Friday, December 7, 2007

Schoolin’ Mr. Nulan

Craig Nulan put a question to me in a recent comment thread. To wit:

“The main question I’d like answered is how precisely did you get hoodwinked and bamboozled to serve as a host and conduit of racist thought David? What was the intrinsic appeal of IQ heritability pseudo-science that made you buy into it hook, line, and sinker?”

Having traded a few comments with this charmer at and The Assault on Black Folks’ Sanity, I’m fairly certain that Mr. Nulan isn’t interested in a good-faith dialogue on this wickedly complicated subject.

I say that because –

1) Nulan’s preferred style of disputation seems to be the “ad hominy” attack (i.e., throwing personal insults around like hot grits), and –

2) All of Nulan’s polemical eggs appear to rest in a basket of denialism... denying that intelligence is heritable; denying that intelligence can be measured via testing; denying even the possibility that different human sub-groups might have unequal cognitive aptitudes.

His mind is made up – due to ideological necessity, not scientific evidence – and anyone who dares to disagree “[does] not warrant respectful attention” and is on the side of “EVIL.”

And yet I shall respond to Craig Nulan. In part because I am so intrigued by his own high intelligence. (You can’t sneeze at a computer science degree from MIT.)

In a comment that was destroyed during Nulan’s recent ugly break-up with Michael Fisher at the Assault, Nulan revealed that he’d been tested several times as an elementary-schooler... and he scored off the charts. Is it a random coincidence that psychometricians identified young Nulan as extremely intelligent... and ten years later he matriculated at one of the world’s elite universities?

And so I asked Nulan: Did those childhood tests measure something real... and worth measuring?

He buck-danced around that one like Sandman Sims, refusing to give the simple and obvious answer: YES.

As for Nulan’s current query of me... It may sound funny, but my earliest awareness of the IQ controversy dates to an episode of “Good Times.” I forget the overall plot details, except that the payoff featured the Evanses peppering a doofus white official with multiple-choice questions like “What is an ‘alley apple’?”

When the doofus white official answered wrong, Florida Evans declared triumphantly: “You just failed an IQ test.”

Even as an adolescent, I thought: “That’s not a question of intelligence! That’s a trivial knowledge!” (Besides which, black folk in D.C. didn’t refer to bricks as “alley apples.”)

At the age of 13, unaware of the ideology of liberal egalitarianism, I saw through that framing of the IQ question as silly and dishonest.

Jump to “The Bell Curve.” Like a lot of thoughtful people, I followed that controversy closely. Particularly the many rebuttal essays published in Commentary and The New Republic.

It was the unpersuasiveness of those rebuttals which impacted me. I was like, “Shit... they didn’t knock it down at all.” I was rooting for them to. But they didn’t.

Neither did Stephen Jay Gould’s book-length rebuttal, “The Mismeasure of Man,” republished in 1996 as “The definitive refutation to the argument of The Bell Curve.”

For one thing, as much as Nulan hammers the IQ hereditarians for being politically biased, Stephen Gould wears his own left-wing biases – or, as he puts it, his activist commitment to “social justice” – on his shirt-front.

“I wrote ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ because I have a different political vision” than the authors of the “The Bell Curve,” Gould wrote in his revised edition. But he assured readers that he was well capable of policing his own prejudices.

And still, even Gould (whose resume of the history of psychometrics has been well studied by Nulan)... even Gould doesn’t deny that cognitive abilities are inborn to some degree:

“The hereditarian fallacy is not the simple claim that IQ is to some degree ‘heritable.’ I have no doubt that it is, though the degree has clearly been exaggerated by the most avid hereditarians.” [Emphasis added.]

So, at least in Gould’s case, we’ve narrowed down the area of interest: figuring out just how major or minor is the acknowledged influence of genetics on intelligence.

Craig Nulan won’t grant even that much. (I wonder why?)

In one of the comments destroyed when he split from Fisher’s blog, I mentioned a well-known experiment by psychologists R.M. Cooper and J.P. Zubek in 1958. This animal experiment was cited by social psychologist Thomas F. Pettigrew in his 1964 text “A Profile of the Negro American.”

According to Pettigrew, this experiment demonstrated the key impact of environment on cognitive functioning.

What Cooper and Zubek did was, they tested laboratory rats who had been raised in three different environments: an “enriched” environment, a “natural” environment and a “restricted” environment.

But here’s the key: They tested two different kinds of rat in each environment... a “dull strain” and a “bright strain.”

The purpose of the experiment, after all, was to determine whether “bright” rats would be cognitively impaired by a bad environment and whether “dull” rats would receive a cognitive boost from a good environment.

But how could they get a group of “bright” rats and a group of “dull” rats to test?

Through selective breeding, that’s how.

They put rats through mazes. Those who navigated the mazes quickly were deemed “bright”... and were bred with other “bright” rats to produce the “bright strain.”

Likewise, the rats who navigated the mazes poorly were deemed “dull” and were bred with other “dull” rats to produce the “dull strain.”

In Thomas Pettigrew’s words, the investigators created “two genetically distinct strains of rats, carefully bred for 13 generations as either ‘bright’ or ‘dull.’ ” And then they proceded to raise rats from these two populations in varied environments.

So, you see, even an experiment designed to show the impact of environmental factors on intelligence took for granted that cognitive potential – “brightness” or “dullness” – is heritable. It’s in the genes.

Now isn’t that a daisy?


Michael Fisher said...

The solution to your resolution is fairly simple and obvious. Let's see whether Craig finds it.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Well, he didn't find it at your place, Fisher.

By the way, are all those eugenics-thread comments lost forever? I thought you said you were able to recover those. No way to reinstate all those comments to the sphere of public accessibility?

Michael Fisher said...


"Well, he didn't find it at your place, Fisher

Well, that's cause he was looking for crack-head vampires. Wrong place. We ain't in Transylvania, or Haight-Ashley for that matter. Besides, Wesley had taken care of all them mofo's in Blade.


"By the way, are all those eugenics-thread comments..."

Yeah, I got them...I think. The Zip file Nulan sent with me the posts & comments in it apparently caused my Windows Explorer interface to go haywire, (hmmm???) so I erased it and ran a couple of virus scans, but the comments should still be in the g-mail assault account. I'll check.

submariner said...

Why does this matter? I think it was in Derek Bok's The Shape of the River where I read that SAT scores for all groups have shown a steady increase. The same is true for tests of IQ.

Since the 1950s American students have tested worse than their international cohorts. Is there a genetic basis to this as well?

bapples said...

MF: Haight-Ashbury

Ibrahim Nur said...

UBM, did you catch William Saletan's recent series of articles in Slate about racial IQ differences? What did you think?

Michael Fisher said...

Thanks, bappels. Though, I trying to be tongue-in-cheek about a white girl

Undercover Black Man said...

Ibrahim, welcome.

I didn't read the Saletan stuff. I don't have a hard-on for that particular issue (psychometrics) per se. But I am interested in the polemics surrounding it... particularly the quality of arguments and the rhetorical tactics of those enforcing the liberal egalitarian orthodoxy.

Nulan isn't alone in trying to render unspeakable the subject of heritability and intelligence.

Undercover Black Man said...

Submariner, welcome.

You wrote: "Since the 1950s American students have tested worse than their international cohorts. Is there a genetic basis to this as well?"

Beats me. But I'm not the one attempting to demonize those who research the connection between genetics and intelligence.

I'm making a case for the permissibility of the question of differing cognitive characteristics of different human sub-groups.

Kip said...

Eugenics (selective breeding) helps increase IQ partially by way of genetic heritability. Environment culture, education, good moral character, health, and conscientiousness also play a major role in increasing IQ. Genetics are only part of the reason why someone has a high IQ. Eugenics says well educated and intelligent people usually on average will produce children like them and pass their genes on to their children.

In old Europe it was the aristocracy that produced the majority of the intelligent people today it is the middle class and rich who produce the majority of intelligent people.

submariner said...

The question arises not from genuine scientific inquiry but from the need to validate persistent inequality. As for the rich and middle class producing the the majority of hgh performing IQ test takers we know that this is false. At one time City College of New York, populated by recent immigrants, boasted more Nobel laureates than any elite private institution. According to Jerome Karabel, the first college admissions office was created at Columbia University to screen out academically talented, poor, disproportionately Jewish students from New York City schools. This was also the sentiment behind Cecil Rhodes's scholarship which was meant to be the domain of manly i.e. white men who possessed 'intangibles' that couldn't be appreciated on a test. Tests of IQ and scholastic aptitude have been conveniently discarded when necessary for perpetuation of dominance by elites. Just ask the current occupant of the White House.

Mr. Mills, ultimately this arena is corrupt. You remind me of a man eating a rotten egg who says that parts of it are very good.

Dragon Horse said...

submariner said...

Since the 1950s American students have tested worse than their international cohorts. Is there a genetic basis to this as well?

The answer to that is that all boats rise but not to the same level.

If you have population A and population B and population A has the highest IQ, if the general environment for both improve (nutrition, health care, etc) then it is likely the intelligence of both groups will rise, but they won't rise to the same level because they didn't start at the same level.

That is the difference is genetic component and environmental.

That is also called the Flynn Effect.

