Please post all off-topic comments for the week here. They will not be published in the main articles.
Open thread, week ending July 1, 2018
26 Tuesday Jun 2018
26 Tuesday Jun 2018
Please post all off-topic comments for the week here. They will not be published in the main articles.
25 Monday Jun 2018
I was at the beach with my crumbling copy of Arthur Jensen’s 1980 landmark book Bias in Mental Testing when a sentence on page 493 made me smile:
College GPA, in contrast to final grades in armed forces training schools, is probably almost as highly loaded on level II ability (after correction for attenuation) as are the predictive tests
Level II ability is mental ability that loads on g (the general factor of intelligence), such as abstract reasoning, conceptual ability etc, as opposed to Level I ability which is stuff like rote memory. Jensen believed that the working class and certain minorities were normal in level I ability but below average in Level II ability.
I have found that he SAT has a g loading of around 0.7 in the general U.S. population, and so Jensen’s comments implies college GPA has a g loading of almost 0.7 (corrected for attenuation) if we could drag all American young people into college, and the same college at that.
But what on Earth does he mean by corrected for attenuation? I would expect college grades to be more reliable than SAT scores given that they are based on many tests and assignments, not just one.
But perhaps the attenuation comes from the bias of the professors themselves. Just as different supreme court judges can reach different decisions about a case, different law professors will give the same essay an A or C depending on whether they agree with the legal arguments. And similarly for different English professors, depending on whether they agree with your literary tastes. So it’s this bias in scoring that largely makes college GPA a worse measure of intelligence than the college admission tests themselves.
One reason math and computer types tend to have higher IQs than the rest of us is not just that these subjects are more g loaded, but they’re also more objective. The computer program either runs or it doesn’t. Less room for bias on the professor’s part. Jealous of their ability, other students call computer geeks “autistic”, because unlike math or computers, you can seldom be proven wrong about your social intelligence because you can never get into someone else’s head and prove you correctly read their mind, so social IQ becomes an easy way for people to convince themselves that they’re smarter than computer geeks at something.
Back to Jensen’s quote: why did reading this make me smile? I’ve long been fascinated by the idea that smart people get to the top but I feared this was just a self-fulfilling prophecy of the testocracy we live in and says little about the intrinsic predictive power of the IQ itself.
But the fact that GPA is almost as g loaded as predictive tests means that even if we removed the testocracy (college admission tests), it would have little effect on who gets to the top in America, because the very act of learning the skills you need to function in elite occupations is itself almost as g loaded. The predictive power of IQ is not something society artificially created.
23 Saturday Jun 2018
[Note from PP: The following is a guest article by commenter RR and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pumpkin Person. Please post all off-topic comments in the open-thread. They will not be posted here]
Michael Hardimon has some of the best defenses of the reality of race that I am aware of. His 4 concepts are: the racialist concept (he says racialist races do not exist, which I will cover in the future), the minimalist race concept, the socialrace concept (which also will be covered more in depth in the future) and the populationist race concept. Racialist races do not exist, according to Hardimon. However, that does not mean that race does not exist nor does it mean that race isn’t real. On the contrary, race exists and is a biological reality. Simple arguments for the existence of race do indeed exist and see where mixed-race individuals, ‘Latinos’, and Brazilians fall. (Author of the book A Theory of Race Joshua Glasgow also reviewed Hardimon’s book (Glasgow, 2018), and I also left my thoughts on his review.)
Now, minimalist races exist and are biologically real. The concept, though, is vague. It doesn’t state which populations are races, but the populationist race concept, however, does. Hardimon (2017: 99) defines populationist races:
“A race is a subdivision of Homo sapiens—a group of populations that exhibits a distinctive pattern of genetically transmitted phenotypic characters that corresponds to the group’s geographic ancestry and belongs to a biological line of descent initiated by a geographically separated and reproductively isolated founding population.”
Are there groups that exhibit patterns of a distinctive pattern of visible physical features which are genetically transmitted and correspond to the group’s geographic ancestry? Are there groups that belong to a biological line of descent which was initiated by geographically and reproductively isolated founding populations? The answer is, obviously, yes. Which groups satisfy the definition of populationist races? I will discuss this below.
An important question to answer is: are races subspecies? The two terms are similar. Merriam Webster defines subspecies as: “a category in biological classification that ranks immediately below a species and designates a population of a particular geographic region genetically distinguishable from other such populations of the same species and capable of interbreeding successfully with them where its range overlaps theirs.” While “race” is similarly defined. So, are races subspecies?
