Clear Language, Clear Mind

October 21, 2014

Meisenberg’s new book chapter on intelligence, economics and other stuff

G.M. IQ & Economic growth

I noted down some comments while reading it.

In Table 1, Dominican birth cohort is reversed.


“0.70 and 0.80 in world-wide country samples. Figure 1 gives an impression of

this relationship.”


Figure 1 shows regional IQs, not GDP relationships.

“We still depend on these descriptive methods of quantitative genetics because

only a small proportion of individual variation in general intelligence and

school achievement can be explained by known genetic polymorphisms (e.g.,

Piffer, 2013a,b; Rietveld et al, 2013).”


We don’t. Modern BG studies can confirm A^2 estimates directly from the genes.


Davies, G., Tenesa, A., Payton, A., Yang, J., Harris, S. E., Liewald, D., … & Deary, I. J. (2011). Genome-wide association studies establish that human intelligence is highly heritable and polygenic. Molecular psychiatry, 16(10), 996-1005.

Marioni, R. E., Davies, G., Hayward, C., Liewald, D., Kerr, S. M., Campbell, A., … & Deary, I. J. (2014). Molecular genetic contributions to socioeconomic status and intelligence. Intelligence, 44, 26-32.

Results are fairly low tho, in the 20’s, presumably due to non-additive heritability and rarer genes.


“Even in modern societies, the heritability of

intelligence tends to be higher for children from higher socioeconomic status

(SES) families (Turkheimer et al, 2003; cf. Nagoshi and Johnson, 2005; van

der Sluis et al, 2008). Where this is observed, most likely environmental

conditions are of similar high quality for most high-SES children but are more

variable for low-SES children. “


Or maybe not. There are also big studies that don’t find this interaction effect.


“Schooling has

only a marginal effect on growth when intelligence is included, consistent with

earlier results by Weede & Kämpf (2002) and Ram (2007).”

In the regression model of all countries, schooling has a larger beta than IQ does (.158 and .125). But these appear to be unstandardized values, so they are not readily comparable.

“Also, earlier studies that took account of

earnings and cognitive test scores of migrants in the host country or IQs in

wealthy oil countries have concluded that there is a substantial causal effect of

IQ on earnings and productivity (Christainsen, 2013; Jones & Schneider,



National IQs were also found to predict migrant income, as well as most other socioeconomic traits, in Denmark and Norway (and Finland and the Netherland).

Kirkegaard, E. O. W. (2014). Crime, income, educational attainment and employment among immigrant groups in Norway and Finland. Open Differential Psychology.

Kirkegaard, E. O. W., & Fuerst, J. (2014). Educational attainment, income, use of social benefits, crime rate and the general socioeconomic factor among 71 immigrant groups in Denmark. Open Differential Psychology.



Figures 3 A-C are of too low quality.



“Allocation of capital resources has been an

element of classical growth theory (Solow, 1956). Human capital theory

emphasizes that individuals with higher intelligence tend to have lower

impulsivity and lower time preference (Shamosh & Gray, 2008). This is

predicted to lead to higher savings rates and greater resource allocation to

investment relative to consumption in countries with higher average



Time preference data for 45 countries are given by:

Wang, M., Rieger, M. O., & Hens, T. (2011). How time preferences differ: evidence from 45 countries.

They are in the megadataset from version 1.7f

Correlations among some variables of interest:

             SlowTimePref   IQ lgGDP
SlowTimePref         1.00         0.45         0.48 0.57  0.64         0.45         1.00         0.89 0.55  0.59         0.48         0.89         1.00 0.65  0.66
IQ                   0.57         0.55         0.65 1.00  0.72
lgGDP                0.64         0.59         0.66 0.72  1.00

             SlowTimePref  IQ lgGDP
SlowTimePref          273           32           12  45    40           32          273           20  68    58           12           20          273  23    20
IQ                     45           68           23 273   169
lgGDP                  40           58           20 169   273

So time prefs predict income in DK and NO only slightly worse than national IQs or lgGDP.



“Another possible mediator of intelligence effects that is difficult to

measure at the country level is the willingness and ability to cooperate. A

review by Jones (2008) shows that cooperativeness, measured in the Prisoner‟s

dilemma game, is positively related to intelligence. This correlate of

intelligence may explain some of the relationship of intelligence with

governance. Other likely mediators of the intelligence effect include less red

tape and restrictions on economic activities (“economic freedom”), higher

savings and/or investment, and technology adoption in developing countries.”


There are data for IQ and trust too. Presumably trust is closely related to willingness to cooperate.

Carl, N. (2014). Does intelligence explain the association between generalized trust and economic development? Intelligence, 47, 83–92. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2014.08.008



“There is no psychometric evidence for rising intelligence before that time

because IQ tests were introduced only during the first decade of the 20th

century, but literacy rates were rising steadily after the end of the Middle Age

in all European countries for which we have evidence (Mitch, 1992; Stone,

1969), and the number of books printed per capita kept rising (Baten & van

Zanden, 2008).”


There’s also age heaping scores which are a crude measure of numeracy. AH scores for 1800 to 1970 are in the megadataset. They have been going up for centuries too just like literacy scores. See:

A’Hearn, B., Baten, J., & Crayen, D. (2009). Quantifying quantitative literacy: Age heaping and the history of human capital. The Journal of Economic History, 69(03), 783–808.



“Why did this spiral of economic and cognitive growth take off in Europe

rather than somewhere else, and why did it not happen earlier, for example in

classical Athens or the Roman Empire? One part of the answer is that this

process can start only when technologies are already in place to translate rising

economic output into rising intelligence. The minimal requirements are a

writing system that is simple enough to be learned by everyone without undue

effort, and a means to produce and disseminate written materials: paper, and

the printing press. The first requirement had been present in Europe and the

Middle East (but not China) since antiquity, and the second was in place in

Europe from the 15thcentury. The Arabs had learned both paper-making and

printing from the Chinese in the 13thcentury (Carter, 1955), but showed little

interest in books. Their civilization was entering into terminal decline at about

that time (Huff, 1993). “


Are there no FLynn effects in China? They still have a difficult writing system.


“Most important is that Flynn effect gains have been decelerating in recent

years. Recent losses (anti-Flynn effects) were noted in Britain, Denmark,

Norway and Finland. Results for the Scandinavian countries are based on

comprehensive IQ testing of military conscripts aged 18-19. Evidence for

losses among British teenagers is derived from the Raven test (Flynn, 2009)

and Piagetian tests (Shayer & Ginsburg, 2009). These observations suggest

that for cohorts born after about 1980, the Flynn effect is ending or has ended

in many and perhaps most of the economically most advanced countries.

Messages from the United States are mixed, with some studies reporting

continuing gains (Flynn, 2012) and others no change (Beaujean & Osterlind,



These are confounded with immigration of low-g migrants however. Maybe the FLynn effect is still there, just being masked by dysgenics + low-g immigration.



“The unsustainability of this situation is obvious. Estimating that one third

of the present IQ differences between countries can be attributed to genetics,

and adding this to the consequences of dysgenic fertility within countries,

leaves us with a genetic decline of between 1 and 2 IQ points per generation

for the entire world population. This decline is still more than offset by Flynn

effects in less developed countries, and the average IQ of the world‟s

population is still rising. This phase of history will end when today‟s

developing countries reach the end of the Flynn effect. “Peak IQ” can

reasonably be expected in cohorts born around the mid-21stcentury. The

assumptions of the peak IQ prediction are that (1) Flynn effects are limited by

genetic endowments, (2) some countries are approaching their genetic limits

already, and others will fiollow, and (3) today‟s patterns of differential fertility

favoring the less intelligent will persist into the foreseeable future. “


It is possible that embryo selection for higher g will kick in and change this.

Shulman, C., & Bostrom, N. (2014). Embryo Selection for Cognitive Enhancement: Curiosity or Game-changer? Global Policy, 5(1), 85–92. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12123



“Fertility differentials between countries lead to replacement migration: the

movement of people from high-fertility countries to low-fertility countries,

with gradual replacement of the native populations in the low-fertility

countries (Coleman, 2002). The economic consequences depend on the

quality of the migrants and their descendants. Educational, cognitive and

economic outcomes of migrants are influenced heavily by prevailing

educational, cognitive and economic levels in the country of origin (Carabaña,

2011; Kirkegaard, 2013; Levels & Dronkers, 2008), and by the selectivity of

migration. Brain drain from poor to prosperous countries is extensive already,

for example among scientists (Franzoni, Scellato & Stephan, 2012; Hunter,

Oswald & Charlton, 2009). “


There are quite a few more papers on the spatial transferability hypothesis. I have 5 papers on this alone in ODP:

But there’s also yet unpublished data for crime in Netherlands and more crime data for Norway. Papers based off these data are on their way.


August 14, 2014

Comment on CPGGrey’s new video on the future of automatization

Posted on reddit.


This is your best film yet, and that says something.

For automatization for clinical decisions, it has been known for decades that simple algorithms are better than humans. This has so far not been put to much practice, but it will eventually. See review article: Grove, W. M., Zald, D. H., Lebow, B. S., Snitz, B. E., & Nelson, C. (2000). Clinical versus mechanical prediction: a meta-analysis.[1] Psychological assessment, 12(1), 19.

There is only one temporary solution for this problem. It is to make humans smarter. I say temporary because these new smarter humans will quickly make robots even smarter and so they can replace even the new smarter humans.

How to make humans more intelligent? The only effective way to do that is to use applied human genetics aka. eugenics. This is because general intelligence (g-factor) is about 80% heritable in adults (and pretty much everything else is also moderately to highly heritable). There are two things we must do: 1) Find the genes for g. This effort is underway and we have found a few SNPs so far.[1-2] It is estimated that there are about 1k-10k genes for g. 2) Find out how to apply this genetic knowledge in practice to make both existing humans and the new ones smarter. The first effective technology for this is embryo selection[2] . Perhaps CRISPR[3] can work for existing humans.

  1. Rietveld, C.A., Medland, S.E., Derringer, J., Yang, K., Esko, T., et al. (2013). GWAS of 126,559 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with educational attainment. Science 340: 1467-1471.
  2. Ward, M.E., McMahon, G., St Pourcain, B., Evans, D.M., Rietveld, C.A., et al. (2014) Genetic Variation Associated with Differential Educational Attainment in Adults Has Anticipated Associations with School Performance in Children. PLoS ONE 9(7): e100248. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100248

March 1, 2014

“Why is humankind doomed without eugenics?” #2

Filed under: Differential psychology/psychometrics — Tags: , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 23:13

From reddit

Zorander22 writes:

1) I would wager a guess that most people are capable of far more than they’re current employment situations might indicate. The idea that machines are taking over increasingly complex tasks is an important one… which, depending on how wealth gets distributed, could ensure an easy future for many people, rather than spelling the doom of humanity. If machines and computers end up being able to do increasingly complex tasks without limit, it seems like they would soon outstrip people, even with substantial eugenics programs or genetic engineering in place.

