HBD: In Black and White


If Herrnstein and Murray could devote one chapter of the The Bell Curve to Black IQ, the least I could do is devote one chapter of my less scholarly scamper through HBD to the same issue.

The original title I planned was “The Black Hole,” which besides offering a cheap play on words was a reference to how discussions or racial IQ differences are like a black hole: if sucked in, you may never leave. On reflection, it did not seem that clever and I feared that someone, somewhere (in the vastness of our galaxy?) would find the title inflammatory (black hole = waste, destructive, etc.)

Putting strong gravitational fears aside, this White (but not necessarily smart) blogger investigates. If I don’t return, send out a search party.

This is one of a series where I discuss issues and elements of what is referred to as HBD. Similar to my Random Thoughts series these posts will be more personal and less scholarly. If you want deeply footnoted reference work, please look elsewhere. Disclaimer aside, I do hope to give a passable overview of the subject.

Of all topics in HBD, the Black/White difference is most often mentioned and raises the most heat. At its simplest, The Bell Curve, and at least some science, state that the average IQ of Black Americans is significantly lower than that of Whites (85 versus 100) and such a significant difference is reflected in social outcomes. This does not exclude discrimination but suggests that intelligence differences probably have stronger explanative power than discrimination (or at least, discrimination alone).

A significant gap (15 points is one standard deviation for the whole population average) leads to noticeable, and unfortunate, differences in outcomes. Not everyone is average; some end up higher, some lower. However, a population average sets the center point around which everyone clusters; as you move away from the average, you find increasingly fewer individuals. If the IQ is average is 100 you will find moderately sized clumps of people at 115 and beyond (about the level needed for college/professional activities). A much smaller fraction will reach out as far as 130 (advanced college, scientists, law, finance). With an average IQ of 100, the top 15 percent (115+) or so will be fully intellectually capable of college level courses and professional careers, the top 5 percent (130+) will be capable of more advanced studies or occupations.

An average of just 85 means that considerably fewer Blacks will have the intelligence required for many management and professional positions, and fewer will have the capabilities to complete a reasonably rigorous college education. Assuming an average of 85 and standard deviation of 15, you would be reaching into the top 5 percent of Blacks before you arrived at college/professional level abilities and beyond the top one percent before you got to advance studies level.

On the other side of the achievement measure, we would find that less than one percent of Whites would have an IQ of less than 70, whereas around 15 percent of Blacks would.

An IQ of 70 or below makes successful independent living more difficult. I suspect that many “Black problems” arise from this segment of the population.

It is true that we could arrive at such outcomes from discrimination only, but intelligence differences would explain them just as well, if not better: the slight Asian, and larger Jewish IQ advantage have mirror image outcomes (larger professional class, smaller “problem” class).

While I consider racial differences in average intelligence strongly plausible, I am less certain of their “fixed” nature. Even small changes in average levels could have major changes at the ends (moving more into professional/academic levels and – more importantly – moving many out of problem levels).

Perhaps this belief derives more from optimism than any scientific knowledge because I realize we cannot have a society that leaves behind (even with no ill intent) a significant segment of the population. I suspect that public discussion of the issue raises the same problem I had writing this: no matter how you phrase it, you cannot discuss racial differences in intelligence without implying a hierarchy; you cannot avoid sounding as if you are expressing (perhaps actually falling into the trap of) supremacist thinking.

On the other hand, some understanding of these differences might ease tension. It is painful to realize you might never achieve professional status; it might cause less bitterness to understand that it is not because someone hates you and blocked your way (similar to the small guy realizing he will never make the football team, it sucks but that’s life). Admitting that there is an ability gap might help close the achievement gap, as we structure education to maximize potential rather then send everyone to a college they may never reasonably complete. Realizing that intelligence is a gift that is not evenly distributed, might lower the stigma attached to lack of academic or career achievement.

Many dismiss discussions of racial differences with a “so what?” as they rush to move onto more comfortable topics. Those who do pursue the topic are left with an even more uncomfortable question: “Now what?” Perhaps it is the difficulty in answering the “now what?” question that is the real problem.


It used be said that cleanliness is next to Godliness; I suspect that much of the discomfort over discussing racial IQ differences stems from the fact that in modern societies we consider intelligence as next to Godliness. A discussion on how Dutch men tend to be taller than Mexican men would not cause such outrage, but comparisons of intelligence appear to apply some form of hierarchy (indeed, in a world heavily influenced by cognitive abilities it certainly points to an outcomes hierarchy).

