Prof. Ralph Scott on the costs of not mentioning race differences

I recently had a conversation with an academic woman who was strongly against any discussion of racial differences in academic ability even though she seemed to believe they exist. I countered that in the absence of such a discussion, the conversation usually reverts to charges that the reason for the racial achievement gap (RAG) is because of White racism, either directly or indirectly (e.g., by causing Black poverty).

Now Prof. Ralph Scott of the University of Northern Iowa has written an article in Mankind Quarterly describing the victims of this rigorously enforced silence (“The Late Arthur Jensen: A latter-Day ‘Enemy of the People’?“). Dr. Scott was prominently involved in the public discussion of the effects of desegregation, including a stint as the Iowa chair of the US Commission on Civil Rights. His article presents Arthur Jensen as the consummate scientist. For example, Jensen only included heritability in his groundbreaking 1969  Harvard Educational Review article on boosting IQ because the editor requested him to do so. His finding that there was no evidence for lasting gains in IQ and that IQ differences are substantially heritable resulted in a firestorm, not only for Jensen but for others, such as Prof. Scott, who accepted these findings.

Scott emphasizes findings by Mark Snyderman and Stanley Rothman (The IQ Controversy [1988]) that there is a gap between (covertly held) professional opinion on IQ and the views disseminated by the elite media. “They found that, despite the common understanding to the contrary, most experts continue to believe that intelligence can be measured, and that genetic endowment plays an important role in IQ.” The following is from an abstract for the book:

The central question addressed in this book is why expert opinion and public views toward intelligence and its measurement are so widely divergent. The authors conclude that the public’s view of the IQ controversy has been shaped by inaccurate media coverage; and more importantly, by changes in the nature of American liberalism as well as the key role of civil rights issues in American life. The increasing influence of new strategic elites in the United States, and the changing role of the mass media, have profoundly affected the character of scientific information communicated to the general public and how it is communicated. (See here)

(Parenthetically, The Culture of Critique references 8 works co-authored by Stanley Rothman, including the groundbreaking Roots of Radicalism: Christians, Jews and the Left [which documents the predominant Jewish role in the 1960s countercultural revolution]. Rothman’s writings on the attitudes of the new elite and on the Jewish representation in the new elite are of seminal importance.)

Scott emphasizes Jensen’s finding that the one standard deviation difference between Black and White students persisted through the school years, implying that the problem was not the schools. As a result, Jensen emphasized that remediation should be aimed at the preschool years:

Colorblind emphasis therefore should be placed on prenatal and perinatal events taking place within families in the course of daily living, such as poor nutrition and intrafamily stress, as well as biophysical considerations, including maternal ingestion of illegal drugs during pregnancy, single parenting, crimes, and sickle cell anemia.

Needless to say, this remains an unpopular message in an age where it seems the blame is now directed mainly at teachers.  Jensen advocated placing children into ability groups based on their scores on standardized tests—a proposal that clearly conflicts with egalitarian dogma. Instead, the education establishment pinned their hopes of reducing the racial achievement gap (RAG) on desegregation—not merely de jure desegregation (in which Blacks had the right to attend neighborhood schools), but de facto segregation (which actively changed the racial balance of schools by forced busing).

The move against de facto segregation required evidence that segregation itself was harmful to Black children. The case for such harmful effects was based on fraudulent testimony by Kenneth Clark who omitted studies that conflicted with his preferred findings that segregation per se had harmful effects on Black children. Clark was rewarded for his duplicity by becoming president of the American Psychological Association).

Absent candid debate throughout the Brown proceedings, the Supreme Court mandated first de jure desegregation and then de facto.  Ultimately, the decision exacerbated social tensions, failed to reduce the RAG, and weakened traditional infrastructures of Black and White families, students, schools, and communities. …

Without acknowledging falsified testimony in Brown, civil rights advocates advanced two new explanations for the resilient RAG. First, schools serving predominantly Black students were underfunded, creating inequities along a spectrum of within-school criteria; second, assuring racial balance within schools and classrooms would facilitate Black learning.

Despite high-profile studies in the 1960s by prominent sociologists Daniel Patrick  Moynihan and James Coleman showing no benefits for Black children from desegregation and no evidence that predominantly Black schools were underfunded, public policy continued to emphasize not only racially balanced schools but eventually racially balanced neighborhoods. For example, “In September 2012, University of Chicago researchers reported unexpectedly disappointing results of forced housing or ‘housing initiatives.’  Providing vouchers to more than 2000 Black families produced no anticipated educational or economic benefits.”

