I’m aiming at a reasonably comprehensive list of documented attempts to narrow or close IQ gaps between different groups, including planned interventions and natural experiments. I’d include results – primarily adult IQ, if we have that information. This being modern times, I hope to get my readers to do some of the work. Ideally, all of it.

So tell me already.

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48 Responses to Interventions

  1. Ginny says:

    We don’t call it “getting readers to do the work”. It’s “crowdsourced science”.

  2. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Have you tried putting up a project on Kickstarters? Might work.

    Oh yeah. There was head start.

    Also, the Federal Civil Service seems to have some sort of preference for minorities. I think they are trying to improve outcomes.

  3. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    More seriously, Wikipedia claims that the Abecedarian Early Intervention Project reports “A modest increase in Full-Scale IQ (4.4 points), and in Verbal IQ (4.2 points).”

    Wonder whether we can believe that?

    • drphysics says:

      That same Wiki article states, “a mean IQ difference of similar magnitude to the final difference between the intervention and control groups was apparent already at age six months, indicating that ‘4 1/2 years of massive intervention ended with virtually no effect.’ Spitz has suggested that the IQ difference between the intervention and control groups may have been present from the outset due to faulty randomization.”

      Hardly a ringing endorsement.

  4. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    In addition, that wonderfully unbiased source (Wikipedia) in the section on Race and Intelligence says:

    Nisbett argues that they ignore studies such as Campbell & Ramey (1994) which found that at the age 12, 87% black of infants exposed to an intervention had IQs in the normal range (above 85) compared to 56% of controls, …

    I guess that 86 is above 85.

    • misdreavus says:

      All of those gains magically disappear by the age of 21, which is why follow-up studies are rarely publicized, even when they are available. Ditto for your abecedarian project.

  5. misdreavus says:

    Once I get to a computer, I’d like to name some examples — some which are common knowledge to the average reader of this blog, others which are more obscure.

    That being said, where is Jason Malloy? This sounds right up his alley.

  6. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    The Widest Achievement gap claims the following for early intervention (whatever that is):

    The results of the studies were eye-opening. Compared with the control groups, significantly fewer participants were left back or assigned to special-education classes, while significantly more children graduated from high school and enrolled in college. More remarkable still were the effects on participants later in life — including lower crime rates, better health self-reports, less reliance on welfare, and greater earnings.

    • misdreavus says:

      And here’s your answer.

      From Campbell, Frances A. et al,, Developmental Psychology, Vol 37(2), Mar 2001, 231-242:

      Anyone notice anything suspicious about these graphs?

    • misdreavus says:

      Pretty easy to make it look as if your intervention has achieved anything, when there were already far more dum-dums in the control group to begin with!

      Why, I can’t think of any reason why selection bias might be an issue with these studies.

  7. I wrote about the Perry project, which follows the kids through 40 years old:

    Link to the report is there.

    Also in that essay is this Intelligence Knowns and Unknowns, which has a bunch of cites to adoption studies and IQs.

    Sorry if you had all these already.

  8. There is a mediocre preschool Meta Analysist. It has a complete set of references.

  9. Anonymous says:

    an old book, but covers the programs from the 70s: Spitz (1986), “The Raising of Intelligence: A Selected History of Attempts To Raise Retarded Intelligence”

  10. Ziel says:

    Currently there are the universal-pre-school programs in Georgia and Oklahoma.

    And of course the amazing educational reforms of Ayers and Obama for the Annenberg Challenge.

  11. Ziel says:

    Ther is also the Abbot District concept in New Jersey requiring more per-pupil spending in poor urban districts. Other states probably have similar programs.

  12. jackstrocchi says:

    gcochran said:

    I’m aiming at a reasonably comprehensive list of documented attempts to narrow or close IQ gaps between different groups, including planned interventions and natural experiments.

    Eugenic interbreeding.

    Granted this suggestion is not politically practicable, given the sordid history of 20th Century forced breeding programs. But widespread access to reproductive technology might make it more practicable on a personal level. Women are pretty keen on leveraging their progenies social status, given half a chance.

    Preferably from males in the higher-IQ breeding population through females in the lower-IQ breeding population.The female is the primary care giver and will therefore maintain the cultural identity of her progeny, thereby avoiding any accusations of genocide.

    My guess is that some form of brute force beugenics so was more or less how the IQ levels of conquered peoples were ratcheted up in pre-history. See the Rape of the Sabine Women.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Brute force was never necessary to ratchet up IQ, here is the tried and true recipe. Turn the heat of human misery up for 10 or more generations in an environment where a small IQ advantage means you were more likely to raise kids to adulthood and cover. If you congratulate yourself for being smarter than the average bear it is only because your direct ancestors had a horrible time of it. You have direct ancestors who had slightly dumber brothers and sisters and they never reproduced because they could barely feed themselves. Brute force eugenics doesn’t work over the long run to breed higher IQ’s. Brutal hunter gatherer populations that keep their surrounding area way below Malthusian limit carrying capacity through the common practice of attempted murder of anyone outside of their clan don’t get smarter. Heap a bunch of sad suffering genetically diverse peasants who got kicked off the good farm land and did their best to survive and raise kids in a shit hole of a middle ages city for lots of centuries and presto chango, dumb peasants become shop keepers and skilled craftsmen.

