Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications

This is the third (and probably last) post in a series. The first two posts are “Race and Reason: The Derbyshire Debacle” and “Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action.” The purpose of the series, as suggested by the titles of the posts, is to inject reason (and facts) into the discussion of race. It has been done before, of course, but it cannot hurt to add another voice to the chorus of race-realism.

Yes, I am a race-realist. I believe (based on fact) that the socioeconomic divide between blacks and other racial-ethnic groups in America is primarily a product of genetic and cultural differences that work to the general disadvantage of blacks.

I know that some readers will quickly reject what I have to say, and a lot of them will do so as soon as they reach the end of the preceding paragraph. Why? Because the facts that I present will not comport with their view of the way the world ought to be. What is the “ought to be”? Briefly, it is an imaginary world in which all races are equal in ability, and in which cultural differences hove no bearing on economic achievement. If that is your view of the world, and if you are unwilling to consider a different, fact-based view, you may stop reading now and return to the land of unreality. Before you do that, however, I want you to be aware of one important thing: My own racial views are neutral; that is, I am unprejudiced toward blacks as blacks, though I am greatly opposed to pro-black policies (as opposed to race-neutral ones), which have been harmful to black Americans as well as their countrymen. For evidence of my race-neutrality, see the note at the bottom of this post.

Then there are those readers who might agree with the facts that I present here, but who prefer to ignore them because they might “feed racism” and be used as an excuse to treat blacks as second-class citizens. Racists need no help from me or anyone else who presents the facts about the causes of the socioeconomic divide in America. Racists are immune to facts and see the world as they think it ought to be, which is free of blacks or with blacks shunted to second-class citizenship. The socioeconomic gap between blacks and other Americans cannot be shrunk by ignoring the reasons for the gap. The gap can be shrunk (though never closed) only by understanding its real causes and adopting policies that address those causes.

A note about usage: It is my practice in this blog to put “liberal” (and its variants) in quotation marks when referring to modern liberalism, which is quite a different thing than classical liberalism. The difference, of course, is that modern liberals espouse statism. In particular, they believe that what is adjudged “good” by academic-political elites should be imposed on everyone by the state. And liberty — despite its etymological relationship to the word liberal — be damned. Thus the sarcastic quotation marks, or sneer quotes. In any event, I have, in this post, omitted the quotation marks for the sake of typographical neatness. Rest assured, however, that where I use “liberal” and its variants in this post I am referring to statists and statism.

Continued below the fold.


“Introduction” sets the stage by highlighting a fatuous “social justice” campaign, whose sponsors and participants take the view that it is “unfair” to be white. It is thinking of this kind — unfettered by reality — that has led to the waste of vast sums of money; the unwonted theft of jobs,income, and property rights from whites; inter-racial resentments and hostility; and, in the end, the persistent failure of blacks to “live up to” the wishful thinking of white liberals.

Yes, there is a wide disparity between the economic achievements of whites and blacks in America. Drawing on statistics published by the U.S. government — because they must be correct, mustn’t they? — I offer graphic evidence of that gap in “White-Black Disparities in Income and Unemployment.”  The gap really is not a joking matter; it is a deadly serious tragedy for a lot of black Americans. But is it a tragedy caused by whites (and Asians and Ashkenazi Jews), or is it a tragedy in the way that an earthquake, blizzard, hurricane, or tornado is a tragedy? If the latter, why is it “unfair” to be white? Is an earthquake “unfair”?

Well, the inter-racial gap is a tragedy in the way that an earthquake, etc., is a tragedy; that is, blacks (on the whole) are disadvantaged for reasons beyond anyone’s control, except by blacks themselves, where black culture is implicated. There are inherent inter-racial differences in intelligence and and deep-seated (but impermanent) differences in culture. These differences, which appear not only within the United States but also across nations, are treated in “Intelligence: The Forbidden Word” and “What about Culture?”

In the current, politically correct regime that has been erected by liberals through legislation and indoctrination education, it is impolite to cite statistical evidence that blacks are inordinately responsible for crime. But crime (like terrorism) knows no boundaries; its victims are black and white, and among whites, liberals have not been immunized from black-on-white crime. Thus the penultimate section: “Crime: A By-product of Below-Average Intelligence and Dysfunctional Culture.” The point of the section is to underscore the deep-seated differences that I discuss in earlier sections, and to warn against complacency. Handouts and tokenism will not assuage the anger of blacks who have been led to believe — by liberals and rabble-rousers in their own ranks — that their socioeconomic status is the fault of others.

The lesson to be taken from all of this is quite clear (to me): The “race problem” in the United States cannot be solved by perpetuating pro-black programs. But the effort to convince liberals of the fruitlessness of such programs is equally fruitless. In the final section, “A Modest Proposal, Followed by a Large Does of Reality,” I offer a way out that might satisfy realists. It involves the expenditure of vast sums, for a while, but as a substitute for the expenditure of equally vast sums and much wasted effort. It offers black Americans a way out of the dependency trap into which they have been led, not unwillingly. And if they were unable to escape that trap through the route that I spell out, that would serve as incontrovertible evidence that further expenditures of money and effort would be fruitless.

But, as I explain, neither my modest proposal or anything like it is likely to get beyond the talking stage. And so I end on a realistic — and pessimistic — note, not only with respect to the “race problem” but also with respect to America’s future.


There is a new “social justice” campaign, Not Fair to Be White, sponsored by the University of Minnesota-Duluth:

The project disseminates its message, that “society was setup for us [whites]“ and as such is ”unfair,” through an aggressive campaign of online videos, billboards, and lectures. The ads feature a number of Caucasians confessing their guilt for the supposed “privilege” that comes along with their fair features.[…]

“You give me better jobs, better pay, better treatment, and a better chance – all because of the color of my skin,” reads one poster that features a close shot of a Caucasian male.

The assumption that whites fare better than blacks, on average, simply because of differences in skin coloration should be ludicrous, on its face, to any white person who has had much exposure to blacks who are not presidents, college professors, or college students. (Actually, my exposure to “our” black president and to black college students — even in the day when they were not admitted to advance “diversity” — comports with my ample exposure to “ordinary” blacks; they may be cunning and talented in some ways, but on the whole they are not as smart as whites, and certainly not as smart as Asians and Ashkenazi Jews. More about that, below.)

If blacks who play the race card to explain their lack of success are guilty of playing victim — as they are — whites who play the race card to explain their success are guilty of misplaced guilt-feelings. I will not venture a psychological explanation of such guilt-feelings, but there must be such an explanation. And it will have nothing to do with the facts, which are that the relatively low estate of American blacks is not a “legacy” of slavery, has little to do with racism, and has much to do with intelligence and culture.


There can be no doubt that white Americans earn a lot more than black Americans, on average. Table 695 of the 2012 Statistical Abstract, for example, indicates that the median income of “white alone” families was $81,434 in 2009; the median income of “black alone” families was $52,930 in the same year. (That “Asian alone” families had a median income of $101,097, despite a long history of anti-Asian prejudice and practice in the United States is an inconvenient fact that race-card players choose to ignore.) The following graph is derived from Table 695:

(Note well the shift from $10,000 intervals to $50,000 intervals at $100,000 of income.)

The graph underscores the disparity between the incomes of whites and blacks. Yes, there are many famous and highly paid black in entertainment and sports, but most blacks — unsurprisingly — earn less than whites.

Nor is it unsurprising that the unemployment rate for blacks consistently exceeds the unemployment rate for whites. The following graph — derived from statistics available at the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Series LNS14000003 and LNS14000006) — shows the number of percentage points by which the unemployment rate for blacks exceeded that for whites in 1972-2011:

Are the disparities in income and unemployment the fault of whites, and thus a proper occasion for white guilt, or do they arise from influences beyond the control of whites? I take the position that whites are not responsible, and that guilt-ridden whites are blaming themselves (and other whites) for outcomes that are driven largely by the genetic and cultural handicaps of blacks — handicaps that are beyond the control of whites.


One such handicap is found in the below-average intelligence of blacks, on average. The white-black gap in intelligence is well documented. The following is from the Wikipedia article, “Achievement Gap in the United States,” as of July 11, 2012. (I note the date because politically incorrect information has a way of disappearing from Wikipedia).

Evidence of the achievement gap can be found using various measures, but one assessment used nationwide is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The graphs below show the achievement gap on this assessment between black and white students and between Hispanic and white students in the U.S. over time. Although the gaps have generally narrowed in recent years according to this particular measure, there are clearly still large disparities between groups.

This is followed by several graphs, the most relevant of which (for the purpose of this post) are the following two. They show the differences between white and black scores at age 17 on math (first graph) and reading (second graph).

