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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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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