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Hypothesis: Musicality corelated to Intelligence

  1. Jun 30, 2004 #1
    Hypothesis: Musicality correlated to Intelligence

    Wouldn't it be interesting to include a test for musicality into general IQ tests?

    There's a well established corelation between insight into musical structures and intelligence. (At least this corelation has been established for insights into white classical music).

    Now if you would make intelligence tests where questions about rythmic structures are included (you can make them extremely complex, and they're highly abstract), I'm sure you would see black people score much better. And these tests would have to be audiologic, not graphic.

    Intelligence tests are clearly culturally relative, and gender biased, that's a well known fact (e.g. in many IQ tests there's an emphasis on spatial insight, which is clearly to the advantage of males). I think music can mediate and partly do away with this bias.

    What do you think? There must be tests like this, although I doubt it whether western white suburban male psychologists (those who invented and still draw up IQ tests) have any insight into rythm and music whatsoever. They would silently exclude this from their authoritarian test schemes.

    If anyone in here knows of studies of this kind, please let me know. :-)

    I would take my test to Brazil, to Congo and compare with white western suburbia.

    [Partly based on my fascination with the history of ethnomusicology, which is full of stories about the white colonial missionary who recorded the natives' music (Devilish! Devilish! Evil!) but who also intended to destroy it. Thank god, later musicologists discovered highly mathematical patterns in many of these lost musical traditions and concluded that this body of structures was an educational tool, which stimulated and trained deeply "subconscious intelligence", embodied intelligence. (A concept way too revolutionary and threatening to white man).
    And here we are with an interesting difference between rational Cartesian man, and Afroman, who's intelligence is not separated artificially from his body.
    Again, thank God, some smart musicologists won't fall prey to the horrific terror of western academia and deny the value of embodied musicality and its inherent forms of high intelligence.]
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2004
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  3. Jun 30, 2004 #2


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    It's an interesting thought. I don't know anything about relationships between intelligence and music, other than that it was always easier to memorize things when sung to a silly tune.
  4. Jun 30, 2004 #3
    Classical-Music Fans May Have More Brains

    Classical-Music Fans May Have More Brains
    By Melinda Bargreen
    Seattle Times music critic

    One of the most fascinating of all medical-research subjects — especially to those interested in the arts — has been the relationship of music to brain function. Classical-music lovers are really going to like the results of recent British and Italian studies that offer one explanation for individual preferences for classical versus pop music: The former may require more brainpower.

    A recent issue of BBC Music Magazine reports the studies of the dementia patients of Dr. Raj Persaud of Maudsley Hospital in London, from which Persaud concludes that there's a link between musical taste and intellectual function. As brainpower diminishes in dementia patients who have previously liked classical music, the patients sometimes begin to prefer pop music.

    Complete text at http://www.lauralee.com/news/classicalbrains.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Jun 30, 2004 #4
    True, but g correlates with most mental activities, so it is not really a surprise.

    How does "audiologic" relate to the premise of traditional IQ testing viz. academic predictive value? Furthermore, considering that most valid IQ tests are highly g loaded, and knowing what we know about g, it would follow that the median score on such an IQ test would not deviate very much from current tests.

    Here is the problem with your line of reasoning: you seem to be striving to excogitate a method whereby all human groups, genders, cultures and races will have the same average score on an IQ test. Is it the IQ test's fault that men tend to be better at visual-spatial tasks than women and that women tend to be slightly better in verbal fields? Don't blame the test for illustrating differences among groups in relation to intellectual efficacy. To make "all groups equal" in relation to testing would negate the entire purpose of IQ testing.

    You're probably correct, seeing that although there are musical geniuses of distinction, these people typically do not advance the technological, philosophical or scientific aspects of civilization, ergo it was never the purpose of psychologists to measure this sort of talent. Although musical talent probably correlates to IQ to a certain degree, I wouldn't assume necessarily that Mozart had an IQ of 180 based on his musical genius. Again, you are speaking of extra-intellectual ability not usually associated with the traditional purpose of IQ testing. Music falls under "creativity" and the psychological community is still in its infant stages of creativity test design.

    Yeah it's all whitey's fault.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2004
  6. Jun 30, 2004 #5
    Well, there's an entire history of how certain representational regimes have come to dominate entire cultures, which makes these "ideologies of representation" cross-culturally relative. In this sense it might be interesting to see whether "audiologic" tests give different results for different groups of people, compared to traditional graphic tests. (I'm sure that people from cultures with a strong oral tradition, will score better).

    That's not the problem with my line of reasoning (see above), that's the crux of it. I am trying to indicate that by simply changing the representational regime of the IQ test, you will have clear differences , not "the same average score", as you say. One can then say: Is it the Audiological Rythm IQ Test's fault that white people score so badly? Ok.