  13. Jim says:

    I remember, when Head Start began back in the sixties, reading breathless accounts in popular magazines of IQ gains of 30-40 points. After 50 years of hearing that a solution to the Achievement Gap has just been acieved by the latest program I’ve grown pretty cynical about these claims.

  14. rec1man says:

    Each program had four to eight sites, with children starting in either kindergarten or first grade. Each Follow-Through (FT) school district identified a non-Follow-Through (NFT) district to act as a control group. A total of 9,255 FT and 6,485 NFT children were in the final analysis group. Students in each school district were tested at entry and then each spring until third grade. Three types of assessments were conducted covering academic performance, cognitive development, and affective behavior. All FT program sponsors agreed in advance upon the assessments. The following five tests were used:

    Metropolitan Achievement Test: an achievement test that assess basic skills and cognitive and conceptual skills, including reading comprehension and math problem solving;

    Wide Range Achievement Test: measures number recognition, spelling, word reading, and oral and written math problems;

    Raven’s Colored Progressive Matrices: measures cognitive skills through the use of visually oriented problems;

    Intellectual Achievement Responsibility Scale: measured affective skills by assessing whether children attribute their successes and failures to themselves or to external forces;

    Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory: assesses how children feel about themselves, the way they think other people feel about them, and their feelings about school.

    For Direct Instruction Method, IQ gain was 30 points documented

    For Autistic kids, Applied Behavior Analysis which is similar to Direct Instruction, IQ gains were between 15 to 30 points in the Lovaas study

    Direct Instruction was used on black kids who are also IQ handicapped

    • MoscowEast says:

      ‘For Direct Instruction Method, IQ gain was 30 points documented’

      I can’t find a gain of 30 IQ points mentioned in the link you posted. The chart doesn’t have IQ as the unit of the horizontal axis and I can’t see it anywhere else.

  15. Pingback: Grab-Bag | Mitchell Powell's Blog

  16. Jim says:

    Reports of interventions raising IQ by 30 points have a credibility with me somewhere between claims of having invented a perpetual motion machine and having achieved cold fusion.

    • bruce says:

      What about teaching Koko the gorilla sign language? Or that gray African parrot with the real patient owner? Or, indeed, Head Start if Head Start was allowed to teach kids to read?

      • gcochran9 says:

        Head Start is for poor 3 and 4-year olds. That’s a little young to be teaching reading, don’t you think?

      • bruce says:

        I learned to read at 5 going on 6. 3 or 4 is a little young all right- a ‘head start’ if you will. Read print, do sums; it’s not the impossible dream. And on a non-pc note, blacks mature faster. The learning window when kids are smart enough to talk, but still dumb enough to trust adults? Opens sooner, closes sooner.

        Less important than opening Koko’s soul to the Logos, of course.

    • albatross says:

      There are well-established methods, I think. Like, immunize everyone against childhood diseases, build decent sewers and safe water supplies, drain the swamps and cover the countryside with DDT till you get rid of malaria in the area, build schools and require kids to attend them, make sure everyone gets enough to eat with supplements to prevent deficiency diseases, stop using lead paint and leaded gas, etc. Those are probably great ways to narrow the gap in IQ between, say, Ugandan kids and American kids. This does nothing for the US black/white gap, since we don’t have a lot of kids starving or playing in raw sewage.

    • Florida resident says:

      Dear Jim,
      what, you don’t believe this ad: ?
      I would suggest you to compare with perpetual motion machine of 2nd kind, which violates only 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, not the 1st one.

    Rushton, J. P., & Skuy, M. (2000). Performance on Raven’s matrices by African and White university students in South Africa. Intelligence, 28, 1 – 15

  18. ziel says:

    There was some charter-type program up in Massachusetts that was being hyped around the time the “Bell Curve” came out for allegedly eliminating the gap. There seemed to be obvious self-selection bias among the charter-students, as I recall. But I can’t remember the name of the program or much else about it – sorry- but maybe this will jog someone else’s memory who can.

