January 30, 2012

The IQ Ameliorist School

In Taki's Magazine, I write about a major new paper by leading lights in the left-of-center Ameliorist school of IQ experts, including Robert Nisbett, James Flynn, and Eric Turkheimer:
Even more courageously, the seven Ameliorists note that IQ tests are valuable because they quantify that most career-threatening of hot buttons in American intellectual life—racial differences in intelligence—which they find both sizable and socially significant:
IQ is also important because some group differences are large and predictive of performance in many domains. Much evidence indicates that it would be difficult to overcome racial disadvantage if IQ differences could not be ameliorated.

Read the whole thing there.

29 comments:

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

SuperBill released his annual letter from the Gates Foundation. It has this little pearl in it:

"If we could make the
average teacher as good
as the best teachers, the
benefit to students
would be phenomenal."
- bill gates


I am Lugash.

Sid said...

I'll just add to your point, Steve, that even if we made IQ scores between racial groups "equal," that there would still be "inequality" within those now equal groups. If all blacks and Asians had an IQ of 100 (renormed or otherwise), there would still be Asians with IQs of 70 who would have narrow life opportunities, just as blacks with IQs of 140 could choose between whether to become brain surgeons, corporate lawyers, or pursue a Ph.D. in Classics.

Too much attention has been given to IQ in regards to race, and not enough to IQ in regards to class. And even if we had the most thorough eugenics program since Sweden's and sterilized everyone with an IQ less than 90, the supergeniuses of the future would still be lagging behind the hypergeniuses.

Anonymous said...

When Steve linked to Murray's new book on Amazon, I clicked, and was surprised to discover a blurb from Niall Ferguson.

"This is an immensely important and utterly gripping book. It deserves to be as much talked about as Murray's most controversial work (co-authored with Richard J. Herrnstein), The Bell Curve. Quite unjustly, that book was anathematized as "racist" because it pointed out that, on average, African-Americans had lower IQ scores than white Americans."

I didn't know that Niall Ferguson accepted the reality of racial differences in IQ. I once read his book on the Rothschilds and maybe some articles here or there, but this comes as a complete surprise. He's a mainstream figure.

Anonymous said...

Language quibble: shouldn't it be "meliorist"?

TH said...

Anon wrote: I didn't know that Niall Ferguson accepted the reality of racial differences in IQ. I once read his book on the Rothschilds and maybe some articles here or there, but this comes as a complete surprise. He's a mainstream figure.

The existence of the black-white IQ gap in an uncontroversial fact. What was controversial about Murray and Herrnstein's book was that they showed that the gap largely explains many of the gaps in social outcomes between whites and blacks, and that they suggested that the IQ gap might have a partially genetic etiology.

Steve Sailer said...

"Language quibble: shouldn't it be "meliorist"?"

Good question. What should it be?

TH said...

Too bad that the ameliorist article does not deal with the recent studies by Peter Visscher and others that establish, using only genetic information, that IQ is highly heritable (discussed here).

One of the ameliorists, Eric Turkheimer, recently wrote about these new methods:

Thanks to the Visscher program of research, it should now be impossible to argue that the whole body of quantitative genetic research showing the universal importance of genes for human development was somehow based on a sanguine view of the equal environments assumption in twin studies, putting an end to an entire misguided school of thought among traditional opponents of classical quantitative (and by association behavioral) genetics (e.g., Joseph, 2010; Kamin & Goldberger, 2002).

Charles Murray aptly pointed out that these new studies mean that "Shelves of books and articles denying or minimizing the heritability of IQ have suddenly become obsolete". Of course, this won't dent the confidence of anti-hereditarians such as Leon Kamin and Jay Joseph, because their views were not based on a balanced examination of available evidence in the first place. They will simply come up with new articles and books, using even more sophistry to deny the obvious..

As to the race and IQ question, these days it would be very easy to definitely find out if genes contribute to lower IQs in blacks by studying if white ancestry is correlated with IQ in African Americans (after controlling for possible confounds like skin color and SES). No one has done that though.

Steve Sailer said...

"No one has done that though."

