Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Does Scrabble Spell Doom For The Racial Hypothesis of Intelligence?


unz |  The first logical way the American-invented cognitive game of Scrabble settles the score against radical hereditarians in the racial (Black-White) IQ gap debate is through a two step process: how do white female players compare to white male players in top-level elite Scrabble? Since many mainstream cognitive psychologists tell us that white women (like white men) have much higher tested intelligence than blacks, whether you measure this as “general intelligence” or you just limit it to visuospatial intelligence or mathematical ability, we should expect white women to perform better than black men in any activity that depends on these abilities (since a slight deficiency in such abilities is also the reason white women perform lower than white men, according to the same hereditarians). What we have in Scrabble is an emphatic refutation of this hereditarian expectation of Black cognitive under-performance, especially when the full picture of African achievement in such mental games is examined, as I attempt to do in this article. I also refute any suggestions that such games are insufficient for this analysis.

Hereditarian Science
When I oppose “hereditarians,” I am really concerned with only one specific aspect that many self-described hereditarians seem to share: their intriguingly confident belief that they have already found some kind of proof for a genetic cognitive gap between racial groups that has a certain magnitude and direction, which consequently explains scholastic and IQ test score differences among different ethnic groups. I will call this the “racial hypothesis” in this article, even though it is officially called the “genetic hypothesis,” because I do not want to leave the impression that I reject any genetically transmitted differences in mental (or any other) ability between any two populations. (I have previously theorized that the American black-white IQ gap could simply be a reflection of a high incidence of functionally mild neurological disorders among native black Americans, which tend to affect many more males than females: such a gender IQ gap reversal is less acute in black Caribbeans than black Americans, and absent in Africans, which could suggest that the disorder may have been inherited from mating with similarly affected poor whites during the time of slavery; it has nothing to do with race or evolution per se.)

Although I am therefore also skeptical about a radical global “environmental hypothesis” as the universal explanation for every single time there are any significant performance differences between populations or genders, I think that it should be obvious that the drastically inferior environment of Africa, especially the learning or educational environment (the training factor), is a sufficient explanation for any inferior intellectual performance or IQ of Africans living in Africa (which is why African school children born in Western countries perform as well as white European children, if not better). This article tests that proposition by examining the performance of Sub-Saharan Africans on contests that are much less hindered by the artificial lack of educational (training) resources while simultaneously requiring the application of high natural cognitive resources.