Thomas Sowell, Endogenous Genetic Group Differences, and more Genetic Essentialism

Sowell has been a longtime critic of the liberal perspective. He recognizes that different groups, however defined, achieve differently and that it’s foolish to try to force everyone onto the same scale. When it comes to Group differences he typically focuses on exogenous environmental differences and endogenous culture, organizational, historic, and strategic differences. He eschews both exogenous (racial oppression) and endogenous (genetic difference) ethnoracial explanations for group differences. Given this, it was interesting to see that he recently made the case for a genetic basis to group IQ differences:

If by “fair” you mean everyone having the same odds for achieving success, then life has never been anywhere close to being fair, anywhere or at any time. If you stop and think about it (however old-fashioned that may seem), it is hard even to conceive of how life could possibly be fair in that sense.

Even within the same family, among children born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, the first-borns on average have higher IQs than their brothers and sisters, and usually achieve more in life.

Unfairness is often blamed on somebody, even if only on “society.” But whose fault is it if you were not the first born? Since some groups have more children than others, a higher percentage of the next generation will be first-borns in groups that have smaller families, so such groups have an advantage over other groups.

But, like so many others, he falls for all the tiresome fallacies than makes talking about average group differences so hoary.

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