The Aptitude of Jews and Gentiles at Selective Universities in the US

(and Some Other Stuff)

I had noted previously that there is diminishing interest in classic HBD topics, such as race and IQ. And I pointed out elsewhere that virtually no one in the US with an IQ above the 85th percentile currently takes the hereditarian position on race and IQ seriously, at least as judged by the General Social Survey 2012 responses. So, perhaps, the views of HBD proponents are finally coming in line with those of the vast majority of the US population. Indeed, one of the leading minds in this field has recently stated:

Like many of us who are fascinated with human diversity, she has little or no interest in what are called race differences…. No one it seems cares much about that any longer. (Harpending, H. (April 14, 2013). West Hunter).

This increasing disinterest might explain why my colleague’s recent eloquent defense of general intelligence netted 53 comments while my post on my exhaustive analysis of color and IQ amongst siblings of different races, a topic hitherto never explored, netted precisely 0. There are other possible reasons for this, of course. Whatever the case, the nexus between race and IQ doesn’t seem to be as popular of a topic as it once was so it seems that I will do less unwell if I shift my focus elsewhere.

One race unrelated issue worth further exploring is that of Jews, meritocracy, and elite admissions. Ron Unz has fairly recently made a splash with his Meritocracy article, an article in which he argued that Jews were disproportionately overrepresented in elite schools relative to their aptitude. I have commented before on some of Ron’s questionable estimations, but I haven’t had a chance to wrestle with this one, my current constitution being what it is. For readers who are unaware of the issue, Ron marshaled a large amount of evidence demonstrating that Jews were overrepresented in elite universities and that Jewish academic ability has plummeted over the last several decades. Based on these two points, he inferred — and not unreasonably so — that Jews were over represented in elite scores relative to their aptitude. From this, Ron deduced that there was a sort of pro-Jewish discrimination. But as one of Ron’s more perceptive critics has pointed out, to truly test the Jewish bias hypothesis one needs to compare the scores of Jews at elite universities to those of non-Jews. (The same holds for testing anti-Asian bias hypotheses). Ron’s model logically predicts that Jews at these universities will be sub par, in aptitude, compared to comparable gentiles. Simply: if group A is disproportionately selected, conditioned on aptitude, relative to group B, selected members of group A will have a lower aptitude than selected members of group B. This basic phenomenon can be seen at work in regards to racial and ethnic groups in the US. For example, Blacks attending (and graduating) from medical school are greatly inferior to Whites in mental ability. This is an inevitable product of the federally mandated discrimination for Blacks, given the mean differences in the population at large and the basic principle concerning selectivity and selectees noted above.

Now, if Ron’s thesis is correct, we should find a similar pattern for Jews, as with other discriminated for groups, in elite schools. I have been unable to find an ideal sample in which to test this thesis, but I was able to locate an acceptable one, the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen. This survey is described thusly:

The National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF) follows a cohort of first-time freshman at selective colleges and universities through their college careers. Equal numbers of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians were sampled at each of the 28 participating schools. Among other uses, the data has been collected with the testing of several competing theories of minority underperformance in college in mind.

It is a survey of attendees at selective universities. It will be noted from the start that the scores soon to be discussed are based on self reported SAT and ACT scores. As I said, this sample is not ideal — just acceptable. That said, a large body of research shows that self-reported scores correlate reasonably well — at about 0.8 –with verified scores. See, for example, Kuncel et al. (2005):

(From: Kuncel, et al. (2005). The validity of self-reported grade point averages, class ranks, and test scores: A meta-analysis and review of the literature.)

Now, a note on method: I simply compared the self-reported aptitude scores of self reported Jews and Gentiles and also of self reported White Jews and White Gentiles. I also decomposed Jews in to two groups — those who reported only Jewish family background and those who reported Jewish plus some other family background (e.g., Catholic). For scores, I scaled SAT scores on ACT scores using an ACT conversion chart and then created a composite SAT+ACT score. I also presented ACT and SAT scores. Official ACT scores range from 1 to 36. As such, reported 0s were recoded as 1. SAT M+V scores range from 400-800. As such reported scores below 400 were recoded as 400.

The results are below:

NLSF Analysis1

Generally, as expected, Jews were over represented in this sample. Jews made up 6.3% of the total sample and White Jews made up 18.1% of the White sample. In comparison, in the US at large Jews constitute about 2.2% of the population and self identifying White Jews constitute no more than 4% of the non Hispanic White population. Since this sample was not representative with regards to race — rather roughly equal, not representative, sample sizes of different racial ethnic groups were selected — the overall percentages are not very meaningful. What is meaningful, though, is the percentage of White Jews relative to White Gentiles, assuming, of course, that there was no positive survey selection bias for White Jews relative to White gentiles. And I have not been able to find any indication that there was.

