Genes and IQ

Richard E Nisbett, an important cognitive psychologist, has published a book on heredity and environmental contributions to intelligence, Intelligence and How to Get ItThe NY Times has a review of it that gives us a  useful, though partial, update on the state of the debate.

Nisbett emphasizes the importance of a cognitively rich environment for children, and the very unfortunate fact that it tends to be associated with other sorts of privilege, such as social and economic class.  Environment does seem to make a different to one’s IQ score, which in turn is also closely correlated with a different in future economic status.  This is the clear perpetuation of privilege.

The review also relays a vivid example  of the fact that even if differences among individuals were wholly hereditary, it does not follow that differences among groups must be:

 The classic example is corn seed planted on two plots of land, one with rich soil and the other with poor soil. Within each plot, differences in the height of the corn plants are completely genetic. Yet the average difference between the two plots is entirely environmental.

The Sunday cat prepares for the pacific apa

Yikes!  It’s that time of the year again.  The  Pacific  American Philosophical Association Conference is starting on April  8th.  And despite what has been rumored, there are some distinguished feminist philosophers speaking.  For example, Sally Haslanger and Jennifer Saul are together in a session on Saturday afternoon, while Cynthia Freeland is presenting on  Thursday afternoon.  And there are certainly other  feminists speaking.  Please read the program and come and join in.

Last year the Sunday Cat present a metaphor for the conference here.  This year we have another feline presentation, though it is just a bit ambiguous.  That is, it isn’t clear whether conference attendees should regard it as a warning or as advice about what to do.   Perhaps you can decide.