The Hierachy of Intelligence(s)( Tests)

In the context of an attack on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (10 page PDF), David F. Lohman (of the University of Iowa) presents this visualization of the hierarchies of intelligence tests:

Hierarchy of IQ Tests

The closer to the center, the more general lintelligence (“g”) loads on the test. Some tests, such as identifying the correct endings of words, reading speed, or listening comprehension test “g” more indirectly than measures of verbal achievement, paper folding, or necessary arithemetic operations.

A good example is the Test Necessary Arithmetic Operations. This test was devised by Guilford to measure a specific cell in his Structure of the Intellect Model. Each item presents a short word problem. The examinee’s task is not to solve the problem, but to say which two operations she would use, and in what order. There are four operations: add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Thus, problems do not require advanced mathematics. Yet in the sample of over 100 Stanford undergraduates who were administered most of the tests in Figure 2, Necessary Arithmetic Operations had one of the highest loadings on the [fluid intelligence] factor (Marshalek, Lohman, & Snow, 1983).

I meant this because of Mark’s discussion of Dr. James Flynn on the Flynn Effect. Essentially, the Flynn effect explains the large-scale increase in measured general intelligence over the 20th century as reflecting increased society-wide patterns of practice on subtests. This implies two things: first, that tests should be renormalized every so often to make sure they still measure “g,” and not practice. Second, that ability improves with practice.

It strikes me that, when properly normalized, IQ measures something psychobioneurological… perhaps not working memory exactly, but something not too far apart from that concept.

This has implications for the heritability of IQ. Most obviously, the more environment changes, the more change in performance can be traced to the environment. (Of course, as environments become more similar, more of the variation in the population will be explained by environments.)

Is Romney a Christian?

Cohen, R. (2007). Un-Mormon and unchristian. Washington Post. December 4, 2007. Available online: (from The Corner).


Mormonism is as close to/far from Christianity as is Islam or Judaism. The main difference is one of emphasize: in spite of fundamental theological differences, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints writes the middle part of their name very large. The religion of submission, in spite of its origin as a variant of Arian Christianity, downplays its historical roots with the carpenter.

Broadly, Christians believe in the existence of two general natures, a created nature and a divine nature. God has a divine nature, man has a created nature. Uniquely, Jesus Christ has both natures residing in one person: hence the titles Son of Man and Son of God. Christ himself is one person of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

In Islam, man has a created nature and God has a divine nature. There is no “confusion” of these natures, no co-residing natures in any one person. Judaism is similar: Judaism differs from Islam not in its basic theology, but a more technical question of what was said when, where, and to whom.

Mormonism disagrees with Islam and Judaism, but with Christianity too. In Mormon theology, there is only one nature, which man and God shares. Mormonism, like Scientology, makes factual claims about the real world without pleading in the existence of a separate, divine realm. The difference between God and Man in Mormonism is essentially one of technology, wisdom, and power.

(While Mormonism is sharply different from most forms of Christianity, it probably approximates the beliefs of those early monolaters who spoke of El, Yahweh, etc. better than either Christianity, Judaism, Islam. Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism emerged after exposure to Greek philosophy that dwelt on forms, nature, and persons. Mormonism, by contrast, was heavily influenced by the rise of science and a rejection of the natural-supernatural dichotomy.)

That said, the answer is not as simple as a “no.”

Christ taught that the servant who says “no” and obeys his master’s will is a better servant than that which says “yes” and disobeys. Christianity, in the end, boils down to hope, faith, and love (love most of all). Putting faith before love is putting the cart before the horse!

Secondly, there’s the question of self-identification. While watching Amazing Race: Asia, I was surprised to see a team-mate speaking about how she is good friends with her partner in the game, “even though she is Catholic and I am Christian.” By contrast, socioculturally Mormons in the United States are essentially indistinguishable from Christians.

Ultimately, the question shouldn’t matter. Mitt Romney is a flip flopper to make John Kerry proud, has run away from the one thing he did right (health care reform), and now embraces an extreme position that he was rightly above as governor (immigration). Romney should lose fair and square.

Not because he (is? is not?) a Christian.

Genetic and Environmental Causes of Human Diversity

Just because a side in an argument uses bad arguments doesn’t mean it’s wrong. By far, the least logic and most emotional rhetoric I have ever seen was in the newsgroup in the late 1990s, where evolutionists were bufeddled and angered by the repleis of the creationists. That doesn’t mean that descent with modification by natural selection is a wrong theory. It means that the truth was weaker in its rhetoric than the false.

With that said, Stephen Metcalf’s “Dissecting the IQ Debate: A Response to William Saletan’s Series on Race and IQ” (hat-tip to The Corner and South Dakota Politics) is awful.

After a lengthy ad hominem attack, Metcalf begins addressing evidence for racial differences in IQ.


Much of Saletan’s précis of the rest of the research surveyed in “Thirty Years of Research Into Race Differences on Cognitive Abilities” is highly questionable. His takeaway regarding the “admixture” studies is precisely the opposite of what an American Psychological Association task force concluded the studies show—that more “European” blood in a black American does not make him smarter.

Pay attention here. Metcalf attacks Saletan for citing a peer-reviewed journal article, when a politically selected task force disagreed with its conclusions. No one denies the factual claims of the article: that European admixture positively correlates with general intelligence among African-Americans. Indeed, that alone is not evidence of innate racial differences. But the correlation between miscegenation and g in the population does not go away even when corrected for other variables.


