Gavin Evans ANALYSIS: Black Brain, White Brain – The new wave of racist science

The last decade has seen a revival of a very old and long-discredited idea: that intelligence is influenced by racial origin.

Nicholas Wade is a journalist who you’d think would know his stuff when it comes to evolutionary biology: Oxford degree, former deputy editor at Nature, former science correspondent for the New York Times.

Last year he came out with a book, A Troublesome Inheritance, which announced that racial genes made Africans violent, over-trusting tribalists, and for similar reasons the Japanese were authoritarian, the English enterprising and the Finns violent and impulsive drunks. And then there’s his money quote in which he tells us that the “adaptation of Jews to capitalism is another such evolutionary process”. Wade, incidentally, insists he is not a racist.

You might think that anyone with an iota of common sense would be open-mouthed about that last sentence, and would dismiss Wade’s claims as the work of a dangerous crank.

But, well, not so. To take a couple of examples, the conservative British news magazine, The Spectator,devoted a Wade-written cover story to the book, while the bulldog of British television interrogators, the usually relentless Jeremy Paxman, treated Wade to a respectful if slightly amused soft-soaping. Eventually, six months on, 139 of the world’s leading evolutionary theorists signed a New York Times letter refuting Wade’s premises and conclusions, but by then the damage was done.

Genetic intelligence and The Bell Curve

Black Brain, White Brain By Gavin EvansWade’s book is just one example of a new wave of racist science that has been spewing out of the computers of a disparate group of biologists, evolutionary psychologists and journalists over the last few years.

Past waves have met with rather firmer treatment. In 1969 the American psychologist Arthur Jenson published a paper in the Harvard Educational Review claiming that black Americans had lower genetic intelligence than whites and Asians. The response was immediate and vigorous – 29 academic rebuttals, a wave of student protest – and the Review’s shame-faced editors even refused to allow Jensen to respond to letters of criticism.

Fifteen years on, the next wave arrived in the form of The Bell Curve, which made similar claims to Jensen’s (quoting him liberally). Andrew Sullivan, then editor of The New Republic magazine, agreed to publish one of its most toxic extracts but was faced with a mass resignation threat by staff, who were only pacified when he agreed to publish rebuttals by 19 writers, while scores of leading academics got to work on books and articles which ripped The Bell Curve’s premises to shreds.

Compare that to the response to a paper by a team of Utah anthropologists who claimed that Ashkenazi Jews were innately more intelligent than anyone else. It was trumpeted in a number of prestigious publications, and was then given a huge boost by the doyen of evolutionary psychology, Steven Pinker, who came out in measured support for the paper’s claims (again in the New Republic), saying it “meets the standards of good scientific theory”, while elsewhere he mused that “groups may differ genetically in their average talents and temperaments”.

Since then there’s been a trickle of similar claims about Jews along these lines, including by Wade. And yet the response from academics and other critics is oddly muted – perhaps because it’s assumed that saying Jews are inherently smarter isn’t the same thing as saying that Africans are less smart (although when you think about it for more than second, it should be obvious that if one group is smarter another is stupider).

Bad Science

The leading American geneticist Harry Ostrer simply dismissed the paper: “It’s bad science,” he said, “not because it’s provocative, but because it’s bad genetics and bad epidemiology.” But it took two years before an academic paper was written refuting its core premises, and none of the media picked up on this riposte, allowing the Ashkenazi claim to settle.

One of its key points was that Ashkenazim evolved to become more intelligent because they were genetically isolated, but a recent gene search by 19 scientists found that European women (rather than Middle Eastern) were responsible for 81 percent of the mitrochondrial DNA of Ashkenazi Jews suggesting that inter-marriage between Jewish men and non-Jewish women was commonplace. The paper’s other historical and biological premises have since been lambasted by academic critics, and yet it continues to be widely cited.

These waves of racist science are based on three flaky premises:

First, that migration to ice-age Europe 45,000 years ago prompted natural selection for higher intelligence. Evidence includes the flowering of cave art more than 30,000 years ago.

The underlying flaws in this assumption have been exposed through recent evidence that all these European innovations pre-existed in Africa. For example, symbolic geometric art was found at the Blombos cave 320km east of Cape Town, carbon dated at 75,000 years, while blended paints and a range of other sophisticated implements have been carbon dated at 100,000 years.

The hunt for ‘intelligence genes’

The second claim relates to genetics – that because humans continued to evolve in terms of things like ethnic diseases, skin colour and body type, so it must be with intelligence. But geneticists point out that they are not comparing like with like.

Most of these ethnic differences relate to single gene mutations. Intelligence, however, is different. It is an abstract notion that covers a wide range of attributes, but even if we restrict ourselves to the form of logic measured by IQ tests we don’t find single IQ genes differentiating one population from another. In fact, attempts to find “intelligence genes” have drawn a blank and it is now accepted that it is governed by a network of thousands of genes.

The idea that average intelligence might not have evolved for 100,000 years is unremarkable to those working in this field. For example, the leading US-based palaeoanthropologist Ian Tattersall has argued that long before humans left Africa they reached the end of the line as far as significant evolution of their brains. “In order to get the fixation of evolutionary novelties,” he said, “you need to have small, isolated populations. Large, interbreeding populations are just not the right place for innovations to become fixed.”

