Talk:The Bell Curve

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This Racialism related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

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Heavily revised the article[edit]

It seemed very cranky to me, and very SJW. The reality is that the science is more or less right, but the conclusions are not - the evidence that there are racial differences in intelligence is extremely strong, but that the cause is genetics is pretty weak, with only a couple of studies really bothering to do much isolation on the subject matter. Likewise, their conclusions about the cognitive elite are... questionable at best, and probably ignoring important factors. Hopefully I didn't remove anything important when I did the rewrite; if I did, feel free to grab it from the history and re-add it.

FYI, for the unaware, Gould's response to this has been rather heavily criticized for basically being political bullshit, and indeed, a lot of the response to it was exactly that. The genetics of intelligence is a very touchy subject; people really want "all men are created equal" to be true, even when some people are born retarded and without hands or feet. That's of course ignoring the fact that Hitler is probably one of the people you least want to be seen agreeing with about anything, and while Hitler's insane hatred of the jews is (ironically) pretty much entirely contradicted by modern studies of intelligence, most people don't especially care and see all "well, there might be genetic differences between races" as "let's put the Jews in the oven" (or the blacks, or insert ethnic/racial group here). Titanium Dragon (talk) 12:15, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

... and reverted[edit]

I wasn't comfortable with the original big revision, but I don't think it deserved complete reversion either. I think both versions were a little too much change to take in at once. Specifics? I don't have any. I got bogged down in the volume of both. MarmotHead (talk) 21:54, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

I don't know. We can keep it unbronzed. I'm not a fan of the work because idiots gonna idiot. But this is one of the big publications for racists, and needs to be treated as such. Ikanreed (talk) 21:57, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
The reverted text was more bad than good (my opinion), but maybe the good pieces (10-30% of the total) can be added back. I'm not pointing fingers ... just feeling whiplash. MarmotHead (talk) 21:59, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree. If there are parts of substantial significance that someone who isn't a racist gamergator wants to add back, let them propose them. Hipocrite (talk) 22:00, 5 December 2014 (UTC)


It's basically a mess[edit]

Was going to add an edit to clean up some irrelevant points, but then saw another, and another, then some blatant bias. This article is basically a mess, it's meant to be rational-wiki not jump-on-the-bandwagon-wiki. Disappointed. — Unsigned, by: 81.174.155.84 / talk / contribs

Cultural pseudoscientists strikes again[edit]

The bell curve isn't the scientific book of the millennium, but it is based on facts. Moreover, right now there is a current movement in psychology that now acknowledge the IQ difference of races in the United States. The APA (American Psychology Association) acknowledged that there is a 15 to 18 point difference and that only 11 to 16 percent of black Americans are above 100 IQ. This article is lauded by emotional political correctness unfit for scientific and skepticism talk. It is a disgrace to find on a wiki that is supposed to be by and for skeptics. It talks about "scientific racism", the same phenomenon that the media used to describe the book in the late 70s. Wikipedia is correct on the subject and the figures I quote here come directly from it but it can also be found here [1]. All my youth I thought races had equal intelligence, but when faced with evidence I had no choice but to accept it, since this is what a real skeptic does. That information is more valid on Wikipedia than here is really whats sad about this website who is supposed to be a vector of truth and facts. — Unsigned, by: 173.176.84.163 / talk / contribs

