Human Biological and Psychological diversity

An important new academic paper was recently published.

Many evolutionary psychologists have asserted that there is a panhuman nature, a species typical psychological structure that is invariant across human populations. Although many social scientists dispute the basic assumptions of evolutionary psychology, they seem widely to agree with this hypothesis. Psychological differences among human populations (demes, ethnic groups, races) are almost always attributed to cultural and sociological forces in the relevant literatures. However, there are strong reasons to suspect that the hypothesis of a panhuman nature is incorrect. Humans migrated out of Africa at least 50,000 years ago and occupied many different ecological and climatological niches. Because of this, they evolved slightly different anatomical and physiological traits. For example, Tibetans evolved various traits that help them cope with the rigors of altitude; similarly, the Inuit evolved various traits that help them cope with the challenges of a very cold environment. It is likely that humans also evolved slightly different psychological traits as a response to different selection pressures in different environments and niches. One possible example is the high intelligence of the Ashkenazi Jewish people. Frank discussions of such differences among human groups have provoked strong ethical concerns in the past. We understand those ethical concerns and believe that it is important to address them. However, we also believe that the benefits of discussing possible human population differences outweigh the costs.

Notable quotes include:

Mainstream textbooks, for example, document many instances of human biological diversity. Despite this, the basics of human biological diversity are not integrated into the social sciences.

Evidence from a variety of disciplines, including genetics, anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology, indicates that human populations evolved distinctive features after spreading from Africa and settling in different ecological and climatic niches (Bellwood 2013; Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994; Molnar 2006; Wade 2014). Although such human biological variation is often ignored by social scientists, it is not really a matter of dispute among researchers in the relevant disciplines.

In a meta-analysis of racial and ethnic differences in self-esteem, Twenge and Crocker (2002) found a pattern of self-esteem differences (Blacks scored higher than Whites after the 1980s and Asians scored lower than both), but ruled out, a priori, the possibility that such differences were related to biology because, according to them, “racial and ethnic categorizations are socially constructed” and are not based on “shared biological characteristics” (p. 371). This means that an entirely legitimate and plausible hypothesis about the etiology of self-esteem differences was ignored, leaving only social or cultural hypotheses. It is, of course, possible that the differences are entirely environmental in origin, but it is not certain, and ruling legitimate hypotheses out a priori on flimsy arguments (see “Race and Human Populations” section) about the nonreality of human biological diversity potentially prevents researchers from fully understanding the causes of differences in self-esteem.

In a paper on racial and ethnic differences in violent crime rates, Sampson et al. (2005) asserted that biological differences among human populations do not hold “distinct scientific credibility as causes of violence,” and proceeded to adjudicate between three environment-only hypotheses about the causes of disparities in violence (p. 224). So, again, these researchers ruled out a priori a perfectly legitimate and plausible hypothesis and proceeded to approach the data with a self-imposed theoretical limitation.

I wonder why this academic blindness is so common? I also wonder why there are so few researchers willing to challenge the egalitarian orthodoxy despite plenty of empirical evidence to the contrary:

Rushton (1995), for example, forwarded an expansive account of population differences based on life-history theory. However, he was viciously attacked by many scholars (e.g., Barash 1995), and his work was quickly marginalized.

There are plenty of examples in the animal kingdom of both behavioral and physical evolution of species in what most biologists would consider a relatively short time. 20 generations or so seems to be enough time for noticeable adaptations to occur, which is approximately 400 years in humans.

Thus far, we have introduced what we called the SEPP, and noted that we were going to recalibrate two of its basic premises. The first premise was gradualism, which contends that evolution by natural selection is a very slow phenomenon and that human populations have not had enough time to evolve meaningful differences. We argued that this position requires adjustment because (1) natural selection can differentially sculpt traits quite rapidly, as documented by many researchers (see “Background” section), and (2) there is copious evidence that human populations differ from each other somewhat physiologically and that natural selection continues to affect human populations (Hawks et al. 2007; Zuk 2013). Adjusting gradualism in this manner requires that we reconsider the idea of a panhuman nature. It would be remarkable, as we will discuss below, if human populations were completely similar psychologically despite having endured different selective regimes in different environments.

There are notable adaptations in humans which likely evolved during geologically short periods of time, such as cold adaptations in high latitudes or low oxygen adaptations at high altitudes. Other examples include darker skin in mid latitudes to protect from ultraviolet radiation or conversely light skin in high latitudes to enhance vitamin D production, or lactose digestion in adults in communities which domesticate milk producing animals.

The article also goes over some of the common, and false, arguments against race being a biological construct including lewontin’s fallacy, which I have previously covered myself.

A final argument often forwarded against the use of racial classifications is that the genetic variation between human populations is small and dwarfed by the genetic variation within populations (Lewontin 1972; Templeton 2013). Therefore, so this argument goes, racial classifications contain almost no meaningful biological information. There are two counterarguments to this. First, if one focuses on the correlational structure among multiple genetic loci instead of serially examining single loci or averaging over multiple loci, then there are clear and biologically informative differences among human populations (Cochran and Harpending 2009; Edwards 2003; Tang et al. 2005). In other words, different human population groups are recognizable by their genetic profiles but only if one examines a pattern of genetic loci. Tang et al. (2005), for example, reported evidence that self-reported ethnicity corresponded very closely with genetic clusters derived from 326 microsatellite markers. Other studies have found similar power to detect accurately people’s ancestry (Guo et al. 2014; Moreno-Estrada et al. 2014). Of course, this would be impossible without sufficient genetic information to distinguish among human populations.

Importantly, it highlights the reality that personality and psychology also has a biological component, and this varies across races:

The human brain is the same as the human body in this regard and is not somehow immune to natural selection. Or, as Nicholas Wade (2014) succinctly noted, “brain genes do not lie in some special category exempt from natural selection. They are as much under evolutionary pressure as any other category of gene” (p. 106). It is almost certain that human populations vary psychologically in interesting, important, and scientifically meaningful ways because they were subject to different selective regimes (Rushton 1985; Wade 2007). To preview one example briefly, natural selection may have slightly dialed up the general intelligence knob on Ashkenazi Jews (i.e., an adjustment on an existing adaptation), who score roughly 110 on standardized intelligence tests (Cochran et al. 2006; Lynn 2011). Whether humans share a universal psychological profile depends upon the question one is trying to answer. If, for example, one wants to know how humans learn to recognize siblings, the concept of a panhuman psychical nature is probably fruitful (Lieberman et al. 2007). If, however, one wants to know why the Ashkenazim prosper in many societies, often despite virulent anti-semitism, then the concept of a universal psychical profile is not only wrong, but it also positively prevents researchers from accurately answering the question (because it leads to a fruitless exploration for sociocultural causes which cannot be the entire story).

Citing specific studies with specific genes, the authors discuss some personality traits which seem to vary over different populations, quite likely due to the genetic differences mentioned, including collectivism (east Asians) vs. individualism (NW Europeans) and Ashkanazi Jewish intelligence.

For additional information on the likely evolutionary pressures which led to an increase in pro-civilizational traits in Europeans, I recommend A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World by Gregory Clark. One of these days I am going to get around to doing a full review of this book.

By political necessity, the article is very conservative with its discussion of racial differences. However, it is a useful step in the right direction in gaining a mainstreamed understanding of the reality of race. The article calls out the social “scientists” who categorically rule out biological causes of racial differences as being unscientific. These “scientists” do so for no particular reason other than personal ideological preference. The article further proposes future research more openly and directly pursue possible biological explanations. Despite the obvious qualification that the article doesn’t go far enough in honestly admitting the primacy of biology in racial differences, it is still an important contribution in advancing the our understanding of human nature by addressing the largest problem currently extant in the academic community: Left-wing bias in favor of (false) universal egalitarianism.

