Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Were the Victorians Cleverer Than Us?

The news that at least one scientific article claimed that there was a decline in general intelligence since 1889 looks like it will become one of those “facts” that's passed from one hereditarian conservative to another without coming in contact with reality. (It's already started.)

When you look at the actual article, you will notice that it's based on something correlated with IQ (namely reaction times) instead of problem solving. You will also notice that there wasn't a smooth change in reaction times but instead they were hopping up and down with a fast reaction-time outlier at the start. The variation was not much lessened by increasing sample size. I suspect that minor differences in experimental protocol had more of an effect than any change in general intelligence. (I've noticed that my reaction times, as measured by my scores on Inkball, are much slower at 3:00 AM than 3:00 PM.) I won't more than mention that reaction times are correlated with athletic success as well as academic success …


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