Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Low IQ and the Curse of Africa

A scholar at the London School of Economics is taking heat for publishing research that says "African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries," writes the Guardian.

Of course we should question the point in opening the lid of this box again - it is not that many years ago that researchers at all good universities were measuring skulls to compare different races, such as caucassian and negro. But it is of course also appropriate to defend evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawas right to publish his research. It is academia, after all.

Kanazawas is concluding that "low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. His paper, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, compares IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries and claims that nations at the top of the ill health league also have the lowest intelligence ratings."

Leaving the obvious criticism aside, such as whether there are any reliable data to draw such conclusions from, I find two other questions far more interesting:

1. What effect does poverty have on intelligence over generations? In richer countries, researchers are now pointing to how low nutrition diets and in particular bad fats are directly affecting how brain cells are connecting to each other. Good food = many connections = fast working brain. Bad food = few connections = slow thinking.

2. Does IQ really matter? In other words, is it and adequate method for measuring intelligence?

The case of MENSA

Over the years, I´ve met plenty of people who consider themselves really smart and they are quick to point out their IQ levels which have qualified their membership in an obscure organization called MENSA (? I think) where other high-IQ scorers are meeting to tell each other how smart they are. The problem is, most of these people can´t tell their face from the ass. There are more wrongs coming out from their mouths than rights. That is of course only my observations. But to qualify it, I have also had the fortune to know some really smart people - and I mean really smart and capable - and I don´t think any of them would ever dream about making a test to prove their IQ to their peers; they would probably rather die than joining an organisation like MENSA.

Can we measure intelligence? Does it mean anything?

The Guardian Observer

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