Being Vile About the Sutton Trust Report

So we had the Sutton Trust report.

Parental background continues to exert a very significant influence on the academic
progress of children:
o Those from the poorest fifth of households but in the brightest group at age three
drop from the 88th percentile on cognitive tests at age three to the 65th percentile
at age five. Those from the richest households who are least able at age three
move up from the 15th percentile to the 45th percentile by age five.
o If this trend were to continue, the children from affluent backgrounds who are
doing poorly at age three would be likely to overtake the poorer but initially bright
children in test scores by age seven.
o Inequalities in degree acquisition meanwhile persist across different income
groups. While 44 per cent of young people from the richest 20 per cent of
households acquired a degree in 2002, only 10 per cent from the poorest 20 per
cent of households did so.

But we\’ve also got this:

The problem with this famous Eyferth study, which formed the backbone of Flynn\’s Race, IQ, and Jensen, is that it was a study of children. So? After Flynn wrote this book, behavioral geneticists gradually made the amazing discovery that the heritability of IQ (and many other traits) sharply rises as children grow up, while family effects on IQ fade out.

Now I have no idea whether that last is in fact true, but if it is it provides us with a way of interpreting the Sutton Trust\’s results. A way that will be most un politically correct. Children of the poor do badly in the educational system because they are dim. That dimness being a genetic problem, one which becomes apparent as they age.

It is, in fact, the exact opposite of the Trust\’s thrust. It isn\’t that a bad environment hampers the children of the poor, it\’s that we only find out about their dimness as they grow older.

No, I don\’t think I like that conclusion either but what if it is actually true?

What if, say, the educational mobility of the 50s through 70s was a one off event? That there were those with the brains but not the opportunity to rise, that once the opportunity arose they did in fact rise but that there\’s no more such to come?

All depends rather on the heritability of IQ I guess and that\’s something that creates a firestorm whenever it\’s mentioned.

As I say, I\’m not sure I like that conclusion but I\’m absolutely certain that it will enrage all of the right people.

10 thoughts on “Being Vile About the Sutton Trust Report”

  1. Tee hee.

    The pragmatic people look at outcomes and say that most traits are inborn/hereditary. Anybody who looks at brother and sisters of the same parents (who are brought up the same) will see that they are often quite different. So the differences must be genetic. Lefties say that you can ignore nature and via “nurture” i.e. social engineering you can achieve all sorts of wonderful things.

  2. The “nurture” view is entrenched in the educational establishment. My daughter’s teacher is even convinced that the differences between boys and girls has nothing to be genetics and all to do with parents enforcing their stereotypes upon them.

  3. Tim,

    Social mobility is about to be the new focus for the left.

    I recently commented on Fabian Society speech reported in the Telegraph, which claimed that the Fabians were proposing VAT on public school fees with the money being spent on helping [social mobility]. I have recieved an email from them sort of clarifying their position.

    The Fabian Society speech can be found here:

    and they have another on education and social mobility here:

  4. What enzyme works on mental processing to create the ability to do well in IQ tests?

    As the man says, genes work through enzymes (hope so, anyway!).

    That is without going into the vapidity of IQ tests.

    And Kit, I’ve heard similar from a renowned professor of psychology – his thoughts being that the plasticity of the brain in childhood and adolescence leads it to adapt to the way it is treated, and as (if?) the sexes are treated the same then their behaviors will become more similar.

    Wouldn’t take it too far (and neither did he) but a potential mechanism?

  5. “. . . the heritability of IQ (and many other traits) sharply rises as children grow up, while family effects on IQ fade out”

    Could this also explain the results of some studies in the U.S. which indicate that gains from pre-kindergarten classes are short-lived?

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    I am not sure I understand the report’s claims. So as children grow up “the heritability of IQ (and many other traits) sharply rises as children grow up, while family effects on IQ fade out.” So genes become more important as time goes on? So by “family effects” they mean nuture, not (as would seem obvious) the genes your family gives you? OK. Fair enough.

    Lee Kwan-yew has made this claim before. He says that Singapore got a one-off benefit from free education in the 1970s and now it must concentrate on encouraging smart people to have more children.

    I am unconvinced. I am sure there is a genetic component to intelligence. I used to have a dog as a child and although we grew up in the same environment last I checked he did not get a doctorate.

    However I think that what they are missing is the minor role of parents. When we are children our parents are the entire world but as we get older they get less and less important. Children of immigrants speak with their friend’s accents, not their parent’s. It is also clear that in some communities there is a culture of academic underachievement. It is not cool for boys in particular to do well. So you get massive gender disparities between Black boys and Black girls for instance in IQ tests. We know what Black boys tend to think about “behaving White” which would include sitting down for a few hours to do an IQ test.

