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Culture War Roundup for the week of October 24, 2022

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Kathleen Booth, early British computer scientist, died one month ago on Sept 29 at the age of 100. The Register published an obituary for her titled "RIP: Kathleen Booth, the inventor of assembly language."

One month later, yesterday, a link to the obituary was the top (I think) post 1, 2 on both Hacker News and Reddit's programming subreddit

Many of the commenters lamented that they had never heard of this highly influential person, and other commenters suggested that the reason most people hadn't heard of her is because she was a woman.

Ironically, I would contend, the only reason we are hearing about her is because she was a woman.

Calling her the inventor of assembly language may be a stretch. One HN comment points out that the IEEE has already given a computer pioneer award to David Wheeler for inventing the first assembly language in 1949.

You can read her 1947 paper and decide if the table at the end counts as the first assembly language. It is a numbered list of 25 operations, a symbolic description of their action, and in a few cases an English description of their operation. It is, at least superficially, similar to the list of 30 operations Wheeler created for the EDSAC.

Ran out of time to delve into:

  • Grace Hopper falsely being credited for inventing COBOL

  • If Ada Lovelace invented programming, and if she did but no one knew about it and it didn't influence anyone else, should we credit her?

  • Booth's credit being recently discovered/promoted in 2018 Hackaday article

  • Margaret Hamilton being the only programmer popularly known for Apollo work, despite leading a small team of 3 people.

  • Hamilton and Booth both marrying their bosses.

  • All of these women being impressive in their own right, and exaggerating their contributions for Girl Power is a disservice to them.

Giving proper credit for genuine insight in science and tech is often completely broken. I wouldn't be surprised to see "secret issues" with nearly every name that is famous enough to be known to this forum.

For Ada to be the first programmer, Charles Babbage must have designed the first programmable computer without ever coming up with any test programs for it.

He decided what instructions you'd need, and that you'd need multiple ones, then never thought about combining 2 or more together to do anything, ever.

Then lucky for him, a programmer appears!

I think this is disingenuous. Babbage certainly created the first design for a programmable computer as we know it, and clearly would have given considerable thought to combining instructions together. But if Lovelace was the first person to actually spend a significant amount of time constructing lists of instructions to solve particular problems then I don't think it's unreasonable to describe her as the first programmer.

By way of (concrete) analogy: in the fourth year comp eng CPU Design course I took as an undergrad, we all created pipelined RISC CPU designs in VHDL, and used an emulator to test them. To that end I did input several sequences of instruction to ensure that the (emulated) hardware was operating as it should, with the ALU generating the correct results, the pipeline correctly handling various hazards, etc., and while these might technically be "programs" I was not "programming" in any meaningful way. Like Babbage (and thousands of students before me) I created a design for a CPU which will never physically exist. Unlike Babbage, my non-existent CPU would never attract even a single programmer.

You designed your cpu for a class, long after people had come up with the idea of a programmable computer, and determining what instructions are needed.

Every instruction that needs to be put in hardware adds complexity, so knowing that some operation can be achieved by another one is very valuable. Babbage's machine had memory, if statements and loops - quite an achievement to know these are needed to write algorithms without writing any.

Making a device programmable, rather than hardcoded is an amazing mental leap and also a massive jump in complexity. One that I believe you would only make if you had at least 2 programs you wanted to run

If Ada Lovelace invented programming, and if she did but no one knew about it and it didn't influence anyone else, should we credit her?

I'd also add that it's not the case that Lovelace was the first programmer.

https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/technology/visionaries/ada-lovelace-original-and-visionary-but-no-programmer/

"[T]oday it seems clear that it was Babbage, not Lovelace, who was the first programmer. The computer historian Doron Swade, a prominent world expert on the work of Babbage, settles the controversy with new data presented at the symposium now taking place at the University of Oxford to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Lovelace, and reveals a sneak preview to OpenMind: “I confirm that the manuscript evidence clearly shows that Babbage wrote ‘programs’ for his Analytical Engine in 1836-7 i.e. 6-7 years before the publication of Lovelace’s article in 1843. There are about 24 of such ‘programs’ and they have the identical features of the Lovelace’s famous ‘program’,” adds Swade. The historian says that the new tests are “unarguable” and that they “do not support, indeed they contradict the claim that Lovelace was the ‘first programmer’.”"

This is not to say that Lovelace wasn't impressive, but there's generally a tendency to vastly overinflate women's contributions to the field for political purposes and then to subsequently claim that they had their accomplishments stolen from them when plenty of these supposed under-recognised "accomplishments" are actually fictitious. In fact, one can claim that the accomplishment actually attributable to Babbage was "stolen" by Lovelace, and that the willingness to accept this was in large part a result of the fact that she was a woman.

Wow, thanks for sharing. I would love to see you post it on the Reddit adoration thread in /r/programming!

They're still probably closer to reality than "Did you know Hedy Lamarr invented Wifi and Bluetooth?", when in fact she (co)patented using clockwork from a player piano to frequency hop, a concept which had been "invented" (described in technical literature and patented) at least 2-3 decades prior, if not earlier.

(If you can even consider the idea of switching radio frequencies to avoid eavesdropping or interference an invention. It's rather like saying there was an "inventor" of changing your daily route to work if you're worried about being followed. It was probably "invented" the moment two people were using radio, got a bad connection on one frequency, and later arranged a coordinated switch to a different one.)

I think that's by far the most common example of this phenomenon.

Yeah, this one is so common and so annoying. As you note there are many patents predating Lamarr and Antheil's: for example by Purlington (in 1940 and 1935); by Broertjes in 1929; by Chaffee in 1922; by Blackwell, Martin, and Vernam in 1926, and even by Tesla in 1903. Jonathan Zenneck's text Wireless Telegraphy (which appeared in Germany in 1909) also contains a section on frequency hopping, and adds in a footnote that “This method was adapted by the Telefunken Co. at one time,” showing that the core principle was applied as early as the opening of the 20th century. Frequency hopping was most certainly not pioneered by Lamarr.

Additionally, she was at one point married to an Austrian munitions manufacturer whose work she had access to and interest in, and German engineers before World War II were aware of frequency hopping - it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the idea could've been derived from her former husband's colleagues.

Edit: added more

And she never actually managed to build the thing iirc.

Booth's list is not an assembly language. It is a suggested list of operations for a machine that has not been built. An assembly language is a machine readable mnemonic representation of low level instructions. Wheeler's assembly language could be punched onto tape, which the machine would read and then translate to the proper bit patterns. Wheeler's 1950 Programme Organization and Initial Orders for the EDSAC contains the assembler (in assembly language).

The hackaday article suggests the assembly language and assembler is found in an unavailable document called "Coding for A.R.C." However, this document is in fact available, and while it contains a table mapping "order numbers" (bit patterns) to more human-readable instructions, there remains no indication that this language is machine-readable.

The other issue with using those reports to support the claim of "a woman invented assembly language" is they were written by Andrew Booth and Kathleen Britten (later Kathleen Booth). I'm fairly sure Andrew wasn't a woman.

The hackaday and other articles refer to "autocode", which doesn't appear in either those papers or the later "Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation".

Autocode is mentioned here. It appeared much later (in the mid-1960s) and was a high-level language, not an assembly language at all.

The etiology of the gender achievement gap has been debated considerably. Boys and girls test roughly the same in terms of IQ, and in elementary school and even up through college, females tend to outperform males. Yet something changes after college. Obviously, parental obligations. But I wonder if it can be explained by other factors, such as personality. Some have posited that men are more interested in 'things' whereas women are more interested in people. Maybe men are better at entering flow states and concentrating, which is necessary for success at competitive, cognitively demanding activities , whereas women get distracted too easily.

Yes, that men and women have different personalities and interests is one of the largest and most replicated results in psychology. I realize this is somewhat discouraged knowledge, but it's not too hard to find, e.g.:

Men and things, women and people: a meta-analysis of sex differences in interests

Why can't a man be more like a woman? Sex differences in Big Five personality traits across 55 cultures.

The Distance Between Mars and Venus: Measuring Global Sex Differences in Personality

Note that the differences tend to be actually larger than many of these suggest at first glance, as there tend to multiple, at-least-partially-independent, so if you take multiple traits at once, the means move further apart.

Scott also has a great discussion on it in Contra Grant on Exaggerated Differences

I also think the 'greater variability hypothesis', namely that men tend to have greater variability in most traits, is both true, and explains a lot of the differences we see (more homeless men, more Nobel prize winners), because it means many more men at the extremes.

If you look at top scores in the math SATs, for example (over 750?) you see many more men than women. Sorry, I don't have a source easily on hand for this one, but I've verified it a few times, and welcome you to do so. (Women tend to outscore on the verbal, and their scores tend to be more correlated, which has implications for chosen careers.)

IQ tests are gender-normed. They're the same for boys and girls because they're forced that way.

Is Greater Male Variability a property of the real world, independent of the IQ norming process? I would be astounded how our genetics or socialization techniques somehow cause GMV.

Really? It makes sense, so to speak, from an evolutionary standpoint, in that one male can impregnate many females, so a species can afford to produce a bunch of 'waste' men, as long as some turn out well. It's like VC investing in companies. Women, on the other hand, cannot be easily replaced -- if a tribe loses half its women, it loses half its next generation, more or less. If it loses half its men, it has labour and fighting problems, but no problems producing enough children.

There's also the detail that women have two XX chromosomes, but men have an X & Y. That's why many diseases hit men more frequently (e.g. color blindness), because they only need one defective X chromosome for it to hit. Similarly, if they get a helpful mutation, it isn't drowned out by the partner gene.

And for what it's worth, apparently you do see more male variance in the world, although I think in the mental domains it's not as clear-cut.

Wait, please explain. How are things gender normed? How are the scores manipulated?

The people who designed the original IQ tests included a balance of (I forget the specifics, take these as possible examples) spatial-reasoning tasks which men are better at, and conditional hypothetical verbal problems which women are better at. The number of each kind of question is calibrated such that men and women will both get an average score of 100. But it's a kludge; IQ tests could be more sensibly understood as "intelligence test to grade women against other women" and "intelligence test to grade men against other men" smushed into the same paper.

They did this because they couldn't be bothered to do two separate normalisation operations, but their laziness has had the tragic knock-on effect of giving entire generations the chronic misconception that women are as smart as men.

From what you've said it sounds like IQ is a grab-bag of different things. What does "women are as smart as men" mean? Are you saying:

  1. men & women have "different" intelligences (your post is phrased far more controversially) or;

  2. do IQ tests weight verbal questions more than spatial ones? (are there any other interpretations than the one I'm thinking of??)

I mention question weights because this guy sounds knowledgeable.

Might this be testable?

IQ is valuable as it tracks actual intelligence fairly closely; if you are good at IQ-test-style puzzles you're very likely actually intelligent. This will be detectable in other things like complex creative tasks, and even practical areas like average income, crime rate, and so on. If the test was biased towards one gender by adding questions that the gender did better at, but weren't as strongly correlated with actual intelligence, you'd expect their IQ scores to be less correlated with the downstream effects of intelligence itself than it is for the other gender.

(Theoretical example: If men were a lot dumber than women in general, one could add "ability to lift weights" or the like to the IQ tests until both genders had the same average score. This would however result in IQ no longer being able to predict the ability of men to e.g. lead a company, like it still would for women.)

