Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Psychometric g: The Last Man Standing

  1. Feb 17, 2004 #1
    There is a 2003 book out titled The Scientific Study of General Intelligence: Tribute to Arthur R. Jensen and edited by Helmuth Nyborg. Matt Nuenke, in his WEBSITE, notes the following.


    Nyborg, in the interest of fairness, invited not only admirers of Jensen's work but detractors as well to contribute chapters to the book. As he explains:

    "I, in fact, also asked a number of outspoken opponents of g-theory to write a chapter, and reserved a full part of the book for them, with the explicit purpose of seeking a balanced presentation of g theory. Unfortunately, I did not have much success in reaching this goal. One opponent said he had over the years had so many occasions to criticize g that he would consider it inappropriate to once more present his critical points in a book of this kind. He nobly added that his respect for Arthur Jensen was so great that he would rather see the book appear as laudatory as could be. Other opponents were rather brisk: 'I do not want to contribute to such a book'. Still others, such as Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman, could neither find the time nor the motive to write a chapter. From the balance point of view, this is regrettable because science progresses best by first presenting all the pros and cons and then making an informed decision. But then again, it is a free country. Perhaps Robert Sternberg from Yale University is not directly opposing g theory, but he has his reservations, so I asked him to write a chapter for this honorary volume for Arthur Jensen. Surely he did. He paid back by comparing Arthur Jensen to a naive little boy living in his little house of g, too afraid to leave his narrow site and find out that the world outside has many more houses, that are much more interesting and, not to forget, also Sternberg's own tower! As an editor I welcomed the scientific aspects of Bob's chapter, but I must admit that it caused me personal grief to see the undeserving ad hominem remarks about Art's immaturity, in particular in a tribute such as the present. I decided, nevertheless, to include Bob's chapter, and will invite the reader to form his/her own judgment in the matter."

    What is noteworthy with the above is that opponents of the concept of g and its implications for differences between races, has virtually run out of opponents.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2004 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That's called, "sandbagging," Nachtwolf, and any scientist worth his salt will see it coming and avoid it. Nyborg, of course, knew this and capitalized on it. He wins either way: as it worked out, he can claim he has no worthy opponents. If someone had volunteered, he would have sandbagged them. Win-win pseudoscientific situation.
  4. Feb 18, 2004 #3
    1. What is "sandbagging" again? Because I'm unfamiliar with your usage of the term, and dictionary.com says it's

    "To downplay or misrepresent one's ability in order to deceive someone, especially in gambling"

    which has nothing to do with psychometric g or anything else.

    2. Nyborg didn't "capitalize" on anything. Someone did respond with criticism of Jensen's g factor approach, and it was Sternberg, whose writings were rather unprofessional but were presented unadulterated in the book; read the quote I provided.

  5. Feb 18, 2004 #4
    It's also worth noting that these circumstances are far from unknown to Jensen.



    (Jensen says:)

    When my book Bias in Mental Testing came out in 1980, Time magazine ran a full-page story about it. Then they got so many complaints about that article because it didn't tear down my position at all. The same writer called me and said that they had gotten so many complaints that they had promised people they would bring out another article on the same subject after a certain amount of opinion had accumulated about my book. They would report this and it would satisfy the opposition.

    Then they called me perhaps a month later and asked me if I could suggest anyone who might disagree with the main conclusions of this book, because they hadn't been able to find anyone. I said, "Well, have you contacted Kamin?" And I mentioned a couple of other people. They said, "Yes, we thought of them first, but what they have to say sounds so weak that it wouldn't satisfy our readership that we've done a job on this thing. Is there anyone else you could suggest?"

    "So I mentioned a couple of very competent psychometricians around the country. I didn't know quite what their stands were, but I knew they were competent people who would be capable of criticizing this type of work and would likely have seen my book by that time. They called them, but they got nothing that they could use against me, so they never did the article. Now that would have been news itself, but it didn't make the news.
  6. Feb 20, 2004 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Kamin et al?

    What material - in the public domain - is there on Kamin's disagreements (if any) with Jensen's conclusions?

    and the 'couple of other people'?

    and the 'a couple of very competent psychometricians around the country'?
  7. Feb 20, 2004 #6
    Re: Kamin et al?


