The Reality of Racial Differences
By • 1/17/07
The culture of the age that we live in is founded on a lie: racial egalitarianism. It is an article of faith in the West that all racial differences in abilities and personality stem from environmental, rather than biological, factors.
This dogma has been conventional wisdom among the Western elites since 1950, when the United Nations published its “Statement on Race,” which declared: “There is no proof that the groups of mankind differ in their intelligence or temperament. The scientific evidence indicates that the range of mental capacities in all ethnic groups is the same…. Genetic differences are not of importance in determining the social and cultural differences between different groups of Homo sapiens.” Link, p. 102.
In succeeding years this belief has entrenched itself. A 2003 documentary on PBS, entitled Race: The Power of an Illusion, expressed a view that is more or less entirely unchallenged today in the media and most of the academy: race is a myth constructed by whites to justify colonialism and slavery. The documentary urged viewers to take an environmentalist view of racial differences:
Try a paradigm shift. Every time the mind gropes toward the seemingly evident—that, say, black people are better at sports, or Asians at math and music—deconstruct it. Look for the social reasons, the economic reasons, the cultural reasons why these stereotypes only seem to hold true.1
So crucial is this lie to our society, and so weak the empirical support for it, that Western universities must silence those who contradict it. Two cases of such silencing have occurred over the last two years. After Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies at Leeds University in Britain, stated his belief in the reality of racial differences in the student newspaper, the university and local political elite immediately began calling for his dismissal. One local politician called Ellis’s views “narrow-minded, intellectually bankrupt, morally reprehensible nonsense.” He eventually chose early retirement after the university began disciplinary proceedings against him. A similar fate befell Australian professor Andrew Fraser after he declared his race realist views.
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The heart of race realism is recognizing this lie for what it is. Research on differences between the behavior of whites and blacks has decisively refuted the environmentalist view. Indeed, at least a large school, and perhaps even a majority, of specialists in the study of intelligence believe that the black-white gap in IQ is rooted in biology. There is also powerful evidence that blacks and whites differ innately in other respects, including sexual behavior and ability to defer gratification.
This article focuses on differences between whites and blacks because these differences have received the greatest amount of attention from scholars, not because they are the only, or even necessarily the most important, racial differences. Black-white differences are thus the best test of the validity of the innatist and environmentalist perspectives. Given the dominant role that genes play in determining behavior, it is likely that many of the differences among the cultures of the world have biological roots.
The Power of Genes
There is no denying that racial populations differ in their behavior. All the statistics on high-school graduation rates, out-of-wedlock births, crime rates, and other behaviors regularly reveal substantial differences between blacks and whites. The environmentalist view depends on the premise that genetic makeup does not play a major role in the formation of these differences. Rather, environmentalists attribute black behavior to social factors like poverty, inferior schooling, and racial discrimination.2 For more on the environmentalist interpretation of racial differences, see “The Lesson of Race Denial”.
This view, however, contradicts the known facts. The science of behavior genetics, or the study of the genetic basis of differences among human beings, has revealed the power of heredity in shaping our personalities. Given the strong influence of genes, it is highly unlikely that racial differences have no genetic component.
The primary means of sorting out the influence of genes and environment on behavior is twin studies. Scientists can measure the contributions of the two factors by comparing the similarities among identical twins, who have the same genes, to those among fraternal twins, who share only half of their genes, to those among children reared together in the same household, who are not genetically related. Additionally, scientists can compare twins who were raised apart to those who were raised together.
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Not only do twin studies enable scientists to assess to what extent people’s personalities are due to genes and environment, but also the nature of the environmental influence. By comparing the similarities between twins reared together to those between twins reared apart, scientists can calculate to what extent twins’ personalities are influenced by the circumstances of their upbringing, which scientists call their “shared environment.”
This research has concluded that shared environment has a negligible effect on how people turn out, and genes a major one. Adult identical twins are highly similar across the whole range of behaviors and abilities. Astonishingly, identical twins who are separated at birth and reared apart are almost as similar to each other as twins reared together.3 However, children who are unrelated but raised in the same household are no more similar to each other after they have reached adulthood than any two random strangers would be.4 The general rule is that about forty to fifty percent of the variation in behavior and abilities among individuals is determined by heredity, half by non-shared environment—experiences that are unique to an individual—, and zero to 10 percent by shared environment.5
Intelligence is one of the personality traits most strongly influenced by genes. Although genes have a weaker influence in childhood, a full 80 percent of the variation among adults in intelligence is due to heredity.6 The IQs of identical twins have a correlation of 0.86, whereas those of fraternal twins have a much weaker correlation of 0.6. However, after they have grown to be adults, there is no correlation at all between the IQs of unrelated children who are reared in the same household.7
This research makes the environmentalist view of racial differences highly implausible. The social factors to which environmentalists attribute racial differences, such as poverty and inferior schooling, are part of blacks’ shared environment, as they affect the black population as a whole. However, shared environment has no effect on IQ and little effect on other personality attributes.
