Are Blacks Folks Just Dumber?

LaShawn Barber has a series of posts on IQ and has formed a conclusion that in generally, blacks genetically have a lower IQ than whites. She came to this conclusion based on her readings of The Bell Curve and other research papers. I am not sure what the purpose of her wandering down such a controversial road, but based on her post, I have to assume that it will have something to do with Affirmative Action.

I’ve never put too much in IQ ratings. Outside of ego and curiosity, I’ve never wondered too much about my own IQ. However, the question at hand is a simple one: Is there a correlation between race and intelligence? Based on the research presented in The Bell Curve, there is. Some, like
Julian Paul Keenan, questioned the validity of The Bell Curve on the basis that it defined race on whatever the participants classified themselves and other factors in the research.

I actually read the research papers that LaShawn Barber posted and a lot of it is scientific jargon meant for the scientific community so I’ll just hash through all of that and get to the nitty-gritty.

I am of the mind that IQ is more of an individual construct and whatever differences exist between races is primarily the result of cultural experiences. We readily accept the fact that there are differences in IQ levels among family members and families. But I don’t think anyone would extrapolate that fact to conclude that some families are more intelligent than others.

If I and three of my brothers were all successful and the family next door had two successful sons and two sons rotting in jail, we would assume that the disparity in success between families were the results of family condition and individual choices. Again, we accept the fact that there are different intelligent levels but can we base that off of the race of a person.

Certainly, genetics do play a part in one's ability and probably provides a range of intelligence to an individual. But is that range directly influenced by the race of an individual? I find that highly unlikely.

Another factor in this debate is figuring out what is intelligence?

A definition of intelligence comes from "Mainstream Science on Intelligence", which was signed by 52 intelligence researchers in 1994:

a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—"catching on", "making sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do.

The definition is rather broad, but there is one part of this definition that I believe LaShawn and others over look. And that is the “learn from experience” part of the definition. Different races have vastly different experiences and depending on your social-economic standings, there is bound to be a lack of exposure to numerous things. It is why people living in the lower caste in India test lower than those in the upper caste.

Some cultures have a different reference point than others. So it would seem to me that there are different types of intelligence simply based on an individual’s cultural background.

And what exactly is being tested with an IQ test. Reading comprehension and the ability to think logically are two things that come to mind. Vocabulary skills are another element that an IQ test evaluates. I’m fairly decent with math and I happen to be a good test taker. Jaimie, on the other hand is very good with vocabulary but not very good with math. Now, what if I am better at math than she is with vocabulary, would that make me more intelligent? I don’t think it would. What about those that are very good with mechanical and artistic functions but their reading comprehension is not up to par? Is an alley mechanic who has the ability to disassemble and reassemble an engine without instructions less intelligent than a person who can solve almost any math problem you place in front of them?

From my reading of the research paper, I can conclude that the differences seen in IQ testing of American blacks and whites is probably more to do with cultural differences than with any gene that black people posses. In my opinion, the authors of The Bell Curve had an insidious agenda behind their research and set out to prove that blacks were truly inferior to to prove that blacks were truly inferior to whites. I’ll let LaShawn speak for herself as to her underline agenda. It shouldn't take a genius to figure out what I'm thinking... would it?

Discussion Starters:

1. What factors do you believe contribute to the lower academic achievement of blacks?

2. Do you believe the genetic makeup of black people results in them being less intelligent?

3. Why do you think that it is that we are having a discussion like this in 2006?


48 Responses to Are Blacks Folks Just Dumber?

  1. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    02 06 06

    Good post James. If that is her conclusion, then it is utter bs and I haven't read the rest of her posts, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt for the moment;)
    1. What factors do you believe contribute to the lower academic achievement of blacks?
    See this article. I needn't say more except for four words come to mind: institutional racism AND shuckin' and jivin'.

    2. Do you believe the genetic makeup of black people results in them being less intelligent?
    PULEEEZE! Hell no! The main flaw in her analysis is that she uses biases sources. I read as much of the Bell Curve as I could stomach and I quickly realized that they manipulated statistics to come to stupid conclusions. I left this link on LSB's post to show that IQ testing don't account for a damned thing. In this case, although these Amazonian tribes have no written mathematical formalism, they understand geometry. I will bet that they wouldn't do well on an IQ test though because their frame of reference is so different than ours. I am big on ASSESSMENT tests, but IQ tests are a waste.
    3. Why do you think that it is that we are having a discussion like this in 2006?
    We still have these conversations because America still has problems with race. When the Bell Curve came out, it set us back because those jerks tried to justify their racism with research. I don't believe that IQ tests measure a damned thing, really. And the people who I have met in life who boast of their IQ scores are generally losers who may have some knowledge but are chronically underemployed and have no people skills. WE are an amazing people and are only five or six generations out of slavery. WE have nuclear physicists, doctors, lawyers and other scholars. That sounds like a tenacious and VERY intelligent people to me. I don't understand why LSB has brought this up, and am saddened that some people used her post to justify their own racist attitudes.

