Friday, August 18, 2006

Motl's Dark Materials


Always eager to rush in where the wise might fear to tread, Lubos has this post on the declining representation of Blacks in elite New York City science schools. After opening with an improbably ironic tale of happy Darkies down on the Czech plantation, he presents his explanation: genetic inferiority of IQ. I suppose that's also the reason for even larger (as a percentage of the whole) declines in the number of whites. (Graph from This NewYork Times Story)

I don't want to get into that particular can of worms, but he does have a link to the Wikipedia article on Race and intelligence. There is quite a lot of information, discussion, and controversy there, but a couple of items caught my eye. One is that the most recent large scale adult IQ comparison appears to have been done a quarter century ago. Statistics beyond racial means are very hard to come by. A second interesting comparison with more recent data is the GRE scores. Asians outperform all other categorized groups, but their superiority to whites and "others" (whomever they may be) is purely in the quantitative test. There are, of course, many reasons why GRE's are poor proxies for IQ.

Also interesting is the fact that almost nothing is known about the biological basis of IQ differences. The coming onslaught of detailed genetic sequencing data seems likely to clarify what role genes play, but this may be ten or even 15 years hence.

Lubos's post drew a Nazi or two, and his usual fans, but little dissent. That is perhaps because he has banned most of his critics (like your humble corespondent) - or it may just be that most people have lost interest.