The fixation index (Fst) is a measure of population differentiation due to genetic structure which is estimated from SNPs or microsattelites. Generally, the accepted criterion for subspeciation is between .25 and .30. Human groups have an Fst between .05 and .15, so human groups fall way short of subspeciation. Fst estimates for humans fall between .05 and .15, which is far and away what the consensus is on the delineation of subspecies within a group of like kinds. Further, Fst does not support the existence of distinct clusters in humans (Maglo, Mersha, and Martin, 2016; it should be noted that they believe that for human races to exist, human races must be subspecies—similar views are held by philosopher of science Adam Hochman—but their contentions were addressed by Spencer, 2015). Human populations are not subspecies, and the fact that they are not subspecies does not rail against the existence of populationist races.
Hochman (2013) makes the case that in order to claim that clusters represent subspecies, four conditions have to be met: “(i) the range of allele frequency differences between genetic Fstclusters corresponding to race must be relatively uniform, (ii) there must be a determinate number of such clusters, (iii) the allelic frequencies within such clusters must be relatively homogeneous, and (iv) there must be a large jump in genetic differences between such clusters” (Hardimon, 2017: 108).
Thus, the human species does not contain subspecies in the technical sense of the word, as humans Fst estimates range between .05 to .15. This further attests to the fact that the clusters—identified by Rosenberg et al (2002)—are not subspecies. “There is no need for US racial groups to be subspecies or clades, have high genetic variation among them, or be fundamental categories in human population genetics just in order to be biologically real races. Rather, in order for US racial groups to be biologically real races, they just need to be races and biologically real (Spencer, 2015: 6).
The populationist race concept, however, does not require that a division in a species be represented by a particular Fst estimated. It further doesn’t say that Hochman’s (2013)conditions must be met in order for the clusters to be races. Therefore the populationist race concept is not a subspecies concept; there are no subspecies in our genus. Though, if we were forced to accept Hochman’s (2013) conditions (which we do not have to), human races do not exist.
Next is the concept of phylogeny. If phylogenetic is taken to in the normal biological terminology, then the question is whether or not racial lines of descent capture evolutionary significant relationships. And if “evolutionary significant relationships” are taken in the normal biological context then the answer to the question is “no.” This is because the term “evolutionary significance”, taken in the general biological terminology, is understood in a way that for a relationship between populations to be “evolutionarily significant”, then the differences between these populations must be blocked by extensive gene flow.
However, regarding the populations that we take to be populationist races, if the features of these races have adaptive significance, such as skin color for differing climates, then the populationist race concept is of interest to evolutionary biologists since biological raciation makes it possible for divisions of Homo sapiens to survive in different climates. Thus, when discussing how and why divisions of our species adapted to different climates—physically speaking—then this concept is of use to evolutionary biologists since it can explain the adaptive physical features of divisions of Homo sapiens. We then have two choices. We can then further take the idea that to be “phylogenetic”, populations must block extensive gene flow, though we can grant that populationist races may well be of interest to evolutionary biologists (due to their adaptive features that arose due to climatic adaption), despite the fact that populationist races are nonphylogenetic (Hardimon, 2017: 111).
The populationist race concept is a candidate scientific concept. This is because the concept uses biological terminology such as “reproductive isolation”, “transmitted phenotypic characteristics”, “founding population”, and “geographic ancestry.” Hardimon then discusses how and why the concept can form a scientific concept:
“… concept C has the “form” of a scientific concept in biology if
(i) it is formulated in a “biological vocabulary”,
(ii) it is framed in terms of an accepted biological outlook,
(iii) it is suitable for deployment in an accepted branch of biological inquiry, and
(iv) it presents the scientific ground of the phenomenon it represents” (Hardimon, 2017: 112).
This concept satisfies all four conditions. It satisfies (i) since it uses biological vocabulary (e.g., phenotype, reproductive isolation). It satisfies (ii) since it’s framed in what Mayr terms “population thinking” (which is the rejection of essentialism—“the view that some properties of objects are essential to them.”. It satisfies (iii) since it is suitable for deployment in ecology, ethology and evolutionary biology. Areas of study, for example, can focus on how and why differing populationist races have differing patterns of visible physical features (i.e., how and why phenotypes changed as migration occurred out of Africa into Eurasia, the Pacific Islands and the Americas). And it satisfies (iv) in that representing populationist races as having arisen from reproducively isolated founding populations.
Now which groups are candidates for populationist races? There are two conditions: (1) they exhibit distinctive patterns of phenotypic characters which correspond to that population’s geographic ancestry and (2) belong to biological lines of descent which then trace back to geographically separated and reproductively isolated founding populations.
