Race, Gender, IQ and Nature

ResearchBlogging.orgNature, the publishing group, not the Mother, has taken Darwin’s 200th as an opportunity to play the race card (which always sells copy) and went ahead and published two opposing views on this question: “Should scientists study race and IQ?

The answers are Yes, argued by Stephen Cici and Wendy Williams of the Dept of Human Development at Cornell, and No, argued by Steven Rose, a neuroscientist at Open University.

I would like to weigh in.


The real answer, as is so often the case, is “You dumbass, what kind of question is that? Think about it further and rephrase the question!”

But I don’t think they are going to do that.

I find it very interesting that even though the question does not mention IQ across gender, the details of the ‘debate’ (disguised as ‘rules’) actually specify that the commentators will tackle both race and gender links. Kinda proving that Nature is indeed playing the race card.

I like the idea of addressing both the questions of gender and race in relation to any differences (IQ or whatever). The course that I have taught in many forms in the past, and will likely teach again next Spring, does this. I like to do this because of the very important difference of differences. Gender is, biologically, much much more “real” than race. Gender is demonstrably real (in many aspects) and race is demonstrably not real (in almost all aspects). Also, almost all race differences we see bandied about are linked to nefarious racism one way or another. Gender differences, however, run the full spectrum from really destructive to very positive, with a lot of difficult ambiguity in the in between parts. So, looking at the myriad of purported gender differences first, then race second, turns out to be very very interesting. (One could do it the other way round as well, but for various reasons this works better in the context of my class.)

Let me say a few things about each of these papers first (citations below), then I would like to make a few broader remarks about gender, race, and “IQ.”

Steven Rose does a very good job of explaining all the reasons why the answer to this particular question should be “No” … although I hope he would also agree with me that this is not exactly the question that should be asked. He rightly discusses motivation, noting that we are busy comparing certain “races” by IQ while utterly ignoring equally oft constructed multichotomies of difference.

The categories judged relevant to the study of group differences are clearly unstable, dependent on social, cultural and political context. No one, to my knowledge, is arguing for research on group differences in intelligence between north and south Welsh (although there are well-established average genetic differences between people living in the two regions). This calls into question the motivation behind looking for such specific group differences in intelligence, sheds doubt on whether such research is well-founded, and begs whether answers could possibly be put to good use.

He does not spend enough time on, but does address, the fundamental flaw of the question: If race is not a valid categorization of people, then how do we justify funding scientific research of it? He also notes that while people may bellyache about adjusting IQ scores across ‘racial’ groups, no one seems to complain about nor notice the adjustment of IQ scores between gender, whereby boy’s scores are raised to make them seem equal to girls. Who are smarter, obviously.

The other side of the coin argued by Cici and Williams is the usual drek that should not pass for scientific discourse. Race should be studied because … it is truth. Race should be studied because Stalin tried to stop this kind of thing. Race should be studied because … Larry Summers and James Watson and others have been victimized by the Liberal Left.

Whatever whatever.

I would like to note that the “yes” side is being argued by geneticists. That is pretty typical. Geneticists don’t study intelligence, they study genes and they overrate the value of knowledge of genetics and always have. The “no” side is argued by a neurbiologist. Neurobiologists understand things like culling and plasticity. Do you know what culling is? If not you don’t have a valid opinion about race and IQ. That would be like not knowing what an “Internal Combustion Engine” and a “transmission” are and thinking you have a valid idea of how to fix your car’s drive train. You’d be wrong.

About Gender vs. Race and IQ (or any other trait): Gender is both very real and highly constructed. It is probably often more constructed by context and upbringing than ever race is, but there are real aspects of gender. The vast majority of individuals who are constructed as women cannot inseminate a person with viable sperm in the absence of special technology. The vast majority of individuals who are constructed as men cannot carry and birth a baby at this time. Except in that one movie. This is for a number of biological reasons. The evidence suggests that a certain number of measurable gender differences in behavior between various genders are linked to biological differences and probably have something to do with hormonal conditioning which, in turn, may be mediated in some cases by behavior and cultural or social environment (so even hormonal differences are not entirely independent of constructed context). But there is all sorts of biological stuff going on there. And everything in the above paragraph applies to rats as well as humans.

Of course, you don’t inherit your gender, exactly. Well, OK, there is an ongoing argument that gay-osity is heritable. Maybe or maybe not. The argument seems to gain strength then get shot down again and again, like one of those tings many people need to believe is true but isn’t. If it is true, it is pretty wishy washy and depends a lot on stuff that is in turn hard to pin down. But your basic maleness vs. femaleness with respect to reproductive parts and so on is basically not inherited but is provided genetically, as we all know.

“Race” on the other hand is inherited, but in a very complex way. Since race is a social construct, two elements are needed to produce a certain race. First, there must be a construct extant that responds so some signal (like skin color or language dialect), then there must be a signal produced by a particular genetic variant (like skin color) or, in some cases, just a construct (like language dialect).

Imagine a racist act. Many racist acts occur in a broader social context and can be understood by all the people in that cultural milieu as such. Racists acts often have names or commonly understood index terms associated with them. Most people know at least roughly what the racist act is, how it is done, to whom (which race) it is done and by whom (which race) it is done, etc. That is the socially constructed racist act, and linked to it is a socially constructed race.

Then there are the people. Among the people there will be allelic variation … everybody has the same genes, but the genes themselves have variants … alleles … that result in different phenotypes. So among the people there will be individuals of one socially constructed race and individuals of another socially constructed race, and the defined differences and identities will be an interaction between the alleles and the social constructs.

So if you have a handful of alleles that make you seem to be a Native American, for instance, some professor of higher education may look at you and think “Oh, another one of these guys. Last Native American I had to deal with …. well that didn’t go so well. Let’s get rid of this guy.”

That was the expression of a genetic trait possessed by the victim of a racist act. The genotype was the set of alleles that code for Native Americanosity, and the trait, in its fully expressed glory, was a racist act that emerged from the social context.

The same sorts of things happen with respect to both gender and race. In all cases it is hard to draw lines or make clear links between genotype and phenotypes. It is not so hard to understand the power relationships that usually drive the acts themselves. Even if most people engaged in these gendered and race-driven act are not cognizant of the power relationships, they are usually there.

Research in gene-behavior interaction is important. Research in genetic variation is important. Research based on either a race model (of any kind) or a simple two-step gender model is neither important or valid because such research is based on assumptions that not only cart-before-horse but are also sufficiently discredited to be abandoned. And, I suspect that not too much of this research is actually being funded anyway. A fair amount is published, but I’d love to see the actual link between funding source, proposal, research, and publication. I’d wager there is some disconnect there.

Steven Rose (2009). Darwin 200: Should scientists study race and IQ? NO: Science and society do not benefit Nature, 457 (7231), 786-788 DOI: 10.1038/457786a

Stephen Ceci, Wendy M. Williams (2009). Darwin 200: Should scientists study race and IQ? YES: The scientific truth must be pursued Nature, 457 (7231), 788-789 DOI: 10.1038/457788a

Comments

  1. #1 Spiv
    February 18, 2009

    A lot to cover there, but I’ll try to keep it sweeter than I am:
    It is, as you suggest, partly the wrong question, but I’d also like to argue for it being the right question. First though, where it goes wrong.

    The biggest downfall of all of these studies is its attempt to infer of the individual what is said about the larger group. IQ testing is extremely tricky business, and messy as a jello fight. Attributing +2 or -3 points to an individual because of the larger group (male vs female, 10 vs 60, white debbie vs black debbie) is a little silly in a test that comes up +/- 10-15% from hour to hour when subjected to the same individual, nevermind using different test formats to judge what is supposedly the same attribute.

    We’re just not that good at judging what’s going on in people’s brains. It’s as simple as that. However, there is possibly something to be gained from this by studying “race and gender.” If certain social and or genetic markers tend to score, on the whole, plus or minus a few points then there is something to be learned from it. Is it a genetic variation? Are we testing what we think we’re testing? What about these differences can we pin down, so as to narrow education formats for the better (assuming you do discover specific learning/visual/memory differences)(and I mean to individuals who score a certain way, not just lumping individuals by their group, which would miss the trees for the forest).

    At this point we mostly need to start over on just what it is we study in relation to both ‘IQ’ and ‘race.’ IQ because after years of study on the matter, it’s become apparent to me that we really don’t have a clue what we’re measuring, or worse we realize it isn’t what we think it is but continue to use it to pass judgment on individuals. Race, because much of the “research” (if it can be called that) tends to be looking for exactly what it expects to find. Not so smart from a scientific establishment.

  2. #2 Lilian Nattel
    February 18, 2009

    Clear analysis. I like the rat test. If you can’t check it out on rats first, then you’d better check if your categories are real.

  3. #3 Joshua Zelinsky
    February 18, 2009

    Ok, I’ll bite. What’s culling? The only meaning of this term I’m aware of is deliberate reduction in a species population. Google didn’t find any other definitions aside from something to do with computer graphics.

  4. #5 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    Jackel: On my way to check that out.

    Josh: Culling is the process by which the mammalian brain goes from being a useless wadge of neural tissue to being a thinking organ. Differences in brains once they are formed up and ready to go are primarily differences in culling processes, which are not under genetic control at any detailed level.

  5. #6 AK
    February 18, 2009

    I’ve only recently started following your blog, and I find this post very disappointing. You seem to be falling into the same trap that most leftist “scientists” do, listing a whole bunch of things that might or might not be relevant to the question at hand in an attempt to distract from the question. (I hope I’m mistaken…)

    The most important point is that our society is geared to respond to the individual, while these studies have to do with the statistical makeup of the group. Any inclination to hold an individual responsible for the characteristics of any group he/she is a member of is immoral and un-American. When we remember this, there’s no reason not to study those statistics.

    Gender can be precisely defined for 99.9% of the human race (heh!) on chromosomal grounds. If studies regarding gender need to be separated from issues regarding abnormal development, this can probably be done by excluding the exceptional cases. Whether or not women are “smarter” than men on average, we all know there are female and male geniuses, female and male morons, and mostly females and males somewhere in-between. When people react to the individual, there is no harm in scientific studies regarding group statistics.

    Race is much more serious. I’ve just finished
    The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
    by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, and I am surprised how much more carefully they define their “racial” groups than most people who argue the question. They make clear caveats regarding lack of gene-flow in defining any group that will undergo independent selective breeding. The poster-child for this, of course, is the Ashkenazi intelligence issue, in which they repeatedly demonstrate by means of well-documented evidence, the extremely low rate of gene-flow into the pool during the middle-ages, and the social conditions that arguably provided the selective advantage for superior mathematical abilities. (All this completely contrary to the Wiki article I linked, which is typical of the unscientific dialectic used by the left.)

    The current popular definition of “race” rightly deserves to be consigned to the trash-bin, along with those bigots who use it to influence decisions that ought to be applied only to individuals. As for the oft-raised issue of “developmental influences”, when dealing with individuals I see no reason to involve them, any more than “race” or gender. Our civilization is full of jobs that need to be done correctly, and its survival depends on selecting individuals who can do them, whether they are Ashkenazi Jews raised in the suburbs or mixed “race” children of the inner cities.

  6. #7 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    bad cartoon. very bad.

  7. #8 HP
    February 18, 2009

    Next up in Nature: “Who has more Chi? Vampires vs werewolves.”

  8. #9 ben g
    February 18, 2009

    Greg,

    I have two questions:

    1. Even if we grant you that biological race doesn’t exist, isn’t exploration of the IQ differences between socially constructed groups an important avenue of scientific research, so as to understand why they have divergent economic/educational outcomes?

    2. You disagree with using “race” as a population genetics category. When speaking of groups in the context of population genetics, what would you suggest as the criteria/terminology for grouping?

  9. #10 AK
    February 18, 2009

    Just a quick note re culling: I can’t find any evidence that neuronal culling is widely considered important in differences between brains. My own reading suggest to me that the specific development of synaptic locations on dendrites, which is under genetic control, has much more to do with differences in the thinking process.

    If you are including target-dependent neuronal death in culling, I would dispute that this process has much impact. It seems to be mainly based on the neurons starting out as a sort of “scatter-shot” to be sure of hitting their targets by hitting everything nearby, followed by apoptosis of cells that don’t hit their target.

  10. #11 Joshua Zelinsky
    February 18, 2009

    Ah, that was actually something I was familiar with but apparently didn’t remember the term.

  11. #12 Colugo
    February 18, 2009

    “Culling” is an example of a somatic selection process, which is also a feature of the adaptive immune response. One evolutionary trend in vertebrates is flexible developmental systems that adapt to a variety of environmental conditions.

  12. #13 Science Avenger
    February 18, 2009

    AK said :”You seem to be falling into the same trap that most leftist “scientists” do…

    You seem to be falling into the same trap that most Coulterite rightwingers do of surrounding with scare quotes terms with which you disagree rather than doing the legwork of providing a refutation. Just what are you saying here, that Greg isn’t really a scientist? If so, have the balls to say so clearly, complete with your supporting evidence. If not, then knock it off, it makes you look intellectually dishonest.

  13. #14 Toaster
    February 18, 2009

    1. Even if we grant you that biological race doesn’t exist, isn’t exploration of the IQ differences between socially constructed groups an important avenue of scientific research, so as to understand why they have divergent economic/educational outcomes?

    I believe that history is better suited to answer your question than biology is.

  14. #15 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    Ben, I don’t think the scientific study of anything whereby the treatment groups are made up bullshit benefits anyone. But yes, understanding how IQ operates in this crazy mixed up world of ours is a valid pursuit. That is not what is in debate here, however. As for population genetics, the proper approach with respect to understanding empirical data is probably to talk about what the data actually are … samples.

    AK: You are correct that the detailed differences between people’s brains at the finer level than culling is probably more important with respect to inter-indidual differences, but these differences are distal to the genetic side of th story even more than culling is.

    Science Avenger: Thank you for covering that.

  15. #16 AK
    February 18, 2009

    Science Avenger:

    Just what are you saying here, that Greg isn’t really a scientist? If so, have the balls to say so clearly, complete with your supporting evidence. If not, then knock it off, it makes you look intellectually dishonest.

    I’m not saying Greg isn’t really a scientist. However, I’ve read work of many people with PhD’s after their names who use dialectic to push a “politically correct” position rather than examining the evidence and the research that got that evidence. Such people are acting as Lysenkoists rather than scientists. As such, they deserve the quotes.

    In reading this article, I’m surprised at the tone, which comes close to that of, for instance, the Wiki article I linked above. Whoever wrote that article has a clear bias, although they may be correct regarding the generally negative response the idea has received from the scientific community.

    Comparing what I read in this post of Greg’s with what I just finished reading in The 10,000 explosion, I find this post very short on detailed evidence for its conclusions. Consider:

    So if you have a handful of alleles that make you seem to be a Native American, for instance, some professor of higher education may look at you and think “Oh, another one of these guys. Last Native American I had to deal with …. well that didn’t go so well. Let’s get rid of this guy.”

    That was the expression of a genetic trait possessed by the victim of a racist act. The genotype was the set of alleles that code for Native Americanosity, and the trait, in its fully expressed glory, was a racist act that emerged from the social context. [&following]

    In The 10,000 explosion, OTOH, I find a good part of a chapter devoted to explaining how a holistic (my term) examination of a persons DNA can place their ancestry within even the vague “racial” groupings we commonly think of. To claim that because a handful of bigots will judge people on a few visible characteristics that there is something wrong with the scientific examination of population groupings (including their statistical distribution of intelligence or other characteristics) is, IMO completely unscientific. Those who use empty dialectic trying to shut off scientific inquiry are, at best, “scientists”.

    As for races as “social constructs”, a social construct that lasts for most of a millenium, and puts sharp limits on genetic inflow, could very well produce some amount of statistical difference in characteristics. Moreover, proper scientific examination of the whole genomes of members of this “social construct” will likely be able to tell just how much inflow there was.

    Greg:

    Last time I checked there was no evidence of that. Certainly which populations of pyramidal cells in, say, the cerebral cortex establish synaptic connections with which incoming axon populations is under genetic control. The precise way in which receptor populations are expressed in and around any synapse is certainly very plastic and adaptive to conditions, but that very plasticity is genetically determined. The key question is whether there are differences among humans regarding that genetic determination, or just between humans and relatives.

  16. #17 catgirl
    February 18, 2009

    I think that Spiv and AK made a great point that I couldn’t articulate until now. The statistical variation between groups is not likely to be significant compared to variation within those groups. So for example, if an IQ study is done to determine which children need the most help in the classroom, race and gender would only play a small part. It would be much more useful to determine that individually.

    It may be useful on a larger scale, such as providing extra funding to certain schools, but again there are better ways to determine this. As far as I know, there is a bigger correlation between poverty and educational achievement than between race and educational achievement, for example. Schools are also scored individually to get a direct measure of how much help each school needs. It’s just not very useful to tease out minor statistical differences between groups when other factors play a much bigger part.

    Also, I did not realize that boys’ IQ scores are adjusted to match girls. I’ve never taken and ‘official’ IQ test, but the ones I have taken for fun online or in books never asked about gender.

  17. #18 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    catgirl: Yes, they are often gender adjusted. All IQ scores are always adjusted for something.

    AK: Read this:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/race_and_racism/

    then come back and tell me what I’m missing in what I ‘say’ … I’m sure i”m missing something, lots even, but you would be on thin ice to judge that on the basis of a blog post, eh?

    cheers.

  18. #19 Robert Bruce Thompson
    February 18, 2009

    In fact, Greg has it backwards. To the extent that male and female IQ means differ, males are higher but the difference is no more than a point or so on either side of the mean. That is, with a large sample normalized to 100, the mean for women will fall around 99+ and that of men around 101-.

    The huge difference between male and female IQs is the large difference between them in standard deviation. That is, as you depart from the mean in either direction by 3, 4, 5, or more sigmas, women are more and more underrepresented. I don’t have the exact numbers at hand, but at +4 sigmas (generally considered genius range) IIRC men outnumber women about 10:1, and the disparity continues to increase the further out you go. Of course, that means there are also a lot more truly stupid men.

  19. #20 Jeremy
    February 18, 2009

    “In reading this article, I’m surprised at the tone, which comes close to that of, for instance, the Wiki article I linked above. Whoever wrote that article has a clear bias, although they may be correct regarding the generally negative response the idea has received from the scientific community.”

    Is AK suggesting that is bad for somebody to express a biased account of things *in a blog* ? That sounds like the best place to do it. Blogs aren’t textbooks.

    To completely ignore most of the posts and put forward my own opinion (:P), I think research into genetics and IQ would be interesting, but research into race and IQ seems pointless without a clear scientific objective breakdown of race. It’s pretty clear that “races” like “black” or “asian” actually constitute very broad groups of people, and what about “Australian”, “Jewish” or “Muslim?” Probably most people wouldn’t call these races, but then what’s the difference between “Asian” and “Australian?” – Aren’t Asians just people who live or come from Asia, and Australians are people who live or come from Australia. Are Indians “Asians?” What about Mongols or Indonesians?

    Race is essentially a meaningless distinction so it seems difficult to come up with meaningful research into the relationship with IQ when you have subjective classifications that don’t really represent material differences.

  20. #21 Aaron Luchko
    February 18, 2009

    I think that IQ might be one area where the “races” are applicable since for a lot of history race has had a significant impact on your labour prospects and social settings. For instance the claim I’ve heard is that Jewish people could have higher IQs since they spent so much time in Europe trying to avoid persecution and being forced into intellectual professions. I don’t actually believe those arguments but I do think the question could have scientific merit since there is reason to believe that selective pressure was applied on a racial bias. Of course whether we should study is another question as even discounting the obvious difficulties it’s an extremely sticky issue.

    @greg

    You really think the cartoon is that bad? My thought was “oops, that’s a snafu” but I find the concept that there was a racist intent to the cartoon ridiculous. Uproars like that very much give me the impression that someone is trying way too hard to be offended.

  21. #22 Spaulding
    February 18, 2009

    Greg, your discussion of gender might be clearer if you adopt the terminology generally used by “gender studies” whereby sex = biological category (sperm vs. egg, XY vs XX) and gender = socially constructed category (pants vs. skirts, trucks vs. dolls).

    While you can’t assume everyone else is using the terms to make the same distinction, the separate terminology helps for exactly the sort of things you’re discussing here.

    In light of all the recent noise on these issues, I’m thinking discussions of race need similar divides in terminology: phenotype vs. ancestral geography vs. social category.

  22. #23 razib
    February 18, 2009

    white heteronormative privilege! as i already state on daniel macarthur’s blog the very mooting of this topic creates a hostile and chilling environment for people of color. my voice is implicitly silenced when a ‘hypothesis’ is mulled which might deny equality of value to all peoples, regardless of color or creed. hate hypothesis is not valid hypothesis.

  23. #24 ben g
    February 18, 2009

    Ben, I don’t think the scientific study of anything whereby the treatment groups are made up bullshit benefits anyone.

    Greg, you think that racial groups “are made up bullshit”, correct?

    Doesn’t it follow from your above quote, then, that you don’t think we should scientifically study why blacks do worse than whites educationally and economically on average?

    As for population genetics, the proper approach with respect to understanding empirical data is probably to talk about what the data actually are … samples.

    Are you against attempts to summarize group-based genetic variation within the species using methods like principle component maps, clustering, etc? If so, why? If not, would you agree that study of the principal components or clusters that emerge are essential to understanding human genetic variation?

  24. #25 Stephanie Z
    February 18, 2009

    Ooh, Greg, razib is cute! Can I keep him?

  25. #26 razib
    February 18, 2009

    Ooh, Greg, razib is cute! Can I keep him?

    oh, you think it is amusing to pretend that you can possess a marginalized person of color? you flaunt your privilege with utter insensitivity, i happen to be a person of postcolonial identity whose ancestors were oppressed by white men.

  26. #27 Stephanie Z
    February 18, 2009

    You’re welcome, Razib.

  27. #28 razib
    February 18, 2009

    your trivialization of injustice is offensive.

  28. #29 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    Spaulding, I’m hip on the terminology. I was talking about gender.

    Aaron Luchko: the African = Subhuman = Ape = been doing that for two hundred year, yes, this cartoonist made an explicit and very negative racist statement with this cartoon. I’d like to hear his explanation, but .. really.

    Ben, the problem is that you are fetishizing groups. Get over the groups.

    Razib, you post colonial jokin’man you. Great to see you stop by.

  29. #30 razib
    February 18, 2009

    dr. laden, oppression is no joke.

  30. #31 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    You are absolutely correct, Razib.

  31. #32 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    Dr. Razib

  32. #33 razib
    February 18, 2009

    ah, i address you by your surname, and you respond in a manner intended to diminish. why don’t you just call me “boy”?

  33. #34 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    Again, you are correct and I am an imbecile. I hope the honorable Dr. Kahn can forgive me just a little.

  34. #35 Aaron Luchko
    February 18, 2009

    @greg
    “Aaron Luchko: the African = Subhuman = Ape = been doing that for two hundred year, yes, this cartoonist made an explicit and very negative racist statement with this cartoon. I’d like to hear his explanation, but .. really.”

    I can’t imagine for a second that African = Subhuman = Ape crossed the mind of the cartoonist for a second. If it hand the cartoonist immediately would have explained “Oh s***!!” and thrown the drawing in the trash. I can’t see the necessary combination of ignorance and racism existing in a cartoonist for a major newspaper for them to author that cartoon knowing that connotation.

    Consider the alternate explanation that the cartoon is referring to one of the multiple legislators or senators that have been writing the bill as monkeys (ie million monkeys at typewriters).

    Yes the cartoonist or editor should have had that light bulb go on and realize the alternate meaning behind the cartoon, but to assume deliberate attempt is drawing a very serious conclusion with very tenuous evidence.

  35. #36 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    Aaron, you may be right. But cartoonists probably study cartoons. If he has a BA at any reasonable college he has been exposed to this. It is just difficult to imagine otherwise. But it could be.

    We await word from the front on this one.

  36. #37 photon
    February 18, 2009

    Razib,

    As a person of post-colonial identity, whose ancestors were oppressed by white men, I find that your argument that people should not be allowed to discuss whether or not they should be allowed to ask certain questions creates a hostile and chilling environment.

    You claim that your voice is implicitly silenced, yet you advocate explicitly silencing other voices.

  37. #38 ben g
    February 18, 2009

    Greg, instead of assuming my motives, can you answer my question? Should the causes of the differences in educational and economic outcomes between blacks and whites (and other groups) be studied scientifically?

  38. #39 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2009

    ben, I answered your question above.

  39. #40 Bob
    February 18, 2009

    That races are real was proven by Linnaeus. That races are different was proven by Darwin. That they vary in intelligence was proven by Fisher. That these differences matter to society was proven by Bell Curve. Why are you still asking these questions?

  40. #41 D.ron
    February 18, 2009

    Bob, you are a little out dated.

  41. #42 razib
    February 18, 2009

    You claim that your voice is implicitly silenced, yet you advocate explicitly silencing other voices.

    hate speech is not speech at all, but violence. i do not ask that voices be silenced, i ask that humanity and dignity be respected.

  42. #43 razib
    February 18, 2009

    I find that your argument that people should not be allowed to discuss whether or not they should be allowed to ask certain questions creates a hostile and chilling environment.

    trivialization of the experience of the other is the first and foremost of the tools with which the master builds his house. people are color become trapped in the master’s cartesian abstractions, sprung forth from the eurocentric milieu and demanded to be take as a priori truths which all must bend the knee.

  43. #44 ben g
    February 18, 2009

    ok, well, that’s our core disagreement then. you think we shouldn’t do any scientific research on why the races (socially constructed or not) have unequal economic/education outcomes, and i do.

  44. #45 Aaron Luchko
    February 19, 2009

    @razib

    I worry that your approach can leads to a hostile atmosphere that stops people from investigating the causes of inequality, without knowing the causes I think finding solutions is extremely difficult.

    On a side note I have to say I find your comments a bit hard to parse. You have a tendency to use a lot of big words and rhetorical flourishes that can make it quite hard to understand what you’re actually saying.

  45. #46 razib
    February 19, 2009

    without knowing the causes I think finding solutions is extremely difficult.

    another eurocentric trope, gnōthi seauton. and always the process through which said illumination shall occur will be western science, the master’s tool par excellence! the need for solutions, the method which those solutions require, are presupposed on a normative framework laden with heteronormative white male presuppositions. rather that know thyself, might i ask interrogate thyself!

    You have a tendency to use a lot of big words and rhetorical flourishes that can make it quite hard to understand what you’re actually saying.

    economy of prose is certainly one value that could be emphasized. but i believe that a true multicultural frame requires an acknowledge that other weights besides clarity, precision and relational integrity are necessary, rhetorical flourish, showmanship and elan. these are the hallmarks of many world cultures, and the post-cartesian paradigm in the west had derided and trivialized these counter-narratives.

  46. #47 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2009

    He also notes that while people may bellyache about adjusting IQ scores across ‘racial’ groups, no one seems to complain about nor notice the adjustment of IQ scores between gender, whereby boy’s scores are raised to make them seem equal to girls. Who are smarter, obviously.

    Citation? That would be a really useful club for certain particularly recalcitrant chauvinists…

  47. #48 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2009

    That races are real was proven by Linnaeus. That races are different was proven by Darwin. That they vary in intelligence was proven by Fisher. That these differences matter to society was proven by Bell Curve. Why are you still asking these questions?

    Leaving aside the various inaccuracies of your quote, then the answer is “Because we’re interested in finding the questions that are actually meaningful and answering them accurately, not in combing the beach of research for dead wood that we can use to prop up our pre-existing biases.”

  48. #49 th real m
    February 19, 2009

    Greg” The genotype was the set of alleles that code for Native Americanosity, and the trait, in its fully expressed glory, was a racist act that emerged from the social context.”
    Don’t forget the social construct and coding of the prof who might well be reacting to the social construct of “white prof presumed (in the construct)as racist” and the racist trait could easily haave been from ‘ the last native student’ exprience where the prof was presumed racist because of skin color…

    and:”you don’t inherit your gender, exactly” no, but every womens studies fostered kid whose anti-male or gay mommy dearest cultured a presumptuous and gender focused–and anti-male viewpoint in the kid surely formed a confused/confusing construct

  49. #50 the real m
    February 19, 2009

    AK: Oh shit–an argument from the lands of Gog and Magog…de facto pro bono defense of inbreeding as a cure for low intelligence scores on western models of IQ…you almost have me convinced that kidnapping white female slaves from slavic hinterlands is the answer, ala Ashkenazim…http://jewishresearch.org/v2/2006/articles/growth/1_23_06.htm

    Which brings m to razib, being cuckolded, mothered and ‘othered’ by the white woman Stephanie….

  50. #51 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2009

    Greg, I think the commenter pool needs a little chlorine…

  51. #52 the real m
    February 19, 2009

    aha! I figured it out: razib is acting as the pseudo authority–a British trained post colonialist “local agent”–an erudite Apu from within the “formidable scholarly corpus” of the “oriental professorate”…damn those cultural capitalists!

  52. #53 th real m
    February 19, 2009

    AZKKKyroth, were you peeing in the pool again?

  53. #54 the real m
    February 19, 2009

    or are you once again prescribing skin bleach?

  54. #55 Greg Laden
    February 19, 2009

    Azkryoth: Citation? That would be a really useful club for certain particularly recalcitrant chauvinists…

    ??? This post is about two papers, cited there in, and my sentence is about something that is said in one of them. So see below (above)… ???

    BTW, IQ test are generally adjusted for urban’rual, region, gender, age of testees, and so on and so forth. The mean value of all IQ tests is 100. Because they are all adjusted. There is no ideal IQ test that can measure “IQ” The assumption is that in a laregish sample the mean is 100.

  55. #56 Azkyroth
    February 19, 2009

    Is one of the cited papers the source for the observation that boys’ IQ scores are adjusted to make them equal to girls’? Or am I misreading?

  56. #57 Spiv
    February 19, 2009

    Robert Bruce Thompson: you’re mostly correct, but it varies between test types. The view of psych is basically that some questions/problems are ‘culture centric,’ without being specifically aware of it. For instance showing a partial happy face (cultural icon) to someone who’s never seen such a thing and asking them what’s missing will ultimately result in an answer different from someone who’s lived with the icon all their lives. As such, the tests are adjusted (some + a couple points, some – a couple for a particular group or groups) to try and make up for the errors of the test itself. This does put some presumption of True Equality, which most likely isn’t quite correct, but darned if we have a good way of finding out just who’s more equal than the other. It’s kind of a crappy default position, but an affective one.

    Same answer for Azkryoth.

    If you really want to bother yourself, look up the Flynn Effect. Are we getting smarter? Or better at taking tests? Or have more advanced knowledge of the contents of them? Basically, is it real or not? It’s the same question to be asking across score adjustments of any kind.

  57. #58 Greg Laden
    February 19, 2009

    Azkryoth: yes. And Bob, as with all of these data, it depends on the data you look at, which is a big part of the point being made by Rose. Given the large differences in scores for males vs. females in special intelligence tests, it is clearly true that a seemingly valid IQ test can be designee to advantage one sex over the other. Thus the scores are normalized by sex.

    Let me point this out so we are all on the same page. All these tests are normalized. They have to be. There is no a priori method of assaying IQ in a manner such that the raw numerical results have much meaning. You need to provide a test to a population that is designed to test this measure, and that is also designed so that most people will get a fair number of answers wrong. And the population has to be big enough. Once you’ve done that, raw scores are normalized so that the average = 100.

  58. #59 AK
    February 19, 2009

    @Greg:

    Having read the first page of posts in your link, I certainly agree with your comments regarding “race” as a current social construct, and attempts to study correlations with intelligence, etc. Actually, such studies might have value as applied to the tendency of people to conform to expectations, but that subject is of little interest to me so I won’t pursue it.

    Far more important, in my view, is the fact that for a long time the human species was well divided into sub-species, analogous to sub-species in other species. True, there probably wasn’t total isolation, but there was enough that the general genetic makeup of each subspecies was and remains recognizable to proper holistic genetic examination. Remnants of those differences can still be found in modern populations.

    There is extremely good evidence that these different sub-species were subject to different selective pressures, and even when there were similar pressures, sometimes the problems were solved independently with different mutations. For example, malaria resistance and lactose tolerance. The question is whether those different pressures led to different distributions of genetic bases of intelligence.

    I’ll admit the risk that any scientific studies of “race” will be twisted to the use of intolerant bigots, but this, IMO, should not be allowed to influence scientific research.

    Finally, I’m less interested in issues of “race” than your opinions regarding the genetic basis of intelligence, however defined. I got the vague impression that you are hostile to the notion that differences in I.Q., or other discrete measures of intelligence, could be partly the result of genetic differences. Is this true, or am I being over-sensitive?

    @Jeremy:

    Is AK suggesting that is bad for somebody to express a biased account of things *in a blog* ? That sounds like the best place to do it. Blogs aren’t textbooks.

    Not bad, just disappointing to me. (In any case, I’m thinking I was over-sensitive.) There are plenty of blogs that are routinely biased in the fashion I mentioned, I just don’t go there. I was just hoping this wasn’t one of them.

    @the real m:

    de facto pro bono defense of inbreeding as a cure for low intelligence scores on western models of IQ…you almost have me convinced that kidnapping white female slaves from slavic hinterlands is the answer, ala Ashkenazim

    Not “inbreeding” but “inbreeding and culling”, a standard technique used by breeders to concentrate a characteristic. Done too fast, it reduces genetic diversity and concentrates lethal recessives, but if done at an appropriate rate it works fine with dogs, horses, cattle, and, presumably, humans.

  59. #60 catgirl
    February 19, 2009

    Should the causes of the differences in educational and economic outcomes between blacks and whites (and other groups) be studied scientifically?

    They have been studied and there are many contributing factors, such as poverty, health and nutrition, and personal and social biases.

  60. #61 Spiv
    February 19, 2009

    AK: the point is that yes, there are almost certainly differences between various genetic groups (and likely gender groups), but the tests are simply not smart enough to insure an actual result rather than a testing bias. IMO all IQ tests suffer from the same problem: they are either created by, or created through the heritage of, a bunch of gray old white male academics.

    The result of this is almost definitely that what we’re testing is our ability to become gray old white male academics, with adjustments to help counteract this effect. It’s a question of audience too; just what are we trying to accomplish from IQ testing?

    Is it identifying potential for some type of greatness? (academic? spacial? abstract? creativity? pattern recognition? One of the other 40 some odd ‘types’ of intelligence we think we know something about? What about things like synaesthetics? coordination? Adaptability? something else I know nothing of at all?)

    Is it to identify learning types, and improve educational formats? If so, we’re really, really sucking at this so far.

    Truth is, until we come up with some brilliant way of measuring a very raw form of intelligence, we’re beating around the bush and picking out “things” we want to measure. These “things” are going to do a much better job of telling us about what our cultural values than they are about the capacity of the individuals being subjected to them.

  61. #62 Aaron Luchko
    February 19, 2009

    @razib

    I consider myself to have well above average reading comprehension and I can’t be bothered to figure out half of what you’re writing.

    Writing like that does not help your argument. If anything it gives the impression that you’re deliberately writing obtusely in order to confuse the reader and sound more intelligent than them. I’m not saying this is what you’re doing but it writing like that definitely gives off that vibe. It doesn’t make people listen to you more, it makes people feel offended that you’re trying to insult their intelligence and think you’re insecure for resorting to tricks like that.

    Either that or you’re just screwing around with everybody which is a possibility I can’t discount.

  62. #63 ben g
    February 19, 2009

    They have been studied and there are many contributing factors, such as poverty, health and nutrition, and personal and social biases.

    They are still being studied. And genetics should be on the table (and, in many cases is) because there are genetic differences between these groups.

  63. #64 AK
    February 19, 2009

    @Spiv:

    That may be, if you’re looking for a functional value in “I.Q.” testing. However, any test that measures abilities that require (or are aided by) abstract reasoning may be correlated against genetic profiles, with possible valuable information. It doesn’t really matter if the current I.Q. tests are culturally biased, as long as you keep in mind that the genetic correlations are with a culturally biased test.

    IMO what would be best is a large battery of different test, applied to a number of subjects with different profiles, with large-scale statistical analysis of the results.

    The value would be almost entirely genetic: hopefully a better understanding of the relationship between certain genes (alleles actually) and various types of cerebral performance.

  64. #65 Greg Laden
    February 19, 2009

    Finally, I’m less interested in issues of “race” than your opinions regarding the genetic basis of intelligence, however defined. I got the vague impression that you are hostile to the notion that differences in I.Q., or other discrete measures of intelligence, could be partly the result of genetic differences. Is this true, or am I being over-sensitive?

    I don’t see any real evidence for this other than the useful and interesting but very different situation of a broken system. For instance, what genes determine if a person is a good runner. Well, a genetic mutation that causes a person to be born without femurs *might* be a clue for a gene that *might* be involved in running, or it might be just a badly messed up system. Similarly, genes that, when mutated in certain ways, mess up one or another brain function *might* be involved in “intelligence” one way or another. Or maybe not. Finding a gene that when broken produces certain results does not tell us that we have a gene for which there is actual allelic variation which, in turn, affects variation in intelligence across people.

    I reiterate the point I make above. For the most part, people at both extreme ends of the presumed causal spectrum … genetics folks one one end and ed/psych folk on the other … tend to be impressed with a gene->intelligence causal link. But in between we have the neurobiologists and they are by and large not impressed.

    ben g: these groups. What groups?

  65. #66 Spiv
    February 19, 2009

    AK: a large battery of tests is simply more data on the same subject if all of them are measuring American academic life, which is basically the case whether you’re taking the WAIS, SB, mega, or whatever. It’s all different test measuring, more or less, the same handful of traits that we as a culture have deemed ‘valuable.’ In other words more tests is really the same test, with more questions.

    As of yet I haven’t been asked to play a drum or coordinate a ballet maneuver during the course of an IQ test. I suspect that sort of thing would be a start, but not one we’re likely to see. The people designing the tests tend to see their bodies as a cart for their brains.

    The alternative you alluded to; take a measurement of a single aspect as we know it, try to subtract for the basic culture screw ups,then see what we have left for the genetic discrepancies. This is pretty much what we do to come to the conclusions of things like “women are better at multitasking.” The error comes immediately after, as always, that because I’m a man, I must be worse at multitasking than the women around me. Which in this case is likely true, but a terrible assumption to make. Plus, the whole process of removing various biases is a messy one, but not impossible if the data gets rich enough in time.

  66. #67 Left Hand
    February 19, 2009

    It doesn’t really matter if the current I.Q. tests are culturally biased, as long as you keep in mind that the genetic correlations are with a culturally biased test.

    If you want to diagnose ‘intelligence’ (variation in) why not start with the factors that most directly cause or shape all that is known and all that is done by the human brain? Which would be lived experience. Let’s see if lived experience can explain even a little of the variation between people first.

  67. #68 Right Hand
    February 19, 2009

    If you want to diagnose ‘intelligence’ (variation in) why not start with the factors that most directly cause or shape all that is known and all that is done by the human brain? Which would be lived experience. Let’s see if lived experience can explain even a little of the variation between people first.

    OMG, we’ve totally done that already. Lived experience does in fact explain a certain percentage of these variations!

  68. #69 Left Hand
    February 19, 2009

    Really, no kidding? How much, how much???

  69. #70 Right Hand
    February 19, 2009

    Like so much of it that we are probably done explaining it!

  70. #71 ben g
    February 19, 2009

    groups that have significantly below average outcomes educationally and economically. e.g african-americans.

  71. #72 Greg Laden
    February 19, 2009

    ben g: Demonstrate the validity/reality/existence of the group. Your science is no good if you cannot describe the sampling units rigorously. You’ve not done that yet.

  72. #73 ben g
    February 19, 2009

    Greg,

    What do you mean by “existence of the group”? This is a sincere question.

