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What are the public policy implications of the black/white IQ test score gap? Flynn reiterated that he thinks that the main problem is that the cognitively impoverished black teenage subculture must be transformed. As an example, Flynn referenced his own background as Irish-American which he claimed also did not value intellectual achievement. He then offered an anecdote in which he contrasted the attitudes of Chinese, Jewish and black families toward academic accomplishment. According to Flynn, Chinese children come home and sit down and do their homework and their parents help. In Jewish households there is a lot of screaming, but eventually the kids sit down and do their homework. In black families, a kid sits down to do his homework and Dad comes home and says, “Hey, why don’t we go out back and shoot a couple of baskets.” “Children can tell the difference in parental enthusiasm for sports versus books,” he noted. As a self-avowed socialist, Flynn is in favor of dramatically expanding all sorts of color-blind state interventions. For example, he wants government drop-in centers where parents of every race and class could bring their children for educational enrichment. He also said that he wanted to see more book clubs in the black community.
Murray, on the other hand, does not believe that there is much evidence that government educational interventions beyond some reasonably adequate level can permanently boost IQ test scores. Murray’s preferred policy is to forget group averages and encourage private and public institutions to treat people as individuals.
No matter who turns out to be right in the nature versus nurture debate over why there is a gap in black/white IQ scores, the idea that we must strive to treat every person as an individual, not as a representative of some group or other, seems right to me.
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.