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Posted by Religion_Host (U1716878) on Wednesday, 24th October 2007
James Watson discovered this week that being a distinguished Nobel prize winning scientist is no protection when you stray in to controversial territory. His claim that race and intelligence are linked provoked outraged condemnation. Lectures and speaking engagements were cancelled and the professor had to fly home to America, as he put it, to save his job. The science in this area is hotly disputed, but are there any ideas or theories that should be off limits? Should scientists be mindful of the social context in which their work is carried out, or is the quest for the acquisition of knowledge and academic freedom of speech beyond such concerns?
Melanie Phillips, Ian Hargreaves, Claire Fox and Prof. Jules Pretty cross-examine the experts, live, on the Moral Maze just after the news at 8 o'clock tonight on BBC Radio 4.
Posted by rob0x41 (U9723098) on Wednesday, 24th October 2007
Are there any ideas which are off limits?
At the BBC, apparently yes: any questioning of Gordon Brown's HOUSING policies, or discussion of possible changes that would bring house prices DOWN.
Suggestion: devote one Wednesday evening to 'Owning your own home--right or privilege?'
Posted by Godless George (U2816926) on Wednesday, 24th October 2007
Suggestion: devote one Wednesday evening to 'Owning your own home--right or privilege?'
I think it's a freedom, not a right.
Posted by MaggieTurner (U10147574) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
The panel did (as usual) a sterling job last night with this tricky issue but there is something missing from the debate in general about this issue of science.
I feel that a question that should have been posed in last night's debate is, 'Is the academic intelligence that we measure in these tests and seem to value so highly truly worthy of the status it recieves in the scale of worth of human abilities or should we reassess what contributions are made by all diverse groups across the world and focus on the unique strengths of each, thereby valuing all contributions equally.'
We should not ignore scientific discoveries. We should question and reassess current thinking in light of new evidence. How we do that is heavily weighted by social values. It is not the science that should be changed by popular opinion but these values.
The hysteria that accompanies any crticism of any non-white race stifles debate and development. As a teacher of mostly African origin students and colleague to many from Africa I have the evidence of my own experience to prove to me that the generality of the statement regarding African intelligence is not proven to my satisfaction. However there IS a great disparity between some people's intellectual abilities and others and I think this research is simply a step on the way to facing up to the fact that some people are not as intelectually able as others - and that cuts across all racial boundaries. One day in my post-16 literacy class will prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Posted by cmonmancity (U7876692) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
Assuming it was possible, would someone please explain to me the point of measuring the average intelligence between races?
Posted by katoftheworld (U10144747) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
This was an interesting discussion. The poor social scientist who came on wasn't able to argue her position very well, but one of the other guests did a great job of it. He pointed out that was is called science is not all about hard facts. There is, presumably, something called 'truth' or 'reality' out there. This we take for granted. And scientists can devise certain ways of trying to measure what they believe is out there. However, the process of doing this, and the following interpretation of the results, is necessarily a subjective activity. A scientists accepted 'knowledge' and personal beliefs about a matter may influence not only his methodologies but also his interpretation of the results. This has been an ongoing critique in the case of IQ testing because the tests are designed by Western scientists and are therefore ethnocentrically based on what has been defined in that context as intelligence. This is not an aside as it seems to be in the description of this program, it's a key point.
In the field of human geography, and I could say social science in general, there is an increasing understanding and awareness of this subjectivity of interpretation. This is something that has seemingly always been left out of the natural sciences. Instead, the natural sciences are toted as 'fact' and 'reality'. And you'll see in this argument that Melanie Phillips keeps insisting, 'but what if it's TRUE'.
But is science ever 'true'? Or is it just 'accepted.' A great book on this subject is Thomas Kuhn's 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' in which he points out that things accepted as scientifically true by the entire scientific community often get subsequently disproven and ultimately re-theorized based on new studies.
The main problem is people's acceptance of science as truth and the removal of the scientist from the process. There is an assumption that scientists are objective, whereas a social scientist would argue that it is not possible for a human being to be completely objective. By necessity we have to accept some things as grounds for our knowledge and by doing so we are making a value judgement. The number of people that believe in the same thing as we do in science may lend to our confidence in it, but it doesn't actually prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's true.
