Race Differences

By Roger Devlin for Counter Currents

Race has been discussed to the point of weariness, yet most discussion consists of little more than wishful thinking, contradiction, and outright malice: “All the races are equal, but whites oppress everyone else. Then again, race doesn’t really exist, which is why we must strive for greater racial diversity.” It is understandable that many people are at once confused by, and sick of, the entire subject—especially white people, the targets of so much blame and hostility.

The Origin of the Races

It need not be this way. The basic facts about the races of mankind can be stated briefly and clearly. According to our best current information, human beings (i.e., the biological genus Homo) originated in Africa between two and three million years ago. From there, beginning about 1.8 million years ago, they spread out across Asia and Europe.

When any animal species spreads out across a large area, it encounters new environments which present different challenges to its survival. Individuals that would have done well in the original home environment may not do so well in the new one, and so may die or fail to reproduce. A few individuals may be better suited to the new environment than the old, and thus produce more offspring. New genetic mutations may multiply and spread in one area while they disappear in the other. Thus, over time, the animals in the new region become different both from their ancestors and from their cousins who remained in the ancestral region.

This process occurs in all sexually reproducing species, and is the driving force behind evolution. It also occurred with early human beings when they left Africa for Europe and Asia. Light skin, for example, is a harmful trait in tropical Africa, but is useful in northern latitudes which do not get as much sunlight. Hence, light skin remains a rare anomaly in Africa (mostly limited to albinos), whereas it gradually became the norm in Europe.

An Example of Racial Differences: Athletic Performance

There are countless areas in which the races may be compared and differences found. Let us begin by considering one narrow area: athletic performance. Ordinary sports fans cannot help noticing that certain sports are dominated by persons of a particular race. American basketball is dominated by Blacks, while the Olympic table-tennis gold medalists are usually East Asians. Whites dominate certain field events such as the shot put and the hammer throw.

Not only are such differences well-established; in most cases, they can be explained. For example, the dominance of international sprinting competitions by West Africans (or persons of West African descent) is due to at least six traits they share. As compared to wites and Asians, they have, on average, 1) longer legs, 2) narrower hips, 3) lower center of gravity, 4) lower body fat, 5) higher quantity of fast-twitch muscle tissue (useful for short bursts of speed), and 6) higher testosterone levels. With all these advantages, how could they not excel at sprinting?

Further Reading: Richard Lynn and Edward Dutton, Race and Sport: Evolution and Racial Differences in Sporting Ability (2015), is filled with fascinating data on differential performance by race in over fifty types of sporting competition, along with explanations of the patterns. Reviewed by F. Roger Devlin, The Occidental Quarterly, Spring 2016, “White Men Can’t Jump, Black Men Can’t Shot Put.”

Two Fallacies That Hinder Clear Thinking About Racial Differences

Reluctance to discuss or even to admit the existence of racial differences is commonly motivated by fear of possible invidious distinctions between “superior” and “inferior” races. To this our answer is twofold. First, racial differences always relate to some particular trait. West Africans may indeed be a “superior” race when it comes to sprinting. In reference to other traits, other races may be more gifted. No race is best in everything, and it is meaningless to speak of any race being superior per se. The recognition of racial differences in particular traits implies no such idea.

Second, the existence of racial differences does not logically imply that one race should rule over others or benefit at their expense. No one has ever claimed that the superiority of West Africans at sprinting entitles them to preferential treatment over whites and Asians. The same goes for all other races and all other traits. This may sound like an elementary point, but much opposition to the open discussion of racial differences is based upon a tacit assumption that recognizing such differences would ipso facto justify the mistreatment of one or more races. It is important to understand clearly that this is a fallacy.

Race and Intelligence

One of the more sensitive traits for which racial disparities have been found is average intelligence. In 1995, egalitarian liberals were scandalized by the publication of The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, because the book mentioned that, in America, average black IQ lags about fifteen points behind average white IQ (85 vs. 100). But this difference has been known to exist since the First World War, when the first IQ tests were administered to American soldiers. The Bell Curve merely popularized information that had long been familiar to specialists.

In fact, much larger differences can be found around the world. Black Africans have an average IQ of around 70. Australian Aborigines are even lower at 62. Northeast Asians, including Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, average 105, slightly higher than Europeans. Ashkenazi Jews average as high as 112 (or even higher according to some estimates).

Scholars who do not want to admit that races differ have gone to great lengths developing complicated theories to account for mysteries such as persistent African poverty and widespread Jewish success. Meanwhile, such observed facts are no mystery at all for those who understand that racial differences are natural and normal.

