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Monday, 22 October, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Oct 07, 05:49 PM

Genetic Pioneer

We've decided to give over a big part of tonight’s programme to a man who can fairly claim to be among the most controversial scientists in the world.

He's Craig Venter - famous for being part of the race to map out the human genetic code, and notorious (some say) for trying to patent human genes. We'll talk to him live about all that and his latest project to create life forms which can produce clean energy - and he'll also debate with his critics.

Also in the programme:


The Turkish Prime Minister is on his way to London as rebels of the Kurdish group the PKK kill more Turkish soldiers. The Turkish army is champing at the bit to strike back into the PKK heartland in northern Iraq. Nobody disputes Turkey's right to defend itself and its citizens - so what can be done?


Today's Commons clash over the new EU Treaty is the beginning of a long running debate that will probably run up to the next General Election. Michael Crick is on the case.

A Good Man In Africa?

Is awarding $5m in prize money the right way to get better governance in Africa. Discuss.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:17 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

The big problem that may face the world one day is a world without problems,

re science, as we roll back science with must change as rapidly from ape to man otherwise we will use this new found knowledge to destroy ourselves,

just my thoughts, may be wrong

best wishes

  • 2.
  • At 07:29 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • gunes wrote:

I'm a Turkish girl on the way of ATATÜRK.I'm condemning BBC as all the others(CNN...) because of saying "rebels" to terrorists!THEY ARE TERRORİST!!!NOT REBELS!!!

  • 3.
  • At 07:32 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • steve wrote:

Sir, Gordon would lose if we had a vote on Europe.....therefore he won't allow one...simple. Gordon did not go to the country because he knew he would lose...simple. He knows how to survive..until the election. Steve

  • 4.
  • At 08:03 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Terry CLARK wrote:

Is the visit by the Turkish Prime Minister to discuss their proposed attack on the Kurdish KKP, just a cover for him to twist Brown's arm, as part of their garnering support for Turkey's admission to the EU. The French president is not in favour of that???

Terry Clark

  • 5.
  • At 08:04 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Terry CLARK wrote:

Is the visit by the Turkish Prime Minister to discuss their proposed attack on the Kurdish KKP, just a cover for him to twist Brown's arm, as part of their garnering support for Turkey's admission to the EU. The French president is not in favour of that???

Terry Clark

  • 6.
  • At 09:59 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

As a further comment on James Watson's recent, and in my view, paradoxical treatment by the Science Museum administrator perhaps some of this, in the context of tonight's genetics piece, will serve to further illustrate the corrosive culture of spin we have to endure these days and which Michael Grade rather hypocritically, but understatingly referred to as a 'cultural problem' (doesn't the entertainment industry 'lie/deceive' for a living, however hard we try to euphemise this?). I suggest Watson's treatment was a consequence of our having signed up to Human Rights legislation coupled with the empirically false assumption that people are equal genetically - something we know not to be true.

For years, much of the research in genetics and behaviour has been made more difficult by what is generally referred to as 'political correctness'. Many in the field see this as both bad for science and society just as it was in the 1930s in the USSR.

Whilst this generation perhaps astutely appreciates that the continuum of intelligence is unrelated to benevolence, there are potentially dire consequences if it ignores the fact that genes and barriers to their mixing play a major role in behavioural diversity. The latter being true, one has to ask why The Sunday Times (which printed the Watson interview a week ago and which tried to balance that with another on Sunday) didn't supplement the original, or the follow up article, with references to the large body of peer reviewed scientific studies (e.g. Lynn, Jensen, Rushton etc) which was clearly the basis for Watson's (no longer controversial) remarks. Why did Watson have to apologise, it made it look like he had made a mistake.

May this be because he was in breach of a *legal* prescription (he, or the public body publishing his remarks thought it was in breach of the RRAA (2000), itself derivative of the ECHR which requires those in public bodies to promote good race relations?

The Sunday Times could have cited USA SAT scores by ethnic group, or the UK Key Stage results for those of African origin (which will show that they have scores in IQ proxies like English, Maths and Science) of -1 SD below the White mean). It could then have balanced the matter out by citing the *higher* IQs of the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and in the West, Jews (all about +0.5 SD) and the higher scores of Indians, Chinese and Jews than White British.