Despite their vast over-representation, Jews did not have lower aptitude scores compared to comparable populations as Ron’s model would have predicted. The self-reported aptitude of Jews was 0.49 SD higher than that of Gentiles in general and the self-reported aptitude of White Jews was 0.39 SD higher than that of White Gentiles. It is possible that these results are biased, given the self reported nature of the aptitude measure. Perhaps not only is there entrance selection bias for Jews, controlling for aptitude, but perhaps there is also Jewish self estimation bias. University admitted Jews might be less apt as predicted by Ron’s model but might report being more apt. Since all the measures in the NLSF are self reported, this issue can not be resolved based on the results in this survey. That said, academic achievement measures (not reported) show a similar pattern. So, if Jews are biased in their self reporting, they are consistently so. This, of course, is possible. On this point, readers are referred to Kevin MacDonald’s extensive research on Jewish group-over estimation and self deception. I would suggest, though, that in light of these results the issue needs to be further explored. To do this further, measures of the aptitude of Jews at select universities are needed. Generally, though, the NLSF results do not support Ron’s pro-Jewish discrimination hypothesis — Perhaps it will turn out that other surveys don’t likewise.

In case that some readers are curious, one can compare the Jews-Gentile score differences to the White-Black score differences found in the same study:


Readers can refer to the excel file attached below for a more complete decomposition of scores. What they will find is that Black and Hispanic individuals tend to have significantly lower reported scores than White and Asian individuals — as we would expect given the extensive selection discrimination for the former two groups and the basic basic principle concerning selectivity and selectees noted above.

Now, while doing this analyses I also happened to look at the correlation between self reported aptitude and skin color by race and by nativity for US born individuals. The results are summarized below:

NLSF Analysis2

In this sample, color and aptitude were unassociated for Whites and Asians. Predictably — by my assortative exogamy + ancestral genetic model — they were associated for Blacks and Hispanics, though not consistently so across immigrant generations. Specifically, US born Blacks who had two reported foreign born biological parents showed no correlation between aptitude and color. And US born Hispanic who had one reported foreign born biological parent and one reported US biological born parent likewise showed no correlation. The lack of correlation for the US born offspring of foreign born Blacks is consistent with my model insofar as many of these individuals do not descend from exogamous parings or have substantial ancestral genetic admixture. They most likely are less admixed as attested by the higher color ratings — though, I have, as yet, been unable to verify this as the NLSF staff has not been very forthcoming with the needed variables. (Of course, I have run into this general problem before; it seems to occur when I clearly articulate the scientific paradigm which I am working under.) Similarly, the GSS shows that there is no correlation between wordsum and color for first generation Blacks — though this sample is very small. These results are shown below:


The positive correlation coefficient indicates that darker tone is (non significantly) positively correlating with Wordsum scores. In contrast, results for native born Black persons can be seen here.

My proposed explanation could be best tested by looked at the correlation between color and backwards digit span (BDS) — a relatively culturally fair tests which simply involves counting backwards and is non-trivially correlated with g — in the National Immigrant Survey. I would predict that there would be little correlation between color and cognitive ability amongst first generation Black immigrants (assuming a non trivial number came from regions in which there was little admixture). As it is, I have shown that BDS correlates with color in the native born African American population, so there is no a priori reason why it couldn’t so correlate in the foreign born Black population. And I would also predict that there would be a negative correlation between lightness of color and IQ amongst first generation Hispanic immigrants, since virtually all Hispanics descend from generations of exogamous parings. That said, with regards to the Hispanics in the NLSF sample, I am unable to account for the anomalous zero correlation between color and aptitude for US born individuals with just one foreign born parent. It might be worth checking to see if the same pattern can be found in the GSS, Add Health, and NLSY samples.

Also consistent with my general model was the finding that native Blacks at selective colleges are lighter than typical (1). This is what one would expect if schools discriminated for more intelligent individuals and if intelligence correlated with lightness in the applicant population, barring some type of counter discrimination aimed at reducing “adverse impact” resulting from cognitive discrimination. Again, this follows from the basic principle concerning selectivity and selectees discussed above.

Overall these results are consistent with my overall theoretical position and the results from NLSY ’97, Add Health ’94-’08, and GSS ’12.

