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The Nature of Human Intelligence: A Textbook
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sternberg intell

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Online publication date: January 2018
Print publication year: 2018
Online ISBN: 9781316817049

https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316817049

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/nature-of-human-intelligence/EA400EC57513FF0E7742ED32F6E0A5AE

I do not wish to quote myself too often, but in my 2013 review of Sternberg’s Handbook of Intelligence I raised an eyebrow about how often he quoted himself, and by means of an internal citation count questioned whether his choice of authors constituted a fair representation of the field. In a reply, Sternberg said that since he was developing the field beyond general intelligence, it was natural that he should be quoting the new approaches he had initiated.

Sternberg begins his latest volume with an explanation: he has invited the 19 most cited psychometricians to contribute (the late lamented Buz Hunt was too ill to participate). This method is good, and will set a standard for other editors to follow. Respect.

  1. Intelligence as Potentiality and Actuality. Phillip L. Ackerman
  2. Hereditary Ability: g Is Driven by Experience- Producing Drives. Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr.
  3. Culture, Sex, and Intelligence: Descriptive and Proscriptive Issues. Stephen J. Ceci, Donna K. Ginther, Shulamit Kahn, & Wendy M. Williams
  4. The Nature of the General Factor of Intelligence. Andrew R. A. Conway & Kristof Kovacs
  5. Intelligence in Edinburgh, Scotland: Bringing Intelligence to Life. Ian J. Deary & Stuart J. Ritchie
  6. Intelligence as Domain-Specific Superior Reproducible Performance: The Role of Acquired Domain- Specific Mechanisms in Expert Performance. K. Anders Ericsson
  7. Intelligence, Society, and Human Autonomy. James R. Flynn
  8. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences: Psychological and Educational Perspectives. Howard Gardner, Mindy Kornhaber, & Jie-Qi Chen
  9. g Theory: How Recurring Variation in Human Intelligence and the Complexity of Everyday Tasks Create Social Structure and the Democratic Dilemma. Linda S. Gottfredson
  10. Puzzled Intelligence: Looking for Missing Pieces. Elena L. Grigorenko
  11. A View from the Brain. Richard J. Haier
  12. Is Critical Thinking a Better Model of Intelligence? Diane F. Halpern & Heather A. Butler
  13. Many Pathways, One Destination: IQ Tests, Intelligent Testing, and the Continual Push for More Equitable Assessments. Alan S. Kaufman
  14. My Quest to Understand Human Intelligence. Scott Barry Kaufman
  15. Mapping the Outer Envelope of Intelligence: A Multidimensional View from the Top. David Lubinski
  16. The Intelligence of Nations. Richard Lynn
  17. Intelligences about Things and Intelligences about People. John D. Mayer
  18. Mechanisms of Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence and Their Common Dependence on Executive Attention 287 Zach Shipstead & Randall W. Engle
  19. Successful Intelligence in Theory, Research, and Practice. Robert J. Sternberg

First up is Phillip Ackerman, distinguishing between intellectual potentiality and actuality. I don’t agree with many of his arguments, so let me explain them. Ackerman is good at distinguishing between sheer general problem-solving brain power and accumulated, skilled knowledge. Intelligence testing includes plenty of the former, and a selection of the common denominator of the latter. He notes that when you get into wide ranging content areas, men and women differ considerably, and argues that the only reason we don’t have separate normative data for the sexes is that Lewis Terman preferred that the sexes be declared equal on the Stanford Binet, and achieved this by counter-balancing items so they appeared the same. One learns something every day. Academic domains of general knowledge usually show a male advantage, but women are ahead in health matters. Ackerman proposes that effort is a big part of actual human achievement, and who would quibble with that, save some of the facts? Practice makes one third perfect.

His chapter has one data table, and one theoretical figure.

Thomas Bouchard next, on hereditary ability. He immediately counters (and refines) Ackerman’s effort argument with Darwin’s admission that Galton has convinced him that intelligence is hereditary and of major importance:

You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think there is an eminently important difference.

It is worth emphasizing Darwin’s astute comment that there is a difference between intelligence and motivation (zeal) and effort (hard work), and that the difference is important. Galton himself was well aware of the difference and argued that all three were influenced by heredity. “The triple event, of ability combined with zeal and with capacity for hard labour[,] is inherited”. Galton’s speculative proposal has been nicely confirmed. We now know that virtually all traits (human and nonhuman, psychological and otherwise) are influenced by heredity.

Bouchard goes through a scrub-clearing exercise on the hoary objections about what intelligence is (Gottfredson’s explanation is perfectly good); the reality of g: g is inevitable if the range of tests and range of intellects is wide enough and sample sizes big enough; the notion that at some threshold higher intelligence doesn’t matter: it is monotonically effective;

This chapter is more evidence based, in my view, but that may be because it is treading a path I am in favour of. This chapter gives one figure with data.

Chapter 3
Culture, Sex, and Intelligence: Descriptive and Proscriptive Issues
Stephen J. Ceci , Donna K. Ginther , Shulamit Kahn , & Wendy M. Williams

Lots of data and figures on sex differences, stereotypes and a growth mindset.

Chapter 4
The Nature of the General Factor of Intelligence
Andrew R. A. Conway & Kristof Kovacs

About the relationship between working memory, executive attention, and intelligence. This line of work has culminated in a new theory of the positive manifold of intelligence and a corresponding new model of the general factor, g. We refer to this new framework as process overlap theory (POT) (Kovacs & Conway, 2016b ).

Chapter 5
Intelligence in Edinburgh, Scotland: Bringing Intelligence to Life
Ian J. Deary & Stuart J. Ritchie

People who tend to be good at one mental ability tend to be good at others also; these include remembering things, manipulating information, working out general principles from a set of examples and then applying them more broadly, thinking quickly, organising mental work, working things out in two or three dimensions, knowing word meanings, and knowing facts about the world.

These are action packed pages, written with aplomb by leading researchers in the business.

Chapter 6
Intelligence as Domain- Specific Superior Reproducible Performance
The Role of Acquired Domain- Specific Mechanisms in Expert Performance
K. Anders Ericsson

The two of us started a long- term practice study with a CMU student, Steve Faloon (SF), whose initial span was around seven digits. After several hundred hours of practice with the digit- span task, SF attained a digit- span of 82 digits, which is an improvement of more than 1,000%. Th is research has been described in considerable detail elsewhere (Chase & Ericsson, 1981 , 1982 ; Ericsson, 2013 ; Ericsson, Chase, & Faloon, 1980 ), so I will focus on the implications for immutable mental capacities as well as for how very high levels of performance in domains of expertise can be acquired. In fact, when SF was presented rapidly with lists of consonants (digit span for consonants), his span was unchanged (around six consonants) even after SF’s digit span had been increased by well over 300%. Some of my colleagues argued that these demonstrations of improved memory for rapidly presented digits, but only for digits, were relatively uninteresting because nobody cares about acquiring such a useless memory skill with no obvious real- world benefits. A fundamentally different interpretation of our findings is that they demonstrate evidence that anybody interested in acquiring increased ability to rapidly store and retrieve information in a particular domain of activity should be able to do so by acquiring domain-specific memory skills.

He concludes:

First, the standard practice of selecting children and adolescents for future advanced- level education based on the traditional tests of intelligence needs to be reconsidered, given their lack of relation to performance among skilled performers. Second, our educational system should not simply train students to rapidly acquire introductory and relatively superfi cial knowledge in many domains. Students should be taught and trained to attain an advanced level of performance in at least one domain, so they will know how they can improve performance in their future profession and how expert performance can be attained with appropriate practice with feedback under the guidance of teachers.