I don't follow, why give preference spatial-reasoning tasks when defining who is smarter? Why not the one at which women are better?

I don't follow, who exactly is preferencing [whichever one men were better at] tasks? The IQ test designers didn't preference them, they finely balanced them against the [whichever one women were better at] tasks.

I'd be fascinated to know how men-smart (spatial) the average woman is, and how women-smart (verbal) the average man is.

Also to what degree each correlates to the positive traits IQ is usually held to be associated with (health, income, etc.)

My understanding is that on IQ tests and proxies for it, men and women score about the same (men maybe a bit lower on average), but the standard deviation is higher. At the tails, the representation due to greater variance dominates. (Can someone well-versed in IQ comment on this?)

Your understanding of Margaret Hamilton’s role in Apollo program is still closer to what activists want you to believe instead of actual truth.

She was a lead of a team that wrote the Apollo lander program, this much is true. What is less commonly known is that she joined that team as the most junior member, and only became a lead after the code had already been written, and the actual leads (whose names, ironically, basically nobody knows today) have moved on to more important projects.

It is so tiring. And then combined with people saying things like "women dominated early programming and computer science". Agh. I'm sure there were a number of important and talented women in computer science. I'm also pretty sure, from what I know of history, interests by sex, and the breakdown by sex over the 30 years I've been in the field, that it's pretty likely there were more men than women. (Yes, I know much of the original 'programming' work, which was like connecting cables in a telephone switchboard was mainly done by women, as were many of the clerical calculations. That's something different).

The Lovelace one is particularly annoying, since it appears both Babbage and someone else had made algorithms (a word from Arabic from waaay back) before her. But sure, all of the credit is hers, and men have just been stealing the idea from her.

Grace Hopper seems to have been pretty kick-ass. Ada Lovelace too. We don't need to make up shit so that they are even more kick-ass. It's deceptive and sad.

Grace Hopper seems to have been pretty kick-ass.

Still, though, (I'm terribly sorry) whenever I hear her name, I can't help but think something like "secret identity of superheroine The Locust."

'Lovelace invented algorithms' is obviously incorrect, but she did appear to have insight into the applications of the analytical engine that it's designer didn't. I think it's fair to characterize her as the first person to look at the capabilities of a general purpose computer and realize the limitless possibilities.

In meme form:

Babbage:

(slaps roof of difference engine) you can generate so many log tables with this bad boy

Lovelace:

Where we're going, we won't need tables to compute

Grace Hopper seems to have been pretty kick-ass.

I especially love the common picture of her you see, where she's standing in front of the American flag looking like she's going to beat you up.

Military women are tough, I've known some. We don't need to try and enhance their achievements with half-truths, they're badass on their own.

'Hopper Invented Cobol' is a smear; Cobol is perhaps the most hated programming language and she didn't invent it, but Sammit et al who did invent Cobol heavily reference Hopper's work.

similar to the list of 30 operations Wheeler created for the EDSAC.

link does not work

Same recurring pattern of people who are held up as geniuses and then their contributions are manifestly mediocre, whereas people today who are objectively more talented get no recognition, due to more competition. Like everything in life, being early only helps.

The eternal meme of "someone in 1700 describes something completely obvious about the human condition/the natural world, remembered forever as genius" strikes again. Did not one of Scott's best ever pieces cover this? That said, as I think he noted, it's very easy to say from our position.

There does seem to be truth to the meme though. If we use paper length as a proxy for difficulty, papers have gotten considerably harder https://jeffbloem.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/screen-shot-2018-07-26-at-10-45-41-am.png I have observed this myself. Math and econ papers published in the 50s and 60s are way shorter and also seem conceptually easier compared to today, in which econ papers have multiple authors and tons of dense stats and complicated stats methods. At the same time, acceptance rates for top journals has also fallen in half since 1980. https://cepr.org/voxeu/columns/nine-facts-about-top-journals-economics It seems like a problem of drawing water from a stone.

Math and econ papers published in the 50s and 60s are way shorter and also seem conceptually easier compared to today, in which econ papers have multiple authors and tons of dense stats and complicated stats methods.

When I was reading Adam Smith I kept thinking, "dude, stop writing like that, this is not a special ed book".

that is an uncharitable interpretation. Adam's smith's writings are much easier to follow than more recent stuff.

If we use paper length as a proxy for difficulty, papers have gotten considerably harder

As someone who has to write scientific papers for a living, I assure you it's all padding to bore / shame the journal editors into accepting it.

O, for the halcyon days when you could just send a bottle of gin along with your monograph and thereby be assured of publication in the August Annals of the Royal Society of Natural Philosophy.

Most non-economists can easily read, understand, and apply the Nature of the Firm and the Problem of Social Costs to their own economic activities. I don't think most economists are as likely to do the same with the latest econometric monstrosity.

It’s so odd, given that within the lifetimes of so many people alive today it’s quite possible that all human achievement will be eclipsed by AI, in the sense that no one person will again be able to do very much (or anything) for mankind.

I just created an account on The Motte to PM someone a question, and afterwards I started browsing through some links and found this post in the vault: Belief Against an Intelligence Gap / Why the Woke Won't Argue: A look at Turkheimer and HBD research.

Now, a year ago or so, I would probably have strongly agreed with this post. But recently, I've come to a totally different conclusion: HBDers tend to totally refuse to engage with basic principles of the debate. I say that as an HBDer who has started interacting with other HBDers, and correcting when they make mistakes. Two core examples I have in mind:

  1. Heritability simply does not mean what a lot of HBDers want it to mean - because of the phenotypic null hypothesis. You often see HBDers declare success when yet another twin study shows that yet another variable is highly heritable, or that there is a genetic correlation between two variables which are usually suggested to be causally linked to each other. In the latter case, I often see HBDers act as if the genetic correlation proves that there is genetic confounding between the two variables, which is a ridiculous suggestion if you think through the actual math. It's perfectly reasonable to say that the debate struggles with progressing because anti-HBDers aren't properly engaging with HBDers, but it would be a lie to also pretend that HBDers aren't also guilty of lack of thought and engagement.

  2. HBDers often signal-boost nonserious or dishonest studies. My go-to example of this is this study on effort and IQ, which claimed to find that effort does not matter for IQ scores. This obviously massively contradicts common sense, and indeed when I took a quick look at the study, its data actually totally supported the notion that effort matters for IQ, and it's merely that the researcher (who is a well-respected leading IQ researcher!) analyzed it wrong (see my analysis in the thread, or perform the analysis for yourself). The researcher still has not changed his mind on the flaws of it, and I regularly see the study pop up on my timeline. If HBDers are going to boost these kinds of studies and ignore critique of them, then why should anyone listen to HBDers?

So, what view would I suggest? A far more symmetric view: Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality. Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality. There's some honest people on either side who have been swept up in the drama, but in terms of the direction of the energy which drives the whole debate, this is what lies underneath it.

"phenotypic null hypothesis", according to Google Ngram, does not appear before 2002 and it's usage going after 2010. It's a neologism.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=phenotypic+null+hypothesis&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cphenotypic%20null%20hypothesis%3B%2Cc0#t1%3B%2Cphenotypic%20null%20hypothesis%3B%2Cc0

And disingenious one. For testing medications, null hypothesis "it doesn't work" is useful because we have voluminous history of ineffective medications. We don't have prior history of controlled experiments on population IQ differences. It's like theists requiring atheists to prove.

Jack and Jane both collected some stones on beach. Compute average size of stone each of them collected. Must they be same, exactly to 10-digit after comma, unless proved otherwise?

Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes

As been said, it is looking at rightists under leftists theory of universe. What about "rightists don't want certain kind of government-mandated redistribution which give a net harm to society" or "rightists don't want their bikes stolen"?

Now I am going to violate rules and say that intelligence is clearly biological. It's not controversial to say that fish are smarter than jellyfish, and crocodiles are smarter than fish, and rats are smarter than crocodiles. It's only when feelings are hurt it requires some "phenotypic null hypothesis". Yes, intelligence has long causal chain, but so are many biological phenomena.

Your

I just created an account on The Motte to PM someone a question, and afterwards I started browsing through some links and found this post in the vault

This is related to why 'account nags' are so persistent - having an account really does lead to using the platform more! (it also hands over your email for marketing spam).

Most HBDers do misrepresent studies, and misunderstand a lot of the data they use, and make poor arguments with poor conclusions. AFAICT this is universal in academia though. That's not to say that it's fine when HBDers do it, or minimize it at all - it is incredibly awful, disgusting, etc when anyone does it, and it's pathetic how universal it is. But it's not like "both sides really want a position to be true, so they push their side" is the only reason the "science" is shit. Priming wasn't better, much of psychology is still not better. Many HBDers really did think equality was true before they looked at the data or society, and both sides genuinely do believe their side to be true and have all sorts of justifications for it.

If we look at individuals instead of races, there's a reason scott alexander's father was a smart doctor, his brother was a gifted pianist who "... was now by far the best student in my Introductory Piano Class, even though he had just started and was two or three years younger than anyone else there ... a little while later, Yamaha USA flew him to Japan to show him off before the Yamaha corporate honchos there ... one thing led to another, and my brother won several international piano competitions, got a professorship in music at age 25, and now routinely gets news articles written about him calling him “among the top musicians of his generation".

One of the funnier parts of HBD is ... if we should act on heritable intellectual differences between races in any way, we should probably do so for heritable intellectual differences between individuals too. And the latter clearly exist, and are critical drivers of all existing talent. IQ-selective immigration when? Well, that's not flying with the voters. An extra hundred million 100iq people isn't quite as useful as an extra 100k 140iq people.

Also, there's a reason yud and scott are jewish. How does that happen if race isn't related to heritable intelligence? 30% of nobel prize winners in math and hard sciences, etc

So "HBD" in that sense is still accurate? A liar may still tell truths, dirt may cover otherwise-pristine marble, etc.

So, what view would I suggest? A far more symmetric view: Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality.

Sort of. What you call "left" wants equality of outcome it that sense they want the world as it is, only with all races equally represented in the position of power and wealth. What is wrong with billionaires is that there is not enough BIPOC billionaires.

See the great popularity of fiction set in alternate history where racism never existed, where British Empire was always racially mixed and racially tolerant, where people of all colors were equally represented among aristocracy and it was awesome.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgerton

Looking forward to remake of Gone With the Wind, where Scarlett is black and slaves on her plantation, both black and white, are living in perfect harmony without any racism. It will be record shattering blockbuster, leaving Avatar and all capeshit products in the dust.

Nevertheless, such attitude would not be recoginzed as "leftist" by anyone in history before last decade or two.

Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality.

"HBDIQ" fans did not came from ranks of Neo-Nazis, skinheads and white prison gangs - these people are absolutely certain about their racial superiority and do not need any bell curves, IQ tables and similar nerd shit.

HBDIQ came from rationalist, atheist, science loving nerds, who did their research.

"Race science? 19th century white "scientists" measured skulls with tape and always fould that white skulls are superior? Haha! This sounds as stupid as astrology, creationism, psi powers, ufology and feng shui. I debunked all this crap, going to research this shit too. When I finish, I will put it on Rational Wiki. For science!"

