Repost from the old site. This article was linked on Reddit.com with a number of critical comments. I will attempt to address these comments. One commenter said, “I’d like to see real reporting on this rather than some guy’s blog.” A number of comments also attacked the reasoning and logic behind the piece. James R. Flynn, one of the world’s most pre-eminent researchers in intelligence, has reviewed this article and agrees with its premises. Specifically, he agreed that the Black IQ of 2007 is the same as the White IQ of 1957. I am well aware that IQ scores are only high or low relative to other scores. However, White racists love to bash US Blacks over their “low IQ of 85”. According to White racists, this means US Blacks are a race of morons and idiots. My point is that if the Black 85 IQ of 2007 is a “low IQ” and evidence of stupidity and idiocy, then the Whites of 1957 also had a “low IQ” that proved that they were also a race of morons and dunces. This is because the Black 2007 IQ is precisely the same as the White 1957 IQ. One of the most interesting things that has been happening in the area of intelligence testing in the past 80 years has been something called the Flynn Effect. The Flynn Effect (FE) has shown that IQ scores have been rising all across the West for the past 80 years. There is much debate about the causes of this effect and less about whether or not it is real.1 The general consensus is that it is a real effect, and that scores are indeed rising not only in the West, but in the 3rd World as well.2 From 1925-1995, IQ scores in the West rose about 3 points a decade, or about 20 points. The effect is seen across all racial groups in the West and among Dominican and African Blacks. There have been many arguments back and forth about this phenomenon. White racists say that the effect is not real and that it is only measuring a “test-taking effect”. That is, as people get better and better at taking tests in our test-taking societies, IQ scores will rise, but it is not a real increase in intelligence, it only shows that people are getting better at taking tests. What is interesting is that these same White racists are the very folks who like to bellow about the “low Black IQ” of 85, 15 points below the White average. They seem to think that this 15-point difference is real. But IQ tests are either valid or they are not. They either measure real intelligence or they just measure some fake “test-taking ability”. IQ scores cannot be valid measures of racial differences in humans, except when the scores are going up. In other words, if the FE is fake, so are IQ tests themselves. You can’t have it both ways. 3 Despite a mountain of increasingly Lysenko-like Leftist and liberal opposition to the notion that IQ tests measure intelligence, there is increasing agreement among psychometricians that IQ tests do in fact do a good job of measuring intelligence, and are not culturally biased in any way.4 Other White racists argue that the FE is only occurring on the subtests of the IQ test that are lowest in the g factor. The g factor is a hypothetical factor that is thought to be highly genetic and is considered a “pure” measure of intelligence. In fact, the FE has shown its highest scores in those subtests highest in g.5 Another argument is that the FE is occurring only in “learned knowledge” – book knowledge, or things learned in school, and that this does not really measure increased intelligence. There are two types of intelligence discussed here – fluid and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is a good raw measure of sheer processing speed. It tends to peak young. It can be seen in math prodigies, poets, songwriters and novelists who do their best work up until their early 30’s or so, and then start to decline. Fluid intelligence declines with age. G is a good measure of fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence can be called “knowledge” “book learning” “what one knows” or even “wisdom”. It is the accumulated knowledge and wisdom gained through a lifetime of learning and experience. As expected, it does not decline with age, and older people often score very high crystallized intelligence. In the West, the vocabulary and mathematics subtests (measures of crystallized intelligence) have risen only 2 points, while the FE rise as a whole was 20 points. In other words, people are not that smarter in terms what “what they know” than they were in the past. Their vocabulary base and ability to do math has not gone up much. The tests that show the most increase are tests measuring the ability to think abstractly and visual analysis. There is good evidence that people in the past were more concrete and not as scientific-minded (abstract) as we are today. One of the increases is on the ability to solve a “completely new problem that one has never been exposed to before”. If you have ever taken an IQ test, you know what the visual analysis tests are. Those are the tests that show you several geometric or designed figures and ask you which one is next in the series, or which one is does not belong there. These tests have shown the most explosive gains of all. So, it’s clear that we really are “getting smarter” and not just “knowing more stuff”. Another argument against the FE, albeit not racist, is that it is due to increased Black-White intermarriage. From 1972-2002, such intermarriage increased from There have been many theories about what is causing the rise in IQ scores. Some suggest better nutrition6, which is leading to taller people with larger heads.7 Others say it is an increasingly technological