The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Superior: the return of race science. Angela Saini. 4th Estate. London. 2019. Excitedly promoted in national newspapers, glowingly reviewed in Sunday magazines, the author interviewed on national radio, this book is part of a mainstream narrative which promotes the ascendant public stance, which is that race does not exist as a useful category, and that... Read More
You can detect a lot about a person using simple tasks which take less than 2 minutes. Here is a test which did the job in 90 seconds, but then got lengthened to 120 seconds to make it even more reliable. Of this test, one of those Edinburgh researchers said to me in a conference... Read More
The Great Retrodiction: English speakers only
Science marches on. A researcher writes in to chide me that I have forgotten the fastest intelligence test of all, which masquerades as a simple reading test, but which can reach back 50 years, and in 90 seconds deliver a precise verdict on the best level of ability you had in your prime. Indeed, I... Read More
How much could you learn about a person in two minutes, just getting them to answer written questions? I suppose you could ask them their favourite colour or song, or quiz them about their other preferences, occupations, and sundry other demographic matters. Getting them to reveal marital status, religion, politics, earnings and savings might be... Read More
I am in favour of schools in principle, with some reservations about what schooling can achieve. Schools cannot compensate for individual differences. From time to time, children have to be excluded from school because their behaviour makes it very difficult to teach other children. Under the current rules, a pattern of disruption has to be... Read More
Replies to a reviewer and to blog commentators
Before posting up Piffer’s paper, I sent it to a reviewer, someone who works in intelligence research. I explained that many geneticists were dismissive about Piffer’s work on group intelligence, and asked for a critical opinion. Here is that opinion, and Piffer’s replies. Piffer also includes responses to the main themes which came out of... Read More
Predicting group intelligence averages by polygenic risk scores alone.
The figure shows standardized polygenic scores by population for Education GWAS, in descending order (1000 Genomes Populations, EA MTAG, N= 3,257 SNPs). One function of a blog is to let people shoot down ideas. Conjectures have a short half-life. Refutations always snap at their heels. David Becker, whose latest version of country IQs received trenchant... Read More
Becker update V1.3.2
David Becker has released a new version of the World’s IQ. Each country has a score showing the cognitive abilities of their citizens, this being a blend of genetics and the environment of each country, particularly as regards education and health. The world’s global score is 82. This is 12th percentile rank on the Greenwich... Read More
Of course you’re bright, darling
Although I did not entirely ignore the subject. I should have paid more attention to people’s estimates of their own intelligence. Self-estimates are error prone, and may have negative consequences in real life, as well as making discussions about intelligence remarkable error-prone. Adrian Furnham did several papers on this topic, and Sophie Von Stumm made... Read More
I may be too trusting, but I generally accept upgrades. Several months ago, I willingly accepted an iPhone operating system upgrade, and lost all the Notes I had stored on my phone. These notes contained bank and credit card details, passport details, and other useful things which I have to consult from time to time,... Read More
Conventional wisdom is that it is too early to speculate why in the past six months two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have gone down shortly after take off, so if all that follows is wrong you will know it very quickly. Last night I predicted that the first withdrawals of the plane would happen... Read More
It is very unlikely that even if I continue my blog for decades, it will ever have the impact of Stephen Jay Gould’s (1981) “The mis-measure of Man”. It was a best seller, cited in the academic literature over 10,000 times, and even 445 times in 2017 alone. It continues to meet an audience need.... Read More
50 years on
Philanthropy is a fine thing. A good sum of money put in the right place can benefit many people. Commerce is also a fine thing. A small sum of money put in the right place can create goods and services which people want, which can lead to profit which leads to more money being available... Read More
Newspapers have very warmly received an international project which, in the author’s views, strongly suggests that healthy babies are all alike in their developmental milestones, at least as determined by a study of particular centres in different parts of the world. The study has the following general features: Find healthy pregnant women in several different... Read More
If the brightness of European Jews is primarily due to their culture, then we should all seek to be adopted by a Jewish mother. If, on the other hand, it is necessary to be actually born from Jewish parents, then any cultural tips we may get from them may be a bonus, but it is... Read More
Four years ago I claimed that it was more important to have educated parents than rich ones. Parents who are educated were very likely bright to begin with, and judged worth educating as much as possible. They may even have gained in ability by virtue of further education. Brighter parents usually earn more than less... Read More
I do not have a dog in the fight about dogs. My dad said that there was a dog in every boy’s life, and so we had some dogs when I was young, and then in my own life, no dogs. I was living a town life, and working, and had neither need nor wish... Read More
Some things are associated with others. Some things you eat make you ill. Some animals attack you. Some places are dangerous, some people likewise. On a brighter note, some foods are tasty and healthy. Some animals can be domesticated, or at least are easy to hunt or trap. Some places are safe, and some people... Read More
Thank you to all those who commented on the “Swanning About: Fooled by Algebra” blog and associated tweets. A number of themes came up, so here are individual responses I made to some comments, and also some general points. Since Taleb thought he could dismiss a century of psychometry, there are rather a lot of... Read More