The power of genes to affect behavior is evident not merely from the scientific results of twin studies, but from psychologists’ accounts of the similarities in behavior among identical twins separated at birth who have never met each other before. For example, among the subjects of the largest study of twins reared apart were 39-year-old twins who both had worked part-time as sheriffs, both smoked Salem cigarettes, drank Miller Lite Beer, bit their fingernails, and enjoyed scattering love notes to their wives around the house.8 Another pair had long made it their practice never to express any opinions on controversial issues. Two were helpless gigglers, even though both described their parents as serious. Other pairs each had the habit of wearing seven rings on their hands, or obsessively counted things, or had each been married five times, or were fashion designers, and so forth.9
If genes shape our personalities down to the smallest details, it is very likely that substantial and constant behavioral differences among races have some genetic component.
Racial Differences in Intelligence
The black-white gap in IQ is the racial difference that has been most extensively researched, publicized, and argued over. Psychologists have consistently found a gap of about one standard deviation, or 15 points, between the mean IQ of American blacks and whites ever since IQ tests began to be administered nearly a century ago. American blacks have a mean IQ of about 85 and whites of about 100.
There is no doubt that IQ tests do measure intelligence. As Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray demonstrated exhaustively in The Bell Curve, a person’s IQ is the strongest predictor of his school performance and socio-economic success as an adult.10
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The stability of the difference across time strengthens the case of race realists. Despite all the efforts made in the US to achieve parity among the races, the IQ gap has not gone away. In 1917, the first large scale IQ tests in America found about a 17-point difference between the scores of the races; the most recent studies show the difference is about the same.11 The equalization of spending on black and white education, government educational programs for the poor, diversity training, and all the rest of it simply have had no discernible effect on the racial IQ gap.
Not only is the difference found consistently across time, but also across place. Blacks all over the world have a mean IQ that is low relative to that of whites. In reviewing the literature on black intelligence in Race Differences in Intelligence, Richard Lynn found that the 57 studies of the IQ of blacks in Africa conducted between 1955 and 1994 consistently showed that they had a mean IQ of around 67.12 Fourteen studies between 1986 and 2002 of blacks in the Caribbean and Latin America found a mean IQ of 71.13 Thirty-one studies of American blacks between 1918 and 1998 found a mean IQ of 85.14 Twenty-nine studies conducted in Britain and the Netherlands between 1966 and 2002 found a black IQ of 85 there as well.15 In Israel, two studies of Ethiopian immigrants who are Jewish by religion but racially black found a mean IQ of 65.16
Some of the most powerful evidence of the biological origin of racial differences in intelligence comes from trans-racial adoption studies. For example, a 1992 study examining the IQs of adopted white and black 17-year-olds raised in upper-middle-class white families found that despite their similar environment, the adopted children with two biological white parents had a mean IQ of 106, whereas the adoptees with two black biological parents had a mean IQ of 89.17
In light of evidence like this, none of the environmentalists’ explanations of racial differences in intelligence is even remotely plausible. Some object that IQ tests are not a good measure of intelligence because they contain questions that whites are more likely to know the answers to than blacks. But the racial difference appears even on reaction-time IQ tests, in which subjects must respond as quickly as possible to a simple visual stimulus, such as a flashing light or a change in color in a dot on a screen.18 It is difficult to see how such tests could be culturally biased.
Nor do arguments that blacks score lower on tests because of socio-economic deficits hold water. If class background explains differences in IQ scores, why do blacks raised in upper-middle-class white families score so much lower on IQ tests than whites from the same background? Moreover, black high-schoolers from affluent backgrounds regularly score lower than whites from poor households on SAT tests, which are a good measure of intelligence.19
In media coverage of race, including the PBS documentary mentioned earlier, hand-picked authorities tell the audience that the genetic theory of the racial IQ gap has no credibility among experts and is merely a relic of pernicious superstitions. This is another lie. The school of researchers that argues for the biological basis of racial intelligence differences, among whom are psychologists Arthur Jensen, J. P. Rushton, and Richard Lynn, have solid academic credentials and publish in peer-reviewed psychological journals, and their work is respected even by those who disagree with them. Furthermore, in 1988, a survey of experts in intelligence and its measurement found that a full 53 percent believed that the black-white difference in IQ was partially genetic in origin. The same study found the news media consistently overestimated the percentage of IQ experts holding egalitarian views. There can be little doubt there still exists today at least a significant school of experts that hold race realist views despite pressure from their colleagues and society at large to abandon them.
