The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Race, genes, IQ

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,418 times Debate No: 15252
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Last year my brother called me a "racist" for pointing out that genes could mediate some of the US racial achievement gap, so, being a neurotic, I spend a number of months digging through the data and outlining the idea. ( "Race, genes, and disparity." I found the idea to be plausible, but the evidence, while trending to support a partial genetic hypothesis, equivocal -- anyways, I'm looking for someone to debate the issue. The stipulation is that they read through some of my post, as I qualified and operantly defined a number of the terms of debate.

For example:

Race: socially identified ethnoracial groups which have different population structures
General intelligence: the socially important property that both IQ and Reaction time tasks measure
Differences: mean average differences that people refer to when they speak of various "gaps"
Heritability: genetically conditioned endogenous factors that, given equal conditions, result in stubborn individual or group differences


Looking through the Pros opening argument's I still am not sure what the object of the debate is, so I will bring a true resolution to the table:
"Genes are the deciding factor of the race gap in America"
I am willing to debate the wording of the resolution later, but I will move on to my case against this.
I am going Con on this debate for a few contentions:
1. Racism is passed down from generations
2.All human beings have preconceptions of others
3. Programs like affirmative action have only spurred on revived racism, and encourages former racists

I will now move back to my first contention, which stated that Racism is passed down from generations. Racism has been prevalent around the world for hundreds of years, ever since the first slaves from Africa arrived in the United States and other world powers. For decades, African slaves were used to do much of the work in a newly independent America. It was not until the Civil War, in which racial barriers regarding the legalization of slavery coerced several states into seceding from the country, in which slaves finally won freedom. Then, later in the 20th century, the civil rights movement really brought the struggle of African Americans into the National spotlight. Racism was very prevalent then, as anyone educated about the civil rights movement will know. Even recent times have been plagued with racism, as anti-Obama signs have been paraded showing our President dressed in African wear, in response to the birth certificate debacle after his election. It is clear that racism has been prevalent throughout the country's' history.

2. All human beings have misconceptions of others

To clarify, this does not mean genes are the cause of this, it merely means that as humans, we judge others based on societal conceptions. For example, the stereotype Arab at an airport could be deemed a "Terrorist". That is a judgement based on fear and increased public awareness on the middle east. While short, this point illustrates that as humans, we judge. That is how it is, and always shall be.

3. Programs like affirmative action and other things have motivation to racist groups

Affirmative action is essentially providing benefits to minorities, and it has been viewed as somewhat of a "payback" to the families of former slaves. Many groups view that as unfair towards whites and others. Also, many people question why there is a "Black History Month" in existence but not for other groups. Simply put, various situations have spurred racism throughout our countries history.

So in conclusion, we can see with the three points illustrated above that genes are not the cause of the racial divide.
Debate Round No. 1


My contention is that there are genetically mediated differences in general intelligence between European and African Americans and that these differences are partially the cause of the various racial achievement gaps.

kweef has commented that:

1. Racism is passed down from generations
2.All human beings have preconceptions of others
3. Programs like affirmative action have only spurred on revived racism, and encourages former racists

I agree with him on all of these points but maintain that they do not challenge my conclusion.

The first point could be construed as saying that there are other, non genetic, explanations for the gap. I don't disagree that there could be other explanations, hypothetically, but I maintain that the evidence supports a partial genetic explanation. The gap in general intelligence (both between individuals and groups) correlates with neurological differences (cortical volume, glucose metabolism, etc). For racism to cause these differences it has to act in some physically affecting manner. This could happen; anti-black racism could, for example, lead to impoverishment which in turn could lead to developmental differences, but this is unlikely to be the case as the gap persists across socioeconomic status.

The second and third points could be construed as saying that the gap is due to test bias, that is, that it is not real. The mountains of literature on 'closing the (scholastic and IQ) gap' testifies against this as does the mountains of literature on adverse impact. One explicit purpose of No Child Left behind was to close the racial scholastic achievement gap; likewise, one explicit purpose of Race to the top is to close the racial scholastic achievement gap; it's unlikely that the government and academia would be dedicated to fix a non-existent difference.

While kweef has brought up some interesting points, I maintain that they do not challenge my position.


This is a very interesting debate, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

My opponent has brought up a resolution that basically states that there is a genetic mediation between theacvheivement gap, however I believe that that is not true.

1. I believe that environment and determination is an essential factor in achievement
2.Evidence states that as the nation is leading the way for social equity, we see the gap narrowing and even vanishing.

First, many sociologists believe that the social environment is the leading cause of personality development in early teens. Simply put, the environment affects your growth. The majority of bio sociologists agree that genetics is not the cause of personality development, but rather the way you are raised. Also, you have to look at the determination of the individuals themselves. Naturally, you see motivated students and unmotivated students. Genetics does not factor into that.

