Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class By Charles Murray

Here are some excerpts from this new book:

* In 1960, a few years before second-wave feminism took off in the United States, only 41 percent of women ages 25–54 were in the labor force. In 2018, that figure stood at 75 percent. By 2015, women had a presence in high-status jobs that was inconceivable in 1960. From 1960 to 2018, women went from 1 percent of civil engineers to 17 percent; from 5 percent of attorneys to 35 percent; from 8 percent of physicians to 42 percent. Not a single woman was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 1960, nor would there be any until 1972.34 In 2018, 25 women were Fortune 500 CEOs, among them the chief executives of General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, and General Dynamics. In 1960, there was one woman in the U.S. Senate. After the 2018 election, there were 25. In the 1960 House of Representatives, there were 19 women. After the 2018 election, there were 102. Female students from elementary school through college have long had higher mean grade point averages than males in most subjects (including math).35 But in 1960 women were nonetheless a minority of entering college students (46 percent), and the gap grew during the undergraduate years. Almost two males got a bachelor’s degree for every woman who did. In 1982, the number of women getting bachelor’s degrees surpassed the number of men. The gap continued to widen subsequently. By 2016, 1,082,669 women got bachelor’s degrees compared to 812,669 men—a 33 percent difference.

* In 1960, 20 men got a professional degree for every woman who did. By 1970, the ratio was less than 10 to 1. By 1980, it was less than 3 to 1. In 2005, women caught up with men. Since then, more women have gotten more professional degrees than men in every year. As of 2016, 93,778 women got a professional degree compared to 84,089 men.

* Peoples of the world have probably had words that mean “people different from us” as long as they have had language. A common practice in isolated tribes has been to call one’s own tribe humans and everyone else nonhumans. By the end of the sixteenth century, the word race had entered the English language, originally used loosely to refer to people of common descent, identified with their common culture and geographic place. Increasing contact with the peoples peoples of Africa and Asia led to distinctions based on differences in appearance. In popular usage, whites in Europe began to group races based on skin color—white, black, yellow, brown, and red. In the eighteenth century, science got involved. Naturalists Carl Linnaeus and Johann Blumenbach proposed formal groupings of populations into races based on distinctive morphological features. By the middle of the nineteenth century, scholars had decided that the different races were not only cosmetically and morphologically distinctive but also had different personality and intellectual characteristics.

* Among almost all living things that reproduce sexually, the sex with the smaller gametes (males) provides less care after fertilization than the sex with the larger gametes (females).

* Interbreeding produces a visible blend in the first generation of progeny, but the heritage of one of the parents wins out over the long run. It remains surprisingly true even today: America has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world, with the most opportunities for children of mixed parentage to mate with other children of mixed parentage, and yet, for example, among American women who have a European American and a Chinese American parent, 82 percent marry a European American husband, putting their children (now only a quarter ethnically Chinese) on the road toward eventual indistinguishability from fully European Americans.

* A modern experimental example is the Siberian silver fox. In 1959, Soviet biologist Dmitry Belyaev decided to reproduce the evolution of wolves into domesticated domesticated dogs.33 Instead of using actual wolves, he obtained Siberian silver foxes from Soviet fur farms and began to breed them for tameness. The foxes were not trained in any way, nor were they selected for anything except specific indicators of tameness as puppies. In the fourth generation, Belyaev produced the first fox puppies that would wag their tails when a human approached. In the sixth generation, he had puppies who were eager to establish human contact, whimpering to attract attention, licking their handlers—in short, acting like dogs. By the tenth generation, 18 percent of puppies exhibited these characteristics from birth. By the twentieth generation, that proportion had grown to 35 percent.

Even though the rapid effects of breeding were well known, it had generally been assumed until the 1950s that natural selection in the wild must move more slowly. Then British geneticist Bernard Kettlewell realized that within his own lifetime the wings of many types of moths had changed from light to dark in industrial areas of England. He began experiments in which he released light-and dark-winged peppered moths in unpolluted and polluted forests (the bark on trees in polluted forests having been darkened by industrial smoke and soot). He found that the daily mortality rate of the light-winged moths was twice that of the dark-winged variety in the polluted forests and subsequently elaborated on that finding to prove that natural selection was the cause.34 (Let us pause for a moment: Try to imagine the patience and doggedness it takes to determine daily mortality rates of moths over several acres of land.) Since Kettlewell’s work, rapid response to environmental change has been demonstrated in many species—for example, Italian wall lizards, cane toads, house sparrows, and, most famously, in the beaks of finches living on the Galápagos Islands.

