Why Race Matters
by Michael Levin

The differences in IQ and time preferences between blacks, whites, and Asians are mostly genetic and hereditary rather than cultural or environmental. Consequently, white Americans are not responsible for the failure of black Americans, and we do not owe them any compensation. Furthermore, it is rational to discriminate against blacks in some circumstances. For example, it is rational to be more wary of a group of black teenage boys than a group of Jewish accountants.

He proposes some controversial government measures to deal with racial differences. It strikes me that the race problem is like the sex problem--there is no solution. Race differences and sex differences will not go away. We must learn to accept the differences, stop whining, stop feeling guilty, and try to live in peace without recriminations.

The book contains technical proofs written in mathematical symbols that I simply skipped. It also contains long rebuttals to arguments such as compensation of blacks that don't deserve such serious attention. The book was not proofread very well. It contains many typos and grammatical errors. On the other hand, it also contains some succinct arguments that are brilliant.

Race Differences

Asian brains are larger on average than white brains, and white brains are larger than black brains. (104)

All around the world, the mean IQ of Asians is higher than whites, and the mean IQ of whites is higher than blacks.

Although the mean IQ of Asians is higher than whites, the Asian variance from the mean may be smaller. This could indicate that there are fewer Asian geniuses than white geniuses, which could explain why white societies have produced most of the scientific breakthroughs.

Although the Japanese have not contributed to the development of science, they have become a world leader in technology since encountering science in the nineteenth century.

No black society has developed science, mathematics, a calendar, or even the wheel.

"The absence of science and mathematics in Negroid cultures indicates not only the presence of fewer geniuses, but also of fewer non-geniuses able to preserve and amplify innovations." (120)

"Like Africa, Haiti has been unable to sustain Caucasoid technology." (121)

"with the exception of South Africa, until recently run by whites, majority black countries are the poorest and most crime-ridden in the world." (134)

In Britain, although blacks comprised 10% of the population in 1983, none had passed any A-level examination. (121)

Compared to blacks, whites and Asians have higher intelligence, more regular feeding habits, pair bonding, cooperation, complex social structure, and greater life expectancy. (137)

Black infant mortality remains twice that of whites even when social factors are controlled for. (137)

"An accelerated life cycle is suggested by the greater maturity of black babies when gestation period is controlled for, their greater development precocity, and the constancy of the race difference in life expectancy during the twentieth century." (137)
Blacks have a stronger reproductive drive as measured by illegitimacy, age of menarche, age of first intercourse, age of first pregnancy, frequency of intercourse, and marital instability. (137)
"race differences in jumping and running are present by age five or six" (115)

"the median 'homeless person' is a single black male" (4)

"Africans display the pattern of loose pair bonding and limited parental involvement found in American slums" (119)

Blacks are more impulsive and aggressive. Young black males hold less aggressive whites in contempt.
"One reason an unmarried 17-year-old black mother whose IQ is 80 does not worry about the ethics of welfare is that she cannot comprehend where her welfare check comes from or the workings of the political system that provides it." (218)

"blacks commit violent crimes at many times the rate whites do, and while half of all black crimes victimize whites, less than 3% of white crimes victimize blacks." (5)

"the black crime rate is roughly ten times the white" (313)

"black self-esteem is higher than that of whites" (313)

In 1992, the overall American murder rate was 9.3 per 100,000. In France it was 4.5, in Germany 3.9, in Austria 2.3. The murder rate by blacks in America was 44.9. The murder rate by whites in America was 4.78, which is much closer to the European murder rate and little more than one tenth of the black murder rate.
"Every Swiss male citizen owns a gun, yet the annual adult homicide rate in Switzerland is 3.2 per 100,000." (179)

"Blacks are evidently more drawn to guns and readier to use them, especially in disputes whites would find trivial." (179)

"Contrary to environmentalist predictions, intervention beginning at age three makes no difference to the intellectual development of blacks. Perhaps surprisingly, intervention for whites does, indicating a possible nonsocial race difference in receptiveness to stimulation." (112)

The cause of the present-orientedness and lack of intellectual curiosity of blacks in Africa may be assumed to be the same as the cause of comparable traits found in American blacks. (117)

Heredity versus Environment

"white as well as black IQ increases with latitude" Northern urban blacks have higher IQs than southern blacks." (135) But northern whites retain the same 15-point IQ advantage over northern blacks that southern whites have over southern blacks.