2) People are still under selection processes. Many of these likely happen before birth (wombs and women may have built-in systems to stop supporting fetuses if there are signs there may be serious genetic problems). People are still dying in a non-random manner… and moreover, people are having children in a non-random matter, so sexual selection may play an important role. While there may be trends regarding intelligence and birth rates, it is likely that there are many other factors influencing birth rates and the success of offspring. Low intelligence may increase birth rates through poor implementation of birth control methods or planning, but there could be other hidden effects with high intelligence leading to more resources available for raising more children. As birth control gets easier to implement, you might soon see more intelligent people having more kids on average than less intelligent people.

What we are undergoing right now is an expansion in the variability within our gene pool. We have a huge number of organisms with new mutations cropping up. Far from being a bad thing, this variability is one of the key ingredients for evolution to take place – evolution doesn’t happen consistently throughout time, it often happens in response to changed environmental factors. For some organisms to have better success due to a changing environment, there needs to be a large amount of variability within the population, so that there are lots of phenotypes expressed, some of which will perform better than others. This increase in our genetic variability will serve us well if there’s ever a dramatic change in our environment.

Deleetdk writes:

I would wager a guess that most people are capable of far more than they’re current employment situations might indicate.

No. This is a core belief of educational romanticism which Charles Murray talks about[1] .

More yes, not “far more”. There are limits. The primary area, I think, where talent is not using used is with the gifted children. There is an extreme lack of gifted programs in many countries. Khan Academy is changing this. The future is bright in this area. :)

The idea that machines are taking over increasingly complex tasks is an important one… which, depending on how wealth gets distributed, could ensure an easy future for many people, rather than spelling the doom of humanity.

Let’s say we’re 30 years into the future and no eugenics has been used for g. Now, maybe 30% of the working age population is leeching (e.g. via a basic income policy[2] ), which raises taxes further for the working part of the population. Keep also in mind that people are having fewer children, so the non-working age population is also much larger (subreplacement fertility[3] is a huge economic problem in the near future). Let’s say that in total 30% of the population is working, while the rest is leeching. Why would the workers pay so much of their income? Keep in mind that crypto-currencies will make it more or less impossible to effectively force them if they don’t want to. Do you think this is a bright future? I don’t. One solution would be artificial wombs[4] , but that technology might not be ready yet by then. I don’t know.

If machines and computers end up being able to do increasingly complex tasks without limit, it seems like they would soon outstrip people, even with substantial eugenics programs or genetic engineering in place.

Yes, nonbiological computers will eventually outperform biological computers no matter how much we use eugenics for g. My idea is that we need to get MUCH smarter before allowing this to happen. I think we can make it work, but the world population needs to improve, say, 5 SD in g first.

People are still under selection processes. Many of these likely happen before birth (wombs and women may have built-in systems to stop supporting fetuses if there are signs there may be serious genetic problems). People are still dying in a non-random manner…

Yes, but this selection force is very weak compared to the constant influx of de novo mutations. Welfare systems without eugenics are unstable, since they lead directly to dysgenics that will sooner or later make the welfare system economically untenable.

people are having children in a non-random matter, so sexual selection may play an important role.

I agree. This selection force is likely to be stronger in the future due to increased assortative mating from online dating like OKCupid[5] (this is an interesting research question: do people who met over netdating show stronger assortative mating than those who didn’t? AFAIK, no one knows!). This might itself increase dysgenics for g though. It depends on how fertility is a function of g. If the effect is multiplicative rather than additive, then bright people will have a very low fertility indeed. I currently don’t know the answer to this question.

While there may be trends regarding intelligence and birth rates, it is likely that there are many other factors influencing birth rates and the success of offspring. Low intelligence may increase birth rates through poor implementation of birth control methods or planning, but there could be other hidden effects with high intelligence leading to more resources available for raising more children. As birth control gets easier to implement, you might soon see more intelligent people having more kids on average than less intelligent people.

No. The trend has been going for 100 years or more. This is no change in the future for this trend. See: Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (Richard Lynn)[6] . PDF[7] .

What we are undergoing right now is an expansion in the variability within our gene pool. We have a huge number of organisms with new mutations cropping up. Far from being a bad thing, this variability is one of the key ingredients for evolution to take place – evolution doesn’t happen consistently throughout time, it often happens in response to changed environmental factors. For some organisms to have better success due to a changing environment, there needs to be a large amount of variability within the population, so that there are lots of phenotypes expressed, some of which will perform better than others. This increase in our genetic variability will serve us well if there’s ever a dramatic change in our environment.

Agreed about the variation (due to increased assortative mating which increases variation). Some evolution is more or less constant, selection for polygenic traits (height, g, weight, personality, etc.) is probably more or less constant and not ‘punctuated’ (in Gouldian sense).

There is plenty of variation currently in the human gene pools for evolution of more g. See also Steve Hsu on genetics of g[8] .

February 28, 2014

“Why is humankind doomed without eugenics?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 06:25

From Reddit.

Two reasons.

1) Technological unemployment. This is going fast right now. Already a large part of the population is useless and can only leech on society economically. This percent is due to increase quickly soon when automated cars become mainstream which will shortly make most drivers workless. There are thousands of people who cannot handle complex work, and the simple work is going away.

See e.g.:, Figure 1.6.

2) Dysgenics. First off, the less intelligent are having more children boosting the problem with the above. But second, the contant de novo mutations are filling up in the human population genome. There is almost no natural selection to sort it away. This means that over time humans will become weak with a high rate of various genetic diseases.

The only future is with eugenics, so they will have to overcome their guilt by association fallacious reasoning[3] with Nazism, just as they did for vegetarianism and anti-smoking (Hitler was a vegetarian and the Nazis were the first to introduce anti-smoking campaigns).


January 17, 2014

Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (1996)

Filed under: Differential psychology/psychometrics,Political science,Sociology — Tags: , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 15:36

Interesting small book that casts light on the use of sterilizations in nordic countries. It shows quite clearly that eugenics has it origin in collectivist and socialist thinking and was supported by most parties in the 20-40s. Clearly not just something the nazis did (and did wrong).


In Sweden, however, th e au th o rities advocated p ersu asio n , n o t force. The

Swedish sterilization p rogram contained several procedures by which involun­

tary sterilization was carried out. The legally incompetent, to begin with, could

be subjected to sterilization without their consent according to the 1934 and

1941 laws. How was this category defined? According to instructions circulated

by the Board of Health in 1947, a person should be able to understand “the

meaning and the consequences” of the operation to be declared legally compe­

tent. But: “Such an understanding is n o t at hand only because he knows that he

cannot have a child after a sterilization; it must furtherm ore be required that

he to some extent comprehends the importance o f sterilization for himself and

for society.” As to the mentally retarded, legal incompetence was said to prevail

if he or she could be com pared intellectually with a person twelve years old or



Mental age of 12 seems to accord nicely with modern deviation based definitions. 12/16=.75 or 12/18=.67. Normalt siger man at <70 IQ er retarderet. Det samme gælder i Danmark, jf.



Mjoen condemned this lenient attitude toward alcohol as an irresponsible

handling o f scientific results by a “spectacle-wise” academic. M ohr was guilty

o f neglecting the risk involved by the uncertainty o f the results, argued Mjoen.

He admitted that no effects on the hereditary material had been proven. But

the lack o f scientific p ro o f in no way justified the lack o f action. “We have every

reason to believe that alcohol is a much more serious enemy for the family, the

people and the race than one has so far considered it to be!”42


The arg u m en t o f u nacceptable risk was often used by M joen to justify

eugenic measures. The risk incurred by not acting was so serious that it was

morally irresponsible n o t to take immediate action even on the basis o f quite

u n certain knowledge. He also justified steps against race crossing w ith the

same kind o f argument. He admitted uncertainty about the detrimental effects

and agreed that more knowledge must be sought, but in such a situation it was

safest to say, “ Until we have acquired sufficient knowledge be careful/”43


apparently another example of the irrational precautionary principle:

November 4, 2013

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, embryo slection

Filed under: Genetics / behavioral genetics,Medicine,Science — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 21:23
Kuliev, Anver, and Yury Verlinsky. “Preimplantation diagnosis: a realistic option for assisted reproduction and genetic practice.” Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology 17.2 (2005): 179-183.
Preimplantation diagnosis a realistic option for assisted reproduction and genetic practice
Purpose of review
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) allows genetically
disadvantaged couples to reproduce, while avoiding the
birth of children with targeted genetic disorders. By
ensuring unaffected pregnancies, PGD circumvents the
possible need and therefore risks of pregnancy termination.
This review will describe the current progress of PGD for
Mendelian and chromosomal disorders and its impact on
reproductive medicine.
Recent findings
Indications for PGD have expanded beyond those used in
prenatal diagnosis, which has also resulted in improved
access to HLA-compatible stem-cell transplantation for
siblings through preimplantation HLA typing. More than
1000 apparently healthy, unaffected children have been
born after PGD, suggesting its accuracy, reliability and
safety. PGD is currently the only hope for carriers of
balanced translocations. It also appears to be of special
value for avoiding age-related aneuploidies in in-vitro
fertilization patients who have a particularly poor prognosis
for a successful pregnancy; the accumulated experience of
thousands of PGD cycles strongly suggests that PGD can
improve clinical outcome for such patients.
PGD would particularly benefit poor prognosis in-vitro
fertilization patients and other at-risk couples by improving
reproductive outcomes and avoiding the birth of affected
Verlinsky, Yury, et al. “Over a decade of experience with preimplantation genetic diagnosis: a multicenter report.” Fertility and sterility 82.2 (2004): 292-294.
Over a decade of experience with preimplantation genetic diagnosis a multicenter report
Harper, Joyce C., and Sioban B. SenGupta. “Preimplantation genetic diagnosis: state of the art 2011.” Human genetics 131.2 (2012): 175-186.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis State of the ART 2011
I made this:

July 11, 2013

Review: Future Human Evolution: Eugenics in the Twenty-First Century (John Glad)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 01:19

Found here:

The homepage is really weird, but the book turned out to be… pretty good. At first I was not impressed, especially because he went into insufficient details with the g factor and stuff related to that. But really g factor or not, is somewhat unrelated to eugenics. It contains some interesting quotes too. Here’s two of them:

We do our utmost to check the process of elimination;
we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the
sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert
their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last
moment…. Thus the weak members of civilized socie-
ties propagate their kind. No one who has attended to
the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this
must be highly injurious to the race of man. (Darwin)

Democracy demands that all of its citizens begin the race even.
Egalitarianism insists that they all finish even.
Roger Price, “The Great Roob Revolution”

I recommend reading this book for its focus on eugenics history, and why it is not quite how we were told in Nazi Germany. There was a lot I didn’t know there. Richard Lynn’s 2001 book on the same topic is also worth reading. It is more dry, but goes more into detail about the methods.