...

...

...

WTF !

WTF !!!

WTF @#$%%%% !!!!!!!

To people arriving late to this discussion, a couple of things might be helpful to know:

  1. When tailcalled is saying "heritability doesn't mean what a lot of HBDers want it to mean", his actual argument isn't presented in his post. You'd need to go track it down through the link he posted of his substack. It basically boils down to a longwinded form of "correlation doesn't necessary imply causation", i.e. if parents and children show significant correlation on a certain measure, that doesn't guarantee it has a genetic outcome. A good example someone posted downthread would be "knowledege of the French language", which is highly correlated between parents and their children, but which obviously isn't genetic.

  2. When tailcalled says "HBDers often signal-boost nonserious or dishonest studies", he's mainly referring to people doing this repeatedly on his Twitter posts". He's not really calling out anyone here, and importantly he's not necessarily saying this is an asymmetric problem with HBDers, just that some HBDers do it, which... well of course they do. There are knuckleheads on both sides.

So in the end, I think tailcalled is making points that are agreeable almost to the point of being anodyne, but he wrote them poorly enough that some people (including me, at least initially) are getting confused. On #1, we really shouldn't be forced to track down the basic gist of an argument on another website before the author starts claiming it's a big reason why the HBD-vs-Environment debate isn't advancing. On #2, I think a lot of people got the sense that tailcalled was an anti-HBD'er, but the opposite seems to be true actually. He seems to mostly just be patrolling the pro-HBD side for bad arguments as a way to advance discussion, not necessarily to dunk on the HBD side as entirely meritless.

It basically boils down to a longwinded form of "correlation doesn't necessary imply causation", i.e. if parents and children show significant correlation on a certain measure, that doesn't guarantee it has a genetic outcome. A good example someone posted downthread would be "knowledege of the French language", which is highly correlated between parents and their children, but which obviously isn't genetic.

Thanks for this, I think it's a good intuitive summary. As @tailcalled says below, it's not a perfect metaphor; we're strictly looking for traits which are actually heritable, rather than just shared between parents and children.

So e.g. if you were adopted by French parents at a young age, you'd speak French, even though you don't share their genes. Heritability studies are looking for traits you'd share with your biological parents, not your adoptive ones.

I'd maybe shorten it to "correlation doesn't imply direct causation". As an example, accusations of racism are heritable, because it's something more often said about white people, and skin color is genetic; this does not, by itself, prove white people are racist.

Perhaps a better way of phrasing the phenotypic null hypothesis would be "correlation does not imply confounding" together with "causation does not imply unmediated or unmoderated causation". "Correlation does not imply causation" is certainly not it.

It basically boils down to a longwinded form of "correlation doesn't necessary imply causation", i.e. if parents and children show significant correlation on a certain measure, that doesn't guarantee it has a genetic outcome. A good example someone posted downthread would be "knowledege of the French language", which is highly correlated between parents and their children, but which obviously isn't genetic.

I disagree with this presentation of my views. I am admitting that genetics is causally upstream of the heritable variables; the issue is that not every causal link in the chain from genes to the variable are meaningfully biological. I don't think the French example is an example of what I am talking about at all.

He's not really calling out anyone here, and importantly he's not necessarily saying this is an asymmetric problem with HBDers, just that some HBDers do it, which... well of course they do. There are knuckleheads on both sides.

Yes. The thing that triggered it was going through the vault and seeing that a post going "haha, HBDers are so much better than antis" had been declared a "best of".

He seems to mostly just be patrolling the pro-HBD side for bad arguments as a way to advance discussion, not necessarily to dunk on the HBD side as entirely meritless.

Yes, there's a severe need for patrolling for bad arguments IMO. Both sides seem to have turned into echo chambers.

Hi again. You may not know it, but the author of the text in the vault, JB, is a bit of a meme here, an avatar of pig-headed intransigence and hubris, which lends credence to your words. Nevertheless, I can't see how your arguments justify disagreeing with him on this issue and indeed coming to a «totally different conclusion».

If HBDers are going to boost these kinds of studies and ignore critique of them, then why should anyone listen to HBDers?

To begin with: because for most would-be listeners, supporting the opposite camp equals approval of one's family and one's people getting discriminated against (the nigh-inevitable alternative to HBD being acceptance of unredeemed racial guilt). Some are turned off by this; others are quite happy.

And because whatever the faults of HBDers, the other side remains epistemologically worse. Turkheimer may have some legitimate scientific argument against between-group genetic diffs on g; his bottom line was still arrived at through moralizing. «We can recognize a contention that Chinese people are genetically predisposed to be better table tennis players than Africans as silly, and the contention that they are smarter than Africans as ugly, because it is a matter of ethical principle that individual and cultural accomplishment is not tied to the genes in the same way as the appearance of our hair

HBD/Blank Slate is a political question more than it's a scientific one, a question of whether a civic religion founded on this stated promise of equal innate potential (or at least absence of substantial between-group differences) is needed for the prosperity of a polity and reduction in individual suffering; it's a question of oughts. Turkheimer et al. wear their oughts on their sleeves, adversarially, so it's a bit of a double standard to dunk on HBDers for failing or refusing to understand a peripheral aspect of «is».

Now to be clear, the faults of HBDers are not big. I have read a decent amount of your writing on the topic today, debate and adjacent content; the more I was reading, the stronger was the feeling that this'll be a fruitless debate. Your writing over the last year displays a trend towards isolated demands for rigor against HBD outlook (for unknown reasons that I assume, for now, are self-preservation and career strategy, a la Abdel The Backstabber, but might be just autistic perfectionism and purity spiraling; take your pick at which is less charitable). Your two examples aren't damning.

Your thread on effort and application of instrumental variables seems to sidestep the problem of scores influencing perception of effort, and anyway it doesn't affect the debate in absence of good evidence for differences in incentives&effort (and, well, whatever happens with low-stakes online IQ testing, people try «as hard as they can» in contexts relevant for long-term life outcomes or even on serious IQ tests).

Your triumphant post on the environmental null hypothesis is… inconclusive, since it doesn't bother comparing models following from theories on their predictive merits (and also other twins and pedigree schemes). You can't just «call» ENH like you so often do on Twitter, and certainly can't just assume that nobody accounts for measurement error, that all causal effects will generate genetic correlations, and thus that the usual HBDer touting of gen correlations/gen confounding is invalid. Take any actually published model emphasizing environment (i.e. an X factor creating race differences – I mean, okay, the gay-bullying-mental illness stuff at least proposes a half-legible causal pathway), and subject it to scrutiny next to a genetics-first one – most likely, it'll fall apart first.

Like Bryan Pesta's career did: it took years of digging by concerned people, but this HBDer got caught on a technicality and made unemployable. He had tenure, too. As for the non-tenured faculty, we can have Turkheimer spell it out. Like Bird says, there is reason to be optimistic about the eventual result of such policies:

Over the last decade the Pioneer Fund appears to have emptied most of its accounts and is at a low level of activity, and the Ulster Institute is similarly operating on slim budgets (Saini, 2019). […] Instead of Nobel Laureates and respected tenure track faculty, the new generation of race scientists on the Pioneer Fund dole are untrained post-graduates.

So there's no money in it; databases are getting closed off too; getting published is near-impossible (note that all those would-be publications deal with weaknesses of HBD research program that you lament). The paradigm is shriveling up and dying (though Hyde would beg to differ). HBDers' incompetence is the intended outcome of censorship. In time, you'll have every self-respecting scientist firmly in the blank slate camp; forget structural equation modeling, unrepentant HBDers won't understand trivial correlation coefficients, and will be wholly undeserving of attention. Won't this make your argument so much stronger? And I think this means your argument is ultimately uninteresting, as far as science or policy are concerned.

So, what view would I suggest? A far more symmetric view: Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality. Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality.

You seem to use a coarse-grained notion of politics involved, in stark contrast to your (not necessarily correct but hard-to-critique*) analysis of the technical side. Most «HBDers» are the opposite: laymen beliefs both in the heritability of human behavioral traits and in between-group differences owing to genetics overwhelmingly come from raw life experience, not from data analysis and literature; approval of papers is driven by priors and the general vibe. Likewise comes the understanding of political implications; the sense of unfairness in this debate; and the will to signal-boost arguments-like-soldiers of your allies. This sounds low-IQ, and it is, but consilience can be pretty powerful, and HBD is anything if not consilient; so they're justified in not worrying a lot about minor nitpicks.

As for what happens on the other side – let's say that your model doesn't follow from your text and may conflict with the data. Emil sums it up nicely:

Leftists prefer studies where groups are equal, and if not, then where Africans do better. Moderates and conservatives both show a preference for equal-outcomes, and if not, then Europeans do better. As such, based on these results one might say that leftists show pro-African or anti-European preference, and moderates/conservatives show pro-European or anti-African preference. […] The leftist effect was very clear showing up 19 out of 20 times with effects against Europeans and against men. So pray you don't do any research that makes these groups look good and have leftist readers!

Call me a misanthrope, but it's a priori implausible for people en masse to have consistent abstract preferences such as «equality» and «inequality». Equality is an obvious compromise; beyond that, people just root for the team and want their side to be on top or at least not trampled upon. Bluntly, white «rightists» want to not be punished for the underperformance of Blacks, and thus prefer an HBD narrative that puts them solidly below some groups, above others, and absolves them of their purported sin of systemic racism. «Leftists» have other ideas, so they obstruct research into between-groups genetic differences and enforce the conclusion of racism being the leading causal explanation by fiat.

But this obstruction, when perpetrated by knowledgeable people such as Kaplan or Turkheimer or Rutherford, is telling enough, and cancels out all incompetence HBDers and even run-of-the-mill racists may show.

because it is a matter of ethical principle that individual and cultural accomplishment is not tied to the genes in the same way as the appearance of our hair

basically, this is just another way of saying that every human has preexisting, indivisible SOUL and SOUL is more important than bodies

To begin with: because for most would-be listeners, supporting the opposite camp equals approval of one's family and one's people getting discriminated against (the nigh-inevitable alternative to HBD being acceptance of unredeemed racial guilt). Some are turned off by this; others are quite happy.

I think the honest way of addressing this is "fuck your anti-white racism", not coming up with elaborate justifications that were never epistemically serious to begin with.

HBD/Blank Slate is a political question more than it's a scientific one, a question of whether a civic religion founded on this stated promise of equal innate potential (or at least absence of substantial between-group differences) is needed for the prosperity of a polity and reduction in individual suffering; it's a question of oughts. Turkheimer et al. wear their oughts on their sleeves, adversarially, so it's a bit of a double standard to dunk on HBDers for failing or refusing to understand a peripheral aspect of «is».

This sounds like a scientific metapolitical question as much as it sounds like a political one. See the end of this book review for more discussion.

I have read a decent amount of your writing on the topic today, debate and adjacent content; the more I was reading, the stronger was the feeling that this'll be a fruitless debate. Your writing over the last year displays a trend towards isolated demands for rigor against HBD outlook (for unknown reasons that I assume, for now, are self-preservation and career strategy, a la Abdel The Backstabber, but might be just autistic perfectionism and purity spiraling; take your pick at which is less charitable).

