Upward Mobility and Discrimination: Asians and African Americans

Asians in America faced heavy discrimination and animus in the early twentieth century. Yet, after institutional restrictions were lifted in the late 1940s, Asian incomes quickly converged to white incomes. Why? In the politically incorrect paper of the year (ungated) Nathaniel Hilger argues that convergence was due to market forces subverting discrimination. First, a reminder about the history and strength of discrimination against Asians:

Foreign-born Asians were barred from naturalization by the Naturalization Act of 1790. This Act excluded Asians from citizenship and voting except by birth, and created the important new legal category of “aliens ineligible for citizenship”…Asians experienced mob violence including lynchings and over 200 “roundups” from 1849-1906 (Pfaelzer, 2008), and hostility from anti-Asian clubs much like the Ku Klux Klan (e.g., the Asiatic Exclusion League, Chinese Exclusion League, Workingmen’s Party of CA), to an extent that does not appear to have any counterpart for blacks in CA history. Both Asians and blacks in CA could not testify against a white witness in court from 1853-73 (People v. Hall, 1853, see McClain, 1984), limiting Asians’ legal defense against white aggression. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” in 1907 barred further immigration of all “laborers” from China and Japan.

…Asians have also faced intense economic discrimination. Many cities and states levied discriminatory taxes and fees on Asians (1852 Foreign Miner’s Tax, 1852 Commutation Tax, 1860 Fishing License, 1862 Police Tax, 1870 “queue” ordinance, 1870 sidewalk ordinance, and many others). Many professional schools and associations in CA excluded Asians (e.g., State Bar of CA), as did most labor unions (e.g., Knights of Labor, American Federation of Labor), and many employers declined to hire Asians well into the 20th century (e.g., Mears, 1928, p. 194-204). From 1913-23, virtually all western states passed increasingly strict Alien Land Acts that prohibited foreign-born Asians from owning land or leasing land for extended periods. Asians also faced laws against marriage to whites (1905 amendment to Section 60 of the CA Civil Code) and U.S. citizens (Expatriation Act 1907, Cable Act 1922). From 1942-46, the US forcibly relocated over 100,000 mainland Japanese Americans (unlike other Axis nationalities, e.g. German or Italian Americans) to military detention camps, in practice destroying a large share of Japanese American wealth. In contrast, blacks in CA were eligible for citizenship and suffrage, were officially (though often not de facto) included in CA professional associations and labor unions that excluded Asians, were not covered by the Alien Land Acts, and were not confined or expropriated during WWII.

Despite this intense discrimination, Asian (primarily Japanese and Chinese) incomes converged to white incomes as early as 1960 and certainly by 1980. One argument is that Asians invested so heavily in education that convergence has been overstated but Hilger shows that convergence occurred conditional on education. Similarly, convergence was not a matter of immigration or changing demographics. Instead, Hilger argues that once institutional discrimination was eased in the 1940s, market forces enforced convergence. As I wrote earlier, profit maximization subverts discrimination by employers:

If the wages of X-type workers are 25% lower than those of Y-type workers, for example, then a greedy capitalist can increase profits by hiring more X workers. If Y workers cost $15 per hour and X workers cost $11.25 per hour then a firm with 100 workers could make an extra $750,000 a year. In fact, a greedy capitalist could earn more than this by pricing just below the discriminating firms, taking over the market, and driving the discriminating firms under.

If that theory is true, however, then why haven’t black incomes converged? And here is where the paper gets into the politically incorrect:

Modern empirical work has indicated that cognitive test scores—interpreted as measures of productivity not captured by educational attainment—can account for a large share of black-white wage and earnings gaps (Neal and Johnson, 1996; Johnson and Neal, 1998; Fryer, 2010; Carruthers and Wanamaker, 2016). This literature documents large black-white test score gaps that emerge early in childhood (Fryer and Levitt, 2013), persist into adulthood, and appear to reflect genuine skills related to labor market productivity rather than racial bias in the testing instrument (Neal and Johnson, 1996). While these modern score gaps test-scoreshave not been fully accounted for by measured background characteristics (Neal, 2006; Fryer and Levitt, 2006; Fryer, 2010), they likely relate to suppressed black skill acquisition during slavery and subsequent educational discrimination against blacks spanning multiple generations (Margo, 2016).

…A basic requirement of this hypothesis is that Asians in 1940 possessed greater skills than blacks, conditional on education. In fact, previous research on Japanese Americans in CA support this theory. Evidence from a variety of cognitive tests given to students in CA in the early 20th century suggest test score parity of Japanese Americans with local whites after accounting for linguistic and cultural discrepancies, and superiority of Japanese Americans in academic performance in grades 7-12 (Ichihashi, 1932; Bell, 1935).

Hilger supplements these earlier findings with a small dataset from the Army General Classification Test:

…these groups’ cognitive test performance can be studied using AGCT scores in WWII enlistment records from 1943. Remarkably, these data are large enough to compare Chinese, blacks and whites living in CA for these earlier cohorts. In addition, this sample contains enough young men past their early 20s to compare test scores conditional on final educational attainment, which can help to shed light on mechanisms underlying the conditional earnings gap documented above.

Figure XII plots the distribution of normalized test score residuals by race from an OLS regression of test z-scores on dummies for education and age. Chinese Americans and whites have strikingly similar conditional skill distributions, while the black skill distribution lags behind by nearly a full standard deviation. Table VIII shows that this pattern holds separately within broad educational categories. These high test scores of Chinese Americans provide strong evidence that the AGCT was not hopelessly biased against non-whites, as Neal and Johnson (1996) also find for the AFQT (the successor to the AGCT) in more recent cohorts.

From Hilger’s conclusion:

Using a large and broadly representative sample of WWII enlistee test scores from 1943 both on their own and matched to the 1940 census, I document the striking fact that these test scores can account for a large share of the black, but not Asian, conditional earnings gap in 1940. This result suggests that Asians earnings gaps in 1940 stemmed primarily from taste-based or some other non-statistical discrimination, in sharp contrast with the black earnings gap which largely reflected statistical discrimination based on skill gaps inherited from centuries of slavery and educational exclusion. The rapid divergence of conditional earnings between CA-born Asians and blacks after 1940—once CA abandoned its most severe discriminatory laws and practices—provides the first direct empirical evidence in support of the hypothesis of Arrow (1972) and others that competitive labor markets tend to eliminate earnings gaps based purely on taste-based but not statistical discrimination.

Hilger’s other research is here.


Right so anyone reading Sailer or any other number of dozens of blogs would have known this a decade ago. But only when phrased in unnecessary, and artificially precise, academic lingo will people maybe start to take it seriously? And even then, only when the author qualifies everything as stemming from education deficits due to slavery, while ignoring the researching showing this is genetic?

Cool story bro.

beat me by 5 minutes, well played

I think the "Cool Story Bro" meme is misplaced here, Google it. But you are right in that it seems the "un-PC" part of this story by AlexT is that it boils down, reading between the lines, that "Asians are smarter than Blacks". No doubt caused by the centuries of slavery and bad childhood nutrition. But American blacks do have one big advantage: the ones that had ancestors that survived the slave ships are very hearty. They seem to absorb more nutrition from food than non-Blacks. It's amazing how strong they grow. Of course it's 'racist' to say this in public but it's pretty obvious. Strong body strong mind? If they give up junk food I can see them catching up and surpassing the non-blacks in the USA.

I am glad to see that your racism has such strong empirical support....

Anyway, if this is true, then you should expect that those Jews who survived years in a concentration camp should have "stronger" descendants than those Jews that escaped in time. Moreover, you'd expect that those Jews who entered the concentration camps earlier and survived should have "stronger" descendants than those Jews who entered the concentration camps later and survived.

I doubt this though. Evolutionairy selection does not operate on such short time scales, and there seems to be way too much noise. It's one of those psuedo-scientific theories that sound neat, but that are utterly wrong.

Evolutionary selection could happen in a short time span, suppose you killed every individual of a certain species of dog? That species would be gone. Suppose one family with certain traits averages 8 children before the age of 30 vs another family with certain traits that only averages 1 child by the age of 40, after 100 years the second line would seem to be wiped out.

To understand what the concentration camps would've done, you'd have to look at the total population vs how many died. It wouldn't necessarily select for strength either. I don't know if there was a particular method that would keep you alive in a concentration camp, but just being in a concentration camp would hurt your fertility I'm sure. The ones who did best, evolutionarily speaking, were the ones that had the ways and means to GTFO Germany and the surrounding area before there was a chance of being put in a concentration camp.

The analogy with dogs does not work because different breeds of dog are not different species. That is why a male chihuaha could impregnate a female Dane and create a Great Chihuahane.

Evolution can happen in a short time span, but short relative to the lifespan of the species involved. Flies can evolve over months because the lifespan of a fly is so short. Even among longer-lived creatures, evolution can happen over, say, a century: http://www.newser.com/story/234596/elephants-increasingly-born-tuskless-due-to-poaching.html

But note the founder effect is in play here: one third of the 11 surviving elephants - one half of the 8 females - in Addo park had no tusks.

By contrast, ~ 450,000 Africans landed as slaves on American (US) soil. The 37 million American who identify as black come from this small group, but we simply cannot account for the number of mixed-race children born, by consent or not, over the past 4 centuries.

TL;DR dog is one species with many breeds, and tracking evolution in the short term for longer-lived species is difficult.

There's only one species of dog, canis familiaris. A Great Dane is a member of the same species as a Chihuahua.

Plus there's the fact that it probably wasn't the smarter ones who got captured and sold as slaves in the first place.

Strangely blacks that immigrated from the Carribean or Africa after the end of slavery seem to do better in America.

@Hazel Meade
Aren't the blacks who immigrate from the Caribbean also descended from those who got captured & sold?

Yeah, I'm not sure what the statistical variations there are with direct African vs. Carribean vs. American.
I have heard that Jamaicans do rather well, but maybe that's because the English accent makes Americans think they are smarter so they don't get as much discrimination.
Also slavery ended in the Carribean much earlier and the islands have been independent and self-governing for a long time too, which might change the culture substantially.


ya shouldn't have said species, breed, still breeds (much like races) are clearly distinct variations so the point stands. Are we going to argue that dog breeds (human races) aren't the result of genetic selection?

"But note the founder effect is in play here: one third of the 11 surviving elephants – one half of the 8 females – in Addo park had no tusks.

By contrast, ~ 450,000 Africans landed as slaves on American (US) soil. The 37 million American who identify as black come from this small group, but we simply cannot account for the number of mixed-race children born, by consent or not, over the past 4 centuries."

What's your point? Obviously Toby's assertion that "Evolutionairy selection does not operate on such short time scales" is incorrect. If the pressure was strong enough (like your elephant example) it can happen in a few generations. And it doesn't have to be population wide it could happen within sub populations. So a strong selection pressure, like the Holocaust with Jews, or like slavery with African Americans, could have caused changes to those subgroups.

How did people end up as slaves? Were they criminals, were they raided by stronger tribes, were they losers of a war? There are many subethnicities (subraces? tribes?) in Africa that didn't interbreed, did the slaves come from particular ones? These are all very plausible selection pressures, to dismiss it out of hand is stupid.

The analogy with dogs does not work because different breeds of dog are not different species.

Oh, you could effectively create two species of dogs instantly by killing off all the dogs that are not very large or very small. Make them reproductively incompatible and they will not be able to interbreed ever. Different species.

You can't alter the characteristics of dog populations via selective breeding you nutter.

Ray's an idiot, of course, but "Evolutionairy selection does not operate on such short time scales" is nonsense. Given a strong enough selection pressure, it only takes one generation to cause significant change.

U shud lern to reed Careless, your moniker is befitting. I never said anything about short time scales and evolution.

Yes, you idiot, I was quoting someone else and saying that you weren't wrong. Congratulations.

I know a Jew who thinks the reason Jews are so smart is they survived two Holocausts. He lives in California and there's no way anyone could get him to move to Israel. He's expecting a third Holocaust. If you think Jews are smart now, you just wait.

The slavery example doesn't explain why East Asian incomes converged with the West, but African incomes did not.

Unless slavery was the sorting mechanism. You don't sell you best and brightest, you'd keep those for yourself. Or, why would the most fit lose the war that would have enslaved them in the first place?

There are two sides of the question. 1) Why one group converged. 2) Why the other group did not converge.

Since there are 2 parts to that question, the fact of answering one but not the other does not render something irrelevant to the pair.

You should look up "confirmation bias".

"The researching (sic) showing it is genetic." Sounds more like lack of scientific evidence or perhaps hype by a group of people that besides being racist do not know enough about statistical inference.

Why even bother to say what it "sounds like"? Either you are familiar with the literature, or you are not.

Decades of twin and adoption studies conclusively prove that nearly all heritability is genetically mediated. In long-run adulthood people have at least ten times the correlation to the people who conceived them as the people who raised them.

The science is settled. Yes, the conclusions are politically unpalatable. But the scientific evidence exists regardless of how it makes us feel. Tabula rosa biology and pretending that there's no genetic basis for IQ is the climate denial of the left.

"nearly all heritability is genetically mediated"

In other news, if I define away all irrelevant things, all things which remain are relevant.

The fact that genes explain the difference in IQ scores between a rock (has no genes, and an average IQ scoring of 0) and a human (has genes, and an average IQ scoring of 100) does not therefore imply that genetic factors explain observed differences between groups with respect to their scores on some standardized test.

" In long-run adulthood people have at least ten times the correlation to the people who conceived them as the people who raised them."

Don't forget that you started off by excluding all information which would show otherwise.

I don't understand what you're trying to say. What information did I exclude. All I cited were simple facts about adult IQ. Identical twins have nearly twice the correlation as fraternal twins. Adopted siblings have 80% lower correlation than biological siblings. Twins raised apart have at least 90% of the correlation of twins raised together. These facts are as scientifically indisputable as saying the global temperatures are rising.

Absent an insanely convuluted model, there's no way to dispute the genetic heritability of IQ in light of these facts.

"' In long-run adulthood people have at least ten times the correlation to the people who conceived them as the people who raised them.'

Don’t forget that you started off by excluding all information which would show otherwise."


You started by talking about heritability.

Heritability explicitly means talking about the things which are genetic.

So if you're talking about heritable things, assuming that you're not doing fraudulent science and calling things "heritable", then we've already excluded all the non-genetic factors.

Having excluded non-genetic factors, we are left with genetic ones. Which makes it rather unsurprising to observe that the remaining factors are genetic, having already, by definition, excluded the non-genetic ones.

If you link to some specific studies, I can explain more explicitly in relation to what you're saying.

Turkheimer, E., Haley, A., Waldron, M., D'Onofrio, B., & Gottesman, I. I. (2003). Socioeconomic status modifies heritability of IQ in young children. Psychological Science, 14(6), 623-628.

"Scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children were analyzed in a sample of 7-year-old twins from the National Collaborative Perinatal Project. A substantial proportion of the twins were raised in families living near or below the poverty level. Biometric analyses were conducted using models allowing for components attrib- utable to the additive effects of genotype, shared environment, and non- shared environment to interact with socioeconomic status (SES) measured as a continuous variable. Results demonstrate that the proportions of IQ variance attributable to genes and environment vary nonlinearly with SES. The models suggest that in impoverished families, 60% of the variance in IQ is accounted for by the shared environment, and the contri- bution of genes is close to zero; in affluent families, the result is almost exactly the reverse."

Is the "genetic effect" actually just an unexplained residual after counting for one or two other factors? I can only see the same abstract that you pasted.

I have no patience for positive (as opposed to normative) political correctness and do not rule out a priori the possibility that the racial cognitive gap might have a genetic component, but I think the evidence on this point is mixed.

The trouble is that race servility lacks a genetic component. To the extent there are correlations they lack a plausible causal pathway and are almost certainly specious.

What is "race servility"?

This paper shows more rigorous consideration than displayed by MR commentor scholars. If anything, Cowen's special note, "politically incorrect paper of the year", shows the counter-productive nature of PC culture. It chases away most upper flight talent because of higher opportunity costs, so that existing scholars tend to be lower quality.

This post is by Alex Tabarrok. Tyler wouldn't post anything with such illiberal implications.

Very true. Tyler would say he doesn't know why black incomes have failed to converge, or what political correctness is, or where Brown University is.

Considering that most politically incorrect papers (as defined by a moderate) can be ripped to shreds using first year stats or some observations about a top-10-most-memorable historical event in recent centuries, I somewhat doubt that it "chases away most upper flight talent".

Personally, I would not consider this paper as politically incorrect. There is a factual observation which is not accompanied by completely unsubstantiated theorizing about genetic qualities of different groups, but instead looks to contextual factors which explain the observed outcomes.

Rip it to shreds then, moron. Everyone reading you knows that you are defending an article of faith.

I'm very persuaded by your high quality of argumentation and volumes of evidence presented to support your case.

This largely due to my lack of underlying confidence (which I make up for with ignorant bluster and general asshole-ishness), which means that insults like that are effective in convincing me that you're right.

Why wouldn't slavery, segregation, miscegenation and other policies affect how families and parents match with each other in marriage markets and thus affect how inheritable traits get passed on?

Do you think uppity cunning and intelligent slaves were rewarded on average for those traits historically?

Ah, so all blacks are gentle giants who work all day and never complain?

Fair enough, but arguing that skills gaps - adoptable or inheritable - cannot be explained from ~500 years of horrible external pressures (and considering who got caught or given up by slaving kingdoms, even longer) is probably more convenient.

Yes it is just remarkable how easily Americans slip into the assumption that their history couldn't possibly have any long term effects on skills distributions.

I often think these sort of assertions must look very strange to outsiders without our ideological priors.

Well there would have to be some mechanism. You can't just waive your hands and say "slavery was bad so that probably explains why blacks have so much trouble in America" (trouble being a higher GDP/capita than most European countries).

There is also a plausible and well supported alternative/complementary explanation so that also makes the hand-waving somewhat less appealing

The mechanisms were both numerousand noted at the time they were being enacted. The isolation of american blacks from equal education was explicitly because "learning ruined a good field hand"

~500 years of horrible external pressures

The majority of slaves imported into this country were so between 1780 and 1808. The slaves were manumitted in 1865.

@Art Deco, there was a lot more going after 1865 than your comment acknowledges. Many Uppity blacks were killed during the final third of the 19th Century. In addition to the aggressive exploitation that followed. Things like enticement & contract-enforcement laws, v agrancy laws, emigrants agents laws, & the convict lease system. See Exploitation in the Jim Crow South: The Market or the Law?

