Ignore IQ Tests: Your Level of Intelligence Is Not Fixed for Life

IQ test

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

We’re getting more stupid. That’s one point made in a recent article in the New Scientist, reporting on a gradual decline in IQs in developed countries such as the UK, Australia and the Netherlands. Such research feeds into a long-held fascination with testing human intelligence. Yet such debates are too focused on IQ as a lifelong trait that can’t be changed. Other research is beginning to show the opposite.

The concept of testing intelligence was first successfully devised by French psychologists in the early 1900s to help describe differences in how well and quickly children learn at school. But it is now frequently used to explain that difference – that we all have a fixed and inherent level of intelligence that limits how fast we can learn.

Defined loosely, intelligence refers to our ability to learn quickly and adapt to new situations. IQ tests measure our vocabulary, our ability to problem-solve, reason logically and so on.

But what many people fail to understand is that if IQ tests measured only our skills at these particular tasks, no one would be interested in our score. The score is interesting only because it is thought to be fixed for life.

Who Is Getting Smarter?

Standardized IQ tests used by clinical psychologists for diagnostic purposes, such as the Weschler scale, are designed in such a way that it is not easy to prepare for them. The contents are kept surprisingly secret and they are changed regularly. The score given for an individual is a relative one, adjusted based on the performance of people of the same age.

But even as we become better educated and more skillful at the types of tasks measured on IQ tests (a phenomenon known as the “Flynn effect”, after James Flynn who first noted it) our IQs stay pretty much the same. This is because the IQ scoring system takes into account the amount of improvement expected over time, and then discounts it. This type of score is called a “standardized score” – it hides your true score and merely represents your standing in relation to your peers who have also been getting smarter at about the same rate.

This apparent stability in IQ scores makes intelligence look relatively constant, whereas in fact we are all becoming more intelligent across and within our lifetimes. The IQ test and the IQ scoring system are constantly adjusted to ensure that the average IQ remains at 100, despite a well-noted increase in intellectual ability worldwide.

Politics of IQ Testing

Psychologists are aware that intelligence scores are somewhat subject to cultural influence and social opportunity, but some have still insisted that we cannot raise our IQ by much. This is because our general intelligence (or “g”) is a fixed trait that is insensitive to education, “brain training,” diet, or other interventions. In other words, they say, we are all biologically limited in our intelligence levels.

The idea that IQ is fixed for life is built into the questionable politics of IQ testing. The most serious consequence of this is the use of IQ tests to blame educational difficulties on students rather than on teaching systems.

But it is the job of psychologists to find better ways to teach, not to find better ways to justify the poor performance of students. This particular use of IQ tests has caused one leader in the field of intelligence research, Robert Sternberg, to refer to IQ testing as “negative psychology” in a 2008 article.

All Is Not Lost

Those who hang dearly onto the notion that IQ is fixed for life have managed to ignore decades of published research in the field of applied behavior analysis. This has reported very large IQ gains in children with autism who have been exposed to early intensive behavioral interventions once they have been diagnosed with learning difficulties.

Another 2009 Norwegian study examined the effects of an increase in the duration of compulsory schooling in Norway in the 1960s which lengthened the time in education for Norwegians by two years. The researchers used records of cognitive ability taken by the military to calculate the IQ of each individual in the study. They found that IQ had increased by 3.7 points for every extra year of education received.

More recent studies by John Jonides and his colleagues at the University of Michigan reported improvements in objective measures of intelligence for those who practiced a brain-training task called the “n-back task” – a kind of computerized memory test.

My own research, in the field of relational frame theory, has shown that understanding relations between words, such as “more than,” “less than” or “opposite” is crucial for our intellectual development. One recent pilot study showed that we can considerably raise standard IQ scores by training children in relational language skills tasks over a period of months. Again, this finding challenges the idea that intelligence is fixed for life.

So it’s about time we reconsidered our ideas about the nature of intelligence as a trait that cannot be changed. Undoubtedly, there may be some limits to the development of our intellectual skills. But in the short term, the socially responsible thing to do is not to feel bound by those limits, but to help every child work towards and even exceed them.

 

Image by Wichy / ShutterstockThe Conversation

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  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    But what many people fail to understand is that if IQ tests measured only our skills at these particular tasks, no one would be interested in our score.

    -This absolute nonsense without a citation remains absolute nonsense without a citation.
    .
    The question is not whether IQ can be substantially affected by the environment. The question is whether IQ can be substantially positively affected in a lasting fashion after age 17. The “Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory” paper is certainly interesting, but it is an outlier. Replication is needed.

