Wednesday, March 23, 2005


But only obliquely. It refers to IQ as "test scores". Tests of how high you can jump, perhaps? Tests of what a good shot you are? Tests of how good you are at picking stockmarket winners? They don't say. They obviously think you would KNOW which test scores are being referred to

Roland G. Fryer Jr. is 27 years old and he is an assistant professor of economics at Harvard and he is black....

When he presents a paper, Fryer is earnest and genial and excitable, sometimes carrying on like a Southern preacher. While he denies that his work is united by a grand thesis -- he is a scientist, he explains, devoted to squeezing truths from the data, wherever that may lead -- he does admit to having a mission: ''I basically want to figure out where blacks went wrong. One could rattle off all the statistics about blacks not doing so well. You can look at the black-white differential in out-of-wedlock births or infant mortality or life expectancy. Blacks are the worst-performing ethnic group on SAT's. Blacks earn less than whites. They are still just not doing well, period.''

To Fryer, the language of economics, a field proud of its coldblooded rationalism, is ideally suited for otherwise volatile conversations. ''I want to have an honest discussion about race in a time and a place where I don't think we can,'' he says. ''Blacks and whites are both to blame. As soon as you say something like, 'Well, could the black-white test-score gap be genetics?' everybody gets tensed up. But why shouldn't that be on the table?'' ....

Glaeser and Fryer, along with David M. Cutler, another Harvard economist, are the authors of a paper that traffics in one form of genetic theorizing. It addresses the six-year disparity in life expectancy for blacks versus whites, arguing that much of the gap is due to a single factor: a higher rate of salt sensitivity among African-Americans, which leads to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease....

So here is Fryer's final anomaly: he is a man who revels in his blackness and yet also says he believes, as DuBois believed, that black underachievement cannot entirely be laid at the feet of discrimination. Fryer has a huge appetite for advocacy but a far larger appetite for science, and as a scientist he won't exclude any possibilities, including black behaviors, from the menu of factors that contribute to the black condition.

(Excerpts only above. More here)


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