  19. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    It seems that an intervention or two is needed in Silicon Valley

    Schools fail Latinos

  20. Inclusion criteria: IQ and life success data on adults (preferably at age 25 and above); proper random allocation to experimental groups in childhood; data on maternal and paternal education/IQ if possible; anything else is a bonus. I listened to Ramey (of the Abecedarian Project) give a talk at the ISIR conference in San Antonio last December, and he is planning new studies in which each participant child has their full genome sequenced, which should resolve a number of issues. I am looking at NAEP data as regards the Flynn effect and “gap closing” and we will report on that shortly. However, the figures in early childhood always look better than those at 17 years of age. Kids probably mature faster nowadays, but at the end of it all, they are still 17.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Reasonable, although we should also include studies that don’t quite meet those criteria if they’re genuinely funny.

      I would argue that the maximum strength intervention must also be limited by practical considerations. Suppose that we found good positive effects that kicked in from teachers with an IQ over 160? Nice, but there just aren’t enough of them. I think adoption is probably too strong: I can’t see stealing most of the low-IQ kids from their parents.

      • Anthony says:

        I can’t see stealing most of the low-IQ kids from their parents.
        Isn’t that what Steve Sailer says is the motive behind all the “early intervention” stuff being proposed for younger and younger kids? Even if they sleep in the same house as their low-IQ parents, they’ll spend all of their waking time with nice, moderate-to-high IQ day-care providers, teachers, and social workers.

      • Agree that a separate section should be created for studies which are amusingly absurd. Probably a crowded section. As to maximum strength interventions, they probably have the same relationship to reality as mileage figures on experimental cars driven on start and coast cycles have to everyday driving.

  21. Philip Neal says:

    Reuven Feuerstein: refers to claims involving IQ scores and control groups but gives no hard data.

  22. Richard Sharpe says:

    It seems to me that if we think about an IQ-affecting alleles the following applies.

    If such an allele improves the reproductive success of its holders during the good times, but reduces the reproductive success of its holders during the bad times (perhaps because it requires a critical threshold of sustenance during development else it has negative impact), then over a number of cycles of good and bad times these alleles would likely be removed from the gene pool.

    Similarly, an allele that does well during the bad times but is outperformed strongly during the good times would tend to be eliminated from the gene pool, it seems.

    I imagine that over the long term we alleles would tend to accumulate that tend to perform relatively the same during the good times and the bad times and that variance would be reduced.

    However, if a group can smooth out the environmental variances or provide for consistently better nutrition during development, alleles that only perform well during the good times would seem to be retained. I don’t know of any groups that herd animals that do not have lactase persistence but it would be interesting to compare the IQs of groups that herd that differ by whether or not they have lactase persistence.

    Anyway, what does this have to do with interventions? Given that R=(H^2)S it would seem that no single-generation magic bullet intervention could exist.

  23. ziel says:

    The Times has another weird article today, this one claiming it’s much easier too boost math proficiency than reading. See In Raising Scores, 1 2 3 Is Easier Than A B C –

    Yet on NAEP and SAT scores the math gap is always substantially greater than the reading gap.

    • Problem is, we do not have a priori measures of difficulty. Psychologists have to rely on cruder techniques, like generating a maths test and a reading test and then seeing how a representative sample of students perform. As to the NAEP, in the period 1970-2004 it would seem that Maths has gone up more than reading.

  24. Discard says:

    If the the same amount of effort put into improving dumb kids was also put into improving average kids, would the gap narrow, widen, or remain the same? Given that resources are always scarce, ought we put them into raising Grade F humans to Grade D, or raising Grade C humans to Grade B?

    • Ian says:

      Grade Fs are expensive to have around due to the disproportionate costs of policing and incarcerating them, paying for the welfare of their offspring in lieu of paternal investment, and attending to their self-inflicted health problems later in life. If they can be raised even to a slightly higher level, let’s say Grade E, then it may be worthwhile if it’s do-able.

      • Discard says:

        OTOH, Ian, we don’t need to spend so much on incarceration as we do. How much does it cost per year to keep a herd of 1000 cattle on a feed lot? And keep in mind, there’s no reason that Grade Fs should have offspring, any more than steers do. And steers don’t get medical care, they get veterinary care.
        Investing resources in Grade Fs is a way of limiting losses. Investing resources in Grade Cs would actually give us a return on our efforts.

  25. Ian says:

    Bashing some simple rules of conduct into their skulls, as the Victorians successfully did, as well as removing the financial incentives for having lots of children on welfare, is more realistic than treating such people exactly like farm animals.

    • Discard says:

      Ian: I was referring to the incarcerated, not the law-abiding Grade Fs. As for bashing some simple rules into skulls, I recall that 30 years ago, Gertrude Himmelfarb had some good things to say about Victorian tough love. But I think that, however preferable tough love might be to human feedlots, it is no more realistic. The Powers That Be have allowed the Grade Fs to go feral for a couple of generations now, and re-domesticating them may no longer be possible by Victorian methods, even if the will to do so existed.

      • Ian says:

        Ah, I understand your meaning better now. The present policy of containment will probably just carry on, expensive as it is. The days of transportation are sadly over.

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