Intelligence and PISA/TIMSS etc. at the individual level

There’s a large number of papers about the relationship between national intelligence and national scholastic scores, and to which degree the latter indexes the former. Some typical papers:

Because of papers like this, of which there’s 100s, it is actually quite difficult to find studies that relate scholastic tests to intelligence at the individual level since there’s no simple way to remove the national-level results from the search results (as far as I can work out!). However, John Fuerst was able to find two:

The first reports several latent correlations, finding β = .70 or so. The second reports some correlations between Raven’s SPM and PISA, at r = .56 or so. So the first is already adjusted for measurement error because it’s SEM based. However, the intelligence tests were pretty short, so there is some construct invalidity (i.e., it’s not measuring a broad enough g). In the second case, one has to adjust for measurement error and construct invalidity. Probably in both cases, doing these adjustments would bring up the estimated true correlation to about .80 or so. This is the typical value seen for other achievement tests and intelligence batteries in SEM. E.g.:

These studies generally find r = .70 to .80, towards the latter when stronger methods are used to estimate the latent relationship instead of the observed.

As a die-hard Jensenist, I will of course note that Jensen wrote back in 1969:

The Stanford-Binet and similar intelligence tests predict various measures of scholastic achievement with an average validity coefficient of about .5 to .6, and in longitudinal data comprising intelligence test and achievement measures on the same children over a number of years, the multiple correlation between intelligence and scholastic achievement is almost as high as the reliability of the measures will permit.

For the reader who wants a lot more, there is a 100+ page book chapter on it from 1993:

  • Jensen, A. R. (1993). “Psychometric g and achievement“. In B. R. Gifford (Ed.), Policy perspectives on educational testing. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Pp. 117-227.


Medium censors Coronavirus post

I hate censorship, so here I provide backups. Note that Twitter censors linking to the archived version, giving users a false error message.

Twitter apparently auto-throttles tweets that link to these archives. Cannot even embed it in WordPress, and no reactions to it, so probably not shown to followers.


  • Original:
  • version:
    • Others:
    • Or use any URL shortener to avoid the Twitter blockade, e.g.
    • Seems that IA didn’t save the figures properly
    • Reposted it, looks identical to me
  • I had the tab open from yesterday, and was able to convert to a PDF (Medium makes this difficult)
    • evidence over hysteria — covid-19 – six four six nine – medium
    • Firefox built in fullpage screenshot works well, but this page was too long for it to handle, cut off before the end
    • I had to try at least 3 different extensions for Firefox. Ended up with which works but isn’t that pretty



Bo Winegard firing — time for action

So it finally came to pass. This has been a long time in the coming. It’s been perhaps 6 months since a small group of people started targeting Bo Winegard specifically. The usual method is used:

When the newspaper article was emailed by persons unknown to my university’s provost and president, I was called for a meeting. They were not terribly pleased, but the meeting was uneventful and I was told to be more strategic in my navigation of such a sensitive topic. I agreed that I would try. A few months later, however, someone using a pseudonym began emailing my provost, my president, and my entire department (but not me) links to my articles (including those written for this outlet) and screenshots of “offensive” tweets. My anonymous accuser held me to be guilty of all kinds of treachery and threatened to inform the board of trustees of my sins.

Exemplary behavior and personal virtues will NOT SAVE YOU:

I followed all of the protocols of academia. I published articles in peer-reviewed journals. I shared my ideas, always politely, on Twitter, and I encouraged people to debate me and to criticize my ideas. And I was fired. If it can happen to me, then it can happen to any academic who challenges the prevailing views of their discipline. You may disagree with everything I believe, say, and write, but it is in everyone’s interests that you support my freedom to believe, say, and write it.

In this regard, Bo Winegard follows the path of Noah Carl, another early career mild mannered but heterodox academic fired after woke harassment. They are even associated with the same Magazine, Quillette, a sort of center-left but anti-Woke loose network. For those historically inclined, this is kind of the modern day version of the anti-communist liberalism of McCarthy era.

Who was behind the campaign this time? Seems it was not Oliver D. Smith, my regular stalker. Instead, seems it was another deranged person, who goes by the name AfroSapiens. He posted one of the emails he has been sending to Bo’s university:

Name is a pseudonym, presumably.

