New survey of the experts of intelligence research

Rindermann, Coyle, and Becker (2020) are releasing a new survey of the experts on controversial (or non-controversial) questions relating to intelligence. The questions were much fresher this time around and provide some interesting insight into the true beliefs of intelligence researchers. The results are discussed below:

In Table 1, they present a summary of the background and expertise of the researchers they surveyed:

Unlike the 2016 analysis (Rindermann, Becker, and Coyle, 2016), they surveyed the respondents on social and political questions. The graph is seen below:

The results show that as the scientists surveyed became scientists, or simply as they grew older, they became far less religious. The majority were Christians as children; the majority were atheists/agnostics as adults. The scientists also leaned left on general political perspective. When asked about specific issues, the scientists were generally down the middle on most things, leaning right on some issues, left on others. The only issue that a much further left skew is seen on is on homosexual marriage (considering most conservatives support this now, why would it be a surprise?).

Unlike the previous surveys, more researchers (relative to other points of view) believed that the heritability of black-white IQ gaps is 0.00. However the far majority favored the point of view that the gaps had some genetic basis. The largest plurality was held by researchers who believed that the gap was about 50 percent heritable:

The researchers leaned towards believing that test bias was not a large factor in IQ testing. Most experts believed that the g factor was the primary explanation for differences in IQ between groups.

Something else they did differently this time around was ask about the researcher’s views on the media and how the media portrays intelligence research. The group surveyed strongly disfavored the way in which the media represents intelligence research.

“Apart from specific publications, experts viewed the media’s treatment of intelligence and related topics quite critically (Table 4), noting
that scientific results were often not correctly reported (M = 3.11 on a
scale from 1 [not correctly, strongly disagree] to 9 [correctly, strongly
agree], N = 83 ratings). Moreover, experts thought the media generally
used incompetent sources (M = 3.20, N = 83), was not rational in reporting (M = 3.07, N = 82), and reported on marginal (rather than
important) topics (M = 3.65, N = 82). In general, experts viewed the
treatment of intelligence as inaccurate and unfair (M = 3.29, N = 80).
Over half of the experts hesitated to express their opinion through
the media (59%, N = 86), but only a minority reported problems with
media (29%, N = 82). Experts thought that speaking about intelligence
(M = 5.24), genes (M = 5.67), and the relationship between them
(M = 5.17; always N = 75 ratings) became easier in the past few years
(1 difficult, 9 easier). Furthermore, experts believed that public debates
were based more on ideology than on science (M = 2.97, SD = 1.81,
N = 78) and that ideology had a stronger impact on political debates
about intelligence and genes than it did on scientific research
(M = 6.45 vs. M = 4.38). However, experts also viewed science as
being influenced by ideology (scale 1–9, M = 4.38), with 75% (scale
points 6–9) of the experts noting ideological influences in politics and
34% in science.” (pg. 5)

They asked the researchers about the highest quality intelligence researchers:

“Experts were surveyed about the most important intelligence researchers in three different ways (Table 5):
a) Highest in quality, trustworthiness, and correctness;
b) Highest in innovativeness, creativity, development of new ideas, and
stimulating research; and
c) Person with the largest impact in contributions and importance of
John B. Carroll, Thomas J. Bouchard, and Ian J. Deary received the
highest quality ratings; Arthur Jensen, Robert Plomin, and Thomas J.
Bouchard received the highest innovativeness ratings; and John B.
Carroll, Arthur Jensen, and Thomas J. Bouchard received the highest
ratings for importance of oeuvre. The ratings for all criteria were relatively homogeneous (SD = 1.0–1.8), with Arthur Jensen’s ratings
showing the most heterogeneity” (pg. 6)

Much of the rest of the paper is spent discussing predictors of specific views in intelligence research. See the table below:

There are some intriguing findings here. There were specific sex differences in views on intelligence. Women were more likely than men to believe in a specific-abilities-view in cognitive testing rather than g. Women were also more likely to take an environmental view on black-white IQ differences, to believe in test bias, and less likely to support cognitive ability testing in immigration. Regarding PhD status, they say:

“Finally, experts with PhDs differed only slightly from experts
without PhDs: Experts with PhDs were more likely to be older (r = .30,
MPhD = 50.66 years, SDPhD = 14.26, MnoPhD = 37.50 years,
SDnoPhD = 14.24) and to favor a more environmental view of genetics
and intelligence (e.g., r = −.25, for the heritability of the US BlackWhite difference in cognitive ability).” (pg. 6)

Another aspect they discuss is the impact of nationality in views in intelligence research, but their discussion is limited. They simply find that European countries were more likely than the USA to be left-wing in their views in intelligence research, but it was a lot less cut and dry. Europeans were more of a mixed bag. Unfortunately, they don’t discuss the views of third world countries, likely due to the small sample size. Similar discussion of this topic is examined by Lieberman and Reynolds (1978).

Overall, interesting analysis and much more in-depth than the previous ones. Unfortunately, there was little to say in terms of sample size, but it’s still decent compared to the previous analyses.

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