In Which Andrew Sullivan Is Unfairly Attacked

One wouldn’t have thought it possible, but I actually largely agree with Andrew Sullivan. The notion that intelligence is not heritable is ludicrous, and if it is, the notion that every “race” is going to be equivalent in that regard is equally so.

Yes, I know that (Marxist) Stephen Jay Gould desperately attempted to make the case, but he failed. I have no firm opinions on which “race” is smarter than which (and yes, one can agree that race is a social construct while also recognizing that groups of genetically related people will share some inherited traits), but I don’t believe the acceptance of the notion that some are born smarter than others, and that some genetic groups may be on average smarter than others makes one a racist per se. Moreover, I don’t even care, since this fact should play no role in either public policy or individual interactions. The only people who believe that it should are collectivists, who believe that people should be dealt with as groups rather than individuals. Thus, if anyone is racists, it is them.

[Update in the afternoon]

It should be noted that I am not defending The Bell Curve or any specific research. I’ve never even read it. I’m simply defending the notion that different “races” could have different average “intelligence.”

64 thoughts on “In Which Andrew Sullivan Is Unfairly Attacked

  1. MPM

    Is it really that improbable that differences between races would be negligible or are you merely saying there easily could be differences?

      1. MPM

        Could be. I have no strong opinion either way, it could be more like skin pigmentation where there are obvious differences or more like body temperature where I don’t think there are any significant differences. But I’ve read that on IQ tests there are clear differences between races as well as between sexes (though in the standard deviation, not the mean).

        1. RDX

          It seems highly unlikely that the science of race would align with whatever political stance that liberals are taking today, especially when the liberal political stance on race is so mutable and self-contradictory. It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of “diversity” that’s become so chic and mainstream would itself be considered racist, essentialist nonsense.

          While it’s nice that we’re finally starting to hear about the science of physiological (brain) differences between the races, it’s a shame it’s taken us so long to get here, and worse that we’ve still got such a long way to go.

  2. Al

    It’s always worth noting that ‘smarter’ is a fuzzy question anyway.

    A brilliant spatial reasoner isn’t necessarily a cunning linguist. A eidetic memory doesn’t grant competence in logic.

    I’d find it very interesting to see the -sub-categories investigated.

        1. MICHAEL DEAN MILLER

          .

          That was a clever use of that phrase. Congratulations.

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to my food storage preps and finish canning linguini.

          .

    1. Sarah

      My husband and I are living proof of this. I am ALL verbal and test somewhere near the bottom on spacial/visual (though I’ve learned to use verbal to compensate and thus my overall performance is high-ish. Yes, it can be done.) My husband is all numerical/visual and has to work for verbal (which has NOT stopped him being a published writer, so, again, you can compensate. It just doesn’t come naturally.) We perform at about the same level on the same things, UNLESS it is required we work together and explain our process to each other, when we can drive each other (and our kids who hear the screaming) nuts. So. We don’t work together. EVER. Other than that, bah. As for racial differences — WHY would we believe they don’t exist? Same for gender differences. Evolutionary pressures shaped each group differently, no? BUT groups aren’t individuals, and the collective means nothing for the individual. There are ALWAYS outliers. I say take each person by him or herself. Stop group quotas. Tell the Marxists to go hang. Allow opportunities for talented individuals in EVERY field. Stop giving people soft ball requirements because they’re under represented. When every one does what they’re best at, everyone wins. And if someone doesn’t like that they can’t perform up to par in his/her chosen field, fine and dandy. Work harder. Work smarter. Meet the requirements. And stop WHINING. That works. (I’m not an engineer because I wasn’t willing to work hard ENOUGH. Too bad. I’d be a lousy engineer, since I’m not willing to work hard ENOUGH. Better for everyone I’m a writer and once-upon-a-time translator.)

  3. Kurt

    Although Gould and Henry Louis Gates and others like to say that race is a fictional social construct, that claim rests on somewhat outdated science, as I understand it. DNA analysis establishes that certain population groups are susceptible to certain genetic diseases, for instance, such as sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease, and likewise, there are statistically noticeable differences with other kinds of characteristics in other broad areas of performance (such as analysis showing higher IQ among Ashkenazi Jews, for instance), but as you say, only a racist would try to track those differences and to use them for guiding public policy. And that’s why the articles you linked to yesterday about the Klan’s connections with Progressivism are so noteworthy and important. The Democrat party has always been full of racists, only in the era of affirmative action, they try to present their racism in the most paternalistic terms available, and usually the media and the leaders of minority groups usually fall for it.

    1. submandave

      YES! The idea that people sharing a common “race” (as identified by physical appearance and skin color) may have measurable biological differences from people of another “race” (e.g. susceptibility to sickle cell anemia and specific forms of cancer), but that these differences can not possibly include physical structure or function of the brain is plainly a stupid position to doggedly try to defend. Given the past history, however, of some to use the assumed intellectual inferiority of a “race” as justification for discriminatory policy, however, I can certainly understand Gates’ and other’s tendency to view any discussion in that area with suspicion. I believe, however, that we must get several generations past those who had direct experience with such legal discrimination before honest scientific inquiry of the question can be reasonally conducted.

  4. Bob-1

    Sub-Saharan Africa has, by far, the most human genetic diversity. Or, in other words, “black” is even more of a social construct than other racial groupings.

    1. Titus

      Race is a social construct in the context of checking boxes on federal forms, but a reality in the context of Darwin.

        1. Bob-1

          Do you agree or disagree wit the following claim:

          “the distinction between a species and a subspecies depends only on the likelihood that in the absence of external barriers the two populations would merge back into a single, genetically unified population. It has nothing to do with ‘how different’ the two groups appear to be to the human observer.”

        2. Bob-1

          Do you agree or disagree with the following claim:

          “The distinction between a species and a subspecies depends only on the likelihood that in the absence of external barriers the two populations would merge back into a single, genetically unified population. It has nothing to do with ‘how different’ the two groups appear to be to the human observer.”

          1. George Turner

            It gets a little murkier, because lots of species can produce successful hybrids. Almost all ducks can interbreed, and they also interbreed with geese, which interbreed with swans, potentially creating flocks of sweese.

            Now that we have DNA analysis, we’ve learned that quite a few bird species are just stable hybrids of two neighboring species.

  5. Boston Patriot

    Yes! Yes! Yes! You hit the nail on the head: “The only people who believe that it should are collectivists, who believe that people should be dealt with as groups rather than individuals. Thus, if anyone is racists, it is them.”

    I believe Ayn Rand once said: a genius in a group of idiots is still a genius, and an idiot in a group of geniuses is still an idiot. Collectivists are the TRUE racists.

    1. Kurt

      Yeah, the page does seem to have a lot of problems loading today. Eventually it shows the grey background, but it takes a while.

  6. Ken Mitchell

    But I think it’s easily demonstrated that the INDIVIDUAL differences between INDIVIDUALS greatly swamp any COLLECTIVE influence. Asians may, in general, be a couple of IQ points more intelligent than whites, but any Asian person may or may not be notably more (or less!) intelligent than a particular Caucasian person.

    And were these genetic differences or cultural differences? Or might it be an influence of hybrid vigor? The stereotypical Japanese of the 1930’s was short and small in stature. Japanese people who moved to America and married other 100% Japanese people (but from different villages, reducing the inbreeding effect of small towns) had children larger than either parent. The 3rd generation Americans of (100%) Japanese ancestry, raised on American foods and with American standards of nutrition, are the sizes of most other Americans.

    Genetics? Nutrition? Culture? Some combination of all three, plus other unknown factors? Probably.

    1. Aaron B.

      It’s true that individual variations (in anything) within groups far exceed variations between groups, and therefore the group differences shouldn’t matter. They only do matter because our elites base public policy on the belief that there are no group differences in cognitive ability, punishing a business for not hiring enough from certain groups, or a school for not getting above-average performance from its particular mix of students.

