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November 18, 2007 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Among white Americans, the average IQ, as of a decade or so ago, was 103. Among Asian-Americans, it was 106. Among Jewish Americans, it was 113. Among Latino Americans, it was 89. Among African-Americans, it was 85. Was Watson right?
posted by landis (473 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
IQ tests aren't even close to being standardized across all those groups, and I believe I read something that mentioned there is quite often cultural biases in questioning.

Didn't I also read that the 100 point on IQ tests is set at the median and that it is adjusted every few years?

I'm also in more of the camp that critical thinking can be taught (Edward de Bono) and that by training the specific skills/questions that they test for in IQ tests you will simply score higher on them.
posted by so_ at 11:55 AM on November 18, 2007


East asians are genetically pre-disposed to longer lives?! WTF?
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2007


One of the few brilliant things Ayn Rand ever said:
"A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race - and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin."

Everyone who agrees with landis above has to confront the fact that they are disgusting, contemptible racists.
posted by nasreddin at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2007 [11 favorites]


These statistics are worthless, because the differences are cultural.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on November 18, 2007


delete this fpp.
posted by Fupped Duck at 12:01 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


If this is true, how come all my Jewish friends are borderline retarded?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:01 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


<seinfeld>I don't think we should be talking about this.</seinfeld>
posted by hjo3 at 12:02 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]



Gene Expression: James Watson Tells the Inconvenient Truth: Faces the Consequences
posted by psyche7 at 12:02 PM on November 18, 2007


"Many Christians are going through a similar struggle over evolution. Their faith in human dignity rests on a literal belief in Genesis. To them, evolution isn't just another fact; it's a threat to their whole value system."

That came completely out of left field and is a lousy analogy bordering on a non sequitur.

I believe IQ has very little to do with a person's ability to perform a task better than someone else. In my own (albeit limited) life experience, a person's purported IQ means next to nothing to me when I need them to show up to work on time, or write a review, or manage complex systems - in fact, everyone I've ever met who makes it a point to mention their abnormally high IQ is usually over-compensating for something else.

I know a number of people who have very high IQs who couldn't pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:03 PM on November 18, 2007 [14 favorites]


Come back to us when you've controlled for education and childhood nutrition. In the mean time, make sure the door hits you on the way out.
posted by louie at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [42 favorites]


All I know is that no one is better than anyone else, and everyone is the best at everything
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [14 favorites]


there is quite often cultural biases in questioning.

It would be an interesting exercise to design an IQ test that would advantage African-Americans.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know it's not politically correct to point this out, but people who equate IQ test results with intelligence tend to be, like Mensa members, self-absorbed social retards. Go ahead, villify me for speaking truth to power.
posted by phooky at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [29 favorites]


Everyone who agrees with landis above has to confront the fact that they are disgusting, contemptible racists.

What's there to agree with? He just stated some facts and asked a question. Talk about overreacting.
posted by hjo3 at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


It would be prudent to observe, at the start of whatever discussion might follow, that IQ is a limited metric, much in debate for years. IQ tests measure specific attributes of intelligence, mainly verbal, linguistic, and spacial intelligence. Some have long disputed that this is a limited set of any individual's abilities, gifts, and potential:
In the heyday of the psychometric and behaviorist eras, it was generally believed that intelligence was a single entity that was inherited; and that human beings - initially a blank slate - could be trained to learn anything, provided that it was presented in an appropriate way. Nowadays an increasing number of researchers believe precisely the opposite; that there exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early 'naive' theories of that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains. (Gardner 1993: xxiii)
From this overview: "The theory [of multiple intelligences] was proposed in the context of debates about the concept of intelligence, and whether methods which claim to measure intelligence (or aspects thereof) are truly scientific. Gardner's theory argues that intelligence, as it is traditionally defined, does not adequately encompass the wide variety of abilities humans display."

My experience in the world confirms this: some of the most fantastically talented composers I know can't spell at all; some of the most gifted teachers I've taught struggled to learn themselves; etc. I'm sure many of us have experiences with people that, on the surface, might seem contradictory (i.e., 'how can she be so smart about science and so stupid about men?' to think of one at random). The simple fact, supported by much evidence gathered empirically, is that human beings demonstrate a wide range of abilities, both innate and learned, that are not at all accounted for by a traditional IQ test. That sort of test is a limited metric, and the sort of controversy stirred by the linked article is out of proportion to what such test results tell us.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:06 PM on November 18, 2007 [10 favorites]


Sunday morning with a great coffee and a bagel at hand is not the time to hissss! and booo!

But maybe I can do better than that. Anyone with minimal knowledge of statistics would say that reporting means is far from informative. One would have to know what the standard deviations (the +/- margins) around those means are. Moreover, socio-economic issues should take into account socio-economic factors that may lead to biases in IQ studies.

Are we going to go for a "good discussion" in this thread? Otherwise, it is a weak article and a weak post.
posted by carmina at 12:06 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is no scientific evidence for a racial difference in intelligence. There is no scientific evidence for race, really.

IQ tests are not scientific.

As empath says, these statistics are worthless, because the differences are cultural.

I have an IQ of 180, yet I have done fuck-all with my life except sit around and be a loser, smoke dope and drink myself into alcoholism. So much for high IQ.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2007 [28 favorites]


From the article: "I know, it sounds crazy. But if you approach the data from other directions, you get the same results. The more black and white scores differ on a test, the more performance on that test correlates with head size and "g," a measure of the test's emphasis on general intelligence. You can debate the reality of g, but you can't debate the reality of head size. And when you compare black and white kids who score the same on IQ tests, their average difference in head circumference is zero."

Hard to blame this difference on culture. The data seems to be contradicting a long held belief: the intellectual equality (on average) between races.

How will you respond when science contradicts your beliefs? Denial? Ad-hominem? ...
posted by jsonic at 12:08 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is it possible to be Jewish and a white American or do I have to select one?
posted by Postroad at 12:10 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


FOR THE RECORD: I just posted this because I thought it was interesting. The "Was Watson right?" question was taken from the context of the linked article, and in no way reflects my personal views on the subject.
posted by landis at 12:11 PM on November 18, 2007


How will you respond when science contradicts your beliefs? Denial? Ad-hominem?

Well, I'd examine the deeper belief: that linguistic or spatial reasoning abilities are more valuable in human society than, say, mechanical aptitude, artistic insight and skill, or great physical ability. There is an unexamined value system in play here that has nothing to do with race.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:11 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


1. He cites the website of noted racist J. Philippe Rushton (whose career is based largely on measuring dick size).

2. Why is it surprising that a test originally designed to filter out undesirable ethnic groups filters out undesirable ethnic groups?

3. IQ is affected by economic status (malnutrition, lead paint, mother's alcohol consumption, etc. etc. etc.)

4. Similar things were said about the Irish a century ago.

5. I advise anyone who believes in this garbage to consult the excellent volume The Bell Curve Wars.

6. The Flynn effect suggests that IQ tests are basically worthless.

7. It is far from being proven that IQ tests reflect anything like a general intelligence quotient ("g").

8. It should be easy to see through Saletan's facile linkage of the evolution debate with grotesque racism.

9. The idea that a researcher can or should approach the question of a racial intelligence difference with "scientific neutrality" is entirely misguided. Science is not an objective enterprise. See the work of Thomas Kuhn, Bruno Latour, and Paul Feyerabend (especially the latter).

10. The concept of "race" is virtually meaningless scientifically.
posted by nasreddin at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2007 [26 favorites]


There is an unexamined value system in play here that has nothing to do with race.

The data in these reports is specifically about intelligence. I think what your comment is referring to is the inevitable mistake that 'classical' racists make: the idea that these average racial differences in intelligence can be used to label one race canonically "superior" and another "inferior".
posted by jsonic at 12:17 PM on November 18, 2007


Yes, of course--that comment was abuot thread; my earlier comment is about intelligence data.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:19 PM on November 18, 2007


The "Was Watson right?" question was taken from the context of the linked article, and in no way reflects my personal views on the subject.

In that case, I apologize--to me, it looked like a rhetorical question.

But I won't apologize for overreacting. Racism is evil and contemptible, and it is precisely Saletan's laid-back complacency that perpetuates it in its most insidious form.
posted by nasreddin at 12:19 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


An IQ test measures your test taking ability of the facts and figures that the IQ test creator believes is important but it's ALL IN CONTEXT. There are racial, societal and even observational bias and an IQ ultimately means nothing ... even Watson proves that being able to accumulate education, facts and make hypothesis does not mean you won't make idiotic statements.

I'll cite an example. I grew up in NYC and when I was about 13, we moved to the suburbs in CA. On a math test, I was faced with an algebra problem involving mowing the lawn. I HAD never mowed a lawn before nor had I actually seen anyone actually mow a lawn. Hard to believe for anyone living in CA but when you're not allowed to watch my TV, how was I suppose to know or CARE how a lawn is mowed? I had a vague concept of how it should be done but I knew as much as mowing lawns as much I knew then (and now) about stringing prayer beads ... yes, it was math but it also involved me trying to read the words portion to frame my answer. Each culture & society has things, normal functions, etc ... that we all take for granted. Does everyone worldwide use green, yellow & red for stoplights? I've even noticed that people knock on doors differently in different cultures! It's subtle, it's small but maybe that cultural or societal bias is 10% or 15% ... Would you score the same if you took that same IQ test but written by a Russian native? A Nigerian native? A Kuwaiti native?
posted by jbelkin at 12:20 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]



The whole "cultural differences" thing is such a tired, old excuse.

What do IQ tests have to do with culture? They are designed to test your ability in spatial thinking and pattern recognition.

I think there is possible a genetic difference in IQ, I just can't understand why people think this could never be so. Why is this so shocking? Different races have many physical differences between them.
posted by carfilhiot at 12:20 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


the idea that these average racial differences in intelligence can be used to label one race canonically "superior" and another "inferior".

Give me a fucking break. Yeah, when medieval society was divided into lords, clergy, and peasants, the peasants weren't inferior! They just served a different social function!
posted by nasreddin at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: people who have very high IQs who couldn't pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel.
posted by ericb at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Does anybody else smell that? ...I know I remember that smell from somewhere. Oh yeah, its the smell of an apologist for racism
posted by mano at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


OK, I'm liberal (and white and male), and I'm uncomfortable with that fact. However, besides IQ, there are a number of other benchmarks that one can pull out that despite our belief in equality, point out other differences between racially-defined groups.

Let's look again at this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …

"Men" aren't all equal. Some are selfless altruists, some are greedy shits. Some beat their wives. Some are Nobel-worthy. But the above statement says all men. The inalienable rights aren't to be shaded by merit or genes or some other factor.

Second, and more important, the majority of our yardsticks, including measurement of IQ are to some extent arbitrary, and flawed, and near pointless taken out of context. Unless of course it is truly meaningful to quantify people's ability to ace IQ tests.

So, regardless of how measurable IQ differences are, I believe that only a racist would seize on this fact to justify a course of action. The truth or otherwise of the IQ findings is insufficient to alter my aim to regard and treat all folks as full equals.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:24 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Your average bushman will score so low on a standard IQ test as to be considered mentally handicapped. Your average American will not survive in a hostile environment such as a jungle or desert for more than a few days, if that. Tell me, who is the smarter?
posted by baphomet at 12:24 PM on November 18, 2007 [15 favorites]


"And when you compare black and white kids who score the same on IQ tests, their average difference in head circumference is zero.""

No, no, no. It's the angle of the facial bones that predicts intelligence. Clearly, you aren't up on the latest advances in Physiognomy.

And an anecdote about standardized measures of intelligence:

Every year, my "forum" in high school (think: home room) would take a rafting trip. Two guys, Sam and Greg, argued vociferously that they should be in the front of the raft, with Sam leading, because Sam had gotten a 1600 on his SATs, and Greg had the next-highest score. Due to this objective metric, they were both marked for greatness and the rest of us could only hope to learn by watching them.

All through their pronouncement, they had their helmets on backwards and were holding their paddles wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 12:25 PM on November 18, 2007 [7 favorites]


I have an IQ of 180, yet I have done fuck-all with my life except sit around and be a loser, smoke dope and drink myself into alcoholism.

I dunno. Sounds like yopu made the smart move to me.
posted by jonmc at 12:27 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


I know it's not politically correct to point this out, but people who equate IQ test results with intelligence tend to be, like Mensa members, self-absorbed social retards. Go ahead, villify me for speaking truth to power.
I'm not going to vilify you for speaking truth to power.

I'm going to vilify you for pretending to speak truth to power when, by your own definition, you are in fact speaking truth to social retards.
posted by Flunkie at 12:28 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Stephen Jay Gould thoroughly debunked the idea that IQ tests can be used to demonstrate racial inferiority in his excellent book The Mismeasure of Man. They are simply a diagnostic tool that, used with other such tools by experienced practitioners, might reveal something useful about an individual's mental strengths and weaknesses. We still don't know what intelligence is, let alone how to directly measure it.
posted by ubiquity at 12:28 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, no, no! It's the differences... of which there are none, that make the sameness... exceptional!

But really, does anyone take IQ tests seriously? I thought it had kind of gone the way of phrenology.

On preview, looks like we've got a little bit of that in the thread as well!
posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:29 PM on November 18, 2007


"No, no, no. It's the angle of the facial bones that predicts intelligence. Clearly, you aren't up on the latest advances in Physiognomy."

The scientific data shows that on average brain size and IQ are linked. Your response: an anecdote showing how smart people can sometimes be dumb.'

If you're going to accept science, you can't only accept the science that compliments your beliefs.
posted by jsonic at 12:30 PM on November 18, 2007


What do IQ tests have to do with culture? They are designed to test your ability in spatial thinking and pattern recognition.

Spatial thinking and pattern recognition is, at best, an incomplete definition of "intelligence".
posted by jokeefe at 12:31 PM on November 18, 2007


The scientific data shows that on average brain size and IQ are linked.

Really? Woez. I have a notably small head, and yet I am smart. Or, well, you know, smarter than some.
posted by jokeefe at 12:32 PM on November 18, 2007


Hey, I can read this:

http://www.sankei-kansai.com/

Landis, can you read it? If you can't, does that make Watson right?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:32 PM on November 18, 2007


SCIENCE!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2007


Actually, this leads me to a side issue. The world is in a sorry state, war, famine, hatred. And who runs the world governments and businesses? Smart people. Who has all the money? Smart people. Who runs our universities, our cultural institiutions? Smart people, with degrees and high IQ's, the lot of them. And look at the world.

Let's kill all the smart people.
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


No.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


jsonic, it isn't that people aren't accepting SCIENCE, it's that they're offend by the writer's not-so-subtly implied racism. It's almost as though you can hear Saletan over your shoulder, arms waving, shouting, "See? See?! I told you black people are dumb!"
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The scientific data shows that on average brain size and IQ are linked."

Old scientific conclusions based on old data link those ideas, but recent studies have shown that brain size has little to do with IQ. I'd post a link to cites, but honestly I really can't be bothered arguing against such preposterous nonsense. It is, as synaesthetichaze notes, equivalent to phrenology. Pernicious unscientific nonsense.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:36 PM on November 18, 2007


Sorry. Up against the wall, sir. As soon as I can figure out how to execute you with this waterpistol, it's curtains.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on November 18, 2007


SCIENCE!
posted by disclaimer at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2007


"Really? Woez. I have a notably small head, and yet I am smart. Or, well, you know, smarter than some."

Statistics Refresher: Averages say nothing about any specific Individual.
posted by jsonic at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


And who runs the world governments and businesses? Smart people. Who has all the money? Smart people.

Have you ever personally known elected officials, large business owners, or--most especially--rich people? Many adjectives come to mind to describe my experiences with such folks, but 'smart' is not on that list.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


"Racist, vicious and unsupported by science," said the Federation of American Scientists. "Utterly unsupported by scientific evidence," declared the U.S. government's supervisor of genetic research.

Knee-jerk responses, maybe. But there's wisdom behind them. The dream of a society where every citizen is equal in the eyes of the law is still more compelling than the results of any study. Most people don't want to give up that dream just because of some scientific asshat and his flimsy correlations.
posted by Laugh_track at 12:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I remember quiet clearly the days when women's inferior intelligence was "proven" by the fact that, on average, women's brains are small than men's.

Brain size is bogus. Differences between individuals are always greater than differences between groups. Your average sub-Saharan African test at 70 on an IQ test? Get back to me when they have universal basic education, a healthy diet, and stable housing. I'm embarassed for Slate that they even considered publishing this.
posted by jokeefe at 12:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


The article linked is simply another attempt to support the effort to differentiate humans into species, categories that help to justify inhuman practices, both economic and political.

From an Anthropological and Biological point of view there is a miniscule genetic difference between so-called races, and IQ testing itself is so subjective (and culturally biased) as to be laughable as a standard of measure for human intelligence, especially in the 21st century.

There is no "other" to exploit in our modern world. It's time put away Victorian ideas and accept scientific reality - races and genotypical differences do not really exist, there are only phenotypical differences.

Watson is simply a fool with an agenda.
posted by Athabasca at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


"The new science of MRI finds at least a 40 percent correlation of brain size with IQ."

heres a controlled study: "Brain size does not predict general cognitive ability within families"
posted by mano at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Landis, can you read it? If you can't, does that make Watson right?

AS I SAID, the question was taken from the context of the article, and doesn't reflect my personal views.
posted by landis at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


The concept of "race" is virtually meaningless scientifically.
I've often heard this, but I'm not really sure what it's supposed to actually mean.

Let's take 100 random people, serving as "race judges". Show them pictures of other random people, and ask them each (independently and individually) to assign one of "African", "European", or "Asian" to each of the pictures.

For those pictures that are nearly unanimously labelled "Asian", get the pictured people together to procreate.

Several years later, take pictures of all of the resulting children.

Show those pictures to 100 random people - doesn't even have to be the same 100 random people from the first time.

Does anyone doubt that those babies wouldn't, generally, be assigned "Asian"?

If the concept of "race" were "virtually meaningless scientifically", I would think that the above scientific test would (if done) easily falsify it. Does anyone think that the above scientific test actually would falsify it?

To be clear, I'm not saying that race is an absolute, that it is discrete rather than a continuum, or that there are not many people who would buck the trend of the above test, and I am most certainly not saying that we should let it influence us in how we interact with people.

But none of those things makes the concept "virtually meaningless scientifically".
posted by Flunkie at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


This post is great, because it highlights two great American obsessions that should have been scrapped in the last century:

1) race [an artificial construct that doesn't exist]
2) standardized testing

Oh, yeah, and you guys should also impeach George Bush.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on November 18, 2007 [7 favorites]



The scientific data shows that on average brain size and IQ are linked.


No, William Saletan says that the scientific data shows that on average brain size and IQ are linked.

He hasn't given us a citation, other than the Rushton piece (which doesn't open on my computer).

Who is Rushton? Head of the Pioneer Fund, for one thing.

See also: Leonard Lieberman, "How 'Caucasoids' Got Such Big Crania and Why They Shrank," Current Anthropology 42, no. 1 (Feb. 2001).
posted by nasreddin at 12:42 PM on November 18, 2007


Have you ever personally known elected officials, large business owners, or--most especially--rich people? Many adjectives come to mind to describe my experiences with such folks, but 'smart' is not on that list.