    That's the narrowmindedness of psychologists, who have an extremely limited view on what it means to "advance the technological, philosophical or scientific aspects of civilization". I think most highly intelligent people (in your traditional sense), would strongly disagree with you. Music is a driving force behind civilization as a whole, and "these people" do clearly influence all aspects of society to an enormous degree (the world would be a lot different had popular music not helped in liberating both youth and women and sexuality, which has lead to more women in academia, which in turn has lead to new "feminine" layers of scientific practise, which in turn leads to a whole new context in which science is embedded.)

    Maybe I'm going too far here, but I think you get the point.

    I rephrase: it is probably not because Einstein liked to play music (and thought it to be more important than his scientific work), that he came to be a genius, although I'm not certain. Had Einstein not liked music, maybe he wouldn't have become a scientist. Pure speculation. But both can be very strongly corelated (so strongly in fact that they're inseperable). And this would imply that music definitely plays a sustaining role in advancing science. (Pure speculation, again). Hehe, maybe there wouldn't be any science at all, if there weren't music. I refer here to Leibniz's letters, where he writes that without music, he couldn't think, nor write, nor practise mathematics. (Very interesting letters, you should read them once). His entire body of work, breathes music, and he often uses musical metaphors to explain and build mathematical theory.

    (I know this last thought is too farfetched, but still...).

    About whitey, indeed, the destruction of many musical traditions is entirely whitey's fault.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2004
  7. Jun 30, 2004 #6
    Well, you are basically saying that you can make a million legitimate IQ tests, which all give a million different end results, without one of them telling us anything more generally valid than "on this particular test, one out of a million, men on average score X and women on average score Y".

    In short, IQ tests have a purely tautological value, nothing more.

    And hence, they have no truth value, except for a purely "evenemential" truth [sorry, I'm french, you do understand the word "événémentiel"].

    IQ tests are basically good for a group of people saying: we use this particular test to single this particular person out, because we want this person to be singled out (that's the tautology of it).

    That's fine with me. :-)
  8. Jun 30, 2004 #7
    Fair enough, but let's be sure to call apples apples. Your test and IQ testing, though there may be some correlation due to the g factor, are guaging two entirely different aspects of human cognition, hence your hypothetical test cannot be considered a test of intelligence in the traditional logical, visual-spatial, verbal sense.
  9. Jun 30, 2004 #8


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    Well, based on what you've described so far, I would expect that someone with a higher "musical IQ" or whatever you want to call it, but still a lower traditional IQ would not perform as well in our current educational system. Probably (yes, I said probably, I'm just winging it on this one), measures of IQ correlate well enough with school performance because the IQ tests the same skill set that our educational system uses for teaching, namely, written language and drawings. Any effective teacher knows that students learn by a variety of learning styles, and it may be that our educational system just isn't using the right approach to teaching some of our population. I wouldn't go so far to say everybody has equal ability in everything if just taught right, but some people may have abilities that we are not allowing to shine through. I'm just thinking of those people who can memorize lyrics to an amazing number of songs, and recall just the right song or movie quote for nearly any occassion, but then struggle with a similar memorization task in the classroom when it's just a written list of words rather than something set to music.

    On the other hand, it may all just be a matter of semantics. So, we define verbal and math ability as education and artistic ability as a talent, but that's probably just the bias of the person with strong math and verbal skills who can't draw more than a stick figure or whistle more than one note claiming art isn't a skill.

    There is something that is somewhat a measure of "musical IQ." Actually, two things I can think of. When I was in grade school, all the kids were screened for musical aptitude to determine who should be recommended to take music lessons in the limited number of slots available. It consisted of things such as playing two notes and asking which one was higher pitch, or playing two rhythms and asking which was faster. Then, there are auditions, which put your musical ability to the real test. Auditions aren't just used to select performers for plays or concerts, but to select applicants to schools for fine arts.
  10. Jun 30, 2004 #9
    I’ve never seen anything that supports most of the statements you make including this one --- that IQ has “purely tautological value” --- that IQ measures nothing but IQ test taking abilities. Is there support for this conclusion?

    From what I’ve learned there is quite a bit of evidence that IQ tests aren't simply measurements of how well one takes IQ tests but, instead, IQ has correlations with real life achievements and activities. That it is a good predictor of certain types of achievement. IQ has a high correlation with school, job performance, years of education and a variety of other life achievements. As this paper from the American Psychological Association expressly indicates (see about half way down the linked page)

    The link -


    …and this article from Scientific American indicates, there are many sources that indicate otherwise.

    http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/~reing...98gottfred.html [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  11. Jun 30, 2004 #10
  12. Jun 30, 2004 #11
    But who decides what the value is of that "traditional logical, visual-spatial, verbal test" of intelligence? And who invented it? And with which criteria are they changing the test? (I can imagine they do change it, from time to time, since our societies are changing fast; I would say, there must be a difference between the early 20th century, when culture in general, and hence socialisation and education was much more graphic-audiologic -- the tradition of reading aloud and storytelling -- than our culture today, which is clearly more that of the image and visuality.)

