December 1, 2009

Gladwell renews his War on Intelligence

As many have pointed out, Malcolm Gladwell stuck to his guns over his obviously false assertion that there's "no connection" between draft rank and NFL quarterback performance in his attack on Steven Pinker because that was just a proxy for IQ and race.

Now, Gladwell goes on the attack against Pinker on IQ with exactly what you'd expect: the usual point and sputter about Six Degrees of the Pioneer Fund and all of that:
Pinker, Round Two

Still, you've got to admit that Gladwell has a point: if people can make more accurate than random predictions about which college quarterbacks will be better than other college quarterbacks, then they can make predictions about more politically incorrect things, too. Thus, Gladwell wages relentless war upon predictions, upon quantitative thinking, upon science, indeed, upon that ultimate evil: knowledge.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many of the positions on the "Mainstream Science on Intelligence" piece were really just common-sense positions that even non-hereditarians could subscribe to. The one Gladwell quotes, however, is more commonly subscribed to among hereditarians.

Middletown Girl said...

Okay, there's an easy way to solve this problem to Gladwell's satisfaction, at least in his little world. He writes for the New Yorker, right?
How about every staffer at New Yorker be replaced with a graduate of city colleges of NY? Let us see what happens to the quality of that magazine. I predict it will turn into a shameless pile of crap like People or Ebony. But, what do I know? Gladwell the guru or gooru knows everything.
Funny how Gladwell preaches egalitarianism but hangs around elitists.

But maybe Gladwell does have a point. After all, no amount of high IQ or good schooling seem to affect the minds of social scientists when confronted with genuine biological data on race; they still stubbornly cling to the notion that 'race is just a myth'.

High IQ may lead to greater social or economic success but is no guarantee or predictor of greater truth or truthfulness on the part of individuals.

Ronduck said...

Of course, if we wanted to notice a pattern we could claim that Gladwell has an axe to grind against IQ research because he is Black.

Anonymous said...

"...no amount of high IQ or good schooling seem to affect the minds of social scientists when confronted with genuine biological data on race; they still stubbornly cling to the notion that 'race is just a myth'."

Once again, AGW is a model of the state of human intelligence research. Researchers are like spiky little iron filings lining up in the force field of consent manufactured by the shoddy, politicized process of peer review. Most scientists are content to be this way because, quite frankly, they aren't all that gifted and as they are unlikely to make any significant discoveries outside the context of a highly developed research field, they can always convince themselves of the plausibility of received bullcrap.

In the world of early 20th century Old Science, a relatively small number of brilliant men, driven by natural curiosity, invented whole new branches of research in an attempt to explain natural phenomena and discover the laws which underlie the physical universe, not to mention human nature.

Now, in the New Science age of the 21st century, the number of scientists has ballooned, with the fragmentation of research fields into esoteric specialties. The capabilities of individual scientists has greatly declined as the number has increased and the emphasis has gone from intense introspection, careful lab work, and artful calculation, to grant writing and facilities development. The modern scientist has become the business equivalent of the committee man. He has almost no personal views on anything; he restlessly travels from one exotic location to another, attending conferences in order to receive the latest consensus view which he could have more easily Googled from the convenience of his office computer.

And since all research grant money flows from politics, the New Scientist must be a PC politician, and discover only acceptable truths or have the good sense to pick his conference audiences carefully.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you whooped up on him about QB's. You have another opportunity now to do it before Pinker does. It certainly won't hurt your readership.

Harry Baldwin said...

Ronduck said...
Of course, if we wanted to notice a pattern we could claim that Gladwell has an axe to grind against IQ research because he is Black.

Does he actually look black to you? It would be more accurate to say he self-identifies as black rather than, say, Jewish.

Anonymous said...

In the world of early 20th century Old Science, a relatively small number of brilliant men, driven by natural curiosity, invented whole new branches of research in an attempt to explain natural phenomena and discover the laws which underlie the physical universe, not to mention human nature.

And one woman! Don't forget Marie Curie!

ben tillman said...

Before Congress he testified that IQ data proved that 83 percent of Jewish immigrants were born feeble-minded and therefore were a threat to the nation's economy and genetic makeup.

Adam Miller is lying, and so is Gladwell. That's why I get so pisssed off when some misanthrope drops in and taunts Steve for being "less successful" then Gladwell in the "same field" of endeavor. Sailer and Gladwell are in the "same field" only in the sense that cops and criminals are.

In the Congressional debate over the Immigration Act of 1924, only one Congressman mentioned Jews. That was Representative Wefald, who complained, “The leadership of our intellectual life in many of its phases has come into the hands of these clever newcomers” (Congressional Record, April 12, 1924, 6272).

http://www.affirmativeactionhoax.com/pdfs/Gould.pdf

Anonymous said...

Did he just break Godwin's Law?

OneSTDV said...

That was quite weak.