      Billions of dollars are being spent — and people’s jobs are made to depend — on the notion that there are no cognitive differences between racial groups (or that cognitive abilities are entirely malleable and only the result of environment and study). If that belief is incorrect, much of that money will be wasted, schemes will be tried that are destined to fail, schemes that might help will be shunned because they imply uncomfortable ideas, and people will lose their jobs over something that’s out of their control.

  7. Buckland

    Why is it different to say that one human group is better at, say solving math problems than it is to say one human group is at playing conrnerback in the NFL. I’m guessing that cornerbacks are nearly 100% of African descent. Are the very best cornerbacks populated by one racial group by chance? No, I’m guessing it’s because they have inherited gifts that make them better.

    The same with solving math problems or reading or spatial abilities or logical reasoning. Some people are better than others, and pieces of those abilities are passed via genetics to the next generation.

    Sully’s the proverbial stopped clock. Occasionally he IS right.

  8. Sardondi

    In ultra-condensed form, the gravamen of Rand’s response to Gawker’s lunatic accusation of AS seems to be, “Aw, c’mon man!”. And it’s an excellent and appropriate response.

    But I wonder if Sully will acknowledge and appreciate (or even recognize) 1) Rand’s intellectual honesty in his rejection of partisanship in favor of consistent application of principle; or 2) the irony that the “Aw, c’mon!” response was also the most appropriate response to his own scary obsession with Trig Palin.

    The smart money is on a “No” answer to all.

  9. DANEgerus

    I’m always impressed when Andrew Sullivan can complete two sentences without collapsing into a spittle-flecked rage about ‘Trig Palin’. So if his fellow lefties want to Politically Correct him… oh… so sorry hater.

  10. Larry J

    IMO, for some things, genetics is deterministic. For example, you natual eye and hair colors are determined by genetics. For others, genetics establishes potentials which may or may not be achieved as a result of environmental factors. For example, a child born of tall parents may inherit the genes to grow tall. However, if that child suffers from a poor diet, he may never growth to his genetic potential height. I think intelligence falls into this category. A child may conceived with a genetic potential to be very intelligent but a poor environment (to include both nutrition and intellectual stimulation) may keep him from realizing his potential.

  11. Joseph Hertzlinger

    There are theoretical and empirical reasons to believe group differences in measured IQ are both genetic and important. On the other hand, there were theoretical and empirical reasons to believe similar ideas in the past that turned out not be the case. In addition, some of the most fervent advocates for the claim are would-be totalitarians, which makes adopting the idea much riskier than skepticism.

    In other words, “human biodiversity” resembles anthropogenic global warming.

  12. Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    Regional varieties of humans differ systematically in their ability to metabolize alcohol (liver function), to metabolize milk protein and milk sugar (digestive system function). They differ systematically in their resistance to infectious disease (immune system function), in height (skeletal system “function”), height to vital capacity ratio (respiratory system function), and the melanin content of their skin. The brain is an evolved organ. What reason is there to believe that, of all organs, of all species, this one organ in this one species somehow became exempt from natural selection 200,000 years ago?
    Gould’s Marxism was more important than his Darwinism.
    Evolution is not over, and evolution needs variation. What cries out for explanation is why people who resist this obvious point do so. The people who insist on genetic equality of nervous system function often occupy positions that require certification of intellect. It’s false generosity on their part to grant, at no cost to themselves, to strangers what they value in themselves and to deny to enemies the same quality (note how often some variety of “stupid” appears in academic attacks on Republicans).

  13. Kurt

    Following up on Rand’s point about “subspecies” and Jim Davis’s point about “a very extended family,” another way of looking at it might be to make a very loose analogy with dog or cat breeds. Now while dog or cat breeds have been selectively bred and interbred to highlight certain characteristics, certain population groups have also historically reproduced with others in the same general population group, and so it stands to reason that certain traits or characteristics which are valued by that group would be more common in people who are part of that “extended family.”
    So to follow up on the analogy, while it may be true that statistically speaking, Border Collies are reputed to be the “smartest” of dog breeds, it is also true that that statement says nothing about the ability of any individual dog within that breed (or the ability of any individual dog of any other breed).