  1. [1]
  2. First, see racialism.
    Second, see here. There are many and numerous reasons blacks do less well on IQ tests in the US than whites, and none of them are racialist. Blacks are poorer; poverty causes reduced mental development, reduced educatio, and a resulting lower IQ (numerous studies have proven this; this is also evidenced by Africa-born black immigrants to the West, who tend to outperform the average Westerner by 10-15 IQ points; immigrants are likely to be wealthier and better educated, showing that race is minimally important). Blacks use more slang; IQ tests are biased against slang (this is evidenced by the fact that, when IQ tests are altered to include black slang, blacks perform comparably to whites). The reasons go on. Basically, the long and short of it is this: Blacks (and other marginalized groups) perform worse on IQ tests because they are marginalized. Herr FuzzyKatzenPotato (talk/stalk) 03:49, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm going to skip straight to my tl;dr. g is bull, IQ tests do not measure g, and what he said. PacWalker 04:35, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    If by g you mean general mental ability then your statement flies in the face of 30 years of established research PacWalker. Read this for a reasonably concise statement on the position of the majority of scientists on some of the issues in IQ testing. You will notice that the picture around racial differences in IQ scores is considerably more murky than we would like, and little research that has been conducted since has provided much clarity. In a sense the BoN is correct that racial differences in IQ scores may be attributable to genetics (certainly a portion of researchers ascribe to this position); while this may be an uncomfortable position for us ideologically - it may still be true. Tielec01 (talk) 05:01, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    Excuse me: when I said g is bunkum, I meant that idea of a single quantifiable amount of intelligence is. That various aspects of intelligence are correlated? Yeah, pretty well settled. But see your own source for various alternatives to a theory of a single, generalized amount of intelligence. I mean sure, you can combine/average a couple loosely related quantities, and you can make use of that statistic, but it is still exactly that: a statistic. PacWalker 05:48, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at. If you object to g because it is a statistical artefact then consider that it is one of the most powerful predictors that psychology has, has emerged through various different forms of statistical analysis (factor analysis, structural equation modelling, invariance testing etc...) and across many different research groups to boot. If you object to g because it is not something that we can touch and feel and can only see through statistical analysis then you may as well decide that most psychological concepts are 'bunkum' including personality testing. The concept that there is a GMA factor is settled in the psychological sciences, it is as real as any other psychological concept and one of the most useful when it comes to predicting real world outcomes (eg. see the research into work performance and g). Go onto Google scholar and see how many papers have been published in the last year or so with General Mental Ability referenced in the article if you are still not convinced that it is a mainstream accepted concept in psychology (900+). That may annoy you for any number of ideological reasons, but the facts are what they are. Tielec01 (talk) 06:23, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm aware that it would be better for mankind, social justice and equality that intelligence wasn't differing in races. But the fact is that I also refuse to be blinded by a cultural or philosophical ideology when I'm searching for truth. Here's what I think about the "cultural bias" and "marginalized groups do worse" arguments:
    1. Standardized IQ tests show high correlation.
    2. The IQ tests that show the most correlation are non-verbal and revolved around logical problems with graphical matrices.
    3. The gap in races is still present in NON-VERBAL matrix tests.
    4. Studies with IQ tests with verbal elements that tried to eliminate cultural bias failed to close the gap.
    5. Studies that tried to find the exact cultural bias that would explain the gap all failed.— Unsigned, by: 173.176.84.163 / talk / contribs
    And pirates are a great predictor of global mean surface temperature. PacWalker 16:58, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm sorry for all the professionals that make standardized IQ tests when you summarize their work as useless in one small pre-made sentence— Unsigned, by: 173.176.84.163 / talk / contribs
    Oh you're a g believer, well g is highly correlated with IQ tests too. It's not directly measured, but its correlated.— Unsigned, by: 173.176.84.163 / talk / contribs
    I shall here repeat yourself until you read what the hell I actually said. Wanna see how many times I can rack up? PacWalker 17:22, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    Hey 173. (1) Nice sources for those 5 points. (2) Did you know that IQ gaps between blacks and whites are shrinking as Africa gets richer [2]? While it's possible that blacks all somehow increased their intelligence, it's also possible that wealth allows better education and better IQ scores? Did you know that the education gap between whites and blacks has shrunk [3]? Because as I see it, that means that somehow blacks are somehow getting smarter, or whites are getting dumber, magically. Funny enough, at the same time as the shrinking of the black-white gap, the rich-poor gap grew. It's almost like wealth is correlated with better education, and better IQ scores. (By the way, you only talked about culture, not wealth.) ʇυzzγɔɒтqoтɒтo (talk/stalk) 18:03, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
    This particular article (Neisser, Boodoo et al) actually shows a pretty nuanced view that I think people are missing. It does, in fact, show how apparent racial differences can be attributed to more than just genetics and, further, that even genetics do not require IQ to be unchangeable. If I read it right, it even says that what we attribute to the genetics of race is overwhelmed by racial/ethnic history (i.e. parent's achievement), position within society (if the group is among the discriminated-against), and group culture. It's as if the "genetics" of race determine whether a person is part of a society's in-crowd and then that determination of in-ness is what leads to any real difference in IQ. Points 3-5 above are not, in fact, strongly (or even, barely) supported by the Neisser article or, at least, fail to conclude anything more than "it's complicated". MarmotHead (talk) 18:17, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

