Posted on November 22, 2019

Progress in Intelligence Research

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, November 21, 2019

Most experts attribute the US black-white intelligence differences at least partially to genes.

Survey of expert opinion on intelligence,” published recently in the journal Intelligence, found 40 percent of experts favored a more environmental explanation, 43 percent a more genetic one, and about 17 percent a 50-50 split. The mean slightly favored environmental explanations, because of a relatively large number who believe intelligence differences are due entirely to environment.

Put another way, however, 84 percent of experts said genes play a role of some kind. This means that the overwhelming majority disagree with the standard media position: that genes have nothing to do with race differences in intelligence. As is clear in the table below, the most popular single position is that genes and environment contribute equally to IQ differences.

Fig. 3. Distribution of ratings of the environmental vs. genetic determinants of the US black-white difference in IQ.

“Experts” were those “who published at least one article after 2010 in journals covering cognitive ability.” The researchers asked a number of questions about the experts’ backgrounds and opinions. They were mostly academics, psychologists, and journalists, and as can be seen in the table below, the sample skewed left-liberal.

Conservatives were more likely than liberals to endorse the validity of IQ testing in general, but there were some broadly accepted views. Most experts said there was little bias in IQ testing, though a majority said the “motivation of the examinee” is an important factor to consider in test results.

Liberals had a more positive view of the media than conservatives. However, the study reported that “experts [generally] disagreed [with the view] that the media accurately reports research, that competent experts are chosen, that reporting is rational, that important topics are selected, and that researchers are well treated.” This isn’t surprising. The media often call IQ research “racist.” Even liberals must find this frustrating.

One expert who knows the problem well is Dr. James Thompson. He withstood a hysterical campaign as the organizer of the London Conference on Intelligence. In a commentary on this study, he writes that the last survey of intelligence experts took place in 1988, and that this more recent survey shows “an increase in the willingness to ascribe intelligence differences to genetic causes.”

Opinions could have changed more than the data indicate because, as he notes, respondents might have worried that their identities might “leak out in some way.” This could explain the low response rate of under 20 percent.

In 2013, journalists complained about Jason Richwine’s 2009 Harvard dissertation on “IQ and Immigration policy.” The “conservative” Heritage Foundation fired him. A plurality of respondents supported the use of IQ in determining immigration policies, so they are presumably vulnerable.

An overwhelming majority favored further research on intelligence differences, even if it jeopardized “social peace.” Only 5 percent said research should be stopped if it found intelligence differences between groups that could result in conflict. Forty-one percent said that if research on IQ differences continues, there should be “intensive education of society” about the findings. The majority favored continued research without qualification of any kind.

Another interesting finding was that this mostly liberal group was skeptical of the need for affirmative action to ensure representation of immigrants and/or minorities.

Women who responded disproportionately favored an environmental explanation for intelligence differences and more often assumed IQ tests were biased. However, the sample size of women (12) was small compared to that of men (60).

The data were collected in 2013 and 2014. This was before the intensification of egalitarian fervor that began in 2014/2015 and that some have called the “Great Awokening.” Survey results today might be different.

Dr. Thompson calls this a good study that could have been better. A shorter, more focused study with guarantees of anonymity would probably have elicited more responses. Yet this small study provides some hope that scientific truth is winning out over “blank-slate” dogma.