I don't think I have an isolated demand for rigor towards HBD. In other places than the linked ones I regularly challenge anti-HBD. The issue is that neither side wants to be rigorous aka both sides just want to make things up with studies that support their general vibe without checking whether those studies are actually of any evidentiary value.

Now to be clear, the faults of HBDers are not big. [...] Your two examples aren't damning.

Your thread on effort and application of instrumental variables seems to sidestep the problem of scores influencing perception of effort, and anyway it doesn't affect the debate in absence of good evidence for differences in incentives&effort

If scores influence perception of effort, then it would lead to a downwards bias in the estimated effect, not an upwards bias. Also it is not really mathematically plausible that the direction of causality is reversed because that would require an effect size of around 2, whereas unless there are shenanigans going on they should only go up to 1.

And yes I agree that it would be ridiculous to say that the racial differences in IQ are due to differences in effort. The effect of effort is fairly small, so you would need a humongous difference in effort to cause it. The problem is that HBDers do not separate this question from the question of whether effort affects IQ scores, and so they say stupid things like that effort doesn't matter for IQ in order to protect the notion of race differences, when really the obvious answer should be "yes, effort matters but it doesn't explain race differences".

(and, well, whatever happens with low-stakes online IQ testing, people try «as hard as they can» in contexts relevant for long-term life outcomes or even on serious IQ tests).

I don't believe that. I often didn't try as hard as I physically could on exams. For instance once I was done with exams I might leave earlier if allowed instead of checking over my answers for errors, where of course if I had checked over my answers I would inevitably have found some errors and thereby increased my scores. I also never really prepared for exams ahead of time.

Now to be clear, the faults of HBDers are not big. [...] Your two examples aren't damning.

Your triumphant post on the environmental null hypothesis is… inconclusive, since it doesn't bother comparing models following from theories on their predictive merits (and also other twins and pedigree schemes). You can't just «call» ENH like you so often do on Twitter, and certainly can't just assume that nobody accounts for measurement error, that all causal effects will generate genetic correlations, and thus that the usual HBDer touting of gen correlations/gen confounding is invalid.

First, it's phenotypic null hypothesis, not environmental null hypothesis, i.e. if someone is smarter due to having a bigger brain and this bigger brain makes them do better in exams and therefore get more education, then that would be weird to call "environmental"

Secondly, while I can't assume that nobody accounts for measurement error, I can assume that the overwhelming proportion of studies don't account for measurement error, because I've seen that they don't. For an example in the case of personality, see how this shows almost all twin studies on the heritability of personality to be wrong: https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/2017/02/getting-personality-right/

And I can totally assume that causal effects between individual difference variables generate genetic correlations between them (as long as they are heritable, but remember, everything is heritable). I gave you the theory and a simulation for why; if you disagree then show me a hypothetical counterexample where there is a causal effect but no induced genetic correlation. This is where I really consider it a big, damning fault, because this is really basic stuff.

A failure to understand the phenotypic null hypothesis is the same tier of error as an environmentalist who assumes that any difference in outcomes must prove that there is racial discrimination. No! Racial differences in abilities also predict racial differences in outcomes. Similarly, nonbiologically mediated/moderated causation predicts heritability and genetic correlations too, not as any sort of bias or measurement error or anything, but simply from the definition of what heritability is. If you don't accept this then you are not seriously engaging in the debate and no better than the environmentalists.

Now it's perfectly reasonable to raise questions about genetic confounding. It's just idiotic/dishonest/??? to say that genetic correlations prove genetic confounding.

Take any actually published model emphasizing environment (i.e. an X factor creating race differences – I mean, okay, the gay-bullying-mental illness stuff at least proposes a half-legible causal pathway), and subject it to scrutiny next to a genetics-first one – most likely, it'll fall apart first.

I am not bringing up the phenotypic null hypothesis as being a debunking of the HBD view on racial differences in intelligence. I agree that it doesn't debunk the HBD view on racial differences in intelligence.

I am bringing it up as a basic fact about heritability how heritability works that HBDers fail to understand/fail to engage with.

For those worried about HBD and optics or HBD being the majority, I have observed that HBD to some extent has fallen out of favor among the the right, even here. It's has sorta become the 'new atheism' but for 2021-2022 instead of 2011-2012 and for a much smaller audience. Something that was cool or trendy to believe, but has since fallen out of favor. Maybe it suffered from the same flaw of atheism, being that those who expounded it tended to be stereotyped as 'being on the spectrum', so to say, and thus were not good advocates for their cause. Maybe other reasons too...intellectual fads come and go for reasons that are hard to explicate.

Most «HBDers» are the opposite: laymen beliefs both in the heritability of human behavioral traits and in between-group differences owing to genetics overwhelmingly come from raw life experience, not from data analysis and literature; approval of papers is driven by priors and the general vibe.

pretty much, but I don't think it's laymen vs expert framing. I think it's that people accept HBD as broadly true yet make exceptions to it at the same time.

I remember 2 months ago making a post here, when this website first launched, arguing that kids who are slow in elementary school tend to be slow in adulthood too, which got -3 votes, but I am sure in 2017-2019 on the old site would have gotten at least +10; I know so because I made such posts in the past. People gave their anecdotal evidence of doing poorly in elementary school and then excelling in high school or college, and I argued that members of TheMotte, who tend to be high IQ based on numerous surveys by Scott and shared readership, are not at all representative of the 'general population'. HBD is about making population-wide inferences based on large quantities of data; individual exceptions do not disprove it.

But I have also seen the a third position, that being rejecting blank slate but still rejecting some aspects of HBD or that IQ is a signifier of human worth. There is also the the issue that being pro-HBD is possibly a stand-in for opposing the education system in America, which is based on the blank slate orthodoxy. The one-size-fits-all approach to America's education system education is wrong, but HBD is in part about trying to fit people to molds. I can see how these would conflict.

Who has HBD fallen out of favor for on the far right? They may be posting detailed IQ analyses less, but not because of any disbelief that blacks are lower iq or do more crime bc genes

Those called by far right usually don't like East Asian getting higher IQs, ditto Jews.

IIRC most are fine with east asian IQ and just deny jewish IQ, but they are still very interested in low black and asian IQ.

*my impression of the topic is still best described in this quote:

[…] Well, OK, I could believe that; visible traits consistent over entire populations like skin color might differ systematically because of sexual selection or something, but why not leave IQ following the exact same bell curve in each population? There was no specific thing here that made me start to wonder, more a gradual undermining (Gould’s work like The Mismeasure of Man being completely dishonest is one example - with enemies like that…) as I continued to read studies and wonder why Asian model minorities did so well, and a lack of really convincing counter-evidence like one would expect the last two decades to have produced - given the politics involved - if the idea were false. And one can always ask oneself: suppose that intelligence was meaningful, and did have a large genetic component, and the likely genetic ranking East Asians > Caucasian > Africans; in what way would the world, or the last millennium (eg the growth of the Asian tigers vs Africa, or the different experiences of discriminated-against minorities in the USA), look different than it does now?

It’s worth noting that the IQ wars are a rabbit hole you can easily dive down. The literature is vast, spans all sorts of groups, all sorts of designs, from test validities to sampling to statistical regression vs causal inference to forms of bias; every point is hotly debated, the ways in which studies can be validly critiqued are an education in how to read papers and look for how they are weak or make jumps or some of the data just looks wrong, and you’ll learn every technical requirement and premise and methodological limitation because the opponents of that particular result will be sure to bring them up if it’ll at all help their case.

In this respect, it’s a lot like the feuds in biblical criticism over issues like whether Jesus existed, or the long philosophical debate over the existence of God. […]

But having said that, and admiring things like Plantinga’s free will defense, and the subtle logical issues in formulating it and the lack of any really concrete evidence for or against Jesus’s existence, do I take the basic question of God seriously? No. The theists’ rearguard attempts and ever more ingenious explanations and indirect pathways of reasons and touted miracles fundamentally do not add up to an existing whole. The universe does not look anything like a omni-benevolent/powerful/scient god was involved, a great deal of determined effort has failed to provide any convincing proof, there not being a god is consistent with all the observed processes and animal kingdom and natural events and material world we see, and so on. The persistence of the debate reflects more what motivated cognition can accomplish and the weakness of existing epistemology and debate.[…]

I don’t know when the definitive paper will come out, if it’ll be this year, or by 2020, although I would be surprised if there was still nothing by 2030; but it will happen and it will happen relatively soon (for a debate going on for the past century or more). Genome sequencing is simply going to be too cheap for it to not happen.

Incidentally, this can no longer be found on the author's website.

The manner is recognizable enough, of course.

Phenotypic null hypothesis isn't an obscure methodological limitation, it is a fundamental property of concepts like "heritability" and "genetic correlation" which can easily be derived in simulation studies. If you don't understand how it works then you shouldn't use concepts like heritability and genetic correlation at all in the first place.

Phenotypic null hypothesis isn't an obscure methodological limitation, it is a fundamental property of concepts like "heritability" and "genetic correlation"

To be blunt: «Phenotypic null hypothesis [for the genetics of personality]» is a 2013 review paper by Eric Turkheimer, with 162 citations.

Turkheimer, like Lewontin before him with his «apportionment» and, more to the point, with his corn plants (cited by Ned Block here), is making a mountain out of a common-sensical molehill, in his case to bury the monster of HBD implications that have sprang forth (as he asserts, unreasonably) from his own First Law that he now seeks to reframe (as much is stated in the paper). Moreover, you both are sufficiently obscurantist and informal that it's hard to tell if you're gesturing at the same mountain:

The phenotypic null hypothesis integrates what we have learned from multivariate behavior genetics: Until demonstrated otherwise, complex heritable behavioral traits should be the result of psychological processes defined at a high level of analysis, rather than at the level of genes or neurons. Although such complex traits are never independent of genetic variation, they cannot be defined by genetic processes. Genes and behavior are a single entity, a single organism observed at two levels of analysis. Some traits are better understood using low-level concepts (genes, neurons, structures), whereas others require high-level constructs (organizations, algorithms, beliefs).

vs yours:

Put simply, the phenotypic null hypothesis is this: Heritability tells you that if you go up through the chain of causation, then you will often end up with genes. However, there may be many ways that variables can be connected to each other, and there’s no particular reason to expect that every step along the chain of causation from genes to outcomes is best thought of as biological.

Ok, and?

….The problem you talk about in your Substack post is real, although not nearly as damaging with regards to the sort of HBD beliefs most salient in the culture war and pro/anti-HBD debate (i.e. not the issue of bullied gays) as one could assume from careless reading of your initial post. (Besides, we have plenty of data such as admixture and, as of late, GWAS confirming simple additive model for the group difference – qualitatively similar to the case of height, not similar to gay-bullying and personality research). Measurement error is a fundamental problem; though as better-informed people remind us, there are methods, e.g. common pathway models, which help against it, and HBD research using those methods has yielded largely the same conclusions. It is also possible to directly test for AE vs ACE, precluding the sort of erroneous assumptions you warn against.