  • cbusenke

    humans already have far more intelligence than they ever needed and exponentially more brain power than 99% ever put to use. I can’t believe we’re getting smarter, either a statistical skew from the subjects selected or the test is being adjusted like social security payments. AHRA, the average human retardation adjustment. I’m not using the word dropped from common usage because of the bastards that use it to refer to those with mental challenges. I’m using to refer to the masses, folks who make tv shows like kardashians a profitable enterprise, Darwin award winners like the gun safety instructor who just got killed because his 8 year old student couldn’t handle the full auto UZI he gave her, etc…intelligence is a curse. I think we’ll set up AI that works well enough for them to take off and leave us here to fade into fossil status. wow, I’m not feeling so cheery today. apologies all

    • lucan

      Experience counts for a lot of our intelligence….and,it does count even though it isn’t added into the IQ score.

  • duguesclin

    Keep the denial of the G factor. Good luck with that. Nobody -of importance- has ever said that you cannot train to score more in IQ tests. What it’s been said, and demonstrated again and again, is that relative distances between individuals stay the same if they receive the same training. Also, that in the long term, almost all the gains obtained from that training are lost if the individuals don’t keep training. In fact, the older the individuals get, the more they re-approach their base IQ if they stop working on it.

    • ericlipps

      Spearman’s g isn’t holy writ; it’s a hypothesis, and one with some significant problems.

      Even if you were right, though, the unhappy fact is that individuals in our society don’t “receive the same training.” Or the same feeding, or the same medical care. Therefore, observed differences among groups (which is what the biggest flap is about) can’t reliably be ascribed to genetics.

      • Hayden Smith

        That is utterly beside the point.

        • ericlipps

          No, it isn’t. You’re assuming a great deal.

          For one thing, I wasn’t talking about training for the IQ test, the way so may people do for the SATs. I was talking about both formal education and the informal sort everyone gets in the course of living their lives. Someone in the inner city who has grown up poor in a violent neighborhood will not get the same stimulus, the same medical care or the same nutrition that someone born into a stable middle-class environment will.

          And that matters. there probably is some underlying genetics-based level of intelligence, but how genes are actually expressed depends on environmental factors. One could be born with the genetics for genius, but if one grows up in dire poverty eating lead paint chips to dull hunger pangs (reportedly, they taste sweet, which of course makes them tempting to hungry little kids) one isn’t likely to reach one’s full theoretical potential. Ditto if one simply grows up seriously malnourished, or was born to an alcoholic mother, or . . . but why go on?

          It always amazes me that so many people are willing to concede that a bad environment can stunt physical growth but turn on a dime when the issue is IQ–especially when the issue is IQ differences between economic or racial groups.

          • Don’t Even Try It!

            …and that could explain why the IQ of the average “Black” is only 85% that of the average “White” person.

          • ericlipps

            Actually, those statistics are outdated; the gap is less now.
            But there are other factors, as well. When IQ tests first came in, they were applied to, among others, Eastern European Jews–who were found to average out as subnormal. Such findings were used to justify immigration restrictions which were still in effect in the late 1930s, when Jews were desperately trying to escape Europe before Hitler’s thugs caught up with them. Now, of course, anti-Semites warn of the danger posed by Jews’ supposedly superior intelligence.
            The point being that IQ tests don’t actually measure intelligence, but rather competence in a carefully selected set of skills which are believed to contribute to success in school–and in America, the tests rest not only on fluency in standard English but on assumed familiarity with various items of the (white)majority culture.

          • Don’t Even Try It!

            I appreciate the information. Thanks, I guess we are never too old to learn.

          • Reg

            That was the first time in history, and the last, that Jews were accused of being stupid.

            As for American blacks, their neighborhoods may be a tad unkempt, but by world standards they are amazingly rich. Big-city libraries are far better stocked than suburban ones, and there is no charge to use them.

          • ericlipps

            And what difference does that make, if you’re given so miserable an early education that you can’t read at all or at best find reading difficult, and if those of your peers who actually do succeed academically tend to be treated (not always, but too often) as “discipline problems” until they take the hint and resume their assigned place at the bottom of the heap? Even white kids who are too studious and get grades that “spoil the curve” take loads of crap, and it’s far worse for blacks.

          • Hard–Truth

            These foolish statements of yours have no merit. Blacks can’t read because their black teachers don’t know how to teach them? No, that’s not it. They don’t have the wit, or the desire, to learn to read competently. You know nothing about what goes on in schools. You are living in a fantasy world.

