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Friday, December 31. 2021
(They also seem to be a pretty good proxy for IQ, but of course not always. If raised illiterate in the Guatemala jungle, speaking only Mam, probably not.)
I do not know to what extent various talents of interest correlate with IQ. I'd be interested, because some people have areas of extraordinary talent, and areas with none so an LA higher ed might not be right for them.
Still, in an America in which some are obsessed with racial measures, the SATs, statistically, seem to favor Asians first, Ashkenazi Jews second, non-Jewish Europeans third, and American Blacks and Hispanics last.
Regardless of that, I feel it makes sense to try to discern what kids are prepared for a rigorous plan for advanced education. Admittedly, much of higher ed these days is an industry seeking customers, but that is another topic.
Via Bari Weiss' selections, You Aren't Actually Mad at the SATs - you're mad at what they reveal.
I want to add that many of the best people I have known would have been terrible with SATs, and could never have done college physics or ever aspired to read the Iliad in Greek.
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I'm grateful for all those High IQ fellows who translated the Iliad into English.
Some people even though very intelligent are lousy test takers. Have the knowledge and prove it throughout their lives but didn't score particularly high on the SAT.
The SAT is basically a test of what you learned from a list of things you would have been taught in a good school AND things you would have had to learn by extra reading and study. The reason it in general favors certain groups like Asians, Ashkenazi Jews, etc. is simply and entirely because their families place a high value on education and require their children to learn and study even past the school curriculum.
There is an anomaly in this which you can consistently discover if you work with or hang out with Asians and Jews and that is while they appear to be geniuses (or very smart, whatever description you prefer) many of them only know that which they were taught and studied and even then often don't know how to apply what they know.
One example I have seen consistently is in IT. A field that may soon be dominated by Asians. But most of the Asian IT people are learned "average" intelligence workers. They generally work in teams and they work harder and longer than the other people in IT. As a team they depend upon the team knowledge to do the job. Don't get me wrong, it works. It might take a dozen of them months of 80 hour weeks to finish a specific project but it will get done. Afterwards no single team member will understand/know the finished product but as a team they will. If you give one of them a difficult task to do they will immediately go ask one of their team members for help to do it and between the two (or sometimes more) of them they will get it done.
You see this in college as well. They will all have the same answers to assignments and they will often... Can I say 'cheat' on tests. They rarely are able to work alone or simply jump in and solve a problem in minutes. They aren't stupid; they are average or above. The geniuses are in a different field; physics, medicine, etc.
It is what it is.
No, this is the opposite of the truth. The SAT is not an achievement or a how-much-education test. It is an ability test, which has been demonstrated in both comparative testing and real-life outcomes so many times over the decades that it is not worth even citing. People hang on to this idea and repeat it often enough in the hearing of people who like it that it hangs on some more. I have to conclude it is one of those myths that won't die for something like religious reasons of faith.
Executive functioning is an even better predictor of later success. Unfortunately for those who wish otherwise, it is even more heritable. IQ/SAT correlates with staying out of prison, getting more years of education, higher income, and other measurables well enough to be a useful thing to take into consideration. But it does not have perfect correlation for simple reasons. First, there are some fields where it matters very little, some where it matters a moderate amount, and some where it matters a lot. Just is. Second, all fields of endeavor rely on an array of abilities, not just one. No matter how high your IQ is, you will eventually need to bring something else to the table. Again, just is.
I cannot tell if you are joking or simply have no clue.
From the SAT site: "The test is administered by the College Board. It measures your skills on topics you learned in high school and concepts that you need to understand to do well in college."
This sounds a lot like "The SAT is basically a test of what you learned from a list of things you would have been taught..."
Then there is this example from The SAT critical reading section:
"The reading test follows this format:
One passage based on classic or modern texts or world literature
Two science-based passages that cover essential discoveries and theories in biology, chemistry, Earth science, or physics.
