18 June 2011

Modern theories of intelligence

It is difficult to believe how completely what was formerly accepted about IQ has been rejected and replaced by an entirely different set of assumptions.

The people who were positive factors in my early life were no doubt familiar with the view of general ability which was expressed at the time, and with which I was familiar myself from my father's educational books and general conversation. The g factor (g for general) was of predominant importance. If your g factor was high enough you could do anything, that is, the idea was widely accepted that ability was transferable from one area to another. If a person showed very great ability in some area, one might expect them to excel in others. This corresponded to what I observed in my own case. I could see that the mental functions that went into picking up any new subject quickly were much the same. When I got a distinction mark in Further Maths in 3½ days, I thought I was showing that I could also pick up to a high level any subject which I had not previously studied very quickly, so I should not be prevented from taking exams in chemistry, physics, languages or anything else just because I had not been studying them previously.

So, of course, when I started to make breakthroughs in topics formerly associated with parapsychology as soon as I started to know anything about the phenomena involved, I thought I was demonstrating clearly enough that I should not be prevented from entering an academic career in any subject, whether or not I had a paper qualification in it, and whether or not I had prior knowledge of it. Which I probably had not, because what went on in most areas at Oxford was rubbish which one would not want to know much about unless it contributed to some specific purpose, such as passing an exam (i.e. obtaining a qualification for social purposes), or teaching and writing papers in a salaried university career.

The idea that ability shown in one area was indicative of underlying ability which would be likely to show itself in another was, however, far more prevalent when I was very young than it is now. When I was at Oxford and afterwards, any relative success in a particular area was regarded as evidence of some peculiar kind of ‘interest’ in it, which was not supposed to require being set up to carry out well-financed research in it.

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources. I hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed university research department, to all universities, and to corporations or individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.