This is essentially an IQ test, and what they discovered is that Gwen was highly intelligent. They then did the smart thing and judged her based on her demonstrated aptitude rather than on the prevailing prejudices of the day. Indeed, there was an obvious financial incentive to do so, which serves to remind us that unfounded prejudice is unstable in a competitive market for labor.
Nowadays, it is effectively illegal in the U.S. to give IQ tests to job applicants, and in the state of California it is illegal to give a black child an IQ test even when administered by a school psychologist as part of a professional assessment. To their proponents, such laws are mere "progress", but stories like Gwen's show how misguided these rules can be. When there is a clear incentive to discover the truth, objective assessments undermine prejudice rather than promoting it. It's a lesson we would do well to remember.
Actually, if you read the whole thing, they didn't believe her "demonstrated aptitude" because of their "prevailing prejedices". She had to fight to get them to see her demonstrated aptitude. Many people would be tired of fighting and would have given up then (or earlier in the process). If the applicant was in the privileged position, they would not have had to fight.
it is illegal in the U.S. to give IQ tests to job applicants
That's because in the past, the IQ tests were not fair, objective and colour-blind, but were set up in such a way as to bias against poorer people (which will be mostly black in the USA). This is easy to do with IQ tests, just ask lots of questions that require good schooling and education (e.g. word questions).
Companies used to use IQ tests, and hence claim not be racist, and then be racist. The ban on IQ tests in job interviews stems from this US Supreme Court case http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griggs_v._Duke_Power_Company and has hence probably improved equality.
This isn't true at all. They haven't been shown to be biased, merely that blacks score lower. Extensive research has show that IQ tests have equal predictive power for blacks and whites. "Disparate impact" merely means that blacks score lower, not that the tests are biased.
> This is easy to do with IQ tests, just ask lots of questions that require good schooling and education (e.g. word questions).
The black-white gap is as large or larger on tasks that require very little education, e.g. "reverse digit span", which merely requires that you repeat a sequence of numbers in the reverse order from the direction you heard it.
> and has hence probably improved equality.
I've never understood why eliminating one of the few objective measures and making the hiring process entirely subjective was an improvement.
When I think about that question, I think about questions that would be harder for me (white caucasian) than somebody from another "race" or culture. That is easy: for example imagine selecting some kind of image puzzles involving kanjii symbols, or telling apart chinese faces. They are just images, right, so no bias? But it will be much more easy to tell them apart for somebody with a chinese background than for me.
If such questions exists that are biased against me, it seems at least very plausible that other questions could be biased against other "races" and cultures.
Another example I read about is how different cultures see the drawing of a box (a 3d wireframe). Apparently in western cultures people would see it as a drawing of a 3d box, whereas some poor test takers in Africa just saw a 2d drawing. This was then interpreted as Africans being less intelligent, when really they were just as correct as the people who saw the 3d shape. It just wasn't such a common meme where they lived to draw 3d shapes like that.
1. how many seconds did it take you to think up this refutation of IQ tests?
2. how many psychologist/psychometrician man-years do you estimate go into developing any particular IQ test like the RAPM or BOMAT?
3. what probability do you give that psychometricians have not also thought of your objection?
4. conditional on their thinking of it, what probability do you give that they have done nothing to cope with it?
5. how many seconds would it take you in Google or Wikipedia to find the real answers to 3 & 4?
6. how many seconds did it take you to write your comment?
Over the years I have read a lot of articles on the subject - as did many others, I guess, it is a popular subject after all.
I'd say it took me more than a few seconds to come up with my example.
First of all, the thing with the 2d vs 3d drawing was an actual real world example that I read about. So clearly there are some psychologists/psychometrians who were wrong about the interpretation of their tests.
As for 5: if it only takes a few seconds to find those answers, why don't you do it and give the answers to us?
Edit: I just tried googling "RAPM cultural bias" and didn't get any useful results. You really should provide the links. Of course your tone makes it likely that discussing with you is probably a waste of time anyway :-/
Not really. I ask these questions because I've noticed that astonishingly often, people online will write a definitive refutation of some scientific position or new study, which took them only a few seconds to think of and which is wrong; but why do they do this?
I can think of many possibilities, and I'm never sure what it is: do they think so poorly of the scientists conducting the study (anti-intellectualism)? do they think so highly of their own thoughts (Dunning-Krueger)? are they too stupid to realize any of this (low IQ)? are they too lazy to look up the answers in Wikipedia or Google Scholar? or is it a cynical ploy for getting upvoted comments where they count on their fellows not being knowledgeable enough to call them on it?
Hence, I ask questions to try to isolate what might be the issue and incidentally point out to the more reflective readers why comments like yours are fundamentally bad ideas.
Sometimes the spectacle is just horrifying; on a mailing list with a fairly high level of discussion of cutting-edge research on working memory and dual n-back, someone posted proudly about how they thought IQ tests were biased against Africans, and though I point out that this was obvious to him and me, even more obvious to psychometricians, he never once looked up how the tests might have been defended against or corrected for cultural biases, despite me sometimes explicitly naming the names he could punch into Google or Wikipedia.
I am still waiting for your refutations. But honestly, your initial assumption that every internet commenter is wrong will make it difficult for you to communicate or learn stuff.
Frankly, I fail to see how pointing out possible flaws in a theory can ever be "a bad idea". In my opinion to doubt everything should be the default stance of a scientist.
You mentioned RAPM, I looked it up and it says it was invented 1934 in an attempt to avoid cultural biases - therefore it uses more graphical elements than language. My examples show that even graphical elements can have a cultural bias. So while it is a nice attempt, you can not be sure RAPM succeeded, even if their intentions were good.
The 2d box vs 3d box thing is an actual event from the history of IQ research, where IQ testers apparently got it wrong. So these people are fallible, too. Finally, cultural bias is one of the standard mistakes people (Even if they are scientists) make.