* For highly charged topics such as IQ, many people will continue to urge that studying population differences does more harm than good. But what happens if findings from European samples about cognitive-related traits such as depression, autism, or schizophrenia lead to more effective treatments for Europeans but not for other populations? It will be ethically imperative to study the genetics of mental disorders in other populations as well, which means studying the ways in which they differ from Europeans. The idea that geneticists could ignore ancestral population differences indefinitely was always implausible. It is now out of the question.

* Two examples of significant genetic differences across populations have been sitting in plain sight for decades: lactase persistence and susceptibility to sickle cell anemia. Both of these are major adaptations involving many biological systems. For that matter, lightening of skin pigmentation, passed off as trivial because it is only “skin deep,” is genetically more complicated than “skin deep” implies.[23] Why, given these examples of complex adaptation that obviously occurred after the Africa exodus, should it ever have been assumed that they were the only ones?

* Genetic disorders among Ashkenazi Jews. As early as the 1880s, it was noted that Tay-Sachs disease occurred almost exclusively among Ashkenazi Jews. Over the years, several other genetic disorders have been found to be far more prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews than in any other population. The causes of the difference in prevalence are still unresolved. One possibility is a population bottleneck around a thousand years ago, as argued in a 2018 study that analyzed 5,685 Ashkenazi Jewish exomes. The alleles in question included ones for Tay-Sachs.32

Another possibility is that natural selection has been at work. In 2009, before access to GWA, Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending argued that case, observing that the Jewish genetic disorders are oddly grouped:

“Imagine a fat biochemistry textbook, where each page describes a different function or condition in human biochemistry. Most of the Ashkenazi diseases would be described on just two of those pages. The two most important important genetic disease clusters among the Ashkenazim are the sphingoloid storage disorders (Tay-Sachs disease; Goucher’s disease; Niemann-Pick disease; and mucolipidosis, type IV) and the disorders of DNA repair (BRCA1 and BRCA2; Fanconi anemia, type C; and Bloom syndrome).33 If a population bottleneck were the sole explanation, they calculated that the odds of finding four disorders that affect sphingolipid metabolism would have been about 1 in 100,000.”[34]

The authors concluded instead that we are looking at recently evolved differences across populations. While the explanation remains unclear, this much is undisputed: The disorders are genetic, and so are population differences separating Ashkenazi Jews from everyone else.

* We already know of a genetically-grounded population difference on a highly sensitive trait that is far, far larger than any ancestral population difference we are going to find. The populations in question are males and females. The highly sensitive trait is the commission of physical violence against other humans. The undoubted genetic source of the difference is the Y chromosome. How big is the difference? Judge it by this: About 90 percent of all homicides are committed by males.41

If we can live with a population difference that huge on such an important behavioral trait, we can easily live with the smaller differences in continental populations that are likely to be found. The differences that will be documented during the coming years should be greeted with “That’s interesting.” I fear that the orthodoxy’s insistence that population differences in cognitive repertoires cannot exist ensures that they initially won’t be greeted that way.[42] But they should be.

* Educational attainment by sex. Even without adjusting for anything, there’s no female disadvantage to worry about when it comes to educational attainment. Women now have higher mean years of education and a higher percentage of college degrees than men and have enjoyed that advantage for many years. These advantages persist over all IQ levels.[5]

Educational attainment by ethnicity. In terms of the raw numbers, Asians have higher educational attainment than any other ethnic group. Blacks and Latinos have substantially lower educational attainment than whites, but these discrepancies are more than eliminated after adjusting for IQ.[6] Blacks have more mean years of education and higher proportions of college degrees than whites at comparable IQ levels. After taking IQ into account, Latino and white levels of educational attainment are similar. Asians retain their advantage over whites after adjusting for IQ.[7]

Earned income by sex. A substantial female disadvantage in earned income exists, but it is almost entirely explained by marriage or children in the household. Using Current Population Survey data for 2018, earnings for women who were not married, had no children living at home, and worked full-time were 93 percent of the earnings of comparable men.[8] Married women with children in the house have considerably lower earned income even after adjusting for IQ, but the main source of the income discrepancy is not that married women in the labor force earn less than unmarried women, but that married men earn more than unmarried men.[9]

Earned income by ethnicity. Using raw 2018 data from the CPS, Asians have higher mean earned income than whites, while Blacks and Latinos have substantially lower mean earned income than whites.[10] Once again, adjusting for IQ changes that picture dramatically. In the earlier survey, adjusting for IQ wipes out the ethnic income differential among whites, blacks, and Latinos (Asians were not included in this survey). In the latter survey, whites and Latinos have effectively the same earned income while the fitted mean for blacks is 84 percent of the fitted mean for whites. The fitted mean for Asians is 57 percent higher than the fitted mean for whites.

