11 May 2006

Race v. Racialization II: IQ

The Objectivist
RACE DIFFERENCES IN INTELLIGENCE
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
5/10/06


Perhaps the most controversial issue in academia concerns the best explanation of race differences in group intelligence. Researchers such as J. Philippe Rushton, Arthur Jensen, Richard Herrnstein, and Charles Murray argue that there are race differences in intelligence and that they are in part due to genetics. IQ scores are test scores that are thought to reflect a person’s intelligence level. These researchers report that in the U.S., whites on average have a higher IQ than blacks (about 15 points higher, roughly a standard deviation). This means that the average white person tests higher than about 84% of black persons and the average black person tests higher than about 16% of whites. They also report that East Asians (e.g., Japanese and Koreans) on average have a higher IQ than whites (about 6 points higher).

There are two competing explanations of these differences: the culture-only theory (culture alone explains these differences) and the hereditarian theory (both culture and genetics explain the differences). In an article that attempts to summarize recent research on the topic, Rushton and Jensen argue that the evidence supports the hereditarian theory. One piece of evidence they cite is the clear worldwide ordering of IQ scores and related tests. Across cultures, East Asians score the best, whites in the middle, and blacks the worst. It is hard to see how the culture-only theory can explain the uniform ordering and similar scoring across cultures. The hereditarian model also explains why American blacks score much better than sub-Saharan blacks given that the former have white ancestors (on some estimates as much as 30% European genes).

A second piece of evidence they cite involves interracial adoption in Minnesota. This study found that Korean and Vietnamese children who are adopted by white families had IQs significantly higher than adopted siblings, despite the fact that as babies many were hospitalized for malnutrition. Black children adopted by white families ended up having IQs at the ordinary level for blacks (in Minnesota) and lower than that of their adopted siblings. Again, the hereditarian theory explains this in a more straightforward manner than the culturalist theory.

A third piece of evidence is that IQ tests show regression to race-specific mean. The idea of regression to the mean is that the children and siblings of persons with very high or low IQs are not as likely to have as extreme scores and the degree to which they move away from the extremes can be measured. White and black children and siblings tend to regress toward a race-specific level, as the hereditarian theory predicts.

Rushton and Jensen argue that cultural factors alone don’t explain these results. For example, socioeconomic status doesn’t account for it since two-thirds of the difference in scores remains even after this is taken into account. Nor statistically do specific factors such as differences in self-esteem, reading material, time spent on homework, parental education, father absence, etc. explain it. Culturally biased tests also don’t account for it. American blacks actually do worse on culturally fair tests than culturally loaded ones, whereas with East Asians the opposite is true.

We should also reject The Constructivist’s argument that the hereditarian theory should viewed skeptically because of the long history of racial pseudo-science and its use for abhorrent purposes. The past abuse of science casts doubt on its current use only if the latter involves similar sorts of errors and that’s what is at issue here.

To be fair, some scholars (e.g., Richard Nisbett) argue forcefully that a dispassionate reading of the evidence supports the culture-only theory and that researchers such as Rushton and Jensen have ignored and misinterpreted the most relevant data.

The good news for the left is that they need not rest their arguments for wealth redistribution, race preferences, and amnesty for illegal aliens on the culture-only theory. Arguments about equality of persons’ interests, the benefits of diversity, and the value of compassion (albeit with other people’s money) are independent of this theory. Thus, they can continue to support these programs and still avoid taking a side in this debate.

***

The Constructivist
THE RACIAL PROJECT OF RACIAL REALISM
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
5/10/06


What’s the best proof that racialization matters today? The very arguments of the “racial realists” who claim that races are real, not social constructs. In Racial Formation in the United States, Michael Omi and Howard Winant define racial formation as “the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed.” By contributing to ongoing debates over the meaning, reliability, validity, and referentiality of race, today’s racial realists are engaging in what Omi and Winant would identify as a “racial project” that “rearticulates” conventional meanings of race and thereby contributes to an ongoing process of racial formation.

When Steve Sailer or the bloggers who created Gene Expression use the term “race,” they define it quite differently than prior generations of racial scientists, who tended to privilege notions of racial purity, assign each individual to a single racial category, and place races within a rigid hierarchy. Today’s racial realists argue that advances in the study of human population genetics allow us to ground definitions of race in science, which produces methods for generating and assessing testable and falsifiable hypotheses. In offering their own hypotheses on the reality of races, they accept the claims (which many nineteenth-century racial scientists rejected) that all humans have a common ancestor, that any man and any woman can produce offspring, that human genetic differences form a patterned continuum. These patterned differences in human gene pools, they argue, arose from the effects of major barriers to human migration (such as the Sahara, the Himalayas, the Pacific, the Atlantic), which lead to migrating populations being geographically isolated from each other long enough for founders’ effects, natural selection, and genetic drift--along with cultural and social practices--to produce different races (understood as continent-scale differences in correlations of literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of alleles) and ethnic groups (understood as sub-groups within these larger gene pools). Rather than fulminate against what was called “amalgamation” or “miscegenation,” as did many nineteenth- and twentieth-century racial scientists, today’s racial realists see all living humans as different combinations of racial mixtures. Racial realists’ definition and use of “race” is so different from prior biologistic definitions and uses that one wonders why they choose to rearticulate rather than jettison the concept.

As an English professor, I find studies in genomics deeply satisfying--what else are scientists doing when “mapping” the human genome than attempting to “read” a very complex code? Where I part company with the racial realists, however, is over the usefulness of combining the social fiction of race with the reality of human genetic differences. Take the study of intelligence, for instance. A small but vocal number of psychometricians argue that IQ tests accurately measure intelligence, that average scores for black, white, and East Asian people on these tests vary, and that these differences are largely attributable to genetic differences between these “races.” Yet by the racial realists’ own logic, those seeking to establish a race-intelligence correlation would first have to do genetic testing on a large number of people and decide on the criteria for assigning them to a “black,” “white,” or “East Asian” race; only after such assignations were made could differences among IQ scores be validly measured. And that’s assuming that IQ tests accurately measure intelligence, that a general factor for intelligence exists, and that correlations between it and “race” mean something. It’s not just that all these are deeply contested debates; it’s that they involve somewhat arbitrary decisions, including the choice to make broad racial/continental analyses rather than narrower ethnic/national analyses. Unlike nations and religions, where one’s membership in the socially-constructed group is fairly easy to establish, there is no objective way of defining a race or identifying criteria for membership in that kind of socially-constructed group.

To argue that racialization matters, that racism is real, and that scholars in the social scientists and humanities have every right to study human differences is not to dispute that genetics matters, that evolution is real, or that natural scientists have every right to study human biodiversity. To argue that awareness of past uses of racial sciences to justify imperialism, slavery, eugenics, and genocide entails the strictest of scrutiny toward current explorations of the human genome is not to call for an end to such explorations. On the contrary, just as new studies of human genetic differences can help us assess the validity of past scientific constructions of race, so, too, can historical studies of racial sciences’ past applications help us evaluate current attempts to draw inferences from the Human Genome Project or the HapMap.

85 comments:

Darth Quixote said...

O, just a quick comment. The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study is actually not a source of data on East Asian adoptees. There was a group designated "Asian," but it consisted of an unknown amalgam of Asians and Native Americans. I believe the Rushton and Jensen (2005) target article contains the references to the studies that you are thinking of.

Hopefully, more later.

TangoMan said...

Take the study of intelligence, for instance. A small but vocal number of psychometricians argue that IQ tests accurately measure intelligence, that average scores for black, white, and East Asian people on these tests vary, and that these differences are largely attributable to genetic differences between these “races.”

C, Did you really mean to construct this sentence as "a small group X believes A & B & C" so that for the statement to be accurate all of the factors must be believed? The problem is that the first position that you reference "IQ tests accurately measure intelligence" is the consensus opinion of the American Psychological Association. The second statement"that average scores for black, white, and East Asian people on these tests vary" is not disputed by any professional in the field. The third statement "differences are largely attributable to genetic differences between these “races"" is the only one that generates some dispute but the study of genetics offers ways to test this hypothesis.

I raise this issue because I fear that some may interpret your comment to mean that the consensus opinion is against statement A and statement B, when in fact these positions are overwhelmingly substantiated.

those seeking to establish a race-intelligence correlation would first have to do genetic testing on a large number of people and decide on the criteria for assigning them to a “black,” “white,” or “East Asian” race; only after such assignations were made could differences among IQ scores be validly measured.

Actually, what you're describing above would be used to establish a gradient for admixture and IQ. We already know that self-reported race matches very closely with the genetic basis of race. We already know that different groups have different mean IQ scores. We already know that the IQ results are valid. We know these things by decades of study on distinct groups. What we're interested in, and what you're describing, is an investigation that digs deeper into the genomic composition of the test takers and how that relates to IQ - we're interested in fine tuning the broad outlines of what we already know today.

And that’s assuming that IQ tests accurately measure intelligence, that a general factor for intelligence exists, and that correlations between it and “race” mean something

Let's take a factor X and study it. We discern that factor X "correlates at levels of .50 with school performance, .55 with years of schooling, .54 with work performance, and –.19 with juvenile delinquency. No other psychological variable is capable of producing these correlations." Further, we discern that factor X "is the best predictor of work performance. Specific ability, interests, personality traits and temperament contribute little to the prediction of general work performance." Further still, we discern that factor X "is the best predictor of being below the official poverty line, of dropping out of school and of being dependent on the state . . [and] the risk of long-term unemployment or the risk of divorce." Now, we compare the scientific construct, factor X, against the social understanding of what we call intelligence, and we observe that when we think of intelligence we think of everything that factor X has measured.

Think about what the early days of physics were like, in that there was this concept called gravity and people understood the implications of gravity to their everyday lives, and scientists were increasing their ability to codify gravity and predict it's behavior, yet they still didn't understand the underlying physics of what caused gravity. Did their lack of a comprehensive physical model invalidate the engineering applications?

What we're doing with Intelligence now is we're mapping IQ to specific brain regions. We're moving closer to defining IQ by brain morphology and composition and this should put to rest much of the Gouldian concerns about Intelligence, IQ tests, and their utility.

there is no objective way of defining a race or identifying criteria for membership in that kind of socially-constructed group.

This exact criticism applies to the study of families and their dynamics. Are you prepared to be as equally concerned about the work of sociologists and psychologists who study family as you are about those who study race? Are same sex couples considered as belonging to a family? Which family, the couple, or the family into which they were born? Or, are families defined by whether they have children? Further, how does a definition of family account for uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces? What are the boundaries of families? Do 2nd cousins belong to a family under study? Frankly, I don't see much call for social scientists to drop the study of "families" and the work that is produced can have value even though it lacks objective definitions for identifying membership in a socially constructed group.

To argue that awareness of past uses of racial sciences to justify imperialism, slavery, eugenics, and genocide entails the strictest of scrutiny toward current explorations of the human genome is not to call for an end to such explorations

I'm partially satisfied with this comment, for I think that the study of the past can be a fruitful endeavor and awareness of history can inform us to a tremendous degree. However, the genetic study of human biodiversity no more requires "the strictest of scrutiny" than does the study of sociology and political science as they apply to class relations. As history has so clearly shown us, the evil committed in the name of class far outweighs the evil committed in the name of race.

Res Ipsa said...

Open question to anyone:

Why is the correlation of race and IQ such a hot button issue in academic circles?

In theory, our equal opportunity society shouldn’t care one whit about the subject at all. For arguments sake lets assume that the authors of the Bell Curve are 100% correct in every facet. If the purpose of the academic community is education, (again I’m making an assumption for the sake of argument) then a school that only wishes to attract the best and brightest should be allowed to discriminate based on IQ, as should any other individual or organization. The fact that this would cause racial groups to be over or under represented in a population should be of no concern what so ever.

TangoMan said...

A further thought - when you wrote "differences are largely attributable to genetic differences between these “races" how do you define largely? For there are those who hold that there are "no genetic differences related to cognition" and to that group, which probably includes much of the public, any significance here is controversial. The standard line of heriditarians is "50% genetic, 50% environmental" with some give and take. So are you characterizing those who take the moderate 50/50 position as advocating "largely attributable to genetics." If so, then this is quite common - here is our take on this matter:

the extreme position (that culture is everything) is so often seen as moderate, and the moderate position is seen as extreme" is that those with extreme environmental biases can make any unsubstantiated claim they want, stated in the most factual of ways, with total impunity and with full preservation of their reputations, while scientists exploring/discussing genetic possibilities like Jensen and Herrnstein who carefully qualify their statements with agnostic and probabilistic language find themselves beleaguered and tarnished erroneously for these misconducts anyways.

TangoMan said...

res ipsa,

Why is the correlation of race and IQ such a hot button issue in academic circles?

Not just in academic circles, but society at large. However, to address your specific question, those in academia have had longer exposure to egalitarian teaching and ethos, so we're talking about indoctrination into a way of seeing the world, and they are more indoctrinated than the average man on the street. Further, they have all personally invested quite a bit of mindspace and self-worth in the proposition that they earned their way to their stations and probably don't look kindly on the luck factor of having the right parents. You've probably heard the old saying about how liberals don't believe in IQ tests, that is until they point to IQ so show how much smarter they are than conservatives :)

For arguments sake lets assume that the authors of the Bell Curve are 100% correct in every facet.

I often point out that the world of today would be no different if the entire Bell Curve thesis is accepted. It simply describes what we already witness. The policy prescriptions may change as a result, but the present day reality is accurately described.