People don't gain money and power by being stupid. I didn't say they weren't evil.
posted by jonmc at 12:42 PM on November 18, 2007


I've never understood how IQ (or any other measure of intelligence) could not be subjective.

Whatever behavior or ability we see as desirable, we designate as an element of intelligence. But how do we decide what is and isn't desirable? By its very nature, the question has to be subjective. There just can't be an objective answer.
posted by Clay201 at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2007


An IQ test measures your test taking ability of the facts and figures that the IQ test creator believes is important...

Right. When Lewis Terman, the progenitor of IQ testing in America, was once asked to define intelligence, he replied "intelligence is the sum of the properties of the human brain measured by my test." I think it's hard to justify sweeping generalizations about large populations based on that definition.
posted by ubiquity at 12:44 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Flunkie, I am "white" and my wife is "Asian". But if anyone ever called our son "mixed-race" I would punch them in the nose.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:44 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Clearly, you aren't up on the latest advances in Physiognomy.

And don't forget Phrenology (as per synaesthetichaze's mention above).
posted by ericb at 12:44 PM on November 18, 2007


the above scientific test

You're testing What Joe Average Thinks About Race, not the scientific concept of race. It's like proving the inferiority of blacks via a panel composed of a randomly-selected sample of Americans circa 1750.
posted by nasreddin at 12:44 PM on November 18, 2007


Whatever behavior or ability we see as desirable, we designate as an element of intelligence.
That's simply not true. IQ tests don't include, for example, questions about how often you should brush your teeth, nor do they include punt, pass, and kick tests.
posted by Flunkie at 12:45 PM on November 18, 2007


jsonic:

The scientific data shows that on average brain size and IQ are linked. Your response: an anecdote showing how smart people can sometimes be dumb.'

If you're going to accept science, you can't only accept the science that compliments your beliefs.


i just posted a link to a study that contradicts your belief about "science". if you are going to invoke "the scientific data" do us all a favor and post a link to it so we can look at it ourselves.
posted by mano at 12:45 PM on November 18, 2007


Flunkie, I am "white" and my wife is "Asian". But if anyone ever called our son "mixed-race" I would punch them in the nose.
Good for you. But that really has nothing to do with what I said.

Do you think that the proposed test is not "scientific"?

Do you think that, if "race" were "virtually meaningless scientifically", that the proposed test would not easily falsify it?

Do you think that the proposed test would falsify it?
posted by Flunkie at 12:47 PM on November 18, 2007


Cosma Shalizi has a long, somewhat technical, but very interesting post explaining how psychologists calculate g (general intelligence) and the problems with the statistical technique (called factor analysis) they use.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2007


Prepend a "This article implies:" to my comment. The point of my comment was to say that contradictory anecdotes aren't useful arguments about the validity of scientific data.
posted by jsonic at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2007


Stephen Colbert (2/8/2007):
"So tonight, I would like to announce, categorically, and for the last time, that, and I am not being coy, I am not running for president. I know these lumps are trying to tell me something. Phrenology is study of the lumps on your head. It’d be another good campaign slogan."*
posted by ericb at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2007


Using the fallacy of division to infer that a member of a subgroup may not be intelligent is the legacy of IQ testing. It basically lets dumber members of the higher groupings get away with bluffing their intelligence and turning it into a racial proposition. And where's median and mode anyway?

MRI scans of brain size for each sex is probably a "better" measure of intelligence, less prone to abuse. That way a pinhead from a high group can't bluff his way through. It also doesn't come with cultural baggage and the bias inherent in the test language, and it includes the potential intelligence we avoid measuring. MRI brain size is also standardized accross cultures.
posted by Brian B. at 12:50 PM on November 18, 2007


You're testing What Joe Average Thinks About Race, not the scientific concept of race.
What "scientific concept of race"?

The test shows (or, that is, I strongly suspect would show) that there is something that can be scientifically measured in what people refer to as "race". That's all. But that's enough to show that it is not "virtually meaningless scientifically".

If you want to argue that that is not important, or that we shouldn't allow it to affect our behavior, I would agree with you.

But "virtually meaningless scientifically" seems like just trying to give an air of authority.
posted by Flunkie at 12:51 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


People don't gain money and power by being stupid.

Well, we're way off-topic, but I did want to say that, in my experience, stupidity is precisely why some people gain money and power.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:51 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


People don't gain money and power by being stupid.


If stupid people give them money and power, why would they need to be intelligent?
posted by Brian B. at 12:52 PM on November 18, 2007


Good for you. But that really has nothing to do with what I said.

Do you think that the proposed test is not "scientific"?

Do you think that, if "race" were "virtually meaningless scientifically", that the proposed test would not easily falsify it?

Do you think that the proposed test would falsify it?


1. See my criticism above.
2. A thought experiment is by definition non-scientific.
3. Falsificationism is a refuted methodological theory. (See Feyerabend, Against Method).
4. You haven't defined what "scientific" means, and you have a very Vanity Fair definition of science.
5. I take "scientifically valid" to mean "there are more genetic differences on average between races than there are within them."
6. The proposed experiment does not test that hypothesis at all.
7. The hypothesis in #5 has been refuted by anthropological studies.
posted by nasreddin at 12:53 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


It would be interesting to see how much of the difference is in verbal sections, seeing as Latinos and African Americans often speak variants of English. I'd like to see the groups split among divisions other than race, to see what factors in early childhood correlate with which parts of intelligence.
posted by fermezporte at 12:53 PM on November 18, 2007


Just as an anecdotal example, since I was a kid, I've been in the 99th percentile of every standardized test I've ever taken. My younger sister scored average to slightly above average on every test she's taken. Yet now that we both in the real world, by pretty much every metric which we define success, she's far more successful than me, she has a college degree, while I dropped out, she has a higher paying, higher status job than me, she has a family and owns a home, and I rent and live with room mates.

I mean, sure, I own the shit out of her and her husband at Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, but that's kinda not what IQ is supposed to mean, is it?

And that's between two kids raised in the same household raised by the same parents -- imagine the differences between middle class suburban children of priviledge and kids growing up in the city with no prospects.

IQ doesn't mean anything.
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


I really shouldn't be, but I'm always astounded by how much baggage people bring whenever this topic comes up. And it takes weeks of talking for everyone to sort through the baggage and vocabulary (and the vitriol) before they realize they're mostly in agreement: There are some facts. They are hard to interpret. Making the wrong conclusions would seriously erode our society's sense of fairness. Lets just sit this out.
posted by thandal at 12:55 PM on November 18, 2007 [7 favorites]


Do you think that the proposed test is not "scientific"?

Yes, I think the test is unscientific because there is no such thing as race. Race is a social construct. It is a continuum. Obviously, different folks have different genetic characteristics, such as skin colour.

It's a lot easier to think in terms of culture.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Let's take 100 random people, serving as "race judges". Show them pictures of other random people, and ask them each (independently and individually) to assign one of "big nosed", "medium nosed", or "small nosed" to each of the pictures.

For those pictures that are nearly unanimously labelled "big nosed", get the pictured people together to procreate. Does anyone doubt that their babies wouldn't, generally, be assigned "big nosed"?

So that means there is a big-nosed race? Sorry, I mean homo sapiens maxiproboscisia.

All your test demonstrates is the inheritance of physical characteristics. It doesn't demonstrate the scientific validity of cordoning off groups of humans with similar characteristics into "races" (and then watching the fun when the Sneetches, sorry, I mean the races try to decide which one is superior).
posted by ubiquity at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider are Jewish. Can a person have a high IQ score and be borderline retarded?
posted by stavrogin at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So you take a scientifically fuzzy category (race), and then use it to explain a scientifically fuzzy idea (intelligence). Yeah, there's bound to be really good results coming out of this. Once again from the top:
1.)so-called racial traits do not genetically co-vary.

2.)There is more genetic diversity amongst Africans than amongst all other populations put together.

3.)The genes responsible for phenotype make up approx. 0.01% of your total genes.

4.)The categories of race are fluid and have changed dramatically throughout history.

5.)There is greater genetic diversity between chimps from opposite ends of the jungle than there is between all humans.

6.)Anatomically modern humans are very recent (approx. 130,000ya). Humans don't spread to other parts of the world til approx. 50,000ya. This is not enough time for speciation or even sub-speciation.

This whole idea of being able to categorize people into races is absurd. Yeah there are genetic differences between populations (there are also genetic differences between siblings--go figure), however these are regional population and there categories do not correspond to what we have called race.

IQ tests do not measure intelligence! Once again, IQ tests do not measure intelligence! This is impossible as we do not even have a consistent definition of what intelligence is, and in fact it is becoming more and more apparent there there are several different types of "intelligence". IQ tests were not designed to measure intelligence. They were designed to diagnose people with learning disabilities. And for the poster quoting the shit about head size, give me a fucking break. Phrenology went out of vogue about 100 years ago.

So many people want to believe that their genes make them better than others. So many people want a scientific reason to look down on others. This shit just makes me weep for humanity.
posted by anansi at 12:57 PM on November 18, 2007 [18 favorites]


It also apparently doesn't mean that I know how to use punctuation. Sorry, I'm a bit hung over and I can't deal with commas right now.
posted by empath at 12:57 PM on November 18, 2007


this FPP is so pathetic, it should be deleted.

i suppose the comment stream might be helpful for mefites of inferior intelligence (undoubtedly due to smaller brain size or their racial identification!!) that might inclined to believe it.

but if we leave this shit up you know it will lead to some jerkoff posting a FPP like "Was David Duke Right?" "Did the holocaust happen?"

seriously.
posted by mano at 12:58 PM on November 18, 2007


Flunkie's test merely proves that race as a social construct exists, which no one would disagree with.
posted by empath at 12:59 PM on November 18, 2007


The American Anthropological Association on race.
posted by gudrun at 12:59 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


nuke thread from space / only way to be sure
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


2. A thought experiment is by definition non-scientific.
Fine, I concur to that. You didn't answer whether you doubted it or not.
3. Falsificationism is a refuted methodological theory. (See Feyerabend, Against Method).
Sorry, I'm not going to "see" your reference during this casual conversation. I'm honestly not sure what you're getting at here, though; I believe that falsification is at the very heart of science.

If tests falsify the hypothesis, the hypothesis is not a theory.
You haven't defined what "scientific" means, and you have a very Vanity Fair definition of science.
Please stop trying to draw broad conclusions about me based upon ten sentences that you've seen me write. "Scientific" as in "the scientific method".
5. I take "scientifically valid" to mean "there are more genetic differences on average between races than there are within them."
By this definition, I strongly suspect that the concepts of "tall" or "prone to heart disease" are not "scientifically valid".
6. The proposed experiment does not test that hypothesis at all.
So what? It tests whether something that people mean by "race" can be measured.
7. The hypothesis in #5 has been refuted by anthropological studies.
Good. I don't doubt it, and I'm glad to hear it.
posted by Flunkie at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So that means there is a big-nosed race?
No, it would mean that the concept of big-nosedness as an inheritable thing that people can detect is scientifically meaningful.
All your test demonstrates is the inheritance of physical characteristics.
Why do you think that I disagree with this?
It doesn't demonstrate the scientific validity of cordoning off groups of humans with similar characteristics into "races"
Why do you think I think it does?

Was it the part where I said "I am most certainly not saying that we should let it influence us in how we interact with people"?

Is that the part that made you think I think we should cordon off groups off humans?
posted by Flunkie at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2007


As someone who has, in the past, been quite good at IQ tests (though I don't actually think they prove anything other than that one is quite good at IQ tests), an important factor in getting the answers right is being motivated to take the test seriously.

I would suggest that the groups who are reported to score badly on the tests would be disinclined to do so, possibly considering the tests to be More Jive Ass Bullshit from Those Honky Motherfuckers (or whatever equivalent terminology would be employed outside a blaxploitation flick).

A consideration I would agree with most wholeheartedly.

Is there a simple, consistent and generally-agreed-upon definition of the word "intelligence", anyway?
posted by Grangousier at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I'm not going to "see" your reference during this casual conversation. I'm honestly not sure what you're getting at here, though; I believe that falsification is at the very heart of science.

If tests falsify the hypothesis, the hypothesis is not a theory.


I'd recommend actually seeing that reference, then, at some point. Feyerabend gives decisive historical and contemporary evidence that it just isn't so, and if it were science would be impossible.

By this definition, I strongly suspect that the concepts of "tall" or "prone to heart disease" are not "scientifically valid".


What?

It tests whether something that people mean by "race" can be measured.


If I ran a study on UFO sightings, tested whether people believed they saw UFOs during recorded sighting events, and therefore concluded that UFOs exist, I would not be a good scientist. I don't care about what Joe Average means by "race." If you're going to link race and intelligence, you have to define race in terms of measurable phenotypic and genotypic characteristics, and then prove that it exists. Which your test does not even begin to do.
posted by nasreddin at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


...some jerkoff posting a FPP like "Was David Duke Right?" "Did the holocaust happen?"

Right again, Mike!
posted by ubiquity at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2007


Is there a simple, consistent and generally-agreed-upon definition of the word "intelligence", anyway?

In a word, no.
posted by ubiquity at 1:07 PM on November 18, 2007


Well, we're way off-topic, but I did want to say that, in my experience, stupidity is precisely why some people gain money and power

Case in point.
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on November 18, 2007


I said:
Whatever behavior or ability we see as desirable, we designate as an element of intelligence.

Flunkie said:

That's simply not true. IQ tests don't include, for example, questions about how often you should brush your teeth, nor do they include punt, pass, and kick tests.

Alright, I'll concede the semantics. Not every desirable trait is included in "intelligence." But every trait that's included in intelligence is desirable. So... again, I ask: how do you determine what's desirable without bringing a whole lot of subjectivity into the equation?
posted by Clay201 at 1:08 PM on November 18, 2007


Why do you think that I disagree with this?


Well, shit dude, maybe you had better learn to write a little better so you can get your point across.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2007


The emergence of such studies show that there are some allegedly intelligent persons operating in the field of science who don't know their arse from a hole in the ground.
Race does not exist in any concrete reality but does exist as a social/cultural divider. If you divide your test results by the spurious concept of race, in the world as it obtains you in fact are dividing them by class, and surprise, surprise, the privileged score better in measures of their own devising.
posted by Abiezer at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


If you're going to link race and intelligence
Which I didn't, don't, and which I've explicitly tried to say many times that I don't.

Sheesh. I give up, you win.
posted by Flunkie at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2007


Well, shit dude, maybe you had better learn to write a little better so you can get your point across.
Exactly what in anything that I said led you to believe that I disagree with the idea that all my proposed test would show is that physical characteristics are inheritable?
posted by Flunkie at 1:11 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm really sorry that I posted this. It has led many to think that I agree with the premise of the linked article (a notion I have tried to debunk twice in thread), and has obviously pissed a lot of folks off. I'm sorry to all, and have notified the mods that I have no problem w/ the post's deletion.

Sorry again.
posted by landis at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Which I didn't, don't, and which I've explicitly tried to say many times that I don't.


OK.

But the point still stands. If you want to show the existence of race, you have to define race properly. Which you don't do, and which might explain the confusion you expressed in your first comment.
posted by nasreddin at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2007


Intelligence is a relative thing. I know fuck all about IQ tests, but I know that I went to college in engineering and when I wandered down into some fishing villages in the South American hinterlands I was as good as dead if it weren't for those uneducated fisherman.
posted by iamck at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2007


Delete this thread and Flunkie with it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2007


those of you interested understanding the theoretical weaknesses in the public's understanding of science that are exploited by racist "scientists" with an agenda and cheerleader media accomplices should really read Lykken on the topic of statistical significance. Try to find the chapter he wrote called "What’s Wrong with Psychology Anyway?" (i couldnt find it online).

italics are from some online notes:
basically the point is that "The alternative view is that the NULL HYPOTHESIS IS NEVER STRICTLY TRUE, especially in areas of soft psychology".


The moral of the story is that the finding of statistical significance is perhaps the least important attribute of a good experiment: it is never a sufficient condition for concluding that a theory has been corroborated, that a useful empirical fact has been established with reasonable confidence-or that an experimental report ought to be published.”
posted by mano at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2007


If you want to show the existence of race, you have to define race properly.
I didn't explicitly define it there, of course, but I thought that it should have been clear from my original post that I was defining "race" as in "the general consensus of whether a person is 'white' or 'black' or whatever".

If there is a complaint along these lines here, you should address it to the person I was responding to, who did not explicitly define what he meant by "race" when he said that the concept was "virtually meaningless scientifically".
posted by Flunkie at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2007


Delete this thread and Flunkie with it.
What offensive thing did I say? Seriously?
posted by Flunkie at 1:18 PM on November 18, 2007


Sorry again.

You can say sorry all you want, but people are going to remember this post for a long, long time...probably until about 8PM tonight.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2007


nuke thread from space / only way to be sure

But, to do so, wouldn't you have to be a rocket scientist with an incredibly high IQ?

Err, wait. Couldn't George 'Dumbya' Bush just press one of those bright, shiny red buttons on his desk in the Oval Office?
posted by ericb at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2007


I thought that it should have been clear from my original post that I was defining "race" as in "the general consensus of whether a person is 'white' or 'black' or whatever".

You just don't get it, do you? "General consensus" doesn't prove jack squat, and it's not an adequate definition--it's far too vague, and it ends up in a circular argument!
posted by nasreddin at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2007


Well, we're way off-topic, but I did want to say that, in my experience, stupidity is precisely why some people gain money and power.

GW Bush is not a good example. he didn't 'gain' money & power, he was born with it.
posted by jonmc at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2007


I have to add, speaking as a white genius, this is a pile of shite.
posted by Abiezer at 1:24 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


er, here it is. trust me. read it if you can get access, youll be glad you did.

Statistical significance in psychological research.
Lykken, D T Psychological bulletin 1968 vol:70 iss:3 pg:151 -9
posted by mano at 1:25 PM on November 18, 2007


What offensive thing did I say? Seriously?

Well, race is meaningless scientifically. In debating that point you come off as advocating the idea that race is a measurable, scientific category and as such you are lending validity to the racial correlations with intelligence. Perhaps this was not your intention, but you seem to be repeatedly and vociferously arguing the point that race is "real".
posted by anansi at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


You just don't get it, do you? "General consensus" doesn't prove jack squat
Excuse me, but you seem to "not just get" that I'm not trying to "prove" anything except that one poster's claim that "the concept of race is virtually scientifically meaningless" doesn't seem entirely accurate to me.

How many times do I have to say things such as that I don't think this proves that people of different races are, on average, smarter or stupider than each other?

Or that I don't even think in the first place that people of different races are, on average, smarter or stupider than each other?

Or that I think we shouldn't let race affect how we interact with each other?
posted by Flunkie at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2007


Virgin post. Please be kind.

My first thought when I heard Mr. Watson's comments were "So what?". The bias I see isn't racial but intellectual. So what if whites are smarter? When did intelligence become the most aspired to human trait? What if tomorrow a genetic study is reported that shows of all of the "races", Asians are the least capable of experiencing joy or pain? Or that Africans, genetically are more capable of perceiving non-physical truths than whites? What then? Sounds silly, I guess, but I want to make two pts.