The differences at age 17 (the highest age for which scores are given) are more relevant to the question of adult achievement than are the scores at earlier ages. It is true that the white-black gaps did recede from the early 1970s until 1990 (math) and 1988 (reading), but the clear trend since (through 2004, at least) has been toward larger white-black gaps on both measures. At best, one could say that the gaps have stabilized at around 30 points.

Whether or not the white-black IQ gap has closed is a perennial subject of debate among those who specialize in such things. (See, for example, this, this, and this.) What is not under serious debate is that there has been and is a white-black gap, and that — among adults — it favors whites (on average) by about 15 IQ points. Thus:

Source: “Narrowing of the white-black IQ gap?” at Gene Expression.

The author of the post from which the preceding graph is drawn says this:

As you can see, the gap between white and black children does indeed seem to be decreasing over time. The gap between adults, however, does not show any noticeable trend. Perhaps the adults are lagging behind a true gain by blacks as a whole, but remember also that the correlation between genotypic and phenotypic IQ increases with age.

If you have concluded that the foregoing suggests a genetic cause of the persistence of an IQ gap, you would be right. In “Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability” (Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 2, 235–294), J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen write:

Based on within-race data, Figure 3 [which cannot be reproduced here] summarizes the changes with age in the proportions of the total IQ variance attributable to genetic factors and to the effects of the shared and the nonshared environment. It is based on an analysis of 6,370 monozygotic and 7,212 dizygotic twin pairs reared together (McGue, Bouchard, Iacona, & Lykken, 1993). As can be seen, the estimated proportion of IQ variance associated with shared environmental factors is relatively constant at approximately 30% for ages up to 20 years but then drops to 0% in adulthood. The estimated proportion of IQ variance associated with genetic factors increases throughout development, but especially after 20 years of age. [p. 251]


On the basis of the present evidence, perhaps the genetic component must be given greater weight and the environmental component correspondingly reduced. In fact, Jensen’s (1998b, p. 443) latest statement of the hereditarian model, termed the default hypothesis, is that genetic and cultural factors carry the exact same weight in causing the mean Black–White difference in IQ as they do in causing individual differences in IQ, about 80% genetic–20% environmental by adulthood. [p. 279]

This is from “Race and Intelligence,” at Wikipedia (as of July 11, 2012):

A 2006 study by Dickens and Flynn estimated that the black-white gap closed by about 5 or 6 IQ points between 1972 and 2002,[48] which would be a reduction by about one-third. However this was challenged by Rushton & Jensen who claim the gap remains stable.[49] Murray in a 2006 study agreed with Dickens and Flynn that there has been a narrowing of the gap, “Dickens’ and Flynn’s estimate of 3–6 IQ points from a base of about 16–18 points is a useful, though provisional, starting point”. But he argued that this has stalled and that there has been no further narrowing for people born after the late 1970s.[50] Murray found similar results in a 2007 study.[51]

In sum, the persistent inter-racial gap in IQ must be attributed, in the main, to genetic inheritance. And genetic inheritance is responsible, in the main, for inter-racial differences in economic achievement, as measured by income and unemployment. To complete the connection between economic outcomes and intelligence, I turn to La Griffe du Lion and Standardized Tests: The Interpretation of Racial and Ethnic Testing Gaps“:

Writing about test scores in the November 1993 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Duke University professor, Stanley Fish, renowned for scholarship in both law and literature, asserted: “Statistical studies have suggested that test scores reflect income and socioeconomic status. It has been demonstrated again and again that scores vary in relation to cultural background; the test’s questions assume a certain uniformity in educational experience and lifestyle and penalize those who, for whatever reason, have had a different experience and lived different kinds of lives. In short, what is being measured by the SAT is not absolutes like native ability and merit but accidents like birth, social position, access to libraries, and the opportunity to take vacations or to take SAT prep courses.”

Lani Guinier, Professor of Law at Harvard University, writing in the New York Times of June 24, 1997, argues, “But within every racial and ethnic group, test scores go up with family income. One explanation for this may be that students who come from better-off families can afford coaching for the test. Students from wealthier families also have other advantages. They are more likely to have been exposed to books and travel.”

We know that test scores go up with family income. They also improve with socioeconomic status. Both trends are observed within all ethnic and racial groups. But before you blame income and socioeconomic status for the test score gaps, consider this:

Black children from the wealthiest families have mean SAT scores lower than white children from families below the poverty line.

Thus these results (taken from appendix B):

Just to be clear about it: The children of well-to-do black parents are not as smart as the children of well-to-do Asians, whites, and Hispanics. And so on, down the income distribution. How can that be, if intelligence is mainly a matter of genetic inheritance? Because the graphs depict relationships between family income and children’s intelligence, without regard for (a) the proportion of blacks at each income level and (b) the fact that income is strongly but not entirely influenced by intelligence. (On the latter point, affirmative action and corporate tokenism raise the numbers of blacks who earn more than they would in its absence, and blacks are disproportionately represented in several, highly remunerative, professional sports.)

Why is there not an “Asian guilt” movement with respect to whites, Hispanics, and blacks, or a “Hispanic guilt” movement with respect to blacks? And why not an “Askkenazi Jew guilt” movement with respect to all of the above? Why are some whites determined to blame themselves for the failings and resentments of non-whites (e.g., American blacks and Muslim rabble)? The answer, as should be evident given the sponsorship of the “Not Fair to Be White” campaign by a branch of the University of Minnesota, is found in the incessant, decades-long effort by the left (especially the academic left) to destroy the America of traditional virtues, honest effort, and hard work. It is the capitalist paradox at work:

Schumpeter argued the economic systems that encourage entrepreneurship and development will eventually produce enough wealth to support large classes of individuals who have no involvement in the wealth-creation process. This generates apathy or even disgust for market institutions, which leads to the gradual takeover of business by bureaucracy, and eventually to full-blown socialism.

I have focused, thus far, on evidence about the connections intelligence, race, and income in America. International statistics lend credence to the idea of such a connection.

Several years ago, I found that the economic vitality of a nation depends mainly on three things: the rule of law, free trade, and the average IQ of the nation’s citizens. I based this conclusion on statistical analyses of data for 59 countries. (I excluded Communist and formerly Communist countries, which then generally underperformed their non-Communist counterparts.) I used the indices of economic freedom for 2000 from Economic Freedom of the World (published by The Fraser Institute of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) and 1998 data for average national IQ and GDP per capita published by La Griffe du Lion, who derived the data from an article by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen: “National IQ and Economic Development: A study of Eighty-One Developing Nations” (Mankind Quarterly, Summer 2001).

I correlated GDP per capita with the various indices of economic freedom. Based on those correlations and some preliminary regression analyses, I found that GDP per capita is explained by verbal IQ and two indices of economic freedom: The rule of law (Area 2: Legal Structure and Security of Property Rights) has a significantly positive effect on GDP per capita; the mean tariff rate (Area 4.A.ii) has a significantly negative effect on GDP per capita. The rule of law is a measure of the independence and integrity of the judicial system and the degree to which intellectual property rights are protected. The use of law to regulate the economy is captured in various other indices, of which the tariff rate is one.  The resulting regression equation:

Real GDP per capita (in 1998 dollars) =

23518 + 2316 x index for rule of law – 260 x index for mean tariff rate + 253 x average IQ

(For the statistically minded, the R-squared of the regression is 0.89; the coefficients on the intercept and explanatory variables are significant at well above the 1-percent level, as is the F-value for the regression.)

The equation means that an increase of 11 IQ points (the standard deviation of IQ for the 59 nations) causes a 25 percent increase in GDP per capita. I am therefore unsurprised by the following table, which lists the 12 countries with the highest GDP per capita in 1998 and the 12 countries with the lowest GDP per capita in 1998:

Real GDP per capita Country Average verbal IQ
29,605 United States 98
26,342 Norway 98
25,512 Switzerland 101
24,218 Denmark 98
24,210 Singapore 103
23,582 Canada 97
23,257 Japan 98.5
23,223 Belgium 100
23,166 Austria 102
22,452 Australia 98
22,176 Netherlands 102
22,169 Germany 102
*** *** ***
1,735 Ghana 71
1,394 Sudan 72
1,157 Nepal 78
1,074 Uganda 73
995 Congo (Brazzaville) 73
980 Kenya 72
822 Congo 65
795 Nigeria 67
719 Zambia 77
574 Ethiopia 63
480 Tanzania 72
458 Sierra Leone 64

I leave it to the reader to spot the racial differences between the top 12 and bottom 12 countries. And, yes, I know that all of the numbers used in the analysis are rough estimates, but that does not vitiate the general conclusion to which a perceptive reader surely must be drawn about the the connection between genes and intelligence.