He later deleted the tweet, but I archived it:

He also deleted most of his Twitter accounts. There doesn’t seem to be archives of all of them:

  • (main)
  • (the one below)
  • (the one above)
  • Various others used at times

The accounts it is connected with.

200 USD bounty

I have posted a 200 USD bounty for anyone who sends me the name and proof of this guy’s identity. The purpose is possible legal actions against him.

Meanwhile, help Bo out!

Bo was quick to initiate some fundraisers. You got 2 options: one-time donation, and going steady. Knowing that trad dating is good, you choose going steady, right?


Human Biodiversity 2020 March Research Fundraiser!

We need more money to collect data etc., so donate us some! We set up a charity (US) for this.

  • ‘Official’ tweet:
  • Official link:
    • Shortlink:

See also the regular donations page




Open data and behavioral genetics: room for improvement!

Open data is a fundamental part of getting science to work well. Primary reasons for this:

  • Redundancy is data archiving. Most data are lost because no backups exist!
  • Easy access to 3rd parties. For new analyses or error checking previous work. Scientists are human and often refuse access to data for hostile outsiders, preventing them from error checking their own work.
Unfortunately, there are only a few behavioral datasets in existence owing to not generally collecting datasets for multiple family members at a time. Some of the public or partially public ones are:
  • NLSYs (National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth) as described in
  • NCPP (National Collaborative Perinatal Project) The data files are really annoying to work with (fixed width format), but some people have released 3rd party versions that are easier
  • TEDS (Twins Early Development Study) is closed
    • But, part of it used to be partially public at this but removed now, I have put a copy here
    • Update: it is now moved to here and still available
  • PT (Project Talent), but so far not released I think
  • More? Contact me

New paper out: Intelligence and Religiosity among Dating Site Users (with Jordan Lasker)

We sought to assess whether previous findings regarding the relationship between cognitive ability and religiosity could be replicated in a large dataset of online daters (maximum n = 67k). We found that self-declared religious people had lower IQs than nonreligious people (atheists and agnostics). Furthermore, within most religious groups, a negative relationship between the strength of religious conviction and IQ was observed. This relationship was absent or reversed in nonreligious groups. A factor of religiousness based on five questions correlated at −0.38 with IQ after adjusting for reliability (−0.30 before). The relationship between IQ and religiousness was not strongly confounded by plausible demographic covariates (β = −0.24 in final model versus −0.30 without covariates).

Keywords: intelligence; religion; religious belief; atheism; agnosticism; Christianity; Catholicism; Hinduism; Judaism; Islam; OKCupid; cognitive ability

So, yet another OKCupid dataset paper!

People often ask me what the IQ items in the OKCupid dataset are. Here they are:

  1. Which is bigger, the earth or the sun?
  2. STALE is to STEAL as 89475 is to what?
  3. What is next in this series? 1, 4, 10, 19, 31, __
  4. If you turn a left-handed glove inside out, it fits on your left or right hand?
  5. In the line ‘’Wherefore art thou Romeo?’’ what does ‘’wherefore’’ mean?
  6. How many fortnights are in a year?
  7. Half of all policemen are thieves and half of all policemen are murderers. Does it follow logically that all policemen are criminals?
  8. Which is longer, a mile or a kilometer?
  9. When birds stand on power lines and don’t get hurt, it’s most likely because of what?
  10. Etymology is?
  11. If some men are doctors and some doctors are tall, does it follow that some men are tall?
  12. A little grade 10 science: what is the Ideal Gas Law?
  13. If you flipped three pennies, what would be the odds that they all came out the same?
  14. Which is the day before the day after yesterday?

Main figure

Figure 1. Mean cognitive ability by religious orientation and certainty. Error bars are 95% confidence intervals. Shaded regions are the 95% confidence intervals for the individual-level regression results. Groups without at least five cases are not shown.