I hope you know that's not what I am talking about. You have to have a mechanism by which those laws affected the lot of present-day African Americans

As if the strong link between parental and child opportunity isn't a mechanism?

@Cliff it could play into Chris Rock's old joke about smart slaves being killed & stronger slaves rewarded with women

"Many Uppity blacks were killed during the final third of the 19th Century".

Not enough to materially alter the gene pool in the long run. There were millions of blacks and hundreds of lynchings (and biased more toward the rapey than the uppity.)

No need to alter the gene pool if you can alter the wealth distribution by more direct means. That's what we did.

"Strong" link is an empirical claim that needs to be proven.

If all explanations are redefined as "hand waving", then it would appear that a lot of hand waving is going on.

I think intergenerational transmission of a) cultural and/or empirical knowledge and b) views about education, are worth waving our hands about.

One simple proxy comes in the form of questions like "how many books does the child have access to in the home" or these days "is there a computer in the house, and if so is it ever used to find actual information".

This sort of thing might be relevant because it's easier to read when you have books at home than when you do not have books. And popular theory has it reading and writing are useful for something.

Maybe people aren't waving their hands in quite the right way when they raise such points?

@Josh perhaps fair, although the number of lynchings reached into the thousands http://law2.umkc.edu/Faculty/projects/ftrials/shipp/lynchingyear.html
Don't know if there were other ways used that would have prevented uppity blacks from passing on their genes

" intergenerational transmission of a) cultural and/or empirical knowledge and b) views about education, are worth waving our hands about"

I would say they are worth studying. I don't doubt that it exists but I don't see much evidence for it in the literature.

Saying "many black people were slaves in America 150+ years ago, therefore obviously this resulted in the current racial inequality" is hand-waving. Saying "the evidence shows that after two-three generations, the wealth of your parents still dominates life outcomes over the effect of genetics" would be something meaningful that could be researched and debated.

Implying that systematically dispossession of african americans ended 150 years ago isn't hand waiving it's just dishonest.

If you define all arguments as "hand waving" and rephrase them as idiotic parodies of the original arguments, in the meantime ignoring their substance, I doubt you will find them very convincing.

After which external pressures ceased to exists?

Present day blacks have lower skill. That is obvious, not just to Sailer but to everyone who has studies educational metrics.

The assertion that IQ and skill deficiencies of blacks can be traced to antebellum US slavery is a common assertion of the far left. That is absurd, it's wildly contrary to the Steve Sailer crowd, and this paper doesn't even support that argument with data analysis.

How exactly it it absurd that centuries of poncy directed at maintain a low skill black underclass might have resulted in a low skill black underclass?

And yet didn't create a low-skill Asian underclass. Which, you know, was the freaking point of this post

Because the policies enacted ere not remotely similar nor are most Asian american descendants of the earlier st migrants.

This is actually a dressed in the erm... freaking paper

Right. Asian-Americans were discriminated against in a way that is not comparable to blacks, yet still worse than whites. Yet they're performing better than whites. So the history of oppression predicting modern day performance notion doesn't have any clear implications.

This is because most Asian Americans are not linked by history to that discrimination. In the paper's example of CA born Asians we saw convergence not outperformance.

In addition to @careless's counterpoint, many present day black Americans are either post 1960 immigrants or descendants of such and don't have any ancestry that was directly affected by the "centuries of poncy directed at maintain a low skill black underclass".

Next, every ethnic group has been involved in various rivalries and conflicts, every ethnic group has faced suffering and atrocities, every living human of every ethnicity probably has ancestors that were slaves and other ancestors that were slavers. Both you, the author, and US culture has enshrined the one narrative of US black suffering and oppressing as special and unique without seeming justification.

Try and put a figure on "many" post 60 (well 65 at best) blacks and attached a median income to it.

Also no one else is pretending they don't know why the experience of American blacks is unique in the country. Why are you?

"3.8 million black immigrants live in the United States today", "Black immigrants now account for 8.7% of the nation's black population". And that's obviously just immigrants themselves. Clearly many black americans are descendents of recent black immigrants but that's harder to google a specific number for.

I'm not pretending that I "don’t know why the experience of American blacks is unique in the country." I'm calling BS on the narrative that past US slavery is a principal cause for problems of today's blacks and a blanket group wide excuse for any failures or shortcomings.

What happened after slavery? Nothing?

@alesis, I certainly never said nor implied that nothing happened after slavery.

There are infinite stories of history, and it's subjective which stories a researcher chooses to ignore or highlight. If you want to frame blacks as noble victims and whites as villains, there are certain stories you highlight and shout from the roof tops and certain stories you need to ignore or downplay. There is a prevalent culture in US universities of spinning history in this fashion and it's really not based on any objective analytic framework, it's based on a highly subjective political orientation and advocacy preference.

LOL at Massimo. It's actually based on black people being fucked over by white people for centuries. You're probably a Holocaust denier too.

@msgkings, I actually believe many grievance stories where whites were villains and blacks were victims. There are also many famous historical grievance stories of white villains against American Indian victims, like the Wounded Knee Massacre. I don't deny the holocaust. That's primarily a grievance story of White/German/Christian villains against White/Jewish victims.

The glaring problem with these grievance stories is that they are such a nakedly political tool. You choose which present day demographic groups you want to cater to and boost in status, which you want to play the villain group to lower in status, and choose historical grievance stories appropriately. You hype grievance stories that align with your present day politics, and silence or spin away any grievance stories that conflict with your present day political view.

Most people are wildly contrary to the Steve Sailor crowd. You live in a bubble.

Most people recognize existing discrimination as a major factor, in addition to whatever malaise within those communities has its own negative enduring effect, plus something or other about it started from a situation of slavery and that offers lots of common sense partial explanations for how things got on the present trajectory.

Few people have much interest in whether there is a 0.01% or 1% different in average genetic qualities of groups as defined by some particular indicator or another (which conveniently will be the same very indicator that the proponent of the idea performs well in, but anyways ...). Most people basically think it is not relevant, or if it is that it is too small of a factor to really care about, considering the numerous far more relevant social factors.

Sorry that you've had to suffer through this moment of raging leftist Marxism wherein both history and the present explain the present.

15 points of IQ are not irrelevant. The cause of the problem often really matters if you are trying to find a solution. Most people may assume the explanations you posit but how many are familiar with the research at all? Isn't that received wisdom?

Cliff, we've had this discussion many times over, and in fact you linked to the highest quality study I've seen on this question, which found that of those 15 points, and studying almost every single theorized explanation for how it could possibly be genetic and not cutural turned up ...

how much unexplained...?

A further 1% of that observed difference in outcomes which could not be explained by factors which were studied, even after trying to incorporate nearly every remotely plausible genetic or biological explanation - which, highlight, does not prove that 1% of the explanation is genetic or biological, but that the results you linked to showed that a further 1% of that difference could not be explained and that biological explanations could not be explicitly proven incorrect.

I think the cultural practices that leads to these skills deficiencies can be traced to slavery though. Blacks deeply rooted in rural New England for example are a lot different than their counterparts in the South.

One thing I hope the Trump Era brings is some honesty around race gaps, school segregation, incarceration etc.

Time to stop treating blacks like children.

The Washington Post severely misrepresented this paper:


While these modern score gaps test-scores have not been fully accounted for by measured background characteristics (Neal, 2006; Fryer and Levitt, 2006; Fryer, 2010), they likely relate to suppressed black skill acquisition during slavery and subsequent educational discrimination against blacks spanning multiple generations (Margo, 2016)

Next, Hilger could try to show the truth of that claim. But he won't, because it's there for the purposes of CYA.

The Margo 2016 paper is available here:


I encourage all to read the Margo paper cited. It's weak. And therefore rather telling as a citation.

The paper is gated. Here is a quote from the abstract: "I explore the interpretation of these long-run features with a model of intergenerational transmission of racial inequality in which racial differences in causal factors that determine income are initially enormous after the Civil War and which erode slowly across generations."

Would anyone be able to describe the model of the casual factors that determine income and how these factors are transmitted through the generations? My own take is that even if we don't know the reasons, the idea that slavery would still have an impact today is plausible. I can think of at least three widely popularized studies showing that intergenerational income mobility is very low and very low. One of them is from Sweden, with the conclusion being that after 200 years upper class vs. working class status of a family lineage didn't really change much, another from Florence that found the same thing but instead over a time period of 700 years, and then Gregory Clark's work from England showing that it takes at least a few hundred years for a lineage to go from being either at the top or bottom of a society to being in the middle.

No way, in socially rigid societies there is little upward mobility?

But then there are those damnable Asians proving showing that upward mobility does exist and is possible in the USA, which conveniently is the the country of interest when speaking of antebellum slavery.

From what I have read, my impression is that the one exception to low intergenerational economic mobility is through immigration. I do believe that in the UK, the children of immigrants are more upwardly mobile than those of the white working class.

Start with broken families and then make laws which result in 20% of black males spending time in prison while their kids grow up?

That can't help.

Requesting my honorary degree in rocket science please.

The problem is finding a model or explanation that explains why intergenerational mobility is low and slow in countries and regions as diverse as the U.S., Britain, Sweden, and Florence.

When you're wealthy, you're more likely to socialize in wealthy circles. Aside from this directly procuring opportunity (who you know), it also gives lots of examples one might choose to follow and you will be more likely to get into more conversations about how to make money with people who ... actually know how to make money.

When you're poor, the network might be able to inform you that the local Walmart is hiring and the best time of day to show up to speak with the manager who might give you a minimum wage job.

I don't like the idea of forcing intervention. Instead, I prefer the idea that financial incentives to attend public schools (namely, not subsidizing private schools) increases the probability of mixing, and the municipal zoning policies which insure representativeness across income groups and other groups further help to promote this increased access to opportunities across generations.

Other explanations can be more easily tested empirically, so this one doesn't "show up in the data" so easily.

For those of us who read Steve Sailer and the "racist" alt-right it's a fat nothing burger. But for the rest of you, welcome to reality. Great to finally have you. Hopefully we see more "politically incorrect" but factually correct social science research to help further our civilization's understanding.

How do you know that this kind of research is factually correct and supports your racism? What expertise do you have on this matter? In addition, what kind of evidence would convince you that you're wrong? I sincerely doubt that you and your comrades in the alt-right / white supremacists came to your conclusions based on the strength of the evidence.

Is Razib Khan an alt-white white supremacist? His writing convinced me there is a genetic component, after a long period of me railing against the racism of Sailer and the other commenters.

A genetic component cuts two ways. Within groups and across. It is a fixation to choose just one.


Well it depends on the topic at hand, doesn't it?

Shrug. I am a human being, and a citizen of the United States. I have a particular set of God-given gifts. One of those is some level of intelligence. Every other individual human being in the United States has gifts as well. Some are smarter than me, some are dumber. I waste precisely none of my time looking for patterns in who is smarter, or dumber, or prettier, or stronger.

We are all citizens who deserve the same consideration, without bias.

And yes, when some people are obvious targets of bias, they probably deserve consideration to overcome it. That includes a from culture of inferiority built in a slave age. It takes time to make education the answer when for years learning was a crime, justified by assumption of inferiority. Heaping more assumption of inferiority on every individual can't be a positive contribution.

Yeah. What has recognizing patterns ever done for anyone who wanted to better understand the world around them?

I agree that all races should be equal under the law, but neither you, nor African Americans, nor progressives generally believe that. You give with one sentence and take away with the very next.

One reason why the topic is important is because it goes to the question of how much bias is experienced. For many, many people the disparate outcomes automatically equal bias. But there is not strong support for that in the literature

Imagine that you were an African-American kid with precisely 100 IQ. Do you think the current societal pressure that you are in fact substandard would affect you at all? Study less, hoops more?

(Maybe if we call it "black shaming" conservatives will better relate.)

I have no idea whether such pressure exists or would affect me. If black people had higher IQs than whites on average that wouldn't bother me at all.

@Cliff: Of course it would bother you if your group was considered the dumdums. That's why Reps cry so much about elites looking down on them.

Fabulous, now that we're all aware that black people are just stupider than us whites I suppose we should get with the program and apologize for getting rid of segregation and that. You were right all along! The blacks really are inferior! I'm so sorry!

Hazel, there really isn't a hidden Nazi under every other white person. You can take off your diaper.

Oh, so he wasn't saying that black people are stupider? My mistake!

Hazel, the African IQ deficit is better established than the Big Bang. Knowing that does not make you a Nazi. You didn't just try to exterminate the Jews after reading the first part of this post, right?

Would it be so terrible to take an honest look at what desegregation (as in the past sixty years solution to "the negro problem" taken as a whole) hath wrought?

You're never going to solve a problem until you understand what the problem is.

The first argument that present day blacks have lower skill which causes wealth + job gaps is a point Sailer and the alt right have harped on.

The second argument that low black skill in the present is a direct result of US slavery from before 1860 is absurd and is not compatible with anything Sailer or the alt right think.

Why do you insist on saying stupid things?

The fact part is that an outcome observed. So far we're at the level of a news press release or a high school project.

WHY that outcome? Some people can only see good research if it can be twisted in some manner to support whatever they already believed.

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but Jesus tap dancing Christ Nathan. If you have a problem with twin/ twin adoption studies then explain why they're evil and bad and their authors vote for trump...

You're virtue signaling to yourself, great. Now take off your hysterical girl hat and turn on your brain. What's wrong the with the studies, and why? Sampling error? Or is it that the correlation isn't 1.0 between twins?

You said it's the drug war? So black kids raised by white patents, why do they regress to their parents IQ? Doesn't that show it's not the drug war?


I don't have a problem with twin adoption studies, I just don't find them informative for the questions they are often put to answering.

You ask me to mention specific errors in specific studies. But there's a problem. You have not mentioned a specific study.

It might also be useful to know which other general conclusions you might try to draw on the basis of the very specific conclusions which may be drawn from such studies.

@Troll me
Would you mind linking to a few articles that demostrate that observed IQ gaps are a result of other factors? Just curious.

I'm not sure how to test for things like "actually tries when administered some test that bears no relation on their life" or a number of other explanations.

Also, I don't consider the IQ test to be a high quality indicator.

Sure, Nathan, you can shrug it off. But when people have shown that brain size is related to income, well, you just look like an asshole

When I saw the headline I thought it was about the new paper showing that intergenerational wealth differences and economic status were due to wealth transfer inheritances:

"Several potential determinants could explain intergenerational wealth persistence, for example intelligence, patience, social skills, norms, or bequests. Unfortunately, most of them are almost impossible to measure with respect to their influence on mobility, but bequests and gifts represent a possible determinant that is both observable and identifiable.

We estimate the role of bequests and gifts for wealth mobility, which is a new contribution to the literature.....

Our study adds two distinct contributions to the small but growing literature on intergenerational wealth mobility. First, most of the observed transmission in wealth status between generations comes from parents, with grandparents contributing rather marginally. Second, most of this parental transmission appears to be due to bequests and gifts. The implications of these findings for the broader issues of equality of opportunity and fairness in the wealth distribution are something that we hope to be able to study further."

Link here: http://voxeu.org/article/drivers-wealth-persistence-across-generations

Sshhhh. .. . In this burg, THAT is politically incorrect.

This isn't that surprising. Wealth can be directly bequeathed from parents to children in a way that earning ability generally cannot (except investment income via very large bequests, but these are relatively rare). I recall a Swedish twin study that found that shared environment contributed almost nothing to adult earnings, so it's likely that intergenerational wealth correlation and income correlation work through very different mechanisms.

Keep in mind, also, that Sweden's high taxes and relatively flat income distribution may make it hard to accumulate much wealth in a single generation. It would be interesting to see a similar study for the US, but I believe that the reason we see so many intergenerational studies of Swedes is that they keep much better records of this stuff than other countries, so the data may not be available.


IOW, stating the obvious and, as another commentor noted, in the obtuse language of academic-speak. Very funny! :)

Oh how I wish I could find that essay I had to read in my college English Comp class about writing clearly vs academic paper speak.



A meta comment: keep in mind AlexT is a master troll; he makes me look like a tyro by comparison. You watch, this thread will grow to over 100 comments easy.

American racism and racial obsessions with "purity" would really amuse me if there weren't human beings suffering due the American regime racial oppression, people suffering by no fault of them except being born a certain way in America.

>the American regime racial oppression

We are very sorry about that. We thought that electing Obama would help, but it turns out he was just another dude who basically lives for racial oppression.

So -- definitely feel free to keep posting this comment until your organs fail.

Well, it really helped Michael Brown, didn’t it? Or the dwellers of American ghettos, treated like animals by their masters?

getting a little too obvious with the trolling here

It is true what they told me, there is a war on noticing ongoing.

I fear America is already gone in fact.

Should we go looking for it? What is now sitting in between Canada and Mexico? Perhaps America and Brazil are off somewhere in a secret motel room getting friendly....

Brazil keeps much better friendships, more according to our station in life.

On a global scale, Americans regardless of race are very successful and fortunate. Black Americans are particularly lucky compared to their racial kin elsewhere, such as in Africa and Latin America. Only deeply ignorant people can argue otherwise.

Of course this was also true of European Jews as opposed to those who remained in the middle east. There is a reason no one brings this up as a mitigating factor.

A mitigating factor for what?

I'm not sure what you're trying to argue, but if you could choose to be born today as one of the following three, which do you think would afford you with the greatest chances for prosperity and the pursuit of happiness?

1) A descendant of black Africans who stayed behind while their neighbors were carried off to slavery in the New World.

2) A descendant of black Africans who were carried off to slavery in South America.

3) A descendant of black Africans carried off to slavery in the US.

I'm arguing that Rawls was right and because we actually cannot chose we shouldn't justify inequality based on the fact that we know know what lies beyond the veil of ignorance.

Rawls didn't consider eugenics, our ancestors should be looking out for us, culling the weak and unsuccessful from the herd.

Well, it really helped Michael Brown, didn't it? Or the dwellers of American ghettos, treated like animals by their masters?

Michael Brown attacked a police officer...

"treated like animals by their masters?"

Pretty offensive

No, treating people like animals is offensive, reporting it is not. White Americans are the last slave masters -- aside Saudis, Mauritanians and other enlightened peoples.

...says the Brazilian. From a country where racial disparities are also a huge social problem.

