Quotes from Nyborg (ed.) The Scientific Study of Human Nature (

The Scientific Study of Human Nature – Helmuth Nuborg ed

I had thought about reading this book, but decided against it due to its age (1997). The reasoning is that significantly more data has emerged since that time (15 years!), and so the book generally may be out-dated. However, some particular chapters still sounded so interesting to me that I cudn’t help but read them. The quotes below are from them.

“The description of the behavioral scientists contrasted that of the physicists
and biologists in almost every conceivable way. Behavioral scientists tended to
be highly gregarious, and to be socially active at an early age. Often they were
acknowledged leaders already in school, where they practiced intense and
extensive early dating. They were deeply concerned with human relations,
showed many dependent attitudes, much rebelliousness, and considerable
helplessness. They tended to be quite openly aggressive, and to experience a
high divorce rate (41%).
Roe further noted that very few of these highly gifted scientists came from
the South of the U.S.A., none were Catholics, five came from Jewish homes,
and the rest were raised in Protestant homes. However, irrespective of
background very few scientists had any serious interest in religious matters.
Table 20.1 (from Nyborg, 1991) summarizes, in modified form, Roe’s
observations of the overall pattern of representation of abilities and personality
in the different academic disciplines, and contrasts them with data for blue-
collar workers.
The table illustrates how abilities clearly distinguish natural from social
scientists. Roe, in fact, even found group differences within these
categorizations. To get that far, special tests to map exceptional verbal (V),
spatial (S), and mathematical (M) abilities had to be constructed by the
Educational Testing Service, as currently available standard tests were much
too easy for many of these eminent scientists. The physicists without question
scored highest on these demanding tests, but theoretical physicists performed
relatively better on verbal tests, and experimental physicists relatively better on
spatial and mathematical tests. Among the scientists, the biologists,
physiologists and botanists scored relatively higher on verbal, and geneticists
and biochemists relatively higher on nonverbal tests. Social scientists obtained
a significantly lower overall IQ score than physicists. However, even within this
group of scientists, social psychologists and anthropologists performed
relatively better on verbal tests, and experimental psychologists better on
spatial and mathematical tests. Some of the anthropologists were, in fact,
unable to understand the mathematical tasks, whereas the most difficult of
these items were too easy for some of the physicists. Here, perhaps, we have
identified an important factor in the differential developmental status and
sophistication of various scientific areas!” (p. 432)

“Postwar (but perhaps not prewar) fertility, as measured by number of
offspring, is lower in high IQ individuals (Vining, 1982, 1984), but their life
expectancy is higher (Danmarks Statistik, 1985). There is a tendency for high
IQ boys to behave less physically aggressive, and for high IQ girls to behave
more physically aggressive than the average (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). Roe
(1952b) noted that exceptionally creative natural scientists tend to have few
children, social scientists more, but lower IQ.
What about sociability? Highly creative children in elementary schools tend
to feel estranged from their teachers and peers (Torrance, 1962), as do creative
adolescents (Getzels & Jackson, 1962) and high IQ children. Cattell and
Butcher (1968) found, like Roe, that adult research scientists tend to be

skeptical, withdrawn, unsociable (McClelland 1962; Taylor & Barron 1963;
Terman & Oden 1959) critical, precise, apt to express socially rather
uncongenial and “undemocratic” attitudes (Van Zelst & Kerr, 1954)
associated with dominance (Rushton, Murray, & Paunonen, 1983; see also
chapter 19), to hold the belief that most other people are rather stupid, and to
show a surprising readiness to face endless difficulties and social discourage-
ment in order to have it their way. Barron (1965) finds that the original
individual rejects regulation by others, and has a strong need for personal
mastery, involving self-centeredness and self-realization. MacKinnon (1962,
1964, 1970) finds profound skepticism, rebelliousness, self-assertiveness, and
independency characteristic for highly creative architects, already manifested
clearly in school and onwards (Dudek & Hall, 1984).” (434-5)

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