These pattern reflect 'gene barriers' (e.g. rivers, seas, mountains) at work, which are marked by phenotypic characteristics such as melanin/skin colour, hair, facial features etc. People do select mates on at least some of these features, and nobody considers that racist.

The reason why people censure such comments now seems to be Human Rights legislation and anti-discrimination *law* (cf. the Fundamental Charter of Human Rights, part of the EU Reform Treaty), which has a socially constructed gagging impact on those working for public bodies. They have to be compliant with the law, and they have little or no discretion, they comply or are out of a job. As a consequence, we now effectively have Cultural Marxist (politically correct) law, by accident or design, practically censoring science, or at least, the reporting of science, just as Lysenkoism did in the USSR in 1936 when it legislated against genetics and educational psychology. This held Soviet research back for years.

Why people were not equally outraged and offended when it was reported (not too long ago) that the Jews (like the East Asians), are found, by the same measure, to have a higher mean IQ (largely on the basis of verbal IQ) by about +0.5 of a Standard Deviation) relative to the white gentile mean? This has been a hot topic in evolutionary psychology over the past year or so, and this too has been conjectured to be genetic, but there has been no outcry here, a revealing asymmetry which should be looked into much further I suggest?

  • 7.
  • At 11:08 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • danny wrote:

Well done newsnight, thats the best, most informative interveiw that i have heard for years on NN.

Craig ventnor, bout time we had ten minutes on NN without the usual shouting and screaming.

  • 8.
  • At 11:14 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Rich Watts wrote:

Craig Venter is a pioneer in molecular biology. Capitalising on science drives the industry that accelerates therapeutic and social development. Take a vitamin, drink a beer - it's all exploitation of modern day science. Vaccination - have you had one? Parents/relatives with heart conditions, diabetes, mental health problems... Find your self suffering from cancer - what are you going to do? Go to hopital for treatment? 30 years ago you'd be the guinney pig, now you expect something...

Control is a seperate matter and one that needs addressing but without the innovation we are a dying race. With a population which will comsume itself unless biological resources are effectively managed and developed, we are not in a position to hamper these inspiring catalysts.

Ignoring synthetic biology... Without C.Venter we would still be sequencing the human genome.

With a view to synthetic biology - internal safety controls are needed to ensure failsafe. Education is needed to bring the powers up to speed.

Read - Blood Music by Greg Bear...

  • 9.
  • At 11:27 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Watts wrote:

Craig Venter is a pioneer in molecular biology. Capitalising on science drives the industry that accelerates therapeutic and social development. Take a vitamin, drink a beer - it's all exploitation of modern day science. Vaccination - have you had one? Parents/relatives with heart conditions, diabetes, mental health problems... Find your self suffering from cancer - what are you going to do? Go to hopital for treatment? 30 years ago you'd be the guinney pig, now you expect something...

Control is a seperate matter and one that needs addressing but without the innovation we are a dying race. With a population which will comsume itself unless biological resources are effectively managed and developed, we are not in a position to hamper these inspiring catalysts.

Ignoring synthetic biology... Without C.Venter we would still be sequencing the human genome.

With a view to synthetic biology - internal safety controls are needed to ensure failsafe. Education is needed to bring the powers up to speed.

Read - Blood Music by Greg Bear...

  • 10.
  • At 11:33 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Geoff wrote:

Dear newsnight,

Its no secret that there is huge knowledge gap between the scientific community and the general public. Thisn't isn't helped in the amateurish way the BBC presented this debate tonight. Both guests and presenter accompanying Dr Venter really didn't grasp the fundemental science. How can you express an opnion on a subject matter you clearly don't understand to begin with??????
Even more disappointing is to let Dr Venter (a top scientist) but amoral human being off the hook so lightly. The Wellcome Trusts decision to take to Venter on and negate his land grab was huge a victory for common sense and morality. Yet all the BBC can come up with is petty soundbites " although Dr Venter did reveal to me the reason why he didn't listen to his critics was because there weren't any around hre respected anymore" and added a short clip about planes whilst Venter celebrated Venter. Yes he is an embarrassment to the community as is Watson every profession has them.