Everyone know that is possible. The issue is the convergence of IQ between group A and group B if both groups are equal in environment.

Between black, white, and Asian Americans of the same class, that has never been show that they have equal average IQ.

"As for the rich and middle class producing the the majority of hgh performing IQ test takers we know that this is false."

Not really. On average IQ correlates with income and more tightly with education.

The reason IQ does not correlate absolutely with wealth is that a theoretical physicist might have a superior IQ to Donald Trump but his field will not generate the money Donald's does. A sales guy with a slightly above average IQ and good people skills can make more money than a mathematics professor at a middle rate university, and highly intelligent women often stay home and do not work at all.

What you are talking about is a time when the playing field was not fair. Jews (Ashkenazim, not the other types) have the highest IQs of any subgroup in the world. The fact they were poor had to do with discrimination an the fact their were from immigrant families who came here poor after fleeing pogroms in Europe. Those Jews in Europe, often lived better and were more educated than their gentile neighbors, which is why people get jealous and tried to kill them in the first place.

The average IQ of mainland China is 100, but their overseas cousins in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore are closer to 106 (they have better environments) so if they came here in 1950 they would likely be discriminated against for being Asian and not allowed to express that intelligence, that does not mean they were not intelligent or their families were not at one time elite in their home nation.

Another thing to look at is in the past everyone did not have a lot of children that lived to adulthood. The average poor person had more children than the average rich, like today, but the average poor person had few, if any, children that lived to adulthood, whereas the average rich had most or all.

So in places like the UK, the average person walking the street is descendant from the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th son of some noble of the past who was "landless" because there was not much to go around. Those men married local women usually of lower status.

Don't believe me? There is a book on it.

So your point only shows that America is not and has never been a meritocracy. We all know that. It has nothing to do with who is intelligent and who is not or how one scores on a test. What you are talking about is discrimination at a time period against a people.

The Bell Curve looked at all this. I own the book. About 75% of it has nothing to do with anybody but whites. Murray looked at the fact that every year since WWII IQ correlates closely with educated, more closely with parents education, and that many professionals are not coming from elite classes as they once were.

The point is America is much more liberal and open then it was in the 1940s or 1920's...the less discrimination you have the more equality you will have in the short run, but in the long run it will turn to inequality.


My grandfather was black in North Carolina. He had poor schooling and could never read well.

Things got a little better for blacks, his daughter, my mother went to Ohio State. I got a graduate degree. My wife, who I met as an undergrad got an engineering degree.

We live in the suburbs with people of similar education, so our kids will likely marry the same class, if it is a girl and she is intelligent and cute she might marry up in class. Our son might become more successful than me and move up in class as I did from my parents and grandparents.

If we assume IQ is mostly genetic (lets say 70%) and that all populations do not have equal IQ. If you have a more level playing field, what you will see is that people from the discriminated group who are intelligent will jump out and move up, but overtime that stream will move to a trickle. Who is left are the unintelligent, unlucky, or mentally ill.

Basically the people with low IQ will be left poor because they can't get education to get a better job.

My kids will be socially isolated from them due to class and only marry people of similar class or higher.

That means on average his kids will be close to his intelligence, a little higher or a little lower (regression toward the mean).

So you can easily see, that if you are a hereditary poverty makes sense, in fact you would expect that in a society with less discrimination or bias that overtime the gap between rich and poor might actually increase.

Many argue this is what is happening in the black community. The intelligent have got out or are getting out, and what is left are the unlucky, unintelligent, or mentally ill in the bottom 20-25% of blacks. There will always be people who trickle out as the mentally ill have kids who are not or the unlucky get lucky, but the unintelligent ones will have kids with other unintelligent ones (on average) and their kids will be stuck like them (this is called dysgenicy breeding). It is a cycle.

So can intelligent people have dumb kids? Sure. It is just that it is unlikely. It is highly unlikely two people of an IQ of 120 will have a kid with an IQ of 80, unless their is some type of birth defect, etc.

A common theory out there is this:

You can read my thoughts on it, basically men and women have the same average IQ (more or less) but they do not have the same standard distribution of IQ. Basically they are more dumb men and highly intelligent men than women because women group more around the mean.

The idea is some important IQ genes are on the X chromosome.
irls have two X Chromosome and boys a Y and X.

The theory is that two Xs can modify each other. Meaning a "smart" X and a "dull" X can make an average girl. Where in a boy, the Y chromosone is much smaller than the X, so they do not perfectly overlap, and so may not modify. So if the boy gets a "smart X" from his mother he could be very smart, if he gets a 'dull X' from his mother he could be dumber than his father. Remember women have two X's and they can give either one to their kids. The man determines sex. So he has an X and Y. So if a man is intelligent it is likely a good portion of that has to do with his mother being intelligent, not so much his dad. If a girl is highly intelligent, it is likely due to both parents being pretty smart.

It is more complex than that, as it is thought genes involved in IQ are myriad and it might be some populations have different genes that do the same thing (convergent evolution).

To make it short, a smart man who marries women with dumb genes because she is hot has a high change of having a dumb male child and an average female child. Highly intelligent alpha-males often marry stupid women and have kids with them because they are "hot"...2 or 3 generations of that you can have a "dumb family".

Chinese say, "wealth never last more than 3 generations" the reason is they expect a dumb son to be born to waste the family wealth...maybe this is why?

It is not true that wealth always marries wealth...that is obvious.

Women tend to marry up or the same class. MEN, think with their "smaller head" and often marry down if the woman is hot or the same class, but rarely up. Most societies are this way actually. Makes you wonder about some things...

I'm not saying I buy into all this, I don't but these are the argument.

cnulan said...

988 words.

Two ad hominem's

Three factual errors

One lie

Two logical fallacies (which is really the crux of the matter - i.e., where Mills got lost)

No science

I'll respond at subrealism and link back in this thread.

cnulan said...

Sorry, 3 lies - and - you never simply answered the question;

“The main question I’d like answered is how precisely did you get hoodwinked and bamboozled to serve as a host and conduit of racist thought David? What was the intrinsic appeal of IQ heritability pseudo-science that made you buy into it hook, line, and sinker?”

Because in good faith, I'd rather not put words in your mouth.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Craig Nulan, ladies and gentlemen!

Now Doc, don't tell me you came in my house and picked this fight with me a few days ago just to drive traffic to your own blog??

You evil genius you...

When you post whatever you're going to post, please do let us know. So everyone can judge for oneself whose logic is crystalline and whose is opaque... whose language is simple and precise and whose is serpentine... who argues in good faith and who resorts compulsively to personal insults... who is trying his best to locate the objective truth and who is shackled to an ideology.

Kip said...

From the Summary Of the 47 page Introduction (The Black-White Test Score Gap)

Quote: The Black-White test gap is real. It does not merely appear in one specific test nor in just a few particular tests. On the contrary, the gap appears in every test of those mental abilities that are important to success in Western culture. It appears in simple tests like counting backwards and in complex tests like the SAT. It appears in K-12 grades and in college graduation rates. It even appears in employers’ objective appraisals of on-the-job performance. The gap cannot be argued away by saying that it is culturally biased in that it measures only mental skills that are important in White society. Those skills are precisely the ones intended to be measured. Some people are misled because the media calls them “IQ” tests or “aptitude” tests as if they measured something innate. They do nothing of the sort. They measure learned mental skills, nothing more.

The IQ test is not looking for something genetic. they simply measure learned mental skills. Every country has some type of IQ testing to measure the mental skills of their population and children who go to school and college.

When whites, out score blacks, and asian out score whites and ashkenazi Jews out score blacks, whites, asians, and other ethnic groups then geneticists come into the picture, and try to see if genetics is a source for why one group out scores the other on IQ test.

Kip said...

If genetics did play a role in IQ it still by itself could not explain why one group out scores the other. It is an accumulation of many factors that are responsible for one group out scoring the other.

Instead of always beating up on people why not help them improve and parents play a role in why some kids have low IQs, as well asculture, nutrition, environment, childhood, etc.

submariner said...

This morning I took my five year old daughter to see a production of The Nutcracker at the Batimore Symphony Orchestra. While exiting I noticed my United States Senator, an unassuming man who responded with a broad easy smile when I approached him. Nobody else seemed to recognize him. I couldn't determine his IQ but there was no reason to believe that it was greater or less than average.

Kip and Dragon, I would refer you to the work of Claude Steele who has found that stereotype threat explains the gap in test scores. Until racism is eradicated, all these studies will rightfully raise suspicion.

cnulan said...

My initial response is online.

David, you may rest assured that I have minimal interest in the quality of traffic that your level of discourse engenders.

LennieG said...

UndercoverBlackMan said: Now Doc, don't tell me you came in my house and picked this fight with me a few days ago just to drive traffic to your own blog??

You evil genius you...

LOL! Whew, this is better than any soap opera.

David, how on earth did you---a man who loves music and who often posts music posts, end up in this controversy?


Undercover Black Man said...

The music keeps me sane and happy, Lynn. But every once in a while I like to probe the Big Questions.

I might even throw down on evolution one day. (I'm for it.)

cnulan said...

the companion piece is now online as well.

Dragon Horse said...


here is the big thing. How much of it is nature and how much is nurture. Even hard core hereditarians do not claim IQ is 100% nature.

