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Apr 22 2013

There are no marching morons

For some random reason, this post from the Scienceblogs era Pharyngula, “There are no marching morons“, is getting some sudden attention, so I thought I’d bring it here. Most people have probably never heard of Kornbluth, or read The Marching Morons, but now you can! It’s on scribd, or you can just read the summary on wikipedia. The modern reference is of course, Idiocracy, and I suspect a lot of you have seen it.

I detest Idiocracy, too, and cringe when people bring it up. It’s nonsense. It’s the same failure to recognize that reality is not a possession of the elite that you find in eugenics. Idiocracy and Marching Morons is what you get when smart people are unable to recognize their common humanity with others — when you sneer at whole classes and regard them as inferior breeders.

But onward: here’s the original post. Surprisingly, since NatGeo hosed most of the comments when they transfered the site to WordPress, it looks like a lot of the comments on this article survived, too.


I was sent a link to this editorial by the science-fiction writer, Ben Bova. I like part of the sentiment, where he’s arguing that it’s worth the effort to try and change the world, but a substantial part of it bugs me.

The most prescient — and chilling — of all the science fiction stories ever written, though, is “The Marching Morons,” by Cyril M. Kornbluth, first published in 1951. It should be required reading in every school on Earth.

The point that Kornbluth makes is simple, and scary: dumbbells have more children than geniuses. In “The Marching Morons” he carries that idea to its extreme, but logical, conclusion.

Kornbluth tells of a future world that is overrun with dummies: men and women who don’t know anything beyond their own shallow personal interests. They don’t know how their society works, or who is running it. All they care about is their personal — and immediate — gratification.

I detest “The Marching Morons.”

Bova gives an accurate summary; it’s also the primary plot point of the movie Idiocracy. It’s also the premise behind eugenics and behind a lot of right-wing phony elitism. It’s wrong. It was a very popular story, but the reason isn’t complimentary: it fed into a strain of self-serving smugness in science-fiction fandom, the idea that people who read SF are special and brilliant and superior, we are the technological geniuses and far-seeing futurists, while the mundanes leech off our vision. The eugenics movement built on the same us-vs.-them mentality, that there are superiors and inferiors, and the inferiors breed like cockroaches.

The most troubling part of it all is the attempt to root the distinction in biology—it’s intrinsic. “They” are lesser beings than “us” because, while their gonads work marvelously well, their brains are inherently less capacious and their children are born with less ability. It’s the kind of unwarranted labeling of people that leads to decisions like “three generations of imbeciles are enough“—bigotry built on bad biology to justify suppression by class.

People, they are us.

There are no grounds to argue that there are distinct subpopulations of people with different potentials for intelligence. Genes flow fluidly — if you sneer at the underclass and think your line is superior, I suspect you won’t have to go back very many generations to find your stock comes out of that same seething mob. Do you have any Irish, or Jewish, or Italian, or Native American, or Asian, or whatever (literally—it’s hard to find any ethnic origin that wasn’t despised at some time) in your ancestry? Go back a hundred years or so, and your great- or great-great-grandparents were regarded as apes or subhumans or mentally deficient lackeys suitable only for menial labor.

Are you staring aghast at the latest cluster of immigrants in this country, are you fretting that they’re breeding like rabbits? That generation of children will be the people your kids grow up with, go to school with, date, and marry. It may take a while, but eventually, your line will merge with theirs. Presuming you propagate at all, your genes are destined to disperse into that great living pool of humanity. Get used to it.

Furthermore, intelligence is an incredibly plastic property of the brain. You can nurture it or you can squelch it — the marching morons will birth children with as much potential as a pair of science-fiction geeks, and all that will matter is how well that mind is encouraged to grow. Even a few centuries is not enough to breed stupidity into a natural population of humans — that brain power may lay fallow and undernourished, but there isn’t enough time nor enough pressure to make substantial changes in the overall genetics of the brain.

That’s where the Kornbluth story fails. It assumes the morons are unchangeably moronic, and treats the elite as unchangeably special. The only solution to their problem is to get rid of the morons, launching them into space to die. Bova’s editorial, while not as cynically eliminationist, still pretends that the only answer is perpetuation of a distinction that doesn’t exist biologically.

Here’s the real solution to the “marching moron” problem: teach them. Give them fair opportunities. Open the door to education for all. They have just as much potential as you do. Bova complains that people aren’t willing to work for change, but this is exactly where we can work to improve minds — but we won’t if we assume the mob is hopeless.

I have to confess to taking these kinds of stories personally. My family was probably what would be called the working poor nowadays, when I was growing up I was called white trash more than a few times, and yes, I come from a large family. My parents did not have the educational opportunities I did, but they were smart and self-taught and made sensible, practical choices in their life, and they cared to give all of their kids a chance. I can testify from personal experience that if there’s a problem, it’s not in ability — it’s in a culture that dismisses broad swathes of the population because of who their families are, or how much money they make, and perpetuates inequities of opportunity on the basis of bigotry and classism.


I knew this article would bring out the pseudoscientific advocates of facile genetics, and there they are, already babbling away in the comments.

I know there are constraints on intelligence; there is individual variation in capacity, and there are almost certainly some biological bases for that, and also for differences in the kind of intelligence individuals express. This isn’t about that. It’s about whether there are significant differences in the distribution of the genetic constraints on human intelligence between subpopulations, and whether we are justified in writing off segments of our population as incurable morons whose progeny are similarly tainted. I say no to both.

You’d be hard-pressed to argue that the diverse groups marked by ethnic and class distinctions in the U.S. even count as distinct populations in any biological sense. There are social barriers to breeding, but they are sufficiently porous that over the course of time needed to set up genetic differences that matter, they’re negligible.

The other premise of the marching morons scenario, that the underclass would sink deeper and deeper into stupidity, is completely absurd. There aren’t any human subcultures that don’t value problem-solving and cleverness, where apathy and dull-wittedness are desirable traits in a mate (again, there are individuals who are contrary, but we’re talking about populations here.) Growing up, I experienced that social pressure that makes getting good grades in school a problem for fitting in with a certain peer group — but that isn’t about despising intelligence, it’s about conforming to the trappings of your group and not adopting the markers of another class, especially when that class has a habit of treating you like dirt and talking abstractly about how to expunge you, your family, and your friends from the gene pool.

And no, eating brie, going to Harvard, and reading the Wall Street Journal are not indicators of ability — they are properties of class. Drinking beer, learning a trade, and reading Sports Illustrated doesn’t mean you’re dumber, or that there are genes driving your choices — it means you are the product of a particular environment. Yet we all practice this fallacy of judging someone’s intelligence by how they dress or their entertainment preferences, and society as a whole indulges in the self-fulfilling prophecy of doling out educational opportunities on the basis of economic status.

There are mobs of stupid people out there. Sterilizing them or shipping them off to Venus won’t change a thing, though, no matter how effective your elimination procedures are, because you’ll just breed more from the remaining elite stock. Similarly, lining up the elites against the wall won’t change the overall potential of the population — new elites will arise from the common stock. The answer is always going to be education and opportunity and mobility. That’s what’s galling about Kornbluth’s story, that it is so one-dimensional, and the proposed solution is a non-solution.

304 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin

    How about being a fundamentalist Christian? Some of them are … well … they certainly fit somewhere along a bell-shaped curve of intelligence.

  2. 2
    iiandyiiii

    I enjoyed Idiocracy for the funny, but I recognize that it is completely unscientific. I saw it as a critique of modern consumer culture and popular media, rather than a satirical prediction of the future.

  3. 3
    trucreep

    http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100907135755/powerpuff/images/5/55/HIM.jpg

    I thought you were talking about HIM :|

  4. 4
    chigau (違う)

    If the scenario in The Marching Morons were true it would already have happened.
    (ignoring George W. Bush )
    The story always puzzled me because the protagonist is as thick as two short planks and the Smart People tell him he should have reproduced to prevent the marching morons.
    Pardon?

  5. 5
    Akira MacKenzie

    The answer is always going to be education and opportunity and mobility.

    Then we’re fucking doomed, because the last thing that the ruling elite wants are the commons to have access to those.

  6. 6
    michaelbusch

    @Kevin:

    Bob Altemeyer and others have observed correlations between being an authoritarian follower and low scores on psychometrics that attempt to quantify critical thinking ability.

    But: Those are not specific to fundamentalist Christianity, nor do the psychometrics concerned correspond to any sensible definition of innate intelligence – as PZ has explained, critical thinking is primarily a learned skill.

  7. 7
    tynk

    I guess I completely missed that in idiocracy or by personal bias chose not to see it. I saw idiocracy as a denigration of the passing of anti-intellectual culture, not genetics. The same way you have the southern united states statistically producing less educated children then other portions of the country. The “your religion is determined by your parents” with education and culture.

    I am actually a bit concerned and may have to re-watch the movie. If it was speaking specifically of genetics, that is disgusting.

  8. 8
    Becca Stareyes

    Kevin, considering fundamentalists seem determined to raise their kids in environments that promote blind obedience and discourage critical thinking or even seeking information outside of the enclave, among other things, that’s not exactly a fair test. And, given that most people end up with the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of their parents or communities*, it raises the question of how many adult fundamentalists come from fundamentalist households or other places where blind faith and obedience to the hierarchy are all seen as virtues.

    It’s not impossible to still end up smart and curious under that background — fundamentalist Christians still respect people like doctors and engineers after all — but harder and you can end up with some strong cognitive biases. Heck, I’d argue that a lot of the leaders of the movement aren’t stupid, just have a lot of boulders in their stream of consciousness, so to speak, that their thoughts just slip around without really questioning them.

    (Not that I suspect any of us are free of biases; they’re damn hard to see from the inside. But insisting your biases are a feature, not a bug sure doesn’t help in wearing them down or even mapping them out.)

    * I know not everyone here was raised by atheist parents, but I’d hazard that having atheists present around them (even if ‘around them’ was the Internet, or a college campus, or books) helped them exit the religion they were raised as.

  9. 9
    Kevin

    Yeah no. I’m talking about stupid people. There are such things — the world is “average”. And some people are just stupid. And it’s my experience that there are more people sitting in pews in fundamentalist churches (not just Christian FWIW) than there are sitting … well anywhere else. Trust me, I deal with these less-than-bright lights all the time.

    Fundamental religion is practically a pheromone for stupid.

    No amount of education into critical thinking skills is going to seep into these brains — they’re not equipped for it. Just does not compute. Knocking on the door — no answer. Turn on the switch — no light bulbs.

    Those people tithe. And vote. Exactly the way the preacher tells them to.

  10. 10
    harvardmba

    “Here’s the real solution to the “marching moron” problem: teach them. Give them fair opportunities. Open the door to education for all. They have just as much potential as you do. ”

    Sometimes P Zed just doesn’t make an ounce of sense. He sits here, day in and day out, RAILING against the fact that the stupid people will not allow the teaching of proper science. How many times have we had to hear about the stupid morons, and how they’re teaching nonsense to kids, trying to teach nonsense to kids, and on and on. We know where MOST of these people are. Is there a Creationist Museum in New York? Is there an Ark Adventure in California? I rest my case.

    Yet NOW we have to hear P Zed get all self-righteous and tell us it’s as simple as: “Open the door to education for all. They have just as much potential as you do.”

    Really? The same people should about how God this and God that and evil science and indoctrination is our right and women need to know their place and rape babies and gays are evil and multiculturalism is evil and ……… the big one: WE have the right to indoctrinate our children as WE see fit, so stop shovin’ this fancy shmancy hi falutin’ edumacation crap down our throats!

    Again — that ain’t happening in California. It ain’t happening in New York.

    P Zed knows it and he rails against it every day. But now we have to hear this diatribe about the evil that is Idiocracy? Seriously, P Zed — get a grip. Consistency is not your strong suit.

    (Also, Idiocracy is not a good movie, but it was a lost opportunity.)

  11. 11
    Chris Clarke

    Hated Idiocracy.

  12. 12
    Chris Clarke

    harvardmba:

    Again — that ain’t happening in California. It ain’t happening in New York.

    Bullshit, as usual given the source.

  13. 13
    chigau (違う)

    Don’t forget vivisection.

  14. 14
    mforkheim

    “The only solution to their problem is to get rid of the morons, launching them into space to die.”

    Sounds like the Golgafrincham solution to me.

  15. 15
    tynk

    @10

    Is there a Creationist Museum in New York? Is there an Ark Adventure in California?

    hmm.. the internet says yes to both… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationist_museum

    Education is the solution to all of the worlds problems, it is just not the get fixed quick solution, or the politically beneficial solution to speak about.

  16. 16
    michaelbusch

    @Kevin @9:

    Do you have any evidence that the innate intelligence (however defined) of fundamentalist religious people is any different from that of the general population? There is a lot of evidence for the causality going the other way around: authoritarian groups (which fundamentalist religions usually are) discourage critical thinking and general education, rather than there being any innate differences.
    _
    @harvardmba:

    PZ says that everyone should be better educated, and calls out anyone who opposes better education. There is no contradiction there.

  17. 17
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @mforkheim:

    That’s exactly what I thought.

    And, frankly, I praise Golgafrinchamism as a plot device. I also praise it as quite a technological achievement.

  18. 18
    Eristae

    @harvardmba

    Okay, show me one place where PZ says something negative about the genetics of Creationists.

    Also, are you trying to say that the people in California and New York are somehow genetically distinct from other areas?

  19. 19
    Jadehawk

    havarbmba, you’re one deeply confused cookie. your entire rant supports PZ’s case that education fixes idiocy, since there’s nothing inherently more idiotic about Oklahomans than New Yorkers. I see no “inconsistency” at all from PZ on that topic, either; he has been of the opinion that proper education fixes some of the st00pid and can to some degree provide herd immunity against st00pid, as well. Acknowledging the existence of stupid people in undereducated areas is hardly a sign of inconsistency.

  20. 20
    harvardmba

    And to be clear on something:

    Idiocracy is no more a treatise on eugenics than P Zed’s are when he writes about religious morons. Yes, Idiocracy opens with a scene noting that morons living in trailer parks breed more than elites. That’s where it begins and ends. There’s NOTHING in there that indicates eugenics be employed to solve this “problem”. In fact, the movie simply assumes everyone becomes moronic in the future, nothing more. If P Zed says this movie promotes eugenics, then he should prove it or shut up. Otherwise, as noted, the opening scene is no different from P Zed’s daily rants. If he can show a Creationist Museum in NY — then we can talk about the discrepancy. Else, his rants are the same as the opening of Idiocracy. The bulk of the morons are in trailer parks — period. P Zed knows it, Mike Judge knows it. Neither is advocating eugenics.

  21. 21
    miller

    This reminds me of an article I read about the evolution of human brain size (http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking#.UXWQZsos3To), which said that brain volume has been shrinking over the past 20,000 years. There are a bunch of theories as to why this might be so, and an actual decrease in intelligence is just one of several.

    But even if you believe that evolutionary changes in brain volume correlate with changes in intelligence, it would be hard to argue that people are getting dumber now. The article says that brain volumes have been going up in the past few centuries.

  22. 22
    PZ Myers

    Well, one thing we’ve confirmed here is that morons can get a Harvard MBA.

  23. 23
    harvardmba

    And to be triply clear, here’s the definition of eugenics:

    “Eugenics is the applied science of the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population.”

    P Zed: Please advise of where this idea is asserted in Idiocracy. Please note where in the movie it “advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population”.

    I’ll save you the trouble. It doesn’t. The opening scene is no different from your daily rants. The great bulk of the people being railed against live in certain parts of the country. If you don’t like THAT idea, too bad. You rail on people from the red states, or as they were termed in 2004: Jesusland.

    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jesusland

    Oh boy: Look where those “Jesusland” states are! There I go again, advocating eugenics.

  24. 24
    harvardmba

    P Zed says he “cringes” when people mention Idiocracy. I cringe at P Zed’s cringing.

    (Again — I don’t even like the movie, but not for such an absurdly wrong reason.)

  25. 25
    Lynna, OM

    Donald Trump is a member of the elite.

  26. 26
    Lynna, OM

    Mitt Romney is a member of the educated elite.

  27. 27
    harvardmba

    P Zed: There you go again, name calling instead of addressing the facts. I ask again:

    Here’s the definition of eugenics:

    “Eugenics is the applied science of the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population.”

    P Zed: Please advise of where this idea is asserted in Idiocracy. Please note where in the movie it “advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population”.

    Please respond in good faith.

  28. 28
    Tethys

    If he can show a Creationist Museum in NY — then we can talk about the discrepancy.

    Challange accepted. The Lost World Museum is located in New York.

    The bulk of the morons are in trailer parks — period.

    Um, because living in a trailer has predictable impacts on intelligence? Or are you implying something else?

  29. 29
    WharGarbl

    @tynk
    #7

    I am actually a bit concerned and may have to re-watch the movie. If it was speaking specifically of genetics, that is disgusting.

    It did mention of genetics as an explanation of why everyone gets dumb. Namely, dumb people reproduce more, smart people reproduce less, end results in a world full of dumb people.

    Although I see Idiocracy as a comedy film who uses the above reasoning as a handwave of sort.

  30. 30
    maudell

    Cargo cult classism?

  31. 31
    harvardmba

    “There’s nothing inherently more idiotic about Oklahomans than New Yorkers.”

    It’s not about “inherent” abilities. Idiocracy was not about criticizing the inherent abilities of people who live in trailer parks as opposed to people who live on Park Avenue. It WAS criticizing the fact that people of different intelligence strata DO tend to congregate in certain areas AND have certain behaviors.

    If you deny this, you are as disingenuous as they come. There’s a lot of pseudo-intellectual bullshit that goes on here, often in the guise of being human and kind, but it’s just self-righteous bullshit. Just disgracefully smug.

    Stop conflating “inherent” ability with the geographical congregating of like-minded individuals. There’s plenty of facts out there on this stuff — read them. Or — you can go on believing Tennessee is doing really well in the education department, as compared to say — Massachusetts.

  32. 32
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Well, here’s a blast from the past, and an unpleasant one at that. That he held such an opinion doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    Kevin:

    I’m talking about stupid people.

    Whereas PZ is talking about populations.

  33. 33
    harvardmba

    P Zed isn’t responding to my question, so I’ll put it to ANYONE here who wants to answer in good faith.

    Here’s the definition of eugenics:

    “Eugenics is the applied science of the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population.”

    Please advise of where this idea is asserted in Idiocracy. Please note where in the movie it “advocates practices to improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population”.

    I’m more than happy to review the movie if this actually occurred. If it did, then I would agree that it is cringeworthy. If not, then people should admit the movie does not advocate this concept. Claiming Mike Judge is an advocate of eugenics is something that one would back up with hard evidence.

  34. 34
    michaelbusch

    @Eristae:

    That would be impressive, considering the fraction of New Yorkers and Californians who are born in other places.
    _
    @harvardmba:

    You appear to have not carefully read what PZ wrote. He said that Idiocracy and The Marching Morons both have “the same failure to recognize that reality is not a possession of the elite that you find in eugenics”. Eugenics as a word means what you have said, but historically the concept has been used in many incredibly evil ways to justify the then-current social hierarchy (compulsory sterilization and euthanasia happened for decades in the United States before the Nazi horrific uses of eugenic ideas).
    _
    And you are incorrect to say that Idiocracy didn’t advocate eugenics – it does so by portraying the imagined consequences of a dysgenic future. But, as PZ said, the movie is nonsense for many reasons.

  35. 35
    profpedant

    Genetics surely has an influence on intelligence, but the well-demonstrated effects of malnutrition, disease, and poor education clearly obscure those genetic effects. Consequently the only environment in which a eugenicist could have any hope of successfully breeding for intelligence would be one in which all humans had been – for generations – well-fed, disease-free, well-educated, and living under conditions which allow them a healthy psychological development. It seems likely that for a happy healthy human intelligence is a generally desired attribute in a mate, which would mean that in the glorious future eugenics is the responsibility of the Department of Redundancy Bureau (whose motto is “needlessly helping you to do what you are doing anyway”).

  36. 36
    harvardmba

    And, here’s what P Zed wrote:

    “… it’s also the primary plot point of the movie Idiocracy. It’s also the premise behind eugenics.”

    The primary plot point is the premise behind eugenics, says P Zed. Again — see my previous post, and back up this claim with evidence. Otherwise, it’s not the harvard mba that’s a moron. It’s the ivory tower scientist who doesn’t know how to interpret a simple movie.

  37. 37
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    This argument assumes that intelligence is regulated only by, well, genetics. The real world isn’t that simple.

