• Vinson
    8
    I saw this comment by Carl Bereiter.

    IQ is like money... Publicly you proclaim that those individuals who have a lot are no better than those who have a little. But privately you wish you had a lot.

    I agree with Mr. Bereiter even though IQ has nothing to do with dignity, friendliness, compassion, honesty and a host of other positive human attributes.

    A lot of people are very uncomfortable thinking of intelligence as a single dimension, or as inherent. To the extent that by "intelligence" we mean a set of core analytical and verbal abilities largely determined via genetics and early childhood, I agree that it's an unearned gift that they should be thankful for and use to improve the world.

    It’s no wonder people hate IQ and intelligence research because it reveals a set of seriously dismal facts about the incredible range of ability among human beings.
  • T Clark
    3k
    It’s no wonder people hate IQ and intelligence research because it reveals a set of seriously dismal facts about the incredible range of ability among human beings.Vinson

    The problem with research into IQ is that people are mostly interested in using it as justification for drawing conclusions about differences in intelligence between races. Is that where this discussion is going?
  • MindForged
    398
    Probably, though the phrasing of the OP was charmingly circumspect (or maybe I'm just cynical and being mean).
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Exactly. I recommend that anyone who wants to start making claims about what IQ can tell us about anybody or anything should first of all read Stephen J Gould's The Mismeasure of Man to see exactly its basis in, quite frankly, racial and gender bias. As Gould points out right at the beginning, the whole IQ idea is based on a fundamental category error that intelligence is something that can be measured.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    And the only thing that IQ tests have ever been able to tell about anyone is how good or bad they are at taking IQ tests.
  • tom
    1.5k
    The problem with research into IQ is that people are mostly interested in using it as justification for drawing conclusions about differences in intelligence between races. Is that where this discussion is going?T Clark

    Is there such a difference, or is it a social construct?
  • tom
    1.5k
    And the only thing that IQ tests have ever been able to tell about anyone is how good or bad they are at taking IQ tests.MetaphysicsNow

    And how likely or not someone is to die from all causes.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289616302331

    And rates of mental illness.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4170757/

    And propensity to violent crime.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404054/

    ...
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Well, point taken to some extent, but only to the extent of my clumsy expression. Correlations have been made between results in IQ examinations and other phenomena. This does not, though, entail that IQ tests are measuring anything other than an ability to take an IQ test. The question that these studies is often supposed to raise is "why are less intelligent people less/more likely to x/y" whereas the question they in fact raise is "why are people who are better/worse at taking IQ tests less/more likely to x/y".
  • Posty McPostface
    4.7k
    A case in point to the above sentiments is The Bell Curve by Charles Murray, which has been charged with scientific racism of sorts.
  • T Clark
    3k
    Probably, though the phrasing of the OP was charmingly circumspect (or maybe I'm just cynical and being mean).MindForged

    "Charming" is probably not the word I would use. If the intention all along was to start a discussion about racial differences in intelligence, then "misleading" is more appropriate.

    Assuming that is where you intended this discussion to go, it brings up a question I often ask in situations like this. Why does it matter if there are differences between races? Typically, there is a political agenda hiding behind these apparently innocuous discussions. Is that true here?

    Sometimes, the question that is asked is more illuminating than the answer to the question. That is generally true for this particular subject.
  • T Clark
    3k
    Exactly. I recommend that anyone who wants to start making claims about what IQ can tell us about anybody or anything should first of all read Stephen J Gould's The Mismeasure of Man to see exactly its basis in, quite frankly, racial and gender bias. As Gould points out right at the beginning, the whole IQ idea is based on a fundamental category error that intelligence is something that can be measured.MetaphysicsNow

    I am a big admirer of Gould and I've read the book. To be clear, it's controversial and Gould has been vilified for what he wrote. Which has always brought up my previous question - why is it so important to people that he's wrong?
  • T Clark
    3k
    Is there such a difference, or is it a social construct?tom

    I've read "The Mismeasure of Man." I haven't read "The Bell Curve." I've read a little bit of the discussion about the controversy. My understanding of statistics is not sophisticated enough for me to figure it out. Also, I don't really care except to the extent the discussion hides a political agenda.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    I guess it depends on the people who insist that he's wrong. There is an IQ testing industry of sorts, and other occupations (human resources for one) that depend on it to some extent, so there are economic pressures on the people involved to insist that there genuinely is something being tested other than the ability to take a specific kind of test. There may be some people with an interest in IQ who truly are aiming to find some legitimacy for their racial or gender bias, but the few people I've met of that sort are not scientists or other professionals working in the field of IQ testing, but racists and sexists looking for reasons for an irrational belief.
  • Baden
    6.5k


    So, many people hate the idea of IQ testing and research. OK, so other than that observation, do you have a point to make? Usually an OP should have a thesis of some sort for debate in order to focus the discussion. Nobody seems to know exactly what to talk about here.
  • MindForged
    398
    Charming" is probably not the word I would use. If the intention all along was to start a discussion about racial differences in intelligence, then "misleading" is more appropriate.T Clark