On IQ tests scaled for an average white IQ of 100 and a standard deviation (SD) from the average of 15 points, the mean black IQ is 85 and the standard deviation is slightly less than 15, and the mean Japanese IQ is 105 with a standard deviation of only 2 points. So most whites have IQs between 85 and 115, most blacks have IQs between 70 and 100, and most Japanese have IQs between 103 and 107.

"Speculation has long focused on the different pressures exerted by the African and Eurasian climates. Survival in the colder climates of Europe and Northern Asia requires technologies unnecessary in Africa: clothing has to be fabricated, fires sustained, food hunted and stored. These constraints favored the ability to plan, in turn entailing ingenuity and low time preferences. Planning is less adaptive in warmer climates where food is easier to get and spoils when stored."

"Some African problems may be due to socialism instituted after decolonization. Jews have very high IQs, but the quasi-socialist Israeli economy is in shambles. The former Soviet empire and China have talented populations, but the Eastern Bloc was near collapse when it abandoned Communism, and China remains poor. At the same time, a free market only flourishes under democracy, and the inability of Africans to sustain democracy, perhaps connected to a strong individual dominance drive, may make command economies inevitable in nations with black populations." (140)

"The gap in attainment between blacks and whites in Africa is wider than the American racial gap, yet blacks were not enslaved in Africa and colonialism, which began in the 19th century, ended after World War II." (257)

"the attitudes of American blacks toward time and the support of offspring resemble those reported in Africa and the Caribbean, so are unlikely to be caused by uniquely American factors." (271)

"Black crime rates in other countries, including all-black countries, are comparable to those in the United States." (312)

"Since no African society ever developed a written language, forbidding slaves to learn to read probably did not stifle a development that would have otherwise taken place." (278)

"Whites have invested more resources in the education of blacks than blacks could have done themselves." (279)

"White flight 'takes' jobs in the sense that tasks characteristic of whites cease being performed in the absence of whites. There is no reason to expect these tasks to be performed, in light of the differences between black abilities, preferences, and levels of persistence and those of the group that created them. When colonial whites left Africa, the roads they built began to disintegrate in the absence of engineers to maintain them. Detroit fell into similar disrepair when whites left." (152)

The environmentalists explain low black IQs by declaring IQ to be a measure of white middle-class values, but this argument fails to explain why other groups who come from non-white, non-middle-class cultures outscore blacks and equal or surpass whites. "It is hard to argue that the Eskimo way of life more resembles that of the white middle class than does the way of life of American blacks." (67)

The black-white difference in IQ begins to show up before the third year of life and remains more or less constant through the adult life span. "Environmentalists must posit a factor that affects all black and white children between birth and the third year." (103)

"the earlier in life differentiating environmental factors enter, the less likely they are to be the fault of whites. Low teacher expectation cannot quash the intelligence of blacks before they reach school." (104)

"Since the IQs of contemporary African blacks are about 2 SD below those of contemporary whites (with American blacks intermediate), the phenomenon of low black IQ, in Africa or the United States, is unlikely to be due to an oppressive environment." (118)

American Indians have even lower living standards than American blacks, yet the Indians' IQs are comparable to white Americans and much higher than blacks. (132)

Effects of Denial

"There is a tendency in discussions of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and illegitimacy to insist that teenage girls are going to have sex, and talk of abstinence is foolish, intolerant, and repressiveŁa puzzling tendency, given that no previous Caucasoid society accorded teenage girls sexual liberty, or failed to condemn illegitimacy. I suspect that a major contributor to this sea-change has been fear of offending blacks, whose behavior often violates white sexual norms. In fact, mentioning the greater casualness of black sex invites retaliatory diagnoses of prurience and sexual problems" (6)

"because of their lower mean intelligence and greater impulsiveness, blacks are less autonomous then whites." (10)

"The upshot is scolding and lecturing, as the Left scolds whites for 'racism' of which they may be innocent, the Right ... lectures everyone about a work ethic blacks may be unable to follow, and the Left scolds the Right right back for 'blaming the victim.'" (13)

"Ironically, denial of the reality of race often prefaces a denunciation of race bias, with little explanation given of how people can respond to a trait that no one possesses and no one understands. It should be obvious as well that repudiating race forbids advocacy of racial preferences, although few critics of the race concept have faulted affirmative action on this account. Whatever they may say, the parties to such disputes assume that the notion of race is reasonably clear." (19)

"Usually a black personality style is simultaneously denied and attributed to oppression." (103)

