December 29, 2019

"New York Times columnist accused of eugenics over piece on Jewish intelligence/Bret Stephens faces backlash after suggesting that Ashkenazi Jews are smarter than other people."

Yikes, the heat on Bret Stephens has zoomed up since I blogged about his genius-of-Jews column at 5 a.m. yesterday morning.

The Guardian says:
The rightwing New York Times columnist Bret Stephens...
Eh. I don't think the right wing deserves responsibility for whatever it is Bret Stephens is.
... has sparked furious controversy online for a column praising Ashkenazi Jews for their scientific accomplishments, which critics say amounts to embracing eugenics.

In a column titled The Secrets of Jewish Genius and using a picture of Albert Einstein, Stephens stepped in the eugenics minefield by claiming that Ashkenazi Jews are more intelligent than other people and think differently.... [There were] furious accusations that Stephens was using the same genetics arguments that informed Nazism and white supremacist thinking.
The Guardian is simply collecting tweets. An editorial director at Vice says, "It’s hard to read this column as expressing anything other than a belief in the genetic and cultural inferiority of non-Ashkenazi Jews"; a NYT contributor says, "I don’t think eugenicists should be op-ed columnists"; a "journalist" says, "A Jew endorsing the idea that certain races are inherently superior to other, lesser races, what could possibly go wrong?"; a writer called it "eugenics propaganda" and urged subscribers to cancel.

This is what you get on Twitter: hot takes. There, Stephens is a eugenicist. I do see this mild-mannered correction:



Speaking of Twitter... the Guardian article goes on to talk about something I covered in my post yesterday: Last August, Bret Stephens got overheated about a some professor calling him a "bedbug." (Indeed, Stephens compared the professor's use of an insect analogy to the rhetoric of "a lot of totalitarian regimes in the past.")

The Guardian reminds us that Stephens quit his Twitter account over that screw-up:
“Time to do what I long ago promised to do,” tweeted Stephens before he deactivated his account. “Twitter is a sewer. It brings out the worst in humanity. I sincerely apologize for any part I’ve played in making it worse, and to anyone I’ve ever hurt. Thanks to all of my followers, but I’m deactivating this account.”
What does that sound like? Yes, Podhoretz! Just the other day, we were talking about John Podhoretz quitting Twitter. Like Stephens, he blamed Twitter:
But Twitter has an oversoul now, and the oversoul is poisonous. It ­rewards bad rhetorical behavior, it privileges outrage of any sort over reason of all sorts, and it encourages us to misunderstand each other. It’s the devil on our shoulder.
Twitter makes them do it! It's funny to see 2 self-important grown men shirking responsibility so childishly.

Stephens and Podhoretz took the same approach in blaming Twitter, but their rhetoric is interestingly different:

Stephens called Twitter a "sewer," likening human speech to filth — and so soon after flying into outrage over the professor's calling him a "bedbug." Wasn't he committing the very outrage he detected in the other guy?

Podhoretz went into the realm of unworldly spirits: Twitter is an "oversoul" and "the devil." What's up with "oversoul"? The OED defines "oversoul" — coined by Ralph Waldo Emerson in "The Over-Soul" — as: "The supreme spirit believed in some mystical philosophies to pervade, animate, or constitute the universe, and with which all human souls are believed to be united. Also figurative and in extended use."

You know Ralph Waldo Emerson has a Twitter account. He tweets nonsewage like:

132 comments:

rhhardin said...

Swearing isn't exaggerated speech. It's Tourette's syndrome triggered. Words but not speech.

rhhardin said...

Next the low life will be using connotations instead of denotations.

rhhardin said...

There's a battle on about whether IQ tests can be part of the public debate.

So far, it can't be. The cancel culture takes care of it. On the other hand the problems get worse and more people have to be cancelled.

Leland said...

I sense the framework for a new narrative and it is ugly.

Bay Area Guy said...

I don't know if Stephens is a Eugenicist, but on politics, he certainly is an idiot.

rhhardin said...

Maybe if there were moral worth tests, they'd find that it's not fixed for life and doesn't seem to distribute by race. It's something you can teach. That would coexist happily in public debate with IQ tests, by making it clear what you're talking about.

Do you want somebody good at complex abstract tasks or a friend.

Hagar said...

Pauline Kael syndrome.
You look around and define your culture as the superior one. Plop Mr. Stephens down in the jungles of the Amazon, the Australian outback, or wherever, and he would be considered a complete idiot to be carefully watched lest he bring harm to himself and others.

rhhardin said...

Plop Mr. Stephens down in the jungles of the Amazon, the Australian outback, or wherever, and he would be considered a complete idiot to be carefully watched lest he bring harm to himself and others.

Australian aborigines have the lowest IQ of anybody, in the 50s.

Ann Althouse said...

@rhhardin

You talk about IQ tests all the time. Do you ever think deeply about what this means about you?

Were you told your IQ when you were young or not? If so/if not, what impact did it have on your psyche and on the life choices you made?

rhhardin said...

There's a nice film with an Australian aborigine detective hero, Mystery Road (2013), that doesn't feature the problem but is willing to live with it to make another point.

rhhardin said...

I talk about IQ because it's important to public policy. Saying that group averages don't matter makes the problems worse. Here's a public policy debate. If you say what is in fact measured and as solidly established as anything in psychology, you get cancelled.

I have no idea what my IQ is. As Imus used to say, he's 65 but reads at a 67 year old level.

rhhardin said...

Vicki Hearne suggested that blacks do worse than whites on essay comprehension tests because they can't believe things quickly.

Hagar said...

Some European Jews made out quite well in the 19th century and could afford to send their children to universities to study, but certainly to acquire status. However, the world being what it is, the students often were not all that welcome in the established disciplines, so they invented new ones, like psycho-therapy or nuclear physics, where they indeed became dominant and very famous when these fields became socially fashionable or a matter of survival in 20th century warfare.

Ann Althouse said...

" Saying that group averages don't matter makes the problems worse. Here's a public policy debate. If you say what is in fact measured and as solidly established as anything in psychology, you get cancelled."

Key phrase: "as anything in psychology."

Making group averages important in the discussion could help in some ways but it also obviously also causes harm. Just putting people in groups causes harm.

rhhardin said...

Making group averages important in the discussion could help in some ways but it also obviously also causes harm. Just putting people in groups causes harm.

