Category: Cognitive Ability

Genetics and the black-white cognitive ability gap

I began investigating potential investigating possible environmental causes of the cognitive ability gap in another post. I argued that common environmental explanations – test bias, schooling, socioeconomic status, and societal racism – failed to explain the gap. Because common environmental explanations fail, it may prove useful to consider non-environmental (i.e. genetic) explanations of the gap. I will perform this task in this post. First, I will clarify the meaning of estimates of the heritability of intelligence. Next, I criticize some common poor arguments against genetic explanations of the gap. Then I will consider some arguments for a genetic explanation of the gap that are related to the heritability of intelligence. I conclude that such arguments are not sufficient to make any conclusion either way about the cause of the gap. I end by detailing the kinds of direct data that should be used to confidently conclude whether and to what degree the cognitive ability gap is due to genetic differences.

The cognitive ability of blacks raised by non-blacks

In a previous post, I argued that the black-white cognitive ability gap is responsible for many of the undesirable social disparities that we find between blacks and whites in the United States – including disparities in income, education, occupation, and crime. This means that the cause of the cognitive ability gap is extremely important, as this informs how (and if) we can reduce these social disparities. In another post, I examined some arguments on whether the gap is due to genetic differences or environmental differences. In that post, I concluded that we must use direct data to quantify the degree to which the black-white cognitive ability gap is due to genetic differences vs environmental differences. In this post, I will attempt to review all such direct data. I conclude that a primarily environmental explanation of the gap is most compatible with all the relevant direct data.

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