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Sean Last

Changes in the American Black-White IQ Gap: 1916-2016

In this article, I am going to examine how the Black/White IQ gap has changed over time in the United States. After documenting basic trends, I’ll look at what caused the B/W IQ gap to shrink in the late 20th century. As will be seen, simplistic explanations based on changes in wealth and education are inadequate. We don’t know for sure why this convergence of test scores occurred, but desegregation is the most plausible hypothesis I have been able to come up with. We’ll also see that this narrowing of the IQ gap may have reflected a narrowing in test-taking ability rather …

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The Flaws of Meritocratic Immigration

The most compelling alternative to ethnic nationalism is what we might call “meritocrat” or “individualist” nationalism. This is a system in which people are allowed to migrate to a country on a meritocratic basis. In other words, whether a person is allowed to come into a country is solely determined by whether they are, in some respect, good enough. In the real world, these meritocratic criteria usually have to do with occupational status, health, and income. In theoretical discussions, the idea of only letting immigrants in who have a certain IQ score is also often brought up. This proposal has …

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Civilization: Powered by the West, Threatened by the Rest

This article will consist of three parts. In the first, we will look at how regions and populations have varied in their technological, economic, and scientific advancement going from the ancient world to the present. Then I will review research showing that modern national wealth can be predicted based on how advanced a society was long before the industrial revolution or even recorded history. Finally, I will draw out some important implications that this research has on immigration and history.

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Transracial Adoption and the Black-White IQ Gap

In the United States, Blacks score about 15 points lower on IQ tests than Whites do (Roth et al., 2001). There is a debate about why. On the one hand, there are “hereditarians” who argue that this gap is due to a mixture of genetic and environmental causes and that both factors contribute a significant amount to the gap. On the other hand, there are “environmentalists” or “egalitarians” who argue that the gap is 100% caused by the environment. By looking at Blacks raised in White homes, either due to adoption or because they are biracial, we can test whether …

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Regression to the Mean

I am taller than the average American male. This can only be for a combination of two reasons: genes and the environment. I have no idea which environmental factors might have made me taller than average, so if my height advantage is part genetic and part environmental in origin I will probably only pass on the genetic portion to my children. Unless they, by sheer luck, also get the same environmental advantages I did, they will be more like the average person, in terms of height, than I am, but still somewhat taller than average due to my genes. They …

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Race, IQ, and Poverty

(This post was co-written with John Macintyre) Summary: In this post, I am going to look at how well differences in socio-economic status can explain racial IQ differences. First, we will see that affluent Blacks score lower than poorer Whites and Asians on tests of cognitive ability. Second, it will be seen that the Black/White IQ gap is highest among the rich and lowest among the poor. Third, it will be shown that the Black/White SES gap has fallen dramatically over the last 100 years while the Black/White IQ gap has not. And finally, it will be seen that most …

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Racial Discrimination in Loans

Racial differences in the ability to acquire a loan are sometimes pointed to as evidence of White privilege. These differences are said to lead to racial disparities in home ownership rates and entrepreneurship which in turn have a variety of long-term economic and social consequences. Though this story is often repeated, it is not justified by the relevant empirical evidence. The idea that Whites get loans easily due to White privilege is not consistent with the fact that Asians can get loans just as easily as Whites can.

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Ethnic Diversity and the Economy

This article will examine the link between ethnic diversity and economic success at the national, local, and group level. As will be seen, though not definitive, evidence at each level of aggregation suggests that ethnic diversity has a negative impact on economic prosperity. Before turning to the empirical evidence, let’s take a moment to see why, theoretically, ethnic diversity might be good, or bad, for the economy.

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What Diverse Countries Really Look Like

We are often told that ethnic diversity is a strength. Given this, we should expect that diverse countries are, in various ways, better than homogenous ones. Let’s take a look at how accurate this expectation is. To look at this question empirically, I used data on life expectancy, life satisfaction, and national wealth from the 2016 World Happiness Report and data on ethnic diversity from Alesina et al. (2003). Conceptually, ethnic diversity is defined as the probability that two people randomly selected from a nation will not be of the same ethnic group. As it turns out, the more ethnically diverse …

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Racial Differences in Self Control

At its most basic level, self-control is the ability to not do something you want to do in pursuance of a more long term goal. Our need for self-control arises from the fact that, generally speaking, we prefer current rewards to future rewards.  For instance, if given the choice, most people would prefer to be given $1,000 today rather than a year from now. This is true of basically everyone: if the immediate and future reward are the same, our tendency is to choose the immediate reward. It’s when the future reward is greater than the immediate reward that self-control …

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Republicans Are Smarter Than Democrats

A new study came out recently looking at whether Republicans or Democrats are smarter (1). It showed that republicans are smarter than democrats and that this is true even after taking race out of the picture. Unsurprisingly, this study isn’t receiving the kind of attention that studies exposing the intellectual inferiority of religious and/or racist people get.

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Liberalism and Low Self Esteem

In this post I am going to argue that one important reason why many people adopt a liberal political ideology is that it boosts their self esteem by allowing liberals to view themselves as noble warriors in a great battle against evil. There is a good deal of empirical data which is consistent with this theory. But I will also be making use of some evidence which is purely anecdotal. I fully recognize the limitations of such data. But I am still going to talk about it because it adds something meaningful to this theory.

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The Rational View on Race?

This is a critique of RationalWiki’s page on “racialism”. This response will be long, but that is only because RationalWiki commits an astonishing number of errors. RationalWiki begins by defining racialism as “the view that human races are substantially different from each other and these racial differences strongly determine the abilities and behavior of individuals and peoples.” This isn’t a horrible definition. But it is missing a few key facts. Human races are groups of people who share a common ancestry from certain pre-historic populations. Typically, we group people based on whether they mostly descend from the Americas, Africa, Asia, …

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Brain Size, Race, and IQ

Summary: There are four methods of measuring brain size, and studies utilizing all four methods have found that Whites have larger brains than Asians who have larger brains than Blacks. If you adjust for body size, the position of Whites and Asians flips. There are at least six lines of evidence to suggest that genes explain part of these racial differences: the differences are present at birth, around the world, the Black/White brain size gap is not smaller today than it was 100 years ago, mixed race individuals have brain sizes in-between their parent’s races, and, finally, traits that typically …

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Child Abuse and Racial Differences in Crime and IQ

Racial differences in the prevalence of child abuse probably contribute to racial disparities in both IQ and crime. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the rate at which children suffer from abuse is roughly 14.6 per 1,000  for Blacks, 8.5 per 1,000 for Hispanics, and 8.1 per 1,000 for Whites. Thus, the Black child abuse rate is about 80% larger than that of Whites and Hispanics.

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Thomas Sowell is Wrong About Fixing Black Poverty

Thomas Sowell is great at demolishing liberal narratives. Unfortunately, he has a habit of building equally weak theories of his own in their place. One of Sowell’s favorite stories goes like this: Blacks perform poorly in school, which in turn sets them up for lifelong failure because education is soft on them and encourages a chronic lack of motivation and self-discipline. Schools with majority Black student populations which set very high standards for students have high test scores and most of the students who graduate from such schools go to college. If schools, and families, all set these high standards …

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