    So really, I wouldn't know. Is there some kind of psychometric government or parliament out there? Or maybe some Oracle which says "this is a valid IQ test"? Tell me.

    I don't go with the flow here, I'm sorry.


    No, to be serious, as always, to a great extent, history, politics, and culture decide what "science" is all about.

    I think I've made my point now.
  13. Jun 30, 2004 #12
    Well, we clearly differ here. I'm from a French academic tradition, which is highly critical when it comes to universalistic psychology concepts. And this tradition obviously uses a much more contextual approach to this problem.

    You say: IQ has a good correlation with "real life achievements and activities". Of course it does! But that's precisely your problem. You are essentially a conservative. Since you use a representational technique ("the IQ test" -- basically a modernist form of representation), to represent things you find out there in a given reality. Which means that you duplicate and replicate a socio-cultural reality without questioning neither that reality itself, nor the function which your very representational tool (the IQ test) plays in maintaining the status quo of that very same reality.

    To put it in Wittgenstein's terms: your system of representation merely represents what you want it to represent. It is a weapon. It has no truth value.

    And don't think this is mere smalltalk, since IQ tests ARE a tool, a weapon, they're being used everywhere, from job sollicitations to university admissions to insurance applications.

    I hope I'm making myself clear. IQ tests were invented a few decades ago, by a small sociological minority of people, who used it to their own benefit (tautologically, that is), and to maintain a social status quo ("negroes score bad"). Please don't think that your IQ test is a "neutral" tool, devoid of historical context. It is not.

    So here we are. You basically say: an apple is an apple because it is an apple and I don't know how crazy one would have to be if one were to call an apple something else than an apple. That scares me. It ruins my simplistic concept of reality. And it is revolutionary. I don't want to change things. I'd like to keep them as they are.

    Really, that's what a lot of (Anglo-American) pseudo-psychology comes down to.
  14. Jun 30, 2004 #13
    shonagon - I think you’re a guy who just refuses to give concrete examples – or provide support for assertions. Merely throwing out labels here and there doesn’t mean or say much of anything. It has no value. I really can’t talk to you until you decide you’ll finally put some meat on all of the unsupported assertions you line up behind with every post. So I’ll ask --- again.

    Give some applicable examples of how one in the “French tradition” would approach the issue of intelligence and why is that better than the traditional approach. Then - how does that specifically apply here – when one is dealing with the subject of psychometric testing?

    My “problem” ---- it’s not a problem it’s a correlation with achievement at school, on the job, brain size, fast nerve conduction and reaction time. And there is a coorelation between IQ scores and the degree of genetic relatedness ---- no matter how you want to twist and turn this. That not “my problem” – it just is.

    But assuming for argument’s sdake there is a “problem” there ---- please define specifically what the “problem” is or isn’t ---
    Yet another simple label – thrown here then thrown there. Again --- What are you talking about? And if I am “essentially a conservative” as you say--- how do you reach that conclusion, and why is this status either bad, good, and/or indifferent as applies to this issue? Be more direct, more specific --

    Please --- your not even saying anything here. Look shonagon, give me something, anything, that isn’t a ‘representation’ of the ‘stuff’ we “find out there in a given reality” --- No one can crawl out of their own head --- not you, not me, not Abraham Lincoln -- so, how do you, using the “French tradition” do anything other than “represent things you find out there…” ----

    Like Vinny said in My Cousin Vinny - 'Fan that out a little, how do I know there ain't a bunch of ones under there' –--- SO, in other words, give me some examples of when I “duplicate and replicate a scio-cultural reality without questioning ...”

    OK --- it has no “truth value” --- because, as you assert (once more without prior support) my “representation merely represents what want it to represent.” – Could you be any more vague? What could be more universial? Again ---- you’re saying nothing here. Nothing.

    What? What are you talking about? Could you find a way to provide real examples that support some of this apparent double talk mush this seems to be – Show your work. Where or what is it in my post(s) that leads you to the conclusion that what I’ve said ---- after it’s all done --- is reducable to “an apple is an apple” -- (please do that expressly and specifically -- stating what I’ve said using real statements in context --- no labels, no metaphors)

    Again --- considering the above - it really isn’t possible to talk with you until you either support your assertions and/or provide examples -
  15. Jul 1, 2004 #14
    Tigers, I think this is not a very useful discussion. I can give you a list of people in the french critical academic tradition, who have all been analysing Anglo-American psychometric traditions and social sciences for decades now.