If it is all environment then how do we make every kid Einstein? I don't think most people believe that is possible.

Also if IQ test measure learned mental skills then why does IQ stay pretty consistent from about 10-12 years old until late in life (when it starts to decline...we all know older people tend to get slower and loose memory, most of them).

For you to say it is all "learned" doesn't make sense as blacks of the same "income status" as whites or go to the same school get lower grades, score lower on IQ tests, SATs, etc. This is all well documented and if you want studies I can provide them.

On the other hands...poor Chinese people in China score an average of 100, blacks in American score 85...are you telling me that poor Mainland Chinese people, who have an average income of $3,000 a year have a higher education level than black Americans? Do they have a better environment? Less pollution for instance or better health care?

Why is it that the average East Asian (not Southeast Asian) socre higher than Europeans in Europe, and whites in America also score lower than East Asian Americans who grow up here? This also highly correlates with test scores. East Asians have the highest test scores in the world, and who has the highest test scores in America? East Asians. If you break whites up into ethnic groups, it would be Jews (Ashkenazim) as far ahead of all other whites.

Why are these differences apparent by junior high school.

UCBM is right, most of the refutation of these things is very very weak. It does not answer the questions.

While the hereditarians have circumstantial evidence and correlation, but no real "genetic proof" to point to and measure against, they can infer it.

People who argue there is no genetic difference in populations have almost no proof to stand on but "belief"...even most nurture people say there is likely some genetic differences but they are "just few and far between and do not account for the gap"...when challenged they don't come up with strong arguments.

This is the problem.


Stereotype Threat has been publicly disputed and destroyed. It was nonsense.

To all:

The thing I can't get around is very simple. I talked about some pretty complex things in a simplified way...but really for me it is much more simple.

geneticist have found that different populations have different gene frequencies. Sometimes they have genes that do the same thing.

Skin Color Convergence in Asians and Europeans

Lactose Tolerance in Europeans different than in East Africans:

The question is...if populations can have different frequencies of genes, why can't they have different frequences of genes that effect intelligence?

We know individuals do?

It is like saying.

All the genes or most of them that effect intelligence fall in a bell curve equally in every single population on earth?

This convergent evolution also proves "recent evolution".

White skin evolved recently, maybe in the last 10,000 years, before that everyone was dark (at least as dark as a Bushman). Light skin evolved in two different source populations in two different ways on different sides of Eurasia.

What people are saying is is not likely or not possible that anything having to do with the brain changes or evolved in that time and different populations can not have different frequencies of genes.

I find that very hard to believe.

I'm not saying I believe blacks or any group is genetically less intelligent than another.

What I'm saying is I can't rule it out until I see more evidence. As far as I'm concerned it can not be answered definitively at this side.

submariner said...

Dragon, the 'science' is fundamentally flawed. We don't even have an objective indicator for race-a social construct much like religion. Racial masquerading is as much a part of true life as it is in the fiction of Philip Roth, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. How many 'whites' in these studies are themselves or descendants of light-skinned blacks who decided to pass?

Except for the extremes, the broad ranges of IQ hold no practical relevance.

Michael Fisher said...


" We don't even have an objective indicator for race..."

Like I said... One sentence.

Ding. Knock out. Debate over.

Undercover Black Man said...

What does the lack of an objective indicator for race have to do with the question of whether cognitive aptitudes are, in some part, genetic?

Dragon Horse said...


Stick with me for a minute. What you said really doesn't matter at all. Michael doesn't know that much about genetics, so he thinks the arguments ends, it doesn't, it just gets complicated.

Forget "race" think continental group.

Look at the first chart on this page, it is by research of Dr. Cavalli-Sforza, considered the foremost expert on population genetics, he is not quack or race freak, he is the mentor of the guy leading the National Genographic Genographic project.

You can see from the map the relationships do not perfectly match up with what we consider "race" in America, but pretty close.

These are average genetic distances between populations, look how they group together, if you created a "cloud" chart for each one, you can group Caucasians (including Berbers, Arabs and Persians), East Asians, Southeast Asians, black Africans, South Pacific/Australians...

Any geneticist can tell by your DNA 90% of the time if you are black, white, or Asian. Sometimes they can even tell if you are more likely to be an Arab or more likely to be from the Levant, or more likely to be from Central Asia, but that is less certain. What we can almost always tell is sub-Shara African, European, or Asian. They do that through admixture test or Y Chromosome or MtDNA test. Why? Because of gene frequency. There are certain genes are are rare or nonexistent across continental areas due to bottlenecks that occurred due to geographic barriers. This did not stop gene flow but limited it. In some cases, certain genes might have come across (like skin color) but were selected against because they had no utility. Being dark skinned 5,000 years ago in Northern Europe would likely lead to rickets and a weak immune system due to lack of vitamin D due to a lack of sun exposure. That person would likely not live long enough to reproduce, even if they did, they would be few and far between and their children would eventually "whiten" because everyone around them would be 'white". White skin in Ghana would result in constant sunburn, infection or cancer, leading to an early death, likely in childhood, so...

This all causes different gene frequencies in populations. Doe gene frequencies exactly match up with race? No. But how it works is, usually the further someone is in distance from you the less related they are from you. So a Russian is genetically divergent from a Scot, but not as much as a Scot from a Ghanaian, on average. A Nigerian is much more genetically divergent from a Kenyan than a Korean is from a Southern Chinese person (because older populations (Africans being the oldest) have more time to develop genetic divergence) Africans lived in Africa far longer than Asians lived in Asia.

So is there overlap between continental groups? Are there people in Ethiopia who are pretty much indistinguishable from people in Yemen? yes. The further you go into Africa from Ethiopia and the further you move into the Middle East from Yemen the more divergent the populations get from that Ethiopian/Yemeni coastal group.

Got that?

if you want to see a bottleneck, a big one go the Hindukush, those mountains created a huge one. On one side you have Indians and the other you have Mongoloid (Chinese), the only intermediate population is Nepal, a very small nation...that is about it, there is a small one between Bangladesh and Myanmar, but that is about it...very little transition in appearance, it is very sudden. Ural mountains is another but less so.

So can we group people into races, and do the races roughly conform to continental groupings in gene frequencies? Yes. Is it exact? no, but as I said, most geneticist can tell over 90% of the time who is black, white, or Asian by looking at your genes.

That is globally.

Now, does this work in Latin America or with black Americans? Less so with Hispanics, more so with black Americans, but it is still not as exact as measuring Swedes, Nigerians, and Koreans.

Hispanics are often too mixed to work well...well most, some Hispanic populations like Argentinians are pretty close to pure white, others like Mexicans are mostly Amerindians, Dominicans are mostly black, Puerto Ricans, Columbian, Brazilians...are all mixed. I would say most Hispanics are Mestizo or Mulatto although there are pure Indians, blacks, and whites, even Asians in Latin America so you can tease it apart it is just far more difficult, so most people just group them as a race...accurate or not. Mexican Americans tested in the US, score a little bit higher than blacks, but are close to blacks in IQ than whites, they score around 90. Dominicans and clue. I would expect them to score somewhere between black Americans and whites as well.

You mentioned whites with black ancestry.

Typically if some one is so white they are considered white in America, but have a black ancestor, their amount of black ancestry is very small, less than 15%. Could they have more black ancestry but not appear black? Yes. That situation is rare and not the norm. There have been genetic test on whites in America. About 1/3 of them have none white direct ancestry, but the average is like 5%, that is not much. That should not be shocking as white in America "is pure or looks pure" black is any mutt mixture you can think of that has some visible African in it.

So black Americans are average 20% white. Some blacks are over 50% white (maybe Harold Ford Jr, Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry, etc) can not always tell admixture by appearance, but typically people over 50% white do not look like Shaka Zulu, that is another outliers. Most blacks in America are not Harold Ford Jr. They are not going to be that ambiguous on a admixture test. If the admixture test comes back 20-25% black that might be ambiguous as far as race, but that is rare. The average comes back 80% black and 20% European, which I can tell 95% or more of the time, not even seeing the persons face that they are black in America.

Also we can look at their IQ test and consider that 20% nonwhite ancestry if we want and add or subtract from based on racial averages, and guess what? This has been done and it correlate. Want to read the study of how biracial kids do as compared to black and white? They score in between on average, around 90-92, about where you would expect.

Because of this, some hereditarians propose that black Americans score higher on IQ test than black Africans, not just due to better environment, but due to white admixture with slave masters (assumption is slave masters who own big plantations were more intelligent than the average white man anyway).

As far as "white Americans" and admixture, most white Americans, are really white, black Americans are mostly black but not "really really black" in any case, white American average IQs are lower than Germans, Dutch, and Italians.

None of this contradicts any of the theories I proposed. That is the problem I have.

IQ has not practical relevance. I think you should read the Bell Curve, then I will hip you to the flaws in it (oh there are some, some big ones) and then we will revisit practical relevance.

Here is something to think on.

If the average white IQ is 100 and the average black IQ is 85-90, there is some debate in the literature on this.

If both populations have equal standard deviations.

If 110 IQ is the average for a bachelors degree

If 69 is retarded.

What percentage of blacks have an IQ that will allow them to complete a BA/BS degree at an accredited school in something that can get them a job.

