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#123- Identity & Honesty A Conversation with Ezra Klein

 
lynmc
 
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lynmc
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16 April 2018 21:02
 
Quadrewple - 16 April 2018 01:35 AM
lynmc - 15 April 2018 03:02 PM

Harris (on the other hand) just seems incapable of grasping that he (and Murray) might have the science wrong, and certainly has the logic wrong in asserting that some variation in IQ within a population can be attributed to genetics means that some variation between populations can be attributed to genetics.  Instead he thinks he’s a persecuted defender of “Truth.”  Poor fellow.

A population is just a stratification of individuals…...whose IQ scores are influenced by genetics - so the statement I made Bold and Italic is complete nonsense.  You’re certainly in no position to intellectually condescend Sam Harris…...

In other words, there is no magic that changes the dynamics of IQ differences between individuals simply because we categorize said individuals in a different way.

I’ll break it down even more simply:

Any individual fir tree looks different from an individual pine tree, and has different properties because of the difference in genetics.  If we take 10 fir trees and compare their properties as a group to 10 pine trees as a group, the differences we see in aggregate are still due to genetics…....the same logic applies to us looking at one individual black person’s IQ score vs one individual white persons’s IQ score as opposed to 10 black IQ scores vs 10 white IQ scores.  Whatever underlying genetics are influencing IQ disparities between individuals don’t disappear because we stratified the results by race - we can disagree as much as you want about what % genetics are influencing things, but the logic of what I’m saying is undeniable.

What I’m saying should be incredibly obvious in an Information Age society, but people without philosophical training are routinely confused by concepts and abstractions.  This is actually a huge part of the reason people like Sam Harris are so maligned - he can handle concepts and abstractions, and most people can’t, and they can’t comprehend what he’s saying but lack the humility to ask someone to explain things to them like they’re 5 (how everyone is explained things they’re first learning).

Sure, you misunderstood the statement I made.  Your example is irrelevant.  Even Murray stated the same thing (p 298), although, he also strongly implied that given that the variance is in white individual IQs is due to genetic variation, the difference between black means and white means is significantly due to genetic differences (p 298-299, apparently contradicting what he says earlier on the page).  He made the same fallacious implication in the interview with Harris.

I’m sorry this may be beyond your grasp, I keep hoping but here are relevant examples:

Take a bunch of white people, and divide them into two populations by putting all the blonds in one and everyone else in another.  Or maybe tall people vs short people, or tall blonds with curly hair, blue eyes, oval faces and perky noses who admire Sam Harris in one population vs everyone else.  Measure their IQ and variance of the IQ.  Say you find out:
- Both means are 100
- The variance is 225
- The proportion of variance between individuals in both groups due to genes is estimated at 60%
As you may note, the variance within the population is 225, but the difference in means is zero.  Whatever the proportion of variance between individuals you can attribute to genes, you can attribute nothing to between population differences in mean IQ, because there are none.  But suppose there were?

Since this is my example and I get to make things up, suppose instead you measured:
- The tall, blond, curly-haired blue-eyed people with oval faces and perky noses (hereafter called the blonds) had a mean IQ of 85, everyone else had a mean IQ of 100
- The variance is 225
- by some means, you were able to estimate the proportion of the variance due to genetics is 60%

What do you think the proportion of difference of mean IQ between the populations due to genetics is?  I suppose, one could argue that blonds are well known to be stupid, also (with a lot of good evidence) people who admire Sam Harris.  We’ve selected a particularly stupid subset of white people!

However, suppose you also found out that due to some major industry closing down 25 years ago, a far greater proportion of the blonds were raised in impoverished homes, in polluted and crime-ridden neighborhoods with poor schools and 30% of their male parents had seen jail time, whereas mostly everyone else lived lived in good neighborhoods with good schools and had stable families.  Would that change your opinion about how much of difference in IQ means was due to genetics?  This is all hypothetical of course. 


Now as another example (I’m making up figures) take two breeds of dogs, Great Danes and Chihuahuas.  Measure their weight.  Say you find:
- The mean for Great Danes is 155 lb, for Chihuahuas 15
- The variance for Great Danes is 100, for Chihuahuas 9
- The estimated heritability of size is 80% for each.

