Well, it was quite a weekend over here in the House of Love, huh? My thanks to all who chose to get their legs wet in that conversation about race and IQ.
I have one more point to make before recommencing the “Stakes Be High” dialogues with DeAngelo Starnes.
First, though, this all transpired because a blogger named Craig Nulan charged (in a comment thread here) that my notions on the heritability of intelligence are “pseudo-scientific and anti-Black,” and that I cling to them “despite mountains of indisputable evidence to the contrary.”
Nulan literally counted the hours until I posted a fuller articulation of my views. Then he responded on his own blog.
I will leave it to any interested reader to decide which of us spoke plainly and which one argued poorly... which one is ideology-driven and deliberately oblique.
Now, to my additional point. It’s a simple one and should be of interest to those who argue that “intelligence” is hopelessly indefinable (while I think that high intelligence is a quality all of us recognize when we encounter it).
Craig Nulan informed me that he is affiliated with Kansas City’s W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center – a “tutoring program for elementary and secondary students in the areas of reading, mathematics, science, and computer science.” It is a volunteer program that serves about 400 students a year, mostly public-school kids.
On the Learning Center’s website, co-founder Leon Dixon, Jr., describes one of the center’s success stories... a young woman named Lisa:
“Lisa became a Learning Center student while in elementary school and demonstrated superior ability. She was placed in the enrichment program wherein she continued to excel. As a result, The Kansas City, Missouri School District allowed her to take freshman algebra during her seventh grade year. Lisa’s academic performance enabled her to receive a scholarship to Praire View A&M University where she graduated in mechanical engineering.”
Now, what did Mr. Dixon mean when he said Lisa had “demonstrated superior ability”? Did he mean that she worked harder than the other kids?
I think we all know what he meant: Lisa was exceptionally bright. And this was obvious way back in elementary school. And it’s probably no surprise to anyone that Lisa now holds an engineering degree.
If Nulan tutors kids in computer science, he must know that not every kid is destined to attend MIT. Those who might be... well, I bet Nulan can tell.
In my sixth-grade public-school class, I was considered one of the three “smart boys.” Another was Sidney Lowe. Our teacher – the only male teacher I had in elementary school – possessed a sense of humor. He nicknamed the three of us after classroom reference books. One of us was “Webster,” one of us was “Thorndike,” and I forget the third one. (I also forget who was which.)
Sidney Lowe, even in sixth grade, excelled at basketball. So it’s no surprise that he eventually played in the NBA. But due to his intelligence – on display at that early age – it’s also no surprise that he now makes his living as an NCAA Division I head coach.
We shouldn’t ignore our simple, real-world understanding of what “intelligence” is – and what it means – as we navigate this politically and scientifically complex subject.
Speaking of politically and scientifically complex...
While Craig Nulan marches up and down the sidewalk wearing a sandwich board that says “IQ is meaningless!” on the front and “Psychometrics is racist!” on the back... guess what? A subset of the high-IQ population is doing things like mapping the human genome, putting machines on the surface of Mars (and communicating with them), and pondering the nature of subatomic particles.
Hell, it takes a high IQ to even comprehend that stuff, let alone do the actual science.
This in itself renders silly any black-partisan blustering about the unknowability of “intelligence,” or the relativism of different kinds of intelligences. Whitey done sent a spaceship past Saturn, got-dammit! How you sound, talkin’ ’bout “IQ ain’t shit”?