I.Q. and Race

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Throughout history, there has been no shortage of scientists claiming the mental superiority of one racial group over another,* specifically whites over blacks. One recent example: in October, Nobel Laureate James Watson* said that Africa's prospects are bleak, citing intellectual inferiority. Journalist William Saletan backed him up in an article on Slate. Outrage ensued. Today, we talk with writer Malcolm Gladwell, who takes a different approach. He'll talk to us about James Flynn and the Flynn Effect, which says that differences in I.Q. are a reflection of the quality of the world — or culture — a person lives in.

* Or one gender over another, for that matter.
** Sound familiar? That's because he co-discovered the DNA double helix.

Comments

 

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I listened to this while in the shower so I may have missed out on a few words but what caught my ear was when it was said that IQ scores are getting higher as time passes. Because of how IQ tests are made I'm not sure if that is actually possible if the tests are up to dated. When these tests are made they are given to thousands of people of all ages and the average test score is defined for each age. You 'IQ' is the age you scored over your current physical age. Was that ever defined in today's talk?

Sent by Donald | 3:56 PM | 12-19-2007

O.K., I'll try to remain calm about this! (BTW, thanks for the timely post)
The only things one inherits from one's parents are things like:
1) Physical appearance (ex. hair color)
2) Predispostions to behaviors (left handed or not)
3) Gender (we ALL have at least 1 "X" chomosome)
So much for "nature"!

Now for "nurture". You learn a lot from your parents. They are the first teachers you have, and they are around you more time than anyone else (supposedly). Not always the absolute best quality teachers, but GOOD parents always tried their best absolutely.

You also have "environment". (Do you need to run-down your dinner, or run down to the diner?) The lessons your parents tried to teach are from THEIR environment. Hopefully, you learn from their lessons, learn your OWN also, and succeed in life!

Now, let us add culture. (The biggest? teacher.) Some cultures are more preoccupied with the business of living to really care about the likes of James Watson, or that he "discovered" DNA.(with help!)

Because we (all humans) have different genes, raised by different cultures/parents in unique (changing) environments, we can expect .........
Nothing to be simple!
Take (for example) "My Fair Lady". Two "learned men", one slang-talking young woman. Humans CAN learn to change their behaviors, speech, whatever ....

Will Africa ever be a world powerhouse of computer science? Maybe.
Did colonial Europe help promote literacy in Africa during the ANY of the Industrial Revolution? No!

The stituations of Africa, Middle East, Asia are the result of CENTURIES of learned responses to (neglectful) decisions the world over. It is NOT the fault of African geneology!

Sent by Harold | 3:21 PM | 12-20-2007

Short version:
The only things one inherits from one's parents are cosmetic. Thats "nature".

Now for "nurture". You learn a lot from your parents.

You also have "environment". (Do you need to run-down your dinner, or run down to the diner?)

Now, let us add culture. (

Some cultures are more preoccupied with the "business of living", to really care about the likes of James Watson, or that he "discovered" DNA (with help!).

Will Africa ever be a world powerhouse of computer science? Maybe.
Did colonial Europe help promote literacy in Africa during the ENTIRE Industrial Revolution? No!

Sent by Harold | 3:29 PM | 12-20-2007

It is deeply disturbing to learn that apparently well-educated and well-meaning people can still carry on debates about "IQ and race," either in ignorance of, or defiance of, generations of important research that totally rejects such a connection. By the early 1930s it had been established that the IQ tests--all IQ tests--are unable to evaluate innate differences in intelligence between groups because they measure what individuals have learned--hence are based on culture, education, social status, and class. (The tests that Murray and others cite are not at all "culture-free" or able to measure anything but learning.)

Secondly, human biologists and physical anthropologists have long contended that it is not valid nor useful to classify human populations into distinct "races;" recent work on genomics has not changed that fundamental finding. IQ tests that cannot measure innate intelligence can hardly be expected to produce valid predictions about populations that don't exist!

Herb

Sent by Herbert lewis | 7:06 PM | 12-20-2007

There must be more to I.Q. than No.1 commenter (Donald).
Think this one through ... At the lower ages it's comparatively easy to say this 10 yr old has a mental age of 15 therefore he/she/it has an I.Q. of 150 etc.
BUT what about 40,50,60, what's the mental age of a 75 yr old? Compared to a 90 yr old? How, pray does one wrap ones head/calculations around that one Donald?

Sent by Brainnake | 11:12 AM | 8-9-2008