1. This argument, and all those who vociferously decry Mr. Watson, assume, as he appears to, that intelligence is a higher trait.

2. And this is my main pt, genetic truths are not going to stop coming. Mr. Watson could be a dead wrong blathering old genius, but that doesn't mean that genetic studies aren't going to absolutely destroy some of the false assumptions that most of you rest you self-righteousness on. Alot of these posts, at first reading, sound an awful lot like people defending a religion.
posted by iknowimaloser at 1:27 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Well, race is meaningless scientifically. In debating that point you come off as advocating the idea that race is a measurable, scientific category
Do you think that that experiment would not measure it?

Would you think the same thing if we did the same experiment with "short" or "tall" rather than "European", "African", or "Asian"?
and as such you are lending validity to the racial correlations with intelligence.
No I'm not.
posted by Flunkie at 1:29 PM on November 18, 2007


Why are people so sure that white, black, and Asian people have the same average intelligence? This is not at all obvious.

And before you tell me that you don't know what black, white, and Asian people, I know you do, so don't be coy.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Excuse me, but you seem to "not just get" that I'm not trying to "prove" anything except that one poster's claim that "the concept of race is virtually scientifically meaningless" doesn't seem entirely accurate to me.

I don't care if you think racial intelligence differences exist. You claimed "Race exists and it is scientifically meaningful." You defined race as "General consensus." That does not constitute adequate proof, because in order to test for the existence and significance of something you need criteria independent from the assumptions you are trying to test. What you are doing is constructing an ad hoc hypothesis.


2. And this is my main pt, genetic truths are not going to stop coming. Mr. Watson could be a dead wrong blathering old genius, but that doesn't mean that genetic studies aren't going to absolutely destroy some of the false assumptions that most of you rest you self-righteousness on. Alot of these posts, at first reading, sound an awful lot like people defending a religion.


Please go back to YouTube.
posted by nasreddin at 1:34 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't understand why it's so hard to believe that non-mixing populations could develop different traits over 50,000 years. It seems pretty straightforward that certain cognitive abilities or things that would be tested by current IQ tests (flawed as they are) would be promoted or suppressed due to environmental differences. I don't see a problem with that.

The problem, really, is that we don't have a universal definition of intelligence. However, I would trust an international team of cognitive psychologists specializing in learning and memory to put together a pretty good test if they put their minds to it. After that, they could compare demographic information and see what correlates well. Most likely it will be economic status - as someone said before, malnutrition and lack of basic education should have a much bigger effect on the test scores than "race." But considering the nature of the discussion - this is an argument about race, not politics - that's no reason to discard race entirely as an effect.

The question is not whether race is the primary determinant of intelligence (however measured). The question is whether it is possible that race has an effect on intelligence. And as far as I'm concerned, I don't see a reason why it shouldn't. I don't think it would have a very significant effect; certainly the kid's environment is a much more important factor, but a smart man just lost his job because he suggested it might have even a small effect. That's alarming, and the refusal to even consider the idea is what I thought the article addressed.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:34 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't remember who it was but some good creativity/education researcher that separated three dispositions that you need to actually do serious advances:

1) The disposition for raising questions
2) The disposition for holding your interest in them and elaborating those questions
3) The disposition for solving given problems

IQ measures that third one, but if you don't carry the machinery within (1 & 2) that feeds your problem solving skills, you easily end up as just another internet smartypants. All three can be learned, but focusing on IQ has left 1 and 2 lacking. For me, the world of open source development is a good example. People are very happy to do the same programs again and again, as long as they can add little tricks of their own that provide answers to problems already recognized by others.

This also explains a bit of the allure of Metafilter. Posts provide the necessary framing and we can concentrate on being clever inside these limits. Well, there is a bit of 1 and 2 here, when posts branch into separate discussions but it easily locks into 3, giving your 2 cents.
posted by Free word order! at 1:36 PM on November 18, 2007


Hey Flunkie, we can't scientifically define what is and is not pornography. From this, we can safely say that pornography does not exist. Why don't you understand this?
posted by jsonic at 1:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fantastic. My first post gets an ad hominem attack. You people are too easy. Thanks nasreddin. I'm gonna go tell my friends I got pwned by a Mefite. So glad I gave my 5 bucks for your pithy commentary. Hilarious.
posted by iknowimaloser at 1:38 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't care if you think racial intelligence differences exist. You claimed "Race exists and it is scientifically meaningful." You defined race as "General consensus." That does not constitute adequate proof, because in order to test for the existence and significance of something you need criteria independent from the assumptions you are trying to test. What you are doing is constructing an ad hoc hypothesis.
The fact that the general consensus is (I strongly believe) inheritable, in a scientifically measurable way, is what I am pointing out.

That's not ad hoc.

I give up. You all win, I'm a fucking white supremacist. Goodbye.
posted by Flunkie at 1:38 PM on November 18, 2007


And before you tell me that you don't know what black, white, and Asian people, I know you do, so don't be coy.

Oh, the invincible power of prejudice.
posted by nasreddin at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2007


Flunkie When people say "race isn't a scientifically valid concept" what they mean is not "duh, people all look the same and can't be divided into groups cuz we're so PC". They mean "genetic variation within a given 'race' is equal to or greater than genetic variation outside a given 'race', which makes the concept irrelivant from a genetics standpoint".

From a genetic standpoint there ain't no such thing as "race", and that's what they mean when they say "scientifically invalid".

Which is why its not merely silly, but illustrative of an underlying racism, when people attempt to link intelligence with phenotype. Diet, early education, etc are all demonstorably more important than skin color.

Interesting factoid on the subject: Way back in the dark days when anthropology was basically "pseudo-scientific racism", which it has happily long since stopped being, a group of pseudo-scientists measured head shape among Italian immegrants to New York city. They found that there was a measurable, and actually rather noticable, difference in the shape of the immegrant's skulls and the shape of white New Yorker's skulls. At the time there was a great deal of racist rejection of Italians, and this study was used widely to justify that. Later, to drive home just how horribly genetically inferior the lowly Italian race was they measured the skulls of the children of those immegrants, and were quite upset with the results.

Why? Because it turns out that skull shape is tightly tied to diet, and the children of the immegrants had been eating standard New York city diets and had skulls identical to those of white New Yorkers. That study they didn't shout from the rooftops, naturally.
posted by sotonohito at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


FYI on this issue, IQ tests, at least the few official ones that matter (e.g., the WAIS (for adults)/WISC (for children) and Stanford Binet (not in wide use) are created so that the average score of the normative population against which all scores are measured is 100 and the standard deviation is 15. If you buy the idea that intelligence is normally distributed within a population (a foundational idea in stats even though it isn't quite true), then 68% of all folks will have an IQ that is plus or minus 1 standard deviation (e.g., between 85 and 115. 95% of the population will fall within 2 SDs and about 99% fall within 3 (e.g., 55-145. Whom ever was saying they had an IQ score of 180 is probably deluded, as this is a terribly rare statistical event, being some 5.33 standard deviations above the mean.

These tests are really collections of subtests, and there are verbal and performance/spatial test groupings. The verbal parts of the test are culturally influenced; the spatial parts less so but still there is a cultural influence at work. Tests like Raven's progressive matrices (which are all geometric in nature are supposed to be culture-free, but really the idea of a culture free test is a relative thing).

Beyond raw cultural preparation for the concepts tested in the IQ tests, there are other factors to consider also, such as whether individual cultural groups within the "racial" groups emphasize the value of education or not.

Final thought for now -

The issue is not really whether different groups score differently on IQ tests. The issue is whether the differences between groups are statistically significant. in otherwords, you have to know whether the chances are better that measured differences between groups occured by chance, or whether they represent real differences in the average score being measured. ANOVA style tests can be conducted to determine this if the case if standard deviations for each group being compared are known. They weren't reported here to my knowledge.
posted by sirvesa at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


This argument, and all those who vociferously decry Mr. Watson, assume, as he appears to, that intelligence is a higher trait.

but there's another assumption that watson and the author of this article seem to be making - that this information, if true, actually is useful for us to know

please explain why that would be - what value do i receive from the "knowledge" that black people have on average, lower IQs than whites?

why is this useful to know?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2007


Flunkie, it's like arguing with a deist or feminist. You can't win.
We must be masochists to even try to add depth to what is essentially a pissing contest determining who can be more moral.
posted by iknowimaloser at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: More Jive Ass Bullshit From Those Honky Motherfuckers
posted by jason's_planet at 1:43 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Latino-americans" as a race? Yeah, that's never been problematic.

I'm gonna write a very very scientific test that measures IQ for mandyman-americans and see how you all measure up to it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:43 PM on November 18, 2007


True pyramid, but that is the assumption behind all knowledge, no? It's left for the end user to determine each truths worth.
posted by iknowimaloser at 1:45 PM on November 18, 2007


There is no scientific evidence for race, really.

From an Anthropological and Biological point of view there is a miniscule genetic difference between so-called races

The concept of "race" is virtually meaningless scientifically.

i've heard this line a lot and never really understood it. how is it that race is scientifically meaningless?

there are a lot of physical characteristics common to what we normally identify as races. one group has skin with a lot of melanin and tightly curled hair. another has epicanthic folds and lactose intolerance. yet another exhibits a wide variety of eye and hair colors. these are examples of traits that, while obviously not universal to a certain group, are clearly inheritable and identify a certain segment of the genetic population.

these are differences which are obvious to a child - there are black people, white people, and so on. why, when we have grown into adulthood, has our ability to discern them gone away?

basically, if you can measure these characteristics, which clearly one can, what makes it "unscientific"?
posted by sergeant sandwich at 1:45 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


see what happens, editors? see?

when moronic douchebags write articles they set the terms of the debate. and then a bunch of people get to talking about race and the big debate becomes "does it exist" and "does it not exist"

OF COURSE "RACE" FUCKING EXISTS
.

it exists as an idea. it is a scoial construct. it is HUGE. it has a HUGE impact.

what it is not, at least not significantly, is it is NOT about genetics. genetic race differences are the exception for humans. they are minor. they are tiny. they are inconsistent. they are especially unimportant to how people end up living their lives when considered RELATIVE to the social impacts the construct or idea has on our behaviour.

so yes, race exists. and so when you find race differences in human behavior, look for social and cultural reasons why. dont look for genetic reasons why. unless you are a racist douchebag with an agenda.
posted by mano at 1:46 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


That's alarming, and the refusal to even consider the idea is what I thought the article addressed.

I thought so too; which is why I had the "bright" idea to make this post.
posted by landis at 1:49 PM on November 18, 2007


They mean "genetic variation within a given 'race' is equal to or greater than genetic variation outside a given 'race', which makes the concept irrelivant from a genetics standpoint".

I question this statement, but possibly because I may not understand you completely. Isn't it possible that the differences that make up the variation outside a racial group or portion of a continuum are different from the difference which make up the variation within that group?

If there is more variation within a group than between groups, that doesn't render the differences between groups negligible. But I may have misunderstood you.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:49 PM on November 18, 2007


So, future reference, if I'm an asshole who wants to start a bullshit thread and have it get a lot of comments before it gets deleted, it's a good chance none of the mods are online around 4:00 PM EST on a Sunday?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2007


Before this post gets deleted, I just want to thank nasreddin for saying everything I would have said.

Also, IQ tests measure nothing but the ability to do well on IQ tests. Anyone who thinks they measure "intelligence" is an idiot.
posted by languagehat at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't understand why it's so hard to believe that non-mixing populations could develop different traits over 50,000 years.

There is no such thing as a 'non-mixing population', that's why, especially not over 50,000 years.

Race does not exist; or, if it does, it is a continuum.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, the invincible power of prejudice.

Really? Here's a thought experiment.

You have been given three slips of paper. One says "black," one says "white," and one says "Asian."

You are presented with the following three photographs:

1.
2.
3.

If you match the slips with the pictures, you get $10,000. How do you feel about your chances? I suppose you think you're probably not going to get the money, huh? I mean, you only have a one in six chance.

There's just no way to tell which picture is of a person of which race, because race is meaningless!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


True pyramid, but that is the assumption behind all knowledge, no? It's left for the end user to determine each truths worth.

that's just relativism and not any kind of real answer

doesn't anyone want to answer the question? or is the answer something people don't want to admit? that the only reason such information would be useful is that racists would use it to justify their racism

if you can think of another use for it, i'm listening
posted by pyramid termite at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2007


.
posted by mano at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2007


Metafilter: I won't apologize for overreacting
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:54 PM on November 18, 2007


Don't worry about it, landis, you just happened to kick over a can of hot glue. It's not your fault Chicago's burning down.

it exists as an idea. it is a scoial construct. it is HUGE. it has a HUGE impact.

I take exception to this statement - I think it is only partially a social construct. There are meaningful differences between the races, as mentioned by sergeant sandwich. Certainly there is a social component, but the proportion it makes up is debatable. Some think it's 10%, some think it's 90%. Only one thing is for sure, it's not 100% and it's not 0%.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:55 PM on November 18, 2007


The importance and prestige ascribed to quantitative measures of mental agility in our society speaks ill of our values.
posted by limon at 1:56 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


doesn't anyone want to answer the question? or is the answer something people don't want to admit?

No one wants to bother, because it's a bullshit question.

Using your criteria of "is it useful" to know something, then we could safely ignore the majority of complex Mathematics.
posted by jsonic at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


1) Breaking up points by using a number system is inherently Euro/petomitastic in it's elliptical use of the Bonehomner theory.

1) Static build up can and will result in a static charge.

4th( Language: The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure.

C) Foreskins are teh devil.
posted by nola at 1:59 PM on November 18, 2007


iknowimaloser, I guess I (and others) question the veracity of the test itself. IQ is a notoriously controversial subject in psychology. Measurements are not so much "intelligence" as "capabilities in certain areas," and the test does not control for how the environment the person grew up in has to do with their IQ. For instance, if you check out the twin study done on here, it analyzes a series of twin studies where it finds if both identical twins are raised in moderate-to-upper-income households there is little variance in their IQ. But once one or both are raised in low-income households, IQ variance increases dramatically. This seems obvious, as parental involvement, access to quality education, good nutrition, and other factors that promote healthy child development are more likely to not be available to the child living in poverty. Though do note in a later paper Turkheimer says it is difficult to determine exactly which factors do and do not cause this effect on IQ.

And that is very relevant, as overwhelmingly blacks are going to be in economically disadvantaged situations compared to other races. South Africa and the United States? Sure, a long history of quality education provided to black children there. And lest you argue about the above average measurements of children in poor Asian countries, remember that for the past few decades most East Asian countries have invested heavily in the educational development of their population. Certainly moreso than most African countries.

You call it a religion. I call it attempting to control for all variables.
posted by schroedinger at 1:59 PM on November 18, 2007


Mr. President, race is meaningless, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Of course they look different. What does that mean? Nothing, according to geneticists. Same as eye color, acne, or if you have hair on your back.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2007


Pyramid, i am a relativist. Guilty as charged. Those who have a method of analysis that applies to all situations scare me. I have no idea why this info is useful, but alot of people on this thread think its useful to prove that those who don't take their tack are racists. So maybe it has two uses. It is useful to racists who think intelligence is an indication of white superiority and it useful to those who believe themselves the arbiters of who exactly those racist people are.

The next 50 years are going to be hysterical to watch as genetic analysis destroys time-honored egalitarian myths on which the fountains of self-righteousness which fill this thread have been built.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


iknowimaloser wrote "Flunkie, it's like arguing with a [...] feminist. You can't win."

And WTF is that supposed to mean, bub? If you mean "I can't win because they're right and I'm a misognyst prick", well that's one thing, but somehow I doubt that's what you meant. Care to expand on that statement?

As for the subject at hand, Flunkie is simply wrong. Go to any anthropology department of any university, find a professor of anthropology and ask "excuse me Doctor, but is race a valid scientific concept?" And, for the reasons I explained in my post above, the professor will say no. Anthropologists are the people who invented the concept in the first place, they're the once who study such things, so therefore their actual scientific opinion trumps both you and Flunkie's complete ignorance of the topic.
posted by sotonohito at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2007


There was some interesting discussion about this stuff on an earlier thread.

People can learn to do better on IQ tests, just like other standardized tests. Remember how at one time the SAT's were meant to measure innate capacities? Now no one questions that you can prep for them to increase your score... There's no reason to think IQ tests are any differenT. Intelligence is a practice, rather than a trait, and it's not an easy one to define to start with. What good does it do to connect it to arbitrary groupings like "race"?
posted by mdn at 2:04 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mr. President, race is meaningless, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

So it exists. It's just meaningless. What do you mean when you say it's meaningless?

Presumably what you're trying to say is that it doesn't correlate to anything interesting, but that strikes me as the sort of thing that should be established through studies, not sermons.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:06 PM on November 18, 2007


Schroedinger, I am not in any way disputing the irrelevance of IQ tests. My pt. is that revelations of this sort are not going to stop coming from geneticists. And to out-of-hand dismiss such revelations, to me, borders on the religious.

But thank you for your measured response.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:06 PM on November 18, 2007


Schroedinger - you're certainly right, but the issue is, as I said before, not whether race is the primary determinant for IQ, however measured, but whether it has any effect at all. People don't seem to even want to consider the idea. I fully am with agreement that economic status, availability of adequate education and nutrition, and good parenting are the biggest factors, probably by a mile. But if there is an effect of race, it should be included as well.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2007


My recent askme about the relationship between IQ metrics and general intelligence has some good resources from parkerjackson, wyzewoman, and Paladin165.

I still think g is hooey, but I'm beginning to understand just how deeply complicated the hooey is. We're talking some really intricate excrement, here.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2007


Don't bother arguing with him. He knows he's a loser.
posted by languagehat at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm a little uncomfortable with the assumption that this thread should be (or is bound to be) deleted, presumably because it raises uncomfortable challenges to the prevailing orthodoxy. Particularly troubling is pyramid termite's implied suggestion that scientific inquiry should be stifled or censored because it might not be salutary to our social consensus. We can go down that road if we want to, but we might not get very far before we start wishing we could go back.

Was Watson right? The answer may very well be "no," but all indignant protestations to the contrary, the answer is not self evident.

The discussion at GNXP linked above (along with the questions raised in the comments there) might have been a better and more substantial FPP than the Slate article. It certainly gets deeper into many of the questions raised here about cross-cultural validity of IQ tests and validity of race as a concept. You might not agree with it, but it's a bit less knee-jerk than much of the discussion here.

Or, as anotherpanacaea put it, We're talking some really intricate excrement, here.
posted by Urban Hermit at 2:09 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sotonohito, my apologies for including that statement in this thread. I'm new here and still learning.

Of course, I don't retract my statement one bit. This thread just wasn't the place for it. But I love how misogyny pops out immediately. Because of course feminists represent all women. Don't you know those African women are just clamoring for abortions. Who needs to understand their culture, we want abortions, therefore they do, too. The hubris.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2007


Anyone intending to identify themselves as an utter knob-end, please do continue conflating race as genetic inheritance and a social inheritance whilst ignoring the weight of history and culture. It will save so much time to never having to take anything you say seriously again.
posted by Abiezer at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2007


My pt. is that revelations of this sort are not going to stop coming from geneticists. And to out-of-hand dismiss such revelations, to me, borders on the religious.