    Not only are there social pressures against intelligence — the most easily-noticeable one being religion, but consumerism is also incredibly powerful; American society manages to add athletics in as well — but there are developmental issues as well. We know about certain things which the human brain can do only if taught at an early enough age, speech being the best example. If you were to lock a baby in a closet and never speak to it, then let it out when it reaches the age of (IIRC) seven, it would never be able to understand or produce language no matter how old it gets, and would have to depend on tone of voice to convey or receive information. (And yes, there have been real-life examples of this. See Harold Klawans’ books on neurology.)

    There have been studies which suggest that there are higher-level functions which are less difficult to measure but which also have a “window of opportunity”. Just for example, the Department of Education did a study which suggests there’s a link between travel as a child and intelligence — and also whether the children will grow up to desire to travel, which if true means that children who do not travel are both less intelligent adults and will tend to desire to produce children who do not travel. Playing in an environment with dirt and plants has also been shown to enhance brain development — so kids raised in an urban area who don’t play in parks (video games have severely cut down on that), or whose only outdoors activities involve astroturf surfaces (some towns are doing this to their parks to cut down on mowing costs) will grow up to be less intelligent than they otherwise could have been.

    There are all sorts of potential links which have not been studied — and probably never will be studied — but which have been suspected for a long time. TV watching? Reading? Violence in entertainment? Lack of violence in entertainment (it’s a possibility)? Ability to get answers from the Internet? Phone text messaging as a child? We’ll never know — but there’s nearly always a huge difference between people who read and people who don’t, even if the readers only read popular fiction and the non-readers watch only documentaries and news programs.

    In all, the pressure on intelligence is both real and downward. It doesn’t matter if the potential for higher intelligence is available if it is essentially guaranteed never to be expressed.

  38. 38
    chigau (違う)

    harvardmba
    Is there some reason you are addressing PZ as P Zed?
    Please respond in good faith.

  39. 39
    chigau (違う)

    Well there’s the ivory tower.
    Where’s the vivisection?

  40. 40
    Eristae

    @harvardmba/36

    You’re not applying logic correctly.

    even if it is true that
    A is behind B
    A is behind C
    it does not mean that
    B is behind C
    or
    C is behind B

    Eugenics and the movie can have the same premise behind them without the moving having eugenics behind it.

    Please try again.

  41. 41
    SallyStrange

    I thought MBAs were degrees for morons, period, regardless of which institution you’re at.

  42. 42
    phere

    Hrm..I believe I mentioned Idiocracy a bit ago. I enjoyed the movie in the same way I enjoyed Starsky and Hutch. It’s silly. (Upgrayedd? Come on!). My take is that we are talking about willful ignorance with no attempt or desire to learn a little bit about themselves and the world around them. People with no curiosity. People who pass this lack of wonder on to their children. I’m sure Honey Boo Boo has the same chance at educational achievement as kids in other places in the country, but will she break free from her nullifying culture? Who knows. I also believe, as another poster mentions above, that the movie was largely more critical (if “critical” could be used to describe Idiocracy) of consumerism. Of course, I am a high school dropout and have never been to college and it’s damned intimidated to step into the ring with some of you guys…especially where philosophy is concerned.

  43. 43
    raven

    Is there some reason you are addressing PZ as P Zed?
    Please respond in good faith.

    1. He hates PZ because PZ is a sometimeslaveholder.
    According to harvardMBA, pets are slaves and no one should keep slaves.

    2. He thinks he should have had a starring role in the movie, Idiocracy. As the animal rights extremist liberating pets from their slave quarters.

  44. 44
    Vall

    I’ve always wondered why some people spell out the 26th letter like that. Why not go all out and say Pee Zed? I guess it’s a British thing, but they don’t actually write out the phonetics do they? Just say “I’m British” in the opening statement and we can read it in that silly accent if we want.

  45. 45
    harvardmba

    Since I won’t get an honest answer from P Zed or anyone else, and don’t have time for this, I’ll just sum it up.

    Idiocracy never asserts that the reason people in trailer parks have dumb offspring is because of inherent properties. It doesn’t use eugenics, not the premise of eugenics to make its point. The movie merely asserts that people from lower classes tend to breed more, and (whether you like it or not) that is a documented fact. Elites who are more well off tend to do family planning and otherwise stress over every last detail when having children — to the point they often decide against “bringing children into this world”. The children of anyone, including trailer park people, tend to inherit the cultural values of their parents. They’re a product of their environment. Daddy likes tractor trailer pulls, so does sonny.

    There’s NOTHING in there about eugenics, nor the PREMISE of eugenics.

    This whole piece is just a pile of shit. If P Zed addressed it honestly, he’d admit it. Seeing the movie through your distorted lens has caused you to read into it your own biases, justified as they may be.

  46. 46
    PZ Myers

    HarvardMBA is usually a one-shot drive-by wonder, but I see that challenging racist assumptions is precisely the subject that gets him most fired up. He may end up getting banned at last if he keeps the repetitive bullshit up.

  47. 47
    phere

    Wow, it’s HarvardMBA. I kept reading “Harvarmba” (one word). I thought it was kind of a cool name. Maybe I will use that for the next character I make in a game.

  48. 48
    glodson

    Despite two additions to the original post, and numerous people trying to explain it, a troll still doesn’t get it.

    Somehow, I’m not shocked.

  49. 49
    chigau (違う)

    raven
    pets as slaves
    I missed those comments.
    I’ve seen plenty about lab animals.
    and ivory towers.
    —-
    [I don't think ivory would work as a building material.]

  50. 50
    michaelbusch

    @harvardmba @45:

    The movie makes the assumption that people being uneducated and having more children is a heritable trait that persists over generations and spreads throughout the entire population. It isn’t.
    _
    Again, the premise of the movie is that dysgenics is a serious problem in human populations (it isn’t). By saying “dysgenics is bad” it implies “eugenics is good”.
    _
    And you appear to be prejudiced against people who live in mobile homes. I’m not sure if that makes you both a classist or a racist or only one of the two.

  51. 51
    Chris Clarke

    harvardmba:

    The bulk of the morons are in trailer parks — period.

    Speaking as someone with a significant presence of trailer parks in my ancestry, including my mom up until a couple years ago, I’d like to say that I’m on board with the idea of harvardmba no longer darkening our doorsteps.

  52. 52
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I don’t think harvardmba either went to harvard or has an mba. Just another mouthy troll, who attempts to play “gottcha” games on PZ, but ends up just embarrassing themselves with their non-sequiturs. Just another self-important and self-delusional fool.

  53. 53
    Anthony K

    Daddy likes tractor trailer pulls, so does sonny.

    My father and I shared very few interests beyond profanity.

  54. 54
    Daniel Martin

    Here’s the real solution to the “marching moron” problem: teach them. Give them fair opportunities. Open the door to education for all.

    One other thing is needed: Stop poisoning people. Specifically, get early childhood and in utero lead exposure to be a thing of the past. Early lead exposure is one of the few factors that can lower the baseline potential for a whole population. (Specifically, for the population without enough political clout to get lead out of their environment)

  55. 55
    karmacat

    I have a question for Harvardmba: Do you have financial stake in the movie, Idiocracy. Because you look stupid getting all upset about a MOVIE

  56. 56
    burgundy

    On top of all the reasons why these arguments are factually bogus, I think they’re morally lacking as well. They seem to rest on the idea that intelligence is the primary, or the only, trait that’s necessary for a functioning society. What about kindness? A good work ethic? A desire for fairness and justice? Creativity? An appreciation of the arts? None of these are inherently joined to intelligence, as the crowd of libertarian techies (among other groups) makes clear.

  57. 57
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Speaking as someone with a significant presence of trailer parks in my ancestry, including my mom up until a couple years ago, I’d like to say that I’m on board with the idea of harvardmba no longer darkening our doorsteps.

    Yeah, I come from a long line of really poor folks. I’m glad to know Harvardmba thinks I shouldn’t have been born.

  58. 58
    ChasCPeterson

    I remember this post from last time and it’s a good one.

    wow, that old SB thread is classic Caled*nian. Takes you back.
    I miss Kseniya.
    (This is me.)

  59. 59
    erik333

    35 profpedant
    “Genetics surely has an influence on intelligence”

    If it doesn’t, we need a new explaination for human intelligence than the theory of evolution.

  60. 60
    Jadehawk

    Idiocracy is no more a treatise on eugenics

    you’re dumber than a moldy raisin.

    Idiocracy is based on the premise that stupidity is biologically hereditary; same premise as eugenics. That’s what PZ said, not whatever you decided to interpret it as.

    In fact, the movie simply assumes everyone becomes moronic in the future, nothing more.

    and why does the movie assume that? because it thinks that “moronity” is biologically hereditary, so when “morons” are the only people having kids, “moronity” spreads as a trait throughout the population; same premise that underlies eugenics; again.

    If P Zed says this movie promotes eugenics

    he doesn’t.

    the opening scene is no different from P Zed’s daily rants

    incorrect; PZ does not rant about how the “morons” are outbreeding the smart people; usually his rants are about how the adult-”morons” are trying to make more of themselves by destroying education.

    If he can show a Creationist Museum in NY

    http://www.lostworldmuseum.com/about/
    also, completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    The bulk of the morons are in trailer parks — period.

    I see no evidence for that (interesting classism, that. you do know there’s trailerparks in NY and CA, and that there are wealthy home-owners in the “moron”-states who are just as “moronic” as the trailer park folks); but even if it were so, the “moronity” is not a necessary or permanent condition; it’s fixable with education, which is what PZ usually talks about.

    The opening scene is no different from your daily rants.

    no matter how many times you assert this, it’s not going to become any truer

  61. 61
    ChasCPeterson

    Also spotted on the old thread:
    this counterpoint.

    discuss.

  62. 62
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    I don’t think harvardmba either went to harvard or has an mba. Just another mouthy troll, who attempts to play “gottcha” games on PZ, but ends up just embarrassing themselves with their non-sequiturs. Just another self-important and self-delusional fool.
    –Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls@52

    I disagree. This manner of vile, racist, classist bullshit is absolutely par for the course for the majority of actual Harvard MBA grads I’ve worked with, i.e. “Fuck the poor and the dumb, make ‘em die in the streets” where “poor and dumb” are “anyone that doesn’t look like me or didn’t go to my school.” Typical fetid rich white man rhetoric. Same with the absolutely piss poor rhetoric and argument skills.

  63. 63
    Rob Grigjanis

    The answer is always going to be education and opportunity and mobility.

    Necessary but far from sufficient condition, IMO. I’m with Leon Trotsky Trout on this one:

    the only true villain in my story: the oversized human brain

  64. 64
    cyberCMDR

    I agree with profpedant in #35. The fast food industry (and government farm subsidies) has effectively made calories cheap, and nutrition expensive. As a result, kids raised in poor families are too often growing up without the nutrients their brains need to reach their potential. Not only that, but the toll that excess consumption of these mock foods imposes on our bodies cannot be good for cognitive capabilities. Increased fats in the blood in the long run impairs circulation, including in the brain. Obesity can lead to or exacerbate sleep apnea, causing cognitive impairment, as well as skewing key hormone levels (insulin, cortisol,…). Too many of us are digging our graves one forkful at a time.

    As a culture we have sold our nutrition to the lowest bidder. Education is a big part of the solution, but we also need to restructure the incentives in the food industry so that vegetables, fish, etc. are as cheap or cheaper than the junk food. Likewise, our medical community has its incentive structure set up so that they make more money when you are sick. In “one recent study, they found that hospitals make three times the profit if there are complications after surgery. This has to be fixed, such that the incentives are there for keeping up healthy and living up to our potential.

  65. 65
    Chris Clarke

    Jadehawk;

    If he can show a Creationist Museum in NY

    http://www.lostworldmuseum.com/about/

    And here’s one in California, about a 20-minute drive from my house. (Pharyngula meetup, anyone?)

  66. 66
    Russell Glasser

    I can confirm that HarvardMBA is full of shit, as multiple people have most definitely called and emailed The Atheist Experience to seriously argue that the underlying principle of Idiocracy is realistic, and they are genuinely concerned about it. It doesn’t really matter what Mike Judge’s intent is; the wholly justified rant of the OP was against people who take the premise seriously and think some kind of solution is required. It’s simply denial to think that a significant number of people don’t argue this position.

  67. 67
    David Marjanović

    Surprisingly, since NatGeo hosed most of the comments when they transfered the site to WordPress, it looks like a lot of the comments on this article survived, too.

    NatGeo kept importing comments for a long time, one thread at a time, and is probably still continuing the process. The sheer amount of comments (orders of magnitude above their stupid expectations, apparently) just broke their system, so it’s taking much longer than planned.

    Well, one thing we’ve confirmed here is that morons can get a Harvard MBA.

    Hey, there are reasons it’s called Master of Bullshit Administration.

    It’s not about “inherent” abilities. Idiocracy was not about criticizing the inherent abilities of people who live in trailer parks as opposed to people who live on Park Avenue. It WAS criticizing the fact that people of different intelligence strata DO tend to congregate in certain areas AND have certain behaviors.

    I’ve always wondered why some people spell out the 26th letter like that. Why not go all out and say Pee Zed? I guess it’s a British thing, but they don’t actually write out the phonetics do they? Just say “I’m British” in the opening statement and we can read it in that silly accent if we want.

    He knows that PZ doesn’t like being pronounced that way. He’s trying to annoy him. It’s a very childish attempt at bullying.

    I miss Kseniya.

    Me too.

    Also spotted on the old thread:
    this counterpoint.

    discuss.

    Already covered by PZ:

    “The other premise of the marching morons scenario, that the underclass would sink deeper and deeper into stupidity, is completely absurd. There aren’t any human subcultures that don’t value problem-solving and cleverness, where apathy and dull-wittedness are desirable traits in a mate (again, there are individuals who are contrary, but we’re talking about populations here.) Growing up, I experienced that social pressure that makes getting good grades in school a problem for fitting in with a certain peer group — but that isn’t about despising intelligence, it’s about conforming to the trappings of your group and not adopting the markers of another class, especially when that class has a habit of treating you like dirt and talking abstractly about how to expunge you, your family, and your friends from the gene pool.”

    and by profpedant in comment 35 above.

    Also, from the post you cite:

    Different population groups have different distributions of intelligence

    [citation needed]

    (Not saying it’s impossible, just saying [citation needed].)

    and:

    we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons.

    Don’t force a child to take music lessons, asshole.

    Having musical ability, by breeding or not, won’t necessarily make anybody want to take music lessons. Same for sports. I could probably train to be a coloratura tenor or a marathon runner, or both (hey, lung volume, breathing techniques, whatever, I’m sure there’s overlap), but I have no inclination to do so.

  68. 68
    chigau (違う)

    Where are you, harvardmba?
    Do you have any honest answers for anyone here?

  69. 69
    David Marjanović

    In “one recent study, they found that hospitals make three times the profit if there are complications after surgery. This has to be fixed, such that the incentives are there for keeping up healthy and living up to our potential.

    Just don’t create incentives to cover up complications after surgery.

    I could probably train to be a

    Oh, there’s a possibility that is so vile and distasteful I didn’t even think of it: I have good coordination, not just of my larynx apparatus, but also of the rest of me. I could train to be a decent dancer. I just… can’t grasp why anybody would want to make artificial yet ritualized movements. The thought of me being forced to take dancing lessons is… not literally gut-wrenching, but you know what I mean.

  70. 70
    David Marjanović

    Where are you, harvardmba?
    Do you have any honest answers for anyone here?

    Sinking under the desk in shame is an honest answer. It just doesn’t show up on the Internet.

  71. 71
    M can help you with that.

    SallyStrange @ 41 –

    I thought MBAs were degrees for morons, period, regardless of which institution you’re at.

    Sometimes it’s not “morons” so much as “assholes”. I’m sure there are some non-assholes with MBAs, but the focus of the degree is learning how to out-asshole all the other assholes in an attempt to reach the top of the asshole pecking order so that you can take a bigger chunk of the money that the asshole pecking order collectively skims from the work of the productive people. That a few people who play well with others and just get a kick out of helping organizations run smoothly get through is mostly a matter of an imperfect admissions process.

  72. 72
    andrewriding

    I always have such a hard time finding other people that share this problem with Idiocracy.

    I could see certain political positions leading to situations like that… but only if you took a hot bit of metal and burnt certain bits of everyone’s brains. Even the people I dislike wouldn’t just sit around content if they got to shape society as they saw fit- as new problems pop up they’d still at least react to them. Rather with Idiocracy you had a world full of people that just stopped trying to do anything new as modern problems crept up in magnitude.

    I think I managed to flip some artsy switch in my brain and mostly appreciate it as an anti-anti-intellectualism piece, but holding back the tidal wave of complaints still strained my ability to pull off mental acrobatics.

  73. 73
    Chris Clarke

    Kazim:

    multiple people have most definitely called and emailed The Atheist Experience to seriously argue that the underlying principle of Idiocracy is realistic

    In my experience, such people are usually pretty fucking dim. Ah the irony!

  74. 74
    Lynna, OM

    Like PZ, I grew up as “white trash” by some people’s definition. Yes, I lived in trailers. Yes we were so poor that it was sometimes difficult for my parents to provide enough food for the family. We lived in several homes that had no indoor plumbing.

    I do not consider myself to part of the “march of morons,” nor do I think that my parents were. Both were intelligent, and my father was considered to be “brilliant” by some of his coworkers.

  75. 75
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    I’ve lived in trailer parks. I’ve lived in nice suburban neighborhoods where every other house had a pool. I’ve had family in the oil business that lived in million+ dollar homes.

    I’d say there was as much abuse, neglect, theft, rape, bigotry and idiocy to go around in all of those places. The difference was that the wealthier people stole more and feared detection less. I was neighbors with a banker who stole thousands from retirement funds. My wealthy family member routinely cheated his clients out of scads of cash. At worst the trailer park kids might run off with a bike.

    You can’t buy good manners or ethics and if financial gain was a decent marker of intelligence, George W Bush would be a freaking genius. Instead he’s a lack-wit and a war criminal.

  76. 76
    sciencebzzt

    From what I understand, IQ is highly heritable. Studies show 75% to 85% . It’s also been shown that fertility and IQ are inversely correlated. Now… isn’t that a recipe for an overall trend in the population? That is how evolution works, isn’t it? I mean, am I missing something? Traits are heritable, and if certain traits are linked with higher fertility, the population will trend in the direction of those certain traits. IQ is obviously heritable (you don’t even need all the studies to show that, since human beings evolved a high level of intelligence, and for that to happen, it obviously has to be a heritable trait). High IQ people have fewer children than low IQ people. I don’t see the debate.

  77. 77
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Studies show 75% to 85% .

    What studies? Where? Citation needed for this and every other claim you make.

  78. 78
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Oh, and sciencebzzt, be sure to include the cultural biases of IQ tests…

  79. 79
    sciencebzzt

    ” I can testify from personal experience that if there’s a problem, it’s not in ability — it’s in a culture that dismisses broad swathes of the population because of who their families are, or how much money they make, and perpetuates inequities of opportunity on the basis of bigotry and classism.”

    So based on your personal experience, you’re going to make an assumption about the entire issue? Is this bizarro world? Is today opposite day? This entire blog post is biased and unscientific. Data be damned, I KNOW FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. You sound like a fundamentalist christian.

  80. 80
    Eristae

    My mom was certified to administer IQ tests, and I’m going to quote the man who supervised her:

    IQ tests measure a person’s ability to take IQ tests.

  81. 81
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Here’s the thing, if we (wrongly) assume that there’s a problem with “stupid” people out breeding “smart” people, I’d be willing to stake that providing easy access to information about sexual health, make birth control cheap/free to everyone (not just the insured), and make abortion easy and accessible would help to level that “problem” out.

    But, you know, it’s just easier to whine about the lower classes than to actually provide everybody with family planning services. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy†.

    I gave up on Idiocracy right at the beginning. Remember how it was the “smart” couple and the “stupid” couple and their families? And how the “smart” couple couldn’t conceive because the woman wanted to pursue her education and her career before having children? The entire movie was built on the premise that educated women took time to build economic stability before getting pregnant which caused the failure of “smart” people. Better get knocked up before you’re 30, ladies or else the human race is doomed. DOOMED!

    †As you can see, I’m also going along with the premise that poor=stupid, because that was the movie’s (very very very wrong) point.

