Tag: race

The early emergence of black-white disparities

Most people are aware of the significant disparities between blacks and whites regarding a wide range of important social outcomes, including crime, income, education, poverty, welfare usage, etc. I have written extensively on racial disparities in crime and on the degree to which disparities in IQ explain many of the important racial disparities. In this post, I will review studies and data that show that many of these disparities appear extremely early. Specifically, I will show that disparities in IQ, cognitive skills, misconduct, and self-regulation appear extremely early in life. For each of these categories, I will show that we find black-white disparities at pre-school age or even earlier. The general pattern for these disparities is that they gradually grow as children age, until the magnitude of the disparities eventually mirror the gaps that we find between black and white adults.

Police killings and black crime

In light of the killing of George Floyd, there has been much discussion regarding anti-black bias in the criminal justice system (CJS) in the United States. It seems to me that the mainstream assumption is that the disproportionate police killings of black people is strong evidence of an anti-black bias in the CJS. My goal in this post is to refute this assumption. I believe that an honest and impartial assessment of all of the relevant data provides strong reason to deny that the disproportionate police killings of blacks is evidence of anti-black bias. I will argue that the best explanation of disproportionate police killings against blacks doesn’t involve any appeal to an anti-black bias. The best explanation consists in the fact that black people disproportionately engage in criminal activity and the fact that the police disproportionately kill criminals.

Exploring two common explanations of the black-white crime gap

The purpose of this post is to explore two commonly hypothesized explanations of the high levels of criminality in the black population. The first explanation states that high rates of black crime is primarily the result of systemic racism against blacks. The second explanation states that high rates of black crime is primarily the result of the structural or socioeconomic circumstances that black people find themselves in. I will present data that should prompt skepticism of both of these explanations. I’ll begin by describing racial differences in crime.

Studies attempting to explain the black-white crime gap

In a previous post, I provided reasons to be skeptical of SES-based explanations of black criminality. This post provides studies that attempt to more rigorously examine the relationship between SES and black criminality. At the city and state level, crime is more strongly associated with the presence of blacks than it is with low-SES conditions. At the neighborhood level, studies suggest that controlling for SES can statistically account for a moderate portion of the black-white gaps in crime (although findings are mixed on the magnitude of the explained gap). Regardless, as I will argue below, such studies cannot demonstrate causality. That is, they cannot demonstrate that racial differences in neighborhood SES cause any portion of the racial gap in crime.

Causes of disproportionate black crime

In a previous post, I argued that systemic racism and socioeconomic status (SES) were poor explanations of disproportionate levels of black crime. I concluded with the claim that the intelligence gap (or IQ gap), not the SES gap, is the primary cause of the disproportionate levels of black crime. In other words, the IQ gap is the primary cause of the disparities in crime between blacks and whites. I will defend this claim in the first half of this post. Another significant cause of the black-white crime gap seems to be differences in family structure between blacks and whites, e.g. racial differences in the rates of single-mother households and out-of-wedlock birth rates. I will explore the importance of family structure in the second half of the post.

Two arguments in defense of affirmative action

Thomas Nagel (1981) distinguishes between two forms of affirmative action. “Weak” affirmative action refers to “to special efforts to ensure equal opportunity for members of groups that had been subject to discrimination”. This can include public advertisement of positions to be filled, active recruitment of qualified applicants from the formerly excluded groups, and special training programs to help them meet the standards for admission or appointment. “Strong” affirmative action refers to “some degree of definite preference for members of these groups in determining access to positions from which they were formerly excluded.” The “weak” vs “strong” distinction has also been referred to as the “minimalist” vs “maximalist” distinction (Beauchamp 1998) or the “procedural” vs “preferential” distinction. As Nagel and Beauchamp note, most people agree that “weak” or “procedural” affirmative action is justified (and perhaps even morally obligatory). However, there is significant controversy regarding “strong” or “preferential” forms of affirmative action. In this post, I will defend “strong or “preferential” affirmative action.

Studies attempting to explain the black-white cognitive ability gap

In this post, I will review studies that have attempted to account for the cognitive ability gap among children by controlling for a variety of factors, including parental socioeconomic status (SES), birth weight, home environment, parenting practices, etc. I will use these studies to determine what seem to be the most plausible candidate explanations of the gap. I end by reviewing some important issues for future investigation.

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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