Survey of Expert Opinion on Intelligence: Causes of International Differences in Cognitive Ability

Discussion in 'The Cesspool' started by Phill, Mar 27, 2016.


What do you think is causing racial/national differences in cognitive ability tests?

  1. Culture and Environment only

  2. Genes only

    0 vote(s)
  3. Mostly Culture and Environment

  4. Mostly Genes

  5. Genes and Culture/Environment

  6. Unsure

    0 vote(s)
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  1. Phill Banned Banned

    Front. Psychol., 23 March 2016

    What do you think is causing racial/national differences in cognitive ability tests?
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  5. Phill Banned Banned

    Thanks for your response. Can you add some evidence for that?
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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Genetics for native intelligence.
    Add in diet as the child develops.
    and, then
    Cultural environment.
    and then
    A predilection for test taking.
    Somewhere in here we should consider native curiosity.

    Bear in mind that your cited tests do not directly measure cognitive ability.
    They only measure cognitive ability as measured by the tests.
    So we end up playing a percentage game.

    Books and no few dissertations have been written on the subject.
    (There ain't no easy answers)

    You might benefit from looking into the civil service exams of the song dynasty.
  8. Phill Banned Banned

    How are you defining "native intelligence"? I'm well aware of various books and papers on the subject, thanks. Are you trying to make the point that the Chinese civil service exams selected for genetic intelligence? Just asking because you seem to be mentioning them as if I'd never heard of them, and I'm genuinely unsure what your point is.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Native intelligence = primarily what you were born with.
    Which, I consider most likely: Somewhat influenced by poorly understood epigenetics.
    The development of that native ability comes in fits and starts. Whose timing may also be somewhat governed by genetics or epigenetics.
    Then, for development, we look into if that timing somewhat matches educational opportunity, or comes at alternate times.

    The Song(etc.) test measured the knowledge of the classics.
    They were an early effort at creating a meritocracy based on testing for ability to learn the classics in the chosen language of the empire.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  10. Phill Banned Banned

    Are you basing this on data or just guessing? The definition of heritability, or how much of the variation is due to genetics, is "what you were born with", no?

    Edit: I see you added
    so you would expect educational intervention to have an effect? The real question is how much of an effect I think. Do you have any sources that looked at it? I'm really not sure where epigentics comes into this, can you explain?
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  11. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    I suspect that this thread is really an excuse to present a racist position.

    Get over it, white boy.
  12. Phill Banned Banned

    So you've decided a priori that there are no racial difference in genetic cognitive abilities because of the word "racist" (as yet undefined)? That's pretty far from a scientific argument.
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  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    The problem with epigenetics:
    Is that it is difficult to measure. And that there were/is much dismissal of it's existence and effects.
    "Genetic learning" and "epi-genetic learning" was/were looked into with few positive/high correlational results.

    I suspect that there exist confusion about the interplay of proto-learning and deutero-learning, most likely somewhat rewards based.
    But then we get into the concept "rewards". Are they external or internal, and/or what percentages of each at any given time, and variance of those percentages over time, and are the variances constrained within a band, and does the band width change over time and/or experience?

    I would expect that "formal" educational intervention would have a greater impact on the ability to test for cognitive ability rather than on the cognitive ability it's self.

    Somewhere in here we need to break open the set "cognitive ability" and look at it's components.
    If the set "cognitive ability" contained a basket with every letter of the alphabet, and we looked into the baskets of different individuals, we would most likely not see any with all of the letters, and different individuals would have different collections of letters, and different quantities.

    How does one test for that?

    Genetics most likely just represents the upper limit of cognitive ability. (the letters in the basket that you were born with)

    Then, we get into personality.
    And, the difference between being bright, and being intelligent(as determined by iq tests)

    So many variables.....................................
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  14. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    If there are inherited differences in cognitive abilities, would that not then follow to ancestors, genetic material, and then to race?

    By inherited cognitive abilities I specifically mean as described above-------re/baskets.
  15. Phill Banned Banned

    I've really no idea what this is about, it seems pretty vague, kind of "big science words" arranged with little meaning. Unless you can reference your claims here I cannot see their relevance.

    You mean it could train people to pass the test? You do know that most cognitive tests are largely immune to training right? Which tests are you thinking about here? You should also consider whether interventions have a persistent or temporary effect. And how does adoption grab you as an intervention? Do you have any data on these points? It's usually better than guessing stuff.