Well, we can't exactly reply to your point, since we don't all have access to a database of Future Genetic Revelations.
posted by nasreddin at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2007


iknowimaloser, so far you've tried to link the debate on race with feminism, religion, and now abortion. My spidey-sense is telling me that you are troll that I could actually learn a thing or 2 from :)
posted by jsonic at 2:15 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


As a wise man once said, if you act like a complete idiot, people will treat you as an equal.
posted by Jimbob at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


No one wants to bother, because it's a bullshit question.

no, it's not - you just don't want to answer it

---

Pyramid, i am a relativist. Guilty as charged. Those who have a method of analysis that applies to all situations scare me. I have no idea why this info is useful

really? i've just proposed one idea

It is useful to racists who think intelligence is an indication of white superiority and it useful to those who believe themselves the arbiters of who exactly those racist people are.

that's it?

it seems to me that you're admitting that those who present such information don't have any other real reason than racism - and the whole snark about someone believing themselves the arbiters of that is just rhetorical noise - all you're really suggesting is that people use evidence to judge things

my - what a quaint idea

The next 50 years are going to be hysterical to watch as genetic analysis destroys time-honored egalitarian myths on which the fountains of self-righteousness which fill this thread have been built.

hmmm - would that be collective genetic analysis or individual genetic analysis? and if collective, what can that tell us about an individual? anything useful?

Particularly troubling is pyramid termite's implied suggestion that scientific inquiry should be stifled or censored because it might not be salutary to our social consensus.

i said no such thing - i asked why it would be useful

sure is funny how that question disturbs people, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007


So if I become Jewish, I'll become more intelligent..? That sounds like a good deal.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


BlackLeotardFront wrote "But if there is an effect of race, it should be included as well."

Agree completely. And if there were, genetically speaking, such a thing as "race" then it might have such an effect. Since, however, there is not such a thing as "race", from an actual genetics standpoint, then it can't be included. You can't include the effect of the luminiferous aether, fairies, or magic spells becuase they also don't actually exist from a standpoint that applies to the subject.

And, just as in Flunkie's example, you could show people pictures of various mythical beings (dragons, unicorns, and faries), and they'd be able to ID the faries. But that doesn't make the existence of faries a valid scientific concept either.

We can't include that which does not exist, and as the anthropologists have shown, race isn't something that has existence in any meaningful genetic sense.
posted by sotonohito at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007


Thanks for that GNXP link... I missed it before. Very interesting.

And iknowimaloser's comments aren't trying to specifically tie in religion, abortion and so on, they're simply challenging current politically correct dogmas.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007


I take exception to this statement - I think it is only partially a social construct. There are meaningful differences between the races, as mentioned by sergeant sandwich. Certainly there is a social component, but the proportion it makes up is debatable. Some think it's 10%, some think it's 90%. Only one thing is for sure, it's not 100% and it's not 0%.

wow, you mean there are meaningful differences that you can identify in human beings? you mean we aren't all the same? and genetics can explain some of those differences? traits like skin color? WOW! you mean simple traits can be linked to genes? cool, maybe youre onto something BIG.

so lets take these differences and make a category out of them. and lets say, the RACE genes explain the differences in HAIR and EYE SHAPE and SKIN COLOR. and lets say thats your big genetic discovery. you are the big scientist man.

now some racist comes along, and tells you, "gosh, lookit all these RACE genes you all have identified, correctly, as responsible for all these topical, SIMPLE characteristics. say, mr big shot scientist, couldnt you MAYBE just see if these important genes that determine HAIR COLOR and EYE SHAPE are are also responsible for an incredibly complex characteristic that i cant define?...

"i mean, i have this FEELING... a really REAL feeling, im totally CONVINCED theres a link between INTELLIGENCE and race. and even though you say intelligence is not a simple trait that you can trace to a few random genes, and even though noone can define intelligence and even though intelligence is HIGHLY dependent on environment. and even though the experiments will be totally fucked because you cant control for the fact that people have made such a big deal out of RACE - exploiting physical differences to segregate and socially manipulate each other since the dawn of time....

"despite all that im sure that you will be able to find SOME correlation that i can use to argue that the 3 or 4 RACE genes that were so busy determining the color of my skin WERE DOING DOUBLE FUCKING TRIPLE DUTY AND ALSO CODING FOR WHY I AM SO MUCH FUCKING SMARTER THAN ALL THESE INFERIOR UNTERMENSCHEN.

get it?
posted by mano at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


StickyCarpet: It would be an interesting exercise to design an IQ test that would advantage African-Americans.

A New Zealand academic did just that back in the 80s (only for NZ Maori, not for African-Americans). Average score for white NZers was something like 2/10; for Maori it was about 7 or 8/10. The author went off on a (tongue-in-cheek) discussion about how the government should open up special remedial schools for the white kids...
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


In my experience IQ is a terrible predictor of race.

I wouldnt go so far to say as there is no such thing as race. It's a continuum for sure, but people will self select into racial groups for whatever reasons. Not good ones perhaps, but they do and since social structure seems to be an area of a lot of attention lately maybe we shouldnt ignore the elephant in the room here? Race exists, and it shouldn't. Sticking your fingers in your ears and going "lalala" is one way to try and break it down but that sort of activism never got anyone anywhere.

Racially segregated statistics are only useful for comparing against previous racial studies so you can measure changes over time. They are pretty much useless for any practical purpose
posted by public at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2007


Since, however, there is not such a thing as "race", from an actual genetics standpoint, then it can't be included.

I think you're claiming more than you can support. The traits that correspond with race are indeed largely inheritable. What you're trying to say is that non-race genetic variation is far larger.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm a little uncomfortable with the assumption that this thread should be (or is bound to be) deleted, presumably because it raises uncomfortable challenges to the prevailing orthodoxy.

My assumption is that this thread will be deleted because it's just a carnival a shit-stirring that has already called forth the familiar sick crew of instigators who live for crap like this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2007


Sotonohito,
were you going to address my ideas on that very subject, here and here? Or were you just going to assume you had the jump on me? I have already questioned whether race is a non-significant concept.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2007


Of course, Nas, you're right. Further genetic testing is going to prove once and for all that, unlike the entirety of the animal kingdom, there is in fact, no variation between humans. We are all the same. Identical.

No, that's not right. My initial pt. is. People who take offense to this idea believe that intelligence is a higher trait. Give me kind, compassionate, funny, warm or understanding any day.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


sure is funny how that question disturbs people, isn't it?

Not really. Do you actually think people here are not capable of acknowledging the fact that die-hard racists will use this info to prop-up their prejudice? Do you really feel that you are heralding the charge to bring this amazingly hidden secret to light?

Trumpet on, brother. What would we do without you?
posted by jsonic at 2:21 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Presumably what you're trying to say is that it doesn't correlate to anything interesting, but that strikes me as the sort of thing that should be established through studies, not sermons.

Yes, that is what I mean. It's an arbitrary phenotype... and I know there was a study that examined this, in terms of genetic diversity among populations; I just skimmed this thread looking for a link, certain that it was here, but I can't find it, although it is often cited as fact. This is pretty close.

The IQ tests in question, however, are pretty bogus. I think mdn makes a good point, in that you can train yourself to do better on IQ tests. Therefore, it doesn't really measure any inherent trait, so much as one's ability to do well on an IQ test.

So, in sum, my opinion is that grouping intelligence by race is not useful, since race is just as meaningful as, say, eye color. That last point seems to be the sticking one, and you may disagree with me. I will think you are wrong, but guess what! It's okay to disagree about things. Even important things.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:22 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are two assertions: one is that "ethnicity" is totally meaningless, and the other is that "ethnicity" isn't linked with mental ability. He's disavowed the second, and asked, I think in good faith, about the first. I think the prickliness probably comes from the fact that if the first assertion is wrong, that there's some set of genes that can be tied in some way to something like ethnicity, then it might be a frighteningly quick step to - well, mental ability being an ethnic characteristic. This is an area I know absolutely nothing about - but I think the fear is overblown. Clearly there are genetic diseases, and other genetic characteristics associated to some degree with ethnicity. Barring the foggies clue what a usable definition of "ethnicity" is, I'll mean by the what people would self-report when asked about their "ethnicity". Further clearly we have no idea what we're doing when we try to define, measure, and map intelligence. Charitably, IQ tests test how good, conditional on training, one is at taking the IQ test. But since proper training is a childhood-long educational program, it's hard to do controlled studies. In any case, given that in the actual world socioeconomics within and between countries, prejudice and educational access seem many orders more important that genetics (and this has been borne out, at least by economists if you trust those bastards), that is probably the more interesting domain.
posted by ~ at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2007


Jesus christ, mano, do you have to be such an asshole about it? I asked a question, so answer it. Don't give me this big production that's totally out of proportion with what I asked. I'm not a goddamn white supremacist, I'm just asking how we can be so sure that genetics have absolutely no effect on intelligence, however we measure it? You're losing the fucking debate here, man, because you're going to such lengths to turn a reasonable exception into a goddamn burning cross.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:26 PM on November 18, 2007


Do you actually think people here are not capable of acknowledging the fact that die-hard racists will use this info to prop-up their prejudice?

i KNOW that no one has given me another reason why this information would be useful

and THAT is my point

now, do you have a refutation for that or not?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:28 PM on November 18, 2007


I LIKE CHEESE
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2007


As I recently heard a young black woman say "That's dumbstupid!"

Coincidentally coining the phrase "dumbstupid" proves black superiority.
posted by brevator at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2007


1/2 way through the comments and my vote is NOT to delete this FPP. This is one of the most vital and passionate discussions I've seen in a couple of months and I'd love for it to continue.

Yes, there is some noise, but that's a small price to pay for so many thoughtful comments.
posted by mistersquid at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Took too long to write that. Most of it was said better above while I was writing.
posted by ~ at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2007


1/2 way through the comments and my vote is NOT to delete this FPP. This is one of the most vital and passionate discussions I've seen in a couple of months and I'd love for it to continue.

If this stays, I am afraid I will be compelled to cut off a hand. Not one of my hands, mind you...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2007


PT, from psyche7's link:

Intelligence measures predict the kind of social and personal outcomes that people the world over agree are important and desirable. For this reason we need to start engaging this data instead of shooting the messengers.
posted by landis at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2007


Thread gets archived in 3....2...1....... To be honest, I'm amazed it's still up.

Like others have said, there are far too many confounding factors to ever try to equate race and intelligence, if you had a decent intelligence test, which you don't. Come back when you've taken thousands of children of different races, given them similar nutrition, medical care, and intrauterine environment, raised them in the same culture, subjected them to the same type of education, engaged them in the same activities, and tested them with a better test than the IQ test. Until then, the fact of the matter is, we're not going to know if racial genetics have a causal relationship with intelligence.

The truth is, it's a highly non-trivial question for which a massive, expensive, and ethically questionable study would have to be done. It hasn't, and without it, we're probably never going to know. Which I'm honestly fine with; what are you going to do with the data anyway? I truly do not see any ethical application.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm not a troll. I just find people to whom self-righteous indignation is a valid end offer nothing constructive and I mock out of anger at their ineffectiveness in making the world a more agreeable place to live. I never said Watson was right. Racism is disgusting. Period.

So go back to your feel-good love fest of "Aren't we so righteous" and label all who disagree as racists. Much like sotonohito jumped straight to misogyny when I criticized feminists, even tho, the majority of women don't identify themselves thusly.

Who cares if the world is burning, I didn't start the fire. Or something like that.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2007


now, do you have a refutation for that or not?

Are you actually arguing that knowing if intelligence is in any way linked to race (or not) would not be a useful thing to know?

Let me break it down for you: you are trying to put a subjective value-judgment on a piece of knowledge, and then attempting to argue about whether it is useful to know. It's like asking: Can anyone tell me why it is useful to know the color of the Sun?

Your very question makes no sense. The only possible point you are making is that racists like this kind of info. Kudos, genius, we already knew that.
posted by jsonic at 2:36 PM on November 18, 2007


pyramid termite, here's the reason it would be useful:

by not investigating it, we are choosing to remain in ignorance on a subject that causes much controversy. Many people who may be wrong, one way or the other, could be corrected. Investigating the subject throughly leads to greater truth and knowledge, which should be welcome for their own sake. If you don't welcome truth and knowledge for their own sake, but only for the good that they bring, that is another question entirely.

Or really, if you want a more practical reason, why not something really obvious like:
People are often categorized into visual learners, hands-on learners, etc. If there are meaningful differences between the races on how they learn (why not? different environments engender different strengths) then we can cater to them, just as we cater to children's predispositions for visual or experiential or reading-based learning.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:36 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm a little uncomfortable with the assumption that this thread should be (or is bound to be) deleted, presumably because it raises uncomfortable challenges to the prevailing orthodoxy.

No, that's not why. The reason is that threads like this (like LOLXIANS threads and LOLFATTIES threads) go in absolutely predictable directions, with reasonable people pointing out that the premises behind the alleged correlations are dubious and the "research" of no apparent value, and idiots, racists, and enablers going on and on about how THE MAN IS TRYING TO KEEP THEM DOWN and everybody else is a bunch of PC wankers, and there's lots of heat and no light. That's why the thread should be deleted.

I sure hope when I hit Post I'll just see the "This post has been deleted..." box.
posted by languagehat at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


And before you tell me that you don't know what black, white, and Asian people, I know you do, so don't be coy.

Define asian for me. Because my roommate swears she's Japanese, not Asian. My best friend says he's Chinese, and if you call him Korean, he'll say something rude about your mother. How about Arab? is that a race? They didn't even get included in the article. I hear they invented mathemetics, so maybe they're exempt. Have you ever referred to a Persian as Arab?Try it someday, Getting cursed out in Farsi is Fun!

Tell me what a "black person" is. I really would like to know.
Supposedly I am one, but I get confused, because these articles never seem to mention me.

I can see it now... "The average African-American score is 85, but there's this one dude in Brooklyn who keeps bangin out a 160 and fucking up our numbers"

And as far you people with your picture tests. Click on my profile and tell me what "race" my grandmother was. How about my great grandmother? If you were going to color a picture of my family sitting around the thanksgiving table, How many crayons would you pick out of the box?

You people seem to know everything. Tell me at what age "black" males start resenting authority. Tell me at what grade level school teachers start lowering their expectations of a "black" kid's intelligence, because of that kids "attitude".

Tell me how "white" I have to act to succeed. And before you tell me that you don't know what "acting white" is, I know you do, so don't be coy.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [24 favorites]


Damn.
posted by languagehat at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2007


"The truth is, it's a highly non-trivial question for which a massive, expensive, and ethically questionable study would have to be done. It hasn't, and without it, we're probably never going to know. Which I'm honestly fine with; what are you going to do with the data anyway? I truly do not see any ethical application." - Mirovarr

You hit the nail on the head - there is no ethical application for any of this data, or Watson's position.

It will not serve to make our society better for all members, and it will not further human rights in any way.

It will, as has been said, be used by racists to prop up their agenda's which, and here's the dangerous part, will include reducing educational funding, interfere with afforts to equalize rights and standards of living in developing countries, and promote the maintainance of a status quo that is currently predisposed to ignore genocides, famine, and the perpetuation of war for profit, and the expoitation of "colonial" populations.
posted by Athabasca at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2007


Oh my god! It rains stupid somewhere on the internet, and all the racists crawl out of the ground here. Ewww!
posted by cytherea at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?
posted by thewalrusispaul at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2007


Intelligence measures predict the kind of social and personal outcomes that people the world over agree are important and desirable. For this reason we need to start engaging this data instead of shooting the messengers.

that doesn't explain why such collective data on race and intelligence would be more socially useful than data on an individual's intelligence - especially seeing as you're not going to get collective data without testing individuals

it's more meaningful to say individual A scored 80 on his IQ test, so he needs a little extra help than to group him in with a bunch of arbitrarily defined people and say, "this group of people averaged x on their IQ tests so individual A does/doesn't need extra help from us"

---

Are you actually arguing that knowing if intelligence is in any way linked to race (or not) would not be a useful thing to know? Let me break it down for you: you are trying to put a subjective value-judgment on a piece of knowledge, and then attempting to argue about whether it is useful to know.

if i'm wrong, it should be absurdly easy to answer the question with an example of usefulness

lose the rhetoric and come back when you actually ANSWER the question
posted by pyramid termite at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2007


+5 for launching an incredible troll fpp.

i have a theory that honor students are actually dumber than juvenile delinquents. the honor students spend an extra hour a day padding their gpa, while the delinquents are out cruising around in cars and learning street smarts. this makes the delinquents quicker to recognize certain difficult situations and more adaptable in handling them.
posted by bruce at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2007


Wow. I thought Steven Pinker was exaggerating when he pointed out in the Blank Slate how many intellectuals want to shut down the debate about genetic differences between people -- they don't even want to entertain the idea; they villify anyone who want to honestly discuss the issues.

Amazing. It's here, it's happening, and it is indeed pushed by "liberals" under the misconception that proven genetic differences between the races would necessarily justify racism. What an amazing amount of mind-choking political correctness from people who are supposed to support scientific free thinking and expression.
posted by shivohum at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


I'm really awfully glad I'm a beta.
posted by padraigin at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


you asked a question that betrays an ignorance of genetics and science in general.

its this same ignorance that leads most americans to gobble up the saleton slop originally linked in the FPP, that and the fact that they desperately want to believe that (their) racism is not a moral failure because it is based on science.

so, im sorry to be so ranty about it, but i'm making a big deal about it because i think it is a big deal. you pose your specific question:

I'm just asking how we can be so sure that genetics have absolutely no effect on intelligence, however we measure it?

is a red herring. of course genetics has a huge influence on intelligence. if someone is telling you otherwise they are crazy. that has very little to do with a debate over whether "race" determines intelligence.
posted by mano at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


"The reason is that threads like this (like LOLXIANS threads and LOLFATTIES threads) go in absolutely predictable directions, with reasonable people pointing out that the premises behind the alleged correlations are dubious and the "research" of no apparent value, and idiots, racists, and enablers going on and on about how THE MAN IS TRYING TO KEEP THEM DOWN and everybody else is a bunch of PC wankers, and there's lots of heat and no light. That's why the thread should be deleted."

Thank you for proving my pt. Takes me back to my days in the Roman Catholic Church. Except, instead of being called idiots, racists and enablers we were called heathens, Satan-worshippers and AC/DC fans. Never question, children, never ever question.

And what exactly is the measure of reasonable? Damn, can you be dumb but reasonable or smart and unreasonable? How will that play into the analysis. This is all to complicated. But I bet you have the answers.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2007


Define asian for me. Because my roommate swears she's Japanese, not Asian. My best friend says he's Chinese, and if you call him Korean, he'll say something rude about your mother. How about Arab? is that a race? They didn't even get included in the article. I hear they invented mathemetics, so maybe they're exempt. Have you ever referred to a Persian as Arab?Try it someday, Getting cursed out in Farsi is Fun!

Exactly, exactly, exactly.

