more, because of genetic factors (low IQ parents) and verbal IQ is more genetic.

    However Richard Lynn cited studies of identical twins so genetics was controlled, yet one twin received fewer nutrients in the womb and was born with lower weight and a smaller head which persisted into adolescence. The small headed twin scored lower on the WISC, but ONLY on the non-verbal tests.

    Since past generations had smaller birth weights, heads, and heights than people today, this likely explains much of the non-verbal Flynn effect, while the verbal Flynn effect, and part of the non-verbal Flynn effect can be explained by everyone getting more schooling, so all but the most culture reduced tests (which doesn’t include the Raven) are biased in favor of newer cohorts.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    Since past generations had smaller birth weights, heads, and heights than people today, this likely explains much of the non-verbal Flynn effect
     
    Well, the Flynn Effect continued in the developed countries after 1980. The reply, I take it, is that unnoticed differences in nutrition can make a big difference.

    But then, shouldn't such nutritional differences cause synchronic differences in IQ? Which contradicts the hbd claim that shared environment accounts for none of the synchronic variance.
  174. “What threw me off is that you had trouble with high-school algebra, which isn’t spatially infused like geometry. ”

    No, I didn’t have trouble with high school algebra–I took it in 8th grade, got As and Bs, although I was always better with the algebra than graphing. Geometry was exactly where I ran into trouble, particularly construction. I was very good at proofs. I was also very good at proving trig identities when I got to trig, but very little else in algebra 2, which was all about conics and graphing when I took it.

    As for Calculus, I still remember asking my calculus teacher about a particular question, and he said “Well, look at the area you’re solving for.” I looked at him in confusion. He said, impatiently, “Look at the figure.” I looked down at the book and by golly, there was a figure. I had no idea that figure had anything to do with the problem. To me, Calculus was just this thing like trig identities–you just kept on doing things until you couldn’t do anything else, and then hoped that was the answer. My doing things was good enough to get me a 3 on the AP Calc test, even though I didn’t understand a thing.

    In short yes, it was about spatial. I can read a map by translating everything into right and left turns or a text description (take hwy 90 e). When teaching, I can forget a shape in the time it takes me to look at it and turn to the board. I often have to look at a triangle, say “Right angle to the right, right angle to the right” if the orientation is important.

    It’s not about time. In fact, one of the keys to my learning math in that first GRE, and then in learning math generally, was realizing that I wouldn’t be able to do it quickly, and that if I stopped expecting it to come to me in .5 seconds like everything else did, I could start to figure it out. I started laboriously translating math into terms I could grasp (much like turning a map into right and left turns). As I mention in the Learning Math essay, I work it much like Wile Coyote. Can’t go this way because boom. Try this..no, boom. Okay, try this. That works for three more steps than boom.

    It’s not like that any more because I’ve got the basic parameters down. Even learning more advanced math, which would be very challenging, wouldn’t be the same tremendous effort the first transation was.

    “But why exactly did you think I was confusing them? And why are the clinicians wrong? You think high verbal comprehension is possible with low general intelligence? Or what? ”

    It’s possible I misread your sentence. I thought you were saying that verbal comprehension was irrelevant to general intelligence. You may have been saying that the ability is innate? Still not sure.

    “The gap I alluded to concerns the importance of spatio-visual ability, which doesn’t correlate well with SAT-M but does (arguably) correlate with more advanced mathematics. ”

    As I mentioned, I know people who can do very well in calculus and beyond, but get mid 600s or even lower on the GRE Quant (presumably the SAT Math as well).

    Since the SAT and the GRE are correlated with IQ, that leads me back to my original point, which you seemed to dispute: there are high IQ people who don’t have strong spatio-visual ability. And “we don’t know what to do with them”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    It’s possible I misread your sentence. I thought you were saying that verbal comprehension was irrelevant to general intelligence.
     
    Exactly the opposite at high levels. Sorry I was unclear.
  175. there are high IQ people who don’t have strong spatio-visual ability. And “we don’t know what to do with them”.

    I’m not convinced of the second claim. A pattern of high verbal comprehension and relatively low general visualization capacity is typical of ashkenazi, and they don’t seem to have problems finding ways to exploit their intellect.

    I think you might somewhat overestimate the general importance of spatial aptitude for mathematics. Visualization capacity was apparently your roadblock, but my impression now is that you have a specific deficit (or “learning disability”) in that area. This isn’t the general case for those with a humanities pattern of math and verbal.

