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Old 4th November 2012, 09:32 AM   #1
joesixpack
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"Intelligence", is it a Noun or a Verb?

OK, I don't mean literally (it's a noun, clearly), but my real question is this, Is intelligence something we have innately or is it something that can be taught? This thread proposes that the human race (with the notable exception of the OP, one presumes) is not intelligent. It elicited this very good response from Wowbabger

Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
Perhaps it might be more accurate to say: Human beings are not as intelligent as they think they are.

Rationality needs to be trained. "Intelligence" takes practice to hone. Some people might be born innately more intelligent than others, in various ways, but that does not guaratee they will actually make intelligent remarks. Too often the intelligent person will assume they could never make stupid remarks, simply because they are an intelligent person.

People routinely make fallacies as if they were solid arguments, not realizing they are not making solid arguments.

You still hear some people saying "I saw it with my own eyes! Would my eyes lie?!", to which I have to point out: "Yes. Your eyes, in fact, constantly lie to you. A lot."

But, we are probably a lot more intelligent than any other species we know about, on average. It will just take some time for most of us to evolve into entities that can out-grow the naive, heuristic-heavy mentality we needed in earlier eras.

Or something like that...
This got me thinking. Is "intelligence" a skill? I know we all say that critical thinking is a skill that can be learned. Is that the same thing as "intelligence"? Do we learn to think rationally and use the rules of logic in the same way we learn to use tools? It seems (to me, at least) that formal logic and critical thought are a human invention, like a spear point or a hammer. They are tools that enable us to "do intelligence", and advance.

Riding a bike is something that nearly everyone is capable of doing. The bike is a tool, the skill needed to operate it is something that we aren't born with, but once taught it, it becomes second nature. Once it is taught, we can all ride it down to the corner store or go visit a friend. We can't all be Lance Armstrong (actually, Lance Armstrong can't be Lance Armstrong either, it seems), but we can all ride the bike over a given distance, just not at the same rate.

To abuse this metaphor even further, it should be noted that even a slow bike rider will cover more ground than all but the fastest runners. So it seems that the skill of bike-riding/intelligence imparts an enormous advantage to the learner, regardless of their putative "innate" abilities. It is, to paraphrase Stephen Gould, the Lamarckian evolution of mankind through cultural adaptation.
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Old 4th November 2012, 11:02 AM   #2
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This is the old "nature vs nurture" question, or the heritability of IQ.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...ns/miller-text

"When they looked at the data on twins' intelligence, Bouchard's team reached a controversial conclusion: For people raised in the same culture with the same opportunities, differences in IQ reflected largely differences in inheritance rather than in training or education. Using data from four different tests, they came up with a heritability score of 0.75 for intelligence, suggesting the strong influence of heredity. This ran counter to the prevailing belief of behaviorists that our brains were blank slates waiting to be inscribed by experience."

It adds an interesting wrinkle to the "inequality" thread: is life fair to those who don't have smart parents? Maybe all newborns should be matched with random parents at the hospital...
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Old 4th November 2012, 11:14 AM   #3
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It's an interesting OP, and question. I watched a movie the other day that I thought would be trivial, but turned out to hold my interest. Limitless, with DeNiro explores the possibility of a drug that makes one super intelligent.

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I felt that they sort of got it right, where the notion of "intelligence" is concerned, except for the nonsensical "20% of our brain" bit. Of course this involved qualities such as incredible memory and super human powers of language learning and business acumen, but also the ability to figure a way out of a dangerous situation, kind of like Navy Seals seem to be trained for.
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Old 4th November 2012, 11:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Pulvinar View Post
This is the old "nature vs nurture" question, or the heritability of IQ.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...ns/miller-text

"When they looked at the data on twins' intelligence, Bouchard's team reached a controversial conclusion: For people raised in the same culture with the same opportunities, differences in IQ reflected largely differences in inheritance rather than in training or education. Using data from four different tests, they came up with a heritability score of 0.75 for intelligence, suggesting the strong influence of heredity. This ran counter to the prevailing belief of behaviorists that our brains were blank slates waiting to be inscribed by experience."

It adds an interesting wrinkle to the "inequality" thread: is life fair to those who don't have smart parents? Maybe all newborns should be matched with random parents at the hospital...
We had a very longish discussion on the validity of "IQ" and so-called "general intelligence" and the difficulty in measuring and quantifying it. I don't think that the evidence of a genetic component of "IQ" (or more properly, "g") is demonstrated by a sample size of less than 150 pairs of twins, especially considering that they are most likely a self-selecting group.