There are alot more talented, orginal, moral scientisit right here in the UK than Venter....if the BBC really wants to seriously address this issue find them and ask them to address their visions for the future and their concerns. Ask Nasymth, ask Smith, ask Wellcome

The scientific profession is decicated to and always will be judged by the ultimate truth and there is nothing they can do about it.


Let’s not argue over intelligence. I have a theory that running 100 metres – very fast – turns you African. (Is it alright to say “African”?)

The posting facility seems broke again Mr Moderator. I hope I don't go forth, into cyberspace, and multiply!


Let’s not argue over intelligence. I have a theory that running 100 metres – very fast – turns you African. (Is it alright to say “African”?)

The posting facility seems broke again Mr Moderator. I hope I am not going forth into cyberspace and multiplying!

  • 13.
  • At 11:56 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Neil Robertson wrote:

Susan Watt's interview with Venter was very interesting .. up here in
Scotland viewers have to 'opt-out'
of the second part of UK Newsnight
as you know and Newsnight Scotland
was covering two items: ending the
'right to buy' for council tenants
which was brought in by Thatcher - and which may disappear when the new SNP government brings forward its housing policy consultation paper;
and that was preceded by coverage
of a "National Conversation Summit:
Scotland's Future Without Nuclear Weapons" which took place today in Glasgow. First Minister Salmond has
written to members of the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Conference asking that Scotland's Government be given observer status at their meetings - and a working party was established today to examine ways of using the planning and environmental powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament in the context of any UK proposals to extend the Faslane nuclear base.

In Newsnight Scotland's discussion,
Roseanna Cunningham MSP took on the
newly bearded and soft collar Labour
defence thugee Eric Joyce MP who was needless to say intent on peddling a Brownite/UK Labour line that this is just "another example of the SNP picking a fight with London ....
every week another issue and another fight". Roseanna pointed out that the Holyrood Parliament had voted against Trident renewal as did the
electorate who voted in the SNP but
Joyce was having none of it: 'How can Alex Salmond know about the complexities of such issues as he hasn't even consulted the Foreign
Office' was the line. Clearly MPs
on Labour's benches in Westminster
have not yet discovered that there
is a civil service in Scotland and
a former FCO adviser on disarmament
is now attached to Salmond's office!

Opposition to Trident renewal is also an area incidentally where
there is clear water between both
Liberal contenders Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne (both voted against a Trident upgrade) and both Gordon
Brown and David Cameron ........

  • 14.
  • At 12:04 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Alien Lifeform wrote:

The editorial above says "Nobody disputes Turkey's right to defend itself and its citizens - so what can be done? "

In fact plenty of people dispute that right: including the Iraqi leadership and the American government.

If the PKK are in the mountains, as was suggested on the programme, then why can't the Turkish army go in and look for them? There doesn't seem to be anything else up there (though doubtless there is some elusive wildlife).

Remember how the Americans gave the green light to the Israelis to bomb Lebanon to smithereens after a few attacks by Hezbollah upon Israeli territory and the capture of some Israeli soldiers.

What a stark difference in attitude: total American support for Israeli action and null support for Turkish action to stop similar terrorist attacks.

Lebanon is just as precarious as Iraq with a multitude of opposing groups, religious sects and clans, but the Americans were simply not bothered about repercussions or collateral damage in that case.

And whereas the Turks are urged not to go after the PKK in a virtually uninhabited mountainous region, the Israelis were given the go-ahead to bomb densely populated urban and suburban areas.

I am a kurd, living in London. The Turkish army has conducted incursions into Iraq. There is an attempt on behalf of the BBC to manipulate developments. Some extracts describe events accurately and others are twisted. Kurds also have a right to defend it-self, that goes for the PKK. They are not in the offensive but rather on the defensive. Turkey has 100,000 solidiers, in the border of Iraq, That is an army on the offensive. PKK has been calling on a ceasefire since the 1990s, but Turkey continues to disregard such calling. No soldier will die if they pull back. PKK is not a terrorist organisation.

  • 16.
  • At 12:13 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • John Moore wrote:

In reference to the debate last night regarding Dr Ventor’s companies research. I find it disappointing that on matters of such importance religion takes a seat at the debate. Surely the least qualified of all people to debate real ethical issues, which will shape our future, are people who cling to a 2000 year old dogma and not to reason.
Why not have a man of science like Dawkins present? I am frankly sick of the number of Bishops invited to public debates of this nature (not to say he did too badly) but it would be just as relevant to invite Bill Oddie, Trisha or Nigella.

