Friday, February 23, 2007


According to the American founders all men are created equal.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...
Does that mean all men have equal talents? Of course not. Some are fast runners and some are slow runners. Some are very smart some are not so smart. The equality the founders professed was equality before the law. And there by hangs a tale.

What I'm going to look at here is inequality. Let us start with sports.It seems some people run faster than others. I guess we have races to find out who is fastest of the fast.
Running offers the best prima facie case for the potential impact of body type differences. Athletes of West African descent dominate sports requiring speed and jumping, such as basketball and football. They hold the fastest two hundred 100-meter times, all under 10 seconds, and 494 of the top 500 times. In last weekend's NFL draft, of the 69 players who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds or less, only one is white.
How about marathons? That is a little different story.
Humans are different, the consequence of thousands of years of evolution in varying terrains. This is not an issue of black and white. East African blacks, from Kenya and Ethiopia, for example, have traveled a different evolutionary path and are genetically distinct in many aspects of their body type and physiology from West Africans. The best East African time in the 100 meters, 10.28 seconds, ranks near 5,000 on the all time list.

While relatively poor sprinters, East Africans win more than 50 percent of top endurance races. Almost all trace their ancestry to the 6,000-8,000 foot highlands that snake along the western edge of the Great Rift Valley. This region of roughly 1.5 million wins 40 percent of international distance events. The Nandi district in Kenya, 500,000 people – one-twelve-thousandth of Earth's population – sweeps an unfathomable 20 percent, marking it as the greatest concentration of raw athletic talent in the history of sports. They win in large measure because elite runners have a near perfect biomechanical package for endurance: lean, ectomorphic physiques and huge natural lung capacity.

"Kenyans are born with a high number of slow twitch fibers," states Bengt Saltin, director of the Institute of Sports Science in Copenhagen. "They have 70 to 75 percent of their muscle fibers being slow. Very many in sports physiology would like to believe that it is training, the environment, what you eat that plays the most important role. But based on the data it is 'in your genes' whether or not you are talented or whether you will become talented."
White folks sure got short changed when it comes to being runners. There must be some kind of athletics white people are good at. In fact there is.
Genetically linked, highly heritable characteristics such as skeletal structure, the distribution of muscle fiber types, reflex capabilities, metabolic efficiency, lung capacity and the ability to use energy more efficiently are not evenly distributed among populations and cannot be explained. For example, whites of Eurasian ancestry, who have, on average, more natural upper-body strength, predictably dominate weightlifting, field events such as the shot-put and hammer (whites hold 47 of the top 50 throws), and the offensive line in football. Where flexibility is key, East Asians shine, such as in diving and some skating and gymnastic events (hence the term "Chinese splits").
What does he mean by cannot be explained? I think he means that there is no explanation for the clustering of traits in certain groups other than isolated populations in different environments. Natural selection. Darwin in action. In the 100,000 years since our ancestors left Africa we have differentiated according to environment. That is pretty rapid evolution.

So what is all this race stuff any way? It is not like the different races can't interbreed. Isn't race just a social construct? Well no.
Several analyses have confirmed the genetic reality of group identities going under the label of race or ethnicity. In the most recent, published this year, all but five of the 3,636 subjects fell into the cluster of genetic markers corresponding to their self-identified ethnic group. When a statistical procedure, blind to physical characteristics and working exclusively with genetic information, classifies 99.9 percent of the individuals in a large sample in the same way they classify themselves, it is hard to argue that race is imaginary.
Now here comes the hard part. I think that it is now evident and different races have different athletic talents and even within races there are still more subdivisions. What about cognitive ability? Something the scientists call 'g', but we will call it by its better known but somewhat inaccurate term intelligence quotient or IQ. The term 'g' refers to raw computing power. IQ (not 'g') is divided into two main parts. Verbal and spatial intelligence.

