Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Getting value for money in research


PISA has been in the news recently. It has a generous budget, a large staff, extensive offices, a skilled press division, and a smooth website, as befits a super-funded OECD organisation. Using all the resources at their disposal, they have come to the following conclusion: Vietnam has a scholastic score (all three scholastic test scores averaged) of SAS 515.67 which is almost identical to Germany whose SAS score is 515.33. So, the scholastic achievements of these two countries are nearly identical, with a very minor advantage for Vietnam, though both are better in scholastic terms than UK at 502.33. (p. 5)

This result is slightly puzzling, because some previous research by Jim Flynn found a Vietnamese IQ of 94, suggesting scholastic achievements in Vietnam would be lower than in Germany.






Flynn, 1991

In view of this, a researcher who had just published a study in Vietnam a few months ago was quite concerned that the powerhouse of the PISA machine would contradict his own findings. In his paper he had estimated an IQ of 99.43 for Vietnam  compared with an IQ of 99.13 for Germany. According to his calculations both countries were nearly identical, with a very minor advantage for Vietnam, but both were near to the intelligence levels of the UK.

Rindermann, H., Hoang, Q. S. N. & Baumeister, A. E. E. (2013). Cognitive
ability, parenting and instruction in Vietnam and Germany. Intelligence,
41, 366-377.

So, Rindermann got it right. His already published estimates were confirmed by the much larger and very much more expensive PISA study. (Incidentally, all these studies seem to suggest that the UK is punching below its IQ level in scholastic attainments).

How big was his research team? One assistant and a contact in Vietnam, one assistant and him in Germany. If you would like to send him a million dollars his details are below. You might just like to request a copy of his paper, for private study. (Incidentally, it is likely that most research is always done by very small groups of badly funded people, driven by a basic interest in their subject and following research opportunities wherever they arise. Value for money arises from lack of money, and a fundamental interest in facts for their own sake).

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should make it clear that Rindermann and I publish together from time to time, and that he is extremely productive, and very thorough. Teutonic, even. If you want to know what he thinks of American scholastic achievement, try the  chapter on “Flynn Effect in NAEP and narrowing ethnic gaps?” in the December special issue of Intelligence “The Flynn Effect Re-Evaluated”. You might also ask him for a copy of that, or at least a summary.

Prof. Dr. Heiner Rindermann
Professor f. Pädagogische u. Entwicklungspsychologie
TU Chemnitz, Institut f. Psychologie, Wilhelm-Raabe-Str. 43
D-09107 Chemnitz (Deutschland, Germany),
Professor for Educational and Developmental Psychology


  1. Well- meaning-amateur5 December 2013 at 00:28

    "(Incidentally, all these studies seem to suggest that the UK is punching below its IQ level in scholastic attainments)."

    Could that be a result of immigration?

    1. It could be, but it seems more likely to me that the Forces of Progress succeeded in their attempt to bugger up the schools. Hell, they've had fifty years at it.

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  3. Rindermann (2013) also points out that the study done by Lynn comes from lumping together mainland Southeast Asia (Vietnamese with Cambodians and Laotians who are known to score much lower and having a different culture.)

    Jason Malloy (2014) says it is a bogus score and writes:
    An anonymous scholar collected some RPM data in an anonymous city in West-Central America. Based on regional demographic data, Flynn surmises that those classified as Asian Americans in this study were possibly up to 60% mainland Southeast Asian, with many of these being recent refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It’s quite a stretch to re-classify a diverse American mish mash of Asian ethnic groups as “Vietnamese immigrants.”

    Malloy studies six Vietnamese American samples and gets an IQ score of 100,7

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