Aug 6, 2022·edited Aug 6, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

Measurement of intelligence is a difficult matter. Ignore cultural biases and you will get wildly differing results from people of comparable intelligence. Work too hard to eliminate bias and you will get an IQ of 100 for everyone.

The single metric is just wrong. There need to be at least six distinct metrics. I can't remember them all and Google is hopeless, returning results on intelligence in the espionage sense. A few:

* mathematical ability

* spatial visualization

* language acquisition

* athletic ability

I score high on some, dismally on others.

One big problem is the extent to which intelligence skills have been exercised. I can do arithmetic in my head very well and any time I was stuck at a stoplight I would factor the six-digit number on the license plate in front of me into its prime factors so I got a lot of practice. OTOH I don't have a lot of athletic skill and in high school it took me the entire basketball season to be able to reliably shoot a basket and then the season was over.

3D is an interesting one because it's purely intelligence; we have been out of trees too long for thinking in 3D to be hard-wired. Parrots would score 500 on a 3D test, cats would score 500 on athletic IQ.

It's been a long time since I took an actual intelligence test but I remember being told I am not a genius but a lot closer to genius than to average. So what. Tensors mystify me though they are just one layer of abstraction atop math I know pretty well.

There is no evidence that black people are dumber than white people, but African cultures tend to include a lot more discursive (storytelling) tradition than logical and this inhibits the intellectual skills that lead to high scores on IQ tests. A lot of tests are based on recognition of patterns; a series of numbers, what is the next in the series? Not everyone thinks about numbers.

"The Bell Curve" was a deeply biased book; SJ Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man" is a much better text. Murray set out to show that black people are dumb and his predetermined conclusion drove his analysis.

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"Murray set out to show that black people are dumb and his predetermined conclusion drove his analysis"

Funny, I was just saying something very similar in a conversation on Medium. I think there are a number of propositions that Murray wants to defend, that black people are dumb is one of them, and then, yes, he's built his analysis around arriving at that conclusion. In an interview with Coleman Hughes he admits (though I think accidentally) that his motivation for his new book is proving that racial disparities are not due to racism.

I think you've nailed the whole IQ issue here. I don't think IQ is meaningless, but as you say, there are certain intellectual skills that lead to high IQ scores. This is quite different to saying that people who haven't developed those skills aren't intelligent. Or even that people who have developed those skills *are* intelligent.

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Why thank you. I think it's exactly akin to exercise. Whatever one's athletic potential to never use it means that one will not score well.

I think the multiple metrics point is very important and I wonder why it is so rarely discussed.

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Thanks for the book suggestion. I just bought the Kindle book. I'm a believer in looking at both sides of a coin. "The Bell Curve" seemed like proper scholarship but my thoughts on intelligence as a bundle of attributes left me with questions and doubts.

I've got lots to do and I spend a great deal of time reading when I should be doing them. Right now, go back to sleep. I should know better than you take a "quick" look at email when I wake up to pee ;0)

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I'm only 19% thru "The Mismeasure of Man" (lots of stuff on my plate) but something that leaps off the page is how presumably intelligent people can unconsciously err in ways that confirm their existing notions. Not purposeful fraud, but blindness to their own data selections and ignoring things that would be obvious to a child once mentioned. Astounding. Something to examine in myself. I'm really glad that you mentioned this book.

The critique of "The Bell Curve" is an addition at the end. I look forward to something other than a knee-jerk "He's a racist" when I get there. As well written and comprehensible as that book was, my largest doubt was that something as complex as the diversity of human aptitudes can be crunched into a single number for ranking without bias, even if you honestly try. When you have an IQ well above average it is enticing to believe that it is more important than it is. "I'm smart" confirmation.

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I wrote about something like this a few weeks ago; when one grows up a lot smarter and more knowledgable then everyone else one gets used to being right, and others wrong, almost all the time. My humbling has been gradual but even now I bristle when challenged, Just today I was telling some vegan that cats will go blind on a diet of vegetable protein he came back with "you're wrong," nothing more, I told him to google taurine and later he conceded. But that bland denial ticked me off.

