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Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Geeze! Still MORE about this IQ stuff?

I’ve known Mike for better than twenty years. He is a good, decent, intelligent man who calls it as he sees it, and I’m glad for the comment he made on the blog. He pretty much represents what an intelligent white male of somewhat conservative leanings sounds like to me, and no pejoratives are implied in that. Here’s what he said. I offer this not as argument, or to educate or to change anyone's mind, but to document the WAY I think about these things. I'm not saying I'm right, just that this is legitimately the way things bounce around in my head, for those amused by such things. Mike's comments are italicized.
My replies are in brackets:

“What I don't understand is why everyone looks at the IQ question strictly from a "race" perspective. Why isn't it looked at more holistically? Let me touch briefly on several seemingly unrelated topics. I will do so in a decidedly un-PC way, but as we have known each other a long time I hope you will take this in context and not be offended.

It is true that it appears that blacks in the US have as a group an average lower intelligence. But is there more to this than just race?

[Here, read: “I agree with those who believe that blacks…etc.” There are arguments on both sides of this, and intelligent and educated adherents to both points of view. To represent this as a settled “fact” like gravity or something is to create a somewhat false base for your argument. However, let’s go on.)

The culture of poverty, where ever you go in the world, is one which does not care about education. For instance in inner city US it is considered acting "White" to try and get an education.

[ To say “in inner city US too many blacks consider getting an education to be acting `white’” would be accurate. To say “it is considered” is too broad a brush, and conceals as much as it explains]

Please notice I said the "culture of poverty" not the act of being poor itself. There are many groups which may be poor but believe they can rise out of their circumstances through hard work, hence the relative success of poor immigrants in America over the years.

The current classes of systemic poor in the US are overwhelmingly from parents who were poor and whose grandparents were poor and so on. Please note the work “systemic” as it relates to a persistence of poverty across multiple generations.

[sure. Most people remain in the social class in which they are born, rich or poor.]

There has been a higher birthrate among the poor in the US than among those in the higher economic classes. It is well known throughout the world that the poor have the highest birthrates while the wealthiest have the lowest.

Natural selection says that organisms will adapt to their environment. Those that adapt the best will have the most offspring and those that don't will have less.

Some people have posited that the reason that Ashkenazi Jews have a higher IQ is that restrictions on Jews in Medieval Europe made it harder for Jews without a good IQ to survive, or more importantly for their children to survive. That is "smart" Jews survived and were able to pass on their "smart" genes to their children.

Now, if this is true, then "stupid" genes can be passed on as well. If "stupid" people can have children who survive to have more children in turn, then their "stupid" genes will be passed on.

As mentioned above poor people tend to have more children than people who are better off. But poor people, on average, have lower IQ's than the rest of the population, so their children should do relatively poorly in school. That is their children should have on average lower IQ’s.

Starting in the mid-sixties the welfare system in the US made it easy for poor people to have children without too many (related to survival) negative consequences. Now you and I might say that being on welfare (as a way of life) is "stupid". It provides few real benefits and too many negative obligations.

[To say: “there is disagreement about the costs and benefits. I agree with the Right, which believes the benefits are minimal” would be accurate. Again, you’re making a statement as if there is no intelligent disagreement. By the way—I tend to agree with you about this!]

But for a “stupid” person welfare would be great. It provides a relatively easy way to get independence from one’s family without requiring much in the way of work. Yes it is a lazy person’s way to comfort but it worked. In addition all one had to do to get
In addition all one had to do to get more money was to have more children. So, here we see a situation where being “stupid” was rewarded and actually promoted the passing on of the “stupid” gene.

The beneficiaries of this scenario were overwhelmingly black.

[Very wrong, as I noted elsewhere. Disproportionately black, perhaps. Overwhelmingly, no. Numerically, far more whites benefited.]

With a higher birthrate, the simple math says that over time the increasingly larger numbers of “stupid” black people will lower the average intelligence for the black group as a whole.

So, basically what I’m saying is that perhaps it is true that American blacks on average are less smart than other groups. But this is not because a large percentage of the “stupid” (low IQ) blacks were encouraged to breed in larger number than the “smart” blacks.

So in summary, the process of natural selection (as helped by the Welfare program) may have had a large hand in the problem of lower average IQ in American blacks. By that thinking it isn’t being black that is the problem but rather being both poor and black which resulted in the problem. If true then we should see similar poor groups throughout the world who similarly have lower IQ’s vis-à-vis the general population. I believe that where ever you go in the world you will find in the local systemically poor populations both a high birthrate and a relatively low IQ.
O.K., Mike, well stated, and certainly plausible. You’re wrong though, if you think you’re the only one who’s ever said this. It gets said a LOT. Now let me point something out about this argument…

Stated broadly, you’re arguing (quite reasonably) that social context (like welfare) can lead to genetically “dumbing down” a group. Food for thought. But while I’ve heard this dozens of times, NO ONE who has ever presented this has been willing to take it to the end of the line. So, then…welfare and negative belief patterns (acceptance of welfare, and criticizing those interested in an education) are responsible for a genetic drift that leads to, on the average, lower intelligence among blacks in the US. Am I representing your POV accurately?