Me? I still think we should employ population wide, state funded (to make sure the poor can do it too), non-coercive (because I don’t trust states to do this properly) methods using not sterilization, but embryo selection, selective abortion (more than we do now), germ-line genetic engineering.

May 1, 2013

Liberal eugenics and social stratification

Filed under: Multilogues,Sociology — Tags: — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 02:13

I have/had this conversation on OKCupid. It seemed shareworthy. I’m red, and the other person is blue.

Your profile mentions eugenics as an interest… is that from a pro or anti stance? Or neutral?

Pro, although not like how eugenics was practiced in Europe in the 30’s. Big supporter of liberal eugenics, with embryo selection being the most interesting current proposal if we don’t go straight to gene-therapy.

Hm, liberal eugenics. So you don’t see a problem with social stratification as the practical result? Or is my American capitalistic environment just influencing my thinking on that one?

There is already social stratification because of better genes among different groups. Indeed, this is the topic of The Bell Curve. :)

Of course, in the beginning this technology will be for the rich people, who will by that have even smarter+healthier children than they already have. The same is true for better schools. But such biotech falls quickly in price (say, logarithmic speeds cf. price of genome sequencing) and will soon benefit large parts of society, in the sense that people can have smarter and more healthy kids. But even when only the rich will get it, this will also benefit the rest, since society as a whole benefits from having smarter+more healthy people (to begin with, it will give society a larger pool of potential leaders).

In practice, one would start by expanding the battle against hereditary diseases for the simple reason that these are the easiest to find the genes for. For instance, screening for certain diseases during pregnancy is already widely practiced, e.g. Down’s syndrome. In Denmark 99% of women who are diagnosed as being pregnant with a Down’s syndrome fetus abort it. This has dramatically lowered the number of Down’s syndrome people in Denmark, thus saving parents from the hassle, and saving society (=everybody) from the economic disadvantage such a person is/would be.

We already know of many such genes for diseases/disease risks, while we don’t know of a single well-confirmed case for intelligence. We will find them in the next few decades. The reason they are hard to find is that there are probably 1000s of genes that affect intelligence, but a single gene has only a tiny effect (positive or negative), say 0.5 IQ. This means that one needs a huge sample to spot them from statistical noise (i.e. high powered studies).

Of course, USA is really fucked up in the relative wealth department. :) I particularly liked this video about that problem:

-Emil :)

I’m curious about your interpretation of “better genes” and exactly in what way they contribute to one’s social standing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your perspective sounds a bit deterministic if you’re convinced that the dominant influence on where you end up in the hierarchy is genetics, especially if your interpretation of “better genes” is centered around IQ (considering IQs in the very highest ranges are actually negatively correlated with success). It also sounds like you don’t believe environmental factors make much of a dent overall, am I correct?

Tangent: it seems you’re pretty focused on meritocracy, and while that’s a noble sentiment and a nice idea (like Marxist communism), it unfortunately doesn’t exist in the wild (also like Marxist communism). It’s been my observation that under the facade of well-meaning plans, every large community, social structure, organization, etc. is essentially based on a Hollywood mentality: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I’m not arrogant enough to assume that my own experience is representative of the entire range of experiences, but I have yet to find a self-proclaimed “meritocracy” that truly *was* that.

But back on the topic of social stratification, assuming we were able to influence the leadership potential of a given group, is it not true that when an individual or group acquires power they are unlikely to give that power up voluntarily? And will, generally speaking, restrict the ability of other individuals or groups to attain power as well?

And yes, the USA is fucked up in a lot of areas, but wealth is a pretty big one. Also, sorry if I seem a bit contentious, devil’s advocacy is just a beloved pastime of mine. And the better informed your conversation partner, the more fun it tends to be. I don’t need attribution, but if the anonymity was bothering you, my name’s ****** :)

With better genes, I just mean those that code for higher intelligence, health, and attractiveness. This is not quite what biologists mean by better genes, because they are talking about what fits with the environment. In that sense, genes for intelligence are bad genes, since there is selection for lower intelligence in most western countries (smarter people have fewer children). The movie Idiocracy is a description of what will happen in the far future unless we do something. :) I however, think that we definitely will do something to stop the dysgenic trend (as it is called).Not deterministic, stochastic/probabilistic. No one thinks that such things are deterministic (well, no serious scholar, fatalists of course do!), but the evidence is very strong that it is highly predictable, although not perfectly so.
As for social stratification, yes, since IQ-tests are the best measure of intelligence (=df pure g-factor), that is what I’m referring to. :) No, shared environment has no effect on adult intelligence, unless it’s an extremely bad environment (think really bad inner city black neighborhood). This was a surprise to researchers when they found it. It means that the usual sociological theories about it are all wrong. Perhaps needless to say, I think very lowly of sociology. A pity, since it’s an important field of study. Only the quality of the research is so low.As for environment overall, it accounts for about ~20% of the variance. But this is non-shared environment, not shared environment (like poverty). It is currently unknown what this mysterious 20% non-shared env. consists of. Presumably, it’s things like avoiding diseases in one’s childhood, avoiding head injury, having good friends/teachers in school.You seem to have been inflicted with the Malcolm Gladwell myth about high IQs. It is in fact wrong, higher intelligence is always better for success. We actually do have data for >120 (90th percentile, white population), and intelligence still makes a difference, in much the same way as below whatever hypothetical threshold.

See e.g.

You are wrong about it not existing in the wild. Many online communities are explicitly meritocratic (e.g. Mozilla). ;) Also, in a broader sense, our democracies are somewhat meritocratic. Politicians are generally well-educated compared to the population.

Perhaps you have not looked hard enough? ;) I spent some time researching the issue somewhat thoroughly on Google. There isn’t much academic written on the subject for some reason. Weird. However, China had clearly meritocratic policies for the selection of officials in the past. Cf. Wikipedia.

Social stratification, in theory, yes. And we also see some of that in practice. For instance, many democracies have a election threshold. The way it works is that any party that receives less than that amount of votes do not get into parliament, even if they ought to have a seat based on the math alone. This helps keeping newcomers out of the political system. It is an issue that surprisingly have not received any notable attention in the academic literature. I’m mentioning it because I did some research on that issue today. :)

Yes, I normally joke (in seriousness) that the US is the worst western country. It is not wrong. It is difficult to find a single thing the US does better than say, any north European country. Sad especially because the US is the dominant country in the world right now. Although that will change to China in the near future. Not sure that’s much better. :P

That was a long message. :P Let me know if you need sources for whatever. I have sources, it is just such a hassle to insert them into OKC posts. :P Especially, if one wants to keep it ‘somewhat’ casual (I always fail :D).

(I guess I could use end notes…)

Also hi ******.

I was actually aware of the data on the impact of environmental factors on IQ. I was addressing the fact that a very high IQ quite often leads to social maladjustment, and that the ability to operate effectively in social situations is a much greater predictor of success than intelligence alone. ( So to say that higher intelligence is “always” better for success as if there were a linear correlation between success and IQ is to leave out a relevant chunk of information that could potentially explain *why* instead of just *how*. Human relationships are essentially based on power dynamics, no? If success can be interpreted as the amount of power one wields in one’s social environment, then it makes sense that the scales would be tipped in the favor of the moderately intelligent, rather than the highly intelligent, who tend to relate poorly to the vast majority of people and thus have a weaker hold on them from a leadership standpoint.

I am not acquainted with Malcolm Gladwell’s myth, would you care to elaborate?

I will concede your point about online communities, though with no real interaction I’m not sure they qualify as actual “communities”. And the idea that education constitutes merit may not be misguided in the Danish educational system, but it certainly is in the American system. Our difference of opinion here is very likely due to our respective environments. American “democracy” is a dog-and-pony show. I’m sure everything is wonderful and lovely in Denmark though :)

Ya wonder why there isn’t any research on what’s keeping the little guys out of power, huh? Y’know, even scientists need funding…
(When in doubt, follow the money)

So your idea that the technology would diffuse to those outside the upper class is on shaky ground… the precedent set by other forms of technology doesn’t necessarily apply here, since the affordability of a smartphone isn’t nearly as threatening to the controlling interests as the power shift that would come as the result of making previously scarce abilities (that translate directly into leadership potential) common.

Yes, it is sad… it’s especially frustrating to live in the dominant country in the world and then go abroad to find that everyone and their mother has a firmly entrenched opinion on your politics :P But I agree, northern Europe is generally a much better place on a number of metrics.

I am certainly curious about your sources, on principle, and because I’m just curious and like to read. So anything you’d like to pass along is appreciated.

I’ll respond to this later. I read the message and was impressed. But I’m too drunk to respond intelligently right now. :p

… drunk at 2pm on a Thursday? That’s Danes for you, I suppose… :P

Today is a holy day (<a href=”” target=”_blank”>This one</a> ), so yesterday I went drinking. And I drank so much I woke up drunk after sleeping. That’s why. ;)

The physics friday bar (my favorite) has this system: Open on all fridays. Every work day followed by a non-work day counts as a friday. So this means that this week there are two fridays (wednesday and friday).

Also, trying to see if links in HTML works…

That’s a negative apparently. Would make for easier referencing…

Hi [NAME],


Much less drunk now. Hopefully more intelligent (phenotype at least!). :)


—- Intelligence and social maladjustment —-


I didn’t know that Terman studied social maladjustment in his famous study. So you managed to find something about intelligence that I didn’t know! That doesn’t happen often. :P I knew that high IQ societies have higher rates of social maladjustment, but that could be due to self-selection effects. After all, it seems that socially maladjusted people are exactly the kind of people who would want to be members of high IQ clubs. Socially well-adapted people would seem to have less need for them. No? I think I read a study of that before, but don’t recall the exact source.


