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It is a measure of the quality of British life that one of its longest running TV programs is “University Challenge”, a quiz show for university students. Yes, it has always been a minority interest, but it is a showcase of talent, an astounding example of what bright young people can get to know in roughly 25 years.

My introduction to this phenomenon was at the University of Keele, which won the contest in 1968, the year of my graduation. I knew team member Pam Maddison (Groves), who studied Psychology in the year below me, and once chatted with me about the estimated number of objects in the universe, a concept I found mind-blowing. I think she added that she had checked her calculations with those of her boyfriend, and found them a reasonable match. It is good to meet bright people.

Unusually, University Challenge has stuck to the same format since inception in 1962, and that means that the long series of results is broadly comparable in the best sense of being an open competition following the same rules. Each contesting university achieves a score against a competitor, and at the final the winner beats the runner up, and their scores show the winning margin. In more detail, some contestants are better than others, and answer more questions, which gets them fan club status, like Eric Monkman (pictured above). Universities field their best candidates, having selected them in qualifying rounds, and then train up a small group before the chosen 4 go forward to compete. The winning team in each round is the one with the most correct answers and fewest incorrect interruptions. The subject matter is extremely broad, but the results of each competition are on ratio scales with true zeros and equal intervals.

Naturally, only the brighter people get to university, and presumably only the brighter of those get onto the university team. Many of the contestants have gone on to notable achievements in public life. The competition tests knowledge, plus the capacity to quickly judge from the question what answer is being looked for, and whether it is worth jumping in with the likely answer in order to obtain bonus points. In the psychometric jargon this is mostly about crystallized intelligence rather than fluid, on-the-spot problem-solving, intelligence, of the sort involved in mental calculations as showcased in another TV program, Countdown.

So, although University Challenge may not be the hardest test of raw intellectual power, it certainly demands very high ability. Adrian Furnham and colleagues found that IQ was the best predictor of general knowledge, but that Openness to Experience, a weak proxy for intelligence included in Five Factor personality assessments, made an additional contribution.

Cognitive ability, learning approaches and personality correlates of general knowledge
Adrian Furnham , Viren Swami , Adriane Arteche & Tomas Chamorro‐Premuzic Pages 427-437 | Received 05 Jul 2007, Accepted 03 Oct 2007, Published online: 20 May 2008

So, this is a showcase of talent, and it is great that it has built up a loyal following, and entered into British popular culture: “Fingers on buzzers” “Your starter for 10”. That is real fame, and I hope those phrases last. So, to use another phrase, though not from this TV program “What’s not to like?”

Michael Hogan, writing for “The Telegraph” (on the political Right) says:

Gender balance needs to be tackled next series

The all-male line-up for this final has sparked a sexism debate over the past week. The statistics are indeed pretty damning. One-third of this year’s teams had no women, only 22 per cent of the contestants this series were female and just five per cent of finalists over the last five years have been women. Equality quotas are a tricky topic but perhaps the team selection process within universities needs to be looked at and guidelines issued. Eight males on-screen in this showcase final – 10 if you include Paxman and Hawking – simply just doesn’t send out the right message.

Eve Livingston writing for “The Guardian” (on the political Left) says:

The year is 2017 and at 8pm on Monday 10 April, televisions across the country switch on to the BBC: four men from Oxford face four men from Cambridge in a combative race to prove their superior intelligence. Verbose questions and bellowed answers are punctuated only by sneering quips from a white male Cambridge alumnus. No, it’s not a parliamentary debate, but the final of University Challenge, a stalwart of middle-class British culture since the early 1960s.
The all-male contest ended a series in which just 22% of competitors were women, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by viewers and campaigners alike.
University Challenge is, of course, hardly at the pinnacle of gender inequality issues facing women every day. And the show’s problems with representation don’t stop at gender – notably the under-representation of black students and the elitism inherent in questions about classical composers, Greek mythology and Renaissance literature, which see various iterations of Oxbridge colleges dominate year on year.
a conversation about representation is worthwhile. The BBC has previously said that institutions are responsible for selecting their own teams, effectively laying responsibility at the door of universities (and some do voluntarily put in place quotas), but there is nothing to stop the broadcaster from issuing guidelines or conditions for entry. In the meantime, an acknowledgement of the problem from both parties and a meaningful commitment to tackling it would be a good starter for 10.

It would appear we have a consensus that something has gone wrong, and both ends of the political spectrum are asking for quotas. I have not checked these figures, but the final winning teams since inception number 184 contestants, of whom only 16 were women, so their representation is roughly 9%.

I am not writing for a national newspaper, but I take a more measured approach than to ask for quotas. What do we know about general knowledge and sex differences outside this particular TV format?

Sex differences in general knowledge, semantic memory and reasoning ability
Richard Lynn and Paul Irwing, British Journal of Psychology (2002), 93, 545–556.

This paper has the three objectives of attempting to replicate a previous study in which it was found that males have substantially greater general knowledge in most fields or domains than females, and of determining how far sex differences in general knowledge are a function of differences in either Gf (fluid intelligence), or experience. The results confirmed the previous study to the effect that males have higher means in a general knowledge factor of approximately .50d (half a standard deviation). It was found further that there was no significant sex difference in Gf measured by Baddeley’s Grammatical Reasoning Test, and only a low correlation between general knowledge and Gf. Analysis of covariance showed that differential experience as indicated by ‘A’-level points and socio-economic status had only a marginal impact on the observed sex difference. The results are interpreted as showing that sex differences in general knowledge cannot be explained as a function of differences in either Gf or experience. It is proposed further that general knowledge should be regarded as a new second-order factor and designated as semantic memory.

Lynn and Irwing argue that men have always been better at the Information (general knowledge) subtest of the Wechsler test, an important finding because the of the care taken over the representativeness of the standardization sample. Furthermore, boys are better at girls on wider general knowledge in 26 European countries. How general is general knowledge? The authors search for the underlying domains, in order to be sure that their knowledge test is not sex-biased.