    One cannot compare apples to oranges. ALL BLACK AMERICANS started off in the red. After Emancipation, many of us had NOTHING. So how can a level playing field be reached and how long does it take? It takes a while because the majority, where the power is concentrated advances too, while we are trying to catch up! Good post James, I need to stop rambling now:)
  2. jan brauner Says:
    I read one of the commenters On LSB's site adamantly ranting that NOONE mentions the disparity between whites and Asians. Since I hear about this disparity continually, I found it rather amazing that he could contend that this was the case.In addition, I happen to agree that their achievement levels are stunning. It was quite noticeable overseas.

    Question: Do any of you feel that Asians are smarter than whites?

    Why is this discussion going on in the US in 2006?
    In our society, we are demanding equal outcome in achievement, educationally, so this keeps this discussion front and center,politically and in the media, unfortunately. It is worse now than I remember it being when I used to live here.

    The number one place that emphasizes the "disparity" in achievement between races is the education establishment.I have been stunned in the meetings that I attend, in which the educrats (not the teachers) use the disparity gap as a leverage to get money. When society demands equal outcome, then you will have this discussion.It is inevitable.In my county, the two schools which had the worst achievement, received the most money per student. Therefore, to justify receiving more money, it then becomes imperative to trot out "disparity in achievement statistics."
  3. Wadena Says:
    I have some Native American blood and I think that causes me to see the world a bit differently than most people.

    I have NO doubt that each race has some special gifts to offer and has some areas where they are not as skilled.

    To say one race is "dumber" than another would be a gross twisting of that reality, though.

    Knowledge is not wisdom.
  4. The Best [ Ghostface ] Says:
    Chance Said: There is some truth to genetics but Lashawn is not capable of explaining it. Part of the reason she chose to write about genetic intelligence is because she saw my essay on blacks, sexuality and genetics over at And this was part of the resaon about why she was motivated to got write about genetics and intelligence. Also, Lashawn read some of my comments over at bookerrising on genetics. It got to the point where web master got tired of me talking about genetics. intelligence on her own too. Lashawn read all of those comments, I say good for her she is smart in this situation. Also Lashawn had studied genetics herself on her own. And I tried to introduce genetics and intelligence to my fellow blacks but was rejected and hurt emotionally, but Lahsawn was smart and to advantage of the knowledge. GOOD for her and if they all had listened to me 2 months ago when I introduced genetics to my fellow blacks at certain blogsites. When Lashawn wrote her essay on intelligence they would have had the knowledge to defeat Lashawn. But they did not and Lashawn ended up looking very intellectually superior and many people at certain blogsite did not have the intellgent knowledge to defeat Lashawns's essay. It is hard helping certain people some times James (Jay) and I guess some of that is genetically based also. I wanted to help bookerrising understand genetics and intelligence. Because a lot of blacks over there are very interested but that is up to Shay the web master of bookerrisng. I write about genetics so that black people will understand the subject better. (genetic essay I wrote for and (my blog) are the only two blogs that touch and write about genetics. Blacks suffer because they often wait to late and sometimes. they refuse help from others who want to share knowledge. But genetics do play a role in human life and behavior and people who deny that sound inferior themselves. I might write some essays on the difference between the IQ of various racial groups.

    More power to genetics.

    Tkae care, Jay

  5. MEP Says:
    It's completely annoying to me that this conversation needs to be had at all. Ever.

    Of course it's ridiculous and it always has been.

    It's an interesting post - i'll just leave the debating up to those with more patience than myself and those who have had some caffine. :)
  6. James Manning Says:
    Jan, you hit on something. People making public policy decision based on the intelligence of racial groups. There was a time when blacks were forced into vocational studies because the conclusion was that they were not smart enough for college level work. We now know that that thinking has no merit. The question is what do they believe is the cause of the disparity and how is the program set up to deal with it? If you believe it is inherent, then there is no need. If you believe it is cultural, then there is a means of dealing with the disparity.

    As for the disparity between Asians and whites - I don't believe it is 100% genetics. Asians tend to take education very serious resulting in higher achievement. I'm sure there is a genetic component to it, but most of the disparity is based on culture and environment. There is a disparity between Africans and west Indians achievement compared to blacks. All are of African decent, so why the disparity. It could not be genetics since all have simular genetic makeup - we have to conclude that culture is the reason for the disparity. Finally, take a look a latinos. They came in at the bottom of the barrel, but some researchers have suggested that there is no Latino race since many are either of African or Asian decent.
  7. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    I don't know if it's fair to call The Bell Curve racist in the sense that the authors thought that blacks were inferior and tried to scientifically prove it. Hell only two chapters in the book were even about race. The book was about intelligence and its measurability along with the measurable effects of having it as well as its effect on social structure and policy. Charles Murray (the one living author of The Bell Curve) wrote a very interesting follow up essay which addresses a lot of the controversey over the book and it's a very well written and reasoned peice.

