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Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Today's Buggy Topic

At Carpe Diem --- in a long thread about Toyota's lack of legacy costs even in his home-base country (Japan) --- there appeared a extravagantly stupid remark about the IQ of Asians compared to Americans.  To wit:

"Asian IQ is about 20 points higher than the American IQ." --- Matt Young

Click here for prof bug's counter and some earth-bound data about IQ across countries, along with some information about the correlated outcomes in PISA exams --- administered by the OECD every 5 years to 15 year olds across a few dozen countries that test the conceptual knowledge of high-school students in math, science, and reading.  Prof bug, please note, has commented several times over the years about IQ, and what we have learned, say, about the mix of biological and sociocultural influences in shaping them. 

For one lengthy bugged-out analysis --- also found at Carpe Diem (earlier this year) --- click here.  For another click this link.

A Final Comment Or Two

Why people on the Web say factually stupid things --- prof bug means blatantly at odds with reality, like the statement above --- remains something of a mystery, especially since it would only take a minute or two to google a topic and get accurate information.  Apparently, three decades of largely nonsensical stuff about self-esteem that our schools have pushed energetically --- largely for politically correct reasons, little else --- have produced a couple of generations of students and graduates who are convinced that whatever they say publicly must be OK because, hey, dude: it's my view and if you don't like it, f-you, Jack!  

What A Pedagogical Sham

As it happens, high self-esteem correlates in many psychological studies with callousness and even angry and bullying behavior towards others (on an average).   According to the most exhaustive study that analyzed the data of 326,641 Americans and others of differ ethnicity/race and gender across the entire life span, tracked at various ages (8 different age-categories)):

"On average across all ages, males had higher self-esteem than females (Cohen's d  .22, p  .01), high-SES individuals had higher self-esteem than low-SES individuals (d  .17, p  .01), and U.S. participants had higher self-esteem than non-U.S. participants(d  .10, p  .01). Blacks had the highest self-esteem, followed by Latinos, Middle Easterners, Asians, and Whites. The magnitude of these effects is comparable to that reported in previous research on gender (Kling et al., 1999; Major et al., 1999; Robins, Hendin, et al., 2001) and ethnicity (Gray-Little & Hafdahl,2000; Twenge & Crocker, 2002)."

As for the causes of bullying in schools, there is a clear correlation between lack of self-control --- and for that matter ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) --- and the tendencies of school kids of all ages to become bullies.  For one recent study, click here.  On the problems and costs of emphasizing the pursuit of self-esteem --- as opposed to self-control, self-regulation, and self-discipline, plus the boosts to self-respect that follow from concrete achievements --- click here