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It is amazing that so many people don't know what herbivore, omnivore and obligate carnivore mean. How can any cat owner not know that cats are obligate carnivores?

Years ago, I worked with a bunch of pranksters - serious pranks that would get you fired today. One of my over-the-top pranks got me paid back with my motorcycle on the roof. That was a good one. Nobody helped me get it down, I deserved that.

We had a guy with a MENSA coffee cup, proud of his IQ. Someone stuck a hose up his tailpipe and funneled a quart of motor oil into his muffler. When he left at the end of the day, he got about a quarter mile, and it looked like he was spraying for bugs. He pulled over and raised the hood. Engine running smoothly and no oil leaks in the engine compartment. The perpetrator followed him to make sure he didn't go to an auto repair shop and get ripped off. The next day was without mercy. "What was up with your car yesterday, GENIUS?" Anyone there other than Mr. MENSA would have said, "Which one of you assholes..." He never figured it out. IQ isn't everything. A really good prank, I wasn't the prankster.

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"How can any cat owner not know that cats are obligate carnivores?"

Dogs are omnivorous but of course they can live on meat; most cats never eat anything else and their food is so loaded with protein that it will shorten a dog's life, to say nothing of ours. Cats make their own vitamin C, for example.

A few months ago I gave my torties a can of tuna. The next time I opened a can they came running over; they had only heard the opening sound once and that was several seconds before they had their first tuna. They remembered.

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Aug 6, 2022·edited Aug 6, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

So let me clear my throat and say I deeply, deeply neither wish nor suspect that Murray is remotely right. My suspicion is that the genetic roots of what we call “intelligence” are multi-layered and ultimately overpowered by cultural factors anyway.

That said, the crude categories of “race” (erroneous as they are) are not just arbitrarily based on skin color. A Cherokee, a Filipino, an Ethiopian, and an Afghani person could all have the exact same shade of skin and hair but we consider them 4 different “races.” To the extent that “race” has any meaning whatsoever, it is on the basis of how far back a group of people share a common genetic ancestor. Members of subpopulations that reproduced in isolation from other groups developed common genetic traits, like skin color but also muscle mass, hair texture, etc, that had evolutionary advantages for their shared circumstances. It seems like wishful thinking to assume that all of these traits could be fine-tuned within a sun population but brain function would remain exactly the same in all mankind. But I’m wishing it anyway. Goodness knows the subpopulations have been mixing and matching quite a bit over the past few hundred years, and any genetic differences are starting to blur to the point that I agree with Scott and Ebo- differences within populations likely outweigh most between them.

Regardless I do very much believe that even the idea of IQ is rooted in a European cultural view and there’s no way to debias it. I certainly, fervently disagree with Murray in his conclusion to not just throw up his hands and say “the differences are genetic, there’s nothing left to be done!” but also say “it’s important to disseminate this idea so that wokeism will stop destroying America.” He is so, so wrong, and I appreciated Coleman Hughes interview that challenged him on this directly.

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" A Cherokee, a Filipino, an Ethiopian, and an Afghani person could all have the exact same shade of skin and hair but we consider them 4 different 'races.'"

Hmmm, if only that were true!😅 I think this is a theory of race that might begin to be approximately meaningful (although still not very useful). But I think the vast majority of people's understanding of race is far less nuanced.

Blacks, Whites, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics. I don't think most people's understanding of "race" gets any more sophisticated than this. And it's judged almost entirely by taking a look at the colour of people's skin. Show most people someone from Kenya, someone from Sierra Leone, someone from Zimbabwe and someone from Jamaica, and they'll say they're the same "race."

I agree that it would be wishful thinking to claim there are no genetic factors to intelligence. And I don't mind not wishing it. If somebody finds definitive proof tomorrow that people with black skin have lower IQs on average than any other group, that's fine. I'd be no less intelligent than I was the day before. As I've said many times, if we'd decided as a species that hair colour, or dominant hand, or number of folds in the ear, were important, we'd find differences by these metrics too. We've become fixated on skin colour because it's such an easily detectable difference. But that doesn't make it more meaningful genetically speaking.

