Friday, April 14, 2006


Since Richard Lynn very kindly sent me a copy of his latest book, I thought it would be a good idea to do a review of it. I have had various reviews of academic books published before. I therefore prepared the review below and submitted it to the mainstream Australian e-zine Online Opinion. I have had one previous article published there. Although initially interested in the idea of such a review, they rejected the review when they actually saw it -- on the vaguest of grounds. That the whole topic suffers from severe political incorrectness is, however, the obvious real reason for the rejection. In the age of the internet, however, such editorial filtering of the information available does not work. So I am posting the review here and in a couple of other places

"Race differences in intelligence: An evolutionary analysis" by Richard Lynn. Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, Georgia, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-1-59368-021-3

Review by John Ray (2006)

Maverick academics such as Frank Ellis in Britain and Andrew Fraser in Australia have recently attracted some press with their public declarations that they believe that there are differences in average IQ between whites and blacks. So this book is a timely one.

The essential thing to note about this book is that it is NOT an expression of opinion. It is an attempt to do something far more difficult -- an attempt to gather together ALL the available scientific evidence on its topic. Let me give you a little personal anecdote to show you how hard that is.

Like Lynn, I am a psychometrician (specialist in psychological measurement) but my interest is in measuring attitudes and personality. And one of my interests is in how to measure ambition (what psychologists call achievement motivation). And roughly once a year somebody publishes a new set of questions designed to do that. But nobody ever seems to be aware of all the previous attempts in the same field. Typically, they seem to know of only two or three attempts to measure ambition in that way. On a couple of occasions, psychologists have published what they thought was a comprehensive survey of the literature in the field but the best of them could find (from memory) no more than 16 such articles in the academic literature. So a couple of years later I published a catalogue of such articles. And I found around 70 such!

How come? It is because the standard resources for searches of the academic literature are very imperfect. They miss heaps. You cannot instantly acquire a knowledge of the findings on a topic simply by doing a search. You have to be a specialist in the field who continually has an eye out for interesting findings and who systematically collects such findings over a period of many years. Richard Lynn is such a person in the field of IQ. Lynn's book is, in other words, about as authoritative as you can get. And in comparison with the measly 70 articles that I could find on my topic, Lynn records over 500 surveys of IQ.

So what the book tells us is not what Richard Lynn thinks. Lynn of course has his opinions and he does express them (he argues, for instance, that an evolutionary history of coping with cold winters selects for high intelligence) but that is not what the book is primarily about. What the book shows us is what the entire body of scientific research on the subject stretching back over the last 100 years or more has shown. And, as all psychometricians know, the findings are remarkably uniform. There is normally a huge gap between the average scores of African-origin populations and European-origin populations. Brilliant blacks do of course exist. The person whom I quote most on my blog is an African-American (Thomas Sowell). But brilliant (high IQ) people are simply much rarer in African-origin populations than in European ones. And all the studies of the genetics of IQ show its transmission to be overwhelmingly genetic.

Confronted with this now very old and very persistent finding, the usual response from those who feel challenged by it has been to dismiss IQ tests. They say that IQ scores mean nothing, do not measure intelligence and are of no importance generally. Lynn of course takes such claims seriously and devotes his opening chapter to such challenges. The essential thing that you need to know in evaluating such challenges is however very simple: IQ is a DISCOVERY, not a product of theory. The whole concept of IQ arose in the late 19th century when educationists began to notice a very strange thing: People who were good at solving one type of problem or puzzle also tended to be good at solving quite different puzzles and problems. There WAS such a thing as a general problem-solving ability. And it is for that reason that the scientific literature does not usually use the term "IQ". In the scientific literature, it is usually referred to as 'g' (short for "general factor"). And that is also why IQ tests normally are comprised of a whole series of quite different and apparently unrelated problems -- because problem-solving ability IS general, regardless of the sort of problem. And something as general as that is obviously of considerable importance.

I will not go on here to look at all the various arguments that have been raised about the utility of IQ tests generally or about non-genetic explanations for the findings with Africans and others. That is what Lynn's book is for. Be assured, however, that all the possible objections are well known to experts in the field and have been extensively researched. It is a case of there being "nothing new under the sun" as far as theories of that kind are concerned and most such theories can be decisively rejected in the light of the research available. The one non-genetic but physical explanation for IQ differences that has stood up fairly well is nutrition. Good or bad nutrition in childhood can affect how well the brain develops and hence IQ. The brain is however pretty good at protecting itself so the differences observed due to nutrition are generally very small, much smaller than the black/white difference, for instance. The best diet in the world won't make a dummy into an Einstein nor will the best education or the best anything else. But if you want to get a doctorate it helps a lot if your father has one -- even if you don't live with him or know him.

