Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mexican Intelligence: Gray Matter in a Brown Package. By Fred Reed

I spent three decades covering the military and have never seen a more insightful piece than this, in the New York Times of alll places, by Bradley Manning, on how the Pentagon controls the press. Well worth a read.

Latinos are now seventeen percent of the population, and the president is doing everything he can to increase that proportion. Will they assimiliate successfully? There are many reasons for suspecting that they will not, and others for suspecting that they will. A crucial sub-question is whether they are as intelligent as whites. Many quietly think not. Asking about racial intelligence is forbidden, which raises the quite reasonable thought, "Uh-huh, and we know why it is forbidden, don’t we?" You only forbid a question if you think you won't like the answer.
What is the evidence?
Those who suspect (or in many cases, hope) that Latinos are irremediably stupid point usually to two data sets. The first is the scores of Latinos on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP. These show Latinos to be ahead of blacks in reading and arithmetic, but below whites and, more damningly, that the gap does not decrease in the second and third generation. The second data set is the assertion that Mexicans have a mean IQ of 87, barely two points above blacks and close to the figure, 85, that was once regarded as indicating borderline retardation.
These are legitimate data, in the sense that they were derived by intelligent people trying to determine the facts. The thoughtful will not dismiss them. On the other hand, if data contradict each other, or are inconsistent with observation, one may wonder about them. Are they wonderable?
Before going further, a word on the question of IQ. On one hand, you have the politically correct, who simply repeat unendingly that intelligence doesn’t exist, and any way can’t be measured, and can’t be defined, and is biased, and anyway is a social construct, and so on. This is argument by unanimous unrelenting assertion. On the other hand, you have the vociferous Race Realists, as they call themselves. These began as (and still are) people with the intellectual honesty to look at racial issues—crime, education, illegitimacy, intelligence—that one must never talk about. Unfortunately, their position under the pressure of ideological warfare hardened and they ceased to be able to see the many inconsistencies and contradictions in their beliefs. That is another column. My point here is that their position is not nearly a clear as they make it seem.
My best take on the question: I live in central Mexico, just below Guadalajara. I cannot see that people here are any less intelligent that white Americans. But this raises the question: How great must a gap be to be noticeable? Is the alleged thirteen-point deficit too small to be visible? I tend to doubt it, but I don’t know.
Another tack: I reasoned that while I couldn’t judge the country as a whole, half of which is of the middle class (much of it, Americans would say, lower middle-class) and the other a peasantry, I could compare people in professions with which I am familiar: journalism, medicine, general administration (bank clerks, realtors, and such), dentistry, pilots, and computer techs.
I can’t see a difference. Newspaper columnists write in grammatical, complex, insightful Spanish, equal to writing in, say, the Washington Post. The radio station of the Universidad de Guadalajara is at least as sophisticated culturally as that of American University, which I listened to for years. Professionals in general seem no less bright than American.

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