25th July 2013
Using IQ tests as a regular diagnostic tool on the level of nutrition, freedom (dignity) and critical thinking
I wrote to about 20 Indian psychologists seeking their input into the "National IQ" debate. Two replied saying that they had no idea abou it. The others haven't yet replied.
The only reference to IQ among the "authorities" in India that I could find was a presentation on iodine deficiency by AIIMS which refers to lowering of IQ by 13 points due to iodine deficiency. But that's not good enough since a broader analysis showed that iodine is perhaps not such a big issue in India (this is not a conclusive statement since I don't have historical records, only for the past 20 years or so).
My EXTENSIVE searches both on Indian pscyhology journal databases and international databases did not unearch any significant recent work by Indian psychometricians in this area.
It seems that there is a reluctance among Indian psychologists to deal with the "National IQ" debate.
This is unfortunate.
IQ testing has many weaknesses but it is very strongly related to life outcomes, particularly through the academic performance route. It is CRUCIAL that Indian psychometricians record IQ changes occurring in large populations (and sub-samples, e.g. of "Dalits") over time. We need data to understand what's going on. Without data we are handicapped.
Educational attainment and qualifications can often times be flawed. They are not comparable. Often there is cheating in awarding degrees. The quality of most Indian degrees and educational qualifications is third rate. So looking only at such data is likely to seriously mislead.
It is important to set it off against an international benchmark. PISA is good, and should be used. But IQ tests should be administered regularly as well to represenatative samples of the population. The combination of PISA and IQ records will indicate where things are in relation to India as a whole and Indian sub-populations.
I've not yet found the original source of the following data:
Southern Brahmin, 1% @ 120 IQ
Northern Brahmin, 4% @ 115 IQ
Southern Merchant, 3% @ 110 IQ
Northern Merchant, 12% @ 105 IQ
Southern Peasant, 8% @ 93 IQ
Northern Peasant, 32% @ 88 IQ
Muslim, 15% @ 75 iQ
Southern Dalit, 5% @ 75 IQ
Northern Dalit, 20% @ 75IQ
Avg = 86.10 IQ
However, this sounds plausible, and is broadly consistent with overall studies that show a significantly low average Indian IQ. The IQ will move as nutrition and liberty increase, but we need to KNOW that it is moving. The movement of IQ will be a stronger predictor of educational attainment that looking at stupid data from government sources about the number of school passouts or degree holders. The latter don't mean anything in the corrupt Indian context.
I would urge Indian psychmetricians to raise the profile of the low Indian IQ and get more resources allocated to the task of measuring IQ regularly, particularly among sub-groups. This will help get a sense of where extra nutrition and freedom (critical thinking/ dignity) is needed.
It won't be possible to remove the handicap of the Dalits by merely giving them access to good schools. They will need better nutrition BEFORE birth, and a significant change in mindset within their families, that challenges each child to rise to his/her potential, and prods the child toward critical thinking.