  82. 82
    sciencebzzt

    studies:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/magazine/23wwln_idealab.html
    http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/13/4/148
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence:_Knowns_and_Unknowns

    this blank slatism is bizarre to me. I get that racism is a bad thing, I get that it’d be nice if everyone were the same… but just like Koreans are shorter in stature than the Masai in Africa… brains differ as well. The brain is an organ. Behavior and intelligence are rooted in biology, you cannot accept the basic principles of evolution and also reject that people of difference anscestries have different biological traits. You cannot accept that skin color can be different but our brains are all the same. Its just not objectively true. The problem lies in this idea that higher IQ automatically means better. It doesn’t, just like taller doesn’t automatically mean better. People are different, thats just how it is.

  83. 83
    sciencebzzt

    Eristae
    IQ is highly correlated with school achievement and success in later life. I mean, these are facts. I posted some studies above… and the studies showing that IQ scores correlate with higher retention of information and higher school achievement and wealth in later life, they’re all over the internet… just google. Or check the APA study “Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns”… they actually set out to show that The Bell Curve was Oh So Wrong… turns out their studies confirmed many of the books findings.
    Accepting objective facts doesn’t make you a racist or a bad person. You can still be a good liberal and believe in the power of every single human… but still accept things based on evidence. To reject them would be… almost fundamentalist in your liberalism.

  84. 84
    PZ Myers

    Sigh. The usual nonsense contradicted by reality.

    IQ is heritable, plus it’s inversely related to fecundity…so how does it come to be that Western societies don’t collapse in the rubble of a population that doesn’t understand how to feed themselves? Wake up. Look around you. Notice that people have been ranting about the stupidity of the next generation for millennia, while standards of living go up.

    And my personal experience as someone who has hob-nobbed with Nobelists and hung out with scientists while also working with underprivileged minorities both in urban and rural settings certainly counts for something. I’ve talked science with kids from North Philly and scientists from CSH, and sorry, the kids were pretty damned smart despite the bigotry against their background.

  85. 85
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    Behavior and intelligence are rooted in biology…
    –sciencebzzt@82

    While compelling, you’ve forgotten the other half of this argument: Social structures ALSO influence behavior, and can have significant effects on ‘perceived’ intelligence. It is this ‘other’ factor that complicates any attempts to study behavior, as both sets of variables require controls and consideration.

  86. 86
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    To reject them would be… almost fundamentalist in your liberalism.

    No, it is your failure to prove biology from social upbringing. No evopsych claims about biology are valid until they can point at the gene, and show how it works is independent of social constructs. Which hasn’t happened and you presented no evidence for your inane and *floosh* dismissed claims.

  87. 87
    PZ Myers

    IQ is highly correlated with school achievement and success in later life.

    Jesus fucking christ. And going to an Ivy League school is highly correlated with school achievement and success in later life. And being born on third base is highly correlated with scoring a home run.

    You guys always get the correlation wrong. It’s not “my privileged position in life is because of my innate superiority”. It’s “my privileged position in life perpetuates my privileged position in life.” You mistake a tautology for evidence for your desired conclusion.

  88. 88
    SallyStrange

    Wow, it’s HarvardMBA. I kept reading “Harvarmba” (one word). I thought it was kind of a cool name. Maybe I will use that for the next character I make in a game.

    I did that too for a while. I thought it was a Swedish name or something.

  89. 89
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    To reinforce my point:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

    Carl Sagan was born to two poor immigrants in New York, both of whom had no background in science, and were probably comparable to “Trailer Park People” (which is a bullshit qualifier. One’s choice of domicile does not give another the right to judge their humanity). Yet Sagan had an environment that supported him and provided him encouragement. Now he’s considered a role model for astrophysics, responsible for bringing an abstract science to the field, as can be seen in his proteges (including one NDT, as in my Nym >.>)

  90. 90
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    You guys always get the correlation wrong. It’s not “my privileged position in life is because of my innate superiority”. It’s “my privileged position in life perpetuates my privileged position in life.” You mistake a tautology for evidence for your desired conclusion.
    –PZ Myers@87

    This is what gets these egocentric fucks. They think that ALL of their achievements are because of how fucking ‘speshul’ and ‘smert’ they are. They don’t realize that most of their position is a combination of the two gremlins of society: Priors and Luck. Being born rich and meeting the right person is the basic story of wealth for damn near every Robber Baron Asshole to ever burn a benjamin to light his cigar. They are INEVITABLY of the majority in their country, male, and rich.

    Shit be whack, yo.

  91. 91
    Quantum Darkness

    If I can post links here, this is a refresher for the premise of Idiocracy.

  92. 92
    Randall M.

    M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati, @71

    Sometimes it’s not “morons” so much as “assholes”. I’m sure there are some non-assholes with MBAs, but the focus of the degree is learning how to out-asshole all the other assholes in an attempt to reach the top of the asshole pecking order so that you can take a bigger chunk of the money that the asshole pecking order collectively skims from the work of the productive people. That a few people who play well with others and just get a kick out of helping organizations run smoothly get through is mostly a matter of an imperfect admissions process.

    So you’re saying it stands for “Much Bigger Asshole”? I can believe that.

  93. 93
    Chris Clarke
    Wow, it’s HarvardMBA. I kept reading “Harvarmba” (one word). I thought it was kind of a cool name. Maybe I will use that for the next character I make in a game.

    I did that too for a while. I thought it was a Swedish name or something.

    It’s an acronym: Huge Asshole Routinely Venturing Aggressive, Ridiculously Disassociative Male Blather Arguments.

  94. 94
    roro80

    Just want to throw in my two cents and say that I really liked this post. Of course there is some bell curve of “innate” intelligence, and in a lot of cases that is correlated with parental intelligence. But huge amounts of that innate genetic intelligence go unrealized due to environmental factors from toxins and malnutrition to poor education or poor upbringing; these super smart unrealized geniuses often reproduce with people of lower intelligence than themselves. On the other hand, large swaths of people of average intelligence are able to succeed due to stellar education and privileged (or just really strong) upbringing, and might go on to reproduce with people who have more genetically innate intelligence. We just don’t have a way to know who is producing super-genius or above-average offspring, because we don’t have any real ability to measure some “genetic smartness” without getting it all mixed up with environmental factors.

    In other words: I agree with PZ that this means we need to push for strong education for everyone. We also need to work toward better nutrition for kids, more outreach for parents, and lowering toxins in our environment.

    The warning against SciFi afficionados thinking they’re innately more fit than their peers due to their science-y ways should probably go for a lot of different groups — white people, men, upper classes, libertarians, etc. — we start getting high and mighty about those people over there and we start to think our own success proves our genetic awesomeness instead of our luck combined with hard work. Dangerous, that.

  95. 95
    roro80

    damn it html fail –sorry

  96. 96
    Jadehawk

    From what I understand, IQ is highly heritable.

    oh god, that crap again.

    http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-67-2-130.pdf

  97. 97
    sciencebzzt

    Nerd:
    here are some genes:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CHRM2
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcephalin
    http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v16/n10/full/mp201185a.html
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00439-009-0655-4
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcs.135/abstract;jsessionid=3D45C17113993CFA2A19CA29B87A01D0.d04t04

    Also, despite posting all those studies and links… I reject your idea that you need specific genes or else all claims about evopsych are invalid. That’s absurd. You don’t need specific genes to know that certain traits are heritable, such as height, skin color, eye color, etc. Offspring inherit the traits of their parents. I really don’t want to have an angry debate… I just honestly don’t get why there is this divide when it comes to the brain. It is found nowhere else. There are no vitriolic arguments about height being influenced by nutrition instead of genetics… obviously it is influenced by childhhood nutrition to an extent… however, just like intelligence, the genetic factor is the main one, the one that sets your biological frame and brackets your highs and lows. Environment sets the point within those brackets. They obviously work together… but to deny the heritability of intelligence totally? Absurd.

  98. 98
    Jadehawk

    IQ is highly correlated with school achievement and success in later life.

    no fucking shit it’s correlated with school achievement, since both the IQ test and our schooling system are based on the same premises, and result in biases that favor the same demographics.

    Did no one teach you that correlation isn’t causation?

    As for “success in later life”… please define “success”.

  99. 99
    michaelbusch

    @sciencebzzt:

    You are making two entirely unrelated claims. No one is “denying the heritability of intelligence totally”.
    _
    What everyone is pointing out to you is that IQ and many other psychometrics that attempt to measure intelligence are determined more by environment than by genetics (less specific genetic disorders). Since most people are raised in an environment set up by their biological parents, there is a strong correlation between the IQs of parents and children. But that by itself is pretty much meaningless, because you are falsely conflating environmental and genetic factors.

  100. 100
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I reject your idea that you need specific genes or else all claims about evopsych are invalid.

    And I reject your claims as unsupported. End of story. You have nothing but blather, and we both know that. I’m be waiting for the real and conclusive evidence until I die.

  101. 101
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    But that by itself is pretty much meaningless, because you are falsely conflating environmental and genetic factors.

    That is the problem of his links.

  102. 102
    harvardmba

    As xpctd, th cwrd P Zd cn’t dfnd hs pstn n Mk Jdg. Dsgstng.

    It’s ll rlly smpl, s hr t s fr th A+ (s tht Asshl+ ?) crwd:

    Mk Jdg ws mkng cltrl bsrvtn, nt blgcl n. Whthr t’s gncs r th bss fr gncs, Mk Jdg md n blgcl sttmnt bt wht mks prsn gnrnt. P Zd cn’t pnt t whr n th flm ths hppns, bcs t dsn’t. If y wnt t crtcz tht pnng scn, y my s wll crtcz Tlldg Nghts t — bcs th whl mv s bsclly n bg gf n dmb rdncks wh lk t wtch crs g n crcl fr thr hrs.

    I bt P Zd crngs t th mntn f Rcky Bbby.

    (Als: P Zd, y rlly nd t gt t f th vry twr nd b hld ccntbl. Cnsdrng hw mch y blg y hv wy t mch tm n yr hnds s nvrsty prfssr.)

    [A loud roaring noise rises, as of a massive object rushing through the air towards us, until with an abrupt KLUNK-*splat* it stops — the Mighty Banhammer has been thrown with great force and deadly accuracy. One more troll meets its doom. --pzm]

  103. 103
    Jadehawk

    . There are no vitriolic arguments about height being influenced by nutrition instead of genetics… obviously it is influenced by childhhood nutrition to an extent… however, just like intelligence, the genetic factor is the main one,

    holy fuck. no it isn’t; the reason people have been getting steadily taller until recently had fuck-all to do with evolving greater heights, and stunting due to malnutrition can change one’s adult height extremely today as well. Genetics only become main determinant of height once all other limiting factors are eliminated or at least more or less equalized; intelligence theoretically works the same (and have we ever NOT eliminated or evened out the other limiting factors), except that unlike height, there isn’t a simple definition of what intelligence actually is; defining scoring high on an IQ test is a socially constructed definition of intelligence and there’s no compelling reason to assume it’s the only one or the correct one.

  104. 104
    PZ Myers

    Koreans are shorter in stature than the Masai in Africa

    Since he brought up that common racist trope of “Look, you can easily see physical differences!”, let me point out that, like IQ, height also shows a solid heritable component. So does longevity. Short people tend to have children who are short, long-lived people tend to have children who are long-lived. We can even see trends in races: before the 1940s, for instance, Asian people were on average much shorter than Americans, and died younger.

    Yet somehow, in the burst of prosperity that followed WWII in Asia, the averages in both height and longevity shot up, approaching our own Western standards. Within two or three generations.

    Huh.

    What do you think happened? Only tall, long-lived Asians were reproducing in this period? And they were so completely cutting out the short, dead-at-40 crowd that their genes completely replaced theirs in a few astonishingly brief periods of extremely intense natural selection?

    Or maybe these traits that idiots assume are hard-wired because we can measure a heritability coefficient for them are actually dominated in their expression by environmental factors?

  105. 105
  106. 106
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    As expected, the coward P Zed can’t defend his position on Mike Judge. Disgusting.

    As expected HarvardMBlatther is a disgrace to his university, rational thinking, and anything to do with empathy. What an abject evidenceless loser.

  107. 107
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Still not seeing the smoking gun….

  108. 108
    shockna

    If you want to criticize that opening scene, you may as well criticize Talladega Nights too — because the whole movie is basically one big goof on dumb rednecks who like to watch cars go in a circle for three hours.

    I bet P Zed cringes at the mention of Ricky Bobby.

    Why not? Talladega Nights was fucking horrible.

  109. 109
    Jadehawk

    Mike Judge was making a cultural observation, not a biological one.

    intro voiceover to idiocracy (emphasis mine):

    As the twenty-first century began,
    human evolution was at a turning
    point. Natural selection, the process
    by which the strongest, the smartest,
    the fastest reproduced in greater
    number than the rest, a process which
    had once favored the noblest traits
    of man…

    cultural observation, eh? dumbfuck.

  110. 110
    shockna

    @sciencebzzt:

    An interesting note, from Scarr, one of those involved:

    The test performance of the Black/Black adoptees [in the study] was not different from that of ordinary Black children reared by their own families in the same area of the country. My colleagues and I reported the data accurately and as fully as possible, and then tried to make the results palatable to environmentally committed colleagues. In retrospect, this was a mistake. The results of the transracial adoption study can be used to support either a genetic difference hypothesis or an environmental difference one (because the children have visible African ancestry). We should have been agnostic on the conclusions.

    That’s not precisely the conclusive result you claim. You don’t control the environmental/cultural aspect just by changing households. There’s far, far too much cultural impact that goes beyond just the household to make a study like this conclusive.

  111. 111
    michaelbusch

    @sciencebzzt:

    You are interpreting those results incorrectly. They all have relatively small sample sizes, making extrapolating to the general population dubious, and do not account for non-genetic prenatal, neonatal, and early childhood environmental effects.

    And you aren’t even reading some of your references correctly. The Wikipedia article on the Minnesota adoption study results contain the statement “Loehlin (2000) reiterates the confounding problems of the study and notes that both genetic and environmental interpretations are possible.” The Thompson et al. 2001 Nature Neoscience paper referenced in the New Scientist article doesn’t talk about IQ – its focus is on similarities in overall brain structure between twins (although Paul Thompson has done some work describing IQ in particular).

  112. 112
    michaelbusch

    @shockna: Good catch on that one. Stereotype threat sneaks up again…

  113. 113
    Amphiox

    Yeah, IQ correlates with lots of things. Just about the only thing it doesn’t correlate with at all is actual, real intelligence.

  114. 114
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    dumb rednecks who like to watch cars go in a circle for three hours.

    Ah, that’d be me.

    Yeah, IQ correlates with lots of things. Just about the only thing it doesn’t correlate with at all is actual, real intelligence.

    It does correlate to how well a person has absorbed the social system of the middle-aged white men who came up with the tests, doesn’t it?

  115. 115
    skaduskitai

    To be honest I haven’t seen either movie. But it seems to me that the idea that rich people would be more intelligent than poor is weird and it’s not something I’ve seen the slightest evidence of either. Granted most people I know are poor, but still. Nor have I seen this supposed link between stupidity and fertility in real life. And what am I to make of for example my parents? When I was a kid they were dirt poor, then as I grew up they started their own successful buisness and became middle class, now they are retired and poor again although not very poor. Did their intelligence fluctuate as they moved up and down in the social ladder?

  116. 116
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Hey, the Golgafrinchams are another example of stupid people thinking they’re so smart. Yeah, yeah, it seems cool to get rid of the advertisers and harvardmbas and their ilk. But remember what killed them?

    Oh, and let me add another working class ancestry FUCK YOU to harvardmba. Yeah, I was raised middle class, but my great-great-grandparents were all Welsh coal miners, as were most of my great-grandparents. Poor as fuck. But oddly, this terrible genetic disaster of a family tree seems to have produced smart people: one grandfather was a national bridge champion, my father won scholarships to prestige schools and Cambridge, one grandmother got a university degree in the 1920s, and I did pretty well myself. I wonder what my great-grandparents could have done with enough food, and an education…

  117. 117
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    shockna (quoting harvardmba):

    If you want to criticize that opening scene, you may as well criticize Talladega Nights too

    So, tonight’s theme is defend stupid movies with even stupider movies?

  118. 118
    Suido

    The biggest problem with arguments like the one in this thread is that the Noble and Most Highly Intelligent Defenders of IQ think that scoring highly on an IQ test means their thought processes are infallible. Sigh.

    Where are Self-Awareness and Adversity Quotients when we need them – you know, the ability to realise you’ve been tunneling for quite some time and need to ask for help on your assumptions about which direction you were digging.

  119. 119
    Amphiox

    Anyone with even passing familiarity with the eugenics movement can see the parallels with Idiocracy.

    Because the eugenics movement was about more than just eugenics, the thing. It was also about convincing other people to agree with and do eugenics the thing.

    And phase one of that is the “oh, look, here’s a problem. See how it is such a BIG problem? Oh woe is the future of civilization because of this problem! Won’t anyone find a way to solve this problem? We have to, just have to, solve this problem. Just think of the children! We have to spare them from the problem.”

    And Idiocracy fit into that mold like it was made for it.

  120. 120
    Suido

    Holy long sentences batman. Oops.

  121. 121
    michaelbusch

    @Amphiox:

    By itself, your phase one isn’t a bad thing. The problem is when a movement is based around a problem that doesn’t actually exist, or is actually doing something that has little to do with the supposed problem (the eugenics movement was both).

  122. 122
    mithrandir

    Did I miss where the un-aptly named “sciencebzzt” cited a study that IQ correlated inversely with fertility, or has s/he just been beating the drum of the heritability of IQ as if it proved anything by itself?

  123. 123
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    [meta]

    And there was much rejoicing.

  124. 124
    sciencebzzt

    PZ:
    “Since he brought up that common racist trope of “Look, you can easily see physical differences!”, let me point out that, like IQ, height also shows a solid heritable component….”

    Please don’t call me a racist, as I’m not one. And what I said is very obviously not racist. The very concept of race is based on the fact that people whos ancestors come from different geographic areas are phenotypically different. This is an observable fact. Is it because I used height as a metric? I could have just as easily used skin color or the presence of epicanthic folds. Is it racist that I pointed this out? I genuinely don’t understand. Masai Africans ARE statistically taller than Koreans. Masai and Nilotic peoples from Africa have specific body types, tall with long limbs and relatively shorter torsos, adapted for hot weather. Also, its interesting that studies show about the same level of heritability with height as they do with IQ: 75%-85%:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-much-of-human-height

    This is another interesting new study unrelated to what I just wrote:
    http://www.livescience.com/19692-genes-brain-size-intelligence.html

  125. 125
    sciencebzzt

    mithrandir
    here are the studies about the inverse correlation between fertility and IQ:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160289682900022
    same group, 10 years later:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0191886995000388

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016028960300103X

    an interesting, if possibly flawed, study:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/4548943/British-teenagers-have-lower-IQs-than-their-counterparts-did-30-years-ago.html

    and lastly, bear in mind that educational attainment is used as a proxy for IQ in this last study, I don’t want to be looking up studies all night, but that is a totally valid substitution since IQ is also correlated to higher educational attainment:
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p20-555.pdf

  126. 126
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I don’t want to be looking up studies all night,

    Why? You are wrong, so stop your futile attempts

  127. 127
    Rey Fox

    Please respond in good faith.

    Fuck off.

    Oh wait, never mind. :)

  128. 128
    Jadehawk

    For example, Peter M. Visscher of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia recently reported that the heritability of height is 80 percent, based on 3,375 pairs of Australian twins and siblings. This estimate is considered to be unbiased, as it was based on a large population of twins and siblings and a broad survey of genetic markers. In the U.S., the heritability of height was estimated as 80 percent for white men. These estimates are well supported by another study of 8,798 pairs of Finnish twins, in which the heritability was 78 percent for men and 75 percent for women. Other studies have shown height heritability among whites to be even higher than 80 percent.

    oh look, studies of a bunch of westerners. yeah, measuring societies in which chronic malnutrition is comparatively rare is totes not going to skew the results towards genetics as the limiting factor here.

    hell, i’m sure that in socioeconomically egalitarian-ish societies, intelligence may well also be 75-80 percent biologically hereditary; but that ain’t the world we live in, so that doesn’t happen; the relevant limiting factors are other things (and that’s once again not even getting into a discussion about how intelligence isn’t a single directly measurable variable like height)

  129. 129
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    There are still people who seriously think IQ is a valid measure of intelligence ?

    Or that a single test can measure such a thing ?

    Wake up, IQ has not been taken seriously for years.