As for success, I am referring to data like these: It’s from the same study as before, and it shows that IQ holds just fine as a predictor even within a >135 IQ group. It even seems to be slightly non-linear as in curving upwards, making intelligence even more important at the ultra high end.


Anyway, the most interesting thing about that study is how the five personality factors predict income. N very oddly has no effect at all, it seems. Very strange! The others are not too surprising, except for the slightly negative correlation with O. Perhaps that’s due to people with high O selecting less well paying jobs (say, professors), not because they do worse at the same kind of jobs. Testable, but I don’t know of any data.


The Gladwell myth is the idea that there is a ceiling effect for IQ/intelligence such that more doesn’t give any benefits. This makes little sense to intelligence researchers and is flatly contracted by empirical evidence as shown above: both income and number of publications and patents. Although apparently not in the humanities… I leave the inference to the reader. :)


But since you said you like sources, I tried to locate the precise whereabouts of the original claim. It is mentioned in many places, say, here: but I downloaded the book and took a look myself. Unfortunately, it isn’t on (deleted by copyright), but it’s on torrent.


The claim is in chapter 3, here:

But there’s a catch. The relationship between success and IQ works only up to a point. Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage.8


The endnote is:

The “IQ fundamentalist” Arthur Jensen put it thusly in his 1980 book Bias in Mental Testing (p. 113): “The four socially and personally most important threshold regions on the IQ scale are those that differentiate with high probability between persons who, because of their level of general mental ability, can or cannot attend a regular school (about IQ 50), can or cannot master the traditional subject matter of elementary school (about IQ 75), can or cannot succeed in the academic or college preparatory curriculum through high school (about IQ 105), can or cannot graduate from an accredited four-year college with grades that would qualify for admission to a professional or graduate school (about IQ 115). Beyond this, the IQ level becomes relatively unimportant in terms of ordinary occupational aspirations and criteria of success. That is not to say that there are not real differences between the intellectual capabilities represented by IQs of 115 and 150 or even between IQs of 150 and 180. But IQ differences in this upper part of the scale have far less personal implications than the thresholds just described and are generally of lesser importance for success in the popular sense than are certain traits of personality and character.””


Actually, his reference is to EXACTLY the book that I am currently reading! Not only is Gladwell’s claim not supported by the evidence cited, but it is also contradicted by the evidence from the Terman study. The reason the reference does not help his case is that Jensen is talking about thresholds for getting through education systems. It is true that once you get past, say, 130, college will be highly manageable, even a hard subject like physics. Jensen was not talking about other real life achievements such as patents or income or publications, etc. Obviously, with major advances in science, a higher intelligence than 120 is a great idea. Studies also show that, since Nobel price winners are usually way beyond 120.


But it seems that I was wrong to say that more intelligence is always better. It seems to be better for the things mentioned and things like them, but bad for social adjustment. It might not make them less happy though. The correlation between intelligence and happiness is an active research question with seemingly contradictory results.


—- Power dynamics —-


I have no opinion, but it sounds like sociology and I googled it and it was sociology. As someone very interested in behavioral genetics, I am understandably not too impressed by that field of study. There is a reason why psychometricians have coined two fallacies named after sociology. :)


—- Meritocracy, education —-


Education is a decent predictor of intelligence, so that will make it measure merit if we think that it is a good idea to have smarter rulers. I certainly think so. :p But, of course, in countries where there is no free education, education is also a function of (parental) wealth, which is however also correlated with intelligence of the children, but to a much smaller degree. I like free education systems because it increases social mobility, which is necessary for any meritocratic society. :) By the way, I’m not rich and my social background are ‘divorced’ parents without fancy jobs or educations. I am the first person in the family to attend university. No economic privilege here.


Yes, the US democracy is notoriously bad. Actually most democracies are really bad compared to what they could be. Have you looked into liquid democracy?


This is a pretty decent introduction.

Can of course also just read on the official site:


There are many faults with the Danish system that I can point out if that area interests you. :P For starters, to be put on the voting ballot, one needs to gather a ridiculous amount of signatures (20,500) in complicated way. This basically means that to be put on the ballot, one needs a considerable amount of money, probably in the order of tens of thousands of dollars (>100k DKK). This is the reason why my party (Pirate Party Denmark) is not on the ballot.


Are you familiar with CGPGrey’s great series of videos on voting systems?


The US system is of course FPTP (first past the post), and this always leads to two party systems, which are horrible forms of democracy. Perhaps the worst kind aside from outright corrupt ones or with voter fraud (say, Russia).


—- Eugenics’ political aspects —-


Things like embryo selection will not make talent non-scarce. It will however improve the general intelligence levels of societies if widely employed. I also don’t think it would be possible to keep such a technology super expensive no matter which power interests want that. There will quickly be a huge demand for such technology, meaning that companies can earn money by making it available, even if illegal (like illegal drugs). The technology necessary for that is not particularly difficult to operate or large etc.


In any case, since generations take time, even if the rich have a window of opportunity of, say, 20 years before it’s so cheap as to be affordable for most people, or even free in countries with free health care, that will only be a single generation.


With the price curves for similar technology, it won’t take long before it’s dirt cheap. Actually, the time is somewhat predictable already. Since embryo selection would at least require a number of genome sequences, any number >1 will do, but more is better of course (larger variety to select from). Right now such full genome sequences are pretty expensive, but the 1,000 dollar mark is close. In 10 years, it will be very cheap so that everybody can afford it. For efficient embryo selection, one would need something like 100 or so. So, it will have to be very cheap. But it will be. :)


Then comes the price of egg extraction or some other method of getting eggs (grow them perhaps? stem cells?). I don’t think it’s very expensive even now. Sperm is obviously easy to get a hold of :P. Then they have to be combine separately. Can’t be too expensive.


In general the only expensive thing will be the sequencing, and it is falling logarithmicly in price.


I don’t think my belief is on shaky ground at all. I think it is more or less certain, but we can make a bet on it, and you can come find me in 30 years or so. :P


I got the idea from Richard Lynn’s Eugenics: A reassessment. It’s on page 252ff. I quote the beginning:


”Embryo selection consists of growing a number of embryos in vitro, testing

them for their genetic characteristics, and selecting for implantation those

with genetic characteristics regarded as desirable, while at the same time

discarding those with genetic characteristics regarded as undesirable. This

procedure is also known as embryo biopsy, which entails growing several blas-

tocysts (embryos grown in vitro to eight cells), removing one of the eight

cells, and testing it for genetic and chromosomal defects. Verlinksy, Pergament,

and Strom (1990) reported the use of this procedure to screen out embryos

with genes for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and Down’s syndrome, so an

embryo free of these disorders could be implanted in the mother. At about

the same time, another use of this technique was reported by Handyside and

his colleagues at London University. They used IVF (in vitro fertilization) for

two couples in which the female was a carrier for an X-linked recessive dis-

ease, which is expressed only in males. To avoid the potential birth of a boy

with the X-linked disorder, the physicians tested for the sex of the embryos

and implanted only females. This technique allows couples to choose the sex

of their babies, whether this is to avoid having babies likely to inherit serious

disorders, or simply because they prefer one sex rather than the other.”


So, actually, it has already been tested, just without sequencing. One can of course detect other problems without a full genome sequencing.


I got the term ”liberal eugenics” from Wikipedia and from the book mentioned on Wikipedia which I also read:

Agar, Nicholas (2004). Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement. ISBN 1-4051-2390-7.


Lynn’s book is much better. Liberal here is just non-coercive eugenics. I dislike coercive eugenics — I’m a freedom kind of person. :)


Also, since we don’t actually know the genes for intelligence yet, but do know a lot of genes for genetic diseases — genetic diseases will be the first thing to fix with this kind of selection. And actually it was, as seen above. Genetic diseases are more common among the poor/dumb people, so they will benefit the most of this technology. Societies with free health care have an interest in making this technology available, for the simple reason that it saves money in the long run. It is very expensive to treat many chronic diseases (say, diabetes), but this technology is once per person.


Eugenics is also becoming more mainstream, just under other names. See e.g.:


—- US compared to real countries :P —-


You don’t have a state church, or a monarchy. Denmark has both, but not too much trouble in practice. Still, there are some things. :P


—- Sources —-


I have an e-library here: Probably there are many things on that that should interest you. At least if you share any of my interests, which it looks like. :) You can also take a look at my Goodreads profile if you didn’t already.


Some of the links are broken due to a flaw in the php-script that I don’t know how to fix.


Of course, you can also just ask me. I have tried to list the major works I got the ideas from above.


PS. You should share some pictures with me. :)

Social maladjustment in high IQ societies may be due in part to self-selection, yes, particularly in the case of Mensa and the “2 percenters”, who one could argue are not qualitatively different from those of average IQ, and whose IQs do not create an intrinsic barrier to communication with the 98 percent. However, I do not think it is unlikely that there exists a threshold above which some degree of social maladjustment is unavoidable; a person whose intelligence is in the range of 160-170 would relate to a person of average IQ in much the same way a person in the 130-140 range would relate to a mentally retarded person. It seems to follow that an individual who relates to 98% of their peer group the way “gifted” people relate to the mentally retarded faces probably insurmountable obstacles in their social development. (Tangent: forgive me for presuming to diagnose a stranger over the internet, and also for presuming that the stranger in question has any interest or need for my diagnosis, but your self-described “mild case of Gregory House” sounds a bit like a manifestation of this very phenomenon, no? That is, assuming you are above the 2 percent mark :P)

I don’t think this conversation can progress until we reach a mutually satisfying definition of “success”. Are you emphasising earnings as an indicator because this is the easiest to quantify? Or do you actually believe that earning power is synonymous with success? For the record, I don’t consider this discussion a “debate” in that I am not neccessarily looking for tangible proof. In fact, it is my belief that constraining the terms of the conversation to only that which can be tangibly proven is unneccesarily restrictive, and even detrimental to creative problem solving. Not that statistics should be ignored… but the skepticism with which you regard sociological research should perhaps be extended more broadly, as bad science is not the exclusive domain of sociology (and even interpreting “good” science can be tricky).

On the personality factors front, I would suggest that “O” might translate into higher usage of recreational substances, particularly in the college years that are so formative to one’s career path (in the US, anyway), potentially leading to lower academic success rates. Alternately, people with high “O” scores may be prone to boredom and would be less likely to specialize, specialization (supposedly) being key to success in modern society.

