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Y’all can stop patting yourselves on the back now

There’s a study going around by Zuckerman, Silberman, and Hall that purports to show an inverse relationship between intelligence and religiosity. Here’s the abstract.

A meta-analysis of 63 studies showed a significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity. The association was stronger for college students and the general population than for participants younger than college age; it was also stronger for religious beliefs than religious behavior. For college students and the general population, means of weighted and unweighted correlations between intelligence and the strength of religious beliefs ranged from −.20 to −.25 (mean r = −.24). Three possible interpretations were discussed. First, intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus, are more likely to resist religious dogma. Second, intelligent people tend to adopt an analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking style, which has been shown to undermine religious beliefs. Third, several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices.

After reading the paper, I’m reasonably confident that they processed the data competently. However, I’d add a fourth interpretation that they don’t take seriously enough: that there was systematic bias in the intelligence studies they analyzed. I’m actually personally put off (bias alert!) by any study that attempts to reduce something as complex as intelligence to a simple number amenable to statistical analysis. The various studies measure intelligence by GPA (grade point average), UEE (university entrance exams), Mensa membership, and Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests. Can you say apples and oranges? Yeah, I thought so. And anyone who has spent any time with Mensa people knows they aren’t particularly shining examples of crystal clear analytical intelligence, for instance.

But I would agree with the conclusion that studies have found an inverse correlation between religiosity and something they’re calling intelligence. But that doesn’t mean much.

This was a meta-analysis of 63 studies done on the corelation of intelligence and religiosity. Meta-analysis is a legitimate statistical approach, but it’s just as likely that what they’re detecting is a consistent pattern of abuse of the data, rather than that they’re actually observing a true psychological property of religious people. They’re using a grab-bag of studies; the first warning should be that work by Satoshi Kanazawa, Richard Lynn, and Arthur Jensen are tossed into the statistical stewpot. It cites Herrnstein & Murray’s The Bell Curve.

That’s right, they used Richard Lynn’s work — the guy who produced this gem of a graph.

LynnHarveyNyborg-Atheism-IQ

That’s a plot of average IQ of a country on the vertical axis against the percentage of atheists living in that country; each data point represents a whole nation. Apparently, there are entire countries on this planet where the average citizen has an IQ between 50 and 70 — that is, they are mildly mentally impaired, or capable of education at the elementary school level at best, and sometimes able to live independently. I think we can reject that nonsense out of hand.

Again, the statistics in the paper seem fine to my casual eye, but it really looks like a case of garbage in, garbage out. I’m not at all impressed that we can discern a trend when the floor is defined by people willing to embrace racist bullshit.

I thought the attempts to explain the pattern were quite nice, addressing a number of different hypotheses, and some of them were reasonable in trying to find a broader cause than simply “hicks is dumb”. But I had a hard time getting past the implicit bias in the study that they were looking at “intelligence”. I don’t think they were. I think you could find that ignorance is associated with religiosity — a lot of religions oppose education and insist on keeping certain segments of the population (i.e., women) as uninformed and uneducated as possible, and just that fact is going to skew the results to fit their conclusion. They also note studies that show the higher echelons of academia and educated individuals are less likely to be religious, and I can honestly believe that analytical examination of the claims of religion leads to a loss of faith. But we typically associate “intelligence” with something intrinsic to the individual, a biological property of their brains, and nothing in this study allows that conclusion to be made. The word is heavily loaded and entirely inappropriate.

Also, look at that graph again. If you throw out the obvious bias of classifying whole nations as mentally impaired, if you recognize that IQ is an artificial construct that measures a very narrow range of intellectual potential, it looks to me like the variation reduces to noise — that the supposed debilitating effects of religion are going to be very weak, if there at all. And what does that do to all the cunning rationalizations, no matter how plausible, for why atheists would do better on IQ tests?

I’m more inclined to accept Gregory Paul’s thesis that religiosity is coupled to socioeconomic status — that if you’re poor, you’re less likely to get the education that would help you see beyond the delusions of faith, and that also you’re going to be more reliant on the social safety net of your church. But it’s not lack of intelligence that is at the heart of religion, it’s class and emotional/cultural/historical concerns. Poor performance on IQ tests is simply a side-effect of discrimination and deprivation.

And, I must add, even if the correlation does hold up in studies that aren’t from racist jerks, it’s no consolation for you: your intelligence is a property of the individual, and being a member of statistically slightly superior group doesn’t confer any special abilities on you, other than the ability to hide behind Richard Feynman and pretend his brilliance somehow rubbed off on you. It didn’t, sorry.

I also think that Paul is closer to the solution: reduce socio-economic disparities, increase access to education, provide a secular social safety net, and you’ll get two effects: it’ll increase the knowledge of the population, and it will reduce religiosity. It won’t work by making poor people more “intelligent”, but it will increase their understanding and give them less reliance on religion — it will give already intelligent people opportunities to use their minds.

But it won’t make religion go away completely — smart people will still believe. And it won’t make all atheists uniformly non-stupid.


There has been a complaint that this paper didn’t actually use the data from the Lynn paper in their meta-analysis. This seems to be true. Although they do use data from Lynn’s coauthor, Nyborg, and certainly do cite the offending work without noting any caveats about its premises.

The last decade also saw studies on the relation between intelligence and religiosity at the group level. Using data from 137 nations, Lynn, Harvey, and Nyborg (2009) found a negative relation between mean intelligence scores (computed for each nation) and mean religiosity scores.

Why is anyone continuing to cite that sloppy work?

Comments

  1. Nick Gotts says

    Glad to see you take this apart PZ – but what’s with the parenthesis in red @1?

  2. Randomfactor says

    But even if reducing inequality and eliminating entrenched discrimination results in fewer religious and more skeptical adults…isn’t working towards that something like mission creep?

    (Like the cartoon about the global warming lecture, and the guy objecting that “what if it’s all a hoax, and we wind up creating a better and more sustainable world for NOTHING?”)

  3. Anthony K says

    Glad to see you take this apart PZ – but what’s with the parenthesis in red @1?

    Sixth!

  4. Betsy McCall says

    Well, let’s just be a bit clear here. There is probably a distinction between “analytical intelligence” and “good critical thinking skills”. Mensans *are* in fact quite good at solving puzzles, probably more the kind of thing that is being discussed in “analytical intelligence” and not “critical thinking”. They are not the same. you can be born with the former, but not the latter. Critical thinking is a skill that even the smartest people must develop. And very likely, Mensans are selected, in many ways, for the kinds of people that, at least among the most intelligent, are not the most critically skilled. If they had better access to other intelligent people, they wouldn’t need Mensa. Most Mensans are products of missed opportunities, often working in jobs far below their intellectual abilities, and consequentially, their brains are atrophied. And, in a way, it is telling that *even* among Mensans there is a relationship with lower religiosity. The lack of critical thinking skills can sometimes send them down emotionally satisfying paths of woo rather than all the way to atheism, but I consider it a strength of the study that they can take several different types of measures of intelligence and reach the same conclusion, not necessarily a weakness.

    I also don’t think that the study is necessarily saying something about smart people, either. But rather pointing to a weakness about religion. The more inclined you are to think about religion, the less likely you are to be religious. Again, not a universal, but also not dependent on being “smart”.

  5. moarscienceplz says

    Apparently, there are entire countries on this planet where the average citizen has an IQ between 50 and 70 — that is, they are mildly mentally impaired, or capable of education at the elementary school level at best, and sometimes able to live independently. I think we can reject that nonsense out of hand.