  14. Just a thought

    Take a hundred Asian kids from anywhere in the world at random = say, age 12.

    Take a hundred African/African-American kids from anywhere in the world at random = say, age 18.

    Put both groups through similar IQ tests.

    Now, try to convince yourself at this very moment that you don’t already have a bit of a preconceived idea what the results will roughly be and who will achieve the highest scores – individually, on average, the mean, etc.

    Is it one’s own biases? Our own upbringing and what we ourselves perceive? Is it experience?

  15. Shannon Love

    It is often missed in discussions of the history of race that the world “race” itself has changed definition over the last 150+ years.

    Prior to the 1880s, the concept attached to the word “race” was very much the same as our modern concept of species. You commonly read references in text of the era to the “race of dogs” or the “race of horses.” The word race was not used exclusively to describe humans until the late 1920s. So, most of the racial theories of the 19th were actually treating humans of different races as separate species.

    Past 1880, the word “race” became attached to a concept akin to our modern usage of “breed” i.e. meaning a distinct variation with unique attributes. Just as some dog breeds are genetically smarter, faster, stronger, more aggressive or more gentle than other breeds, it was thought that different human “breeds” had genetically significant strengths and weaknesses.

    Our modern concept of race, that it represents minor, largely cosmetic variations arouse only in the scientific literature in the late 1930s and did not become common until the 1950s.

    So, when you talk about different stances on the relative merits of each “race”, the actual substance of the discussion is much different depending on what era the discussion came from. People talking about “race” in 1900 weren’t talking about the same thing as people talking about race now.

    That is why Gould et al could say that there is no scientific basis for “races” while others say there is. There isn’t a scientific basis for “races” meaning separate species or subspecies but there is a scientific basis for “races” meaning distinct groups of variations. The later can be easily determined by modern genetic testing e.g. a geneticist can tell if a person will be described by society and themselves as black or white.

    1. Bob-1

      T”he later can be easily determined by modern genetic testing e.g. a geneticist can tell if a person will be described by society and themselves as black or white.”

      I don’t think this is true in a large number of cases.

      1. Curt Thomson

        From your wikipedia:

        The study found only .01% of genes account for a person’s external appearance.

        That is still a lot of genes. Your “large number of cases” is shrinking over time, trending to zero.

        Biological adaptation also plays a role in phenotype of bodily features and skin type. According to Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, “Skin color and body size are less subject to genetic influence since they are also affected by exposure to the sun and diet, but there is always a hereditary component that can be quite important.

      2. RDX

        “I don’t think this is true in a large number of cases.”

        You’re wrong. Genetic testing can detect which subpopulation a human belongs to at a level that is often better than general human perception. Detecting major racial group classification is easy: Black, white, asian, etc. Genetic testing will reveal if your ancestors come from the southern region of Widgetopia and have a preponderance of Gizmo ancestors.

        1. Bob-1

          There are plenty of cases where a person’s speech patterns, hair style and clothing choices, perceived level of education, etc can sway an audience toward thinking a person is one race or another, because the traditional racial categories are so ill-defined. An even bigger factor is the audience’s national culture: take the same person, put them in America, Cuba, Brazil, Egypt, and South Africa, ask a large group what race the person is, and you’ll get different answers in different countries.

          In part, I’m talking about case like this one: American actress Rashida Jones — white or black?

          But I’m also talking about more cut-and-dried cases. Here’s an easy one: show many Americans a picture of an Australian Aborigine, ask them what race the person is, and a lot of people will say “Black” or “African” or “African-American”. The second and third answers are obviously wrong, and I’ll assume you understand what is wrong, from a biological point of view, with lumping together Black Africans and Australian Aborigines. And then there are the Dobe !Kung, etc… … “Black” is too ill-defined to have any use.

          There are various websites that make this point better than I can. Here’s one that uses text:
          http://understandingrace.org/lived/who_is/index.html
          (It is a survey of “who is white?”)
          There is another one out there that uses pictures — maybe it is on the same site…

          1. Curt Thomson

            A DNA test will not only identify your Australian Aborigine, it will also identify what geographic region of Australia he comes from. Far better than general human perception. And eventually it will identify a lot more than that. It’s called genetic determinism Bob.