The concepts of 'race' are purely relics of the Victoria Age, when slavery was still acceptable and we whites were busy slaughtering the Red Man.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2007


lose the rhetoric and come back when you actually ANSWER the question

HAHA! YOU ask why knowing something is "useful", and then accuse me of being the one engaged in only rhetoric. I am delighted that you do not see the irony.
posted by jsonic at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2007


"Would you think the same thing if we did the same experiment with "short" or "tall" rather than "European", "African", or "Asian"?"

Here's something that I haven't seen said, but I think gets at the crux of your problem: "Short" and "Tall" are relative abstractions of something measurable, how tall a person is. For an experiment, they're useless because they're undefined. Not because people can't largely agree on what tall and short mean, but because they're tied to a subjective decision. To make them scientifically testable, they have to be linked to a concrete metric. If you say that "tall" is defined as people over 6", and short is people under 5", you can test that. You can't with just "short" and "tall."

Race is similarly subjective, even if most people can tell you who's white and who's black. To be testable, it has to be tied to something like melanin, which is a terrible predictor of intelligence.

And to jsonic: It's a shame that you missed the point of the anecdote. You must not have the kind of intelligence that it takes to abstract narrative.
posted by klangklangston at 2:47 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


A better analogy might be to think of race as a significant digits problem, where the certainty of results is decreased by the imprecision of the measurements.
posted by klangklangston at 2:49 PM on November 18, 2007


See, now we're descending into shit. Did I mention I like cheese? I even have a t-shirt with that slogan on it.

And I have an IQ of 180.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:50 PM on November 18, 2007


From an article linked above, please read:

"In one of the most extensive of these studies to date, considering 1,056 individuals from 52 human populations, with each individual genotyped for 377 autosomal microsatellite markers, we found that individuals could be partitioned into six main genetic clusters, five of which corresponded to Africa, Europe and the part of Asia south and west of the Himalayas, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas"


"In a study of East Asians, Europeans and Africans, Dr. Pritchard and his colleagues found 700 regions of the genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection in recent times. In East Asians, the average date of these selection events is 6,600 years ago.

Many of the reshaped genes are involved in taste, smell or digestion, suggesting that East Asians experienced some wrenching change in diet. Since the genetic changes occurred around the time that rice farming took hold, they may mark people's adaptation to a historical event, the beginning of the Neolithic revolution as societies switched from wild to cultivated foods.

Some of the genes are active in the brain and, although their role is not known, may have affected behavior. So perhaps the brain gene changes seen by Dr. Pritchard in East Asians have some connection with the psychological traits described by Dr. Nisbett."


If people can be grouped genetically into distinct clusters (I imagine they are more like populous nodes on a continuum) and there are many recent and non-recent non-superficial changes to non-superficial systems that have not been explored, why does it have to be assumed that cognitive abilities or the elusive "g," should it exist, were not affected by these changes?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2007


And to jsonic: It's a shame that you missed the point of the anecdote. You must not have the kind of intelligence that it takes to abstract narrative.

It must be those damn genes of mine. It's a shame you don't realize that anecdotes don't prove the rule.

I honestly think that a high-level refresher course in STATISTICS would resolve the vast majority of the impedance mismatch in this thread.
posted by jsonic at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Henry, just now descending? I suspect your substance abuse comes from an inate sense that you were born into shit. This is evidence of your high I.Q., at least to moi.
posted by iknowimaloser at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2007


Thank you, shivohum.

I honestly didn't expect this reaction to the post.
posted by landis at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2007


What an amazing amount of mind-choking political correctness from people who are supposed to support scientific free thinking and expression.

Landis et al, you are under the mistaken assumption that, when talking about race, 'scientific free thinking' is somehow impartial and apolitical. It is not.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2007


Thank you, shivohum.

Um, you're thanking shivohum for attacking "liberals" and "mind-choking political correctness"? You surprise me.
posted by languagehat at 2:59 PM on November 18, 2007


I honestly didn't expect this reaction to the post.

You didn't expect an adverse reaction to a post about "Race and Intelligence" supporting the very argument that led to the resignation in disgrace of Watson?
posted by cytherea at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2007


Perhaps I should clarify my stance that this information should not be pursued, because it cannot be ethically used.

To pursue this knowledge in a scientifically valid sense would be extremely difficult, extremely expensive, and impossible to do ethically. To rule out cultural or behavioral reasons for testing differences, you will basically have to isolate the subjects from the outside world for their entire lives up to the test. EVERYONE will have to be treated as close to identically as possible, and raised in the same culture. The subjects cannot be exposed to contemporary culture. We're talking about doing the Truman Show to thousands of people.

Obviously, this is something that cannot be ethically done, and the value of the information, which is almost guaranteed to lead to negative consequences if any, is not worth violating so many people's rights. So, unless we can analyze the genetics and learn that way (which is far beyond our current capabilities), it should not be studied. Attempting to draw half-assed conclusions from incomplete and confounded data, as is being done now, really will accomplish nothing but feeding the racists. As such, the problem should be abandoned (at least for the present.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's an excerpt from the article that started all this; a part many here seem to have skipped over:

Remember, these are averages, and all groups overlap. You can't deduce an individual's intelligence from her ethnicity. The only thing you can reasonably infer is that anyone who presumes to rate your IQ based on the color of your skin is probably dumber than you are.

I thought there were some interesting points in the article; again, I was certainly knocked over by the response to the post. And while I at one point myself called for it to be deleted, I now hope this whole goddamn thing stays.
posted by landis at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2007


No, that's not why. The reason is that threads like this (like LOLXIANS threads and LOLFATTIES threads) go in absolutely predictable directions, with reasonable people pointing out that the premises behind the alleged correlations are dubious and the "research" of no apparent value, and idiots, racists, and enablers going on and on about how THE MAN IS TRYING TO KEEP THEM DOWN and everybody else is a bunch of PC wankers, and there's lots of heat and no light. That's why the thread should be deleted.

Fair enough, though I see fewer idiots and racists in evidence here than people who seem to be anticipating their presence and reacting with vitriolic defensiveness. Perhaps I'm just naive, but in the interest of those who might approach this in the true spirit of investigation, there may be a few rays of light getting through here, and they should not be arbitrarily blocked out.

Landis et al, you are under the mistaken assumption that, when talking about race, 'scientific free thinking' is somehow impartial and apolitical. It is not.

So we should refrain from engaging in it when it does not suit our political beliefs?
posted by Urban Hermit at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2007


People should read Watson's response to the controversy before saying anything. I'm guilty of not having done so, and now I feel stupid. He sums up the issue more concisely than I ever could (which is no surprise).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:04 PM on November 18, 2007


So we should refrain from engaging in it when it does not suit our political beliefs?

No - my point is that Landis (or whoever) cannot say that engaging in 'scientific discussion' is apolitical.

An argument is being posited in this thread: race exists.

Some people say it does not. Other people argue that IQ tests are meaningless, especially when measuring differences between "races".

Some folks, surprised at the reaction in this thread, are resorting to calling people "PC" and "liberals".

And when you have to resort to namecalling to get your point across, it means you have lost the argument.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


languagehat, I was agreeing w/ shivohum about many here having the "misconception that proven genetic differences between the races would necessarily justify racism."
posted by landis at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2007


Mitrovarr, you should check out this link from earlier, there is a ton of research being done. It is not necessary to set up a biosphere with our little race-tronauts isolated inside. It just takes careful observation and controls. Anthropology and behavioral genetics are difficult subjects, but there are very smart people, like James Watson, at the helm of very important research projects. There is a lot of documentation of this, please take a few minutes to look at it before suggesting the shutting down of an entire branch of science.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:09 PM on November 18, 2007


And to KokyRyu, I have never said that scientific discussion was apolitical. Don't get me started on the whole global warming thing. Hell, everything's political.
posted by landis at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2007


Only 219 comments by now? I just saw this and figured that with this much time the stoning death of landis would have been mostly complete by now.
posted by caddis at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2007



So we should refrain from engaging in it when it does not suit our political beliefs?


Well, yes. I would oppose an experiment that attempted to determine whether women are more efficient at cooking or at laundry. Or an inquiry into the best method for silencing protesters. Or nuclear weapons experiments.
posted by nasreddin at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, I don't know why I would wade into this conversation at all, but here goes. I'll start by saying that I think that ideas that particular races are "superior" or "inferior" to each other and that this should affect how we treat each other are pernicious, evil, and have caused a host of terrible problems over mankind's history. I love everyone equally, and I hope that we can all just get along.

I read the article linked to by Urban Hermit, and I acknowledge that I am not a geneticist, but it certainly has a far more footnoted and scientific approach to this whole question than the FPP linked article.

There was one particular part of it that caught my eye, and perhaps those of you who have more of a background in the genetics side of things could help me with, but it certainly *suggests* that there is the possibility of genetic differences leading to differences in intelligence, when controlled for environment (which seems to be one of the big sticking points.) Again, I'm not saying I support or agree with this, but it seems thought provoking. Perhaps others on here could help me to understand it better. Please don't pile on me, I'm not trying to support racism.
For one transracial adoption experiments control for all the shared aspects of the environment that differ between whites and blacks (parenting, income, nutrition, neighborhood), while structural equation models test for possible uncommon factors between whites and blacks that could be acting on IQ (which would include things like racism). These experiments do not lend support to any existing or plausible environmental theories for the remaining lower intelligence scores of people of African descent in Western societies. The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study found that, by adulthood, the difference in IQ scores between adopted black and adopted white children raised side by side in the same high income households in mostly homogeneous Northern US upper class neighborhoods was 18 IQ points (p 185):


The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study

IQ at Age 7 IQ at Age 17

W-W 111.5 W-W 101.5
W-B 105.4 W-B 93.2
B-B 91.4 B-B 83.7

W-W = Adopted children with two white biological parents.
W-B = Adopted children with one black and one white biological parent.
B-B = Adopted children with two black biological parents.


The W-W/W-B difference is 8.3 IQ points. The B-W/B-B difference is 9.5 IQ points. And the W-W/B-B difference is 17.8 IQ points.

The difference in IQ scores between 2 black biological parent adoptees and 1 black biological parent adoptees is nearly 10 IQ points despite the fact that both share the exact same social identity.

Similarly a dozen mixed race children that were raised under some mistaken information that they had two black biological parents nevertheless developed IQ scores like the other mixed race children.

There are no simple or plausible environmental theories to explain these kinds of findings.
posted by MythMaker at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


since this thread is still here i'll post my favorite quote about "intelligence." simone de beauvoir, the ethics of ambiguity.

"What is called vitality, sensitivity, and intelligence are not ready-made qualities, but a way of casting oneself into the world and of disclosing being. Doubtless, every one casts himself into it on the basis of his physiological possibilities, but the body itself is not a brute fact. It expresses our relationship to the world, and that is why it is an object of sympathy or repulsion. And on the other hand, it determines no behavior. There is vitality only by means of free generosity. Intelligence supposes good will, and, inversely, a man is never stupid if he adapts his language and his behavior to his capacities, and sensitivity is nothing else but the presence which is attentive to the world and to itself."

make of it what you will.
posted by facetious at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


And to KokyRyu, I have never said that scientific discussion was apolitical. Don't get me started on the whole global warming thing. Hell, everything's political.

Urban Hermit seemed to think it is.

As a total derail, what are your thoughts about global warming?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:15 PM on November 18, 2007


What do you do when Science contradicts your world view?
posted by jsonic at 3:19 PM on November 18, 2007


And to everyone here who thinks I'm racist for posting this, I may as well confess: I am responsible for the Federal Reserve mess, the failure of our schools, idiots in bars, and the staging of the FEMA press conference. I made a goddamn FPP. I didn't read the part in the FAQ that said posting = endorsing.
posted by landis at 3:22 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


White people drive like this, and black people drive like this.
posted by eraserhed at 3:23 PM on November 18, 2007


It's not substance abuse! It's IQ modification. If I drink all night, I find I have the same IQ as an orangutan. FUCK YOU I'M A DRAGON
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu, Global warming is real, and if something isn't done soon . . . no, fuck that; it may already be too late.

Go on, blame me for that, too.
posted by landis at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2007


so it was you all along, landis....

seriously people read that GNXP article, read Watson's clarification of his statements, there is no controversy here.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2007


there is quite often cultural biases in questioning.

It would be an interesting exercise to design an IQ test that would advantage African-Americans.


Brilliant! I would love to see it as well.

-----

Just as an anecdotal example, since I was a kid, I've been in the 99th percentile of every standardized test I've ever taken. My younger sister scored average to slightly above average on every test she's taken. Yet now that we both in the real world, by pretty much every metric which we define success, she's far more successful than me, she has a college degree, while I dropped out, she has a higher paying, higher status job than me, she has a family and owns a home, and I rent and live with room mates.

IQ doesn't mean anything.


Perhaps if you were to more fully appreciate the distinction between 'anecdote' and 'evidence' your level of success (granted, a 'subjective' measurement) would increase.

-----

The GNXP post is very good and covers the subject in considerably more depth than the Slate article. Among other interesting bits it has a great answer to all the cries of "There's no such thing as race!!11!1!!!".

"Human races, like dog 'breeds', are defined in the biological context by shared ancestry, not by single appearance traits.

...

Population ancestry predicts the sum patterns of one's genotype and phenotypical traits (e.g. general racial appearance) while any single variable - in this case, skin color - does not.

...

A population is a race is a population. To deny the population is literally a denial of evolution."

Another critical quote for all those too lazy to read the GNXP blog:

"In fact, economists Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann report that the association between economic outcomes and measured intelligence appear to be even higher within developing African countries than within Western countries. (pp 13-15) Similarly, at the national level, psychologists Earl Hunt and Werner Wittmann found that the relationship between GDP and national average IQ was stronger for the mostly African developing countries than it was among the developed industrial countries. (0.70 vs 0.58)" (Psst! This means IQ is real, and it matters. As in it has real world effects.)

I'm surprised there has been no link to the mainstream science statement on intelligence (signed by 52 experts). A quote:

"2. Intelligence, so defined, can be measured, and intelligence tests measure it well. They are among the most accurate (in technical terms, reliable and valid) of all psychological tests and assessments. They do not measure creativity, character personality, or other important differences among individuals, nor are they intended to.

3. While there are different types of intelligence tests, they all measure the same intelligence. Some use words or numbers and require specific cultural knowledge (like vocabulary). Others do not, and instead use shapes or designs and require knowledge of only simple, universal concepts (many/few, open/closed, up/down). "
posted by BigSky at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2007


MythMaker: There are no simple or plausible environmental theories to explain these kinds of findings.

Sure there are. The kids know what they look like, and they know, from the media, what society expects them to act like, what culture they're expected to follow, etc. It is entirely plausible to believe that this shape their behavior, which in turn, shapes their intelligence.

With regard to the kids raised under the impression they were not the race they were, it is plausible to believe that their different appearance changed the way other people interacted with them, and what people they identified with, even if these influences were not consciously identified. Also, I doubt that small sample group was statistically viable.

You simply cannot do a study like this in the outside world with the influence of other people and the media.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:25 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just skimming, so apologies if I missed it, but has anyone mentioned in that mess up there that "race" is not a concept biologists apply to any other animal species? It would be nice if the folks like Flunkie who claim the term has some "scientific validity" could discuss what it is about humans that makes "race" an important scientific concept for them but not for other animals.

I'd love to meet a biologist who spends time with "race" as a meaningful concept in any animal.
posted by mediareport at 3:26 PM on November 18, 2007


"Mind choking political correctness."? Fuck me. You moron. Yes, if you are the scion of a family of morons (this may be construed as a personal attack in your case) there may well be a genetic component to your intelligence. This has fuck all to do with whether you are Somali, Inuit, or a good burgher of Calais.
posted by Abiezer at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2007


Lemme sum up:

1) IQ doesn't mean anything! It's a meaningless social construct. People with high IQ's can be complete losers who never amount to anything!

2) How dare someone imply that some races, on average, score higher on a meaningless assessment than others! That's racist!
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Correct.
posted by jsonic at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2007


You see, not only is landis responsible for racism, he is the cause of global warming as well, that an steroids on his balls. Oh, what a shameful day.
posted by caddis at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2007


This thread is the epitome of shooting the messenger.
posted by jsonic at 3:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr - well, that quote isn't from me, it's from the quoted GNXP article, but just look at the sentence above it:
Similarly a dozen mixed race children that were raised under some mistaken information that they had two black biological parents nevertheless developed IQ scores like the other mixed race children.
The writer of the article is saying that even controlling for people who believed their genetic backgrounds were one thing (that they had 2 black parents) that they tested consistently with what their actual genetic background was.

If your point was correct, that they believed certain cultural things, this wouldn't be true, it seems to me. But, like I said, I have no horse in this race. I really want to hear experts arguments against this.
posted by MythMaker at 3:40 PM on November 18, 2007


mediareport, your concerns are addressed above, and in here. I do not believe race is a meaningless concept.

And mitrovarr, the sample size is not mentioned for that study. And while I agree that it's plausible that these kids unconsciously modified their ability to test well, I think it's also plausible that there is more than that at play here, and we would be foolish to take anything off the table because it's distasteful.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:40 PM on November 18, 2007


This thread is the epitome of shooting the messenger.

Since the messenger keeps talking, may I suggest you all aim lower?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:41 PM on November 18, 2007


This thread is the epitome of shooting the messenger.

No, this thread is the epitome of why MetaFilter doesn't do race/IQ any better than it does religion or weight.
posted by languagehat at 3:43 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Choke on a kitten.
posted by landis at 3:43 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


seriously people read that GNXP article, read Watson's clarification of his statements, there is no controversy here.

You mean the article where they trumpet the existence of race as a genetically meaningful concept because It's More Than Skin Deep?
Well, it's good to see that Venter and Sternberg are basing their criticisms on SCIENCE instead of political correctness! Of course the purposefully obscurantist conflation between 'skin color' and ancestry is something I've dealt with before.
And Watson's "clarification" where he trots out his schizophrenic son as a deflection from his racism?
posted by cytherea at 3:43 PM on November 18, 2007


Your mother. I'll give you a kitten to choke on, sir!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:44 PM on November 18, 2007


MythMaker: The writer of the article is saying that even controlling for people who believed their genetic backgrounds were one thing (that they had 2 black parents) that they tested consistently with what their actual genetic background was.

Yeah, but the thing is, they didn't control for it. Those kids still didn't look the same as they would have, had they had the backgrounds they thought they did. Perhaps this changed the groups they identified with, leading them in different cultural and behavioral directions. It could also have easily effected their relationships with their parents (perhaps the parents bonded better to the children who looked more like themselves.)

Anyways, it is highly unlikely that a dozen kids proves anything in such a statistical study - it is unlikely to be a large enough sample size. This is, BlackLeotardFront, the study size I was referring to.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:46 PM on November 18, 2007


Fine. I like mine declawed and circumcised.
posted by landis at 3:48 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't doubt it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:49 PM on November 18, 2007


Cytherea, did you read the article, and not just look at the pictures? Care to talk about any of the content?

And did you read the clarification, yes, the clarification, in which Watson uses his son as an example in which genetics act contrarily to one's wishes?