Note that the difference in means 140, that’s at least 10 of the Great Dane’s standard deviation and a lot more for the Chihuahuas.  In this case, genes had a lot to do with the difference in means, but the heritablility figure has exactly nothing to do with this.

Well, this isn’t even complex statistics, and I’m a little tired of explaining relatively simple logical concepts to people with a poor grasp of such.  Murray made a just plain wrong implication and Harris kind of went along with it, that being a significant part of the lower IQ scores measured in blacks can be attributed to genes (given that intelligence has around 60% heritability).

 
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17 April 2018 09:27
 
lynmc - 16 April 2018 09:02 PM

Sure, you misunderstood the statement I made.  Your example is irrelevant.  Even Murray stated the same thing (p 298), although, he also strongly implied that given that the variance is in white individual IQs is due to genetic variation, the difference between black means and white means is significantly due to genetic differences (p 298-299, apparently contradicting what he says earlier on the page).  He made the same fallacious implication in the interview with Harris.

I’m sorry this may be beyond your grasp, I keep hoping but here are relevant examples:

Take a bunch of white people, and divide them into two populations by putting all the blonds in one and everyone else in another.  Or maybe tall people vs short people, or tall blonds with curly hair, blue eyes, oval faces and perky noses who admire Sam Harris in one population vs everyone else.  Measure their IQ and variance of the IQ.  Say you find out:
- Both means are 100
- The variance is 225
- The proportion of variance between individuals in both groups due to genes is estimated at 60%
As you may note, the variance within the population is 225, but the difference in means is zero.  Whatever the proportion of variance between individuals you can attribute to genes, you can attribute nothing to between population differences in mean IQ, because there are none.  But suppose there were?

Since this is my example and I get to make things up, suppose instead you measured:
- The tall, blond, curly-haired blue-eyed people with oval faces and perky noses (hereafter called the blonds) had a mean IQ of 85, everyone else had a mean IQ of 100
- The variance is 225
- by some means, you were able to estimate the proportion of the variance due to genetics is 60%

What do you think the proportion of difference of mean IQ between the populations due to genetics is?  I suppose, one could argue that blonds are well known to be stupid, also (with a lot of good evidence) people who admire Sam Harris.  We’ve selected a particularly stupid subset of white people!

However, suppose you also found out that due to some major industry closing down 25 years ago, a far greater proportion of the blonds were raised in impoverished homes, in polluted and crime-ridden neighborhoods with poor schools and 30% of their male parents had seen jail time, whereas mostly everyone else lived lived in good neighborhoods with good schools and had stable families.  Would that change your opinion about how much of difference in IQ means was due to genetics?  This is all hypothetical of course. 


Now as another example (I’m making up figures) take two breeds of dogs, Great Danes and Chihuahuas.  Measure their weight.  Say you find:
- The mean for Great Danes is 155 lb, for Chihuahuas 15
- The variance for Great Danes is 100, for Chihuahuas 9
- The estimated heritability of size is 80% for each.

Note that the difference in means 140, that’s at least 10 of the Great Dane’s standard deviation and a lot more for the Chihuahuas.  In this case, genes had a lot to do with the difference in means, but the heritablility figure has exactly nothing to do with this.

Well, this isn’t even complex statistics, and I’m a little tired of explaining relatively simple logical concepts to people with a poor grasp of such.  Murray made a just plain wrong implication and Harris kind of went along with it, that being a significant part of the lower IQ scores measured in blacks can be attributed to genes (given that intelligence has around 60% heritability).

I can understand your point. I understand it clearly. The problem is that Sam didn’t make the claim you think he made. I don’t think Murray did either but I will accept that I am wrong about Murray if you provide me evidence he did.

I’m not trying to inflame but you really don’t understand what Sam has said. Sam in fact has 100% agreed with your point. The example he gave was something along the lines that if you had 2 batches of seeds genetically the same or not and planted one batch in the desert and one batch on a farm that they would have different results.

Just link me where you think they made the claim you just argued against and I will explain to you how you’ve misunderstood it or I’ll eat my words which I sincerely doubt.