    True – but if we look at certain American states…

  6. erik333 says

    I wonder if rampant malnutrition might not actually produce some results that are non negligable, and discernable from noise when compared with first world countries.

  7. Stacey C. says

    I immediately question any results like this. As PZ said…there is no way to quantify intelligence that simply. My dad is functionally illiterate and has only a high school diploma but he can design and build amazing machines that have helped him do the work of two or three people when only he and his tractor were available. He would sit down with a piece of graph paper and just figure it out. I definitely was one of those kids who said “my daddy can fix anything”. I have a BA from a Seven Sisters school and I have a completely different skill set…but I don’t think it’s better necessarily. But if you tested us I would probably do much better on those IQ tests than him.

  8. magistramarla says

    Hmmm – Texas wants to do away with teaching critical thinking, and it’s the home of many mega-churches. Could it be that those churches know this correlation to be true, so they are manipulating the state education board and their puppet Perry in order to keep people dumb and butts in pews?
    It would be interesting to see the average Texas IQ before and after the rise of those mega-churches.
    Of course, the wingnuts here would simply blame it upon the influx of Mexican immigrants, but I’m thinking that could just be a cover-up.

  9. David Marjanović says

    That’s a plot of average IQ of a country on the vertical axis against the percentage of atheists living in that country; each data point represents a whole nation. Apparently, there are entire countries on this planet where the average citizen has an IQ between 50 and 70 — that is, they are mildly mentally impaired, or capable of education at the elementary school level at best, and sometimes able to live independently. I think we can reject that nonsense out of hand.

    :-o

    Also, note that most points in that figure are below 100. That contradicts the definition of 100.

  10. says

    Maybe we need a more objective study, like examining the correlation between atheism and being able to pat one’s own back for an extended period. Perhaps while chewing bubblegum. It may not tell us anything useful, but it would be more fun to watch the experiments.

  11. erik333 says

    @OP

    “But we typically associate “intelligence” with something intrinsic to the individual, a biological property of their brains, and nothing in this study allows that conclusion to be made.

    Hmm, is anybody actually doing that? Who said intelligence is immutable to education, practice or nutrition etc? Obviously there is some variance that is “intrinsic”, or evolution would have a hard time explaining how intelligence arose, but that’s still a far cry from saying nothing in the environment could affect it.

  12. erik333 says

    @14 David Marjanović

    That depend on populations you base the metric on, surely? Also, there is no way to calculate the average IQ score from that graph, since you don’t know the amount of people “occupying” each dot.

  13. jesse says

    Another factor that gets ignored — by many atheists (at least the self-described “movement” types I use to run into) is that religiosity can also be an expression of identity in an oppressive context.

    That is, I know a of quite a few Native people who are pretty religious by any sane definition. They are also damned good critical thinkers because you have to be in a society that spends every second trying to marginalize or even kill you, one way or the other. But they are often “traditionalists” as well, because it’s an important part of who they are as a culture, and expressing that in the face of oppression is important. The question of religiosity by measuring the number of self-reported atheists will miss this dynamic entirely.

    (Supposedly Diné [Navajo] doesn’t have a word for “religion” at all. I’m not the biggest fan of Sapir-Whorf’s hypothesis, but that would point at least to a rather different philosophical conception of what gods even are. Many here might object by saying “any supernatural being” but even that definition has 2,000+ years of philosophical development behind it).

    I bring this up because whenever someone talks about measuring religiosity and what causes it (or reduces it) I never see a definition of what religiosity means. It’s a very complicated question, and “do you believe in God(s)?” doesn’t really tell you much at all. Even the number of self-professed atheists could be misleading, and you end up with a load of confounding factors. I’m not saying it can’t be measured, but you have to tease out a truckload of starting assumptions and decide exactly what it is you want to find out. After all, surveys consistently show a high degree of religiosity in the US, but that will go way down if you rephrase the question. (Not to say that all those surveys are wrong, but some of them ask about religion in such a nonspecific way that you’re going to get 50%+ in any case, since most people aren’t theologians or philosophers. Church / Temple attendance might just be measuring how much people like the bake sales and the pot luck dinners).

  14. anne mariehovgaard says

    Stacey C:

    But if you tested us I would probably do much better on those IQ tests than him.

    Possibly, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He might do better on a purely nonverbal test, while a good multi-scale test should be able to show both your strengths and weaknesses. Reducing IQ to a single number and ignoring everything else – and then insisting that that _is_ your IQ – is not very useful. I say that as someone who uses such tests in her job almost daily.

  15. anne mariehovgaard says

    #16:

    That’s why 1sting is bad.

    Note to self: Read more carefully to avoid excessive blinking.

    ;) Glad it wasn’t just me…

  16. says

    I ain’t no statistical genius, but correlation r=0,24 seems pretty week. Even if statistically significant, it would still mean that religiosity could explain some 6% (Rsquared) of the correlation. Which is not that much anyway and migth be explained by another variable entirely, which correlates and is causaly connected with religion and intelligence and independently influences both – like aforementioned education, socioeconomical status etc.

  17. Silva says

    I’m always embarrassed by intelligence-related studies, especially when someone tries to tie them demographically to me. I test well – sometimes really, really, extraordinarily well – but I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box outside of those tests. Well, some boxes. But not the majority of boxes. Thanks for finding the flaws in this study. A socio-economic correlation makes me feel a lot better. (Not that I usually get all emotional about studies.)

  18. RFW says

    The moment I saw “IQ” in relation to a comparison of different nations, I knew that blue graph to be nonsense. If all those IQs were measured using the same test (the Stanford-Binet or some descendant thereof), then there’s very heavy cultural bias in the results.

    One famous question on some version of IQ testing showed a line drawing of a tennis racket and asked something about it. Pray tell, how will that measure the intelligence of any group that knoweth not tennis? – like American inner city blacks, I suspect; Tamils from south India; San bushmen from Botswana; and so on.

    That graph tells us exactly nothing.

  19. David Marjanović says

    That depend on populations you base the metric on, surely?

    If each dot is a country, the sample can’t escape being pretty representative of the whole world, and the average IQ is by definition 100.

    Also, there is no way to calculate the average IQ score from that graph, since you don’t know the amount of people “occupying” each dot.

    That’s a good point. I guess China and India must be full of very smart people. :-/

    Supposedly Diné [Navajo] doesn’t have a word for “religion” at all.

    Well, look at English: it had to borrow that word from Latin. The closest native word is faith, which isn’t close enough. :-|

  20. Walton says

    I agree with PZ – indeed I said something similar myself earlier. I’m not sure that “intelligence” is a concept susceptible to straightforward definition, let alone quantification, or that many of the measures adopted to quantify “intelligence” actually do so. IQ, in particular, is surely a discredited measure at this point. Does anyone really think it’s an objective measure of “general intelligence” (if such a measure is even possible) unaffected by class and cultural factors?

    I’d also be very interested in whether the results vary between demographic groups and/or countries. According to the paper (which I am reading now), the authors grouped the samples into “precollege, college and non-college samples”, so they did at least account for the fact that college students aren’t representative of the general population, but it would have been nice if they’d clearly broken it down by country and location. Culture almost certainly makes a difference.

    I think it’s very dangerous to generalize from “certain measures of religious observance were negatively correlated with certain measures of cognitive ability in various studies of late twentieth/early twenty-first century North American people, mostly college students” to a sweeping, and probably inaccurate, statement like “religious people are on average less intelligent”.

  21. kayden says

    I grew up in Canada (pre-K through university) and don’t recall ever taking an IQ test. Seems to me that all they’re used for is to show that one group of people is smarter/better/more intelligent than another group usually along racial lines.

