Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 10, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

OOPS....The chart on the right, courtesy of this morning's Washington Post, certainly seems alarming for the future of black America, doesn't it? As Andrew Sullivan says, "only 4 percent of the under-fives are African-American....That's a potentially huge future drop in the black presence in American life."

Luckily for the future health of the NAACP, what seems at first like a woefully underreported demographic bombshell turns out to be a mere mistake from the Post's chartmaker, who reversed the numbers for Blacks and Asians in the right hand column. Ethnically speaking, it turns out that about 15% of under-fives are black, and 4% are Asian.

This kind of thing reminds me of mistakes that change, say, millions into billions. I mean, anyone can screw up, but you'd think that something of this magnitude would catch someone's attention.

The Census Bureau press release is here. The table with the relevant data is here.

Kevin Drum 6:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (70)

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Comments

Sullivan was positively giddy at the possibility.

Posted by: Burzootie on May 10, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

In the decade and half since I've lived here, D.C. has only gotten whiter and browner. Its black heritage is just about hanging on. But I doubt it will survive my lifetime with much demographic strength.

Whose going to staff the kitchen at the Watergate? Whose going to carry my bags at the airport? Hispanic bellhops? That's just ridiculous.

Posted by: toast on May 10, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

damn homonyms, ruin a perfectly good snark.

Posted by: toast on May 10, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

When I see phrases like "non-hispanic white" I think we have definitely jumped the shark when it comes to thinking about race. Or "race". Enough, already.

Posted by: craigie on May 10, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else find it surprising that such a small percentage of children are of mixed races in this day and age? The majority of my closest friends who are married/engaged/pre-engagement (e.g. eventual engagement) are in mixed-race relationships. I never would have guess the mixed race population would be so small.

Or am I just reading the numbers incorrectly?

Posted by: gq on May 10, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

When I see phrases like "non-hispanic white" I think we have definitely jumped the shark when it comes to thinking about race. Or "race". Enough, already.

If you knew how many Anglos still think Latinos aren't white, you wouldn't say that. Would you?

Posted by: shortstop on May 10, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

I reserve comment until I hear from the National Association for the Advancement of Yellow People.

Posted by: Matt on May 10, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm through caring about slicing and dicing people's backgrounds until I find a box to put them in.

OTOH, interesting piece of trivia I read someplace. It said that in Britain, the percentage of blacks who marry outside their race is 30%. In the US, it's 3%.

Dunno if it's true, dunno what it means, but it makes me go "hmmm."

Posted by: craigie on May 10, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

gq

I totally agree that it is mindboggling. Some of it could be economics, but clearly not most of it.

It's a shame, too, because I'd imagine it would make overt racism less of a problem (although who knows, Dr. Suess might say we would just transfer it to worries about who has a star on our bellies and who doesn't).

Posted by: MarkC on May 10, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm through caring about slicing and dicing people's backgrounds until I find a box to put them in.

That's fine, but it's my understanding that the now-common usage of "non-Hispanic white" and "Hispanic white" came about at the express request of the Latino community. It looks like they forgot to ask you whether you cared! Oops!

Posted by: shortstop on May 10, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

What about the poor Two or More Races group like myself, who is both white and caucasian?

Seriously, though, it looks like we Americans aren't mixing enough, with only 2% as Two or Mores.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on May 10, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hedley, a few state legislatures forgot to publicize the repeal of the anti-miscegenation laws. Fifty percent of non-Hispanic white Southerners still think it's illegal to marry a black person. Okay, I just made that up.

Posted by: shortstop on May 10, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else find it surprising that such a small percentage of children are of mixed races in this day and age? The majority of my closest friends who are married/engaged/pre-engagement (e.g. eventual engagement) are in mixed-race relationships. I never would have guess the mixed race population would be so small. Or am I just reading the numbers incorrectly?

It's a problem of definition. A lot of children of mixed-race relationships will identify themselves as being of one race rather than mixed-race, in order to solidify their group identity. Consider, to use a trivial example, Halle Berry -- she's commonly thought of as black, and I believe identifies herself as such, even though with a white mother she's more accurately considered "mixed-race."

Plus, Hispanics, who can be considered Hispanic, mixed-race, 100% white or 100% black, depending, really throw off those neat categorizations.

