Garbage in, Garbage out: The use of flawed data on race, nationality, and intelligence.
The use of IQ has been highly contested terrain throughout its history (Gould, 1981; Richardson, 2002; Hampshire et al., 2012). While IQ has traditionally been used to measure individual cognitive abilities, some researchers have extended the use of IQ to estimate the cognitive abilities of whole countries and populations. The most prominent of these attempts are based on the work of Lynn and Vanhanen (2002) and its derived datasets (i.e. Lynn & Becker, 2019, Becker 2019). The datasets collected and derived by Lynn and Vanhanen are riddled with strong bias, miscalculations, and obviously incorrect measurements, making any conclusions based on this data uninterpretable (Barnett & Williams 2004; Ebbesen, 2020; Richardson, 2004; Wicherts et al. 2010a-d). A recent analysis found the IQ measurements provided by these datasets show that in some nations, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, that approximately half of the population would be considered intellectually disabled. This is obviously false. In many cases such estimates were derived from a small number of data points, or extrapolated based on neighboring counties with similar ethnic composition. This data is further complicated by Lynn’s expressed support for white nationalism, white separatism, and racism throughout his career. Lynn has gone so far as to suggest that nations with higher IQ subjugate or selectively eliminate nations with lower IQ.
A recent retraction of a paper (Clarke et. al, 2020) in Psychological Science has once again brought to light the problems with the continued use of the dataset compiled by Lynn and Vanhanen (2002). In response to this retraction and longstanding prior concerns, we are setting up a project to catalog and address all scientific publications that depend on this dataset for their findings. Specifically many researchers, such as evolutionary psychologist Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, economist Dr. Garett Jones, economist Dr. Anastassia V. Obydenkova, behavioral ecologist Randy Thornhill, and psychologist Dr. Geoffery Miller, have used the problematic dataset to make racially-based claims regarding economic and technological growth, civil wars, and adoption of evolutionary psychology, influence of parasitic infections on psychological abilities, and adoption of environmental conservation policies. Corrections, warnings, and/or retractions should be issued for all of these findings. This open letter is to express our dismay at the continued use of this dataset, and to correct the archival academic record. We call for: