344 COMMENTS

  1. So, is this entry a follow up on Dawkins’ comment on how more Jews received the Nobel Prize than the Muslim world combined? heh.

  2. This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted on RDFRS?

  3. Scientifically, its very interesting.

    But following the recent Twitter shit storm, is it politically wise to post it now?

    (The video was posted on YouTube nearly 2 years ago)

  4. In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted on RDFRS?

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came last at 70.
    Is this ‘racist’, or a plain statement of fact?

    Politically correct people may find this ‘objectionable’ yet it cannot be refuted

  5. In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted on RDFRS?

    Because many of us follow scientific evidence without a politically correct filter. Pinker’s books are brilliant.

  6. In reply to #4 by lessstressed: Now wait just a cotton-picking minute there. Was the IQ test for the Australian native based on the Western elitist IQ “see how smart I am” MENSA group? Or was it dumbed down for the poor little black blokes? They have just the same brain as ours – they just use it in a different way. Let’s see how long Steven Pinker, using his high/Jewish/IQ gets on if stranded in the middle of the Australian desert with out his mobile phone or Internet access. I’d give him 24 hours – max.

    In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted o…

  7. The average IQ-number of the Askhenazi is clear, but what it means, and what causes it has never been sorted out scientifically. The whole lecture is a large stacks of mights and maybe’s, and an even larger heap of inuendo. That’s Pinker all over. He would not have said te same if he had been before an other audience – certainly not before one that had read Gould’s scientific work, which he lied about for a cheap laugh.

    I have no problems with scientific facts, but which scientific evidence are you talking about?

    And how is it an argument to call someone politically correct?

  8. In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”,

    Have you actually read The Blank Slate? I got grief from a left wing friend of mine when she saw me reading it but when I explained what Pinker actually said she agreed. I don’t know what “evo-psych” means or why that is considered a bad thing but Pinker was very clear that saying genetic factors influence things like intelligence (something virtually no modern scientist would argue with) is in no way a justification for racism or social darwinism. In fact, his discussion of how biology simply sets the range of behavior is one of the best scientific arguments against racism and social darwinism that I’ve ever read.

    sexist against E. Spelke,

    Who is E Speke and what did Pinker do that was sexist against her? Have you read Pinker’s book The Better Angels? His analysis on the causes of violence lays a lot of the blame on male machismo. Its one of the best scientific supports for some feminist arguments I’ve ever read.

  9. In reply to #7 by siger:

    And how is it an argument to call someone politically correct?

    Because your level of disgust can not be intellectually supported. Gould suffered the same political bias. You might not like the implication, but that does not make it untrue. The whole point that certain diseases can be traced through genetic factors, why can’t intelligence be a factor as well via selective pressures.

  10. I read “The Blank Slate” and “How The Mind Works”. Great books. Pinker is an honest guy. And who cares if there are racial differences for IQ? Everyone should have rights, even animals. So facts or their possibility don’t bother me.

  11. In reply to #9 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #7 by siger:

    And how is it an argument to call someone politically correct?

    Because your level of disgust can not be intellectually supported. Gould suffered the same political bias. You might not like the implication, but that does not make it untrue.

    Could you please inform me which political bias you would appreciate?
    And what exactly is not untrue and why not?

  12. In reply to #11 by siger:

    Could you please inform me which political bias you would appreciate?

    When it comes to science, how about none.

    And what exactly is not untrue and why not?

    As a general statement, much of the criticism of the Left to these types of things have to do with their implications and little to do with the evidence supporting them. Science should be a tool to uncovering the truth. Politics should be left to determining what to do with it.

  13. In reply to #7 by siger:

    The average IQ-number of the Askhenazi is clear, but what it means, and what causes it has never been sorted out scientifically. The whole lecture is a large stacks of mights and maybe’s, and an even larger heap of inuendo. That’s Pinker all over. He would not have said te same if he had been before…

    ” certainly not before one that had read Gould’s scientific work “

    The Mismeasure Of Man???

    Hardly scientific.

  14. Sigh!

    I see this discussion is falling out into the usual ideological slug fest one can see on this site often!

    Is there one psychometrician here?

  15. In reply to #12 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #11 by siger:

    Could you please inform me which political bias you would appreciate?

    When it comes to science, how about none.

    I’ll remember when it comes to science.

  16. In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

    I read TBS and I don’t see the relevance of your comment on your “left wing friend” nor of the “feminism” in TBA.

    About Elisabeth Spelke (with l and hairdo worse than P.) and Pinker see http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html

    Regarding evolutionary psychology I recommend

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/10/ep-the-fundamental-failure-of-the-evolutionary-psychology-premise/

    http://www.amazon.com/Evolutionary-Psychology-Maladapted-Life-Mind/dp/0262514214

  17. In reply to #15 by siger:

    I’ll remember when it comes to science.

    Your bias would necessitate you from seeing what actual science is when it conflicts with your political worldview . Just ask yourself why you are so enraged by the idea that IQ is inheritable and that a sub population might have a gene(s) that was selected for intelligence. There’s plenty of data to show the first part is true. The second part is trickier, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Pinker gave compelling reasons why it might be true with actual data.

  18. In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came last at 70. Is this ‘racist’, or a plain statement of fact?

    Politically correct people may find this ‘objectionable’ yet it cannot be refuted

    There are many different attributes which contribute to “Human intelligence”, none of which are properly served by being boiled down to a single number.

    Almost all IQ tests (despite being supposed to be unrelated to cultural and educational factors) are the result of things which can be trained, that is, people tend to get better at them the more of them they do. And schools and colleges by their nature provide training in the things IQ tests measure.

    If you are analysing different but similar things, you should only change one variable at a time. Comparing a small racial group with no tradition of written culture and which has been excluded from (Western) Australian society until very recently, directly with a group which has been integrated in Western culture and its educational system for centuries (not ignoring the persecution they have experienced at times in their history, but they have always been able to find somewhere where they were accepted enough to benefit from being part of Western society), means you are dismissing all environmental contributory factors and changing multiple background variables.

    If you want a proper picture of a racial group’s intelligence you need a variety of tests on a large group of that race. While it is quite easy to perform tests on large groups of Ashkenazim, I suggest it is quite difficult to find large groups of Australian Aborigines with similar enough backgrounds to make comparison meaningful

  19. In reply to #17 by Skeptic:

    Just ask yourself why you are so enraged by the idea that IQ is inheritable and that a sub population might have a gene(s) that was selected for intelligence.

    Do you believe that I am not aware of my outrage or its reason? How silly.

    I get enraged for god-genes, aniston-genes, homo-genes, agression-genes, grandmother genes, intelligence-genes and al those other oversimplifications still circulating in the popcircuit. Of course genes are inherited. So are a lot of other things, all the way up to culture etcetera. Do you realize that your liver has the same genes as your brain?

  20. In reply to #18 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came last at 70. Is this ‘racist’, or a plain statement of fact?

    Politically correct people may f…

    ” Almost all IQ tests (despite being supposed to be unrelated to cultural and educational factors) are the result of things which can be trained, that is, people tend to get better at them the more of them they do.”

    Really?

    Forward and reverse span with varying numbers?

    Reaction times on varying tasks?

    Rotating objects in three dimensional space; varying objects, of course?

    Just for starters.

  21. In reply to #17 by Skeptic:

    The second part is trickier, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Pinker gave compelling reasons why it might be true with actual data.

    Compelling to whom? Isn’t that what we call bias?

  22. In reply to #6 by stuhillman:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed: Now wait just a cotton-picking minute there. Was the IQ test for the Australian native based on the Western elitist IQ “see how smart I am” MENSA group? Or was it dumbed down for the poor little black blokes? They have just the same brain as ours – they just use i…

    I don’t know how the tests were applied and also have serious doubts about their applicability; just so you know, I also had nothing to do with that survey so can’t agree or disagree. Nor, sadly does my IQ approach that of Ashkenazi Jews!
    Perhaps a more dispassionate examination of the evidence is in order?
    What relevance desert survival has in the debate escapes me, though of course all would agree that high IQ may not be of use in that scenario…
    Siger’s post was (to me) a bit over-the-top in accusing Pinker of both racism and sexism re Spelke- here’s a clip from his opening statement—-

    “I am a feminist. I believe that women have been oppressed, discriminated against, and harassed for thousands of years. I believe that the two waves of the feminist movement in the 20th century are among the proudest achievements of our species, and I am proud to have lived through one of them, including the effort to increase the representation of women in the sciences.”

    Does that sound ‘sexist’??

  23. In reply to #14 by Neodarwinian:

    Sigh!

    I see this discussion is falling out into the usual ideological slug fest one can see on this site often!

    Is there one psychometrician here?

    Guess it was bound to happen- when an extreme reaction laced with ad homs appears, some feel compelled to challenge. You know, ‘disgust’ ‘terrible’ ‘sexist’ ‘revisionist’ ‘despicable’ hardly present a well balanced argument, do they?

    RDFRS mission statement asks for reasoned respectful discussion, not inflammatory rhetoric.

  24. For the record, my parents are both Ashkenazi Jews, and I openly admit to being a person of way below average intelligence. I’m not even bothering to watch these YouTube uploads. The title alone is enough to scare me away.

  25. In reply to #18 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came last at 70. Is this ‘racist’, or a plain statement of fact?

    Politically correct people may f…

    Don’t get me wrong- mention of survey results does not imply my agreement or support, just to show the extreme variations.

  26. In reply to #7 by siger:

    The average IQ-number of the Askhenazi is clear, but what it means, and what causes it has never been sorted out scientifically. The whole lecture is a large stacks of mights and maybe’s, and an even larger heap of inuendo. That’s Pinker all over. He would not have said te same if he had been before…

    Who’s calling any one ‘politically correct’? Just an observation about the current state of affairs… Anyway, whatever the IQ results mean is part of the subject of the debate; is there an intelligence gender difference and if so, how does it come about? Can’t see why this should be so contentious and ruffle feathers.

    I note that Spelke made the more extreme statements, not Pinker—-

    “Liz has embraced the extreme nurture position. There is an irony here, because in most discussions in cognitive science she and I are put in the same camp, namely the “innatists,” when it comes to explaining the mind. But in this case Liz has said that there is “not a shred of evidence” for the biological factor, that “the evidence against there being an advantage for males in intrinsic aptitude is so overwhelming that it is hard for me to see how one can make a case at this point on the other side,” and that “it seems to me as conclusive as any finding I know of in science.”

  27. In reply to #16 by siger:

    In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

    I read TBS and I don’t see the relevance of your comment on your “left wing friend” nor of the “feminism” in TBA.

    Sorry, guess it wasn’t clear. I have talked to people on the left who don’t like Pinker and they mention The Blank Slate as an example. But when I ask them what it is in the book they don’t like it turns ou they’ve heard bad things about it but don’t really know what Pinker says. When I explain what he says in the book they agree.

    The feminism was about The Better Angels. In that book Pinker develops a model that describes human violence and he traces a lot of it to men trying to prove themselves, to show displays of overwhelming force as a display not to be challenged just as other primate males would. I’ve had feminist friends make that argument to me but Pinker is the first well known scientist that I respect to say it.

  28. In reply to #21 by siger:

    Compelling to whom? Isn’t that what we call bias?

    Oh I see the problem here. It appears you are a postmodernistist. You see when someone presents facts and weave together a narrative that supports those facts into a more coherent theory it is generally agreed to be compelling unless one has an underlying agenda not to believe it.

  29. In reply to #27 by Red Dog:

    I understood, but I don’t see the relevance in saying “I met someone who had your opinion and then I explained and that person changed” as an argument in the overhere ongoing discussion.

    What you call a “model” is indeed only that: another “just so story” without any scientific meaning or proof about why the elephant has a long nose. I don’ even see the feminism in it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9SvQ29-gk8

  30. In reply to #28 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #21 by siger:

    Compelling to whom? Isn’t that what we call bias?

    Oh I see the problem here. It appears you are a postmodernistist.

    How strange: I can’t be more specific, and yet you keep coming up with hiddden agenda’s and biases that I might have. Instead of giving arguments you try to distort my position. Look, I am not a postmodernist. Science is all right for me. And this is no science.

  31. In reply to #30 by siger:

    How strange: I can’t be more specific, and yet you keep coming up with hiddden agenda’s and biases that I might have. Instead…

    You haven’t been specific about anything. In stead of challenging Pinker’s thesis, you’ve thrown out ad hominems and simply said it’s not science without any supportive evidence. How is anyone supposed to take you seriously?

  32. In reply to #31 by Skeptic:

    You haven’t been specific about anything. In stead of challenging Pinker’s thesis, you’ve thrown out ad hominems and simply said it’s not science without any supportive evidence. How is anyone supposed to take you seriously?

    My feeling exactly.

  33. In reply to #16 by siger:

    In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

    I read TBS and I don’t see the relevance of your comment on your “left wing friend” nor of the “feminism” in TBA.

    About Elisabeth Spelke (with l and hairdo worse than P.) and Pinker see http://www.edge.org/3rdculture/debate05/debate05index.html

    Regarding evolutionary ps…

    The first link doesn’t work, and the article in the second simply assumes that evolutionary psychology is about showing “all” processes and cognitive processes are adaptations. This is not only a misrepresentation of the premise of evolutionary psychology, but simply a pointless criticism to bring up against the field because adaptationism – the real kind that points out that you won’t be able to explain complex biological organs without reference to the only theory capable of explaining complexity in biological organisms, not the strawman kind that assumes and then sticks with the notion that everything about an organism is an adaptation – has been the main reason for any kind of progress in the biological sciences. His disagreeing with the first premise of the three he brings to bear is effectively him saying the brain is a product of chance rather than selection. This would be absurd if we were talking about the lungs or the stomach, never mind when applied to the most complicated organ in the body.

    I get enraged for god-genes, aniston-genes, homo-genes, agression-genes, grandmother genes, intelligence-genes and al those other oversimplifications still circulating in the popcircuit

    You do realize that positing X-genes for whatever does not literally mean that the whole behavioural repertoire is captured inside a single gene, only that differences in X quality can be explained in part with reference to genetic factors and we might as well label it “a gene for X” and “a gene for not-X” for the sake of argument? Geneticists also call a gene “eyeless” when the gene is, if anything, responsible for ensuring the eye develops in the first place. Is it really worth getting upset over this kind of terminology?

    What you call a “model” is indeed only that: another “just so story” without any scientific meaning or proof about why the elephant has a long nose.

    That “just-so story” was based on:

    1. Three studies showing that the majority of violent crimes are perpetrated by young men between the ages of 15 and 30.

    2. Three biological analyses of the logic behind male reproductive strategies given factors such as sex ratios, prevalence of monogamy, etc.

    3. A sociological study showing not only the correlation between marital status and criminal behaviour but the causal direction, holding constant other factors

    4. Three studies showing that men are generally more interested in status than women.

    5. Five analyses of the differences in risk-taking behaviour between men and women.

    6. Six studies on the gender gap in violence.

    7. Six studies of the biological bases for differences between the sexes when it comes to violence.

    8. Four studies on the link between dominance and sex appeal

    Most of which are tied together in chapters three and eight in the sections on violence in the old frontier towns of the US and on dominance. Such evidence-based reasoning is scientific “meaning” or “proof”, assuming you know what you’re talking about when you use those words.

  34. I guess it doesn’t work because RDFRS replaces the underscores with italic markers in between?

    Please google “The Science of Gender and Science: Pinker vs. Spelke”

  35. In reply to #20 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #18 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came last at 70. Is this ‘racist’, or a plain statement of fact?

    Pol…

    Yes really.

    Of the three examples you give, the first serves my point about education (remember Aborigines only had the numbers 1, 2 and “many” before European colonization), the second doesn’t seem to be intelligence related (or possibly a specific type of intelligence), and the third is a measure of a specific type of intelligence.

    And I also repeat my contention that reducing all the many things that contribute to human intelligence (or intelligence in any animal for that matter) down to a single number isn’t a good way of describing any of those factors. Furthermore (as you might have inferred from my original post), it is very likely that a person doing their 100th test will do better than a person sitting the test for the first time, purely based on a better understanding of what is expected of them

  36. Well, let me apologize: I should not have communicated my rage in the manner I did in my first reflex.

    To make up, below a summary of the scientific debate behind the video’s.

    I rest my case.


    The lecture of Steven Pinker is based on the 2005 paper “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence” by Cochran, Hardy and Harpending (CHH). This thesis argues that the many harmful conditions in Askhenazi genes substantially increase intelligence.

    CHH summarize their thesis as follows

    1. Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average IQ of any ethnic group, combined with an unusual cognitive profile, while no similar elevation of intelligence was observed among Jews in classical times nor is one seen in Sephardic and Oriental Jews today.

    2. Ashkenazim experienced very low inward gene flow, which created a very favourable situation for natural selection.

    3. Ashkenazim experienced unusual selective pressures that were likely to have favoured increased intelligence.
      For the most part they had jobs in which increased IQ strongly favoured economic success, in contrast with other populations. They lived in circumstances in which economic success led to increased reproductive success.

    4. The fourth is the existence of the Ashkenazi disease clusters, groups of biochemically related mutations that could not plausibly have reached their present high frequencies by chance, that are not common in adjacent populations, and that have physiological effects that could increase intelligence.

    Pinker, in his lecture, follows this line of reasoning, and concludes that the case for genes is stronger dan that for environmental causes.

    R. Brian Ferguson has challenged the CHH-thesis in his 2008 paper ‘How Jews Became Smart:Anti-“Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence”‘, He observes that the CHH-thesis has received widespread media and web attention, and that it represents a growing tendency to explain psychological differences between populations as due to different genes.

    Ferguson calls the entire hypothesis full of improbilities and therefor highly unlikely:

    1. Historical information is not in favour of selection.

    2. Less than half of the inherited conditions are pathways to higher intelligence.

    3. That genes which stimulate neural growth are linked to higher intelligent is pure speculation.

    4. The claimed connection between three specific conditions and higher IQ has virtually no empirical support whatever.

    5. The demonstrated IQ advantage of Ashkenazi Jews as a whole is less than asserted.

    6. The multi-point IQ boosts proposed for specific genes are very inconsistent with current research on the genetics ofIQ.

    7. Even within the mainstream of IQ research, which emphasizes genetic/biological bases, the extent of Ashkenazi IQ advantage is easily accommodated as due to enviromnent.

    8. The “Talmudic Tradition” of emphasizing learning and abstract reasoning provides a clear cultural explanation for higher IQ among Ashkenazi.

    9. The assumption that higher intelligence led to greater income is contradicted by

    9.a. a rigid system of social stratification

    9.b. the critical importance for amassing wealth of capital, social connections, and political patrons, and

    9.c. the absence of any evidence that success in business required anything more than average intelligence.

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  38. In reply to #36 by N_Ellis:

    And I also repeat my contention that reducing all the many things that contribute to human intelligence (or intelligence in any animal for that matter) down to a single number isn’t a good way of describing any of those factors.

    There may be reasons why the IQ test data here is flawed or not as relevant as Pinker claims, I haven’t studied this enough to have an opinion. But I disagree with your general critique of IQ tests. Its essential to have metrics that can be quantified and compared and can be used to make and test predictions. Few metrics are ever without flaws, potential for bias, inaccurate readings, or misinterpretation and that is always more so when it comes to the science of studying humans. If we ruled out all metrics that had these issues we couldn’t do much real science related to human cognition and behavior.

  39. In reply to #29 by siger:

    In reply to #27 by Red Dog:
    I understood, but I don’t see the relevance in saying “I met someone who had your opinion and then I explained and that person changed” as an argument in the overhere ongoing discussion

    It was just an (obviously flawed and futile) attempt to open up a discussion. A way to say “someone else that was smart that I knew didn’t like Pinker but when we discussed what they didn’t like it was based on what they had heard about him not what he actually said” and I was hoping you would get into specifics about what Pinker said that you disagreed with. To be honest at this point I doubt very much you’ve actually read either The Blank Slate or The Better Angels.

  40. In reply to #35 by siger:

    I guess it doesn’t work because RDFRS replaces the underscores with italic markers in between?