The main victims in all this social engineering were poor Blacks:

By the 1980s, most Americans realized that de jure and de facto school desegregation not only failed to narrow the RAG but impaired the quality of life in schools, families, and communities while worsening racial tensions.  Fully 43 years after Jensen’s [Harvard Educational Review] article, demographics continue to reveal the extent to which forced busing contributed to the weakening of traditional African-American family and community supportive networks.  Pre- and post-school desegregatory initiatives were marked by the progressive fragility of Black families and communities.  Whereas Moynihan in the early 1960s was troubled by the 34% rate of Black illegitimacy, by 2012 the figure had risen to 78%, compared to rates of 51% with Hispanics and 24% with Whites.  Scott identified the counterproductive impact of forced busing along a wide demographic spectrum; [Prof. Raymond] Wolters documented post-forced busing evidence of family and community infrastructural weaknesses adversely impacting students, families, schools, and communities.

The reference to Raymond Wolters is his Race and Education, 1954-2007 (2008). Wolters’ review of Jared Taylor’s White Identity appeared in The Occidental Quarterly (Winter 2011-2012). In his review, Wolters agrees with Scott that the Supreme Court changed its mandate “from prohibiting racial discrimination to separate the races to requiring racial discrimination to mix them,” citing another of his books, The Burden of Brown (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984).

Despite no evidence of improvement, the official response of the Supreme Court was to predict that the long-awaited utopia when the RAG would be closed was just around the corner:

In rendering the decisive vote on the High Court decision Grutter vs. Bolling (539 U.S. 2003) and endorsing a continuing legality of quotas, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor averred, “…the Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences of social performance will no longer be necessary.”  In 2012 and having concurred with Justice O’Connor in the 2003 ruling, Justice Breyer acknowledged evidence of the unchanging RAG but noted only nine of the 25 years had passed.  Puzzled by remarks of Justices O’Connor and Breyer, Otis Graham, writing in the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, recalled the 1976 statement of Constance Baker Motley, an African-American judge, at a Conference on Affirmative Action at the Center for Studies of Democratic Institutions: “I despise the necessity of reverse discrimination but I swear to you we will end it in 25 years.”  Graham noted this was 26 years ago.

Hope springs eternal. I suspect that 15 years from now, when O’Connor’s rationalization for racial preferences times out, earnest liberals will continue to predict that the RAG will soon end.

Since academic opinion is so important for framing public policy discussions, we find an upside-down world where honest academics who question the benefits of forced integration are pilloried and unscrupulous professors see nothing but opportunity: “the history of contemporary racial research has convinced professors that they need not fear adverse consequences for twisting facts or providing deliberately false testimony to advance personal gain and acquiesce to harmful social causes.” He points to “the labyrinth of rewards dispensed within academia for publicly proclaiming illusory desegregatory benefits.”

In Scott’s case, his travails include attention from the notorious Barry Mehler who heads the so-called Institute for the Study of Scientific Racism at Ferris State  University. Mehler has a long record of smearing honest researchers (see, e.g., Kevin Lamb’s article on Raymond Cattell; Lamb was also a victim of the same forces of evil, in his case, the SPLC). There was also an attempt to fire Prof. Scott, frustrated only because he had tenure. (Sounds familiar.) At times, things were incredibly vicious:

For years, hitherto supportive White and Black students sought to drop my courses, having been informed in classrooms that I am a “racist” and consider Blacks “inferior.”  In citing my “racism,” one lecturing professor reported that a New York NAACP organization advised him to monitor my classes.  Asked about this, the professor threatened to sue me for infringing on his academic rights.  Given parameters of customary academic freedom, I brought the issue to the university graduate council, composed of friends and colleagues opting to accede, however reluctantly, to academic constraints; my concerns were summarily dismissed.  During council discussion, one professor asked, “Is it any worse for someone to be called a racist for antibusing views than reporting that busing is harmful to Black children?”  …  Day and night, my family members received threatening calls at home and office; university police scanned anonymous death threats; the dean of the College of Education warned, “You could get shot.”

Quite a telling commentary on a the environment typical of universities in the West — an environment, we have always been told, that holds the pursuit of truth as its highest value.
But of course it’s not just the university. When Prof. Scott presented his findings at the National Press Club,

raw facts proved insufficient: the resulting spirited public exchange included charges of “polite racism,” “blaming the innocent,” and “indifference to poor and minority children.”

