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. source
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?
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?