Let us look into a real world example, Ashkenazi Jews, to see how this works.
Ashkenazi levels of real world accomplishment are impressive and thus support the IQ studies. Jewish Americans make up no more than three percent of the U.S. adult population. But in the 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene, the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out
"During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series." [pp 26-27]
Interestingly, the Ashkenazi cognitive advantage seems to be mostly in verbal and numeric, rather than visual, skills. For example, in Hollywood, fewer top cinematographers are Jewish compared to screenwriters or agents.
So that is one example of variation on the high end. The results are obvious. The differentiation of the Ashkenazi Jews happened in a span of 1,000 years or less. That is very rapid evolution.

So are Ashkenazis a race? Maybe. What they are for sure is an identifiable sub group based on DNA (their DNA is most like Arabic DNA, not too surprisingly) and genetic diseases that cluster in the Ashkenazis like Tay Sachs.

What about variation on the low end? Here comes the really hard part.
When the late Richard Herrnstein and I published The Bell Curve eleven years ago, the furor over its discussion of ethnic differences in IQ was so intense that most people who have not read the book still think it was about race. Since then, I have deliberately not published anything about group differences in IQ, mostly to give the real topic of The Bell Curve--the role of intelligence in reshaping America's class structure--a chance to surface.

The Lawrence Summers affair last January made me rethink my silence. The president of Harvard University offered a few mild, speculative, off-the-record remarks about innate differences between men and women in their aptitude for high-level science and mathematics, and was treated by Harvard's faculty as if he were a crank. The typical news story portrayed the idea of innate sex differences as a renegade position that reputable scholars rejected.

It was depressingly familiar. In the autumn of 1994, I had watched with dismay as
The Bell Curve's scientifically unremarkable statements about black IQ were successfully labeled as racist pseudoscience. At the opening of 2005, I watched as some scientifically unremarkable statements about male-female differences were successfully labeled as sexist pseudoscience.

The Orwellian disinformation about innate group differences is not wholly the media's fault. Many academics who are familiar with the state of knowledge are afraid to go on the record. Talking publicly can dry up research funding for senior professors and can cost assistant professors their jobs. But while the public's misconception is understandable, it is also getting in the way of clear thinking about American social policy.

Good social policy can be based on premises that have nothing to do with scientific truth. The premise that is supposed to undergird all of our social policy, the founders' assertion of an unalienable right to liberty, is not a falsifiable hypothesis. But specific policies based on premises that conflict with scientific truths about human beings tend not to work. Often they do harm.

One such premise is that the distribution of innate abilities and propensities is the same across different groups. The statistical tests for uncovering job discrimination assume that men are not innately different from women, blacks from whites, older people from younger people, homosexuals from heterosexuals, Latinos from Anglos, in ways that can legitimately affect employment decisions. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 assumes that women are no different from men in their attraction to sports. Affirmative action in all its forms assumes there are no innate differences between any of the groups it seeks to help and everyone else. The assumption of no innate differences among groups suffuses American social policy. That assumption is wrong.
The American Psychological Association, not a hot bed of racism, checked out The Bell Curve and this is what they found.
There is no technical dispute on some of the core issues. In the aftermath of The Bell Curve, the American Psychological Association established a task force on intelligence whose report was published in early 1996. The task force reached the same conclusions as The Bell Curve on the size and meaningfulness of the black-white difference. Historically, it has been about one standard deviation in magnitude among subjects who have reached adolescence; cultural bias in IQ tests does not explain the difference; and the tests are about equally predictive of educational, social, and economic outcomes for blacks and whites. However controversial such assertions may still be in the eyes of the mainstream media, they are not controversial within the scientific community.

The most important change in the state of knowledge since the mid-1990's lies in our increased understanding of what has happened to the size of the black-white difference over time. Both the task force and
The Bell Curve concluded that some narrowing had occurred since the early 1970's. With the advantage of an additional decade of data, we are now able to be more precise:

(1) The black-white difference in scores on educational achievement tests has narrowed significantly.

(2) The black-white convergence in scores on the most highly "g-loaded" tests--the tests that are the best measures of cognitive ability--has been smaller, and may be unchanged, since the first tests were administered 90 years ago.
What does all this mean?

Let us start with some simple statistical assumptions that are aproximately correct and see if we can figure out what the implications are. First IQ. Ashkenazi Jew IQ is 115. White IQ is 100. American black IQ is 85. These are averages. They tell you NOTHING about individuals. Let us also assume a standard deviation (a measure of variation) is 15 for all groups. I'm going to use this handy bell curve calculator to get my results.