    In the end, Murray and Herrnstein were submitting a hypothesis. I think that it's sad that 99% of the responses resorted to non-scientific pooh-poohing instead of a true refutation of the data or their interpretation. Also, people tend to focus on the wrong part of the argument. While the idea that IQ could be genetic and race-based in worthy of consideration, the real issue is whether a lower collective IQ is keeping blacks from making collective progress and if so, what can be done to change it. We can go back and forth all day about what "intelligence" means and what it's really worth, The Bell Curve argues that whatever it is that IQ or "g" measures, there is a high correlation between that and success (generally defined as income). There also happens to be a high correlation between our lack of it and lack of aggregate success. It doesn't take a dyed-in-the-wool racist to see this and it shouldn't take one to ask the obvious question of whether there is a connection.

    Also, Murray will be the first to tell you that the evidence here is still gathering and is far from conclusive, he is just pointing to how he and his partner have interpreted the data that they have. There are holes in their theory to be sure, and I personally have a lot of problems with some of their assumptions about the behavior of intelligent people with respect to career paths and the like. Also, they don't control for things like culture, which I think is very important when analyzing behavior as far as educational and career choices. Still, I don't think that there is anything that is obviously malicious about their study of their findings.

    Also, Chance, I give you props for bringing up the subject on dellgines and your own site, but it was nothing that anyone who reads American Renaissance or (and many of us do) hasn't been aware of for years now. Also, I felt like you were a little one-sided on the issue when there are still many questions left to be answered on it.
  8. James Manning Says:
    Rashid, I read part of the article and there are some interesting facts. One, the author pointed out that blacks have made gains in standarized test over the years but have not made gains in the part of the IQ test that is not subject to cultural influences. This is the gist of the matter. If blacks are making gains, but it is not showing up in IQ numbers, then how much merit should we place in IQ scores? The gains are probably due to a rediction in artificial barriers (racism, descrimination) and an increase in the black middle class.

    And you rightly stated that the focus should be on our lack of aggregate success, which I think is mostly about culture and has nothing to do with the overall intelligence of black people.
  9. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    Read the article to the end James, you'll see that he has ideas about programs like Affirmative Action being a possible cause for those gains as opposed to blaks aquiring a higher level of the "g" variable.

    Also let me rephrase part of my last post, I meant that IQ seems to be predictive of the outcomes (e.g. poverty, divorce, children out of wedlock, incrceration instances and other forms of "deviance") that authors were looking for, not that there actually is a proper correlation.
  10. James Manning Says:
    Rashid, I take this paragraph as his true motive:

    In university education and in the world of work, overall openness of opportunity has been transformed for the better over the last half-century. But the policies we now have in place are impeding, not facilitating, further progress. Creating double standards for physically demanding jobs so that women can qualify ensures that men in those jobs will never see women as their equals. In universities, affirmative action ensures that the black-white difference in IQ in the population at large is brought onto the campus and made visible to every student. The intentions of their designers notwithstanding, today’s policies are perfectly fashioned to create separation, condescension, and resentment—and so they have done.

    He acknowledges that with some assistance, black people made gains. But he argues that the policy that made some of those gains possible resulted in resentment. So what of the resentment that occurs when artificial barriers hinder achievement?

    I don't dismiss a link between genetics and IQ. I just contend that culture, environment and parenting play a more significant role in achievement or lack thereof in an individual. There are a host of diseases that blacks are genetically predisposed to getting and then we take into account lifestyle, nutrition, environment and medical coverage and it completely changes the dynamics. We've created awareness programs for prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a host of others to help blacks with health issues. So it would seem to me that if we acknowledge blacks have a lower IQ but outside influences greatly impact outcomes, then it is only naturally that we would create programs to compensate for genetic deficiencies. With Affirmative Action being one. But the author is arguing the opposite. That's what make me feel that there is a malicious intent behind this study.
  11. Dell Gines Says:
    The number one place that emphasizes the "disparity" in achievement between races is the education establishment.I have been stunned in the meetings that I attend, in which the educrats (not the teachers) use the disparity gap as a leverage to get money. When society demands equal outcome, then you will have this discussion.It is inevitable.In my county, the two schools which had the worst achievement, received the most money per student. Therefore, to justify receiving more money, it then becomes imperative to trot out "disparity in achievement statistics."" - Jan

    You are right, this nation now has switched to victimizing blacks through social funding be creating systems that 'hope for A but reward B'. In this particular instance, many of the funding programs are based upon poverty levels, and some ethnicity, in other words, the schools get more money based upon KEEPING blacks and poor folk in a position of UNDERACHIEVEMENT.

    However Jan, one other thing that you have to consider is that it makes perfect sense to have a higher per student cost in an area that has a much higher number of impoverished individuals as the programs that are needed to educate these children en masse require more money.

    It is a dual edged sword and one that needs to be addressed.

    I will get to IQ and genetics later.
  12. Dell Gines Says:
    Let me also say this.

    I would like to see a double blind study done on black twins seperated at birth with one going into a stable high education centered background, and the other going into a single parent non-education oriented home.

    That is your test. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt which one will score higher on an IQ test.

    These things are a recipe for foolish people to perpetuate inferiority myths.
  13. James Says:

    I haven't been blogging for a while; I wasn't aware until today that Ms. Barber was discussing Black intelligence. But, isn't it possible to say that she's just high?

