BBC has apparently abused the freedom of speech in England. They were not afraid and ashamed to publish the outrageous results of IQ tests designed to measure "general cognitive (spatial and verbal) ability" that two British researchers (Paul Irwing and Richard Lynn in British Journal of Psychology) gave to 80,000 people plus 20,000 extra students; well they summarized some previous tests but it does not really matter. What a crummy article.
- Below 14 years: no measurable difference between boys and girls
- Above 14 years: IQs differ by 5 points
- IQ 125 and above: 2 vs. 1 ratio
- IQ 155 and above: 5.5 vs. 1 ratio
Their story immediately became the most discussed news story in the blogosphere. To balance the viewpoint, an alternative research with the opposite result was performed by Barry Sheerman, a British MP: women are cleverer than men, he said.
The word "research" used for Sheerman's statements was another joke, of course.
Now: most IQ tests are not terribly deep (and one can train herself or himself to get better results) - and one can't really deduce anything certain from one silly number. Nevertheless, if a question should be studied rationally, something like that had to be done anyway and the correlations between the resulting IQ and other things will exist. As far as I know, they (mostly?) used the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices which is respected as a good test of the pure intelligence factor g.
Earlier in the summer, another extremely bright and mysterious sinner named La Griffe du Lion (equivalently, the Zorro of statisticians) has looked at the power of Gaussians and the different second moments or variances. He showed how Summers' speech on January 14th could have looked like and one of his or her conclusions is that a female Fields medal is expected once per 103 years.
Disclaimer: Of course, your humble correspondent respects the official opinion of Harvard University - as codified by the Congress of Women's Committees and the FAS faculty meeting on 3/15 - which says that two female Fields medals are expected every four years; one prize per 2 years. No doubt, the fact that du Lion's value seems closer to reality is a measurement error or a result of discrimination. The Reference Frame is not responsible for the content of external internet sites such as BBC.
The previous paragraph was a joke.More seriously, this research may be interesting, it can be the best approach that a purely sociological and psychological research can take, and it probably implies something but I still prefer neurobiology that tries to figure out the true reasons behind all of this.
Even more seriously, The Reference Frame disagrees with some political statements by Richard Lynn. Amusingly, I am probably the first person to conjecture that La Griffe du Lion and Richard Lynn is the same person. Of course, du Lion could also be Charles Murray whose new and up-to-date extensive analysis of group differences is officially released next month. Or anyone else among the known names, including one of our friends from Harvard. But my guess is Lynn anyway. Feedback welcome. ;-)
Richard Lynn and Paul Irwing became very unlikely scientific bedfellows because Paul Irwing is kind of left-wing, politically correct person who would have been "happier if this fact were never found out or if the result were different". It just happened that someone had convinced him that suppressing a certain kind of data was scientifically dishonest, and Irwing agreed.
One of the things that fascinates me is that most people apparently believe that all women have to dismiss the research immediately as permanently unacceptable. I beg to disagree and many of my female friends are counterexamples. Gutsy women like Jennifer Warwick know that time will tell whether Lynn's research is good science; and it is definitely an opportunity to test and explore our own biases and prejudices.