As I’ve often told my friends over the years, the careful investigation of racial and ethnic differences presents huge difficulties in present-day American society.
On the one hand, the topic is a very interesting and important one, especially in a society with America’s enormous diversity, but the powerful social taboos surrounding such discussions have dissuaded the vast majority of skilled and objective academics from dipping more than a toe into these treacherous waters.
Therefore, this vacuum of discussion has been filled by a considerable number of small but energetic racialist websites and bloggers, usually maintaining anonymity, whose research competence tends to be very mixed and whose analysis is usually molded by a gripping ideological framework. But with neutral academics being AWOL, the data collected by this racialist community is often the only game in town.
A perfect example of this is found in my own recent Race, IQ, and Wealth article, in which nearly all of my IQ data was obtained from the published writings of Richard Lynn, a leading academic hero of racialists worldwide. As it happens, for nearly a decade it had seemed obvious to me that the likely conclusions to be drawn from Lynn’s data were exactly the opposite of those long believed by Lynn and his acolytes, and I think I have now forcefully made that case. But without Lynn’s research my own analysis would have been impossible. If others outside Lynn’s ideological circle had closely examined the data earlier, I am sure they would have come to much the same conclusion.
Similarly, although Hispanic-friendly institutions such as the Ford Foundation, the New York Times, and Ivy League academic departments deploy annual budgets totalling in the billions of dollars, the first and only place I learned of evidence for the remarkably rapid recent rise of Mexican-American IQs was at The Inductivist, a quasi-racialist blogsite operated as a part-time hobby by an ordinary individual. Supporting evidence of this IQ rise was later privately confirmed to me by another rightwing or quasi-racialist blogger, who asked to remain unidentified, perhaps concerned that his blogger friends might grow angry with him.
Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the attention that my Race/IQ article has so far received has come from similar quarters, with such racialist blogsites as HBDChick, Occidentalist, and Evo and Proud having made my article nearly the sole focus of their discussion over the last week or more, including well over a dozen separate posts and hundreds of comments. Certainly most of the reactions in these venues has been angry and often vituperative, but it has also often been quantitative and technical, and I am absolutely willing to absorb the insults of the former to gain the value of the latter.
For example, a sharp-eyed racialist blogger carefully checking my numbers quickly noticed that a paragraph in one of my columns had incorrectly used “British” where I should have said “German,” allowing me to immediately confirm the mistake and publish a correction on the web.
On a far more substantive point, my analysis had mentioned that although the Ireland Irish seemed to have had very low IQs as recently as the early 1970s, the American Irish were significantly above the white average in Wordsum-IQ. But one of the bloggers discussing my claims discovered that the GSS “Irish” category actually comprises both the Scots-Irish and the Catholic Irish, and the latter actually had nearly the highest Wordsum-IQ of any American ethnic group, which greatly strengthens my argument, given the enormous IQ gap with their cousins in Ireland. Since the Catholic Irish are also among the most highly urbanized American populations, this finding further reinforces my rural/urban hypothesis.
But perhaps the best example comes from the most extensive attempt to refute my analysis, which appeared on the quasi-racialist VDare.com website. Although several different arguments were made, the strongest and most detailed focused on an examination of the ethnic distribution of American SAT scores between 1980 and 2010, performed by another highly-quantitive racialist blogger. The article pointed out that there was virtually no net change in the substantial Hispanic/white performance gap on the SAT during those four decades. Since the SAT is a far better proxy for IQ than my Wordsum values, and the number of participants across those years number in the millions, any possibility of a large rise in Hispanic IQ would seem completely disproven. My claims had focused on American-born Mexican-Americans rather than Hispanics in general, but since the former group represented a large and rapidly growing portion of the latter, my argument would seem to have suffered a very serious blow.
However, this is incorrect. We must remember than only a fraction of the students in each ethnic group actually take the SAT, and this fraction tends to consist of the smartest and best prepared students. Most importantly, this fraction may sharply differ between ethnic groups and also change over time. With some effort, I managed to obtain the ethnic distribution of SAT test-takers back to 1975 and then compared these results with the ethnic distribution of 18-year-olds during those years, found in the Census-CPS data.
