Race and I.Q. Debate Blanks Slate*

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Slate's science and technology columnist, Will Saletan, is now stumbling back from the race/IQ buzz saw. Last week, Saletan ran a series of columns in which he attempted to assess the evidence for and against genetic differences in the average IQs of various ethnic groups. Among other evidence, Saletan cited:

On average, Asian-American kids have bigger brains than white American kids, who in turn have bigger brains than black American kids. This is true even though the order of body size and weight runs in the other direction. The pattern holds true throughout the world and persists at death, as measured by brain weight.

According to twin studies, 50 percent to 90 percent of variation in head size and brain volume is genetic. And when it comes to IQ, size matters. The old science of head measurements found a 20 percent correlation of head size with IQ. The new science of MRI finds at least a 40 percent correlation of brain size with IQ. One analysis calculates that brain size could easily account for five points of the black-white IQ gap.

I know, it sounds crazy. But if you approach the data from other directions, you get the same results.

Not surprisingly, the blogosphere went wild. Now Saletan has issued a statement of regret about his speculations. To wit:

Most of the reaction to what I wrote has been over whether the genetic hypothesis is true, with me as an expert witness.I don't want this role. I'm not an expert. I think it's misleading to dismiss the scenario, as some officials have done in response to Watson. But my attempts to characterize the evidence beyond that, even with caveats such as "partial," "preliminary," and "prima facie," have backfired. I outlined the evidence primarily to illustrate the limits of the genetic hypothesis. If it turns out to be true, it will be in a less threatening form than you might imagine.

I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels. If it turns out that Asians are the smartest group on average, does that mean that we should put Asians in charge of everything? Saletan is right when he says any such finding about average ethnic differences in IQ would be far "less threatening than you might imagine."

As I have argued in other contexts:

The modern ideals of democracy and political equality are sustained chiefly by the insight, developed by Enlightenment thinkers, that people are responsible moral agents who can distinguish right from wrong and therefore deserve equal consideration before the law and a respected place in our political community. The broad ability to distinguish right from wrong does not depend on the genetics of IQ, skin color, or gender. With respect to political equality, genetic differences are already differences that make no difference.

An interesting New York Time article on the kerfuffle here.

*just couldn't resist straining after (and admittedly missing) the blank slate metaphor.

NEXT: Less Immigration = More Taxes?

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  1. I could swear I remember reading that there was a negative correlation between individual brain size (as opposed to species-average) and intelligence.

  2. Oh Lord, this is going to be a fun thread.

  3. I really liked the comments where people stated that of course there’s no genetic difference between the races (race is an atifact) and defend the right of african americans to have medications conccocted specifically for them.

  4. Just to pre-respond to an expected future posting on this thread –

    Chalupa, you’re a fuckin’ idiot.

  5. The devotion to the concept of the blank slate demonstrates one of the central defects in political reasoning. People start with the political outcome they desire and then reason backwards altering or excluding empirical evidence that they believe does not support their political conclusion they want.

    Religious creationist do exactly this, tossing out evidence that does not lead to their desired theological and political outcome. Slaten was keenly accurate when he labeled the rabid rejection of biologically based differences in behavior as “Liberal Creationism.”

    I have long noted that the intellectual and social processes of the modern Leftist look exactly like those of the Christian Fundamentalist I grew up with. As long as people let social and political concerns trump empiricism, they’re in the same intellectual boat.

  6. J Sub D-

    You forgot to say the same thing to the soulless wind up French monkey who shall not be named

  7. Ron Bailey, How about “Slate Blanks Race/IQ Debate”?

    Otherwise, 10 foot pole etc.

  8. people are responsible moral agents who can distinguish right from wrong

    This is independent of raw intelligence. I had a friend who, many years ago, taught on a voluntary basis at the state prison in Canon City, Colorado; we were talking about it one day, and he said some of the smartest, as well as some of the dumbest, people he had ever encountered were in that prison.

  9. Why won’t somebody do an IQ/brain size/whatever study on politicians?

  10. I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels?

    The vast disparity between wealth and SES of black and white people is often pointed to as evidence that there are systemic problems in our society and economy that promote and maintain the effects of racism.

    Many people, such as Charles Murray, use claims of innate black inferiority to counter this assertion, to claim that the lower median SES (the average black household having 1/10 the wealth of the average white household) is a consequence of black inferiorty, so we should stop looking for other causes and accept that status quo as is.

    And the rejection of theories of black inferiority among liberals only looks like creationism if you don’t bother to look at the strength of the evidence. When the bible your anthropological theory is something that has been as thoroughly discredited as “The Bell Curve,” while the carbon dating keeps coming back right on the fossils that keep being dug up, we’re talking about a set of differences that go beyond the blue/red argument.

  11. Why won’t somebody do an IQ/brain size/whatever study on politicians?

    because testing on animals is morally wrong?

  12. This is independent of raw intelligence. I had a friend who, many years ago, taught on a voluntary basis at the state prison in Canon City, Colorado; we were talking about it one day, and he said some of the smartest, as well as some of the dumbest, people he had ever encountered were in that prison.

    Thats very true. I’m sure Stalin had a very high IQ. I’m sure Kim Jung Il does, too. It doesn’t make them people you would want in your society.

