Pre-empted by a professional!

I had been planning to write a blog piece challenging the socialist assumption (espoused also by our Lib-Dem coalition partners like Clegg and Cable) that all children are created equal, and therefore that any bias in the university admission system in favour of the sharp-elbowed middle classes was prima facie evidence of “unfairness”.  But sadly, Jeff Randall of the Telegraph got there first, and has written an excellent analysis of the problem: .
For me, his key paragraph is:  Good parenting can overcome class barriers, but there is another ingredient that matters even more, one which very few politicians are willing to acknowledge: IQ. According to Professor Saunders: “Half of the explained variance in the occupational destinations achieved by the 1958 birth cohort was due to just one variable – how well they scored on an IQ test when they were aged 11. This is a much better predictor of their eventual fate than class… school… or any other social factor.”
Two basic facts of life: First, on the whole, people with higher IQs tend to do better in life, are more likely to get into professional jobs, and to earn above-average incomes.  They will therefore tend to gravitate towards the middle classes.  And conversely those with a lower IQ will generally (not always) do less well and tend to gravitate to lower-paid occupations and to what we used to call the working classes.
Second fact: High-IQ parents will tend (usually not always) to have brighter kids, who will gravitate to university, while lower-IQ parents will tend to have lower-IQ kids, who are less likely to be university material.  This is called “heredity”.
Therefore the perceived “Middle Class Bias” in university entry is not evidence of “unfairness”, but rather a simple recognition of the real world.
Now before I find myself featured in the diary columns of the Guardian or Private Eye (again!), let me be clear about what I am not saying.  I am not saying that all poor people are thick.  I am not saying that all upper-class toffs are brilliant.  I am merely saying that broadly speaking, on a statistical basis, most often bright people gravitate upwards and less bright people don’t.  Frankly, the fact that I feel the need to justify and explain such a straightforward and obvious observation is a sad comment on the socialist-egalitarian assumptions of much of our media.
Memo to Clegg and Cable: University entry should be based on ability and aptitude, not on a misplaced conception of fairness, not on social engineering aspirations, and still less on whether the applicant went to a state school or not.
And what, you may ask, of the bright kid from a poor background, who may be raised in a home with few books and perhaps no ethos of effort, achievement and success?  We used to have a route out of deprivation and poverty for such children.  It was called the Grammar School.  But unfortunately the Conservative leadership has set its face against selective education, so we have kicked the ladder away.

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6 Responses to Pre-empted by a professional!

  1. an ex-tory voter says:

    I assume your mention of the “Conservative leadership” refers to the current leadership of the Conservative Party. It could not possibly refer to the leadership of a conservative movement as there does not appear to be a conservative amongst the current leadership.

  2. Sean O'Hare says:

    I take your point to a large extent. The only thing that slightly grates with me is that I was denied entry to my local grammar school way back in 1956, not because my 11+ result wasn’t good enough, but because I came from a working class “broken home”, or at least that was what was conveyed to my mother at the time.

  3. Emil says:

    “Two basic facts of life” … so, should we breed out the stoopid people ?

    Heredity does not work that way, not even in horses, or we’d already have one blood line that would win all the races.

    Since when did eugenics get popular among conservatives ?

    • Since when did eugenics get popular? Perhaps since people like you started asking “should we breed out the stupid people?”. You have put an entirely (and maliciously) false construction on my comments. And heredity DOES work like that — which is why a thoroughbred is different from a shire horse.

  4. Norman Peacock says:

    Dear Roger,

    I am from a working class background and have quite a high IQ. When I attended university I was amazed at how many thick middle class people where also there. Coming from my humble roots I thought they would all be really smart. I realise now that you don’t have to be smart to pass exams.

    That these people get through the system and into high positions of responsibility must be having a devastating effect on our country. Would you perhaps support an IQ test for all MP’s, MEP’s and high paid public servants in an order to root them out?

    I would also like to include members of the royal family in this. It is outrageous to think that our head of state could have an IQ of less than 100.

    • I don’t call for IQ tests for the middle classes. But most people who have made any progress in life have usually (not always) had some success in education and exams, which broadly correlates with IQ. And all MPs/MEPs have fought their way through fairly rigorous selection procedures.

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