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David Baxter

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All Brains Are the Same Color
December 9, 2007
By RICHARD E. NISBETT
Ann Arbor, Mich.

JAMES WATSON, the 1962 Nobel laureate, recently asserted that he was ?inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa? and its citizens because ?all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours ? whereas all the testing says not really.?

Dr. Watson?s remarks created a huge stir because they implied that blacks were genetically inferior to whites, and the controversy resulted in his resignation as chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. But was he right? Is there a genetic difference between blacks and whites that condemns blacks in perpetuity to be less intelligent?

The first notable public airing of the scientific question came in a 1969 article in The Harvard Educational Review by Arthur Jensen, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Jensen maintained that a 15-point difference in I.Q. between blacks and whites was mostly due to a genetic difference between the races that could never be erased. But his argument gave a misleading account of the evidence. And others who later made the same argument ? Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in ?The Bell Curve,? in 1994, for example, and just recently, William Saletan in a series of articles on Slate ? have made the same mistake.

In fact, the evidence heavily favors the view that race differences in I.Q. are environmental in origin, not genetic.

The hereditarians begin with the assertion that 60 percent to 80 percent of variation in I.Q. is genetically determined. However, most estimates of heritability have been based almost exclusively on studies of middle-class groups. For the poor, a group that includes a substantial proportion of minorities, heritability of I.Q. is very low, in the range of 10 percent to 20 percent, according to recent research by Eric Turkheimer at the University of Virginia. This means that for the poor, improvements in environment have great potential to bring about increases in I.Q.

In any case, the degree of heritability of a characteristic tells us nothing about how much the environment can affect it. Even when a trait is highly heritable (think of the height of corn plants), modifiability can also be great (think of the difference growing conditions can make).

Nearly all the evidence suggesting a genetic basis for the I.Q. differential is indirect. There is, for example, the evidence that brain size is correlated with intelligence, and that blacks have smaller brains than whites. But the brain size difference between men and women is substantially greater than that between blacks and whites, yet men and women score the same, on average, on I.Q. tests. Likewise, a group of people in a community in Ecuador have a genetic anomaly that produces extremely small head sizes ? and hence brain sizes. Yet their intelligence is as high as that of their unaffected relatives.

Why rely on such misleading and indirect findings when we have much more direct evidence about the basis for the I.Q. gap? About 25 percent of the genes in the American black population are European, meaning that the genes of any individual can range from 100 percent African to mostly European. If European intelligence genes are superior, then blacks who have relatively more European genes ought to have higher I.Q.?s than those who have more African genes. But it turns out that skin color and ?negroidness? of features ? both measures of the degree of a black person?s European ancestry ? are only weakly associated with I.Q. (even though we might well expect a moderately high association due to the social advantages of such features).

During World War II, both black and white American soldiers fathered children with German women. Thus some of these children had 100 percent European heritage and some had substantial African heritage. Tested in later childhood, the German children of the white fathers were found to have an average I.Q. of 97, and those of the black fathers had an average of 96.5, a trivial difference.

If European genes conferred an advantage, we would expect that the smartest blacks would have substantial European heritage. But when a group of investigators sought out the very brightest black children in the Chicago school system and asked them about the race of their parents and grandparents, these children were found to have no greater degree of European ancestry than blacks in the population at large.

Most tellingly, blood-typing tests have been used to assess the degree to which black individuals have European genes. The blood group assays show no association between degree of European heritage and I.Q. Similarly, the blood groups most closely associated with high intellectual performance among blacks are no more European in origin than other blood groups.

The closest thing to direct evidence that the hereditarians have is a study from the 1970s showing that black children who had been adopted by white parents had lower I.Q.?s than those of mixed-race children adopted by white parents. But, as the researchers acknowledged, the study had many flaws; for instance, the black children had been adopted at a substantially later age than the mixed-race children, and later age at adoption is associated with lower I.Q.

A superior adoption study ? and one not discussed by the hereditarians ? was carried out at Arizona State University by the psychologist Elsie Moore, who looked at black and mixed-race children adopted by middle-class families, either black or white, and found no difference in I.Q. between the black and mixed-race children. Most telling is Dr. Moore?s finding that children adopted by white families had I.Q.?s 13 points higher than those of children adopted by black families. The environments that even middle-class black children grow up in are not as favorable for the development of I.Q. as those of middle-class whites.