          • Hard–Truth

            Blacks growing up in upper class homes experience the same one standard deviation deficiency compared to their white peers, as other blacks in lower classes.
            Your argument about environment, is a losing argument.
            IQ tests don’t actually measure intelligence? What do they measure? Proficiency at playing marbles? And why (in a short span of time) do SE Asian boat people outperform blacks who have lived in this country for centuries?
            You should try finding a topic to talk about that you actually know something about, cause this ain’t it.

          • ericlipps

            See my earlier post about what IQ tests were designed to measure. Then take for yourself the advice you give in your final paragraph.

          • Hard–Truth

            Bad news for you ericlipps, you are an ignorant fool. As it happens, I actually do know something about intelligence testing.
            You think talking about something that happened almost a century ago is a good anti-IQ test argument? Stupidity on steroids.
            Do you condemn the practice of physics today, because a century ago conventional wisdom was a “steady state” universe?
            How about medicine? Using dangerous levels of x-rays, and other counterporductive practices a hundred years ago, is a reason to condemn what doctors do now?
            The current (and last several decades) practices/standards for the use of IQ tests, have produced highly accurate results in the measurement of intelligence.
            Based on your repeated ignorant comments, it is unlikely you even know the original purpose of the first IQ test. (You would have to use google, to find out.)
            You libtards think a leftist ideology is sufficient to suffuse yourselves with knowledge and wisdom. In that, you are completely misguided.

          • ericlipps

            The point of bringing up Burt is that many, if not most, subsequent researchers who concluded that IQ was mostly hereditary somehow managed to come up with estimates of its heritability that just happened to match Burt’s, despite the fact that his work (unknown to them) was fraudulent—inviting the suspicion that they took Burt’s numbers as gospel in the first place and built their own research to yield confirming results.

            Your references to physics and medicine are non sequiturs (look it up). The astronomers and doctors of a century ago were wrong, but they weren’t frauds. And as it happens, I do know the original purpose of IQ tests (which, for all I know, you looked up on Google): to identify school-age children who were mentally retarded and therefore would be unlikely to keep up with their age-mates in school.

            By the way, you don’t help your credibility by descending to insulting epithets like “libtards” and babbling about “leftist ideology.” Based on your repeated ignorant comments, one might conclude that you’re just another obnoxious Internet troll.

          • Hard–Truth

            I know that Burt’s research has been refuted. Others, doing research on intelligence, also know it. Therefore they do not base their work on Burt’s.
            Look it up? Look up what? If you are referring to non sequitur, I don’t have to look it up (in order to know the meaning).
            Your putative knowledge about the purpose of the original test of mental ability is, …… wrong. Try googling Alfred Binet. [This is information I have known for decades, as I spent a good deal of time teaching college classes that dealt with this topic.]
            (BTW – the original test was not even referred to as an IQ test. That was a later development.)
            The use of “libtard” and “leftist ideology” is just for “truth in labeling.”
            It is leftists who are pushing an agenda that is in conflict with the truth.
            You assert my comments were ignorant, but you have presented no evidence that anything I said was incorrect.
            The reasonable inference from that, is that you are “just another obnoxious internet troll.”

          • Hard–Truth

            So, ericlipps, you think there is not a link between intelligence and heredity? Read it and weep.
            —————–
            (a partial reference only)

            More Genes Regulating Intelligence Found Just Recently

            The article below which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience on December 21, 2015, shows a major finding in which two different networks were associated with IQ and also with epilepsy and cognitive impairment syndromes. They called the networks M1 and M3.

            They likened the networks to a football team where all of the players have to be lined up in their particular positions in order for the network to work well. However, if these genes are in the wrong order or if they are mutated, the networks can cause epilepsy, autism spectrum disorders and mental retardation.

            In addition, a new study in the UK found that 65% of the difference in students’ GSCE scores was caused by genetics.

            Researchers have believed for some time that intellect is inherited with studies suggesting that up to 75 per cent of IQ is genetic, and the rest down to environmental factors such as schooling and friendship groups.

            Now Imperial College London has found that two networks of genes determine whether people are intelligent or not-so-bright.

            They liken the gene network to a football team. When all the players are in the right positions, the brain appears to function optimally, leading to clarity of thought and what we think of as quickness or cleverness.

            However when the genes are mutated or in the wrong order, it can lead to dullness of thinking, or even serious cognitive impairments.

            “We know that genetics plays a major role in intelligence but until now haven’t known which genes are relevant,” said Dr Michael Johnson, lead author of the study from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College.