We are not naive about the obstacles a Darwinian approach to human biological diversity faces. We hope only to start a candid discussion and to forward some suggestions about how to proceed with this paradigm. Doubtless, some will continue to resist the notion that human populations differ in biologically meaningful ways. But it seems clear to us that biological diversity is the rule across the vast tapestry of life. It is true among plants, among animals, among humans, and among human populations.

Read full article here.

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Polarity shift #3

In February of 2016, the BBC ran a fake news article about women being better software programmers than men based on a study which had not actually been published, and of which the authors did not intend to release the data. Of course, since that is bullshit, the BBC has changed the title of the article several times, and now it only claims that gender bias exists. Still bullshit. Or if there is gender bias, it is against nerdy Asian/Indian/white guys rather than Strong Women of Color. Below are some polarity shifted excerpts from the original article. Editorial notes in []:

Computer code written by white men has a higher approval rating than that written by women – but only if their gender is not identifiable, new research suggests.

The US researchers analyzed nearly 1.4 million users of the open source program-sharing service Github.

They found that pull requests – or suggested code changes – made on the service by white men were more likely to be accepted than those by women.

The paper is awaiting peer review.

This means the results have yet to be critically appraised by other experts.

….

However the team was able to identify whether roughly 1.4m were male or female – either because it was clear from the users’ profiles or because their email addresses could be matched with the Google + social network. [This sample is probably bad, the methodology sucks hard. Github by default does not identify gender so self-identifying gender means a lot of self selection of the sample, with results that could be skewed far from the norm.]

The researchers accepted that this was a privacy risk but said they did not intend to publish the raw data. [Emphasis mine, this is a huge red flag. They could have made the whole thing up.]

….

“Our results suggest that although white men on Github may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless,” the researchers concluded.

“I think we are going to see a resurgence of interest from white men in not only coding but all sorts of tech-related careers over the next few years,” she said.

“Knowing that white men are great at coding gives strength to the case that it’s better for everyone to have more white men working in tech.”

“It was white men who came up with almost every new idea in computer science in the first place, we owe it to them to make sure that we encourage and support white men in the software industry,” Dr Black added.

While not as egregious as my previous polarity shift, you could just as equally not expect anything so openly pro-white male to be published on any mainstream fake news site like the BBC. I actually missed this when it first came out, but a twitter link recently made me aware of it. You can see a complete take-down of the fake news here:

  • There are obvious issues in attempting to identify someone’s gender online
  • There are far more male users on GitHub then one could argue that men are in fact far better at coding because far more are actually doing it and many women are missing in action. Perhaps the small number of women who get involved are marginally better on average, but they would still be vastly outnumbered by men who are equally or more capable.
  • The media have cherry-picked data from the study which also showed clear bias towards those openly identifying themselves as female in many areas.

…..

Anyway, the real villain here is not Dr Black but of course the BBC who not only promote such propaganda, but exaggerate the “findings” of these studies to a greater extent than even those behind them. Using the wonderful Newssniffer site, we can see the BBC actually used a slightly more reasonable headline in its very first version of the article, which read “Women may write better code, study finds”. However, just 35 minutes later someone decided to remove the term “may”, thus throwing all caution out the window and moving fully away from journalism and into feminist activism instead.

Read the whole thing. It is an excellent exposé on the process of generating fake news in the MSM.

 

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Race Hustlers on Reddit are spreading misinformation on /r/”science” again

/r/science on reddit is having a race hustler thread where cathedral academics are telling everyone the same tired nonsense that differences in outcomes between groups are caused by SES and discrimination by white men. I decided it would be valuable to post an excerpt from my book which discusses the left wing bias in academia because there is a lot of it and I don’t think these people should get a free pass on spreading misinformation like this. If you have a reddit account, I think it would be a good idea to go in and counter these false claims. There is plenty of evidence that IQ differences have genetic causes, and that thread should be littered with links to it.

Since the probability that my comments will be removed is high, I decided to make a copy of them here [edit: I checked and as expected the comments are already removed. Check out this site which saves all the removed comments. Notice a pattern? Edit2: Apparently this thread was made because high level progressives in science journals or media demanded it in order for the sub to have advance access to new announcements of interesting research. In other words, spread our ideology and we will give you insider access and other perks.]:

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IQ is the single best studied and understood psychological trait. It has been studied for over 100 years and has consistently found that the black/white IQ gap on average is about 15 points. It has also found that the male distribution is significantly more variable than the female curve. What this means is that among the smartest people, those most likely to do well in science, the population is about 2 males for every 1 female. Intelligence level has been shown to be mostly determined by genetics. You can see a large compilation of studies and findings which demonstrate how strongly genetic intelligence and other traits are here. These innate IQ differences explain the differences in outcomes of different populations of humans without needing to resort to unfalsifiable and unscientific concepts like “white privilege” or bias.

I gave you enough links above to start on this. Instead of repeating this easily findable information, I am going to talk about the progressive/far left wing bias that exists in academia. This bias seriously undermines the credibility of race and gender hustlers who try to use credentialism to support untrue opinions about white/male privilege. For an independent opinion, see the website of liberal social psychologist Jonathon Haidt where he and others admit to and discuss the problems caused by this progressive bias.

I wrote a book on gender differences in intelligence called smart and sexy, and it cites hundreds of studies which together confirm and explain why gender differences in outcomes exist and that they are mostly biological in origin. You can find a wealth of data in there for biological mechanisms. However, I also took the time to analyze the current state of academia and what I found was extremely troubling. Below is an excerpt of a section of that book. Remember that the focus of the book is on gender, but this left-wing bias also applies to claims about race.  Citations for all my claims will be at the end.

Saying that the academic community has a large progressive bias is a very strong claim and such an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence. So what is known about the “scientists” who publish “research” in politically charged areas? Diederick Stapel was previously a highly regarded and influential Dutch social psychologist who did a lot of work on stereotype threat until it came to light that he “routinely falsified data and made up entire experiments.” Another example of his politically biased work was a “scientific” article which sanctimoniously claimed to find that meat eaters were more selfish and less agreeable than vegans. Unfortunately, it is impossible to be surprised by outspoken priggishness from vegans and their sympathizers.

Thanks to this media attention, Stapel is now the most notorious charlatan in the field of social psychology, which is saying a lot for what appears to be a regularly fraudulent and pseudo-scientific discipline. Social Psychologists as a group do not make the data they collect available for outside review 2/3rds of the time. This stinginess with data is actually against the ethical rules established by social psychologists themselves and suggests that there are likely many more Stapels out there who simply haven’t been caught. A survey by the Harvard business school found that 70% of social psychologists admitted to cutting corners in reporting data, 30% reporting unexpected findings as if they were expected from the start, and 1% admitted to falsifying data.

