- Years ago, while doing research on education and IQ,
I happened to be in the principal's office at a black school in Cincinnati,
as he was preparing to open a large brown envelope containing the results
of IQ tests that his students had taken. Before he opened the envelope,
I offered to bet him that a large majority of the students with IQs over
110 would be girls.
- He was too smart to take the bet. Studies had shown that
females predominated among high-IQ blacks. One study of blacks whose IQs
were 140 and up found that there were more than five times as many females
as males at these levels.
- This is hard to explain by either heredity or environment,
as those terms are usually defined, since black males and black females
have the same ancestors and grow up in the same homes. Meanwhile, white
males and white females have the same average IQs, with slightly more males
at both the highest and lowest IQs.
- This is just one of many unsolved mysteries that is likely
to remain unsolved, because doing research on race and IQ has become taboo
in many places. My own research was financed in part by a grant from a
foundation that told me to remove any mention of IQ research from the activities
listed in my project's application.
- They didn't care if I used their money for that purpose
but they did not want it on the record that they had financed research
into race and intelligence. Many schools and boards of education also did
not want it on the record that they had cooperated by supplying data for
any such research. Only when assured of complete anonymity would they let
me into their records.
- A well-known black "social scientist" urged
me not to do any such research. His stated reason was that it would "dignify"
Professor Arthur Jensen's thesis of a genetic basis for black-white differences
in IQ scores. But my own suspicion was that he was afraid that the research
would prove Jensen right.
- As it turned out, the research showed that the average
IQ difference between black and white Americans -- 15 points -- was nothing
unusual. Similar IQ differences could be found between various culturally
isolated white communities and the general society, both in the United
States and in Britain. Among various groups in India, mental test differences
were slightly greater than those between blacks and whites in the United
- In recent years, research by Professor James R. Flynn,
an American expatriate living in New Zealand, has shaken up the whole IQ
controversy by discovering what has been called "the Flynn effect."
In various countries around the world, people have been answering significantly
more IQ test questions correctly than in the past.
- This important fact has been inadvertently concealed
by the practice of changing the norms on IQ tests, so that the average
number of correctly answered questions remains by definition an IQ of 100.
Only by painstakingly going back and recalculating IQs, based on the initial
norms, was Professor Flynn able to discover that whole nations had, in
effect, had their IQs rising over the decades by about 20 points.
- Since the black-white difference in IQ is 15 points,
this means that an even larger IQ difference has existed between different
generations of the same race, making it no longer necessary to attribute
IQ differences of this magnitude to genetics. In the half century between
1945 and 1995, black Americans' raw test scores rose by the equivalent
of 16 IQ points.
- In other words, black Americans' test score results in
1995 would have given them an average IQ just over 100 in 1945. Only the
repeated renorming of IQ tests upward created the illusion that blacks
had made no progress, but were stuck at an IQ of 85. But we would never
have known this if some researchers had not defied the taboo on studying
race and IQ imposed by black "leaders" and white "friends."
- Incidentally, Professor Jensen pointed out back in 1969
that black children's IQ scores rose by 8 to 10 points after he met with
them informally in a play room and then tested them again after they were
more relaxed around him. He did this because "I felt these children
were really brighter than their IQ would indicate." What a shame that
others seem to have less confidence in black children than Professor Jensen
- Dr. Thomas Sowell is African-American
Dear Mr. Rense:
Regarding Mr. Sowell's observation that the gap between
Black IQ's and White IQ's is narrowing, although Black IQ's may be increasing,
White IQ's are increasing too. Thus, if the Black mean today is 100, then
the White mean is 115, one standard deviation.
If your viewers would like a little more information
on Black-White IQ differences, then the "Bell Curve" by Herrnstein
and Murray would be a good place to start.
Genes or environment (too much TV)? You be the judge.
From Richard at Founders' America firstname.lastname@example.org
October 2, 2002
Dear Professor Sowell,
Re: IQ and Flynn Effect. Please take into consideration
the inclusion of mixed-race "blacks" in IQ studies, the inclusion
of which shifts results upward, rather than providing a true MEAN measure
of Black racial IQ.
Dumbing-Down Lifts All Unequal Boats ©1996
Chief editorial writer for Scripps Howard News Service,
Jay Ambrose, writes about the "Flynn Effect," which he tries
using to dismiss Murray and Hurrnstein's work, "The Bell Curve."
He believes the phenomenon gives IQ supporters their
"comeuppance," as he put it, and leaves the theory of IQ differences
between the races "shattered" ["IQ study points to smarts
as developmental, not fixed factors," Washington Times, July 28th].
But IQ measures reveal indications of IQ differences
between individuals, and between groups of individuals.
They have never been touted as perfect measures, or as
perfectly static (read my essay, "Issue of Heritable Traits").
But Mr. Ambrose writes as if IQ proponents view IQ results
as carved-in-stone measures, rather than as the comparative indicators
they are--for determin- ing where individuals and ethnically homogeneous
groups of individuals stand in comparison.
Imperfect But Useful
New Zealander James Flynn's demonstration that IQs in
industrial nations have increased over the last few decades - the "Flynn
Effect" - in no way proves that IQ indicators are flawed or dismissable.
The effect simply supports what most everyone already
knew--that IQ indicators are imperfect but useful measures, as Ambrose
admits by giving "the devil his due": "IQ tests can give
a glimmer [of academic giftedness]."