But as I say in the article, let's assume it's true. Let's assumee that black people have lower IQs than everybody else. The questions are a) is IQ more important than the many other aspects of person, like social skill, determination, confidence, etc. B) what is intelligence? And can it be measured by a few questions on an IQ test? And c) what policy decisions could we make on the basis of this finding that should be applied by "race" instead of by IQ score regardless of race. Why not just test everybody at 5 years old, and place them on a life-path based on their score?

Lewis Terman, one of the pioneers of IQ research, who very much believed in racial differences, performed the longest-running studies on IQ ever, and found that no, IQ doesn't equal success at all. His predictions for the study turned out to be completely wrong because human beings are far more complex than the results of a single test can capture. And that's before we even talk about the issues with IQ itself like the Flynn effect.

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Thanks for the reply, Steve. I agree with everything you say except the claim that it’s skin color and skin color alone that we use to classify people into races. We also use eye shape, facial features, and hair texture as clues to try to guess what a persons genetic roots are. The reason we put a Jamaican (presumably a descendant of slaves there), Zimbabwean, and Sierra Leone-ian(?) in the same bucket is they all can trace their ancestry to sub-Saharan Africa. Yet people from Ethiopia do tend to have lighter shades of skin than those from Kenya, just like some people from India have much darker skin than people from Japan despite our silly, shared racial categorization of “Asian”. (“Hispanic” is technically considered an ethnicity, not a race, by the US Government, which makes a smidge of sense as Spaniards are extremely similar to French and Italians, genetically speaking. But most people we think of as “Hispanic” are a genetic mix of Spanish or Portuguese colonizers and Indigenous populations in Central and South America. Again, silliness!!!!!) Anyway long story short, I still think skin color is one of the biggest clues we use to racialize someone else, but it’s not the only one, because we’re attempting to bucketize their genetic (and cultural) roots, not their shade of brown.

Adding this, because it’s neat: https://www.grida.no/resources/7125

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Aug 7, 2022·edited Aug 7, 2022Author

"I agree with everything you say except the claim that it’s skin color and skin color alone that we use to classify people into races. "

I didn't quite say that though. I said it's judged "almost entirely" on the colour of a person's skin. Which is true. Case in point, there is enormous diversity in eye shape amongst people we'd all label "white." We just don't really notice it because the "primary" differentiator of skin is similar enough.

Look at Steve Buscemi's eyes vs Benedict Cumberbatch's vs Matthew Mcconaughey's. Do we differentiate between them racially? Nope. In the overwhelming majority of cases we don't. Secondary characteristics like eye shape might be used on the rare occasions where skin colour isn't definitive (hair texture only in the case of black people really, you could shave everybody bald and it wouldn't make a difference to their "racial" categorisation). But again, I think you're significantly overestimating the nuance with which most people think about race.

And further, bucketising (great word) all people from sub-saharan Africa makes no more sense than bucketising Russians and Chinese people together. Or even Mongolians and Chinese people. I chose those countries in Africa because they're separated by enormous distances. Yet people still think that one "race" covers them all.

The primary thing those people have in common is ancestry from a part of the world hot enough that darker skin was evolutionarily advantageous. As you say, there is variation here too, because the amount of melanin required for the conditions varied. But if what you say about secondary characteristics were true, nobody would think I was the same "race" as somebody from Kenya. Or Uganda. Because our facial features are actually quite different. Same, as you say, for Asians. Although even the differences between Filipinos and Koreans, for example, are significant.

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The frequency of the "Where are you from" that Asians get casts a bit of tension on skin color differentiation. My fairest skinned daughter got more of that than the darker one because momma's eyes are more pronounced with her.

More often hypersexualized as "exotic" than the black women shaking their ass on tic-Tok, you might be underestimating the influence of eye shape. And it can be a curse as many Asian women will testify.

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"The frequency of the "Where are you from" that Asians get casts a bit of tension on skin color differentiation."

Yeah, but I think they're asking about national origin here. Not whether somebody is of the "Asian" race. I get asked where I'm from quite often too. But I don't think it's because they're wondering if I'm black.