When reports appeared that concluded that desegregation had positive effects, Scott’s article “describing the fundamental and unanimous conclusion of [National Institute of Education] panelists — absence of desegregatory academic or emotional benefits” was eventually rejected after initially being accepted.  Later, as the appointed Iowa  chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) during the Reagan administration, he was pilloried in the Des Moines Register for suggesting Jensen-based remedies.

But he had his defenders. Indeed, it is surprising to read the following from a letter from the attorney for the USCCR defending Prof. Scott:

“Unfortunately it is the norm rather than the exception among today’s civil rights lobbyists to discount as racists all who dare document the detrimental effect of 20 years of race-based remedies.  The future of civil rights requires assessment of the serious issues Scott has raised in his career, not vitriolic attack and innuendo.”

Such a letter from a U.S. government official seems impossible today. There were also very positive consequences stemming from that incident that would also seem long ago and far away:

 Following a Des Moines meeting of the agency’s attorney, the regional USCCR director, the editor of the Des Moines Register, and myself, allegations of racism were dropped and the ban on supportive letters lifted.  Subsequently, the paper’s entire editorial page consisted of statements of parents and educators endorsing schooling initiatives consistent with Jensen’s research: individual ability differences, tracking, and importance of within-family and biophysical correlates of learning and development. 

But the attacks continued.

Kenneth Clark former president of the American Psychological Association and lead NAACP attorney during the Brown proceedings, declared that scholars who thought schools alone are insufficient to close the RAG “infest children with hostility.”  Such scholars, said Clark, provide public officials with rationalizations for regressive policies, “…thus becoming agents of injustice.” … Reflecting concern over the influence of those with whom he disagreed, Clark cited “…inability of the decision makers and society as a whole to change the set of perceiving and rating the poor and dark skin minorities as justifiably rejected inferior human beings.”  … In remarks parallel to those of Clark’s, James Banks — former president of the American Educational Research Association — characterized advocates of tracking or ability grouping and use of standardized testing as “those who seek to disempower groups of color.”

The result of ignoring Jensen has been a long list of failed programs aiming to close the RAG, culminating with the No Child Left Behind Act of the Bush II administration.
As NCLB advanced from its 2001 origins, cumulative evidence of unproductivity has often been ignored.  After examining studies involving NCLB, in 2006 Iowa Public Radio reporter Claudia Sanchez declared, “…not only has NCLB failed but most worrisome is that achievement between White and minority schoolchildren has stayed the same and may even be widening despite Bush administration claims that NCLB has been closing the gap.
While ever more money is given to NCLB, programs for children with IQ>120 comprise a minuscule percentage of the Department of Education’s budget (~.01%), and were removed entirely by Bush in 2007.
There are  some hopeful signs (e.g., some Black writers, such as John McWhorter and Bill Cosby, emphasize Black behavior as part of the equation;  incidentally, McWhorter also has a sensible column on the  Christopher Lane murder: “Don’t ignore race in Christopher  Lane’s murder.
Nevertheless, the grievance industry continues to emphasize school-based remedies. Basically, these activists demand equal outcomes for all races despite recent studies supporting Jensen’s perspective that general intelligence is highly heritable and  that family environmental influence declines with age (Scott cites this study). For example, “the NAACP currently places priority on equitable school discipline as translated into quotas for suspension and expulsion, special educational assignments assuring equitable racial balances, and inclusion or mainstreaming in advanced placement classes.”
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Despite the continuing influence of the grievance industry, it would seem that Whites are increasingly unwilling to blame themselves for Black problems. A recent Pew Research Poll found that only 15% of Whites think that Blacks are treated unfairly at local public schools (see hereThe chart to the left shows large Black-White gaps for a wide range of situations).

Moreover, a recent study

 found that “students are more racially segregated in schools today than they were in the late 1960s and prior to the enforcement of court-ordered desegregation in school districts across the country” (“Segregation 2.0: The New Generation of School Segregation in the 21st Century“).

I rather doubt that the NAACP activists and their allies in the universities and government will ever be happy with anything less than equal outcomes, no matter how achieved. The same goes for Latino activists who, as Scott points out, are now making the same demands.The good news is that most Whites have stopped paying attention or blaming themselves for the problems of Blacks. Indeed, an article  on a 2011 study  noted that, “Whites believe that they have replaced blacks as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America” — that “reverse racism” is a bigger problem than anti-Black attitudes held by Whites.

Given these trends, it even seems conceivable that scientists like Arthur Jensen and Ralph Scott will one day be honored for their honesty and integrity and for the personal sacrifices they endured in trying to get the data right.

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