He didn't even really try. I was expecting him to bring up the study Levitt pointed to of infant testing showing no intelligence gap.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Now, in the New Science age of the 21st century, the number of scientists has ballooned, with the fragmentation of research fields into esoteric specialties. The capabilities of individual scientists has greatly declined as the number has increased and the emphasis has gone from intense introspection, careful lab work, and artful calculation, to grant writing and facilities development. The modern scientist has become the business equivalent of the committee man. He has almost no personal views on anything; he restlessly travels from one exotic location to another, attending conferences in order to receive the latest consensus view which he could have more easily Googled from the convenience of his office computer."

This is a deeply cynical and embittered view........which sounds just about right. Well said.

Anonymous said...

He writes for the New Yorker, right?


How about every staffer at New Yorker be replaced with a graduate of city colleges of NY? Let us see what happens to the quality of that magazine. I predict it will turn into a shameless pile of crap like People or Ebony.




The New Yorker is already a shameless pile of crap. And Gladwell has a degree from a tony college, which does not seem to improve the quality of what he writes.

Anonymous said...

Before Congress he testified that IQ data proved that 83 percent of Jewish immigrants were born feeble-minded and therefore were a threat to the nation's economy and genetic makeup.



I guess Gladwell is smart enough to know what audience he's supposed to be pandering to.

Anonymous said...

Gladwell's argument:

"Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund !!!"

Larry, San Francisco said...

Talking about great female physicists from the 20th century what about LIse Meitner the great German physicist who deserved the Nobel as much as her traitorous lab partner the chemist Otto Hahn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lise_Meitner.

Interestingly there have not been that many great female physicists in the second half of the 20th century. Maybe smart women liked biology better.

l said...

IQ tests were originally developed to prove that Jews are feeble minded. But everyone knows that Jews are really a lot smarter than any other group, so IQ tests are useless. Oh, and everybody is equal.
P.S.: The Bell Curve was controversial, so we can ignore that.

Pat Shuff said...

"Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund Pioneer Fund !!!"

And....Pioneer Fund!!!

There, that should do it.

A former Senator said of a former President that the former President is
"a very good liar." Gladwell isn't.

Anonymous said...

The walls of hard science have finally been breached by PC group thinking Federal grant managers at the DOE and NSF. Pretty much regardless of dollar amount, all research proposals must now contain a "diversity plan" despite the fact that fewer than 1% of science PhDs are NAMs. To meet the need of research groups to highlight the "compelling" life stories of diversity scientists in their labs, academe -- like the Naval Academy -- has debased graduate admissions standards for minority and women degree candidates. Of course, for white and Asian men the standards are as high as ever.

And in order to retain marginally able graduate students, nearly all universities have done away with difficult first year graduate qualifying exams. The University of Chicago Physics Dept, for example, did away with its fabled, highly rigorous, week-long candidacy exam, which had been a nerve-racking feature of graduate life since the time of Fermi. The Candidacy Exam really separated the men from the boys; but it also had the unintended, un-PC consequence of separating the men from the girls and minorities. Which is why this great tradition was s-canned.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about that "race is a myth"--you ever notice it's only ever white people you hear saying it?

Sean S.

Victoria said...

How small-minded Gladwell turns out to be. Almost tacky.

Still, you've got to admit that Gladwell has a point: if people can make more accurate than random predictions about which college quarterbacks will be better than other college quarterbacks, then they can make predictions about more politically incorrect things, too.

Yes, this, no doubt, is at the heart of his phony intellectualizing on the subject.

Gladwell writes:
... two thirds of the editorial board of the journal Intelligence declined to sign the statement.

Not from fear of reprisal, of course. Talk about a guaranteed way to have your research money cut off!

And since all research grant money flows from politics, the New Scientist must be a PC politician, and discover only acceptable truths

Wow, this is a grim assessment, but it's hard to doubt its accuracy.

Sideways said...

High comedy in that comment thread when Kedar sets about proving himself wrong. I've never seen someone so thoroughly debunk their own claims without realizing that they were wrong (or is he just trolling?)

David said...

Guilt by association, character assassination, lying...Gladwell has lost it.

Mr. Pinker, it's time to pull a Huxley. The Lord hath delivered him into your hands. The blow you strike will be broader than against just one columnist, and you should go for broke. His attack, if unanswered, merely emboldens the dolts. It really cannot be passed over without capitulation and a return to darkness and silence.

dearieme said...

"Don't forget Marie Curie!" Indeed; who could? Whatta girl!

Anonymous said...

"And one woman! Don't forget Marie Curie!"

I would include Curie's daughter, Irene, and also Lise Meitner with whom she worked.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about that "race is a myth"--you ever notice it's only ever white people you hear saying it?

Sean S.

No. I've heard it from any number South Asian Indians who are high on the food chain; also some blacks from a Gladwell type background. However, with Indians running the complexion gamut from black to white and everything in between, maybe it is a myth--or rather, a "social construct"--to them. They do, however, believe heartily in the reality of color.