What percentage of white Americans are going to be top college material with an IQ above 125? About 5%. How many Ashkenazi Jews will be found in that range? About 25%. How many American blacks (African blacks are significantly different)? About .4%. Which means if we follow merit alone, there ought to be about 10 times as many whites per capita as blacks capable of work in our top institutions. This is a depressing fact of life, just as the Ashkenazi Jews are a bright spot.

It gets worse at the very high end. For scores above 160, the brightest of the bright, among the Ashkenazi Jews the proportion will be about one in a thousand. For whites the number is zero (actually that really means less than one in 10,000 because the calculator does not do really small fractions) and for blacks the number will be a much smaller percentage than whites. Given that Ashkenazi Jews are at least 100 times as likely to be in that range relative to whites and Ashkenazi Jews represent about .1% of the world's population, the results we see above are not unexpected.

We see all this born out in the top science and math prizes.

So the question as Lenin put it is: "What is to be done?" First off treat people as individuals not statistics. Every one has their own group of talents that should be develped as fully as possible.

Second off we are turning into a society whose rewards are based on cognitive ability. Something the Bell Curve guys discuss at length. What is their answer, besides giving every one a fair shot to develop their talents? They suggest socialism light. The top perfomers should be able to reap top rewards for top performance. Not every one gets first prize in the race. However, because of the work of these top performers, labor doesn't have the value it once did. "John Henry, the Steel Driving Man" was a harbinger of that. It is hard to compete, labor wise, with a motor controlled by a microprocessor. So the top performers are going to have to help those on the bottom, if for no other reason than to keep the peace. Socialism lite.

Milton Friedman and a number of others (including The Bell Curve authors) think that the negative income tax (instituted by Nixon) is the way to go because the bureaucracy required is minimal.

I think we also have to accept that there is a limit to what our public schools can accomplish. Each added increment of resources is going to produce a diminishing return.

There are lots more policy implications in all this. More than I can deal with here. The main point for me is that even in a race blind society not all races will do equally well at all tasks.

A couple of books that might be of interest:

Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It

The Bell Curve

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Karridine said...

Although the Lord of Hosts makes few references to IQ, He does offer several guidelines as to HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFERENCES (in IQ, income, musical talent, linguistic ability, for example), one of which comes to mind:

"Vaunt not thyself over the poor, for I lead him on his way and confound thee in yours." Baha'u'llah

The pivotal point round which all the Teachings of the Glory of God revolve, is the Oneness of Mankind.

Unschooled Himself, (because He answered ALL the questions posed to Him by professors and teachers, seeking to assess Him for placement in school; correctly, succinctly and courteously!) He most emphatically NEVER said humans are uniform!

The essays you refer to anchor concepts of 'race' and 'IQ' in reality, and to the betterment of all humans!

Wasn't it Napoleon Hill, of "Think & Grow Rich" fame who once said, "IQ won't get you to success! The Bowery is filled with bums, alcoholics and losers with high IQs!"

Karridine said...

But forgive me, the introduction to your fine essay was the key theme, wasn't it?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident... all men are created equal..."


That was what the US Constitution was dissolving, that was the contextual matrix into which the Constitution was woven.

Karridine said...

"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 any complexity."

Anonymous said...

But if we do not need to change our politics, talking about group differences obligates all of us to renew our commitment to the ideal of equality that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he wrote as a self-evident truth that all men are created equal. Steven Pinker put that ideal in today's language in The Blank Slate, writing that

"Equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group."

Something to thimk about...

Tentative said...

You mention the negative tax. That treats symptoms - not the root cause of inequity within our social structure.

The obvious solution is more Darwinian selection for the traits we desire (or don't).

Now for the hard

Duchess Of Austin said...

Wow...more Darwinian selection. That's heavy. It's also a slippery slope that we've been on before. Hitler believed in doing away with defectives, only his idea of defectives was the Jews, in addition to the stupid, the profoundly retarded, and probably the very old. You could probably throw in most women of non-German extraction. There were also those places in America in the 40s and 50s where they sterilized "mental defectives" who, more often than not, turned out to be merely black.