Your comments smack of dogmatic thinking and everything that is wrong with this thread: not even considering the ideas put forth, which aren't even very controversial when you look at the data(try it!). Do you have anything to say about the actual content? Or are you content to simply call everyone involved a racist?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:50 PM on November 18, 2007


See, now I can't tell whether you're serious or not.
posted by landis at 3:51 PM on November 18, 2007


That last aimed at kittens for breakfast.
posted by landis at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2007


If these results turn out to represent reality, then this issue will be the analog of 'evolution' upon which left leaning folks will thresh themselves.
posted by jsonic at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2007


Thank you, Landis, for starting this thread. My Steelers haven't played a very good game today, so the hysterical responses to your non-racist posts have been particularly entertaining.
posted by iknowimaloser at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm pretty much just fucking around. I can't begin to imagine what possessed you to post this shit, but I won't descend to the level of taking it seriously. That way lies madness.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2007


Classic Metafilter.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 3:55 PM on November 18, 2007


Mitrovarr, I think the dozen kids part was separate from the other study. But apart from that, I still agree that your explanation is possible, but still only one among multiple. Like I said, there's nothing to suggest we should remove either of our options from the list of possible explanations.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2007


At this point, I don't know either. Gotta go to dinner. Have a good evening.
posted by landis at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2007


Bitches, I was supposed to go to the gym today.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:59 PM on November 18, 2007


How I read it is that the dozen kids were 12 out of the 130 children who participated in the Minnesota Transracial_Adoption Study. So the total in the study was 130.
posted by MythMaker at 3:59 PM on November 18, 2007


There you go, thanks mythmaker. The link from GNXP was to amazon, I think; I didn't think to check wikipedia. 130 is big enough given the disparity, I think, to have some power.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2007


There have been a lot of very good arguments made in this thread as to why IQ tests are a poor predictor of actual intelligence, however you would like to define it, so I won't go there. The same is true for the meaningless of race as a construct. These issues have been well addressed. I am also aware of the weakness of anecdotal evidence as any kind of scientific proof, and I am usually quite hesitant to talk about my own accomplishments without prompting. However...

I am black. (mixed, but most African-Americans are at some point in their ancestry)
I got a 1580 on the SATs.
I am about to finish a degree in neuroscience from a prestigious liberal arts college.
I am applying for graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D., possibly in neuropharmacology.
This post, the premises behind it, and some of the comments within are making me physically ill. I am on the verge of tears. I have had to face assumptions like these my whole life, and this is grinding on my last nerve. (It took a lot of self restraint to keep from typing FUCK YOU and leaving it at that.) I'm sick of having to prove myself because of shit like this; I don't care if I'm an outlier, or an anecdote, or an exception to the rule (which might be true regardless of race), I'm a human being. Studies like this and Watson's comment (there goes all my respect for one of my scientific heroes) are only making it more difficult for me just to be myself without suspicion of being "helped along" or given affirmative action. I know, I know, I should GMOFB, but I needed to get this out of my system.

With regards to the transracial adoption study mentioned above, adoptive babies often do not receive proper prenatal care, which can have a huge effect on brain development. I am curious if they controlled for this.
posted by mayfly wake at 4:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [23 favorites]


BlackLeotardFront: Mitrovarr, I think the dozen kids part was separate from the other study.

Yes, and that was the part of the study I believe is unsupportable based on sample size. The rest of it, I believe, cannot be used to support a conclusion on genetic factors with regard to intelligence, because of confounding factors relating to culture, familial bonding, racism, and a dozen other factors.

Like I said, there's nothing to suggest we should remove either of our options from the list of possible explanations.

I will agree that there isn't. However, is there any point to making a list of possible explanations, when the data that will allow you to pick between them is forever out of reach? I suspect that it is impossible to collect data that will allow an accurate conclusion on this issue, without conducting studies that would be both unethical and impractical.

Since we cannot collect definitive data, and unethical individuals use non-definitive data to push racist agendas, I suggest that the field is simply not pursued until a reliable methodology that will allow a definitive answer is figured out.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:07 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


mayfly wake: With regards to the transracial adoption study mentioned above, adoptive babies often do not receive proper prenatal care, which can have a huge effect on brain development. I am curious if they controlled for this.

Very true. Scientists are only now beginning to realize the importance that intrauterine environment has upon development. This is another confounding factor that proves how difficult and futile this issue would be to study with any accuracy.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:11 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This post, the premises behind it, and some of the comments within are making me physically ill. I am on the verge of tears.

If these results represent reality, then I'm supposedly on the short end of the IQ stick as well. But that doesn't blind me to the idea that the truth doesn't hurt sometimes.

I would also re-iterate that averages do not apply to the individual.
posted by jsonic at 4:14 PM on November 18, 2007


If these results represent reality, then I'm supposedly on the short end of the IQ stick as well. But that doesn't blind me to the idea that the truth doesn't hurt sometimes.

I would also re-iterate that averages do not apply to the individual.


I acknowledged that I may be an outlier, and I probably should not have brought my emotions into the comment. I am just stating that the effect that ideas like this have on the way that I am treated on a day to day basis in a scientific/academic environment may be different than that of my white colleagues.

(just whining, really ;))
posted by mayfly wake at 4:20 PM on November 18, 2007


RE: Brain size.

From the linked article:
"A man with an unusually tiny brain manages to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, which was caused by a fluid build-up in his skull."

“It is hard for me [to say] exactly the percentage of reduction of the brain, since we did not use software to measure its volume. But visually, it is more than a 50% to 75% reduction,” says Lionel Feuillet, a neurologist at the Mediterranean University in Marseille, France.
posted by Freen at 4:21 PM on November 18, 2007


Metafilter: Constantly complaining about posts of a racial nature, then posting 260+ to every goddamn one!
posted by lattiboy at 4:22 PM on November 18, 2007


Mayfly, I am sorry to have angered you with my comments (for I am almost certainly among those who did) but I stand by what I have said, and indeed by what Watson said. The predictive ability of IQ tests is indeed weak, in my opinion. There are also many confounding factors such as environment, nutrition, parenting and so on, as Mitrovarr and others have mentioned, that have a genuine and verifiable effect on performance and are valuable predictors.

However, these two points - shortly, the fact that humans can be divided into several large, genetically distinct groups ("races" for the purpose of my argument) and the fact that genetic differences continue to arise in non-superficial systems - are sufficient to me as a scientific person (I also studied neuroscience) to leave the question open of whether some cognitive abilities and general intelligence (if we could nail it down, which we haven't) could be among those systems in which differences are to be found.

That's all I've been trying to say, and anything more has been, I feel, in the imagination of the ones on the other side of the debate.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:22 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd love to meet a biologist who spends time with "race" as a meaningful concept in any animal.
posted by mediareport at 3:26 PM on November 18

You see the term used quite often in botany. For example, A rapid method for distinguishing the tulip and daffodil races of Ditylenchus dipsaci (Kuehn).
posted by cousincozen at 4:24 PM on November 18, 2007


Uh yeah, I think everyone else covered it, but the problem with "stating facts" is that, in fact, a lot of times these facts are wrong. Conservatives who say we need "confront the facts" about race and IQ are the same ones who say we need to "confront the facts" about global warming. They're basically full of lies.

I think those stats on race and IQ are a few decades old at least. And they don't control for education. In fact, the statistics used in The Bell Curve actually showed that Northern Blacks were smarter then Whites from the south. I believe they were from a U.S. Military intake test administered in the Vietnam era.

But racists love to run around and spout those figures, completely devoid of context.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on November 18, 2007


BlackLeotardFront, I also concede that there may be differences, "neurodiversity" if you will. My point was more about the social and political results of research like this; things like hiring practices and interpersonal interactions in the workplace.
posted by mayfly wake at 4:27 PM on November 18, 2007


I honestly didn't expect this reaction to the post.

Must not be to bright, then.
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on November 18, 2007


In the end, the controversy surrounding this issue is based on the faulty idea that we live in a meritocracy (ie. the smarter you are, the more rewarded you will be). Regardless of one's racial background, survival in this world is less about being rewarded, and more about taking what you need. Anyone who says differently is simply trying to control you.
posted by jsonic at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, maybe I'm missing something, but if your concerns about prenatal care did affect the study, wouldn't the study then just imply that the B-B group had worse prenatal care in general? I guess that's a whole other thing entirely.

Delmoi, I sympathize with your position, but the things I cited are pretty recent and pretty straightforward. They just raise the question, and I don't see why we don't try to answer it. I'm not talking The Bell Curve stats here.

And mayfly, the social and political results are... difficult to predict, though like you I would not be optimistic about them. Still, I think that it is better to know than not to know, and I think it would be foolish to suppress scientific fact (once again, IF it were to be proven one way or the other) because of potential social backlash. If we adhered to that principle, we'd still be in the dark ages.

Also, good point there jsonic.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:37 PM on November 18, 2007


mayfly wake - It saddens me that this discussion has made you sick. It's true that these questions are being raised in a world where racism and prejudice are very real and still perniciously affect people.

As for the question of adoption lowering IQs, the wikipedia page for the study actually includes a control not listed in that article that shows that their control, non-adopted white children had higer IQs than *any* of the adopted children. So, there's no question that the fact of adoption has some kind of effect.

Additionally the wikipedia article notes:
As Scarr & Weinberg (1976) note, transracial adoption studies only control for family environment, not social environment. For example, children who are socially identified as Black may still be subject to racial discrimination despite being raised by White parents.
posted by MythMaker at 4:38 PM on November 18, 2007


And now we're quoting Wikipedia. Heh. This thread could cause brain damage if we're not careful.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:44 PM on November 18, 2007


Cytherea, did you read the article, and not just look at the pictures? Care to talk about any of the content?

No really, no. I'm not going to have a serious discussion of whether black people are genetically inferior.

And did you read the clarification, yes, the clarification, in which Watson uses his son as an example in which genetics act contrarily to one's wishes?

Yes. If you read it closely, you'll find that he's using his handicapped son as a way to elicit sympathy and excuse his racism.

Your comments smack of dogmatic thinking and everything that is wrong with this thread: not even considering the ideas put forth, which aren't even very controversial when you look at the data(try it!).

That text smacks of racism and bad science. How do they define race? Let's quote them:
Human races, like dog 'breeds', are defined in the biological context by shared ancestry, not by single appearance traits. With ancestry you can predict many genes and many traits, but with single genes or single traits, you can not predict many other genes or traits. Which is why you can still easily identify the ancestry of the depigmented individuals in the above picture. Population ancestry predicts the sum patterns of one's genotype and phenotypical traits (e.g. general racial appearance) while any single variable - in this case, skin color - does not.
"Dog 'breeds'"--I'm sorry, but aside from the bad science in that paragraph, you just do not go and compare human races (ahem 'ancestry') to dog breeds in the context of discussing the inferiority of people of african ancestry. That textual tell, right there, should be more than enough to put you on the cluetrain about the motivation of the author.

And the meat of the paragraph: "Population ancestry predicts the sum patterns of one's genotype and phenotypical traits" is nonsense racist blather. There is more genetic diversity in any two africans than between any other two non african people on the planet. And there is more genetic diversity between any two bushmen than any two other people in the rest of africa or the planet. Far, far more than a white american and a black american who almost assuredly were recently mixed.

I think it's also important to notice that of all the traits that we could possibly talking about, and all the races we could possibly be talking about, we're talking about the intellectual inferiority of people of african descent. It's not an accident that's what Watson blathered about, and it's not an accident that this article is almost entirely focused on that---with glee, I might add. You do not pepper you paper, when talking about this particular subject, liberally with exclamation points. (!)

Do you have anything to say about the actual content?

A cherry-picked collection of data to bolster a racist screed trying wrap itself in the veneer of "science"? No.

Or are you content to simply call everyone involved a racist?

Oh, not everyone. no.
posted by cytherea at 4:45 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


Famously, Custer took the Amerindian IQ test.
posted by ronin21 at 4:57 PM on November 18, 2007


However, these two points - shortly, the fact that humans can be divided into several large, genetically distinct groups ("races" for the purpose of my argument)

They also look different!

and the fact that genetic differences continue to arise in non-superficial systems - are sufficient to me as a scientific person (I also studied neuroscience) to leave the question open of whether some cognitive abilities and general intelligence (if we could nail it down, which we haven't) could be among those systems in which differences are to be found.

Well, there must be something else to your argument too. It's possible that that blond hair correlates with higher levels of Serotonin in the brain, or that bigger feet (and the genes that control for them) might correlate with a 1% increase in a certain type of cancer. But for some reason there are a ton of people out there who feel like it's super-important to discuss this particular issue, not just in the scientific community, but also by people who don't really know too much about science, like William Saletan who writes all kinds of ridiculous "science" work for Slate that ends up posted here.

So, since you're one of those people, let me ask you, why is this particular correlation so important to you?
I'd love to meet a biologist who spends time with "race" as a meaningful concept in any animal.
posted by mediareport at 3:26 PM on November 18

You see the term used quite often in botany. For example, A rapid method for distinguishing the tulip and daffodil races of Ditylenchus dipsaci (Kuehn).
(Yeah. Tulips and Daffodils are not animals)
posted by delmoi at 4:58 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu - as long as we're quoting wikipedia (which was because it had a clear article about the study in question, and is pretty well footnoted on this one), they actually have a whole "Race and Intelligence Controversy" category, which includes this map that shows average IQs around the world. Apparently, Australia has some of the lowest average IQ people on the planet, and China has the highest. Who knew?
posted by MythMaker at 4:58 PM on November 18, 2007


Fortunately, cytherea, that's not the discussion - it's your interpretation of the discussion. I have stated what the discussion is, here.

Your disputation of the article I linked based on the writer's personal choice of words notwithstanding, feel free to take issue with the actual content, which you have said you did not read:

for example, how do they define race, you ask? Oh, I already quoted them and referred you to the quote. Let me put it here so there is no mistake.

In one of the most extensive of these studies to date, considering 1,056 individuals from 52 human populations, with each individual genotyped for 377 autosomal microsatellite markers, we found that individuals could be partitioned into six main genetic clusters, five of which corresponded to Africa, Europe and the part of Asia south and west of the Himalayas, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas

What do you think of their motivations? Are there any cluetrains for us to follow?

And as for your refutation of "the meat" - what makes you think that genetic variation within a population and genetic variation between populations are the same thing? There are meaningful differences between population groups, just as there are meaningful differences within them. It is not for us to say what traits can be affected by natural selection.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:59 PM on November 18, 2007


BlackLeotardFront: However, these two points - shortly, the fact that humans can be divided into several large, genetically distinct groups ("races" for the purpose of my argument) and the fact that genetic differences continue to arise in non-superficial systems - are sufficient to me as a scientific person (I also studied neuroscience) to leave the question open of whether some cognitive abilities and general intelligence (if we could nail it down, which we haven't) could be among those systems in which differences are to be found.

your points are meaningless for the purposes of this debate because "races" which are the topic of this argument, are not large, genetically distinct groups. again, just to hold your hand, we're saying that "race" (for the purposes of your argument), or redheads, or people with bad breath, or alto-tenors, these may be groupings that folks can conjure up and define on the basis of genetics, but they certainly wont correspond to a large, distinct, well-clustered group.

this leaves one to wonder if you will ever get the memo? and if you do, will you bother to read it? because you apparently didnt bother to read the article you KEEP citing as evidence/justification for "racial" clustering? the authors are explicit about offering no support for the biological notion of "race". i'm not going to blame you for not understanding the math/statistics involved in clustering (k-means) but if you claim "scientific" or even basic academic training you should know better than to cite a citation (take a quote out of context) without reading the damn article.

BlackLeotardFront: That's all I've been trying to say, and anything more has been, I feel, in the imagination of the ones on the other side of the debate.

you should be aware that when you dive into a debate people may assume you have (1) something substantial to contribute and an (2) opinion on the matter.
posted by mano at 4:59 PM on November 18, 2007


Someone help me out here. Is it racist of me to think that for certain athletic skills blacks are genetically predisposed to excel, on average, above other races? Or should we sue the NFL and NBA for their disproportionate hiring?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:02 PM on November 18, 2007


You know what, I'm going to bow out of this whole discussion. I think it is just too personal for so many people, and arguably too destructive (because racism is very real) to try to answer these questions in this forum.

As for me, whatever the genetics, I believe we're all human beings and deserve to all be treated equally with dignity, equality and respect.

Good luck to you all.
posted by MythMaker at 5:07 PM on November 18, 2007


Mano -

I don't see how the article is meaningless. That people are largely separable into 6 large, genetically and geographically distinct groups seems like a pretty powerful concept to me. Of course, the groups are part of a continuum, as I have noted, and the mixture of these large groups at the borders of the geographic locations is accounted for.

Why don't you tell me what races are, since you will not accept my definition of them, for purposes of use in my own argument? I am talking about large, genetically and geographically distinct groups, often indicated by superficial features but not limited to them. These are the groups which can have substantial differences between them due to non-identical conditions lasting for 50,000 years. As I have said, there are differences within the groups and differences between the groups. Why should it be impossible that cognitive abilities and general intelligence however measured would not be affected like any other system, and have developed slightly differently like, say, digestive capabilities or sinus structure? Tell me already!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:13 PM on November 18, 2007


Thank you, mythmaker. I agree.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:14 PM on November 18, 2007


Favouriting cytherea mulitple times.

And I'm curious how many people who think that "for certain athletic skills blacks are genetically predisposed to excel, on average, above other races" have actually lived as a member of a minority group?

You know, have you ever lived in an environment where you stick out because of how you look, and where a majority of people have preconceptions on your behaviour based on your skin colour, your hair colour, your eye colour, how long your nose is?

I have. And for that very reason a refute the entire concept of race. It is bullshit.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:14 PM on November 18, 2007


Is it racist of me to think that for certain athletic skills blacks are genetically predisposed to excel, on average, above other races?

Basically, yes.

Or should we sue the NFL and NBA for their disproportionate hiring?

Ha ha, you're funny. You know, once upon a time basketball was a Jewish-dominated sport. I guess Jews are genetically predisposed to excel at it.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"(Psst! This means IQ is real, and it matters. As in it has real world effects.)"

THAT IS NOT WHAT THAT MEANS. It means that IQ as measured correlates with GDP in Africa, not that IQ CAUSED the changes.

"Regardless of one's racial background, survival in this world is less about being rewarded, and more about taking what you need. Anyone who says differently is simply trying to control you."

Oh, peddle your bullshit elsewhere. It doesn't surprise me to see someone so enamored of 19th century racist anatomy theories tacitly endorsing the Survival of the Fittest mantra.
posted by klangklangston at 5:15 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pater, you're blowing it for those of us who are trying to take a serious position here. Of course, I'm the only one still at it..
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:19 PM on November 18, 2007


Still, I think that it is better to know than not to know, and I think it would be foolish to suppress scientific fact (once again, IF it were to be proven one way or the other) because of potential social backlash. If we adhered to that principle, we'd still be in the dark ages.

