Posted on August 13, 2012

Race IQ — Game Over: It Was Always All About Wealth

Living Anthropologically, August 9, 2012

At The American Conservative in July 2012, Ron Unz published Race, IQ, and Wealth, and after some responses put up Unz on Race/IQ: Response to Lynn and Nyborg on his blog. Unz’s position, which came from analyzing the very data most cited to support the racialist position on Race IQ linkages:

Essentially, I am proposing that the enormously large differences in population IQ . . . are primarily due to factors of social environment — poverty, education, rural deprivation.

If Unz sticks to his guns — and every indication is that racialist rebuttals are only hardening his position — this is game over for Race IQ. Finally.


So why does Ron Unz on Race IQ matter? First, Unz has money, and he uses it to publish and promote. Unz apparently gave out at least $500,000 to Gregory Cochran, co-author with Harpending on The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution and with John Hawks on Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution. {snip}

Second, Ron Unz matters on Race IQ because he is using the numbers from people who had been elaborating the Bell Curve argument that IQ is causal to social and class differences rather than a related consequence of those differences. Of course most of anthropology and mainstream academics probably did not even know this work was proceeding. However, it should be noted — as I did in Jared Diamond won’t beat Mitt Romney — that for the people who wanted to see Race IQ connections, Jared Diamond and Stephen Jay Gould were extremely weak rebuttals. One could even say that those who cited Diamond or Gould would be dismissed, in a kind of “that’s all you have?” sort of way. But this is obviously different.


As I said at the beginning, I’m not sure whether Unz will stick to his guns on this one — there are a number of rebuttals circulating. But the rebuttals seem mostly to be on the more extreme racialist blogs, and Unz doesn’t seem to be buying them. Without Unz’s support, these writings can only become the most marginalized of the already marginal.

Now this doesn’t mean Unz is going to pop over here and give me a fellowship. In his writings, he praises the racialists for being the only ones who are combing through the data and providing a serious response. He also has to take a few whacks at Gould and his ilk. But let’s get real — the only reason the racialists are combing the quantitative data is to try and poke holes and mount a rebuttal. For the rest of us — who already knew that what we measure as IQ is in large part due to “factors of social environment — poverty, education, rural deprivation,” we can declare game over on Race IQ — see Unz 2012.

Of course, this also doesn’t mean it’s over for inequality and racism. Ending the hardline race IQ argument doesn’t at all change the facts-on-the-ground where things are as unequal as ever. One of the racialist lines has always been to observe how the average white/black IQ differential has hardly budged in 50 years. With Unz’s article safely in hand, this is obviously and easily explained: the average white/black wealth differential has also hardly budged in 50 years. {snip}