The third and most persistent claim comes from the fact that average IQ scores differ from population to population. Race scientists assume that IQ is fixed at birth and is genetic in origin, and they also assume that it measures general intelligence.

None of these assumptions hold up. Research among separated single egg twins shows that when they are raised in the same kind of middle class environment their IQs are similar. However, in the few cases where they’ve ended up in families from different social classes, there IQs vary significantly (in one case by 20 IQ points; in another by 29). Other studies have also shown that the IQs of children adopted into middle class homes rise significantly and that these increases can persist into adulthood.

IQ and environment

The world’s leading IQ theorist, Jim Flynn, has proved that IQs have risen across the board over the last century (100 years ago the average IQ by today’s standards would be about 70). The reason for this “Flynn Effect”, as it has been dubbed, has nothing to do with genetics and all to do with environment – in particular, increased exposure to various forms of abstract logic, which is what the tests measure.

Different population groups are exposed to markedly different environmental conditions, which is why average scores vary. For this reason IQ scores are rising faster in some populations than others (average IQs of Kenyan children were shown to have risen by 26.3 points in 14 years). Similarly, black American IQs are rising at a faster rate than those of white Americans, while Jewish Americans went from having below average IQs at the time of the First World War to having above average IQs now.

This illustrates how absurd it is to compare the IQs of different populations but when you remove IQ scores from the tool box of the scientific racists, the rest of their case falls to dust.

And yet the widespread combination of misplaced faith in the immutability of IQ and misplaced faith in the ability of genes to determine behaviour has allowed their claims to fester away, unchallenged in the public arena. The problem in not challenging these bad ideas promptly and vigorously goes way beyond their flawed science. If the public and its opinion makers come to accept notions like Wade’s – such as that Africans are, by nature, none-too-bright tribalists – we’ll be in danger of returning to the dangerous mentality that formed the ballast for colonialism and slavery.

Gavin Evans is the author of Black Brain, White Brain: Is intelligence skin deep? The book is published by Jonathan Ball in South Africa and Thistle in the UK.

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Comment on this report

Comments 31
  1. By Netta Drift

    Scientist should spend their time and research monies on better subjects than this.

    • By Gavin Evans

      In response to John Lilburne’s comment:

      First, my book makes it clear that there are indeed environmental and genetic influences in IQ at an individual level, and the proportions are open to legitimate debate. The point is that the differences between average IQs at a population level are explained entirely by environmental factors. I explain in considerable detail why this is the case.

      Second, the question of when our brains ceased evolving in terms of intelligence is not a left or right wing issue. I quoted several of the world’s leading biological anthropologists, showing that there is an emerging consensus that our brains evolved to their current at least 100,000 years ago, possibly more.

      Third, as my book stresses, over and over again, human beings evolved in a limited physical sense long after they left Africa (I cited many examples, including skin colour, ethnic diseases and lactose tolerance). The point I make in the book is that these involved single gene mutations. Intelligence involves a network of thousands of genes. So you are not comparing like with like. I explain in the book why it is not surprising that intelligence has not evolved for 100,000-plus years – it is precisely what we would expect.

      Fourth, I strongly disagree with Mr Lilburne that ‘genes for IQ are not spread evenly amongst racial groupings’. This is simply wrong. No-one has managed to isolate ‘IQ genes’ and those genetic determinists, like Robert Plomin, who have tried, have been forced to admit they have come up empty-handed, and that IQ is governed by a network of thousands of genes.

  2. By wmr

    “Race scientists assume that IQ is fixed at birth”

    Can you provide a citation for this claim?

  3. By John Lilburne

    Mr Evans book is a well written but polemical book.
    Firstly there are definitely environmental as well as genetic effects on IQ and world IQ’s have risen over time. Also language and education form barriers to doing well among groups
    However on the g factor which is measured both by pen and pencil and by reverse digit response as well as recognition/reaction response tests there has not been an increase and in some areas might have even retrogressed.
    Many left wing creationists believe evolution stopped about 70000 years ago, but recent genetic studies have shown that genetic change has actually speeded up within the past 10000 years. an example is lactose tolerance amongst Europeans that spread only approximately 8000years ago.
    Lastly but controversially recent examination of genotype have shown that genes for IQ are not spread evenly amongst racial groupings(this is recent post Lahn) It is controversial not because it doesn’t fit into the cultural marxist world view but because the results have yet to be tested by a number of researchers.
    I wish this wernt so as the world is a mess enough with competing group interests and ecological concerns without there being these other problems

  4. By Kevin Jones

    “evolved in a limited physical sense long after they left Africa […]The point I make in the book is that these involved single gene mutations”

    The fact that some populations are rather taller than others would seem mysterious then.

    Height is not quite as polygenetic as intelligence, but the largest single genes are about 1% of a standard deviation if I recall correctly.

    “not a left or right wing issue. I quoted several of the world’s leading biological anthropologists”

    I can’t say I’ve met many right-wing anthropologists. But anthropologist who can make sense of genomics data must be an even rarer breed.

    Anyway I look forward to reading a copy of the book.

