Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Waning of IQ

It looks like IQ bashing is popular again. There is a new book on IQ: A Smart History of a Failed Idea, and David Brooks writes in the NY Times (mirrored here, here, and here):
A nice phenomenon of the past few years is the diminishing influence of I.Q.

For a time, I.Q. was the most reliable method we had to capture mental aptitude. People had the impression that we are born with these information-processing engines in our heads and that smart people have more horsepower than dumb people. ...

Today, the research that dominates public conversation is not about raw brain power but about the strengths and consequences of specific processes. ... While psychometrics offered the false allure of objective fact, the new science brings us back into contact with literature, history and the humanities, and, ultimately, to the uniqueness of the individual.
New science? We have political correctness requiring that IQ not be mentioned.

This article claims that research shows that it is better not to tell a kid that he is smart.

IQ research has its problems, but it is a whole lot better than most other psychology research. If you reject it, then you should probably reject all psychological diagnoses.

Here is a good rebuttal to Brooks, and here is another.

One of the silliest anti-IQ arguments is that there are multiple intelligences. The argument is like those who say that you cannot compare apples and oranges, even tho they've surely bought apples and oranges at the supermarket where they sat next to each other with different price labels. Stephen Jay Gould is someone who made a lot of money by arguing that IQ is disproved by the possibility of multiple intelligences.

Yes, of course there are multiple measures of intelligence. That is obvious to everyone who does IQ testing. They merely argue that some measures are more useful than others.

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