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July 22, 2012

IQ, Self Discipline, and Success

The Editorial Staff have a backlog of interesting items and not enough time to write about them. We saw this last week and wanted to sit on it (well not literally, because that would be uncomfortable) for a few days:

We accept that some people are taller than others, or darker- or lighter-skinned, or better at running. We also accept that these differences are due, at least in part, to genetics. Yet there is one area where we continue to insist that there cannot be any innate biological distinction between different people, or groups of people, and that is in our minds. The merest suggestion that there may be hard-wired disparities in intelligence causes the most terrible wailing and gnashing of teeth, even though such physical and mental variations – dictated by genes and environment – are exactly what you would expect in an abundant species that has adapted to just about every corner of the globe.

That taboo, however, may be breaking down. In his new book, the brilliant psychologist James Flynn, of Otago University in New Zealand, has revealed that, for the first time, women (in some developed countries) are systematically outperforming men in standardised tests of intelligence. This contradicts earlier findings which suggested that, historically, men have had IQs that were a couple of points higher – or rather, have performed marginally better on a whole slew of intelligence metrics, which measure subtly different things.

The reaction to this finding has been largely positive. Most reports have concentrated on women’s ability to “juggle” and to “multi-task”, with the conclusion: “Didn’t we know this all along?” Expect to hear the old clarion call of “men are redundant”, with the human male reduced to a shambling, knuckle-dragging brute lost in a sea of feminised modernity.

Imagine, however, that Flynn had found the opposite. Suppose that his trawl of standardised measures of intelligence in schoolchildren and young adults, in countries as disparate as Estonia, Argentina, Israel and New Zealand, had confirmed, once and for all, that men had slightly higher IQs. Would that finding be celebrated?

Of course not. Howling columnists would queue up to pour scorn on the very notion, stating that the idea of innate sex differences in IQ is utterly chauvinist. Others would take issue with the whole notion of measured intelligence: “What is IQ,” they would ask, “but a measure of the ability to do intelligence tests?”

We had to laugh at this a bit, because the whole "How much does IQ matter?" meme was lauded by much of the feminist crowd (and denigrated by the anti-feminists) during the many years in which the marginal superiority of male IQ scores was pretty much unquestioned. Expect to see the usual suspects perform a startling about face now that women may be (so to speak) coming out on top: anti-feminists will claim the test and the system are biased against men, while feminists who questioned the significance of that tiny difference in scores when men outscored women will fall all over themselves in their eagerness to drink the scientific Koolaid.

The recent rise in women's IQ scores strikes us as less interesting than people's reactions to it. For as long as I can remember, average IQ scores (and their variability and range) have been used to explain everything from why it's only natural for there to be more male than female scientists to why it is just silly to expect women to compete with men in the workplace. So, while we wholeheartedly agree with the idea that IQ is just one of many factors that determine success, we can't help shaking our pretty little head at all the times relatively higher male IQ scores were used to "explain" disparate participation and/or achievement in various endeavors.

We found this part especially intriguing:

First, we have to dismiss the pernicious but persistent fallacy that IQ is meaningless. The tests used today attempt to measure something called g, a measure of innate general intelligence that is divorced, as far as possible, from cultural and social bias. Thus questions tend to involve not word associations (which are influenced by your level of literacy and knowledge) but connections between patterns and shapes, order and structure.

Most psychologists now accept that while IQ (or g) may not be a measure of pure intelligence per se, it is certainly a measure of something that correlates very well with it. People with high IQs tend to end up with better qualifications, better jobs, higher earnings and longer lives. Crucially, they are also perceived as “cleverer”. Like it or not, being a successful human has a lot to do with being smart – and IQ, or g, does seem to be a fair measure of smartness.

This brings us to one of the most interesting – and scientifically counter-intuitive – findings to have emerged in the last 100 years: namely, that we are all, men and women alike, getting brighter.

I've always thought that IQ, or mental ability, or whatever you want to call it, was far more influenced by culture, environment, and education than we suspected. Moving around every few years, I couldn't help noticing that putting my sons in more challenging schools was inevitably followed by a sharp increase in their performance on not only tests of knowledge, but aptitude tests. I think the brain responds to being challenged - without enough stimulation, our ability to solve problems atropies just as muscles lose strength and size when we don't exercise. I also think that part of these increased scores reflects the fact that one side effect of mastering difficult coursework is increased persistence.

