Genetics, Science / Tech, Social Science

A Tale of Two Bell Curves

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic” ~ John F. Kennedy 1962

To paraphrase Mark Twain, an infamous book is one that people castigate but do not read. Perhaps no modern work better fits this description than The Bell Curve by political scientist Charles Murray and the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein. Published in 1994, the book is a sprawling (872 pages) but surprisingly entertaining analysis of the increasing importance of cognitive ability in the United States. It also included two chapters that addressed well-known racial differences in IQ scores (chapters 13-14). After a few cautious and thoughtful reviews, the book was excoriated by academics and popular science writers alike. A kind of grotesque mythology grew around it. It was depicted as a tome of racial antipathy; a thinly veiled expression of its authors’ bigotry; an epic scientific fraud, full of slipshod scholarship and outright lies. As hostile reviews piled up, the real Bell Curve, a sober and judiciously argued book, was eclipsed by a fictitious alternative. This fictitious Bell Curve still inspires enmity; and its surviving co-author is still caricatured as a racist, a classist, an elitist, and a white nationalist.

Myths have consequences. At Middlebury college, a crowd of disgruntled students, inspired by the fictitious Bell Curve — it is doubtful that many had bothered to read the actual book — interrupted Charles Murray’s March 2nd speech with chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho, Charles Murray has got to go,” and “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away!” After Murray and moderator Allison Stanger were moved to a “secret location” to finish their conversation, protesters began to grab at Murray, who was shielded by Stanger. Stanger suffered a concussion and neck injuries that required hospital treatment.

It is easy to dismiss this outburst as an ill-informed spasm of overzealous college students, but their ignorance of The Bell Curve and its author is widely shared among social scientists, journalists, and the intelligentsia more broadly. Even media outlets that later lamented the Middlebury debacle had published – and continue to publish – opinion pieces that promoted the fictitious Bell Curve, a pseudoscientific manifesto of bigotry. In a fairly typical but exceptionally reckless 1994 review, Bob Hebert asserted, “Murray can protest all he wants, his book is just a genteel way of calling somebody a n*gger.” And Peter Beinart, in a defense of free speech published after the Middlebury incident, wrote, “critics called Murray’s argument intellectually shoddy, racist, and dangerous, and I agree.”

The Bell Curve and its authors have been unfairly maligned for over twenty years. And many journalists and academics have penned intellectually embarrassing and indefensible reviews and opinions of them without actually opening the first few pages of the book they claim to loathe. The truth, surprising as it may seem today, is this: The Bell Curve is not pseudoscience. Most of its contentions are, in fact, perfectly mainstream and accepted by most relevant experts. And those that are not are quite reasonable, even if they ultimately prove incorrect. In what follows, we will defend three of the most prominent and controversial claims made in The Bell Curve and note that the most controversial of all its assertions, namely that there are genetically caused race differences in intelligence, is a perfectly plausible hypothesis that is held by many experts in the field. Even if wrong, Herrnstein and Murray were responsible and cautious in their discussion of race differences, and certainly did not deserve the obloquy they received.

Claim 1: There is a g factor of cognitive ability on which individuals differ.  

First discovered in 1904 by Charles Spearman, an English psychologist, the g factor is a construct that refers to a general cognitive ability that influences performance on a wide variety of intellectual tasks. Spearman noted that, contrary to some popular myths, a child’s school performance across many apparently unrelated subjects was strongly correlated. A child who performed well in mathematics, for example, was more likely to perform well in classics or French than a child who performed poorly in mathematics.

He reasoned there was likely an underlying cognitive capacity that affected performance in each of these disparate scholastic domains. Perhaps a useful comparison can be made between the g factor and an athletic factor. Suppose, as seems quite likely, that people who can run faster than others are also likely to be able to jump higher and further, throw faster and harder, and lift more weight than others, then there would be a general athletic factor, or a single construct that explains some of the overall variance in athletic performance in a population. This is all g is: A single factor that explains some of the variance in cognitive ability in the population. If you know that Sally excels at mathematics, then you can reasonably hypothesize that she is better than the average human at English. And if you know that Bob has an expansive vocabulary, then you can reasonably conclude that he is better than an average human at mathematics.

Despite abstruse debates about the structure of intelligence, most relevant experts now agree that there is indeed a g factor. Sociologist and intelligence expert, Linda Gottfredson, for example, wrote that: “The general factor explains most differences among individuals in performance on diverse mental tests. This is true regardless of what specific ability a test is meant to assess [and] regardless of the test’s manifest content (whether words, numbers or figures)…” Earl Hunt, in his widely praised textbook on intelligence, noted that, “The facts indicate that a theory of intelligence has to include something like g.” (pg. 109). And Arthur Jensen, in his definitive book on the subject, wrote that, “At the level of psychometrics, g may be thought of as the distillate of the common source of individual variance…g can be roughly likened to a computer’s central processing unit.” (Pg. 74).

Claim 2: Intelligence is heritable.

Roughly speaking, heritability estimates how much differences in people’s genes account for differences in people’s traits. It is important to note that heritability is not a synonym for inheritable. That is, some traits that are inherited, say having five fingers, are not heritable because underlying genetic differences do not account for the number of fingers a person has. Possessing five fingers is a pan-human trait. Furthermore, heritability is not a measure of malleability. Some traits that are very heritable are quite responsive to environmental inputs (height, for example, which has increased significantly since the 1700s, but is highly heritable).

Most research suggests that intelligence is quite heritable, with estimates from 0.4-0.8, meaning that roughly 40 to 80 percent of the variance in intelligence can be explained by differences in genes. The heritability of intelligence increases across childhood and peaks during middle adulthood.

At this point, the data, from a variety of sources including adoptive twin studies and simple parent-offspring correlations, are overwhelming and the significant heritability of intelligence is no longer a matter of dispute among experts. For example, Earl Hunt contended, “The facts are incontrovertible. Human intelligence is heavily influenced by genes.” (Pg. 254). Robert Plomin, a prominent behavioral geneticist, asserted that, “The case for substantial genetic influence on g is stronger than for any other human characteristic.” (Pg. 108). And even N. J. Mackintosh, who was generally more skeptical about g and genetic influences on intelligence, concluded, “The broad issue is surely settled [about the source of variation in intelligence]: both nature and nurture, in Galton’s phrase, are important.” (Pg. 254).

Claim 3: Intelligence predicts important real world outcomes.

It would probably surprise many people who criticize the fictitious Bell Curve that most of the book covers the reality of g and the real world consequences of individual differences in g, including the emergence of a new cognitive elite (and not race differences in intelligence). Herrnstein and Murray were certainly not the first to note that intelligence strongly predicts a variety of social outcomes, and today their contention is hardly disputable. The only matter for debate is how strongly intelligence predicts such outcomes. In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray analyzed a representative longitudinal data set from the United States and found that intelligence strongly predicted many socially desirable and undesirable outcomes including educational attainment (positively), socioeconomic status (positively), likelihood of divorce (negatively), likelihood of welfare dependence (negatively) and likelihood of incarceration (negatively).

Since the publication of The Bell Curve, the evidence supporting the assertion that intelligence is a strong predictor of many social outcomes has grown substantially. Tarmo Strenze, in a meta-analysis (a study that collects and combines all available studies on the subject), found a reasonably strong relation between intelligence and educational attainment (0.53), intelligence and occupational prestige (0.45), and intelligence and income (0.23). In that paper, he noted that “…the existence of an overall positive correlation between intelligence and socioeconomic success is beyond doubt.” (Pg. 402). In a review on the relation between IQ and job performance, Frank Schmidt and John Hunter found a strong relation of .51, a relation which increases as job complexity increases. In a different paper, Schmidt candidly noted that “There comes a time when you just have to come out of denial and objectively accept the evidence [that intelligence is related to job performance].” (pg. 208). The story is much the same for crime, divorce, and poverty. Each year, more data accumulate demonstrating the predictive validity of general intelligence in everyday life.

Claim 4a: There are race differences in intelligence, with East Asians scoring roughly 103 on IQ tests, Whites scoring 100, and Blacks scoring 85.

Of course, most of the controversy The Bell Curve attracted centered on its arguments about race differences in intelligence. Herrnstein and Murray asserted two general things about race differences in cognitive ability: (1) there are differences, and the difference between Blacks and Whites in the United States is quite large; and (2) it is likely that some of this difference is caused by genetics. The first claim is not even remotely controversial as a scientific matter. Intelligence tests revealed large disparities between Blacks and Whites early in the twentieth century, and they continue to show such differences. Most tests that measure intelligence (GRE, SAT, WAIS, et cetera) evince roughly a standard deviation difference between Blacks and Whites, which translates to 15 IQ points. Although scholars continue to debate whether this gap has shrunk, grown, or stayed relatively the same across the twentieth century, they do not debate the existence of the gap itself.

Here are what some mainstream experts have written about the Black-White intelligence gap in standard textbooks:

“It should be acknowledged, then, without further ado that there is a difference in average IQ between blacks and whites in the USA and Britain.” (Mackintosh, p. 334).

“There is a 1-standard deviation [15 points] difference in IQ between the black and white population of the U.S. The black population of the U.S. scores 1 standard deviation lower than the white population on various tests of intelligence.” (Brody, p. 280).

“There is some variation in the results, but not a great deal. The African American means [on intelligence tests] are about 1 standard deviation unit…below the White means…” (Hunt, p. 411).

Claim 4b: It is likely that some of the intelligence differences among races are caused by genetics.

This was the most controversial argument of The Bell Curve, but before addressing it, it is worth noting how cautious Hernstein and Murray were when forwarding this hypothesis: “It seems highly likely to us that both genes and environment have something to do with racial differences. What might that mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet justify an estimate.” (p. 311). This is far from the strident tone one would expect from reading secondhand accounts of The Bell Curve!

There are two issues to address here. The first is how plausible is the hereditarian hypothesis (the hypothesis that genes play a causal role in racial differences in intelligence); and the second is should responsible researchers be allowed to forward reasonable, but potentially inflammatory hypotheses if they might later turn out false.

Although one would not believe it from reading most mainstream articles on the topic (with the exception of William Saletan’s piece at Slate), the proposal that some intelligence differences among races are genetically caused is quite plausible. It is not our goal, here, to cover this debate exhaustively. Rather, we simply want to note that the hereditarian hypothesis is reasonable and coheres with a parsimonious view of the evolution of human populations . Whether or not it is correct is another question.

Scholars who support the hereditarian hypothesis have marshalled an impressive array of evidence to defend it. Perhaps the strongest evidence is simply that there are, as yet, no good alternative explanations.

