Cheer up! Your IQ test scores might get better over time

If you’re intelligent enough to read this blog post (or any of my other stuff, for that matter), you’re probably also intelligent enough to improve your scores on IQ tests. The explanation is HERE: We’re getting more stupid. That’s one point made in a recent article in the New Scientist, reporting on a gradual decline in IQs in developed countries such as the UK, Australia and the Netherlands. Such research feeds into a long-held fascination with testing human intelligence. Yet such debates are too focused on IQ as a life-long trait that can’t be changed. Other research is beginning to show the opposite. The concept of testing intelligence was first successfully devised by French psychologists in the early 1900s to help describe differences in how well and quickly children learn at school. But it is now frequently used to explain that difference – that we all have a fixed and inherent level of intelligence that limits how fast we can learn. Defined loosely, intelligence refers to our ability to learn quickly and adapt to new situations. IQ tests measure our vocabulary, our ability to problem-solve, reason logically and so on. But what many people fail to understand is that if IQ tests measured only our skills at these particular tasks, no one would be interested in our score. The score is interesting only because it is thought to be fixed for...

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Debunking the Republican claim that Obama skips a lot of his daily intelligence briefings

Republican right-wingers have long been devoted to spreading the notion that the shiftless black guy in the White House hardly ever works very hard. (Typical of his kind, right?) They’ve peddled the falsehood that he takes more vacations than his GOP predecessors and that he’s too often involved in recreation rather than minding the store. The latest variation on this theme is the bogus claim that he often ignores input from the government’s intelligence officials. Dana Milbank said the other day that it’s all part of the Republican strategy of “throwing the kitchen sink” at Obama. “But the problem with throwing the kitchen sink,” Milbank added,  “is you might break a pipe — and then you’ve got a real mess.” He cited the myth about intelligence reports as an EXAMPLE: [T]he Republican National Committee and prominent Republicans such as Dick Cheney and John McCain threw another faulty bit of plumbing at Obama: that the president “does not attend his daily intelligence meeting” more than half the time, in contrast to George W. Bush, who “almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.” This claim was the work of former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, who writes a weekly online column for The Washington Post. In reality, Obama didn’t “attend” these meetings, because there were no meetings to attend: The oral briefings had been mostly replaced by daily exchanges in which Obama reads the materials and poses written questions and comments to intelligence officials. This is how it was done in the Clinton administration, before Bush decided he would prefer to read less. Bush’s results — Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and the failure to find Osama bin Laden — suggest this was not an obvious improvement....

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Study: People with low IQs tend to be racists and social conservatives

Batten down the hatches, good people, because you’re going to hear a lot of outrageous distortions about THIS: There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy. The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience. Notice, please, that the guy did not say all social conservatives are stupid racists. But one of our favorite right-wing nitwits, Jim Hoft (above) of Gateway Pundit, thinks he did, as we see in the headline on THIS POST. This is the same Jim Hoft whose stupidity was featured HERE about a year ago. Is Jim Hoft also a racist? I’ll plead agnosticism on that question, but THIS GUY says Hoft’s Web site frequently promotes racism.        ...

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