You put people in groups by doing bussing, affirmative action, and the rest. And it causes harm. If you bring up group IQ you offer another benign explanation for why whites do better than blacks on the average than discrimination. Accusing whites of holding blacks back makes the blacks mad and the whites indifferent. That's the harm and that's where we are not.

There was none of that when I was a kid and I couldn't say which of my classmates were smart and which are dumb, regardless of race. Nobody grouped results by race.

rhhardin said...

where we are now. not not.

rhhardin said...

Ability to do abstract complex tasks doesn't show up in real life very well. You have to do what amounts to testing and data reduction.

From that, if you're an activist, you can discover and take ownership of a new "public problem." That's the traditional route to political power.

Temujin said...

In the meantime, Orthodox Jews in Monsey, NY were attacked by machete while celebrating Hanukkah and the end of Sabbath last night. Not sure how that plays with this article, but I feel like we're entering the 1930's again.

Bret Stephens can write what he wants. The action on the streets is what to watch. And it's getting ugly again.

Hagar said...

IQ tests are still just more elaborate schemes to measure "intelligence" by the subjects' skills in filling out little ovals on multiple choice tests.

gilbar said...

Serious Question:
It's Still Okay for quotas to restrict the number of Wiley Oriental Gentlemen admitted to Harvard?
I mean, since WE'VE DECIDED that Asians are WAY SMARTER than the rest of us,
it's still okay to discriminate against Them... right?
I mean, THAT'S not eugenics, that's just common sense... Right?

Fernandinande said...

He's making an argument for culture (of debate & disputation) over genes!

People get upset because they know that isn't true for intelligence, even though they're very probably not aware of the research behind that falsity, e.g.:

Modeling the 3D Geometry of the Cortical Surface with Genetic Ancestry

"Highlights

• Geometry of the human cortical surface contains rich ancestral information

• The most informative features are regional patterns of cortical folding and gyrification

• This study provides insight on the influence of population structure on brain shape
...
As Figure 1 shows, the geometry of the cortical surface has good predictive value for each of the ancestry components."

IOW, they can fairly accurately determine your race from your brain.

Fernandinande said...

You put people in groups by doing bussing, affirmative action, and the rest. And it causes harm. If you bring up group IQ you offer another benign explanation for why whites do better than blacks on the average than discrimination. Accusing whites of holding blacks back makes the blacks mad and the whites indifferent. That's the harm and that's where we are [not?].

Exactly. 'Cept maybe the 'not'?

Gunner said...

Has anyone considered that Bretbug might be autistic?

hawkeyedjb said...

"Just putting people in groups causes harm."

Perhaps so. But isn't that what our culture is all about, nowadays? In modern Identity Politics, you don't exist as an individual, separate from your identified group. You must join a group, or be identified as part of a group, or you don't have rights, privileges or oppressions.

Narayanan said...

Q: seriously or literally?

However Bret Stephens takes Trump so should we take Bret.

Automatic_Wing said...

Key phrase: "as anything in psychology."

Hardin is actually being unfair to IQ testing and psychometrics by lumping it in with the rest of psychology. In fact, IQ testing is by far the most robust and replicable finding in all of social science. But people don't like the results, so they ignore it and keep trying other stuff like busing and implicit bias training for teachers and throwing money at Head Start and stuff like that to Close The Gap.

Grant said...

Jews should stop thinking of themselves as a group. Obviously it just causes trouble for everybody.

Narayanan said...

I would challenge Bret should offer to do series on Eugenics to show by example how Ashkenazim genius approach the subject.

Will he be able to publish?

Is he Trumpian enough to do?

rhhardin said...

Very smart is a tails effect. The tails magnify enormously what's indistinguishable in the middle, if there's a shift. Bret could be perfectly average as far as you'd be able to tell, Jew or not.

rhhardin said...

You can magnify the middle, but only with large samples and data reduction.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Don't get upset! I'm not saying that my people are genetically superior to your people! I'm saying that my people are culturally superior to your people!"
I never would have guessed that it is only the Jews who have a culture of debate & disputation.

Grant said...

“Were you told your IQ when you were young or not? If so/if not, what impact did it have on your psyche and on the life choices you made?”

I found out my IQ inadvertently when I was in the 5th grade. Knowing it helped me to understand why I was treated so poorly by so many people, including my own family. As I grew older, it helped to make me more sympathetic to people on the other end of the spectrum and caused me to wonder why we pursue so many social policies that hinder instead of help the less intelligent. If we can’t admit that there really are group differences in IQ, how can we possibly agree on policies that will truly help people instead of policies that merely soothe our emotions and make us feel virtuous?

I’m also .5% Jewish. Maybe that’s the real problem.

chuck said...

>> Were you told your IQ when you were young or not? <<

No. But I do remember in high school that when I read the trig text over the weekend and tested out of the class the teacher who graded the test said I didn't have a high enough IQ to do that. Heh. I also spent a couple of days reading his materials from a college class on set theory and suspect that I knew the subject better than he did after that.

Narayanan said...

Blogger rhhardin said...
I talk about IQ because it's important to public policy...
____&&&&&++++
Let me pose a basic Why :

Why is it important to have public policy?


Nichevo said...


rhhardin said...
Maybe if there were moral worth tests, they'd find that it's not fixed for life and doesn't seem to distribute by race. It's something you can teach. That would coexist happily in public debate with IQ tests, by making it clear what you're talking about.

Do you want somebody good at complex abstract tasks or a friend.


What if you're wrong about the above? What if it does distribute by race? What if it is innate? Where is your data? Where is your dead philosopher to quote ad nauseam?

Lewis Wetzel said...

You know what other group has a higher IQ than the average, non-Ashkenazi American?
The Chinese. They average 105. You know who are not seen as an outsider in their own nation?
The Chinese. That's because there are a billion of them.
Y'know who does not celebrate a culture of debate & disputation?
The Chinese.
Stephens column wasn't bad because it was edgy & talked about forbidden things, it was bad because it was stupid.

Nichevo said...


Blogger hawkeyedjb said...
"Just putting people in groups causes harm."

Perhaps so. But isn't that what our culture is all about, nowadays? In modern Identity Politics, you don't exist as an individual, separate from your identified group. You must join a group, or be identified as part of a group, or you don't have rights, privileges or oppressions.


