Aboriginal IQ and visual ability
In their devotion to their strange ideal of all men being equal, Leftists get frantic about the concept of IQ -- which is all about inequality. So they find all sorts of ways of claiming that IQ doesn't exist, doesn't matter or that intelligence is not measured by IQ.
Psychometricians have of course heard it all before and can easily refute the little Leftist brainstorms about the matter. A common leftist claim is that there are "multiple" intelligences so that IQ tests measure only a small part of what constitutes intelligence. The big problem for that is to specify what these other omitted "intelligences" are. What form of mental ability is overlooked by IQ tests?
The suggestions there are usually quite pathetic. The best known example of such a claim is the work of Howard Gardner -- and his theory of "multiple intelligences" -- eight of them, would you believe? There is a very clear and simple demolition of the whole Gardner theory here -- which points out that the Gardner theory not only ignores the data but that its criteria for calling something "an intelligence" are so loose that sense of humour, sense of smell, musical ability, athletic ability etc could all be called "intelligences". By adopting similar rules I could say that all cats, dogs and horses are birds -- but that would still not make them so.
I do think however that there is a marginal case for saying that Australian Aborigines have mental abilities that are not well captured by any form of IQ test. Australian Aborigines have attracted considerable attention from psychometricians because their original lifestyle is so different from ours. And their average IQ scores are some of the lowest ever observed.
University of Queensland psychologists, Donald McElwain and George Kearney, however, rose to the challenge of those low scores and constructed the "Queensland test", which used only those questions that seemed to work best among Aborigines. By their responses, Aborigines effectively constructed their own IQ test. A set of questions relating to mental ability were sifted out that intercorrelated with one-another and correlated with various indices of ability to handle an Aboriginal environment. So how did whites score on a test that was biased towards an Aboriginal population and environment? They scored much higher than Aborigines themselves.
That has to be seen as pretty strong evidence that average Aboriginal intelligence really is unusually low. But I am not so sure. Aborigines have very great abilities in areas where we do not. Their ability to see and remember small details of the landscape is completely beyond us.
For many years they were used as "black trackers", people who were used to find escaped criminals. The trackers could "see" where the criminal had been and would follow a trail that he had left behind him -- a trail that no white man could see. So many a criminal who had every reason to feel that he had got clean away would often find that he had a most unexpected and unwelcome knock on his door.
And it is no mystery why Aborigines could do that. They had evolved into a harsh landscape and had only the most rudimentary weapons to use in capturing juicy animals for food. As a small isolated population, they did not have access to the inventions that arose on the vast Eurasian continent. So it was only their own wits that could help them survive. By noticing tiny details of the landscape they could "see" where a juicy animal might be lurking. And a great aid in such "seeing" was a detailed memory of what the landscape had previously been like. Noticing what had changed would be a major clue to what had happened and what was happening.
So it seems to me that Aboriginal visual ability and memory does a job very similar to what high IQ enables. It is strongly pro-survival in the environment where it arose. I don't think there is any point in trying to integrate it into IQ measures but it should remind us that there are many abilities that increase survival chances and not all of those abilities are mental.
Africans, for instance are in general very good at sprinting and that no doubt once had survival value in enabling them both to catch prey and escape predators.
Sprinting is not a mental ability but it is a survival tool. Aborigines also have their own unique survival tools -- tools which in my view deserve great respect
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