Friday, January 18, 2019

American obsession with IQ - v3

I'll conclude this series on IQ with three pages' worth from Scott Barry Kaufman.  Remember he was "classified" at school via IQ test.  His IQ score predicted he was unlikely to finish high school.  This following is about four years after he was so classified.

Continue below the fold.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NNT revised draft

Monday, January 14, 2019

Binet Betrayed

Here's the way Scott Barry Kaufman tells the story of Alfred Binet, the inventor of the modern IQ test.

As the nineteenth century came to an end, business and civic leaders across a number of West European and North American countries united to promote compulsory universal public education.  But this posed a serious problem: how should a diverse population of children be educated?
The opportunity of a lifetime {for Binet} came in October 1904, when Joseph Chaumie, the {French} minister of public instruciton, established a commission to create a way to identify students in need of alternative education.....Binet and {Theodore} Simon immediately went to work.
Binet and Simon made clear the purpose of their test:

Our purpose is to be able to measure the intellectual capacity of a child who is brought to us in order to know whether he is normal or retarded.  We should, therefore, study his condition at that time and that time only.   We have nothing to do either with his past history or his future; consequently we shall neglect his etiology, and we shall make no attempt to distinguish between acquired and congenital idiocy...we do not attempt to establish or prepare a prognosis and we leave unanswered the question of whether this retardation is curable, or even improbable.   We shall limit ourselves to ascertaining the truth about his present mental state.
Along with their test, they also published a number of caveats.  First, they made it clear that their test does not measure a person's absolute level of intelligence.   They warned that their test couldn't possibly offer precise measurement like inches as measured by a ruler.   Instead, a score on their test was simply a classification entirely relative to that of other children of the same age. ....
Binet and Simon also acknowledged that many others than intellectual ability could influence performance on their tests, such as the unnaturalness of the testing situation and the potential for the test to intimidate children.   They also mentioned longer term influences, such as background, upbringing, health and effort.   Due to these other potential influences, they stressed the need to compare any person's test results only with those of comparable backgrounds.  Finally, they noted the importance of constant retesting, pointing out that individuals' intellectual development progresses at variable rates, due to different rates of maturation as well as differences in intellectual experiences.
It's noteworthy that the Binet-Simon scale never yielded an intelligence quotient (IQ).  In fact, long after Binet's death, Simon indicated that the use of a summary IQ score was a betrayal of the purpose of their test.  While Binet and Simon's purpose was noble, let's be absolutely clear: most people in France just wanted to weed out the intellectually disabled os that the "normal" students would not be slowed down.
Alas, Binet's efforts, caveats and cautions were almost completely ignored by the French establishment...Binet and Simon's efforts were wasted in their native France.  Binet personally felt as though he was a failure.

Soon his test would spread like wildfire across the globe-- particularly in America-- and to his horror, his test was used for purposes he never intended.   Toward the very end of his life, in response to statements that children with low test scores would never achieve certain things, he wrote in exasperation: "Never! What a strong word!  A few modern philosphers seem to lend their moral support to the these deplorable verdicts when they assert that an individual's intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased.   We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism.  We shall attempt to prove that it is without foundation... With practice, training , and above all method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before."

Binet even developed various "mental orthopedics" -- intellectual exercises -- to show the potential for remediation.  But it was too late.  On October 28, 1911, Binet suffered a stroke and passed away at the young age of 54.   The mass testing movement in America had just begun, with the testing proponents carrying with them a completely different conceptualization of human intelligence.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

American obsession with IQ v2

Book-ends:  Perhaps it is karma that a nation obsessed with IQ finally got a President that it deserves - self-proclaimed, not simply smart, "but genius....and a very stable genius at that!"
When our intelligence scales have become more accurate and the laws governing IQ changes have been more definitively established it will then be possible to say that there is nothing about an individual as important as his IQ, except possibly his morals; that the greatest educational problem is to determine the kind of education best suited to each IQ level; that the first concern of a nation should be the average IQ of its citizens, and the eugenic and dysgenic influences which are capable of raising or lowering that level; that the great test problem of democracy is how to adjust itself to the large IQ differences which can be demonstrated to exist among the members of any race or nationality group.  — Lewis M. Terman (1922)
"Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault" (Donald J. Trump, May 8, 2013)

