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13-Dec-2014 19:03 by 7 Comments

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GRE scores correlate closely with IQ and with a bunch of measures of success in graduate school, so this sounds like it would be a good test of the actual required ability hypothesis.Let’s use this to figure out whether actual innate ability explains the discrepancies better or worse than perceived innate ability does.

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So a genius is someone who can solve difficult problems with little effort; a dullard is one who can solve them only with great effort or not at all.In other words, we find no evidence for a continuing effect of people’s perceptions of innate ability after we adjust for what those perceptions say about actual innate ability, in much the same way we would expect to see no evidence for a continuing effect of people’s perceptions of smoking on lung cancer after we adjust for what those perceptions say about actual smoking. Correlation is not causation, but a potential causal mechanism can be sketched out.I’m going to use terms like “ability” and “innate ability” and “genius” and “brilliance” because those are the terms Leslie et al use, but I should clarify.In the smoking study, we expect that people’s perception of smoking only correlates with lung cancer because it correlates with actual smoking which itself correlates with lung cancer.You would expect to find that perceived smoking correlates with lung cancer less than actual smoking, because the perceived smoking correlation is just the actual smoking correlation plus some noise resulting from misperceptions.This is among the strongest correlations I have ever seen in social science data.

It is much larger than Leslie et al’s correlation with perceived innate ability. It’s very similar to what other people have found when attempting the same project.

You conclude “Perception of being a smoker causes lung cancer”, and make up a theory about how negative stereotypes of smokers cause stress which depresses the immune system.

The media reports that as “Smoking Doesn’t Cause Cancer, Stereotypes Do”.

So I expected the paper to investigate whether or not perceived required ability correlated more, the same as, or less than actual required ability.

Instead, they simply write: Are women and African-Americans less likely to have the natural brilliance that some fields believe is required for top-level success?

I took GRE Quantitative numbers by department from the 2014 edition of the ETS report.