IQ Crime-Stop

‘Eldritch’ comments at Scott Alexander’s place:

I think the actual argument against IQ is this:
1. Intelligence is a measure of your value as a person in a wide range of situations.
2. IQ supposedly measures intelligence.
3. IQ may not be significantly changeable.
4. Therefore, this test lets you measure the innate aptitude and this value of a person.
5. Therefore, this could be used to prove I am inherently less valuable than other people.
7. Therefore, IQ is wrong.

I’m pretty sure this is the real argument against IQ, and most arguments against it are simply attempts to find arguments that fit this conclusion.

My only significant quibble with this construction concerns point #5, which massively underestimates the predominance of pathological altruism / social terror in the IQ ‘debate’. The possibility that IQ measurements could make other people seem in some awkward way inferior is a far more powerful deterrent than anything it could say about oneself. (The probability that someone is going to say something stupid about IQ has a striking positive correlation with IQ.)

The post itself makes a (wholly superfluous) strong argument for the robust realism of the g concept. If you’re the kind of crime-stopped idiot who needs persuading about it, you’re almost certainly beyond persuasion. The relevant fork in the road has already been passed. Rationalists find it strangely hard to grasp that simple fact. They’re nice that way.

ADDED: Dear Prudence.

August 12, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations


20 Responses to this entry

  • Alrenous Says:

    The correlation coefficient between genes and IQ is something like 0.8. (Barring injury.)

    The correlation coefficient between IQ and epistemic competence is something like 0.2. Having a lot of androgens makes it easy to bulk up, but to actually bulk up you have to work out.


    Thales Reply:

    But if you don’t, you’ll never really bulk-up regardless of work outs.


    Alrenous Reply:

    How dumb does a human have to be to fail to be Turing complete, do you suppose?

    I’ve met two. One had a head injury from a car accident. Another had a head injury from booze, as he was a bum.


    Posted on August 12th, 2014 at 12:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    To point out the extreme case, the people most likely to abort Down’s babies are probably also most upset by IQ; those who keep their Down’s baby obviously do not believe IQ is the full measure of a man. I think the scary thing about IQ, for progressives, is the train of logic it unleashes. Even the white nationalists simply want separation, but progressive logic may go much farther.


    Posted on August 12th, 2014 at 12:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scott Alexander Says:

    I think your summary is importantly wrong. It’s not an argument for g, it’s an argument that IQ claims don’t stand or fall on g being a real factor (which is a much stronger claim). This might make some of your subsequent mockery less relevant.


    Jaymo Reply:

    I don’t really care enough to determine the actual shape of this debate, or whatever it is, however, I do read all the articles and comments posted here at Outside In. And I am quite sure I have not seen Scott Alexander respond here often, if ever.

    Perhaps there is something to be gleaned from that.


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    He comments here occasionally. Usually when mentioned, but sometimes not.


    admin Reply:

    I turned over the possibility of being more nuanced about this — but decided that the difference you’re wanting to defend here is entirely sophistical (unless you have an argument for why the robust usefulness of a g-equivalent concept should tell us nothing about the ‘reality’ of g). As cognitive trauma therapy for the politically correct, it’s magnificently achieved. You understand though, surely, why the need for this kind of packaging for an overwhelmingly well-established scientific concept is not intuitively appreciated on the dark side?


    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    If you had a device that could measure Midichloreans. And that device predicted ability to manipulate The Force in individuals far better than random chance, then you might be forgiven for doubting the existence of Midichloreans, but not the efficacy of the device.


    admin Reply:

    Is ‘g’ like Midichloreans? Or is it just the abstract capability to manipulate the force?

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    I have no idea, but I wouldn’t wanna go up against the some dude with a high reading in light saber fight.

    Scott Alexander Reply:

    Talking about ‘g’ commits you to a lot of very complicated statistical claims about factor analysis that have very little to do with social science or real-world outcomes. There are a lot of extremely smart people who think that the factor analysis used to produce the ‘g’ factor is flawed. The classic example is g, A Statistical Myth by universally recognized very-smart-person Cosma Shalizi. I cannot tell if his argument is correct, but it is certainly a legitimately open debate.

    On the other hand, the usefulness of IQ and the social science implications thereof are *not* really a legitimately open debate, as I am sure I do not have to explain to you.

