[lit-ideas] Re: Are Muslims lowering the intelligence of German society?

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010 11:13:29 +0000 (GMT)

--- On Tue, 30/11/10, Eric Yost <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> No particular horse in this race except my usual glee in
> poking at people's motives.
> I read _The Bell Curve_ about six years ago. The authors --
> one of whom received an award for his statistical
> methodology and clarity -- seem to take every opportunity to
> qualify their claims. I recall an extensive section that
> discusses "5." and an even longer section on "6."
> In the *section* on bias, the authors outlined a spectrum
> of cultural and social biases that can alter the results of
> IQ tests, as well as the variety and changes in such tests,
> and described the selection of bias-free or bias-adjusted
> testing. As I recall, they admitted the fallibility of
> attempts to evaluate the best bias-free tests or bias
> adjusted tests, and described how they employed the best
> metrics available at the time of the research.

Sounds suspiciously like science qua 'the critical approach', a la Popper. 
Moreover: _all_ methods are fallible, and so are the results obtained. This 
fact produces, for some, a progressive 'problem-shift' from the (misconceived) 
problem of establishing infallible methods and results to the problem of 
critically assessing methods and results in the light of the ever-present 
possibility of error, error which may arise from hitherto unsuspected sources. 
This shift is not merely semantic but involves a profound change in attitude 
and approach.


> Back to the storm. Mike culled sections from Wikipedia
> about black-white comparisons. However the book seldom if
> ever reads as fuel for a racism campaign. For example, the
> authors state that Asian-Americans consistently score higher
> than white-Americans (albinos?) across the range of metrics.
> By Mike's and Konner's reasoning, then, this "scurrilous
> study" could be viewed as "a deliberate assault on efforts
> to improve the school performance of White-Americans." No
> sense schooling us European mutts: no good will come of it.
> Only school Asians only in that thar book learning.

Of course, it _could_ be used as fuel for a racism campaign (the energy sources 
for such campaigns are in no clear and present danger of depletion). As Eric 
points out, for example, it could be used as fuel for an assault on efforts to 
better educate whites. But then nothing in policy or ethical terms follows 
logically from the science here: even if it were reliably shown that whites and 
blacks were harder to educate than Asians, this could be used as fuel for 
directing more help to whites and blacks rather than less.  

While it may be amusing to witness how debates on I.Q. are driven by 
ideological falsehoods and riven with 'is/ought' confusions, perhaps the 
'science' of understanding human intelligence may yet prove its worth if it 
furthers efforts to improve education.

> Regards,
> Eric
> IQ: 152

Ah. Like me, somewhere in the top 90%.

> PS: As for IQ itself, my opinion is that it's like medical
> diagnosis and treatment: immense individual variability of
> one's personal baseline makes "best practices" dicey at
> best.

Popper makes two important points about I.Q. in 'The Self and Its Brain'. The 
first, more commonplace point is that with I.Q. there is always the question of 
what we should be measuring and why, and the search for a single-value measure 
of I.Q. is as dubious as the search for a single-value measure of the quality 
of soil - quality depends on what purpose we want served. The second point is 
that we should be open to the possibility that there is little _important_ 
correlation between I.Q. and the kind of creative brilliance with 
producing/discovering World 3 entities that marks out a Mozart, Bach or 
Einstein. The latter truimvirate may not have had anything like the highest 
I.Q.s whereas Popper claims he knew at least one I.Q. genius who was a complete 
"blockhead". Human knowledge does not advance much by people completing I.Q. 
tests - it depends on people producing/discovering World 3 entities such as 
problems and their possible solutions.


To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: