Race IQ – Game Over: It was always all about wealth

At The American Conservative in July 2012, Ron Unz published Race, IQ, and Wealth. After some responses, Unz put up Unz on Race/IQ: Response to Lynn and Nyborg on his blog. Unz’s position, which came from analyzing the very data most cited to support the racialist position on Race IQ linkages:

Essentially, I am proposing that the enormously large differences in population IQ . . . are primarily due to factors of social environment–poverty, education, rural deprivation.

At the time, every indication was that racialist rebuttals only hardened Unz’s position. This should have finally been “game over” for Race IQ.

Of course, Ron Unz is hardly a household name in anthropology. I was grateful to Henry Harpending for continuing a conversation about race (taking off from my post on teaching race anthropologically) which led me to this material.

Why does Ron Unz on Race IQ matter?

First, Unz has money, and he uses it to publish and promote. Unz apparently gave out at least $500,000 to Gregory Cochran, co-author with Harpending on The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. Cochran was also co-author with John Hawks on Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution. Interestingly, there is one rather pointed exchange of Unz firing back at Cochran. Blogger Razib Khan has also been an Unz Foundation Junior Fellow.

Second, Ron Unz matters on Race IQ because he used the numbers from people who had been elaborating the Bell Curve argument that IQ is causal to social and class differences rather than a related consequence of those differences. Of course most of anthropology and mainstream academics probably did not even know this work was proceeding. However, it should be noted–as I did in Jared Diamond won’t beat Mitt Romney–that for the people who wanted to see Race IQ connections, Jared Diamond and Stephen Jay Gould were weak rebuttals. One could even say that those who cited Diamond or Gould would be dismissed, in a kind of “that’s all you have?” sort of way. But this is obviously different.

Third, Ron Unz signals game over for Race IQ because he seems to be getting so attacked from his own. In addition to the Cochran exchange above, Unz ends his blog-post with this:

Finally, I do regret the nasty personal attacks and misrepresentations which Nyborg, Lynn, and many of their allies have endured. But given the many hundreds of caustic insults and harsh denunciations I have recently received from Lynn’s energetic admirers, I would suggest that there might be two sides to this story.

As I said at the beginning, I’m not sure whether Unz will stick to his guns on this one. There are a number of rebuttals circulating. But the rebuttals seem mostly to be on the more extreme racialist blogs, and Unz doesn’t seem to be buying them. Without Unz’s support, these writings can only become the most marginalized of the already marginal.

Now this doesn’t mean Unz is going to pop over here and give me a fellowship. In his writings, he praises the racialists for being the only ones who are combing through the data and providing a serious response. He also is obliged to take a few whacks at Gould and his ilk. But let’s get real–the only reason the racialists are combing the quantitative data is to try and poke holes and mount a rebuttal. For the rest of us–who already knew that what we measure as IQ is in large part due to “factors of social environment–poverty, education, rural deprivation,” we can declare game over on Race IQ–see Unz 2012.

Game Over for Race IQ–but not for racism

Of course, this also doesn’t mean it’s over for inequality and racism. Ending the hard-line race IQ argument doesn’t at all change the facts-on-the-ground where things are as unequal as ever. One of the racialist lines has always been to observe how the average white/black IQ differential has hardly budged in 50 years. With Unz’s article safely in hand, this is obviously and easily explained: the average white/black wealth differential has also hardly budged in 50 years. The sociological data–an update by one of the authors of Black Wealth / White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality now indicates The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap (February 2013). [For an update, see Social Construction of Race = Conservative Goldmine.]

Finally, we should also be aware that national IQ averages and white/black IQ averages in the U.S. are certainly obscuring inequality dynamics within these groups. We may already be seeing the effects of inequality in the U.S.:

“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites. (Tavernise 2012, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor)

I would predict that we will in not too long start to see such a divergence between rich white and poor white IQ scores that it will make a mockery of race IQ calculations. Similarly, on an international level there is the rise of Brazil, India, and China–and very intriguingly, even Africa–The Next Asia Is Africa: Inside the Continent’s Rapid Economic Growth. All developments which will further confound the usual race IQ predictions. Maybe not all good developments, to be sure, but at least we should finally be able to bid goodbye to the hardline race IQ peddlers.

To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2012. “Race IQ – Game Over: It was always all about wealth.” Living Anthropologically website, https://www.livinganthropologically.com/race-iq-game-over/. First posted 9 August 2012. Revised 21 September 2017.

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  • Traherne

    This is a joke. Unz’ piece is by no means “game over” for “Race IQ”. Please, dude. You’re being hyperbolic. *At best*, it’s weak evidence. And we will see a divergence of rich/poor white IQ scores. But that will be because of increasing assortive mating. We already know IQ has a significant genetic contribution for individuals. Only a matter of time before we have to confront the genetic contribution to group differences. Why anyone would even expect say an Ashkenazi to have identical intellectual potential to an Australian Aborignee has to be one of the dumbest anthropological notions ever.

    • If Unz sticks by what he’s written, these games are indeed over. Rebuttals are only coming from the marginalized of the already marginal. “Increasing assortive mating?” Seriously? How about that people from the same social class are already endogamous (see Race Remixed – Reality Check).

      There will always be the diehards and the true believers, but for all practical purposes the debate, such as there was, is over.

      • Marginal? Is Steven Pinker marginal?! And really, who cares if he was. The arguments are reasonable and compelling. Again, “game over” is a gross exaggeration. This is not anything approaching proof–even generously construed for the social sciences. It’s evidence. And weak evidence at that. And yes. Seriously. Have you read “Coming Part”? Indeed social classes have always been somewhat endogamous. But you’re missing the main issue here. Social classes have now become increasing stratified by education. This leads naturally to individuals with better cognitive endowments pairing up. For instance, is it not obvious to you that female education has more efficiently sorted women by IQ and brought changes to the marital market? E.g.: Not long ago, it was basically only men in fields like law and medicine. So they never encountered potential mates from among their peers at work or in school. Needless to say, times have changed. Today if you have a college degree, you will marry someone with a college degree. I don’t have a single friend who lacks a 4 year college degree. In my bubble, it seems like everyone has at least a BA. The reality is that 70% of my age cohort does not. That means 30% of the population is effectively shunning 70% from playing in their marriage market. Not having a degree is a stigma and a disability. Ditto marrying someone without a degree. Obviously, over time, this will naturally lead to wealth differences for a lot of reasons–a significant one being the consolidation of whatever genetic contributions there are to material success. A theoretical point: You can hardly disprove a hypothesis by submitting evidence that is consistent with it. A belief in human neurological diversity is perfectly consistent with wealth discrepancies. Assuming genuine IQ differences, we have a very good expectation of wealth differences. If we were to learn tomorrow, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that IQ differences do indeed exist, we would hardly be surprised at the empirical evidence of history, demography, and lived experience. We would not be puzzled, scratching our chins and wondering “But what about all that African astronomy and algebra? They have such an advanced civilization!” China will not confound IQ beliefs. Consensus seems Asians have a superior IQ And Brazil certainly wont. In fact, you will see in Brazil what you see all over the South American continent: people of European or Asian ancestry disproportionately wealthy and successful. Indians and blacks will place next in line, in that order. It’s the same pattern everywhere. And as far as Africa goes, if American Blacks can’t get their act together despite being 20% white and living in the most prosperous and liberal country in human history, I wouldn’t hold your breath. But indeed Africa will benefit as long as Chinese engineers are there eagerly extracting its national resources. Hopefully if things get a little better, its best and brightest wont have such overwhelming incentive to flee the continent, allowing human capital to congregate more densely in urban centers and the benefits to trickle down and uplift the broader population.

        • Wow, that’s quite a rant. Good to know the true believers are alive and well. But Steven Pinker assumes Unz was already tilting at a straw man, Unz on Race/IQ: The Boston Globe Takes Notice, or as I see it, Pinker knows that for mainstream researchers this was already a non-debate. Pinker is indeed hardly marginal and his assessment is correct. This debate is now doubly over. Keep ranting on your own blog and stalking comment streams.

      • Denisovan

        It’s “assortative”, not “assortive”. (I trust you won’t now call me an orthographic “supremist” :P)

        • Thanks. I can’t even imagine how I’m getting into this assortative/assortive mating debate. This Bell Curve-Charles Murray stuff really runs deep.

  • Henry Harpending

    Jason you say “But let’s get real–the only reason the racialists are combing the quantitative data is to try and poke holes and mount a rebuttal.” No need to insult people who actually know the data and enjoy exploring it. You are just wrong, seeing ideology and politics where there is none.


    • Hi Henry,
      Ron Unz has a couple posts up Unz on Race/IQ: Incorporating the Racialist Perspective and Unz on Race/IQ – Rejecting the Ostrich Response which link to some of the people who have been parsing the data. He does praise racialist efforts to “enjoy” exploring the data, but at least he is a bit more honest about their ideology and politics.

      I hope you are not seriously suggesting that people like Steve Sailer, sites like VDARE, and a site that was once titled “Occidental Ascent” have nothing to do with ideology and politics.

      Thank you for continuing this conversation, but please don’t ask me to unhinge from reality!


  • Hans

    First sorry for my bad English (not my Mother Tongue)

    Jason Antrosio I don’t desagree with you but I would add that performance on IQ tests may be affected by many factors other than wealth alone!

    Obviously there are important genetic factors and I have no problem to recognize for instance that twin studies have established the importance of such genetic factors.

    But there are also social and cultural factors such as the case of stereotype threat, or the literacy, and of course the socio-economics variables see the famous Turkheimer’s study

    I’m fairly interested in this blog post from Neuroanthropology, because I really think that “race” as a social reality could potentially affect some performance dramatically, it also reminds me this amusing study.

    For a good preview about the complexity of this topic I highly recommend the following three publications (here, here and here) and also this blog post from The Mermaid’s Tale.

    Of course I recognize that some correlative studies are in favor of genetic factors to explain the intergroup differences. But I know of no study that can claim to have controlled all social and environmental variables that may affect the intergroup differences. It should also first know to what extent the results of IQ and therefore our various cognitive abilities are malleable to various factors, including those impacting our personal lifestyle choices. Again I know there are Twin studies, but these studies are limited and can’t really afford us to extrapolate on race differences and we should also be cautious about some interpretations around these twin studies see here.

    In short there are many variables that come into the play and to be a bit provocative I would say that nothing disprove that blacks would exceed substantially whites on IQ tests if we controlled in an appropriate manner all the variables affecting the outcome! But naturally I can not see how it would be possible in the current situation!

  • J

    Unz’s article is not about racial differences in IQ. It’s mainly about the causes of IQ differences among European populations. To the extent that he touches on racial differences at all, Unz argues that the East Asian IQ advantage vis-a-vis whites must be of genetic origin (because it predates large-scale industrialization and urbanization in East Asia) and that the IQ gap between white and Mexican Americans gets smaller in the third generation.

    He doesn’t say anything about the black-white gap which is what the race & IQ debate is traditionally about. When it comes to the b-w gap, arguments about poverty, education, or rural deprivation do not cut it at all, because blacks are a much more urban population than whites and because blacks from highly-educated, upper middle class families are outscored by whites and Asians from lower-class backgrounds.

    So I cannot fathom why you would think this article has relevance for discussions about race and intelligence.

    “Second, Ron Unz matters on Race IQ because he is using the numbers from people who had been elaborating the Bell Curve argument that IQ is causal to social and class differences rather than a related consequence of those differences.”

    Unz does not use any data that are pertinent to those questions. He uses Lynn’s global IQ data, which does not say anything about social and class differences within societies. You have misunderstood this debate.

    Unz’s argument about intra-white differences is based on cherry-picking certain data points from Lynn’s admittedly noisy data (Lynn bases his IQ estimates on aggregated data rather than single studies so as to reduce measurement error). Unz’s is not an interesting analysis because it’s unsystematic. Moreover, he does not understand any of the psychometric issues involved. There is a large academic literature about Lynn’s and others’ national IQ estimates, so a poorly-informed article by an amateur like Unz is about as relevant as a pimple on a flea’s left testicle.

    “Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s”

    Murray and Herrnstein explain in The Bell Curve why this is happening. It’s because of meritocracy and assortative mating. They were writing about it decades before it became a fashionable issue on the left.

    “I would predict that we will in not too long start to see such a divergence between rich white and poor white IQ scores that it will make a mockery of race IQ calculations.”

    That’s unlikely. As I noted above, poor whites outscore rich blacks. See, for example, these NAEP test results from 2009. The children of white high-school drop-outs score as well as the children of black college grads (to say nothing about Asians). Regression toward the population mean is a merciless thing.

    • Hi J, or JL as you once posted as,
      You will undoubtedly never believe anything different than what you believe on this issue, and you are free to post opinions on your own blog or stalk around comment streams, but really this whole thing is over.

      You are kidding yourself if you think Unz’s three factors–poverty, education, and rural deprivation–don’t apply to the U.S. Moreover, much of Unz’s analysis depends on intra-society differences, again completely applicable to the U.S. Obviously we can re-conceptualize rural deprivation as “relative environmental deprivation” given the long history and contemporary realities of de jure and de facto segregation.

      My prediction about poor and rich whites may or may not come true. Racism is related to but not reducible to wealth difference. I’m taking a guess based on current trends.

      Unz has money and a platform. Irrelevancy is what is happening to your position. Enjoy the regression to meanness.

      • Chuck


        “You are kidding yourself if you think Unz’s three factors–poverty, education, and rural deprivation–don’t apply to the U.S…. Obviously we can re-conceptualize rural deprivation as “relative environmental deprivation” given the long history and contemporary realities of de jure and de facto segregation.

        I went through the evidence here:


        The problem with cultural deprivation theories is that the magnitude of the gap correlated with within population heritability and the general factor. This is not obviously explained culturally. I noted:

        “The following steps are involved in establishing a congenital difference in intelligence:(1) Establish the existence of a stubborn test score differential
        (2) Demonstrate a lack of psychometric bias associated with (1) and therefore establish a difference in some agglomeration of stratum I to III mental abilities
        (3) Show that (2) largely represents a general or set of broad ability difference (Stratum II or III), as these stratum have appreciable heritabilities.
        (4) Show that there is a robustly biological basis to (3), where robust means unlikely to be culturally caused
        (5) Establish a genetic basis to (4)Or, at any point, falsify all alternatives.With regards to the difference under discussion, steps (1) to (3) have been completed (Sections A to D). Additionally, the alternative to (5), assuming (4), has been shown to be untenable (Section F); specifically, it has been shown that causally biological influences can not explain more than a small portion of the difference. Unestablished is (4). But this point is supported both directly (Section E) and indirectly (Section C). With regards to the latter, within population differences in general intelligence are largely robustly biological (see: Jensen, 1998), as such it is reasonable to make strong inference that they are so between populations, especially when the psychological and social correlates within mirror those between. Between group differences, though, theoretically could be cultural-g differences (a la the Dynamic Mutualism model of g (van der Mass et al., 2006). Since this possibility can not be ruled out at present, causal cultural explanations need to be evaluated. The major problem associate with such explanations is that they fail to well account for the Spearman/Jensen Effect. However, again if one posited cultural influences that interacted with g, which one must in this case, one could possibly account for the effects. But left unexplained then is why numerous sub-population differences fail to show similar effects. As example, in Spain, differences between groups defined by educational attainment were shown to not exhibit a Spearman Effect (see: Colom et al (2002) “Education, Wechsler’s Full Scale IQ, and g.”) In general, as numerous subpopulational differences do not exhibit such effects (Reviewed in Section D), it stands to reason that the supposed cultural cause of the B-W differences must be unlike the cause of these. That said, as we don’t know the specific causes of many of the differences in question, the issue is murky. As such, we are forced to consider causal cultural explanations for the B-W differential.Such explanations can roughly be subdivided into family cultural influences and extra-family cultural influences. In both cases, we are supposing that relative to Whites, Blacks are not developing their general mental ability due a lack of proper sensory-informational exposure. In the former case, the relative sensory-information deprivation is supposed to come from inside the family and in the latter from outside. As it is, family influences (e.g., parental interactions, SES, types of school attended, etc.) can statistically explain no more than 50% of difference by young adulthood, with the amount explainable decreasing with age (Section M). Controlling for family influences, though, produces somewhat skewed results as the magnitude of the difference tends to positively correlates with indicators of these. One can take SES as an example. Controlling for SES statistically explains approximately 50% of the difference (at young ages), which suggests that SES potentially has strong influence; yet when Black children from the highest SES brackets are compared to White children from the lowest, one finds and equivalence of performance. This phenomena has been noted for close to a century and suggest that SES potentially has a weak influence. These different methods of analysis lend themselves to different results due to the correlation between the size of the difference and SES and the slope of the Black increase with SES. Putting this aside, there are firm reasons to think that family cultural influences can causally explain little of the differential at older age despite being able to statistically explain a substantial amount. Most notably, it has been found that causal cultural influences have transient effects on IQ within populations (Dickens, 2005). If this is the case within populations one would expect it to be the case between populations. Family influences, then, would have little to no enduring impact. In support of this contention is data from the one published longitudinal transracial adoption study (Section S), which indicates that little of the difference is due to family environment, and are meta-analytic results from early intervention studies which indicate that causal cultural interventions have moderate effects, little of which lastingly remain (Section T).The conclusion that one must draw from the above is that extra-family influences (e.g., peer influences) must be called on to explain a large portion of the difference. To analyze the situation further we can subdivide these into what can be termed “reactive” and “active” influences, where the former refers to influences forced on and the latter to influences cultivated by a population. Since we are talking about supposed differences in developed general mental ability, we mean, in the former case, societal influences which discourage Black individuals from developing their “cultural g” (e.g., market discrimination) and, in the latter case, Black subcultural influences which encourage Black individuals to not develop their “cultural g” (e.g., peer influences). It should be noticed that the underlying presupposition is that general intelligence can be developed (or undeveloped) and done so from adolescence on. A massive body of evidence contradicts this, specifically when it comes to the general factor. Yet we will proceed on the assumption that this is possible.Our reactive “cultural g” influences can be ruled out by the simple fact that there is a premium on Black human capital. In non-economic terms, Blacks are discriminated for in the market place and employers will overpay to meet defacto quotas. Data from the NLSY97 show this:(Table)This leaves our active “cultural g” influences (e.g., peer dynamics and cultural identify). In general, these influences are problematic explainers as they tend not to affect individuals uniformly across populations and yet the net effect depressing the Black mean is marked by uniformity. The relative uniformity can be seen in both adolescent to young adult sibling differential regression results and in parent-offspring differential regression results (Section K). Moreover, such influences would likely show longitudinal instability. The effect would be decrease the year to year stability of IQ in the Black population relative to that in the white population, a decrease which is typically not reported.Overall, these “active” cultural influences do not seem promising explainers of the differential, especially when one takes into consideration the Spearman/Jensen Effect and other points mentioned. We are then left with the default, which is an environmental + genetic hypothesis of group differences.”
        If you have an explanation that fits the facts, I would appreciate hearing it.

        • Hi Chuck,
          As you may guess from my reply to Henry Harpending, I am not about to include a link to a website once called “Occidental Ascent” even if it is now titled the “Occidentalist.” Interested readers are free to search for your take and you are free to promote it. But not here.

          • happytime

            How is it that Certain types of Jews and Asians who have faced discrimination in the US, do better than whites on IQ tests?
            Note: I get that you resent whites. You should admit your bias against them if you want to be called honest.

          • Because not all discrimination is the same. You should read some real history. And maybe develop some nuance on race and racism.

      • J

        Jason, you don’t have to publish this, but a few comments:

        (1) My views on racial IQ differences are based on an extensive study of the relevant literature. Moreover, my views are subject to falsification by simple empirical tests, namely DNA-based hybrid studies. Hopefully we’ll see such studies in the near future. In contrast, I doubt that any conceivable evidence could convince you that racism is not a major cause of racial disparities in America.

        (2) Research into genetic and environmental determinants of IQ variation is a very active and methodologically sophisticated field. Only someone who does not know anything about this research can think that Unz’s simplistic analysis represents a major contribution. Lynn’s IQ data is not even directly relevant to the most important debates about nature and nurture or race differences. I recommend you look into recent research by such people as Robert Plomin, Peter Visscher, and Ian Deary.

        (3) It’s nice that Unz is sponsoring some un-PC thinkers (not surprising considering that he himself appears to believe in the genetic determination of at least some racial IQ differences, as seen in his writings about East Asians), but I fail to see how he matters in the big picture.

        • Maybe so, J., maybe so. It’s not that I will forever “believe” racism is a cause of racial disparity, it’s that the history, political economy, and contemporary realities are arranged such. DNA-based hybrid studies, whatever those may be, are still going to be part of that history, politics, and economic organization.

          We will have to see how the big picture turns out.

          • Romeo

            > It’s not that I will forever “believe” racism is a cause of racial
            disparity, it’s that the history, political economy, and contemporary
            realities are arranged such.

            If, … uh, ‘Jason Antrosio’ says so, that’s good enough for me!

          • You should read some real history. And hey, I’m in the American Conservative so it must be right.

  • AC

    Did you actually read the whole of Pinker’s letter? http://www.amren.com/news/2012/08/steve-pinker-responds-to-ron-unz/ He’s clearly critical of some of Unz’ arguments and doesn’t think this is a “non debate” or “games” much less that this is the death knell for “Race IQ” in general.

    • Yes, I thought these points from Pinker were worth noting:

      You write as if Lynn were a well-respected psychologist whose findings
      have been widely accepted. This is very far from the case. Outside the
      circle of a handful of bloggers and behavioral geneticists he is
      somewhere between obscure and radioactive. (I believe several of his
      books are either self-published or put out by fringe publishers.) This
      is not to say that such a reputation is deserved or not, but it would be
      a mistake to imply that you’re arguing against a widely accepted
      hypothesis–Lynn’s hypothesis is anathema to 99.99% of psychologists
      and, for that matter, academics. . . . . Despite these caveats in your argument, I don’t disagree with the
      conclusion. But I think you need to firm up the argument and
      attributions. Thanks for sharing it,

      So Pinker thinks Lynn is anathema for 99.99% of psychologists. That’s pretty much the same for some of the other race IQ people, although obviously not all. And he doesn’t disagree with Unz.