What percentage of blacks are retarded as compared to whites?

What percentage of blacks would you expect to have Master's degrees, Phds, Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers. This correlates to at least a 115+ IQ.

Would that ever be on par with whites or Asians (by percent of population)?

Do you believe someone with an IQ of 90 can earn a middle class living in today's society? If so, how much harder would they have to work to get that to make up for the fact they are competing with a crap load of whites with an IQ of 1OO or greater?

Another way to look at it is out of 40 million blacks, there are about 6-7 million with IQs greater than the white average. So out of that 6-7 million how many will ever even go to college and complete college? Can't be all 6-7 million unless you are seriously dumbing down the curriculum.

This is where the rubber hits the road with these theories. This is why people are arguing over these things.

If you say that the average black IQ is 85, and that is mostly genetic, the next argument will be...affirmative action in education and hiring is a waste of time because most blacks will never be in a position to take advantage of it, only a handful of elites. that is what is happening really anyway, affirmative action does nothing to help the lowest blacks, because the lowest blacks drop out of high school and have felony convictions, no AA is going to cure that. AA helps blacks like us who go to college or at least finish high school or some technical program.

Basically the typical rallying cry will be defunct, that "lack of equal outcomes is a sign of racism" instead it will be reversed. One would never expect equal outcomes because racial intelligence levels are not equal.

If the average black IQ is 85, people will argue a lot of things you don't want to hear and things that might scare both of us. This is why we need to educate ourselves to these arguments. This is serious.

Like I said, no one can properly refute these arguments logically.

I'm not completely sold on this IQ thing, but what I want is someone to show me why it can't be true. I have not yet seen that argument.

Undercover Black Man said...

Dragon Horse, I appreciate the time you've taken to break it down. And I appreciate the spirit with which you've done so.

Michael Fisher said...


"What does the lack of an objective indicator for race have to do with the question of whether cognitive aptitudes are, in some part, genetic?"

Because, at the core, the question of the inheritableness of intelligence was posed by you in terms of human-sub groups. You didn't define those sub-groups. Fact is, you can't. Unless of course, you define them in accordance with what you are measuring, intelligence, and try to express it in terms of I.Q.

The fact that intelligence is inheritable is obvious. Dogs don't operate on the same level of what define as intelligence as humans do. In the last analysis it is that intelligence that defines us as human.

Thus the term "homo sapiens sapiens" as the descriptor for our species.

The problem is, you just can't break down humans into further sub-groups on an objective and, above all, genetic, basis.

What makes "skin color" (which shade?) a more legitimate "racial" marker than anus diameter? Or anus radius? (what diameter value, what radius value).

Nulan couldn't really strike back at your argument on that basis, because he posits the existence of genetic races as well. Only not on the basis of skin color, but on the basis of "dopamine level" i.e.:

"The organisms (animals and humans) that get addicted are the ones that started genetically with low dopamine activity to begin with. This genetics separates people who get addicted and people who don’t." Nulan

(Which begs the question, even if this were so, at what measurable point is a low dopamine group separated from a high dopamine group. How is such a determination objectively, valuelessly made?)

The only way you can break down humans on a sub-group level is socially, that is, politically. This is the only way how a person of your and Craig's similar (but not identical) genotype can be identified as "black". Of course, that begs the question of your and Craig's genotypes being similar compared to what?

Thus the whole debate about intelligence is bullshit. All humans are intelligent, all humans inherit their intelligence. Maybe an individual human is more or less intelligent than another individual human. Who knows? Who knows why? But you can not logically maje any such statement about a "biological" or "genetic" group of humans based on skin color. Because you can not establish skin color or anything else as an objective marker.

Race, racism, white, black are all socio-political terms.

It ain't got nutin' to do with genetics. Thus you can't posit the question of "intelligence among blacks vs whites" in genetic terms. You can't do it. Impossible.

Michael Fisher said...

None of that shit Dragon Horse stated makes any logical sense whatsoever.

What are the objective genetic makers of a "white person"?

To make it more confusing: what is an "Asian"?

Is a person with folded eye-lids who resides in Antartica an Asian? How folded does that fold have to be to qualify? Where does that person have to live to qualify?

DH's wife is "Asian" he says. Asopposed to what? Are the "Japanese" a "race"? Can the "Japanese" be broken down into further "races" (Okinawan, etc)? And each of those into further "races"? Where do we stop? Why?

At the end of the day it all comes down to a socio-political definition.

All that shit is racist thinking. A socio-political form of thinking. That means all of you, Mills, DH, and Nulan are subject to racist ideology. Though, as each of you are subjected to racism, you are not racists. In order to do that you gotta be able to classify yourself as "white" (socio-political term) and make it stick.

Michael Fisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Fisher said...

Oh, and what is a"continental group"? What are the genetic markers of a "continental group"?

Why a "continetal group"?. What the fuck is a "continent" in the first place? Is Europe a "continent"? Is Africa? Where does does one continent begin? Where does the other end? OBJECTIVELY?

Like I said, it makes no logical sense whatsoever.

It's just all racist socio-political sloganeering.

Undercover Black Man said...

Fisher: "Maybe an individual human is more or less intelligent than another individual human. Who knows? Who knows why?"

Maybe an individual human is more or less intelligent than another individual human? Maybe?

Well, let's start there. As Nulan earlier pointed out, the entire science of psychometrics began (with Binet) to identify those with learning difficulties so they could get specialized help.

Turns out his test also identified those who excel extraordinarily at learning.

Today, society deems it valuable to identify those kids too... so that they can receive specialized instruction ("talented and gifted" programs, etc.)

I dare say that identifying learning-disabled kids and extremely bright kids -- and focusing extraordinary attention on each subset -- are pillars of the modern system of primary education.

For obvious reasons.

So identifying, as objectively as possible, those at the extreme ends of the bell curve is a legitimate social goal. So psychometrics is a valuable science, notwithstanding its history.

Let's leave sub-groups out of it... I haven't focused on group differences in IQ; I've focused on the legitimacy of researching the genetic component of intelligence, and the leftist ideology that attacks said legitimacy.

But if we keep it simple, it's not difficult to understand that intelligence is a measurable thing.

Not to get personal, but I bet private schools fell all over each other to enroll your teenage daughter. Would I go hungry if I bet $5 that your daughter attends private school? Judging from her comments during your throwdown with Cobb... and from what I saw of her blog (feel free to hyperlink it, Fish; I forgot the location), I know she's brighter than average... probably by a sizeable margin.

Has she been IQ-tested? (If the question is out-of-bounds, just say so, and I will withdraw it with apologies.)

Michael Fisher said...

No, My daughter goes to public school. Just as I did.

My daughter is extremly bright, but her grades are not very good. She is an extremly talented writer, but she doesn't do well in math.

She did an I.Q. test and is just 7 points below mine, and scored much better than I did at her age (13).

So what does that mean? I she more intelligent than I? Likely.

Me. I had great grades in first grade, after that...

I was set back TWICE in Junior High School. And due to some trickery on the part of my father I was skipped ahead at another school where I was a mediocre student in 10th grade and an honor and advanced placement student in 11th and 12th grade.

I got into Yale and Princeton (the only Ivy League schools I applied to) and Syracuse U, but didn't get into SUNY Albany or SUNY Binghampton (I applied to the Ivy League Schools on a lark).

I had a problem with math and needed a tutor for Calculus, but I figured out Einstein's theory of Special Relativity by the time I was 15 and used the concept of imaginary numbers in order to figure out how to use Einstein's theory to travel faster than light (I've always been a science fiction freak) and found out that I'd arrive in places before I left. I also figured out that the use of imaginary numbers would land me in alternate universes. All that way before David Deutsch came on the scene. I guess I discovered Tachyons all by my lonesome.

So, when was I intelligent and when was I not?

I made a lot of money for my comapny and married the wrong woman who done took it all. Not very intelligent of me.

I am trained as an attorney and won a case in Germany when I was a law student (I told a guy who had just graduated and had qualified for the German equivalent of the bar just ahead of me how to do it and wrote the briefs) which long-standing lawyers thought I had no chance of winning (against the Deutsche Bank) and the case ended up being used for the German bar exam in the state where I went to law school.

I litigated my divorce and custody battle myself and won in two super-pro woman and anti-black male legal jurisdictions and an openly gay feminist judge, but despite all that, I've never been able to cook really well.

I can fix my car and used to built BMWs out of scrap as a hobby, but I need to read Nulan's stuff three times before it makes any sense to me (well, some of it has yet to make sense).

I built an international company with offices in three countries from scratch a dozen employees, hundreds at times, but before that I was poor and did not grasp some of the most fundamental principles of business. So when was I being intelligent and when not?

I used to do poorly on standardized tests and do pretty well now.

I speak two languages fluently, dabble in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch, even a bit of Italian, but even after six year of years of Latin in school, plus a tutor (provided by the school system) I can only conjugate "amor amas amat amamus" (and that is where it stops).

So where am I intelligent there?

Some people tell me I am brilliant, and Nulan tells me I am stupid.

Who is right?

I would veture to guess that I am pretty dumb when it comes to certain things, certainly dumber that you, but I would also say that I am brilliant when it comes to other things, certainly more brilliant than you.

