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Intelligence: All That Matters

(All That Matters)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  469 ratings  ·  54 reviews

There is a strange disconnect between the scientific consensus and the public mind on intelligence testing. Just mention IQ testing in polite company, and you'll sternly be informed that IQ tests don't measure anything "real", and only reflect how good you are at doing IQ tests; that they ignore important traits like "emotional intelligence" and "multiple intelligences"; a

Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published June 18th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  469 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfic-psych
Picture now, with me, a very-slightly-alternate universe.

In this other universe, most things are just as they are in ours. Humans themselves are no different. But the other universe differs from ours in one respect -- the way that its scientists conceive of physical fitness.

In our universe, we know -- in a casual, non-scientific (if not unscientific) way -- that there is such a thing as physical fitness. Some people are more fit than others. We recognize different levels of fitness, and refer to
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psych
The general verdict is that it is probably the best go to book for introducing someone to intelligence and related research now. It's somewhat better than Deary's similar, but somewhat dated (2001) book, and it's less technical than Gottfredson's great 1997 article, and much shorter than The Bell Curve, which is also notably dated by now.

Full review here:
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Calm empirical overview. Incredibly clearly written, stopping short of off-puttingly plain.

Is the g theory of intelligence the most mature, replicated theory in psychology? 100 years old and ever-replicating; language- and culture-blind by now; at least somewhat predictive of some terminal values... What can compete? Operant conditioning, I guess.

This book is part of the "All that Matters" series - a coincidental subtitle which has no doubt enraged many people and caused him no end of grief.

I h
Jurij Fedorov
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pro: Good and very compact overview of intelligence and what we know about it. It's very basic and only mentions the facts and sources. No long discussions or extra facts on all the different areas. All areas except race are covered. So it's a great introduction to intelligence that everyone should read. Even though it skips a whole area of the science.

Con: Not always interesting to read it but for the interesting knowledge in it. No personal stories about the author, no funny anecdotes or wordp
Brian Cloutier
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Short and sweet, with an impressive collection of references at the end. There are very few surprises in this book, but it's well-written and it's a useful map which points in the right direction to learn more about any of the topics discussed.

I talk down a lot of books for being much longer than they needed to be so it's only fair that I mention this book is exactly as long as it needs to be, it's been shrunk down to a little nugget of knowledge you can read in an afternoon.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super short book about Intelligence and IQ tests, very well organized, well written. I’m not convinced it tells the whole story, but it seems like a good summary. I’d like to see a bigger more detailed version of the book, published by a mainstream publisher, so I could also read critical/thoughtful reviews.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A good short intro to research on intelligence and influence of various factors like genetics and education.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
A bit too celebratory of social stratification based on innate qualities.
Sandy Maguire
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a quick, interesting read. I've found myself estimating the IQ of people around me since reading it; though I'm not sure that's necessarily good for me or my relationships. Nevertheless, it's fun, and I wouldn't be doing it if I hadn't read this book. Give it a go, it will only take an hour or two, and you'll probably come away knowing a thing or two. ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A short primer on what IQ is, how it is measured, and its history. This a very nice, compact summary of the field circa 2015. It presents the ideas clearly and simply, with plenty of sources (including further books to read that are both skeptical and supportive of the idea of IQ). It covers what IQ is correlated with, by how much, and what this can mean (which also includes, why study IQ and intelligence at all?).

I thought the author did a good job of summarizing what we know carefully and expl
Riley Haas
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I am of a generation where skepticism over IQ was widespread. I don't know where it comes from exactly but I know that it is everywhere. Essentially I was raised with the idea that IQ had been "debunked". The reason I read this book is because I got into an argument with someone and afterwards I did some googling and saw that i appeared to be completely wrong. I saw an article by Ritchie about this topic and then found my way to this book.
So, first, about that subtitle: at no point does the book
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to intelligence and related research. Short, well-written, and non-technical, although it deftly communicates important (and sometimes subtle) statistical concepts.

Ritchie understandably skips over the toxic and scandal-prone area of intelligence differences between groups.

I'm not a cognitive psychology scholar, but Ritchie seems to make another important omission for an introductory book. Namely, when discussing the effects of education, he fails to address the issue of im
Jarin Jove
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is useful in clearing away misconceptions about intelligence research that have been popularized in Social Media and Liberal-leaning media outlets. One of the most shocking facts presented in this book is Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences has no basis in scientific research; at best, Musical Intelligence may be different from General Intelligence (G-Factor) but there are mixed results even there from the scientific studies. Studies on the so-called Multiple Intelligences has foun ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A short and lucid introduction to the science of intelligence and IQ. He sticks to the consensus views on the field, is very accessible, and has a nice section at the end detailing further sources of information, ranging from authors to books to papers, all neatly arranged in categories.

