Monday, May 10, 2010

IQ and the Wealth of Nations: Measuring the Immeasurable

This article is a reaction to the book “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” written by a University of Ulster psychology professor Richard Lynn. Wile the book has stirred a lot of controversy, I would like to show that Lynn’s results, even if assumed to be true, have no implications for either economics or ethics. Value is in the mind of the individual. It is subjective. The value of individual ends can only be measured by the individual in question and it cannot be compared across individuals. Neither IQ is a measure of one’s ability to meet own wants and needs nor GDP is a measure of satisfaction of one's wants and needs - because no such measure exists. In addition, Lynn’s results do not change the fact that individuals are free to associate with others using their own criteria. Therefore, no normative prescriptions can be derived from these results.

The full article can be seen here.

5 comments:

  1. With all your respect I think you were drunk when you wrote that article. Mr Lynn is obviously right in his point.

    Culture, IQ, Education, whatever you want to call it......are vital for the socioeconomic development of any society.

    All you have done is shown everyone you have low IQ and poor analytical and critique skills.

    Good luck.

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  2. well written and supported. looking forward to the next one.

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  3. IQ matters on the aggregate, as is borne out by almost complete agreement with observation, and the thing you need to pay attention to is that even thouhg it is not the only thing that matters (eg N Korea has high IQ but is a mess, however they do have nuclear capacity and zimbabwe does not for reasons of IQ), it is very important ; in fact the most important way tyo predict overall performance of a society, the individual is a red herring in that case. Ultimately you cannot call something 'unmeasureable' just by fiat (I know that the central banks might disagree) and refuse to accept that the vast majority of social results can be correlated to , and beyond that attributed to the differential intelligence of the residents of whatever systems you would like to compare. Can you pick minutiae out of that and spend a lot of time arguing that you don't know an individual's performance as a result? sure! You can do the same nit picking with a roulette wheel or the next dice throw but we know that over time the house has odds in it's favor, regardless of how many people walk out winners (this time). So unless you are going to show that Lynn is wrong about the prosperity of the countries that he has compared, then you are stumbling in the dark. Now you may not like the implications of intelligence measurement, that is a detail, and does nothing to refute it, nor obfuscate it. I dont know what or who you are trying to win points with here but you are being wrong in the process, I just wanted you to know that so that you are aware that you have decided to put nature on the block for some ulterior agenda , which is never wise, though may seem expedient in the moment. Until you are willing to show that IQ has no predictive value (meaning that it does not correlate with odds of succes, not that it is not able to predict the next individuals peculiarities) and has not consequence in aggregate, then you are just trying to make someone feel good. That's very nice of you but it's completely dishonest and lacks rigor completely.

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  4. Anonymous, you've got a lot going on there but I am a bit thrown off by your comment on my honesty. I generally don’t take seriously those who give such comments. I am not sure if I made anyone feel good, but I can see that I made quite a few people feel bad.

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