America and the Left Half of the Bell Curve

Part I: IQ and Why We`re
Afraid to Talk About It

Part II: How the Other Half Lives

Why do half our
kids score lower on tests than the other half? (OK, this
is a joke. But why do some kids score poorly?) The
Democrats blame

test bias
or underfunded schools or

racism
. The Republicans point to

teachers` unions
or

gangsta rap
or parents who don`t help their kids
with their
homework
. Everybody seems to think the problem of
kids who perform poorly on tests will be solved by
giving them even more tests.

Nobody is willing
to publicly admit that a whole lot of young people just
didn`t draw winning hands in the genetic lottery for
intelligence. To state this fact is considered
insensitive and, horrors, bad for self-esteem. Maybe,
but to ignore it is to acquiesce in the IQ elite setting
policies that are starkly self-interested and
uncharitable.

Several
developments in recent decades threaten to undermine
America`s traditional knack for incorporating the great
majority of citizens into the middle class. First, the
relative economic value of a strong brain has risen
dramatically compared to that of a strong back. Modern
computers and telecommunications turbocharge the
productive capacity of the intelligent. For example,

Charles Murray
pointed out in a follow-up to The
Bell Curve
, "In constant dollars, an engineer
earned about $30,000 in 1952 compared with $20,000 for a
manufacturing worker, which was not much different from
the ratio at the beginning of the century. By 1988, the
engineer earned almost $75,000 compared with $22,000 for
the manufacturing worker."
[Income
Inequality and IQ
, Charles Murray, August 1997]

Second, we`ve
discovered that equality of opportunity can do
surprisingly little to insure equality of result. One of
the best methods for disentangling the effects of nature
and nurture is to look at differences among children
raised in the same household. I pointed out in my recent
VDARE columns on the frustrations that

feminist celebrities like Jodie Foster and Melissa
Etheridge
are likely to encounter when their
designer babies don`t live up to their hand-picked sperm
donor dad`s accomplishments.

Why not? The genes
a child is dealt at conception don`t come solely from
those visible in his parents. Instead, they are randomly
drawn from his entire family tree (weighted by closeness
of relationship). Thus, as U. of

Texas psychologist John Loehlin
recently wrote to
me: "The IQ difference between siblings is only about
30% smaller (on average) than that between any two
randomly chosen people."

U. of Delaware
psychometrician Linda S. Gottfredson noted in Society:
"Those sibling differences [in IQ] are due mostly to
the genetic differences among siblings, because their
genotypes correlate only 0.5 on average… [The
exceptions are identical twins. Their IQ`s are much more
similar because their genomes are the same.] Large IQ
differences among siblings in turn produce large
differences among them in school achievement and life
outcomes. Those differences, in fact, are almost as
large as those found between strangers whose IQs differ
to the same degree
."[Equal
potential: A collective fraud
. Society, 37(5),
19-28(PDF)]

Charles Murray
recently quantified this in an ingenious study of pairs
of American siblings raised together in non-poor homes.
Murray described his findings in the Sunday Times
of London in 1997:


Each pair consists of
one sibling with an IQ in the normal range of 90-110, a
range that includes 50% of the population. I will call
this group the normals. The second sibling in each pair
had an IQ either higher than 110, putting him in the top
quartile of intelligence (the brights) or lower than 90,
putting him in the bottom quartile (the dulls). These
constraints produced a sample of 710 pairs. How much
difference did IQ make? Earned income is a good place to
begin. In 1993, when we took our most recent look at
them, members of the sample were aged 28-36. That year,
the bright siblings earned almost double the average of
the dull: £22,400 compared to £11,800. The normals were
in the middle, averaging £16,800.

[IQ
Will Put You In Your Place
, Charles Murray,
Sunday Times
, UK, Day 25, 1997]

By the way, these
earnings gaps are likely to widen with age, as the
blue-collar workers` bodies wear out and therefore their
incomes stagnate or fall.

Within families,
parents do a better job of equalizing children`s
environments than any government less tyrannical than
the Khmer Rouge could accomplish. Yet, even with the
same upbringing, IQ differences are both substantial and
play a huge role in the kids` prosperity as adults.

The plight of the
left half of the Bell Curve is hardly restricted to

ghetto blacks.
It can afflict any family. Could your
children end up with the fuzzy end of the IQ lollipop?
Let`s work the numbers assuming that that you and your
spouse are both solidly ensconced in Murray`s brights.
Let`s say you each have an IQ of 119, which puts you
each at the 90th percentile. Well, due to regression
toward the mean, the chance that your child will join
you in the brights is less than fifty-fifty. In fact,
more than one fourth of your children would be expected
to inherit only double digit IQ`s. A sobering 9% of your
offspring are forecasted to end up among Murray`s dulls
with IQ`s in the 80`s or worse.

And unless your
children marry smarter people than themselves, you can
expect that fairly close to half of your grandchildren
will have below average IQ`s. (Of course, if you and
your spouse both come from ethnic groups or family trees
with an average IQ well above normal, the mean toward
which your kids will regress will be higher.)

Of course, marrying
a smart spouse is still the best, if not the only, way
of smartening up your offspring. The edge you get, while
not decisive in individual cases, would still be very
well worth playing at the roulette wheel.

But I hope the
exercise of contemplating our possible progeny can
engender a little of the empathetic identification with
the left half of the Bell Curve that is sorely lacking
among the IQ overclass today. But whether their problems
strike close to home for you or not, please do keep in
mind that half of our fellow American citizens belong to
this group today. Half of all Americans always will.
Including, probably, some of your children or
grandchildren.

How can we best
help those who didn`t roll sevens in the genetic
crapshoot? That`s what I`ll consider in my next column.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]