Jordan Peterson – Controversial Facts about IQ

Okay, now… down to cognitive ability.
Well… How can you conceptualize intelligence? Well, this is a major problem, because your initial conceptualization determines, in part, the strategies that you’re going to use to investigate intelligence. And… when you say… when you pare a sentence down to “What is intelligence?”… – the sentence is problematic, because part of it is a question about “if and how such a thing might manifest itself in the world?” There’s a fact out there -or set of facts- that corresponds to intelligence but the other problem is, well, what do you *mean* when you say “intelligence”? And you kinda have to nail that down, if you’re gonna have a conversation about intelligence that doesn’t go entirely astray. And so you’ve got a definitional problem as well as an empirical problem. And so… There have been -and this was especially true in the 1990s- People have been studying intelligence, IQ intelligence, since the 1920s and it’s a very well established branch of psychology. One of the things I have to tell you about it -IQ research- is that if you don’t buy IQ research, you might as well throw away all the rest of Psychology. And the reason for that is that… The psychologists, first of all, who “developed” intelligence testing, were among the early psychologists who instantiated the statistical techniques that all psychologists use to verify and test all of their hypotheses. So you end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And the “IQ people” have defined intelligence in a more stringent and accurate way than we’ve been able to define almost any other psychological construct, and so… if you toss out the one that’s the most well defined then you’re kind of stuck with the problem of what are you going to do with all the ones that you have left over that are nowhere near as well defined or as well measured or as… or whose predictive validity is much less and has been demonstrated with much less vigor and clarity. Anyways, despite all that, people have posited a number of different intelligences and reasonably so, because, if you think of intelligence as… that which might move you forward successfully in the world; obviously, there’s a fair number of phenomena that are associated with individuals that might fit into that category. So we have… … people have made these distinctions. Bob Sternberg, for example, has distinguished between practical vs analytical intelligence and he kind of thinks of practical as like “street smarts” and has attempted to dissociate that from the kind of analytical intelligence that …that characterizes more straight IQ research. I don’t think he’s done it successfully as well, at all and since the 1990s interest in his practical intelligence has declined precipitously, because… when it is matched head-to-head with standard IQ intelligence the IQ intelligence eats up all the variability. What’s really happened, as far as I can tell so far, is that when we’re trying to predict people’s course through life IQ does a very good job, and then one of the traits does a very good job as well which is conscientiousness – but it doesn’t do as good a job as IQ. Now, that partly might be because we can’t measure conscientiousness very well. We’re stuck with self reports or maybe I could gather peer reports about you or I could gather your parents’ reports about you, or teacher’s reports and each of those seems to pick up a little bit more of the pattern, because you know yourself, but other people know you differently than you know yourself, and there’s still some accuracy in that. You can get multiple rater reports of something like conscientiousness, and that will up its predictive validity. But, in the final analysis, the best you seem to be able to do with conscientiousness is about a .4 correlation with long term performance, whereas with IQ, in complex jobs, you can probably get .5 and maybe .6. So .5 is 25% of the variants -you’re going to square it- .6 is 36% of the variants and .4 is 16% of the variants. So even at the “low end”… let’s say, “high end” for conscientiousness is .4… or 16%, “Low end” for IQ is .5 or 25%, “Low end” estimates of IQ make it 1.5 times more powerful than the “high end” estimates of conscientiousness. And I think that’s about right. You’d think “Why do we even have to debate this”? Because it’s so bloody obvious to me that intelligence is a major predictor of life success; I mean… You people – I’ve measured the IQ of University of Toronto people- you know… People in this room who have an IQ of less than 120 are rare. But why? Well… Smart people go to University… now, is that actually a contentious statement? Well it shouldn’t be a contentious statement; it’s self-evident! Universities are actually set up so that smart people could expand their abilities, that is why they were there! You’re selected on the basis of assessments that are essentially there to assess something like intelligence. *Idea from a Student* Yes, but that is part of the controversy – is it *reasonable*? And this is a measurement issue. And that’s why I’ve been instructing you, to some degree, in Psychometrics, because we actually know how to do this, we know how to answer that question. So, let’s take a look at how intelligence has been assessed and why. And then, you can make up your own mind. Anyways, here’s some of the examples of other “forms” of intelligence. And so, then the question is: what does it mean to have a different *form* of Intelligence? Would Form A and Form B be completely uncorrelated? Like extroversion and say, neuroticism? Or would they be slightly correlated? Or would they be… … highly correlated? And then, you might ask: well, how highly correlated do they have to be… … before they’re the same thing? Or, how uncorrelated do they have to be before they’re different things? And actually, the answer to that comes down to something like “practical utility”. It’s like… imagine I’m trying to figure out how well you’ll do in University. And I measure one thing… and it’s correlated at .7 with another thing I measure about you. Well, then I might say “are those two things the same, or different?” They’re pretty highly correlated… … your high on one means you’re going to be high in the other. Well, so… is there any utility in measuring both things? And the way you figure that out, actually, is: you do it statistically. So, we take the target, which might be your performance across University. And then, we say: “Well, can we predict your performance across University better by using one variable? Or two variables?” So, when you enter them both into a regression equation – all a regression equation does: It’s quite simple; So, you’re trying to predict a target… … and the regression equation tells you: how well you can predict that target… … if you know another fact. Now, then it gets a little complicated, because that’s a correlation: how well you can predict B with A. Well, a regression will say, how much you can predict C if you know A and B… … or A and B and C and D and E, because you can use multiple predictors… … and you can weigh them, so it might be 2xA + 1xB=C. And that’s all a regression equation does; It’s just multiplication and addition, very very straightforward. And so, two variables are sufficiently different functionally… … if you can use both of them simultaneously to predict something of interest. So again, it’s a tool-like approach -this is how the psychometricians do it. It’s something real. Well, it’s real if you can measure it and it helps you predict. That’s how it’s defined. So, then you might say: “Are there these multiple intelligences? Well, the first question would be: “What do you mean by *are there*?” And the answer to that would be: “Well, let’s specify the question.”, since we’re going to be scientific about it. Let’s predict how well people do in University: we’ll start with the assumption that: If intelligence isn’t associated with University success, then you’re probably not talking about intelligence. Now, you could argue that, right? Because you could say: “Well, Intelligence has nothing to do with University success.” But, that’s a definitional matter! We’d have to agree to begin with. Is it reasonable to start with the presupposition that intelligence… … and university success share something in common? Well, I think you have to be daft to deny that initial proposition; although, you could… Because you could say it was privilege, or socio-economic status, or… … any number of sociological phenomena, and some of those are obviously relevant. Social class, for example… Because, you know, if you’re in a higher social class and all things being equal, intelligence included – – if you’re in a higher social class, you’re more likely to go into University than you are if you were on a lower social class. So, there’s other factors that… … are going to influence whether or not you’ll do well in University… … but we’re going to assume that one of them might be intelligence. But, then you would ask: “Well…” “… if you measured social intelligence…” (What do they call that?) – “Emotional intelligence”; which DOES NOT exist, by the way… Emotional intelligence, Moral intelligence, Linguistic, Musical, Logical, Mathematical… … Spacial, Body kinesthetic, Intrapersonal and Interpersonal. All different forms of intelligence. Okay, so, to answer the question of “whether they exist”… What you do first is pick a target – prediction of university performance – then, you make a measure for each of them… Then, you test to see if the measure measured the same thing across multiple instances… … within the same person; that’s a reliability test, because… … what the hell good is your ruler if it stretches when you use it?! -It has to measure the same thing multiple times- And then, you would say: “OK, we’ll take all these different intelligences, and… … the way we’ve decided to measure them… … the first thing we’ll do is see how highly correlated they are. Because, if they’re complete – two of them are completely correlated – then you have one; You don’t have two, because that’s virtually the definition of one instead of two. You can factor-analyze them and see if you can pull out what’s common across all of them; that’s another thing, because then you might say: “Well, intelligence is what’s common across all the measures of these intelligences.” It’s a proposition, it’s not a fact! You have to decide if you’re going to agree with it. But, if you were going to do that, you’d use a factor analysis, and you’d say: “Well, if somebody was more likely to be Musical, if they were also high in Linguistic ability…” “… and more likely to be logical and mathematically inclined, if they had a high spacial ability, etc.” then you’d be hypothesising that there is one factor behind all of those manifestations that’s somehow similar; and maybe, there wouldn’t be! And then, you’d take all your measures and put them into something like a multiple regression analysis… and you’d predict your target – University performance. And then, maybe you’d say: “Wait a minute – let’s not just *use* University performance” “Let’s use Junior-High performance, High-School performance, University performance and Job Success!” And then, let’s say that the only things that predicts success across all those categories… and, that are all the same, we are going to define as intelligence – well, that’s basically how you end up with IQ. You could say that IQ is what’s common across all possible sets of intelligence tests. Now… … people are gonna debate that, because… you still have to define what constitutes a test. But, the way the Psychometricians have managed it, and have taken care of this at least to some degree, is to say… … we’re not going to define everything that we measure as intelligence. So, extroverted people are more socially fluent – or, are we going to call that intelligence? No! We’re gonna call that “personality”. We’re gonna call that “extroversion” and we’re gonna call stress-tolerance.
You could say, well… “If you can tolerate more stress, you’re more intelligent!” It’s like, well, no – that isn’t how we’ve defined it. We’re gonna define that as being lower in neuroticism. If you’re cooperative, you’re more intelligent – that’s “emotional intelligence”. Well, what? You’re less intelligent if you’re competitive? Well, no… So, we parse that off to agreeableness. So then the question might be: “Is there anything left of these so-called ‘intelligences’…” “.. once you control for personality and IQ?” and the answer is: NO! Nothing. Nothing left of them! And the people who keep pushing these ideas, keep trying to push them… because they don’t like the idea of real individual differences. And to me, that’s just a matter of stickin’ your damn head in the sand, because it’s obvious… Here: you’re going to have a child. You want the child to have an IQ of 65 or 145? Decide. Okay, so you’re all going to vote… Okay, you think any one of you is going to vote to have a child with an IQ of 65? That child is going to have a hard time developing even Linguistic ability. They’re never going to learn to read. They’re never going to leave home – in all likelihood.
So which child are you going to pick? Well, so do you believe in intelligence, or not? Well, obviously… if you have any sense…

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