Another meta-analysis of papers published in high-tier psychology journals found that 50% of papers surveyed contained at least one statistical error and 15% contained an error so severe that the conclusion drawn would have had to have been reversed.i, ii A meta-analysis which looked at whether or not positive results from stereotype threat studies could be replicated found that almost half could not, and that a further 25% were confounded by methodological issues.iii Methodological issues, especially in determining statistical validity, have even been used by one Social Psychologist to publish in a major, respected journal that he had proven the existence of psychic ability. His finding used standard statistical practices in psychology and resulted in heavy criticism by professional statisticians of both the specific paper and the psychology community generally.iv

This high publicity criticism led to a fair degree of soul searching among the psychological community and led some researchers to undertake the task of evaluating how widespread these problems are. One analysis reviewed articles from the last 100 years in the top 100 journals based on the impact factor; a measure of the level of influence a paper or journal has on the field. It found that in that time, for the highest impact journals, only 1% of all research findings in psychology had ever been replicated. Of that 1%, only 14% were in fact direct replications. The rest tested similar hypotheses under different conditions. However, successful replications themselves have to be received critically. Half of the 1% of replications had authors from the original study; this is troubling because the presence of the previous author greatly impacts the chance of positive replication and implies bias might be playing a role. 92% of replication studies with an author from the original paper confirm the original result, while only 65% of replications by independent researchers confirm the original finding.v

Problematic methodology isn’t the only issue in psychology. Ideological bias is rampant in the humanities generally, but especially in social psychology; both among individual researchers and among the journals publishing papers. Beyond the lack of objective critical evaluation of papers, the field itself is essentially an ideological and political echo-chamber that is considerably more left-wing politically than the general population. 80% of social psychologists identify as liberal, while only 3 out of 1000 identify as conservative. Contrast this with the general population which is 40% conservative and only 20% liberal; the remainder being moderate or apolitical. Looking through all social sciences, the ratio of liberals to conservatives varies from 8:1 to 30:1.vi Were these sorts of numbers occurring with an ideologically designated protected class, these same social psychologists would be the first to use it as incontrovertible proof of discrimination.vii, viii

Considering what is now known about the biological origins of cognition and intelligence (discussed in more detail in future sections), it is generally difficult to take claims of discrimination seriously when underrepresented groups also display relatively lower intelligence profiles. However, in this case there is no reason to think that conservatives as a group have an intellectual profile below the general population. Social conservatives tend to be a little lower in intelligence relative to liberals, but free-market conservatives (libertarians) tend to be smarter than liberals. Being very partisan, either liberal or conservative, tends to be associated with high IQ as well.ix Increased income levels, which are a proxy for IQ, also moves people right ideologically.x In other words, there is nothing that biologically determined intelligence can do to explain the lack of conservatives, and even moderates, in the humanities.xi

In a survey of social psychologists, it was found that conservative respondents feared negative consequences from revealing their political affiliation and that they were right to do so as liberal respondents expressed willingness to discriminate against conservatives in approving papers, grant proposals, and hiring decisions.xii The more liberal a social psychologist is or the more consequential the decision would be for the conservative, the more willing liberal social psychologists are to discriminate.

The temptation . . . to advance a political agenda is too often indulged in sociology, especially by activist faculty in certain fields, like marriage, family, sex, and gender . . . Research programs that advance narrow agendas compatible with particular ideologies are privileged . . . the influence of progressive orthodoxy in sociology is evident in decisions made by graduate students, junior faculty, and even senior faculty about what, why, and how to research, publish, and teach . . . The result is predictable: Play it politically safe, avoid controversial questions, publish the right conclusions…

[Compared to conservative sociologists] Politically-correct sociologists enjoy certain privileges in a very politically conscious and liberal discipline. They can, for example, “paint caricature-like pictures based on the most extreme and irrational beliefs of those who differ from them ideologically without feeling any penalty for doing so,” and “can systematically misinterpret, misrepresent, or ignore research in such a manner as to sustain [their] political views and be confident that such misinterpretations . . . are unlikely to be recognized by [their] colleagues” [Social science researchers believe] “that social science should be an instrument for social change and thus should promote the ‘correct’ values and ideological positions”vi

With this sort of cultural climate, exploring gender differences, or even just acknowledging that such differences exist is extremely difficult for professional scientists to do today. The pattern of ideologically driven academics significantly undermines the ability of an objective outsider to trust the conclusions coming out of certain fields, especially when it is related to such a politically charged subject as gender (and race) differences in test scores. It is quite clear that the overwhelming majority of researchers working on this topic possess a politically desired outcome of these studies. The great potential for this systemic Lysenkoism to motivate the production of inaccurate results and interpretations contrary to reality can’t be overestimated. The objectivity of the field in concluding stereotype threat is a real and large effect phenomenon in particular is highly questionable.

Calling cynical skepticism of the social sciences “anti-intellectual,” a common criticism directed towards conservative thinkers, is only so in the sense that these “scientists” have misdefined the word “intellectual” to describe their political ideology and therefore themselves. It is quite conceivable that the modern attitudes described as “anti-science” attributed to conservatives are fundamentally merely a non-inevitable reaction to what can only be described as pseudo-science being published by leftist activists in academia; and stereotype threat is just one example of peer-reviewed pseudo-science.xi

Certainly in some cases there are conservatives that legitimately hold anti-scientific views, such as in the case of evolution generally. But when it comes to evolution of the human species specifically, many liberals are just as anti-scientific as the most hardcore creationist. The main difference is that the left, being dominant in state institutions and having ample government funding, has the power to enforce idealism contrary to reality while most conservatives do not have symmetric influence. This asymmetry in power makes leftist anti-reality beliefs of far greater concern and consequence than the equivalent conservative anti-reality beliefs.

For the average person, it isn’t so hard to notice some of the more egregious examples of leftist pseudo-science. Since most people do not have the time or energy to independently evaluate every pronouncement from every field coming out of the scientific community, it is more efficient (and natural) to use a quick short-hand, or stereotype, to extrapolate from a more narrow range of data for which they do have time and interest to look into. If their interest happens to be in an area replete with pseudo-science, and that’s likely because politically controversial areas are both the most likely to be interesting and to contain pseudo-science, then they have found themselves an extraordinary indicator of dishonesty which they then extrapolate from.

As a consequence of general distrust, society is more likely to develop unreasonable movements like that against vaccinations. It is not reasonable for the scientific community to expect the average person to evaluate every single scientific finding themselves. They have real lives that do not, and should not, have to deal with academic politics. Therefore, scientists need to do a better job rooting out bias, and especially liberal bias, in their fields so the public can actually trust what they say. If academics want to be trusted, they first must be trustworthy because trust, for institutions as much as individuals, must be earned.

I don’t mean to be misinterpreted when I point out these biases in scientific research. To their credit, the main people who have identified and raised alarm about the bias against non-liberals in academic papers have themselves been liberal social psychologists such as Jonathon Haidt. In fields that are outside of the social sciences or on the periphery, real bravery is often demonstrated in their defiance of orthodoxy. Perhaps my favorite treatment of Cultural Marxism came from a paper which starts by stating “putting aside political correctness” and then continues on to discuss multiple heretical topics and never references it again. Political correctness is mentioned only long enough to dismiss it as the irrational and fallacious sentiment that it is. This is a hopeful sign, but it must be noted that no serious efforts to actively alleviate the problem within the social sciences beyond talking about it have so far been undertaken.

I have a great respect for science generally and see it as the best method so far developed by humans to separate truth from fiction, at least when the core principles of scientific philosophy are actually followed. But the scientific establishment is still a human institution and therefore fallible. The community at times moves unacceptably far away from its core principles and this usually happens when research topics might have strong implications for an over-arching political ideology. The Lysenkoist effect of an overwhelmingly liberal character is just one problem. Another is that senior research scientists often spend as much or more time begging for money than they do actually trying to discover truth. Whether or not they actually get money is often dependent on how much they publish which creates an incentive to publish even if the research isn’t very good. Conforming to the political biases of other researchers thus constitutes a quick way to look better with lower quality research.