(Ron Unz, writing in “Race, IQ, and Wealth” on July 18, 2012, at The American Conservative — a woefully misnamed blog — offers a critique of the Lynn-Vanhanen thesis and the statistics on which it rests. But Unz’s critique is limited to disparities in the measurement of the IQs of some European populations, over time. Those disparities, however large they may be in a few cases, do not vitiate the large gap between European IQs and African IQs. Nor does Unz address that gap. And, as Unz acknowledges, “Lynn and Vanhanen … argue that IQ is at least 80 percent hereditary.” Not 100 percent, but 80 percent, which leaves considerable room for environmental influences.

UPDATE (07/30/12): For much more about Unz’s half-baked attempt to discredit Lynn and Vanhanen, go here.

UPDATE (08/02/12): Richard Lynn replies at length, here. Lynn concludes:

An unsatisfactory feature of Mr. Unz’s article is that although he disagrees with our position that there is a significant genetic determination of national IQs and that these have an effect on per capita income, he has nothing to say about the national IQ-per capita income relation as a world-wide phenomenon. He confines his discussion to IQ and per capita income differences in Europe, the IQ in Israel, and the IQs of Mexicans in the United States. These are minor parts of our work, in which we have shown an association between national IQs, race, and per capita income world wide and in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps Mr. Unz believes that in all these places environmental factors can explain the national and racial IQ differences, and that all races and nations have the same genetic IQ. Does he believe that sub-Saharan Africans (IQ: 67) and Australian Aborigines (IQ: 62) will achieve the same IQs and per capita incomes as Europeans in two or three generations? Readers of this exchange will no doubt look forward to seeing Mr. Unz’ answers to these questions.

As I say above,

Unz’s critique is limited to disparities in the measurement of the IQs of some European populations, over time. Those disparities, however large they may be in a few cases, do not vitiate the large gap between European IQs and African IQs. Nor does Unz address that gap.

UPDATE (08/04/12): Unz responds to Lynn, here. Unz’s response is mostly nit-picking and of no consequence. Unz fails to respond to Lynn’s key point:

[Unz] confines his discussion to IQ and per capita income differences in Europe, the IQ in Israel, and the IQs of Mexicans in the United States. These are minor parts of our work, in which we have shown an association between national IQs, race, and per capita income world wide and in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps Mr. Unz believes that in all these places environmental factors can explain the national and racial IQ differences, and that all races and nations have the same genetic IQ. Does he believe that sub-Saharan Africans (IQ: 67) and Australian Aborigines (IQ: 62) will achieve the same IQs and per capita incomes as Europeans in two or three generations? Readers of this exchange will no doubt look forward to seeing Mr. Unz’ answers to these questions.

And so do I.

UPDATE (08/06/12): Steven Pinker weighs in. In effect, he supports Lynn’s position, but keeps his distance because Lynn is considered a racist by “mainstream” standards: “Lynn’s hypothesis [about genetic variance across countries]  is anathema to 99.99% of psychologists and, for that matter, academics.” Of course it is, because it clearly implies that blacks who live in sub-Saharan Africa or have genetic traits characteristic of the inhabitants of that region are inherently less intelligent that persons who derive from other regions of the world. That would not do in a world where everyone is born equal, regardless of their genetic endowments, would it? But, as Pinker goes on to say,

[Unz] suggest[s] that the evidence for a genetic contribution to variance within groups (as opposed to between groups) is based solely on a small sample of monozygotic twins reared apart. This is not true. It is based on a vast amount of data, including comparisons of identical and fraternal twins reared together, comparisons of biological versus adopted siblings, studies of full- versus half-siblings, studies of inbreeding depression, and other data. Many of these samples are enormous, coming from countries that administer IQ tests to every schoolchild and draftee and make the data available to researchers.

If there is variance among groups because of genetic contributions, why not between groups? Or is it merely a statistically improbably coincidence that in eight consecutive Olympics a non-black has not made it to the finals of the 100-meter dash? If certain athletic traits are genetically determined and, therefore, racially differentiated, why not other traits, like intelligence?

UPDATE (08/10/12): Of course, there is strong evidence for significant, evolutionary differences between geographically dispersed groupings of people. Consider the work of Dr. Bruce Lahn, a geneticist at the University of Chicago:

His research on the brain size gene, MCPH1, led to the hypothesis that an archaic homo sapiens lineage such as the Neanderthals might have contributed to the recent development of the human brain.[2] His research also suggested that newly arisen variants of two brain size genes, ASPM and MCPH1, might have been favored by positive natural selection in the recent human history.[3] This research provoked controversy due to the finding that the positively selected variants of these genes had spread to higher frequencies in some parts of the world than in others (for ASPM, it is higher in Europe and surrounding regions than other parts of the world; for MCPH1, it is higher outside sub-Saharan Africa than inside).[4] He has advocated the moral position that human genetic diversity should be embraced and celebrated as among humanity’s great assets.[5]

A long excerpt of his paper, “Let’s celebrate human genetic diversity” (Nature 461, 726-728, 8 October 2009; behind a paywall) is available here:

Genetic diversity is the differences in DNA sequence among members of a species. It is present in all species owing to the interplay of mutation, genetic drift, selection and population structure. When a species is reproductively isolated into multiple groups by geography or other means, the groups differentiate over time in their average genetic make-up.

Anatomically modern humans first appeared in eastern Africa about 200,000 years ago. Some members migrated out of Africa by 50,000 years ago to populate Asia, Australia, Europe and eventually the Americas9. During this period, geographic barriers separated humanity into several major groups, largely along continental lines, which greatly reduced gene flow among them. Geographic and cultural barriers also existed within major groups, although to lesser degrees.

This history of human demography, along with selection, has resulted in complex patterns of genetic diversity. The basic unit of this diversity is polymorphisms — specific sites in the genome that exist in multiple variant forms (or alleles). Many polymorphisms involve just one or a few nucleotides, but some may involve large segments of genetic material2. The presence of polymorphisms leads to genetic diversity at the individual level such that no two people’s DNA is the same, except identical twins. The alleles of some polymorphisms are also found in significantly different frequencies among geographic groups1, 5. An extreme example is the pigmentation gene SLC24A5. An allele of SLC24A5 that contributes to light pigmentation is present in almost all Europeans but is nearly absent in east Asians and Africans10.

Given these geographically differentiated polymorphisms, it is possible to group humans on the basis of their genetic make-up. Such grouping largely confirms historical separation of global populations by geography5. Indeed, a person’s major geographic group identity can be assigned with near certaintly on the basis of his or her DNA alone (now an accepted practice in forensics). There is growing evidence that some of the geographically differentiated polymorphisms are functional, meaning that they can lead to different biological outcomes (just how many is the subject of ongoing research). These polymorphisms can affect traits such as pigmentation, dietary adaptation and pathogen resistance (where evidence is rather convincing)10, 11, 12, and metabolism, physical development and brain biology (where evidence is more preliminary)6, 8, 13, 14.

For most biological traits, genetically based differentiation among groups is probably negligible compared with the variation within the group. For other traits, such as pigmentation and lactose intolerance, differences among groups are so substantial that the trait displays an inter-group difference that is non-trivial compared with the variance within groups, and the extreme end of a trait may be significantly over-represented in a group.

Several studies have shown that many genes in the human genome may have undergone recent episodes of positive selection — that is, selection for advantageous biological traits6. This is contrary to the position advocated by some scholars that humans effectively stopped evolving 50,000–40,000 years ago15. In general, positive selection can increase the prevalence of functional polymorphisms and create geographic differentiation of allele frequencies.

What does it add up to? This:

The data showed that evolution had continued in recent millennia. A statistical analysis of DNA patterns suggested that new mutations in each of the two brain-related genes had spread quickly through some human populations. Evidently, these mutations were advantageous among those populations — just as the genetic variant promoting milk digestion was advantageous to early Europeans. Dr. Lahn and his team further observed that the new mutations are found most frequently outside of Africa.

What the data didn’t say was how the mutations were advantageous. Perhaps the genes play a role outside of the brain or affect a brain function that has nothing to do with intelligence.

While acknowledging that the evidence doesn’t permit a firm conclusion, Dr. Lahn favors the idea that the advantage conferred by the mutations was a bigger and smarter brain. He found ways to suggest that in his papers. One mutation, which according to his estimates arose some 40,000 years ago, coincided with the first art found in caves, the paper observed. The other mutation, present mostly in people from the Middle East and Europe, and estimated to be 5,800 years old, coincided with the “development of cities and written language.”