Second, recent graphs reported by JAEKYUNG LEE, Assistant Professor at the University of Maine's College of Education show that in the last 30 years, the achievement gap has reduced the gap to essentially nothing. Recent strides in racial equity have put everyone on equal ground, so we see that genetics is not the cause of differentiations in the gap.

Interesting theories by my opponent, but genes are not the deciding factor in acheivement.
Debate Round No. 2


What is being debated is whether genes partially mediate the US racial achievement and general intelligence gaps. My opponent has taken the contrary position. In this round of debate, he makes two points: first, within populations genes don't play a large role when it comes to individual differences (but rather personal motivation and family circumstances do) and, second, the between population gap is narrowing and perhaps has closed.

With regards to the second point, in the US there is a 4 way academic achievement gap with North East Asians outperforming White European, who outperform triracial Hispanics, who outperform African American. This gap can be seen in the recently released (2009) Programme for International Student Assessment reading scores: US N.E Asians (541), US white (525), US Hispanic (466), US black (441). [This gap roughly matches the global one: "The highest values for the smart fractions are found in East Asia …followed by Western and Eastern European and North American countries, by South European countries, Arab or Muslim and Latin American countries and finally by sub-Saharan countries. (Rindermann, Sailer, Thompson, 2009. The impact of smart fractions, cognitive ability of politicians and average competences of peoples on social development)]. While the academic achievement gap between white Europeans, Hispanics, and African-Americans has narrowed somewhat over the last 50 years, the gap is still of substantial magnitude.

With regards to the first point, it's well established that both academic achievement and general intelligence are highly heritable within populations. As a rough summary of the findings, by adolescence approximately half of the variance in academic and intelligence scores within populations can be explained by genes. Moreover, as individuals age, genes come to have more influence; by adulthood, over 75% of the variance in general intelligence (between individuals within populations) can be explained by genetic differences. With regards to the influence of family circumstances, research in behavioral genetics has consistently found that with age the affect of family circumstances fades away and the affect of genes becomes pronounced. This has been found in adoption studies, twin studies, and in sibling comparison studies.

Given that genetic differences account for a substantial portion of the academic performance differences and general intelligence differences within populations, it's not implausible that they account for some of the differences between populations. There are some reasons for thinking that they most probably do.

For one, it has been found that within populations certain gene alleles are associated with superior academic performance (e.g. DRD4 4 allele) and it has been found that between populations the frequencies of these alleles vary (e.g N.E Asians have a higher frequency of the 4 allele than Europeans and most West Africans). The fact that some of the genes the are associated with individual differences in academic performance, differ across populations, makes it likely that some of the differences across populations, which respect of academic performance, are mediated by genetics.

For another, the high heritability of general intelligence within populations (for example, African Americans and N.E Asian Americans) makes it improbable that all differences between the two populations are due to non-genetic factors. If there is a 1.1 standard deviation gap in general intelligence between N.E Asian and African-American adults, and the variance explained by the environment within both populations is only .25, then to explain the general intelligence gap environmentally, one would need to maintain that there were 2.2 Standard deviations of differences [1.1 / (sqrt .25)] in environment between the two populations. It seems implausible that there is such a difference.


kweef forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Chuck11 forfeited this round.


I apologize for not being present for the third round, I did not keep track of time very well.

To begin, I would like to talk about the subjectiveness of the debate. There is no clear cut resolution, and I am the only one that offered one, therefore, mine should stand.

To repeat said resolution, "Genes are the deciding factor of the race gap in America."

I negated the resolution with the following three contentions:

1. Racism is passed down from generations
2. All human beings have misconceptions
3. Programs like affirmative action and others give motivation to racist groups.

1. Racism has been a part of our country for generations, and even though we have taken great strides in civil rights since our founding, we still have a long way to go. That is very evident in today's world.

2. Whenever we see people, we judge them, that is simply how we are as human beings, always has been. always will be.

3. Affirmative action and other race oriented programs have fanned the fires of racism, by leading groups to believe that there is no longer equal treatment because we are essentially "paying back" for the atrocities committed to minority groups.

With those contentions, and the fact that Con is the only one who has brought a true resolution to today's debate, I urge a Con vote.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
Are you suggesting that changing everyones genetics to one race is a good/bad thing? I also do not understand your resolution.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
I second Kiko, though I am quite familiar with bio chemistry and have a love for it, debating any such concept would be boring even for the readers. We would not even get a vote.
Posted by KikoSanchez182 6 years ago
Good luck finding someone to read and dissect all of that. Maybe a local professor would be more apt for fulfilling your desires.
Posted by dinokiller 6 years ago
What are you trying to prove with your debate? O_o
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by y0ungDuB 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:25 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a bit of a confusing topic. I Went with CON based on the fact that he shaped the topic more clearly and won on his arguments. Pro should have clarified better in the first round.