[Paleopsych] VDare: Steve Sailer: Charles Murray Re-enters Great American Inequality Debate
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Wed Sep 14 01:28:56 UTC 2005
Steve Sailer: Charles Murray Re-enters Great American Inequality Debate
Steve Sailer Archive
Charles Murray Re-enters Great American Inequality Debate
By Steve Sailer
Social scientist Charles Murray, the co-author of the 1994
bestseller The Bell Curve, is perhaps America's premier data
analyst. His 1984 book Losing Ground provided the intellectual
impetus for the successful 1996 welfare reform law. His 2003 work
Human Accomplishment is a delightful statistical romp among the
most eminent scientists and artists in global history.
Now, Murray is back with a landmark essay, "The Inequality Taboo,"
in the September issue of Commentary. The printed text alone
totals 7,500 words, and the web version contains over 10,000
additional words of notes and sources. If published just by itself,
Murray's 1,500-word Footnote 44 would rank as the crucial
statement on the recent trends and future prospects of the white-black
Known among his friends for his remarkable judiciousness, Murray is a
rather sensitive soul. The foul calumny he has been subjected to
over the last eleven years must have been tiresome.
Murray hadn't crafted an essay about IQ since his little known (but
important) 1999 effort reporting the then latest results of the
enormous military-funded National Longitudinal Study of Youth look at
IQ and life outcomes. This year, however, the absurd denunciations
visited upon Harvard president Larry Summers for offering what
Murray calls "a few mild, speculative, off-the-record remarks about
innate differences between men and women in their aptitude for
high-level science and mathematics," persuaded Murray that
intellectual discourse in America had decayed so shamefully that he
needed to return to the fray.
"The Inequality Taboo" consists of three parts:
bullet A defense of Summers's discussion of why brainiac math nerds
are more likely to be male than female;
bullet An updating on the last decade's worth of new findings on the
white-black IQ gap;
bullet And a ringing call to Americans to start discussing honestly
the group differences that we see every day:
"What good can come of raising this divisive topic? The honest answer
is that no one knows for sure. What we do know is that the taboo
has crippled our ability to explore almost any topic that involves the
different ways in which groups of people respond to the world around
them--which means almost every political, social, or economic topic of
Murray suggests that both high-end male-female cognitive differences
and the white-black IQ gap appear to be more or less "intractable"--he
"Whatever the precise partitioning of causation may be (we seldom
know), policy interventions can only tweak the difference at the
Murray's defense of Summers is well-done, although the stupidity
and bad faith of the attacks on the Harvard president were so
blatant that lesser analysts managed to make most of Murray's
points last winter.
One interesting fact that Murray doesn't mention is that the
much-demonized IQ researcher Cyril Burt was the first to determine
that women were equal to men in intelligence. British psychometrician
Chris Brand writes:
"[I]n 1912, the British psychologist Cyril Burt overturned Victorian
wisdom by finding males to have the same average general intelligence
as females (using the new Binet tests from France), [and] this
finding was replicated in countless investigations (and qualified by
the observations that males have a wider range of IQs--thus producing
more geniuses and more mental defectives--and that adolescent boys
only temporarily lag behind adolescent girls in mental development)."
The majority of psychometricians, including, most notably, Arthur
Jensen, support Burt's finding of mean gender equality. (However,
Richard Lynn has a paper coming out arguing that men average a
third of a standard deviation--or five points--higher in IQ).
Nor is there any dispute that, just as Summers said, at the
extreme right edge of the Bell Curve, from which Harvard's
math and science professors are drawn, there are more men than
One of the most newsworthy aspects of "The Inequality Taboo" is
Murray's view that the white-black IQ gap may have narrowed
slightly in recent years. According to Murray's article, the three
most recent re-normings of major IQ tests came up with a mean
white-black gap of 0.92 standard deviations, or 14 points.
That doesn't sound like much of a change from the one standard
deviation (15 points) racial gap that IQ realists have been talking
about for decades. But, in reality, they've been intentionally
understating the traditional size of the difference. A 2001
meta-analysis of eight decades of data suggested a 1.1 standard
deviation gap (16.5) points. So, if this new 14 point gap found in the
three recent re-normings holds up as more data comes in, we may have
seen some significant progress on this massive social problem.
Currently, though, the evidence remains far from clear. Murray writes
in a footnote:
"Forced to make a bet, I would guess that the black-white difference
in IQ has dropped by somewhere in the range of .10-.20 standard
deviations over the last few decades. I must admit, however, that I am
influenced by a gut-level conviction that the radical improvement in
the political, legal, and economic environment for blacks in the last
half of the 20th century must have had an effect on IQ."
Murray is too honest, however, to skip over the other, more
disturbing, possibility: that the greater fertility of lower IQ
women has had a dysgenic and/or "dyscultural" effect. Murray has
calculated that 60% of the babies born to black women who began
participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth in 1979 were
born to women with IQs below the black female average of 85.7. Only 7%
were born to black women with IQs over 100.
I hope that the improved nutrition, health care, and other
environmental enhancements that have allowed African-Americans to come
to dominate basketball, football, and sprinting in recent
decades have also driven up black IQ scores more than the tendency of
intelligent black women to remain childless has driven them down.
But the overall situation remains murky. It needs more research than
is currently being funded.
Does part of the white-black IQ gap have a genetic basis? Murray
suggests an experiment that might prove conclusive:
"To the extent that genes play a role, IQ will vary by racial
admixture. In the past, studies that have attempted to test this
hypothesis have had no accurate way to measure the degree of
admixture, and the results have been accordingly muddy. The recent
advances in using genetic markers solve that problem. Take a large
sample of racially diverse people, give them a good IQ test, and then
use genetic markers to create a variable that no longer classifies
people as 'white' or 'black,' but along a continuum. Analyze the
variation in IQ scores according to that continuum. The results would
be close to dispositive."
I bet, however, that Murray's critics won't rush to fund this
study and put their money where their mouths are.
In his coda, Murray says:
"Thus my modest recommendation, requiring no change in laws or
regulations, just a little more gumption. Let us start talking about
group differences openly--all sorts of group differences, from the
visuospatial skills of men and women to the vivaciousness of
Italians and Scots. Let us talk about the nature of the manly
versus the womanly virtues. About differences between Russians and
Chinese that might affect their adoption of capitalism. About
differences between Arabs and Europeans that might affect the
assimilation of Arab immigrants into European democracies. About
differences between the poor and non-poor that could inform policy
for reducing poverty."
Sounds like the table of contents for VDARE.com!
"Even to begin listing the topics that could be enriched by an inquiry
into the nature of group differences is to reveal how stifled today's
conversation is... Let us stop being afraid of data that tell us a
story we do not want to hear, stop the name-calling, stop the denial,
and start facing reality."
I'm sometimes asked why I come up with more new insights than the
typical pundit. (Here's a list of four dozen things I've either
discovered myself, accurately forecasted, or scooped the rest of the
It's not because I'm smarter. It's because I just tell the truth.
The great thing about truths is that they are causally connected to
all the other truths in the world. If you follow one truth bravely, it
will lead you to another.
In contrast, lies, ignorance, and wishful thinking are dead ends.
The Great American Inequality Debate is in one of those dead ends.
Charles Murray--and we here at VDARE.COM--are trying to rescue it.
[Steve Sailer [email him], is founder of the Human Biodiversity
Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His
website www.iSteve.com features site-exclusive commentaries.]
66. mailto:steveslr at aol.com
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