451 comments plus this one, and counting! What a master troll Alex T is...

Posts that are directly about racial issues are always the most commented on.

American Blacks don't pull their weight in the economy. The reason is that, on average, they are not up to it. Is that what this paper boils down to?

Considering that at one point thee were the single largest asset class in the american economy? Probably not.

At what point was that? (spoiler: never)

Considering that at one point they were the single largest asset class in the american economy? Probably not.

Were they collectively worth more than horses?

"But in 1860 American slaves, as a financial asset, were worth approximately three and a half billion dollars — that's just as property. Three and a half billion dollars was the net worth, roughly, of slaves in 1860. In today's dollars that would be approximately seventy-five billion dollars. In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself|"

Yeah, it looks like there were only 8 million horses in 1867, at roughly $150 that's only $1.2 billion.

Suggesting that slaves were worth more than the land they worked on suggests you're an idiot.

He said not reading the next post.

Doubling down on stupid doesn't make you look less stupid

No, that's not what it means.

Blacks tend more strongly than others to be wage earners rather than salaried employees or proprietors and carry a mildly lower employment-to-population ratio (about 10% lower). About 53% of the general workforce is in unambiguously wage-earning occupations, v. 73% of the black workforce. They're pulling their weight just fine under ordinary circumstances.

The sticky point is that a conspiracy of judges, public interest lawyers, and educational apparatchiks has insisted that blacks be stuffed into public sector jobs they could not obtain through competitive examination, has insisted that blacks be awarded higher education berths they could not have received if ordinary performance metrics were applied, and has insisted that private employers can be held liable if screening examinations do not yield the 'right' proportions. These stupidities, for which working class blacks receive scant benefit and have never really sought, have damaged the public services, education, and the legal profession. They do enhance the role of higher education in sorting the labor market, however. (Which may be the whole point, for some).

The other sticky point is that impecunious people get a raft of means-tested benefits, such as grocery coupons (delivered now via debit card), housing vouchers, &c. Most of these have small clientele at any one time, with two exceptions: SNAP and Medicaid. Roughly 40% of the black population qualifies for SNAP, though some do not sign up for it. It's good for about $200 a month toward an ordinary household's grocery bill, so, not a large benefit per household, but one to which the rest of the population reacts neuralgically because you see it being used in mundane circumstances and because the size of the program has expanded dramatically under the current administration. Medicaid causes less irritation even though expenditures are huge because almost no class of society is cash-on-the-barrel-head re their medical expenses and you don't see the abuses in the program unless you work the emergency room.

The notion that spending most of american history making black people poor on purpose has nothing to do with economic gaps but spending softy years allowing a handful to attend selective universities "does" is I think a uniquely American sort of non sequitur.

In what way is it a "non sequitur"?

In that it is logically inconsistent that "Affirmative Action" policies affecting a tiny fraction of the population have more effect that a nearly universal shared heritage of purposeful impoverishment.

She's not responding to me. She's responding to a caricature in her mind.

I don't think he ever made that claim, but neither is it logically impossible. You just don't agree with the strawman argument you constructed, that doesn't make it a non sequitor.

It isn't my business to repeat myself for people who are obtuse.

Then tell us something new. Add up all the black civil servants and affirmative actions school attendees. About what percentage of the total black population would that come to?

"About what percentage of the total black population would that come to?"

Well, for college, it's about 70% of the black population that graduated high school, right? Affirmative action systematically moves every individual up a few notches from where they'd land based solely on applications viewed race blind.

The notion that spending most of american history making black people poor on purpose

American blacks are less affluent than American whites. They're not poor on any international scale. They're not poor compared to Mediterranean Europe. They're not anything but affluent compared to any negroid population in the world of any size (bar, perhaps, West Indians in Canada). They're certainly not poor in comparison to West African blacks. See


Good thing I didn't say "internationally poor" then. American blacks were made disproportionately poor among their fellow american on purpose for generations. The creation of a permanent black underclass was the stated goal of both slavery as practiced int he US and segregation.

I know we think government is incompetent but is it really impossible that they might have succeeded in this effort?

Again, this is a fantasy of yours. Legal regimes were unfair to blacks in various ways. There was no centrally-directed plan to 'make them poor'. They were poor by virtue of their skill sets.

Real personal income of American blacks is similar to that of American whites ca. 1985, as are metrics which can be more validly measured over long time scales, such as life expectancy. The distinction between subpopulations is unremarkable and seen in other communally fissured societies which have dissimilar histories (see Thomas Sowell's commentaries on this point: 'disparities' are normal in inhomogeneous societies).

"We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States."
Texas Secession Declaration

Inferior and Dependent. Cant't be either if they aren't poor.

"wage earners rather than salaried employees"
What is the difference between a wage earner and a salaried employee? I am talking seriously, I reaaly don't know. Aren't both payed with a fixed sum by services rendered?

Salaried (or exempt) employees don't punch a time card (if they still existed), don't fill out a form telling their hours, generally have a salary in excess of 60K/year, don't receive overtime pay. It is a designation for management, or professionals that don't need instructions on a daily basis.

Sometimes the Exempt/Salaried designation is assigned to fast food supervisors, this will typically not stand in court, as these employees generally don't have enough autonomy to be exempt, and are thus eligible for overtime payments.

I had no idea. Thank you very much.

No. But thanks for the really rotten comment. Nice worldview.

Contrasting test scores between Asian Americans and white Americans in 2016 would prove what? That Asian Americans are more intelligent that white Americans? That white Americans suffer from decades of political correctness? How about contrasting physical characteristics. Do African Americans perform at a higher level in football and basketball because African Americans are more physically disciplined than Asian Americans? Or is it because African Americans are physically larger and faster than Asian Americans? Are African Americans drawn to vocations in which physical characteristics are relatively important? Are Asian Americans drawn to vocations in which physical characteristics are relatively unimportant? Are white Americans threatened by African Americans because of the physical characteristics of African Americans? Are white Americans threatened by Asian Americans because of the intelligence of the Asian Americans? Hilger's study is politically correct not because he blames historical racism for lower test scores for African Americans but because he contrasts all three groups, white Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans. I'm a white American, which means that I am dumber than Asian Americans but smarter than African Americans. In the South we say that God created Mississippi so Alabama wouldn't be last.

If Asians do better in school than white Americans, this is evidence that Asians are very studious and put in long hours of study.

If white Americans do better in school than African Americans, this is evidence of white superiority and black inferiority.

By virtue of the ability to internalize the truths of this logic, I hereby declare my superior wisdom, intellect and genetic qualities.

I would love it if people would consider whether what this all indicates is that institutions (immigration, segregation, education) matter and that (as recent research is beginning to shed light on) human will power doesn't really count for much.

Institutions matter. Human will power is exercised within the constraints of existing institutions.

Armed forces aptitude test does not equal success in school. It's an IQ test. Jesus Christ.

Learn to read, please. This isn't Jezebel.com. Virtue signaling to your friends doesn't earn you points here.

Read. The. Article.


Please stop anonymously virtue signalling to other anonymous people.

All this anonymous signalling is getting cloying.

On a one-to-one basis, Asian Americans have lower wage / salary than White.

On family-to-family basis, Asian Americans have higher household income than White.

Asian American families are more likely to have more than two income earners.

White families are likely to have 1 (upper middle class or better) or 2 (lower middle class or worse) income earners.

This result suggests that Asians earnings gaps in 1940 stemmed primarily from taste-based or some other non-statistical discrimination, in sharp contrast with the black earnings gap which largely reflected statistical discrimination based on skill gaps inherited from centuries of slavery and educational exclusion.

(emphasis added)

Given that the early comments emphasize that none of this is news to Sailer and the other alt-right types, I'm assuming these folks favor reparations for slavery and subsequent discrimination, which caused the economic harm they see as clear and substantive.

"skill gaps inherited from centuries of slavery and educational exclusion."

Can one inherit a skill gap like one inherits a hair color? How many centuries of slavery was there? Were all slaves mated like dogs or cattle to emphasize desired physical characteristics or were some bred to produce intelligent domestic servants? Wouldn't centuries of Chinese peasantry produce an inherited skills gap of some kind? Not too many Chinese rodeo cowboys, that must be it.

Inheritance is not limited to genetics. Asian immigrants would have been disproportionately skilled right off the boat.

One can inherit property. Can one inherit the skills to develop it?

Why yes I think its pretty clear that parental education influencing child achievement.

Obviously, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric inherited the skills to develop property.

"Pretty clear"??

Does that mean you can produce some shred of evidence that supports that contention?

Cliff is requesting evidence that it is possible for a parent to teach something to their children.

Is this one of those "department of obvious" things that might actually need to be demonstrated by someone with a PhD?

Warren Buffet can teach everyone to outperform the stock market. Thanks Nathan, you idiot.


"parental educational level during childhood had no direct effects on educational level at age 48"

The study does conclude that parental educational level has an "indirect effect" through "age 19 educational aspirations and age 19 educational level." I find this a bit confusing. No significant relationship between adult and child educational achievement when controlling for a few relevant factors, but a significant relationship between parent educational achievement and child educational aspirations and between child educational aspirations and child educational achievement?

"it is worth noting that because we essentially were examining intergenerational socialization processes, the role of genetic heritability in accounting for relations over time cannot be ruled out." They do not control for parent IQ either, which seems important.

Considering the study does not try to account for heritability of e.g. personality traits and considering the large evidence we have that parents have little to no effect on objective life outcomes of their children other than through genetic influences, I am skeptical.

the large evidence we have that parents have little to no effect on objective life outcomes

Judith Rich Harris offered that as a thesis and was daring people to refute it. The problem we have in these discussions is people cannot tell the difference between arresting ideas and demonstrated relationships (or the lack of them).

"were some bred to produce intelligent domestic servants"

This is the weak point of your argument. In what society and in what ear has intelligence been a qualification for a domestic servant?

There are definitely a few clues about how much intelligence was valued by American slave holders. There were laws dating from 1740 prohibiting the education of American slaves. Anyone teaching slaves to read or write was fined, or worse. Assembly of blacks, free or slave, was prohibited. The public education of free blacks was outlawed throughout the south, and even in some of the north.

Driving while texting is prohibited but people do it anyway. We probably can't know what the ideas about family life and mating of slaves were for any individual slave owner. Inevitably some were more humane than others. "Uncle Tom's Cabin", a fictional abolitionist tract, seems to have become an authoritative anthropological work on slavery in the US. Since slaves were an extremely valuable asset they were treated better before emancipation than after, at least for a time. In any event, the North's victorious battle against slavery didn't include raising southern blacks to economic parity. The carpetbaggers were too busy lining their own pockets.

Not to mention getting Blacks to vote. Thanks God it ended too soon.

Texting?! Really, is that the best you can do?

Your response doesn't remotely address what I wrote. Again, in what society and in what era has intelligence been a qualification for a domestic servant? The obvious answer is, nowhere and never. There was absolutely zero incentive for slave owners to breed slaves for intelligence, and there is not a shred of historical or anecdotal evidence that it happened. It's, frankly, idiotic to suggest it.

And do you really think slave owners were "doing it anyway" when it came to educating blacks, or teaching them skills? Not where there were outnumbered by a wide margin, and scared to death of uprisings. But go ahead, flood us with your evidence that slaveowners "did it anyway."

Can a father teach a son how to play ball?

Nathan, nathan, nathan.

The point isn't whether skills can be taught. It's if skills are heritable. If I learn to play the piano, will my kid know how to play the piano automatically.

So the answer is no. Skills are taught. The loss of fire making in Australia should be proof positive of that.

Oh of course. After all these guys are just honest scientists hoping to enhance public understanding of race and HBD.

They certainly aren't cynical neo nazis.

"Everyone who disagrees with me is Hitler"

Not everyone, but some of these folks are Hitlerish

"Acknowledging the science of IQ divergence is the same as killing millions of people" - Hillary Clinton's losing election bid.

I think you need to read the paper again.

It is speaking much of factually observed outcomes, and appears more interested in contextual historical situations as an explanation and does not attempt to define one group as superior to the other.

Which in this instance would make you the person that neo-Nazis will point to for getting worked up in the wrong situations.

African Americans are getting lower scores on tests and have for basically all of US history. This is a fact and is not going to go away. There are many explanations for this which are conducive to positively moving forward, and which are not contingent on whether one group or the other has genetic qualities which enable them to score 0.01% or 1% higher, on average, across the group, on some particular type of test (in the non-existant situation that all other factors, such as elimination of racism, can enable a better view of the situation).

Crying "neo-Nazi" weakens the meaning of the word and contributes to potential perceived legitimacy of neo-Nazi views by virtue of being able to recognize that you are not being reasonable in leveling this charge here and now.

I'm not referring to the study author but the Sailer and his marry band of yes, neo nazis

Not tests. Intelligence aptitude tests. This is where the conversation breaks down into stupidity and virtue signaling.

You can hold these ideas in your head at the same time:

Blacks score lower on IQ tests.
Blacks' income and educational attainment will most likely never converge unless the racial category ceases to exist due to intermarriage.
This doesn't matter, in the slightest.
We are equal under the law.
We are all Americans, and should look out for each other before non citizens.
The drug war should be ended and is unfair towards blacks.

"Intelligence aptitude tests" mostly evaluate things that children learn in school or which they are otherwise taught.

I do not suggest that it is impossible to evaluate "natural intelligence". But I think that present tools are very low quality for this, and perhaps more importantly, that "intelligence" is always going to have a strong cultural bias determined by whatever skills/abilities are most valued and practiced.

Yes Nathan. IQ tests are largely reflective of what's taught in school. In your imagination.

Dude, for god's sake. Stop talking. Or make your lies slightly less obvious. You could make so many bullshit arguments that are less offensive to the truth!

Object manipulation is a mental skill less educated people don't need for XX reason.

Pattern recognition is only because kids read Shakespeare and do math. Etc.

IQ tests don't capture emotional intelligence, and this is just as important to lifetime earnings.

Books in the house make kids smarter automatically. You could fund a book program for Section 8 housing, do a RCT and see if the kids got smarter.

All of these are bullshit, but at least they're more defensible.

When many questions make direct applications of things learned in math class (but which would not be obvious if you had not learned them) and many other questions can only be answered correctly if you live in a family where those words are used or have read books that use them, the test does not seem like any sort of measure of "inherent intelligence", whatever this "intelligence" thing might be assumed to be.

There's no need for the RCT on books. In other places where there is still high literacy and interest to understand educational results, the presence or absence of books in the house is used as an indicator in evaluating what contributes to academic success. And by saying that it's used, that means that it is retained in a model after applying many sorts of tests to exclude irrelevant things - as compared to starting with the conclusion and then trying to prove it.

Notice that there is no analysis or support offered for the statement you bolded. It is a CYA statement because without it, the author's career could easily be ended by accusations of racism.

Look at what happens to prominent people like Watson or Summers who step out of line.

An alternative explanation is that serious people who spend serious time studying serious matters which involve history and society start to get crazy ideas like history explains something about the present.

Okay, but that is not the statement that they made in their academic paper

Similarly, history explains something or other about the present is not identical to what I just said before.

I don't know why any comparison of African american and Asian american incomes does not address selection effects from immigration. In the US African immigrants are among the most highly educated and assimilated parts of the population. During the great migration southern black migrants to northern cities were more likely to be employed and married.

Immigration requires resources and it is the resourceful who tend to immigrant but somehow the study authors fail to add dress this entirely.

After further examination it is discussed as part of the literature review but seems unconnected to the empirical approach.

It is discussed. The whole analysis is just for CA.

Presumably the effect is not zero, but I assume that it is not highly relevant.

I think it'd be much more interesting, and likely to come up with relevant results, to consider the cultural transmission associated with that selection process, as compared to genes.

For example, it is easy to understand that an entrepreneurial parent might pass on entrepreneurial preferences or abilities to children. Or that the same might apply to the academically inclined.

I think "culture" is what social scientists say when they have run out of things to measure. There is no continental culture.


"African" "Asian"

Even "European" until perhaps very recently.

For practical purposes such as how to interact with people in business meetings, etc., yes, there really can be an identifiable "continental culture" in the way you suggest - of course, with huge heterogeneity and overlap depending on exactly where and the individual personalities of the people you deal with.

By "culture", for this context, mostly I refer to things that would see parents doing more to encourage their children to do well in school, including spending time helping them with homework, or among friends and the broader community, higher recognition for academic achievements. Or, to look adversity in the face and try harder, not to decide to fuck the system that both made it that way and stands to profit from one's additional effort.

I think that's an oddly specific and presentist definition of a culture is all. Culture is by definition rooted in cross generational tradition. How many generation does widespread "valuing" of education go back in Japan? China? Mali? Nigeria? Alabama?

I think we'd need to be more grounded in the history to say.

Mostly, my reason to say so is that people who have specific sensible reasons for identifying these "continental cultures" might then unreasonably disregard what you're saying.

I get your point and basically agree with it in this context.

But if you're planning on going into international business and will have to regularly meet people from different cultures, a shorthand of "Asian, Middle East, European north/south, and American" will help you to get 90+% of a variety of important details right before sitting down with them.

It's simplistic, but a useful starting point.

Arguably, the valuation of education in Japan and China goes back hundreds of years or longer, because it was always necessary to be educated to access the civil service, and this was basically the only way to move up in society unless you started out connected.

While I think in many ways your perspective is "more useful" as a way of viewing the world, I'm reacting to the notion that generalizations can serve no purpose in matters of culture - they are in fact highly practical and useful so long as you aren't unreasonable.

Twin adoption studies.

You lose again Nathan.


What's your point? Heritable aspects of intelligence are non-zero ergo other groups are inferior?

Because that's the level of logic I see flowing from mentions of "twin studies". From people who are trying to defend their supposed superior intelligence at that!

Selection effect suggests that people diverge and that is racist. Everyone is completely equal in every regard and outcomes are totally based on luck and the evil system of capitalism.

There might be something to this. During the heyday of the Ottoman Empire some of the most demanding positions in the state were held by the most intelligent and able men recruited from populations subjugated by the Turks. Given access to the palace, it was required that these paragons be castrated. Ergo the best and the brightest of the empire were physically unable to pass along their superior genes. That might be a factor in the now defective gene pool of the middle east.

We can call it "The Eunuch Factor".

This fall, only on NBC.