Note that I didn't even claim the IQ tests are flawed. It bores me if people confuse my comments with stuff other people said.
A great example is Jim Crow era voting rules. Black people obviously are not biologically disinclined to be able to read, but in 1900, it was a simple fact of southern American culture that a white person of voting age was less likely to be able to read than a black person of voting age. A black southerner of voting age was usually either a former slave, or the child of a former slave, and slaves did not have access to basic education. So a literacy test was, at that time, a racially biased test.
¹ This is unsurprising when you realize, for example, that the combined population we put in the single box of "black" is more genetically diverse than the combined population of all the races we put outside of that box. Even though populations of different specific geographical origins do often have characteristic biological traits, the social concept of "race" is not strongly correlated with geographical origin.
That wasn't the whole problem. The literacy tests were only administered to black voters in the first place because of a "grandfather clase"--anyone whose father and grandfather both had the right to vote had the right to vote automatically, and since the literacy tests were only implemented at the end of slavery, in practical terms they only applied to the black population. Naturally, since the test itself wouldn't disenfranchise whites (except for immigrants, but fuck them too) they were free to make it as difficult as possible.
So, that's another example of that cultural bias but it demonstrates we don't need something "complex" to make it stand out.
PS:Sorry for this atrocious use of english, it has been a long day.
That is to say that general knowledge spread btwn cultures (ethnicities) was less pronounced than non-culture based tests (such as abstract concepts). Again, I don't know how valid that conclusion was.
This is an excellent example of the way IQ tests can indeed succumb to cultural training effects. It's pretty clear that this is what's going on with the Flynn Effect, for instance, which is not a real increase in intelligence since not g-loaded:
It's also why Raven's matrices don't work as well as they used to (IMHO). I think my own childhood IQ score is 10-20 points too high, because I'd seen too many IQ-test-like problems.
So, certainly a problem with all IQ tests. But a minor problem, or an existential major one? If it was a major one, these tests would lose their predictive validity - which remains quite high.
What we need to ask ourselves here in the US is why some children get left behind culturally, or why some children live in disadvantaged environments, broken homes or single-parent households. Solving those problems would quickly close the IQ gap by giving more equal opportunity to all children.
As I said, the confounding factors exist, but they seem relatively minor. Attempting to effectively homogenize the diverse human gene pool through education is anything but a new effort. If it was possible to educate the Mbuti pygmies of the Congo into the cognitive equivalent of Great Neck Jews, don't you think someone would have tried this already?
Imagine that the remedy proposed was not educational, but rather pharmaceutical. Someone's selling you a drug that purports to turn Pygmy populations (mean IQ 55 or so - but let's be generous and add 10 points for cultural bias) into Ashkenazi populations (mean IQ 115 or so).
You might ask: has this drug ever been tried before? Is there any evidence that it can work? And what happens if the Beastie Boys take it - do they become the world's leading physicists? These would all be very rational questions.
Who would try that? The benign, wise rulers of the Congo?
In the Belgian Congo last week massed tom-tom drummers practiced a welcome tattoo. Prosperous Negro shopkeepers climbed up wooden ladders and draped the Congolese flag (a golden star on a blue field) from lampposts and triumphal arches set up along Boulevard Albert I, the spanking concrete highway that bisects the capital city of Leopoldville. In far-off mission churches, encircled by the rain forest that stretches through Belgian territory from the Atlantic to the Mountains of the Moon, choirs of Bantu children rehearsed the Te Deum. African regiments drilled, jazz bands blared in...
If you have a Time subscription (yeah right), you can read the whole thing on line. Otherwise, suffice it to say that (a) the memory hole is a lot deeper than you think, and (b) it's physically possible to teach Bantu children (and perhaps even pygmies) the Te Deum. Not clear that it's a safe and effective method for turning them into the King Ad-Rock, however.
The most interesting, and certainly the most effective, attempt to convert a Stone Age population directly to a civilized lifestyle wasn't even in the 20th century. Or the 19th. Consider the Reductions of Paraguay:
Although I suppose the Asian adoptees available, as probably with all races, weren't exactly the pick of their gene pool. Blood runs true, you know - on average.
(Ironically, the perspectives on human heredity generally held in the premodern era are generally more accurate than those taught in modern schools today. The traditional ideas of "blood" were after all consistent with a broad cultural understanding of animal husbandry, and the mechanisms of heredity aren't any different in humans than in pigs.)
I think you illustrate the danger of making assertions without being entirely informed - that is to say that what you state here is the beginning of the truth, but taken out of context. There was (and in many cases still is) a heavy cultural bias built into standardized IQ testing. Traditionally, most tests were developed and tested against middle-income, white children. Black children traditionally tested one standard deviation below their white counterparts, even when controlling for income, etc. However, many experts agree that this is due to cultural bias and environmental factors, agravated by the strong corelation between income and where you live geographically in the US, including resources (or lack thereof) in corresponding school districts. Example: children in troubled, inner-city schools would often have less access to rigourous IQ testing when compared to their urban, middle-class counterparts.
There is also the complicating factor of single-parent or broken homes and the roll that plays in a child's lack of overall intellectual development. This also correlates to income and geographic area (i.e. innercity versus urban environment).
> I've never understood why eliminating one of the few objective measures and making the hiring process entirely subjective was an improvement.
That's another subject and worth talking about. I'm simply stating that you should be very careful when talking about the black-white gap in IQ scores. There are too many factors at play to make a clear case for IQ differences between races.
For an informative article with really enlightening references, see this: http://theafrican.com/Magazine/IQ.htm
"It has been suggested that various aspects of the way tests are formulated and administered may put African Americans at a disadvantage. The language of testing is a standard form of English with which some Blacks may not be familiar; specific vocabulary items are often unfamiliar to Black children; the tests are often given by White examiners rather than by more familiar Black teachers; African Americans may not be motivated to work hard on tests that so clearly reflect White values; the time demands of some tests may be alien to Black culture. (Similar suggestions have been made in connection with the test performance of Hispanic Americans, e.g., Rodriguez, 1992.) Many of these suggestions are plausible, and such mechanisms may play a role in particular cases. Controlled studies have shown, however, that none of them contributes substantially to the Black/White differential under discussion here (Jensen, 1980; Reynolds & Brown, 1984; for a different view see Helms, 1992). Moreover, efforts to devise reliable and valid tests that would minimize disadvantages of this kind have been unsuccessful."
From pp. 93-94 in "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns" (1996),
Ulric Neisser, et al.
Report of a Task Force Established by the American Psychological Association
I may not be understanding your argument properly, but doesn't IQ _try_ to measure intellectual development? I understand cultural bias being problem and that makes sense --but this doesn't make sense to me. "The problem with measuring intelligence is it measures intelligence?" What difference does the lack of intellectual development have to do with whether it was genetic, educational, physiological, mental, etc?
I'm not saying banning them completely the right answer here, but putting too much faith into these tests can be dangerous too.
The between the lowest and highest score I ever received on an IQ test is 45 points. That really doesn't sound like an objective measure of anything much (The lowest was when I was stressed, running on no sleep, the test was sprung on me with no warning and had US cultural aspects when I'm from the UK - things like talking about quarters and dimes. The highest was when I had practiced math & logic problems to win a bet that I couldn't add ten points to my IQ :-)
I find the idea of anybody using an IQ test as a factor in employment laughable. As far as I'm concerned any company using an IQ test is hanging a big red sign on the front of their organisation that says "we don't understand what kind of employees we want".
Now, now now. You've forgotten Political Logic.
Political Premise: There are no significant differences in intelligence between blacks and whites.
Empirical Premise: Blacks score lower than whites on IQ tests.
Conclusion: IQ tests are biased.
The first rule of Political Logic is to never question the political premise!
A tutorial in basic logic is more in order.
The taboo is a completely understandable and largely inevitable reaction against the open and largely fallacious racist claims of academics in the recent past, but it's still a taboo that inhibits honest inquiry. Perhaps in another 50-100 years.
This says nothing about whether an IQ test is biased when used for other purposes than predicting future achievement (such as a job interview), and a supposedly-but-not-actually-objective test is a very dangerous thing; there's a lot of ugly historical baggage where science has met race in the past.
there's a lot of ugly historical baggage where science has met race in the past.
There is indeed:
If that isn't ugly, what is?
Here's how a slightly more partisan biologist (Peter Frost) responds to the same material:
Here's the NY Times:
To be honest, your comment reads strongly as though you are projecting.
The English wasn't English English and it frequently used words that sounded like American sitcoms and which, in the context of a test where one answer is write and another wrong, I was quite unsure of the distinctions between.
I guess I scraped through by luck.
I did read the whole thing. She "fought" by answering more questions demonstrating her aptitude, and her interviewers eventually conceded the point:
They tried various other questions, questions from other tests, questions they used for more advanced candidates. Gwen answered as best she could. The men were amazed. To their credit, once they became convinced that she hadn’t faked her results, they knew she would be a great hire. They recommended her for training as a programmer analyst, the most senior position being filled.
Let's pretend there was another black women who wasn't in the 99th percentile, but only the 85th. Let's pretend they would hire anyone over 80th percentile. They might, again, think she was cheating, and hence ask her more, harder, questions, like Gwen here. And since this person is in the 85th percentile, she might not have gotten all the questions right. The examainers would then take this as "proof" that she cheated and she'd be sent home.
We should be worried about the people we don't hear about.
> They tried various other questions, questions from other tests, questions they used for more advanced candidates. Gwen answered as best she could. The men were amazed. To their credit, once they became convinced that she hadn’t faked her results, they knew she would be a great hire.
The story says nothing about whether or not she got all of the followup questions right or not. I think even someone in the 85th percentile should be able to demonstrate they're in the 85th percentile with enough questions--in fact, it might even be easier than for the 99th percentile person because you're assuming that the difference between 85 and 99 is how many hard questions are answered. The first rule of cheating is: never go for 100% accuracy, it makes you stand out.
Companies still look at education, employment history, and ask questions that are trying to evaluate intellectual skills, interests, and abilities. Most of these will correlate with race pretty strongly, too. The entry-level job market is almost exclusively about checking for "good schooling and education".
What's particularly bad about IQ as compared to other measures of employability? Is it just that it's measuring skills that are non-job-specific, or is it actually more racially biased than other evaluation criteria?
I would naively think that IQ tests would be at least somewhat less sensitive to educational status than, for instance, looking directly at someone's educational background. In that case, would you similarly argue that looking at the "schooling" section of a person's resume is a way to claim not to be racist, and then be racist?
Is this a conspiracy theory? It sounds a lot like a conspiracy theory to me. Just sayin'.
Conspiracies do happen. However, when you're trying to persuade me of a conspiracy theory, the burden of proof is high. I expect links - lots of them - and good ones. Try to avoid linking to frauds:
FYI, the most accurate IQ tests available at this time were Raven's matrices:
I think these have lost some reliability because of a training effect from the general popularity of cognitive brainteasers (probably the cause of the Flynn effect). However, it would be interesting to hear someone explain how they were designed by racists to be racist. (Wikipedia tells me they were originally the Coloured Progressive Matrices, which does sound mighty suspicious...)
At the risk of dragging this thread back onto the topic of the story...
The story describes a number of people who put obstacles in Gwen’s way. None of them are described as being malicious, none of them got together and “conspired.” Some of them genuinely thought they were acting in Gwen’s best interests.