I must say that I think he is demonstrably incorrect. General intelligence remains the best predictor across the whole range of ability. I think that Ericsson should at least note the problem of restriction of range. The top performers on intellectual tasks are far brighter than average. If you then go on to correlate intelligence test scores with elite performance, you should correct the correlations for restriction of range.

Also, in describing the heroic individuals who spent two years boosting their forwards digit span from 7 digits to 80 digits (without it boosting any other form of working memory) I think it would be good to mention Shannon on information theory and “chunking”

Chapter 7
Intelligence, Society, and Human Autonomy
James R. Flynn

James Flynn’s chapter is very different in style from the others. It is written in philosophical terms, and often advances very general concepts, like “mental exercise”. It is engaging, easy to read, yet to my mind often speculative. (However, I know that some of his speculations have received strong support). Flynn argues that even if mental skill improvements “are not on g” they are still of real-life importance. That makes sense to me. He argues that minds adapt to the needs of the times, and brain change with mental exercise, such that the hippocampus enlarges when tasks require considerable memorization. Perhaps so.

Here I wish to introduce some all- important concepts: that the brain is like a muscle that profits from exercise; over time, society changes in terms of what cognitive exercise it asks us to do; and the very stuff of our brain alters to allow us to meet the challenges of our time and place. These concepts apply to our physique. If we all went from swimming to weightlifting in a generation, our physical muscles would alter dramatically. If no one drives a car in 1900 and everyone drives a car in 1950 and all cars have an automatic guidance system in 2000, the size of the hippocampus (the map- reading area of the brain) would increase and then decrease in a few generations (Maguire et al., 2000 ). What IQ gains over time deliver is a historical message about new demands on our cognitive abilities.

I know that I am somewhere between agnostic and just confused about secular rises in intelligence, and generally not on Flynn’s side of the argument about the changes in scores, and that will have influenced my reading of his chapter. I suppose the stumbling block in my mind is that there has been no Flynn Effect on maths and digit span. On the most basic tests: no change.

Chapter 8
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Psychological and Educational Perspectives
Howard Gardner , Mindy Kornhaber , & Jie- Qi Chen

Gardner describes his ideas, their origins and development.

Support from psychometric findings: Gardner acknowledges the “positive manifold” across standardized tests, but correlations will be much reduced if the intelligence can be assessed in context;

No figures or tables. Supportive evidence referenced in a link. It would have been better to have discussed it in the chapter.

Chapter 9

g Theory
How Recurring Variation in Human Intelligence and the Complexity of Everyday Tasks Create Social Structure and the Democratic Dilemma
Linda S. Gottfredson

Gottfredson explains how she began to get interested in the topic of intelligence, and asked the basic question: “does the inherent nature of some work tasks and jobs require workers to do more difficult mental processing to carry out the tasks?”. Gottfredson factor analyzed the attributes of occupations, not workers. She tested claims from sociology with data from other disciplines.

She provides a data-rich account of what intelligence means in everyday life. Gottfredson connected dots that traditional psychometricians left dangling in space, because they thought everyone understood percentile ranks, and that the cognitive demands of tasks did not need to be explained in any detail.

Spotting and Confronting the Use of Deceptive Science
There was tremendous political and legal pressure on employers in the 1980s and 1990s to use “nondiscriminatory” tests, meaning ones having no disparate impact (different pass rates by race or gender; Gottfredson & Sharf, 1988 ). Efforts to increase test reliability and validity had boomeranged because they tended to increase, not reduce, disparate impact by race by better measuring g. Adding personality tests to a selection battery hardlydented the disparate impact. The temptation to “psychomagic” grew.

Chapter 10

Puzzled Intelligence
Looking for Missing Pieces
Elena L. Grigorenko

Grigorenko describes the work which needs to be done to substantiate the epigenomic hypothesis for intelligence.

Currently, there is no published human work substantiating the hypothesis that both across development and within individuals, fluctuations in intelligence can be attributed to individual differences in the epigenome in general and in the methylome in particular.

Chapter 11
A View from the Brain
Richard J. Haier

Excellent review of the field. Since I recently reviewed Richard Haier’s book on the subject I will not add anything further.

Chapter 12
Is Critical Thinking a Better Model of Intelligence?
Diane F. Halpern and Heather A. Butler

We agree with Stanovich ( 2010 ), who wrote that critical thinking is “What intelligence tests miss.” He argues that a critical piece is missing from the traditional conceptualization of intelligence or IQ, namely a rationality quotient (RQ). Stanovich and his colleagues question why seemingly smart, accomplished people do blatantly foolish things. They argue, and we agree, that IQ and rational thinking are different constructs.

However, they correlate 0.7. I think Stanovich has failed to substantiate his extensive claims.

With diminished interest I read the rest of the chapter, but there were better things waiting. In a study whether an intelligence test and a test of critical thinking were used to predict self-reported real-life errors of judgment, both were predictive, but the critical thinking test somewhat more so. However, self-report has notorious shortcomings. If critical thinking can really be taught, successful students should have achievements which are evident to others. For example, proportional to their incomes, and with due allowance for charitable donations, they should have more savings than uncritical thinkers.

Predicting real-world outcomes: Critical thinking ability is a better predictor of life decisions than intelligence
Heather A. Butler, Christopher Pentoney, Mabelle P. Bong
Given that such skills can be trained, even after allowing for weak confirmation, this is a promising result.

Chapter 13
Many Pathways, One Destination
IQ Tests, Intelligent Testing, and the Continual Push for More Equitable Assessments
Alan S. Kaufman

A good potted history of intelligence testing, particularly the Wechsler tests. Kaufman says they did not innovate from 1915 until 2008. This is exactly the date at which many British clinicians think that they deteriorated, becoming faddish, over-factored, less reliable, and impossible to compare with almost a century of clinical history. Some notable clinician stick to the old versions, and regard the new ones as publisher’s hype. However, Kaufman rightly makes fun of the habit of over-interpreting subtest score patterns.

I investigated data for the 2,200 children and adolescents in the WISC- R standardization sample and discovered that it is normal to have scatter. The average child had a V- P discrepancy (in either direction) of 10 points (Kaufman, 1976b ). One in four children had IQ discrepancies of more than 15 points, supposedly conclusive proof of brain damage. And subtest scatter? Th e WISC- R was comprised of 10 subtests whose scaled scores (standard scores with mean = 10 and SD = 3) could range from 1 to 19. Thus, one’s scaled- score range (highest scaled score minus lowest scaled score) could potentially be as high as 18. The average person had a scaled- score range of 7 + 2 points; a range of nine was entirely within normal range (Kaufman, 1976a).

Kaufman is someone I could talk to for a long time. The number of people who have administered more than 400 Wechsler tests is probably falling fast, and the number having done that as well as being active in intelligence research is pretty small.

He signs off his chapter by talking about the intelligence research his children are doing. Good news. Psychometrics is hereditable.

Chapter 14
My Quest to Understand Human Intelligence
Scott Barry Kaufman

Begins with a strong and touching personal story about being kept in special education for years because of a long-resolved hearing infection. No wonder this child wanted to learn about intelligence. He kept quiet about this early experience for years. Wise.

Kaufman describes his theory of personal intelligence.

Of course, the Theory of Personal Intelligence was influenced by many different perspectives, and I really view it as a synthesis rather than a completely new theory. According to Sternberg (1997, 2011), successful intelligence is defined as the ability to achieve one’s goals in life (in terms of one’s own personal standards), within one’s sociocultural context, by capitalizing on strengths and correcting or compensating for weaknesses, in order to adapt to, shape, and select environments, through a combination of analytical, creative, and practical abilities. Many elements of this theory have inspired the Theory of Personal Intelligence, including the personal definition of success, the importance of context and building on strengths, and the inclusion of abilities that go beyond IQ. The Theory of Personal Intelligence goes beyond ability, however, including engagement, character strengths, and other “noncognitive” traits in the model (Heckman, 2000 ; Peterson & Seligman, 1994 ).

