Home of the Muppet Imperial Moderator Corps

IQ- culturally biased?

In an earlier thread someone threw out, unchallenged, the assertion that IQ is meaningless because it is culturally and gender biased. I am the first to admit that an IQ test cannot be perfect but I am aware of studies that show that it does correlate with success in certain activities that most of us agree would require intelligence. The assertion of cultural bias seems to me always to be based on assuming one's conclusion, i.e. different groups of people cannot have different average intelligences therefore any test that shows they do must be biased. I don't find that satisfactory.

So the questions are:
1) Do you believe that people have different levels of intelligence?
2) If not is intellectual achievment based entirely on motivation and education?
3) If you believe that people have different levels of intelligence, do you believe that IQ test can measure it, even in a coarse way?
4) Do you believe it is possible that different ethnic groups have different distributions of intelligence and/or other abilities.
5) Are you scared that if you answer honestly that you will be shunned by decent society?
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
Ever since Howard Gardner, we can't even decide whether or not here is one type of intelligence or not, let alone cultural intelligences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
1) Yes.
2) Intelligence and intellectual achievement are only loosely coupled.
3) The IQ test measures your ability to solve problems in a limited domain, but isn't really a measure of "intelligence".
4) It wouldn't surprise me, but what the distribution is I couldn't say; generalisations like "people of African descent make better athletes" are true to a certain extent, but whether it's down to innate genetic characteristics, cultural factors, chance, or a combination of the three is left as an exercise for the reader...
5) Yes. (Well, not so much afraid -- as has been amply demonstrated in the recent past I'm not shy about opinionating -- more just not wanting to get sucked into another pointless argument about how I'm evil, prejudiced, or what have you.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
I wouldn't say you're evil, Mat, just sort of a twat.
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
IQ is a one dimensional measure. What else would you call something that generates a single score?
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
You and your value judgements! It's all a bit "do as I say, not as I do" with you, isn't it?

(And hey, if I'm a twat, you are what you eat...)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
There was a case put by the biologist Stephen Jones. The story goes that a particular country with a number of ethnic groups did a survey and found that one ethnic group showed a markedly lower IQ than a comparable one. The government set about targeting educational resources to the lower IQ group and within 10 years they had achieved parity in the tests.

The two groups in question were english-speaking white South Africans and the Afikanners. I'll let you work out which was which.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 12th, 2005
> type of intelligence

Even the most cursory definition of intelligence includes two distinct meanings: knowledge (c.f. "military intelligence"), similar to data size (RAM and/or disk); and processing power, similar to software algorithms and CPU speed.

> If not is intellectual achievment based entirely on motivation and education

And if it weren't? You seem to be asking whether intelligence varies by genetics, by race (not asking whether it varies by culture).

Clearly the amount of knowledge one exhibits is affected by one's environment (education, i.e. nurture and not just nature). Even processing power, ability, is affected by education ... perhaps especially during pre-school years.

It's also affected by genetics ... I love them but I haven't yet met a dog who would do well on an I.Q. test. As for wisdom, well that's another story.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 12th, 2005
Common IQ tests result in a scalar. I believe intelligence to be a vector. The common IQ tests tend to return one component of that vector, when it is likely more appropriate to return the magnitude of the vector, if only a single number is desired.

That said, I do believe that some people are actually more intelligent than others, and that the cause is a combination of many different factors, ranging from genetics to culture to nutrition to desire to immediate social group to opportunity to physical injuries to who-knows-what.

And I generally think that most of "decent" society is irrelevant to me.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 12th, 2005
Only human beings would try to measure something so entirely subjective and immeasurable.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
"Only human beings would try to measure something so entirely subjective and immeasurable"

That's kind of a null statement, as only human beings have the ability to measure it. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
I'll take that as a compliment.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 12th, 2005
0) Is IQ culturally biased?
Yes.

1) Do you believe that people have different levels of intelligence?
Yes.

2) If not is intellectual achievement based entirely on motivation and education?
No. You are confusing talent with skill. Talent being ability/ease of learning (think of it as a slope of a line, increasing as you move to the right), and skill be accumulated learning. Sample: my sister and father have a musical talent I would love to have, they pick up an instrument, practice for a couple weeks and sound like they've been playing for years. I, however, lack talent with musical instruments, so I can practice for years and sound like I've been playing for weeks. Motivation will keep me practising, even though I suck.