Racial Differences in Sexual Behavior
Although the racial difference in intelligence has received the most attention, it is only one of many. In fact, blacks and whites differ across a whole range of personality attributes. The fact that these differences are found the world over is strong evidence that they stem from the differing genetic makeup of the races rather than from any accident of history or culture.
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The races differ in sexual behavior: blacks are more sexually promiscuous than whites and are less inclined to form long-term sexual partnerships. The sexual mores prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa differ radically from Western norms. African sexuality is characterized by the early onset of sexual activity, loose emotional ties between sexual partners, and matings with many different partners. For example, among the Herero tribe of southwest Africa, men typically sire many children by different women before they marry at the late age of 35 to 40. The tribe considers this behavior normal and does not stigmatize the children of out-of-wedlock unions.20 In 1987, 64 percent of African adolescents reported being sexually experienced vs. only 40 percent of European adolescents.21 Africans also have sex with greater frequency than whites.22
The same difference is evident in the US. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2005 sixty-seven percent of black high school students reported having had sex, whereas only 43 percent of white high school students did. Twenty-eight percent of black high-schoolers said they had had four or more sexual partners in their lifetimes, compared to only 11 percent of white high-schoolers.23 Also, in 2002, black men aged 15-44 reported having had 8.3 sexual partners in their lifetimes on average, whereas white men reported 5.3.24
These differences in sexual promiscuity create enormous differences in susceptibility to sexual diseases. In 2005, over six percent of Africans aged 15-44 were HIV positive, compared to 0.5 percent of North Americans and Europeans, making the HIV incidence rate in Africa a full 12 times higher than in the West.25 Blacks in the US show the same pattern. According to the CDC, US blacks are 10 times more likely than whites to have AIDS. There are similar differences in other sexually-transmitted diseases. In 2005, 9.8 out of every 100,000 American blacks had syphilis vs. 1.8 whites, making the black syphilis rate more than five times higher. American statistics on parenting also reveal blacks’ lack of inclination to form long-term sexual bonds. The CDC reports that no less than 70 percent of all black births were to unmarried women in 2005, which is about three times higher than the percentage of births to unmarried women among whites. Black children are three times more likely to live with a single mother than white children.26
Racial Differences in Ability to Defer Gratification
A third domain in which whites and blacks differ is the ability to defer present gratification for greater future rewards. It is essential to success in modern societies that we be willing to accept privations and hardships in the present for the sake of greater good down the road. Buying a house in the future often requires that you save and invest your money rather than spending it immediately. Getting a good job in the future often requires that you endure difficult and costly training in the present. Scientific studies and statistics on behavior show blacks have a lower ability to defer gratification than whites. Blacks’ inability to focus on the long-term makes them more prone than whites to socially irresponsible behaviors such as crime, unemployment, and drug addiction.
The psychologist Walter Mischel demonstrated this racial difference clearly in a 1961 study. He offered black and white children the choice between a small candy bar immediately or a larger candy bar a week hence. The black children were so much more likely than whites to ask for the smaller candy bar that Mischel deemed significance tests superfluous. He concluded, in the blunt language that his day still allowed, “Negroes are impulsive, indulge themselves, settle for next to nothing if they can get it right away, do not work or wait for bigger things in the future.”27
A particularly good example of the consequences of blacks’ inability to defer gratification is their higher crime rates. Criminals are the best examples of people who favor present gratification at the expense of long-term rewards: a mugger is willing to sacrifice his whole future for the chance of stealing someone’s wallet. According to the research report “The Color of Crime” by the New Century Foundation, which publishes American Renaissance, blacks in America are seven times more likely than whites to be in prison. Nor is this an artifact of racial discrimination by the legal system: the report also proves that the available evidence leaves no doubt that police are equally likely to arrest white criminals as black criminals and judges equally likely to convict them. Blacks are more likely to commit every category of crime than whites, but the gap is particularly wide in the categories of robbery, which blacks are 15 times more likely to commit than whites, and drug offenses, which blacks are 12 times more likely to commit.28
“The Color of Crime” also proves that this difference in criminality is not caused by black social disadvantage. Examining violent crime rates by state, the report finds the percentage of the state’s population that is black or Hispanic is a far better predictor of crime levels than poverty, unemployment, or high-school dropout rates. Furthermore, even when you control for these factors, the relationship between percentage black and Hispanic and crime rates remains almost as strong as before. This indicates that even if whites were just as socially disadvantaged as blacks, the racial difference in criminality would still be almost as great as it currently is.29
This difference in criminality prevails internationally as well. Using data from international surveys of crime, J. Phillippe Rushton found that violent crime was twice as common in Africa and the Caribbean as in predominantly white countries.30
Many other differences between white and black behavior are consequences of the difference in ability to defer gratification. Blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites, indicating they prefer the present pleasure of sleeping in and “hanging out” to the long-term rewards afforded by holding a steady job. Blacks also spend three times as much of their income on movies as whites, who are more prone to save their money for major purchases in the future.31
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These racial differences create major differences in lifestyle between blacks and whites that cause blacks to struggle in white societies. No matter how much taxpayer money is devoted to improving black education, employment, and so forth, blacks continue to lag. Year after year, they do worse in school than whites, commit crime at higher rates, and are more likely to be unemployed and impoverished.