Saletan points up the problems with a favorite study of the environmentalists, into the IQ outcomes of children fathered by foreign soldiers and raised by (white) German mothers. This study showed that kids with African fathers scored the same as those with white fathers. But, Saletan says, it suffers from a fatal flaw: Blacks in the military had been screened for IQ. Saletan concludes, “Even environmentalists (scholars who advocate nongenetic explanations) concede that this filter radically distorted the numbers.” But this is flatly untrue. The two most prominent environmentalists, Richard Nisbett and James Flynn, have dismissed this very objection. Both have pointed out that white soldiers were also screened, and so had higher IQs than the general white population.

This regards a study that finds Germans with African-American fathers have an IQ about that of the German population. This might be explained by the fact that the military screens for IQ, rejecting a disproportionately high number of African-Americans for that reason. The counter-argument that European-Americans were also screened is besides the point: the US Army in WWII did not engage in affirmative action. The minimum IQ level for blacks was the same as the minimum IQ level for whites.


Saletan uses a sheer volume of statistics to create an aura of gathering unanimity, but many of his statistics have been taken at face value. To take one example: Saletan casually countenances the assertion that the mean IQ of sub-Saharan Africa is 70. The number arrives to us via a man named Richard Lynn. Lynn is the author of the 1996 volume “Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations.” In “historical societies,” Lynn wrote, “illegitimate children, born predominantly to parents with low intelligence and weak character, suffered high mortality.” Until the scourge of modern medicine, such culling assured the expulsion of weaklings from the gene pool, while the “operation of positive natural selection” ensured the “reproductive fitness of the leaders and of the upper and middle classes.” The instrument Lynn used to apprehend these depressed IQ scores is a supposedly culturally unbiased exam called Raven’s Progressive Matrices. “To use an instrument developed in the West on semi and possibly illiterate people is a fool’s errand,” says Nisbett, a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan who studies cognition and social psychology. “Then they use the results to say that half the people in Africa are mentally retarded. It’s laughable.”

Here, the web can help out. The table in Flynn’s book is available online. Some tests use the Raven tool, others use other tool.

The next paragraph again relies on the political summary of an APA body, and thus is unoworthy of comment.


Furthermore, the APA task force lays out—finally!—the real heart of the conflict. To understand what is really being fought over when we fight over the IQ gap between blacks and whites, its authors explain, you must think through an analogy. Imagine two wheat fields. Now imagine two genetically identical sets of seeds. (The analogy was first made famous by the Harvard evolutionary biologist and geneticist Richard Lewontin.) Now imagine each field is planted with these two identical seed stocks. Field No. 1 is given the best possible inputs: sunshine intensity, rain, soil nitrates, etc. Field No. 2 is given much less of all of the above. Within each field, inputs are kept uniform. Inevitably, the first field grows a healthier supply of grain than the second. But here is the rub: Within each field, the variation in outcomes is entirely hereditary. Between the two fields, the variation in outcomes in entirely environmental.

An excellent analogy. Using it, one would expect that environment differences, such as parent’s income, drown out genetic differences, such as race.

But that is just not so. From the original Saletan article:

My first reaction, looking at this pattern, was that if the highest-scoring blacks are those who have lighter skin or live in whiter countries, the reason must be their high socioeconomic status relative to other blacks. But then you have to explain why, on the SAT, white kids from households with annual incomes of $20,000 to $30,000 easily outscore black kids from households with annual incomes of $80,000 to $100,000. You also have to explain why, on IQ tests, white kids of parents with low incomes ­and low IQs outscore black kids of parents with high incomes and high IQs. Or why Inuits and Native Americans outscore American blacks.

But Metcalf makes it clear that he believes that living in a good neighborhood, in a good home, with high-income parents, it itself drowned out by “the legacy of American racism.”

In the absence of some startling new evidence, the crux of the issue turns out to be this: Do you believe the legacy of American racism, in all its complexity, can explain depressed black IQ scores, even when controlling for all other factors, including socioeconomic status? Is the black experience, in other words, so unique as to constitute, for nearly all black Americans, a separate wheat field? If you say yes, then good news: You believe (along with the most prominent environmentalists) that the black-white IQ gap will close in the next 50 or so years. If you think no, then bad news: You believe, with the most prominent hereditarians, that blacks as a group must resign themselves to higher rates of poverty, unemployment, divorce, and violent criminality purely as a matter of genetic fate.

Indeed. This is the first good point that Metcalf makes in the entire article.

Such a “legacy of racism” must be indirect, as it does not seem to harm either Afro-Carribeans or immigrants from Africa.

More likely, such a legacy of racism is the profoundly broken African-American culture. This, and not “racism” as its commonly conceived, is the explanation that James Flynn and other environmentalists look for. And perhaps they are right.

But there is another explanation: as immigrant populations, both Afro-Carribeans and immigrants from Africa are self-selected: moving to a new country is dangerous, especially when it means weakening the strong family ties back home. It requires a special something — a something that can include general intelligence — to go through the time-consuming and dangerous immigration process. Perhaps the reason that black immigrants from Africa and the Carribean do better than African Americans on so many measures is precisely genetic.