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?