Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, May 20, 2013

Andrew Sullivan Is Racist

Sullivan makes the following argument:

But what I really want TNC to address is the data. Yes, “race” is a social construct when we define it as “white”, “black,” “Asian” or, even more ludicrously, “Hispanic.” But why then does the overwhelming data show IQ as varying in statistically significant amounts between these completely arbitrary racially constructed populations? Is the testing rigged? If the categories are arbitrary, then the IQs should be randomly distributed. But they aren’t, even controlling for education, income, etc.
That’s the core problem with debunking the Richwine thesis. The policy inferences are repellent to me. But the data are real. And they correspond to our socially constructed racial categories. There’s no correlation between intelligence and height, for example, or between intelligence and gender (except arguably at the extreme extremes). So why would our constructed and arbitrary racial categories yield such dramatic IQ differentials? Remember this holds true even when controlling for class, money and education. The answer is: we can only guess. Once they find a specific genetic pattern for intelligence, as they are looking for in China, we may find out.

Yes, the testing is rigged.  We know the testing is rigged.  Because IQ itself is a construct.  IQ stands for "intelligence quotient".  Basically you take the score and divide the age.

But what are the questions?  Most IQ tests test certain forms of logical thinking and critical skills.  Many test verbal knowledge.  But they use norms and terms found in the majority culture.  So there is a bias in the testing.

Secondly, the idea of a fixed IQ is bogus.  There is no such thing.  There are multiple forms of intelligence, multiple ways of thinking.  IQ tests capture very few of them.

Most educators don't put a ton of stock in IQ tests, because they don't tell you a whole hell of a lot.  The reason SATs are important, is because they allow a college admissions office a chance to say "no" without having to consider all 50,000 applications.  SATs don't predict success in school or in life.  IQ scores are also pretty meaningless.  Most of them test scholastic preparedness.

When people start putting a lot of stock in a flawed metric to justify odious ends, chances are they are looking for reasons to reach that odious ends.

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