I would say looking at me and my daughter, that it is all relative. I mean the intelligence thing.

Michael Fisher said...

And last but not least...

I make all kinds of dumb typos when I post comments.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Whew! I was gonna sit this one out, but I got lost in all the science. Correlations and aptitude tests. Like Sly said on his classic, "Thank for letting me be myself again" (I know he spelled it phonetically in the true title), "Words in the way."

I got a question, what the fuck is intelligence? Because a bruh who speaks ebonics and can't locate Iraq on the map might be a genius on the basketball court. The bruh who can't sit through a calculus class might be genius in accounting techniques without knowing the so-called terminology commonly used in that practice. A dude might can't find his way around town without a map but might be genius when it comes to pleasuring women. Dudes who can't spell or write a grammatically correct sentence, as required by the accepted standards of grammar taught in schools, can spin a complex tale in rhythm and rhyme set to a phat backbeat.

I think everyone has their own genius.

Whether that translates into material success is a better question.

Because aptitude tests are inherently skewed.

If the standard of intelligence was a pimp-administered test to a bunch of suburban college prep course taking high school students instead of the SAT, what would the scores say about those students intelligence?

The heredity of intelligence, as an issue, is an incomplete topic. Because you have to ask yourself, what kind of intelligence are you measuring? It all seems to be a judgment call, and there can be no absolute answer to what it is and how it is quantified.

It is dependent on who the aptitude measurers are.

That, to me, seems to be the bottom-line. And that is the basic flaw in the premise of this argument. Because there's a lot of swimming as I see it.

cnulan said...

Nulan couldn't really strike back at your argument on that basis, because he posits the existence of genetic races as well. Only not on the basis of skin color, but on the basis of "dopamine level" i.e.:

Wow, the fingerpaint version of the dopamine deficiency hypothesis..., thanks.

cnulan said...

But if we keep it simple, it's not difficult to understand that intelligence is a measurable thing.

Sounds innocent enough. But this ahistorical and unscientific "simplicity" is precisely the sugarcoating required to get you to internalize and become an apologist for an entirely racist hypothesis.

Michael Fisher said...


"Wow, the fingerpaint version..."

Also Nulan...

"This genetics separates people who get addicted and people who don’t"

Samuel A. Cartwright (paraphrased}

"This genetics separates people who are black and people who are white"

cnulan said...

High levels of dopamine impairs the minds ability to think creatively. Worse yet, the dopamine is highly addictive. Recent research shows that almost by definition, addictive drugs are ones that raise dopamine levels. The more ritual dependent people become, the more easily they become irritated by upsets to their routine. In extreme cases people actually become angry when presented with a novel idea. They ridicule the person presenting the idea, but provide no arguments saying what is wrong with it.

Michael Fisher said...


Dragon Horse said...

Here is a new article in the NY Times:

It talks about Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia.

The thing is that blacks who do not grow up in poverty and live at the same level and same neighborhoods as their white peers score lower on IQ tests, lower on SATs, etc.

So although IQ does rise, it does not rise to equilibrium...

He also talks about the problem of relying on indirect evidence, but science often does that when they can not measure something directly...this is not unusual to use correlations in social science or hard science.

He also says this:

"If European intelligence genes are superior, then blacks who have relatively more European genes ought to have higher I.Q.’s than those who have more African genes. But it turns out that skin color and “negroidness” of features — both measures of the degree of a black person’s European ancestry — are only weakly associated with I.Q."

First off, that is obviously going to be the case. You can't measure the admixture of European lactose intolerance in black Americans by looking at their facial features.

Genes mix, it is not like because someone has a white grandparent they have 25% white genes. it doesn't work like that, could be more or less. This is why people like Anatole Broyard who has kids with black ancestry do not have the same amount of black ancestry, although they both have him as a father and a white mother. They both took admixture tests, they are not the same.

For the author to make a statement like that tells me he doesn't know much about genes.

The WWII thing is obvious. The army has an aptitude test, people who are too dumb can't get in, that means the black and white people were likely equalized when they came in. It is not a true distribution of the populations.

The thing about asking black kids if they have "white ancestors" is stupid. My grandfather had wavy hair and grey eyes on my mothers side, but he was "black" to me due to the one-drop rule. So surveys like that mean little. We consider Vanessa Williams black, when she is obviously mostly white.

I have to run but this article is jacked.

More weak arguments.

Dragon Horse said...


IQ is not a measure of what you have learned, it measures your ability to learn. So the fact someone can not spell or can not use proper grammar does not mean they are "dull". It just means they have not learned these things. There were many black geniues during slavery who were never allowed to express it because they were not allowed to "learn".


Believe me, I'm black and I DO NOT want to hear that black people are cognitively less than others, in fact I want to here we are superior to others. :-) This is why I'm looking for the magic argument to refute this stuff, I just haven't heard it.

I will try to answer your questions.

Don't cofuse biological continental groupings with social race.

Whites come from Europe. Asians, vary. There are East Asians, Southeast Asians, pacific/Islanders, South Asians, and Negrito/Austranesian types.

When we talk about Asian IQ test, they are almost always talking about East Asian (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese).

All the groups I have stated above have a genetic affinity to each other.

Phenotype overlaps with biological race but does not define it.

Negritos are more related to Southeast Asians than SubSahara Africans by far. In fact Negritos are about the most genetically distant people from black africans on the planet but look like a short version of them, although some of the Negritos are blond.

Bushmen have eye-folks like Chinese but are far more related to Bantu.

Negritos, some of them are blond. Some aboriginees are blond, but they are not closely related to Swedes.

You are confusing covergent evolution with genetic affinity.

My wife is Japanese. Japanese people call themselves a "race" often, but that is like many Europeans calling other nationality of Europeans a "race". That is not how race is definated in America or how biologist who study genetic continental groupings define race.

Why? Because Japanese are composed of Mongolian-type people who came from Central Asian through Korea, they are composed of Southern Chinese (likely from Fujian) who came to China turning the Tang Dynasty, they are composed of aborginal Japanese (Ainu) who founded the Jomon culture and came from the North and once lived everywhere on the islands and were aborbed or killed off (like Native Americans here). All of those groups make up Japanese today.

However all of those groups come from East Asia. And Japanese today are most closely related to Koreans, but also slightly more distantly related to Northern Chinese, then Mongolians...the genetic distance pretty much correlates with geographic distance for a reason.

I have to admit you are right, it comes down to socio-political.

We can say that people in Eurasia are a race and people in Africa are a race and Native America are a race. You could easily do that, and it would make sense to make three huge macro-races.

So there is a socio-political point.

The point is that in America, whites group together, blacks group together, etc. Now. Is the average white man more closely related to the next white man than to a black man. is the average black man more closely related to the next black man than a white man. Yes. Is the average white man in America more closely related to a Scot or a Russian than a Ghanian? Yes.

So it all correlates.

So if you have a political group that associates or identifies based on phenotype, people can test the group average of that phenotype for various things including intelligence.

What is a continent? Well, it is somewhat arbitrary, but it is really a landmass broken up from the next by a barrier.

Europe is the most arbitrary, but Europe is defined by the Urals, the artic, and the Med.

Black Africa by the oceans and North by the Sahara.

Now, can you find "white" people in Pakistan, Lebanon, Northern India, Afghanistan, Iran? People who, if they walked the street would be seen as 'white" in America, who are not from Europe? Yes.

It makes sense there is and has been limited gene flow over over these barriers. Can you find people are look as black as a SSAfrican in the Middle East or North Africa? Yep. Obvoius there was gene flow throughout history but the barriers limited it much more than they would have if it did not exist.

If there was no Ural mountains or Med...Europeans would likely not exist, they would be Mongoloid or Middle Eastern (dark Caucasion) in appearance. The fact you hvae a group of people who live in Europe who have so many ressessive traits and have so much genetic affinity to each other tells us that they did not outbread much, not enough to maintain continiuity with their closest neighbors.

I can pretty much define every single continent by land barriers. Asia is tricky because it is full of 'sub-continents' and those barriers typically have different looking people on each side for a reason.

As for your daughter. IQ does not measure creativity or work ethic. If your IQ is 125 and your daughter's is 120, is possible she is more creative than you or works harder than you ever did and she makes up the difference. She might also have more commonsense than you did at the same age.

Lets say you have an IQ of 85 and a MIT theoretical psychics professor has an IQ of 160. I don't care how much you work, how creative you are, or how much commonsense you have you will never get to his level, because the amount of work you will have to do to make up for the fact that things don't "come easy" is just too much to overcome.

As far as "dumb" to certain things.

IQ can be broken down into components, biggest ones are visual/spatial and linguistics.

They usually are not expressed equally in people.

Are you shocked to hear that East Asians have a higher average IQ than whites, by about 6 points (about a half a standard deviation), but Asians are weaker on linguistics, but superior on visual/spatial (about a standard deviation). If you look at who excels in math and science nationally and internationally it should not be shocking.

Christina said...

Damn...I'm a longtime lurker, but this conversation has drawn me out! I wish that I could say that I'm following all the science being thrown around here, but I can't...I'm just black.