Posted by: Stefan on May 10, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, Hispanics, who can be considered Hispanic, mixed-race, 100% white or 100% black, depending, really throw off those neat categorizations.

Yes, and "partly indigenous" goes into that list, too, particularly with people originating in Central and South America...although I suppose "mixed race" covers that.

Posted by: shortstop on May 10, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

If you knew how many Anglos still think Latinos aren't white, you wouldn't say that. Would you?

Well, that all depends. Some Latinos are white, but others aren't -- they're ethnically Indian, or black (many Cubans, for example), while others are a mix between two or three racial groups.

And then of course you have the Brazilians, who while "Latin" are not Hispanic. It's all a big mess, I tell you....

Posted by: Stefan on May 10, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else find it surprising that such a small percentage of children are of mixed races in this day and age? The majority of my closest friends who are married/engaged/pre-engagement (e.g. eventual engagement) are in mixed-race relationships. I never would have guess the mixed race population would be so small.

Could it be that most of the children whose parents identify them as mixed-race are white/Asian mixes? If so, the 2% figure makes sense because America's Asian population, while growing, is still relatively small.
While there are more white/black than white/Asian children, the parents of most of the white/black children probably idenitfy the children as just black. The one-drop rule remains in full force and effect here in America.

Posted by: Peter on May 10, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: Well, that all depends. Some Latinos are white, but others aren't -- they're ethnically Indian, or black (many Cubans, for example), while others are a mix between two or three racial groups.

Our posts crossed. Yes, I misspoke earlier: "Anglos who think Latinos aren't white" referred to Hispanic persons who do identify as 100% white. We pretty much covered the other possible racial categories in subsequent posts, I think.

Posted by: shortstop on May 10, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

There is some evidence that racially mixed (white/black) children have higher delinquency rates than black children.

Posted by: Peter on May 10, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Just looking at the chart, before reading the explanation of the mistake, I was wondering just how those Asians do it!

Posted by: mrgumby2u on May 10, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Just looking at the chart, before reading the explanation of the mistake, I was wondering just how those Asians do it!

With enormous hard work and perfectionism, mrgumby2u.

Okay, flame me. I deserve it.

Posted by: shortstop on May 10, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Just looking at the chart, before reading the explanation of the mistake, I was wondering just how those Asians do it!

early and often!

Posted by: Cabaret Voltaire on May 10, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

When I see phrases like "non-hispanic white" I think we have definitely jumped the shark when it comes to thinking about race. Or "race". Enough, already.

As long as it's not a Great White Shark.

Seriously, I agree.

Wondering when they're going to start dividing "white" up into Nordic, Eastern European, British, etc.

Posted by: tbrosz on May 10, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Uhh, if you don't know, the reason for less two or more reporting is because that generall only represents one generation.

The chidren of a mixed-race parent generally only report one race, and grandchildren of mixed-race parents almost all report a single race.

Genetic evidence supports the fact that self-reporting is usually false - like four of five report incorrectly their parentage because they just don't know.

Heck, I always report 'Native American' while I'm blue-eyed and blond haired. I report it because that's what my father identified, not because of anything else.

Posted by: Crissa on May 10, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

The English and Germans were "white" from the beginning. Groups from various other countries migrated to the United States and then made the strange migration within the United States from "non-white" to "white" --- Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Jews, and so forth.

So I find the label "White-Hispanic" fascinating because it represents this odd migration for Latinos.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on May 10, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

The number for every group shifts except Asians. The percentage of Asians in the population under five is the same as the percentage of all Asians.

Why?

Posted by: cld on May 10, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's not about race; it's about language.

Posted by: Bob M on May 10, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Arabs - they've made the same migration from non-whiteness to whiteness and then backstepped a bit. When Arabs (largely from Syria/Lebanon) started immigrating to the US in the 19th and early 20th century, they were stigmatized as some kind of brown, non-white - akin to Greeks and Italians, natch. Then by the 1960s all those Christian Lebanese-Americans decided they wanted official recognition as white, so they got the US Govt to define that ARab-Americans are white. My Lebanese-Am. cousins all fully believe they are white.

