Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Thailand Gets Serious About IQ   posted by Jason Malloy @ 8/16/2005 01:44:00 PM

After yesterday’s interview with Lee Kuan Hew comes another example of Asia’s determination to enter the developed world. Bangkok’s The Nation reports on Thailand’s effort to get to the bottom of its low IQ (Govt to Map Country’s Intelligence):

“A project using demographic maps to identify areas of iodine-deficiency and low intelligence are being drawn on the belief there is a connection between the two. In all, the Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health will draw three maps in an effort to combat low intelligence, after it a study found the average IQ level among many youths was lower than 80.

Two of the maps will focus on iodine deficiency: one depicting the average level of iodine in pregnant women and another showing the percentage of people who have access to iodised salt in each area.

A third map will focus on the average IQ level among children in every province.”

This of course is in line with the Copenhagen Consensus which suggested that more action into raising cognitive abilities by combating malnutrition (an idea associated with Richard Lynn) was one of the best ways to improve the lot of developing countries. The Nation reported on the data that pushed this initiative a few years ago (IQ Survey 'Cause for Alarm'):

” . . . a National Health Examination Survey team released a report just before Children's Day last month that the average IQ of Thai school children, based on tests in 1997 on 3,846 schoolchildren between six and 12 years old was a poor 91.96 . . . "When other countries monitor the IQ scores of their children, they want them to reach their full potential. But intelligence has never been a national policy objective for human development in our country."

Although Thailand's IQ average falls well within the 80-95 range for Southeast Asia, it still falls short of the average 100, achieved by developed nations and East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea

. . . some findings of the IQ survey are too shocking to ignore. Of the children tested, 8.5 per cent could be classified as mentally retarded (IQ of below 70), compared with the 2-3 per-cent global average . . . in the case of the North . . . the figure was as high as 16.4 per cent.

Disease, heavy-metal poisoning and malnutrition, such as iron or iodine deficiencies, can have serious affects on child development . . .”

It's good to see a modernizing country take intelligence seriously, and hopefully their efforts will pay off and set a model for other developing nations. The data also lend further support to the reliability of international IQ scores. For instance, the recent study discussed above was not included in IQ & the Wealth of Nations, because it was released in the same year as the book (2002), but Lynn and Vanhanen did find and include an earlier report from Thailand. The data from a 1989 sample of 8 to 10 year olds on the Colored Progressive Matrices indicated an IQ of 91, which is the same as the 1997 score even with a decade between the two measurements. This is tyical as the reliability correlation reported in IQ&tWoN for nations where data from more than one IQ study was available was .94.