Take that, you libtard!
I hate the impudence of a claim that in fifty minutes you can judge and classify a human being’s predestined fitness in life. I hate the pretentiousness of that claim. I hate the abuse of scientific method which it involves. I hate the sense of superiority which it creates, and the sense of inferiority which it imposes. Walter Lippmann (1923)                

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Some definitions of intelligence

Scott Barry Kaufman, in "Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined" has a graphic itself based on J.D. Wasserman "A History of Intelligence Assessment: The Unfinished Tapestry", which is available online. 

Some few tie intelligence to adaptability.  Definitions below the fold.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Genes and IQ

The Scientific American reports a new idea on what triggers Alzheimer's.

This paragraph triggered me, however:

But at start of the 21st century, researchers uncovered a harbinger for GR {gene recombination}. We discovered that DNA sequences vary from cell to cell, meaning that our brains are a vast mosaic of distinct genomes, a phenomenon aptly referred to as “genomic mosaicism.” These changes are distinct from epigenetic changes that do not directly affect DNA sequences. Scientists have now identified multiple sequence changes that are quite varied and seemingly random, consisting—in order of decreasing size—of entire chromosomes (aneuploidies), smaller copy number variations, even smaller LINE1 retrotransposon repeat elements and “single nucleotide variations that alter individual nucleotides.
How genes determine IQ becomes a bit mysterious if "our brains are a vast mosaic of distinct genomes".   One question presumably would be that are these "vast mosaic of distinct genomes in the brain" the same in some statistical sense in identical twins raised together and those raised separately?

Sunday, January 06, 2019

America's obsession

Scott Barry Kaufman notes that when David Wechsler came up with his tests (for the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale) around 1939,

"The test publishers were skeptical.  Why take so much time to measure a person's intelligence? This was antithetical to America's obsession with a fast, cheap and efficient way to categorize the totality of a person".
 This leads to the question, why is America so obsessed?  Is it a by-product of the ideology of capitalism?

Friday, January 04, 2019

Scott Barry Kaufman defies his IQ score

This article in The Atlantic, 2013, titled "The Perils of Giving Kids IQ Tests" doesn't say that IQ testing is useless.

We classify learning disabilities because children with dyslexia require very different academic support than children with Asperger's. In order to help these very different children, we must identify and understand their deficits and the resources those children will need. I have sat in on many meetings in which we - teams of psychologists, teachers, parents, learning specialists, and administrators - work to find the ideal combination of resources for kids with learning challenges. I have even recommended intelligence testing for students who, despite their persistence, diligence and effort, are not succeeding in school. I've seen testing lead to real academic and cognitive improvement, thanks to individualized education plans and access to learning resource professionals.
But the article does say that IQ test results are not destiny, via the story of Scott Barry Kaufman.
Kaufman, writing of his experience in Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity, and the Many Paths to Greatness, may have thought he knew what was at stake when he visited that school psychologist for testing, but he would not fully grasp the influence that afternoon of testing would have on the trajectory of his life until much later. The psychologist who tested Kaufman concluded that he had a relatively low IQ, a score low enough to earn him the label "seriously learning disabled."
Kaufman narrates:
After school I dash off to the local library and find a book about human intelligence. I flip through the pages and come face to face with a terrifying chart. At the top is listed the average IQ of PhDs. I am way lower than that number. Tentatively, I go down the list. College graduate? Closer, but still no cigar. My blood pressure is rising. Semiskilled laborer? In my dreams. After some time, I finally find my range: "Lucky to graduate high school," it says.
 But Kaufman "ripped up his label, held on tight to his growth mindset and his well-honed skills of grit, diligence, and persistence, and rode that potential all the way to a Ph.D from Yale."

So that makes three - Feynman,  Boyd and Kaufman.  But how many children have fallen victim to IQ humbug?