Chuck at Occidentalist recently trawled through various databases looking for evidence on this, although of course you can't do the full Murray-recommended program yet of looking at blacks whose looks are somewhat in discordance with their amount of white ancestry.

Sid said...

"Melior" in Latin is the comparative for "bonus," or plainly, "melior" means "better." The "a-" comes from the Latin "ad," which means "to." Roughly speaking, "ameliorate" means "to better."

"Meliorist" would mean, in the context of IQ, that IQ is better, whereas "Ameliorist" would mean to make IQ better.

Matko said...

Good question. What should it be?

Meliorism. John Gray in Liberalism mentions meliorism - the corrigibility and improvability of all social institutions and political arrangements - as one of the features of liberalism.

Anonymous said...

ameliorate (v.) 1767 (implied in ameliorating), perhaps a back formation from amelioration on pattern of Fr. améliorer. The simpler form meliorate was used in M.E. Related: Ameliorated.

http://www.etymonline.com

Anonymous said...

"The coauthors theorize that the current highest-IQ groups will eventually reach a genetic limit to their intelligence, allowing trailing groups to catch up. This sounds reasonable, but they’ve found surprisingly little evidence for it yet.'

This makes no sense. What if non-high-IQ groups reach their genetic limit and cannot catch up?

The Amelly argument is like: since West Africans will reach a limit in speed, others will eventually catch up.

Btw, I don't buy the hookworm argument, at least not all that much. Hookworm takes away not only mental but physical energy, right? But then how come blacks were good at sports long ago even when they had parasites and inferior diet?

And how did Japan rise so quickly in the 50s when most people ate like shit and some prolly had worms.

Anonymous said...

Hey, greyhounds will reach a limit in their speed. Maybe bulldogs will catch up.

Anonymous said...

The only reason why waiting for superman would be good is superman is tough and can kick anyone's butt. NO punk would mess with superman in school. If a punk behaves, he's more likely to study.

Maybe someone should do a superhero comic book: Ultra-Teach.

Anonymous said...

Niall Ferguson is a monkey to the neo-con organ grinders, so he is indeed a mainstream figure.

Anonymous said...

"Language quibble: shouldn't it be "meliorist"?"

"Good question. What should it be?"

I think it's turned into
free-mealiorist.

catperson said...

As to the race and IQ question, these days it would be very easy to definitely find out if genes contribute to lower IQs in blacks by studying if white ancestry is correlated with IQ in African Americans (after controlling for possible confounds like skin color and SES). No one has done that though.

It was more or less done in the Minnesota transracial adoption study where kids of different races were reared from very early childhood to adulthood by upper-middle class whites.

After the IQ scores were adjusted for outdated norms,the results were (according to wiki):

Age 7

Adopted Blacks 91
Adopted Mulattoes 105
Adopted Whites 112
Bio-kids of educated whites 111

Age 17:

Adopted Blacks 84
Adopted Mulattoes 93
Adopted Whites 102
Bio-kids of educated whites 106

It's interesting that at age 7, each group got a roughly half SD IQ boost from being reared in an upper-class white home but this advantage vanished by early adulthood. I believe this happens because people have to be domesticated before they can take an IQ test (i.e. learn basic upper class skills like sitting still, paying attention, concentrating, trying your best). When you're 7 you generally only learn these skills if you're raised by educated parents, but by 17, every one's been to school and acquired these habbits so being reared in an educated home is no longer an advantage on an IQ test.

One possible reason why arctic people don't do as well as whites on IQ tests despite being highly evolved big brained mongoloids is that they haven't been domesticated.

The Minnesota study had a subset of African Americans who were once incorrectly believed by their educated parents to be black when they were actually mulatto and vice versa, yet these kids still scored according to genetic heritage I believe.

Anonymous said...

looking at the skin-color of American blacks will not convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced (99% of the target population). Look at the I.Q of blacks adopted into white families in parts of Europe which have military-test-score data.

Douglas Knight said...

I am disappointed by their treatment of breastfeeding. The effect goes away when you control for mother's IQ. That's all you need to know.

Maybe there's enough doubt that more study is useful, but the provisional conclusion should be that it doesn't matter.