While I hope I presented the numbers and statistical inferences correctly, do not become caught up on numbers. Whether the average is 85 or 90, the standard deviation 15 or 16, or some number represents the top 5 or 3 percent is less important than the fact that large difference in abilities will lead to large difference in outcomes. More importantly, very low levels of abilities will tend to lead to problems with productive and independent living.

Regarding the above: For a blogger to screw up on quantitative analysis while discussing intelligence (especially “how dumb Black people are”) would be a sweet irony to some. I will smile along with them, as I do not put intelligence next to Godliness, even as I recognize its importance. I will, however, gladly update the piece with any corrections from my more numerically minded right-enders.

The Bell Curve was written by a smart Jew and a smart White guy, if only they could have added Amy “Tiger Mom” Chua they would have the perfect a trifecta.


10 Responses to “HBD: In Black and White”

  1. dream puppy Says:

    Good post. The deception is just astounding. Everyone knows it, but no one dare speak about it.

    We speak in codes. “Good” schools, “safe” neighborhoods. Not being able to articulate the obvious is a bit traumatic. Americans aren’t allowed to speak the truth. Ever. Not about anything.

    Everyone is thinking it though, you just need to issue the OK to talk about it.
    [DU: I am not very PC, but I take no pleasure in writing or discussing these differences (and I have a nerdish/academic mind that likes to ask: how, what, why?) While PC types will naturally shy away from even considering unsettling questions, the rest are left with the now what question. Any answers to that question tend to gravitate towards answers that sound authoritarian or otherwise unpleasant (especially for the lowest ability levels).]

    Going back to your point- I do agree that people, and especially LIBERALS put too much emphasis on intelligence and being “evolved”- my theory is that this was a strategy for which to marginalize Southern red state rednecks whom they thought ignorant. However, unequal intelligence does not mean unequal worth.

    [DU: While we may have equal worth (in the human sense), we certainly do not receive equal rewards. All the forces of modernization, globalization, automation, and mass immigration have ripped away the niches where the less gifted could find a place (agriculture, manufacturing, many services). Transfer payments are not sufficient: a man that earns $200 per week as a farm worker is better off than one who earns $200 per week from welfare because the former has the respect that comes from earning his place and serving the broader community.
    Like you, I find the liberal divide on intelligence amusing: IQ does not matter/Bush, rednecks, conservatives are dumb, we cannot execute someone with a low IQ.]

    It is traumatic for both blacks and whites when blacks are put into positions that are above their skill level. Government and industry cannot rise to their full potential led by a bunch of Affirmative Action cases. There is nothing wrong with meritocracy.
    [DU: The problem with meritocracy is it produces such uneven results. Such results may be bearable, if painful, in a homogenous society, but are far less comfortable in a diverse one. Even if we accept the basic fairness of different outcomes for different groups, the result is not a happy one.
    Of course, even with lower averages there will still be a large number of Blacks who can reach college and beyond (a smaller percentage, but still a large number). Indeed, there will be a large number of Whites (because they have a larger share of the general population) who also fall behind.]

  2. dream puppy Says:

    BTW WTF!? Why haven’t I been on this blog before? This is right up my alley. Expect a new belligerent commentator.
    [DU: This series is the first time I have broached HBD topics at any length. I doubt it will be a permanent feature, as the topic is covered more comprehensively elsewhere. Many of the earlier posts were more banal personal stuff. That said, I welcome commenters belligerent or not.]

  3. Hope Says:

    I think people feel like the higher the status, the more they can make fun of the person/group/race. So for example white jokes are really common. Asian jokes are fairly common, too. Not so much the other races.
    [DU: That is part of it but not the entire story. Polish jokes were once a staple of American humor; at the time, Poles were not a high status group. You can only make jokes about Jews (the highest status group) with great care. I suspect a major part of it is politeness: WASPs and Asians are polite, they don’t stomp and scream, they don’t cry racism/anti-Semitism, and they don’t chop off heads (Islam).]

  4. dream puppy Says:


    That is irrelevant (although, of course, I agree).

    The problem lies in the media portrayal of criminality. The news media goes out of their way to under report black (and especially black on white crime) and sensationalize the few instances of white on black crime. It gives the populous (who still actually believes they are getting an accurate portrayal of the world) a fictitious view of life and crime in America, which is VERY VERY dangerous. I was actually in a situation the other day, where had I not been so race aware (and had no qualms about my appearance of appearing as thus), harm to my property and person would have been assured.

