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Male IQ vs Female IQ

Women have a slightly lower average IQ score than men. But this deficit doesn't entail women are of slightly lower average intelligence. Instead the result is a statistical artefact of the "mind-blind" way men have constructed IQ tests. If appropriately weighted measures of social cognition were included in IQ tests, then women would have a slightly higher average IQ than men.

So why include tests of social cognition? Well, one reason is ecological naturalism. Simplifying, what drove the evolution of distinctively human intelligence is our superior mind-reading skills (cf. the Machiavellian Ape hypothesis). Any measure of "intelligence" doesn't reflect this perspective-taking capacity is seriously flawed - and perhaps better conceived as a measure of high-grade autism.

Here are two obvious rejoinders from a defender of male cognitive superiority / existing IQ tests...

First objection: calling for the inclusion of measures of social cognition is to confuse intelligence with the personality dimension of agreeableness.

Possible reply: No so: the capacity for "mind-reading" and higher-order intentionality is cognitively demanding in the extreme. Some (mainly male) humans and most non-human animals never master mind-reading, or do so fitfully and inadequately. Aspergers and autistic spectrum disorders are male-dominated syndromes. Yes, a richer capacity for empathetic understanding makes agreeableness (as distinct from callous insensitivity) more feasible. But the cognitive capacity and the personality trait aren't the same. An empathetic torturer can make a more successful interrogator than a Gestapo goon.

Second objection: performance on IQ tests as conducted today correlates positively with a whole range of measures of future academic and social success that confirm IQ test validity. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Possible reply: a positive correlation exists because testosterone promotes both greater visuo-spatial and numerical skills and competitive status-seeking and dominance behaviour. Men statistically have higher IQ scores and earn more money than women. But this is not because men are really more intelligent.

[a prediction: women exposed to statistically higher than average intrauterine testosterone levels will score slightly higher on existing IQ tests and will be more "successful" in academia, business and politics than normal or low testosterone women - thereby "validating", once again, existing IQ tests. No, I've never seen this prediction tested; but it's a falsifiable hypothesis.]

My guess is the average alpha male reading the above will be unimpressed. Yes, thinks alpha male, changing existing IQ tests so that women score as well as, or higher than, men is feasible; but the tests will be rigged. Injecting politically correct, touchy-feely stuff into IQ tests won't capture what is cognitively important.

But here is the nub of the issue. IQ tests are a mixture of the factual and the evaluative i.e. what cognitive capacities we think matter most. There isn't an objectively correct, non-conventional answer to the question whether men or women are more intelligent. For example, one might argue that the abolition of suffering, issues of existential and global catastrophe risk - and perhaps building friendly AI? - are extremely important. They are cognitively demanding fields where a superior "female" - or at least low-testosterone - capacity for perspective-taking, consensus-building, empathetic understanding and negotiating prowess may be critical. So why not score (and socially reward) them equivalently?

David Pearce
(2010)

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