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A Troublesome Intelligence?
A Note to Richard Lynn, Charles Murray, James Thompson et al.
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“If a multiracial society is found where these race differences in intelligence are absent, the evolutionary and genetic theory of these differences would be falsified. Those who maintain that there are no genetic differences in intelligence between the races are urged to attempt this task.” – Richard Lynn. [Emphasis added]

Every truly scientific proposition offers some clear empirical conditions under which it would be falsified; otherwise, it would have to be shelved under the mystical field of unfalsifiable pseudoscience. For the racial genetic hypothesis (the proposition that test score differences between blacks and whites are in part rooted in racial genetic differences), Professor Richard Lynn provided this scientific veneer by challenging opponents to find a single society where blacks do not appear to be clearly less intelligent than whites on any societal metric of intelligence. He gave further reasoning for this bold universal condition:

If only environmental factors were responsible for the different IQs of different populations, we should expect to find some countries where Africans had higher IQs than Europeans. The failure to find a single country where this is the case points to the presence of a strong genetic factor.” Richard Lynn.

Well, it seems that God truly does have a sense of humor. It turns out that we did not need to look further than Richard Lynn’s own multiracial home of Britain to find the falsification that he proposed for the racial genetic hypothesis.

Although some hereditarians had already noticed some troubling signs (for their hypothesis) that the black African kids in the UK appeared to be at worst only about 8 IQ points below white children (instead of at least 20 to 30 points expected by racial IQ hereditarians), my humble contribution to the debate was to note that Africans were almost always lumped together into the ‘black African’ group when doing such comparisons. This concealed the real picture of how certain nationalities that were migrating from English-speaking African countries to the UK were actually already outperforming the British whites. On the face of it, it does not seem useful to lump English-exposed Nigerian or Ghanaian immigrant children, for example, with children of Somali refugees fleeing much worse humanitarian emergencies in Africa, especially without any prior exposure to the English language.

When broken down into different African nationalities, it becomes clear that even the relatively small 8 IQ point racial gap observed in favor of British whites does not exist. The Black-White performance gap is completely eradicated, and in fact appears somewhat reversed, when you just look at children from African countries that speak some English, i.e. immigrant children who did not face the hurdle of learning English for the first time in their lives when they enrolled in British schools. When I first published these findings in 2015, I thought this really settled the issue, at least on that point.

Murray Doesn’t Know This?

I was therefore surprised to recently notice on Twitter that Charles Murray, the author of the infamous ‘Bell Curve’ book, apparently does not know about this ‘troublesome’ performance of black African school children in the UK. In his tweet claiming confirmation of the traditional white-black gap in UK schools, he too makes the mistake of looking only at the combined “black” group, which not only lumps together all the different African nationalities, but even throws in the blacks from the Caribbeans, who have much lower scores than black Africans. Furthermore, he seems to be convinced that if we ever looked at mean test scores instead of things like “pass rates”, we would notice an even bigger gap between black and white children in favor of the latter, a gap that should theoretically be even bigger than the black-white test score gap in the US (since blacks in America, having more white genes in them, are said to have an IQ of 85 whereas the blacker people of sub-Saharan Africa have IQ 70).

Murray is obviously uninformed on the full picture of black performance in the UK, as I will make clear in this article.

I was even more shocked to see that after all my public debates with him, Murray’s friend, Professor James Thompson, also doesn’t seem to realize just how devastating this UK data is for their racial genetic hypothesis. Like Murray, he too believes that the African children do well only when you consider metrics like “pass rates” (or “improvement”) and not when you look at actual test scores. Thompson apparently still maintains his old claim that there is some sort of effort in the UK to try to make minority children appear like they are performing better than they do, by only presenting their “pass rates” or improvements and omitting their scores, especially in the harder subjects of Mathematics and English.

The reason I’m surprised to learn that Thompson still does not know that his claims have already been debunked by data is because I have previously pointed him to published sources that report actual mean test scores, not just pass rates. In his response to one of my articles pointing him to these test score sources, he simply insisted that test scores have never been published in the UK:

“To get a better understanding of the scholastic achievements of immigrant groups we need to get beyond the percentage pass rates and look at the actual figures, which as far as I know are not currently released. For example Deary et al. (2007) has a scoring system based on the grades, which is far better than just pass rates, but he did not have access to the raw scores, nor was able to publish anything on racial differences. This is great pity [sic], because it would give us much of the data we need, which could then be tracked year by year.” (James Thompson).

Since his words sound sincere, I will afford him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he just failed to locate this test score data in the massive paper that I asked him to check (I am not quick to accuse of intellectual dishonesty).

So, I will be kind enough to just cut out the relevant data from the source document and paste it here, so that no one will have an excuse going forward.