3) If you believe that people have different levels of intelligence, do you believe that IQ test can measure it, even in a coarse way?
There are a number of different axes of "intelligence." Standard IQ tests tend to only measure 2 or 3 of the 7 or so different axes. Our culture doesn't value physical "intelligence" (the one dancers and athletes have more than you or I) so our IQ tests don't measure it at all. Our culture pretends to value music, but none of our IQ tests measure musical intelligence.

4) Do you believe it is possible that different ethnic groups have different distributions of intelligence and/or other abilities.
Different cultures value different things. Our country does not value education or learning (although it pretends to value them). Our culture is turning into one that rejects knowledge and values loyalty to the group rather than to truth or country: just look at the unintelligent design crusade perpetrated by the religious fanatics, and look at the attacks on academia.

5) Are you scared that if you answer honestly that you will be shunned by decent society?
No. William Shockley, the founder of Silicon Valley (most of his employees quit to *start* companies with names like Intel, Fairchild and National Semiconductor) is the one who finally buried IQ testing. It was he who permanently and irrevocably linked IQ testing with racism and eugenics.

Here is a sample question from one of the first IQ tests:
An indian sees a man enter town. The indian says "He walks sitting down!" What is the man doing?
Permalink Peter 
August 12th, 2005
Peter -

I hardly think that the fact that an early IQ test contained a question with racist overtones makes or proves the practice of IQ testing racist.

Try again.
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
I didn't throw it out, I stated it.

Going off and digging out the paper references to cultural bias and IQ tests would be tedious so I'll do the regular 21st century thing and let Google do it for me.

http://www.wilderdom.com/personality/intelligenceCulturalBias.html


(Whoof Ponting gone first ball after tea)
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
There's a nice BBC documentary making the rounds, Stupidity.

As I vaguely recall (I was watching it with friends and not taking it very seriously), IQ tests were there just to determine how mentally handicapped people were. Then something dumb happened, and now everyone's using it to measure brain-penis sizes and whatnot. Uselessly.

There was even this pity-inducing response to me on a Lisp newsgroup, stating that the "consensus" was that Einstein's IQ was above 160. Now, Einstein apparently never lowered himself to taking some bunk IQ test, so in response certain windbags go around consensing on celebrity IQs.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
August 12th, 2005
I've got a mental block on the Psychologist that pushed IQ tests so hard in the 60's, so hard that he said on the Frost Report that those with less than average results should be steralised.

It sounds like Eyesink but I can't remember the spelling. He tortured by proxy most British schoolchildren through the latter half of the 50's, 60's and 70's and was the direct cause of the failure of British Education during those decades (rather than the trendy lefty teachers beloved of tabloids).
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
H. J. Eysenck

http://freespace.virgin.net/darrin.evans/
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
That's the bastard.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
"Then something dumb happened, and now everyone's using it to measure brain-penis sizes and whatnot. Uselessly."

Any time something is dumbed down to a single number, that's what happens.

It was an odd day when I realized that CPU speed and RAM were the geek's CC's of displacement and torque.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
> I haven't yet met a dog who would do well on an I.Q. test

... not that I've ever tried to educate a dog to pass I.Q. tests.

In chapter 14 of _The Education of Koko_, the author says that "at age five-and-one-half, she [Koko the gorilla] had about the mental age of a human child of 4 years 8 months". The results were based on various kinds of test. The author also said that Koko showed astonishing ability wth the Ravens Progressive Matrices (the book illustrates two of the questions which Koko was said to have answered almost immediately, and which I find difficult).
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 12th, 2005
"Any time something is dumbed down to a single number, that's what happens."

42
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 12th, 2005
The fact that someone suggested sterilizing stupid people is irrelevant to the accuracy of IQ tests.

Why is the indian question racist in overtone? Are we not allowed to mention "indians"? Is the complaint that he is not referred to as "native American" (another Eurocentric appellation by the way)? Is it that an indian is using a literary device?
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
I think that Peter's intended implication is that the indian is portrayed as ignorant.
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
I listened to a Noam Chomsky lecture on something other than politics for a change, and learned his somewhat bizarre theories on language, many of which I disagree with, at least, based on the half hour lecture.

He claims it's impossible for Koko to speak to us, and that any language her trainers thinks she understands are projections and wishful thinking.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
Eysenck wasn't advocating stupid people being sterilised he was advocating that people below a particular score on his IQ tests (he formulated a great many of them in the 60's).