Mixed "race" people are, I hope, the ultimate end to all this stupidity. Once we're all mixed together enough that we're really forced to grapple with the fact that nobody is simply "white" or "black" anymore, because we're obviously a mixture of all of them, maybe (hopefully) the whole concept just fades away.

Many of us are mixtures already of course. But it's not visually obvious enough to make a difference. Genetically, this whole issue has been settled for years.

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"𝘠𝘦𝘢𝘩, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺'𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦. 𝘕𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 "𝘈𝘴𝘪𝘢𝘯" 𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘦."

Yeah, nobody is asking about "Asian race", they've already decided that. "Where are you from?" is the perpetual, "You are a foreigner", even if you are a 3rd generation Americans or longer. When the reply is "Florida" there is an instant "That's not what I meant."

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I commented to Chris about other appearance characteristics than skin tone before I saw this. I the case of my wife (dark skinned), that meant less than hair, eyes, cheekbones, etc. in identifying tribal kin.

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"It seems like wishful thinking to assume that all of these traits could be fine-tuned within a sun population but brain function would remain exactly the same in all mankind."

Thank you for breaching this delicacy. I've wondered about this more than half my life.

The characteristics of a population represent equilibria established by selection pressures. Notions of race focus too much on melanin content; melanin levels represent an equilibrium between two primary factors both bases on ultraviolet light:

1) protection from melanoma, favoring more melanin

2) promotion of ergosterol to vitamin D, favoring less

Equatorial people have no shortage of UV and so have no ssues with vitamin D; polar people are in little danger of melanoma but need UV for nutritional health.

Malaria affects equilibria in many characteristics; sickle cell anemia kills a quarter of those with two alleles yet malaria would kill them all; with SCA the blood cells burst open before the parasites are mature. Favism (allergy to fava beans) confers malarial immunity.

But these are physical characteristics. Selection pressure for intelligence is cultural. It's only weakly advantageous to a society of hunter-gatherers. It's a lot more advantageous now.

Much though I detest Murray's foregone conclusions, it does seem a little absurd to presume that cultures as different as tropical aboriginals and urban Europeans would experience identical selection pressures for intelligence.

But now the selection pressures are based mostly on pretty. SF writer CM Kornbluth wrote two short stories ("The Marching Morons" and "The Little Black Bag") in which the world of the future if populated with a tiny minority of hyper-intelligent people and a majority with IQs around 45 on our modern scale.

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A Bell Curve has that shape with random data. Anything that creates a bias creates a deviation from the nominal which changes the shape of the curve. If the bias created a new value with a different nominal value and its own sharp standard deviation the curve would have two peaks with one likely to be greater than the other.

It's been years since I read that book, but I think they observed that. The question then becomes, what caused that bias? They did a bunch of controlling for various factors deemed to isolate the cause of the bias to be average IQ for the mean values of the "races" being compared. It looked good. That is standard stuff in methodology, but the question remains, were there factors they did not control? With something as complex as humans and all influences, no doubt they didn't control all biases that lead to a result other than innate "race" attributes, so the question becomes a matter of their significance.

A larger issue in my mind is, is there a single aggerate value for intelligence that is a valid concept? A savant might not be able to tie their shoes but be able to do some "thing" at a level beyond the capability of an IQ genius. Scaled back toward norms there are certainly people with lower IQs than me who I would hire to perform tasks that they have expertise in that I don't. Smarter about what? If the test itself has a bias to favor a certain group, a comparison of the groups is bogus, even if it could mean something valid if unbiased. In my opinion it probably doesn't.

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Smart people tend to prefer the company of other smart people and some cultures revere intelligence a lot more than others. When smart people have children with other smart people those children will be smarter still. Over centuries this leads to cultures where average intelligence is higher than global averages. Ashkenazi Jews have made a strongly disproportionate contribution to the intellectual arts and sho' 'nuff, intelligence and achievement are revered in that culture.