As you may surmise, I don’t agree with this formulation. Eratostenes surpassed his sociocultural context, and whether he achieved his own goals in life might have been of interest to him, his mother and his friends, but did not influence his estimate of the circumference of the world. I see the above list as a way of asking another question “Did person X do well in life?”. That is, “did they use their talents well?” An important question. I would consider it the Mark Twain version of life success, in that if a kid gets to St Louis, they do well. As to actual success, then boring old IQ is the best predictor available, out of a weak bunch. I am all in favour of casting the net widely to catch abilities not yet detected, but when those focus on imagination (a great time waster) and creativity (a great morass of imponderables) barely a mouse crawls out from those mountains.

Mapping the Outer Envelope of Intelligence
A Multidimensional View from the Top
David Lubinski

This is a very good summary of the work on high ability. It points out that there is no replication crisis in psychometrics. Many writers try to attach new labels to old constructs, but the underlying factors remain pretty constant, whatever they are called. I rate this work highly, and have covered it often, so I will commend it once again and pass on to other chapters, beyond asking you to remember the number 5.

Some years ago I was at a Royal Society conference, and over coffee heard two Fellows discussing that although the difference between elite athletes and average fitness could be measure accurately no such metric was available for mental ability. Boldly, I said that the brightest thinkers were 5 times as fast as the slowest, basing this on some observations by Jensen. They seemed will to accept this approximation.

Ninety- five years ago, Carl Emil Seashore (1922) pointed out that among a random sample of college freshmen, the top 5% can learn five times more academic material than the bottom 5% (per unit time), and that there are successive gradations in between these levels.

That is the forgotten aspect of intelligence: you can cover more ground faster, and so can travel further.

On page 251 there is a most interesting note on the Graduate Record examination, revealing that a score of 500 on the verbal scale puts you at the 59th percentile rank, but a score of 500 on the maths scale merely at the 18th percentile. Never accept a score without seeing the score distributions. Also, make a mental note that tests of maths ability are probably the most informative.

Chapter 16
The Intelligence of Nations
Richard Lynn

This is a very good summary of the work Richard Lynn has done for years on the ability levels of nations. He once said that, if only Physics is of any value, and all other disciplines are mere stamp collecting, then he has been a mere collector of country IQs. This chapter gives the correlations between national level and lots of other economic and social indicators. I have covered the national data many times before, so will not add further comment other than to say that the chapter is a very good starting point for new readers.

Chapter 17
Intelligences about Things and Intelligences about People
John D. Mayer

John Mayer is interested in social intelligence, and whether this exists as a separate ability. He also considers emotional intelligence and personal intelligence.

Here is an example from Mayer’s Test of Personal Intelligence which includes items such as:

If a person is outgoing and talkative, most likely, she is also inclined to be:
a. self- controlled
b. more assertive than average
c. anxious and impulsive
d. altruistic

The correct answer here is “b. more assertive than average,” because research on the big five personality traits indicate that talkativeness and sociability are more highly correlated with assertiveness than with the other listed alternatives.

So, if a person has personal intelligence, they will have noticed those features of human behaviour which are detected and confirmed by personality questionnaires.

Personal intelligence may also divide into two subsidiary factors that correlate about r = 0.80 with one another (Mayer, Panter, & Caruso, 2014 ). The first factor involves perceiving consistencies in people’s behaviors. The second factor represents reasoning about personality dynamics, such has how goals interrelate, and how multiple observers each may perceive the same person differently.

For example, personal intelligence correlates just r = 0.17 and r = 0.20 with SAT- Math and spatial intelligence measures, but rises to r = 0.39 with verbal intelligence (which presumably is midway between thing- and person- focused), and rises again to r = 0.53 with the Reading the Mind in the Eyes scale, a measure of understanding people, and exhibits an r = 0.69 with the MSCEIT understanding emotions and managing emotions areas (the latter, managing emotion area, arguably blends somewhat into personal intelligence at a conceptual level).

Chapter 18
Mechanisms of Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence and Their Common Dependence on Executive Attention
Zach Shipstead and Randall W. Engle

We did not set out to study intelligence. The question at the origin of this line of work was why complex memory span tasks correlate so highly and so consistently (Turner & Engle, 1989 ) with a huge array of real- world tasks when simple span tasks do so less well and very inconsistently (Dempster,1981 ). We attempted to answer this question by a combination of methods taken from both experimental psychology and differential psychology – a response to Cronbach’s ( 1957 ) complaint that the two approaches to psychology historically have disregarded each other.

Chapter 19

Successful Intelligence in Theory, Research, and Practice
Robert J. Sternberg

My reaction is that Successful Intelligence is a tautology: unsuccessful thinking is hardly intelligent.

Sternberg says:

Intelligence really is nothing in particular, as it is a construct humans have invented, largely to explain why some people are better at performing some classes of tasks than others (Sternberg, 1984a ). Many different metaphors can characterize intelligence (Sternberg, 1990 ), but these too are creations to help us understand our own invention

Well, all constructs are invented by humans, including “nothing” “particular” “people” “performing” and “tasks”. Are there more trenchant points to follow?

Sternberg continues:

Successful intelligence is one’s ability to choose, reevaluate, and, to the extent possible, attain one’s goals in life, within one’s sociocultural context. A successfully intelligent person recognizes his or her strengths and weaknesses and then capitalizes on strengths while compensating for or correcting weaknesses. He or she does so through a combination of analytical, creative, practical, and wisdom- based/ ethical skills (Sternberg, 2003 ).

I have an immediate problem with this definition, namely criterion heterodoxy, or the “rubber ruler” mistake. People’s goals in life differ, and their concepts of success. It would put me, as someone who became an academic to read, write and discuss psychology in relative tranquillity, on a par with others who also wanted and did those things, but who actually published more widely and consequently had a greater impact. I rank Sternberg more highly than myself. My next problem is that the actual ingredients in this successful intelligence turn out to be analytical, creative, practical and wisdom based. Agreed. Intelligent people are good at those things, some far more so than others, and all of these intellectual abilities correlate with each other, and with real life achievements.

Sternberg says:

what constitutes intelligent behavior may differ radically from one culture to another in terms of the adaptive requirements of the culture. For example, in a rural Kenyan village, knowledge of natural herbal medicine used to combat parasitic illnesses may be key to adaptation and hence intelligence (Sternberg et al., 2001); in the United States, such knowledge may be useless.

Well, no, actually. The rural Kenyan village in this story had many children with parasitic illnesses, so there was zero evidence that herbal concoctions were effective. When you read the small print in this study, the authors in fact gave the infested children US developed modern drugs, and showed that after proper treatment they functioned better. It also turned out that the measure of knowledge of herbal medicine they used was one in which agreeing that herbal medicines were effective counted as a point towards knowing things about herb medicines. I don’t think that this study proves anything about radical differences in what constitutes intellgent behaviour. Don’t let anyone sell you this argument in an Ebola epidemic. Equally, Sternberg notes that precocity in children is welcomed in the US but frowned upon in Kenya. This would be interesting if Kenya exceeded the US in intellectual achievements. This not being the case might suggest, if early child interventions have any influence at all, that Kenyans should try applauding their youngsters when they venture their premature observations.

Later in the chapter there is much work on the contributions of Successful Intelligence tests to the selection of university students, and this is the strongest aspect of the chapter.

Conclusions

I am sorry that I did not cover all the chapters in equal detail, and also sorry that this review is too long. I have not had time to make it shorter.

