More from Emil OW Kirkegaard:
There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding the use of IQ testing. It is a very complicated subject and the subject is easily dismissed due to a political agenda.
Scientists are often afraid to talk publicly about the findings of IQ related studies out of fear that they will be refused grants, possibly lose their job, or even threatened with physical violence. So it is a very complicated and politically sensitive subject (03:16).
Very early testing (e.g. name all of the Presidents of the United States) was not suitable for cross-cultural research (05:47). Today, we use tests like the Raven’s test, which is a pattern recognition test. It is a very basic test that doesn’t include any words and it is preferred for cross-cultural research.
There is another test that asks people from different cultures to draw men. The more people add to the “stick figure,” the more it contributes to the IQ. Although this is jut a rough approximation.
Another way to test for IQ is by analyzing a person’s decision time. For instance, there is a test where a person waits for a light to come on and a researcher simply measures how long it takes for the person to lift his or her finger between how long that it takes for the light to come on.
Kirkegaard states that these kinds of chronometric tests measure decision time and “two-thirds of the time is spent lifting the finger,” which not many people know (09:05). These tests do correlate with intelligence and have nothing to do with any kind of learning.
Child development specialists have not been able to permanently raise the IQ of low IQ groups, which suggests that IQ is fixed. There are some environmental things that work but they do not boost IQ, rather the opposite. Giving the answers beforehand or giving the test twice does not make the person smarter.
Another intervention is a program called Head Start (12:24). Head Start is a U.S. early intervention that was developed in the 60s for poor children and it was designed to boost intelligence and health.
Kirkegaard’s co-author “collected all the findings from this and found that the IQ score did go up,” but it was a question of finding out whether the IQ scores went up because of test-learning or did Head Start actually succeed in making children smarter (13:08). It was later determined that it was because of test learning.
There are language barriers to testing across cultures that can contribute to biases. For instance, if you take an English language test and give it to a Chinese person, the test will produce inaccurate results. The test should be in the person’s native language or you use a non-verbal test. Sometimes these assumptions can be validated (14:32).
In regards to using of intelligence to predict life outcome, a typical study will find an adolescent and give them an IQ test and then follow up with their life 20, 30 or even 50-60 years later. You assess how much money the person makes, were they convicted of serious crimes, basically assess how well they are doing in their life.
The general findings are quite good but not perfect at predicting who is who in later society. The correlations (15:49) “say early life intelligence and let’s say later life education will be about .5 or .6 or so, so this will mean that 40% or so variation in all education” is intelligence alone.
What’s more is that some personality types are quite good at predicting intelligence. For example, individuals with higher levels of conscientiousness (i.e. taking care of yourself, brushing your teeth) are healthier later in life. You can get similar results with other personality traits.
The U.S. has about a hundred years of testing between Blacks and Whites, and less for Hispanics. There is a 15-point IQ score gap between Whites and Blacks, which has fluctuated slightly while overall remaining constant throughout the years.
Asians in the U.S. are doing better than Whites when it comes to IQ metrics, even despite racist beliefs and once living in slave-like conditions. In India, the mean IQ is in the low to mid 80s.
East Asia scores higher than Whites with a mean of 105-108 and Singapore is the record holder of sometimes having 110 IQ scores (22:14). There are some African groups doing well when it comes to IQ, specifically South Africa (28:40). Whereas, the Somalians are the worst group Kirkegaard has examined to date.
Researchers study a refugee’s country of origin (IQ, crime, health, life outcome) and the selection processes at the receiving and sending end (38:23).
We currently have the technology to do pre-birth selective reading, which is called In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF. Scientists extract as many embryos from a woman, place the embryos in a petri dish with sperm, and then analyze.
Scientists wait for the embryos to divide, and if dividing healthily, the embryos are then examined further. This field is called Reproductive Genetics, and the process is sometimes referred to as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). IVF and PGD can be costly – costing roughly around $20,000 in the United States.
While costly, PGD can be viewed as an investment by families since they can choose the embryo that is most likely to grow into a child that has genetically desirable traits such as high intelligence which are correlated with favorable life outcomes.
In 10 years, DNA tests will be able to predict about half of the IQ variation (54:39).
There is a technology that is becoming more relevant and that is Iterated Embryo Selection, where multiple generations can be created in a lab based on the traits chosen by the parents. For more information on this topic, please refer to (55:00) of the video.