Yes, Gladwell sounds like an idiot. An idiot or a politician. The contempt with which you regard sociology is similar to the contempt with which I regard politics.

Hm, happiness… I believe the notion that happiness is objectively quantifiable is a mistaken one.

Your refusal to engage any argument that smacks of sociology does not render it moot, it simply narrows your field of vision. I do not suffer under the delusion that the vast majority of sociological research is devoid of fallacy, or even particularly useful at all in an academic sense (more often than not, anything politically useful is actually academically harmful). But I also don’t allow the absence of reliable statistics to preclude any sort of observation or speculation, because absolute certainty is not always possible. And also because leaning on figures as a crutch is the hallmark of those incapable of original thought :)

This article may interest you, and will also probably seal your judgement of America as the Worst Western Country (TM):

As a disclaimer, I do not regularly read the American Conservative, nor do I identify as a conservative.

Your educational system is probably my favorite aspect of Scandinavian style socialism. At least it sounds good from an outside perspective, and apparently it’s worked well for at least one member of your society :)

Liquid democracy is an interesting form, but it does not solve the real problem: there are too many people, and too many of those people are idiots. The average person can’t be trusted to deliver my mail properly, let alone make national policy decisions. Populism is in vogue right now, and while I am not an elitist, I don’t particularly trust any populist philosophy on its face, as populism is often anti-intellectuallism masquerading as some “noble savage” ground-swelling. As presented by your video, liquid democracy has a significant populist component.

I understand your frustration with the Danish system, and I believe you that it has its faults, but the US’s system is closer to the Russian system than you might think. Indeed, for all our posturing, American and Russian culture are not too dissimilar (I and a Russian friend of mine have fun comparing and contrasting our respective backgrounds, and we are often shocked). For instance, both Kennedy and Bush faced charges of voter fraud that were not without substance… but corruption in American politics is deep-rooted and generally not an appropriate conversation topic in polite company, so I will merely say this: whatever your woes up there in your nordic bubble, they do not compare with the clusterfuck that is American politics.

Just because something “should” happen doesn’t mean it will. I think you underestimate the ability of those in power (be it political or economic) to abuse that power… but perhaps that is tempered in a socialistic system. It is also important to keep in mind that taboo is a powerful tool. Many cultures, especially those with strong populist sentiment, harbor an innate distrust of scientists and, by extension, technology. The industrial revolution eradicated feudalism and created the middle class, and what thanks did the scientists get? Luddites burning down the mills! The strongest form of control is not necessarily the most direct one. Look at what religion has done for the past 10,000 years.

Your point about fixing genetic diseases (especially in the case of state-subsidized health care) does seem to be more solidly based in reality, though. And by reality I mean money.

You have quite a collection there…

A Billion Wicked Thoughts is fascinating, definitely pick that up if you haven’t. Also, if you haven’t read Sex at Dawn, that is fascinating as well. Gives us poly people some ammunition when the monogamists start moralizing or telling us it’s “unnatural” :)

And I suppose it’s only fair…


The causes of high g social maladjustment

I’m thinking that the high g social maladjustment is due to loneliness, lack of similar friends and stuff like that. Although it could be a case of ‘direct’ pleiotropy as well (one gene with multiple phenotypic effects).

The trouble with IQ’s as a measure of intelligence is that it is not a ratio scale. So one cannot conclude that a, say, person at 70 IQ is twice as unintelligent as a person of 140, and the other way around with twice as smart. This bothered Jensen who wanted to make psychology a regular hard science (a branch of biology/physiology), so he spent much of his career trying to establish a connection with something that does use a ratio scale: reaction times. It turns out that reaction times are related to g, and in systematic ways. This of course fits with conventional wisdom with the bright people being “quick-witted” as well. Although this technical aspect of intelligence research does not interest me particularly.

I cite: Jensen’s Clocking the mind: Mental Chronometry and Individual Differences (2006), which I read some parts of. It is also discussed at length in Jensen 1998.

But I agree that there is a kind of communication barrier between people of different g levels, but perhaps it is not linear. Suppose there is a barrier between, say, 140 and 100 such that persons that different almost never get along. It seems to me that it doesn’t follow from that, that there must be a similar barrier between ex. 140 and 180.
The cause of such barriers, IMO, is that the normal folks lack academic interests and simply don’t know much about anything academic. This makes conversation difficult. A person of 140 is surely capable of great knowledge of academic interests, although a 180 is without a doubt much better at it. But still, there is a good chance of mutual interests.
Self assessment of intelligence is very difficult. Not just because we are naturally inclined to overrate ourselves (self serving bias, men especially), but it is also known that ‘smart people’ 75 percentile) tend to underestimate themselves in experiments (cf. Dunning-Kruger effect). But we also know that the higher we put the number, the lower is the base rate, which makes it more difficult to have convincing evidence (cf. base rate fallacy). Together with the above, there is a lack of good, high ceiling IQ tests on the web for free. It is also not wise to rely on friend’s judgments as they are also biased (in one’s favor). University grades don’t correlate too well with IQ (0.3ish), so not too useful of a guide either. General achievement in life is also the function of things like motivation, creativity, opportunity and chance. So, difficult to use that too.

But I did take Mensa’s test and got a passing grade. :p I’m not a member though.

I am of course not defining success as earnings. I just picked an example of something that is usually regarded as one measure of success (because people want money), and which there is correlational data about with IQ. I also mentioned patents and STEM publications. In any case, my goals are polymathy (very difficult), and leading the Pirate Party to election in Denmark. Both are going well IMO. I did create a spelling reform proposal that multiple respectful people said nice things about, so I’m pretty proud of that. Especially because it was something I did alone+without help, before entering university, before studying linguistics in a more serious way. I also created an innovative logic system, although much of that work is unpublished sitting on my desktop because I lost interest in it. I think it’s cool and useful for philosophy, but philosophy no longer holds my main interest.
I looked up “success”. Wiktionary just reports “The achievement of one’s aim or goal. [from 16th c.]”. So, being a high earner can be a success, if that was one’s goal. I don’t care too much about money. I tend to donate it. For instance, to Wikipedia, Wikileaks and the like.

Personality and earnings
I checked our suggestion on O and drug usage, well, drinking. It is borne out by what appears to be a decent study. Decent sample size. Higher O does correlate with more drinking. Also as expected higher C correlates negatively with more drinking. Higher N also positively.
Well, more work is needed for path analysis. I didn’t read the study, just checked the statistics.

How come? Anyway, it seems it is. Although it is not so simple as previously thought. The heritability of happiness is also known with some certainly from twin studies and the like. It is usually put in the 50-80% range. Similar to IQ. Height is something like 90%.

I don’t disagree with what you say, but I don’t really know enough about “power” as thought about in sociology to say anything. I read much of the Wikipedia article on power. It has 14 sections for “Theories” the last of which is called “Other theories”. I knew of some of the research though (ultimatum and dictator games), because these are employed in evolutionary psychology in studies of cheater detection.

Meritocracy in the US
I already read that article. :P I read texts from all over the political spectrum. Something about now being narrow minded? :p Being in an information bubble is a bad idea, as it leads to confirmation bias.

Education in Scandinavia
Free education is the best meritocratic system for the reason that it being free maximizes the chances that a poor/bad SES but gifted person gets the best education. It is the best way to have social mobility. According to the equality people (of The Spirit Level fame), social mobility is good. From an intelligence research perspective, it is a good idea because the variance in human abilities is so large, even within families (average sibling IQ difference is 12, compared with 15 in the population).

Liquid democracy
You say you’re not an elitist, but then you say elitist things. :P Actually, I think (hope) that liquid democracy can solve a problem not possible to form with regular representative democracies. It is connected with the thing we were talking about earlier: the communication between different g groups. The idea is that one has a certain range where one can see who is the smartest/best leader. I would explain it, but someone explained it here:
The study is here:

His assumption of complete inability to judge who is a better leader than oneself is without a doubt wrong, but there is truth to the idea that there is a range based on oneself, which doesn’t extend too far rightward. Given that, the results should be somewhat mediocre (to fit with reality). However, if people could delegate votes recursively, one could see a delegation of votes from a person at x level, to someone higher at y, who would delegate it to someone higher at z, and so on for a few delegations. That would enable the vote to go to someone much higher than x could ‘see’. In theory, that should work very well.

I have no idea how well that idea would work in practice. Worth a try?

As for too many dumb people, yes. See e.g. this for depressing reading.

It does have a populist component, if only because there is no way else to get such a system implemented. It will also benefit the current system for other reasons than the above. For instance, the majority of the Danish population supports cannabis legalization, but the politicians are against it. With LD they could vote on it themselves. Similar for e.g. active euthanasia. Might also give other bad results though… As with other large changes, it is too difficult to predict with certainty, and the best way is to try it out. My idea is to get it implemented in some local governments, and then see how it goes. The more near-term goal is to get it implemented in the Danish Pirate Party.


January 18, 2013

Art Jensen on Galton + a review of The Legacy of His Ideas by Francis Galton (by Milo Keynes)

Filed under: Evolutionary biology,Evolutionary Psychology,Genetics / behavioral genetics,Science — Tags: — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 11:20

All the early influences on differential psychology mentioned so far came
from philosophers. None was an empirical scientist. Darwin was, of course, but
Darwinian ideas were introduced into psychology by Herbert Spencer, a pro­
fessional philosopher. The empirical study of mental ability and individual dif­
ferences could not begin until someone took up the methods of empirical
science, that is, asking definite questions of nature and discovering the answers
through analysis of data based on systematic observation, objective measure­
ment, and experimentation. The first person to do this was the Victorian eccen­
tric, polymath, and genius Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911).3 Galton was Charles
Darwin’s younger half-cousin—half-cousin because they had only one grand­
parent in common, Erasmus Darwin, a noted physician, physiologist, naturalist,
and poet. Born into a prominent and wealthy family, Galton was a child prodigy,
who could read and write before the age of four. He intensely disliked school,
however, and his parents transferred him from one private boarding school to
another, each as boring and frustrating to him as the others, and he begged his
parents to let him quit. In his Memories o f My Life (1908), written when he was
86, he still complained of his unsatisfying school experience. At age fifteen, he
was sent away to college, which offered more challenge. To satisfy his parents’
ambition that he follow in his eminent grandfather’s footsteps and become a
physician, he entered medical school. There he soon discovered that the basic
sciences—physics, chemistry, biology, and physiology—were far more to his
liking than medical practice. So he left medical school for Cambridge Univer­
sity, there to major in mathematics in preparation for a career in science.

Soon after Galton graduated, at age twenty-one, his father died, and Galton
received a large inheritance that made him independently wealthy for the rest
of his very long life. It allowed him to pursue his extremely varied interests
freely in all things scientific. His enthusiastic and catholic curiosity about natural
phenomena drove him to became perhaps the greatest scientific dilettante of all
time. Because he was also a genius, he made original contributions to many
fields, some of them important enough to be accorded chapters in books on the
history of several fields: criminology, eugenics, genetics, meteorology, psy­
chology, and statistics. He first gained fame in geography, as an explorer, ex­
pertly describing, surveying, and mapping previously unexplored parts of Africa.
For this activity, his name is engraved on the granite facade of the Royal Ge­
ographical Society’s building in London, along with the names of the most
famous explorers in British history. (His fascinating book  The Art o f Travel
[1855] was a long-time best seller and went through nine editions.) He also
made contributions to meteorology, inventing isobar mapping, being the first to
write a daily newspaper weather report, and formulating a widely accepted the­
ory of the anticyclone. He made other original contributions to photography,
fingerprint classification, genetics, statistics, anthropology, and psychometrics.
His prolific achievements and publications brought worldwide recognition and
many honors, including knighthood, Fellow of the Royal Society, and several
gold medals awarded by scientific societies in England and Europe. As a famous
man in his own lifetime, Galton also had what Hollywood calls “ star quality.”

Biographies of Galton also reveal his charming eccentricities. His profuse
intellectual energy spilled over into lesser achievements or activities that often
seem trivial. He was almost obsessed with counting and measuring things (his
motto: “When you can, count!” ), and he devised mechanical counters and other
devices to help in counting and tabulating. He loved data. On his first visit to
a city, for example, he would walk around with a small, hand-held mechanical
counter and tally the number of people passing by, tabulating their character­
istics—tall, medium, short; blond, brunette, redhead—separately for males and
females, the latter also rated for attractiveness. To be able to manage all these
data while walking about, he had his tailor make a special vest with many little
pockets, each one for a particular tabulated characteristic. He could temporarily
store the data from his counters by putting into designated pockets the appro­
priate number of dried peas. Back in his hotel room, he counted the peas in
each pocket and entered the numerical results in his notebook for later statistical

He devised an objective measure of the degree to which a lecturer bored the
audience, and tried it out at meetings of the Royal Society. It consisted of
counting the involuntary noises—coughs, feet shuffling, and the like—that is­
sued from the audience, and, with a specially rigged protractor, he measured the
angle that listeners’ heads were tilted from a vertical position during the lecture.
A score derived from the data obtained with this procedure showed that even
the most eloquently written lecture, if read verbatim, was more boring than an
extempore lecture, however rambling and inelegant.

He also invented a special whistle (now called a Galton whistle), which is
familiar to many dog owners. Its high-frequency pitch is beyond humans’ au­
dible range and can be heard only by dogs and certain other animals. Galton
made a series of these whistles, ranging widely in pitch, and used them to find
the upper limits of pitch that could be heard by humans of different ages. To
compare the results on humans with the auditory capacities of many species in
the London Zoo, he would attach the whistles to the end of a tube that could
be extended like a telescope, so it could reach into a cage and direct the sound
right at the animal’s ear. While quickly squeezing a rubber bulb attached to one
end of the long tube to force a standard puff of air through the whistle attached
to the other end, he would note whether or not the animal reacted to a particular

In another amusing project, he used the mathematics of solid geometry to
figure out the optimal way to cut a cake of any particular shape and dimensions
into any given number of pieces to preserve the freshness of each piece. He
published his clever solution in a mathematics journal. There are many other
quaint anecdotes about Galton’s amazing scientific curiosity and originality, but
the several already mentioned should suffice to round out the picture of his
extraordinary personality.

Although he died (at age ninety) as long ago as 1911, his legacy remains
remarkably vivid. It comprises not only his many pioneering ideas and statistical
inventions, still in use, but also the important endowments, permitted by his
personal wealth, for advancing the kinds of research he thought would be of
greatest benefit to human welfare. He founded the Department of Eugenics (now
Genetics) at the University of London and endowed its Chair, which has been
occupied by such luminaries as Karl Pearson, Sir Ronald Fisher, and Lionel
Penrose; he furnished a psychological laboratory in University College, London;
he founded two prestigious journals that are still active,  Biometrika and  The
Annals o f Human Genetics’, and he founded (in 1904) the Eugenics Society
(recently renamed The Galton Institute), which maintains an extensive library,
publishes journals and books, and sponsors many symposia, all related to the
field now known as social biology.


Galton’s position in the history of behavioral science is stellar. He is ac­
knowledged as one of the two founding fathers of empirical psychology, along
with Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), who established the first laboratory of ex­
perimental psychology in 1879 in Leipzig. As Wundt is recognized as the father
of experimental psychology, Galton can certainly be called the father of differ­
ential psychology, including psychometrics and behavioral genetics. Each is now
a major branch of modern behavioral science. The leading historian of experi­
mental psychology, Edwin G. Boring (1950), drew the following interesting
contrast between the scientific personalities of Galton and Wundt:

Wundt was erudite where Galton was original; Wundt overcame massive obstacles
by the weight of his attack; Galton dispatched a difficulty by a thrust of insight.
Wundt was forever armored by his system; Galton had no system. Wundt was
methodical; Galton was versatile. Wundt’s science was interpenetrated by his
philosophy; Galton’s science was discursive and unstructured. Wundt was
interminably arguing; Galton was forever observing. Wundt had a school, a formal
self-conscious school; Galton had friends, influence and effects only. Thus, Wundt
was personally intolerant and controversial, whereas Galton was tolerant and ready
to be convicted of error, (pp. 461-62)

Wundt and Galton were the progenitors of the two main branches of scientific
psychology—experimental (Wundt) and differential (Galton). These two disci­
plines have advanced along separate tracks throughout the history of psychology.
Their methodological and even philosophical differences run deep, although
both branches embrace the scientific tradition of objective testing of hypotheses.

Experimental psychology searches for general laws of behavior. Therefore, it
treats individual differences as unwanted variance, termed “ error variance,”
which must be minimized or averaged out to permit the discovery of universal
regularities in the relation between stimulus and response. The method of ex­
perimental psychology consists of controlling variables (or treatment conditions)
and randomizing the assignment of subjects to the different treatments. The
experimental conditions are intentionally manipulated to discover their average
effects, unconfounded by individual differences. In general, the stimulus pre­
sented to the subject is varied by the experimenter, while the subject’s responses
are recorded or measured. But the data of primary interest to the experimental
psychologist consist of the averaged performance of the many subjects randomly
assigned to each condition.

Differential psychology, on the other hand, seeks to classify, measure, and
then explain the variety and nature of both individual and group differences in
behavioral traits as phenomena worthy of investigation in their own right. It uses
statistical analysis, such as correlation, multiple regression, and factor analysis,
applied to data obtained under natural conditions, rather than the controlled
conditions of the laboratory. Obviously, when human characteristics are of in­
terest, individual differences and many other aspects of behavior cannot feasibly
or ethically be controlled or manipulated by the investigator. Therefore, scien­
tists must study human variation as it occurs under natural conditions. During
the latter half of this century, however, a rapprochement has begun between the
two disciplines. Both experimental and correlational methods are being used in
the study of cognition.

G al to n ’s Methodological Contributions. Galton made enduring contribu­
tions to the methodology of differential psychology. He was the first to devise
a precise quantitative index of the degree of relationship, or  co-relation (as he
called it) between any two metric variables obtained from the same individuals
(or relatives) in a given population. Examples are individuals’ height and weight
or the resemblance between parents and children, or between siblings, in a given

In 1896, Karl Pearson (1857-1936), a noted mathematician, who became a
Galton disciple and has been rightly called the “ father of statistics,” revamped
Galton’s formulation of co-relation, to make it mathematically more elegant and
enhance its general applicability. Pearson’s formula yields what now is called
“ the Pearson product-moment coefficient of correlation.” In the technical lit­
erature, however, the word  correlation, without a modifier, always signifies
Pearson’s coefficient.4 (The many other types of correlation coefficient are al­
ways specified, e.g.,  intraclass correlation,  rank-order correlation,  tetrachoric
correlation,  biserial correlation,  point-biserial correlation,  partial correlation,
semipartial correlation,  multiple correlation,  canonical correlation, correlation
ratio, phi coefficient,  contingency coefficient,  tau coefficient,  concordance co­
efficient, and  congruence coefficient. Each has its specialized use, depending on
the type of data.) Pearson’s correlation is the most generally used. Universally
symbolized by a lower-case italic  r (derived from Galton’s term  regression), it
is a ubiquitous tool in the biological and behavioral sciences. In differential
psychology, it is absolutely essential.

Galton invented many other statistical and psychometric concepts and meth­
ods familiar to all present-day researchers, including the bivariate scatter dia­
gram, regression (related to correlation), multiple regression and multiple
correlation (by which two or more different variables are used to predict another
variable), the conversion of measurements or ranks to percentiles, standardized
or scale-free measurements or scores, various types of rating scales, the use of
the now familiar normal or bell-shaped curve (originally formulated by the great
mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss [1777-1855]) as a basis for quantifying
psychological traits on an equal-interval scale, and using either the median or
the geometric mean (instead of the arithmetic mean) as the indicator of central
tendency of measurements that have a markedly skewed frequency distribution.

In his  Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development (1883), Galton
described an odd assortment of clever tests and techniques, devised mostly by
himself, for measuring basic human capacities, particularly keenness of sensory
discrimination in the different modalities, imagery, and reaction times to audi­
tory and visual stimuli. Although Galton’s use of gadgetry has been disparaged
as “ brass instrument psychology,” it was a seminal innovation—the  objective
measurement of human capacities. Compared with modern technology, of
course, Galton’s methods were fairly crude, sometimes even inadequate for their
purpose. His intense interest in human variation and his passion for quantitative
data, however, led him to apply his “ brass instrument” techniques to almost
every physical and mental characteristic that could be counted, ranked, or mea­

Galton obtained many types of data on more than 9,000 persons who, from
1884 to 1890, went through his Anthropometric Laboratory in London’s South
Kensington Science Museum. Each had to pay threepence to serve as subjects
for these tests and measurements. Unfortunately, Galton lacked the powerful
tools of statistical inference that were later developed by Karl Pearson (1857-
1936) and Sir Ronald A. Fisher (1890-1962), and therefore he could only draw
much weaker conclusions than the quality of his massive data really warranted.
He was dismayed that the measurements of sensory discrimination and speed of
reaction appeared to show so little relationship to a person’s level of general
mental ability (as indicated by educational and occupational attainments). It soon
became a widely accepted and long-lasting conclusion that the simple functions
assessed by Galton are unrelated to individual differences in the higher mental
processes, or intelligence. Galton’s “ brass instrument” approach to the study
of human abilities, therefore, was abandoned for nearly a century.

