The Oregonian admits possible correlation between brain size and intelligence

The Left has argued for years that there is no meaningful correlation between brain size and intelligence.  Though science, and common sense, say otherwise, there has been an ongoing campaign to misinform and confuse the public in this matter.

Nobody claims that absolute brain size is a sign of greater intelligence; if this were the case, then elephants and whales would be far more intelligent than humans.  Body size must be taken into consideration.  Furthermore, nobody claims that there is a perfect correlation either; some people with large brains will be stupid, and some people with small brains will be geniuses.  Nevertheless, there is a robust correlation, somewhere in the neighborhood of .4.

The reason the Left is so loath to admit this correlation is that it means that any discovery of average brain size differences between the races would present a challenge to their beliefs.  Just as the rabbis of old built a fence around the Torah, reasoning that if Jews obeyed rabbinical injunctions, they would be less likely to transgress against actual Torah commandments, so too does the Left build fences around their faith.  In this case, they both deny that there are brain size differences (taking body size into account) between the races and that such differences can be a smoking gun for actual I.Q. differences.  Building these fences makes them feel safe and secure in their faith.

However, a recent Oregonian article (from 12/13/11, as of today not yet available online) does admit, indirectly, that brain size can be correlated with intelligence – at least among cabbies!

Street smarts help cabbies’ brains grow

London taxi drivers aren’t like the rest of us.  Researchers have known for more than a decade that these elite cabbies – who train for years to master “the knowledge,” a mental map of 25,000 streets – have a larger than average rear hippocampus, a brain region linked to learning and navigation.

What scientists didn’t know was whether the drivers grew bigger hippocampi as they trained or whether they had big ones (and thus an innate navigation advantage) to begin with.  So a team followed three groups:  trainees who successfully acquired the Knowledge and became cabbies; trainees who failed to qualify; and a control group of non-taxi drivers; over four years, testing them and scanning their brains before, during and after training.

The team found that the brains of qualifying trainees were no different from those of nonqualifying trainees or non-taxi drivers before beginning training.  But as the cabbies learned the Knowledge, their hippocampi grew, literally changing their minds…

The hippocampi of unsuccessful trainees stayed the same throughout, which could suggest that successful cabbies really do have an innate advantage:  Their brains are more malleable than others’.

The mainstream media does have a lot of faith in the stupidity of the masses, that they are unable to put two and two together.  I fear that they may be right.  The masses need bigger brains.

About jewamongyou

I am a paleolibertarian Jew who is also a race-realist. My opinions are often out of the mainstream and often considered "odd" but are they incorrect? Feel free to set me right if you believe so!
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12 Responses to The Oregonian admits possible correlation between brain size and intelligence

  1. sabril says:

    It reminds me of a time I was chatting with a female (liberal) co-worker and I observed that people are genetically programmed to prefer fatty foods like ice cream or potato chips. She rather vehemently rejected this hypothesis even though it seems pretty obvious to me. I think the problem was that subconsciously, she realized that conceding this point would take her one step closer to admitting the (literally) unthinkable.

    And by the way, if you happen to live or work in a multi-racial city like New York and start paying attention to peoples’ head sizes, you will see that blacks have noticeably smaller heads than whites.

  2. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is involved in memory forming, organizing, and storing. It is a limbic system structure

    Actually, the IQ is supposed to be fairly stable and not easily increased. The cabbies just store a lot of spatial and name information away which might explain the growth.

    An IQ test before and after training should not yield differences. Even more so as memorizing a street map is not really an intelligence task.

    So you might have to resort to the fairly robust proofs cited by Rushton, which the PC crowd tries to discredit.

    • jewamongyou says:

      Perhaps I should have been more clear. If there is an innate ability to grow a part of the brain that controls memory and learning, then who’s to say there is not also an innate ability to grow a part of the brain that controls intelligence (which grows early in life)? In any case, it shows that there is a link between the size of an organ and its ability (not that we need evidence for the obvious). Even if the “intelligence part of the brain” does not grow, just as there is genetic variance with the “memory part of the brain” so to might there be with the former.

  3. CanSpeccy says:

    A correlation “in the neighborhood of .4”, means that 16% of the variation in x is accounted for by variation in y, i.e., the ccoefficient of determination, or squared = 0.16. That isn’t a large effect, especially when you take account of the way the relationship may be skewed by pathological conditions such as microcephaly.