Some people perceive differences in intelligence and the ability to achieve economic success as unfair. It would be more accurate to say they are neither fair nor unfair, since no one is responsible for them; they are a natural product of different evolutionary histories. Is it “unfair” that Border Collies are more intelligent than Bulldogs? If so, who exactly is guilty of this “unfairness?”

In one respect it is actually heartening that differences in economic success can be explained by intelligence. Egalitarians usually teach that white/black disparities in America, e.g., are due to injustices committed by whites toward blacks (“racism”). In the absence of any evidence of a white conspiracy to harm blacks, they have developed elaborate theories of “institutional racism” for which they are not able to present much evidence. If it were generally understood that whites are not responsible for the inability of most blacks to match average white levels of academic and professional achievement, racial tensions in America would be greatly eased.

Some people admit that racial differences in intelligence exist, but deny that they are natural or genetic. In their view, such differences are caused by the conditions under which people grow up. Black Americans, for example, typically grow up in poorer families and less desirable neighborhoods than whites. But children of the wealthiest twenty percent of black families still do worse in school than children of the poorest twenty percent of white families. Studies of identical twins reared apart and of trans-racial adoptions make clear that intelligence correlates with genetic relatedness rather than early childhood environment. No champion of the “environmental” theory of racial differences has ever been able to explain these facts.

Another argument is that intelligence tests are “culturally biased” against blacks because they were developed by whites. But no one has ever explained why white test designers would have designed a test on which East Asians outscore whites. Moreover, recent intelligence tests avoid culturally specific references; they are based on pattern recognition involving geometrical shapes and numbers.

Further Reading: Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1995), chapter 13, “Ethnic Differences in Cognitive Ability.”

Richard Lynn, Racial Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis, 2nd edition (2016).

Race and Crime

Another sensitive area in which races may be compared is crime rates. Although it may be thought impolite to mention in mixed company, every American understands that black neighborhoods are more dangerous than white neighborhoods.

Detailed statistics on race and crime in America are kept by the FBI. Here are some highlights from this data:

* In 2013, black Americans were six times more likely to commit murder than non-blacks.

* In 2014 in New York City, blacks were 31 times more likely than whites to be arrested for murder, and Hispanics over 12 times more likely. Blacks were over 98 times more likely to be arrested for shooting (i.e., firing a bullet that hits someone) than whites, and Hispanics 23 times more likely. If New York were all white, the murder rate would drop by 91% and the shooting rate by 97%.

*Blacks are about 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice-versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.

* Hispanics commit violent crimes at about three times the white rate, while Asians commit violent crimes at about one quarter the white rate.

*Hispanics are 19 times more likely than whites to be members of youth gangs. Blacks are 15 times more likely, and Asians nine times more likely.

* Despite recent claims by the Black Lives Matter movement and others, evidence suggests that police shootings of blacks are not more common than would be predicted by black crime rates and likelihood to resist arrest.

* However, 2015 saw a disturbing rise in murder in major American cities that may be related to “depolicing” in response to intense media and public scrutiny of police activity.

Further Reading: The Color of Crime, New Century Foundation, 3rd edition (2016) and 2nd edition (2005).

The Preference for One’s Own

Much of today’s confused thinking about race stems from America’s unsuccessful effort of the past several decades to eliminate racial discrimination, i.e., people’s tendency to prefer those of their own race. There is abundant evidence from psychological research that people of all races do practice such discrimination, often unconsciously.

* Three-month-old infants look longer at faces of their own race than those of other races.

* When whites are shown short film clips of needles pricking white- and black-skinned hands, the sympathetic pain reaction is greater and pulse increases more noticably when the white hand is pricked. When blacks view the same clips, their reaction is greater for the black hands.

* When white and black people are shown pictures of strangers, the amygdala region in their brains displays heightened activity, indicating vigilance or wariness toward unfamiliar faces. But when the pictures are shown a second time, only the other-race faces provoke high amygdala activity: the brain perceives the same-race faces as “familiar” after only one viewing.

* Various studies have shown that people are more likely to perceive those of their own race as trustworthy and to associate positive qualities with them.

* People also find it easier to distinguish between faces of their own races than those of other races. This difference has been observed in children as young as three and a half months.

In fact, the only people who do not seem to have any preference for their own race are those who suffer from a condition called Williams Syndrome. They have no fear of strangers or the unknown, and are sometimes described as “hypersocial.” They are also usually retarded and suffer from other problems.