  5. By John Lilburne

    Thank you for a polite reply.
    Firstly there is a lot of disagreement with Lewontin hypothesis in that although there may a broad range of overlap between groups, on areas where there is selection pressure, the selection pressure can create completely (major) separation between groups. A good example is skin colour,

    Secondly evolution unfortunately stops. The past 10000 years has seen more change than the previous 100 000 see .Experiments with foxes have shown complete separation of characteristics where there is strong selection pressure within 13 generations ( equivalent to about 400years in human time) . Also the complete uniformity of mankind has unfortunately been broken with discovery of different population groups having different proportion of neanderthal and denisovian genes.

    Lastly with expanding computing and gene analysis the discovery of genes for IQ are starting to emerge. Admittedly it is still early days and need confirmation, but they are there. The Chinese are doing a lot of work in this field and although they are Marxists they are not cultural Marxists and do not have the censorship (at least on this subject) that exists in the west.

    Here are a couple of papers.

    Piffer, D. (2013). Factor analysis of population allele frequencies as a simple, novel method of detecting signals of recent polygenic selection: The example of educational attainment and IQ, Mankind Quarterly, 54, 168-200.

  6. By Gavin Evans

    In response to John Liburne’s latest comment: John, I agree that evolution ‘stops’ or at least slows down. That is part of the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which I endorsed in the book. It is part of the reason why I argue that it is unsurprising that human intelligence does not seem to have advanced over the last 100,000 years.

    On the question of finding genes for IQ, I deal with two examples in the book: first, Bruce Lahn’s thoroughly discredited claims to have found two genes implicated in intelligence and less prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. What has been shown without any doubt is that neither of these alleles have anything to do with intelligence or brain size; second, I deal with the KL-VS gene, which some publications claimed was an IQ gene. I show that there is no evidence for this. All that has been established is that enhances the short-term memory of old people. It has not been tested among people younger than 50 and the volunteers have never been presented with IQ tests. This allele does appear to have some variation in terms of population group. For example, from the very limited data available, more African Americans than white Americans seem to have KL-VS.

    Third, I don’t think the analogy between evolution for skin colour (or, say, sickle cell anemia, or lactose tolerance) and the evolution for intelligence is useful or apposite because you are not comparing like with like. These physical changes typically arise from single gene mutations. Even the limited IQ variant of intelligence involves a network of thousands of genes.

    Fourth, the fact that Europeans possess very small quantities of Neanderthal DNA, and that native Australians and others possess small quantities of Denisovian DNA appears to have no bearing on intelligence. Humans had more agile, analytical, symbolism-rich minds than the Neanderthals, which is perhaps why we were able to wipe them out. The fact that Europeans have a smidgen of Neanderthal DNA doesn’t appear to make them innately less intelligent than Africans, whose humanity is more ‘pure’.

    Finally, I am a little surprised that you cite an article from Mankind Quarterly. This is an overtly racist journal, funded by the Pioneer Fund, which is also overtly racist and committed to eugenics. It is therefore not a journal taken seriously beyond the very small coterie of evolutionary and educational psychologists who write for it, many of them hard-line, immovable racists.

    • By John Lilburne

      The structure of the human brain was well formed 70000 year ago, but Prof Cochran has shown that things have changed sine then. A 10% difference in brain size between groups for the same body size is not a change in structure but would produce a definite change in thinking quality. That can be accounted for just a few gene changes. New research is indicating something like 25% of IQ differences can be accounted for known gene differences. This field is fast moving and things have changed even after you wrote. You are surprised I quote from a mankind quarterly article. Firstly truth is truth no matter where found. Secondly the consensus of race was created by political pressure. The school of anthropology was captured by disciples of Frans Boaz, a communist who manipulated his data. Scientist who contest the present consensus are blackballed no matter what their status(Watson). Lastly I am surprised in your book you quote approvingly from SJ Goulds book the mismeasure of man, when his conclusions on Mr Mortons research were found to be lackadaisical if not deliberately fraudulent. Rgds

  7. By Brett Nell

    Hi Gavin,

    You spoke this morning on SA TV about how wrong the SA history was taught over the years and then you made the statement that the blacks were in SA 1000 years before the white which is totally wrong. There is NO evidence of any settlement of blacks in SA before the met the whites at the Fish river only 100 years after the whites arrived at the Cape in 1652. They were chased down by the ZULU`s who murdered over 2 million blacks at that time. Our history as told in the past is still true, you will not be able to provide us any evidence of the statements you made in your interview.

  8. By Gavin Evans

    Brett Nell commented: ‘is NO evidence of any settlement of blacks in SA before the (sic) met the whites at the Fish river only 100 years after the whites arrived at the Cape in 1652.’

    This is, simply, nonsense. First, San had been in the Cape for tens of thousands of years (their predecessors had been in the Cape for well over 100,000 years and San tools in Kwa-Zulu-Natal have been carbon dated at 45,000 years). They were subdued and eliminated after 150 years of armed conflict with the Dutch settlers, with Bushman hunts continuing until late in the 19th century, as I discuss in my book. The Khoi-Khoi pasturalists, who branched off from the San about 2,000 years ago, and lived in various parts of South Africa since then. They were wiped out by the smallpox introduced by the settlers, as well as by slavery, sharing genes with Dutch, Xhosa and slave people, and by massacres.

    There is strong evidence that Nguni people (which became the country’s African population) were in Natal by at least 300AD, but perhaps longer. They reached the Transkei and Eastern Cape by about 700AD, possibly earlier, and became the Xhosa people. So when I said they had arrived about 1,000 years before the white trekkers, I was being cautious. It is probably a bit longer than that.