    Please google “The Science of Gender and Science: Pinker vs. Spelke”

    Just fyi, the RD.net software treats an astersisk as markup to start highlighting but for some reason I don’t get it transforms the asterisks to underscores. So when there actually are underscores in a file name it thinks that means to make it italics and also doesn’t display the underscore since it thinks that is a markup character. At least that’s my interpretation and I’m pretty sure its right (its nice to have a question with a definitive answer for a change)

  41. I found it a fascinating lecture. This is what science is about. Believing there is an afterlife may aid one emotionally, but as everyone quotes “it doesn’t make it true”. Believing all human racial and ethnic groups have the same intelligence does not make it true either. However, defining what intelligence is and measuring it still has a long way to go. As in the point about dropping Pinker off in the Australian outback alludes, there are many ways to measure intelligence, and which areas of intelligence are most important is subject to opinion. The struggle for our species will be to use the best genetic traits that can be found in all groups, not in the group with the highest scientific IQ, or the group that can run the fastest, or the group that can survive in the highest altitude. Our species is on the verge of being able to engineer our offspring to give us an even better chance of survival beyond even our own planet, which ironically is currently being destroyed by our own inability to contain our growth and negative footprint. Science pursues the truth, and Pinker exemplifies that to me.

  42. If you want to test for intelligence you have to test the subject against information they don’t know. If you want to test for memory then test for how they remember stuff. Regurgitation of information is not intelligence.

  43. In reply to #43 by AfraidToDie:

    I found it a fascinating lecture. This is what science is about. Believing there is an afterlife may aid one emotionally, but as everyone quotes “it doesn’t make it true”. Believing all human racial and ethnic groups have the same intelligence does not make it true either. However, defining what…

    Exactly. And if someone can come up with an OSQ (Outback Survival Quotient) that can be quantified and analyzed along with IQ data I say go for it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the OSQ turned out to be a bit biased against people raised in cities, which wouldn’t make it useless just as with IQ tests, its all a question of interpreting the data correctly.

    If anyone is familiar with the US Heritage Institute for example, they are a “think tank” that recently published a horribly flawed report that says essentially immigration reform is a bad idea because Latino immigrants do poorly on IQ tests and that will never change. But the problem isn’t with the IQ test its with the way the data is incorrectly interpreted.

  44. In reply to #37 by siger:

    To make up, below a summary of the scientific debate behind the video’s.

    Better, granted, but frankly my protest was less about the paper discussed in the lecture and more about the half-baked accusations of adaptationism, sexism, and excessive speculation. Moreover, while these criticisms of the paper are worth taking seriously, if you’d watched all four parts of the video to the end, you’d find that Pinker isn’t actually making the claims you think he is. Some of Ferguson’s criticisms were made by Pinker himself, such as the historical unlikelihood of genetic isolation. The second video alone begins with him pointing out that the evidence for genetic variation between Jews and non-Jews is circumstantial. His summary is this:

    “In sum, I think there’s reasonable prima facie evidence for each of these seven component hypotheses. However, all of them would have to be true for the overall CHH theory to be true. Some are circumstantial, and the most important hypothesis – namely the IQ-boost of disease genes – has the least evidence. Nonetheless, the theory is highly testable, and therefore deserves to be taken seriously.”

    He doesn’t say that there’s evidence that puts it ahead of environmental factors, as you claimed; nor can a lack of support for genetic explanations lead to any environmental explanation being automatically superior (for instance, point 8 in your list of Ferguson’s criticisms is simply a causal assertion based on a correlation at best, with no real empirical meat behind it).

    Also, I managed to track down the debate you mentioned:

    The Science of Gender And Science Pinker Vs. Spelke A Debate

    What exactly is sexist about it? That he dares to consider genetic factors?

  45. An average I.Q. of 147 can’t be true! If that were the case they’d be more than likely all atheists/agnostic in my opinion…without being biased of course,if that’s possible. You can’t say rancho relaxo without saying relax… and you can’t say ask a friend on who wants to be a millionaire more than once unless they’ve changed the rules…

  46. ok,after a brief scout on the net,I’m getting an average average of around 108-117,this seem more realistic,but definitely not beyond criticism…

  47. Racism is based on ignorance, knowledge can provide us with solutions. Many commentators here prefer ignorance and call Steven Pinker a racist. That looks like a solution provided by those who desperately want to stay ignorant. Sorry gays, but studying reality is more interesting than defending stupidity.

  48. Wikipedia definition:

    “Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior.”

    Is Steven Pinker a racist in the context of the definition above?

  49. In reply to #50 by giggity:

    Is Steven Pinker a racist in the context of the definition above?

    It’s clear Ashkenazi Jews are smarter than average. No one here that I can tell has challenged that. By that definition we are all racist.

  50. In reply to #36 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #20 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #18 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came last at 70. Is this ‘racist’,…

    On the reverse span. So it is said about Aborigines. ( they have enough number now )

    On the reaction time. How old is some one born in 1939? What does this NOT have to do with intelligence. Do the math in your head, of course and the math could get more complex. How old is someone born on Aug. 4, 1942?

    Rotating objects in not specific, except to say it is in the G laden portion of any real IQ test.

    Of course someone would do marginally better with repeated tests, but the first test would not vary much from the last, especially in the G lade portions of of the tests.

    That comment ” reducing things to one number ” makes no sense, unless you are a proponent of emotional intelligence, or some other type of ” intelligence ” that is not empirically supported.

    Tell me. Ever had a real IQ test? If so, what was the tester holding in his hand?

  51. In reply to #52 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #36 by NEllis:_

    In reply to #20 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #18 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came l…

    How else would you describe “Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came in … with 70”, than reducing the many factors that make up intelligence to one number. And that’s my point by the way, that it doesn’t make sense to do this…

    And again, I repeat, being good at maths, reading (and IQ tests unless they are very carefully formulated) are trained skills. A highly intelligent person who has never been taught to read and count would be completely incapable of deducing that “2013 minus 1942” was a person’s age, or what the shapes meant. Teaching them to read and count doesn’t magically raise their intelligence, but it does make them far more capable of doing the test

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  53. Personally if someone says ‘IQ test shows jews are 50% smarter than other white people, and 100% smarter than one group of black people!” Then I assume that is a very biased IQ test, and an example of why IQ tests are so unreliable. But if they go on to say, “And we corrected for all socioeconomic factors, so it’s really true!” Then I call BS. It might be true that one group has access to more university qualifacations then the other – but that’s because they have access to better education in a society and culture that values it.

    The problem with this lecture is that it looks and sounds like handwavium and technobabble. I read science articles here and elsewhere and while I couldn’t detect anything (other than the above, repeated several times in several ways) that was obvious balony, there was nothing else I could latch onto as recognisable science. While I have no intrisic objection to ‘intelligence genes’ there must be a better and less slimy feeling way of presenting it.

  54. In reply to #53 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #52 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #36 by NEllis:_

    In reply to #20 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #18 by N_Ellis:

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    Wow! Heavy reaction. What is your exact objection? Having seen a survey of IQ for many ‘races’, it stated that Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, w…

    ” or what the shapes meant.”

    Huh!!!

    The shapes mean nothing in themselves as it is matching rotated shapes that is the task.

    As far as the highly intelligent person who could not read or write then rotating object test could be devised, if they are not already devised.

    Riding a bicycle, spearing a boar, running a race. All trained skills and some people, much training to no training, still do them better than others and always will.

    You did not answer my last question.

  55. In reply to #55 by ANTIcarrot:

    But if they go on to say, “And we corrected for all socioeconomic factors, so it’s really true!” Then I call BS.

    So you dismiss it out of hand. How can you know it’s not true unless you start with certain assumptions? You might like to assume that all groups of people are equal, but perhaps it might not be true. I’d also like to believe it’s true, but I’m not closed minded enough to allow ideology to interfere with truth.

  56. In reply to #53 by N_Ellis:

    How else would you describe “Ashkenazi Jews averaged 147, whilst Australian Aborigines came in … with 70”, than reducing the many factors that make up intelligence to one number. And that’s my point by the way, that it doesn’t make sense to do this…

    All that statement says to me is a data point about IQ test results. If you find the results offensive that doesn’t invalidate them. Scientific facts often are inconvenient. Although why you find it so offensive I have no idea. All this data are just averages anyway. Any individual could be a genius or a moron, its just saying the average for one group is higher and maybe by understanding why we can further understand human intelligence from the standpoint of science.

    It starts to become racist when you go from data like this to the totally unwarranted conclusion that this means we should favor one group on policies related to immigration or education. Pinker is always absolutely clear that he does not think his research supports such conclusions, in fact just the opposite. And there are unfortunately plenty of pseudo-intellectuals at places like the US Heritage Foundation that do make those kinds of conclusions but Pinker’s not one of them.

  57. Has anyone got a reference for the Australian Aboroginal IQ measurement and how (and when and where) it was done ?

    Michael

  58. IQ tests are flawed they have been contested for some time. Why are they still being used? What does it say about the credibility of those that use them?

  59. In reply to #60 by Vorlund:

    IQ tests are flawed they have been contested for some time. Why are they still being used? What does it say about the credibility of those that use them?

    It appears the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States and Canada task force report on the subject disagrees with you.

    from wiki:

    In this paper the representatives of the association regret that IQ-related works are frequently written with a view to their political consequences: “research findings were often assessed not so much on their merits or their scientific standing as on their supposed political implications”.

    The task force concluded that IQ scores do have high predictive validity for individual differences in school achievement. They confirm the predictive validity of IQ for adult occupational status, even when variables such as education and family background have been statistically controlled. They stated that individual differences in intelligence are substantially influenced by both genetics and environment.

  60. Finally got a chance to watch this and it was even better than I thought it would be, Steven Pinker never fails to be interesting. Don’t see what is so controversial about this, Jews being more intelligent on average is a far more plausible explanation for their obvious achievements and success than any of the crazy conspiracy theories devised so far.

  61. In reply to #57 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #55 by ANTIcarrot:
    So you dismiss it out of hand. How can you know it’s not true unless you start with certain assumptions? You might like to assume that all groups of peo…

    Because, if you reverse that statement it reads that black people are mentally inferior to white people. Not only is that grade A bullshit, but it’s also factually not true. There is little or no difference between black and white performance in school once you factor in things like wealth and location. If it was otherwise, I’m sure we’d all know about it. That little problem aside, where did this advantage come from? A small gap might be understandable, but half a standard deviation? How can you possible account for evolution or genetic drift doing that in just few hundred years? It goes against all theory and experience of how genetics works.

    So when someone stands up on stage and makes a statement that contradicts with our understanding of reality, I call BS. The number of jewish noble prize winners is apparently an anomaly, but no more so than the USA’s track record. 30% of prizes won by 5% of the population does not mean that 5% is anything special genetically.

  62. In reply to #64 by ANTIcarrot:

    Because, if you reverse that statement it reads that black people are mentally inferior to white people.

    Well, Africans do tend to score slightly lower in IQ tests on average, while Asians tend to score slightly higher, but this says nothing about individuals.

    A small gap might be understandable, but half a standard deviation? How can you possible account for evolution or genetic drift doing that in just few hundred years?

    Intense persecution.

    The number of jewish noble prize winners is apparently an anomaly.

    There is no way that this can merely be an anomaly, such a large deviation requires an explanation.

  63. I worked for many years with a friend who was not only Jewish but a rocket scientist as well. Seems he was good at all the details but not always at seeing the big picture. He mentioned many times how young Jewish kids were kinda pressured into being smart. I think that they may have also had an economic advantage as well. Thanks for mentioning how a greater understanding of the middleman may be of help in relating to this. I am guilty of being biased in this regard.

  64. In reply to #66 by William T. Dawkins:

    I worked for many years with a friend who was not only Jewish but a rocket scientist as well.

    I’ve had intimate relationships with (probably) far too many Jewish women. I find that I can generally talk to Jews more than any other ethnic group, including my own.

  65. In reply to #64 by ANTIcarrot:

    How can you possible account for evolution or genetic drift doing that in just few hundred years? It goes against all theory and experience of how genetics works.

    Apparently not

  66. Forget the various contentious issues involved in the measurement and interpretation of IQ and let us just look objectively at the easily verifiable facts:

    Although Jews account for only 2-3% of the American population they constitute:

    1. 50% of the top 200 intellectuals

    2. 40% of the Nobel Prize winners in science and economics

    3. 20% of the professors at the top universities

    4. 40% of the partners in top NY and DC law firms

    5. 59% of the writers, directors and producers of the 50 top grossing movies

    6. 37% of the winners of the National Medal of Science

    7. 50% of world chess champions

    These numbers are indeed extraordinary. Even if they could be shown to be exaggerated by a factor of 10 they would still be impressive.

    Finding a reason for these numbers constitutes a valid and fascinating scientific question.

  67. The degree of acrimony displayed in the above exchanges raises the issue of whether there are scientific questions that we should not ask or that we should not even contemplate. Indeed, the question of race and intelligence as evident above probably epitomises this dilemma. Is even scientific enquiry itself bound by political correctness and if so is this restriction necessarily a bad thing.

    Another example along similar lines is given in an excellent book that Jared Diamond has recently published entitled “The World Until Yesterday – What can we learn from traditional societies?” The book has been criticised by several people because it restates an established fact that traditional societies have much higher death rates due to war and violence than modern industrialised societies. The argument is made that this finding sets back the progress that is slowly being made in improving the lot of traditional societies as it reinforces existing prejudices that regard them as violent savages.

    A further and hypothetical example in different area might be to request someone to name all the most famous composers (or painters) of the last 400 years and when the list is complete to pose the (perhaps not so obvious) question “Why are the composers (painters) all of the same gender” while a similar list of famous writers would include both genders.

    Even as objective “dispassionate” scientists simply asking such questions (let alone confronting the results) can make us feel uncomfortable. Should we therefore consider whether there are in general certain scientific questions that should be off limits and areas of scientific enquiry that should remain taboo.

  68. In reply to #70 by Aussie:

    The degree of acrimony displayed in the above exchanges raises the issue of whether there are scientific questions that we should not ask or that we should not even contemplate.

    Consider it asked. The answer is no there absolutely are not any scientific questions we should not ask. There definitely are things I think science shouldn’t be applied to, weapons of mass destruction for example, torture instruments, but are there questions we shouldn’t ask? No. The problems are never with the science but with the erroneous and invalid political conclusions that unscrupulous and ignorant people use the science for.

    Indeed, the question of race and intelligence as evident above probably epitomises this dilemma.

    I don’t see any dilemma except PC people who think that by fighting certain facts they are somehow going to fight bigotry. They don’t realize that bigotry operates in a fact free zone anyway.

    Another example along similar lines is given in an excellent book that Jared Diamond has recently published entitled “The World Until Yesterday – What can we learn from traditional societies?” The book has been criticised by several people because it restates an established fact that traditional societies have much higher death rates due to war and violence than modern industrialised societies. The argument is made that this finding sets back the progress that is slowly being made in improving the lot of traditional societies as it reinforces existing prejudices that regard them as violent savages.

    A good example because I think it supports my point. The idea that native peoples lived in some kind of Rousseau state of natural grace is obviously not in accordance with what we know about them. Trying to defend such obviously false ideas are the kind of behavior that makes left wing intellectuals look unscientific and sentimental. And the fact that, for example, the Native American tribes could be somewhat brutal at times in no way ameliorates the incredible injustice done to them by the European colonists.

    A further and hypothetical example in different area might be to request someone to name all the most famous composers (or painters) of the last 400 years and when the list is complete to pose the (perhaps not so obvious) question “Why are the composers (painters) all of the same gender” while a similar list of famous writers would include both genders.

    It would still be a pretty uneven list even with the writers. And the answer is the same sexism. Again, why should we want to sugar coat these facts, they actually support a left analysis, the reason there were so few women who were recognized for such genius is an expected result given the disparate status of men and woman through most of history.

    Even as objective “dispassionate” scientists simply asking such questions (let alone confronting the results) can make us feel uncomfortable. Should we therefore consider whether there are in general certain scientific questions that should be off limits and areas of scientific enquiry that should remain taboo.

    No

  69. This video irritated me quite a bit. Pinker states that ‘Europeans’ (I’m not sure what he even means by Europeans) score an average of 100 in IQ tests, while Jews score 108. This is very confusing. I thought many Jews were European. I’m pretty sure most are white. Some are black. Black people supposedly score lower than any other group, so which group is he putting black Jews in? He does talk about Ashkenazi Jews at the beginning of his talk, but later simply refers to Europeans and Jews in his comparison. The whole thing makes no sense to me scientifically, and I find it unhelpful and potentially divisive. Wouldn’t it be more logical to compare Jews with Muslims or Christians? What about atheists? Do these studies separate atheist Jews from religious ones? Is an atheist Jew still a Jew? What about Muslim atheists? Or Catholic atheists? Would atheist Jews score the same as non-Jewish atheists? Apparently Harrison Ford is classified as Jewish. He looks white to me, and he’s also an atheist, yet according to Wikipedia ‘white’ and Jewish are two separate groups of the same study. If ‘white’ is one blanket group, then it would include atheists as well as fundamentalist Christians, yet fundamentalist Christians score lower than atheists in other studies, therefore they would lower the average IQ of the ‘white’ group. The topic is a political minefield of course, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. I’m not interested in anyone’s political baggage, but Pinker’s assertions seem to be fraught with loop-holes and inconsistencies, so I’m not surprised that IQ tests, especially ones that contrast different ‘groups’ of people, are being consigned increasingly to the dustbin of pseudo-science.

  70. In reply to #69 by Aussie:

    I would hazard a guess that most of them are atheists. Perhaps a more useful study would be to ask why atheism is so high amongst those with Jewish ancestry.

  71. I was urged to present more specific critique to Pinker. Maybe this short example from The Blank Slate p. 149 will do the trick. Pinker writes (and he repeats the exact words in his lecture somewhere):

    “A surprising number of intellectuals, particularly on the left, do deny that there is such a thing as inborn talent,
    especially intelligence. Stephen Jay Gould’s 1981 bestseller The Mismeasure of Man was written to debunk ‘the
    abstraction of intelligence as a single entity, its location within the brain, its quantification as one number for each
    individual, and the use of these numbers to rank people in a single series of worthiness, invariably to find that
    oppressed and disadvantaged groups — races, classes, or sexes — are innately inferior and deserve their status.’

    And he comments:
    “In other words, any of us could become a Richard Feynman or a Tiger Woods if only we were highly enough
    motivated and worked collectively.
    I find it truly surreal to read academics denying the existence of intelligence.”

    However, the quote from Gould (which certainly has carefully been chosen by Pinker) does not say that difference in intelligence or inborn talent does not exist. It only says, rightfully, that intelligence is not a single entity with a location in the brain. Every reasonable person will agree to that, and Pinker can’t have missed it. So what are his motives to represent Gould incorrectly, besides the traditional Gould bashing? Clearly he uses this strawman to smuggle in his own position without having to spell it out, that is: intelligence is a single entity in the brain, a number appropriate to rank people in a series of innate inferiority.

  72. In reply to #75 by siger:

    It only says, rightfully, that intelligence is not a single entity with a location in the brain.

    Not sure what Gould means by “single entity” and I cannot imagine where he suspects intelligence might be located if not in the brain. The liver perhaps? The nonsense about “innate inferiority” is just another example of the naturalistic fallacy.

  73. In reply to #76 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #75 by siger:

    It only says, rightfully, that intelligence is not a single entity with a location in the brain.

    Not sure what Gould means by “single entity” and I cannot imagine where he suspects intelligence might be located if not in the brain. The liver perhaps? The nonsense about “…

    Don’t you agree that Pinker misrepresents what he himself quotes from Gould? That would be quite interesting.

  74. In reply to #77 by siger:

    Don’t you agree that Pinker misrepresents what he himself quotes from Gould?

    No, he quoted Gould directly. There is no need to misrepresent such obvious drivel. If anyone is building straw men it’s Gould, but that would imply deliberate intentionality, to me he just sounds confused. A lot of Gould’s writing does.

    Here’s another quote from Pinker:

    The naturalistic fallacy is the idea that what is found in nature is good. It was the basis for Social Darwinism, the belief that helping the poor and sick would get in the way of evolution, which depends on the survival of the fittest. Today, biologists denounce the Naturalistic Fallacy because they want to describe the natural world honestly, without people deriving morals about how we ought to behave (as in: If birds and beasts engage in adultery, infanticide, cannibalism, it must be OK). The moralistic fallacy is that what is good is found in nature. It lies behind the bad science in nature-documentary voiceovers: lions are mercy-killers of the weak and sick, mice feel no pain when cats eat them, dung beetles recycle dung to benefit the ecosystem and so on. It also lies behind the romantic belief that humans cannot harbor desires to kill, rape, lie, or steal because that would be too depressing or reactionary.
    —Steven Pinker

  75. In reply to #79 by siger:

    Cognitive dissonance or tribal truth?

    You do seem to be suffering from the former, but WTF is “tribal truth”?

  76. OK, I repeat. Pinker writes: “A surprising number of intellectuals, particularly on the left, do deny that there is such a thing as inborn talent,…”
    Then, obviously, he goes looking for an illustration for this statement, and his best bet is The Mismeasure of Man (Gould 1981 p21.)