    "I'm forced to accept evidence when I see it", *Continues to freely ignore widely information about the flynn effect, economic, cultural, and environmental effects on race in order to buy into some racist nonsense*

    Great. Thanks for your insight. Enjoy accepting grossly simplified(and now wildly outdated) evidence as "the" evidence. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 18:25, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

    I think where the BoN is making a mistake is assuming that since, when taking into account 'environmental' factors, we still can't close the gap between 'races' the missing component must be genetic. Until we actually find the factors that are causing this gap we can't just assume it is genetics; there may be environmental factors that have not yet been studied. However, where I think the BoN is correct is the fact that intelligence (as measured by IQ) is highly influenced by genetics. This fact winks suggestively and nudges researchers in the direction of looking at genetic causes for the gap. Especially after everyone feels that we have exhausted all the theoretically plausible environmental factors (all the usual suspects as it were)
    It's a pity that the debate has been hijacked by racists who would like to use it as propaganda, if it was ever found that white people tend to have a higher genetic potential for intelligence then this should be as uncontroversial a finding that black Africans tend to have a higher prevalence of sickle cell anemia. It doesn't mean a white person is smarter than a black person, and the worth of a person is not entirely defined by their intelligence in any case.
    What I find interesting is that prejudice and low intelligence go hand in hand, yet we never see racist groups decrying themselves as inferior humans (even though on average their IQ will actually be lower than a self-identified black person). Tielec01 (talk) 03:08, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
    You know, even if genetics are involved, that wouldn't mean it has to be something inherent to the 'black race'. If you enslave a population group and for several centuries you actively or passively select for low-to-average-intelligence obedient slaves, would it be that surprising if that population group doesn't show as high a potential for intelligence as other population groups for some time after that selective pressure was applied? 141.134.75.236 (talk) 18:28, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
    It depends on how you define inherent, but in my opinion genetically determined traits are about as inherent as it gets. Tielec01 (talk) 04:52, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

    Genetic prediction of intelligence[edit]

    The page currently makes this statement:

    In spite of the large volumes of scientific literature establishing heritability of intelligence, none of the many attempts to find a predictive genetic correlation to intelligence have found any, except those genes known to cause learning disabilities.

    This is outdated. For example, on 19 July 2016 a result was published that predicts 3.5% of the variance in general cognitive ability:

    Predicting educational achievement from DNA http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2016107a.html

    (The main result of the paper is for educational achievement, where the result is stronger.) 184.65.166.19 (talk) 10:11, 3 September 2016 (UTC)


    I think this article seems clearly biased against the book. One argument that I think is not relevant seems to keep popping up: that the evidence or arguments presented in this book can be used to support racism, thus the evidence or arguments must be wrong. That is nonsense. Just because something in the book COULD be used to support racism or racist ideas doesn't make that particular bit of content wrong. — Unsigned, by: 70.48.199.29 / talk / contribs

    'The thing is'[edit]

    There are many types of intelligence and 'innate abilities', at least some of which can be developed as such or in particular directions - and this includes 'being good at IQ tests.' To what extent will, for example, taxi drivers with The Knowledge, researchers, or writers of successful popular fiction necessarily have high 'conventionally measured IQs' (and to what extent will 'Mensa level IQ persons' be able to do the exampled work?).

    And if people take IQ tests from different 'IQ-testing-cultures and contexts' do they fall on the same points on the different bell curves? 109.147.90.115 (talk) 11:12, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

    "Much of the research in The Bell Curve is not disputed..."[edit]

    Umm... it really is though?

    Nisbett, Richard E.; Aronson, Joshua; Blair, Clancy; Dickens, William; Flynn, James; Halpern, Diane F.; Turkheimer, Eric (2012). "Intelligence: new findings and theoretical developments" (PDF). American Psychologist. 67 (2): 130–159. doi:10.1037/a0026699. ISSN 0003-066X. PMID 22233090. Retrieved 22 July 2013.

    Lay summary (22 July 2013): http://www.danielwillingham.com/daniel-willingham-science-and-education-blog/the-latest-on-intelligence — Unsigned, by: MajorParts / talk / contribs