That suggested brain evolution might have occurred in tandem with important cultural changes. Yet because neither variant is common in sub-Saharan Africa, there was another potential implication: Some groups had been left out. [Antonio Regalado, “Scientist’s Study Of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash,” WSJ Online, June 16, 2006]

Regalado adds, unsurprisingly:

Dr. Lahn stands by his work but says that because of the controversy [it engendered] he is moving into other projects. Earlier this year, Mr. Easton of the university’s media department forwarded Dr. Lahn a paper by two economists looking at the IQ of infants of different races. Dr. Lahn wasn’t interested. “I’m surprised anyone studies this,” he replied in an email.

The resistance to anything that casts doubt on the essential, biological equality of races reminds me very much of the orthodoxy that prevails on the subject of “global warming.”

If you want to read for yourself about the long, convoluted, diffuse, and still controversial evolutionary chains that eventuated in the sub-species (homo sapiens sapiens), to which all humans are assigned arbitrarily, without regard for their distinctive differences, begin here, here, here, and here. It is said that, despite those differences, all humans have in common 96 percent of their genes. Well, if I told you that humans and chimpanzees have about the same percentage of their genes in common, would you consider chimpanzees to be nothing more than superficially different human beings?

UPDATE (08/10/12): Ron Unz has broken the silence that followed Steven Pinker’s missive. Unz, however, has nothing useful to add to the discussion. He assiduously neglects to address the persistent white-black IQ gap in America, evidence of which is the black-white IQ gap in the world that cannot be erased by focusing on variations in measurements of European IQs. (And only a dunce like Unz would believe the Europeans are genetically identical, anyway.) He gives the game away in this paragraph:

Thus, I am hardly ruling out all possible genetic or biological explanations for IQ differences, but merely arguing that these usually seem far smaller than Lynn and his ardent admirers appear to believe, especially in those cases—such as among relatively affluent European populations—in which our actual data seems most solid and reliable, and least likely to be heavily distorted by horrific levels of physical and cultural deprivation.

“Horrific levels of physical and cultural deprivation” is a reference to sub-Saharan Africa, of course. But what is the cause of the “physical and cultural deprivation”? Is it not, to a large degree, an inability and unwillingness to do what might have been done to create the conditions for physical and cultural betterment? And whence the inability and unwillingness? The answer: a lower level of intelligence than that which is found among the inhabitants of other regions of the world, some of which are almost dauntingly bleak and inhospitable. Survival in a bleak and inhospitable environment weeds out persons of low intelligence. As I say elsewhere in this post: Life is an IQ test.

UPDATE (08/11/12): A source I linked to in the update of 07/30/12 (hbd chick) has more to say about the “unbelievable” Ron Unz.

UPDATE (08/13/12): John Ray weighs in.

UPDATE (08/22/12): Add this to the first update of 08/10/12 — yet another bit of evidence that confounds the neat picture of humankind as a single species: “Significant human skull found in S.E. Asia.”

UPDATE (07/23/13): Among many responses to Unz’s “Race, IQ, and Wealth” that I neglected to cite are Anatoly Karlin’s “Did Ron Unz Score an Own Goal Too?” (yes), Peter Ford’s “Ron Unz on Race, IQ, and Wealth,” and an earlier entry by John Ray, which concludes with this:

One IQ difference that I have no doubt about, however, is the most incendiary and “incorrect” one of all:  The black/white difference.  It is at once multiply replicated and multiply validated.  To put that another way,  it always emerges in any examination of it and blacks behave exactly as you would expect a low IQ group to behave, with appallingly low levels of occupational, economic and educational achievement and appallingly high levels of criminality.  They are so bad at getting what they want by legitimate means that they very frequently resort to crime to get some semblance of what they want.  And that applies not only to African-Americans but also to Africans in Africa, Africans in Britain and Africans everywhere.

And American academics and educators have run themselves ragged trying to get black educational achievement up to white levels. They have tried everything conceivable for many years without success.  IQ and educational achievement are highly correlated but among blacks the IQ required for a high level of educational achievement is usually just not there.

Ray’s remarks are especially apt in light of black-leftist outrage because George Zimmerman was rightly acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, as I have written here.

(End of updates.)


A corollary of the preceding discussion is that environment — which encompasses such things as family income, schooling, and inculcated attitudes toward learning and accomplishment — has little effect on economic outcomes. Rather, economic outcomes largely reflect intelligence, which is mainly an inherited trait, and one that varies significantly among broad racial categories. If culture has an explanatory role to play, it is because cultural differences can reinforce genetic ones.

Thomas Sowell is a black, conservative scholar with whom I find myself in vast agreement on economic and social issues. Sowell does not concede that inter-racial differences in economic achievement are due mainly to inter-racial differences in intelligence. The following quotations are from Sowell’s three-part essay, “Race and IQ” (part I, part II, part III), published at Townhall.com:

…[My] research showed that the average IQ difference between black and white Americans — 15 points — was nothing unusual. Similar IQ differences could be found between various culturally isolated white communities and the general society, both in the United States and in Britain. Among various groups in India, mental test differences were slightly greater than those between blacks and whites in the United States.

In recent years, research by Professor James R. Flynn, an American expatriate living in New Zealand, has shaken up the whole IQ controversy by discovering what has been called “the Flynn effect.” In various countries around the world, people have been answering significantly more IQ test questions correctly than in the past.

This important fact has been inadvertently concealed by the practice of changing the norms on IQ tests, so that the average number of correctly answered questions remains by definition an IQ of 100. Only by painstakingly going back and recalculating IQs, based on the initial norms, was Professor Flynn able to discover that whole nations had, in effect, had their IQs rising over the decades by about 20 points.

Since the black-white difference in IQ is 15 points, this means that an even larger IQ difference has existed between different generations of the same race, making it no longer necessary to attribute IQ differences of this magnitude to genetics. In the half century between 1945 and 1995, black Americans’ raw test scores rose by the equivalent of 16 IQ points.

In other words, black Americans’ test score results in 1995 would have given them an average IQ just over 100 in 1945. Only the repeated renorming of IQ tests upward created the illusion that blacks had made no progress, but were stuck at an IQ of 85….

But they were “stuck” at an average IQ of about 15 points below that of the average IQ for whites.

Returning to Sowell:

Professor John McWhorter, a black faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley, has made a suggestion that is explosive in itself and directly the opposite of what is being said by those who are seeking to promote lower college admissions standards for blacks through affirmative action.

One of the reasons given for wanting more black students on a given campus, even if that means lowering admissions standards, is the claim that a certain number of blacks — a “critical mass” — on campus is necessary, in order for these students to feel comfortable enough to relax and do their best work. It sounds plausible, but lots of things have sounded plausible.

Professor McWhorter says just the opposite in his book “Losing the Race.” According to McWhorter, anti-intellectualism in the black culture keeps many black youngsters from doing their best. If he is right, then creating a critical mass is creating a bigger handicap for black students.

There have been many media stories about hard-working black school children being ostracized, or even threatened with or subjected to violence, for “acting white” by trying to succeed academically. Creating a critical mass with that attitude is unlikely to help anyone.

More direct factual evidence is available, however. A study of the effect of an increased proportion of black students in a racially integrated school found little effect of this on the academic performances of most other students — except for high-ability black students, whose performances declined.

Another study, about the effects of ability-grouping, found that high-ability students performed better when put into classes with other high-ability students — and that this was especially so with high-ability minority students. In other words, a critical mass of students sorted by high ability did more for bright minority students than a critical mass of students sorted by race….

…[T]here have always been gaps between the development of one people and another, even if their relative positions did not remain the same permanently, and even if their genes had nothing to do with it….

…[I]n a world where whole nations have in effect raised their IQs by 20 points in one generation [through the Flynn effect], it is time for black “leaders” and white “friends” to stop trying to discredit the tests and get on with the job of improving the skills that the tests measure.

A number of black schools, even in rundown ghettos, have already reached or exceeded national norms on tests, so there is no question that it can be done. The question is whether it will in fact be done, on a large enough scale to change the abysmal educational results in too many predominantly black schools….

Given the persistent white-black IQ gap — despite the (probably bogus) Flynn effect — Sowell’s qualitative argument for the importance of culture as a determinant of blacks’ academic and economic achievements does not remove race from the equation. Rather, Sowell’s argument suggests the following: Racial differences are cultural as well as genetic. If a culture has negative consequences for economic achievement, and if the culture is deep-seated and persistent, it will reinforce negative genetic predispositions (i.e., generally lower intelligence).

Yes, but are there not vicious and virtuous cycles at work? Certain combinations of genes and culture yield relatively low incomes; low incomes lead to diets that are low in nutrition; such diets mean that genetic potential is not fully realized); the failure to realize genetic potential leads to low incomes; and round and round the vicious cycle goes. The virtuous cycle, on the other hand begins with certain combinations of genes and culture that yield relatively high incomes; relatively high incomes lead to diets that are high in nutrition; and so on. And, surely, the same vicious and virtuous cycles are at work within nations, which would explain, in large part, the disparity between white and black incomes.