The best and brightest recruits I.e. slaves went to the Janissaries in the military. They would end up with the bulk of military command posts and governorships etc. The Janissaroes were permitted to marry and have children from the 15th century onwards. Turkish average IQ is just 2 points behind Greece per Richard Lynn so that worked out well for them.

Lynn's studies are garbage because of the Flynn Effect. International IQ tests are bunk. The only valid comparisons are within nations. Ireland had an IQ allegedly in the 90s not too long ago.

The papers conclusions that Asian immigrants who had the resources to make a Ocean-sized voluntary journey to an unwelcoming country had higher skills than the descendants of involuntarily imported low skilled laborers is

1.) Not exactly shocking
2.) Not exactly proof of the perninneal "dumb Africans" theory of economic development.

Yes, let's all pretend regional IQ assessments don't exist or don't mean anything.

I'm not the eye-rolling type, but your obliviousness does tempt me.

They may mean any number of things and it we could have conducted them in the warring states era of of China they would have likely told us we were right to discriminate against eh yellow peril.

We could also pretend that education (and a culture of striving for excellence in education) is unrelated to results on standardized tests.

What kind of standardized tests? Standardized tests measuring things you learn in school?

Yes, for example things you learned in school or at home, which comprises most of what you find on an IQ test.

Like, most of the maths and logic stuff on those tests are straight out of grade 5 or grade 10 maths. And the vocabulary, funny thing, related to the language used at home.

School definitely teaches abstract pattern recognition. Not. Why is it that ph.ds have higher IQs than Masters have higher IQs and Bachelors have higher IQs and high school degrees have higher IQs than dropouts?

Nathan, as much as it might shock you, I'm not a white supremacist. I won't get into my personal life, but my kids would be insanely confused to find out I hate their mother and want to throw her and them into the gas chamber. Since I'm a nazi, right? I must have murderous intentions towards my own non white wife and mixed race children. I must have an undying hatred of other groups since I can read an academic paper and have Ivy League degrees. Privilege or something.

I agree the drug war should end, and police should wear cameras. But outside of political issues, which I'm mostly agnostic about, what infuriates me is WILLFUL disregard for truth because it's offensive. Republicans have climate change. You have intelligence and tabula rasa. Both are incredibly offensive to anyone who gives a shit about truth and science.

I guess the university of Toronto doesn't teach math, statistics, or econometrics. ?

Nathan won't respond, he would be lucky to have a 115 IQ which places him under the average MR commenter. He has absolutely nothing of value to add to the conversation

The fact that IQs in their respective source countries display the exact same difference...that's just a coincidence?

Not but neither is it proof.

Well, the African Americans also made an ocean-sized voluntary journey to an unwelcoming California. All those European immigrants made an ocean-sized journey but it's not like they were the cream of the crop, right? Also we're talking about the descendants of the immigrants.

The paper considers selection effects but ends up attributing the gap to educational discrimination, right? The paper is about discrimination and what happens to labor discrimination when government regulations are taken out of the picture, isn't it?

The empirical model doesn't control for immigration selection, no.

And the noting that skills aren't heritable is... questionable.

I doubt there is any way they could "control" for immigration selection but they do address the issue.

Obviously skills are not themselves inheritable. Talent is.

Of course skills are heritable. They can be passed down as directly as wealth.


Because the biological context is the only one that exists?

Skills are not wealth.

Simile not equivocation.

Even pretending you don't understand what they meant, it's obviously not true that "skills can be passed down as directly as wealth". They have to be taught. Sure, your parents could teach you, or your siblings or friends or aunts and uncles. And you also have to learn it.

Although most professional skills cannot or would not be taught by your parents

Trade skills and farming can be taught father-to-son. A century ago, you might have learned law practice that way. Funeral homes are commonly family enterprises, but licensure of undertakers precludes family apprenticeship full stop. Insurance agencies and real estate agencies are sometimes passed down. These are all modest occupations. Since Alesis is chuffering about the dearth of blacks enrolled in research universities ca. 1920, I don't think she has that in mind.

Alesis, it's a matter of definition of words.

"Heritability' refers to things that are passed on genetically.

In fact, this is one of the main sources of flagrant error in much racist research. They take any old things, look at observed outcomes, and call all means of transmission "heritability", which then incorrectly includes all environmental or cultural transmission.

So I'm not sure if you're copying the incorrect usage that you might have encountered in some of the lower grade "science" on these questions or just not aware of the difference in terms.

It's really at the crux of many related debates, so you've gotta make sure you're using the word right.

Passing on skills from father to son is not "heritability", and can be called things like "cultural transmission" or "intergenerational skills transmission", and probably other words which are more attached to related bodies of research.

"Definition of heritable
: capable of being inherited or of passing by inheritance"

You will note I used the above word not "heritability"

OK, but "inheritance" here really is talking about genes.

In this subject, you are using the word wrong. Never mind however much miscommunication this might have brought about before (and let's be clear, the reason the clarification is needed is due to the commonly fraudulent use of the word in low grade science passed around by certain types), you should know that if it's a subject you're interested in.

The fact that the commenter doesn't understand what heritable means pretty much summarizes his point of view on anything. Post your standardized test results or GTFO.

Not to be lucky but who mentioned genes in this sub thread? Certainly not me. I merely states that skills and wealth are both "heritable"

You certainly wouldn't object to the latter so why the former?

The people you are debating with believe that there are genetic properties which enable them to define themselves as superior and others as inferior.

For them, this is unrelated to the question of what parents can teach children.

As a precursor to justification of eugenics, genocide or feeling OK about violence inflicted on foreign nations, specifically on the basis about unproven beliefs about the genetic basis of the superiority of their group, yes, the distinction between what is transmitted to offspring by genes (and therefore immutable) and what is transmitted by culture or teaching, is of critical importance.

For the neo-Nazis, it is of critical importance to trash all ideas which suggest that there are cultural or historic explanations, because this is consistent with all observed present inequalities as being the result of genetic inferiority, the basis upon which some might even believe such individuals or groups should be exterminated.

Never mind the protest that that's not at all what they are up to. That is where it leads.

"Heritable" things refer to genes. If it's not about genes, "heritable" or "inheritable" is the wrong word, in this context.

"The toddler children of accountants have full understanding of tax laws." -some complete moron

(My) corresponding policy suggestions:

1. Severely deter race-based discrimination in hiring and education, (mostly already being done; could maybe do better)

2. Among the set of individuals not considered "disabled", devote extra effort during K-12 toward maximizing the potential of the least capable students without respect to race,

3. Create a scenario such that no high school student of sufficiently high ability (say top 15%; which metrics to use is up for debate) ever feels pressure to forego college because he can't afford it, (don't make this true for every high school student)

4. Implement modest non-race-based affirmative action policies in college admissions (and when determining which students meet the threshold in #3 above), e.g. key off total household net worth. Or maybe parents education level.

All of this is already done.

(say top 15%; which metrics to use is up for debate)

This puts you back where we started. There is a persistent academic achievement gap which everybody has been wringing their hands over for over forty years. Forty years from now, your children will be wringing their hands over it, assuming societal wealth still allows them to worry about such things.

We are clinging to a number of delusions, including that equality of inputs yields equality of outcomes, that Mind has nothing to do with Brain, that all Brains are created equal and evolution only occurs from the neck down.

And that spending centuries grinding people into desperate poverty can be fixed by forty years of college scholarships.

Yes. The Jews have certainly faced a lot of adversity over the years.

Yes and if was just forty years ago that they were guaranteed access to public schooling in wide swaths of the country. Or maybe not and this is just a silly comparison?

You're kidding me, right? How many generations do you need? What year are you going to revisit your priors?

We are at roughly 2/3rd of an average lifetime away from legally enshrined impoverishment dating back to before the founding of this country so maybe I dunno some reasonable amount?

We are at roughly 2/3rd of an average lifetime away from legally enshrined impoverishment dating back to before the founding of this country so maybe I dunno some reasonable amount?

There was no legally enshrined impoverishment anywhere in 1965. There were irritating and insulting caste regulations. See the work of James Coleman: the effect of these regulations on educational outcomes has been overstated.

Being barred from flagship educational institutions is indeed legally enshrined impoverishment. I'm from Alabama a state that stared education integration in earnest in the 1970s

No it wasn't. It made entry into certain professional-class occupations more difficult. In 1928, 89,000 baccalaureate degrees were awarded and another 20,000 professional degrees were awarded (for which it was common, at that time, to do without an antecedent baccalaureate degree). Annual birth cohorts during the first decade of the century were about 2.6 million, so you're looking at 4% of each cohort receiving those degrees. Cross-sectional enrollment statistics suggest a similar share were receiving certificates from tertiary business institutes and normal schools (which, by the way, were to be found for blacks in the South). Now, if you fancy 92% of the population qualify as 'poor', your statement would make sense.

It made everything more difficult. From staffing the segregated schools that whites could not or would not teach in to finding doctors willing to treat a black patient. From encountering a management class that would not happily engage in gross discrimination to supplying basic criminal defense when your state picked you up on vagrancy charges.

A group that is almost universally part of the working class is a group that will be taken advantage of at every conceivable opportunity without even the barest hope of solidarity to protect them. The Irish had Tammany.

Who did the blacks have?

The adversity against Jews included being the only people allowed to engage in one of the most profitable areas of business ever.

How do you think African Americans would have fared had all non-blacks been banned from finance and only black people could lend, etc.?

Also, a strong cultural preference for academic achievement, as shaped by the cultural need for intensive study of the Torah (etc.), probably doesn't hurt.

The adversity against Jews included being the only people allowed to engage in one of the most profitable areas of business ever.

Finance is not peculiarly profitable. That aside, there's a long history of interest-free sharia-compliant banking in the Islamic world, it just was not widespread in Europe. Amusing to know your anti-Israel blather originates in what addled Henry Ford.

The largest source of profits in the largest economy in all of history is ... "not peculiarly profitable".

Next, you can explain to us how $200 billion is irrelevant to the economy, and then get worked up about some minor scandal which involved only 1% of the amount of money (1% being generically irrelevant, if and when convenient).

The largest source of profits in the largest economy in all of history is … “not peculiarly profitable”.

About 7% of the value-added in the American economy is attributable to the financial sector, and that's a good deal higher than it was in 1949. You have finance-dependent economies like Britain. That's Britain, not anywhere else.

The subject was profits, not value added.

Dum de dum de dum.

Across all industries, gross operating surplus is as we speak abut $7,151 bn per annum. That in finance and insurance is $513 bn, or 7.2% of the total. The ratio of gross operating surplus to value added generally is 0.397. That in finance and insurance is ... 0.396. The ratio of gross operating surplus to gross output is 0.23 across all industries. For finance and insurance, it is 0.22.

What is different about finance and insurance is that employee compensation is better (about 47% above the mean across all industries). Compensation for employees of public utilities is better than that (2.6x the all-industries average); I tend to doubt Henry Ford was all that concerned about the number of yids working for the water authority or the gas board, but we can look it up.

Not sure I agree all this is already being done. For instance, if there is any race-based discrimination (not talking about race-based A.A.) going on in hiring and/or education, we could (maybe) do more to deter it.

I know there are kids in the top 15% who worry about being able to afford college. At the 15th percentile we're not talking about Harvard caliber students. They may have trouble getting admitted to a "good" state school. So we can't assume they're going to get any sort of academic scholarship. We're down to financial aid, which may or may not cover the cost at a level that avoids creating a financial disincentive for them to attend.

Clearly we could do more to maximize the potential of the least able students. Probably not without big changes to the public education system, but there you go. As a dumb example, imagine if every "low-performing" student were given an hour a day of one-on-one time with a personal tutor. And if part of that tutor's job was to assume a quasi-parental role and "nag" the student to turn in assignments, study for exams, start projects early enough to have time to finish them, etc. It would be hugely expensive, but it would probably improve those students' performance. It may be true there are no politically feasible levers we're not already pulling.

When it comes to affirmative action in college admissions, some institutions may be taking into account household net worth and parental education level (in lieu of race), but I suspect many more are focusing on race alone or have no affirmative action policies whatsoever. So, to the extent that's true (and it may not be; maybe I've misread the state of college admissions), we could do more of it.

I agree that things do not currently work this way and that it would be an improvement. I think charter schools could be the answer for low-performing students. I don't think the evidence supports that our current educational system is bad.

Come again?

It is hopelessly lacking in focus at all levels, wastes time at the primary level on non-academic mush and on ancillary subjects when students haven't mastered arithmetic or English grammar or the fundamentals of American history; wastes time at the secondary level on half-assed liberal education among youth who should be in vocational programs (bar that a great many of them haven't mastered English grammar, arithmetic, or elementary algebra), and wastes time at the tertiary level on distribution credits whose principal effect is to provide employment opportunities for the arts and sciences faculty.

That aside, the delivery vehicle is public agency granted local monopolies, which is pointless for a fee-for-service enterprise which functions passably on an open market.

While we're at it, the disciplinary regime is designed to benefit the following clientele: incorrigibles, mothers of incorrigibles, public interest lawyers and their collaborators in the judiciary, and school apparatchiks whose priority is not feeling bad about lowering the boom on the 'disadvantaged', no matter how many actually impecunious people are inconvenienced by the antics of their obnoxious neighbors.

I meant in comparison to other school systems. Other than maybe Finland. Of course there is much that theoretically could be improved but as a practical matter maybe not.

You could start by having school year round (which they do in Japan). Not more than 2% of the population is employed in agriculture, but we have a school calendar built around the harvest. Put secondary school students in semi-specialized programs (which they do in Britain) regulated by examinations. Abolish the baccalaureate degree. Restructure the financing of tertiary schooling (vouchers distributed according to examinations for the public system, cash-on-the-barrel-head for the private system).

Art Deco is correct.

I have two 15 yo in the CA public school system in a mostly middle class mostly white community. They still do not know about the structure, operations, and function of our government or the difference between the civil war and the revolution. OTOH, they were introduced to Zinn in the 5th (!) grade and were taught that our government lies to us. I consider Zinn to be history FUD, so it created an opportunity for me to discuss US history and creation myths. Fortunately I am interested in history, anthropology, and bias so we had some great discussions. The teachers are all pretty much lefties and the school system, k-12, is focused on teaching to the standard tests, so the focus is on math and English. I fill in the blanks to compensate. My twin boys are skeptical of the school system. Good! Fortunately, they have an inspiring English teacher whoi is teaching them critical thinking via great poetry, short stories, and novels. Also good! My own background is in math. My wife, and thus my kids, is of Afro-Brazilian heritage.

A person in the 90th percentile of ability and work ethic who happens to be black can get into Harvard. 85th percentile will get them in somewhere in a top 15 university. And they won't need to pay for it. Competition for black students who are academically qualified for elite universities, even at this lower level, is fierce.

Not so sure, but maybe. For reference, 85th percentile is a SAT score of around 1250 (M+V). 90th percentile is an SAT score of around 1300. Couple those with 85th or 90th percentile class rank and I think even an AA student would struggle to get admitted to Harvard. The flagship state school in my state has a "top 10%" rule that grants automatic admission (to the state *system*) to anyone who places in the top 10% of his/her class, but only those who meet a higher threshold are guaranteed admission to the actual flagship campus. (Everyone else has to go to a different campus in the same system, then try to transfer into the flagship campus.)

I will agree that a 85th percentile black student is more likely to be able to afford school than a 85th percentile white student, and I'll agree that a 85th percentile black student is more likely to be able to afford school than a lower-percentile black student. Just not convinced it's a slam dunk for the 85th percentile guy.

All of this is already done.

Public schools actually helping students reach their full potential? That isn't even happening in *good* public school districts.

This is a good list. I think the point is that we should do as much as possible to create an environment where people can succeed or fail as individuals, and not be discriminated against based on their physical appearance (i.e. as a member of a race). I mean, I would go beyond detering race-based discrimination and just try to deter people from even thinking in terms of race at all. Everyone, not just employers and college admissions officers.

And then I would quietly stop hand-wringing about the statistical averages not turning out equally. In fact, I would just stop talking about statistical averages based on physical appearance altogether. I would delete "race" from census and employment and college application forms and just stop tracking it.

The trouble is that this only reifies the inequality that already exists by seeking to make it invisible. The egg is already broken. We've already created a long standing racial inequity. Ignoring it won't fix anything.

What would fix it?

I would suggest eliminating the racial wealth gap directly. It stands at a median level of 13 -1 and only the most delusions souls think this is unrelated to history.

How about a slave reparation tax credit that sunsets in 50 years or so?

Why would that be preferable to a concrete goal?

So your suggestion is seizing the wealth of non-blacks and giving it to black people? I think that would collapse the world economy.

It didn't when it happened in reverse for a couple hundred years. Also no not from "white people"

Blacks had little in the way of an appreciable quantum of wealth to be 'redistributed' during the years running from 1660 to 1860. They had labor for which their compensation was suppressed. That was not (in real time) crucial to the prosperity of whites. The black population amounted to 13% of the total in 1860.

@Alesis: whites, Asians, and Hispanics then?

Art Deco:
They were themselves largest single asset class in the American economy in those years. They were walking wealth that they couldn't tap into for themselves.
"But in 1860 American slaves, as a financial asset, were worth approximately three and a half billion dollars — that's just as property. Three and a half billion dollars was the net worth, roughly, of slaves in 1860. In today's dollars that would be approximately seventy-five billion dollars. In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. "

The nation as a whole.

@Alesis: the non-black 87% of the nation you mean? Even the poorer non-blacks?

No I mean the whole nation. The same way we all chip in for the national debt.

@Alesis: so we issue a bunch of bonds to give black people a one time wealth 'equalizer'? How much would be required? You cite a 13-1 disparity, I presume that's with whites. Is the disparity the same for Asians and blacks? Hispanics and blacks? Or is 13-1 the difference in black wealth and average American wealth? Median American wealth?

I'm trying to figure out the bottom line $ figure you want the US to borrow to 'solve' this.

Yes 13-1 is with whites which considering the actually nature of the injury makes the most sense. As to a dollar amount. It's not really a pressing issue. Once you clear the cognitive hurdle of connecting racial policy to wealth distribution the rest is just accounting

We should really be taking into account depreciation. Is the black populace worth as much now as it was in 1860? Probably not. There are cheaper and more efficient alternatives now. Perhaps a buy back program is more appropriate.

@Alesis: but if the 13-1 figure is with whites, why does the entire nation have to pay it?