However, here in liberal California, my friends and teachers of color insist that Arabs are of color, and although I have a white mother and look pretty darned white (or at least Jewish), I get included in all kinds of Women-of-Color events/publications because of my very Arabic last name. I am honored, although sometimes I feel like I'm playing a role game of some sort. I'm the whitest of all my cousins, the designated Anglo in the family due to my Anglo mom and American upbringing, but amongst the people of color activists I am of color.

On the census I report myself as white and other (Arab-American); my children, who are 1/4 Arab and 1/4 Ashkenazy Jewish, are reported as white. BUt if the school district asks, I always add Arab-American to the "Other_____" line. It's mostly cultural solidarity. My kids are no more Arab than yours are. Maybe they eat more tabbouleh, willingly, than yours do, but other than that and a couple of words they learned from Grandpa, they are perceived as Anglo.

Go figure.

Posted by: Leila A. on May 10, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Addendum to the Arabs-as-NOT-a-minority issue - the American -Lebanese and -Palestinian Christians in the 60s lobbied to be termed NOT minorities, because they wanted to be white, so now people like my teacher the Egyptian-American professor cannot be termed an African-American or a minority, even though he was born in Africa, is dark-skinned, and gets treated like a minority.

Posted by: Leila on May 10, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Another point about Arabs and race is that the (often Christian) Lebanese and Syrians who comprised a high percentage of Arab-Americans until recently generally are lighter-skinned than most other Arabs. If the first Arab immigrants had been mostly from, say, Egypt or Yemen, I doubt that any Americans would consider Arabs to be white.
As an aside, I grew up in a Connecticut city that was very ethnic-conscious when I was a child in the late 1960's and early 1970's ("What sort of name is that?" was a question that met many newcomers). There were a number of people of Lebanese Christian ancestry, and no one ever thought of them as anything but another white ethnic group, perhaps a little more exotic than the Italians, Irish or Lithuanians but white nonetheless.
Armenians present another unusual racial situation in the United States. They're considered white in most parts of the country except California, which also is the part of the country with the largest Armenian population. It's almost as if California's Armenians have reached a sufficient "critical mass" to qualify as nonwhite.

Posted by: Peter on May 10, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Armenians present another unusual racial situation in the United States. They're considered white in most parts of the country except California, which also is the part of the country with the largest Armenian population. It's almost as if California's Armenians have reached a sufficient "critical mass" to qualify as nonwhite.

And yet Armenians, ironically, are as Caucasian as you can get....

Posted by: Stefan on May 10, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Genetic evidence supports the fact that self-reporting is usually false

Oh my, welcome to the world of blogs, where anything can be asserted with conviction. However, those of us who know of Google can easily refute such assertions:

The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That's an error rate of 0.14 percent. . . .

"This shows that people's self-identified race/ethnicity is a nearly perfect indicator of their genetic background," Risch said.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 10, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That's an error rate of 0.14 percent. . . .

But what about all the people who are of almost entirely white appearance but who cite the One-Drop Rule and consider themselves black due to some distant dark-skinned ancestors?

Posted by: Peter on May 10, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

The distinction between black and 'mixed race' is a crock of shit. It originated a couple of centuries ago when slaves were worth enough to induce owners to get the state legislators to define anyone with a tiny drop of 'black' blood in their veins as black. The distinction is a product of slavery. Face up to it. We still live in a slavery-disfigured society.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell on May 10, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

"OTOH, interesting piece of trivia I read someplace. It said that in Britain, the percentage of blacks who marry outside their race is 30%. In the US, it's 3%.

Dunno if it's true, dunno what it means, but it makes me go "hmmm."

Black/white couples appear in British TV ads. Can't remember the last time I saw one in an ad here.

My guess is that 99% of hispanics, a majority of blacks, and a healthy percentage of whites are mixed race.

Posted by: Boronx on May 10, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

This is a really dumb thread.

Posted by: BB on May 10, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hispanic refers to language, not genetics, so, for example, Argentinian immigrants to the US who are of European descent (and a lot of Italians migrated to Argentina) qualify as Hispanic and white.

Posted by: J on May 10, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

hey, we're all children of mother africa...

Posted by: doug r on May 10, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

I just killed two trolls with one stone.
Go to comment 48 on the preceeding thread.

American Hawk exposed!

Shame on you tbozo.
Tommy you are one sick bird.

You've been duping Kevin's threads long enough.
Makes one wonder how many other nicks you've been shitting with.