Steve Strand

The source of the published test scores is Professor Steve Strand of Oxford University, who was comparing the test scores of different groups of high school pupils in the UK by their first language spoken at home, because he believed that familiarity with the English language is a major explanatory factor in the underperformance of most late migrants to the UK. We can ignore his specific goal and just steal his rich data for our own debate: the scores do not exclude math and English scores, and indeed even publishes those math scores explicitly.

This gives us perhaps the largest and most detailed data set ever presented on settling this endless IQ debate. The famous Eyferth study of Germany that everyone on the environmental side of the debate keeps citing had only 181 children; this one has thousands of children taken from the entire school system of the UK. Besides that, it is a longitudinal study that tracked the performance of the same kids from early primary school, all the way to high school graduation; and yes, it lists actual test scores even at the early ages.

This first table I will paste here comes from page 47 of the report and it lists the mean test score of British Whites against other ethnicities. In this table the black Africans are divided into two groups, depending on whether or not they speak “English first” at home (EAL or EF). Notice that the British whites who speak English first (mean score 346.4) only outscore Black Africans who speak other languages first (339.8), but are outperformed by Black Africans who speak English first (356.2) — consisting mostly of those Africans who were born in the UK or arrived very young.

However, even these two groups of Black Africans (EAL and EF) have many nationalities lumped together. There are some who come from countries where they (and their parents) had much longer exposure to the English language (former colonies of Britain), while others have had no exposure to any English at all. So, what happens when you break down that group of EAL Black Africans who speak another language first? Those EAL students from English-speaking countries outperform the British whites by the time they do these high school tests, despite the initial disadvantage of coming from very low quality African schools.

Let’s take out those who come from English speaking countries and compare them with British whites in one simpler table:

Group Best 8 Mean Score Mean Pass Rate
White British 346.8 61.8
Shona (Zimbabwe) 347.9 63.0
Akan/Twi Fante (Ghana) 351.6 68.6
Igbo (Nigeria) 362.4 73.9
Yoruba (Nigeria) 365.0 76.2

Again, all of these African groups who outperform British whites already learned some English (as a second language) in their home countries before they migrated to the UK because they all come from former British colonies. The Shona from Zimbabwe score only slightly higher than the White British students, but Strand reveals on page 79 that a particularly high number of them arrived from Africa when they were above the age of 11 (32% of them!), which makes their performance even more astounding!

Strand’s tables also gives some scores in math and English. The Africans who were born in the UK outscore British whites on both math and English. Even more counter-intuitively, the blacks coming from Africa who speak English as a second language also outperform British whites, not only in maths, but even in English!

What About the Africans With Low Scores?

The African nationalities with lower than British white scores in this sample had no exposure to English in their home countries. Africans who speak Portuguese or French (or Lingala etc) at home in the UK do not come from English-speaking African countries and are therefore disadvantaged for a longer time in the school system, as Strand acknowledges.

Are These Just Wealthy African Immigrants?

For those who may be tempted to think that these could just be the children of wealthy Africans, Strand also reports that all the Black African groups, including those born in the UK who speak English first (EF), are actually much poorer than the average White British or Indians or Chinese:

All Black African language groups, including those with English as their first language, have much higher than average levels of socio-economic disadvantage.” – Strand

This makes their performance all the more troublesome for believers in the racial hypothesis, since both environmentalists and hereditarians agree that conditions of poverty do bring down test scores (they merely disagree on how much they do). What this means is that these African scores that are above the British white scores are actually still depressed by socioeconomic conditions!

Contrast this with the US where Arthur Jensen et al constantly reported that even children of wealthy black Americans (i.e., a 100 percent sample of educated, high-income blacks) produce children who score lower than poor whites. The hereditarian explanation for the poor performance of children of elite American blacks is that they regress toward a lower black (American) racial mean IQ of 85. So, shouldn’t we see even greater downward regression of these black African children (since they come from a population with an even lower IQ than that of black Americans)? Why do we see the exact opposite result?

Clearly, there’s just something that went wrong in the history of blacks in the U.S. and other such historical multiracial societies, which is what led the racial hereditarians to make their hasty genetic generalizations to blacks qua race.

A Bimodal Distribution?

To hedge against the possibility that my claims on UK performance is right, Thompson usually asserts that the African immigrants have a bimodal distribution in socioeconomic status, meaning there is a group that is well-educated (and have high income) and another group that is uneducated and poor. This is a bizarre argument because it says absolutely nothing in the context of the debate.