    Gould: This book, then, is about the abstraction of intelligence as a single entity, its
    location within the brain, its quantification as one number for each individual,
    and the use of these numbers to rank people in a single series of
    worthiness, invariably to find that oppressed and disadvantaged groups—
    races, classes, or sexes—are innately inferior and deserve their status. In
    short, this book is about the Mismeasure of Man.

    This is from Gould’s introduction, and the rest of the book expands on each of those themes. Gould demonstrates and refutes scientific literature of over a century trying to indentify intelligence as a single entity (Godard…); to demonstrate that this entity is located and measurable within the brain (Bean…): that this measurement could be expressed in one number (Terman…), and that negroes (etc…) had less of it anyhow.

    Now you might agree with me that Pinker quotes Gould as an illustration of “intellectuals denying that there is such a thing as inborn talent”. Or don’t you? Is it your opinion then that Pnker’s citation of Gould indeed illustrates that Gould denies that there is something as inborn talent? Is it your opinion that his citation illustrates that Gould denies the existence of intelligence? Is it your opinion that his citation illustrates that Gould thinks that any of us could become a Richard Feynman or a Tiger Woods if only we were highly enough
    motivated and worked collectively?

    Because that is what Pinker says about his citation of Gould above.

  77. I would like to see a study done that compared non-Jewish atheists with Jews (religious and secular) in IQ scores; or non-Jewish atheists with orthodox Jews, because I’m one of those people who consider Judaism to be a religion, not a ‘race’. If Pinker is going to make claims about the superiority of Jewish intelligence then he needs to at least be scientific about it and define exactly what group of people he’s talking about.

  78. In reply to #81 by siger:

    Now you might agree with me that Pinker quotes Gould as an illustration of “intellectuals denying that there is such a thing as inborn talent”. Or don’t you? Is it your opinion then that Pnker’s citation of Gould indeed illustrates that Gould denies that there is something as inborn talent? Is it your opinion that his citation illustrates that Gould denies the existence of intelligence? Is it your opinion that his citation illustrates that Gould thinks that any of us could become a Richard Feynman or a Tiger Woods if only we were highly enough motivated and worked collectively?

    Yes.

  79. In reply to #82 by missbutton:

    We already know that there is an inverse correlation between religiosity and IQ.

  80. That wasn’t my point. I did mention that in one of my comments. If Pinker is comparing Jews with a blanket ‘whites,’ then the Jewish group is probably going to be overly represented by atheists, and the ‘white’ group is going to be overly represented by Christians. I’m just pointing out how unscientific these stupid tests are. They are also racist, unhelpful, divisive, and meaningless. In reply to #84 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #82 by missbutton:

    We already know that there is an inverse correlation between religiosity and IQ.

  81. In reply to #82 by missbutton:

    Well, then I fail to see what your point is. We already know that Jews are generally more secular than most groups, percentage wise there are far more Jewish atheists.

  82. I don’t see how I could have been any more clear. In reply to #86 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #82 by missbutton:

    Well, then I fail to see what your point is. We already know that Jews are generally more secular than most groups, percentage wise there are far more Jewish atheists.

  83. In reply to #87 by missbutton:

    I don’t see how I could have been any more clear.

    Well you could edit your comment after I respond to it, that’s always helpful.

    The bit you just added:

    If Pinker is comparing Jews with a blanket ‘whites,’ then the Jewish group is probably going to be overly represented by atheists, and the ‘white’ group is going to be overly represented by Christians.

    Uh, I thought we established that religiosity inversely correlates with IQ. So, we should expect the group with a lower average IQ to be more religious.

    I’m just pointing out how unscientific these stupid tests are. They are also racist, unhelpful, divisive, and meaningless.

    That’s quite a strong emotional reaction, I’ve always found IQ tests to be rather fun.

  84. Sigh. In light of the fact that religiosity decreases IQ score, then comparing ‘Jews’ with ‘whites’ is completely meaningless. I’ve also noticed that the US has won the vast bulk of Nobel science prizes. The US has 305. China has 4. Does this mean that Americans are the most intelligent people in the world?In reply to #88 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #87 by missbutton:

    I don’t see how I could have been any more clear.

    Well you could edit your comment after I respond to it, that’s always helpful.

    The bit you just added:

    If Pinker is comparing Jews with a blanket ‘whites,’ then the Jewish group is probably going to be overly repres…

  85. In reply to #89 by missbutton:

    Sigh.

    Right back at you.

    In light of the fact that religiosity inversely affects IQ score, then comparing ‘Jews’ with ‘whites’ is completely meaningless.

    No you have that backwards. More intelligent people tend to be less religious.

  86. Would you think it was ‘fun’ if you were an Australian aborigine, who according to one poster scored an average of 70? I’m just trying to point out how unscientific these studies are. In reply to #88 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #87 by missbutton:

    I don’t see how I could have been any more clear.

    Well you could edit your comment after I respond to it, that’s always helpful.

    The bit you just added:

    If Pinker is comparing Jews with a blanket ‘whites,’ then the Jewish group is probably going to be overly repres…

  87. I changed it to ‘decreases’. I was actually using your expression. ‘Inversely affects’ means increases? I don’t think that’s right. In reply to #90 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #89 by missbutton:

    Sigh.

    Right back at you.

    In light of the fact that religiosity inversely affects IQ score, then comparing ‘Jews’ with ‘whites’ is completely meaningless.

    No you have that backwards. More intelligent people tend to be less religious.

  88. In reply to #91 by missbutton:

    Would you think it was ‘fun’ if you were an Australian aborigine, who according to one poster scored an average of 70? I’m just trying to point out how unscientific these studies are.

    I didn’t like that comment. The study was old and obviously flawed, but even if it were true it is only an average and says nothing about any individual aborigine who could easily be a genius, or a retard.

  89. In reply to #92 by missbutton:

    I changed it to ‘decreases’. I was actually using your expression. ‘Inversely affects’ means increases? I don’t think that’s right. In reply to #90 by Peter Grant:

    Sorry, my bad, sloppy language. IQ inversely correlates with religiosity, so as IQ decreases religiosity increases, but becoming more religious will not decrease you IQ. Decreasing your IQ might make you more religious though.

  90. It was a bit tricky to word. What I meant is that religious people score lower in IQ tests. Anyway, the whole subject is fraught with so many holes and questions that it’s not worth bothering with until they make it a lot more scientific. In reply to #94 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #92 by missbutton:

    I changed it to ‘decreases’. I was actually using your expression. ‘Inversely affects’ means increases? I don’t think that’s right. In reply to #90 by Peter Grant:

    Sorry, my bad, sloppy language. IQ inversely correlates with religiosity, so as IQ decreases religiosit…

  91. In reply to #95 by missbutton:

    What I meant is that religious people score lower in IQ tests.

    Yes they do, and severe brain damage can also make people more religious. The science is there, you just have to be willing look at it.

  92. Then what exactly are we arguing about? You make it sound as if you are disagreeing with something you are agreeing with.In reply to #96 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #95 by missbutton:

    What I meant is that religious people score lower in IQ tests.

    Yes they do, and severe brain damage can also make people more religious. The science is there, you just have to be willing look at it.

  93. In reply to #97 by missbutton:

    Then what exactly are we arguing about?

    Causality. You seem to think that religion makes people stupid, I agree that it makes them act even stupider than they are, but the reason they are (and remain) religious is because they are stupid to begin with. I was extremely religious as a child, but still scored a ridiculously high IQ when tested.

  94. In reply to #83 by Peter Grant:

    Yes

    In that case, would you (or anyone) please be so kind to indicate:

    • where in the Gould citation is said that there is no such thing as inborn talent?

    • where in the Gould citation is said that intelligence doesn’t exist?

    • where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?

    I repeat the Gould citation as given by Pinker once more for clarity. I will add a number to each statement for your convenience. Pinker stated correctly that “The Mismeasure of Man was written to debunk….”

    Citation:_ “…the abstraction of intelligence as a single entity (1), its location within the brain (2), its quantification as one number for each individual(3), and the use of these numbers to rank people in a single series of worthiness(4), invariably to find that oppressed and disadvantaged groups — races, classes, or sexes — are innately inferior(5) and deserve their status(6).”_

  95. I never said that at all. I can’t edit it again, but this is what I meant: ‘Religious people score lower in IQ tests’. There. I don’t think that can be misinterpreted. There is also no way to prove whether or not becoming religious is going to decrease the IQ, unless you could show that some people who could be proven to be atheists had an IQ test, then became religious and took another IQ test. I don’t see how anyone could ‘prove’ atheism (or religiosity for that matter) though. There is also the fact that ‘ex atheists’ are so rare as to be non-existent, notwithstanding Kirk Cameron (joke). I’m not arguing with you here, just pointing out how difficult it is for these tests to be scientifically sound. In reply to #98 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #97 by missbutton:

    Then what exactly are we arguing about?

    Causality. You seem to think that religion makes people stupid, I agree that it makes them act even stupider than they are, but the reason they are (and remain) religious is because they are stupid to begin with. I was extremel…

  96. In reply to #99 by siger:

    1 No one ever suggested that intelligence is a “single entity”, whatever that means.

    2 Obviously intelligence is located in the brain.

    3 Quantification is what science is largely about.

    4,5,6 Naturalistic fallacy.

    You see, Gould’s error lies not so much in what he says (which isn’t much), as in what he refuses say.

  97. In reply to #100 by missbutton:

    There is also the fact that ‘ex atheists’ are so rare as to be non-existent

    This is where the inductive leap is required. Severe, non-lethal brain damage is also quite rare, but well documented.

  98. How exactly could you prove it? Does atheism show up in a brain scan? Some people call themselves atheists but believe in all kinds of other crap. ‘Atheism’ would have to be properly defined too. In reply to #102 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #100 by missbutton:

    There is also the fact that ‘ex atheists’ are so rare as to be non-existent

    This is where the inductive leap is required. Severe, non-lethal brain damage is also quite rare, but well documented.

  99. In reply to #103 by missbutton:

    ‘Atheism’ would have to be properly defined too.

    Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. Religiosity is a well defined and measurable psychological trait.

  100. I know what it says in the dictionary. Someone who believes in unicorns and fairies can still be an atheist. This is getting tedious. You haven’t actually countered any of my points, just argued over things that I haven’t even said or meant.In reply to #104 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #103 by missbutton:

    ‘Atheism’ would have to be properly defined too.

    Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. Religiosity is a well defined and measurable psychological trait.

  101. In reply to #105 by missbutton:

    I know what it says in the dictionary. Someone who believes in unicorns and fairies can still be an atheist.

    I’m not aware of any studies linking IQ with skepticism generally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an even higher correlation. Religiosity also covers other forms of woo though, and conspiracy theories.

  102. In reply to #101 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #99 by siger:

    1 No one ever suggested that intelligence is a “single entity”, whatever that means.

    2 Obviously intelligence is located in the brain.

    3 Quantification is what science is largely about.

    4,5,6 Naturalistic fallacy.

    You see, Gould’s error lies not so much in what he says…

    By now you surely do understand the questions:

    • where in the Gould citation is said that there is no such thing as inborn talent?

    • where in the Gould citation is said that intelligence doesn’t exist?

    • where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?

      but you find it more convenient to dodge them altogether. OK, I see.

  103. In reply to #107 by siger:

    By now you surely do understand the questions:

    where in the Gould citation is said that there is no such thing as inborn talent?

    where in the Gould citation is said that intelligence doesn’t exist?

    where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?

    but you find it more convenient to dodge them altogether. OK, I see.

    How can you not understand that all of the above is implied by what Gould does say? This is just the logical extension of his NOMA crap again.

  104. In reply to #108 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #107 by siger:
    How can you not understand that all of the above is implied by what Gould does say? This is just the logical extension of his NOMA crap again.

    But surely you can’t substantiate thàt either. What you really are saying is that you have heard something about Gould and NOMA (maybe you too have never heard much else about Gould) , so you just throw it in – with little effect, I must add. I suppose that everyone not belonging to that tribe must see by now that Pinker does a very bad job for science, and that his meek followers – as conformist fellow travellers always do – make it all even more sad. But OK, while we’re on the bandwagon through tribal territory, I will complete my little list of unanswerable questions then:

    • where in the Gould citation is said that there is no such thing as inborn talent?

    • where in the Gould citation is said that intelligence doesn’t exist?

    • where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?

    • where in the Gould citation is NOMA crap extended?

  105. In reply to #105 by missbutton:

    In reply to #104 by Peter Grant:

    You haven’t actually countered any of my points, just argued over things that I haven’t even said or meant.

    I think I know the feeling.

  106. In reply to #109 by siger:

    But surely you can’t substantiate thàt either.

    NOMA stands for non-overlapping magisteria. It is the idea that there ways of knowing other than through science. This fits perfectly with Gould’s ridiculous belief that intelligence is impossible to measure.

    What you really are saying is that you have heard something about Gould and NOMA, so you just throw it in – with little effect, I must add. I suppose that everyone not belonging to that tribe must see by now that Pinker does a very bad job for science, and that his meek followers – as conformist fellow travellers always do – make it all even more sad.

    What’s really sad is that though I don’t even like Gould I seem to have read more of his work than you.

  107. In reply to #110 by siger:

    I think I know the feeling.

    So do I and I sympathise, it actually hurts having to think down to your level.

  108. In reply to #89 by missbutton:

    Sigh. In light of the fact that religiosity decreases IQ score, then comparing ‘Jews’ with ‘whites’ is completely meaningless. I’ve also noticed that the US has won the vast bulk of Nobel science prizes. The US has 305. China has 4. Does this mean that Americans are the most intelligent people in t…

    A very good point. Shlomo Sand (a Jewish history professor in Tel Aviv) points out that most Jews worldwide are descendants from converts made in the first centuries before Christians stopped them proselytizing (the Jewish faith was their most important monotheistic competitor.) So even if genetic markers can be found, there is really no Jewish genome.

  109. In reply to #111 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #109 by siger:

    But surely you can’t substantiate thàt either.

    NOMA stands for non-overlapping magisteria. It is the idea that there ways of knowing other than through science. This fits perfectly with Gould’s ridiculous belief that intelligence is impossible to measure.

    Though I think NOMA was a mistake, it is not what you say it is, and it has never influenced Gould’s scientific work. But you are trying to get away from Pinker’s mistake, and I will not follow you in debate nbr 2257229 about NOMA.

  110. In reply to #114 by siger:

    Though I think NOMA was a mistake, it is not what you say it is, and it has never influenced Gould’s scientific work.

    It made him unwilling to use the tools of science to explore certain types of questions which he believed lay outside of the scientific domain, like religion, human intelligence etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if it also affected his ideas about “group selection”.

  111. In reply to #115 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #114 by siger:

    Though I think NOMA was a mistake, it is not what you say it is, and it has never influenced Gould’s scientific work.

    It made him unwilling to use the tools of science to explore certain types of questions which he believed lay outside of the scientific domain, like reli…

    Multilevel selection is a very important contribution of Gould to evolutionary biology. I don’t think many evolutionary biologists will deny that and stay in the business. Among many other things. But you are doing your best to digress, i suppose. Create a topic about groupselection and I will try to help you out there also.

  112. In reply to #116 by siger:

    Create a topic about groupselection and I will try to help you out there also.

    “Group selection” is utter piffle, I won’t waste my time on such pseudo-science except where it requires debunking. I certainly will not initiate another thread dedicated to it.

  113. In reply to #118 by Smill:

    In reply to siger, post 79. I’m still interested in knowing more about ‘tribal truth’, my dictionary isn’t being very helpful.

    I don’t (have to) know if you read The God Delusion. On p.35 in my edition (but look in the index for the first entry for “Rees, Martin”) you will find Richard Dawkins demonstrate “loyalty to the tribe”, meaning that people can prefer a truth which lines up with their mental likes (their “tribe”) above rational truth. Hence “tribal truth”.

  114. In reply to #117 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #116 by siger:
    “Group selection” is utter piffle, I won’t waste my time on such pseudo-science…

    Then don’t bring it up and stick with the questions you are avoiding.

  115. In reply to #120 by siger:

    Then don’t bring it up and stick with the questions you are avoiding.

    I am not avoiding your questions, I am answering them to the full extent which I can make any sense of them whatsoever. Here is a question for you: In what sense can anything which cannot be measured or “quantified” by science be said to exist?

  116. In reply to #107 by siger:

    where in the Gould citation is said that there is no such thing as inborn talent?

    Gould’s citation excludes intelligence being registered “within the brain”. That’s as good an admission as any that he was defying the notion of inborn talent, at least when it came to intelligence.

    where in the Gould citation is said that intelligence doesn’t exist?

    From context, Pinker is talking about “inborn talent, especially intelligence”. The juxtaposition, especially when compared with Gould’s comment about the location not being in the brain, again answers your point: intelligence in the sense of an inborn talent as opposed to cultural construct does not exist because it isn’t located in any individual brain.

    where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?

    That comment of Pinker’s was actually a reply to Hilary Putnam’s quotation, not Gould’s.

    Now, will you please answer my question from Comment 46: What is sexist about his discussion with Spelke, an accusation you levelled at him earlier?

    Also, I managed to track down the debate you mentioned:

    The Science of Gender And Science Pinker Vs. Spelke A Debate

    What exactly is sexist about it? That he dares to consider genetic factors?

  117. In reply to #121 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #120 by siger:

    Then don’t bring it up and stick with the questions you are avoiding.

    I am not avoiding your questions, I am answering them to the full extent which I can make any sense of them whatsoever. Here is a question for you: In what sense can anything which cannot be measured o…

    You do not really mean that things unmeasurable do not exist, do you? My good mood, the moon until Ptolemeus, a sunrise do exist. Of course it would be nice and scientific to measure intelligence. But then intelligence must be defined scientifically first; second, the measuring tools should be suitable; and third, the scientific research should not serve a despicable social agenda.

    Now in The Mismeasure of Man Gould demonstrates clearly than neither of those conditions was fulfilled, from the craniometry of negroes and chimpansees by Nott and Gliddon published in 1868, to the IQ ranking of negroes and whites by A.R. Jensen, published in 1969, one year after the murder of Martin Luther King.

    The lecture of Pinker about intelligence and genes illustrates that not all that much has changed – at least not for a number of scientists.

  118. In reply to #123 by siger:

    You do not really mean that things unmeasurable do not exist, do you?

    I mean that we have no way of knowing if things which are immeasurable exist.

  119. Imagine the uproar if Pinker made a video about how stupid ‘black’ people are, yet here he is, smugly pontificating about how superior ‘Jews’ are to everyone else. What is a Jew anyway? I’ve never been able to work that out. I said on one site that it’s a religion, and for that I was abused and ‘shouted’ down as an ‘anti-semite’. The reasoning was that because I have the view that Judaism is a religion, then I must be automatically anti-Israel.This is what I mean about political baggage. How do you argue with that sort of ‘logic’? I think every normal person today would agree that the Nazis were scientific morons when they were deciding who was a Jew and who wasn’t, yet people today are still spouting the same garbage. Stephen Hawking was asked what his IQ is. He replied that he didn’t know, and that people who boast about their IQ are losers.

  120. In reply to #125 by missbutton:

    Stephen Hawking was asked what his IQ is. He replied that he didn’t know, and that people who boast about their IQ are losers.

    Have I even once boasted about my IQ? Nonetheless I recognise that I am a looser, but a least I am capable of recognising what I have lost.

  121. In reply to #124 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #123 by siger:

    You do not really mean that things unmeasurable do not exist, do you?

    I mean that we have no way of knowing if things which are immeasurable exist.

    That is a wrong assumption. A special kind of scientism I think.

  122. I don’t even know what that means. In reply to #126 by Peter Grant:
    >

    Have I even once boasted about my IQ? Nonetheless I recognise that I am a looser, but a least I am capable of recognising what I have lost.

  123. In reply to #127 by siger:

    A special kind of scientism I think.

    Thank you, I’ve been waiting for that particular accusation. It’s up there with devil worshipper 😀

  124. In reply to #129 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #127 by siger:

    A special kind of scientism I think.

    Thank you, I’ve been waiting for that particular accusation. It’s up there with devil worshipper 😀

    My pleasure

  125. Please explain then. I never said you boasted about your IQ. My comment wasn’t even directed at you. The grammar and spelling render the comment meaningless. I don’t think anyone would know what you meant. Are you ever going to refute any of my points, or are you just going to be nasty and personal? In reply to #130 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #128 by missbutton:

    I don’t even know what that means.

    Didn’t really expect you to.