Upon first encountering evidence of an IQ gap between Blacks and Whites, many immediately point to socioeconomic disparities. But researchers have long known that socioeconomic status cannot explain all of the intelligence gap. Even if researchers control for SES, the intelligence gap is only shrunk by roughly 30% (estimates vary based on the dataset used, but almost none of the datasets finds that SES accounts for the entire gap). This is excessively charitable, as well, because intelligence also causes differences in socioeconomic status, so when researchers “control for SES,” they automatically shrink some of the gap.

Another argument that is often forwarded is that intelligence tests are culturally biased—they are designed in such a way that Black intelligence is underestimated. Although it would be rash to contend that bias plays absolutely no role in race differences in intelligence, it is pretty clear that it does not play a large role: standardized IQ and high stakes tests predict outcomes equally well for all native-born people. As Earl Hunt argued in his textbook, “If cultural unfairness were a major cause of racial/ethnic differences in test performance, we would not have as much trouble detecting it as seems to be the case.” (p. 425).

Of course, there are other possible explanations of the Black-White gap, such as parenting styles, stereotype threat, and a legacy of slavery/discrimination among others. However, to date, none of these putative causal variables has been shown to have a significant effect on the IQ gap, and no researcher has yet made a compelling case that environmental variables can explain the gap. This is certainly not for lack of effort; for good reason, scholars are highly motivated to ascertain possible environmental causes of the gap and have tried for many years to do just that.

For these reasons, and many more, in a 1980s survey, most scholars with expertise rejected the environment-only interpretation of the racial IQ gap, and a plurality (45%) accepted some variant of the hereditarian hypothesis. Although data are hard to obtain today, this seems to remain true. In a recent survey with 228 participants (all relevant experts), most scholars continued to reject the environment-only interpretation (supported by 17%), and a majority believed that at least 50% of the gap was genetically caused (52%). Many scholars in the field have noted that there is a bizarre and unhealthy difference between publicly and privately expressed views. Publicly, most experts remain silent and allow vocal hereditarian skeptics to monopolize the press; privately, most concede that the hereditarian hypothesis is quite plausible. Here, we’ll leave the last word to the always judicious Earl Hunt: “Plausible cases can be made for both genetic and environmental contributions to [racial differences in] intelligence…Denials or overly precise statements on either the pro-genetic or pro-environmental side do not move the debate forward. They generate heat rather than light.” (p. 436).

Whatever the truth about the cause of racial differences in intelligence, it is not irresponsible to forward reasonable, cautiously worded, and testable hypotheses. Science progresses by rigorously testing hypotheses, and it is antithetical to the spirit of science to disregard and in fact rule out of bounds an entirely reasonable category of explanations (those that posit some genetic causation in intelligence differences among racial groups). The Bell Curve is not unique for forwarding such hypotheses; it is unique because it did so publicly. Academics and media pundits quickly made Murray an effigy and relentlessly flogged him as a warning to others: If you go public with what you know, you too will suffer this fate.

There are two versions of The Bell Curve. The first is a disgusting and bigoted fraud. The second is a judicious but provocative look at intelligence and its increasing importance in the United States. The first is a fiction. And the second is the real Bell Curve. Because many, if not most, of the pundits who assailed The Bell Curve did not and have not bothered to read it, the fictitious Bell Curve has thrived and continues to inspire furious denunciations. We have suggested that almost all of the proposals of The Bell Curve are plausible. Of course, it is possible that some are incorrect. But we will only know which ones if people responsibly engage the real Bell Curve instead of castigating a caricature.


Bo Winegard is a graduate student at Florida State University. Follow him on Twitter: @EPoe187

Ben Winegard is an assistant professor at Carroll College. Follow him on Twitter: @BenWinegard

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  1. Uri Harris says

    Fantastic article. So refreshing to read a popular piece that is free of any attempt to emotionalise, and which considers all sides to the argument. The way these authors have been treated is disgraceful.

    Perhaps the best way to get people to accept these issues is to go the other way? Virutally everyone can accept that there are certain groups that outperform intelligence tests, most notably Ashkenazi Jews. (Just show them lists of Nobel Prize winners relative to population.) Once people have acknowledged that, it’s easier to accept that it can also work in the other direction.

    • rickflick says

      I read from, I think, Steven Pinker that Ashkenazi Jews average about 112 IQ points which is close to a standard deviation above the norm. This, it would seem, can account for the excess Nobel Prizes even though Jews are a small minority in the US.

      • So? The question is how to develop a productive civil society with most benefit accrued to most, most of the time especially given the militative action of globalisation and technology.

        • abellwordpress says

          This IS the real point. Why do people get so attached to any of this? In what way is IQ an important notion to society or individual? If we scored race based on some number from a reflectance test of their skin, would that help anyone or anything?

          IQ seems that’s a bit of vanity that “smart” people like to wear as badges to show off to one another. Does having a IQ mean that you have no responsibility to those with lower IQs? What about the other way around? It just doesn’t matter and the people going on trumpeting the notion that it does are misguided (and smart…wait… )

          • The McChuck says

            I have no responsibilities to strangers other than to not go out if my way to harm them. I have firm responsibilities to my family, lesser responsibilities to my friends, but only social courtesies to strangers. I have already fulfilled my duty to protect my nation.

            The entire point is that facts outweigh the Feelz. That you and some other commenters seem to have missed this is quite telling. Either you are not sufficiently intelligent to comprehend the article, or you reject reality in favor of political dogma. I am in no position to tell which, although I suspect that both have some influence on the outcome.

          • I imagine this post is entirely on point:


            I recommend the entire thing, but this is the most relevant part to your question:

            The creepy idea is actually that people who score higher on IQ tests are in some sense superior human beings.

            How did this creepy idea get into our heads, anyway? You can just look at it and see it’s creepy. Ick.

            Yes, general intelligence correlates across a wide variety of problem-solving skills. If you have a high SAT score, you are more likely to be a good Go player. Until machine learning is a little more mature, this may retain some economic importance. You may retire before your brain is obsolete; your kids won’t.

            But a better person? Everything about this idea is obviously objectionable. For instance, if a smarter person was actually a better person, a court should take his testimony more seriously. He’s more likely to tell the truth, since he’s a better person. He’ll be a better husband and parent, since he’s a better person. Wat?

            For most people I know, it’s not hard to find the psychological source of this creepy neurosis. It’s called “high school.”

            If you’re an average American New Yorker reader, high school was the last time you were on the bottom of the totem pole. Maybe you were one of the smartest kids in the building. But to the cheerleaders and football players, you were a joke. If you had friends (some did), you and your friends were a joke.

            Here’s my own story of IQism. Third grade was the last time I was with kids my own age. I threw chairs and terrified everyone, so they skipped me to fourth. This was quite effective if only in a disciplinary sense. Later my family moved to Cyprus and put me in a fake English public school, going from fifth grade to “third form” — ie, 8th. With CTY in between. After two years, we moved back to Maryland, where I was a 12-year-old sophomore in a diverse public high school. Later I graduated from Brown at 18 and dropped out of the Berkeley CS program at 20.

            My actual IQ isn’t that high, but this CV suggests a risk for IQism — pretty much the way the CV of a heroin-addicted sex worker suggests a risk for HIV and Hep-C.

            Perhaps I overdosed. I don’t know. In any case, I reject IQism and everything it stands for. It disgusts me, the way racism disgusts you.

            I stand with the cheerleaders and jocks (now housewives and plumbing contractors). Sure, they got to go to the prom. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Is that justice? Or just more injustice?

            Racism, Nazi style, is the arrogant ideology of a dead ruling elite. We bombed the shit out of this elite (my grandfather, a Jewish Communist from Brooklyn, invaded Europe with the 100th Airborne). Then we said to Germany: now, how’s that Nazi sh*t working out for you? Not so great, it seemed, so the Germans have been super sweet ever since.

            IQism is the arrogant ideology of a live ruling elite. 50 years ago, the jocks and cheerleaders handed over Detroit to the professors and journalists. How’s that working out for Detroit? It was never bombed by the RAF, but it looks like it. Surely if the Krauts can change their minds and their system of government, so can we.

            50 years ago, in every major city in America, there was a thriving African-American business district — Bronzeville in Chicago, Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, Third Street in SF. Where are they now? You can still drive there — in the daytime. I’ve been to Third Street. Once was enough.

            Dear Brown, dear Berkeley, dear NPR, tell me again what great things you’ve done for black America. I’m all ears, since my eyes are telling me you’ve taken their votes and f*cked them. Like any arrogant ruling elite.

          • Uri Harris says

            abellwordpress, the reality is that there is a growing movement in much of the West against ‘insitutional racism’, where to some extent it is assumed that any outcome inequality is due to cultural or institutional barriers. This is being used as an argument for more government regulation. See Jordan B. Peterson for a discussion of some of these issues.

            This forces opponents of these regulations to present arguments against it, and IQ differences are unavoidable, since they are so well-documented, as Bo and Ben describe above.

            I think it makes everyone uncomfortable to discuss these issues, since noone wants to unnecessarily offend other people, but what else can you do in this situation? Just accept increasing government regulation towards outcome equality, which to me seems like it can never end short of communism if not opposed?

        • jay says

          My understanding is that this IS one of the things Murray addressed. He feels that steps need to be taken to make sure people are not left out of society–indeed he advocates for a minimum income and other aids to overcome poverty. He is in some ways more of a liberal than his critics.

      • Simon says

        They went through a pretty tight keyhole however (i.e. Nazism). Is it likely that those Ashkenazi Jews that were more wealthy or otherwise well resourced (which acts as a proxy of intelligence due to its association with edu outcomes)? Which may account for this high average IQ.

        • Alan Perstin says

          Most surviving Jews, my family included, came from the Soviet Union.
          My parents immigrated to the US in the 90s, and right now I’m 22 and in grad school for physics. I can assure you that neither I nor the other 4 Jews in the program of 17 grad students are rich.

          • aljones909 says

            It’s possible though that the ancestral jews who managed to resist assimilation were in higher status occupations (and therefore had a higher IQ). The less intelligent jews may have been absorbed into the general population. There’s pogroms as well. Maybe the more intelligent had a higher survival rate.

          • My parents failed me too. Now we have to work for a living. ;). Good contribution for dispelling a myth. Thanks.

        • Uri Harris says

          Simon, the keyhole wasn’t just Nazism, but the 1,000+ years that came before it, where there were very severe environmental pressures on Ashkenazi Jews.

  2. Fantastic article. I think a lot of minds are very closed on this, usually because of confused arguments about the sociology of race and myths that IQ is meaningless.