  • Mitchell Young

    It’s interesting to see an argument from a man who, I supposed, is considered (and considers himself) a social scientist declare a controversy of fact ‘over’ because one side might be losing some financial backing.

    At any rate, the Pioneer Fund is still out there, so Unz’s supposed conversion is hardly the end of the world. Lynn was doing research long before Unz came on the ‘public intellectual scence’, after all, and his proteges will likely be following the IQ/population group link long after Unz has left the scence.

    • As I did clarify in my follow-up, I am taking a look here at the academic-social-political scene, not so much the Unz/Lynn factual debate. You may be correct that there are other larger funding sources with bigger platforms. They do seem rather relentless.

      In what I take as a very perceptive comment on how these so-called facts are being debated, see Mormegil at The American Conservative:

      The holy of holies is a two-part claim: there are racial differences in
      intelligence between Blacks and Whites, and that difference is
      irremediable. The appeal to genetics is intended to secure the
      permanence of the gap. If it turned out that environments were
      heritable, and that they caused a permanent gap in intelligence, then
      hereditarians would abandon the genetics. If it turned out that there
      was a non-heritable environmental factor which caused a permanent racial
      gap in intelligence between Black and White, then hereditarians would
      become environmentalists.

  • Recently tracked Mike the Mad Biologist to this great Modest Proposal: Alabama Whites Are Genetically Inferior to Massachusetts Whites (FOR REALZ!): Looking at NAEP 2011 Math test data, “The gap between Massachusetts whites and Massachusetts blacks is the same as the gap between Massachusetts and Alabama whites.” I’m not sure how this would be explained by tales of “assortative mating,” although I am sure someone in the comment thread can tell me how Charles Murray said this 40 years ago.

    Also in the comments below several people think Unz has identified East Asian IQ as genetically based. My take is that it has more to do with the other two factors–education and rural deprivation. Before the East Asian economic boom, there was quite a lot of national investment in both education and in the countryside, at the very times that those 1950s IQ tests were conducted. I would say this is a hopeful sign that under the right circumstances and appropriate investment, human potential can be increased without needing a huge GDP boost.

    • The black-white gap in each state is about the same though.

      • Yes but if Massachusetts blacks are performing just as well as Alabama whites, it suggests there’s probably something besides race-genetics going on.

  • Flytrap

    I find it odd that you would disparage “true believers” and then state that it is “game over” for the hereditarians. That implies that your view has moved from theory to law and no further discussion is necessary. Sounds like you are the true believer. It’s best not to discuss those “marginal” fellows and actually prove them wrong. I mean, if Unz poked a pinhole in European differences then there is obviously no need to broach the subject of black/white disparities. Coward.

    • Hi Flytrap,
      As I’ve stated at various points, this is a social-political-academic assessment of the contemporary standing of each camp. I’ve surely said there is plenty of reason to apply this to black/white disparities.

      The whole notion that there is an ongoing scientific debate or scientific hypothesis here is a farce. There is certainly a debate, and there are certainly people invoking the language of science for their cause. But it is rather like the debate between Intelligent Design and the Theory of Evolution. The Intelligent Design-ers would like to believe that since they’ve had some debates, that makes it a “scientific debate” and because some scientists have talked about their ideas, that makes them scientific ideas. Same applies here.

      So yes, the idea that “the enormously large differences in population IQ . . . are primarily
      due to factors of social environment–poverty, education, rural
      deprivation” is probably closer to established theory than it is to simply hypothesis.

      • Severn

        As I’ve stated at various points, this is a social-political-academic assessment of the contemporary standing of each camp.

        I’m unclear as to your authority to decide what the “social-political-academic assessment” of each camp is. I’m also unclear as to your authority to decide which scientists are real scientists and which are not. It would appear that Ron Unz – a businessman count as a scientist to you which Richard Lynn – a scientist – does not.

        • I don’t have any authority. I’m a two-bit anthropology blogger who has yet to receive a single supportive comment on this thread.