Must be all that dog chow you eat.
Get help please.

Posted by: Cruel troll killer on May 10, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

And yet Armenians, ironically, are as Caucasian as you can get....

So true, so poorly understood.

Even in high school I would put "decline to state" next to ethnicity/race/whatever. Now I'm getting to the point where I may start writing "atheist" as my race...

Posted by: craigie on May 10, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should just keep fucking eachother until we're all the same color.

Posted by: Bullworth on May 10, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should just keep fucking eachother until we're all the same color.

And thanks to frequent flyer miles, we can!

Posted by: craigie on May 10, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but it is a bigger than a "mere mistake from the Post's chartmaker, who reversed the numbers for Blacks and Asians in the right hand column. Ethnically speaking, it turns out that about 15% of under-fives are black, and 4% are Asian."

the text of the article says "The census figures show that the number of Hispanics and Asian children younger than 5 grew by double-digit percentages since 2000. The number of black children grew more slowly."

That statement is still not true if the numbers were merely switched by the chartmaker.

This represents very sloppy reporting by the WaPo.

Posted by: Dan on May 10, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should just keep fucking eachother until we're all the same color.

Take a look at this picture of twin girls, one has Black skin and the other has White skin.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 10, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't the Democrats push through legislation requiring something like a melanin check in order to determine whether someone is a Person of Color or a Person of Pallor? That would save them so much time. Perhaps some kind of a Pantone color matching chart could be uploaded to democrats.org so people could check. For complicated cases, they could do a DNA test.

-- Big Media Blog

Posted by: TLB on May 10, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at this picture of twin girls, one has Black skin and the other has White skin.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 10, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Whoot! Somebody got a bit on the side.

That blond kid is going to have trouble arguing for disadvantaged minority status. She looks pure-blood Aryan.

Posted by: McA on May 10, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hispanic refers to language, not genetics, so, for example, Argentinian immigrants to the US who are of European descent (and a lot of Italians migrated to Argentina) qualify as Hispanic and white.

As for example one of my in-laws, an Argentinian Jew, raised in England, with a Jewish (now Irish) last name and an English accent. Not a drop of Latin blood in her, but she can claim herself as "Hispanic" because of her nationality.

Posted by: Stefan on May 11, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

When did you last see Denzyl Washington or Eddie Murphy or Wesley Snipes kissing a white girl in a Hollywood production? It's true that most "African Americans are of mixed race, but that goes back to the years of slavery. There is still racial prejudice in much of America that is much less prominent in the UK

Posted by: Terry Hamblin on May 11, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

It's like changing millions into billions, something of this magnitude would catch someone's attention, yet Sullivan bought it. I guess it's not that obvious.

Posted by: Lace Andrews on May 11, 2006 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I think we should just keep fucking eachother until we're all the same color.

I wouldn't have put it so, ummm, bluntly, but there is actually something to what you say.

Have you ever noticed that, how shall I say, the offspring of mixed parentage are frequently attractive? For a counter example of the bad effects of inbreeding look at Prince Charles.

Science has shown that the most attractive facial features are the most 'average,' which certainly does not mean the most common. In facial features perfectly 'average' is actually very uncommon.

So overall genetic mixing of the human population would probably be better than what we have now, but so would outlawing the eating of meat and I don't think we are going to see either anytime too soon.

Posted by: Tripp on May 11, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

I really hope we'll get at least one column from Freidman about this, in which he provides personal anecdotes proving the decline in the black birthrate, which will almost certainly be made up - just like all his others.

Posted by: MDtoMN on May 11, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Sullivan talks about DC like he's never left the NorthWest. Some of us who lived in the NorthEast have no doubt that it will continue to have a LARGE black population for many years.

Tragically, I have to concede he isn't completely incorrect. Large numbers of DC black americans are moving into PG County. It's the same everywhere - a shockwave of homosexuals start gentrifying a black neighborhood, and then the straight yuppies who can pay even more move in and drive the homosexuals farther East. Sullivan is sufficiently wealthy that he qualifies as straight for these purposes.

Posted by: MDtoMN on May 11, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Black-white intermarriage rates in the UK might be higher than in the US because blacks are immigrants - in the US intermarriage rates among Asians and Hispanics with whites are much, much higher than whites with blacks. There's not the same historic baggage with immigrants as with the quite different history of black white relations in America.