  126. In reply to #133 by missbutton:

    Are you ever going to refute any of my points, or are you just going to be nasty and personal?…

    Which points would you like me to refute?

  127. Take your pick.In reply to #134 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #133 by missbutton:

    Are you ever going to refute any of my points, or are you just going to be nasty and personal?…

    Which points would you like me to refute?

  128. In reply to #135 by missbutton:

    Take your pick.In reply to #134 by Peter Grant:

    OK how about:

    I think every normal person today would agree that the Nazis were scientific morons when they were deciding who was a Jew and who wasn’t, yet people today are still spouting the same garbage.

    Yet the moronic Nazis killed at least six million of them. Undeniably this must have had some sort of effect.

  129. In reply to #136 by missbutton:

    This site could do with a ‘refresh’ facility, or am I just missing it?

    F5

  130. Herding people into a confined space and filling it with poisonous gas in order to kill them shows scientific brilliance? I don’t think shooting people takes a lot of scientific education either. The Nazis were idiots. Their ridiculous ‘Aryan’ claims show that they understood nothing about natural selection and Darwinian evolution. Himmler spent a lot of time and effort searching for the Holy Grail. The Nazis also claimed that there was such a thing as ‘Jewish blood’, and that Jews were inherently inferior and sub-human…. In reply to #137 by Peter Grant:_

    In reply to #135 by missbutton:

    Take your pick.In reply to #134 by Peter Grant:

    OK how about:

    I think every normal person today would agree that the Nazis were scientific morons when they were deciding who was a Jew and who wasn’t, yet people today are still spouting the same garbage.

    Yet the mo…

  131. In reply to #139 by missbutton:

    Yes, I also find it ironic that in attempting to breed an Aryan super race they only helped to create super Jews.

  132. Or a lot of atheists. Who would still believe in a ‘god’ after that? And thanks for the ‘refresh’ info. In reply to #140 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #139 by missbutton:

    Yes, I also find it ironic that in attempting to breed an Aryan super race they only helped to create super Jews.

  133. They were killing people who didn’t consider themselves to be Jewish, including people from Christian families who didn’t even realise they had Jewish ancestry. You had to prove that you had no ‘Jewish blood’ if you were under suspicion. Imagine, Christopher Hitchens was unaware of his Jewish ancestry until he was middle-aged. He would have been herded up along with everyone else. Shows how ridiculous the whole thing is; that you can be ‘Jewish’ without even knowing it. I must be a Catholic then, since I have ‘Catholic blood’.In reply to #137 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #135 by missbutton:

    Take your pick.In reply to #134 by Peter Grant:

    OK how about:

    I think every normal person today would agree that the Nazis were scientific morons when they were deciding who was a Jew and who wasn’t, yet people today are still spouting the same garbage.

    Yet the mo…

  134. What a lot of hot air!

    So far nobody has put forward a credible alternative (to Pinker’s) explanation for the following

    In reply to #69 by Aussie:

    Forget the various contentious issues involved in the measurement and interpretation of IQ and let us just look objectively at the easily verifiable facts:

    Although Jews account for only 2-3% of the American population they constitute:

    1.
    50% of the top 200 intellectuals

    2.
    40% of the Nobel Prize winners in science and economics

    3.
    20% of the professors at the top universities

    4.
    40% of the partners in top NY and DC law firms

    5.
    59% of the writers, directors and producers of the 50 top grossing movies

    6.
    37% of the winners of the National Medal of Science

    7.
    50% of world chess champions

  135. What about the fact that a vastly disproportionate number of Hollywood actors are listed as ‘Jewish’? I guess they are not just more intelligent than the rest of the human race, they are also better actors. Just superior all-round, much like the mythical German ‘Aryans’. In reply to #143 by Aussie:

    What a lot of hot air!

    So far nobody has put forward a credible alternative (to Pinker’s) explanation for the following

    In reply to #69 by Aussie:

    Forget the various contentious issues involved in the measurement and interpretation of IQ and let us just look objectively at the easily verifiable f…

  136. If people can be Jewish without even knowing it, like Christopher Hitchens, then who knows how many there are, or what percentage of the population they are? Maybe 100 per cent? In reply to #143 by Aussie:

    What a lot of hot air!

    So far nobody has put forward a credible alternative (to Pinker’s) explanation for the following

    In reply to #69 by Aussie:

    Forget the various contentious issues involved in the measurement and interpretation of IQ and let us just look objectively at the easily verifiable f…

  137. In reply to #143 by Aussie:

    What a lot of hot air!

    So far nobody has put forward a credible alternative (to Pinker’s) explanation for the following

    In reply to #69 by Aussie:

    Forget the various contentious issues involved in the measurement and interpretation of IQ and let us just look objectively at the easily verifiable f…

    Could you please give the scientific source for those numbers? I have already been fooled once with this miraculous IQ of 147.

    And what do you mean with “Pinker’s explanation”? When I criticised what I tought was his explanation, another follower claimed that he didn’t have any.

  138. In reply to #132 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #131 by siger:

    My pleasure

    So you believe in an actual Devil?

    I believe in straw men. And coming to think of it, the devil is an old and emblematic one.

    But all bullocks aside, dont you see you are jumping to bywords to dodge serious questions again and again, because if you ever would answer them straight away, you must implicitly admit that Pinker can not be trusted?

  139. In reply to #122 by Zeuglodon:

    Gould’s citation excludes intelligence being registered “within the brain”.

    Gould says that it is useless to name one particular part within the brain the seat of intelligence, and to measure its volume to find out a person’s intelligence. One of the many cases he writes about (from The Mismeasure of Man p109):

    Bean took special pride in his data on the corpus callosum, a structure within the brain that contains fibers connecting the right and left hemispheres.[…] Bean reasoned that he might rank races by the relative sizes of parts within the corpus callosum.

    You said:

    That’s as good an admission as any that he was defying the notion of inborn talent, at least when it came to intelligence.

    Gould has never defended that inborn talent doesn’t exist. From The Mismeasure of Man p182:

    The difference between strict hereditarians and their opponents
    is not, as some caricatures suggest, the belief that a child’s
    performance is all inborn or all a function of environment and
    learning. I doubt that the most committed antihereditarians have
    ever denied the existence of innate variation among children.

    Gould did however criticize the abuse of the notion of inborn characteristics, for example by Lombroso (cited in The Mismeasure of Man p166ev):

    Anthropological examination, by pointing out the criminal type, the
    precocious development of the body, the lack of symmetry, the smallness
    of the head, and the exaggerated size of the face explains the scholastic
    and disciplinary shortcomings of children thus marked and permits them to be separated in time from their better-endowed companions and
    directed towards careers more suited to their temperament.

    I asked: “where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?” You replied: That comment of Pinker was actually a reply to Hilary Putnam’s quotation, not Gould’s. But even then, it is also a misrepresentation of Putnam’s position. Putnam does not say in Pinker’s quote that anyone can be a Richard Feynman or a Tiger Woods. Putnam writes (in the paper quoted
    from by Pinker):

    Take driving a car, for example. Anyone who is highly motivated can learn to drive exceptionally well, as a rule.

    And don’t we all know kids good for nothing at school but completely at ease with computers etc..?

    Pinker should have read the books he comments on. I think he did, and that he distorts both Gould and Putnam for his racist agenda. Starting out with “I am not a racist but…” makes no difference.

    About Pinker vs. Spelke.

    The disagreement is about why women are scarce on academic faculties of math and science. Spelke defends that the main forces are discrimination and social forces.
    Pinker defends that the main forces are women’s intrinsic aptitude and motives.

    Pinker is selective in the scientific papers he uses, while Spelke uses the most recent research results. Both of course find papers to support their views, but Pinker’s are dated and superseded, and, guess what, support innate causes for why women are scarce on academic faculties of math and science.

    Also interesting, much in line with debates about IQ’s of Afro-Americans and many other themes touching conservative interests (think Mead for example), it is once more the daily reality of emancipation that refutes deterministic fantasies. Following the National Science Foundation, cited by Molly Weinberg in her Huffington Post blog:

    In 1973 only seven percent of full-time U.S. college science and engineering faculty were women. By 2006 the figure had climbed to 30 percent, according to the National Science Foundation. In medicine, once a largely male field, now nearly a third of all physicians are female.

    I am not a sexist but…

  140. In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted on RDFRS?

    The youtube poster has an attractive picture?

  141. In reply to #148 by siger:

    I am not a sexist but…

    It’s so incredibly common to be called sexist, misogynistic, racist..etc by you PC-types when we disagree with your worldview it makes it impossible to have a rational conversation. Another reason it’s hard to take you seriously. Much of the science is on Pinker’s side yet you still call him a racist, sexist.. You are no different than the science deniers on the right.

  142. But there is nothing very scientific about IQ testing, especially when it lumps particular ‘groups’ of people together. I just wish people would think about it a bit more deeply. You have to wonder, if Israel is populated mostly with super-achieving intellectuals, who does all the menial work? I don’t know the percentage, but a very large proportion of Hollywood celebrities seem to be of Jewish descent. Does this mean that Jews are not only more intelligent than us lesser mortals, they are also better looking? In reply to #150 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #148 by siger:

    I am not a sexist but…

    It’s so incredibly common to be called sexist, misogynistic, racist..etc by you PC-types who happen to disagree with your worldview it makes it impossible to have a rational conversation. Another reason it’s hard to take you seriously. Much of…

  143. In reply to #151 by missbutton:

    But there is nothing very scientific about IQ testing,

    That makes about as much sense as saying “there is nothing scientific about blood pressure tests”. An IQ test is just a way to get data. The way people interpret such data can be scientific or not. I do agree that a lot of bad science exists around interpretation of IQ tests. For example, there was a book a while back called The Bell Curve that was essentially pseudoscience but was treated as science mostly because of various political agendas.

    But I’ve seen nothing here that justifies calling Pinker’s work unscientific, racist, or sexist. He is always very clear in all his writing that he in no way supports arguments used to justify racism or sexism based on data about possible genetic influence on intelligence. In fact he has some very eloquent discussions in The Blank Slate about how such arguments are patently nonsense regardless of where the science ends up because genes give us information about averages, never about where any one individual will fall within those ranges.

  144. Nearly all the world chess champions between 1948 and 1993 came from the Soviet Union. All world chess champions have been men. ‘Top grossing movies’ hardly means the best or most well-written. I wonder what percentage of your list are women? Perhaps Pinker could make another video about how innately superior men are? In reply to #143 by Aussie:

    What a lot of hot air!

    So far nobody has put forward a credible alternative (to Pinker’s) explanation for the following

    In reply to #69 by Aussie:

    Forget the various contentious issues involved in the measurement and interpretation of IQ and let us just look objectively at the easily verifiable f…

  145. How scientific is it to lump ‘white’ people in as a single group? It means nothing. In reply to #152 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #151 by missbutton:

    But there is nothing very scientific about IQ testing,

    That makes about as much sense as saying “there is nothing scientific about blood pressure tests”. An IQ test is just a way to get data. The way people interpret such data can be scientific or not. I do agree t…

  146. In reply to #151 by missbutton:

    But there is nothing very scientific about IQ testing, …

    Perhaps you missed my earlier post on the subject. I’ll repost:

    It appears the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States and Canada task force report on the subject disagrees with you.

    from wiki:

    In this paper the representatives of the association regret that IQ-related works are frequently written with a view to their political consequences: “research findings were often assessed not so much on their merits or their scientific standing as on their supposed political implications”.

    The task force concluded that IQ scores do have high predictive validity for individual differences in school achievement. They confirm the predictive validity of IQ for adult occupational status, even when variables such as education and family background have been statistically controlled. They stated that individual differences in intelligence are substantially influenced by both genetics and environment.

  147. It would also appear that you have missed most of my posts. All I’ve been doing is questioning something that doesn’t make any scientific sense to me. Isn’t that what sceptics are supposed to do? In reply to #155 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #151 by missbutton:

    But there is nothing very scientific about IQ testing, …

    Perhaps you missed my earlier post on the subject. I’ll repost:

    It appears the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States and Canada task force report on the sub…

  148. In reply to #156 by missbutton:

    It would also appear that you have missed most of my posts. All I’ve been doing is questioning something that doesn’t make any scientific sense to me. Isn’t that what sceptics are supposed to do?

    What makes sense to you or anyone may have little relevance to how the world works. Follow the scientific method and evidence and not political ideology.

  149. In reply to #148 by siger:

    In reply to #122 by Zeuglodon:

    >

    Gould’s citation excludes intelligence being registered “within the brain”.

    Gould says that it is useless to name one particular part within the brain the seat of intelligence, and to measure its volume to find out a person’s intelligence.

    I have not read The Mismeasure of Man, and so I can neither confirm or deny whether this is the case. However, your original point was to ask what about the quotation implied or suggested that Gould disputed the notion of inborn intelligence. Pinker’s passage described Gould’s book as being written to debunk, among other things, “its [intelligence’s] location within the brain” (as well as disputing its abstraction as a single entity). Unless he’s referring to multiple intelligence theory – something which Pinker himself discusses at the beginning of Chapter 13 of that same book – then it looks to me as though he was disputing “inborn talent, especially intelligence”.

    You said:

    That’s as good an admission as any that he was defying the notion of inborn talent, at least when it came to intelligence.

    Gould has never defended that inborn talent doesn’t exist.

    “Inborn talent, at least when it came to intelligence,” is what we are discussing. To be quite frank, from what I’ve seen, Gould has merely avowed the continuum between “hereditarianism” and the other cultural extreme. The fact is, he was a signatory of the “Sociobiology Study Group”, which was highly anti-innatist, and his language here and elsewhere makes it clear that he views any attempt to invoke genetic explanations as automatically justifying, for instance, political prejudice. His actions don’t match his claims, from what I can tell.

    I asked: “where in the Gould citation is said that anyone can be a genius?” You replied: That comment of Pinker was actually a reply to Hilary Putnam’s quotation, not Gould’s. But even then, it is also a misrepresentation of Putnam’s position. Putnam does not say in Pinker’s quote that anyone can be a Richard Feynman or a Tiger Woods.

    Putnam wrote:

    “This theory [egalitarianism] might say that ordinary people can do anything that is in their interest and do it well when (1) they are highly motivated, and (2) they work collectively.”

    Compare this with Pinker’s quote, and you’ll find this is what Putnam is effectively saying.

    Pinker should have read the books he comments on. I think he did,

    So he did, or he didn’t? You’re not making sense here.

    and that he distorts both Gould and Putnam

    I think we’ve established no distortion was needed for either.

    for his racist agenda.

    Seriously? You expect to persuade people by sounding like a paranoid ideologue? Your case isn’t even watertight yet.

    The disagreement is about why women are scarce on academic faculties of math and science. Spelke defends that the main forces are discrimination and social forces. Pinker defends that the main forces are women’s intrinsic aptitude and motives.

    I think both their parts were more nuanced than that simple dichotomy. Pinker:

    To sum up: I think there is more than “a shred of evidence” for sex differences that are relevant to statistical gender disparities in elite hard science departments. There are reliable average difference in life priorities, in an interest in people versus things, in risk-seeking, in spatial transformations, in mathematical reasoning, and in variability in these traits. And there are ten kinds of evidence that these differences are not completely explained by socialization and bias, although they surely are in part.

    Compare this with Spelke herself:

    Let me end, though, by asking, could Steve also be partly right? Could biological differences in motives — motivational patterns that evolved in the Pleistocene but that apply to us today — propel more men than women towards careers in mathematics and science?

    My feeling is that where we stand now, we cannot evaluate this claim. It may be true, but as long as the forces of discrimination and biased perceptions affect people so pervasively, we’ll never know. I think the only way we can find out is to do one more experiment.

    Given his concession to both sides of the case, as opposed to Spelke’s denying its testability despite the same argument potentially undermining her own case, Pinker seems to be the more cautious debater here and certainly not as polarized as you implied. Granted, you claimed “main factors”, but the sight of the “intrinsic” suggests to me you’ve simplified the divide a little.

    Pinker is selective in the scientific papers he uses,

    How do you know this? Did you examine the sources he used?

    while Spelke uses the most recent research results.

    Merely being recent doesn’t make them superior. I want to know to what extent they confirm or deny either position, and how rigorous the research is.

    Both of course find papers to support their views, but Pinker’s are dated and superseded,

    And how do I confirm that you are not making this stuff up?

    and, guess what, support innate causes for why women are scarce on academic faculties of math and science.

    You really are coming across as biased here. Merely because he comes to that conclusion (and did you pay attention to his point about statistics and so on, since the “innate” epithet suggests otherwise) does not prove he’s biased. If I invoked the same thing for Spelke, you’d quite rightly accuse me of dictating without evidence which conclusion was the correct one. It’s no different when you do it to Pinker.

    Also interesting, much in line with debates about IQ’s of Afro-Americans and many other themes touching conservative interests (think Mead for example),

    This isn’t about politics. This is a scientific question.

    it is once more the daily reality of emancipation that refutes deterministic fantasies.

    If you honestly cannot separate your political and moralistic motives from a scientific question, then what gives you the right to accuse others of “fantasies”? Especially when you are acting like a textbook case of the “political scientists” Pinker warned about in The Blank Slate, right down to the “deterministic” slur and moralistic pretentiousness?

  150. In reply to #154 by missbutton:

    How scientific is it to lump ‘white’ people in as a single group? It means nothing.

    Again, there is nothing inherently unscientific about looking at white people as a group, anymore than about looking at people with brown hair or left handed people. Again, it all depends on the inferences and arguments you make. And as I looked over your comments I never saw anything where you quoted something Pinker actually said and then made a coherent argument why that statement was unscientific, racist, or sexist.

    What I see you doing is what I often see people who attack science for political reasons do. You say “this research implies X” when in fact it doesn’t. (Although even if some science does support a conclusion you may not like that doesn’t in any way mean the science is wrong) Or you say things like “what if Pinker said this…” which is irrelevant since he didn’t say it,…

  151. In reply to #154 by missbutton:

    How scientific is it to lump ‘white’ people in as a single group? It means nothing. In reply to #152 by Red Dog:

    They are united by a common phenotypic feature, i.e. the low melanin content of their skin cells. Physiologically, it has an impact on one’s ability to absorb UV rays and to synthesize Vitamin D, which explains why peoples whose ancestors lived nearer the Equator have darker skin (to block out harmful UV radiation) and why peoples whose ancestors lived nearer the Poles have lighter skin (to maximize vitamin metabolism during the smaller hours of sunlight). It is hardly meaningless.

  152. Are you serious? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I don’t have any political agenda. I wish you would just read my posts and counter what I say, instead of making a blanket assumption about me. What do you think would happen to the result if Judaism was classified as a religion instead of a ‘race’? Religious Jews don’t believe in evolution and think god made the world in Jerusalem. That doesn’t seem very intelligent to me. Perhaps becoming an atheist really does increase IQ score by several points. Who knows? No one does, further showing that these tests are a load of bollocks.In reply to #157 by Skeptic:

    What makes sense to you or anyone may have little relevance to how the…

  153. In reply to #150 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #148 by siger:

    I am not a sexist but…

    It’s so incredibly common to be called sexist, misogynistic, racist..etc by you PC-types when we disagree with your worldview it makes it impossible to have a rational conversation. Another reason it’s hard to take you seriously. Much of the sc…

    Are we switching to group selection now?

  154. In reply to #158 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #148 by siger:

    And how do I confirm that you are not making this stuff up?

    By reading the documents yourself.

  155. Then most Jews would be in that group. It is definitely meaningless when used in the context it is here. In reply to #161 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #154 by missbutton:

    How scientific is it to lump ‘white’ people in as a single group? It means nothing. In reply to #152 by Red Dog:

    They are united by a common phenotypic feature, i.e. the low melanin content of their skin cells. Physiologically, it has an impact on one’s ability to a…

  156. You purport to know so much about me. What ‘political reasons’ would these be? I’m not attacking science, I’m questioning pseudo-science. Are you just going to blindly accept what Pinker says? Can anyone else not see the unbelievable irony in the video, where one small group is being touted as superior to all others? I will never accept that one select group of humans is inherently superior to every other, not without having every question it’s possible to ask answered, and backed up, with indisputable scientific facts. In reply to #160 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #154 by missbutton:

    How scientific is it to lump ‘white’ people in as a single group? It means nothing.

    Again, there is nothing inherently unscientific about looking at white people as a group, anymore than about looking at people with brown hair or left handed people. Again, it all de…

  157. In reply to #162 by missbutton:

    Are you serious? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I don’t have any political agenda. I wish you would just read my posts and counter what I say, instead of making a blanket assumption about me. What do you think would happen to the result if Judaism was classified as a religion instead of a ‘ra…

    Did you even watch the video? If you did, it appears you understood little of what Pinker was talking about.

