Mind the Gap

John Ray responds to my post on IQ and other stuff by writing,

Jonathan Wilde has a reasonable article on black IQ which makes a point that I have been making for decades: That those who do not want to believe in the evidence simply set ever higher standards of proof -- so much so that you would never prove anything about anything if you consistently did that. They use the fact that all science is essentially probabilistic as a dishonest way of avoiding conclusions they do not like. One point that Wilde seems to miss is that blacks are the same species as whites. So if IQ has a strong genetic basis in whites (which is generally agreed on among scientists) to say that it is not genetically transmitted in blacks is really quite amazing racism.

I believe the argument here is as follows:

We know there is a strong genetic basis to individual intelligence. Thus, if you believe that the IQ of whites has a strong genetic basis, then it follows that the same is true of blacks. Thus, the differences we find in IQ between blacks and whites have a strong genetic basis.

I don't think one can make the conclusion in the last sentence.

In lieu of a 'stastistical' explanation by which readers' eyes will glaze over, I've tried to think of a thought experiment which clearly conveys why not, but I am having a hard time. So I'll just give the statistical explanation first, and then I'll provide the best thought experiment I can come up with.

Eye glaze-inducing statistical explanation

The recent discussion in the blogosphere after James Watson's comments was about the IQ gap between blacks and whites. Even if IQ is known to be genetically determined, and even if it is known that difference in IQ between individuals within a race is genetically determined, it does not follow the IQ gap between races is genetically determined. When comparing variables which are products of multiple factors, it is difficult to tell which factors give rise to differences between those variables.

Confusing thought excercise

Let's talk about height. We know that height is to a large part genetically determined.

Consider two ethnicities: American mutts and natives of a hypothetical impoverished third-world country called Persephone. Suppose we measure the heights of adult American mutt males. Then we fly to Persephone and measure the heights of adult Persephonite males. We find that American mutts are six inches taller than Persephonites.

Can we now conclude, "We know height has a strong genetic basis. If it has a strong genetic basis in American mutts, then surely it has a strong genetic basis in Persephonites, and thus, the gap in height between American mutts and Persephonites is genetic"? Surely not.

To continue the thought excercise, we measure the heights of 3rd-generation Persephonite-Americans, whose ancestors came to America in the early part of the last century. We find that these Persephonite-Americans are not significantly shorter than American mutts.

What would we conclude? We would conclude that the differences in height between American mutts and native Persephonites is mostly environmental. Yes, height has a strong genetic basis, but the gap is environmental.

Conclusion

The discussion since Watson's comments has been about the gap in IQ between whites and blacks. Even if IQ has a strong genetic basis, it does not follow that the gap is due to genetics.

Which is why the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study is so important: it's analogous to placing the Persephonites in America. I'll have a post on the MTAS in the future.

Update 

The bastard Constant has a better, simpler analogy:

"Let genetics be the seed, let environment be the fertilizer, and let IQ be the size of the plant. The size of the plant has a strong basis in the seed, but if blacks have smaller plants than whites, this does not mean that blacks have genetically inferior seeds than whites. It may be, instead, that blacks' seeds receive less fertilizer than whites' seeds."

 

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Sure

We know there is a strong genetic basis to individual intelligence. Thus, if you believe that the IQ of whites has a strong genetic basis, then it follows that the same is true of whites. Thus, the differences we find in IQ between blacks and whites have a strong genetic basis.

I don't think one can make the conclusion in the last sentence.

I think you mean "the same is true of blacks."

Of course you're right.

Let genetics be the seed, let environment be the fertilizer, and let IQ be the size of the plant. The size of the plant has a strong basis in the seed, but if blacks have smaller plants than whites, this does not mean that blacks have genetically inferior seeds than whites. It may be, instead, that blacks' seeds receive less fertilizer than whites' seeds.