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It is irrelevant whether every Black person has 170 IQ, except one who has a 95 IQ. Don't ask Mr. 95 to design the space shuttle b/c his group has a high IQ. Individuals matter; so screw all this racist cacadoodoo about which race is on average this or that. People are individuals so treat each individual as an individual.

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This tendency has gone out of control and needs to be reined in. Yes on the one hand no two people are exactly alike, not even identical twins, but n the other hand we have vastly more in common than we have differences.

One of the more frustrating things in our politics is the grotesque emphasis on individuality while in reality people strive to conform as hard as they can.

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People are individuals and they should be treated as such and not according to the statistics of some group to which they have been assigned. Being an individual, however, does not mean "Me, Myself, and I, and Screw Everyone Else," which is the current conservative interpretation

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In American culture the individual is eternally at war with community and inextricably intertwined with selfishness. The two are out of balance.

Yet paradoxically individualism has become as intertwined with tribal membership; each passing decade defines the self more as part of as selected tribe. Race is but one of these.

These intertwinings are corruptions.

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The declaration of independence and the Preamble to the Constitution made clear that each individual has inalienable rights and that cooperation via the government is the mechanism to realize Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. The fact that many people trash individual rights in favor of group rights does not alter the Declaration or the Preamble. Nor, does the fact that many people believe that no cooperation with others required for there to be an context for individual rights to exist negate the need to cooperate. We have reached the point where the Left is at war with individual rights and the Right is at war with cooperation. That polarization is a formula for national destruction, but neither the Left nor the Right gives a damn about that -- the only thing either the other extreme wants is to vanguish the other

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"the Left is at war with individual rights"

Where do you get this nonsense?

Flowery words in documents centuries old mean little in a world where truth itself has lost value. These documents are interpreted however people want and bad people take the greater liberties.

How is "the left" at war with individual rights? Is it they seeking to ban books or are you talking about private ownership of military weapons?

I am a communitarian. I adhere to neither ideology but see the right of citizens to lead reasonably stable and predictable lives as more important than stirring phrases from times as close to the middle ages as to the present day.

The coin whose obverse is freedom has responsibility as its reverse. We love to prattle about the one and are enraged at the other.

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"Where do you get this nonsense?"

This is not helpful. Alternatives include:

Why do you think this? What are you basing this on? I disagree. Literally anything that isn't needlessly antagonistic. I'm getting tired of tone-policing you Chris. I'm sure you're getting tired of me doing it too.

I know you can manage polite discourse, even when you disagree. You manage it with me and Dave and a few others here on a regular basis. The tone and atmosphere here is extremely important to the overall quality of conversation. Please, *please* bear that in mind as you comment. You can't say I haven't asked you numerous times.

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The leaders of the "left" and "right" give us emotional 3rd rail confrontations to have us at each other's throats so that we won't come for them with torches and pitchforks. The issues can be real, so their tactic works quite well.

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my exhibit #A "Flowery words in documents centuries old mean little in a world where truth itself has lost value" If they have lost value it is because people like you do not value them.

I have too many things to do right now to write more

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When I read "The Bell Curve" it seemed to have been well thought out and to proper statistical standards, but I have questions and observations about intelligence tests. I have taken them and done well enough, but I've observed that some areas of the test would be helped by education (including the type of education) and the types of experience you have.

My wife, as a child the barefoot little girl on a water buffalo in a rice paddy from old postcard pictures has minimal education and I have no doubt that she would score much lower than me on these tests. Having lived with her for fifty-two years I have no doubt that she is far more intelligent than the test would indicate. We have different aptitudes which supply different outlooks for problem solving. Depending upon the task, sometimes it would be best to listen to her, or let her perform the task. Important factors: genetically inherited tendencies (yes, I'm saying genetics matter), the cultural zeitgeist that we lived in during our formative years, the things we focused on growing up, education (in what?) and cultural bias in what is being measured.

Does my above average capability in abstract reasoning, spatial relations and mechanical problem-solving ability make me more intelligent than someone with less ability in those areas but better capability in other areas? I don't think so, though that may make me more suited for some tasks or careers. And of course, I've done my share of stupid things for someone assumed to be smart enough to have not done them. The average of the various things being measured, weighted against each other in ways unknown to me might be very biased for obtaining a resultant score, and also tell you less than you think about intelligence (for doing what?).