  9. By Pieter Rossouw

    I found reading this book an intellectual roller coaster ride! At “high” times, Gavin summarizes historical information in a “sweet spot” manner. Very accessible if you have a bit of general knowledge of the field covered. In some cases I had to say to myself “whoa” here is a slightly different perspective or this is new to me. Then after consideration of his reasons, I sometimes had to take the decision to adjust my thinking.

    If I interpreted his book properly, his basic thesis is that there is NO valid information that proves race related genetics to be the key driver of the apparent intelligence gap between Africans and non Africans. He continues that this apparent IQ gap is largely due to poor measuring methods, differences in the intellectual growth environments of children and deliberately racist interpretation of the poor quality data available. That the genetic elements of the evolutionary development of “intelligence”, largely occurred many years ago. Well before the separation that created the different races, that occurred about 60k years ago. To a large extent I buy these thoughts as they support my previously held perceptions. However, to conclude that NO recent evolutionary development took place despite the limited knowledge of Intelligence genes and Allele presently available, is a bit far fetched.

    Unfortunately at times Gavin falls “down” into his accusations of racism and name dropping phases. Frankly, it got a bit boring plowing through name after name and accusation after accusation. In any event what is the sense of accusing a man or a woman of being racist when the racist remarks were made long ago when man’s knowledge base of Genetics and IQ was far more limited than today. Remarks that would only come to be considered Racist many years later, given the a better knowledge base and moral revisions of the late 20th century.

    I must admit that at times I found his obsession with the problems associated with actually measuring Intelligence to distinguish between smart and dumb a bit excessive. Especially as he makes no effort to suggest improvements. After all anyone who had ever used the outcome of an IQ test as part of an assessment of an individual. Has learned from experience that an IQ test can only give an inkling of the precise mental capacity of an individual. As a school child I was IQ tested in both Afrikaans and English as I was considered bilingual. In retrospect I can only think it was part of a PhD study to standardize IQ tests in Afrikaans. That original Afrikaans IQ questionaire version was a total disaster due to poor phrasing. My Afrikaans IQ was apparently about 50 points lower than my English IQ! Given this background I wonder at the effectiveness of American IQ tests designed to measure IQ among WASP’s, when used among non-WASPS.

    To my mind he failed in another facet of his analysis. He did not try to draw it to a positive conclusion. If it is true that genes play NO role in intelligence and NO evolution of genetically driven intellectual capacity occurred over the last 60k years. Then why are Africans so poor? AND growing poorer. According to United Nations studies, between 1970, therefore after independence for most colonies and the present. Sub Saharan Africans INCREASED their abject poverty populations from about 25% of their population to about 50% at present. While Asians REDUCED their abject poverty populations from about 25% to about 5% in the same timeframe and global economic environment. Surely some facet of intelligence and intellectual dynamism plays a role in economic development?

    And when Evans embarked on his attack on Nicolas Wade’s book “A Troublesome inheritance: ………..” he really overstepped the mark in my book. Maybe I’m a bit stupid, but, I interpreted Wade’s basic thesis as; There is only a relatively small amount of race related genetic research data presently available in 2014. Further that accusations of Racism such as offered by Evans has become a major hold back factor for researchers of the Gene / Race relationship. Wade convinced me that there may also be a portfolio of genetically driven tendencies that might play a role. But, precise identification and quantification of this role will take a lot more research as the present knowledge levels are simply inadequate. Needless to say, discussions of these possible tendencies can generate a source of disingenious quotes for people like Evans. Wade also offers the warning “But the genes that cover human behavior seldom issue imperatives. They operate by setting mere inclinations.”

    If we assume my interpretation of Wade’s thesis is correct. Then we have to accept that either Evans intellectually failed to get a similar understanding or deliberately misquoted Wade. To my mind this question destroys Evans’s book for me. If he misinterprets Wade so badly, by stupidity or design, what other misinterpretations did his book try to sell as factual? I do not have the time nor inclination to counter read all his references in order to check the validity of all his statements or accusations.

    I also ask myself; Why would a Reporter of Gavin Evans’ standing in the Anti Apartheid movement during the ’80’s, leave South Africa when it became a Democracy in 1993/4? At exactly the time when ANC led South Africa would need the input of influential reporters of his political persuasion most?

    I’m sorry, the “delete” button I shall use to delete this book from my digital library will be one of the most expensive deliberate deletes of my life! This will be the fist time in my life that I will deliberately destroy a copy of a book.

    • By Gavin Evans

      Pieter, I have to say I found your comment perplexing. It is clear that you have read the book cover-to-cover, but it is also clear that there key bits that you simply did not understand.