    Read More
  176. @education realist
    "What threw me off is that you had trouble with high-school algebra, which isn’t spatially infused like geometry. "

    No, I didn't have trouble with high school algebra--I took it in 8th grade, got As and Bs, although I was always better with the algebra than graphing. Geometry was exactly where I ran into trouble, particularly construction. I was very good at proofs. I was also very good at proving trig identities when I got to trig, but very little else in algebra 2, which was all about conics and graphing when I took it.

    As for Calculus, I still remember asking my calculus teacher about a particular question, and he said "Well, look at the area you're solving for." I looked at him in confusion. He said, impatiently, "Look at the figure." I looked down at the book and by golly, there was a figure. I had no idea that figure had anything to do with the problem. To me, Calculus was just this thing like trig identities--you just kept on doing things until you couldn't do anything else, and then hoped that was the answer. My doing things was good enough to get me a 3 on the AP Calc test, even though I didn't understand a thing.

    In short yes, it was about spatial. I can read a map by translating everything into right and left turns or a text description (take hwy 90 e). When teaching, I can forget a shape in the time it takes me to look at it and turn to the board. I often have to look at a triangle, say "Right angle to the right, right angle to the right" if the orientation is important.

    It's not about time. In fact, one of the keys to my learning math in that first GRE, and then in learning math generally, was realizing that I wouldn't be able to do it quickly, and that if I stopped expecting it to come to me in .5 seconds like everything else did, I could start to figure it out. I started laboriously translating math into terms I could grasp (much like turning a map into right and left turns). As I mention in the Learning Math essay, I work it much like Wile Coyote. Can't go this way because boom. Try this..no, boom. Okay, try this. That works for three more steps than boom.

    It's not like that any more because I've got the basic parameters down. Even learning more advanced math, which would be very challenging, wouldn't be the same tremendous effort the first transation was.

    "But why exactly did you think I was confusing them? And why are the clinicians wrong? You think high verbal comprehension is possible with low general intelligence? Or what? "

    It's possible I misread your sentence. I thought you were saying that verbal comprehension was irrelevant to general intelligence. You may have been saying that the ability is innate? Still not sure.

    "The gap I alluded to concerns the importance of spatio-visual ability, which doesn’t correlate well with SAT-M but does (arguably) correlate with more advanced mathematics. "

    As I mentioned, I know people who can do very well in calculus and beyond, but get mid 600s or even lower on the GRE Quant (presumably the SAT Math as well).

    Since the SAT and the GRE are correlated with IQ, that leads me back to my original point, which you seemed to dispute: there are high IQ people who don't have strong spatio-visual ability. And "we don't know what to do with them".

    It’s possible I misread your sentence. I thought you were saying that verbal comprehension was irrelevant to general intelligence.

    Exactly the opposite at high levels. Sorry I was unclear.

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  177. “I think you might somewhat overestimate the general importance of spatial aptitude for mathematics. ”

    The importance of spatial aptitude for understanding mathematics, I can’t be sure because I’m not expert enough. I’ll take your word for it.

    However, consider that most math teachers at both the high school and college level would be people, mostly male, with high spatial aptitude and higher than average IQs. They would unconsciously teach math from that perspective. Not only would they be losing people like me, high IQs with strong verbal bias, but many people who might be able to grasp math without the strong bias towards spatial aptitude.

    If you look at how math is taught by progressive teachers in low income schools, you’ll see the opposite (lots of verbal, lots of pattern recognition, relatively little spatial connections). But at suburban high schools, math is taught by proficient math folk.

    “A pattern of high verbal comprehension and relatively low general visualization capacity is typical of ashkenazi, and they don’t seem to have problems finding ways to exploit their intellect.”

    Today, they don’t have trouble because as a group they come from high income families with connections, so journalism, historian, and other low pay, high status, limited access jobs are available, as well as other jobs that just require dads and others to open doors. However, a century ago, they exploited their intellect through law, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology, humanities, journalism, and other venues that simply don’t exist in the same sense today. So it’s harder for middle and working class folk to rise without demonstrating math ability.

    Also, given the tremendous dumbing down of lit as taught in high schools–a significant talent at analytical reading might simply not be noticed today.

    It’s not a big issue; I did just mention it in passing. But I do think we need to do two things: 1) teach high verbals how to learn math at the top 15% level, 2) in some way, come up with ways to identify them. It’s just not going to be possible much at the high school level anymore.

