“Is It True That Whites Have a Higher IQ Than Blacks, Per The Bell Curve?”

In The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, the authors maintain that whites have a higher IQ than blacks, but I would not label the authors racist. What do you think?

Thank you for your question. You deserve a longer answer than I can give you in an e-mail, but perhaps I can give you some perspective and let you read further if you are interested.

The Bell Curve (by Hernstein and Murray) derives its conclusions about IQ scores from the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Other researchers (e.g., Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth) question whether that test and the assumptions made from developing a bell-shaped curve are valid. The AFQT probably best provides a test of the level of schooling not necessarily IQ. And the authors of Inequality believe there has been a good deal of statistical mashing and stretching in order to form the bell-shaped curve you find in the book.

The argument of the authors in The Bell Curve is that IQ is a better predictor of life outcomes than the usual measure of socioeconomic status (SES). One concern is that Hernstein and Murray define SES very narrowly (level of education, income, parents occupations). Each factor was given equal weight even though it is generally assumed that parental income has a much greater effect than parental education on a childs life outcome.

As I hope you can see, there is some question about the methodology and statistical analysis used in The Bell Curve.

So while we can perhaps agree that American blacks score lower than American whites on standard IQ tests, that may be due as much or more to SES.

This is the classic debate of nature versus nurture. I dont think The Bell Curve proves that most of lifes outcomes are due to nature.

Kerby Anderson
Probe Ministries

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