New York Times on IQ
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October 02, 2007, 03:50 PM
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More from "The New Affirmative Action" by Dave Leonhardt in the NYT Magazine:


NYT: "Even if U.C.L.A. tried to get around Proposition 209 by giving a big leg up to low-income applicants, it wouldn’t increase its black population very much. At every rung of the socioeconomic ladder, the academic record of black students is worse than that of other groups. As Taylor says: “There is a great deal of pressure to look for a proxy for race. There is no proxy for race.”"
NYT: "He and many other defenders of affirmative action consider this to be a self-evident fact, but there has also been a good deal of social science to support the view that the specific problems surrounding race — including discrimination — endure. One illustrative study found that résumés with typically black names are less likely to lead to job interviews than those with typically white names. Other recent studies have looked at intelligence testing. There have long been two uncomfortable facts in this area: Intelligence, indisputably, is in part genetic; and every intelligence test shows a gap between black Americans and others. For a long time, scientific research wasn’t very good at explaining this gap. But it has gotten better lately. For one thing, the gap between white and black adults has narrowed significantly since 1970, according to work by the noted researchers William Dickens and James Flynn."

No, it hasn`t. According to Flynn`s new book, the gap among adults is currently 16.5 points, same as always. It has narrowed among children.
NYT: "Four decades is too short a time period for the gene pool to change, but it’s not too short for environment to improve. Most intriguing, Roland Fryer and Steven D. Levitt, two economists (the latter is one of this magazine’s Freakonomics columnists), have found there to be essentially no gap between 1-year-old white and black children of the same socioeconomic status."

I always love how the New York Times is oh-so-skeptical about IQ testing in general, except when it supports something they like, and then credulity is the order of the day. Look, there is no IQ test for 1-year-olds. What Levitt did in this paper is show that a test of infant liveliness (e.g., how often the infant babbles) that has a low but positive correlation with childhood IQ doesn`t show the normal differences between the races at age 8 to 12 months. Indeed, the highest IQ children (Northeast Asians) do the worst on this test of infant vivacity. With a typical Freakonomic leap of faith, Levitt and Fryer suggested that this shows that IQ differences aren`t genetic but are caused by environmental differences, presumably between age 1 and the earliest ages at which IQ tests are semi-reliable.

Of course, all Levitt actually did was show that this test of infant liveliness is a racially biased predictor of IQ. Why is it racially biased? Well, there are lots more ways for something to go wrong than to go right, but one obvious possibility is that the test of infant alertness might measure traits that differ on average between the races, but aren`t related to IQ differences between the races. For example, within a race, babies that babble more turn out to be a little bit smarter on average than more taciturn babies. Yet, Asian infants don`t babble as much on average as other babies, but that doesn`t mean they`ll turn out to have lower IQs on average than babies from races that babble more. But pointing out that this test of babies is racially biased is not as sexy a story as claiming it shows Nurture Triumphs Over Nature.

NYT: "There are still vigorous debates about all this work — intelligence tests of 1-year-olds are iffy, for instance — but it points in one direction. Innate intelligence may be partly genetic, but it doesn’t seem to vary by race."

Sailer: No comment.