    “Visualization capacity was apparently your roadblock, but my impression now is that you have a specific deficit (or “learning disability”) in that area. This isn’t the general case for those with a humanities pattern of math and verbal.”

    I don’t think so. My Ravens and others don’t come out low, just lower than the others. I’m still above average in spatial, but it’s more like 60%ile.

    And as I’ve mentioned before, the IT departments of the 80s were filled to the gills with people with history/English degrees who never really cared much for humanities but “didn’t get math”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    And as I’ve mentioned before, the IT departments of the 80s were filled to the gills with people with history/English degrees who never really cared much for humanities but “didn’t get math”.
     
    What did these folks really care about if not the humanities? [Just trying to form an impression of the type you're talking about.]

    I don’t think so. My Ravens and others don’t come out low, just lower than the others. I’m still above average in spatial, but it’s more like 60%ile.
     
    Although most nonverbal IQ tests contain a substantial spatio-visual component, they are far from pure spatio-visual measures. Ravens is probably best described as a test of fluid intelligence and visualization capacity, the former a little more than the latter. So, if you were 60th percentile on Ravens, you're probably well below average on spatial ability, considering that your GRE-V is better than three sigma for the general population.

    Three -imensional mental rotation may be the purest measure of spatio-visual ability.
  178. @pumpkinperson
    This is the key issue concerning the influence of malnutrition. This study of malnutrition at age 3 showed, however, a larger deficit on verbal IQ than performance IQ:

    I don't know how well the control group controlled for confounds in that study, because malnourished kids tend to have low IQs as much, or more, because of genetic factors (low IQ parents) and verbal IQ is more genetic.

    However Richard Lynn cited studies of identical twins so genetics was controlled, yet one twin received fewer nutrients in the womb and was born with lower weight and a smaller head which persisted into adolescence. The small headed twin scored lower on the WISC, but ONLY on the non-verbal tests.

    Since past generations had smaller birth weights, heads, and heights than people today, this likely explains much of the non-verbal Flynn effect, while the verbal Flynn effect, and part of the non-verbal Flynn effect can be explained by everyone getting more schooling, so all but the most culture reduced tests (which doesn't include the Raven) are biased in favor of newer cohorts.

    Since past generations had smaller birth weights, heads, and heights than people today, this likely explains much of the non-verbal Flynn effect

    Well, the Flynn Effect continued in the developed countries after 1980. The reply, I take it, is that unnoticed differences in nutrition can make a big difference.

    But then, shouldn’t such nutritional differences cause synchronic differences in IQ? Which contradicts the hbd claim that shared environment accounts for none of the synchronic variance.

    Read More
    • Replies: @pumpkinperson
    Well, the Flynn Effect continued in the developed countries after 1980. The reply, I take it, is that unnoticed differences in nutrition can make a big difference.


    Well Steve Sailer has cited evidence that height has increased since the 1980s too:

    http://isteve.blogspot.ca/2010/03/are-people-still-growing-up-taller-than.html

    But then, shouldn’t such nutritional differences cause synchronic differences in IQ? Which contradicts the hbd claim that shared environment accounts for none of the synchronic variance.

    Not sure. The way I see it, both IQ and height are extremely genetic within birth cohorts, but extremely environmental between them. Why this is so, is not well understood.
  179. @Stephen R. Diamond

    Since past generations had smaller birth weights, heads, and heights than people today, this likely explains much of the non-verbal Flynn effect
     
    Well, the Flynn Effect continued in the developed countries after 1980. The reply, I take it, is that unnoticed differences in nutrition can make a big difference.

    But then, shouldn't such nutritional differences cause synchronic differences in IQ? Which contradicts the hbd claim that shared environment accounts for none of the synchronic variance.

    Well, the Flynn Effect continued in the developed countries after 1980. The reply, I take it, is that unnoticed differences in nutrition can make a big difference.

    Well Steve Sailer has cited evidence that height has increased since the 1980s too:

    http://isteve.blogspot.ca/2010/03/are-people-still-growing-up-taller-than.html

    But then, shouldn’t such nutritional differences cause synchronic differences in IQ? Which contradicts the hbd claim that shared environment accounts for none of the synchronic variance.

    Not sure. The way I see it, both IQ and height are extremely genetic within birth cohorts, but extremely environmental between them. Why this is so, is not well understood.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    The way I see it, both IQ and height are extremely genetic within birth cohorts, but extremely environmental between them.
     