    I'm not trying to be facetious, or attack her. I'm serious, like the T.I. debut album no one bought. Something's just wrong with her. It's 2006; as a Black man, I shouldn't have to defend the basic capacity for intelligence within my race from attack from any reasonable American engaged in public political discourse.

    Anyone who believes that America's founding senses of equality and liberty have merit must realize that continued attacks on African American intelligence capacity (not African American educational achievement, which is fair game in my opinion) only serve to cover continued attempts to force voter disenfranchisement and economic depression upon the vast majority of African America. No one wants to vote for or trade with people they consider genetically stupid. I believe LaShawn Barber, in her sober moments, realizes this. So my next interpretation of her baseless and unscientific aspersions on Black intelligence involves her cultivation of White conservative male readership. She's playing to her base better than Karl Rove in the 2004 Presidential election, and she's offering her melanin as collateral. Ms. Barber needs to step down from the auction block.
  14. jan brauner Says:
    I'm back, but have to run out again. You are right, Dell, that it is a double edged sword. It is my contention, however, that often, the education establishment blames disparity upon the students rather than on their inability to educate them. Naturally, this is not across the board, because some schools do a brilliant job with the same kids that other schools fail abysmally.This has probably stunned me more than any other thing I have researched this year.

    There is one thing I do think about IQ that is worthwhile to discuss.I think that children who have been exposed to enriched language from infancy, as well as superb prenatal nutrition, will manifest higher IQ scores. Children born to teenagers and/or the poor, WHETHER WHITE OR BLACK, tend to be exposed to about one fourth as much language as children born to more well off mothers. Often what they do hear is repetitive and imperative, with little in the way of enriching explanation. Therefore, I think recognition and intervention of this would be helpful to many in our population of all races.

    Lastly, my brother, who is a neurologist, said that he has many patients on medicaid (more white than black), that he believes are poor BECAUSE they function at a minimal level. Often, we want to look at everyone that is poor and blame them, but he said that there is a population out there who has difficulty following even very basic instructions. Though they are not classified as retarded, they have difficulty balancing a checkbook, planning, and simply taking care of themselves. We really don't like to think about those who function at very low levels mentally, but I think it is a reality. This group has nothing to do with race, and is found in every group. IQ discussions would be helpful if they could be used to formulate solutions to truly benefit the people in this group who are shut out from so many of the good things in life.
  15. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    Ok I cobbled together a post on this. Damn you all for forcing me to talk about this before I was ready! It will probably look a lot different in an hour as I just threw it together to get it online without burning up a ton of James' comment space.

    As to your test Dell, many of the studies cited in the genetic intelligence field do concern twins. They are very interesting and suggest that environment might not play as big a role as we think. Or at least that genetics can trump some facets of environment. I beleive that the Murray essay that I liked to cites them, if not, they are not hard to find on the web.
  16. Hardly Persuaded Says:
    Why must our people's intelligence, rather than our method of processing information be constantly at issue?

    People in this country and others have been trying to prove Black people are idiots for hundreds of years. I'm sure there are quiet a few fence-riding racists who will think to themselves, "Hmmm... that's a good point."

    It's nice to see they're at least using a flawed premis based on irresponsibly isolated data, instead of using the old: "Them Blacks is just dumb," argument.

    The very premise is based in racism.

    You would think that after proving our intelligence (a term which is usually an extremely abstract concept) for hundreds of years, peopole would attempt to accept that we have at least a measure of it.
  17. James Manning Says:
    james & hardly,

    You are both correct. I wanted to give Lashwan the benefit of the doubt - but just a little. I think even a lot of conservative blacks were not up the discussion. I'll have to see what her final conclusion is but I suspect it will consist of more fluff than analysis of facts.
  18. Jaimie Says:
    Well, there's me: College graduate, teacher, middle class, half black, but raised by a white mother.

    Then, there's my sisters (we share a father, but they have a black mother who was a drug addict): high school dropouts, at one time drug addicted themselves, unmarried with several children.

    Then there's another sister (same father, different mother, both parents are black): straight A high school student, cheerleader, upper middle class, about to go to college.

    Race doesn't have anything to do with it, but opportunity does.

    Opportunity means everything. If you come into a world where opportunity is out of reach, either bc of society or bc of the family you were born in, it makes it that much harder to compete with your white, asian, whatever counterparts who are given so much more.
  19. The Best [ Ghostface ] Says:
    To James,

    Latinos are an ethnic group not a racial group. The only time Spanish speaking Latinos are considered a racial group is when they are white. The rest of the colored Latinos are Latinos (Hispanics) by culture. Ethnicity is based up on culture and racial group is based upon psychological characteristics.

  20. not my blg Says:
    Excellent post James. Here is how I would answer your questions:

    1. What factors do you believe contribute to the lower academic achievement of blacks? There are so many environmental factors. First, racism, not the overt kind but the covert type. Particularly institutional racism. I could talk forever on how it manifests itself in all cultures.

    2. Do you believe the genetic makeup of black people results in them being less intelligent? NO!

    3. Why do you think that it is that we are having a discussion like this in 2006? Until all people can truly step into the shoes of another person, they are likely to blame their problems on others that are different from them.
  21. Dell Gines Says:
    We are still having this discussion because people still want to figure out a way to A) Profit off blacks and B) Keep blacks in a position of inferiority.