    One of my current jobs is to evaluate people for disability insurance. Sometimes, we have to determine if someone, because of illness or accident (after a concussion or stroke for instance) has suffered brain damage, and if so, how his/her present faculties compare with the average associated with their education level or previous job, and more particularly which functions are affected. What we use in this case are tests performed by a neuropsychologist.

    Neuropsychological tests are way more intricated than IQ tests, and test for various functions that people associate with intelligence, such as working memory, spacial reasoning, verbal reasoning, ect. It typically takes at least a complete day, and costs thousands of dollars.

    One person might score very high for spacial reasoning and very poorly in verbal. Another average for both. How does one decides on the basis of those scores which of them is more “intelligent” ? It makes no freaking sense. The person with poor verbal might be a genius in her own domain which demands strong spacial reasoning, and therefore be recognized as “smarter” than the one who is close to average in both functions.

    And to add even more complexity, barring permanent brain damage, most of these functions can be trained to some extent !

    To think that such complex and diverse functions can be coherently inherited, as a monolith, over generations, that they don’t influence and modulate each other and that their development is not affected by their environment is the thing that’s pretty moronic here.

  130. 130
    michaelbusch

    @sciencebzzt:

    As PZ already explained, with height as with IQ, you continue to falsely conflate environmental and genetic effects.
    _
    “here are the studies about the inverse correlation between fertility and IQ:”
    _
    Those are a great example of correlation not being causation.
    _
    IQ rises in populations that are better educated in the skill sets that measured by IQ tests, which tend to be those with better education overall.
    _
    Better educated populations have lower fertility, because people who are better educated chose to have fewer children (and have better access to and knowledge of how to use contraception).
    _
    Better public education is also associated with better overall health care, which changes the environment to remove things that cause problems in cognitive development (although we can certainly do better in that regard – others have noted the importance of limiting ingestion of lead and of childhood nutrition).
    _
    Common cause: better education. Separate effects: higher IQ and lower fertility.

  131. 131
    Jadehawk

    British teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts did 30 years ago

    lol. yeah, i’m sure this has nothing at all to do with the UK educational system slowly going to shit.

    I don’t want to be looking up studies all night, but that is a totally valid substitution since IQ is also correlated to higher educational attainment:

    or, you know, the other way ’round: IQ is really just another proxy of how well-trained you’ve become in the type of thinking taught in our educational systems

  132. 132
    Ze Madmax

    sciencebzzt @ #124

    The very concept of race is based on the fact that people whos ancestors come from different geographic areas are phenotypically different.

    “The very concept of race” is based on whatever characteristics are presumed to be owned by ‘Us’ (i.e., Anglo-European, then Western European, then European more broadly) that set us apart from them (i.e., everybody else). See, for example, How the Irish Became White.

    Also, protip: saying “I’m not racist” and then parading a well-disavowed racist trope (that ‘race’ is about biological rather than cultural factors’) does little besides reinforce the idea that when somebody says “I’m not racist” they are merely trying to hide their racism.

  133. 133
    laurentweppe

    I’ll go even farther:

    if you sneer at the underclass and think your line is superior

    It won’t take many generations until your descendants are reduced to a bunch of inept, lazy, diformed, idiotic, inbred parasites without the cognitive capacity to do anything else than waiting to be slaughtered like cattle by the next revolution.

    Speaking of which, the Marching Morons scenario was used much more succesfully earlier: It’s The Time Machine’s future, when the descendant of Britain’s upper-class have turned into the nice, carefree, and utterly stupid Eloi

    ***

    Here’s the real solution to the “marching moron” problem: teach them. Give them fair opportunities. Open the door to education for all. They have just as much potential as you do.

    That’s actually the problem: if the children of the janitors, the factory-workers, the drivers, the street cleaners have as much potential as the blue-blooded, it means that the current system, which actually does breed lazyness and complacency in the upper-class (why making any fucking effort when the game is rigged in your advantage and you know you’ll get a confortable position at the top of the social food-chain by the grace of the almight nepotism?) will inevitably leads to the day when an educated underclass will realize that they are smarter, more hardworking, Stronger than the current nobility and that it is time to overthrow them.

    The upper-class, My social class by the way, fear this moment more than you can imagine. I know people who are actually, right now, trying to give themselves courage by telling themselves that when the plebs rise against them, they will still be able to hire and arm enough thugs to slaughter the populace into submission.

    And the smug subset of self-serving self-proclaimed aristocrats of the minds who love stories like Idiocracy or Atlas Shrugged make the perfect thugs: people who already see themselves as the inherent intellectual elite:
    Are easy to buy, as they will see the cash in their pockets as the proof of their superiority: They took advantage of the system, whereas the rubes just suffer from it.
    Are easy to seduce: only a little syncophancy from someone above their social station suffice to convince them that they’re getting ahead
    Are easy to convince as they already despise the underclass which makes them very willing to swallow hook and line any pseudo-scientific eugenistic or pop-psychology bullshit so long as these confirm their pre-existing sense of inherent superiority.

  134. 134
    Eristae

    British teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts did 30 years ago

    . . . Just how fast do these people think evolution works? If we took this to support the idea that IQ is caused by genetics, then we’d have to accept that there was a statistically significant, genetically caused, nationwide drop in intelligence in about a generation. If IQ worked like this, then why in heaven’s name haven’t we seen an explosion of super-geniuses? Smart people have been having babies with smart people for hundreds of years, and if evolution worked like this, we should already have distinct lineage of geniuses, even if that class was smaller than the lineage of non-geniuses. What gives?

  135. 135
    Jadehawk

    I don’t want to be looking up studies all night, but that is a totally valid substitution since IQ is also correlated to higher educational attainment:

    yeah, i’m sure that’s a perfectly plausible explanation for Finnish people being first considered white, then not, and then again white; and for Mexican Americans only becoming non-white after 1920

  136. 136
    Jadehawk

    huh? that;s not the bit i was quoting: this is what i meant to quote:

    The very concept of race is based on the fact that people whos ancestors come from different geographic areas are phenotypically different.

    anyway, apparently indigenous folks used to be white for a while in Oklahoma, too. totes a category based on phenotype, y’all.

  137. 137
    Rutee Katreya

    anyway, apparently indigenous folks used to be white for a while in Oklahoma, too. totes a category based on phenotype, y’all.

    The Polish, the Italians, and the Spanish were only recently added to the ranks of white people. And you know, these categories vary considerably by locale – the race list in Brazil’s census is entirely different from the race list in the USA’s. But that’s because they’re totes objective measures, yo.

  138. 138
    sciencebzzt

    Ze Madmax
    the concept of ‘race’ conveys real information, and as such its valuable as a label. Its true that humans, especially today with people from different areas living together and having children, exist on a continuum, but there are bulges on that continuum… those bulges are called races. But race is cultural, eh? Sounds like you’ve spent too much time with BA professors and not enough with BS professors. Race is cultural rather than biological? Indeed, I’ll have to tell that to my friend who currently works in pharmacogenomics. He’ll have to abandon all the work he’s done, despite the fact that it saves lives. I’ll have to let him know that hes apparently a racist as well.

    Also, I said “I’m not a racist” because I was specifically called one by PZ for no reason other than pointing out differences in human beings. Its a drastic jump to call someone a racist… PZ apparently likes to use insults though. I’m actually boggled that he’s a professor, judging by his cavalier launching of invective, curses, and rather slanderous insults.

    Have we really come this far into the zone of fear that “racism” no longer means hatred of different races or the belief that some races are superior to others… but is actually applied to people who simply acknowledge the very obvious and objectively real differences among people whos ancestors came from various geographical regions? Its racist to point things out today.

    It’s like the whole IQ gap between blacks and whites… it exists, its very real, and yet no one can say anything about it. It very well could be the result of poor environment, I’m not certain, but still, even then its taboo to even speak of it. People turn away from it and direct their anger at IQ itself… “whats it mean, its culturally biased, its meaningless”. Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence that fits your postmodernist ideal. We’ll never get anything constructive done as a society if we keep this PC blank slate-ism and fear of offense. We have to be able to look at the facts and talk about them openly, thats how you solve problems.

  139. 139
    Jadehawk

    postmodernist ideal

    well, that took long enough, but there it is. It’s such a useful little word to a certain group of people, since it makes it so easy to dismiss the need to acknowledge bias in one’s measurements without jeopardizing one’s feeling of superiority that would otherwise have to accompany the rejection of one of the most important components of both the scientific method and critical thinking.

  140. 140
    chigau (違う)

    gadfekindamit
    I wanted to keep harvardmba as a pet.
    I lost danielhaven, rajkumar and probably some other fucking gits.
    Why does this always happen when I’m not here to point and laugh defenestrate defend them?
    pur wee babbies

    oh well
    on with the catch-up

  141. 141
    Jadehawk

    PC blank slate-ism

    quote anyone saying there is absolutely no biologically heritable component to intelligence or STFU

  142. 142
    sciencebzzt

    jadehawk…
    “a certain group of people”
    you mean like Richard Dawkins, Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont, and other fans of actual science instead of politically infused, “everything is subjective” postmodernist types? I’ll gladly be placed with that certain group of people.

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/824

  143. 143
    roro80

    Dude, you used a racist narrative, and PZ called it out as a racist narrative. Stop using common racist bullshit in your arguments, and you won’t be called out on racist arguments. You know women were considered genetically inferior intellects for pretty much the entirety of human history; given 4 decades of being able to control their own fertility, and they now constitute 57% of college grads in this country. You can site a thousand correlations between x oppressed group’s poor outcomes and genetics, but if you can’t separate them from environment – and you can’t – you’re just trading in bullshit bigoted stereotypes. It’s not pretty.

  144. 144
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    ou mean like Richard Dawkins, Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont, and other fans of actual science instead of politically infused, “everything is subjective” postmodernist types? I’ll gladly be placed with that certain group of people.

    Ah, we all know Dickie Dawk has certain problems, and we can include you in that mess. Still no smoking gun…Funny how the “bologists” can’t prove their point by totally removing culture from the mix….

  145. 145
    Pteryxx

    Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence that fits your postmodernist ideal. We’ll never get anything constructive done as a society (…)

    Why? What does ‘society’ need a supposedly objective, culture-free, single-factor measure of ‘intelligence’ for? What exactly are the constructive anythings that will never get done without it, that can’t be addressed by education, nutrition, health, and safety?

    (Hell, does MENSA even have any charities?)

    (I went and looked for MENSA’s charities and am now LMAO at this.)

  146. 146
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    As phere mentioned Honey Boo Boo @ #42, I feel the need to state my thoughts on her. She seems like a happy, well-adjusted kid, with a healthy body image, and her family supports marriage equality, donates to charity, and also has all her earnings in a trust fund for her.

    But onoes! They’re not appropriately wealthy! And they’re fat! And they eat poor people food! Seriously, fuck off with your classism, and maybe, possibly, if you try exceptionally hard, you might hope to be as good a person as that little girl.

    Also, shit-talking trailer parks makes you a terrible, classist person. Go sit in the corner, and think about how you failed.

    Burgundy @ #56 nails it. Kind, compassionate high school dropouts are a hell of a lot more pleasant than multi-degreed objectivist shitheels. Plus, I’ve met more than my share of rich folks with degrees who damn near killed themselves trying to do such tasks as laundry, or cooking a meal. The first person I knew to own a computer was my paternal grandfather, who programmed for fun, plays multiple instruments, had a very interesting military career and is very well-read. Oh, and grew up in a very, very rural environment, dropped out of school at 14 to work on the docks, then joined the Air Force.

    Audley Z. Darkheart @ #81: Classist eugenicist bullshit also being super fucking misogynist? Well I know I’m shocked.

    Laurentweppe @ #133: This whole comment. Yes.

    Sciencebzzt: I like how every time you vomit out more claims of why you’re totally not racist, you just say even more racist bullshit. Very convincing.

  147. 147
    Eristae

    Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence that fits your postmodernist ideal.

    What in God’s name makes you think this is even possible?

    It’s like the whole IQ gap between blacks and whites…

    First off, as many people have pointed out, there isn’t any kind of consistent racial category that can be defined as “whites.” Are Jews white? Hispanics? Italians? Spanish? Irish?

    Second, whites and blacks in the USA haven’t been reproductively distinct from whites for years; the “white race” put a stop to that by raping black women and getting the black women pregnant. Instead, we take a group of people with dark skin (many of whose ancestors didn’t even come from remotely the same place) and call them black.

    For example, people generally refer to Barak Obama as black, and yet his mother was white. Is he called black because he is genetically closer to Africans than Western Europeans? Of course not. Now, some people will declare that Obama is biracial rather than black, but that only happens because his heritage is so recent and easy to track. If, say, 100 years ago a child was born of a black and white union and then proceed to have children with other biracial children of black-white unions, we’d call them black. And all of this assumes that one could even lump “black” people into one category to begin with, something that is extremely suspect. For example, why wouldn’t one differentiate between a black person with ancestral heritage from Egypt from someone with ancestral heritage in Namibia or Liberia? After all, one surely separates an Iraqi and a Scotsman into different races, and Egypt is roughly the same distance from Liberia as Scotland is from Iraq (actually, the first are probably farther apart from each other than the second). And we don’t; we don’t even try guess where any given black in the USA’s ancestors came from before shoving them into one race category, even if their ancestors did all come from the continent of Africa.

    Or, if you want a visual example, this is a very nice one. These two girls do not have different ancestral backgrounds, and yet anyone who saw them would surely place them into different races. If we didn’t know their background and were going simply from appearance, there wouldn’t even be a question. Yet the same process that created these two girls happens every bloody day in ways that are far less visually apparent.

  148. 148
    Jadehawk

    for lulz:

    Have we really come this far into the zone of fear that “racism” no longer means hatred of different races or the belief that some races are superior to others

    and

    IQ is highly correlated with school achievement and success in later life.

    :-p

    another good one:

    We have to be able to look at the facts and talk about them openly, thats how you solve problems.

    and

    People turn away from it and direct their anger at IQ itself… “whats it mean, its culturally biased, its meaningless”. Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence that fits your postmodernist ideal.

    by all means, let’s look at the facts; except the ones I don’t like, those I’m just gonna dismiss as people being angry. L O L

  149. 149
    chigau (違う)

    Half the people commenting here have below AVERAGE intelligence.
    [as measured by IQ TESTS]
    does anyone care?

  150. 150
    Jadehawk

    you mean like Richard Dawkins

    exactly like that; it’s cute how you think that’s a compliment, though.

  151. 151
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    Trolling
    sciencebzzt@142

    Get the fuck over yourself, you intellectually bankrupt, condesending, racist, failure of a troll. The first paragraph of your link applies to YOU, you goddamn shitegob. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. YOU.

    Racist, privileged assholes. Always trying to iceskate uphill on the coattails of people that actually fucking know what they’re talking about.

  152. 152
    roro80

    #139 I’m getting the impression around here that whenever someone would, on any other site, whine incessantly about liberals, here they just say “postmodernist” instead. It must be the atheist assholese translation of “goshdern librul hippies”. It makes me giggle.

  153. 153
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The abject loser argument knowing it has lost the rational/evidenced argument to skeptics: an argument from authority. And Dickie Dawk isn’t that authority to be putting your argument onto…

  154. 154
    Chris Clarke

    you mean like Richard Dawkins, Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont, and other fans of actual science instead of politically infused, “everything is subjective” postmodernist types? I’ll gladly be placed with that certain group of people.

    Oh, look! Someone’s read the back cover of a book.

  155. 155
    Jadehawk

    Why? What does ‘society’ need a supposedly objective, culture-free, single-factor measure of ‘intelligence’ for? What exactly are the constructive anythings that will never get done without it, that can’t be addressed by education, nutrition, health, and safety?

    QFT

  156. 156
    Jadehawk

    whine incessantly about liberals, here they just say “postmodernist” instead.

    oh, whatshisface whined about liberals, too. I just find those whines amusing though, given that most people I know aren’t liberals.

    And on a side note, I wonder if whatshisface realizes that you can get Bachelor of Science (and Master of Science) degrees in social sciences? cuz his stupid-ass quip from earlier kinda doesn’t work with reality at all.

  157. 157
    Amphiox

    Also, why should ever “superior” intelligence be, in and of itself, necessarily something to be desired?

    If I had to choose between extremely kind and just intelligent enough, and mind-bogglingly intelligent but barely kind enough, I choose the first.

    GIGO. High intelligence alone means more destruction garbage out, faster.

  158. 158
    chigau (違う)

    I liked this so I’m quoting it

    You know women were considered genetically inferior intellects for pretty much the entirety of human history; given 4 decades of being able to control their own fertility, and they now constitute 57% of college grads in this country.

  159. 159
    chigau (違う)

    IQ is not … a … thing
    it’s …. made-up
    it
    fuck
    I’m going to bed

  160. 160
    Eristae

    Why? What does ‘society’ need a supposedly objective, culture-free, single-factor measure of ‘intelligence’ for? What exactly are the constructive anythings that will never get done without it, that can’t be addressed by education, nutrition, health, and safety?

    ^This. Also, if we could come up with an objective, culture-free, single-factor measure of ‘intelligence,’ of what use would it be? Reality isn’t objective, culture free, or single-factor. Being more intelligent in a culture-free way isn’t going to help someone who is living in, you know, a culture. I mean, there was a time in the not so distant past where being able to spell without assistance was important if one wished to accomplish things academically. In that time and place, an intelligence that lent itself to spelling was an advantage. Now? Spell check. As long as you can get into the general ballpark of the word’s correct spelling, you’re good. Our world is moving so fast that we can’t keep the kinds of technology that people rely on the same for even a few years. The internet itself (which we are all communicating over) has radically redefined how people operate intellectually. Our education system hasn’t even figured out how to deal with teaching young people to operate in this altered environment.

  161. 161
    ChasCPeterson

    oo.
    dispatches from the subculture wars.

  162. 162
    Rob Grigjanis

    sciencebzzt @138:

    but there are bulges on that continuum… those bulges are called races.

    Bulges? You do realize that there is much more genetic variation within populations than between them, right? Those bulges are social constructs.

  163. 163
    konradzielinski

    Ironically we now have some evidence that when you put a lot of very intelligent people together. At least intelligent in the way that makes you a good engineer, you will end up with higher rates of autism in the next generation.

    So whatever the genetic contribution to intelligence is, you can end up with too much of a good thing.

  164. 164
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    People turn away from it and direct their anger at IQ itself… “whats it mean, its culturally biased, its meaningless”.

    That’s because it is meaningless and culturally biased.

    If the fact that people can be trained to preform in a test that supposedly measures innate intelligence doesn’t shake your confidence in it even a little bit… It’s apparent that you don’t even understand the nature of what it is you want to measure.

    Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence that fits your postmodernist ideal.

    There already are better tools to assess brain functions. There’s nothing “postmodern” about them, unless insurance companies and their accountants are into postmodernism.

  165. 165
    Koshka

    the concept of ‘race’ conveys real information, and as such its valuable as a label.

    Yes – racists find it particularly valuable.

  166. 166
    Koshka

    chigau,

    gadfekindamit
    I wanted to keep harvardmba as a pet.

    I believe it was you who would often post “Did anyone realise Harvard gave out MBAs?” (or similar) whenever HarvardMBA troll would comment.
    It always made me giggle.

    I will miss this.

  167. 167
    michaelbusch

    @Amphiox @157:

    Also, why should ever “superior” intelligence be, in and of itself, necessarily something to be desired?

    Doesn’t that depend on the metrics we use to define what sort of intelligence is superior to another? Being kind to others should be included in there as well as compared to ability to do mental arithmetic, language skills, and many other things.

  168. 168
    cyberCMDR

    @sciencebzzt
    Sooo many reasons why you are wrong. To name a few:
    – Epigenetics: environmental factors influence how and when our genes get turned on or off, affecting characteristics in individuals and across generations
    – Neuroplasticity: The brain is constantly rewiring itself. In fact, during the teen years the brain actively culls neurons that are not being used because the brain is energy expensive. Someone growing up in an educationally poor environment would suffer more pruning than someone in a highly stimulating environment. Besides this, concerted efforts to master new skills at any age will increase the number of interconnections in the brain, a factor related to intelligence.
    – Maternal diet: The brain grows more before birth than at any other time of life, and it is very dependent on the quality of the mother’s diet. Today, we have cheap calories while good nutrition is more expensive. Many poor mothers think they are eating well, when they are shortchanging their child.
    – Educational disparities: Poorly funded schools have a hard time attracting the best teachers, thus the poor tend to get the short end of the stick in terms of childhood education. Factor in the disinformation being thrown out there by the fundies in some rural areas, and the disadvantages grow.