    On the other hand there are some sophisticated arguments, like that between group IQ differences might be closed through the Flynn effect. What they don’t know is that IQ gains from the Flynn effect are subtests least correlated with g

    This is true of gains from adoption into higher SES families, Head Start IQ gains (though these are very small), and anything that comes from more practice for a test.

    Another powerful argument that more people should pay attention to but don’t because it’s mathematically sophisticated: between sibling regression to different means.

    If oppression or poverty were really the reason why we see group IQ differences, it makes no sense for a white child with a 120 IQ to have — on average — smarter *siblings* than their Hispanic or black counterparts. But the genetic differences model easily explains it.

  3. Great piece!

    Of course, I’ll help the readership along by being more forward with the reality. The reality is that the case for inherited group differences in intelligence and behavioral traits is quite strong. Indeed, they are expected as per evolutionary theory, and can be deduced by the simple realities of the heritability of behavioral traits (high in most any environment) and the breeder’s equation, which governs the rate of evolutionary change (which operates fast enough for their to be ample time for change in the time human racial groups have been evolutionarily separate).

    See my introductory page:

    JayMan’s Race, Inheritance, and IQ F.A.Q. (F.R.B.) – The Unz Review

  4. I’m getting one of my premonitions…yes…the mists are clearing and a vision of the future is coming through in the glass….yes…I can see articles written by Jonathan Marks (who hasn’t read the Bell Curve) and Greg Laden (who hasn’t read it either)…condemning this piece (which they also won’t have read). Is this getting to be some sort of post-modernist meta-acxademic exercise?

  5. Nathan S. says

    I’m a bit curious, what do we know/remember about racist groups at the time using The Bell Curve for their own propaganda purposes? I wasn’t much into politics at the time so I personally don’t recall the climate.

    The reason I ask is that if such declarations publicly existed, it should probably be discussed along with the negative response from academic journalism. I agree that science should not be limited because it explores uncomfortable hypotheses. However to not acknowledge the more sinister use of certain findings is equally dangerous as those who pretend that ONLY sinister use could result from those findings.

    But I thoroughly enjoyed the article. I found a copy in a library in high school and was surprised at how non-committal the authors sounded. Plus it was only one of 15-20 chapters, it wasn’t even close to theain focus of the book. Even if it turned out they were both privately white supremacists, you wouldn’t know it from reading the book. You’d have to assume that anyone ascribing to this theory was a supremacist by definition…Which seems to be what the protestors did.

    • The Bell Curve was published in 1994 and, as I recall, it was initially well received. About a year later, the chief comments were that IQ tests were culturally biased and could not be used to support the null hypothesis that IQ (or g or whatever) does not follow a normal or Gaussian distribution in any sufficiently large readily identifiable subset of any culturally stable population.

      I don’t recall that there were any racist groups that commanded a national audience in the 1990s and I don’t think that any such group had commanded a national audience since the 1920s. The Bell Curve did re-enforce the longstanding popular perception that the hierarchy of group intelligence in the US placed Ashkenazi Jews first, European Americans second and African-Americans third. Along these lines, Muhammad Ali’s earlier comment to the effect that whenever he happened to be flying he always felt safest when there was a white pilot got some play. For most of us, Herrnstein and Murray were stating the bleeding obvious.

      This was also the time when the education lobby was pushing the idea that more money for better teachers and pre-school would soon show that IQ is totally the product of environment. This movement culminated in Laura Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative which the idiot G. W. Bush swallowed hook, line and sinker.

      My library withdrew the book from circulation in 1997 and so I got my copy for $0.50 on the discarded book table.

      What critics of Murray consistently ignore is how predictive Murray’s work has been for the last 20 years. In the social sciences, unlike real science, it appears that the predictive value of a hypothesis means nothing if the hypothesis is not first politically correct.

      • Simon says

        This is a big topic and hard to deal with in a succinct manner, but I’ll try to at least make one small contribution.

        First, the issue with Murray et al. is of course unrelated to whether certain races differ in regards to performance on cognitive testing (which they do), but rather, what accounts for those differences (which is contested).

        In order to approach this question it is important to understand what intelligence/cognitive tests are/do. In this context, many inferential problems arise from researchers/layfolk (in their defense they are largely are untrained in their use) who conflate performance on a cognitive test with cognitive ability. This is evidenced by a vast number of research articles that make a considerable inferential leap from tests-to ‘intelligence’ (this issue is only amplified when said researchers make this inference on an inappropriately small number of cognitive tests-NOTE: if this occurred within a clinical context there would be grounds for a complaint to an appropriate regulatory authority for an ethical breach, but I digress).

        It is important to understand that cognitive tests assess BEHAVIOUR, on the basis of which, inferences about cognitive ability can be derived. The reason why this is important to remember, is that because cognitive tests test behaviour, some of the variance in this behavior will be due to underlying cognitive ability, but also many other factors (motivation, anxiety, test taking experience, education level, context, fatigue, nature of the test and so on). This means that across individuals, the extent of performance on a cognitive measure that is driven by actual cognitive ability may vary, and in some cases, to a considerable degree. This is why clinicians will never assign an single ‘score’ to an individual, and instead apply a broad qualitative range and a CI (the latter of which usually crosses over qualitative ranges, which gives you a good indication of how imprecise these measures are, even when you deliver a full battery, which most researchers don’t).

        Accordingly, the issue that I have with Murray et al. is that they inappropriately conflate performance on a cognitive test(s), with actual cognitive ability. The latter of which certainly contributes towards cognitive performance, however the extent that this occurs within individuals varies greatly. In this context, there are a number of factors that could begin to account for population differences in performance on cognitive tests, and moreover, it is argued by many researchers/clinicians that these factors may disproportionately affect some populations more than others.

        Note: this comment makes a general point about ONE of the inferential issues with Murray’s work, however I am aware that this ignores an even more fundamental issue, which relates to the tests that they used. That is, these tests featured questions that reportedly included trigonometry, which if true, is enough to totally dismiss their findings outright. Regardless, it is hoped that this comment makes a contribution to this discussion, irrespective of this considerable (if true) flaw.

      • Matt White says

        I have to disagree. There was immediate objection to the book from the usual suspects. I bought and read the book based on the immediate objections of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. This was within a few days of the books release. I felt sorry for Murray as he did numerous interviews alone as Herenstein died shortly before the books release. The biggest point I got from the book was the future concentration of intelligence based on SAT scores.

    • Bo Winegard says

      I totally agree. The authors were very cautious and judicious. It is a great read. The storm that raged about it was mostly caused and sustained by people who never read it.

    • scottnwdc says

      A little bit– but it’s not as if the IQ data was new, or that racist groups hadn’t used it before. Dan Seligman, a fairly prominent journalist, wrote an much shorter IQ book a few years back. But Murray was already pretty famous, and this book was comprehensive, so it made a much bigger splash. The response by establishment conservatives was interesting– many people took the “even if true probably shouldn’t be said out loud position” which I’m sympathetic to on some days.

  6. “laser-focused, tunnel vision”.

    It is interesting to read about the results folk find when,
    …. like the Bell Curve, etc,
    when brilliant, intelligent folk focus, focus, focus.

    For example, the “best known practice” of hospitals,
    ….starting to be used everywhere about 60-70 years ago
    is to take new born infants and lock them in isolation chambers
    …….serviced by automatons (or people dressed that way)
    …”so they survive” – which is what the hospitals are paid for.
    What is the “collateral damage” of “age 1 day” non-binding of pheromones for gender and mating?
    They certainly don’t know and we are living with the collateral damage.

    Similarly, what is the initial computational set up of the first 4 years of a new born’s interaction with the environment?

    Dah?? Must be hereditary!
    So, what do any of these bright, focused folk know about the initial setup of
    …..massively parallel, massively connected, sensor based, temporal weighted,
    …. threshold analog computational device
    ……..i.e. the human brain
    ……to continually strive to exist/reproduce within the framework of
    ……Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to have surviving grand kids
    they think they have a clue about?”

    Dah!! Not important (cuz we’re clueless).

    • Salmed says

      Here we see the higher intellect of women despite their lower IQ scores than men on the higher ends.

      • Susan Corwin says

        But just for educational fun, remember:
        a) the male human brain has been measured, from carcasses, as to be a tiny bit larger
        ……than the female human brain.
        b) a major amount of male brain power is spent managing the
        ….. “family jewels” and associated injection mechanism
        …….to the detriment of other sensor inputs and future non-reproductive actions.
        c) “IQ tests” are “male oriented’ and utilize the “winning is the only thing”
        …. methodology of the steroid high with the goal of “family jewel” orientation
        ….and suppression of oxytocin impact.

        It is real hard to “lead the charge” to new technology if bullies require a person to wear a hijab.

        • The McChuck says

          Fact free and full of the Feelz. Check.

          Hates men. Check.

          Can’t comprehend the difference between Christian and Muslim. Check. (Bonus points in her favor for implying that standard Muslim dress is offensive.)

          Nonsensical, pseudo-intellectual diatribe. Check.

          Did I miss any?

          • LOL in Oregon says

            The great anonymous Oz “chuck”!
            Knows all and sees all!
            but “winning is the only thing”!

            If the anonymous “The McChuck” would only wear a hadji, everyone else would be happier!
            ….if he only had a brain……check!

  7. Nicholas Clarke says

    What would happen if the SPLC and Antifa were tweeted that Slate article?

  8. Ted Stillman says

    What I find particularly concerning about this is the inability to even deal with this evidence for the vast majority of the people calling for Murray to be shut down. They don’t disagree with the evidence, they aren’t even aware of it, and I think for many the concept of knowing about it would be, in and of itself, problematic.

    My general rule of thumb is that if there’s a disagreement on a contentious social issue, the side making the substantive citations to raw data are the people who probably know what they’re talking about. In this case, with one side treating consideration as equivalent to blasphemy, it’s not even close.

    • Bo Winegard says

      Totally agree. It is truly a sad spectacle.

    • joelammers says

      Also agree. I once started reading a review of “The Bell Curve” in which the author stated up front that he hadn’t read the book, but he didn’t need to because he knew it was a racist book. It was quite some time ago but I don’t think I even bothered to read any further, as I knew the review was worthless. The author was celebrating his ignorance.

  9. Ardy says

    I have held the view for many years that intelligence is a variable like many things about humans. I noted a report a few years ago that African’s born in the west are increasing their IQ.

    White people and people from cold climates tend to be of higher intelligence when you consider what they lived through in attempting to survive a killing winter it is understandable. Planning, organisation, very hard work to get in crops, food for livestock and family every day in a short summer. Women also working to prepare food for the winter ie smoked or preserved. Lack any of these and you most probably died.