So if someone says that IQ tests were set up in such a way as to create bias, perhaps we can believe that yes they were biased, and possibly deliberately so, without thinking about conspiracies or racism, just people attempting to do what they thought at the time was in everyone’s best interests.
If I say, "Harvard admissions are set up in such a way as to admit large numbers of Jews," someone believing in a Jewish conspiracy will hear my dog-whistle and agree with me. But to someone not believing in a Jewish conspiracy, I can deny everything. A highly useful and malignant propaganda device.
And when you add "possibly deliberately so," you prove this point completely. What else could "deliberately so" mean? So, it may be a Jewish conspiracy that Harvard admits lots of Jews. But it might not be. That's some compromise position.
Normally, when we think of conspiracy theories (like Holocaust denial), we classify Holocaust deniers and "Holocaust agnostics" in the same bin. And rightly so. I'm certainly not interested in compromising on the position that maybe the Holocaust happened, but maybe it didn't.
Also, when I believe things, I prefer to believe them on better evidence than "perhaps we can believe." Sorry - I know it's an inspiring story and you're not looking for a flamewar. This is Asperger-infested HN, however. Geeks like their facts cold, hard, and entirely factual - don't they?
And I choose to believe that you are capable of adding more signal and less noise. On very poor evidence, so far.
It's true that these charges are conventional in our society. Most people would let them pass without notice. However, most people would not endorse letting the unacceptable pass without notice - so I don't think I'm being antisocial.
Sort of. Those of us who live in the real world, where there are shades of grey around every corner, and where subtlety and nuance count for a lot, have realized that we can't always have things served up to us like that.
Unfortunately real life stubbornly refuses to bend to the will of us geeks (and yes, I definitely am one) who want things to behave in ways that can be modeled strictly by cold, hard facts.
Actually, in the past Harvard deliberately restricted the number of jews they admitted: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/ha...
On the contrary, it was probably a mixture of ignorance and 'common knowledge.' I'm going to assume that if you're posting on this site that you probably are involved with making websites or software. Were you aware that a portion of your customers are colorblind in some way? Did you actively design your site to be hard for them to use? Probably not. Does that mean it is a non-issue? No. Much in the same way, white male test-makers make IQ tests that they think "anyone should know," without realizing that capable people with different backgrounds would not score very well at all.
>However, it would be interesting to hear someone explain how they were designed by racists to be racist.
No one in this thread has claimed this. Stop trying to invent a polemic.
It just turns out that whatever IQ does measure correlates heavily with income and where you were born which in turn correlates with race.
Yes, also with high job performance. Actually, IQ correlates with income regardless of family background. That's exactly why it's useful.
I tried to pry the source from JSTOR but failed miserably so here's a crappy pdf copy of "Income Inequality and IQ" http://www.aei.org/book/society-and-culture/citizenship/inco...
Note that this comment was posted before raganwald wrote "and possibly deliberately so," above. So it's not as obtuse as it looks.
As an example of how IQ test results aren't too reliable: IQ tests have been rising year on year for decades (the Flynn effect). Either we're all a pile of geniuses (which makes you wonder what score people in the middle ages got), or IQ test is inflenced by external things.
The measure we usually associate with "innate intelligence", the so-called "G-factor", is actually defined as the correlation between several different factors (education, grades in several subjects, various standardized tests including IQ, career success, socioeconomic status) that all trend in the same direction. It's basically a PCA on the observed metrics. There's no way to measure intelligence directly or even know for sure that it exists as a separate innate "thing" - all we know is that a large number of observable metrics are positively correlated, and then we give a name to the correlation.
What g really means is that you can't design a meaningful intelligence test that doesn't correlate with all the other intelligence tests - with slightly divergent axes for verbal and spatial/mathematical skills. Thus, for instance, backward digit span correlates with Raven's matrices, even though these tasks have nothing obvious in common. Someone who's good at one will be good at the other.
It's also very hard to produce training/educational effects that show an effect on g, though dual N-back perhaps has some promise:
However, these kinds of brain exercises have very little to do with education as we know it. The obvious null hypothesis is that we're looking at a physiological effect, such as the quality of myelin insulation in neurons.
Obviously, we see the same correlation effect in CPU benchmarks - any benchmark at all will reveal that a Xeon is faster than a Celeron. The obvious null hypothesis is that the Xeon has smaller transistors and more of them. The causality behind neurological g is probably something just as crude and straightforward.
One could argue, however, that when we compare Xeon motherboards to Celeron motherboards, we see faster DRAM and the like. Perhaps it's the fast CPU's environment, rather than its lithography, that makes it faster.
But... this isn't an argument anyone would make without a strong prior conviction that all CPUs are created equal. It's unclear where such an idea comes from in the case of the human brain, but it doesn't seem evidentiary in nature.
But the causal link between parents' income and kid's academic success is small to non-existent so even if there are factors influencing IQ, wealth doesn't seem to be one, at least not in this way.
 "Low Family Income Not a Major Reason For Poor Student Achievement" http://educationnext.org/low-family-income-not-a-major-reaso...
great info, thanks
It is legal (at least based on the guidelines provided by the US Department of Labor: http://www.onetcenter.org/dl_files/empTestAsse.pdf) to give people all kinds of tests as long as (a) they do not select against certain protected traditionally disadvantaged classes more than it does for the average applicant or (b) if it does, there is a demonstrable link between the test and ability to perform job functions (so, for instance, a test of strength in a job that involves lots of lifting may select against women, but if strength is highly correlated with job performance, that is OK).
IQ tests are actually a fairly poor test for many jobs, and they can test many things besides just intelligence (for instance, knowledge of the English language or cultural trivia). For a blue-collar job, an IQ test may disadvantage people from a different cultural background or who don't speak English as a native language, without actually being particularly relevant to job performance. One of the cases that has come up many times is in fire departments, in which written tests are given and used to screen out applicants who score below a certain level, when much of the knowledge tested is not actually all that important to the job.