    It was intended to be a bit tongue in cheek. As I said, OP seems circumspect about their intent here so I more or less agree with you.
  • tom
    1.5k
    I've read "The Mismeasure of Man." I haven't read "The Bell Curve." I've read a little bit of the discussion about the controversy. My understanding of statistics is not sophisticated enough for me to figure it out. Also, I don't really care except to the extent the discussion hides a political agenda.T Clark

    How about the sex difference in IQ?
  • T Clark
    3k
    It was intended to be a bit tongue in cheek. As I said, OP seems circumspect about their intent here so I more or less agree with you.MindForged

    Sorry. I was answering you as if you are the original poster. My mistake.
  • T Clark
    3k
    How about the sex difference in IQ?tom

    I don't know.
  • tom
    1.5k
    I don't know.T Clark

    Science knows.
  • Maw
    963
    It's very much worth noting, as others have pointed out, that Charles Murray has been a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute since 1990, a think tank (which as David Koch as a member of its National Council, and who, along with his older brother Charles, have donated considerably to the organization), which is dedicated to research pertaining to scaling back Government and promoting laissez-faire ideas. Part of Charles Murray's broader argument is that IQ disparity is biologically fixed among races, therefore, it is a financial waste for Government to spend money to support Black Americans to mitigate or eradicate inequality, because it's fixed biologically. There is absolutely a nefarious political agenda.

    There is also a market for selling IQ tests (Jordan Peterson does it), so there is, for a some, a business incentive to sell it to suckers.
  • John Doe
    157
    The problem with research into IQ is that people are mostly interested in using it as justification for drawing conclusions about differences in intelligence between races.T Clark

    I mean, surely sensible people understand that those are all cases in which the purported evidence of IQ is being used to justify existing racist sentiments. None of these guys is led to racism by merely following the science or some other such stupid nonsense.

    But I would suggest that's just a species of a genus of stupidity. The wider problem, which you're alluding to, is that people use IQ in general as a justification for drawing conclusions about differences in general. This stupidity no doubt feeds on a sort of 'scientism' mindset, and it's absolute philosophical malpractice. The concept of intelligence -- a multi-layered concept with a variety of uses and applications within a variety of contexts -- is quantified, and then essentialized (to individuals or groups), and then re-deployed in predictive or explanatory theorizing. It's plain dumb.

    It's then this same pseudo-science impulse that led to the truly foolish notion (properly crushed by MacIntyre in After Virtue) that social sciences hadn't caught up to the natural sciences because the average IQ of social scientists was less than those of natural scientists.

    Not to mention -- I can't be the only one -- all those people one meets who discuss their purported IQ scores as a justification of superiority and entitlement across, like, every spectrum of life.
  • creativesoul
    3.1k
    Aren't there noble purposes for IQ tests?

    You people remind me of those folk who want to stop social programs because some people take advantage of them and break the law while doing so. That doesn't make social programs bad.

    I would argue the same about IQ tests. Just because some use them for nefarious purposes, doesn't mean that they are bad, in and of themselves. There are noble purposes as well.

    There are cases of children who have much higher potential than their immediate family and socio-economic situation may indicate. These children do not have fortunate circumstances. Here, nature is in their favor, but nurture is not. IQ tests are quite helpful in getting these sorts of children noticed by the right kinds of people...
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    Testing is not a useless racist exercise.

    IQ tests -- or any other kind of test -- are intended to distinguish between differing characteristics of individuals in a systematic (as opposed to anecdotal) way. The fact is, there are a lot of significant differences between individuals that make a difference in their future. The best intelligence and personality tests (Stanford Binet, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - MMPI) fulfill that discriminating function reasonably well. It's helpful to know which children in school may have more potential, and which may have less. It's also helpful to know which adults may be predisposed to develop (or have) features of mental illnesses.

    It isn't the fault of the test if later some people use the results of the test to support unpopular and or dubious positions.

    The problem with IQ tests is that people think they measure innate--untaught--intelligence and everything about intelligence. They do not. People also think that the results are valid for the rest of the person's life -- generally they are not. Most people usually get smarter over time, because IQ tests measure learning as well as native ability.

    Intelligence does not necessarily cause achievement; it is simply correlated with it.

    The relationship between IQ scores and achievement is an imperfect one, with many exceptions to the rule.

    IQ scores have a limited “shelf life.” Their predictive value is relatively short range (like, how will a high school senior do in his first year of college -- not how well a high school senior will do in graduate school.
    — J.E. Ormrod — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall 2010

    Not all tests are created equal. Some tests are not worth the paper they are printed on. This is especially true of quickie personality tests. (The MMPI is not a quickie -- there are hundreds of questions to read.) Achievement tests (like you took in school) are not intelligence tests, though their function overlap.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    The problem with research into IQ is that people are mostly interested in using it as justification for drawing conclusions about differences in intelligence between races. Is that where this discussion is going?T Clark

    This comment is the sort that can derail a discussion. White people's assumptions about the stupidity of black people were I'm place a long time before the first intelligence test was created.

