Rindermann, Heiner, David Becker, and Thomas R. Coyle. 2020. “Survey of Expert Opinion on Intelligence: Intelligence Research, Experts’ Background, Controversial Issues, and the Media.” Intelligence 78 (January): 101406.
Experts (N max = 102 answering) on intelligence completed a survey about IQ research, controversies, and the media. The survey was conducted in 2013 and 2014 using the Internet-based Expert Questionnaire on Cognitive Ability (EQCA). In the current study, we examined the background of the experts (e.g., nationality, gender, religion, and political orientation) and their positions on intelligence research, controversial issues, and the media. Most experts were male (83%) and from Western countries (90%). Political affiliations ranged from the left (liberal, 54%) to the right (conservative, 24%), with more extreme responses within the left-liberal spectrum. Experts rated the media and public debates as far below adequate. Experts with a left (liberal, progressive) political orientation were more likely to have positive views of the media (around r= |.30|). In contrast, compared to female and left (liberal) experts, male and right (conservative) experts were more likely to endorse the validity of IQ testing (correlations with gender, politics: r= .55, .41), the g factor theory of intelligence (r= .18, .34), and the impact of genes on US Black-White differences (r= .50, .48). The paper compares the results to those of prior expert surveys and discusses the role of experts’ backgrounds, with a focus on political orientation and gender. An underrepresentation of viewpoints associated with experts’ background characteristics (i.e., political views, gender) may distort research findings and should be addressed in higher education policy.
The two primary HBD bloggers on this website have already commented on this paper:
- James Thompson: Experts, Intelligence, Race
- Steve Sailer: My Blog Is Voted Most Accurate Media Outlet on Intelligence Research by Experts on Cognitive Ability; “ISteve” Crushes “New York Times” for Trustworthiness
… so I am not going to do a comprehensive writeup on it.
Incidentally, the results were presented as a lecture at the 2017 London Conference on Intelligence – including a much more pleasing visualization of experts’ opinions on the best media sources on intelligence.
With the addition of James Thompson, it’s safe to say that The Unz Review is the world’s leading media source on this subject.
Only two media outlets received positive ratings, the blogs of Steve Sailer (M=7.38, N=26 ratings) and Anatoly Karlin (6.10, N=10 ratings). Unfortunately, the survey did not consider James Thompson’s blog Psychological Comments, which was just beginning when the survey was administered. All three blogs are currently hosted by The Unz Review. Among traditional publications (newspapers, radio, television), only the German newspaper Die Zeit received a positive rating (M=5.10, N=20 ratings).
The survey was carried out in 2013-14, and since then, quite a number of other HBD/IQ bloggers have gained prominence.
- James Thompson (obviously)
- The paper also mentions Lee Jussim (Rabble Rouser), Peter Frost (Evo and Proud), Jonathan Wai (Finding the Next Einstein), sa well as Roberto Colom in Spanish and Ronald Hens in German.
- Inexplicably, they left out Emil Kirkegaard’s blog, which is probably the joint-first intelligence blog in existence right now along with James Thompson’s.
That said, most of the really interesting conversations – as in many other spheres – are now unfortunately occuring on Twitter.
In the rest of this post, I’ll just highlight and briefly comment on some findings that I found interesting and important.
* 83% of respondents were men and 17% were women (n=72).
(For comparison, 30% of ISIR members are female, the organization specifically dedicated to intelligence research; and they make up a solid majority of psychologists).
* Most of them are from Western countries. National breakdown:
Notably, there is a near complete lack of an East Asian presence; Korea doesn’t even have a single respondent. Coffee Salon Demographics strikes again!
There were slightly more leftists:
Slightly more liberal/left positions were observed for open immigration policies(yes, M=4.78), social democratic policies (yes, M=4.54), and marriage rights for homosexuals (yes, M=2.20). The position on marriage rights was the most striking (86% endorsed same rights for homosexual couples) and showed the lowest variability of all items.The experts showed a fairly centrist position on economic liberties (yes, M=4.90). A more conservative/right perspective rejected the views that western economies contributed to third world poverty (no, M=5.16) and that affirmative action was needed in hiring to ensure representation of immigrants (no, M=6.69) and minorities (no, M=6.99).