They say:

In the work of the present authors, tests were constructed of 19 domains of general knowledge and factored to produce six first-order factors. These consisted of Physical Health and Recreation (games, biology and sport); Current Affairs (politics, history, geography, exploration, finance); Family (cookery and medicine); Science (general science and history of science); Fashion (clothes fashion, film, pop music); and Arts (classical music, visual art, jazz and literature). These first-order factors yielded a general factor. The sex differences were that males significantly outperformed females on all the domains of the Physical Health and Recreation factor (biology, games and sport); on all the domains of the Current Affairs factor (politics, finance, history, exploration, geography); and on all the domains of the Science factor (general science, history of science). Females significantly outperformed males on both domains of the Family factor (medicine and cookery). There were no statistically significant differences on the domains of the Fashion factor (clothes fashion, popular music, film). On the Arts factor, males significantly outperformed females on the domains of literature and jazz, while there were no statistically significant differences on visual art or classical music. As in the Ackerman studies, males outperformed females on the majority of the tests. The sex difference on the entire battery of tests was .51 d favouring males. This difference is even greater than the differences normally found on the Weschler standardization samples. It is so large that it requires replication and this is the first objective of the study reported here.

Their sample is sizeable, and seems representative:

The sample comprised 1047 undergraduate students (594 women and 453 men) from the Faculties of Science; Informatics; Engineering, Arts; and Health, Social Sciences and Education, at the University of Ulster, who ranged in age from 17 to 48 years (M= 20.5, SD = 3.3). The sex composition of the sample was representative of the student body.
While there was a significant male advantage with respect to total ‘A’-level points attained (female mean = 14.7, male mean = 16.9, t (721) = 4.7, p< .001), men and women did not differ significantly with respect to age (female mean = 20.4, male mean = 20.6, t (1037) = 0.88, p> .05), scores on Baddeley’s Grammatical Reasoning Test (female mean = 30.7, male mean = 29.7, t (1046) = 1.2, p> .05) or socio-economic status as indicated by father’s education (x2(3) = 0.9, p> .05) and occupation (x2(2) = 1.6, p > .05; see Table 1). As indicated by these data, the University of Ulster recruits a very high proportion of its students from groups of lower socio-economic status compared with most UK universities.

Discussing their results, they say:

It was found that the male advantage on the general factor of general knowledge is .48 d and is virtually identical to our previous result. The present study used a shorter form of the general knowledge test than that used in our previous study. When the sample used in the previous study is scored for the shorter form of the test, the sex difference is .46d. This again is virtually identical to the difference of .48 d obtained on the same shorter form of the test in the present study. Our results are also similar to those obtained in the USA by Bowenet al. (2000). Our first conclusion is therefore that the magnitude of the sex difference on the general factor of general knowledge of approximately .50 d is a robust and replicable result.

They make further points about general knowledge and how it fits in the hierarchy of abilities, showing that fluid intelligence measures are only weakly correlated with it, but the main point is that the observed male advantage in University Challenge is not an artefact of selection for a TV program, but an established aspect of sex differences in knowledge. Since men are better at general knowledge, and are usually more variable in ability (larger standard deviations) than women it would make sense that there would be fewer women selected for local university team membership, and progressively far fewer in winning teams. As you push out towards higher levels of general knowledge there are about 10 very knowledgeable men for every equally knowledgeable woman.

This possibility either does not occur to journalists because they do not know the basic facts, or is suspected but has been dismissed by them as something not to be expressed in mixed company.

Disclaimer: I would not have been able to get onto the University of Keele team in any year. The best I have ever done while watching the program is 8 answers correct. That was without counting mistaken interruptions.

• Category: Science • Tags: Intelligence, IQ 
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  1. It would appear we have a consensus that something has gone wrong, and both ends of the political spectrum are asking for quotas.

    If they want more women (or blacks or whatever), the only fair way to do it would be a quota. “Every team must have at least one [blank].” That’s how they’ve forced teams to include women in the softball league my company plays in–you have to have two women playing in each game or you forfeit the game. It accomplishes absolutely nothing meaningful, but at least all teams are equally burdened.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
    , @markflag
    , @Pericles
  2. Thank you for sharing this!
    Do you think you could find some time to have a look at:
    I understand that games/test are about the questions in the end, and one either knows the answer or not, but I’d be interested to hear your comments on this paper.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  3. @RegularReader

    At a brief glance of the abstract, that paper looks very good. Item sampling is clearly important. Lynn and Irwing get into that issue, and I think treat it with care. The deeper question is whether the general knowledge one tests is of sufficient breadth to be a fair representation of general knowledge. This is hard to prove, but looking at many general knowledge tests is one approach. The other would be to look at which subjects were discussed in a broad range of newspapers, magazines, websites etc. It is no good saying that if you pick a particular domain there is a male or female advantage. You have to have some metric to show that the domain in question constitutes part of general cultural knowledge, and is weighted accordingly. If an author argues that there are boy’s subjects and girl’s subjects, then that is the strongest possible proof of sex differences. I think one should weight domains according to their representation in the national culture.

    • Replies: @AnonymousUkr
  4. Dan Hayes says:

    Dr. Thompson:

    You state that one paper is on the political right while the other is on the political left. Actually what these reporter’s statements show is that the centroid of political discussion is now markedly left of center.

    • Agree: MBlanc46, reiner Tor
  5. HBD Guy says:

    Hi Everyone: I have never taken an IQ test, but do well on the brain training exercises on this website. If you have time, check it out and let me know what you think….

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  6. songbird says:

    According to former champ Ken Jennings, the US TV quizshow “Jeopardy!” has a pre-tape, trial contestant base that skews heavily male, but on which the producers employ heavy affirmative action. That is not to say the people chosen aren’t very smart, they are just not representative.

    TV quiz shows are an interesting moral dilemma. Personally, I’m usually pretty sharply against affirmative action. But I understand audience size matters, and, furthermore, I think a lot of men like to watch women, if they are young and telegenic. But, then again, “Jeopardy!” is a heavily watered-down, cross-promotion vehicle nowadays and generally not very compelling on the merit of its quiz material. I’ve never seen “University Challenge.”

    • Replies: @res
    , @guest
  7. res says:

    I’ve only seen a little of shows like “University Challenge”, but there seems to be a major difference between that genre and “Jeopardy.” Namely that Jeopardy is individuals chosen by the show staff while University Challenge is teams picked by the individual universities. Article about University Challenge team selection:
    Wikipedia about Jeopardy audition:!_audition_process

    Presumably the individual universities want to win which makes unilateral affirmative action harder. I thought I saw old episodes of “College Bowl” which were teams of two men and two women. That seems like a sensible way of doing things. Of course, if performance differences do exist that would make them more obvious.

    Some more background:
    Notice the variant for HBCUs.

    • Replies: @Father O'Hara
  8. dearieme says:

    The Oxford and Cambridge teams have two advantages.

    (i) They have a much higher proportion of very clever students.

    (ii) They compete as individual colleges not as whole universities. It is far easier to find your four best quizzers among some hundreds of students than among many thousands. It is likelier that students will choose to take part in the selection process in a small college than in a large university: esprit de corps and all that.