    There is no way around it and anyway who views it other than that is looking at it from a stilted view. I am sorry.

    There is to much negative history and barbaric and insidious treatment against blacks for me not to start from that premise and put the onus on the studies and individuals to disprove me.

    I simply think back to the tuskegee experiment among other things, such as margaret sangers eugenics, phrenology, and psuedo-science by whites not to hold to that position.

    At the end of the day, I will take environment over genetics 99% of the time.

    Figure it this way, even if initially it was genetically driven we know environment MATERIALLY changes the structure of the brain, and expands certain parts of it.

    Secondly, I still have a problem with the fact that there is no CONSENSUS on what INTELLIGENCE IS, before anyone can have a legitimate and rational conversation on this issue nation wide, shouldn't there be at least a general consensus and well defined definition of intelligence?

    It is a joke and a shame, and it is used to further perpetuate discimination against blacks in general and our black children in particular.
  22. jan brauner Says:
    Today, I asked a UT professor about IQ and he said that the one thing that was well documented was a statistical correlation between IQ and health and well being. I believe that Rashid was trying to make that point.So, one can debate all day long about what IQ measures, but, on a statistical (rather than anecdotal) basis, those who have higher IQ's fare better from a health standpoint.He said that there was not one study ever written that has contradicted this thesis.
  23. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    Yes, that was the point Jan. I see that I completely muddled it too. I meant to say that there is a correlation, but not neccessarily causation. Though causation is probably the reasonable assumption.
  24. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    On a different topic was wondering if you consider Clinton to have been the first "black" president like I think it was Toni Morrison who said that. That seems like somewhat of an insult but it seems that some people think that.
  25. jan brauner Says:
    You didn't muddle your post at all! I found everything you had to offer quite edifying.You don't immediately dismiss points of views that may be challenging. Rather, you look for truth. that's awesome!
  26. Diane S. Says:
    I was going to write all sorts of academic shit here, but I've deleted it all, and I'm just going with M.E.P.'s and Dell's comments.

    The fact that this is even an issue for discussion in 2006 makes me sick.

    And like Dell, show me your double blind study. Then we'll talk.

    And now, I'd like to ask a serious question. Consider this your chance to educate the liberal white chick. Is it so hopelessly naive to want to see people as individuals and not as packages in different colored wrapping? I mean, I'm down with fighting against racism, and you have to talk about race to do that. But isn't the end goal to see people as people? Or am I way off the f*cking game?
  27. MEP Says:
    I agree with you Dell - 100%. It's annoying to me that this conversation needs to take place, b/c I am annoyed by the fact that a group of people created oppressive circumstances for another group and want to try and keep it that way. That's what I meant by my statement of annoyance.
  28. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    02 08 06

    "And like Dell, show me your double blind study. Then we'll talk."
    Diane: This is almost irrelevant. Someone can show you studies upon studies but you know that stats can be manipulated to do damn near anything we wish! And Rashid, you delved into what LSB talked about but I think it was a trap to waste your time. ha ha ha ha ha. In this day and age I cannot believe that people think that way
  29. jan brauner Says:

    I think it is possible for twins, separated at birth to do well despite very different circumstances, because they may have had excellent prenatal nutrition or have had a mother in superb health. The converse could be true as well. Neither of these would prove anything about genetics. There are other elements that enter into intelligence which cannot be controlled for in a study. Further, I question whether anecdotal studies about a limited subset of twins can be extrapolated in a meaningful way. There are too many things that cannot be controlled for concerning IQ. And,there is a tremendous amount of contradictory evidence.

    I think this subject is being discussed right here, because James posted it, and wanted to know what people thought. That's why I thought it was appropriate for Rashid to discuss his thoughts and ask questions. If he can't discuss them here, where can he discuss them?

    There is a huge difference between achievement and IQ. Sometimes they are correlated, but quite often, they are not.

    I have known many brilliant people, and contrary to Mahndisa's experience, they tend to be very humble, and thirsty for knowledge.

    On the achievement gap:
    Dr. Robert Mendro, assistant superintendent for research and evaluation of Dallas Public Schools studied 6,000 teachers, and and indicated that 30-40% of them were totally ineffective in his own district.

    The mean GRE quantitative for teachers is 531 and for engineers is 722.

    Dr. Arthur Levin, president of Columbia University, examined 1200 departments and schools of education across the country. He released a 766 page study in conjunction with a panel of experts. They concluded that the quality of colleges of education programs was "Inadequate to Appalling!"

    We have got to do something about our schools of education if we wish to see the achievement gap close. Blaming it all on the kids just isn't cutting it for me anymore.

    For all of you superb teachers, extra kudos for the wonderful job that you do!
  30. TheOneandOnlyInsanely Says:
    James I love your blog and its content.

    I agree with Jaime, its all about opportunity. I was born and raised in the projects. I could have easily went to the neighborhood school and be doomed. Fortunately, my parents valued education and bussed me outside of the projects to a language academy.