Textbooks are far more likely than original papers to be read by students. Textbooks also carry an air of authority not achieved by other publications, so may well determine how a topic is seen by a generation that will read little else on the subject. This textbook will convince them that there is real content in psychometric research. Those with more knowledge of the field may feel that some researchers are highly quoted on the slender basis that their conjectures seem uplifting, and that their schemes of self-improvement give heart to many hopeful readers. Other researchers provide results which may be less welcome, but their papers come out with a frequency and a wealth of content which demands attention.

Robert Graves was chastised by the tutors examining his thesis on the White Goddess of inspiration “for having favoured some poets over others”. All reviewers must do so. Must editors?

At one stage when reading this volume I thought that the noble plan of asking the most cited psychologists to contribute had gone horribly wrong. There are citations and citations. I wanted to admit that the editor should decide which sort of psychology they value and must invite contributions from those they regard as having the best ideas and supportive evidence, and must stand or fall on that. As I continued to read I returned to my view that gathering the most-cited authors has paid off.

I think that this is a better representation of the field than was achieved in previous volumes. It also shows many authors at their best, in that they have compressed their work into considered and readable summaries. The format of scientific papers, nobly striving for dispassionate rectitude, is too often stale and humourless, and proves hard going for most readers. These chapters are often better, with a moiety of conversational asides and personal disclosure.

We have had a good, well-balanced look at the most cited scholars on intelligence. Some are better than others. Are some of them cited purely because they have an uplifting message, and are on the side of the angels? Could be. Authors certainly differ in how much they are research based. Some rely on a few confirmatory studies, others are supported by a very wide range of research results. What unifies them is a deep interest in the subject, and the willingness to pursue their speculations by putting them to the test.

If students still read textbooks in university libraries, looking out at the campus lawns as their more feckless colleagues make their way to sunlit assignations, I think this volume will merit their quiet, scholarly approbation.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Intelligence, IQ 
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  1. For example, in a rural Kenyan village, knowledge of natural herbal medicine used to combat parasitic illnesses may be key to adaptation and hence intelligence

    Or, as the case may be, which albino body part to use as a charm to prevent ebola.

    Tanzania Bans Witch Doctors in Response to Widespread Albino Killings

  2. res says:

    Thank you for the detailed review. The book is quite reasonably priced at Amazon as well–especially for a textbook.

    One small request. It looks like the source for your excerpts had hard line breaks embedded in it (Chapter 6 is a good example). Would it be possible to remove those to make the excerpts easier to read?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  3. dearieme says:

    How on earth could someone with the reflective and observational powers of Darwin have believed something so foolish about his fellow men?

  4. Anonymous[136] • Disclaimer says:
    @res

    When the temperature drops I will do so

  5. hyperbola says:

    Sounds like the usual incestuous gibberish from “psychologists”. Seems to be a very small group struggling to make themselves feel important. The “scatter” of the various “theories” already suggests there is not much reliable result in this field. This Pubmed result for Ackermann over the last 8 years (supposedly one the most cited authors) suggests the “crew” is small, singularly unproductive and spinning its wheels.

    Modeling intraindividual variation in unsafe driving in a naturalistic commuting environment.
    Calderwood C, Ackerman PL.
    J Occup Health Psychol. 2018 Jun 25. doi: 10.1037/ocp0000127. [Epub ahead of print]
    PMID: 29939044

    Adult Intelligence: The Construct and the Criterion Problem.
    Ackerman PL.
    Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017 Nov;12(6):987-998. doi: 10.1177/1745691617703437. Epub 2017 Aug 18.
    PMID: 28820952

    The Relative Salience of Daily and Enduring Influences on Off-Job Reactions to Work Stress.
    Calderwood C, Ackerman PL.
    Stress Health. 2016 Dec;32(5):587-596. doi: 10.1002/smi.2665. Epub 2015 Dec 17.
    PMID: 26679832

    Investment and intellect: a review and meta-analysis.
    von Stumm S, Ackerman PL.
    Psychol Bull. 2013 Jul;139(4):841-69. doi: 10.1037/a0030746. Epub 2012 Dec 10. Review.
    PMID:23231531

    Trait complexes and academic achievement: old and new ways of examining personality in educational contexts.
    Ackerman PL, Chamorro-Premuzic T, Furnham A.
    Br J Educ Psychol. 2011 Mar;81(Pt 1):27-40. doi: 10.1348/000709910X522564. Review.
    PMID:21391962

    Use it or lose it? Wii brain exercise practice and reading for domain knowledge.
    Ackerman PL, Kanfer R, Calderwood C.
    Psychol Aging. 2010 Dec;25(4):753-66. doi: 10.1037/a0019277.
    PMID:20822257

  6. Is intelligence a mental ability? Is it cognitive?

  7. utu says:

    and argues that the only reason we don’t have separate normative data for the sexes is that Lewis Terman preferred that the sexes be declared equal on the Stanford Binet, and achieved this by counter-balancing items so they appeared the same.

    So we have a science by decree. I always felt there was something Stalinist about the IQism. Could we eliminate Black White difference in a similar way?

  8. Anonymous[270] • Disclaimer says:

    Could we eliminate Black White difference in a similar way?

    We could. But at the major expense of utility.

  9. Thank you for your diligent work summarizing a field that many of us can’t hope to follow on our own.

  10. Lewis Terman preferred that the sexes be declared equal

    Which we all know now is indisputably true, the sexes are exactly equal in every way (except for where women are clearly superior)..

    But this raises a question. If intelligence testing was designed and normed in sex specific manner, wouldn’t that tell us a lot more about reality? Could the rabid SJW “man” actually be a retarded man but a fairly smart woman on sex specific testing?

    Terman no doubt had a wife and chose his method on the rational basis of domestic tranquility. “Yes dear, your ideas on plumbing, carpentry, and electricity are very smart, I’ll fix this leaky washing machine and rotted flooring using your brilliant ideas while you go shopping for that new dress you want.”

    • LOL: mark green
    • Replies: @RaceRealist88
  11. However, they correlate 0.7. I think Stanovich has failed to substantiate his extensive claims.

    Let’s see. We have “intelligence” & “critical thinking”. If these words mean anything resembling our everyday experience, then, we’re in trouble. It is very well known that Einstein, P.A.M. Dirac,..were completely uncritical re Soviet Union, and Heisenberg, Pascual Jordan, Rolf Nevanlinna, Heidegger, Debye…as well as C.G.Jung in earlier phases equally apologetic with regard to Nazi Germany.

    From 1925- 1956, most of Western intelligentsia, including scientists, writers, philosophers….were Soviet apologists ready to believe each & every nonsense that exalted USSR.

    I other words, either redefine those two words, or admit that IQ & critical thinking do not have any correlation at all.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  12. @Stan d Mute

    “One who would construct a test for intellectual capacity has two possible methods of handling the problem of sex differences.
    1 He may assume that all the sex differences yielded by his test items are about equally indicative of sex differences in native ability.
    2 He may proceed on the hypothesis that large sex differences on items of the Binet type are likely to be factitious in the sense that they reflect sex differences in experience or training. To the extent that this assumption is valid, he will be justified in eliminating from his battery test items which yield large sex differences.
    The authors of the New Revision have chosen the second of these alternatives and sought to avoid using test items showing large differences in percents passing.” (McNemar 1942:56)

    This is, of course, a clear admission of the subjectivity of such assumptions: while ‘preferring’ to see sex differences as undesirable artefacts of test composition, other differences between groups or individuals, such as different social classes or, at various times, different ‘races’, are seen as ones ‘truly’ existing in nature. Yet these, too, could be eliminated or exaggerated by exactly the same process of assumption and manipulation of test composition.