Important recent psychological research helps to pinpoint just what factors shape differences in I.Q. scores. Joseph Fagan of Case Western Reserve University and Cynthia Holland of Cuyahoga Community College tested blacks and whites on their knowledge of, and their ability to learn and reason with, words and concepts. The whites had substantially more knowledge of the various words and concepts, but when participants were tested on their ability to learn new words, either from dictionary definitions or by learning their meaning in context, the blacks did just as well as the whites.

Whites showed better comprehension of sayings, better ability to recognize similarities and better facility with analogies ? when solutions required knowledge of words and concepts that were more likely to be known to whites than to blacks. But when these kinds of reasoning were tested with words and concepts known equally well to blacks and whites, there were no differences. Within each race, prior knowledge predicted learning and reasoning, but between the races it was prior knowledge only that differed.

What do we know about the effects of environment?

That environment can markedly influence I.Q. is demonstrated by the so-called Flynn Effect. James Flynn, a philosopher and I.Q. researcher in New Zealand, has established that in the Western world as a whole, I.Q. increased markedly from 1947 to 2002. In the United States alone, it went up by 18 points. Our genes could not have changed enough over such a brief period to account for the shift; it must have been the result of powerful social factors. And if such factors could produce changes over time for the population as a whole, they could also produce big differences between subpopulations at any given time.

In fact, we know that the I.Q. difference between black and white 12-year-olds has dropped to 9.5 points from 15 points in the last 30 years ? a period that was more favorable for blacks in many ways than the preceding era. Black progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows equivalent gains. Reading and math improvement has been modest for whites but substantial for blacks.

Most important, we know that interventions at every age from infancy to college can reduce racial gaps in both I.Q. and academic achievement, sometimes by substantial amounts in surprisingly little time. This mutability is further evidence that the I.Q. difference has environmental, not genetic, causes. And it should encourage us, as a society, to see that all children receive ample opportunity to develop their minds.

Richard E. Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, is the author of The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why.
 

xenopath

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Re: All Brains Are the Same Color

I don't understand why this is such a big taboo issue. We accept that other factors, such as height, muscle mass and hormone levels, vary between genetically isolated human populations, why would 'intelligence' (whatever that means) be any different?

As to the cultural bias of IQ tests, it has long been noted that asians score higher than whites, despite the fact the tests were designed by and for whites. Furthermore, I don't think differences in intelligence suggest superiority or inferiority per se, so much as suggesting that various isolated genetic groups have specialised in different directions.

Africans mature more quickly, have a higher fertility, and african males have higher testosterone than white males. The opposite in each case is true of asians. Why can't this simply be accepted as an interesting hypothesis, instead of being condemmed as suggesting black inferiority?
 

David Baxter

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Re: All Brains Are the Same Color

You're correct to an extent. If it were indeed the case that there were ethnic or racial differences in intelligence as opposed to performance on intelligence tests, then that would be a reality that we'd have to find a way to accomodate.

The problem is that people - some professionals as well as "lay" people - confuse performance on IQ tests with intelligence. IQ tests are estimates of current functioning level of intelligence. The good ones, like the Wechsler Scales, do this by measuring performance on several tasks that reflect a sample of the multiple abilities and factors contributing to intelligence. One of the problems is that, due to insufficient training, even professionals sometimes fail to adequately recognize that some people have significant discrepancies among these factors - in some cases, that may be a flag for brain injury, a tumor, a disease process, or declining abilities due to age (dementia). Because people fail to understand fully what an IQ score actually measure, it gets distilled to a simple number - or sometimes two numbers, Verbal IQ and Performance IQ.

But we haved known for years that performance on IQ tests is affected by numerous factors, starting with education, both number of years and adequacy of education, and cultural background. Other chronic or acute conditions like anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders can interfere with the validity of the results of IQ testing. Additionally, motivation to do well on the test may also be a huge factor - which is one of the reasons that people with a less successful academic career don't do well - they generally view tests of any kind as something they don't do well on and therefore they tend to make less effort at doing well on IQ tests too.

The Wechsler Scales are also standardized on US samples. Among other things, this means that someone with a good general knowledge of US history and other "facts" typically learned in the US educational system will do a bit better on one or two subtests of the Wechsler Scales. Several years ago, Canadian psychologists tried to compensate for this by substituting so-called "Canadian items" which emphasized Candian history and geography and the Canadian political system. Interestingly, many people found that Canadians did more poorly on these items than on the original US items (e.g., often Canadians were incorrect in their responses to questions about the Canadian Parliament or the number of provinces but those same people gave more accurate responses to questions about the US Congress and Senate and the number os States in the union). So it's not as simple as just substituting items that logically might be assumed to better reflect someone's cultural or ethnic background.

