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I read a disturbing column by Michael Barone in a recent edition of The Herald-Dispatch. He reviewed a recent book by Charles Murray, “Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America.” The book asserts that blacks exhibit lower cognitive abilities and they commit crimes at a much higher rate. That might be true, but it doesn’t answer the question why.

Is the answer in the genes or the environment? Is it nature or nurture? West Virginia is the least diverse state in the union. We’re practically all white. If the answer is in our genes, we should be awash in Nobel Laureates. I searched the web for an article about the average IQ test scores among the 50 states. I found an article by Michael McDaniel, formally a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. His findings were later published in the Washington Post. He listed the test scores of each state. Massachusetts was Number 1 and Mississippi was Number 50. We came in at Number 37. How can that be? We’re three rungs lower than Kentucky.

Seriously, it’s all about poverty and environment. To what are you exposed and what examples do you see on a daily basis? When I was an auditor for the Tax Department, I visited some of the southern coal counties. One educator told me they have trouble getting kids interested in education because daddy makes a lot more money than the teachers. He’s a coal miner. In another county, an official told me there are sections of the county where the sheriff won’t go. He might get shot.

Rural Appalachia and poor sections of big cities have a lot in common. We all know smart Blacks and dumb Whites. It’s not in the genes. When it comes to our dog Marshall, it is in the genes. He will never develop a vaccine for coronavirus.

John Schurman


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