    Kamin also critiques Lynn:

    Kamin is one of a group of IQ-heredity critics that includes Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Stephen J. Gould. Here is one of the well-known books by Lewontin, Rose, and Kamin:

    Here is another well-known IQ-heredity critique book you might be interested in:

    The book Arthur Jensen: Consensus and Controvery is not as well known, but the critiques are not as weak as those in the aforementioned books:

    There are a few points in the Miele interview with Jensen...

    ...where Jensen does not name every person he refers to. If you are looking for critiques of Jensen, you don't have to look very far. The response to much of everything he writes is massive. Probably every university in the English-speaking first world carries the Harvard Education Review and holds Jensen's 1969 HER article along with its numerous responses received in the months following its initial publication.

    BTW, if you would like, you can read about 50 pages of the Miele interview of Jensen online by using Amazon's Search inside this book feature. (But once you burn your ~50 page limit, you will never be able to read any more of the book online.)

  8. Feb 22, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A Historian's Look at the g Factor, an extract (referring to the chapter, "A Little History":
    "4. Jensen's coverage of more recent history is also spotty. He never
    even mentions the names of Stephen Jay Gould (1981) and Leon Kamin
    (1974), two of his most visible opponents in the IQ controversy.
    Neither does he explicitly acknowledge some changes in his own own
    views over the years, which may have been partly inspired by his
    critics. In 1969, for example, Jensen declared that "the best single
    overall estimate of the heritability of measured intelligence" was .81;
    in 1980 this estimate fell to "probably near .75," and in 1981 (p. 103)
    to "a central tendency around .70" (Jensen, 1969, 1980, 1981; pp. 51,
    244, 103). The present book states, "the broad heritability of IQ is
    about .40 to .50 when measured in children, about .60 to .70 in
    adolescents and young adults, and approaches .80 in later maturity"
    (p. 169). Clearly, Jensen's heritability estimates have been drifting
    lower and becoming more nuanced over the years."

    Also a curious note on Jensen and Burt: "In the present book
    he deals with the intervening "Burt Scandal" only briefly and
    allusively in a single footnote (pp. 198-199). Somewhat disingenuously,
    he cites only himself as having "brought into question" the accuracy
    and authenticity of Burt's reported findings on separated identical
  9. Feb 23, 2004 #8
    The spy who Kamin from the cold

    The properties of being visible, on the one hand, and of offering unique substantive critique, on the other hand, do not necessarily concur in every instance in which they might at least occur separately. As Jensen has written:

    Way back in 1972, at the Davis campus of the University of California, I was having lunch with the evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky. He had invited me to come to Davis and discuss the manuscript of my book Educability and Group Differences (Jensen, 1973), on which I had solicited his comments. (He was a respectful and friendly critic.) On that same day, the campus newspaper gave notice of a speech to be delivered by one of the leading figures in the Creationist crusade that aimed to banish Darwin from the biology textbooks used in California high schools. The article also stated that this Biblical Fundamentalist had challenged Dobzhansky (who was then the world's foremost expert on the genetic theory of evolution) to a debate on Creationism, and that Dobzhansky had declined the offer. I asked him why. He said he had long since reached the conclusion that any argument between persons who were not in at least ninety percent agreement on the issues was a total waste from a scientific standpoint, although he conceded that a poorly informed audience might find it entertaining.

    Jensen visited numerous popular critiques in The g Factor. If those visitings missed any criticisms that had been catalogued by Gould and Kamin, then Jensen might be at fault for omission. The Kamin work cited by Fancher, The science and politics of IQ (1974), can be read and searched in its entirety at Questia...

    ...for readers of the present article who might wish to investigate further.

    It is characteristic in The g Factor for Jensen to give relatively cursory treatment to subjects dealt with (often by himself) comprehensively elsewhere, and to cite the respective comprehensive treatments. In the case of the Burt Affair, Jensen cited Jensen (1992b) and Mackintosh, ed. (1995).

    Actually, in a statement introducing the reader to the fact that Burt's 1966 findings are routinely not used, Jensen cites the author who "first brought into question" the accuracy and authenticity of Burt's findings, Jensen (1974a). Jensen's next statement, summarized above, directs the reader to Jensen's and Mackintosh's comprehensive reviews.