    I wrote a short article on my thoughts some years ago and still think there is merit in it when you consider, for example, the life of Africans or Pacific Islanders, gardeners, hunters and fishers mostly. Still they could starve to death if crops failured or a shortage of game/fish but they did not have to face 6 months of freezing cold when there was nothing.

    • Simon says

      Yes, you are correct. There is a substantial body of research that looks into acculturation effects, largely finding that acculturation is associated with higher cog performance on cog tests.

    • nicky says

      Did they test Siberians and Fuegans? If climate is a cause, they should be about the cleverest ones on Earth.
      I think that a long tradition of literacy (eg Jews, Chinese) may play a role.

      • Ardy says

        Don’t know about Siberians but in China the capital was in the North ie the cold part and they referred to Southern Chinese as barbarians. Then the empire was taken over by Kublai Khan from an even colder climate. Not sure there was too much literacy in Europe over the same period. Are the lacking in IQ because of that?

        I think it is due to the pressure they were put under and how they dealt with it.

  10. Santoculto says

    ”A child who performed well in mathematics, for example, was more likely to perform well in classics or French than a child who performed poorly in mathematics.”

    On avg, among some groups as european gentiles.

    But REAL g, is not only psychometric g.

    Pattern recognition is the real g, omniscient in every action, in every grasps and in every mistakes or apophenic unrecognition.

    You are talking about IDEAL g and not REAL g.

    Real g, again, is not only psychometric one, it’s more assymetrical.

    The child who performed well in ”mathematics” may perform well in ”classics”, but may not perform so well in other cognitive tasks and even within this examples. And ”mathematics” or ”classics” are both broader and vague concepts.

    My example, in my native language, portuguese. I’m quite good in ortography but i’m not ”so” good in grammar. Indeed i have a tectonic plate there. But a verbal IQ tests may don’t reflect this reality, only in superficial way, telling how general good i’m in verbal. Many other sub-abilities are not being ”measured” by IQ tests, for example, the creative capacity to generate verbally abstract ideas.

    Seems, you are using european intelligence as greenwich-standard of G [what g is]. Ashkenazi jews prove that this statement above don’t reflect the intrinsic nature of g, but the nature of g of most europeans and diaspora.

    Seems easy to understand, also, that differences inside university departments reflects real G too: humanities more skilled on verbal than math, Stem more skilled on both, and engineering more good on non-verbal than verbal.

    ”was more likely” show us that we are talking about correlation and not about conclusive causality. But i think, arrogantly i know, that many of you interpret it as if this statement above reflect a psychometric dogma or indisputably rigid truth.

    You are starting from the principle that almost people are cognitively generalistic or symmetric on their cognitive skills while in the truth most people are assymetric, the differences is that some people have EXPLICIT ”tilts” while the majority tend to have a IMPLICIT ”tilts”.

    Humans as well almost living beings are more specialists than generalists.

    ”Suppose, as seems quite likely, that people who can run faster than others are also likely to be able to jump higher and further, throw faster and harder, and lift more weight than others, then there would be a general athletic factor, or a single construct that explains some of the overall variance in athletic performance in a population.”

    You know there are a lot of diversity of different types of athletic people. For every diversity of types of the same domain there is a underlying factor, period. You can find ”factor g” for most of this type of ”structures”. You can find ”sub-factor g” for creativity, rationality, evilness, goodness, pussyness, etc…

    I believe quality express better what things are than quantitative or ”size” that reflects their dimensions. And quality in my always pseudo-humble opinion can be ”measured” or comparable and hierarch–iable via authenticity levels.

    You have a concept, a verbalized description of something, and you have a bunch of people who are related with this concept. For example, creative to the creativity. And you have qualitative levels of authenticity [old ”purity”]. How creative this individual is. How representative of this concept, how purely or authetically representative you are.

  11. Santoculto says

    ”If you know that Sally excels at mathematics, then you can reasonably hypothesize that she is better than the average human at English. And if you know that Bob has an expansive vocabulary, then you can reasonably conclude that he is better than an average human at mathematics.”

    I think in hard non-mathematic sciences such biology, medicine, physics, both verbal and math skills are required but in the epicenter of mathematics, aka, engineering and other similars, verbal is peripherically required. Engineering is just the opposite of humanities.

    It’s a logical conclusion but it’s factual too*

    You guys are may think that ”[cognitively] smarter people can choice what they want to do”.

    I already read in UNZ: ” a genius who excel in literature can move to the sciences”. It’s depend. Maybe s/he can move from one area to another based on their creative skills, purely speaking, and not based on their convergent capacity. But if s/he have a better verbal intelligence so maybe s/he would not be as genius s/he has been in literature.

    ”Despite abstruse debates about the structure of intelligence, most relevant experts now agree that there is indeed a g factor”

    Yeissh because every structure have their basis/g.

    The problem is our poor explanation of that.

    “The general factor explains most differences among individuals in performance on diverse mental tests. This is true regardless of what specific ability a test is meant to assess [and] regardless of the test’s manifest content (whether words, numbers or figures)…”

    Seems you just repeat what other people already said, be creative in the next, and develop above this knowledge.

    ”performance in mental tests”

    TESTS.. ok

    now, back to the real world.

    In the real world we see that is not that simplistic and distant from the object of scrutiny.

    ”Claim 3: Intelligence predicts important real world outcomes.”

    Yes, but this ”intelligence” is indeed a lot of other things, intrinsic to the individuals and extrinsic or environmental. For example, the ”smartest” of politicians become presidents or first ministers.

    First, intelligence is not only its cognitive side,

    Second, intelligence is not primarily what it is, in physiological way, but how it express, via behavior. You only know who is smarter, based on your possibly arbitrary and exclusive conceptions of it, via behavior. Indeed, my brain make me act like that, BUT still my intelligence [if i had one] only can be fully expressed and/or self-achieved via behavior, whatever what.

    Third, for politics for example, how is the criteria to be a GOOD politician* [if this rare breed really exist]. The criteria to govern is not based on qualitative approach or authenticity BUT via very indirect criteria such popularity, capacity to act in front of people, and others even less nobles than these.

    About good behavior and IQ-intelligence:

    you are always neglecting the good-behave people of almost IQ layers. Yes there is a higher % of disfunctional behavior and even within disfunctional behavior higher IQ ones are more likely to be less afected BUT, this problems are not intrinsic to the vulnerable people because the environment also need offer chances to engage in this vulnerability. For example, we no have more hard drug addicters without drug-availability. And again we have a lot of reasonable good-behave people of lower and below avg IQ-layers.

    And the negative or positive impact of ”smarter” people are always great than of less smarter, because the first usually are in social prominence or have cognitive skills enough to cause big problems.


  12. harrync says

    Unfortunately I don’t have the citation right in front of me, but I am pretty sure Murray made it clear that racial differences should not have any effect at the personal level. That is, unlike Muhammad Ali, I would have no problem with a black woman as my pilot – pretty sure she had the same skill, training and qualifications as any other pilot. On the other hand, I would have a worry if the airline had a quota of 7% black female pilots – would make no more sense than if the NBA had a quota of 77% white basketball players. [Those are the approximate percentages of the US population as a whole.]

    • Santoculto says

      ”racial differences should not have any effect at the personal level”

      More authentically you are to the reasonable version of stereotypes/big patterns of your group, whatever how, more ”effect” this will have on you.

  13. Dr.Marty Shoemaker says

    This is a very timely article given the liberal left’s obsession with social justice often regarding the facts. Most of us are tuned into equal opportunity doesn’t always equal genetics and potential. In the case of the Bell Curve which came out while I was still teaching psychology at a local University and it caused quite a stir so I have two observations given this summary and the comments that followed. 1) One contributor correctly pointed out that IQ tests have error terms and they are only approximations of cognitive skills and tests behavior related to test-taking and answering questions which is an important covariate. One important finding in cognitive skill tests not discussed yet are the effects of expectation. Students who do poorly on say, Mathematical skills in the past are most likely to “give up” quicker than those who are most successful in their past and therefore, are more tenacious. This is a learned response to test taking and when early quitters are encouraged to “hang in” can increase test scores by at least by 5-10%. Expectations therefore are an important variable in all testing. This can be related to past experience for sure, but also attention span and conscientiousness which are possibly personality traits. Not as important as factor g in scores but one that can be taught and more environmental is how to stick with things that are difficult at first.
    2) A more cultural values issue that to me is as important as dissecting the factors affecting IQ scores is the repressive and caustic reviews that this book received and those that actually read it might have been very timid to agree with the racial difference conclusions. Any process that actively punishes the efforts of us to find the truth and publish it is more of a deterrent to progress that any other bias. It reminds me of the suppression of secular thought by various religions in past eras so much so that atheists, freethinkers and the non-religious feared for their academic livelihood and even their lives. We have made progress in this area since the Enlightenment but political correctness to the extreme now for victim identities is starting down a sad path if books like the Bell Curve are censored because we don’t like the conclusions and their possible extrapolation.

    • Bo Winegard says

      I completely agree. Thanks for the comment. I hope more will continue to push back against the suppression of totally legitimate scientific inquiries and hypotheses.

      • Dr.Marty Shoemaker says

        Keep up the excellent scholarship. I will look for future articles from you.

  14. This was a great article. This is such a straight forward and well understood matter, as you have plainly shown, yet the controversy never ends because people simply refuse to accept the truth. They would rather slander and lie rather than consider reality as it actually exists.

    It is funny that you mention that Murray was slandered as a sexist too, because if I recall correctly there were really only a few pages which even discussed gender at all and even in then it only mentions almost in passing that there is greater variability in males. It is amazing that this could have been so contorted.

    Of course, today we know much more on sex differences in intelligence. For example, intelligence seems to be X linked, which results in pseudo-dominance for recessive intelligence boosting AND lowering alleles. So we basically can understand why it is that so many more men are both retarded but also so many others are more gifted than the girls who cluster around the middle.

    I highly recommend the book “smart and sexy” by roderick kaine to fill in the gaps on this issue when it comes to comparing genders.

    • Bo Winegard says

      Thanks for the comment and the link. I will check it out!

  15. Santoculto says

    ” ”intelligence” is heritable”


    IQ tests scores ”is” heritable

    but not.

    This statement is a psycho-bubble do you knew*

    The main concept of intelligence is already corrupted.

    Why not be HONEST and admit that you guys believe intelligence is only or fundamentally what beings can do in their labor lifestyle*

    Psychometrics separates behavior from cognition and claim that only cognition that actually is intelligence.

    Aaaand relativize morality, bad guys you are!!!1

    And heritability as a quotient between phenotypical and genotypical variation must need the terms/aspect dominant and recessive studied…

    Seems to really apply heritability you must need to know the genotypical landscape to compare with phenotypical /dominance expression based on this geno-land.