    Definitely. I think they tend to use the WAIS. Of course IQ is not stable in children.

    The main justification of IQ is the general factor of intelligence, derived from the fact the subtest scores tend to be highly correlated. So no we do not see this.

    The genetic portion of heritability indicates maximum potential under the best conditions. Of course it represents genetic potential under actual conditions. But the question is what is the genetic portion of heritability between races and nations?

    Let's stick with intelligence, measured by IQ. I think we'll have to agree on that first.
  16. Phill Banned Banned

    It doesn't matter whether you think of cognitive ability as a general factor or as "baskets" for this question. And to answer your question, yes. Ancestors, race and inherited genetic material are really the same kind of thing. Race can be defined by ancestry or genetic similarity, which in practice are largely the same thing.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Diseases and environmental neurotoxins (such as the lead that afflicts inner city black children in the US) are not distributed randomly with regard to race, religion, or ethnicity, in this world.

    Sociological factors including induced stress and other oppressions are known to affect measured intelligence substantially (there's a study floating around, well done and published, that implies a 4 - 8 point difference in measured IQ of young black American men between situations in which they do or do not know they are taking an IQ test. No such difference is measured in young white men.)
    They are normally - in practice - defined by skin color modified by some associated physiological features, as perceived by a particular society. Usually the ancestry is unknown to the labeler, and genetic similarity is never even considered.

    The genetic range of what US society labels racially "black" people is greater than the difference between those white people and any other race, for example. If race were defined by genetic similarity, and we wanted to define the currently "white" people as a genetic race, we would have maybe a dozen races on this planet, and most of them would be what we currently call "black" people. There would be, probably, more races in Africa alone than over the rest of the planet combined. This is common in large organisms with wide dispersal ranges - the home range (Mexico for pine trees, central Asia for apples and rhododendrons) features the greatest genetic diversity.

    So that's another complicating factor, and yet more reason to doubt - or more likely just discard - any current evidence linking IQ scores of a population to any supposed "genetic" factor of that population. So the estimates of genetic influence on intelligence are going to be theoretical, more or less well informed guesswork. It's hard to imagine that genetics plays no significant role, and populations are gene pools to some extent - humans do outbreed, but often not that distantly - so there's probably something to be discovered along those lines. But who knows what it will prove to be?
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
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  18. Phill Banned Banned

    It would help if you could show how they are distributed. Do rural Black American children in for example Georgia have higher IQs? "There is some lead it's that" is not a credible line of reasoning. How about higher lead levels in Hong Kong, where is the low IQ? Can you show us IQs rising as lead decreases? Adoption studies and measured blood lead levels. Like some actual solid reasoning and data.

    Stereotype threat? Can you reference that study?

    Tang 2005 found about a 99% correspondance between genetic race and self identified race.

    I saw one source that identified higher genetic diversity as a myth. What's your source? Hopefully it has some data rather than second hand assertions. And ok, let's say Africans are many races and non-Africans are another single race, which breaks down into subraces - so what? Does this eliminate national/racial differences which need to be explained?

    I think there are better lines of argument than you are presenting here. I can perhaps try to represent some.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    No, it wouldn't. It doesn't make any difference how they are distributed, as long as the distribution is not random over the defined populations. Are you going to claim that - for example - childhood lead exposure is randomly distributed over the sociological races, or the genetic populations, or any relevant category, in the US?
    There is no such thing as a genetically defined race of human beings, as far as I know. All the genetic identification of "race" in use these days is based on correlating certain genetic markers with prior sociologically identified racial category or a geographical proxy thereof - so a 99% correlation of self-identified race with some of those markers is a 99% self-identification of one's sociologically identified race. That's not surprising. People generally know what race other people think they belong to, and that's how the genetic markers were assigned in the first place.
    The immediate memory is of a big wheel graph published in Scientific American - which was of course second hand, a compilation or overview of the conventional understanding at the time. But there's all kinds of stuff - here's another, 5 second netsearch (I was looking for the wheel graph) :

    btw: Note the word "probably" in my post: my argument does not depend on the African races outnumbering all the others, or even the black races outnumbering the non-black (which is a no-brainer, think of the SE Asia/Pacific Islander populations), merely that several sociologically unidentified races must exist in any genetically based racial classification scheme that hands us the US standard sociological "white" race as a genetically defined - not identified, defined - race.
    Let's say what I said, which would be more reasonable: that Africans are several genetic races and so are non-Africans (because that's the only way to end up with a "white" genetic race that doesn't have sociologically non-white people in it). Of course that eliminates nothing - it just means you have to be careful, when attributing population traits to genetic influence, to accurately classify your genetic populations. They are not going to correspond to your sociological races, or ethnicities, or religions, automatically. Any such correspondence has to be carefully demonstrated.

