Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lack of knowledge is a dangerous thing

In his blogpost, "Knowledge is a dangerous thing",  CIP makes a series of unsupported assertions such as:

1. IQ studies are targeted by advocates of the "blank slate" view of human nature (he includes Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin in this set).

2. IQ is a powerful predictor of achievement - ignoring the idea that a society that uses tests to erect barriers for people will strangely find that the tests work as expected.

3. Because of attacks by blank slaters, IQ studies became relegated to cranks and racists (rather than the fact that IQ studies were taken over, very quickly after the invention of IQ, by cranks and racists).

4. IQ denialists prefer blindness - rather than they prefer to understand IQ for what it is - some measured quantity that is rising by 10 points every thirty years (roughly speaking) - this is the infamous Flynn effect - which should have led to an explosion of Einsteins, Beethovens, Edisons and Wittens among us, if IQ had anything to do with what we intuitively mean by intelligence.

5. IQ denialists prefer blindness - perhaps they prefer to understand intelligence as a multi-faceted thing, as an example - Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.

6. The study of intelligence (IQ) is dead - IQ doesn't tell us anything really useful about intelligence.  The study of human intelligence is alive and healthy (A crude search in Google Scholar gives 105,000 titles since 2012).
I could go on, but the point is, stuck in the mindset of "The Bell Curve" (even the bell curve is disputable, there is evidence that human achievement, when quantifiable, is distributed at the high end in a power-law curve),  berating the world is not a winning strategy.  Lack of knowledge is a dangerous thing.