Looking again at southern intelligence: I was watching a 1993 video about juveniles and the death penalty and said to myself, "All these deathrow teens are dumb white Southerners," and it got me curious again about the idea that whites from that part of the country ain't so bright. When I looked at educational levels in an earlier post, the Southeast was low, but the West South Central Division (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas) was not. The General Social Survey (GSS) showed us previously that education and IQ are only moderately correlated, so let's look at the GSS's measure of intelligence--the number of vocabulary words out of 10 answered correctly. I list the divisional means from highest to lowest for whites only:
Mean vocabulary score
New England 6.65
Middle Atlantic 6.52
West North Central 6.33
East North Central 6.14
South Atlantic 6.07
West South Central 6.00
East South Central 5.42
The stereotype is confirmed: the lowest three divisions are all southern. But the East North Central division (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) is also below average. The Mountain states in someways feel like the South, but as we saw with data on Mormons, folks in that region are not dumb.
So what's the reason for low Southern averages, especially in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky? A history of inbreeding? And folks from down there, don't get sensitive: we recognize that you have your Faulkners.
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