  13. Nice to see the head size/IQ correlation, as my 10 month old Danny has a Ginormous noggin.

  14. but hewing to the blank slate by liberals does look a lot like creationism. sounds like it, too, especially when you get into the gender stuff.

    that their douchey red counterparts take fact x and fact y to turn it into policy A has little to do with fact x and fact y.

    now i know this is the part where you tell me it’s the republicans fault because democrats can’t help themselves and etc etc and all but whatevs.

  15. also this would be a good time to cue chalupa et al for a good ole fashion OH NOES NEGROES post.

    as above so below.

  16. joe,

    I can tell you’ve never actually read the Bell Curve or even the short introduction.

    And the rejection of theories of black inferiority among liberals only looks like creationism if you don’t bother to look at the strength of the evidence.

    That is myth. If you restrict you sample to just black and white populations in the US you can point to many non-genetic factors that skews the results. If, however, you take a planetary perspective that defense breaks down. Asians come out on top of IQ test consistently even though, based on environmental explanations they should not.

    If you accept the idea of materialistic evolution then you must accept the idea that significant differences exist between individuals and groups. Variation, differences drive evolution. If no variation exist, then no evolution could occur.

    The idea that different humans beings separated into discrete genetic populations in different environments for at least 10,000 years nevertheless all evolved with exactly the same set of mental strengths and weaknesses is silly on its face.

  17. The political effects on nondiscrimination and affirmative action laws could conceivably go either way as a result of scientific findings on average equality versus inequality between different identifiable groups of people, and as Ron points out, that shouldn’t be the basis of supporting or opposing such laws, anyway. Nevertheless, the effect joe describes is most certainly what is being feared.

  18. Funny how the libertarian ideal of a minimal government would pretty much eliminate the need for these debates regarding public policy, isn’t it?

    Anyway, genetic differences tend to vary more within “races” (which isn’t well defined anyway) than between “races”. What that means is that average performance tells you nothing about individual performance.

  19. Here’s a wacky idea: judge people on their individual characteristics.

  20. Here’s a wacky idea: judge people on their individual characteristics.

    Thank you, BakedPenguin. When I interact with another person I don’t demand his standardized test scores to determine what kind of human being he is.

  21. Here’s a wacky idea: judge people on their individual characteristics.

    Of course you’d say that. You have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter!

  22. Why won’t somebody do an IQ/brain size/whatever study on politicians?

    because testing on animals is morally wrong?

    dhex wins the thread!

  23. IQ tests measure how well you take IQ tests. Not a damned thing more.

    But y’all knew that, right?

  24. Don’t forget self ownership. A person doesn’t own himself any more or less because of his IQ.

    Eugenics is a statist philosophy and its greatest evil is not its scientific findings on race but its base assumptions that people breed for the purpose of empowering the state and that optimizing such breeding is a state function.

  25. Why won’t somebody do an IQ/brain size/whatever study on politicians?

    because testing on animals is morally wrong?

    dhex wins the thread!

    But he’s insulting animals.

  26. should [we] put Asians in charge of everything?

    Yes. And let’s get ourselves an emperor while we’re at it. I will regret, however, being called a running dog by my new overlords.

  27. Everyone wins the thread!

  28. I think more than anything, most people who disregard any evidence of genetic differences between races (whatever those differences may be) disregard them because they are scared what any conclusive difference would mean. Less government control/influence in our lives would make any differences less meaningful.

  29. You say gerfluffle, they say kerfuffle. I think this word, with either spelling, is too damn cute for its own good. Shall we retire it?

    Oh, and if brain size helps determine IQ, that proves women are, in general, dumber than men. Right? What’s the size of Will Saleton’s head, anyway? I always thought he wrote like a girl.

  30. I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels?

    An end or at least a drastic reduction to affirmative action programs might be one result.

    In other words, it’s not a question of what to do, it’s a question of what not to do. Fewer double standards, less government interference, more meritocracy.

  31. dhex,

    I will admit that blank-slatism is, itself, a matter of faith to many people. But adherence to blank-slatism does not describe the beliefs of most people who don’t accept the theories of the innate inferiority of black people.

    Shannon,

    I can tell you’ve never actually read the Bell Curve or even the short introduction. You mean you can pull that guess out of your ass, and be wrong. I’ve read the introduction, I’ve read many articles lauding it, and I’ve read many criticisms from other researchers who made mincemeat of the shady techniques and outright misdirection the authors used to defend their pre-determined conclusion.

  32. Maybe this is not quite related, but I was watching an author on C-SPAN this weekend talking about how Asians were treated in California many years ago, with no property rights and being heald in slavery, especially in San Francisco. Even being returned to their captors when they escaped to Seattle, etc.

    Aren’t there a few confirmed reports about Asians being discriminated against today in the admissions standards for Californis State colleges?

    Perhaps this is yet another front on attacking Asians for no good reason. Idunno, all of these stories seem to belnd together into the same pattern.

  33. J sub D: right on. I don’t know if IQ tests measure anything meaningful. Recently there was a NY Times article that said autistic children score much higher on IQ tests if they don’t have to respond verbally to a questioner (surprise!) How “smart” you score depends enormously on context.

  34. Affirmative Action should be ended no matter what some standardized test says.

  35. The racial theory proponents are engaging in their favorite bit of misdirection: creating a straw-man argument by accusing people who reject the theory that people of different races have innate, genetic, measureable differences in intelligence of rejecting much broader, non-controversial ideas.