"Once there came a man"
BY STEPHEN CRANE
Once there came a man
Who said:
“Range me all men of the world in rows.”
And instantly
There was a terrific clamor among the people
Against being ranged in rows.
There was a loud quarrel, world-wide.
It endured for ages;
And blood was shed
By those who would not stand in rows,
And by those who pined to stand in rows.
Eventually, the man went to death, weeping.
And those who stayed in the bloody scuffle
Knew not the great simplicity.

rhhardin said...

The writers who put philosophical problems down to interesting language effects tend overwhelmingly to be Jewish.

Nichevo said...

Again RH-data? Examples, counterexamples? Not that I keep track but I don't recall you ever quoting a Jew.

Ann Althouse said...

I was very good friends with a person who laughingly insisted that he couldn't be good friends with anyone with an IQ under 140. I have no idea what my own IQ is (and don't want to know, but I guess I have the "genius"'s stamp of approval).

But what sort of a person says a thing like that? Someone comes in at 139 and they're beneath the effort to get to know?

My parents knew their IQ because they were both in the Army (in WWII) and I guess they got tested. My father's was one point higher than my mother's, so that was a source of humor for them.

rhhardin said...

Derrida, Levinas, Jabes, Cavell, Hearne, Wittgenstein, favorite quotes.

rhhardin said...

Althouse is smart but only a woman.

Nichevo said...

No reason to think you peg 140, AA. All your achievement could be attributed to grinding. Flashes of elephantine wit are not genius. And a genius isn't so much obsessed with being right, like you are, as getting right.

RH can pretend to indifference because he has hobbies and career history which track with high IQ, so he can guess without being burdened to "know."

Josephbleau said...

The most repeatable finding I have noted from experience is that the ability of a male child tracks the ability of the birth mother, adopted kids are wildcards, daughters can be more like the father.

Next, if there is a nurture influence, going to a small rural school and letting the kids think they are very smart because there is rarely an example of high ability in the small population for comparison sets them up for frustration and failure at the university level. (small town kids drop out a lot because they are not prepared for calculus and got A’s in hs math.) This is the only reason minorities need to go to the same school as “non minority” kids, but I don’t think that works out for the better.

rhhardin said...

A rhinocerous has wit. Vicki Hearne explained it in I think "What's Wrong with Animal Rights?" Let me look for it.

It may not seem like much of a joke but rhinocerouses like it...

Nichevo said...

Derrida was Sephardic. Jabes was Egyptian and likely Sephardic or Mizrahi. You quote Derrida but ultimately he's French.

tcrosse said...

In an interview Mort Sahl, a Jew married to a Chinese at the time, said that the Jews are the Road Show version of the Chinese.

rhhardin said...

first paragraph.

https://researchwrit.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/article-hearne_whats-wrong-with-animal-rights.pdf

Bob Boyd said...

Having a laugh: is this the end for Bret Stephens?
You can no more separate a NYT Conservative from a Prog than a Prog from his smug superiority.

Nichevo said...

And of course Wittgenstein is your huge counterexample.

Spiros Pappas said...

Why isn't Israel producing Nobel winners and super human geniuses?

Francisco D said...

IQ tests are still just more elaborate schemes to measure "intelligence" by the subjects' skills in filling out little ovals on multiple choice tests.

The different iterations of the WAIS have been the most common used IQ test for many decades. It is administered face to face. No pencils, no multiple choices.

Narayanan said...

My parents knew their IQ because they were both in the Army (in WWII) and I guess they got tested.
_____&&&&---_-
Did Germany and others test for IQ?

More interested in which side of the distribution got to stay home!

Francisco D said...

But what sort of a person says a thing like that? Someone comes in at 139 and they're beneath the effort to get to know?

Consider the implications of confidence intervals.

Narayanan said...

It is administered face to face
___&&&+++
What is IQ of administerer?

?is it Turing test in reverse? As in Dune.

Nichevo said...

Spiros Pappas said...
Why isn't Israel producing Nobel winners and super human geniuses?

Brief time of existence? Overt anti-Israel prejudice? Lot of high-tech coming out of Israel. Lot of punching above their weight.

OTOH, lots of Sephardim and Mizrahim...

Nichevo said...

Spiros Pappas said...
Why isn't Israel producing Nobel winners and super human geniuses?

Also, Spiros, given history, why nothing out of Greece lately but olive oil?

Wince said...

Like Stephens, Podhoretz blamed Twitter.

I thought it was that lying son of a bitch Trump and this damn war?

Craig Howard said...

My parents knew their IQ because they were both in the Army (in WWII) and I guess they got tested.

You were certainly tested for IQ, too, Ann. Probably at age 10 which was universal practice in American schools in the fifties and sixties.

I found out mine sometime in high school and was pleased. I doubt I’ve lived up to it, but it was reassuring that I at least had potential.

Michael K said...

rhhardin said...

There's a battle on about whether IQ tests can be part of the public debate.

So far, it can't be. The cancel culture takes care of it. On the other hand the problems get worse and more people have to be cancelled.


My parents knew their IQ because they were both in the Army (in WWII) and I guess they got tested.

You were certainly tested for IQ, too, Ann. Probably at age 10 which was universal practice in American schools in the fifties and sixties.


Maybe the army but I was in school in the 50s and 60s. I was not told my IQ or even what my SAT score was. I have a good idea because I was a National Merit Scholar in 1956, well before they began to dumb it down.

Steve Hayward has a good column on this today.

Spiros said...

Mr. Nichevo, the Jews being smart is part of God's mysterious plan! The Jews are not only the “chosen people,” but they are essential for plan of the End of Days!!!!

mandrewa said...

I hate the idea of being measured for my intelligence. From a personal perspective, I feel like you lose no matter what the number is.

If it's a low number, well that is depressing to know.

If it's a high number, well, there is a real risk you get a big head and think you're better than other people, and then on top of that and maybe much more importantly, then you would be grading yourself differently, and now if you're not doing super well you feel like you're a failure -- like you really had the odds stacked in your favor.

But even without taking a test, you kind of roughly know. I know I'm smart. Or more accurately I know I was smart once upon on a time. (That is an interesting issue which I'm going to come back to in a moment.) But I know I'm smart just by remembering some of things I once did.