My observation has been that people tend to form an emotional attachment to certain ideas, and then use their innate intelligence to rationalize it. I think the mark of true intelligence and rationality is the ability to minimize the emotional component of cognition, and deal with strictly facts. I have known a number of people who scored quite highly in tests of "g", yet were unable to distinguish facts from opinion or knowledge from belief at even the most fundamental level.
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Old 4th November 2012, 11:53 AM   #5
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Intelligence – whatever that may be

Please define “intelligence”. Psychologists have been trying to do so since … Well, for a very long time. Every time someone produces yet another definition, someone else objects. To be more accurate, large numbers object. It is actually more useful to avoid the term "intelligence" and use the term "ability", which does not have the same negative connotations. For example, I have a very low ability to learn languages but I am pretty good at learning other skills – hand skills for example. (I once surprised an engineering instructor by how quickly I learned the basic skills of a centre lathe! I still have the test piece he set me: "turn by eye a hemisphere on the end of this steel bar".)

The best that can be said (in my (not very humble) opinion – I am a psychologist and have spent a substantial part of my career trying to measure “ability”) is that performance on a wide range of tasks requiring “ability” correlates well across them. Factor analytic studies by and large show a single major factor. This doesn’t mean that all those people who are good at X are always also good at Y, but across a population those who are good at X are generally good at Y. It is this correlation which we call intelligence. This is, incidentally, not the same as “aptitude” – a different ball game altogether.

The heritability factor is a different question, but with a similar answer. High achieving parents tend to have high achieving offspring, although regression to the mean does effect this somewhat, as do social and opportunistic factors. This also does not mean that low achieving parents always have low achieving children – regression to the mean again.
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Old 4th November 2012, 12:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by joesixpack View Post
I have known a number of people who scored quite highly in tests of "g", yet were unable to distinguish facts from opinion or knowledge from belief at even the most fundamental level.
This rather reminds me of a degree level question I once set after teaching a one year course on "rationality".

"I am rational; you are peculiar; they should be locked up. Discuss." No one even attempted it. (My aim was get them to explore the idea that "rationality" is a very subjective concept.)

"I am intelligent. You are OK. They are thick."
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Old 4th November 2012, 12:14 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by joesixpack View Post
It seems (to me, at least) that formal logic and critical thought are a human invention, like a spear point or a hammer. They are tools that enable us to "do intelligence", and advance.
I think this a fair statement.

There is no doubt that there are strong genetic factors involved with intelligence (no matter how it is defined). But, the "acting level of intelligence" can vary. A person born with genes of very high intelligence (regardless of how we are measuring it) can still make very stupid mistakes, especially since that person might be prone assume he or she is too smart to make them. Those folks have to be trained to let go of their own ego, so to speak.

Yet, some people with below average intelligence can train their brains to think about things in vastly more intelligent ways than the average person: Either through critical/skeptical thinking exercises, or obtaining an enthusiasm for science, or learning the philosophy of debate, etc.

With more information readily available to the average person, and training to be able to filter out the bad stuff from the good stuff becoming more important and a little more prevalent: We might just be entering an Era of the Everyman Genius!

Originally Posted by joesixpack View Post
It is, to paraphrase Stephen Gould, the Lamarckian evolution of mankind through cultural adaptation.
I think it is more accurate to say there is a Lamarckian cultural evolution that could be influencing the Darwinian evolution of mankind (though the evidence of that impact is spotty, at best).

Originally Posted by Paul W View Post
Please define “intelligence”. Psychologists have been trying to do so since … Well, for a very long time. Every time someone produces yet another definition, someone else objects.
Why should there be only one, definitive definition of "intelligence" that should suit everyone?

Why can't there be different working definitions of intelligence, each one suited to the specific aspect of the human mind and ability being studied?

My own comments were general enough to apply to any reasonable definition of "intelligence". If we want to talk specifics and technicalities, we can do that, and appropriate definitions can be applied. But, I also think there is value in talking about these issues in a more general sense, that would apply to most or all of the various ways intelligence is measured.
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Old 4th November 2012, 12:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Paul W View Post
Please define “intelligence”. ...
Here's part of the trouble. I'm looking at "intelligence" as an action vs. an ability.

"But, though all our knowledge begins with experience, it by no means follows that all arises out of experience. For, on the contrary, it is quite possible that our empirical knowledge is a compound of that which we receive through impressions, and that which the faculty of cognition supplies from itself "

I think the second part, what Kant is referring to here as the faculty of cognition, is something that is only present in the most embryonic form in the untrained mind. It is something that can be taught, and I think that people can be taught how to think in the same way that they can be taught how to read.