The other issue is the one relating to the subject title of this, "Correlation to Causation" and if there is a cause-and-effect relationship, do we know which is the cause?

DNA. One of my daughters became interested in DNA. Hers says that the is genetically Eurasian, a 50/50 mix of her parents DNA. Looking at her, she got her mother's melanin but not much of the epicanthic fold of her eyes. Her children got grandma's eyes, but not the melanin. That is all appearance which doesn't tell you much. There is a very interesting thing relating to "race." My daughter and granddaughter are good at math, but here's the thing. My granddaughter mentioned the idea that her math ability has to do with her being "oriental". She was not aware that she is not the flavor of oriental that the stereotype is about (East Asians). She believed that she was genetically destined to be good at math, leaving me to wonder if the positive expectation gave her a boost?

That leads to a question, does racial stereotypical expectation have a causal relationship to IQ? Just my opinion without proof, I think it does, which makes racist assumptions especially poisonous. This is the important issue that all that I wrote leads to. Can "racial" expectations harm (in achievement) those that negative ones are aimed at beyond having their feelings hurt? Not only do I suspect that, I think that the people for push those views not only think so, but they do it with bad intentions to hold a group down.

If there is an intelligence differential between "races" that is important (Is there? Is it?), it is essential that we shine a light on racist expectation and put an end to it.

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"Depending upon the task, sometimes it would be best to listen to her, or let her perform the task. Important factors: genetically inherited tendencies (yes, I'm saying genetics matter)"

I don't dispute the genetics matter, genetics are responsible for a great many things about s. Although the role of genetics in intelligence is a tough one to tease apart. But I'm not at all convinced that there is such a thing as a "genetically inherited tendency," with regards intelligence or problem solving. Wouldn't any similarities here be infinitely more likely to be environmental?

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I didn't say that genetics are most important but I do think it a factor. Please understand that it was not a reference to "race" but something closer to us in our family tree.

Examples would be things like tendencies toward alcoholism even when not raised by the alcoholic parent. Can it be overcome? Yes. Not all of the children and grandchildren of alcoholics become alcoholics, but it seems that the is a disproportionate number of them.

With my frequent reference to life experience I would hope that my opinion of the importance of environmental influence would be visible and clear.

Nature/nurture/environment is a chicken or the egg first question. In Murray's books he claimed to control variables so the only variable not equalized was race and he presented the numbers. As I've said, it "looked good" as in legitimate scholarship and some criticism of his work is probably spawned from not liking his results which clouds the issue. I've started reading "The Mismeasure of Man" where the focus is on the problem with a flawed methodology (factual methods). I am hoping to find a studied analysis of his methods which is more useful than a knee-jerk, "He's a racist" for dispelling notions of intelligence being shackled to "race."

I gave an example of possible expectation for "good at math orientals" from someone genetically linked to a subset (Southeast Asians) who get ranked as low IQ where belief may have been an influence. A positive one in this case, but where I expressed concern about negative influence of such things. My personal disdain for ideas about race based intelligence is something that is not a proof. It just makes it personal.

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I'm not advocate of political correctness but "oriental" has been deprecated more than for any other reason because it sounds like "ornamental." Yer me pal and I'm not trying to shape your speech but yours is the first use of this word for Asians I've encountered in a quarter century (I'm not clear why we call them "Asians" even when their ancestors came to the USA in the 1840s to build railroads ... nine generations later they still speak Toisan at home).

I had forgotten the extent to which Gould's book is a rebuttal to Murray's. I read it a long time ago. Patience. It gets better. Gould was brilliant, pity he isn't still with us, he died at 61 looking quite elderly.

In the USA we went to visit some friends of my partner. Saturday night and the kids, grade and middle school, are all at the dining room table studying. Not at the mall, not on the computer. And not being forced. Here in Vietnam high school ("secondary" here) goes through integral calculus. But a lot of them leave early to work for their families or start drinking beer.

