May 6, 2009

John McWhorter on the Ricci case

John McWhorter writes at The New Republic.com:

Of course, the question we are not supposed to ask is whether the failure rate suggests that black people are less intelligent. However, there is no need to fear here. The reason black people of unaffluent origin tend not to do well on standardized tests is a matter of language and how it's used--and the issue is less about color than class, and in the global sense, about what it is to be human.

In countless American communities, flyers are routinely full of major misspellings, more than a few people are only fitfully comfortable with e-mail, and few read newspapers above the tabloid level. Life is fundamentally oral. People from places like this (which include Appalachia and the rural white South, as much as black and brown inner cities) get next to no reinforcement from home life in acquiring comfort with the written word beyond the utilitarian.

Reading is not the only cultural hurdle. In working-class and poor black culture as in many fundamentally oral ones, being asked point-blank questions--like, "When was the Declaration of Independence written?"--and answering clearly is not as central to normal communication as it is in mainstream culture. (Consult, for example, Shirley Brice Heath's Ways With Words.) Many black people of working-class or poor background mention how ticklish this kind of interaction felt when they first went to a decent school.

Direct questions as regular interaction are largely an epiphenomenon of the printed page. Most humans on earth lead fundamentally oral lives in the linguistic sense (only about 200 of the world's 6,000 languages are written in any serious way, for example), and need to adjust to direct questions. Middle class American kids inhale them at the kitchen table. Other kids learn how to deal with them in school; it takes practice, and because our public schools are so uneven, quite a few never get really good at it.

Thus if the black firefighters aren't at home with the format of the promotion test (reading passages and answering questions on what they mean), it is understandable and has nothing to do with their innate ability. After all, placing 16th in a pool of several dozen candidates is not too shabby in itself. The job, it would seem--say, to old-time Civil Rights leaders with a black pride that deserved the name--would be to enhance the innate ability. The black candidates need practice.

Plaintiff Frank Ricci understood this. He's dyslexic. Instead of doing poorly on the test and charging discrimination, he had textbooks read onto tape, worked with a study group, and practiced hard. He placed sixth out of 77. Any notion that this is too much to ask of someone with more melanin--or even with a different "racial history"--is nonsensical at best and gruesome at worst.

Still, we justify the rhetorical contortions that excuse black people from challenging examinations; in the end, it is based on a tacit sense that such things are antithetical to black authenticity, that it is somehow untoward to require this kind of concentrated scholarly exertion on black people.


Okay, that may (or may not) be "the reason black people of unaffluent origin tend not to do well on standardized tests," but what about black people of affluent origin? Why is the racial achievement gap similar for them?

I've heard it argued a million times that racial differences in achievement are caused by socioeconomic differences, but when we look at blacks of high socioeconomic status, we see only fair-to-middling achievement.

For example, black college graduates who take professional and grad school exams only score at an average level of the 10th to 18th percentile among whites (depending upon the exam).

Thousands of social scientists have tried to make the racial gap disappear by adjusting for socioeconomic differences and have and failed. A social scientist who found a group of affluent African-Americans who consistently scored as well as whites of similar affluence would be feted for the rest of his life. The incentive is there, but nobody has been able to deliver the goods in 45 years of searching.

If you are black and you grew up summering in one of the small upper class black communities on Martha's Vineyard, then, yes, you'll do pretty well on average. You might do better on average than whites who never heard the word "summer" used as a verb. But, Martha's Vineyard blacks don't do as well on the whole on tests or in the real world as Martha's Vineyard whites. And it works that way up and down the social ladder.

Which then suggests, using Occam's Razor, that the socioeconomic gap is more caused by the achievement gap than vice-versa. But Occam's Butterknife remains much more popular...

One interesting question that McWhorter alludes to is whether African Americans are relatively more skilled at learning from oral than from written instruction. I could well believe that African Americans are better, relative to IQ, than whites at persuasive speaking, but I can't recall any evidence that they're better, relatively, at learning from listening than learning from reading. Perhaps, though, there is. I'm sure the topic has been studied at length.

In general, African American culture seems more oriented toward learning how to persuade other people subjectively than toward learning objective knowledge.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blacks of high-economic status could still harbor the same cultural traits that McWhorter mentions. These blacks attain success despite those cultural tendencies, but they still pass them to their kids.

Here's a true test of whether or not the black IQ gap purely stems from culture: Instruct blacks and whites on IQ tests. If both groups make equivalent gains, then you can make a case for a genetic argument. If on the other hand the black group makes more significant gains than whites, then it suggests that whites on average--because of their culture--are always attaining a score that's their ceiling where as blacks are not.

Ivy said...

He notes poor whites have similar oral influences which negatively affect objective performance. But the problem: the poorest whites (those in Appalachia) and the poorest blacks are still separated by the same obdurate achievement gap. If the oral aspect of culture is negatively deterministic with regards to academic ability, then surely it would affect whites and blacks in the same manner. Yet, this doesn't seem to be the case, at least according to SAT scores.

