Sunday, December 16, 2007

NYT Fallacies

So the letters are in on the Genes and IQ editorial which was easily debunked in the last entry.

Now I'll focus on some of the letters that bring out more bs:

"If we want intelligence tests, we need to devise new ones based on actual scientific theory rather than Victorian and Progressive Era puffery. Until then, at the very least, we should have a healthy agnosticism about who is smarter than whom."

Alright, back again to the rehashed debate on the validity of IQ tests. Look, IQ works better than ANY other demographic indicator in terms of correlation with income, crime, and health). And the army uses it religiously to determine who's going to be in the infantry and who's going to do logistics. It works, regardless of where/when it was conceived.

"Between the early 1970s and 2004, the reading and math scores of black children have risen faster than the scores for white children. Among 9-year-olds, black children have closed more than a third of the black-white gap that existed in the early 1970s. Progress has also been made by 13-year-olds and 17-year-olds."

This is just isolated incidents. The simple fact remains that the IQ gap between blacks and whites has remained a robust one standard deviation. Unless you're measuring the scores in terms of standard deviation, changes in test score gaps have no relevance. Black 13 year olds still read at an 10 year old level and the average 17 year old black reads at a 13 year old level. That's the sad truth.

"I.Q. tests are notoriously biased against anyone who is not white, male and middle class. Numerous studies have shown that it is not a valid measure of intelligence and, indeed, even white people who come from other cultures score poorly on the tests."

Uh, which explains why Asians tend to have 4 points higher on IQ tests than whites, right? And why male and female IQ scores are almost exactly equal, and only differ on the sub tests that measure either spacial reasoning or verbal ability.
Whites from other cultures score poorly on the test? International IQ scores beg to differ.

"The real point of interest is why people do this research in the first place. These studies tell us nothing about intelligence, black people, white people, genetics or environment. What they really show is the inherent racism of the ones doing the research."

You're kidding, right? The point of these studies is, as Watson said, that all our public policy is based on equal intelligence between races. And that is why economic development, and no child left behind have been abject failures.

"We now know enough about the fine structure of the brain, the proteins involved and the roles they play in learning, cognition, memory and other components of intelligence to understand that the DNA of genes are, generally, many steps removed from determining these capacities. Any study of the genetics of possible racial differences in intelligence must be based not on genes but on knowledge of the fine structure and proteins of the brain. These can provide objective, quantifiable measures."

This objection is more scientific in origin, but still out of touch with reality. Even within families, differences in intelligence between non-identical siblings can largely be traced to different sets of genes going to each kid. Why can't animals ever become as intelligent as humans? It's in the genes, dude. And I give guys like these maybe 10 or 15 years. After that, the genetics will be in and we'll know the truth. Complex interactions between genes and environment won't be so complex anymore.

"As heartening as I found Richard E. Nisbett’s arguments against a correlation between race and intelligence, I find it difficult to overlook the fact that one of the world’s most eminent scientists, James D. Watson, recently lost his job for taking the opposite position.

Under such circumstances, essays like Professor Nisbett’s take on the air of dogma. One is left to wonder what researchers might find or say if their careers and reputations weren’t threatened by academic McCarthyism."

I give credit where it's due. Even though the NY Times is supporting bunk opinions, at least they're willing to acknowledge the taboo atmosphere around such research.

"Perhaps Richard E. Nisbett’s report on studies that show the effect of environment on I.Q. scores has provided an answer to a question I have pondered for many years. When I was in high school, I scored 115 on an I.Q. test, but when I had another I.Q. test many years later, I scored over 130. Why the increase?

My skin color hadn’t changed, but my environment certainly had. I grew up in a small town with a father who had dropped out of school in the sixth grade and a mother who was the only one of six children who graduated from high school.

When I took the second I.Q. test some 30 years later, I was living in Baltimore because my husband was a tenured professor at Johns Hopkins University. I had just completed a master’s degree and was thinking of applying for admission to a doctoral program."

My god, what a scientific opinion! Does anyone know the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientific studies anymore, or has reality TV fried our brains too much? Look, almost all psychologists have agreed that, at least for whites, IQ is 70-80% genetic, based on twin studies in different countries. That's old news.

I thought that the editorial, since it didn't discount the notion of IQ or the genetic determination of it, was a step forward. Apparently people have the need to continually bring out already debunked arguments against IQ.

Got to keep up the fight. The starving kids in Africa and the innocent children getting shot daily in our inner cities suffer because we're to afraid to confront the truth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never
Intelligence has more to do with your cultural values and motivation to study. My family will not tolerate academic slackers; therefore, I have a high IQ. If American blacks want to be dumb, that's their problem to address, but please do not mistaken me for one of them. I wonder what are the IQs of Emma Stone, Kim Kardahian, and Paris Hilton?