      I’ll start with your discussion of Nicolas Wade’s toxic book, ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’. You say that ‘either Evans intellectually failed to get to a similar understanding[to yours] or deliberately misquoted Wade. No, Pieter, I certainly did not misquote Wade – and I find that suggestion offensive – and I have read Wade’s book very carefully and there was nothing difficult to grasp. What you seem unable or unwilling to understand is the reasons I spelled out why Wade’s premises and conclusions are wrong. Firstly, Wade conflates differences in human populations with natural selection. In fact, most differences between human population are the result of genetic drift (neutral evolution that confers no adaptive advantage). Secondly, Wade makes the huge error of assuming that physical differences between human population (those he mentions include skin colour, lactose tolerance, ethnic diseases, ear wax and so-on), with evolution for intelligence. As I explain in considerable !
      detail earlier in my book, there is no valid comparison in this regard. The changes Wade refers to relate to single gene mutations. Intelligence (even its limited IQ variant) involves a network of thousands of genes. So he is not comparing like with like. It is these errors that prompt Wade to come to his ridiculous conclusions (that Africans have evolved to be violent, over-trusting tribalists, that the English – like himself – have evolved to be enterprising, that the Chinese evolved to be authoritarian, the Finns to be violent drunks and the Jews to be good at capitalism).

      Second, you write: ‘If it is true that genes play NO role in intelligence and No evolution of genetically driven intellectual capacity occurred over the last 60k years. (sic) Then why are Africans so poor?’ This questions suggests you missed one of the key points in the book. I have never said or suggested that genes play no role in intelligence. I said the opposite – that they do. My point was that at an individual level this role is frequently exaggerated, but they are nevertheless real. What I said was that when you compare IQs at a population level the differences in scores are entirely the result of environmental factors. Your question, ‘Then why are Africans so poor?’ sounds like it came straight from Wade. In chapters two and three of my book I explain why Africa developed at a different pace to Europe (which has nothing to do with genetics). And you are wrong to say that, on average, Africans are getting poorer. They are not, and, in fact, seven of the fastest growin!
      g economies in the world are African.

      You also say that I provided no positive conclusions about intelligence testing or anything else. Did you miss out my final chapter? There I set out what I regard as better methods of aptitude testing. And I end on a strongly positive note. For readers who have not read my book, I will quote from the final paragraph: ‘The alternative idea – one rooted in science – embraces a different concept of race: of the human race with its ever looser populations groups which flow one into the next, the genes shared faster and faster as international travel becomes easier and borders more porous. Within those seven billion bodies and minds, regardless of nation, region, tribe or ethnic group, the entire range of human capacity can be found, albeit a capacity mediated by wealth and poverty; by family custom and religious belief; by education; by heat and cold; by trees, mountains, deserts and buildings; by viruses and microbes; and by everything that falls under the canopy of culture. Bu!
      t despite these huge environmental differences, we can be sure of one thing: within any group we choose to name we will find the full spread, in roughly equal proportions, of human nature: cruelty and kindness, violence and gentility, madness and sanity, inventiveness and placidity, idiocy and genius.’

      Finally, the penultimate paragraph of your long comment is one that I regard as a cheap shot. The reason I left South Africa to live in London 23 years ago related to personal factors, including the fact that my mother-in-law, who was English, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was given two years to live, but in the end survived 10. After that I began applying for academic jobs in South Africa. In one department, the response from the professor was that although my academic qualifications were impeccable I was ‘too white, too old and too male’.


      Gavin Evans

      • By Pieter Rossouw

        Once again you ignore Wade’s basic thesis and repeat your accusations. I suggest you re-read Chapter 1

        African Economics. Do not just read the headlines!! Yes some African economies are among the fastest growing economies in the world if measured as percentages. However Go look here: and here MDG report/MDGReport2014_PR_Asia.pdf. You can also go Here These two UN reports show that in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals Abject Poverty levels increased substantially in Africa while reducing substantially in the Asian area. This Gapminder presentation shows it in graphic terms See Presentation 3

        Positive Conclusion; I expected more from you.

        Cheap Shot; My Sincere Apologies

        • By Gavin Evans

          I don’t need to re-read Wade. One dose of his revoltingly racist book was more than enough. And I am, most certainly, reading beyond his money quotes. The essential flaw in his case is that he conflates purely physical adaptations that can relate to a single allele, with broad national stereotypes that have no genetic connections whatsoever. But don’t just take it from me. His book prompted 139 of the world’s leading population geneticists and evolutionary theorists to sign a letter in the New York Times refuting Wade’s key propositions about the exist, and they were later joined by several others, who later added their names. They wrote: ‘Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate explanation of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in IQ test results, political institutions and economic development. We reject Wade’s implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not. We!
          are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures.’ One of these signatories, Professor Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago evolutionary geneticist described Wade’s book as ‘a speculative house of cards’ and ‘simply bad science’. Another, Mark Stoneking, an evolutionary geneticist at Leipzig’s elite Max Planck Institute, castigated Wade’s race claims. ‘How do define the concept of race biologically is not easy, but to me one prediction is that not only should one be able to define discrete clusters of people that correspond to races, there should be distinct boundaries between them – and if you look at patterns of genetic variation in human populations, you find they are distributed along geographic “clines” with no distinct boundaries.’