    But a shared-environment effect does exist for height. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14624724 )

    Why this is so, is not well understood.
     
    Considering the fundamental role that no-shared-environment variance plays in hbd theorizing, the issue seems potentially decisive.
  180. @education realist
    "I think you might somewhat overestimate the general importance of spatial aptitude for mathematics. "

    The importance of spatial aptitude for understanding mathematics, I can't be sure because I'm not expert enough. I'll take your word for it.

    However, consider that most math teachers at both the high school and college level would be people, mostly male, with high spatial aptitude and higher than average IQs. They would unconsciously teach math from that perspective. Not only would they be losing people like me, high IQs with strong verbal bias, but many people who might be able to grasp math without the strong bias towards spatial aptitude.

    If you look at how math is taught by progressive teachers in low income schools, you'll see the opposite (lots of verbal, lots of pattern recognition, relatively little spatial connections). But at suburban high schools, math is taught by proficient math folk.

    "A pattern of high verbal comprehension and relatively low general visualization capacity is typical of ashkenazi, and they don’t seem to have problems finding ways to exploit their intellect."

    Today, they don't have trouble because as a group they come from high income families with connections, so journalism, historian, and other low pay, high status, limited access jobs are available, as well as other jobs that just require dads and others to open doors. However, a century ago, they exploited their intellect through law, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology, humanities, journalism, and other venues that simply don't exist in the same sense today. So it's harder for middle and working class folk to rise without demonstrating math ability.

    Also, given the tremendous dumbing down of lit as taught in high schools--a significant talent at analytical reading might simply not be noticed today.

    It's not a big issue; I did just mention it in passing. But I do think we need to do two things: 1) teach high verbals how to learn math at the top 15% level, 2) in some way, come up with ways to identify them. It's just not going to be possible much at the high school level anymore.

    "Visualization capacity was apparently your roadblock, but my impression now is that you have a specific deficit (or “learning disability”) in that area. This isn’t the general case for those with a humanities pattern of math and verbal."

    I don't think so. My Ravens and others don't come out low, just lower than the others. I'm still above average in spatial, but it's more like 60%ile.

    And as I've mentioned before, the IT departments of the 80s were filled to the gills with people with history/English degrees who never really cared much for humanities but "didn't get math".

    And as I’ve mentioned before, the IT departments of the 80s were filled to the gills with people with history/English degrees who never really cared much for humanities but “didn’t get math”.

    What did these folks really care about if not the humanities? [Just trying to form an impression of the type you're talking about.]

    I don’t think so. My Ravens and others don’t come out low, just lower than the others. I’m still above average in spatial, but it’s more like 60%ile.

    Although most nonverbal IQ tests contain a substantial spatio-visual component, they are far from pure spatio-visual measures. Ravens is probably best described as a test of fluid intelligence and visualization capacity, the former a little more than the latter. So, if you were 60th percentile on Ravens, you’re probably well below average on spatial ability, considering that your GRE-V is better than three sigma for the general population.

    Three -imensional mental rotation may be the purest measure of spatio-visual ability.

    Read More
  181. @pumpkinperson
    Well, the Flynn Effect continued in the developed countries after 1980. The reply, I take it, is that unnoticed differences in nutrition can make a big difference.


    Well Steve Sailer has cited evidence that height has increased since the 1980s too:

    http://isteve.blogspot.ca/2010/03/are-people-still-growing-up-taller-than.html

    But then, shouldn’t such nutritional differences cause synchronic differences in IQ? Which contradicts the hbd claim that shared environment accounts for none of the synchronic variance.

    Not sure. The way I see it, both IQ and height are extremely genetic within birth cohorts, but extremely environmental between them. Why this is so, is not well understood.

    The way I see it, both IQ and height are extremely genetic within birth cohorts, but extremely environmental between them.

    But a shared-environment effect does exist for height. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14624724 )

    Why this is so, is not well understood.

    Considering the fundamental role that no-shared-environment variance plays in hbd theorizing, the issue seems potentially decisive.

    Read More
  182. But a shared-environment effect does exist for height.

    According to that study it does, but I can find studies that suggest shared environment matters for IQ (even by early adulthood):

    http://pumpkinperson.com/2015/09/09/the-effects-of-parental-education-on-young-adult-iq/

    Different studies, using different methods, using different samples, will give different results so it’s important not to over-interpret.