However, John Ray appears to be aware of this. When I examined John Ray's 1972 piece, which he linked to, it specifically discussed the genetics/environment distinction and the possibility that an observed difference between populations might be environmental rather than genetic, even given that intelligence has a strong genetic basis. He writes:

To use Hebb's (1949) terminology there are two types of intelligence -- A and B. Intelligence A is the inborn, hereditary "given" whereas intelligence B is intelligence as measured, i.e. intelligence A plus some variable overlay of learned problem-solving strategies. It is mean differences across races in intelligence A that is of concern here.

Substitution of Ideology for Science

The way to assess differences in intelligence A is to control or equalize the influences and opportunities affecting the B Component. When this is done, differences remaining are attributable to intelligence A variations. Tanser (1939), Bruce (1940), and McQueen and Browning (1960) have carried out such studies where environmental influences on white and Negro groups have been controlled. All reported significant superiority of the white groups.

Thanks - typo fixed

I'll have to comment on the rest later.

Ah

I didn't follow the link because I thought the destination was going to be about ever-elusive standards and was going by my interpretation of the last few sentences.

IQ is Genetic?

In these recent discussions, and even in the peer-reviewed literature (e.g., Flynn) genetics and environment are treated as separate independent variables. That assumption is wrong.. In reality, they are not independent. Genetically smarter humans have the capability to better improve environments for themselves and their children. Simple example - having enough *sense* to come in from the cold (or to read to your children). So even environment has a strong genetic component. Same flaw exists in the Lewonton "wheat field" analogy - wheat cannot change its own environment as can humans.

As IQs have ratcheted upward with time, due to improved environments, the racial gaps have remained essentially constant in America. The black white SAT gap has been around 200 points since the test was created. And that holds even at the top of the IQ spectrum: those blacks admitted to Ivy League universities, the cream of the black intellectual student crop, children of rich blacks who have had all the environmental advantages, the best blacks that can be scraped up anywhere in the country and given a free ride (to pump Ivy diversity numbers) are 200 points down from whites (TBC, pg452). And those aren't even the smartest whites, as some are children of rich alumni donors, legacy admissions, who get Ivy-admitted without meeting the same rigorous requirements as other applicants...

There is no way the race IQ gap is not fundamentally genetic. IQ potential is established at conception and for some folks, that potential is not great. Environment determines the degree to which IQ potential is realized.. Rushton’s publications (and James Watson’s recent comments) are heavily-supported with mountains of peer-reviewed research by well-credentialed scholars; numerous key citations are available in two recent books: Hart "Understanding Human History" and Lynn "Race Differences in Intelligence."

"To continue the thought

"To continue the thought excercise, we measure the heights of 3rd-generation Persephonite-Americans, whose ancestors came to America in the early part of the last century. We find that these Persephonite-Americans are not significantly shorter than American mutts"

A false analogy. NOTHING seems to move average black IQ. Blacks do NOT have the same average IQ after many generations in USA

I never claimed they did

A false analogy. NOTHING seems to move average black IQ. Blacks do NOT have the same average IQ after many generations in USA

I never claimed they did

Amusing that thought

Amusing that thought experiments and other theories are so much relied on in this field

We need neither. We have actual data -- and have had for decades. No matter what allowances you make for environmental factors, the gap narrows only a little

Amusing that thought

Amusing that thought experiments and other theories are so much relied on in this field

We need neither. We have actual data -- and have had for decades. No matter what allowances you make for environmental factors, the gap narrows only a little

If the purpose of my post was to say what causes the IQ gap, I'd agree. 

But the thought experiment was only to argue your statement that because scientists believe the IQ of whites has a strong genetic basis, that implies that the IQ gap has a genetic basis.

Further, the thought experiment helps clarify what sorts of data are important for the skeptical observer, thus my conclusion about the need to look at the adoption studies.

The Fatally Flawed Letters- IQ

The concern that fair minded persons should have is that IQ scores don’t get blown out of proportion. You can see it being played out in the comments. The person with the higher IQ is thought to be genetically superior to those with lower IQs. Oh no, no IQ is controlled by the environment. The reason one person is superior to the other is because he has a superior environment. Well maybe it is a combination of the two. OK so you say Whites are smarter than Blacks because either their heredity or their environment is superior. The implicit racism is all too obvious.