Also, LOL at the rest is just accounting. I mean, why not make all the poor people rich regardless of race? It's just accounting after all.

Let me take a stab. There's roughly 320 million Americans. Maybe 12% are African American (I don't presume you are suggesting we compensate Caribbean or African blacks who came to the US in the 20th century for example). So call it 38 million black people. This article from Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/03/26/the-racial-wealth-gap-why-a-typical-white-household-has-16-times-the-wealth-of-a-black-one/#37dcdc606c5b) says the gap is actually 16-1! So let's go with their figures. In that article it's about $104K. So 38 million people getting $104K each is only a smidge under $4 trillion. Just accounting! Let's do it!

I suppose because we are recognizing the difference between inadvertent inequality and that directly created under government auspices. I said "just accounting" because the remedy could be spread out over a time period similar to the harm.

$4 trillion is roughly two Iraq wars.

The 13-1 'disparity' is, with scant doubt, due to systematic differences in time preference.

Why yes black people just don't like being wealthy. Of course.

They don't either have the culture or genetic makeup to become wealthy or maintain it. Subtle difference.

Why yes black people just don’t like being wealthy. Of course.

No, looked at collectively, they value consumption now (as opposed to consumption in the future) more highly than others do. That's community preference and it has been empirically verified. You find it even among quite affluent blacks. If that's your deal, you'll accumulate less in the way of assets if you've a given income level. There's nothing to be done about that.

I can introduce you to the scions of a family who inherited considerable wealth in 1980. By 2010, the wealthiest among them had assets 10x that of the poorest, even though they were all clients of the same portfolio manager. They had quite different employment histories and expenditure patterns.

Since we know there's a history of discrimination on the basis of race, I think it behooves us to continue to track it if for no other reason than that we'd like to be able to detect when discrimination is happening.

One thing I'd add to what you wrote, in bold: "...where people can succeed or fail as individuals, and not be discriminated against based on their physical appearance, and not be hamstrung by their parents' lack of means..."

Well, ok, but how about not making those statistics public?

It's like every few years the government publicly announces "By the way, just so you all haven't forgotten, black people still are like, way poor, for some reason. Please discuss."
I'm saying that the focus on race actually causes more racism. For instance, it reminds everyone that some people think black people are just dumber.

People don't need reminding about racial hierarchy. It formed the basis of this nation's social system for centuries. it isn't going to disappear if we just cover our eyes.

Private = no accountability. Would just have to take their word on it. Without tracking race we wouldn't be able to detect trends that are isolated to a particular racial subset of the population. Like, maybe unemployment recovers after a recession for everybody but whites. We wouldn't know that unless we were tracking people by race. (btw, I'm aware that "race" is a pretty "fuzzy" category.)

Racism is the foundation of current liberal politics. It's what they turn to when all else fails.

Having the government collect statistics but keep them secret from the public, or decide not to collect statistics because they might give the proles the wrong ideas, seems incredibly wrongheaded to me. How would you feel about the same policy being pursued w.r.t. global warming or evolution?

This is the most obviously trivial research question ever.

Regression analysis on incomes: race, education years, IQ, arrests, parents IQ, parents education level, education ranking on US News R (proxy for conscientiousness), parents education ranking....and my personal favorite !!! Conscientiousness X IQ score.

Done. If race is the explanatory variable I guess Nathan is right. I'll take a bet , right now, and call my lawyer to confirm it. $45,000 dollars says race isn't the top variable. 30 thousand says it's not in the top 3.

Put up or shut up

I think France has been doing what you recommend here for a long time (maybe over a century ) FWIW.

Politically, I think winner-take-all elections make it untenable to have the Census ignore demographic groups. If elections were proportional (even something as modest as 5 member STV districts) it would eliminate the need to have geographic areas where a particular demographic is in the majority.

"I would delete “race” from census and employment "

Your motivations seem good in arguing the case, but it should be pointed out that this reduces the ability of government to efficiently administer public services, based on the fact that statistically identifiable differences in demand for public services may be observed on this basis.

I like the idea, and maybe it's even worth it in the long run, but a) it is not obviously better due to the potential inefficiencies just mentioned, and b) uhhhh, something or other really dodgy about what kinds of eugenics or Nazi-like pressures some folks might try to apply in an age of too much information everywhere but hiding that from the public record in the census - or more innocuously, just following through on indifference as to whether public services are efficiently administered in reaching minority groups.

It is very interesting how the children of black millionaires can outperform the children of white lower-middle-class parents on the LSAT.

I really don't see the controversy in their conclusions. How can one believe it takes less than 200 years to fix what took 500 years to break? Who knows what is on anybody's DNA, after surviving famines, slavery, and a host of other hardships, and who knows how all of that interacts into making each of us. If anything I think a great deal of black scholars would agree with these findings, since many argue that slavery is something that should not be brush aside as a valid argument for why African Americans need different types of help, like affirmative action.
There is one thing, it is not clear to me how they disentangle the effect that most Asians are immigrants, they choose to come, thus there was already self selection going on, whereas blacks did not choose to come. Perhaps it they had used another cohort made of blacks that immigrated from Africa since the 1980s then their conclusions would be stronger (in either direction), but I know that would not have worked with their time frame.

The theory of "innate racial difference" far from being tamped down is perhaps the most obsessively studied idea in anthropological history. In all that time little has been found to support the notion but God knows it isn't through lack of trying.

You're joking, right?? Right? Try reading Razib Khan. Modern genetic information has exploded that myth entirely, if you care to actually know. I mean come on, differences in medical issues and outcomes between the races is so fundamental.

You might want a doctor to look at someone and think "African, so probably heart disease", but do you want employers to go around thinking "African, so probably stupid" ?

"wanting" is a whole other question

Well there are lot of things associated with intelligence. It's just that some of them happen to be easily visible and others not so. You're ok with making it easier for people to make decisions based on the visible markers?

As opposed to what? Censoring the truth?

"White, so definitely privileged"

As a practical matter for an employer, why would it matter whether lower black IQ/academic performance was due to genetics or the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow? Wouldn't the employer be inclined to discriminate either way, assuming he couldn't work out some way to filter his applicants for sufficient intelligence to do the job?

The fact of being able to find some means of statistically distinguishing between two groups does not imply that all other hypothetically asserted differences are therefore true for the fact that some means of discerning between the groups exists.

For example, anyone can see plain as day that Mongols have higher cheek bones than Han Chinese. This ability to discern between two identifiable subgroups does not lead me to believe that THEREFORE there is a genetic explanation for all other observed differences between groups. Duh, genes are involved. But that doesn't mean that differences in observed outcomes result from genes (notwithstanding that as living beings, and not rocks, yes, genes are somehow or another involved).

I don't think anyone would argue with you. You apparently agree with me that Alesis is wrong about innate racial differences

No, I do not agree with you at all.

The fact that it is possible to identify some feature which differs between two groups does not constitute evidence that other features therefore differ on average.

For example, having observed that all brown desks are brown and that all black desks are black, I do not therefore assume that the brown or black colour provides a causal explanation for why some of them are large corner desks and others are small desks for students.

You act like 19th Century China was some sort of utopia. That's leaving aside the Eastern European immigrants who fled late-stage feudalism or the Irish who fled, you know, Ireland.

Doesn't have to be utopia for selection effects to make a difference. Just has to be hard to get to the US from the starting point. The harder it is the more winnowing would occur.

Playing devil's advocate here, wouldn't the argument that immigration has a selection effect play into the hands of those who assert that AAmericans as a population aren't as intelligent as other groups in the US?

Only if intelligence is the only thing selected for through immigration. I'd suggest that income earning skills are far more important to afford boat fare.

That still seems like an argument that white nationalists would heartily agree with. So are the white nationalists right (in the broad brush sense, not in the particular details)?

They aren't right about what they'd most dearly like to be right about and what they are right about every other school of thought has already acknowledged.

I ask the question because I suspect this is what most people on this comments board are really discussing, and it strikes me that a better discussion will be had if the question is debated explicitly.

Oh I agree but if we are being explicitly what people are debating is not whether African Americans were of lower skill than Asian immigrants. (this is as we said a "duh" kind of conclusion) but whether "blacks" are "less Intelligent" than "Asians"

So what is it that white nationalists are right about (and that everyone else acknowledges) and what do they wish were true but isn't? I take their main principle to be that ethno-states are superior to multi-cultural nations and that hence the policy of the government should be to return the US to a "white" ethno-state.

They wish that the relatively impoverishment of african Americans reflects and innate lack of intelligent. It actually reflects centuries of policies directly aimed at the goal of making sure african Americans where relatively impoverished.

They are correct in that the results of this policy manifests as a skills gap.

Most immigrants to North America were poor farmers.

Consider the example of Australia, which was supposed to house all the misfits, etc., but somehow turned out OK. This suggests that selection was not very relevant.

This gets tricky. The US was in fact richer than Continental Europe even in the Revolutionary period. Yes there were impressed London vagabonds but also plenty of temporarily embarrassed aristocrats out to make a mark. The point about Australia is well taken but at the demographic level immigration consistently shows positive selection effects to education and employment.

What 500 years? IIRC, someone estimated that the average African American had three generations of slave ancestors in colonial and antebellum America. Generally, the hardships faced by slaves in (what became) the US weren't greatly different from those faced by peasants everywhere since time immemorial, so it's not clear why the descendants of American slaves should be especially disadvantaged.

"Generally, the hardships faced by slaves in (what became) the US weren’t greatly different from those faced by peasants everywhere since time immemorial"
Other than being banned by law from even the most rudimentary wealth accumulation both during and after slavery?

Controlling just for IQ, there's little difference in economic mobility between whites and blacks in today's America. In general, it's difficult to show that the economic status of grandparents has any effect, net of that of parents, on individuals' socioeconomic outcomes (i.e., intergenerational mobility can be modeled as a first-order Markov process), so the idea that the living conditions of your distant ancestors, whether they were slaves or starving peasants, would have any effect on your life outcomes is a tall order.

Except that economic mobility is in general extremely low so initial conditions do indeed count for a lot.

There's plenty of mobility. The problem is that there's no racial convergence because the children of highly-educated, well-to-do blacks are a lot more downwardly mobile than the children of similar white couples--and vice versa for the upward mobility of poorly-educated, low-income families.

"everal large studies of mobility in developed countries in recent years have found the US among the lowest in mobility.[3][7] One study (“Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults?")[7][11][20] found that of nine developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility with about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income passed on to the next generation"

"Lowest of nine" is not the same as "extremely low"

If about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income is passed on to the next generation, it means that half isn't. There's plenty of mobility, like I said.

Unless one of the other nine was also low:

@Alesis--The study you cited, aside from Germany, correlates neatly with ethnic heterogeneity.


Lots of groups were banned from rudimentary wealth accumulation across the globe. In 20th century USSR, 60 million people were killed through unnatural deaths such as starvation. Widespread horror was abound. You might care more about the plight of black slaves in US over the plight of different groups throughout history but this isn't remotely objective or analytical.

Who said I cared more and what does that have to do with anything?

@alesis, well you are citing obstacles faced by black americans and showing sympathy towards that group and not citing other struggles of other ethnic groups or showing sympathy towards them. Such selective narration seem wildly subjective and non-analytical.

I'm merely discussing the subjects of the paper.

Congratulations for changing the subject, passing on factually incorrect information and minimizing one horror by mention of an even greater one, all in the same go.

I bet people around you are full of lots of wisdom and deep knowledge.

Nathan, the subject is the source of variation in income and asset accumulation over time, and the thesis is that social trauma explains why blacks have lower incomes and tend to have few assets. Pointing out that social trauma hasn't been limited to blacks is discussing the subject, not changing it.

OK Art. If they are linked, then link them.

"Other than being banned by law from even the most rudimentary wealth accumulation both during and after slavery?"

I think that's a readily refuted metric. Lots of groups have come to the US with little or no wealth and done pretty well. Relative to this discussion of skills and skills transmission, the fact that US slaves were specifically banned from formal or informal education, and blocked even from educating themselves, seems more important. Apart from that, the vast majority of slaves were engaged in labor that was very specific menial labor, so even in practical experience they had minimal transferable skills to other ways of making a living once slavery ended. With the propagation of Jim Crow laws and attitudes after the war, this combined lack of educational attainment/tradition and skills in black populations was perpetuated long beyond 1865.

I think there's also something to be researched in the way ethnic communities either support or discourage the attainment of skills (and education to a lesser extent) and, from that, wealth and productivity. This is perhaps the mechanism for the lingering effects of the slavery-driven lack of skills and education. The Asian immigrants came from cultures and communities that put a high value on both education and on skills attainment. And those Asians who survived the discrimination in the US had to extremely adaptable and savvy just to survive, so they would have been practicing their previous cultural/community norms to the nth degree. It would seem pretty obvious that once such a group of people who come from a background of skill adoption, and who have use used that group trait to survive severe discrimination, would flourish once that discrimination ended.

TL;DR: The transmission of skills and skills acquisition isn't simply genetic, and it doesn't have much to do with wealth.

The slaves were manumitted five generations ago.

I'm including education as a means of wealth accumulation but it goes further. Blacks were largely barred from participating in the post war housing boom as well

No, they were not 'barred'. Nor does anyone's latter-day prosperity hinge on having owned a house in 1955. Residential housing is a consumption good.

A good which is still the foundation of the vast majority of middle class wealth

Blacks had a similar post-war housing boom as whites did.

Not remotely similar and largely based on risky contract housing arraignments.

See here. Given how similar the black-white home ownership gap has stayed through very different economic and regulatory conditions, the gap seems to be largely determined by human capital characteristics rather than credit constraints.

The applicable measure is home value . The question is not whether we built homes after WWII but rather whether they could be leveraged as a wealth building strategy.

Black homes won't appreciate in value like white (or Asian or whatever) homes because black homes tend to be in neighborhoods full of black people and neighborhoods full of black people tend to be crime-ridden and full of low-IQ children (-->bad schools). Many perfectly decent white neighborhoods were destroyed by blacks moving in and bringing their lawlessness with them. What do you suppose could have been done differently?

Home values likely correlate with race. Minority home values would increase if more people wanted to live around them. Turns out for the most part they don't.

A good which is still the foundation of the vast majority of middle class wealth

There's nothing magic about a house. Rent, then take the money you'd have used to retire principal and put it in a mutual fund.

Please compare the incentive to accumulate wealth when you are not allowed to accumulate wealth, as compared to the incentive to accumulate wealth and capital when it is not banned.

Personally, I think I'd be more likely to accumulate capital and wealth in a situation where I am allowed to do so as compared to the situation where it will always be stolen with force of law.

Wrong, Art. The magic of a house is mortgage interest deductibility, and forced savings. You say 'just rent and invest the difference' when often rents are higher than mortgage payments, and certainly often so after deductions. Also, most of the regular folk you extol so often don't really have the personal makeup to do that, regardless of race. It's why Bush II wanted everyone to own a house, homeowners save more because the house is a piggy bank. This is common sense stuff, which normally you are better at recognizing. Did your shirt-tail relations vex you over the holiday?

Please compare the incentive to accumulate wealth when you are not allowed to accumulate wealth,

Nathan, your head is filled with 100 stupid caricatures. No one prevents blacks from accumulating wealth, de facto or de jure.

And, of course, subsidies to homeownership through tax credits are of interest only to comparatively affluent people who might take the deduction and reduce their tax liability that way. As for the more affluent, municipal bond interest is tax free.

Art - we were talking about a situation which previously existed.

Were slaves allowed to accumulate wealth?

No, the situation that existed during slavery is not the same as the situation today.

"The slaves were manumitted five generations ago."

You missed my point. At the moment of emancipation, 5 generations ago, American black culture was starting from zero. There was absolutely zero tradition of skill building, nuclear family structure, education, wealth transmission, property ownership, etc. The Asians who came at around the same time, and were horribly discriminated against, were not starting from zero on this score. The point is that there are more than genetics at play.

Gee, this paper is taking sides on broad racial politics and blaming all the shortcomings of blacks on whites in a formal academic paper without data or any analytical framework and you don't see how any of that can be controversial?

Is he presenting facts or taking sides?

Those who highlight low test scores among African Americans (to the exclusion of anything else the researcher said) during the periods analyzed are interested in this as a source of fact.

Others who observed that is strayed into offering historical explanations for historical questions are upset at the presence of explanations which do not justify their assumed racial superiority.

Curiously, there is very little interest in why the Asians in this data and historical context succeeded in the way they did.

A greedy capitalist does not earn more by hiring a skilled African American if the result is that bigoted customers take their business elsewhere or other key employees are also bigoted.

Furthermore, a bigoted employer won't recognize the value in hiring the African American and if he is smart and lucky enough in other aspects of the business he can still succeed.

Furthermore, plenty of firms survived having anti-semetic owners.

So maybe you can correct the authors and tell us why Asian Americans did better than African Americans if not because of the skills gap?

Or maybe you can explain how employment discrimination based on tastes ever persisted, when evidence suggest that it did indeed persist until social attitudes started to change.

Regardless of the the cognitive scores of different groups, I sense the authors just don't know their history. In Maryland, prior to Brown vs Board of education there was only one high school in the state for blacks.

When I was in public schools through the late 60's and 70's there were plenty of ethnic jokes portraying African American's as stupid, but I recall none for Asians. My mother had recounted how a couple African American boys was placed in low achieving classes when he transferred into the Montgomery County public schools in Maryland. The mom protested and both boys were ultimately placed in the advanced classes where they were high achievers and did well in life later. One graduated from Princeton.

The study is about California.

The study is meant to make general inferences.

The study describes how discrimination against Asians was more intense than against blacks in California but that this did not cause Asians to have low human capital and that once overt discrimination ceased, Asians quickly attained similar socioeconomic outcomes as whites. Blacks didn't converge with whites because of their persistently low levels of human capital. Lessons for today's America are clear.

Liberia is a country specifically created for freed slaves, there are no white people there so Africans should be demonstrating what they can do in the absence of discrimination:


The Americo-Liberians are about 4% of the population. Socially, it's a West African country, for the most part. It used to be politically dominated by Americo-Liberians, but not in some time.

"Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, 'What shall we do with the Negro?' I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us."
-Frederick Douglass

The two groups that have gotten the most "help" from the Federal government are American Indians and the descendants of African slaves. Is it coincidence that these two groups are lagging behind?