    Now, if within the same study, and same sample, a within family environmental effect was found for height but not for IQ, then that would be more significant (which has happened by the way, but the same study found no within family environment effect on head circumference, and the main reason we’re interested in height gains is because they’re a proxy for nutrition gains in brain development).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond

    the main reason we’re interested in height gains is because they’re a proxy for nutrition gains in brain development)
     
    IQ is subject to strong common environmental effects between, but none within, birth cohorts. I find this result strikingly implausible. You say height is the same. This would indeed ameliorate the implausibility. But it's not the case.
  183. Melendwyr says: • Website
    @jjbees
    One thing I've noticed over time is how rare material with a high vocabulary demand is.
    For example, Steve, you tend to be quite prolix and make use of a good number of rare words, as does your commentariat. Use of rare words tends to be a dead give-away for people who read much, and like to read. In daily conversation I will sometimes throw a rare word in edgewise, but there really isn't an audience for it outside of working for the Financial Times or commenting on your blogs. When the modern world is based on taking multiple choice tests, flicking your way through a smartphone menu, and vegging out in front of Netflix, what does it mean for human linguistic capacity? Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?

    “Are the quality of our thoughts going to be degraded from a lack of ability to articulate them?”

    No, the quality of human thoughts is degraded from our lack of ability to think systematically. Language expands to fill the needs of thought. When language is languishing, it’s because there’s no thinking going on behind it.

    Read More
  184. “What did these folks really care about if not the humanities? [Just trying to form an impression of the type you're talking about.]”

    They were–as I am–smart people who didn’t really have any desire to specialize. They didn’t want to become academics in one particular area. These were people who for various reasons didn’t attend law school (I didn’t because of money), the obvious place for them. Business (the big thing when I went to college in the 80s) was out because the math for a meaningful degree was too much–calc & beyond. They were good at computers, although not the nerdy dedicated sort, and computers paid well. But their verbal abilities were outstanding.

    I remember distinctly a conversation at a department meeting once, way back in the mid 80s. There were maybe 10 people there as I’ve described, all of us with degrees in history, English, general humanities, whatever, from ordinary state schools. All of us were making very good money (I was maybe 25, making $60K/year at a cubicle job, and I was the least paid there by a long shot). We got to talking about SAT scores, and all ten had verbals over 700 (at a time when 680 was 99+), and of the five or six who had taken the English Lit achievement test (now the English lit subject test) we’d all gotten over 700, which is incredibly rare. I got an 800, a fact that delayed my score distribution by a month and interfered with my ability to qualify for a scholarship (that was why I brought it up, which led to our exchange of scores). All of us had at some point taken a computer aptitude test and also scored very high, despite having had no interest in computers at that point. In fact, I took a computer programming course in college and nearly failed it. Most of these people were men–about a 70-30 split, as I recall.

    It’s really common to hear them describe their problems with high school math: good at algebra, sucked at geometry except proofs, struggled from there or faked it.

    Today, we have actually gotten much better at teaching math from a non-spatial perspective (or whatever), as a result of the demands to teach math to everyone. But unfortunately, other considerations make it unlikely we’re doing any better at reaching the kids who might do better at math with this approach. And unfortunately, corporate IT departments are no longer a mainstay of jobs for that group.

    “So, if you were 60th percentile on Ravens, you’re probably well below average on spatial ability, considering that your GRE-V is better than three sigma for the general population.”

    Fair enough. I don’t know of any tests that are pure spatial; Ravens is spatial enough for me. I wrote in this essay on memory (which, as I reread it, is pretty damn good) about a memory test that offered practice tests in one form (alphabet letters) and the real thing in another form (Chinese pictograms). It was hysterical–well, to me, anyway. I didn’t realize that I was doing the practice test with my short term auditory memory until the real thing came up, when I could no longer use it.

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  185. @pumpkinperson
    But a shared-environment effect does exist for height.

    According to that study it does, but I can find studies that suggest shared environment matters for IQ (even by early adulthood):

    http://pumpkinperson.com/2015/09/09/the-effects-of-parental-education-on-young-adult-iq/

    Different studies, using different methods, using different samples, will give different results so it's important not to over-interpret.

    Now, if within the same study, and same sample, a within family environmental effect was found for height but not for IQ, then that would be more significant (which has happened by the way, but the same study found no within family environment effect on head circumference, and the main reason we're interested in height gains is because they're a proxy for nutrition gains in brain development).

    the main reason we’re interested in height gains is because they’re a proxy for nutrition gains in brain development)

    IQ is subject to strong common environmental effects between, but none within, birth cohorts. I find this result strikingly implausible. You say height is the same. This would indeed ameliorate the implausibility. But it’s not the case.