Now I, a simple HBD scribber, take the more general lesson from this analysis on Jews and Gentiles and Color Groups to be that outcome difference simply can not and should not be taken at face value as evidence of bias or discrimination. But I have come to believe that that when it comes these topics, nothing is learnable. Especially by the intellectual class.

Excel file here.

(1)I discussed this elsewhere. I noted:

I compared The NLSF (native) Black sample and the ADDHealth Black national sample in terms of scores and two indices of admixture. To save myself some effort, I used Massey et al. (2007) as a reference for the NLSF data.

1. Nationally, Blacks (born of native parents) score about 850 on V+M SATs (SD= about 200). In the NLSF study, they scored, on average, 1193 circa 1998. So they were, in this sample, maybe 1.75 SD above the population mean. Being 1.75 SD above the national mean, we would expect the NLSF cohort to be at least 1.75 SD x 0.15 above the color mean if the IQ color correlation is around 0.15.

In the ADD health data, the mean color score was 2.34 (SD = 1.06) on a 1-5 scale running from black to white. In the NLSF, the mean score was 4.79 on a 0-10 scale running from white to black (In a figure, Massey et al. describes the scale as 1-10, but the “NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF FRESHMEN PUBLIC RELEASE CODING MANUAL” indicates that it was a 0-10 scale.) Using the metrics of the Add Health data, Blacks in the NLSF have an equivalent color score of 2.85 or are 0.45 SD more light colored, which coheres with our expectation:

a. Convert the score from the 11 point scale to a score on a 10 point scale going from white to black ( 4.79 x (10/11) = 4.35)
b. Reverse scale to a black to white scale (10-=4.35 = 5.65) and reduce by ½ to a 5 point scale (5.65/2=2.825)
c. Convert to STDV (2.825-2.34)/1.06 =.45 SD)
d. Compare with expectation

3. Likewise with color, we would expect the NLSF cohort to be somewhat more admixed. Being 1.75 SD above the national mean, we would expect the NLSF cohort to be at least 1.75 SD x (some predicted IQ-ancestry correlation — I’ve estimated this to be 0.25) above the national admixture mean, if the IQ white ancestry correlation was (some predicted IQ-ancestry correlation).

In the NLSF study, going by the data in Massey et alia, 16% of the native black group reported being mixed race (i.e. having one black and typically one white parent). In the ADD health data, according to Rowe (2002), out of a Black sample of 4271:

“127 adolescents were self-identified as inter-racial children because they had selected both the White and Black self-descriptors. Of these individuals, 102 were classified as Black by the interviewer. Parental reports were also used to identify possible inter-racial children. The head of household (usually the mother) reported her own race and that of her current spouse or partner. When one parent was reported as Black and the other as White and both lived in the household, the child was classified as interracial. Of 442 interracial children, 56 were classified by the interviewer as Black.”

This gives us a mixed race percent ranging from 3-10 percent. Using the midpoint as our estimate, the ratio of mixed to not is 0.07; and the ratio in the NLSF is .18. Which means that the NLSF cohort is .55 SD more admixed, which coheres with our expectation. (The NLSF cohort was born around 1981 and the inter-racial marriage rate was about 5% then, so this would likely be an underestimation of the NLSF mixed race overrepresentation – if that makes sense).


  1. hereditarian

    I would highly question the results of that survey you linked to. For starters, most whites are afraid to answer that question in the affirmative for fear of reprisal…even with the survey being anonymous.

    Second, no one asked me. I know lots of people, who in private share a hereditarian view and none of them are in the bottom 20% of the IQ distribution.

    • johnfuerst

      I was being facetious in my introduction. The intro and the stuff about Jews was just a hook. The real goal of this post was to introduce more data — without being tedious — relevant to my color-IQ thesis.