    Further, television and movies play another large part in trying to convince us that black people are no more aggressive or weak-minded than whites. There is an undoubtable bias in the media. The evil is always white, usually of Aryan stock (Harry Potter, James Bond) while there are many movies that portray the black as sanctimonious and wise (any movie with Morgan Freeman, Green Mile). Racism is usually one-sided, with whites playing the oppressors.
    [DU: True. To the point of tragic-comic for those aware]

    This is upsetting to me, because not only is the media using its power to debase my people, but it is also giving uninformed whites an inaccurate portrayal of crime and race relations in the US. This can cost them dearly. I do not think it is proper to put the personal safety and well-being of ANYONE in order to not go around hurting feelings.
    [DU: While I do not like to dwell on the more negative ethnic differences, I despair at the mass media portrayal, which refuses to dwell on them at all (and as you pointed out actively misleads).]

    TO DU: I agree that Diversity is chaos. However, a well run meritocracy would be better than this clusterfuck. Singapore has a Chinese elite with an under-performing Malaysian minority. However, it is a prosperous and peaceful country. The #1 reason for this, is that unlike America, the elites of Singapore actually care about the country, her people, and its future and rule it as thus. In the United States, the populous is a means of revenue extraction and not much more. Our elites HATE the people of this country, resent what the see as “foreign” values, and have no concept of the long term. This is why policies do not reflect what is best for the people.

    Also @DU- college is irrelevant. Most of the population did just fine without a degree in America (pre-1960s). What is more needed is a country with elites who care about the wellbeing of their people and would implement programs for gainful employment without such degrees (manufacturing, mechanic, etc.) There is nothing wrong with making a living with your hands. That is another beta elitist SWPL lie. I would assume such a living would be very rewarding for men.
    [DU: Regarding the push for college I have commented before how I think it is silly. By coincidence I posted on a recent HL thread related to this (http://hawaiianlibertarian.blogspot.com/2011/04/blue-collar-pride.html). The denigration (and lack of experience) of physical labor is one of the many “sins” of the elite.]

  5. Hope Says:

    I don’t disagree that a lot of deliberate type-casting goes on. But I did have the horrible misfortune of watching a movie in which Morgan Freeman played a bad guy who wanted to kill a bunch of innocent people and was also quite mentally insane. It was basically a Stephen King horror flick though, called Dreamcatcher. Since I can’t stand the horror genre, I disliked the movie.

    And wait, did you just say Harry Potter was supposed to be a bad guy?

    The elites just want to hold onto their money and power. They couldn’t care less for the poor blacks. I think in the case of character portrayals, it’s more like they just want the films to appeal to the most number of people, and many of them are book adaptations anyway (Green Mile, Harry Potter), which were not really written by the elites, but written by authors who may have their own agendas.
    [DU: The funny thing about the Shawshank Redemption was that in the book the character was Irish (hence “Red”). I believe Morgan Freeman’s voiceover keeps the book’s “Maybe its because I am Irish.” I think, however, that Freeman filled the role nicely. Perhaps the Michael Coffey (Green Mile) character worked well because he played against type (large and frightening Black man). It is funny that many on the left dislike such characters (Coffey and Red) dismissing them as “magic Negroes.” I do find myself wondering at the number of Black nuclear scientists/crypto experts/math geniuses though.]

  6. PA Says:

    Polish jokes were once a staple of American humor

    Yeah, what the fuck was that about?

    Here is a snippet on this subject, from Chuck’s blog.

    Interestingly, a few days ago I ran into the Polish Joke anachronism. I stopped by a liquor store, and a middle aged woman in front of me in line was buying a Polish vodka, and so was I, by coincidence. (I don’t drink liquor generally, mostly just beer; it was a gift purchase, and the price and quality of bottle graphics happened to have made my selection one of the Polish vodkas)

    In any case, one of us remarked something on the subject of Polish drinks, and the liquor store proprietor, a fellow I josh around with every weekend, cracked a pollack joke.

    Wierd, but 25 years later it still hits me at the core. Still stingls like it’s 1983 and I’m a terrified 13 year old. I flushed inwardly but recovered quick. I like the guy, know him pretty well from years of casual interaction and joking aroud, and often come by that store with my toddler son. So I tell the guy: “You know the little boy I come by with sometimes?”