    (quote from Richardson, 1998)

    This shows how extremely subjective test construction is; what differences stay is up to the test constructors, gaps can be eliminated through item analysis and selection which shows how subjective the construction of these tests are.

  13. unit472 says:

    I was reading the Wikipaedia entry for singer Bill Withers after drawing a blank for the title of one of his songs ( Use Me Up). Withers came late to music, working in pre Silicon Valley in a nothing job but decided to give it a go upon learning how much more money a singer could make. He gave a cautionary example however, pointing out that at a football stadium 50,000 people might imagine they could play quarterback when not one person in that crowd might actually be able to do so competently.

    His story is my point. You cannot learn to be a good singer. You either have the talent or you don’t. What we sometimes confuse in the negro is ‘talent’ masquerading as ‘intelligence’ though I’d point out Bill Withers would probably rank very high amongst negroes in raw intelligence as he left the music industry decades ago and made a fortune in Los Angeles real estate. Things like music and language seem to be innate to mankind such that we all like musical harmonies and good stories. Some of us even have real talent for writing songs and stories but it is a talent not ‘intelligence’ that makes this possible. Idiot Savants, e.g. can listen to a song once and play it on a piano but no one would call them a ‘genius’ or even intelligent.

    Thus I come to language. Everyone can talk and some can talk better than others. If you could change the tenor of a 10 year olds voice to that of a 40 year old man you might be surprised at how ‘smart’ you would find that 10 year old simply because his voice was more mature. Thus we conflate gasbags like Barack Obama or Martin Luther King with intelligent people simply because they sound like people who we associate with being intelligent. Ask them to do a geometric proof or some other task that requires logical thinking and we might be very disappointed.

  14. Glancing through the article I did not see any definition of intelligence.
    As far as I know such a definition does not exist, that is, a definition generally agreed on.
    I also do not see any reference to animal intelligence.
    That great apes are intelligent is well known, they make tools, I once saw a great ape that had been taught language make a joke, great.
    But even bees seem intelligent to me, when they had made a nest, hope this is the right word, in our house, and we had blocked the exit with small stones, they succeeded in pushing away in a collective effort the stone.
    My views at intelligence stories, and of course tests, is that they’re biased, based on western culture.
    Therefore, I fear, those belonging to non western cultures automatically are seen as more ore less stupid.
    Of course, an IQ test does bring meaningful information about the ability to function in the western culture.
    Dutch employers find that one third of immigrants from outside Europe ‘are too stupid for the simplest jobs’.
    If these employers would function in the countries or regions where the immigrants come from, in their daily life, I wonder.

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
    , @EH
    , @El Dato
  15. @jilles dykstra

    My views at intelligence stories, and of course tests, is that they’re biased, based on western culture.

    Of course, it’s culture that prevents Africans from solving biased IQ tests like this one:

    • Replies: @Okechukwu
    , @Wizard of Oz
  16. EH says:

    Off-topic, but I found this interesting recent study indicating that typical levels of fluoride in pregnant women lower their children’s IQ by over 4 points:

    “Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6–12 Years of Age in Mexico”
    (Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP655 Sept.2017)

    Methods: We studied participants from the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) project. An ion-selective electrode technique was used to measure fluoride in archived urine samples taken from mothers during pregnancy and from their children when 6–12 y old, adjusted for urinary creatinine and specific gravity, respectively. Child intelligence was measured by the General Cognitive Index (GCI) of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities at age 4 and full scale intelligence quotient (IQ) from the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) at age 6–12.

    Results: We had complete data on 299 mother–child pairs, of whom 287 and 211 had data for the GCI and IQ analyses, respectively. Mean (SD) values for urinary fluoride in all of the mothers (n=299) and children with available urine samples (n=211) were 0.90 (0.35) mg/L and 0.82 (0.38) mg/L, respectively. In multivariate models we found that an increase in maternal urine fluoride of 0.5mg/L (approximately the IQR) predicted 3.15 (95% CI: −5.42, −0.87) and 2.50 (95% CI −4.12, −0.59) lower offspring GCI and IQ scores, respectively.

  17. Okechukwu says:
    @Stan d Mute

    Of course, it’s culture that prevents Africans from solving biased IQ tests like this one:

    Who determines the answer to that puzzle? You could give dozens of answers that are either right or wrong depending on what the constructor has determined to be the right or wrong answers.

    So you really believe that this kind of absurd, arbitrary garbage is going to determine someone’s level of intelligence? And you’re running your mouth about the supposed low intelligence of Africans? LOL. Well, while you’re playing with pegs like a 2 year old, that African might very well think circles around you with regard to real life situations requiring quick wits and mental agility.

    All you IQist morons should calm down. We simply don’t know enough about human intelligence to make the sweeping proclamations you all are wont to make.

  18. EH says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Intelligence measures the difficulty of problems people can handle. (That’s not too hard, is it?)

    Those who reject the concept of intelligence never think to similarly deny that some problems are more mentally demanding than others, nor even the idea that one can to a great extent rank and quantify the differences in difficulty, yet difficulty and ability are measured by the very same (Rasch) scale.

  19. renfro says:

    We agree with Stanovich ( 2010 ), who wrote that critical thinking is “What intelligence tests miss.” He argues that a critical piece is missing from the traditional conceptualization of intelligence or IQ, namely a rationality quotient (RQ). Stanovich and his colleagues question why seemingly smart, accomplished people do blatantly foolish things. They argue, and we agree, that IQ and rational thinking are different constructs.

    Personally I tire of researchers chasing their tails on I.Q., Intelligence etc..

    But agree that IQ and rational/critical thinking are different constructs……that is something we can actually observe in individuals.
    We know that IQs can be raised but can critical thinking be raised?…. I have my doubts.
    Critical thinking probably has more to do with an individuals unique brain processing…. which I think has to do with genetics……more so than genetics has to do with IQ…..except in cases of true child genius.

    • Replies: @dieter kief
  20. dieter kief says: • Website
    @renfro

    But agree that IQ and rational/critical thinking are different constructs……that is something we can actually observe in individuals.

    Without I

  21. El Dato says:
    @jilles dykstra

    If these employers would function in the countries or regions where the immigrants come from, in their daily life, I wonder.

    Probably not. It’s hard to handle a proper business when you are in a culture in which arithmetic operations give different results.

  22. El Dato says:
    @Okechukwu

    You could give dozens of answers that are either right or wrong depending on what the constructor has determined to be the right or wrong answers.

    The last hope: “My answer COULD also be right”.

    Well, while you’re playing with pegs like a 2 year old, that African might very well think circles around you with regard to real life situations requiring quick wits and mental agility.

    This is demonstrated every day in police encounters.

  23. But agree that IQ and rational/critical thinking are different constructs……that is something we can actually observe in individuals.

    Without IQ, people are stuck.
    With IQ alone, not much might happen – and even less be achieved.
    The rest is culture – and cultivation – and all these remarks of mine are a) deeply rooted in (our) culture, and – – – critical*** (and rational, I hope), too.

    *** critical meaning – : – making/ applying/showing/realizing = thinking in the realm of – : – differences. – cf. GWF Hegel: Science of Logic: Things that don’t differ, can’t appear (=”something is (always, dk) something, as something else”.

  24. utu says:

    With IQ alone, not much might happen – and even less be achieved.
    The rest is culture – and cultivation

    W/o culture and cultivation the IQ test could not even be applied. Whatever is IQ it is culture specific including whatever it is the Raven matrices (which were designed to be culture neutral) measure. The Raven matrices tests experienced the largest Flynn effect.

    But the word cultivation is exactly right. The question is how to cultivate human monkeys to obtain the highest useful intelligence out of them? However the human monkeys have other equally important qualities that need to be cultivated.