Simon said...

Harry Baldwin:
"Does he actually look black to you? It would be more accurate to say he self-identifies as black rather than, say, Jewish."

I suspect he feels insecure about his own intelligence; he's quite smart, but most of his (white, mostly Jewish) New York Times colleagues are smarter. Of course his relative lack of brains may well be an advantage on the business speaking circuit; IME successful corporate types aren't fond of people who seem a lot smarter than them.

OTOH I'm a less-than-wealthy academic, so I'm probably just jealous.

Ronduck said...

Does he actually look black to you? It would be more accurate to say he self-identifies as black rather than, say, Jewish.

Self-identification is everything. Gladwell identifies with Blacks, so it would be natural that he would get touchy on matters that pertain to 'his' race,, even if he really is an octoroon.

Victoria said...

Guilt by association, character assassination, lying...Gladwell has lost it.

How true. He's used every trick in the book. My, how the mighty hath fallen.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan, Steve--of you.

BUT, you have to admit that Malcolm does have a point.


He is essentially doubt on your claims of IQ---that we can measure intelligence. He's skeptic, which is perfectly legit.

Mr. Anon said...

"Larry, San Francisco said...

Talking about great female physicists from the 20th century what about LIse Meitner the great German physicist who deserved the Nobel as much as her traitorous lab partner the chemist Otto Hahn"

Traitorous? How? To whom? Nonsense.

Yes, Meitner was a good physicist. But I don't see what you've got against Otto Hahn.

Anonymous said...

"There is ample evidence from economics and psychology that cognitive ability is a powerful predictor of economic and social outcomes. It is intuitively obvious that cognition is essential in processing information, learning, and in decision making. It is also intuitively obvious that other traits besides raw problem-solving ability matter for success in life..."

--Nobel Laureate James Heckman, adviser to Barack Obama

Anonymous said...

"It is also intuitively obvious that other traits besides raw problem-solving ability matter for success in life..."

Like wealthy parents and political connections.

ben tillman said...

BUT, you have to admit that Malcolm does have a point.

He is essentially doubt on your claims of IQ---that we can measure intelligence. He's skeptic, which is perfectly legit.


No, it's not.

Reactionary said...

Speaking of science, Steve-o, if you don't do some serious digging on Climategate and the increasingly shaky HIV/AIDS hypothesis, I am going to be really disappointed.

Anonymous said...

"It is also intuitively obvious that other traits besides raw problem-solving ability matter for success in life..."

Like wealthy parents and political connections.

NOT REALLY. CHILDREN ADOPTED INTO WEALTHY FAMILIES DO NOT END UP DOING MUCH BETTER THAN CHILDREN ADOPTED INTO MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILIES. THE SUCCESS OF AN ADOPTEE IS BETTER PREDICTED BY THE SUCCESS OF THE ADOPTEE'S biological PARENTS.

Anonymous said...

How did we get from football to a discussion of IQ and race? Answer: By Gladwell injecting the IQ nature/nuture debate into his original response to Pinker. Why did Gladwell do this? Because he intuitively understands the ideological link between the two issues. If you can use the performance of quarterbacks in college to somewhat accurately predict their performance in professional football, then you might also be able to use children's early intellectual performance, on say an IQ test, to predict their later intellectual performance. Galdwell's motivation for flailing away at the reality of predictive power in general is that he associates this power with certain distasteful ideologies of the past, like eugenics. But making this association is not a powerful argument. As has been pointed out, most of the signatories to the Wall Street Journal statement do not have links to the Pioneer Fund, while the liberal Planned Parenthood does.

Gladwell seems to want to dismantle reason itself so that reality will be in sinc with his ethics. The reality is that all of us, black/white/asian/hispanic etc., will ultimately be happier and better equipped to handle the world once we understand the phenomenon of racial differences in mental attributes.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is curious, the (purposely) misconstrued "83%" figure almost certainly comes from a 1917 Goddard article in the Journal of Delinquency, which sought to handpick probable cretins among the immigrant population, to see if the handpicking and IQ testing results were as well-matched in foreigners as they were in US natives.

Goddard never claimed to have studied a random sample. A few pessimistic guesses he included in article are what Gould seized on to say that Goddard was intentionally misusing his own results.

Dennis Dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Haven't read the links yet, but shouldn't Prof. Pinker be debating another expert?

Shades of Finkelstein vs. Dershowitz or Hanson vs. Yudkowsky.

David said...

Simon said

> I suspect he feels insecure about his own intelligence; he's quite smart, but most of his (white, mostly Jewish) New York Times colleagues are smarter. <

Yes, but there are writers (white and black) who have that insecurity because they know themselves to be a type of idiot savant. Smart on paper, or persuasive with the patter, but dolts in terms of content.

They have the writing equipment of a 40 year old professional...and the cognitive equipment of a touchy 14 year old.