These days, for a programming job, you would give a more specific test of programming ability. At the time, given that there probably weren't a lot of people with training or experience programming who could be hired, an IQ test was probably a reasonably good generic stand in for the aptitude to learn and think critically.
The major difference between then and now is that they were willing to train people with no prior experience.
Even in this story, I note they were screening a very limited pool of applicants. I wonder what would happen if we went into high schools and conducted universal tests of potential: could we find (and possibly hire) large numbers of people with enormous aptitude who had never considered programming?
Griggs v. Duke Power Co.:
"Good intent or absence of discriminatory intent does not redeem employment procedures or testing mechanisms that operate as 'built-in headwinds' for minority groups" - Warren Burger, Chief Justice.
IQ tests in general are not banned. IQ tests are not allowed when they disproportionately impact certain protected groups, and are not shown to be necessary for screening applicants. Sure, that means that IQ tests will have a lot of problems these days, because they are not very specific for particular business needs.
But if today, you were to invent an entirely new field of work, and needed to hire people who had an aptitude for grasping something new and solving abstract problems without being able to depend in prior training or experience, then an IQ test might very well be relevant.
The key is whether there is a business necessity for this test or other requirement. It sounds like general intelligence test was necessary in hiring people in a completely new, and intellectually demanding field, where there were no other educational, training, or experience qualifications you could rely on. It is not necessary when hiring firefighters or workers at a power plant. From the article you link to: "It was found that White people who had been working at the firm for some time, but met neither of the requirements, performed their jobs as well as those that did meet the requirements."
I've edited it to read "effectively illegal", but the essential point remains. In practice, any company using a straight-up IQ test in job interviews is practically begging to be sued.
Not if they secretly use undocumented race quotas.
Imagine trying to apply these hilariously vague "guidelines" as a hiring manager. Then, imagine being sued for applying them wrong. Then, you'll realize why almost no one uses IQ tests for employment screening.
Oddly enough, the main exception I can think of is the NFL:
For some reason, nobody sues the NFL for racism. Perhaps they should, though.
Only with perfect information. In the absence of straightforward tests to evaluate job applicant quality, discrimination can unfortunately be a stable and rational strategy (albeit morally wrong and illegal). Because of information asymmetries, the employer can use race as a signal to infer lower quality. By rejecting minority candidates, the average quality of their applicant pool increases.
See page 494 of this paper for which George Akerlof won the Nobel Prize:
Agreed that banning IQ tests may be misguided, as you point out the solution is to add more information to the market.
The issue is that IQ tests were found to be culturally biased against black students and therefore responsibly for placing those students on special-ed tracks that were not appropriate. See: http://www.rcselpa.org/docs/policies/Section%20III%20Evaluat...
This abstract indicates that black students seeking placement into gifted classes are exempted from the ban: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/93/1/31.abstra...
No offense, but who the fsck is Bob Peckham? And why should anyone in 2012 care what he thought in 1979? BTW, he was in a position to "find" because LBJ made him a judge in 1966. Hear LBJ's enlightened racial perspectives here:
I also like how IQ tests are racist against dumb black kids, but not smart black kids. That's some awful specialized racism you got goin' on there.
[I haven't read enough of the voluminous literature on the IQ-test controversy to have an opinion myself, so I don't necessarily endorse that viewpoint.]
It would be even better if women and people from traditionally disadvantaged ethnic groups didn't have to jump through all the extra hoops, but it's nice to see that even the extra hoops didn't stop someone smart and determined enough.
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Great story raganwald, it made my day.
This kind of thing was the normal way of hiring programmers for a while before computer science departments became common at universities.
I learned this from "The Psychology of Computer Programming", originally published 1971. A fascinating read, both as a glimpse at a professional environment completely unimaginable to people accustomed to have their own dev machine, and more so for realizing that a lot of what the author wrote about the problems occurring in that environment are still relevant today.
I think you'd be surprised just how biased some of them are, and how reliant on cultural knowledge.
With respect to the content of IQ tests, I tend to avoid the term "biased", as cultural knowledge is relevant in many real-life contexts, but the best IQ tests focus on exactly the kinds of questions described in the OP: math, logic, shapes, etc.
with ongoing administrative sanctions. In other words, I'm not sure if the article is currently in good enough shape to recommend. The Wikipedia user bibliography "Intelligence Citations"
points to sources that are generally reliable, as does the bibliography "Anthropology, Human Biology, and Race Citations."
Ah, if only this were true. This assumes the market is ultimately a meritocracy, and I don't think the evidence supports that assumption. And even if it were, inefficiencies in a market can persist for a very long time. While conscious, ideological racism is less common today, unconscious racism is a virtually universal feature of human behavior, affecting all corners of the job market. Adam Smith's invisible hand isn't going to fix job discrimination.
Did you ever see that study in France where they submitted the same exact resumes with Christian names and Arab names? I'll let you guess as to the results.
There are two likely scenarios:
1) The employers are racist biggots based on things that don't correlate with job performance. In this case betting against them is a winning strategy.
2) The employers are racist based on observed data from previous hires. Based on that they assume that a person with an Arab name is less able to perform. This may not be fair for the individual, but may be right on average. In this case betting against them is a losing strategy.
Given that the muslim world had all the knowledge the western world used to restore science after the dark ages yet have partially returned to them today, there may be some (tangential) evidence for 2.
And that is really scary.
It does have to do with cultural comfort, and the fact humans make hiring decisions instead of machines. In any case where human judgement has been replaced by measurement or judgement blind to demographics diversity has increased.
I know it's annoying when reality is non-optimized, but it doesn't take twisting ourselves into knots to explain why: humans make predictably bad decisions.
Citation needed for this one. It's pretty easy to to measure resume response rates, but I'd love to know how you would even go about measuring this one.
