Race/ IQ Explanation Gap At “Achievement Gap Summit”
The black-white achievement gap
baffle America`s best minds. Just this week we
are being treated to the
"Achievement Gap Summit," a conference in
Sacramento, California. It will draw no fewer
than 4,000 uplift experts to no fewer than 125
called to address racial disparities in academic
performance , By Nanette Asimov, San
Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2007]
One of the organizers is
Jack O`Connell, California`s top bureaucrat for
schools. He has announced the bold discovery that
lagging black and Hispanic test scores are not
poverty alone. The racial gaps in achievement
are even greater for
wealthy children than for poor children, he has
found. So, he says, something else must be going on.
Mr. O`Connell has decided the
culprit is "cultural ignorance" in the
schools. For example, he explains, blacks learn to
clap and chant in
church, and don`t realize they are not supposed
to do this in school. And so they get bad grades.
Mr. O`Connell has gone through
hours of sensitivity training to learn this. He
wants every teacher in California to do the same.
Likewise this week, newspapers
reported on a Pew Charitable Trust study [Economic
Mobility of Black and White Families] that
found blacks are three times more likely than whites
to drop out of the middle class into the lowest
fifth of income earners. [Middle-Class
Dream Eludes African American Families, By
Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post,
November 13, 2007]
More specifically, 45 percent of
black children whose parents were earning the 1968
median income grew up to be poor. Only 16 percent of
white children from similar families hit the skids.
Ronald B. Mincy, [send
was an advisor to the Pew study, says they went over
the results again and again to make sure they were
right. "There is a lot of
downward mobility among African Americans,"
he told the Washington Post. “We don`t
have an explanation."
There is a lot of overlap, of
course, and some blacks are smarter than most
whites. But while 50 percent of whites have IQs over
100, only 16 percent of blacks do. Likewise, whites
are 20 times more likely than blacks to have IQs of
130 or higher.
One of the best-established facts in
the social sciences—and something that is obvious to
everyone—is that people with high IQs tend to do
better in school and better in life than people with
Clapping and chanting in church has nothing to
do with it.
The evidence that racial differences
in IQ are at least partly genetic is overwhelming,
despite the outraged shrieks that greet anyone who
points this out. (As the
James Watson affair shows, the shrieks have
become so hysterical we can be sure the
guardians of orthodoxy are
less sure of their position than ever.)
When very tall people have children,
for example, they don`t keep getting taller and
taller, generation after generation. The children
are likely to be taller than average—but not as tall
as their parents.
The process works in the other
direction, too: Very short people don`t keep having
even shorter children; the generations drift up
towards the average.
Regression is only a tendency, however.
Occasionally parents at the extremes produce
children who are even more extreme. But that is
rare. The more
extreme the parents are, the
stronger the pullback towards the mean.
The people who agonize over the
achievement gap would rather cover their ears than
hear this—but regression explains what baffles
both Mr. O`Connell in California and Prof. Mincy of
Columbia. It explains both why the
Hispanic-Asian) achievement gap is greater at
higher income levels, and why blacks are more likely
to fall out of the middle class than whites.
Among blacks, IQ regresses to a mean
of 85 rather than 100. So a black who has a high
enough IQ to be comfortably middle class—say 120—is
much further out toward the IQ extreme for his group
than a white with an IQ of 120. Which means the pull
towards the mean is much more powerful for the
children of smart blacks than it is for the children
of equally smart whites.
Put differently, if you match black
parents and white parents for IQ, the black-white IQ
gap for the children increases sharply as the
parents` IQs go up.
And that, Mr. O`Connell, is why the
black-white test score gap is greater for the
rich parents than it is for poor parents. It may
be a rotten shame, but it is just plain harder for
middle-class blacks than for whites to
pass on their intelligence—and therefore their
social status—to their children.
In his book, The g Factor,
Arthur Jensen gives a striking example of
regression to the mean. He collected the IQ scores
of all the elementary school students in one
California school district. He then picked out all
the students—both black and white—with IQs of 120, a
score well above the white mean but even further
above the black mean. He found that the average IQ
scores for the brothers and sisters of these
children was 113 for the white children and 99 for
It was to be expected that siblings
have lower IQs than the hotshots. But these figures
show just how much more freakish it is for black
than white children to have IQs of 120. These very
smart blacks were, on average, 21 points ahead of
their brothers and sisters; the whites were only
seven points ahead.
To repeat: Very smart whites have
somewhat less smart children, but very smart blacks
are likely to have markedly less smart children.
And there is something else going on
that the uplift crowd refuses to hear: Blacks have
disadvantages entirely apart from IQ. As
Charles Murray and
Richard Herrnstein note in the their book The Bell Curve
when they are matched for IQ, black women are
still five times more likely than white women to
illegitimate children, and two and a half times
more likely to
go on welfare. And even with matched IQs, blacks
are two and a half times
more likely to have gone to jail.
This probably has to do with greater
impulsiveness, or a lower willingness to sacrifice
in the present for gains in the future. A classic
1961 study found that black children are much more
likely than white children to ask for a small candy
bar today than wait a week for a bigger one. (W. Mischel,
"Preference for Delayed Reinforcement and Social
Responsibility," Journal of Abnormal and
Social Psychology 62, 1: 1-7.)
Richard Lynn has written that blacks
consistently score higher than whites on tests of
psychopathic personality, again, even when they are
matched for the same IQ. (See
Racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic
personality, Personality and Individual
Differences, 2002, Vol. 32, pp.273-316. Or his
American Renaissance article on the same
Race and Psychopathic Personality, July 2002 )
Psychopathic personality—and the
misbehavior that goes with it—is just the kind
of thing that contributes to bad grades, and drags
middle-class black children into the underclass.
And I can promise you that not one
of the 125 panels at the Achievement Gap Summit will
talk about it.
once said that given a choice between agreeable
fantasy and disagreeable fact, Americans will go for
the fantasy every time. The
fantasy these days is that racial differences
are (in California educrat O`Connell`s words)
positively not genetic."
Until people such as
Arthur Jensen and
Richard Lynn and
Charles Murray are on the
achievement gap panels and are
advising the Pew Charitable Trust, people who
ought to know better will keep on finding they
“don`t have an explanation” for simple problems.
Jared Taylor (email
him) is editor of
and the author of
Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race
Relations in Contemporary America.
(For Peter Brimelow`s review, click
He reports that the
Renaissance conference will be held
February 22-24, 2008 in Herndon, VA.