    From Shannon Love, we get a longwinged defense of the unquestioned statement “Populations that evolved differently will have genetic differences.”

    From Reinmoose, we get a meditation on the motives of “people who disregard any evidence of genetic differences between races.”

    Anybody here dispute the fact that white people score higher on IQ test than black people?

    Anyone here dispute the fact that whte and black populations have genetic differences?

  36. First, I thought intelligence was correlated to brain surface area (how wrinkly it is) rather than volume (head size).

    Second, I think that blank slaters are a much smaller minority among lefties than creationists. Most people understand there’s a genetic AND environmental factor. The science backs this up as well (see breast milk study). The degree to which environmental factors matter is debatable though.

    That is myth. If you restrict you sample to just black and white populations in the US you can point to many non-genetic factors that skews the results. If, however, you take a planetary perspective that defense breaks down. Asians come out on top of IQ test consistently even though, based on environmental explanations they should not.

    Yeah, but planet wide perspectives have all sorts of problems for making any sort of comment re: African decent. These numbers always follow the Asian numbers when talking global trends. Plus, the methodology of Asian studies tend to skew towards urban populations, which has an upward bias.

    Interestingly, related to the problems of the tests themselves, my girlfriend wrote a paper on cognitive tests. They replaced some words in the test with gibberish words that were defined in the exam. The results found that a lot of the black-white gap vanished. Now it’s still in the process of getting published and peer reviewed, but it’s very interesting.

    Oh and what BakedPenguin said.

  37. I have a new theory of intelligence. Intelligence is positively correlated with your propensity to eat sushi.

  38. I don’t know if IQ tests measure anything meaningful.

    As a lad, I took two Iq test about 6 months apart. There was 6% difference in the scores.
    I have my doubts that I got 6% smarter in that time.

  39. Aren’t there a few confirmed reports about Asians being discriminated against today in the admissions standards for Californis State colleges?

    Considering that about 32% of UC students are Asian and 12% of Californians are Asian. I find that to be highly unlikely.

  40. Anybody here dispute the fact that white people score higher on IQ test than black people?

    Anyone here dispute the fact that whte and black populations have genetic differences?

    How about this.

    1) It’s likely that there are differencecs in the average intelligences of different races.

    2) It’s also likely that those differences are so far below the noise level that we’re just stroking off trying to quantify it.

  41. And, of course, the accusation that rejecting racial theories of intelligence means one is arguing in favor of the “blank slate” idea is yet another straw man.

  42. This is independent of raw intelligence. I had a friend who, many years ago, taught on a voluntary basis at the state prison in Canon City, Colorado; we were talking about it one day, and he said some of the smartest, as well as some of the dumbest, people he had ever encountered were in that prison.

    Thats very true. I’m sure Stalin had a very high IQ. I’m sure Kim Jung Il does, too. It doesn’t make them people you would want in your society.

    Apologies in advance for the big “Me Too,” but Steven Pinker covers the political implications (and, in some cases, lack thereof) of racial I.Q. stats, sociopaths, and the dangerously self-righteous in-guess where?-The Blank Slate.

    Funny how the libertarian ideal of a minimal government would pretty much eliminate the need for these debates regarding public policy, isn’t it?

    Yes, exactly-and we’re just a bunch of anti-intellectual slackers to want to simplify public-policy debate.

  43. This is independent of raw intelligence. I had a friend who, many years ago, taught on a voluntary basis at the state prison in Canon City, Colorado; we were talking about it one day, and he said some of the smartest, as well as some of the dumbest, people he had ever encountered were in that prison.

    This may not be the case. Lawrence Kohlberg did research suggesting a positive correlation between IQ and moral development in the young. , as well as a positive correlation between IQ and moral behavior in the young. His research was done forty years ago and may well be out of date, but it’s an interesting thought.

  44. Anybody here dispute the fact that white people score higher on IQ test than black people?

    Anyone here dispute the fact that whte and black populations have genetic differences?

    I do not have enough knowledge as to confidently answer either of those questions.

  45. When I interact with another person I don’t demand his standardized test scores to determine what kind of human being he is.

    Uh, I do.

  46. I am declaring myself the most intelligent person on this thread (obviously), but I am from Uranus, so it doesn’t really settle anything.

  47. I have a new theory of intelligence. Intelligence is positively correlated with your propensity to eat sushi.

    Considering the evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in intelligence, that may not be that far off the mark.

  48. If the Chinese are so friggin smart then how come they are so much poorer then me?

    Yes this is a joke…Americans are not particularly smarter then the rest of the world…they just have really good institutions that tend to protect individual liberties and property better then everyone else…(Wouldn’t be nice if Democrats got around to extending these institutions to urban blacks in America?)

    I really do not understand why this discussion is so common among libertarians…Cato Unbound had this same discussion and I really could not see the liberty angle of all this.

  49. This has been thus far the most intelligent discussion about IQ ever had on this board. No trolling, no transparent racism, no OH NOES SPICS AND NEGROES! I’m impressed.

  50. Episiarch | December 3, 2007, 1:34pm | #
    I am declaring myself the most intelligent person on this thread (obviously), but I am from Uranus, so it doesn’t really settle anything.