          2. Bob-1

            Curt,

            I’m arguing with this claim: ” The later can be easily determined by modern genetic testing e.g. a geneticist can tell if a person will be described by society and themselves as black or white.”

            You must think I’m arguing with some other claim.

          3. Curt Thomson

            Modern genetic testing can determine what someone looks like. From there, determining how a particular segment of society would describe that person is non-trivial but straightforward.

    2. Conrad

      “You commonly read references in text of the era to the ‘race of dogs’ or the ‘race of horses.’”

      Ah, but those were references to dog-racing and horse-racing!

  16. Mike

    Was Gould a Marxist? He said no. Did he “make the case”? Yes or no, you offer no evidence. Then you equate “race”, the number of which is always quite limited, to genetic relation, and quite conveniently, since it moves the goalposts, as it were. Race was Sullivan’s point. If there are races, I hope we’re in different ones. Were the both of you warned to keep away from Occam’s Razor lest you cut yourselves?

    1. George Turner

      Gould’s reputation suffered an enormous blow when some scientists re-measured the skulls he famously measured for “The Mismeasure of Man.” The early scientists he accused of racial bias were exhonerated. If anything, their measurements were biased in the opposite directon than Gould accused them of. It was Gould who was lying about cranial measurements.

  17. JamesG

    Gould and his work have actually become a handy-dandy IQ test. Whenever I encounter anyone expressing admiration for his views I know I’m dealing with my intellectual inferior and act accordingly.

    1. Joseph Hertzlinger

      Didn’t you know that Steven Jay Gould was a right-wing mole?

      The three fundamental pillars of left-wing ideology nowadays are:

      1) Religion is always irrational. (Sometimes this is turned around and a fashionable twit will join some nut cult on the grounds it’s “spiritual.”)

      Gould often pointed out how clergymen have been scientists and how supposedly laughable religious ideas made sense in context.

      2) If someting is found in that stagnant swamp known as the “mainstream” it must be the Truth.

      Gould pointed out examples of commonly accepted ideas or phrases being passed around society without any attempt to verify them.

      3) In order to know if something is true or not you just have to find out if it’s the wave of the future.

      Gould even pointed out how yesterday’s “progressives” backed racist programs.

      In any case, Gould’s public policy opinions were largely directed against eugenics. That might be ideological if he had repeated the common leftist cliche that today’s conservatives would have been racist had they been alive a century or two ago. That’s what he didn’t do and he even mentioned support for eugenics among yesterday’s left.

  18. Ebenezer Flamsteed

    If race is just a social construct with no physical attributes, howcum forensic anthropologists can determine someone’s race with a high degree of certainty from their (skinless) remains? Obviously there are racial differences, and as you said intelligence is inheritable. Gould’s point, if I remember correctly, is that there were far more variances within a racial group than between them, but this fudges the question.

    Obviously any racial group is going to have people whose intelligence ranges from poor to genius — duh! Yet taken as a whole, there are measurable differences in the group average e.g. Ashkenazi Jews and Asians (here we mean “Orientals”) average about a standard deviation above whites in test scores, blacks about one below. This has been pretty consistent for nearly a hundred years in spite of recent attempts to scrub the tests of racism (if they’re racist, then why do Asians score higher than whites?). Obviously there are going to be dumb Jews and smart black people, but we’re talking about a population average here. This has been further confirmed by some embarrassing revelations about SAT scores for college admissions — that black and hispanic students get an affirmative action “boost” (they get in with lower test scores) while Asians suffer a penalty.

    I’m no fan of Sullivan’s either, but hey it was Gawker so what did you expect?

  19. The Sanity Inspector

    I don’t think we are at the point yet where race can be divorced from culture. Amy Chua’s book from earlier this year, Battle Hymn of the Dragon Mother, showed what a ramrod parenting style can do for a child’s development. And the results of letting glowing rectangles raise children is all around us.

