Rising Above I.Q.

In Nicholas Kristof’s article below reviewing John Nesbitt’s new book, Intelligence and How to Get It, both authors consider the role IQ and effort has when analyzing Asians, Jews and West Indian-born African Americans. As it turns out, each of the people in these three ethnic groups outperform other ethnic groups and typically white middle class students as well. The people in these ethnic groups aren’t necessarily “smarter” than their counterparts, but because of family support, priority around becoming educated and exposure to more vocabulary at a young age, they get the “most out of the firepower” that they have.

What all students should be taught in school is this basic lesson: Intelligence and academic success are very much a matter of personal choice and is, therefore, a decision that we can make. As my friend Joe Martin, who was raised in the projects and went on to get his Ph.D says: “Your I CAN is a lot more important than IQ.”

New York Times

In the mosaic of America, three groups that have been unusually successful are Asian-Americans, Jews and West Indian blacks — and in that there may be some lessons for the rest of us.

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One Response to “Rising Above I.Q.”

  1. Josh017 says:

    He only compares West Indian-born African Americans to African Americans. It is well known that East Asians outperform europeans on average, even when raised in white households.

    Recent neurological studies show brain regions correlated with intelligence are significantly hereditary. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126993.300-highspeed-brains-are-in-the-genes.html

    Sandra Scarr, after conducting the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study:

    “Within the range of ‘humane environments,’variations in family socioeconomic characteristics and in child-rearing practices have little or no effect on IQ measured in adolescence.” P. 476

    “There is simply no good evidence that social environmental factors have a large effect on IQ, particularly in adolescence and beyond, except in cases of extreme environmental deprivation.” P. 476

    By adulthood, all of the IQ correlation between biologically related persons is genetic. P. 178 Phenotypic g closely reflects the genetic g, but bears hardly any resemblance to the (shared) environmental g. P. 187

    2. From that study the black children adopted by white families matured to have IQs that are consistent with their biological peers; Asian children adopted by white families mature to have IQs that are consistent with their biological peers and which are higher than their adoptive parents.

    Also, note more recent twin studies:

    “Contrary to “culture” theory, the ethnic academic gaps are almost identical for transracially adopted children, and to the extent they are different they go in the opposite direction predicted by culture theory. The gap between whites and Asians fluctuated from 19 to .09 in the NAEP data while the gap in the adoption data is from 1/3 to 3 times larger. This is consistent with the Sue and Okazaki paper above which showed that contrary to popular anecdotes, the values that lead to higher academic grades are actually found more often in white homes. In other words Asian-Americans perform highly despite their Asian home cultural environment not because of it. And though the sample is meager, I find it interesting that the gap between the black and white adopted children was virtually identical (within just 4-6 points) to the gap between whites and blacks in the general population, just like in the Scarr adoption study.”


    Also, note that Nisbett omits a number of studies to avoid a Bell Curve type backlash. See this working paper review of the book.


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