Therefore, the question should not be whether scientists should or shouldn't be allowed to state their findings if their findings are controversial. The real issue is about humility. It's not that Watson should be disallowed from presenting his research on intelligence, but he should be disallowed from feeding into the public a statement such as 'blacks are less intelligent than others.' He should instead be required to say 'In using this particular methodology, I found that people of this type or from this area performed less well on this test in general.' These are the findings. The rest is his value judgement of the findings.
So my point is, every scientist has the absolute right and even arguably the responsibilty to present their findings and to open them up to scrutiny. However, in terms of their value judgements, they need to a) be self-aware of the fact that they present in their research and that their conclusions will be necessarily based on what they have accepted as knowledge and also how they personally interpret what they've found and b) avoid making statements about 'truth' and 'fact' and instead present their findings and their conclusions in the most honest way that they can.
In short, the natural sciences need a healthy dose of self-reflection. Natural scientists could learn a lot from social scientists, philosophers and others if only they could stop looking down their noses at them for long enough to absorb what they were saying.
Scientists are not god, they are people, just like the rest of us, and the words that come out of their mouths are not truths, they are theories based on studies. Be careful about what you accept as truth, and think hard about why you are accepting it.
Posted by nolotusblossom (U10150378) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
I do believe we should have free speech, but with freedom comes responsibility. If you are a prominent scientist you should be aware that your views and research are taken seriously. James Watson is not just stupid but also dangerous saying Black people are less intelligent than White people. How do we define intelligence anyway?
I cringed throughout the first interview where it was argued Chinese are more intelligent than White people and it is something most person say too, but just because you come with a 'positive' stereotype it is still a stereotype and restricting. It also made me cringed that the race was called 'Orientals'. I know that many people use that word, but it is banned in many states in America because it is a racist word, it is also sexualising women.
And yes, I am called 'Oriental' and I hate it. If you want to define me by my race call me Asian, or if you want to be more specific East Asian. England has a problem with defining races. Here Asian is Indian, Pakistanis, the 'Orientals' are normally considered to be Chinese and who cares whether they are Japanese, Korean or whatever? They are all the same after all - hardworking, polite, quiet, good in school, non-threatening.
White people in general like East Asians over Black people, but it is because of a different stereotype they have of them and, yes it is a stereotype. I am not always hardworking, polite, quiet, I don't bow to men or think they are superior to women and most East Asians I have met don't sit around talking philosophy showing off a brilliant brain and many are bad at math.
I have met many stupid Black people, just like I have met a lot of stupid White people and there are also plenty of stupid East Asians. It is just a human condition I guess.
Scientists may say things that many think in silence and are not allowed to express because it is not 'fashionable' to be racist and we just go on with it in a sublte way 'I am not racist, I like my Chinese/Japanese/Thai whatever girlfriend/neighbour/friend because they are so nice, sweet, studious.' To think an entire race is on thing clever or stupid, quiet or loud, passive or aggressive, is seeing them as a mass, not as individuals.
Posted by rob0x41 (U9723098) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
I think it's a freedom, not a right.
You mean a freedom that doesn't deserve to be protected?
Doesn't that equal privilege?
Posted by I-am-a-Number (U7768784) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
Just a general point-
The quality of the discussion of this topic on the Ethics and Freethought board is higher and at greater length.
Watson was seen carrying a can of petrol. He thought he was just going to get his car going [book sold]. He has been widely missquoted and I do not believe that he is a racist.
As Craig Venter said the degree of overlap of the three bell curves for the intelligence test results of Afro-Caribean/ Caucasian/ East Asian is so considerable that there is more difference within the groups [ it is wrong to call them races they are not] than between any two individuals belonging to different groups taken at random.
That said Saint Bob [Geldorf] has railled against the problems of endemic poor governance in Africa which may be largely cultural. Watson may also have to deal with so called "positive" discrimination promoting african americans into positions which they are unsuited to.
The media and liberal establishment are oversensitive as to what they see as being potentially inflamatory. This is not a racially unstable country. We do not have frequent riots. The far right do not have any MPs unlike in France. The result is that we are not as free to speak as we used to be.