Note: Mr. Ambrose might wish to read Adrian Woolridge's
piece in the February 27th, 1995, issue of National Review magazine. In
"Bell Curve Liberals," Woolridge exposes that "glimmer"
as a saving light, and scores the left for abandoning the "best means
yet devised for spotting talent wherever it occurs, in the inner cities
as well as in the plush housing estates, and ensuring that that talent
is matched to the appropriate education- al streams and job opportunities
. . . [While IQ measures] ought to be one of the left's most powerful tools
for opening opportunities . . . [they've] tried to turn it into an excuse
for closing doors".
All Other Things Being Equal
The Flynn Effect simply attests the influence of physiological
variables altered by environmental factors; it doesn't refute the all-other-things-
being-equal rule--that giving Johnny a nutritious diet and a vitamin each
morning can positively affect his IQ indicator the second time around,
if he was nutri- tionally deficient the first time he was measured.
But it doesn't help him beat Sally if she gets the same
nutritional diet and vitamin. Johnny might have been in a dietary-induced
funk the first time he was measured, and Western democracies may have been
in a war-induced psychological depression fifty years ago to negatively
impact IQ results then, presenting James Flynn with something to measure
in the Nineties.
What has not changed, is that - just as track stars are
born with genetically determined limits on their athletic abilities - all
humans' intelligence capacity is limited by: 1) brain size, 2)neuro-pathway
density, 3)uniquely wired pathways, 3) and numerous chemical triggers that
widely vary among individuals [and between racial groups] in amounts and
interactions, and which variabilities are determined by HERITABLE factors--affected
by certain environmental influences, such as nutrition and, say, anger-
or love- or depression- or motivation-inducing stimuli.
Like the tide that can lift all boats, advances in nutrition
and medicine can raise all IQ measures. But they can't make all boats equally
seaworthy--they can't remove disparities in mental abilities between the
races, nor between men and women (read my essay, "Tragedy of the Commons
in Public Education").
Non-verbal IQ measures of blacks' average intelligence
potential (I'm not speaking of mixed-race "blacks" here) reveal
that they are INHERENTLY less capable than, say, Asians, and which disparity
won't change-- except through long-term eugenics on the part of blacks
or dysgenics on the part of Asians.
Mate-selection traditions in cultures may explain most
disparities in intelligence, character, and temperament potentials among
Lower Classes Try Modeling The Elites
All men are not created equal--because some gene pools
have been breeding for intelligence through courtship and marriage traditions
while others have engaged in indiscriminate breeding.
The movie "Sense and Sensibility" is a window
into a culture's rigid rules for courtship and marriage (and divorce),
which rules helped spawn some of the world's greatest minds (an aristocracy
in breeding always precedes a rise in high-culture civilization; examine
the history of ancient Greece or Jews' historical traditions in that regard).
What that movie failed to relate is the fact that lower
classes tried to copy the elites' efforts at good breed- ing, attempting
as best they could to improve their stock, by encouraging - if not arranging
- certain marriages for their offspring (both passive eugenics [bad habits,
disease, misfortune] and active eugenics [good rules for living, courtship
rules, marriage rules, parenting rules, etc.] contribute to improving human
If one examines the history of Germanic tribes, you'll
discover a similar rigidity about courtship, marriage and divorce. One
won't find anything approaching it in African tribes' history, which lack
therein may help to explain their low IQ measures--as compared with, say,
tradition-steeped Asians in matters of marriage and divorce (African traditions
are steeped in ritual dance and war-based aggression, so that one finds
blacks today excelling in music and sports, and not in the sciences).
Mr. Ambrose also emphasizes the importance of other measures
in an attempt to distract the reader from reality, such as using "high-energy
levels" and "doggedness" (these are heritable temperament
and character traits), in order to try countering any low intelligence
(read my essay, "The Politics of Race and IQ," which explains
the motive for leftists' opposition to IQ measures).
Again, no one who sees value in IQ indicators dismisses
those factors in contributing to humans' accomplishments.
But all other things being equal (study the Myers-Briggs
personality indicator)--how many want a brain surgeon or general practitioner
who had to struggle through medical school on caffeine and doggedness?
One ought to expect a brilliant mind, a mind which easily absorbed and
retained everything the medical school presented. One ought to reject a
struggling woman or minority student who had filled some quota, which brain-dead
liberals now demand for making everyone appear more equal.
Note: "White men score higher than women of all
races on the science exam that medical students must take to become licensed
doctors . . . White men also did better than men from other racial groups."
[Washington Times news brief, September 7, 1994]).
Today, if you're lucky enough to be able to choose your
physician (and you don't suffer low IQ), find a white Anglo-Saxon male,
a Jew, or an Asian male of either Chinese, Japanese, Korean or East Indian
descent, who attended medical school in the U.S. before dumbing-down became
a means for lifting all unequal boats (read my essay, "Dysgenics:
Signs of Western Civilization's Decline").
Founders' America P.O. Box 71024 Richmond, Va 23255
From Alfred Lehmberg
The "Bell Curve," indeed. Both sides of this
"Bell" curve miss the larger point. How EVER the differences
are parsed and noted, and for ALL the busy facilitations of unnecessary
demarcation by passionately dispassionate ideologues (and for whatever
reason!), there is only ONE race in the end, the human race, and the individual
human beings composing it cannot be held reflexively accountable for spurious
and suspect *identifications* contrived within it. "Bellcurvers"
forget that the individual is KEY! They need to.
But that's the way it is with a "Bell Curve"
egregiously used to justify a prejudice. Both sides lose all touch with
one another and the center that supports them, and "that center cannot
hold." Great work from the mouth of the "Bell", fellows.