Recently, Galton’s original data have been analyzed by modern methods of
statistical inference.151 It turned out that his original hypotheses were largely
correct after all. R. A. Fisher’s method known as analysis o f variance revealed
highly significant differences between groups differing in educational and oc­
cupational level on Galton’s discrimination and reaction-time tests. Galton’s
scientific intuitions were remarkably good, but the psychometric and statistical
methods then available were not always up to the task of validating them.

Galton Introduces Genetics into Psychology. Galton’s most famous work,
Hereditary Genius (1869), was the forerunner of behavior genetics, nearly a
century before either the term or the field of behavior genetics came into being.
Galton was especially interested in the inheritance of mental ability. Because
there was then no objective scale for measuring mental ability, he devised an­
other criterion of high-level ability:  eminence, based on illustrious achievements
that would justify published biographies, encyclopedia articles, and the like. By
this criterion, he selected many of the most famous intellects of the nineteenth
century, whom he classed as “ illustrious,” and he obtained information about
their ancestors, descendants, and other relatives. His extensive biographical and
genealogical research revealed that the relatives of his illustrious probands were
much more likely to attain eminence than would a random sample of the pop­
ulation with comparable social background. More telling, he noticed that the
probability of eminence in a relative of an illustrious person decreased in a
regular stepwise fashion as the degree of kinship was more remote. Galton
noticed that the same pattern was also true for physical stature and athletic

Galton made other observations that gave some indication of the power of
family background in producing eminence. In an earlier period of history, it was
customary for popes to adopt orphan boys and rear them like sons, with all the
advantages of culture and education that papal privilege could command. Galton
noted that far fewer of these adopted boys ever attained eminence than did the
natural sons of fathers whose eminence was comparable to a pope’s. From such
circumstantial evidence, Galton concluded that mental ability is inherited in
much the same manner, and to about the same degree, as physical traits.

Galton further concluded that what was inherited was essentially a  general
ability, because eminent relatives in the same family line were often famous in
quite different fields, such as literature, mathematics, and music. He supposed
that this hereditary general ability could be channeled by circumstance or interest
into different kinds of intellectual endeavor. He also recognized special abilities,
or talent, in fields like art and music, but considered them less important than
general ability in explaining outstanding accomplishment, because a high level
of general ability characterized all of his illustrious persons. (Galton noted that
they were also characterized by the unusual zeal and persistence they brought
to their endeavors.) He argued, for example, that the inborn musical gift of a
Beethoven could not have been expressed in works of genius were it not ac­
companied by superior general ability. In Hereditary Genius, he summarized his
concept of general ability in his typically quaint style: “ Numerous instances
recorded in this book show in how small a degree eminence can be considered
as due to purely special powers. People lay too much stress on apparent spe­
cialities, thinking that because a man is devoted to some particular pursuit he
would not have succeeded in anything else. They might as well say that, because
a youth has fallen in love with a brunette, he could not possibly have fallen in
love with a blonde. As likely as not the affair was mainly or wholly due to a
general amorousness” (p. 64).

Ga l to n ’s Anecdotal Report on Twins. The use of twins to study the inher­
itance of behavioral traits was another of Galton’s important “ firsts.” He noted
that there were two types of twins, judging from their degree of resemblance.
“ Identical” twins come from one egg (hence they are now called monozygotic,
or MZ, twins), which divides in two shortly after fertilization. Their genetic
makeup is identical; thus their genetic correlation is unity (r = 1). And they are
very alike in appearance. “ Fraternal” twins (now called dizygotic, or DZ) come
from two different fertilized eggs and have the same genetic relationship as
ordinary siblings, with a genetic correlation of about one-half (on average). That
is, DZ twins are, on average, about one-half as similar, genetically, as MZ twins.
DZ twins are no more alike in appearance than ordinary siblings when they are
compared at the same age.

Galton was interested in twins’ similarities and differences, especially in MZ
twins, as any difference would reflect only the influence of environment or
nongenetic factors. He located some eighty pairs of twins whose close physical
resemblance suggested they were MZ, and he collected anecdotal data on their
behavioral characteristics from their relatives and friends and from the twins
themselves. He concluded that since the twins were so strikingly similar in their
traits, compared to ordinary siblings, heredity was the predominant cause of
differences in individuals’ psychological characteristics.

Because Galton obtained no actual measurements, systematic observations, or
quantitative data, his conclusions are of course liable to the well-known short­
comings of all anecdotal reports. Later research, however, based on the more
precise methods of modern psychometrics and biometrical genetics, has largely
substantiated Galton’s surmise about the relative importance of heredity and
environment for individual differences in general mental ability. But Galton’s
research on heredity is cited nowadays only for its historical interest as the
prototype of the essential questions and methods that gave rise to modern be­
havioral genetics. It is a fact that most of the questions of present interest to
researchers in behavioral genetics and differential psychology were originally
thought of by Galton. His own answers to many of the questions, admittedly
based on inadequate evidence, have proved to be remarkably close to the con­
clusions of present-day researchers. In the history of science, of course, the
persons remembered as great pioneers are those who asked the fundamental
questions, thought of novel ways to find the answers, and, in retrospect, had
many correct and fruitful ideas. By these criteria, Galton unquestionably quali­

Ga l to n ’s Concept of Mental Ability. Galton seldom used the word  intelli­
gence and never offered a formal definition. From everything he wrote about
ability, however, we can well imagine that, if he had felt a definition necessary,
he would have said something like  innate, general, cognitive ability. The term
cognitive clearly distinguishes it from the two other attributes of Plato’s triarchic
conception of the mind, the affective and conative. Galton’s favored term, men­
tal ability, comprises both general ability and a number of special abilities—he
mentioned linguistic, mathematical, musical, artistic, and memorial. General
ability denotes a power of mind that affects (to some degree) the quality of
virtually everything a person does that requires more than simple sensory acuity
or sheer physical strength, endurance, dexterity, or coordination.

Analogizing from the normal, bell-shaped distribution of large-sample data
on physical features, such as stature, Galton assumed that the frequency distri­
bution of ability in the population would approximate the normal curve. He
divided the normal curve’s baseline into sixteen equal intervals (a purely arbi­
trary, but convenient, number) to create a scale for quantifying individual and
group differences in general ability. But Galton’s scale is no longer used. Ever
since Karl Pearson, in 1893, invented the  standard deviation, the baseline of
the normal distribution has been interval-scaled in units of the standard devia­
tion, symbolized by c (the lower-case Greek letter sigma). Simple calculation
shows that each interval of Galton’s scale is equal to 0.696o, which is equivalent
to 10.44 IQ points, when the o of IQ is 15 IQ points. Hence Galton’s scale of
mental ability, in terms of IQ, ranges from about 16 to 184.

Galton was unsuccessful, however, in actually  measuring individual differ­
ences in intelligence. We can easily see with hindsight that his particular battery
of simple tests was unsuited for assessing the higher mental processes that peo­
ple think of as “ intelligence.” Where did Galton go wrong? Like Herbert Spen­
cer, he was immensely impressed by Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the
mechanism of evolution. And hereditary individual variation is the raw material
on which natural selection works by, in Darwinian terms, “ selection of the fittest
in the struggle for survival.” Also, Galton was influenced by Locke’s teaching
that the mind’s content is originally gained through the avenue of the five senses,
which provide all the raw material for the association of impressions to form
ideas, knowledge, and intelligence. From Darwin’s and Locke’s theories, Galton
theorized that, in his words, “ the more perceptive the senses are of differences,
the larger is the field upon which our judgement and intelligence can act”
{Human Faculty, 1883, p. 19). Among many other factors that conferred advan­
tages in the competition for survival, individual variation in keenness of sensory
discrimination, as well as quickness of reaction to external stimuli, would have
been positively selected in the evolution of human intelligence.

It seemed to Galton a reasonable hypothesis, therefore, that tests of fine sen­
sory  discrimination (not just simple acuity) and of reaction time to visual and
auditory stimuli would provide objective measures of individual differences in
the elemental components of mental ability, unaffected by education, occupation,
or social status. The previously described battery of tests Galton devised for this
purpose, it turned out, yielded measurements that correlated so poorly with com-
monsense criteria of intellectual distinction (such as election to the Royal So­
ciety) as to be unconvincing as a measure of intelligence, much less having any
practical value. Statistical techniques were not then available to prove the the­
oretical significance, if any, of the slight relationship that existed between the
laboratory measures and independent estimates of ability. Galton had tested
thousands of subjects, and all of his data were carefully preserved. When re­
cently they were analyzed by modern statistical methods, highly significant (that
is, nonchance) differences were found between the  average scores obtained by
various groups of people aggregated by age, education, and occupation.151 This
finding lent considerable theoretical interest to Galton’s tests, although they
would have no practical validity for individual assessment.

Binet and the F irs t Practical Test of Intelligence. At the behest of the Paris
school system, Alfred Binet in 1905 invented the first valid and practically useful
test of intelligence. Influenced by Galton and aware of his disappointing results,
Binet (1857-1911) borrowed a few of Galton’s more promising tests (for ex­
ample, memory span for digits and the discrimination of weights) but also de­
vised new tests of much greater mental complexity so as to engage the higher
mental processes—reasoning, judgment, planning, verbal comprehension, and
acquisition of knowledge. Test scores scaled in units of mental age derived from
Binet’s battery proved to have practical value in identifying mentally retarded
children and in assessing children’s readiness for schoolwork. The story of Bi­
net’s practical ingenuity, clinical wisdom, and the lasting influence of his test
is deservedly well known to students of mental measurement.171 The reason that
Binet’s test worked so well, however, remained unexplained by Binet, except
in intuitive and commonsense terms. A truly theory-based explanation had to
wait for the British psychologist Charles Spearman (1863-1945), whose mo­
mentous contributions are reviewed in the next chapter.