Additionally, it's important to understand that the reported differences among whites, blacks, and Asians (or to take another example, among criminals or delinquents versus non-criminals) are generally (going by memory here) on the order of 2-3 IQ points. Since the standard deviation of the IQ score (for the Wechsler tests) is 15, this constitutes a statistically significant but practically rather trivial difference, within the range that one might expect for testing and retesting the same individual over time.

The bottom line is that knowing that different people from various ethnic or racial backgrounds perform differently on standard IQ tests may help us eventually to improve those standard IQ tests, but they don't really tell us a whole lot about actual differences in intelligence.
 

David Baxter

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DNA pioneer's own genes raise questions about the meaning of race

COMMENTARY: Does this man look black to you? DNA pioneer's own genes raise questions about the meaning of race
By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., MSNBC contributor
Fri., Dec. 14, 2007

One of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century should now be attributed to a black man, or so it seems.

James Watson, the man who worked with Francis Crick to identify the double-helical structure of DNA, who upon casual inspection might well qualify for the title of "most blatantly Caucasian male" among a raft of serious contenders that includes Mitt Romney, Tucker Carlson, Harry Reid and Peyton Manning, is actually black!

An Iceland-based genomics company, deCODE genetics, conducted an analysis of Watson's DNA, which Watson had allowed to be placed on the Internet, and found that 16 percent of his genes are likely to have come from a black ancestor.

The flamboyant head of deCODE, Kari Stefansson, himself a strong contender for the most obviously Caucasian male award, whose company carried out the analysis, said in a classic bit of white male understatement, ?It was very surprising to get this result for Jim.?

Indeed, the racial outing of Watson was quite a surprise ? most likely to the 79-year-old Nobel-prize winner. This past October he was forced to cancel a tour promoting his new book in England after opining in a British newspaper that he felt ?inherently gloomy about the prospects for Africa? because ?all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours ? whereas all the testing says not really.? Jim?s fretting left him without a job at home ? he retired from his job as chancellor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York ? and no longer especially welcome on the speaking circuit anywhere serious. Finding out one has black genes seems especially inconvenient for somebody proclaiming blacks to be genetically inferior.

Watson?s critics are piling on with glee to such delicious irony. But while it is more than tempting to use this incident to bury the influential source of some very irresponsible racial speculation (yeah, OK, I have been indulging myself in the temptation) a number of other more important lessons need to be drawn from the news of Watson?s reclassification in the family of man.

First, our ordinary racial categories do not have much scientific meaning. They are social and cultural creations.

Those classified as black or white in the United States would not always be considered so in Brazil, South Africa, Tonga, India, Japan or Mexico. The differences people in China, Myanmar, Nigeria or India see among various ethnic groups are quite different from the classifications that ordinary Americans or Canadians might make of the same people.

Genetic groupings of people that scientists use in designing drugs or studying migration patterns do not overlap with the groupings that North Americans make of people based on their skin color, hair or other features.

Nor is it at all useful to try and determine your race or ethnicity from your genes.

Genes change rapidly as they recombine generation after generation as a result of sex. So scientists look for markers on the most stable elements of our genome ? the Y chromosome, most of which you get only from your dad, or mitochondrial DNA, most of which you get only from your mom. The stability comes at a price. Those genes represent a very narrow glimpse of your distant ancestors because only a few of their contributions are reflected in these particular packets of DNA. The potential for errors in trying to classify people using these markers into groups that don?t make much biological sense anyway is, to say the least, huge.

So forget plunking your money down with one of the many companies offering genetic analysis of your family tree. You will only wind up, as Watson did, with a classification based on a tiny handful of those who were actually your ancestors.

And most of the ability at present to analyze genes comes from comparing them to samples that have been collected and made public by various scientists and companies. But the sampling is far from complete so most genetic analysis for complex traits and behaviors including race is based on incomplete data.

So while it is extremely amusing (to me at least) to revel in the irony that somebody who got into trouble for racist remarks might himself be a member of the very group he was impugning, as a matter of science it is nonsense.

Science is not in a position to tell you who your ancestors were in terms of race both because our knowledge of their genetics is very limited and the classifications we use to put people into groups vary from culture to culture, time period to time period and nation to nation.

Watson, a great scientist, despite his most recent ranting about race, knew right after his discovery, and better than anyone, how complex the story of heredity actually is. It would be a grave mistake to think that peeking at our genes will tell us something about who we truly are in terms of race. There has been too much hatred, bias and prejudice in human history to think that your race is simply a matter of examining your genes.

Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
 

HA

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Watson...what a dummy. For someone so bright, you would think he would know better. Or maybe he is just another case of aroggance run amok.
 

David Baxter

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Remember that Watson is not a psychologist and therefore is likely to be making the same interpretive errors as others who have written on the topic, including some psychologists who should know better.

See my comments here.
 

xenopath

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That second article has a very odd tone. It suggests watson is a racist, when he is guilty of nothing more than facing the data he was presented with honestly. The research DOES suggest that africans less 'intelligent', at least to the extant that it shows a clear gap in performance on IQ tests.

Of course, it's entierly possible that the entier difference is down to psychological and sociological factors, and in any event any truly genetic contribution seems to be very small, on the order of 1 or 2%, but as far as he knew, his opinion was the correct one.

Now this smug journalist, and others like this, are treating him like a rancid racial supremescist. Has anyone even asked him what he thinks of possible african ancestor? I'm sure he would be interested, not appalled.

I find these regular moral outrages endlessly interesting. They tell you so much about how people work. It's not enough for people to understand that discriminating on any irrational basis is absurd, they have to codify it into a taboo, so their consience will coerce them into acting rationally.
 

David Baxter

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The research DOES suggest that africans less 'intelligent', at least to the extant that it shows a clear gap in performance on IQ tests.

Which is flawed reasoning, as I pointed out in my post above.

Of course, it's entierly possible that the entier difference is down to psychological and sociological factors, and in any event any truly genetic contribution seems to be very small, on the order of 1 or 2%, but as far as he knew, his opinion was the correct one.

And that is the irony of the story - that someone as obviously as intelligent as Watson would draw the conclusion that blacks are less intelligent, only to learn that he can count himself among that racial group.
 

Blaze

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I think intelligence is just based completely on contexts. It shows even in our average American workplaces, not just in other places of the world. While we might not utilize a lot of geometry or physics in our workplaces, we still become experts in what we know how to do. In general, we might not appear as intelligent as others but what really matters is what we already know what do to.

Africans, Americans, Hispanics, Asians, we all grow up in very different contexts. Our environment and our heredity tell us what is important to know and to excel at. While some cultures might not excel at our tests (and others that over-excel), it doesn't mean that they are not intelligent.

I guess my main point here is: Intelligence is relative.
 

xenopath

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I think intelligence is just based completely on contexts. It shows even in our average American workplaces, not just in other places of the world. While we might not utilize a lot of geometry or physics in our workplaces, we still become experts in what we know how to do. In general, we might not appear as intelligent as others but what really matters is what we already know what do to.

That is a matter of learning, not of absolute ability. Some people do better than others, even if they have the same experience. Just because you get better at something over time, doesn't mean your best will ever be adequate.

Africans, Americans, Hispanics, Asians, we all grow up in very different contexts. Our environment and our heredity tell us what is important to know and to excel at. While some cultures might not excel at our tests (and others that over-excel), it doesn't mean that they are not intelligent.

So what's your point? "We're all different so we must be the same"? Or "African children raised in wealthy neighbourhoods will do better on IQ tests than africans raised in poor neighbourhoods"? Because they don't.

I guess my main point here is: Intelligence is relative.

So you don't believe that some brains are simply stronger than others? Presumably you accept that some people have more endurance than others, and some people more strength, why don't you accept the same of intelligence? Or to put it another way, what evidence do you have that everyone is equal?
 

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There are two essential points that must be understood if you are going to participate in a debate on this topic:

1. Intelligence is not a unitary concept. Most people will obtain a profile on the Wechsler scales that shows relative strengths and weaknesses, with the specifics of that profile varying considerably from one person to another. The idea that there is some unitary or overall factor that defines "intelligence" is not supported by the empirical evidence.

2. In the context of a discussion or debate about race, ethnicity, or culture, it is in my opinion pointless to talk about "intelligence" - all we can really hope to discuss is performance on intelligence tests.
 

Blaze

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1. Intelligence is not a unitary concept. Most people will obtain a profile on the Wechsler scales that shows relative strengths and weaknesses, with the specifics of that profile varying considerably from one person to another. The idea that there is some unitary or overall factor that defines "intelligence" is not supported by the empirical evidence.