    The entrance exam was biased, I a three year old, had to identify different objects, one was a picture of a log. Well in the projects there are no fireplaces so I had no idea that was a log. I said it was a "piece of a tree" which it was....the white lady laughed at me, she thought it was cute. I remember that day vividly.....

    Along with the day I missed my bus and had to go to the neighborhood school, which was saddening as a 7 year old. While I breezed through this easy coursework in minutes, making myself the teachers pet (this not even my school), other struggled with it.

    Those 2 examples right there go to show you blacks are not more ignorant or dumber, we just lack the materials and no one stresses the importance of education.
  31. Hardly Persuaded Says:
    @ jan brauner:

    I don’t think most people doubt that you find people with a higher level of “intelligence” in more challenging professions.

    I also think most people understand that schools aren’t working. But because the retention of information is not nearly an exact science, saying “teach better,” doesn’t help. When children come from families that don’t give a damn about education, or families that are just plain lazy, they bring that into the classroom. It’s a sad fact that children often ARE the problem. But they are the problem because their families have trained (not trained) them to be that way.

    What can the state do to help stimulate families that value education and instill respect in their children?

    @ insanelysane:

    Of course tests can be “bias.” But so what? I don’t say that to be flip, but to be genuine and honest.

    As Black people, we live in a world where we are in the minority. That means that we have to learn about others to be successful as a community. That is not a bad thing, it only makes us stronger. But we’re doing a poor job of teaching our children about our own history, let alone about the world around us.

    For example: I once spoke to a woman who argued that athletics is one of the few “traditional” ways that Black people have achieved success in America. I was disappointed more than anything else. Even with a history in this country beginning in 1614, some of us don’t know anything earlier than 1950. That is dangerous.

    Ever talked to young Black folks from L.A. who have never seen the ocean? Or from Chicago and never seen Lake Michigan? Or from New York and never been to the Statute of Liberty? I’m sure you have. We’re not doing a good job of stepping outside of our world to find the knowledge needed to strengthen our community. It’s not about trying to be something we’re not; it’s about knowing the world around us.

    The fact that families are not stressing education is not the fault of racism, it is OUR fault; and we must MAKE it our fault. Our grandparents knew life was sink or swim, and they went to school when they were able. Some of us won’t even go to school. We need to do a better job of teaching each other what “The Struggle,” in terms of creating opportunity in America, really is.

    My thought is that we need to differentiate The Struggle from personal failings, such as: having children with losers (on either the male or female side) that don’t have the maturity or means to raise them, understanding that young babies and children need educational nurturing from the moment they are born, using different methods to do things when we find ourselves in failing situations, breaking the acceptance of drugs as a right of passage, respect for our sexuality, learning that success is also a part of being Black and not an attempt to be White… and so on.

    My point is only this: we know that America is not as friendly to Black people as it is to others. This is not news. The real question is: What are we going to do about it? Not, whether or not racism and bias exists. Many of us will never be part of The Struggle, because we haven’t been taught what it is.

    @ diane s:

    These are my thoughts as to why these discussions still exist:

    1) This discussion keeps poor/middle class Whites and poor/middle class Blacks at each other’s throats. This keeps us all from questioning any form of leadership. It keeps us all stupid. Typical divide and conquer.

    2) There is a great deal of profit to make in devising sophisticated ways of spouting racism. People love this stuff. This stuff makes bigotry feel intellectual. Watch Fox News for further details.

    3) The fact we are in the year 2006 means nothing, because people have just found more subtle and cleaver euphemisms to spout their racism. Although, thank goodness, there is far less political racial violence in America these days.
  32. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    They concluded that the quality of colleges of education programs was "Inadequate to Appalling!"

    It ain't just Colleges of Education. You'd be amazed at the quality of Computer Science and Computer Engineering grads around. I read an interesting article about that recently.

    Personally, I'm not really a nature or nurture guy, but I know better than to discount things purely based on my experience or beliefs which is what I normally see and hear when this type of thing comes up. The Bell Curve is undoubtedly flawed, but I guess I'm an optimist trying to attribute the flaws to stupidity instead of malice.

    Jan makes good points and I would like to add that the biggest problems that I see with most of these studies are that:

    1. They assume that smart people go after high paying jobs. This is naive. Many of the most intelligent black people that I know are either in the church / mosque or working in social circles to better their communities. Equating intelligence directly with financial capitalism is a pretty specious premise that only an ivory-tower intellectual could come up with.

    2. They don't talk about where the IQ cut-off range - if you will - for a decent professional job might be. This is important because, like everything else, the law of diminishing returns has to apply to IQ as well. It could very well be that 98th percentile has little practical advantage in real-world applications over the 75th percentile.

    But whatever, it's not like these studies are painting themselves as the end all be all of human existence.

