Friday, November 11, 2016

I. Q., the Myth and the Reality

Sure is a lot of nonsense out there about IQ. The conventional wisdom, which is seldom stated explicitly but which informs almost all public discussion of the subject, is that one's intelligence is determined by one's environment, and that's all there is to it. It's seldom explicitly stated precisely because it sounds so idiotic. No, we accept the fact that our favorite pets, dogs, have differing levels of intelligence determined by heredity, and even that different breeds of dog have differing average levels of intelligence. But it's taboo to even imply that intelligence among humans has a genetic component. But, of course, it obviously does, and it's been shown time and time again that intelligence runs in the family, so to speak.

And an aside: Deniers of the heritability of intelligence alway resort to things like, "Ashkenazi Jews have higher intelligence only because they have a tradition of literacy that other people lack." Well and good, but they're missing the point that this literacy tradition affected the reproduction of individuals most adaptable to literacy. Over the centuries, then, Ashkenazi Jews were selected for literacy aptitude, which no doubt correlates with intelligence. That, after all, is how evolution works.

Here's a guest post by Matt Bailey on the subject:

Reality-A human can just about double, occasionally triple their starting strength level through dedicated training, but IQ is much less flexible. Assuming it isn't lowered by being subjected to extreme famine at a young age, what you are born with is pretty much what you've got to work with. For decades our country has been run by people who assume it DOES work like the bench press. 
"Oh don't worry, if we let all the Blue Collar jobs flee overseas we'll just train everyone to be White Collar workers!" 
Doesn't work that way, absolutely doesn't work that way, and acting as if it works that way creates harmful policies.
A guy with an IQ of ~90 and good hands didn't ask to be born that way, any more than Stephen Hawking asked to be a genius in a wheelchair. Our policies in America increasingly refuse to protect the former from international competition and make use of what he does have to offer, instead we treat him like he's lazy, broken, or plain no good because he can't just learn to be a programmer or an accountant if his factory gets shipped to Mexico. Then the ruling hairdos and eggheads in this country will call him ignorant if he'd rather vote for Trump than fall from a formerly prosperous middle class into a Third World peasant status.
Quibcag: Since this is a sciency post, the illustration is my favorite anime scientist girl, Rika Shiguma of Haganai (はがない).

1 comment:

  1. It's worse than that. Having a lower IQ means you would do better in a stimulating environment. Engaged teachers. Homeschool.
    If you don't spend the school years learning (and consider homeschool v.s. public), you are at a bigger disadvantage.
    But minorities are thus thrice cursed.
    First by their lower average IQ.
    Second by horrible schools where they can't learn. Someone with a 90 IQ can learn basic algebra and acquire a decent vocabulary. Someone with 110 that doesn't is less advantaged - but everyone gets a trophy for this mental atrophy.
    Third by affirmative action so they get diversed into Harvard where they crash and burn instead of a good but less demanding college where they would flourish and earn a degree cum laude.

    But it is a curve, or worse, a series of different curves - narrow or wide as well as where the center is. Women differ from men. Men from different tribes (not even nations) differ. Some (without a birth defect) have flatter curves, some thinner.

    But statistics don't say anything about individuals.

    Also, IQ is not morality or virtue. Anyone above 70 can understand not to hurt, steal, cheat, or lie. Over 120 they can rationalize their evil. I'd rather be among a moral group of Christians with 90 IQs than a bunch of 140 IQ vivisectionists.