Saturday, June 30, 2012
Race and Intelligence: Unlocking the Truth
No topic of which I am aware gets to the core of an individual's ability to cope with reality better than race. If a person's intellectual core is emotionalism, moral dogmatism, or social conformism, bringing up race will bring it out.
Race itself isn't an emotional or a moral or a philosophical or a political or a social construct. Race -- or haplotype, cline, or population, or subspecies, or whatever term you prefer -- is a genetic construct produced by the adaptive process over thousands of years.
Race deniers seek to protect their social views against the perceived threat of acknowledging sets of distinct phenotypes produced by patterns of geographical isolatation in the distinct evolutionary lineages of individuals. Race deniers deny that observable clusters of phenotypic distinctions among people, extending to skull shape and brain size, have objective biological existence.
Now with regard to questions of existence, it IS all or nothing. Either races exist or they do not. If they exist, and if there are intelligence differences among them, then the pertinent question is: To what DEGREE does racial inheritance itself cause the observed correlation?
To insist that race accounts for 0% of intelligence differences among phenotypically disparate populations is irrational and implausible. It would be to suppose that evolution endowed races with different skin, facial features, bone density, skull shape, leg length, testosterone levels, vocal resonance, and host of other phenotypical differences but left the brain itself untouched in some non-adaptive state, that once humans branched off into races, evolution shut down inside the brain but kept working everywhere else.
The responses race equalitarians give when their views on race are challenged are indicative of their emotionalist psychology and idealistic worldview. If positive claim X about race makes them feel uncomfortable or conflicts with their ideal of all races being innately equal, then positive claim X is transmuted into a normative claim in the mind of the denier so that the claim and the individual making it can be denounced via a moral rationalization that is irrelevant to the claim's objective truth or falsehood.
My views on race are an application of my own independent thinking on the subject. That's not the case for most people who espouse race equalitarianism, which is unfounded scientifically but reinforced socially and accorded the status of a pseudo-truth, not as a consequence of factual correctness but of political correctness. The person who succumbs to group-think in believing, without evidence, in innate equality because it feels good, is of a similar mindset as a person succumbs to group-think in believing, without evidence, in the superiority of his race because it feels good.
Tens of thousands of years of human geographic isolation produced racial distinctions all the way to the marrow of the bone. Any practicing medical doctor who adopted denialist views on race would be committing malpractice. You have to be a race realist with regard to the body's internal chemistry to grasp, for example, that performing bone marrow or organ transplants from one race to another is dangerous. The immune system is likely to reject the implanted material as foreign. It is often very difficult for mixed race individuals find suitable bone marrow on the donor registry. Fortunately, we can pinpoint anyone's racial ancestry, however mixed, with great precision using DNA analysis.
What most deniers do is compartmentalize. They accept the biological reality of race when it's a useful concept to them and deny it in contexts when they view it as opening the door to something undesirable. This is the fallacy of appealing to consequences.
To withhold full consideration of the factual merits of a claim until one knows that the facts will lead to "positive" outcomes (in an emotional or moral sense) is to invert the relationship between facts and values. All rational values are based on facts first identified objectively. An objective assessment takes into account only whether a claim corresponds with reality, not whether it accords with a pre-derived emotional or moral standard.
The notion that racial distinctions exist in all organs of the body...except the brain...is an fantastical one, especially in light of the fact that skull measurements show clearly identifiable racial traits on virtually every major feature of the skull, from eye orbits to teeth. Moreover, modern MRI scans show measurable differences in brain size and shape between Africans, Europeans, and East Asians.
Twin studies show that IQ is mostly inherited and identifiable in the brain itself. All environmental, economic, and cultural factors put together have less explanatory power than inheritance.
Racial variation exists biologically because the human species as it branched out geographically didn't stop evolving. Racial variation affects organs, body systems, and chemicals. Racial variation influences susceptibility to certain diseases, influences psychological traits such as extroversion, and influences cognitive capacity,
Charles Murray expects the black/white IQ gap to stay about the same or widen slightly in the decades ahead due to higher rates of dysgenic reproduction among blacks. The reason why he's not optimistic about socioeconomic improvements narrowing the gaps is because:
1) We observe that the gaps don't go away when controlling for socioeconomic status (blacks underperform when compared to other races across all income levels. 2) Part of the reason why blacks are disproportionately in poverty is because of their innately smaller brains and lower IQs, which translate into poorer job skills.
A strong heritability component to intelligence -- which is now proven, established science -- would not square with the degree and persistency of observed racial variation in intelligence unless the heritable traits for intelligence also vary by race. We know that traits for brain size vary by race, and that these variations line up with variations in measures of intelligence.
Obviously, there is overlap in racial IQ variation, just as there is overlap in height with the bell curves for men and women plotted against each other. Clearly, men are taller on average. Most of that is genetic, though certainly malnourishment and other environmental factors can stunt one's full height potential.
That women today might be as tall on average as men were in generations past does not mean that the male/female height gap has no genetic basis. In fact, it is mostly genetic. And so is the black/white IQ gap.
Even supposing that IQ was only 50% heritable, race differences in IQ could still be mostly heriditary in origin because environmental advantages/disadvantages between groups can cancel out. If Asians in the US don't have better environments than European-Americans on net, then the Asian IQ advantage can be 100% attributable to genetic differences, even if IQ variation among individuals is only 50% genetic.
Asians and Europeans have some environmental advantages over Africans on average, but there is more environmental variation within the races than between the averages of each race. So the black/white IQ gap has always been mostly genetic, except perhaps in the time of slavery (before IQ tests were given), and becomes more genetic as the social environments under which blacks and whites live become more similar. Frederick Douglass, assuming his IQ would have tested above average in adulthood, shows that even being enslaved doesn't prevent one's innate cognitive abilities from ultimately being realized and expressed. IQ becomes more heritable with age, and is about 75% so in adulthood according to the best science.
The genetic component of the race gaps can't be transcended, and any environmental component is likely to be caused largely by the innate IQ disparity itself (low-IQ people tend to inhabit and raise children in worse environments because of their low IQs). Well-off, well-educated blacks have kids who on average score BELOW white kids whose parents are rednecks.
Therefore, as Murray suggests, we shouldn't expect the black/white IQ gap to narrow in the future (it hasn't in 40 years). You can be an idealist and believe something else if you want or be a super-skeptic and refuse to believe or espouse any position, in which case reality will continue to escape your notice.
Reality, of course, is irrelevant to wishful thinkers and willful evaders. Still, IT IS.
Racial differences, no matter how much abhorred or denied, won't go away. You can denounce them or close your eyes to them. But they're still going to be there, so you might as well open your eyes, open your mind, and deal with them.