A Philosopher's Blog

Race, Gender & IQ Tests

Posted in Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on April 30, 2009

A standard component of both racism and sexism is that the other sex and other races are inferior in IQ (whatever that means) to one’s own race and gender. Througout history, various scientific and pseudoscientific theories have been advanced in order to defend such alleged differences. Because of this, the study of IQ in the context of race and gender has often been subject to harsh criticism. After all, it might be suspected that anyone intested in such matters intends to employ their results in the service of racism or sexism.

While this concern does have some merit, it would be unfortunate and unscientific to simply close off these branches of research because they might be considered racist or sexist.

Interestingly, such research might actually help to undercut racism and sexism. For example, the usual line is that a gender or race is somehow inherently (often genetically) inferior to another and hence this explains the disparity in IQ testing. If this were true, then the scores on IQ tests should remain more or less constant-unless, of course, the gender or race in question happened to be genetically altered.

Recent research in IQ tests has shown that the test results have changed over the years. For example, the gap between whites and blacks on IQ tests has narrow by 25% over thirty years. Obviously, if IQ disparity was based on race, then this sort of change should not occur. If IQ disparity is based on other factors (like access to education), then such a change is easy to explain.

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14 Responses

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  1. Acosta said, on May 1, 2009 at 4:36 am

    There was an NPR segment about how black students psych themselves out before taking standardized tests. The segment also touched on the fact that minority students’ level of expectations is lower.

    I think over all there is a difference in culture rather than mental capacity….

  2. kernunos said, on May 1, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I agree Acosta, I think it is mostly cultural.

  3. iqtestexperts said, on June 8, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Your blog makes interesting read..The best way I could acknowledge is putting your link on my webpage. Interestingly I write in the same domain. Check my blog on http://iqtestexperts.wordpress.com/

  4. magus71 said, on June 8, 2009 at 7:06 am

    To think that every race is exactly equal in every respect is foolish. Guess I’m a racist.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm

      I tend to think that race is a social construct. While there are vague cultural groups and people who share similar traits, race does not seem to be well founded from a scientific standpoint-except to say that there is a human race. To think that people are equal in every respect would be foolish-that would seem to require identity between particulars. As my dissertation on trope theory shows, that is just mistaken.

      • magus71 said, on June 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

        Well a beagle is a dog and so is a husky. Very different attributes though.

  5. kernunos said, on June 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

    What are you talking about Doug? Are you foolish? Everyone knows that Eskimos and Ethiopians have the same average body fat percentage. Where do you come up with these crazy ideas.

  6. kernunos said, on June 8, 2009 at 11:01 am

    On a more serious note. It seems we are all equal except for what women and non-white races are better at. Sorry Doug for one-upping you and adding in chauvinism.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 8, 2009 at 1:43 pm

      That is a bothersome aspect of racism and sexism that tends to be tolerated in certain circles. For example, women only gyms are allowed and even praised-though they clearly violate the principle that people should not be excluded on the basis of gender. As another example, as I wrote in my book, when men were the majority in colleges, feminists said this was sexism. Now that women outnumber men, these feminists are silent about the gender inequality. To be cynical, I sometimes suspect that people are often looking to further their own ends under the guise of justice. This can be shown by how they behave when someone else is subject to that same injustice. In my case, I was concerned about the lower % of women in education and now I am concerned about the lower % of men. So, I suppose that I am concerned with justice and fairness. Or perhaps I just want to praise myself and feel good. :)

  7. kernunos said, on June 8, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Yeah, Beagles are natural born killers.

  8. kernunos said, on June 9, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Looks like a Samoyed or part Samoyed though it is small for one.


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