Regarding penis size, SAT scores, and intelligence

J. Phillippe Rushton—eugenicist, professor at the University of Western Ontario, and president of the Pioneer Fund, which funded the research of Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein (authors of The Bell Curve)—is claiming his most recent research proves men are more intelligent than women. His study is based on analysis of 100,000 SAT scores. Below is my letter in response to a CanWest News Service article published inThe Vancouver Sun, which describes Rushton’s study.

Wednesday » September 13 » 2006

Study linking SAT scores and intelligence gets failing grade


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Re: Men smarter than women, professor says, Sept. 8

I was dismayed to see The Vancouver Sun give credibility to pseudo-scientist J. Phillipe Rushton.

Rushton maintains, based upon a study of teenagers’ SAT (formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores, that men are more intelligent than women. Previously, Rushton has claimed the evolution of intelligence is inversely related to the evolution of penis size, saying, “It’s more brain or more penis. You can’t have everything.” Obviously, Rushton can’t even keep his pseudo-scientific claims straight.

More importantly, Rushton makes a major mistake in equating SAT scores with intelligence levels. The SAT is a descendant of the racist, anti-immigrant U.S. Army Mental Tests of the 1920s. The SAT is validated for just one purpose: Predicting first-year university grades. It doesn’t even do that very well, accounting for a mere four per cent of the variance in student grades.

Research shows that the SAT consistently underpredicts the performance of females in university and overpredicts the performance of males. Any uses of the SAT that treat scores as precise measures are seriously flawed: The testmakers admit two students’ scores must differ by at least 125 points before they can reliably be said to be different, due to measurement error in the test.

After years of describing the SAT as a “common yardstick,” the test’s maker has flip-flopped, claiming “it is a myth that a test will provide a unitary, unequivocal yardstick for ranking on merit.” This is why more than 400 universities have stopped using the SAT to make admissions decisions.

Earlier this month, a Washington State University study showed that for private universities in the U.S., Ultimate Frisbee team rankings were a better predictor of academic excellence than SAT scores.

E. Wayne Ross
Department of Curriculum Studies
University of B.C.

Keep reading to see the CanWest News Service article on Rushton’s study.Men smarter than women, professor claims
Psychologist says it could be why females have harder time rising to top of their careers

Lance Crossley
CanWest News Service

Friday, September 08, 2006

OTTAWA — A recent study proves it is “very likely” that the reason women have difficulty rising to the top in their careers is because they are less intelligent than men, according to controversial University of Western Ontario psychologist J. Philippe Rushton.

The professor — already criticized for claiming that whites are intellectually superior to blacks, and that higher AIDS rates in Africa are due to a more insatiable sexual appetite in the black community — believes the “glass ceiling” phenomenon is probably due to innate ability rather than discrimination.

“We have to find the truth about the normal distribution in society,” said the professor, whose study is published in the September issue of the academic journal Intelligence. “It’s not right to simply say, ‘it must be discrimination and don’t dare say anything else.’ One should really look at the facts.”

Rushton co-authored a study that analysed 100,000 scholastic aptitude tests (SATs) written by American teens, age 17 and 18. Researchers focused on the general intelligence factor — which relates to how quickly an individual can grasp a concept and is widely considered the most crucial ingredient for high IQ scores — and discovered males scored the equivalent of 3.63 IQ points greater than their female counterparts.

Rushton, who was surprised by the findings, said the results reinforce similar studies carried out by Richard Lynn at the University of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, and Helmut Nyborg at Aarhus University in Denmark.

“We still have to be cautious, but it’s difficult to believe this is wrong. But it would very nice to be confirmed by additional teams before we can be 100 per cent certain.”

Rushton said the male-female differences were present at every socio-economic level and across several ethnic groups.

It’s only in late adolescence that the IQ advantage becomes apparent, he said, which he attributes to the difference in early maturity levels.

“It looks like up until late adolescence, the females have the advantage over males because they mature faster, which masks the underlying difference.”

For the last century, the consensus among scientists has been that there is no difference in intelligence levels between the sexes, other than perhaps men’s and women’s respective strengths in spatial and verbal functions.

While the bulk of Rushton’s work has pertained to race differences, he also published a study in 1992 with zoologist Davison Ankney that claimed men’s brains weighed, on average, 100 grams more than women.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

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