TangoMan said...

I'm partially satisfied with this comment,

Sorry about the sloppy phrasing.

The Constructivist said...

Two quick responses on the sentence in question:

1) I meant X believes A and B and C, as my syntax implies. I wrote this thing fast and under time pressure, but not sloppily.

2) "largely" refers to "perhaps the genetic component must be given greater weight and the environmental component correspondingly reduced. In fact, Jensen’s (1998b, p. 443) latest statement of the hereditarian model,
termed the default hypothesis, is that genetic and cultural factors carry the exact same weight in causing the mean Black–White difference in IQ as they do in causing individual differences in IQ, about 80% genetic–20% environmental by adulthood" (J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur R. Jensen, "Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 11.2 [2005] 279).

I'll respond to the more substantive issue raised after I've turned in my grades.

I am curious, though, if you find any mistakes or misrepresentations or gaps in my summary of how "racial realists" are rearticulating race today. Thanks.

Darth Quixote said...

Racial realists’ definition and use of “race” is so different from prior biologistic definitions and uses that one wonders why they choose to rearticulate rather than jettison the concept.

I addressed this point in an earlier comment. My own opinion is that the current conception of race held by the average person on the street is quite congruent with the one advanced by race realists and spelled out quite clearly by C in his column. So why abandon this convenient shorthand when other circumlocuations are much wordier and not as readily understood? Remember Popper's dictum: "Care not about the meanings of words but rather the truth of theories." Let's not haggle about the meaning of "race" but rather pursue the truth of theories that invoke the substantive concept pointed to by this referent.

A small but vocal number of psychometricians argue that IQ tests accurately measure intelligence, that average scores for black, white, and East Asian people on these tests vary, and that these differences are largely attributable to genetic differences between these “races.”

To back up what TangoMan said. C, you might be interested in a book called (I think) The IQ Controversy by Snyderman and Roth. It presents the results of an anonymous survey of 600 educational psychologists, psychometricians, and behavioral geneticists. I believe that the results are also presented in Race, Intelligence, and Genetics. While none of the offered responses for the causes of the white-black IQ gap commanded a majority, a plurality did endorse the response that "both genetic and environmental factors are involved in the difference." These results came as a surprise at the time; it is rather amazing what people are willing to say under the cloak of anonymity.

The Constructivist said...

DQ, no time to contest your idea that there exists a globally-held consensus by the proverbial "man on the street" that corresponds with what population geneticists are discovering about human biodiversity. The sentence in my previous column, "Consider that laws defining 'white,' 'black,' and 'Indian' varied from state to state in the U.S., diverge even more widely from nation to nation, and have changed radically over time" is substantiated by many, many scholarly studies. You'd think if such a popular consensus existed there'd be much less divergence in legal constructions of racial identity. I wasn't ignoring the studies you all pointed me toward earlier that give evidence for your point-of-view; I didn't have space in the column and don't have time now to point to problems in them. Grading calls!

Darth Quixote said...

The sentence in my previous column, "Consider that laws defining 'white,' 'black,' and 'Indian' varied from state to state in the U.S., diverge even more widely from nation to nation, and have changed radically over time" is substantiated by many, many scholarly studies.

Well, again, I don't think this is a matter worth disputing. But anyway. When the law explicitly takes race into account so as to determine who can drink from which fountain, who can ride in which carriage, who is legible for affirmative action benefits and who isn't ... then, yes, you have these formal definitions that waver, expand, contract, diverge across time and place, and settle on arbitrary lines like the "1/64 rule." But when people use the word "race" nowadays, they are not referring to those kinds of legal formalism. They are referring to the property (i.e., correlational structure in phenotype; a given Japanese person might have darker skin than a given African American, but the probability is almost nil that this Japanese person has darker skin and frizzy hair and ...) that allows ten proverbial men on the street to choose identical arrangements if each is asked to sort ten Caucasians, ten Japanese, and ten African Americans by race. But what if a Caucasian and a Japanese person have a kid together? What "race" does the kid belong to? This is simply not something that anyone loses any sleep about in the course of everyday life. It is only the Yale admissions officer charged with capping the number of East Asian students who has to wring his hands about this.

Once upon a time, northern and western Europeans did not consider Mediterraneans to be "like" them. Why would they within that particular context? But in our more cosmopolitan modern world the contrasts among European populations are dwarfed by the constrasts among continental-scale clusters. So perhaps a German nowadays is more likely to consider a Spaniard to be "like" himself. So are Germans and Spaniards different races because the difference between them is given different emphases in different contexts? Are sky blue and turqoise different colors because in some contexts we fail to distinguish them? Again, I don't think these are interesting questions. But ack, let's not talk about this anymore.

The Objectivist said...

Tangoman and Darth Quixote:

Your comments were extremely helpful and much appreciated. I was wondering if there was a cite for the role of intelligence in mating selection.

Also, I'm curious whether you think that the differences in intelligence, sexual frequency, aggression, etc. that Rushton points out are the result of the different selective pressures on the African plains as opposed to the frozen conditions in Asia. In particular, is it the case that the warmer and less threatening conditions provide a better payoff for more reproduction, quicker development, and greater aggression?

Is there a parallel to this in the animal world?

One more question, from what I understand about the biological data, blacks have narrower hips? Is this at all related to the head size of newborns?

In any case, I've learned a great deal from you guys and greatly appreciate your comments.

The Objectivist said...

I don't understand the claim that race isn't real. Assuming that I understand the state of the art findings on these issues, there seem to be clumping patterns with regard to genetic variation (Fst distances). This is in contrast to smooth distances as one would expect if the differences were constructed. That is, the genetic patterns cluster around geographic origin and largely along our ordinary distinctions.

Consider what we would say if there were two types of killer whales: one type that ate mainly mammals and one type that ate mainly fish and though they could reproduce, their pod-type membership was easily identifiable from blood samples. I doubt anyone would we say the difference is socially constructed. Given this intuition, I don't see why it is even remotely plausible to say this about race.

Real properties are ones that are mind-independent and do explanatory work. It seems to me that race clearly meets this criteria.

The Objectivist said...

Dear Tangoman:

Thanks for the correction on the Minnesota Transracial Adoption study. Have you guys ever considered going on a speaking tour of American campuses? The clean statement of the basic notions and the ability to cite the relevant studies at your fingertips would produce a revolution in thinking on race issues.

One of my areas of research is on the philosophy of affirmative action and reparations for slavery. Many of the best known philosophers who work on this (e.g., James Sterba, Carl Cohen, the late Louis Pojman, and Robert Fullinwider) never even cite these concerns, let alone give them serious consideration. For example, the Sterba-Cohen book does not even mention the genetic debate despite being quite long and published in the prestigious Oxford University Press. The Supreme Court decisions (Grutter, Gratz, and Bakke) are written with the apparent assumption that there are no such genetic differences.

Anyway, just an idea. You'd be vilified but it would put this view on the map.

The Objectivist said...

Res Ipsa:

Sorry about posting so many emails all at once.

You asked why academics are so concerned with race and mentioned that equal opportunity should be unconcerned with it.

The academic concern is tied with the general leftist views of faculty. On some studies about 9-1 Democrat to Republican - a crude estimate of left to right. The social sciences, such as anthropology have about a 30+ -1 ratio. Even economics has a 3-1 ratio. I have to revisit the studies, but I seem to remember that the ratio at the elite schools (e.g., the Ivies, Stanford, and Berkeley) which form academic opinion on these matters is even greater than 9-1.

The left is committed in theory and practice to racial equality. This can be seen in the multiple departments designed to achieve it (e.g., affirmative action, multicultural affairs, and educational development program). This can also be seen in their commitment to preferential admissions and hiring, the widespread emphasis on diversity, and the role in the left's theories. The latter can be seen in fields such as post-colonial theories and critical race theories - areas that the constructivist knows far more than me about.

This commitment is either a commitment to equality of opportunity or equality of result.

The result of the hereditarian thesis is simply to undermine the notion that the left is addressing equality of opportunity. No one claims that the children of low-IQ families and math professors should have similar life prospects, job opportunities, or selection of spouses.

So the hereditarian thesis provides the left with an ugly choice, either defend equality of result (with its inefficiencies and obvious unfairness - consider what is required to equalize results for the low-IQ and math families) or reject racial equality or attack the hereditarian thesis.

As a side note, I think that equal opportuity is not something we should value. I defend this in “Why Equal Opportunity is Not a Valuable Goal,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 21 (2004): 159-172.

In addition, much of the left's claims for various welfare and other state programs depend on the notion that racial and ethnic minorities do poorly because of political rather than market forces. For example, this is why under Constitutional law discrimination against suspect classes (e.g., blacks and Hispanics) gets strict scrutiny but discrimination against economic classes (e.g., protectionism) gets much weaker scrutiny. Again, the hereditarian thesis threatens this view.

Thus, given the political views of the majority of academia, they are well served by keeping this view from being publicly considered.

The constructivist is a rare breed in that he believes in clear, honest, and public discussion of these issues. However, I would be surprised if this view was shared by many of his colleagues, particularly in other departments.

Since he probably disagrees with me on this, I would point out that both of us have attended many race-related speeches and discussions in our time at Fredonia and yet not one systematic presentation on these genetic debates - leaving aside the ones that occurred in C's classes.

There is one area in which the hereditarian thesis bolsters the left's political program, but it has an ugly tone to it. Standard free market theory would tell us that if you want to help the poor this is best done by having the free market as extensive as possible and then just redistributing wealth to the worst-off groups. This allows them to purchase those goods or services that they prefer while at the same time avoiding the inefficiencies that almost always accompany government intervention. However, if the worst-off groups are also significantly less intelligent, they might need government and academic experts to give them specific benefits (e.g., educational benefits and drug prohibition) rather than money. This would support the many government departments and programs.

The Constructivist said...

Got a few moments for some random contributions of my own.

RI, check out O's and my very first debate on diversity for some back-and-forth on the value of cultural and intellectual diversity on campus. Don't have time to rehash it here, but the quick answer to your second point is to suggest that the most selective colleges and universities rely on successful graduates who can give back as alumni over the course of their lifetimes more than what they took in during the four or so years they were there as undergraduates. In a certain sense, these institutions' students are investments in their futures, so you could see their emphasis on student diversity as literally a diversification/hedging strategy. Hunter College tried the IQ thing a generation ago and the results weren't as stellar as they hoped they would be; I cite Malcolm Gladwell's "Getting In" on all this in the comments on that post--no time to put the link here.

But you could just as easily turn your question around and ask why many conservatives and some liberals are so up in arms about race-conscious admissions policies in the most selective private institutions. It's their business, period. Perhaps up-and-coming schools could try to catch up by focusing on the 'best students' model rather than the 'best graduates' model that actually drives Ivy League and their competitors' admissions policies (according to Gladwell and others). I'm all for institutional diversity, so it would be interesting to see how schools that tried it would fare.

Also recall that more than half of the over 3000 colleges and universities in the US basically let in anyone who can pay the tuition. Even O's and my institution, which is relatively selective, accepts well over half of ur "Group III" applicants--we simply couldn't afford to stay in business if we eonly let in Group II and above students, plus we'd be breaking our contract with the state to provide affordable and quality access to higher education for NY state students.

Furthermore, if those "bumped" by affirmative action to second- or fifth-choice schools are as genetically well-endowed as their tests and grades suggest they are to TM, DQ, and others, they should do just fine whatever institution they go to. To argue otherwise suggests they believe that environmental/cultural factors play a much larger role in people's life outcomes than the 80/20 model for heritibility of intelligence vs. cultural influences would suggest.

I see your first question as in part asking fellow conservatives why they want to insist on a race-IQ correlation being more a result of heredity than environment. So far I've heard truth, justice, and efficiency criteria put forward (I may have missed others). Do you find them convincing?

My own sense is that they need to focus on large numbers of people for statistical validity. This is all pretty meaningless on the individual level, as they will be the first to tell you. Where their logic is taking them, however, I'm not sure. Individualized genetic screening? Profiling by phenotype as a more efficient way of handling group differences? I like TM's more time on task for lower IQ students idea, but again, this doesn't have to be cast as a race-conscious policy and would in fact garner more opposition if it were.

My sense is this debate, like immigration, holds many pitfalls for conservatives, as well as liberals. After all, a sizable number of conservatives have offered a selective reading of MLK's "character not color" distinction from his "I Have a Dream" speech to offer their spin on what color-blindness ought to entail (think Ward Connerly, for instance)--and to distance themselves from the "Southern Strategy" that won the GOP national clout since the late '60s, which is rightly seen as pandering to racists for votes these days.

Right now the Supreme Court requires strict scrutiny of all race-conscious programs and I believe it's illegal to use IQ testing for civilian selection purposes, although I could be wrong. So there's a little thing called the "rule of law" that we need to take into account here as well as the science.

Some questions for the experts.

Which man on the street are you referring to, TM? American blacks aren't even considered black in many parts of Africa. People in the Caribbean and Latin America who were considered white in their homelands find themselves seen as black when they come to the US.

If Turkey joins the EU, is it likely that the various ethnic groups in Turkey will come to be seen as 'white' over time?

We've only had IQ testing for less than 100 years, right? So if someone had been doing a study in the 1880s, Jews, Italians, Irish, Russians, and others wouldn't have been factored in the white IQ averages, right? So how could you compare those results (were we to have them) with today's? Clearly you all accept that the boundaries of whiteness have shifted, and are likely to continue to shift, irrespective of the underlying genetics, so unless you use genetics to pin down your racial groups and not public opinion or self-identification, your referent for "average white IQ" changes over time. How do you propose to stop that kind of drift?

Much more later--will have some arguments from Whitewashing Race (which takes on racial realism directly) next week....

TangoMan said...

Darth mentions the book The IQ Controversy, the Media, and Public Policy by Snyderman and Rothman. It was published in 1988 with data collected in prior years. Even back then, in the genetic dark ages, 53% of IQ experts thought that there were both genetic and environmental factors at work. Here is a wiki page on the topic and on the media's portrayal of intelligence research.

One more question, from what I understand about the biological data, blacks have narrower hips? Is this at all related to the head size of newborns?

It's hard to say. Black head size is smaller but it could also be related to higher proportions of ectomorhpic body shapes, which are characterized by greater height and thinness, which are beneficial in their environemnt. The variety continues, some Africans also have more fast twitch muscles, and for many their body composition is different, with more dense bones and less body fat, which has the unintended consequence of leading to higher rates of Blacks drowning. Also, consider the rates of having twins - even Jared Diamond, before he turned media star, made note of the twinning issue in his Nature article on Ethnic Differences in Testis Size (back when he actually thought that the dispassionate study of human biodiversity was a fruitful endeavor). Here is the data from our post Guns, Germs and Gonads:

The dizygotic twin frequency proves indeed to be lower; in Asians (average value for 14 populations, 3.9 per 1,000 births, including 4 populations transplanted to Hawaii), than in Caucasians (average for 8 populations, 7,9 per 1,000 births), All but 2 of the 14 Asian values were less than any of the Caucasian values, The differences in dizygotic twin frequency, and presumably ovulation rate, are in the same direction as the differences in testis size. The frequencies of dizygotic twins are even higher (up to 49 per 1,000 births) among African blacks

I don't understand the claim that race isn't real.

Neither do gentlemen like Jan Klein, one of the founders of modern immunogenetics, and Naoyuki Takahata, a theoretical population geneticist, who write:

"Sewall Wright, who can hardly be taken for a dilettante in questions of population genetics, has stated emphatically that if differences of this magnitude were observed in any other species, the groups they distinguish would be called subspecies.

One can extend Wright’s argument even further. The more than 200 species of haplochromine fishes in Lake Victoria differ from each other much less than the human races in their neutral genes, although they are presumably distinguished by genes that control differences in their external appearances. The same can be said about at least some of the currently recognized species of Darwin’s finches and about other examples of recent adaptive radiations. In all these cases, reproductively isolated groups are impossible to tell apart by the methods used to measure differences between human races. Obviously, human races are not reproductively isolated (interracial marriages are common and the progenies of such marriages are fully fertile) but the external differences between them are comparable to those between the cichlid fishes and Darwin’s finches. Under these circumstances, to claim that the genetic differences between the human races are trivial is more a political statement than a scientific argument. Trivial by what criterion? How much difference would Lewontin and those who side with him consider nontrivial?

By mixing science with politics, geneticists and anthropologists are committing the same infraction of which they are accusing other scientists, whom they themselves label as racist. Even worse, by dismissing the genetic differences as insignificant, they play into the hands of genuine racists who can easily demolish this claim and so further their own agenda. It is intellectually more honest to acknowledge the differences and then point out that they by no means imply supremacy of one race over others. This can be done by demonstrating that the differences are in genes that cannot be linked to any features that would be required for the preeminence of a particular race. "


Thanks for the correction on the Minnesota Transracial Adoption study.

That was Darth.

Have you guys ever considered going on a speaking tour of American campuses

Most of us value our careers. Read the wiki link in this comment and note the protests that greet Prof. Jensen. Look at the cases of Prof. Frazer in Australia, Nyborg in Denmark, and Ellis at Leeds U. No, thanks. Tenure is a wonderful thing.

However, two of us did a radio interview on the topic of race and evolution. This developed after the program had featured a debate between famed anti-racist Tim Wise and White Nationalist Jared Taylor. See here for our lengthy dissection of the fallacies both men used.

The clean statement of the basic notions and the ability to cite the relevant studies at your fingertips would produce a revolution in thinking on race issues.

I disagree and think that the more likely response would be akin to how I was banned at Alas, A Blog. Read it for the humor content and then transplant that reasoning into a university environment and you'll see the same righteous sputtering against heresy emerge. Sadly, the proportion of people who can allow facts to shape their ideas is much smaller than those who attempt to let ideas shape the facts. Look at the epicyclic reasoning deployed in the IQ-Gap debate so as to avoid entertaining a more straightforward hypothesis.

One of my areas of research is on the philosophy of affirmative action and reparations for slavery.

Have you written anything on the the different rationales for affirmative action as it applies to groups with long standing grievances against US society and those who arrived here voluntarily after the 1965 Immigration Reform. Further, if we grant amnesty to the 12 million illegals, what moral claim can they lay so as to justify their inclusion in the AA machine?

The Supreme Court decisions (Grutter, Gratz, and Bakke) are written with the apparent assumption that there are no such genetic differences.

This is tricky territory - one of the fundamental principles we hold dear is equality before the law, so on the one hand, genetic differences shouldn't matter at all to the treatment we expect from our courts. However, the argument from the other hand is that the law is being decided on an incorrect factual basis and is designed to effect social engineering rather than dispense justice to an individual who is before the court. The court may as well mandate that Pi be equal to 4. Should the court have the jurisdiction to issue rulings that conflict with the reality before us? Another example, let's say the court ignored developmental psychology and ruled that parental rights are discriminatory and that new borns have full agency and be emancipated from their parents. Clearly, this latter case is an assinine example for it glaringly deviates from reality but it helps illustrate that social engineering rulings do have a limit on how far they can veer from reality. The question that I find interesting is how much evidence must be mustered to wrench the Court away from ruling on social engineering outcomes and back to fundamental principles.

The left is committed in theory and practice to racial equality. . . . the widespread emphasis on diversity,

The way I see it there are two kinds of diversity, internal and external. The Left has redefined diversity to be synonymous with internal diversity, wherein every institution must have the correct proportion of "diveristy" but this creates no external diversity between institutions. Imagine if there was a law which compelled every restaurant to feature food from every ethnic group. You'd have a very diverse, but bland, restaurant scene and you'd lose the benefits of enjoying external diversity by going to a Japanese restaurant, a Greek restaurant, etc, which would bring color and verve to your life. Instead, we're stuck with the Greek cooks trying to make sushi and the Japanese cooks trying to make baklava. Compelling internal diversity kills external diversity.

I defend this in “Why Equal Opportunity is Not a Valuable Goal,”

Is this paper on-line?

Thus, given the political views of the majority of academia, they are well served by keeping this view from being publicly considered.

Here's a topic that I've been toying with - which form of obscurantism is more dangerous, Intelligent Design or the Blank Slate, and its handmaiden, Post-Modernism? I've haven't yet addressed the issue but I have been circling it, (Google the term "Leftist Creationist") with my posts on the Anti-Racist Math movement, Feminist theorists of science trying to reframe Newton's Laws of Motion as Newton's Rape Manual, etc and I'm left wondering about the damage that would result from allowing the teaching of ID to take place in high school. The students who won't go on to higher education may come to believe in ID because of the imprimatur granted by a HS Science class but, even without ID being taught, many will come to hold the position of their own accord.

For those who go on to higher education and concentrate on biology, they'll soon have to shed their exposure to ID for the voodoo of the movement is evident in that it is philosophy and faith rather than science. The damage that ID would cause would be restricted to a small subset of people who would probably come to hold the same position regardless of whether it is taught or not.

However, the intellectual damage committed by the Blank Slate position is far more severe. The BS proponents have captured the Academy, have demonized heriditarian research, have infected the opinion leaders and the public discourse with their obscurantism and actually shaped public policy, with the resultant economic inefficiencies that arise from pursuing goals which are not achievable. With ID, scientific rationalism and open debate insure that the ID infection can't propogate widely and that it remains isolated in a non-critical section of the body politic. Blank Slatism has defeated the protective mechanism of open debate and thoroughly infected the nerve center of the body politic - every leader, scientist, editorialist, etc usually pass through a university - with the effect that exposure to the debate and to the evidence has been foreclosed in order to maintain ideological purity.

Which is the most dangerous idea? (BTW, it should go without saying that I'm avowedly against the charlatanism of ID.)

leaving aside the ones that occurred in C's classes.

Have the two of you written up a post on how the debate was received by the students? I would imagine that the Stealth Consensus is that this news isn't so shocking for many people intuite the truth value of heriditarianism, but they are probably surprised that the topic is being mooted in public and some probably feign shock or indignation on the understanding that such is the expected response otherwise people may interpret their silence to be the agreement of a closet racist.

just redistributing wealth to the worst-off groups. This allows them to purchase those goods or services that they prefer while at the same time avoiding the inefficiencies that almost always accompany government intervention.

Have you read Charles Murray's new book, In Our Hands? The critique you raise is precisely one of the weak points in his thesis.

I like TM's more time on task for lower IQ students idea, but again, this doesn't have to be cast as a race-conscious policy and would in fact garner more opposition if it were.

I agree that "more time on task" shouldn't be cast as a race-conscious policy, but should instead by parsed by a student's ability in the early grades. However, anyone with working vision will see before them a hugely disproportional representation of Black and Hispanic students being directed into that program. That's the conundrum - the program is likely to help raise achievement but the cost of doing so is to put a glaring light on the IQ issue. If we take the spotlight off the issue, then the cost is lower minority achievement and personalized failure, however at least society can feel good by avoiding the issue and do so painfree for the costs are borne by the failed students.

Right now the Supreme Court requires strict scrutiny of all race-conscious programs and I believe it's illegal to use IQ testing for civilian selection purposes, although I could be wrong.

Griggs v. Duke Power (1971) but sometimes we find surprising backlash, as in this case where a Black mother is calling the practice of banning IQ tests for Black students to be racist, a practice which was addressed by the 1979 case of Larry P. v. Riles.

TangoMan said...

Your comments were extremely helpful and much appreciated. I was wondering if there was a cite for the role of intelligence in mating selection.

I'm got a half finished post dealing with assortive mating and feminism and there are some links in that post that might be what you're looking for. I'll post the info when I've got it ready to go.

TangoMan said...

I'm curious whether you think that the differences in intelligence, sexual frequency, aggression, etc. that Rushton points out are the result of the different selective pressures on the African plains as opposed to the frozen conditions in Asia.

That's a very commonly held opinion but the problem is in proving it. We can't test it, so it's simply conjecture. What we have are behaviors that we can measure in the social realm, allelic frequency differentials in the biologic realm, and a difficult task of constructing a falsifiable experiment to verify the change process. As it stands, this is one of the "Just So" stories.

Res Ipsa said...

Thank you all for your thought full responses.

I suspect that the interest in the topic is much more self-centered than its proponents would admit. The question of IQ and race correlations has potential to dramatically shift the world views in a direction that many would rather they didn’t go.

Admission policy is one area that comes up quite often. As was pointed out all but the most elite schools have difficulty paying the bills unless they keep enrollment numbers high. This has lead IMO, to a great deal of grade inflation and the overall dumbing down of education.

For example I have an MBA. At one time this degree carried with it a certain amount of prestige and conveyed a sense of competency in business. This is no longer the case. The advent of hundreds of accredited schools offering watered down programs has dramatically devalued this piece of paper.

I confronted a dean of a private business school about this. The reply I was given was that education should be available to the common man. No thought had gone into whether or not the so called common man should be conferred an honor he did not rightfully earn.

A degree is no longer a mile marker of intellectual accomplishment or proficiency, rather it is a meal ticket bought and purchased with tuition dollars and time spent in hoop jumping.

My apologies if this comment is outside of the original parameters that you intended.

The Objectivist said...

TM and RI:

Thank you for your generous comments.

How well established is the racial differences in fast-twitch muscle between the races? Can we be confident that this explains much of why the best sprinters have West African descent or hs the data not really come in on this one?

I'm curious as to why you think the black-white-asian order holds for sexuality, aggression, and speed of development? You mention the differences in environment between Africa and Asia lead to hypotheses that are largely untestable. This seems right, so I'm guessing in the end that the particular evolutionary explanation is speculative at this time. Is this your view?

TM, I want to explain how the equal protection should take genetics into account. In any areas, the law treats different race distributions in jobs or tests as evidence of discrimination. It also stated in Grutter v. Bollinger that the need for preferences at elite law schools whould be gone in about 25 years. Both assumptions are questionable if there is a substantial difference in intelligence that is due to genetics. In addition, in the Virginia Military Academy case (Virginia v. United States (1996)) the court held that state policies that rely on gender stereotypes, even those with a strong statistical base, would be given very close scrutiny. This is likely inefficient if some of the gender differences (e.g., the greater tendency of women to care for children) are in part genetically caused.

The book I've written on affirmative action and reparations for slavery is entitled: Justice for the Past (Albany, NY: SUNY-Press, 2004). However, it was written before I fully realized the import of the genetic differences. The one article I have which addresses some of the philosophical implicati“Intrinsic Moral Value and Racial Differences,” Public Affairs Quarterly 14 (2000): 205-224. It argues that the genetic differences tend to track differences in moral value and hence it has significant, albeit controversial implications for the distribution of resources. The equal opportunity paper isn't online, but I'll be glad to send it to you.

TangoMan said...

The equal opportunity paper isn't online, but I'll be glad to send it to you.

I appreciate your offer and look forward to reading the paper. Constructivist has my e-mail address. Could you also send this paper:"Intrinsic Moral Value and Racial Differences.”

Can we be confident that this explains much of why the best sprinters have West African descent or hs the data not really come in on this one?

The data is certainly there but it's more difficult to confidently assert causation and significance to athletic success. My take on this is that the data supports the hypothesis to the same degree that global temperature measurements support the hypothesis of anthropogenic causation of global warming. Both hypothesis are highly persuasive and probabilistic and they both pose problems with regards to experimental design that can test their falsifiability. Just as with Global Warming, there are other factors beyond just fast twitch muscles. Here is our take on the question.

I'm curious as to why you think the black-white-asian order holds for sexuality, aggression, and speed of development

I tend to parse this issue through two filters. First I look to environmental influence. When I see these patterns hold across all cultures and regions then I suspect that the role of unique cultural practices probably doesn't explain the ordering. Then I suspect genetic factors and for this we can institute a search for gene-behavior correlation and then expand that to racial groupings. That leaves the broader question of why there exists an allelic frequency disparity across populations. This breaks down into two problems - 1.) were there barriers to gene flow to contributed to the disparity, and 2.) why did they arise and spread in the first place. The first problem is easier to test than the second. So, what I'm left with is knowing that there is genetic disparity across populations and that these disparities affect behavior. With this we'd be on pretty solid ground. How important is it to discern why the disparity arose? I'm not inclined to handicap the results we can test by tying them to an untestable hypothesis of why the disparity arose.

We do have animal models which show that behavior leads to evolutionary change. Consider the case of the domesticated foxes:


"By intense selective breeding, we have compressed into a few decades an ancient process that originally unfolded over thousands of years," writes Trut. "Before our eyes, 'the Beast' has turned into 'Beauty,' as the aggressive behaviour of our herd's wild progenitors entirely disappeared."

But that wasn't the only change. Breeding foxes to strengthen a single behavioural trait also brought about a wide variety of unexpected physical changes seen in many animals that become domesticated.

Their coat colour, used among wild foxes as camouflage, changed. Irregular splotches of white fur appeared in the domesticated foxes. Their ears became floppy, replacing the straight ones of wild foxes. Their tails began to roll, similar to those in some dog breeds. Their tails also became shorter as did their legs. And although the geneticists didn't select for size, the domesticated foxes were slightly longer on average. Their craniums also changed so that the males became somewhat feminized and both sexes became more dog-like.

Reproductive cycles were also affected. The domesticated foxes reach sexual maturity a month earlier than non-domesticated foxes do and give birth to litters that are, on average, one pup larger. Even the brain chemistry among the docile foxes changed. Compared with a control group, their brains contained higher levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to inhibit animals' aggressive behaviour.


Don't overlook the point about selecting for a single behavioral trait.

Both assumptions are questionable if there is a substantial difference in intelligence that is due to genetics.

I'm prepared, based on my review of the literature, to be more forthright in my skepticism. The need for these quotas won't disappear in 25 years.

the court held that state policies that rely on gender stereotypes, even those with a strong statistical base, would be given very close scrutiny. This is likely inefficient if some of the gender differences (e.g., the greater tendency of women to care for children) are in part genetically caused.

I think that these are troubling rulings for they speak to the fundamental Axioms that are being relied upon in the decisionmaking. The Axiom of Equality, which holds that the genetic differences between groups are of no importance. The Axiom of Discrimination, in which differing outcomes are presumed to be the result of overt or covert discrimination, and even if the covert discrimination can't be measured it must exist for we see data on differential outcomes that must be caused by discimination of some sort. (Ignore the tautological framing.) I'm sure you could add other Axioms, but I think we share the same point here - the Axioms must change and this will result in legal rulings being more congruent with reality and thus more economically efficient.

From my vantage point, the philosophical attack on key axioms is paramount for some of them are likely to be in direct conflict with science. Further, we're already at the place where the evidence is sufficiently strong enough to assault the default assumptions underlying the key Axioms, even if we're not equipped to overturn them.

What's needed is an examination of how issues will change as new axioms are adopted. Clearly, change brings about fears of the unknown or, in this case, fears of the past. Those fears need to be addressed so that we can replace the axioms and work towards a more fair, efficient, and just system that is congruent with known physical facts. Again, look to the Global Warming debate - scientists can talk about CO2 emissions until they're blue in the face but the change in lifestyle and societal resource allocation decisions must come from policy makers and from individuals who accept the linkage between their personal choices and the global ecosphere. Those messages aren't being advanced by climate scientists but by activists. For the race question, more social scientists, philosophers, legal theorists, race activists, poverty activists, etc need to reshape their messages so that their goals align more closely with how the world really is, rather than how they would wish it was.

The Constructivist said...

TM's last paragraph is a perfect illustration of my larger claim that "racial realism" verifies racial formation. Every single previous racial science had a similar confidence it was on the fast track to the truth about race; every single previous racial science had to embark on the large-scale "mind-changing" and "society-changing" project he describes; every racial science, in short, had to embark on its own "racial project."

I mean, my god, even the phrenologists were trying to localize brain activity and character traits. I stand by my conviction that based on the longstanding failures of earlier efforts to objectively define races and to draw social and political inferences from their innate characteristics, strict scrutiny and extreme skepticism are entirely warranted. This is true whatever your politics may be. Hawthorne was conservative compared to Emerson and Thoreau and Whitman, but he was a lot more skeptical of phrenology than they were. I wonder what today's racial scientists make of "The Birth-mark" or "Rappaccini's Daughter."

On my purportedly misguided concern for nitpicky precision wrt to race-IQ correlations, let me put it this way. If your task is to do a body count on the Hatfield v. McCoy family feud, you'd damn well better be able to put the dead body in the right family. With black-white IQ differences, it's the same story. DQ's point that there are any number of ways of counting dead family members/measuring IQs of different "races" again supports my "racialization" claim, b/c out of all the different ways of doing them, to actually do a family body count or race-IQ correlation, you have to choose a particular way of doing it. What happens when different researchers choose different ways of doing it? How comparable are their findings?

Now, if your claim is that retreating to the continent-scale of doing it is the best way to get valid results, then we're getting somewhere. What it means, though, is that we'll never get to see a comparison of black-Polish or black-Italian IQs (comparing apples and oranges), but that we might get to see cross-regional comparisons like Afro-Caribbean v. Southern European (apples and apples?).

What I'm trying to get at is that I sincerely doubt the psychologists since the 1920s or whatever have been as careful about defining race as the population geneticists have been since the 1990s or whatever. Retreating to the standard population geneticist riposte to my critique of psychometricians' constructions of race, I believe, misses your intended target and misses my point.

A couple of factual questions to close:

1. What is the US average IQ and how do we rank among the nations presently and over time?

2. What is the average IQ of the descendants of new-world-land-bridge-crossers (is it higher than East Asian or lower?)? Or is this q to difficult to answer since over 90% of them died in the 15th and 16th centuries and the surviving populations are "too mixed" to isolate a "relatively pure" average? This is tied to my larger questions about why black-white-(East) Asian comparisons and contrasts are made in the first place.

Darth Quixote said...

About Rushton's climate theory. My own opinion is that there may be something to it. For one thing, escaping from a constant tropical climate may have removed a thermodynamic constraint on the growth of the brain. But that is just my hunch. Lately, I have started to think that perhaps more emphasis in our thinking should be given to selective pressures exerted in "civilization-friendly" environments of the kind described by Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, that is, those environments where fluency with more abstract ideas (e.g., precise numerosity in order to count days of the years, animals in an enclosure, the amount of a stored surplus, and so on) would have paid off in terms of more efficient exploitation of the environment and the benefits of nascent civilization. The environment created by these slightly smarter humans may then have fed back to select for even more cognitive capacity in order to deal with even more abstract notions (money, property, laws, calendars, mass warfare, occupational knowledge, and so on). But, as TangoMan stresses, setting up decisive tests of these kinds of hypotheses will be extremely difficult. Witness the ongoing debate in human evolutionary genetics about whether indigenous Europeans were invaded and swamped by Middle Eastern farmers or simply absorbed their agricultural culture. This is a relatively simple matter compared to the nature of the selective pressures that may have differentiated populations with respective to g and other mental ability factors, but it has proven difficult to resolve. But the question as to what selective forces have caused cognitive differentiation is a tantalizing one, and I look forward to the challenge of tackling it (many years down the line ... oh, sweet tenure ...)

Dogs are always a good example. A dog breed is even less distinguishable from other dog breeds (and even from wolves, foxes, and coyotes) by neutral markers than are the races of humankind. Yet, because of selection on non-neutral loci, wolves, foxes, coyotes, poodles, Dobermans, beagles, pit bulls, and so on show profound morphological and behavioral among-group differences. Lewontin's admonition to treat all species and breeds of canine as interchangeable is clearly absurd.

Of course, I agree with TangoMan about the status of the Axioms of Equality and Discrimination. Their supporters need to realize that these are empirical propositions and that strong a priori theoretical considerations and mounting evidence render them barely tenable. Our notions of sound public policy and worthwhile aspirations for our nation and our species must not be made to depend so intimately on such falsifiable (and almost certainly false) propositions.

The Constructivist said...

A critique of both racial essentialism and social constructionism from Protein Wisdom. Thoughts?

Darth Quixote said...

What happens when different researchers choose different ways of doing it? How comparable are their findings?

I don't think this is a problem at all. In my view there are so many rebuttals to this argument that it is hard to know where to begin. I think the best way to see that this is a non-issue is reading the tables in Richard Lynn's Race Differences in Intelligence; the text is rather forgettable. Or you can read Jason Malloy's massive review of the book here. What you find is that if you go by Cavalli-Sforza's principal-component clusters the estimates of IQ within each group are remarkably stable and consistent across samples, times, age groups, and tests. Moreover, there is little differentiation within these clusters. Clearly, this scheme "works." And remember, the goal is not to rank populations in order of increasing "superiority" or "worth" anyway! Picking out "races" and then rank-ordering them has no intrinsic value to us in and of itself. We are trying to describe and understand nature. If some rough scheme is unsatisfactory for any purpose in the context of understanding human evolution or current world affairs, we can zoom in, zoom out, parse more finely, lump together, or change our frame of reference entirely. Getting hung up on whether comparing Europeans to East Asians is more appropriate than comparing Swedes to Koreans or Eurasians to Africans is a classic violation of Popper's dictum about words v. theories.

1. What is the US average IQ and how do we rank among the nations presently and over time?

The Wechsler scales are standardized to mean 100 and standard deviation 15 for a representative sample of the US population. However, this means that IQ tests are insensitive to possible secular changes over time. This actually leads us to subtle and perplexing issues and also methodological conundrums that are beyond my current competence. Search for the "Flynn effect" on GNXP more more on this, or read the chapter in The g Factor called "Construct, Vehicles, and Measurements." My own hope is that mental chronometry (the measurement of cognitive processes on the scale of milliseconds) will displace psychometric tests for purposes of scientific measurement and allow us to dispense with their uncertain measurement properties over time entirely. However, the stability of group differences in IQ over time suggests that measurement invariance over time is not much of a problem here.

2. What is the average IQ of the descendants of new-world-land-bridge-crossers (is it higher than East Asian or lower?)? Or is this q to difficult to answer since over 90% of them died in the 15th and 16th centuries and the surviving populations are "too mixed" to isolate a "relatively pure" average? This is tied to my larger questions about why black-white-(East) Asian comparisons and contrasts are made in the first place.

It is lower, although slightly higher than that of African Americans. They share the weak-verbal/strong-spatial tilt displayed by East Asians. This strongly suggests that the verbal-spatial profile is ancient, preceding the settlement of the New World beginning ~15,000 years ago, and that the elevation of g is more recent. As for the contrast between blacks and whites, the disparity in educational and economic achievement between these two groups (however defined, "socially constructed" or otherwise) is so large and glaring and of such concern to so many people that it would be remiss of us not to study it. That is why so much research regarding black-white differences has been amassed. I would have thought that obvious! I suspect that Rushton and others focus their attention on East Asians because their disproportionate representation in American and Canadian universities (45% of UC Berkeley even though they make up less than 10% of the California population; ~20% of Harvard even though they make up less than 2% of the national population) is so conspicuous.

The Constructivist said...

RI, here's the relevant IQ/admissions/outcomes passage from Gladwell's "Getting In," snipped from our diversity debate comments:

***

[W]hat did Hunter achieve with that best-students model? In the nineteen-eighties, a handful of educational researchers surveyed the students who attended the elementary school between 1948 and 1960. This was a group with an average I.Q. of 157—three and a half standard deviations above the mean—who had been given what, by any measure, was one of the finest classroom experiences in the world. As graduates, though, they weren't nearly as distinguished as they were expected to be. "Although most of our study participants are successful and fairly content with their lives and accomplishments," the authors conclude, "there are no superstars . . . and only one or two familiar names." The researchers spend a great deal of time trying to figure out why Hunter graduates are so disappointing, and end up sounding very much like Wilbur Bender. Being a smart child isn't a terribly good predictor of success in later life, they conclude. "Non-intellective" factors—like motivation and social skills—probably matter more. Perhaps, the study suggests, "after noting the sacrifices involved in trying for national or world-class leadership in a field, H.C.E.S. graduates decided that the intelligent thing to do was to choose relatively happy and successful lives." It is a wonderful thing, of course, for a school to turn out lots of relatively happy and successful graduates. But Harvard didn't want lots of relatively happy and successful graduates. It wanted superstars, and Bender and his colleagues recognized that if this is your goal a best-students model isn't enough.

Most √©lite law schools, to cite another example, follow a best-students model. That's why they rely so heavily on the L.S.A.T. Yet there's no reason to believe that a person's L.S.A.T. scores have much relation to how good a lawyer he will be. In a recent research project funded by the Law School Admission Council, the Berkeley researchers Sheldon Zedeck and Marjorie Shultz identified twenty-six "competencies" that they think effective lawyering demands—among them practical judgment, passion and engagement, legal-research skills, questioning and interviewing skills, negotiation skills, stress management, and so on—and the L.S.A.T. picks up only a handful of them. A law school that wants to select the best possible lawyers has to use a very different admissions process from a law school that wants to select the best possible law students. And wouldn't we prefer that at least some law schools try to select good lawyers instead of good law students?

This search for good lawyers, furthermore, is necessarily going to be subjective, because things like passion and engagement can't be measured as precisely as academic proficiency. Subjectivity in the admissions process is not just an occasion for discrimination; it is also, in better times, the only means available for giving us the social outcome we want. The first black captain of the Yale football team was a man named Levi Jackson, who graduated in 1950. Jackson was a hugely popular figure on campus. He went on to be a top executive at Ford, and is credited with persuading the company to hire thousands of African-Americans after the 1967 riots. When Jackson was tapped for the exclusive secret society Skull and Bones, he joked, "If my name had been reversed, I never would have made it." He had a point. The strategy of discretion that Yale had once used to exclude Jews was soon being used to include people like Levi Jackson.

***

Does any of this make you question the "best students" model for college admissions?

The Constructivist said...

Robert Yerkes claimed in a 1923 Atlantic Monthly article that Italians' and Poles' IQs were a standard deviation below "old-stock white Americans'" IQs (David Roediger, Working Toward Whiteness 141). William Sheldon's data showed "Mexicans'" IQs to be greater than those of the "Italian" and "Slavish" (141). (Roediger's source on these figures is Lewis Carlson and George Colburn, eds., In Their Place: White America Defines Her Minorities [1972].)

I'm not trying to break Popper's Law--I'm trying to show that comparisons that used to matter, back when immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were the targets of nativist and eugenicist concerns, policies, and discriminations, all of a sudden don't matter today. Is this b/c the science has improved? Or is there another explanation? Like my racialization thesis...?

The Constructivist said...

Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times"

May 14, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
The Model Students
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Why are Asian-Americans so good at school? Or, to put it another way, why is Xuan-Trang Ho so perfect?

Trang came to the United States in 1994 as an 11-year-old Vietnamese girl who spoke no English. Her parents, neither having more than a high school education, settled in Nebraska and found jobs as manual laborers.

The youngest of eight children, Trang learned English well enough that when she graduated from high school, she was valedictorian. Now she is a senior at Nebraska Wesleyan with a 3.99 average, a member of the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team and a new Rhodes Scholar.

Increasingly in America, stellar academic achievement has an Asian face. In 2005, Asian-Americans averaged a combined math-verbal SAT of 1091, compared with 1068 for whites, 982 for American Indians, 922 for Hispanics and 864 for blacks. Forty-four percent of Asian-American students take calculus in high school, compared with 28 percent of all students.

Among whites, 2 percent score 750 or better in either the math or verbal SAT. Among Asian-Americans, 3 percent beat 750 in verbal, and 8 percent in math. Frankly, you sometimes feel at an intellectual disadvantage if your great-grandparents weren't peasants in an Asian village.

So I asked Trang why Asian-Americans do so well in school.

"I can't speak for all Asian-Americans," Trang told me, "but for me and my friends, it was because of the sacrifices that our parents made. ... It's so difficult to see my parents get up at 5 each morning to go to factories to earn $6.30 an hour. I see that there is so much that I can do in America that my parents couldn't."

Of course, not all Asian-Americans are so painfully perfect — Filipinos are among the largest groups of Asian-Americans and they do very well without being stellar. Success goes particularly to those whose ancestors came from the Confucian belt from Japan through Korea and China to Vietnam.

It's not just the immigrant mentality, for Japanese-American students are mostly fourth- and fifth-generation now, and they're still excelling. Nor is it just about family background, for Chinese-Americans who trace their origins to peasant villages also graduate summa.

One theory percolating among some geneticists is that in societies that were among the first with occupations that depended on brains, genetic selection may have raised I.Q.'s slightly — a theory suggesting that maybe Asians are just smarter. But I'm skeptical, partly because so much depends on context.

In the U.S., for example, ethnic Koreans are academic stars. But in Japan, ethnic Koreans languish in an underclass, often doing poorly in schools and becoming involved in the yakuza mafia. One lesson may be that if you discriminate against a minority and repeatedly shove its members off the social escalator, then you create pathologies of self-doubt that can become self-sustaining.

So then why do Asian-Americans really succeed in school? Aside from immigrant optimism, I see two and a half reasons:

First, as Trang suggests, is the filial piety nurtured by Confucianism for 2,500 years. Teenagers rebel all over the world, but somehow Asian-American kids often manage both to exasperate and to finish their homework. And Asian-American families may not always be warm and fuzzy, but they tend to be intact and focused on their children's getting ahead.

Second, Confucianism encourages a reverence for education. In Chinese villages, you still sometimes see a monument to a young man who centuries ago passed the jinshi exam — the Ming dynasty equivalent of getting a perfect SAT. In a Confucian culture, it is intuitive that the way to achieve glory and success is by working hard and getting A's.

Then there's the half-reason: American kids typically say in polls that the students who succeed in school are the "brains." Asian kids typically say that the A students are those who work hard. That means no Asian-American ever has an excuse for not becoming valedictorian.

"Anybody can be smart, can do great on standardized tests," Trang explains. "But unless you work hard, you're not going to do well."

If I'm right, the success of Asian-Americans is mostly about culture, and there's no way to transplant a culture. But there are lessons we can absorb, and maybe the easiest is that respect for education pays dividends. That can come, for example, in the form of higher teacher salaries, or greater public efforts to honor star students. While there are no magic bullets, we would be fools not to try to learn some Asian

TangoMan said...

Constructivist,

TM's last paragraph is a perfect illustration of my larger claim that "racial realism" verifies racial formation.

I think you have it exactly backwards. I'm all for removing race from the public policy arena. Simply throw away the Axioms of Equality and Discriminaition, do away with Affirmative Action, do away with Proportionalism, do away with set-asides for minority businesses, do away with Democratic Party policies which are designed to appeal to specific racial blocs, etc. and when we see issues like the Black-White IQ gap I will remain silent so long as the other side also stays silent about blaming White Society for the gap. I'm completely willing to let sleeping dogs lie. However, that's not the case today, and when blame is being bandied about I'm inclined to point out the obvious.

You have it exactly backwards because it is the Left that is using the levers of race to hoist all sorts of policys and Axioms upon us. Simply cease to do that, move to a neutral position of valuing each person on their own merits, and the countermeasures which worry you so will evaporate.

TangoMan said...

here's the relevant IQ/admissions/outcomes passage from Gladwell's "Getting In,"

ISTM that you're holding Gladwell up to be some type of authority on the subject when there is much that is glaringly wrong with his thesis. With respect to the Hunter experiment, we're dealing with very small sample sizes. Here take a look at the class photo and you see 15 girls and 5 boys. How much college entrance and job placement discrimination existed for girls of that era? Further, how much college financial aid was available for the students, but particularly the girls? How many of those girls would have been admitted into Caltech, MIT, Chicago, Harvard, Yale, etc where they would truly have been amongst their peers. Right off the top we see a handicapping of the long term results, when 3/4 of this class were females.

Why didn't Gladwell use Benbow's study on the Profoundly Gifted, the 1-in-10,000, those students who before the age of 13 scored above 700 on a SAT-M or SAT-V test? The likely reason is that this peer-reviewed and widely followed study would have blown his thesis out of the water and sunk his book project. Here is our take on Benbow's work, with links to her paper:

Recently, they compared Camerer's cohort-the 1-in-10,000-to a group that merely scored in the top one per cent. "There were huge differences," Benbow says. "Huge." By the age of thirty, the 1-in-10,000 were twice as likely to earn Ph.D.s as the other cohort, and fifty times more likely to earn Ph.D.s than the average American. "And they go to much more prestigious schools," she added. "The top one per cent achieve enormous amounts, but the 1-in-10,000 do even better."

It's too early to tell how many of the 1-in-10,000 will become Nobel Prize winners. But a few, like Camerer, are already leaders in their field, and the rest have proved surprisingly predictable. . . . .

They pursued doctoral degrees at rates over 50 times base-rate expectations, with several participants having created noteworthy literary, scientific, or technical products by their early 20s.


Speaking of Nobel Prizes, take a look at the Caltech admissions policy - of 20,000 alumni in the 20th Century, Carl D. Anderson, Edwin M. McMillan, William B. Shockley, Leo Rainwater, Douglas Osheroff, Leland Hartwell, and Vernon L. Smith all received their Bachelors Degree from Caltech and went on to become Nobel Laureates. Caltech has graduated 17 Nobel Laureates from a student body that a university like Berkeley would graduate in 2 years.

Further, Gladwell shouldn't be modelling Harvard and Yale as meritocratic schools, and should instead look to Caltech, MIT, Chicago, especially in our technological age. Further, the focus should be on the undergraduates of all of these schools and not the notables who graduated from their professional and graduate schools.

Benbow's study is recent and thus allows the women to pursue career ambitions, allows the meritorious to receive financial aid when they attend university, and follows the students as they find the find the best academic fit for themselves. The study is well done, extensively cited, and is continuing.

Anonymous said...

This whole topic is about the differences between races. How is tossing aside 'the levers of race' will improve anything? If anything, it would seem to reinforce or worsen the situation as it currently stands.

Would you advocate increased interracial marriages, to 'improve' the races that aren't doing as well?

How would you guarantee that people will value each person on their own merits when this entire discussion is about defining people by their race?

Racists exist. How do you convince them to not be racist?

TangoMan said...

Robert Yerkes claimed in a 1923 Atlantic Monthly article that Italians' and Poles' IQs were a standard deviation below

I'll get to your question in a moment but first I want to throw out this parallel to autism. Consider this report:

New imaging techniques now make it possible to look at the brains of autistic people. Data from two studies, published side by side in the July 23 issue of the journal Neurology, now point toward an answer. The findings suggest that the timing of brain growth seems all wrong in autistic children. Early in childhood, the brains of autistic children grow faster and larger than those of normal children. Later, when normal children's brains get bigger and better organized, autistic kids' brains grow more slowly.

Now, let's say that you have a counterpart who is a skeptic, or perhaps a historian, of autism research, and he counters that we need to look at all research addressing autism through a very skeptical lense, much moreso than any other medical research, because the medicial autism community inflicted great damage by promoting Bettelheim's Refrigerator Mother Theory.

How relevant is this skeptic's charge to the research I quoted above? I could go on like this for hours - how about we substitute economics for autism and focus on failed economic theories which have caused untold amounts of harm and thus we should pay particular attention to any findings developed from economists. Next, let's throw in political theory and class-based analysis and all of the mass murder committed in the name of class-based ideas should forever taint issues like progressive taxation, universal social welfare and pretty much marginalize the Democratic Party.

Now, to your question - the science of psychometrics has improved and so too has the culture in which we find ourselves. A culture-blind IQ test wil return a more accurate assessment than a culturally loaded test. The results from 1923 were not culturally blind and thus they did not truly measure the IQ of immigrants.

Do we throw out current research on autism, which is following scientific protocols because of Bettleheim's quackary? The same question for current psychometrics compared to the practices of nearly a century ago?

Look, there are medical historians who write about Bettelheim's Refrigerator Mother Theory, just as there are historians who write about Medieval Barbers treating ill people by bleeding them and affixing leeches to their bodies. What they write is interesting from a historical POV but it should in no way be used to make a judgement about current practices. The same goes for the history of psychometrics. It's interesting to see where things went wrong in the past, and we don't need Gould's obscurantism and fabrication to embellish the accounts, but the past should no more constrain the present practice than the past of other professions does.

TangoMan said...

To expand on my point in a previous comment in which I argue that we should do away with the Axiom of Equality, which is the belief that no group differences exist. Consider the circumlocutions taking place in London today:

BRITAIN’S most senior policeman Sir Ian Blair is facing a race relations dilemma after the release of figures that reveal almost half the number of people arrested in relation to car crime in London are black.

Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has signed off a report by his force’s traffic unit which shows that black people account for 46% of all arrests generated by new automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

The technology allows car registration plates to be scanned and automatically run through databases to determine whether a vehicle is stolen, uninsured or has not had its road tax paid.

Each numberplate is also checked with the police national computer, where vehicles suspected of links to crimes such as robberies are flagged up.

The Met has deployed six mobile ANPR camera units in the capital, primarily in areas with high levels of street crime. When a suspect vehicle is identified, police officers are sent to intercept the driver.

Although ANPR technology is impartial, the disproportionate number of blacks being arrested has prompted the Met to investigate.


Really, what are they going to investigate? The possibility that inanimate cameras are racist? There is no claim that Blacks are being pulled over by racist officers for the crime of Driving While Black. This whole process is database driven, yet the Axiom Of Equality mandates that there can be no such things as group differences so that if we see that Blacks account for 46% of arrests, while only comprising 2% of the population, then there must be something wrong with the reporting system that merits investigation. Good luck to the Chief of Police in showing that the cameras are racist discriminators.

TangoMan said...

Anonymous,

This whole topic is about the differences between races. How is tossing aside 'the levers of race' will improve anything?

You're right that the topic is about race differences, but the message that I'm receiving from Constructivist, perhaps unintended, is that he wants to foster a unilateral disarmament on this issue so as to allow race to be used for policy purposes he may favor, such as AA, and to disallow it for purposes he doesn't favor. My retort is that it would be far simpler to simply do away with it from both sides and let the chips fall where they may.

Would you advocate increased interracial marriages, to 'improve' the races that aren't doing as well?

I don't advocate one position or another for I think people should procreate with whomever their heart fancies. As to your remark about "improving" the children, there is also the flip side, in that the children may also be "less than" what they could have been. I'm putting scare quotes around "improving" and "less than" because I don't subscribe to that model of reality but I'm using your referents simply to show that these issues move in more than one direction and that there is always an opportunity cost involved.

How would you guarantee that people will value each person on their own merits when this entire discussion is about defining people by their race?

I suppose that we can take lessons from how people treat people of other classes. We currently have a discriminatory progressive taxation system which penalizes people more as they earn larger incomes yet we seem to accept that discrimination and society continues to function. How come that works so well? Why is class based discrimination acceptable?

As for the guarantees, the less intrusive the gov't becomes in enforcing Axioms that are diverging from reality the less resistance there is likely to be in the racial arena. Don't tell a company that they must have X% Black, Y% Hispanic, Z% Asian, V% Women, etc on their payroll and they're more likely to hire the most qualified people they can find. If one company purposely chooses to overlook talented Black women then that creates a rewarding opportunity for another company to more effectively find top quality personnel and outcompete the discriminatory company.

TangoMan said...

I received the following question from an e-mail correspondent that I think would be perfect for your blog:

"Do you really believe that, had it been Chinese who had been captured and enslaved, today's Chinese-Americans would exhibit the same social characteristics as do today's African-Americans"?"

I'd be particularly interested in seeing how Sailer's **Black** Slate Theory would play out in comparison to the Chinese hypothetical:

Everyone acts as if the social history of black Americans traces to that day in 1619 when the first slaves were herded on to that dock in Virginia - but absolutely no farther back.

In contrast, a musicologist writing on the background of American popular music who ignored African influences would be laughed at - and rightfully so. . . .

There’s no mention of "Africa" in Kennedy's voluminous index. That’s standard practice in writings about American social problems. African marriage and adoption customs are simply assumed to have no bearing on African-Americans.

The Constructivist said...

TM, the difference between the research you advocate for and the autism research is that the autism researchers are trying to challenge old paradigms, while "racial realists" may question the methods and politics of past racial scientists, but, despite the differences I note in my column, they are insisting on refurbishing the race concept, even as they challenge specific aspects of the old paradigm.

You also misattribute my intentions. I am all for abolishing social constructions of race, starting with the notion of "the white race." (Going back to our exchanges over the last two columns, I'm closer to the Race Traitor position, just as you are closer to the VDare position.) My desire to advance what you characterize as a liberal political position (all government all the time) is not what motivates my critique of racial realism.

I would definitely support some kind of trade-off where serious and continuing investments in bringing opportunities to all children ages 0-4 in ways that will actually have real effects leads to affirmative action being phased out over the course of a generation. I certainly wouldn't support affirmative action continuing to exist after, say, it's been given as long as state-supported segregation had to affect individual and social outcomes.

The Objectivist said...

I want to respond to the constructivist's arguments.

Here is the structure of the constructivist's arguments.
(P1) Racial science in the past have been unreliable (and has produced bad results).
(P2)
(C1) Hence, we should be skeptical of racial science today.

Note by itself, this argument is incomplete. The same could be true of (and this is stolen from Tangoman) medical science and astronomy, although I'm not sure if ancient astronomy had bad results. The argument is complete only if there is a connecting premise such as the following.

(P2) Today's racial science uses similar methodology as racial science in the past.

But this is simply not true. So I don't see what the argument is here.

The Constructivist said...

If we're going to get into alternate history, let me recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and salt, which asks what might have happened if the Black Death basically wiped out Europe rather than European-borne diseases largely wiping out populations in the western hemisphere. It focuses on close to a millennium of world history, with great attention to both Islamic and Buddhist civilizations.

For real history, I recommend Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, which tries to uncover transnational politics in an era when racialization was an emergent rather than dominant phenomenon.

If China is destined for greatness due to its racial character, perhaps one could try to explain its decision to retreat behind the Great Wall or its several centuries of colonization by lower-IQ European powers? I'd rather see explanations of that rather than speculate as to how history would have been different if the Pacific slave trade (which did exist--see the work of Markus Vink and others on it) had as a large a global influence as the Atlantic slave trade....

The Constructivist said...

O, I do think there are parallels in methodology worth exploring. For instance, the attempt to verify nineteenth-century craniometry that linked intelligence and skull size.

Moreover, there's a larger argument I'm making about racialization here. As Omi and Winant point out, race-consciousness is not equivalent to racism. Different racial projects have different political implications. I'm trying to be careful to suggest that today's racial realists' racial project has the potential to be quite different from past racial sciences. And that struct scrutiny from non-specialists as well as specialists can only improve the science.

Darth Quixote said...

Regarding Yerkes's views. The first wave of mental ability tests used in America were constructed not by quantitatively sophisticated psychometricians (such as Burt) but rather clinicians (with sound judgment and instincts, but still clinicians nevertheless). Yerkes himself had no experience in this area. But regardless of what Yerkes thought, some of his colleagues did not share his views. From William Hamilton's Narrow Roads of Gene Land:

If posthumous libels were indictable, descendants of Henry H. Goddard, an early American follower of Binet in testing intelligence and 'mental age,' might also consider requiring S.J. Gould to defend his distortions of their relative in his Mismeasure book too. In his account of Goddard's work, Gould heads a passage 'Preventing the immigration and propagation of morons' and in it he leaves unmentioned the conclusion of the paper he is discussing, which is exactly the opposite of his subtitle. The conclusion was that, despite the very low scores on the pioneer Binet intelligence test Goddard had found for some of the would-be immigrants ot the USA, he believed all of the set he head examined could live usefully and procreate good citizens: he stated, in fact, that the scores were likelely to be not hereditary but due to poverty of background in Europe and Russia. Noting that similar immigrants had been coming for some time and most descendants of them seemed to be doing well, he wrote of his studied set: 'we may be confident that their children will be of average intelligence and if rightly brought up will be good citizens'. Gould conveyeed a sense exactly opposite to this ... Many similar examples of non- or slapdash response to criticism exist in Gould's writings ... (pp. 505-506)

The Objectivist said...

One more response to the constructivist. The constructivist arguments, and I agree with him, that law schools should select students to produce the best lawyers, not the best law students. He then asserts that the way to do this is to move away from looking at LSAT and GPA.

However, what evidence does he or anyone else have that the non-systematic information (e.g., recommendations, interviews, or personal essays) or less systematic information (e.g., the number of honors courses taken) outpredict performance as a lawyer? I strongly suspect the answer is: none.

First, we know that if colleges and universities looked at class rank, GPA, and courses the admission pattern would be much the same as if colleges focused on SAT scores alone. Thernstrom and Thernstrom, America in Black and White, pp. 402-403.

Second, we have reason to believe that things like MCATs correlate with scores on medical boards (the two strongly correlate, .72),the latter correlate with performance on certifying boards, and this correlates with performance as a physician. See Steven Farron, The Affirmative Action Hoax (2005), ch. 9. LSAT scores correlate with the ability to graduate from law school and pass the bar.

I suspect that a fair account of the data would suggest the following theses.

(1) Standardized tests aren't great predictors of who will be the best lawyer or doctor in the future but along with GPA and no other factors, they outpredict other measures we might use (e.g., personal essays or interviews).

(2) The more g-loaded the standardized test, the better it predicts future performance.

If this is correct, then the constructivist should be a ardent defender of an undiluted admissions policy which consists of the following equation.

Overall rank =
(C1 x GPA) + (C2 x LSAT)

C1 and C2 are constants that measure the degree of each factor's predictive value in the past.

If affirmative action is desirable, then we should simply either race norm it or add a set # of factors to an applicant's total. Now to be sure Gratz via Bollinger wouldn't allow either policy, but this is an excellent example why Sandra Day O'Connor was an incredible discrace and embarrassment to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a side note, this is true regardless of whether one likes or hates affirmative action.

The Objectivist said...

One response to Tangoman. Tangoman claims that we shouldn't take into account race in admissions. I disagree. If race predicts performance then it should be added to the above equation. So it now looks like the following.

Overall ranking =
R[(C1 x GPA) + (C2 + LSAT)]

Where R is a race factor. The idea here is that since some groups over- and under-perform their scores, this should be factored in. For example, Bok and Bowen in the Shape of the river report that SATs overpredict black grades by 16%. If this is true, why would someone want to weight 1300 SATs the same when in one case it was had by a white applicant and in a second case it was done by a black applicant.

Darth Quixote said...

I agree that O'Connor was an unscrupulous baby-splitter.

A point about the LSAT. It is simply impossible for the LSAT to correlate very highly with any criterion of success as a lawyer. This is because of the massive restriction of range. Imagine a scatterplot showing the relationship between height and weight. The points will cluster fairly tightly around an upward-sloping line. However, if you zoom in so that only 5% of the entire range of height is within view, then the dots may very look like a random cloud.

I think Herrnstein and Murray used the example of middle linebackers. Is weight correlated with Pro Bowl appearance for NFL middle linebackers? Maybe not. So is weight not a good predictor of who in the general population might make a good middle linebacker?

The Objectivist said...

One more point for the Constructivist.

One last point (sorry to be blog hog here). Consider what is true if the constructivist is correct and we should look at the degree to which an applicant will be a good lawyer in the future rather than as a student. Let us say that a person's contribution to law is captured by something like the following equation.

Performance =
(C1 x quality of legal services)
+
(C2 x length of legal services)

Again C1 and C2 are weighting factors resting on our assessment of the degree to which these contribution to aggregate well-being.

If we adopt this, then law schools should significantly discount women's applications since so many of them leave the lawyer work force because of mother-related duties. Here are some examples from Warren Farrel, Why Men Earn More.

About 90%of women attorneys working at the top law firms in 1987 left their jobs between one and eight years.

A woman today is 50 times as likely to be a stay-at-home mom (home full-time while her husband works full time) than is her husband to be a stay-at-home dad.

Working women are eight times as likely to spend 4 or more years out of the labor force than are men.

So here is my question for the constructivist: Should law schools discount women's applications by the degree to which they are more likely than men to leave the workforce (especially in law)?

If not, what does this do to your theory?

The Objectivist said...

DQ:

I'm wondering what you think about the following response. Farron citing Robert Klitgaard, Choosing Elites (1985) asserts that the degree of correlation between SAT and college GPA is about .52 to .55. The lower degrees of correlation result, as you point out, when you don't take into account the restriction of range.

Hence, there can be good reason for elite law schools to only accept persons with LSATs in the 95% or better without being able to predict within that range who will do the best.

TangoMan said...

Constructivist,

continuing investments in bringing opportunities to all children ages 0-4 in ways that will actually have real effects leads to affirmative action being phased out over the course of a generation.

I could buy into such a trade-off for I'm not at all opposed to research which attempts to solve an issue. The trouble is that, to date, no research has uncovered a process of raising IQ. Even the fiercest critic of The Bell Curve has come to concede this point. Maybe such a process exists, and we've simply not discovered it yet, so if researchers want to continue their quest with well designed studies, and small scale pilot projects, then I could support state sponsorship of such endeavors. What I don't want to see is slapdash quackary rolled out as national policy.

the difference between the research you advocate for and the autism research is that the autism researchers are trying to challenge old paradigms, while "racial realists" . . . are insisting on refurbishing the race concept, even as they challenge specific aspects of the old paradigm.

I don't agree. The autism reseachers had very clear indicators of how to define autism and what you characterize as challenging old paradigms is simply the researchers focusing their efforts on genetic basis of autism, and not an attempt to redefine how autism is characterized. Similarly population geneticists and physical anthropologsts also have very clear indicators of how to define race and today they are simply focusing their efforts on the genetic basis of race rather than on the social, or superficial, aspects.

I'm trying to be careful to suggest that today's racial realists' racial project has the potential to be quite different from past racial sciences. And that struct scrutiny from non-specialists as well as specialists can only improve the science.

I think that your opennes on this topic comes through loud and clear and you show an intellectual integrity that is absent from many critics, however I dispute the premise that the study of race brings with it a need for greater scrutiny than does the study of medicine, law, politics, or econoimcs, all of which are disciplines which have injustice associated with them. Population genetics should be judged on it's own merits without being weighed down by history.

Objectivist,

Tangoman claims that we shouldn't take into account race in admissions. I disagree. If race predicts performance then it should be added to the above equation.

I agree with your reasoning, and if we lived in a more meritocratic or rational world, then I'd be fully supportive of such a policy. The problem is that if we allow the use of race in one realm that validates the use of race in other realms, so that some could point to racial economic disparities and advocate measures to equalize outcomes. I'm taking the compromise position of eliminating race from the public policy sphere and if the cost of doing so is that tests overpredict Black performance by 16% then that is a cost that I can live with.

TangoMan said...

continuing investments in bringing opportunities to all children ages 0-4 in ways that will actually have real effects leads to affirmative action being phased out over the course of a generation.

To continue on this point, I take it that we all agree that higher IQ tends to be beneficial. This also extends to our immigration policy. Consider the effects of increasing the proportion of people with IQ below the American mean. One of the readers of our blog is one of only a few economists who is addressing the role of IQ in the macro environment. See this paper. He notes that a 1 IQ point difference will raise a person's income by 1% but if an entire country can raise its IQ by 1 point, that country gets about 7% richer over time. When the IQ is raised by 10 points then this leads to a doubling of a country's living standards.

With the American mean IQ being about 100, why are we importing millions of people from populations with a mean IQ level of 94 (mestizo) and 83(Native)? We're moving in the wrong direction here and the likely result is going to be more calls "To Do Something" about the income and educational inequality as it grows in the future.

The Constructivist said...

Updated summer reading recommendations harvested from comments on our last two columns:

New Racialization Studies
Michael Brown, et al., Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society
Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color
George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness (2nd ed.)
Wahneema Lubiano, ed., The House That Race Built
Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers

New Racial Science
Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve
Arthur Jensen, The g Factor
Frank Miele, Race, Intelligence, and Genetics
Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, Race: The Reality of Human Differences
Nicholas Wade, Before the Dawn

Two other recommendations include Amy Chua's World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (cited as consistent with hereditarian theses even though it doesn't explicitly engage them) and Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (cited as consistent with racialization theses).

It should be noted that over at Gene Expression, you can find a variety of positions on the race-IQ debates, including David B's and Jason Malloy's. Plus, you don't have to be a liberal or leftist to critique The Bell Curve, as Brad DeLong pointed out awhile ago.

TangoMan said...

Just a reminder that it's been over 12 years now since The Bell Curve was published. While the book was good for it's time, the research community has progressed onwards, so The Bell Curve doesn't come close to capturing the genetic basis of the proposition, though it still makes a good case with the social science data.

The Constructivist said...

Phaedrus over at Racism Ain't Over links to this debate; good ol' Blogger's unevolved trackback function will never notice this, so I thought I'd put the link here in case anyone wants to respond to his comments.

The Constructivist said...

Let me try another tack here. Proponents of racial realism argue that "racial" (that is, heritable) differences account for a substantial amount of real-world outcomes. They use the 50-80% heritibility of IQ and IQ's value as a predictor of "success" (it correlates better than any other test, but still only around .3-.6, with most indicators of success) to attack what they call the axiom of equality: the assumption that group outcomes ought to be equal, so any deviation from this is evidence of both inequality and inequity. They use this attack as a springboard to call into question many social policies.

Here's another way of responding to this argument: clearly, not everything in everyone's different individual outcomes can be attributed to what they inherited from their parents and their parents and their parents and so on. How much of it can? Not being genetic or biological determinists, racial realists must reply with probabilistic answers, but to achieve validity they have to look at a lot of individual outcomes. Even to do this, however, is to infer causation from correlations, to assume that future results will be similar to past outcomes, and other limitations of purely statistical models. Yet to discuss causality more directly--"80% of disparities in black/white wealth are caused by genetic differences between the groups"--would seem to be out of bounds for them.

It seems to me that their debating tactic (to avoid this deadlock their own methods place them in) is to imply without stating that to question the axiom of equality means to accept that almost all social inequalities are the result of racial differences playing themselves out in a race-neutral marketplace. But how long has this race-neutral marketplace been in existence? Has it ever? If they were to actually read Lipsitz's The Possessive Investment in Whiteness or Brown, et al.'s Whitewashing Race, even racial realists might be tempted to argue that genetics accounts for a very small percentage of contemporary inequalities between groups, or that social/political constructions of race contribute a lot more to the probability of certain life outcomes than the biological "infrastructure" does today--and much more so in the past, when many societies were organized in an overtly white supremacist manner.

To put this another way, racial realists tend to caricature their opponents as necessarily believing that equal outcomes between groups ought to happen or a genetic panmixia among humanity. To give up on either of these beliefs in the face of scientific evidence is not to accept all the other beliefs that racial realists tack on to the scientific evidence.

A couple of questions:

1) Have hereditarians tried to use anti-hereditarians' arguments against them? By this I mean the well-known fact that Koreans in Japan are an oppressed minority and have been for generations, even if their image in the popular culture has been changing for the better over the past decade. So an anti-hereditarian would predict that you'd find lower IQs among Koreans living in Japan than in South Korea. Similarly, due to widespread malnutrition and political oppression in North Korea, you'd expect their IQs to be lower than those of South Koreans. This seems testable to me: has it been done? what were the results? what are their implications for the larger arguments? One could do similar studies for Afro-Caribbeans in the US (where they are seen as a kind of model minority) versus those in Canada and the UK (where they are seen more as a problem people). Again, what effect do social/political factors have on within-group IQ scores?

2. How can one justify the argument that where in Asia and in Europe IQ scores are sampled from doesn't matter, given the IQ differences across nations in each region? If the Hmong represent Asian and Irish represent Europe, all of a sudden the gap between them and "black" IQs is much smaller, right? Similarly, one could heighten "racial" differences by cherry-picking a known high-IQ nation and a known low-IQ nation as representatives of regions to be compared. If enough researchers are doing this, the results won't wash out in the averaging process. How rigorously has this problem been avoided in previous studies?

The Constructivist said...

Richard Lynn has a web site that's worth checking out. Also worth exploring are Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips's edited collection of essays, The Black-White Test Score Gap (1998) and Claude Fischer's edited collection of essays Inequality by Design (1996).

The Constructivist said...

One additional comment: Mamdani's notion of racialization emphasizes a political dimension to hierarchies that are usually explained by either biological (population explosions, resource scarcity, genetics, etc.) or sociocultural explanations. When racial realists argue the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda are "racial," they're partly right, but miss the ways in which ethnic or religious differences become racialized as part of a political struggle. I was reminded of this point when reading this post by skylanda over at Echidne.

TangoMan said...

what they call the axiom of equality: the assumption that group outcomes ought to be equal, so any deviation from this is evidence of both inequality and inequity. They use this attack as a springboard to call into question many social policies.

First off, I'm wondering if you're trying to argue that the Axiom of Equality isn't operational. Do you dispute it? Can you point to any social disparity in which we, as a society, acknowledge that differential group outcomes may be partially explained by genetics?

Even to do this, however, is to infer causation from correlations,

That would be pretty sloppy reasoning, don't you think? Take the classic SES - IQ correlation. For quite a while there was disagreement about the direction of causality but research is showing that the IQ ---> SES correlation dominates over the SES ---> IQ relationship. The science isn't making elementary errors on statistical interpretation.

to assume that future results will be similar to past outcomes, and other limitations of purely statistical models.

These constraints are no different than those faced by the social science research that is the basis of our entire social welfare industry. You can't point to the poverty of children and predict a probability for the child's lessened chance of success based on models of prior generations and then not allow the same logical constructs and statistical reasoning to be employed with IQ models.

Yet to discuss causality more directly--"80% of disparities in black/white wealth are caused by genetic differences between the groups"--would seem to be out of bounds for them.

I'm not understanding what you're implying here for your sample statement is acceptable. For instance, if we look at crime and control for the criminal's IQ, the B-W Crime Gap closes significantly and because we know that there is a B-W IQ Gap, we can say that X% of disparities are caused by genetic differences between groups.

If they were to actually read Lipsitz's The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

Does Lipsitz define the small ethnic Chinese minority in Malyasia or the Phillipines as White? How about the South Asians in East Africa? Are they White? How about the Jews in Russia? Are they "White" (using the term so as to impart meaning in a fashion that ties unequal power balance via societal instiutions and customs to the identity of a group)? I'd be open to being more of a skeptic on this issue if social science demonstrated that the racial advantage was created through power structures unique to each society and that by using international comparisons it was shown that the relationship between race, IQ, and social dynamics were simply a coincidence in the US. However, when the same dynamic is replicated the world over, especially in societies which are not dominated by Caucasions and in fact may have no Caucasion representation at all, then those international comparisons increase the level of confidence I have in the relationship. For those who want to advance the Lipsitz thesis they need to adequately address the issue of international comparisons, and most troublingly they need to address the rise of "market dominant minorities" who outcompete their host populations while facing discrimination, a dominant voting bloc opposition, and while often coming from a history of being oppressed by the host population.

even racial realists might be tempted to argue that genetics accounts for a very small percentage of contemporary inequalities between groups,

No they wouldn't. You're operating under the assumption that the hereditarians simply adopted a contrary position and imbued it with stature equal to the behaviorist models. Not so. The level of confidence has increased with the slow accretion of data and solid research, for anything less would be dismissed. The history of this debate is repleat with examples of such dismissals. The confidence of the propostions has been hard earned.

that social/political constructions of race contribute a lot more to the probability of certain life outcomes than the biological "infrastructure" does today--

That sounds like a proposition that can be tested, rather than simply assumed. So, let's test it and see where the chips fall. And, as genetic science advances, and social science too, then let's test again and let's do the testing across a wide array of societal structures so that we can isolate universal issues rather than supposed localized issues.

To put this another way, racial realists tend to caricature their opponents as necessarily believing that equal outcomes between groups ought to happen

Can something be a caricature if it's entirely true? Take the field of education for example. The B-W Achievement Gap is widely acknowledged and what we see are all sorts of schemes being advanced which will close the gap and improve life outcomes. The operational premise is that there is no genetic basis which leads to differential outcomes and that equality will be achieved. This is equality of outcomes in classic form, so how is it that we're caricaturing the proponents when they actually believe what they're saying?

To give up on either of these beliefs in the face of scientific evidence is not to accept all the other beliefs that racial realists tack on to the scientific evidence.

This is logically true. Each proposition should be judged on the stregth of the evidence. However, the behaviorist model shouldn't be used as the null hypothesis. Go with the proposition which can present the strongest case rather than setting the bar so very high for the hereditarian proposition and clinging to a much weaker behaviorist proposition unless the hereditarian proposition jumps the hurdle.

So an anti-hereditarian would predict that you'd find lower IQs among Koreans living in Japan than in South Korea. Similarly, due to widespread malnutrition and political oppression in North Korea, you'd expect their IQs to be lower than those of South Koreans.

We do know that the IQ of many Africans is artificially depressed due to lack of micronutrients in their diets. So, we know that under some conditions IQ can be raised. As to the Korea-Japan IQ disparity and comparing the differences to Koreans in the US, we also need to consider the IQ of the host population. We see Koreans Americans with mean IQ of 105 compared to the host mean IQ of 100. In Japan we'd see near parity. In Holland we'd see a situation like we see in the US. We can certainly look to cultural practices for explanation but when discrimination is posited to account for disparate outcome and we see the same group suffering the same degree of disparate outcome in a variety of different societies, many of which do not have the structural discrimination, then that casts strong doubt on the Axiom of Discrimination.

So, if Koreans succeed in most societies but are not doing well in Japan then the case is stronger that discrimination exists within Japan. If Blacks aren't doing well in the US, and they're also not doing well in Europe, South America, Latin America, and even Africa, then it's much harder to say that discrimination is the oppresive factor at work. To simply study one society in isolation and then conclude the disparity must be the result of social factors is a process prone to error.

One could do similar studies for Afro-Caribbeans in the US (where they are seen as a kind of model minority) versus those in Canada and the UK (where they are seen more as a problem people).

The Afro-Caribbeans are an interesting example. In the US they are seen in a more favorable light when they are compared to Black Americans. Both Canada and the US didn't have large pre-immigration era Black populations and thus the Afro-Caribbeans are being compared to other populations and they suffer from those comparisons. Further, in the US the A-C are benefitting from a societal quota structure and outcompeting the native Black population and thus they do well in comparison. That's far different from positing that they would do as well without the quota structure in place.

Again, what effect do social/political factors have on within-group IQ scores?

No one is arguing that cultural practices don't have any impact, what we're saying is that cultural practices can't create a benefit that goes beyond biological limitations, that is they can elevate right up to the ceiling but not beyond the ceiling. The fundamental research design flaw of the behaviorist/environmental approach is that the conclusions are drawn from an experiment conducted within a cultural crucible and they're not compared against similar populations drawn from outside the crucible. If the conclusion is that social/political factors are responsible for a disparate impact, then what to make of the fact that the disparate impact may exist in a cultural mileau that doesn't present the causal factor that has been concluded is responsible for the disparate impact?

Similarly, one could heighten "racial" differences by cherry-picking a known high-IQ nation and a known low-IQ nation as representatives of regions to be compared. If enough researchers are doing this, the results won't wash out in the averaging process. How rigorously has this problem been avoided in previous studies?

The IQ tests have very good reliability and the problem you note doesn't really exist. Lynn's latest book is constructed on a total of 620 different IQ studies from around the world and they involved 813,778 subjects.

Keep in mind that IQ research isn't some grand conspiracy and if someone tried to pass off a Hmong-Irish comparison, or the reverse, they would quickly be called on it.

The Constructivist said...

Grading. Almost. Done. No. Energy. To. Post. Here's. Links. 1. 2.

The Objectivist said...

Dear Constructivist:

I'm curious as to whether you think that interfamily differences in IQ scores has a large genetic component? I suspect you do and wonder how many of your criticisms would oppose this conclusion.

There are anecdotal counterexamples (e.g., generally smart families with a slow child and vice versa) and there are undoubtedly cases of extreme deprivation that have depressed a whole family's IQ scores or general academic and economic performance.