Simply put, part of the reason children need to be challenged in school is that they need to develop an appreciation for the relationship between self-discipline and success. Some studies have concluded that persistence and self discipline are better predictors of success than intelligence:

Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable, including report-card grades, standardized achievement-test scores, admission to a competitive high school, and attendance. Self discipline measured in the fall predicted more variance in each of these outcomes than did IQ, and unlike IQ, self-discipline predicted gains in academic performance over the school year.

Thus, I found this article fascinating:

In a 1978 study, the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck and a colleague gave a series of puzzles to children, all of them about 10 years old. The first eight problems required some careful thought, but none was too demanding. The next four, however, were far too hard for anyone that age to solve in the allotted time. On the first eight, all of the youngsters solved the exercises and appeared to enjoy them. But everything changed with the impossible second set.

Reactions differed enormously. One group of students said things like, "I can't solve these problems. I'm not smart enough." They wilted in the face of failure. Children in the other group took a different approach: They kept telling themselves that they could solve the difficult problems with more effort.

Dr. Dweck and other psychologists have assigned labels to these two types of students. Students of the first sort are called "helpless" because they develop the idea that they just can't do something. If they continue to believe that they are generally smart, they still often become helpless because they are afraid to try anything new for fear that failure will undermine their self-image as "one of the bright ones."

Girls (and gifted students) are particularly vulnerable to the notion that their ability to solve complex problems is a fixed attribute outside their control:

... in Dweck and Mueller's study, there were no mean differences in ability between the kids in the "smart" praise and "effort" praise groups, nor in past history of success — everyone did well on the first set, and everyone had difficulty on the second set. The only difference was how the two groups interpreted difficulty — what it meant to them when the problems were hard to solve. "Smart" praise kids were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective performers as a result.

The kind of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children has a major impact on the implicit beliefs we develop about our abilities — including whether we see them as innate and unchangeable, or as capable of developing through effort and practice. When we do well in school and are told that we are "so smart," "so clever," or "such a good student," this kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness, and goodness are qualities you either have or you don't. The net result: when learning something new is truly difficult, smart-praise kids take it as sign that they aren't "good" and "smart," rather than as a sign to pay attention and try harder.

Incidentally, this is particularly true for women. As young girls, they learn to self-regulate (i.e., sit still and pay attention) more quickly than boys. Consequently they are more likely to be praised for "being good," and more likely to infer that "goodness" and "smartness" are innate qualities. In a study Dweck conducted in the 1980's, for instance, she found that bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up compared to bright boys — and the higher the girls' IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses.

We continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives. And because bright kids are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, they grow up to be adults who are far too hard on themselves — adults who will prematurely conclude that they don't have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena, and give up way too soon.

Even if every external disadvantage to an individual's rising to the top of an organization is removed — every inequality of opportunity, every unfair stereotype, all the challenges we face balancing work and family — we would still have to deal with the fact that through our mistaken beliefs about our abilities, we may be our own worst enemy.

This may just be my own confirmation bias talking, but I keep coming back to the conclusion that we're far too quick to attribute disparities in academic performance to forces beyond the student's control (overcrowded classrooms, sexism or "anti-male"/feminized schools, etc) rather than concentrating on what we know works: teaching children that success is a function of persistence, hard work, and self discipline - and then demanding from them the kind of effort that will make them successful adults?

We keep thinking the solution to every outcome we don't like is to lower our standards: to make things easier. I can't help wondering whether in our never ending struggle to remove every barrier to success, we're raising adults who are less resilient, resourceful, and persistent? What if the real solution is to make things harder?

Posted by Cassandra at July 22, 2012 07:26 AM

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Oh my goodness, the Flynn study is so deeply flawed: It really is just PC nonsense masquerading as science. Multi-tasking? Just what is that? How does it increase iQ scores? (there is no multi-tasking involved in IQ testing) How do women do "more" of this? By being "homemakers"? by "juggling careers and home"? What pseudo-intellectual, half-baked nonsense. Try being a combat Marine if you want to "multitask". It is just the silliest, pseudo-scientific claptrap.

Flynn is just regurgitating the current feminist nonsense fashionable in his circles.
The psycho-meterics have been thoroughly screwed up for decades due to PC nonsense (and yes, female scores have been normed up over the last 4 years or so; they have been normed up for generation cadre too).

