A friend and I were talking about Arthur Jensen–the psychologist who reignited the race and IQ debate with his 1969 paper “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” [PDF] published in the Harvard Educational Review. My friend said that starting with that paper there had been a huge amount of supportive research published in reputable academic journals like Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences. There have also been major works like The Bell Curve that provoked a national discussion in newspapers and intellectual media. And there have been major works by J. Philippe Rushton and Richard Lynn published by academic presses.
The thrust of my friend’s comments was that it was just a matter of time before it becomes standard wisdom, informing all respectable discussions of the issue, even among politicians and the mainstream media.
But it doesn’t seem to work that way. When it comes to a politically charged issue like the changeability of IQ, there is no necessary gradual path from being out in the intellectual deserts to acceptance among media and political elites.
I was thinking about that when I read Ronald Brownstein’s recent column, “King’s Echo: Why equal opportunity is now a competitiveness issue” (titled more appropriately, “Cashing the Civil Rights Check” in the print edition of the LATimes). The basic idea is that during the Civil Rights Era, the issue of equal opportunity was framed “in the soaring language of moral justice.” But now, with Whites becoming a minority, the rationale has changed: “The cause of providing an equal chance to all, which was historically framed as a question of fairness, has become an issue of economic competitiveness.” We need smart, educated non-Whites to fund Social Security and the rest of the federal behemoth.
After acknowledging that Blacks have made substantial advances, he deplores the fact that they haven’t caught up completely:
And yet the disparity between these groups and whites remains daunting. The median income for blacks and Hispanics is still only about three-fifths of the level for whites; the poverty rate for both is about twice that of whites. Perhaps most ominous are the continuing racial gaps in education. The share of blacks with four-year college degrees remains only two-thirds the level for whites; fewer than half as many Hispanic adults as whites hold degrees. That disparity helps explain why federal figures show that African-Americans still earn about 20 percent less in weekly wages than whites, and Hispanics make about 30 percent less.
For Brownstein, the obvious implication is that society (i.e., White folks) haven’t done enough to bring about equality. And that means more money for education. And that’s not all:
That isn’t just a matter of spending more money; it requires diligent education reform and finding more creative ways to compensate for the decline of the two-parent family, especially in the African-American community. Inevitably, it also means investment in schools, health care, training, and tuition aid for a diversifying future workforce that won’t meet international standards without it. Unless the nation honors that check, all Americans eventually will pay a price.
Notice that America has to “compensate” for Black family patterns–we have to adjust to the way they are rather than attempt to change their behavior. The problem is not Black teenagers having babies with no paternal involvement; it’s up to society to find a way to educate the children.
But when it comes to education, we have to move heaven and earth to change educational outcomes. This prescription assumes that Black educational achievement (unlike family patterns) is easily changeable if we just cough up the dough. It shouldn’t matter if a high school dropout has an IQ of 70. Her child would be able to be a rocket scientist if society just stopped being so racist and provided more money for schools and the rest of his wish list.
Needless to say, Brownstein didn’t breathe a word about Arthur Jensen or anyone else in this line of research. No mention of the research showing that IQ and educational achievement aren’t so easily changed and that we simply don’t have such a technology.
It’s the same with the Israel Lobby. Despite the fact that academics with excellent credentials have shown that the Iraq war was the result of a campaign by the Israel Lobby and strongly identified Jews in the Bush Administration with close personal and professional ties to Israel, it’s rare indeed to hear such talk among elite politicians or read about it in the MSM.
Some things must be relegated to “extremism”–not fit for utterance by respectable people.
Perhaps there is some hope based on a recent paper modeling change of opinion. It found that if just 10% of a population strongly believes something and is impervious to opposed arguments, the population as a whole will swing to their position. It could be that race realism (and the ideas related to White identity and interests as well as beliefs that Jews are influential in ways that often are not in the interests of Whites) are gradually percolating through the White population, soon to be followed by a tsunami of change.
We’ll see. But the problem is that the study didn’t model what happens when the current state of opinion is controlled by elites that are not open to opposing views; in the case of the American media this is at least partly because elite attitudes are intimately tied up with their perceptions of their own ethnic interests. That’s a tough nut to crack, although the Internet certainly provides an opening for skirting the MSM.