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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How Standardized Testing Undervalues Men

IQ testing and research has been around for over 100 years. Though it is often a controversial issue, the fact remains that more than any other psychological trait studied, IQ scores contain a remarkable amount of predictive power with regards to life-time outcomes. One of the most surprising aspects of intelligence that early researchers encountered was that performance on a wide variety of divergent tasks was positively correlated. In other words, if you did well on one type of task, it was very likely you would do well on any task you were given including ones that were nothing like the original subject. This is the origin of the term g or general intelligence. By determining a person’s g on a few tasks, you can predict how they will perform on a variety of others and remarkably how well they would do in terms of lifetime achievement. This finding has withstood 100 years of robust research and a greater amount of heavy criticism, thanks to political correctness, than most other scientific findings.1, 2

Though there is only one g, there are also sub-g abilities that are both positively correlated to each other and with g (meaning their existence does not disprove a general intelligence factor). However, these sub-g abilities do not perfectly correlate with each other, which leaves some room for people with similar IQs to possess individualized intellectual profiles. These sub-g abilities can be divided into verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and spatial/mechanical reasoning. Along these dimensions a large sex differentiated pattern appears which has been well documented since the beginning of IQ tests. Women tend to outperform men on tests of verbal reasoning while men have an advantage in both numerical and spatial reasoning.3,5

Since this is an article about how standardized tests currently undervalue men, I will focus on the male cognitive profile. A recent study that quantified male advantages found that older adolescent men out-performed women on average by 6 IQ points on items involving numerical reasoning and 13 IQ points on items involving mechanical reasoning.  This is about a half standard deviation and a full standard deviation respectively.4 A full standard deviation advantage on spatial reasoning tasks is a LOT and goes a very long way in explaining the dearth of women in STEM and the low numbers of female electricians or mechanics. Having a high spatial reasoning has been shown to be essential to the pursuit of the inorganic sciences among the smartest people.6,7  It should also be noted that brain development continues into the twenties which means that it is very possible that these numbers underestimate the extent of the gender gap in adulthood.

Considering the importance of spatial ability to scientific endeavors and success, it is curious that these types of tasks are conspicuously absent from aptitude tests which are supposed to identify people qualified for STEM; tests including the SAT and the GRE.6,7 In both tests, there is a verbal component, a numerical component, and a writing component. The writing component is really just a more subjective way to measure verbal aptitude. One study7 comments on the current state of the GRE (the SAT shows the exact same pattern) thusly:

Based on approximately 2.5 million GRE test takers assessed in 2002–2005, 30% scored P700 (out of a top possible score of 800) on GRE-Q (ETS data: all examinees tested between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2005, N GRE-V = 1,245,878, N GRE-Q = 1,245,182). The GRE-Verbal was not compromised by ceiling effects, with only 3% scoring P700. Indeed, the GRE-Q mean of 591, with a standard deviation of 148, reveals that the mean is 1.4 standard deviations from the GRE-Q ceiling; whereas the GRE-V mean of 467, with a standard deviation of 118, places this mean at 2.8 standard deviations from the GRE-V ceiling (twice the distance). This results in 10 times as many scores P700 for GRE-Q than GRE-V! Of the two most critical specific abilities for commitment to and excellence in STEM educational–occupational tracks, selection criteria for advanced education and training in the US are severely compromised by ceiling effects for one (mathematical reasoning) while the other (spatial ability) is totally neglected.

What this means is that a large range of ability in numerical reasoning is clustered together in the high range of the GRE quantitative test and is thus preventing the possibility to distinguish high ability students from exceptionally high ability students. By making the top score of the test (the ceiling) low, you can ensure that the very able and exceptionally able have roughly the same score. Individuals who excel in spatial ability are unidentified because that method of mental reasoning is completely ignored. Meanwhile, the verbal ability test is designed such that exceptional talent can readily distinguish itself thanks to a much larger difficulty ceiling. Not only that, but verbal is double weighted by a second exercise which also exclusively focuses on verbal reasoning. (Un)coincidentally, this is exactly how you would design tests if you wanted to obfuscate gender differences that showed men doing better than women. On the GRE-Q, super-exceptional men get the same scores as merely able women because they can’t demonstrate their greater talent with a higher score than the low maximum.  By making numerical tests ineffectual at the upper ranges of ability and ignoring spatial reasoning entirely, these tests ignore two essential factors in creativity and intelligence which are relevant for any field, but especially relevant for STEM. The testing of abilities which women have a sex advantage in are remarkably over-emphasized and makes men and women appear more intellectually equal than they really are. Especially disconcerting is that this test design guarantees that there are a relatively large number of men at both the mean and at the high levels of ability who are having their talent squandered. They are not being admitted to the quality of schools they should be. In public school, they are not being given the type of hands on education that is befitting of their talent in spatial and mechanical reasoning even though it is the men with this particular ability who are most important to our technological development.6,7