I don't think Andrew Sullivan qualifies as straight for any purpose. If anything, gays move east after he moves in because plenty of gays in DC don't want to have anything to do with him.

Posted by: JimDC on May 11, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Peter:"There is some evidence that racially mixed (white/black) children have higher delinquency rates than black children."

Interesting finding--thanks for the link.

I have observed that the children of mixtures often struggle with their identity. I haven't seen hard statistics, but my impression is that they are more likely to suffer from depression. I think being mixed race is particularly hard on the African American kids reared with their white parent. From the several children I have talked with, the consequence is that they have big problems finding a peer group. They aren't black, and they aren't accepted by the black kids. They aren't white though they are accepted by the white kids. They don't know who they are. The lucky ones, the Halle Berry's, the Osama Barracks, figure it out eventually, and are positioned for achievement in a society that is longing for people "of color" with white culture socialization. But identify formation is a tough psychological problem for all teenagers, and the problem is magnified for those who don't fit in neat categories.

On a different, highly controversial matter, if these demographic numbers are accurate AND if group differences in IQ are real, not epiphenomena--one can predict a drop in the average IQ of the US from ~100 right now to ~98 in the future when these five year olds are adults.

Such a decline could be associated with significant economic changes. I wonder if the structure of our economy would become less technical: the population would have a smaller proportion of high ability "symbolic analysts" to fill technical, knowledge-creating/manipulating positions.

And, who knows, maybe in a peak oil, climate-changing society that would be a good thing, just what we need.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 11, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Peter:"There is some evidence that racially mixed (white/black) children have higher delinquency rates than black children."

As a mixed race person myself, I find this to be hooey.People always use that argument to make it seem like biracial kids are just lost and crazy. When it seems that this discussion in general supports the fact that reporting of race is flimsey to begin with. What about the black kids who go to all white schools, or the white kids that go to all black schools? I wonder if they are more socially oppositional?

Posted by: Rebita on May 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

one can predict a drop in the average IQ of the US from ~100 right now to ~98 in the future when these five year olds are adults. . .Such a decline could be associated with significant economic changes.

There have been a number of studies which have shown robust correlation between GDP/capita and mean national IQ.

Your observation on falling IQ, even with the Flynn Effect factored in, is probably accurate for we don't currently have any techniques to raise IQ. What the future may deliver is up in the air.

Fate would have served the US far better if our nation bordered a country peopled with East Asians, rather than Mestizo. Imagine the benefits from 12 million illegals coming from a nation with a mean IQ of 105, rather than the current situation where our illegals are coming from a nation where the Mestizo IQ is 84 and the Native Indians IQ is 83. This is precisely the situation in Russia's Far East:

"In the past, Chinese were considered cheap labor and Russian employers tried to get as many of them as they could," said Alexei Mortsev, 30. Mortsev is a former Russian navy sailor from Fokina, a city between Vladivostok and Nakhodka where submarines were built and that is still closed to outsiders. "Now the Russians are cheaper labor. Russians aren't owners anymore."
Posted by: TangoMan on May 11, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan: "our illegals are coming from a nation where the Mestizo IQ is 84 and the Native Indians IQ is 83."

If that is the case, then my estimate of 98 for a future average national IQ would be too high. I used a value of 92 for Hispanic. Use 84 instead and the future average IQ drops to 96.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 11, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN,

I'm more concerned about the slow emergence of what Yale Law Professor, and former IMF official, Amy Chua refers to as "market dominant minorities" and the social trauma and conflict that follows when the majority population can't compete against the more talented minorities in their midst. Her book World on Fire : How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability is quite interesting.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 11, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK
My guess is that 99% of hispanics, a majority of blacks, and a healthy percentage of whites are mixed race.

Well, "Hispanic" isn't, unlike White or Black, even notionally a racial category to begin with, its an "ethnic" category, a pure social construct (which, in fact, race is also) that doesn't (unlike race) pretend to be a genetic categorization.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 11, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I used a value of 92 for Hispanic. Use 84 instead

My error, the IQ data for Mestizo is 94, not 84. The Native Indian data for Mexico is correct at 83.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 11, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
I'm more concerned about the slow emergence of what Yale Law Professor, and former IMF official, Amy Chua refers to as "market dominant minorities" and the social trauma and conflict that follows when the majority population can't compete against the more talented minorities in their midst.