But getting back to whether I am smart now, well unfortunately, as people get older their intelligence drops, even quite dramatically once you get up into your 60s -- assuming you're an average person. It's really hard for a 60-year old to compete with a college-bound 25-year old.

And strangely the IQ numbers hide this reality because they "age adjust." I think bright people would be far less pleased with this IQ business if they were seeing their actual scores without the age adjustment.

rhhardin asserts that people can train for an IQ test. Not really. There has been a huge effort to do exactly that thing and it just doesn't seem to matter. People can cheat. But there is no training that is going to significantly raise your score on a broad range of IQ tests, if they were given at the same time.

As Jordan Peterson said, and a huge long list of other scientists have also said, the evidence for IQ being a thing and being real and having a big impact on human lives is very strong and in comparison the evidence for almost every other concept in the social sciences that people believe in, the evidence for those is relatively poor.

Ken B said...

What a sorry display. Let me summarize
AA: You nasty man why do you talk about stuff like that?
RHH: Facts matter.

Hardin wins that one, and pretty devastatingly too if you go through all the back and forth.

Of course Hardin then does his usual stupid schtick and adds “you are but a female”.

Martha said...

My father, a motherless high school drop out, was selected for Officer Candidate School during WW II because he tested so well on the IQ test. That IQ test and the GI Bill launched an amazingly successful career and life.

Fernandinande said...

Speaking of racist eugenics, here's a list of dog breeds sorted by their performance on culture-fair Raven's Matrices test, er, how many times it took them to learn a command**, which sounds unfair to dogs who don't speak English as their first lingo.

"Included in the 2006 republication of The Intelligence of Dogs are three types of canine intelligence: instinctive, adaptive, and (**=)working and obedience."

Understanding of New Commands: Less than 5 repetitions.
Obey First Command: 95% of the time or better.
1. Border Collie
2. Poodle
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Doberman Pinscher
6. Shetland Sheepdog
7. Labrador Retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottweiler
10. Australian Cattle Dog ***
...
Lowest degree of working and obedience intelligence
Understanding of New Commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
Obey First Command: 25% of the time or worse.
70. Shih Tzu
71. Basset Hound
72. Mastiff, Beagle
73. Pekingese
74. Bloodhound
75. Borzoi
76. Chow Chow
77. Bulldog
78. Basenji
79. Afghan Hound

Anyway, I'm not sure who we're supposed to genocide, the Border Collies or the Afghan Hounds?

*** Those are mean little fuckers.

Fernandinande said...

Chinese dogs are stupid ha ha.

MBunge said...

It's hilarious to see Stephens get reminded that, no matter how much he hates Trump, he'll still never be safe.

And the problem with the emphasis on IQ is that it encourages smart people to overestimate their intelligence and underestimate everyone else's. Too many supposedly smart people think of themselves as "A" students in a classroom of "Ds" and "Fs" when the reality is that most people are "C" students and most supposedly smart people are just "Bs." And plenty of "C" students outperform "B" students by working harder.

And, of course, lots of smart people like Paul Krugman are living examples that smart does not necessarily mean knowledgeable, smart and knowledgeable do not necessarily mean wise, and smart and knowledgeable and wise do not automatically mean correct.

Mike

William said...

Newton believed in alchemy and Einstein believed in socialism. Smart people are only sporadically smarter than the culture which produces them.....I think having Michael Jordan's athletic ability is probably a better guarantee of evolutionary success than Einstein's mental acumen. And, of course, if you really want to spread the spermotazoa with lollapaloza far and wide, a high IQ is not that much of an advantage.....Smart people overrate the advantages of being smart. Fortunately they don't control the media, and everyone knows life isn't much like a calculus class.

Gahrie said...

You talk about IQ tests all the time. Do you ever think deeply about what this means about you?

He believes in science?

William said...

Deutschland uber alles. All those Jewish heavyweights worked in the Germanic culture: Marx, Freud, Einstein, Kafka et al. all wrote and thought in the German language. The Nazis were really on to something when they talked about the superiority of German culture.

Gahrie said...

What a sorry display. Let me summarize
AA: You nasty man why do you talk about stuff like that?
RHH: Facts matter.

Hardin wins that one, and pretty devastatingly too if you go through all the back and forth.

Of course Hardin then does his usual stupid schtick and adds “you are but a female”


What you are overlooking is the fact that Althouse dismisses the science behind IQ because the results make her feel bad. No woman must be made to feel bad about, or responsible for, anything, ever.

Gahrie said...

IQ tests are used every day in every public K-12 school in the country.

Gahrie said...

Why isn't Israel producing Nobel winners and super human geniuses?

Mostly a different type of Jew.

bagoh20 said...

Intelligence is over-valued. We imagine it produces good or valuable people, but that's just an unchallenged assumption. Very low IQ can be a problem , but high I.Q. is obviously not required for people to have fulfilling useful lives, which is what we should care about. I personally have no desire to be surrounded by high I.Q. people. I have a friend, a multiple pHD, medical doctor, and researcher in neurology who has a 200+ I.Q. He's a very nice guy and a valuable man, but I would not want everyone to be like him. The most charming and fun people I know are average at best in intelligence, and I think that allows them to be wonderful in the ways they are.

Gahrie said...

Making group averages important in the discussion could help in some ways but it also obviously also causes harm. Just putting people in groups causes harm.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those "well, they got Al Capone for tax evasion" things.

The usual suspects lose their shit over Stephens merely alluding, in a very timorous way, to a fact (Jews are a high-IQ group) but are apparently unperturbed by the rest of the noxious, bigoted bullshit he's put out over the years, because it was directed at the correct targets.

bagoh20 said...

I understand why rhardin talks about I.Q. so much. It's because you aren't supposed to talk about I.Q.. Being told that facts shouldn't matter can get an intelligent person fired up, or at least it should. It's a responsibility we depend on smart people to handle. A burden, if you will.

Ann Althouse said...

"You were certainly tested for IQ, too, Ann. Probably at age 10 which was universal practice in American schools in the fifties and sixties."

I know what a real IQ test is and there was never anything in school like that. I know there are some tests that purport to approximate IQs and these may have been given... so teachers could know who wasn't working up to his potential.

Ann Althouse said...

About that dog test... seems to be a test of the instinct to obey and to do tasks. If you were a dog, would you come when the master said "come"? What if you felt really lazy and didn't like people that much? Would that make you dumb?

