Re: DIPLOMACY: Memetic Morphing

Timothy Bates (
Mon, 16 Nov 1998 19:50:36 +1100

Hi all,

people asked about *average hours/week* as related to IQ level.

patrick said
>The problem here is that the you can't treat *average hours of TV
>watched/week* as independent of lots of other variables that impact on IQ.
>I am not saying you couldn't do such a naturalistic study (and certainly
>not that IQ and TV aren't related), just that it would be hard to get clear

Same with lead and IQ. Averaged across society, the net $cost of lead poisoning is probably in the billions. However, in any individual it is perhaps .4 IQ points -- too small to disentangle from a myriad of dramatically larger effects.

One one around this is to "Actually have a theory" </TM>

That is, to predict WHY two vars are related. Why should TV and IQ be related? Is the relationship causal A->B or B->A?

If TV is supposed to lower IQ, you could boot strap off the "music raises IQ" data
(see Rauscher FH, et al. Music and spatial task performance. Nature. 1993 Oct14;365(6447):611).

However, I have published a pretty nice failure to replicate this study. Stough,-Con; Kerkin,-Bridget; Bates,-Tim; Mangan,-Gordon(1994) Music and spatial IQ. Personality-and-Individual-Differences.1994 Nov; Vol 17(5): 695.

30 Ss participated in an experiment in which the effect of music (Mozart, popular dance music, or silence) on Progressive Matrices scores was measured. No significant effect of music on IQ performance was found, contrary to the F. H. Rauscher et al (1993) finding of a significant improvement in spatial IQ scores after listening to a Mozart piece compared with either silence or relaxation music.

Others also failed to find it.

The point is, _theories_ can be tested, relationships cannot. As Paul Meehl wisely noted :the null hypothesis is (quasi)always wrong. The real question is whether the theory reduces complexity by more than the words used to write it out ;-)

In psychology this is hardly ever the case. We mostly just have political theory wrapped up as science - bull about how people with schizophrenia are never violent, IQ isn't heritable, EQ is completely learned, and such like. That is why i moved to cognitive science.


"Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your ox turned into bouillon cubes."
--John Le Carré