Race and IQ

Richard Nisbett has the most thorough trashing of research claiming a link between race and IQ I’ve seen yet.

For the poor, a group that includes a substantial proportion of minorities, heritability of I.Q. is very low …

Even when a trait is highly heritable (think of the height of corn plants), modifiability can also be great (think of the difference growing conditions can make).

… Tested in later childhood, the German children of the white fathers were found to have an average I.Q. of 97, and those of the black fathers had an average of 96.5, a trivial difference.

… when a group of investigators sought out the very brightest black children in the Chicago school system and asked them about the race of their parents and grandparents, these children were found to have no greater degree of European ancestry than blacks in the population at large.

… A superior adoption study — and one not discussed by the hereditarians — was carried out at Arizona State University by the psychologist Elsie Moore, who looked at black and mixed-race children adopted by middle-class families, either black or white, and found no difference in I.Q. between the black and mixed-race children. Most telling is Dr. Moore’s finding that children adopted by white families had I.Q.’s 13 points higher than those of children adopted by black families.

…Within each race, prior knowledge predicted learning and reasoning, but between the races it was prior knowledge only that differed.

… That environment can markedly influence I.Q. is demonstrated by the so-called Flynn Effect. … in the Western world as a whole, I.Q. increased markedly from 1947 to 2002. In the United States alone, it went up by 18 points. Our genes could not have changed enough over such a brief period to account for the shift; it must have been the result of powerful social factors.

… In fact, we know that the I.Q. difference between black and white 12-year-olds has dropped to 9.5 points from 15 points in the last 30 years — a period that was more favorable for blacks in many ways than the preceding era.

… Most important, we know that interventions at every age from infancy to college can reduce racial gaps in both I.Q. and academic achievement, sometimes by substantial amounts in surprisingly little time. This mutability is further evidence that the I.Q. difference has environmental, not genetic, causes. And it should encourage us, as a society, to see that all children receive ample opportunity to develop their minds.

UPDATE: The New Yorker has an article about a new book by James “Flynn Effect” Flynn. (via Amardeep)

8 thoughts on “Race and IQ

  1. I was just recently talking to a friend about this.

    Even in Canada, it was not until I was in my first year of university, studying sociology, that I learned this line of reasoning. Of course I was already very familiar with the nature arguments. It’s a shame this knowledge, these studies, are not more widely disseminated. I don’t think nurture is beyond the reasoning of most children and adolescents. It might go a long way in helping the anti-racist campaigns that I was bombarded with as a child, to back them up with the rather sound scientific evidence that supports them. “Don’t be racist,” took on greater meaning for me when I realized that this construct was just that, something I and my community had created and could hypothetically render otherwise.

  2. My God! The egalitarians are clutching at straws again. Please notice that every study involves children. This is a desperate attempt by egalitarian fanatics to take advantage of the well know fact that faster maturation rates among people of African descent keep childhood IQs above those of Eurasians. It is also know that in early adolescence Eurasian children close the IQ gap and overtake Africans. This is why there is an equally consistent gap in group , unfavourable to Blacks, among adult Blacks and Eurasians. If that’s a “trashing” you guys are a long way from home without your train fare.

  3. Anne

    These studies don’t invalidate hereditarian claims. Blacks enjoy an IQ advantage over Whites until around the age of 12 because of faster Black maturation rates (Bayley scales, dental development, etc.). Black IQ peaks in the early teens at which point Whites begin to overtake Blacks. For this reason studies by egalitarians that draw conclusions about adult IQ from studies of children’s IQ are invalid, and are, since the difference in and significance of faster maturation with regard to intelligence is well known in anthropology, fundamentally dishonest.

  4. The “the well know fact that faster maturation rates among people of African descent keep childhood IQs above those of Eurasians”? I guess I’m a total ignoramus but this “well known fact” has failed to reach me down here in Australia. Perhaps Calvin could do us the favor of providing some references for his claims? Because they sound kinda retarded to me — yes, pun intended.

  5. Little things like dental records, Bayley’s scales ( a slight clue would be that this is a source that I have actually referenced), ultrasonography studies that show that Black babies are physiologically more mature, as measured by pulmonary activity, age of onset of puberty….. I could go on but your assertion that I’m a retard, as well as showing a dismissive contempt for the mentally ill, is obviously an unassailable argument, I’m getting out of this before you totally demolish my assertions by saying “you are gay”, or something just as clever.

  6. This “faster maturation rate” re people of African descent is a big, fat *myth*! The British used to make the same claim about people in India! But then, I suppose, since people from (northern) India were the original “Aryans” these claims had to be retracted. . . but “everybody knows”
    Africans are stupid anyway(not).
    Anne G

  7. Pace Anne Gilbert, it is no myth at all. Tanner’s “Growth at Adolescence” is a classic source, Dan Freedman’s “Human Sociobiology” discusses it at length. Also check out the references in any of Phil Rushton’s papers. ( I know, I know, I said check out the references, not read the writings of the devil! )

    And indeed Nisbett has two studies he cites, repeatedly. They are both about children and they both have very small sample sizes. It is sad to see someone of Nisbett’s stature stoop to this kind of thing.

  8. Does anyone have a source for Elsie Moore’s study? From the peer reviews that I have read it seems that Moore’s conclusions do not actually support the claims being made by the anthropological establishment. There seems to be a cause for concern raised by the lack of definition of the precise genotype of the subjects, I smell a big fat egalitarian rat.

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