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Men are significantly cleverer than women?
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-07 05:30

LONDON: In August, two British academics announced that men are significantly cleverer than women and that male university students outstrip females by almost five IQ points. "Girls need manpower" and "IQ tests: women just don't get it" claimed the headlines.

The announcement was the latest round in a battle that has come to dominate psychology in recent years and has triggered countless workplace arguments and marital rows over the years.

In this case, the formidable nature of the statistics used by the study's authors Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn seemed to land a fairly hefty blow for the men-are-cleverer camp.

But not any more. Last week, the work of the two academics was denounced in startlingly fierce terms in the journal Nature just as a paper officially outlining their work was published in the British Journal of Psychology.

The attack which claims that Irwing and Lynn's work is "deeply flawed" is unusual. Science journals rarely attack studies at the same time as they are being published by a rival. Neither do they often use strong or intemperate terms.

Nevertheless, Nature insisted that its confrontational approach was justified. Supposed sex differences in IQ attract wide attention and are likely to be widely cited, it pointed out.

"We were made aware that Irwing and Lynn's results were based on a seriously flawed methodology, and had the opportunity to provide timely expert opinion when their paper became publicly available," said Tim Lincoln of Nature's News & Views section.

The author of the Nature article was even more critical. "Their study which claims to show major sex differences in IQ is simple, utter hogwash,' said Steve Blinkhorn, an expert on intelligence testing.

The study by Irwing, of Manchester University, and Lynn, an Ulster academic, examined dozens of previous studies of men's and women's IQs, research that had been carried out in different countries including Egypt, Belgium, Australia and the United States between 1964 and 2004 and published in a variety of different journals. Then they subjected these studies to an intense statistical analysis.

From this, the pair decided that their work showed men outnumber women in increasing numbers as intelligence levels rise. According to Irwing and Lynn, there are twice as many men with IQ scores of 125 a level typical for people with first-class degrees than women, while at the level of 155, an IQ associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman.

However, last week's publication of Blinkhorn's critique in Nature represents a major change in attitudes to their claims. He points to a number of "serious flaws" in the approach taken by Lynn and Irwing.

In particular, he says they chose to ignore a massive study, carried out in Mexico, which showed there was very little difference in the IQs of men and women.

(China Daily 11/07/2005 page1)

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