    P.S. We often watch. We found the semi-finals questions rather tough: each time the eight students beat the two of us. But we triumphed in the final. Just think how well we’d have done if we were in our twenties again.

    • Replies: @res
  9. Shall we form a team for next year, and find a method to test ourselves? Perhaps tape-recording our shouted comments will suffice.

    • Replies: @jim jones
    , @dearieme
  10. @HBD Guy

    I did this tests three years ago, in the begining i was very bad because as i’m VERY impulsive sometimes i don’t read correctly what every test was asking. So when i finally understand it i started to go according to my self-estimates.

    I created three surname to compare the results.

    My scores varies considerably in ”short memory” but i have impression i’m bad at it.

    I was regular in ”reasoning” scoring around top 20%.

    I was quite bad in ”verbal”, but i think language was a barrier.

    In this test below i was regular around top 11 — top 14%

    Seems a raven test.

    • Replies: @HBD Guy
  11. jim jones says:
    @James Thompson

    Steve could select the most intelligent commentators and they could appear on University Challenge via Skype.

  12. Ah, the Wisdom of Chosen Commentators! Imagine attempting to captain that collective.

  13. dearieme says:
    @James Thompson

    I’m up for it if you can return us to our twenties.

  14. hyperbola says:

    I always found Oxford and Cambridge rather boring and provincial. Not much breadth of experience or knowledge on a world scale – simply “depth” within very narrow self-imposed limits. What is associated with Oxbridge is rather pedantic and irritating pseudo-superiority. I always remember sitting at a “high table” with the “inhabitant” of Robert Hook´s ex-lodgings to my left – and to my right – with a desperate need of both neighbors to convince me of the inherent superiority of their claim/worth. Perhaps “University Challenge” is really testing the conditioning of its participants to the “accepted” social norm?

    • Replies: @22pp22
    , @Wizard of Oz
  15. In the 1960s there used to be a television program called the GE College Bowl on American television that appeared to use the format of the British competition. I don’t recall seeing any women competing, or at least the participants skewed very heavily male. Don’t recall any minorities, either, come to think of it. I wonder if GE College Bowl participants could be a “pre-racial preferences” baseline for certain types of male cognitive dominance.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
    , @res
  16. HBD Guy says:

    It is a kind of Ravens test. It is nice because the computer changes the questions each time you take the test. That way you don’t repeat the same test over and over again. That way you don’t memorize the test.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  17. res says:

    (ii) They compete as individual colleges not as whole universities. It is far easier to find your four best quizzers among some hundreds of students than among many thousands. It is likelier that students will choose to take part in the selection process in a small college than in a large university: esprit de corps and all that.

    Good observations. I think it is worth adding that the second sentence is even more true for finding the best team (e.g. different knowledge bases offering the best total coverage) than it is for the finding the four best individuals.

    Since you watch often, could you offer any thoughts on the relative importance of knowledge base and overall intelligence?

    • Replies: @dearieme
  18. @Diversity Heretic

    In fact, College Bowl was the inspiration for University Challenge. As you say, it could provide a baseline measure of the demographics of quiz contestants as compared with the demographics of US society at that time. Research project?

  19. res says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    The programs are related (see my links above). US colleges skewed male in the 1960s for social reasons so I’m not sure number of participants would be a good metric. Perhaps look at proportion of questions answered by the different sexes normalized by number of participants? A fun story somewhat relevant to this:

    I wish I could remember more about a distinct (but old) memory I have of seeing coed College Bowl teams. It was a video years after the fact so perhaps the clip was chosen selectively. It was also long enough ago I may just be misremembering.

  20. @HBD Guy

    In Hampshire tree task i was very well…

    Yes, it’s very good to practice and to compare.

    Are you already have a self-estimative of your [size] intelligence*

    • Replies: @HBD Guy
  21. 22pp22 says:

    You’re showing off that you wnet to Oxbridge.

    • Replies: @hyperbola
  22. martin2 says:

    Its obvious that men are better at general knowledge than women. One might unkindly say that men are often repositories of useless information. Aren’t men more likely to have Aspbergers syndrome, and isn’t one of the signs knowing lots of dry facts? For instance, to my ex-wife, a model dinosaur is just a dinosaur, but to my son and I it is either styracosaurus or tricerotops or pachycepholosaurus or lambeosaurus or… and getting the name right matters a great deal. (And he is in his thirties.)

  23. I play along every Monday … University Challenge makes Jeopardy look like Romper Room.

    As for gender equality, even if they don’t make the finals, you nevertheless get quite a few good female candidates, to wit

    And even the special edition shows, like that at Christmastime, give interesting results:

  24. dearieme says:

    “for finding the best team”: agreed.

    “knowledge base and overall intelligence”: about the only observation of which I’m reasonably certain is that some contestants are remarkably poor at intelligent deduction/guessing of the answers. I suspect that often correlates with being among the least well informed but I’m not certain of that.

    But who knows about the effects of stress on them? When I was young, exam stress just made me perform better. Some stress at work also got the best out of me (but not the sort of stress you get from having a boss who’s an arsehole). I even enjoyed courtroom cut and thrust as an expert witness.

    But my last middle-aged TV appearance, contrary to earlier experience, had me somehow anxious enough that I found it hard to smile. And they do like you to smile.

  25. HBD Guy says:

    No…I don’t have any estimate of my IQ….

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  26. @HBD Guy

    Why not* What’s your age*

  27. hyperbola says:

    Perhaps I wasn’t explicit enough. I avoid Oxbridge because I find it irritating and much of it seems to be what Australians would call “wanking”.

  28. FKA Max says:
    @Clark Westwood

    Human beings don’t come much cleverer or more inspiring than Professor Stephen Hawking. So it was a classy touch to leave the studio for only the second time in the show’s 55-year history and go over to Cambridge’s Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. The world’s foremost scientist paid warm, witty tribute to Balliol team, saying: “It’s not clear whether intelligence has any long-term survival value
    bacteria manage to flourish without it – but it is one of the most admirable qualities, especially when displayed by such young minds.” A lovely moment for the Balliol quartet, who duly celebrated with schooners of sherry and endearingly awkward bonding.
    Being smart is not always a good thing in the evolutionary race, suggests a new study by Swiss researchers
    When Frederic Mery and colleagues at the University of Fribourg, pitted fast-learning fruit fly larvae against their more dimwitted cousins in scarce food conditions – the slower fruit flies came out on top.
    If intelligence were always a positive attribute, it would always be selected for by natural selection. But it is not – people and animals have their dolts as well as their Einsteins.
    “This shows that just having a better ability to learn involves a cost, even when you aren’t using it,” Mery told New Scientist.
    With each increase of 15 IQ points, a woman’s urge to reproduce is diminished by 25%.