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has tweeted a set of remarks about intelligence research. He has now gathered those together into one format, with links and explanations. There is no lack of confidence in his essay. There is much to discuss here, and what follows covers what I see as the main points. I have added some... Read More
The early months of 2018 were taken up with dealing with hostile press coverage of the London Conference on Intelligence, attacks which intended to prevent evidence-based discussion of group differences in intelligence, and sought to grossly misrepresent any discussion of genetic components in behaviour, lest new readers think for themselves. Stain the source: obscure the... Read More
In the great cultural war which surrounds race and intelligence, James Flynn is on the side of the angels. I know this because he told me so. Happily, I know him well enough to know he was joking: he was admitting that he was well aware that his mostly environmentalist perspective was far more acceptable... Read More
I think there is a rule in the application of science in medical settings: the first big step is taken by the person least suitable to take it. Consider, for example, the first heart transplant. It was carried out by a showman surgeon who jumped the gun and did the operation before the problem of... Read More
ggose: generalist genes of small effect
Robert Plomin. Blueprint. Allen Lane, London. 2018 Plomin has written the book that summarizes his career, the one that he previously avoided writing because of what he describes as his own cowardice. Harsh judgement, but investigators into the genetics of intelligence are given a rough ride in contemporary academia, where genetics generates a hostility not... Read More
"Scientific Racism" is an oxymoron. The truth cannot be racist, and lies cannot be science. If you say something truthful about a racial difference then that is true, not a lie, and not racism. If you say something about racial groups which is untrue, then that is not science, it is false, and science has... Read More
No conferring
A bit of back history: I started learning about intelligence and intelligence tests when I was an undergraduate in 1964-1968. This included taking group intelligence tests at the beginning of my psychology course, and giving face to face Wechsler tests in my final year. I then started my first research project leading to my PhD:... Read More
Disinviting is an awkward word for a disagreeable act: inviting someone, and then once they have accepted, withdrawing the invitation. Naturally, this is more hurtful than not being invited at all. I have not been invited to many things, and ignorance is bliss. To have been invited, and gone through the process of preparing for... Read More
After the furore, farrago and stramash of Prof Alessandro Strumia talking about sex differences, I went back to the BBC last night to read about other news. Of course, my eye was caught by a story entitled: The Women standing up for Science There were 3 interviews with women university researchers, apparently selected because they... Read More
The closest I have ever been to Big Physics was the Stanford Linear Accelerator, in the company of Prof Theodore Postol, who felt it would be a good antidote to my jet lag, as we discussed anti-ballistic missile defence strategy. Postol also went down the corridor to see if I could meet Amos Tversky, but... Read More
Linda Gottfredson, author of the most supported and cited statement on intelligence, and the researcher who has done most to explain what intelligence means in everyday life, in terms of specific tasks, training needs, and occupational choices and achievements (https://www1.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997whygmatters.pdf) has just been dis-invited from an occupational conference in Sweden where she had been invited... Read More
I want to explain, once again, my arguments on the question of weight, obesity, diet and dieting. I’d like to make some suggestions as well, if only to counter the impression some readers got that I did not realize how difficult many find it to change their diet, and also the impression that I would... Read More
Prof Zhang, Economist, Peking University says, regarding the results in his paper about the effects of pollution: We are also puzzled by the difference in math and verbal tests as well as the gender difference. Prof. Chew of National University of Singapore found similar results for college students, greater impact on male than on female... Read More
News has come in from China that air pollution has a large and cumulatively damaging effect on intelligence, particularly on older people with less education. Perplexingly, the effect is on Vocabulary, but not Maths. Even more specifically, the verbal decrement hits men harder than women. What is going on? How could bad air have such... Read More
I intended to tell you about this paper some days ago, but for some reason didn’t get around to it. It was not procrastination on my part. Nothing so energetic as that. Why is procrastination so prevalent? Why is it that I, of course not you, tend to postpone tasks, even on matters which are... Read More
You may remember my dictum: If you are fatter than you want to be, eat less. That post led to an outpouring of deeply lived personal experience, of almost French complexity, extolling the virtues of eating particular food types in particular combinations at particular times, and not paying too much attention to calories. Fine. If... Read More
You may wonder why I have stooped to the filthy practice of ripping off the gullible public. Although described as gullible, they are bright enough to know that there is advantage to being brighter, and are willing to pay for intelligence boosting techniques. Their gullibility, such as it is, is based on believing that most... Read More
It is usual to bemoan the way newspapers report science, but that criticism is amply justified when they make major errors. You may have heard of Carl Zimmer’s “She has her mother’s laugh: The Powers, Perversions and Potential of Heredity”, and probably read some reviews. Greg Cochran did one for Quillette. The book has now... Read More
Brain training, mindset, grit, deliberate practice and bilingualism.