        • By Rashida Bryan

          Pieter the reason why Africans all around the world and all minority groups that are less ‘superior’ than whites are poor because they interfered with their development. When they ‘discovered’ these melanin skin people, they wanted to ‘civilized’ them. They destroyed treasures, they raped our women, they stole our precious metals and claim all as their own. Please revisit history. When whites so-called ‘discovered’ Africans or other minority groups they totally destroyed their books,their history and basically who they are. Do you think that isolated groups that the caucasian cannot touch are poor?Do you think that they are uncivilized?Do you think that materialism makes one happy and civilized and more intelligent?I can say that capitalism is materialistic. It makes one strive for happiness through physical things.Please read about black history. Read about black kings and queens. and also all minority groups in the world. basically those with melanin. We had a history. We had our own civilization and intelligent people. The Europeans thought that all other races are less superior. They had no respect for other cultures. I am in a Caribbean country. And it is hard when you are black. You could be the smartest. If you are white and dumb you make it better in life. Most of the powers and places of leadership are owned by Plantation Owners offspring. And this is not only in my country. So intelligence play no role. once you are black thats it. no chance.You just dont get it. I wish this world could go beyond the the color of one skin. Sad ain’t it? And this is a more modern, civilized world?

          • By Rob Smith

            “When whites so-called ‘discovered’ Africans or other minority groups they totally destroyed their books,their history…”

            Sub-Saharan Africans never even created a written language. And, knowledge can’t be stolen.

            No pre-contact sub-Saharan African society ever created a written language, or words for abstract ideas, or weaved cloth, or forged steel,

            invented the wheel or plow, or devised a calendar, or code of laws, or any social organization, or formal religion. or system of measurement,

            or math, or built a multi-story structure or bridge or sewer, or infrastructure of any kind, and they never harnessed a river, or even

            drilled well or irrigated, or built a road or railway or sea-worthy vessel, they never domesticated animals, or exploited underground natural

            resources, or produced anything that could be considered a mechanical device.

  10. By Gavin Evans

    In response to John Liburne’s latest comment:
    I deal extensively with the brain size debate in the book. Among humans there is indeed a wide variation in brain sizes. This relates mainly to body size (not just height, but bone structure too). But there is no causal link between bigger brains among modern humans and higher intelligence, and, as I show, the biggest brain people are not Asians or whites.

    On Steven Jay Gould: You describe his research on Morton as ‘fraudulent’. This is nonsense. It came from a paper that misinterpreted Gould that was highlighted by the New York Times in a piece written by Nicholas Wade, and we all know where he was coming from. The paper referred to actually did show that Morton had got some of his measurements wrong, but that was not Gould’s point. He wasn’t questioning Morton’s measurement and he wasn’t claiming Morton’s results were fraudulent. He was questioning Morton’s interpretation of his own research and what he did with it. For example, Morton used only females for his ‘Hottentot’ results and only male Englishmen for his white results. On the basis of these results he concluded that the ‘Hottentots’ were the ‘nearest approximation to the lower animals’ and that there women were ‘even more repulsive in appearance than the men’. So Gould was correct in his criticism of Morton and Gould’s critics were wrong. Unfortunately, Gould had died by the time they came out with their paper, so he wasn’t around to defend himself.

  11. By anna powels

    If black Africans have less Neanderthal DNA than European man then perhaps this is the missing link in intelligence because clearly there is one and we must be more truthful about facts. Why is there such a problem with the truth if regardless of the skin colour is it just because we wish not to offend. Facts are facts we are all suppose to be equal as humans but clearly this is not true either so why live behind lies.If you want to explore all aspects of life be truthful even if it hurts. Lies hurt even more. Evans has told it as it should be. Well done.

    • By Rob

      In fact Blacks are the only race with no DNA from the large-brain Neanderthals.

      Blacks are also the only race without the derived form of MCPH1 microcephalin called haplogroup D which produces increased brain volume and density.

      Black brains are smaller, lighter and less complex compared to Whites and Asians.

  12. By Gavin Evans

    In response to Anna Powel’s comment: This really is an odd one. She says ‘Evans has told it as it should be’, with reference to the truth, but then she directly contradicts what I have said by saying that Neanderthal DNA might be the ‘missing link’ in European intelligence. Obviously, I suggested nothing of the sort. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the tiny quantities of Neanderthal DNA in modern Europeans has any relation to intelligence – or that the tiny quantities of Denisovan DNA (almost identical to Neanderthal DNA) in native Australians and others from that part of the world is implicated in superior intelligence for them. And why would it? Were the Neanderthals and Denisovans more intelligent than the Africans who displaced them? Evidently not. We displayed the imagination, creativity, empathy, ambition and self-consciousness that was beyond their ken.

  13. By Coneyro

    I am responding on a “non-academia” level. These studies just add fuel to the fire of racial hatred. Some will say What is the use of trying to educate “these people”? I came to this site to try and find evidence to refute horrid comments made on another discussion group. Why is there a need to find out the intellectual standing of any race or ethnicity? If everyone had an equal chance to succeed at birth, statistics would be different. Environment and life experience make a hugh difference in the ability to learn. When black children are given extra attention and instruction, as witnessed by several experiments, the academic success is phenomenal. Instead of pandering to those who would relish in negative outcomes, and the degradation of their fellow human beings, why not write about the color or ethnic profile of a person should not be any deterrent to a successful academic career if allowed a level playing field. Just an observation as a “normal” non-scientific commenter.

  14. By Um

    So if there is no diff between white and black brains… Why does Princeton, among other colleges, Give 200+sat points to even the playing field against whites? Just asking in a non aggressive way.