    I understand LSATs or tests to get into law or medical schools, but I don’t understand the purpose of IQ tests overall.

  22. robro says

    Well, look at English: it had to borrow that word from Latin. The closest native word is faith, which isn’t close enough. :-|

    Is that true or an artifact of the history of the language? European languages were overwhelmed by Latin, particularly through the spread of Christianity which deliberately eliminated any native words and competing religions. So, it’s not surprising that “religion” and many other religious words are Latin in origin. In fact, “faith” is not English or Germanic in origin, but from the Latin fides.

  23. robro says

    Oops! “eliminated any native words and competing religions” should be “many native words having to do with competing religions.”

  24. ChasCPeterson says

    If you throw out…it looks to me like…I’m more inclined to accept…

    impartial this analysis ain’t.

  25. Walton says

    Culture almost certainly makes a difference.

    er, that came out wrong. What I meant to say was that “religiosity” is not a homogeneous concept across cultures.

  26. Anthony K says

    impartial this analysis ain’t.

    So the tiny cock thing is true (see Walton’s link to Stephanie’s blog)? It’s not just me?

    It’s not just me.

  27. Jacob Schmidt says

    At first glance, it looks like the study is confusing intelligence with knowledge.

  28. says

    I wonder if rampant malnutrition might not actually produce some results that are non negligable

    possible, but that still assumes that the IQ tests actually reflect something real about intelligence differences in different countries. Given that we’ve had to give up long-cherished beliefs about human universals in visual processing (e.g. some optical illusions don’t work on non-WEIRD people even tho we thought that was just how human brains worked), non-verbal tests might skew extremely even is more blatant cultural bias were removed (and it often isn’t); and verbal tests are by definition non-uniform, because either you’re translating them, or you’re giving them to populations with varying proficiency in the language

  29. robotczar says

    Your are really going too far and I would judge being a bit hypocritical to dismiss work by calling it “racist bullshit”. The Bell Curve is as legitimate as most social science analysis and includes many assertions that have not been successfully refuted. Significant differences in mean intelligence test scores for different racial categories (imprecisely defined) is a fact. That fact cannot be dismissed as simple testing bias because great effort has been made to eliminate such bias and because the highest scoring racial category is not the same as the majority category that created the test. Letting your liberal ideology, which I mostly share, affect your scientific assessment is inexcusable.

    Your attack on the construct of general intelligence is also without merit. Granted it is hard to get very valid and reliable measures of psychological latent variables (and some of those variables are more than a little suspect), but measures of intelligence (via standardized tests, not Mensa or GPA) are the best psychological measure we have because the construct and the tests have been around a long time and much effort has gone into refining the tests. We have plenty of evidence that such tests are measuring something that is reasonably called intelligence. You owe it to your readers to explain why you doubt the construct beyond saying it is “too complex”. Isn’t biology complex?

    Psychological science uses means to represent groups. Information is lost when that is done, but this does not make the information that is retained invalid. The fact that some data points on the graph you display are invalid does not imply that all the data is invalid or that conclusions drawn are invalid. A trend is displayed and that trend should be explained, not simply dismissed via ridicule. You would justly criticize Lynn if he arbitrarily left data out of his analysis.

  30. Sauls Thomas says

    all brains no balls

    for the lying “mental cases” @ FTB

    groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.atheism/WHwp_OkxH34

  31. Sauls Thomas says

    all brains no balls

    for the lying “mental cases” @ FTB

    groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.atheism/WHwp_OkxH34

    ,,,..,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.

    homo = atheist?

  32. anne mariehovgaard says

    @18 eric333:

    That depend on populations you base the metric on, surely? Also, there is no way to calculate the average IQ score from that graph, since you don’t know the amount of people “occupying” each dot.

    Doesn’t matter; the entire graph is BS since 100=population mean. Not “planet mean”. You can’t just pretend that countries/cultures are similar enough that you can treat them as a single population and use the same test norms for all of them, and then use the results you get to demonstrate that they’re not… You can get lots of interesting information by looking at different groups’ raw scores on specific tests, but that’s stuff like “people in these hunter/gatherer societies seem to be better at visual analytical problem solving than people in these agricultural societies” not “people in nation A are more intelligent than people in nation B” (which is possible in principle, but not demonstrated – and I don’t see how it can be) or even “people in nation A have a higher IQ than people in nation B” which is just silly.

    @29 Walton:

    I’m not sure that “intelligence” is a concept susceptible to straightforward definition, let alone quantification

    A lot of people don’t want it to be. There’s a reason I rarely use the word, and never when talking about a person’s test scores; the closest I get is “general cognitive ability”.

    or that many of the measures adopted to quantify “intelligence” actually do so. IQ, in particular, is surely a discredited measure at this point.

    “In particular”? What measures do you see as better? And – discredited by who? IQ tests are very useful as long as you are aware of their limitations.

    Does anyone really think it’s an objective measure of “general intelligence” (if such a measure is even possible) unaffected by class and cultural factors?

    That’s a very high bar you’re setting up there. I’d say IQ (as measured by a good multi-scale test, used by someone who knows what they’re doing) is a “good enough” measure for everyday use. BTW, I hope you don’t mean to claim that cultural factors can’t affect intelligence?

    @30 kayden:

    I understand LSATs or tests to get into law or medical schools, but I don’t understand the purpose of IQ tests overall.

    A few examples:
    If a kid is inattentive/disruptive or appears to be struggling in class, but seems otherwise OK (i. e. as far as you can tell, the problem is not caused by bullying, child abuse or other problems in the home environment, mental health problems, drugs…) an IQ test can help identify a range of possible problems/learning disorders.
    If you are my client and you are wondering if it would be a good idea to pursue higher education as an adult, the test scores (mainly total IQ, verbal score, attention and short term memory) can give you an idea of how likely you are to be successful. If you are another of my clients, and you are 25, or 30, or even older, and you left school at 15-16, have never held a job for more than a few weeks or months, and you have been labeled lazy and/or a troublemaker because you don’t do as you’re told, you show up late or not at all, you don’t pay your bills or send in paperwork on time… a test result that says you have an IQ of 60 is pretty much going to change your life, in a very positive way – at least where I live (Norway).

  33. says

    Robotczar:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve

    The Bell Curve is a highly controversial 1994 book by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. It purports to show that intelligence is the most dominant factor in the trajectory of each person’s life, and serves to predict such things as socioeconomic status and tendencies towards criminal behavior. The book has served as a platform for many modern-day racists, giving them an “intellectual” basis and source of data to support many of their beliefs. Quite a bit of the research compiled within The Bell Curve is not disputed, but the conclusions drawn from it are generally considered to be bunk, and it has been criticized for aiding racist ideologies.

  34. sivivolk says

    For anyone looking at the Lynn IQ data, I strongly suggest both of the following papers:

    Wicherts, J. M., Dolan, C. V., Carlson, J. S., & van der Maas, H. L. J. (2010). Another failure to replicate Lynn’s estimate of the average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 155-157.

    Wicherts, J. M., Borsboom, D., & Dolan, C. V. (2010). Why national IQs do not support evolutionary theories of intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 91-96.

    Wicherts and his collaborators have done some good work taking down explicitly racist researchers like Lynn, Vanhanen, Templer, Arikawa, Kanazawa, Nyborg, etc.

  35. sivivolk says

    And for people defending “g factor” intelligence, the concept’s been hugely controversial in science, and attacked in many ways. The most recent one I can think of is Hampshire et al (2012), Fractionating Human Intelligence, in Neuron. From the summary: “We propose that human intelligence is composed of multiple independent components ► Each behavioral component is associated with a distinct functional brain network ► The higher-order “g” factor is an artifact of tasks recruiting multiple networks ► The components of intelligence dissociate when correlated with demographic variables”.

