Saturday, May 24, 2008

Are attitudes changing on IQ and race?




There's a great debate going on over at the American Scene over Jim Manzi's National Review cover article that cautions conservatives about embracing genetic research and evolutionary explanations of behavior.

As usual, I like to bring data into debates where possible. Manzi claims that genetic explanations are now winning the debate, and he cites all the gene studies we see reported in mainstream periodicals like Time and Newsweek.

And while it does seem to me that we are seeing more attention paid to the role of biology, I fail to see much progress in any "dangerous" areas like gender and poverty, and no progress with the real dynamite: race.

I'm not sure if Manzi is implying that Bell Curve thinking is becoming more popular, but I strongly suspect it is not. In fact, I doubt we've hit the bottom yet. Let's look at the data.

The General Social Survey asked more than 20,000 people between 1977 and 2006 if they think that blacks are poorer because they have less inborn ability to learn. The top graph above show a steady decline in those who agree with the statement between the years 1977 and 2006. The last two survey years--2004 and 2006--had the lowest percent agreeing in the history of this question--9. The Bell Curve and other related research have had zero detectable impact.

But the elites always take the lead in public opinion, right? The second graph displays acceptance of an inborn inability by educational degree. Only 2.8% of Americans with graduate degrees agree with the genetic idea, while 20.2% of high school dropouts do.

Have the highly educated at least improved in the least decade? The bottom charts shows the pattern for 1996. Only 3.2% of those with advanced degrees agreed, so there has been no change among this group.

Steve Sailer is right that trends in attitudes do not follow the research, and things will probably get much worse before they get better.


  1. Anonymous2:11 AM

    Your first graph is useless. It gives the percentages, but it doesn't say what you are measuring. You just have "..." at the bottom of all of them.

  2. Anonymous6:36 AM


    Thanks for the great post - better data beats better algorithms, as they say.

    I tried to be quite specific about what I meant by the "winning" comment. Here's what I said in the post:

    "You think you’re losing this debate, but you’re obviously winning it. (“you” defined broadly, and “winning” defined as accepting an inherent human nature along with subsidiary propositions I list in the second quote below)"

    Rejecting the blank slate theory of human nature does not mean (in my view) accepting that we have any scientific knowlegde about the race-genes-IQ connection.

    Jim Manzi

  3. Anonymous12:34 PM

    "Rejecting the blank slate theory of human nature does not mean (in my view) accepting that we have any scientific knowledge about the race-genes-IQ connection."

    Then what do we have then? We have plenty of knowledge that genes determine skin color, eye color, hair color, even certain diseases, but not intelligence? I'm sorry, but you should know better.

  4. Only 2.8% of Americans with graduate degrees agree with the genetic idea, while 20.2% of high school dropouts do.

    Speaking as someone with a graduate degree, I suspect that many people with low measured IQs are pretending to be dumb. (If something is easy for us, it might be easy for everybody else.)

    This reaction may be common.

  5. Anonymous2:31 PM

    Ron, if I remember right, blacks do a but better than whites on memory, so the problem that blacks have is not learning: it's thinking.

  6. Anonymous9:32 PM

    Jewish people are the most intelligent. They win almost 40% of the Nobel Prize's and they have a small population of only 14 million. So by far they exceed the other races in intelligence. The other races having huge numbers and such small contributions.

    IQ tests, test intellectual conformity, not creativity and originality. This would explain the Asian high IQ's. They as a people are the ultimate conformists.

    In IQ tests there is typically only one answer to the problem. That problem being a social conformity to reason. But everyone knows that Genius's and all of the greatest developments in the world are not the product of conformity. Conformity never breeds creativity. We can see this in the lack of influence the Asian population has had on Science. China used to be called the "sick man" of Asia. Their population is massive and their contribution to innovation is almost nil. We can see this lack of originality in their adoptation of European philosophies, I.e. Communism.

    Friedrich Nietzsche and other Philosophers have critized Asians. Nietsche used the words "Pallid osification" to describe Orientals.

    Pallid: lacking sparkle or liveliness.

    Osification: The process of becoming set and inflexible in behavior, attitudes, and actions. Inflexible conformity, rigid unthinking acceptance of social conventions.

    The reality is Asian people have yet to understand that laws and rules are arbitrary. Europeans make the rules and Asian's follow them.

    It also doesn't make sense that Asian's are considered smart because of the fact that they have destroyed their own countries. This is due to over-population and their basic lack of enviromental understanding.

    It is also common scientific fact that women who have many children are ignorant, and those who have less children are more intelligent. This has already been proven in studies. So it seems strange to say that Asians are smart when the obviousness of their backwards countries, and medieval lifestyle makes them contrary to that premise.

    Europeans have the most advanced civilizations and every other race has yet to meet these levels other than the Japanese. The Japanese only being good at copying other people's inventions and making them better. Other than that their original creativity is lacking as well. They took American cars and made them better. They took the German camera and made it better. And they took German steel and made it better. Otherwise the greatest advances still come from Europeans and Jews. Other than that the Orientals have yet to produce an Einstein or a Thomas Edison.

    When it comes to Black people. It makes sense that they have low intellectual comformity, I.e. IQ tests. They are far too creative to be trapped in this unoriginal form of conditioning. You can tell their creative capacity in their athletics, music, dance, and the way they talk. They by far exceed the Asiatic races in these areas. Being better singers, musicians ect. Blacks far exceed Asians in emotive expression. In all of North America there is only one or two famous high-paid Asian actors.

    Reality, Europeans rule the world and they have allowed others to exist only out of desire for economic bennifet. They, (Europeans) are also the physically strongest, winning the Strongest Man competitions again and again.

    The greater the conformity, the weaker the race. Thus we see the races as they are today. The wild animal being bred out of man, and the physically impotent, conformist thriving.

    Otherwise "Group psychology" is the most destructive thing in the world. All these stereotypes are false when it comes to the individual. Individualism is the most important thing for this time. All countries, Religions, groups need to dissolve for man to live in peace.


How strongly does religiosity predict fertility?

The total fertility rate in the US has fallen to 1.7.  That means the average woman will have fewer than two children, not enough to replace...