    So, you’re a Klingon, then?

  51. I am declaring myself the most intelligent person on this thread (obviously), but I am from Uranus,

    You are aware of what else is from my anus, aren’t you.

    You asked for it.

  52. HA! TOO SLOW, J sub. TOO SLOW.

    *POURS A TALL GLASS OF DINGLEBERRY WINE FOR HIM*

  53. Off topic alert!

    Viking Moose –
    You nust be so proud.

  54. YAY!
    magnificent!!

    (although, the Swedes disappoint, as it should be anatomically correct. But isn’t. hrumph)

    hier is the web site!

  55. Generalized IQ trends which correlate to other genetic or “racial” characteristics may be fascinating, but I find them to be meaningful, or useful, in much the same way as numerology and astrology are useful.

    That is, less useful than Trojan Mooses.

  56. VM, I saw it in the local rag and immediately thought of you.

  57. Mooses with Trojans?

    thx J sub!

  58. Read about your moose in some local page. Didn’t mention your name, didn’t mention your name.

  59. You are aware of what else is from my anus, aren’t you.

    IM in uR ANUS PAking ur FUdGe

    OK, that’s almost too much even for me.

  60. “I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels? If it turns out that Asians are the smartest group on average, does that mean that we should put Asians in charge of everything?”

    No, but it does mean that racial quotas for top colleges are doing a disservice to everyone.

  61. And, of course, the accusation that rejecting racial theories of intelligence means one is arguing in favor of the “blank slate” idea is yet another straw man.

    though that is sometimes the case, at least in the sound and fury of what passes for public debate in america, as you noted. i don’t like it any more than you do, joe (ok i like it a little bit more probably) but part of it is a mirror reverse of aquinian essentialism; though i think the good doctor was in his own weird way created a very apt metaphor to describe how people think about any number of things. (i.e. take a look at folks getting hissy about cloning, or the advertising that surrounds organic products. i spend a lot of time reading advertising and packaging copy, it’s a hobby of mine.)

    i tend to lean towards j sub d’s second point, that the difference is so small that it’s basically noise. but the rhetoric around this stuff is indeed quite fascinating. and sometimes vile, since you get a chalupa-esque “clearly the cops shooting people in poor neighborhoods has nothing to do with anything” type scenarios. it’s a self-feeding cycle that can probably only be solved with MASS MURDER and MANDATORY REEDUCATION run by ME and the MexicanGovernment in conjunction with the CorporationForPublicBroadcasting and the help of the NorthAmericanSuperHighway.

  62. “No, but it does mean that racial quotas for top colleges are doing a disservice to everyone”

    Shit, I could have told you that.

  63. If it turns out that Asians are the smartest group on average, does that mean that we should put Asians in charge of everything?

    No, but it does mean that if Asians turn up in charge of everything, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that it’s due to pervasive discrimination and unconscious racism against whites (or anyone else).

  64. One conclusion that can certainly be drawn: you need a lot less material to make hats for Ron Paul’s supporters than for most other candidates’ supporters.

  65. Aren’t there a few confirmed reports about Asians being discriminated against today in the admissions standards for Californis State colleges?

    Considering that about 32% of UC students are Asian and 12% of Californians are Asian. I find that to be highly unlikely.

    It wouldn’t be unlikely if there were an “Asian quota” (like the infamous Jewish quotas that Ivy League schools used to impose) artificially holding Asians down to 33% of the slots, when otherwise they might amount to, say, 50% of the students at UC.

  66. I think that studying IQ differences between races is important insofar as it may have some impact on evolutionary theory, but to translate any differences of intelligence between races into political theory and practice is unwise.
    Isn’t the goal of a libertarian society to eradicate the institutions and policies that divide us, and to establish a system that treats us all equally under the law?

  67. Edward, I’ve said this before:
    Go take a shit on your own face.
    Then piss on the shit on your face.

  68. Oh, Jamie, you’re so witty! A sign of high intelligence, I’m sure.

  69. “Asians were treated in California many years ago, with no property rights and being held in slavery”

    Oh shit. More reparations.

    CB

  70. “I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels?”

    I am puzzled by what this sentence is supposed to mean; would you mind fixing it?

    Rasp (New Nation News)

  71. The question is what policy would actually change depending on new information about average IQs.

  72. joe,

    I take it from your screams of “strawman” that you agree with the following:

    (1)Evolutionary theory predicts that genetic differences in mental capacity must exist between individuals and groups of individuals.

    (2) Cross-cultural testing shows empirically that aggregate difference exist between different groups of humans that evolved in different parts of the world.

    Be warned, just stating those two rather obvious facts will get you burned at the stake in most universities. Just ask Larry Sumner.

  73. A few points.
    1) The worth of a human being is not determined by IQ alone. “Inferiority” is not the right word to use to describe IQ differences.
    2) No one is disturbed by the “superiority” of blacks at the 100 metre. Which is indisputable.
    3) Whatever IQ measures is highly predictive of life outcomes; income, illegitimacy rates, educational attainment and crime rates.
    4) A scientifically accurate understanding of IQ differences could be helpful in forming better social policies.
    5) Race is a pysiological, genetic reality with differential rates of diseases for different racial groups and different responses to medications for different groups.