  20. eddy wobegon

    The diversity supremacists claim that inherent differences between the races justify preferential treatment for some people. Yet when there are racial differences in outcomes, those are presumed to be tainted by racism on the theory that there are no inherent differences between the races. Are there or aren’t there inherent differences between the races?

    The politically correct postion teeters on the brink of incoherence.

  21. Bilwick

    William James used to ask, “And what is the dollar value of that idea?” I’ve never understood what is the “dollar value” (i.e., practical application or consequence) of the intellectually-superior-race concept. Even if you could prove without question that, say, Caucasians are generally smarter than Negroes*, a Thomas Sowell is always going to be smarter than the average white :liberal.”

    *Yeah, I know the term has a comically obsolete ring to it. But what, then, is the darker-skinned counterpart to “Caucasian”?

    1. Wild Swan

      The “dollar value” of claiming a genetic African IQ deficit comes in the policies proposed by those who promote this kind of “research.” The Bell Curve, for instance, said that this deficit was the reason why so many African-Americans were on welfare. Many didn’t didn’t have the IQ to handle a technological society. And so contraception should be strongly promoted among those on welfare because their children would have the same problem. Explaining inequalities as genetic and based on IQ leads to one set of policies; explaining them as the consequence of that huge ragbag of reasons we call history leads to other policies.

  22. Wild Swan

    The Bell Curve was saying that Africans on average have IQ’s of 70. This isn’t a small but significant difference – this is a huge difference. The field of IQ research pretty much backs this up. However this field is dominated by members of the British and American eugenics societies (Cyril Burt, Arthur Jensen, Chris Brand, HJ Eyesenck, Thomas Bouchard, L Gottfredson, Richard Lynn and more – see Eugenics Watch list online). These people agree with each other, push each others books and theories and promote each other so that’s why the IQ field says the one thing. No one in this field found Cyril Burt’s fraud – that was done by an outsider. And they all built on Burt. So that’s how good they are at science.

    1. Alan K. Henderson

      The Bell Curve was saying that Africans on average have IQ’s of 70.

      Wikipedia makes a contrary claim: “They also stated that the average IQ of African Americans is 85; Latinos 89; Whites 103; Asians 106; and Jews 113.” FWIW, that phrase turns up a bunch of Google search results, including Vdare, Brad Delong, and Stormfront. (Now that’s what i call multiculturalism!)

      Once on my blog I mused over the possibility that one factor behind genetic IQ differences coudl be that some ethnicities are disproportionately exposed to lead poisoning. Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately poor, and lead-based paint disproportionately favors the housing of the poor. A Natural Resources Defense Council report stated certain hazards associated with Latinos:

      [O]ther sources [of lead exposure] may have particular implications for Latinos. One such source is lead-glazed pottery, which some tourists and immigrants continue to bring in from Mexico and other countries. Some Latino children may also be eating lead in candy, as reported in an April 2004 Orange County Register investigative story. The article explained how lead-contaminated candies manufactured in Mexico make their way into the U.S. market.

      Another factor for increased risk of childhood lead poisoning among Latino immigrants, particularly those of Mexican origin, is the use of certain folk remedies. Such traditional remedies as greta and azarcón, which may contain nearly 100 percent lead and are often used to treat stomachaches, may expose children to dangerously high lead concentrations.

      Why is this relevant to IQ?

      In children, lead is known to cause neurological problems even at tiny doses. Most notably, lead has been associated with a decline in IQ and with learning disabilities, hyperactive behavior, violence, and an increase in antisocial behavior.

      This doesn’t counter Rand’s thesis – it just suggests that environmental factors may play a role (big or small) in racial biological differences.

      Here’s a thought that just crossed my mind: do IQ tests understate the IQ of the antisocial? If X and Y both takes the test, and X is far less eager than Y to take the test, will the test measure X’s intelligence as accurately as it measure Y’s?

      1. RDX

        Alan, Africans are different from African-Americans.

        Speculation about lead poisoning being “the cause” for tested IQ variations across race seems far-fetched. The IQ differences among general population groups persist (insert caveats about degrees) despite controls for socioeconomic status, in adopted children, and internationally.

