Race and IQ

Saturday, December 6, 2008

James Flynn (the Flynn effect demonstrates that IQ improves over generations, indicating the influence of environmental factors in forming IQ) wrote in New Scientist a couple of months ago about African-Americans and IQ. The article is only available to subscribers, but the Cambridge University Press blog has the whole piece.

On average over the last 30 years, African-Americans score 15 points lower on IQ tests than whites. Flynn believes, and there is considerable evidence to support this, that the cause of this difference is not related to genetics, but to environment.

His main point?

I believe we must show that the environments in which black children are raised are on average less cognitively demanding than those of most other ethnic groups.

He goes into a long (I believe flawed) analysis of the “black marriage market.” His take:

Government statistics show that at birth there are 104 black boys for every 100 girls. Between ages 25 and 45, six more men than women are dead, leaving 98 men for every 100 women. Of these 98 men, nine are in jail, eight are missing and 21 are employed less than half-time. That leaves 60 “promising” black men – men who are alive, employed and not convicted felons. Also consider that promising black men living with a non-black partner outnumber white men with a black partner by three. That leaves only 57 black men for every 100 women in a position to be a permanent partner.

Out of 100 black women, 43 face the choice of either having a child by a black man who is unlikely to settle down with them or going childless.

This, of course, assumes that of the 100 women he started with all are “promising.” I don’t disagree with his general thrust, but surely the numbers are overly stark. In any case, he points this problem out to make the case that:

There is a strong case that black Americans suffer from a series of disadvantageous environments. Studies show time and again that before they go to school, black children are on average exposed to a smaller vocabulary than white children, in part due to socioeconomic factors.

Obviously, an incredibly sensitive issue, because it’s an indictment. But it also is a cause for some hope, because the problem – a cultural and environmental one – is not fixed and can be changed.

Flynn sums up:

I believe that America, however, has been reluctant to really examine the cause of the racial IQ gap or the factors that create the black marriage market, let alone come up with credible plan to deal with it. Perhaps those who strongly object to my views will show how American society can be affecting black IQ without doing something extremely tough and unpleasant to the immediate environment black children experience.

Shouts about class will not do, nor will claims of test bias or stereotyping. America will have to address all the aspects of black experience that are disadvantageous, beginning with the regeneration of inner city neighbourhoods and their schools. A resident police office and teacher in every apartment block would be a good start. Only heresy can give an environmental explanation of the black IQ deficit. To run away from debate is like unilateral disarmament: it leaves the enemy in possession of the field.

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Palin, GOP Exploit Child with Special Needs

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Right-Wing Nut blogosphere and the McCain campaign is lit up because Biden suggested that if they really cared about children with a “developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect” they’d support stem cell research.

Continuing the Christianist crusade against science, Sarah Palin does not.

And this after Sarah Palin dragged her four month-old up on stage at the Republican National Convention under the hot lights and amidst a deafening din. That child, special needs or not, should have been in bed. Period. But the opportunity to show Palin as a tough mother was too good to pass up. Would anything have been lost except a photo op if, say, Trig and Todd were back at the hotel?

Of course not. They probably would have gained something by explaining why he wasn’t there.

Beyond that, among the first words out of her mouth were a pander to the parents of special needs children. Like McCain milking his POW experience to such a degree that it makes my ex-Marine father cringe, Palin/McCain will exploit any shameless opportunity for an advantage.

These people mean not only to stand in the way of scientific progress, but they are actively working to put America at a competitive disadvantage in one of the most important fields of the 21st century – biotechnology – all while exploiting a little boy with Down’s Syndrome for political advantage.

The new low in politics is Sarah Palin and the Palin/McCain ticket.


If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Into the Kitchen?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mark Halperin reports:

Carly Fiorina offers a harsh statement Tuesday afternoon in response to Democrats’ criticism of the Alaska Governor’s experience.

