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Old 03-09-2010, 11:23 AM
David Shenk David Shenk is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3
Default Re: Beating Up A Straw Man


Here are a few relevant quotes:

"The irony is that as America equalizes the [environmental] circum-
stances of people’s lives, the remaining differences in intelligence are
increasingly determined by differences in genes.. . Putting it all to-
gether, success and failure in the American economy, and all that
goes with it, are increasingly a matter of the genes that people in-
- The Bell Curve, p. 91.

“It is a matter of ceilings . . . We can hope to raise [the grade of a boy with an IQ slightly below 100]. But teaching him more vocabulary words or drilling him on the parts of speech will
not open up new vistas for him. It is not within his power to follow an exposition written beyond a limited level of complexity. . . [Heis] not smart
- Murray, "Intelligence in the Classroom," SJ, Jan 16, 2007

“Even the best schools under the best conditions cannot repeal the lim-
its on achievement set by limits on intelligence,” Murray says bluntly.
- Murray, "Intelligence in the Classroom," SJ, Jan 16, 2007

“Universal college education cannot be. Most
people are not smart enough to profit from an authentic college education.” - Murray and Seligman, “As the Bell Curves”

Originally Posted by eric View Post
Murray and Hernstein's Bell Curve doesn't say some people "can't" learn algebra. They say some people won't become as proficient at the same rate. Some people with IQ's below 100 will become physicists, but people with IQs above 100 will be proportionately more likely to become physicists. Any statistical relation will have this property, that they are relevant to the sample more than the individual, because an individual can be totally contrary to the probabilities (otherwise, probabilities are always 0 or 1).

For example, if I get drunk and drive around town, but don't get in an accident, that doesn't mean the assertion 'drinking causes accidents' is not true, or not relevant to me. Most (all?) interesting assertions are true probabilistically, and because of the law of large numbers, are more relevant to groups than individuals.

Beating up on the platonic interpretation of correlation is a classic straw-man argument. You mights as well say, since some professional basketball players are short (Earl Borykins, 5 feet 6 inches), there is no relevance between height and basketball performance (though the average height is about 10 inches above the US average). If you want to criticize something, attack its best arguments, not its weakest.
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