Video talk


The many lies of Ben van der Merwe

Ben van der Merwe (covered by others here, here), the social justice activist journalist, has been working for some years now to produce various hit pieces on researchers associated with the London Conference on Intelligence (which now has a Wikipedia page thanks to him). His efforts have largely succeeded in that his pieces and the various copies by other journalists resulted in shut down of our yearly conference at University College London (UCL). The impact on the actual conference proceedings were however fairly minimal because we simply moved it to another location the next year. Ben uses the usual journalist method of making things seem outlandish when actually they are quite close to mainstream or expert opinion on the topic (see Woodley et al 2018, Carl and Woodley 2019). Ben is also quite sloppy, in his recent 2019 piece described Ed Dutton as being an “English aristocrat”. On Twitter, he also said he was living in Norway, though the article says Finland (the latter is correct).

Ben is also a rather deceptive person. I have some first hand evidence of this not known to the public, so I shall post it here in case someone will be writing hit pieces on Ben. While digging around for content for his first series of hit pieces (in the Private Eye etc.), he emailed various researchers, including yours truly:

Ben van der Merwe <> Jan 5, 2018, 12:36 PM to me, emilowk, emil
Dear Dr. Kirkegaard,

I’m a reporter with Private Eye. I wanted to enquire about a conference referenced on your website, the London Conference on Intelligence 2017. If you have time, I would like to ask you just three questions about the conference.

1. Would I be correct in thinking that the journalist Toby Young attended the 2017 conference?
2. Would it be possible for you to send me a copy of the 2017 conference programme?
3. What role, if any, do the Ulster Institute for Social Research and Mankind Quarterly have in organising and funding the London Conference on Intelligence? Does UCL have knowledge of this association?

Thank you for your time,

Best wishes

So, we have Ben here addressing me as Dr. Curious choice since of course I hold no PhD or other doctorate, a fact no one is trying to hide (rather I take some pleasure in this fact). So is Ben trying to flatter me, or does he genuinely think I have a doctorate? We know which one it is because Ben wrote a colleague an email around the same time:

Dear Professor X,

I am a reporter with the Private Eye, conducting an investigation into the London Conference on Intelligence. I would like to ask you three short questions, if you have the time.

1. Why was Emil Kirkegaard invited to speak at ISIR 2017 in Montreal? Is it not true that his highest qualification is a Bachelors’ degree in Linguistics, and that he has shown himself to have a poor grasp of scientific ethics in his handling of the data from OKCupid?
2. What role, as a board member of the ISIR, did you play in selecting speakers for the Montreal conference?
3. How would you describe your relationship with Richard Lynn?

So we see that Ben was indeed being deceptive above. He maybe tried a different scheme a while before that, where some mysterious student wrote me:

Frederick Nietzsche <>Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 2:58 PM to emil
Dear Dr Kirkegaard,

I’m a post-graduate psychology student at UCL, with a particular interest in the intersection of genetics, culture, and intelligence. I have been reading your contributions on OpenPsych for a while, and only just found out about LCI. I wanted to ask if you had one planned for 2018, and if you have any reading material from the 2017 conference.

Best wishes,

It features the same use of doctor, and obvious fake name (even incorrect) gave it away. I asked for ID and the person sent this photo, so I guess someone could attempt to find a photo of Ben’s hands and see if these match or not.

Around the same time, another journalist email of interest:

Harry Yorke <>Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 2:39 PMto emil

Mr Kirkegaard,

I am contacting you on behalf of The Daily Telegraph (London) concerning an article we intend to publish tomorrow on the London Conference on Intelligence hosted at UCL.

In this article we intend to allege that you are a eugenicist whose presence at a conference on a university campus is inappropriate.

We also intend to publish extracts from a blog you wrote in 2012, in which you stated:

“One can have sex with some rather young ones (say, any consenting child in puberty) without any moral problems, especially when one is young oneself.

“For the rest, one is left to masturbate to porn, perhaps child porn (animated or not), and regular porn. That sucks, and there is nothing to do about it. Perhaps a compromise is having sex with a sleeping child without them knowing it (so, using sleeping medicine). If they dont notice it is difficult to see how they cud be harmed, even if it is rape. One must distinguish between rape becus the other was disconsenting (wanting to not have sex), and rape becus the other is not consenting, but not disconseting either (so, unaware of the action becus of sleep or coma or something like that). There is also the possibility of bodily harm that will be there after the person wakes up. This is especially the case with small children since their bodily openings are not large enuf for a regular sized male penis. To avoid this one shud not penetrate.”