Although I do not think that "research for research's sake" is necessarily a bad thing, I would wonder about the motivations behind a search for cognitive differences among races. On a minute, single-experiment basis, I believe that well-executed and controlled science has the potential to be the noble, beautiful, objective search for truth that it is often painted to be. The bias comes before and after the lab or fieldwork....what is the motivation for the study? who is funding the study? why are they funding it? how will the results be used? how will the news media inevitably pervert it as it presents it to the public? scientists do not exist in a vacuum, nor are they interchangeable automatons. When "soft" sciences like the social sciences get involved, the picture becomes even more complicated. Yes, we owe a ton of wonderful things to science since the dark ages, but there has also been a negative legacy, from pollution and global warming to the e-word that everyone is dancing around in this thread...eugenics.
posted by mayfly wake at 5:22 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


There is no scientific evidence for race, really.
10. The concept of "race" is virtually meaningless scientifically.

Be careful about responding to one sweeping generalization with another, because then someone points out something like sickle-cell anemia and Tay-Sachs, or any of a zillion other genetic disorders, to show that race does indeed mean something scientifically.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:24 PM on November 18, 2007


Oh, peddle your bullshit elsewhere. It doesn't surprise me to see someone so enamored of 19th century racist anatomy theories tacitly endorsing the Survival of the Fittest mantra.

Way to purposefully misinterpret anything that doesn't fit your world-view.

Once again, if this data actually represents reality, then this will be the 'evolution' upon which us left leaning folks thresh ourselves.
posted by jsonic at 5:25 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


BlackLeotardFront:

HAVE YOU READ THE DAMN ARTICLE?
YES OR NO?

Or are you just citing ONE QUOTE from an abstract that was cherry picked for some cretins racist blog post in defence of james watson.

The article you cite is about GEOGRAPHY, not race. When you write stuff like this it makes it clear that you really don't understand the difference:

I am talking about large, genetically and geographically distinct groups, often indicated by superficial features but not limited to them. These are the groups which can have substantial differences between them due to non-identical conditions lasting for 50,000 years.

IF you read any of these articles you cite, youd see that the authors appreciate the effects of human migration. They appreciate that what they are saying is about geographic proximity and not racial groupings of people. But you dont. Because you dont read the damn articles. So that leaves one wondering - what are you basing your ideas on?

If you want to know what race is, it is a social construct. And no, seeing how hard it is to explain to you what race is not, i dont feel like launching into a treatise on what it is. Its primarily not a genetic thing, and that was the point of this discussion.

...But I would encourage you to do some reading on what race is, and plenty of smart people have better things than I to say on the topic. Pick up a book.
posted by mano at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2007


Once again, if this data actually represents reality, then this will be the 'evolution' upon which us left leaning folks thresh ourselves.

how so? are you proposing that school students be taught that their black classmates are less intelligent, on average, then their white classmates?

just how is this supposed to become a major controversy unless some people, like you, are going to use it to axe-grind?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2007


mediareport, your concerns are addressed above, and in here.

Sorry, but no they're not. I read the "RACE DOES NOT EXIST" section and aside from a passing crack about "dog breeds" there was nothing there (or in your comment above) providing an example of a situation where non-human biologists have found "race" to be a useful category.

Again, I am left to wonder what's so amazingly special about homo sapiens that it requires a unique category of description that is nowhere to be found in analyses of other organisms.
posted by mediareport at 5:35 PM on November 18, 2007


non-human biologists

And y'all know what I mean by that, so leave me alone. :)
posted by mediareport at 5:36 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


how so?

Evolution is a fact. It is a rock upon which fundamentalist right-wingers bash themselves. Those who are able to overcome their incorrect world-view grow to accept reality.

In the same way, if this info is correct, then left-wing folks will bash themselves upon it and separate themselves into those who accept reality, and those who don't.

As to what should we do about it? As I've mentioned numerous times, averages say nothing of the individual. Therefore basing any kind of educational program on race would be incorrect. Even a basic understanding of statistics shows this.
posted by jsonic at 5:37 PM on November 18, 2007


In one of the most extensive of these studies to date, considering 1,056 individuals from 52 human populations, with each individual genotyped for 377 autosomal microsatellite markers, we found that individuals could be partitioned into six main genetic clusters, five of which corresponded to Africa, Europe and the part of Asia south and west of the Himalayas, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas

What do you think of their motivations? Are there any cluetrains for us to follow?


Don't play dumb. That study had nothing to do with intelligence. I'm not talking about clursters or whatever, I'm talking about your second point

and the fact that genetic differences continue to arise in non-superficial systems - are sufficient to me as a scientific person (I also studied neuroscience) to leave the question open of whether some cognitive abilities and general intelligence (if we could nail it down, which we haven't) could be among those systems in which differences are to be found.

In other words the relationship between "race" and intelligence, which you seem to think is such an important issue.

Think about all the different ways you can measure people. Hight, weight, gender, hair color, hundreds of thousands of genes, blood factors, social backgrounds, psychological traits, favorite website. There are probably millions of tests you can do "measure" someone. If the number of possible measures is N, then the number of simple correlations you can measure is N2. Some are more interesting the others. For example the relationship between foot width and blood type: Not very interesting.

BlackLeotardFront: My question to you is, out of the trillions of possible relationships, why is this one so important to you?

(And to your first point, you're going far, far beyond what the authors of the paper you cited claimed when you said the clusters could represent "races", but that is actually beside the point)
posted by delmoi at 5:38 PM on November 18, 2007


are you proposing that school students be taught that their black classmates are less intelligent, on average, then their white classmates?

I think what needs to be taught is that there is no black, and there is no white.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on November 18, 2007


Mano - yes, I read the fucking article, okay? Now let me ask you: have you read anything I've written?

Understand this! I am not talking about the goddamn social construct of race! I am talking about something different! I'm not talking about the socio-economopoliticalogical concept - I'm talking about exactly what I said I was talking about - groups of people who have different sets of genes because of prolonged geographic separation! Separation that has resulted in measurable differences in non-trivial biological functions! I'm not talking about cultural differences, I'm talking about genetically distinct populations! There is another "race," and it is that of which you speak. But I am NOT talking about that race. I was using the word "race" as a convenient near-enough word for the concept I AM talking about.

My position is not that crazy! And don't you think it's just a little over-the-top to describe the GNXP post as a cretin's racist rantings, when the bulk of it is cited journal articles? Are they all cretins too? Or are they geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists conducting research with results that support Watson's position?

I'm not saying your "race" doesn't exist! It does, and it's important! As I have said before, it's almost certainly way more important than the geographical race I'm talking about. But that doesn't mean that geographical race and its effects don't exist!

And delmoi, the reason this relationship is "important" to me is because it's the only one that is under fire. Because it's the one being discussed! Like watson said, there is no reason to think it would not be affected just like any other biological system. So why do people think so? It's just another function - and it should be affected just like any other function.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:47 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm just gonna make one point and then continue lurking in the thread. The researchers who did the Minnesota Transadoption study were of two minds about the results. One suggested that a environmental cause was in evidence, the other two though it was clear heredity. I think if you suggest the cause is heredity you have to ask the question, Is the parenting the same in raising a young white child and a young black child? Are the needs of that child the same? Are those academic experiences in a white suburb different?

And Jsonic I feel you, you not talking about me, just my family, my children my ancestors an all the people who look like me as belonging to an inferior subgroup of humanity that is less able to compete. I'll try not to take it personally. After all its pretty clear you examining the evidence critically and with an open mind.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:51 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here is a good link detailing the flaws in Rushton's work and the Minnesota Twin Studies: Greg Laden on Watson

And, with the hope of Godwining the thread to hell, here are the lyrics to "Who Makes the Nazis?" by The Fall:

Who makes the Nazis?
Who makes the Nazis?
I'll tell ya who makes the Nazis
All the Os
White-o's
Burnt O
29 year old
[Arse-licking h.... old]
Who makes the Nazis?
Ya mind tellin' me?!
Who makes the Nazis?
Balding smug faggots
Intellectual half-wits
All the Os
Who makes the Nazis?
The Nazis are long horn
Long horn breed
Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horns--Long horn breed
Who makes the Nazis?
[Remember when I used to follow you home from school babe?
Before I got picked up for paedophelia]
Who makes the Nazis?
Motels like three split-level mirages
Who makes the Nazis?
Buffalo lips on toast, smiling
Who makes the Nazis?
I put a finger on the weird.
This was real Irish know.
Joe was then good as gold
And told of the rapists in the Spa Motel.
The real mold.
Who makes the Nazis?
Benny's cob-web eyes!
Who makes the Nazis?
[Bad bias TV]
[BBC,] George Orwell, Burmese Days
Who Makes the Nazis?
Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horns--Long horn breed
Who makes the Nazis?
[Black burnt flesh
Hark hark
Crack unit species
Who makes the Nazis?
(All the O's cross country)
Who makes the Nazis?
.. Shag-artists]
Who makes the Nazis?
You mind tellin me?
Here's a word from Bobby
[If you're out of] love, just give them real soap
Hates not your enemy, love's your enemy
Murder all bush monkeys
[Long horn, Long horn breed]
Who makes the Nazis?
Who makes the Nazis?
All the O's
Real Irish know, Joe.
Who makes the Nazis?
Intellectual half-wits
Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horn--Long horn breed
Long horn--Long horn breed
Who makes the Nazis?
posted by nasreddin at 5:53 PM on November 18, 2007


In the same way, if this info is correct, then left-wing folks will bash themselves upon it and separate themselves into those who accept reality, and those who don't.

you have a real bad habit of ducking the question - WHY would this be such a major issue like evolution in schools and who will make it be one?

will i see the equivalent of darwin fishes and jesus fishes eating darwin fishes on people's back bumpers? (to say nothing of the flying spaghetti monster)

who would make this such a burning issue? and how can they be sure that they won't just be ignored as making a point that's basically useless to anyone but white chauvinists?

(at least, you've yet to demonstrate any other use for this information, have you?)
posted by pyramid termite at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2007


And Jsonic I feel you, you not talking about me, just my family, my children my ancestors an all the people who look like me as belonging to an inferior subgroup of humanity that is less able to compete

Your comment is perfect example of why discussing race is almost impossible in our current society. Maybe we'll have to wait a few generations before the nasty effects of institutionalized racism are no longer felt as fervently.

YOU are the one bringing the concept of inferior/superior to this discussion. All I'm looking for is whether these proposed scientific facts mesh with reality or not.

If you have anything besides emotional arguments to bring to the table, please do so. Otherwise FUCK OFF with your histrionics.
posted by jsonic at 5:59 PM on November 18, 2007


"If you want to know what race is, it is a social construct."

If race is a social construct, what accounts for the ability of forensic scientists to accurately identify the race of individuals by analyzing DNA evidence?
posted by cousincozen at 6:01 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Otherwise FUCK OFF with your histrionics.

You might want to rethink your communication strategy. EB just got sent to the cornfield for talking like that.

What a pathetic thread this is. Why won't the admins put it out of its misery?
posted by languagehat at 6:02 PM on November 18, 2007


Pyramid, here were my reasons for looking into it, if you missed them.

And having time to reflect on delmoi's question (why focus on intelligence, BLF?), allow me to ask you guys the same. My point is that intelligence should not be considered special. Like I said, it's just another function. Studies show that there are differences between genetically distinct geographical groups (better, mano? instead of "races") in the areas of non-trivial functions like what people can and cannot digest, predispositions for diseases, and so on, so why should there be an exception for something like intelligence or things related?

Of course, we have no really good way of measuring intelligence. And there are much more important factors at play as well! But those are not good reasons to discount group genetics as a factor completely.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:03 PM on November 18, 2007


Fortunately, cytherea, that's not the discussion - it's your interpretation of the discussion. I have stated what the discussion is, here.

So now you're tell me what I can and cannot discuss? I'm not allowed to mention how there is evidence of racism present in the text?

Your disputation of the article I linked based on the writer's personal choice of words notwithstanding, feel free to take issue with the actual content, which you have said you did not read:

I did not say I did not read it. Please read a bit more closely. I said I'm not going to discuss the content. The text itself leaves no doubt in my mind about the purpose of the document. Why would I discuss content that's been cherry picked to bolster a foregone, racist conclusion? I've had my fill of this dreck from the pseudo science put out by oil companies and creation scientists.

for example, how do they define race, you ask? Oh, I already quoted them and referred you to the quote. Let me put it here so there is no mistake.
In one of the most extensive of these studies to date, considering 1,056 individuals from 52 human populations, with each individual genotyped for 377 autosomal microsatellite markers, we found that individuals could be partitioned into six main genetic clusters, five of which corresponded to Africa, Europe and the part of Asia south and west of the Himalayas, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas


That? Race? That says that there are exist some genes that are shared among six groups of genetically disparate peoples. Which is exactly what you'd expect. You'd sort of expect the peoples of East Asia to have a marker for straight black hair, and for an eye fold.

We only separated 50,000 years ago. We were all hunter gatherers. Agriculture wasn't invented until 10,000 years ago. 10,000 years just isn't enough time to evolve differences in intelligence. Love and Brains are not the same kind of thing as lactose intolerance.

What do you think of their motivations?

There's nothing controversial in their methods or conclusions--which do not establish race in any way shape or form. You'll notice that they did not mention Africans. That's because, as has been said many times, the genetic differences described there--between any two non-Africans, is miniscule compared to the genetic diversity between any two Africans.

Are there any cluetrains for us to follow?

Well, there's this one. That's not how the author of the document defines race. As I mentioned, he defines race by analogy with breeding dogs. And I think that document was written with racist intent.

And as for your refutation of "the meat" - what makes you think that genetic variation within a population and genetic variation between populations are the same thing? There are meaningful differences between population groups, just as there are meaningful differences within them. It is not for us to say what traits can be affected by natural selection


That's so cute! But hair color and lactose intolerance are just not in the same complexity ball park as human intelligence. We're not talking about one or two genes here, we're talking about thousands and thousands of genes giving rise to a phenotype so complex we can barely define it and which is overwhelmingly nurture sensitive. It just doesn't make sense statistically or genetically giving how recent we parted ways.

I'd still like to know, why, of all the possible traits, and all the possible people, we're talking about the supposed genetic intellectual inferiority of black people.
posted by cytherea at 6:05 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


(at least, you've yet to demonstrate any other use for this information, have you?)

You're still stuck on this canard? It's as simple as this: Science points towards what is. In almost all cases, left leaning folk, like me, are die-hard supporters of science. In this case, however, it appears that science is pointing toward a conclusion that fucks with left-leaning world views. I find it sad to see that some are so easily dissuaded from a scientific world view when it conflicts with their own.

This leads me to see that people aren't actually supporters of science. Rather, the support science only when it confirms their existing beliefs.
posted by jsonic at 6:06 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


languagehat, think of this thread as a controlled burn.

I think in order for the Metafilter forest to flourish, this kind of flamewar has to be allowed to do its thing for a while so we all get good and angry and get it done with at a stroke.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:06 PM on November 18, 2007


"EB just got sent to the cornfield for talking like that."

Cornfield. Twilight Zone reference. Cool! And appropriate, too.
posted by cousincozen at 6:08 PM on November 18, 2007


I would think that these results could be wrong as for a while, african americans were getting inferior education (Jim Crow) to others.
Just food for thought (but this could have already been commented but, I don't want to read all 300 comments)
posted by ooklala at 6:10 PM on November 18, 2007


Two very technical but very awesome links:

IQ heritability is largely mythical

The general intelligence factor is a mythical statistical artifact


Please don't refer to the Brave New World technicians at GNXP without having read these links first.
posted by nasreddin at 6:13 PM on November 18, 2007


Actually, cytherea, I think intelligence is an emergent phenomenon, resulting from the interaction of many simple things. And imagine what a small difference to, say, a sodium channel could do - increase action potential speed, speed up long term potentiation... or on the other hand, think of what a small difference in blood vessel width could do, if one group were to require more blood flow in their limbs to maintain temperature homeostasis, resulting in perhaps a 5% decrease in blood flow to the brain. These are small changes physiologically, but over time not only could they grow to be more significant, but a small difference at birth snowballs to a great difference 30 years down the line, as the minor benefit one might have from slightly better retention of motor skills rolls up into a large disparity between one and another without that benefit.

The other thing I quoted:

In a study of East Asians, Europeans and Africans, Dr. Pritchard and his colleagues found 700 regions of the genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection in recent times. In East Asians, the average date of these selection events is 6,600 years ago.

Many of the reshaped genes are involved in taste, smell or digestion
...

suggests that major changes can occur in less than 10,000 years, and before that the author says that non-superficial traits do not necessarily progress any slower than superficial traits (though there is no citation and I am not sure about that, it could go one way or the other.)

Nasreddin, I'll check out those links later, I'm off to see a movie.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:16 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


In the same way, if this info is correct, then left-wing folks will bash themselves upon it and separate themselves into those who accept reality, and those who don't.

It's sad that you're serious about this. I mean anyone can say anything and throw in a bunch of citations. All they have to do is either cherry pick their facts or just misrepresent what the original source says.

Ann Coulter's books have tons of footnotes and they almost always misrepresent their referent.

Are they all cretins too? Or are they geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists conducting research with results that support Watson's position?

They are probably neither. Rather, they are probably people whose work has been misrepresented by racist cretins. That's fairly simple.

Citing someone does not transfer their authority to you.

And delmoi, the reason this relationship is "important" to me is because it's the only one that is under fire. Because it's the one being discussed! Like watson said, there is no reason to think it would not be affected just like any other biological system.

What Watson said (among other things) was that anyone who had ever employed African Americans would tell you they were stupid. You're defending that? He's obviously a complete racist.

The question is whether or not genes can affect intelligence; the question is whether the genes that do affect intelligence are genes that very among races. There are a lot of things in DNA that are non coding, meaning that even if there is a genetic difference between two groups those genes may have no effect at all. (You seem to have no concept at all of coding and non-coding DNA) The "markers" used in the study were probably non-coding, since they change much more quickly. One of the major differences between races isn't the genes themselves, but copy number variations.

The other problem, of course, is genetic diversity in Africa. As someone else said, there is more genetic diversity between two Africans then between any two non-Africans, so to call Africans a "race" Among many makes no sense. If you were going to honestly try to partition humanity by genetics you would split up African put all non-Africans into one group.

Again, there is a a lot about genetics that you really don't seem to understand, and for a "scientific person" to not even understand how research can be twisted for ideological reasons is quite sad. Global warming deniers, evolution deniers, etc, all type reams of garbage laced with citations; it really means nothing at all.

The fact that you think using the word "race" is a good idea when talking about geographic genetic diversity is breathtakingly idiotic, at least if you actually want anyone to take you seriously. I mean, that would be like using the word "Jew" to describe people who fit negative Jewish stereotypes.
posted by delmoi at 6:17 PM on November 18, 2007


I think in order for the Metafilter forest to flourish, this kind of flamewar has to be allowed to do its thing for a while so we all get good and angry and get it done with at a stroke.

What would you presume to know about the "MetaFilter forest"?
posted by KokuRyu at 6:19 PM on November 18, 2007


Can I just say that I am not and never have been talking about the "genetic intellectual inferiority of black people"? I'm saying that cognitive functions or intelligence if we could measure it, like other biological functions simple and complex, would be subject to the same evolutionary pressures as digestion and nose shape.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:21 PM on November 18, 2007


Can I just say that I am not and never have been talking about the "genetic intellectual inferiority of black people"? I'm saying that cognitive functions or intelligence if we could measure it, like other biological functions simple and complex, would be subject to the same evolutionary pressures as digestion and nose shape.