Given the cultural and to some extent educational bias of the tests you end up not with sterilising those that may be less intelligent (bad though that is on its own), but those that are of different, and in the British context quite specific, cultural groups to the ones setting the questions.

Now what does that remind you of?
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
I wrote a research paper on Koko and Washoe years ago and came across Chomsky's views on the subject; he sounded like he really didn't *want* to believe that any animal other than humans could possibly have any sort of language ability, and even if a chimp actually spoke to him in plain English he'd have claimed it was some sort of trick...
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
> any language her trainers thinks she understands are projections and wishful thinking

Is that true of communications with 4-year-old humans too? :-)
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 12th, 2005
Simon-

I'm not sure I buy the argument on that page. I agree it is possible to create a test that middle class people would do less well on then poor people but that doesn't mean that IQ tests are culturaly biased. Obviously one must have reasonable facility with the language the test was written in . The exampl,e IQ questions on the Australian/American test are diffucult to accept given that the source is listed as unknown. Also, I recoginze one of the questions and it is not from an IQ test. Is is from a mental status test that attempts tell if someone is insane.

I have also read that intelligence tests do have predictive power. The US army has been using them for years and they have cutoffs below which they will not accept recruits. Much is made of the fact that blacks do as well in the military as whites. I have read one source that claims this is because the army admits people of both races with the same IQ.

I have also read that in the US blacks and whites with similar aptitude test scores (not exactly the same) have very similar average incomes.

Even if the tests are culturally biased, doesn't the fact that they predict success mean they have some validity?
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
Chomsky always did have a somewhat skewed notion of language performance that affected his transformational grammar development the main flaw in which is performance, it really doesn't describe how we formulate entirely ungrammatical yet perfectly understandable verbal language.

In the end he did a very good job on describing how grammars grow and how meaning can be transformed through deep structure and the transformational calculus. The problem is that that describes only language not its usage. Combining semiotics with linguistic grammar analysis is a much broader and more rewarding avenue.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
Simon:

I don't know who that reminds me of. I am against forced sterilization in general and don't really see the point of eugenics.

I also don't buy the argument that NAZIs believed X therefore believing anything which someone might use as evidence for X is wrong.

Hitler like architecture and dogs after all.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
Mat - that sounds about right.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
All I know is people who study lingustics & semiotics do really cool shit in their spare time. Chomsky, Umberto Eco, and one other guy who I'm forgetting right now.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
1) Define 'intelligence'. I definitely think that some people 'get' things and other people do not.
2) Achievement or intellectual achievement? There are certainly stupid people in positions of authority.....
3) In a coarse way. You could measure much better if not for the variation in how some people are more apt at 'tests' while others are not.
4) If you think intelligence is at all a function of genetics and that you are not simply a product of your environment than you would have to think this, right?
5) Screw society. Most of them are stupid. :)
Permalink I am Jack's infinite id 
August 12th, 2005
Any text-based or visual-based test (I could say ANY test) is going to have some cultural bias about it.

Even the vocabulary and concepts are going to assume SOME range of cultures. I suppose you could try to minimize the bias, by pre-testing across a few different cultures, but there's still going to be bias.

You could still use it to evaluate people within cultures -- but for a multi-cultural place like the U.S. it could become problematic.
Permalink AllanL5 
August 12th, 2005
There's about a third of the questions on a standard IQ test that involve discovering words made up of two others, either by using the two roots in combination or the prefix and suffixes or similar.

A proportion of those questions have more complicated words and some depend on homonyms. In English not all words that for some would be homonyms are for others, and that's just not Afro-Caribbeans but Yorkshire and Lancashire dialect for example or Geordie. Similarly, different groups will see words differently and produce different words which may or may not be standard English.

Another third of the questions cover spatial awareness, the symbols used may appear to be context free but for some cultures circles and squares have greater or lesser importance and may affect the way that the question is read or what they're expected to do.

Overall, many of the questions in the way that they are worded expect from the person taking the test that they understand the stilted and specialised language used. This is still true in the questions used in our SATs papers for KS2.

Finally, you can learn how to take IQ tests and from a standing start improve your score steadily. In the 60's and 70's there were a whole series of Penguin books, many by Eysenck, that encouraged people to take IQ tests and increase their score and by implication increase their intelligence.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
I wish I could say I did cool stuff :-)
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
Then it is impossible to ever develop a test that compare intelligence between different groups?