"Blacks today enjoy civil rights, legal privileges under affirmative action, and full access to a system of public schools supported primarily by whites. Black-on-white homicides, which are relatively common, are seldom publicized, while white attacks on blacks are treated as national scandals." (182)

"Black success at inducing whites to divert resources from their own children to the children of unrelated blacks is successful exploitation of the environment rarely matched in nature." (188)

"Hacker suggests that blacks would be happier being educated away from whites, although he would surely denounce the idea that white children would be happier away from blacks who cannot speak grammatically, sit still, or keep to the point." (193)

"As everyone knows but has become reluctant to say, the world as a whole would hardly have noticed had sub-Saharan Africa not existed or never been contacted by Europeans and Asians. No important discovery, invention, or world leader emerged from Africa. The art, music, literature, and political history of Eurasia owe virtually nothing to Africans." (194)

"Few blacks have achieved eminence in areas other than sports, entertainment, the demand for rights, or writing about race itself." (195)

"biology may forbid what 'social justice' demands." (231)

"The demographic defense of affirmative action is like arguing that when current oil wells begin to be exhausted, we should search more intensely where oil is unlikely to be found, and sink fewer new wells in the diminishing regions where it is likely to be more plentiful." (285)

"The 'failure' of public schools--falling test scores, illiterate graduates, attacks on teachers, chaotic classrooms, physical decline--has only become a matter of great concern since the start of integration (and has occurred as expenditures have risen). (351)


"Hatred implies a desire to destroy, yet, just as it is possible to sneer at pro wrestling fans or readers of supermarket tabloids without hating them, it is possible to dislike black music without wanting it banned, or dislike the black personal style and wish to avoid blacks altogether without wanting to see blacks suffer. One may avoid black neighborhoods for fear of crime while sympathizing with black victims of black criminals. None of these feelings are 'racist' if racism implies hatred--yet anyone who confesses distaste for black music or admits wishing to minimize contact with blacks will surely be branded 'racist.'" (156)

"The elasticity of 'racism' permits denunciation of virtually anything, including whites doing on Tuesday what was demanded of them on Monday." (157)

"The truth is that, until recently, most whites gave blacks relatively little thought, and would not have cared enough about blacks one way or the other to invest energy in obscuring their achievements. Blacks simply have not mattered as much to the white world as Afrocentrists implicitly claim they did--and perhaps wish they did, for having powerful enemies is considerably more flattering than being ignored. The limited interest in blacks shown by conventional historians is best explained by the belief that further interest was unwarranted." (195)

"Running through the entire 'stolen heritage' thesis is the idea that knowledge is a tangible good that, akin to a stolen car, can be lost to its original possessor. Knowledge is not like that. After Marco Polo 'stole' the preparation of noodles from the court of Kubla Khan, the Chinese remained able to make noodles. The secret spread. Afrocentrists speak of a 'raid into Africa' in Aristotle's time to steal African science, but ignorance of the Pythagorean Theorem on the part of modern Africans cannot be explained by the Greeks having made off with it. The currency among blacks of the 'stolen heritage' doctrine, with its curious conception of knowledge, is perhaps more evidence of race differences in cognitive functioning." (195)

"Controlling for intelligence explains all the discrepancy and more between the black/white ratio in the general population and in a wide assortment of occupations." (265)

"... a black is over 1.5 times more likely than a white with the same IQ to be employed in the professions, a technical occupation, or a clerical job" (266)

"Ability and representation apparently intersected some time after World War II but before the start of affirmative action, by which time the effects of slavery and discrimination had been attenuated to nonexistence." (266)

"the average black is about 25 times more likely to have victimized a white than the average white is to have victimized a black." (294)

"Proportionately, blacks killed 22 times as many whites as white did blacks [in 1992]." (294)

Eighty to ninety percent of all interracial crime is black-on-white. (295)
"Expressions of statistical intuitions, like stereotypes, must be interpreted charitably. ... When (some) people say 'You can't trust blacks,' they probably mean, not that most or all blacks are criminals, but that blacks are likely enough to be criminals to warrant extra suspicion." (298)

"Criminals have difficulty conceptualizing remote consequences for themselves and the way their actions look to their victims" (316)

"the mean IQ of the prison population is in the low 90s, with violent offenders lower. ... most of the difference in rates of black and white juvenile crime disappear when IQ is held constant." (316)

"Sensible people know there are revealing characteristics beside race. However, the irrationality of attending to race to the exclusion of all else does not make it irrational to take race into account." (344)

Moral Philosophy

"Most people who obey the law do so ... from habit. ... this habit is rooted in empathy ... a tendency to see other people as centers of experience like oneself, rather than as obstacles or resources." (317)

"Since a rule, having no life of its own, exists only when people follow it, the functions of a rule are those effects of adhering to it that ensure a steady supply of new adherents. Rules that endure do so, therefore, because heeding them, training one's offspring to heed them, and encouraging one's cohort to heed them enhance the fitness of cohort members. ...