  74. For those who blindly fall into the head size=intelligence debacle, do recall that the brains of Neanderthals were about 20% larger than modern humans…

  75. No, but it does mean that if Asians turn up in charge of everything, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that it’s due to pervasive discrimination and unconscious racism against whites (or anyone else).

    Obviously you’ve never been pulled over in Irvine.

    (1)Evolutionary theory predicts that genetic differences in mental capacity must exist between individuals and groups of individuals.

    (2) Cross-cultural testing shows empirically that aggregate difference exist between different groups of humans that evolved in different parts of the world.

    (1) It doesn’t indicate where higher intelligence will be demanded. One could make the case that aboriginal people would have bad test-taking skills and higher average intelligence, holding diet constant. Why? Because they are in a more Darwinian environment where being dumb is deadly and the don’t have social welfare systems to support the inferior. Also, it’s debatable how much could have changed above the level of noise in a scant 5-10 thousand years. The Galapagos Islands have been around longer than mankind, for example.

    (2) All testing shows is that different populations are better at test taking. There’s significant variance within subgroups and individuals for these tests. what they measure is a major area of debate as well.

  76. For those who blindly fall into the head size=intelligence debacle, do recall that the brains of Neanderthals were about 20% larger than modern humans…

    Their brains were significantly smaller, though. Also, proportion matters as well.

  77. Blah blee bloop, gabba gabba wah wah.

    Sorry, I meant to say “they weren’t significantly larger,”

  78. Even if the mean is correct, what about the distribution? Is it a tall steep bell curve, or a low flat bell curve? Is it even a bell curve at all? There are maybe hundreds of millions of above average blacks that are smarter than the average asian. And vice versa for below average asians. Trying to draw any conclusions from this data is a worthless endeavor.

  79. Crap, did I say brains? I meant skull cavities…

    It was probably because my brain cavity feels about two sizes too small after last night’s Steelers game.

    Alcohol and a shitty start to a divisional rival do not mix…

  80. what they measure is a major area of debate as well.

    While I agree it is still subject for debate, it definitely is a useful measure. As someone who works in a technical field, the kids we hire who had the highest test scores tend to be the most creative and talented. Yes, a lot of other factors play in, such as ability to play well with others, ability to communicate, ambition, etc, but the test results clearly correlate with something that helps on the job.

  81. Mo,

    All testing shows is that different populations are better at test taking.

    Except that the ability to take this particular test strongly correlates to educational success and general achievement in the modern developed world. “Intelligence” in this context by definition means scoring well on various IQ test.

    The entire question is why some individuals or groups perform differently on the test and the task that test correlate with. We have three explanations: (1) Genetic variation between individuals and groups (2) Cultural difference in the valuation of skills measured by the test and (3) the active oppression of one group by another.

    Empirically, all three factors come into play but only (3) is allowed in polite society. Suggesting (1) or (2) even as minor contributing factors gets people fired or blacklisted.

    We hold individuals and institutions legally accountable for not producing perfectly symmetrical outcomes for all arbitrary groupings of people regardless of the underlying biological or cultural asymmetries.

    It’s not fair and it’s actively harmful to many its supposed to help.

  82. In case it hasn’t been posted yet.

    An excellent critique of the slate Saletan articles.
    http://bactra.org/weblog/546.html

  83. Every trimester The House Blond nails the Principals Award For Outstanding Academic Achievement. Katie and the Asian kids stand up there and rake in all the academic awards.

    Then comes the second tier awards for being nice, perfect attendance, hall monitor, and teacher’s snitch. It ain’t the Asian kids getting those.

  84. It could just be as Sowell says, Asian families have really high expectations for their kids. Or it could be genetic. Or it could be both. But there *is* some reason why UC Berkeley, a school that actively discriminates against Asians, has a huge Asian student population that is way out of proportion to Asian numbers in the general population.

  85. Empirically, all three factors come into play but only (3) is allowed in polite society. Suggesting (1) or (2) even as minor contributing factors gets people fired or blacklisted.

    Which, I guess, would be why we’re not having this very discussion.

    Er, wait…

  86. Incidentally, there’s far more than three possible explanations for the disparity.

  87. The entire question is why some individuals or groups perform differently on the test and the task that test correlate with. We have three explanations: (1) Genetic variation between individuals and groups (2) Cultural difference in the valuation of skills measured by the test and (3) the active oppression of one group by another.

    Empirically, all three factors come into play but only (3) is allowed in polite society. Suggesting (1) or (2) even as minor contributing factors gets people fired or blacklisted.

    Actually, #2 is allowed to come into play in polite society. The problem is that #1 is all that racists and anti-blank slaters* hammer home. #2 is ignored by those that oppose affirmative action and environmental factors, even though it’s a major factor. Heck, in my own family, my brother thought he was bad at math for years and it was only reinforced by what he was pushed towards (humanities). Only when he was forced to take math and actually studied it without worrying about his inadequacies, he got a lot better.

    Also, most intelligence tests have the problem in that one can learn the test without being more intelligent. I can’t learn how to be taller.

    I’m not saying that these tests are totally worthless. But as a way to precisely measure individual or group intelligence, they’re pretty much worthless because you can’t separate the noise from the value. We can’t accurately measure human intelligence. Hell, we can’t even accurately define it. Why is that so controversial? If you can’t measure or define something within reasonable error than you can’t make such sweeping conclusions.