Okay then, how about the predictive value of a test of future economic success in a given society, surely there is value there? I mean if I knew that my cultural background was going to prevent me from making money and living comfortably I think, rather than stand on principle, I would take steps to adapt.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
As usual, muppet couldn't get a clue if you hit him with it.

Bill Shockley was the one offering rewards for sterilizing people with IQs below 100: $1,000 per point below 100.

If you want to read more about the links between Shockley, racism and eugenics you could read:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1568582587/
or
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1878465031/
The first book goes into the history of eugenics in the US, and documents more than a few cases where people were sterilized just because they were poor, sexually active or black. You cannot discuss eugenics without getting racism and nazis thrown into your face: because those groups are the prime motivators for eugenics.

The question from the first IQ test isn't put forth as a sample of racism. It was put forth as an example of the cultural dependence of the questions in most IQ tests. The correct answer to that question is "riding a bicycle" Both "riding on a horse" and "riding in a horseless carriage" were the incorrect answers (they weren't commonly called automobiles or cars at the time the first IQ tests were devised).
Permalink Peter 
August 12th, 2005
So you feel that ability to be financially successful is a metric of 'pure' intelligence?
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
"how about the predictive value of a test of future economic success in a given society"

Sure, if only. But as has been pointed out, such a test does not exist.

I think your premise is incorrect. IF a particular racial group tested low in such a test, and THEN they "took corrective actions", wouldn't that now muddy the "predictive results" of your test? Because now you'd have a particular racial group having economic success in your given society. It would be the result of "corrective actions", but so what? You now can no longer predict future success based on the group.

Everybody wants to know what they should do that would guarantee future economic success. Lots of books have been written about behaviors, habits, disciplines, and actions to take to "guarantee" economic success.

I guess my conclusion is that LOTS of people can gain enough skills to have a full-time job, and support themselves and their families. Isn't that economic success? And their IQ (however measured, however biased) is NOT a requirement for continued employment.

So, people are different. Not better and worse, just different. Each does their job in a slightly different way, and that's OK. There doesn't NEED to be a moral judgement about people's IQ.
Permalink AllanL5 
August 12th, 2005
<<Then it is impossible to ever develop a test that compare intelligence between different groups?>>


-write two tests, each one culturally biased for each culture.
-have each culture write both tests.


this method gets more accurate the more tests/cultures you add - develop a co-efficient that represents how biased a particular test is by referencing how other cultures did on this test...
Permalink Kenny 
August 12th, 2005
And the result is what? Another number.

It isn't just that IQ tests are culturally biased there's no reason that they measure anything effectively.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
Allan,

I'm not sure my premise is incorrect. If the difference is innate intelligence then one can't really take corrective action. If it is just cultural as SImon contends, then corrective action is possible.

And IQ tests do seem to predict economic success. There is a huge difference between "guarantee" and "predict". Higher IQ individuals tend to make more money than lower IQ individuals. This is not an absolute linear relationship. A person with a 130 IQ is not guaranteed to make more money than someone with a 100 IQ but if you average the incomes of the two groups, the 130 average income will be higher.

I have not seen the numbers on really high IQ. I suspect the effect trails off.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
Umm, unless you have an awful lot of data where people with 130 IQs have greater earning capacity than others then I'd be dubious. After all its isn't that common to take IQ tests anymore.

Someone's reported IQ is always fishy, I can't imagine a Marketing department letting loose with our CEO has an IQ of 110 even though its a reasonably respectable score given the limitations of the IQ test. But on the other hand I can quite see a Marketing department making up a score to get a story.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
The test is not only biased culturally but its not even clear that its testing something called 'intelligence' or even anything very useful in itself.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 12th, 2005
+++And IQ tests do seem to predict economic success.+++

You're assuming that economic success is a universally strived for goal, and you're wrong.
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
Nothing is universally strived for. Economic success, though, is so widely strived for that I feel pretty comfortable using it in the example. I'm not saying everyone wants to be a millionaire but almost everyone would accept being a millionaire if it didn't require too much effort. I dare hazard a guess that if you took a poll of kids from all economic backgrounds and asked them if they would prefer to make more money or less money, you'd get a good 95% wanting to make more.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
+++I dare hazard a guess that if you took a poll of kids from all economic backgrounds and asked them if they would prefer to make more money or less money, you'd get a good 95% wanting to make more.+++

Why do you need to limit your poll to kids? Do you feel you'll get a more favorable/predictable result in line with your ideas?
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
Simon-

I agree about the need for careful study. I am pretty sure that that "Bell Curve" author (much reviled in the media) did research on precisely that. I have also read second hand reports that the military has given intelligence tests for decades and continues to rely on them because of their great predictive value.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
1) Do you believe that people have different levels of intelligence?

