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The Two Missing Letters in the Brown Debate: IQ
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May 16, 2004, 05:00 AM
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On the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court`s Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision, the press is full of articles on the surprising frustrations in the quest for equal education.

Whites (and, although unmentioned in the press, Asians) still flee public schools once the percentage of black (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Hispanic) students reaches a critical mass. And even integrated middle class black students still lag far behind white and Asian test scores on average.

What you won`t find in the media is any mention of the simplest explanation for these vexing phenomena: IQ.

On Saturday morning, I searched Google News for press coverage of "Brown v. Board of Education" and turned up 1,610 recent articles.

Yet, when I added the dread letters "IQ" to the search, all Google News could come up with is one column by that national resource Thomas Sowell.

As the 10th anniversary of Richard Herrnstein`s and Charles Murray`s bestseller The Bell Curve approaches, the entire concept of IQ has become the great unmentionable in writing about education.  

On the other hand, secretly IQ remains a vital subject in nice liberal neighborhoods, where upper middle class parents strive desperately to get their kids into public school gifted programs that have extremely exclusive IQ requirements (and thus few black or Hispanic students).

Four years ago, I wrote a five-part VDARE.COM series on how to help the left half of the IQ bell curve. In my first article, "IQ and Why We`re Afraid to Talk About It," I noted:

"Honest talk about IQ would expose some deeply personal inconsistencies among our most influential thinkers. Although the typical white intellectual claims he wants to censor discussion of IQ to shield black self-esteem, his sometimes-berserk reactions reveal that he finds it a peril to his own self-image. The typical white intellectual considers himself superior to ordinary white people for two contradictory reasons: First, he constantly proclaims his belief in human equality, but they don`t. Second, he has a high IQ, but they don`t."

So, which is it, liberals?

A. IQ tests are meaningless, racist, and the spawn of the devil.

B. IQ tests prove that liberals are superior to conservatives.

Because IQ remains wildly popular among Democrats for the purpose of asserting mental superiority over Republicans. Look at this table headed "So Democrats really are smarter." The prestigious magazine The Economist (with which we`ve had to criticize before) picked it up from one of the hundreds of liberal blogs that gleefully circulated it earlier this month.

http://web.archive.org/web/20110719182638im_/http://www.vdare.com/images/smarterdems.jpg

The Economist, May 15, 2004, p. 26

Among many ironies, The Economist falsely attributed this table to " IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen (2002)." That landmark book, with its fascinating table of average IQs for 81 countries, is about nations, not states.

In March, J. Philippe Rushton, the Canadian social psychologist, wrote in VDARE.com:

"The book`s thesis—that a country`s prosperity is closely related to the average IQ of its population—should have made the cover of The Economist because of its devastatingly important implications. But, although some academics took notice, it was ignored by the mainstream media."

As far as I can tell, this phony table is the first time The Economist has deigned to mention Lynn and Vanhanen`s two-year-old book.

But the table printed in The Economist is a HOAX. (Click here for all the evidence of its bogosity on my www.iSteve.blogspot.com blog.) The counterfeit IQ numbers are self-evidently spurious. That mostly white states like Montana and South Dakota would score 23 points below Connecticut is ridiculous. You`d expect to see a 15-point gap only between an all-white state and an all-black state.

Which party is smarter: Republican or Democrats?

I don`t know of any legitimate IQ data by state, although they may well exist. As a rough proxy, however, we can use the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress achievement test scores for public school eighth graders.

Combining the Math and Reading scores, we get the following table. (You`ll note that rock-ribbed Republican Montana and South Dakota, which The Economist claims are over 1.5 standard deviations stupider than liberal Connecticut, actually outscored that New England state on the NAEP!)

Rank

Top States

2000

M+R NAEP

 

Rank

Bottom States

2000

M+R NAEP

1

Massachusetts

Gore

560

 

41

Arizona

Bush

526

2

Minnesota

Gore

559

 

41

Tennessee

Bush

526

3

New Hampshire

Bush

557

 

43

Arkansas

Bush

524

3

North Dakota

Bush

557

 

44

Nevada

Bush

520

3

Vermont

Gore

557

 

45

Louisiana

Bush

519

6

Montana

Bush

556

 

46

California

Gore

518

7

South Dakota

Bush

555

 

47

Hawaii

Gore

517

8

Iowa

Gore

552

 

48

Mississippi

Bush

516

9

Colorado

Bush

551

 

49

Alabama

Bush

515

9

Connecticut

Gore

551

 

49

New Mexico

Gore

515

9

Wyoming

Bush

551

 

51

D.C.

Gore

477

Overall, the averages (not weighted by population): Gore States 539.6; Bush States 538.7. That`s less than a single point difference on a scale that ranges 83 points from liberal Massachusetts down to the ultra-liberal District of Columbia.

A simpler and perhaps better approach is to look at the educational attainments of Gore and Bush voters according to the 2000 VNS exit poll:

Vote by Education

% of All Voters

Gore

Bush

No H.S. Degree

5%

59%

39%

High School Graduate

21%

48%

49%

Some College

32%

45%

51%

College Graduate

24%

45%

51%

Post-Graduate Degree

18%

52%

44%

If you weight this data on a 1 to 5 scale, with the high school dropouts as 1, then the two candidates are almost exactly equal once again. Bush edges out Gore by the meaninglessly tiny margin of 3.29 to 3.28. This means the average Bush and Gore voters both fall between "Some College" (3.0) and "College Graduate" (4.0).

Gore did better among those claiming post-grad degrees, but many of the Democrat voters were schoolteachers holding degrees in Education. Also, in the 2002 House races, according to the long-delayed VNS exit poll data that was finally released in 2003, "Republicans won for the first time in decades among those claiming to have post-graduate degrees. They even captured a majority of women with college or post-graduate degrees."

So I`d call this dispute over which party is smarter a dead-even toss-up. And silly.

It`s a tragedy that the issue of IQ is thus alternately taboo and trivialized. On this 50th anniversary of Brown, it`s very much worth thinking about what can be done to improve the lot of lower IQ Americans.

My concluding article back in 2000 still makes a lot of sense. The first requirement is that we publicly admit that we don`t live in Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average. We need to discuss seriously what is in the best interest of our fellow citizens with two-digit IQs.

For example, let`s stop admitting unskilled immigrants to compete with our own unskilled Americans.

Another promising approach: try to raise the IQs of future Americans. David J. Armor, a professor at George Mason U., has written Maximizing Intelligence, which offers sensible advice to future parents on how to help their offspring get the maximum out of their intellectual potential.

For example, promoting breastfeeding looks highly promising. The Associated Press reported:

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