The ever-vigilant Reihan pointed me to this succinct and highly informed blog-post on the subject by Jim Manzi. I’ve read a lot about this over the years, but this is one of the best and fairest analyses of the debate I’ve come across. And it’s highly disappointing if you’re hoping for some sort of resolution:
Given our current datasets and analytical tools, when we use econometric methods to try to understand the causes of group differences in intelligence, we are like cavemen trying to figure out how a computer works by poking at it with sharpened sticks.
Do genetic differences accounts for any material portion of the difference in IQ scores by self-identified racial groups in the US? The only honest answer is that we don’t know. This, not political correctness is why the American Psychological Association’s formal consensus point of view on this question is stated without qualification: “At present, this question has no scientific answer.”
He’s surely right as a simple empirical matter. A chastened Will Saletan – who deserves mad props for raising this important but frustrating issue – also concludes:
I outlined the evidence primarily to illustrate the limits of the genetic hypothesis. If it turns out to be true, it will be in a less threatening form than you might imagine. As to whether it’s true, you’ll have to judge the evidence for yourself. Every responsible scholar I know says we should wait many years before drawing conclusions.
So wait we shall.