Patterico's Pontifications

7/14/2021

Constitutional Vanguard: The Truth About Charles Murray’s “Two Truths About Race in America” — Part One of Three

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:44 am



My latest newsletter, for paid subscribers, discusses the content of Charles Murray’s latest book: Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America. It’s 5,000 words and heavy on links, analysis, and ideas. I’m pretty proud of it. But once I was done, I realized that nobody wants to read 5,000 words in a single email. So I decided to split it up into three parts. I’ll send the next missive in about three days, and the final one about three days after that.

Excerpt:

The description at the Amazon page for the book aptly summarizes what the “two truths” are: “American whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians have different violent crime rates and different means and distributions of cognitive ability.”

. . . .

Racial disparities in crime statistics are a touchy subject, but nowhere near as touchy as racial disparities in mean IQ scores. So, in discussing the content of the portions of Murray’s book addressing racial and ethnic disparities in mean scores on tests of cognitive ability, I think the most cautious approach — by which I mean the approach designed to ensure maximum accuracy and to avoid disputes over hotly contested side issues — is to identify the parts of Murray’s argument that aren’t really disputed by his critics, like Ezra Klein and the Vox crowd. I actually think the things everyone agrees about are probably more salient and important than the things they disagree about — or what Murray’s critics think they disagree with him about, since these critics often declare disagreement with positions that they attribute to Murray, but which he does not necessarily hold.

In short, I have zero intention of defending or even addressing the issue of whether genes play a role in mean group differences in cognitive ability.

There’s still plenty to talk about.

Access the post here.

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29 Responses to “Constitutional Vanguard: The Truth About Charles Murray’s “Two Truths About Race in America” — Part One of Three”

  1. As I say in the newsletter, I also plan a public post on the reaction to the book. But the discussion of the book’s contents, and the arguments over those contents, is for the paid reader.

    Patterico (47a23c)

  2. “American whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians have different violent crime rates and different means and distributions of cognitive ability.”

    Not only that, but the rates aren’t stable – they were not the same in 2020 as they were in 1990. And you can divide people into sub-groups e.g. by where they live, what kind of school they went to.

    The problem is the denial of this fact – although there are some other things, like the rate of out of wedlock births, or births by the age of the mother, or age of the mother at the time of the birth of her first child that are also different, where people don;t seem to have a problem in accepting it.

    There is in fact no place on earth where the violent crime rates are the same between two different groups of people. Which group of people is worse in this respect than the other may reverse itself in time, but they are highly unlikely to remain identical. It’s differential association.

    There would be no need to pay attention to such statistics were they not either explicitly or implicitly denied and then used as argument that something is wrong with law enforcement, school suspensions etc. Of course people should avoid the halo effect or the reverse.

    Sammy Finkelman (51cd0c)

  3. When did we as a society decide an IQ test was a reliable and predictable indicator of cognitive ability?

    Hoi Polloi (ade50d)

  4. When did we as a society decide an IQ test was a reliable and predictable indicator of cognitive ability?

    Or any other test. Also, I know some folks who have incredible cognitive ability but are unable to make a ham sandwich, let alone get a date.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  5. 3. Hoi Polloi (ade50d) — 7/14/2021 @ 11:06 am

    When did we as a society decide an IQ test was a reliable and predictable indicator of cognitive ability?

    https://www.verywellmind.com/how-are-scores-on-iq-tests-calculated-2795584

    Psychologist Robert Yerkes developed IQ tests for the U.S. Army during World War I to test army recruits. During the 1950s, David Wechsler developed IQ tests for use with children and adults

    The tests given during World War I were very misleading.

    Sammy Finkelman (51cd0c)

  6. @3 @4 your wife is pregnant and god comes to you and asks whether you want your kid to have an IQ of 80 or 120

    i guess you’d need some time to think

    JF (e1156d)

  7. Murray’s best work was and remains the assemblage of a stellar book he quilled w/his future second wife, titled:

    Apollo: The Race to the Moon (with Catherine Bly Cox), Simon & Schuster, 1989, ISBN 978-0671706258.

    I’ve read it several times and highly recommend it as an understandable narrative w/minimal technical jargon. It is the one of the first- and finest- books quilled on the Apollo program from the perspective of the ground organization at NASA and the contractors, not the astronauts: Mission Control, the flight director teams, back room technicians and general engineering management. Problem solvers, all of whom willingly helped by providing Murray & Cox w/stellar, first hand research material. So there’s plenty of the smart boys and girls in it– and thankfully, very, very little of Murray.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  8. “When did we as a society decide an IQ test was a reliable and predictable indicator of cognitive ability?”

    IQ is a reliable predictor of your ability to take an IQ test.

    Davethulhu (aa6793)

  9. IQ is a reliable predictor of your ability to take an IQ test.

    I address that in the piece, as does Murray in his book. I used to believe that. The belief does not stand up in the face of the evidence.

    Patterico (fc109d)

  10. When did we as a society decide an IQ test was a reliable and predictable indicator of cognitive ability?

    Also addressed in my piece and far more thoroughly in Murray’s book.

    Patterico (fc109d)

  11. @9 and @10; The study of IQ and cognitive ability has two big problems that encourage everyone to keep statements as inoffensive as possible. First, it’s easy to misunderstand and has a history of being abused. Second, no one has any good ideas about what to do about people at the lower end of the spectrum.

    The “we’d rather not talk about it” response isn’t the same thing as “we’ve got no idea what’s going on”.

    frosty (f27e97)

  12. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 7/14/2021 @ 11:23 am

    Also, I know some folks who have incredible cognitive ability but are unable to make a ham sandwich, let alone get a date.