This is some deep stuff, though, and it's really hitting me hard, both as a person who was tested and determined to be "gifted and talented" in my youth, (one day maybe it'll be interesting to talk about the problems with kids who believe intelligence is innate vs. something that can be developed) and also as a person who, in my current career, has a professional interest in the public k-12 education system.

Anyway, I'm dithering -- here's my question, for UBM. I do have to wonder what is the good in probing such a question as inheritability of intelligence? For whose benefit is this debate? I am cringing even as I'm typing that, because I don't like to think of myself as a person who would ever shut off any intelligent strand of inquiry. And I appreciate your attempts to blow up black liberal orthodoxy...everyone should liberate themselves from labels and think for themselves.

I know that there is nothing INHERENTLY wrong with discussing or positing that intelligence is inherited. But can that inheritability be expanded to racial groups as a whole? I just can't help thinking that arguing that certain racial groups may inherit a lower level of intelligence will only serve, in the real world (not the hypothetical worl that we're talking about here) to carefully entrench racism that does exist, either overt or benign. I just fear that when we start talking about intelligence, it's a hop-skip-jump away, for some people, to having it "confirmed" that black people are stupid because it's in our DNA. And, I'll admit my biases: I just don't want that to be true.

I have so much stuff swirling around in my head...I'll stop there. I feel like you guys all know each other and I'm butting in something personal, so I don't want to be a distraction.

Dragon Horse said...

Please excuse the misspelling in my last post...haha...technically I'm retarded. They don't call it that anymore, but I'm dyslexic, and I still have a "gifted" IQ haha. I believe the white man made me this way because if I was not, I would be dangerous. haha Just joking.

Conclusion of the NY Times article breakdown.

- They mention head size. No one contends that anymore but backwoods racists. In fact, I know there has been a study that shows black women have larger heads than white women.

You can not determine IQ by head size, the correlation is weak, even when you adjust for body size.

You can correlate highly with IQ by MRI of the frontal lobe.

NY Times ran an article on this too:

-Blood type is stupid. You can not tell racial genetic admixture by blood type.

-As far as the adoption test, that showed black children adopted by white families having higher IQ, I believe that, but what was the average black child's IQ who was adopted by whites as opposed to the average white child adopted? Was it the same or less?

The rest of the article (the last 15% was good, and should be explored more, but 85% of the article was fluff nonsense, that should have never been written as I can refute it in 10 minutes...obviously the author did not do his research.

cnulan said...

I know that there is nothing INHERENTLY wrong with discussing or positing that intelligence is inherited. But can that inheritability be expanded to racial groups as a whole? I just can't help thinking that arguing that certain racial groups may inherit a lower level of intelligence will only serve, in the real world (not the hypothetical worl that we're talking about here) to carefully entrench racism that does exist, either overt or benign. I just fear that when we start talking about intelligence, it's a hop-skip-jump away, for some people, to having it "confirmed" that black people are stupid because it's in our DNA. And, I'll admit my biases: I just don't want that to be true.

It's not true Christina - and given the value laden history and continuing practice of racial pseudo-science - there IS something profoundly wrong with positing and discussing this nonsense.

Would there be anything wrong with positing and discussing whether or not Jews are genetically greedy and usorious?

Mills isn't challenging any "liberal egalitarian orthodoxy" here, he's simply bought into racist propaganda perfected over decades in America to justify social injustice.

Michael Fisher said...

DH, you've made a ot of statements, but you still have not told me which biological markers differentiates on "biological continental grouping" from another and why you would choose those particular biological markers on an objective, social-valueless, basis.

Undercover Black Man said...

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this discussion. Expecially Fisher and DH and DeAngelo (who has pushed this blog to a deeper level of throwdownics)... but also Craig Nulan.

All bullshit aside, Craig, this has been an extraordinary conversation. I am very grateful to you for putting your whole heart and head into it.

(Now if we could only join forces and find the cracka behind the "Yacub 7 Ali" hoax. That jagoff is back in business, after a three-month hiatus.)

Fisher: "My daughter is extremly bright, but her grades are not very good."

First, I agree that she's a talented writer. She should blog more!

But the sentence I quoted makes the point: What's the true reflection of you daughter's cognitive aptitudes... the grades or the IQ test? I think that right there demonstrates the value of psychometric testing, as opposed to relying solely on classroom performance, to get a handle on how "bright" or "dull" a child is.

Undercover Black Man said...

Christina, thanks so much for de-lurking. I like how you kick it.

You asked: "I do have to wonder what is the good in probing such a question as inheritability of intelligence? For whose benefit is this debate?"

Excellent question. From my perspective, this debate is kinda key to figuring out what it means to have a "just society."

Liberals and many black partisans push for social policies like affirmative action and "two-tiered" college admissions processes to elevate the number of non-whites in elite institutions... as a matter of "social justice."

But is race-based special treatment just? Or is it just to have one standard by which all are to compete?

The liberal egalitarian orthodoxy has trained us to think that if, for example, the freshman class at MIT is 6 percent black (as it was in 2002), there's something manifestly wrong with the institution. After all, blacks constitute 12 percent of the U.S. population. Shouldn't 12 percent of each freshman class at MIT be black?

That way of thinking relies upon the assumption that all human subgroups are born with an equal distribution of cognitive aptitudes. But there's no reason to assume this. Science certainly hasn't established it, however much Nulan insists that it has.

Hence the value, in terms of setting policies in accord with a "just society," in researching the nature of cognitive aptitudes.

The mainstream of the black freedom struggle -- up till about 40 years ago -- was dedicated to breaking down the racist barriers which prevented black individuals from rising in accord with their talents.

There is simply no reason to believe -- except as a matter of egalitarian faith -- that if everyone competed and prospered in accord with one's talents, that there would be equal distributions of Jews, East Asians, Anglos, black folks, mestizos and Amerindians at all strata of society.

A cognitive elite is always gonna rise. (Or at least it should be allowed to.)

Christina said...

UBM: thanks for the warm welcome, and the thoughtful answer. I apologize in advance because I'm probably not going to come across as thoughtful as you are; you've pondered these issues and read far more on this topic than I have.

First though, I say "yes, yes, yes!" to your contention that such conversations are at the heart of what it means to have a just society. What I'm struggling with is, are we even doing all we can to ensure such a cognitive elite can arise -- be it 1 percent of black folk, 6 percent of us, or even 12 percent of us, based on our representation in society as a whole? And how will we know what that percentage is? This conversation just strikes me as a bit high-falutin', a bit pie-in-the-sky, when I'm not even sure we're at the place where everyone's innate intelligence can develop to its full extent. Show me that black kids and poor kids are being raised in equally language rich, brain-stimulating environments (which research shows goes to the heart of early reading, and I think early reading certainly has something to do with intelligence tests -- though I can't swear to it) and THEN we'll talk. :-)

I live in D.C., down the street from one of those troubled high schools I'm sure you heard about when you were in this area, UBM. And it just kills me to think that someone could use the cognitive elite argument to screw over those kids YET SOME MORE -- kids who have already been screwed over by the officials who run the schools (who are black!), screwed over by their parents (in some cases), screwed over by the circumstances of their birth, screwed over by their own silly brains, which have told them that being smart is acting white. I just cringe to think that someone could look at them and say, well, there's not enough cognitive elites there, anyway. So why worry about it?

I apologize for reacting to this emotionally, because emotions are easy to shoot down. I'm not trying to front like I have the answers to this. I think that you have a very valid point to look at AA and say, okay, is it really working to rejigger the system and put 12 percent of black kids in MIT -- I honestly don't know if that's the right way to go about things. I went to a nearly all-white high school and a nearly all-black college, and I feel blessed that in my college life I got to escape the "token" label.

I'm just not sure we've done all we can to get even the little bit of cognitive elites that we do have. I think, for the purposes of this conversation, that I may be "elite" -- some things come naturally. But I was also lucky that my natural gifts were encouraged and developed. Even a seed in rich soil can't grow in the dark, blah blah blah. :-)

Thanks again for letting me butt in.

Christina said...

Edited to add: I didn't mean, in my comments, to look like I was setting up a comparision between black kids and poor kids. I mean to include them in a group in comparison to non-poor, non-black kids. Sorry!

Undercover Black Man said...

^ "Show me that black kids and poor kids are being raised in equally language rich, brain-stimulating environments..."

Well, that brings up another part of it, Christina. These things you mention -- and many others that we could place under the label "good parenting" -- cannot be the function of the state.

These are functions of personal responsibility.

Probably everyone who has commented on this thread was intellectually and spiritually nurtured by conscientious parents or other family members. Which allowed our innate talents to flourish to the degree that they have. And this was accomplished before we set foot in kindergarten.

RC said...

Man, my brain and even my arms are tired from all of the heavy lifting I had to do here. I'm not sure what Christina's IQ is, but I think she had the most useful answers. Now I have to go over and read the CNulan site. I wonder if my dopamine levels are up to that.

DeAngelo Starnes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Undercover Black Man said...

Here's my last shot before we move on to other things, DeAng. You say: "When you start separating people based on their so-called ability to learn, you sentencing them to less than what their abilities may be."

Does that mean you don't believe that school systems should have "talented and gifted" programs or other accelerated curricula for kids who excel academically?

Christina said...

Are high dopamine levels good or bad?