    Other question is: twin populations are representative of average population*

    Inheritance start from the idea that ”what your parents ‘have’ will be perfectly passed for you via conception … and womb environment quality”, but by now, seems, we no have a good understanding of this ”genetic information”, we even don’t know how random is this process of conception and if womb environment really have a impact anyway. Probably in some very complicated circunstances for example severe malnutrition or mom drug-abuse during pregnancy but not about other.

    –All– Ethiopian children who were born during periods of famine were left with sequelae *

    Or some people are more genetically resistent than others even in this situations*
    What is the limit of caloric values to cause problems during pregnancy *

    Then the children of the catwalk models who are almost all malnourished will be born with sequels *

    They are smaller in stature [caused by famine] than Ethiopian children who did not go through deprivations during the gestation of their mothers *

    Be frank here [seems], we really don’t know.

    Sexual behavior affect the quality of offspring*

    Or in promiscuous group the variation of genetic quality is naturally broader than among non-promiscuous group*

    The big patterns are there…

    Behavioral traits varies within families, not rarely in significant ways,

    Sons and daughters are naturally recombinant or discret-mutant types of their biological parents/biological families,

    There is a variation within races BUT also there is a pan to quasi-pan behavioral /and physiological traits.

    For example, there are ”black nerds”: usually above avg intelligence and interested in science.

    But most of black nerds are more similar to the black thugs for example, in sexual libido, voice pitch, more extroversion and narcisism than with ”white nerds”.

    Or my other example i already used in some place: homossexuality.

    Homossexuals are spread throughout human populations. In each human population, even they have pan-traits for example, invariably reversed brain morphology, homossexuals of different races will ”embodied” the pan-behavior or temperament of their respective races, on avg.

    The least non-introverted or at least non-reserved east asian still will likely to share some pan-behavioral traits with your original biological group than with your californian multi-ethnic friends.

    ”East Asians scoring roughly 103 on IQ tests, Whites scoring 100, and Blacks scoring 85.”

    I already debated this claim, of course it’s not wrong but seems superficial.

    the ”best” of east asians [chineses, koreans, japaneses] versus ALL whites [italians, portugueses, romanians, ‘russians’, swedes, english]. Seems a apple x orange comparison.

    My opinion is that this differences between east asians and [all] whites will be less than hbd claim and again, the usual trope: qualitative differences between them seems quite significative. In the end, even with this, i hope, non-purposeful manipulation, 3 points of differences seems little.

    Starting from the avg IQ 104 among japaneses, i doubt the total avg IQ of chineses will be higher than that. Many problems there, for example, ”white americans” are not just anglo-saxon and/or teutonic, or ”euro-americans” but everyone who identify as white and MENA groups. I also don’t know if jewish-americans as ”white” increase in some degree the avg ”intelligence” of this group, i doubt it have bigger impact.

    ”Another argument that is often forwarded is that intelligence tests are culturally biased”

    Where culture come from* 😉

    Culture co-evolution

    Whites and east asians has been selected to this technocratic environment. Blacks, amerindians and other groups, not, period.

    Yes, ”intelligence” or cognition tests are evo-culturally biased but not in the way leftists and jews usually claim.

  16. Bill Haywood says

    Ultimately, the racial inheritance position must claim that there are different distributions of particular genes by race. However, the specific genes have not been identified, which is a fatal hole in the evidence.

    It is uncontroversial that environment is important to cognition. It is often inferred that there is also an inherited racial component, but there is a great difficulty in distinguishing it from environment. Discouragement of learning and achievement can be quite subtle. If I remember correctly, African American females are more academically successful than males, and that is presumably environmental. There are more black pitchers and quarterbacks now than 50 years ago. Is that because they evolved, or coaches got better at recognizing leadership and skill and encouraged them?

    New understandings of the dynamics of environment may well explain more and more of the racial disparities. IQ of all races in the US has been improving and the future may (or may not) bring an evening out. The environmental factors are far too muddy to start claiming X% of intelligence can only be due to race. Students who participate in discussions will learn and retain more, and race will affect their willingness to talk. Anyone care to try and isolate that factor from genetic inheritance?

    If you cannot rule out environmental factors, then you cannot make a strong claim for genetic racial differences in intelligence. The only authoritative way of separating inheritance from environment is to identify the alleles involved and measure their distribution. Everything else is guesswork. Why are people getting so far ahead of the evidence?

    • Bo Winegard says

      I don’t think most people are getting ahead of the evidence. There are many reasons to suspect that there is a genetic component to racial differences in IQ. But HM were quite reasonable, and merely suggested that some (an unspecified amount) of the differences were caused by genetics. This is exactly how science advances: by forwarding reasonable hypotheses.

  17. M Farrell says

    I was sent this article by someone who felt you were not racist gentlemen of letters, but rather academics who “really just think the mob has been unjust to one of their peers”.

    I invite you to carefully examine your assertion that “[w]hatever the truth about the cause of racial differences in intelligence, it is not irresponsible to forward reasonable, cautiously worded, and testable hypotheses.”

    There ARE in fact, very significant social costs to the postulate “career success, winning material success, winning stable marriages and a two car garage and all other american status markers are correlated with Intelligence > Intelligence is a genetics-driven thing as opposed to something that is expressed by good schooling > Genetics-driven traits, including Intelligence, are present to a greater or lesser extent in skin tone among Americans, and other explanations besides genetics are insufficient”.

    That argument implies that Americans should rationally expect White Americans to perform better in mathematics, english, etc more often than Hispanic, then Black Americans > expect White Americans to be incarcerated less, be healthier, acquire and display more american status markers etc than Hispanic, then Black Americans > even if all systemic unfairness critiques of existing socio-economic model were addressed, inequality would persist, owing to the innate Intelligence of Whites > inequality in outcomes is the natural state.

    This is not problematic because (as one commented) it conflicts with the received American mythos, it is problematic because it re-inforces pernicious racial stereotypes and entrenches societal injustice.

    Understanding that Mr. Murray et al may weaken the strength of the logical associations here as much as he wants to reflect his lack of certainty, I don’t think his book makes a different case for how to interpret his chapters.


    The fact that a lot of actual unsavoury nasty anti-intellectual skinheads are happy to take up your hypothesis before its widespread academic proving might also lead you to wonder if there aren’t more promising avenues of scientific exploration.

    • Bo Winegard says

      Do you have empirical evidence that the book reinforced “pernicious racial stereotypes.” Do you think that reasonable people can read it, learn about statistical distributions, and then judge people as individuals, rather than representations of some category or another? Do you think it is useful to ignore reality because reality might contradict certain social justice goals?

      HM made the point that people actually come up with more hateful and less nuanced theories of race differences if responsible experts (researchers) don’t honestly and judiciously talk about them. I agree. However, i am certainly open to the data. See, also, our section at the end of this paper about ethical concerns:

    • I respectfully disagree.

      First, if we treat individuals as individuals instead of as averages of social categories, there is no reason to worry about empirical research on race/sex/religion/ etc.

      Second, most “unsavoury nasty anti-intellectual skinheads” have no idea what the science of psychometrics has to say about intelligence. They glom unto any argument they think supports their distorted and malign view of the world. Do you really think that there would be fewer such individuals if academics stopped conducting research on the important of intelligence in everyday life? It is an empirical question, but I highly doubt it.

      I don’t see why knowledge “entrenches societal injustice.” In fact, in my reading of history, it is quite the opposite: ignorance entrenches injustice.

    • James says

      “inequality in outcomes is the natural state.” This statement is true. Outcomes do vary. Even if one does not think it is a g thing, hah, it would be hard to imagine or even think it desireable, to have a world in which everyone, as a result of upbringing, personal choices, temperament, etc., achieved the same outcomes. Equality of opportunity, diversity of outcomes.

    • Heaven Smile says

      Your comment is, to put it bluntly, a giant hypocritical mess, and says far more about you then the “evil racist Mr Murray science” that you are afraid of, and yes, that is the right way to put it. You’re afraid of the science.

      It is interesting you would write this:

      “That argument implies that Americans should rationally expect White Americans to perform better in mathematics, english, etc more often than Hispanic, then Black Americans > expect White Americans to be incarcerated less, be healthier, acquire and display more american status markers etc than Hispanic, then Black Americans > even if all systemic unfairness critiques of existing socio-economic model were addressed, inequality would persist, owing to the innate Intelligence of Whites > inequality in outcomes is the natural state.”

      The fact that you wrote that sounds like you really believe what you wrote. I mean, do you think that’s NOT what’s happening? Do you expect me to believe that line of logic is wrong when you deep down believe it? You’re right, and that’s because its all true. Whites HAVE performed better then Mestizos and Blacks on mathematics and English for the past 100 years. They WILL perform better then Mestizos and Blacks, and this DOES lead to racial gaps and inequality since whites will then be more likely to achieve high income high salary jobs. What I said isn’t even controversial, there is tons of studies, coming even from leftists, that show these same trends, that the SAT racial gaps has not disappeared, that numerous social programs that have attempted to address inequalities have failed, and that socioeconomic factors hardly explains most of the gaps. Racial gaps are mostly down to genetics, and are the main reason they persists. It’s been 50 years, and there has been zero progress. There will be zero progress. Yet, you don’t think scientific exploration that can solve these problems is somehow not “promising”. Okay, keep closing your ears. It’s not like the world will change, we already live in a world were whites perform better in math and English then blacks, and you’re just seeing the results in front of you.

      In regards to those “nasty anti-intellectual skinheads”, well, they can’t be that anti-intellectual since they’re telling the truth. Their numbers will no doubt swell as people will become attracted to them as being the few sources of truth. We live in a world were leftist are aware of racial gaps, but they have decided to assign blame on whites, and western civilization as being the problem, antagonizing whole swaths of people and, increasing racial tension to the point of violence. Apparently, this world is better then acknowledging some scientific facts.

    • asdf says

      Yes, black people stand to lose social status and hard goodies (affirmative action, etc) if everyone realizes they have lower IQ.

      Yes, that even applies to high IQ black people. It’s really simple to understand how someone telling you “at least your part of the 10% of good ones” is status lowering. And besides, even people of the same IQ have very different behavioral and cultural patterns.

      No, its not really possible to judge people as individuals. People form social groups and compete politically, socially, and economically. Race is one of many Schelling points that people form teams around and compete. Learning that race is substantive and logical Schelling point only reinforces this.

      While there is nobility in seeing people as individuals, its autistic to not understand their groupish nature. None of us is a atomistic blank slate or just a consumer with an IQ score.