society, with television, remote controls, computers, video games and even cellphones all making people smarter. The increasing complexity argument is supported in that Flynn gains are concentrated on something called “visual analysis”. Others say that the increased availability and quality of education (here. A fascinating transcript of a talk by Flynn at a university in London recently is here. In the talk, Flynn discusses the FE at length and attempts to make some sense out of it. Much is made of the present Black IQ score of 85. White racists use it to show why they feel that Black societies, including ancient ones, have accomplished little. Not only is the Black IQ the same as it has always been, but it is irremediable, as IQ is, so the White racists say, 8 There are some serious problems with this analysis. First of all, one must understand just what an IQ score really is. An IQ score is merely a relative score, and as scores rise, the tests are regularly re-normed at the 100 average here in the US. Therefore, the 20 point IQ rise has been completely masked. Whites scored 100 and Blacks scored 85 in 1925. In 1995, after a 20 point rise in both groups, Whites scored 100 and Blacks scored 85 once again. Do you follow? The regular renorming8 of test scores every decade or so masked any rises that were occurring and made them invisible. It is important to recognize that a score of 85 is not necessarily low and a score of 115 is not necessarily high. The scores are only relevant in terms of what they are being compared against – they are not raw scores but comparative scores. Suppose we ran into some aliens on another planet who had managed to design their own IQ tests. Suppose they were 10 times more intelligent on average than we are. Suppose they normed their tests exactly the way we do above. The aliens who scored in the lowest Now suppose we went to another planet and found another population. Suppose this group of aliens was not very intelligent yet. Suppose some of the brighter ones had set up their own IQ test with the score breakdown above and normed for their population. We might find that the upper The tests are relative. Set at 100, 1 Second, Blacks of all ages, not just Black children, are reducing the Black-White IQ gap. Between 1972-2002, Black IQ at age 24 rose from 79 to 84.5, a gain of 5.5 points. A similar gain was seen amongst Black children. Even racists Arthur Jensen and Phillipe Rushton agree that the Black-White gap is not immutable. To continue to harp on this theme in face of contradictory evidence is either ignorance or White racism. White racists are in agreement that the Black average IQ of 85 is “low”. To this they ascribe all sorts of Black problems and pathologies, including welfare dependency, laziness, illegitimacy, amorality and irresponsibility, disorganized and uninhibited behavior, low income, poor education attainment and job performance, high crime and imprisonment rates, early death and poorer health, poor parenting, drug and alcohol abuse and just generally less civilized behavior.9 See here for a good description, by John McWhorter, of the Black pathologies referred to here, their history and some theories about what did and did not cause them. White racists take it further and say that an average IQ of 67-86 (depending on the region) prevents Blacks from creating decent and civilized societies anywhere on Earth. Instead of simply dismissing this argument with the usual name-calling cries of racism, we need to take it on head-on with facts. We need to ask these same White racists whether the average White American in 1957 was so stupid that he was doomed to the very same pathologies and failures ascribed to US Blacks today. Surely they will say no. US culture in 1957 was White culture. Blacks were segregated and kept down. US White culture had just beaten Nazism and Japanese fascism and then built up US society into perhaps the first-rate industrial power on Earth, all in a short period of time. Viewed through the prism of history, it was a stunning achievement. Illegitimacy, drug and alcohol use and addiction, welfare use, crime rate and unemployment were low. Educational attainment and health status were good, parenting styles were competent and the behavior of our society was generally viewed as highly civilized. Now get this! The IQ score of US Blacks today is exactly the same as the IQ score of US Whites in 1957! The US Black IQ score of 85 today is the same score as the US White IQ score of 100 in 1957, due to a 15 point rise in Black IQ (1995-2005 saw and end to the FE and even IQ declines in Scandinavia, although see here for Flynn’s paper suggesting that the FE seems is continuing in the US, especially for US Blacks). Which leads us to some painful questions. If US Whites could build, by 1957, one of the greatest societies of our time, why can’t Blacks, in 2007, do the same? I believe White racism plays some role in Black failure to equal White rates of achievement 60 years ago. But there is no way that White racism can explain all or even most of this failure. Much of it must be laid on Black society itself. What is fascinating is that we also cannot blame Black “low IQ” for this failure in attainment. That is because Black IQ in 2007 is not low, unless you think Whites in 1957 were stupid. Equally fascinating is that the Black pathologies in red text above exploded after 1960. This serious pathology, visible for all to see in the Black underclass, continues today. The explosion in this pathology coincided with a rise in US Black IQ of at least an incredible 14 points, and possibly more! If