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Ralphie May, may he rest in peace, was able to use humor like is no longer acceptable to go to the heart of the matter. Not PC, but his routine fits right here.


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I just saw this in a Medium comment: "𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘉𝘠 𝘍𝘈𝘙 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘣𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘕𝘰𝘯-𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘴𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯 (𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘦, 𝘑𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘦, 𝘝𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘦, 𝘦𝘵𝘤). 𝘞𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘣𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘏𝘪𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘤 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘳𝘥."

The "𝗡𝗼𝗻-𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗔𝘀𝗶𝗮𝗻" jumped out at me. That's what my wife is thinking of when she says "oriental", and I suspect that it is what most people are thinking of when they think of Asians, including me. I retired from a corporation that was big on globalization. Factory to Malasia, software to India, joint venture with China. I worked with many people from India and early in the globalization I was a mentor. I never thought of them as Asians and never have heard anyone refer to the Indians as Asians. Cultural quirks can be meaningful but if you are a non-immigrant, you are more vanilla American than an ethnicity.

The reason the whole thing jumped out at me is birds of a feather often flock together and many/most of my friends match the quoted statement. Black men with white women and white men with non-Indian Asian women. I've never seen fit to discuss it with any of them since it had nothing to do with my choice. It was her, not where I found her. I assume the same for my friends.

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Indians are ususally distinguished as “south Asians.” I’ve found working with them to often be a real challenge.

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I actually changed Asian to oriental as I wrote that, with purpose. My wife uses that word. When she first heard DWO (Driving While Oriental) she laughed as hard as she did the day that she discovered The Three Stooges slapstick comedy. I think it is her way of differentiating the round hair follicled, high cheek boned, epicanthic fold eyes subset of the Asian grouping (appearance) from those who don't have that look. When she first came to America, she looked for people who looked like her. They didn't have to be Thai or dark in what she called the land of the blue eyed blond, it was all in a specific set of observable features. I think it is also a distinction in the minds of many Americans when they think of "Asians" which is the word I normally use. "Oriental" served my purpose in that it led to this thought.

As a side note, my daughters, born in the USA, heard lots of "Where are you from?" coming up. Asians have been in America for a long time but are probably subjected to an attitude of foreignness to a greater extent than any other ethnic tribe.

We have friends (Vietnamese) who have 3rd generation in America children who speak English with a hint of a Vietnamese accent because they seem more resistant to giving up the mother tongue that other immigrant groups. My wife chatters away on the phone in Thai with her Thai friends daily. They all can speak English.

When we adopted my wife's niece after her mother (wife's half-sister) was brutally beaten to death in a drunken brawl we brought her to America at the age of 10 with no English. I gave her an ABC Elmo doll to play with on the plane since they don't share our alphabet. She got together with neighborhood friends who "looked like her" (Filipina and Chinese) to study after she reached functional communication level English. And yes, people in countries ranked as lower IQ have plenty of smart high achievers. Another reason to dampen ideas of race-based intelligence.

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Alcoholism is genetic. Without the gene(s) anyone can have an alcohol problem but can recover from it without the syndrome.

Important point: the gene attenuates over time. The Chinese have had alcohol for 5000 years and almost no alcoholics. Societies most recently introduced to alcohol e.g. native Americans have very high levels.

Alcoholics have fewer kids.

My family has no alcoholics; we don't have the gene and nobody married into it. I started to realize growing up how lucky I am for that, seeing kids with belt-buckle scars because daddy likes his whiskey too much.

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The role of environment is distantly second to the role of heredity in intelligence. Average people never bear genius children.

But behavior genetics is some seriously weird stuff. The predilection to putting sugar in coffee is not transmitted to offspring, but the predilection to putting sugar in tea IS.

I am not making this up.

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We see the same picture (that genetic differences might exist, but are tiny, and cultural differences can be significant in IQ outcome) but draw different lessons from this.

I agree stereotyped expectations can be poisonous. But they can also be empowering if we determine (which we have not yet) certain groups differ because of their internal culture. Such a thing can be changed within one generation (as your family shows).

The idea that is poisonous is that the differences are genetically driven, since this cannot be altered.

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