What is intelligence

Marius Johnston (mariusj@NETCOM.COM)
Sat, 29 Oct 1994 23:56:11 -0700

Date: Sat, 29 Oct 1994 20:57:24 +0000
Sender: General Anthropology Bulletin Board <ANTHRO-
Subject: What is intelligence? It's not IQ
To: Multiple recipients of list ANTHRO-L

\It seems to me that once again, spiralling around this particular debate ad
\nauseam, that we are once again dancing around the real issues of the
\race-intelligence "debate."

This is probably true, although I suspect not for the reasons indicated.

\Now that D. Read has set us straight on "what is race?" question (and given
\us the proper answer: "nothing useful for our research.")

\The real followup question, as asked, is "what is intelligence?" and it
\deserves an answer. And yes, in answering this, I believe it can further
\all kinds of research, whether scientific or humanistic.

\1. We can say what it is not. It is not IQ.

Frankly I don't see how you can say this. You are bucking years, no decades
and more or research in other disciplines that, as Murray and Herrnstein
point out, indicate (Spearman), and define what IQ is. That is to say what
the correlates are. You are, to say it crudely, pissing up wind. There are
thousands of pages in multiple journals about human differences.
Experimental psychology was founded on that notion (JND). Intelligence is
only one aspect of "difference" investigated

/It does not strike me as
/politically incorrect or humanistically invalid, but simply contrary to
/reason and evidence (and the data of cognitive neuroscience) that we could
/encapsulate all human cognitive abilities into one quantitative index
/variable, e.g. "IQ," say that this represents sufficiently and completely
/your "intelligence" and furthermore your ability to succeed academically
/and economically, as Murray does.

Why do you find this so onerous? The correlations are there. What other
measurement do you recommend?

/IQ may or may not be heritable;

This has been demonstrated. For example the twins study by Univ. of Minn.
psychologist Thomas Bouchard. He studied 100 sets of middle aged twins
who had been raised apart. When measured for IQ the twins measured .7.
Roughly speaking the genetic factors accounted for 70% of the variation in
IQ. This is not unique.

/it probably does make some predictions
/about your academic performance because it does measure such things as
/logic and test-taking ability; it is not the accurate measure of a person's
/total intelligence. Thus, even if "IQ" is heritable, this says nothing with
/regard to "intelligence."

It seems to, though, on the average.

/2. If intelligence can be said to BE anything, it is a multiplicity of
/cognitive abilities, many of which are unfortunately not measured on the IQ
/test. Some of these cognitive abilities may be heritable and others may be
/acquired. I am afraid that cognition/intelligence is based on a lot more
/than speed of neural processing.

Here you are changing the argument from traditional measures of "g" to
Jensen's experiments on reaction time and movement time. This type of
assessment avoids both cultural bias and motivation. Again it is a matter of

/My handheld Newton does thousands more
/calculations per second than I do; but unlike me, it cannot recognize my
/handwriting. Or, for that matter, write a prayer.

This is a strange disconnect.. My car can "run" faster than I can, so what!

Marius Johnston