    The average IQ of women who want children is 5.6 points lower than those who don’t want them.

    Among all 45-year-old women in England, 20% are childless, but this figure rises to 43% among those with college degrees.
    My apologies for not having been more precise in my above comment. I should have written, that individually high IQ persons will manage just fine on their own, and probably will live pretty long, productive, and semi- to completely-fulfilling lives, but collectively they are an endangered species, due to their reproductive behavior/inactivity, and therefore worthy of protection, (financial, etc.) nurturing/aid, and other sorts of positive encouragement and reinforcement in general. As some other commenters and I said and noticed, the true potential of this community has not even remotely been tapped into thus far. Doing so serves in the self-interest of humanity as a whole. Paradoxically, I guess, it technically is not self-interest to protect and nurture the high IQ community …

    Maybe there is some hope though for America… or these positive trends might just be the result of credential/degree inflation?

    Childlessness Up Among All Women; Down Among Women with Advanced Degrees

    Since the 1990s, rates of childlessness have risen most sharply for the least educated women. The most dramatic change has occurred among women with less than a high school diploma, whose likelihood of bearing no children rose 66% from 1994 to 2008. Rates rose less steeply over the same time period among high school graduates and women with some college but not a degree.

    Among women ages 40-44 with a bachelor’s degree, there has been essentially no change in the likelihood of being childless. But rates have declined among women with advanced degrees — by 17% for those with master’s degrees and 32% for those with doctorates or professional degrees. Women with advanced degrees were more likely in 1994 to be childless than were women with bachelor’s degrees — 34% of women with doctorates or professional degrees were childless, as were 30% of those with master’s degrees and 23% of those with bachelor’s degrees. The decline in childlessness for the most educated women from 1994 to 2008 erased that gap.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  29. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max

    We are having a very productive discussion in the other comment thread, which is also relevant to this discussion, so I would like to share parts of it here:


    I wonder though. Why has higher intelligence not disappeared then?

    It is still being selected for, but the how exactly is important and difficult to figure out. This is just speculation on my part so far, but I suspect and my research has led me to believe, that with greater emancipation of women selection for intelligence rather than aggressiveness, etc. actually increases. This could be another explanation for the Flynn Effect; greater emancipation and protection of women, which enables them to select their mates by traits they prefer and like, like intelligence and agreeableness rather than aggressiveness and violence/anti-social behavior. So the less chauvinistic/“macho” a race or culture is the more likely it is to select for intelligence and low(er) testosterone, i.e., lower aggressiveness, and against the “warrior gene,” i.e., psychopathy.

    Women like men to make them laugh for example; I think this has an evolutionary reason, because it is an easy way for women to test/detect intelligence, and also it is beneficial for one’s health and well-being if one is less often stressed/afraid and more happy, which is not the case if one is married to a violent psychopath for example, whom one cannot divorce, etc. Watch the video of Christopher Hitchens in my linked comment; he, rightly in my opinion, states that women are on average not as funny/intelligent as men, but that does not mean that they don’t have a sense of humor, i.e., they can, maybe even better than men, recognize and appreciate humor/intelligence/eccentricity:

    with the historic English predilection for young lovers selecting their own mates (e.g., in the 1590s, Shakespeare didn’t have any doubt whom his paying customers would sympathize with when he put on Romeo and Juliet) perhaps leading to the famous English appreciation for individualism and eccentricity.

    The English seem to have best recognized the importance and power of humor as an easily testable proxy for identifying intelligence. Giving young women more say in the selection of their mate is likely highly eugenic. No other culture that I know of has a more subtle, sophisticated, i.e., highly developed/advanced sense of humor and humor culture than the English
    Forty years ago, scientists were already asking this question. Hauck and Thomas, testing eighty elementary-level students, found a very high correlation between humour and intelligence (r = .91), but, of course, that was back in 1972.
    A high tolerance [/appreciation] for eccentricity seems to be one of the keys in discovering and nurturing [and selecting for] ‘geniuses.’

  30. @hyperbola

    What a very valuable contribution based as it evidently is on being so much in demand that you have been able to make representative observations of the students and dons at dozens of colleges with thousands of graduate and undergraduate students, and of their graduates in the wider world. What a shame we can’t get such a statistically sound insiders’ view about the US Deep State on which so much similarly confident and perempt, if not admittedly personal, opinion is given on UR.

  31. Given these doubts I have about Richard Lynn’s sense of reality and probability, confirmed by the effective partial demolitions by Ron Unz, my initial inclination was to suspect the choice of subject matter to represent general knowledge. Now I am more inclined to go for the Aspergery explanation as validly explanatory even at the level of no more than average intelligence. (How many little girls collect car numbers or other equivalent oddly obsessive collections? How many female equivalents of Dustin Hoffman’s Rainman are there?).

    Still I have two questions.

    One is how many items of information that are important enough to them to remember are remembered by and readily recalled by women in comparison to men? (Who is related to whom and what people’s spouses and children’s names are come to mind).

    The other is whether mixed sex teams are at a disadvantage so far as the stats indicate the possibility. If so, and if there doesn’t appear to be an offsetting advantage in mixed sex teams from their differences in interests, it is interesting to consider the significance, if any, of there being relevant differences in male and female interests with no genetic cause (except those that just derive from women being small!er and weaker with logical not-necessarily-genetic/biological consequences)

  32. @FKA Max

    Agree that this is a plausible hypothesis, but the attempts to test it have failed to find the effect. Unclear whether it is a methodological issue, or a deeper problem.

    Use the link below to find the original posting, then come back for Lars Penke comments.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
    , @FKA Max
  33. Does that face at the top of this article remind you of anyone?

  34. @FKA Max

    I have a different theory. I think intelligence above large communitarian circumstances tend to be co-selected with more domesticated behavior and not that causal link, as if relatively lower testosterone is only source to increase intelligence, namely among men.

    And you are looking for academic intelligence and forgetting that other smart types has been beneficiary of this changes, namely Machiavellian ones or high functioning street -smart.

    What may be truly causal is not exactly the higher intelligence (academic-like intelligence) but less instinct caused by less testosterone that reduce human behavioral impulsivity to survive in short term and it was one the great promoter of civilizations. Combine delayed instinctive response with higher intelligence.