  • 17.
  • At 08:12 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • D Allan wrote:

Dear Newsnight has the big yellow/brown one sold us all out.
If he has is there a need for 650 worse than useless mpees, I would say NO.
pee.s is this website working properly it has all but been impossible to post anything, something to do about nothing/royal mail

  • 18.
  • At 08:16 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • gull wrote:

do you know anything about the difference between kurds and pkk? pkk is a terror organization although some try to show it as a social group. have you ever been to turkey and asked to kurds what they think about turkey? ıf they wouldn't love turkey,they wouldn't have live here. they wouldn't escape from pkk participants. pkk destroys both turks and kurds dont you see the fact????

  • 19.
  • At 06:28 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

See earlier comments, as this is only the latest in a theme which has been explicated over many months both in the Newsnight blog and in CIF (Guardian). It's one which is very difficult to submit to standard scientific journals for what should be obvious reasons. The central issue has been raised with some of the key workers in the relevant fields over recent years. It is slowly getting easier. If it is empirically wrong, then the data will show that, not censorship.

Part 2:
One way to take one's rivals eyes off the ball (in evolutionary group competitive terms) if one is a member of a cognitively *advantaged* 'minority' group (where the advantage is sustained by behaviours amounting to a *gene barriers* e.g. endogamy), is to try to censure or obfuscate any information which might expose one's advantage, especially if the advantage is sustained by discriminating tests used to select and advance within the community, be it academic courses or careers.

If anyone doubts this, just look up Robert Trivers on Google and see what he says about group competition and 'deception' throughout nature, all the way down to viruses.

Consider this. Up until a few decades ago, females in developed nations were not encouraged to go into higher education or into the workplace. Cultural pressures encouraged females to focus on having children and the home as this is something which at least reproductively men are physically unable to do. As a consequence, average birth rates were at replacement level (2.1 children per couple) or higher. For at least 40 years, this has no longer been the case, most of the developed world has TFRs below replacement level and ageing populations, hence our recent encouragement of immigration on a massive scale to compensate. But consider this but note, to date, we do not have IQ data for NCAH individuals, which is, I think, rather odd, given its prevalence.

The highest frequency of the most common autosomal recessive polymorphism known in humans is a mildly gender-shifting or at least, sex-sterod shifting genetic polymorphism which is expressed as Non Classic Adrenal Hyperplasia. This is due to polymorphism(s) of the gene CYP21 which is on Chromosome 6p21 which is responsible for an important step (21-OHD) in steroid synthesis and which has the effect of very mildly estrogenising affected males and a very mildly androgenising affected females (far less so and than is the case in full CAH which is far less frequent but far more severe - NCAH does not produce the same physical effects, and may go undiagnosed until adolescence. Males and females are equally affected as it is on an autosome, but the clinical signs for males are much harder to detect).

This polymorphism's prevalence varies markedly between ethnic groups, the highest prevalence being amongst the Ashkenazi Jews with 1/3 carrying one allele, and 1/27 being homozygous. The lowest prevalence or frequency of this CYP21 polymorphism is in Blacks, who are also the most androgenised and possibly the most sexually dimorphic group of humans. I suggest that its is no coincidence that Blacks score lowest on tests of verbal ability/IQ and Jews score the highest.

The original C20th IQ tests were verbally loaded rather than balanced with spatial items). Crudely put, males are better at spatial and females are better at verbal (think ball games vs talking/reading). This sexual dimorphism shows up in all international tests, see the OECD PISA tests which have compared 15 year olds across many countries.

The original USA tests were also largely constructed and standardised by Jewish psychologists (e.g. Simon, Binet and Wechsler) drawing on Simon and Binet's original work and the USA Army Alpha and Beta tests. What I'd like to draw attention to here is how tests are standardised on populations, drawing specific attention to New York City which was where David Wechsler developed the most famous development of these tests the Wechsler Adult Intelligent Scale and the children's version, the WISC).

