Crimethink and Thinking Ability

Steve Sailer, Takimag, January 30, 2012

What’s the latest from the scientific frontlines in the IQ Wars?

As you’ll recall from the press, the Bad Guys are social scientists such as Arthur Jensen, Linda Gottfredson, Charles Murray, and the late Richard Herrnstein. They have all argued that there are differences in average intelligence among races and other politically fraught groups which impact their overall real-world performance.{snip}

In a word: crimethink!

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In interesting contrast to the IQ Realist school is the IQ Ameliorist school. Seven prominent members, including Richard E. Nisbett and James Flynn, have coauthored a lengthy new paper in American Psychologist called Intelligence: New Findings and Theoretical Developments. It is a useful Greatest Hits collection of all research published since 1994’s The Bell Curve that could suggest the problems posed by current IQ inequality might not be as permanent as the Realists imply.

Yet the Ameliorists themselves are crimethinkers. Being experts, the seven Ameliorists are closer to the Realists than they are to the conventional wisdom that IQ is discredited, biased, or meaningless: “The measurement of intelligence is one of psychology’s greatest achievements.…”

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Even more courageously, the seven Ameliorists note that IQ tests are valuable because they quantify that most career-threatening of hot buttons in American intellectual life—racial differences in intelligence—which they find both sizable and socially significant:

IQ is also important because some group differences are large and predictive of performance in many domains. Much evidence indicates that it would be difficult to overcome racial disadvantage if IQ differences could not be ameliorated.

Much of the Realist-Ameliorist debate is over whether today’s IQ gaps will prove somewhat intractable or somewhat tractable.\

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The coauthors theorize that the current highest-IQ groups will eventually reach a genetic limit to their intelligence, allowing trailing groups to catch up. This sounds reasonable, but they’ve found surprisingly little evidence for it yet.

In the 40 years I’ve followed testing stats, the biggest change in American racial rankings has been that the cognitively rich have gotten richer: Asians are pulling away from whites on high-stakes tests. {snip}

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{snip} If somebody invented a magic bullet tomorrow that would somehow eliminate racial IQ disparities among all babies born from now on, measurable (though diminishing) gaps in the total population would still exist until everybody alive today is dead in the 22nd century.

And as this paper makes clear without quite emphasizing it, we don’t appear close to a magic bullet. Americans need to understand that racial gaps in IQ and their manifold implications will be around for at least decades to come.

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