This is what I was basically attempting to describe. Our designs of measuring intelligence need to possibly be updated with the globalization of our world. We can't assume that certain cultures will be able to understand the American standardized tests. Contexts matter, be that through different schooling or otherwise.
 

xenopath

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There are two essential points that must be understood if you are going to participate in a debate on this topic:

1. Intelligence is not a unitary concept. Most people will obtain a profile on the Wechsler scales that shows relative strengths and weaknesses, with the specifics of that profile varying considerably from one person to another. The idea that there is some unitary or overall factor that defines "intelligence" is not supported by the empirical evidence.

2. In the context of a discussion or debate about race, ethnicity, or culture, it is in my opinion pointless to talk about "intelligence" - all we can really hope to discuss is performance on intelligence tests.

I quite agree. IQ tests do not measure 'intelligence' in some Platonic sense, but they do measure something. Even if all they measue is facility with standardised testing, that supports Watson's position.

Watson said:
“all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.”

We (by which I mean the developed world, both oriental and occidental) treat africa as tho the solutions that work for us will work for them, based on the notion that our intelligence is of the exact same kind, when the tests indicate that is not really the case. That is not to suggest they are of lesser worth, merely that there is a difference. It is also not to suggest that the problem is intractable, or even that it is a 'problem' at all, simply that our current approach is not the most effective, since it is based on a premise that may be false.

Doctors have no problem accepting there are differences in the immune systems of africans and europeans, that there are drugs which affect blacks and whites differently, medical treatments more suitable for one race rather than the other, even diseases that show 'racial predjudice'. There are even accepted and well-understood difference in athletic performance between racial groups. When was the last time an oriental won the 100m at the Olympics, or that we had a Japanese heavyweight boxing champion?

There is no doubt that the differences between 'races' are very small. I understand there is a greater genetic gap between a brother and his sister than between a white and a black man or woman, and yet we have learned to treat the sexes as being 'different yet equal' (more or less, anyway).

On a personal level, I don't see why people have trouble applying the same concept to racial differences. What is it that makes accepting such even in theory that is so difficult for you? The very notion seems inherently repellant to people, as tho I were suggesting you were a sex offender, yet the subject is not personally relevant to you, so why do they care?

EDIT: I know it's only National Geographic, but this is an interesting article about current understandings of racial, genetic differences.
 
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David Baxter

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Again, I think your premise is flawed.

You acknowledge that all that people can actually debate are scores on a test, and yet you seem to have no difficulty accepting a statement that claims that certain racial or ethnic groups are more or less intelligent. As soon as you substitute the word intelligence for the phrase scores on intelligence tests, you (1) make a false statement, not supported by evidence, and (2) make a false statement unsupported by evidence that is prejudicial and potentially harmful to anyone in that racial or ethnic group. And THAT is the issue.

If I were to claim that blacks tend to be faster runners than whites, or to obtain better times in actual races or trials, we could debate whether or how well the evidence supports that claim but it would at least be a debate that could be confirmed or disconfirmed by available or potential evidence. In other words, the statement or claim would be a hypothesis that is open to empirical testing.

That is not the case for the issue of intelligence. We don't really know how to even define intelligence except in terms of performance on IQ tests.

Are you aware of so-called "culture free" intelligence tests? Leaving aside for the moment the fact that such tests are not very good in terms of evaluating overall IQ, why do you think developing such tests was deemed worthy of the time and effort it took?
 
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there isn't such a thing as the intelligence of a person. there are many, many different types of intelligence. some people excel at math, others at language, others again have a high level of social intelligence (people skills). IQ tests only measure a certain type of intelligence, or rather, a specific skill: the skill of taking an IQ test.

i often laugh at myself because in some ways i am quite smart, but in other ways i do some pretty dumb things for such a smart person. :)
 

David Baxter

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Other considerations:

  1. We often describe people as "street smart" rather than intelligent.
  2. As boring as the book was, the issue of "Emotional Intelligence" as opposed to "cognitive intelligence" is another valid concept that highlights the limitations of our current measures of intelligence.
 

Blaze

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there isn't such a thing as the intelligence of a person. there are many, many different types of intelligence. some people excel at math, others at language, others again have a high level of social intelligence (people skills). IQ tests only measure a certain type of intelligence, or rather, a specific skill: the skill of taking an IQ test.

That sounds an awful lot like Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences. I agree with the idea that we all have different types of intelligences. But again there is the problem that none of the 12 "intelligences" can be empirically tested. So we're back at square one :D
 

xenopath

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If I were to claim that blacks tend to be faster runners than whites, or to obtain better times in actual races or trials, we could debate whether or how well the evidence supports that claim but it would at least be a debate that could be confirmed or disconfirmed by available or potential evidence. In other words, the statement or claim would be a hypothesis that is open to empirical testing.

