The Measured Proficiency of Somali Americans

The discussion of the performance of African immigrants led by Chanda Chisala has been of unusually poor quality. As such, I thought that I might write a brief tutorial post on how to locate data and estimate differences in hopes that this will inspire better research practices and more rigorous debate. I will also elaborate on the Jensenist position and its predictions, as Chanda, and apparently many others, do not seem to have a good grasp of it at least in its quantified form.

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Heritability of Racial and Ethnic Pride, Preference, and Prejudice

A while back, in “People in the Future Will Not Look Like Brazilians”, Razib suggested that the great amalgamation will stall because those who are inclined to out mix will do so, taking with them their xenophilic dispositions. The suggestion prompted a commenter to question whether there was any evidence that preferences for (racial) endogamy had, as seemingly presumed by Razib’s argument, a non-trivial genetic component. Apparently, there has been very little genetically informed research on this or closely related topics. Nonetheless, I was able to locate eight studies based on five independent samples which provided heritability estimates for some measures of national, ethnic, or racial pride, preference, or prejudice. The study results are summarized in the table below.

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Asian American Subgroup SAT Performance

I originally intended on including and briefly discussing these values in my “Ethnic/Race Differences in Aptitude” paper since therein I touched upon differences in Asian American subgroup performance (e.g., Table 15 and Table 17). Alas, I ran out of both space and my reviewers’ patience. Since the general topic continues to arise, I thought I might mention them, though. The 1996 and 2000 National Postsecondary Student Aid Studies (NPSAS 1996/2000), which were representative of the university populations at the respective times, contained both an “Asian origin” variable and a composite SAT score one, thus allowing for some investigation of subgroup variability. In expressing the differences, I used citizen/U.S. born White values as a reference for the SAT scores. Standardized differences were computed using the total group standard deviations, since population specific ones were unavailable. NA means that the sample sizes did not meet NCESDataLab’s cutoff for reportability. And negative values mean that the groups in question performed better than U.S. born/citizen Whites. As the confidence intervals — not shown below — were large for all of the Asian subgroups, results should be interpreted with caution. It’s notable that there were large U.S. born/non-U.S. born effects for both East and South Asians. The scores were for college students, so this might represent a foreign student effect (as opposed to a generation 1/generation 2+ immigrant one).

NPSAS 1996 and 2000              
1996       2000      
Nationality non-Citizen Citizen All Nationality Not US Born US BORN All
Chinese 0.01 -0.66 -0.44 Chinese -0.28 -0.64 -0.46
Korean -0.38 -0.63 -0.54 Korean -0.12 -0.82 -0.37
Japanese NA NA -0.79 Japanese NA -0.20 -0.06
               
Filipino NA -0.17 -0.13 Filipino NA 0.03 0.12
Vietnamese 0.86 -0.18 0.31 Vietnamese 0.61 NA 0.39
               
Asian Indian 0.47 -0.96 -0.43 Asian Indian 0.22 -0.88 -0.24
               
               
Asian/PI (total) 0.29 -0.37 -0.19 Asian/PI (total) 0.10 -0.41 -0.12
               
White 0.08 Reference 0.00 White -0.03 Reference 0.03
               
Black 0.84 0.87 0.87 Black 0.74 1.00 0.96

Used the total group standard deviation
Source: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/npsas/

Using Surnames to Assess Ethnic Aptitude

Attempts to assess population aptitude from elite achievement go back to at least Galton. In Hereditary Genius, Galton used an estimate of the number of eminent persons produced by various ethnic and racial groups to quantify the differences between the means of these groups. Since his time, variants and refinements of this genre of analysis have become frequent. In “The Racial Origin of Successful Americans (1914)” Frederick Woods attempted to estimate ethnic achievement by counting and classifying the number of ethnic surnames in Marquis’ “Who’s Who” list. Lauren Ashe (1915) improved on the strategy by determining the representation of ethnic names in “Who’s Who” relative to that found in various U.S. city populations. In the 1960s, Nathaniel Weyl developed a variant of the “Who’s Who” surname method, one which relied on rare surnames, and in the 1980s he applied the method to National Merit Scholarship (NMS) lists (1), which record those high school seniors who obtained the top scores on College Board’s Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

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IQ and Personality: What James Heckman Got Wrong

A few years ago James Heckman, together with some other economists, published a study arguing that “achievement tests” and “IQ tests” are different beasts: the former, they claim, are better predictors of criterion outcomes (such as grade point averages) and are more strongly influenced by personality differences than the latter. Like most of Heckman’s forays into psychometrics — he has been obsessed with trying to shoot down Bell Curve -type arguments ever since the book was released — the study leaves much to be desired. David Salkever has published a nifty reanalysis of Heckman and colleagues’ study, showing that their results stem from faulty imputation and a failure to take into account age effects. Continue reading

Alice Brues on Race

A reader asked if I might refer him to a cogent, while pithy, elaboration of the natural historian’s concept of race, an exposition which he might cite in future discussions. One of the most lucid articulations which I have encountered can be found in physical anthropologist Alice Brues’ (1913 –2007) book “People and Races” (1977/1990). Brues studied under Earnest Hooton, whose own concept of race was remarkably well articulated and coherent. In undergrad, she majored in philosophy (and psychology), a fact which might help account for the unusual lucidity of her discussion. In the seven pages of her first chapter, she says most of what needs to be said. And in the remaining chapters she makes the other necessary points. The first chapter is copied below both in PDF form and text. The discussion can be summarized as follows (with my notes added and paragraphs numbered). Continue reading

Socioeconomic Status and Heritability of IQ Redux

There’s a long-standing debate about if and how parental socioeconomic status moderates the heritability of IQ. Research has often but not always found that heritability is lower in low-SES families. See Turkheimer and Horn’s excellent review for details (although some of Turkheimer’s own research on this is less than convincing).

Robert Kirkpatrick and colleagues have conducted what may be the best study on the question so far. They use a big Minnesota sample, comprising about about 2500 pairs of adolescent twins, non-twin biological siblings, and adoptive siblings, and investigate if SES moderates either genetic or environmental determinants of IQ. Continue reading

Bias in Measures of Implicit Racial Bias

It is claimed that implicit association tests, or IATs, reveal unconscious biases against racial and ethnic minorities and other stigmatized groups. The tests are simple and their results appear to be straightforward to interpret: if you are quicker to associate positive words (or other positive stimuli) with the non-stigmatized group (e.g., whites) and quicker to associate negative words with the stigmatized group (e.g., blacks), you have an implicit preference for the former and against the latter. Moreover, it has been shown that IAT scores are (modestly) related to arguably discriminatory behaviors. Given that the IAT scores of most people suggest that they are biased against stigmatized groups, it has been claimed that implicit biases explain discriminatory behaviors in the real world.

Hart Blanton, a long-term critic of various theoretical and methodological absurdities in the IAT paradigm, has written, with some colleagues, a paper challenging a key assumption of the IAT. Re-analyzing several published implicit bias studies, they found that the standard IAT scoring procedure will typically label as implicitly biased people whose observed behavior is neutral and unbiased. IAT researchers assume that individuals who associate positive and negative IAT stimuli with different groups with equal ease are unbiased, but the research by Blanton et al. suggests that such individuals tend to be biased in favor of the stigmatized group. In other words, the zero point of the IAT scale is not associated with behavioral neutrality.

The results of Blanton et al. are pretty straightforward, but not necessarily easy to understand, so I’ll try to clarify them a bit. Continue reading