If IQ Measures Only Performance On IQ Tests, Then How Do You Know Your Death-Row Client is Retarded?

I just stumbled over an old Kevin Drum item about the devastating effects of lead exposure on IQ. It makes an important substantive point about social policy, but I was particularly struck by the beautiful opening phrase:

Any of you who think that IQ is merely the reification of culturally approved behavioral norms will probably want to read no further,

Right. Isn’t it amazing how a measurement tool well known to readers of Stephen Jay Gould as a scientific hoax with racist antecedents suddenly becomes valid when it measures the effects of an environmental problem or shows that some murderer is really too dumb to be held responsible?

Nothing justifies support for the current version of the Republican party, but when I listen to some of what passes for left-of-center political discourse I can certainly understand the temptation.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com