    If we’re studying why people socially recognized as “black” or “white” differ in various outcomes we could ask for self-reports.

  73. #74 Stephanie Z
    February 19, 2009

    Ben, start with where they’re socially recognized and by whom. This is nothing like consistent.

  74. #75 AK
    February 19, 2009

    @Spiv:

    I’m talking about tests including “to play a drum or coordinate a ballet maneuver“. Also discrete musical talents such as composing on paper, sight reading, jamming, etc. Also real-time solution of tactical problems, resolving scenes from backgrounds, performance at non-zero-sum games; basically everything.

    If you look into the types of tests neurologists have been using in studying the brain, you’ll find a very wide variety of interesting tests. Throw them all into the pot!

  75. #76 ben g
    February 19, 2009

    First off, I should clarify that the groups you label depend on the hypotheses you’re testing. It depends on whether you’re testing a hypothesis about African-Americans or about people of african ancestry, for example.

    Secondly, to answer Stephanie’s comment, self-reports could serve as the operational definition for being “black” or “white”.

  76. #77 ben g
    February 19, 2009

    Greg, would you agree with this: “People socially recognized as ‘black’ or ‘African-American’ have lower average IQ’s than those socially recognized as ‘white’. Additionally, there is significant genetic variation between these two populations”?

  77. #78 khan
    February 19, 2009

    If I may temporarily assume a racist stance for the sake of argument: that ‘black’ people are better at sports and ‘white’ people are better at written IQ tests…

    At what % do the advantages/disadvantages kick in?

  78. #79 Aaron Luchko
    February 19, 2009

    @ben

    For the most part I do think we have distinct groups that are socially identified as white or black, and social factors (ie stereotypes) that affect most members of those groups (ie people who are told they’re not smart generally perform worse on tests).

    However, for another perspective I want you to consider that height is a far stronger predictor of academic achievement than colour. Short people on average have far less education than tall people, the correlation is huge.

    Does this mean that if you meet two middle aged white males on the street, and one is noticeably taller than the other, that the taller one is likely better educated? Not really, children are very short and all those uneducated babies are screwing up the data.

    What I’m basically getting at is that even if you do have a well defined group you’re not necessarily getting out the data you want.

  79. #80 Greg Laden
    February 19, 2009

    Did you know that the average African American high school student in Minneapolis has an IQ that is about 20 to 25 points higher than the average rural white male of similar age?

  80. #81 Colugo
    February 19, 2009

    Buh, buh, but … rural-urban is cultural not genetic!!! Totally unlike race!

    (Just kidding; I understand your point, Greg, and I agree with it.)

  81. #82 Greg Laden
    February 19, 2009

    I think it is really funny that no one is challenging this. Everybody is busy googling it.

    It is accurate, though.

  82. #83 Azkyroth
    February 20, 2009
    Should the causes of the differences in educational and economic outcomes between blacks and whites (and other groups) be studied scientifically?

    They have been studied and there are many contributing factors, such as poverty, health and nutrition, and personal and social biases.

    Hence, the problem with the original question is that it falls into the same category as “Should scientists explore evidence against Darwin’s theory of evolution?”

  83. #84 Luna_the_cat
    February 20, 2009

    razib, someone who plays a troll so well as to be functionally indistinguishable from a troll, is a troll.

    At least this time you aren’t making a joke of a woman’s imprisonment, torture and murder.

  84. #85 Spiv
    February 20, 2009

    AK: I’m all for more comprehensive tests, and in fact a lot of the neuro tests are a great start, but they tend to only be used in reference to diagnosis of a damage or disorder. Change that and we might all get to have a clue what we’re talking about.

  85. #86 DK
    February 20, 2009

    Did you know that the average African American high school student in Minneapolis has an IQ that is about 20 to 25 points higher than the average rural white male of similar age?

    Reference please. This does seem to be unrealistic. 20-25 points difference where the the national sigma is 15? Let see the source first. I suspect you don’t know simple math.

  86. #87 Greg Laden
    February 20, 2009

    Why do I need a reference for this, but not one number cited above has come with a reference? First, DK, you come up with a reference for every assertion made up until my post regarding alleged differences in IQ. Then, I will give you the references for this and explain what it means.

  87. #88 DK
    February 20, 2009

    Why do I need a reference for this

    Because I asked for it. In a serious conversation, anyone making a factual claim is supposed to be prepared to support it. So you either come up with a source or you come across as a bag of hot air. Your choice.

  88. #89 Greg Laden
    February 20, 2009

    DK: I have already explained the rules of the game. My way or the highway, baby.

  89. #90 DK
    February 20, 2009

    I made none of the claims, so you can’t ask me to provide references for them. YOU did though. So you have to. Not that I expected you to cite your source. Q.E.D. Good luck with your way of making things up.

  90. #91 Ana
    February 20, 2009

    DK – if you met the guy Greg’s talking about, you’d understand.

  91. #92 AK
    February 21, 2009

    @Greg:

    I’ve provided reference(s) for my points (which aren’t so much claims as items with enough evidence to merit further research, IMO). I would also like to see some references for the “average African American high school student in Minneapolis has an IQ that is about 20 to 25 points higher than the average rural white male of similar age” statement if true (your question doesn’t technically make this claim, as I’m sure you’re aware).

    Personally, I find it eminently believable given drop-out rates prior to high-school in urban areas. Still, it would be nice to have something to link to using this point in other discussions.

  92. #93 Greg Laden
    February 21, 2009

    Assertions made up thread without attribution:

    Leftist scientists often fall into the trap of bringing irrelevant information into the discussion.

    Gender can be precisely defined for 99.9 percent of thehuman race on chromosomal grounds.

    “the specific development of synaptic locations on dendrites, which is under genetic control, has much more to do with differences in the thinking process.”

    “a social construct that lasts for most of a millenium, and puts sharp limits on genetic inflow, could very well produce some amount of statistical difference in characteristics. ”

    “The precise way in which receptor populations are expressed in and around any synapse is certainly very plastic and adaptive to conditions, but that very plasticity is genetically determined.”

    “males are higher but the difference is no more than a point or so on either side of the mean. That is, with a large sample normalized to 100, the mean for women will fall around 99+ and that of men around 101″

    “as you depart from the mean in either direction by 3, 4, 5, or more sigmas, women are more and more underrepresented. I don’t have the exact numbers”

    “for a lot of history race has had a significant impact on your labour prospects and social settings. For instance the claim I’ve heard is that Jewish people could have higher IQs since they spent so much time in Europe trying to avoid persecution…”

    and so on.

    The assertion that a group of dark skinned people is smarter than a group of light skinned people suddenly demands references. Interesting. And disturbing.

    My statement is accurate. I will tell you where the data come from as soon as I get references to all of the above assertions.

  93. #94 AK
    February 21, 2009

    @Greg:

    I think you should distinguish between assertions and statements of opinion, suspicions/theories/speculations, and the like. Not all of the above “assertions” are mine, however I will address each of those that are:

    Leftist scientists often fall into the trap of bringing irrelevant information into the discussion.

    Opinion. To the extent that it counts as an assertion, it was on my own authority preparatory to debate.

    Gender can be precisely defined for 99.9 percent of thehuman race on chromosomal grounds.

    See any biology textbook. O.K., I was talking about sex, which I thought you were. My further discussion certainly made that clear.

    “the specific development of synaptic locations on dendrites, which is under genetic control, has much more to do with differences in the thinking process.”

    You left out the preceding: “My own reading suggest to me that…“. This counts as a tentative opinion rather than an assertion. (Based on readings in neurology and developmental biology, e.g. see below.)

    “a social construct that lasts for most of a millenium, and puts sharp limits on genetic inflow, could very well produce some amount of statistical difference in characteristics. “

    The 10,000 Year Explosion, and references therein.

    “The precise way in which receptor populations are expressed in and around any synapse is certainly very plastic and adaptive to conditions, but that very plasticity is genetically determined.”

    The Neuron Cell and Molecular Biology (Second Edition) by Levitan, Kaczmarek; Developmental Biology, Seventh Edition, by Scott F. Gilbert.

    The rest are not mine, I won’t take responsibility for them.

    I believe your statement is accurate, but before I use it myself I would like to be able to link to references.