 
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17 April 2018 09:36
 
ghostRepeater - 16 April 2018 03:33 PM

From the reading I’ve done on this topic since this brouhaha began, it appears that ‘race’ is not a legitimate or useful way to structure our thinking about human diversity. It is politically motivated folk taxonomy, at best. Which makes all this discussion about the science effectively moot. It’s not much use - again, for scientific purposes - to investigate the existence and nature of differences between ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ when these categories don’t refer to actual natural subdivisions (analogous to that between species, or between mammals and non-mammals, e.g. groupings where nature actually seems to be ‘discontinuous’ at the border between the categories) in the first place. 

Fuller arguments are found here and here.

To those here who would like to argue the position that race does represent a scientifically, biologically legitimate and useful way of talking about variation among humans, please respond to the following points:

1. Please give links to experts in the field who address the arguments given in the above articles. I am seriously looking for the other viewpoint on this, but I’m having trouble finding articulations of it that deal with these points in detail.

2. Please give me (with support from experts in biology) the decision procedure by which I can decide whether any given person ‘is white’ or ‘is black’, etc., and then convince me that that decision procedure does not rely on folk perceptions that are, biologically speaking, arbitrary. THEN convince me that, from the standpoint of biology, there is no better way to organize our thinking about human diversity. So again, in summary: Who counts as white? Who counts as black? How do you know they belong in that category? How do you deal with border cases? Where are the criteria in nature? And convince me that this is the best way to classify people - out of all the many other ways we could classify them - for both scientific and medical purposes.

I think what we are referring to as ‘race’ reflects nothing more substantial than biologically arbitrary but politically/socially motivated groupings of people resulting from historical accidents as to which superficial differences people decided to use as criteria in dividing up humankind into ‘people like me whom I must treat with respect’ and ‘people not like me who are inferior’. 

Based on what I know at this point, this is where I stand on the subject. But I understand that there are respected and respectable scientists who think race does reflect a biological reality, at least closely enough that it’s useful to urge us to find constructive ways of talking about it, in spite of all the dangers that always attend any discussion of race, scientific or otherwise. And I am open to having my mind changed on this score. 

Ironically Murray would probably be fine with invalidating race as a concept. I’ll agree to drop race as a meaningful item if you agree to drop race as a meaningful item. No more affirmative action, no more assistance programs based on race, no more accusations of racism.

If there is a group that you can point to and say that those people experience racism then by your standards of what that group is you can measure that groups attributes in comparison to the whole.

Let’s say race is a social construct, what now? Does that change the data? No. Does that mean we can’t measure those groups attributes in comparison to the whole? No.

I actually agree with you in so many ways. I think the problem is that you want to be able to use it yourself but also say that it should be off the table scientifically. You should pick one.

 
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17 April 2018 09:42
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 April 2018 11:19 AM

Great job on the essay. I was thinking that for someone like me who hasn’t read The Bell Curve, and who doesn’t understand the finer points of heritability, it would be impossible to reach an informed conclusion about whether Murray’s claims are misguided. But the height example strikes me as a convincing counterexample of a link between heritability and immutability even without a complete understanding of heritability; and the excerpts from The Bell Curve show that Murray does rely on heritability to show the immutability of IQ. The rectangle analogy also helps.

Now I’m left wondering, though: what is heritability properly used for? Why do population geneticists, statisticians, and biologists care about it?

Also, what argument would one of those misguided psychologists or social scientists use to convince me that heritability is a valid indicator of immutability? Has anyone written an essay defending Murray’s use of heritability? Do they explain the apparent contradiction of the height example? (It seems to me that Harris or Murray might have touched on this point in the podcast, but I forget what was said.)

I assume that while Murray’s claim about the immutability of IQ is not supported by heritability data, neither does heritability data disprove or undermine his immutability claim. In other words, it’s possible that Murray may have coincidentally arrived at a correct conclusion despite his misuse of heritability. So how would we determine how immutable IQ is? I guess for that we need only look at the shrinking gap between black and white IQ over time, or maybe the Flynn effect, both of which indicate that IQ is not very immutable.

#

I agree with you about Stockfish and Alphazero. In fact, Alphazero used the same learning algorithm to master the games of Go and Shogi. The only difference between the different versions is that they were preprogrammed with the rules of their respective games.

