What’s in a name?

I came across a choice quote in David Weigel’s pretty decent Richwine piece, The IQ Test

Borjas’ own work on immigration and inequality has led to a few two-minutes-hate moments in the press. He wasn’t entirely convinced by Richwine, either.

“I have never worked on anything even remotely related to IQ, so don’t really know what to think about the relation between IQ, immigration, etc,” Borjas told me in an email. “In fact, as I know I told Jason early on since I’ve long believed this, I don’t find the IQ academic work all that interesting. Economic outcomes and IQ are only weakly related, and IQ only measures one kind of ability. I’ve been lucky to have met many high-IQ people in academia who are total losers, and many smart, but not super-smart people, who are incredibly successful because of persistence, motivation, etc. So I just think that, on the whole, the focus on IQ is a bit misguided.”

It struck me because I vaguely recalled borrowing IQ data from a Borjas paper on US migration. But then I rechecked the study and noticed that I was wrong. Borjas et al. used a measure skill, the NLSY 79’s AFQT, not anything remotely related to IQ. (Unlike “IQ”, this skill measure showed a strong to moderate positive relationship with outcomes (e.g., education and wage, respectively).)

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4 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Kiwiguy says:

    Haha. Euphemism is apparently necessary to avoid triggering the firestorms of controversy that dealt to Richwine. If he’d referred to human capital, or something similarly woolly he might have been spared.

  2. bob sykes says:

    The AFQT and the Wechsler have a correlation coefficient of 0.8, so it is hard to see how one can be a useful predictor and the other.

    The comment about IQ not being a good predictor of faculty performance is a product of range compression: all faculty have high IQs, and differences among them are due to other factors. Similarly, Harvard faculty are convinced that SAT doesn’t matter because among students all of whom have SATs near the maximum it doesn’t. Throw some low IQ kids into the mix and see what happens.

  3. Kiwiguy says:

    btw. I agree the Wiegel piece is pretty good, the most thoughtful and well researched MSM column I’ve seen on the matter.

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