There are populations which exhibit distinctive patterns of visible physical features which correspond to geographic ancestry, and they are Sub-Saharan Africans, Caucasians, East Asians, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. The distinctive patterns of visible physical features are genetically transmitted, and they correspond to geographic ancestry. These populations belong to biological lines of descent which can then be traced back to geographically separated and reproductively isolated founding populations. Thus, conditions (1) and (2) are satisfied, therefore populationist races exist.
Further support for (iii) (that the populationist race concept can be deployed in the biological sciences) can be found in my article You Don’t Need Genes to Delineate Race. I discussed differences in gross morphology between the races; I discussed differences in physiognomy between the races; and, of course, the differences in geographic ancestry that caused the differences in morphology and physiognomy (see here for discussions on skin color). Differences in climate that Homo sapiens encountered after trekking out of Africa then caused the distinctive differences in visible physical features which correspond with geographic ancestry which then make up populationist races. Thus, the study of populationist races will elucidate the caused of phenotypic differences between populationist races since they exist and are a biological reality.
There is a relationship between populationist and minimalist races, though they’re defined by different concepts. However if minimalist races are populationist races, then the kind minimalist race=populationist race. “The claim that minimalist race=populationist race is analogous to the claim that water=H2O. The latter claim, since true, provides scientific insight into the nature of minimalist race” (Hardimon, 2017: 120).
Furthermore, we can assume that the populations identified by Lewontin (1972) as races can be interpreted as lending support to the biological reality of populationist races exist. We can also assume that African, Caucasians, East Asians, Oceanians, and Native Americans constitute populationist races, then Rosenberg et al (2002) show support for the biological reality of populationist races, even though the fraction of diversity separating the clusters is between 3-5 percent, this still shows that populationist races capture a portion of biological human variation, no matter how small it is.
“If it is assumed that Africans, Eurasians, East Asians, Oceanians, and Americans constitute continental-level populationist races, Rosenberg and colleagues’ 2002 study can be interpreted as providing support for the biological reality of populationist race inasmuch as it shows that a very small fraction (3-5 percent) of human genetic variation is due to difference among continental-level populationist races. Modulo our assumption, the study results indicate that populationist race is a minor principle of human genetic structure and that populationist race is a minor principle of human variation.” (Hardimon, 2017: 124)
The same points made that minimalist races are human population partitions, that races can be distinguished at the level of the gene, and that the continental-level minimalist races differ in a small number of coding genes, also carry over to the populationist race concept since minimalist race=populationist race, so the biological reality of minimalist race carry over to populationist race. So if the five populations are populationist races, then populationist race correspond to a partition of genetic variation found between the races in the human species, which is then evidence for the existence of populationist races.
The five populations that make up populationist races are Native Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Sub-Saharan Africans. These populations are biologically real, and they exist. They generically transmit phenotypic characteristics across the generations; these phenotypic characteristics differ due to geographic ancestry. These populations are identified in numerous K = 5 runs. So if we assume that the five populations are populationist races then K = 5 shows the real, but small, human genetic variation found within continental-level populationist races which is how the visible patterns of visible physical features which correspond to geographic ancestry are genetically transmitted.
The populationist race concept is a candidate scientific concept. This is a way to study the small genetic variation between the continental-level clusters. Human phenotypic (and physiologic) differences arose due to adaption to different climates. Thus, since populationist race is a biological reality then studying populationist races will better elucidate how and why differences in phenotype arose.
Both the populationist and minimalist race concepts are vague, I admit. However, they’re not so vague that one could argue that villages, countrys, social classes etc are populationist races. It should be noted, though, that it is implicitly stated in the definition for populationist race, that a morphological component exists. Therefore, groups like the Amish, social classes etc. Thus, the populationist race concept gaurentees that races will be races in the ordinary sense of the word (see Hardimon, 2003). So we can take two groups—G1 and G2—and if G1 does not have any pattern of visible physical features which distinguish it from another group, G2, then G1 is not a race. These visible physical differences that distinguish races from one another are biological in nature—hair color/type, skin color, eye type, morphology etc. This gaurentees that different villages, countries, economic classes and ethnies within a race are not counted as “races”, so defined.
The thing about the populationist race concept is that it directly relates to the minimalist race concept. Once we acknowledge that races exist and are real (since minimalist races exist and are real), then we start thinking “Which populations sastisfy the conditions of populationist races?” The populationist race concept—in tandem with the minimalist race concept—shows us that the patterns in visible physical features are genetically transmitted characters which which correspond to the population’s geoprahic ancestry who belong to biological lines of descent which were initiated by geographically separated and genetically isolated founding populations. The populationist race concept supports the claim that the minimalist race concept is a biological concept and secures the existence of minimalist races since minimalist race=populationist race.
