Monday, September 14, 2020

Intelligence and Belief

A popular conception has grown up about IQ being meaningless as a measurement of intelligence. This view is held by various experts who study mind and things pertaining to it, as well as lay people. No great surprise that it is contradicted by experts who make IQ tests, It's what they do, Sure enough there's an article a friend of mine put me on to by an IQ researcher,Linda S. Gottfredson, who argues that most experts in the field see IQ as a valid predictor of intelligence and life success: "Intelligence as measured by IQ tests is the single most effective predictor known of individual performance at school and on the job. It also predicts many other aspects of well being, including a person’s chances of divorcing, dropping out of high school, being unemployed or having illegitimate children."[1]
I believe this is an example of what I call "the illusion of technique" and I understand it as an aspect of Marcuse's one-dimensional man,It is the limitation of human potential, it lends itself to exploitation, the commodification of intelligence. In the final analysis they may prove they are measuring something but not necessarily intelligence.

Researchers have tried to isolate a single factor which they call "g" that stands for "general intelligence," they claim to find it in any statistical variation the charts success and achievement.

By now the vast majority of intelligence researchers take these findings for granted. Yet in the press and in public debate, the facts are typically dismissed, downplayed or ignored. This misrepresentation reflects a clash between a deeply felt ideal and a stubborn reality. The ideal, implicit in many popular critiques of intelligence research, is that all people are born equally able and that social inequality results only from the exercise of unjust privilege. The reality is that Mother Nature is no egalitarian. People are in fact unequal in intellectual potential—and they are born that way, just as they are born with different potentials for height, physical attractiveness, artistic flair, athletic prowess and other traits. Although subsequent experience shapes this potential, no amount of social engineering can make individuals with widely divergent mental aptitudes into intellectual equals..[2]

I think it's fair to say that some people are smarter than others, I think it's fair to say that intelligence helps one in whatever one does, so that any measurement of success is probably to some extent bound up with intelligence in some way.The one major exception of course is Donald Trump who is both an idiot and highly skilled in certain ways. Yet this is still not the same as saying that IQ measures intelligence. It's also not the same as saying that if one is successful it's a measurement of being smart, necessarily. Nor is failure a measurement of stupidity.

My major reason for the view I hold really comes down to the failure of IQ testes to regard discursive reasoning or indeed reason itself, as a sign of intelligence, If you crunch numbers you are smart, if you read philosophy and don't crunch numbers you are not smart, according to the testers. But the testers are by definition number cruncher. So they are using themselves as the final standardized by which they define intelligence. Why would working mathematics be intelligence any more than discussing Hegel? Granted both involve intelligence, but is the one who works math well and can't seem to get the negation of the negation or the sublation of dialectic still smart but the Hegel scholar who doesn't excel at math less so? The lesser mathematician will have lower IQ because math figures in the test, that doesn't prove it's measuring intelligence. What it proves is that they gear the test to objective measures (you can't prove you are right about Hegel like you can math) but are they measures of intelligence? I suspect that they are really measuring a complex amalgam of things involving drive, ambition, technical profession, mathematical reasoning and intelligence. The variables are too complex to include all the psychological factors so they level it out with mathematical scores, That means mathematical ability will determine the end result.

Math is not the only problem, the view of intelligence enshrined in the test is really about cultural absorption. They are effect measuring cultural literacy. One of the major disproofs of the validity of IQ tests is a phenomenon known as the "Flynn effect." This is a disproof becuase it indicates that IQ not fixed, it rises with time and that what is being measured is actually not intelligence but cultural literacy.

Multiple studies have documented significant IQ gains over time, a phenomenon labeled the Flynn effect. Data from 20 industrialized nations show massive IQ gains over time, most notably in culturally reduced tests like the Raven's Progressive Matrices. To our knowledge, however, this is the first study to document the Flynn effect in a rural area of a developing country. Data for this project were collected during two large studies in Embu, Kenya, in 1984 and 1998. Results strongly support a Flynn effect over this 14-year period, with the most significant gains found in Raven's matrices. Previously hypothesized explanations (e.g., improved nutrition; increased environmental complexity; and family, parental, school, and methodological factors) for the Flynn effect are evaluated for their relevance in this community, and other potential factors are reviewed. The hypotheses that resonate best with our findings are those related to parents' literacy, family structure, and children's nutrition and health.[3] Flynn argues that our ancestors were not dumber. He rules out better nutrition or knowing the tests better. The bias of the test is such that a kind of technological imperialism is imposed upon the masses.