  36. anne mariehovgaard says

    @38 robotczar:

    Significant differences in mean intelligence test scores for different racial categories (imprecisely defined) is a fact. That fact cannot be dismissed as simple testing bias because great effort has been made to eliminate such bias and because the highest scoring racial category is not the same as the majority category that created the test.

    As long as the people we are testing were not all adopted at birth and randomly assigned to a planet-wide pool of adoptive parents, we can’t ignore cultural factors – including test bias.

  37. mikeyb says

    Greg Paul – wow one of the rare times PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne agree on the same thing!

  38. robotczar says

    No, general intelligence is controversial in psychology in general, not scientific psychology. Psychology is not like physics but has a major humanities and clinical component that cannot be described as science. General intelligence is a concept of most scientific definitions of intelligence. Major cognitive ability measures are all correlated, which implies a general intelligence. See “Mainstream Science on Intelligence: An Editorial With 52 Signatories, History and Bibliography, by Gottfredson in the journal Intelligence (or the WSJ in 1994).

    IQ and other general cognitive ability measures are very highly correlated with performance in school, college, the work place, and many other things. It is the best predictor of success than any other measure. The construct is as valid as it gets in the scientific study of behavior. The tests are as reliable as it gets.

    Controversy is in the minds of humanists promoting an agenda driven by ideology, not empirical evidence (sort of like the “controversy of evolution in science” claimed by the intelligent design crowd). Name calling actual scientists “racists” is reminiscent of McCarthyism and is sort of shocking from a crowd that one might expect to respect and adopt a scientific perspective. That perspective values open discussion of the observed facts and is not subject to an ideological litmus test. Attack the data, attack the analysis, attack the conclusions drawn, but lay off the person and name calling. Practice what you preach. Wait, do atheists preach?

  39. Ingdigo Jump says

    Yes we should ignore that Murray has a long history of extreme racism and authoritarianism and then coincidentally found his magically unbaised research supported his goosestepping wet dreams.

  40. Ingdigo Jump says

    But you know, maybe Peter Popoff CAN faith heal despite every past attempt being blatant fraud. We can’t say otherwise can we skeptics?

  41. jakc says

    Seriously Robotczar, The Bell Curve is a load of horse plop. Imprecisely defined racial categories as you call them mean that you have absolutely no idea what the measurements mean and no real confidence that you can actually aggregate the measurements of groups you can’t identify or define.

    As for G, you can’t start from the point that what IQ tests measure is G. The idea that those tests measure intelligence and not learning is a pretty bold claim. If you were stranded in the wilderness, you’d be better off with a friendly caveman who knows who to hunt and make fire with two rocks than say Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Steven Hawking (plenty of G there but why does an understanding of gravity show more intelligence than knowing what roots are good to eat?)

    Crap. This post is far more words than The Bell Curve deserves. At least Emily Littella was funny when she got worked up about endangered feces.

  42. says

    Thank you PZ…I am SOOOOOOOOOO tired of atheists pages posting this crap without ANY analysis or sense of irony, history etc…

    It’s appalling. Embarrassing and makes me want to call myself a Unitarian just to escape the smell.

  43. villionnono says

    PZ Meyers can I interest you in some artificial intelligence?

    It can self-extend and adapt.

    “hide behind Richard Feynman and pretend his brilliance somehow rubbed off on you. It didn’t, sorry.”
    Feynmann didn’t much like being associated with academic achievement clubs. Where the whole point of the club is to decide who is worthy of joining in. He said politics also tended influence these clubs. Are you claiming that the same people patting themselves on the back are the people stuck running those clubs?

  44. says

    robotczar:

    Your are really going too far and I would judge being a bit hypocritical to dismiss work by calling it “racist bullshit” because right-wingers aren’t always wrong. The Bell Curve is as legitimate as most social science analysis and includes many assertions that have not been successfully refuted by people to the right of Francisco Franco. Significant differences in mean intelligence test scores for different racial categories (imprecisely defined) is a fact because I say so. That fact cannot be dismissed as simple testing bias because great effort has been made by racists and right-wingers to eliminate such racist, right-wing bias and because the highest scoring racial category is not the same as the majority category that created the test, after all, racists never made up conspiracy theories about how Jews rule the world or anything like that. Letting your liberal ideology, which I mostly share because I’m a right-wing shill who is trying to erase everything wrong with my position, affect your scientific assessment is inexcusable because I don’t like looking like a racist, as it might help to further delegitimize my political ideology.

    Lucky for you, I do not charge a fee for re-inserting the bits you rather carefully elided.

  45. says

    (Honestly, going out of the way to say ‘I’m a liberal!’ at the end of a bunch of right-wing erasing/apologetics is one of the biggest tells for a stealth right-wing shill, probably only beaten by its close cousin: ‘I’m a centrist/independent!’.

    And they absolutely hate it when you point out that they’re as racist as they were in the 1950s, because that would be their undoing.)

  46. says

    wow one of the rare times PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne agree on the same thing!

    Twould be rather difficult to agree on different things!
    </pedantry>

  47. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @robotczar

    Your attack on the construct of general intelligence is also without merit.

    Define “intelligence”.

    Setár appears to have handled your first paragraph admirably.

  48. jesse says

    You know, it isn’t hard to show what the major problem is with IQ tests is — a serious lack of cross-cultural comparisons. That is, as fa as I am aware (and certainly correct me if I am wrong) but there hasn’t been a stack of IQ tests of whatever stripe given to say, a huge population in Rwanda or even Ireland.

    Tell me robotczar, how do you expect the numbers would look if the test were given in Ireland? I suspect that Catholics would score rather lower. And you’re aware that racial categories are social constructs and pretty completely arbitrary, right? That the same categories we use in the US make no sense whatsoever in say, China, and even countries that share some of our ugly history — Brazil, say — those categories would still be much less applicable. Even less so in Curacao.

    And let’s throw out another wrinkle: if raw intelligence is such a big factor in success, some mysterious G factor, how would you explain the disproportionate “success” of non-whites in say, baseball, which requires a lot of mental processing. (If you’ve ever tried to turn a double play or strategize a pitch sequence you see what I mean). Are Latinos, who are mixed-race, by and large smarter than white folks when it comes to this? (A third of MLB is Latino, BTW).

    It would be interesting to see how people who want to divide racial groups by intelligence handle Latinos, since Latino folks are not in any single biologically identifiable group. By country and culture, yes, you can divide populations that way much more clearly. But not by “race” except insofar as it’s a social category with different meanings depending on where you are.

    In fact, the culture factor can be readily seen across Asian groups, because the ones that are more successful economically here in the US tend to be from countries that, whaddaya know, are themselves relatively wealthy, literate societies. They also tend to be folks who were middle-class people or skilled workers in the country of origin. Funny how that happens. Unless you’re going to tell me that Hmong are less intelligent overall than Chinese and Filipinos are somewhere in the middle? The same pattern, I should add, held in European immigrant populations.

  49. David Marjanović says

    Is that true or an artifact of the history of the language?

    Same thing. If you don’t know that more than one religion exists in the world, you’re not gonna need a word for that concept.

    So, it’s not surprising that “religion” and many other religious words are Latin in origin. In fact, “faith” is not English or Germanic in origin, but from the Latin fides.

    That would explain why there’s no similar word in German and why it shares the f with Latin, but where does its th come from, then?

    The closest word of German origin is Glaube, meaning “belief”* and “faith”**.