This is actually just incorrect. As MLK noted the white middle class received by far the most help from the government. The US has done comparatively nothing for blacks.

MLK was full of it if he ever said that. Means-tested welfare does not have salaried employees or small business as it's clientele. It does not have prosperous wage-earners as it's clientele. It's clientele are generally impecunious wage earners down on their luck for an interim period or people who have only a tenuous attachment to the labor market. No, such people are not disproportionately white.

Programs which benefit the 'middle class' would be Social Security, Medicare, unemployment compensation, (in select circumstances) Medicaid, and FHA programs. They are not exclusive to the middle class and (with the qualified exception of Medicare and Medicaid financing of nursing homes), far more crucial to the well-being of wage earners than they are to the bourgeoisie. FHA was quite successful in promoting homeownership through innovative financing schemes, but the decisive benefits went not to the middle-class but to prosperous wage-earners, i.e. those between the 35th and the 65th percentile (and there are plenty of blacks in those strata). While we're at it, Medicare and Medicaid were instituted just 3 years before King died, and Medicaid has always been means-tested.

The FHA explicitly cut blacks out through redlining and yes the 30 year guaranteed mortgage went a long way towards building the American middle class.

"In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. It was something like keeping a person in prison for a number of years and suddenly discovering that that person is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. And you just go up to him and say, "Now you are free," but you don’t give him any bus fare to get to town. You don’t give him any money to get some clothes to put on his back or to get on his feet again in life.

Every court of jurisprudence would rise up against this, and yet this is the very thing that our nation did to the black man. It simply said, "You’re free," and it left him there penniless, illiterate, not knowing what to do. And the irony of it all is that at the same time the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor.

But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every years not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps."


The FHA explicitly cut blacks out through redlining and yes the 30 year guaranteed mortgage went a long way towards building the American middle class.

No, it engaged in underwriting. We've seen what happens in the last 15 years when you don't draw those red lines.

As for 'building the middle class', this is another social fantasy of partisan Democrats. The stratum of salaried employees and small business was not manufactured by the Roosevelt Administration. It existed in 1925 and it existed in 1955. It's proportionately larger than it was in 1925 (or in 1955) as farm populations have declined in importance and as service sector employment has replaced manufacturing and construction. Neither of these social phenomena have been a function of New Deal programs or anything like them.

As for the prosperity of the wage-earning element, improved prosperity is derived from process improvements and technological adaptations, not alphabet soup agencies or income-transfer programs. That's going to be enjoyed by economic actors at all skill levels. Blacks haven't been immiserated by technological developments (and are in comparison with the rest more affluent now than they were in 1960).

The FHA promoted innovations in housing finance, so you had fewer renters and more homeowners. That's agreeable for people who want to own their own home. Homeownership is neither necessary nor sufficient for prosperity. Manhattan is filled to the brim with extraordinarily affluent people who pay rent.

I'm worked in banking. You don't have to redline neighborhoods to establish lender ability to repay and you didn't in the 30s either. What we just saw in 2007 was institutions that failed to do even rudimentary due diligence (No Income No Job?). Don't blame on the CRA what can be explained by rank incompetence.
It is quite one thing to draw a salary. Quite another to direct it into an appreciating heritable asset. A class must be able to reproduce itself.

Maybe, maybe not.

Maybe they got the most "help" if only counting things like welfare cheques. If you only observe welfare cheques but ignore various forms of discrimination

But when no black man is hired until the last white man is occupied, which really and truly is how things work in some places, then this might be relevant as well in understanding how they might continue to lag behind at the same time as having a higher percentage in that group receive a monthly cheque which covers basic needs.

Heck even on the "welfare" basis they are still a distant second.

But when no black man is hired until the last white man is occupied,

Elevated black unemployment rates are a phenomenon which emerged after 1960.

Is that an accident of bad data or is there some explanation for that?

It's not bad data. Blacks worked for a living.

If there are any two groups in the US who genuinely can claim to have been shafted by the US government and US society, it's American Indians and blacks. It's not clear that the later help has been all that helpful, but the overt ethnic cleansing and enslavement were pretty obviously harmful.

Why haven't native Americans been mentioned in the study or the comments? Until now. They must be really inferior, what with their negligible contribution to the national economy and small presence in academia. Being the objects of extermination isn't nearly so bad as being made to work without wages so what's their excuse?

The extermination campaigns were occasional, mostly, there aren't many of them around because they didn't have many kids. During the 1800s, a time when both the Black and the White populations were having huge families, their population saw a gradual decline even when disease was not present. No one knows why. I've asked several historians about it, and they say, essentially "beats me."

Dead people don't have kids.

They weren't dead and they still have depressed fertility.

Not being allowed to leave reservations for most of US history might be related to their limited involvement (and therefore limited successes) outside of reserves.

There were no reservations prior to 1850, and, no, they were not as individuals imprisoned there.

There were no bar and chains, so no, they were not "imprisoned" while on reservations, which is not what I said.

Troll me, there was no shortage of Indians living off reservations in 1890.

I'm again going to point out that, whatever the statistical data shows, that there are lots of things correlated to intelligence, or the lack thereof. Why choose "race", whatever that means, an arbitrary collection of visible physical features to decide how to categorize people's intelligence level?

I think (hope) we all want a society where people are treated as individuals, not members of groups. Pointing out how you can group people according to skin color and infer other things about them based on skin color doesn't produce a society where people treat one another as individuals. We know that people will use these things as cognitive shortcuts to decide who they should hire, and thus it will be inevitable that intelligent black people will get treated as if they are the statistical average for black people regardless of how intelligent they actually are. They will not be treated as individuals.

Again, many things correlate to intelligence. You can't look someone in the face and tell if they had fetal alcohol syndrome or traumatic head injuries as a baby. You can see skin color. Is it really fair that only the visible markers get chosen as the things people use as shorthand for intelligence? If you're really interested in a society where people are treated as individuals, then there is no benefit to be had by loudly publicizing which visible markers are associated with which cognitive abilities.

What you seem to be advocating is evaluating individuals on the basis of intelligence, rather than racial groups as can be frequently detected on this site. Thus, per your thinking, we move along from discrimination by race to discrimination by intelligence, intelligism, as it were. People that don't seem to be as smart as others are inferior and less worthy, relegated to a lower place in society, just as a ball player that can't hit a curve ball will be doomed to AAA. This is just as reprehensible as racism.

Well, "intelligence" could be replaced by whatever skill or feature or ability is valued in the market. I'm saying that people should be treated as individuals by one another and not assumed to be better at math, or sports or painting picture, based on their appearance. Intelligence is one variable, there are others. Let the chips fall where they may, but try to make sure the dice are unbiased. The dice being not just government enforced discrimination, but how society treats people, independent of the government.

Seems like you're trying to say that there shouldn't be a "free market" in regards to race or other visual markers. Why a market for other markers (say like a British accent or a "woke" taste in fashion) and not others? What are you, a communist?

No, I'm saying it's stupid to judge a book by it's cover.
We should strive for a society where people aren't judged by their skin color. Because people can't choose their skin color.

So "market value" applies to humans just as it does to corn flakes, shampoo or a used Toyota? That must mean that the individual worth of a particular human is somehow related to monetary consideration. That at a given moment someone like Kanye West has a higher valuation than the nameless gnome that repaired the press that printed the Wall Street Journal this morning.

Well, in the labor market, yes, Kanye West, does, as a matter of emphirical fact, have a higher valuation than the nameless gmome that repaired the Wall Street Journal's press.

I'm simply responding to the complaint that "only" intelligence is valuable. Lots of different things are valuable, and are correlated with lots of other things, not all of which are as visible as skin color. I would prefer it if people's value wasn't pre-judged based on skin color because it's a marker that people can't control or change. We should all want a society where people are not assumed to be stupider or smarter or better at sports or singing, just because of the color of their skin.

Your market value is indeed positively correlated with your intelligence. There are many jobs that someone of average intelligence simply can't do well. The average person could not make it through medical school, law school, a hard science degree, or any kind of decent engineering program. That's not a moral failing, anymore than being 5'6" (and so pretty much incapable of ever making it as an NBA player) is a moral failing. But in a competitive market, the smart people are generally going to make more money than the dumb people.

"team play", for example, is difficult to evaluate using a standardized test.

Organizational and communications skills are other ones.

It seems obvious to some people that non-racial evaluation mechanisms for hiring would involve an intelligence test of some sort or another.

For most jobs, basically anyone is plenty smart enough to do it as long as they've had some previous exposure (school or workplace experience), and the main things that will stuff things up relates to how they work with people or their conscientiousness about their job and quality of interactions with co-workers.

Let's see you cut hair or fix my stopped up sink.

I'm busy. Maybe I can fit you in sometime next July ... and here's the phone number of someone start-up trainee I can recommend.

Yeah, I'm just saying we ought to want a society where people don't make assumptions about what skills other people have, or don't have, because of their skin color. I want a society where the occasional black kid who is brilliant at math has just as good a shot at getting into MIT and getting a post-doc position at Draper Labs.

Do we not already live in that world? Universities love smart black kids.

All individuals of all races should be treated and judged as individuals. Content of their character, and all that.

Our Progressive interlocutors, however, discriminate between certain sub-groups of people, and assume differences in economic outcomes suggest widespread discrimination and inherent moral inferiority of the average American, which can only be remedied by granting Progressives sweeping authority over all institutions of American life.

From my perspective, this is much less about satisfying the desires of basically racist internet folk, and much more about stymieing the wanna-be Pol Pots who call themselves Progressive/Woke/whatever.

Yes we had no racial discrimination at all before that awful Colin Kapernick stuck his beak in.

This response doesn't make you look insane at all. really.

If intelligence is a key determinant of success/income/education and intelligence is correlated with race, that means you will end up with some racial groups concentrated at the bottom of society. That doesn't tend to go over well, especially if the physical distinctions are dramatic. Do you think no will notice or care? You can idealistically say that people shouldn't care about group performance, but as an empirical matter they seem to care. Less successful groups will inevitably hate the more successful groups.

When I used to be a libertarian, I supported our policy of high Latin American immigration, figuring that even though it would lead to a large brown underclass that they wouldn't mind since their absolute standard of living would increase. But does anyone really think that brown people will be content with glaring underachievement? Of course not.

I'm less concerned about how people feel about group differences than I am about whether *individuals* have an equal shot in life, regardless of their skin color. Personally, I think there will always be a constant battle to get people to judge each other by their character instead of by skin color, because it's human nature to look for cognitive shortcuts, like "on average blacks are less intelligent". But that's why I think it's so important to NOT focus on statistical differences between "racial" categories.

As far as Latin American immigration is concerned, I really doubt that significant differences will persist beyond 2-3 generations. "Latin American" isn't even a real racial group.

Regarding Latin America, that experiment has already been done. In Latin America. The region is essentially a collection of failed multiracial societies.

There are still significant racial distinctions between the more European upper classes and the Amerindians. I would guess those on the European end of the spectrum will be absorbed into white America pretty easily, but I'm skeptical with the Amerindians. Most signs point to chronic low achievement.

The paper makes a two part argument:

1) Today's black-white income gap exists because of a skill gap and efficient skill discrimination not simply overt racial discrimination.
2) This present day black-white skill gap is a direct consequence of slavery and multi-generational educational exclusion.

The paper uses lots of data analysis to support the first point. The second point is made without any supporting data or experiment as a casual opinion driven armchair analysis. Note that in this formal economics research paper being cited by Tabarrok, the main argument of the paper is purely armchair analysis with no more analytic rigor than this comment section.

The first point is easy to agree with. The second point is not. There are at least several obvious follow on questions:

- Many present day US blacks have immigrated long after the days of slavery. Do they not have these skill gaps? Have they achieved full upward mobility parity?
- Slavery was predominant worldwide far beyond just the US. Are there similar persistent skill gaps elsewhere where slavery was practiced. Every living human has ancestors who were enslaved and were slavers, can any of this show a more convincing pattern of causation of slavery to generations of reduced skill.
- Compulsory childhood education wasn't widespread even among United States whites until ~1920. Most US whites experienced generations of educational exclusion as well. Most Chinese peasants have not had access to education until very recently. Is there any evidence that these other groups who experienced generations of educational exclusion have similar present day skill deficiencies?

Actually modern African immigrants are among the best educated group in the US.

As I commented up thread, there was probably some selection involved in which Africans got captured and sold as slaves. We do know that the ones whose families could afford it would ransom them back. So typically it would be the poorer ones who would be shipped. And probably if they were smart enough they could sometimes avoid capture in the first place.

Also immigration at ever stage involves selection. This is the single biggest factor in the "model minority" myth. If you were the worst of the worst you never made it to California from China.

Yeah, so voluntary immigration would select in favor of one set of traits, and involuntary immigration would select in favor of a different set.

So intraracial genetic differences explain outcome differences, you capitalist, boot-strapping pig?

My understanding was that it was on a sort of tribal basis.

Say, the king of Benin would not take slaves to sell from among his own people (perhaps not even his own prisoners?), but would raid other groups to take slaves which they would sell. This has got to effect the way the selection question would be viewed.

This actually ties in pretty close with a major theory about how West Africa ended up so under-developed, in particular compared to the periods of more advanced political and economic structures which existed at the time the Portuguese were first interacting with them (largely disrupted by the time later British observers had arrived). In short, the ruling class sustained their wealth and position based on these predatory practices, which meant that their power was sustained in a manner which contributed to the weakening, rather than strengthening, of capacity - both in terms of the direct effect of losing human capital and in less direct effect of having a system of rule which did not contribute to long-term potential.

Which then provides a pretty solid partial explanation (which can be paired with a great many others) for questions like "If Africans have similar genetic qualities to non-Africans, excluding quantities of skin pigment, then why are things so messed up there?"

I've seen some stats on Nigerian immigrants being highly educated. Studies of large numbers of Somalian immigrants to the US show the opposite: low education, low employment rates, and high crime. I'm skeptical of your claim as you present it that modern African immigrants as a whole are highly educated.


"African immigrants have considerably more education. About 38 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population, according to the MPI."

I'm not sure I would call a BA from an African university "the best education" in America

Refugees are less educated on average than doctoral researchers.

Well, average them all out and yes, they're highly credentialed. But from African universities.

A full complement of secondary education was not the mode in this country until the 1930s (though a year or two was the mode during the period running from 1900-1930, at least in cities). Ubiquitous primary schooling antedated that by at least two generations, and it was notionally compulsory (as a rule) by 1895 if not earlier most areas. State supported primary schooling you see in Britain from about 1870 and in the U.S. about 30 years earlier.

That sounds correct. You know more than I on that subject. However, the point stands, that even most whites haven't had generations of great education either. Most whites I know can trace go back two or three generations to kind quite extreme grinding poverty and lack of the advantages of advanced western lifestyles including educational opportunities.

If the treatment is not turning out so well then consider re-evaluating the diagnosis.

"in sharp contrast with the black earnings gap which largely reflected statistical discrimination based on skill gaps inherited from centuries of slavery and educational exclusion."

How is this conclusion "politically incorrect"...isn't it the basis for affirmative action?

It would be if the american political Establishment weren't so deathly afraid of doing anything to suggest that American history might have something to do with the current wealth distribution.

In fact JFK and LBJ ran in terror from the "historical inequity" justification and focused solely on contemporary discrimination.

MBITRW, Johnson Administration agencies were promoting preference schemes as early as 1966. The Griggs decision was handed down in 1971.

Yes, the whole thing is politically incorrect with a sentence at the end trying to salvage it

How does policy change if causes are genetic, vs cultural vs structural? Is there any? Does anyone address solutions of all three directions?

We might, for instance, redistribute police presence. Wealthy white neighborhoods may experience higher reaponse times, but lives would be saved. Disclaimer: high response times in inner city neighborhoods is racist. Disclaimer: suggesting low police response time in inner city neighborhoods (higher police presence) is racist. Disclaimer: white liberals value their emotional superiority over black lives.

I made this comment above, but it's buried in a longer thread of responses. I think there's an excessive focus on genetic transmission in this discussion.

The fact that US slaves were specifically banned from formal or informal education, and blocked even from educating themselves, seems important to me. Apart from that, the vast majority of slaves were engaged in labor that was very specific menial labor, so even in practical experience they had minimal transferable skills to other ways of making a living once slavery ended. With the propagation of Jim Crow laws and attitudes after the war, this combined lack of educational attainment/tradition and skills in black populations was perpetuated long beyond 1865.

I think there’s also something to be researched in the way ethnic communities either support or discourage the attainment of skills (and education to a lesser extent) and, from that, wealth and productivity. This is perhaps the mechanism for the lingering effects of the slavery-driven lack of skills and education. The Asian immigrants came from cultures and communities that put a high value on both education and on skills attainment. And those Asians who survived the discrimination in the US had to be extremely adaptable and savvy just to survive, so they would have been practicing their previous cultural/community norms to the nth degree. It would seem pretty obvious that a group of people who come from a background of skill adoption, and who have used that group trait to survive severe discrimination, would flourish once that discrimination ended.

TL;DR: The intergenerational transmission of skills and skills acquisition isn’t simply genetic. Group IQ is a complete red herring at worst, and only marginally related at best.

But it is the genetic component that has been the singular obsession of race scientists for centuries. We are still in Gobineau's world.

It's both inspiring and exhausting watching you try to get people to see that there are explanations other than a dressed-up "black people are genetically inferior."

But we are still in Gobineau's world, and people have so many ways to make his argument without believing they're making his argument.

In reality both the leftists and racists proclaim that IQ differences between demographics would mean that we should use harmful discrimination instead of say, more policing of certain neighborhoods to reduce the murder rate. People die because of your delicate feelings and cowardice. Shameful.

I don't think believing in racial equality kills people.

It may not be possible for you to be more incorrect, or actually wrong. US slaves were prohibited from acquiring literacy, not education, which are certainly not synonymous. We don't know the effectiveness of this prohibition but illiteracy was fairly common among lower class whites of the ante-bellum era as well. The stereotype of the southern plantation was that of a self-contained autonomous holding, much like a feudal manor was reality. Slaves, as well as whites, grew the food, milled the lumber, built the buildings, raised the livestock, broke the horses, dug the wells, did everything necessary to maintain the independence of the plantation. Slaves were much more than unspecialized cotton pickers and had to be. You're demonstrating an incredible lack of knowledge that negates your entire argument.