All you need to diffuse this argument is to recall that children of well-educated high income American blacks, without any poor uneducated blacks in the sample, is observed to still perform below the children of poor whites. The hereditarian explanation, as we’ve noted, is that they regress towards the black American mean IQ of 85. So, please explain how this sample of immigrants who have not just educated blacks but also many poor uneducated blacks (bimodal), and are supposed to regress towards IQ 70, not 85, happen to produce children who are at or above average white IQ? (Remember that this is true even when their parents were married while still living in Africa, which refutes the claim that they should regress toward a higher immigrant mean IQ.)

Their performance is the opposite of what your hypothesis predicts, whether they follow a normal or bimodal distribution.


Thompson and Murray are not the only genetic racial hereditarians who cannot believe that this UK result is possible. Another popular believer in the genetic racial hypothesis of test score differences, Dr Gregory Cochran, expresses the same skepticism, as demonstrated by an exchange he had with presumably one of my readers:

Source: Gregory Cochran’s Westhunt blog.

Cochran is obviously wrong to doubt the basic premise of this claim: Black African groups can and do outperform British whites. However, he is right to doubt the attached explanations: that there is simply high immigrant self-selection or, even more ridiculous, that this high performance is just limited to the Igbos of Nigeria (as our tables above show, other groups from English-speaking African countries also achieve the same feat, and Igbos do not even always outperform the other Nigerian tribes, like the Yoruba).

Self-Selected Migration?

The assertion that these African migrants must be self-selected elites from the African continent remains the only argument that racial hereditarians can run to when all else fails.

However, this is an unsustainable solution for several reasons.

Firstly, our further research has shown that even the children of the poorest humanitarian refugees from Africa to America score higher than black Americans in school (even if they come from countries with an average IQ in the 60s), before they become fully assimilated. The idea that people who walk into a United Nations refugee camp are highly self-selected on intelligence, even more selected than people who qualify to an African university in the most developed African nation, is beyond absurd. Rushton and Jensen reported the general IQs of black South African university students:

“Black university students in South Africa also show relatively low mean test scores. Sixty-three undergraduates at the all-Black universities of Fort Hare, Zululand, the North, and the Medical University of South Africa had a full-scale IQ of 77 on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Revised (Avenant, 1988, cited in Nell, 2000, pp. 26 –28). In a study at the University of Venda in South Africa’s Northern Province by Grieve and Viljoen (2000), 30 students in 4th-year law and commerce averaged a score of 37 out of 60 on the Standard Progressive Matrices, equivalent to an IQ of 78 on U.S. norms.”

The problem for the self-selection explanation is a simple mathematical conundrum: if the African immigrants to the UK consisted of 100 percent university graduates, their IQ would still be only in the higher 70s; that would still not explain how their children’s performance goes above the white IQ of 100. And yet we know that the number of university graduates among the Black African UK immigrant sample is definitely not 100 percent; it is not even half of that!

Secondly, these same racial hereditarians and HBD bloggers also constantly complain that the immigration policies of the West are ensuring that places like Africa are not “sending their best” in intelligence. And they have published peer-reviewed papers to support their claim. My interlocutor, Dr. James Thompson, has previously published a paper complaining that the average migrants sent from countries like Ghana to the UK have a large downward impact on the IQ of the host country. And yet the children of the same Ghanaians outperform average British white children.

To continue believing in the racial genetic hypothesis, Thompson would have to throw his own research under the bus, and embrace the position that the Western immigration system that has a majority coming through refugee resettlement programs, random lotteries, chain migrations etc, is somehow still selecting highly for cognitive ability — even more than if you just exclusively admitted university graduates. In short, the normally right-wing leaning racial hereditarians would have to abandon their position on immigrant IQ and move to the left of open border liberals — just to maintain commitment to a highly specious hypothesis!

Mixed Race Scores

Finally, another fatal observation for the self-selected claim and the racial genetic hypothesis in general is the mean score of mixed race children in the UK (from black African and white parents).

The mixed race test is another condition that hereditarians acknowledge would falsify their model if it failed to go as predicted.

Source: Turok of the North (2017). Gregory Cochran’s West Hunter Blog.

What you see here is the exact opposite of what their models predict: if anything the results are more consistent with a genetic gap in the opposite direction (we will not even use the higher scoring tribes from former African British colonies in this case, but will restrict ourselves to the lower-scoring group of all African nationalities, as long as they speak English first at home):

English First Group Score
Mixed Black African and White 349
Black African 356
White British 346.8

This result also deals a blow to the self-selected-migrant claim since the mixed race children should still score above the African group even if the latter are self-selected. It is difficult to see how addition of white genes into this immigrant population would lower the IQ of their (mixed) offspring under the hereditarian racial genetic hypothesis.

The author, originally from Zambia, was a Visiting Scholar to the Hoover Institution and a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University. He can be reached at [email protected]

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