I borrowed the term Voldemort View, “The View That Must Not Be Spoken” , to describe the stubborn blindness behind education policy:
Mean differences in group IQs are the most likely explanation for the academic achievement gap in racial and SES groups.
So many people read the previous statement and say, “Well, this is of course nonsense. Everyone with any understanding of biology knows that race is a social construct, not a biological one. So only ignorant bigots would argue that race is genetically linked to IQ.”
To which I ask, with considerable irritation, where does the View mention biology? Or genetics? You will see no mention of actual science here in this blog.
“Don’t be an idiot,” these people say, “If a gap exists, and it’s cognitive, then what could cause the gap, if not a genetic link to race?”
Who knows? The View is unconcerned with cause of group cognitive differences. At this point, the desirable causes have been all but eliminated: poverty, racism, government spending, parental education, test anxiety. There are no happy answers or easy solutions.
None of the above means that any race is inferior, or that high and low IQs don’t exist in all races. As I understand it, the difference lies in frequency, not range. Nor does it mean that any particular IQ is inferior or less equal. Finally, it doesn’t mean that IQ is destiny.
I try not to stray from the mainstream when I discuss the accepted truths of IQ: it’s accurate, measures something meaningful, predicts a wide range of social outcomes, and average black IQ is one standard deviation below average white IQ, (with Hispanics in between, and Asians slightly above whites). But most people are so ignorant of the mainstream on IQ that they think Charles Murray, he of the dread Bell Curve, and James Flynn, of the much-cited-by-dilettantes Flynn Effect, are at polar opposites on IQ. In fact, the two disagree not on the accepted facts but on the degree to which they hope the gap can be mitigated. From what I can tell, that’s the primary debate among those who actually know about IQ (and I’m just someone who reads a lot about it): those on “the left” like Flynn, or Christopher Jencks, hold out more hope for environmental changes, vocabulary enrichment, than do those on “the right”, like Murray.
Anyway. The Voldemort View essay above is important to understanding this blog.
So this is Part I, the stuff that keeps me anonymous.
Then there are the sub-categories.
Cognitive Ability in the Classroom
What it looks like when you’re teaching, at ground level and 60,000 feet.
Teachers and Cognitive Ability
I used to have two sections–one for all teachers, one for teachers of color. But really, they’re the same thing. Understand this: teachers are smart enough. In fact, the standards for high school teacher are quite high. We won’t be making them higher; in fact, recently, many standards have been rolled back.
When someone says “We need to upgrade the teaching pool”, understand that upgrading the teaching pool leads DIRECTLY to fewer black and Hispanic teachers. Understand, too, that the data establishing a link between teacher cognitive ability and student outcomes is so slight as to be non-existent. While a basement seems logical—that is, teachers have to have a certain level of smarts—the lack of a connection suggests that we’re comfortably above the basement. There’s as much, if not more, data supporting a link between race of teacher to student outcomes as one of cognitive ability. How’s that for depressing?
Bottom line: we don’t need to upgrade our teaching pool, and we’ve already wiped out a significant chunk of prospective black and Hispanic teachers with the demands of the 1998 Higher Education Act and No Child Left Behind. We are currently in the process of undoing this by wiping out credential tests entirely, which isn’t a good idea.
Teacher Quality Pseudofacts, Part II–this is old, but still very solid as an overview.
The Takeaway from the TFA Study: notable for my pointing at the CAEP standards and predicting that very few blacks and Hispanics will qualify and continuing So if CAEP doesn’t blink, or ed schools don’t get creative, we will soon have almost no black and Hispanic teachers, since blacks and Hispanics who get over 600 on each section of the SAT go off to become doctors and lawyers and Wall Street hedge fund managers. I wrote that in 2013. CAEP didn’t only blink, it fired the boss because the ed school organization publicly proclaimed its unhappiness with that standard.
College Admissions and Race
I’ve been writing and thinking about this for over ten years, since I first became a tutor. And yet, I still learn things. For example, in the Chris Hayes essay, I said the only group that might be distorting their abilities through test prep were Asians, but mostly dismissed the possibility. (My doubts on this score are not representative of mainstream IQ research.) I don’t dismiss it anymore. But even if you think I’m a horrible racist IQ determinist, I know my stuff so check out the test prep advice.
Why Chris Hayes Fails–still a good essay for cites. And in the main, what I say still holds true for test prep—it doesn’t distort abilities and it’s not the cause of the black-white achievement gap. On the other hand, I’ve become much more cynical about the rate of Asian increase.
The first essay on the list blasted out of the box in October 2013 and eclipsed the previous traffic winner (Algebra & Pointlessness), written fifteen months earlier. Big, big hit that, for better or worse, spells out the stereotype about a particular category of Asian immigrant (Chinese/Korean/Indian first or second generation immigrant) and shows why the stereotype exists. For all the touchy writing I do about IQ, this essay is probably the most incendiary on the site. I did not write it lightly. It’s a tough subject, but I feel it’s important. Few are honestly discussing the influx of Asian immigrants and their impact on education and on communities. I love the kids. I’m not sanguine about the impact, given the degree of influx.
It’s weird how things have changed. There was this whole unspeakable area of thought that was once called HBD (human bio-diversity), then moved onto neo-reaction, then the Dark Enlightenment, then the Alt Right. I wasn’t part of any of these movements, but as a person who wrote about IQ I was often quoted by various authors. (Note: I don’t count Steve Sailer and Charles Murray in these categories.)
The funny thing is that over time, ever more thoughts became unspeakable and now simply thinking that test-based college admissions is a good idea is held to be racist. Meanwhile, many people have finally figured out that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a direct mail organization with questionable semantics that ignored a serial harasser for decades, so it’s less the stroke of doom than it used to be. It’s not that there still aren’t things that can’t be spoken, but hey, join the club.
Anyway, in all three of these pieces I’m saying I ain’t them. I’m not upset at the idea, just explaining where the line is. I don’t get upset. Which is in and of itself a thing that can’t be spoken.
Every thing else is pretty harmless.