    What do you think would happen to the result if Judaism was classified as a religion instead of a ‘race’? Religious Jews don’t believe in evolution and think god made the world in Jerusalem. That doesn’t seem very intelligent to me.

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read on the internet today

  158. Why is it ‘dumb’? Are Catholics a race? Or Muslims? Are there IQ tests that compare ‘whites’ with Christians? Of course not. That would be ‘dumb’ wouldn’t it? Your username is probably the biggest misnomer I have seen. In reply to #167 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #162 by missbutton:

    Are you serious? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I don’t have any political agenda. I wish you would just read my posts and counter what I say, instead of making a blanket assumption about me. What do you think would happen to the result if Judaism was classifi…

  159. It seems to me that you are the one with the political agenda. I’m just asking questions that everyone should be asking. IQ testing has been discredited and debunked by people who have studied the subject a lot more than I have. I’m only stating the obvious. In reply to #167 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #162 by missbutton:

    Are you serious? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I don’t have any political agenda. I wish you would just read my posts and counter what I say, instead of making a blanket assumption about me. What do you think would happen to the result if Judaism was classifi…

  160. In reply to #168 by missbutton:

    Why is it ‘dumb’? Are Catholics a race? Or Muslims? Are there IQ tests that compare ‘whites’ with Christians? Of course not. That would be ‘dumb’ wouldn’t it?

    You didn’t answer my question, did you watch the video? BTW, Jews are an ethnic race. I can tell you as someone who works in the medical field, there’s a reason we ask patients about their ethnic background. Having an Ashkenazi Jewish background is an indicator for many diseases. If you had watched the video you would understand that.

    This from wiki:

    In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews of Central Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazim were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have identified genetic variations that have high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population.

  161. If you knew anything about biology you would know there is no such thing as race. Irish Catholics are more prone to skin cancer than darker-skinned people. So what? Is Whoopi Goldberg the same ‘ethnic race’ as Harrison Ford, or Christopher Hitchens?In reply to #170 by Skeptic:
    >

    You didn’t answer my question, did you watch the video? BTW, Jews are an ethnic race. I can tell you as s…

  162. I would love to see that test. I would like to see one of those testers survive alone in the Australian outback for more than a day, with no modern conveniences. In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted o…

  163. In reply to #147 by siger:

    I believe in straw men. And coming to think of it, the devil is an old and emblematic one.

    So is “scientism”.

  164. In reply to #173 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #147 by siger:

    I believe in straw men. And coming to think of it, the devil is an old and emblematic one.

    So is “scientism”.

    This sort of mindless bouncing tells me reason has its limits, and the limit is reached here.

    ps: this one to be bounced, of course.

  165. In reply to #167 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #162 by missbutton:

    What do you think would happen to the result if Judaism was classified as a religion instead of a ‘race’? Religious Jews don’t believe in evolution and think god made the world in Jerusalem. That doesn’t seem very intelligent to me.

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read on the internet today

    Judaism is a religion. Even the CIA factbook counts American Jews not as ethnicity, but as a religion, and the CIA is many things, but not dumb. It is not because Ashkenazi’s have genes in common, that Jews, and not even Ashkenazi’s are a race. Because see, people have many many genes.

    Here some research from Shlomo Sand (The Invention of The Jewish People.) The first gulf of monotheist proselytism was not the Christian faith, but Judaism. In the Mishna converts are compared with rivers streaming to the sea (p172). In 125 BCE Judeans conquered Edom and Judaiced its inhabitants by force (p157ev) . Then (Libanese) Itureans were absorbed in Judaism. Simon Bar Giora was a convert. The cities of Pella, Samaria, Gaza, Gedera were destroyed because they refused to convert to Judaism. Jews were rather succesful in making converts throughout the Roman Empire. Philo Judaeus (p162) en Flavius Josephus (p.164) have both encouraged proselyzing in their writings. From the third century on some 7-8% of the vast Roman Empire were converted to Judaism. It was Judaic prozelyzing that cleared the path for Christianity, and it were Christian church fathers who invented the diaspora as a punishment of Yaweh; a legend later picked up by rabbi’s themselves.

    Ibn Khaldoun speaks of Jewish Berbers (p.202); the Sephardic Jews are prfimarly descendants of Arabs, Berbers and Europeans who converted to Judaism before the 12th century (p208.)

  166. In reply to #174 by siger:

    This sort of mindless bouncing tells me reason has its limits, and the limit is reached here.

    OK, let me spell it out for you then:

    Science is not an ideology it is a method for gaining knowledge, and it is the most reliable method we have. Accusing scientists of “scientism” is like accusing atheists of devil worship.

  167. In reply to #176 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #174 by siger:

    This sort of mindless bouncing tells me reason has its limits, and the limit is reached here.

    OK, let me spell it out for you then:

    Science is not an ideology it is a method for gaining knowledge, and it is the most reliable method we have. Accusing scientists of “scien…

    I think you mix up a little; I have nothing against science, buth I loathe scientism, just as I don’ care much about islam, but loathe islamism (replace with Hinduism, Christanity, Judeïsm, nazism etc…)

    So I am a staunch defender of the scientific method and of scientific progress. But I loathe those scientists and their acolites who want to use science to proclaim dogmas and social orders. Those are the people I accuse of scientism, an ideology which I fear as much as religion and historicisms, for society’s sake.

    No true scientists or genuine supporters of science (as I am myself) will ever declare anything a dogma, express compulsory social conclusions or reject criticism out of hand.

    Scientism has a social agenda (which must remain the province of democratic society only), claims to have definitive knowlegde and demonizes all criticism.

    All forms of genetic or neurological determinism entering the province of social values and decisions, fall under the nomer of scientism, and need firm resistance.

  168. In reply to #177 by siger:

    I think you mix up a little; I have nothing against science, buth I loathe scientism, just as I don’ care much about islam, but loathe islamism (replace with Hinduism, Christanity, Judeïsm, nazism etc…)

    You sound like a real moral relativist.

    So I am a staunch defender of the scientific method and of scientific progress. But I loathe those scientists and their acolites who want to use science to proclaim dogmas and social orders. Those are the people I accuse of scientism, an ideology which I fear as much as religion and historicisms, for society’s sake.

    No true scientists or genuine supporters of science (as I am myself) will ever declare anything a dogma, express compulsory social conclusions or reject criticism out of hand.

    Scientism has a social agenda (which must remain the province of democratic society only), claims to have definitive knowlegde and demonizes all criticism.

    All of the above simply indicates a misunderstanding of the scientific method. “Scientism” is nothing more than a bogeyman dreamt up by the post-modernists.

    All forms of genetic or neurological determinism entering the province of social values and decisions, fall under the nomer of scientism, and need firm resistance.

    Well, if you want to structure society in a way that works, the best way to do so is based on scientific evidence and the evidence suggests that genetic and neurological determinism are largely true, though environment has an equally large impact.

  169. In reply to #178 by Peter Grant:

    You sound like a real moral relativist.

    “Scientism” is nothing more than a bogeyman dreamt up by the post-modernists.

    You skip the arguments and go directly to name calling. Seems a habit. Let me guess, you win every discussion in a whim and feel good about it?

  170. In reply to #179 by siger:

    You skip the arguments and go directly to name calling.

    I would consider moral relativist an insult, but a true moral relativist wouldn’t, same goes for post-modernism. I find the term “scientism” silly and annoying, yet you seem perfectly comfortable using that particular straw man against me. Taking offence, as you can see, is largely subjective. I have not felt personally offended by anything you have said.

    Seems a habit. Let me guess, you win every discussion in a whim and feel good about it?

    This is not about winning, it’s about getting at the truth. I am trying to expose your errors in thinking to you as patiently as I can.

  171. In reply to #177 by siger:

    Scientism has a social agenda (which must remain the province of democratic society only), claims to have definitive knowlegde and demonizes all criticism.

    Who are these advocates of scientific dogma and “scientism”? Where are these scientists who demonize criticism? Please name just one and quote one specific thing they said that is an example. Because I hear people complain about “scientism” but I think its all a strawman. Any scientist who claims definitive knowledge and who demonizes all criticism is a terrible scientist.

  172. In reply to #153 by missbutton:

    Nearly all the world chess champions between 1948 and 1993 came from the Soviet Union. All world chess champions have been men. ‘Top grossing movies’ hardly means the best or most well-written. I wonder what percentage of your list are women? Perhaps Pinker could make another video about how innately superior men are?

    It is reasonably well established that men are superior weightlifters than women. It is also reasonably well established that women make superior financial market traders than men. It has been plausibly suggested that testosterone is responsible In both cases. There is a widespread belief that the brains of women are wired differently to those of men. Might it not be beyond the realms of possibility that in general women and men could excel in different areas?

  173. In reply to #182 by Red Dog:

    For clarity: I called scientism the sentence of Peter Grant: “I mean that we have no way of knowing if things which are immeasurable exist”. Is that not sufficient? A question as “where are all those advocates” seems ridiculous. I can provide you with a list of philosophers and scientists who practice scientism, and you will say you disagree. That would only create a very large playfield for framing and name calling, and it would not help the exchange of arguments that seems impossible here anyhow (which gives away some scientism already.)

    As I start to realize the futility of my efforts and sudden laziness hits me hard, let me just refer to Massimo Pigliucci whom I value very much. And as a top range philosopher/scientist he is more accustomed to pettiness than I am.

    Go get him folks! Don’t hold back now!

  174. In reply to #180 by Peter Grant:

    No you don’t, since you did not react to my arguments. You did not offend me, although maybe I feel some vicarious shame. Muy critique on your name calling was aimed to point out that you diverted from argumentation.

  175. In reply to #185 by siger:

    No you don’t, since you did not react to my arguments.

    You have yet to provide even one coherent argument, all I see are straw men.

  176. In reply to #184 by siger:

    I called scientism the sentence of Peter Grant: “I mean that we have no way of knowing if things which are immeasurable exist”. Is that not sufficient?

    Not really, if my claim was an ideological one I might have said something like, “Immeasurable things do not exist!” I was simply pointing out that we have no way of knowing if immeasurable things exist. If you think we do, then the onus is on you to explain how. For instance, you might try appealing to revelation, but you won’t convince any agnostics that way.

  177. In reply to #187 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #184 by siger:

    I called scientism the sentence of Peter Grant: “I mean that we have no way of knowing if things which are immeasurable exist”. Is that not sufficient?

    Not really, if my claim was an ideological one I might have said something like “Immeasurable things do not exist!”. I…

    Above I gave 3 examples of things that can’t be measured yet do exist. You skipped them and headed for cheap name calling, and when I pointed at that, you did not get back to the examples you skipped, but you dwelled on the specificalities of namecalling which was of no interest. You have made it clear by now that you have nothing much to contribute.

  178. Moderators’ message

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  179. In reply to #184 by siger:

    For clarity: I called scientism the sentence of Peter Grant:

    You are claiming that scientism is some serious movement among scientists. You need to do better than quoting some random person on a comment board.

    Is that not sufficient?
    No

    A question as “where are all those advocates” seems ridiculous.

    Why is it ridiculous? It gets to the very core of your argument. You are claiming that scientists say all sorts of things that I claim virtually no serious scientist says. If I’m right then what you are doing is a classic strawman argument. And if you are right it should be the simplest matter to prove me wrong. If I were to say “climate change deniers regularly lie and distort the facts” I could easily back that up with specific examples.

    I can provide you with a list of philosophers and scientists who practice scientism, and you will say you disagree.

    I don’t want a list. Because a list is just some people who you feel practice scientism and you are right most likely I would disagree. I want one person and one actual comment that is an example of scientism. And not by some anonymous person who comments here but by someone taken seriously as a representative of science. If you can’t provide even one actual specific comment that is an example of scientism then IMO that proves you haven’t really thought through your argument and are just swallowing what various critics of science say.

    I ask for specifics because this strawman argument is something I see people who attack science do all the time. They talk in vague generalities about “scientists” who are dogmatic, arrogant, etc. without ever giving specific examples.

  180. In reply to #188 by siger:

    Above I gave 3 examples of things that can’t be measured yet do exist.

    I presume you mean these three:

    My good mood, the moon until Ptolemeus, a sunrise do exist.

    The measurement of mood does contain an element of subjectivity, but since mood is subjective this is hardly surprising. We can still study mood objectively, using science.

    Just looking at either the moon or the sun serves as a measurement and is enough to entangle you with them on a quantum level.

  181. In reply to #191 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #188 by siger:

    Above I gave 3 examples of things that can’t be measured yet do exist.

    I presume you mean these three:

    My good mood, the moon until Ptolemeus, a sunrise do exist.

    The measurement of mood does contain an element of subjectivity, but since mood is subjective this is hard…

    The question was, if things do exist that can’t be measured (not studied or looked at). So I named a few examples.

    • My good mood exists but can’t be measured.

    • The moon before Ptolemeus existed, but couldn’t be measured.

    • A sunrise exists, but can’t be measured.

    So the answer is that things exist than can’t be measured, even for an atheist, which I am, without appeal to revelation.

  182. In reply to #192 by siger:

    So the answer is that things exist than can’t be measured, even for an atheist, which I am.

    In practice things may exist which cannot be measured. I have no way of knowing exactly how many people are awake at any given moment and how many are asleep. However, in principle this can be measured because at any given moment there is a finite number of people alive, one subset of which is awake and the other asleep.

    If things exist which cannot be measured in principle then I do not seen how we can know anything about them, or in what sense anyone can claim they exist.

  183. In reply to #193 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #192 by siger:

    So the answer is that things exist than can’t be measured, even for an atheist, which I am.

    In practice things may exist which cannot be measured. I have no way of knowing exactly how many people are awake at any given moment and how many are asleep. However, in principl…

    First you modified “measurement” in “study” and “looking at” and now
    you add “in principle” after “measurement”. I really don’ know what this is about anymore. What is your point alltogether?

  184. In reply to #190 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #184 by siger:

    For clarity: I called scientism the sentence of Peter Grant:

    You are claiming that scientism is some serious movement among scientists. You need to do better than quoting some random person on a comment board.

    Is that not sufficient?
    No

    A question as “where are all tho…

    Please follow the link to Pigliucci above. I quit.

  185. The following study contends that Arab Jews have the same IQ as non-Jews and that this is because they were not confined to occupations which required more than average reading and counting skills.
    EUROPEAN AND ORIENTAL JEWS IN ISRAEL

    It would seem that the current advantage to white American males from being Jewish is contingent and likely to be transitory. The same would apply to the disadvantage of being prone to disease.

    Pinker is in his usual sparkling form but there are quite a few vague areas. The video is really too long to throw out for comment. It would have been preferable to give the print version (there is one). That would have been more manageable.

  186. In reply to #194 by siger:

    First you modified “measurement” in “study” and “looking at” and now you add “in principle” after “measurement”. I really don’ know what this is about anymore.

    I assumed that we were talking about not measurable in principle, the fact that some things are not yet measurable in practice is trivially true, but science is working on it.

    What is your point alltogether?

    Watch the video.

  187. In reply to #196 by aldous:

    The following study contends that Arab Jews have the same IQ as non-Jews and that this is because they were not confined to occupations which required more than average reading and counting skills.
    EUROPEAN AND ORIENTAL JEWS IN ISRAEL

    Excellent article. I would contend that this is also because their ancestors were subject to less persecution.

    The video is really too long to throw out for comment. It would have been preferable to give the print version (there is one).

    Is this the link?

  188. In reply to #198 by Peter Grant:

    Excellent article. I would contend that is also because their ancestors were subject to less persecution.

    You’ve found the link to the print version of the video lecture.

    That would be a gloomy conclusion. Disease and persecution are good for you?

  189. In reply to #199 by aldous:

    That would be a gloomy conclusion. Disease and persecution are good for you?

    Well persecution seems to be good for intelligence, not necessarily good for individuals. Genetic diseases seem to be a side effect rapid of evolution in any one direction. Look at me: I’m ridiculously smart, but basically miserable…

    Though I must admit, I am at least sometimes capable of reaching incredible heights of mental ecstasy. Intellect is a bit like a drug.

  190. If you can’t measure your mood, how do you know it’s a good mood or a bad mood or indifferent?
    Or are you saying it’s like the weather – good for you might be bad for others.

    In reply to #192 by siger:

    In reply to #191 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #188 by siger:

    Above I gave 3 examples of things that can’t be measured yet do exist.

    I presume you mean these three:

    My good mood, the moon until Ptolemeus, a sunrise do exist.

    The measurement of mood does contain an element of subjectivity, but sin…

  191. In reply to #200 by Peter Grant:

    “a side effect of rapid evolution”

    Fuck! I don’t believe that drugs are bad, but they aren’t necessarily good either.

  192. In reply to #203 by Smill:

    What it actually feels like remains subjective, but we can still study subjective experience objectively.

  193. In reply to #205 by Smill:

    In reply to Marvin, the miserable mountaineer, post 204. Show me how the scientific method does that. : )

    I have been trying, I wish I could. It seems to be beyond my capabilities.

    Unfortunately, stupidity is infinite.

  194. In reply to #207 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 206. How do you measure subjective experience?

    Subjectively. You ask people questions.

  195. In reply to #209 by Smill:

    Do you feel more sad than usual? How is that a measure?

    What other measure makes more sense? If you can find one better I will adopt it.

  196. In reply to #207 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 206. How do you measure subjective experience? How do you explain mood or a sunset quantitatively, with a measure? If these are stupid questions at least tell me why, i am on a learning curve.

    Its not a stupid question and over the years there have been a lot of smart people like B.F. Skinner who asked the same question and decided the answer was you just can’t do it and you can’t do science and treat things like emotions, intentions, and beliefs as first class objects in your theory. But although I’m sure there are still some hard core behaviorists out there I think its reasonable to say that there is a consensus among most psychologists these days that you can measure and theorize about such things. The book Moral Minds by Marc Hauser is filled with research where cognitive scientists find clever ways to try to replicate and measure things like anger, empathy, envy, etc. Also, Steven Pinker’s recent book The Better Angels.

    Its never an easy thing to do and for almost every experiment there will be someone who says for example “giving someone hot sauce is not a reasonable substitute for hostility” That’s a real example, I was reading the book a while ago and he came to a point where he the research question was will people who are angry perform differently so he said “so out comes the hot sauce”.

    One of the most interesting results is that there is a measurable difference in the way men in the Southern US and Northern US respond to aggression Northern males are more likely to shrug off minor insults, Southern males are more likely to take them as insults to their honor. There was an experiment where they had someone rudely bump into the test subject and then they measured the response, I forget how, the point is that there are lots of clever ways to do it but the critique that “your are measuring response to hot sauce not aggression” is always something to be aware of.

  197. If you feel really bad about yourself, perhaps you are suffering from depression. If it is really serious then you may need to be assessed by a clinical psychologist who will probably ask you questions about your feelings and actions. But can this assessment be described as a scientific measurement? If not, does that mean it will not be in the future? Neuroscience is progressing nicely with advancements in biology, computing and scanning technology.

    In reply to #203 by Smill:

    In reply to Marktony, post 201. A subjective experience cannot be explained by a scientific measurement. How can you measure how I feel about myself? How do you explain melancholy mathematically? Some things exist in life that cannot be expressed or understood through the language of science but…

  198. I’d suggest you see your GP.

    In reply to #213 by Smill:

    In reply to Marktony, post 212. I am suffering because of bereavement. Can science help me with that?

  199. In reply to #213 by Smill:

    In reply to Marktony, post 212. I am suffering because of bereavement. Can science help me with that?

    Science can tell you that talking to a therapist will probably help. In The Folly of Fools biologist Robert Trivers presents some very convincing evidence that talking about traumatic events such as those associated with bereavement can measurably decrease the stress resulting from such events

  200. It would be difficult to find a people more persecuted than the Australian Aborigines, yet according to IQ tests they are all retarded. I can’t believe that supposedly sceptical people on a science website are buying this bigoted and dangerous nonsense without even questioning it. We all know that Hitler was a lunatic who said that Jews were inferior to the rest of the human race, now we have Pinker saying that the rest of the human race are inferior to Jews. WTF? In reply to #200 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #199 by aldous:

    That would be a gloomy conclusion. Disease and persecution are good for you?

    Well persecution seems to be good for intelligence, not necessarily good for individuals. Genetic diseases seem to be a side effect rapid of evolution in any one direction. Look at me: I’m ridi…

  201. In reply to #219 by missbutton:

    WTF?

    Here we go again, did you even read the comment you are responding to? Pinker is saying that Ashkenazi Jews are INTELLECTUALLY superior ON AVERAGE.

