We Need More Research Into Race and IQ, Please

Here in my little corner of the blogosphere, IQ and race are having yet another mini-moment. The reasons don’t really matter, and the arguments are exactly the same as they have been every time before. On the “blacks are dumber” side, it always goes something like this:

  • IQ is real; it matters; it’s partly determined by genetics; and blacks, on average, score lower on IQ tests than whites.

    Therefore:

  • Group IQ differences between blacks and whites are at least partly genetic.

There is enormous evidence to back up everything in the first bullet. But none of it implies that the second bullet is true, even though it might seem like common sense to people who haven’t thought very hard about it. Unfortunately, this includes almost everyone, which makes it easy to perpetuate the meme that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites. This is sometimes done explicitly, but more often with a sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge bit of handwaving.

This is why I’m all in favor of aggressive, well-funded research into race and intelligence. I don’t mean the fake Pioneer Fund sort of “research,” I mean honest, dispassionate research performed by real neuroscientists and geneticists. My read of the evidence so far is that racial IQ differences are very unlikely to be biologically based, and I would really, really like the research community to demonstrate this rigorously once and for all—and the sooner the better. This stuff will never go away until they do.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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