Kramer's study is not "large"; it has n=31. Also, it cherry-picked different IQ measures. I might be confusing it with a different paper, but Cipla sounds like worthless data-mining.

TH said...

looking at the skin-color of American blacks will not convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced (99% of the target population). Look at the I.Q of blacks adopted into white families in parts of Europe which have military-test-score data.

Data on adoptees won't convince the deniers either because they can always blame low scores on pre-adoption experiences or racism. Correlating IQ and white ancestry (as estimated by DNA-based methods) in African Americans would be a perfect natural experiment. Skin color is only imperfectly correlated with ancestry, so it would be possible to compare the IQs of African Americans with the same skin tone but different degrees of white ancestry -- this would be a very strong test of the hereditarian view.

Anonymous said...

"Good question. What should it be?"

By analogy with the meliorist school of thought, I think "meliorist" does well. Did you invent the term? Whoever did, you can definitely see where he is going with it, but if it's a call back to the philosophical concept of meliorism, then "IQ meliorism" seems the way to go.

IQ realism is, after all, the idea that IQ actually exists, yes? Just like mathematical realism is the idea that the objects of mathematical study are real, independently-existing things, rather than artifacts of human thinking.

Again, this is a language quibble.

Anonymous said...

certain high IQ groups can (and indeed have) hit a limit - not a genetic IQ limit but a dysfunctional culture limit. The German and Japanese upper middle class are not particularly smarter than its American counterpart, yet they operate within a more functional cultural framework, so they get useful things done. High IQ does little good to Americans when it is mostly spent on "law", government regulation, "medicine" and office politics within incompetently managed organizations. "Strategically creative data processing for 100% customer satisfaction" is not a recipe for economic prosperity, regardless of the high IQ of some of the people involved.

Matko said...

Melior" in Latin is the comparative for "bonus," or plainly, "melior" means "better." The "a-" comes from the Latin "ad," which means "to." Roughly speaking, "ameliorate" means "to better

"a-" doesn't comes from "ad-". It belongs to a separate prefix group (a-, ab-, abs-) in Latin that stands for "without" and "not". It is put as a prefix to negate something.

"Meliorate" means to makes something better, to improve it. Ameliorism would denote the position that a betterment is impossible, that there is no betterment, no improvement. The IQ Realists are ameliorists. The opposing group are meliorists.

jody said...

i'm not certain about right now, but it was true, even last decade, that the northern and western europeans, and east asians, were still getting smarter according to intelligence tests results. their stanford-binet or wechsler scores were still going up by 1 per decade or so. mean scores in most of those nations was over 100 by 2010.

they were also still getting taller, with this becoming a somewhat of a problem in the netherlands. that kim dotcom guy who ran megaupload was german and 6-7 (and was a big fat F too, but still).

i would expect the reunion with east germany would have been a drag on intelligence scores and heights for a while, until they were brought up to west germany standards, and kids born in former east germany in 1995 or so started entering the statistics in 2010 to balance out all the people born there during communism. same effect in north korea, with their brain and bone growth suppressed due to communism.

african NFL players' wonderlic scores have gone up 1 point in the last 15 years, although i am not clear whether this is due to familiarity with the test and coaching, or a small but real increase in brainpower among the players who actually get into the NFL. what is known for sure is that they are smarter than average for africans.

jody said...

on a related note to steve's comments about chinese and korean immigrants in california tilting SAT scores far to the right, with the euro american scores only increasing slightly and the asian scores increasing a lot, which has widened instead of narrowed the test score gap between groups:

http://tinyurl.com/8hw7x

if these 2011 IMF figures are correct, then the europeans are running away from the other groups.
what's good here is you can see the other 2 sources have the 2010 figures, so you can see the dramatic single year GDP growth in most european nations contrasted with the very slow growth in most third world. per capita GDP in many european nations grew in a single year by a couple thousand, or, growth in 1 year equal to total GDP per capita of dozens of nations.

note the US grew little, as did portugal or greece or ireland, in accordance with other evidence we observe.

the per capita wealth creation and economic activity difference is growing, not shrinking. this is creating a huge chasm between european nations and the third world. the ramifications are numerous. but if this continues, the europeans are going to run away from the rest of the world. extrapolating growth into the future using conservative estimates, lots of european nations are going to be so far ahead of the third world nations in 10 years that it will essentially be two different planets. 6 figure GDP per capita, 30 times higher GDP per capita.

also note the US is being passed up, per capita anyway, by canada and australia, and perhaps soon by japan and germany, and that's sans oil. meanwhile the UK is in decline and falling behind, and that's with their big north sea oil fields.

edgy gurl said...