Perhaps in closing I should mention the one aspect of Lynn's work which has attracted a lot of press. A reporter from "The Times" of London had a look at the book and from it extracted what he claimed were the average IQ scores for various European countries. And, to much hilarity, Germany was shown as having an average score of 107 compared to Britain's 100. German psychometricians (such as Volkmar Weiss) knew of course that this was a nonsense and there is certainly nothing to that effect in Lynn's book. If you take either the mean or the median scores from the results for Germany presented in Lynn's book you get an unremarkable average of about 99.

What happened was that there was one outlying result from one German survey that showed a mean of 107 and the reporter gleefully seized on that as if it were typical of what is found in Germany generally. Which all goes to reinforce the importance of Lynn's book. You cannot rely on just one survey or one result. You have to have a collection of many findings on any given topic or question before you can confidently make generalizations. And no book does a better job of providing you with such data as "Race differences in intelligence: An evolutionary analysis".

Dr. John Ray was a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of NSW until his retirement in 1983


Below is the opening salvo from an online book by British historian Guy Leven Torres:

The headlines of the Daily Mail proclaimed that a retired couple had been paid a visit by two burly police officers who wanted to,'re-educate' them about some of their 'attitudes' to homosexuals, after they had asked a local council if Christian literature could be placed alongside the 'gay' material being advertised by the latter as part of a 'minority equality program'. The couple were informed that their request and attitude was 'close to hate crime and that they were treading on eggshells'. A year before, a vicar had been prosecuted and fined for protesting in public about 'homosexuals' and calls for them to repent. At about the same time as the old couple were being reported for 'homophobia' by the district council, a well known social commentator, received a phone call from a police woman stating that she was 'investigating' a report of a homophobic' incident on Radio 5 London, when during a topical discussion on recent 'gay partnership' legislation she had expressed the opinion it was wrong to allow same-sex couples to adopt children of the same sex as themselves for fear of harming the adoptee. She was informed she would be 'placed on a list' even though 'no crime had been committed'. When she asked, 'What list?' the police officer was unable to tell her which one.

This is Britain today. These incidents are not uncommon either. What does it tell us about our society? Does it mean that merely to express an opinion that the state disagrees with, can find one under the prying eyes and bullying of police officers like the ones above? The majority of people in this country hold quite negative opinions towards homosexual life styles, especially wherein they conflict with traditional attitudes of family life and behaviour. There is no point in denying this fact and what right has a supposedly 'elected' government, national or local have to persecute the majority that either, do not care too much even to discuss the subject or who feel they have to make a point against such a way of life? Personally, I could not care less whether somebody is gay provided they are decent and law abiding but I do care when I see innocent souls set upon by politicised police and council officials who do not like their views. More than one gay friend has also stated that such activity in the 'interests' of people like himself sent a 'cold shudder' through his spine.

The truth is that it is not about homosexual equality at all. It is about a Left wing elite's determination to impose its political power and control upon the people of this land and the political use of minorities to do so as 'victims of Society'. Marx would have recognised this new 'Class War' but since the traditional working class no longer exist or even live in real poverty, it is issues such as homosexuality, ethnic and religious minorities and especially the disabled that now provide the inspiration to man the revolutionary barricades. A colleague of mine suffers from the debilitating illness of Neurasthenia. He finds these attentions unwanted and unwarranted. He does not want his illness politicised by the left or any other faction. What he would like, is practical assistance and constructive understanding instead of what is usually on offer in the form of politicised social workers, wearing their hearts upon their sleeves, ever ready to promote his 'victim-hood' and the cloying attitudes that normally accompany this. The trouble is he feels he is not a victim in any real sense apart from being unfortunate to suffer from an illness that makes no political distinction whatsoever between its sufferers. Indeed it is very 'inclusive' and well into 'equality and diversity' as it strikes at people of all backgrounds, classes and religions irrespective of colour or creed, even sexuality.

When I recently looked upon the internet for some practical support and assistance for him, all we found were sites offering page after page about 'equality and gender' issues in respect of his illness. However, we found absolutely nothing in all the verbiage and jargon that even remotely concerned his illness and its reality. He was trying to get support in his work but it seems that under our new elite, such things as support officers to assist him in finding and sustaining a career were abolished like so much that was of practical value to somebody like himself. All he and I found was a diatribe about how wonderful it would be to suffer from my neurasthenia in New Labour's 'inclusion and equality' driven Britain. What has politics and its jargon to do with depression and anxiety? Now we realised what the papers meant when they talked of 'spin and no substance'. It is a disgrace. The only websites that did offer some form of practical assistance were private and even in these one had to wade through web-pages of policies of 'inclusion and diversity' etc, etc.