* The establishment of the truth—for truth it seems to be—that the childhood family environment explains little about the cognitive repertoires of the adult is one of the more important achievements of the social sciences in the last four decades.

* Proposition #8 says that even though you may think that your parenting style and your family’s resources make a big difference in how your children turn out as human beings, using a straightforward model for identifying that effect fails to turn up evidence for it. Second, parents can make a negative difference at the extremes. Really awful parenting, involving severe deprivation and abuse, can damage children permanently.

* Can parents drive children to distraction? No doubt about it; just as children routinely drive parents to distraction. But when it comes to severe mental disorders, the parents’ genes are important while their parenting, by and large, is not.

* After about age 14, there is no evidence from twin and adoption studies that their shared environment as children had anything to do with their IQ scores.

* No matter whether researchers use the Big Five or one of the other personality models, the answer to the question “How much effect does the shared environment have on the way that human personalities develop?” is the same: Effectively none.

* The bulk of the variance in success in life is unexplained by either nature or nurture. Researchers are lucky if they explain half of the variance in educational attainment with measures of abilities and socioeconomic background. They’re lucky if they can explain even a quarter of the variance in earned income with such measures. The takeaway for thinking about our futures as individuals is that we do not live in a deterministic world ruled by either genes or social background, let alone by race or gender.

* IQ tests are not biased against minorities.4 Education does raise IQ, but within a narrow range (you can’t become a genius by staying in school long enough).5 IQ scores are usually stable, though not perfectly so, after around age six, when the first reliable measures become available, until decline in old age.[6] IQ meets higher standards of reliability and validity in measuring the construct it is intended to measure than any psychological measure of personality or temperament.

* Convincing evidence on the longer-term impacts of scaled-up pre-K programs on academic outcomes and school progress is sparse, precluding broad conclusions. The evidence that does exist often shows that pre-K-induced improvements in learning are detectable during elementary school, but studies also reveal null or negative longer-term impacts for some programs.

* Parents really do treat their children differently and siblings really do respond differently to the same events (divorce, for example); and siblings really do have different peer groups that seem to have great influence on their lives.

* No one claims that the DNA code is modified by environmental events. All the scientific claims involving epigenetics, correct and incorrect, are about changes in gene expression, not changes in DNA.

* Epigenetics properly understood is a vibrant field with findings that have important medical implications. But as far as I can tell, no serious epigeneticist is prepared to defend the notion that we are on the verge of learning how to turn genes on and off and thereby alter behavioral traits in disadvantaged children (or anyone else).

* The gloomy prospect for systematically affecting the nonshared environment seems vindicated. Nothing in the pipeline shows promise of overturning the negative results to date. Epigenetics as portrayed in the media has no relevance to Proposition #10 for the foreseeable future. The widespread popular belief that environmental pressures routinely and permanently alter gene expression in humans, that those alterations are reversible, and that their effects are passed down through generations is wrong. Proposition #10 will eventually be wrong. On the bright side, we can look at recent developments and see reasons that Proposition #10 cannot be true forever. The obvious example is the positive and even life-changing effects that pharmaceuticals developed during the last few decades have had on some forms of depression and other mental disorders.

* Plomin sees polygenic scores as a game changer for three reasons: Predictions from polygenic scores to psychological traits are causal in just one direction (the trait cannot be a cause of the score). Polygenic scores can predict from birth. Polygenic scores can predict differences between family members, something that twin studies cannot do.

* Polygenic scores will be able to identify the genetic risk that an individual faces for a given disorder before the problem has developed. Psychologists will no longer be confined to observing symptoms and diagnosing problems after they manifest themselves.

* Clinical psychology will move away from diagnoses and toward dimensions. One of the revelations of recent research is that polygenic scores are normally distributed, thereby demonstrating that genetic risk for psychological problems is continuous. There is no gene that moves a person from normal to psychologically disordered.

* Polygenic scores will enable clinical psychology to create more precise treatments. They will be especially useful for choosing the right drugs and dosages based on genetic evidence—and, as importantly, avoiding the expense and side effects of trying wrong drugs and dosages.

