81 Caste, Crime, and Precocity
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81 Caste, Crime, and Precocity ANDREW HACKER I have no problem accepting The Bell Curve's finding that Americans with European forebearers average better on IQ tests than citizens with African ancestries. And for present purposes, I will concede the authors' claim that the capacity for scoring well via the multiple-choice method is "substantially heritable." Yet Herrnstein and Murray also warn that while individuals get their genes through their parents, this inheritance does not entitle us to make race-based generalizations. "That a trait is genetically transmitted in individuals," they write, "does not mean that group differences in that trait are also genetic in origin." Really? Surely what we know about gene pools suggests that when identifiable groups of human beings live and procreate with one another for considerable periods, certain traits will come to predominate and be reproduced. For a long time, and even now, people we call Koreans have been more likely than not to mate with one another. If this process passes on pigmentation and physical features, why not also the quality and contours of their cognitive capacities? My aim here will be quite modest. It is to carry Herrnstein and Murray's premise a step further, by applying it to the persons who make up the race they call "white." What I found curious about their analysis is that they treat this extremely large catchment-more than 200 million people according to the last Census-as a singular genetic group. Yet it would seem self-evident that so capacious a conglomerate will contain vital variations. Much more might have been learned had they divided the white population into several sub-races-perhaps by pigmentation or physiognomy-then surveyed the average intelligence of these cohorts. Of course, the authors might reply that such information is not available. Nor is this surprising . For the last half-century, this country has had an unstated understanding that it not draw genetic distinctions among Americans who have been allowed to identify themselves as white. Religious differences are obviously acknowledged, as are those of national origin. Even so, regardless of whether their forebears came from Stockholm or Sofia or Salerno, all whites are presumed to belong to a single gene pool and thus have equal status in the Caucasian category. And while we also take note of social disparities, even the lowest classes of whites are not given a diminished designation. (Epithets like" redneck" and "white trash," once commonly heard, have all but disappeared.) In a similar vein, Hugh Pearson has wondered why no attempt was made to discover whether lighter blacks register higher IQs. Such a study would not be difficult. One could compare the scores of a pool of people resembling Harry Belafonte and Colin Powell with a group more similar to SidFrom THE BELL CURVE WARS, edited by Steven Fraser. Copynght © 1995 by Basic Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Basic Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyrighted Material Caste, Crime, and Precocity 511 ney Poitier and Clarence Thomas. This decision of whites to stand together colors the racebased analysis in The Bell Curve. This was not always the case. Earlier in the century, such social scientists as Henry Goddard and Carl Brigham saw nothing untoward in identifying regional races within Europe which had varying mental capacities. Thus they felt free to pronounce the intellectual primacy of persons of "Nordic" stock, while citing the stunted facilities of swarthier "Mediterranean " and"Alpine" strains. And to sequester the best, they opposed intermarriage. That they rated African Americans even lower goes without saying, as does the happenstance that both of these scholars fell into the Nordic category Addressing a related concern, they pointed to white families like the "Jukes" and "Kallikaks" as a warning that inbreeding could ravage even Caucasians. Due to lack of studies based on smaller gene pools, I have had to avail myself of an alternative measure. The Census provides quite reliable information on the number of persons who have entered and completed college. The following figures refer to the proportion of Americans of various European ancestries who have received bachelor's degrees. Nature or Culture? Proportions of Americans Who Have Completed College by Self-Identified Ancestries French-Canadian 16.7% Danish 27.4% Dutch 18.5% Swedish 27.4% Italian 21.0% Scotch-Irish 28.2% Irish 21.2% English 28.4% German 22.0% Welsh 31.8% Finnish 24.2% Scottish 33.6% Norwegian 26.0% Russian 49.0% Even...


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