But of course, let's just ignore that. Repeat after me: It's culture! It's culture! 80 years of stagnant testing data can only mean it's culture!

Simon said...

"In countless American communities, flyers are routinely full of major misspellings, more than a few people are only fitfully comfortable with e-mail, and few read newspapers above the tabloid level. Life is fundamentally oral. People from places like this (which include Appalachia and the rural white South..."

This stuff is laughable. I live in London, I just came back from visiting the US 'rural white South' last week. I'd say the literacy level there was higher than in the UK, certainly there were far fewer spelling errors on signs & such, while the local newspaper seemingly everyone gets delivered (the Tennessean) is a bit dull, but well above UK tabloid level. And of course US white Southerners score close to median 100 on IQ tests.

f_cubed said...

How long is name list of any/all "culture seems more oriented toward learning how to persuade other people subjectively than toward learning objective knowledge."

Anonymous said...

Keep hammering Steve. It is a massive edifice you are undermining here.

To admit that blacks may be on average less intellectually capable than whites would undermine the entire manichean foundation of modern liberal and faux conservative
(non)thought.

Slavery would become another species of historical event, and the elites in media and academia would lose one of their three most potent weapons to use against European gentile traditions.

Anonymous said...

"answering clearly is not as central to normal communication as it is in mainstream culture. Many... black people mention how ticklish this kind of interaction felt when they first went to a decent school."

McW damns himself with sentences like that. At a certain point, it looks like all black intellects come down to a self justifying falsehood. Oh yeah - and he throws out a meaningless accusation of racism vs. Steve and his readers. He never defines how we are racists. By this sign you shall know you are dealing with a liar in essence.

Anonymous said...

"These blacks attain success despite those cultural tendencies, but they still pass them to their kids."

How much of that "success" is due to stuff like AA or in South Africa BEE? That’s the real question. When all the artificial stairwells, hanging mats, set-asides and leg-ups are removed, how much effective success is left? How much of this success is also due to the conscious breaking down of traditional western mores with its emphasis on discipline, skill, integrity and ethics? Most Jazz and pop musicians, and all these sportsmen and celebrities not to mention more sinister “stars” would not amount to much in a Victorian or classical European environment, save as street entertainment. In fact in those days most of these endeavours were seen as a sign of character weakness and a moral failure. Traditional European Christian morality basically has no more influence on modern (materialist and legalistic) society, but would instantaneously trash most of the so-called "advancements" of minorities. Of course it would also trash lots of corporate America (which as we see is built mainly on lies and deception) and their political and legal lackeys which is the main reason why it had to go. Come to think of it, maybe the never-ending AA battles are just a wanted distraction from crimes being committed in broad daylight.

Anonymous said...

Its ridiculous. We can admit that blacks can run faster and jump higher on average than Asians, but we cannot admit that Asians just might, maybe, possibly, perhaps, could, have a CHANCE at being better at mathematical ability than blacks.

We have to make CERTAIN to prove our society isn't "racist", that x-amount of blacks get hired at the RAND corporation, NASA, and the Defense Department in mathematical-related jobs relative to asians, but we dont have to make sure that asians get hired in jazz quartets, football teams, basketball teams, track and field teams relative to blacks that emphasize abilities that they possess vis-a-vis Asians.



This is unfair. The abilities of whites and Asians in particular are of the mental variety rather than physical. It handicaps them financially to make them give up some positions in life related to things that they are innately good in, perhaps forcing them to do some things that they are not gifted at naturally.



If we are going to have affirmative action, then dammit lets make sure that only 60 percent of artists who get NEA grants can be white, only 60 percent (and falling) of college professors can be white, only 13 percent of NFL and NBA players can be black, only 13 percent of RAPPERS and Jazz musicians can be black, only 5 percent of mathematicians can be Asian, only 2 percent of movie reviewers and music critics can be Jewish and so on. Affirmative Action is only penalizing whites and to a lesser extent-Asians so far. Everybody else is getting a unfair advantage from it.




At the heart of the matter........the real ugly unspoken-only-thought-in-the-private-mind crux of it, Saletan and McWhorter KNOW Sailer is right, but the "positive" social control of political correctness has yet again worked just as the Frankfurt School Marxists wanted it to, and made them deny what is right in front of their lying eyes. Anybody who cannot tell that Asians are innately usually better at mathematics than most other races is willfully denying the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.



Scum Bag Billy

Anonymous said...

Oral Comprehension Sets the Ceiling on Reading Comprehension
http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/spring2003/biemiller.html

Anonymous said...

"Here's a true test of whether or not the black IQ gap purely stems from culture: Instruct blacks and whites on IQ tests."

Or compare white and black kids who were adopted and raised by white parents in white communities, see if there's any difference in average scores.

Roger Chaillet said...

McWhorter is a clown.