* Clinical psychology’s focus will shift from treatment toward prevention. Clinical psychologists have no effective broad-based, large-scale prevention strategies. But when we know from polygenic scores that an individual is at risk, we can design, test, and eventually identify effective prevention strategies for individuals.


* Asians of equivalent 120 IQ earn 54% more than whites because the practical minded Asians tend to major in higher paid fields like Computer Science, Finance, Engineering, Medicine or Law, while whites tend to follow their interests. It’s why most innovations came from whites, because they only major in tech/medicine if they are truly interested in it, whereas Asians only major in those fields for the money, not real interest.

* The difference is the East Asians’ risk-aversion and preference for the safe and well-defined career paths as opposed to whites’ greater interest in free-form experimentation, creativity, and well-roundedness.

* I always figured both would rely on Herrnstein‘s Jewish credentials to deflect charges of racism and successfully counterattack it as anti-semitism. But he unfortunately passed away leaving Murray exposed to the elements. So he went into a maelstrom without any kind of shielding.

* What I think though is, that a 77 – year-old man, willing to confront the stress and hassles and hatred that will undoubtedly come towards him with the publication of this new book – with the word RACE on the cover, is something which – I admire – and am grateful for. So: What Charles Murray does is way above average, as far as courage is concerned.

* Being more concerned with acquiring capital and thus being more motivated to make money in and of itself. How many Asian kids are pushed into professions they wouldn’t have gone into if their parents weren’t FoB immigrants? Once those kinds of families have a base of capital, the imperative to get more is diminished. We see this with American Jews.

By contrast smart white and black kids don’t tend to come from recent immigrant backgrounds with all the striving and status-seeking behaviour that often goes along with that.

Another question is what impact a larger extended family and sense of optimism imbued by parents who have a non-native perspective on material status has on status-seeking.

* The issue that is never addressed is the underachievement of whites in the US.

When I first came to live in the US, I had spent several years working in Bermuda, which is 70% “black” and about 30% white and Azorean Portuguese.

This was the first time in my life I had lived with a black majority population, or indeed lived closely with black people at all.

In Bermuda it was very rare to find whites who were what the US would call “white trash”. Nearly all whites were business owners, landlords, bankers, lawyers, accountants, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and so on and they ran the supermarkets, pharmacies, car and boat dealerships, banks, restaurants,and newspapers.

When I came to live in the US the greatest surprise to me was that there were so many whites whose families had crossed the Atlantic long ago who still were not established, did not own land or homes, who had not been to college, and who had low paid jobs.

Who were these mysterious boat people who had come from Europe generations ago to seek prosperity, but were still clinging on by the skin of their teeth in America?

Within about 3 years of arrival in the US with a suitcase and a carry on and a few paychecks in the bank, I had economically surpassed half the population already. (The first year was spent in obtaining validation of credentials, doing prerequisites, and so on.)

However if you go back to Europe, it is soon apparent that even within Europe there were several different populations. The English landed aristocracy, in many cases, still had Norman, Saxon, or Nordic characteristics, were tall, long headed, and educable, whereas the numerical majority of the British population who formed “the mob” in times when mob rule ruled where hybrid whites who were shorter, more round headed, and less educable and possibly of Celtic or indigenous stock.

After the US became independent the upper classes in the UK launched a massive deportation program or pogrom against the lower or “criminal” classes and deported huge numbers to Australia with the intention of eradicating crime in the UK. Obviously, in retrospect, this did not work, which led to the building of the huge red brick Victorian prisons and then mental hospitals that still exist around the island.

So probably it is not only blacks that have inherited limited IQ capacity, but also a significant section of the white population that is less obviously visible. When I worked in prisons, the majority of prisoners were black or Latin, but the white prisoners nearly all seemed to come from this white underclass whose families had never become established in America.

* My wife had dinner last night with the wife of one of the guys on the admissions committee at U Wisconsin med school. The woman said it is much harder now for an American to get into med school than at any time in the past. She said her husband gets tons of applications, all from extremely good students, but only a few can get into med school.

I was pushed out of the sciences, after getting a Ph.D. because of massive immigration from China. So I learned to code. I was almost pushed out of coding by Indian H1-B (I even lost a job so the company could hire an H1-B). Medicine — from doctors to nurses down to MA and CNA, are being taken over by mostly Asian immigrants now.

I guess I am supposed to shut up and take my meth or opiods and rack up credit card bills until I die to keep the ultra rich happy.