If you look at consistent raw scores from the same batteries, you will find women clustered around a median; me too are clustered around a median too, but much more loosely. Male median in high than the female too. High IQ is a profound statistical anomaly in females.

Flynn's 'analysis" is completely bogus.

Beyond that, if the abilities of the sexes were at some sort of "parity" the history of the world would be radically different.

All else is just feminist cant.

Posted by: harumph at July 23, 2012 02:09 PM

re: Flynn is just regurgitating the current feminist nonsense fashionable in his circles.
The psycho-meterics have been thoroughly screwed up for decades due to PC nonsense (and yes, female scores have been normed up over the last 4 years or so; they have been normed up for generation cadre too).

Well, that didn't take long:

Expect to see the usual suspects perform a startling about face now that women may be (so to speak) coming out on top: the anti-feminists will claim that both the test and the system are biased against men...

Too funny. Did you read Flynn's study before announcing that it was worthless?

Not having read it myself, I don't have an opinion one way or the other (and, like Flynn, I doubt IQ means as much as people obviously want it to, despite being what you so amusingly term "a profound statistical anomaly").

Whenever I see someone jump in with such obvious passion (either for or against a particular idea) and no real evidence other than a lot of unsupported assertions, I have to wonder a bit.

Beyond that, if the abilities of the sexes were at some sort of "parity" the history of the world would be radically different.

Given that Flynn's study asserts that both male and female IQs have risen over time, but female IQ has risen faster, you may want to rethink your logic.

Frankly, if I were to attack such a study, I'd be far more concerned with sampling bias than anything else.

Posted by: Cass at July 23, 2012 03:18 PM

I am often reminded of something Isaac Newton said, and I'm paraphrasing. I keep the problem focused in my mind until a crack opens. Newton was reported to be able to do this for hours at a time.

I have often thought that some abilities are more related to the ability to concentrate than anything else.

Posted by: Allen at July 23, 2012 03:54 PM

Curiously, the actual title of the Flynn paper is "Modern women match men on Raven’s Progressive Matrices." You can pull the data out of Flynn's report, if you're wanting an exciting headline; but that's not really what he thought he found.

I read the report at this link, but I'm accessing it through the university library network, so that link may not work for you.

Posted by: Grim at July 23, 2012 04:34 PM

In general, though, Cass, let me express support for your ideas. The 'Flynn effect' has to do with proper nutrition and education giving rise to higher IQs; but I think you're right about what kinds of education are best. (See also the piece at the Hall about Zell Miller, and his thoughts regarding the Marine Corps).

Posted by: Grim at July 23, 2012 04:41 PM

No, it doesn't work for me, but maybe others will be able to access the link.

You can pull the data out of Flynn's report, if you're wanting an exciting headline; but that's not really what he thought he found.

...which kind of supports my point about how people interpret it being more interesting than the actual results :p

I get the feeling both sexes seize on studies like this as the ultimate appeals to authority. That's really kind of dumb when you stop to consider how small the measured difference cited really are. :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 04:47 PM

I have often thought that some abilities are more related to the ability to concentrate than anything else.

This is really the crux of it, I think. I scored higher than my brother on most standardized aptitude tests but there is ZERO doubt that he has always been a far, far better problem solver than I.

I also think the correlation between high correlation between IQs and Asberger's is interesting. Do IQ tests measure potential or realized intelligence? I would argue it's more likely to be the latter.

The interesting implication here is that people with a higher ability to concentrate should (as the WSJ article suggests) score higher on IQ tests, regardless of their actual problem solving ability.

I have always considered my brother to be smarter than I am, tests be damned. But he is smarter at certain things. I think I may actually have a more versatile mind. I'm good at more things, but the side effect is that I'm highly distractable and also tend to give up easily if something is hard.

I wonder about how the rise of the Internet, electronic devices and games, and TV has affected boys' IQ scores? All of those things are known to affect the ability to concentrate as well as the ability to defer gratification. But anyone who suggests that these things, while probably beneficial in moderation, may be harming boys in the aggregate gets run out of town on a rail.

I didn't let my boys have handheld games and strictly limited their access to TV and the Internet because, if offered the choice between reading challenging books or playing games that required them to think or vegging out, they would choose the less challening pursuit.