"More talented" might be a bad phrasing; as a recall that book, the distinction was principally one of historical advantage reinforced by the rewards to capital in "free trade" regimes, rather than "talent" per se.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 11, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK
Genetic evidence supports the fact that self-reporting is usually false

Er, no. Genetic evidence supports that fact that racial categorizations are subjective social constructs, not actual biological categories, to start with, so "true" and "false" are entirely inappropriate terms.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 11, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

the distinction was principally one of historical advantage

It's hard to argue for the position that being a minority, persecuted, and subject to higher levels of crime and harassment from the majority population can be construed as "historical advantage."

Chua didn't touch the issue of IQ or genetics, but the data is readily available and if one checks we see that every group that she has identified as a "market dominant minority" comes from a population with higher mean IQ than that of the majority populations. Seeing how Chua's argument didn't address IQ I didn't want to confuse her reporting with additional data, so I thereby chose to characterize situation under the catchall phrase "talent."

Posted by: TangoMan on May 11, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Such claims are not new. They formed part of the core of the eugenics movement that swept through the Anglo-American world and many other countries during the first third of the 20th century. In the United States, however, the biological distinctions that mainly obsessed eugenicists were not those between whites and blacks, but those then believed to divide whites -- differences between the old-stock white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant majority and the numerous Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe.


Eugenicists, who were themselves predominantly of the old majority, considered scholastic intelligence -- the kind indicated in IQ tests -- a paramount measure of human merit . . . To them, IQ tests appeared to determine that the newer immigrants were innately endowed with low intelligence, while their high birth rates seemed to indicate that they were spreading inferior genes into the population at a rapid rate. In the interest of reducing the proportion of the "less fit" in society, eugenicists in the United States helped restrict immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. They promoted the passage of eugenic sterilization laws that disproportionately threatened lower-income groups . . ."

Given that much (if not all) of these modern IQ differences are the result of cultural/social/economic factors, you need to consider change from being raised in the US, and ultimately into the second and third generations.

Posted by: Dan S. on May 11, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Given that much (if not all) of these modern IQ differences are the result of cultural/social/economic factors

No kidding? Care to back up this blowhardery with some evidence?

Posted by: TangoMan on May 11, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan: "I'm more concerned about the slow emergence of what Yale Law Professor, and former IMF official, Amy Chua refers to as "market dominant minorities" and the social trauma and conflict that follows when the majority population can't compete against the more talented minorities in their midst."

That something I hadn't started to worry about yet, but now I will.

DanS: "In the interest of reducing the proportion of the "less fit" in society, eugenicists in the United States helped restrict immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe."

It's an interesting phenomena that the moment anyone mentions observed differences in mental ability between groups, someone else responds with a reminder about the dangers of eugenics. I think it is good that we have learned our lesson so well.

Nevertheless, when our average national IQ drops from 100 to 98 or 97--as it will because these kids have already been born--we will see economic & social consequences. Fewer kids will go to college. Some jobs that are today filled by high ability people in America will not be replaced by Americans. High ability Americans will get more of the economic pie.

cmdicely: "Genetic evidence supports that fact that racial categorizations are subjective social constructs, not actual biological categories"

I thought that, too--that racial categorizations are social constructs not based in biology--but I've seen some research recently (probably in Science or Nature) suggesting that what are starkly called "breeding populations" can be differeniated on the basis of a small number of genes. Mind you, we are still 99.9% identical. And certainly complex behaviors attributed to racial stereotypes are social constructs.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 11, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's an interesting phenomena that the moment anyone mentions observed differences in mental ability between groups, someone else responds with a reminder about the dangers of eugenics

This is a boilerplate response.

I think it is good that we have learned our lesson so well.

It is a good thing that we have learned the lesson. In response to negative eugenics, courts have ruled that we can't interfere in procreation decisions. That establishes an excellent precedent for the rise of positive eugnenics, AKA "soccer mom choice." When the wealthy and the well to do start investing their money in giving their kids a leg up, and thus increasing the IQ gap, there will be little that the State can do, for to prohibit this practice would mean that the state is making eugenic choices. Welcome, Brave New World.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 11, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

"When the wealthy and the well to do start investing their money in giving their kids a leg up, and thus increasing the IQ gap"

Of course, they're doing this already, albeit by different means. In fact, it drives a whole range of social and economic decisions.