  25. @EH

    Is it “reject[ing] the concept of intelligence” or pointing out, rightly, that there is no accepted definition for the construct, nor any real way of measurement?

    “never think to similarly deny that some problems are more mentally demanding than others”

    What causes differences in mental abilities?

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  26. @RaceRealist88

    Is it “reject[ing] the concept of intelligence” or pointing out, rightly, that there is no accepted definition for the construct, nor any real way of measurement?

    Wrong on both counts. There is an accepted, workable, useful, empirically-tested definition of intelligence. That few understand it or use it doesn’t make it less real. That arguments persist among scholars about some elements of that definition, or that a handful of scholars reject that definition entirely, doesn’t make that it less workable, useful or accepted.

    Few people understand any element of science in any scientific field, and yet scientific progress is obvious and nontrivial. And scholarly unanimity doesn’t exist anywhere in any scientific field.

    What causes differences in mental abilities?

    The same thing that causes differences in any mental or physical characteristic in any living creature: genes, with a minor assist by the environment.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @RaceRealist88
  27. @Bardon Kaldian

    Interesting examples. May I draw attention to the phenomenon or at least likelihood of people whose high IQs make them conscious of the crudity of many other people’s expressions of opinion seeking to counter that crudity. So, one tendency is to look for more complicated explanations or justifications for what others abruptly reject as if by instinct, even presuming that there might be a higher degree of rationality amongst criticized leaders. One might think that Stalin and Hitler didn’t offer the chances to forgive and explain them that Donald Trump (and India’s PM for another example in a sort of democracy) do to their intelligent apologists. But hindsight is marvellous.

  28. @EH

    Intelligence measures nothing, an IQ test does.
    The problem is, as we have been unable to define intelligence, that IQ just measures IQ.
    ⦁ William H. Calvin, ‘De opkomst van het intellect, Een reis naar de ijstijd’, Amsterdam 1994 (The Ascent of Mind. Ice Climates and the Evolution of Intelligence’, 1990)
    argues that our big brains are the result of the ice ages, just the cleverest survived.
    And intelligence is to a large extent hereditary.
    So this is close to what you probably tried to formulate, intelligence has something to do with the ability to solve problems.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  29. @Stan d Mute

    What is the question and what is the answer to that puzzle?

  30. @Okechukwu

    Don’t Africans who score higher on IQ tests do better on average at activities widely valued than Africans who score much lower? Earning a living, passing exams into and at local educational institutions, advancing in the police force and armed services etc.?

  31. Don’t Africans who score higher on IQ tests do better on average at activities widely valued than Africans who score much lower? Earning a living, passing exams into and at local educational institutions, advancing in the police force and armed services, obtaining a foreign country’s visa etc.?

  32. Medvedev says:
    @Okechukwu

    Just like math, physics, computer science etc. If only there were some fundamental laws and theorems that would exist no matter what color of skin you have … never mind. Most blacks solve these problems in their own way, different from high-IQ Whites, Asians, Blacks.

  33. The concept of human intelligence is obviously an oxymoron.

  34. utu says:
    @Pincher Martin

    There is an accepted, workable, useful, empirically-tested definition of intelligence.

    What definition? How does one test definitions empirically?

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  35. “This would be interesting if Kenya exceeded the US in intellectual achievements. This not being the case might suggest, if early child interventions have any influence at all, that Kenyans should try applauding their youngsters when they venture their premature observations.”

    Not if you understand that africans have generally practiced a socialization process that is high context and would shun children acting out of turn — this might change to varying contexts, but precocious behavior would be discouraged.

    sadly, blacks in africa much like native americans in the us have learned to distrust whites period. regardless of what what a white has to say is beneficial such as is the case in medicine. Whether the medicinal that were generated to treat african illnesses before the advent of western diseases actually worked would be an unknown to us. Ignoring that whites on the continent have behaved almost entirely as adversaries in every way including medical behaviors. however, what is clear is that blacks who allow themselves to adopt western practices to treat most of the illnesses brought by westerners are just as capable as whites in so treating. Which confirms that intelligence, knowledge is not merely some stored sequence that exists in whites uniquely.

    I will forgo the hiv and ebola discussion for a different time.

    But throughout the article the ability to improve , adapt, understand, and implement intelligence is not a stagnant or steady state biological artifact – the more exposure to what is classified as intelligence regardless of mode, the more likely one is apply it.

    further, you mishandled the issue of medicinal, the knowledge base would be among knowing which medicinal to apply and their differences — not whether said medicinal might work to western medicines — that would require exposure — which was yet forthcoming, if I understood the article correctly.

  36. @jilles dykstra

    Also, how does a psychology professor of IQ 120 create a test to measure the IQ of an engineer or medical doctor with an IQ over 140 (the reliable/repeatable limit of most IQ tests)? The usual explanation is speed of processing questions on the test. And multiple choice is a test of anything?

    If IQ tests measure anything useful, what do US tests like GMAT/Princeton measure?

    On an aside, I thought it was common knowledge that not only was the Stanford/Binet test was not only originally calibrated but regularly recalibrated by the test owners to give male/female equal scores at 100. And “average” Americans are 100 by definition too.

    IQ tests might tell your rulers what you are capable of under their command. You can maintain the system. Creation is something else. new products, processes, systems of thought. And that is not usually a singular effort. Recorde bounced off Dee. Newton needed Hooke and Boyle. Watt needed someone to identify the right problem for him. Davy worked with Faraday. Darwin was sparked by Wallace. (Sorry for being so UK centric). Tell me about Gauss.

  37. @Pincher Martin

    “There is an accepted, workable, useful, empirically-tested definition of intelligence.”

    Well?

    “That few understand it or use it doesn’t make it less real”

    No one contests that “intelligence” exists; people contest that IQ tests test intelligence (they don’t, they are tests of middle-class knowledge and skills).

    “Few people understand any element of science in any scientific field, and yet scientific progress is obvious and nontrivial. And scholarly unanimity doesn’t exist anywhere in any scientific field.”

    IQ isn’t “science”; psychologists aren’t “scientists”; psychology isn’t “science”.

    “The same thing that causes differences in any mental or physical characteristic in any living creature: genes, with a minor assist by the environment.”

    How can genes cause individual differences in mental abilities if psychophysical and psychological laws do not exist?

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  38. Anon[436] • Disclaimer says:

    You sound like you are repeating some lefty primary school teacher’s muddle from 40 years ago.

    Just testing “middle class knowledge and skills”? Tell us how that is true of Raven’s Progressive Matrices. And why, since you are so confident of your knowledge, have scores measured by Raven’s Matrices been the ones which display the Flynn Effect?

    “Psychology isn’t science” is only true in the sense that (the practice of) medicine isn’t science. Scientific investigation has been made of psychological phenomena for well over a hundred years. Ever heard of Pavlov’s dogs and do you think humans haven’t been subjected to comparable experiments?

    As for your last paragraph! You are trolling aren’t you?

  39. @RaceRealist88

    Well?

    Read through the 100-year history of psychometrics if you’re interested. You’ll discover a field which has been robustly tested and proven of real-world use, even if occasionally modified as more empirical results came in (which is just what we would expect a science to do).

    No one contests that “intelligence” exists; people contest that IQ tests test intelligence (they don’t, they are tests of middle-class knowledge and skills).

    Which explains why the Chinese did so well on such tests even back in the nineteen-eighties, when the country’s average household income was less than a thousand dollars a day (which was basically an African-like level of income for the time) and the people were less than a decade removed from everyone wearing Mao suits and the madness of the Cultural Revolution.

    IQ isn’t “science”; psychologists aren’t “scientists”; psychology isn’t “science”.