This is what is recommended is a textbook, literally, in crypto-HBDer Plomin's «Behavioral Genetics» 2012 edition (that is, anticipating Turkheimer's paper by a year). Consider p.157:

«In addition, recent work suggests that careful attention should be paid to claims of causality, measurement error, and environmental factors that can influence both the endophenotype and the final outcome (Kendler & Neale, 2010). … Another issue is that the goal of behavioral genetics is to understand pathways among genes, brain, and behavior. Genes found to be associated with brain phenotypes are important in terms of the brain level of analysis, but their usefulness for behavioral genetics depends on their relationship with behavior (Rasetti & Weinberger, 2011). In other words, when genes are found to be associated with brain traits, the extent to which the genes are associated with behavioral traits needs to be assessed rather than assumed».

Or in a section about model fitting, pp. 380-390:

« Although we will not follow the proof here, researchers have demonstrated that we cannot ask about additive genetic effects, dominance genetic effects, and shared environmental effects simultaneously if the only information we have is from MZ and DZ twins reared together. In virtually every circumstance, we will wish to retain the nonshared environmental variance component in the model. We wish to retain it partly because random measurement error is modeled as a nonshared environmental effect and we do not wish to have a model that assumes no measurement error (it is unlikely to fit very well). Most commonly, we would then model additive genetic variance and shared environmental variance. As mentioned earlier, such a model is called the ACE model […] Table A.2 shows that the AE model is unable to account for this particular set of observed values. Such a model is said to be underidentified. This condition is not necessarily problematic: In general, underidentified models are to be favored. Because a saturated model will always be able to fit the observed data perfectly, the goodness of fit does not really mean anything. However, if an underidentified model does fit the data, then we should take notice—it is not fitting out of mere statistical necessity».

Plomin practices what he preaches, too – here's an example of a paper.

So yeah, those are real problems with real countermeasures. «Phenotypic null hypothesis» is a meme, and there are apparently only two people forcing this meme.

Again, what Turkheimer is doing here is not different from Lewontin's tricks, which are known to have been motivated by politics. It's uncanny how similar these situations are. In the entry-level «Making sense of Heritability, pp. 60:-62:

Lewontin’s criticism of ANOVA is often presented as making a purely the- oretical point about inherent limitations in any attempt to derive causal conclusions from statistical data by using the analysis of variance. This interpretation is supported by the way he himself describes the upshot of his argument at the outset: “I will begin by saying some very obvious and elementary things about causes, but I will come thereby to some very annoying conclusions” … The strange thing about (a) is that, despite defending an extreme methodological claim that measurement of human norms of reaction is impossible, Lewontin neither discusses nor so much as mentions what were then most important contributions to the literature on that issue. At the time, the most sophisticated analysis of methodological prob- lems in human behavior genetics was undoubtedly the paper by Jinks and Fulker (1970), which was an important step in the development of powerful model-fitting methods that dominate the contemporary scene. Moreover, John Jinks and David Fulker did suggest how G–E interac- tions could be empirically detected without testing the same genotype in a variety of environments (see below), which directly contradicted Lewontin’s impossibility claim. It is hard to explain why Lewontin fails to address their argument, or at least inform the reader about this “landmark paper”…

By all means, do promote statistical literacy and demand intellectual honesty among HBDers, do shame us for our sloppiness. Keep discussing this in terms of phenotypic null hypothesis, if you must. But do not gaslight. This argument, and in this specific formulation, is not Behavioral Genetics 101, but your recent contribution to the debate, and it's more of a rhetorical nature.

Ok, so regarding this paper:

Plomin practices what he preaches, too – here's an example of a paper.

According to Plomin, the goal of the paper is to test the plausibility of evolutionary theories are about environmental sensitivity by using twin studies to look for heritability:

According to the recent evolutionary-inspired theories (i.e., differential susceptibility [1], biological sensitivity to context [2]), humans, like many other species [3], differ substantially in their sensitivity to contextual factors, with some more susceptible to environmental influences than others. Importantly, these theories suggest that heightened sensitivity predicts both the reactivity to adverse contexts as well as the propensity to benefit from supportive features of positive environments. In other words, sensitivity is proposed to influence the impact of environmental influences in a “for better and for worse” manner [4]. These prominent theories converge on the proposition that genetic factors play a significant role in individual differences in Environmental Sensitivity (ES) [1, 2, 5].

This is very much the sort of nonsense the phenotypic null hypothesis is an objection to. Everything is heritable, and we have good theoretical understanding of why that is. It is thus of no evidentiary value to find that things are heritable, and this shouldn't be treated as a confirmation of evolutionary theories, which destroys the whole point of the paper.

For example, children who scored higher on the HSC scale were found to benefit significantly more than less sensitive children from schoolbased resilience [16]

Not so relevant to the phenotypic null hypothesis and I haven't looked at this in detail as it's a citation of a different study, but the cited study makes me suspicious: They didn't find any main effect of the treatment, so this was a subgroup analysis of exactly the sort that Scott Alexander has warned me about.

[common pathway model for HSC]

I acknowledge that common pathway models/factor models can control for some types of measurement error in some scenarios, but it doesn't really seem to work for personality traits (and therefore not for HSC either, unless HSC is an unusual personality trait). The appropriate way to do this for personality data is multi-informant data, which tends to lead to way higher heritabilities for personality, indicating that a substantial proportion of the nonshared environment component is measurement error, even with naive common pathways.

[correlation matrix for personality traits]

Plomin finds that all the "good" personality traits are correlated, i.e. emotional stability, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness are all positively correlated with each other. The model he chooses to apply to those correlations assumes that these correlations are substantive, but I believe that is an inappropriate model.

Correlations between the Big Five personality traits within a single rater appear to reflect a "Halo"/"social desirability" bias factor. The way we can tell this is because it fails to correlate across informants. I.e. while it's true that you rating yourself as more extraverted correlates with you rating yourself as more conscientious, you rating yourself as more extraverted does not correlate with others rating you as more conscientious. See for instance this paper.

Also I believe it's well-established that the different subscales of HSC differ from each other in their correlations with the Big Five, and indeed he replicates that finding in the study. However, this pattern of correlations is incompatible with the notion that the correlations between HSC subscales and Big Five is mediated by the HSC common pathway, which makes his later models very strange.


In conclusion, the Plomin study you linked is a fractal of bad study design. In many ways it's a good example of the necessity to further popularize the phenotypic null hypothesis. However, the study also has severe flaws beyond the phenotypic null hypothesis. This is cruxy to me: if you can convince me that Plomin's study is good, then I will likely grant that I was wrong about my point about the phenotypic null hypothesis, but conversely I think Plomin's study is really bad and I think Turkheimer has to deal with an endless stream of studies that are equally as bad as Plomin's here, so I think this serves as an excellent case study that explains why Turkheimer is so bothered by behavioral genetics.

I rest my case.

Wait is the study even by Plomin? The authors listed are:

Elham Assary, Helena M. S. Zavos, Eva Krapohl, Robert Keers & Michael Pluess

None of whom seem to be Plomin.

Plomin practices what he preaches, too – here's an example of a paper.

I don't have time to respond to this right now, as I'm on my phone, but just quickly skimming it, it looks cruxy to me. I will respond once I get home.

Ok, and?

….The problem you talk about in your Substack post is real, although not nearly as damaging with regards to the sort of HBD beliefs most salient in the culture war and pro/anti-HBD debate (i.e. not the issue of bullied gays) as one could assume from careless reading of your initial post.

I'm not claiming it to be damaging to HBD beliefs, I'm claiming it to be damaging to certain types of arguments and findings HBDers often make. There can be bad arguments for correct conclusions, and people who make those arguments should stop making them because it introduces noise and makes it harder to find the good arguments.

Again I posted various examples of people not properly applying the phenotypic null hypothesis. Let's zoom into one of them to understand the problem:

https://twitter.com/tailcalled/status/1475441032292667394

If one doesn't understand the phenotypic null hypothesis, then this is an exciting study. Researchers have shown jealousy and restricted sociosexuality to be genetic! And to be biologically linked to each other! In the past I would have been really interested in these sorts of results, as tying into all sorts of evo psych theories.

However, when appreciating the phenotypic null hypothesis, it's a boring study. What are we even supposed to learn from it? Obviously these variables are going to be heritable and genetically correlated, but this doesn't really tell us much.

If you disagree with this notion, then feel encouraged to make your case for why this is such an important and meaningful finding.

Turkheimer, like Lewontin before him with his «apportionment» and, more to the point, with his corn plants (cited by Ned Block here), is making a mountain out of a common-sensical molehill, in his case to bury the monster of HBD implications that have sprang forth (as he asserts, unreasonably) from his own First Law that he now seeks to reframe (as much is stated in the paper).

I don't think Turkheimer is being an obscurantist here. He's a leading behavior geneticist and an editor for a behavior genetics journal; he has to deal with an endless stream of papers that proudly talk about how they've shown this and that to be genetic. He's got excellent reasons to try to make people accept the phenotypic null hypothesis, since it's a huge piece of missing knowledge.

Measurement error is a fundamental problem; though as better-informed people remind us, there are methods, e.g. common pathway models, which help against it,

But these models are rarely used. Even from the "better-informed people", I have had trouble getting it for e.g. testing the causal effect of g.

It is also possible to directly test for AE vs ACE

This is badly powered when C is smallish, e.g. try computing the power requirement for C^2=0.01.

(Besides, we have plenty of data such as admixture and, as of late, GWAS confirming simple additive model for the group difference – qualitatively similar to the case of height, not similar to gay-bullying and personality research)

I don't see how GWAS additivity defends personality research, can you expand? In particular I don't see how phenotypic null hypothesis predicts nonadditivity.

That piece of writing is what got me to stop caring about the issue. I don't think this is correct, though:

Incidentally, this can no longer be found on the author's website.

A removal seems more straight-forward than what's currently in place. Pseudoerasmus is a better pseudonymous example, all his HBD-adjacent writing is gone.

I'm not sure that hereditarianism vs environmentalism matters all that much if one believes that IQ scores are predictive across populations and that the interventions that have been tried do not last/work long term. (Not every environmentalist believes this of course.) It's like arguing over the Copenhagen interpretation vs the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics when all you're doing is using the math to calculate the band structure of a semiconductor. But interpreting a model rather than using the model to make predictions seems like a secondary concern.

I think the distinction would be that hereditarianism mostly rules out the possibility of an intervention that could work even if it hasn't been discovered yet, while environmentalism would suggest that better or more extreme interventions would work (in the most extreme case, baby swapping, though I don't think any serious environmentalists actually advocate this). It's like the distinction between a mathematical theorem that has had no counter example found but is still open, versus a mathematical theorem that has been proven/disproven.

In the quantum mechanics case, there is no practical testable distinction and never will be, but in the HBD case there's the potential for a distinction in the future even if there's no meaningful difference for most people in the short-term.

I think the distinction would be that hereditarianism mostly rules out the possibility of an intervention that could work even if it hasn't been discovered yet

Does it? Unless the IQ is directly influenced by the same genes that cause increased melanin production, protect against malaria, make your hair kinky or give you big flat noses and fleshy lips, you can always intervene. Even if the specific genes are unknown (and thus embryo selection will not work), it will take just a few generations to breed lower-IQ genes out of the population if you do it aggressively.

I guess that's a good point. So really it means hereditarianism rules out the possibility of behavioral interventions on the individual level but allows for genetic/eugenic interventions on the population level. Which are less useful given you can't apply it to already existing people, and generally less tasteful to most people, and harder to enact ethically. But theoretically tenable if you can pinpoint the actual IQ genes.