    The entire point of my post was to say that while we should wait for people much smarter than we are with statistics Ph. Ds to figure out the factor analysis side of things so they can tell us things about ‘g’, that doesn’t affect our ability to use IQ to understand things about social science and genetics.

    The alternative position, and the one that the enemies of IQ research are going to take, is to try to collapse ‘g’ and IQ research together, so that they can selectively quote smart people as saying there is legitimate debate around ‘g’, then twist that to mean there is legitimate debate around IQ as a whole.

    (in the metaphorical language of the post, this would be equating the existence of comaleukin to the existence of comas. If somebody wants to deny comas for some reason, it would be in their best interest to demand people who think comas exist prove the existence of comaleukin, which is both very hard and totally unnecessary for the question at hand)

    So when you conflate ‘g’ with all of IQ research, you are making your opponents’ lives easier and shooting yourself in the foot.


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    If you abandon g for IQ then someone says “Flynn effect – therefore 21st century 75 IQ morons are the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci”.

    There are no easy answers for persuading people who choose to not be open to persuasion.

    Posted on August 12th, 2014 at 12:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • prof. Challenger Says:

    Here’s the thing, though.

    I’ve recently made the point in a private discussion group that if we were to accept #1, a number of hatefacts follow– but #1 is at best a theoretical interpretation of psychometric data. I was booed as affirming the metaphysical veracity of hatefacts themselves.

    Progressivism doesn’t seem to be willing to give up on #1 — g-factor, fluid intelligence, generalized ability or whatever you may want to call it. And my cynical answer to progressives (I’m just a Cathedral bench boy) is “god, people, focus on deconstructing #1, affirm the multiplicity of skill and capacity. But no, nene, no.

    This is a remarkable double bind. Progressivism – or at least certain opinion-forming varieties of it – seem to want to adhere to Very Sad Theories like g-factor but not want to deal with the hatefacts that follow from as empirical consequences.

    A notorious exception may be the feminists that argued that formalist computer science instruction, based on predicate calculi, doesn’t fit “women’s learning styles”, who want to be doing things in practice with examples. But this is actually rare.


    Posted on August 12th, 2014 at 1:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • ReactionaryFerret Says:

    So, the argument is that, despite being potentially factually correct, it’s mean and scary; therefore it’s wrong.


    admin Reply:

    That does seem to be it. (Have to give Eldritch credit for being so forthcoming on the topic.)


    Alrenous Reply:

    @admin +1


    Proggies are all about changing norms, blank slate and all that. I’ve never met a proggie that will consider advocating the alteration of the intelligence-social status link. It’s always about how the science is wrong, not the social constructs that make the facts unkind.


    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Blank slate norms make the academic achievement of the prog MORE meritorious (holy). Even in my neo-con days I found the meme of pull yerself up by hard work and discipline attractive… because it made my OWN (relative) success even more admirable. “If I can do it, so can you!” In my case it was easier to believe because I was prole (no ancestors had ever been to college, both parents worked working class jobs). Now I have to admit, yeah, I do okay just due to dumb luck.

    (Still no idea where my, modest in these circles, IQ came from. And in case yer wondering, I’m the spitting image of my father at the same age.)


    Posted on August 12th, 2014 at 4:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Michael Says:

    surely there’s a multiplicity of traits some of them not even hateful.
    willingness to die for ones tribe and the ability to exact a dear price from the tribes enemies

    willingness to accept one place in the tribe be it humble or exalted willing to live for the tribe

    willingness to bear children and raise them new life for the tribe

    and I think there are a lot of average people that do things we could not live without
    entertainers artists artisans are not always that bright farmers nurses and various servants can all be average and it would be a poor world without them. children are not so bright and are a delight women too.

    but more specifically ones IQ is only part of the GQ ones potential IQ the potential one has in in ones tribe to produce the next genius, while your chances of having bright kids go up with your IQ the numbers predict the greater pool of average IQ tribe members will produce far more outliers while your high IQ progeny will eventually revert to the mean


    Posted on August 13th, 2014 at 12:05 am Reply | Quote
  • Lightning ROund – 2014/08/13 | Free Northerner Says:

    […] On intelligence and comas. Related: The actual argument against IQ. […]

    Posted on August 13th, 2014 at 6:01 am Reply | Quote

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