My father grew up in a tough, working class neighborhood of Southeast Washington, D.C. He is one of 10 children. My late grandfather was a steamfitter at St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

My father and his 9 siblings all became members of the middle class. They all attended public schools in D.C.

My father spent almost the whole of his working career as a computer programmer. He was so good at it that he could even program in assembly language! Yet he was trained as a plumber in high school.

How is that my father and his siblings could so well yet grow up in poverty? (They grew up in the Depression).

After all they attended D.C. public schools.

What changed other than the racial makeup of the schools?

And why is suburban Prince George's County, Maryland an impossibly violent suburb?

It's majority black and boasts some of the highest household incomes in the country.

Yet violent crime is out of control and the public schools are abominable.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that McWhorter, who has a written a couple of outstanding books on linguistics, thinks that blacks and the rural poor cannot answer direct questions.

How the fuck could they even get a driving license or fill in a job app, if they are that stoopid?

Richard...london

Anonymous said...

OK, he's got a thesis: blacks have a fundamentally oral orientation to language and this causes them to underperform on written tests. He simply assertst this, of course. In refuting an ugly, HBD thesis, evidence isn't required, and if offered, doesn't need to be tested. It's just like highschool: a joke about an unpopular nerd will always get a laugh, whether or not it's funny.

But if he was looking for evidence, surely he could find some. What about those rural, dialect- or Celtic-speaking communities in the British Isles? They've got to be as "oral" as American blacks, right? They must have psychometric tests on those groups going back to the days when shepherds were still counting their sheep by "yan tan tethera" instead of normal numbers. And I'm sure their testing results were depressed compared to urban, schooled populations. (A friend of mine had a nervous breakdown after a year trying to teach kids math in rural Somerset.) But were they similar to American blacks' results? Interesting question.

intellectual pariah

Anonymous said...

John McWhorter has an 18 cd great american lecture which he narrates which is fantastic. I don't know about his work on IQ but his work on linguistics is excellent. Just giving credit where credit is due.

Ravi Bopara said...

Typical cart-before-the-horse stuff, but 3 questions for McWhorter.

1)Why do blacks still do worse on non-verbal, non-written tests like the reverse digit span memory test?

2)Should this putative oral culture of the working classes be nurtured or overcome? IOW, is the NCLB policy a worthwhile project?

3)Does this argument not equally apply to and account for individual, as well as group, intelligence test differences? IOW, isn't this a blank slate theory?

Evil Sandmich said...

"Thus if the black firefighters aren't at home with...(reading passages and answering questions on what they mean)"How about a vote on who wants illiterate firefighters?

testing99 said...

I'm not sure Steve that either your or McWhorter can make any claims.

For example, Jazz Music, highly complex, abstract, and taught by rigorous musical instruction AND theory was largely created by Blacks. From a population that was only 12% of the US.

Now of course Jazz is dominated by mostly White composers, musicians, and so on.

So there is a shift over time, say 1890-2009. Entangled with cultural attitudes, what gets rewarded, and what gets punished. I think if you look at historical data you will see a huge shift in "G" among Blacks over time.

Anonymous said...

McWhorter says, "Thus if the black firefighters aren't at home with the format of the promotion test (reading passages and answering questions on what they mean), it is understandable and has nothing to do with their innate ability."

Perhaps. But wouldn't you expect someone who will be promoted to a supervisory position to be "at home with the format" of all the paperwork that will come their way daily? If so, testing for that at-homeness would be more important than testing their (test-evading) "innate ability."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Here's a true test of whether or not the black IQ gap purely stems from culture: Instruct blacks and whites on IQ tests. If both groups make equivalent gains, then you can make a case for a genetic argument. If on the other hand the black group makes more significant gains than whites, then it suggests that whites on average--because of their culture--are always attaining a score that's their ceiling where as blacks are not."

Actually, no it doesn't. G is about adaptibility to solve novel problems. G is also the key element in a tests predictive validity for real world phenomena because, in real life, you have to solve novel problems, particularly in activities associated with high status occupations and endeavors. You can teach tests and increase scores, but the gains are hollow (i.e., they are not indicative of higher ability - see Wicherts, among others).

The thing about the black white difference is that it's not as if whites just score higher on g-loaded tests, but don't perform any better in the real world. Whites do much better on average in a wide range of competencies and job and academic settings. The tests merely reflect these real world differences because they substantially correlate with them. Even without the tests, in the real world, where it matters, the differences would still be there. As Cochran and Harpending point out in their recent book, "The 10,000 Year Explosion," in their chapter discussing the intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews: psychometric tests are useful in evaluating their theory, but ultimately what matters is that Jews achieve so much in the real world.

Ron Guhname said...

Maybe I can find some studies, but it is a very common practice for students in college classes to not read their textbooks. Professors, at least at ordinary colleges, know this and so spend a lot of time in class going over the important stuff from the readings. These students learn almost exclusively from lecture which is mostly oral. And guess what--blacks don't perform as well on the tests.