This is true in the fascile way that an Oldsmobile can go as fast as a race car so long as you replace everything but it's body with racecar parts. Sure, granted, but this world is identical in every meaningful way than if it weren't true.

To stretch the analogy, GM is 100% allowed to revive the Oldsmobile as their performance marque.

Sure, straightforward selective breeding and culling might work. But it ain't gonna happen.

Look, there's a version of the progressive position that might actually be respectable. You can make a compelling case that human beings in basically any context have a very poor track record of resisting the temptation to use real or imagined differences in cognitive ability as a basis for a stratification in worthiness of basically any kind. You could furthermore make the case that there's not good evidence that we've outgrown these tenancies.

But if you're going to take the discussion of such differences off the table, they must be fully taken off the table—not remain half on and half off the table as they are now. You can't take the half off the table that involves the study of ethnic differences in cognitive ability but then leave the half on the table that involves forming public policy on the basis of a lack thereof.

It must be all the way on, or come all the way off.

I agree that it must be all the way on or all the way off, and I would prefer if [it was all the way on and people cared about figuring out the truth].

A far more symmetric view: Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality. Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality.

Don't you arrive at these desires merely by adopting meritocracy as a core value? (In addition to different beliefs on the object-level question of whether or not racial differences in outcomes are primarily the organic results of natural differences in group abilities or primarily the result of societal oppression)

Are you suggesting that meritocracy is fundamentally a dishonest viewpoint? Or are you suggesting that most proponents of blank slatism vs HBD are not arguing as a result of an innate desire to see people justly compensation for their work? (If so, why? Isn't it just as infuriating to see people being unfairly elevated/oppressed from either point of view?)

Are you suggesting that meritocracy is fundamentally a dishonest viewpoint?

If merit is heritable, then at some point we are rewarding the luck of being born to the right parents. There's nothing wrong to owning up to it and saying we are rewarding people based on how much their existence benefits the society, but the other side of the coin means there are people who are a net drain on the society.

Would it be any less a matter of luck if intelligence and personality was entirely determined by your kindergarten teacher, your pregnant mother's folate consumption, the people you happened to make friends with in school, and whether your parents read to you as a child? It seems like the only advantage of environmental explanations in this matter is obscurantism, it seems less like luck if you can't name the exact mechanism. But regardless of specifics the kind of person you are is going to be 100% luck by definition, because the only things we don't define as luck are the products of the choices you make, and your choices are in turn determined and preceded by the kind of person you are.

Even if the way personality worked was at the age of 18 you pressed a button to choose either "I want to spend the rest of my life intelligent and highly-motivated" or "I want to be stupid and lazy", it would still be 100% "luck" determining the social/genetic/coincidental factors that made you choose one button or the other. It would be good due to more people pressing the first button and all the very real benefits that would bring to humanity, in the same way that a successful genetic-enhancement/embryo-selection/sperm-donation/lead-abatement program would be good, but it wouldn't stop your nature from being a matter of "luck".

'rewarding' puts a moralistic spin on it, when really it's just about maximizing efficiency.

Or are you suggesting that most proponents of blank slatism vs HBD are not arguing as a result of an innate desire to see people justly compensation for their work?

I would make this argument.

Here's a trope of environmentalist interventions. There's a hypothesis that some part of a selection process is preventing people from being justly compensated for their work. Then we directly fix that process by modifying it so that bias can't enter, and it has no effect or even makes the gaps bigger. The blank slatists then get angry and, if it turns out bias went the opposite way, advocate against fixing it.

Examples:

  • Gender blind hiring in Australia is scrapped after it turns out people were biased in favor of women rather than against.

  • Similar results in tech, and now gender blind hiring is out of favor. Ideology tests during the interview are popular, however.

  • SAT was originally meant to (and did!) nullify the bias inherent in high school grades. What if teachers were biased against lower classes, colored people, Jews, etc? They might give lower subjective grades and the SAT could find hidden talent. It worked great, but the hidden talent is predominantly Asian so now they want to scrap it.

  • Leftists oppose civil service tests of by the book firefighting skills, because blacks don't pass them. Instead they favor an oral exam where bias could creep in. ("By the book" means "according to the firefighter manual, which saw blade should be used to cut concrete". To be fair, the test in New Haven was badly copied from the NYC test and included a few questions about NYC geography which I guess is racist and invalidates the test somehow?)

There are a huge number of cases where leftists directly oppose changes that result in people being more justly compensated when that results in selecting fewer members of their favored groups. I can't think of any cases where they support it. Can you?

Well so here are two models:

  1. People start with meritocracy as a value and then try to figure out the factual questions about how abilities work.

  2. People start with some policy opinions or alliances or something and then work to rationalize those.

Model 1 is debunked because if people were trying to figure out the factual questions, they would take basic concepts like the phenotypic null hypothesis into account, and they would be upset about having signal-boosted terrible studies like the IQ/effort one. It's possible that there is some alternative to model 2 that people follow, in which case you should feel encouraged to share what that alternative is.

No, model 1 isn't "debunked" and shouting "phenotypic null hypothesis" isn't the argument winner you seem to think it is.

The phrase "phenotypic null hypothesis" captures a point that is critically important to understand in these sorts of discussions. It can definitely be misused, shouting "phenotypic null hypothesis" is definitely necessary in contexts where people aren't taking it into account. If there are any of my tweets where you feel like I've abused it then feel free to point at them.

So, first off, thank you for posting, and apologies in advance if the criticism I'll give comes across as too harsh. You seem to be trying to get more seen and read, so I'm going to try to help.

First -- your writing style doesn't work well for me. It's too abstract, and you don't clearly state your point. For example, your point #1 "Heritability simply does not mean what a lot of HBDers want it to mean - because of the phenotypic null hypothesis." What is your point here? What do you think "HBDs want it to mean"? What is the "phenotypic null hypothesis"? It's not good writing to make me chase down you thoughts, especially on other sites, especially before you've proven you're worth the work. I went to that site, and am not much more enlightened. You seem to somewhere make the point "Things influenced by genes often go though non-biological channels". Or maybe "things that look inherited aren't always". Sure, I'd say both are fairly non-controversial. A classic example of the second is, e.g. "speaking French" which looks inherited on the surface, but is clearly not biological. And yes, our environment and society mediate all kinds of things, we live in a complex interconnected world.

Do you have more of a point? I couldn't really tell (of course, that can be on me, but ... I've read and understood a fair number of others on this topic, but not your writing...) I really don't know what your code and diagrams at the end are supposed to show. Summarize your cool conclusion! E.g. "Even though X is not directly responsible, in a naive analysis it looks like it is, exactly like QQQ, which actually is directly responsible. Here's how that can play out ...". I think you're saying something like that, but you don't bother actually saying it (or I missed it).

In any case you sort of seem to be saying "we can't figure anything out" which both seems wrong, and kind of useless. Do you apply this to all such studies? Maybe we should -- I admit, I tend to write off almost of all psychological and sociological studies these days, because they seem so ideologically captured. On the other hand, between statistics, twin studies (and separated twin studies), and sibling studies, we seem to be able to do a pretty good job on some things.

Second -- you seem to be coming at this from a place of significant bias. "Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes," is an incredibly weak straw-man, it's basically "Everyone I disagree with is a racist". Is that really the best you can do, in terms of extending charity to the people you disagree with? I personally, like most of the others here, see the acknowledgement of group differences (and for what it's worth, I don't really care much if it's culture or biology, and both seem taboo anyway) as primarily an alternative for differing outcomes, without discrimination being the ONLY explanation.

I'm in tech. There aren't many women, nor many black people. This is ascribed to sexism and racism, which doesn't match what I've seen, experienced, or heard from the affected people (from women at least; I haven't asked many black colleagues about racism). I see my company following policy to massively privilege both groups, and to blame white cis-men for all the problems, and those both seem wrong, and even damaging to me (and to a number of people in the targeted groups, e.g. women who just want to be SWEs, and not feel they got their role because of their sex, and no, I'm not concern trolling, the suspicion around the privileging is real). I see differing interests (and maybe ability at the margins) and degrees as the main reasons for the differing representation, but we're not allowed to notice that, as "It's not the pipeline". James Damore got fired for trying to make this point.

You also see this censorship of blasphemy in the US, especially around crime, where apparently pointing out some choice statistics around violent crime is considered a hate crime. (Again, FWIW, I'd consider those stats more a cultural issue, but it's a pretty important one, upstream of the 'getting shot by police' issue).

So anyway, what I'd like from you, and I think would benefit you, is to tighten up your writing -- make your point first, then provide an explanation of it (it's a classic academic / systemic thinker error to do it the other way around). Make things more concrete. Work from a specific example and tie your points back to it. People are reluctant to trust generic models, as they are often used to lie (see Abigail Thompson's dissection of Hong-Page's "mathematical proof that diversity trumps ability". There's a nice discussion of it here

Also, try to be more charitable to your outgroup.

Also, as per the community rules, "don't attempt to build consensus", as you do when you write "... which claimed to find that effort does not matter for IQ scores. This obviously massively contradicts common sense,"

No, this doesn't "obviously massively contradict" my common sense, and I think many would disagree. In fact, I thought one of the main points of IQ tests, rather than "effort tests", is that neither effort nor prep makes much of a difference to them. Otherwise, for example, they wouldn't stay very stable over time (which I understand they do). Prep courses would also have more value, which I don't think do. Do you think when people can't make intellectual leaps others do, they just aren't trying hard enough in that particular moment? I think most would agree effort plays some role -- if I don't care or try at all on an IQ tests, and answer at random, I'll have a low score. If I try to be fast and disciplined, and use all my test-taking savvy, I'll probably (?) do better than if I just breeze through (although I wonder). But basically, once you're trying to do well, it's not really clear what "trying harder" even means on IQ test. It's not like pushing on a bar (and honestly, even for that the range where trying, vs training and genes and drugs, makes a difference, is pretty small in that moment. If I can barely do one pull-up, trying really hard might mean I do one, or two, but I'm generally not going to be able to do 10). So anyway, stop claiming consensus on things people will disagree on (especially things where your "consensus" seems to go against standard definitions).

I can't really comment on your main article, because I don't understand it beyond "assigning causation back to genes is tricky", which, I agree with, but, if that is your point, isn't a very exciting one, nor is the the pwn you seem to think it is. But if you have a different point, please state it clearly and simply, with a concrete example, and I'll try to address it.

First -- your writing style doesn't work well for me. It's too abstract, and you don't clearly state your point. For example, your point #1 "Heritability simply does not mean what a lot of HBDers want it to mean - because of the phenotypic null hypothesis." What is your point here? What do you think "HBDs want it to mean"? What is the "phenotypic null hypothesis"? It's not good writing to make me chase down you thoughts, especially on other sites, especially before you've proven you're worth the work. I went to that site, and am not much more enlightened. You seem to somewhere make the point "Things influenced by genes often go though non-biological channels". Or maybe "things that look inherited aren't always". Sure, I'd say both are fairly non-controversial. A classic example of the second is, e.g. "speaking French" which looks inherited on the surface, but is clearly not biological. And yes, our environment and society mediate all kinds of things, we live in a complex interconnected world.

