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 references I needed to give in reply. I thought that if I attempted to list them all out it would swamp the text, hence my suggestion that people should use the search bar on my blog to pick up matters of interest, particularly the researchers I had named in my blog. Some people had difficulty with using a search bar or simply did not want to do so, and felt that the lack of specific references was suspicious, so here are some suggested starting points for the process of fact checking.
Brief guide to references
Doug Detterman founded the journal Intelligence and edited it for years, and has seen the field at close quarter for 5 decades. His overview is amusing and instructive. He did an updating of Jensen’s summary of the many relationships intelligence test have with real life achievements. To get even further detail you would have to do further reading, but you already realized that.
Here is another short cut: https://www.unz.com/jthompson/intelligence-all-that-matters-stuart/
Stuart Ritchie is an extremely active younger researcher, who gives an excellent account of more recent findings, and pays attention to those who think it fashionable to decry intelligence testing.
Another short cut: https://www.unz.com/jthompson/intelligence-in-2000-words
This is my summary of a review paper written by Ian Deary, the leading researcher on intelligence. You could also just put “Deary” in the search bar and look at the selection of his many papers that I have commented on.
To orient yourself as to what intelligence means in everyday life, here is a summary I wrote some years ago. There is more detail to add to bring it up to date, but it serves to show the differences in ability which are often not visible because people tend to associate mostly with those at their occupational and intellectual level.
For research on occupational selection
For research on the achievements of very high ability people
For research on brain and intelligence
For a counter-intuitive finding about high and low intelligence brains
For a broader look at the field, here is a recent textbook on intelligence, covering the most quoted authors in the field:
The journal “Intelligence” is the main publication for intelligence research.
ISIR runs the international society and its conferences.
Two classic texts which cover many issues raised in comments, about bias and the nature of intelligence
Jensen. Bias in mental testing. 1980
Jensen: The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability 1998
Some general points
It is no disproof of a correlation that it is not unity. Of course, there will be bright people who don’t achieve much, and less bright people who do very well. This has been known for a long time, perhaps at least two thousand years. The race is not always to the swift. Jensen explained that the range of intelligence was broadest at the lowest levels. Some bright people, for whatever reason, like simpler jobs. As jobs get harder the range begins to narrow as the lower intelligence levels drop out, finding the demands too high. More demanding occupations require brighter people.
A measure can be important and predictive, and the best available, without being perfect. If you can think of a better one than general intelligence, propose it. That old standby, social class of origin, has been superseded. It accounts for less variance than intelligence measured at 11.
Other proposed measures of intelligence are no better than the familiar general intelligence measure.
In summary, the next move should be from those who have something better to suggest, something which predicts human achievements better than general intelligence.
That new something should be better than just guessing.