As for Dr. te Nijenhuis and colleagues, they analyzed the results of 14 intelligence studies conducted between 1884 to 2004, including one by Sir Francis Galton, an English anthropologist and a cousin of Charles Darwin. Each study gauged participants’ so-called visual reaction times — how long it took them to press a button in response to seeing a stimulus. Reaction time reflects a person’s mental processing speed, and so is considered an indication of general intelligence.
…In the late 19th Century, visual reaction times averaged around 194 milliseconds, the analysis showed. In 2004 that time had grown to 275 milliseconds. Even though the machine gauging reaction time in the late 19th Century was less sophisticated than that used in recent years, Dr. te Nijenhuis told The Huffington Post that the old data is directly comparable to modern data.
There was not a link to the original study in a journal called Intelligence so I cannot tell what kind of modern version of the Hipp chronoscope ( they have an original pictured at the link)which they used to measure reaction times. I enjoyed the article. I rarely go over to HuffPo anymore because they run 26 scripts by my last count. When you visit there you connect to everything from FaceBook to YouTube to four or more statistical counters. Your visit is way of saying use me. Most sites have gotten that way, but HuffPo, Slate, Salon, all the major news sites, are especially egregious. Anyway, back to that article. Reaction times have been a very important part of psychological testing for over a century. In some circumstances they can give the researcher a baseline. Those with especially acute cognitive skills, either because of health or heredity, will have poor reaction times. Though there are a few problems with relying on some version of the Hipp chronoscope.
Persistent discrepancies in the reaction time experiments also led to modifications in theory. Cattell speculated that discrepancies may be a sign of two distinct types of reactions – motor and sensory. In other words, subjects had different reaction times, depending on how they focused their attention – on the motor aspect of the response, or the sensory aspect of the stimulus. Baldwin took Cattell’s idea one step further by proposing that reactions depended on distinct memory types. Many of the experiments that went into Baldwin’s theory of “Types of Reaction” were conducted at U of T.
Cattell, McK. J. and Dolley, C. (1894). On Reaction-Times and the Velocity of the Nervous Impulse, Psychological Review, vol. 1; 159-168.
Baldwin, James Mark (1895). Types of Reaction, Psychological Review, vol. 2; 259.
Baldwin, James Mark (1893). New Questions in Mental Chronometry, Medical Record; 455.
At least three factors are affecting reaction times; motor skills, sensory perception and memory type. Quite a few people who have been described as geniuses have not had exceptional short term memory. And how about that 275 milliseconds? How did they determine that was statistically significant? There are 1000 milliseconds in a second. To calibrate a machine to slow down that much takes skills. That could be a statistical error. It could be accounted for by the temperature of the room during experiments now and those done over a hundred years ago. It could be because of modern environmental factors like a higher concentration of carbon in the air. The experiments were had to be done after the subjects ate – breakfast, lunch. Meals vary quite a bit from a 100 years past.
Statistically they might be on to something with the correlation between fertility and intelligence. Though in the article linked to they note in the abstract that environmental factors like education and income play a role. So probably too early to say with absolute certainty that smart people don’t have children because they’re smart. Only that there are strong indicators that either intelligence or advanced education have an effect on fertility. Dr. te Nijenhuis, who thinks humanity is getting dumber says the Flynn Effect, that says we’re getting a little smarter, is due to environmental factors like education. The Flynn testing uses averages of a standardized IQ test. Which is probably a better way to measure intelligence. If we needed a base line to determine knowledge, analytical skills and basic cognitive reasoning. I feel more comfortable with them than a chronoscope of any era. While this blog post is relatively meaningless in determining what constitutes below average cognitive abilities, people are tested to determine their eligibility for medical treatment, for health benefits and to settle legal arguments involving estates and custody, etc. That said, IQ tests are probably not the last word on intelligence either, IQ tests are ‘fundamentally flawed’ and using them alone to measure intelligence is a ‘fallacy’, study finds.
Instead of a general measure of intelligence epitomised by the intelligence quotient (IQ), intellectual ability consists of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal agility. Although these interact with one another they are handled by three distinct nerve “circuits” in the brain, the scientists found.
“The results disprove once and for all the idea that a single measure of intelligence, such as IQ, is enough to capture all of the differences in cognitive ability that we see between people,” said Roger Highfield, director of external affairs at the Science Museum in London.
“Instead, several different circuits contribute to intelligence, each with its own unique capacity. A person may well be good in one of these areas, but they are just as likely to be bad in the other two,” said Dr Highfield, a co-author of the study published in the journal Neuron.
The research involved an on-line survey of more than 100,000 people from around the world who were asked to complete 12 mental tests for measuring different aspects of cognitive ability, such as memory, reasoning, attention and planning.
The researchers took a representative sample of 46,000 people and analysed how they performed. They found there were three distinct components to cognitive ability: short-term memory, reasoning and a verbal component.
Professor Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario in Canada said that the uptake for the tests was astonishing. The scientists expected a few hundred volunteers to spend the half hour it took to complete the on-line tests, but in the end they got thousands from every corner of the world, Professor Owen said.
The scientists found that no single component, or IQ, could explain all the variations revealed by the tests. The researcher then analysed the brain circuitry of 16 participants with a hospital MRI scanner and found that the three separate components corresponded to three distinct patterns of neural activity in the brain.
“It has always seemed to be odd that we like to call the human brain the most complex known object in the Universe, yet many of us are still prepared to accept that we can measure brain function by doing a few so-called IQ tests,” Dr Highfield said.
I was reading this essay in the NYT about The Big Bang TV series, I Love ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ And You Should, Too. Sheldon Cooper is a genius. You could safely build your space ship or particle accelerator based on his calculations, yet when it comes to life in general, he looks like an idiot compared to Penny – the supposedly dumb neighbor. With the exception of Leonard, all the nerds are irritating. They’re almost forced to be friends because most of the world can’t stand being around them for long. So that kind of intelligence doesn’t mean one is smart enough to change their life or make great decisions. In real life most scientists are not like cardboard cutouts of nerd stereotypes. I agree with this funny essay by M’s Walker on the feeling that many of us get. That either people are getting dumber or because there so many people there are just more dumb people. No science or statistics, just my sitting around the kitchen table theory. A certain percentage of the population has always been dull – whether it was the hills of China, the deserts of Egypt or the fjords of Northern Europe. Now there are more people on the planet than the sum total of people who have ever existed. So now the total number of knuckle draggers has reached historic proportions. With some vitamins and enough education, easy access to media, these less than bright folks can go out into the world – get elected to something, run powerful corporations and thus do a lot of damage. Including exploiting stupidity and making other people as dumb as they are. Making the total effect of their stupidity exponentially larger than their numbers.
New York at Night (Exchange Place from Broadway). Gelatin silver print, 1934. By Berenice Abbott. This is from a museum site that had a thumbnail of this photograph,
Abbott planned this shot meticulously. To achieve the desired effect, she calculated that it would be necessary to take the photograph on the shortest day of the year when the sky was sufficiently dark, but when New York city workers would still be in their offices with lights burning. The architecture is defined by the patterns of lighted windows representing the thousands of individuals creating the energy of the city.
In fact, the statements are not “incongruent” whatsoever. Holder’s comments to the Judiciary referred to the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information, but that is not the crime the Justice Department’s warrant accused Rosen of committing. DOJ investigators were concerned with Rosen’s solicitation of classified information, not any subsequent publication of it. Wired explained (emphasis added):
According to the affidavit (.pdf), FBI Agent Reginald Reyes told the judge there was probable cause to believe that Rosen had violated the Espionage Act by serving “as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the leak. The Espionage Act is the same law that former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is accused of violating when he leaked information to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks.
Holder or the DOJ got a warrant to trace and verify the source of the leak. Probably the responsible thing to do. Only in the over wrought imaginations of Fox News and Charles Krauthammer are getting a warrant and saying that he would not prosecute, like twins. Maybe it is just me, but being spied on as the result of a search warrant might bother me, but being served an arrest warrant for prosecution would have me claiming the walls. It could be because I know the difference, where as Fox and Chuck do not. OK, some of humanity is getting dumber and they seem to enjoy it.