    Because artificial selection I think sexually attractive traits has been not selected over intellectually advantageous traits, east Asians for example. They are, namely men, highly smart but tend not to be sexually attractive in any instance.

    In inter racial open competition east Asian men seems in logically higher disadvantage. Similar situation happen with ashkenazis.

    It’s not just higher demographic predominance of lack of sexually attractive traits but also higher incompatibility, I mean, just look for Japanese men and women, without traditional culture higher % of both tend to be naturally incompatible. Many Japanese women don’t find many Japanese men attractive, sexually and also in terms of personality.

    Feminism was born exactly because this complete atomization between sexes throughout human history, specially in the west.

  35. The usual frightening latest p.c. opinion shaping from ‘left’ and ‘right’ (indistinguishable). To begin.

    ‘…notably the under-representation of black students and the elitism inherent in questions about classical composers, Greek mythology and Renaissance literature, which see various iterations of Oxbridge colleges dominate year on year’

    This is England, no? And Europe? Fight to the death to hold on to European heritage!

    ‘general knowledge and how it fits in the hierarchy of abilities’

    I can’t quite imagine a hierarchy of abilities, things are much more fluid/vague than that, it seems to me.

    ‘six first-order factors. These consisted of Physical Health and Recreation (games, biology and sport); Current Affairs (politics, history, geography, exploration, finance); Family (cookery and medicine); Science (general science and history of science); Fashion (clothes fashion, film, pop music); and Arts (classical music, visual art, jazz and literature)’

    Yes, most definitely ‘First Order’: games, fashiion, pop music, jazz.

    Why do wimyn complain? Can’t they compete? Isn’t real competition just what every woman wants?
    My wife has her own brand of diabolical intelligence. She knows a ton about cooking, medicine, health, birth and everything surrounding it, and is great at organizing groups, remembering people’s names and histories, etc. , all things I am crap at. She also has a sixth sense when something fishy is up, can see before I can if I’m noticing another female, and can walk into any room no matter how messy and pick out something that has changed since she last entered it. But don’t try to compete with me in reciting Bob Dylan or Neil Young lyrics, or various out there snippets of knowledge I’ve gathered on e.g. literature (don’t try, if you’re a female that is).

  36. Agent76 says:

    Feb 2, 2015 Don’t Stay in School

    What I learned in school vs. What I didn’t learn in school. I can’t remember feeling so passionate whilst writing something in ages.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  37. @res

    Why in the name of all thats sane is it controversial that at this level men outnumber chicks?Duh!
    If women predominated,oh boy,would we be hearing about it:
    Women are rising,taking control,doin’ it for themselves,men may be on the way out,blah blah blah.
    Just enjoy the show,you don’t have to fix everything,you lefty swine.

  38. @dearieme

    “I’m up for it if you can return us to our twenties.”

    One of the perennial complaints is that schools often field older post-grads who have an “unfair advantage” due to breadth of life experience. Last year the Open University team, with an average age of something in the forties or fifties did fairly well, despite not being one of the upper-tier OxBridge schools.

  39. FKA Max says:
    @James Thompson

    Thank you very much, Mr. Thompson!

    I think there is a serious flaw in that Göttingen study though, namely this:

    All the female raters were students, most of them psychology students. Psychology admission in Germany is highly dependent on very good grades, so the female raters were most likely above average and above the male sample in IQ. Crucially this means that assortative mating for intelligence did not bias our results, as this would have only strengthened any tendency for high IQ to increase attraction, which we did not find.

    Here’s a theory that’s not so crazy: Maybe people enter the mental health field because they have a history of psychological difficulties. Perhaps they’re trying to understand or overcome their own problems, which would give us a pool of therapists who are a hit unusual to begin with. That alone could account for the image of the Crazy Shrink.
    A number of surveys, conducted by Guy and others, reveal some worri-some statistics about therapists’ lives and well-being. At least three out of four therapists have experienced major distress within the past three years, the principal cause being relationship problems. More than 60 percent may have suffered a clinically significant depression at some point in their lives, and nearly half admitted that in the weeks following a personal crisis they’re unable to deliver quality care. As for psychiatrists, a 1997 study by Michael Klag, M.D., found that the divorce rate for psychiatrists who graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine between 1948 and 1964 was 51 percent—higher than that of the general population of that era, and substantially higher than the rate in any other branch of medicine.

    • Replies: @Hummingbird
    , @FKA Max
  40. Tomster says:

    “This is true in my experience – also true is that women (90% of my colleagues, and 100% of my mentors in long career as man in human services/education) enjoy a very similar advantage over men when it comes to communication (in terms of affective comprehension, attentive consultation, co-operation and consensus-building).

    A happy and long-lasting marriage is a reflection of this simple biological fact of life. In a successful (increasingly rare) partnership, a man and a woman complement one another in using their differing intellectual and social problem-solving skills together to cope with whatever life throws at them.

    It is a commonplace among men that women “talk too much”, but a wise husband learns to tune out some of his wife’s ‘distracting’ verbalization, because he has learnt that it is an absolutely necessary component of female ratiocination and genius – just as his wife has learnt to overlook his apparent self-absorption and obsession with factoids and hobbies.

    Arguments caused by these differences are crucial tests of both partners’ ability to learn about their own abilities and limitations, as well as their ability to appreciate another person’s perception of reality under stress – to support one another, to ‘deepen their love’ and to continue to build their lives together. It takes much patience, giving, and forgiving of oneself – as much as of the other person, so that that person does not become a stranger.

    Unfortunately, too many people of both sexes fail this test, resorting to old needful and selfish childhood attitudes and behaviours that are fatal to an adult relationship. Hence our depressing divorce rate of 50%, and its doleful effect on everyone involved, especially children caught in the playground crossfire.

    Infantile social ‘justice’ warriors (whatever their emotional motivations for playing on these differences – mommy/daddy problems?) will get nowhere with their absurd gender theories – which are actually a denial of biological and evolutionary science.

    If there is a Divine Plan, there is no better proof of it than in the magnificent and complementary differences between males and females of our species, evident everywhere in Nature. It is the Truth, it is pure Genius in our lives, and it is why we’re still on this planet, despite all the odds against us.”

    I am a much better person, and man. for having learnt so much from the women with whom I have worked – and those I have served in my career.

  41. @FKA Max

    I watched College Bowl in the late 1960s and will never forget how smart this woman was who competed for Swarthmore college.

