John McWhorter posts at The New Republic:Saletan Responds: OK, Let's Try This
William Saletan has responded to my comment on his discomfort with No Child Left Behind data being tabulated by race.
I get where he's coming from. He makes many valid points. One of them is that while I argued that cultural differences determine why black people often don't do as well as white ones on tests, poor whites do significantly better than poor black ones, despite that we can assume that many of their cultural variables, such as a language culture focused on the oral rather than the printed page and direct-question exchanges like "What is the capital of South Dakota?", are similar to blacks'.
That question is not to be swatted away.
And to show that I mean it when I say that Saletan makes valid points, I am going to put my money where my mouth is.
Namely: I agree with Saletan that if it turns out that there are no genetic differences at all in intelligence between the races, it will be the unexpected case. At the very least, it is utterly plausible, given indisputable differences between races of other kinds, that intelligence may prove to be one of them. If intelligence is, even if only partly, traceable to configurations of neurons in the brain, then there is no a priori reason to suppose that those configurations are statistically identical between races while other physical configurations -- i.e. hair, color, etc. -- are not.
Yes, racial differences are a matter of probability--members will exhibit traits to varying degrees, a white individual may well be more X or Y than a black individual. Anyone reading this understands that. However, when issues such as this are brought up, this issue of statistics and probabilities is often brought to bear as if it somehow contradicted what I wrote in the previous paragraph. It does not.
The same goes for other facts such as that race is a squishy concept, that individuals within races differ genetically more than individuals of different races, and so on.
The fact remains that I have a certain complex of genetic factors that expresses itself as a degree of melanin, a kinkiness of hair, a nose shape, and so on, whose clustering typifies what we process as the black race, one which emerged in Africa.
Back to the point: sure, it may turn out that whites and/or Asians have higher intelligence than black people. It's not news I would love hearing, for all the same reasons few of us would. But it could happen.
However, to me, the evidence suggests that the difference in question, if it exists, would be quite small. Other factors are just as plausibly responsible for most or even all of the gap between poor white and poor black kids on tests like the NAEP.
Okay, but once again, what about the big differences nonpoor white and nonpoor black kids on the NAEP? What about that SAT study that found that whites in the lowest decile of family income outscored blacks in the top decile? Why do blacks about to graduate from college get an average score on the LSAT that would only fall at the 12th percentile of the white distribution?
Sailer makes other responses to "lefty logic" at his site (linked above).
Isn't it interesting that those who attempt to deny a genetic basis of race are perfectly willing to entertain a (they're born that way) genetic basis of "sexual orientation".
As to the excuses that egalitarians have been busy concocting (one after another) for the past 40 + years to explain away the various obvious difference in the races.......,
The "they're poor" argument was handled by Mr. Sailer. Black children from affluent homes score lower in testing than White children from poor or dysfunctional homes.
If the two groups come from a similar economic strata, either high or low, the Whites always score higher.
The "cultural bias" argument doesn't fly either since hispanics score higher than blacks and Asians score higher than Whites.
The "social stigma", "institutionalized racism" and "discrimination" argument is equally a fraud as two other non-White groups, Asians and jews, reside at the top of the socioeconomic ladder in America.
The "evils of colonialism" argument crumbles as well when common sense is applied.
Being that North America is a continent. South America is a continent. Africa is a BIG continent. And Asia is an even bigger continent. And being that Europeans made up no more than 30% of the Worlds population at their numerical peak. And that 99% of them never left Europe. And that the 1% that did were occupied on all of the above continents....
.....how many Africans actually came under European domination and control?
Realistically, no more than 2% of Africans in Africa ever came directly under European influence (and most of that was in Northern -Arab/Berber- Africa and along the coasts of west Africa). Which leaves the other 98% in lack of an excuse for their current predicament.
And, of course, this doesn't even touch upon the fact that sub-Saharan Africa was lacking in any recognizable civilization BEFORE European colonialism began.
Or that India emerged from similar occupation as a world power.
The "slave trade and the psychological effects" argument falls flat since every single other ethnic group on planet earth (including Europeans) have suffered similar afflictions.
Most people ignore or simply don't know that Europe suffered a nearly endless stream of invasions and occupations over the past three thousand years. The Persians, Carthaginians, Huns, Mongols, muslim Arabs, Turks, Moors and others overran, attacked, raped, murdered and enslaved millions of Europeans countless times over the centuries, occupying at one time or another all save a small corner in the north-west region of the continent.
There are a multitude of other excuses that egalitarians cobble together and they are all equally easily disputable.
Taking the Occam's Razor route and assessing the simplest, most obvious and straightforward reasons for the ongoing disparities between the races, the honest conclusion must always be, that the races are simply different.