Also, a few questions and comments about the North Korean example. First, is this backed by a study or is it a general impression? Also, is the reports about their economic performance or IQ scores? If I remember correctly, the New York Times article on this topic isn't clear about the evidence of their lowered performance.

Second, I have not read anywhere that Koreans or Korean-Americans score noticeably higher Japanese or Japanese-Americans. If this is correct, then it would be surprising if they were doing significantly better.

Third, the hereditarian thesis doesn't deny that the environment, including culture, affects both IQ scores and academic/economic performance. For example, I'm guessing that in the NFL a 10% advantage in speed is huge. I don't see how showing that in some cases environmental effects affect intelligence or economic performance supports the culture-only explanation.

The Objectivist said...

Dear Tangoman and Constructivist:

I have another question for you. Imagine that we discovered that for some reason, so far undiscovered, Columbia undergraduates did 16% better than Duke undergraduates at a law school (let's say Penn). At the same time, we don't have any reliable measure of how Columbia and Duke students who later graduate from Penn Law do as lawyers.

Would you support discounting the applications of Duke students relevant to Columbia students (or, alternatively, enhancing the latter's applications)?

If so, why wouldn't we do the same thing for demographic variables like race and gender?

The Constructivist said...

O, still haven't recovered from grading enough to thoughtfully respond to your formulae, so I'll respond flippantly. How many applications each year do law schools get? Who reads applications? Are you angling for a consulting spot now? My sense is that if we're talking in the hundreds here, the faculty should be treating them like job searches and forming a committee to evaluate candidates individually. The formulae you describe seem radically reductive to me; yet I can imagine if a school is getting too many applications they may need to come up with some way of sorting their candidates statistically, at least to establish a minimum level of qualifications, so perhaps for these schools some variation on them could be an interesting first step.

As I understand undergraduate admissions, Group I, II, II, etc. students are sorted using a matrix approach (it's been far too many years since I was a math major, so I'll assume there are ways of weighting the grades vs. standardized tests in such matrices besides 50-50) rather than your formula-based approach. I'd be very interested in seeing how people who actually work with applications would react to your approach.

More generally, I believe there's a fair amount of arbitrariness to the American admissions system that we ought to acknowledge. I'd prefer disbanding admission offices and putting the money saved into teaching/learning enhancement, so I'd favor some kind of lottery-based system (perhaps rigged a little by tiers so the "top" students by "objective" data have a little bit better odds of getting selected) that could be customized for each school or kind of school. If you want more meritocracy, go with the Japanese system where the point of primary and secondary education seems to be to prepare students to compete on very very tough entrance exams in the subjects they'll be studying in college. People take academics as seriously there as we take athletics, so they may be on to something. We're beginning to accept here that "innate" athletic ability alone doesn't translate to automatic athletic success (cf. the Moneyball guys for one example of such recognition); perhaps someday we'll move beyond "innate" ability intellectual testing to recognizing that each discipline offers different ways of framing and analyzing problems, so helping students find the right mix of disciplines for them is more important than at which college or university they study them.

The "innate" ability tests, IMHO, should be used to identify the extremes--the "diamonds in the rough" who can benefit from more intensive learning opportunities, and those who need learning interventions to help them reach (beyond?) their potential.

I can't help but think that as we learn to think through problems we're actually rewiring our brains in ways that we'll begin to understand better this century. That is to say, metaphors of hard drive space or processing speed will have to give way to studies of the actual effects of learning on brain development. None of us will likely live to see it (unless Robinson's "life-extending" biotechnologies from Red Mars become realizable and affordable), but if we could, I'd bet that someday we'll look back at g the way we look now on ether.

But what do I know? I'm just a humanist.

The Constructivist said...

Speaking of chimps...

The Constructivist said...

O and TM, I try to throw the GNXP guys a bone and you have to go and criticize it! I guess there something to lose for them if IQ scores among the same group vary widely depending on societal circumstance; on the other hand, there's a lot to gain if they don't. I just want to know if anyone has researched this question and what the results were. If it hasn't been researched, why not? It's obvious enough for me to come up with it. How would it have to be done to produce valid results?

The Objectivist said...

Dear Constructivist:
As a former math major, I don't see why you oppose a simple formula for admissions. I could understand if lotteries or interviews or other methods outperformed SATs and GPA in predicting GPAs in law schools. Farron and others report that they don't. I believe, although I'll have to check it, that Robert Klitgaard claims the same.

I haven't seen any indication that other measures outperform IQ tests in terms of job performance at both high- and low-prestige jobs. Given the g-loading of the LSATs and MCATs, I would therefore be surprised if soft measures like interviews or lotteries outpredict standardized test scores, supplmented by GPA, with regard to performance as lawyers and physicians.

Plus having a clear and simple formula would have two other advantages.

(1) We could be clear about the degree of preference and performance trade-off we are making for diversity or compensation for past injury. So at least we could make a stab at quantifying and formulizing the trade-offs.

(2) We would get the best of each group. A lottery could result in the school (e.g., the Florida schools) losing out on some of the best of each race because they go to very competitive high schools. By analogy, I'm guessing that many years the student at the middle of the class at Peter Stuyvesant or the Bronx High School of Science (apparently the two best public high schools in NYC) is probably better than many of the valedictorians at Fredonia. As currently written, the lotteries would favor the latter.

The Constructivist said...

Another book recommendation from Darth Quixote. Wow, now that grades are turned in, I have time to spell people's names out. We'll see how long that feeling lasts....

The Constructivist said...

Another book recommendation: Jenny Reardon's Race to the Finish (2004)....

The Constructivist said...

Another book recommendation.

TangoMan said...

The last recommendation reports the author making this statement:

Olson claims that we have not "evolved" since the emergence of Homo sapiens from Africa 150,000 years ago. "Our basic body plan was set more than 100,000 years ago. Since then, we have been in a period of evolutionary stasis."

He's been reading too much Gould. His claim is testable, and there are scores of studies which demolish his claim that we are in evolutionary statis.

Next up, he writes:

Olson contends that race and ethnicity are social constructions that people have justified by assuming that biological differences exist. "Many people...cite genetics as the source of group differences...believing that outward variations in skin color, facial features or body shape reflect much more consequential differences of character, temperament, or intelligence."

Here too we can test his assumption. We're not assuming that biological differences exist, they in fact do exist. Also note how he is trying to emulate Gould's obfuscational tactics. He tries to establish a causal link between skin color, facial features and body shape as being the determinants of more consequential differences. Further, the implicit assumption is that race is solely defined by external features.

There's enough rope given in this book review to hang the author's credibility.

The Objectivist said...

Tangoman:
I have a few questions. I ask them because I always gain from your answers and don't know the data.

(1) What sort of evidence is there that Homo Sapiens evolved in the past 100,000 years?

(2) What is your take on the IQ of women and men? A related question: do you think that Lawrence Summers was right in that in the extreme IQ range that is characteristic of Harvard scientists we should expect gender differences?

The Objectivist said...

Question for Constructivist:
I read the Gladwell piece, which as you note was really interesting.

He mentions the protection of brand name approach, whereby you try to select students to keep the right image/elite status of schools.

(3) Do you agree with this? In particular, would you favor athletic and better looking applicants since statisticially do better than other students when we control for other factors?

(4) If you want the best performer after college rather than the best academic performer in college, do you think we should discriminate against women applicants? If not, why not?

TangoMan said...

What sort of evidence is there that Homo Sapiens evolved in the past 100,000 years?

See the Moyzis Paper which identifies 1,800 genes that are currently undergoing regional selective sweeps. See our coverage of Bruce Lahn's research which documented the sweep of Microcephalin and ASPM.

What is your take on the IQ of women and men?

IQ tests are calibrated, via subtest weighting, so that men and women have the same mean. As for Summers he was absolutely correct in offering his hypothesis. Here is our extensive coverage which should keep you busy for a while. Frankly, we were caught off guard with that firestorm for we thought the big controversy would arise over differences in racial intelligence and that the gender differential was well understood. Boy, were we wrong on that. Then we saw that there was so little fuss when the Ashkenazi IQ paper was published. Lesson learned: it's OK to say that one small group is more intelligent than the mean (A. Jews) but it is controversial to say that another group is less intelligent than the mean (Blacks) just as it is to argue that the genders have different IQ profiles. The zeitgeist of our times is to affirm the specialness of people, so pointing out exceptionalism is permitted because it's affirming the self-worth of the group. However, the logical result of having a group be above a population mean is that there must be some group below the mean. Don't bother pointing out the logic - people like living in Lake Wobegone.

The Constructivist said...

O and TM, apologies for being out of the loop on this thread. When I get more than a few minutes, I'll do more than throw links around (here and elsewhere), but seeing as how I barely made another deadline on our column itself, and how much work from the semester continues to haunt me after grades have been turned in, not to mention how difficult it actually is to keep our two-and-a-half-year-old from killing our one-month-old with what I can only term as a kind of at-times-sadistic-kindness-and-enthusiasm, getting up to speed on the ins and outs of the IQ debates has been, shall we say, a hit and miss affair.

TangoMan said...

C,

With you having a new baby, this post is for you.

The Constructivist said...

Yup, which suggests that obsessive blogging is a normal, adaptive response to parenthood.

The Constructivist said...

Ned Block has a cogent critique of The Bell Curve here.

The Constructivist said...

Finally finished Wade and Olsen and the historical chapters of Reardon (genealogies of post-WWII population genetics and physical anthropology) and took the time to reread our exchanges here. A few observations:

0) A lot of our discussions here have implicitly been over what counts as expertise within and across academic field. Reardon is very smart on how this plays out within academia and when academic debates spill over into more public arenas. Can't recommend her book highly enough.

1) Most of my comments have focused on ways psychometrics constitutes knowledge and how practices that may be uncontroversial within the field may seem quite controversial outside it, so that controversies within the field become even more difficult to assess.

2) Beyond claims in the previous column's comments section that the 2005 Psychology, Public Policy and the Law represented a "one-sided massacre" (in favor of the Rushton-Jensen thesis, I presume), I haven't seen any specific refutations of Nisbett's critiques. I found R and J's response to be a bit weak, myself, but not being in the field, I have held off on directly commenting on within-field debates. In particular, I thought Nisbett's comments on studies that took African admixture into account and that looked at black mother vs. white mother admixtures, as well as his assessment of adoption studies, were telling.

3) My one attempt to wade into the field by incorporating perspectives advocated in response to my critiques (accepting the notion that heretability matters to some extent and trying to isolate its scope and understand the interaction of environment and heredity through examination of within-group IQ differences among Koreans living in South Korea, Japan, North Korea [and, why not, let's include the U.S., as well]) was either misunderstood or rebuffed. The closest to a positive response was:

***

[me:] social/political constructions of race contribute a lot more to the probability of certain life outcomes than the biological "infrastructure" does today

[TM:] That sounds like a proposition that can be tested, rather than simply assumed. So, let's test it and see where the chips fall. And, as genetic science advances, and social science too, then let's test again and let's do the testing across a wide array of societal structures so that we can isolate universal issues rather than supposed localized issues.

....if Koreans succeed in most societies but are not doing well in Japan then the case is stronger that discrimination exists within Japan.

***

So what's wrong with my proposal to study within-group IQ differences to first take on the less controversial question of heretability within a group? Has my "Koreans in various places" idea been done? What were the results? What do they suggest about the 50-50 vs 80-20 vs some other ratio for sociocultural vs. biological influences and how does it compare to other within-group studies?

4) I haven't seen a direct response to Lewontin's critique of applying within-group heretability results to between-group differences (cf. Biology as Ideology 26-37). Olsen summarizes related arguments to Nisbett's and Lewontin's in Mapping Human History 61-65. More recently, Brown et al.'s Whitewashing Race examines claims about the white-black test gap (cf. 104-131) and Lipsitz's The Possessive Investment in Whiteness (rev. ed.) looks at issues of inheritance (cf. 105-117). I'd be happy to summarize any of these arguments and have held off doing so b/c they're not from fields I'm expert in nor are original with me.

5) I have more to say about Reardon's take on post-WWII scientific constructions of race and the "Racial Americana" issue of South Atlantic Quarterly from Summer 2005, but it fits better in the first racialization comments section, so look for more there later....

The Constructivist said...

Mark Kleiman raises interesting points about twin studies (in response to a post by Kevin Drum), which leads me to ask how it is posssible to separate "environmental" and "genetic" influences, given the mutual interaction between the two from the moment of conception?

The Constructivist said...

FYI, the American Anthropological Society has a new website on race.

The Constructivist said...

Heh. Indeed.

The Constructivist said...

On brain plasticity.

The Constructivist said...

Wired on the Genographic Project-tracking human migrations, as genetic data should be used.

The Constructivist said...

Speaking of which, Wells is coming to our campus in November, O!

The Constructivist said...

A little birthday present from a statistician who takes down g, courtesy of Crooked Timber. Can't wait to see what the Gene Expression Posse has to say about this....

The Constructivist said...

Another takedown of Watson and the race-IQ link, this time courtesy of Pharyngula.

The Constructivist said...

O, the subject of our debate has made the New York Times, but the reporter overlooked us. [Sob.]

The Constructivist said...

Now Saletan gets the smackdown. More on race and IQ from one of your libertarian fellow travellers.

The Constructivist said...

And here's Nisbett joining in.

The Constructivist said...

And now here's Gladwell on Flynn.