Such vicious and virtuous cycles undoubtedly exist, but where do they begin? They begin with genes and culture. Nothing else would seem to explain the disparity between the top 12 countries and the bottom 12 countries (discussed above). Most of the latter are in regions that are inherently fertile and ripe with exploitable mineral resources.

The importance of culture is seen in the experience of American blacks who have prospered in the intellectual professions (as opposed to sports and entertainment) by eschewing the “black redneck” culture of which Sowell writes so eloquently:

Black identity has become a hot item in the movies, on television, and in the schools and colleges. But few people are aware of how much of what passes as black identity today, including “black English,” has its roots in the history of those whites who were called “rednecks” and “crackers” centuries ago in Britain, before they ever crossed the Atlantic and settled in the South….

Violence was far more common in the South — and in those parts of Britain from which Southerners came. So was illegitimacy, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery. All of this would become part of the cultural legacy of blacks, who lived for centuries in the midst of the redneck culture of the South.

That culture was as notable for what it did not have as for what it had. It did not emphasize education, for example, or intellectual interests in general.

Illiteracy was far more common among whites in the antebellum South than among whites in the North, and of course the blacks held in bondage in the South were virtually all illiterate. On into the early 20th century, Southern whites scored lower on mental tests than whites in other parts of the country, as blacks continued to do.

Many aspects of Southern life that some observers have attributed to race or racism, or to slavery, were common to Southern blacks and whites alike — and were common in those parts of Britain from which Southern whites came, where there were no slaves and where most people had never seen anyone black.

Most Southern blacks and whites moved away from that redneck culture over the generations, as its consequences proved to be counterproductive or even disastrous. But it survives today among the poorest and least educated ghetto blacks….

White liberals come into this story because, since the 1960s, they have been aiding and abetting a counterproductive ghetto lifestyle that is essentially a remnant of the redneck culture which handicapped Southern whites and blacks alike for generations.

Many among the intelligentsia portray the black redneck culture today as the only “authentic” black culture and even glamorize it. They denounce any criticism of the ghetto lifestyle or any attempt to change it.

Teachers are not supposed to correct black youngsters who speak “black English” and no one is supposed to be judgmental about the whole lifestyle of black rednecks. In that culture, belligerence is considered being manly and crudity is considered cool, while being civilized is regarded as “acting white.”

These are devastating, self-imposed handicaps that prevent many young ghetto blacks from getting a decent education or an opportunity to rise to higher levels.

Multiculturalism today celebrates all cultures but it is the poor who ultimately pay the price of that celebration in stunted development, missed opportunities and blighted lives.

No one today would dare to do what Northern missionaries did after the Civil War, set up schools for newly freed black children in the South with the explicit purpose of removing them from the redneck culture that was holding back both races there.

A wholly disproportionate number of future black leaders and pioneers in many fields came out of the relatively few and small enclaves of Northern culture deliberately planted in the post-Civil War South. What they did worked and what the multiculturalists are doing today repeatedly fails…. [“Black rednecks and white liberals,” Townhall.com, May 5, 2005]

Sowell has the right idea but he begins in the wrong place, as Steve Sailer observes in “Tom Sowell’s ‘Black Redneck’ Theory–Ingenious but Insufficient” at VDare.com:

Oddly enough, Sowell curtly dismisses the least-remarked but most distinctive influence on African-Americans: that they are Americans from Africa.

In tribute to Steven Pinker’s book The Blank Slate, I call this tendency to ignore the African in African-American, to assume that they brought no traits with them, the Black Slate Theory.

Americans pay little attention to Africa these days. But, as the inscription at the beginning of Sowell’s new book, points out:

“We do not live in the past, but the past in us.”

Sowell’s own autobiography shows the survival of characteristically African patterns.

For example, when he was an infant, Sowell’s mother and father, who was dying, gave him to his great-aunt to raise. He didn’t know he had several siblings until he was about 16.

This fostering out of the young is much more common among African-Americans than among whites. It’s also much more common in Sub-Saharan Africa than in Europe, according to the distinguished political scientist James Q. Wilson in his 2002 book The Marriage Problem:

[M]any West Africans regard fosterage as a perfectly acceptable means of raising children. Families there approve of delegating parental roles to other people, often beginning at a quite early age.”

Perhaps the worst social problem of African-Americans: the culture that African-Americans brought with them from Africa is one of low paternal investment. Traditionally, an African husband was not much expected to bring home the bacon for the wife and kids. Today, this is reflected in the very high American black illegitimacy rate—currently about two out of three children are born out of wedlock.

Anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy of UC Davis wrote in Mother Nature:

“Many fathers are only sporadically in residence with the mothers of their children; and fathers, when they are on the scene, may be unpredictable regarding which children they invest in, and how much. A substantial number of women conceive at a young age, often prior to marriage or formation of any stable relationship… relatively few fathers provide a great deal of care.”

While this may sound like inner city black neighborhoods in the U.S., she’s actually describing “large areas of sub-Saharan Africa.”

The anthropologists Jack Goody and Ester Boserup first explored how continental differences in raising food affected family structure. Boserup noted in 1970:

“Africa is the region of female farming par excellence. In many African tribes, nearly all the tasks connected with food production continue to be left to women.”

James Q. Wilson summarized their findings:

“In Europe, where animal-drawn plows were used to farm rich land, intensive agriculture made monogamy important… In these places, men did much of the agricultural work … 

In much of Africa, by contrast, farming was done by handheld hoes used to work small plots of land that were often rather infertile. Women were widely used to do the hoeing and carry in the produce.

Many husbands found that they could use extra wives to wield even more hoes, and so marrying several women made sense economically… the conditions they describe may have had important consequences for the kinds of families that had to endure the travails of slavery in the Western Hemisphere.”

This tropical farming system causes African cultures to tend toward polygamy and/or matrilineal-matrilocal family structures. These tendencies can still be seen among African-Americans.

Outside of the tropics, you have to be the Emperor of China or the equivalent to be able to afford a huge number of wives, along with the eunuch guards and all the other expensive rigmarole that go along with maintaining a harem.

But, in systems of tropical agriculture where land was traditionally cheap and most of the work is weeding, which women can do as well as men—as opposed to manhandling draft animals for plowing—you sometimes see handsome men with 50 or more wives.

Of course, the Big Man can’t afford to keep them locked up in harems. So he puts them to work in the fields, where they can produce enough to support themselves and their children.

Now, the 49 local bachelors who are left over are going to try hard to lure the polygamist’s wives out of the fields and into the bushes. So many of the children born to the Big Man’s wives might not be his genetic offspring. But their mothers can support them—which means that some cuckoo’s eggs aren’t that big of a loss to him.

Likewise, “matrifocal” families are also more common in African cultures. For example, the University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending, who lived with various African tribes for 42 months, recounts that once, when he was about to set out on a dangerous journey through lion country, his worried hosts asked him, “To whom should we send your property in case you are eaten?”

“Uh, to my wife, of course,” Henry replied, puzzled.

“To your wife!” the tribespeople exclaimed, aghast at his lack of ordinary human decency.“Why don’t you want your property to go to your family instead?”

By “family,” they meant Henry’s birth family—rather than his marriage family.

Where there is low certainty of paternity, it’s not too uncommon for the mother’s brother to play a major role as the adult male in the lives of the mother’s children. After all, he knows for sure that he’s at least the half-uncle of his sister’s kids. In contrast, her husband might have no genetic relationship to them. These sometimes are “matrilocal” families where the brother lives with his sister and her children, while her husband and other lovers may live with their female kin….

Sub-Saharan African husbands are less likely to do what it takes to keep their wives sexually faithful, such as working hard to provide for them. Thus Emily Wax wrote in the Washington Post:

“[W]omen perform 80 percent of daily work, according to studies by African gender groups …”

These men get cuckolded a lot. In turn, they put even less effort into providing for their wives’ children, since the odds are lower that they are also their own children.

This logic all makes perfect sense—and it also goes a long way toward explaining why Africa is so poor.

Still, African-American family structures tend to fall midway between African and white American norms. America’s dominant culture had actually succeeded fairly well in inculcating monogamy and bring-home-the-bacon traditions in African-Americans by about 1960, when it suddenly lost its self-confidence.

The government then began funding, via Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the traditional African tendency toward mothers supporting their children without much help from their fathers. And society stopped stigmatizing having children out of wedlock.