This was a city which has always had a very large Jewish population. In fact, it may surprise some to learn that in the first decades of C20th it had a Jewish population of nearly 5 million according to the Jewish historian Martin Gilbert (2001,p.19). Today, it has the highest Jewish population outside Israel at nearly 2 million. This would mean that the majority of whites in NYC today are Jewish, the other large ethnic groups being Blacks at over 2 million and Hispanics also well over 2 million. Asians and non Jewish, non Hispanic whites (white gentiles) on the other hand would appear to be the minority groups at under 1 million each.

Now, my question is this. If different ethnic groups and here, I'll include Jews as an ethnic group even though they are never classed as one in USA or UK census data), vary in brain-gender diversity, that is, if some groups have more feminised males than others, what would the consequences be for mean IQ test results and the advancement of different groups?

May this explain the +0.5SD Jewish IQ advantage, and their over respresentation in many positions, i.e. because more of their males are slightly more feminised? One of the signs of NCAH is shorter stature (an estrogenisating effect in males, but one must ask what orther more frequent in females behaviours may covary, NCAH and CAH are marked by unusual stress responses for example). As those in the developed world now live in a more feminised, service sector dominated economy, would this group not be specially advantaged and would that not at root be genetic? By the same token, would the Blacks in this environment not be even more disadvantaged by their lower prevalence of this CYP21 polymorphism?

Using what's now called DIF Differential Item Function analysis) IQ tests are constructed (in my view 'biased') in order to render them 'gender fair'. But here's a problem here. If races and sexes are not genetically all the same in cognitive abilities which they are not), and if some races have more estrogenised males (and androgenised females) than others the very classes of male vs female which we use may be as fuzzy as those of race or ethnicity. Rigid adherence to gender by genitalia may lead to important errors of class inference just as rigid ascription of racial membership may. Think of the offspring of blacks and whites, if there is no 'mixed' category, how would one classify the children? Black or white? Or think about country of origin. Say you came from Uganda in the 1970s but were the offspring of two Indians. Would you class yourself as African or as Indian? Or an even more difficult case still, Indians from British Guyana. Are they Black Caribbean as they certainly are not white? French Guyana is part of France, are its residents South Americans or Europeans? When self-classified ethnicity for DfES PLASC was researched in a few years ago, when government departments moved to the 16+1 coding scheme, it did in some cases appear that children, changed colour (an artifact of course).

However, what this highlights is that whilst there are serious issues in accurately self or other ascription of class membership this does not mean that there's no scientific utility to constructing classes, as this is precisely what biology, including molecular biology (Venter's domain) is premised upon, as is the rest of science. Venter's remarks about race being a social construction and not a scientific one is therefore nonsense. What he means is that there are measurement problems with the concept or race. But when scientists work with classes, they do so knowing that they face measurement error in many guises. That is why functional relationships between classes (ceteris paribus) are expressed probabilistically. This is the case when it comes to race and intelligence.

Deception need not be a conscious group evolutionary strategy, after all, viruses are not 'conscious'. We are unaware of the consequences of much of our behaviour, much of the time, but that does not mean those consequences do not control our rates of behaviour or impact upon those of others.

When we use classes, we use existential and universal quantifiers (SOME=NOT(ALL) and ALL=NOT(SOME) to range over classes, and we talk the language of relative frequencies or probabilities. Actuarially, we make judgements about individuals only as members of classes. There is nothing scientifically wrong with talking about differences in intelligence or any other phenotypic measure as a function of sex or race. Failure to do so does not make us 'race blind', it just makes us ignorant.

What matters here is extensional analysis, not what we think and believe. Sadly, today, all too many of us think that reality conforms to the rule of argument and rhetoric. It doesn't. I hope some on the panel tonight bear that in mind.

  • 20.
  • At 11:49 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

James Watson has retired today, probably bemused at the sorry state of science and Western culture in gteneral. The heat surrounding this entire issue can be put down to the INTENSIONALITY of natural language and an irrational equalitarianism. Is everyone the same height? Look at how Watson's original words have been domestically translated by people who do not understand or do not care to understand that the language of science is EXTENSIONAL not INTENSIONAL.