One passage on social studies topics, including economics and psychology
One passage from a United States founding document, like the Bill of Rights, or a famous global event, like a speech from Mary Wollstonecraft or Frederick Douglass"
Does this sound like "an ability test" as you claim or more like "a test of what you learned" as I said?
So your hypothesis is that doing well on the SAT is largely the result of nature. Good scores are not strongly influenced by the amount of time one spends on education and study.
For readers, could you describe a compelling disproof of this hypothesis?
I have asked the same of OneGuy.
I am sorry to be rude about this. It is not your fault that I have had to repeat these facts so many times over the years. Really, you probably have just never been exposed to the well-established research and reasoning, and I should not be treating you as someone I have had to explain this to over and over. That would be MF in general, not you personally. But please, read up on this subject before you make pronouncements. IQ is only one color on the palette, but it is rock-solid and easily measurable.
If we were going to start from scratch and make up our our IQ tests, we would sit around a table and brainstorm that there were certain things that looked like they are related to general intelligence, like memory, general knowledge, common vocabulary at increasing levels, common-sense reasoning, visualising objects in our minds to imagine what could be done, basic computation at increasing difficulty, attentiveness, reading comprehension, etc. Then we would make up tests and go out and find a thousand people to take them. And what we would come up with is an identical result to an IQ test. Then we would compare that to SAT/ACT scores and find exactly the same thing. It's not a question of "being a good test taker" or any of that. You can buy or lose a few points there, and extreme anxiety versus calm confidence might likewise be a few points plus or minus. But only the extremes noted in the OP, of not having any idea what a test is, or what a pencil and paper are for, seriously depress the scores. And even those can be worked around in a limited way
Assistant Village Idiot: The SAT is not an achievement or a how-much-education test. It is an ability test, which has been demonstrated in both comparative testing and real-life outcomes so many times over the decades that it is not worth even citing.
People can improve their scores through effort and instruction, so the SAT doesn't measure innate ability.
So your hypothesis is that doing well on the SAT is largely the result of nurture. Spend sufficient time on education and study and one tends to achieve good scores.
For readers, could you describe a compelling disproof of this hypothesis?
I will ask the same of The village Idiot.
OldDude: So your hypothesis is that doing well on the SAT is largely the result of nurture.
No. Doing well on the SAT is a combination of nature and nurture. The latter is supported by the fact that people can improve their SAT scores through learning and training for the test. The former is supported by the fact that there is a limit to the effect of learning and training for the test.
Surely, some people learn the sorts of knowledge tested by the SAT faster and more surely than others. Just as surely, some people grow up in environments more conducive to learning those sorts of knowledge. And some people may have a strong innate ability to learn, but have personalities that are not conducive to learning those sorts of knowledge.
This is what you MUST say if you refuse to recognize that an entire race of people have an average IQ 20 points below every other race on the planet.
Imagine instead that we acknowledged this simple and provable fact and adjusted the education to help people in that race. But, NO! Instead we will continue to blame it on whitey, white privilege and discrimination and if the playing field were just level (which really means tipped in their favor) then we would magically have equality or something. The net result of that policy will not lift up that race that truly needs help. It will only exacerbate the problem necessitating more punishment of successful people. I am beginning to believe that was the goal all along and any form of actual "equality" was never what you were after.
OMG: This is what you MUST say if you refuse to recognize that an entire race of people have an average IQ 20 points below every other race on the planet.
The Flynn Effect shows that IQ is not a completely valid means of determining innate intelligence. That is not the same as saying there is no such thing as innate intelligence, but it is likely that multivariate abilities comprise intelligence.
Problem is that while SAT and similar exams in other countries are good in principle, in practice many schools teach test taking rather than actual skills.
So the children learn how to answer the type of questions that appear on the standardised tests, rather than the skills actually supposed to be tested.
This is btw not limited at all to high school exams, it happens at just about every level except most college exams. It is especially prevalent in professional certification exams where entire industries have sprung up providing "jump starts" and "exam training" sessions where explicitly solely test taking skills for the exam in question are taught.
