Discourse on IQ

What you may misunderstand about what is tested.

The Sunday reads for our Discourse on IQ.

Hope you are staying safe and sane. I am now coming to you from New England where everyone seems to be perpetually cranky about mask wearing - including runners who are nowhere near other humans, but no masks are available for purchase. Damned all the way around.

I applaud the cottage industry that has sprung up to respond to the need for masks, but seriously . . . some reasonable judgment folks. Corduroy does not a summer mask make. I waited two weeks to get a linen mask purchased via Amazon . . . it was lined with 2 layers of corduroy. So much for “lightweight” masks.

What do IQ Tests Test

This summary is an interview with Psychologist W. Joel Schneider who gives a balanced and nuanced explanation of IQ testing. He even address the question, “Which do you think is more important, high IQ or high intellectual curiosity?”

If you have doubts about validity or have been overly proud or disappointed of your/your child’s performance on an IQ test, this is a must read. What Do IQ Tests Test?  

Even though the meaning of athletic varies depending on context, its meaning is still constrained to refer to skills in physical activities such as sports. Just because athleticism is a folk concept, it does not mean that it has no biological determinants. It just means that there will never be a single list of biological determinants of athleticism that apply to everyone to the same degree in all situations.

Why can't we talk about IQ?

There is a large discrepancy between what educated laypeople believe about cognitive science and what experts actually know. Journalists are steeped in the lay wisdom, so they are repeatedly surprised when someone forthrightly discusses the real science of mental ability.

If that science happens to deal with group differences in average IQ, the journalists’ surprise turns into shock and disdain. Experts who speak publicly about IQ differences end up portrayed as weird contrarians at best, and peddlers of racist pseudoscience at worst.

At stake here, incidentally, is not just knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but also how science informs public policy.

The Controversy on Immigration

Jason Richwine’s PhD thesis titled: IQ and Immigration Policy caused great fervor when unearthed by the broader media during the debate on the Border Security Modernization Act of 2013. Here’s a snippet of his summary.

The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.


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