Re: What is intelligence?

Mon, 31 Oct 1994 01:44:50 +0000

>\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.

Marius, just so we know we are starting on the right footing, do tell me
whose conclusions you DO support. i.e. a) Rushton's or b) Murray and
Herrnstein's. I admit I would not have as much trouble with B) as with A).

>\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.

Yes. And these disciplines (psychology, etc.) often lack the two things
that anthropologists often try to bring to them (often with little
success): a cross-cultural perspective and the ethnographic method, which
goes beyond statistical testing to examining cognition IN PRACTICE (e.g.
Lave, etc.)

>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).

Wrong. Experimental psychology was based on the idea that we could measure
COGNITION, not "intelligence". Many cognitive neuroscientists would agree
that cognition can be measured, but many such as Howard Gardner feel that
it is based on multiple "modular" functions of the human mind, and thus
MULTIVARIATE, rather than reducible to a single index variable.

> Intelligence is
>only one aspect of "difference" investigated.

On this, we are agreed. People do differ in intelligence and we can make
attempts to measure this variation; however, it has not been proven that IQ
captures the full range of this variation.

>/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?

Of all people, I think Patrick Buchanan (let this be the first and last
time I cite him) had the best refutation of the idea that IQ (or
intelligence) is the sole or major determinant of economic and academic
success: he pointed out that certain things such as hard work (effort) and
perseverance play a role in economic success. Oh yeah - luck also. Seen
Forrest Gump lately?
I did not say that IQ was not a useful measure. But it does not
measure intelligence (cognition) in toto. And many studies HAVE disproven
correlations with economic success WHEN socioeconomic variables are
controlled for.

>/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.

Maybe IQ is heritable, then, but so what, my point below.

>/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.

DATA, please?

If you believe that IQ effectively captures mathematical ability, logical
reasoning, spatial mapping, pattern recognition, creativity, risk and goal
assessment, linguistic competence, social skills, self-reflection, and most
importantly situational knowledge, etc. all of which are (IMHO) part of
what most people call "intelligence," then please try and convince me WHY a
single variable can describe what in all likelihood involves multiple brain
functions and probably lots of stuff going on outside ZE BRAIN.

>/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

Please clarify. Which avoids bias and motivation (?) And what's a matter of
correlation? "G" or reaction time with IQ?

>/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!

It's not. Traditional measures of IQ are based on the notion that the brain
basically utilizes a "CPU" of sorts and centralizes all its processing.
(180 IQ = 586DX, basically.) But, if as Marvin Minsky and Howard Gardner
suggests, neural processing is decentralized and based on the functions of
different neural "modules" which then attempt to coordinate their output,
we can see why a multivariate model might be more appropriate for measuring
this. Computing is moving toward parallel processing and neural networks to
act more like the human brain; funny that human brains still want to think
of human brains in terms of old 50s style mainframes.

Gosh, I wanna post CyberAnthropology all over again.

>Marius Johnston


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