Brain Training Doesn’t Make You Smarter

This pretty much upends the left’s approach to education: Brain Training Doesn’t Make You Smarter. The left wants to believe that costly intervention can make kids smarter, and that everyone is blank slate, but the empirical evidence doesn’t bear itself out.

It also agrees with my criticism of ‘cognitive enhancers’

Unfortunately, human biology restricts our ability to get smarter much more so than our ability to get stronger. A person can train to get stronger, with definitive results, but training to get smarter (as measured by an IQ test) is much harder, if not impossible.

From the article:

Jaeggi and colleagues have since published their own meta-analysis, and have come to the slightly more optimistic conclusion that brain training can increase IQ by 3 to 4 points. However, in the best studies in this meta-analysis—those that included a placebo control group—the effect of training was negligible.

So according to the meta-analysis, at best you can hope for a 3-4 point gain in IQ, but tests with a placebo control group show no gains.

Fluid intelligence is hard to change, but “crystallized” intelligence—a person’s knowledge and skills—is not. Learn how to play the piano or cook a new dish, and you have increased your crystallized intelligence. Of course, brain training isn’t free, either. According to one projection, people will spend $1.3 billion on brain training in 2014.

Notice how the article tries to hedge its initial premise with the red herring that is “crystallized” intelligence. But people with higher “fluid” intelligence learn faster and more efficiently, resulting in more skills and hence a higher “crystallized” intelligence.

Speed reading courses are also of dubious value. You can read faster and retain more, but only if you’re smarter, and what is considered ‘speed reading’ is often just skimming. Studies have shown that WPM with high comprehension peaks at around 500.

Once again, HBD is shown to be correct – as much as we may derive comfort from the mistaken belief we can make ourselves smarter, some people are indeed wired better than others.