Posted by cmonmancity (U7876692) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
"The panel did (as usual) a sterling job last night with this tricky issue"
I disagree, the panel were poor and on a number of levels.
Firstly they accepted the case itself which is not proven:
a) Who defines intelligence?
b) Intelligence is clearly made up of many components. Assuming they are measurable, who decides the weighting of those components?
c) Does the mere existence of 100s of studies equate to proof?
Secondly, they didn't discuss, even if the case were proveable what use is it?
a) In a world of limited resource why is so much effort being expended on this?
b) Why should Africans now be forced to expend further limited resource debunking this?
Thirdly there were the unchallenged throw away comments:
a) "West Africans are better sprinters because blah blah....Kenyans are better long distance runners because more blah blah".
It couldn't possibly be because they simply want it more and work/train harder could it!?!
b) "Science should be outside politics..."
Having convinced someone to pay for the years of research, would any such scientist be able to come back and say "All races are equally intelligent?" and then get funding for his/her next research project?
c) "Why don't we just open up the debate and laugh at it..."
Does anyone really believe racists care what is proven after the event?
They have the quote they wanted from an eminent scientist. Anything the rest of us say now is just p*****g in the wind!
"The hysteria that accompanies any crticism of any non-white race stifles debate and development"
You appear to be suggesting that if the criticism had been of the white race there would have been no hysteria.
I wonder what would have happened if he'd 'discovered' the Jews were less intelligent than the Germans?...
Posted by Godless George (U2816926) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
You mean a freedom that doesn't deserve to be protected?
Doesn't that equal privilege?
I think the freedom should be protected, but there are other perfectly reasonable alternatives to owning you own home, such as renting (which I did for nearly 2 decades without ever feeling my human rights were being infringed).
Posted by logic-chopping (U8386051) on Friday, 26th October 2007
I once went for two intelligent tests on different days. On one test my IQ was 147 and on the other it was 112.
That is just one person, if IQ tests can vary like that what use are they?
Posted by RapheMagnus (U10137314) on Thursday, 25th October 2007
www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/... *is* a complex issue, so please bear with me if what I write here seem at times a litle 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.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).www.standards.dfes.g...
[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]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):www.developingchild.... 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).www.bbc.co.uk/radio4... 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:www.bbc.co.uk/radio4... worrying still, it's been said before (see Newsnigh 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 (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. 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 Afrcian 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 ediucation 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 immigration. 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).
Posted by RapheMagnus (U10137314) on Sunday, 28th October 2007
See section III:
and see the epidemiology/genetics literature generally for group differences in the risk of diseases. Why not cognitive abilities, some of which are clearly affected by congenital disorders (see the variation in risk for Special Educational Need category by ethnic group in the UK published by the DfES).
Is this really any longer a matter for 'debate' or is it really just a problem of education?
Posted by RapheMagnus (U10137314) on Monday, 29th October 2007
WHY THE SCIENCE CAN'T BE LEFT OUT
(or why 'xxxxx For Dummies' are over-rated)
The first part of this comment is a brief, deceptively simple, but hopefully clear illustration using a *trivial* but revealing example of an intensional context or intentional idiom - in this case, 'said (that)'.
In most instances of our use of the psychological verbs of propositional attitude the problem isn't obvious (we collude in this folly), and it gets harder to deal with the faster people speak and the longer they speak. It is related to the familiar concept of 'Chinese Whispers' (in psychology, Serial Reproduction) or colloquially, just 'reporting').
If encountering this central issue in the philosophy of language and mind for the first time, give it a little time to sink in, as it's far more of a problem than many of us initially appreciate, and note in particular what's said about the Intensional circle below. This goes on all the time if you look at verbal behaviour, and how people give explanations of their other behaviour. Most of it is wildly superstitious, after all, why have a behavioural science if our folk psychology was all that we needed?
Anne: "Margaret Thatcher lived at 10 Downing Street in 1980."
Adrienne: "The MP for Finchley lived at 10 Downing Street in 1980."
Joyce: "Anne said that the MP for Finchley lived at 10 Downing Street in 1980."
Quinean/Skinnerian: "Joyce, you are telling lies".
