Friday, 9 August 2013

Jason Richwine, and an unclaimed bottle of rich wine


Unaccountably, no-one has taken up my challenge issued on 10th May of this year.

“So here is the challenge: a bottle of fine French wine sent to the first person who can show that Hispanic/Latino American intelligence and scholastic ability is on the same level as European American intelligence and scholastic ability. Data please.”

Perhaps this blog has too select an audience, such that my readers already know the literature, and need take the matter no further. Accordingly, I must ask you to spread the word to those who are not drawn to musings about psychometric research, in the hope of getting some data-based responses.

I was reminded of this four month silence by yesterday’s thoughtful article by Jason Richwine, “Why can’t we talk about IQ?” in which he concludes:

“What causes so many in the media to react emotionally when it comes to IQ? Snyderman and Rothman believe it is a naturally uncomfortable topic in modern liberal democracies. The possibility of intractable differences among people does not fit easily into the worldview of journalists and other members of the intellectual class who have an aversion to inequality. The unfortunate — but all too human — reaction is to avoid seriously grappling with inconvenient truths. And I suspect the people who lash out in anger are the ones who are most internally conflicted.

But I see little value in speculating further about causes. Change is what’s needed. And the first thing for reporters, commentators, and non-experts to do is to stop demonizing public discussion of IQ differences. Stop calling names. Stop trying to get people fired. Most of all, stop making pronouncements about research without first reading the literature or consulting people who have.

This is not just about academic freedom or any one scholar’s reputation. Cognitive differences can inform our understanding of a number of policy issues — everything from education, to military recruitment, to employment discrimination to, yes, immigration. Start treating the science of mental ability seriously, and both political discourse and public policy will be better for it.”

Read more:

I think he has asked a good question, and suggested some good answers. What do you think?


  1. Thuggish enforcement of the taboos of political correctness is how the powerful stay in power. A person like Ana Marie Cox is pure evil.

  2. James, it pisses me off to no end when people ask me: "Why do you waste your time studying race and intelligence? All it's going to do is upset people; what good can it do?"

    For the past 40 years, we have pretended that Africa is capable of self-government. We have given billions in foreign aid to Africans and we have NOTHING to show for it. If we want to actually help the people who live in Africa, we'd better take their intelligence into consideration.

    So race and intelligence is not just mental masturbation. It is not an excuse to point and say, "Ha ha ha, my race is smarter than your race."

  3. "Some are even angry that I never apologized for my work. I find that sentiment baffling. Apologize for stating empirical facts relevant to public policy? I could never be so craven."

    Good for him!

  4. Elijah Armstrong9 August 2013 at 18:47

    Oh, and check this out:

  5. while i take your point, i'd encourage you not to be so snide. there's a lot of askenazi genetics in brazil, along with (just a few) VERY good schools that will blow away the average college in the US.

    i'll let you know where to ship the wine.

    1. adrian bye criticizes Thompson (I guess) for being "snide." Where?

      But adrian's "i'll let you know where to ship the wine." is undeniably smug.

    2. "Snide" does not mean, "wrong."

      Be that as it may, I'm not seeing the snide thing either, unless it means "offensive to some."

      In fact, the contemporary discourse on such matters is such that a clear, fact-based, provisional, even downright courteous explanation of the facts as known at any given time will get one labelled "snide," or worse.

      It can even cost a guy his job, if you can believe that!

    3. well, he is wrong. this is a losing bet. there ARE a few good schools in latin america, and there ARE some genetics to support high levels of academic success.

      but more interestingly, why not challenge east asia or israel with this bet?

      the bet is not very clearly defined so i'm sure he can find a way to weasel out, along with the fact that the prize is unclear. thus i view it as smug.

      i have no problem discussing race and IQ. but if you're serious about a bet, make it a real, well defined bet with a well defined prize of actual value. otherwise its just smug internet trolling. also note i am posting under my real identity, unlike most others.

    4. Can you even read and (more to the point) comprehend the Queen's English, Adrian, by the bye? The challenge was quite explicit and precise, aside from leaving the exact brand and vintage of the "bottle of fine French wine" unstated. Are you really afraid to post the requisite data to win the challenge just because you are not certain that the wine selected by Dr. Thompson will be up to your own elitely oenophilic standards?

      For one thing, the challenge had nothing to do with Latin America-- although, were I a betting Dan, that is another bet that I would make in a proverbial New York second. For another thing, the bet was as to the relative distribution curves of the two cited populations, on the whole-- not as to some cherry picked school(s), on a different continent altogether, being compared to all European Americans.

      By the way, before you go betting the fazenda on Israel uber all[i]es, you had better recheck the available psychometric data: Israel as a whole has a below-average IQ distribution-- about four points below that of the United States (including all of the folks in the United States, not just us evil, "goyishe kop" European Americans). [Cf.,]

      So, how exactly would you like that corneille prepared, Adrian? Bon appetit!

    5. Israel contains a number of Russian whites who posed as Ashkenazim at the end of World War II, and Sephardic and Oriental Jews (neither of whom have exceptionally high IQs). So its low IQ is not a huge surprise.

    6. Except, apparently, to some from Down Under.... Israel also has a large minority of Israeli Palestinians, whose median IQ is below that of the Sephardic Jews, bringing the national average down even further than if only the Jews (and self-styled Jews) in the Jewish state were being surveyed.

  6. What do I think? I think "journalists and other members of the intellectual class" most amusing. As my father once told me, "intellectual" has come to mean someone who will use any of his mental resources except his intellect.

    1. I love your father's observation.

      To nitpick, I think the fact is that intelligence, like brawn, can be used for good or ill, and we have over valued is some sort of unqualified good, which has added to the awkwardnses inherent in these discussions, and yes, this is a run on sentence, Sorry Ms. Crabapple.

      A lot of very intelligent people are actively engaged, aided by their high intelligence is willfully obscuring rather than clarifying facts.

      And, because they are so darn smart, they do it well.

    2. Wow. typo-palooza.

      Wish you could edit these things....

  7. A commenter at this Scientific American blog entry ...

    ... offered some useful and well-put advice:

    "Teaching people to think like scientists and use evidence to make decisions is doomed to failure. The best we can do is teach people that that they should have no opinion whatsoever on any matter in which they have no knowledge. That is, people need to know when they are ignorant.

    "Over the last three generations at least, the US has declined precipitously due in part to the confusion of right to free speech and right to have an opinion. We have enshrined and confused respect for others with respect for their opinions, and have enshrined the silly notion that all opinions are equal."

  8. Jan te Nijenhuis10 August 2013 at 07:48

    Not that long ago in the US a creative solution was found: race norming. Applicants were compared to the means of their own group on IQ tests. So, Black applicants were compared to the Black mean IQ of 85 and the Whites were compared to the White mean of 100. So, a Black applicant with an IQ of 90 and a White applicant with an IQ of 105 got the same rating of 'above average'. However, the organization that hired them were not told this. It is now against the law to to this.

    1. The SOMPA did this (1976).

      May I suggest a better solution to racial gaps? Take a hint from Jensen (1969). Attenuate the g loading of scholastic achievement as much as possible by making it totally dependent on rote learning. Blacks have relatively good short-term memory, so they should do pretty well.

    2. Race norming is fine-- in a racially segregated society! In a legally integrated society (with the 14th Amendment, and strict anti-discrimination laws, no less) claiming that a Black applicant with an IQ of 89 is superior to a White applicant with an IQ of 103 is functionally problematic-- not to mention Constitutionally and morally abhorrent!