    I was told, incidentally that the people with the biggest heads are Australian aborigines. Can anyone confirm that?

    • jewamongyou says:

      I don’t think you can go by head size since skull thickness also varies. Australian Aborigines have the thickest skulls of all.

      I may be wrong, but I think the brain size studies excluding pathological conditions. That is a very interesting article about the boy with “no brain”.

      • CanSpeccy says:

        “I don’t think you can go by head size…”

        But then what practical use is this? How do we go about assessing the size of a person’s brain when it’s still inside their head?

        Anyhow, it’s not brain size that matters, so it has been argued, but the brain to body mass ratio or encephalization ratio (ER). But within a species, a plot of brain mass as a function of body mass gives a near horizontal line, i.e., the larger the body the lower the ER. And since there is a positive relationship between socioeconomic status and body mass, we may assume that high school dropouts have a higher ER than Harvard graduates, which seems counter-intuitive.

        The study of London cabbies supports the notion that intelligence is enhanced by suitable training, an effect that may explain the Flynn effect, i.e., the increase over time in the mean IQ of Western populations is likely a result of increased education and experience with devices of various kinds that require a certain type of IQ-test-like intelligence to master.

        If that is correct, Shakespeare would likely have scored rather poorly on an IQ test by our standards, which raises some doubt about the validity of this whole thing. Then again, this list of presidential IQ’s looks about right. Let’s hope George W Bush and Bill Clinton donate their brains to science so that their capacities can be precisely compared.

  4. CanSpeccy says:

    There also the question of whether a brain is really necessary at all.

    As reported in Science Magazine, hydrocephalics, whose cerebral cortex is compressed to a layer only a millimetre or so in depth can be perfectly intelligent. In one case, an individual with virtually no brain at all was reported to have an IQ of 120 and a considerable facility for math!

    Sorry for the typos in the comment above. I meant:

    the coefficient of determination, or r squared = 0.16

    • jewamongyou says:

      “But then what practical use is this? How do we go about assessing the size of a person’s brain when it’s still inside their head?”

      I never said there was a practical use for this, or that we should be able to assess a person’s I.Q. by looking at his head. All I said was that there is a correlation – and that this translates into rough racial differences.

      As for the math student “without a brain”, it’s an interesting case but an anomaly. There is little doubt that a person would instantly die (I.Q. = 0) if most of his brain was shot off.

      Perhaps I should not have stated that the correlation is “robust”. But one of the differences between race-realists and racial egalitarians is that we have enough evidence that if one or two or our theories prove to be incorrect, we remain unscathed. In contrast, if any of the racial egalitarian theories fails, their entire house of cards collapses.

      • CanSpeccy says:

        Yes, I’m all for realism.

        Since racial differences arise through the isolation and subsequent genetic differentiation of populations, we should expect racial differences to reflect the contingencies of selection in particular places, and under the influence of particular social regimes.

        That being the case, we should expect intellectual and temperamental differences among populations that reflect the environmental and social histories of the various populations.

        Most of the variation that one would expect to see in traits of intellect and temperament will reflect changes in the frequency of particular genes, rather than in the occurrence of genes unique to particular populations.

        That being the case, one would expect racial traits in intellect and temperament to change rather quickly (i.e., over a few generations) in response to a change in environment or culture. Such changes could very well affect brain size.

        One implication of this is that being of average intelligence is actually adaptive and being of high intelligence, although possibly advantageous in some circumstances, can be maladaptive. This seems to be the case in Western society today where women of high intelligence often seem to prefer careers to child-raising.

        The welfare arrangements that many countries now have that give women of low intelligence an incentive to become single mothers provides selective pressure to lower average IQ’s.

  5. 150+ says:

    One way to get the word out on HBD is to call stupid people microcephalic!!

  6. jewamongyou says:

    Re: My previous response to Canspeccy,

    Looking back at what I wrote, I see that it could be misunderstood; I didn’t mean to say that it’s no big deal if we throw all sorts of half-baked race-realism ideas out there and hope that some of them stick. What I meant to say is that it’s good that we debate our ideas so that we can arrive at the truth. So I appreciate the debate Canspeccy.

    • CanSpeccy says:

      I agree: debate about human biodiversity is important.

      Unfortunately, racial or biodiversity issues are widely seen as taboo subjects, with the result that many will not challenge public policies or personal choices that impinge on these issues for fear of evoking the lash of the politically correct.

      By contrast, the openness of debate on these topics here is admirable.

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