Galton on Race Differences in Ability. The discussion of Galton’s work in
differential psychology would be incomplete without mentioning one other topic
that interested him—race differences in mental ability. The title itself of his
chapter on this subject in  Hereditary Genius would be extremely unacceptable
today: “ The Comparative Worth of Different Races.” But Galton’s style of
writing about race was common among nineteenth-century intellectuals, without
(he slightest implication that they were mean-spirited, unkindly, or at all un­
friendly toward people of another race. A style like Galton’s is seen in state­
ments about race made by even such democratic and humanitarian heroes as
Jefferson and Lincoln.

Galton had no tests for obtaining direct measurements of cognitive ability.
Yet he tried to estimate the mean levels of mental capacity possessed by different
racial and national groups on his interval scale of the normal curve. His esti­
mates—many would say guesses—were based on his observations of people of
different races encountered on his extensive travels in Europe and Africa, on
anecdotal reports of other travelers, on the number and quality of the inventions
and intellectual accomplishments of different racial groups, and on the percent­
age of eminent men in each group, culled from biographical sources. He ven­
tured that the level of ability among the ancient Athenian Greeks averaged “ two
grades” higher than that of the average Englishmen of his own day. (Two grades
on Galton’s scale is equivalent to 20.9 IQ points.) Obviously, there is no pos­
sibility of ever determining if Galton’s estimate was anywhere near correct. He
also estimated that African Negroes averaged “ at least two grades” (i.e., 1.39a,
or 20.9 IQ points) below the English average. This estimate appears remarkably
close to the results for phenotypic ability assessed by culture-reduced IQ tests.
Studies in sub-Saharan Africa indicate an average difference (on culture-reduced
nonverbal tests of reasoning) equivalent to 1.43a, or 21.5 IQ points between
blacks and whites.8 U.S. data from the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT),
obtained in 1980 on large representative samples of black and white youths,
show an average difference of 1.36a (equivalent to 20.4 IQ points)—not far
from Galton’s estimate (1.39a, or 20.9 IQ points).9 But intuition and informed
guesses, though valuable in generating hypotheses, are never acceptable as ev­
idence in scientific research. Present-day scientists, therefore, properly dismiss
Galton’s opinions on race. Except as hypotheses, their interest is now purely
biographical and historical.


3. The literature on Galton is extensive. The most accessible biography is by Forrest
(1974). Fancher (1985a) gives a shorter and highly readable account. A still briefer
account of Galton’s life and contributions to psychology is given in Jensen (1994a),
which also lists the principal biographical references to Galton. His own memoir (Galton,
1908) is good reading, but does not particularly detail his contributions to psychology,
a subject reviewed most thoroughly by Cyril Burt (1962). Galton’s activities in each of
the branches o f science to which he made original contributions are detailed in a collec­
tion o f essays, each by one o f fourteen experts in the relevant fields; the book also
includes a complete bibliography o f Galton’s published works, edited by Keynes (1993).
Fancher (1983a, 1983b, 1983c, 1984) has provided fascinating and probing essays about
quite specific but less well-known aspects o f Galton’s life and contributions to psychol­
ogy. Lewis M. Terman (1877-1956), who is responsible for the Stanford-Binet IQ test,
tried to estimate Galton’s IQ in childhood from a few of his remarkably precocious
achievements even long before he went to school. These are detailed in Terman’s (1917)
article, in which he concluded that Galton’s childhood IQ was “ not far from 200” (p.
212). One o f Galton’s biographers, Forrest (1974), however, has noted, “ Terman was
misled by Francis’ letter to [his sister] Adele which begins, ‘I am four years old.’ The
date shows that it was only one day short of his fifth birthday. The calculations should
therefore by emended to give an I.Q. of about 160” (p. 7). (Note: Terman estimated IQ
as 100  X  estimated Mental Age (MA)/Chronological Age (CA); he estimated Galton’s
MA as 8 years based on his purported capabilities at CA 5 years, so 100 x 8/5 = 160.)

(all from The g factor, the science of mental ability – Arthur R. Jensen,, chapter 1).

The Keynes book is: The Legacy of His Ideas  by Francis Galton; ed. Milo Keynes.

I found a review of it, here: Sir Francis Galton, FRS The legacy of his ideas. review

I was particular struck by this:

Some contributors  suggest  that  he spread  himself  too  thinly:  that  he did  too many
things and followed up too few. Perhaps  so, but many great  scientists have been
polymaths.  Could  it be something  more  insidious?  That  his major  work  has become
too politically incorrect  to mention?

I am much like Galton, except that im not that smart. I seem to be around 2.3sd above the white mean, but share his mental energy and diverse interests.

October 9, 2012

Review and thoughts about The g Factor (Christopher Brand, 1996)


The g Factor: General Intelligence and Its Implications is a book by Christopher Brand, a psychologist and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. It was published by John Wiley & Sons in the United Kingdom in March 1996. The book was “depublished” by the publishing house on April 17th, which cited “deep ethical beliefs” in its decision to remove the book from circulation; it is generally agreed that material in the book that covered racial issues in intelligence testing was responsible for the withdrawal. Wiley argued that after “inflammatory statements” Brand had made elsewhere, it was possible to “infer some of the same repugnant views from the text”.

According to economist Edward M. Miller, “While Wiley has not been specific as to just what views that were trying to prevent the dissemination of, one presumes they have to do with racial differences in intelligence and the implications for economics and educational policy.”[1]


6. A last doubt about IQ-test validity is that ‘measured’ differences may be little but the products of

other people’s expectations, ‘labels’ and self-fulfilling prophecies. Once more, there are two

versions of such a claim.


m (a) One is that differences in expectations (e.g. by children’s teachers) may have real

effects on intelligence. This is a claim for which no evidence has ever been offered other

than from IQ-type testing; and, if IQ-test evidence is considered relevant, the claimant is

accepting IQ-test validity.


m (b) The other version is that expectancies may particularly affect only IQ scores. Such

invalid scores may eventually become reality via subsequent differential provision of

educational opportunities. The idea is that differential treatment, in response to initial IQ

scores, may yield real, ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ effects on intelligence itself. Fortunately,

though it is now well recognized that one-off perceptual judgments and children’s

achievements in swimming, athletics and laboratory learning can sometimes reflect initially

erroneous expectancies (of teachers, parents or pupils), hundreds of studies in the past

twenty-five years(22) have found little general effect of such ‘labelling’ effects on IQ. In the

most systematic study in a normal school setting (Kellaghan et al, 1982), expectancies of

teachers supplied with IQ information about pupils did not generally change children’s IQ’s

or attainments over a school year. (There was a slight boost to the end-of-the-year

achievements of those (genuinely) higher-IQ children who came from relatively low-SES

families: the teachers may have been trying to discount background SES and to ‘bring on’

such children towards the attainment levels normally expected from children of such IQ’s.)

Far from labelling or self-labelling themselves giving rise to IQ-type differences and so to

spurious correlations and a g dimension among mental tests, it is noticeable that many

genuinely bright people have a misleadingly modest impression of their own abilities –

often claiming on TV shows to be ‘poor spellers’, for example; while vanity amongst people of mediocre intelligence is probably easier to find (see Brand et al. , 1994).


An early indication of the Dunning-Kruger effect? The cite given is:

BRAND, C.R., EGAN, V. & DEARY, I.J. (1994).

‘Intelligence, personality and society: constructivist versus

essentialist possibilities.’ In D.K.Detterman, Current

Topics in Human Intelligence 4, pp. 29-42. Norwood, NJ :



which is a book i dont have access to.


I have written an email to Dunning and informed him about this possibly earlier statement.


The author is an interesting fellow He also has a blog here:



(2) True mixed ability teaching would be much easier if only the Government spent more on

education to reduce class sizes. Yet class sizes in Britain are now typically a third of what they

were before 1939. Meanwhile Britain’s position in most international educational league tables has

sunk from third to twenty-third: in mathematics, at age 13, British children now lag German children

by 1 year and Japanese children by two years; and a MORI poll of British adolescents found that a

third of them could not calculate a weekly wage from an hourly rate, and a quarter could not identify

which direction on a map was north (Green & Steedman, 1993, pp.9, 31). Anyhow, research

repeatedly finds children’s educational outcomes quite unrelated to class size – as the Educational

Secretary for England and Wales must repeatedly to explain to teachers who understandably find

mixed-ability teaching a strain (see Eysenck, 1973/1975, p.134; Walsh, 1995): even a class size of

six will be difficult for a teacher if children span the normal range of IQ. Small classes do not in fact

lead to teachers adopting the acclaimed ‘interactive’ teaching methods;(23) and class sizes in Japan

average over 40 while those of around 55 in communist China apparently work well (Walsh, 1995).

For England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools reported their conclusion by 1977 that

mixed-ability teaching (at least for mathematics) primarily required “exceptional” teachers. Parents

often seem to favour the small class sizes maintained by private schools; but such schools are

streams in their own right – usually having no pupils of below-average intelligence.



Practical reasons: bowing to

convenience. A third reason for

psychology’s tendency to lose touch with

intelligence is practical. Psychology’s

perennial problem is that of finding

subjects who can be tested relatively

cheaply. Medicine solves this problem

by using patients in hospital beds who

will often co-operate with research while they hope for treatment. Behaviourists

solved the problem by studying rats;

Piagetians solved it by studying infants;

and cognitivists and the more advanced

constructivists of social psychology

solve it by hardly studying people at all –

just building their computer ‘models’ or

‘analysing’ passages of ‘discourse’

selected for their ideological

convenience. Clearly, differerential

psychology should have followed Burt

down the road to regular involvement in

schools that he had opened up: most

psychology departments should

probably be located in or near a school –

just as most medical faculties adjoin

hospitals. But differential psychology

and personality psychology rejected

Burt’s lead and chose for too long the

superficially academic route of keeping

up with the latest alleged advances in

conditioning theory, ‘social perception’ or

fissiparative neuropsychology. Thus

differential psychology lost its natural

subjects. This was disastrous for the

study of g differences. It is only in

normal schools that it is at all easy to

study anything like the full range of

human mental abilities. Many kinds of

merely academic psychology can be

done in the laboratory or in projects with

handy collections of patients or

employees (where selection, self-

selection and resulting range-restrictions

may be positive assets to the researcher

of group effects).


some interesting ideas. especially about psychology being near schools, so that one can avoid WEIRD problems, cf.



Overall i definitely learned alot from reading this rather short book. The authors endless complaining about leftism, socialism etc. can get tiring. Especially if one looks at his blog as well.

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