    And that goes a long way toward explaining the current uncertainty - to the point of uselessness - in the identification of genetic causes for population differences in measured cognitive ability.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  20. Bells Staff Member

    Mod Note

    The so called experts that the so called study contacted to complete the survey are simply people who have advocated a difference based on race and intelligence. From your link:

    Notice of the study was emailed to experts who published articles on or after 2010 in journals on intelligence, cognitive abilities, and student achievement. The journals included Intelligence, Cognitive Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, New Ideas in Psychology, and Learning and Individual Differences. Notice of the study was also emailed to members of the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR), and posted to the web site for the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID). ISIR and ISSID support intelligence research and host professional conferences with intelligence researchers. Finally, the study was announced at the 2013 ISIR conference in Melbourne, Australia. A total of 1345 people received an email invitation. An expert was defined as a person who had published on cognitive ability or who had attended intelligence conferences and presented research. Compared to Snyderman and Rothman (1988, pp. 46–49), our selection criteria were based more on publications in specific scientific journals and less on membership in scientific organizations. In addition, we used email and a web-based survey rather than traditional mail and paper-pencil surveys.

    We received a total of 265 responses from May 2013 to March 2014, at which time the survey was closed. The response rate was 20% of all invitations. The present article focused on cross-national differences and concerned questions toward the end of the survey. These questions were answered by 71 respondents. By comparison, there were 1020 invitations and 661 participants (65%) in the Snyderman and Rothman study.

    Each of the "experts" who belong to these groups read like a member list of a white power conference. They surveyed those who believe just like they do. There was no 'outside' expert surveyed.

    In short, the "science" behind these studies and its history has been debunked more times than one can count and the history of this kind of research has often been the basis to support racial segregation.

    It would explain why this particular "study" can only be found on websites that support racism and racial segregation. Sites such as American Renaissance, who publish many such racist and bigoted 'papers' that promote racism and racial segregation.

    It is also why this study and others like it, never appear in actual science journals. It is shoddy science. No, shoddy is too nice a word. It is bunk science.

    Now, Phill, I notice that you have been posting this thread on various other forums, from legitimate science sub-forums, to right wing and frankly racist forums like "st0rmfront".

    Your belief that race matters in this instance is, frankly, wrong.

    It is important to remember that many environmental factors affect intelligence either favourably or adversely97,98. Prenatal environment affects intelligence, and premature birth can impair it. In a metaanalysis of 212 studies of intelligence, Devlin et al.8 showed that although heritability was high (around 48%), fetal environment accounted for 20% of the correlation of intelligence between identical twins and for 5% of the correlation between non-twin siblings that shared the same womb consecutively. Maternal drug or alcohol use, or exposure to environmental toxins such as lead, can also adversely affect the achieved intelligence of offspring (see studies cited in REF. 89). The duration of breastfeeding during infancy has been associated with higher IQ in a group of more than 2,000 children assessed at age six99. However, this association has been disputed, as it is confounded by maternal age, intelligence and education, as well as by smoking during pregnancy. After adjusting for these confounding factors, breastfeeding during infancy is still associated with enhanced childhood cognitive development (by 2–5 IQ points for full-term infants and 8 points for those of low birth weight)100.