    As to whether or not Jensen was unique in originally identifying questions of accuracy and authenticity in Burt's 1966 work, he offers this history to interviewer Frank Miele:

    Miele: Leon Kamin, one of the principal critics of Burt's work, yours, and hereditarian research in general, once claimed that you only admitted that Burt's twin correlations were faked -- and admission you've now told us you've taken back -- and took credit for finding the fraud, after he [Kamin] called you on it in a debate....

    Jensen: After Burt died, I went to London and obtained from Burt's secretary all the reprints of all of the papers Burt ever wrote on twins and other kinships in his studies of the heritability of IQ. As these were scattered in many different journals, I thought it would be of value to behavioral geneticists to have all of Burt's data summarized in a single article. In preparing this article, which cnosisted of listing Burt's correlation data for each type of kinship in separate tables, the numerical errors in his reports became clearly apparent; I found some 20 such errors, including the three correlations of 0.77 or 0.771 that Kamin suspected were fraudulent because they all had the same value. I wrote a detailed article on Burt's errors and submitted it to the British Journal of Psychology. After a long delay, they rejected it and I submitted it to Behavior Genetics, which published it the same year that Kamin's book came out. When I learned that Kamin, in an address given I believe at a meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, has mentioned three of Burt's errors as the basis of his claim of fraud, I credited Kamin for this observation in a footnote in my paper in Behavior Genetics.

    (Intelligence, Race, and Genetics.pp100-101)

  10. Feb 23, 2004 #9
    The g Factor is not intended as a refutation of Gould or Kamin's views. If you are interested in seeing Jensen respond to Gould, you might be interested in his article here:


    Bear in mind that while Jensen seems to think that Gould wrote an interesting book; I couldn't disagree more, and the only thing less interesting than Gould's own arguments put forth against Jensen in his Mismeasure of Man is Jensen's response to those arguments.

  11. Feb 23, 2004 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Gould and Kamin on g?

    Perhaps a PF member may be able to post a link or two to online material containing Gould's and Kamin's commentary (and refutations?) of the g factor and g-nexus?

    hitssquad and Nachtwolf, would you care to comment on the historian's obsevation that "Neither does he [Jensen] explicitly acknowledge some changes in his own own views over the years, which may have been partly inspired by his critics. In 1969, for example, Jensen declared that 'the best single overall estimate of the heritability of measured intelligence' was .81; in 1980 this estimate fell to 'probably near .75,' and in 1981 (p. 103) to 'a central tendency around .70' (Jensen, 1969, 1980, 1981; pp. 51, 244, 103). The present book states, 'the broad heritability of IQ is about .40 to .50 when measured in children, about .60 to .70 in adolescents and young adults, and approaches .80 in later maturity' (p. 169). Clearly, Jensen's heritability estimates have been drifting lower and becoming more nuanced over the years."
  12. Feb 24, 2004 #11
    Not especially, since I doubt that my comments will have the slightest effect, but here:

    Jensen isn't running scared. He's accumulated a huge pool of research to support his positions, and the bulk of the psychometric community endorses his positions. So he doesn't seem to feel any need to explain his shifts in position, which are overall pretty mild.

    But he does explain them when he is asked to do so; that book I keep referring to, "Coversations with Arthur Jensen" has Meile asking him about the subject. Jensen reversed his opinion on the B/W IQ gap (he used to think it was purely environmental) and he reversed his position on Sir Burt twice (he said that he should have given him the benefit of the doubt to begin with) and he's become far more accutely aware of the relative nature of IQ and of the fact that it's only a vehicle for measuring the contstruct g, not g itself.

    With regards to his changes in heritability estimates, these haven't moved very far. 80% to 70% to "approaching 80%" just aren't big shifts. I think it's pretty clear that he has refined his position, but the entire psychonetric community has been refining its position here, not just Jensen. It's now the common understanding throughout the field that the heritability rises with age, approaching 80% - at least, this is what the American Psychological Association reports.

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Psychometric g: The Last Man Standing
  1. Mature man (Replies: 24)

  2. Man on mars. (Replies: 5)

  3. Psychometric Testing (Replies: 1)

  4. The This Man phenomenon (Replies: 20)