Race and IQ debate – links

William Saletan, a writer for Slate, recently wrote a loud series of articles on genetic racial differences in IQ in the wake of James Watson’s controversial remarks. It prompted lots of discussion; here is an excellent response from Richard Nisbett, a leading authority in the field on the environmentalist side of the debate.

More academic articles: Rushton and Jensen’s 2005 review of evidence for genetic differences; and what I’ve found to be the most balanced so far, the 1995 APA report Inteligence: Knowns and Unknowns which concludes for all the heated claims out there, the scientific evidence tends to be pretty weak.

Blog world: Funny title from Brad DeLong; and another Slate response to Saletan and Rushton/Jensen.

The politics of the race and intelligence question is a huge distraction from trying to find out the actual truth of the matter. But I suppose the political implications are why it attracts so much attention — for good or bad.

The most interesting thing I learned is the Flynn Effect: IQ’s as measured by standardized tests have been consistently rising, in all populations throughout the world ever since IQ tests were invented. This implies some sort of non-genetic determiners — perhaps education and environmental factors — can have a very large effect on intelligence. Here is a good overview from Ulric Neisser, the lead author on the APA report.

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5 Responses to Race and IQ debate – links

  1. Anonymous says:


    What Dr. James D. Watson said is totally True.

    The races do have different races.

    Africans in usa have IQ of 82-85.

    15-18 gap with whites of 100

    Africans in africa have IQ of 70 in sub-saharian africa.

    All facts known to the world via internet and google.

    Google the truth. google truth.

    Look at SAT scores from NSF: national science foundation.

    Races do diifer in IQ scores.

    Races differ in SAT scores. From the National science foundation


  2. Mike says:

    I was going to comment, but anonymous really said it all when they said “Google the truth. google truth.”

  3. Eric Fish says:

    Let’s go back over this logic:

    Claim: James Watson is correct that the difference in mean IQ test results between black people and white people is caused mostly by genetic rather than environmental differences.

    Justification: There is a difference between the mean IQ test results of black people and white people.


  4. John says:

    nice discussion

  5. I personally believe that “Psychological Science” has not matured enough to be even considered for the legal proceedings. For instance, a person with “strong IQ or Mental ability” can easily play around the tests conducted by the Psychologists. I have read in many articles from a renowned psychologist Mr. Maurice Prout, on his website http://www.mauricefproutphd.com/, where he discussed how Psychology Science can help in solving most intricate crime mysteries.
    But I still think that Psychology has long way to go, at least another “decade” in order to be vouched for in criminal investigations.