Human intelligence is something that grows in proportion to the amount of knowledge and abilities one is in possession of. Intelligence as an ability separate from knowledge is impossible to measure, which puts it in the same realm as auras and chakras.
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Old 4th November 2012, 12:50 PM   #9
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Intelligence is influenced by environment. There may well be people among the less fortunate millions on Earth who have the potential to become highly intelligent and to achieve greatness, but will never have the chance to do so because of the environment and conditions in which they live.

This weekend, I watched the first programme in a 2010 BBC TV series called "Genius". It was presented by Sir David Attenborough and Stephen Hawking along with other specialists in various fields of science. It focuses on the achievements of scientists and how they have changed the world we live in.

The first programme was about the interactions between Sir Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley, Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle. This clip is pasted straight from the promo....

"In the winter of 1664, a comet streaked across the skies above England and helped change the world. Five men who watched that comet were inspired to question the world around them and in the process made discoveries that formed the basis of much of modern science."

It was a fascinating watch.

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Old 4th November 2012, 01:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I think this a fair statement.

There is no doubt that there are strong genetic factors involved with intelligence (no matter how it is defined). But, the "acting level of intelligence" can vary. A person born with genes of very high intelligence (regardless of how we are measuring it) can still make very stupid mistakes, especially since that person might be prone assume he or she is too smart to make them. Those folks have to be trained to let go of their own ego, so to speak.
I'm glad you joined the discussion.

Having said that, I have to take issue with "There is no doubt that there are strong genetic factors involved with intelligence". Though we could certainly say that there have been many studies that purport to show this, I think there enough objections to it that it shouldn't be taken as fact.


Quote:

I think it is more accurate to say there is a Lamarckian cultural evolution that could be influencing the Darwinian evolution of mankind (though the evidence of that impact is spotty, at best).
I wasn't suggesting (and neither was Gould) that cultural evolution was reflected in or influencing Darwinian evolution. The change in cultural acceptance of logic won't affect anyone's DNA. What I was saying was that human intelligence is something that grows with greater emergence of rational thought as a means of solving problems.
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Old 4th November 2012, 05:19 PM   #11
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It's a stat for raising magical accuracy and resistance.

Also, combined with Mind, it buffs the effectiveness of most spells.

Just saying.
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Old 4th November 2012, 10:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
Yet, some people with below average intelligence can train their brains to think about things in vastly more intelligent ways than the average person: Either through critical/skeptical thinking exercises, or obtaining an enthusiasm for science, or learning the philosophy of debate, etc.

With more information readily available to the average person, and training to be able to filter out the bad stuff from the good stuff becoming more important and a little more prevalent: We might just be entering an Era of the Everyman Genius!
If Everyman was interested in making the effort, maybe. If you believe that, I have some prime real estate in the Everglades that I'd like to sell you.
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Old 5th November 2012, 03:20 AM   #13
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it is a noun.

Funny post.

Shows we are not very intelligent.
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Old 5th November 2012, 04:15 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bill Thompson View Post
it is a noun.

Funny post.

Shows we are not very intelligent.
Actually, going by my initial premise (and analogy), you should make the argument that humans are incapable of riding bikes because you've seen people who don't.
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Old 5th November 2012, 07:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by joesixpack View Post
Having said that, I have to take issue with "There is no doubt that there are strong genetic factors involved with intelligence". Though we could certainly say that there have been many studies that purport to show this, I think there enough objections to it that it shouldn't be taken as fact.
To better answer the question of the opening post: I think intelligence can be used as both a noun and a verb.

It is an emergent phenomena arising out of many factors:

There are empirical ways in which we can measure intelligence in a human, even if they are not perfect, not complete, and controversial for other reasons. I think there are genes that can make one more prone to act intelligently than otherwise.

Though, it might also be worth remembering that intelligence might be domain specific. That is, someone can be highly intelligent in one area, but pathetically stupid in almost all others. In fact, given some recent science I was reading about on the subject: This is something we should now be expecting. There might not even be such a thing as an all-purpose "intelligence" in humans, at all. At least not innately.


BUT: There are environmental and educational factors to consider. If one TRAINS THEIR BRAIN in just the right ways, they can rise above the limits of their own genes. Humans can learn to think and act in ways that are recognized as more generally intelligent, in almost all ways it can be measured.

If both are true, then intelligence is both a noun and verb; but more accurately: An emergent phenomenon.