My husband and I also noticed a dramatic decline in our ability to focus, related to Internet use. We have both cut WAY back and found that after a short time, our concentration returned.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 04:57 PM

In general, though, Cass, let me express support for your ideas. The 'Flynn effect' has to do with proper nutrition and education giving rise to higher IQs; but I think you're right about what kinds of education are best.

First of all, that means a lot to me, Grim :)

Do you think the education thing may be even more true for boys than girls?

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 04:58 PM

I also think the correlation between high correlation between IQs and Asberger's is interesting.

Apparently, this particular woman's ability to multi-task isn't all that high....

Heh.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 04:59 PM

Well, as I read the report, the smallness of the numbers is really what's exciting to him. I'll summarize it, since you can't read it directly.

The report begins by describing the "male advantage hypothesis," which has come out over decades of research. It assumes a male advantage of 1.67 points in mean IQ, and females having a standard deviation that was just 90% of men. (This is the 'flatness' thing we've talked about: deviation is wider in men, so there are more male idiots and also more male geniuses).

What he finds is that -- among the university students studied -- men have an IQ mean advantage of 2.73 points, but that women actually have a higher SD (106% of the men in the study). He asks "How could the female SD soar above the male SD among university students except due to a lower IQ threshold, one that allowed a larger proportion of females into university?" He then examines, and is forced to dismiss, the one alternative that occurs to him.

(What he's saying here is that the study he's looking at is biased by affirmative action: men aren't really that much smarter than women, and women don't really show that much variance in intelligence. Rather, because affirmative action at the university is allowing a larger percentage of women than men to qualify, women within the university system are able to attend at lower intelligence levels than men; thus, they appear to be less intelligent on average than they really are, and show greater deviation than they really have.)

He then goes on to look at reading tests from 57 nations as a way of trying to estimate how much lower the female threshold is for admission to university. Here he finds that even if male and female IQ is in fact exactly the same, his statistics show that there would have to be at least a three point IQ threshold. He finds: "We state what we think a judicious conclusion: until the possibility of different gender IQ thresholds is investigated, university samples are suspect."

(So, studies like the first one can't be trusted to inform our understanding of IQ between the sexes; they just show the effect of affirmative action.)

It's only at this point that he looks at the Raven studies in several countries (not the US), and finds two things we more or less already knew: girls mature faster than boys (which means there are certain ages in which girls score much higher on IQ tests, as much as 7 points higher in Estonia at age 12); but that, for most ages, the differences on this particular measurement are quite small (i.e., less than one point). This continues until age 16 or 17, when men surpass women by as much as 1.4 points (in Israel, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa); or sometimes it continues as far as age 19 (in Argentina).

But since we can't rely on the data for men and women in the universities, we lose track of it at about this time. Thus his real finding is that there is rough parity between the sexes, within a point, at the highest age we can reliably study (age 19).

Posted by: Grim at July 23, 2012 05:12 PM

What he's saying here is that the study he's looking at is biased by affirmative action: men aren't really that much smarter than women, and women don't really show that much variance in intelligence. Rather, because affirmative action at the university is allowing a larger percentage of women than men to qualify, women within the university system are able to attend at lower intelligence levels than men; thus, they appear to be less intelligent on average than they really are, and show greater deviation than they really have.

This is consistent with something else I read about the effect of sample restriction of IQ scores. Interesting!

I continue to believe that IQ scores measure intelligence only indirectly. But they're fun to talk about!

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 05:24 PM

Holy crap:

the effect of sample restriction *ON* IQ scores

I've been working too long today.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 05:25 PM

Do you think the education thing may be even more true for boys than girls?

I honestly don't know. I know that they are absolutely critical for men. However, I've never been able to teach a woman anything, so... }:>

Seriously, though, I find that female students seem to need more encouragement, even at the graduate level, to get engaged in the conversation. Challenges are critical for boys and young men both; if you don't challenge them and push them, they won't take it seriously. (I think this follows the young man's maxim: 'Nothing's worth doing if there's no glory in it; and glory comes from doing what is terrifying and hard.')

For girls, it does seem to be the case that encouragement is the thing that really helps them flower as students. The ones I know want an environment in which they don't feel like they'll be judged or slapped down.

"Helps them," I say, because the real flowering is something they must do themselves. This is where I greatly agree with you. If they aren't self-disciplined, they won't succeed. But what you can do to help the ones who are self-disciplined seems to vary.