You are conflating tests that measure general aptitude with tests that measure *skills mastery*. "Teaching to the test" is exactly what you do when teaching a skill. You don't have someone attempt to shoot three-pointers to see if you successfully taught them to shoot free-throws.
Read AVI's comment 4.1
Tests are tools. The problem with NCLB and similar schemes is not the testing but the assumption that a 'special sauce' can be devised to get students who underperform on the test onto an ever-rising escalator of proficiency. This is essentially the mirror image of the claim that underperformance can be attributed to systemic racism. Teachers legitimately hate the testing because the evaluation of the scores makes them accountable for things they can't control.
Despite what Z will contend, a SAT prep course will really only help avoid a dumb mistake or give sufficient practice to provide the difference that (used to) mean getting into Harvard or Stanford instead having to attend Ohio State or UCLA. It is not going to raise a baseline 1000 to a 1600. The same can be said of any certification prep course. Doing reviews and practice exams will not enable a rookie to ace the test, though it might mean a mediocre performer would be able to clear the bar.
Christopher B: Despite what Z will contend, a SAT prep course will really only help avoid a dumb mistake or give sufficient practice to provide the difference that (used to) mean getting into Harvard or Stanford instead having to attend Ohio State or UCLA.
Test preparation can improve scores, which shows that the SAT measures something other than innate ability. The fact is that someone who studies hard in a good school for four years will do significantly better on the SATs than someone with similar ability who does not study hard for whatever reason.
The ability to accumulate knowledge is certainly affected by innate ability; however, the SATs don't measure innate ability, but the accumulation of expected knowledge, the lack of which can be due to any number of causes (e.g. unstable home life, poor school, broken heart).
Has anyone else noticed that colleges started dropping test requirements for college admissions about the same time as the demographic drop in young college aged people? Maybe I am a cynic (OK, I definitely am a cynic) but trying to get more butts in the seats of the local colleges and universities looks like a good reason to drop test requirements. And if the unprepared students drop out partway through, or graduate with some worthless degree, well the college doesn't care. After all, they got their tuition money.
I despise these reductive apologia for the backward forms of humanity around the world.
Civilization might be based on cosmic luck, but it has nothing to give back to those who did nothing to create it. They aren't ready for it. Open a newspaper if they have one where you're still allowed to live.
It still holds true that society has to have some way of establishing merit, or arranging a hierarchy of cohorts of people that have higher ability, are more talented at a given skill, or have unique abilities that others don't have. To demolish the idea of ordering and organizing along traits, strengths, weaknesses is to guarantee mediocrity at best, and to assure that innovation and creative energy are hindered.
For all the people that are advising that we shouldn't test people to decide college admissions, or to measure intelligence and rate excellence and other such lunacies: I want their medical care needs to be managed by the product of these brave new concepts - no exceptions, paying particular care to the elderly members of Congress that espouse them.
The incentive of schooling is to get good grades. The get good grades you have to be good at taking tests (See Paul Graham's Dec 2019 essay, 'The Lesson to Unlearn). The SATs test how good you are at taking tests and, let's be fair, if you been exposed to rigorous testing and a body of knowledge.
These are things you need, especially at the elite status schools, where they set a fast pace to maintain their imprimatur. They attract those seeking status, but also those who have the brains to learn at such a fast pace.
As Thomas Sowell observed, the 'elite' schools lower standards for blacks and other minorities to maintain their illusion of diversity. They recruit top minority students who would do well at a slower paced school, but fall behind since they don't have the twenty years of conditioning the student from better k-12 schooling and who've been focused on getting into Harvard and Yale from kindergarten. Sadly, bright students are damaged by being held to the pace of poor school. Poor either due to the student body socialization or due to classroom disruptions from poor discipline.
If we want to change things, we should come to view the SAT as little more than a measure of how good the student was at meeting the incentives to get good grades. And a smattering of the game show knowledge they picked up in that pursuit.
But not doing well in school, doesn't necessarily mean you are dumb or even low IQ. It means you are bad at conforming and bad at gaming the tests/teachers.