I hesitate to suggest that my readers might ever have felt the need to improve their mental abilities by conducting specific mental exercises, but you may have a friend who wants to dabble in these practices, so this little note is for your friend. Overstating the Role of Environmental Factors in Success: A Cautionary Note... Read More
It is a great pleasure to see that a massive new study on intelligence has just been published, after years of work and also months of publication delays. Anything which can be done to speed up the publication of results is to be welcomed. Research has now moved to an international dimension, with disparate groups... Read More
If you or a family member, beset by a clinical or neurological problem, are given a face-to-face intelligence test, it is likely to be a Wechsler. It is considered the gold standard, and the Full Scale IQ result, the consequence of spending over an hour doing the 10 subtests, is like doing the decathlon: you... Read More
Edinburgh was rightly chosen for the ISIR conference this year, since it must now rank as the world leader in intelligence research. 120 delegates gathered in the grand surroundings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, bathed in the almost perpetual Northern sunlight of this noble city, to start at the beginning, which was 530 million... Read More
Publisher: Cambridge University Press Online publication date: January 2018 Print publication year: 2018 Online ISBN: 9781316817049 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... Read More
I have good memories of 1975. I got my first secure job, a Lectureship in Psychology at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, part of the University of London. It was a glorious summer, followed the next year by an even better and drier one, and I finally finished my PhD. Little did I realise that... Read More
Who? Whom? versus "What? When? Why? How?
The argument from authority is of questionable merit. Yes, some people know far more than others, but how does one establish that? Happily, there are publication and citation metrics available to help us, and a reasonable case can be made that experts exist. That does not preclude the possibility that they are all wrong. One... Read More
I have held off talking about the Press attacks on the London Conference earlier this year. Triggered by journalist and educationalist Toby Young’s appointment to a UK Governmental education committee, rival journalists fired off a salvo of accusations in a “guilt by association” spoiling operation. I was simply collateral damage, accused of keeping bad company... Read More
Newspaper reports are still discussing the story about the numbers of Africans admitted to Oxbridge, but I have not seen any giving the numbers of AAA students available, or any that mention intelligence. I doubt that Admissions Officers read my blog, or indeed that they would survive in post if they were ever caught doing... Read More
It is that time of year when Oxford and Cambridge universities are in the doghouse again, accused of being biased against black students. A politician, Mr David Lammy, has called for special measures to be taken to boost the numbers of Africans at those universities. Calls like this seem to be accepted at face value,... Read More
118 cm3
Pity the poor blogger’s lot: there are more interesting papers being published every week than any essayist, however diligent, can possibly cope with. And there will be more, as the vast genetic databases give up their secrets. No sooner does one team scoop the others with a savage novelty than their rivals counter-attack with their... Read More
The ISIR July 2017 meeting in Montreal seems a long time ago, and that feeling is entirely explicable by it being 10 months since I heard the lecture in question. I was chairing the session, which normally diminishes attention to the actual content, but this talk was the exception. It came up with a counter-intuitive... Read More
Mankind’s IQ is 84-88. Becker May 2018 update The London Conference on Intelligence began, as is now traditional, with an update on the project to produce a public database of the world’s IQ. It is hard to get academics to agree to anything, even when they are under bombardment, but this is one point of... Read More
James Thompson
About James Thompson

James Thompson has lectured in Psychology at the University of London all his working life. His first publication and conference presentation was a critique of Jensen’s 1969 paper, with Arthur Jensen in the audience. He also taught Arthur how to use an English public telephone. Many topics have taken up his attention since then, but mostly he comments on intelligence research.