Saturday, April 1, 2017

Jacob A Tennessen ― Does DNA cause racial differences in test scores?

I got a lot of feedback from Race, Genetics and Taboo. Mostly positive, believe it or not. One particularly engaging e-mail conversation was with Jonathan Tweet, author of the fantastic evolutionary children’s book Grandmother Fish. A lot came out of these dialogues worth sharing with the world. In any case, it’s my responsibility as a geneticist. Just as educators need to speak openly about safe sex despite it being an uncomfortable topic, so it is with race. Thus, even though I maintain that other species are more interesting, here I am writing again about (human) race and genetics.

It has often been noted that black people perform worse than white people, on average, on various standardized tests. Naturally, racists love to jump on this statistic as evidence for genetic interracial racial differences in cognitive ability. And of course, their logic is faulty. The scientific method says that you can’t infer a genetic effect between two groups when you haven’t controlled for environmental factors. I’m not even going to get into whole question of what IQ is, or whether IQ tests actually measure important neurological characteristics accurately.

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