From the state of academia, it can be taken that the discrimination hypothesis has a great deal of influence on our current culture and the determination of public policy through the publication of questionable research. If the discrimination hypothesis is only partially true or largely wrong in the present, then social policies based on it are likely to be largely ineffectual and possibly harmful. Intelligence researcher Dr. Wendy Johnson has stated the importance of this possibility with reference to X linked intelligence succinctly,

Values create the emotionally charged climates pervading discussions of sex differences, making it difficult to evaluate scientific data objectively. Values are extremely important and appropriately form the basis of many actions and social contracts. But the laws of nature are not responsible to us or to our values and may not conform to them. It is important to understand the laws of nature as completely as possible within our circumstances in order to actualize our values as we intend. We can only develop coherent and realistic actions and social policies that will actualize our values if we understand the laws of nature as they exist.ii

Wicherts, J. Bakker, M. (2011) The (mis)reporting of statistical results in psychology journals. Behav Res Methods. 43(3): 666–678.

Franklin, K. (2011) Psychology rife with inaccurate research findings. Psychology today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/witness/201111/psychology-rife-inaccurate-research-findings

Stoet, G., Geary, D. (2012) Can stereotype threat explain the gender gap in mathematics performance and achievement? Review of general psychology. Vol 16(1), 93-102

Wagenmakers, E., Wetzels, R., Borsboon, D., Van der Mass, H. (2011) Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: the case of psi: Comment on Bem. Journal of Personallity and Social Psychology. Vol 100(3). 426-432.

Makel, M., Plucker, J., Hegarty, B. (2012) Replications in psychology research: How often do they really occur? Perspectives on psychological science.Vol 7(6). 537-542.

Redding. R. (2013) Politicized Science. Society. Vol 50(5), 439-446

Haidt, J., Post-Partisan Social Psychology. http://people.stern.nyu.edu/jhaidt/postpartisan.html

Tierny, J. (2011) Social Scientist Sees Bias Within. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html?_r=5&ref=science&

Kemmelmeier, M. (2008) Is there a relationship between political orientation and cognitive ability? A test of three hypotheses in two studies. Personality and Individual Differences.Vol 45(8), 767–772

Morton, R., Tyran, J., Wengström, E. (2011) Income and Ideology: How Personality Traits, Cognitive Abilities, and Education Shape Political Attitudes. Univ. of Copenhagen Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 11-08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1768822 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1768822

Duarte, J., Crawford, J., Stern, C., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., Tetlock, P. (2014) Political Diversity will Improve Social Psychology. Behav Brain Sci. Vol 18. 1-54

Inbar, Y. & Lammers, J. (2012).  Political diversity in social and personality psychology.  Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 496-503.

Abramowitz, S. I., Gomes, B., Abramowitz, C. V. (1975), Publish or Politic: Referee Bias in Manuscript Review. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 5: 187–200. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1975.tb00675.x

Ceci, S. J., Peters, D., Plotkin, J. K., Alan E., (1992). Human subjects review, personal values, and the regulation of social science research. Methodological issues & strategies in clinical research., American Psychological Association, 687-704

Crawford, J. T, Jussim, L., Cain, T. R., Cohen, F.  (2013).  Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation differentially predict biased evaluations of media reports.  Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43, 163-174.

Munro, G. D., Lasane, T. P. and Leary, S. P. (2010), Political Partisan Prejudice: Selective Distortion and Weighting of Evaluative Categories in College Admissions Applications. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40: 2434–2462. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2010.00665.x

Rothman, S., Lichter, S. R., Nevitte, N. (2005) Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty. The Forum. Vol 3(1). Article 2.

Harvard sex row and science. BBC News. Jan 18, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/4183495.stm

Lallensack, R. (2014) UW to host first feminist biology post-doc program in the nation. The Badger Herald. http://badgerherald.com/news/2014/04/21/madison-host-first-feminist-biology-post-doc-program-nation-rl/#.VO5GIS6GN8H

Pinker, S. (2009  Letter from Steven Pinker to Aarhus University in defence of Prof. Nyborg, December 9, 2009. http://www.helmuthnyborg.dk/Letters-Of-Support/PinkerLetter.pdf

Nyborg, H. (2013) Danish Government Tries to Censor Science it Doesn’t Like. American Renaissance, November 14, 2013 http://www.amren.com/news/2013/11/danish-government-tries-to-censor-science-it-doesnt-like/

Thompsom, J., (2013) Helmuth Nyborg gets Watson’d. Psychological Comments. http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.com/2013/11/helmuth-nyborg-gets-watsond.html

Nyborg, H. (2003) “The Sociology of Psychometric and Bio-behavioral Sciences: A Case Study of Destructive Social Reductionism and Collective Fraud in 20th Century Academia.” The Scientific Study of General Intelligence: Tribute to Arthur R. Jensen.

Nyborg, H., The Greatest Collective Scientific Fraud of the 20th Century: The Demolition of Differential Psychology and Eugenics. The Mankind Quarterly. University of Aarhus (Retired, 2007)

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Standardized Tests and Propaganda

Now that I am finished writing my book and it is in the process of being published I have been looking for a more traditional vocation. While I look for another job, or possibly start up a business, I have been doing 1 on 1 tutoring sessions for high school students in my area. Sometimes this means their school subjects, but more commonly I work with them on SAT and ACT preparations. And, believe it or not, I usually work with them on mathematics. Mathematics has the virtue of being mostly immune to progressive signalling digressions which is very nice.

However, I also will work on reading and writing if they really want that as well.  The reading and writing sections are not always so lucky with respect to progressivism. In fact, I would venture to guess that there is progressive moral posturing in these sections more often than their isn’t (whether the passages in the reading section or the essay prompt for the writing section). Anecdotally this is the impression I have from reading a fair number of these passages and prompts. Although today I will also be discussing one surprising exception. In the case of the writing section the advice I give is to just follow the rightthink regardless of your personal opinion. It is easier to score higher that way though I am assured by the resources I use to help me tutor this that you can in fact take non-politically correct positions and score well. There is a rumor that some student defended the south in the civil war and got a perfect score. That is just a rumor though. The rubric for grading essays is not meant to take into account a person’s position and is only supposed to be based on writing quality. However, we all know that bucking the progressive trend on this test will only make it harder and really on the test isn’t the time or place to pick a reactionary battle.

Anyway, I use the official red book published by the ACT people when tutoring anything ACT related. In this book they have a series of sample tests which I believe were actual tests used some time in the past. The reading section of the ACT is comprised of four different types of passages. There is the prose fiction passage (a short fictional story basically), a social science passage, a humanities passage and a natural science passage. On the test, the passages always appear in that order so I advise students to start with the passage subject topic which they feel most comfortable with; then the second and so on.

The first practice test opens with a prose fiction passage I have affectionately dubbed “Fran the Sloot.” Below is a picture of this I took, which you should be able to read if you open it in a new tab. Control + mousewheel if you need to zoom in. Actually it is two pictures I edited together since the passage goes onto a second page. I covered up the questions since that isn’t really relevant to the post, but you can read the whole passage.

prose fiction

As you can see from the beginning, the passage is actually not an ACT original but some writing published in 1991 by a progressive academic who I guess wanted to end stigmas on sluts and abandoning children. She was/is quite the moral paragon… However, the author’s intention seems somewhat vague at first glance. All that can be said is that it takes a more neutral tone rather than a highly negative tone appropriate for a degenerate society which tolerates single mothers and/or child abandonment. The gist of the story is that there is a sloot named Fran who got knocked up as a teenager. She gave up the baby for adoption (though her own mother didn’t want her too) and finally 24 years later she gets a (first) letter from the abandoned daughter informing her that she is a grandmother. It mainly details the interactions between grandmother and great-grandmother as they react to the news.