            “This research highlights some of genes involved in human intelligence, and how they interact with each other.

            Earlier this year a team at King’s College London discovered that up to 65 per cent of the difference in pupil’s GCSE grades was down to genetics, after analyzing genetic data from 12,500 twins.

            They found that all exam results were highly heritable, demonstrating that genes explain a larger proportion of the differences between children, between 54 and 65 per cent.

            Previously it was thought that intelligence was determined by the formation of the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the human brain, also known as ‘grey matter.’ Grey matter plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought and language.

            In contrast shared environmental factors such as home and school environment contributed between 14 and 21 per cent. The rest was made up by individual external influences such as diseases or friends.

          • Hard–Truth

            Its clear, you are a complete idiot. Eating paint chips in the ghetto due to hunger, is far, far less of a problem than obesity. What a stupid argument. Are you unaware of food stamps, and all the other goodies provided by the nanny state for the last fifty years?
            The president of Brown University is a black woman who grew up in a Houston ghetto. How do you suppose that happened? Ever hear of Dr. Ben Carson? How do you think he grew up? In an upper class home?
            Try not to be a moron.

          • arekexcelsior

            Lots of research these days as to exposure to lead and its effect on criminality, IQ, etc. It’s a HUGE signal: Might explain the drop in crime in the 90s.

          • Hard–Truth

            So, every stupid criminal who grew up in a ghetto had a steady diet of lead paint? You must have an over active imagination.

          • ericlipps

            You’ve got the argument all wrong. It’s not that every stupid criminal who grew up in a ghetto ate lead paint as a child; it’s that eating head paint can damage a child’s brain, which isn’t in dispute, and that people in poor urban neighborhoods are more likely to live in homes with peeling paint than those who don’t, neither of which points is in dispute.
            And it’s interesting that you say “criminal,” since this issue affects people whether they turn out to be criminals or not. Or do you think every stupid person is a criminal, or that every criminal is stupid? Or do you just assume that black people in ghetto areas are all dumb thugs by nature?

          • Hard–Truth

            There are some basic issues involved. How many ate lead paint? How much lead paint did they eat? Over what period of time did they eat the lead paint? Did they always eat the same amount of lead paint? What was their age range when they ate the lead paint? Are all lead based paints identical? Does the lead in the paint degrade over the lifetime of the paint?
            Without knowing the answers to these questions, and others, reaching clear conclusions is not possible.
            Like I said previously, with food stamps being around for the past half century, and free meals in school lunch rooms, why would anyone assume children are going to be eating paint?
            And if there IS pealing paint within reach of a child, why don’t the parents – sorry, why doesn’t the mother do something about it? And how big of a problem IS pealing paint? It may have been a problem in the early years of the last century, but welfare housing in recent decades has very likely changed, with a concomitant decrease in the use of lead paint.
            Absolute statements, of course, are almost always wrong. But most criminals (though not all) are on the lower end of the IQ spectrum.
            I think that is conventional wisdom in criminology. If you have an interest in knowing if “black people in ghetto areas are all dumb thugs by nature?” you could have a look at FBI crime statistics. That should answer many of your questions.

          • ericlipps

            Aaaand another post from the troll.
            Why do I say “troll”? Because your idea of “argument” includes tossing around insults. Evidently you’re more interested in venting your prejudices and your contempt for those who don’t share them than you are in rational discussion.

          • Hard–Truth

            You may not have noticed, but a very common, almost universal practice of libtards, when communicating with conservatives, is to use all sorts of vile invective (spurious though it is) aimed at their adversary.
            Therefore, due to a concept in linguistics (known as pragmatics) which asserts that for communication to be most effective, it is advisable to employ the sort of semantic style commonly used by the opposite member of the dyad.
            Thus, describing you in unflattering terms is just an efficacious part of the conversational landscape.
            If you will review your own comments about me, you will find they include the repeated use of the word “troll.”
            Is this a “rational” enough explanation for you?

            Are your reading comprehension skills so deficient that you really could not comprehend the information I presented? Maybe if you read the documentation three or four (or more) times, it might begin to dawn on you that the research demonstrated that genes are the primary determinant of intelligence, and that environment plays a far lesser role.

            The post began this way.

            So, ericlipps, you think there is not a link between intelligence and heredity? Read it and weep.
            —————–
            (a partial reference only)

            More Genes Regulating Intelligence Found Just Recently

          • Michelle Crosby

            I think the idiot may be you! Stop trying to throw around your big pseudo intellect, some of us with misley little IQs of 120 can still see through bullshit!