Similar learning algorithms have been used to make medical diagnoses from X-rays or other information; to estimate the likelihood of parole candidates reoffending if granted parole; and even to determine the sexual orientation of people based strictly from pictures posted on dating websites. In all cases, the AI was better at its task than human beings. The problem is, the AI was incapable of explaining how or why it reached its conclusion.

In one sense, these AIs are more intelligent than human experts because they’re better at reaching correct conclusions. But what, if anything, does the inability to explain how conclusions are reached say about intelligence?

It’s possible, in my opinion, that experts arrive at their conclusions in much the same way as these AIs do: intuitively, so to speak, without any awareness of the factors leading to the conclusion. Then, after the fact, they justify their conclusion with reasons they believe must have led to it. Their stated reasons may or may not reflect the actual reasons, of which they remain unaware. That “reason” was used ahead of time, to arrive at their conclusion, is an illusion created by this after-the-fact reasoning.  Without the capacity to reason, AI can’t even speculate as to the factors that lead to its conclusions.

I hope you had a good time on your vacation. Did you catch any fish?

To my understanding Murray hasn’t actually said that IQ is Immutable through generations but that it is fairly immutable by an individual and that when you use environment to raise that individuals IQ it often doesn’t last long term.

 
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17 April 2018 10:08
 
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:36 AM

...
Let’s say race is a social construct, what now? Does that change the data? No. Does that mean we can’t measure those groups attributes in comparison to the whole? No.
...

Yes, it does change the data.  There can be no valid comparisons of groups if there are no scientific criteria available to determine which individuals are to be assigned to each group.

 
 
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17 April 2018 13:55
 
Jan_CAN - 17 April 2018 10:08 AM
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:36 AM

...
Let’s say race is a social construct, what now? Does that change the data? No. Does that mean we can’t measure those groups attributes in comparison to the whole? No.
...

Yes, it does change the data.  There can be no valid comparisons of groups if there are no scientific criteria available to determine which individuals are to be assigned to each group.

No, it doesn’t change the data - it only changes our interpretation of the data (what we can definitively say once it has been collected).  We as humans can choose to stratify however we want!  It just means that YOU might not find any value in stratifying by self-identified race.

But if that is your belief, that puts you at odds with everyone who believes stratifying by self-identified race IS useful - whether it be analyzing average IQ scores, likelihood of incarceration, lifetime earnings, etc.  So you’ve got quite the uphill battle on your hands.

 
 
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17 April 2018 14:40
 
Quadrewple - 17 April 2018 01:55 PM
Jan_CAN - 17 April 2018 10:08 AM
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:36 AM

...
Let’s say race is a social construct, what now? Does that change the data? No. Does that mean we can’t measure those groups attributes in comparison to the whole? No.
...

Yes, it does change the data.  There can be no valid comparisons of groups if there are no scientific criteria available to determine which individuals are to be assigned to each group.

No, it doesn’t change the data - it only changes our interpretation of the data (what we can definitively say once it has been collected).  We as humans can choose to stratify however we want!  It just means that YOU might not find any value in stratifying by self-identified race.

But if that is your belief, that puts you at odds with everyone who believes stratifying by self-identified race IS useful - whether it be analyzing average IQ scores, likelihood of incarceration, lifetime earnings, etc.  So you’ve got quite the uphill battle on your hands.

Self-identified data is useful to study statistics regarding prejudice, hiring practices, etc.  But if you want a study (e.g. on IQ) to be viewed as ‘hard science’, you’ll need clearly defined criteria.

[ Edited: 17 April 2018 15:35 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
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17 April 2018 15:45
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkNIgi9SwHg

I thought this was a great analysis of Vox’s smearing of Sam Harris.

 
 
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17 April 2018 19:52
 
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:42 AM

To my understanding Murray hasn’t actually said that IQ is Immutable through generations but that it is fairly immutable by an individual and that when you use environment to raise that individuals IQ it often doesn’t last long term.

