Sentences of Enduring Value

(Extremely depressing edition)

One of the most disturbing, I think perhaps the most disturbing fact in our whole book is that black students coming from families earning over 70,000 are doing worse on their SATS, on average–it’s always on average–than white students from families in the lowest income group. You want to cry hearing that figure. I mean, it’s so terrible.

— Abigail Thernstrom as quoted in this depressing article on race and IQ at gnxp.

6 thoughts on “Sentences of Enduring Value”

  1. Is there some way to compare these numbers to black students living in other highly developed regions of the world such as Europe, etc?

  2. Didn’t the authors of Freakonomics come up with different findings? That socioeconomic factors were a much stronger factor than race (neighbors tend to have similar scores)? Or am I thinking of crime rates?

    Tough question. The PC side of me wants to say “balderdash and poppycock!” The armchair scientist says “Well… if we accept that different genetic races are genetically different, why not openly examine any phenotypical differences derived from different geneotypes? Why must G exist in some magical metaphysical realm?”

    I do question the adoption example mentioned in the article. A black child adopted by white parents probably faces more social pressure while growing up than their white siblings. In other words, I wouldn’t claim that a white child and their adopted black sibling are from identical backgrounds. The difference might or might not be trivial. Also – did they consistently correct for factors like prenatal health and nutrition? (actually the mixed-race results mentioned are interesting here).

  3. Like anything else, you can pick at any one of the findings discussed in the article. For example, your nutrition question is good, but wouldn’t the differences between rich black kids and poor white kids somewhat answer that?

    Unless the evidence in that article was fabricated, I just don’t see how anyone, despite the want to do so, can conclude there’s no average IQ difference between races. I have great respect for those folks at gnxp, so I don’t think the evidence was fabricated.

    BTW, I do wonder if the low heritability in blacks means that blacks have a high variance of IQ.

  4. I think that’s the angle the equalists have been attacking from. There isn’t a single lineage you can point to that says “African.” Take two neighboring groups in Africa, and either of them might have more genes in common with an Arab or a Spaniard than with each other. Most people have trouble separating genotype from phenotype, hence the responses pertaining to skin color.

    My nutrition question had to do with prenatal conditions. The pool of adopted black children isn’t really an accurate cross-section; you have to factor in the living conditions of the mothers who gave them up for adoption. Are they disproportionately malnourished during pregnancy? Are there higher rates of drug abuse?

    I’m also not prepared to dismiss cultural influences on poor SAT performance in African Americans. Are anti-intellectual sentiments more prevalent in African American culture than other American subcultures?

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