In any case where human judgement has been replaced by measurement or judgement blind to demographics diversity has increased.
This is simply false. For one example, take university admissions - after Grutter, universities have switched from objective systems to systems with human biases in order to increase demographic diversity.
Similarly, take a look at Ricci - the objective measurement system (firefighting tests) was replaced with a human judgement system in order to increase the number of minorities.
It's certainly true that diversity has increased in some cases, however - I believe women in classical music is the standard example.
There is a third, and much more likely scenario:
3) The employers' perceptions of Arabs is subtly colored by popular opinion and stereotypes as exists in pop culture and media. Much of these depictions and stereotypes appear harmless, but cumulatively add up to something substantial. Many of these depictions in media and culture are meant to be harmless, but subtly color your judgment anyways.
The employer is not out to discriminate against anyone, but their perception is colored, and therefore they make subconsciously sub-optimal choices sorting the stack of resumes.
That is a far more likely scenario, it just isn't as black and white, and isn't as interesting due to a noticeable lack of Bad Guys(tm).
I'll also disagree on the "betting against them is a winning strategy" thing. Your theory seems to be that bigotry will collapse in upon itself because they're denying themselves the objectively optimal choices. This doesn't stand up to actual example in history - Blacks were systematically oppressed until direct action was taken. The racists and bigots never caved in on themselves by cutting themselves out of a skilled labor pool, they succeeded until directly toppled.
What I mean is that as a founder of a business there is some people out there whoes skills are incorrectly priced by the market.
Yes, that was satire. Another possibility - improbable, I know - is that there are actually statistical differences between Frenchmen and Arabs. As a smart guy, you might enjoy this essay on pattern recognition:
Someone else posted George Akerlof's paper on asymmetric information:
Your second line of thought seems to approach "I'm not racist, arabs just actually are unenlightened bastards".
It should probably be noted when talking about the history of science during the so called dark ages that the Islamic Empire covered a very vast area. The society was homogeneous only in religion, not in 'race'.
My (limited) understanding is that their scientific collapse was the result of a series of (religious in nature) bans on various scientific activities (translation, dissection, etc) This seems to have had fair reaching effects on the viability of their Empire and has likely been the cause of the Muslim worlds comparatively limited scientific activity since then.
Therefore I would expect that the decline of Islamic science is not a symptom of a perceived performance deficiency among people with Arab names, but rather the cause. Considering the apparently solely cultural nature of the issue, any observed phenomenon could be subject to extremely rapid change and is likely to have a very significant number of outliers.
It's evidence that there is still a lot of racism now. What do you think the 1950s were like?!
It does not measure your willingness to learn.
It does not measure your ability to retain information.
It does not measure your reception to criticism.
It does not measure your ability to play nice with others.
It does not measure your interest in the job.
It does not measure your ability to work hard.
As such, I think giving someone an IQ test at a job interview is a fairly bad idea.
What we should have picked up from Gwen's job interview is that she is willing to learn and work hard given a fair chance.
I wondered if this was actually true, so I did some digging. I'm not saying you're wrong, but here's a fairly recent (in academic time) overview of the research:
Murphy, K. R. (2002). Can Conflicting Perspectives on the Role of g in Personnel Selection Be Resolved?. Human Performance, 15(1/2), 173-186
There's a lot of evidence that "measures of general cognitive ability represent perhaps the
best predictors of performance".
But the problem is that "racial differences in cognitive ability test scores are known to be considerably larger than racial differences in measures of job performance."
Murphy concludes that "reliance on cognitive ability measures in selection is likely to lead to more efficiency (i.e., higher average performance) and less equity (e.g., disparities in selection rates across racial and ethnic groups)."
The research I've found suggests otherwise, provided those IQ tests aren't the sole means of making decisions.
IQ correlates highly with SAT score and GPA, so you could probably get 85% of the way there with just those two variables.
IQ is what IQ tests measure. It's all made up.
How is the situation in the U.S. regarding assessment centers? That kind of stuff is allowed?
Now? Gwen's intelligence would probably also be detected, if by less straightforward and reliable methods. Because her African X chromosomes confer not one but two Diversity Points (tm), every institution she came in contact with would have a strong bureaucratic incentive to promote her not only to her actual abilities - but beyond them.
As a result, she'd be very likely to end up placed in a position where rather than leading enterprise IT projects, she was competing with (say) top-notch particle physicists. Lacking (like almost all of us) the mental horsepower to perform at this level, she would constantly feel like a fraud, and her colleagues would constantly suspect her of being a fraud. A suspicion which would be correct, though you couldn't really say it was her fault.
Lesson: be careful about hating on the past. Often the past looks pretty retarded by the standards of the present. Often the converse is the case as well.
Nonsense. Americans today are trained from a young age to have a sense of entitlement. People who are promoted above their ability are quite capable of blaming their inability to perform on prejudice or conspiracy on the part of peers or subordinates.
The reason she got through it is because she was smart. I didn't help her with her exams and I didn't help her land her job at Amazon. That was all her.
Cheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook gave a talk at the Grace Hopper conference about how she felt like a fraud. She wasn't as technical as the engineers so she didn't feel like she deserved her position. Turns out she's really good at her job.
Lots of women feel this way.
That seems to be what you're writing. And it doesn't look good.
Aggregate performance was either unaffected or improved in the presence of affirmative action. This fits with history: until 1972 almost no women were admitted to MIT, but it didn't make the men perform less well for all the affirmative action they received nor cheapen their accomplishments.
This is exactly what I'm saying - whichever group gets bonus points/preferences/etc will have lower quality. In the past, that group was women. Now it's usually men, though not always (some nursing schools give preference to men , some liberal arts colleges do also).
 Defining quality here is slightly trickier since nurses of both genders are needed for specific tasks (mostly related to bathing).
Jesus. Do we live in the same reality?