    Intelligence testing has been around for over a century. The Binet Intelligence Test was developed in France to help sort out children who performed poorly in school, but who didn't seem to be retarded (like, maybe they were just lazy) from students who were actually mentally retarded.

    It was a worthwhile project. Some children have potential that can be developed in a classroom, and some children don't.

    After racism people are likely to drag in the eugenics movement, which relied on such crude categories of deficiency that IQ tests were beside the point. (Single mothers on welfare with "too many children" were likely to attract the interest of eugenicists.) Eugenics lives on by the way, and quite properly, in the form of genetics counseling for people that bear serious transmissible genetic defects.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    All children have potential. Using a test based on a category mistake and which is specifically designed to single out a few from the many, even if for supposed noble causes, singles out children on the basis of a mistake. Perhaps some good can come out of having done so in individual cases, it is logically possible for a mistake to have positive results. However, under the current educational systems (the ones I am aware of anyway) those kinds of tests consign the majority of children to mediocrity and the suppression of potential through neglect.
  • creativesoul
    3.1k


    As usual Bitter, I find much agreement between our views...

    :wink:
  • creativesoul
    3.1k
    All children have potential. Using a test based on a category mistake and which is specifically designed to single out a few from the many, even if for supposed noble causes, singles out children on the basis of a mistake. Perhaps some good can come out of having done so in individual cases, it is logically possible for a mistake to have positive results. However, under the current educational systems (the ones I am aware of anyway) those kinds of tests consign the majority of children to mediocrity and the suppression of potential through neglect.MetaphysicsNow

    You figure the IQ tests are responsible for how they're put to use?

    :worry:

    This also works from the presupposition that "being based upon a category mistake" is somehow unacceptable. What counts as a category mistake on your view?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    However, under the current educational systems (the ones I am aware of anyway) those kinds of tests consign the majority of children to mediocrity and the suppression of potential through neglect.MetaphysicsNow

    By 'mediocrity' do you mean 'average'? Most people are 'average'. But it isn't testing that condemns children to mediocrity, it's the aim of education In the present society.

    Maybe 20% of students in school need to be very well educated so that they can serve the interests of a technologically complex society under the control of an elite. 20% of the students are getting an excellent education, more or less.

    If 80% of students are getting a run of the mill education, it is because more is not deemed necessary. A lot of today's students are not going to be doing complex tasks that require insight and theoretical thinking. This is a long-term trend, observed for the last 50 years, or so.

    The emphasis one hears on getting a good education, going to college, does apply to some students. But it's over-reach for many students. Not that they are incapable of benefiting from excellent education; they could benefit if it was offered to them at a price they could afford, and for a long term purpose. It's just that 1/2 of all high school students being urged to go to college will lead to debt, dissatisfaction, and disappointment, because the number of jobs needing college education aren't in fact great enough to employ all those people.
  • Benkei
    1.6k
    If IQ test measure any type of intelligence, it is only abstract thinking. There are quite obviously different types of intelligence. People that are bad at studying (language, mathematics, abstract thinking) might be excellent sportsman or craftsman. The idea that the latter do not require "intelligence" is, I think, unnecessarily restricting its defintion. I see intelligence as the application of a person's ability (whether innate or acquired) to accomplish a task in a manner exceeding the average person's ability to accomplish said task. If you're average at a particular task, that doesn't make you unintelligent as a whole.

    The societal problem with IQ tests results in judging people as being intelligent/unintelligent as a whole, which is unwarranted and cruel as it suggests intelligence is mostly innate. I strongly disagree with that and would suggest that the limit to someone's abilities are innate in many circumstances, the extent to which you can reach those limits depends on practice. And I dislike the English "practice makes perfect" because I don't believe in perfection but if you'd take the Dutch version, it would translate to "practice bears art". Art in the sense of craftmanship and mastery.
  • Tomseltje
    147
    It’s no wonder people hate IQ and intelligence research because it reveals a set of seriously dismal facts about the incredible range of ability among human beings.Vinson

    It's true that iq research may reveal some uncomfortable facts. However most people disliking/hating iq research seem to conflate iq with virtue.

    The problem with research into IQ is that people are mostly interested in using it as justification for drawing conclusions about differences in intelligence between races. Is that where this discussion is going?T Clark

    The main problem about that is that most of them don't know enough about basic statistics to say anything sensible about it. Many of them seem to think they can apply statistical data to individual cases. Resulting in ridiculous statements like "on average asians have a higher iq than whites, so since I'm asian and you are white, I must have a higher iq than you", conflating chance with facts, unwarrently assuming that the possibility with the lesser chance to occur, will not occur.
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