Originally Posted by timhau View Post
If Everyman was interested in making the effort, maybe. If you believe that, I have some prime real estate in the Everglades that I'd like to sell you.
There is potential for Everyman to become a genius, if they desired to. Skeptical, humanistic, and science-enthusiast social groups are on an upswing.

Perhaps most "Everypeople" are not willing to make that effort, yet. But, I see this as a growing trend. Something more people will be willing to do, over time.
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Old 5th November 2012, 08:02 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bill Thompson View Post
it is a noun.

Funny post.

Shows we are not very intelligent.
Perhaps, in your next post, you will finally contribute something of value to the discussion.
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Old 5th November 2012, 01:46 PM   #17
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Intelligence", is it a Noun or a Verb?

Yes.
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Old 5th November 2012, 05:46 PM   #18
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"Intelligence" is a noun.

Normally, Americans are pretty good at using nouns as verbs (eg young people can expect to be "card"ed at night clubs) but I am struggling to find a way to use "intelligence" as a verb. (Would something like, "management will intelligence the staff in this office" mean anything?)
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Old 5th November 2012, 06:27 PM   #19
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I think of intelligence as "ability to understand." I also firmly believe that there are different kinds of intelligence, depending on what one is trying to understand. I have a very high ability to understand word meanings (verbal intelligence) but rather low ability to understand social interactions (social intelligence) and either average or low ability to understand how to manipulate objects, especially representations of 3-dimensional objects on a 2-dimensional surface.

For a long time I believed that my verbal ability came from exposure in childhood and a good education (including Latin in high school). However, I gradually became aware that I also remember word meanings and spellings better than other people, partly because I can easily visualize them in my mind. This is a rather complex basis for verbal intelligence, and I wonder if any studies have been done trying to evaluate these various strands.

I don't mean to come across as bragging, by the way. One thing I've noticed as I age is that my ability to understand new concepts is weakening along with my muscles.
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Old 5th November 2012, 10:06 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Paul W View Post
This rather reminds me of a degree level question I once set after teaching a one year course on "rationality".

"I am rational; you are peculiar; they should be locked up. Discuss." No one even attempted it. (My aim was get them to explore the idea that "rationality" is a very subjective concept.)

"I am intelligent. You are OK. They are thick."
They didn't attempt it?

I'd say they all answered it, but you were too dim to understand.



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Old 18th November 2012, 11:14 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post

I'd say they all answered it, but you were too dim to understand.
Quite simply, your post is stupid. Offence intended.
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Old 19th November 2012, 02:44 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Pulvinar View Post
This is the old "nature vs nurture" question, or the heritability of IQ.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...ns/miller-text

"When they looked at the data on twins' intelligence, Bouchard's team reached a controversial conclusion: For people raised in the same culture with the same opportunities, differences in IQ reflected largely differences in inheritance rather than in training or education. Using data from four different tests, they came up with a heritability score of 0.75 for intelligence, suggesting the strong influence of heredity. This ran counter to the prevailing belief of behaviorists that our brains were blank slates waiting to be inscribed by experience."

It adds an interesting wrinkle to the "inequality" thread: is life fair to those who don't have smart parents? Maybe all newborns should be matched with random parents at the hospital...
How exactly does that contradict the blank slate theory given the highlighted part? (I'm not saying I agree with the blank slate theory, but I think it doesn't exactly mean that nurture isn't important too.)
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Old 19th November 2012, 06:14 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
How exactly does that contradict the blank slate theory given the highlighted part? (I'm not saying I agree with the blank slate theory, but I think it doesn't exactly mean that nurture isn't important too.)
The blank slate (tabula rasa) theory is that little or no part of our intelligence comes from heredity. The twin study shows that a large part of it does-- that's a contradiction. It doesn't need to show that all intelligence comes from heredity, which is the only case where the conditions in the highlighted part wouldn't matter when making the measurement.
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Old 19th November 2012, 01:42 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Pulvinar View Post
The blank slate (tabula rasa) theory is that little or no part of our intelligence comes from heredity. The twin study shows that a large part of it does-- that's a contradiction. It doesn't need to show that all intelligence comes from heredity, which is the only case where the conditions in the highlighted part wouldn't matter when making the measurement.
The twin study is deeply flawed, as I said above. I can't say that there is NO genetic component to intelligence, because it is a human trait and as such it is ipso facto inherited (like bipedalism or ears on the side of the head), but I wonder how much innate ability would be lost in the background noise of environmental factors. The question that was never really resolved in the other very long thread is whether IQ or "g" is a meaningful measure of intelligence or not.

