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"[Walter] Bodmer (1972, in A.Montagu, Race and IQ) has concluded that the difference in average IQ between American blacks and whites "could be explained by environmental factors, many of which we still know nothing about."

Peter Urbach (1974, Brit.J.Phil.Science 25) replies: "Professor Bodmer is of course right; everything in the world can be explained by factors about which we know nothing.""
-- R.Travis OSBORNE, 1980

Discrimination and IQ

A refutation of the essay at

The thesis of the essay is that racial differences in IQ are caused by discrimination and oppression: heredity having no part in the variation. The main argument is that there are also IQ differences between the majority and minority groups -- whether these groups are racial or not -- in many cases, especially when there is discrimination. By some yet undiscovered law of logic, the author then concludes that the "evidence" shown disproves without a doubt the heritability of intelligence, at least in the case of inter-group differences. In fact, discrimination and oppression may cause IQ to lower to some extent, in the measure that IQ is environmental(that is, about 30%), but this does not contradict the findings of Jensen and others about the important heritability and between-group/within-group variation of intelligence.

First, the author makes the common, false assumption that inequality presupposes injustice/discrimination: that the social status of Blacks is necessarily the result of discrimination. "But liberals believe that the IQ gap is the result of nearly three centuries of slavery and yet another 130 years of segregation and institutionalized racism. Even the Civil Rights Act and affirmative action have not eliminated discrimination against blacks -- they've merely reduced it somewhat. The result of this discrimination is that a disproportionate percentage of blacks work at lower-paying jobs, live in poverty and squalor, lack health care and child care, and do not receive the quality of education and personal development available to richer members of society. All these deprivations work to suppress IQ and educational achievement in children during their critical developmental years." As will be seen below, this is a somewhat questionable assumption. Second, the author distorts the opponent's argument: no one ever said that intelligence was exclusively genetic, as is implied in "There are too many examples of discriminated minorities even within ethnic groups that score worse on IQ tests to believe the myth that the differences are genetic." IQ variation, both between individuals and groups, is not only caused by heredity, but also by environment. It is only that environment plays a lesser role(according to most heritability estimates and studies). Third, the argument presented by the author is followed by a non sequitur that IQ variation between groups is, therefore, exclusively(or essentially) environmental -- that heredity plays no role in it. This is equivalent to claiming that because the resistance of the air has an effect on the speed of a ball you throw, the speed of the ball is exclusively determined by the air's resistance. If anything, the author shows that differences in intelligence are environmental to some extent(and even so, that claim has to be somewhat "diluted", as will be shown below), nothing more -- which is the equivalent of re-inventing the wheel, or of beating a dead horse, if you prefer. Fourth, there is a fallacious concept of race presented in the article. That is, IQ variation is not caused by race per se, but by genetic variation. The author assumes that there are only two levels of variation: race and the individual. In fact, races are only statistical groupings(more or less arbitrary) of genetically more similar individuals, and the classification of races can go all the way down to the individual(except for identical twins). That is, race, ethnic group, local population, family, individual are all sub-divisions or groups with varying genetic frequencies. This means that two groups belonging to a same race will not necessarily be a statistically representative sample of the race-population itself. Indeed, all the selective pressures that apply on the level of individuals and races also apply at every other level of populations. The IQ of Irish village farmers, for example, is probably not the same as that of Irish urbans. It is the effect of selective migration. In the case of Protestants versus Catholics, it depends on how individuals in Northern Ireland choose(or don't) their religion. That is, if religion is only a question of personal choice(which I doubt), then it is quite probable that one religion will attract more intelligent people than another one that is more oppressive and procures less individual freedom, for example... If religion is attached to tradition, then by comparing two religions you are comparing two different gene pools, with different histories and different selective pressures -- and it can be expected that IQ will vary, perhaps quite significantly since the samples are small and the random genetic drift will be greater than it is with larger samples. Similarly, Koreans who migrate to the US(or to Japan) are not the same statistically as Koreans who stay behind, and we could therefore declare them a different group or race if we so choose. In other words - that intra-racial groups have different IQs, therefore the IQ variation is not genetic -- is another non sequitur. In any case, some of the group IQ differences presented as "evidence" of the environmental predominance of IQ have fairly obvious explanations that do not need the environmental excuse of "oppression", so I will discuss them: Whites versus Aborigines in Australia:

Genetic variation, different races.

English versus Irish, Scottish in Great Britain:
The approximately 10 IQ points difference can be explained by the fact that the English, Irish, and Scottish are different ethnic groups with different historical selective pressures. The principal selective pressure in this case is probably migration.

Indeed, a good indicator of migration movements in Great Britain is that the mean population IQ is highest in London and South-East England, tending to drop with distance from this region. According to Richard Lynn, this is explained by "historical differences which are measured back to 1751 and to selective migration from the provinces into the London area." In other words, the smartest tended to leave the provinces for the capital and the big cities.

