[Paleopsych] wealth and IQ

Marcel Roele mroele at hetnet.nl
Wed Jul 28 23:20:05 UTC 2004

Michael Christopher wrote:

>>>What is scientifically or morally wrong with
>gathering data on the correlation between IQ and
>national wealth?<<
>--I think the issue isn't so much the gathering of
>data but the methodology used, assumptions made about
>the validity of IQ tests, and the many assumptions
>made in interpreting data.

After a century's work, much has improved. Some critics, like the late 
Stephen Gould, prefered to ignore that.

>An IQ test measuring the ability to think in patterns
>may not be as neutral as you'd assume. People with
>number phobia are terrible at number series, even if
>they're intelligent enough to recognize patterns not
>involving numbers. An American might understand if he
>were forced to take an IQ test with abstract patterns
>represented by chinese or arabic characters. Lack of
>familiarity alone can produce confusion and
>dramatically alter performance. In addition,
>"stereotype threat" can cause problems, see this
>article and note the study in which white students had
>their scores drop when expectations were attached to

See above. However, Pygmalion effect (effect of expectations) is just 
0.5 IQ points (based on serious studies, not anecdotes).

>There was a study mentioned on CNN making a
>correlation between fear of hell and national wealth.
>Such studies get a lot of attention until someone
>points out the flaws, and there is always someone
>crying "political correctness!" when the validity of
>the studies is questioned. It's not that there can't
>be IQ differences among different populations, it's
>that there is so little critical thinking applied to
>the studies themselves.

I know, you'll always find a correlation when you work with one data set 
(cf influence of the moon on the digestic system of the unicorn - if I 
remember correctly). Working with 10.000s of them (as in the IQ 
business) correlations become well established. Question of causality 
remains. I disagree in one respect: the more politically incorrect the 
publication is, the more scrutiny is applied to it. While politically 
correct outcomes are often welcomed without any critical thinking.

All the best,


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