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Smart and Rich? Scholar Says Poor People Have Lower IQ

Dr. Bruce Charlton, an evolutionary English scholar, just submitted a paper that argues that the poor are intellectually mediocre. He claims that:

The UK Government has spent a great deal of time and effort in asserting that universities, especially Oxford and Cambridge, are unfairly excluding people from low social class backgrounds and privileging those from higher social classes. Yet in all this debate a simple and vital fact has been missed: higher social classes have a significantly higher average IQ than lower social classes.

He thinks that top schools are overwhelmingly populated with wealthy students as a result of the working class "meritocracy", not admission prejudice.

Charlton's tone, which seems to suggest that the poor are genetically inferior, is bothersome. Families working hard just to get by may not have the resources or time to foster their children's early education. Should higher education institutions and society in general take steps to correct the educational inequalities between the classes?

Do you see a class bias in IQ testing, or educational practices? Do the admission standards of elite universities exclude equally qualified students from working class families, or are there subconscious systematic factors at play here. Do universities have a responsibility to help those with a disadvantaged upbringing fulfill their potential?


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Myrik Myrik 8 years
I grew up very poor, no running water or electricity repeatedly due to bills and depts preventing bills from getting paid. I fought hard and had good teachers growing up. I wanted to help others and did a lot of research into various social programs. As a fairly wealthy adult I was one of those who defied the statistics and made it. Then I found out I had an IQ of 138. I purchased real estate which I offered to families free to take part in programs I came up with. We made jobs with on the job training to try to teach advanced skills like software development. Truth of the matter is the people the program was successful for was those with a higher iq. It is a fact that iq relates to social class. Social mobility also strongly correlates to the small percentage that change social class. If there was a way to the number of hurdles a person jumps by adulthood I am sure it would also correlate. I think merit is the best means of admission, and I think providing tools to all social economic classes is the best way to insure our brightest kids regardless of social class get into the top schools. Statistically I would expect this to more closely match ability rather than social class in a true meritocracy. But under no case would I expect in a meritocracy for social class not correspond to wealth or the system would be broken.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
My dad was born and raised in the projects in New Bedford and now owns a million dollar house in East Greenwich so blondie01 has a point. A nearby town full of affluent people has a school system without art and music because the citizens won't vote for the prop 2 1/2 override that keeps the town from raising taxes. The schools used to be one of the best districts in the system and now it is one of the worst. So unless parents pull thier children out of public school, there will be some rich kids with poor educations.
Megatron Megatron 9 years
Totally, Lyv! That's what it seems like. This argument sounds like it comes from the 1800s or something...
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 9 years
As a teacher of poor students I see this everyday. Poor kids, not working class (I think those are two different categories.) Some of our parents don't work and haven't had a job for a long time. The sucess of a child's education comes from parental support in most cases. If these kids don't have parents at home telling them the importance of education then they don't have much motivation to do well in school. I see this sort of thing on a daily basis. Brilliant minds are not getting used to their fullest potential because no one is telling them the importance of an education. I try my best to get my students to realize their potential and the importance of working hard in school but that is not enough. It has to start at home!
Lyv Lyv 9 years
First witch-burning in Kenya and now this. Is it Middle Age Celebration week or something?
stephley stephley 9 years
From a Time magazine article last year: "In the latest study on the effects of popular videos such as the "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby" series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers." "Three studies have shown that watching television, even if it includes educational programming such as Sesame Street, delays language development. "Babies require face-to-face interaction to learn," says Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "They don't get that interaction from watching TV or videos."
idawson idawson 9 years
"As for buying products to increase a baby's intelligence - which products have actually been proven to do that? It's the interaction with the parent that helps the baby, not the product." Not sure what products are proven to increase IQs and the like but I know parents buy Baby Einstein and the like to stimulate a child's intellectual development. maybe a parent can cite something more specific. i only speak as an auntie.
idawson idawson 9 years
yes - at greater income levels resources for learning and development are in greater supply than at the lower end of the scale. invariably as one progresses through education and life as a whole early access to these resources will probably secure your success or lack thereof in life. to me iq as a figure is not part of the equation. as someone who is from an economically disadvantaged rearing i always did okay on these types of test but i never took much stock in them. i relied mostly on my curiosity to learn and drive to achieve. and i think many people do also. sort of related but not really i remember watching a show years ago that postulated that there are several types and forms of intelligence just not our standard understanding of the term intelligence.
stephley stephley 9 years
I listed the Rockefellers and the Kennedys because they are large rich families yet there only three are on Capitol Hill - and Rockefeller & Patrick Kennedy aren't major powers. The Astors are quite stinkin' rich yet, as you say, are not as rich as they once were - they don't really rock the world and with all that money, shouldn't they still? How could a family so blessed see their fortunes decrease? Prince Charles himself has joked about his intelligence: the royals are not known for their intellectual abilities and someone who's been trained in public speaking and appearances since birth probably can pull off sounding smart in a brief speech (and remember, he has speech writers). Meanwhile, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington were born slaves. Born in 1909, Thurgood Marshall was descended from slaves - he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1967. Why haven't the intelligent rich people done more and how did the poor blacks do so much? As for buying products to increase a baby's intelligence - which products have actually been proven to do that? It's the interaction with the parent that helps the baby, not the product.