    So the decline of the family could just reflect the gradual adoption of the dysfunctional culture around them.

  7. Subtlety:

    If there are recognizable groups with common attributes, it’s not unreasonable to study on whether and to what degree the groups differ on aspects of those attributes. The studies may be difficult to design and yield data vulnerable to various misinterpretations but those aren’t reasons why such studies shouldn’t be done.

    Without beating around the bush, it seems the result is that black children generally exhibit, as they mature, a declining rate of cognitive improvement (vs white children), with the adult populations separated by one standard deviation (in the U.S.) or about 15 IQ points
    And, though there may be a variety of factors involved in realization of the result, one that certainly merits attention is the likelihood that, whatever the eventual potential (at maturity) of group members, the stages and rates at which maturity is reached differ not only between individuals but differ in some ways that can be described as characteristic of their inclusion in one or the other group. There’s no particular onus attached to studies of whether there are differences in the processes or rates at which each achieve sexual maturity, eventual height as adults, etc.–but those concerned with cognition are loaded with potential for offense of one kind or another. I have an anecdote on the subject from nearly 65 years ago which is at least somewhat illustrative. I’ll tell it following.

  8. I went to 2nd grade in Philadelphia, PA. for a half-year term. Though neighborhoods were unofficially but effectively segregated, the public school was not; about a quarter of the kids in the school (and my classroom) were black.

    At that age, the black kids were effectively more or less organized into various gangs with recognizable leaders. These often provoked fights in the schoolyard, either between gangs or, often, picking on one or two individual white kids (none of whom had similar groupings). The most systematic activity, however, was extorting nickels and dimes from other kids, including black kids who were not part of one of the groups. I came in for a good deal of such harrassment, probably because I was significantly smaller than anyone else. These were not particularly vicious kids and, though I was extremely stubborn and never ended up giving them anything (they’d go through pockets but I kept coins in a shoe) , I never suffered anything more than pushing around.

    At suppertime, I asked my parents why the black kids had gangs and the white kids (who were numerically superior) didn’t–and why they were always trying to extort money from the other kids.

    My mother explained that black people were discriminated in a variety of ways–very obvious in those days. They were unable to get good jobs because of discrimination, were therefore poor, and so lived in run-down neighborhoods and suffered every sort of deprivation, including hunger, that went with being poor. My father was silent–said nothing at all.

    Later, my father told me something quite different. What he said was that black kids were generally more mature and advanced than white kids at an earlier age. That they were, whether larger or smaller, somewhat stronger, more agile, and smarter–earlier to recognize the advantage in having a regular gang with a leader, whether for fighting, for taking money or lunches from other kids, or even for getting up a game that needed a team. He said that the rest of the kids would do the same in a year or two but that people like us–Jews–usually didn’t go in for that sort of thing.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    Gene, I don’t have an ideological objection to arguments about intelligence based on genetics. I agree that Blacks (in America in particular) do much worse than Whites by about 15 points. I would have no problems accepting that there is a genetic reason for that if I thought there was a genetic reason for that. But there isn’t as far as I can see. Britain and America have both had Black immigration from the Caribbean. Blacks from the Caribbean do very well in America as almost anyone who is anyone from Colin Powell to Marion Jones is from the Caribbean. They do very badly in Britain. Which is odd because, as you would expect, mainland Blacks (if I can call them that) are more likely to have more White genes (in so far as such a thing exist) than Caribbean Blacks. The same is true of African Blacks – they do better than both groups but have even fewer White genes. So much so there is a movement in America to prevent them from benefiting from Affirmative Action programs for Blacks. There is also a gross disparity in IQ tests for Black women. They do not perform 15 points below Whites.

    All of which suggests to me that it is dysfunction in Black culture that is to blame. Especially as it relates to Black males. I would also think that a similar stupid culture affects White working class males in Britain. So what appears to be a one off gain of the genetically bright was actually a one off gain of the academically motivated.

    Your story of the gangs simply proves it I think. White Jewish kids do not join gangs. They do not admire people who do. Jewish kids have traditionally admired Rabbis. That can cut both ways and I know people who argue that because every smart Jewish boy became a Rabbi and had lots of children (while every smart Irish boy became a priest and had none) Jews have been breeding for intelligence. But I still think it is a culture of underachievement and a culture of intellectuals. We could still change that.

  10. I just finished reading “Black Rednecks & White Liberals”, by Thomas Sowell. If you are interested in dysfunctional black culture, I can recommend it.

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