A Tale of Two Verbs

I find your language debate unenlightening and suspect.

From the dictionary definition of the verbs:

ameliorate

verb (trans.

make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better : the reform did much to ameliorate living standards.

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: alteration of meliorate , influenced by French améliorer, from meilleur ‘better.’

vs

meliorate

verb formal

another term for Ameliorate

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from late Latin meliorat- ‘improved,’ from the verb meliorare, based on melior ‘better.’

I'd say you're dealing with a supposed meaning difference between a word in common usage that was brought into the English language from French at a later date and a version of the word borrowed from Latin at an earlier date, one that has almost become obsolete.

You're basically comparing similar words brought into English from two different languages not two forms of a Latin word. Then you're acting as if a French nuance to their version of the Latin "meliorate" exists. I doubt it. "Sailer" used the more common form of the word in English which is likely the best way to decide which form belongs in his title.

Anonymous said...

"'Sailer' used the more common form of the word in English which is likely the best way to decide which form belongs in his title."

And you completely missed that he was riffing on the philosophical school of Meliorism, which already exists.

Geez, these commenters can't even Google, much less reason independently.

Anonymous said...

Too much attention has been given to IQ in regards to race, and not enough to IQ in regards to class

Not enough attention has been given to IQ at the individual level.

JKB said...

Jody,

I think you are wrong about a number of things.

First, Switzerland and Luxembourg are anomalies. Both have tiny populations and are tax havens for the super-rich in Europe.

Secondly, as for the other Western nations, GDP is a flawed indicator because it does not account for debt. For example, the US has a per capita income of US$ 47,000 but debt is 550 percent of GDP (this includes credit market debt + sovereign and municipal debt + personal consumer debt). Compared to this China's GDP is much less but it is sitting on Forex reserves of US$ 3 Trillion plus and very little sovereign or personal debt. If China spent the US$ 3 trillion of reserves quickly, the US economy would be ruined in an orgy of inflation.

Canada and Australia are also anomalies because of the commodities boom. Australia is actually sitting on a ticking time bomb with a massive housing bubble. Canada never had a correction in its housing market either and the same could happen there. Canada and Australia are both heavily dependent on China buying commodities. If China has a recession, both are ruined.

The debt problem is also awful in Europe. Much of the so-called "growth" in the West in the last decade has occurred because the West has borrowed gigantic sums of money from the East (mainly China but also from Japan, Singapore, Korea and the rest) and from oil producers like Russia, Qatar, Norway and Saudi Arabia. As another example of how stupid the GDP number is, Greece has a per capita GDP of US$ 28k whereas Turkey has a per capita GDP of US$ 14K. Yet anyone who has actually been to both countries would regard these numbers as rubbish. Greece's GDP has been pumped up by massive borrowing from Germany and northern Europe whereas it actually produces nothing. Turkey has not borrowed like Greece but has turned itself into a manufacturing hub with low unemployment.

If you do not believe me, watch this documentary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWtrbGWixRQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LZozsLYHD4&feature=related

If you think the West will pull away at the same rate as the last decade, I think you have got it totally wrong. Debt de-leveraging will haemorrhage the West and ruin its economies. You may even see outright defaults on sovereign debts - Britain is very likely to default.

In the next decade, a number of East Asian countries will catch up with Europe and North America due to better a better work ethic/practices and due to the fact that they do not have ridiculously overburdened welfare states and dumb immigration policies. Medicare alone has the capacity to ruin America in a decade or so.

You can disagree with the above if you want. Just check back in ten years to find out if this turned out to be right.