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Black IQ

The mean black IQ in America now stands at 89.1, according to the WAIS-III IQ test. For whites it is 102.6. That is a difference of 13.5 points. Other tests show the same kind of difference. So do university entrance tests, which makes it a serious issue.

But it gets worse.

The differences are not where you would expect: in the use of words and numbers where poor education could bring down scores. In fact, when it comes to words, numbers and memory, blacks do about as well as whites. Where blacks do worst is on the questions that require reasoning, in thinking something through!

Now know this: the IQs of twins separated at birth are different by only 6 points or so. So whether you grew up rich or poor, went to good schools or bad, it will only affect your IQ by about six points.

That means racism, poverty, bad schools and all that can only account for half of the 13.5 point difference between blacks and whites.

This difference does not square with my own experience, but then I do not know white people as a whole or black people as a whole.

I always thought it was because white people wrote the tests. Some of the older tests were unfair like that, but with the newer ones no one has been able to prove that it makes any difference for blacks who can speak and read English. In fact the tests work all too well: a low IQ means you will do less well in school, and that turns out to be just as true for whites as for blacks.

But when people try to prove blacks are born with less intelligence, it gets strange:

  • Light-skinned or whiter-looking blacks do not have higher IQs than darker, blacker-looking ones.
  • For blacks brought up by white parents the difference is small: three points or less.
  • The difference does not appear right away, like you would expect for something you were born with. It comes out during the school years.
  • The difference has been getting smaller over the past 30 years. It used to be 15 points.

There are enough strange facts pointing in different directions that you can make whatever argument you want about why black and white IQs are so different. We simply do not know enough yet. We have not found the smoking gun. Or the right way of thinking about it.

If we understood the Flynn Effect we might know what is going on. The Flynn Effect is where IQs in rich countries have been slowly rising. In America they have risen by 15 points in the past 50 years. That makes blacks living now as smart as whites from the 1950s, but whites smarter still.

No one knows what causes the Flynn Effect, but it shows up in the very part of the IQ test that blacks do badly in: the reasoning part. And it affects mainly those with low IQs, which is why blacks have been catching up. So understanding it might be the key.

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