Tuesday, January 15, 2008

IQ and the Progressive Mindset

I'm going to explicitly list a bunch of caveats, but I'm still going to post the punchline...

1) Media reports of research are almost always wrong. Journalists hate how scientists write, and scientists hate how the media takes a subtle point and replaces it with a simpler, incorrect one. I haven't had a chance to read the original article, and it's certainly possible that the author of this post has misinterpreted something.

2) You might be willing to discount #1 a bit, as Wray Herbert is the designated blogger for the Association for Psychological Science. The APS is not as large or well known as the APA, but the APS consists entirely of researchers (unlike the APA, which tends to be dominated by clinicians). Many researchers belong to both. Unfortunately, however, Wray has (IMHO) had a tendency to occasionally fall into that same trap of making science accessible by turning it into something simpler and wrong not exactly correct.

3) IQ is a subject that causes quite a bit of controversy, and this write-up does a good job of making all the sloppy logic leaps that give opponents of the IQ measure fits. If you don't believe that A) "Intelligence" is a worthwhile construct, and B) IQ tests do a passable job of measuring that construct, you'll have issues with these findings.

4) Confirmatory Bias. Mine, yours, Wray's, the Scottish researchers', etc.

Having said all of that... A blogger at Psych Science reports that recent research in a highly respected journal indicates that IQ at age 10 predicts political philosophy at age 30, or as he says:

Not to put too fine a point on it: The smartest kids turned into the most broad-minded and progressive adults. For example, the most intelligent kids turned out 20 years later to be much more tolerant of other races. They were also much more supportive of working mothers, rejecting the notion that pre-school children will suffer without a stay-at-home mother. In general, the sharpest kids came to embrace much less traditional moral values and were much more apt to challenge authority. They were also much less cynical as adults, more trusting that the political system can do good.

How's that for a talking point?

4 comments:

Paul said...

It's sad to read such things, on many levels.

I think each of us make use of a constellation of beliefs and values that are unique. This constellation is shaped throughout life, first by experience, then by being told, and finally by independent consideration.

I see those constallations floating in space, and space is full of them. They collide with each other, and things happen.

If the makeup of the two constellations includes curiousity and flexibilily, there can be an exchange of ideas and some modification takes place in both constellations. But if just one of the constellations is set in ignorance, they bounce of each other and nothing happens.

I tend to think these constellations have controllable shields around them. You can go 'shields up' when encountering a constellation that you don't understand, or one that you've seen before and don't like. Trusting people are 'shields down' most of the time, suspicious people are 'shields up.'

After a while, the 'shields down' constellations (SD) group together because it's much more interesting than bouncing off ones with 'shields up' (SU) all the time.

But even the SDs start sorting themselves out into groups that 'look' alike. After a while, these smaller SD groups start saying things like "our group - the Purple constellations - is smart (because we say so), and because we tend to possess belief X in our constellations and the other SDs don't, they must be less smart." So the Purples begin to go SU except in the presence of other Purples.

Such arguments have been made throughout history. A friend of mine comes from a wealthy New England family who, with other like minded wealthy New Englanders, formed groups and funded research that supports that Negroes are mentally inferior and that the US would be better off by sending them all back to Africa. Fortunately my friend does carry this forward.

I don't know how exactly I would define intelligence. But I feel many confuse intelligence with wisdom. I think intelligence has something to do with processing power, while wisdom comes from a life of running 'shields down' and learning from one's encounters.

Pavlov said...

Negroes? What year is it, Paul, 1955?

Read a book. A waste is a terrible thing to mind.

Paul said...

That was their word selection, not mine. I should have quoted it to make that clear.

Check out www.nbpc.tv -- I'm honored to be a member of the Board of Directors.

I trust you are actually involved in making our world a better place, and not merely an arrogant critic.

PL

Pavlov said...

Paul--nothing personal, but this is what you wrote:

"A friend of mine comes from a wealthy New England family who, with other like minded wealthy New Englanders, formed groups and funded research that supports that Negroes are mentally inferior and that the US would be better off by sending them all back to Africa. Fortunately my friend does carry this forward."

Although I certainly believe you (despite my arrogance), it's more than quotation marks you were missing if you were intending to disavow your friend's attitudes in that post.