    Yes, some aspects of intelligence are inherited. But you can’t make generalizations because people are individuals, with unique genetic, cultural, educational and support systems that got them where they are today. This is why any form of prejudice is dead wrong from the start. We are individuals first, and each has to be judged in terms of their character, intelligence, and worth as individuals. Blanket statements about any group, especially when using that to assess any individual, are a sign of the intellectually lazy.

  169. 169
    PatrickG

    @ Pteryxx:

    I went to that Mensa link. Good times. :)

    He and his team gave a nasal spray containing oxytocin to half a study group and one containing salt water to the rest. The subjects then played a game requiring them to decide whether or not to give money away. The oxytocin recipients increased their giving by 80 percent over the others.

    Group 1: Drugged. Group 2: Saline nasal spray. Conclusions about chemistry!!

    I do wonder what the actual salinity of that spray was. I suppose I could look it up, but I’m much more entertained by the following scenario:

    Examiner: Take this spray.
    Subject. Ok. [pause] OH GOD IT BURNS!
    Examiner: Would you like to donate $5 to save the starving cephalopods of Mercury?
    Subject: *snarfle* PLEASE HELP ME! *snort* Wait, Mercury?
    Examiner: Subject displays reluctance to charitable giving. Next!

    Bertie Clarke, for example, touched on some of those points in explaining why she and her husband Jim give to the Foundation: “We’re a three-generation Mensa family. What my grandkids will encounter is based on the research we find. And, yes, it’s tax deductible.*”

    Are you sure this isn’t the Onion? :) Only Mensa can save us all! Donate now or we won’t be a fourth-generation Mensa family!

    * If even the Smartest Amongst Us® can’t recognize the advantages of charitable giving without personal benefit… that study does, after all list other reasons to give. Not exactly a selling point.

  170. 170
    chigau (違う)

    Koshka #166
    Yeah, I was doing the “Harvard gives MBA’s???” schtick.
    I’ll miss it, too.

  171. 171
    evilisgood

    I get the feeling that harvardmba sees the South and the Midwest as one giant trailer park lot. We have houses and apartments, too, dude. Sometimes poor people live in them.

    Ah, but he is gone, so he may never benefit from this wisdom. Sad.

  172. 172
    Azuma Hazuki

    Sorry PZ, but you’d have to be blind not to realize that there are a large collection of “marching morons” out there.

    Where you are correct is that it has little or nothing to do with genetics. Humans tend to store more information culturally and memetically, and if you hypothesize that there are two evolving streams (the genome and the…argh, meme-nome?) you begin to see a very large problem indeed.

    The effects of memetic-marching-moron syndrome don’t track genetics or race, though there is some correlation with class. I’d say the label applies to people whose cultural ideas make them poor fits for reality.

    This cuts clear across boundaries: some of the richest people on the planet are also the lowest memetic-marching-morons because of the complete contempt they hold their fellow humans and their environment in. The fundamentalist Christian is a MMM, as is the suicide bomber, as is the corporate sociopath, as is the career politician, as is the ghetto drug dealer.

    You are also correct that education is the solution, and it’s going to need a strong systems-theory and an even stronger moral component to it. I’d start on the Golden Rule, branch into how everything and everyone is connected, and let the kids draw their own conclusions from there. All of it scientific, all of it religion-neutral.

  173. 173
    ChasCPeterson

    I do wonder what the actual salinity of that spray was.

    0.9%, like all physiological saline. same as the vehicle for the oxytocin.
    would be my guess.

    shit, I just stepped on yr joke, didn’t I.

  174. 174
    PZ Myers

    It’s like the whole IQ gap between blacks and whites… it exists, its very real, and yet no one can say anything about it. It very well could be the result of poor environment, I’m not certain, but still, even then its taboo to even speak of it.

    It is? Then how come every education meeting I’ve gone to talks about it, brings up solutions to address it, and brings in people who have successfully brought underserved populations into the mainstream of the collegiate community? And I’m not talking about transgenic modification of black kids: it’s stuff as simple as giving them the same fucking opportunities white kids have.

    What you really mean is that the people you hang out with just shake their heads and dismiss whole races as not worth bothering with. It’s the people who actually work with these issues who think you’re a goddamned contemptible racist.

  175. 175
    PZ Myers

    I do wonder what the actual salinity of that spray was. I suppose I could look it up, but I’m much more entertained by the following scenario

    It’s a control solution. It’s simply the carrier for the oxytocin with no oxytocin added.

  176. 176
    evilisgood

    Also, could we have one, just one conversation about education without someone trotting out fucking Bell Curve canards as if they are brand new ideas that nobody ever heard of before? If anyone is angry, it’s not because we didn’t score high on an IQ test or because you’re being oh-so-defiant in the face of Oppressive Political Correctness and we Can’t Handle the Truth. It’s because, even though the ideas in The Bell Curve have been debunked over and over again, people still bring out these half-assed studies with their rinky-dink sample sizes and then go, “AHA! Negroes be dim! Bet you didn’t see THAT one coming!”

    We totally saw it coming because it never ever leaves.

    Do I really have to track down all my Howard Gardner links again? Because I know you’re not going to read them. None of you Bell Curvers ever reads them.

  177. 177
    evilisgood

    Gah! WordPress ate my comment. It had some links in it; could that be why?

    The gist of what I said was as follows: Could we please have one conversation about education without someone trotting out these idiotic Bell Curve canards as if no one ever heard of them before? If anyone is angry, it’s not because we scored low on an IQ test or because you are being oh-so-defiant in the face of Oppressive Political Correctness and We Can’t Handle the Truth, it’s because the ideas espoused in The Bell Curve have been repeatedly debunked. Still, here come the half-assed studies with their rinky-dink sample sizes, so people like sciencebzzt can go, “AHA! Negroes be dim! Science says so! Bet you didn’t see that one coming!”

    FTR, we totally saw it coming, because it never, ever leaves.

    Do I really have to bust out my Howard Gardner links again? You won’t read them, will you? Bell Curvers never read them.

  178. 178
    DLC

    “The march of morons” is a fairly persistent theme . It’s also a false one. Popular but not going to happen, much like “the Singularity”.

  179. 179
    cactuswren

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but “The Marching Morons” is AFAICT based on two simple notions, both erroneous:

    1: That there exists a single, quantifiable, heritable trait called “intelligence”.

    2 (this is the one I think a lot of people miss): That there exists a bright line in intelligence measurement, such that two people on the same side of the line will on average produce offspring statistically significantly farther from the line than either of them. In simpler terms, two “smart” parents will produce kids smarter than they are, while two “stupid” parents will produce kids stupider than they are.

    Am I wrong, scientifically? It seems to me that this is the only way the future Kornbluth describes (one subpopulation of supergeniuses, the other with an average IQ of 45 by mid-20th-century measure, no one in between) could be achieved.

  180. 180
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    @cactuswren, #178:

    Not having seen the movie or read the story, I can’t say what the authors intended, but it would be entirely possible for two subpopulations to form in which genetic predispositions would be dramatically enhanced by behavior and cultural taboos, provided they were reasonably isolated from each other. So, for example, if the borders of Texas were sealed off (which I would support, frankly), and everyone in Texas decided not to read ever again and burned all their books and smashed all their computers, then future generations of Texans would be made artificially dumber than people from the rest of the world; it wouldn’t take long before, say, calculus simply ceased to exist entirely. There are all sorts of little ways you could force future generations to become stupider — and if you could convince them at the same time that becoming stupider was beneficial, the condition could last for a very long time indeed. (Insert your own jokes about Catholicism here.) Combine that with a hypothetical strong societal tendency to ostracize or criminalize or even kill anyone who tries to go against the norm, and you would get a subpopulation which was genetically interchangeable with the rest of the world but which was significantly less intelligent. Chances are fairly good that once you reached a certain threshold of stupidity, the population would voluntarily choose to make things even worse. (Don’t need no stinkin’ germ theory — illness is god’s will!)

    In other words: talking about this whole subject only in terms of genetics will lead you to the conclusion that such a thing is impossible, but genetics isn’t the only factor involved.

  181. 181
    laurentweppe

    if you could convince them at the same time that becoming stupider was beneficial, the condition could last for a very long time indeed. (Insert your own jokes about Catholicism here.)

    The fact is, 15 centuries of domination of the Catholic Church over France did not stop its nobility from being overthrown and slaughtered by much smarter commoners at the end of the 18th century. Which demonstrate that artificially turning the plebs into obedient chatel is beyond the reach of even the Most Mighty Catholic Church.

  182. 182
    prae

    Hmm, the human brain does need a lot of resources to grow and a lot of energy to run, so I suppose it might be an advantage in the right environment to become “less intelligent”. Of course, it would take very much longer than 300 years of Idiocracy (never read the marching morons, so no idea about that), and it wouldn’t result in “stupidity” as portrayed there. Other apes aren’t “morons” either, they are competent enough to survive and form something like societies, just (mostly?) not intelligent enough to understand things like nuclear physics.

  183. 183
    Pseudonym

    Is it possible to think that the premise of Idiocracy is ridiculous and rather offensive but still find the movie entertaining?

  184. 184
    unclefrogy

    sorry I wanted to say something just now and will go back up and continue reading some what slowly.
    I have had conservations with some people about this subject and it seems to me that they seem to be saying that intelligence is equal to some measure of success usually at making money.
    Which really boils down to playing the “the game” successfully at least for a time. There are other “games ” to learn besides the conventional ones and the illegal ones that do not make money and require just as much intelligence. If you ask me the last few years has shown that the “elites” on Wall street that run the economy are not any smarter than fool down on the corner selling speed to the cops. We all suffer from their genius thinking of it can’t go wrong it’s a sure thing.

    as for trailer parks being full of morons is concerned. That even by my own limited experience is wrong There is one by me on a cliff over looking the sea surrounded by a golf course full of double & triple wides with car ports and large decks that will set you back a bundle full of “professional people”. some even have education!
    uncle frogy

  185. 185
    hotspurphd

    As a clinical psychologist for 40 years I find the discussion on the topics of 1. whether intelligence testing is valid, reliable,
    and useful and 2. whether it is highly heritable astonishingly ignorant, not to mention unnecessarily vulgar, vitriolic, and downright childish. Just look at the wikipedia articles on intelligence and intelligence heritability. The findings reported here are pretty much the same that I learned decades ago in my training and continue to be true. With some changes as indicated in the 2012 American Psychologist article. Not that IQ measures are perfect or that environment doesn’t play a large role. Still, not everyone as PZ seems to say can do well with enough opportunity. Some people are naturally superior in intelligence and some are well below average and little can be done about that. Some people are DUMB. And some are brilliant. Also check out assortive mating, evidenced at the extreme ends of the normal distribution (bell) curve. rather than continuing to asymptote there are increases in numbers of IQ scores at the extremes. This is because very smart or very dumb people tend to breed with their own IQ level and produce offspring also in the extremes. Please people educate yourselves. Also it is dismaying how sadistic so many of you are. This forum seems to serve as a place for you to act out your psychopathology. Sometimes I love this blog and sometimes I hate it.

  186. 186
    hotspurphd

    P.S. I don’t know how this interacts with the marching morons or eugenics ideas but if less intelligent people breed more it might mean that average IQ goes down. But maybe only this obtains with extemes in intelligence. I don’t know enough about it. But then the Flynn effect shows that IQ has been going up for decades. But the data should speak. And anecdotes are not data.

  187. 187
    Joe

    It’s like the whole IQ gap between blacks and whites… it exists, its very real, and yet no one can say anything about it. It very well could be the result of poor environment, I’m not certain, but still, even then its taboo to even speak of it.

    I mean, it couldn’t possibly be due to cultural differences, could it? Gather around, and I’ll tell a story passed down to me through the generations (well, from my mum)

    When my mum was at uni (in Australia) one of her professors gave her psych class an IQ test. The entire class, pretty much without exception, scored well below average. Why? Well, one of the questions asked what colour a swan was. The ‘correct’ answer was white, but most of the class put black, because swans are black in Australia. The whole point of the exercise was to drive home how much IQ tests rely on your culture, and what can be assumed as common knowledge.

    As another example, here is an IQ test. I can’t answer any of the questions on it. An Aboriginal person, raised in an Aboriginal community in NSW, would probably be able to answer most of them.

  188. 188
    DLC

    Seems to me some of the people around here are perhaps confusing stupidity with ignorance.
    Most religious people aren’t stupid, they’ve just been miseducated into believing that magic fairy man exists and can make everything right for them if only they believe enough.

  189. 189
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Joe, that’s not an IQ test, that’s a trivia test.

  190. 190
    Joe

    John,

    Which one, the swan or the Aboriginal one? The swan one I could very well be misremembering (I was told the story some time ago). The Aboriginal one is presented as an IQ test, but it might not actually be one (I don’t recall ever taking an IQ test, so I am kind of talking out of my arse here)

  191. 191
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Joe, a typical IQ test tries to measure cognitive ability rather than some domain-specific knowledge base, and typically includes aspects such as logical reasoning, mathematical competence, pattern recognition and verbal intelligence.

  192. 192
    Joe

    Ok then. I vaguely recalled there being some sort of general knowledge section, but clearly not. Never mind then.

  193. 193
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    *applause*

    The answer is always going to be education and opportunity and mobility.

    QFT.

  194. 194
    prae

    The questions in the Aboriginal test are pure knowledge questions, how is that an “IQ test”? The one about the swan is the same. The IQ tests I remember were about logical thinking (puzzles, like, you have this 3×3 grid of patterns with some missing, recognize the pattern and complete it).

    It might be possible to construct a real culture-biased IQ test, though. For example, you have some objects (some known, some unknown) and several colors, and have to use the method of elimination to connect them. One of the known objects is “swan”, and if you connect it to black instead of white, you will get the wrong result.

    No idea if that’s because my own biases, but I find it actually hard to construct such a biased test. If anyone has a better example I would be grateful.

  195. 195
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Amphiox

    Also, why should ever “superior” intelligence be, in and of itself, necessarily something to be desired?

    As I understand it, intelligence is your ability to recall knowledge and use it to solve problems (this is supposedly what the IQ test measures). I can certainly see why that is desireable, but I agree with PZ in so far as I know of no concrete information that says it is inherited, nor do I see any reason that it can’t be taught.

  196. 196
    Joe

    Yeah, I was working off a half remembered anecdote and about 2 minutes of googling. I also know very little about IQ tests, having never been terribly interested in them, so clearly I’m well off base on this one.

  197. 197
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    Joe, the point being made is a valid one, it’s the means of making it that would make a psychometrician cringe; you’re not that far off-base.

  198. 198
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @HarvardMBA

    Sometimes P Zed just doesn’t make an ounce of sense. He sits here, day in and day out, RAILING against the fact that the stupid people will not allow the teaching of proper science.

    PZ rails against ignorant people teaching “science”. Ignorance =/= stupidity.

    I know he’s gone, but I felt it was an important point to make.

  199. 199
    Joe

    Joe, the point being made is a valid one, it’s the means of making it that would make a psychometrician cringe; you’re not that far off-base.

    Well, making people cringe is always fun :). Still, I think it’s best if I hold off on commenting on things I don’t know too much about. I’m a physicist, and I’ve lurked around here long enough to know what happens when physicists try to be experts in things they are not (we end up looking kind of silly).

    Rather more on topic, I’m going to second (or third, or wherever we are up to) this:

    The answer is always going to be education and opportunity and mobility.

  200. 200
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Sciencebzzzzt #76

    From what I understand, IQ is highly heritable. Studies show 75% to 85% . It’s also been shown that fertility and IQ are inversely correlated. Now… isn’t that a recipe for an overall trend in the population? That is how evolution works, isn’t it? I mean, am I missing something?

    Yes. Did it ever occurr to you that highly educated/intelligent parents would probably place an emphasis on education/intelligence and thus encourage their child to become accomplished in academia? Whereas a less well educated/intelligent parent would be more likely to encourage their child to focus their energies elsewhere (sports, for example).

  201. 201
    John Morales

    [OT]

    One name: Srinivasa Ramanujan

  202. 202
    thetalkingstove

    I’ve always wondered why some people spell out the 26th letter like that. Why not go all out and say Pee Zed? I guess it’s a British thing, but they don’t actually write out the phonetics do they? Just say “I’m British” in the opening statement and we can read it in that silly accent if we want.

    As a British person, I think using the name “P Zed” is silly and kinda rude.
    If I’m in France and meet Jean-Pierre I don’t insist on pronouncing the first part of his name as if it were a pair of Levi’s.

    Seems pretty self-important to continually point out that we pronounce the letter Z differently. Who cares?

  203. 203
    hotspurphd

    see post 185. seems no one has taken my advice and read the wikipedia articles. some one asks where are the studies of heritability of intelligence. at the wikipedia entry “heritability of IQ just looking at the twin studies you find this:

    Correlations between IQ and degree of genetic relatedness

    The relative influence of genetics and environment for a trait can be calculated by measuring how strongly traits covary in people of a given genetic (unrelated, siblings, fraternal twins, or identical twins) and environmental (reared in the same family or not) relationship. One method is to consider identical twins reared apart, with any similarities which exists between such twin pairs attributed to genotype. In terms of correlation statistics, this means that theoretically the correlation of tests scores between monozygotic twins would be 1.00 if genetics alone accounted for variation in IQ scores; likewise, siblings and dizygotic twins share on average half of their alleles and the correlation of their scores would be 0.50 if IQ were affected by genes alone (or greater if, as is undoubtedly the case, there is a positive correlation between the IQs of spouses in the parental generation). Practically, however, the upper bound of these correlations are given by the reliability of the test, which is 0.90 to 0.95 for typical IQ tests[51]

    If there is biological inheritance of IQ, then the relatives of a person with a high IQ should exhibit a comparably high IQ with a much higher probability than the general population. In 1982, Bouchard and McGue reviewed such correlations reported in 111 original studies in the United States. The mean correlation of IQ scores between monozygotic twins was 0.86, between siblings, 0.47, between half-siblings, 0.31, and between cousins, 0.15.[52]

    The 2006 edition of Assessing adolescent and adult intelligence by Alan S. Kaufman and Elizabeth O. Lichtenberger reports correlations of 0.86 for identical twins raised together compared to 0.76 for those raised apart and 0.47 for siblings.[53] These number are not necessarily static. When comparing pre-1963 to late 1970s data, researches DeFries and Plomin found that the IQ correlation between parent and child living together fell significantly, from 0.50 to 0.35. The opposite occurred for fraternal twins.[54]

    Another summary:

    Same person (tested twice) .95
    Identical twins—Reared together .86
    Identical twins—Reared apart .76
    Fraternal twins—Reared together .55
    Fraternal twins—Reared apart .35
    Biological siblings—Reared together .47
    Biological siblings—Reared apart .24
    Unrelated children—Reared together .30
    Parent-child—Living together .42
    Parent-child—Living apart .22
    Adoptive parent–child—Living together .19[55]

    do you need any more.
    as to bias, culture,validity etc., intelligence is the best studied human psychological trait. The tests have the highest reliability and validity scores of any other kind of test of human traits. This information can be found in any introductory undergraduate text. Now if I were to sink to the level of many here i would call you assholes, ignoramusses, morons. but i won’t. i expect more from this group.

  204. 204
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    And I would expect someone who actually had any experience with clinical psychology to know that “sadistic” and “psychopath” don’t mean “people I find unpleasant”. But we can’t all get what we want, now can we?

    Whomp whomp.

  205. 205
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @The Talking Stove

    If I’m in France and meet Jean-Pierre I don’t insist on pronouncing the first part of his name as if it were a pair of Levi’s.

    I agree. There was a manager at one of our depots who landed himself in the shit for insisting on calling a Polish Warehouse Operative “Peter”, when his name was “Piotr”. Aparently on being told “My name is Piotr, not Peter” this guy’s stock response was “Well it’s Peter in English, and I’m English. Why should I change my language to accomodate you?”.

    *rage*. The stupidity is mind boggling, and he totally deserved the disiplinary. It angers me when people make no effort whatsoever to accomodate other people’s languages. Especially when on holiday; you should make at least some effort to speak their language.

  206. 206
    Suido

    Shorter hotspurphd:

    I’m a Tottenham fan who thinks I can claim to be a 40 year veteran of clinical psychology AND use the letters PhD in my nym, because obviously a 40 year veteran of any industry would still be most proud of their PhD, rather than any of their post-doc accomplishments.

    I’ll then cite wikipedia, then follow it up with citations that wikipedia cited, and call everyone morons in the most passive aggressive fashion known to humanity.