    Arabic has dīn, meaning “religion” and “faith”** as far as I know; Hebrew dina just means “law”.

    * It’s even the same word etymologically, just with ge- instead of be-.
    ** Only in the religious sense, not “trust” in general.

    Name calling actual scientists “racists” is reminiscent of McCarthyism and is sort of shocking from a crowd that one might expect to respect and adopt a scientific perspective.

    Dude, seriously, scroll back up to comment 34, follow the link there, scroll to the top of that page, and read.

    And you’re aware that racial categories are social constructs and pretty completely arbitrary, right? That the same categories we use in the US make no sense whatsoever in say, China, and even countries that share some of our ugly history — Brazil, say — those categories would still be much less applicable. Even less so in Curacao.

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

  50. Nick Gotts says

    Major cognitive ability measures are all correlated, which implies a general intelligence. See “Mainstream Science on Intelligence: An Editorial With 52 Signatories, History and Bibliography, by Gottfredson in the journal Intelligence (or the WSJ in 1994). – robotczar

    Er, no: the correlation of cognitive ability measures does not imply a “general intelligence”: that’s the fallacy of reification. The journal Intelligence is the organ of the International Society for Intelligence Research, a coterie of psychologists with racist and eugenicist connections (e.g. Gottfredson’s research has been funded by the notorious Pioneer Fund, whose main other activity appears to be giving each other awards. As for the WSJ reference – do you really think an editorial appearance in that notoriously anti-science right-wing propaganda sheet is a recommendation?

  51. says

    So, it’s not surprising that “religion” and many other religious words are Latin in origin. In fact, “faith” is not English or Germanic in origin, but from the Latin fides.

    That would explain why there’s no similar word in German and why it shares the f with Latin, but where does its th come from, then?

    I got interested and had a look at the “Descendants” section on Wiktionary. Most of Europe appears to have adopted the é sound for the vowel. Which made me wonder if the I-sound in English might have been “ay” rather than “ee” at one point. Wikipedia’s article on the Great Vowel Shift, if I’m reading it correctly, confirms that:

    This means that the vowel in the English word same was in Middle English pronounced [aː] (similar to modern psalm); the vowel in feet was [eː] (similar to modern fate); the vowel in wipe was [iː] (similar to modern weep); the vowel in boot was [oː] (similar to modern boat); and the vowel in mouse was [uː] (similar to modern moose).

    As to the d/th, a d isn’t that much different, really, from a theta.

  52. robotczar says

    While it is easy to ignore the “bell curve is poop” and “so-in-so is a racist because I really think so” offerings, I do think that there is a long shot that responding to jesse might have some value to any readers who are seeking information rather than options. Jesse seems think it is easy to refute a concept (g) that scientists have been using and measuring for a century, based on a couple of half baked intuitive ideas–similar to tea party political analysis. As I have said, and nobody has refuted, that measures of general cognitive ability (which can be pretty well defined despite the many insipid definitions of intelligence like “multiple intelligences”) are very highly correlated with many other variables often thought to indicate “success” like performance in school or on a job. Wordy arguments (the only way humanities people can seek truth) are no substitute for controlled collection and analysis of data.

    Jesse is correct in questioning the ability of some IQ tests to be valid across cultures. It is very dicey to use them across cultures, though some tests are not very culture bound (like Raven’s Matrices, often accepted as a good measure of g). Using a small sample to represent the population of an entire country is also more than a little questionable, in my opinion. But, attempts to search for something weak and generalize that weakness to the whole of intelligence research is a ridiculous ploy that is often used by creationists in searching and landing on “errors” in evolution. PZ would not accept this tactic from others. He should have stayed with the original study.

    Culture is the favorite of the ideologically driven these days. Culture is learned and thus is not strongly related to cognitive ability. It surely can affect performance on tasks (like most learning can). It is up to those asserting strong cultural effects on ABILITY to provide evidence of such effects. Some such evidence exists, but no more than that which exists for g. Curiously, the humanities position, and I assume biology, suggests that all humans have very similar abilities and cognitive systems. This similarity implies that many factors of cognitive ability are not related to culture.

    The physical ability analogy is interesting. It seems to me that people easily accept that not everybody is equal in physical ability and some are born with a potential for greater physical ability than others. We all can’t be Adrian Peterson. But when mental ability is considered, people prefer to believe we are all equal–a belief not supported by any sort of evidence. I ask you, jessse, how much does culture affect physical performance? How much does it affect physical ability? The answer is probably similar for mental performance and ability. Do you think there is a general physical ability factor–is there a correlation between most measures of physical ability so that we can describe a person as “a good athlete” as opposed to “a good football player”?

    The racial groups associated with IQ testing are self identified. Such self identification with a group has some relevance regardless of how we might define races So, we really can’t hide from the well-established differences in IQ (and other measures of general cognitive ability for these groups by claiming that there is no such thing as race. Latinos consistently score between Blacks and Whites on such tests. We can only address such differences if we understand them scientifically, not via ideology or what we prefer to believe.

  53. jesse says

    I’ll raise you one on the physical ability analogy.

    Do the same qualities that make a good baseball pitcher make a good linebacker? No? All righty then.

    No, people do not have the same specific physical abilities, which is why basketball favors tall people, and swimmers have longer-than-average arms.

    But that doesn’t mean that someone is a good athlete in all areas, right? There are things people are good at things they are not.

    Mental tasks fall in a similar spectrum, and it’s not hard to show this. After all, not every member of MENSA is a millionaire investment banker or even that “successful” depending on how you define it. As was pointed out above, they don’t seem to be all that good at stuff like theoretical physics, judging by the lack of MENSA people in the field (maybe there are lots, but I have yet to meet one).

    Many, many mental tasks — jut like physical ones — are dependent on practice. That’s why I brought up pitching. Curt Schilling and Billy Martin were not great athletes at many levels. But they were able to compensate for that. The same goes for stuff like language learning or math. I am a pretty good language learner but that doesn’t automatically make me a mathematician.

    And see what I said about Asian groups. Can you come up with an explanation as to why Filipinos wold do worse on standardized tests than Chinese kids? Is there some magical gene that makes these groups of Asians different? That’s why I brought it up. We file them both under “Asian” in the US but that would gloss over the vast differences between groups. All of which can be ascribed to culture, since physically speaking there would be no difference.

    And what would happen if you gave a set of IQ tests in say, Tunisia, or Kenya, and compared the results to white Americans? Do you think they’d be generally lower or higher? If the idea that there is some real innate difference in intelligence between African descended people and white people is true, you’d have to come up with an explanation — and you’d expect tests like that to show lower scores. As far as I am aware they don’t. You’d also have to come up with an explanation of why IQ scores from some studies went up over time. Or why “white ethnics” show no difference now when they did in say, 1900 from their WASP-y counterparts.

    Intelligence is not a single-factor phenomenon — heck, we know enough now about the way brains work to see that it probably can’t be.

    The problem is that the folks who bang on about the value of intelligence testing and measures of g are like phrenologists. You’re not seeing nothing, but it might not have anything to do with what you think it does.

    And nobody is saying there is “no such thing” as race. We’re saying it’s a social construct. Just like democracy and capitalism and lots of other things that plainly exist.

    Another example that was brought up earlier, but I am curious how the G-crowd would approach this: who is smarter, the guy who can make a flint tool out of a rock and hunt his dinner, or the theoretical physicist who starves to death? If G really is general cognitive ability then it shouldn’t be context-dependent. But it plainly is.

    Enough of that.