P1) The five populations demarcated by Rosenberg et al (2002) are populationist races; K = 5 demarcates populationist races.
P2) Populationist race=minimalist race.
P3) If populationist race=minimalist race, then everything from showing that minimalist races are a biological reality carrys over to populationist races.
P4) Populationist races capture differences in genetic variation between continents and this genetic variation is responsible for the distinctive patterns of visible physical features which correspond to geographic ancestry who belong to biological lines of descent which were initiated by geographically isolated founding populations.
C) Therefore, since populationist races=minmalist races, and visible physical features which correspond to geographic ancestry are genetically transmitted by populations who belong to biological lines of descent, initiated by reproductively isolated founding populations, then populationist races exist and are biologically real.
22 Friday Jun 2018
Many years ago a member of super high IQ society was trying to explain to me why many super brilliant people are not rich. He felt there was an optimum IQ for wealth and status (around 130) but that above 150, IQ might actually be a hindrance to success.
To illustrate his point he used the example of getting women. This is correlated with IQ in the general population, and the guys who do best with women usually have IQs that are well above the population average of 100, but they seldom have IQs above 140. Instead they’re typically around 120.
I think there are several reasons for this:
The fact that too much IQ might be a hindrance to getting money (resources) and women (mates) suggests that even though intelligence is the cognitive ability to adapt situations to your advantage, too much of it is ironically maladaptive from an evolutionary perspective. This may help explain why there’s no evidence for increasing brain size in the past ten thousand years (actually brains have shrunk post agriculture but I suspect that’s malnutrition, not dysgenics, since they’re now rebounding)
But the point is not whether high IQ guys do get money and women, the point is whether they could. Bill Gates (who became the first centibillionaire of all time, decades before anyone else), is an example of just how thoroughly super high IQ people can dominate the competition when they deign to compete with us primates at our own primate games.
The movie Weird Science, where two high IQ nerds who can’t get a date use a computer to invent the girl of their dreams is another example, though the fact that this example is fictional suggests that there are some problems no amount of IQ can solve (for now).
22 Friday Jun 2018
Pumpkin Person rating: 9/10
The recent discussions about high school jocks and nerds reminds me of one of my 10 favorite movies of all time: The Breakfast Club.
I don’t know how well this film applies to young people today and it may not be relevant in foreign countries, but it was the defining high school movie for generations of teenagers, and I suspect in many ways it’s timeless.
To those who were surprised to see a non-horror film in my top 10, I say that in a strange way it is kind of a horror film. There was something strangely creepy about these five teenagers being all alone in a normally bustling high school on a Saturday afternoon, serving detention.
All alone except for the strict principal and the creepy janitor, who in one haunting scene, tells the students he secretly reads their letters and listens to their conversations.
But perhaps the creepiest scene of all comes when the principal takes the delinquent student aside and says something like “many years from now, when you’re long gone from this school and living your shitty life and everyone has forgotten about you, I’m gona be there! And I’m gona beat the shit out of you!”
Just thinking about that scene gives me goosebumps. Kids thinks of their teachers and school principals as authority figures to be mocked behind their back, but they forget that these are actual people, with egos, feelings and insecurities.
Imagine your school principal not only knows you’re gona grow up to be a loser languishing in poverty, but that when you do, it will be safe for him to hunt you down and BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF YOU because by then, no one will care about you.
The film is about high school stereotypes: the high IQ nerd, the jock, the popular rich kid, the criminal, and the basket case and how they all come together and bare their soul against the still silence of the empty school.
In many ways it’s just like this blog. People from all walks of life sharing intimate details of their lives against the utter silence of cyberspace.
The smart nerd: Bruno,
The jock: Race Realist
The rich popular kid: Afro
The criminal who is constantly mocking the others: Mug of Pee
The basket case: illuminaticat,
The creepy janitor: Philosopher
Anthony Michael Hall is great as the high IQ nerd because he really looks like a young Bill Gates. Lion of the Blogosphere says that high IQ guys are nerdy partly because delayed puberty allows the math brain to grow more, which he says also explains why boys are better at math than girls.
21 Thursday Jun 2018
About a year ago I posted an anonymous poll asking readers What was your most recent score on an official professionally administered individual IQ test taken in the last 10 years? Of those who reported a score, the mean was 129 with a standard deviation of 21 (n = 93).
When I removed likely trolls–those who picked the most extreme IQs on the poll (160+ or 40 or less), the mean remained 129 but the SD shrunk to 15 (n = 84) with a range of 60 to 155.
