"Thoughts, Unoriginal But Perhaps of Value, on Brains"
by Fred Reed
"The systematic study of intelligence is fraught, dangerous, since everyone instantly thinks, “Race. Blacks. I will lose my job and live in a tent on the sidewalk if I think about this.” The concern is that study might reveal differences between groups. Oh God. So: Should we study it or not?
The panic arises only regarding blacks. Suggesting that Jews are smarter than other whites, which perhaps most believe, or that East Asians are smarter than whites, as seems to be the case, does not greatly roil the waters. Hispanics don’t seem to matter. Blacks do.
Now, if blacks are less bright than whites, as many quietly believe, we have one situation. If they are not less bright, we have another. If blacks seldom become software engineers because they can’t, what then? White European society seems to accept the apparent superiority of Jews and East Asian, and the consequent differences in prosperity, without dangerous levels of resentment. The resentment of , and by, blacks is intense and explosive.
Here, politics enter. Liberals insist that no racial differences exist. But they do not seem to believe it. If they did, they would favor a massive and careful regime of testing to prove their point. Instead, they strenuously resist investigation Why, other than fear of likely results?
Some facts, unwoke but demonstrable: Both intelligence and behavior are largely determined by genetics. Any dog breeder will tell you that Border Collies are smarter than beagles. They learn faster and learn things of greater complexity. He will further tell you that dogs can be bred for higher intelligence by mating unusually smart dogs with other unusually smart dogs. And he will tell you that traits such as protectiveness and aggressiveness are in the breeds and that these traits can be changed up or down by selective breeding. This mutability appears all through the mammals. Any determined teenager can breed mice to be better or worse at running mazes. Ly elevated offspring.
Now, subspecies. Collies and pit bulls are subspecies of dog, in simple terms meaning that they are both dogs but, a bit more biologically, that they can breed with each other. Similarly, Africans, Chinese, and Norwegians are members of subspecies of Homo sapiens, for exactly the same reasons.
The woke are usually ardent of Darwinian evolution, probably because it is a doctrine useful against evangelical Christianity, though typically they know next to nothing about either Darwin or Christianity. We will here grant them this. A foundational idea of orthodox Darwinity is that if a species is divided into separated populations so that they cannot interbreed (if, for example, an isthmus joining two continents sinks beneath the waves), they will over time evolve into distinct subspecies with distinct characteristics. The woke happily accept this principle when useful against Creationism. If it is pointed out that it works identically with separated populations of people, such as Africans, the Chinese, and Norwegians among others, a silence falls.
This is what is called an “oops! moment.” The woke sense where things are going. Their usual response is to insist that race doesn’t exist (in which case racism presumably doesn’t either, but we will not complicate things), that it is a “social construct” with no scientific meaning. Most of the woke are graduates in the liberal arts with almost no familiarity with the sciences or mathematics which makes scientifically silly beliefs palatable.
Does race in fact have no scientific meaning? I propose an experiment. Go to the website of one of those commercial genetic-analysis services, such as Twenty-three and Me. Order ten test kits. When they come, spit in one of the sample tubes yourself, add the preservative, and put the tube in a drawer. Then go forth with the remaining nine tubes and find a series of approximately the following: a Chinese, a Mexican, a pure African black (perhaps at an embassy to avoid contamination by white American blood), a mixed black-white, an Amerind, an Ashkenazi Jew, perhaps a north and a south Indian. If you can scrape up an Australian aborigine, do.
On all the bottles put English names: Reed, Jones, Smith, Fletcher and so on. When the reports arrive, you will find that the races have been correctly and scientifically identified, with such findings as thirty-five percent Middle Eastern, forty percent north European, and so on.
Another and desperate attempt to deny the existence of race is to point out that the DNA of humans and chimpanzees is 98.5 percent identical (or some such number). I suspect that the figure may be higher in the woke, but this is speculation. This is then used to urge that minor genetic differences don’t amount to anything. Actually of course it shows that minor differences have profound consequences. I don’t know your dating habits, but the difference between Bongo the Chimp and Marylyn Monroe seem at least noticeable.
Now, intelligence. Is there any reason why races might differ? At this point the woke try to eliminate the question rather than answer it. They will assert that intelligence doesn’t exist, that it is a social construct. They do not believe this except when talking about race. They will say in casual conversation, “Fred, I want to get you together with Mary, she’s a biochemist at NIH, and really smart.” They do not say, “Wow! Is Mary ever socially constructed.” At least, not in reference to mental qualities.