    * I am not saying they’re the same thing, hence breaking them out.

  88. And when it comes to IQ, size matters.

    I thought that Einstein had a smaller than average brain?

  89. you need a lot less material to make hats for Ron Paul’s supporters than for most other candidates’ supporters.

    And tin foil costs less than wool, straw, or cotton.

    Win-Win

  90. Oh, Jamie, you’re so witty! A sign of high intelligence, I’m sure.

    Well, Jamie does have that HUGE head thing going on. And you know what they say, size matters. Big Head, Big Brain, so I guess you’re right Eddie, Jamie has high intelligence.

  91. I thought that Einstein had a smaller than average brain?

    He was smarter than the average bear.

    Wait! That was Yogi. Ignore me.

  92. people are responsible moral agents who can distinguish right from wrong and therefore deserve equal consideration before the law

    Mmmno. According to some, not entirely.

  93. And tin foil costs less than wool, straw, or cotton.

    TWC,

    The real paradox is that tin foil (a metal pulled from a mine) is cheaper than wool, straw, or cotton, which grow naturally and are far easier to harvest.

    This has happened because of the idea Ron Paul espouses, namely free markets and trade and such.

    Chew on that one for a bit…

  94. I thought that Einstein had a smaller than average brain?

    He did, that’s why he had so much trouble doing his own taxes.

  95. Let’s start with fundamentals. If you wanted to do a scientific study of genetic differences between races, you’d have to start by giving some objective way of classifying individuals into races.

    I’ll bet that if you tried to come up with a classification scheme that categorizes people into various ethnic groups based on genetic markers, you could do it — but, I bet those groups wouldn’t correspond very well with the traditional races.

  96. I thought that Einstein had a smaller than average brain?

    I thought that the consensus was that Einstein’s brain was more coiled than the average brain.

  97. Taktix, nicely said.

    I am a paranoiac by avocation and I live by these words:

    Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you

    I have several tin foil hats, one for working in the garden, one really nice one for church and weddings, and a couple of tin foil porkpies.

    Even though I am old as dirt I don’t believe I have ever seen actual tin foil. Maybe when I was a little kid, but I don’t think so.

    Full Disclosure for those of you following along at home:

    I am a Ron Paul supporter and I continue to be blown away by the huge groundswell of support he has garnered. I get Pro RP email all day long and much of it is from people I never in a million years would have expected to be Ron Paul Fanatics.

    Thank God for my Warty quote, it keeps me sane:

    “Ron Paul has got to stop infecting me his horrible, horrible optimism.”

  98. Mike, that’s a good point. Near as I can tell, the Asian genes don’t get diluted when the kids have parents from different races. They still get all the A’s. πŸ™‚

    Pretty scientific, eh?

  99. Shannon,

    I don’t accept either of your wingnut points.

    It is exactly the silly dualism you set up – one is either arguing for a blank slate, or one accepts absurd, politicizes pseudo-science like yours – that I am rejecting.

  100. Please, Ronald, can you stop [over]using “To wit:”? It is not and never has been meant to lead off a quotation. It makes me want to kill kittens every time I see you use it.

    For that matter, none of my Asian friends have ever used it. πŸ™‚

    OK, seriously, it’s your most obvious crutch phrase. Look back at your previous postings and see…

  101. And if you only read the one posting I linked to at Three Toed Sloth

    http://bactra.org/weblog/546.html

    Be sure you click back to the previous posts as well…

    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/541.html
    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/542.html

    and older coverage of the topic
    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/520.html
    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/520.html

    Three Toed Sloth is a blog by a professor of statistics who works with the Center for the Study of Complex Systems.

    If you are actually interested in the topic, his stuff is very informative.

  102. I don’t accept either of your wingnut points.

    You mean the point that different populations evolve differently? What are you literally rejecting evolutionary theory?

  103. Near as I can tell, the Asian genes don’t get diluted when the kids have parents from different races.

    From a horrible, evil, psychotic ex-girlfriend experience, I disagree…

  104. joshua conring | December 3, 2007, 1:38pm | #

    Hey I typed my conring

    nothing else really…just thought it was sort of funny

  105. Mr. Bailey writes: “I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels.”

    But an enormous amount of public policy currently does _turn_ on this question, but it’s just based on false answers.

    For example, whatever happened to the federal civil service exam? Well, it’s gone, and precisely because of false beliefs about IQ:

    “In 1972, a lawsuit claimed that that the FSEE was biased because blacks and Hispanics didn’t score as well as whites on average. So, the Nixon Administration deep-sixed it and introduced the sophisticated PACE, which was elaborately validated as predicting performance in 118 federal jobs. The PACE consisted of multiple subtests, which could be weighted differently for each post.

    “Frustratingly, despite PACE’s impressive predictive power, blacks and Latinos continued to tally lower on it. In another federal discrimination case, the outgoing Carter Administration signed a consent decree in January 1981 agreeing to abolish PACE. Workarounds were “temporarily” implemented until a non-discriminatory general test could be devised.

    “Twenty-six years later, the Luevano decree’s makeshifts still control federal hiring procedures. (No such new test has proven feasible.) Federal hiring has devolved into a decentralized hodge-podge. There is some job-related testing, but most agencies emphasize credentials, and assess them in a mindlessly mechanical fashion to boot.”