Hope so. Now, let’s go back. Social context can cause negative genetic drift. While I’ve heard this many times, it is curious to me that the only problem EVER stated by people who present this is caused by…well, let’s just say “them pesky Liberals.” It’s fifty years of welfare! Made ‘em stupid!

Well…might I ask a small question? If blacks are so malleable that fifty years of subsidized food and rent for a fraction of their population would trash their IQ, then what exactly did 300 years of rape, torture and murder (slavery), followed by another hundred years of Jim Crow, Segregation, legalized violence and substandard education do? According to the same people who tend to sling about the “genetic” argument—and I don’t know if you’re in this group, Mike, so there’s nothing personal here—the answer is “nothing.”

Wait. Let me add this up. I can quantify the damage done to blacks during slavery: approximately 150 million man-years of life extracted. (Do the math. Look up the average life expectancy of slaves, and then the average life expectancy of whites during the same period. Slaves: 24. Whites: 37. Kalahari hunter-gatherers, about 36. Freed slaves 20 years after emancipation: about 36. So multiplying 14 years of stolen life per slave across the total number of slaves ever held in America will tell you the approximate cost per slave. That’s due to overworking, malnutrition, beatings, and murder. Sorry, but the numbers don’t lie. Look it up.)

As I said—IF you were going to take the position that there is a genetic difference (debated, not proven) and were to say that 50 years of Welfare had done damage (certainly possible) it would be absurd not to think that 400 years of abuse had no effect. So…we were superpeople for 350 years, and then suddenly hyperimpressionable? Does that really seem reasonable?

I ask you: why do you think nobody on the “Genetic IQ” side of the argument ever made THIS observation. (If I’m wrong, and someone did, please point it out to me and link me to it.) I’ll give you my theory, Mike:

Almost any argument you will ever hear a healthy human being make is to the effect of “we rule, you drool.” That’s the way the ego is. So your argument is very popular among…wait for it…people who are neither poor black (and therefore not a member of the group who supposedly denigrates education) or Liberal (and therefore not responsible for Welfare.)

It is saying: Yeah, there’s damage…but WE didn’t do it. Nope.

Man, I’ve heard versions of this all my life. From the black side, the argument is: “White people are evil bastards who raped and murdered us for 400 years. We would NEVER have done anything like that. We are spiritually and mentally superior, and we’re just fine now. How DARE Bill Cosby suggest that some of our problems are of our own making!”
Am I suggesting that the conditions blacks find themselves in now are of White people’s making? If you’re talking about Kalahari hunter-gatherers, who basically never SEE white people, no. But colonized or enslaved peoples? Hell, yes. The familial and social dysfunction (fathers not caring for their children, etc.) you see too often in the inner-city is not found in ANY natural group of people. For one simple reason: it doesn’t work. In a few generations, such terrible behavior will wipe your people out. So, yes, I can see that Welfare both generated some bad behavior and protected people from the effects of it.

But we didn’t write our own software, Mike. Not in this country. Again, if you want to see what more natural black families are like, go study some pygmies, or blacks living in the mountains of Africa, somewhere where they weren’t conquered or colonized or enslaved. And then you’ll find the same family groupings, hunting behaviors and passing of knowledge intergenerationally that anthropologists find anywhere else in the world.

No, it is not the responsibility of white folks to “fix this.” Yes there are real problems that black folks must deal with. Yes, whites contributed massively to the problem—and profited mightily thereby. Yes, I can hold all of these things in my mind, with no sense of paradox. Most people cannot, whether they are white or black. Perhaps if I weren’t mixed, I wouldn’t be able to either, but I have no motivation either to demonize, or blame.

So…is there possible genetic damage? Of course. Is it possible that, even without factoring in slavery, the apparent IQ difference is genetic in origin? Of course it is possible. I never said otherwise. I just said that I don’t believe it’s true, and that I would never accept the sole judgment of the dominator group as to the reality of that genetic difference. I have never seen human beings to be that honest, impartial, unself-centered, and free of perceptual filters.
And that’s from a lifetime of being around both groups. I think that whites, born into black lives, would perform and test at the same level. Further, I think that those whites who display the least understanding in this arena (and I’m not talking about you, Mike) would, had they been born black, absolutely despise white people, considering them smug, lying, self-centered cultural rapists without any sense of shame for the damage they do.

Some say that the beginning of sin is treating another human being like a thing, rather than a person. The very definition of slavery. But for me, the far greater sin is to break someone’s legs, steal their wallet, piss on them, and then to claim it's a scientific fat that that it is this poor soul’s genetic tendency to be broke, crippled, and stinking. That is such a great sin that I actually fear for those descended from slave owners who hold the “genetic IQ” belief. I think they hold onto it for dear life. Because if they are wrong…and there is a hell…

They’ve got a very warm condo waiting.

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