Do you have more of a point? I couldn't really tell (of course, that can be on me, but ... I've read and understood a fair number of others on this topic, but not your writing...) I really don't know what your code and diagrams at the end are supposed to show. Summarize your cool conclusion! E.g. "Even though X is not directly responsible, in a naive analysis it looks like it is, exactly like QQQ, which actually is directly responsible. Here's how that can play out ...". I think you're saying something like that, but you don't bother actually saying it (or I missed it).

Here are some examples of places where I'd bring it up on twitter:

The post comes from frustration with these sorts of situations. Importantly, it's not the specific interactions but instead that they are repeated and that often not much update happens. This seems like a point that should get signal-boosted more in a healthy community.

In any case you sort of seem to be saying "we can't figure anything out" which both seems wrong, and kind of useless. Do you apply this to all such studies? Maybe we should -- I admit, I tend to write off almost of all psychological and sociological studies these days, because they seem so ideologically captured. On the other hand, between statistics, twin studies (and separated twin studies), and sibling studies, we seem to be able to do a pretty good job on some things.

Yes, frequently scroll through my twitter and just fire of random quick tweets that debunk random social science studies. And I don't trust any social science studies until I've checked the methodology myself.

Second -- you seem to be coming at this from a place of significant bias. "Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes," is an incredibly weak straw-man, it's basically "Everyone I disagree with is a racist". Is that really the best you can do, in terms of extending charity to the people you disagree with? I personally, like most of the others here, see the acknowledgement of group differences (and for what it's worth, I don't really care much if it's culture or biology, and both seem taboo anyway) as primarily an alternative for differing outcomes, without discrimination being the ONLY explanation.

I'm in tech. There aren't many women, nor many black people. This is ascribed to sexism and racism, which doesn't match what I've seen, experienced, or heard from the affected people (from women at least; I haven't asked many black colleagues about racism). I see my company following policy to massively privilege both groups, and to blame white cis-men for all the problems, and those both seem wrong, and even damaging to me (and to a number of people in the targeted groups, e.g. women who just want to be SWEs, and not feel they got their role because of their sex, and no, I'm not concern trolling, the suspicion around the privileging is real). I see differing interests (and maybe ability at the margins) and degrees as the main reasons for the differing representation, but we're not allowed to notice that, as "It's not the pipeline". James Damore got fired for trying to make this point.

You also see this censorship of blasphemy in the US, especially around crime, where apparently pointing out some choice statistics around violent crime is considered a hate crime. (Again, FWIW, I'd consider those stats more a cultural issue, but it's a pretty important one, upstream of the 'getting shot by police' issue).

So anyway, what I'd like from you, and I think would benefit you, is to tighten up your writing -- make your point first, then provide an explanation of it (it's a classic academic / systemic thinker error to do it the other way around). Make things more concrete. Work from a specific example and tie your points back to it. People are reluctant to trust generic models, as they are often used to lie (see Abigail Thompson's dissection of Hong-Page's "mathematical proof that diversity trumps ability". There's a nice discussion of it here

Also, try to be more charitable to your outgroup.

You're making assumptions about my ingroups/outgroups that aren't necessarily true. E.g. I've spent tons of money on HBD-aligned research, partly for motivations similar to what you describe here.

No, this doesn't "obviously massively contradict" my common sense, and I think many would disagree. In fact, I thought one of the main points of IQ tests, rather than "effort tests", is that neither effort nor prep makes much of a difference to them. Otherwise, for example, they wouldn't stay very stable over time (which I understand they do).

I was under the impression that the test-retest reliability of IQ tests is 0.85? If we assume that the test-retest reliability of effort is 50% (I suspect it's higher, but let's be generous to your side), and we go by the estimate that 8% of variance in IQ is down to effort, then that would mean that effort would introduce an unreliability of 50%*8%=4% to IQ tests. This is considerably less than the 15% unreliability that I've commonly seen, so I don't see how your argument is even halfway close to working out here.

Prep courses would also have more value, which I don't think do. Do you think when people can't make intellectual leaps others do, they just aren't trying hard enough in that particular moment?

Isn't the item level of IQ tests (which seems like the closest analogy to intellectual leaps to me) dominated by noise? So I'd say noise, not g or effort.

Also even if we ignore the item noise point, by the numbers I'm giving, test effort would only be 8% of the explanation for test underperformance.

I think most would agree effort plays some role -- if I don't care or try at all on an IQ tests, and answer at random, I'll have a low score. If I try to be fast and disciplined, and use all my test-taking savvy, I'll probably (?) do better than if I just breeze through (although I wonder). But basically, once you're trying to do well, it's not really clear what "trying harder" even means on IQ test. It's not like pushing on a bar (and honestly, even for that the range where trying, vs training and genes and drugs, makes a difference, is pretty small in that moment. If I can barely do one pull-up, trying really hard might mean I do one, or two, but I'm generally not going to be able to do 10). So anyway, stop claiming consensus on things people will disagree on (especially things where your "consensus" seems to go against standard definitions).

It sounds to me that you are granting the basic point (effort plays some role), but then acting like you are disagreeing anyway? Is it a quantitative disagreement? If so, what is your estimate for the quantitative effect that effort plays?

Sorry, didn't check your Twitter, as I'm not on it, and don't like it (and don't like following links just to know what someone's talking about; I do like them for references).

I guess if you stated clearly what you think contributes to IQ scores then perhaps we'd mostly agree. As I think you say, accounting for 8% variance would be not too far from noise. That still seems quite a bit too high to me, and I don't really see how you clearly quantify 'effort' but would think to myself -- "whatever, if you want to believe that, go ahead it doesn't seem wrong enough to be worth fighting over". What I read from your initial post is that effort was more important than everything else, which seemed clearly wrong. You gave this impression by not specifying how much effect you thought that it had, and by saying people claiming it didn't have an effect "obviously massively contradicts common sense," which is a very strong formulation.

FWIW, I expect a very asymptotic-type curve, that rises extremely sharply from [answered questions at random without reading them] to [did test pretty normally], and then is pretty flat. It's like (but not quite as extreme) saying the kind of pen you use matters, because if yours is broken, or breaks half-way through, you'll get a lower score. So effort is not very interesting. But sure somehow accounting for 4% of the variance is plausible (sorry, to me 8% really seems too high, I'd think how well I slept, the questions I got, my mood, time of day, my pencil, and a bunch of other things would play a larger role than nebulous 'effort'). You seemed to be implying that means IQ tests are meaningless (and apologies if I misread it, again, please stately plainly your point so that doesn't happen as often), which that doesn't seem like a strong argument for. If that's not what you're implying, what is your point in bringing up effort?

Sorry, didn't check your Twitter, as I'm not on it, and don't like it (and don't like following links just to know what someone's talking about; I do like them for references).

I think it would be best to read what people are saying before responding to them.

I guess if you stated clearly what you think contributes to IQ scores then perhaps we'd mostly agree. [...] What I read from your initial post is that effort was more important than everything else, which seemed clearly wrong. You gave this impression by not specifying how much effect you thought that it had, and by saying people claiming it didn't have an effect "obviously massively contradicts common sense," which is a very strong formulation.

Sorry, the point about how it "obviously massively contradicts common sense" was not meant to be interpreted as a measure of effect size, it was meant to be interpreted literally: as an expression that if I went out and told people that IQ tests don't depend on effort (as HBDers wpuld have me do), then people would conclude that I am delusionally worshipping IQ tests - and as I showed in the thread, it appears that they wpuld be right to conclude that.

That still seems quite a bit too high to me, and I don't really see how you clearly quantify 'effort'

🤷‍♀️ I just went with whatever quantification chosen by the leading IQ researcher whose study got signal-boosted. It's quite possible it's bad as I didn't look into it in detail, but if it is bad then I feel like that also reflects badly on HBDers for signal-boosting a study that uses a bad measure.

sorry, to me 8% really seems too high, I'd think how well I slept, the questions I got, my mood, time of day, my pencil, and a bunch of other things would play a larger role than nebulous 'effort'

Those might be correlated with effort. Mood in particular seems likely mediated by effort.

I don't really agree that effort is particularly nebulous of a concept. Have you never had the experience of just quickly marking down your first thoughts without wanting to bother thinking them through and not double-checking that they are right?

If that's not what you're implying, what is your point in bringing up effort?

My point in bringing up effort is that I was scrolling through my twitter timeline that is filled with social science, and then I saw all the HBDers I followed praising this guy for debunking the notion that IQ is affected by effort. And then I thought, hm, that sounds implausible, I should double-check the statistics, and it turned out the statistics were wrong and actually effort is affected by IQ.

I don't want to replace leftists lying to me about racial difference in g in order to rationalize racial equality with rightists lying to me about effort in IQ tests in order to rationalize racial inequality. I don't think I need special justification for wanting to know the truth about each question in a decoupled way from everything else. But if we absolutely should justify it by practical means, then a straightforward justification would be that this directly contradicts people's experience when filling out tests, and therefore looks delusional to insist on, presumably on the margin reducing the number of people sympathetic to HBD.

Sorry, didn't check your Twitter, as I'm not on it, and don't like it (and don't like following links just to know what someone's talking about; I do like them for references).

I think it would be best to read what people are saying before responding to them.

Write it here, clearly, and I will. Don't send me to Twitter, or your blog (or do, but realize you've lost much of your audience). Reading this, I think you would be better off if you spent less time on Twitter (well, I think that goes for just about everyone...)

I guess if you stated clearly what you think contributes to IQ scores then perhaps we'd mostly agree. [...] What I read from your initial post is that effort was more important than everything else, which seemed clearly wrong. You gave this impression by not specifying how much effect you thought that it had, and by saying people claiming it didn't have an effect "obviously massively contradicts common sense," which is a very strong formulation.

Sorry, the point about how it "obviously massively contradicts common sense" was not meant to be interpreted as a measure of effect size, it was meant to be interpreted literally: as an expression that if I went out and told people that IQ tests don't depend on effort (as HBDers wpuld have me do), then people would conclude that I am delusionally worshipping IQ tests - and as I showed in the thread, it appears that they wpuld be right to conclude that.

I don't think people would conclude that, and I don't think you proved that in this thread. You remind me of the XKCD about using language in a very non-standard way and then feeling clever that they didn't understand you.

I don't really agree that effort is particularly nebulous of a concept. Have you never had the experience of just quickly marking down your first thoughts without wanting to bother thinking them through and not double-checking that they are right?

I get the concept of effort, but I think it's difficult to turn into something where you can say you're giving 20%, 50% 80% effort. But it's a minor point.

I feel like you're not listening to me, and I assume you're feeling the same about me. I think we've both reached our limits of what we think we can convey to the other. I wish you luck and success in better understanding g, IQ tests, HBD, and conservatives in general. My final two requests: work on writing more clearly, and listen more with the intent of understanding, rather than proving why you're right. (I will try to do the same!)

So, what view would I suggest? A far more symmetric view: Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality. Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality. There's some honest people on either side who have been swept up in the drama, but in terms of the direction of the energy which drives the whole debate, this is what lies underneath it.

In the left-wing view, resources are by default abundant but production is fixed, so whoever has more than another must be "hoarding" it. It seems pre-agricultural. (Trees still grow fruit even if no one shows up to harvest it.)