I think the theme of this post is more along the lines of "each according to his own." I would even go so far as to pose that we already practice "socialism lite." We have social entitlement programs like medicaid, AFDC, food stamps, TANF, and SSI. The funds that support these programs comes from our taxes, so I would say that this IS the top earners taking care of the bottom.

I believe in personal recognisance, and I would like to see more independence from the government, not less, and I believe that the local government, and faith based charities can care for the populace of a given area much better than the feds. They're closer to the population, and more familiar with their needs, and this gets us much closer to the idea of individual equality.

I am at the end of the day, an individual, and my needs may be, and probably will be different than those of my neighbor, regardless of whatever collective I may belong to. I would much rather take my needs to my local provider, and deal with the relatively anonymous federal system.

Full blown socialism, however, is another, more malignant society. Socialism tends to reduce the individual incentive to achieve, because there is no real reward for individuality and ambition. I don't want to live in a totally socialist country. Socialism breeds poverty, and I've grown accustomed to my decadent way of life!

Dan said...

Darwinian selection?

Breeding seems to have an inverse relationship with intelligence, and at the extremes e.g. when you are dealing with someone with 30+ known scions they are invariably retarded, or nearly so.

If you are considering other than natural selection, it also usually goes the other way.

M. Simon said...


Do you have any evidence?

How about a link?

Atlantin said...

re: "So KC's distinguishing Math professor Arlie Petters from the other 87 in the post caught my eye." amac 10 a.m.
re: Arlie O. Petters' Biography ( click on BIOGRAPHY Here .

Oh, Lord what an apparent example of Affirmative Action! I sure hope I am wrong on this impression. But, before I comment on Dr. Petters let me digress on my own experience in the long ago past-early to mid 60s. I was the first member of my family to attend college and had SATS high enough to be offered an academic scholarship to an engineering school and a Catholic college with an engineering curriculum. My parents picked the Catholic college and scraped up the money to assure my getting my degree there. My GREs were stellar and I got into graduate school at an Ivy League University as a rather naive 20 year old. Looking back I remember being astounded by my professors' erudition that first year except for one, an assistant professor, a light skinned black who was a "nice guy" but dumb as a brick compared to the rest. At the time, I could not understand what he was doing there. He was one of four professors that taught the major course of that year as a team sharing lectures and labs with the other three professors giving the vast bulk of the lectures. Affirmative Action was not a cloud on the horizon in my mind at the time but as I look back he represented the epitome of the concept of Politically Correct Affirmative Action. He is dead now but ascended the academic ladder eventually becoming a Full Professor with a named chair while at the same time brilliant professors were shed as if dandruff at the same institution.

Now comes Professor Petters at Duke. I suspect he could be another Perfect Affirmative Action Professor. A black immigrant discovered at Hunter College. ( Btw, Hunter was my Ph.D. wife's undergraduate college before affirmative action and open admissions, when it was a highly selective all girls school.) Petters appears to have ridden a rocket ride to the academic stratosphere eventually being snapped up by MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cambridge, Max Plank and now Duke. I hope all of his successes have been legitimate and not the result of the desire by the schools to promote diversity ( obtaining reflected glory thereby ) over talent.

What makes me wonder are the subjects in which he has done his chief work.

1st is Gravitational Lensing. Here standard science looks at a distant Galaxy and sees two Quasars astride the Galaxy and interprets the two Quasars as being a double image of one Quasar that is actually far in the distance behind the galaxy. The only problem with this is that Halton Arp falsified this interpretation of the phenomenon and was fired from is tenured position at Cal Tech for the temerity see here.

2nd is singularity theory. Talk about a black hole! Here is a "science" that offers no method of falsification. It is an example of a subject similar to as dividing by zero. Only String Theory in today's Physics is worse see Here.

Is he for real? What were his GRE scores?

Atlantin said...

Dear M. Simon:

The post above by Atlantin was posted on this blog because he doubts that KC Johnson would publish it and Atlantin wanted you to see it.