The preference for one’s own race is a product of our evolutionary history. For most of the time humans have lived upon the earth, we have lived in kinship-based hunter-gatherer bands of between fifty and a hundred individuals. Survival depended on cooperation within the group, even extending to a willingness of individuals to sacrifice themselves for their fellows. On the other hand, such groups were surrounded by similar, rival human bands. Survival also depended on an ability to compete successfully with these rivals. Relations between such bands, therefore, fluctuated between deep suspicion and murderous hatred. Humans became adapted to this state of affairs by developing a dual pattern of behavior: cooperation and altruism within the kin group, suspicion of those outside.

This evolutionary adaptation is still visible in its rawest form among man’s nearest evolutionary relatives, African chimpanzees, which unhesitatingly kill intruders found within the territory of their troop. Any chimp suffering from Williams Syndrome, and hence unable to distinguish between his own and rival troops, would not be likely to last long in the jungle.

Kin preference can also be observed much farther down the evolutionary scale. Beehives are kin groups, and bees are very good at perceiving degrees of relatedness when they must decide whether to admit other bees to their hive or block them as intruders. Even some plants that normally try to spread their root systems as widely as possible have been observed to accommodate the nearby root systems of closely related plants rather than competing against them for space.

What this means is that efforts to eliminate “racial discrimination” are fighting against a deeply rooted fact of our human nature, or even biological nature. Exhorting normal people not to prefer their own race is, therefore, about as likely to succeed as exhorting them never to get hungry or sleepy.

Moreover, it is almost exclusively white people who are being asked today not to prefer their own race to others. Blacks, Mexicans, Jews and others are allowed to form exclusive organizations and pursue their particular interests in America. Only whites are denounced as “racist” if they do this. In effect, whites are being told to disarm themselves in a competitive and often hostile world.

Further Reading: Jared Taylor, White Identity (2011), chapter 4, “The Science of Human Nature.”

Northern vs. Southern Races

As mentioned above, the various human races emerged when early humans migrated out of Africa. Perhaps the most important single environmental difference faced by these early humans was that much of the Eurasian landmass turns cold for several months of the year, and food is scarce during this time. It required intelligence, resourcefulness, foresight, and an ability to delay gratification (i.e., impulse control), for ancient hunter-gatherers to survive cold winters. People with these qualities were more successful raising children than those who lacked them, so humans in more northerly areas gradually became more intelligent and future-oriented than those who remained in the tropics. The higher intelligence and lower crime rates of whites and East Asians as compared with Africans may be due in large part to the selective pressure of cold winters.

Another important environmental change experienced by early humans migrating out of Africa was that many diseases common to tropical Africa (Malaria, Dengue, Chagas and others) are non-existent farther north. Such diseases were and still are a very common cause of death among black Africans. Since for most of the continent’s history the causes of such diseases were not understood, it was a matter of chance whether one caught them or not; there was nothing much one could do to avoid them.

Biologists distinguish two strategies that living organisms may employ in reproducing: one, labeled ‘r,’ involves high fertility with little or no parental investment in offspring once they are born; the other, labeled ‘K,’ involves lower fertility but higher investment in protecting and nurturing offspring. Organisms may be arranged along an r-K scale according to their fertility and level of parental investment. Oysters have half a billion offspring in a typical year and take no notice of them at all: they are extreme r strategists. Mammals and birds generally have fewer offspring but feed and care for them in early life. (Rabbits are a popular byword for fertility, but the twelve offspring they average per year come nowhere near the fertility of fish or amphibians.)

Humans are the most extreme K strategizers in all of nature: they seldom have more than one child per year and several over a lifetime, but typically devote much time and effort to raising them. However, not all human groups are equally K strategizers. Compared to white and Asian populations, black Africans are more fertile and tend to devote less time and effort to their offspring. The highest fertility rates in the world today are found in sub-Saharan Africa, where women have averaged as many as seven or eight children in recent years. African women begin having children early, but the fussy parenting style common to Europeans and Asians is not usually found among them; African children are often sent out to foster parents (commonly more distant relatives) so that the mother can turn her attention to producing more babies.

This relatively ‘r’ reproductive strategy of black Africans is a natural response to an environment in which diseases that seem to strike randomly are a leading cause of death. By having a lot of children, Africans increase the likelihood that some will live long enough to have children of their own.