"--as it will because these kids have already been born"

They're under five. Prenatal environment's a given, but they still have a lot ahead of them.

"I thought that, too--that racial categorizations are social constructs not based in biology."

I certainly haven't been paying enough attention to recent research and debates, but don't forget, folk-racial categorizations are a social construct, whatever the biological reality. It's like sex/gender roles.

"we will see economic & social consequences. Fewer kids will go to college. Some jobs that are today filled by high ability people in America will not be replaced by Americans."
Well, what should happen - as it has before - is that you'd have folks filling open spaces on the lower rungs of the ladder as groups formerly occupying them sent more members further up. However, various policy choices seem likely to create a traffic jam.

"High ability Americans will get more of the economic pie."
Again, those privilaged by accident of birth (read that how you will) do seem in line to get more of the economic pie, as a result of various policy choices. That's what's most worrying to me.

"No kidding? Care to back up this blowhardery with some evidence?"

So you think much of these modern IQ differences aren't the result of cultural/social/economic factors? We're covering a lot of ground here . . .

Posted by: Dan S. on May 12, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Tangoman: "This is a boilerplate response."
That's a curious thing to say--what do you mean by that? Boilerplate? That I cut and pasted that comment from somewhere? I mean it as a meta-comment. One of the reasons it is so difficult to discuss mental ability is because too many people reflexively go into a "inferior-superior-must-prevent-labeling and killing of inferiors" mode.

You are right to distinquish between "negative eugenics" and "positive eugenics." Of course, everyone practices eugenics when it isn't called eugenics and our offspring are taller, smarter, more beautiful as a result.

The movie GATTACA has this memorable scene in which prospective parents meet with a doctor to select a child from fertilized eggs that have been screened for the best genetic material. It's supposed to be chilling, but most people I have discussed it with allow that, if everyone else was doing it, they would too. As you say, "Welcome, Brave New World."

DanS: "They're under five. Prenatal environment's a given, but they still have a lot ahead of them."

Alas, the evidence suggests that the gap just widens as the kids grow older. So far the evidence for environmental effects on mental ability are slight--good nutrition may help a little. The heritability of IQ--based on twin and family studies--is .749. Heritability means that the 74.9% of the variance among people in this particular sample can be attribute to differences in genetics. (This value is an aggregate across multiple studies and time periods. But all the samples came from normal environments. Some evidence has found lower heritability in impoverished environments.)

As for the economic consequences of a downward drift in mental ability, think of jobs as stratified by IQ: Not everyone has the mental ability to become a doctor or an accountant. Say in our current economy, of 1000 jobs, 23 jobs require people with an IQ of 130 (say) and we have 23 high ability people to fill them. A drift downwards in the average national IQ means that we will not have 23 individuals with IQs of 130 to fill those jobs in the future. We will have ~17. Either the jobs will be outsourced or six jobs will be filled by individuals with less ability and/or restructured.

But I hope I am wrong about these gloomy predictions.

I am sitting at my desk at work, and it's midnight. I'm tired. I really need to head home.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 12, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN,

That's a curious thing to say--what do you mean by that? Boilerplate? That I cut and pasted that comment from somewhere?

I didn't mean your comment, I meant that as soon as the topic comes up someone chimes in with a historical overview.

It's supposed to be chilling, but most people I have discussed it with allow that, if everyone else was doing it, they would too.

Check out PIGD. People are already starting to do this. As I'm sure you already know, the market price at Ivy League schools for a woman's eggs is in the vicinity of $50,000. Jodie Foster sought out a sperm donor with a 160 IQ.

Posted by: TangoMan on May 12, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

Im Spanish, Im from Spain, Im from Europe, and I felt when I was in Denver,CO that most of you (I think same percenteage in rest US) thought Spain was near to Argentina and I was treated as Hispanic.

Stop acting like white-supremacy, I thought it was gone but its still inside you.

Im white and blond, but my English is poor... so Im Hispanic!! easy-thinking!!

I had to explain a hundred of times about Barcelona or Madrid, I guess more of you still dont know where is Spain.

Posted by: kiltro on May 14, 2006 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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