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“7 Reasons Why The Concept Of IQ Test Is Flawed”: Yet Another IQ denialist Refutation

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

Goodreads

1600 words

Yet another article from the camp of the IQ denialists that “IQ tests are flawed“. The past 100 years in psychometrics say otherwise. If IQ tests were so flawed, then it wouldn’t be illegal for employers to administer IQ tests to their applicants. If IQ tests were so flawed, then the Army and other branches of the US military wouldn’t use the ASVAB, and other similar tests like it, to see where to put people who join the military.

1. Criticism by Prof. Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard

Stephen Jay Gould, an evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and a historian of science, had spent a considerable amount of time as a professor at Harvard, denied the accuracy of IQ test in his book, The Mismeasure of Man (1981). According to the arguments put forward by Gould, the human intelligence is not just a single entity which could be measured in terms of mathematical number or be graded according to score.

It’s 2016, and people are STILL citing Steven Jay Gould? Yes, he may have denied the accuracy of IQ tests in his book The Mismeasure of Man, but he put forth ideas that Rushton refuted, and Jensen did as well. He attempted to assassinate the character of Samuel Morton saying that Morton fudged the data on his skull collection (which took 30  years to be officially debunked). Rushton refuted that point in his paper I linked above, 15  years before Lewis et al showed that Gould did show huge biases when remeasuring Morton’s skull collection (biased by his political views [Marxism]). By the time of Morton’s death, 867 skulls were collected. This quote says it all, really:

Having never bothered to check Morton’s measurements, Gould allowed his own perception—that Morton was a racist and therefore a suspect scientist—to influence his own analysis of Morton’s science! (emphasis mine)


2. Various factors may affect the performance in the test

An IQ test measures the intelligence of a person based on the result of the performance of the person on a particular day. The very next, the person may not perform well and there could be various reasons behind it such as emotional or health conditions or even the atmosphere of the test room.

Also, a person who is not educated will not be able to take the test the same way as an educated person.

Seeing as the correlation for retakes on IQ tests is .86, this claim is unfounded.

Let’s take a look at the link this person linked:

Socioeconomic status (SES)

Children who are raised in poverty are severely limited in their intellectual potential by their environment (Turkheimer, Haley, Waldron, D’Onofrio, & Gottesman, 2003).

IQ is the cause for SES.

Turkheimer did find gene x environment interactions that made genetic influences weaker and shared environment stronger for those from poorer homes in comparison to those from more affluent homes. Though most studies show no interaction effects, or interactions vary significantly. Rushton and Jensen have this to say about it:

The Turkheimer et al. study that Nisbett cites is an outlier. In Britain, the exact opposite of Turkheimer’s result was found in over 2,000 pairs of 4-year-old twins (N = 4,446 children), with greater heritability observed in high-risk environments. A re-analysis of the Hawaii Family Study of Cognition also found contrary results to Turkeimer’s. Nagoshi and Johnson found no reduction in the relationship between parental cognitive ability and offspring performance in families of lower as opposed to upper levels of socioeconomic status. In the 1,349 families they studied, the relationship remained the same across tests, ethnicity, and sex of offspring. (emphasis mine)

Heritabilities are the same, within or between race and ethnicity.

Ethnicity

Opponents of this view argue that scores on intelligence tests can be influenced by many nonintellectual factors, such as years of schooling, SES, and familiarity with the culture for whom the test was written. Researchers have in fact shown that when any one of these factors is manipulated, IQ changes (Grissmer, Williamson, Kirby, & Berends, 1998).

Not at all. How are years of schooling a nonintellectual factor? “Familiarity with the culture for whom the test was written” is not true. Hundreds of years of IQ testing attest to this. SES, well yes. On average if you test those from high SES homes, they will have higher IQs than those from lower SES homes as IQ is one of the best predictors of whether or not you’ll be high or low SES.

3. There is no such thing as a fixed IQ – the thing about Flynn Effect

Even if the results of an IQ test are considered as a means to measure a person’s intelligence, the IQ may not remain the same throughout his life. With some practice, the same person who has scored poorly now can score really well the next time he or she appears for the test.

