Reason, Liberty, & Culture

IQ Versus Outcome Not So Simple

by Lewis Loflin

Dr. Murray (below) notes a study of IQ differences between siblings and their outcomes in life. This eliminated the excuse of environmental factors, racism, or class privilege.

The "IQ gap" could not be overcome and outcomes differed - at least measured by income. The "dulls" also suffered more self-inflicted social ills.

"IQ" is not a social construct but is biological. But we need to understand what IQ really means. We must also understand IQ is not everything - far from it.

I wrote Intelligence Predicts Economic Social Outcome. I noted ability varies and it varies a lot. This can not be social engineered that much either way. I prefer the term intelligence over IQ and there are seven "intelligence" factors.

This is Howard Gardner's 7 intelligences. They are bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, logical-mathematical, and linguistic. We all have the 7 but to varying degrees.

Bodily-kinetic and musical pertains to musicians and athletes. Professional football is not high school football. A professional football player may be illiterate. He earns millions more than a college professor.

A difference in ability leading to a differing outcome is acceptable. Nobody will dispute this. No amount of social engineering will make the masses into star athletes or rock stars. Professional athletes and musicians are not protected from negative social outcomes. Drugs, divorce, etc. plague these industries.

This where interpersonal and intrapersonal come into play. These are the two most important in my view.

Interpersonal intelligence involves interactions with other people. One is very good at sensing others' emotions, motivations, and I would add a lot of empathy and an ability to nurture. Women are best at this and pursue professions such as nursing and social work. Women are far less likely to commit violent crime and are the last to want to go to war. Their "IQ" clusters near the middle.

Intrapersonal intelligence involves knowing oneself. One has a realistic grasp on emotions and limitations. They exert self-discipline and put aside instant gratification and impulsive behavior. They exert self-control in stressful situations.

Lack of intrapersonal intelligence can lead to self-destructive behaviors. This includes poor judgment, and even criminality. This varies more in men than women. (My opinion.) Some men have higher variation in IQs than women, while men are more likely to be in prison. IQ test of criminals shows averages below the norm.

We accept the fact women are less likely to be murderers than men. Prison numbers prove that. But men make up most of the Nobel Prize winners in science. Then the we get conspiracy theories of sexism. We get Jews as disproportionate winners of Nobel prizes.

We get anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Every modern scientific advance has come from Western Culture and Europe and America.

And those that emulate Wetern Culture in East Asia do just as well. Yet virtually zero innovation from Latin America, the Islamic world, Africa, most of Asia. Yet we get conspiracy theories of racism, colonialism, on and on. East Asians have a slightly higher "IQ" than whites while whites are more creative. That difference could be due to culture.

Mexico and Latin America were at the same level of South Korea in the 1050s. Today Latin is mostly violent, dysfunctional, and poor. Korea is affluent and successful. Efforts in America to bridge the achievement-IQ gap has failed totally. Asian Americans are kept out of universities by race quotas designed to admit lower achieving Hispanics. We know there's a difference in ability but refuse to address it.

What we call "smart" people evolves around spatial, logical-mathematical, and linguistic. From these come scientific and technical. Also a lot of white collar occupations such as law, journalism, etc. But "smart" people can be just as self-destructive and even genocidal.

Stalin, Pol-Pot, Lenin, Mao, etc. were very intelligent but lacked in humanity - interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.

Just because one is "smart" has nothing to with morality. Some on both sides of the political spectrum display criminal indifference towards others. Some are genocidal believing certain people have no right to even live. No better example is the fanatical abortion "rights" which is simply murder. They are human beings whose existence is less important than population control. Don't kid yourself it's about women's rights.

Far too many bureaucrats and technocrats lack empathy towards those they rule over if given power. The become elitist and intolerant towards any disagreement. A high IQ doesn't keep one from building gulags and death camps. Many Nazis and communists were college graduates.