Even worse was the realisation that many of the older traditional care projects and much needed support in our local area had been abolished in the name of 'providing policies' of 'value and inclusive diversity' within the community that meant in reality that the accountants and political ideologues had moved in and cut services back far and wide, often leaving families alone to cope with sufferers without adequate medical and psychiatric support. Even if it had been a genuine attempt to provide sufferers with a better way of life, which we doubt, it certainly is one of the most foolhardy and dangerous political experiments we had ever come across.

He has a loving wife, children and friends like me, who support him in his 'down' periods but he is also aided by a high intelligence and a thorough understanding of what the illness itself is all about. What of those isolated souls on sink estates and even private conurbations who have no real understanding of an illness that can strike anywhere at anytime irrespective of age or sex? The initial attacks are frightening and disorientating to both the victim and his family and friends. Many begin with a suicide attempt and unexplainable anger but fortunately he had a General Practitioner on hand who was already concerned with his illogical mood swings and who immediately sent him into hospital. One doubts if those facilities exist anymore.

During one attack, nearly thirteen years ago, his wife and I. went for assistance and were informed, 'that the Doctor could do nothing unless he asked for help'. Upon stating that he was not capable of knowing what was best for myself, we were informed that under the 'equality and inclusive' policies that respected all 'individuals rights and individual values' they were not allowed to interfere with his 'privacy'. Only the timely interference of his social worker and our own dogged insistence that would not take 'no' for an answer, obtained the treatment he urgently needed. He could so easily have died in my unconscious state. This experience is not uncommon either. Deaths have already occurred and despite several attempts to address this ridiculous obsession with 'rights' and the usual left wing jargon of 'inappropriate', 'totally unacceptable', and assurances it would not happen again and report after report, making recommendations, little, if anything has changed and is still buried under a deadweight of political jargon and talk of 'equality and inclusiveness' as we have seen above.

We live in an age of a bureaucracy that generates more bureaucracy in order to justify its existence. Even worse is the fact that this same bureaucracy singularly fails to do anything of any practical value and indeed is causing misery and unhappiness to millions of Britons from every walk of life. It seems that when one makes a complaint to any local body these days it generates a paperwork trail and a plethora of jargon, if anything else at all, except perhaps, when it involves a prized section of the Politically Correct Establishment's favoured classes of 'Victim-hood' such as homosexuals, lone parents and their wayward offspring, asylum seekers, or the disabled. However, many like my colleague and I resent this whole idea that individuals like him are 'victims of Society' and especially the interference that comes with it. On the other hand when we or our families require practical everyday assistance, we face a wall of bureaucratic crassness and stupidity.

I know one or two 'gay' people and count them as worthy friends and they are quite capable of looking after themselves and like my friend, deeply resent being seen as 'victims of society' and especially the attempts by Left leaning government bodies, national and local to ingratiate themselves with them. One fine example is Elton John who lives not far away from me and whose wealth and estate runs into millions. The gays I know are more than capable of looking after themselves and in many cases do so far better than their heterosexual counterparts like me, shouldered with raising children and even grandchildren.

Yet we read of a council in the West Country trying to find 'gays' in an area in order to provide 100,000 pounds for 'their welfare'. They were only able to find two, so it seems, among all the inhabitants of the local area and one is led to believe these were none too pleased about being 'found' by the local council, rightfully fearful as they were of public censure and feelings of resentment caused by such unfair acts of 'generosity' at a time when public facilities like hospitals faced closure. The fact is 'gays' do not want special treatment but to be seen as normal members of wider society, subject to all the normative pressures that everybody else faces. If 100,000 pounds were given to my Neurasthenic friend he too would feel the same. The simple truth is they do not want the cloying, dripping Maternalism of these local and national bodies trying to assist them with such outrageous grants of cash or social assistance in this manner when all they seek is to fit in like anybody else. Their needs and worries are the same as everybody else has! Those are survival and comfort and acceptance in a hostile world.

The trouble is that the neo-liberal fascists that now permeate every level of our society in government, the arts, science, education, legal and caring professions, police and increasingly the military never do ask the opinions of those they seek to utilise politically as 'victims of society'. And when these do object like me, we are usually met by looks of pitying condescension and ignored. 'You simply do not understand!' they mutter. The trouble is we do understand perfectly well indeed.

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