Yes - even the guys who came up with IQ acknowledged that - they made a conscious decision NOT to include creativity in the IQ measurement, for example, and worked to eliminate that from the score.

2) If not is intellectual achievment based entirely on motivation and education?

No.

3) If you believe that people have different levels of intelligence, do you believe that IQ test can measure it, even in a coarse way?

Sure.

4) Do you believe it is possible that different ethnic groups have different distributions of intelligence and/or other abilities.

Yes, different distributions. And when made more fine grained than usual. "Asians", "Blacks", "Whites" is too coarse to be meaningful. For example, Chinese from Hong Kong have pretty high IQs, but peasants from the rural areas have lower IQs. Nutrition probably plays a role here as does education and so forth.

5) Are you scared that if you answer honestly that you will be shunned by decent society?

I am already shunned!
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 12th, 2005
Kids don't make any money. They haven't paid any bills in their life. They're the least likely to answer that question the way you want it answered. Though they're the most likely to be susceptible to being manipulated into answering it the way you want if asked properly. "Money is good. You can use it to buy more things. Do you want more money?" "Money is nice, but it can't buy happiness or friendship. Do want more money?"
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
Well you're right Mark you could lie to the poor kids and influence them that way. Money can of course by both happiness AND friendship. With money you can buy a penis extension which almost guarantees both.
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
Google agrees with you.

http://images.google.com/images?q=how+to+spot+a+rich+guy

I like how the first hit is a 500 pixel "thumb."
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
I don't want it answered that way. I predict they will answer it that way. I'm not talking about two-year-olds. They don't make life-course altering decisions. I'm talking about pre-teens. That's the age when kids separate into the ones who listen in class and those that don't. If you don't think they appreciate the advantages of making a good living, you are wrong.

You also imply that money can prevent friends and happiness and that also isn't true.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
Yes because pre-teen children are the people you go to when you want wise, considered answers to philosophical questions.
Permalink muppet 
August 12th, 2005
1. A two year old's brain is developing more rapidly than a "pre teen."

2. Pre-teen's don't even have an allowance. They don't "make money" as you put it.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
What do you think the answer would be if you asked kids if they'd rather have money or be happy?

They're smarter than we think/remember.
Permalink I am Jack's infinite id 
August 12th, 2005
Given this topic, wouldn't "Would you rather have money, or be smart?" be the right question?

In which case, my guess would be it depends on what they were raised to value.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
Both?
Permalink Rick Tang 
August 12th, 2005
"I'd rather be rich than stupid."

- Jack Handey
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 12th, 2005
" As usual, muppet couldn't get a clue if you hit him with it."

Yeah, peter, and your presentation is always correct, clear and non-misleading.
Permalink Rick Tang 
August 12th, 2005
OK, I'll continue the answer for somebody else trend: Rick, leave Peter alone, muppet has CLEARLY shown he can defend himself.
Permalink AllanL5 
August 12th, 2005
Of course, I am implying that I agree with muppet's assessment and think Peter's presentation there is misleading and unclear.

And of course, I know at this point of my life that almost nobody understand my 'implications' in my words so who can I blame other than myself?
Permalink Rick Tang 
August 12th, 2005
Not sure about culturally biased, but high IQ people seem to be too bored.

# International High IQ Society - 95th percentile, or SD16 IQ of 126
# Mensa International - 98th percentile, or SD16 IQ of 133
# Intertel - 99th percentile
# Triple Nine Society - 99.9th percentile, or SD16 IQ of 150
# Prometheus Society - 99.997th percentile, or SD16 IQ of 164
# Mega Society - 99.9999th percentile, or SD16 IQ of 178
Permalink Rick Tang 
August 12th, 2005
You'd have thought that being composed entirely from the "smartest people" in the world they'd manage to produce a website that didn't suck, but apparently that sort of intelligence isn't related to IQ... :)

http://www.megasociety.net/
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
http://www.eskimo.com/~miyaguch/titan.html

How is that, one of the recognised entry tests for those MegaSociety fools, fair? The "verbal analogies" section has a number of general knowledge components -- I don't see that knowing who Bertrand Russell was is a sign of *intelligence*, and it's the kind of thing that might show up on a highbrow pub quiz.

