Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Regression to the mean and IQ

People say that the offspring of high IQ individuals will regress to the mean (average) of their 'population' - and they calculate this as if it were a mathematical law...

But intelligence is a measure of a biological variable, and 'regression towards the mean' happens, if-and-when it does, for biological reasons - it is not a mathematical law.

When a high IQ individual is a descendant of high IQ parents, grandparents etc - there is no regression to the mean.

(Except for the trivial reason that test-takers who score highly because they 'have a good day' will re-test at lower scores. This can be somewhat dealt with by having several measurements of IQ - although this also increases the chance of 'having a bad day' maybe from non-random illness, and falsely dragging down the average. In practice there is no substitute for high quality data and increased numbers/ averageing does not help. This means excluding from the data any people who are suffering from acute, test-score suppressing illness or any other systematic cause for false measurement. In biology; smaller higher quality studies are always better than larger, poorer quality studies.)

In other words, to the extent that a high IQ individual comes from a genetically-relatively-intelligence-inbreeding caste or class; there is no regression to the mean.

And, in fact this is a very common situation - at least to the extent that regression to the mean is insignificant in amongst other factors. 

The point to hold in mind is that no variation/ distribution is really random; randomness is just an assumption, a model, which may be expedient for specific purposes - but is not a general truth; indeed randomness is usually a false model when it comes to biology.

In sum, human behaviour and ability cannot be explained by mathematical rules - at most such rules summarise a specific data set - which must then be evaluated in terms of scientific quality. We cannot explain unless or until we know something of causes. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Creativity as a Polarity of Order and Chaos

From the primary forces of Order and Chaos there can be no real creativity - not from either individually (Order leading to crystalline stasis; Chaos to a Brownian motion of homogeneous disorder).

But while Order and Chaos are indeed distinguishable polar opposites of Creativity; it can be seen that Creativity is more than any possible combination or alternation of Order and Chaos. Creation uses both Order and Chaos to create.

But Creation is itself something more than can be captured by Order and Chaos - creation is an uncaused cause, a primary purpose.

Creation (as it were) stands-behind Order and Chaos, directing them in the process of creating towards the goals of creation.


There is an analogy (and a fundamental identity) with the limited explanatory power of the process of evolution by Natural Selection. Natural Selection can Preserve, and it can Destroy, but not Create.

Natural Selection operates by Preservation of functionality - sieving-out the deleterious consequences of undirected genetic change (Chaos) - i.e. mutation-selection balance, or balancing selection. And it produces adaptations by Preservation of the rare reproductively advantageous mutations thrown-up (un-intentionally) by Chaotic forces leading-to mutation.

But this is not Creation - it takes for granted that Creation has already-happened.


A further example is in the Natural Selection based models of Creativity itself - such as those of HJ Eysenck or Dean Simonton in their discussions of genius. They regard the creative process as an undirected ('random') generation of ideas (perhaps produced, as in Eysenck, by partial brain/ mind pathology - by loose associations characteristic of psychotic/ dreamlike thinking)...

So Chaotic 'free association' (supposedly) produces multiple ideas, from-which a process of Preservation (such as the analytic and rational processes of high general intelligence, or practical implementation and observation of consequences) then selects the minority of ideas that are useful/ 'true'.

But, a closer metaphysical examination of these assumptions reveals that this is not a genuine creative process (unless we have already decided, as an assumption, that it is the only possible explanation) because it rules-out the purposive nature of creation, which is intrinsic to the concept.

(Modern Biology indeed rules-out 'teleology' as a basic assumption.)

In particular, to explain genius creativity with only natural selection makes it an undirected, 'random', motiveless, inhuman procedure - and it also makes the evaluation of genius into an analogously 'random' process.

Since the selection process is necessarily imprecise, and indeed merely selects the best-reproducing idea in particular circumstances over a finite timescale; there is no valid means of knowing which concepts are right and which are wrong - a different answer will emerge in each different situation; and an answer that seemed correct for hundreds of years (Aristotelian Physics, Newtonian Physics) is always liable to revision or rejection (Einsteinian Physics/ quantum theory).

In the end, creativity and genius has been re-conceptualised away - it is just absorbed into the account of ongoing Natural Selection of everything, all the time.


To conclude; the reality is Creation, and Preservation/ Order and Destruction/ Chaos are merely some of its components. To quite Owen Barfield, they can be distinguished but not divided; and if they are divided - if they are treated as separable - this will be false.

(Unless, that is, we have a priori made the metaphysical assumption that it must be true; whatever the consequences.)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

5 years since Woodley and I announced the first objective evidence of a rapid and severe decline of intelligence since the Victorian era

It was just over 5 years ago on this blog that Michael A Woodley and I published the discovery of a rapid and severe slowing of simple reaction times over the past century-plus; and the interpretation that this implied an equally precipitous decline in general intelligence ('g') which has been missed by IQ testing.

On my part, this led to a multitude of blog posts:

And the whole story was rounded-up in a book co-authored with Edward Dutton

On Michael's side, it led to a series of papers (one of which I co-authored) which - using multiple methods and measurements - are overall consistent with the proposed decline; and can be taken as confirmation of the thesis of that original blog post from Feb 28 2012.

The story of 'The Woodley Effect' was summarised recently on James Thomson's blog:

So, a lot has happened in half a decade - which is not a long time in science!