IQ and how we sort out as individuals with the 7 intelligences can't be changed. It makes us who we are. Yet many can live good lives if they exert self control and know their limitations. Government enforced "equality" or conformity has killed millions.

To quote Thomas Sowell:

The social dogma that is still being endlessly repeated is that disparities in incomes, occupations and other kinds of success are all due to "stereotypes" that lead to discrimination against minorities. Yet some minorities are doing better than the majority that has been doing the discriminating...

None of this would be possible if discrimination were the be-all and end-all explanation of intergroup differences in incomes, occupations or other measures of success...

See Do 'minorities' really have it that bad? by Thomas Sowell.

Original title IQ Will Put You In Your Place by Charles Murray Sunday Times, UK, May 25 1997.

A longer version of this article appears in the summer issue of The Public Interest.

Imagine several hundred families which face few of the usual problems that plague modern society. Unemployment is zero. Illegitimacy is zero. Divorce is rare and occurs only after the children's most formative years. Poverty is absent - indeed, none of the families is anywhere near the poverty level. Many are affluent and all have enough income to live in decent neighbourhoods with good schools and a low crime rate.

If you have the good fortune to come from such a background, you will expect a bright future for your children. You will certainly have provided them with all the advantages society has to offer. But suppose we follow the children of these families into adulthood. How will they actually fare?

A few years ago the late Richard Herrnstein and I published a controversial book about IQ, The Bell Curve, in which we said that much would depend on IQ. On average, the bright children from such families will do well in life - and the dull children will do poorly. Unemployment, poverty and illegitimacy will be almost as great among the children from even these fortunate families as they are in society at large - not quite as great, because a positive family background does have some good effect, but almost, because IQ is such an important factor.

"Nonsense!" said the critics. "Have the good luck to be born to the privileged and the doors of life will open to you - including doors that will let you get a good score in an IQ test. Have the bad luck to be born to a single mother struggling on the dole and you will be held down in many ways - including your IQ test score." The Bell Curve's purported relationships between IQ and success are spurious, they insisted: nurture trumps nature; environment matters more than upbringing.

An arcane debate about statistical methods ensued. Then several American academics began using a powerful, simple way of testing who was right: instead of comparing individual children from different households, they compared sibling pairs with different IQs. How would brothers and sisters who were nurtured by the same parents, grew up in the same household and lived in the same neighbourhood, but had markedly different IQs, get on in life?

The research bears out what parents of children with unequal abilities already know - that try as they might to make Johnny as bright as Sarah, it is difficult, and even impossible, to close the gap between them.

A very large database in the United States contains information about several thousand sibling pairs who have been followed since 1979. To make the analysis as unambiguous as possible, I have limited my sample to brothers and sisters whose parents are in the top 75 per cent of American earners, with a family income in 1978 averaging �40,000 (in today's money).

Families living in poverty, or even close to it, have been excluded. The parents in my sample also stayed together for at least the first seven years of the younger sibling's life.

Each pair consists of one sibling with an IQ in the normal range of 90-110 ,a range that includes 50% of the population. I will call this group the normals. The second sibling in each pair had an IQ either higher than 110, putting him in the top quartile of intelligence (the bright) or lower than 90, putting him in the bottom quartile (the dull). These constraints produced a sample of 710 pairs.

How much difference did IQ make? Earned income is a good place to begin. In 1993, when we took our most recent look at them, members of the sample were aged 28-36. That year, the bright siblings earned almost double the average of the dull: $22,400 compared to $11,800. The normals were in the middle, averaging $16,800.

These differences are sizeable in themselves. They translate into even more drastic differences at the extremes. Suppose we take a salary of $50,000 or more as a sign that someone is an economic success. A bright sibling was six-and-a-half times more likely to have reached that level than one of the dull. Or we may turn to the other extreme, poverty: the dull sibling was five times more likely to fall below the American poverty line than one of the bright.

Equality of opportunity did not result in anything like equality of outcome. Another poverty statistic should also give egalitarians food for thought: despite being blessed by an abundance of opportunity, 16.3% of the dull siblings were below the poverty line in 1993. This was slightly higher than America's national poverty rate of 15.1 percent.