If students are not reading in college, I'm sure it's even more the case at lower levels.

Anonymous said...

Should I be surprised at the race of the offenders?

Anonymous said...

John McWhorter is probably one of the five smartest black men in America. He is a true genius. Because of that, and because he grew up with extremely intelligent black parents, it's probably hard for him to absorb the overwhelming statistical data that show that blacks on average have lower IQ. He's probably 4 standard deviations higher in IQ than the typical black, and to acknowledge that, might make him feel like a freak.

- Fred

Ron Guhname said...

The IQ question shows that blacks do not excel at objectivity. I bet if I grabbed a random white neighbor, he would quickly agree that blacks sprint faster than whites, but you can circle the globe and not find a black who thinks they are, on average, less intelligent.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't see it yet, Steve, John McWhorter also responded to Saletan's latest here: "Saletan Responds: OK, Let's Try This". McWhorter brings you up:

Think about it: our public discourse is at a point where when Saletan even entertains the data that makes us so uncomfortable he is excoriated endlessly. Where is the space in this discourse for people like Sailer to acquire any kind of meaningful influence?

Really: we have to think about what we're proposing as a danger worthy of engagement. What legislation would have Steve Sailer's imprint? What steps can we imagine - and societal evolution happens generally in steps--via which we would get to a point where black people were routinely herded apart as mental deficients? Or whatever dystopian horror we are supposed to be worried about.
The funny thing is that McWhorter doesn't seem to realize how close you and him are on this issue. You're both in favor of honesty on group differences (apparently), and neither of you expects such honesty to lead to a dystopian horror. McWhorter must never have read your series about how to help the left half of the bell curve. You ought to share it with him.

- Fred

Anonymous said...

One interesting question that McWhorter alludes to is whether African Americans are relatively more skilled at learning from oral than from written instruction.
It would seem that McWhorter is not familiar with Dan Sperber's work nor Evolution.

All people should be well tuned to extracting the maximum information from their normal interlocutors. Some will be well tuned to manipulating them. Some will also be well tuned to using whitey's imaginary guilt to manipulate whitey as well.

Anonymous said...

I think Mcwhorter misunderstands Saletan's motives for writing about these topics so much, as Saletan explains today.

I am certain that Saletan has viewed Steven Pinker's various lectures over the past few years warning nbd-denying liberals that the rapidly-accumulating science is showing that hbd is real and powerful, and that our current intellectual landscape is not prepared to deal with this science.

So Saletan is trying to start a discussion about a new intellectual framework that can survive this new evidence.

Good luck with that! I'll be at the lolcats.com website.

LemmusLemmus said...

'being asked point-blank questions--like, "When was the Declaration of Independence written?"--and answering clearly is not as central to normal communication as it is in mainstream culture.'

I have no first-hand experience with black Americans whatsoever, but I find it hard to believe that black American kids are not used to understanding direct questions such as "When did you come home last night?" or "Can you lend me a dollar?" Is what that guy writes really what he means?

Anonymous said...

"How about a vote on who wants illiterate firefighters?"

Well, it wouldn't work for me, but it would be great for you!And voting? It is such a messy process, better to have policy settled in a courtroom.

josh said...

I'm confused! McWhorter says blacks do less well because of their lesser ability to read,based on their lower socioeco status. But the test is NOT hard to read;its very simple plain English that anybody could read-they are not asked to reflect on Martin Buber or something. Its just hard to answer. Understanding the questions is fairly easy;if you dont,then you're either very low in literacy,or really dumb. Figuring out the answers is the hard part. McWhorter seems all too smug and confident in his opinion. People should make sure theyre right before they get smug and confident...heh heh heh!

AMac said...

In his latest response to Saletan at TNR, Prof. McWhorter writes --

What legislation would have Steve Sailer's imprint? What steps can we imagine... via which we would get to a point where black people were routinely herded apart as mental deficients?

and

As for the moral copout Sailer-types wait for, where we eliminate all efforts to help black people out of a conclusion that they are beyond assistance because of genetic inferiority.

I've read some of Sailer's policy suggestions, such as on "Citizenism", micronutrient supplements for poor African children, and improving the overall quality of teachers in mostly-black urban schools.

I can't recall encountering his proposals that:

-- black people be treated as mental deficients.

-- black people be herded apart.

-- all efforts to help black people be ended on the grounds of their being beyond assistance.

I would be very interested in reading the articles that apparently form the basis of Prof. McWhorter's opinions. Perhaps he could be asked to supply the citations that back up his charges?

Anonymous said...

Some blurb on McWhorter says:

He has also written a book on dialects and Black English, The Word on the Street, and three books on Creole languages.
Sigh. Only in America could someone be so narrowly focussed.

Anonymous said...

"Or compare white and black kids who were adopted and raised by white parents in white communities, see if there's any difference in average scores."