    Read More
    • Replies: @pumpkinperson
    IQ is subject to strong common environmental effects between, but none within, birth cohorts. I find this result strikingly implausible. You say height is the same. This would indeed ameliorate the implausibility. But it’s not the case.

    My point is that IQ and height are highly genetic within (20th century white) cohorts yet virtually 100% environmental between cohorts.

    It's you who is quibbling about the nature of the modest within cohort environmental effects (shared vs unshared).

    However I see no strong evidence that height is especially more sensitive to shared environmental effects than IQ. If that were the case, then the ratio of the correlation between identical twins raised apart (no shared environment) to identical twins raised together (shared environment) would be much much higher for IQ than for height. Yet looking at the stats in table 4 of this document, we don't see that in most cases:

    http://web.missouri.edu/~segerti/1000H/Bouchard.pdf


    And this data is apples to apples: same samples being compared the same way.
  186. @Cryptogenic
    If you know what answers an IQ test is looking for, you probably have a high IQ. This sort of trickery is subsumed into the IQ test.

    Being smart is “trickery”?

    Read More
  187. @Stephen R. Diamond

    the main reason we’re interested in height gains is because they’re a proxy for nutrition gains in brain development)
     
    IQ is subject to strong common environmental effects between, but none within, birth cohorts. I find this result strikingly implausible. You say height is the same. This would indeed ameliorate the implausibility. But it's not the case.

    IQ is subject to strong common environmental effects between, but none within, birth cohorts. I find this result strikingly implausible. You say height is the same. This would indeed ameliorate the implausibility. But it’s not the case.

    My point is that IQ and height are highly genetic within (20th century white) cohorts yet virtually 100% environmental between cohorts.

    It’s you who is quibbling about the nature of the modest within cohort environmental effects (shared vs unshared).

    However I see no strong evidence that height is especially more sensitive to shared environmental effects than IQ. If that were the case, then the ratio of the correlation between identical twins raised apart (no shared environment) to identical twins raised together (shared environment) would be much much higher for IQ than for height. Yet looking at the stats in table 4 of this document, we don’t see that in most cases:

    http://web.missouri.edu/~segerti/1000H/Bouchard.pdf

    And this data is apples to apples: same samples being compared the same way.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    I'm not "quibbling." You simply refuse to understand objections. Many of you hbders seem to have an air of militant stupidity.

    I'm saying that since height has common-environment variance due to nutrition, then probably IQ should show common environment variance if that too is due to nutrition. (This is not an iron-clad inference. The nutrients could be different. But one would not ordinarily expect nutrition to affect IQ while not affecting height.) But height consistently shows common environment variance. This makes the no-common-environment claim applied to life outcomes, IQ, and other psychological phenomena dubious. If nutritional differences are sufficient to cause continued height gains in the 20th century even in advanced countries, we expect to find within cohort differences - and we do. Similarly, if nutritional differences are sufficient to cause continued IQ gains ... , we expect to find within cohort differences - and, according to you, we don't.

    The data you linked show a significant shared environment effect for IQ. This supports my claim that data showing no shared-environment effect for IQ must be spurious (because if even height shows shared environment effects, we should expect IQ to). My point, you should understand, is that the shared environment variance of IQ is not plausibly less than that for height (under the nutrition hypothesis).

    To summarize, my point is that the claim that the Flynn Effect is due to nutrition is ultimately at odds with the claim that there is no shared environment effect for IQ. I didn't commit myself to either prong for resolving the dilemma, but I'm now inclined to think you're right about nutrition but wrong about the absence of contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ.

  188. […] A Carlota Perez walk-through. A unified theory of crime. A unified theory of social machine logic. […]

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  189. @pumpkinperson
    IQ is subject to strong common environmental effects between, but none within, birth cohorts. I find this result strikingly implausible. You say height is the same. This would indeed ameliorate the implausibility. But it’s not the case.

    My point is that IQ and height are highly genetic within (20th century white) cohorts yet virtually 100% environmental between cohorts.

    It's you who is quibbling about the nature of the modest within cohort environmental effects (shared vs unshared).

