Tuesday 13 May 2014

IQ Denegrationism stopped in its tracks


I am supposed to be quietly reading Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” and had only made a few comments amounting to 5,500 words when I got distracted by kind persons telling me what was in the early reviews, which are presumably written by those who are brighter, harder working, or all those things plus eminent enough to have been sent advance copies.

Matt Ridley’s review in The Times contains this final paragraph:

The average IQ of a group, a team or a race matters little, if at all. What counts is how well they communicate, collaborate and exchange ideas. Give me a hundred thickos who talk to each other, rather than a hundred clever-clogs who don’t. This collaboration is surely the true secret of human achievement and the true reason that race does not count, not because we are all identical inside our skulls.

Prof Richard Lynn writes in to say:

Matt Ridley (May 12) writes that “The average IQ of a group, a team or a race matters little, if at all”. This contention is fine, so long as the group does not mind having poor educational attainment, low income, widespread malnutrition, poor health services, high child mortality, short life expectancy, and negligible scientific and cultural achievements.

There is a huge amount of research demonstrating that all of these are significantly determined by the population’s IQ. For instance, the PISA results on the national attainments of 15 year olds in reading, maths and science published in December, 2013, were largely attributable to national differences in intelligence.

The highest scores were obtained by the East Asian nations of China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, who have the highest IQs, averaging 105. The European nations with an average IQ of 100 came next, except in the Balkans where the IQ falls to around 92 and the PISA results were somewhat lower. Behind these came a number of countries in South Asia, North Africa and Latin America where the IQs are in the range between 80 and 90, and the PISA results were lower still.

These national IQ differences are well established and were published in The Times on 10 November, 2003 but remain, pace Matt Ridley, the elephant in the room.

I feel it is only fair to warn IQ Denigrationists that I have them in my sights, and will have no hesitation forward them emails of a combative nature. Give me one clever clogs in Inmarsat who can make new inferences using Doppler shift on signals received from an errant airline rather than 100 duller ones chattering together about alien abductions.

Now, back to Wade’s comments on tribalism.


  1. There are crazies on both sides of this so-called debate. Obviously genetic variation is responsible for some of the variation in measured intelligence. But, obviously environmental variation is responsible for what can not be attributed to genetic variation.

    A big problem is that a lot of the studies are flawed and don't show what the researchers think they show, but this is a problem with a lot of research in a lot of fields.

    Most people don't even understand, for example, that if two variables have a correlation of 0.7, that means that they share only 49 percent of their variation, not 70 percent. (That is because one is the square root of the other.)