RE: IQ AND RACE. The taboo subject.
10 FEB 95 17:13:00 GMT

In a previous article, (Stephen Lajoie) wrote:
>In my first response to this thread, long ago, I stated that there was
>serious reasons why one could not say that IQ was related to race.
>Later on, I stated that many professors are muzzled by political
>pressure to not state the obvious; that race and IQ are correlated. I
>knew very well that many professors will tell you they are not related in
>public, and but admit that there is a correlation in private when they
>felt it was safe. They fear for their jobs.
>The response to my claim was that this evidence was anecedotal. That there
>was no proof. I remembered that there had been cases of extreme political
>pressure put on profs who admitted the truth in public, but I couldn't
>remember when.
>Well, the is a case in the news now. Francis Lawrence, president of
>Rutgers university, said that SAT scores were unfair because black
>students lacked the genetic and hereditary background needed to score
>high on them.
>He's taken it back, he said he mispoke, he apoligized, but the clamor
>for his firing still goes on. He is under a great deal of political
>pressure to quit or be fired.
>This is strong evidence to support my claim that the truth is indeed
>forbidden. Those who work in the field will not admit it because they
>will not get government funding, and will be fired from their positions.

This is absurd. Race and IQ are indeed correlated, and no one has any trouble
admitting that. But that alone does not mean that the statement (that black
students lack the *genetic* and *hereditary* background to score highly on IQ
or SAT tests) is true. In fact it is almost certainly false. IQ and SAT
tests purport to measure some vague capacity to learn, but in fact what they
mostly measure is the learning of certain kinds of information. To argue that
this has anything to do with *intelligence* (i.e., capacity to learn) rather
than accumulated *knowledge*, you must make the assumption that everyone
taking the test has had equal access to the knowledge you need to pass the
test (because if everyone had equal access to the knowledge then presumably
those with a greater capacity to learn would learn more of it and do better on
the test).

In the United States, at least, race, which is primarily a social category
that has some basis in biological difference (but not the absolute biological
meaning that some people attribute to it), is correlated not only with IQ
scores, but with poverty, quality of education, and dialectical differences.
The fact that black students in general come from poorer families, go to poorer
schools, and often learn a dialect of English other than the one used in giving
the tests means that, on the average, black students have much less access to
the kinds of information needed to do well on IQ tests. Despite the claims to
the contrary, black Africans face the same problems (not to mention that the IQ
scores attributed to Africans in The Bell Curve are invented based on scores
from a totally different test that can't be converted to IQ scores). I wonder
what the relative scores of black and white South Africans would be if they
gave IQ tests in Zulu? Or what would happen in America if the test was in
Black rather than "Standard" English (with "standard" in quotes because it is
only standard for a portion of the population).

>Clearly, most claims that race and IQ are not correlated are tainted by
>this political pressure, and are invalid.

More accurately, I think the claims are that neither IQ nor race have as much
objective meaning as you think they do. Given this fact, the correlations that
can be observed between IQ and race are extremely unlikely to mean that blacks
are genetically inferior to whites. The differences in intelligence between
humans and, say, chimpanzees, certainly have a genetic basis, and genetics may
very well account for small differences in IQ among humans. There are so many
other factors that influence IQ, though, that genetic variability is swamped by
differences in family and educational environments and language learning
contexts. The racial differences in intelligence are much more likely to be a
result of these factors. The very best we can say is that whatever genetic
component there is to IQ is poorly understood, but there is little (or no)
reason to expect it reside in racial differences.

Arguing this position is not an attempt to be *politically* correct, rather it
is an attempt to be correct, period. Given the current political climate in
the United States, I think you are very much mistaken about which position in
this debate is most influenced by political pressure. And I think that any
university president who would say anything as stupid and unsupported by fact
as the president of Rutgers did is clearly incompetent to be president of a
university. University presidents are primarily politicians and
administrators, and have a certain responsibility to not embarrass their
institutions or offend their donors (or students). On the other hand,
professors say stupid things all the time (including saying things similar to
what Lawrence said) and get away with it, so your argument that professors are
muzzled by political pressure (and specifically liberal political pressure) is
not supported by the recent events.

>Steve La Joie

Jim Allison
Northern Arizona University