Many slaves were indeed skilled laborers particulars in the upper south. Most were not as slave populations tended to be concentrated in cash crop zones. There is a reason only a few headed north to seek their fortune once able. nd this "literacy vs education" hairsplitting is a tad precious.

"Slaves were much more than unspecialized cotton pickers and had to be."

Sure, but they were still, like Kevin said, "specifically banned from formal or informal education." And their descendants were often confined by law and practice, on the basis of their race, to low-wage, menial labor.

The point is, slaves and their descendants were actively prevented from acquiring wealth, which included being prevented from acquiring the skills that lead most reliably to wealth in America.

For the third time, specifically banning something doesn't mean it can't happen, see illegal drug use, speeding, bank robbery, etc. The difference between literacy and education is hardly hairsplitting, unless you're a typical elitist academic who has to hire someone to install their Venetian blinds. Everybody is actively prevented from acquiring wealth because capitalism is competitive. There are winners and losers. Only the parasitic nation/state can enforce redistribution of wealth outside of the competitive arena.

You're right, prohibiting people from doing something doesn't mean nobody will do the prohibited thing - some slaves did educate themselves despite the difficulty. But the point is it was a relatively effective barrier, which some ended up surmounting but most didn't. In other words, the fact that some got around the prohibition doesn't mean the prohibition was generally ineffective.

"Only the parasitic nation/state can enforce redistribution of wealth outside of the competitive arena."

Okay! So maybe slavery, which was forcefully supported by American governments since the founding, was the kind of "redistribution of wealth" that you're talking about...?

The reason things are prohibited is because they're being done. It's not illegal to inject toothpaste because no body does it. Ergo, some slave owners educated their property and other slave owners felt threatened by it. Perhaps you might say that slaves were "trained" rather than educated but that would be hair-splitting. For instance, a slave blacksmith, of which there were many, had to know about metal working, he had to be "educated" in the subject. It was in his owner's interest that he be a good blacksmith. It made him a more valuable possession.

“The reason things are prohibited is because they’re being done.”
Not necessarily. The people doing the prohibiting might want to *prevent* something from being done. Slaveowners rightly feared that slaves would educate themselves if not prevented from doing so, and so they prevented them by prohibiting it, both through the law and through threat of brutal punishment. Of course, prohibiting slaves from being formally educated was also thought of as morally right, which is another reason to prohibit something that’s not just “because [it’s] being done.”

And sure, some slaves learned technical skills like blacksmithing, tanning and leatherworking, carpentry, etc. But most didn’t, especially with the spread of mechanized cotton cultivation. And even the most skilled black blacksmith, tanner, or carpenter, whether before or after the Civil War, would have run into state-sanctioned discrimination throughout the South that would prevent them from using their skills to amass wealth with the same freedom as a white blacksmith, tanner, or carpenter.

Using your logic, the existence of the Freedmen’s Bureau suggests that the South tried to keep black people from full use of their newly-acquired freedom. And it did, pretty successfully! The Bureau was defunded like 5 years after the end of the war, and Jim Crow reigned until the 1960s.

But you’re right, some slaves did learn to be blacksmiths.

"And sure, some slaves learned technical skills like blacksmithing, tanning and leatherworking, carpentry, etc. But most didn’t,"

Your knowledge of the ante-bellum south could be written on the head of a pin with a magic marker.

So you're saying most slaves learned some craft like blacksmithing, and were able to use those skills to make money with the same ease as whites? If that's what you're saying, why not provide evidence?

You didn't answer the broader point, either, about the state-sanctioned discrimination that actively prevented capital accumulation black people in the South (not that it was easy in the North, but the forces preventing it were less explicit there).

The citizens of Cuba were 1. Forced to work, 2. Forbidden to leave, 3. Forbidden to assemble, speak against, or educate themselves about the dictatorship. But their literacy rate was high. If the ol' masa had just given the residents of his plantation books (except those which were anti-slavery (revolutionary)) we could read Trudeau's, Obama's, and these scumbag MR leftist totalitarian's eulogies today.

Haha wtf, it's like you're doing a racist free-writing exercise. "Ol' masa".

"It may not be possible for you to be more incorrect, or actually wrong." That statement betrays your insincerity in this discussion. I should respond in kind, with a "No, you're stupid!" but I'll give it one more try.

So US slaves were educated? By whom? Where? In what subjects and skills? I can't think of a single acceptable definition of 'education' that would fit with the experiences of US slaves.

Comparing their situation to lower class whites is laughable. There were schools available to most whites, and literacy was a coveted goal by many. Drop out rates were high, but there was some basic education for virtually all. And those who dropped out of school to work at home still had a form of informal education (how to build a house, animal husbandry, farming skills, etc) that was unavailable to slaves. Many left school to become apprenticed to a tradesman. More importantly, poor whites were part of the dominant society.

Do you want to do an apples to apples comparison? Why don't you compare the lives/education/skills/outcomes of lower-class whites with lower-class slaves, but also compare the outcomes of middle/upper class whites with middle/upper class slaves? Suddenly is sounds pretty ludicrous, doesn't it? What you're trying to argue, with your rose colored glasses, is that US slaves in the best of cases didn't have it that much worse than the most wretched of poor, lower class whites. Awesome.

Oh, yeah, and as to a small percentage of slaves having useful skills that should have helped them economically after emancipation? Read a little about Jim Crow and life in the south after the war. You really know nothing.

The argument that the legacy of slavery or Jim Crow somehow saps the abilities of today's blacks depends on some kind of unstated Lamarckian mechanism. For generations now, blacks in America have enjoyed educational opportunities that are not significantly worse than those of whites (see the Coleman report). Moreover, labor market returns to educational attainment are probably larger for blacks than whites. This, however, has not led to convergence in labor market outcomes between whites and blacks because of persistent skill differences between the two races. On the other hand, we have seen the labor market outcomes of Asians and whites converge -- because Asians don't have weaker skills.

If you want to argue for said Lamarckian mechanisms, you should specify what kind of evidence would strongly support their existence and, especially, what kind of evidence would falsify them.

What the hell, why do you all seem to understand human history only through century-old biological concepts? Why couldn't racism (e.g. the concerted effort under slavery, Black Codes, and Jim Crow, not to mention the way that the structural legacy of those systems shapes our modern society) be just as much an explanation for some "skills gap" between blacks and whites?

Maybe what I need to do is find some 19th-century European naturalist and just use his name to explain things, maybe then you'd be more convinced that racism can have real-world effects?

should be "concerted effort to prevent blacks from acquiring capital..."

"Racism" is not an explanation. It's just a word. If you want to try to explain something, you should put forth some kind of testable mechanism through which something that happened a 100 years ago would have an effect on people alive today.

It's more than just a word! What if I said "genetics is just a word"? Of course "racism" is a word, but it's a word for a complicated concept that I think is a much better explanation for the phenomena we're talking about than your myopic understanding of genetics.

So I have a question: what do you think of history? Do you think things that happened 100 years ago have an effect on the way we live now? World War I was happening 100 years ago today. Do you think, just because I can't conduct a randomized controlled trial on World War I, that we can't say it had certain definite impacts on the way the world is today?

WW1 surely has repercussions today, but probably not on psychological differences between individuals which is what is under discussion.

Genetics means the transmission of heritable factors across generations, which can be studied with established methods. Research incontrovertibly shows that at least in the developed world genetic differences are the predominant cause of individual differences across all classes of physical and mental phenotypes, and that the effect on the shared family/neighborhood environment on almost all phenotypes is minimal.

Racism cannot be, or at least hasn't been, operationalized in powerful research designs in the way genetics has been. The supposed effect of past racism on present outcomes in studies like the ones you cite is an assumption of the research design, not something that is tested against alternative explanations like the hereditarian one.

... and that the effect OF the shared family/neighborhood environment on almost all phenotypes is minimal

You can refer to my other comment for an explanation of why I think “race” as a genetic category makes no sense. The study you’ve cited doesn’t go to proving that it does make sense – it suggests that many traits (including cognitive traits) have a strong genetic component, but does not at all suggest that the genes that contribute to those traits overlap with the genes that affect appearance. It also, of course, does not suggest how the genes that determine appearance might be connected to the races that manifest themselves in certain appearances - to do so would be to engage in unscientific speculation.

I also refer you to the “reservations” section of this piece discussing the study: https://www.biosciencetechnology.com/article/2015/05/depth-look-historys-largest-genetic-twin-study. I need to note that both the authors themselves and the more critical expert quoted in the piece agree that most traits are to a significant extent (between 30% and 50%) determined by non-genetic factors. That’s not inconsistent with my view, and it wouldn’t be inconsistent with my view even if traits were 100% heritable!

The social outcomes I’m saying can be tied most easily to racism (education levels, income levels, family wealth, disease prevalence, geographic concentration to disproportionately poor areas, etc., etc.) include among them more than just heritable traits. You’re saying black Americans inherited higher levels of exposure to pollutants that cause asthma, inherited higher blood lead levels, inherited their confinement by policy and practice to areas of the country that are hardest-hit in every economic downturn?

But then, you probably those down to the fact that genetics have caused black Americans to express certain traits that have caused them to disproportionately end up in places where they will be exposed to those negative impacts.

You also need to show that the cognitive traits measured in this study and other studies correlate to the specific social outcomes that I’m saying are best explained by slavery, racism, and history. Right now all you’ve got is “certain traits are heritable to a certain extent,” not “there are races of people, those races can be reliably determined by genetics despite being defined socially solely by appearance, those races reliably show differences in traits and social outcomes that can be reliably traced to specific genes, and the differences in traits and social outcomes exist largely because of those genetic effects and not any kind of environmental, social, and/or historical structures.”

What would it take for you to believe that race is a meaningful genetic category? Or is this another one of those faith-based arguments of yours which no amount of data can refute?

Genomic research shows that in the US and Taiwan there's a 99.9% correspondence between self-identified race and genetic clusters. This is actually a higher correspondence than that between sex chromosomes and self-identified gender. I assume you also think that it's absurd to believe that there are biological males and females in the human species?

I need to note that both the authors themselves and the more critical expert quoted in the piece agree that most traits are to a significant extent (between 30% and 50%) determined by non-genetic factors.

While the study found an average split of 50% genes/50% environment, "environment" in this context does not mainly mean "education levels, income levels, family wealth, disease prevalence, geographic concentration to disproportionately poor areas, etc." As I said, the study found that the shared family environment, which includes the factors you mention, has little effect on most phenotypes, such as IQ and personality. The "environment" they talk about is mainly a residual component which includes all influences that cannot be attributed to genes or the shared environment. A major part of that 50% environmental influence is in fact measurement error. If measurement error, which is just an experimental artifact, had been partialed out of the results, the study would have shown heredity to be an even stronger influence than 50% on the average.

But then, you probably those down to the fact that genetics have caused black Americans to express certain traits that have caused them to disproportionately end up in places where they will be exposed to those negative impacts.

Finally, you're starting to get it! Given that absolutely everything is heritable, it means that where you end up living, for example, is far from independent of your genetic propensities. For this reason, any analysis that tries to explain individuals' outcomes by reference to environmental conditions that they have faced is completely uninformative if there is no attempt to control for genetic differences.

Here's a really good study of differences in intergenerational economic mobility between white and black Americans. It shows that essentially all racial mobility differences (between childhood home and middle age) can be explained by IQ measured in adolescence. I could present you a lot of research in this vein, but given that you reject all evidence that contradicts your beliefs, what would be the point of my doing that?

Lol, all I did was admit what you're not willing to: that my perspective is colored by my experiences and biases. In my case, the bias is toward believing in the equality of all people. Caught me red-handed.

Nothing I say will convince you (despite your "show me the evidence!" posture, which is always adopted by credulous "human biodiversity" hacks), and nothing you say will convince me. I've explained why race as a biological category has no explanatory power.

Yours is a poisonous and unscientific ideology, which misinterprets and wildly overinterprets the results of legitimate science. I hope that it remains confined to the shadows of the world's political and academic institutions.

To quote from the study cited:
"Consistent with previous studies linking AFQT scores to racial differences in adult outcomes (for example, Neal and Johnson, 1996; Cameron and Heckman, 2001), I do not interpret these scores as measuring innate endowments but rather as reflecting the accumulated differences in family background and other influences that are manifested in test scores."

Jesus Christ. But I'm sure this guy is either a "race realist" too scared for his career to tell the truth, or a sap like me.

You can flail and call names as much as you want, but that doesn't make your position any less weak. You have not "explained" anything, you have just asserted things in direct contradiction with facts.

As to Mazumder's etiological claims, I'm sure they're to some extent about CYA, but he's an economist, so it's not surprising that he doesn't know much about behavioral genetics and psychometrics.

People like you make me despair.

I'm most curious about whether Hilger really believes that "centuries of slavery" garbage or if he just tacked it on at the end to keep from getting blacklisted from academia.

Anyway, as others have commented, that comment at the end makes it fairly "par for the course" mainstream thinking; not sure what's so controversial about it. Truly controversial would be admitting that there's a large genetic component, but, again, that would get him blacklisted fairly quickly.

Competent scientists do not "admit" things for which there is no evidence.

Come onnnnn, slavery and racism and the intergenerational effects of both are all real.

Haha oops, that was supposed to respond to DD000, but it could serve as a response to every other comment on this post.

What's more likely:

Some mysterious (and yet to be identified) force due to "intergenerational effects" of slavery is causing African Americans to underperform educationally and economically.


Individuals with African ancestry have lower mean human capital due to some genetic differences which result in lower potential IQ on average.

Note that you see ethnic differences in potential IQ across the world, regardless of history of enslavement, colonization, etc.

The GDP/cap vs. PISA/TIMMS correlation chart is literally impossible to explain without some sort of genetic reasoning. Especially due to the oil state / communist legacy outliers. There is literally no explanation for it other than different ethnic groups have different potential max human capital

How is it mysterious that spending most of american history directly trying to create a permanent black servant class caused inter-generational poverty?

Odd that Hispanics also underperform significantly as well, no?

It must be some wacky coincidence that within the US, people of a certain ethnic background perform astonishingly close to their ethnic native country.

Again, explain the direct causality between history and the underperformance of certain ethnic groups in the US. Make sure you take into account minority groups that faced similar challenges but now perform extremely well AND the fact that minority groups, regardless of how long they've been in the US (assuming no intermarriage) perform at the same level, and in the same pecking order, as that of their ethnic native countries.

Yes it is odd how the severity of historical disenfranchisement seems to correlate so well with current income gaps too.

Yes the Japanese have really had a hard time bouncing back in America

The first one is more likely.

Why don't you go ahead and take me down the rabbit hole of logic that leads from a "GDP/cap vs. PISA/TIMMS correlation chart" to global racial hierarchy? Isn't the whole point of that chart that scores on the test correlate with GDP?

Of course, I'm sure you believe GDP differences are also explained by different groups of people having "different potential max human capital," so maybe that's the key.

So - just so I have this straight - you believe that intelligence is the one human characteristic, that unlike any other, sees zero variance between ethnic groups. This is believable to you.

GDP per capita has extremely strong correlation with standardized test scores across a population. The key outliers are 1. Middle East oil states (which see high wealth despite middling test scores) and 2. Ex-communist states (which see higher test scores than their wealth would suggest - in line with their similarly ethnic, non-socialist neighbors). This literally can't be explained if the causal relationship was wealth -> intelligence. It makes perfect sense if the causal relationship is intelligence -> wealth

I think intelligence is probably too hard to measure for us to ever be able to reasonably say “black people are dumber than white people so policy based on their assumed inferiority is morally okay,” which, no matter how it’s dressed up, is exactly what you believe. I think that, even if intelligence could be measured that reliably, IQ would still be a bad measure of intelligence. I think that even if IQ were a good measure of intelligence, its variance across countries would not mean what you think it means. And I think that your explanation for the way IQ and PISA scores and TIMMS scores vary across countries is pretty much a just-so story (though you probably think the same thing about my explanations).

Now that we know more about what I think, can you at least link me to a version of the chart that you’re saying demonstrates your point? Like, can you identify the specific ex-communist states you're talking about, and which “similarly ethnic, non-socialist” states they compare to?

I still don't see how you're determining the causal relationship is definitely intelligence (lol) -> wealth, just by citing a correlation between GDP and test scores and noting that there are 2 types of outliers. So Singapore scores higher than Vietnam on the TIMSS, and has a higher GDP per capita. Does that mean Singaporeans are more innately intelligent??

I don’t want you to take my dismissal of PISA when used for your purposes as a dismissal of the test for other purposes. Tests like the PISA and TIMSS were not designed to measure “ethnic difference” across arbitrarily defined ethnic groups, but rather to estimate the performance of different countries’ education system and policies. So an analysis like this one (http://www.epi.org/publication/us-student-performance-testing/), for example, is one that I can get behind. Unlike your use of the data, it acknowledges and attempts to explain tendencies that seem at odds with each other or with popular perception (e.g. that the most disadvantaged Finnish students’ scores have been trending down, while the most disadvantaged American students’ scores have been trending up).

What I don’t like is the use of these tests to make broad-brush conclusions about “ethnic groups” whose boundaries seem to shift with the winds.

Advocatus Diaboli- Were it the case that there are differences in distribution of IQ (or whatever is measured by standardized tests) among different ethnicities/races, wouldn't policy that assumes parity between these different groups always end up short changing the group with the lower median? Alternatively, isn't it actually the case that right now, there are ethnicities/races in the US whose members are disproportionately members of the working class? Isn't policy that refuses to acknowledge that reality (i.e. meritocracy, no representation of working class professions among elected officials) essentially policy that amounts to the same thing as treating "black people as [less worthy] than white people so policy based on their assumed inferiority is morally okay?"

"Ex-communist states (which see higher test scores than their wealth would suggest – in line with their similarly ethnic, non-socialist neighbors)"

Not at all. A lot of the data on "national IQ" that I would see around the internet several years ago was of exceedingly poor quality but if we look at 2012 PISA scores, there is quite a lot of variation among middle income countries not accounted for by any crude theory of race-IQ differences. It is, however, exactly what one would expect if one is familiar with the fact that test score performance depends on many factors such as school quality, early childhood nutrition, lack of exposure to lead, etc. that are all correlated with the quality of governance. For instance, Argentina is a country made up mostly of Western European immigrants but performed far below the Western European average.

The obvious model to consider instead is one where various levels of state dysfunction lead to both poverty and low test scores.