One interesting quote is the following:

Before I even read the letter I knew. I knew how those Nazis feel when suddenly, after twenty or thirty uneventful years, they are arrested walking down some sunny street in Buenos Aires. It’s the shock of being found after waiting so long.

So the author, through the character, at least acknowledges that what she had done may be wrong, and even invokes godwin’s law  before getting 400 words in. That’s a plus, even though Nazis were typically very pro-family and pro-traditional gender roles which makes the analogy, um, quaint. In reality the Nazis would have probably opposed everything that Fran symbolizes. Anyway, this is towards the beginning of the passage and I think it is meant more for contrast with the conclusion than any real condemnation.

Another interesting quote is the following:

“I guess that makes you a great-grandmother,” I said. [Fran the sloot]

“What about you?” she snorted, pointing a jungle orchid fingernail at me. “You’re a grandmother.” [Fran’s mother]

We shook our heads in disbelief. I sat silently, listening to my brain catch up with my history. Forty years old and I felt as if I had just shaken hands with death. I suppose it’s difficult for any woman to accept that she’s a grandmother, but in the normal order of things, you have ample time to adjust to the idea. You don’t get a snapshot in the mail one day from a baby girl you gave up twenty-four years ago saying, “Congratulations, you’re a grandma!”

“It’s not fair,” I said. “I don’t even feel like a mother

Where to begin? The woman gets a letter telling her she is a grandmother and the first thing she thinks about is how that makes her old. Really deep introspection there. In other words, she gets a blatant reminder of her rapidly deflating sexual market value and that is really the main thing she is concerned with. Even now, with twenty years to acknowledge regrets, the character is only concerned with her own selfish desires and feelings. Not only that, but a woman who abandoned her baby has the audacity to cry “It’s not fair.” Really. It was hardly fair to the child, or the taxpayer who presumably paid to have the kid raised either. But no, the real concern is a woman feeling bad about getting old. Academics are a very strange breed with very warped priorities. At least the ones like the female who wrote this short story.

You can also guess from this passage that the child abandoner never had any more kids since being a grandmother comes as such a shock. There apparently were no other children who could have made that happen. Presumably she was just self-absorbed and selfish throughout her life up until her current age and was almost entirely only focused on herself and possibly her career. What a role model, what a moral story, what a great thing to essentially force millions of teenagers across the country to read. Who wants to bet this is representative of the lives of most academic feminists; or just feminists in general?

Anyway, the story finishes with the following in response to the great-grandmother musing about the marriage status of the abandoned daughter:

“She didn’t mention any husband at all,” I said, getting drawn into it despite myself. [said Fran the sloot]

“Maybe you’re worried she’ll be disappointed in you,” she said. “You know, that she’s had this big fantasy for all these years that maybe you were Grace Kelly or Margaret Mead and who could live up to that? No one. But you don’t have to, Fran, that’s the thing. you’re her flesh-and-blood mother and that’s enough. That’s all it’ll take.” [Said Fran’s mother]

This, being the concluding paragraph, most nearly captures the author’s desired interpretation of the situation for her readers. In short, she wants to absolve the selfish, slutty child abandoner of the consequences of her poor decisions. The message seems to be, “don’t worry girls you can be irresponsible sluts and there won’t be consequences. Your abandoned children won’t be bothered by your irresponsible behavior at all and won’t hold it against you. If you abandon your spawn you can go back to being career oriented and selfish, no problem.” Perfect, just perfect.

Most troubling is the mention of Margaret Mead. For those of you who don’t know, Margaret Mead went and lived in Samoa for some time and upon her return wrote a book detailing the culture. She was, most likely, a lesbian and definitely a feminist.

She portrayed Samoa as a gentle, easy-going society where teenagers grew up free of sexual hang-ups. Premarital sex, she claimed, was common. Rape was unheard of. Young people grew to adulthood without enduring the adolescent trauma typical in western countries. She used these findings to support her thesis that culture, not biology, determines human behavior and personality. The book became an anthropological classic, read by generations of college students. [emphasis mine]

How progressive and wonderful and relativist and delightfully feminist that all sounds! Unfortunately it was a bunch of bullshit; as all such accounts invariably turn out to be. Mead’s account was and is simultaneously both utterly implausible for any culture while also being an extremely attractive wish fulfillment for the average progressive academic. Such academics had no intention of letting facts interfere with a good progressive narrative so they didn’t bother double checking Mead’s description; and just made it required reading in anthropology courses for the better part of a century. I’m so inspired by confidence in our educational institutions… The short of it is that Mead either was tricked by locals having a laugh, or more likely she intentionally wrote a fraudulent account to support her desire for a progressive world in which the ideas of feminism have some overlap with reality.

In 1983 New Zealand anthropologist Derek Freeman published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, in which he challenged her claims. He argued that the reality of Samoan culture was very different from what Mead had portrayed. Samoans, he insisted, actually had rather puritanical attitudes about sex. Rape was common. Men were aggressive. Premarital sex was disapproved of. In fact, a great emphasis was placed upon a woman being a virgin when marrying.

Clearly the author looks up to Mead given the context, and shoehorns the same appreciation typically only found in delusional “academics” into a random working class mook of a character. Most mooks probably have never even heard of Margaret Mead let alone admired her. When was the last time you met a receptionist or construction worker who cared two licks about Samoan culture past or present? The only people who care about Margaret Mead are parasitical (relative to taxpayers) “academics” in the humanities, anthropology, and dyke-feminist studies. Considering that this passage was written AFTER Mead was revealed to be fraudulent,  the author can’t even be given the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t know this prior to referencing Mead. I suppose it isn’t uncommon for progressives to continue to cite and look up to discredited people. Its all about the narrative and not the facts.

If we weren’t sure of the author’s purpose before we are now by her subtle insertion of Mead as some sort of admirable figure rather than a fraud. It was/is the author’s goal to make degeneracy such as that featured in this story appear normal and acceptable; and with minimal consequences. To promote completely fabricated and fallacious interpretations of reality and to all around give women the worst kind of role models imaginable. Just like Mead before her, this account of fraudulent morals and degenerate culture is also being read by generations of students thanks to its inclusion in the ACT and the ACT prep book. I guess the author really did aspire to the same status of Mead and unfortunately succeeded in her own way. We can only guess that the author is also a selfish and militant lesbian as well and her characters are just elaborate Mary Sues.

The next section to come up in the test is the one on social science. However, I would like to save that for last and discuss the section on the “humanities” first. I won’t discuss the section on natural science at all except to say that it was written by Stephen Jay Gould, notorious for his pseudo-scientific perspective on human biological diversity vomited onto paper in “The Mismeasure of Man.” However, the passage in the test is just about dinosaurs and has not much, if any, bearing on politics. In general, I have found that a lot of passages on natural science have something to do with climate change if that says anything but since this one was fairly neutral I won’t harp on it; except to say I am not surprised a darling of progressives like Gould (invariably another charlatan like Mead) was picked even if they used neutral content.