Ann Althouse said...

"I understand why rhardin talks about I.Q. so much. It's because you aren't supposed to talk about I.Q."

Yes, why doesn't he obey the commands? He must be dumb.

Ann Althouse said...

"No reason to think you peg 140, AA...."

I'm afraid you'll have to take a C- in reading comprehension.

bagoh20 said...

I think smarter dogs don't obey as well. They're mischievous, and get what they want instead of what you want.

MBunge said...

And lest we forget, part of the hubbub about Trump is about IQ. He's wildly more successful than most of his critics put together but quite ostentatiously scorns and refuses to follow many of the social signifiers for intelligence our elites value so greatly.

Mike

Fernandinande said...

About that dog test... seems to be a test of the instinct to obey and to do tasks.

That was just part of it (as I quoted in the post!) - the part that's of interest to most people, at least certainly to people who actually use dogs for work.

I'm afraid you'll have to take a C- in reading comprehension.

Tom said...

What Brett Stephenson is discussing has nothing to do with IQ (which is simply processor speed). He is discussing someone anyone can learn but it’s really hard - challenging our underlying mental models, assumptions, and world views as a regular course of the learning (and un -learning) process. Chris Argyris pioneered this work, calling it Double Loop Thinking, and others, like Peter Senge, built upon that work. I didn’t grow up Jewish but I did grow up in a family where challenging mental models was highly encouraged - especially by my grandmother. What Brett Stephenson discusses is well framed in Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline book. I’ve never heard of it as a prevailing practice within a religious subset but it makes sense that if it were to be encouraged with in a cultural group, that cultural group would enjoy an advantage intellectually. One reason I read this blog is that Althouse attempts to expose her underlying assumptions and mental models as she writes. Frankly, I also think it’s why some find her so confounding. She isn’t simply applying a core set of values and beliefs to every subject - she’s asking questions as she processes events and, by proxy, helping us do the same.

traditionalguy said...

Give me that good old Middle range IQ of 135. When you get 10 over or 10 under 135, they are difficult people.

Unknown said...

"As Jordan Peterson said, and a huge long list of other scientists have also said, the evidence for IQ being a thing and being real and having a big impact on human lives is very strong and in comparison the evidence for almost every other concept in the social sciences that people believe in, the evidence for those is relatively poor."

What about sex? Any evidence for sex being a thing and being real and having a big impact on human lives?

Anonymous said...

AA to rh: You talk about IQ tests all the time. Do you ever think deeply about what this means about you?

As supposed to not thinking about it at all, as is apparent from your comments on the subject?

Comments that are a good example of what happens when you refuse to read outside "respectable", conventional media.

Statements like "we should judge people as individuals" or "putting people in groups can cause harm" are not confuting or contradicting anything held by people who think group differences in average IQ are real, and have implications for policy. Why do you assume they need to be lectured on these points? Trotting out such statements indicates unthinking acceptance of conventional pieties and their attendant strawmen, not any "deep thinking" on the subject.

MountainJohn said...

"It doesn't matter how smart you are if you don't stop and think." Thomas Sowell

Unknown said...

What I like is "accused of eugenics". That's shorthand for "He said IQ!"

At least he wasn't accused of ebonics.

Fernandinande said...

I understand why rhardin talks about I.Q. so much. It's because you aren't supposed to talk about I.Q..

That's part of it of the reason; a much bigger 'n' better part is that it explains many social problems which fail to improve much despite spending billions or trillions of dollars on attempting to fix them, and which are blame on "white/systemic racism", the failure to improve due in part to the fact that the IQ factor, and almost certainly its high heritability, is usually just ignored, or worse...

I did a search of [site:ed.gov "iq tests"] expecting to find little or nothing (because a school's "performance" is almost entirely dependent on the "group IQ" of the school's students, and that fact is either defined as false and/or not supposed to be known), but found this:

Court Bans Use of I.Q. Tests for Blacks for Any Purpose in California State Schools: Press Release by Law Offices of Public Advocates, Inc., San Francisco, California.
"The use of standardized I.Q. tests for Blacks has been banned in California State schools. This court settlement culminated 15 years of legal action on a class action suit filed by Black parents for their children who had been disproportionately assigned to classes for the mentally retarded."

MBunge said...

"Statements like "we should judge people as individuals" or "putting people in groups can cause harm" are not confuting or contradicting anything held by people who think group differences in average IQ are real, and have implications for policy."


I'm curious. What ARE those implications for policy? After all, no matter what the reality is of IQ averages for definable groups, any individual member of those groups could be either a genius or a moron.

Mike

Fernandinande said...

Judge Peckham said that there is "less than a one-in-a-million chance that the over-enrollment of black children and the under-enrollment of nonblack children in the emr classes in 1976-77 would have resulted under a color-blind system."

The poor guy pretended to use math.

mandrewa said...

unknown said, What about sex? Any evidence for sex being a thing and being real and having a big impact on human lives?

Well of course sex is real. But is the concept sex from biology or is it from the social sciences? I put it squarely in biology and don't put biology in the social sciences. Now there are going to be hypotheses that social scientists have originated about sex but I suspect in every such case the evidence for a social science idea about sex -- that isn't actually coming from biology -- is going to be much weaker than for the hypothesis of IQ.

Tom said, "...has nothing to do with IQ (which is simply processor speed)"

I believe the same thing. I think most likely IQ is nothing more than how fast your brain runs. And that is why it is so hard to change. And apparently if one person's brain runs 10% faster than another that seemingly small difference turns into something kind of big.

Fernandinande said...

"putting people in groups can cause harm"

Judging a school's educational performance, a popular federal fad at the moment, is actually judging the average IQ of the the group known as "the students".

Fernandinande said...

Education Realist has a typically informative and insightful article on Peckham of similar delusional judicial decisions:

"I couldn’t find the bad old days of discriminatory sorting. What I found, instead, was a judicial rejection of IQ and other ability tests, coupled with an inability to conceive of the actual distribution patterns of cognitive ability."

Fernandinande said...

"and similar"

Francisco D said...

I know what a real IQ test is and there was never anything in school like that. I know there are some tests that purport to approximate IQs and these may have been given... so teachers could know who wasn't working up to his potential.

