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May 24, 2004


Abiola Lapite

One thing to note about the Irish scores is that they seem to have been converging with the UK average over time. If my memory serves me correctly, Thomas Sowell indicated that the assessed gap between people of Irish and British extraction earlier in the 20th century was on the same order as that between black and white Americans today.

Another thing that Messrs. Lynn and Vanhanen seem completely unable to grasp is the possibility that, on the (extremely dubious) assumption that their data really is worth a damn (independent reviews of at least 3 of the studies they rely on indicate otherwise), it could well be that they've gotten cause and effect backwards, i.e, that as ethnic groups or countries become wealthier, their populations are better able to educate their children and expose them to a broader range of stimuli, which transfers into higher IQ scores.

One particularly telling statistic proffered by Lynn and Vanhanen, and which one would think ought to have given them cause for headscratching, is that Ashkenazi IQ in Israel is supposedly 100, i.e, statistically no different from what it is for the average citizen of the UK or the USA, and noticeably lower than it is for American Ashkenazim. If the Ashkenazim were genetically superendowed, one would be hard-pressed to explain such a discrepancy, but it all falls into place when we reverse the arrow of causality - Israeli Jews of any origin are poorer than their American counterparts, and their measured IQs reflect this reality. Following through with this idea, we should also expect that if in the future we choose to examine today's youngest cohort of Irish, we will either see no IQ difference between them and their British counterparts, or, if we do see one, it will probably be (slightly) to the advantage of the Irish.

Of course, it's easy to take this hypothesis too far as well, and I'm not about to suggest that the children of Liechtenstein ought to be the brightest in the world, but I do think that Wealth->IQ has far more explanatory power than the reverse. It's telling that Burakumin, Japanese hereditary outcasts, also show an IQ performance gap with the main population, but that this disappears when the descendants of both groups living in foreign regions like Hawaii are assessed.

Abiola Lapite

Hash: SHA1

Finally, with respect to the fixation on IQ, I have to say that I find your statement that "those who are obsessed by IQ may have a lower IQ than those who aren't" to be substantially correct. I'd guess that the interest in this sort of thing follows a sort of skewed Gaussian, peaking just around that part of the IQ range where Mensa membership seems both achievable and an exciting prospect.

I've met some *incredibly* brilliant people over the years while studying mathematics, and not a single one of them was the sort to obsess over his or her IQ score. It's the sort of thing that people who have little in the way of tangible achievements or recognizable talents like to invest their esteem in; Carol Vorderman and Marilyn vos Savant are hardly the ideal poster children for IQ as an indicator of the ability to make lasting intellectual contributions.

NB - In case you're wondering, the reason I didn't sign my previous comment was simply because I forgot! There's an irony in there, seeing as I've only recently been fulminating on the importance of signed comments. In any case, the IP address of the previous comment should be the same as that of this one, which *is* signed.
Version: GnuPG v1.2.4 (MingW32) - GPGshell v3.10
Comment: My Public Key is at the following URL:
Comment: http://www.alapite.net/pgp/AbiolaLapite.txt


Frank McGahon

Don't worry, I figured it was you and not the shadow "Abiola Lapite"!

Lynn's refusal to consider that he has got cause and effect bass-ackwards is really the most damning. If he did consider it, it opens up the possibility that IQ is a lot more malleable than the theory allows. If a prosperous country is able to educate its children up to a better IQ score -this would also be consistent with the Flynn effct - it certainly weakens, if not fatally undermines, the case for IQ as a fixed genetic inheritance. That he chooses the opposite explanation - prosperity is an effect, rather than a cause - apart from requiring him to ignore or discount the observable conditions for prosperity (free markets etc.) belies his claim to any kind of scientific credibility.

Conor Griffin

On a much more mundane level, I remember friends of mine in the University of Ulster, who were studying 1st year Psychology, pleading with me to come along to hear their "mad" Professor Lynn. From my attendance at one double lecture of his in 1990, it was definitely a mastrerclass in Eugenics 101. My vague memories of it now remind me of an small man, reminiscent of Alan Clark, discussing cranial measurements a la Montgomery C. Burns "Its not rocket science Smithers, its brain surgery"

Peter Nolan

"Proof that brains aren't everything..."


emmet silverman

"The level of fixation on IQ is in inverse proportion to IQ".

Not really. Look at Locke and Schopenhauer. On the other hand, Kant wasn't very interested in the topic of human differences. Not that I hold any brief for Lynn and Vanhanen. Jensen, however, I will defend.

Frank McGahon

Emmet, the type of people I have in mind are the dullards who infest Gene Expression's comments section who tend to display an appalling grasp of logic

Magnus from Norway

"The level of fixation on IQ is in inverse proportion to IQ".

Not that many bright people on this forum then, I take it?

IQ, where it comes from and differences between groups and between societies; I don't see why people participating in a discussion on this topic would have any less IQ than people who are indifferent. And for the people here giving anecdotes as proof to this claim - come on!!! You met these people in college? Did you learn anything about causality and inferring from small samples to universal principles at this college? What about the vast amount of historcal data conflicting this hypothesis? Ever read Nietzsche? A Newton, DaVinci or Wagner biography? Ever heard of elitist societies? Mensa? Do you think people(some of who I know) pay to take a test just to get a diploma proving high IQ if they were indifferent? - certainly not. And you most certainly will find people to the far right on the Gauss curve who ARE indifferent. But I am hypothesizing that a correlation(I realize that(correlation) is what we are talking about) will be insignificant, but have a minor tendancy to a positive correlation between IQ and IQ-"obsession".

"Scandinavia's "smartest" individual, Jola Sigmond(IQ192), writes a column on IQ in a newspaper - IQ-obsession is his job."


What the comments fail to take into account is that in the past the intelligent Irish (mostly) emigrated. Not now. Eysenck in his work on IQ points out this discrepancy between the Irish abroad and at home. For the first time since the early 19th century, when Ireland´s population was half that of England, emigration is being reversed.

Certainly, 16th century texts on the Irish (e.g Spencer) give a completely different view on Irish abilities than that held in more recent times.

Frank McGahon

What the comments fail to take into account is that in the past the intelligent Irish (mostly) emigrated

Says who? It would be just as easy to make the opposite case. For example: the navvies who built most of Britain weren't hired or known for their intellectual contributions.

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