Posted on January 30, 2022

Violating the IQ Taboo

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, July 1995

Over the past year or so I have spoken to half a dozen student groups about the relationship between race and intelligence. My lectures are not very different from AR articles. The audiences are initially hostile, sometimes to the point of rudeness, but I have never thought I might be attacked. In fact, I have begun to notice an interesting pattern in the way students respond during the question-and-answer sessions that follow the lectures. Blacks behave quite differently from whites, but not always in the ways one would expect.

There are always at least a few blacks in the audience, and when the lecture ends they are always the first to raise their hands. Occasionally, they do not even wait to be called on; they just start talking. The first “questions” are likely to be jumbled harangues about slavery, lynching, and racism. They are usually so full of cliches that not even the other blacks really want to listen, and before long there are cries of “Ask your question.” As likely as not, the harangue is turned into a “question” with a breathlessly uttered “So what do you think about that?”

The audience may titter at such a limp ending, but these are useful “questions.” The student has probably mentioned “the brutal colonization of Africa” or “the proven racial bias in IQ tests,” or even “systematic genocide,” and I can choose any of these subjects for my reply. The question session may start with several outbursts like this, but never very many. When they see that shouting “racism” just makes them look silly, most blacks are sensible enough to stop.

It is then that the mood begins to change. After all, everyone is fascinated by taboos. Blacks and whites alike begin to realize that I know a lot about race and intelligence, that I do not have cloven hooves, and that I answer questions honestly and factually. Despite years of liberal training, people simply can’t help being interested in twin studies, adoption studies, cross-cultural IQ testing, and physical differences between the races. They start asking real questions and want real answers. Many students have probably never heard anything but the usual sociological mush about “racism” and “test bias” and, to their credit, they seem open to the clarity and consistency of biological explanations.

The longer the question and answer session goes on, the more candid and even friendly it becomes. After the formal session comes to a close, many students — black and white — cluster around to ask yet more questions. They can’t seem to get enough of this forbidden topic. Once, at Northwestern University, I spoke for nearly an hour, conducted a Q&A for a further hour and a half, and then answered questions informally for another twenty minutes.

Once their more militant fellows have left the room, some blacks become downright cordial. “You’ve opened my mind to a new way of looking at things,” one will say with a smile. If I have spoken about the IQ differences between dark-skinned and light-skinned blacks, a light-skinned woman may approach me and say, “I always wondered about those dark, dark brothers.” Some blacks are genuinely pleased to meet a white man who is not afraid of straight talk about race.

For the most part, the white students are disappointing. They are never the first to raise their hands, and even after the questions start to flow, they phrase theirs in careful, non-committal terms: “What does the literature you cited have to say about Chinese-American IQ scores?” On my way out the door, one or two whites may approach me and say furtively, “I’m so glad you came and spoke to us. Someone has got to start saying these things.” I remind them that they can start saying them, too.

So far, my most disappointing experience has been at Hillsdale College in Michigan. The college invited me to take part in a series of lectures on the future of welfare, and asked me to speak about welfare and race relations. Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, was to speak before I did, and I assumed that the subject of race and IQ would arise. To my surprise, Dr. Murray spoke only about the need to abolish welfare; no one in the audience asked him about The Bell Curve. Later that evening, though, he and I and about a dozen Hillsdale faculty had a lengthy, free-wheeling discussion about race and IQ. I assumed the subject was considered fit for public consumption.

The next day, in my talk, I spoke about the relationship between IQ scores and racial differences in poverty rates, welfare rates, illegitimacy rates, and crime rates. The question and answer session, which lasted only about 20 minutes, was mildly hostile but polite. The students — including one black — who surrounded me for another 20 minutes until the auditorium shut down were the usual curious and friendly group.

Afterwards, the woman in charge of the lecture series was not friendly. She said that I failed to speak about the subject assigned to me and that I had embarrassed the college. One black had told her I was an obvious racist, and that he was insulted by my presence on campus. She told me she could not abide by a previous agreement to publish my lecture, along with all the others, in a volume called Champions of Freedom. I couldn’t help but remind her that she had taken an active part in the discussion the previous evening, that she had taken racial differences in intelligence for granted along with everyone else. For her, that didn’t matter; I had failed to keep my end of the bargain and had embarrassed the school.

In a double issue for September-October 1993, AR reviewed a self-published book by an American living in South Africa. The author, Gedaliah Braun, argues that African blacks take it for granted that the average white is smarter than the average black, and even many American blacks accept the notion of racial differences in intelligence — after some resistance. Dr. Braun writes that most blacks are not bothered by these ideas, and that the whole race/IQ taboo has been manufactured by whites out of pointless concern for black sensitivities. He thinks that many politicized blacks react furiously to any suggestion of racial differences, mainly because they know that this is such an effective way to intimidate whites; the facts themselves are of no great concern to them.

In 1993, I was very skeptical of Dr. Braun’s thesis. As I speak to more and more audiences, I find myself much less skeptical today.