  207. 207
    hotspurphd

    DARKHEART
    “and I would expect someone who actually had any experience with clinical psychology to know that “sadistic” and “psychopath” don’t mean “people I find unpleasant””
    You presume. I use the word sadistic to describe the behavior of some people here- behavior intended to hurt uneccesarily. And I did not use the word “psychopath”. I said psychopathology, The word that later meant problems and has been replaced with “issues”. Nothing to do with psychopath though there could be some of those here. Again I’m being descriptive. I think some are acting out their “issues” if you like, their overdetermined, for example, need to insult and wound others. None of this is necessary to discuss these issues and doesn’t help in persuading. It may make some feel better and drive others away. I’ve said these things before. never got a response before. won’t change anything.
    hope some reads the stuff on intelligence. maybe learn something instead of just spouting off.
    and i have actually had experience as a clinical psychologist. It’s true I don’t like the insulting people but again I was being descriptive and not saying i didn’t like them. i was evaluating the level of discourse. PZ wouldn’t you rather host a blog where the discourse is more civil and informed? The rancor tends to make it harder to listen and to back down when appropriate. there is not sufficient humility here . people are labeled trolls too quickly. but then that is your PSYCHOPATHOLOGY. look it up if you need to.

  208. 208
    hotspurphd

    not calling anyone morons but if i were it would be only some not all.

  209. 209
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Lyanna

    I’d say there was as much abuse, neglect, theft, rape, bigotry and idiocy to go around in all of those places.

    Yeah, but wealthier people have a lot more chances of covering up, the biggest one being that nobody looks at them. Hey, everybody knows it’s the poor and uneducated who rape and abuse, and neglect their children. Not some nice midle-classs people with college degrees and a nanny…

    Eriastae
    “An IQ test meassures what the IQ test meassures”
    Quote.
    From lecture on the topic…

    sciencebzzt

    IQ is highly correlated with school achievement and success in later life. I mean, these are facts.

    Yes, they are highly correlated. Not 1. Oh, and, why should it surprise that people who take two similar tests (if we regard school as a long test) get similar results.
    That’s the whole trick behind IQ tests: Define Intelligence as those abilities you can train in school and are valued by society.

    Please don’t call me a racist, as I’m not one.

    See, that’s why I keep telling the Crommunist that his approach isn’t working.
    Nobody called you a racist, dumbfuck.

    Also, how do they meassure fertility in a world with contraception?
    Alethea

    I wonder what my great-grandparents could have done with enough food, and an education…

    I don’t need to look at great-grandparents. My grandpa was a coalminer. He would have liked to become a watchmaker. Sadly there was no money. My mum would have liked to go to college, but she had to leave school after 10th grade because there was no money. And I graduated best from my highschool. So, what did we get in those three generations? Money or new genes?

  210. 210
    hotspurphd

    if you don’t think wikipedia is a good source try somewhere on the net, or as i said any undergraduate textbook in psych.
    this is basic stuff. how s.j. gould got it so wrong in THE MISMEASURE OF MAN is a mystery to me.

  211. 211
    Suido

    Oh dear, I gave hotspurphd too much credit. That’s no citation and discussion, that’s copypasta. From wikipedia. By someone with phd in their nym, claiming to have 40 years clinical experience.

    This is absurd, but I’m torn between delightfully or sadly.

  212. 212
    bargearse

    Suido@210

    harvardmba gets banned, hotspur phd appears. I’m a little suspicious that someone is not only upgrading their credentials but also morphing.

  213. 213
    chigau (違う)

    And I would expect someone who actually had any experience with clinical psychology to know that “IQ” and “intelligence” are not equivalent terms.
    And I would expect someone with a !!!PHD!!!!! to know about punctuation.

  214. 214
    Suido

    Good point.

    The inconsistency in hotspurphd’s use of punctuation speaks of an unnatural writing style. Post 206 is particularly damning.

    And it appears xe is unable to resist the occasional, fully capitalized words.

  215. 215
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    how s.j. gould got it so wrong in THE MISMEASURE OF MAN is a mystery to me.

    How you can’t shut the fuck because you are wrong is a mystery to me. You aren’t as smart as you think you are.

  216. 216
    Eristae

    I’m going to do a hit and run here, but there isn’t anything weird about a racist test being able to predict that “blacks” will do less well than “whites” in a racist society that bestows greater privilege to whites than to blacks.

    PS:
    @hotspurphd

    One of the things I was consistently taught in my undergraduate psch classes (both from the text and from the teachers) is that IQ is bullshit. Not necessarily bullshit that doesn’t do anything (see above), but still bullshit.

    Now, fleeeeee.

  217. 217
    Eristae

    Oh and, PPS:

    If anyone wants to explain to me why (as I said above) it is okay to lump a person from Liberia in with someone from Egypt for no reason that I can discern but separate someone from Iraq from someone from Scotland, do feel free. Because everything from my biology background says that we can’t categorize people that way by looking at genetics. But who cares about that, eh?

  218. 218
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    So let me get this straight… HarvardMBA is banned, hotspurphd appears. Really?

    I don’t think they’re the same person, the writing style is different. But it is further proof that there is no God.

  219. 219
    hillaryrettig

    Check out David Shipler’s The Working Poor. Shipler is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and this is the best and most nuanced examination of the impoverished, disenfrancised classes I’ve seen. Anyone with a strong interest in these issues should check this out. He is very clear that the poor people he reported on were almost always poor through a combination of societal inequity and their own mistakes, but the societal inequity part predominated.

    There are a lot of people in the world who only need a break, but never get that break.

  220. 220
    Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    Eristae, your final link at #147 is broken and I badly want to see the comparison. I think I know exactly what I’ll see, but I want it confirmed.

  221. 221
    Eristae

    @219/Thomathy

    Gosh darn it. I’ll post it again and hope it works. Note that I picked this particular article because it provided a photograph update.

    Kian and Remee turn seven!

  222. 222
    hillaryrettig

    It would be great to have this whole conversation referencing Wikipedia’s logical fallacies page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_fallacies

    And also Dunning Krueger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

  223. 223
    Eurasian magpie

    In my extended family there is a very similar example as Kian and Remee although in this case the kids are not twins. The eldest could be classified as ‘black’ at the first sight. It is very obvious that he has one grand-parent from the Sub-Saharan Africa. The second one does not look any different from any 100% ethnic Finn. In fact he is much blonder than my good self. And when their mother was pregnant for the third child the two boys were overheard pondering, what colour will the new-comer be…

  224. 224
    erik333

    208 Giliell, professional cynic

    “That’s the whole trick behind IQ tests: Define Intelligence as those abilities you can train in school and are valued by society.”

    Hmm… What am I missing? Obviously schools should train abilities that society values, and if IQ tests are designed to measure those same traits… isn’t that the point?

  225. 225
    burgundy

    Ooh ooh, I want to play too! Hey hotspur, I can appeal to authority just as well: My undergrad degree is in psychology (with a minor in anthroplogy). My sister-in-law is ABD in educational psychology. I am sitting not six inches away from a book written by faculty members of the UC Berkely sociology department. Consensus: IQ tests are shit.

    I can also do argumentum ad wikipedia: you mentioned the Flynn effect, apparently in support of your overall argument. But the entry for the Flynn effect specifically says that the increase has been too rapid to attribute to genetic factors, and lists possible explanations, including better nutrition, better education, and a wider spread of test-taking skills (which has some implications about the construct validity of IQ tests.)

  226. 226
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I can haz fake degrees also too, plz?
    hotspurphd:

    DARKHEART

    WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?

    For the record:
    Bold: <b>text</b> gives you text
    Italic: <i>text</i> gives you text
    Blockquote: <blockquote>text</blockquote> gives you

    text

    Give it a shot sometime!

    I use the word sadistic to describe the behavior of some people here- behavior intended to hurt uneccesarily.

    Which isn’t sadistic behavior, unless you’re classifying just about everyone as a sadist (because, let’s face it, who hasn’t tried to get a jab in at least once in their lives?). Acting rude and hurtful is mean and unpleasant, but not sadistic. Try again.

    (I’m not quite sure who exactly has been SO RUDE as to warrant being called “sadistic”. Care to quote someone? Anyone?)

    I think some are acting out their “issues” if you like, their overdetermined, for example, need to insult and wound others.

    Armchair psychology! A mark of a truly great, experienced, and well respected clinical psychologist! (To be clear: that was sarcasm, not sadism.)

    Also, LULZ at the totes academic use of “issues”.

    None of this is necessary to discuss these issues and doesn’t help in persuading. It may make some feel better and drive others away.

    Holy tone trolling, Batman!

    I’ve said these things before. never got a response before. won’t change anything.
    hope some reads the stuff on intelligence. maybe learn something instead of just spouting off.
    and i have actually had experience as a clinical psychologist.

    Holy sentence fragments, Batman!

    It’s true I don’t like the insulting people but again I was being descriptive and not saying i didn’t like them. i was evaluating the level of discourse.

    So, you weren’t insulting us by calling us sadists? I find that hard to believe.

    PZ wouldn’t you rather host a blog where the discourse is more civil and informed?

    I never understood the impulse some people have to comment on a blog about how said blog could be run better. Did I miss something? Did PZ ask for advice when I wasn’t reading? ‘Cos if not: OMG, rude.

    there is not sufficient humility here .

    Coming from someone who just told PZ how to run his blog.

    I think you and I have very different definitions of “humility”.

    but then that is your PSYCHOPATHOLOGY. look it up if you need to.

    I’ll admit, I was wrong when I said that you labelled us “psychopaths”. However, you’re still using that word incorrectly, so there’s that. (Here’s a hint: “psychopathology” would have to do with the study of our disorders, which no one is currently doing.)

  227. 227
    burgundy

    erik333 @223: if IQ tests measure stuff that gets trained in school, then they measure the quality of training, not anything innate. And if we focus on attributes that society values, then our tests are necessarily culturally based, and again not measuring a constant, innate trait.

  228. 228
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Me:

    Here’s a hint: “psychopathology” would have to do with the study of our disorders, which no one is currently doing.

    Which also assumes that all of us have disordered thinking/behaviors. There’s no way to tell based on a bunch of text on a screen.

    So sorry.

  229. 229
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    erik333

    “That’s the whole trick behind IQ tests: Define Intelligence as those abilities you can train in school and are valued by society.”

    Hmm… What am I missing? Obviously schools should train abilities that society values, and if IQ tests are designed to measure those same traits… isn’t that the point?

    You’re missing two points:
    A) You take a very concrete set of skills and then define it as a general “intelligence”for all humans everywhere.
    B) Those things correlate with other things as well, mostly socio-economic status.

  230. 230
    ChasCPeterson

    Oh boy, the IQ thing.
    Another ‘debate’ that never gets old. Who here can explain in their own words what a ‘standard deviation’ is? (Where’s that guy Pesta?)

    It would be great to have this whole conversation referencing Wikipedia’s logical fallacies page…And also Dunning Krueger

    It would be a very different conversation, that’s for sure. (I wonder if we’re talking about the same comments.)

    I can appeal to authority just as well

    Sure, but why? Stupid for the goose, stupid for the gander.
    This is a matter of considerable controversy within the discipline of Psychology. Arguments like “my psych prof/brother-in-law/author-of-a-soxciology-text-from-Berkeley/copy of Gould sez X” are simply statements of opinion. (Nerd?)

    Of course, an appeal to an authority’s data is different from an appeal to an authority’s opinion. As far as I can tell, the only data anybody’s brought to bear on this (quantitative) topic were simply brushed away as “from Wikipedia”.

    and so that’s my hobbyhorse ride for the day.

  231. 231
    ChasCPeterson

    data</i>

  232. 232
    Rey Fox

    harvardmba gets banned, hotspur phd appears. I’m a little suspicious that someone is not only upgrading their credentials but also morphing.

    They’re not even close to the same. Jeez.

    PZ wouldn’t you rather host a blog where the discourse is more civil and informed?

    No, he wouldn’t. Not the first one, anyway. He and the rest of us know that calls for “civility” are really just calls for marginalized people to shut up. And anyway, we’re plenty informed here, the tone trolls tend to skip over all the information and focus solely on the tone.

  233. 233
    Suido

    ChasCPeterson:

    “the only data anybody’s brought to bear on this (quantitative) topic were simply brushed away as “copypasta. From Wikipedia”

    FTFY. No evidence of any understanding of the topic, no consideration of other opinions in the thread, no attempt to engage, but dodgy claims of authority and plenty of disdain for the commentariat. Seems pretty brushable.

    @Rey Fox:
    Imagine harvardmba wanted to disguise his writing. Then read #206 and check the inconsistency in capitalising the letter I.

  234. 234
    Anthony K

    The most glaring thing about these discussions is how abstract IQ seems to be unless it’s the IQs of marginalised people. Why is it that the IQs of the people participating in these discussions doesn’t matter? How come nobody’s ponied up with their own?

    Well, I will. My measured IQ is somewhere north of a buck fifty. That’s the bar I’m setting. And I say, based on my nearly forty years of being smarter than most everybody else, that IQ doesn’t really mean all that much.

    And I won’t be entertaining arguments to the contrary from people with lower IQs than mine: they’re self-refuting.

  235. 235
    Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    Eristae, I remember them. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since. That’s exactly the sort of thing that will clearly identify environment and priors as ultimate contributors rather than sciencebzzt’s silly notion that the critical component of intelligence (or whatever metric) is genetics. It also throws away, casually, the notion that race is some sort of ultimately genetic thing, that certain phenotypic differences define the perceptions of race.

    I so badly want sciencebzzt to come back here and tell us exactly how those two girls’ race is anything other than a cultural construct. I imagine that it will be an amusing exercise, despite the probability of it being replete with racist garbage.

  236. 236
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    “This is HotspurPhD, a legendary tone troll. All craftsmanship is of the lowest quality. It is made of Bullshit and lined with self-righteousness. It is studded with civility. It menaces with spikes of privilege. On the tone troll is an image of a weeping man crying out about ‘everyone just getting along’ and ‘being civil.’ On the tone troll is an image of the Tentacle God PZm smiting the tone troll with his banhammer, ‘Cephalopoda.’

    /flees after making Dwarf Fortress joke

  237. 237
    Eristae

    @Anthony K
    I can’t ever take part in conversations that require a high IQ because I’ve never had my IQ tested. In fact, I don’t know anyone in real life whose IQ has been tested because it’s so useless that no one who I’ve ever encountered has been a situation where it would be helpful to measure someone’s IQ. I’ve only ever encountered online IQ tests (which I’m sure are absolute bunk), and the only things they ever convinced me of are that a) online IQ tests bore the everloving fuck out of me b) I can get better at IQ tests with practice and training.

    @Eurasian magpie
    Indeed! And because what happened in your family isn’t as dramatic or unusual as what happened with Remee and Kian, your family will never make international headlines. Exceptions to the race rule aren’t unusual, for all that we want to pretend that they are.

    @Thomathy
    I’ve never had anyone answer, I assume because they can’t. I mean seriously, how do these studies that rate black people as lower in IQ even decide who is black and who is white? What is their metric? Self-identification? Self-identification of family members? Physical appearance? It’s not possible to do some kind of genetic test to determine if someone one is one race or another. Family trees wouldn’t work, either, as most people don’t have extensively mapped family trees and even if they did, we don’t know which genes are getting passed on where. It’s also clear that geographic ancestral location of origin isn’t the issue (hence why they measure for “black” vs “white” matters but not “Egyptian” vs “Liberian”). These people take something they can’t define, can’t determine, and can’t test for and then insist that it matters.

    And for the love of pizza, I hate it when people bring up race as a predictor of physical characteristics and try to shove it into race as a predictor of intelligence. Race is overwhelmingly defined by physical characteristics, so of course it would be a reasonable predictor of physical characteristics. The use of physical characteristics as the determining factor in race is why we even talk about “white” vs “black” and it’s why Remee would be categorized as white while Remee would be categorized as black. If we went up to a bunch of people and asked if Remee and Kian’s parents were black or white, people would overwhelmingly answer “black” without question. Only because of Remee and Kian’s unusual contrasting appearances makes the issue of where people fall on the racial scale come up. We might as well start rambling off how IQ is a reasonable predictor of IQ.

    One of the things I’ve wondered about (but never really looked into) is if the people who think that race is a reasonable indicator of IQ also think that IQ is a reasonable indicator of race. If we had someone with, say, an IQ of 90 and another person with an IQ of 110, do these people think that they can predict race of these two people? What categories of race would they even choose to include in their predictions? If we had 5,000 people with a wide range of IQ scores, do these people even have a rough idea of how they would decide to parse the 5,000 people into race categories? Because my guess is the answer is “no.”

  238. 238
    Anthony K

    @Anthony K
    I can’t ever take part in conversations that require a high IQ because I’ve never had my IQ tested. In fact, I don’t know anyone in real life whose IQ has been tested because it’s so useless that no one who I’ve ever encountered has been a situation where it would be helpful to measure someone’s IQ. I’ve only ever encountered online IQ tests (which I’m sure are absolute bunk), and the only things they ever convinced me of are that a) online IQ tests bore the everloving fuck out of me b) I can get better at IQ tests with practice and training

    That’s okay. You only have to admit your IQ if you’re actually claiming it measures something more substantial than one’s ability to take IQ tests, i.e. the elitists and ‘race realists’ who insist on bringing up IQ only as it relates to black people and trailer park denizens, but are curiously mum on their own, measured IQs.

  239. 239
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Eristae:

    In fact, I don’t know anyone in real life whose IQ has been tested because it’s so useless that no one who I’ve ever encountered has been a situation where it would be helpful to measure someone’s IQ.

    I had my IQ tested when I was a child to determine whether or not it was appropriate for me to skip a grade in elementary school. I’ve never been told what my score was, but considering that I didn’t skip a grade, my guess is I’m about average.

    So, I’m not included in the convo, either. D:

  240. 240
    Anthony K

    Seriously, am I the first, on a thread about how important and meaningful and scientific IQ is, to actually bring up my own?

    Why, it’s almost as if, when it comes down to it, nobody here really believes IQ matters all that much with regard to one’s ability to participate and think through difficult subjects. It’s as if IQ is just another dogwhistle the racists and classists use to describe the scary Others.

  241. 241
    Kagehi

    I enjoyed Idiocracy for the funny, but I recognize that it is completely unscientific. I saw it as a critique of modern consumer culture and popular media, rather than a satirical prediction of the future.

    I second this. But, really, the problem isn’t that stupid people breed more, its that people who “choose” to be stupid, don’t know any better. And, that is a real problem. Its damned easy to be a total fraking moron, all you have to do is disdain knowledge, assume that you can get by without it (not that hard, sadly, in most jobs), then just pretend that the consequences are all someone else’s fault. I.e., because, say, a libertarian, or religious, or like.. a right winger.

    So, yeah, people that ignore reality breed more than the ones that don’t. This doesn’t make them genetically stupider, but… the result is probably not a whole hell of a lot different, in the long run, if enough of them opt for denying reality, and letting things go to shit (just look at infrastructure in the US, and all the stupid arguments against fixing that, then extend it to, say.. a world where you don’t have to think, at all, to do medicine, i.e., the machine with pictures on it, and the three probes, in the movie). If you make things so easy even a fool can use it, a lot of people will just opt to be total fools. Its, quite simply, much, much, easier than having a damn clue how any of it works, or why.

  242. 242
    Kagehi

    Sigh.. “become, say, a…” Bleh.. Got to stop trying to rush a post, right before leaving for work. lol

  243. 243
    laurentweppe

    In fact, I don’t know anyone in real life whose IQ has been tested

    I was tested, twice early in middle school: in one case I ended up with a score around 85, while in the other one I ended at 160: so I was basically at the asme time Forrest Gump AND Smarter than my adult teachers… This convinced me that this test was a big pile of shit.

    On the plus side, every time a racist douche brings up the IQ as a way to validate his prejudices, I can always boast in the most arrogant, unapologetic, trollish way that I scored higher than him.

  244. 244
    Anthony K

    On the plus side, every time a racist douche brings up the IQ as a way to validate his prejudices, I can always boast in the most arrogant, unapologetic, trollish way that I scored higher than him.

    +1. (In case it wasn’t clear that this is exactly what I’m doing.)

  245. 245
    Eristae

    @Anthony K

    To a person, the race realists that I’ve met so far fall into one of three categories.

    1) They don’t know their IQ.
    2) They know their IQ as demonstrated by online IQ tests (*sigh*)
    3) They insist they are MENSA members.

