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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And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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