* For every lower class black, there is a lower class white who is not richer or better behaved or smarter. The number of whites with below 85 IQ is almost 1 for 1 equal to the number of blacks with IQ<85. It's just that the blacks are a "visible minority" and the whites aren't (although if you look closely, they usually are) and the white lower class is mixed in among a much larger white middle and upper class while the black lower class forms a much larger % of blacks. My father was also shocked by the poverty and lack of upward mobility of the white lower classes, who in his view possessed many advantages that he lacked, not only the ability to read and write English but often considerable mechanical or trade skills, and yet within a few years he had a considerably greater net worth than they did. Part of this is down to money management skills and immigrant thrift. In order to save a down payment for a farm (which was a home and a business as well as a considerable chunk of real estate) we lived in a deteriorated NY tenement (railroad flat, bathtub in the kitchen) long after most white people had fled the neighborhood and he saved the majority of each paycheck. No car, no vacation, no eating out, no Christmas presents, no debt. Most lower class Americans have zero net worth – every paycheck is spoken for even before it arrives, just to make the payments on various forms of debt and are not willing to delay gratification in this way. The second aspect of this was his avoidance of alcohol (and in the modern context, drugs). Substance abuse is the bane of the lower classes. MORE COMMENTS:

* Extreme heat can help divide people while extreme cold might help bring people together (both socially and physically.) If there was a real “hot head” in the Scottish Hinterlands, he might get kicked out of the settlement and freeze to death. While another hot head from another tribe who gets kicked out can just attack another tribe easily. Colder areas require more long term planning (or used to) in terms of growing/storing enough food for the winter.

Africa heat encouraged bigger and meaner muscle growth while Northern European chills encouraged higher IQ and social development.

* There are two problems with Kevin’s reasoning.

1. He assumes an African mean IQ of 72.8. This is a low-end estimate. In their review of the literature, Wicherts et al. (2010) argue for a mean of 82, whereas Lynn (2010) puts it at 66. Rindermann (2013) favors a “best guess” of 75. There is some fudging in all of these estimates, since no one really knows how much adjustment should be made for the Flynn Effect. These are societies that are still becoming familiar not only with test taking but also with the entire paradigm of giving standardized answers to standardized questions.

2. Polygenic scores are still a rough measure. When Davide Piffer used the polygenic score to estimate African genotypic IQ, he came up with an estimate of 90.54

It looks like polygynic scores inflate African IQ, perhaps because of differences in genetic architecture. Or perhaps mean African genotypic IQ really is around 90.


Lynn, R. (2010). The average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans assessed by the Progressive Matrices: A reply to Wicherts, Dolan, Carlson & van der Maas, Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 152-154.

Rindermann, H. (2013). African cognitive ability: Research, results, divergences and recommendations, Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 229-233.

Wicherts, J.M., C.V. Dolan, and H.L.J. van der Maas. (2010). A systematic literature review of the average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans, Intelligence, 38, 1-20.

* I asked some of the people he’s replying to if I should say anything. Because Kevin does not have an argument, his paper is filled with statistical errors and fallacies and bad maths in general, I was asked to just let it slide into publication so that it can be responded to there. What happens when Kevin is criticised normally is that he moves goalposts or outright lies in protection of his ideology, so I agree that it isn’t fruitful to try to talk to him outside of publications.

* There is no problem with the cold-weather hypothesis, it is certainly correct.

As with most issues, it is possible to have multiple factors in play.

–> Cold weather indeed requires more planning hence more conscientiousness, lower time preference, higher IQ.

–> Civilization–trade, money, written language, bureaucracy, returns to literacy, more variety of products, etc. etc.–means more complexity, and brings in literacy/numeracy and leads to higher IQ.

Both are clearly factors. Not the least bit complicated to understand.

And civilization requires successful agriculture that
a) creates a surplus and
b) supports a decent population density
allowing “rulers” to take over a territory and create “civilization” at scale. This generally first occurred in places that were warm, but not insanely hot. As human capabilities improved, more of it took place at higher–but still temperate–latitudes.

You can quibble about it, but this more or less matches the pattern we see.
— The smartest hunter gathers are the Eskimos.
— But settled agricultural people at any given latitude are generally smarter. (At least in the sort of logical intelligence we can measure.)
— Among civilizations, the ones with scale in the upper temperate zone–England, France, Germany, Japan–have outshone the orginal, more tropical river valley–Tigris/Euphrates, Nile–civilizations. Likely tapping into higher conscientiousness and intelligence in the population from managing farming/fishing with winter.
— People are smarter in the cities–where people succeed by engaging in “civilization”–manufacture, trade, bureaucracy–than off in the hills.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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