“Because of Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the Presidency and the treatment she received, American women are more highly tuned than ever to recognize and decry sexism in all its forms. They will not tolerate sexist treatment of Governor Palin.”

Which is more sexist: to ask questions about someone’s experience or to hide behind your gender to avoid them?

P.S. When is Palin going to come out of study hall to face the press? How about just one journalist (not from Fox News)?


Attacking the Codger and the Cutie

Monday, September 1, 2008

So now Laura Bush is warning Democrats to be careful about attacking Sarah Palin because she’s a woman.

Coupled with indirect warnings not to criticize McCain because he was a POW, Dems are left without recourse when it comes to attacking the Codger and the Cutie.

That is, of course, if they pay attention to these warnings.

To my mind, it will really be a sign of the progress of women in politics when they can be treated with the scorn and derision that men are. When women stops asking for special privileges, they’ll likely find that there is no glass ceiling. There is just a bar of fairness to leap over.

McCain, the POW, is just going to have to take his lumps.

P.S. Hillary lost because she voted for Iraq. Not because she was a woman. If she had the guts to do the right thing then, she’d be the nominee. It really is as simple as that.


Charles Murray: College is a Waste of Time

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I’m a big fan of Charles Murray. Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, gained famed several years ago for his book with Richard J. Herrnstein, The Bell Curve.

At the time, the book was, in part, interpreted as racist because it pointed out that blacks, on average, score lower than whites on IQ tests; Murray and Herrnstein noted that the cause of this discrepancy is uncertain, but also suggested that both genetic and environmental factors might be involved. Murray (Herrnstein died just before the book was released) is defending the book to this day, and since then there has been a ton of research and commentary on the validity of IQ and what, if any, conclusions can be drawn from the measurement.

Though I disagree with any suggestion of a genetic underpinning (recent evidence has demonstrated an all but certain correlation to environmental factors), the book still made some valid points, most notably this one: intelligence (however measured) has vast and important implications for success. In an America that is increasingly under pressure from the Republi-Conservative idiocracy, this obvious statement needs to be emphasized as early and as often as possible. That is to say: Intelligence is not fixed at birth. Every American must strive to develop their intellectual capacities. Wealth, happiness, and success depend upon it.

At any rate, Murray has penned a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal suggesting that college is a waste of time for most people and that certification tests would do more than the current system to equalize the unfair distribution of the wealth in this country.

I agree. Read the piece and let me know what you think.


The Hillary Hags Are So Over

Monday, August 11, 2008

Now that Barack Obama has announced Hillary Night at the Democratic Convention it is absolutely time for the Hillary Hags to call it a day. I enjoyed their antics – the weak organization, the outsized press coverage, the outraged feminist sputum – at first, but their act quickly grew tired. My feeling now? Please go ahead and vote for John McCain. Feed his coffers. Stay away from the Democrats.

Of course, that won’t happen in a million years and everyone knows it. Just say the word “abortion” and these women will sprint to the voting booth for Obama, threats to the contrary aside. So, ladies, accept your candidate Barack (He’s a Man) Obama and please stop whining.

To which the Hillary Hags would undoubtedly respond: “We won’t stop until we decide to stop.”

OK, don’t. You’re so not important anymore. Hillary will have her celebration (and this, believe me, is more than she deserves. Those people in Appalachia were not voting for Hillary Clinton, they were voting against Barack Obama.) And these 40,000 or so women, whose lives are wrapped up in Hillary’s candidacy, can just talk and hug it out in private (or in public, it doesn’t make a difference). No one will pay attention anymore.

I do have to say, for entertainment value, reading about this furor has been fun. Nothing gives me more pleasure that to see the various factions of the identity politics coalition tear themselves apart. Can you imagine the mental gymnastics necessary for a black, feminist woman to have to make to reach a decision? For this reason alone, Barack Obama is worth supporting.

At any rate, cheers to the Hillary Hags. Enjoy the convention, gain catharsis, and have fun in the voting booth.