Flynn cites a hypothetical, but typical, test question: “How are rabbits and dogs alike?” Answers such as “both destroy gardens,” “both are dinner in some countries and pets in others,” or “you can use dogs to hunt rabbits” are true, but the response the IQ testers want is “both are mammals.” The question tests not knowledge of the world or of functional relationships but mastery of particular abstract concepts, which the test makers have themselves internalized as trained scientific professionals and literate intellectuals.[4]

The tests reward problem solving that reflects a bias toward the technological sort of thinking. IQ tests also reward certain problem- solving abilities—what Flynn calls “problems not solvable by mechanical application of a learned method.” He cites tests of similarities and analogies, and pattern-completion tests, such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices. In the latter, each question is a series of line drawings followed by a collection of drawings from which the test taker must pick the one that completes the sequence. When J. C. Raven developed the test in 1936, he claimed it measured the ability to discover patterns, which was for him the essence of intelligence. Raven’s test is often said (without good evidence) to suffer little or no cultural bias. Yet it is on tests of this type that the Flynn effect is strongest; gains in IQ scores of at least 5 points per decade have been seen. In the Netherlands, for decades all 18-year-old males drafted into the military were given the test, and those who took it in 1982 scored 20 points higher than those who had taken it in 1952.[5] Gottfredson tries to argue against this kind of criticism:

Some critics of intelligence research maintain that the notion of general intelligence is illusory: that no such global mental capacity exists and that apparent “intelligence” is really just a by-product of one’s opportunities to learn skills and information valued in a particular cultural context. True, the concept of intelligence and the way in which individuals are ranked according to this criterion could be social artifacts. But the fact that g is not specific to any particular domain of knowledge or mental skill suggests that g is independent of cultural content, including beliefs about what intelligence is. And tests of different social groups reveal the same continuum of general intelligence. This observation suggests either that cultures do not construct g or that they construct the same g. Both conclusions undercut the social artifact theory of intelligence. This doesn't answer the Flynn effect argument. "But the fact that g is not specific to any particular domain of knowledge or mental skill suggests that g is independent of cultural content," That does not mean that the test is not biased along the lines of thought categories such as science, g is not specific to any particular domain but if it is biased in favor of cultural literary it can fail to measure certain intelligent responses because they don't fit the categories. All cultures have cloistral categories it's going to show up in all of them,

Some have asked "if IQ tests are not predicting intelligence, or at least not fixed, unalterably, heritable standard of intelligence, what do they predict?" The Flynn effect give us one answer, cultural literacy. Another answer is academic motivation. That is not necessarily a marker for intelligence, since a bright student can be turned off from the process of learning or trying. Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and her team, conducted two studies; they did a meta analysis of 46 previous studies, the effect of monetary incentive's on IQ scores."...the effect of financial rewards on IQ scores increased dramatically the higher the reward: Thus rewards higher than $10 produced g values of more than 1.6 (roughly equivalent to more than 20 IQ points), whereas rewards of less than $1 were only one-tenth as effective."[6]

Duckworth's second study involved data from an earlier study, following 500 boys age 12, tested in the late 80s, they were video tapes and signs of boredom and lack of motivation were observed. The study was longitudinal, following the boys into early adulthood. There were no difference in IQ or other factors between the boys.

Duckworth's team analyzed the results of these earlier studies to see what they said about the relationship between motivation, IQ scores, and life success. By constructing a series of computer models of the data, the team found that higher motivation accounted for a significant amount of the differences in IQ scores and also in how well IQ predicted later success in life. For example, differences in motivation levels accounted for up to 84% of the differences between the boys in how many years of school they had completed or whether they had been able to find a job. On the other hand, motivation differences accounted for about only 25% of the differences in how well they had done in school as teenagers. According to the researchers, that suggests that native intelligence does still play an important role in both IQ scores and academic achievement. Nevertheless, the Duckworth team concludes that IQ tests are measuring much more than just raw intelligence--they also measure how badly subjects want to succeed both on the test and later in life. Yet Duckworth and her colleagues caution that motivation isn't everything: The lower role for motivation in academic achievement, they write, suggests that "earning a high IQ score requires high intelligence in addition to high motivation."[7]