    Why get upset about an average? The average intelligence of any race is still quite stupid.

  202. And before anyone else calls me a Nazi, consider that if I was a totalitarian absolutist I would happily do away with anyone who lies within the group popularly depicted on the bell curve.

  203. In reply to #221 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant and Miss Button. Did Pinker say ‘superior’? I thought he said ‘advantage’. It’s also an advantage to be healthy or strong, etc. And let’s not leave out ‘altruistic’.

    Totally agree with the crucial distinction between an advantage and superior, that is the whole point really, Pinker is looking at this the way an evolutionary biologist would but people can’t resist putting value judgements on it even though he is always crystal clear that he refutes such judgements.

    Not sure what your point on altruism was though, by definition from the standpoint of an individual altruism per se is not an evolutionary advantage, unless you mean special cases such as kin selection and reciprocal altruism where acts that seem altruistic actually are for the long term benefit of the organism’s genes.

  204. In reply to #224 by siger:

    Steven Pinker is not an evolutionary biologist.

    No, but at least he seems to have read (and understood!) Dawkins.

  205. I’m upset about the how unscientific these tests are. There are so many unanswered questions that Pinker’s assertions aren’t worth a damn as they stand. In reply to #220 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #219 by missbutton:

    WTF?

    Here we go again, did you even read the comment you are responding to? Pinker is saying that Ashkenazi Jews are INTELLECTUALLY superior ON AVERAGE.

    Why get upset about an average? The average intelligence of any race is still quite stupid.

  206. He doesn’t need to say it. He wouldn’t be that stupid. ‘More intelligent and successful’ translates as ‘superior’ in most people’s minds, I’m sure. In reply to #221 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant and Miss Button. Did Pinker say ‘superior’? I thought he said ‘advantage’. It’s also an advantage to be healthy or strong, etc. And let’s not leave out ‘altruistic’.

  207. In reply to #226 by missbutton:

    I’m upset about the how unscientific these tests are.

    I find it upsetting that you don’t recognise science when you see it. Why don’t you think IQ tests are scientific? How many have you done?

  208. In reply to #227 by missbutton:

    ‘More intelligent and successful’ translates as ‘superior’ in most people’s minds, I’m sure.

    General superiority is subjective, most Jews I know suck at sports.

  209. You could go back and read over my comments. For someone who is self-described as ‘ridiculously smart’ I find it frustrating that you never seem to understand what I’m getting at. In reply to #228 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #226 by missbutton:

    I’m upset about the how unscientific these tests are.

    I find it upsetting that you don’t recognise science when you see it. Why don’t you think IQ tests are scientific? How many have you done?

  210. In reply to #230 by missbutton:

    For someone who is self-described as ‘ridiculously smart’ I find it frustrating that you never seem to understand what I’m getting at.

    I think I understand what you are “getting at”, I’m just finding it difficult to explain to you why it is wrong.

  211. There is just no way in hell that African Americans are genetically inferior when it comes to intelligence than anyone else. Same goes for any other ‘group’. I don’t think anyone has brought up the Flynn effect, whereby there has been a steady across-the-board increase in overall IQ scores since their inception. The increase is too rapid to be accounted for by genetic selection. It’s clear that environmental factors are the reason. It’s also a well-known truth that children will rise to expectations. Don’t expect much from them, and they won’t achieve much. I was disgusted when I took my son to an orientation evening for a school I was intending to send him to. It had a high percentage of ‘ethnic minorities’, and my disgust was from the attitude of the principal and teachers who assumed that everyone going there would be an illiterate book-hater. The principal talked about nothing else in his speech. There was no mention of anything positive with regard to achievement, just patronising put-downs. Needless to say I sent my son elsewhere. One of my favourite movies is Stand and Deliver. Every patronising PC school teacher should be made to watch it.

  212. In reply to #233 by missbutton:

    There is just no way in hell that African Americans are genetically inferior when it comes to intelligence than anyone else.

    Except maybe Asians and almost certainly Ashkenazi Jews.

    I don’t think anyone has brought up the Flynn effect, whereby there has been a steady across-the-board increase in overall IQ scores since their inception. The increase is too rapid to be accounted for by genetic selection. It’s clear that environmental factors are the reason.

    So what? No one is denying that environment has an effect. (Why else I would be wasting my time?)

  213. In reply to #226 by missbutton:

    I’m upset about the how unscientific these tests are. There are so many unanswered questions that Pinker’s assertions aren’t worth a damn as they stand. In reply to #220 by Peter Grant:

    No, I think you’re upset at their implications not their scientific validity. Do I need to repost the quote from The American Psychological Association’s report? You continually ignore what real scientists, not biased by ideology, say and continue to think you know what real science is. If you actually read the report, which I doubt you will, it does say there there are both environmental and genetic components to intelligence. This is mainstream scientific thinking based on real evidence, not feel-good wishy-washy Hollywood pablum.

  214. In reply to #234 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #233 by missbutton:

    There is just no way in hell that African Americans are genetically inferior when it comes to intelligence than anyone else.

    Except maybe Asians and almost certainly Ashkenazi Jews.

    I wonder what Pinker has to say about the wives of white American Jewish male Nobel prizewinners.

  215. Perhaps we should pay a tribute to the American state school system — in New York, at least. (In American, in contrast to British English, ‘public schools’ are state-funded schools)

    Unquestionably, a major reason for the remarkable progress and accomplishments of Jewish Americans since the end of the 19th century is the first-rate educations that millions received in New York City’s public schools.

    New York schools

  216. In reply to #236 by aldous:

    I wonder what Pinker has to say about the wives of white American Jewish male Nobel prizewinners.

    Relevance?

  217. You still haven’t refuted any of my points. Psychologists aren’t scientists either. Why on earth would I care what the ‘American Psychological Association’ has to say about anything? Clearly there are no sceptics on here, just fascists and ‘ridiculously smart’ individuals. In reply to #235 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #226 by missbutton:

    I’m upset about the how unscientific these tests are. There are so many unanswered questions that Pinker’s assertions aren’t worth a damn as they stand. In reply to #220 by Peter Grant:

    No, I think you’re upset at their implications not their scientific validity. D…

  218. In reply to #239 by missbutton:

    Psychologists aren’t scientists either.

    Not all psychologists no, but some like Pinker and Harris are.

  219. In reply to #241 by missbutton:

    Clearly I’m not ‘ridiculously smart’ enough to work out how to post a link.

    You don’t have to be ‘ridiculously smart’ to work out how to post a link:

    Help with formatting click here

  220. In reply to #241 by missbutton:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/12/19/intelligence-iq-test-debunked.html
    The results showed that how people performed at the tests could only be explained with at least three distinct components: short-term memory, reasoning and verbal ability.

    You have to be proficient in all three areas to score high on an IQ test. This is interesting, but it hardly invalidates IQ.

    Far more interesting are the attempts which have been made to measure creativity and emotional intelligence or empathy.

  221. I’ve had enough of this distasteful nazi rubbish. Why are people being lumped into random ‘groups’ based on assumptions about their ‘race’? Why is Judaism classed as a ‘race’ while Islam and Christianity are not? Who is ‘white’?

  222. In reply to #244 by missbutton:

    I’ve had enough of this distasteful nazi rubbish. Why are people being lumped into random ‘groups’ based on assumptions about their ‘race’? Why is Judaism classed as a ‘race’ while Islam and Christianity are not? Who is ‘white’?

    Replace race with gene pool and it should make more sense.

  223. I really couldn’t give a rat’s arse any more about their ‘superior’ gene pool. How do you know all the people in the test didn’t have these ‘superior genes’? Was everyone given blood tests? Were they tested for an atheism gene? Were the atheists separated out from the religious nuts? According to some studies atheists have the highest average score. Does becoming an atheist increase IQ score? Atheist does not automatically translate as ‘sceptic’- that’s obvious on here. If I were going to be judged by ‘group’ then I would be pissed to be lumped in with fundy christians or muslims. In reply to #245 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #244 by missbutton:

    I’ve had enough of this distasteful nazi rubbish. Why are people being lumped into random ‘groups’ based on assumptions about their ‘race’? Why is Judaism classed as a ‘race’ while Islam and Christianity are not? Who is ‘white’?

    Replace race with gene pool and it sh…

  224. Here is probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen (even worse than the bell curve), no wonder there are so few Einsteins:

    An often cited model is what has come to be known as “the threshold hypothesis,” proposed by Ellis Paul Torrance, which holds that a high degree of intelligence appears to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for high creativity.[34] That is, while there is a positive correlation between creativity and intelligence, this correlation disappears for IQs above a threshold of around 120. Such a model has found acceptance by many researchers, although it has not gone unchallenged.[59] A study in 1962 by Getzels and Jackson among high school students concluded that high IQ and high creativity tend to be mutually exclusive with a majority of the highest scoring students being either highly creative or highly intelligent, but not both. While this explains the threshold, the exact interaction between creativity and IQ remains unexplained.[60] A 2005 meta-Analysis found only small correlations between IQ and creativity tests and did not support the threshold theory.[61]

  225. Moderators’ message

    Please keep contributions to the discussion thoughtful and civil, and avoid making insulting remarks about other users who disagree with you.

    Thank you.

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  226. Apparently if you go by Nationality then Hong Kong and South Korea have the highest average. Go figure. In reply to #247 by Peter Grant:

    Here is probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen (even worse than the bell curve), no wonder there are so few Einsteins:

    An often cited model is what has come to be known as “the threshold hypothesis,” proposed by Ellis Paul Torrance, which holds that a high degree of intelligence appears…

  227. There aren’t that many Beethovens or Mozarts either. Those people stand out BECAUSE they are freaks. They are the ones who carry the rest of the human race. In reply to #247 by Peter Grant:

    Here is probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen (even worse than the bell curve), no wonder there are so few Einsteins:

    An often cited model is what has come to be known as “the threshold hypothesis,” proposed by Ellis Paul Torrance, which holds that a high degree of intelligence appears…

  228. In reply to #250 by missbutton:

    There aren’t that many Beethovens or Mozarts either. Those people stand out BECAUSE they are freaks. They are the ones who carry the rest of the human race.

    So true! I’m glad we agree on something at last.

  229. In reply to #249 by missbutton:

    Apparently if you go by Nationality then Hong Kong and South Korea have the highest average.

    IQ or creativity?

  230. I will go with atheists being the supreme rulers of Planet Intelligence. At least that’s ‘race’ neutral. :)

  231. In reply to #253 by missbutton:

    I will go with atheists being the supreme rulers of planet intelligence. At least that’s ‘race’ neutral. :)

    Upgrade that to skeptics and I’m with you!

  232. Ok, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t be in that group. Sceptics question everything. :)In reply to #254 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #253 by missbutton:

    I will go with atheists being the supreme rulers of planet intelligence. At least that’s ‘race’ neutral. :)

    Upgrade that to skeptics and I’m with you!

  233. Sceptics question everything.
    (It’s strict on here. The Richard Dawkins channel on Youtube has no moderation at all, and it could definitely use some).
    In reply to #254 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #253 by missbutton:

    I will go with atheists being the supreme rulers of planet intelligence. At least that’s ‘race’ neutral. :)

    Upgrade that to skeptics and I’m with you!

  234. In reply to #246 by missbutton:

    Does becoming an atheist increase IQ score?

    No, but it does increase the likelihood that you would have scored a high IQ.

  235. In reply to #256 by missbutton:

    Sceptics question everything.

    Yes, but they also recognise their limitations. Not everyone can be an expert on everything.

  236. You don’t know it doesn’t increase IQ score. No one knows whether it does or not. In reply to #257 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #246 by missbutton:

    Does becoming an atheist increase IQ score?

    No, but it does increase the likelihood that you would have scored a high IQ.

  237. You don’t have to be an expert to question. Children do it all the time. Richard Feynman spoke about it in his interesting way. In reply to #258 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #256 by missbutton:

    Sceptics question everything.

    Yes, but they also recognise their limitations. Not everyone can be an expert on everything.

  238. This is just irritating. I keep having the most mild and inoffensive posts removed by someone. There’s no point in commenting under those conditions. I asked someone why I should care what the American Association of Psychologists says about something, and that was removed, yet the post I had responded to that implied I have an agenda got to stay? Who are these people? They are ruining the site. Fair enough if someone is swearing and abusive, but this is ridiculous. This will probably disappear after a minute. It’s an abuse of power.

  239. In reply to #261 by missbutton:

    This is just irritating. I keep having the most mild and inoffensive posts removed by someone. There’s no point in commenting under those conditions. I asked someone why I should care what the American Association of Psychologists says about something, and that was removed, yet the post I had responded to that implied I have an agenda got to stay? Who are these people? They are ruining the site. Fair enough if someone is swearing and abusive, but this is ridiculous. This will probably disappear after a minute. It’s an abuse of power.

    Just caught this out of the corner of my eye on the home page so I have no clue as to the merits of your particular case. So that is not what I am commenting on. But I do wish to pop in right-quick to take this opportunity to second the observation that moderation often errs heavy-handedly on the side of sacrificing truth on the altar of ( highly subjective and arbitrary notions) of civility.

    Moderation is a thankless damned if you do damned if you don’t job and we should appreciate those who volunteer to do it. But I would suggest that the ladies and gentlemen of the jury hold back a little bit more and wait to jump in until things really get out of hand. We are all supposed to be rationalists on this site. We should be more resistant to be a bit of a verbal jostle than you give us credit for.

  240. This is unbelievable. Power corrupts, and whoever the mod is on here is a power-crazed wank-job. Piss off.

  241. In reply to #260 by missbutton:

    You don’t have to be an expert to question.

    There is a difference between asking questions because you are curious and questioning the conclusions of experts.

  242. In reply to #259 by missbutton:

    You don’t know it doesn’t increase IQ score.

    How could a lack of believe in gods directly cause an increase in IQ? By what possible mechanism?

  243. In reply to #266 by Smill:

    Both of you, please! It’s like pulling teeth : (

    Trust me, the pain is mutual. I’m not engaging in this exchange for the fun of it.

  244. One of the vague areas in Pinker’s presentation was gender difference. Ashkenazim got smart because of the counting and reading they had to do in their business activities. Sephardim were no smarter than goys because they were not restricted to brainy occupations. But the wives of the moneylenders were not obviously more cerebrally stretched than other homemakers. Therefore, what is the influence of gender difference on ethnic IQ?

    What about the wives of Nobel laureates?

  245. In reply to #268 by aldous:

    In response to the more general question of sex differences in IQ:

    If I remember correctly, on average the sexes are about the same, but there is greater variation in males. So, slightly more women have average IQs, while among men there are slightly higher numbers of geniuses and retards. Men are also more susceptible to psychosis,
    much of all this has to do with the effects of testosterone on the brain.

  246. In reply to #270 by Katy Cordeth:

    Retards?

    Mentally disabled? The 0.1% who score below 55? Call them what you like, they still drool.

  247. In reply to #270 by Katy Cordeth:

    Retards?

    This is Nobel Prize winners we are discussing here, so by genius I mean at least 3 standard deviations or less than 0.1% of the population. If you go as far in the opposite direction you get severe mental retardation, I’m not talking about people who are a little slow when I use the term.

  248. In reply to #269 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #268 by aldous:
    If I remember correctly, on average the sexes are about the same, but there is greater variation in males. So, slightly more women have average IQs, while among men there are slightly higher numbers of g…

    Yes, but the issue was not about the sexes in general but about the advantage to a specific ethnic group of an IQ that was raised because of the requirements of their professional occupations. Since their wives did not have this occupational boost, where does that put their IQ?

  249. In reply to #273 by aldous:

    Since their wives did not have this occupational boost, where does that put their IQ?

    On average roughly equal, but remember that Nobel Prize winners are freakishly intelligent and that men have a very slightly higher chance of being either freakishly intelligent or freakishly stupid.

  250. In reply to #274 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #273 by aldous:

    Since their wives did not have this occupational boost, where does that put their IQ?

    On average roughly equal, but remember that Nobel Prize winners are freakishly intelligent and that men have a very slightly higher chance of being either freakishly intelligent or fre…

    It would be very surprising, don’t you think, if the wives of Nobel Laureates had, as a group, an IQ ‘roughly equal’ to that of their husbands? The same question could be raised about groups at lesser levels of intellectual attainment.

    However, the article by Pinker we are discussing, amounts to no more than a summary and analysis of Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence . It was misguided, in the first place, to put up the video for discussion because of the time it takes to watch it and the difficulties of following an argument of this length and complexity in spoken, as opposed to written, form. After tracking down the written text which Pinker read out in his video lecture, it becomes clear that a useful discussion of the issue would be based on a reading of the evidence and argument of the original paper by CGH which focusses on the role of disease in increasing intelligence.

  251. In reply to #275 by aldous:

    It would be very surprising, don’t you think, if the wives of Nobel Laureates had, as a group, an IQ ‘roughly equal’ to that of their husbands?

    Yes it would. Though there does seem to be some correlation in IQ between couples, it is nowhere near that high!

    I meant that Jewish women are on average roughly equal in intelligence to Jewish men.

  252. In reply to #276 by Peter Grant:

    I meant that Jewish women are on average roughly equal in intelligence to Jewish men.

    I see, you meant that Ashkenazi men Nobel prizewinners and those of lesser but outstanding intellectual achievement are married to Ashkenazi women. I don’t know about bankers, moneylenders, financiers, top lawyers and chess players but I suppose it wouldn’t be too difficult to find out which of the marriages of Nobel laureates were in that category.

    Do you have any idea or are you just making an assumption?

  253. In reply to #278 by aldous:

    Do you have any idea or are you just making an assumption?

    I just don’t see how it’s relevant, this is about averages across populations.

  254. In reply to #282 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 281. I meant it’s relevant because I am wary of fudged conclusions: the way in which statistical information is used to support pet theories. That’s why language also has to be precise. I like it that you ask me to be precise…roughly speaking.

    When dealing with statistics (and science generally) one always has to allow for a margin of error. That’s why I said roughly. In some tests men perform better, in others women, but on average they perform roughly equal.

    Quite frankly I don’t see what the spouses of Nobel laureates has to do with the matter, so I assumed that this was a question about the sexes.

  255. In reply to #268 by aldous:

    Therefore, what is the influence of gender difference on ethnic IQ?

    OK, now I think I see where this was going. You think that because the selective pressure was placed on males that only men would get smarter. No, sorry, that’s not how it works. If genes for intelligence are being selected they will end up in both sexes.

  256. If there is one message I would like readers of this thread to take away with them it is this:

    Whenever a clever scientist presents evidence based conclusions don’t assume that just because you don’t like them that he (or she) is a racist, sexist pig, without bothering to take the effort to understand the theory underlying the research being presented.

  257. In reply to #287 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant MP (The Science Party). That was a party political broadcast on behalf of… I am only kidding. I can only speak for myself but it isn’t about ‘not liking’ conclusions. It’s about the lessons and warnings of history.

    Science is all about learning from history. The evil ideologies of Lysenkoism and Social Darwinism, imposed upon science for a short time and in a few places, will be cursed and reviled by every generation of scientists yet to come… Mainly because they don’t work.

  258. In reply to #289 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 288. Oh… science humour!

    Yeah, the thing about science humour is that if you don’t get it the joke’s on you.

  259. in reply to PG, post290. Humour has it’s limits. And one must recognise that, in order for it to be effective, it needs to be socially and culturally appropriate.

  260. In reply to #291 by Smill:

    in reply to PG, post290. Humour has it’s limits. Oh yes, and one must recognise that, in order for it to be effective, it needs to be socially and culturally appropriate.

    Bullshit! Society and culture are stupid. I’m not aiming to entertain idiots, but to educate them. Children need to be educationally entertained. Adults don’t need to be coddled.

  261. In reply to #285 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #268 by aldous:
    If genes for intelligence are being selected they will end up in both sexes.

    If you mean that there will be as many high intellectual achievers among women as among men, this is not borne out by the facts which Pinker cites.

    Though never exceeding 3 percent of the American population, Jews account for
    37 percent of the winners of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 25 percent of
    the American Nobel Prize winners in literature, 40 percent of the American
    Nobel Prize winners in science and economics, and so on. On the world stage,
    we find that 54 percent of the world chess champions have had one or two
    Jewish parents.

  262. In reply to #294 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #293 by aldous:

    See comment #269 … If I remember correctly, on average the sexes are about the same, but there is greater variation in males. So, slightly more women have average IQs, while among men there are slightly higher numbers of geniuses and retards. Men are also more susceptible to psychosis, much of all this has to do with the effects of testosterone on the brain.

