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Psychologists and Women Don't Have the Brains to Study Intelligence

© Peter Zohrab 2010-2017

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As is well-known, the academic field of psychology has its historical origins in philosophy.  There is more than one aspect of modern psychology which makes me think that, when the split between philosophy and psychology occurred, the people with the analytical skills stayed in the field of philosophy, and the tradition of conceptual analysis was lost to psychology.  I discuss one of these aspects below: the issue of intelligence

(My first encounter with a psychologists was also not an encouraging one.  The first time I joined Mensa, I had to sit two IQ tests -- the first one at home and the second one in a university psychology department.  Both scores were high enough to join, but the one I had done at home produced a higher score than the one I did under the Mensa psychologist's supervision.  I was not impressed when he said that I must have cheated in the test I had done at home -- both because I knew I hadn't cheated, and also because it was clear to me that, prima facie, there must surely be several possible explanations for such discrepancies!)

Having come across the website Human Intelligence, I noted that its most controversial content seemed to be limited to the issue of race and intelligence.  The issue of sex and intelligence was totally absent.  So, with the encouragement of Jonathan Plucker, I prepared something that could be used to start a section on this topic.

I present below my contribution, together with comments from an anonymous female reviewer, and my comments on her comments.  First, however, I present Jonathan Plucker's final email on my contribution:


PZ: There is no doubt that Jonathan Plucker is endorsing the verdict of the (apparently female) anonymous reviewer.  Therefore, the negative comments I make (below) about her review must reflect on him, as well.  He even says that the reviewer "gave it a careful read", when, in fact, her comments totally ignore all the substantive, as opposed to introductory, points which I made.  Either Plucker is no more competent than she is, or the politics involved are such that he was forced to pass my contribution to her for review, and that he is not in a position to override her verdict.  I have written elsewhere on the power and control which female academics exert over male academics.

PZ:  If the above comment had been made in good faith, it would have been followed by a suggestion as to what other views should be included -- giving me an opportunity to include them.  In fact, as other comments make clear, this woman is only interested in finding grounds to reject my contribution.

PZ:  A good, but minor, point.  I am a bit lazy with style-sheets, because of having had to cope first with Linguistics styles, then with Legal styles, and later with Psychology styles.  It seems ludicrous to me that these fields can't all use the same styles, or refrain from policing styles altogether.  However, the styles could easily have been tidied up later.

PZ: Again, this is not a constructive criticism.  Dictionary compilers are professionals in the field of distilling the meanings of words in ordinary usage, and the Oxford range of dictionaries is the standard for one large section of the English-speaking world.  If this woman had wanted to be constructive, she could have given some examples of what alternatives she was referring to.

PZ:  This is a ludicrous question.  The fact is self-evident.


PZ:  Here the woman betrays the fact that she just has not understood my point.  Only an idiot could think that Psychologists can redefine the ordinary English word "intelligence" as they see fit.  If they redefine it, then what they are measuring is not the same thing as other people expect them to be measuring.  The educated way to use words is to use them consistently, and in the same way as your audience does, so that you appear to the audience to mean the same thing as you actually do mean.  If you randomly change the meanings of the word you use, you just cause confusion and misunderstanding.

For example, the British television quiz game "The Chase" features at least one expert at general knowledge (Mark Labbett) who considers that having extensive general knowledge is a sign of "intelligence". If "intelligence" tests test general knowledge (as I recall that some of them used to do), then they are testing "intelligence", as Mark Labbett uses the term. However, my understanding is that Psychologists have decided that testing general knowledge is culture-specific, so they have formulated modern "intelligence" tests which do not test general knowledge. Since they no longer test general knowledge, modern "intelligence" tests no longer test the same "intelligence" that was tested by earlier tests. So either earlier tests tested "intelligence" or modern tests test "intelligence" -- they can't both test "intelligence" to the same extent!

Psychologists can, and do, devise various tests, but it is not up to them to devise a test and then to declare authoritatively that what that test tests is "intelligence". In any given "culture", it seems reasonable to assume that person A is more "intelligent" than person B if person A has more general knowledge than person B. The fact that societies typically contain more than one culture has caused Psychologists to exclude general knowledge from "intelligence" tests. That may or may not have been a good decision, but it does mean that modern "intelligence" tests no longer tests "intelligence" as well as older tests did. The same applies if Psychologists have been systematically excluding items that women tended to answer less well than men did.


(PZ: See my comments above).

PZ: She asks, "Why?" when my very next sentence goes on to answer her question.  She has clearly not taken the time to read my proposal carefully.  And then Plucker hypocritically says that she has given my contribution a "careful read"!

PZ: The woman fails to comment on any of the substantive evidence (sections 1, 2, & 3) which I refer to.


Hall, Geoffrey B. C.; Witelson, Sandra F.; Szechtman, Henry; Nahmias, Claude, Sex differences in functional activation patterns revealed by increased emotion processing demands. Neuroreport: 9 February 2004 - Volume 15 - Issue 2 - pp 219-223

5. Hall, Geoffrey B. C.; Witelson, Sandra F.; Szechtman, Henry; Nahmias, Claude, Sex differences in functional activation patterns revealed by increased emotion processing demands.  Neuroreport: 9 February 2004 - Volume 15 - Issue 2 - pp 219-223

PZ: I have no objection to reading "The Mismeasure of Man", but Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mismeasure_of_Man makes it clear that it is essentially a liberal and political polemic, rather than a directly relevant piece of work. 

It is ludicrously arrogant of this woman to suggest that I take a different "starting place" (i.e. the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth) -- given that she has totally failed to comment on any of my three substantive "starting places."  I certainly would have had no objection to reviewing that area as well, but she has given no evidence to support her implication that I should just ignore my existing "starting places".

It seems likely that the Human Intelligence website has absolutely no intention of exploring the issue of Sex and Intelligence, because the Feminists involved in running that website are aware that the conclusions resulting from such a discussion might be inimical to their political objectives. 

There is also the issue of the definition of the word "intelligence", on which the website implicitly takes a stance which my contribution attacks.  That was always going to make the acceptance of my contribution problematic -- but my aim in life has never been to kowtow to academics in order to receive the benefits which they can bestow as a reward for subservience!


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Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

10 November 2019