    I agree that ninety percent of psychology is bullshit. Psychometrics is in that other ten percent. That’s why it’s one of the few areas in the field which isn’t suffering from the replication crisis in the social sciences.

    How can genes cause individual differences in mental abilities if psychophysical and psychological laws do not exist?

    You’re just hung up on the word “psychology.” Natural differences exist between people – individuals, of course, but also groups of related people. These differences were caused by the history of our genes. First, physical separation. Then, different selection pressures in different areas of the world. Finally, the passage of enough time.

  40. @utu

    What definition? How does one test definitions empirically?

    The definition of intelligence I was speaking of is the statistical construct of g, which can be tested and retested, has remarkable measurable stability in individuals across long periods of time, despite being something no experimenter has ever seen, and has real world uses in helping us how to better understand individual and national productivity, classroom and workplace success, and how better to educate or train children.

  41. utu says:

    You answer is combination of wishful thinking, fantasies and confabulation.

    The definition of intelligence I was speaking of is the statistical construct of g

    I can’t see how g can be used as definition because g itself is inevitable. Every covariance matrix has largest eigen vector. It follows from the property of Rayleigh quotient.

    While g is unique for a given covariance matrix one can construct different covariance matrices using different battery of tests resulting in different g’s. So, g is not unique.

    g is not used to test individuals. No scale was defined for g. People may know their IQ scores in IQ points but nobody knows what is value of their g. Do you?

    As Flynn effect demonstrates g is not stable.

    and has real world uses in helping us how to better understand individual and national productivity

    I do not think anybody gained better understanding of national productivity by looking at graphs or correlation generated by Lynn.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    , @res
  42. @utu

    I can’t see how g can be used as definition because g itself is inevitable.

    You sound like you’re repeating the old argument of that statistician who a few years back tried to make the claim that g is a statistical illusion because, he claimed, one can create a g for anything. The physicist Steve Hsu dismissed the argument, and it doesn’t follow from other claims that one can’t find the equivalent of g in areas like athletics, for example.

    If your best argument is repeating these hoary claims, then you simply haven’t kept up with the counter-arguments made to them.

    I do not think anybody gained better understanding of national productivity by looking at graphs or correlation generated by Lynn.

    Lynn is a sloppy and perhaps even dishonest scholar, but the basic correlation he found hasn’t been refuted. Besides, the scholarly arguments about the correlation between national productivity and IQ have long since progressed beyond the crude arguments made by Lynn. Read the economist Garett Jones’ Hive Mind, for example.

    • Replies: @utu
  43. res says:

    You sound like you’re repeating the old argument of that statistician who a few years back tried to make the claim that g is a statistical illusion because, he claimed, one can create a g for anything.

    Utu and I talked about Shalizi in this exchange from last year: http://www.unz.com/freed/iq-a-skeptics-view/#comment-1735424

    Here is a detailed rebuttal of Shalizi with some good comments (including several by Steve Sailer): http://humanvarieties.org/2013/04/03/is-psychometric-g-a-myth/

  44. res says:
    @utu

    I do not think anybody gained better understanding of national productivity by looking at graphs or correlation generated by Lynn.

    I think Heiner Rindermann’s book (and other work) refutes this.

  45. @res

    Thanks for the links.

    Yes, I’m in complete agreement with Dalliard (and Steve Sailer). Shalizi’s argument seems disingenuous. But I don’t think people like Shalizi are much interested in discussing the arguments around the g factor. They have tunnel vision based on narrow mathematical and statistical arguments, and don’t bother to look at the sheer empirics surrounding the science – i.e., how many ways intelligence has been studied over the last century, how durable g has been, and how well it has handled the biggest challenges (such as the Flynn Effect) and still remains the best definition for what we know about intelligence.

    • Agree: res, James Thompson
  46. @res

    If Shazali is correct and one can essentially create a g for anything, why haven’t we created a g for athleticism?

    On its face, it certainly appears that some people are more athletic than other people. Just as everyone knew who the intellectual nerds were in high school, so everyone also knew who were the jocks. Guys who were good in one sport were often good at others. If they were on the football team, they were often on the basketball or baseball teams, or they participated in track and field.

    Yet when you break athleticism down into component subfactors, like strength, endurance, speed, and flexibility, correlations apparently do not appear as they do for intelligence, that according to the late Henry Harpending. Guys who are strong are often less than average in flexibility or endurance, for example. There is no “a”, as there is a g.

    One would think that would refute Shazili’s claim that factor analysis naturally leads to positive correlations. For if you can go around and find negative correlations even in areas where you expect to find positive ones, why is g different?

    • Replies: @res
  47. utu says:
    @Pincher Martin

    You sound like you’re repeating the old argument of that statistician who a few years back tried to make the claim that g is a statistical illusion because, he claimed, one can create a g for anything. The physicist Steve Hsu dismissed the argument, and it doesn’t follow from other claims that one can’t find the equivalent of g in areas like athletics, for example.

    The argument was good and final and never was refuted. Any covariance matrix (also made of metrics in athletics) will yield eigenvector of which one that is associated with the greatest eigenvalue could be called g. This is because a covariance matrix is positive-definitive matrix. That’s why g is inevitable. So existence of g is not a big deal.

    The other problems are that g is not unique and not sufficient. It is not unique in general sense because different batteries of tests will yield different g’s that won’t be mutually parallel and will have different values. Furthermore it is possible to construct tests in such way that the 2nd eigenvalue is comparable in magnitude with the 1st, meaning that it can’t be dismissed. The Flynn effect is a good example of it because it affects more the spatio-visual tests than verbal tests. Thus the vector g in Holland 40 years ago was rotated to its current position. So g in Holland 40 years ago and now are two different vectors; different by more than their absolute magnitudes. This means that g itself is insufficient to describe intelligence or performance of all tests in the battery and one needs to use at least two mutually orthogonal components, say, g and s. This goes against the dogma of Spearman that was reinforced by Jensen. One reason why Spearman limited himself to one g is because he lacked mathematical methods to do efficient matrix decomposition to obtain remaining eigenvectors. However the chief reason for insistence on a single g was the fetish of 19 century reductionism in combination with the physics envy.

    Several days ago I wrote about it here:

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/cognitive-cliodynamics/#comment-2401557
    The diffrent rates of Flynn effects on verbal and Raven matrices imply that ‘general intelligence’ may not exist as a single component (factor), i.e., a scalar quantity. Factorization of the same battery of tests now and 40 years ago would yield two different g factors that would not be mutually parallel, meaning that another factor, let’s call it s orthogonal to g, must be introduced. At this point it must be admitted that the church erected by Spearman and refurbished with new mathematical facade by Jensen is crumbling. Instead of scalar ‘general intelligence’ we have a 2-D vector in space spanned by two orthogonal vectors g and s and the Flynn effect consists of rotation of the ‘general intelligence vector’ in this space and also in change of its absolute magnitude. It is a significant departure form the dogma of Spearman. Further consequence is that each orthogonal component of the ‘general intelligence vector’ may have different heritability, however this is of secondary importance as the heritability tests have very poor repeatability.

    It seems that you do not know much about it and do not understand the structure of the theory of intelligence initiated by Spearman. You are just a believer. The believers need g. Most of them do not understand what it is and how it is constructed, so they can bow to it when they hear magic phrases like ‘g-loaded.’ The chief function of g is as a rhetorical device. But g itself is actually not used. There is no standardized scale of g. Nobody really knows what is their g score. Basically it is not used unlike IQ scores. Perhaps you should ponder on this fact.