1. You are one of a few commenters here who know what a real IQ test is, so take the discussion with a grain of salt;

2. Tests of cognitive ability tend to correlate very highly because they are basically tapping into g. The correlations are far higher and far more consistent than any other correlated variables in social science;

3. The tests kids take in school at many different levels correlate highly with WAIS scores. This includes the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (usually in 3-4th grade) the SATs, and the GRE, MCAT and LSAT. Each test has different value because it emphasizes different intellectual skills. However, g underlies all of these cognitive skills.

Anonymous said...

MBunge: I'm curious. What ARE those implications for policy? After all, no matter what the reality is of IQ averages for definable groups, any individual member of those groups could be either a genius or a moron.

Others commenting here have addressed your question, Mike.

Just about all social justice policy (affirmative action, "disparate impact" rules) are based on the assumption that any differences in outcomes among groups is the result of discrimination, and can only be corrected with coercive social policy. It's more than an assumption, really. It's an unquestionable axiom, a religious dogma.

You really haven't noticed how far into the weeds this has led in terms of policy? How policy against objective discrimination moved on to "affirmative action", which in turn moved on to more and more nebulous explanations for unequal outcomes ("white privilege", "structural racism"), and has now entered the stage of mainstream politicians indulging in crazy-talk about "white supremacy" and out-and-out anti-white rhetoric, because of the stubborn persistence in unequal outcomes in the face of previous "remedies"? (Surely you're not such a racist that you'd object to policies being enacted, and resources poured into, the fight against the huge and growing problem of white supremacy in our country, are you?)

Btw, "But group averages don't tell us anything about an indivdual's intelligence", implying that IQ researchers don't know what means and averages are, is another one of those irritating strawmen I deplored. Stupid people who don't understand what researchers are actually saying about IQ don't understand what means and averages are. The researchers themselves tend to have quite an expert grasp of statistics.

chuck said...

I know what a real IQ test is and there was never anything in school like that.

I was given the test in 4'th grade (1955), but not everyone was. My 4'th grade teacher probably requested it.

Mary Beth said...

Why isn't Israel producing Nobel winners and super human geniuses?

They're devoting their energy to cyber security and cyber attacks - developing/implementing things like stuxnet.

n.n said...

He's commenting on an observation, not a choice or forcing. Not Pro-Choice, clinical, or selective.

Michael K said...

71. Basset Hound

Basset hounds are not interested in what you want them to do. Food and sleep are 1 and 2. When they are young, rabbits interest them.

I am now on my fifth basset hound. They know how to let you know it is time to let them out.

We got her home last night. She walked out in the back yard and, after going potty, she saw this shiny thing all lit up, which we call a swimming pool. Never having seen one before, she walked right into it. I fished her out and she has stayed well away from it today. Previous owners were apartment dwellers.

Milwaukie guy said...

Since 1966, there have been twelve Israelis who were awarded Nobel Prize, the most honorable award in various fields including chemistry, economics, literature and peace. Israel has more Nobel Prizes per capita than the United States, France and Germany. It has more laureates, in real numbers, than India, Spain and China. [Bing search]

MBunge said...

"Just about all social justice policy (affirmative action, "disparate impact" rules) are based on the assumption that any differences in outcomes among groups is the result of discrimination"


Ah. I see. It's the old "black people are just stupid so nothing can be done about it" dodge, as thought somehow the existence of racism and discrimination is dependent upon the intellect of those being discriminated against. Why is it the follow up argument to "black people are just stupid" is never "therefore we must do EVEN MORE to assist them with the challenges of life?" Hmm. It is a puzzlement.

"Btw, "But group averages don't tell us anything about an indivdual's intelligence", implying that IQ researchers don't know what means and averages are, is another one of those irritating strawmen I deplored"

It's not a strawman. Means and averages DO NOT tell you anything about an individual's intelligence. For example, even if the average IQ of one racial group is lower than another (and BTW, where do bi- and multi-racial people fit into this?) any number of geniuses will still be produced by the group with the lower average IQ. That seems like kind of an important point when it comes to public policy, such as how to we make sure THOSE geniuses get the appropriate support and opportunities.

Mike

Milwaukie guy said...

Half the people are below median intelligence. It's so sad.

Milwaukie guy said...

Quintiles are much more interesting.

narciso said...

it's a hypothesis, others like Charles murray, have drifted more to cultural explanation for developmental advantages or lack there of, over time,

Francisco D said...

About that dog test... seems to be a test of the instinct to obey and to do tasks. If you were a dog, would you come when the master said "come"? What if you felt really lazy and didn't like people that much? Would that make you dumb?

Stanley Coren's book The Intelligence of Dogs is a good read because he talks about the methodology for his determination of dog intelligence. Basically it's about how many trials they need to learn a new behavior. That's similar to humans.

Coren is a psychologist who apparently knows something about Golden Retrievers since they are in the top ten.

Krumhorn said...

In fact, IQ testing is by far the most robust and replicable finding in all of social science. But people don't like the results, so they ignore it and keep trying other stuff like busing and implicit bias training for teachers and throwing money at Head Start and stuff like that to Close The Gap.

Precisely! My wife is a business law professor at a CA public university, and the governor has made clear that funding will be significantly decreased for any school in the system that does not reduce or eliminate the “opportunity gap” between the performance of the white students and the persons of color (an odious descriptor if ever there was one). For public employee professors represented by a public employee union, there is only one very easy solution that requires virtually no effort other than to tamp down professional standards in a meritocracy: every POC passes, and white students must achieve by standard metrics.

- Krumhorn

Anonymous said...

MBunge: It's not a strawman. Means and averages DO NOT tell you anything about an individual's intelligence.

Jesus, MBunge, are you being deliberately obtuse or are you an idiot? Do you know what a strawman is? It means arguing against a position that your opponent DOES NOT HOLD. (Please excuse the shouting, but deliberate obtuseness can be very irritating.)

Here, let me try to explain it a little more slowly: *Nobody* is making the claim you seem to think somebody out there is making. *Nobody* is arguing that we should judge individuals based on their group average. *Nobody* doesn't know that there is a range of intelligence, from dullards to highly intelligent, in every group, that there are brilliant people in groups with low average average IQs, and morons in groups with high average IQs. So when you trot this banal observation out as if it were an argument against anything actually claimed by anybody, you are trotting out a strawman. Geddit?