janneth janneth 9 years
Tuition free, reserved only for the poorest.
janneth janneth 9 years
If universities want to stop excluding the poor, they should create excellent middle schools for them. It is way to late to catch up at the university level. Oxford Middle School.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
That last sentenced was worded clumsily... I meant class as far as income level is concerned. Too late for me to be thinking critically, at least at my income level. ;)
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
If as you say, it is purely up to the individual, then why do so many parents bother with all the methods/products designed to increase their babies' IQ in their infancy? Even prenatal nutrition and whether or not a child is breastfed has been shown to have an impact on IQ. It doesn't seem like that far of a leap to think that a higher income would allow for more of the "perks" that allow a child to exercise his/her mind. From my own experience, in all of my honors and AP classes in high school I was surrounded overwhelmingly by upper-middle class kids, despite most of the student body being lower to middle class. I'm not quite sure why you posted those examples you posted. I know of at least one Rockefeller and one Kennedy serving in the Senate, and the Astors' fortunes have declined dramatically in the 1900's. Prince Charles graduated from Cambridge University, probably pure nepotism, but every time I've heard him speak he's sounded more intelligent than the average person, and Prince William did quite a decent job at St. Andrews. And American blacks are still disproportionately lower class, although there are other factors than just intelligence at work.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Thank you for sharing blondie01. Great point. :)
blondie01 blondie01 9 years
my parents grew up in low income families. However my father worked very hard in school, ended up top of his class in med school and became a successful doctor. There are scholarships out there and if you work hard enough, regardless of your financial stance, you can make it
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I admit that I have not read the full article or all of the responses. But I can't help but think about a interview with Chris Rock, where he is asked if America is ready for a black president. His response..."Why not? We already have a retarded one!" Don't tell me Dubya got to be where he is because of his brains.
stephley stephley 9 years
The keys for rich people having an advantage would be 'ability to comprehend' and 'profit from experience.' Advantages lay the riches of knowledge and experience before you, it is up to the individual to determine what happens from there. If the Professor is right just for the past century, shouldn't the Kennedy children, the Rockefellers, the Astors and the Carnegies all be prominent leaders today? Shouldn't the British royal family be stunning in their brilliance by now? How can he explain how American blacks came from slavery to where they are today?
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
"Intelligence refers to your inate CAPACITY for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity..." I disagree, slightly. Intelligence is defined as the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience. It's an ability like any other that to a certain extent can be improved with practice and the right environment, not some predetermined random destiny. To me, it doesn't seem to be much of a stretch to assume that coming from a privileged background with all of the associated opportunities you mentioned would play a significant part in a person's ability to think, especially if they had parents that weren't complete nutbags like the Hiltons. I think Silverlining brought up a great point about ambition. It can make up for a great deal of disadvantages.
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
Also, I'm not sure if intelligence alone will suffice. There needs to be ambition. I know many bright people who aren't rich, but they aren't ambitious, either. Then, there are others who work their butts off, and even if they aren't in Mensa, they are still successful. I don't think people who have climbed up to the top from the bottom have to/are brilliant...They just have to be determined and goal-driven.
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
stephley, that was great! What he's suggesting is ridiculous! Of course richer people have greater opportunities. I mean, does he not understand how expensive exceptional private high schools are? How much SAT tutoring every month is? How much golf lessons or whatever sport lessons cost? How about music lessons every month? What about private tutoring? I think if I my parents could shell out a few grand every month to keep my grades at a 4.0, my SAT scores at a 2200 or better, and play sports and instruments well, I could have gotten into Harvard. No doubt in my mind. The reality was, my high schools didn't really provide tutoring, SAT tutoring was at least $300 a month (or I suppose free for one session every year), and my parents both worked...They couldn't chauffeur me to practice and shell out another $50-100/hour for lessons.
stephley stephley 9 years
Intelligence refers to your inate CAPACITY for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; having money early in life fosters the availability of information, the luxury of time to study and explore, the availability of teachers and companions. So yes, there can be a bias in IQ testing and society benefits when it supports the less advantaged. Oprah and the famous surgeon Ben Carson were poor as children - as Raci pointed out, Paris Hilton was not.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree with the assessment, if it is looking at first generation rich people. I know of many (7) family members who grew up poor, but now have very nice salaries. These family members are very smart and very driven to be successful (They are also the first-born in their families). These family members also have younger siblings who aren't as intelligent, or as driven, and they don't have near the education, and don't have near the salary of the older sibling. I think there is more to this than just intelligence, but inteligence plays a big role.
hmcmcd hmcmcd 9 years
That's funny stephley!
stephley stephley 9 years
From the brillance of Dr. Charlton's theory, are we safe to assume he was born poor?
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