these pathologies were in any way linked to IQ, we would expect (Dramatically!) rising Black IQ to cause plummets in all of the pathologies in red above (since rising IQ typically equals drops in the pathologies highlighted above). Instead, as Blacks got smarter, their culture, in many ways, got sicker. We can even say, appallingly, that US Blacks are the smarter and sicker than they have ever been here. We can propose a few things here: US Blacks, with an average IQ today of 85, have the same IQ as US Whites with an IQ of 100 in 1957. If 1957 US Whites were not stupid, then neither are US Blacks today. It’s time to shut up about the “low Black IQ”, since by any reasonable standard, it is not really low at all. The pathology of the US Black underclass and the failure, corruption and chaos in in many heavily-Black US cities, from Detroit to Newark, is surely being caused by something, but whatever it is, it’s not US Black average IQ. The explosion of US Black pathologies from 1960 on cannot possibly be related to US Black IQ levels, which rose dramatically during this period. Rising IQ is linked by many studies to lower levels of all the pathologies bolded above. Therefore, rising US Black IQ could not possibly have caused these problems. The increase in these pathologies coincided with the US Civil Rights Movement and the liberation of US Blacks from segregation and the worst of White societal racism. The decades in the interim have seen plummeting levels of White racism against US Blacks in tandem with rocketing US Black pathology. If White racism caused Black pathology in the US, dramatic declines in White structural racism should have seen plummeting Black pathology. Instead, it Black pathology shot to the skies. To sum up, in the US, neither Black IQ nor White racism are adequate to explain the increase in Black pathologies since 1960, the failure and underachievement of the Black underclass, and the chaos, corruption, amorality, disorganization and general entropy of most of our large US Black cities. Things don’t happen for no reason. When searching for reasons for these Black problems, we need to look further than the usual scapegoats, White racism and Black IQ scores.
- 1. The FE is not controversial among psychometricians any more. Everyone agrees IQ scores are rising; most agree it’s not a fake effect of some kind. The debate is about why they are rising and what it means.2. The FE has been found in rural Kenya, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and in Dominica. Scores in Dominica rose 18 points in 35 years, or 5 points a decade. That is much higher than the 3 points registered in the West. 3. There is general agreement now that the a test-taking artifact cannot account for all of the FE. Some have put the test-taking effect of at most 5-6 points of the 20 point rise. I think it is even less than that. The FE shows up, and in fact, is most profound of all in the US and Britain, at age 4. This is where the White-Black gap is lowest. In 2002, at age 4, Blacks score 95.5 to the White score of 100. 4 year olds have hardly taken any tests, even nowadays. Any test-taking artifact is not likely to be large. 4. Further, IQ tests have not been made easier for Blacks between revisions. Experiments to look for whether or not the tests have been made easier for Blacks have found nothing. Large IQ testing firms deny that they have adjusted even one question to make the test easier for Blacks. 5. Flynn says his effect is highest on the most g-laden tests. His critics disagree. I have reviewed the evidence, and I agree with Flynn. Curiously, Rushton and Jenson, critics of Flynn, concede that the IQ rise is “factor invariant”, an apparent concession that FE IQ rises are in fact g gains. G is also said to be heavily correlated with reaction time. Not speed of reaction time, but consistency of reaction time, measured in milliseconds. The correlation is .62. See Jensen, Clocking the Mind: Mental Chronometry and Individual Differences (2006) for more. The higher the g, the faster the reaction time. Thus, reaction time is a good raw measure of cognitive speed and efficiency. However, recent studies showed that in the Netherlands, FE IQ gains were not translated into reaction time increases. 6. This are really a whole range of factors beyond nutrition that are best subsumed under the rubric of “health and intelligence”, an analysis of which which goes beyond the scope of this post. A good review is here. It seems likely that not just nutrition, but maternal health itself, has been improving. 7. Our heads are getting larger, and have been for 125 years now, especially in the size of the cranial vault, which develops by early childhood. This is consistent with better nutrition. Women’s bodies have not yet evolved to handle this, so we are seeing more Caesarian sections of women giving birth. 8. Some have suggested that the tests have become “dumbed down” in recent years, and this accounts for rising scores. Conservative “dysgenecists” love this argument, because they see our whole society dumbing down everything as the population gets dumber and dumber. The truth is the opposite, but still complex. Rising scores have forced us to make the test harder and harder in order to keep averages at 100. The tests have now been revised to make them harder several times. A discussion of dysgenics goes beyond the scope of this post. Some suggest that humans are getting smarter and dumbing down simultaneously, which is a strange idea. 9. Whenever Black “pathologies” and “problems” are referred to in this piece, I am referring to the text in red here.