Ah. I see. It's the old "black people are just stupid so nothing can be done about it" dodge...

As for this and the paragraph that follows, it's so blisteringly idiotic that I'll withdraw my accusation of your obtuseness being deliberate. Jesus effin' Christ on a pogo stick, how far gone do you have to be in...jeez, I can't even begin to imagine what the hell is wrong with your reading comprehension here.

(Btw, regarding your comment that -

Why is it the follow up argument to "black people are just stupid" is never "therefore we must do EVEN MORE to assist them with the challenges of life?" Hmm. It is a puzzlement.

- you can cease being puzzled. Plenty of "IQ realists" (you know, those people who you *just know* are horrible racists, without actually know jacking squat about them or their work) *do* think we as a society have an obligation to help out people on the left side of the bell curve who get left behind or have a hard time coping in modern society. Some of 'em think affirmative action type policies are a good idea, and necessary for social harmony. Unlike you they understand that that these policies would apply to low-IQ people of all races, so to them it's not all about "dumb black people".)

Anonymous said...

Correction to my comment above: "know jacking squat" > "Knowing jack squat". Lol.

Krumhorn said...


No reason to think you peg 140, AA. All your achievement could be attributed to grinding. Flashes of elephantine wit are not genius. And a genius isn't so much obsessed with being right, like you are, as getting right.


I’m a pretty smart fella, and after reading her blog somewhat regularly for well over a decade, I don’t need IQ test results to assert that our hostess is a lot smarter than I am. Grinding does not explain what I read here. Sometimes, her insights are magical. I’m pretty sure that describes how we feel about certain kinds of genius. Was Art Tatum a genius? Hayek? Feynman?

I don’t know if Althouse is a genius, but she’s pretty damn smart. And when you consider that she’s reflexively a liberal, I give her massive extra points for thinking outside her point of view. Wasn’t that what made special relativity special?

- Krumhorn

rcocean said...

I have two big problems with the Guardian article and Comments:

1. As Althouse states, Burt Stephens is NOT right-wing. He voted for Hillary, has left the Republican party and officially declared he will support any D for President in 2002. NEVER call Stephens "Right wing". Don't blame him on us.

2. "You put people in groups by doing bussing, affirmative action, and the rest. And it causes harm" . Correct, except its "Busing". Don't write "Bussing"!! Even if its right, its wrong. Deeply wrong. On so many levels.

rhhardin said...

'm curious. What ARE those implications for policy? After all, no matter what the reality is of IQ averages for definable groups, any individual member of those groups could be either a genius or a moron.

Teach good character. Good character works with any IQ. You fit in, people like you, your position seems worthwhile to you.

The opposite of teaching resentment as is done now.

Krumhorn said...

Make that “reflexively a political liberal”. I think that most of us around here are classic liberals. It’s the One World lefties who are routinely shitting the bed.

- Krumhorn

Sam L. said...

The GRAUNIAD strikes (out) again!

Krumhorn said...

Teach good character. Good character works with any IQ. You fit in, people like you, your position seems worthwhile to you.

The opposite of teaching resentment as is done now.


I am largely in agreement with Hardin in this thread except for his Althouse is smart but only a woman. crack which was actually very funny.

- Krumhorn

rhhardin said...

Guys are arguing systems, women are arguing feelings.

Anonymous said...

Ken B: Hardin wins that one, and pretty devastatingly too if you go through all the back and forth.

Of course Hardin then does his usual stupid schtick and adds “you are but a female”.


Yeah, but it would be kinda hard to resist, in context. Althouse is doing a very good rendition here of the female stereotype of personalizing and emotionalizing an issue while completely ignoring (or missing) its broader, impersonal, and important context. Hardin points out the existing real-world harm of politically correct kinds of grouping; Althouse ignores all this and wanders off into a well-I-never "...what sort of a person says a thing like that" anecdote.

Appropriately, for a Hardin-heavy thread, the whole thing has a Thurber-esque flavor.

Unknown said...

Based entirely on other research (not Bret Stephens etc), Ashkenazi Jews ARE in fact smarter. There is an interesting argument that the 700 years of severe persecution in Europe during which they could not own land and could only work in limited trades put an extreme advantage on those who were smarter within their population. Such individuals could be bankers, accountants, merchants. Some historical records show that this subgroup had twice as many surviving children as other jews in their community. So their higher IQ is due to discrimination. As example: jews make up about 3% of US population but about 30% of US Nobel prizes, in spite of being excluded from the Ivy League schools for much of the 20th Century. Percent in the top of the entertainment industry likewise out of proportion.

To top it off, the second smartest group is Asians, not whites. But progressives want all discussion of IQ to be off-limits.

Very low IQ is a strong predictor of income (low). But with very high IQ, there is a wider variation in income--some speculate that very smart people may value other things, like being a poet or something that doesn't pay. As Jordan Peterson has noted there is also a big contribution from conscientiousness (psych trait) on income.

It has been shown that there is a major reorganization in the brain in late teens, especially in men. I believe this happened to me. Almost never made an A in school until I got to college but then boom I was A in calculus etc. Standardized test scores from 10th grade (SAT) through college (GRE) kept going up with time.

IQ isn't the only thing that can give you a swelled head. Tall people can think they are better, as can exceptionally good looking people. I find that only people equally smart as myself appreciate my smarts, but for average people my smarts enable me to be a great story teller, which everyone appreciates. So just being smart doesn't mean you have to be a jerk.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Unknown said...

Based entirely on other research (not Bret Stephens etc), Ashkenazi Jews ARE in fact smarter. There is an interesting argument that the 700 years of severe persecution in Europe during which they could not own land and could only work in limited trades put an extreme advantage on those who were smarter within their population.

Russian peasants were not emancipated until 1861. No one expects a person whose ancestors were Russian peasants to be smarter than average.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Suppose we have a colorblind meritocracy. "Merit," in a capitalist system, is frequently a proxy for IQ. In a complex socio-economic system, high IQ people tend to be more efficient at producing wealth.
It is difficult to see how you do NOT end up with a social hierarchy with the Jews, East Asians, and Whites on the top, and the Hispanics and Blacks on the bottom.
That would be a problem. The Hispanics & Blacks would not think "this is the result of a color-blind meritocracy," they would think "we are the equal of the Asians, Jews, and whites, they are conspiring to keep us down."

