The evolution of one person’s views on racial differences in intelligence

For newer readers who may not have read it, I highly recommend my article, “My Views on Race and Intelligence.” In this long essay, which I drafted in 1995 but did not publish until 2003, I recount the ten-year-long intellectual journey that led me to the truth that there are inherent racial differences in civilizational ability, particularly between blacks and whites. As I explain, the reason the process took me so long was that

the question of race and intelligence does not consist of just one idea, it consists of a constellation of ideas, which need to be grasped one at a time until the larger scene comes into view.

Of course some people have understood this truth from the moment they began to reflect on race differences. But we don’t all start from the same place and perspective.

In last week’s entry, “Our racist universe,” I recommended the article to Jay P. As he explains below, he, like me, had a mentally slow relative, and this experience helped him understand the reality of IQ differences and how they relate to race.

Jay P. writes:

Thank you for directing me to your fascinating article. I can’t help hoping that many of the personal observations you relate in it will be the subject of serious research in our lifetimes, as the genetic basis of racial differences in intelligence finally becomes so well established that only the willfully blind can dispute their existence.

Your recollection of your uncle brought to mind my own experiences with one of my wife’s sisters (“Linda”). Some years ago, my mother-in-law told me that Linda had a tested IQ in the mid-70s. Since my mother-in-law died in 2002, my wife and her other sisters have had to manage (for lack of a better term) Linda’s life, and Linda has lived with us for several long stretches, during which I have had the opportunity to observe first-hand how one dull but not obviously disabled person deals with the world.

She holds a job that involves simple repetitive tasks (putting products in boxes and the like). She is able to make small talk and seems normal to most people in most situations. She was briefly married to an alcoholic and has one son, who was mainly raised by my mother-in-law and has intelligence well above average. For a long time, I did not realize how slow Linda truly is.

She cannot count change, read a clock face, or learn how to operate a microwave oven. As I recall, it took her four attempts to pass the test for a driver’s license. She reads at a very rudimentary level. In the store, she buys products based on the appearance of the packaging; if the packaging changes, it’s often impossible to persuade her that the underlying product is the same. In general, she can’t follow any reasoning that takes more than one or two steps from what’s directly in front of her.

Most interesting (and maddening) is that she is highly suspicious and frequently concludes from her surroundings that she is being cheated, insulted, or deceived in some fundamental way. When she hears conversations that she doesn’t understand, especially on the subject of money or health, she believes that they are about her. She insists that she understands what is being discussed and that her misinterpretation is correct.

As I put my experience with Linda together with The Bell Curve and other resources on group differences in IQ, and on how IQ is correlated with basic life competency, the problems we see in majority-black neighborhoods, cities, and countries became unsurprising. The data show that 20 percent of American blacks are no smarter than Linda. While Linda is admittedly a data set of only one, and surely has idiosyncrasies that are not common to people of her intelligence, the magnitude of her limitations—notwithstanding her generally normal appearance—has helped me to realize what we’re facing in terms of race relations in this country. A fifth of blacks, as opposed to a twentieth of whites, is a Linda or worse when it comes to the ability to comprehend the world.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 03, 2012 08:08 PM | Send

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