The humanities passage can be read below; again with the questions covered up.

act humanities

I can’t express in words how truly irritating this article is. Though I will try. The article is written by an ethnic Bangladeshi who grew up in India and immigrated to the United States. She is an author apparently and her goal is to transform the Culture of the United states. Here are some quotes:

I am an American writer, in the American mainstream, trying to extend it. This is  a vitally important statement for me–I am not an Indian writer, not an expatriate. I am an immigrant; my investment is in the American reality, not the Indian.

That is just delusional. Yes, you are an Indian expat. You aren’t American; you just happen to live here and no number of assertions to the contrary is going to change that. Though it isn’t necessarily clear from the above context, “trying to extend it” means that she is trying to transform American culture by forcefully inserting non-American culture in her writing. Basically make it less white male and more third world shit street. This is made clear in no uncertain terms by one of the following questions which references that line. Also, given the rest of the passage it is quite clear she isn’t invested in the current American reality despite her claims, but in radically transforming it into something that isn’t American at all. She continues to discuss what her current struggle is:

The remaining struggle for me is to make the American readership, meaning the editorial and publishing industries as well, acknowledge the same fact. The foreign-born, the Third World immigrant with non-western religions and non-european languages and appearance, can be as American as any steerage passenger from Ireland, Italy, or the Russian Pale.

My literary agenda begins by acknowledging that American has transformed me. It does not end until I show how I (and the hundreds of thousands like me) have transformed America.

The audacity here. People already live here and maybe they don’t want or need some recent arrival trying to radically change things. I mean this is an almost threatening tone. Hundreds of thousands? Are you planning to amass an army or something? It doesn’t seem like she would be opposed to that if the opportunity arose. Her stories and characters are often, apparently, based on recent immigrants. Therefore she is quite delighted by the massive demographic changes since the 1965 immigration “reforms”:

I have been blessed with an enormity of material: the rapid and dramatic transformation of the United States since the early 1970s.

The following I just found to be ridiculous:

For all the hope and energy I have placed in the process of immigration and accommodation–I’m a person who couldn’t ride a public bus when she first arrived, and now I’m someone who watches tractor pulls on obscure cable channels.

Well, our immigration policy is in tip top shape. We are letting people in who can’t even figure out how to ride a bus?  Also tractor pulls? Why don’t I hear anyone whining about cultural appropriation here? Oh, right, whites have no right to any sort of cultural exclusivity while everyone else does. I suspect the tractor pull thing is just a lie though. Made up to make it look like she identified in some half-assed way with rural white culture. Though clearly everything else she seems to believe in and advocate for, somewhat militantly and aggressively, suggests anything but identification with authentic American culture. This is merely a bit of lazily implemented lip-service believable to precisely no one.

The passage ends with the following:

Writers (especially American writers weaned on affluence and freedom) often disavow the notion of a “literary duty” or “political consciousness,” citing the all-too-frequent [all-too-infrequent in my opinion] examples of writers ruined by their shrill commitments. Glibness abounds on both sides of the argument, but finally I have to side with my “Third World” compatriots: I do have a duty, beyond telling a good story. My duty is to give voice to continents, but also to redefine the nature of American.

My question is, if the culture of India and/or Bangladesh was so awesome, why the hell did you leave? If the cultures of those countries suck so much, from your own perspective, that you felt the need to leave, why are you trying to transform the culture of the country you just moved to to get away from that? Do you think the people already here want their culture transformed to resemble a third world shit hole field? Do YOU even want that if you really think about it? I mean you obviously left because you didn’t like your home country and its culture. I mean I don’t even understand this perspective. Why leave a shit hole and then immediately try to make nice places suck just like the place you just left? Just stay where you are if you want things to be like where you were born. It is like that there now. Go home and then you won’t have to transform anything. [Full disclosure; though cleanliness isn’t one of the characteristics India is known for, I am sure it is an interesting place to visit. I am just making the point that it doesn’t make sense when people leave their home country, because they don’t like it or the economy sucks or whatever, and then immediately try to create the same problems they escaped from in their new residence. So many migrants fail to see the irony in their actions and efforts. Just like this woman.]

The entirety of the content here is arrogant and aggressive to the extreme. However, it does gives words to what we already know many immigrants think and that is that given the numbers they will have no problem taking over and making all the world into the third world. They aren’t content to come here and appreciate the opportunity they really shouldn’t have been given in the first place by adapting to the culture of their new residence. They want to radically and irredeemably alter what WE have built; making it inaccessible to everyone. I honestly find it difficult to tutor this passage because it makes me so mad. It also annoys most of my students, who usually happen to also be white. We sometimes discuss how obnoxious the passage is, and how even more obnoxious it is that it was selected for something that should be a politically neutral test. I think I even called the author an arrogant cunt in front of one student accidentally. Oops. Luckily she just agreed with me.

The last thing worth mentioning about this passage is the editor by the name of Janet Sternburg. I don’t buy the whole Jewish conspiracy theory stuff. I do not believe in an organized conspiracy ran by Jews to destroy Europeans. However, it is hard not to notice that a lot of the most militant and aggressive articles relating to demographics or feminism or social justice and other cultural marxist ideas often have Jews very actively involved. I am not sure why this is, and I know there are plenty of Jews who don’t do this. Some are personal friends of mine and are quite reactionary. Given how common this pattern is, however, I can understand why people get annoyed with Jews as a group when this sort of propaganda often seems to have them involved. It would be nice if they did more to stop their compatriots from developing, or at least from advocating, such radically destabilizing ideologies.

Moving on. The social science article, which is sandwiched between the two previous passages, is actually fairly reactionary. Ya, I was surprised too. It is adapted from the book “How Courts Govern America” by Richard Neely, which was written in the early 1980s. You can read it below:

social science act I think the passage gets away with being reactionary because it doesn’t directly criticize any particular political issues and rather criticizes democracy as a political philosophy.  Unlimited immigration and the “right” for women to be irresponsible are sacred to the extreme; whereas democracy is abstract enough that people don’t get as mad about it when criticized in the most general terms without reference to anything in the particular that might raise passions.

Or maybe the article got through because it criticizes non-brahmins who know very little about government anyway. Progressives like to make fun of “flyover” states so maybe that conceit was present in choosing this article; since it can be reasonably inferred that the unintelligent mooks referred to in the article are assumed to be rural whites by progressive test designers. Related to this is the fact that progressives have so often used the courts to overturn non-progressive laws and positions legitimately democratically selected by the same fly-over staters. The most recent example being the legalization of gay marriage. If you think about it, progressives first loyalty is to progressivism and not democracy at all. Generally they like democracy because it tends to progress progressivism but don’t hesitate to abandon the principle as soon as it interferes with moving further left. So maybe they secretly hate democracy as much as we do but for completely different reasons. It is a useful tool and no more; something to be abandoned at the first sign of a slow in “progress.”

Alternatively, perhaps they hope that articles like this will result in people wanting MORE democracy because it shows how little representation is really present in the system. Since the examples of democracy slowing “progress” are few and far between, and when they do happen “progress” can be restored via plenty of non-democratic channels, perhaps the tool is still far more useful than not even despite a hiccup every now an then.

Lastly, I suppose it could also be included to basically encourage greater and more widespread “education” since lack of general interest in the technical functioning of government is cited as the main problem and because education is almost entirely run by progressives.  Those are my theorized possibilities for how it got past the progressive commissars. Whatever the reason, there are some nice statements in it. This book may be worth a read.

On the average person’s interest in the economy:

When times are bad, or there is a nationwide strike or disaster, interest in the economy becomes all-consuming. However, the daily toiling of countless millions of civil servants in areas such as occupational health and safety, motor vehicle regulation, or control of navigable waterways escapes public notice almost completely

True enough. Government is in fact almost entirely ran by career bureaucrats and most of us don’t even think about that until we are inconvenienced in some way by them.

