On that Foreign Policy article

A few posts below, Grim discusses a foolish Foreign Policy article that attempts to discredit ideas linking IQ to wealth - the title, so predicably, throws the thunderbolt of "racism." (Paragraph 1 of the link shows why I chose "thunderbolt.")

The author firmly establishes his ignorance in the first paragraph - declaring that "Genetic determinism with regard to racial intelligence -- alongside the very idea that intelligence can be meaningfully ranked on a single linear scale of intrinsic worth -- has been firmly debunked by Steven Jay Gould, among others." He cites then to Gould's mendacious Mismeasure of Man.

Gould was an accomplished paleontologist, and knew a lot of important things about fossils and evolution. He was, however, an unrepentant Marxist, which required him to be a psychological blank-slater - and this seriously biased his work when he strayed out of his field. His specific ideas on race, that there hasn't been time for evolution to create signficant differences between large human families, that human evolution stopped 40,000-50,000 year ago, and that genetically our differences really are "skin deep" only, these have not stood the test of time or psychometrics.

The most famous example is well described in this magnificent book -- a sizable increase in cognitive ability among the Ashkenazi Jews. (Average IQ 112-15 - nearly a full standard devition, with huge overrepresentation among the top levels of IQ, and top achievements in science.) The distinction of "Ashkenazi" is important -- this intellectual prominence does not occur among Jews whose ancestors did not sojourn in Europe, and these Jews are a genetically distinct group (having also a specific set of heightened genetic risks, notably to Tay-Sachs disease). Yet their split from the rest of the Jewish population occurred in historic times, showing that significant - historically, incredibly significant - human evolution happens on a much smaller timescale than Gould imagined, or the Foreign Policy author will admit.

(The author mentions the Flynn Effect. He neglects to mention that it appears to have stopped, at least in some places -- suggesting that mankind is not so plastic as he wishes.)

I haven't read IQ and the Wealth of Nations - but according to the review quoted here (review by the man I believe to be the best science blogger alive - and one well versed in biology and psychometrics), the book draws on 620 different IQ studies from around the world and 813,778 tested individuals. In covering blacks, both in Africa and in "diaspora" countries like Jamaica, he drew on 155 different studies with 387,286 people tested -- leading me to doubt strongly the article's suggestion that the sample sizes are too small to say anything meaningful about black or African IQ. [Edit: The link in this paragraph is actually to a review of Lynn's later book, Race Differences in Intelligence; 137 of the studies in the later book were not included in the earlier, though both had extensive data.]

None of this has anything to do with John Derbyshire's Takimag Column that the author opens with - Mr. Derbyshire's column is primarily about antisocial and criminal behavior among American blacks rather than IQ among African blacks. (There is, as we discussed long ago, a very strong correlation between low IQ and criminal and antisocial behavior - one that cuts across races, making it hard to pigeonhole as "the legacy of slavery and oppression" - and you can read a lot about it in chapter 11 of this book.)

If you want to know something about the current state of knowledge about race, race differences, and IQ, you've picked a a good time -- there is an excellent new popular book out: Race and Equality: The Nature of the Debate by John Harvey, published by the Ulster Institute for Social Research. It's about 140 pages in pdf form, and I found it readable in a couple of easy sittings (I bought the pdf straight from the site so I could read it right away; Amazon has a low supply of paperback versions I believe).


Grim said...

Yeah, that's what I meant when I said 'clearing the disdain from his throat.' The thing is, this is one of those issues where people often have interesting points... but to find them, you have to get past the part where they assert that anyone who disagrees with them is (a) stupid and (b) evil.

Unfortunately, when you're convinced that your opponents are stupid and evil, you don't take as much care with your own arguments.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I commented below, but should have done so here instead.

I heartily agree. The data is actually quite robust for racial IQ differences, which frankly, really sucks for what we want to do going forward as civilised peoples. Steve Sailer has an enormous amount of info, his own and linked, and of course jumped right on this. Culture does matter, as do environmental factors such as disease, micronutrients, and blows to the head. How else could genetically-very-similar American blacks and West Africans score 15 points apart?

My hope is that other characteristics, already of importance, such as personal drive, charisma, adaptability, or cooperativeness, will assume greater importance as we go forward, or that technology will level many uneven areas. But for now, it is viciously cruel to depend on solutions for African-Americans that ignore reality. It makes their lives suck even worse, just so that "nice" white people can feel good about themselves.

Joseph W. said...

Why, so he did. Thanks for pointing it out! Link to Steve Sailer's response is here.

(Steve's been on this beat a very long time, and knows what he is talking about.)

Ymar Sakar said...

It's like suicide bombing tendencies. It can be trained in or out of people. For Ayers, it was trained out by something called fear and lacking a spine. For people like Hasan at Ft. Hood, he received relatively good training and was able to get it done, more or less. Although he failed at the end in one single detail.