Opportunity, clearly, isn't everything. In modern America, and also, I suspect, in modern Britain, it is better to be born smart and poor than rich and stupid. Another way of making this point is to look at education. It is often taken for granted that parents with money can make sure their children get a college education. The young people in our selected sample came from families that were overwhelmingly likely to support college enthusiastically and have the financial means to help. Yet while 56% of the bright obtained university degrees, this was achieved by only 21% of the normals and a minuscule 2% of the dulls. Parents will have been uniformly supportive, but children are not uniformly able.

The higher prevalence of college degrees partly explains why the bright siblings made so much more money, but education is only part of the story. Even when the analysis is restricted to siblings who left school without going to college, the brights ended up in the more lucrative occupations that do not require a degree, becoming technicians, skilled craftsmen, or starting their own small businesses. The dull siblings were concentrated in menial jobs.

The differences among the siblings go far beyond income. Marriage and children offer the most vivid example. Similar proportions of siblings married, whether normal, bright or dull - but the divorce rate was markedly higher among the dull than among the normal or bright, even after taking length of marriage into account.

Demographers will find it gloomily interesting that the average age at which women had their first birth was almost four years younger for the dull siblings than for the bright ones, while the number of children born to dull women averaged 1.9, half a child more than for either the normal or the bright.

Most striking of all were the different illegitimacy rates. Of all the first-born children of the normals, 21% were born out of wedlock , about a third lower than the figure for the United States as a whole, presumably reflecting the advantaged backgrounds from which the sibling sample was drawn. Their bright siblings were much lower still, with less than 10% of their babies born illegitimate. Meanwhile, 45% of the first-born of the dull siblings were born outside of marriage.

The inequalities among siblings that I have described are from 1993 and are going to become much wider in the years ahead. The income trajectory for low-skill occupations usually peaks in a worker's twenties or thirties. The income trajectory for managers and professionals usually peaks in their fifties. The snapshot I have given you was taken for an age group of 28-36 when many of the brights are still near the bottom of a steep rise into wealth and almost all the dulls' incomes are stagnant or even falling. . . .

The inequalities I have presented are the kind you are used to seeing in articles that compare inner-city children with suburban ones, black with white, children of single parents with those from intact families. Yet they refer to the children of a population more advantaged in jobs, income and marital stability than even the most starry-eyed social reformer can hope to achieve.

You may be wondering whether the race, age or education of siblings affects my figures. More extended analyses exist, but the short answer is that the phenomena I have described survive such questions. Siblings who differ in IQ also differ widely in important social outcomes, no matter how anyone tries to explain away the results. Ambitious parents may be dismayed by this conclusion, but it is none the less true for all that.

A final thought: I have outlined the inequalities that result from siblings with different IQs. Add in a few other personal qualities: industry, persistence, charm, and the differences among people will inevitably produce a society of high inequalities, no matter how level the playing field has been made. Indeed, the more level the playing field, and the less that accidents of birth enter into it, the more influence personal qualities will have.

I make this point as an antidote to glib thinking on both sides of the Atlantic and from both sides of the political spectrum. Inequality is too often seen as something that results from defects in society that can be fixed by a more robust economy, more active social programs, or better schools. It is just not so.

The effects of inequality cannot be significantly reduced, let alone quelled, unless the government embarks on a compulsory redistribution of wealth that raises taxes astronomically and strictly controls personal enterprise. Some will call this social justice. Others will call it tyranny. I side with the latter, but whichever position one takes, it is time to stop pretending that, without such massive compulsion, human beings in a fair and prosperous society will ever be much more equal than they are now.

What about education fraud? Quoting Professor Walter Williams:

Some of the greatest fraud occurs at the higher education levels — colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college. Here are my questions to you: If only 37 percent of white high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 70 percent of them? And if roughly 17 percent of black high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 58 percent of them?