    And you’re right; it is amazing how much race realists are willing to invest in the accuracy of IQ test in regards to people other than themselves.

    But as a side note, I thought that this study was particularly amusing:

    In the study, the researchers first looked at test results among 2,008 boys, some paid for good test results and others offered nothing. “As predicted, a systematic dose–response relationship was observed between incentive size and IQ score gain,” write the researchers. In other words, offer more dough and suddenly the boys were a lot smarter, somehow.

    Original study

  246. 246
    Eristae

    @Anthony K

    Seriously, am I the first, on a thread about how important and meaningful and scientific IQ is, to actually bring up my own?

    As far as I know, yes, you are the first.

    Why, it’s almost as if, when it comes down to it, nobody here really believes IQ matters all that much with regard to one’s ability to participate and think through difficult subjects. It’s as if IQ is just another dogwhistle the racists and classists use to describe the scary Others.

    Dun dun DUN!

  247. 247
    Anthony K

    As far as I know, yes, you are the first.

    I guess all the race realists are just too goddamn PC. How else to explain their cowardice?

  248. 248
    Worldtraveller

    As someone who had to live far too long in Kansas, I disagree with the title of this post.

  249. 249
    roro80

    @laurentweppe #242 — I had almost the exact same experience, but I was tested in elementary school. My teacher recommended I get tested for the GATE program for advanced kids, and I got the score of a developmentally disabled kid — my folks never told me what the score was on that test. They insisted I get tested again because the school was suddenly talking about putting me in special ed. My second test came out as 163, which my folks told me after I turned 18. So yeah: bullshit all around.

  250. 250
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    You only have to admit your IQ if you’re actually claiming it measures something more substantial than one’s ability to take IQ tests, i.e. the elitists and ‘race realists’ who insist on bringing up IQ only as it relates to black people and trailer park denizens, but are curiously mum on their own, measured IQs.

    I’m either above your bar or at least very close below it, and I claim that (whatever “IQ” is and whatever IQ tests neasure) everybody is stupid in significant ways. Yes, me, too. I’m not just talking about cute absent-minded-professor lapses. So-called common sense is not common. I think we all could do with a lot more humility.

    I think failure of humility is a cause of some guys pressing their “race-realism”. They want a distraction from their own mediocrity and the distraction takes the form of yeah, but, look at that group of dumb-bunnies over there, can’t you see how stupid they are Without someone to feel superior to, where would they be?

    Western industrialized society values so many of the wrong things. Yes, IQ (whatever it is) may correlate highly with success in society, but what good is “success” anyways? What about valuing compassion, energy, cheerfulness, patience, flexibility, and “common sense” more than IQ/success? Once we’ve gotten healthy food and shelter for everyone, how about focusing on happiness rather than the trappings of success? Now that would be a society I’d like to live in.

  251. 251
    Eristae

    On the plus side, every time a racist douche brings up the IQ as a way to validate his prejudices, I can always boast in the most arrogant, unapologetic, trollish way that I scored higher than him.

    I periodically think about getting tested for this reason. However, every time I think about this, I remember that I’d have to pay to get one done at this point in my life. I’m also faced with the disquieting urge to study for the IQ test, which one isn’t supposed to be able to do but one can actually do.

  252. 252
    Natalie Reed

    Amazing how much sneering classism and out-group essentializing is even in this comment thread, simply choosing the groups that are perceived to be the acceptable targets for THIS space/community. “Well…uh… what about fundamentalists? Creationists? etc”

    You’re doing the EXACT SAME THING that the sci-fi geeks do towards the “rabble” who like “stupid pop music” or whatever. Selecting a group YOUR group looks down on, and then essentializing them as INHERENTLY “less intelligent” or deprived of potential (which, for fundamentalists, is bullshit. I have TONS of amazingly intelligent, gifted friends who used to be fundamentalists. Religion simply extorts uncommonly strong psychological pressures to believe).

    People with this kind of lack of self-awareness as to their responses should TOTES be removed from the gene pool! :P

  253. 253
    alwayscurious

    I believe this:

    129:

    One person might score very high for spacial reasoning and very poorly in verbal. Another average for both. How does one decides on the basis of those scores which of them is more “intelligent” ? It makes no freaking sense. The person with poor verbal might be a genius in her own domain which demands strong spacial reasoning, and therefore be recognized as “smarter” than the one who is close to average in both functions.

    Is the start of the answer to this:

    138:

    Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence

    Sciencebzzt, unfortunately you’re the victim of popular science: by the time you’ve read the Scientific American or NYT articles about any given science question, the research is already far progressed beyond that point. As far as genetics is concerned, neither IQ nor intelligence is going to change in the population very rapidly (excluding catastrophic conditions). As such, arguing the degrees of heritability is an entertaining exercise supported by thin threads of data. That leaves, as the quickest & easiest way to influence the expression of these traits, modifying the environment.

  254. 254
    NitricAcid

    I haven’t worried about IQ (mine, or anyone else’s) since high school. At the time, I found out that my IQ was supposed to be 132, based on the test I had done eight years prior. I had learned in psychology that IQ could change by as much as five points per year, and so, with the negative self-esteem that had been pounded into me by the bullies of my school for ten years, all I could do was wonder if I was retarded yet.

    I’m much happier not worrying about IQ.

  255. 255
    ChasCPeterson

    No evidence of any understanding of the topic, no consideration of other opinions in the thread, no attempt to engage, but dodgy claims of authority and plenty of disdain for the commentariat. Seems pretty brushable.

    These are all qualities of the commenter, not the data.
    Why, it’s as if you missed my entire point!

  256. 256
    Chris Clarke

    Anthony K:

    Well, I will. My measured IQ is somewhere north of a buck fifty. That’s the bar I’m setting. And I say, based on my nearly forty years of being smarter than most everybody else, that IQ doesn’t really mean all that much.

    And I won’t be entertaining arguments to the contrary from people with lower IQs than mine: they’re self-refuting.

    You know I like you, A.K. But I hate this.

    I don’t know what my IQ scores were when I was tested at 6 and 7, but I know they were high enough to get the school for which I was being tested — low admission threshold 130 — to drop their lower age limit by two years to let me in at age 8.

    I spent the next 5 years after that hearing variations on “you have the highest IQ of anyone at this school, so why are you such a fuckup?” from multiple teachers. No one told me what that magic number was. The actual score was irrelevant. They could ruin me just fine without divulging it.

    You can’t use this tool to dismantle itself. The splash damage is too formidable.

  257. 257
    David Marjanović

    sciencebzzt, you clearly haven’t read all of the opening post, let alone comments 35 and 67.

    Did you read any of the comments before you wrote comment 76? If not, why did you write it???

    It’s an acronym: Huge Asshole Routinely Venturing Aggressive, Ridiculously Disassociative Male Blather Arguments.

    Win.

    oh god, that crap again.

    http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-67-2-130.pdf

    :-o Thank you!!!

    the race list in Brazil’s census is entirely different from the race list in the USA’s.

    The same person can be “black” in the US, “coloured” in South Africa, and “white” in Brazil.

    Its true that humans, especially today with people from different areas living together and having children, exist on a continuum, but there are bulges on that continuum…

    So? Go from Denmark to China by land, and tell me about the bulges.

    those bulges are called races.

    Which is exactly why some classifications have recognized 3 (three) races and others 66 (sixty-six).

    But race is cultural, eh? Sounds like you’ve spent too much time with BA professors and not enough with BS professors. Race is cultural rather than biological? Indeed, I’ll have to tell that to my friend who currently works in pharmacogenomics. He’ll have to abandon all the work he’s done, despite the fact that it saves lives. I’ll have to let him know that hes apparently a racist as well.

    Go ahead, try to apply the knowledge derived from some average of US “blacks” to Zimbabwe. Try not to let anybody die of neglect in the process, though.

    Also, I said “I’m not a racist” because I was specifically called one by PZ for no reason other than pointing out differences in human beings. Its a drastic jump to call someone a racist… PZ apparently likes to use insults though. I’m actually boggled that he’s a professor, judging by his cavalier launching of invective, curses, and rather slanderous insults.

    Dude, “racist” isn’t a random insult. It’s a term with a definition, and you – by all evidence – fulfill that definition.

    Being a scientist, PZ has trained long and hard to call a spade a spade. That’s part of why he’s a professor.

    (Besides, what gave you the silly idea that scientists have to be gentlemen or ladies? I’ve seen famous colleagues get into very heated arguments. And one colleague is commonly called “Sphincter Mucus”.)

    It’s like the whole IQ gap between blacks and whites… it exists, its very real, and yet no one can say anything about it.

    Oh dear. Somebody didn’t follow the link Jadehawk provided. It’s almost like somebody carelessly talks about things he doesn’t know enough about. How sad…

    (I went and looked for MENSA’s charities and am now LMAO at this.)

    Now I’m, too!

    Gah! WordPress ate my comment. It had some links in it; could that be why?

    Only 5 links per comment are allowed by the spam filter.

    But then the Flynn effect shows that IQ has been going up for decades.

    As PZ has already said: If genetics made anywhere near as large a contribution as some people think, it couldn’t possibly be going up that fast without all geniuses breeding like rabbits and all morons joining the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

    It might be possible to construct a real culture-biased IQ test, though. For example, you have some objects (some known, some unknown) and several colors, and have to use the method of elimination to connect them. One of the known objects is “swan”, and if you connect it to black instead of white, you will get the wrong result.

    No idea if that’s because my own biases, but I find it actually hard to construct such a biased test. If anyone has a better example I would be grateful.

    Sequence of symbols. Which one comes next, logically?
    Sequence of numbers. Which one comes next, logically?

    Often there are several possible answers, but only one ever occurred to the designers of the test. Also, there’s nothing logical about sequences of symbols…

    Kian and Remee turn seven!

    Quite an impressive case. I just find it really creepy that the first and the last word are “beautiful”.

    Seriously, am I the first, on a thread about how important and meaningful and scientific IQ is, to actually bring up my own?

    Yes.

    Now, charitably, one might suppose that even the dumbest trolls know we can’t measure their IQs through the tubes of the Internet, so we wouldn’t have believed any number they’d have thrown out anyway. But maybe I’m assuming too much.

    I was tested, twice early in middle school: in one case I ended up with a score around 85, while in the other one I ended at 160

    …Wow. I didn’t expect it was that bad.

    Original study

    Link doesn’t contain a URL.

  258. 258
    Amphiox

    As I understand it, intelligence is your ability to recall knowledge and use it to solve problems (this is supposedly what the IQ test measures). I can certainly see why that is desireable

    Suppose for the sake of argument that you could really distil this “ability to recall knowledge and use it to solve problems” down to a number.

    Suppose say that your average cucumber scores a 10, and your average human scores a 100. Suppose an above-average human scores 150. Suppose we do agree that 150 is more desirable than 100.

    Does it automatically follow then that 200 MUST be automatically more desirable than 150? 300 more than 200? 1000 more than 300? What if those ever higher numbers are linked, irrevocably, to other trade-offs? What are the COSTS engendered by ever higher “intelligence”? What if your “ability to recall knowledge and use it to solve problems” is bottlenecked by external factors, like availability of information, such that in the real world a 250 performs the same as a 350? Is it desirable then to be 350 instead of 250? What if numbers greater than 180 turn out to be linked to decreasing compassion? Tendency for neurosis? Frank insanity?

    What if it just means you have to intake six times as many calories to power than bloated brain? What if we bred everyone to that target, only to have civilization collapse from an asteroid strike and the means of food production drop precipitously?

    What if the “problem to be solved” turns out to be how to exterminate as many human beings as quickly as possible?

    That is what I meant by saying that ever increasing “intelligence” in and of itself is not necessarily desirable.

    Context matters. Even if we allow that there is such a thing as “optimum” intelligence, that does not mean that higher will always be better, or that we could ever even figure out what “optimum” was, or that “optimum” might not simply fluctuate wildly depending on local conditions.

  259. 259
    David Marjanović

    Why, it’s as if you missed my entire point!

    Why, it’s as if you never answered to my reply to you in comment 67!

  260. 260
    Amphiox

    Imagine harvardmba wanted to disguise his writing. Then read #206 and check the inconsistency in capitalising the letter I.

    So then, what’s your IQ in pattern recognition?

  261. 261
    Anthony K

    You can’t use this tool to dismantle itself. The splash damage is too formidable.

    Hmm, that’s a good point, Chris. And this:

    I spent the next 5 years after that hearing variations on “you have the highest IQ of anyone at this school, so why are you such a fuckup?” from multiple teachers. No one told me what that magic number was. The actual score was irrelevant. They could ruin me just fine without divulging it.

    is pretty familiar to me too.

    So I apologize. I’m sorry for hurting people (on either side of the magic number) with my insensitivity. Douche move on my part. I’ll strive to do better in the future.

  262. 262
    Chris Clarke

    Anthony K:

    I’m sorry for hurting people (on either side of the magic number) with my insensitivity. Douche move on my part. I’ll strive to do better in the future

    Well, it’s not like I haven’t tried the same tack in the past.

  263. 263
    Amphiox

    See, if (for example) christian fundamentalists were really just stupid morons, it would stand to reason that smart atheists should have no problem manipulating them, convincing them to give up their faith, to act in the ways the smart atheists want them to act in, to trick them, if necessary, to make this all so.

    He who would claim that his opponent is too dumb to see reason is he who admits that he himself is too stupid to figure out how to convince a moron to do something.

    If anything, the more intelligent a person is, the MORE DIFFICULT it can be to convince them of something they do not initially believe. GIGO. And a “smart” brain means a greater capacity to produce more garbage (and quicker), to rationalize, to self-deceive.

    See, the thing is, at the root, self-deception isn’t about intellect, it is about emotion. Intellect simply expands upon the direction that emotion wants to go.

  264. 264
    ChasCPeterson

    you never answered to my reply to you in comment 67!

    That concerned a completely different point, of course.
    And your reply was more appropriately directed to the author of the post I linked (without endorsement) instead of me.

  265. 265
    ChasCPeterson

    shee-it, anybody can say their IQ is whatever on the internet.
    Post a scan of your MENSA card or gtfo!

  266. 266
    Anthony K

    Well, it’s not like I haven’t tried the same tack in the past.

    Oddly enough, I only ever have here, and specifically only on threads about apparent IQ differences.

    It’s a tough thing. I understand very well the stigma associated with being ‘the smart kid’. My elementary school didn’t have anything like a program for advanced students. They had to design one for me, though after a year or two they had expanded enough to include a few other students.

    In junior high I got paired with “troublemaker” students in classrooms, because the administration thought I’d be a good role model for them. Well, fuck that. I liked those students. They were good people, and I wasn’t going to shill for the establishment. Why, cut class and go smoke cigarette butts behind the gym? Fuck yeah. I came this close to being sent to one of those Christian private schools for incorrigibles for the trick of failing to be a trained monkey. My hide was only saved, as it were, when my father realised the school demanded a lot of money for the opportunity to beat your kid, and he could do it at home for free.

    My family still views me as a poindexter with no street smarts, and no amount of incomplete graduate degrees and drugs shoved up my nose or poured down my throat seems to disabuse them of that notion that I’m utterly lost outside of a classroom.

    But try as I might, I can’t shake the feeling that all things considered, my test-taking skills allowed me to coast much further than their obverse would have. So I’m pretty conflicted about the whole thing.

  267. 267
    David Marjanović

    That concerned a completely different point, of course.

    Not quite: the commenter in question had brought up a PRATT, and you acted as if you hadn’t seen the latest round of refutations.

    Post a scan of your MENSA card

    :-D

  268. 268
    hotspurphd

    A few random corrections and questions, one more statement about intelligence/IQ and it’s utility and I’m done here.
    The inconsistent capitalization of “i”-late at night when I’m tired it is easier to write “i am” instead of “I am”. what point are you making anyway?
    sentence fragments? so what, as long as the meaning is clear? don’t think any evidence or arguments would make a dent here because of the ignorance and bias regarding the issues i mentioned-intelligence/IQ only-not the race issue.
    I mentioned the Flynn effect not to support a suggestion but as contradictory evidence to what I was suggesting.
    To say that your texts and profs said IQ is bullshit is not helpful. is that an exact quote? “psychopathology” like “pathology” can be used to refer to a disorder not just the study of such-e.g. his psychopathology is mild, or severe, or tends to be neurotic rather than psychotic.

    I notice no one has addressed the CONTENT of the twin evidence i pasted from wikipedia. do those data not show strong evidence of heritability of intelligence (IQ is a measure of intelligence BTW)? HUH?
    Another cut and paste:
    “Intelligence is significantly correlated with successful training and performance outcomes, and IQ/g is the single best predictor of successful job performance.”
    IQ correlates and PREDICTS performance on many disparate tasks and the subtests in IQ tests correlate with each other and factor analyses show strong evidence of a g factor. A person with a high IQ score will tend to be good at many more tasks than someone with a low IQ score. Most experts in the field find evidence of a g factor and attest to the theoretical and practical usefulness of IQ tests. Of course there is controversy. Of course the tests are not perfect. there have been mistakes and misuse. But in the hands of an experienced and well-trained clinician the administration of an intelligence test like the WAIS(along with other tests), which results in a psychological EVALUATION, not just an IQ score, and which takes into account all relevant variables can yield useful recommendations. For example, is a child who is performing poorly in school doing so because of low intelligence or other factors. A psychological evaluation, again using more than just an IQ score, can help answer this question. An IQ score of 70,2 SDs below the mean,at about the 2nd percentile can mean the kid needs special ed or it may mean something entirely different-anxiety, defiance,etc. Having evaluated 100s of kids I can say that these individually administered tests can be very useful.
    Has anyone actually read the wikipedia pages I suggested? I don’t see any direct refutation. Again, what about the genetic(twin)studies. No mention of them. Just a lot of talk it seems from a biased position.
    I wasn’t telling PZ how to run his blog. I was asking him if this is what he wants. I have seen a much higher level of discourse here.
    OK, I have wasted far too much time here. Good bye
    “A little learning is a dangerous thing”

    “Intelligence is significantly correlated with successful training and performance outcomes, and IQ/g is the single best predictor of successful job performance.”

  269. 269
    alwayscurious

    Interesting point about bottlenecks Amphiox. Exponential increases in hardware speeds are hamstrung by software implementations. (Characterized in Wirth’s Law) Higher IQ does no good if IQ doesn’t solve the problem we have at hand.

  270. 270
    Anthony K

    shee-it, anybody can say their IQ is whatever on the internet.

    That’s only true if IQ actually means fuck all.

    I can also claim to be a master electrician, but it should only take a few questions by people who actually know something about electrical work to see through that claim.

  271. 271
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Sequence of symbols. Which one comes next, logically?
    Sequence of numbers. Which one comes next, logically?

    Often there are several possible answers, but only one ever occurred to the designers of the test. Also, there’s nothing logical about sequences of symbols…

    There’s also the spatial abilities parts.
    The premise of IQ tests is that the results are stable over time and that the abilities are not affected by practise and training.
    Actually, just when we did IQ tests in college we got the kids Magformers which they know from kindergarten. And I watched my 5 yo putting together 3D forms by arranging the different parts flat on the floor.
    Why can she do that at 5?
    A) Because she is the smartest little girl on planet earth?
    B) Because she had the tools and opportunity to find out about this and practise it?

  272. 272
    NitricAcid

    He who would claim that his opponent is too dumb to see reason is he who admits that he himself is too stupid to figure out how to convince a moron to do something.

    I like that. There are a few people I’ll probably quote that to, if you don’t mind.

  273. 273
    Chris Clarke

    Post a scan of your MENSA card or gtfo!

    Given a choice of joining MENSA or gouging my eyes out with a popsicle stick? I’d ask for a fudgsicle.

  274. 274
    ChasCPeterson

    That’s only true if IQ actually means fuck all.

    good point. I was really just leading in to the Charlie Wagner reference. (heh)

  275. 275
    Anthony K

    I was really just leading in to the Charlie Wagner reference.

    If I recall correctly (and the, uh, strict regimen I adhere to for keeping my mind limber almost guarantees that I don’t), Vox Day is the proud owner of one of those cards as well.

  276. 276
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Again, what about the genetic(twin)studies. No mention of them.

    Funny how when you’re pregnant your whole life is micromanaged by “think of the baby”, but once they’re out they’re apparently the walking proof of pure undistilled genetics….

  277. 277
    burgundy

    hotspur, the wikipedia articles you cite are not great support for the sweeping statements you make. IQ correlation with school performance varies depending on the test used, and still explains less than half the variance in performance. The connection is even weaker with job status (the APA says other factors are of equal or greater importance). The section you pasted was flagged for dubious neutrality.