To talk about this matter rationally requires a sound grasp of the language of science, and most people do not have that, in recent years matters have become progressively worse, and I fear this has been through feminisation, something which has been used as one subversive strategy amongst many. One of the others being race relations legislation and Human Rights. These are all Trotskyite or Gramscist strategies to undermine planned economies/wefare states and to encourage de-regulation i.e anarcho-capitalism.

Science in the West is in trouble. This is now well known. Logic and the evidence on biologically based sex differences in behaviour (at least during the most productive (working) years beteen puberty and 50 or so) says what to do about it, Western culture ignores this and pursues the dself-destructive opposite racing like lemmings toward reproductive unfitness.

A LOGICAL and EMPIRICAL point is being made here in that the INTENSIONAL verbs of propositional
attitude (which are all either explicitly (or cryptically) psychological verbs (think, said, believes, knows, wants, read, wrote) are resistant to LOGICAL quantification, i.e (SOME, ALL) and substitutivity of identicals salva veritate, which is why sentences using them are not truth functional. This is a Quinean point, it was his logical demolition of mentalistic (cognitive) psychology. So long as people, including psychologists, use ordinary language to "debate" these matters, and so long as they do not
understand the hopeless practical indeterminacy of translation and incrutability of reference which
plagues natural language, i.e. that natural language is just a modus vivendi, the politics of IQ will
not go away and will be abused.

Kahneman got his Nobel for explicating some of the INTENSIONAL heuristics. They do not go away once
pointed out. It is why the Home Office and DFES continue to make a mess of things, squandering (or
money pumping) millions if not billions in the process. The best one can say about that is that it
redistributes capital.

The problem is one of language and logic, i.e our medium of expression. It's why much of what is said in programmes like "The Moral Maze" end up being inconsequential rubbish because the language of morals and ethics is largely intensional too.

Given that more and more females are entering further and higher education and the workplace, the
prognosis is not good. Females appear to have a problem with extensionality, they will avoid it if they can, and they don't choose the sciences, they choose the arts or subjects where extensionality is
low. A statistical point, not absolute one as always, but it is a dramatic difference, not a minor

Why there might be censorship of race and sex differences in cognitive ability? Might there be concern that we may not be able to easily poach the brighter Africans/S Asians (as even Frattini now acknowledges we must given our low birth rates) if these IQ differentials and their likely genetic basis (and hence immutability through education for their off-spring, though promised by Blair and co) is made too explicit? If so, I could understand the logic of that, but I'd like to know that it's something as 'intelligent' (i.e. predatory and selfish) as that as it can only cripple their local
economies etc through depriving them of their brighter people as the doctor ratio is 1:10,000 in some
African countries it is far worse.

This *is* a complex issue, so please bear with me if what I write here seem at times a little arcane
(although that may just be an excuse for poor writing skills of course).

Multicollinearity i.e. the high *correlation* between independent variables in the DfES CVA regression
model (a model developed by the DfES and used by schools and probably OFSTED) to predict attainment in
National Curriculum Key Stages based on background and prior attainment variables) needs to be considered when thinking about counter arguments to the well replicated findings of educability differences by ethnicity. This is not about arguing, it is about evidence.

If anyone has any doubts about the reality and reliability of cognitive ability differences across groups, just have a look at the DFES Standards website and download the .pdf listed below. Look up the
rank ordering of ethnic groups in the Key Stages 1,2,3,4. KS3 and KS4 outcome is predicted by schools
throughout the country using tests like the NFER Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) which is an IQ test which draws heavily on the work of Cattell (who incidentally, was denied an APA lifetime achievement award essentially for his work/remarks on racial differences. Shockley, another Nobel laureate was also given the Watson treatment years ago).

One should not be misled by the Context Value Added regression model as it weights ethnicity somewhat
eccentrically, in that tries to load weightings onto SES variables. To understand why this may be a
problem one needs to know something about multicollinearity in statistics. This term covers when two or independent variables in a multiple or logistic regression equation are highly correlated. This is bound to be the case in the DFES CVA model, as some ethnic groups are also very low income groups as
indicated by high frequency of Free School Meals and other indices of poverty.