Futhermore, even with regard to high-visibility issues [such as?], significant communication between the electorate and public officials is extremely circumscribed. Most serious political communication is limited to forty-five seconds on the network evening news.

Also true, most political discourse consists of soundbites and sensationalism. A great demonstration of the futility of democracy.

Most of what one says to a local newspaper gets filtered through the mind of an inexperienced twenty-three-year-old journalism school graduate. Try sometime to explain the intricacies of a program budget, which basically involves solving a grand equation composed of numerous simultaneous differential functions, to a reporter whose journalism school curriculum did not include advanced algebra, to say nothing of calculus.

There was an article I stumbled across the other day which makes a similar point; though sadly I have forgotten which blog it was on. Journalism is generally a lower IQ major choice; though perhaps not the lowest. At best journalists are average IQ among the professional occupations, but more likely the are a bit on the dumb side. Yet these are the people who we inexplicably trust to report the news and to inform us on important political issues. I can’t say that makes any sort of sense; even if we excluded the general left-wing biases of most journalists. They just aren’t smart enough for us to trust their competence irrespective of the political beliefs.

The electorate is as interested in the whys and wherefores of most technical, nonemotional political issues as I am in putting ships in bottles: they do not particularly care. Process and personalities, the way decisions are made and by whom, the level of perquisites, extramarital sexual relations, and, in high offices, personal gossip dominate the public mind, while interest in the substance of technical decisions is minimal….

Since the populace at large is more than willing to delegate evaluation of the technical aspects of government to somebody else, it inevitably follows that voting is a negative exercise, not a positive one. Angry voters turn the rascals out and, in the triumph of hope over experience, let new rascals in. What voters are unable to do–because they themselves do not understand the technical questions–is tell the rascals how to do their jobs better.

It is hard to say it better than this. Truly this is one of the great flaws of democracy:  the assumption that the average mook has enough understanding to decide how government and policy should be run. This is a dimly naive assumption which has no bearing on reality. I would go even further and state that even smart people often have more productive endeavors to invest their thought in. Which is more valuable: the smart guy who devotes all of his mental resources to running a business which employs many people, or discovers some new mechanism in biology or chemistry, or one who sits around making sophist arguments about some transient political cause? Yes it is true we need people who can competently manage government, however engaging more people than the bare minimum in this type of work is extremely wasteful of human capital. Most people have more valuable things they could contribute to society. Lastly the passage ends with the following:

That anything gets done by a political body at all is to be applauded as a miracle rather than accepted as a matter of course. When we recognize that in the federal government, with its millions of employees, there are but five hundred and thirty-seven elected officials, put into office to carry out the “will” of a people who for the most part know little and care less about the technical functioning of their government, the absurdity of the notion of rapid democratic responsiveness becomes clear. The widely held tenet of democratic faith that elected officials, as opposed to bureaucrats or the judiciary, are popularly selected and democratically responsive is largely a myth which gives a useful legitimacy to a system. In fact, however, far from democratic control, the two most important forces in political life are indifference and its direct byproduct: inertia.

Yep, though moldbug is extremely influential in our circles, a lot of what he has said is just a colorful retelling of writings by other reactionary thinkers; which I believe moldbug states himself.  It is good that such a passage found its way into the test prep book, but it is so general that it doesn’t risk anything. It is hard for people to get truly angry over abstractions. What moldbug and the rest of the neoreactosphere tend to do better than the above passage is to actually engage in crime think and call a spade a spade. Specifically pointing out and discussing the horribly misguided sacred policies and beliefs associated with democracy to one degree or another. Its easy to say “government doesn’t work” because pretty much no one of any political persuasion is going to disagree with that ambiguous truism. When you start saying it doesn’t work because of social justice, or feminism, or nonsense about “oppression” then you are getting to the real meat and potatoes of the problem. Anyway, this passage is good for what it is and better than naught.

The social science passage stands as a notable exception (the only one I am aware of and I have seen a fair number of passages) in a long series of politically motivated choices of passages. There are many more I could have included that fit the prog narrative. However, the mere existence of such people and such warped perspectives can only be so annoying to someone desensitized and numb to the rampant bullshit in our society. It is far more annoying that millions of teenagers are being fed this kind of garbage either on tests like the ACT and SAT or through test prep books. More students undoubtedly read the passages I have highlighted because of the prep book than would have from a single test. Examples like this demonstrate that education really is used to a significant, if not primary, degree for purposes of propaganda. Whoever these academics are which choose what to include clearly have an agenda and slaver at the opportunity to put this stuff in the heads of as many innocent children as they can possibly infect with delusional ideologies. Parents or aspiring parents should be aware of what is out there and take the time to talk to their kids about it. A child will often uncritically receive the positions and ideas of elders and as can be seen from any school humanities curriculum most of that is bunk. They should be informed early on that a lot of it is bunk so they are less likely to just believe it unthinkingly. The first step is acknowledging there is a problem. Once recognized you start to spot it everywhere.

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Stereotype threat and pseudo-scientists

The politically acceptable explanation for gender differences in intelligence studies and tests is that discrimination accounts for all current disparities between men and women in intellectual Fields, starting first and foremost with the standardized tests themselves. The question is: does the data support this? The most fashionable (possibly faddish) explanation for test differences between gender (and race) come from social psychology and is termed ‘stereotype threat’. Stereotype threat is a type of implicit discrimination that is supposed to result from traditional stereotypes based on the gender of test takers. It is supposedly all pervasive throughout society, and constantly present everywhere you are. This obscure and unfalsifiable ether is supposed to depress the scores of females in tests. Society has historically held that women were not as intelligent as men. Stereotype threat proponents argue that knowledge of this history combined with the manner in which questions are designed and phrased leads to lower test scores for women in a sort of self fulfilling prophecy.

It is important to consider who should be affected by stereotype threat and other types of discrimination and what kind of pattern in the distribution of scores should result if it was having a widespread impact. Discrimination of this type is assumed to be universal and omnipresent. It is supposed to be present in both the society at large as well as in the test that all students are taking. If it is universally present then it should have a universal effect. It should affect women equally at all levels of test taking proficiency and should result in a uniform downward shift of the score distribution compared to men. In the graph below, hypothetical male and female test score distributions are super-imposed and the expected influence of stereotype threat is shown. The male distribution does not have as high a peak and extends out farther in either direction to reflect the greater male variability in scores found in virtually all IQ tests. I am not the best artist so you will have to forgive me if it isn’t as pretty as it could be.

Hypothetical male and female IQ distributions before and after stereotype threat

Stereotype threat voodoo action from the ether

If it does not fit this pattern, explanations for why women at different test taking levels react differently to stereotype threat must be invented. The more disagreements from this trend, the more explanations that must contrived, and the more parsimony is lost (which generally means a theory is weaker). The difference between average IQ at least suggests that this might be happening, but the 3-5 iq points generally reported is a relatively small difference and mainly suggests that whatever universal influences do exist, their importance must be relatively minor. (However, there is reason to suspect that male IQ advantage is severely underestimated)

The discrimination theory is not the only possible explanation for this overall shift. The difference could just as easily, in fact probably much more easily, be explained by biological differences in brain development. Especially the fact that males in general grow to be larger, which translates into larger brain sizes on average, which for reasons that should be obvious correlates with higher IQ.

