The Complete Failure of HBD

Here is the 4 year update to Inductivist’s: There is no Silent but Sensible HBD Majority :

Survey participants were asked: On the average (negroes/blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are: a. Mainly due to discrimination? b. Because most (negroes/blacks/African-Americans) have less in-born ability to learn?…

Note: I limited the sample to Whites, the enforcers of the PC norms.



Decomposing the 2012 results by Wordsum score (M=6.23, SD=2.06), we have:



So amongst the cognitive elite there is an almost complete rejection of HBD.

Incredible is the percent who still persist in believing in the discrimination model. Though, it’s not clear what percent believe in “contemporaneous discrimination” (as opposed to “the legacy of historic discrimination”.) As it is, there is substantial overlap in the belief that outcome differences are due to educational differences (RACDIF3) and are due to discrimination (RACDIF1):


But the education explanation is almost as ludicrous as is the contemporaneous discrimination explanation.

To note, in one of the survey years — 1993 — people were asked if having better genes mattered with regards to outcomes —

Question: I’m going to read some statements that give reasons why a person’s life turns out well or poorly. As I read each one, tell me whether you think it is very important, important, somewhat important, or not at all important for how somebody’s life turns out? b. Some people are born with better genes than others.

In that year, people who were more familiar with the behavioral genetic literature were more likely to ascribe to race realism.


One would think that the triumph of behavior genetics as an explanatory paradigm would have led to an increased acceptance of — or at least agnosticism about — race realism. But instead it has coincided with an increased ant-realism about race. I don’t think that there is much of a paradox here, though. Behavioral geneticists have been bending over backwards to make their findings compatible with the ruling ideology. Neven Sesardic noted this, writing:

This strong and generally felt pressure to de-emphasize some implications of heritability is the best explanation why certain authors who are at the very core of research in behavior genetics tend nevertheless to make dubiously consistent claims when addressing this topic. For instance, Robert Plomin has been criticized by Susan Oyama for the following incoherence:

Plomin states that genetic influence is not deterministic and “puts no contraints [
sic] on what could be.” Then he approvingly cites some colleagues’ complaint that environmentalism has fed unrealistic expectations about malleability . . . It is hard to have it both ways, to argue that “genetic influence” places no constraints and that it precludes some outcomes. Before making sweeping statements about constraints, people should be clear about what they mean. (Oyama 1988a: 98)

Oyama thinks that Plomin’s apparent inconsistency is the outcome of a half-baked and poorly thought out theoretical position. I would suggest an alternative explanation, mainly because it seems to me that the issues are here too simple for an authority of Plomin’s caliber to be conceptually confused about. What must have happened, in my opinion, is that Plomin was just torn between two conflicting goals. On one hand, he wanted to acknowledge the important point that substantive heritability is indeed incompatible with unlimited malleability, and hence he had to state that heritability does decrease local modifiability. On the other hand, I presume he also tried to appease possible critics and avoid usual denunciations by striking a “positive” note, be it even by resorting to empty and misleading rhetoric, and finding it necessary to publicly subscribe to the totally trivial thesis of “modifiability in principle.” In fact, it is not the only occasion where Plomin has tried to enhance the public standing of behavior genetics by making dubious but possibly expedient statements, against his better judgment. In an attempt to convince psychiatrists about the usefulness of behavior genetics, Rutter and Plomin (1997: 210) severely criticize Jensen (1969b) for making two elementary mistakes about heritability: (a) the identification of heritability with ineffectiveness of environmental interventions and (b) the fallacious jump from within-group heritability to between-group heritability… (Making Sense of Heritability, 177.)

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10 Responses to The Complete Failure of HBD

  1. Kiwiguy says:

    I wonder what percent of those respondents believe in evolution? Do they consider group disparities in athletics are due to discrimination? Psychologically it’s interesting to understand how people develop and maintain beliefs that are clearly false. It must come back in part to the idea of sacredness that Jonathan Haidt talks about?

    Plomin provided a positive blurb on the dust jacket to Frank Miele’s book with Jensen and is a signatory to the mainstream science on intelligence statement. I suspect Sesardic’s explanation is correct.

    • Chuck says:

      Evolution: About 70%. ” Psychologically it’s interesting to understand…” Ya, this is what makes HBD so fascinating. If HBD is largely false than this just means that a fringe group of people had the wrong idea — probably because they were marginalized and weren’t able to follow the research. On the other hand, if HBD is largely true then the massive opposition to it and denial of it says something very interesting and important about people and society. From a cultural anthropological perspective, I guess the epistemic status of the position shouldn’t matter — but it does. Denial of HBD makes a lot more logical sense if HBD is clearly false.

  2. Kiwiguy says:

    Although I noticed this in the comments. In which case I doubt those results accurately reflect true opinions. You need to privately poll people as they did with the Snyderman/Rothman survey (actually a similar survey of researchers today would be interesting).

    “Ron Guhname said…

    JL: Yes, respondents are typically interviewed in their homes. I bet support for HBD is underreported. We just don’t know how much. If I can find a more anonymous methodology, I’ll post the results”

  3. BlackestBlackMan says:

    So wait is chuck a race realist? Or not?

    I just want to make sure.

    Is it race realism for US but not Globally?

  4. JayMan says:

    Also see:

    Serenity | JayMan’s Blog

    Excellent point about behavioral geneticists trying to have it both ways. See Greg Cochran:

    Undecidable Propositions | West Hunter

  5. nikcrit says:

    “Do they consider group disparities in athletics are due to discrimination?”

    I’ve heard this rejoinder a lot. My reflex compels me to say that it’s much, much harder to indisputably quantify ‘intelligence’ than it is to quantify athletic achievement and ability and, therefore, performance, no?

    • Kiwiguy says:

      I agree. Although people in everyday life don’t seem to have that much trouble noticing if someone is brainy or smart, or has good social skills, but not that academic etc People seem to have a reasonable handle on these things. And they notice there may be more or less from different groups in those categories. For example, in NZ you don’t need to know anything about psychometrics to notice that asians tend to have an aptitude for academic work and polynesians tend to dominate contact sports like rugby & rugby league.

      Actually in saying that, I remember a woman at my work tried to explain that the polynesian dominance was due to growing up in rough suburbs and that being the only way out. I forwarded her an article by Jon Entine showing they actually have a more mesomorphic build making them well suited to sports requiring explosive power and speed. She said I had too much time on my hands 🙂

  6. Jason Malloy says:

    Kiwiguy, can you shoot me an email? jmalloy at nyc.

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