I think “immutable” means that IQ doesn’t change in response to environmental factors. The assumption is that if IQ is changing, which it appears to be based on the Flynn effect and the narrowing black/white IQ gap, it must be changing in response to environmental factors; therefore, IQ can’t be immutable. From that standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the change occurs in one generation or over multiple generations—it depends on how quickly changes to the environment occur.

Are you questioning the assumption that IQ must be changing in response to environmental factors? And suggesting instead that it’s actually changing because of genetic changes?

 
 
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17 April 2018 22:19
 
Jan_CAN - 17 April 2018 02:40 PM

Self-identified data is useful to study statistics regarding prejudice, hiring practices, etc.  But if you want a study (e.g. on IQ) to be viewed as ‘hard science’, you’ll need clearly defined criteria.

While you may be right, I’m not sure that matters in the context of how the average person talks about race.

Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:27 AM

However, suppose you also found out that due to some major industry closing down 25 years ago, a far greater proportion of the blonds were raised in impoverished homes, in polluted and crime-ridden neighborhoods with poor schools and 30% of their male parents had seen jail time, whereas mostly everyone else lived lived in good neighborhoods with good schools and had stable families.  Would that change your opinion about how much of difference in IQ means was due to genetics? This is all hypothetical of course.

Not necessarily, because the situation you’re describing doesn’t paint a picture of intelligent parents (males or females).  I had significant factors going against my intellectual development (physical abuse, lack of nutrition, inadequate calories), but I also had a lot of great books to choose from and a mom who was teaching me Math and English as early as I was capable of learning.  We did not grow up with a lot of money, but my parents also didn’t waste any money on stupid shit. 

If one man was able to support his wife and raise 3 high IQ children (me and my siblings) on a union grocery store salary and provide for his wife in California, in a low crime city - I think that says a lot about how much WILL plays into all of this as well as a tiny bit of due diligence on the parents’ part (not having kids on accident for one).  Smart people are embarrassed by having stupid kids…...that is the simplest explanation for parents who do fuck all to give their kids a decent shot at being successful in school.

More to the point of your example, I would wonder what happened when other groups (brunettes and black-haired) had suffered economic hardships - did their family structures go into freefall also?  I’m pretty sure the US went through a depression, that was mostly white people, and from what I’ve read, the Great Depression didn’t even correlate with an increase in crime.  I’m obviously not saying that’s a perfect apples to apples comparison - only that it raises enough questions in my mind for me to doubt that the level of freefall we’ve seen in the black community can be explained by environmental change alone, or even mostly.

[ Edited: 17 April 2018 23:32 by Quadrewple]
 
 
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18 April 2018 02:19
 

Power is nothing without control - or vice versa.
In this analogy, Will is power and Intelligence control.

 
 
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18 April 2018 08:24
 
Jan_CAN - 17 April 2018 02:40 PM
Quadrewple - 17 April 2018 01:55 PM
Jan_CAN - 17 April 2018 10:08 AM
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:36 AM

...
Let’s say race is a social construct, what now? Does that change the data? No. Does that mean we can’t measure those groups attributes in comparison to the whole? No.
...

Yes, it does change the data.  There can be no valid comparisons of groups if there are no scientific criteria available to determine which individuals are to be assigned to each group.

No, it doesn’t change the data - it only changes our interpretation of the data (what we can definitively say once it has been collected).  We as humans can choose to stratify however we want!  It just means that YOU might not find any value in stratifying by self-identified race.

But if that is your belief, that puts you at odds with everyone who believes stratifying by self-identified race IS useful - whether it be analyzing average IQ scores, likelihood of incarceration, lifetime earnings, etc.  So you’ve got quite the uphill battle on your hands.

Self-identified data is useful to study statistics regarding prejudice, hiring practices, etc.  But if you want a study (e.g. on IQ) to be viewed as ‘hard science’, you’ll need clearly defined criteria.

You can split groups however you want. If you want to claim that group A is experiencing prejudice for reason X then we can measure that. We can then continue to measure all ways in which group A differs from the norm. Group A has been defined, if you’re arguing about how to define the group you’re arguing with the wrong people. Argue that to the people in favor of affirmative action based on being in this group they’ve defined.