Joyce: "How dare you, Anne said the same thing that Adrienne said."
Quinean/Skinnerian: "No, 'said that' is a psychological or intensional verb of propositional attitude. These idioms do not allow the subordinate clause to be substituted and also preserve the truth, as such, they are said to produce an intensional context. Anne did not say "The MP for Finchley" she said "Margaret Thatcher". The fact that they refer to the same person is irrelevant to describing her (verbal) behaviour accurately/truthfully, and this reveals something very odd about the psychological verbs which is not the case with non-psychological verbs. This is why Behaviour Analysts avoid using them. The same goes for verbs like 'thinks', 'read', 'wrote', 'believes', 'hopes', 'remembered and any other psychological verb. The fact is that substitutivity of coextensives (Margaret Thatcher=The MP from Finchley) which is the hallmark of scientific languages (like that of maths (where 2+2=3+1) or chemistry etc) breaks down in such linguistic contexts, and is summed up by saying that intensional contexts fail substitutivity of identicals salva veritate (i.e. saving or preserving the truth) or that they are resistant to reliable existential quantification. The core intensional, or mentalistic notion is that of 'meaning'."
This largely accounts for spin and much more besides (the nonsense of asserting that its how things are perceived that matters, which is just a euphemism which pretends to legitimise lying). Sadly, this flaw in our natural language and its folk psychology renders 'cognitive science' pretty much an oxymoron.
The existential quantification variant on the same theme which highlights this problem with our common sense way of talking (where appeals to 'meaning' (the dubious psychological notion at the root of all of this) is the use of pronouns like 'it' which substitute for when we speak about classes or members of classes. These are our tools of reference. Quantifiers are place markers in deductive inference (or argument), and the quantifier is used to range over a variable (x or 'it') assuming that 'it' always refers to the *same* thing. One can see how existential quantifiers break down in intensional contexts through substitutivity failure as highlighted above, as the intensional verbs do not allow this reliably (we often try to get away with it by calling in one psychological verb to justify another and surreptitiously/egregiously just go around in a circle, the intensional circle - the dubious domain of psychology in fact, and one which Quine and Skinner (the two pillars of C20th Radical or Evidential Behaviourism - note, this is where all the talk of 'evidence based' and 'evidence driven' practice came from several years ago) sought to exorcise from science).
This is a Quinean logical point bearing on what is a scientific or extensional statement (extensional contexts are those which are not intensional), and it was used by him in the 1950s and 1960s as a logical demolition of mentalistic (cognitive) psychology. He and Skinner were then bemused/horrified in the 60s and 70s as Cognitive Psychology came to displace Behaviour Analysis! In fact, they pretty much got the same sort of treatment that Watson got for his recent statement about race and intelligence, and for very similar reasons, namely, what they said threatened the status quo (and in the case of the intensional idioms and Cognitive Science, seriously threatened the legitimacy of large areas of academia, i.e. jobs). Like Watson, they were the leaders in their fields.
This political oddity aside (i.e. that Quine and Skinner largely lost to popular opinion rather than to fact), so long as we (and that include those who call themselves 'psychologists') use ordinary language and the intensional idioms to 'debate' matters like race and intelligence, and so long as we do not understand the practical consequences of the indeterminacy of translation and inscrutability of reference which plagues our natural language (i.e. that natural language is just a modus vivendi in lieu of the languages of the sciences which have been
developed as specialised supplements), the politics of IQ will not go away and will continue to be controversial and abused.
A good talk on the nonsensical way we tend to naturally talk and think:
(The others here are worth listening to as well):
In the final analysis, some Articles in the Fundamental Charter of Human Rights (2000) which will probably now become law, will continue to make scientific fact subordinate to legal proscription. Those in public office are responsible for implementing anti-discrimination and other EU law, whether they think the law makes sense or not. That is just how the rule of law operates. The problem on the horizon is that I suspect cases will be taken to the European Court whether or not they are legitimate cases or not, and that the effect of this will be to pressure those managing public bodies (e.g. schools) to capitulate to pressure from those who seek to exploit this more extensive Human Rights legislation for egregious political or personal reasons as the time and cost of fighting such cases will be just too much I suspect.