"Richard Lynn's historical work using the Dictionary of National Biography shows that three areas of the UK were historically rich in talent: London, the West Riding of Yorkshire [around Leeds], and Scotland. The position changed after the Act of Union [1707] because the brighter Scots made for London to enjoy the fruits of empire. Every capital city in Europe attracts higher-IQ people. In Dublin, studies by Irish banks show their job applicants brighter than those in Galway." - Chris Brand

Also, people of Irish origin in the USA typically have the average IQ(100), indicating that here too migratory selection is at work: the smarter left for the U.S.A., leaving the lower IQ individuals behind.

"Over the past century, much Irish talent has had to work abroad thanks to systematic overbreeding (in line with vulgar Catholic ideas). [...] Voluntary migrants typically have IQs 8 points ahead of the populations they leave behind them (best established in a classic study of Scots who left for London)." - Chris Brand

High caste versus Low caste in India:
The Caste system in India is the result of the Indo-Aryan racial separation system which segregated the conquered dark-skinned population from the light-skinned conquerors in ancient times. Since then, the various castes have been breeding only within their own caste -- and it is therefore logical that the castes differ genetically.

The IQ difference can thus be explained by the lower IQ of the original population that has been conquered by the higher IQ Indo-Aryans. It is indeed not too unlikely that the higher IQ populations tend to win wars in most(but not all) cases -- generally because of technological advancement and strategic/organizational superiority.

That is one possible explanation, but in any case it must be kept in mind that the higher castes and the lower castes were both originally different ethnic groups(it is therefore not a coincidence that the lower castes tend to be more dark-skinned than the higher castes even today in India) and, considering the constant genetic segregation caused by the caste system, have different gene frequencies.

Jews versus Arabs in Israel:

Jewish eugenics.[Indoctrination and Group Evolutionary Strategies: The Case of Judaism, Judaism as an Evolutionary Strategy: a Review of Kevin MacDonald's Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy series]

Non-Burakumin versus Burakumin in Japan:
What are the origins of the Burakumin ?

The most common theory is that the Buraku people, or Burakumin, have been recognized, or "created", around the 17th century when the four-tier Japanese class system was established by the government in order to control farmers, artisans and merchants. The Burakumin were those who had "impure" jobs, because in a Buddhist context everything that had to do with killing, for example, was seen as impure: some worked with leather, some practiced small agriculture, some guarded jails, some were hunters, some were fishermen, some executed or arrested criminals, some were manufacturers and others entertainers. Some other Burakumin could have come from those defeated in wars. The reason for this classification was either political(divide to rule) or religious(a genuine belief in the impurity of these people), or both.

Another theory is that they were Korean and Chinese immigrants, or related to the Ainus, and were discriminated against for this reason.

In both cases, though, it is clear that the Burakumin are not representative of the whole Japanese population. And it is possible, if the first explanation is true, that a significant portion of the Buraku caste was consituted of the lower IQ segment of the population(whereas the merchants, and the most successful farmers and artisans, could be expected to be the highest IQ segment).

Another possible explanation is that the clever Burakumin managed to leave their villages and successfully blended in with the non-Burakumin. Indeed, since the Meiji era, everybody had the freedom to choose where to live. It is quite possible that in these times the smartest ones managed to grasp the opportunities to live outside of the Buraku communities.

Japanese origin versus Korean origin in Japan:

Selective migration and "selective naturalization"(that is, not everyone desires equally to assimilate) are quite plausible explanations.

But I think Chris Brand's reply to this argument is more eloquent:

"Which Koreans find their way to the USA rather than to be prostitutes in Japan?... "

English versus Afrikaaners in South Africa:
Here the logical fallacy is more in the argument itself: the English are NOT dominant since 1947. The Boers have taken over the country since then, making it a world capital of rape and AIDS. However, there is no evidence that the IQ difference has changed with the change of the dominant group.

Whites versus Maoris in New Zealand:

Racial variation.

White versus Blacks, Latinos, American Indians in the United States:
Racial variation. And here I would add: are Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians in the United States really [still] oppressed or discriminated against ?

"...So many "Pollock" jokes arose that Americans still tell them to this day, even if no one remembers why. The Polish Jews suffered heavy job discrimination and suspicion of criminality; not surprisingly, their children suffered low grades and IQ test scores. Today, of course, many Americans hold the opposite prejudice; Jews are viewed as the most brilliant of ethnic groups." Ok, so the Jews were discriminated against, and had a low IQ a few decades ago(assuming that this data is reliable). Now, the Jews score 117 ! How does he explain that, while Jews "recovered from their oppression" real fast and to an amazing degree, Blacks did not(assuming that segregation is the oppression that is purported to cause the lower IQ -- what else ?), not even with a slight improvement since 40 years ago. And the black-white IQ gap is consistent even when corrected for SES. How is that possible ?