There was a lot of problems with that study, including later placement for the black kids and their coming from more problematic homes.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, no it doesn't. G is about adaptibility to solve novel problems. G is also the key element in a tests predictive validity for real world phenomena because, in real life, you have to solve novel problems, particularly in activities associated with high status occupations and endeavors. You can teach tests and increase scores, but the gains are hollow (i.e., they are not indicative of higher ability - see Wicherts, among others)."

So are you saying that if after training on the tests the black scores increased more than the white ones, it would not suggest anything? If the ability to solve novel problems can be taught, then it suggests that it is significantly a cultural trait. It would also explain why groups who previously scored low on IQ tests now score higher.

Anonymous said...

"Anybody who cannot tell that Asians are innately usually better at mathematics than most other races is willfully denying the overwhelming evidence to the contrary."


Umm, what exactly is this "overwhelming evidence" which you speak of?

Anonymous said...

"I find it hard to believe that black American kids are not used to understanding direct questions such as "When did you come home last night?" or "Can you lend me a dollar?""

When did you come home last night?

"I was out with Steve. His sister hurt her foot."

You raise a good point Lemmus. Part of this is caused by the personality traits that are common at the time these kids are being tested. Believe me, 14-18-year-olds are really good at missing the point of simple questions. The kids at my school are virtuoso at getting the "feel" of a sentence, and constructing an answer that gets across one idea at any given time or place, "Don't worry, you can trust me, I haven't done anything wrong." AFAIK they never get punished for being evasive, since you can never prove they didn't "just misunderstand".

"I need to talk to my science teacher."

Do you have a hall pass?

"I'll only be gone a second. He knows I'm coming!"

It's not racial, but if you only observed blacks you might think so. I've known plenty of white kids with fine "language arts" skills who can't understand a simple question, because they've been conditioned to regard wishy-washy oral exchanges as being can't-lose situations - if it's oral, there's no record of who said what - while written exchanges are very dangerous by comparison. To lack the ability to respond in writing to a simple written question - that is evidence of low cognitive ability (with the usual caveats about extreme environmental deprivation).

Svigor said...

Come to think of it, maybe the never-ending AA battles are just a wanted distraction from crimes being committed in broad daylight.

Sorta like global warming, er, I mean climate change...

Svigor said...

Seems like the first question to ask in situations like this is, "how do we distinguish this alternative to IQ from a proxy for IQ?

If it's persistent and incorrigible, I'm going to need a very good reason to buy into this alternative.

Basically, if we can't run from it or defeat it, how are we any better off for using the theory?

Svigor said...

Should I be surprised at the race of the offenders?

This story should be plastered all over national news, reenacted on TV, made into an episode in a crime drama, etc. The kid should be a national hero and do the talk show circuit, shake hands with all the politicians, get endorsement deals, etc.

Instead it'll be swept under the rug. Yeah, we're a healthy nation.

Duscany said...

I've often thought that my 21 year old (white) son had a very style very similar to that of blacks. He has traditionally had considerable difficulty learning from the printed page but he is incredibly verbal, attuned to nuance and tone, and extremely good and wildly articulate in oral arguments.

I have also often thought that this gap between oral and written ability is one reason blacks are so pissed at IQ, work and placement tests. It seems so totally wrong and unfair to them that some wimpy white guy who couldn't hold a candle to them in any personal setting nevertheless consistently outscores them on any written test. That's why black advocates complain so loudly that the tests must be biased. Their own perception is they are far superior in presence and charisma to the whites with whom they are competing. Yet the whites score higher and get the job.

I once heard an instructor at Cal State Long Beach make a similar complaint. He had a big class with a couple of articulate blacks who dominated class discussion and he was so pleased with them. But then they took the mid-term and their performance was dismal. He wondered how he could have been so wrong about their academic abilities. He finally concluded he had been totally seduced by their presence and self-confidence, while ignoring the quality of their arguments.

rising son said...

"For example, Jazz Music, highly complex, abstract, and taught by rigorous musical instruction AND theory was largely created by Blacks. From a population that was only 12% of the US."