Our ignorance of African-Americans’ African heritage proved costly. In effect, America imported a welfare policy— paying generous welfare benefits to single mothers—that had worked reasonably well in Scandinavia for a generation. Yet, within two or three years, illegitimacy and crime rates among African-Americans were soaring—because they didn’t respond to the new incentives like Swedes. The black illegitimacy rate shot upward from 22 percent in the mid-Sixties to 70 percent by the early Nineties. Fortunately, in the harder-headed atmosphere of the last ten years, the rate has drifted down.

Tom Sowell does not like to evade facts and logic—for example, unlike other Conservatives Establishment luminaries, he wrote respectfully of Peter Brimelow’s immigration book Alien Nation in 1995. Perhaps he will explore the relationship between African and African-American cultures in his next book.

In sum, the vicious cultural cycle that entraps so many black American probably began in Africa, not in the “redneck” culture of the South. Nor is the cultural cycle the product of slavery or racism, except to the extent that white liberals — guilt-ridden or not — have done their best to perpetuate the cycle through various income subsidies; a host of special programs aimed at “bettering” blacks; forms of favoritism like affirmative action, “diversity” programs, “affordable housing”; and more.

These products of liberalism represent racism of the rankest kind because they treat blacks like children who must be pampered and protected from the real world — to the detriment of blacks. If racism is to blame for the plight of American blacks, it is the paternalistic racism practiced by white liberals.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan explained well the contributions of liberal paternalism to what he called “he cycle of poverty and disadvantage” among urban blacks. For his pains, he was labeled a “racist” and accused of “blaming the victim.” The evidence of subsequent history is on Moynihan’s side.

Can the effects of genetic and cultural heredity be separated cleanly? Probably not. This is from Matt Ridley’s article “Is IQ in the Genes? Twins Give Us Two Answers” (Online WSJ.com, June 22, 2012):

These days the heritability of intelligence is not in doubt: Bright adults are more likely to have bright kids. The debate was not always this calm. In the 1970s, suggesting that IQ could be inherited at all was a heresy in academia, punishable by the equivalent of burning at the stake.

More than any other evidence, it was the study of twins that brought about this change. “Born Together—Reared Apart,” a new book by Nancy L. Segal about the Minnesota study of Twins Reared Apart (Mistra), narrates the history of the shift. In 1979, Thomas Bouchard of the University of Minnesota came across a newspaper report about a set of Ohio twins, separated at birth, who had been reunited and proved to possess uncannily similar habits. Dr. Bouchard began to collect case histories of twins raised apart and to invite them to Minneapolis for study….

Today, a third of a century after the study began and with other studies of reunited twins having reached the same conclusion, the numbers are striking. Monozygotic twins raised apart are more similar in IQ (74%) than dizygotic (fraternal) twins raised together (60%) and much more than parent-children pairs (42%); half-siblings (31%); adoptive siblings (29%-34%); virtual twins, or similarly aged but unrelated children raised together (28%); adoptive parent-child pairs (19%) and cousins (15%). Nothing but genes can explain this hierarchy.

But as Drs. Bouchard and Segal have been at pains to point out from the start, this high heritability of intelligence mainly applies to nonpoor families. Raise a child hungry or diseased and environment does indeed affect IQ. Eric Turkheimer and others at the University of Virginia have shown that in the most disadvantaged families, heritability of IQ falls and the influence attributed to the shared family environment rises to 60%.

In other words, hygienic, well-fed life enables people to maximize their genetic potential so that the only variation left is innate. Intelligence becomes significantly more heritable when environmental hurdles to a child’s development have been dismantled….

But this means, at best, raising blacks (on the whole) closer to average intelligence, without ever getting there. Blacks are more likely than whites to inherit below-average intelligence. It is hard to rise from a low socioeconomic status with below-average intelligence, especially against the forces of environment (culture) and dependency on government. If the white-black achievement gap is not due strictly to the below-average intelligence of blacks, it is due to the reciprocal relationship between below-average intelligence and a dysfunctional culture.

It is up to blacks, and blacks alone, to rid themselves of the dysfunctional aspects of black culture. But it seems unlikely that blacks will do so, for — as many have observed — life is an IQ test.


Is there ironclad evidence for an inverse relationship between IQ and crime? No, but there is plenty of strong evidence for the relationship. See, for example, the discussion of IQ and crime (as of July 11, 2012)  in the Wikipedia article, “Intelligence quotient“:

The American Psychological Association‘s 1995 report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns stated that the correlation between IQ and crime was -0.2. It was -0.19 between IQ scores and number of juvenile offenses in a large Danish sample; with social class controlled, the correlation dropped to -0.17. A correlation of 0.20 means that the explained variance is less than 4%. It is important to realize that the causal links between psychometric ability and social outcomes may be indirect. Children with poor scholastic performance may feel alienated. Consequently, they may be more likely to engage in delinquent behavior, compared to other children who do well.[39]

In his book The g Factor (1998), Arthur Jensen cited data which showed that, regardless of race, people with IQs between 70 and 90 have higher crime rates than people with IQs below or above this range, with the peak range being between 80 and 90.

The 2009 Handbook of Crime Correlates stated that reviews have found that around eight IQ points, or 0.5 SD, separate criminals from the general population, especially for persistent serious offenders. It has been suggested that this simply reflects that “only dumb ones get caught” but there is similarly a negative relation between IQ and self-reported offending. That children with conduct disorder have lower IQ than their peers “strongly argues” for the theory.[80]

A study of the relationship between US county-level IQ and US county-level crime rates found that higher average IQs were associated with lower levels of property crime, burglary, larceny rate, motor vehicle theft, violent crime, robbery, and aggravated assault. These results were not “confounded by a measure of concentrated disadvantage that captures the effects of race, poverty, and other social disadvantages of the county.”[81]

There is a more complete survey of statistical studies in “Intelligence and Crime” at Encyclopedia.com. The same article refers to evidence that the inverse relationship is a general one:

IQ and crime are significantly correlated within race and class groups as well as when statistically controlling for race, class, test-taking ability, and test-taking motivation (e.g., Hirschi and Hindelang; Lynam et al.).

As for the causal relationship between IQ and crime, the article posits two credible explanations and a possibility worth considering:

[One] causal explanation emphasizes the importance of intelligence—especially verbal intelligence—during childhood socialization. The socialization of children involves constant verbal communication and comprehension of abstract symbols; therefore, children with poor verbal and cognitive skills have greater difficulty completing the socialization process, which puts them at risk of undercontrolled, antisocial behavior. Empirical studies overall have supported this developmental hypothesis (Moffitt, p. 116), and it fits with the especially strong correlation between verbal IQ and crime.

[Another] causal explanation links IQ to crime through school performance. Less intelligent students do less well in school, which results in academic frustration. This frustration, in turn, weakens their attachment and commitment to schooling, and a weakened bond to school, as per social control theory, allows for more criminal behavior (Hirschi and Hindelang). This school-performance hypothesis has received strong support from empirical studies, and it is probably the most widely accepted explanation of the IQ-crime correlation (Moffitt).

One last approach to IQ and crime deserves mention even though few criminological studies have examined it. Rather than low IQ increasing criminal behavior, criminal behavior might decrease IQ. Many facets of a criminal lifestyle can impair cognitive abilities, including physical injuries, especially head traumas, drug use, and withdrawing from school (Moffitt).

There may be a deeper genetic explanation, one that links crime directly to race (which is also a determinant of IQ):

We have found, in both human and non-human animals, that darker pigmentation is associated with higher levels of aggression and sexuality (and in humans with lower IQ). Lighter pigmentation is associated with the slow reproductive strategy … including lower birth rates, less infant mortality, less violent crime, less HIV/AIDS, plus higher IQ, higher income, and greater longevity. [J. Philippe Rushton and Donald I. Templer, “Do pigmentation and the melanocortin system modulate aggression and sexuality in humans as they do in other animals?,” Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 53, Issue 1, July 2012, pp. 4-8]

Whatever the causal relationship, the relationship between race and crime shows up in crime statistics. This, for example, is from a post of mine, “Crime Explained” (Liberty Corner, November 9, 2007):

VPC (violent+property crimes per 100,000 persons) =


+346837BLK (number of blacks as a decimal fraction of the population)

-3040.46GRO (previous year’s change in real GDP per capita, as a decimal fraction of the base)

-1474741PRS (the number of inmates in federal and State prisons in December of the previous year, as a decimal fraction of the previous year’s population)

The t-statistics on the intercept and coefficients are 19.017, 21.564, 1.210, and 17.253, respectively; the adjusted R-squared is 0.923; the standard error of the estimate/mean value of VPC = 0.076….

Even though the coefficient on GRO isn’t strongly significant, it isn’t negligible, and the sign is right — as are the signs on BLK and PRS….

