Tuesday, January 16, 2007

JA's Blog Roundup!

(Apologies to Ezzie, who is King of Blog Roundups.)

  • CL Hanson posts about the epiphany that ended her belief in Mormonism:
    The thing that struck me was that these random absurdities about the trinity and whatnot -- it was clear that she believed them as fervently as any Mormon believes in Mormon doctrine. She wasn't seeking and wasn't unsure as those who don't have the truth ought to be. She believed the stories her parents taught her with all her heart.

    You can also buy her novel, Exmormon, or read it online.

  • Da'as Hedyot writes about exit interviews for those who leave Orthodox Judaism.

  • Steve Sailer, whose name I've been misspelling on my blogroll for quite some time, discusses an article by Charles Murray about the truth ignored by No Child Left Behind: half of all children are below average, and teachers can do only so much for them.

  • Finally, XGH throws up his hands. Again.


Half Sigma said...

"half of all children are below average"

Shocking but true.

C.L. Hanson said...

Thanks for announcing my novel's new website!!!

I haven't started posting it online yet, but I will in about a week. So if you and your readers are interested in a fun story set in a culture that is -- shall we say -- a little different ;-) I hope you'll stop by!!! :D

Mis-nagid said...

> half of all children are below average

> Shocking but true.

No, shockingly wrong.

Jewish Atheist said...

CL Hanson:

The similarities between Mormons and Orthodox Jews are fascinating in light of the vastly different histories. I'll be reading for sure!


Care to elaborate?

Mis-nagid said...

I was hoping I wouldn't need to. *sigh*

It's the difference between mean (average) and median. Half of all kids are below the median. The percentage below the average is entirely dependant on the distribution and can be half--or 1% or 99% or anything.

Jewish Atheist said...


But IQ scores are (by design) normally distributed, so the mean is the median. To the extent that IQ is synonymous with intelligence, then, half of all children are of below-average intelligence.

Surely IQ isn't exactly the same as intelligence, but I can't imagine how you can conclude that assuming half of all children are of below-average intelligence is "shockingly wrong."

Mis-nagid said...

"But IQ scores are (by design) normally distributed, so the mean is the median."

You misunderstand what that means. It means that IQ scores have a certain artificially-induced distribution, not intelligence!

"To the extent that IQ is synonymous with intelligence, then, half of all children are of below-average intelligence."

Wow, was that begging the question.

Anyway, the original line said "half of all children are below average" and that's what I replied to, not your digression into IQ scores. You're welcome to create a new line and defend that one, but there's really nothing more for me to add here. Next time just say median and you'll be right no matter what.

Jewish Atheist said...

Would you agree with "Half of all children have a below-average IQ?"

Mis-nagid said...

I wouldn't say that because it invites reader error. People understand neither averages nor IQ. Write to be understood, not misunderstood, even if it's the readers fault.

Jewish Atheist said...

Just for the record, it's not my writing, it's the subtitle from the linked article. His point is that people with below-average IQs (which he admittedly assumes is the same as intelligence) should not be expected to do as well as people with above-average IQs:

For example, in the 2005 round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 36% of all fourth-graders were below the NAEP's "basic achievement" score in reading. It sounds like a terrible record. But we know from the mathematics of the normal distribution that 36% of fourth-graders also have IQs lower than 95.

What IQ is necessary to give a child a reasonable chance to meet the NAEP's basic achievement score? Remarkably, it appears that no one has tried to answer that question. We only know for sure that if the bar for basic achievement is meaningfully defined, some substantial proportion of students will be unable to meet it no matter how well they are taught. As it happens, the NAEP's definition of basic achievement is said to be on the tough side. That substantial proportion of fourth-graders who cannot reasonably be expected to meet it could well be close to 36%.

Regardless of how well IQ measures intelligence, it's easy to find out how well IQ predicts things like the NAEP's basic achievement scores. And if it turns out that people with IQs below, say, 95 almost never meet those scores, then it may not be the fault of the education system.

Murray's point is that we aren't even looking at that issue, which is absurd considering the focus on test results in NCLB.

So perhaps his conflation of IQ with intelligence is imprecise, but his point stands even if IQ is not the same as intelligence.

Mis-nagid said...

I wasn't commenting on the article at all.

Jewish Atheist said...

Still, you wrote that the statement "half of all children are below average" is "shockingly wrong." If the statement is referring to IQ, as indeed it is, the statement is simply true. If it's referring to some less-precisely defined version of "intelligence," it is likely to be either true or approximately true.

In no reasonable sense is it likely to be "shockingly wrong."


Mis-nagid said...

The "shocking" in my sentence was that I was "shocked" he made that mistake. I was only playing off of half sigma's initial use of the word, don't darshen up a dvar torah on it.

Jewish Atheist said...

But it's not a mistake. Half of children are below average with regard to IQ. Granted, the quote out of context doesn't reveal which trait is under discussion, but the article makes it explicit that it's talking about IQ.

Ezzie said...

Argh. Why do posts not show up on my feed until HOURS later?!

Anyways... thanks for your compliment, O minion of mine. :) And I agree with BOTH you and Mis-Nagid, sort of.

Random said...

Like Ezzie, I sort of agree with everyone here, or at least I think Mis-Nagid is right, if possibly for the wrong reasons. Basically, the problem is that IQ is not a point score but should always be expressed with a standard deviation attached (100 +/- 10, that sort of thing) because of different ways of measuring it and imprecisions within the tests themselves. This means that "average" IQ shouldn't be expressed as a point score but as a range. Working from memory (i.e. I'm having difficulty googling it...) "average" IQ is anything in the range 90-110, and only about a quarter to a third of the population fall below (or above) this range.

Half Sigma said...

You don't have to be able to measure intelligence to state correctly that half of people are below the "median."

Since you can't measure it perfectly, you could just assume that average and median are the same thing, which is what we assume from JA's original post.

Arguing that the average IQ (IQ being an attempted but not 100% perfect measurement of intelligence) is actually a little bit higher than the median IQ because IQ has a long right tail is to focus on the tree and ignore the much more imporant forest of JA's point.

LT said...

What the heck, I'll take the more leftish, softy, politically correct stance and defend it because, well... someone should.

It is a dangerous and unhelpful thing for an educator to say "half of all children are below average". Below average with regards to what? Each child has strengths and weaknesses. Half may be below average at math, but many of those children might be above average when it comes to linguistic aptitude or artistic talent. Part of good education involves recognizing each child's natural strengths and encouraging them to purse that. Thus, you can end up with a situation in which 80% of children are above average in their academic area of strength.