      2. Wild Swan

        The Bell Curve was saying that Africans on average have IQ’s of 70.

        Wikipedia makes a contrary claim: “They also stated that the average IQ of African Americans is 85

        My bad. I just “remembered” the number instead of checking. But the point stands. If you have an IQ of 85 then the schools must give you extra help by law. This isn’t some kind of minor variation; this would be genetic group inability to do the work required by the schools. It’s a proposed explanation for the dismal record of African-Americans in the schools. I don’t buy that. In Milwaukee African Americans have the worst school scores in the country yet twenty years ago they were about half way up the list. Genes can’t change that fast but economics can. In the last twenty years manufacturing jobs have vanished from Milwaukee and as they went school scores crashed.

  23. M Pearlstein

    ***I’m simply defending the notion that different “races” could have different average “intelligence.”***

    It would be quite remarkable if different geographic and cultural environments favoured the exact same distribution of physical and mental traits over thousands of generations.

    Professor Robert A. Weinberg, winner of the 1997 National Medal of Science. Weinberg delivers the final lecture in Biology 7.012 at MIT (2004):

    Weinberg (@ 32:40): … And what happens if one of these days people discover alleles for certain aspects of cognitive function? Chess playing ability. The ability to learn five different languages. The ability to remember strings of numbers. The ability to speak extemporaneously in front of a class, for what it’s worth, for 50 minutes several times a week.

    Whatever ability you want, valued or not so valued, what if those alleles begin to come out? And here’s the worse part. What if somebody begins to look for the frequency of those alleles in different ethnic groups scattered across this planet? Now, you will say to me, well, God has made all his children equal. But the fact is if you look at the details of human evolution, some of which I discussed with you a week ago, last week, you’ll come to realize that most populations in humanity are the modern descendents of very small founder groups.

    … So the fact is it’s inescapable that different alleles are going to be present with different frequencies in different inbreeding populations of humanity or populations of humanity that traditionally have been genetically isolated from one another.”

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/biology/7-012-introduction-to-biology-fall-2004/index.htm

  24. M Pearlstein

    @ Wild Swan,

    You are completely out of touch with the research over the last 30 years.

    There have been many subsequent twin and adoption studies which show that variation in mental abilities is significantly due to variation in genes (Steven Pinker ‘My Genome’ New York Times Jan 2009)

    There are group ethnic differences in g (see Philip L Roth’s 2001 meta analysis in Personal Psychology, Volume 54, Issue 2, pages 297–330, June 2001).

    The hard question is what causes these differences. When privately polled in the 1980′s relatively few academics seemed to think these were purely environmental, compared to those who thought they are due to both environmental and genetic variation (Snyderman Rothman survey).

    1. Wild Swan

      The research over the last thirty years, after the Cyril Burt scandal is based on the work of Thomas Bouchard who is a member of the Society for the Study of Social Biology which is the name of the American eugenics society. He has not released the raw data on which he based his conclusions and so no one can reanalyze the data and see if his conclusions can be replicated. Linda Gottfredson who first used the term “PC”, “politically correct” to defend Bouchard and The Bell Curve, was a director of the Society. My point is this: you think that many supposedly independent studies have shown genetic IQ variation whereas in fact they are coming from one source. So a meta analysis, which shows that they all agree doesn’t show that African genetic IQ deficiency is a fact – it only shows the common source. Overall, the field of IQ studies is dominated by eugenic society members, English or American who have been funded by the Pioneer Fund since Frederick Osborn, President of the American Eugenics Society began the practice. Chris Brand who pushed for group ethnic differences in g is a fellow of the English eugenics society – the Galton Institute.

      1. Stan

        You offer zero evidence that the postulated facts are wrong, just that you find the proponents flawed.

