This article will lay out the basic case for “hereditarianism” or the view that genes are an important cause of racial IQ differences. At this point, you may already be thinking something like “no reputable scientist would ever think this!”, “Race doesn’t even exist!”, “IQ tests are culturally biased and don’t measure intelligence anyway!”, “What about poverty, racism, single motherhood, education, etc.,!” all of which will be dealt with in this article. For the time being, just try to keep an open mind. Then, after reviewing the evidence fairly, you can decide whether or not I’m a crack pot.
Race and IQ tests
Some people are skeptical of the very ideas of “race” and “IQ”, so let’s deal with that first.
Races are just populations that evolved in different environments. Racial groups correspond to genetic clusters and differ enough genetically such that differences in IQ are plausible. If you really doubt the basic existence of race, see this article dealing with that subject in isolation.
Now let’s turn to IQ. The most popular IQ tests include items which test mathematical ability, pattern recognition, short-term memory, verbal comprehension, and vocabulary. They are not perfect measures of intelligence, but they predict how smart a person’s peers say they are as well as how well people do in school and on the job (Denissen et al., 2011; Palhusand and Morgan, 1997; Bailey and Hatch, 1979; Bailey and Mattetal, 1977). In fact, IQ is a better predictor of income and educational attainment than parental socio-economic status is (Strenze, 2006).
Now, you might think that other notions of intelligence are important too. Certainly, IQ is not the only important thing about a person and whether to call a given skill “intelligence” is just a fight about words. If you want, you can replace the term “intelligence” with “IQ”. The important point is not that IQ is everything we normally call intelligence, it’s not, but that it is real and important.
Some people think that IQ tests only measure intelligence among Europeans. This is not true. Surveys of experts show that the vast majority of researchers in this area do not think that IQ tests are substantially culturally biased, and this is for good reason.
If IQ tests painted non-Whites are being less intelligent than they actually are then they should under-predict how well non-Whites do in school and the work force. They do not (Kobrin, 2001; Cucina et al., 2016; Jensen, 1980). Moreover, if IQ tests are biased, there should be “bias” problems which are among the hardest problems for non-Whites but the easiest for Whites. Actually, Whites and non-Whites rank the difficulty of IQ tests items essentially identically (Jensen and McGurk, 1986; Reynolds and Suzuki, 2003). Further still, if IQ tests were really biased against non-Whites, you would expect Europeans to score the highest on them. They don’t, East Asians do (Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, 2012; Faulk, 2016A). In summary, the idea that IQ tests are culturally or racially biased makes several testable predictions and they have all been falsified.
Establishing the Gap
It is uncontroversial that racial differences in IQ exist. Meta-analyses of data on more than 6,000,000 people have shown that Blacks in America score about 15 points lower than Whites do (Roth et al., 2001). East Asians, by contrast, score a few points higher than Whites do.
Of course, this does not mean that every African American has a lower IQ than every European American. Actually, these numbers imply that around one in ten African Americans will have an IQ of 100 or higher (the White average) and one in six Whites will have an IQ of 85 or lower (the Black average). The point is that these groups differ on average.
Why gaps matter
That being said, these gaps do matter. If you control for IQ, many social inequalities between the races disappear. For instance, if you hold IQ constant, Blacks are more likely than Whites to get a college degree and get paid the same for the same work….[ ]