TL;DR: The Espenshade study found that African chromosomes (by the "one-drop rule") equaled 450 SAT points over Asian chromosomes as a college admissions factor.
(Not that actual genetic testing was used. It probably should be, though. Why encourage race fraud?)
Your link is to a study in which "affirmative action" is used in the sense it was originally implied, not the sense in which it is actually used:
Note that none of these constitute "reverse discrimination," an accusation affirmative action plans often face. In no case was a top-performing man denied a reward if he outperformed everyone else. The main effect the researchers found was an increase in the number of able women willing to participate.
Granted before some, perhaps most, would be below their level but it seems rather impossible to assume that nobody has now been moved artificially higher than they should have.
At what "level" are people with good connections, powerful parents etc.? Is affirmative action more effective in advancing people than pulling strings and calling in favours? Isn't this mechanism - the social status quo - what affirmative action is designed to change?
Why would one expect more incompetence from one than the other?
Could you, as an engineer, design a better system to make sure that all Eskimos are "likely" incompetent at their jobs, than promoting Eskimos over Tamils just because they are Eskimos and not Tamils?
Another cross-cultural comparison might be useful:
Witch, no. Racist, maybe.
I'll give you my standard deal - I'll admit to being a fascist, if you'll admit to being a communist. I haven't gotten any takers yet but I'm looking forward to the first.
You know what - if someone, anyone, can tell me why it's absolutely necessary to persecute racists and fascists, yet utterly and completely wrong to persecute communists, I'll go whole hog and buy the R-word. Operators are standing by...
I can even anticipate your response:
I don't need to do that.. I just need to point out that by picking an example of what one or more communists did or said doesn't make their actions a part of communism.
The only logical fallacy here is yours - I could equally point at some American murderers and say "capitalism is terrible, look at those capitalists murdering people for money".
So good job anticipating my response... the response of pointing out that your argument is basically bullshit, because sadly for you it isn't easy to back up racism.
Priceless! Where's my MasterCard?
For the record, Paul Graham kills hundreds of thousands of persons of color every year. All these capitalists are the same. Fred Wilson is walking down the street, sees some poor black homeless person he doesn't like... blam! He needs an extended magazine just to walk to work. And sells the organs, too - where do you think all this money comes from? But you never hear about it - our capitalist society is just so callous, you know, to the plight of the underprivileged.
I know there are communists out there who can spell "fascist." I just wish one of them would take my bait...
Folk in white coats with reassuring expressions maybe.
No word on treatment options.
As for implying that he is right in general because you have read an article that says that some people would like to be able, in the future, to look at classifying some racist behaviour among a very narrow class of people who already are displaying symptoms of schizophrenia, as being a part of their symptoms. Well, you seem as bonkers as he is.
From your referenced article:
"At present, the state of research is inadequate to suggest one course or another"
It could be that everyone is crazy. You and I together, comrades! If the 20th century doesn't prove the possibility of universal political insanity, what does it prove? Why is the English-speaking world somehow magically exempt from this general condition - appearing in all other places east of the Channel and west of the Pacific?
Nonsense. And spreads the idea that all black people shouldn't be where they are in the company and are all tricksters who are rubbish at their job.
But here, this might help you with your weeping problem:
Reported only overseas (with a helpful sidebar of tits) and in the local press. Nobody needs to weep for the kulak, the Jew, the enemy of the workers and peasants. But whoa - if some rapacious Jew defends himself against a good Aryan worker who's only trying to grind his head into the pavement, my gosh, well, that's an interplanetary sensation.
"I remember back in the late 1990s, when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture. Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol during the first Bush administration.
The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon's domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at the White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC [Republican National Committee] and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at Penn and the Kennedy School of Government.
With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. 'I oppose it,' Irving replied. 'It subverts meritocracy.'"
Quoted in http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/09/republicans-to-the-man...
And the famous example is that... white men network. As do black lesbians, Papuan pearl divers, and for all I know the Turkish blue-ringed octopus (our only social octopus).
The leap from "vast majority" to "famous example" is great, too. I never cease to be fascinated by the bizarre pseudosequiturs that pass for logic in the orthodox mind. It's like tumor pathology - every case its own disease.
What's wonderful is how similar this general strain of disparate impact theory is to the classic logic of German anti-Semitism. Did you know that 80% of the lawyers in 1932 Berlin were Jews, even though only 1% of the population was Jewish? Ineluctable mathematical proof the Jews are conspiring against the Aryans - scratching each other's backs, while stabbing their good German competitors under the table.
Too bad Streicher and company never got a chance to read Cochran and Harpending 2005:
But to paraphrase Goethe, against stupidity even the Jews contend in vain...
If you wanted to confirm or deny this "old trope," how would you do so? What evidence would prove or disprove it? If you wanted to identify such privileges, what would they look like? What about counter-privileges which offset them?
A fun thought-experiment, for instance, is imagining that "women, blacks etc." could sell whatever privileges they have to groups that I consider underprivileged, such as Asians. With some money changing hands, the Asian would become legally black and the black legally Asian, for all official purposes (educational, legal, etc).
What do you think the price of this transaction would be? And who would be paying whom?
And spreads the idea that all black people shouldn't be where they are in the company and are all tricksters who are rubbish at their job.
This is certainly the case for some black people, as it's certainly the case for some whites, Asians, Eskimos, etc. Perhaps we just differ in our estimated percentages.
People have done this already, this is what they look like:
White Privilege Checklist: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html
Male Privilege Checklist: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/
Heterosexual Privilege Checklist: http://www.cs.earlham.edu/~hyrax/personal/files/student_res/...
Cis gender privilege checklist: http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/cis-privilege-checklist/
As compared to really concrete, obvious privileges like: 450 free points on your SAT. Could that be the first entry on our 'Black Privilege Checklist?' What would be the second?