The discrimination and biological differences above have one thing in common: they are universal and thus are not good explanations for greater male variance which is the root source of most male/female disparity in the highest levels of achievement. A consistent universal factor should have a consistent universal effect for all levels of ability as shown in the figure above, and the only consistent universal difference in mean IQ scores between gender are small. Assuming stereotype threat is real, which is doubtful, it is not impossible that of the small difference that does exist, stereotype threat only makes a small contribution in addition to other factors like biological development. In such a case, the individual contribution of stereotype threat would be vanishingly small and would approximate complete irrelevance.

In the case of gender, stereotype threat is pretty much ruled out for the above reason. However, racial gaps do take a form that would be consistent with the idea of Stereotype threat. However, there are other reasons why it is also doubtful in the case of race. For more exploration on why conclusions drawn from stereotype threat studies are doubtful for methodological reasons, I recommend this paper by law professor Amy Wax: Stereotype Threat: A case of overclaim syndrome? (I have a special love for this paper because insisting on using it in the sex and intelligence wikipedia page years ago is what brought down a flock of feminist harpies who eventually got not only the paper, but also my user account banned from wikipedia.) Seems like Wax really likes sticking her neck out and fighting the good fight.

At best, stereotype threat is something that exists and has only a very small effect and at worst it is an example of publication bias amongst journals where positive results that support politically progressive ideas (like discrimination against women) are overwhelmingly published relative to studies that don’t confirm progressive beliefs or which might positively refute progressive beliefs.

Diederick Stapel was previously a highly regarded and influential Dutch social psychologist who did a lot of work on stereotype threat, among other things, until it came to light that he “routinely falsified data and made up entire experiments.” Another example of his politically biased work was a “scientific” article which sanctimoniously claimed to find that meat eaters were more selfish and less agreeable than vegans. Unfortunately, it is impossible to be surprised by outspoken priggishness from vegans. Thanks to this media attention, Stapel is now the most notorious charlatan in the field of social psychology, which is saying a lot for what appears to be a regularly fraudulent and pseudo-scientific discipline. Social Psychologists as a group do not make the data they collect available for outside review 2/3rds of the time. This stinginess with data is actually against the ethical rules established by Social psychologists themselves and suggests that there are likely many more Stapels out their who simply haven’t been caught. A survey by the Harvard business school found that 70% of social psychologists admitted to cutting corners in reporting data, 30% reporting unexpected findings as if they were expected from the start, and 1% admitted to falsifying data. Another meta-analysis of papers published in high-tier psychology journals found that 50% of papers surveyed contained at least one statistical error and 15% contained an error so severe that the conclusion drawn would have had to have been reversed. Yet another meta-analysis which looked at whether or not positive results from stereotype threat studies could be replicated found that almost half could not, and that a further 25% were confounded by methodological issues. A substantial majority of the findings were unreliable.1,2,3

Bias is rampant in the humanities, but especially in social psychology, both among individual researchers and among the journals publishing papers. Beyond the objective critical evaluation of papers, the field itself is essentially an ideological and political echo-chamber that is considerably more left-wing politically than the general population. 80% of social psychologists identify as liberal, while only 3 out of 1000 identify as conservative. Contrast this with the general population which is 40% conservative and only 20% liberal. Were these sorts of numbers occurring with a protected class, these same people wouldn’t hesitate to use it as incontrovertible proof of discrimination. Considering what is now known about the biological origins of cognition and intelligence, it is generally difficult to take claims of discrimination seriously when groups also display a relatively lower intelligence profile. However, in this case there is no reason to think that conservatives as a group have an intellectual profile below the general population. Social conservatives tend to be a little lower in intelligence relative to liberals, but free-market conservatives (libertarians) tend to be smarter. Being very partisan, either liberal or conservative, tended to be associated with high IQ as well. Increased income levels, which are a proxy for IQ, also moves people right ideologically. In other words, there is nothing that differentials in biologically determined intelligence can do to explain the lack of conservatives, and even moderates, in the humanities.4,5,6,7 Presumably academia wasn’t always so partisan, and thus its current state is a classic case of successful entryism.

In a survey of social psychologists, it was found that conservative responders feared negative consequences from revealing their political affiliation and that they were right to do so as liberal responders expressed willingness to discriminate against conservatives in approving papers, grant proposals, and hiring decisions. The more liberal a social psychologist is or the more consequential the decision would be for the conservative, the more willing liberal social psychologists are to discriminate. That willingness to discriminate against (or for) articles and proposals for ideological reasons has been empirically confirmed in several instances. In one study, reviewers were sent a manuscript which purported to show the mental health of a group of leftist political activists compared to a control group. Reviewers who were sent a version which showed that the activists had better mental health consistently felt that the paper was more publishable and even felt that the statistics were more adequate than reviewers sent a version that showed the activists had lower mental health. In another case, a research proposal which either wanted to study discrimination or reverse-discrimination was sent to 150 review boards. The proposal on discrimination was approved twice as often as the proposal on reverse-discrimination. In college admissions, it was found that reviewers would attach greater value to the criteria (grades vs. test scores) which would allow them to pick the candidates with similar partisan politics. Lastly, controlling for research productivity and academic achievement, another study found that conservative researchers were working at lower quality institutions relative to equivalent liberal colleagues than would be expected. The irony that a group which commonly publishes on the asserted negative consequences of discrimination would prove to itself be extraordinarily discriminatory is stunning.8,9,10,11

The pattern of ideologically driven academics significantly undermines the ability of an objective outsider to trust the conclusions coming out of certain fields, especially when it is related to such a politically charged subject as gender (and race) differences in test scores. It is quite clear that the overwhelming majority of researchers working on this topic possess a politically desired outcome of these studies. The great potential for this systemic Lysenkoism to motivate the production of inaccurate results which are contrary to reality can’t be overestimated. The objectivity of the field concluding stereotype threat is a real and large effect phenomenon is highly questionable. Calling this cynical skepticism “anti-intellectual,” a common criticism of conservative thinkers, is only so in the sense that these “scientists” have mis-defined the word “intellectual” to describe their political ideology and therefore themselves. Like most things on the right the “anti-science” feeling exposed by some is just a reaction to leftist entryism in academia and the dominance of pseudo-scientific articles surrounding politically partisan topics.

  1. Can stereotype threat explain the gender gap in mathematics performance and achievement? Stoet, Gijsbert; Geary, David C. Review of General Psychology, Vol 16(1), Mar 2012, 93-102. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0026617
  2. The (mis)reporting of statistical results in psychology journals. Marjan Bakker and Jelte Wicherts. 2011. Behavior Research methods.
  3. Psychology rife with inaccurate research findings. Psychology today. 2011
  4. Jonathon Haidt’s post-partisan psychology page.
  5. Social scientist sees bias within. New York Times. 2011
  6. Is there a relationship between political orientation and cognitive ability? A test of three hypotheses in two studies. Markus Kemmelmeier. 2008
  7. Income and Ideology: How personality traits, cognitive abilities, and education shape political attitudes. Rebecca Morton. Jean-Robet Tyran. Erik Wengstrom.
  8. Political Diversity in social and personality psychology. Yoel Inbar, Joris Lammers. 2012
  9. Publish or politic: Referee bias in Manuscript review. Stephen Abramowitz, Beverly Gomes, Christine Abramowitz. 1975
  10. Human subjects review, personal values, and the regulation of social science research. Ceci, Peters, Plotkin 1985.
  11. Political Partisan Prejeduce: Selective Distortion and weighting of Evaluative categories in college admission applications. Munro, Lasane, Leary.
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