      LKY did a much better job of balancing individualism, multiculturalism, and HBD realism. Both within and between the races in Singapore. However, his solutions were not libertarian.

      Murray’s libertarianism blinds him to this. Meanwhile, his opponents do understand it, which is why they play to win. They’ve been beating Murray since 1994, and the more non-white America gets the further outside of the overton window Murray will get. His libertarian ideals will also get trampled by groups that don’t give a fig for libertarianism.

      Mostly though, I think his opponents understand one thing that’s key. So long as people are scared of being “racist”, those that determine what racism is have an incredible amount of power. They are never giving up the ability to make “racist” mean whatever they want it to mean. The only way to win is to decide, “you know what, I’m a racist, I guess that’s how this is going to go down.”

  18. Bill Haywood says

    You say that as if there’s no social context to the science, that it’s purely knowledge for its on sake. Yet both the authors and commentators on this page are clearly committed to right wing politics. Theoretically, a racial difference in intelligence should barely be of interest, no more than a geographic distribution of earlobe sizes. A statistical variation of intelligence by race would have no bearing on policy if people are taken as they come, as individuals. Yet there is this obsession with finding a racial component to intelligence even though it should make no difference in anything even if it were there. It’s not just the forwarding of “reasonable hypotheses.” The subjects you choose to research are political, and the results are immediately used in the culture wars, this page included. So no, this isn’t just “how science advances” and no one should accept on faith that there “are many reasons” to expect the genetic component in intelligence. You do speak reservedly, that genetics are only “suspect,” but can’t prove anything. We are probably 50, 100 years from nailing down the genes you “suspect,” so why is race intelligence your thing now?

    • Bo Winegard says

      Actually, I am a moderate who voted for Barack Obama twice and Hillary Clinton once. Not exactly a raging right winger!

  19. Bill Haywood says

    That’s very white of you Mr. Winegard.

    • Bo Winegard says

      I don’t have the foggiest of what that means, but it seems rather crude. Let’s have a constructive conversation without resorting to repugnant ad hominem attacks.

      • Bill Haywood says

        You must be young, and though you don’t know the phrase, you still know it’s repugnant.

        Yes, a real conversation would be nice. My arguments were that the racial distribution of intelligence cannot remotely be confirmed, and that even if you identify the alleles it’s of limited value. And most importantly, an ivory tower interest in pure science cannot actually be separated from how your guesswork will be used politically. I mean really, you think of B&H as pure scientists because they know how to phrase things as reasonable hypothesis, when their political advocacy is there for all to see.

        • Bill Haywood says

          And your response to these challenges was that you voted black.

          • Bo Winegard says

            You said that I was a right winger. I noted that I voted for Democrats in the last three elections. Pretty simple point. I probably don’t see race as much as you do, because I am really not that obsessed with it. I have no idea what “how white of you” means. But I am always game for respectful conversation.

            “Racial distribution of intelligence cannot be remotely confirmed.” Did you read the article? That isn’t even a matter of controversy among scientists. Read the quotes from three textbooks on intelligence.

            “…guesswork will be used politically.” It’s not guesswork. Again, read the article. And you are quite correct: we cannot know how this will be used politically. But I would rather know the truth. Remember that plenty of people have died in the name of blank slate ideologies (communism). We should be humble and judicious. I think I have been. I know H and M were. I also don’t think it noble to hide the truth from the world for political purposes. Please read the ethical concerns section in this article:

  20. Bill Haywood says

    “Racial distribution of intelligence cannot be remotely confirmed.” Meaning the DNA basis of racial differences in intelligence cannot remotely be confirmed. The subject at hand, don’t get pedantic.

    You are buying stock in genetic traits that you can’t even say which chromosomes they might appear on, much less find a distribution by race. That’s the main point, the thing you keep ignoring. It is all conjecture.

    “you are quite correct: we cannot know how this will be used politically.” No, it is very clear how it is used politically. HM used it for a screed against welfare, immigration, and unmarried pregnancy. A guy further up the page was using it to back Madison Grant’s Nordic thesis. The worry that some day the gene pool might become watered down was the identical fright driving eugenics. But you think H&M were judicious even though they openly share the purity phobia of Victorian race science. And when I say phobia, I don’t mean that as hyperbole. HM are/were fearful.

    “I also don’t think it noble to hide the truth” You haven’t found any truth. You have a mass of statistics with no idea what genes may or may not explain them. The statistics leave open the possibility of a genetic component to racial differences, but you don’t even have a prima facie case, much less proof, because a genetic theory needs genes. Without them, you cannot ever remove all the doubt introduced by the messy environment.

    I will say your motivations seem different from the Madison Grant crew. I’m guessing you get off on the idea of bravely addressing the true science while everyone else goes postal. But you still don’t have an intelligence gene to measure.

    • Bo Winegard says

      I wasn’t getting pedantic. Why does it matter if we get the genes? Could we say nothing about groups before the genomic era? Could we say nothing about differences between men and women before we understood the underlying genetic causes? It isn’t conjecture. We have AIMs. Tang et al. found that self-reported ethnicity corresponded nearly 100% to DNA data. The notion that race is a social construct is no longer viable.

      “…a screed against welfare…et cetera.” Do you think it possible that Murray truly believes that welfare creates perverse incentives? I do. Murray, btw, is in favor of a universal basic income. But in TBC, H and M also forward liberal proposals (they say something such as, “here is how a liberal might handle these).

      Haven’t found truth? Researchers have discovered many different genes related to racial differences, including those related to lactose tolerance, skin color, altitude adaptations, et cetera. But, again, I think the gene thing is a red herring. Go back to the male/female example. For a long, long time, humans were ignorant about the underlying genetic causes. Imagine if someone said, “you can’t even speculate about sex differences, because you don’t have genetic differences.” Would you bother to chuckle?

      You know nothing about my motivations. I get off on pursuing the truth. I don’t care where it leads. And I don’t need to measure an “intelligence gene.” Scientists will slowly find the alleles associated with intelligence. In the meantime, we can use the best evidence available to make reasonable hypotheses. (Also, they have found genetic variants associated with intelligence. But your argument seems to be: You can’t talk about height differences between Europeans and Pygmies because you don’t have a height gene to measure. Clearly a bad argument, as can be seen if you apply it to a less emotionally charged topic than intelligence.)

    • Intersectional Playboy says

      Bill, since you’re making this political, here’s a query: Do you – or would you – raise the same worrisome objections to the quite established, mainstream view, and in particular the academic work, that purports that any (or at least most) differences in outcomes between demographic groups (and especially the usual suspects – i.e., blacks) is ipso fact tantamount to differences in social treatment (i.e., caused by discrimination, bigotry, a white supremacist society)? Because that’s all used politically, too, in numerous ways. And belief in the nefarious treatment of minorities is treated explicitly or implicitly as an axiomatic assumption in making these political arguments, and not even as an assumption that is debateable (even though it very much is).

      PS I distinctly recall Herrnstein and Murray writing (in The Bell Curve) that all of their scientific arguments could in principle be embraced by a reader and yet still remain entirely compatible with a heavily redistributionist political philosophy and its associated sorts of policies. You sound at least a bit uncharitable to them when you describe their work as a “screed against welfare, immigration, and unmarried pregnancy”.

  21. DJA says

    A very good article.
    One general comment; it is interesting to note how many comments seem to still be looking,indirectly, for a ‘social’ excuse for not persuing the science.
    And a comment on the science; my subjective reasons for supporting the hypothesis are that because there has been shown to be a relationship ( sometimes large sometimes small) between genotype and phenotype for virtually all traits that have been investigated in any organism it would be very surprising if some human characteristics were exceptions. But I do very much question the validity of the science:-
    With a few minor exceptions of possibly some remote tribes, human beings are not separate races we are all ‘mongrels’ each sitting somewhere on a great big ‘bell curve’ of heterozygosity. So you may be able to measure the difference between subject A and subject B but you can’t say you are measuring the difference between race A and race B.
    Secondly you have to be first sure that what you think you are measuring is measurable; IQ is just a test to produce a peer to peer ‘quotient’ not something absolute.

  22. Bill Haywood says

    The genetic examples you give are far simpler to measure. We can find a Tibetan who was raised in the lowlands and test for oxygen efficiency and trust we have eliminated the environmental factor. We can measure the height of a Pygmy who grew up in London. You have chosen the hardest of all human traits to separate from the environment, the ones most fraught with ideological pressure, and then say “why does it matter.” It matters because you can’t confidently eliminate the environmental factors in intelligence, FFS.

    You have a whole bunch of examples of clear genetic differences by region — except the ones that count. Why not provide the gene for short term memory capacity? Instead of lactose tolerance, why didn’t you bring up the gene for attention span? Because intelligence isn’t lactose digestion and none of that data exists.

    So race isn’t a construct. Yet under US miscegenation laws, some states defined Negro as having 1/8th African blood, others as 1/16. So you could literally change your race by stepping across a state line. It is missing the point to say there really are genes for skin, nostrils, hair, etc. that vary by region. The race construction argument is about social perception and categorizing. We can create a “race” defined by red hair and assign all the negative traits and it would be just as consistent as South African Coloreds. In fact, the Irish WERE explicitly considered a separate, inferior race well into the 20th Century. But race isn’t a construct. I’m guessing you are about 28 and have not been exposed to the history of race in the Victorian age, you are just familiar with Murray getting run off a campus.

    • Bo Winegard says

      Intelligence is a polygenic trait, likely affected by hundreds of genes (maybe more). It is very, very difficult to discover those genes.

      About the last paragraph: I agree. Social decisions, narratives, et cetera, affect how we delineate racial categories. The same is true for age. In some cultures, 63 is old; in others, 70. But age exists. And it is not a social construct.

      We said all of the above in the article that I linked for you. Please read it. And then you can agree/disagree as you will.

      • James says

        Great article and very helpful. An earlier comment leads me to a question and I’d like your help sussing it out. Could it be the case that 300 years of slavery, in a sense, reduced the otherwise equal cognitive abilities in African Americans?

        • Heaven Smile says

          No. Given that American Blacks score higher (85) then the average IQ scores of Africans living in Africa (70), it is really hard to say that there is reduced cognitive abilities in American Blacks.

  23. Bill Haywood says

    I read the article and it is fascinating, nuanced, and sensitive. I agree that empirically speaking, it is trivial to suggest that mental traits might vary subtly by population. “Tuning” of the brain to different niches, as you say, captures the right tone. I also agree that appreciation of human variation might possibly be a basis for tolerance rather than aggression. And I apologize for the hackneyed pattern of preceding an attack with compliments, yadda, yadda.

