Talk:Race and intelligence
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Arbitration Ruling on Race and Intelligence
The article Race and intelligence, along with other articles relating to the area of conflict (namely, the intersection of race/ethnicity and human abilities and behaviour, broadly construed), is currently subject to active arbitration remedies, described in a 2010 Arbitration Committee case where the articulated principles included:
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Is there really a scientific consensus that there is no evidence for a genetic link between race and intelligence?
Yes, and for a number of reasons. Primarily:
Isn't it true that different races have different average IQ test scores?
On average and in certain contexts, yes, though these differences have fluctuated and in many cases steadily decreased over time. Crucially, the existence of such average differences today does not mean what racialists have asserted that it means (i.e. that races can be ranked according to their genetic predisposition for intelligence). Most IQ test data comes from North America and Europe, where non-White individuals represent ethnic minorities and often carry systemic burdens which are known to affect test performance. Studies which purport to compare the IQ averages of various nations are considered methodologically dubious and extremely unreliable. Further, important discoveries in the past several decades, such as the Flynn effect and the steady narrowing of the gap between low-scoring and high-scoring groups, as well as the ways in which disparities such as access to prenatal care and early childhood education affect IQ, have led to an understanding that environmental factors are sufficient to account for observed between-group differences.
And isn't IQ a measure of intelligence?
Not exactly. IQ tests are designed to measure intelligence, but it is widely acknowledged that they measure only a very limited range of an individual's cognitive capacity. They do not measure mental adaptability or creativity, for example. You can read more about the limitations of IQ measurements here. These caveats need to be kept in mind when extrapolating from IQ measurements to statements about intelligence. But even if we were to take IQ to be a measure of intelligence, there would still be no good reason to assert a genetic link between race and intelligence (for all the reasons stated elsewhere in this FAQ).
Isn't there research showing that there are genetic differences between races?
Yes and no. A geneticist could analyze a DNA sample and then in many cases make an accurate statement about that person's race, but no single gene or group of genes has ever been found that defines a person's race. Such variations make up a minute fraction of the total genome, less even than the amount of genetic material that varies from one individual to the next. It's also important to keep in mind that racial classifications are socially constructed, in the sense that how a person is classified racially depends on perceptions, racial definitions, and customs in their society and can often change when they travel to a different country or when social conventions change over time (see here for more details).
So how can different races look different, without having different genes?
They do have some different genes, but the genes that vary between any two given races will not necessarily vary between two other races. Race is defined phenotypically, not genotypically, which means it's defined by observable traits. When a geneticist looks at the genetic differences between two races, there are differences in the genes that regulate those traits, and that's it. So comparing Africans to Europeans will show differences in genes that regulate skin color, hair texture, nose and lip shape, and other observable traits. But the rest of the genetic code will be essentially the same. In fact, there is much less genetic material that regulates the traits used to define the races than there is that regulates traits that vary from person to person. In other words, if you compare the genomes of two individuals within the same race, the results will likely differ more from each other than a comparison of the average genomes of two races. If you've ever heard people saying that the races "are more alike than two random people" or words to that effect, this is what they were referring to.
Why do people insist that race is "biologically meaningless"?
Mostly because it is. As explained in the answer to the previous question, race isn't defined by genetics. Race is nothing but an arbitrary list of traits, because race is defined by observable features. The list isn't even consistent from one comparison to another. We distinguish between African and European people on the basis of skin color, but what about Middle Eastern, Asian, and Native American people? They all have more or less the same skin color. We distinguish African and Asian people from European people by the shape of some of their facial features, but what about Native American and Middle Eastern people? They have the same features as the European people, or close enough to engender confusion when skin color is not discernible. Australian Aborigines share numerous traits with African people and are frequently considered "Black" along with them, yet they are descended from an ancestral Asian population and have been a distinct cultural and ethnic group for fifty thousand years. These standards of division are arbitrary and capricious; the one drop rule shows that visible differences were not even respected at the time they were still in use.
But IQ is at least somewhat heritable. Doesn't that mean that observed differences in IQ test performance between ancestral population groups must have a genetic component?
This is a common misconception, sometimes termed the "hereditarian fallacy".  In fact, the heritability of differences between individuals and families within a given population group tells us nothing about the heritability of differences between population groups.   As geneticist and neuroscientist Kevin Mitchell explains:
What about all the psychometricians who claim there's a genetic link?
The short answer is: they're not geneticists. The longer answer is that there remains a well-documented problem of scientific racism, which has infiltrated psychometry (see e.g.  and ). Psychometry is a field where people who advocate scientific racism can push racist ideas without being constantly contradicted by the very work they're doing. And when their data did contradict their racist views, many prominent advocates of scientific racism simply falsified their work or came up with creative ways to explain away the problems. See such figures as Cyril Burt, J. Phillipe Rushton, Richard Lynn, and Hans Eysenck, who are best known in the scientific community today for the poor methodological quality of their work, their strong advocacy for a genetic link between race and intelligence, and in some cases getting away with blatant fraud for many years.