            Kudos to you ericlipps for not resorting to imtimidation, and insults. I believe you won the iq conundrum.

          • Hard–Truth

            The interaction between the expression of genes and the influence of environmental factors is known as epigenetics. And it has limitations. Look into ZPD, the “zone of proximal development.”

      • duguesclin

        Yes, because it is impossible to compensate on those variables. It’s impossible to design the studies to compensate for that, right?

        Except that this has been done systematically, consistently, since the fifties or before.

        The truth is that some people will always deny any and all congenital differences in any and all human parameters just because for them absolute equality and meliorism are moral apriorisms.

        • ericlipps

          Actually, it isn’t possible to “compensate” for (not “on”) those variables, and it has therefore not been done “since the fifties or before.” See my prior comment.

          At this point, it’s probably worth nothing that the seminal study in this regard, by Britain’s Cyril Burt, which concluded that IQ differences both among individuals and between groups was 80 percent inherited, has been exposed as outright fraudulent. Burt claimed to derive his conclusion from a study of twins raised together versus twins raised apart–but not only do his numbers not add up, it turns out that at least some of the twin pairs he claimed to have examined didn’t even exist. His work was swallowed eagerly, it seems, because it confirmed what people wanted to believe–that people occupy the social positions for which nature and God meant them.

          And even if none of this were true, 80 percent heritability isn’t the same as 80 percent genetic, because we “inherit” our parents’ (and usually their parents’) social conditions, and these can make a big difference in how, or even whether, we grow up. “Heritability” in the genetic sense is a lot easier to establish in a pea patch á la Mendel than in human society.

      • Hard–Truth

        Wrong. Thomas Bouchard’s research has demonstrated the primacy of heredity in determining intelligence. Environment is a distant second.
        g has more evidence for it than alternative conceptions of intelligence.

        • ericlipps

          Bouchard’s research founders on a fundamentally flawed notion of “heritability.”
          Suppose (remember, this is a hypothetical example) that you have two populations, initially equal in IQ, and that one is given an adequate diet white the other is systematically given a poor one. (Again, remember that this is a hypothetical: in the real-life case we’re talking about the whole environment, not just diet.) Would it be surprising if, in the second generation and beyond, they diverged? Or that those differences would eventually stabilize at some level determined by the degree to which the second population was malnourished?
          “Heritability” measures the degree to which offspring resemble their parents. It does not measure the degree to which differences between groups are due to genetic differences.
          As for your claim that blacks growing up in upper-class homes show exactly the same difference from whites in measured IQ as those growing up in poor homes do to whites in (presumably) those same upper-class homes, that’s nonsense and either you know it or you should know it.

        • arekexcelsior

          Bouchard’s research is as fraudulent as Burt’s.

          • Hard–Truth

            And your evidence? Nothing, nada, zip. Ok. Bouchard should be expelled from the APA, and have all of his publications extirpated.
            Just because you say so. Be sure to let all the relevant organizations know about your decision.

  • ericlipps

    But what many people fail to understand is that if IQ tests measured only our skills at these particular tasks, no one would be interested in our score.

    On the contrary; the first IQ tests were originally designed to identify individuals who were likely either to have trouble keeping up in school or, at the other extreme, were likely to be exceptional students who might benefit from enhanced instruction. It didn’t take long, though, for people to find other, less benign uses for them.

  • karldwed

    “This apparent stability in IQ scores makes intelligence look relatively constant, whereas in fact we are all becoming more intelligent across and within our lifetimes.”

    It isn’t certain that the “Flynn effect” reflects any real changes in general cognitive ability (what most people call intelligence). Hollow IQ gains caused by changes in education and test familiarity are two reasonable hypothesis.

    • cbusenke

      it’s also worth noting the expression “in like Flynn” was created to refer to Errol Flynn and his many successes with women and the fact that he had a large penis

    • facefault

      Why call changes in IQ from education “hollow”? People’s abilities matter more than how they came by those abilities.

  • Raymond Rogers

    “My own research, in the field of relational frame theory, has shown that understanding relations between words, such as “more than,” “less than” or “opposite” is crucial for our intellectual development”

    Is Roche making a subtle dig at his fellow psychologist’s IQ?

