Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nature & Nurture.

In the previous post referring to a study showing ethnic differences in 5 year old, I stated my belief that the differences weren't innate. Something in the study reaffirms that belief, but I'll just provide a bit of context before I explain what it is.

One of the strongest argument that racial differences in intelligence are down to genetic factors rather than cultural factors has been the long standing IQ gap between blacks and whites that has been observed in the United States since mass testing was first undertaken by the US Army during World War One. The difference then and now is about one standard deviation or 15 points.

However if this is a consequence of genetic differences in IQ, then blacks and whites in the UK ought to show a similar gap. However the results of what appears to be an IQ type test from the Millenium Cohort Study are:

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
White: 102.2
Mixed: 101.3
Indian: 98.3
Black Caribbean: 98
Other 95.7
Black African 91.4
Bangladeshi 88.6
Pakistani 87.4

In other words White children score 11 points higher than Black African children and just 4 points ahead of Black Caribbean children. The difference in both cases is much smaller than the US differences.

5 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

You'd have to split up the US results into Black Africa and Black Caribbean, that might shed light on the matter.

At a wild guess, I'd assume that US blacks are more likely to be Black African, for historical reasons, rather than arriving there via the Caribbean, giving a smaller discrepancy.

Umbongo said...

AFAIAA the US tests were specifically tests for IQ: the UK tests were only for IQ by inference. If I'm correct then you are comparing apples and pears.

Also far be it from me to alledge any fiddling with the results (let alone any failure in the methodology) but the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (on whose work much of these conclusions are based) is part of the Institute of Education. I wouldn't trust the IoE to give an unbiased answer to the question "what is the sum of 2 plus 2?" let alone any study involving either ethnicity or assessing the outcome of 2 generations of dysfunctional teaching methods (as recommended by the IoE).

Ross said...

"AFAIAA the US tests were specifically tests for IQ: the UK tests were only for IQ by inference. "

Well, it's a cognitive test that is normed at 100 so it looks to me as though it probably is an IQ test. I accept that we'd need to see the actual test to be certain.

"I wouldn't trust the IoE to give an unbiased answer to the question "what is the sum of 2 plus 2?" let alone any study involving either ethnicity"

If they were simply being pc then why bother to publish any data on race and intelligence? Particularly when it shows a large gap between whites and the two largest muslim communities in the UK?

Clovis said...

These results are about five-year-olds. It will be interesting to see whether the figures are any different when they reach 15 or 20. Kids who perform well at GCSE, A-level and university are those whose cognitive ability increases in power throughout their teens, and _that_ may (or may not) be something that varies between different population groups.

As much as I loathe political correctness, I'm uncomfortable seeing a survey that focuses on such broad ethnic groupings. If such differences are indeed innate, then I suspect they have more to do with the specific evolutionary pressures on an individual's fairly recent ancestors (for instance, whether they were merchants, priests, hicks, or hunter-gatherers), and thus correlate more strongly with social class than with skin colour.

NB Most of my ancestors were hicks!

Ross said...

"If such differences are indeed innate, then I suspect they have more to do with the specific evolutionary pressures on an individual's fairly recent ancestors"

Could be. There was a study not so long ago which indicated that people with names like Clark or Palmer which indicate that their ancestors were literate are around 50% more likely to appear on lists of high achievement than average. When you consider that the surnames probably originated 600-700 years ago that is pretty astonishing.