data exercise about IQ scores, biology homework help

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This week you are reading about the history scientific racism and the misuse of IQ scores. One does not need to go too far back in history to see examples of scientific racism. Please read the following excerpts from The Bell Curve, by Richard J. Herrnstein, Charles Murray (1994). The premise of this book is that poor people are poor because they are stupid. Explain why this is faulty logic. Use references to back up your statements.

To complete this week’s Data Exercise:

  • 1) read the following excerpts from the Bell Curve:

“Many people believe that poverty results from being born into poverty. The authors acknowledge that this is somewhat true, as those who grow up in the bottom 5% of socioeconomic circumstances will end up in poverty eight times more often than those in the top 5%. Yet low IQ is an even stronger predictor. If you have an IQ in the bottom 5%, you are fifteen times more likely to end up in poverty than someone in the top 5%. It is clear from the data that intelligence primarily drives poverty.

If you are born into poverty with an IQ of 100, you have a 90% chance of being out of poverty by your early 30s. Intelligence is the most important predictor of poverty, with marital status a close second. Those who are smart and well-educated are basically never impoverished, yet young white adults who…”

“Unemployed people are understood as pursuing work but failing to achieve it. But there are others not looking. Both are strongly correlated with low IQ for whites. Most of out of the labor force were in college or graduate school but of those not in school, 15% spent a month or more outside of work in 1989. That number was twice that in those with low IQs and socioeconomic background does not explain it.

Why are some out of work? Physical disability is one cause, but low IQ still is a good predictor. Of those who see themselves as too disabled to work, nine out of ten fell in the bottom 25% of IQ and less than 5% were in the top 25%. It is not clear why IQ and physical difficulties are closely related, but…”

“There is no doubt that there are ethnic differences in IQ. Large human groups vary between one another culturally and biologically, so the notion that they might vary in intelligence should not surprise anyone. These differences have important social consequences, but they are not as bad as many suppose.

East Asians have the highest scores in IQ and achievement tests. It is not clear how large the difference is, whether it ranges from a few to ten points. But East Asians have higher nonverbal intelligence but equal or lower in verbal intelligence.

African-Americans and European-Americans differ by an entire standard deviation. The average white has a higher IQ than 84% of blacks. Average black and white IQs vary within every socioeconomic class…”

“Many believe that American public schools poorly perform their assigned tasks, and there is evidence to support this view. But it is unclear whether or not American school children of previous decades would do better on academic skill tests. Those children with average IQs may have better academic preparation today than at any time in the recent past. The main problem is that the SAT scores of the most gifted children have been declining since the mid 1960s and verbal scores have not recovered.

The authors argue that this is due to the fact that more attention and resources have been invested in the disadvantaged than the gifted. When the book was written, one-tenth of a percent of federal funds that went to…”

IMPORTANT: The authors go on to admit that differences in IQ disappear between “races” when you control for socioeconomic status (ie you compare rich Asians to rich whites or poor blacks to poor whites, etc.).

  • 2) Research this topic by googling/library searching: ‘the bell curve’, ‘the bell curve wars’, ‘Steven J. Gould’, ‘scientific racism’, ‘are IQ scores valid’, or any other tags you can think of.
  • 3) Discuss why the passage above is misleading. What is faulty about the way they test their hypothesis?