    It is noble to try and use science to encourage comity, and I presume that is part of why you are on popular media. But once you start that project, you of course have entered into political activism, which is good not bad. But for your coming out ball, you have chosen to align yourself with Charles Murray. Does not Murray lament that one of the problems of immigrants is that they are less intelligent? Welfare babies are objectionable not just because it’s a bad, draining lifestyle, but it decreases collective intelligence? So effing what. No one should give a crap if the collective mind tunes slightly differently over the next 5,000 years. Murray’s instincts are right out of the genetic hygiene movement, and it’s those types who instantly get energized whenever he’s in the news. He’s learned to phrase the science to satisfy other scientists, but his political program is openly malign and he links the science directly to it. The American Enterprise Institute promotes an especially predatory, even Darwinian form of capitalism. Defending this guy is how you are going to start removing the social fetters to evolutionary inquiry? Not everybody is going to go read the scientific article after first grimacing at the Quillette piece. It is absolutely impolitic.

    • Bo Winegard says

      Well, thank you for reading the article, and thank you for the compliments. I am sure that you and I could sit down and have a great conversation.

      I don’t agree completely with your comments about Murray, but I doubt we’ll ever solve this in a comments section. I am all about open discussion and cautious but candid exploration. I am certain you are as well. At any rate, I appreciate the conversation, and I appreciate that you took the time to read the article and think about it. I will continue to think about these issues as well, and I hope to always keep an open mind, so call me out if I become sclerotic!

    • Santoculto says

      ”The science is not on your side.”

      What is the side of science*

  24. Szymon Majewski says

    I don’t disagree with the factual part of IQ science, but I have to ask: realistically, what good can the study of intelligence differences between races accomplish? I understand that studying biological, including neurological differences between sexes and races can have important medical implications. But intelligence? It seems like this research really has possible consequence of making people treat black people unfairly – so what’s the benefit it brings, that would make it worth pursuing despite that? It’s a genuine question, I simply don’t see it.

    • Santoculto says

      How you treat white people who are on avg and cognitively speaking less intelligent than you*

      People deserve be treated based on how they behaving but specially their character levels.

      There are overrepresentation of low functioning sociopaths among blacks BUT majority of blacks are not like that and specially women. Indeed, what is underlying with the disproportionate if not characteristic black behavior IS the hyper-masculinity or genuine toxic masculinity. In other words, what make blacks, on avg, so complicated is not their dark skin, necessarily, but their above avg masculinity [not all facets of masculinity, but specially the bad ones].

      The psychological challenges/deficits of masculine psyche is over-developed among black, specially in black men, but also among black women. We can to say that blacks are, on avg, psychologically hyper-masculine as autistics, seems, are on avg, cognitively hyper-masculine.

      The first have a feminized cognition with hyper-masculinized psychology, the second have the opposite pattern.

    • Ted Stillman says

      I think this speaks to the nature of university learning. I admit, you are correct, there are some true racial supremacists who would utilize this evidence – probably leaving out the parts about Asians, incidentally – for negative purposes.

      But I would claim this, as a response:
      – I think a university, fundamentally, is about the search for truth in understanding our world. Raw sociological data (i.e. IQ scores) and genetic experiments both seem really relevant for obtaining truth on the issue of human intelligence and our background. I would say on a philosophical level I am okay with researching this for its own value, it doesn’t need practical applications. It’s simply truth, and therefore must be dealt with. The university has academic freedom precisely because of the controversial questions inquiry can bring up.
      – Murray mentions quite a number of real life implications of why this research would matter. If we’re working on a program for equal racial representation in STEM, and there’s a connection between IQ and ability to succeed in such a field (I have no idea if this is true but seems logical), then not exploring this avenue will get you incomplete results, and if the topic is taboo, you won’t be able to explore whether this is a factor.
      – On the concept of spreading racism, it’s true that work like this can be utilized in that manner. But it seems odd to identify the impulse as being akin to “read Charles Murray’s work, became inclined to treat blacks unfairly”. I’m more of a moral foundations guy, and I think the broad impulse to keep a community homogeneous in racial factors is the starting point, then you just latch onto whichever evidence you like…
      – …and if the logic above is true, the value of anti-racism needs to be argued on its own merits and as an idea in order to survive. Getting back to truth, if the cause to treat all races equally falls apart if there is shown to be some gene-based differences in average IQ scores – which, again, may (possibly) be TRUE – then we’re putting one of the cornerstones of society on the backs of pseudo-science. This seems like a bad idea, particularly in the age of the internet where people can look this stuff up anyway. Put another way, IQ data should not be able to bring down the anti-racism project anyway.

      I’m open to counter-counterpoints.

      • asdf says

        What is the “anti-racism” project? What would bringing it down look like?

        Murray’s work points out that Affirmative Action, Immigration, Education, and Economic policy should all be changed from today. In addition he expresses a desire for changes in many cultural attitudes outside public policy. He even mentions some ideas of how in The Bell Curve. I myself can think of a number of public policies and social attitudes that should be altered based on his research.

        Murray wanted to have it both ways in his book. He wanted to imply that all of this implies nothing outside the facts themselves, but its obvious to any reader that it implies an awful lot. If taken seriously it would mean large changes in our society. Those changes would have lots of winners and losers.

        Those that would lose if The Bell Curve were taken seriously have launched an effective counter attack against it, and they get stronger every day. Murray still doesn’t know how to fight and win the war against them. Over twenty years later publishing The Bell Curve didn’t change the debate. Nor have any of this follow up books.

        Personally, I think this is a failing in Murray’s ideology. He’ll take IQ statistics seriously, but not other research into the nature of man that would make his ideological foundations uncomfortable. He’s always trying to cram it back into his libertarian box. SJWs hacked libertarianism, but Murray can’t adapt. Those that don’t adapt die.

      • Szymon Majewski says

        Interestingly, when I see people with racist attitudes on the internet they often mention that Asians score higher than whites – I often feel then that it’s a kind of “See, I’m not super biased towards my own race” kind of rhetoric trick. The more curious case I think is that they don’t mention Ashkenazi Jews, and often vilify them. I wonder why that is, maybe they don’t feel threatened by 3 point difference, but do feel threatened by almost a standard deviation difference? Maybe some social scientist will take some interest in that question 😛

        When it comes to the intrinsic value of truth, in the sense that it is always better to have more true statements about the world … I always used to think that, but now have some doubts about it. Not in the sense that it might be better to be deluded, but that maybe there exist questions that might bring more harm than good when investigated? And maybe we should perform this potential cost/benefit calculation before investigating them? As I say, I’m getting somewhat conflicted on that point, and probably have to think about it more.

        I really like the last paragraph of your answer, especially “the value of anti-racism needs to be argued on it’s own merits”. This is indeed probably the only workable long term solution.

        • Joe says

          I point out to my Asian wife that I am part Ashkenazi Jew.

          Must be why our first grader son does 4th grade math.

    • Joe says

      If you pretend there isn’t a difference, then all the government and social meddling trying to make outcomes converge is futile and a tremendous waste of resources.

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  26. geefactor says

    Argues that the book isn’t psuedoscience; supports it with a first claim that is nothing BUT psuedoscience.

    I guess I’ve just got the “g factor” to see through your BS factor.

  27. Why should it be necessary for someone who believed shouting down a visiting speaker is sometimes justified to be fully informed? The shouters knew, correctly, without having read Herrnstein and Murray, that the authors noted psychometric inequalities by race [and ethnicity and sex and religion]. For the author of this article to suggest that the shouters needed to know any additional detail, which could be acquired by reading “The Bell Curve”, would be to suggest that anything in “The Bell Curve” would document or corroborate or draw reasoned conclusions from psychometric inequalities by race [and ethnicity and sex and religion]. So what? The shouters need not know any of that. The shouters will silence the reports of the psychometric inequalities, and no further information was necessary.

  28. Santoculto says

    This book is a collection of other works so when you call it fake you are automatically calling all this works as well. -.-

  29. keith says

    This topic always stirs folks up, it has all my life, since before Charles Murray, going back to Jensen, and even Crick. If there is a genetic component to g factor (pointed towards by the anomalies of Ashkenazic Jews, certain Asians, etc.), it is PROBABLY not as simplistic a correlation as discussed by both sides in this comments board. It seems likely (to me at least) that bugs in the tests, and in the test taking process, muddy the results, and therefore conclusions, to a substantial degree. My own gut feeling is that there are more cultural forces involved than the “righties” admit, and that we will have to wait for more and better data to elucidate. I did read the Bell Curve back in the day, and had many disagreements then with the methodologies, and the conclusions. It seems to me that Charles Murray has softened his viewpoint since on many subjects, and is so far from the Ann Coulter school of right wing incitement for the hell of it that it is hard to understand the enmity with which he is regarded by some groups. But it is amusing (and regrettable) how divisive this topic is, while not really offering any meaningful tools or information to improve the functioning of our society.

    • gda says

      “But it is amusing (and regrettable) how divisive this topic is, while not really offering any meaningful tools or information to improve the functioning of our society.”

      How reminiscent of the Monty Python classic “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

      In this case, lets start with the past 50 years of wasted effort (and $trillions) on wrong-headed policies in the areas of Affirmative Action, Immigration, Education, and Economic policy. Imagine if we had tackled these areas unrestrained from acknowledging the truth.

      I would call that “meaningful”.

  30. Joe says

    Years ago, I dated a Kenyan girl who grew up and graduated secondary school in Kenya, graduated college in London. I am Caucasian. We were discussing her observations of blacks in America and comparisons to Africans.

    She said some things I had never considered. She said that “blacks in America are stupid, as stupid as West Africans.” “Their ancestors were stupid enough to be captured into slavery.” I had never noticed a difference between east and west Africans before she said something, but once she did, it became clear that the difference in intelligence between different African regions is as great as between American blacks and whites. American blacks, other than recent immigrants, are all descended from west Africans.

    What is most interesting is that Barack Obama’s supposed father is Kenyan, an east African. I dated that girl in the mid 90s, but Obama’s rise to the presidency is consistent with her view.

  31. Joe says

    You skip from “more likely than” to “probably”. That is not logical.

    If there is a racial correlation with football playing skills, then why is it so hard to believe there is a racial correlation with intelligence?

    Fifteen thousand years ago, if you were Caucasian, you either planned for the winter or you died. If you were African, then you needed plan for more than the afternoon. If only those who could plan survived to produce offspring, then it is more likely that those offspring had the ability to plan. Do this for thousands of years and you can breed intelligence.

    Even today, we are breeding intelligence at a faster rate than ever before. As smart people marry only other smart people, they are far more likely to have smart kids than dumb people who breed with only dumb people.

    Homo sapiens does not escape basic genetics.

