We Need More Research Into Race and IQ, Please

Here in my little corner of the blogosphere, IQ and race are having yet another mini-moment. The reasons don’t really matter, and the arguments are exactly the same as they have been every time before. On the “blacks are dumber” side, it always goes something like this:

  • IQ is real; it matters; it’s partly determined by genetics; and blacks, on average, score lower on IQ tests than whites.

    Therefore:

  • Group IQ differences between blacks and whites are at least partly genetic.

There is enormous evidence to back up everything in the first bullet. But none of it implies that the second bullet is true, even though it might seem like common sense to people who haven’t thought very hard about it. Unfortunately, this includes almost everyone, which makes it easy to perpetuate the meme that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites. This is sometimes done explicitly, but more often with a sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge bit of handwaving.

This is why I’m all in favor of aggressive, well-funded research into race and intelligence. I don’t mean the fake Pioneer Fund sort of “research,” I mean honest, dispassionate research performed by real neuroscientists and geneticists. My read of the evidence so far is that racial IQ differences are very unlikely to be biologically based, and I would really, really like the research community to demonstrate this rigorously once and for all—and the sooner the better. This stuff will never go away until they do.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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