Sunday, January 22, 2012

An uninsightful look at racist attitudes

Below is an academic journal article which claims that "racists" have low IQs.  I append some comments at the foot of it
Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes

Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact

Gordon Hodson et al.


Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.


What the article ignores is that the mental gymnastics required by political correctness are considerable.  A simple soul who sees a lot of black crime is likely to have a low opinion of blacks and say so.  But, as is often said, some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual would believe them.  And concluding that chronic black criminality is all Whitey's fault is one such idea.  So all the study really shows is that brighter people are more able to absorb the counterintuitive but politically correct cult that the elite have made  normative in society.  Only simpler people take their views from observable reality.

And we must also note  that we are talking here about ADMITTED attitudes.  And where some attitudes are much decried -- as are racially-denominated attitudes -- the truth of any admissions can only be speculated on.  It could well be that attitude to blacks (say) is the same at all levels of IQ but only the simpler members of society are foolish enough to admit what they really think.

I could go on but I think it is already clear that this study proves nothing.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teens aren't too old to boost their IQ, study finds

I haven't looked at this study closely but it seems to represent  confirmation of the most favoured explanation for the Flynn effect.  The Flynn effect is that average IQ scores rose during most of the 20th century in most places.  The effect is probably the result of a number of influences but the influence generally thought most important is  increasing test sophistication.  The longer kids stay in  school the more they become "test wise" and thus increase their IQ score even though there is no increase in underlying ability.  That would certainly explain the findings below but, sadly for the hopeful, no real advantage will have been gained

 If your teenager could use a few more IQ points, Norwegian scientists have some good news: It may not be too late for junior to get them.

Many researchers now agree that mental stimulation in one's early years helps IQ to develop, but there is no such consensus that education - or anything else - can boost IQ on older kids. Studies have seen correlations between a person's total years of schooling and his or her IQ, but there's no good way to tease out the cause and effect. It could be that extra school raises IQ, but it's just as likely that those with higher IQs to start with are inclined to stay in school longer. It's also possible that some other trait, such as family income, influences both IQ and length of education at the same time.

In an ideal world, researchers would divide students into groups, give some of those groups a few extra years in the classroom and then measure everyone's IQ. If additional education was indeed an intelligence booster, then the students who spent more time in school would have higher IQs, on average, than the students who spent less time in school.

It turns out that the government of Norway conducted just such an experiment - albeit unwittingly. From 1955 to 1972, the Norwegian government required schools to increase the number of years of mandatory schooling from seven to nine. This meant that students who used to be done at age 14 now remained in the classroom until age 16. School districts didn't implement the change all at once but rolled it out over many years. This resulted in a data set that allowed researchers to slice and dice the figures in many ways - to check their work, in other words.

The other helpful thing about Norway is that the military there measured the IQ of all 19-year-old men as part of the universal draft.

Researchers from the University of Oslo and Statistics Norway (the government's bureau of statistics) matched up IQ and years of schooling and IQ for men born in 1950 through 1958. They found that each of the additional years of education raised the men's IQ by an average of 3.7 points - an increase that was deemed statistically significant. For these men, the school reform meant that they got about two additional months of education, resulting in an additional 0.6 IQ points.

The results were reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"These results do not directly challenge the recent emphasis placed on early childhood environment for the development of cognitive skills," the researchers wrote. However, they added, "these results suggest that we should not yet entirely disregard the potential of interventions even as late as in adolescence."