I just still have concerns about arguments about cognitive elites when I don't think the science is anywhere near being able to tell us how many of these kids there *are*, and how many there *could be.* I just think that our measurement instruments are crude. The fact that I MAY have inherited a certain degree of intelligence only explains a fraction of the person I turned out to be.

I also may just have a general discomfort with the idea of an elite class in general. I'll have to think some more about that.

Anyway, my brain is all hurty going back and forth from this to Go Fug Yourself and Cute Overload. Math is hard! Let's go shopping!

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I had to delete my post because it was loaded with errors. I don't want anyone questioning my intelligence. With that ...

I'm with Christina on this one, too. And I won't repeat her remarks.

But this quantification someone's alleged intellegiance, i.e. an IQ test, is intellectual masturbation.

Because what is the purpose?

It seems to me that an IQ test is used to order society based on artificial and arbitrary measurements.

And to measure the inheritability of it is even more masturbatory.

dragonhorse, I don't buy your premise that an IQ test measures one's ability to learn. Because how do you know you're asking the right questions?

I go back to my point that everyone has a genius. The true test of any society, and the ones designated to teach which should be all of us, is to determine by how we all maximize everyone's gifts in such a way that we are all focused on constructive activity.

That to me would go a long ways towards constructing justice and balance as the standard for an economic, social, and political system.

When you start separating people based on their so-called ability to learn, you are sentencing them to less than what their abilities may be.

The question needs to be turned on the questioners. What have they done to help people maximize their gifts?

Because, while I may not be religious, I am spiritual, in a sense.

I just don't think the Creator put dumb muthafuckas in the world in the world for the so-called smart muthafuckas to take advantage of them. I just don't.

A lotta reading and contemplation in this post. Dave, you've taken it to another level.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Dave, you caught my last post when it was in its grammatically incorrect stage.

I am not opposed to gifted programs. It's a reward.

But I disagree with the merits of an IQ test. And I certainly disagree with the merits of the inheritability of IQ.

To the first point, I think we, as a society, have limited our recognition of intelligence. OR we downplay other means of intelligence-recognition. For instance, who's more gifted? The person in an accelerated academics program or the student in band camp? The student in AAU basketball versus the student in an AP honors course?

To me, there is no difference. Their geniuses are expressed differently. So that's why I'm not opposed to programs that recognize the gifts of intelligence.

What I oppose is this value judgment attached to so-called intelligence-measurement tests.

And to bring it home to the overall theme, I believe these tests are a function of white supremacy.


Because who controls the questions?

Like Pam Grier asked Samuel Jackson in Jackie Brown when Sam wasn't satisfied with her answers, she told him, "You ain't asking the right questions."

I don't need eugenics or aptitude tests to tell me how smart someone is. I start off with the premise that everyone is smart in their own way.

Confession: I do haul off and call many of my clients "dumb muthafuckas." But it's not because I think they're dumb. I actually think they're smart. But they do dumb shit.

But if I was to assess their "intelligence," I'd bet on them over a lot of so-called smart muthafuckas.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I forgot to address the inheritability of intelligence.

We all inherit the genes of our forebears.

Which is why there is a lotta parental abuse. "Boy, can't you do it? I did it!"

Parent ain't stepping back and recognizing the child's gift may not be the same.

We gotta step back from the macro-analysis and get micro with it.

Because I'd like to know whether these tests take into account rebellion or acquiescence. Fear of failure or true ability.

Those are helluva variables that could impact a so-called IQ test.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Stakes Be High, like a muthafucka!

Christina said...

Does that mean you don't believe that school systems should have "talented and gifted" programs or other accelerated curricula for kids who excel academically?

Ooh, ooh, I have an answer to this!

(Once a girl delurks you can't ever get her to go away again!)

I do believe that we have a responsibility to encourage truly talented and gifted kids. There are some children out there that are just off-the-charts in terms of intelligence, and that has to be nurtured. That's part of our future, right there. (And, I'm not sure if that's inherited. A lot of those kids have bright, but not astoundingly intelligent, parents.)

But I think that the "average" GT kid like me -- a kid who just happened to read and write well -- should be exposed to an enriching curriculum. As should all kids. I would recommend longer school days, so that kids could explore items that interest them outside of the basic academics, and also yearround school. I think that too many parents who know how to work the system are getting their kids labeled GT (often, these aggressive parents are white) because they just want their kid to get the enrichment that every child *should* have.

I also think there's a real danger for kids in telling them that intelligence is innate, rather than something they can develop. That's been studied, and it's certainly been my own experience. As long as I was learning something that was easy for me, like reading? Everything was cake. When I got into calculus? I folded like a cheap lawn chair. And that's because I hadn't been taught about the value of intelligence as something that could be developed and practiced. I thought either you had it, or you don't. Calculus was hard for me, therefore I thought I was bad at it and didn't try.

Which maybe, weakly, ties us back to what we've been talking about. Yeah, some things you inherit (though I should have inherited better math skills because my father was a math teacher and has a doctorate in chemistry) but you really *can* work yourself into a higher level of cogntion. I just don't think it's all cut and dried so neatly, and I'm not sure IQ tests can fully measure that.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Christina, I think you're on point. Encouragement and development of gifts is much more important than a test of what may be perceived of innate intelligence. And life's experience has taught us that.

And I deal with it with my son all the time.

Because if a test defined him, then we'd be in trouble.

But day-to-day conversation is more true to the mark.

Thembi said...

First, let me be the chick who works in standardized testing for a tick...please do not confuse SAT scores with IQ scores - these are two COMPLETELY different measures. Standardized academic tests are built against learning standards, not aptitute standards (no, the A in SAT does not stand for fact, SAT doesnt even stand for anything anymore!) - the SAT and tests like it measure how well you understand certain academic topics like division, comprehension, etc., while IQ is a measure of an amorphic idea of "intelligence" that has still not been fully defined. While you can't cram for the SAT, the idea is that you have spent your life preparing - IQ assumes an innate level of ability so the two concepts cannot even be compared, especially when we are speaking from a socioeconomic stanpoint.

That said, I am a person with a high IQ, and even I think its kind of bs, because since I do have a high IQ, should the concept of IQ or Mensa come up in conversation, occasionaly someone tells me that they are also a member. Inevitably, this person is often unemployed or underemployed, but is rarely looking to turn their career around. What Im saying is, potential and reality are two very different things. Inner city and black youth get played as far as opportunity pretty consistently, but on the converse, motivation and ambition are nowhere near the same as IQ. For 90% of us it boils down to being Head Career Number Cruncher when you have a high IQ and no ambition instead of just a pure peon, not the next Stephen Hawking if you DO have the ambition and that high IQ. And since I'm as black as the day is long I'm 99% sure there is no pure genetic basis - my whole family is full of brilliant people, not because of genes but because of values.

And thanks for shouting out that Good Times episode ("The house has 4 beds and a sofa. How many people can sleep in the house?" "Well, where I'm from you put three in each bed, one on the sofa, and one in the bathtub!"). Although its usually not that cut and dry, I can say from professional experience that changing even a single word in a test question (for example, a math question about the number of stitches in a quilt vs the number of stitches on a basketball - yes a huge disparity exists between males and females, too) changes everything DRASTICALLY. And when I say drastically, my professional responsibility will only allow me to say that many a test question has been thrown out becase of the failure to find neutral topics.

Meanwhile, as the public we believe in ANYTHING...first its low sodium, then its low fat, then its low carb - all suggested by 'experts' who keep changing their minds. I dont think that IQ is any different. Yeah its way better to have your act together, go to Harvard, and get a high paying job, but you don't need a high IQ to do so. And you certainly can't cash a high IQ in at the bank, cuz if you could I wouldnt be breaking my back trying to pay these here student loans, you feel me?

I also took classes under Gould and considered him a genius. To be fair, I am a liberal (almost a hippie), but also a math/science type. The data in the Bell Curve SIMPLY DO NOT HOLD UP FROM A SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE and that is ALL I ever needed to learn about it.

As much as I hope the powers at be get their act together, this Writers Strike is really resulting in some great posts around here...

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Ain't you sweet?

Great comment top to bottom, Thembi. (I haven't seen that "Good Times" episode since I was a kid... you got me wanting to see the whole thing again.)

And of course, a high IQ ain't everything. I seem to recall a big-time porno actress who boasted of being in Mensa. And of course serial killers are known for their high intelligence... I read somewhere that the SKs on death row in some California prison spend their days playing chess with each other.

One can be highly intelligent and evil. One can be highly intelligent and neurotic to the point of uselessness. One can be highly intelligent and a roaring alcoholic. One can be highly intelligent and lack common sense (he said as he lit up a Dunhill).

As a public discussion, this thing can get muddled so many different kinds of ways. But as much as some people want to talk about "different kinds of intelligences"... let's be real. The "kind of intelligences" that lead to a law degree, an economics degree, a computer science degree, a medical degree, etc., are the "kinds of intelligences" that will be highly rewarded in our society. For good reason. We need smart people to make shit run... like hospitals and banks and airlines and police departments.

Every person has equal human worth... which is not incompatible with understanding that not every person has equal capabilities. And in general, looking at the broad sweep of society, the cognitive elite will rise to the top in terms of wealth, prestige and power.

Christina said...