Some of the analogies are blindingly obvious (assuming you have the requisite knowledge), one or two are annoying me (including the Bertrand Russell one -- I *know* the guy's name, but I'm having trouble recalling it), a couple seem like there could possibly be more than one "correct" answer, and some of them have me totally stumped.

I've only glanced at the remaining questions, but they seem just as biased; if you have a good grounding in maths they're significantly easier than if you had to derive the solutions from raw reasoning -- one or two of them I already know the answer for, or at least the "correct" method of working out the answer, but that's not down to intelligence, it's down to background.

On the whole, as a test to filter out the "one in a million" eggheads it seems far too biased culturally in the sense that your educational background is at least as important as your actual intelligence, if not *more* important. The whole thing smacks of trying to weed out people based on socioeconomic factors to push some sort of elitist agenda...

Oh, and I just remembered the name of the guy in the Russell question. I was worried it was going to keep me awake all night. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 12th, 2005
I think I qualify for Mensa. I know a guy who's in Mensa... ex hippie, used to follow around the Grateful Dead. He tells me that Mensa parties are unimaginably boring.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 12th, 2005
I know this thread is probably dead but I have to ask; what does a pre-teen not having an allowance have to do with whether or not he would prefer to be an adult who made a good living or one who works most of his life at ahard, humiliating job he hates for barely enough money to live in America?

As for not trusting pre-teens wisdom, that isn't the point. If the only thing standing between them and a life of easy luxury is adapting to the dominant culture I think a lot of them would.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 12th, 2005
"one who works most of his life at ahard, humiliating job he hates for barely enough money to live in America?"

Who the fuck said that? Stop changing your argument. You were better off sticking to your original question "ask them if they would prefer to make more money or less money, you'd get a good 95% wanting to make more."

You're actually weakening your position by making it look like you have to spin/change your original question in order to get them to comply.

Reference:
http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?off.9.182673#discussTopic183008
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 13th, 2005
You just as easily ask would someone intelligent would prefer to work for 14 hours a day for shit loads of money or for 5 hours a day at a job with crap pay but lots of personal satisfaction?

On the other hand perhaps asking loaded questions doesn't help.

Personally I would expect people with above average income to be of above average intelligence but not everyone of above average intelligence to be on higher incomes, nor the IQ predicting income - given that there are jobs which require high intelligence but are badly paid (usually becasue they do give personal satisfaction).

In the final analysis IQ tests test the ability to pass IQ tests. That may have some utility for comparison between people of the same culture providing they're taken with a pinch of salt, but across cultures - no.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 13th, 2005
Rick, do you think I need to write even longer essays to make myself clearer?
Permalink Peter 
August 13th, 2005
Marktaw

I am not changing my argument. Try to keep up. I am responding to other peoples' responses to my question. It has been proposed that IQ tests are culturally biased and therefore useless. I respond, well assume they are culturally biased. If blacks who do well on them perform economically as well as similarly performing white people, to me that indicates that there is some predictive value there. If the only difference between blacks who do well and blacks who don't is that the blacks who do well have figured out a way to get by the cultural bias it follows the only difference between blacks who do well economically and those who don't is smashing through the culture bias.

If smashing through the culture bias isn't too difficult, and I believe it isn't, then the question is why do so many blacks not choose to adpat to the dominant culture. One possible answer is that there is no motivation to. I then argue the motivation is to make money and the overwhelming majority of blacks would consider this a good motivation.

Still most of them choose not to work on the culture difference. This I present as evidence that the culture thing is likely not the only factor in play on economic success/IQ or aptitude test success.

There, do you see it now? Perhaps make an effor to follow a complex argument before accusing me of doing the old argument switcheroo!
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 13th, 2005
Ah, now we get to it. It's a racial bias argument.

I believe I have similar issues, actually. I agree that there are actions that support success in this society. Actions like honesty, integrity, making a promise and keeping it, being worthy of trust because you make obligations and keep them.

Actions like setting goals and working to achieve them. Valuing achievement, intelligence, skills, education, initiative, discipline.

IQ doesn't really enter in to it, nor does race, really. Any individual who has these values and pursues them can have an even chance in our society. Now, there does seem to be a sub-culture of the African-American community that does not value these -- calling it "acting white". I do have a problem with that. I think that sub-culture is self-defeating.

