I take disagreement seriously...

when I find serious people disagreeing with me:

I greatly respect Peterson. And his video makes me question my dismissal of IQ testing as just being a test of a certain sort of intelligence.

But his examples don't (yet) convince me: he lists various sorts of success that can be used to determine if the IQ test is valid. Three of them are school success measures. And the fourth is job success: but I would freely admit that most jobs in Western cultures today demand the sort of intelligence that the IQ test measures.

So, I will say: if you live in a culture in which discursive thought and symbol manipulation are highly valued, then a test of your ability to engage in discursive thought and symbol manipulation will correlate closely with your success in that culture. But that does not mean in the least that IQ is a culturally neutral test of intelligence!


  1. I sympathize. To me it's much ,more plausible that there really are a whole bunch of different capabilities, rather than just one thing (like a Pentium vs a 286 to use a dated analogy :)). But the g people have a mountain of evidence. And the critics are often woeful.

  2. An outstanding presentation. He makes the key point well: g is a reified correlation. This is something people get wrong all the time, sometimes maliciously. For example when people object to "cultural" questions on IQ tests they usually commit howlers. In short: the questions they object to are usually biased *against* those with the highest IQ as predictor and biased *for* those who worse on the test as a whole. (People don't know what bias means.)

  3. I attended a talk (haven't sourced because it's so hard to google this) that IQ correlates with every known positive attribute (hence the term "G"): beauty, height, skill at any job, facial symmetry, and even athletic skills. So if true, then yes you will find e.g. top athletes with less IQ than lesser athletes, but in the aggregate the correlation will hold. That would be hard to explain away as a cultural bias. And the symbolic manipulation skill would likewise correlate with the others.

  4. It is culturally neutral in the sense that, regardless of your culture, the test will measure your aptitude to succeed in a society in which discursive thought and symbol manipulation are highly valued. The people in such a society tend to not care what your capabilities in some other society would be. So, if I'm a ǃKung hunter-gatherer considering making a career change and moving to the United States, and so I take an IQ test as part of my decision-making process, I would probably get a low score. "Hmmm," I might muse to myself, "that's odd. I'm quite good at getting along in life here and everybody I know tells me I'm pretty savvy and sharp as a tack." But "what everybody I know tells me" and the test are both right. I am smart at being a Kalahari hunter-gatherer and not-so-smart at living in modern America.


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