  2. R

    Your analysis overlooks that Unz was making two points. First, Unz claims that Ivy League Schools limit white enrollment to just over 60% of what it would be if you based admissions solely on academic merit (defined as being a NMS semi-finalist/in the top 0.5% of college applicants on the PSAT). Based on his estimates of academic merit, Unz then goes on to estimate that if you disaggregate Jews and gentiles in the white population, Jews are approximately 400% overrepresented at Ivy League schools and white gentiles are only admitted at around 25% of the numbers they would be if admissions were based on Unz’s definition of academic merit.
    Unz’s second point, which he states at greater length in some of his follow-up commentary to criticisms of his article, is that Ivy League admissions are not nearly as meritocratic (i.e., based on academic record) as many people assume and claims that they currently have all-time lows for proportions of NMS semi-finalists attending since the competition’s inception. He seems to view connections, influence, and many other non-academic factors as being extremely relevant to Ivy League admissions practices.
    You seem to be looking at white gentile/Jewish score differences at elite schools to detect admissions bias, which assumes that academics are the main selection criteria for both Jews and gentiles (which ignores Unz’s second point). A more interesting question to ask is where high scoring (top 0.5%) white gentiles end up at school? How many are at state university honors programs as opposed to elite private colleges? Are there some types of white gentiles that Ivy League schools aren’t interested in, regardless of their academic records? Showing that white gentiles at Ivy League schools are not any more elite academically than their Jewish classmates doesn’t in and of itself show much at all. Why are these white gentiles at Ivy League schools anyway? Most don’t seem to be merit scholars. Are they there because of connections (like the Bushes)? Are they there to staff the sports teams? Ivy League schools don’t tend to be that big and they run a lot of sports teams. Take a look at an Ivy League football, baseball, lacrosse team, etc. They don’t look much like the student body generally. They are overwhelmingly white gentiles. After you staff these teams and account for political dynasty admits like the Bushes, Clintons and Gores, how many white gentiles are left at the Ivies? I’ve known a number of white gentiles who went to the Ivies to play sports and while some of them were very bright, but most were just decent students with decent scores (not anywhere near NMS semi-finalists). For the most part we’re not talking about the best and brightest but hired hands to play sports that are not an intellectual embarrassment to the institution.
    As a side point regarding possible biases in self-reporting, having grown up in a heavily Jewish milieu, my own impression is that academic achievement (grades and test scores) are, on average, much more discussed and important to personal and familial pride among Jews than white gentiles. It would not surprise me if there is greater of reporting bias among Jews for academic achievements (just as men are more likely to over-report their height than women and women are more likely to under-report their weight than men). However, your data set doesn’t allow for any answer to this question.

    • johnfuerst

      Based on the frequencies in the NLSF, Jews are about 400% over-representated relative to other Whites (i.e., they constitute 18% of the enrolled White student body versus 4% of the White population). So, in this regards, my NLSF results are in agreement with Ron’s results. The question, though, is whether Jews are over-represented relative to their aptitude. And whether there is pro-Jewish discrimination. My argument is that if there is discrimination for Jews, unconditioned on aptitude, as there is for NAMs then Jews attending selective colleges will have lower levels of aptitude than non-Jewish Whites — Just as NAMs do. I consider this to be a trivial mathematical point. This is a basic Industrial organizational principle. Ron himself has used a variant of this argument when making his silly case that Hispanics are rapidly closing the gap — if I recall correctly. Take a moment and think through the reasoning. Now you say: “Showing that white gentiles at Ivy League schools are not any more elite academically than their Jewish classmates doesn’t in and of itself show much at all.” What it shows — and this is important — is that there are aptitude differences in the applicant pool. If there were no differences in the applicant pool and yet Jews were 400% over-representated among selectees, Jewish selectees would almost necessarily have lower aptitudes than White selectees. So this indicates that the over-representation is due to something further upstream. You say: “After you staff these teams and account for political dynasty admits like the Bushes, Clintons and Gores, how many white gentiles are left at the Ivies?” So you are arguing now that the lack of a difference is due to less apt White gentiles also being over-selected ? So White Jewish and Gentile selective college applicants are equal in aptitude, Jews are over selected relative to aptitude, but Jewish selectees are not less apt because the non Jewish Whites are also over selected relative to aptitude? To see if this makes sense, we can compare the White-Asian-Hispanic-Black differences. If less apt Whites (Jews and not) are systematically being selected, these gaps should be narrower than we would expect. Check the excel file and tell me what you find. You said: “It would not surprise me if there is greater of reporting bias among Jews for academic achievements.” Well, I agree — which is why I noted this possibility and linked to some of KMac’s writings. That said, the issue can be properly investigated if you wish. A number of surveys contain cognitive ability information and information on the type (i.e., rank) of university attended — from what I recall. If the Jewish sample sizes are large enough, we can run logistic regressions and see if cognitive ability predicts selective college entrance the same for Jews and Gentiles. Unfortunately, I’m not really interested in the issue. If you want, though, I could point you to some data sets to look into.

      • Bill

        I’m curious what the datasets are.