There's also a culture in this society of people whose parents earn over $300,000 a year. These people have much greater access to private schools, the best colleges, other people who attend the best colleges, summers at the beach, financial companies run by their parent's friends, access to summer jobs that prepare for high-paying careers. I feel these people have a much greater than even chance of economic success in our society.

Again, IQ and race don't enter in to this very much. I wouldn't be surprised if most of these families are white. I would think that would happen because the earlier access to resources would have been denied to African-Americans, and it takes some time and opportunities to build the businesses and financial institutions that lead to this kind of income.

Before the 1960's and Civil Rights legislation, I believe it was really difficult for African-Americans to get access to these resources. Now it seems the Bushies have concluded that enough African-Americans have made it into this upper echelon that Affirmative Action is no longer needed. I disagree, personally.

Now, there may be some African-Americans who would not take advantage of these resources even if offered. If so, I'm sorry about that. But I certainly refuse to say "It's all their fault if they feel they can't succeed -- for reasons of culture, or IQ, or color, or religion, or philosophy" -- or any other off-the-wall reason.

So, if you are using IQ to justify some warm-fuzzy feeling you have, that the African-Americans deserve the place they currently hold in our society, then I must forcefully disagree.

If you are arguing that because of testing lower on IQ tests that they therefore need additional help to reach these upper echelons, I might agree with that. We could then debate WHY they test lower on IQ tests -- different cultures, wording of questions, educational funding, whatever. Again, it's NOT the test that's important, nor the IQ, but access to resources.
Permalink AllanL5 
August 13th, 2005
Actually I wasn't arguing one way or the other. Also I still think that race matters in a lot of ways even if the individual has the traits you enumerate because prejudice leads one to assume that they don't. On the other hand, sometime white guilt and affirmative action and the desire to be viuewed as a good person might cause some white people to give advantages to upper level black people. What's the balance? I don't know.

If IQ is valid and if black people have lower than average IQs does this give me a warm fuzzy feeling and make me say they basically deserve it? No. It says to me that we may be looking in the wrong place for solutions to our race problems and if we could be a bit more honest with ourselves and a bit less intimidated by people who compare us to Klansmen if we dare to suggest alternatives, we might find better solutions more quickly.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 13th, 2005
There are many reasons why a rational person in our economic system might reinforce racism, even if she's not racist.

One example I heard is promoting a manager. You can promote a black person to manage blacks. But many whites chafe under a black manager. On the other hand, it's more accepted for white men to manage both races. So quite frequently a CEO, who isn't racist but instead a rational profit-maker who wants fewer problems, would make the sensible choice to promote the white manager (at presumably higher pay and power).

For a detached perspective, imagine the difficulties Japanese corporations have promoting women. Now, an "external" force may provoke economic change, say for example popular protest; but even so, such protests are usually unwelcome by the dominant male culture.

Benetton is an example of an Italian corporation which can wrap itself in multicultural imagery in order to make sales -- which it can rationally do due to the groundwork laid by the civil rights movement, in particular its popularization in the 60's. But had that groundwork not been laid, they wouldn't have been able to make much profit from this strategy.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
August 13th, 2005
"if we could be a bit more honest with ourselves and a bit less intimidated by people who compare us to Klansmen if we dare to suggest alternatives, we might find better solutions more quickly."

The problem is, privileged people (like those of the right race) don't have great incentives to listen to the unprivileged.

Even if you're a poor white man, do you think you can go to some CEO or politician, and meekly ask them to abide by or enforce laws respecting unions? No way -- that requires hard work and protests. Perhaps Machiavellian cunning. Because respecting unions generally isn't in the interests of these decisionmakers. In fact, they aggressively throw around scary words like COMMUNIST because unions are antagonistic to them.

You might ask unprivileged races like average blacks or latinos what THEY THINK is a good solution. But you probably won't like their answers. There's such an antagonism, that it's rational to lock up blacks like they were the plague. Why not have the biggest jail rate in the world, a really racist one, like the US? Perfectly rational.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
August 13th, 2005
Tayssir:

I think in today's America, if a managers rational for not promoting a black employee is that white employees would chafe, that manager should say, "hang the chafery, they will have to adapt!".
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
August 14th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

Other topics: August, 2005 Other topics: August, 2005 Recent topics Recent topics