Jazz rose in the late 1800s in speak easys and dance halls of the Gulf area. The creators were classically trained musicians, many from the mixed blood class, of whom many had studied in Europe. I don't have stats, but this is not something I made up. It is in the mainstream history for the past few years. I learned about this on a genealogical trip to New Orleans to investigate some mulatto ancestors. The mulatto class was actually very mixed, many of them white looking "passe blancs." Quite a few were supported and educated by white fathers and these were the "black" musicians who were sent to Europe for their education since they couldn't go far in the U.S., especially the South.
After the Civil War, the mulattos lost their special status. Musicians who had played in mulatto orchestras (and white ones), were now classed as "black" and were segregated.
I am not an expert or a fan of jazz, but I am told by those who are, that for someone schooled in classical music, the similarities of structure and composition are clear. May be why jazz was so popular in Europe, especially eastern Europe, where so many people were brought up playing instruments and schooled in classical music.
So, yes, in a way "blacks" (more often mulattos really) created jazz. However, it could never have come to pass if centuries of classical European tradition had not preceded it, not to mention the instruments.
btw, indigenous African music is often quite melodic and beautiful. I never thought I liked any black music, except for some Motown, until I heard music indigenous to Africa. I have to admit I was surprised.
Black American spirituals are taken straight from Scottish and British hymns (a black historian discovered this though it was always obvious to anybody who had ever heard Scottish dirges), and sung with black voices and style which made them sound way different from the way whites would do them. Amazing Grace is pure Celtic dirge and was written by a white sailor who felt guilty about being in the slave trade. His ship was saved during a storm and he repented. But then the Star Spangled Banner was a drinking song. People just found the words. The melodies have always been wafting around.
I once listended to a traditional Irish band who played an ancient Irish melody that was exactly the dirge-like tune of "Eyes on the Prize."
Quite frankly, I think the most purely black "musical" expression in American music may be rap. It uses no european instruments or melody of any kind. Just their thumping voices.
I suspect if any truly great black music arises in America, it may be as a result of African influences.

Anonymous said...

"So are you saying that if after training on the tests the black scores increased more than the white ones, it would not suggest anything? If the ability to solve novel problems can be taught, then it suggests that it is significantly a cultural trait. It would also explain why groups who previously scored low on IQ tests now score higher."

You're missing the point. G is important because it is predictive of real world behavior. The operational basis of g appears to be working memory and the speed and efficiency/consistency of the conduction of electrochemical impulses in the brain (processing speed and accuracy). Both of these are under tight genetic control.

The reason g is predictive of performance in a wide range of mental activities is because most complicated activities draw on working memory and information processing speed and accuracy. (See Geary, The Origin of Mind). Processing speed and working memory are useful in skill acquisition in two ways. First, they speed up skill acquisition. Second, there are some skills that people below a certain measure of g cannot master (think of it like trying to run a program on a computer with insufficient RAM and/or processing speed). Provided a task is not too difficult, as in the case of reading and basic math skills (as opposed to higher mathmatics), people of varying levels of g can master such skills. However, the time and effort necessary can vary considerably.

Studies have shown that even things like the rate of learning to be proficient at the Tetris video game is g-loaded. Tetris isn't all that hard and most people can become fairly good at it. The main difference between high and low g people is that high g people pick up proficiency much faster. The point is, as long as you're dealing with tasks that aren't highly complex (like basic educational proficiency standards), you can often teach people of fairly low g to become fairly proficient in them with lots of repetition,* but in the real world, if one aspires to a respected white collar job like a lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant, higher educator, etc. (and some skilled trades), one has to be able to pick up on and solve a wide array of novel problems that one is confronted with and no type of education can be comprehensive enough to teach one to deal with all of them in advance. You may be able to teach people techniques and give them practice in solving various types of IQ problems and their scores will probably rise significantly, but there is a lot of evidence that these skills are not very transferable to other types of problems (i.e., your premise that we can effectively teach low g people to solve novel problems is false; we can teach them how to solve specific types of problems, but this doesn't carry over into other domains).

The sad situation (for blacks, whites, and America in general) is that black-white differences in mental performance are mainly differences in g (note that this isn't the case for all inter-ethnic differences in aptitude tests) and for every one of the numerous biological correlates of g for which there are data to compare whites and blacks, the differences are invariably in the direction indicating blacks should be less well endowed with g. (see, e.g., Jensen 1998, Rushton and Jensen 2005).

* The point about repetition is very important - the bottom half of our nations g distribution (regardless of race) would be a lot better served by the education system if more emphasis was placed of constant drilling and repitition of the 3 Rs and basic life skills.

Mario said...

Duscany said...I've often thought that my 21 year old (white) son had a very style very similar to that of blacks. He has traditionally had considerable difficulty learning from the printed page but he is incredibly verbal, attuned to nuance and tone, and extremely good and wildly articulate in oral arguments.Blacks (as a group) are wildly articulate in oral arguments??? That claim is mendacious. Blacks are rewarded for their talents in this society and that is why they are paid mountains of money for their athletic and musical prowess. If they were "wildly articulate in oral arguments" then they would dominate the oral argument fields of endeavor (or at least hold atheir own), but they do not hold their own in those fields.

I have also often thought that this gap between oral and written ability is one reason blacks are so pissed at IQ, work and placement tests. It seems so totally wrong and unfair to them that some wimpy white guy who couldn't hold a candle to them in any personal setting nevertheless consistently outscores them on any written test. That's why black advocates complain so loudly that the tests must be biased. Their own perception is they are far superior in presence and charisma to the whites with whom they are competing. Yet the whites score higher and get the job.Blacks do not excel at logical and reasoned debate. The media talk shows on this planet make a special effort to include any blacks who can hold their own in open debate, and very few perform well.