This is very close to commenter Bruno’s estimate that the average IQ here is 125 and when you consider that a lot of people get tested on scales using outdated norms, it’s probably more like 127 with a range of 58 to 153.
Also, people are scored against national norms. If (U.S.) white noms are used (as is done in international research) it would reduce exactly to 125 and the SD would increase to 15.5 with a range of 53 to 152.
20 Wednesday Jun 2018
Below are my scores on the WISC-R at age 12:
Even though there were 12 subtests (2 of them optional: Span of attention & Visual planning) a hierarchical factor analysis of older Wechsler scales identified three major types of intelligence of (verbal, spatial, and memory), and a single general factor (g) at the top of the hierarchy.
So even though Wechsler subjectively divided the tests into verbal and performance scales, factor analysis gave a more objective answer.
The same logic applies to race: Even though we can look at say 12 different “populations”: East Asians, Ashkenazi Jews, Whites, Middle Easterners, South Asians, Arctic people, Andaman Islanders, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, Australoids, Congoids, Capoids, a hierarchal factor analysis of genomic phenotypes might identify three major factors “Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongolid” each of which could be divided into sub-factors.
There would also be a strong g factor at the top of the hierarchy, because we’re all human.
18 Monday Jun 2018
please place all off-topic comments for the week in this thread. They will not be posted in the main article.
Nice talk with Joe Rogen and Stephen Pinker:
18 Monday Jun 2018
The Bible claimed Adam was the first person but what does science say?
Scientists sometimes speak of the mitochondrial Eve or the Y chromosome Adam, but these were not literally the first humans, but rather the only humans whose maternal or paternal lineage still live on in every man and woman today.
According to Richard Dawkins, there was no first person because evolution happens so gradually that no single individual was sufficiently different enough from their parents to be considered a member of a new species (i.e. Homo sapiens).
But if there was no first member of a species, how can scientists measure how long a species has existed (a standard measure of evolutionary success)?
The simplest definition of a species is a group of organisms that are reproductively compatible. How reproductively compatible? At least more compatible than modern humans and Neanderthals were since these are often considered different species: The male offspring of such unions were infertile if they had a Neanderthal father.
So a species has clear boundaries when used on contemporaneous populations. We can often draw geographic lines telling us where one species begins and ends in space, but how do we draw such lines in time? When does a species begin and when does a species end? If everyone is the same species as their parents (in the sense that they’re technically reproductively compatible if close enough in age), then drawing a line between parent species and daughter species seems arbitrary and unscientific.
I propose that the first member of a species is he or she who could not produce fertile offspring with any fertile member of the parent species. So if modern humans evolved from Homo heidelbergensis, the first modern human is the first fertile person who could not produce fertile offspring of both sexes with at least some (likely the most archaic) fertile H. heidelbergensis. Similarly, the first heidelbergensis is the first fertile one who can produce fertile offspring of both sexes with at least some fertile erectus etc.
18 Monday Jun 2018
Biologists like to divide life forms into Kingdoms (plants vs animals) then subdivide those Kingdoms into Phylums and then subdivide those Phylums into Classes (reptiles vs mammals) etc. The taxonomic hierarchy (ranked from broadest to most specific)traditionally looked something like this:
Kingdom > Phylum > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species > Race
What I always found odd was that the only one of these ranks to be clearly defined was species and species is commonly defined as a group of organisms that can produce fertile offspring. However I think that definition is probably too inclusive. After all Neanderthals could interbreed with modern humans yet were not considered part of our species morphologically.
Thus I would use that definition for genus and use a more exclusive definition (a group that can produce fertile offspring regardless of the subgroup of father or sex of offspring). This should exclude Neanderthals from our species yet still keep them in our genus since there’s evidence that male Neanderthal hybrids fathered by Neanderthals were infertile.
This got me thinking: why not use the concept reproductive compatibility to easily define all the taxonomic categories (at least for sexually reproducing life)? Thus the taxonomic hierarchy could go from the most inclusive to most exclusive levels of reproductive compatibility. For example:
Kingdom: A group that does or does not reproduce sexually
Phylum: A group that could use each other as sex dolls
Class: A group that could technically have sex, but would not enjoy it
Order: A group that could enjoy having sex, even though no offspring are possible
Family: A group that can produce any offspring at all, fertile or not
Genus: A group that can produce fertile offspring
Species: A group that can produce fertile offspring regardless of offspring’s sex and what subgroup the father is
Race: A group that can produce fertile offspring of both sexes without increased risk of infant prematurity or low birth weight