But I suggest this may be yet another example of 'left-wing' environmentalist government spin
intruding into science as loading the economic indicator rather than ethnic group membership could be
used to justify more investment in environmental input i.e. more funding of schools in New Labour's
voting heartlands (this money will largely go on building and other services which means the money
really goes elsewhere note). The empirical evidence, on the other hand, shows that SES is a
*consequence* of cognitive ability, not the determinant as so often claimed, and that environmental
interventions, when examined critically, basically come down to preventing parents from making matters worse for their offspring through poor nutrition and other physical damage (pre and post- natally) so they don't *lower* the cognitive ability of their offspring still further. This appears to be the only 'environmental' contribution to intelligence, it does not come through teaching or other interventions (which are often sold as snake-oil):

Watson's treatment may have got some publicity for his book, but elsewhere, what we see all too often
today is how socially constructed, 'rule governed behaviour' (in the form of legislation and derived guidelines) gags and hog-ties those working in public bodies because of proscriptions within the EU Convention of Human Rights and our derivative equalities legislation, set to get more repressive because of the even more comprehensive Fundamental Charter of Human Rights. Scientific truth doesn't seem to matter here. The law proscribes behaviours, much of it at the expense of another Article, freedom of thought (note, not speech).

Why this is problematic is that if one doesn't take statistical base rates (relative frequency differences) in ability as a function of gene barriers into consideration in say, Human
Resources/recruitment, one risks positively discriminating *in favour* of BME groups, whilst negatively discriminating against members of non-BME groups, and what's more, one does so paradoxically, on grounds of race, even though this is clearly proscribed. Where this leads, and has led in the past, should be of some concern. I outline one such scenarios below grounded in UK
Home Office policy.

In recent years, the UK Probation Service had HR targets which required HR to recruit proportional
to the local community BME. As I read the history, they had to lower standards in order to meet these
local recruitment targets. This was rather an effective way of subverting this Public Sector service, a service which the government allegedly wanted to make more 'efficient'. Since the passing
of the Offender Management Act, much of Probation's interventions) work (which doesn't work, see the drugs link below, or any review of 'Cognitive Skills') will now be given to the Third and Private Sectors, leaving Probation staff to do what they like doing least (2/3 of the staff are now female, a swap over from a decade or so ago), i.e. Offender Management (which will also probably in years to come I suspect).

An example of Lysenkoist, ie, environmentalist interventions which do not work, which is critically
relevant to last week's Moral Maze discussion:,,2193952,00.html

More worrying still, it's been said before (see earlier comments to Newsnight blog) how 'education,
education, education' and open borders will inevitably dumb down the population. This seems to be
what's happening today, and over the past decade at least, it's been reinforced (note not initiated)
by New Labour. There's been so much on 'dumbing down' over recent years that it's hard to believe that
anyone doubts it any more. Good research on the National Curriculum (The Massey Report undertaken in
Northern Ireland on behalf of the DfES) was published around the time that concerns were raised by
Chris Woodhead about the QCA and government interference (politicisation of the Civil Service became a big problem with Thatcher as she tried to roll baclk the state (see Anarcho-capitalism and Trotskyism, Keith Joseph was a socialist, so was Hayek - they are all opposed to planned economies and welfare states and use the language of inefficiency to privatise or farm out to the Third Sector).

We have only recently heard that the QCA/NAA is finally to be restructured, or at least further
distanced from Government. The same is happening in the USA (look up earlier Newsnight links to ETS
and America's Perfect Storm in comments from the same author listed at the head of this post, also
look up The Leitch Report for the problem in the UK.

That scores on IQ tests have risen over many decades all over the world doesn't contradict any of this. Some might try to explain away the -2SD mean score (70) for sub-Saharan Africa along the lines that this part of the continent is about 100 years behind the West culturally (using tests created for European populations in the early part of the C20th on today's population would produce a mean rise of about 30 points, which would mean that by today's standards, Europeans had a mean IQ of 70 in the early C20th, and projecting back a couple of hundred years, the IQs of infra-humans, and nobody believes that. Alternatively, one could look at the African scores and think about them as similar to children's scores. Aside from these paradoxes, the fact is that the scores today differ, they differ markedly, and education does not appear to raise IQ. Whilst the Flynn-Effect is still a thorny issue in psychometrics, if one looks at the NFER CAT2e (standardised in the 80s) to CAT3 re-standardisation a few years back (a sample of pupils took both tests in the CAT3 standardisation a few years ago), pupils scored higher on the latter because the CAT3 was easier. This can be taken as some evidence
that the population has dumbed down just a little between the 1980s and today, and I suggest that has been through a) dysgenesis (high birth rates in lower ability sector and lower births in the higher) but mainly b) through unprecedented large scale immigration over the past twenty years or so. When you
read about an Anti-Flynn Effect (dysgenesis) in our schools, ask where those schools are and how our
population ethnic demographics have changed over the decades.

