Re: META: List allowables & cults (was DirkJOIN)

From: Olie Lamb (
Date: Wed Mar 08 2006 - 18:14:26 MST

Since this is getting semi-off-topic, thisis my last post on the issue...
Contains one brief sl4 relevant bit, which is a rehash.

On 3/9/06, Shane Legg <> wrote:
>... However if you look at the actual research that's
>been done into IQ testing it's solid. Indeed in terms of various metrics,
>such as consistency of results

Oh, I don't think there's any doubt about /self-consistency/. But tests to
determine, say, the strength of a person's belief in their powers of
telekinesis (which, according to a believer acquaintance, is a vital
component of telekinesis abilitie) could have consistency of .99, and still
not be an objective measure of their actual telekinesis abilities.

There is a lot of consistency amongst similarly weighted tests. However,
tests that differently weigh different aspects do give inconsistent global
results. F'rinstance, I think Spearman said that mathsy skills correspond
something like 4.5 times as strongly with global intelligence as do graphic
drawing skills. However, tests covering a range of skills in other
creative-artsy fields (eg: sculpture) have a high correlation with drawing

> and the ability of the test scores to
> predict future performance in mentally demanding tasks (e.g. future
> academic performance), IQ tests are THE most rigorously validated
> and proven psychological tests that exist.

Various social skills also have high correlations, and although I don't
know, I'd bet that some measures of various social skills would be strong
indicators of business performance.

The skills needed for good performance on IQ tests are similar to the skills
needed for academic performance up to mid undergraduate level. Ignoring the
"intelligence" aspect, it's no surprise that the results closely correlate.

On something of a tangent, one of my favorite quotes about such IQ tests
comes from a summary of results table from a book written in the 50s (I read
it more than a decade ago, and it was mostly crap - then again, I was
looking for something very different)

"160+ You could probably write a better test than the one you were just

> They reliably measure
> something very important, there's really no doubt about it.

Yes. No argument from me, or probably the vast majority of psychologists.

I think that it is appropriate to refer to what IQtests measure as being an
aspect of intelligence.

**SL4-relevant bit**

What I don't think that it is appropriate to say is that IQ tests measure
what could be accurately and objectively described as "overall
intelligence". More importantly, I don't think that IQ tests accurately
measure "general intelligence". There are too many specialty skills
(intelligences) that interfere.

> <snip> Very few people have ever done or even seen
> a real IQ test.

All too true

> The debate is whether or not what they measure should be called
> "intelligence".
That's really my point.

Even if we have a common stipulative definition of "intelligence", it is
very difficult to determine whether a test is measuring that thing.

Analogy: Health.

Many people have a concept of overall "health". Its components include
cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, lack of disease, life expectancy...

You can measure those components, but it's difficult to measure "health"
Measuring cardiovascular fitness and lack of disease, and giving a number to
the combination is just a "combination measure". Is it really an objective
measure of health? How can we determine what is an objective measure of
health except through those ... uh... "partisan" measures?

How do you determine if the measure is measuring the _idealistic concept_
you want it to?

> Something like 90% of the population believe that
> they have an above average IQ...

Yeah, and even if they admit they aren't the best academically, they often
think they've "got it figured out" - that they don't need those academic /
logic smarts, because they can figure out things that the brainiacs
obviously can't (eg: politics, morality...)

One thing that I think contributes to this outlook is that there are smart
people who disagree.

Which is perfectly sensible, but makes them /appear/ no "better at figuring
it out" than anyone else.

-- Olie

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