However, while a functional account explains why rules persist once they start being followed, it does not explain the origin of rules, how they come to be followed in the first place. Finishing the story evidently requires appeal to biology." (167)

"if everyone is rational, no one initiates cooperation, and, paradoxically, everyone ends up worse off than he and everyone else could be and see they could be ...

On the present sociobiological account, evolution cut the Gordian knot by blindly bringing forth enough mutant cooperators to make cooperation rational. The theory does not show that initiating cooperation is rational--nothing can do that--but it does show how cooperation can arise despite being irrational. What is worrisome is that the irrationality of cooperating seems to leave cooperation in danger of breaking down the moment people come to their senses. Sociobiology tells us to stop worrying. We can't help being reciprocators--or, more precisely, we are so strongly disposed to reciprocate benefits that we can be depended upon to do so even when game-theoretical reason counsels otherwise." (169)
"That morality is under genetic control, and therefore probably related to fitness, is shown by the universality and irreversibility of the sequencing of moral development in children" (168)

"For millennia, the sad fact that injustice sometimes pays has sent moralists searching for self-interested reasons for being just--a foredoomed search, since there is no way to show that justice pays when it does not. Again we find able thinkers trying to square the circle because of apprehension, this time that, once word gets out that injustice sometimes pays, people will cease being just. And again, while evolution cannot do the impossible--show that justice always pays--it makes the impossible unnecessary. ...Those prone to take opportunities when they saw 'em were selected out, leaving a filtrate strongly disposed to behave justly even when there are short-term gains in cheating. We have evolved a tendency to treat everyone, strangers included, as if we might meet them tomorrow, a tendency that withstands intellectual awareness that there is little chance of doing so." (170)

Sociobiologists are guilty of stressing the role of genes in explaining human morality to the exclusion of the other factors in the chain of events. They confuse intermediate causes with epiphenomena. They overlook the fact that: "The causation of behavior by genes does not mean behavior would occur absent preferences. ... You can't have genes without desires; once you have the genes you have the behavior because you have the behaviour-producing desires. Conative drives are how genes bring behavior about. They [desires] are not epiphenomena, but necessary intermediate mechanisms." (172)
"An innate tendency to follow a norm can be expected to correlate with an innate tendency to train the young to follow it, and an innate tendency in the young to respond positively to the training, for all these tendencies are apt to be adaptive when any one of them is." (175)

"... socialization to codes of conduct has emerged in every human society without intervention of any outside agency." (175)

The question "What would purely self-interested men be like?" is nonsensical. "As the development of socializing mechanisms is part of man's nature, ... there is nothing unsocialized men would be like." (176)

It is not psychologically possible for us to avoid believing that moral behavior is better than immoral behavior. We cannot step outside ourselves and evaluate these different behaviors objectively.

"Morality feels absolute. Parents tell children to be honest, not to maximize honesty. Praise, blame, and culpability are allotted as if what counts is adherence to deontological rules." (210)

"Because promulgation of teleological rules produces ... less adaptive behavior than promulgation of absolute rules, absolute morality has been selected for." (211)

"Apparently, morality is absolutist in everyday circumstances, teleological in emergencies, and in each context blind to the other alternative. This blindness itself is probably adaptive: rules couldn't do their everyday job of maximizing adaptive behavior if people thought of them as less than absolute, yet it would also be maladaptive to cling to rules on those rare occasions when doing so would be catastrophic. We are of two minds, and there the matter ends." (211)

"a self-determining will is inherently obscure. It invites but cannot answer the question of what makes such a will determine itself to choose one way rather than another. Not external factors, for then the will is not self-determining. Not nothing, for a will acting by chance is not self-determining. Not a prior act of the will to choose its choice, for that launches an infinite regress. These alternatives exhausted, a self-determining will is impossible, and should such a will be necessary for desert, no one deserves anything at all." (281)

"we can do as we please but not please as we please." (320)

Year Read: 1999

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