Isn't it a conspiracy theory to claim that psychometricians do this?
No. It is a well-documented fact that there is an organized group of psychometricians pushing for mainstream acceptance of racist, unscientific claims. See this, this and this, as well as our article on scientific racism for more information.
Isn't this just political correctness?
No, it's science. As a group of scholars including biological anthropologists Agustín Fuentes of Princeton and Jonathan M. Marks of the University of North Carolina explain: "while it is true that most researchers in the area of human genetics and human biological diversity no longer allocate significant resources and time to the race/IQ discussion, and that moral concerns may play an important role in these decisions, an equally fundamental reason why researchers do not engage with the thesis is that empirical evidence shows that the whole idea itself is unintelligible and wrong-headed". These authors compare proponents of a genetic link between race and IQ to creationists, vaccine skeptics, and climate change deniers.  At the same time, researchers who choose to pursue this line of inquiry have in no way been hindered from doing so, as is made clear by this article: . It's just that all the evidence they find points to environmental rather than genetic causes for observed differences in average IQ-test performance between racial groups.
What about the surveys which say that most "intelligence experts" believe in some degree of genetic linkage between race and IQ?
Is there really no evidence at all for a genetic link between race and intelligence?
No evidence for such a link has ever been presented in the scientific community. Much data has been claimed to be evidence by advocates of scientific racism, but each of these claims has been universally rejected by geneticists. Statistical arguments claiming to detect the signal of such a difference in polygenic scores have been refuted as fundamentally methodologically flawed (see e.g. ), and neither genetics nor neuroscience are anywhere near the point where a mechanistic explanation could even be meaningfully proposed (see e.g. ). This is why the question of a genetic link between race and intelligence is largely considered pseudoscience; it is assumed to exist primarily by advocates of scientific racism, and in these cases the belief is based on nothing but preconceived notions about race.
What is the current state of the science on a link between intelligence and race?
Please see the article itself for an outline of the scientific consensus.
What is the basis for Wikipedia's consensus on how to treat the material?
Wikipedia editors have considered this topic in detail and over an extended period. In short, mainstream science treats the claim that genetics explains the observable differences in IQ between races as a fringe theory, so we use our own guidelines on how to treat such material when editing our articles on the subject. Please refer to the following past discussions:
|Sad socks :( Generalrelative (talk) 06:37, 31 January 2023 (UTC)|
|The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.|
Hi @Grayfell: why did you delete the references? ETDS554 (talk) 04:30, 30 January 2023 (UTC)
Hello. To clarify, the edit added sources, but it also changed the meaning of the article by adding an anachronistic claim that race and intelligence was being discussed since
since at least them times of Aristotle.Since this claim is controversial and disputed it is misleading to present this with the edit summary "WP:ILC". It is also a typo, but that would be an easy fix. The added source makes an interesting point, but it's an extreme over-reach to say it claims or even suggests that Aristotle viewed human groups as 'races' in the modern sense of the word. If I'm wrong and Matthew A. Sears is claiming that Aristotle's view of races is the same as the modern one, we need a source where he explicitly claims that, and we would need to contextualize it against the mountain of existing sources which dispute it. Grayfell (talk) 07:02, 30 January 2023 (UTC)
|Sad socks :( Generalrelative (talk) 06:38, 31 January 2023 (UTC)|
|The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.|
|Sad socks :( Generalrelative (talk) 06:40, 31 January 2023 (UTC)|
|The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.|
Should IQ test figures be included?
I would like to include the following:
The Bell Curve, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, lists figures of 105 for Northeast Asians, 100 for North and Central Europeans, 92-96 for South Europeans, 91 for Arctic peoples, 90 for Maoris, 89 for American Hispanics, 86 for Native Americans, 85 for Pacific Islanders, 84 for South Asians, 83 for North Africans, 71 for Sub-Saharan Africans, 62 for Australian Aborigines, 57 for Pygmies, and 55 for Bushmen.
Generalrelative reverted this edit, with the argument being that it is WP:UNDUE and WP:PRIMARY. However, I don't see how the edit gives undue weight to any particular source, since The Bell Curve is one of the most well-known publications in the field. In addition, it is a secondary source which summarizes primary source research in the field. What do people here think? Wiki Crazyman (talk) 23:01, 21 February 2023 (UTC)
- Firstly, we shouldn't cite any source that old for data. And secondly, The Bell Curve is a deeply controversial source, and both its methodology and conclusions have been subject to heavy criticism from the scientific community. So no, the figures don't belong in the article. AndyTheGrump (talk) 23:22, 21 February 2023 (UTC)
RfC on racial hereditarianism at Talk:Eyferth study
Clueful editors are invited to participate at Talk:Eyferth study#Request for comment on hereditarianism subsection. Generalrelative (talk) 07:53, 14 March 2023 (UTC)
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