So, basically, liberal racists. 😉
On the B/W gap question, the split was basically 50/50 (49% genetic, 51% environmental), though there were 2.5x as many “extreme leftists” (100% environment) as “extreme rightists” (100% genetics).*
(FWIW, my own assessment is that it is ~90%+ genetic. As a modern state, the US gives its population largely equal educational and nutritional opportunities. Moreover, the urbanization rate of Blacks is significantly higher than for whites, and cities are more cognitively stimulating. It is consequently entirely plausible that truly equal environmental conditions in that respect would lead to a widening, not a narrowing, of the B/W gap in the US. Conversely, where the B/W gap truly is ~50% genetic/environmental is with respect to Sub-Saharan Africans (IQ=~70) vs. whites in First World countries (IQ=~100). The 85 IQ demonstrated by African-Americans reflects the direct environmental/Flynn benefits of living in a First World country, whose internal socioeconomic divisions pale into insignificance relative to the differential between Black Africa and the First World.)
Women were significantly more “progressive” than men:
- Genetics role in B/W Gap: Men – 61%; women – 23%
- Endorsed the g factor: 81% of men, 64% of women
- IQ testing for immigration: 60% of men support, while 92% of women oppose
Patterns were less clear between nationalities, though small sample sizes play a role now (though it is remarked that the German experts tended to have a “conservative-burgher” or “right” perspective).
Experts with PhDs differed only slightly from experts without PhDs.
* On the g factor (which was widely endorsed): “It should be noted that a specific abilities view is “progressive” and “left” only in the current political climate. It has also been endorsed by National Socialist scientists (e.g. Friedrich Becker 1938…).”
* Both leftists (58%) and rightists (93%) endorsed the g factor. In contrast, leftists (67%) opposed IQ testing in immigration, whereas rightists (80%) recommended it.
* There is remarkable viewpoint diversity in intelligence research relative to psychology at large:
According to Duarte et al. (2015, their Fig. 1), the leftward tilt in psychology emerged over the last three decades, leading to a 14:1 ratio of left (progressive, democratic) to right (conservative, republican) psychology faculty. More recent data show an even larger disparity (16.8:1, Langbert, 2018). The leftward drift is reinforced by a liberal bias among journalists (e.g., Groseclose & Milyo, 2005; Kuypers, 2002; Lichter, Rothman, & Lichter, 1986) and in Wikipedia (e.g., Greenstein & Zhu, 2012, 2018). In addition, there have been increasing disruptions and attacks against scientists with a perceived right orientation at university talks (e.g., Duarte et al., 2015; HXA Executive Team et al., 2018; Inbar & Lammers, 2012; Jussim, 2018). Student groups have interrupted lectures, courses, and invited talks, and in some cases violently attacked scientists and scholars with a perceived right orientation (e.g., Charles Murray; Arm, 2016; Beinart, 2017). Finally, these events parallel a growing political divide between progressive and conservative factions in the US and other countries (Pew Research Center, 2017, p. 7f.). In the Pew survey, the gap between Democrats and Republicans in the US grew (in 10 political domains) from an average of 14.9% in 1994 to 35.8% in 2017, an increase of 20.9%. 20.8% of this increase (or 99.5% of the growth) was due to a shift to the left by Democrats, whereas 0.1% was due to a shift to the right by Republicans.
The authors suggest that the more balanced political profile of intelligence research may have helped the field largely avoid the replication crisis wracking the rest of psychology.
* On the politics of intelligence research:
Experts thought that speaking about intelligence (M=5.24), genes (M=5.67), and the relationship between them (M=5.17; always N=75 ratings) became easier in the past few years (1 difficult, 9 easier).
This is rather ironic, since 2013-14 marked a local trough in persecutions of intelligence researchers, which would soar to unprecedented heights in the following five years (see my writeup of Carl Noah’s and Michael Woodley’s paper).
* Censorship: 5% endorsed restrictions on science (“Yes, the results could be misused”); 41% rejected restrictions, with caveats (“No, but there must be an intensive education of society, how to deal with it”); and 54% favored full academic freedom (“No, freedom of research should not be restricted”).
* 85% of respondents had a background in psychology; all identified as scientists, not journalists; 87% held PhDs. They had higher than average academic accomplishments.
* While there were different opinions on the highest quality, most innovative, and most significant intelligence researchers, there was one guy who made the bottom of all the lists: Stephen J. Gould.
* Was the survey good quality? “Although the EQCA sample was relatively small, our recruitment criteria (e.g., publications on intelligence) most likely excluded people with only tangential knowledge of the subject matter, which can distort answers.“