This is why I say that the legislation (which will become law and elaborate our Equalities legislation like never before, despite the assertions and promises of New Labour) is, I think, cleverly 'subversive'.
For some recent talk in the wake of Watson's remarks which predictably went nowhere largely precisely for the reasons outlined above see here, and note, as many will attest, many who have posted comments to the Guardian CiF which are in contravention to the Guardian 'Talk Policy' have found their comments on this subject in the passed, oddly deleted without any remarks from the moderator, whilst other users have been known to have their IP addresses blocked. This results in a very selective picture being presented to the world. It happens elsewhere of course.
The relationship between ethnicity, IQ, genes and educability has been discussed in many CiF threads over the last year, but one might not believe so reading the articles and comments in the wake of the rather mundane remark from Watson a week or so ago. What appears to matter is not *what* is said, but *who* says it, even though this is clearly irrational, i.e this is just argument from authority, the other side of the ad hominem. What matters is whether statements correspond with the facts, regardless of who says it. Credit assugnment is a key principle in operant conditioning (listen to Skinner's 'On Having A Poem').
Yet the contrary, bad editing/spin seems to be the rule rather than the exception on these matters today, and it effectively renders these subjects taboo, others are rational discussion about the merits or otherwise of 'Holocaust Denial' in terms of the post war (partially implemented) Morgenthau Plan (cf. Dexter White note elsewhere) as allied (including Soviet) post war de-nazification of Germany and beyond, or reporting that 'Cognitive Skills' and other intervention initiatives in prisons or schools such as HeadStart, SureStart, Aiming High or SEAL do not work (which is what the evidence strongly suggests). Say any of this and expect scorn and censorhip.
People get very emotional about these issues as they have vested interests regardless of the validity of those interests, others, seeing the controversy, just switch off.
What Rose, along with Kamin and Lewontin wrote in their 1980s book 'Not in Our Genes' has proven to be misguided. To see why, one has to go and look at the post-genome research evidence, not argue. Sadly most people won't do that, and that's what those with a political agenda will count on. Reading Rose's articles in CiF one picks up on the invective just as one does in the Finkelstein-Dershowitz-Trivers exchanges, and it's this invective which is used to stifle rational analysis.
The first part of this comment illustrated, I hope, how this happens, and I suggest that many with a political agenda abuse intensional language precisely in order to make this happen and to thus stifle productive work which they consider at odds with their political (here, Trotskyite/anarcho-capitalist) agenda.
Here is another researcher in the race and intelligence field giving an account of how difficult it is to just do the work.
To dismiss the probable heritability of cognitive ability (largely inferred from the high IQ correlations between monozygotic twins raised apart) because mating isn't random (i.e. because there is assortive mating) is egregious, as the classic assumptions of the Hardy-Weinburg probability equation are violated in practically all work in genetics, and one is playing a very dubious word game with one of the assumptions if one dismisses the heritability of intelligence on the grounds of non random mating given that one initially assumes the null hypothesis, i.e. randomness between variables when one tries to reject the null-hypothesis. Although there is recombination of parental DNA, clearly genetic anomalies are passed down generations (just think of sex-linked disorders), and many forget that whilst chromosomes cross over and recombine, the same genes are still passed on, they just end up on one or the other chromosome.
Furthermore, strict assumptions are violated in practically all statistical testing in science, that doesn't mean that all research using statistics is pseudo-science (some of it is, but that is what peer review and criticism after publication is all about). It just means that one has to be sceptical in science, albeit not anarchically/nihilistically so, but that is the game which some of the Marxists play, see earlier comments on LM etc. Since the sequencing of the genome, the major problem which seems to have blighted genetics (and behavioural genetics research which goes beyond SNPs and looks to combinations of genes (QTLs) has been replicability, which comes down to this very difficult methodological, statistical/logical problem, and to use it solely against the genes and IQ issue is clearly egregious as it applies to all of the research on QTLs. Remember, back in 1936, the USSR effectively legislated against genetics and educational psychology. One might ask, given the response to Watson, and other developments covered in other comments, whether we are not seeing something like that in the West today.