Narr said...

Since this one is still twitching, I'll have a go.

I just saw Lewis Wetzel's statement at 513pm: not to get off-track, but "no one expects a person whose ancestors were Russian peasants to be smarter than average" strikes me as naive--should we expect descendants of serfs to be stupider than average? What about descendants of Polish, or in my case German peasants? Taking the terms at face value and as descriptive of reality, isn't it a non seq? (What is the IQ distribution of Poland? Assuming IQ is real etc--the Nazis and Reds did their best to eliminate the usual elites--can an effect be seen, even in theory? I would think reversion to the mean would compensate even if Nazi and Red policies had noticeable consequences . . . if . . .if . . . maybe)

But the Prof said something about "working up to your [IQ-related] potential." That assumes several things not in evidence in the science: that an IQ (or equiv) score can give more than a blurry picture of anything, and that skilled interpreters can calibrate something called "potential."

It's like being told that being tall (as I was for my age) proves potential for being a good basketball player--as if temperament and desire were irrelevant to potential, just some pseudo-science number.

Narr
131, acc. to RCC (1953-2012), citing official documents from the files of Colonial Junior High School, c. 1967

Jon Burack said...

The basic premise here is all wet. As an Ashkenazi Jew myself, I know a lot of them who vote Democratic even still. The idea that Jews are smart, therefore, is clearly false. In this country, in any case.

Josephbleau said...

Blogger Fernandistein said...
Judge Peckham said that there is "less than a one-in-a-million chance that the over-enrollment of black children and the under-enrollment of nonblack children in the emr classes in 1976-77 would have resulted under a color-blind system."

A strange statistical statement from the judge.

I say there is less than a one in a million chance that high child birth rates of women and low child birth rates of men would have resulted under a sex blind system. This means there is a non zero effect size of sex on rate of childbirth. Further research is needed to determine causality.

The good judge above found a non zero effect size of race on selection to emr classes in 1976-77. Further research is needed to determine causality.

The judges implicit null hypothesis is that black and white children have the same probability of requiring emr classes. Further, IQ score does not measure that probability.

rcocean said...

Ashkenazi Jews may be smarter than everyone else, but Burt Stephens sure isn't. I dare anyone to look at the NY Op-ed page writers and assert these are America's smartest. Frankly, why they have, who they have, is beyond me. Its not based on writing skill or intelligence. If Althouse and others didn't quote them, I'd never know what they say, because they're shit as writers and thinkers.

Maybe, its their appeal to the NYT readership - who like reading people like themselves and resent being challenged in anyway. The echo-chamber effect.

Lewis Wetzel said...

For events X to have made the Ashkenazi Jews smart, then if those same events happen to another group, it must have made that group smart as well.
We all know that this is bullshit. No one is even trying to argue that, the people making the argument know that it is bullshit. Native Americans aren't smarter than the people in their host culture. Neither are American Blacks. Neither are the Sammi in Finland nor the Armenians in the Near East.
"European Jews punch above their weight, intellectually" is a true statement.
"We know why European Jews punch above their weight, intellectually" is not a true statement.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ann, if you know your SAT scores you can easily look up the conversion to IQ. You would have taken yours before the scoring change (as I did), so factor that in. "Genius" is an ill-defined term that IQ researchers have nothing to do with.

The same popular complaints against IQ tests are repeatedly endlessly. They are easily refuted - including your comments on the topic - but it doesn't seem to matter because people don't want to believe what is actually fairly easy to demonstrate, and has been for years. It gets rather tiring, frankly. I imagine there are some myths about the law that even fairly educated people keep repeating, and you are just tired of correcting them.

What happens in these situations is that the popular imagination switches who are the aggressors and who are the defenders. In the matter of education, social interventions, public policy, and polite discussion IQ, whether individual or group, is given no weight whatsoever. Genetics is given no weight whatsoever. In everyday conversation, people will say "Oh it's both genetics and environment, sure. And IQ likely does give some rough indication of basic intelligence, sure. Everyone knows that." But when action is taken, the assumptions are entirely environmental, and the official statements of groups deny the validity and predictive value of IQ. And then those people want to spend everyone's money and make school policy or discipline policy or vocational policy on on bases that are know to be false and will certainly fail. When the people who know the information on IQ and genetics raise an objection, we are perceived as aggressive attackers who keep trying to show off and be superior and make others feel bad.

We are just pushing back against pseudoscience. We aren't going looking to ram down everyone's throat how wonderful IQ is and what great people those who have big numbers are. We are pushing back against the complete denial that there is even a 5% effect, when we know the effect is hugely higher. People in the high-IQ societies will be the first to tell you that it isn't everything, what its limitations are, what other qualities are more valuable, etc. We draw the line at the fools who say "well, it isn't really anything, it just shows that you can take tests," or that it's culturally biased, or that IQ doesn't measure anything useful because in Papua New Guinea they track animals by spoor and Einstein couldn't do that, and all the other nonsense. It's the same arguments every day and very little reading required to get through the research.

Automatic_Wing said...

For events X to have made the Ashkenazi Jews smart, then if those same events happen to another group, it must have made that group smart as well.

Try to think about what's unique about Ashkenazi Jews. It's not that they were persecuted or treated badly or whatever. It's that Ashkenazi Jews in premodern Europe specialized in white collar work - that is, work where the importance of being smart is magnified.

Does it make sense that men who were more successful at their jobs might be able to support more offspring? I think it does. And that is what the Cochran/Harpending book proposes. Is it proven? No, of course it's real life so there's no way to run a double blind test on it. But it makes more sense that just waving your arms and yelling "culture" over and over again.

https://www.amazon.com/000-Year-Explosion-Civilization-Accelerated/dp/0465020429

Nichevo said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I understand why rhardin talks about I.Q. so much. It's because you aren't supposed to talk about I.Q."

Yes, why doesn't he obey the commands? He must be dumb.

12/29/19, 11:02 AM
Ann Althouse said...
"No reason to think you peg 140, AA...."

I'm afraid you'll have to take a C- in reading comprehension.

12/29/19, 11:03 AM

You just think that because you're not that smart.

Nichevo said...

Oh and pretend I'm Howard and consider a lot of shtick laid on you about how you have been cucked and trolled and whatever it is he thinks he is doing.