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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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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