For anyone interested in the importance of IQ-- this is the best place to start. For anyone looking for more in-depth or obscure information on IQ, look elsewhere. This is an introduction, not a deep dive. He ha
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the more important books I’ve read in my life. Very disquieting, as it starkly informed me of the limits of self-improvement and education. I wish genius was a matter of effort, for then I could become a genius if only I tried hard enough! Sadly, there seems to be hard genetic limits, resistant to any modern form of remediation, on our intelligence. Until somatic gene therapy comes along, we are what we are, and much of what we are can be summed up pretty neatly by three cruel digits.
Lucy Goodchild
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really well written introduction to intelligence and IQ. Intelligently written, well structured and full of evidence-based information. What impressed me the most was the author's scientific approach to the evidence - particularly his treatment of uncertainty, which is sadly lacking in many such books. I also loved the "alternative" reading list at the end. Definitely recommended! ...more
Cyrus Xi
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
An excellent introduction to intelligence, how it matters, and why various misconceptions are misconceptions. Studies & references galore.
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my favourite book to say the least. There were too many facts and information that I got bored and it didn't help my position paper topic. ...more
Bob In
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
From reading Intelligence, subtitle All That Matters. Stuart Ritchie. McGraw-Hill, 2015. ISBN 9 781444 791877

In the 1960s, the Norwegian government (p 92) decided to add two extra years to the mandatory curriculum for all pupils.Two additional pieces of good luck allowed researches, who came on the scene much later, to turn this into a test of the effects of schooling on IQ.

First, the reform was implemented across the different parts of Norway in a staggered way – it happened in some areas year
Searching my own mind while reading the book I encountered a fair bit of discomfort. It was not always the case.

Recalling my own experience as a grade schooler the fact that some of my fellow classmates handedly outperform me on various tasks is intuitive and uncontroversial (if not frustrating). That pre-political mind of mine seemed to have no issue recognizing differences in abilities.

I've come across some criticism of intelligence research over the last few years. A generalizable feature o
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you've ever heard, or made the argument "IQ tests don't measure anything except how one well performs IQ tests," this book is the counter-argument; a concise introduction to the literature on the subject of general intelligence and the history of intelligence testing. This book is full of references and has an extensive section for further reading on the subject.

Some subjects were kind of glossed over near the end, but that might just have been to keep the book within a certain scope as an in
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Great book! And I recommend everyone to read it!

But one (tiny) mistake:

"the parietal and frontal areas need to send information between one another. To do that, they rely on another kind of brain tissue, the white matter”. White matter cells – so-called because of the white-coloured insulation material, myelin, that surrounds their long, tendril-like axons".

Nope. White matter cells don't exist. Any cell is grey matter. White matter refers only to the axons.
Bartley Sharkey
Very interesting book that got straight to the point, without ruminating too much about some of the controversial aspect of IQ and IQ measurement. I came away with a couple of thoughts, like if IQ tends to have some a defining role in people's lives, why does it seem to be mostly ignored and considered so taboo? Or is it something that actually plays a much larger and more defining role in some people's lives? ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Provides a good, brief overview of state-of-the-art research into IQ, g and testing, explaining a lot of misconceptions. I think I understand the debate over it a lot better now. I didn't understand the difference between IQ and g before, so it was helpful. Good, clear, easy writing. Author isn't afraid to admit he doesn't know the answers to some questions when there's no scientific consensus. ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read. Dr Ritchie covers the scientific as well as the cultural aspects of intelligence research, both of which are necessary in an introduction to such a politically hot topic. I’ve learned a lot, and will continue to do so with the extensive list of recommendations in the back of the book.
M. A.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gives (what I think is) a good high-level conservative overview of consensus intelligence research and (this is IMO the best part) refers the reader to hundreds of deeper sources if they want to survey the field and its controversy.
Sarthak Singhal
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good overview

Probably I have read a lot about IQ but would have liked to learn more. Like the author sticking to scientific method and providing correlation factor for every study.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Not very novel but does what it states, a well written clear and short introduction to the topic of intelligence.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An extremely well written book. It's extremely short and really detailed. ...more
Olivia Townsend
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
Good and unbiased introduction on intelligence research!
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