Those who were ideologically opposed to the research on genes and intelligence in 1980s made it very clear that they had a Marxist, 'social justice' agenda, which whilst noble at the time, has been rendered impractical, or at least made highly suspect in terms of delivery, by both genome research and the failure of all social intervention programmes to have a significant impact. This needs to be taken very seriously given that we are now about to take on yet even more Human Rights legislation through the FCHR in the EU Reform Treaty.
Some more food for thought. If large numbers of smarter Africans leave home for the EU, what will that do to the mean IQ of their home countries? This is another perspective on the observation that 'Black people in Africa are less intelligent than white people in Europe' (bear in mind that means are just one measure of Central Tendency, i.e. a summary of the dispersion of scores in a frequency distribution) and that many people forget this and talk of *AN* average as if that is somehow true of ALL in the population. Statistical language doesn't work like that. There may just be proportionately more people scoring in some of the lower frequency classes in Africa than Whites they do in Europe, or East Asians. That's all that mean differences can amount to, the bell curves are not disjoint, i.e. they overlap considerably. With that in mind, now bear in mind the first part of this comment, and listen closely to people when they talk about race and intelligence (or sex and intelligence). Most people (and that includes some scientists when they talk in natural language to people writing in the popular media for the layman, get this completely wrong as they can't, in such a context talk clearly about classes on such matters. That is, they either don't know, or just can't apply, the language of science within this domain. It's why scientists/specialists tend to talk amongst themselves these days. How could it be otherwise? There are no good 'xxxxx For Dummies' books for what should be an obvious reason, i.e. if it could all be explained that way, the journals would read that way.
Incidentally, Rose does not work in the field of genes and intelligence, and it should be understood, but isn't, that most people working in neuroscience know very little about behaviour (for most, they may as well be working on the liver, and they would admit it).
A more balanced article on the Watson/censorship issue was that by Sue Blackmore:
and these should be read:
Watson's response in the Independent on the 19th should be read very carefully in the context of what I've illustrated about the intensionaliy of natural language.
It should also be more obvious than it clearly is that there are genetic differences between groups, as if there were not, how would we be able to tell the differences between Black people and White people? Not only can we tell from phenotype, we can tell from genotytpe (albeit usually by 'junk' rather than coding, DNA).
Posted by rachelkellett (U1546871) on Tuesday, 30th October 2007
Yes, Maggie Turner, I agree, the key is finding the right question:
Sub Saharan Africans are faster runners than Europeans. //
Sub Saharan Africans are better athletes than Europeans //
Europeans are faster thinkers than Sub Saharan Africans. //
Europeans are more intelligent than Sub Saharan Africans. //
Is faster better?
Is slower inferior?
Is intelligence better and superior?
I am reminded of Guns Germs and Steel by Jarred Diamond. As far as I remember, he measured the people of PNG (Papua New Guinea) as being more intelligent than he, yet as they asked him, why is it that Europeans ended up conquering so much of the world or or, as one of Diamond's New Guinean friends asks him, why do they have all the "cargo"?
Some attribute differing political and economic successes of the world's peoples to biological, "racial" differences like Genetics. Others appeal to cultural differences or to historical contingency. But Diamond sees the fundamental causes as environmental, resting ultimately on ecological differences between the continents.
- evolutionary agriculture, (grasses, animals).
Posted by RapheMagnus (U10137314) on Tuesday, 30th October 2007
Re: Diamond - have a look at the comments on the interview with Edwards' regarding his 2003 paper in response to Lewontin (see Rose in the Guardian Comment Is Free for a further example of verbal legerdemain).
The (Marxist) politics are more than a little egregious, and appear to count on the fact that many people will not understand multivariate statistics.
Posted by malizon (U10119599) on Tuesday, 30th October 2007
<And yes, I am called 'Oriental' and I hate it. If you want to define me by my race call me Asian, or if you want to be more specific East Asian.>
nolotusblossom, you'll love me! I always refer to people from the Orient as Asian but I'm afraid I always have to add 'you know, the Chinese/Oriental lady who comes here on Tuesdays.' And I always get the same blank stare and sometimes 'oh, I'd never have described her as Asian'.
The lady I'm using as an example is American so I usually mention that description first....if at first you don't succeed!
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