Now, let's imagine you design a sociological experiment in which randomly selected individuals of each race can exchange their privileges (and/or handicaps) - along with a payment to equalize the exchange.
Once again: who would pay whom? Or if we look at just one side of the comparison - what would be the market value of being legally black? What would parents pay, for instance, to purchase this privilege for their children?
Let's say we could restrict it only to college admissions. What would American parents pay to change their sons' and daughters' acceptance letters from Chico State, to Harvard? Then you'll have a fairly good price floor on the value of "black privilege" - this is obviously not the only benefit.
I welcome any thoughts on how one might perform the opposite experiment - that is, assessing the market value of "white privilege." Do tell, critical race theorists.
Abstract?! They aren't abstract, some are very very concrete. If you're straight, you can get married in just about every country in the world, and, in nearly every country. If you're a straight married man, you don't have to worry about saying "my wife" in a new place.
People don't sit men down in secondary school and tell them how to avoid being raped, men don't worry about their drink being spiked.
But let's pretend we're talking about my son. And let's find a racial handicap from the '50s which doesn't exist anymore.
"Young man," I say, "here's a deal for you. On the downside, you can't marry anyone not the same race as you."
"That's kind of uncool, Dad," he says. "What's the upside?"
"450 free points on your SAT. Also, you basically can't be fired from a job, ever. Also..." and I run through my Black Privilege Checklist.
What do you think he's going to say? What would you say?
That's exactly right! Moreover, there's a very important reason your N-rays are so hard to detect...
Look at it another way. You step into a time machine and emerge in 1938 Berlin - speaking German. Your task: to explain and convince, by pure reason alone, that there is actually no such thing as the international Jewish conspiracy. Expect some downvotes!
Or we could go all science-fiction. The Federation selects you as the first Federation Ambassador to the ice planet of Goth. The people of Goth come in two categories - Ostrogoth and Visigoth. Conventional wisdom among the Ostrogoths is that they are generally oppressed by the Visigoths - and vice versa.
They can't be right. It's your first task, as Federation Ambassador, to construct objective tests that accurately measure whether the Visigoths are sticking it to the Ostrogoths or vice versa.
For instance, you might ask: how many Visigoths are killed extralegally by Ostrogoths? And vice versa? Are young Visigoths, or young Ostrogoths, subjected to the numerus clausus? Etc, etc, etc.
You could build up a spreadsheet of these types of human-rights violations - which would greatly assist you in deciding, as a mere neutral observer, which faction of Goths is holding the whip and which taking it in the tail.
Of course, you're not the Federation Ambassador and neither am I. But even if you're a Goth yourself, why not think this way? Isn't it, at the very least, refreshingly different?
As a father of a young family with a spotty family past I wanted to focus on things I knew for my children. Perhaps I need to focus more on building that kind of supportive family or pseudo family.
Inspiring stories have a tendancy to inspire things not first thought of.
This cultural element of success is underrated. People understand the importance of intelligence, hard word and luck, but don't realise that 'culture' is also vital. Without a family culture of standing up to authority going back three generations, Gwen would not have got that great job. (Malcolm Gladwell devotes much of his book, 'Outliers' to this theme).
If you don't mind, it reminds me of an Asimov story I've always loved, "Profession". http://www.inf.ufpr.br/renato/profession.html
When you omit skin color and gender from the story, it's an inspiring story of family values triumphing over environment. It would also be reasonable to say that this family probably has a higher level of native intelligence than the average but they also have instilled the value of hard work and perseverance to make the most of their potential so even if they were average, they would get better results given the same potential.
I'm always puzzled at how quickly intelligent debate breaks down among Americans the second gender or race become part of the discussion.
It's a story about someone who, despite proving themselves to be capable and talented as their peers, would have been passed over if they hadn't fought to be recognized. Ultimately her race/gender didn't make a difference, but it certainly made getting where she wanted an ordeal.
so sticking it out is a credit to her.
it's likely though that the industry missed out on others who were qualified, but too put off to get that far.
I've deleted my comment out of respect for raganwald's mother.
Even I have lines I won't cross...
There's always a histrionic minority that read about some research and always come here bragging about it (ie, mainly about women, blacks or whatever else), this type of people, although mainly libertarian have a real dislike for the individual that is telling of their real beliefs.
It is frustrating that people are keen to feed that troll.
So it sounds like Gwen's experience wasn't unique. It may be that we are actually becoming more rather than less hostile towards women breaking into male-dominated industries.
Recalling from a previous news item, a women said that men always told her to "lighten up" (assuming that means something along the lines "don't whine, I didn't mean it that seriously", it doesn't translate). Well either I'm one of the bastards, or the culture is different here. It appears here we, men and women, have a lot of... liberties I guess you could say.
Looking at the list of countries allowing gay marriage lately, I was surprised to see the Netherlands listed as one of just a few. I once read a quote, "Mom, why do those two women hold hands? - Because they love each other.". I didn't get why it was upvoted at all (site similar to bash.org, don't remember which though). It seems rather obvious to me, like a girl asks her mother why a man and a woman hold hands. Now that I've learned that gay marriage is not actually that common, I get the point.
Is this true for (black) women in America too? I don't get the impression the USA is 'behind', but reading these stories you'd almost think it is. Of course, this particular one is a story from many years ago and either way a good read. But still, it is one of many last days which make it to the front page, covering pretty much the same subject.
I'm not saying people should stop posting or upvoting them, nor do I intend to offend anyone or any country. I'm just wondering aloud what the motivation is behind posting and upvoting these stories.
I wonder if she would have gone to work for a big company today, or if she would have tried to do a startup.
A bit off-topic, but I'm somewhat shocked by this (and my own ignorance). I know about the US, but this was an issue in Canada?
† Notwithstanding the Toronto Sun, et al.
For what is worth, even today the majority of landlords in Japan will not rent to foreigners.