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2007/11/steve-sailers-test-case_4916.html

    Steve Sailer, The American Conservative, 9/10/07

  106. By the way, in the above quote,

    FSEE = Federal Service Entrance Examination

    PACE = Professional and Administrative Career Examination

    Both were thrown out because whites did better than NAMs (Non-Asian Minorities) on them. The outgoing Carter administration promised the PACE would be replaced with an exam that would have both predictive validity for real-world job performance and on which NAMs would score as well as whites and Asians. In the quarter century since, no such test has proven possible to invent.

  107. There are countless more examples of deluded public policy driven by the assumption that all groups are equally intelligent on average. Consider the landmark No Child Left Behind act put together by President Bush and Senator Kennedy in 2001 to close the gaps between ethnicities in school performance. It mandates that every single public school student in the U.S. be “proficient” (i.e., above average) by 2014.

    Obviously, this is certifiably insane and only possible by massive fraud by state testing agencies, but the bill was widely popular across the political spectrum when it passed in 2001.

  108. From a horrible, evil, psychotic ex-girlfriend experience, I disagree…

    There’s another thing we have in common. Just the evil, pyschotic, ex-girlfriend.

    Let’s drink and swap stories. πŸ™‚

  109. “Empirically, all three factors come into play but only (3) is allowed in polite society. Suggesting (1) or (2) even as minor contributing factors gets people fired or blacklisted.”

    Which, I guess, would be why we’re not having this very discussion.

    Yeah, because anonymous internet discussions are soooo risky. A lot of jobs and reputations are riding on this thread…

    Saletan’s cringing retaction and his editor Jacob Weisberg’s dismissal of the article are just more examples of what happens when someone expresses the ideologically unacceptable view of this matter in public. Also see Watson, James.

  110. Hey Guys! It’s official. I’m now a REPUBLICAN!

    Yeeha!

  111. TWC,

    I was dating a half-asian, half-hispanic chick. Didn’t realize he crazy she was at first, because she was really hot.

    Then the 1 a.m. calls about killing herself started…

    One day, she told me that we couldn’t see each other because that she was going to be celibate and born again, and that as an Atheist I am not moral enough to stay with.

    I was taken aback by this, not only because she was not very moral, but also because she began to condescendingly tell me how I’ll see “the Truth” about Jesus when I’m old enough or some crap.

    She’s only 1.5 years older than myself.

    This newfound morality proved false, however, as she started fucking the bass player from my band a week after the “celibacy” began.

    It wasn’t too heartbreaking, as it didn’t last long, but it was quite a ride. She still shows up to our shows occasionally, usually just long enough to piss someone off. Fun fun, but I have no drinks πŸ™

    (hmm, I should do something about that.)

    P.S. I only mention her race as it pertains to this thread (sort of). She wasn’t crazy because of being asian or hispanic, she was crazy because she was fucking crazy.

  112. Hey Guys! It’s official. I’m now a REPUBLICAN!

    Yeeha!

    I’m glad I don’t have to become one in Virginia to vote for Ron Paul. But I do I have to take some stupid “loyalty oath”.

    Steve Sailer-

    I’m bi-racial white and hispanic and score somewhere between 130 and 140 on my IQ tests depending on the day. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  113. Re: No Child Left Behind-

    There are plenty of good reasons that stupid federal intrusion into what is (at the most) a state and local matter should have never seen the light of day. You don’t have to bring race into it.

    Public schools shouldn’t really exist at all ideally. God knows they didn’t teach me much. They’ve become glorified baby-sitting holding pens.

  114. Pretty scientific, eh?

    About as scientific, or more so, than a so-called scientific study that doesn’t even start out by dealing with “race” being a fuzzy concept inherited from pre-scientific days.

  115. There’s another thing we have in common. Just the evil, pyschotic, ex-girlfriend.

    Hey, me too!

  116. There’s another thing we have in common. Just the evil, pyschotic, ex-girlfriend.

    Hey, me too!

    I think this is a common experience of all males, because I unfortunately remember mine all too well.

    Not that females don’t have their psychotic, evil ex-boyfriends too.

  117. My life is pretty normal these days but sometimes when I look back at some of the crap I’ve seen it makes me shudder.

  118. “Anybody here dispute the fact that white people score higher on IQ test than black people?

    Anyone here dispute the fact that whte and black populations have genetic differences?”-joe

    Perhaps not, but you do dispute the idea that the former fact might be at least partly explained by the latter. Do you have any rational basis for disputing that, outside of you do not want it to be true?

    As far as I concerned, some inate difference in average intelligence between human races is at least plausible, if not almost certain. If so, it makes trying to get to absolute equality of outcomes between groups in areas where intellect is at a premium a pipe dream at best, and a counterproductive goal at worst. At the level of the individual, however, this means nothing as to how judge the worthiness of a person, as individual intelligence will range above and below the racial average.

  119. You say I am a half wit, but I say, it’s not the quantity of wits that matter, but the quality

  120. There are countless more examples of deluded public policy driven by the assumption that all groups are equally intelligent on average. Consider the landmark No Child Left Behind act put together by President Bush and Senator Kennedy in 2001 to close the gaps between ethnicities in school performance. It mandates that every single public school student in the U.S. be “proficient” (i.e., above average) by 2014.