But put five people of IQ 170 and five of IQ70 in a room and see how long it takes you to tell one from the other. About three seconds. The difference will be stark. And people autodetect intelligence. People of IQ 90 tend to associate with others of that IQ. Those of 150 do the same. A woman once said, “In Washington, you assume that everyone is in the 99th percentile.” No, but she was, so people she knew were. The is called “cognitive stratification.”
Why would one race evolve higher intelligence than another? In terms of strict evolutionary piety, a group under more environmental stress than another will be selected for its ability to figure out solutions—i.e., for intelligence. Proponents of IQ argue that life in cold regions requires more planning, thought, and ingenuity than life in tropical regions where fruit hangs low. To what extent this is true is not clear to anyone who thinks about it, but the woke don’t. This puts the woke in a position requiring squirming. If they accept Darwinism, then races can differ in intelligence. If they deny Darwin, they find themselves agreeing with Creationists.
Here we come to the vexed matter of IQ. It is one that can lead to bar fights. A reasonable question about IQ is whether it measures what it is supposed to measure: intelligence. This mystery attracts much sophistry from people who seem to illustrate the principle that intelligence doesn’t exist. Still, put people with IQ 70 and 130 in a freshman calculus class and your question will be answered.
Who studies IQ? At the top of the analytical hill we have psychometrists, usually highly intelligent (pardon the word) and well trained statisticians. They are careful, well aware of pitfalls in psychological measurement, and doing their best, which is usually quite good, to determine the truth. They are accused of course of racism for getting the wrong answer. Interestingly, though overwhelmingly white, they rank intelligence from high to low as Ashkenazi Jews, East Asians, whites, Latinos, blacks. The findings of psychometrists track observable outcomes over statistically significant groups.
Next you have a loose group, sometimes rising to the status of a movement, who call themselves “race realists.” Here objectivity, always claimed, is not always practiced. Without exception known to me they are conservatives, with their clan’s characteristic tendency to see outgroups as hostile. Their clear desire is to prove that blacks, Hispanics, and non-whites in general are intellectually inferior to whites. This desire does not prove them right or wrong, but suggests a need to read them closely.
For example, you can find them asserting that the Nepalese have a mean IQ of 60, which would make them unable to dress themselves, and that Mexicans and American blacks have mean IQs respectively of 87 and 85, essentially identical, yet the former operate telecommunications networks and other appurtenances of modernity while the latter show no capacity. The population of India is said to have a mean IQ of 81, which decreasingly seems to match reality on the ground.
It is worth noting that there is nothing mathematically wrong with IQ calculations, as mathematics. You give a million people an IQ test, plot the tests on paper, and you get the famous “bell” or “normal” curve. This does not create data, distort data, or hide data. It just displays them, as does a pie chart or bar graph. It is used in thousands of calculations from physical chemistry to failure rates of engine parts. In a sentence, the interpretation may be debatable, but the distribution is not.
Do IQ tests “work”? Statistically, yes. In the case of individuals, not always. If you take the test with a hangover, you may do poorly. If the test is in English, which you read poorly, likewise. The designers of tests are quite aware of these problems and avoid them.
The woke objection to tests is precisely that they do work: that the numbers correlate closely with observed outcomes. All manner of studies have shown that IQ is a good predictor of success in fields requiring thought. Along with semi-IQ tests, such as the SATs and the military’s AFQT, IQ tests have been used successfully for many decades as predictors of success in university and in selection of candidates for military jobs such as truck driving or electronics tech. They all give closely similar results for racial groups.
The truth, unpalatable though it be, very much appears to be that we differ, both as individuals, and races, in intelligence. This has and will have grave consequences. Is it wiser to ignore this, and thus have no influence over events? To pretend? Or to concede reality, grapple with the problem and try to find the least unpleasant road forward?
Postscript: 2020 U.S. International Math Olympiad team, world champion. America is about six percent Asian, if memory serves. The Chinese absolutely dominate America’s hard-science universities and high schools.
Quanlin Chen, gold medal.
Gopal Goel, silver medal.
Tianze Jiang, silver medal.
Jeffrey Kwan, silver medal.
Luke Robitaille, gold medal.
William Wang, gold medal.