Atlantin would also like for R. Polanski to see it but does not know how to find his web page or e-mail.


M. Simon said...


I will forward it to Polanski. I will also forward your second post so if he is interested in contacting you he can.

Send me an e-mail. My addr. is on the sidebar.


Dan said...

Breeding seems to have an inverse relationship with intelligence:

The observation on overly prolific breeders is just that, an unscientific observation of the inmate population at the prison I work at. While I do know some very clever Mormons and Catholics with large families none of them have over 12 children.

On unnatural selection I would refer you back to your post, Ashkenazi Jewry and the Holocaust, or Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, or… Intelligent people simply create more problems for these thugs, think about it.

Duchess Of Austin said...

Could it be that the further you ascend up the evolutionary scale, the more you lose touch with the "real" world?

I grew up with academics. I was raised by TWO Ph.D. educated men, one of whom was a professor of Economics at a large, southern university when I was a teenager, so I grew up in the social millieau of academia.

Am I the only one who has ever noticed that sometimes really smart people can be incredibly lacking in what most of us would consider practical common sense?

Take the Duke group of professors, for instance....these are some of the most intellectual people in the country. They are highly educated, mostly erudite and articulate people, but they just don't seem to live in the same world I do. The way they all jumped on the bandwagon, convicting those boys before the evidence was even in....all in the name of "diversity?" Do they live in the same world that I do?

Even here in Austin, the intelligensia is all for making everything environmentally friendly (no matter the expense to the builders, and ultimately the consumers!), curing poverty, animal rights, yada, yada, yada, but they'll hire the most expensive law firm in Austin to fight the Walmart that wants to move into their neighborhood.....go figure.

M. Simon said...


I grew up with Jews and they are notorious for mechanical ineptness.

In fact I'm rather unusual in my love for and ability with mechanical stuff.

It seems that there are two kinds of intelligence as manifested. Verbal and physical. Jews are very high on verbal (I'm up there) and average on mechanical (I'm pretty good there too).

So what you see is that where you live the selection pressure for verbal is high, with no pressure on mechanical abilities.

If you lived in a high tech town like Silicon Valley the norm might be different. Or even better Seattle where Boeing builds aircraft.

What we see in America in general is that we are going for the stuff that requires verbal ability (software, marketing, management, advertising, movies, etc.) while leaving the building of stuff to the Asians who are low on verbal and high on physical IQ.

bernie said...

My father (an Ashkenazi Jew) was a lawyer in the old country, but had to call me to help fix the horizontal on the TV (1975). He taught me to multiply up to the 95 times table but was afraid to change the channel for fear he wouldn't be able to find channel 5 news again by himself.

Go figure.

Duchess Of Austin said...

Well, Simon, your theory about Austin has one small flaw...Dell Computers makes their product here, Samsung makes products here, Slumberger makes some products here, as well as 3M, Texas Instruments, Freescale and Motorola, so there's a fair manufacturing community here as well as academia.

Like Bernie, I've met some award-winning professors who can't tie their shoes without help....

Anonymous said...

You know you could explain 99% of the differences in intellectual achievement by pressure from the environment.

Why are children in larger families more intelligent ? Because they have to. Otherwise they get no attention (it used to be because otherwise they starve, but ...)

Christianity and Judaism are actually very liberal, with only a small, voluntary (I'm not talking about how it has been raped in Europe) socialist side.

In changing times it is truly amazing how fast someone's iq can change. Also how the emphasis can change, from mathematics to writing, or from spatial insight to numerics. People can gain, and lose, 10 iq points in 2 years.

Therefore the environment (especially the forceful environment) has a very large, and continuing influence. Simply said : people get smarter because there are more buttons around them, never mind computers that are completely abstract.

Obviously someone who uses computers will be better at abstract thinking. Yes, even if it's a nintendo DS.

mafalda said...

Having any kind of numbers or steriotype over peoples race or gender is wrong and freedom limiting (wanting or not). But is obvious that all human are diferent of each others.

So the only change i would find acceptable would be that people might not iqual but EQUIVALENT, but thats an alredy known fact.