However, the “standardized score” does consider the expected amount of improvement over time and discounts it in the next attempt.

Of course “IQ may not remain the same throughout his life”. Seeing as how at age 5, genetics accounts for only 22 percent of the variance, 40 percent at age 7 and 82 percent at age 18 (many more studies have shown heritabilities to be as high as .9 at adulthood).

The “Flynn Effect” does not occur on g and is unrelated to race differences.

“With some practice”, that will take away the loadings, effectively making the IQ test useless because it doesn’t test true general intelligence.

4. Predicting the success of person on the basis of the IQ Test

Several institutions use the IQ test as a tool to gauge the capabilities of a student and how he or she is going to do later in life. However, in reality, an IQ test is not a very good indicator of vocational and socioeconomic success.

IQ is a great predictor of socioeconomic success. The correlation between IQ and monetary attainment is .33. With that much variation, of course you’ll have those who have low IQs who are rich and those with high IQs who are poor. But as I alluded to earlier, if IQ tests weren’t a good indicator of vocational success, the US government wouldn’t have made it illegal to test perspective employees for IQ, as well as the US military screening perspective soldiers for IQ to put them in the right job based on their IQ (the first Army aptitude tests were developed from IQ tests). Such a bad indicator, right?

5. The subjects are not enough to measure one’s intelligence

According to The University of South Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Studies, IQ tests fails to include many subjects which are crucial aspects of intelligence in a human being.

While subjects like mathematicians, comprehension, series and limits are important, an individual’s intelligence depends largely on creativity, social skills, and mechanics which are not included in the test.

These are personality traits.

6. It is detrimental to one’s growth

Not only is the test based on arbitrary standards, but representing the entire magnitude of a person’s intelligence into just a number is too simplistic. In many cases, assigning a number to a person’s intelligence can limit his or her aspirations.

I wouldn’t say that it’s “detrimental to one’s growth”, but there is a reason why children are never told their IQ score. No, the number is not “too simplistic”. IQ correlates with many positives as well as many negatives. Their own IQ limits their aspirations, telling them the truth doesn’t hurt them.

7. The role of cultural bias

Apparently, the IQ test is designed in a manner that  emphasizes on skills that are important to certain societies. For instance, Australian Aboriginal children, raised in the deserts scored well on a test meant to assess visual memory but not in the IQ test.

Visual memory is more important for these people than anything else as they need to find their ways through the desert.

Galton first measured the IQs of Australian Aborigines in 1869, estimated at 68.8. Even if there was a “cultural bias” with the tests, the slow reaction times of Aborigines shows that they have lower IQ, as IQ and reaction time correlate highly, as well as showing the same 3-way racial pattern. (pg 244-245)

Australian Aborigines actually have a higher visio-spatial IQ than do Europeans. (Lynn, 2006, pg 72) Yes that’s how it evolved, to navigate the desert. The same with the Yup’ik children who had an extremely good memory to be able to navigate their surroundings. The same also holds true for the Eskimos as well as the Inuit. Perfectly natural, seeing the conditions all 3 groups evolved in.

The intelligence quotient test is based on arbitrary standards set by man and is not written in stone.

Sure it’s “set by man”, but sorry to burst your bubble, it pretty much is written in stone, save a lack of good nutrition along with an increase of disease and parasitic load and isolation, those are some of the only variables that can decrease intelligence.

When are people going to learn not to cite people who’s legacies have been tarnished to get their biases out, only to have them refuted 30 years later? While in debates about Gould and Morton, people have said to me “Gould isn’t here to defend himself, stop defaming him”. Oh, you mean like how Gould attempted to assassinate Samuel Morton’s character saying he fudged the data on his skull collection?

IQ tests are not biased. If people say they are, they’re either uneducated on the matter or have political as well as personal biases (see Gould and Lewontin) to depress the truth about IQ, IQ tests and what they mean for our societies as a whole.

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2 Comments

  1. […] I have covered here before, people will do anything they can to deny the validity of IQ tests. However, their explanations cut […]

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  2. […] a magnitude of the black-white difference in IQ is genetic in origin. IQ tests are also not “flawed” or “biased“, as all of the variables that continually get brought up have been […]

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