Thursday 16 April 2015

Credit, where credit is due, to Lyndsey Layton

After the “poverty shrinks children’s brains” paper in Nature Neuroscience, I thought that once again in my blog I was setting the record straight, but only to my esteemed, select and highly refined readers, and to no one else. Naturally, I cherish my audience, but I cannot help but hanker for a stadium full of cheering fans, chanting “Avoid confounding variables”. Ian Deary, an actual rock-star psychologist, could probably suggest something more anthemic.

As per usual, I offered the authors the right of reply (which I normally post up without further comment) and had a friendly exchange with the lead author, to whom the blog is of course still open, without rush or deadlines.

Then a strange thing happened. I was contacted by Lyndsey Layton (@lyndseylayton)  of the Washington Post who had covered the original paper. She said she wanted to write a follow on story in greater depth. As far as I recall, this is only the second or third time that a main stream publication has contacted me on an intelligence related story. Lyndsey conducted a good interview over the phone, noting my points and correctly recording what I had said.

It has appeared in the Washington Post today.

A small step for a blogger, a giant leap for education.


  1. Ian Deary, an actual rock-star psychologist, could probably suggest something more anthemic.

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  2. Well done! It's so hard to know how this sort of information will be used (or interpreted) when it is discussed in the media. Such a fine line between getting a respectful hearing, or being denounced - Steven Pinker gets away with saying (true) things that lesser people would lose their jobs over. Long may you stay on the right side of the line!

  3. Lion of the Judah-sphere17 April 2015 at 11:20

    Your thoughts will likely always run counter to the mainstream, but it's good you're getting some notice for telling the truth.

  4. Yet the critics' own anosognosia provides evidence that it does indeed take something more than IQ to be able to make sense. They all likely have IQ's well above-average themselves, and yet are unable to see the question clearly even when it is put in front of them. They retreat into irrelevancies such as "children from any income level can learn" (who the hell ever said they couldn't?), and "the brain is incredibly able to to be molded by experiences."

    There is therefore some other characteristic, perhaps humility or honesty or courage, which is necessary to see in front of you.

  5. Welcome to my blog. It is bewildering to encounter such belle indifference, but often it is simply that the academic milieu in the behavioural sciences is vehemently opposed to genetic explanations, which they see as a nuisance at best, so there is little open-minded examination of hypotheses, despite this being the academic ideal. Woodley argues that by being "clever sillies" they advertise their altruism, and that might be part of it. Most people want to be on the side of the angels, and I suppose they need endless reassurance that it is permissible to consider hypotheses even if they find them repugnant.