    Your thesis is that women, by endocrinological definition, are disadvantaged at the higher levels of intelligence required for achievements, such as those listed by Pinker — U.S. National Medal of Science, Nobel prizes, world chess championships? In that case, women are condemned to be second best. Or do you have a treatment suggestion. In the case of ethnic advantage, that depends on the degree of integration into the larger society. In the case of Trinity College, Cambridge, perhaps there are not enough centres of excellence in the UK.

  263. In reply to #295 by aldous:

    Your thesis is that women, by endocrinological definition, are disadvantaged at the higher levels of intelligence required for achievements, such as those listed by Pinker

    Not necessarily. It might simply be statistical factors in the genetics that make women more prone to also developing in a certain way, just as some genetic disorders are more prominent in males than in females. But no one would argue that a disorder that effects males is inherent to maleness; it’s just that the human process for creating male offspring and developing them can also be accompanied by some genetic baggage. That means it doesn’t have to be “by endocrinal definition”, but just a biological quirk.

    Also, it could simply be a matter of probabilistic luck that men dominate those fields, with no “biological” male advantage. You have to remember that, if the population present is smaller than the probability range, random correlations between irrelevant factors and specific traits give the illusion of causality. There are about seven billion people on the planet, but the probability of any of them being geniuses might be three hundred in eight hundred trillion trillion, and they might just happen to be mostly male by sheer random luck. The real important factors could be hidden and near-impossible to isolate. In some parallel universe somewhere, we’re probably wondering why women dominate the Nobel prize shortlists, or tanned people, or Africans, or football fans, or people with blue cars and red hair who listen to Shakespeare on audiobook.

  264. In reply to #297 by Zeuglodon:

    I like the first paragraph, it makes sense.

    The second paragraph seems to be self-refuting. If genius was that rare there probably wouldn’t be any.

  265. In reply to #297 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #295 by aldous:
    It might simply be statistical factors in the genetics that make women more prone to also developing in a certain way

    The thesis I highlighted was one I was questioning, not endorsing. Actually the sparsity of women on Pinker’s intellectual high-achievers list is something that may be contingent and transitory. At a cursory glance I noticed more women’ in recent years being awarded the National Medal of Science, for example.

    I doubt if the level of intelligence required for such awards is really so extraordinary that only a handful of geniuses can meet the standard. Women, Muslims and other groups suffer from economic and social disadvantages which may prove to be the critical factors, whether or not there are just as many geniuses among them, proportionately, as at Trinity College, Cambridge, or within an exclusive ethnic group.

  266. In reply to #298 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #297 by Zeuglodon:

    I like the first paragraph, it makes sense.

    The second paragraph seems to be self-refuting. If genius was that rare there probably wouldn’t be any.

    I made the numbers up, obviously, but my point was that if the probability required a denominator that’s bigger than the population at large, it would be easier to get meaningless correlations. It’s the Law of Large Numbers: if you don’t have a decent-sized sample for your study, you can find patterns in coincidences much more easily. For instance, if you roll a six-sided die only twice and got two and four, you’d erroneously conclude that the dice is systematically biased in favour of even numbers. That’s an exaggerated example, but the principle is the same when applied to men and women. Since mostly men get recognition for genius, it’s tempting to think something about maleness causes them to get such recognition, when really it might simply be the luck of the draw combined with the fact that our population is way too small to be adequate for studying something as rare and unusual as genius.

    In reply to #299 by aldous:

    In reply to #297 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #295 by aldous:
    It might simply be statistical factors in the genetics that make women more prone to also developing in a certain way

    The thesis I highlighted was one I was questioning, not endorsing. Actually the sparsity of women on Pinker’s intellectua…

    Well, yes, in hindsight I admit I wasn’t necessarily disagreeing with you there. However, I do think it is possible, though not actually confirmed or even proven, that a biological factor is present beyond the banal observation that all brains are evolved organs. My first paragraph, though, makes the case that even if females were “disadvantaged” and it had a biological explanation, it would be spurious to treat it as an essential thing, for the same reason male-specific genetic diseases aren’t inherently “masculine” in any sense.

  267. In reply to #300 by Zeuglodon:

    I made the numbers up, obviously, but my point was that if the probability required a denominator that’s bigger than the population at large, it would be easier to get meaningless correlations.

    Genius is not that rare and the population is enormous.

    From the link I posted previously:

    Some studies have identified the degree of IQ variance as a difference between males and females. Males tend to show greater variability on many traits including tests of cognitive abilities,[54][55] though this may differ between countries.[56][57][58][59] A 2005 study by Ian Deary, Paul Irwing, Geoff Der, and Timothy Bates, focusing on the ASVAB showed a significantly higher variance in male scores, resulting in more than twice as many men as women scoring in the top 2%. The study also found a very small (d’ ≈ 0.07, less than 7%, of a standard deviation) average male advantage in g.[2] A 2006 study by Rosalind Arden and Robert Plomin focused on children aged 2, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10 and stated that there was greater variance “among boys at every age except age two despite the girls’ mean advantage from ages two to seven. Girls are significantly over-represented, as measured by chi-square tests, at the high tail and boys at the low tail at ages 2, 3 and 4. By age 10 the boys have a higher mean, greater variance and are over-represented in the high tail.”[60]

  268. In summary, from the same link:

    Most IQ tests are constructed so that there are no differences between the average (mean) scores of females and males.[1] Areas where differences in mean scores have been found include verbal and mathematical ability.[1] The variability of male scores is greater than that of females, however, resulting in substantially more males than females in the top and bottom of the IQ distribution.[2]

  269. In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted on RDFRS?

    This is a prime example of political correctness run amok. How is stating plain facts or exploring the scientific possibility that intelligence is inheritable and that there are between group differences in intelligence in and of itself racist? Note that he doesn’t say this contention has been proven. He goes over the evidence and plainly states where the evidence is lacking.

  270. In reply to #301 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #300 by Zeuglodon:

    I made the numbers up, obviously, but my point was that if the probability required a denominator that’s bigger than the population at large, it would be easier to get meaningless correlations.

    Genius is not that rare and the population is enormous.

    From the link I…

    I still think I have a relevant point about the risk of falling afoul of the Law of Large Numbers, because it’s in the nature of statistics to be vulnerable to chance. Also, I’m not sure genius is simply about having a high IQ score; maybe it also depends upon how that intelligence is employed, so it could also have environmental factors (economic, political, cultural, etc.). However, if the tests are frequent and consistent, then I concede you have a point here.

    If it helps, I think in hindsight the first paragraph of mine (the one you liked) put the point well enough for the second paragraph to be unnecessary: even if a correlation was found between sex and test scores, the cause could still be merely a coincidence, not linked to maleness or femaleness but to something else (like a genetic quirk among one or other sex).

  271. In reply to #305 by Zeuglodon:

    I still think I have a relevant point about the risk of falling afoul of the Law of Large Numbers, because it’s in the nature of statistics to be vulnerable to chance.

    Generally perhaps, but not in this specific case.

    Also, I’m not sure genius is simply about having a high IQ score; maybe it also depends upon how that intelligence is employed, so it could also have environmental factors (economic, political, cultural, etc.).

    No, it is not sufficient, but high IQ is a necessary prerequisite.

    However, if the tests are frequent and consistent, then I concede you have a point here.

    Thank you.

  272. Of Pinker’s books, I have read The Blank Slate,* How the Mind Works*, and The Stuff of Thought, as well as a number of his journal articles and pieces written for the popular press and I found little to disagree with in any of them. I have not yet read The Better Angels of Our Nature, though I have seen online talks he has given on the subject and found his arguments persuasive. I have also followed the research of V.S. Ramachandran, David Dunning and Justin Kruger (of Dunning-Kruger Effect fame), and Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris (of The Invisible Gorilla fame).

    As a six or seven year old, and again six years ago, at the age of 43, I was diagnosed with ADHD…and paradoxically, I learned my IQ was above the 99th percentile! What’s up with that??!! I have taken real IQ tests, administered by a neuropsychologist and I have read The Mismeasure of Man. As much as I admire Gould, the evidence clearly shows that intelligence is very heritable, but it is also a very slippery phenomenon, one that evolutionary psychology has done much to make more tractable. Our brains evolved to solve the sort of problems encountered in our Pleistocene environment, not to solve differential equations or program computers. No matter what the environment though, variability in being able to “think outside the box,” to build a better mousetrap or flint tool, is a trait that natural selection can operate on.

    I am aware of no reasons to conclude that measured, repeatable differences on context-appropriate IQ tests among ethnically, culturally, or socioeconomically distinct populations are irredeemable. In fact, building a just society requires that any such variances be identified, acknowledged, their causes reliably determined, and addressed. Measures of “intelligence” can certainly be misapplied at best, and deliberately misused at worst, but that does not make the idea of “intelligence” meaningless.

    I am a professional employment specialist and I see the crippling effects of an absence of “intelligence” every day. I am talking the simple stuff, like not following the instructions for applying for a position, or filling out a job application….in pencil. The work of Dunning and Kruger, I think, hit on a major, cross-cultural, and trans-ethnic component of intelligence–metacognition–the ability to reflect on one’s own thought process.

    One of the best characterizations of the conundrum of “intelligence” I have come across was in a 2012 article in Science (reference below). One of the outstanding puzzles in the field is that the genetic influence on intelligence seems the weakest (though not non-existent) in children, at roughly 20%, but in older adults is as much as 80%. In the same article, Robert Plomin, a behavioral geneticist with Kings College, points out that while genes may not identifiably affect raw, cognitive horsepower, they can predispose people to seek out particular environments. Kids do not have much of a choice, but they do as they mature. The piece quotes Plomin as saying, “Do you read books and talk to people who make you think more, or do you lobotomize yourself with television?” A good question, as anyone that has even a passing acquaintance with the modern American television landscape can attest to the “lobotomizing” potential of the medium.

    Plomin concedes that his hypothesis would be difficult, though not impossible, to test. The effects of countless, seemingly inconsequential, small choices over the course of a lifetime add up. Ensuring that good alternatives to self-lobotomization are available and incentivizing folks actually choosing them is a project that, I hope, everyone can agree on.

    Miller, G. ‘Why Are You and Your Brain Unique?’ Science. 338, p.35–36; (5 Oct. 2012). doi:10.1126/science.338.6103.35

  273. The fact that Jews have historically demonstrated a degree of talent and intelligence disproportionate to their percentage of the population as a whole can’t be denied. It is also incontrovertible that as a group, they have consistently graded superior scores on IQ tests – which is certainly not an infallible measurement, but is nevertheless the most objective gauge of innate intelligence currently available. I’ve heard this phenomenon explained by the assertion that for several millennium as a closed and self-segregating community, they’ve practiced a form of eugenics, where those that exhibited the greatest degree of intellectual ability assumed leadership positions, and with that the greatest opportunity to procreate. Whether that’s actually true or not, I don’t know, but it sounds like logical explanation …

  274. In reply to #308 by SalGagliano:

    I’ve heard this phenomenon explained by the assertion that for several millennium as a closed and self-segregating community, they’ve practiced a form of eugenics, where those that exhibited the greatest degree of intellectual ability assumed leadership positions, and with that the greatest opportunity to procreate. Whether that’s actually true or not, I don’t know, but it sounds like logical explanation …

    If this were true, not only leaders must usually have more offspring than other Askhenazi; offspring of leaders must also become leaders thanks to their “intelligence”; and Ashkenazi then must beget an ever larger fraction of leaders within their populations.

    Keep looking. As long as it is anything with genes…

  275. In reply to #308 by SalGagliano:

    The fact that Jews have historically demonstrated a degree of talent and intelligence disproportionate to their percentage of the population as a whole can’t be denied.

    Since when? About 1900?

  276. Well, what’s your explanation then? Of course it has to do with genes in some way. That much is axiomatic. IQ as a measure of intelligence is at least in part genetically inherited. This is indisputable. The assertion that this phenomenon is largely culturally based has absolutely no basis in demonstrable reality, and is simply an attempt to avoid the controversial nature of this subject. Since we’re talking about Jews, just consider how many accomplished Jewish scientists, entertainers, musicians, entrepreneurs, etc. not only self-identify as atheist, but claim to have been raised as such. Reality exists independent of our preferences with respect to what we would like it to be …

    In reply to #309 by siger:

    In reply to #308 by SalGagliano:

    I’ve heard this phenomenon explained by the assertion that for several millennium as a closed and self-segregating community, they’ve practiced a form of eugenics, where those that exhibited the greatest degree of intellectual ability assumed leadership positions, a…

  277. In reply to #309 by siger:

    If this were true, not only leaders must usually have more offspring than other Askhenazi; offspring of leaders must also become leaders thanks to their “intelligence”; and Ashkenazi then must beget an ever larger fraction of leaders within their populations.

    Not saying I agree with any theory based on eugenics, but your criticism is sophomoric. The number of leaders would necessarily remain the same, but the level of competition for leadership roles would also obviously increase as the average intelligence increased.

  278. Ashkenazi Jews do not average 147. If they did, they’d probably have colonized Mars by now. They average around 112.

    In reply to #4 by lessstressed:

    In reply to #2 by siger:

    This man doesn’t stop to disgust me more every time. Terrible evo-psych with “The Blank Slate”, sexist against E. Spelke, despicable revisionist with “The Better Angels”, and now, how predictable, a plain racist. I hope he does it just for the money.

    Why was this posted o…

  279. In reply to #313 by Claudiu:

    Ashkenazi Jews do not average 147. If they did, they’d probably have colonized Mars by now. They average around 112.

    Still depressingly low, we need to find a better method.

  280. In reply to #312 by Peter Grant:

    I don’t know what sophomoric about it. Any explanation based on gene selection does imply that selected genes multiply. Genes don’t get smarter.

    Edit: yes, my mistake, I read the post too fast.

  281. In reply to #311 by SalGagliano:

    Well, what’s your explanation then? Of course it has to do with genes in some way. That much is axiomatic. IQ as a measure of intelligence is at least in part genetically inherited. This is indisputable.

    Well, allow me to dispute your axiom. Lots of arguments have been given in this discussion already. First of all, who counts as an Ashkenazi? It is not clearly delimited group, genetically. Their origin is only 10 centuries in the past, and then they were aalready a mix of other populations in Central Europe, who mass converted to Judaism, certainly for political reasons as things went in those days. Then the IQ tests might be culturally biased; also there is no scientific way to discriminate between genetic heredity and cultural heredity, and if there would really be a difference, the chances that they are cultural are much higher, given the short timespan and the mixed origin of thepopulation.

    And most of all, why do some people take such an interest in a hardly concealed racist point of view? To me a Jew is just an axiomatic normal person.

    Btw, is it normal that I have to load this discussion in six parts? Is it a manner to discourage too long discussions?

  282. In reply to #316 by siger:

    It is not clearly delimited group, genetically. Their origin is only 10 centuries in the past, and then they were aalready a mix of other populations in Central Europe, who mass converted to Judaism, certainly for political reasons as things went in those days.

    Keh?

  283. In reply to #317 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #316 by siger:

    It is not clearly delimited group, genetically. Their origin is only 10 centuries in the past, and then they were aalready a mix of other populations in Central Europe, who mass converted to Judaism, certainly for political reasons as things went in those days.

    Keh?

    I strongly recommend “The Invention of the Jewish People” by Shlomo Sand. Of course a lot of efforts have been made to deny his thesis (for religious and political reasons) yet it seems a lot more reasonable than a biblical people wandering intact for millenia.

    If you don’t like to read the book at least look at wiki .

  284. In reply to #318 by siger:

    I don’t really care about their origins in ancient history, except to the extent that they may help explain why today they are significantly smarter on average.

  285. In reply to #319 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #318 by siger:

    I don’t really care about their origins in ancient history, except to the extent that they may help explain why today they are significantly smarter on average.

    It makes no sense to claim genetic causes without looking at history.
    The history of the Askhenazi refutes the thesis that their average IQ results (which is not necessarily the same as “smarter on average”) could have a genetic basis.

  286. In reply to #320 by siger:

    The history of the Askhenazi refutes the thesis that their average IQ results (which is not the same as “smarter on average”) could have a genetic basis.

    I don’t see how, and yes higher IQ does mean smarter.

  287. In reply to #322 by Smill:

    Why would you not be interested in identifying exactly what you mean by the term ‘Ashkenazi’?

    Ashkenazi Jews

    So, who is the recipient of the ‘high IQ gene’?

    IQ is determined by lots of different genes.

  288. In reply to #321 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #320 by siger:

    The history of the Askhenazi refutes the thesis that their average IQ results […] could have a genetic basis.

    I don’t see how

    So even if an accidental random group would have an higher average IQ than the national average, you don’t see how that can refute a genetic basis?

  289. In reply to #324 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 323. You serve very meager portions.

    Did you even bother reading the article linked to? OK, then I’ll spoon-feed you:

    In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews of Central Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazim were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have identified genetic variations that have high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population. This is true for patrilineal markers (Y-chromosome haplotypes) as well as for matrilineal markers (mitotypes).[22]

    Since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of other nations and faiths, while some Jews have also adopted children from other ethnic groups or from other parts of the world and have raised them as Jews. Conversion to Judaism, rare for nearly 2,000 years, has become more common.[23]

    A 2006 study found Ashkenazi Jews to be a clear, homogeneous genetic subgroup. Strikingly, regardless of the place of origin, Ashkenazi Jews can be grouped in the same genetic cohort — that is, regardless of whether an Ashkenazi Jew’s ancestors came from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Lithuania, or any other place with a historical Jewish population, they belong to the same ethnic group. The research demonstrates the endogamy of the Jewish population in Europe and lends further credence to the idea of Ashkenazi Jews as an ethnic group. Moreover, though intermarriage among Jews of Ashkenazi descent has become increasingly more common, many Haredi Jews, particularly members of Hasidic or Hareidi sects, continue to marry exclusively fellow Ashkenazi Jews. This trend keeps Ashkenazi genes prevalent and also helps researchers further study the genes of Ashkenazi Jews with relative ease. It is noteworthy that these Haredi Jews often have extremely large families.[24]

    The most recent studies have shown much more diversity within Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jews.[25]

  290. In reply to #328 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 327. Thanks, but I have already eaten. I was pointing out the relevance of diversity. I think it needs emphasising.

    The Khoisan are probably the most ancient and genetically diverse group on earth, yet no one denies their ethnicity.

  291. In reply to #332 by Smill:

    In reply to Peter Grant, post 330. Ethnicity can be a useful definition, can’t it?

    I’m getting sick and tired of you implying that I’m some sort of racist, a single word cannot be a definition on its own. I recognise that race exists, but see no need to discriminate against individuals because of it. I lived through apartheid, it was awful.

  292. In reply to #325 by siger:

    So even if an accidental random group would have an higher average IQ than the national average, you don’t see how that can refute a genetic basis?

    It would mean that your sampling procedure was not as random as you thought it was.

  293. In reply to #332 by Smill:

    I’m with Peter on this. I’m happy to rehabilitate words when they are useful and used by people quite happily of themselves. Questionnaires assessing medical risks for a patient can reasonably ask for a tick in one of a set of boxes selecting race, as the groupings are commonly understood terms and is less likely to cause confusion in an important area. These are not strict scientific terms but are the best that the general public can consistently work with. Besides the problem is not with groupings per se but with discrimination on the basis of groups alone.

    I trust you weren’t imputing motive of Peter, but just pursuing a semantic nicety?

  294. In reply to #335 by phil rimmer:

    I trust you weren’t imputing motive of Peter, but just pursuing a semantic nicety?

    I love your naivety, it’s absolutely adorable! 😀

  295. In reply to #336 by Peter Grant:

    I love your naivety, it’s absolutely adorable! 😀

    Sadly, no….After all, I couldn’t impute a bad motive could I?

  296. In reply to #337 by phil rimmer:

    Sadly, no….After all, I couldn’t impute a bad motive could I?

    Not knowingly no, but you might not be able to understand all the ridiculous nonsense on offer. Please forgive me for the attempt to intervene.

  297. The undeniable facts are indeed that, in several studies conducted, Jews have in average scored higher in IQ tests than other ethnic groups.

    And all that means, is that Jews have scored higher in the IQ tests provided in those studies.

    Pinker, from what I understand, seems to want to generalize those very specific data into “Jews are, on average, more probable to develop higher intelligence”.

    Because “intelligence” is still quite a vague notion, let’s drop this for the moment and consider the more modest hypothesis “people of jewish ancestry are, on average, more probable to test better on modern IQ tests”.

