La Griffe du Lion has been one of the more stylish, audacious, and influential underground intellectuals of the 21st Century. No one wields a sharper Occam’s Razor than La Griffe.His pseudonym is drawn from an anecdote about a set of cutting edge math problems proposed by Johann Bernoulli in 1696. An anonymous correspondent solved them in a single night. Bernoulli, however, had little regarding doubt the identity of this seemingly mysterious figure:
“tanquam ex ungue leonem” (we recognize the lion by his claw).
As with most people I come into contact with who participate in public discussions under a pseudonym, I’ve tried to remain fuzzy about who La Griffe really is.Here’s a 2002 posting of his on test scores in Maryland that seems relevant this week.
THE EFFECT OF URBAN FLIGHT ON IQ DISTRIBUTIONA violation of the fundamental law of sociology is unearthed, pointing the way to an appraisal of inner-city and suburban IQs, and the characterization of cognitive discontinuities caused by urban migratory patterns.“There are very few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much hostility, or meets with so little benevolence, as when he challenges fashionable perceptions of race.”
– La Griffe du Lion, 2002The fundamental law of sociologyIf, as he begins this essay, the reader finds himself unacquainted with the fundamental law of sociology, he should not be reproached, for the law is first about to be articulated. It is a difficult task that we undertake, though in fact it is undemanding and straightforward. It is difficult because those who will welcome our results eagerly are among the most perfidious of our species, while those who reject them will do so out of antipathy not discernment. Sandwiched between the devil and the fuzzy-minded are the learned and sagacious readers of La Griffe du Lion, to whom we address our remarks.The fundamental law of sociology is a summary of hundreds of observations. It asserts that:On large-scale tests of reasoning ability, the observed mean difference between non-Hispanic whites and African Americans is 1.1 + 0.2 standard deviation.The observation is so unerringly reproducible, it justly earns the appellation, law. Appropriately, we call 1.1 SD the fundamental constant of sociology.The anomalyThere being no more reliable indicator of racial cognitive differences than the standardized math exam, we were surprised recently by a puzzling anomaly — an apparent violation of the fundamental law. Anomalies are sometimes swept aside because, after all, they are just anomalies. Sometimes, however, they fit into another design not immediately apparent, in which they are not aberrations, but rather the norm. So it was with this exception. The irregularity turned up on Maryland’s usually reliable standardized 8th grade math test, part of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP).Like many standardized-exam programs, MSPAP is a huge repository of cognitive information waiting to be extracted. Each May, all Maryland public school 3rd, 5th and 8th graders take these tests. Results are reported in exceptional detail, fully disaggregated by race and ethnicity, and reported down to the level of individual school.While browsing MSPAP pass rates looking for patterns, we happened upon something extraordinary — a black-white math gap of 0.55 SD, half that predicted by the fundamental law. The anomaly showed up in data from Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city. Almost seven-thousand Baltimore 8th graders contributed to this result, a sample too big to write off as a statistical aberration. There was, of course, the chance that pass rates were erroneously reported, so we went back and looked at results from each of the last nine administrations of this test (1993 to 2001). Over nine years we found an average gap of 0.61 + 0.07 SD. The anomaly was confirmed! We had found a reproducible violation of the fundamental law.The irregularity was confined to Baltimore. Statewide, the gap on the same test over nine years was a remarkably constant 1.11 + 0.05 SD, in perfect accord with the fundamental law. What had Baltimore done to so reduce the racial gap? It was not education reform or inspired pedagogy that cut the gap. It was demography.Urban migration in the twentieth centuryWhen John and Mack Rust invented the first reliable cotton picking machine in 1936, they could not have imagined the sociological impact it was to have. Perfected in the 1940s, the machine could pick as much as fifty men at one-eighth the cost. It gradually replaced Southern, mostly black field hands. Out of work, they turned northward to earn a living. Three-quarters of the 6.5 million blacks who migrated north between 1910 and 1970 left the South after the cotton picking machine came into widespread use. Jim Crow may have started the great migration, but it was the emergence of this new technology that fueled it.Black migrants settled mostly in Northern and Midwestern cities where they found work in low-skilled jobs. Barred from most residential areas, their neighborhoods hardened into overcrowded crime-plagued ghettos. Whites, facing an inhospitable intrusion into their lives, began a migration of their own to more remote parts of the city and eventually to the suburbs.With the passage of civil rights legislation in 1964, new residential opportunities opened for blacks. They began their own urban exodus, following whites to the suburbs. By the end of the twentieth century, most whites with the means to leave the central city had already done so. Black flight, however, was alive and well. Starting from near zero in 1960, by 1990 32 percent of metro-area blacks lived in suburbia, 39 percent by 2000.But escape from the inner city is a highly selective enterprise. It is an option open mostly to the right half of the bell curve. Consequently, urban flight creates a cognitive discontinuity where the city meets the suburbs. Left behind in the city is a human residue wanting in human capital.Unemployment, welfare dependency, drug addiction, coarseness and incivility are its hallmarks, low IQ its nub. Below we characterize the discontinuity, closely estimating mean IQs of inner-city and suburban dwellers, black and white. …Effects of urban flight on IQ distributionMaryland’s big city, Baltimore, saw its population peak just short of a million in 1950. It has been declining for nearly half a century, 17% in the last twenty years alone. Today it numbers about 651,000. White flight followed by black has drained the city of inhabitants. As its population dwindled, Baltimore like many other Northern and Midwestern cities without significant recent foreign immigration became blacker. Today, Baltimore is 65% African American, and 32% non-Hispanic white.Baltimoreans who fled the city moved mostly to neighboring Baltimore County. The County, which surrounds the city, is the first stop on the way out. Thirty years ago Baltimore County was lily white. Today, African Americans are 17 percent of its 726,000 inhabitants. And they keep coming. …Baltimore is typical of many Midwestern and Northern cities, whose demographics were forever changed by the great black migration of the twentieth century. Not unexpectedly we found a cognitive discontinuity at the city line. Surprising, however, was its magnitude. Whereas suburban mean IQs (86 for blacks, 99 for whites) conform more or less to national norms, city IQs are dreadfully low. With a mean IQ of 76, inner-city blacks fall about 0.6 SD below the African American average nationally. More than a third have death-penalty immunity on grounds of mental retardation. The inner-city white mean of 86 is nearly a full standard deviation below the national white average. By this measure, whites fared worse than blacks. …While we all are aware of the advantages that accrue to the brightest among us, we also know that other qualities carry with them inestimable benefits. Traits like honesty, reliability, perseverance and self-discipline, when cultivated contribute to employability and to a more productive life in general. Indeed, for low-skilled jobs these latter qualities are more important than intellect. Unfortunately, casual observation finds such virtues also wanting.Finally, we note that a problem cannot be solved until it is defined. This we have done. But where we see cognitive inadequacy, some will find only abject, hopeless misery. As for our efforts, we can be certain of only one thing — vilification. It could drive a man to pseudonymity