  32. Santoculto says

    I believe you can increase intelligence of certain group without increase their size or quantitative value, via qualitative and personality traits.

    You can have a population with avg iq around 84 and a qualitative diversity, to learn and to behave, and you can remain this avg intelligence but increasing the quality of their minds via directional selective pressures.

    Because adaptation and evolution have happened in not direct way we have internalized that there is only way to increase intelligence= increasing IQ. I can be wrong absolutely.

  33. Fulla FellOffaSofa says

    I am not saying they should not be able to advance their ideas. However, what you are saying is a “reasonable” hypothesis is the very definition of racism. That doesn’t make it incorrect, but you are saying racism is plausible and reasonable. You must admit this. You can quibble about there being a great overlap between the races, but taken as a whole you are positing that one group is superior to the other owing to their superior genetics.

    It is a wonder why any of you are surprised that there has been a backlash. You all sound so shocked as if it’s the most atrocious thing you’ve ever seen. I wonder if anyone has considered that maybe a history of slavery, jim crow, mass incarceration and itchy police trigger fingers makes people a wee bit sensitive to racism. Maybe they consider that daily reality more shocking than the notion of academic freedom in an esoteric scientific debate being dampened by unfair public outrage. Of course what we find most outrageous often depends on our perspective does it not?

    For me I put all of this under a big umbrella of THEY DON’T KNOW and what people choose to believe probably says more about their personal priorities and biases than it does of any “evidence”. Take this article for instance. The “strongest evidence” for heritability is “no good alternative explanations”. Then the article lists alternative explanations but concludes they are not “compelling”. But why? Science isn’t a matter of opinion. If heritability was proved then it would tend to a consensus and/or you wouldn’t be advancing it merely as “plausible”. So to argue one theory is not “compelling” seems simply a personal preference and you then wonder if the author in some other context likes to talk about “liberal lefties” and “social justice warriors”. The “reasonable” and “plausible” hypothesis is of course the one that confirms our preexisting biases. The other hypotheses which don’t? Well they just aren’t very “compelling”.

    This also comes back to why there is this need to make this scientific inquiry in terms of this largely sociological construction of “race”. Why not frame the matter in terms of specific gene frequency? Scientifically this seems to make more sense. The way this narrative is constructed in terms of “race” seem tailored to advance a POLITICAL narrative, not a scientific one. It’s fuel for your average racist to say “See that’s why we need to put so many blacks in jail”.

    Consider a different scientific inquiry. In the late 90s there was a paper published (can’t remember the name) which suggested many victims of child sexual exploitation experienced no lasting harm. The study was then condemned by Congress, not on any specific scientific grounds but simply because the results were not liked. Now I don’t know if the paper had any merit, that’s irrelevant to my point. The fact is, regardless of whether or not it’s true you can bet your bottom dollar that many pedos will cite it in order to justify their predatory interest, and even if the study’s conclusions are valid it doesn’t make child abuse and exploitation less objectionable nor detract from the fact that the only reason a pedo cites that study is because they are a pedo.

    So by all means science should be guided by a quest for truth, but make no mistake about how we as individuals search out “truth” in a way that serves our preexisting biases and interests and thus simply citing your interest in “the truth” is not going to solve the social divisions that are likely to erupt on contentious issues. Instead of lamenting the outrage, try to understand its origins.

    • Santoculto says

      Racism/ evilness whatever the type, is you leave people die because your ”feelings”.

      It’s not pathological altruism, it’s a narcisistic ”altruism’.

      Why most ”good-hearted people” don’t pay the same attention to the animal cause*

      • Santoculto says

        Narcisistic altruism, despite truly good intentions, mean ”i’m more concerned about what people think about my moral thoughts THAN what is true and possibly useful to reduce unecessary suffering”.

        That’s all folks!!

        When your fear to be ”accused” to ”blasfemy” is stronger than your willing to follow the path of the truth, where concrete solutions are made, so you’re being more selfish than altruistic. Something deplorable about you…

        In this case we have the blurring between the borders of yourself and the [specific] truth, because you’re projecting yourself instead really thinking about it.

        You don’t want a better place or you don’t know how to achieve it, at least theorically speaking. But you’re too unwise to perceive it.

        Indeed, what hbbabies call ”other virtue signaling” , INTELLECTUAL HUMILITY, is what lacks more among leftists…

        and among them..


    • asdf says

      “See that’s why we need to put so many blacks in jail”

      Murray proved that criminality is related to low IQ. Blacks have lower IQ so it makes sense they would make up a disproportionate share of the prison population.

      If the only evidence you can provide to support the assertion that this indicates racism is the disproportionate nature of the statistics, then that is thin ground on which to support any change in policy. If you say “we have to release black criminals from jail until the statistics even out” then that in unfair to both past and future victims of those criminals.

      If you use “disparate impact” to accuse and punish law enforcement officers or institutions, then you are punishing people based on non-evidence that is explained by genes. This is unfair to the people accused of crimes, wrongdoing, and bias that doesn’t actually exist. It is also unfair to the people who become victims of crime because law enforcement officers were deterred from protecting them.

      So yes, genes should be a data point in deciding whether incarceration rates are disproportionate or not. It’s the only fair and reasonable thing. To disagree means you want the world to be worse for your own benefit.

      • John says

        “Murray proved that criminality is related to low IQ.”

        Murray, who understands neither genetics nor his own arguments, has proven no such thing.

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  35. Bruce Kuznicki says

    Lets say the science is accurate and that it makes the precise case right wing people want it to– that it blacks are an inferior race. In view of the history of this country and the entirely predictable response to the book Keating got, I have to wonder what the point of the research was, and if the research did, in fact, reveal what the author says it did, then what was the point of publishing it.

    Was Keating some friend of the black man who sought after services and a grand social effort to do all that was possible to remedy the situation? Or was he merely gleeful to have discovered something that would inflate the already privileged collective ego of the tea party and Trump worshiping types on the right who, bitter themselves for being generally less intelligent and educated, and more importantly, less mannerly and socially astute than their liberal counterparts, had held anti black racism as their birthright for ten or more generations so that it could say to itself, “I can respect myself so long as I am better than somebody..”

    Meh. It got away with that for 400 years, yes. But now that we have forced society Togo from the debased state it was at the signing of the constitution, the stupid right wing has begun to learn thlonger no longer push blacks around, Cuz blacks can push back harder, and it can also no longer feel superior, Cuz we don’t want them around like that. So Meth, unemployment, alcohol related illness and suicide are its destiny .

    • Intersectional Playboy says

      Very nice slandering of Republicans. When are you doing the one for Democrats?

    • Maybe the right wing people want to know the truth, so we do the best policy based on scientific truth, not on leftist dreams that have long been proven wrong and are thus abject failures.

      Like Black Lives Matter leading to increased black murder rates, democracy for Northern Africa leads to non stop civil war and Jihad, affirmative action leads to wasted money, frustrated Blacks in University where they are outclassed, …..

      It does not help to WISH that Blacks have the same mental capacity and same low crime rates as Whites. It has never happened so far. Neither in Haiti, nor Detroit, nor Liberia, nor South Africa, Zimbabwe, ……

  36. neo malthus says

    What if the liberal elites have all read The Bell Curve and know it to be true? Yet their job is to manufacture equality where equality doesn’t exist and cannot be manufactured because intelligence is strongly heritable.

    Now that’s job security!

  37. “Facts count, even if we hate them” – Ambassador William Dodd (or perhaps now we just snuff out hated facts)

  38. IQ tests measure something, namely whatever it is that IQ tests measure. There are strong reasons to think that is not “general cognitive ability.” The authors should continue to deepen their studies until they understand this.

    • Santoculto says

      IQ is the best mental game ever… by now

      – Still a mental game

      So, it measure ”something” more than itself, NONE measurement instrument measure itself, this doesn’t exist…

      Intelligence must be understood as a structure, a system, just like human body/organism [also have its factor g]

      indeed nervous system IS a structure, of course, and must be understood like that.

      there is a factor g ( pattern recognition)…

      in every human and non-human action, there is a pattern recognition, even when we have delicious apophenias [ unpattern, period ;]

      IQ usually measure how reactively or responsively well and to the convergent stuff minds are…

      It’s a TEST

      life is not a test.

      It’s a prediction.

      The first psychometricians already said ”intelligence is only its cognitive side”… we know it’s not true, i hope.

      The best way to think about IQ

      good points

      – measure cognitive side,

      – measure the ”size” of this cognitive side, not perfectly but quite well,

      – predict potential,

      – measure well at collective levels AND ndividual levels

      – seems quite good to the convergent departments.

      bad points

      – by now don’t predict creative achievement [extremely important because everything we have is based on creativity, humankind was shaped by your creativity]

      – it’s not rationality nor measure it [extremely important, IQ simply don’t predict well the capacity to be a good to excellent thinker, and good-quality thinking predict good-quality actions]

      [- and rationality is not logic. Logic is just like supress ”affective empathy” to understand the social, material and phenomenological world. Near to the psychopath style. Rationality don’t need supress affective approach, because emotions evolved to judge our perceptions, for our good or not.]

      – don’t measure character [extremely important, only if you like to live with a person who are compulsively liar and untrustworthy],

      – don’t ”measure” psychological side of our intelligence’s just like psychological resilience,

      – IQ always CORRELATES, rarely IS,

      – it’s a partial expression of our intelligence’s, but it’s not the perfect mirror of it,

      – IQ, seems, has been underused by psychometricians,

      – IQ don’t predict realization, correlates. It’s just like a conscious kick,

      – IQ still is distant from its object = intelligence.

      General cognitive ability is the cognitive mean

  39. One of the more interesting aspects of intelligence versus nurture, is the work of Anders Ericsson. In a study of chess players he found that high intelligence was more often than not a hinderance rather than an asset, in that the supposedly less intelligent players worked harder to master their domain, and were thereby able to consistently win games against their more intelligent opponents.

    In another study quoted by Norman Doidge in his book “The Brain that Changes Itself”, people with significantly severe strokes have recovered and to a degree regained some or all of their lost function. While certainly more study needs to be done, these two examples would seem to point towards environmental and nurturing elements as having a significant influence on whatever level of intelligence a person may acquire.

  40. John says

    How do you decide which racial group people belong to?

    • asdf says

      You could send a sample into and they will give you a decent enough starting point.

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  47. Arnold Hook says

    I read the Strenze meta-analysis paper and I do not see the evidence that supports the conclusions Winegard and Winegard are drawing. Strenze points out evidence to support the claim that many intercorrelated factors affect measures of success. Intelligence simply cannot be separated out as causal without looking at other ways Strenze clearly lays out.. Winegard and Winegard have done a poor and misleading job here.

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