This insurmountable difference in lifestyle suggests that the white and black mind were designed to form basically different types of society suited to different conditions. The reason for the differing psychologies of whites and blacks is not hard to find. Blacks are a people adapted for tropical conditions: until the first Muslims began taking African slaves in the 10th century, all blacks lived in the tropics. Whites, however, spent 18,000 years of their evolutionary history living through the Ice Age. A world of ice and snow makes radically different demands of an organism than one of sun and lush forests. Life-threatening cold would have spurred early Europeans to evolve greater intelligence, family nurturance, and ability to plan for the future. For more about the evolution of racial differences, see Ice People and Sun People.
Other Racial Differences
The nature and causes of differences between whites and blacks have been studied substantially, and there are, consequently, a number of easily available reviews of research on this topic. Little research, and fewer reviews, exist on other racial differences, however. Psychologists have, of course, determined the IQ scores of populations all around the globe, and these have been summarized in Richard Lynn’s Race Differences in Intelligence, but there is little beyond this.
The lack of information on the innate characteristics of the world’s races is a major scandal. It is of the utmost importance that the nature of the races be known, not only because of their inherent interest, but also because they have critical implications for public policy. Take the effort of the US to establish a democracy in Iraq as an example. In a sane world, the US would have found out before it started the effort whether a population had to have certain psychological characteristics to be capable of democracy. Does a population have to have a certain minimum IQ for democracy to take root in it? Is a certain level of altruism required? To determine this and other foreign policy matters, the US government would have employed psychologists and geneticists by the thousands to gather and evaluate information on the innate characteristics of the world’s peoples. Without such information, however, we are forced to proceed in the dark, with predictably unfortunate consequences.
In the absence of scientific research on how the races differ, race realists are within their rights to make their best guess. If people object to our guesses, we can always respond that scientists have failed in their responsibility to provide us with better information. Under what circumstances, then, is it appropriate to judge that a trait that is common among members of a given race is due to innate factors? There are two good guidelines. A racial trait is probably innate if members of a given race show the trait in many different parts of the world and social contexts, and these behaviors persist in spite of incentives and pressure to change them.
Take South Asians/North Africans (SANA) as an example. According to Luca Cavalli-Sforza, the world’s foremost authority on population genetics, the predominant population of the region of the world stretching from Morocco to Bangladesh forms a distinct genetic cluster.32 People from this region, whether Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, or Jordanians, show a tendency towards violent tribalism, which expresses itself as a fanatical commitment to Islam. They manifest their violent tribalism not only in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but also in the very different societies of the West when they immigrate there. This behavior persists in spite of powerful pressures and incentives to change it. SANA’s violent tribalism has resulted in economic sanctions and actual military invasion in their homelands. Once they immigrate to West, moreover, SANAs have every reason to assimilate into their host societies, as assimilation would enable them to prosper. In spite of these pressures and incentives, SANAs prove themselves willing again and again to blow themselves up in order to extend the dominion of Islam, or their particular version of it. Furthermore, sizable minorities of SANA immigrants in the West, and actual majorities in their homelands, support terrorists. This being the case, it is reasonable to suspect that violent tribalism might be in their blood.
It is absolutely crucial that the West wake up to the reality of racial differences, as these have implications across the whole spectrum of public policy. Is it realistic or desirable for universities to recruit black students if blacks are less intelligent than whites? Is it wise to prevent police from racially profiling if blacks are naturally more likely to commit crime than whites? Above all, is it a good idea to accept black immigrants into our societies if they are naturally incompatible with it? So crucial are these questions, and others like them, that the very future of the West may depend on our finding the right answers.