"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, March 07, 2019

Conceptual objections to IQ testing

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"

"Instead of collecting loads of data and running factual analysis to see where the patterns in the data lie, which is what generally people in the world of intelligence do, Gardner has kind of come up with these things which he kind of thinks are intelligence... a lot of these involve things which we wouldn't necessarily consider intellectual abilities.

So a lot of them can involve things like personality. So, for instance something like emotional intelligence — clearly there's going to be like an analytic intellectual aspect to that. Which is your speed at understanding other people's emotions, and your ability to represent their mental states. Some people are going to be better at doing that then others.But also there's an aspect of personality in there. An aspect of how much you like talking to other people, and how much you can intuitively empathize with other people, and so on.

So, it seems to me that there's a useful separation between the analytic type stuff and the personality type stuff. Those are kind of the two prongs of individual differences in psychology. There's intelligence on one hand, and there's personality on the other.

Emotional intelligence is kind of like a perfect mix-up of the two of them, in a way. It kind of includes aspects of both.I think it's probably more useful to talk about them separately. In fact, there are studies showing that once you take into account personality, as measured on personality tests, and intelligence as measured on IQ tests, emotional intelligence doesn't predict much more of people's job performance and so on. So it's a kind of combination of the two of those...

No matter what people come up with, no matter what kind of cognitive skill they try to measure or test, it’s correlated with other cognitive abilities. People have deliberately tried to come up with new cognitive tests that don't correlate with IQ. As I say, I know there are some that have better or worse g-loadings, that is, their correlations with the general factor. But, in general that's really, really difficult to do. You can't find cognitive abilities that aren't related in some way to g. It just gets into everything...

'People say things like, "Well, if you get better IQ tests, then that means that the IQ test is not measuring intelligence." Sure, but some people are gonna be able to practice the tests more efficiently, and that might be something that we might want to call intelligence.'

'Yeah, I think a useful thing to do with all of these conceptual objections to IQ tests is to try to apply those same objections to other things besides intelligence.Like physical fitness, for example, has a bunch of different components that are correlated but distinct, you know? Like running speed or upper body strength, or things like that. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's meaningless to talk about physical fitness as a general thing.

And then also, in this case, with practice you can get better at the long jump, or you motivation ... or energy levels might vary from day to day. That doesn't mean that there isn't a core underlying thing that it's meaningful to call “physical fitness,” that we could measure across multiple days, et cetera.'...

[The Flynn effect] doesn't really say anything about the actual ability of IQ tests to tell us something about peoples' cognitive abilities or peoples' success in daily life, because it's a mean level effect. There's still variation. And the variation in IQ, if you imagine the sort of ... the normal curve ... the Bell Curve of intelligence. The Flynn Effect is simply that curve shifting along to the right as the generations go on. There are many explanations that have been put forward for this: better nutrition, more effective schooling, better healthcare, and so on. There's lots of different reasons why the Flynn Effect might be occurring and both of the societal and kind of biological or nutritional level.That doesn't say anything about the actual size of the variation around that mean. So that mean is increasing, but there's still variation, and that variation still tells you that people who are at the high end of that normal curve of intelligence are, on average, are gonna be the ones that do better at school, that better at the jobs, that live longer ...

You know, there's evidence of IQ being linked to longer life span... think about other traits that have increased. Your height has increased across the 20th century. People got taller and taller. Probably for similar reasons. You know, the nutritional reasons, for instance, that might have stopped the kids being stunted and so on, and generally increased height across even healthy people. It doesn't say anything about whether height is heritable, to make the observation that height has increased across the 20th century...

The constellation of evidence that we've got, not just from twin studies but now these days from DNA as well, from direct testing of DNA, shows that the twin studies were really on the right track all along.Nowadays, we have evidence where we can take people who are completely unrelated, or as unrelated as any randomly selected humans are, and give them a DNA array that checks the variation at maybe 400,000 or 600,000 points in the DNA, and give them an IQ test. And essentially say, "Are the people who are more similar in their DNA more similar in their intelligence?" That gives a positive heritability number as well. So you get a good chunk of the variation is associated with the genetic differences...

You can learn a lot about a subject by looking at how it has gone wrong, or it has been misconceived. In the same way that — I think Gould actually uses this example — you can learn a huge amount about evolution from watching a debate with creationists. Creationists are saying all these things, and then biologists come in and say why they're wrong. I find that really fascinating and an engaging way to learn new stuff. Ironically, you can learn a lot about IQ tests from learning what Gould himself got wrong."
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