  278. 278
    Eristae

    @hotspurphd

    Did YOU read your own bloody Wikipedia twin study?

    Moreover, even highly heritable traits can be strongly manipulated by the environment, so heritability has little if anything to do with controllability. For example, height is on the order of 90% heritable, yet North and South Koreans, who come from the same genetic background, presently differ in average height by a full 6 inches (Pak, 2004; Schwekendiek, 2008)

    Once we accept that basically everything—not only schizophrenia and intelligence, but also marital status and television watching—is heritable, it becomes clear that specific estimates of heritability are not very important.

    and my favorite

    In a related vein, intelligence and education are often associated with healthier lifestyle choices (Deary, Whalley, Batty, & Starr, 2006; Gottfredson, 2004). Controlling for genetic and
    shared-environmental influences, however, Johnson, Hicks, McGue, & Iacono (in press) found that both higher IQ and greater education were associated with more alcohol and nicotine use in both sexes at age 24. This suggests that the generally lower substance use among brighter and better-educated young adults
    results from selection on genetic and family influences contributing to an environment emphasizing both educational attainment and reduced substance use, rather than from direct application of intelligence and/or education in substance-use choices.

    OMFG smoking and drinking causes high IQ!

  279. 279
    Eristae
    Original study

    Link doesn’t contain a URL.

    @$#%^!

  280. 280
    Eristae

    @hotspurphd

    And back to looking at one of your Wikipedia twin studies

    But back to the question: What does heritability mean? Almost everyone who has ever thought about heritability has reached a commonsense intuition about it: One way or another, heritability has to be some kind of index of how genetic a trait is.
    ….
    Unfortunately, that fundamental intuition is wrong. Heritability isn’t an index of how genetic a trait is.

    Every social scientist knows that the amount of variance in y that is accounted for by x depends on the variance of x. If someone were to ask, “How much of the variance in graduate school performance is accounted for by GRE scores?” everyone would know that the answer is, “It depends.”
    More variance would be accounted for in unselective programs for which a wide range of abilities were admitted than in a selective program that only admitted people with very high scores. So you couldn’t use the proportion of grad school performance variance accounted for by GRE scores as an index of how GRE-dependent the graduate school is, because the answer depends as much on contingent local
    variances as it does on the nature of the graduate program

    Over and over again, behavior geneticists, as well as their critics, have started out with an admonition that heritabilities do not apply to traits outside the context of a particular sample, and then two paragraphs later reverted to speculation about whether the heritability of intelligence is .7 or .3 or .5. The heritability of intelligence isn’t anything! There is no meaningful answer to that question, and responsible social scientists should refrain from speculating about it. And since heritability of intelligence is not equal to any particular value, the number produced in any particular analysis cannot possibly tell us anything about how genetic intelligence is. It was a silly question anyway.

    There’s more, but I don’t feel like posting the entire article. So, you know, Wikipedia for the win?

  281. 281
    Rob Grigjanis

    Eristae @277:

    smoking and drinking causes high IQ

    I’ve been counting on that for the last few decades. I don’t think it’s working.

  282. 282
    Eristae

    @Rob

    Science doesn’t lie! Rawr.

  283. 283
    alwayscurious

    http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-67-2-130.pdf
    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/41/4/920.full.pdf+html

    The content of the twin study is behind a paywall as far as I could tell. Without reading it, I cannot reasonably comment on it. As posted on Wikipedia, it’s missing important accessory data regarding deviations, ranges, conditions of testing, demographics of tested population, etc. Additionally useful would be some intergenerational studies: What happens to the IQ in the children of the twins? What about the IQ of the parents of the twins? Did the individuals perform in the real world as predicted by their IQ?

    IQ may be useful, with or without additional tests, to identify certain disorders in certain populations as it does reflect a certain kind of mental capacity. Closer to topic, none of this “proves” that IQ measures intelligence nor that IQ can be used for meaningful comparisons across cultures. IQ and intelligence both have heritable components BUT ARE NOT threatened by the unintelligent “outbreeding” smarter people. This is a touchy subject to start with and the vitriol level jumped immediately because of harvardmba’s trolling, notwithstanding historical applications of IQ to perpetuate racism, discrimination, sterilization, and euthanasia.

  284. 284
    laurentweppe

    He who would claim that his opponent is too dumb to see reason is he who admits that he himself is too stupid to figure out how to convince a moron to do something.

    Often, he who claims that his opponent is too dumb to see reason does not want to convince but to assert dominance:
    You’re stupid” then means: “You are not my intellectual equal. You do not deserve to be anything more than the obediant lackeys of the intellectually fit. Know your place, Pleb, and learn to not contradict nor question your betters

    When facing someone who promptly and enthusiastically proclaim the stupidity of anyone who disagree with him, there is a non-negligible chance that you are, in fact, facing a would-be petty tyrant trying to rationalize and justify his dictatorial wants.

  285. 285
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Did I not post detailed instructions on blockquoting? Apparently, clarity is too damned much to ask for.

  286. 286
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Did I not post detailed instructions on blockquoting? Apparently, clarity is too damned much to ask for.

    What do you expect from those who believe IQ is meaning of anything other than IQ tests? *snicker*

  287. 287
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Oh what the hell:

    “psychopathology” like “pathology” can be used to refer to a disorder not just the study of such-e.g. his psychopathology is mild, or severe, or tends to be neurotic rather than psychotic.

    Which goes to my addendum after my post– this assumes that any/all of us have disorders to be diagnosed. Which, as I said, can’t be demonstrated over the internet. Generalized Assholery Disorder isn’t listed in the DSM, you know. You can find us loathsome, but you can’t make some sort of mental illness out of it.

    As for your insistence that the twin studies mean something, meh. Others have done a better job of picking it apart.

  288. 288
    Amphiox

    Did I not post detailed instructions on blockquoting? Apparently, clarity is too damned much to ask for.

    It would appear his verbal IQ score was not up to snuff?

  289. 289
    Amphiox

    Often, he who claims that his opponent is too dumb to see reason does not want to convince but to assert dominance

    Gorillas beat their chests, chimps screech and bite, monkeys throw their feces, humans argue.

    The phenotypic expression might differ, but it is the same pan-primate(ok, more than just primates, too) phenomenon.

  290. 290
    thecynicalromantic

    I hate coming into a thread 200+ comments in; I always have so many things to say and then it’s like HOLY WALL OF TEXT, BATMAN. So I apologize for the length of this comment, but I have many thoughts and feelings on this subject!

    Well, then get off the complain train and design a test that isn’t culturally biased, design a way to measure intelligence that fits your postmodernist ideal.

    What in God’s name makes you think this is even possible?

    My random thoughts: I don’t think it’s possible, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. If intelligence at all involves, you know, the ability to absorb, process, and use knowledge, then at some point in the test you’re going to have to ask the subject to use their current knowledge, and the ideas that a person could possibly have learned are going to be limited to the ones they’re actually exposed to. I think that as long as the test is being designed for the appropriate audience and everyone’s clear on who exactly that audience is, you could theoretically do a decent job of measuring somebody’s progress in learning the things that a person of their age and in their environment would be expected to have learned, and that this could be useful for purposes of figuring out who may need extra educational help and who may need a more challenging educational track, within a particular population, particularly one of culturally homogenous peers. Or, slightly shorter: Rather than going for “universal,” actively go for “context-appropriate”. (Trying to cross-compare tests might be hard, but I’m sure there’s a way to do it.)

    I’m getting the impression around here that whenever someone would, on any other site, whine incessantly about liberals, here they just say “postmodernist” instead.

    It makes me sad that the batty creationist types have coopted the term “scientism” to whine about people who, like, try to scientifically study climate. It was once a very useful term for people who insist that the only useful way of looking at anything ever (no matter what it is) is through science, and everyone who studies things other than science is automatically dumb, and/or that “science” is whatever sounds scienciest and involves the smallest amount of human perspective.

    Joe, a typical IQ test tries to measure cognitive ability rather than some domain-specific knowledge base, and typically includes aspects such as logical reasoning, mathematical competence, pattern recognition and verbal intelligence.

    These are domain-specific, as far as I’m concerned. I did fabulously on my verbal intelligence psychoeducational testing but if I’d taken the test in a language other than English I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have.

    Ok then. I vaguely recalled there being some sort of general knowledge section, but clearly not. Never mind then.

    Some IQ tests do. (The one I took did, at any rate.)

    One method is to consider identical twins reared apart, with any similarities which exists between such twin pairs attributed to genotype.

    This is so fantastically stupid I wouldn’t believe that actual scientists came up with it, except I that have begun to seriously doubt the connection between obtaining advanced degrees and anything recognizable as intelligence.

    This information can be found in any introductory undergraduate text.

    I love it when trolls say shit like this. I spent two years proofreading for an academic publishing company; I have read literally dozens of intro to psych textbooks cover to cover. I have read more intro psych textbooks than most psych majors, because people who need to take intro psych more than once usually don’t get through a whole psych degree.

    I can say with some authority that not all intro psych textbooks even talk much at all about psychometrics, and those that do usually give an overview of varying degrees of brevity that covers: major developments in the history of psychometric research, a bit about some of the more frequently-used IQ tests (always including the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler scales; some include more), and some discussion of the issues and controversies in the field, usually mentioning both The Bell Curve and The Mismeasure of Man but frequently saying little more than that The Bell Curve came first and The Mismeasure of Man was written to rebut it. And that is all that “any introductory undergraduate text” can be counted on to say about it.

    And I would expect someone with a !!!PHD!!!!! to know about punctuation.

    I would have too, once… then, as I mentioned, I spent two years proofreading for a textbook company… it’s shocking how many Ph.D.’s can’t spell “Ph.D.”

    Why is it that the IQs of the people participating in these discussions doesn’t matter? How come nobody’s ponied up with their own?

    I’ll bite: I had psychoeducational testing done when I was around five or so. I recently found the record of my results at my mother’s house. (ChasCPeterson, I would totally scan them, but I left them there.) I took the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd edition. This test produces three IQ scores: verbal, performance, and “full scale,” which is the average of the first two. (Each test is also divided into multiple subtests. The subtests, as well as having three scores, are so that they can track if there is a large variability among different tasks, instead of having this all obscured under the one single number that the IQ devotees think is so damn important. It’s one of the things that makes the WISC-III not completely useless for psychoeducational testing.) I didn’t have much variability in my scores; my 3 IQ scores ranged from the high 120s to the mid 130s, putting me in the “gifted” but not “genius” category. My IQ has probably dropped a few points since then due to a history of depression beginning in adolescence (A single individual’s IQ can change over the course of their life. Clearly this means we’re genetically evolving wicked fast, right?).

    This testing was somewhat useful as a way to “prove” to various educational authority figures that I really did need some sort of extra or extra challenging work, because the stuff at my grade level in my particular environment was too easy. So that was nice. I am extremely skeptical that any of this has anything to do with whether or not I’m genetically superior to impoverished black children with lead poisoning, though. I am even fairly skeptical that it actually means I’m all that smart, rather than just that I have ridiculous test-taking skills.

    OMFG smoking and drinking causes high IQ!

    I remember not too long ago Satoshi Kanozawa wrote a long article in Psychology Today attempting to explain the evolutionary reasons for smart people drinking more. My brain seems to have blocked out what any of the explanations actually were, though.

  291. 291
    Eristae
    One method is to consider identical twins reared apart, with any similarities which exists between such twin pairs attributed to genotype.

    This is so fantastically stupid I wouldn’t believe that actual scientists came up with it, except I that have begun to seriously doubt the connection between obtaining advanced degrees and anything recognizable as intelligence.

    Fuck! I missed this part. This is not how twin studies work. It is not, and anyone who thinks that it is is so fabulously misinformed that one cannot proceed until the inaccuracy has been corrected. I cannot stress this enough. As you said, doing twin studies that way would be fantastically stupid. Similarities between the twins may have a genetic component, but that is not the same thing as attributing it to genotype. If we did twin studies the way described above, twin studies would be useless. It would be like saying that if both twins got hit by a truck, being hit by a truck can be attributed to genotype. (?!) No, no, no, no, no.

    I remember not too long ago Satoshi Kanozawa wrote a long article in Psychology Today attempting to explain the evolutionary reasons for smart people drinking more. My brain seems to have blocked out what any of the explanations actually were, though.

    Maybe you drank too much and that robbed you of your memory? (Mwahaha!)

  292. 292
    Amphiox

    Speaking of objective intelligence testing, I am aware of one example described in Science Fiction. It is in Robert Sawyer’s Neaderthal Parallax series.

    Basically you count the total number of neuronal connections in someone’s brain. The more he or she has, the more “processing power” his or her brain has.

    This of course was done via using fictional advanced technology originating in a parallel universe….

  293. 293
    Kagehi

    Exponential increases in hardware speeds are hamstrung by software implementations.

    This is actually a good answer to hotspurphd’s commentary too. Hardware, i.e., “native intelligence”, isn’t really measurable in the strict sense because the “software”, i.e., the data, information, preconceptions, and other factors, all bias any attempts to test. Give a test on concepts, ideas, symbols, or logic, which the one being tested has never encountered, and you get very poor results. Give the same test to someone that has spent a ridiculous amount of time playing some of those silly “mind games”, people claim make you smarter, or train your brain, or keep you from going senile, and.. oddly enough, you get an increase in the score, even if the same person still can’t change a light bulb.

    In other words, if you give such a test, within the context of those exposed to the contents of the test, the result will be accurate, within the context of the those who already “fit” the prerequisite framework. Outside of those conditions/culture, its almost completely worthless.

    Thing is, it also means that we don’t have a way to clearly separate this bias from the tests. And, that… kind of presents a serious problem, if you want to go around, like hotspurphd and assert that clear cultural differences, even to the extent that “culture” may mean, “shitty, low income, neighborhoods, where people don’t go to the library any more, not because they have the internet, but because they closed it 10 years ago.”, or worse. Incomplete data can be just as useless, and impossible to test for, as per so called “IQ” tests, as wrong data.

  294. 294
    Kagehi

    Basically you count the total number of neuronal connections in someone’s brain. The more he or she has, the more “processing power” his or her brain has.

    Hmm. Except that, of course, such connections are a) lost over time, especially at an early age, and b) change all the time, quite likely being connected to both number of memories, and strength/number of connections, specific to individual memories, skills, processes.

    Basically, this would be a bit like trying to test the current “stability”, or “function” of your OS, and all of its running programs, by looking at the size, and complexity, of the systems swap file. Unless you are looking for a runaway process, and you are looking purely at “size”, or you suspect something isn’t doing proper garbage collection, etc., any such examination is.. pretty much worthless, and won’t tell you a damn thing, other than, “how many things need to swap stuff in and out of memory.”

  295. 295
    Amphiox

    Unless you are looking for a runaway process, and you are looking purely at “size”, or you suspect something isn’t doing proper garbage collection, etc., any such examination is.. pretty much worthless, and won’t tell you a damn thing, other than, “how many things need to swap stuff in and out of memory.”

    The uselessness of it is somewhat analogous to the ENCODE brouhaha about “function” of the genetic code, come to think of it.

  296. 296
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Basically you count the total number of neuronal connections in someone’s brain. The more he or she has, the more “processing power” his or her brain has.

    That’d be like comparing processors solely by counting how many transistors they have. That allows you to grossly compare broad families, or the same architecture over time*. But it tells you nothing about performance in a precise context. The information it would give you would be very similar to what the brain mass / body mass ratios tells you about different species.

    Single number IQ test results tells you about the same thing about a brain as nominal clock speed does about a processor : very little that’s actually useful. Brains, like cpus, provide functions that are very complex and widely different. I’m convinced that, like cpus, optimizing one function often comes at a cost to some other functions. So you can find brains that are really good at some things and very bad at others, just like you can find brains that perform ok at everything but aren’t particularly good at anything**, without any significant differences in mass or number of connections. The differences in performance across functions is due to architectural “choices”. It’s very silly to think this can be assessed with a single number, whether you’re talking about cpus or brains.

    If you look at results for different functions – for a cpu, you’d be looking at different benchmarks -, then it can become useful and interesting. For a cpu it tells you how good it is, for instance, at floating point operations, so you can decide which one to buy for your particular needs. For brains it might provide a clue as to why this particular student has trouble learning via your chosen teaching method, so that you can either change it, or maybe attempt to train the student if that particular function is necessary – because brains, as opposed to most*** cpus, can reorganize themselves.

    * Or to pontificate about the meaning of Moore’s Law
    ** in other words, the Intel of brains
    *** there are processors and SOCs that can actually do that, like FPGAs

  297. 297
    randay

    Until I read the post, I had a misunderstanding of where “Marching Morons” was leading. In France there are marching–often violently–Catholic morons who oppose the legalization of homosexual marriage and adoption. All this despite the clearly expressed intent of the current President in his campaign program to legalize it. He won the election and is keeping his promise. Somehow Catholic marching morons think that they can change the results, even though polls show that the majority of the French support homosexual marriage. After the legislative vote for it, the first thing the right-wing opposition party did was to demand that the French supreme court overturn it. So even if you have a good education and supposedly some intelligence, you can still be a moron.

  298. 298
    methuseus

    I haven’t read any of the comments, but I have to say: I love you PZ. At first, I thought “PZ has never worked in a customer service position, or he wouldn’t dismiss these ideas.” Then I finished reading the rest of the post. You’ve said so many things I’ve been thinking but couldn’t really put into words. The problem with Marching Morons isn’t the inherent stupidity of people, but the way some parents discourage their children from learning. Unfortunately, when I’ve had a hard day of dealing with people, I do start to wonder if Idiocracy will come to pass, but when I really think about it, I know it will never happen. I do wish there were more educational opportunities in our society, and more of a premium put on becoming educated.

  299. 299
    laurentweppe

    @ randay

    Keep in mind that aproximately one fourth of the opponants are right-wing voters who where in favor of gay marriage when Sarko was still president: so not only are the usual fundies and fascists marching against the law, but they are joined by a lot of people who want gay marriage to be legalized, but are willing to try to sabotage a progress they agree with because they don’t want it to be added to the legacy of Left.

  300. 300
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    laurentweppe:

    … but are willing to try to sabotage a progress they agree with because they don’t want it to be added to the legacy of Left.

    Cripes, that sounds familiar. It’s nice to know assholes are assholes no matter where they’re from, I guess.

  301. 301
    chigau (違う)

    Hey! No one mentioned this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marching_Morons#Title

  302. 302
    Kagehi

    If you look at results for different functions – for a cpu, you’d be looking at different benchmarks -, then it can become useful and interesting. For a cpu it tells you how good it is, for instance, at floating point operations, so you can decide which one to buy for your particular needs. For brains it might provide a clue as to why this particular student has trouble learning via your chosen teaching method, so that you can either change it, or maybe attempt to train the student if that particular function is necessary – because brains, as opposed to most*** cpus, can reorganize themselves.

    Yeah, good example of this is GPU vs CPU. CPU is a “General function” system, and unless you are buying some super-high end thing that almost no one supports, like some of the stuff Intel made for special classes of like super computing, your CPU has maybe 6 cores, at the most, but can do almost everything OK, including math. You could, on a modern machine, almost do real time raytracing, which is the “physics based” version of what GPUs “fake”. GPUs on the other hand can have hundreds of cores, are *very* good at parallel math, and absolutely shitty at everything else, which is why, even today, you usually don’t find “raytracing” in any real sense being done with them, unless its a sort of hybred, and they still rely, instead, on the physically inaccurate, reverse trace systems, removal of unneeded scene geometry, faked reflections, and all the other hacks, used to approximate true 3D, which have been used since the first time they made a GPU that had OpenGL/DirectX capability, instead of just being a way to slap pixels on the display via the ancient VGA interfaces.

    Now, the IQ, if you are talking “cores” of the GPU should be insane. But, its an idiot savant, in the same sense of someone that can tell you if a certain randomly chosen date on the calender was a Tuesday, but is either unable, or vastly worse, at ***everything else***.

  303. 303
    Raging Bee

    the concept of ‘race’ conveys real information, and as such its valuable as a label.

    Yeah, too bad you have no fucking clue how to interpret or evaluate that information.

  304. 304
    oxygentialdread

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289613000470 (freed from the paywall here http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.de/2013/05/the-decline-in-general-intelligence.html)

    I cannot reasonably evaluate the validity of their research (methodology, soundness of using correlation of reaction time with iq) but i notice they thank Lynn, which I take as a bad sign.

    What do you think of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19l3L-ldLas ?

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