But that is my point, you take one view with regard to the possibility that there may be a genetic basis to black athleticism, but quite another with regard to intelligence. You don't say, "we should do a series of trials and have a debate about whether there is anything in it". Instead, you take the anti-scientific position that traditional rules of politeness are more important than empirical truth.

I don't know if you are an advocate of this extreme taboo veneration, or if you're just concerned with appearing racist if you seem to even appear to consider the matter? The moral panic meme seems to be pretty popular in the public discourse at the moment.

I don't mean to sugest I'm criticising you for this, I understand that moral systems are complex and often contradictory etc etc. I'm just curious as to why this issue is so verboten. No-one is concerned for the esteem of europeans when discussing the physical superiority of african athletes, why should anyone feel threatened by the discussion of intelligence?
 

David Baxter

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But that is my point, you take one view with regard to the possibility that there may be a genetic basis to black athleticism, but quite another with regard to intelligence. You don't say, "we should do a series of trials and have a debate about whether there is anything in it". Instead, you take the anti-scientific position that traditional rules of politeness are more important than empirical truth.

No. What I'm saying is that it isn't possible to "do a series of trials and have a debate about whether there is anything in it" when it comes to questions of "intelligence". I'm saying that we can do research into why certain racial or ethnic groups do more poorly on standardized IQ tests, and indeed there is a substantial body of research that tells us what factors are related to performance on specific subtests, most of which go back to educational factors or differences in cultural perceptions. BUT... we are still talking about the tests and not "intelligence" per se. The fact remains that we know there is a cultural bias in standardized IQ tests. If we had better tests that were not culturally biased, we'd be using them - but we don't.

And that is far from anti-scientific. In fact, to pretend that we are talking about "intelligence" when discussing the cultural-racial-ethnic difference in scores on IQ tests would be highly unscientific.

I don't know if you are an advocate of this extreme taboo veneration, or if you're just concerned with appearing racist if you seem to even appear to consider the matter? The moral panic meme seems to be pretty popular in the public discourse at the moment.

I'm neither. I think you are trying to make this about science versus morailty versus political correctness, but in my opinion that's a red herring. I don't think that Watson's "crime" was racism; I think it was ignorance of some of the inherent limitations in our understanding of what constitutes intelligence and some of the inherent limitations in intelligence testing.

I don't mean to sugest I'm criticising you for this, I understand that moral systems are complex and often contradictory etc etc. I'm just curious as to why this issue is so verboten. No-one is concerned for the esteem of europeans when discussing the physical superiority of african athletes, why should anyone feel threatened by the discussion of intelligence?

Because we cannot accurately define, let alone measure intelligence, independent of cultural-ethnic biases. Again, it's not that the issue is "verboten" but rather that if people take IQ scores and try to run with them without understanding the nature and limitations of those scores they will end up drawing unsupported and unscientific conclusions.
 

xenopath

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And that is far from anti-scientific. In fact, to pretend that we are talking about "intelligence" when discussing the cultural-racial-ethnic difference in scores on IQ tests would be highly unscientific.

I agree. IQ =/= intelligence. But that's just semantics- it certainly does measure something.

Because we cannot accurately define, let alone measure intelligence, independent of cultural-ethnic biases. Again, it's not that the issue is "verboten" but rather that if people take IQ scores and try to run with them without understanding the nature and limitations of those scores they will end up drawing unsupported and unscientific conclusions.

I think we agree on that point. If it's just the word that bothers you, we can call it something else: how about "cultural discourse".

The IQ test reward for high levels of 'Greek' style thought, same as the MOBO award rewards high levels of 'Ghetto' style thought. Both are potentially rewarding in their native enviroments, and I'm certainly not claiming to be more intelligent than a rapper who is worth tens of millions at age 20.

The fact that these discourses are so often demarcked in racial terms is then either a coincidence, or reflects some inherent propensity towards a certain style of cultural discourse. How do you resolve the long-lasting, snowballing influence of the Greeks on western thought, with the lack of anything similar in subsaharan Africa? How do you explain the great stability and longevity of Oriental societies, compared to the unstable and badly-governed post-classical West?

Is it not possible that Asians simply have better social discourse than Europeans, who in turn have more than Subsarahans? I mean it just seems the most obvious answer, I don't see why people would go to such lengths of twisted logic to refute it, unless out of fear of Taboo.
 

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