 

Because of the history of the way the concept of IQ is used this is inevitable. Thus it is best to forget about the whole thing because of the total contamination of the concept. There is really no other way. This is in no way an endorsement of know-nothingism.

 

This whole IQ testing thing was invented well before other ideas about intellectual performance such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and other psychometric measurements were devised. If you ever had children who had a little trouble in school, the first thing they do is whisk them off to a councilor and get tested. I guarantee you that they can find something wrong with everyone of them.
All my friends and, I have abnormal learning disabled children. They have all had IQ tests and 100 is a laughably low IQ score. They were miswired some other way but all did fine in the end. The enshrinement of IQ is just a holdover from early 20th century eugenics ideas and cannot be rehabilitated. It needs to be replaced by measurements that aren’t emotionally and politically loaded. For instance how to Whites compare to Blacks in dyslexia or form constancy in reading. I bet you don’t know.
Dave

IQ is Genetic?

So it is OK to squander billions of precious taxpayer dollars trying to close a racial cognitive gap (NCLB plus numerous state and local programs), a gap which is genetically hard-wired and can never be closed, anymore than you can, with the proper environment, cause all students to graduate with natuarlly red hair and green eyes...? A gap which has not significantly changed since measurements of it began. Duh. All because it is politically correct and makes people feel good, however hopeless...

Why not drop the "b" or "r" word

OK so you say Whites are smarter than Blacks because either their
heredity or their environment is superior. The implicit racism is all
too obvious.

This is one of the reasons I've become allergic to calling people "bigots" or "racists". It's the cool new replacement to "bourgeois" - a term that we can use to dismiss someone, rather than deal seriously and rationally with them. Contemptuous pigeonholing can be a mind killer - it kills the mind of the person expressing contempt.

Bob: The observed inequalities are due to racism. Let us implement racial hiring quotas.

Bill: But what if they are not due to racism?

Bob: What else might they be due to?

Bill: What if there is a statistical IQ gap?

Bob: You are a racist. I'm not going to take you seriously any more.

The problem with all too readily dismissing people as bigots is similar, in fact, to the problem of bigotry itself, which is another form of contemptuous pigeonholing. Every concept is, admittedly, a pigeonhole, so it is not automatically wrong to pigeonhole things, because it's not automatically wrong to speak. Nevertheless, in certain contexts it gets in the way of clear thinking. There's a serious dispute about racial disparities and their origins, and a serious reason for that dispute. Dismissing one swath of participants in that dispute as "racists" is no path to truth.

There are bigotries which are still popular among the supposed intelligentsia and therefore serious mind-killers. Bigotry about bigotry is one of them. Dismissing people as "rednecks", "trailer trash", or "white trash" has also become a popular pastime among the supposedly urbane. Bigotry about Jews, thinly disguised as knee-jerk and obsessive criticism of Israel and excuse-mongering for any and all of its enemies no matter what they do, seems to have been on the rise lately, and resurfaces any time someone attacks them and - gasp - they defend themselves. How dare they.

So, judgment is required. I'm not a bigot about being a bigot about bigotry. I'm more, just wary of it.

A couple things.  1.

A couple things. 

1. Comments like the one you're responding to, do not, in my view, merit a response.

2. If we do stop throwing epithets like "racist" and "bigot" around, that's fine, but please let's not fill the vaccuum with terms from Dune.

Dune?

It's been a while but I don't remember any trailer trash in Dune.

Oh please, Jonathan.  You

Oh please, Jonathan.  You have a better description of the Fremen?

Or what

but please let's not fill the vaccuum with terms from Dune.

Or what, you'll prick me with a gom jabbar? You'll send a hunter-seeker after me? Neither will work, because I've mastered prana-bindu.

Pfff. How typical of a

Pfff. How typical of a counter-revolutionary to say that.

Bah

Why should I waste my time listening to an the tie-dye wearing, pot-smoking, hippie anarchist that I'm sure you are? Get a job, you bum!