Saturday, January 23, 2016

Poverty and IQ again

Charles Murray showed a couple of decades ago that the poor tend to have lower IQs.  And it was hardly a surprise that being dumb might keep you poor.  But the Left purport to love the poor so Murray was furiously attacked over his findings -- though he had not in fact said most of the things he was alleged to have said.  It was a very cautious and  scholarly book rather than any kind of polemic. The Leftist rage at Murray finally exhausted itself but Murray still has his marbles and is an active Facebooker so I imagine that he could give you more details of the "controversy".

Murray seems to have won the war, however. Leftists do now  occasionally mention the inverse correlation between lower social class and IQ.  Rather than say that low IQ causes poverty, however, they try to prove that poverty causes low IQ.  I dealt  with the latest such attempt a couple of weeks ago.

There was another attempt in that direction back in 2013 that I commented on at the time.  It claimed that poverty was very stressful and that the stress prevented your brain from working properly. I would have thought that middle-class careerists were under the greatest stress but let's leave that for the moment.  The title of the article was "Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function".  There is a journalistic rendering of the claim here.

I put the findings in context at the time, showing that the conclusions did not follow from the reported evidence.  I was not aware, however, that Jelte Wicherts also looked at the study around the same time.  Now that J.P. Rushton is deceased, Wicherts is probably the man who knows the research on IQ better than anyone else.  And he is fair.  If someone puts up a celebratory claim about IQ, Wicherts will look at that critically, and if someone puts up claims that disrespect IQ Wicherts will look at that critically too.  So I have a very favourable impression of Dr. Wicherts.

I have now come across his criticism of the 2013 study and it does not disappoint.  I reproduce the abstract below:

"Mani et al. (Research Articles, 30 August, p. 976) presented laboratory experiments that aimed to show that poverty-related worries impede cognitive functioning. A reanalysis without dichotomization of income fails to corroborate their findings and highlights spurious interactions between income and experimental manipulation due to ceiling effects caused by short and easy tests. This suggests that effects of financial worries are not limited to the poor"


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