10 August 2007

Say What?

My wife and I heard the most amazing thing on the radio yesterday. Some new study has shown that having children significantly lowers a person's I.Q. Sure enough, a Google search immediately produced the following link to a brief report on this study and its findings:


Does anyone else find this to be rather lame and outlandish? Of course, what should one expect from the Kinsey Institute? It makes me wonder, not about parents and their intelligence, but about the instruments used for measuring I.Q. I just don't understand. But maybe that's because I've already had a number of children. Hmmmm. I wonder if a person is supposed to lose 20 points, or whatever, with each child, or only with the birth of the first child. If the former were the case, it's a wonder I can still even read! I ought to be in the nether regions of I.Q. by now.

It seems to me that intelligence actually functions in a wider variety of ways than these Kinsey researchers would recognize or acknowledge. Maybe this is yet another example of what we have heard from St. Paul earlier this week, that the foolishness of God is wiser than man, and that He has used the foolish things of this world to shame those who are wise in their own conceit. In any case, I wouldn't trade any one of my children for even a hundred I.Q. points.


RPW said...

One of the main beliefs this counters is that IQ is consistent, irregardless of life situation in the first place. It is not parents' intelligence that is in question, it calls into question whether or not IQ can be reliably measured during periods of high stress and life change.

These tests were all given to parents of 6 month olds (their first). How many were getting adequate sleep? How many were working? How many mothers had stopped working or were not okay with their childcare situation? How many were undergoing marital stress that is very common when the marriage makes that shift to parenthood? How many are getting adequate social interaction or feel isolated and alone? How many are fixated on the cost of formula and college funds - and so are working overtime? How many were wondering about if their babies were okay while they were sitting there trying to reproduce a picture with blocks? Maybe having something really important to focus on that needs you, lowers our patience for sitting in a room and answering these types of questions?

Twelve points is more than statistically significant. 100 is the mean, and there is a standard deviation every 15 points when scores are laid out on a bell curve. Below 85 is considered one of the main criteria for diagnosing mental retardation (the other 85-115 is average range, 115 is above average, 130 is considered genius) They are basically suggesting that someone with average intelligence is lowered to the level of near mental retardation by becoming a parent (at least in the first six months of the first child). I don't think reality bears that out.

Before these results can be completely swallowed as "parenthood lowers IQ," we need to look at the nature of the test to measure what it is supposed to measure (is it reliable). I am curious as to whether or not the results are actually close to identical with father and mother, or if the means for each would seperate out and be different, but instead the compiled statistic was reported (not allowing for hormones, etc.)

This should force us to look at how people perform on IQ tests at periods of stress in their lives. This could call in to question IQ tests administered to those who are undergoing great stress due to socio-economic status, fear of being diagnosed special ed, when men are drafted, how certain ethnic groups are perceived (during the eugenics movement, IQ was a factor in "determining" that northern Europeans were superior to southern Europeans, whose governments had been unstable and civil war was common. This belief shaped our immigration policy). This should cause us to consider the accuracy this test might have in many of the areas that it is used for practical diagnosis.

Like you said, there may be a misunderstanding of how intelligence functions as well. At this point in time intelligence, as measured on an IQ test, is supposed to be unchanging, barring brain injury or something that impairs function considerably (which is why it goes to this assumption - that being a parent impairs function, rather than they didnt perform as well on a test).

Maybe its stress, maybe its the fact that becoming a parent forces you to relate to each other, the baby, and the world in a completely different way than before. It awakens the protective instinct and forces the parent to relate to the world literally THROUGH the love they have for their child. I've regularly work with "young mothers"(not the mother's age, but their status as a mom) for the last ten years, and it is a powerful change in their lives and a powerful force to behold...but nowhere would I question their intellectual ability.

It will be interesting to see how this study plays out over the years, since I assume the parents will be tested at various ages. With divorce, job changes, etc., I wonder what the overall results will show.

It is also very possible that the error is in the media reporting. Very frequently, a study has so much more to it than that makes things more clear as to method and results than what the media reports. The media likes to re-interpret, misinterpret, and be completely inaccurate in the way they report study results. Did they actually get this from a study or a press release from the Kinsey Institute? Sometimes, that happens too.

RPW said...

The IQ tests show that when a child is born, the part of the brain that makes one think objectively takes the biggest hit when it comes to losing brainpower. “This explains why every parent thinks their child is the smartest kid in class or the best athlete, even if that child is as dumb as a box of rocks or needs a calendar to time their forty-yard dash. People who before were intelligent and open-minded turn into raving lunatics who want to blame a teacher or coach every time their mediocre child fails,” said Lee.

Now this on the other hand is an irrational assumption and completely irresponsible connection for a scientist to make.

We are talking about taking something that was measured in the first six months in life and applying it to school-aged children. He didn't measure that. And IQ is not supposed to be related to emotional reaction.