    @David Marjanovic — I brought up Diné because they did know other people had different faiths, they traded regularly with the Hopi, Pueblo, Apaches, and a dozen other groups. The issue is a philosophical one. “God” or “spirit” can mean very, very different things to different groups. Just ask a Buddhist and a Muslim that and you’ll see :-) As I understand it the Navajo don’t separate the whole idea of faith from fact in their daily lives. It just isn’t a separate realm to them. Many cultures in Asia are a bit like that too. Zen Buddhism in particular, though it takes a different tack.

  54. jakc says

    Controlled collection of data. Excellent point and the easiest reason to show why the Bell Curve is poop.

    We can measure the atomic weight of elements because we can define elements as discrete non-overlapping categories and we can sort them so that when measuring a sample of carbon we are only measuring carbon. Even then, atomic weight is best expressed as a range because of the existence of isotopes.

    The Bell Curve uses broad categories with significant overlap. We can have no confidence that one group of blacks is the same as another or that one group of whites is the same as another.

    You say race is not a social construct? Then list the races and explain how they are discrete biological categories. Explain how to apportionate the scores of someone with a mixed race background .

    This isn’t about whether individuals differ in mental abilities. Of course they do. But if you want to measure group differences you have to be able define the groups and then ensure that you measure those groups. If you want to do science, then do science but don’t try to pass The Bell Curve off as science.

  55. says

    PZ- Why do you complain about their usage of questionable studies? Their article described their method of selecting studies. Are you suggesting that they should have used subjective determination of which studies were popular enough to include in their meta-analysis?

  56. robotczar says

    Of course different physical and mental abilities exist. The issue is about whether some abilities are general. Do superior pitchers share some physical abilities with superior linebackers? The answer is yes, though the example is strained by the very different roles. Do all professional athletes tend to share similar physical abilities? Obviously yes (okay, maybe not golfers). They don’t share all abilities, some are job specific (the analog to crystalized intelligence). And yes, physical and mental performance, not ability (which is like talent), depends on practice, which is learning. As long as you confuse performance and ability you will, well, be confused.

    Being a Filipino is based on a political distinction, not a genetic group. Genetic groups can be defined by typical gene differences in those groups (on average). The differences in genes may result in phenotype differences like skin darkness, height, or general intelligence (on average for a group). Yes, genes do distinguish genetic groups and do also distinguish self identified racial groups (roughly). What does being a single gene factor matter? If there a single gene for height? Genes are not social constructs, unless you are part of the post modern “crowd” and claim everything is a social construct. Some social constructs may be based on genetic differences. I mean, that is possible isn’t it?

    Your definition of intelligence will determine if you think the cave man is more intelligent than the physicist. Scientific definitions will identify the g for both. The salient point is that you get better performance (on average) with either a cave man or theoretical physicist who has higher general intelligence than one with lower. That is the point of saying various cognitive abilities are correlated and affect many kinds of performance.

  57. Nick Gotts says

    robotczar,

    As I have said, and nobody has refuted, that measures of general cognitive ability (which can be pretty well defined despite the many insipid definitions of intelligence like “multiple intelligences”) are very highly correlated with many other variables often thought to indicate “success” like performance in school or on a job.

    Of course they correlate, but that doesn’t tell you that they are measuring a genetically determined property: you’d also expect them to correlate if the correlations result from an environmentally-determined one such as general health, educational level, or cultural background.

    Culture is the favorite of the ideologically driven these days. Culture is learned and thus is not strongly related to cognitive ability. It surely can affect performance on tasks (like most learning can). It is up to those asserting strong cultural effects on ABILITY to provide evidence of such effects.

    Stone me, but you’re ignorant: Flynn effect (you ought to be aware of it, since it was actually the “Bell Curve” authors who named it). Note that scores on allegedly “culture-free” tests of “cognitive ability” have changed more than those on obviously culture-specific tests of scholastic achievement.

    Raven’s Matrices, often accepted as a good measure of g

    *chuckle*

    Here’s Raven himself, reviewing evidence of how the mean and distribution of scores on RPM have changed over time:

    A potentially more fruitful line of enquiry is suggested by the fact that
    the variation in mean scores between ethnic groups within the United States
    does seem to correspond to variations between the same groups in height,
    birth weight, and infant mortality. Height and birth weight have, like intelli-
    gence test scores, increased over the past 80 years (Knight & Eldridge, 1984;
    Floud, Wachter, & Gregory, 1990). These observations led us to suspect that
    the increase in RPM scores over time might be attributable to the same fac-
    tors as have been responsible for increases in height and birth weight and
    for decline in infant mortality—that is, to improved nutrition, welfare, and
    hygiene. Such evidence as we were able to garner (summarized in J. Raven
    et al., 1998a) did seem to support this hypothesis but, since the outcome was
    far from certain, it has been eliminated here.

    It seems rather odd to “eliminate” these factors, but in any case, Raven goes on to discuss other factors that seem to make a difference, rather inconclusively, but indicating that how parents treat and interact with their children is probably important. This suggests to me that an important factor may be simply the amount of time parents devote to each child – which will of course be negatively correlated with the number of children per (social) parent.

    But when mental ability is considered, people prefer to believe we are all equal–a belief not supported by any sort of evidence.

    Where has anyone on this thread claimed anything of the kind?

    Do you think there is a general physical ability factor–is there a correlation between most measures of physical ability so that we can describe a person as “a good athlete” as opposed to “a good football player”?

    Yes: it’s called “good health” – same as for mental abilities.

    We can only address such differences if we understand them scientifically, not via ideology or what we prefer to believe.

    For all your blather about “mainstream scientists”, psychometricians are actually a relatively small coterie among psychologists, with a long history of links with racism and eugenics, as illustrated by the support they are still getting from the Nazi-linked Pioneer Fund.

  58. anuran says

    You’re in good company on the discomfort with intelligence as a single number. Binet, as in Stanford-Binet, thought IQ tests should be plural. They were supposed to be multi-dimensional for the purpose of identifying strengths and deficits in order to improve each student’s education, not provide neat rankings from “smart” to “stupid”.

  59. jakc says

    This isn’t so much about whether g exists but whether the Bell Curve measures it. It doesn’t.

    As for the comparison with physical ability, no one tries to reduce fitness to p. If I tell you a guy is 325 pounds, you don’t know if he’s on the verge of a heart attack or an elite offensive lineman. You don’t know if someone with a low BMI is a world-class cyclist or an anorexic.

    Genes aren’t social constructs Races are. Otherwise list them and tell us how to identify them.

    Now, I’m skeptical that we can identify a single factor g in people, and your arguments and claims have been unconvincing. PZ posted a fine link on the myth of g. Beyond that I’ll simply point out that most of us are far more concerned with the discernable skills that other people have rather than this vague, hard to measure possibly non-existent g.

    Baseball teams don’t judge pitchers by their physical fitness but by their pitching skills

  60. robotczar says

    Wooz. This is exactly the sort of mindless discussion and blather from people who don’t know what they are talking about I am going to avoid. But, I will do Gotts because I have already invested so much time in providing some real information, his ideas are easily refuted and he seems like a jerk.

    Of course there is ample evidence that whatever is measured by cognitive ability tests has a large genetic component. (Got ignorance?) Your information is very selective. Yes, environment can affect general intelligence (like a bullet in the head). But, IQ is one of the most stable of psychometrics. One would expect much more variability if learning were responsible for IQ. (Why don’t you know this if you can look up the Flynn effect?)

    The reason for the Flynn effect is unknown. Learning, such as test taking skills, or classes in how to do better on such tests could be responsible. Who in this thread is claiming that there is zero effect of environment on imperfect ability measures? We have no perfect measures of human behavior. The discussion is about possible genetic effects on g, or its measures. Maybe we are getting smarter (increasing g) for some reason. Your quote from Raven suggests improvements in nutrition might be responsible for improvements in average g. What does that have to do with this conversation? Did Raven say there is no such thing as g or that there is no genetic component to g? Of course not! He invented a test to measure g (double chuckle). The average height the Japanese has increased sharply in the last century. Does that mean there is no genetic component to height? Stop indulging your confirmation bias and try to think more critically.

  61. roro80 says

    As I have said, and nobody has refuted, that measures of general cognitive ability (which can be pretty well defined despite the many insipid definitions of intelligence like “multiple intelligences”) are very highly correlated with many other variables often thought to indicate “success” like performance in school or on a job.

    This should come as no surprise, but doesn’t actually prove what you seem to be trying to prove. Anyone who has taken a class in anything knows the concept of teaching to the test. If you tell a class you’re going to give a test on xyz, then teach xyz, with multiple examples that mimic what they will learn on the test, your students have a much better chance of doing well on the test than a class of students who have been busily learning abc.

    Schools teach a lot of the same stuff that one would need to know on an IQ test. If you had a good, well-funded school, plenty of time to do your homework, plenty of money to pay for college, parents who had time to sit down with you and explain things you didn’t understand during class, and you weren’t subjected to institutional bias or daily violence or malnutrition, you probably will do well in school and on IQ tests. You will probably also learn enough to get through a good university and get a good job. You probably won’t need two or three jobs to make ends meet, and you will therefore be successful at your job. If, on the other hand, you go to poorly-funded schools, with too many kids in the class, in a violent neighborhood, and your folks have to work multiple jobs to keep food on the table, and can’t afford expensive outside assistance for the difficult classes, if expectations of doing well in school are low, and if you go to school having not eaten breakfast, you’re probably not going to get as much learning without way more effort, statistically affecting both school grades and IQ test scores among groups of students in these situations. You’re less likely to go to a good university or get a good job.

    It’s a circular argument. IQ tests measure the same things that make for good students and high-earning professionals. Of course there’s corrolation among these things.

  62. john3141592 says

    I keep wondering what sort of line you could fit Lynn’s graph to. I think a tangent function would be better than a hyperbola, but the residuals would be huge either way.

  63. says

    Robotczar:

    Name calling actual scientists “racists” is reminiscent of McCarthyism

    I didn’t realize that having a doctorate made one immune to racism.

    Also, it’s not like science has ever been used to perpetrate injustices on people of color.

    …an agenda driven by ideology…ideologically driven…

    Yes, of course, a knee-jerk defense of the status quo isn’t ideologically driven at all.

    Wordy arguments (the only way humanities people can seek truth)

    Ah, you’re one of those. If it can’t be boiled down to ones and zeroes, or to chemicals, it doesn’t really exist.

    Stop indulging your confirmation bias and try to think more critically.

    Can’t be you who’s biased, now, can it? Nah.

  64. Ingdigo Jump says

    @Ms Daisy

    Also we’re ignoring that the authors kinda actually were racist, before and afterwards.

    Yes there’s ad hom, but there’s also ‘don’t be a fucking idiot and consider the source’

  65. robotczar says

    Let me talk a bit about left-wing corruption of science.

    Whether a scientist is a racist or a wife-beater really should not affect how we judge the scientific merit of their published work. Letting that judgement affect our evaluation, or dismiss the work, is in fact, an illogical and unscientific position. It is very easy to complain about the encroachment of ideology on scientific method when it is ideology you do no subscribe to or like. But, it is very hard to maintain objectivity when the is your ideology. PZ is so disappointing in hypocritically letting his ideology guide his scientific opinions.

    Now, you might clam that a person’s ideology is biasing their work. Fine, show how. It is about the work not the person. Argue why the conclusions are wrong. (PS does do this in addition to rejecting work based on his ideology).

    For logical confirmation of what I suggest, consider why you don’t reject the work of those who are actively anti-racism. I mean, that might bias their work, right? So, should we reject the work of people labeled “anti-racist”? No. The way science is supposed to work is that it is objective and lets the data speak Of course beliefs of scientists are going to affect their work–they are human. But, the method of science is supposed to work toward exposing and eliminating that bias. Let scientific method work without the labeling and name calling. Ad hominem attacks are logical fallacies. I really would request that PZ comment on this issue.

  66. says

    Whether a scientist is a racist or a wife-beater really should not affect how we judge the scientific merit of their published work

    Not if it’s about stars, or clouds, geology or the like, no. The problem is that people who are particularly racist, sexist or the like tend to want to make their work about validating white people’s prejudices.

    Letting that judgement affect our evaluation, or dismiss the work, is in fact, an illogical and unscientific position.

    It is if you don’t actually highlight where that racism or sexism or whatnot affected the work. Is this the first you’ve heard about the Bell Curve sucking? Because a hell of a lot of psychologists and sociologists have shown why it’s to be dismissed: by methodological errors.

    For logical confirmation of what I suggest, consider why you don’t reject the work of those who are actively anti-racism.

    Actually, I have, when they overreached their data. Good try though. Also, I find it ironic that you point to where you believe ideology is causing problems, but can’t understand where an opposing ideology can cause problems.

    Wordy arguments (the only way humanities people can seek truth)

    Do you know who actually gave you both Science and Empiricism?

  67. robotczar says

    Rutee, your reply is misguided, not mindless, so I will reply.

    To the degree that the work is shown to be incorrect or biased we are in agreement. I said to look at the work, not the person.

    The fact that “a lot of” psychologists and sociologists “have shown”that The Bell Curve “sucks” may mean little scientifically, if these people are not scientists and their objections are ideological.. Many of the publications objecting to the Bell Curve are not scientific publications, but humanities publications. (Do you consider sociology a science?) I have already asserted that many psychologists are not scientists, so the fact that many have complained the Bell Curve is not surprising or damning from a scientific perspective. Yes, most books on a subject, as well as about 95% of all published work in psychology are going to have methodological errors and some unfounded assumptions and conclusions. Science can deal with that. The basic idea of the Bell Curve has not be discredited with data, quite the contrary, so the ideologically motivated have to attack the men, not the data. People also have to resort to attacking the construct (g) and the measurement (e.g., IQ) BECAUSE the data are well established.

    Would you say that PS went beyond highlighting where errors are found in the work he criticizes, or does he go beyond that to dismiss the work based on labels? I judge he did both.

    Lastly, I could say that Christianity gave me science and empiricism if I went by what people claim. Claiming humanists did so is just as false. People who say so that are humanists who can’t see that natural philosophy many years ago evolved into a completely new thing — science, probably due to a few people with high g. Wordy arguments had nothing to do with it.

  68. roro80 says

    Would you say that PS went beyond highlighting where errors are found in the work he criticizes, or does he go beyond that to dismiss the work based on labels? I judge he did both.

    Someone who takes a look at crap work, points out the problems in the work, and then notices a long-term patterm of previous or subsequent work that might elucidate why the person might be making such consistently crap work, is not being unscientific. When essentially every bit of “science” that points to racist conclusions ends up being just plain bad science, and when this happens so consistently over the course of history, one can and should draw conclusions that lead one to dismiss racist work in the future, based on racists being racists because they are racists. Just to save time. This guy was a racist previously and since, and lo and behold, he is this time as well. We don’t need to constantly take seriously “evidence” that “disproves” evolution either, because it is so uniformly crap science or magic that it’s a waste of time. That’s very different than “dismissing work based on labels”.