    However I see no strong evidence that height is especially more sensitive to shared environmental effects than IQ. If that were the case, then the ratio of the correlation between identical twins raised apart (no shared environment) to identical twins raised together (shared environment) would be much much higher for IQ than for height. Yet looking at the stats in table 4 of this document, we don't see that in most cases:

    http://web.missouri.edu/~segerti/1000H/Bouchard.pdf


    And this data is apples to apples: same samples being compared the same way.

    I’m not “quibbling.” You simply refuse to understand objections. Many of you hbders seem to have an air of militant stupidity.

    I’m saying that since height has common-environment variance due to nutrition, then probably IQ should show common environment variance if that too is due to nutrition. (This is not an iron-clad inference. The nutrients could be different. But one would not ordinarily expect nutrition to affect IQ while not affecting height.) But height consistently shows common environment variance. This makes the no-common-environment claim applied to life outcomes, IQ, and other psychological phenomena dubious. If nutritional differences are sufficient to cause continued height gains in the 20th century even in advanced countries, we expect to find within cohort differences – and we do. Similarly, if nutritional differences are sufficient to cause continued IQ gains … , we expect to find within cohort differences – and, according to you, we don’t.

    The data you linked show a significant shared environment effect for IQ. This supports my claim that data showing no shared-environment effect for IQ must be spurious (because if even height shows shared environment effects, we should expect IQ to). My point, you should understand, is that the shared environment variance of IQ is not plausibly less than that for height (under the nutrition hypothesis).

    To summarize, my point is that the claim that the Flynn Effect is due to nutrition is ultimately at odds with the claim that there is no shared environment effect for IQ. I didn’t commit myself to either prong for resolving the dilemma, but I’m now inclined to think you’re right about nutrition but wrong about the absence of contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ.

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    • Replies: @pumpkinperson

    I’m saying that since height has common-environment variance due to nutrition, then probably IQ should show common environment variance if that too is due to nutrition.


    I agree. All I was saying is evaluate the common environmental variance of both using the same samples & methods.

    My point, you should understand, is that the shared environment variance of IQ is not plausibly less than that for height (under the nutrition hypothesis).

    Well I cite height for convenience (there's a lot if data on it) but a better analogy is brain size, because its more closely linked to IQ. It's possible in theory that shared environment affects height but not brain size & IQ because unlike the latter two, height may have a larger postnatal environment component

    To summarize, my point is that the claim that the Flynn Effect is due to nutrition is ultimately at odds with the claim that there is no shared environment effect for IQ. I didn’t commit myself to either prong for resolving the dilemma, but I’m now inclined to think you’re right about nutrition but wrong about the absence of contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ.

    I don't rule out contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ or height, but they're dwarfed by contemporaneous genetic effects.
  190. @education realist
    "What did these folks really care about if not the humanities? [Just trying to form an impression of the type you're talking about.]"

    They were--as I am--smart people who didn't really have any desire to specialize. They didn't want to become academics in one particular area. These were people who for various reasons didn't attend law school (I didn't because of money), the obvious place for them. Business (the big thing when I went to college in the 80s) was out because the math for a meaningful degree was too much--calc & beyond. They were good at computers, although not the nerdy dedicated sort, and computers paid well. But their verbal abilities were outstanding.

    I remember distinctly a conversation at a department meeting once, way back in the mid 80s. There were maybe 10 people there as I've described, all of us with degrees in history, English, general humanities, whatever, from ordinary state schools. All of us were making very good money (I was maybe 25, making $60K/year at a cubicle job, and I was the least paid there by a long shot). We got to talking about SAT scores, and all ten had verbals over 700 (at a time when 680 was 99+), and of the five or six who had taken the English Lit achievement test (now the English lit subject test) we'd all gotten over 700, which is incredibly rare. I got an 800, a fact that delayed my score distribution by a month and interfered with my ability to qualify for a scholarship (that was why I brought it up, which led to our exchange of scores). All of us had at some point taken a computer aptitude test and also scored very high, despite having had no interest in computers at that point. In fact, I took a computer programming course in college and nearly failed it. Most of these people were men--about a 70-30 split, as I recall.

    It's really common to hear them describe their problems with high school math: good at algebra, sucked at geometry except proofs, struggled from there or faked it.

    Today, we have actually gotten much better at teaching math from a non-spatial perspective (or whatever), as a result of the demands to teach math to everyone. But unfortunately, other considerations make it unlikely we're doing any better at reaching the kids who might do better at math with this approach. And unfortunately, corporate IT departments are no longer a mainstay of jobs for that group.

