Racially Biased IQ Tests and the Death of Billy

When I was in college a Sociology teacher was explaining some of the many biases with IQ tests. Regional, economic, linguistic and racial. The teacher, an African-American himself, tried out some of the cultural questions from an IQ test designed for an African-American person.

Well, I’m as pasty white skinned as they come (as the late George Carlin used to say about sun-tanning, Irish Catholics go to the beach in an effort to neutralize the blue, never mind getting a tan), but I seemed to be able to answer the questions. I chalk it up to my love of music from the fifties and sixties, even if I wasn’t around until 1959. The one question from the test I remember is simply “Who shot Billy?”. While my classmates insisted there had to be more information available to answer that question (i.e. Billy who?), however it was clear to me that Stagger Lee shot Billy!

So it was with much interest that I came across this archival newspaper article the other day.





DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

One thought on “Racially Biased IQ Tests and the Death of Billy

  1. I think there’s more likelihood of middle-class white kids knowing Black culture than vice versa. Ideally, it would be good if they could figure out a way of doing testing that’s essentially culture-free — but I’m not sure it’s possible. Also, IQ tests test what IQ tests test … and that’s not necessarily intelligence.

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