  42. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max

    Here some more recent findings:

    Even fewer studies have explored the prevalence of mental health problems among psychology graduate students. There have been studies of symptoms, however: A 2009 APA survey found that 87 percent of psychology graduate students reported experiencing anxiety, and 68 percent reported symptoms of depression. Even suicidal thoughts — with a prevalence of 19 percent — were relatively common.

    “The numbers suggest we’re certainly not immune [to mental health problems],” says Phil Kleespies, PhD, a psychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System in West Roxbury, Mass., who co-led an inquiry on suicide risk among psychologists…. “Having a doctorate in psychology doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be able to deal with your own personal depression.”

    There is also this:

    The gender gap in the psychology workforce has widened. More females and fewer males have been entering the psychology workforce. In 2013, for every male active psychologist, there were 2.1 female active psychologists in the workforce. This gender gap was even wider for racial/ethnic minority groups.

    Mr. Thompson, what is your personal and professional opinion on these trends in your field?

    I know this is highly controversial territory to wade into, so I understand if you decline to comment on this topic.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  43. @daniel le mouche

    I stopped watching University Challenge precisely because it is no longer elitist enough – far too many nonsense questions about rock music and modern so-called literature. Another thing: the one decent topic at which the excellent young men of this show are lamentably ignorant is classical music. They know nothing about it, generally, and smirkingly don’t seem to care.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  44. In one prominent model of the structure of cognitive abilities (Cattell-Horn-Carroll), “General Knowledge” is treated as synonomous with crystallized intelligence. The best measure of crystallized intelligence is vocabulary size, and the correlation between Information and Vocabulary on the WAIS is high.

    I wonder about sex differences on Vocabulary. Does Vocabulary show consistent sex differences like Information? If so, why isn’t it mentioned? If not, what’s the explanation? (Also, I want to ask, do the champions in general-knowledge competitions possess very large vocabularies? Do they easily scoree 800 on the SAT-V and GRE-V? To they get a perfect score on the Millers Analogies Test?)

  45. Cortes says:

    And then there’s the small matter of mischievous questions.

    You know, like the local knowledge questions lobbed at provincial teams along the lines of “If you walk south east out of Trafalgar Sq. which Underground station would you reach first?”

    A particularly beautiful example was deployed on Mastermind”, the BBC’s brainiac quiz, about 14/5 years ago. The contestant affected was an American who’d had the lack of taste to rack up a seemingly unassailable lead in the Specialist Subject round (his was The Plays of Shakespeare) and when he came back to the black chair only needed to score five or six correct answers to win at the General Knowledge round. After a couple of lulling easy questions the quizmaster (keeping a straight face) asked him
    “In the BBC sitcom “Dad’s Army”, which town is defended by Captain Mainwaring’s Platoon?”
    TV at its cruel best.

    Reverting to “University Challenge”, the Oxbridge colleges pioneered the use of postgrads as contestants which conferred an additional advantage against teams of undergraduates.

    I was heartily relieved to have been an unused substitute at the recording of our undergraduate team’s trouncing by a Cambridge team as I couldn’t have answered any question at all. But I did get bought a pint by a female member of the cast of “Coronation Street” the soap filmed at the Granada TV studios, which tale won much admiration from mother, sister and (more important) fellow students. And two years later I was a postgrad at Oxford.

  46. FKA Max says:
    @James Thompson


    I just found this. Could this be the explanation why the mostly female psychology student raters — who presumably on average suffer from mental instability at higher rates than the general population — were less attracted to this particular group of men in the study, because these men presumably had lower rates of mental instability than the mostly female psychology student raters?

    High Rate Of Spouses Who Share Psychiatric Disorders

    “Assortative mating increases the contribution of additive genetic variance (narrow heritability) for any trait on which it acts. This boost to heritability from assortative mating could help to explain why psychiatric disorders have such high heritability despite reduced fecundity,” wrote Dr Plomin and colleagues in the editorial.

    1. Nordsletten AE, Larsson H, Crowley JJ, Almqvist C, Lichtenstein P, Mataix-Cols D. Patterns of Nonrandom Mating Within and Across 11 Major Psychiatric Disorders. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3192.

    2. Plomin R, Krapohi E, O’Reilly PF. Assortative Mating—A Missing Piece in the Jigsaw of Psychiatric Genetics. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3204.

  47. @Agent76

    Scouts and Guides plug this gap. They tend to be popular with a narrow band of the skilled working class. So it is not clear that most pupils would actually be more motivated by less abstract study.

  48. @FKA Max

    Nothing controversial about the topic. Psychologists have psychological problems. I do not know if these are more frequent than in other professional groups. Psychiatrists have documented their own problems, and elevated suicide rates. Not being able to treat oneself is hardly a reliable measure of a specific weakness, since medical practice frowns on self-diagnosis and medication, and psychologists are told to consult others in the case of psychological distress.
    The rise of women is mostly because of the increase in clinical psychology, for which they are probably better suited. Men have decamped to neuro-psychology.
    However, in terms of psychological research it is unsuitable to rely so heavily on psychology students.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  49. FKA Max says:
    @James Thompson

    However, in terms of psychological research it is unsuitable to rely so heavily on psychology students.

    Yes I absolutely agree, and thank you, Mr. Thompson.

    I just discovered in the Göttingen study, page 12, that the mostly female psychology student raters were way off target on accurately predicting the males level of neuroticism:

    -0.43 rated from videos versus 0.10 self-reported/tested

    The reason is likely, as I posited, that these mostly female psychology student raters are highly neurotic, and so assumed that an averagely neurotic person is very low on the neuroticism scale compared to themselves, page 12:

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  50. @The Alarmist

    Emma Johnson is very pretty, but she didn’t answer many questions – not that any male would really care.

  51. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max

    I don’t know if I read or understand the “Accuracy of first impressions” data on page 12 of the Göttingen study properly… I might have completely misread/misinterpreted it… I think I confused myself ha ha ha… if anyone can give me feedback if I am correctly or incorrectly interpreting the data, I would highly appreciate it:

    Thank you.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  52. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max

    Never mind…

    I completely botched up it up and misread the data… scratch my theory from above on “highly neurotic” female psychology students…

    I mistook/misinterpreted the negative correlation between Extraversion and Neuroticism (-.43) as an extreme inability of the mostly female psychology student raters to judge the males’ levels of neuroticism properly.

    The mostly female psychology student raters were still not very good at judging the males’ levels of neuroticism (.10), but neither were they at judging the males’ agreeableness (.09). Maybe psychologists are on average actually less neurotic and agreeable than the general population?