Are they still discriminated against ? No, they are not: if there is any institutionalized racism nowadays it is against Whites, and it is called affirmative action. If there is any "private" racism, it is black on white -- there are more black-on-white crimes than the reverse, and Blacks are twice as likely as Whites to commit hate crimes(and it's "funny" that the medias silence the black-on-white crimes while they trumpet the white-on-black ones). Also, why do Asians score higher than Caucasians on IQ tests, even in America ? "America (understandably) broke its Japanese people on the wheel following Pearl Harbour -- yet within 20 years they were visibly over- represented on campus and in the professions." - Chris Brand What happened ? Is it that Asians discriminate against Whites(after all we have lower IQs than Asians by an approximately 5 points average) ? What about studies showing lower IQs for Blacks with a greater proportion of Black ancestry[Ferguson, 1914; Tyler, 1956; Shuey, 1966; Fick, 1929; Owen, 1992] ?

In a same environment, with the same degree of discrimination, Blacks who clearly showed less Black ancestry scored higher on three different cognitive tests.(In the early studies by Ferguson) The degree of hybridity was estimated on the basis of skin color, shape of the skull/face, and hair texture. Other studies have also given, in general, the same results(but not in all cases). It seems, therefore, that there is a significant correlation between IQ and skin color(at least, in the case of African-Americans), which cannot be explained by discrimination or other environmental causes. According to Fick's study in South Africa, in which he administered the American Army Beta Test -- designed for those who could not speak English -- to 10-to-14-year-old white, black and mixed-race schoolchildren, with a sample of more than 10,000 children, urban "pure" blacks score 65, while urban mixed-race children score virtually identically to African-Americans: 84. In Owen's South African study, a Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices test was administered to four groups of high school students. The results: 1,065 whites scored 45.27(SD = 6.34), 1,063 East Indians scored 41.99(SD = 8.24), 778 black-white hybrids scored 36.69(SD = 8.89), and 1,093 "pure" Blacks scored 27.65(SD = 10.72). The important thing here is that the "pure" Negroids scored about 1 SD lower than the black-white hybrids -- with the same environment, with the same level of discrimination if any, and within the same race(because of the strange standard according to which anyone with a slight touch of Negroid ancestry is automatically categorized as Black). A similar study, by Hunter and Sommermeir(in 1922), compared American Indians according to proportion of Amerind ancestry("4/4 = non-hybrid Indianids, 3/4 = all degrees of hybridity below 4/4 down to 3/4(the latter fraction indicating three Indianid and one Europid grandparent), 1/2 = two Indianid and two Europid grandparents, 1/4 = all degrees of hybridity with Europids less than 1/2 (but the great majority of the 1/4s had one Indianid and three Europid grandparents)" [J.R. Baker, Race]). The correlation of "Indianid"(American Indian) ancestry with IQ was -0.41.

I think the above studies show clearly that there is a genetic gap in IQ that cannot be explained by discrimination, oppression, or membership in a minority group.

Regarding the difference in college education between euro-american groups: "I would look to differential migration to explain most of this. How clever did you have to be to get out of Stalinist Russia? -- Very, assuming you didn't want to hear of your relatives being sent to the killing fields of the de facto death camps like Vorkuta. By contrast, French Canadians were a rump left behind in Canada after the defeated French elite returned to Paris. It is remarkable that the left should now seek to rely on dubious bits of history rather than on systematic scientific study. The London School claim (as in my book and Herrnstein & Murray's) is that g is the main cause of socio-economic and cultural success. Increasingly, the left demonstrates its inability to contest this claim -- or even to read the evidence for it, or allow to allow others to read it." - Chris Brand As for the author's final claim: "Most geneticists agree that there is far more genetic variation within groups than between groups. According to one commonly cited study, 85% of all human genetic variation is intra-population, 7% intra-race and only 8% inter-racial." This is almost true... But it must be kept in mind that the genes used to compare the races were mostly selectively neutral -- that is, they were only affected by random variation, not selective adaptation.[Tracing the Genetic History of Modern Man, Chapter 12 of The g Factor] They are genetic distance measures, not genetic difference measures... So, I do not deny that intelligence has some environmental factor, and that an oppressive environment certainly isn't the best place to develop it. However, I think the argument presented by the author of the article is quite weak, because most of the comparisons can be explained - partially or fully - by genetic explanations, and that showing that environment has some influence does not mean that heredity has little or none anyways. The evidence presented does not even, in fact, lead me to think that the heritability of IQ may be less than the general estimate of .70. As for the claim that Blacks are being discriminated against in the United States(while Asians and Jews are not -- even though the majority of "hate crimes" relating to religion target Jews), I have not seen any evidence of this.

Myth: Racial differences in IQ are purely environmental...
Fact: There is an important genetic element in the racial variation in IQ(or any other racial variation)

Simon Ouellette

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