    In any case: the comments here and some of the article above treat IQ as though it was a real thing. I have the contrary view that it is just a made up thing (perhaps like Christo’s art) with no objective reality. A collection of questions and scores that that try to evaluate how well a person will do in a particular culture (ours); it is correlated with that but that doesn’t make it an objective thing. I think a culture like Genghis Khan’s or Ancient Sparta would make up different scores because the intellectual parts that go into living would be weighted differently. Trying to sum up the multiple factors in human thinking by one number is a fools errand. In fact I believe some long term study in the 1930’s showed that high IQ only moderately correlated with social or intellectual success. Or another example that I read is that Napoleon only had an IQ of about 128 (Incidentally I don’t know if that is really held to be true ). I would say the weighting in the tests/factors were a poor indicator of “social success” in that case.

    • Hayden Smith

      I am dying to hear how Napoleon’s IQ would have been tested. The test came into existence decades after he died.

      • Hayden Smith

        A real thing? I don’t know. Is your intelligence a real thing?

        • Raymond Rogers

          It’s a cultural thing; similar to knowing how to use a knife and fork. Different cultures would use the results differently (say the ability to do good calligraphy in old China) and reach different valuations. Basically the human mind is a many dimensional _thing_ they are trying to project down to a single number. Incidentally Poincare (the last universal mathematician) scored very poorly on the original versions of IQ tests :):)

    • Hard–Truth

      The study in the 1930’s (by Louis Terman) continued for several decades, and demonstrated that IQ is important across a range of areas (including intellectual, social, and health success).
      The first test that measured mental ability was developed in the early 20th century. Too late for Napoleon.

      • arekexcelsior

        And numerous other studies since then have found that it’s an incredibly poor predictor.

        • Hard–Truth

          “Other studies.” ??? Which ones? Ones made up in the imaginations of libtards? I cited a real study. Have you got any? Intelligence, IS in fact, a good predictor. Prove me wrong if you can.

  • TMS71

    The effects of relational frame theory training notwithstanding our common sense tells us that some people are just innately smarter than others just as some people are innately physically stronger than others. It’s a good thing that intelligence seems amenable to some of our efforts to improve it but this does not really mean that it is not a stable lifelong trait. The author has a point that it is the job of educators to find better ways to teach but those better ways will not level the playing field. They will benefit the smart as much as the less smart. So we should implement them but we should not expect them to erase the performance gap between the innately more intelligent and the innately less intelligent. These differences are most likely the result of many genes that create a more powerful information processing brain in some than in others just as genes create more powerful muscles in some than in others. I believe that the author has made an unwarranted jump from the fact that some interventions seem to improve IQ to the conclusion that innate intelligence is not a major explanatory factor in school and life achievement.

    • facefault

      Common sense also tells us that the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. That’s why we supplement common sense with, you know, evidence.

      Also, why would we expect substantial genetic differences in intelligence? There’s no empirical evidence for significant differences – except for the still-unconfirmed KL gene finding, no gene that affects IQ makes even a full point of difference.

      And there’s no theoretical reason to expect differences – genes that affect intelligence should be fixed in the population, since intelligence has been comparably valuable in every environment humans have occupied. (In muscle strength there’s a tradeoff between slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle, so there’s a tradeoff between strength and endurance depending on environment; but there’s no evidence for such a tradeoff in brains).

      • TMS71

        There are many genes that affect intelligence. They don’t work in a linear fashion where they add a discrete number of IQ points. They affect neural development and account for differences in neural function. They can have synergistic effects. All that needs to be true is that people differ in the number of these favorable gene variants. That would be a genetic basis for difference in intelligence. There needn’t be genes with large effects.
        I said that common sense tells us that some people are innately more intelligent than others. You don’t think that some people are innately more intelligent than others?

        • facefault

          All that you’re saying is plausible, but lacks evidence. This includes the idea that some people are innately more intelligent.

        • ericlipps

          Actually, there are two separate issues here: genetic differences among individuals, which are reasonably well documented, and genetic differences between groups, especially racial groups, which are controversial not merely for the obvious political reasons but because it is impossible to adequately control for environmental factors in studying tis issue. Don’t argue this with me; take it up with the researchers who’ve actually evaluated the studies done in this area.

          Some people, of course, desperately want to believe that certain groups are just plain inferior (üntermenschen, you know) and therefore deserve to be at the bottom of the heap forever.

          • Hard–Truth

            If you would drop your political agenda, and rely on empiricism, you would recognize the existence of differences in intelligence of various races.
            But then, you desperately want to believe (in spite of the evidence) that all racial groups are equivalent.

      • Hard–Truth

        Unfortunately, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Hard–Truth

      You are exactly right.

  • http://democraticprogress.net/ JohnB

    The test is completely bogus. The simple fact that they have to keep readjusting should be a glaring red flag for starters. It is like you were trying to see how fast a car could run a quarter mile but kept changing the definition of what a mile is.