  94. #95 Greg Laden
    February 21, 2009

    Close enough.

    The point I’m making here, using startling facts, is that IQ values are always, always adjusted. When you make a test, you can make a test to favor or disfavor almost any possible set of test subjects. If current IQ tests have an average of X points higher for men than for women, that is because they are designed to do this. And, that information is in contrast with regular test scores, which show the average to be higher for female than male students.

    I have this image in my mind of some guy in charge of the IQ tests. The testing writers keep coming up with increasingly refined drafts of the nest test battery, and running them through the evaluation procedure. Sometimes the boys do better, sometimes the girls do better, sometimes the native americans do better, sometimes the chinese americans do better, and so on and so forth. Until eventually the guy looks at it and goes “Oh, that’s about right.”

    … but I digress …

    My data compare current IQ scores with the IQ’s of the average white rural 18 year old in the first two years that IQ tests were given. In general, if you don’t adjust the scores over time, the IQ of Americans in general has gone UP by about 25 or 30 points over the last 90 years.

    Yet we know that Americans have not actually gotten innately smarter over that time. Certainly, unequivocally, indubitably, and undeniably, it is certain that this shift in 25 or 30 points is not genetic. Not with this population, not over this period of time.

    That kind of ends the discussion of race, genetics, and IQ.

  95. #96 the real me
    February 22, 2009

    Grg: without being any more of a turd than your nemesis here, I ould like to see proof as well, re: ” Did you know that the average African American high school student in Minneapolis has an IQ that is about 20 to 25 points higher than the average rural white male of similar age?”

    Where did you find that?

  96. #97 Greg Laden
    February 22, 2009

    OH, sorry, yes, I should have provided the exact reference. Best way to get at this is probably Yerkes, R.M, “A point scale for measuring mental ability” PNAS 1:114-117 (1915) or the Yerkes monograph, Report of the Psychology Committee of the National Research Council by RM Yerkes (1919) National research council. Start with those.

  97. #98 AK
    February 23, 2009

    @Greg:

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Similarly, the fact that non-genetic factors can be shown to have an impact on intelligence, however measured, does not mean that genetic factors aren’t present as well.

    I did a quick search on intelligence nutrition “identical twins” and found, among others:

    The heritability of intelligence in Japan

    Japanese data for 543 monozygotic (MZ) twins and 134 dizygotic (DZ) twins tested for intelligence at the age of 12 give correlation coefficients of. 782 and .491, respectively, indicating a heritability of .582. Heavier twins at birth have significantly higher IQs at the age of 12, suggesting that prenatal nutrition exerts a significant effect on intelligence.

    Genetics and intelligence: What’s new?

    Nature as well as nurture contributes to the development of individual differences in intelligence. Genetic research on intelligence has moved beyond this rudimentary nature-nurture question to make several exciting discoveries about intelligence by investigating developmental change and continuity, multivariate associations among cognitive abilities, and the developmental interface between nature and nurture. Advances in molecular genetics have led to the dawn of a new era for genetic research that makes it possible to identify specific genes responsible for genetic influence on cognitive abilities and disabilities.

    Neurobiology of intelligence: science and ethics, (Full text here)

    Human mental abilities, such as intelligence, are complex and profoundly important, both in a practical sense and for what they imply about the human condition. Understanding these abilities in mechanistic terms has the potential to facilitate their enhancement. There is strong evidence that the lateral prefrontal cortex, and possibly other areas, support intelligent behaviour. Variations in intelligence and brain structure are heritable, but are also influenced by factors such as education, family environment and environmental hazards. Cognitive, psychometric, genetic and neuroimaging studies are converging, and the emergence of mechanistic models of intelligence is inevitable. These exciting scientific advances encourage renewed responsiveness to the social and ethical implications of conducting such research.

    Genetics of Brain Structure and Intelligence, (Full text here)

    Genetic influences on brain morphology and IQ are well studied. A variety of sophisticated brain-mapping approaches relating genetic influences on brain structure and intelligence establishes a regional distribution for this relationship that is consistent with behavioral studies. We highlight those studies that illustrate the complex cortical patterns associated with measures of cognitive ability. A measure of cognitive ability, known as g, has been shown highly heritable across many studies. We argue that these genetic links are partly mediated by brain structure that is likewise under strong genetic control. Other factors, such as the environment, obviously play a role, but the predominant determinant appears to genetic.

    Twin–singleton differences in intelligence? (Full text here)

    The twin method has been criticised for its alleged non-generalisability. When population parameters of intellectual abilities are estimated from a twin sample, critics point to the twin–singleton differences in intrauterine and family environments. These differences are suggested to lead to suboptimal cognitive development in twins. Although previous studies have reported twin–singleton differences in intelligence, these studies had two major drawbacks: they tested young twins, and twins were compared with (genetically) unrelated singletons. To test accurately whether twin–singleton differences in intelligence exist, a group of adult twins and their non-twin siblings were administered the Dutch WAIS-III. The group was large enough to detect twin–singleton differences of magnitudes reported in earlier investigations. The data were analysed using maximum likelihood model fitting. No evidence of differences between adult twins and their non-twin siblings on cognitive performance was found. It is concluded that twin studies provide reliable estimates of heritabilities of intellectual abilities which can be generalised to the singleton population. Twin Research (2000) 3, 83–87.

    In addition, an older, unpublished (and, therefore probably not peer-reviewed) paper: Is intelligence influenced by heritability, environmental influences, or both? How is intelligence influenced by these factors?

    Last word?

  98. #99 AK
    February 23, 2009

    Did my post earlier this morning get deleted? Lost in the review queue?

  99. #100 Greg Laden
    February 23, 2009

    AK: Sorry, I just now found and freed your post.

    Of course variation IQ has a heritable component. I don’t think that is an issue at all.

  100. #101 Ben
    March 2, 2009

    For instance the claim I’ve heard is that Jewish people could have higher IQs since they spent so much time in Europe trying to avoid persecution…”

    In terms of the Ashkenazim, it seems selection for high IQ occupations was a major factor:

    G. Cochran, J. Hardy, H. Harpending, Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence, Journal of Biosocial Science 38 (5), pp. 659–693 (2006).

    http://homepage.mac.com/harpend/.Public/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf

  101. #102 Ben
    March 2, 2009

    Read James Flynn’s comment, which utterly demolishes Steven Rose.

    “Flynn: …In Rose’s original paper [commentary], he asserts that the trait in question (intelligence) leaves aside other desirable traits and argues that the groups in question can be divided into subgroups that are more biologically coherent. He concludes that the hypothesis is not subject to scientific treatment; and therefore, no useful social policy will emerge. In his response to Ceci and Williams, he says something very different, namely, that by about 1975, it had been definitively shown that genes had no place in explaining group differences. So from that date, Jensen and everybody else had no excuse to persist.

    To assert both that a hypothesis is not scientifically testable and that it has been conclusively falsified is incoherent. The only way to reconcile them is to assume that Rose does not really mean Jensen had been refuted by 1975, but is saying that by that date, it should have been clear to everyone that the question was indeed unanswerable.”

    http://network.nature.com/groups/naturenewsandopinion/forum/topics/3871?page=3#reply-10749

  102. #103 AK
    April 8, 2009

    This new paper may be relevant:

    Genetic Covariance Structure of Reading, intelligence and Memory in Children. by van Leeuwen M, van den Berg SM, Peper JS, Hulshoff Pol HE, Boomsma DI. Behav Genet. 2009 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]

    Referenced on Dienekes Anthropology Blog.

  103. #104 james
    March 2, 2010

    We are mandated- to spend tens of millions of dollars on affirmative action, further tens of millions on funding black focus groups, community groups, despite the while being told ‘race doesn’t exist’ – (a term which only seems to come up when discussing white people, yet never seems to get a mention when dicussing other races).

    If we are legally forced to not only recognise the black race, but to spend countless millions on aiding this group to better itself socially, educationally and economically, then it’s nothing but bizarre that we risk condemnation as ‘racists’ if we even study iq differences in relation to black and other ethnic and racial groups.