 
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18 April 2018 08:27
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 17 April 2018 07:52 PM
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:42 AM

To my understanding Murray hasn’t actually said that IQ is Immutable through generations but that it is fairly immutable by an individual and that when you use environment to raise that individuals IQ it often doesn’t last long term.

I think “immutable” means that IQ doesn’t change in response to environmental factors. The assumption is that if IQ is changing, which it appears to be based on the Flynn effect and the narrowing black/white IQ gap, it must be changing in response to environmental factors; therefore, IQ can’t be immutable. From that standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the change occurs in one generation or over multiple generations—it depends on how quickly changes to the environment occur.

Are you questioning the assumption that IQ must be changing in response to environmental factors? And suggesting instead that it’s actually changing because of genetic changes?

I can state with statistical certainty that there will be both genetic and environmental change generation to generation.

 
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18 April 2018 09:21
 
Libertarian - 18 April 2018 08:27 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 17 April 2018 07:52 PM
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:42 AM

To my understanding Murray hasn’t actually said that IQ is Immutable through generations but that it is fairly immutable by an individual and that when you use environment to raise that individuals IQ it often doesn’t last long term.

I think “immutable” means that IQ doesn’t change in response to environmental factors. The assumption is that if IQ is changing, which it appears to be based on the Flynn effect and the narrowing black/white IQ gap, it must be changing in response to environmental factors; therefore, IQ can’t be immutable. From that standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the change occurs in one generation or over multiple generations—it depends on how quickly changes to the environment occur.

Are you questioning the assumption that IQ must be changing in response to environmental factors? And suggesting instead that it’s actually changing because of genetic changes?

I can state with statistical certainty that there will be both genetic and environmental change generation to generation.

Yes, but can there be genetic change that explains such a large change in a trait (IQ, in this case) in such a short time? I agree that it’s possible, but before accepting this argument I’d need to know what environmental factors drove that change. In other words, what prevented low-IQ blacks from reproducing in numbers sufficient to shift the mean black IQ? Abortion? Guns? Incarceration? Sexual selection? Maybe that’s how we can explain the Flynn effect, too.

Absent some driving environmental factor, though, I think it’s unreasonable to expect average IQ would change due to genes. It seems more likely to me that mean IQ wouldn’t change hardly at all, but the standard deviation might increase. And even that would probably take a long time.

 
 
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19 April 2018 09:09
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 18 April 2018 09:21 AM
Libertarian - 18 April 2018 08:27 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 17 April 2018 07:52 PM
Libertarian - 17 April 2018 09:42 AM

To my understanding Murray hasn’t actually said that IQ is Immutable through generations but that it is fairly immutable by an individual and that when you use environment to raise that individuals IQ it often doesn’t last long term.

I think “immutable” means that IQ doesn’t change in response to environmental factors. The assumption is that if IQ is changing, which it appears to be based on the Flynn effect and the narrowing black/white IQ gap, it must be changing in response to environmental factors; therefore, IQ can’t be immutable. From that standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the change occurs in one generation or over multiple generations—it depends on how quickly changes to the environment occur.

Are you questioning the assumption that IQ must be changing in response to environmental factors? And suggesting instead that it’s actually changing because of genetic changes?

I can state with statistical certainty that there will be both genetic and environmental change generation to generation.

Yes, but can there be genetic change that explains such a large change in a trait (IQ, in this case) in such a short time? I agree that it’s possible, but before accepting this argument I’d need to know what environmental factors drove that change. In other words, what prevented low-IQ blacks from reproducing in numbers sufficient to shift the mean black IQ? Abortion? Guns? Incarceration? Sexual selection? Maybe that’s how we can explain the Flynn effect, too.

Absent some driving environmental factor, though, I think it’s unreasonable to expect average IQ would change due to genes. It seems more likely to me that mean IQ wouldn’t change hardly at all, but the standard deviation might increase. And even that would probably take a long time.

I’m sorry I’m a little confused, are you stating that the IQ difference between blacks and whites has closed significantly? I think that’s a controversial claim to make. I think the gap still sits somewhere in the 11-15% range depending on who you ask.

I’d say the flynn effect is probably partly because much of our lives now is operating computers and phones and we have access to all human information at our fingertips. This is just my bullshit opinion though.smile

 
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