At northern latitudes, on the other hand, the biggest threat to survival is the regular annual recurrence of winter, a threat which may be overcome by intelligence and forethought. These conditions favor a ‘K’ strategy of devoting more effort to preparing their children for the challenges they will face, rather than simply having more of them.

A whole host of measurable differences between the races can be explained in terms of r/K selection theory. Psychologist J. Philippe Rushton (1943 – 2012) found that East Asians average a larger brain size, greater intelligence, greater sexual restraint, slower rates of maturation, and greater law abidingness and social organization than those of other races. Black Africans are at the other extreme, while whites score in between (usually closer to East Asians than to Africans). He found that this same pattern prevailed for the racial averages of more than seventy traits. The consistency of this pattern provides important evidence that racial differences are objectively real, not a mere matter of “the color of one’s skin” or socially instilled prejudice.

Further reading: J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution and Behavior, 2nd abridged edition, (2000).

Race and High Achievement

A small fraction of the human race—inventors, explorers, scientists and artists—have made particularly large contributions to history and the lives of modern men. It is more difficult to define and quantify high achievement than intelligence or crime rates, but Bell Curve coauthor Charles Murray has made one of the more rigorous attempts in his later book Human Accomplishment (2003). His results will not surprise anyone with a little education, but are an embarrassment to egalitarians and multiculturalists.

For the simple truth is that the overwhelming majority of great accomplishments in history have been the work of White men living in Europe or, more recently, North America.

As mentioned above, White Europeans are not, on average, the most intelligent people in the world. Clearly, something more than mere intelligence is needed for great accomplishment. There is considerable evidence that East Asians are more conformist than Europeans, making them less likely to venture into the uncharted waters where new discoveries may be found. Recent research has found a possible genetic cause for this.

Since Jewish emancipation in the nineteenth century, Jews have contributed mightily to the arts and sciences, but for centuries before that, the most gifted Jews had their attention engrossed by trade or the study of the Talmud, and contributed little to the march of discovery and invention. Clearly, there are cultural preconditions for great accomplishment as well as genetic preconditions.

Desperate efforts are being made today by fashionable academics to deny the obvious fact of Western achievement. Some attribute it to a multi-millennial run of dumb luck; others try to make out Chinese accomplishment to have been more impressive; others still claim Western superiority did not begin until the Industrial Revolution of the Nineteenth Century. A good account of such attempts to rewrite history in an anti-Western direction is Ricardo Duchesne, “Multicultural Historians: The Assault on Western Civilization and Defilement of the Historical Profession,” Part 1, Part 2. For more detail, see Duchesne’s book The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (2011).


I hope you have found this material interesting and informative. It is, however, somewhat simplified, so here are a few caveats:

There was not just one exodus from Africa 1.8 million years ago; there have been many, with the most recent significant expansion occurring as recently as 50,000 years ago. Today’s races are the result of a complicated history of interbreeding between earlier and later arrivals. Many of the details are still matters of controversy, and likely to be affected by future fossil discoveries. (The African Diaspora of the past five hundred years is too recent to have had much in the way of evolutionary effects thus far.)

Also, while IQ tends to be hereditary, it is not completely so. Other factors, like sub-optimal nutrition, illness, and injury, may have a negative influence on intelligence. Poor nutrition may explain why Africans have a lower average IQ than American Blacks. Recent research seems to indicate that what is hereditary is the highest IQ one may attain under optimal environmental conditions. Circumstances may intervene to lower a particular person’s IQ, but there don’t seem to be circumstances that can raise it above the individual’s genetically determined potential.

Cold winters are not a sufficient cause of high intelligence or the other “K” traits. If they were, Eskimos ought to be the most intelligent people on earth. They are, in fact, the world’s most intelligent hunter-gatherers, but on average they are not as smart as Europeans or East Asians. What’s holding the Eskimos back is that they are a very small population—not more than several thousand in pre-modern times—and spread over a very wide area. Helpful genetic mutations occur more often in larger populations, and they spread more easily in dense populations. For this reason, the world’s smartest people live in moderately cold climates, but not so cold as to make large, dense populations unsustainable. Thus, in Europe, we find the highest intelligence in Finland and the Germanic countries (German, Dutch, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian) rather than in Lappland; in Asia, we find that Chinese and Japanese are more intelligent than the tiny native tribes of Siberia.

In other words, a short essay like this is not enough to make you an expert on racial differences. Research is ongoing on many points. But it is a beginning, and enough to help you see through a great deal of ill-informed propaganda

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