    I will just go and stand in the corner for a while and be embarrassed ha ha ha 😉

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  53. guest says:

    I got through the first round of Jeopardy! auditions once, consisting of hundreds–maybe thousands, I wasn’t there all day–of hopefuls taking a ten-question quiz. The crowd was pretty much everyday people. Next round was I want to say 150 or so, which they broke up into smaller groups to take longer quizzes under conditions more like the actual game. They were all nerds, near as I could judge.

    I didn’t get any further, so I don’t know. But I assume in addition to intelligence, quickness, photogenicity, and personality, they also weeded contestants by attractiveness in later stages.

    “a lot of men like to watch women, if they are young and telegenic”

    Female contestants skew more attractive than males would be my unscientific guess, for obvious reasons. If the aim is to cast the best tv show, you’d think they’d try and give us the best competition. Which can’t be perfectly predicted, of course. But if they’re trying to cast the best-looking or the ones with most personality, they’re not doing a great job of it, anyway. Some compromise has been struck, between unavoidable nerdiness and tv-readiness.

    I would also guess that the Jeopardy audience is more female than male–despite the fact that it is more abstract and less social than female-oriented game shows tend to be. I sat say that simply because it’s likely to be on during the day, and I notice daytime tv is filled to the rafters with women’s programming. Most tv is for chicks, anyway.

    I’ve unscientifically noticed Jeopardy! having more and more female contestants lately, for whatever reason. Most of them are not lookers, which is to be expected. My guess is they’re trying to appeal more directly to women.

    The questions are more obvious, too, with more clues. Which isn’t necessarily part of a push to raise female viewership. Regular tv audiences have got to be getting stupider.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  54. Cortes says:

    The fact is that it’s a TV show. Shows sell on sex appeal.

    To be a major winner on a show like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” for example, in my delusional understanding, would require an optimal combination of a middle aged guy in drab clothes as the contestant whose friend in the audience is very much younger and totally sexy.

    Cue easy peasy questions while “special audience friend” pouts and delivers the audience of saddos asking “what’s the script here” a question repeated by the partners/spouses of the saddos.

    Commercial break time.

    I thank you.

  55. There were teams with women members, but they didn’t reach the final. Anyone who wants more women participants should think carefully about that.

  56. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max


    this is getting really embarrassing now, but I think I still don’t understand this study, etc. properly… maybe my initial interpretation of the data was somewhat correct?

    The study actually asked women AND men to judge the intelligence of the group of men, which I did not realize:

    We tested 88 young men (age 19 to 31 years) on six psychometric intelligence subtests and two measures of information processing speed, from which a g factor was extracted, and on the Big 5 personality dimensions. Standardized photos, voice recordings and videotapes of three behavioral tasks (reading headlines, charade, tell-a-joke) were also taken. Sixteen women and 14 men judged the intelligence and personality of the target men based on the videos.
    Both men and women could accurately judge intelligence and extraversion, but not the other Big 5, from the videos.

    So, maybe this is where my confusion and inability to read and interpret the data properly came from? Again, if someone could enlighten me on how to read this data set properly I would be extremely grateful.

    Again, it is on page 12, and there are two correlation data sets highlighted with a red border/frame around them. Is the vertical red-bordered correlation data set the men judging the group and the diagonal red-bordered correlation data set the women judging the group, or vice versa? Why is there only one value for Extraversion (.50), did the women and men judge the group’s level of Extraversion with exactly the same precision/accuracy? As you can tell I am completely lost here, and it is driving me somewhat bonkers…
    page 12…

    I probably have to be patient till tomorrow for Mr. Thompson to give me clarity on this issue, since he is soundly asleep right now in London.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  57. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max

    I found some helpful clues how to interpret page 12:

    The researchers have given the guys every chance to reveal their intellects and, crucially, the women making the judgments are able to hazard guesses as to how bright the guys are, which correlate 0.34 with tested intelligence. This is interesting in itself. I never claim to be able to judge intelligence immediately, but these women seem to do so at better than chance level.

    Frank J says:
    October 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm GMT • 100 Words

    If I’m reading the Accuracy of first impressions table right, the ladies and gentlemen had minimal agreement on 4 of 5 of the men’s personality traits, the only exception being Extraversion (.50). Interesting that they predicted the IQ test better.

    Regarding the low correlations of LT attraction with g, what I’m wondering is: how did Physical attractiveness correlate with g? I can’t find that in the paper. If that correlation is negative, then the low LT,g correlations could be explained as a compromise between lust and income expectation. Smartness compensates for being ugly?

    So it seems that the diagonal red-bordered correlations on page 12 are the women judging the group and the vertical red-bordered correlations are the men judging the group. The women are much more accurate (.34) than the men (.05) in judging the intelligence of the men via the recorded videos.

    So the men actually were way off target in judging the neuroticism of the men (-.43), not the “highly neurotic” female psychology students (.10) as I falsely believed and interpreted it.

    I am feeling a little bit more relieved now, knowing this information…

    So Christopher Hitchens seems to be correct:

    Watch the video of Christopher Hitchens in my linked comment; he, rightly in my opinion, states that women are on average not as funny/intelligent as men, but that does not mean that they don’t have a sense of humor, i.e., they can, maybe even better than men, recognize and appreciate humor/intelligence/eccentricity

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  58. FKA Max says:
    @FKA Max

    After having, hopefully, finally figured out how to read and interpret page 12 of the Göttingen study properly, I was astonished by the huge difference between the sexes in the ability to judge neuroticism during first impressions/meetings:

    So the men actually were way off target in judging the neuroticism of the men (-.43), not the “highly neurotic” female psychology students (.10) as I falsely believed and interpreted it.

    See my mostly wrong comment and interpretation of the data here:

    I just discovered in the Göttingen study, page 12, that the mostly female psychology student raters were way off target on accurately predicting the males[‘] level of neuroticism […]
    these mostly female psychology student raters are highly neurotic

    I also found out that women are apparently on average actually more neurotic than men:

    Gender Differences in Five Factor Model Personality Traits in an Elderly Cohort: Extension of Robust and Surprising Findings to an Older Generation Chapman et al. (2007)

    In college and adult samples, women score higher then men on the Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits of Neuroticism and Agreeableness. The present study assessed the extent to which these gender differences held in a sample of 486 older adults, ranging in age from 65-98 (M = 75, SD = 6.5), using the NEO-Five Factor Inventory. Mean and Covariance Structure models testing gender differences at the level of latent traits revealed higher levels of Neuroticism (d = .52) and Agreeableness (d = .35) in older women than older men. The consistency of these findings with prior work in younger samples attests to the stability of gender differentiation on Neuroticism and Agreeableness across the lifespan. Gender differences on these traits should be considered in personality research among older, as well as middle age and younger adults.