Posted by: Grim at July 23, 2012 05:25 PM

I'm not sure I'm convinced that it's "nutrition" or even "education" in and of itself.

Rather I think it's a phenomenon of the fact that you get what you measure.

Whether you are measuring IQ, or internet traffic, you will act to make that metric move in the "proper" direction. If you are measuring the right thing this can do wonders, if you are measuring the wrong thing you just get better at doing the wrong thing.

Since we measure IQ it shouldn't really be surprising that it has been going up. We teach the skills necessary to do well on the test.

Given that we educate boys and girls more similarly now than in prior generations, reaching parity should not be surprising (my Aunt actually dropped out of high school because Home Economics was a requirement for graduation for the girls and enrolled directly into college)

My only real issue with IQ tests is that they are too broad. I score well on them, but it masks that I am quite average in verbal skills but nearly 3 standard deviations above the mean in math.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 23, 2012 05:27 PM

For girls, it does seem to be the case that encouragement is the thing that really helps them flower as students. The ones I know want an environment in which they don't feel like they'll be judged or slapped down.

That doesn't surprise me. I never needed much encouragement wrt to school because if anything I had a vastly inflated idea of my own ability. I blame my Dad for encouraging me too much... :p

BUT, numerous studies have shown that girls/women judge their own natural ability and performance far more harshly than males do. This could explain why they more encouragement would be beneficial to them.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 23, 2012 05:34 PM

I've never taken an IQ test that I can recall, or at least if I did no one gave me the results. Nor, as far as I know, has anyone in my family. They say you can translate an SAT or GRE score to an IQ with some confidence.

If Charles Murray is to be believed, there are some kinds of jobs for which IQ is an outstanding indicator of success, but clearly not all jobs are in that category. The average impact of IQ on job success overall may not be that high.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 23, 2012 10:48 PM

I wonder about how the rise of the Internet, electronic devices and games, and TV has affected boys' IQ scores? All of those things are known to affect the ability to concentrate as well as the ability to defer gratification. But anyone who suggests that these things, while probably beneficial in moderation, may be harming boys in the aggregate gets run out of town on a rail.

I strongly contest the validity of this assertion. I have zero scholarly articles to back my position, but I very much doubt you have any either. I think this is one of those things "everybody knows", like "giving kids sugar makes them hyperactive". I personally know a great many programmers. And the vast majority of them use the Internet, are surrounded by the latest electronic devices (with a market penetration far exceeding the general populace), and most regularly play video games. The latter being the primary reason most got into the computer science field in the first place. To say that their ability to concentrate and defer gratification has been affected (negatively) is either to imply that these programmers represent the greatest waste of potential known to man (just imagine what they could have achieved if only they had not been exposed to all those electronics and had instead gone into mechanical engineering!), or that some people are immune to the effect.

Now, I will grant, if the hypothesis IS correct, then the closest thing I can attribute to why they're still able to concentrate for long periods of time on extremely detail oriented work (and anyone who tells you programming is otherwise is lying) must lie in some compensating factor. Perhaps the "aspergers" explaination (as over-used as it seems to be) means that the social ineptitude of these highly bright and motivated men and women blocks or allows them to ignore the negative impacts of the electronics.

Or it's just bunk. Which is what I'm betting on.

Posted by: MikeD at July 24, 2012 09:03 AM

They say you can translate an SAT or GRE score to an IQ with some confidence.

I did one of those SAT to IQ conversions and it came in reasonably close, as I recall.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 24, 2012 02:38 PM

Grim - So, in other words, the media pretty much lied to make an innocuous finding sensational? Who woulda thought? Every researcher should be wary when reporting their findings to the media. Journalistic deception is rife today, unfortunately. It's about sensationalism and controversy, not objective truth. But you didn't need me to tell you that! Thank you for providing title of the actual study.

Most of the data for the past three decades of IQ research finds no (or miniscule) mean IQ differences between men and women, with more males appearing at both the left and right tails of the distribution. I have never seen a study that has convinced me that there is a significant mean IQ difference. Flynn is saying that there are no (or meager) differences in mean IQ, and discounts any notion genetic influence on IQ differences between the sexes. What he is saying is nothing new when it comes to sex differences. The only problem I can see with these data (and this was pointed out to me by an expert) is that Raven's is often standardized on convenience samples, not stratified random samples, so it's hard to conclude that it's representative.