    Even smart people like Jordan Peterson have problems with understanding g. In his lectures he gives a complete spiel on g singularity according to the IQist dogma but when talking about his own IQ>150 he readily admits that his math GRE score was in 70-75 percentile only and he fails to see that singular g theory can’t explain it. Here is Ron Unz’s comment on it:

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/nyt-meet-the-renegades-of-the-intellectual-dark-web/#comment-2322700

    Then there is a clip where Peterson talks about his IQ. In excess of 150 but not too good in math: 70-75 percentile only.

    Assuming that’s the 70-75 percentile of the general population, I find the figure astonishingly low, since it’s presumably well below that of the average college-graduate in the sciences, and would probably mean he can’t handle any substantial math or statistics.

    Obviously, corrupt elites would love recruiting a mellifluous academic dupe who can be trained to regurgitate all sorts of statistical nonsense without even realizing it’s statistical nonsense…

    • Replies: @res
  48. res says:
    @Pincher Martin

    If Shazali is correct and one can essentially create a g for anything, why haven’t we created a g for athleticism?

    I strongly agree with this. My primary conclusion is that as mathematical as Shalizi might be he is innumerate in a practical sense (or else lying/disingenuous). A key aspect of g is the consistency with which it appears and the magnitude of the variance explained. I don’t see how anyone who does PCA on real data can fail to be impressed by a first component which explains over 50% of variance. There is a big difference between that and a first factor for random numbers which explains (1 / n) + epsilon of the overall variance of n random numbers.

    Yet when you break athleticism down into component subfactors, like strength, endurance, speed, and flexibility, correlations apparently do not appear as they do for intelligence, that according to the late Henry Harpending. Guys who are strong are often less than average in flexibility or endurance, for example. There is no “a”, as there is a g.

    Do you have a reference for Henry’s thinking on that? My sense is that there is something of an a factor, but the following make it different:
    - Most of the features (e.g. your strength, endurance, speed, and flexibility) are more malleable than the intellectual features.
    - The correlations are not as strong and in fact are often (as you mention) negative.

    Looking at an a factor is very population dependent. Athletes are very different from the general population. I think the latter can be pretty well captured by a “negative a factor” which is mostly obesity and lack of training. Athletes are much more interesting in this context. Do you know of any work which does factor analysis of a variety of athletic traits in athletes?

    why is g different?

    This. The comparison I like (in addition to athletic ability) is personality. This paper does an exploratory factor analysis: How Universal Is the Big Five? Testing the Five-Factor Model of Personality Variation Among Forager–Farmers in the Bolivian Amazon

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104167/

    and finds:

    Before factor rotation, the first factor explains 20.8% of the variance in the data, and the second factor explains only 5.2% of the variance. After factor rotation, this disparity is attenuated: The first factor explains 13.2% of the variance, the second explains 9.8%, and the third through fifth factors explain approximately 4.0% of the variance each.

    Compare those variances explained to that for g. Where the linked paper gets really interesting is their factors don’t really map into the Big Five:

    The rotated component matrix shows considerable cross-loading of items from the BFI, with no clear replication of any Big Five factor (see Table S1 of the supplemental materials).

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  49. res says:
    @utu

    You might want to notice that Ron’s “Assuming that’s the 70-75 percentile of the general population” is invalidated by “math GRE score was in 70-75 percentile only”.

    His quantitative GRE score sounds like it is in the ballpark of 730 with the old scoring: https://www.powerscore.com/gre/help/gre_conversion.cfm

    That is about 40 points better than the average for physical sciences and about 60 points better than engineers: https://www.humanitiesindicators.org/content/indicatorDoc.aspx?i=42

    As for the rest of your argument, we have discussed this before and I am still baffled by your apparent inability to understand how unusually large the variance explained by g is.

    P.S. Comments are closed on the iSteve post utu linked. Does anyone know what is up with that? I think that is the only time I have seen Steve close his comments.

    • Replies: @utu
  50. The argument was good and final and never was refuted. Any covariance matrix (also made of metrics in athletics) will yield eigenvector of which one that is associated with the greatest eigenvalue could be called g. This is because a covariance matrix is positive-definitive matrix. That’s why g is inevitable.

    If g is inevitable, why wasn’t a similar factor found in athletics?

    The answer is there doesn’t have to be a positive correlation between factors.

    You’ve mazed your brain with statistical arguments which just don’t hold up to the empirical facts because, like Shazili, you don’t want to familiarize yourself with them.

    The other problems are that g is not unique and not sufficient. It is not unique in general sense because different batteries of tests will yield different g’s that won’t be mutually parallel and will have different values. [My emphasis in bold.]

    You’re making the perfect the enemy of the best we can do with what we currently know. I bet the values are close and good enough for any real-world comparison.

    The Flynn effect is a good example of it because it affects more the spatio-visual tests than verbal tests. Thus the vector g in Holland 40 years ago was rotated to its current position. So g in Holland 40 years ago and now are two different vectors; different by more than their absolute magnitudes. This means that g itself is insufficient to describe intelligence or performance of all tests in the battery and one needs to use at least two mutually orthogonal components, say, g and s. This goes against the dogma of Spearman that was reinforced by Jensen. One reason why Spearman limited himself to one g is because he lacked mathematical methods to do efficient matrix decomposition to obtain remaining eigenvectors. However the chief reason for insistence on a single g was the fetish of 19 century reductionism in combination with the physics envy.

    What is the empirical barrier this creates for g? What barrier does it create, for example, for scientists studying g under a Jensenian definition that prevents them from understanding about the Holland of today compared to the Holland of forty years ago? Did the way g changed make the Dutch seem stupid forty years ago? Super-smart?

    At least when Ron Unz talks about something like the history of Irish IQ, he directly shows how psychometrics might lead to the wrong conclusion. His sin is making the exception the rule. Your sin is worse. You kick up dust with a lot of statistical handwaving.

    It seems that you do not know much about it and do not understand the structure of the theory of intelligence initiated by Spearman. You are just a believer. The believers need g.

    You come across as far more of a believer in your own statistical blarney than I do in g. Your zealous statistical tunnel-vision can’t divorce the working definition of g from the empirical studies that support it.

    We didn’t begin this discussion by talking about what was a perfect definition of intelligence or that g was unassailable in all its facets. We began it by discussing whether there was an “accepted, workable, useful, empirically-tested definition of intelligence” and there is. You disagreed. You, however, are wrong. Most psychologists who study intelligence agree about g.

    No one is interested in following you down your rabbit hole of statistical obscurantism when you can’t even keep straight the topic we’re talking about.

  51. @res

    Do you have a reference for Henry’s thinking on that?

    He mentioned it without elaboration in the comments’ section of West Hunter. I’ll see if I can find it.

    Looking at an a factor is very population dependent. Athletes are very different from the general population.

    I assumed he was talking about the population as a whole. And I have seen some evidence of this. When my high school basketball team stretched before practice, for example, the most flexible boy on the team was the trainer, who had almost no other discernible athletic skill.

  52. utu says:
    @res

    As for the rest of your argument, we have discussed this before and I am still baffled by your apparent inability to understand how unusually large the variance explained by g is.

    This is not a fundamental argument. For several hundred years after Copernicus his model could not match the accuracy of the Ptolemaic model. If we stay with with the Ptolemaic analogy you can see that the Flynn effect created a need for another epicycle. As I tried to explains above abandoning the dogma of singular g may solve some problems. The bottom line is that a single scalar parameter is insufficient. This renders the theology of g false/superfluous. But I understand the anthropological need for a fetish in any belief system. g like any fetish has no practical function except for unification of beliefs within a group whose majority of members are not smart and not savvy enough to understand the real essence of the group belief system which, btw, is not g. g does not explain anything and it does not improve anything. It happens to be there because it is mathematically inevitable. Yet it is neither unique nor sufficient.

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