Just as I had suspected, the changes were dramatic. In 1975, 22% of whites took the SAT, and this had risen to 33% by 2011, a substantial rise of 50%. However, during these same decades, the percentage of Hispanic test-takers had grown from 6% to 32%, an enormous rise of over 400%. Thus, in 1975 white 18-year-olds were nearly four times more likely to take the SAT, but by 2011 the ratios were almost exactly the same. So during the decades in question, Hispanic SAT takers had shifted from being drawn from just the tiny academic elite of that group to being just as representative of their entire population as for white students. Since the white/Hispanic gap remained unchanged during this tremendous broadening of the Hispanic testing pool rather than greatly widening, the only possible explanation would seem to be a huge rise in average Hispanic academic performance, just as was reflected in the Wordsum-IQ scores. (My thanks to Razib Khan for locating the SAT and demographic data).
Thus, upon closer examination the SAT evidence cited for the alleged lack of Hispanic gains actually becomes very powerful evidence for strong Hispanic gains. And once again, none of this would have been brought to my attention without the dedicated research efforts of racialist partisans strongly opposing my conclusions.
Meanwhile, when I have examined the comment-threads of the tiny number of left-liberal websites which have discussed my article, I’ve obviously been gratified by the supportive atmosphere and friendly remarks, but I’ve almost never noticed anything of substantive let alone highly-technical value. Hence I tend to spend more of my time reading through the endless insults and attacks directed at my work in racialist sources, in realistic hopes of discovering information nuggets of major value. If anti-racialists wish to play a meaningful role in these debates rather than merely cheerleading from the sidelines, they would be well advised to invest some time and effect in familiarizing themselves with the quantitative and scientific issues involved.
Despite the very useful research role played by these racialist critics, I am obviously eager to also have my ideas also brought to the attention of a much wider and more mainstream audience, and this has now begun to happen. At the beginning of this week, my article received a strong endorsement from Andrew Sullivan, a prominent blogger at the Daily Beast/Newsweek, who had actually served as TNR Editor in 1994 when that magazine had originally promoted The Bell Curve by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein. Yesterday my piece was republished by LewRockwell.com, one of the leading libertarian websites, while Slate’s Will Saletan had previously distributed a recommendation to his thousands of Twitter-followers very shortly after original release. Articles on controversial, racially-charged issues often have a long shelf-life, and my 2010 Hispanic Crime article, which proved quite influential, required a full year to accumulate roughly the same number of pageviews that my current piece has garnered in just a couple of weeks, which is certainly an encouraging sign.
Surprisingly enough, my IQ analysis has so far received virtually no coverage whatsoever from mainstream/establishment conservatives, although they must surely now be aware of it. Perhaps one reason might involve the serious fault lines within the broad conservative movement, whose elites and leading pundits may often have sharply different views on racially-connected topics from large slices of the conservative grass roots, whose votes they require for victory. Bear in mind that the publication of my article on the TAC website and elsewhere has drawn a huge outpouring of extremely angry comments, now numbering in the many hundreds, and these individuals would surely be just as infuriated by any other conservative media publication which discussed my IQ findings in a less than wholly dismissive manner.
Over the years, liberal journalists and pundits have repeatedly accused leading conservatives of following a “dog whistle” approach to politics, namely taking positions aimed at mobilizing and energizing the racialist portion of their political base while still using language which retains plausible deniability for the rest of the political world. Publicly endorsing the conclusion that ethnic/racial IQ differences are probably not nearly as wide or intractable as is generally believed in certain quarters might generate the sort of angry firestorm which could undo the benefits of many years of diligent “dog whistling.” So perhaps they believe a safer approach is just to hide in the cellar until the controversy blows over, and they can then reemerge to promote tax cuts and a strong national defense.
A very similar situation had occurred a couple of years ago following the publication of my Hispanic Crime article in 2010. In the weeks which followed, a massive public debate ensued, with heavy participation by racialists, paleo-conservatives, libertarians, and liberals, but with virtually no coverage by mainstream conservatives, presumably fearful of fracturing their ideological base. So while the Conservative Politburo met in endless special session to determine the party-line response and eventually decided to say nothing, the topic was thrashed out by everyone else on the Internet. Perhaps the mainstream conservative reaction to discussions of race and IQ will follow the same trajectory.
Finally, Prof. Lynn has now responded at great length to my article, and I have been informed that his rebuttal is scheduled for publication later today on the website of Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance, a leading racialist organization. In due course, I will certainly reply to his arguments.