    Lastly, to Mahndisa. I would never consider thinking through uncomfortable information in a logical way to be a waste of time. That type of activity prbably burns wider pathways through my brain than any other. I see huge implications in this information and I find it interesting to think that the nature vs. nurture issue is somehow not worth studying like so many here seem to imply.
  33. James Manning Says:

    It seems to me that the 98th percentile are the ones that turn into mad scientist and cult leaders. Heck, Cornell West seems like he's only a few envelopes and postage stamps from being the unabomber.
  34. jan brauner Says:
    I believe that very young children have a thirst for knowledge and learning, and that the process of turning off to education is a learned one. Very few preschool teachers worth their salt will tell you that they have ever had a child that did not care about learning.Ask Jaimie. Ergo, I believe that if a young child has the benefit of true educators from the first time they step into a classroom, the results will be phenomenal. Shoot for the damn stars...these kids can achieve wonders. By the way, the research indicates that one lousy teacher takes three years for a child to overcome, if at all. Think about those 40% ineffective teachers that the Dallas ISD superintendent identified, and tell me why you are not outraged. I have higher expectations for your kids than half of you guys and I don't understand why. My grandmother had her PhD and lived on 24th ST NE in D.C. in an all black neighborhood, and taught in an all black school. Her students rocked! I have never forgotten the lessons she taught me.
  35. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    02 08 06

    Rashid: YOu always take what I say wayyyyy to seriously. I was joking. Didn't you see the ha ha ha ha ha? I simply feel that having these discussions in 2006 shows that we probably haven't progressed as much as we'd like to think.
  36. jan brauner Says:
    I thought you were serious, too...and now I am laughing. I love it when people take the time to clarify. Thanks.

    I think discussions about the difference in IQs between races is "not on" and "destructive", but discussions about IQ and how to raise them are productive if it means that we do better prenatal nutrition, infant stimulation, and childhood enriched environments. My brother was married to a woman who is "hard to describe" so I will be generous and say that she was totally dysfunctional as a mother (before she married and divorced him)...She left her infants in the crib, unattended all day long according to the psychiatrists and social workers, let them cry,considered them to be an annoyance, and never ever talked to them. They never made it through grade school, are totally dependent upon the state, and are so low functioning that it is unbelievable. They may as well have grown up in a jungle some where for all of the civilization they were exposed to, while my oldest brother's children have IQs over 160. I think it was an avoidable tragedy, and i do not think she was really aware of the ramifications of her actions.
  37. jan brauner Says:
    Where are you?
  38. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    Mahndisa: It's the nature of the beast, perhaps I am mildly autistic :). For real though, I have a policy of taking pretty much everything seriously in case somebody is trying to sneak in a blow.

    For what it's worth, just about any physicist with Libertarian leanings is going to be alright with me. 8-)
  39. James Manning Says:
    Jan, I'm still here. I'm glad you agree that race and IQ are not relevant to the discussion of achievement. I don't disagree with what you say but the problem with the educational system is that it is too complex to say that teachers are the problem. I'm sure there are some bad teachers out there - but there are a lot of bad parents and there are conditions that exist outside of the control of the educational system. Yet, the all play a vital role.
  40. jan brauner Says:
    Hey guy;
    I thought you had abandoned me, and I was missing you. Did you actually read everything I posted?.....Cuz, I recognize that teachers are not the sole problem, and my heart goes out to those who give their all and get so little in return. I mentioned Jaimie, by the way...

    It is complex, as are all problems, which is why I am so dismayed that people come down so inflexibly on one side or the other.Why do we all need to be such hard ass conservatives or liberals? BUT, we have to stop blaming it all on the kids when we have studies that so implicate teacher's college's. When we are presented with such overwhelming evidence of abuse of funding among administrators we need to pay attention.How do you explain Dallas ISD spending $10,000 per day on car allowances to administrators who do not even use their cars in their jobs?

    I think you might enjoy a study called the "Teachability Index" by Jay Greene
  41. jan brauner Says:
    Mild autism is called Aspergers..Just thought I would toss that out for fun. There is a book that I loved called "Anthropologist on Mars" by Oliver Sacks. He shares case studies on patients who mainifest neurological problems. Your comment reminded me of one of my favorite books.
  42. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    02 08 06

    Rashid and Jan: ha ha ha ha ha I havta admit that I have an arcane sense of humor so oh well we are all cool. Rashid, I have a couple of physics posts up if you are interested. Are you in the science game too? I thought you were by some of the comments you have left. WEll, I talked about hydrophobic surfaces, a new exotic state of matter and other things.

    Jan: Your story about the sister in law was wild. And it does point to nature v. nurture arguments. I have a friend whose mother admitted that she took no pride in motherhood. She verbally abused all of her children and they are all very intelligent, but shy and insecure. One of the gals had to teach herself how to cook, to clean and take care of her own grooming needs cuz the mother was never available. So I see how a poor home environment can screw folks up!

    Then there was the godmother who was too impatient to teach her kids to crawl. So she had them walking at seven months and all the kids had a sort of learning disability because they never learned to "scan" objects. So it affected their reading skills etc.

    So nature v. nurture is a valid place to go with this discussion for sure:)
  43. Qusan Says:
    2. Do you believe the genetic makeup of black people results in them being less intelligent?