This finding of course raises the question does this mean that those with high intelligence will score low on the test if they are not motivated? That test scores fluctuate at different times in your life would seem to be proof that IQ doesn't measure a fixed unalterable course. Take a book reviewed by NYT book review in 1998, published by Brookings Institue, the work shows that test scores between black and white narrow only a bit since 1970 but "the typical American black still scores below 75 percent of American whites on most standardized tests. On some tests the typical American black scores below more than 85 percent of whites?" Yet no genetic aspect has ever been discovered that would indicate that blacks are any less intelligent than whites. As a matter of fact when black children are raised in white homes their per-adolescent test scores rise dramatically (that also goes for mixed race children). Black adoptee test scores fall in adolescents. [8] I would actually predict that, since at that time the difference in racial make up of the family becomes more acute (I base that upon the experience of relatives). That could be a motivational issue. Moreover, the findings reported above by Nisbet shows the IQ gap bewteen blacks and whites has narrowed a lot more since 98.

--Even nonverbal IQ scores are sensitive to environmental change. Scores on nonverbal IQ tests have risen dramatically throughout the world since the 1930s. The average white scored higher on the Stanford-Binet in 1978 than 82 percent of whites who took the test in 1932. Such findings reinforce the implications of adoption studies: large environmental changes can have a large impact on test performance.

--Black-white differences in academic achievement have also narrowed throughout the twentieth century. The best trend data come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has been testing seventeen-year-olds since 1971 and has repeated many of the same items year after year. Figure 1-2 shows that the black-white reading gap narrowed from 1.25 standard deviations in 1971 to 0.69 standard deviations in 1996. The math gap fell from 1.33 to 0.89 standard deviations. When Min-Hsiung Huang and Robert Hauser analyzed vocabulary scores for adults born between 1909 and 1969, the black-white gap also narrowed by half.[9]

Some scientists attribute the difference in IQ between men and women to motivation. Males surpass females by average of 3.6 IQ pionts, but more males decide to go to college than females. William and Mary psychologist Bruce Bracken thinks this is a good argument for linking motivation to the test score. [10]

I don't doubt that there is a general intelligence, and I can see the benefit in a concrete measure for it. That does not mean that IQ tests are that measure. We should use and put weight on reading and understanding ideas more so than on working quizzes. As long we use technique to make that measure it's going to be exploited and used to oppress.


[1] Linda S. Gottfredson, "The General Intelligence Factor," Scientific American,(no month indicated) 1998, 24-29 , 24. from the PDF version,URL: (accessed 3/14/17).

LINDA S. GOTTFREDSON is professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware

another online version here:

[2] Ibid., 24.

[3] Tamra C. Daley,et al "IQ on the Rise, the Flynn effect Rural Kenyon Children." Psychological Science: A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science. vol. 14, no. 3, (May, 2003) 215-219.on line version accessed 8/16/13

co authors include: Shannon E. Whaley2,Marian D. Sigman1,2,Michael P. Espinosa2 andCharlotte Neumann3

[4] Cosma Shalizi, "The Domestication of the Savage Mind," Book Rview of What is Intelligence, Beyond the Flynn Effect, by James Flynn, in American Scientist, Vol. 97, no. 3 (May-June, 2009) 244. on line version: accessed 8/16/13. Cosma Shalizi is an assistant professor in the statistics department at Carnegie Mellon University and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He is writing a book on the statistical analysis of complex systems models. His blog, Three-Toed Sloth, can be found at

[5] Ibid.

3,4,5 = 10,11,12

[6] Angela Duckwork in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, quoted by Balter op.cit.

[7] Ibid.

[8] New York Times book review, The Black and White Test score Gap, edited by Christopher Jenks and Meredith Philips. Washington DC: Bookings Institution Press. 1998. New York Times online accessed 8/17/13.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Jeanna Bryner,"Men Smarter than Women Scientists Claim," Live Science, sept 8, 2006. On line resource or blog: accessed 8/17/13

posted elsewhere by me a:"g whiz I used to be smart,"


Jesse said...

Hello Mr. Hinman,

What's up? I was wondering what you thought of this "documentary:"

I do not request that you watch even half of it...But if you can muster what this commentator says, I wonder what your thoughts are about it?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Let me tell you how I feel. Nothing any atheist can say can make me doubt the Lord. I have heart the best arguments by the greatest thinkers. My PhD is in history of ideas, none of the great thinkers or great ideas have caused me to doubt Christ. Not logic, or facts, or hardship, or danger, or trails, none of that makes me feel like giving up the faith.

