I think sam0345 may be exaggerating with a projection of -10, but I think he isn't exaggerating when he suspects that there are examples of academic unreliability that would be unfeasible to discuss on LW, even though I am a bit more optimistic about what LW can handle than Vladimir_M, for instance. It would be a bad mistake to even attempt to collect evidence on some topics.

I'm a psych junkie, and by following certain online debates and reading journals, I've run into several topics where peer-review studies that aren't publicized contradict the public st... (read more)

It is difficult to continue this conversation productively because the nature of your claim is such that you will not want to give examples to back it up or to clarify what you mean. The only solution that I can think of is to continue the conversation via private messages. I publicly promise to keep the contents of such a conversation private. (I also extend this offer to sam0345.)

ETA: My impression of you from reading your comments leads me to expect that such a conversation would be dispassionate and to-the-point.

Gender differences in spatial reasoning appear to be nurture

by David_Gerard 1 min read3rd Sep 201187 comments


"In this study, we use a large-scale incentivized experiment with nearly 1,300 participants to show that the gender gap in spatial abilities, measured by time to solve a puzzle, disappears when we move from a patrilineal society to an adjoining matrilineal society."

It is presently a commonplace of Western culture that women are worse at spatial reasoning than men, and this is commonly attributed to intrinsic biological differences.

It turns out this may be highly questionable. A study in PNAS studied two nearby tribes in northeast India, one with a strongly patriarchal organisation, one with a strongly matriarchal organisation. Both share the same agrarian diet and lifestyle and DNA tests indicate they are closely related.

In the patriarchal society, women did noticeably worse on spatial reasoning. In the matriarchal society, women and men did about the same.

The authors carefully do not overstate their results, claiming only that they demonstrated that culture influences spatial performance "in the task that we study." However, this promisingly suggests quite a bit of room for improvement of measurable aspects of intelligence may be feasible with proper attention to culture and nurture.

What measurable aspects of intelligence do you attribute to genetic causes? Can you test it this well? How would you fix it and help people be all they can be?

News coverage: ArsTechnica.