The only thing I've actually learned from the news reports is that the journalists writing these articles would probably score very low on an IQ test.

Multi-tasking? Just what is that? How does it increase iQ scores? (there is no multi-tasking involved in IQ testing).

Of course, there is no reason "multi-tasking," whatever the heck that is, would increase IQ scores, and Flynn never said anything about it. It was the dumb journalist who interpreted Flynn's comments regarding "complexity of the modern world" as "multi-tasking." Keep in mind, doing a job and raising a family is NOT multitasking, unless on is raising their family AT THE SAME MOMENT TIME as doing their job. *sigh*

Posted by: Patricia at July 26, 2012 02:06 AM

Opps, a few typos.

Correction: "unless one* is raising their family AT THE SAME MOMENT IN* TIME as doing their job"

Posted by: Patricia at July 26, 2012 02:09 AM

Even minuscule differences can have large effects society-wide. But I agree with you that most of the noise about multi-tasking is a way of saying IQ isn't that important, because it doesn't accomplish this, that, or the other important task. It doesn't make you a good dancer, you can't play drums.

Height alone won't make you good at basketball, but height matters. I find the statistical impact of IQ convincing in many walks of life, from marital status to income to criminal activity. That's not to say that there aren't any smart people who are unmarried, poor, and in jail, but that's the difference between statistical relevance and absolute determinance.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 26, 2012 09:41 AM

The two biggest reminders I give people about stats:

Correlation != Causation

There was this statistics student who, when driving his car, would always accelerate hard before coming to any junction, whizz straight over it , then slow down again once he'd got over it. One day, he took a passenger, who was understandably unnerved by his driving style, and asked him why he went so fast over junctions. The statistics student replied, "Well, statistically speaking, you are far more likely to have an accident at a junction, so I just make sure that I spend less time there."

Statistical Significance != Practically Important

Three professors (a physicist, a chemist, and a statistician) are called in to see their dean. Just as they arrive the dean is called out of his office, leaving the three professors there. The professors see with alarm that there is a fire in the wastebasket.
The physicist says, "I know what to do! We must cool down the materials until their temperature is lower than the ignition temperature and then the fire will go out."

The chemist says, "No! No! I know what to do! We must cut off the supply of oxygen so that the fire will go out due to lack of one of the reactants." While the physicist and chemist debate what course to take, they both are alarmed to see the statistician running around the room starting other fires. They both scream, "What are you doing?" To which the statistician replies, "Trying to get an adequate sample size."

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 26, 2012 11:25 AM

Texan99, it depends if those small differences are statistically significant and not the result of randomness. A point or two difference, with an SD of, say, 14 for one group and 15 for the other, is not that meaningful. Various studies find both male and female advantages on mean scores on different IQ tests, so it has been generally concluded the the sexes have the same mean IQ. What's important is the fact that more males are at the tails of the distribution. More males are mentally challenged than females, but there are also twice as many males than females with an IQ above 155, for example, and there are even more males the higher you go. That seems more significant than tiny differences in mean IQ.

Posted by: Patricia at July 26, 2012 03:12 PM

Grim - So, in other words, the media pretty much lied to make an innocuous finding sensational? Who woulda thought?

To be honest, I was assuming they just didn't understand the math.

Posted by: Grim at July 26, 2012 04:49 PM

I think it's just another example of junk journalism all too prevalent today. I don't doubt that they didn't really understand what Flynn was talking about, but the articles make reference to "multi-tasking" and the ridiculous declaration of "higher potential intelligence" just now "realizing itself" as Flynn's explanations. It is pure fabrication. It shows because one really doesn't learn much about the actual study from the media reports, or what Flynn was really trying to show.

Posted by: Patricia at July 26, 2012 05:08 PM

Patricia,

Didn't James Flynn basically come out against the media reports? If I remember, he said the difference between males and females in those few countries on Ravens (between ages 14 - 18) is only a fraction of a point (and in varying directions). He attributes this small difference (if it is real) to temperament in test tasking, not anything to do with multitasking or modernity or whatever. He basically concludes that men and women are equal in intelligence in the general population (both set at 100). So yeah, huge failure on the part of the news.

Posted by: Stacy at August 29, 2012 07:39 PM

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