We also intend to allege that in 2012 a picture posted on your Facebook page depicted you smiling in a photograph in which a friend performed a Nazi salute.

I would appreciate if you could respond to these allegations in full.

As a fair and responsible publisher, I would ask that you respond no later than 5pm (GMT) today so that we can incorporate your response into our article.

Yours sincerely,

Harry Yorke

I think there were a few more like this one, but I don’t recall them exactly.


On Nazism and Jews

This sort of thing should not be necessary. However, due to long time mentally ill online stalker Oliver D. Smith (see here), and various people who repeat his lies and distortions, writing something like this has become necessary.

At various times, my colleagues are accused of being connected to me, “well-known neo-Nazi” (as one random blog put it). So here’s a blogpost summarizing my various statements on Nazis, Hitler and Jews.

A little personal history

My great grandfather was a somewhat famous Danish artist (Harald Engman) who got into trouble for making fun of Nazis. He had to flee to Sweden. I have posted about it publicly:

He was married to a partially Jewish women (i.e. my great grandmother, paternal side). I took a genetic test to confirm this, and it shows I have partial Jewish ancestry. Thus, the critics have a rather poor taste in calling someone a Nazi, when the person is both Jewish and has family history of anti-Nazism! Curiously, Helmuth Nyborg, who is the most famous Danish IQ researcher, family was also active in the Danish resistance. Lesson: anti-authoritarians often end up battling totalitarians, whatever uniforms these come in.

Jewish intelligence and achievement

I have written in support of Jewish achievement many times, both in published work and on Twitter. It’s somewhat of a big mystery why someone who is allegedly a Nazi would publish research showing Ashkenazi Jews to be smarter than Europeans for genetic reasons. I have published two studies that investigated Jews or mentioned them:


Nazi misbehavior

Furthermore, I have often been critical on Hitler and Nazis publicly:

Thus, by published record, I am obviously not very supportive of Nazism, and fairly pro-Jewish as far as HBDers go. My favorite scientist is Arthur Jensen (I created his memorial site), who was 25% Jewish (and 25% Danish). I have been critical of Kevin MacDonald-type group selection models publicly, for instance in this blogpost.

Data coder needed [job ad]

Data coder needed

Research assistant job for 15 USD/hour.

I need to estimate the percentage of English speakers per country for use in a study as a control variable. I want to use Wikitravel information. We find phrases discussing the English ability of ~230 countries/territories, such as:

  • “English is spoken by almost no one, even in the capital.”
  • “English is the most popular foreign language. [] study English in school from an early age, and it is commonly understood in []. Older people are generally unable to converse in proper English and some knowledge of Hebrew will come in handy. All street and road signs (and many others) have English names, as well as the [] and Arabic names.”
  • “Nearly all [] (including the totality of people you are likely to encounter– taxi and minibus drivers, shopkeepers, restaurant and hotel personnel, and government employees) speak serviceable English with a heavy Caribbean accent.”

Phrases need to be coded on a 1 to 5 scale of “English familiarity”.

This is based on gestalt impression given from the quoted discussion of age distribution, regional distribution, schooling, official language status, ability to get around with English, etc.: This is medium complicate task involving reading excerpts and making a judgement.

It needs to be done as soon as possible, preferably within 2 weeks.

Contact:, title as “data coder”


Against melatonin

So, some smart people say melatonin is useful for sleep deprivation. I submit that it doesn’t do much of anything. Take a random meta-analysis cited in favor:

Exogenous melatonin reportedly induces drowsiness and sleep, and may ameliorate sleep disturbances, including the nocturnal awakenings associated with old age. However, existing studies on the soporific efficacy of melatonin have been highly heterogeneous in regard to inclusion and exclusion criteria, measures to evaluate insomnia, doses of the medication, and routes of administration. We reviewed and analyzed (by meta-analysis) available information on effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep. A MEDLINE search (1980 to December 2003) provided English-language articles, supplemented by personal files maintained by the authors. The analysis used information derived from 17 different studies (involving 284 subjects) that satisfied inclusion criteria. Sleep onset latency, total sleep duration, and sleep efficiency were selected as the outcome measures. The study effect size was taken to be the difference between the response on placebo and the mean response on melatonin for each outcome measured. Melatonin treatment significantly reduced sleep onset latency by 4.0 min (95% CI 2.5, 5.4); increased sleep efficiency by 2.2% (95% CI 0.2, 4.2), and increased total sleep duration by 12.8 min (95% CI 2.9, 22.8). Since 15 of the 17 studies enrolled healthy subjects or people with no relevant medical condition other than insomnia, the analysis was also done including only these 15 studies. The sleep onset results were changed to 3.9 min (95% CI (2.5, 5.4)); sleep efficiency increased to 3.1% (95% CI (0.7, 5.5)); sleep duration increased to 13.7 min (95% CI (3.1, 24.3)).

So, 17 really small studies, total n = 284, so mean of 16.7 per study. They measure some obvious outcomes, and report some > .05 findings. But look at those confidence intervals, two of them are pretty close to 0, indicating a dodgy p value. Sleep onset is self-reported, so who knows about the bias in self-report. We already know science reports too many positive findings, and the strength of the positive bias in effect size estimation depends on sample size. So, we expect a lot of bias here, and we see almost no effect. Summa summarum, to a skeptical reader, the above isn’t much evidence of anything.

So, melatonin is sold over the counter. So tons of people buy it and take it in various forms. But still, medical sites tell us that:

Taking too much melatonin can disrupt your circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycle). It may also cause other unwanted side effects. So, yes, you can technically overdose on melatonin.
However, a melatonin overdose can be hard to define since there isn’t an official standard safe dose for everyone.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of melatonin. A dose that might trigger side effects in one person may have little effect on someone else.
Young children should avoid melatonin unless otherwise directed by a doctor. Doses between 1 and 5 milligrams (mg) may cause seizures or other complications for young children. In adults, doses in the 30-mg range may be harmful.
In general, it’s better to start low and move up slowly and carefully if you see encouraging results.

I looked at a bunch of sites, and none of them can point to any actual overdose effects, all of them just repeat some random doctor telling us what he thinks might happen. Sounds like bullocks. The listed symptoms of overdose are typical psychosomatic stuff: nausea, dizziness, headaches, irritability or anxiety, diarrhea, joint pain. These things can result from pretty much anything, including worrying about effects of overdose of a harmful drug.

But it gets worse. You know those over the counter things you buy? Yeah, some researchers tested 31 of them and:

Melatonin content was found to range from −83% to +478% of the labelled content. Additionally, lot-to-lot variable within a particular product varied by as much as 465%. This variability did not appear to be correlated with manufacturer or product type. Furthermore, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), a related indoleamine and controlled substance used in the treatment of several neurological disorders, was identified in eight of the supplements at levels of 1 to 75 μg.

So, let’s summarize:

  • People widely claim efficacy of some drug.
  • But evidence is really flimsy. Even Scott Alexander has to come up with a dodgy nonlinear hidden moderator model.
  • It’s sold over the counter in really varying amounts and widely bought.
  • Yet no one really knows if one can overdose on it. Would seem that one really has to try hard considering that no one seems to know of even a single serious adverse outcome. The best I could find was a case-report of “a 66-year-old man who became lethargic and disoriented after taking 24 mg melatonin to aid relaxation and sleep the evening before prostate surgery. He recovered uneventfully, and after the scheduled surgery he resumed his regular practice of taking 6 mg melatonin with prescription sedative drugs.”. A guy who’s about to have surgery (for cancer?) who had a temporary state of mental instability, hardly suggestive of adverse effect of melatonin.
  • Our prior that any given drug works well is very pessimistic.

So, yeah, I don’t think melatonin supplements do much of anything. Conceivably you might get some kind of effect if you took 1000 times the amount. So let’s try something fairly radical, in the spirit of great science.

These are claimed to contain 5mg per thing, and there’s 14 in a pack, so that’s 70mg. This would be something like 70/0.3 = 233.33 times the most effective dose big Scott recommends. The nice doctor above says 30mg might be dangerous, so this is 2.33 times as much, or 2.92 the guy from the case report. I ate all of them in a few minutes and then waited around while doing some bioinformatics. And nothing happened.