Do you think that a system currently exists that recognizes black "cognitive elitea" and rewards them at the same rate as cognitive elites of other races are rewarded?

(I'm really asking, not trying to be all up in your face, challenging.)

I don't want to get into a "the man is keeping us down!" argument because that's not where I'm coming from. But heck, earlier last week we had people, black and white, who were quick to blame Sean Taylor for his own murder. As Gene Robinson of the WaPo wrote, innocent until proven guilty doesn't seem to apply to black men even when they are *victims* of crime. Are we truly at a place where cognitive elites are recognized, or are they considered wacky anomolies?

Here's a true story, you can ask my daddy; he LOVES to tell it: my white principal (they aren't all devils!) in elementary school recommended to my parents that I be IQ tested to see if I was qualified for the county's gifted and talented program. So in fifth grade I was tested, and fell a few points short of the mark. The principal didn't think the result matched my abilities, and suggested that my father talk to the psychometrician who gave the test.

So, he went out to the school, and she walked him through what she had done, and whoops! She had actually calculated the results wrong. Can you believe that? Literally, a clerical error would me from being labeled GT, or "cognitively elite." I don't believe those few points made me smarter, but I do believe the label made a difference in how I saw myself, just like being called stupid a lot makes a difference for kids.

I personally am willing to listen to an argument that balancing the MIT incoming freshman class purely on racial lines may be too crude an instrument to effect racial justice. But just using IQ tests to find our "cognitive elites" -- I think that's too crude an instrument as well. A cognitive test might not catch that kid who'll get to MIT and work his ass off, maybe won't get the highest grades, but will be immeasurably improved by the experience. It's okay to go to college even if you're not a high-flyer! Hell, it worked for me. And no one asks me anymore what my grades were, what my SAT score was, whatever.

Even college admissions officers say they're looking for "well-rounded" students...why don't they just IQ test everyone and be done with it? Because there's more to intelligence than just IQ. IMO.

This is a great convo, UBM. I enjoy wrestling with these deep thoughts.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

"Even college admissions officers say they're looking for "well-rounded" students...why don't they just IQ test everyone and be done with it? Because there's more to intelligence than just IQ."

That quote, to me, defeats all this "I went to Harvard. I went to MIT. I tested off the charts. I'm smart. My kids are smart but don't show it" bullshit.

IQ scores are another means of ordering society. They are artifical and arbitrary measures of one's intelligence, and more important, character.

Give a responsible, gifted person an equal opportunity to run shit and IQ scores become what they are - bullshit.

James C. Collier said...

David: Sorry for bouncing in late... but one of Christina's early questions got my attention.

"I do have to wonder what is the good in probing such a question as inheritability of intelligence? For whose benefit is this debate?"

There’s lots of confusion between genetics, related to intelligence, and heritability, the passing on of genes.

First off, homo sapians have not been around long enough (150K years) for more than crude distinctions in genetically influenced intelligence. This is evidenced in the research of sphingolipid brain (disorders) polymorphisms of Ashkenazi Jews, with their 15 point IQ advantage and accompanying Tay-Sachs fatalities.

Even so, non-African ethnicities persistently represent a one-sigma advantage, not via genetic diversion but rather simple intelligence distribution. The most intelligent Africans successfully walked out of an inhospitable Africa between 7 and 50K years ago, whereby their skin adapted genetically to the changing sunlight and rather quickly for survival's sake. Hair and eyes followed as mutations that stuck and proliferated through sexual selection.

The new non-blacks passed on their advantage, as well as their adaptations and mutations, via their genes, just as Africans passed on their place on the intelligence distribution to their progeny.

Now mix in with this the impact of the many technical leaps humankind has experienced in different venues around the world over the last 7K years and you have the makings of history and the disparities we see today.

As for why care about this? For me, it is important to get the cart and the horse in the correct order. Race differences trail, rather than drive, the distinctions in the distribution of intelligence around the globe. Social differences weigh-in more each passing day. With this understanding perhaps we can get to the business of figuring out how to really confront the disparities tearing us apart.

Regards to all,

Comb & Razor said...

ha... i remember that episode of "Good Times"... and i remember thinking the same thing--especially since i failed the "black" IQ test myself!

Christina said...

Here's what I really want to know: who is that guy linked to at the bottom of the original post. The guy in bed with the porn-stache?

cnulan said...

Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone.

I'm Holiday and David was Johnny Ringo.....,

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Yah... and I caught Doc out on one of his bad-TB days! ;^D

Undercover Black Man said...

Jim Collier, thank you for joining us.

You wrote: "The new non-blacks passed on their advantage, as well as their adaptations and mutations, via their genes, just as Africans passed on their place on the intelligence distribution to their progeny."

Now that's a provocative hypothesis! If Nulan thinks my shit is racist, wait'll he gets a load of you!

James C. Collier said...

OK D, Targets love other targets, but ain't no safety in numbers with this hot spud. And before we in the same boat, how do you think white folks got their sigma on us? Cause I'm way out their saying whiteness, as in skin color, is irrelevant in the genetic sense.

Undercover Black Man said...

... how do you think white folks got their sigma on us?

If I had to wager, Jim? I'd guess it had something to do with genomic adaptations to a cold climate.

But I hasten to add, I'm not student of the subject. I am moved to put the bulls-eye on my back simply to oppose, on principle, those ideological shout-down artists and racial partisans who would quarantine certain areas of inquiry with the R-word.

James C. Collier said...

David: I agree that the beat downs come hard and fast, with the result that critical thinking suffers. But if I walk into hostile dialog with just my principles, I'm a dead man. You got a cape or somethin' somethin'?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Just my principles and my wits, bruh-mayne. And I'm still standing.

cnulan said...

I am moved to put the bulls-eye on my back simply to oppose, on principle, those ideological shout-down artists and racial partisans who would quarantine certain areas of inquiry with the R-word.

so when do you begin your advocacy for the study of genetic greed and usury among jews?

seems like perfectly valid "race science" to me - but how quickly would it get shouted down in the public square? Seems ridiculous on the face of it? But if you don't feel compelled to defend that on principle, how then defend the genetic pseudo-science of "race" and IQ?

Go educate yourself David - and stop striving to make Sgt. Waters proud.

Undercover Black Man said...

Craig wrote: "so when do you begin your advocacy for the study of genetic greed and usury among jews? seems like perfectly valid 'race science' to me "

If such predilections evinced themselves via psychometric testing, I'd be right there with you, Craig.

James C. Collier said...

OK Guys: researchers are indeed studying European Jews and their balance polymorphic character, whereby over 1,000 years of anti-semitism and racism created a genetically controlled environment for this mutation to occur and 'stick'.

As well, they'd be all over sickle-cell if it was somehow connected to blacks running faster and jumping higher than everybody else - but it ain't, so they ain't. That's life.

Artificial I.Q. testing is no more or less a crude substitute for the every day testing we live - that of survival and advancement. Nonetheless, it does tell us useful things, particularly about relative intelligence among colliding societies.

Now if somebody is studying the Jews to reveal genetics of greed, that's just plain stupid - or sarcastic. Or if they are saying that blacks are inferior by genetics, stupid again. But I don't mind stupidity as long as I get to argue against it. Being able to say stupid things freely is a revealing I.Q. test in and of itself.

If research shows that blacks score lower due, in part, to distributed intelligence dynamics pre-dating racial distinctions - now there's something worth considering. how does that work? What are they missing? Perhaps revised ed curriculum's are in order. One size don't fit all?

Arguing distinctions of race, where it is a driving factor, is a fools intellectual errand - although in the case of this blog, very entertaining.

odocoileus said...

Coming in late. CPT and all that.

If cold adaptation is the answer, why doesn't it work for Amerindians and their descendents like Mexicans? Nobody's more cold adapted than the Native peoples of Canada and the Northern Great Plains. They have massive social problems, and are worse off than black Americans in the US and Canada.

These places have always been a lot colder than Western Europe. Western Europe's extremely mild for being at such a high latitude.

Of course, the academic racialists don't obsess about Native American IQ because Natives aren't numerous, or politically and culturally influential the way black Americans are. Dare I say it, it's our meteoric rise that's the problem. From slavery and 99 % illiteracy to effective political control of most of America's major cities in a little more than a century. That's why we're worth hating.

And why have the Russians, easily the most cold adapted people in Europe, been so backwards? Why is their murder rate currently just as high as the black American murder rate?

Genetic arguments don't work here. And as Thembi noted, the stats in the Bell Curve fall apart under rigorous analysis.

It would be nice if black Americans were playing the same game as most white and Asian Americans, with the same fervor and consistency, but losing anyway.

This isn't what's happening. For black women under 30, three quarters of the kids they have are born out of wedlock. Black women also use abortion as birth control with much higher frequency than white women do. This suggests a lot of kids being conceived and born under less than optimal conditions. Less preparation, poorer or non existent prenatal care and nutrition.

Once the kids do arrive, they end up watching a lot more TV, reading and being read to much less often, and eating a lot more junk food, than white kids. The studies bear this out, but I've also seen it with my own eyes.

It's much easier too deny the value of IQ tests than it is to address the real problems, so black politicians and school officials prefer to do nothing.

Undercover Black Man said...

Odocoileus, thanks for joining in. You know the fight done moved up the street, right?