There is little doubt in my mind that these tests are purposefully designed this way for reasons of political correctness and cultural marxism  (IE “The Cathedral“). I find it hard to believe that College Board, the company that designs and administers the SAT and GRE, does not understand what effect this kind of test structure has on the resultant scores. They are a professional testing company whose bread and butter is understanding how IQ tests work and designing effective ones. There is simply no way they could miss this glaring problem. However, I don’t think I can necessarily blame them for how they designed the test. They are acting rationally to avoid (false) accusations of sexism and bias that would surely result if the tests openly demonstrated the intellectual superiority males have over females in mathematics and mechanics. The problem is with our repressive and feminist dominated culture which can’t bring itself to admit that men have innate cognitive advantages over women; especially not if the level of male advantage is so large and substantial that it requires surveying an extremely gerrymandered map of cognitive talents to hide. That equalizing men and women in test scores requires two different tests of verbal intelligence (one of which is conveniently subjective), a poorly designed quantitative test, and ignoring an entire dimension of mental reasoning says a lot about just how large the gap between men and women is. If you don’t want to take my word that these tests are geared to emphasize the talents of women at the expense of the talents of men, maybe you will believe the American Psychological Association (emphasis mine):

“Most standard tests of intelligence have been constructed so that there are no overall score differences between females and males”3

EDIT:

A high school student with experience with AP tests (also designed and administered by college board) indicates that the same pattern described above is true for AP calculus vs. AP English tests. see the /r/darkenlightenment comment.

All of the studies below should be accessible from libgen.org if you search the title or DOI. If you can’t find it there, then please make a request on the subreddit /r/scholar

  1. Just one g: consistent results from three test batteries Wendy Johnson*, Thomas J. Bouchard Jr., Robert F. Krueger, Matt McGue, Irving I. Gottesman Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA Received 8 April 2003; received in revised form 27 May 2003; accepted 15 June 2003
  2. The g facto: the science of mental testing. [book length PDF] Arthur Jensen 1998
  3. Intelligence: knowns and unknowns. American Psychological Association. http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/research/correlation/intelligence.pdf
  4.  Sex differences on g and non- g  intellectual performance reveal potentialsources of STEM discrepancies Gina C. Lemos, Francisco J. Abad, Leandro S. Almeida, Roberto Colom
  5. Sex differences in mental abilities: g masks the dimensions on which they lie Wendy Johnson, Thomas J. Bouchard Jr. University of Minnisota. 2006
  6. Kell, H. J., & Lubinski, D.  (2013).  Spatial ability: A neglected talent in educational and occupational settings.Roeper Review, 35, 219-230.
  7. Spatial Ability and STEM: A sleeping giant for talent identification and development. David Lubinski. Department of Psychology and Human Development. Vanderbilt University.

 

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How the Hypergamic “utopia” engenders violence

Western culture has progressively eroded the foundations of the traditional family for at least sixty years. Many on the left claim that the institution of marriage and traditional values are simply a relic of religious prejudice and a symbol of oppression. Part of the problem that allowed such frivolous conspiracy theories to spread was a lack of a comprehensive and objective explanation for why traditional monogamy was instituted in the first place by its defenders on the right. Appeals to divine authority, though effective with some populations, will simply not be sufficient to persuade the minimum number of people necessary in a secular culture to allow it to stay the dominant form of social organization it needs to be to support a thriving civilization. Though religious appeals for monogamous culture should not be thrown out, a secular defense of traditional culture needs to be built up to compliment the arguments of religious authorities.

One of the most useful consequences of a monogamous society is that it unleashes the creative and industrious potential in the largest number of men in society, thereby creating the foundations for a thriving and advancing civilization. In an age of free love, better described as pre-modern love, a significant portion of a man’s energy has to be expended fending off poaching attempts by other males or preventing capricious dalliances on the part of his mate. This is energy that would be much better utilized if directed towards building civilization.

However, the pro-civilizational effects of traditional values are not the only benefits worth considering. Rather than being neutral, the current system of soft polygamy (de facto, but not institutionalized polygamy) has active negative attributes. Polygamy benefits men with high sexual market value and young women, but hurts men of middling to low SMV and older women. As high status men take multiple women out of the market place, the supply of women decreases for all other men.

One of the important solutions offered by traditional monogamous values is the prevention of men like Elliot Rodgers from being marginalized in the sexual market place and becoming deranged and violent. In cultures that allow the practice of polygamy, you generate a large underclass of men with no access to women. This leads to an increase in violence, crime, and excessive risk-taking by the frustrated men who are programmed by evolution to do whatever they can to secure reproductive success at any cost to themselves or society. From the standpoint of natural selection, everything is secondary to reproduction. If your current culture reduces your reproductive fitness to near zero, it is a rational, if morbid, instinct to try to disrupt that culture on the part of young men. If you “kick a friendly dog enough times, you get a nasty dog“.

The prevention of this kind of violence is one of the key reasons for having an institution of monogamous marriage. By monogamous marriage, I am not referring to the pale shadow of the institution that exists today. I refer to an institution that provides large disincentives to both men and women against breaking their vows, which is what existed through most of history. Monogamous marriage subordinates the hypergamous instincts of women to the interests of civilization. Those interests ultimately being to create order and general prosperity, which are more beneficial to women than their unbridled pursuit of the highest SMV males. Ironically, monogamous marriage and its motto of “one man, one wife” was probably the earliest egalitarian ideal. Though this ideal is often proven false in practice due to the innate differences between people, in the case of monogamous marriage it has proven the most conducive organization for advancing a prosperous and stable society. We throw that institution away at our peril. I don’t expect this warning to be heeded though, so you can expect many more Elliot Rodgers in the future.

Here is his chilling last video and his autobiography/manifesto.

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