The one thing that makes me doubt the truth of Christianity is when I see Christians hawking mindless fear mongering propaganda like that pack of lies. Unscrupulous mountebanks use that swill to capture mindless people and control them through fear. When I see Christians pushing that I do think how can Christianity be true when they are so stupid? I have to remember Jesus indicated the elect might be deceived.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Did you know 11% of evangelicals who voted for Trump have seen through his lies and will vote for bidden now. That means the Trumpies are getting desperate so they will say anything.

Jesse said...

I wasn't parroting that around as I was asking your opinion.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

sorry but that is my opinion. Biden is no socialist anyone who says that is seeking to control through fear mongering.

JBsptfn said...

My sister's friend came over a few nights ago, and we Chrome-casted the RNC and Trump's speech on our TV from her phone. At one point, FOX News (or the Faux News Channel) was saying that the Democrats are destroying the country. They didn't provide any reasons or facts. I don't think that would be allowed 45-50 years ago.

Before Reagan, you couldn't show one side of the story on the news. Since he got in office, it became possible, and that divides the people more.

That is a reason why I don't vote (we had a discussion about this before, and I noticed that you posted it on your political blog). Both sides try to divide the people, and at the end of the day, we suffer. At some point, we have to be about us, not the politicians.

Another reason why I don't vote is that I came to realize that a lot of those politicians are about power and money. They don't set a Godly example. The Republicans try to tell me that Trump is a Christian, but that is a clear lie (I don't know why they believe such nonsense). I don't think that we are supposed to honor people like that. That is why I side with groups like Become Ungovernable and the Yellow Vests, and I think that we should have our soverignty.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

that is so stupid. That's like saying the police are trying to catch criminals, I don't support either side because they both use guns. Or I dont' support either side in WWII the allies use armies so they are just like Hitler.

By not voting you are actively helping the fascists destroy democracy. this is the end of America it's the most important election in our history. say goodbye to your freedom stupid!

Line is in the sand if you are not fighting for democracy you are fighting for fascism.

JBsptfn said...

It's not stupid. Think about it: If people did not vote at all (or, if we have a low enough turnout), maybe the Boards of Directors for the corporations that give money to these candidates would think twice about continuing their investment in this political system:

Obstruct the Vote: Our Philosophy

I know that what I talk about seems pretty outlandish to you (and a lot of other Americans), but if we want to have a future without technocracy and loss of freedom, it won't come by voting, I can promise you that.

I am not here to argue (just letting you know. Your response was pretty strong). I am just a concerned citizen that sees hard times ahead if we keep doing what they want us to do.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Never in history had a dictator just gone away because people stepped voting. the one sure way for evil to win is for good to do nothing,

JBsptfn said...

Good point (about evil). However, voting isn't the something that we should do. That won't stop evil (even though I know you are passionate about getting rid of the orange-haired scourge).

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

voting directly effects lives. voting = policies = lives; Imperative to keep bad policy makers out of office.

JBsptfn said...

Sorry you feel that way. Also, sorry that a lot of Americans feel that way. It's too bad that nobody's vote actually matters in the end. They will rig elections the way they see fit.

Also, one last point before I go: Americans have to stop turning their brains off when it comes to politics and politicians. A lot of them blindly watch the Faux News Channel or the Crap News Network and blindly believe what they are told.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

you are right about that JB

Anonymous said...

"voting directly effects lives. voting = policies = lives; Imperative to keep bad policy makers out of office."

Yep, which is why we ought to keep the Democrats out of office. Vote them out. They've proved themselves to not be reliable and authoritarain socialits.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

that is an idiotic view point, The Dems aren't even in power, since they don't have the senate or the executive branch. your stupid assertion that Dems are socialist, you wouldn't know sickliest if he nationalized your wheat,

JBsptfn said...

Oh, boy. I have heard that a lot from Republicans (what Anonymous was saying). They probably don't know what Socialism is (to be fair, it usually isn't well defined, as John Spritzler of PDRBoston points out):

PDRBoston: Socialism

And, when they use a failed example of Socialism, they always talk about Venezuela. Also, they seem to be afraid of people getting free stuff. I was out working for the Census recently, and I was outside talking to this one guy about his property. He was talking to another guy, and they were talking about how people will want free stuff and not want to work if Biden was in there. WTF?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

o m G