@P Burgos:
Maybe! But I’ve mostly been arguing that it’s morally and scientifically wrong to consider certain, arbitrarily-defined “ethnic groups” to be less intelligent than others. So I’m not super excited to consider the hypothetical, since it seems like a good few people here do believe its premise, which I think is flawed and has the potential to hurt people I care about. Not to mention the harm it’s caused in the past.

But you’re right! Being generous, I can say that I and the people I’m arguing with agree that there are socioeconomic differences between different “ethnic groups” in the United States. For example, like you say, black Americans as a group are disproportionately represented among low-wage workers.

But I don’t think that a policy meant to address that (e.g. a higher minimum wage, or a “baby bond” program) is equivalent to assuming the inferiority of the people who benefit from it. All it has to assume is that they’re (relatively) on the losing end of our social structure – they benefit from the policy by virtue of *that* status, not by virtue of some innate inferiority that can only be compensated for with policy.

This response, the idea that policy to actively reduce racial inequality must somehow be admitting to the inferiority of the people who are worse-off because of racial inequality, is one I’ve often seen but never quite understood.

Maybe I misread your response!

Yep! I wasn’t being snarky when I responded to DD000’s question about likelihoods – even if you’re not someone who sees it as morally important to defend racial equality as a fundamental principle, other explanations (particular economic, political, and social structures, and their history) seem much more likely explanations for observed “ethnic difference” than a concept of genetics that somehow explains all human difference.

If we assume that there is zero racism in the USA, then racism is not a very large part of the explanation (zero, in fact).

It is perhaps the most obvious fact of American life that hardly anyone can accept. It's like global warming times 10000.

You mean the variation in IQ between different genetic populations?

Hmmm I don't wanna speak for them but I'm gonna say they're referring to "slavery and racism and the intergenerational effects of both."

Why are people so impressed with IQ as an explanation?? I don't get it, like it's the key to American history or something. "Ignore the slavery and the array of policies and practices preventing slaves and their descendants from acquiring physical and human capital, those have no effect. The IQ is the real story!"

You probably think the same thing about racism though, I guess. I'm gonna leave a longer response to your other question.

Because the "muh slavery" argument doesn't offer a single causal explanation AND it doesn't explain the exact same ethnic pattern you see across the entire freaking globe

Assuming continents are ethnicities . Which they are not.

If they focused on SAT scores it would be patently obvious that it's related to education.

So the discussion of IQ facilitates a process of delusion where they can pretend that education and results on standardized tests are not related, for the fact that no one in education uses the IQ test (normally, you'd think that this would not reflect well on the assumed relevance of the test ... ).

@Troll - lowest income bracket white (and so obviously Asian) population outscores the highest income bracket black population on the SATs. Would love to see your explanation there!

@Troll – lowest income bracket white (and so obviously Asian) population outscores the highest income bracket black population on the SATs.

You fancy whites earning at the 5th percentile are outperforming blacks earning at the 95th percentile? It does occur to you that you're telling everyone that the tests you're alluding to are pretty worthless for predicting market outcomes, does it not?

Links to data please.

SAT, income and race: http://www.jbhe.com/latest/news/1-22-09/satracialgapfigure.gif

By the way, the SAT is an ordinary IQ test. Whether a test is an IQ test depends simply on whether it consists of items belonging to the domain of intelligence test items:

"An item belongs to the universe of intelligence test items if and only if its domain asks about an objective rule, and its range is ordered from very right to very wrong with respect to that rule [...] There are three major kinds of objective rules: logical (including mathematical), scientific (experimental, factual), and semantic (dictionary). In each of
these cases, an outside body of experts decides what the (current) right answer is.
(Guttman & Levy 1991)

Okay, so someone must have done some research on these topics and published some results, right?

You’re right, someone has!

Here’s a Boston Globe piece summarizing some researchers’ work correlating slavery with racial inequality today: https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/08/23/where-slavery-thrived-inequality-rules-today/iF5zgFsXncPoYmYCMMs67J/story.html

Here’s a paper, representative of others in a similar vein that you can find pretty easily, suggesting slavery’s major negative lasting impact was on the formation of human capital among slaves: http://voxeu.org/article/historical-roots-inequality-evidence-slavery-us

(here’s one that does the same thing, but also comparing the US to other countries that were part of the Atlantic slave trade): http://wol.iza.org/articles/slavery-racial-inequality-and-education.pdf

A really interesting report is this one: http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/412839-The-Moynihan-Report-Revisited.PDF. It's a revisiting of the famous Moynihan Report from 1965. Both the original report and this revisiting are good one-stop-shops for summaries of the modern effects of discrimination, though there's plenty to disagree with in both. Their citations are also full of information.

I can give the names of some books, too, but I don't want to just keep throwing things at you.

All of those studies are consistent with the view that today's racial differences are genetic differences manifesting themselves in a broadly meritocratic society.

All of them! How do you figure that?

Is there anything that would convince you that black people might not be inferior, or do you just enjoy believing it that much?

HBD explanations are readily testable: http://humanvarieties.org/2013/03/29/cryptic-admixture-mixed-race-siblings-social-outcomes/

What about you? What would convince you that race differences in life outcomes are not primarily due to racism or discrimination?

"All of them! How do you figure that?"

The studies are correlational and don't control for genetic differences.

Your suspicion is right, it would take a lot to convince me to adopt an ideology that has justified the torture, enslavement, and eradication of tens of millions of people in the last few centuries, and that would justify the ongoing oppression of people I love.

Maybe I'm just being too emotional :P

That blog post you linked amounts to saying "siblings are related!" and "if only we could measure 'European' and 'African' traits with more accuracy, we'd be able to conduct studies to prove our point that we can't now!" It cites studies from Brazil that support my view (darker-skinned siblings in the same family performed fared worse on measures of scholastic achievement) and complains that the authors didn't stop to ask, "maybe the whiter kids were just smarter!"

The problem is, that would have made no sense in context: the studies are explicitly studies of the effect of parents' *perception* of their children's race. The studies did not, as would be required to make the conclusions the blog wants to make, establish an objective skin-color scale or genetic test and use that to determine race. It did not do this, I assume, because "race" as a social category is determined by more than just skin color and genetic makeup, and the "race" of a person can vary significantly by their social context. Someone who is "white" in Cuba or Brazil might not be "white" in the United States, so for a study to determine the effect of race within one family, it has to concern itself with the family's *perception* of the race of individual family members, rather than an arbitrary collection of genes that somehow make a person more or less "European" or "African."

Race makes no sense, and explains nothing, in the absence of a social context.

This gets at the fatal flaw of the post you cite and your position in general: it assumes the genetic relevance of the human social categories "European" and "African". The blog even concedes that skin color is determined by a relatively small portion of the genome, but to maintain the internal logic of the racialist position it has to then assert that *other* appearance traits are controlled for by a larger portion of the genome, which is both trivially true (of course more traits will be affected by more genes) and doesn't do anything to substantiate the supposed link between genes related to *intelligence* (to the extent that those can be identified, i.e., not at all) and genes related to *appearance*.

So, I guess I'd have to be convinced that there are biological "races," and that the genes that determine these "races" also play some role in determining a wide range of human characteristics. But neither of those things is true, so...

You missed my point. You asked if anything would convince me to change my views. I linked to an article discussing a study design that offers a definitive test of the hereditarian explanation of racial differences (at least in the US context). That study can be done; it's just a matter of having the will and the funding for it.

The point of using admixture mapping in a sibling study is that it cleanly separates the social and genetic aspects of racial identity. I haven't read the Brazilian study, but if full siblings that differ in racial appearance also differ in human capital characteristics, then it's good evidence that racial associations with human capital are, at least partly, caused by social experiences rather than genetic differences. Note, however, that, as mentioned in the article, the opposite has been observed in the US: skin color is associated with human capital between families but not within families, suggesting that human capital is associated with race due to genetic rather than social reasons.

In contrast to my falsifiable view of race differences, you admit that your beliefs regarding this issue are unfalsifiable and essentially religious: you believe that the world is fundamentally fair and just and that the fates of individuals and peoples, good and bad, are independent of their genetic characteristics.

I can also provide more historical sources, if you'd prefer that. I just thought, reading your other comments, that you were looking for more something with numbers more than narrative...

Theory: people who spend years' of savings to cross oceans, for the purpose of making money, in the steamliner age, are more likely to pass on preferences for hard work and economic (and educational) advancement than those brought in chains.

This theory is primarily based on the notion that people who cross oceans for the purpose of economic success will then proceed to take steps consistent with their original reason for crossing those oceans.

Admittedly, this theory does not provide a definitive answer on numerous unrelated things often related to racially prejudiced mindsets, but it does provide an easily understood explanation for at least some of the observed difference which does not resort to assumptions about the genetic qualities of different identifiable groups within the human race.

So your argument is that black people are genetically and/or culturally lazy and unambitious, but NOT lower IQ?

No, that's what you said.

Excellent job at twisting a positive statement about one group into a negative statement about the other. Very classy.

There's this theory, as we are always reminded when discussing the effects of tax incidence, that people don't try as hard when the prospects of gain or success are lower. Of course, this argument is only relevant when discussing how to keep more money in the pockets of the wealthy and is completely irrelevant to incentives to try really hard to climb out of poverty.

Maybe I can put in in terms you can understand? Illegal immigration reduces the expected gains from efforts among existing populations, therefore reducing their incentive to succeed. This negatively affects poor white Americans who compete with those vile illegal rapist immigrants, by virtue of reducing the expected gains from various types of effort.

I theorize that similar logic can be extended to other people.

How hard would you work for $1?

Most people in this world are satisficers, not optimizers, and their ambitions are quite circumscribed. I recall one office in which I worked which had a corps of black women, some of whom had considerable seniority. They did not apply for the promotions which came up and one of them gave up a supervisory position she had been implored to take. It was not a social role they wanted to have (in that particular context). The security staff had a black guy in a leadership position, but he was a union steward, not a supervisor. The housekeeping staff had salaried supervisors who were black; so were most of their staff. There are a lot of blacks in the military, but I do wonder if blacks in civilian bourgeois jobs tend more to be professionals rather than managers.

"which does not resort to assumptions about the genetic qualities of different identifiable groups within the human race"

The mental gymnastics required to dodge any semblance of discussion around differences in human ethnic groups is outstanding. There's a few posters here who - it seems like - would exhaust literally every argument in the world before even daring to suggest that intelligence, as with every single other human characteristic, has ethnic variance. Some here, who no doubt consider themselves science-minded, would sooner evoke Ancient Aliens.

No mental gymnastics are required. It is very simple. I can tell that they LOOK different from me, and more different than people with whom I share ancestry. But, this ability to see that their faces are more different from faces that I am more closely related to does not lead me to believe that I have superhuman ability to discern all the rest of their genetic properties, whether as individuals or in looking at averages across identifiable groups.

The careful use of language is not driven by mental gymnastics, but rather the presence of folks such as yourself who are eager to manipulate other people's words to have entirely different meaning from what they actually say.


The illiteracy rate among blacks in 1870 was 80%. Among whites it was 11.5%

By 1900, the black illiteracy rate had fallen to 44%. It wasn't until the 1950s that black illiteracy rates fell into the single digits. We can blame poor quality, segregated schools in the rural southern states for that.

Segregation does not just happen in the South.

See the NYT article from Sept. 2016 (I can't put links in my comments, for some reason.)

Racial Segregation in New York Schools Starts With Pre-K, Report Finds

"From elementary through high school, New York City children tend to go to school with others similar to themselves, in one of the country’s most racially segregated systems.

"Turns out that racial segregation is an issue in prekindergarten, too."

Voluntary segregation is rather different from government-enforced segregation

Keep in mind the illiteracy rate would be that characteristic of an adult of median age. In 1870, you're assessing a population of which > 90% were born into slavery. The 1900 figure would be most characteristic of those born at the beginning of the post-bellum era. A 1955 assessment would be characteristic of those born ca. WWi. If you're traveling the distance from a 5-to-4 ratio to a 10-1 ratio in 50-birth cohorts, that's not bad.

No no the rules say we have to blame IQ or culture or whatever the racialist catch phrase of the day is.

Alesis - since you're so confident in your beliefs - will you take the following long term bets with me?

In 15 years, the lowest income bracket Asian American population will still score higher than the highest income bracket black American population on the SAT

In 40 years, there will not be a single African country (w population > 5 mm) in the top 25 in GDP / Capita (PPP). China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan will all be in the top 25

In 50 years, East Asian countries / regions will retain at least 4 of the top 5 spots on the PISA math and reading (they currently have all 5 for both)

Try a relevant time frame. China was the "sick man of Asia" for roughly 100 years. African Americans were systematically impoverished for about 200.

See you in 2200

At least give me a counter.

How about this: In 30 years, Vietnam's GDP per Capita (currently ~$6,000) will be higher than that of Botswana (currently ~$16,000). I'll give you 2:1 odds

China's history included periods of economic and scientific success prior to its recent growth. Africa's history lacks similar periods.

Yes no one can name any innovative African civilizations....

D000 -

Are you predicting that a coastal country on the trade route between the two largest economies on the planet wlil perform better than a landlocked country surrounded by poor neighbours which specializes in extraction of a non-renewable resource?

Must be the genes ...

@Troll - instead of snark, why not provide a counter? I'm trying to make my beliefs falsifiable. I don't see you doing the same.

With no information other than "has access to ports - yes/no" and "cost to transport a shipping container to USA, EU or China", it is very easy to predict that Vietnam will grow much faster than Botswana.

The fact of an outcome yes/no coming to pass does not mean that a proposed explanation for an outcome is correct for the fact that the outcome is observed.

Culture might be relevant.

I'm not saying people have to change. But if there is not high esteem for academic achievement, in a society where academic achievement is the main barrier to success, this will reduce access to opportunity.

The question should be "why do African Americans tend to place lower value on education and can/should we/they do anything about it?" not "is ti insulting to suggest that African American children spend less time doing their homework or cut class more often?"

The problem might be that progress on these fronts would feel to many people like caving into a capitalist system that primarily sees them as tools for profit.

It could feel like telling a wage slave "just work harder harder harder and it will be better", and meanwhile they observe low returns to their efforts while the numbers of billionnaires expand rapidly with every passing year.

Look at it this way. What about African American culture is not directly related to their centuries of dispossession in this country?

Culture is as much effect as cause.

I think that's important.

In terms of the "cause" of that, I refer to the simple economic principle that people apply stronger effort when they can obtain higher rewards. This is the basic logic of why we cannot tax rich people too much because they will stop trying. I'm one of those people who believe that this logic also applies to people who are not wealthy.

So the story is then "in a context of systemic discrimination, it would not be surprising to see people try less hard when any amount of effort is likely to result in lower benefits compared to the other group" - and then, that this becomes somewhat culturally entrenched over time.

It's not the whole story, and surely there are lots of caveats and exceptions and other possible ways things COULD go, but it seems pretty relevant to me.

There is a lot about human population genetics that I don't know. How African are American blacks? How European are White people? I ask the last question because a friend with deep Irish roots found that he had 16% African genes on one of those ancestry test sites; it turns out that the Vikings brought Africans to Ireland in the ninth century. Are Asians genetically uniform? China is pretty big, and some diversity within China and variations from the Japanese seem predictable.

Is "african" even a coherent genetic category? All signs point to "no"

African Americans are 80% West African, 20% European, on the average. White Americans are very close to 100% European. Your friend's black ancestry, if genuine, is of a much more recent vintage than the Viking age.

Since changing culture and eugenics are both "racist" the only option left is massive wealth distribution under the auspices of delusional pseudoscience. Checkmate!

Average US blacks have lower IQs at age 18 or 28 or even 8, than average US Asians, or than average US whites.

This is IQ race denial by Democrats, tho at times they are fast to claim how childhood poverty stunts IQ -- if one side is "explaining" something, there is an implicit agreement about that something.

Before we can agree that terrible slavery and poverty have helped to make black IQs lower, we have to admit that they are lower. Harvard & Stanford SAT test scores are a reasonable proxy for IQ, and are much lower for blacks.

But each person should be judged on their own behavior, not racial average.

In the last 50 years, the Dem enabled reward schemes supporting single mothers has resulted in the disastrous 70% of black kids growing up without their bio parents being married. I'd guess that this has a more negative effect on IQs than any other environmental influence.

Correction: have lower IQs get lower scores on IQ tests.

Your wording implies it as an immutable property. Like any test, an IQ test can be studied for and is generally related to education.

Show evidence of this. Good luck.

The approved explanation is that all races have equal potential achievement and any deviation must be due to the level of privilege or oppression that a group has suffered. But if you look at the relative success of different races (in the US: Jews, Asians, Whites, Hispanics, Blacks), you see that this simply doesn't explain the observed variation very well. Jews obviously have faced significant oppression, yet are high achieving. Asians also, as argued here. The only way to salvage the official story is to assume the premise and then offer a forced view of the history to match the observed performance of the different groups. Thus the oppressions of Jews and Asians are just water under the bridge, but so uniquely severe was the oppression of Blacks and Mexicans that they appear to have a permanent handicap.

No one's oppression (in this country) comes close to what black people have had to deal with. Not Jews, Asians, Latinos, or anyone else. Why this is so hard for some people to just accept is honestly puzzling to me.

Do asians have an easier time in our society than whites? Other explanations... genetics: racist, culture: racist, immigrant selection(intra-racial variation): capitalist (poor people are just unlucky).

I'm saddened there is so much lumping of things as "genetic" when it could be parenting practices/norms in the first couple years. The way we treat babies matters and there are disparities among groups when data is amalgamated.

These are uncomfortable discussions. I'd prefer we focus on better parenting practices regardless of the tiny change in our DNA which causes difference in melanin.

***Politically incorrect joke: Don't many underachieving African-Americans today have the genetics of violent slave owners in them? I blame the aggressive whities who were "ok" with slave owning for tainting their genetic pool. Of course, the white progeny of those fools had such a large inheritance as to mitigate the negatives.

Alex gets a post with 500+ comments! I knew he had it in him! Too bad he didn't get in a young-men-playing-video-games-in-their-mom's-basement angle in or this would go to 1000+...

How come there is no inclusion of ACE scores, or something close to it?

There's no upward mobility. Only a regression towards a natural status when oppression / suppression is reduced / removed.

Asian Americans are still discriminated against. The Bamboo Ceiling still exists.

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