    • By Seen

      Could be that systematic racism has caused most people of color into poorer neighborhoods, with bad schools and instead of rectifying that problem they created a bonus system to “level” the playing field

    • By umwhat

      I’m west African, I grew up in a poor community as a young child, but moved before middle school to a predominantly white location. I ate food mostly from my African culture (no chemicals and junk food) and my siblings and I did great in school, no criminal records. Even with a divorce my upbringing was peaceful. I noticed with my friends where i moved from, they ate a lot of unhealthy foods (mostly because it was affordable) and we’re often harrased by school officials. Not only that no one gave psychological therapy to victims of slavery who in turn rose kids, who grew up rose kids etc. My point is if you take 2 of the same seeds and grow one in health soil and the other in barren soil, even though they both have the capacity to grow big and strong, one will always out perform the other. The SAT point thing takes us away from the real problem here.

    • By Rob

      Black-White SAT Score Gap by Year:

             Year              White             Black               Gap
             1986              1038               839                 199
             1990              1031               849                 185
             1996              1052               857                 195
             2000              1060               859                 201
             2005              1061               863                 197
             2010              1063               855                 208

      Source: U.S. Dept. of Education, Digest of Education Statistics, 2012

      Frey and Detterman (2003) analyzed the correlation of SAT scores with intelligence test scores. They found SAT scores to be highly correlated

      with general mental ability, or g (r=.82 in their sample).


      This research established the relationship between SAT and g, as well as the appropriateness of the SAT as a measure of g, and examined the

      SAT as a premorbid measure of intelligence. In Study 1, we used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Measures of g were extracted

      from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and correlated with SAT scores of 917 participants. The resulting correlation was.82 (.86

      corrected for nonlinearity). Study 2 investigated the correlation between revised and recentered SAT scores and scores on the Raven’s

      Advanced Progressive Matrices among 104 undergraduates. The resulting correlation was.483 (.72 corrected for restricted range). These studies

      indicate that the SAT is mainly a test of g. We provide equations for converting SAT scores to estimated IQs; such conversion could be useful

      for estimating premorbid IQ or conducting individual difference research with college students.

      Frey MC, Detterman DK.

      PMID: 15147489 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]


      New York Times, 2003:

      The SAT captures more than a narrow range of skills, important only in the first year or two of college. Large-scale meta-analyses by

      researchers at the University of Minnesota have found that SAT performance is as good of a predictor of overall college grade point average

      as it is of freshman grade point average, and Vanderbilt researchers David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow have documented that the SAT predicts

      life outcomes well beyond the college years, including income and occupational achievements.

      Furthermore, the SAT is largely a measure of general intelligence. Scores on the SAT correlate very highly with scores on standardized tests

      of intelligence, and like IQ scores, are stable across time and not easily increased through training, coaching or practice. SAT preparation

      courses appear to work, but the gains are small — on average, no more than about 20 points per section.


      ACT Scores by Race:

             Year              White             Black               Asian
             2009              22.2               16.9                 23.2
             2010              22.3               16.9                 23.4
             2011              22.4               17.0                 23.6
             2012              22.4               17.0                 23.6
             2013              22.2               16.9                 23.5
      Source: ACT, Inc.

      Note that there is no closing of the large and persistent so-called “achievement gap”.

      In 2015 only 16% of Blacks scored 1550 or higher, the threshold the College Board calls the “college and career readiness” level.

      This racial achievement gap is so significant that colleges give a “race bonus” of 230 points to Blacks and penalize Asians by 50 points to

      try to keep it even.


      Percent by Race Reaching the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark:

                       15% = Black
                       24% = Non-White HIspanic
                       35% = Native American
                       53% = White
                       56% = Asian               

      Source: The College Board, 2014

    • By Nathan Schmitz

      Because many blacks had a very bad history with racism causing them many problems with that causing many things to happen like devaulement and destructive atitude that leaves 50% of all blacks jobless. So places like princeton give them a equal playing feild. My information may not be the best so it is wise to compare with some solid information on the internet.

  15. By June Gudmundsdottir

    Hi Gavin, I have a question that maybe you can answer: Why is it that there are observable and measurable differences (in terms of phsyical appearance and physical abilities) between black and white people and Asian people but at the same time there is no difference in intelligence? Why would intelligence remain constant when everything else varies to some degree? Some races are more prone to certain diseases than others. Some races have certain facial characteristics and height characteristics. And on, and on. Obviously it is relative because at the end of the day we are all human beings, but there are these observable differences nonetheless. Why is intelligence the one thing that you and other claim must always be constant across the three races?

  16. By gavin evans

    In response to the question from [email protected] about why it is that humans have evolved physically and not in terms of intelligence:

    The answer is quite simple, June. As I explain in a lot of detail in my book ‘Black Brain, White Brain’ you are not comparing like with like. Examples of physical evolution (like Tai Sachs, Sickle Cell Anaemia, skin colour, lactose tolerance, single lid eyelids, etc) are usually the result of single gene mutations, and are often the result of genetic drift and not natural selection (for example the Ashkenazi Jewish ethnic diseases are all the result of genetic drift). Intelligence, in contrast – even the very limited IQ variant – involves the combination of thousands of genes. Despite exhaustive attempts, no single gene has been found that has a significant role in superior intelligence. It is highly likely that human intelligence has not advanced for 100,000 years and perhaps far longer – all the way back to the evolution of the first modern humans about 200,000 years ago.

