It is unusual for a British politician to mention IQ. It is seen as a difficult subject, likely to draw criticism and lose votes. The basic rule is that you must flatter your audience. Phrases like “Of course, you-the-British-public are far too intelligent; far, far too intelligent to fall for the rubbish being offered to you by my opponent” are more suited to buttering up voters.
Giving the annual Margaret Thatcher lecture, the Mayor of London has drawn a distinction between the 16% of the population below IQ 85 and the 2% of the population above IQ 130. Apart from some inelegant phrasing, he was right to say that the former have more of an uphill struggle than the latter, who tend to get better jobs and earn more, often far more in a global economy. I have not been able to get the full speech, but just before the IQ comments he makes it clear that he saw intellectual worth as being different from spiritual worth.
So, cue outrage from many quarters. Not surprising, because the higher earnings of brighter people depend upon an open market economy, and that always has its detractors. More surprising was to be interviewed by The Guardian, which is usually a critic of IQ, but which faithfully reproduced the basic points I was making. Is this little blog beginning to get read, even among journalists? I hardly dare hope. As to the headline they used, I was criticising only the phrasing of the Mayor’s remarks, but not the reality of the findings to which he alluded.
Had I thought of it at the time, I would have asked the amiable journalists to read the following posts, which refer in part to the relationship between IQ and wealth.
Or you could just read Linda Gottfredson’s (1997) “Why g matters” http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997whygmatters.pdf
Can you pass on these links to a journalist you know?