It is true — as liberals like to remind everyone — that most of the victims of crimes committed by blacks are other blacks. Here is the proper response to that bit of racist “logic”: So what, does the race of the victim somehow diminish or excuse the crime?

There is, however, an additional kind of black-on-white crime that seems to have become more frequent in recent years. John Derbyshire warns about it in the infamous column that led to his firing by National Review, namely, “The Talk: Nonblack Version” (Taki’s Magazine, April 5, 2012). Here are relevant excerpts of Derbyshire’s article:

(6) As you go through life … you will experience an ever larger number of encounters with black Americans. Assuming your encounters are random—for example, not restricted only to black convicted murderers or to black investment bankers—the Law of Large Numbers will inevitably kick in. You will observe that the means—the averages—of many traits are very different for black and white Americans, as has been confirmed by methodical inquiries in the human sciences.

(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.

(8) These differences are magnified by the hostility many blacks feel toward whites. Thus, while black-on-black behavior is more antisocial in the average than is white-on-white behavior, average black-on-white behavior is a degree more antisocial yet.

(9) A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event….

(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible….

You don’t have to follow my version of the talk point for point; but if you are white or Asian and have kids, you owe it to them to give them some version of the talk. It will save them a lot of time and trouble spent figuring things out for themselves. It may save their lives.

For specific examples of what Derbyshire alludes to, just search on “black flash mob.” The results include apologies of the “It’s our/their turn variety” and some rather incendiary commentary. But a lot of the results point to reportage that is heavier on fact than on opinion; for example:

EXCLUSIVE: Media Conceal True Nature of “Flash Mob

This is a special project of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism . Relying on documents made available exclusively through a Freedom of Information Act request, we can add another face to the growing picture of racial “flash mob” violence in America.

Why is the Media Whitewashing Black Flash-Mob Violence …

In the latest occurrence of flash-mob violence, 10-15 young people attacked four men in Denver earlier this week. Multiple attacks similar to this one have taken place across the country this summer with one disturbing similarity: The media has generally refrained from reporting that the attackers

Flash mob attacks: Rising concern over black teen involvement …

In a message Monday to the mob suspects, Mayor Nutter, Philadelphia’s third black mayor, said, “You have damaged your own race.” “These are majority African-American youths and they need to be called on it,” the head of Philadelphia’s chapter of the National Association for the …

Flash Mobs Take Violent Turn in Philadelphia – NYTimes.com

Bill Wasik, a senior editor at Harper’s who is credited with introducing the notion of a flash mob in 2003, said he was surprised by the new focus of some of the gatherings.

Questions Arise Over Whether ‘Flash Mob‘ Attacks in U.S …

Police departments in several cities around the country are investigating what appear to be incidents of “flash mob“-generated violence, in which packs of dozens or even hundreds of youths appear seemingly out of nowhere to commit assaults, robberies and other crimes against innocent …

Flash mob appears at firefighters carnival in Union County …

WINFIELD — An unruly flash mob showed up at a long-running firefighters carnival in Union County’s tiny Winfield Township on Tuesday night, authorities said today. One Linden police officer working near the carnival saw as many as 150 young people marching toward the event around …

RealClearPolitics – The Taboo on Mentioning Black Mob Violence

If you point out a wave of racial mob violence, you are “race-baiting,” according to several liberal commentators. Perhaps these liberals are the ones Attorney General Holder referred to when he called ours a “nation of cowards.” The wave of racist violence committed by black flash mobs is different …

See also “Overview of Black Mob Violence on July 4, 2012,” at Unamusement Park, which is

a collection of articles and essays on select topics, all of them outrageously controversial, including race relations and human biodiversity from a race realist perspective….

The preceding discussion of black flash mobs is a warning against complacency. Handouts and tokenism will not assuage the anger of blacks who have been led to believe — by liberals and rabble-rousers in their own ranks — that their socioeconomic status is the fault of others. I do not want to be around when masses of blacks — having suffered high unemployment for decades, thanks to the anti-growth policies of liberals — erupt in outpourings of rage that could make the urban riots of the 1960s seem like family outings.


The debate about the causes of economic underachievement by American blacks will never end — not as long as liberals persist in believing what they want to believe instead of facing facts (a condition endemic to liberals); not as long as blacks persist in empowering politicians who tell them that they are victims; not as long as bureaucrats (public and private) derive above-market compensation by enforcing affirmative action and “diversity”; not as long as politicians can count on black votes by promoting the continuation of the welfare state; and not as long as America’s “educators” continue to preach the gospel of political correctness.

In the ideal — absent the conditions just enumerated — the following proposal (or something like it) might have more than a snowball’s chance of adoption:

I begin with the premise of affirmative action (and all the rest), which is summarized in a speech in 1986 by Justice Thurgood Marshall, before the Second Circuit Judicial Conference. There, Justice Marshall

urged Americans to “face the simple fact that there are groups in every community which are daily paying the cost of the history of American injustice. The argument against affirmative action is… an argument in favor of leaving that cost to lie where it falls. Our fundamental sense of fairness, particularly as it is embodied in the guarantee of equal protection under the laws, requires us,” Marshall said, “to make an effort to see that those costs are shared equitably while we continue to work for the eradication of the consequences of discrimination. Otherwise,” Marshall concluded, “we must admit to ourselves that so long as the lingering effects of inequality are with us, the burden will [unfairly] be borne by those who are least able to pay.” [Professor Susan Low Bloch, Georgetown University Law Center, “Looking Ahead: The Future of Affirmative Acton after Grutter and Gratz,” Jurist, September 5, 2003]

In other words, affirmative action and all that goes with it are ways of exacting reparations from white Americans for the sins of their slave-owning, discriminating forbears — even though most of those forbears did not own slaves and many of them did not practice discrimination. Those reparations come at a cost, aside from the resentment toward the beneficiaries of affirmative action and doubt about their qualifications for a particular job or place in a student body. As I wrote here,

[b]ecause of affirmative action — and legal actions brought and threatened under its rubric — employers do not always fill every job with the person best qualified for the job. The result is that the economy produces less than it would in the absence of affirmative action….

[A]ffirmative action reduces GDP by about 2 percent. That’s not a trivial amount. In fact, it’s just about what the federal government spends on all civilian agencies and their activities — including affirmative action….

That is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, given the many ways in which American blacks are subsidized at the expense of their co-citizens. But let us work with 2 percent of GDP, which now comes to about $300 billion a year, or more than $9,000 a year for every black American who is older than 17. It would require a more thorough accounting than I can undertake to estimate the full cost of programs that favor blacks. Let us say, for the sake of illustration, that the cost is about $15,000 a year for every black American over the age of 17.

Thus my modest proposal: End affirmative action and every other form of subsidy and favoritism for black Americans. Instead, give annually to every one of them who is more than 17 years old a voucher worth $15,000, on average. The average value would be adjusted annually for inflation. Vouchers would be issued only to adults because it is not a good idea to reward “welfare mothers.”

It would be “regressive” to give every black adult the same amount, regardless of differences in income. (Why would a ballplayer making $5 million a year need a gift of $15,000 from taxpayers?) So, the value of a person’s voucher in a given year would be determined by a sliding scale that relates the amount of that person’s voucher to his or her taxable income. (A similar calculation would apply to married couples who file joint tax returns.) The sliding scale would be calibrated to yield an average voucher of $15,000, plus inflation, and the scale would be graduated finely enough so that a person (or couple) would not abstain from earning more in order to receive a larger voucher. (The fine gradation of the federal income-tax table is a good model, though the relationship between income and voucher size would be inverse.) Under this scheme,  vouchers would be worth more than $15,000 for persons below the median taxable income, and would dwindle in value until reaching zero at, say, the 80th percentile of the income distribution.

The vouchers could not be redeemed for cash, but could be used like gift cards to purchase any kind of product or service. (I am sure that black and white paternalists would prefer to restrict the use of vouchers, but restrictions would mean costly and futile monitoring; as with food stamps, voucher income would allow recipients to buy more “forbidden” items from their other sources of income.) Vouchers would be issued for a limited time (perhaps the 25 years envisioned by Justice O’Connor in Grutter v. Bollinger), but — to encourage thrift and bequests — they would never expire.

I would not be surprised if, at the end of 25 years, the well-being of many American blacks had changed significantly for the better, economically and socially, because they chose to invest much of their voucher income in education, career training, homes in better neighborhoods, private schools for their children, and so on. In addition to having become more self-reliant, their eventual removal from the tit of the state and the protective embrace of liberal condescension could only enhance their feeling of self-worth and standing with the mass of white, Asian, and Hispanic Americans.