In the right-wing view, resources are by default scarce, but production is highly changeable. This view is more industrial or agricultural. (Fields lie empty if no one plants for the next harvest.)

"Right-wingers want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes" presumes that they fundamentally believe in left-wing ideas but are just hoarding out of greed. That's not a symmetric view at all. It's just the left-wing view.

If everyone has the same economic production, but Italians are stealing a share from Frenchmen, then Frenchmen receiving a larger share will just make Italians worse off. If Frenchmen have a lower economic production than Italians, but Frenchman economic production increases, then the total output of the economy rises. Italians bid more for highly inelastic goods like land, but more elastic goods like potato chips or microchips may become cheaper, and depending on their preference the Italians may be better off overall.

It's a bit more complicated than this, but the big question is the same as it was 20 years ago - if you can make a social program to converge racial outcomes in the US by about 50% (putting e.g. black income around where hispanic income is now, which is about where white income is relative to asian income), where is that program?

It seems pre-agricultural.

I second that. I think that compassion to economic-poor and hate towards sexually-poor is because our morality lags economics and we're still think like hunter-gatherers do.

Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality. Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality. There's some honest people on either side who have been swept up in the drama, but in terms of the direction of the energy which drives the whole debate, this is what lies underneath it.

I think HBD conversations would improve if focus were to shift from cognitive factors to athletic factors. For example, are the extraordinary accomplishments of recent-African-heritage sprinters in international track & field competitions attributable to genetic factors that are relevant at the population level? If we can't make progress on this question, then how can we hope to make progress on (far harder) questions about cognitive factors?

There has been plenty of progress on questions like differences in BMI, running ability and such. Scott even posted a link years ago to a study on genetic causes of BMI differences (which he used to vaguely hint on his beliefs about IQ differences). Genome wide association studies have been done and are being done on all these questions. To quote Joe Rogan, "You haven't been paying attention to the literature."

There has been plenty of progress on questions like differences in BMI, running ability and such. Scott even posted a link years ago to a study on genetic causes of BMI differences (which he used to vaguely hint on his beliefs about IQ differences). Genome wide association studies have been done and are being done on all these questions. To quote Joe Rogan, "You haven't been paying attention to the literature."

I think you're suggesting that there's a widespread academic consensus that, e.g., genetic factors significantly explain part of the observed population differences in high-level sports achievements. But I'm skeptical that such a consensus exists. Off my head, I can't think of any mainstream American academic who has endorsed something like this position publicly.

Maybe the consensus exists, but it's considered tasteless to discuss the question in polite company? In any case, are there prominent experts who argue that HBD (largely) explains differences in high-level athletics achievement, but doesn't explain differences in (e.g.) high-level math achievement? I would be interested in seeing how they thread this needle.

Conversations probably would improve, because doing so would move us out of the territory of policy.

Few people care about sprinters enough to legislate their immigration, or to Just Ask Questions about sprinter culture, or to try and hint that exhorting/suppressing sprinting is a moral imperative. Intelligence, on the other hand, has higher stakes. The fact that it ought to be a much harder question pales in comparison to the increased benefits for "winning" that argument.

Probably there is less attention about athletic differences because the stakes are lower and it applies to fewer people. Being a top 5% sprinter confers nothing (you need to be among the best in the world to make a living at it), but being in the top 25% of achievement is the difference between middle and lower class.

Probably there is less attention about athletic differences because the stakes are lower

That is exactly why I think that it could make for more productive conversation.

Racial differences in sports accomplishment sound likely due to bodily differences in sports abilities. Next question please.

HBD is a useful scientific frame insofar as it goes against the default blank-statist universalism of academia writ large, but the number of people who truly give a shit about the phenotypic variance populations on psychometrics is a rounding error. The issue is that people like to make interventions which don’t do anything. We can quibble over effect sizes, but right now I could use embryo selection to get a marginally smarter child compared to controls. There isn’t any known environmental intervention that can more the dial on adult g.

I’m actually quite sympathetic to giving more credit to random noise, but nobody has time for the humility that would demand.

Just for context, is there some specific intervention Erik Turkheimer has endorsed that you are objecting to/which you think has been shown to be ineffective?

It’s unfortunately not explicit, but the subtext of of the thesis ‘the environment of poverty causes low IQ’ is that if we fix poverty we fix IQ. If you take Jensen seriously then you can (correctly) predict that anything short of explicit eugenics and/or gene modification is going to fail to move the needle.

On the margins there is plenty of room for serious scientists to argue about possibly meaningful effects here or there: the fact that income and wealth have very different relationships with heritability is definitely interesting. But we try to use truth to win social fights rather than pick our side based on truth unfortunately.

It's kind of weird to treat an empirical question as a competition and focusing on the sportsmanship and conduct of each side. Ultimately the tactics used in various debates have no effect on the underlying reality. The earth orbits the sun with no regard to the good or bad conduct of people who profess heliocentrism or geocentrism.

A far more symmetric view: Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality. Rightist inclined people want to preserve racial inequality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the unachievability of equality and justification of inequality.

I just want to know the truth and for the truth to be known. I want policy arguments built on false factual premises to fail, and I want policies built on true factual premises to succeed. But your characterization affords no place for genuine epistemic rationalists; it assumes that everyone is a contestant in some kind of dumb zero-sum game, engaging in that game only as a means of influencing policy in their favored direction.

The earth orbits the sun with no regard to the good or bad conduct of people who profess heliocentrism or geocentrism.

Well yes. But for those of us who don't know how to use telescopes, that is a pretty good clue nonetheless. Perhaps the best we'll get.

🤷 I also want to know the truth; what triggered this discussion was mainly that the other post had been placed in the best-of section of this website. Take it up with the moderators if you think the conduct of each side is irrelevant.

Though I don't think the conduct is irrelevant, because of Aumann's agreement theorem. If there was a side that conducted itself well, you could just copy your opinion from what they say. Because they're not behaving well, you can't do that. That seems like important information to know.

Also I wouldn't say I don't have any space for people who want to know the truth:

There's some honest people on either side who have been swept up in the drama, but in terms of the direction of the energy which drives the whole debate, this is what lies underneath it.

Though I don't think the conduct is irrelevant, because of Aumann's agreement theorem.

Can you give an example of an issue that is the subject of ongoing political controversy in which you believe the assumptions of Aumann's agreement theorem are satisfied?

Disagreements where Aumann's agreement theorem's assumptions are satisfied rapidly disappear, so whenever you talk about persistent controversies, they will not be satisfied. However, it is still relevant for me to know whether they fail to be satisfied because one side if obstinate, or because both sides are bad, as if it's only one side that's bad then I can just copy my views from the other side.

HBD is very broad or like a spectrum. It can mean definite racial cognitive stratification, or that individual differences are inherently innate, but with race playing a smaller role. Even if some groups score higher on average, there is considerable overlap of the distribution of scores, so we cannot generalize at the individual level as easily, which is what Charles Murray himself said. Even if HBD does have flaws, it still seems to be better than the alternatives at explaining society.

This obviously massively contradicts common sense,

Given how high stakes the LSATs and SATs are, who doesn't put maximal effort? Yet some people get way higher LSAT scores than others even though everyone is trying hard, suggesting innate differences still matter even if incentives also matter. Probably 100k+ people annually apply to top law & med schools, top colleges; I am sure most of them are putting in maximum effort on high-stakes tests such as the LSAT, GRE, ACT, SAT, MCAT, etc.

Part of the problem with a lot of HBD-dunking, such as by Taleb, is they fail to control for individual preferences. So in aggregate, correlations between innate qualities and outcomes are low, but you are not accounting for individual preferences, not that genes do not matter. Most >120 IQ people do not work at a high-paying tech companies, but having a high IQ is highly predictive of who gets those jobs.

Given how high stakes the LSATs and SATs are, who doesn't put maximal effort?

Neither I nor the person who did the study were making a claim about the SAT, we were considering a setting where people fill out surveys for pay on the internet.

Yet some people get way higher LSAT scores than others even though everyone is trying hard, suggesting innate differences still matter even if incentives also matter. Probably 100k+ people annually apply to top law & med schools, top colleges; I am sure most of them are putting in maximum effort on high-stakes tests such as the LSAT, GRE, ACT, SAT, MCAT, etc.

I didn't say effort was the determining factor, I said that it mattered, with natural variation in effort covering maybe slightly less than 10% of the variance (so if you go from slacking to max effort, maybe that gets you a bit more than a standard deviation of score).

Part of the problem with a lot of HBD-dunking, such as by Taleb, is they fail to control for individual preferences. So in aggregate, correlations between innate qualities and outcomes are low, but you are not accounting for individual preferences, not that genes do not matter.

Much of individual preferences are heritable too, but yes I agree that group-level differences are much less "noisy" than individual-level differences.

Leftist inclined people want to create racial equality of outcomes, and they therefore boost whichever kinds of rationalizations they can come up with for the achievability and justification of such equality.

And they've had the reins and got to be the null hypothesis for decades. All of their interventions failed. We can play the snipe down studies game all day but in the end one story is backed up by observed reality and the other is backed up by blind dogma.

But I honestly don't even care if this ridiculous debate is settled, all I want is for the blank slatists to actually have to justify their interventions and pay some cost when the inevitably fail. That all the costs of their failures are dumped on their outgroup is unacceptable.

And they've had the reigns and got to be the null hypothesis for decades. All of their interventions failed. We can play the snipe down studies game all day but in the end one story is backed up by observed reality and the other is backed up by blind dogma.

pretty much:

https://i1.wp.com/www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ccf_20170201_reeves_3.png?w=768&crop=0%2C0px%2C100%2C9999px&ssl=1

The black-white achievement gap has proven impervious to all efforts to fix it

same for the gender gap

https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/satnew.png

But individual absolute ability may have increased , but group differences persist. It's intellectually dishonest to claim that enough hasn't been tried. Policy makers have invested considerable money and effort at narrowing such gaps, with piss-poor results to show for it.

Regarding the gender gap in math ability, has any country tried to just make girls take twice as many math classes as boys do for a generation to see if that would reverse it?

We are kinda already doing that with a gazillion different programs for girls, code camps, mentorship programs, etc. Of course, they are absolutely dwarved by autistic boys just going the autodidact route.

Don't most girls not participate in such programs? You can only really expect to have an effect on the ones who participate, so if most don't participate, you are closer to not having the program at all than you are to having it for all the girls.

However, it seems difficult to explain lack of girls' participation in an all-girl coding camp by any form of male behavior. In that sense, code camp intervention has not been tested, but has been attempted, which is itself a test. Of course, motte = "patriarchy is fully general and can be hosted on female brains", bailey = "men are sexist and that's why women don't code".

If we take this entirely seriously, dismantling patriarchy here would require forcing girls to go to code camp.

AFAIK the mainstream hypothesis among child developmental psychologists is a self-socialization theory, where children mimic adults in their culture. The whole patriarchy thing is more of a feminist activist thing that doesn't necessarily generalize to the expert's views. Of course the experts might be wrong too, but I'm just saying, as far as I know nobody has tried whether raising children in a culture where math and technical subjects is more of a women's thing works.

Hm, that seems interesti