        How do you reconcile your theory of equal intelligence with History? How do you reconcile the art and science of Western architecture, for example, with the lack thereof in sub-Saharan Africa or in aboriginal australia (at least three completely different races that never developed architecture, written language, number theory, metallurgy, etc)? How do you reconcile Congoid African (to single out just one race) dysfunction in every society where they are found including their own where there are current examples of ritual cannibalistic practices requiring albinos to become refugees to avoid being eaten for their magical properties? Can such people design the next generation spacecraft to get humans beyond earth orbit to the other planets of our solar system? The other two races in the first example above, Australian aborigines and African bushmen, have similar dysfunction which is wholly incompatible with modern Western civilization as evidenced by their performance therein (crime and drug problems rampant, etc).

        The only thing that makes ANY sense of it all is that humans have all evolved traits, including intelligence, as specific adaptation to their respective environments of the past several hundred thousand years. I believe you have a good argument that there is no MORAL superiority of any race, but it’s pretty obvious to anyone with the ability to measure and judge objectively that the races have very different attributes in physical respects. The brain is an organ just like the lungs or bones or muscle. Some races run faster, some run further, some jump higher, some are prone to certain disease, and some are smarter. These are simply facts. To argue otherwise is a fools errand.

        The only MORAL question is whether to treat individuals as such or as racial groups. Currently we are obsessed with race. Every government policy is explicitly or implicitly designed to bolster one race at the expense of another. Every failing of one race is blamed on conspiracy of another. But you object when the subject of measuring group intelligence is raised? Do you object at other group measurements such as height? Weight? Obesity? Literacy? Employment? Incarceration? Criminality? Disease immunity?

        It seems to me the only MORAL – and intellectually consistent – thing to do is eliminate all group identification from all government records. Measure only individual attributes against a human whole for the species. If race does not matter then let’s stop ALL mention of it!

  25. M Pearlstein

    ***The research over the last thirty years, after the Cyril Burt scandal is based on the work of Thomas Bouchard***

    There have been loads of twin studies. Your ad hominem arguments don’t refute the consistency of the results from various studies around the world.

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/07/heritability-20.html

    Also, see the recent paper by Ian Deary & co.

    “To test his idea, researchers looked at more than half a million locations in the genetic code of 3,511 unrelated adults. Each of these sites is where people are known to have single-letter variations in their DNA, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These variations were correlated with the individuals’ performance in two types of psychometric tests that are established in assessing intelligence: one test measuring recalled knowledge (via vocabulary) and the second measuring problem-solving skills.

    They found that 40% of the variation in knowledge (called “crystallised intelligence” by the researchers) and 51% of the variation in problem-solving skills (“fluid-type intelligence”) between individuals could be accounted for by the differences in DNA. The results are published on Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

    Previous work on the environmental and genetic contributions to cognitive ability has been based on comparing intelligence in identical and non-identical twins, or studying it in people who were adopted. In the study led by Deary, the conclusions were gleaned from direct testing of people’s DNA. “It is the first to show biologically and unequivocally that human intelligence is highly polygenic [involving lots of genes] and that purely genetic (SNP) information can be used to predict intelligence,” Deary wrote in the journal paper.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/aug/09/genetic-differences-intelligence

  26. Wild Swan

    There haven’t been loads of studies – only six or seven, the most important of which is by Bouchard. The Colorado study was also run by eugenic society members.
    I’m not making an ad hominem argument when I say that these supposedly independent studies trace back to eugenics – I am alerting you to a hidden source of potential bias.

    You are right that twin studies are no longer being used by this group – instead they use genome wide analysis. The first results reached by Robert Plomin, an American ex-director of the Society for the Study of Social Biology who now works in London, suggested that intelligence was scattered across many genes which tended to contradict the twin studies and the g theory. Now they are saying that those with a certain phenotype (race) have gene variants in common which are related to IQ – some races are more likely to have more of these gene variants than others and hence have higher IQ’s as a group. The flaw comes when you get right down to relating GWA to IQ studies. You already have the IQ studies – the technique I mean is established. Then you do GWA’s on a large group. Millions of differences show up. You claim that you know which of these differences relate to intelligence. Really? Moreover you claim that you know the other genetic differences would not alter the action of the genes relating to IQ. Is that so? This (GWA in relation to IQ) is a new technique and it raises these questions.

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