  • AmRem
  • hbd chick

    “Ron Unz matters on Race IQ because he is using the numbers from people who had been elaborating the Bell Curve argument that IQ is causal to social and class differences rather than a related consequence of those differences”

    ron also used numbers from sources like the general social survey (gss), but he hasn’t been using the gss data in a very sound way.

    for example, one point in his argumentation is that german-americans are “significantly” more rural than the average for white amercians. he said he discovered this using the gss data. i found that they are not.

    the reason for the discrepancy between my and ron’s results is that he ignored an entire category from the rural/urban residency question: namely the small town. in doing so, he lost 32% of the german-american sample.

    i haven’t looked closely at all of ron’s data, but someone should before anyone accepts his conclusions as sound.

    • Hi hbd chick,
      I know you’ve been running at least a few of the numbers here and have a few posts up questioning Unz. This isn’t my field by a long shot–I’m merely an interested reader about these subjects.

      I still feel the endless parsing of numbers is something of a sideshow at this point. As Steven Pinker notes, Lynn’s hypothesis was already “anathema” to 99.99% of psychologists. So there are .01% now who keep parsing numbers but don’t have enough standing to tip the balance back.

      From my perspective, the evidence has always been overwhelming that socioeconomic factors trump the biology-genetics. A lot of these IQ and GSS numbers provide an illusion of concrete data, but should be taken with huge amounts of salt.

  • Severn

    Ron Unz signals game over for Race IQ because he seems to be getting so attacked from his own.

    There has never been a time when on Unz was not a liberal or a strong proponent of Hispanic immigration. I have no idea why you imagine that his current position represents some decisive break with his past positions or with “his own” side.

    But given the many hundreds of caustic insults and harsh denunciations I have recently received from Lynn’s energetic admirers

    I’m unaware of all these “caustic insults and harsh denunciations” which Ron has suffered. Perhaps next time he could cite some of them. All I’ve seen are peopling pointing out that he cherry-picks his data to get his desired results, an observation which should be as controversial as noting that Shaquille O’Neal is a big strapping lad.

    • Hi Severn,
      I was referring mostly to the fact that some of the people Unz has funded are now attacking his position. The politics do not seem entirely straightforward, although calling Unz a liberal seems a bit much.

      And judging by the tenor of this thread, I have no doubt that there has been plenty of insults and denunciations for Unz himself.

  • jb

    If Unz sticks to his guns–and every indication is that racialist
    rebuttals are only hardening his position–this is game over for Race IQ.

    For some reason I am reminded of the ecstasy with which creationists greeted the “conversion” of Antony Flew. The defection of such an important atheist to their side clearly proved that they had been right all along! Game over!!!

    I actually respect Ron Unz, and think he has raised some interesting points. The idea that I would have scored just as high on IQ tests if I had been raised an illiterate peasant has always struck me as rather questionable, so I’m open to the idea that IQ can indeed respond to the environment. A good analogy might be physical strength: it’s clear some groups are genetically superior to others in terms of potential (e.g., men vs women); yet almost everyone can become significantly stronger through training. There is no contradiction between a trait being both genetic and environmental, and intelligence could easily work the same way.

    But Ron’s argument is actually very narrow, and, as others have pointed out, he ignores a great deal of evidence, and doesn’t really address the central arguments of the genetic determinists. He just isn’t that important a figure in the debate — he only seems that way to you because he is telling you what you want to hear.

    Lynn’s hypothesis is anathema to 99.99% of psychologists
    and, for that matter, academics…

    Do you think this might have something to do with the fact that people who question the ruling political orthodoxy in this matter risk losing their jobs? (In fact, in some European countries they can even be prosecuted!) This isn’t a rhetorical question — an answer would be quite interesting!

    BTW, I doubt the number is actually 99.99%, and I’m pretty sure Pinker — who clearly knows the rules — doesn’t think so either. Mark Snyderman and Stanley Rothman surveyed 600 psychologists, sociologists and educationalists in 1984, and reported that 45% thought that black-white differences in IQ
    were the product of both genetic and environmental variation. Even if you think they are biased — which could certainly be true — it’s hard to believe they could have been off by a factor of 4500. This also fits with my own personal experience: I’ve had more than one conversation with academics who told me privately that they thought it was entirely possible that the black/white IQ difference might be partially genetic, but said they would never dare admit as much publicly. (You may not have had any such conversations, but would you really expect a colleague to acknowledge heresy to a devout anti-racist such as yourself?)

    • Hi JB,
      With my new influx of visitors, you are one of the smartest commenters on this thread. Still, I think the Unz stuff seems to be riling your usually careful comments.

