Race and Intelligence

In the comments to one of last night’s posts Ethnocentrist responded (on the wrong thread) to my most recent post on Mikko Ellilä. Since he and other readers may not find my response there, I’m re-posting it here.

Ethnocentrist said:

I want to make my personal opinion clear: I do not credit any of the theories that assert a genetically-based racial component to intelligence.

Baron, do you also not credit any theories that assert a genetically-based racial component to physical abilities? Silly PC Baron, the evidence does not support your unfounded “non-bias”.

My response:


First of all, you’re on the wrong thread.

Secondly, your sneering response jumps to conclusions.

I don’t credit those theories because I have studied them extensively. I didn’t want to lengthen my post by discussing it, but I minored in Anthropology (with a major in Math) at college, and during my senior year I wrote a term paper in Physical Anthropology on race and intelligence, concentrating on the works of Arthur Jensen.

In my paper I wrote that the question of a racial component for intelligence was not fully answered, but that the evidence did not warrant Professor Jensen’s conclusions.

Not long after I wrote my paper, honest discussion on such topics within the academy was shut down completely.

So when I said, “I do not credit any of the theories,” I was maintaining that the evidence does not support the hypothesis. I have not seen any additional evidence in the intervening 35 years to change that conclusion.

Of course, in the intervening 35 years, the reigning orthodoxy has forbidden the gathering of more evidence. That’s why the topic is still open.

And that’s part of our problem.

[Nothing follows.]

15 thoughts on “Race and Intelligence

  1. Also Baron, a paper last year by Rushton and Jensen found here and especially here indicates that IQ is 80% heritable and IQ gaps between races have remained.

    Sorry for the “sneering” initial response, though I expected a bit of resistence as judging by your disclaimer.

  2. We’re all descendants of a light-skinned ancestry from Africa (the soles of black’s people’s feet tell the primordial pigment, from orignally-hairy primates who shed this shading/covering and exposed a pale skin beneath).

    As the sun and food and self-selection changed people’s external appearance, we ended up with as many “breeds” (“rassen” in German) as our innate biological desire for spicey variety, and our adaptability to new diets, lengths of the day, etc. allowed.

    “Race” would be better translated as “breed”, since this not only prevents “racism” (sic), it removes the unconscious supremacism and absurd egotism from this too-vague and usually ill-used term.

    Racists, who misunderstand that human genetics as a response to external influences in order to maintain internal diversity to better fight off diseases, seem to be the only one’s who cling to the term “race” or “races”.

    As if narrowing down your gene pool was a good thing. (Hare-lips, sickle-cell anemia, etc. tell the opposite truth.)

    We are a single human “race” spun into exotic and fascinating “breeds”.

    Vive la differences

  3. Sir,

    With considerable trepidation, I submit that research of the sort you reference has been done, albeit usually derivatively. No less an authority than Pinker has “regretfully” spoken to it,
    paying homage to intellectual honesty.

    The great obstacle to opening debate (assuming one is even desired) is not evidentiary; rather, it is publication – particularly peer reviewed publication. Having seen the fate of those who question the “science” of global warming, for instance, geneticists are naturally reluctant to auto de fe.

  4. Oh, and I would be remiss in failing to mention that in the case of Ashkenazic Jews, for example, the data are only truly astounding at the margin, i.e. IQs of greater than 150 – which leaves most of us with no dog in the fight.

  5. Baron:

    My views on race will surely diverge from many reading these comments. Acceptance of the idea that man evolved from simpler organisms, and finally from monkeys, seems to be a powerful idea that has become a premier PC litmus tests of intellectual substance versus ‘cracked pots’.

    To the adherents of evolution I say, give it up. The fossil record contains an extensive library of life’s history on this planet. In that fossil record, transitional forms, the intermediates between simpler species to more complex species, are absent. For light on this subject see the book, ‘Darwin’s Black Box’, by Richard Behe — biochem assoc. prof at Lehigh Univ. There is change within species, as in breeding horses or dogs, but no species-to-species jumps.

    When it comes to man, there is tremendous diversity amongst the different races. The idea that one race is superior over another is an idea that is divisive in the extreme, although a study of the qualities inherent in the different races is interesting in an academic sense. I urge you to leave the study and analysis of racial differences out of these pages since it distacts from the purpose of this blog, and provides ammunition to our enemies to discredit and marginalize us.

    Personally, I find people of other races, especially black Americans, to be among the most interesting and pleasant people to associate with. I would also include hispanics, from Mexico as well as further south, in that category. The differences in black culture in the south, versus black culture in the north and west would be an illuminating diversion… on another blog.

    The reasons for external differences we see in the races here in the states are complex. Too complex to chronical here without totally digressing from our purpose. Somalis in Finland will have their own reasons for being what they are as immigrants there. In the Somalis’ case, I would say first off to get rid of the Islamic element, then we can have dialog and relationship with what remains.

    Tough topic. Just some thoughts.

  6. Allen.

    Thanks for the additional information. Yes, publication is definitely the issue. Since I left college my information has come from what I buy in bookstores, or borrow from the library, or read in magazines. If even the peer-reviewed literature is lacking, then (from my point of view) the silence is complete.