    He says “sure”

    I say: “he’s 100% Polish. He’ll probably let it slide… once.”
    [DU: Polish jokes may have originated from early immigrants who lacked education and whose unassimilated ways seemed stupid to the natives. In modern times they reflect more a use of a template such as blonde jokes. It is less about inherent belief than filling in the victim/punch line boxes. In many cases, such ethnic jokes are part of the standard male status/dominance jockeying; they are not something to take personally. The shopkeeper could have used Irish/Italian/Mexican in place of Polish, indeed had the bottle come from a different country he may have done just that. I generally avoid ethnic jokes but my rules for using them would be: 1) none of the group is of the perpetually offended (SWPL etc) type, 2) none of the group is of the targeted group unless, 3) any one of the targeted group understands this is friendly banter and I expect (or am willing to accept) something back. Having and winning the fight was a good result, but I suspect the kid (or some other) would have found something else to pick at if he did not have ethnicity. Kids can be cruel, or perhaps they are just more vicious in their status seeking.]

  7. dream puppy Says:


    LOL No. In the movie Harry Potter the bad guy is Draco Malfoy, who is an Aryan or Nordic. Haha, sorry. I forget everyone doesnt have the movie tastes of an 14 yr old girl. I suppose you also won’t get my twilight references.

    I don’t think I agree with your assessment about authors, Hope. Although they do comprise a fair bit of movies, they don’t comprise all. I am talking about generalizations. In movies, the bad guy is GENERALLY white and the blacks are GENERALLY portrayed favorably. I don’t think this has anything with wanting to appeal to whites/blacks, since positive portrayals of whites would be the more obvious road to take (considering whites have are the majority AND outearn all minorities except asians and jews).

    Here is an example: “In the first 24 episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent there’s only one black murderer, and she is a corrupt police officer. ”

    However according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics: “Blacks were 7 times more likely than whites to commit homicide in 2002

    The part about debasing whites is annoying. However putting the image of racist whites/harmless black into the minds of millions of Americans puts them in physical danger. Maybe some can see through the bullshit, but not all.

    Here is an interesting take on it (That black people have a hard time getting good roles/awards as casting agents don’t want to cast them as the bad guys. Villain roles are usually a bit more juicy….think of all the Oscar winning vilians. So this type of PC nonsense is bad for blacks too 😉

  8. dream puppy Says:

    Sorry last thing:

    I was watching Miami Vice with my husband, which is obviously about crime in Miami. So they’re following the lead and suddenly they discover who it is…


    This was so absurd as to be comical. First of all, Miami does not posses enough non Hispanic whites for which to form a gang out of.
    The rule of thumb here, is:

    Violent crime: Black
    Non violent crime: Hispanic
    Vehicular crime: both
    Financial crime/prostitution/drug rings: Jews (Usually the news reports them as “Russians” but a little bit of digging usually reveals a Chosen One.)

    Here are the current news stories in Miami for which to drive home my point:

    Man beats up old lady for $: black on white (hispanic)
    Man kills and rapes foster daughter: hispanic on white hispanic
    Crime ring stole thousands in a nightclub scheme: Jewish
    Man stabs woman over 100 time: black on black
    Medicare fraud ring: Jewish (with some Hispanic underlings)

    White nationalists…in Miami. How absurd. Whats next? The WASP crime wave of Detroit?
    [DU: Just like Sum of all Fears where the Arab terrorists of the book become South African Nazis (or something). On the commentary track of the DVD Tom Clancy said something like “I am Tom Clancy, author of the book [film director or writer] chose to ignore”]

  9. Hope Says:

    I actually have watched all the Harry Potter movies, but none of the Twilight ones. I’m not really a HP fan to be honest. The latest movies have been too dark for my tastes. It was like watching The Road set in a magical background.

    And yeah, I suppose in those cases the villains the Aryan, blond types. Although I think that is partially because they were memorable characters. I can think of some other memorable villains that had dark-hair and brown eyes, like Agent Smith in The Matrix, and in that case both the hero and the villain had fair skin and dark hair.

    Not sure if you’ve seen Blood Diamond, but the main villain in the movie is a big black guy. It featured a white blond guy as the lead, who starts out as a rogue and ends up being a great man. Part of the premise of the movie was black on black violence, and this black guy wondering why the hell blacks are so cruel to each other.

    I think there’s something about collective “guilt” that causes the backwards justifications. It might be a uniquely Christian thing, because most other groups of people don’t really care if they’ve wronged some other group in the past (Japanese vs. Chinese, for example).

  10. dream puppy Says:

    Yes. European Universalism is a curse. If I could undo one thing about us, it would be that.

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