Sunday, April 18, 2010


Intelligence tests are fuzzy, controversial things. They have come up in many of my classes here at the University of Where I Go. I am even taking a class specifically on differences between people, cognitively.

First off, measuring intelligence was not just to pick geniuses out of the crowd (though there have been plenty of "scientists" who tried to do just that). Alfred Binet wrote the first usable test, in order to determine which children should receive special help in school. I think that was pretty awesome and forward-thinking of him.

"IQ" stands for "intelligence quotient," where an individual's test score was divided by his or her age, to produce a ratio of mental age (how well he or she did on the test) to chronological age (how old he or she was). As you can see, this wasn't exactly fair to older people. Say you got a score of 150 on the test, and you are 10 years old. You could say your IQ is 15, whereas someone with the same score who is 50 has an IQ of 3. (IQ tests through the years have had different calculations; I made this one up just to illustrate the point.) Huh? Exactly. Now they are based on bell curves and such and the ageism has been eliminated.

What intelligence really is is a matter of much debate. I think it's pretty safe to say that the various ideas about multiple intelligences, different processes, etc. are much closer to the truth than what an IQ test can show.

But IQ obviously measures something (the skill set for an IQ test is extremely narrow, but is still a skill set) and that something is highly heritable. According to Matt Ridley in his book Genome, if a person takes the test twice, his or her test scores are about 87% correlated (100% being exactly the same, 0% being completely randomly different). It is clear it is the same person taking it. Now, take the scores of identical co-twins raised together and compare. 86%. A statistician would have to concede that he or she couldn't tell if it was the same person or not. In fact, it wouldn't be out of line to declare "Yup, same person." Identical co-twins raised apart have scores that are 76% correlated. To compare, fraternal twins reared together have 55% correlation and biological siblings have 47%. Adopted children living together have 0% correlation.

The higher correlation for fraternal twins probably has something to do with "nature" in the womb, compared to biological siblings, who each have different experiences (their own specific nine months, so to speak) in the womb. The large difference between biological siblings and adoptive siblings clearly points to "nurture" as playing a large role in IQ.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Product Change Should Require a Memo

"You smell different."

I had been smelling something new occasionally for a few hours. Definitely not bad, just new. Something shampoo-like. Eventually, I realized it was when Baby A was around.

I accused her of smelling different. OK, maybe "accuse" isn't the right word, but I stated it. Forcefully.

Well, she has some new hair product, something in a green bottle that is supposed to be good for wavy hair. (Our hair is awkwardly between wavy and straight, so it needs a bit of help sometimes picking an option.) I vaguely remember her purchasing it but a) I tend to use non-smelly stuff so it didn't compute and b) I was only half-paying attention when she mentioned it. And it smells quite good, actually.

Baby A and one roommate laughed. This roommate is the one who is a twin too.

"I was confused! I didn't get it!" I justified my declaration.

My roommate just said, "No, I totally get it!"

Twins, man.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Missing Maddie

It's been a year since Heather and Mike lost their sweet Madeline Alice Spohr, their wonderful daughter they shared with the internet over at The Spohrs Are Multiplying... and The Newborn Identity.

Not a single day has gone by without me and Baby A thinking about Maddie and the Spohrs. Every single day. Maddie continues to inspire me. She is the reason I found what I want to do, both academically and as a career. I found human development as I researched further into the maternal and child nutrition field. She really did change my life, as silly as that may seem. Maddie was a little girl I never had a chance to meet, but she had an amazing smile, a huge personality, and some crazy ability to make people crazy about her.

Thank you, Maddie. You are so missed.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Let's Play a Game

It's called "Guess the age of that baby."

I often play this human-development-nerd game. And the people around me, mom or sister, roomie or friend, sometimes play along. They don't take it seriously though, because they know I'm going to own them don't have the same knowledge base. And they aren't majoring in babies HDE like me.

Well, Baby A is going to double major in HDE like me, but she hasn't taken the infancy and early childhood class yet. Once she does, then the game will be based entirely on luck or whether or not the baby does something developmentally age-appropriate while in view. Plus, it's not like I creep on every family I see, like "How old's your baybee? Huh, huh? I'm trying to win here!" I only ask if the baby or kid engages me in an interaction.

Things I use when playing the "Guess the age" game:
Infant in a chest carrier? Good head control, he's looking around? 6 months.
Out at a restaurant? She dips spoon or bangs it into bowl? 12 to 18 months. Baby getting close to feeding itself? 18 to 24 months.
At the park? Not using the pedals on her trike? 24 to 32 months. Two year olds also can't steer. Keep that in mind next time you pass one while you're out on a walk, because your foot could be involved in a minor collision.
Preschooler jumping? Definitely 4 years old. Try as they might, most younger kids cannot jump. But they are funny to watch as they try.

Oh, the hobbies I have. Really hip stuff here, guys.


PS: Baby L.ouis is fine. He was deeerunk for a few hours after we got him home. It was a little funny, but I felt bad for him, since he certainly didn't understand what was going on. He's eating fine even though he's missing some teeth now.