Re: Post Office Quotient ... [WAS Re: A study comparing 150 IQ+ persons to 180 IQ+ persons]

From: Michael Anissimov (
Date: Thu Aug 24 2006 - 15:35:46 MDT


> I submit that with this measure you will be able to write a chart that
> does not differ substantially from the one you presented:

I submit that you are completely wrong on this. Rates of poverty,
jailings, dropouts, parentless children, income, welfare-recipiency,
etc. are not at all correlated with proximity to the post office. But
they are tightly correlated with g.

> IQ is a direct measure of intelligence-in-the-large. (And please do not
> go off on a red herring about the generality of g: those studies, no
> matter how comprehensive, are still subject to the criticism that they
> measure what CAN be measured, and have no relevance to components that
> cannot be measured).

So basically what you're saying is that no matter how comprehensive
the test, and how powerfully predictive the values are, any test will
tell us nothing. Ultimately, everything about reality can be
measured. That's the whole foundation of science. If God exists, we
will create instruments that can distinguish His influence from other

> What is distressing (and what illustrates my point about high-IQ people
> being just as guilty of closed-mindedness as anyone else) is that you, a
> person of supposedly high intelligence, are not addressing the issue I
> raised in the above to paragraphs: you seem to be evading it or denying
> it for ideological reasons.

You should blame stupidity or neglect before ideology. If I missed
your point, it's probably because it was not stated succintly enough,
and I missed it. But you are summarizing below clearly, thanks.
Person of supposedly high intelligence according to who? All I'm
doing is pointing to the data that Linda Gottfredson, a leading
researcher on IQ, has compiled. I'm merely being a conduit for
someone much older and more learned and expert in this area than I.

> 1) There is a difference between correlation and causation, and


> 2) There is a difference between a partial component of intelligence and
> the whole thing, and

Sure. But having a measure of a part that correlates tightly with
dozens of relevant variables is always nice.

> 3) If a thing can only be partially measured (i.e. only a component of
> it can be measured), that fact does not give anyone the licence to
> pretend that the measurable bit IS the entire thing.

I'm not saying it's the entire thing. I'm just saying that if some
variable has known predictive validity, we should use it.

> You are not alone in having this attitude, by the way: I have met
> psychometricians who have seriously said that because g is such a strong
> predictor of behavior, and because there exists such a single factor
> that can by a good predictor, therefore g is a measure of THE mechanism
> that is intelligence. I have said it to them and I will repeat it here:
> those folks are allowing their obsession with statistics and
> mathematics to trump science. They are not scientists.

G is a very interesting value which has been defined as what IQ tests
are supposed to measure. The term "intelligence" is somewhat
ill-defined, and as Michael Vassar mentioned, sometimes when you call
somewhat "smart" you actually mean "rich", so there is a lot of
ambiguity in these things. IQ, however, is much more precisely
defined. It doesn't really matter is g is "THE" mechanism of
intelligence or not, a strong predictor of behavior is a strong
predictor of behavior.

> thing to pin down, we know that it would be stupid to take high IQ to be
> the only measure of their potential ability.

I never said that IQ is the only measure we should consider for hiring
people for working towards the Singularity. You pulled that one out
of thin air. My initial post was on the difference between people of
IQ ~150 and IQ ~180, then it led to a discussion of the validity of g
and IQ tests in general. I've only been talking about the facts, not
what we should do because of them. The is, not the ought.

> And as for the idea that IQ per se (rather than intelligence in the
> large) is relevant to AGI: sure, it is as relevant as POQ. I suggest
> that after we build a candidate AGI we send it out into the world to get
> a job, and find a place to live, see where it ends up, and then measure
> its POQ. And, yes, that is a little facetious, but you get my point:
> concentrating on POQ or IQ now is putting the cart before the horse.

But your POQ idea is false. There is a reason why IQ is used by
thousands of organizations and POQ is not. The US army does not let
you join if your IQ is less than 80, for example. IQ is a very valid
concept, but here you seem to be saying that it's useless. It is
clearly very morally and politically charged, judging from all the
responses I got to calling it a valuable metric. This sociomoral
baggage around IQ impedes scientific study concerning it.

> *Intelligence* (and finding out what intelligence actually is, and how
> it works) is what we need to be concentrating on.

"Intelligence" is a subjective measure. IQ is objective and therefore
gives us more scientific substance to work with. I mainly think of
"intelligence" in terms of sequence prediction.

> [Lastly, an aside: I did not accuse you personally of being obsessed by
> IQ because yours is (presumably) high, I simply pointed out an
> observation I had made of a majority of the people who adulate high IQ].

I agree with this observation, but as I argued before, I excuse myself
from all fault with respect to it. :-)

Michael Anissimov
Lifeboat Foundation

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:57 MDT