    In other words, in a hypothetical experiment where 1000 Aborigine newborns were given to Jewish families and raised as such, while 1000 Jewish newborns were given to Aborigine families and raised as such, and several years later the 2 groups took the same IQ tests, Pinker predicts that there would still be a significant difference, of similar direction, between kids of jewish ancestry(which were raised in aborigine families and culture) and aborigine ancestry(which were raised in jewish families and culture).

    This is a pretty bold statement, not in the sense of the politico-social consequences it could have (having that as an argument is a common fallacy), but because the evidence for extrapolating B(jews are genetically more intelligent in average) from A(the IQ surveys results) are not nearly enough.

    Take for example the Nobel Prize statistics, which are again undeniable and, yes, pretty impressive.

    The thing is, if there were “nobel prizes” for literature and sciences in classical times, which are only about 2 millenia ago(not such a long time for evolutionary processes I gather?) and during which the ancestors of modern Ashkenazi Jews were still very much present, observations would be quite different, mainly that it would be a global shocker if any “ancient nobel” winner in any category was not, well, Greek(ok, maybe an exaggeration, but only slightly so).

    But today is not hard to assert that Jews are indeed way more active in sciences than Greeks, is it?

    So are we supposed to claim that, in the course of merely 2000-2500 years, one group that was “superior” devolved intellectually, and the other group that was, at the time, “inferior”, evolved and surpassed the first one with its superior genetics?

    And all that extrapolated from the results of some written IQ tests?

    Doesn’t seem like such a solid hypothesis to me.

  298. In reply to #339 by JoxerTheMighty:

    And all that extrapolated from the results of some written IQ tests?

    Can you beat the system? How many IQ tests have you done?

  299. In reply to #340 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #339 by JoxerTheMighty:

    And all that extrapolated from the results of some written IQ tests?

    Can you beat the system? How many IQ tests have you done?

    I’m not questioning that there is data that supports higher aptitude in certain areas from Jews, I say I’m not seeing how you extrapolate, from THAT, to the claim that this higher aptitude has genetics as a main factor. If genes inherited by their ancestors is the reason the modern Jews are better in ,say, math and sciences, then why their ancestors, at their own era, were quite behind other groups, like the Greeks(which were not a numerous nation either), in the same areas? I’d say they weren’t even in the “Top Ten”. Do you have an answer to that?

  300. In reply to #341 by JoxerTheMighty:

    If genes inherited by their ancestors is the reason the modern Jews are better in ,say, math and sciences, then why their ancestors, at their own era, were quite behind other groups, like the Greeks(which were not a numerous nation either), in the same areas? Do you have an answer to that?

    They were behind some Greeks, they were also behind some Jews.

  301. In reply to #342 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #341 by JoxerTheMighty:

    If genes inherited by their ancestors is the reason the modern Jews are better in ,say, math and sciences, then why their ancestors, at their own era, were quite behind other groups, like the Greeks(which were not a numerous nation either), in the same areas? Do…

    They weren’t “behind some Greeks”. You intentionally tone down the difference that existed at that time. The contributions in literature, science and philosophy from Greeks and Jews, at the classical times, are not even comparable. The symbol for “pi” is Greek'(actually, all mathematical symbols are, I believe), whereas the Jews at the same time were intensely studying a book that claimed “pi=3”. If we were living at those times, and you interpreted the data the same way you do now, you would have to reach to the conclusion that Greeks shared genes that result to signficantly higher intelligence. I say there was never any genetic superiority, not then for the Greeks, and not now for the Jews, but since you interpet data this way, I wonder how on earth those genetic differences were completely reversed in merely 2000 years.

  302. In reply to #341 by JoxerTheMighty:

    Do you have an answer to that?

    Comparatively rapid evolution in one direction in the last thousand years or so.

  303. In reply to #344 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #341 by JoxerTheMighty:

    Do you have an answer to that?

    Comparatively rapid evolution in one direction in the last thousand years or so.

    And I assume you have evidence that such a quite cataclysmic evolutionary event happened in recent history and that is indeed the main reason for the differences observed in IQ tests, and not other reasons of social,economic or cultural nature, which kinda have the advantage of not having to rely to an existence of an event that is competely without evidence?

  304. In reply to #345 by JoxerTheMighty:

    And I assume you have evidence that such a quite cataclysmic evolutionary event happened in recent history and that is indeed the main reason for the differences observed in IQ tests, and not other reasons of social,economic or cultural nature, which kinda have the advantage of not having to rely to an existence of an event that is competely without evidence?

    Call it Christianity. and later Islam. Hitler also helped.

  305. In reply to #346 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #345 by JoxerTheMighty:

    And I assume you have evidence that such a quite cataclysmic evolutionary event happened in recent history and that is indeed the main reason for the differences observed in IQ tests, and not other reasons of social,economic or cultural nature, which kinda have t…

    You are making completely unsubstantiated claims and assert that certain historical events affected the evolution of a specific group without presenting a shred of evidence that this was what actually happened. The prosecution of Jews from Christian and Muslims did happen; that this prosecution lead to the jewish “genetic pool” to be altered in the specific way you claim to have been altered is wild speculation. Greeks were also slaves to the Ottoman Empire, for 400 years. And “Hitler” happened way too recently to have any impact at all. It seems to me you have already decided “Jews are smarter because of genetics” and, starting from that. make all sort of claims about biological events that supposedly happened in the last millenium – and apparently the evidence that they happened is that, if they hadn’t, the original hypothesis would be incorrect. Great.

  306. In reply to #347 by JoxerTheMighty:

    It seems to me you have already decided “Jews are smarter because of genetics” and, starting from that. make all sort of claims about biological events that supposedly happened in the 20th century – and apparently the evidence that they happened is that, if they hadn’t, the original hypothesis would be incorrect. Great.

    Jews are smarter. If you think this is based on something other than genetics you need to provide evidence, because we already know that intelligence is heritable.

  307. In reply to #348 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #347 by JoxerTheMighty:

    It seems to me you have already decided “Jews are smarter because of genetics” and, starting from that. make all sort of claims about biological events that supposedly happened in the 20th century – and apparently the evidence that they happened is that, if they…

    No, Jews score higher in IQ tests which, if they’re ideal, measure the aptitude of the subject in certain areas and fields, at the time the test is taken. I’m pretty sure IQ tests aren’t taken when the subject is a newborn, and not when it’s 1 or 2 years old. By the time the individual takes the test, they have spent several years raised by families that may or may not be have an intense interest in academic success, learned to speak by parents that may or may not be well educated and exceptionally fluent, etc etc.

    Let’s examine another example of a similar survey, which grouped the subjects in a different way:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17154785

    Hm. So gamers appear to have higher visuospatial skills than non-gamers. Genetics, again? Maybe it’s because videogame nerds were under high selective pressure, being bullied by the jocks, and the genes that helped them rapidly navigate the highschools in search of optimal safespots became prevalent.

  308. In reply to #349 by JoxerTheMighty:

    Maybe it’s because videogame nerds were under high selective pressure, being bullied by the jocks, and the genes that helped them rapidly navigate the highschools in search of optimal safespots became prevalent.

    Not everyone who sucks at sports is a genius, some can actually suck at sports and academics!

  309. This may not be ‘racist’ in the strictest sense, but it is racialist. This study is relatively pointless unless one is discussing identifying genes and trying to learn more about what intelligence is and how it varies and so on. It’s application to society can have dire consequences otherwise. When you tell people that some people are ‘inferior’ in intellect, it becomes a stereotype and discrimination the norm. Good dystopian view of this is a film called Gattaca (not to digress too much here!) about a world where eugenics creates two classes, but genetic manipulation never quite manages to harness the power of varied individual motivations.

    The problem with racialism is it is divisive and doesn’t change the fact that we all have to live on this Earth peacefully together or wage constant conflict. One can’t assume that everybody out there is a rational adult who can take this data and consider it strictly from the science end and examine whether this is strictly genetic and if so what caused it? Evolution-wise that is. Was it the living situation Ashkenazim faced in Europe? Why aren’t their somewhat similar genetic brethren the Levantines similar or are they, but live in a bad environment? Is evolution this fast that it can transform IQs within a few thousand years? All possible. However, the problem remains that people take this sort of information and can misuse it or misinterpret it. With that said, I’m okay with studies like this that are part of a bigger goal, understanding the genome and maybe creating ways to help solve diseases and yes maybe bolster intelligence.

  310. And so, once again, the Atheist hard-on and gushing love-affair with ‘Jewish’ begins anew. From singing praises to the infallibility of Everything Israel Does to waxing poetic about the number of Jewish Nobel Prize winners, we now have people stampeding to wholeheartedly agree that Pinker must somehow be right. Since it’s ‘entirely plausible’ that Ashkenazi Jews are ‘inherently more intelligent’, we should therefore allow Pinker this fancy and not question him when he rushes to his conclusions. Indeed, we must flush out the Gouldian nay-sayers and declare our allegience to ‘skepticism’ and ‘objective science, free from politics’ – i.e. whatever vindicates white males (because, let’s face it: i uncanny how much of what’s touted as ‘objective science’ unfailingly seems to, isn’t it?). A passing note: ‘objective science’ is a pompous self-congratulatory label, not a term of description. It’s simply a statement of personal belief, not an argument for anything. Your attempts to deflect criticism via this intensely ideological instrument are duly noted.

    The question to ask ourselves here is: unless Pinker can show a casual connection between genetics and intelligence (after cancelling out socio-economic advantages in order to avoid confounding them with genetics) in this particular case with particular genes and particular examples of intelligence, what reason do we have for actually supposing that Jews are ‘genetically more intelligent’ (or however it’s phrased by the people with the hard-ons)?

    Answer: none whatsoever. The contribution of genetics could easily be zero, or different at different times, or different in different places. The mere fact that there might be non-genetic contributors we hadn’t throught of would be enough, pending a casual demonstration between particular genes and particular examples of intelligence, to at least see that there’s nothing at all ‘necessary’ or even very compelling about the genetic explanation.

    One thing to always look out for in studies of this sort is: do the researchers themselves have anything to lose from the implications of the study? As an upper-middle class white Jew, Pinker has nothing to lose (except the acrimony of some of his readers – admittedly not many of them) for such pronouncements. In addition, he knew perfectly well from the outset that there was no chance of his ethnic group coming out without anything other than a rave review; the genetic ‘explanation’ could be cobbled together later and sold to people who profess to be ‘skeptics’ (such things are always in the cards when concrete casaul accounts are lacking and enough hatred of Muslims is in the air). Is it possible that Jews are more intelligent because of genetics? Sure. Is it silly and irresponsible for Pinker to be making broad pronouncements of the sort that are based on what’s possible but that have profound sociological implications even though they might well be utter drivel? Absolutely. He’s made such whoppers before. For example, in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, he attributes the death toll during the Vietnam War to the North’s decision to keep fighting (therefore, the North and the Viet Cong were responsible and the Americans largely innocent becasuse the North decided to incur the death toll of American bombs. In Pinker’s universe, anything other than acquiesence to his favoured state is automatically to be seen as ‘aggression’). His book is literred with many examples like this, which should make it clear that he has clear ideological committments. That would be fine, except that, instead of clearly announcing those committments so that we can judge what he’s saying, he imagines (and tries to get us to imagine) that with enough data, we can make non-ideological calls when it comes to studying human society. In reality, he injects his own ideological take as background assumptions, thus producing the answers he wants, and then declares that HIS ideological take is ‘non-ideological’ and therefore ‘objective’ (at least his unquestioning followers do).

  311. In reply to #352 by Promethean Entity:

    Answer: none whatsoever. The contribution of genetics could easily be zero, or different at different times, or different in different places. The mere fact that there might be non-genetic contributors we hadn’t throught of would be enough, pending a casual demonstration between particular genes and particular examples of intelligence, to at least see that there’s nothing at all ‘necessary’ or even very compelling about the genetic explanation.

    If you had bothered to look at the video to its conclusion, you’d find that Pinker agrees with this answer:

    In reply to #46 by Zeuglodon: (Quoting Pinker from the video)

    “In sum, I think there’s reasonable prima facie evidence for each of these seven component hypotheses. However, all of them would have to be true for the overall CHH theory to be true. Some are circumstantial, and the most important hypothesis – namely the IQ-boost of disease genes – has the least evidence. Nonetheless, the theory is highly testable, and therefore deserves to be taken seriously.”

    “Could be, but it needs more evidence” is precisely the conclusion he comes to.

    There’s no need to demonize and sneer at “Atheists” or at Pinker to begin with, but you could at least have checked your facts first before making gross assumptions.

  312. In reply to #351 by Infodrunk:

    This may not be ‘racist’ in the strictest sense, but it is racialist.

    First “scientism”, now racialism. Enough with these preposterous slurs already! Science is not an ism, science deals with facts about reality, not vague ideological abstractions.

  313. In reply to #353 by Zeuglodon:

    “Could be, but it needs more evidence” is precisely the conclusion he comes to.

    His standards are higher than mine, but that is as it should be. I’m not a famous scientist and think this is the bit we should focus on more:

    Nonetheless, the theory is highly testable, and therefore deserves to be taken seriously.

    Not mocked and ridiculed as racist.

  314. “Could be, but it needs more evidence” is precisely the conclusion he comes to.

    Okay…so you’re telling me the video isn’t worth watching since it puts out an evidence-lacking possibility that a) is completely unnecessary to put out, b) allows Pinker to continue to live comfortably with his smug self-assurance that Jews are the cream of the crop and to simultaneously issue pontifications about Western liberalism that view it as a blameless actor on the world stage, which implies that c) those deemed to be ‘less intelligent’ or even ‘genetically less intelligent’ are suspect and in need of supervision (and, let’s be honest, repression) by the more enlightened quarters. Maybe Pinker just throws around these possibilities for people to innocently think about in order to piss off his adversaries. Maybe it’s to serve American strategic power, for which he has such gushing things to say. Maybe it’s to serve Israel. Maybe it’s to assure himself and his readers that current socio-economic relations are somehow ‘rational’ and that we needn’t bother ourselves with liberal capitalism’s structural features and should instead look to genetics to uncover the roots of poverty, inequality and injustice. Who the hell knows. Certainly, none of you do. The point is, though, that none of these possibilities are any less scientific than his ‘Jews are inherently more intelligent’ argument.

    There’s no need to demonize and sneer at “Atheists” or at Pinker to begin with,

    What do you base that on? No one is above being sneered at for being obnoxious, pompous and pretentious.

  315. In reply to #355 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #353 by Zeuglodon:

    “Could be, but it needs more evidence” is precisely the conclusion he comes to.

    His standards are higher than mine, but that is as it should be. I’m not a famous scientist and think this is the bit we should focus on more:

    Nonetheless, the theory is highly testable,…

    It would be nice if more people took this stance rather than assume studying genetic factors is an evil plot of Western scientists.

    In reply to #356 by Promethean Entity:

    I’m saying Pinker reviews the case for someone else’s hypothesis and explains why it is neither inherently implausible nor well-supported by evidence. Frankly, I don’t think the hypothesis has much going for it, but at least the video raised some interesting points about how to dissect questions of genetic inheritance in human populations, at least in principle. I don’t think his merely discussing genetics in human beings is automatic proof that he’s the vanguard of a Western supremacist conspiracy, nor do I find your moralistic outrage or wild accusations particularly convincing. I doubt you can even prove half of your listed points without making stuff up.

    What do you base that on?

    What you said in your comment. I hardly think your language could be described as tempered and polite there.

    No one is above being sneered at for being obnoxious, pompous and pretentious.

    Suit yourself. It doesn’t strike me as a promising strategy to indulge in such evaluative words, though, when describing those you disagree with, but whatever gives you pleasure.

  316. Been reading through the rest of this thread, saw mention of Pinker’s debate with Spelke. Thought it might be interesting to watch.

  317. In reply to #354 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #351 by Infodrunk:

    This may not be ‘racist’ in the strictest sense, but it is racialist.

    First “scientism”, now racialism. Enough with these preposterous slurs already! Science is not an ism, science deals with facts about reality, not vague ideological abstractions.

    It’s not a slur. Racialism can apply here (it’s use here can be its secondary definition and not a synonym for racism) and I’m not impugning Pinker or these kinds of studies. I’m merely pointing that there may not be much of a point if it’s simply to show ‘racial’ variations in terms of IQ unless there’s an endgame or a point to the research that isn’t simply, “Look these people are smarter than these people over there.” We might as well ask why some Jews have higher IQs than others as well then.

  318. In reply to #358 by Peter Grant:

    Pinker was interesting, but my ability to empathise made watching Spelke absolutely excruciating. Every time she said “inherently” or “essentially” made me cringe for her sake. Ironic how in her attempts to argue against stereotypes she exemplified those very same stereotypes with her inability to understand the statistics involved. Very disappointing, but hopefully this “debate” will at least be educational.

  319. In reply to #359 by Infodrunk:

    Scientific research is good for its own sake, it needs no further justification.

  320. Jews are smarter. If you think this is based on something other than genetics you need to provide evidence, because we already know that intelligence is heritable.

    When making such grand claims (‘Jews are smarter because of genetics’), the onus is squarely on YOU to demonstrate it in the particular case, both because a LOT is riding on that contention (just as a lot is riding on the corrolary of this claim, namely that other groups are far less intelligent because of genetics) and because good science isn’t about simply pointing at what’s plausible and declaring that this it’s therefore at play in a given case (‘We know this happens, so therefore this is how it is in this case.’). You don’t just casually point to the fact that intelligence is heritable as ‘evidence’ that it’s the casual explanation in a particular instance, ignore that a myriad of other things are heritable or relevant, and then call it a day. One of the staples of modern biology is that differences between groups need have absolutely NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with genes, regardless of whether the trait in question is genetically heritable. Nor does it matter whether we can even think of an alternative. The only way to verify that genetics IS the casual explanation is to…verify it, which neither you or anyone else has done. I wonder: should groups who perform less well on IQ tests and the like simply accept the notion that they’re genetically predisposed to being less intelligent on the basis that ‘intelligence is heritable’? Given the pernicious social implications of this, don’t you think that the bar for making these grand claims should be set a little higher before they’re pronounced with such eager confidence? You ask for evidence, and yet you seem oddly impatient to declare that the case is open and shut.

  321. In reply to #362 by Promethean Entity:

    The deviation is far too large for the cause not to be, at least partly, genetic. No matter how intellectually stimulating your environment, it still won’t turn you into an Einstein.

  322. In reply to #363 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #362 by Promethean Entity:

    The deviation is far too large for the cause not to be, at least partly, genetic. No matter how intellectually stimulating your environment, it still won’t turn you into an Einstein.

    Which is irrelevant, since we’re not talking about a super-race of Einsteinian geniuses. A sample of 1 is poor evidence for anything.

    The deviation is far too large for the cause not to be, at least partly, genetic.

    Nope, it’s not. Until someone demonstrates that, and until they show that large deviations in intelligence have to be at least partially genetic, then this is a baseless, evidence-lacking assertion. There is no threshold above which something ‘has to be’ partially genetic. The point is to actually check whether this is the case, rather than assuming it because it ‘makes sense’. And how much of the variation do you think is attributable to genetics? Can you give a number? ‘At least partially’ could be anything from 0.01 percent to 99.99 percent.

  323. In reply to #364 by Promethean Entity:

    Which is irrelevant, since we’re not talking about a super-race of Einsteinian geniuses.

    No, but we are talking about a very small race which has produced more Einsteinian geniuses that the rest of the world’s population combined. I don’t see how you can fail to see the significance of this.

  324. In reply to #365 by Peter Grant:

    I don’t see how you can fail to see the significance of this.

    On the contrary, you’re the one who needs to spell out the significance of it and why this equates to a genetic explanation, since you’re so adamant that genetics ‘must’ play a role. As for me, I never implied that there isn’t anything significant going on. I was questioning why you’re so confident in the genetics explanation beyond ‘it’s a big difference to the rest of the population’.

    You wrote: ‘The deviation is far too large for the cause not to be, at least partly, genetic.’

    I was hoping you could flesh that out. I’ve certainly never heard that theory in any of the genetics courses I took at university.

  325. In reply to #367 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #366 by Promethean Entity:

    Reliability and validity

    Yes, sort of. The article talks about variation WITHIN populations and the proportion of that variance that is attributible to genes. If we say that Jews comprise a separate population, which seems to be the case if we suppose them having a distinct gene-pool, the explanation isn’t of much help for determining the basis for between-group variation. More research needed. As much as I think that the genetic explanation is possible, I’m not hopping onto the bandwagon just yet.

  326. This thread has made me physically sick. Please give me all of the natural numbers that are the outcome of this statistical treatment (one assumes at least a Berkeley educated statistics 101 has been used) reflected as fraction or not, it is moot, and I’ll put this to the most developments of Bayesian inference.

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