The use of old tests (standardised decades ago) on current populations *are* dubious validity as pointed out above, as they were standardised long ago and again, paradoxically, item exposure can filter into the culture surreptitiously. So it is quite remarkable that we *have* seen a dip in ability. This might be taken as a very worrying sign that even the Flynn Effect is no longer working to mask dysgenesis. That I suggest, is the consequence of large scale African and South Asian

It's within cohort *relations* between sub-populations which matters along with the numbers rising in those sub-populations due to differences in group fertility/TFR plus immigration changing the 'gene pool'.

Data suggest that we are producing far more in the bottom half of the ability distribution (regardless
of race) and far fewer in the top half, and we appear to have been doing this for decades.

Censuring Watson, or anyone else who reports on the epidemiology of differences in IQ or any other
biological characteristic is anathema to science and is likely to be culturally and socially harmful
as we've already seen in the wake of the recent AESOP study on the varying prevalence of psychiatric
disorder across different groups and under-diagnosis as a function of fear of charges of discrimination, as reported in Newsnight some time back.

Finally, there does appear to be a clear 'liberal' bias in the press which makes it very difficult for
many to see both sides of this complex issue. I hope this post contributes a little towards encouraging others to ask healthy questions and to combat, rather ironically, the dangerous prejudices
which are endemic today. So long as we are victims to the equality myth, those who command more attention through greater verbal ability are likely to command a disproportionately greater share of
resources even in terms of research funds invested in research into disorders such as breast cancer
(see the BRA genes or the AR gene and its CAGn repeats) as diseases, like intelligence vary in frequency by ethnic groups (hence the HAPMAP and Human Genome Diversity Project).

A link to The Moral Maze Sunday night on the James Watson affair. The audio will be available for a

Also a link to an oddly ill-informed (in my view) Nature Editorial. This appears to be further sad testament to what I have said about there being something seriously wrong in science, or at least something different about science these days:

Below is a further, earlier example of this odd behaviour (an earlier one still was Shockley's treatment over much the same issue):

Some links to material tacitly referenced in earlier comments:

First, listen to Trivers on how deception and self-deception works in biology. It is not intentional.
Folk psychology, believe it or not, is anathema to science, especially behavioural science. Very little of what is covered in earlier posts is planned or conspiratorial. It is just the outcome of group behaviour. Those involved do not necessarily have any awareness of what they are doing any more than they understand how their livers or brains work. The language of science is extensional, not intensional.
Examples of verbal loadings in some IQ test construction (see Chris Brand's online book on 'g' or
Arthur Jensen's book on 'g'):;jsessionid=4g5i1pc7jc
i9o.alice?format=print Population base rates NYC nearly 5million in 1910) but see Kahneman's Nobel
speech and base-rate neglect):
On over-representation and *possible* bias in shaping legislation:
Rank ordering from Chinese through Black Caribbean corroborated by UK DfES Key Stages:
Environmental contribution may not be positive or what you think it is:
Some strange criticisms, and 'translations', notably by Marxists/Trotskyites:
How and why well meant interventions don't work (natural rewards work via the same systems illicit drugs work upon):,,2193952,00.html
A taboo which should be looked into more objectivity given Stalin's demand November 29, 1943, Soviet
Embassy, Tehran 8:30 PM:
Why immigration of skilled people from Africa and S Asia can not be good for Africans or S Asians:

Finally, give some thought to the recent exchanges between Trivers, Dershowitz and Finkelstein.

  • 21.
  • At 05:34 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Moderator - If possible, please replace the badly formatted version of #20 with the better formatted version which was posted this morning. The 'Preview' option was not working, so hard C/Rs could not be spotted and removed. There were one or two other minor typos correctd in the second attempt.

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