      The creationist comparison is not exactly the same–everyone celebrates a conversion, but they were still obviously the outcast minority. My take is that this more parallels The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic, although surely that pushes things too far in the other direction.

      I don’t think the issue is heritability of IQ, or even that IQ isn’t part of a biocultural nexus that can be quite stubborn to change. The thing that is anathema to the 99.99% is the idea that IQ is causal for or an explanation of wealth and inequality, both within and between nations. And that’s just not historically true.

      I’m no devout anti-racist. If putting up a few blog-posts is all it takes to get labelled a devout anti-racist, then the anti-racist position is in real trouble.

  • SarahConnor

    Your point if true, only pushes the question further back, namely, why do whites have more wealth than blacks? Racism isn’t going to cut it for two reasons. One, the poorest of African areas are the ones that have never been colonized. Two, “model minorities” (Asians/Jews) in Western areas, despite noted times of “discrimination,” have done quite well economically. They also tend to have high IQs.

    • You should read some real history. And maybe develop some nuance on race and racism. Colonization and wealth could be quite obviously related, as in it doesn’t make sense to colonize resource-poor regions. And of course, discrimination is not at all equivalent or equal.

  • .

    This article is a joke, right? I won’t waste a lot of time with a response. I’ll just score two points and run.

    1 if poverty is responsible for the IQ gap then why do poor white kids outscore wealthy black kids?

    2 Of course, the IQ gap between rich and poor whites will widen. If smart people rise to the top and dumb people fall to the bottom then after a few generations of smart, wealthy whites marrying each other and poor, dumb whites marrying each other the IQ gap between them would obviously increase through “distillation”.

    Your acknowledgement of the second point only shows that you know full well IQ has a genetic component.

    • If these genes for intelligence are going to be concentrated by social class, then really we will have to stop talking about race-based IQ differences, won’t we? Not that this genetic basis for intelligence really has as much weight as you claim.

  • “the average white/black wealth differential has also hardly budged in 50 years”

    According to the “Journal of Blacks in Higher Education”:

    Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean SAT test score that was 61 points higher than blacks whose families had incomes of between $80,000 and $100,000.
    Blacks from families with incomes of more than $100,000 had a mean SAT score that was 85 points below the mean score for whites from all income levels, 139 points below the mean score of whites from families at the same income level, and 10 points below the average score of white students from families whose income was less than $10,000.””””
    Focusing on wealth with regard to test scores is a complete dead end.

    • You are confusing wealth with income. Since the average white family has 10x to 20x the wealth of the average black family, your own numbers suggest that if they were equalized for wealth, the outcomes would be pretty close.

  • B

    Of course there is a IQ/wealth correlation. Who could ever expect people of lower IQ to make just as intelligent choices and decisions as people with higher IQ? To claim a lack of wealth causes low IQ is just the opposite of the truth. Low IQ means less intelligent choices, like having babies one can not afford, or not taking school seriously, or joining gangs, or like wasting money on gambling and so forth. Low IQ creates poverty, not the other way around.
    If wealth is the cause of lower IQ then explain why the children of wealthy blacks only perform as well in school as the children of poverty level whites.

    • You write as if the slate has been cleaned for everyone. Look, if you want to know what accounts for wealth differences, maybe you should investigate inheritance patterns, the gutting of the inheritance tax over the last fifty years, the decline of upper-income tax rates since 1950s Eisenhower, and differential housing values.

      It’s interesting that those who most deny the idea of “blank slates” for human nature are most enamored of the illusion that there is an equal starting point for all.

  • Hi Hans,
    Thank you for this and sorry it didn’t post earlier–apparently got stuck in a “spam” folder, where it did not deserve to be.

    I absolutely agree with you, there is a lot going on here, and things like stereotype threat are not to be underestimated. Given the tone of angry commentary, obviously the stereotype and the threat are very much alive. I’ve written a bit more about some of these issues in Race Becomes Biology, Inequality Embodied, but it sounds like you are way ahead of me on links!

  • I didn’t know Mr. Unz was the beginning and end of IQ theory.

    The writer is thankful that the debate is “finally” over and the ‘racists’ have lost because their rebuttals are, in his/her mine, weak.

    The writer simply seems grateful that he/she now has one study by one person that he/she can point to to discredit ‘racists’.

    Despite what Mr. Unz believes, the facts are overwhelming. Race is a genetic reality and IQ varies widely between races.

    The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart: The heritability of g and other mental ability factors


  • Tired of dealing with this stuff. Obviously it’s hardly “game over” for race and racism.