Steve has a Black Verbal Prowess Theory based on trash talking (not one of his best offerings), but trash talking is not logical and reasoned debate. And, no, rap is not debate either.

I once heard an instructor at Cal State Long Beach make a similar complaint. He had a big class with a couple of articulate blacks who dominated class discussion and he was so pleased with them. But then they took the mid-term and their performance was dismal. He wondered how he could have been so wrong about their academic abilities. He finally concluded he had been totally seduced by their presence and self-confidence, while ignoring the quality of their arguments.Maybe this instructor's head was just so full of PC koolade that he wasn't really listening to their arguments at all. It's called Magic Negro Syndrome and it afflicts SWPL's like the plague. This entire mythology springs from a white intellectual hive that has little or no actual contact with blacks. But in the movies and television that whites watch every day and night, blacks are portrayed as veritable mean street poets and masters of verbal communications. Meanwhile, out on the streets of the real world, blacks are largely ignored or disrespected, and people with any street smarts do not listen to them, let alone stand in awe of their "wildly articulate oral arguments".

It is telling that societies around the world with no significant population of SWPLs do not engage in this nonsense. They do not put blacks on a pedestal. SWPLs are working out some very deep psychological trauma that is a result of the Stockholm Syndrome programming of mainstream education and media in the white Western nations.

Anonymous said...

"but you can circle the globe and not find a black who thinks they are, on average, less intelligent"

Average blacks on the street are well aware of this fact and talk about it openly.

Truth said...

"f you are black and you grew up summering in one of the small upper class black communities on Martha's Vineyard, then, yes, you'll do pretty well on average. You might do better on average than whites who never heard the word "summer" used as a verb."

This in and of itself throws a monkey-wrench into the whole IQ is innate theory, doesn't it?

"ts ridiculous. We can admit that blacks can run faster and jump higher on average than Asians, but we cannot admit that Asians just might, maybe, possibly, perhaps, could, have a CHANCE at being better at mathematical ability than blacks."

I agree, this double standard is ridiculous and harmful to all.

"We have to make CERTAIN to prove our society isn't "racist", that x-amount of blacks get hired at the RAND corporation, NASA, and the Defense Department in mathematical-related jobs relative to asians, but we dont have to make sure that asians get hired in jazz quartets, football teams, basketball teams,"

That's a chimera, because Asians don't complain about their exclusion from jazz quartets etc. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

"perhaps forcing them to do some things that they are not gifted at naturally."

No one is forced to give up anything; if you pass the medical bar, you will get a job as a doctor somewhere.

"But if he was looking for evidence, surely he could find some. What about those rural, dialect- or Celtic-speaking communities in the British Isles?"

There was one IQ test on which the Irish scored a 78.

Svigor said...

This is the impression I have. A lot of guys here pour out their sexual frustration. I imagine they are losers and combined with the giddy way they bring up demerits of blacks and others, they probably are using hbd as a self esteem boost.

An unfortunate projection - you can see no other motive than the one that would make sense for you...

Anonymous said...

* The point about repetition is very important - the bottom half of our nations g distribution (regardless of race) would be a lot better served by the education system if more emphasis was placed of constant drilling and repitition of the 3 Rs and basic life skills.
One can view the current sad situation in public education as a deliberate attempt by certain cognitive elites to ensure their offspring have no competition, going forward.

Svigor said...

Average blacks on the street are well aware of this fact and talk about it openly.

I grew up in a largely black neighborhood. My father was something of a race-realist (just hated PC BS, really), so every once in a while I'd gingerly broach the subject, or at least steer a conversation that way with my black friends. In my experience, blacks don't talk about it openly with whites. But, I did get the impression that they know, and don't want to talk to us about it. Maybe they do talk about it with one another often, but I doubt it's in any kind of direct, honest way (way too high an Uncle Tom factor there).

Blacks probably don't dwell on it, but are smart enough to recognize the teevee land fantasy for what it is, what with reality staring them in the face. Which suggests whites who encounter blacks in any numbers are overwhelmingly aware of reality (what with having far less personal reasons for denying it).

Svigor said...

but you can circle the globe and not find a black who thinks they are, on average, less intelligent

So, in other words, I think we can reconcile the two statements thusly:

"You can circle the globe and not find a prominent black willing to go on record as thinking blacks are less intelligent than whites."

High aggression and low IQ aren't a recipe for honesty.

Anonymous said...

"This in and of itself throws a monkey-wrench into the whole IQ is innate theory, doesn't it?"

What really throws a monkey wrench in is that no one has ever said that IQ is completely innate. But you already knew that.

"There was one IQ test on which the Irish scored a 78."

What a great citation! You're probably referring to the Goddard paper from 1917, and you probably heard of it through Gould. Gould's version of what that paper says has nothing to do with reality.

Truth said...