      • johnfuerst

        When I commented, I was thinking of the NELS 88/00. You can check the online DAS analyzer. See here: or here:

        Previously, I checked the Jewish SAT scores a while back — actually, when I was debunking Ron’s Hispanic IQ claims. The SAT scores were about what you would expect given the claimed high Jewish IQ. I believe that there are also post secondary type school enrollment variables in these and related surveys. I would have to look into this some more. People write papers on this stuff when it comes to race differences though. See, for example:

        “Race, income and enrollment patterns in highly selective colleges”

        “We use data from three longitudinal studies conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): High School and Beyond (HS&B, the high school class of 1982); the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88, the high school class of 1992); and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002, the high school class of 2004)”

        So …

      • Bill

        Thanks for the reply!

      • Jack J

        John Fuerst, you mentioned:
        “So you are arguing now that the lack of a difference is due to less apt White gentiles also being over-selected? So White Jewish and Gentile selective college applicants are equal in aptitude, Jews are over selected relative to aptitude, but Jewish selectees are not less apt because the non Jewish Whites are also over selected relative to aptitude? To see if this makes sense, we can compare the White-Asian-Hispanic-Black differences. If less apt Whites (Jews and not) are systematically being selected, these gaps should be narrower than we would expect.”
        I spent some time this summer following up on this idea you presented: “these gaps should be narrower than we would expect” in regards to the differences in scores between Asians-Blacks-Hispanics-Whites (Jews and not).
        After comparing the self-reported scores for each race in your large Excel document (I will refer to these, hereafter, as the “self-reported scores”) and after comparing each race’s self-reported score to the actual scores for those same races (from, hereafter “actual scores”), I found that, for both SAT and ACT scores, the self-reported scores deviated less from the mean. In other words, the gap in scores is indeed smaller (hence the smaller deviation) between gentile whites and other races in the self-reported scores.
        More specifically, I found that the standard deviation of self-reported ACT and SAT scores are 17.33% and 31.08% smaller, respectively, than the actual scores from the NCES.
        This seems to prove, as you had hypothesized, that the gentile whites entering elite universities are less apt than would be expected (keeping in mind that the self-reported scores are from students at 26 elite universities). It may well be that many of the white gentiles who attend these elite schools are athletes, are from “dynasties”, and are otherwise admitted for non-merit based reasons.
        When it comes to getting into less academically selective schools, however, perhaps white gentiles will be less discriminated against.

  3. Steve Sailer

    What percentage of individuals who identify as Jewish don’t identify as white?

    • johnfuerst

      Refer to table A1 and A2.
      All Jews: 249. Multiracial Jews, just Jewish (religious) background: 221.
      All White Jews: 181. White Jews, just Jewish (religious) background: 160.
      So either (1- 181/249) = 27% or (1 – 160/221) = 28% depending on your inclusion criteria. White being non-Hispanic — the “racial” options were: Hispanic, White, Asian, Black. And it was based on applicant identification i.e., checking the Hispanic box somewhere in the applicant form.

  4. Steve Sailer

    So over 25% of Jewish-identifying college students don’t identify was white? Certainly some of them are Tiger Mom-style mixed race progeny, but it sounds like about a quarter of all plain old white Jews in the latest generation have decided they aren’t white?

  5. bigi

    I will come from a completely different place. He claims that there might be some pro-Jewish bias. Yet it is pretty funny because if you check fields like chess music and IQ , Jews are much much more overrepresented and you can’t claim the ‘bias’ in these fields.

    • Shooter

      The purported IQ of Ashkenazim ranges from 110 -116, based on multiple estimates from Cochran and Harpending, as well as Lynn and even Kevin MacDonald.

      However, in Israel, where there is a large Ashkenazi population, their national IQ is lower. Is it because of the presence of lower IQ Jews, or…?

      • Lana

        Reply to above comment:
        “However, in Israel, where there is a large Ashkenazi population, their national IQ is lower. Is it because of the presence of lower IQ Jews, or…?”

        The Hassidim might not be being subject to the IQ test.
        Also, over 60% of Israel’s population is Mizrahim
        PCA cluster charts show that the Mizrahim cluster with Arabs, and therefor are Arabs.
        Ashkenazi cluster with themselves and do not cluster with Europeans.

  6. Lana

    Could you interview Dr Kevin MacDonald (evolutionary psychologist)about his work?
    His books went into The Psychometric tests (such as verbal and algebraic reasoning) and IQ differences between Whites and Jews in the UK,
    Strangely, this subject seems to be mostly ignored on the internet, despite Kevin MacDonald’s being respected and often referenced.

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