  17. By gavin evans

    In response to Rob Smith’s racist comments: I strongly suggests he reads my book ‘Black Brain, White Brain’ because it answers all his points.

    He writes: ‘Blacks are also the only race without the derived form of MCPH1 microcephalin called haplogroup D which produces increased brain volume and density’. This research has been utterly discredited, and withdrawn by the Chinese academic, Bruce Lahn, who proposed it. MCPH1 has no relation to brain size or intelligence, and black people are not the only ones without it. Lahn himself suggested he did not have it.

    He produces figures on SATS scores and relates them to IQ scores. As I explain in Black Brain, White Brain, the IQ scores are hugely influenced by environment, which is why IQ continues to rise (but faster in some societies, like Kenya, than others). The gap between black American and White American IQs is closing. Early in the 20th century Ashkenazi Jewish IQs in the US were below average; not they are above average. In the 1960s Asian American IQs were below average, now they are above average. Almost all serious IQ theorists acknowledge there is no point in comparing IQ scores of different populations because these differences are entirely the result of environmental differences. As Jim Flynn, the most important IQ theorist of the past half century has explained, the reason for different IQ scores among different populations relates mainly to exposure to abstract logic and the scientific way of viewing the world. If tested on today’s IQ tests, Americans of 100 years ago would have average IQs of below 70. They haven’t changed genetically in a century. The reason relates to exposure to abstraction.

    If Rob Smith did more reading (or if he just read chapter two of my book), he would have understood the embarrassing depth of his ignorance in his assessment of pre-colonial Africa. For example, African people in Nubia invented their own 23 sign alphabet under the Moroe kingdon (800 BC to 350 AD). All over Africa, going back to 1,000 BC or further, there are examples of mining for gold, iron, copper, bronze and other minerals, and their smelting and so-on. The ancestors of the Shona people extracted 20-million ounces of gold from around Great Zimbabwe (the 15th century Portuguese traders write of it being surrounded by gold mines). The ancient Ethiopians were smelting their own coins from about 2,000 years ago. In the 1700s the kingdom of Benin (in modern Nigeria) had factories producing their own firearms. I could go on and on.

    • By Ron Jones

      Such a long winded and verbose piece of apologist nonsense. Clearly, we are now in the make-believe, feel-good world of calling any science that reveals the obvious differences between, specifically, the black and white races as “racist science”. Bunk.

      We now know that all of humanity have between 1%and 5% neanderthal DNA, except for sub-Saharan Africans, who have none. Forensic scientists can identify the race of people from skeletal remains alone. Race is real and consequential.

      Sub-Saharan Africans have shown clearly distinct deficiencies in abstract reasoning and mechanical aptitude, as well as a propensity for violence, emotional and irresponsible behavior. This is why, despite the vast amounts of money dumped into the bottomless pit of black assistance, education, housing, etc., they persist as the most violence prone, poverty stricken and academically challenged race on the planet. Thus, they are less a social asset than a costly liability in any civilized country they inhabit.

      Hernnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve did a very careful job of measuring IQ between races, and even corrected for socio-economic income, health and other factors. Black Their research was condemned by leftists with an agenda, and even used some scientific-sounding arguments to try to paint a picture of discreditation, but to no avail. The research stands and is sound.

      The only long term solution for peace is to stop forcing races to live together. Stop the “multiculturalism” lie. Stop the incessant “racism” lie. Long live the nations. Down with global socialism!

  18. By Dr Gavin Evans

    Ron Jones’s rather hysterical comments reveal a profound ignorance on biology, evolution, anthropology and African history.

    To start with his opening play, he says that all of humanity ‘have between 1% and 5% neanderthal DNA’ except sub-Saharan Africa. This is simply untrue. For example, Polynesians and native Australians have a similar percentage of Denisovan DNA. The Denisovans were genetically similar to the Neanderthals but were geographically separate. But the point is that neither Neanderthal nor Denisovan DNA would or could have any implications for superior intelligence. The sole scientist who once claimed this, Bruce Lahn, withdrew his claims and his work in this regard has been thoroughly and decisively discredited. One could explain this on genetic grounds, but perhaps a ‘common sense’ argument is more prescient here. We need to ask: Were the Neanderthals or Denisovans more intelligent than the African immigrants who replaced them? The answer is no – the Africans who arrived in Asia and Europe 45,000 years ago, and in Australia at about the same time, had superior tools and weapons, more sophisticated organisation and hunting techniques, and superior creative skills (as can be seen from their cave art and s-on). So why would Neanderthal/Denisovan genes promote superior intelligence?

    Jones’s next paragraph is an example of unadulterated racism. In my book, ‘Black Brain, White Brain: Is intelligence skin deep’ I devote two chapters to refuting the discredited view that sub-Saharan Africans have shown any deficiencies in reasoning, creation and innovation.

    Astonishingly, Jones then devotes a paragraph to praising Hernnstein and Murray’s thoroughly discredited book, ‘The Bell Curve’. In ‘Black Brain, White Brain’ I devote two chapters to showing why its core logic, its selective research and its interpretation of this research is simply wrong. Jones should read the work of the most important IQ theorist of the past half century, James Flynn, on why Herrnstein and Murray are so wrong in all their assumptions and conclusions.