    Uh, what does this have to do with race? If the schools were filled with only white and Asian people, would they be able to all be above average? Do these two races have magic powers to defeat the laws of mathematics?

  121. Bailey: I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels.
    Anti-white racism, a multi-billion dollar industry operating at every level of government and in every big business in the U.S., is based on, or at least justified by, the false “all groups are the same” ideology. ‘Tis kinda surprising that you claim to be unaware of it, since it’s in the news just about every day.

    Bailey: If it turns out that Asians are the smartest group on average, does that mean that we should put Asians in charge of everything?
    Well, gee, gosh, yeah, that’s sounds like a really swell idea, which is why so many people are advocating it!

    Cesar: I’m bi-racial white and hispanic and score somewhere between 130 and 140 on my IQ tests depending on the day. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
    Well, that’s about the average IQ claim on the internet, and your scribblings reveal you to be about average, so what’s the big deal?

    Shannon Love: If you accept the idea of materialistic evolution then you must accept the idea that significant differences exist between individuals and groups.
    Humans still like to think they’re a special type of animal, or at least like to think that their nervous systems are special, which is why the blank-slate nonsense has been so popular for so long. Strangely enough, it has both Marxist and Christian roots.

    Shannon Love:Variation, differences drive evolution. If no variation exist, then no evolution could occur.
    Except for genetic drift.

    Steve Verdon: What are you literally rejecting evolutionary theory?
    Well, lots of people do reject the theory, hence the term “leftist creationists.” They also reject the hard information, usually by deciding to remain ignorant of it.

    Along those lines, Linda Gottfredson has a handy table of “Yes But” Rejoinders Used to Ignore Scientific Findings of Intelligence and Race.

    and John Darby-sher has a recent series on Race, I.Q., and the mainstream.

  122. “Cesar: I’m bi-racial white and hispanic and score somewhere between 130 and 140 on my IQ tests depending on the day. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

    That’s the cream rising to the top.

  123. From Yahoo news…

    Chimp IQ

    …In the multiyear study, the team looked at three pairs of chimpanzees — three mothers and their offspring born in 2000 — and tested them against nine human university students.

    The apes were taught the order of single-digit Hindu-Arabic numerals and then tested on how they could remember them when displayed in random combinations.

    The team flashed the numbers “1” through “9” on a screen at various time intervals — 0.65 seconds, 0.43 seconds and 0.21 seconds.

    The numbers were then replaced by blank squares and the subjects were asked to use the touch-screen to mark the original order.

    The young chimpanzees performed better than the university students in both speed and accuracy even when they are interrupted by loud noises, the study said.

    Far more interesting than the race IQ debate is the species IQ debate…

    Bonobo video for the skeptics…
    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/76

  124. FLeM,

    Anti-white racism

    Yeah, it’s tough for the whites, particularly if’n they’s male.

    You are a smart guy who reads a lot on this topic.

    Do you have any response to the arguments presented at Three Toed Sloth on this topic

    http://bactra.org/weblog/546.html

    Be sure to follow the links to earlier posts…

    I particularly like the older posts on the calculation of heritability and “g”

    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/520.html
    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/520.html

  125. Of course,

    The racial IQ is just a ruse to keep us off the trail of the real issue…

    Somatotype and IQ.

    Somatotype is controlled largely by genes…so we should expect important differences in other traits between the groups.

    The genes which make you a mesomorph may be the cause of higher criminality among mesomorphs, for instance.

    Endomorphs Unite!

  126. “You say I am a half wit, but I say, it’s not the quantity of wits that matter, but the quality”
    Claudius

    Ah Claudius,
    Get over yourself. It’s two thousand years later and you’re still having a wank over the same topic.

  127. I like to sit in front of the boob-tube in the evenings watching the History channel or the Discovery Channel. My wife watches these shows with me. She’s always saying “see, the Chinese invented that too”. She’s right and she’s Chinese.

    So maybe the Chinese are smarter than the Woodies, but my life experience is not devalued in any way by that.

  128. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind93/chap1/gif/01-0993.gif

    What Dr. James D. Watson said is totally True.

    The races do have different races.

    Africans in usa have IQ of 82-85.

    15-18 gap with whites of 100

    Africans in africa have IQ of 70 in sub-saharian africa.

    All facts known to the world via internet and google.

    Google the truth. google truth.

    Look at SAT scores from NSF: national science foundation.

    Races do diifer in IQ scores.

    Races differ in SAT scores. From the National science foundation

    http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind93/chap1/gif/01-0993.gif

  129. Truth
    Truth
    Truth
    Truth
    Truth

    What the point of all the debate and discussion.
    It is about the search for truth.

    Let’s not fear the truth. Let get the truth from Evidence in real-world.

    Let the evidence in real-world speak for itself.

    Truth Truth Truth Truth. It’s all about the search for the truth. Do not fear the Truth

  130. “I have long been puzzled about what public policy is supposed turn on evidence concerning average racial/ethnic IQ levels. If it turns out that Asians are the smartest group on average, does that mean that we should put Asians in charge of everything?”

    What it means is that the income differences between blacks and whites is a result of genetics, NOT current or historical oppression, and this eliminates much of the M.O. for the welfare state.

    Note that Charles Murray spends a lot of time talking about welfare economics. THIS is what race and IQ is about.

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