    Unable to feed themselves or interact socially is a rare situation. When you say incredible are you talking about some sort of savant? Presumably they haven’t starved to death? So they have enough cognitive ability to make some other meal or get someone to do it for them?

    frosty (f27e97)

  13. tv dinner iq?

    mg (8cbc69)

  14. tv dinner iq?

    Leave Tucker Carlson alone.

    lurker (59504c)

  15. Ah, yes. An heir to the Swanson TV dinner fortune. Well played, lurker!

    norcal (25df9b)

  16. Interesting pc. I’m curious to see where you go from here. I also have a sudden curiosity to know more about how IQ tracks with various subgroups and cross tabs

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  17. A poor white child from a broken home in Appalachia scores a 70 on the IQ test. Is that due to his family’s income, lack of a nuclear family, his economic surroundings, or his race?

    A poor black child from a broken inner city Chicago home scores a 70 on the IQ test. Is that due to his family’s income, lack of a nuclear family, his economic surroundings, or his race?

    Hoi Polloi (b28058)

  18. Murray is a political scientist, not a neuroscientist so I would take his beliefs on cognitive ability and race with a huge dollop of salt.

    Hoi Polloi (b28058)

  19. So no genetic component to IQ? Evidence?

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  20. So no genetic component to IQ? Evidence?
    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74) — 7/15/2021 @ 10:19 am

    No, there is no genetic component to IQ. IQ is a test, not the product of genetics. If you want to say there is a genetic component to human cognitive ability, I’m all for that. Just find me the gene sequence and show how that gene is expressed more or less amongst “races.” Until then, I think all human beings fall along a more or less distributed curve for cognitive ability, with different factors enabling people to do better than their genetics might dictate.

    Hoi Polloi (b28058)

  21. ‘Born in Chicago in the early 1900s, Nathan Leopold, born in Chicago to a wealthy German-Jewish immigrant family, had an IQ of 210 and spoke his first words at 4 months old. However, in 1924, he, along with Richard Loeb, committed a murder—characterized at the time as “the crime of the century” — as a demonstration of their ostensible intellectual superiority which they believed enabled and entitled them to carry out a “perfect crime” without consequences. They murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks. Leopold and Loeb’s actions would inspire the films “Rope” and “Compulsion.” ‘

    -source,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_and_Loeb

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  22. “IQ is a test, not the product of genetics”

    Well in this context, IQ’s a test result that measures cognitive ability. Isn’t a social scientist equipped to opine on the relationship between intelligence and economic opportunity? Now granted, there are other factors that contribute mightily to economic success….including looks, drive, ambition….but there is at least some correlation between brains and earning potential. Looks and grit probably don’t get you through med school or a mathematically-intense STEM program. Personally I think Murray should have left race out of it….for a multitude of reasons including that some people will go off and make a stupid implication and get cover from his data. Just focusing on the changing opportunities for blue collar labor probably made for enough of an interesting thesis.

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  23. #4
    “I know some folks who have incredible cognitive ability but are unable to make a ham sandwich, let alone get a date.”

    That is one comparison, OK, two, but another might be why doesn’t cognitive ability mirror ability to perfom voluntary physical activity? Both are controlled by the frontal lobe. Why do some have an Autobahn for cognitive data and a goat path for voluntary physicality, while others get the opposite, and some people get both?

    steveg (ebe7c1)

  24. Paraphrasing Bill Burr, I can’t think my way into being able to dunk a basketball, but I can think and train myself to hit the peak of what my genetics allow. Just maybe if genetic allow, I could think and train enough to peak out over the rim. Similarly we can train to our peak genetic cognition. American Chinese people joke about doing their homework and after that was done, being forced to study for the SAT. They may not be the smartest, but they will maximize what they have.

    This is an article on physicality, genotypes, phenotypes and environment. Its a quick easy read and thought provoking. Not all of it will translate to cognition but interesting regardless.

    https://startingstrength.com/article/physical-potential

    steveg (ebe7c1)

  25. A poor white child from a broken home in Appalachia scores a 70 on the IQ test. Is that due to his family’s income, lack of a nuclear family, his economic surroundings, or his race?

    A poor black child from a broken inner city Chicago home scores a 70 on the IQ test. Is that due to his family’s income, lack of a nuclear family, his economic surroundings, or his race?

    Systematic racism for the black kid, poor parenting for the white one, I assume the intelligentsia would tell you.

    Murray is a political scientist, not a neuroscientist so I would take his beliefs on cognitive ability and race with a huge dollop of salt.

    Good thing he cites a lot of neuroscientists in his work then.

    Patterico (e349ce)

  26. Good thing he cites a lot of neuroscientists in his work then.

    That’s his forte- it’s what he did w/t Apollo book- cited the smart boys and girls and stayed out of the way of them telling their stories rather than attempting to interpret them fo the reader. He’s on safe ground as long as he doesn’t try to draw conclusions. It’s outside the area of his competence.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  27. Some breeds of dogs are smarter than other breeds of dogs, even though all dogs belong to the same species. Should we be surprised if the same is true of the human species?

    norcal (25df9b)

  28. Comparing humans to dog breeds is a bit much. But then some are named Yorkshire Terriers; others labeled German Shepherds; still more are Huckleberry Hounds while a few merely Goofy. Oscar Mayers are tender while Ball Parks are a bit more frank. Weenies all.

    OTOH some geese fly; others merely goosestep.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  29. @25, If the intelligentsia had read much on the subject they’re probably say that systemic inequality was the problem for both, and that race played a role in the black kids situation.

    Time123 (9f42ee)


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