  104. #105 Stephanie Z
    March 2, 2010

    No, james. You’re told race is a social construction, not a genetic one, and you’re called racist for continuing to insist that, no, no, there’s really an inherent, underlying, meaningful difference between them and you.

  105. #106 Observer
    March 2, 2010

    ***You’re told race is a social construction, not a genetic one, and you’re called racist for continuing to insist that, no, no, there’s really an inherent, underlying, meaningful difference between them and you.

    Posted by: Stephanie Z | March 2, 2010 2:03 PM***

    There’s an interesting comparison here to adolescence. It’s a social construct, but it also has a biological component.

    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/01/race-current-consensus.php

  106. #107 red rabbit
    March 3, 2010

    This has been touched on above, but surely the obvious problem with measuring IQ across groups, however you define these groups, is more with the definition of IQ equalling intelligence.

    IQ testing is inherently flawed and measures one set of skills. This set of skills is undoubtedly of value in a given setting, but if you move into a new setting, are the same skills relevant? I think this may be what our terribly angry commenter above may have been getting at:

    For example, within this group, this comment thread, clarity of language is highly valued, and the commenter above notes that that is fine, but that does not devalue flowery rhetorical skills in other settings.

    Really, the hallmark of human intelligence is less can you fit this shape with the others, and more how well do you adapt to your environment.

    We ought to have learned this from the people with calipers who “proved” that Africans were inferior and apelike. How ridiculous! What you’ll get into with measuring IQ across races, given that the IQ testing was designed by white men for white men to measure scores across skills that white men value…. well, people who are defined one way or another as “other” will in general score less well because they have different values, different experiences, different training, and will be much better at different things.

    Or another way to put it might be, watch “The Gods Must be Crazy,” and realise that western cultural values might not be so clever in a different environment.

  107. #108 james
    March 3, 2010

    I find it sad that Steph Z and others follow the mainstream line (Lewontin’s fallacy really casts a long shadow). People talk of diversity, yet deny the true beauty and diversity of humanity, different races, cultures and yes, race….
    Just as all dogs are descended from wolves, so humans are from African ancestors. Like dogs, we are all developed as ethnic and yes, racial groups into a myriad of expressions of humanity, all beautiful in their own way.
    I guess as there’s less genetic difference (using our old friend Lewontin’s fallacy and ignoring modern cluster analysis)between a pitbull and a chihuahua, and, as they, like us, come from the same ancestral line,that dog breeds don’t exist…
    Very sad indeed, but I guess in a world moving towards globalisation, a Mcdonalds on every country and increasingly identikit nations states, that the ‘there’s no race we’re all the same’ nonsense is economically beneficial to our transnational corporations, and so governments. Therefore, academia will remain filled by those who sing the same tired old tune.

    Cue an endless response of pop-scientist quotes from Dawkins, Jared Diamond and smug recitations of Flynn’s effect theorem.

    Sad.

  108. #109 james
    March 3, 2010

    Incidentally, if ‘race is a social construct’, then the fact means there is much less genetic distance between men and women, then gender must be a social construct as well??

    I guess it’s racist to even buy a woman’s magazine then, or join a men’s social club.

  109. #110 Greg Laden
    March 3, 2010

    James, you’ve done a pretty piss poor job of critique proofing your comment, by merely calling any critique of what you’ve said “sad.”

    I probably agree in part with some of what you are saying, but I would not assume your argument is anything other than a wedge. But putting that aside for a moment, I’ll just point out that the genetic and breeding history of dogs is very different from that of humans, and when dogs are left to their own (as humans generally are) you get something much more like you get with humans. Lots and lots of mutts with the occassinal odd nail sticking up.

    Your dog example just does not work.

  110. #111 james
    April 1, 2010

    Greg, thanks for the plaudits and thanks for the criticism, though neither bother me one way or another – your opinion on my opinion means zero to me.
    If the dog/ human analogy doesn’t work then what does?? Dogs share the same ancestral genetic thread, as do humans (not the same one -no human is descended from a wolf!! except maybe the grisly looking guy I saw in my gym last week!)

    Both, if you discount Lewontin’s fallacy (and if you DON’T discount that then I hope you’re enojoying the ‘Flat Earth Society videos you watch on your betamax! x) then it’s the elephant in the room. Genetic difference is similar.
    The history of dogs and humans, which you smugly, and I would guess disingeniously, sugges is ‘completely different’, is actually not. Like Jared Diamond, I think you know this (Jared states race doesn’t exist, except when he writes obscure essays for Jewish publications).

    Same genetic history (shared ancestors), same prevalent admixture – but minimal in the wider scheme of things. Similar genetic distancing ( ok, not if you watch betamax Lewontin lectures- if you do, can I borrow them-haha, yeah right).

    Same…..similarities but differences too. All dogs share character traits but some herd sheep better than others. Some fight better than other. Some run better than others…
    I recall a hilarious tale of a politically correct ‘breeds don’t exist- they’re social constructs’ exponent who ostracised a friend who studied canine breed intelligence and found that, of dozens of breeds, the Afghan hound was least intelligent. The ‘breeds don’t exist’ guys (who probably wants to borrow those betamax tapes of yours) owned an afghan hound. hahahaha. it’s a true story- post a predictably smug reply and I’ll return a link for you, betamax baby!

  111. #112 Kathy
    October 11, 2010

    I’ve been reading through this blog and it has been interesting. I just have a few comments to make regarding the blog. One is about IQ tests are just something that is important to “old white men” in academia. This may be so, but it is because it has something to do with a person’s academic talent, so it relates to the probability of their doing well in higher education, particularly at the graduate degree level. Mathematical IQ certainly would have a bearing on a person’s performance in the science and math areas even in undergraduate work. So this type of IQ test is not irrelevant, but it is limited. There should be many more types of tests to measure how well people funcetion in different areas, if you really want to measure other equally important areas for success in the job market or even success in life. I have a feeling that Social IQ would have the largest impact on a person’s overall success in life and also professionally. To get an accurate test of Social IQ would be much more difficult than getting accurate results on the things that a standard IQ test measures, because it is such a culture bound thing. A person from one culture taking a social IQ test that uses the norms of another culture would automatically disavantage someone from another culture. If the culture was radically different and the person taking the test had little exposure to the culture which judged the right and wrong answers could make someone who was highly skilled socially withing their own culture appear to have a very low social IQ. As far as the regular IQ tests being culture bound they are much more generic and it is the culture which a person wanting a higher education in this country has to deal with so we might as well accept the tests as valid, while realizing the limitation on what they actually predict.

  112. #113 Kathy
    October 11, 2010

    I’ve been reading through this blog and it has been interesting. I just have a few comments to make regarding the blog. One is about IQ tests are just something that is important to “old white men” in academia. This may be so, but it is because it has something to do with a person’s academic talent, so it relates to the probability of their doing well in higher education, particularly at the graduate degree level. Mathematical IQ certainly would have a bearing on a person’s performance in the science and math areas even in undergraduate work. So this type of IQ test is not irrelevant, but it is limited. There should be many more types of tests to measure how well people function in different areas, if you really want to measure other equally important areas for success in the job market or even success in life. I have a feeling that Social IQ would have the largest impact on a person’s overall success in life and also professionally. To get an accurate test of Social IQ would be much more difficult than getting accurate results on the things that a standard IQ test measures, because Social IQ is such a culture bound thing. A person from one culture taking a social IQ test that uses the norms of another culture would automatically disavantage someone from another culture. If the culture was radically different and the person taking the test had little exposure to the culture which judged the right and wrong answers the results could make someone who was highly skilled socially within their own culture appear to have a very low social IQ. As far as the regular IQ tests being culture bound they are much more generic and it is the culture in which a person wanting a higher education in this country has to deal with so we might as well accept the tests as valid, while realizing the limitation on what they actually predict.

    In addition, whether or not race is a social construct or not it is not fair to give special privileges to individuals who may belong to groups that statistically don’t do as well on these tests, because that penalizes individuals belonging to groups that statistically do better on these tests, even though any individual member of that group may or may not have enjoyed any privilege that are being attributed to belonging to a group which has a higher mean IQ (or better college entrance test scores, ect). My own personal feeling is that IQ is a combination of nature and nurture, but that is not really relevant when judging test results.