Enough With Race and IQ Tests Already

Race and IQ tests are two nebulous determinants of nebulous qualities that have incited fractious and controversial reactions as long as they have existed.

Many studies of the correlation between the two--and we might as well stir the pot by throwing gender into the mix as well--have been conducted. The matter has attracted much attention especially since James Watson asserted blacks to be less intelligent than whites. Nature gives a point-counterpoint with a twist. The question is not if there is an intelligence difference between races, but rather, should we even try to find out? 

In the blue corner, Stephen Rose argues that because race, gender, and IQ are largely constructs, the whole pursuit is pretty stupid.  That is, gender and race are difficult to define, buried under shifty societal definitions, and IQ is just some test about how many triangles are in a puzzle or something. In the red corner, Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams find that while plenty of racists over the years have used science to justify the inferior treatment of non-whites, this is no basis for ending the scientific quest for truth. Also, many studies are showing that IQ gaps between races are closing (thus, not genetic) and could be bridged effectively with the right social policies. Slate helpfully summarized and debated the most recent race-IQ studies during the Watson flap, though the author in that case did accidentally cite a racist among the many respected works of scholarship.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
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Remembering when bankers tried to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictator

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Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
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