Race and IQ – RukaGate

Now that most of the dust has settled over the recent YouTube drama surround HeyRuka, I thought it was time I carefully picked over the wreckage and try to give a more balanced view on things. Failing that, I’d like to stir up trouble again.

It was disappointing as someone who was very keen to have Ruka on the show to see that she’s not the skeptic that we had her down to be. It was doubly disappointing given that we’d planned to have her on our show about morality, as Ruka has found herself at the centre of a racism charge.

For those who haven’t seen her videos, Ruka has made several videos (now deleted) concerning the differences that separate the different human races. Some of this content is her attempts to defend her initial arguments, and doing nothing to make her side seem more acceptable. She has stated that the difference between races is “not skin-deep”, and I agree; any geneticist can tell you that a person’s DNA can shed light upon their ethnicity. But that’s about as good as it gets. Of course, the races aren’t as genetically distinct as to be different species. At the end of the day there’s no denying that we’re all human beings. But what I really want to address here is Ruka’s claim that the black races are genetically predisposed to be less intelligent than the other races.

Before I continue, I’d just like to say a few things that really don’t need to be said. Firstly, I’ll be talking in averages here – nobody is suggesting that all black people are less intelligent than all white people (or whoever). Secondly, I’ll be using the comparison of white and black to make easy comparisons without using mouthfuls of more politically correct terms. No offence is intended to any of the minorities described (or not described) herein.

It’s not just Ruka that takes this point of view. In 2007 James Watson (the very same man who discovered the structure of DNA) caused outrage with his proclamation that Westerners have higher IQs than Africans, and that this is genetically determined. What this adds to Ruka’s case is that we might expect Watson to have more experience of interpreting the scientific literature and picking apart the factual from the bogus. It’s also becoming very apparent that different races and cultures have different cognitive patterns – we all know how good at Maths the Chinese are – something which is partially genetically determined.
So do some races have higher IQs than others? The answer from me is that I don’t know. I’m currently investigating the evidence and I’ll get back to you with my findings. Unfortunately HeyRuka refuses to cite her sources, so I’m tackling this one from scratch and I don’t want to present conclusions before I’ve drawn them. What I do want to discuss here is what we should make of it if it should turn out to be true. A lot of those who oppose this statement by Ruka are doing so without having looked at a shred of evidence. They feel duty-bound to deny it because they see agreeing with it as racist. It is not. If the evidence shows a significant difference in IQs between races, then that’s a fact and being coy about discussing it or denying it altogether is not a constructive attitude.

So for the remainder of this article, let’s suppose that IQ does correlate with race, and let’s also suppose that the black races that have the lower IQs. Before we can act on such a finding (if we are to act at all), we need to establish the root cause. First of all, if a study shows a significant IQ deficit between black and white, we have to see how the data was collected. It doesn’t take a statistician to see a flaw in comparing IQ results of a developed Western country which provides free education for all its citizens against an African nation in which schooling is too expensive for most children to afford. Westerners are constantly learning in a style which is geared towards good IQs, can the same be said for less developed countries? Or could it even be that IQ tests are designed with Western standards of intelligence in mind? Many of the greatest minds of recent times have manifested their intellect in ways that no test could measure.

Even within the same country, such as the UK, it’s very obvious that students of black origin are more often found living in poorer areas and attending less well-funded schools, while the private education sector is occupied mainly by the white middle classes, a problem which goes beyond their intellectual start in life. Any studies examining IQ by race must be stratified with the utmost care, and if necessary compensated for by context.

It could be, as Ruka seems to advocate, that the cause really is a genetic difference. Proponents of eugenics might therefore suggest that this needs to be eradicated .To this I would say that a global population devoid of stupidity is both impossible (there will always be people below the average) and impractical. The flipside as I see it is that if black races are genetically less intelligent, the burden is on the more intelligent races to help improve the education standards for those affected, be it in their own country or in the less developed world. It should certainly never be a barrier to multiculturalism or ethnic mixing. This is where my philosophy seems to separate entirely from Ruka’s.

It’s a shame that Ruka has refused to share her research, and that she seems to be bristling at any criticism. I hope that when I return with my findings on whether race and IQ are linked, that she takes a moment of objective open-mindedness to evaluate the evidence. Until then, if anyone reading this wishes to do their own research, standard scepticism has to be the order of the day. Studies that deal with this topic may have questionable motivations, but be prepared to go with whatever the best evidence shows and, most importantly, act on those findings with the greatest care.