No, it was the "culture fair" IQ test in 1981.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lynn

"Other studies have found that blacks in Africa with a good education score better on IQ and other standardized tests than do whites. Crawford-Nutt (1976) found that African black students enrolled in westernized schools scored higher on progressive matrix tests than did American white students. The study was meant to examine perceptual/cultural differences between groups, and demonstrated that one’s performance on western standardized tests correspond more closely with the quality and style of schooling that one receives more so than other factors.[37] Buj (1981) showed Ghanaian adults to score higher on a ‘culture fair’ IQ test than did Irish adults; scores were 80 (Ghanaian) and 78 (Irish), respectively

Anonymous said...

Troof said:

"Buj (1981) showed Ghanaian adults to score higher on a ‘culture fair’ IQ test than did Irish adults; scores were 80 (Ghanaian) and 78 (Irish), respectively"

Uh, Troof, Buj's 1981 study used the Cattel Culture Fair Test and found an average IQ of 80 for the Ghanaian sample (from Accra) and 97 for the Irish sample (from Dublin). In all nations, the sample was drawn from adults from the national capital city, so they many not be representative of the nations as a whole. Other nations average IQs tested in the Buj study are:

Austria (Vienna) - 101, Belgium (Brussels) - 99, Britain (London) - 100, Bulgaria (Sophia) - 94, Czech Rep. (Prague, then Czechoslovakia) - 98, Denmark (Copenhagen) - 99, Finland (Helsinki)- 99, France (Paris) - 94, Germany (Bonn) - 107, Greece (Athens) - 95, Hungary (Budapest) - 98, Italy (Rome) - 102, Netherlands (Amsterdam) 107, Norway (Oslo) - 100, Poland (Warsaw) - 106, Portugal (Lisbon) - 101, Spain (Madrid) - 98, Sweden (Stockholm) - 104, Switzerland (Bern) - 101

Anonymous said...

Every criticism of affirmative action should cite the Malone case.

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/09/us/boston-case-raises-questions-on-misuse-of-affirmative-action.html?pagewanted=all

Philip and Paul Malone are fair-haired, fair-complexioned identical twins who worked for the Boston Fire Department for 10 years. Last month both were dismissed when a state agency ruled that they had lied on their job applications: They had contended they were black. The finding has sent shock waves through the city government, touching off charges that employees of other agencies may have misused plans designed to remedy past discrimination against black and Hispanic workers.

Last week the Administration of Mayor Raymond L. Flynn began to investigate the race and ethnic background of the hundreds of workers hired as members of minority groups over the past decade by the Fire, Police and School Departments.

City Councillor Bruce C. Bolling, who called for city and state investigations, said in an interview last week: ''These instances show a glaring lack of verification of claims of minority status by the state, which monitors Civil Service exams and hiring. They call into question the integrity of the city's affirmative action. And clearly, there was culpability in the Fire Department.

''How,'' he asked, ''could twins with Irish names, Caucasian features and no black identification from any perspective get into the force and stay on without collusion?

dc watcher said...

"Uh, Troof, Buj's 1981 study used the Cattel Culture Fair Test and found an average IQ of 80 for the Ghanaian sample (from Accra) and 97 for the Irish sample (from Dublin)."

IQ rejectionists--I think "Truth" is one from quick glances--have fun at Irish expense quite often. The British are fond of Irish jokes too.
The Irish IQ may be a cue for dysgenic fertility and excessive immigration of the smartest because I don't think persons of Irish descent are known for low IQs here (they just act like it sometimes), but the rural and religious nature of the place, till recently, counts for something. You find similar IQs in other still predominantly rural areas of Europe, such as the Balkans; probably Portugal as well. Urban life alone seems to raise the average IQ by 5-10 points. I don't think it's just a case of smarter people going to the cities, because as the entire country loses most of the rural base, the IQ stablizes toward what the urban IQ is.
In the early days of IQ testing it was noted that 1st gen immigrant Scandinavians, almost all from rural backgrounds, scored about 88-90. Their immediate descendants were much higher and within in the normal range.
I suspect that Africans who attend school and negotiate urban life, are somewhat higher than the 65-69 averages that seem so appallingly low, just not that much higher for the purpose of first world requirements--70s and low 80s tops. Black university students in South Africa tested in the upper 80s to low 90s, putting them one standard deviation above their norm, just as college students in this country (at least those who are admitted by merit) average 115 one standard deviation above the American average. It is quite possible that the generally higher IQs of American blacks, compared to Africans, are more due to environment than white genes, because most blacks here don't really look like they have much European ancestry. According to census taking in the last 19thy centry, early 20th, 90% of the blacks in the southern states were unmixed blacks. I guess since then they may have mixed more among themselves--mulattos were a separate class then.
Michelle Obama is typical as far as black American phenotype, and she does not give evidence of much admixture.
I know people don't always display all their ancestry in their looks, but what is predominant usually is what shows. Hence we know what our "extended families/race" is.
While I accept genes are of utmost importance, pervasive environmental influences do contribute enormously as well know. I just don't think people realize fully the country mouse/city mouse dichotomy.