  69. says

    The fact that “a lot of” psychologists and sociologists “have shown”that The Bell Curve “sucks” may mean little scientifically, if these people are not scientists

    Sociologists are definitionally scientists, as are the psychologists who tend actually wrap themselves up with disputes about data. And what you’re saying is that you put a higher standard of evidence on anti-racists than you do on racists with this entire hypothetical, because you’re imputing all the ideology to one side, instead of, well, actually fucking reading The Bell Curve after learning something about the relevant disciplines (Which I know you don’t, if you are categorically referring to sociologists as ‘non-scientists’.

    but humanities publications. (Do you consider sociology a science?)

    Do you not consider people using the experimental model to collect and examine data to discover how aspects of reality work (In this instance, interactions between human systems) to be scientists? Oh wait, we know this one. Christ, you’re stupid.

    Let’s pretend, for ten seconds, that sociology isn’t a Science with a capital S. Why are you defending the Bell Curve (Which is effectively bad sociological science) as being beyond reproach? Secondary question: Who gives two shits? You’re the one putting forth that the data are king; sociologists work with data. Empiricism did not begin in the sciences, it started in the humanities. The humanities continue to use them to this day. They are looking at both the data and the method of information collection: The Bell Curve doesn’t add up on either end.

    Would you say that PS went beyond highlighting where errors are found in the work he criticizes, or does he go beyond that to dismiss the work based on labels? I judge he did both.

    Assuming you mean PZ (No judgement, typos happen to the best of us), then no. He found someone who consistently lies, in the same consistent way. They do so in a way that befits their label – where’s hte issue? Do you take each novel argument RAy Comfort or the Discovery Institute makes seriously, when you know they’re liars who lie about the same topic in the same basic way? Doesn’t the body of evidence kind of refute anything short of an astounding observation in the data at this point there? Because it does for something so broad as ‘general intelligence’, and all the moreso if you want to point to genetics as the cause.

    Claiming humanists did so is just as false.

    Dude, the first scientists considered themselves philosophers – more to the point, the concept of empiricism was generated by a philosopher. You are telling yourself a comforting lie if you deny that you don’t owe a huge debt to the humanities for giving you the disciplines you place above all others.

    probably due to a few people with high g.

    This is actually even more ignorant – science didn’t shift because of a few talented individuals (So little does). That’s putting aside that you’re assuming a comforting thought to begin with.

  70. says

    Incidental note, when I say ‘empiricism as a concept was generated by a philosopher”, I mean a philosopher, not a natural philosopher.

    Before I was ever an academic, I was a nerd. And I watched nerds be colossal assholes to each other over the most meaningless, trite differences, constantly looking down their noses for something so trivial as their choice in entertainment. And I hated it, and to my own limited extent, fought it wherever I could. I was sure grown-ups were smarter than this shit. What a naive child I was – interdisciplinary jackassery still makes me want to punch a kitten.

  71. says

    …fuck, how did it escape me taht you’re super convinced about g, while fussing about how psychologists aren’t scientists. Where do you think g came from?

  72. robotczar says

    I’m sorry Rutee, I was wrong, I thought you were just misguided.

    Sociology can be a science if sociologists follow scientific method. But, they generally don’t. Instead they tend do the humanist ideological thing involving non-scientific theories (like Critical Theory). I suspect you don’t know what the “experimental model” is. (It requires random assignment to groups that experience manipulation of a variable.) Allah, you are ignorant. Very very few sociology “studies” meet these criteria. Most don’t even bother with quantitative measures. Collecting data and thinking hard about it does not qualify as science, regardless of your goal. Calling yourself a scientist does not make you one. In my opinion, sociologists have a very hard time following scientific method because so few in the field can train them in the method (they don’t know it), and so few with scientific reasoning ability are attracted to the field.

    I do like how you think you can speak for a hell of a lot of psychologists and sociologists, though. Maybe you did a survey? Or maybe an ethnology? Why not just site a study or make an argument rather than try to pretend that so many people agree with you (about TBC) that you must be right? Perhaps you are a sociologist?

    Dood, move beyond Philosophy 101. Early philosophers did not consider themselves scientists (they did not know what science was). And, who cares what they considered themselves to be? Some modern philosophers (and sociologists) consider themselves scientists. That does not make them scientists.

    Early philosophers sought knowledge. Some Greek ones used logic and mathematics to support their search. But the whole freakin’ point is they did not use empirical method, so they cannot be called scientists. By Zeus, you are stupid. As there were no scientists prior to the Age of Reason, people who sought knowledge called themselves natural philosophers. Some of them (probably with high g) invented empiricism (like Francis Bacon). So what? So some “philosophers” invented science and therefore philosophers are somehow scientists? Hogwash, dude. Philosophy itself gets zero credit for inventing empiricism, but even if you want to give it that credit, what does that have to do with current philosophers and sociologists? You have to meet the criteria for doing science or you ain’t a scientist. Those using ideology to determine scientific principles or validity are not scientists nor are they doing science. Do some critical thinking beyond Philosophy 101.

    I would recommend that you read some sociology studies and determine if they meet the criteria for science, but you don’t seem to know what the criteria are. But, think hard, something might happen.

    What exactly makes TBC racist and full of lies? That many sociologists have argued that it is? In no way can that be considered a scientific critique. As I said, people have to resort to attacking the construct or the measurement instrument (or speaking for a hell of a lot of sociologists) because the data are firmly established. This can be seen by perusing the replies to the original blog post.

  73. says

    Sociology can be a science if sociologists follow scientific method. But, they generally don’t. Instead they tend do the humanist ideological thing involving non-scientific theories (like Critical Theory). I suspect you don’t know what the “experimental model” is. (It requires random assignment to groups that experience manipulation of a variable.) Allah, you are ignorant. Very very few sociology “studies” meet these criteria.

    And in the blink of an eye, palentology, cosmology, and observational biology were swept out of the fields of science.

    Also, sociologists work with control groups all the time. Do you really know this little about the discipline? Evidence suggests yes (Critical Theory can be part of data interpretation, but not of methodology or collection, fyi). And I really don’t care to listen to what someone who most likely lacks J-Stor access has to say about how ‘sociology lacks quantitative research’ without… actually producing quantitative data on it.

    Why not just site a study or make an argument rather than try to pretend that so many people agree with you (about TBC) that you must be right? Perhaps you are a sociologist?

    I don’t waste time doing research for people who’ve already ignored prior research spoonfed to them, as it was in this blog post and thread. I’m a historian, btw – it’s so cute when science hangers-on (Even the most arrogant scientist is usually smart enough to not pretend all science comes down to control groups) pretend science is the field most laden in citation

    Dood, move beyond Philosophy 101. Early philosophers did not consider themselves scientists (they did not know what science was). And, who cares what they considered themselves to be?

    Everyone agreed they were philosophers, and they met the era’s definition of philosophers. To pretend otherwise is self-delusion.

    But the whole freakin’ point is they did not use empirical method, so they cannot be called scientists.

    This doesn’t matter to you, really – you’ve already categorically shat upon the bulk of the humanities, despite the fact that our use of empiricism predates every single scientific endeavor on the planet.

    What exactly makes TBC racist and full of lies?
    The fact that it uses methodology designed to produce the results that exalt white people (and incidentally Asians), the fact that the data contradicts studies with better controls, that it can’t be replicated… standard issues with poor science, really. I appreciate you showing your colors in the most unapologetic way though..

    As I said, people have to resort to attacking the construct or the measurement instrument (or speaking for a hell of a lot of sociologists) because the data are firmly established.

    The data aren’t firmly established in its favor, though XD