Monday, 19 May 2014

A challenge to those who disagree that sRT speed and/or general intelligence has declined a lot over the past 150 years


Replicate Galton's sRT 183 ms group.

During 1884-93 Francis Galton found about 2,500 men with a median simple Reaction Time (sRT) of 183 milliseconds (ms).

The challenge is to find any population of 2500 modern people with a median reaction time of 183ms

This will, in itself, be difficult - I think.

But if this succeeds and we have 2,500 people median sRT of 183ms - then what is the average IQ of this sRT 183ms modern population?

Or if IQ data is not available - what is this sRT 183ms 2,500 population's characteristics in terms of reasonable IQ proxies such as examination results, educational attainment, or even occupational class?


(According to Silverman, other authors contemporary with Galton reported average sRTs between 151ms and 200ms - so instead of 183ms average, perhaps 200ms would be an acceptable replicate? And maybe n = 900, or even n = 200 would suffice? So - even 200 modern men with a media sRT of 200ms would be of considerable interest.)



Anonymous said...

It is easy to do. The only thing needed is a very simple program, and people can test themselves and report results on Internet. People in general like testing themselves, esp if it is easy to do.

When you have a self-reported group, you can contact them for testing under controlled conditions.

Robert said...

How fast would a man's reaction time have to be to pluck a fly out of the air between two fingers? Is that ability common? Sherlock Holmes could do that.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Robert - It is best to stick to simple reaction time situations (e.g. see light - press button) - since grabbing a fly involves excellent visual acuity, fast muscle action, arm and hand coordination, prediction of movement as a of of other abilities as well as reaction time.

But I have no doubt that pluckng a fly from the air is a sign of extremely high intelligence since I used to do it! Another of my tricks was to catch a ten pound note when dropped between my fingers (staring with the end of the note level with the fingers - and the note concertinaed so it falls straighter)

- not many people can do it, especially not many children who can be driven cruelly mad if you offer them to keep the note if they catch it three times in a row (don't try this at home...).

Probably a crude but reasonable measure of comparative (not absolute) sRT would be catching a 12 inch ruler dropped in this fashion and seeing at how many inches the fingers catch it.

Obviously, the person dropping the ruler must not show by any advance sign that they are going to drop it.