    But isn’t it also true that such studies are unlikely to receive funding? And, knowing that to be the case, don’t researchers have a natural and understandable tendency to look elsewhere for topics of study?

    The analogy to global warming is indeed an instructive one.

  7. I’d like to mention here that I think culture has a role in this issue. I live near a major university, and over the years I’ve crossed paths with a lot of “foreign” students. Both within the school’s actual location and also outside the limits. What I’ve found, especially when dealing with Blacks, is that Black Africans are terrific people, by and large. They’re warm, have a sense of humor, are multi-lingual (I swear I once heard 2 Africans talking, and it sounded-though it could have been merely the heavy accent of one of them-like one was speaking an African language and the other was replying in French. I kinda looked up, wondering if I was actually hearing what it sounded like, and the Woman looked at me, smiled and said “hi”, as if she was trying to reassure me I wasn’t being talked about.

    Contrast that with the “Entitlement” attitude I so often see in the American Blacks.

    As a final note, it seems to me that African Blacks are more intelligent, by and large, than the American ones. Could that be significant, or is it just that we are seeing the “elite” of African society?

  8. I am surprised how many people here are obsessed with IQ problem. They either praise all Western success on high IQ or repeat the mantra “all races have equal IQ”. As a person with high IQ (I completed 2 Ph.D. programs) I dare say that IQ is only one of many merits, and does not play a decisive role in life. Theodore Herzl, the theoretician who predicted establishment of Israel, used to say that any country needs not only scientists, but also thieves and prostitutes. In other words, you don’t need to be better to be different, just be yourself.

  9. baron bodissey,

    Yes, I too think funding for such research would be impossible to obtain, overtly.

    ___No funding
    ___No research
    ___No literature
    ___No problem

    Whether such research would be of any practical value is arguable; however, there is something to be said for just learning things. The Western mind chafes at the bit of ignorance.

    While I rarely comment, I do look in almost daily. Your work is first rate and very much appreciated. Thanks.

  10. Ypp:

    Your comment, “In other words, you don’t need to be better to be different, just be yourself.” — I could not agree more. Good point, and very relevant.

    By the way, I notice from your profile that you are writing from Romania, since you carry an .ru extension. Since I am not able to read your language, and do not know the cyrillic alphabet, it is a pleasure to have your comments here. We need your insights!

  11. Gun-tote:

    In college (Pomona, California) I had a roommate from Zaire, an aeronautical engineering student named Phillipe. What an interesting person he was. He was the grandson of a chief who had 44 wives. He was raised in a room above a bar in Kinshasa where he heard African music his whole life. In the middle of the night he would play my guitar — what he called, ‘accompanatuer’ (pardon my misspelled french). It was an incredibly catchy rhythmic african backup guitar line…..

    In the middle of the night when he wasn’t playing my guitar, he was listening to Radio Kinshasa. We had strung a long wire on our apartment roof so we could pick up the signal. What great music we heard on his short wave radio on those nights.

    The contrast between my Zairian roommate and our american black neighbors was comical. One neighbor, Wesley, who lived two doors over, would come over to our place when he ran out of booze and drink from our gallon jug of cooking burgundy. I’ll never forget Phillipe carrying Wesley home one night after he drank too much of that wine.

    When Wesley came over drunk after that, we would give him orange juice and tell him it had vodka in it. That was enough to satisfy him.

    We often had mixed groups of African and Caribbean blacks over. Their style of conversation was very different from what this white boy was raised with. They would speak to one another with high volume. That’s just the way it was done. One person would say his piece loudly, and the next would do the same. Just a matter of culture.

    In the evenings Phillipe would lower the blinds and lock the doors. He had learned that we had high crime in the area. Can’t be too cautious.

  12. Paul: Before you go patting yourself on the back with your claim that there are no known transitional fossils (that you apparently base on a thoroughly debunked book by a shoddy pseudo-scientist who managed to nearly single handedly kill Intelligent Design in the Dover trial), you should look into 2 excellent examples:

    Whales: http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/

    And even more damning,
    Tiktaalik roseae:


    At any rate, all of humanity is a single species in evolutionary terms, so evolution has nothing to do with this argument. When we start comparing IQ between frogs, rabbits, and humans, then it might, 🙂

  13. Mistkerl: Now this is dialog!

    You happened to comment, “Before you go patting yourself on the back with your claim that there are no known transitional fossils (that you apparently base on a thoroughly debunked book by a shoddy pseudo-scientist who managed to nearly single handedly kill Intelligent Design….”

    OK, I’m not exactly sure how to respond. Nonetheless, I shall try. It sounds as though you are a believer in intelligent design. I totally agree with you if this is the case. Having dug cambrian trilobites from the Latham shale in the California desert, that correlate to the Bright Angel shale in the Grand Canyon, we probably could find common ground.

    So that I don’t remain under the power of some ‘thoroughly debunked yahoo pseudo-scientist’ and his book, I shall try and look up your references. Thank you for the reference. 😉 P.

    “….who managed to nearly single handedly kill Intelligent Design…” Dang. I gotta check this out.

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