    • Hard–Truth

      You have no understanding of intelligence testing. Better if you do not comment.

      • http://democraticprogress.net/ JohnB

        No YOU no idea what YOU are talking about troll. These IQ tests are by no means systematic in measuring intelligence. For starters there is no scientific consensus on how to consistently accurately measure intelligence. There are precise ways to measure temp or speed for example, but there is no consensus that says if you know how to recite pi to 6 digits you have an IQ of 120. It’s all completely arbitrary and just a matter of an educated guess. The simple fact that there are numerous different tests proves this point. If it was really clear cut they would all ask the same questions.

        • Hard–Truth

          You are an idiot, and also ignorant about the issues relating to intelligence testing. Everything you said is false, but you are probably too stupid to understand it. I could refute your entire comment, but I am fed up with trying to educate libtards. You would prefer to believe your own faux facts, than to accept reality. Enjoy living in your imaginary world.
          P.S. – Unless you have had the courses in Tests and Measurements, Statistics, Psychometrics, Multivariate Analysis, etc. (both college and graduate school), that I have had, you should be a little more modest in your claims about what you know (or what I don’t know).

  • eetom

    There is a great difference between intelligence and the ability to score in IQ test. With more education a person can do more with his intelligence and has a higher IQ score, but that does not mean that he is more intelligent.
    That America can extract more oil from its wells does not mean that America has more oil underground. When a driver learns better driving technique does not necessarily mean that he has a better car.
    How confused can some “scholars” be?

    • artfuldgr

      correct…
      the author confuses capacity with contents..
      a person who has a very high iq, but little learning, has a lot of capacity, and not muc content.
      a person who has an average IQ, but a lot of learning, has filled their capacity….

      the size of the glass does not change (much), but most of us dont fill the glass anyway

      • Hard–Truth

        You have a very poor understanding of the subject. Best if you avoid making comments.

    • Hard–Truth

      You seem to be very, very confused.

  • michael scott

    I never knew that some people actually believe that a person’s intelligence is set for life and cannot be changed. I’ve always known and believed that anyone (who doesn’t have some serious mental deficiency preventing them from being able to do so) can increases their intelligence by learning more knowledge, and then learning how to use that knowledge wisely by using it and not just letting what they’ve learned sit dormant because of their lack of using it. That’s pretty stupid in my opinion that many intelligent people actually choose to believe that a so-called IQ test dictates that you can never become more intelligent and increase your IQ level; especially when many are constantly changing the rules of IQ tests in order to justify this false belief. That reminds me of how many choose to ignore true scientific studies that prove that the so-called theories of evolution, the big bang, and the steady state, are false teachings. I pray that those who believe that no one can increase their intelligence level (IQ) will realize that that’s totally wrong. It’s only logical that as one learns more and uses what they learn that their IQ increases; how else does one explain people becoming very wise by the time they’re old or very old.

    • Hard–Truth

      Old people who are wise, were wise when they were young. Plenty of old stupid/foolish people out there.
      Intelligence and knowledge are two different things. Possible to have a large amount of knowledge, and not be very bright. Important component of intelligence is thinking/reasoning ability.
      Knowledge is not useless, just not everything.

  • dnamatters

    The article implies that an individual’s IQ score can vary widely during his or her lifetime. The only direction of change actually observed, however, is downward. The author ignores the substantial research that shows that while intensive educational interventions can raise childhood IQ test scores by several points, these gains are completely or almost completely lost by adulthood. Study after study has found that while such shared environmental factors can have a big impact on childhood IQ, they have little or no impact on adult IQ, which no one seriously claims can vary widely, except in the case of brain damage. The author offers an explanation for this regression to the group mean: black children who are raised by more intelligent white parents will, they claim, see their IQs eventually fall because of the less intelligent black peers with whom they associate in adolescence and adulthood. This supposedly “anti-racist” position, though, is not as convincing or straightforward (remember Occam’s Razor) as the alternative position: that adult IQ is much more heavily influenced by genetics than by education. In other words, by adulthood people generally manage to develop the maximum cognitive potential of which their brains are capable — but no more. Black children blessed with high-IQ white adoptive parents eventually regress to their own group’s mean IQ score of 85 by adulthood. This in spite of their higher than expected early childhood IQ score. To believe that this regression is due to the effect of adolescent peers would go against everything we know about the importance of early childhood to adult outcomes. We would have to believe that adolescence is a more important formative period than early childhood in one’s cognitive development.