Perhaps a beneficial side effect of the voucher program would be to reduce the rate at which blacks commit crimes. Liberals could count that as vindication of their long-espoused belief that poverty breeds crime.

Is this not a program around which Americans — black and white, liberal and conservative — could rally? It has everything going for it: recognition that blacks are “owed” something; bureaucratic efficiency; economic incentives; the promise of dignity and self-sufficiency for blacks; the possibility of a reduced crime rate; and a definite end.

Unfortunately, my modest proposal is fatally flawed for at least two reasons.

  • It would terminate government largesse and favoritism at date certain. This would elicit cries of “unfair” (to those who are as yet unborn) and “not enough” (for those who favor and benefit from the dependency of blacks on the state). And so it would be perpetuated.
  • Further, the inevitable granting of exceptions, to allow the continuation of some current pro-black programs, would lead to a  conglomeration of favoritism and subsidies that is more costly than the present one.

Which brings me to the hard reality of the matter. Pro-black programs, though they are billed as ways of exacting “social justice,” are nothing more than efforts to obtain something for nothing, through the coercive power of government. Pro-black programs, in other words, are just manifestations of what I call the interest-group paradox:

There are myriad government programs that … are intended to favor particular classes of individuals. Here is a minute sample:

  • Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, for the benefit of the elderly (including the indigent elderly)
  • Tax credits and deductions, for the benefit of low-income families, charitable and other non-profit institutions, and home buyers (with mortgages)
  • Progressive income-tax rates, for the benefit of persons in the mid-to-low income brackets
  • Subsidies for various kinds of “essential” or “distressed” industries, such as agriculture and automobile manufacturing
  • Import quotas, tariffs, and other restrictions on trade, for the benefit of particular industries and/or labor unions
  • Pro-union laws (in many States), for the benefit of unions and unionized workers
  • Non-smoking ordinances, for the benefit of bar and restaurant employees and non-smoking patrons.

What do each of these examples have in common? Answer: Each comes with costs. There are direct costs (e.g., higher taxes for some persons, higher prices for imported goods), which the intended beneficiaries and their proponents hope to impose on non-beneficiaries. Just as importantly, there are indirect costs of various kinds (e.g., disincentives to work and save, disincentives to make investments that spur economic growth).

Why is it so hard to kill such programs?As I observed with respect to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about Obamacare, the difficulty can be characterized as the confluence of a slippery slope, ratchet effect, and the death spiral. The metaphor of the death spiral is especially relevant to pro-black programs. Reliance on government usually creates more problems than it solves. But, having become accustomed to relying on government, Americans rely on government to deal with the problems caused by government’s previous enactments. That only makes matters worse, which causes Americans to rely further on government, etc., etc. etc. The “race problem” in America began with state-sponsored slavery, continued with state-sponsored segregation, and was compounded by state-sponsored favoritism. But, despite all of that, most blacks and many whites (especially liberals) cannot give up on the idea that government holds the solution to the “race problem.”

I do not believe that America can recover from its death-spiral into deep statism — not with respect to the “race problem”; not with respect to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid; and not with respect to thousands of other programs that benefit this and that interest group. Therefore, the “race problem” will not go away, and honest, hard-working Americans of all racial and ethnic groups will continue to pay taxes and suffer criminal outrages for the sake of futile efforts to exact “social justice.”

America, I fear, is bound to be a European-style dystopia, with a twist: persistent inter-racial discord far more virulent than that of Europe’s most Muslim-infested countries.

*   *   *

Related reading (in addition to items linked to in the text; organized chronologically rather than by subject):

Thomas J. Bouchard Jr., David T. Lykken, et al., “Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart,” Science, New Series, Vol. 250, No. 4978 (Oct. 12, 1990, 223-228 (also available here)

Thomas Sowell, “Race, Culture, and Equality,” a speech delivered at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, June 18, 1998

David Lykken, “How Can Educated People Continue to Be Radical Environmentalists?,” a talk delivered on June 20, 1998

John Philippe Rushton, “New evidence on Sir Cyril Burt: His 1964 Speech to the Association of Educational Psychologists,”  Intelligence 30 (2002) 555–567 (a vindication of Burt’s findings about the heritability of intelligence, which had been falsely called fraudulent by intelligence environmentalists)

Race Differences in average IQ are largely genetic,”  posted at medical-news.net, April 26, 2005 (a summary of Rushton and Jensen’s “Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability,” quoted in the text)

Jason Malloy, “James Watson Tells the Inconvenient Truth: Faces the Consequences,” posted at Gene Expression, October 31, 2007

Fiona Macrae, “Born to win! The drive to success is in our genes, say scientists – and DNA dictates if we triumph or fail,” Mail Online, May 15, 2012

Heritability of IQ,” Wikipedia, the section Correlations between IQ and degree of genetic relatedness, as of  July 11, 2012:

The relative influence of genetics and environment for a trait can be calculated by measuring how strongly traits covary in people of a given genetic (unrelated, siblings, fraternal twins, or identical twins) and environmental (reared in the same family or not) relationship. The most common method is to consider identical twins reared apart, with any similarities which exists between such twin pairs attributed to genotype. In terms of correlation statistics, this means that theoretically the correlation of tests scores between monozygotic twins would be 1.00 if genetics alone accounted for variation in IQ scores; likewise, siblings and dizygotic twins share on average half of their alleles and the correlation of their scores would be 0.50 if IQ were affected by genes alone (or greater if, as is undoubtedly the case, there is a positive correlation between the IQs of spouses in the generation of the grandparents). Practically, however, the upper bound of these correlations are given by the reliability of the test, which tends to be 0.90 to 0.95 for typical IQ tests[40]

If there is biological inheritance of IQ, then the relatives of a person with a high IQ should exhibit a comparably high IQ with a much higher probability than the general population. In 1982, Bouchard and McGue reviewed such correlations reported in 111 original studies in the United States. The mean correlation of IQ scores between monozygotic twins was 0.86, between siblings, 0.47, between half-siblings, 0.31, and between cousins, 0.15.[41]

The 2006 edition of Assessing adolescent and adult intelligence by Alan S. Kaufman and Elizabeth O. Lichtenberger reports correlations of 0.86 for identical twins raised together compared to 0.76 for those raised apart and 0.47 for siblings.[42] These number are not necessarily static. When comparing pre-1963 to late 1970s data, researches DeFries and Plomin found that the IQ correlation between parent and child living together fell significantly, from 0.50 to 0.35. The opposite occurred for fraternal twins.[43]

Another summary:

  • Same person (tested twice) .95
  • Identical twins—Reared together .86
  • Identical twins—Reared apart .76
  • Fraternal twins—Reared together .55
  • Fraternal twins—Reared apart .35
  • Biological siblings—Reared together .47
  • Biological siblings—Reared apart .24
  • Unrelated children—Reared together .30
  • Parent-child—Living together .42
  • Parent-child—Living apart .22
  • Adoptive parent–child—Living together .19[44]

Nooffensebut, “Black Suits, Gowns, & Skin: SAT Scores by Income, Education, & Race,” The Unsilenced Science, October 24, 2013


My bona fides in the matter of race can be illustrated by the results of a test of my implicit racial preferences, taken at YourMorals.Org:

The study you just completed is an Implicit Association Test (IAT) that compares the strength of automatic mental associations. In this version of the IAT, we investigated positive and negative associations with the categories of “African Americans” and “European Americans”.

The idea behind the IAT is that concepts with very closely related (vs. unrelated) mental representations are more easily and quickly responded to as a single unit. For example, if “European American” and “good” are strongly associated in one’s mind, it should be relatively easy to respond quickly to this pairing by pressing the “E” or “I” key. If “European American” and “good” are NOT strongly associated, it should be more difficult to respond quickly to this pairing. By comparing reaction times on this test, the IAT gives a relative measure of how strongly associated the two categories (European Americans, African Americans) are to mental representations of “good” and “bad”. Each participant receives a single score, and your score appears below.

Your score on the IAT was 0.07.

Positive scores indicate a greater implicit preference for European Americans relative to African Americans, and negative scores indicate an implicit preference for African Americans relative to European Americans.

Your score appears in the graph below in green. The score of the average Liberal visitor to this site is shown in blue and the average Conservative visitor’s score is shown in red.

It should be noted that the test requires the subject to react quickly to paired words and images; it is not a multiple-choice test to which one can respond by choosing politically correct answers. My slightly positive score probably was influenced by the order in which choices were presented to me. Initially, pleasant concepts were associated with photos of European-Americans. I became used to that association, and so it adversely affected my reaction time when I was faced with pairings of pleasant concepts and photos of African-Americans. The bottom line: My slight preference for European-Americans probably is an artifact of test design.