    There's nothing wrong with labels. They're used to think. When I say you are a conservative, and I give a clear argument as to why I think this is so, I am using a label, but with reason.

    Now some sources you might consider reading, in the context of the critique of classical (oops Label!) "modernist" (oops Label!) psychology (oops Label!). (Just the more well known, I think they even made it to American (oops Label!) academia):

    -G. Deleuze & F. Guattari, "Anti-Oedipe, Capitalisme et Schizophrénie I" (about the intricate relationship between bourgeois thought, imperialism, science, capitalism and modernist psychology). --> very interesting when referring to IQ tests as a tool which helps sustain a specific social status quo.
    -G. Deleuze & F. Guattari, "Mille Plateaux, Capitalisme et Schizophrénie II", (famous work where structuralist psychology is demystified). (See Deleuze's entire body of work since the 1950s)
    -Derrida, J. "De la grammatologie" (philosophical exploration of the dynamics of representation, and about how modernist social sciences and psychology grew to use very specific representational regimes which are linked to projects like colonialism). (See also Derrida's entire body of work since the 1950s).
    -Foucault, M. "Les mots et les choses", specifically about the history of representation, and how representational ideologies shift over time. Famous work showing the intricate relationship between scientific representations and broader socio-cultural change and politics. (See also M. Foucault's entire body of later work, from the 1960s onwards, especially his work on biopower).
    -Baudrillard, J. countless works on how psychology as a "science" stands in relation with the commodification and technocratization of the life-world.
    -Social sciences and psychology as social constructs: an entire academic tradition already exists working on this topic.

    There's a huge academic movement writing from the perspective of postcolonialism, exploring the context in which eurocentric "science" and it's "tools" (like IQ tests) grew as a political instrument to control, manipulate and govern others (e.g. in the colonies).

    I could extend this bibliography with countless more works.

    It's strange that so few (American) people have actually learned to critique their own science and lack the most basic sense of self-reflexivity. In the French (and more generally European) tradition this is a prerequisite and it is embedded in all academic curriculums.

    I thought we could have a more philosophical debate on the nature of psychology as a science (and on its psychometric offshoot as a very politically, culturally and socially problematic branche.)
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2004
  16. Jul 1, 2004 #15


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    Ah, Derrida!, Foucault!, Baudrillard! Bushwa.
  17. Jul 1, 2004 #16

    Well, have you read them? What do you think of this french tradition, which, as I understand it, is relatively well known in the Anglosaxon world?

    (I know they used to be "fashionable" thinkers in the U.S., but that's probably because they aren't well understood and not read in french -- you know, the notion of "post-modernism" was invented by some Americans, who simply weren't able to understand these thinkers, and so they quickly lumped them together under one name, to make things easy; it's the typical American way of commodifying things; while of course they're very different, highly complex and they changed the way we think about the social sciences and psychology.
    Moreover, everything that comes out of Europe is fashionable for Americans, so nothing new there.)
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2004
  18. Jul 1, 2004 #17
    No labels are used to bypass thinking --- the substance behind your conclusions is what shows thinking. And for some reason – you just absolutely refuse to provide that. I suspect that documented refusal speaks for you --

    I do agree with one conclusion of yours. And one that is actually supported by the content of this thread --- further discussion is pointless until you decide to provide supporting substance, the rationale behind your conclusions, the laid out reasons for your many, many assertions, as has been requested behind each of your posts --- I or anyone else can cut and paste book lists off the Net –
  19. Jul 1, 2004 #18

    I think I provided quite some stuff to talk about in this and other posts of this thread. But you do not seem to notice any of it.

    No problem. The thread remains here, maybe other people will be interested to explore some philosophical issues surrounding the forms of representation which are used in IQ tests and which are debatable as to their cross-cultural validity and relevance.
  20. Jul 1, 2004 #19


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    I've read some Baudrillard in translation. Also Zizik and Lacan. No Derrida or Foucault. What you say about commoditization may well be true, but on the other hand I am aware of the power of the French language to suggest wisdom where only verbal cleverness is present. Perhaps commoditization, common-denominator-ization, is what was needed to display these thinkers as they really are.
  21. Jul 2, 2004 #20

    Mmmm. I think they're rather interesting. Lacan and Zizek are a bit over the top I think. But Michel Foucault was a very good historian (most historians would agree here), and Jacques Derrida was a fine philosopher who changed philosophy forever.

    They do indeed use language to formulate a critique of representation. I don't see how they should use statistics to do so.
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