    So I was actually wrong here, again:

    The mostly female psychology student raters were still not very good at judging the males’ levels of neuroticism (.10), but neither were they at judging the males’ agreeableness (.09). Maybe psychologists are on average actually less neurotic and agreeable than the general population?

    Since the field of psychology is dominated by females, psychologists are likely more neurotic and agreeable on average than the general population:

    In 2013, for every male active psychologist, there were 2.1 female active psychologists in the workforce.

    But now to the interesting part…

    Why do men seem to be really bad at judging a person’s level of neuroticism? Well, maybe the reason is, that if men were too sensitive to and too aware of neuroticism this would decrease their reproductive success, since women are on average more neurotic? This makes sense to me.

    What threw me for a loop in the Göttingen study was the following statement, which is not really accurate, in my opinion:

    Both men and women could accurately judge intelligence and extraversion, but not the other Big 5, from the videos.

    As Mr. Thompson and commenter Frank J observed, women (.34) were actually much more successful than men (.05) in judging intelligence from first impressions, so it is not quite clear to me why the Göttingen study would state “Both men and women could accurately judge intelligence,” when women seem to be far superior judges of intelligence than men:

    This is interesting in itself. I never claim to be able to judge intelligence immediately, but these women seem to do so at better than chance level.
    Interesting that they predicted the IQ test better.

    This simple fact, in my opinion, that women have a higher ability in judging a man’s/person’s intelligence at first impressions makes me believe that the Göttingen researchers’, Penke et al., conclusion is actually wrong:

    This is only the second study on the attractiveness of measured intelligence at zero acquaintance, and the first one that assessed a true g factor, had a sufficiently large sample of target men, and tested whether increasing availability of intelligence information alters women’s reported attraction. Taken together with very limited support for an association between g and mutation load in the currently available genomic data, these results cast doubt on the hypothesis that g is an indicator of genetic fitness under ‘good genes’ sexual selection.

    To me the finding of heightened female (.34) sensitivity to intelligence compared to men (.05) implies, that, indeed, intelligence is an indicator of genetic fitness which females are actively looking and sexually selecting for.

  59. @Old Palo Altan

    Used you to enjoy the BBC’s “My Word” and “My Music”? I guess so. They’re gine I suppose as I no longer hear them on the ABC.

  60. @daniel le mouche

    I think you have added more flesh and colour to a point I raised in question form. Don’t try and compete with the woman I know best on matters horticultural, even botanical, or on a great range of antiques….

    As to your point about a hierarchy of abilities I think there are several other things which can be said. One is that it is becessary to ask “for what purposes?” if one is to be able to answer confidently that some abilities rank above others..

    Then there is an issue which first struck me when I heard business educators posing the apparently incisive clearheaded question “what is the key factor to this company’s profitability?” or similar questions. Often you had to ignore a number of absolutely vital factors like having patent protection or enough skilled loyal staff or cheap working capital because the company had enough of them, so, though any of them could become the reason company A survived and prospered and company B didn’t they weren’t focused on (possibly at some risk). Abilities might be looked at analogously.

  61. Wiz! Thanks for a nice reply. All I can say is, I’ve avoided business like the plague, and am paying for it now. I found your comment on what I assume to be something that happens in business meetings interesting. So that’s what all these people running around are up to!

  62. @dearieme

    Return me to my twenties and quiz shows will not be the first priority.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  63. @The Alarmist

    The specialest edition of all is:

  64. dearieme says:
    @Father O'Hara

    Small price to pay, though.

  65. Pericles says:
    @Clark Westwood

    It should be sufficient that two players identify as women, right? Otherwise refer the issue to HR.

  66. Since men are better at general knowledge, and are usually more variable in ability (larger standard deviations) than women it would make sense that there would be fewer women selected for local university team membership, and progressively far fewer in winning teams.

    Is participation in such activities obligatory, then? Unless they’re required of all students, I don’t think you can assume the male/female ratio reflects ability levels. It’s more likely it reflects different levels of interest in performing the extracurricular activity in question.

    For the men, it may be an opportunity to peacock about, displaying their cognitive fitness. For the women, it may be a disadvantage to display cognitive fitness. I once watched a “Hollywood stars” edition of Jeopardy. It was fascinating how many of the attractive starlets managed to “play dumb” while holding their own, coming up with the right answer at the very last moment.

    In the interim, more females than males in the US enroll law school. Perhaps it’s due to the women choosing to stay in and do their homework, rather than investing time in extracurriculars.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  67. @East Coast

    Would the “different interests” possibility explain why those women who are interested enough to enter the competition are more often on the losing side?

    • Replies: @East Coast
  68. @James Thompson

    Really, you could only determine that if all students in a university were required to participate. As it is, male students who wish to devote time to such competitions are fairly unusual themselves. Looking at lists of past winners, one constant over the years is at least one member of each team is pursuing a history degree.

    How would you establish the relationship? Does every university select teams by the same method? Or do teams assemble themselves, then compete to be chosen to represent the university? Is there a difference between state schools and public schools (as you call them) in performance? Do the two types of schools use similar methods to teach the same curriculum?

    Would a student from a state comprehensive school on scholarship be willing to invest the time in such a competition? Or would such an activity be a drain on the time better spent working or studying? Would a student from a very wealthy family not have more time to devote to extracurricular activities?

    I think that there’s a difference between doing well and doing superbly. When competition’s at a high level, the ability to think on one’s feet can make the difference.

    Then again, it’s also nearly useless, outside of competitions. For example, it’s not as if people call upon spelling bee winners to visit and spell words for them. Nor do we ask quiz bowl winners to come by and name five countries bordering the Aegean, just for fun.

    Poking about on the internet, it seems women now complete the majority of university degrees in the UK: Looking at the spreadsheet, it seems women complete the majority of degrees in law, medicine and history. Not that long ago, I think people would have held such results to be inconceivable.

  69. @James Thompson

    It surprises me that General Knowledge is weakly correlated with fluid ability. Range restriction? Woodley always says Verbal IQ is more g. Cattell theory states that Crystallized Intelligence is result of investment of Fluid. I would expect at least moderate correlation. Isn’t Verbal ability is often regarded by many as one of the best tests of Intelligence and most highly correlated with Full Scale in Wechsler.

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