    I think the whole concept of black Americans constituting a "race" is rather flawed since our bloodlines have been watered down from pure African genes and mixed with the genes of the enslavers. African immigrants are known to excel above Americans - black and white. I'd offer, therefore, that if genetics is involved, it's not the African genes that impact our intelligence, it's the ones who forced their genes upon us.
  44. Dr. Chuck Williams Says:
    This discussion about IQ scores and black vs whites is as old as black-face. But it needs to be revisited from time to time. It's true to say that black folks' IQ scores tend to be significantly lower than whites. This is also true for other standardized and aptitude tests such as SATs. However, it is important to take into consideration how intelligence is "developed."

    Many would argue that social, cultural, ecological, political and economical forces influence how intelligence is "developed."
    Remember the saying-
    No persons is an island unto himself. This quote suggests that we are all influenced by our surroundings. In each of our early environments, i.e., the primary family and our respective "hoods," we learned to do and to not do certain things.
    For example, are you taught to dream about real success and aspire to it?

    We were also exposed to certain realties. For many black folks this usually means poverty. Urban poverty usually means drugs, guns, violence, low wage jobs, no jobs, poor public education and public corruption which leads to a marked lack of opportunities and resources. Also, with poverty there come certain affective or psychological realities:

    Learned helplessness
    Learned hopelessness
    Self-defeating behaviors
    Self-fulfilling behaviors
    Low self-efficacy
    Low self-esteem

    There is an overall sense that things will always be not so good. These realities shape how you think (about yourself and the world around you). It also influences how you plan and prioritize, if you chose to do so at all. In fact, to do so would indicate a certain personal resilience that may not be as common among us as we'd like

    Take for example, lack of educational attainment. (This is the one issue which black folks are hit over the head with again and again.) If you do not feel that you will have a future, what's the use of doing well in middle school in order to get to a competitive high school, which will lead you to college?

    Some research even suggests that when you control for economic status, black folks still do not fare as well as their white counterparts on standardized and aptitude tests.

    However, what they can never, ever control for in America is the overall societal notion that black folks are inferior and/or less than.

    Such an awful reality also impacts how black children perform on standardized, achievement and aptitude tests. For example, if educators feel that poor black children will always be poor and relegated to the bottom rungs of society’s social ladder, then what’s the point of pushing them hard to learn how to conjugate verbs or solve for X? If they are only going to go but so far anyway, why not just give them just enough for them to make minimal educational or academic gains. I hope this is starting to make sense.

    Further, this notion of black inferiority is learned in utero, given that all research indicates that blacks receive inferior and substandard health care services even when controlling for income. So, poor blacks are discriminated against by the health care delivery system as are their more socially mobile counterparts who make up the so called black middle class.

    This will always impact how we (blacks) perform, compete and succeed.

    So it's not necessarily the case that our IQ test scores are lower, rather it's more that low expectations and the lack of real supports collude to make the quality of life for black folks, well, sucky.

    IQ scores measure quality of life.
  45. Peace Says:
    Everyone here (and everywhere) needs to read "The Shame of the Nation" by Jonathan Kozol. All questions about disparity in education are answered there. This book has changed the way I look at education in America... I thought I knew, but wasn't even close. Happy reading.
  46. Anonymous Says:
    Updating my bookmarks... see you're still here. Looks different than I remembered. I've updated my stuff too - fireplace glass
  47. Anonymous Says:
    Intelligence is ~.85 heritable in adults, and the IQ gap exists even when you account for socioeconomic status. The IQ gap also fits with differences in standardized testing scores as well as differences in brain volume across the racial divide. There is a mountain of reasons to believe intelligence and race are linked, and it makes sense as, again, intelligence is highly heritable. This means that the bulk of any deviation from the mean is explained by genetics.

    The problem here is that people want to pretend that humans have not evolved in the last 10,000 years or so because they want to believe everyone is magically the same in all respects aside from skin color and some other physical traits. Why would intelligence be any less susceptible to natural selection than other traits? Your brain is a physical structure with any number of parts and aspects that are affected by genetics. Logically, genetics for a better organic computer can be handed down within a population, and, over the course of thousands of years, different populations also developed physical adaptations to their given climates.

    Also, it is nonsensical for people on here to say American blacks have a lower IQ because of racism or slavery. American blacks have a higher mean IQ than Africans who did not go through slavery or Jim Crow. If American blacks have a lower IQ because of their collective experiences, why then are Africans less intelligent? And it is not an issue of socioeconomic status as educated students in South Africa were compared in testing, and the findings were consistent regardless of socioeconomic status, education level, and so on.
  48. Old Odd Jobs Says:
    Everyone knows that the Ashkenazi Jews and the Japanese are a smart bunch. I don't have the slightest problem acknowledging their intellectual achievements. The trouble is, if you notice that one group is smarter on average than another group, you've strayed into UNACCEPTABLE KKK HERESY and your mind is clearly infected by the goblins of RACISM and BIGOTRY blah blah blah. When are people going to grow up?

    Men are on average taller than women. West Africans are on average faster sprinters than Eskimos. Dutch people are on average better swimmers than Aboriginal Australians or Kalahari bushmen. Is it really so difficult to understand and accept that not all human beings are clones of each other?

    So, the average Chinese IQ is slightly higher than the average Irish IQ. So what? Accept it like an adult, and move on with your life.

    Stop shrieking RACIST every time you're exposed to a little bit of reality, babies.