    After birth, the environment in which a child is raised also affects their intellectual function. Bouchard et al.83 found that growing up in the same family increased IQ similarities for all types of relatives. Individual’s IQs were more highly correlated with those of their monozygotic twins, non-twin siblings and parents (0.86, 0.47 and 0.42, respectively) if they grew up with them. The strength of the correlations decreased if individuals were raised separately from these relatives (0.72, 0.24 and 0.22). Adopted children’s IQs are also correlated with those of their adoptive siblings (0.34) and adoptive parents (0.19). So 20–35% of the observed population differences in IQ are thought to be due to differences between family environments. Intriguingly, the influence of shared family environments on IQ dissipates once children leave home — between adult adoptive relatives, there is a correlation of IQ of –0.01 (REF. 101). Environmental influences on IQ that persist are thought to be those experiences that an individual does not share with others. Interpreted broadly, these include the biochemical environment in the womb, and the multitude of random events in human life that are difficult to quantify or control. In a recent study of 320 pairs of twins born in the 1960s and given IQ tests at age seven, Turkheimer et al.102 found that environmental factors have a much greater influence on childhood IQ in impoverished families relative to those in families of higher socioeconomic status. The heritability of IQ at the low end of the wealth spectrum was just 0.10. By contrast, it was 0.72 for more wealthy families, indicating that nature is more significant than nurture when socioeconomic status is high, while the reverse is true when socioeconomic status is low. That the genetic contribution to intelligence differs in different environments is a caveat against general inferences based on heritability data.

    Inherited intelligence plays a much smaller part and frankly, comparing between races is incorrect. The reason it is wrong is because the groups that are tested are never matched in that they are unequal in parental education, health, nutrition, how often they are tested and pre and post natal environment, from what drugs or medications the biological parents consumed prior to and during pregnancy, to breastfeeding and duration the test subjects were breastfed, to where they live and their socio-economic status within their given communities, to how the test subjects grew up.

    How can I put this as bluntly as I can?

    We aren't interested. In other words, you don't get to peddle biased research that has no real foundation in science here.
  21. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    It is the epitome of P.C. insanity to claim that cognitive abilities have no genetic component.

    It is also somewhat short sighted to assume that we have the ability to test for the entire range of cognitive abilities.
    Which does not mean that the tests have no merit.

    Back to the contents of my baskets(se above). One person may test at IQ 143, and have no language nor musical ability. Another may have ready facility in learning other languages and be able to pick up music, play and sing easily(in key and with rhythm) while scoring in the 130s. Can we really proclaim that the 143 is smarter than the 130s fellow?
    Another may be dyslexic, and score poorly in iq tests while having superior problem solving abilities.
    I once knew a woman"genius" who was excaliber on given IQ tests, but was incapable of independent decision making when multiple variables were presented. (maybe it was a self esteem issue--see personality above)

    There is a myriad diversity in cognitive abilities,(my above was for 26 variables) and any given test may only have the capacity to accurately test 2-3-4-5 or 6 of those abilities.
    Then, we have the decision of how much weight to give to the(any) test under discussion.

    The very nature of the test leads to testing bias.
    ergo; my caveat: that "formal" educational intervention would have a greater impact on the ability to test for(be tested for) cognitive ability rather than on the cognitive ability it's self.
    It is not that people are being trained to pass the test, but rather that the training(education) creates a means of testing the assimilation of the given "knowledge".

    And, some of us just test well without us being significantly more intelligent than those who test poorly(personality again?).

    (There ain't no easy answers)
    And, those who seek the easy answers will most likely score poorly on any test that measures one of those nominal 26 measures.

    Don't get me wrong, I was always proud of my high scores.

    Long ago(1st wife time) I was at a Columbus day celebration and someone gave me a button that said "I'm proud to be Italian". A friend commented: "But, you're nor Italian". I responded: "I know, but everybody needs to be proud of something".

    Appreciate the tests for what they are, but don't expect them to be what they are not.
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  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Richard Feynman's IQ was measured at 123.

    So anyone here who is trying to sort the human races by "cognitive ability" based on IQ tests, and whose IQ is higher than that, we expect superior cognitive abilities from you than were possessed by the subject of this biography:

    Either that, or certain factors need your attention, in the sorting protocol.
  23. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    I'll chime in, damn it.

    First, Bells, thanks for that!

    Phill, to begin:

    As well, we need to bin the data geographically, with annotations for things like Zika, lead, mercury or arsenic levels, iron deficiency in the local diet, insular or cosmopolitan society, and so much more.

    Provide a decent dataset and I'll bet some programmers can debunk or support whatever it is you're trying to sell. We could do heat maps for all the variables, in all the vaguely-defined locations you gave as study areas, and have a look at it in R, for instance.

    Or do you just want to keep gigging people for answering you?
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