Like I also said above, the ability to use logic and critical thinking skills present a huge advantage over innate ability alone. How much advantage does education (assuming that it is the best education available) have over innate ability?
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Old 19th November 2012, 03:35 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by joesixpack View Post
The twin study is deeply flawed, as I said above.
I haven't seen your support for what you stated. The Minnesota study is not the only one that arrives at this result-- the majority do. The sample size of all of those is certainly much larger than 150.

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I can't say that there is NO genetic component to intelligence, because it is a human trait and as such it is ipso facto inherited (like bipedalism or ears on the side of the head), but I wonder how much innate ability would be lost in the background noise of environmental factors. The question that was never really resolved in the other very long thread is whether IQ or "g" is a meaningful measure of intelligence or not.
"g" has been found to correlate well not just with taking IQ tests, but with job success. Whether or not you call that factor intelligence, it's clearly useful.

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Like I also said above, the ability to use logic and critical thinking skills present a huge advantage over innate ability alone. How much advantage does education (assuming that it is the best education available) have over innate ability?
The majority of the studies say that about half of the variability is from heredity. Not a "huge advantage" for either side.
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Old 19th November 2012, 07:51 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Pulvinar View Post
The blank slate (tabula rasa) theory is that little or no part of our intelligence comes from heredity. The twin study shows that a large part of it does-- that's a contradiction. It doesn't need to show that all intelligence comes from heredity, which is the only case where the conditions in the highlighted part wouldn't matter when making the measurement.
Yeah, sorry. I've never believed the tabula rasa theory. You're right.

I'm more of a 50/50 nature/nurture guy. Both extremes seem rather silly to me. Although it might be 60/40 or 70/30 one way or the other, but clearly both are important.
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Old 21st November 2012, 06:13 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Pulvinar View Post
I haven't seen your support for what you stated. The Minnesota study is not the only one that arrives at this result-- the majority do. The sample size of all of those is certainly much larger than 150.
Sorry, the heritability of "g" was talked to death in the other thread that I linked to above. As far as a twin study, I am not aware of any other twin study except the one you mention above, which is hardly a slam dunk. If there are other, less self selecting surveys with larger sample sizes I'd be happy to look at them. The very nature of the population which is being studied makes it almost impossible to construct such a test. The number of twins separated at birth is vanishingly small, and the number adopted out to widely divergent socioeconomic situations is even smaller.

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"g" has been found to correlate well not just with taking IQ tests, but with job success. Whether or not you call that factor intelligence, it's clearly useful.
I think 'g' measures cultural assimilation along with some problem solving ability.

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The majority of the studies say that about half of the variability is from heredity. Not a "huge advantage" for either side.
Like I said above, I have come to accept that some of intelligence must be inherited, but I am still very skeptical that 'g' is an accurate measure of intelligence or innate ability.
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Old 21st November 2012, 08:23 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by joesixpack View Post
Sorry, the heritability of "g" was talked to death in the other thread that I linked to above. As far as a twin study, I am not aware of any other twin study except the one you mention above, which is hardly a slam dunk. If there are other, less self selecting surveys with larger sample sizes I'd be happy to look at them. The very nature of the population which is being studied makes it almost impossible to construct such a test. The number of twins separated at birth is vanishingly small, and the number adopted out to widely divergent socioeconomic situations is even smaller.



I think 'g' measures cultural assimilation along with some problem solving ability.



Like I said above, I have come to accept that some of intelligence must be inherited, but I am still very skeptical that 'g' is an accurate measure of intelligence or innate ability.
Talking a subject to death doesn't add evidence-- it can always be among like-minded individuals. There are many twin studies other than the born-together-reared-apart one. Start with the references here.
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Old 21st November 2012, 08:52 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Pulvinar View Post
Talking a subject to death doesn't add evidence-- it can always be among like-minded individuals.
Who said we were in agreement on that thread? When I said it was talked to death I meant the debate on it was rather interminable.
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There are many twin studies other than the born-together-reared-apart one. Start with the references here.
Identical twin studies that place genetically identical twins in different developmental backgrounds are the most reliable way to separate genetic from environmental factors. There are almost zero of these done. Those that have been done are almost worthless based on sample size.

But again, I'm not denying that there is some underlying genetic component to 'g'. I suspect , and what I'm suggesting here, is that formal logic and critical thinking (and education) are tools that provide a greater advantage than innate ability alone.
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