    • Hard–Truth

      Everything you said is exactly correct. And explains why the billions (?) of dollars spent on Head Start have been nothing but a waste. Biology is destiny.

  • ericlipps

    Only an idiot would say that “everybody is the same.” That would mean, for example, that you and I are equally intelligent.
    And here we go again: apparently if you can’t have Cyril Burt as an unchallengeable authority to buttress your claims of racial differences in IQ, you’ll take the Beeb. I’m surprised you’re not invoking the curse of Ham as well.
    You’re still wrong, by the way: even if it’s true that “at least” half of the difference between individuals in IQ is due to genes (which isn’t true just because the BBC supposedly agrees that it is), it doesn’t follow that the same is true for groups. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it happens to be true. Comparisons among individuals within a group, or in a mixed group, don’t necessarily reflect actual differences among groups.

    • Hard–Truth

      Forget about Burt entirely. No one other than you is citing Burt. There is an abundance of other evidence to falsify your specious claims.
      Perhaps you are not too bright. Either that, or you are just dishonest.
      If you want to know about actual differences among groups (which are real), read The Bell Curve.

  • Bibibibibib Blubb

    Must be why the richest country in the world is Qatar with 78(apparently mentally retarded) average IQ. Also a very low crime rate with very diverse population mostly from South Asia… run by conservative Muslims.

    • Hard–Truth

      Why is Qatar rich?
      Oil was discovered in Qatar in 1940, in Dukhan Field. The discovery transformed the state’s economy.
      Qatar is a high income economy backed by the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.
      Average IQ of 78 (not retarded) not an issue with natural resources providing wealth.
      Africa is getting better? How is Zimbabwe doing? Without whites to run the country, it has turned into a cesspit. Most of the negroes living there wish it would have remained white ruled, so they wouldn’t be starving to death.

      • Bibibibibib Blubb

        Actually Africa is doing much better now than before, just check HDI rankings. Zimbabwe’s GDP also has risen very rapidly since 2008, its back up to 1980s level already. Its so simple just type in HDI trends Africa or the country and GDP in Google. The vast Majority of African countries are doing much better now.

  • DICK_PENIS

    I LIKE PIZZA

  • DoktorThomas

    I think the experimenters are more confused than the test takers, who probably have higher IQ’s.
    Most scientific research, as current constructed, only identifies correlations in the premise. Strong correlations, e.g., because all cancer patients drink water, water must be linked to causing cancer, rarely deliver the meat; they only get people (probably with high IQ’s) to think about the premise, the process and the results. FYI: In the 1960’s researchers did prove the suggested correlation.
    As for IQ leakage, I can give you only anecdotal evidence: the individuals in law school were all very bright (probably high IQ’s); however, when they got to the office after graduation, they park their brains outside the door. This may prove graduating from law school and getting employment afterward lowers one’s IQ (and/or their commonsense).
    If looking to separate the smart from the less smart, IQ testing maybe a solution. But a person like my High School nemesis who had a photographic memory may or may not have had a higher IQ and would certainly skew the curve. But smart he was.
    If problem solving is calculated into IQ then age definitely increases IQ, until dementia levels the playing field …. ©2015

  • Nicolas Moeri

    Moreover, we know today that neurogenesis exists, even at adult age. How can a changing brain provide always the same IQ measure?

    • Hard–Truth

      Neurogenesis, yes. But the number of new neurons is not enough to make a real difference.

  • Hard–Truth

    IQ score may not be “fixed,” but it is highly stable over a person’s lifetime (for most people).

  • Hard–Truth

    ….. it didn’t even account for the biological parents IQ?

    You must be delusional. Biological parents IQ, along with every other permutation, were accounted for.

    ……. the ONE small minesota adoption study

    Still delusional. It is a large scale, longitudinal study.
    (Researchers at the University of Minnesota, led by Thomas Bouchard, launched the landmark study in 1979, and continued for the next 20 years, concluding in 1999.)

    Epigenetics (in the way it operates) is highly complicated, but has not been shown to have a significant effect on the intelligence level of groups.

  • Hard–Truth

    Correct on all points.

  • ericlipps

    I’ve been “hiding” right here, sir. And you don’t prove your point by resorting to insults.
    You don’t prove your point by citing the BBC, either, since you plainly don’t understand the difference between variation among individuals and differences between groups.

    • arekexcelsior

      Kees et al. found that g was literally not parsimonious. The circularity of these people is just amazing. Their theory proves their conclusion, and their data proves their theory!

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