    "So, if you were 60th percentile on Ravens, you’re probably well below average on spatial ability, considering that your GRE-V is better than three sigma for the general population."

    Fair enough. I don't know of any tests that are pure spatial; Ravens is spatial enough for me. I wrote in this essay on memory (which, as I reread it, is pretty damn good) about a memory test that offered practice tests in one form (alphabet letters) and the real thing in another form (Chinese pictograms). It was hysterical--well, to me, anyway. I didn't realize that I was doing the practice test with my short term auditory memory until the real thing came up, when I could no longer use it.

    The essay on memory is insightful.

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  191. @Stephen R. Diamond
    I'm not "quibbling." You simply refuse to understand objections. Many of you hbders seem to have an air of militant stupidity.

    I'm saying that since height has common-environment variance due to nutrition, then probably IQ should show common environment variance if that too is due to nutrition. (This is not an iron-clad inference. The nutrients could be different. But one would not ordinarily expect nutrition to affect IQ while not affecting height.) But height consistently shows common environment variance. This makes the no-common-environment claim applied to life outcomes, IQ, and other psychological phenomena dubious. If nutritional differences are sufficient to cause continued height gains in the 20th century even in advanced countries, we expect to find within cohort differences - and we do. Similarly, if nutritional differences are sufficient to cause continued IQ gains ... , we expect to find within cohort differences - and, according to you, we don't.

    The data you linked show a significant shared environment effect for IQ. This supports my claim that data showing no shared-environment effect for IQ must be spurious (because if even height shows shared environment effects, we should expect IQ to). My point, you should understand, is that the shared environment variance of IQ is not plausibly less than that for height (under the nutrition hypothesis).

    To summarize, my point is that the claim that the Flynn Effect is due to nutrition is ultimately at odds with the claim that there is no shared environment effect for IQ. I didn't commit myself to either prong for resolving the dilemma, but I'm now inclined to think you're right about nutrition but wrong about the absence of contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ.


    I’m saying that since height has common-environment variance due to nutrition, then probably IQ should show common environment variance if that too is due to nutrition.

    I agree. All I was saying is evaluate the common environmental variance of both using the same samples & methods.

    My point, you should understand, is that the shared environment variance of IQ is not plausibly less than that for height (under the nutrition hypothesis).

    Well I cite height for convenience (there’s a lot if data on it) but a better analogy is brain size, because its more closely linked to IQ. It’s possible in theory that shared environment affects height but not brain size & IQ because unlike the latter two, height may have a larger postnatal environment component

    To summarize, my point is that the claim that the Flynn Effect is due to nutrition is ultimately at odds with the claim that there is no shared environment effect for IQ. I didn’t commit myself to either prong for resolving the dilemma, but I’m now inclined to think you’re right about nutrition but wrong about the absence of contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ.

    I don’t rule out contemporaneous effects of nutrition on IQ or height, but they’re dwarfed by contemporaneous genetic effects.

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  192. Thanks. I’ve found this conversation helpful;will be writing about it vis a vis teaching at some point.

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  193. Exfernal says:
    @415 reasons
    Have to agree with this one. 500,000 computer savvy autistic losers on 4chan can't be wrong.

    It’s fortunate that the preferred activity of those losers bears a striking similarity to your comment.

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  194. @anonymous coward

    Similarly, it’s likely that better nutrition both contributed to the Flynn Effect (the U.S. added micronutrient supplementation of both iodine and iron to staples between WWI and WWII) and had topped out in many countries, but other more mysterious factors apparently stepped in to keep the Flynn Effect going.
     
    Really? Oh, really?

    Occam's Razor would suggest a much less convoluted explanation: IQ tests, especially the more abstract ones, can be gamed. You can learn to do well on an IQ test the same way you can learn to ride a bike or beat Super Mario.

    What you need to game an IQ test is two things: a) motivation and b) an understanding of the mechanics of learning.

    Both components are 'heritable' in the sense that unless your family forces you into them at a very early age (1-3 years old) you're probably an already lost cause.

    I know of no one’s family who forces you to learn how to do IQ tests at a very early age (1 – 3 years old). So the hypothesis that this is what is causing the Flynn Effect is silly.

    BTW, nothing lasts forever and over the last several years there is little or no evidence of the Flynn Effect continuing.

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  195. […] The Flynn effect is strongest on the parts of IQ tests that have the /least/ cultural baggage and are the /most/ abstract. Maybe people these days are just as smart, but have more practice with abstract reasoning? […]

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