HERETIC!!
posted by jsonic at 6:22 PM on November 18, 2007


I was using the word "race" as a convenient near-enough word for the concept I AM talking about.

there is no such thing as a "convenient near-enough word" - find the right word for the concept or be misunderstood

And don't you think it's just a little over-the-top to describe the GNXP post as a cretin's racist rantings, when the bulk of it is cited journal articles?

people with axes to grind selectively quote things and cherry pick data all the time - and that blog post looks like an example of that to me

to say the least, his insistence that intelligence as measured by IQ tests is equivalent to the skills of functioning in western civilization pretty much admits the idea that IQ tests ARE culturally biased

Ok, so Sternberg agrees that people of European and Asian descent do better on the analytical and general ability tests that reflect the skills vital for functioning in a first-world globalized economy, and therefore must be claiming that Watson is a racist ignoramus only for privileging these general abstract reasoning abilities with the designation of 'intelligence' over the 'oral storytelling intelligence' of Native-Americans, or the 'mosquito dodging intelligence' of sub-Saharan Africans! But if oral storytelling or mosquito dodging are not useful "intelligences" for lifting an individual or a nation out of 1 dollar a day poverty, then Watson can hardly be faulted for expressing concern about the kinds of intelligence not abundant in Africa.

absolutely, he is choosing a western centric definition of intelligence here - and what the hell is "mosquito dodging intelligence"? he uses quote marks around it - did sternberg use the phrase "mosquito dodging intelligence"? - i have a hard time believing that, and don't have access to the full article

it seems that according to jason malloy, africans develop "mosquito dodging intelligence" - and lacking the courage to own his own racist phrases, he puts quote marks around it to fool readers into thinking that someone else said it

that's intellectually dishonest and bigoted - and you're using it as a reference

why?

My point is that intelligence should not be considered special.

then why are we talking about it so much? - and your point that we should not choose to remain in ignorance over such a question ... well, should we choose to remain in ignorance over the question of whether jews really are more greedy than other people? whether an irishman's more likely to be a drunk?

isn't it possible in your philosophy of rational inquiry that there are questions that aren't worth asking? - why should we take the old canards of racists and investigate them as hypotheses when there are so many more useful ones to investigate? - to prove them wrong? - well, i should think the existence of many outstanding people would be enough evidence to prove that one can't predict intelligence by something as simple as the social construct we call race - (and no, the concept of "average intelligence" among a "race" is as useful as it would be possible to raise 1.6
children)

this is a dead end of inquiry - what other reasons other than to prove old outdated racial beliefs do you have for pursuing this?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:23 PM on November 18, 2007


I think in order for the Metafilter forest to flourish, this kind of flamewar has to be allowed to do its thing for a while so we all get good and angry and get it done with at a stroke.

The theory of Catharsis has been disproved in psychology. In fact, the opposite is true, dwelling negative emotions cause those emotions to last longer and become more powerful.

God, you really do no nothing about science, do you?
posted by delmoi at 6:23 PM on November 18, 2007


Can I just say that I am not and never have been talking about the "genetic intellectual inferiority of black people"?

the title of this post - "race and intelligence"

if you're not talking about that, why are you here?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:24 PM on November 18, 2007


Please don't refer to the Brave New World technicians at GNXP without having read these links first.

Hundreds of comments ago, I (re)posted the GNXP link, not in approbation of all of its content, but because it seemed like an attempt at a more substantial/informed discussion of these issues than what was occurring here. However, I will certainly bookmark your links for later reading as a potential counterpoint.

I probably should have just listened to languagehat when he said that no good would come of continuing this discussion.

The hat, he is wise.
posted by Urban Hermit at 6:25 PM on November 18, 2007


if you're not talking about that, why are you here?

Wow. You're really reaching for straws now.
posted by jsonic at 6:26 PM on November 18, 2007


BlackLeotardFront I'm not qualified to address your objections to the fact that race has, for quite a long time now, been considered not to be a valid scientific concept. I'm neither a geneticist nor an anthropologist.

I'm not the one saying that race is an invalid concept, they are; I'm merely passing on what I've read in articles and books written for the layman. I presume that the people who are experts on the subject considered the questions you asked and arrived at answers that satisfied them that the conclusion that race is not a valid scientific concept was correct.

However, it isn't my field and I'm not qualified to debate the subject with you.
posted by sotonohito at 6:29 PM on November 18, 2007


Let's kill all the smart people.
posted by jonmc at 3:34 PM on November 18 [4 favorites +] [!]


Good bye Jon.
posted by caddis at 6:31 PM on November 18, 2007


You're still stuck on this canard?

it's not a canard - there's a reason why scientists look for things like new species of insects in the amazon and spend no time trying to find invisible pink unicorns - utility

It's as simple as this: Science points towards what is.

you can only answer the questions that you ask - if you ask the wrong questions, you won't get useful answers

In almost all cases, left leaning folk, like me, are die-hard supporters of science.

you sure don't talk like a left leaner

In this case, however, it appears that science is pointing toward a conclusion that fucks with left-leaning world views.

no, it's simply pointing toward a "conclusion" that at best, is ill-constructed and irrelevant to anything useful, and at worst probably belongs in a kkk pamphlet

This leads me to see that people aren't actually supporters of science.

you're treating science as an absolute that must be put before all else - it isn't

i could come up with a scientific inquiry into how long, on average, it would take me to cut a 4 year old's throat with a dull butter knife, but do you seriously think i should do that?

is it useful? is it ethical?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:32 PM on November 18, 2007


Okay, I never wanted to take part in a gang bang of my basic position, which, honestly, I don't think I even need citations or backup to support. I thought it was simple, and really it's not offensive at all.

This entire time, no one has given a reason to believe that cognitive and intellectual functions are immune to selection pressure.

I'm going to a movie, you guys figure it out.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:35 PM on November 18, 2007


This entire time, no one has given a reason to believe that cognitive and intellectual functions are immune to selection pressure.

that has nothing to do with the social construct called race and the association of "intelligence" with that

your backpedal is noted
posted by pyramid termite at 6:39 PM on November 18, 2007


The only thing you've that is remotely related to fact in the last bunch was about the Minnesota Transadoption study. Did you read the top part of my argument asking questions about the interpretation of the study that was presented or the part that basically labeled you as intellectually dishonest.

This whole argument is trying to separate ideas of race and intelligence from the culture and the history where they started. Its like asking who would win in a fight a mountain goat or a Giant squid.

How can we have an honest discussion without me telling you what I heard? But ignore that comment, it was self-indulgent, I will cede the field to you on htat matter we shall discuss words, facts and ideas and ignore their implications.


This entire time, no one has given a reason to believe that cognitive and intellectual functions are immune to selection pressure.

Ooh Ooh
Thats an easy one, humans are social animals the moment that a society is formed that doesn't depend personal characteristics in order to select for breeding i.e. situations with familial and monetary structures, selection pressure is eased if not eliminated. The monarchs 3rd son may be a halfwit but if you marry him he comes with a ducal estate.
posted by Rubbstone at 6:41 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


how the fuck was this not deleted?
posted by chunking express at 6:41 PM on November 18, 2007


Dr. Watson, meet Dr. Pinker.
posted by cogneuro at 6:43 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah, GNXP. I wish I could recall where it was, exactly, but in some other blog's comment section, I remember seeing the founders of GNXP arguing that while of course there were bad things about apartheid, South Africa would have been a lot better off if it had stayed in place. I wasn't able to find that again, but here's a post from them about South Africa, entitled "South Africa's Coming Collapse." And here's a quote from that post:

Those who argue that SA is not going to collapse rely upon facing an interlocutor who bows down and accepts the axiom of equality so as to remain polite. If you refuse to unilaterally disarm, the usual suspects will scream at you hysterically (scroll down), hoping to intimidate you into silence so that the biophobic taboo is not broken. But you just can't express the truth with polite lies. At some point, you have to say bluntly that the coming collapse is the predictable consequence of black rule.

But you know, they don't have any sort of agenda besides the pure and objective quest for scientific truth, and they certainly aren't racists, or anything. I'd totally trust any interpretation of data they offered. They're also big fans of Rushton, by the way.

On the debate as a whole, I don't really have anything else to say that nasreddin, cytherea, and mayfly wake haven't, but I thought that was worth pointing out.
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:43 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"...social construct called race...."
posted by pyramid termite at 6:39 PM on November 18

Once again, if race is a social construct, what accounts for the ability of forensic scientists to accurately identify the race of individuals by analyzing DNA evidence?
posted by cousincozen at 6:46 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"(Psst! This means IQ is real, and it matters. As in it has real world effects.)"

THAT IS NOT WHAT THAT MEANS. It means that IQ as measured correlates with GDP in Africa, not that IQ CAUSED the changes.


klangklangston,

To start with, I did not make the other statement you quoted. My post pointed to some assorted material claiming, 1) There is such a thing as IQ, 2) We can make useful distinctions by race and 3) There is a correlation between races and levels of IQ.

Now I have no idea what you are talking about when you say "that IQ CAUSED the changes". What changes are you talking about? I think you are trying to make some kind of argument about correlation not being evidence of causation, so that's what I'll respond to. IQ correlates quite strongly with a number of positive attributes. When we talk about higher than average IQ in the U.S. correlating with higher than average salaries, then an argument can be made that IQ hasn't been proven to exist. The tests could be reflecting cultural attributes. OK. So we look at a different country and there again the same correlation between IQ and income. Well, OK, the argument for culture loses force but let's keep looking. And then we see a strong correlation between a country's economic production and the average IQ. And this is even stronger in Sub-Saharan Africa than the West. Well, that kind of shoots the shit out of the whole notion of measuring 'culture'. IQ is measuring something that correlates strongly with the economic success (among other qualities) of individuals and countries world wide. There doesn't have to be any one intelligence that IQ measures. It might just be an average of some number of positively correlated qualities. But it does have predictive value beyond any notion of culture.

-----

cytherea,

"I'd still like to know, why, of all the possible traits, and all the possible people, we're talking about the supposed genetic intellectual inferiority of black people."

Because if these conclusions are correct, they have serious implications for foreign aid to Africa. But more than that, no one should have to defend their curiosity. Curiosity requires no defense. People wonder and they discuss. And I have seen no proof that the GNXP post is racist dreck. An analogy of races to dog breeds doesn't do it. All that he was illustrating there was an isolated population.
posted by BigSky at 6:48 PM on November 18, 2007


what accounts for the ability of forensic scientists to accurately identify the race of individuals by analyzing DNA evidence?

they're not identifying race, they're identifying physical attributes - skin color, eye color, etc etc, that society has constructed to signify race
posted by pyramid termite at 6:49 PM on November 18, 2007


If race is a social construct, what accounts for the ability of forensic scientists to accurately identify the race of individuals by analyzing DNA evidence?

How do they identify a social construct? Probably by reverse matching skin and hair color genes that are known to scientists. Yet there is no dictionary of reality that outlines what a separate race of people is, or should be. Traditionally it relied on skin color, which was very visible. Could blood type constitute a race? What about genes for disease or allergies? Genes are shared as they shift slightly by the mile all across the world. The odd part here is that IQ does not determine a race, or vice versa. People who advocate race need to define it clearly and link to the material, and stop using the word "race" in the definition of race itself.
posted by Brian B. at 6:52 PM on November 18, 2007


This entire time, no one has given a reason to believe that cognitive and intellectual functions are immune to selection pressure.

This entire time, no one has given a reason to believe that BlackLeotardFront does not fuck cats.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:52 PM on November 18, 2007


You've got to be joking. Physical attributes are the hallmarks of race. And physical attributes are genetically determined.
posted by cousincozen at 6:54 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu, what's a gaijin?
posted by cousincozen at 6:58 PM on November 18, 2007


IQ doesn't mean anything.

I completely agree. If someone with an IQ in the low 70's can be president, why shouldn't they be doctors and airline pilots too?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:01 PM on November 18, 2007


You've got to be joking. Physical attributes are the hallmarks of race.

no, they are the elements that are used to create the construct we call race

you are treating race as an objective reality - it is a SUBJECTIVE one - it is not physical, it is cultural
posted by pyramid termite at 7:02 PM on November 18, 2007


This thread is a living, breathing example of the thesis of the Slate article -- that this question would give "liberals" fits as they bent over backward in their attempts to deal with it one way or the other. "Proof" of evolution is a threat to the central underpinning of religion. "Proof" of genetic-based differences in intelligence that correspond to historical, social notions of "race" is a threat to the "all men created equal" worldview.

Fun thread.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:02 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Touche, PeterMcDermott. However, if he's flying the frickin' plane, I want the hell off!
posted by cousincozen at 7:04 PM on November 18, 2007


"Proof" of genetic-based differences in intelligence that correspond to historical, social notions of "race" is a threat to the "all men created equal" worldview.

tsk - you do know that thomas jefferson did not mean that all men were equal in ability, or intelligence, or any other attribute, but equal in the natural rights that they should enjoy in a free society, don't you?

if you're snarking at liberals as a conservative, you really ought to know a little more about your own political theory than to misunderstand what "all men created equal" means
posted by pyramid termite at 7:07 PM on November 18, 2007


" no, they are the elements that are used to create the construct we call race"
posted by pyramid termite at 7:02 PM on November 18

I'm recalling this from memory, but do you recall the serial rapist-killer in Louisiana some time ago, in the relatively recent past? The FBI's criminal profiler predicted that he'd be a white guy, since serial homicide is statistically a white thing. But there was DNA evidence left behind from one of the crime scene, which was subsequently analyzed. The results described an individual who was substantially of sub-Sahara African descent, with a significant amount of American Indian heritage, too. When the culprit was finally tracked down, he conformed exactly to the DNA description, to the extent that--and this is where I really don't recall how it came to light--the Amerindian heritage was either news to him, or it was something that his close friends were unaware of, but it was nonetheless corroborated to true.

Now, something that exacting and accurate is all the result of some pre-existing bias on someone's part? Something completely detached from reality? If that's your level of reasoning, there's nothing more to discuss.
posted by cousincozen at 7:19 PM on November 18, 2007


great! so does this mean if i marry my latina girlfriend and have a child, his/her IQ will be 192? SWEET!

we should be sending aid to Africa because there are a lot of starving people there. It doesn't matter how smart you are if you don't have anything to eat.

there's a huge debate going on about "The Phrenology Fallacy" in Neuroscience right now -- many neuroscientists are saying that fMRI scans, in and of themselves, are falling victim to the phrenology fallacy. if that's true, this whole argument is baseless... here you go:

http://rsl.stanford.edu/nis/Great_Debate_2005.html

i also love the idea that if a 1907 adult took a 2007 IQ test he/she would score very poorly on it. that doesn't tell me that we are getting smarter, all it tells me is that the world changes, which i already knew.
posted by teletype1 at 7:24 PM on November 18, 2007


If race is a social construct, what accounts for the ability of forensic scientists to accurately identify the race of individuals by analyzing DNA evidence?

It's not like scientists study DNA to find a "marker" for one race or another. They do a mathematical comparison of unknown DNA to DNA known to come from various geographic regions of the world. And then they make a prediction based on probabilities.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:28 PM on November 18, 2007


This thread is a living, breathing example of the thesis of the Slate article

The Slate article was written by William Saletan, who recently wrote the piece bemoaning the "rigging" of a study that he claimed made conservatives look stupid (because it claimed that conservatives were dogmatic and persistently close minded relative to liberals). "Rigging" was a clever legal way of putting it, since the study relied on a rigged keyboard. So much for his love of hard science when it relates to IQ. I have little doubt that this is his best shot at revenge on liberals.
posted by Brian B. at 7:28 PM on November 18, 2007


The results described an individual who was substantially of sub-Sahara African descent, with a significant amount of American Indian heritage, too.

ok, so ...

Now, something that exacting and accurate is all the result of some pre-existing bias on someone's part? Something completely detached from reality?

well, he went through life thinking he was "black", didn't he? and yet, that wasn't accurate

you've proved my point - his "blackness" was not an accurate description of his genetic make up - it was, in fact, a social construct
posted by pyramid termite at 7:28 PM on November 18, 2007


I wondered how long it would take cousincozen to get here.
posted by robcorr at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mano - yes, I read the fucking article, okay? Now let me ask you: have you read anything I've written?
...
I'm talking about exactly what I said I was talking about - groups of people who have different sets of genes because of prolonged geographic separation!


haha. now you have modified your argument. now its something only you talk about, something you have decided to call "geographic race". im still convinced you havent read the article.

anyway, if you read the article you should not be too surprised when you run a freaking clustering algorithm and set k= to the number of continents and it gives you the published result. people are kind of physically constrained to mate with people who are near by.

the "races" you refuse to admit you are referring to, if they did exist at some point due to geographical separation, are pretty freaking mixed up by now in the modern world (you know, the one that produced the iq test). thats the point about race mixing and migration that most of these researchers will make. but you have to READ THE FREAKING ARTICLES in order to let them.


My position is not that crazy! And don't you think it's just a little over-the-top to describe the GNXP post as a cretin's racist rantings, when the bulk of it is cited journal articles?


er, no. this is perhaps why you think you are communicating an informed opinion. quoting a published article in a blog post defending the ramblings of a senile racist in no way bestows credibility. especially when the quotes are taken from papers such as the one you KEEP QUOTING that explicitly admonishes you, in the damn discussion section:

"Our evidence for clustering should not be taken as evidence of our support of any particular concept of “biological race.”"


RTFA. READ. THE. FUCKING. ARTICLE.
posted by mano at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


people are kind of physically constrained to mate with people who are near by.

you should get broadband

sorry couldn't resist
posted by pyramid termite at 7:37 PM on November 18, 2007


Its like asking who would win in a fight a mountain goat or a Giant squid

Could a mountain goat, with only it's horns and a small knife be taught to consistently 'win' fights against a giant squid?

Okay, I never wanted to take part in a gang bang of my basic position, which, honestly,

Well you shouldn't have had such a slutty position.

I don't think I even need citations or backup to support

Of course not.

I thought it was simple, and really it's not offensive at all.

Seriously?

This entire time, no one has given a reason to believe that cognitive and intellectual functions are immune to selection pressure.

Others have taken swings at this juicy piñata, but look, what you haven't done is explain why these pressures would be different in different areas.

I mean, human beings have never operated at the level we have since the industrial revolution. Intelligence was probably always useful, but the innate capacity to do calculus makes no difference for a caveman whether they lived in Kenya or Lascaux.

It's a lot like the genes that determine whether or not we'll die at 70 or 90. Those genes never mattered until now.

And of course your example of "maybe they need more blood flow to their legs, and less to their brains" is preposterous.

So that's my answer to your question, which you never actually asked until this comment. But look, that's not what you were saying. You were saying that 1) "Race" was a biological valid concept, or at least could be mapped to modern concepts, and two that this was really important, which it's not.

There is really no way to truly study this, because it's impossible to do these experiments outside of society

This thread is a living, breathing example of the thesis of the Slate article -- that this question would give "liberals" fits as they bent over backward in their attempts to deal with it one way or the other.

If I hypothesized that if I poked someone with a stick, they would get pissed off, and then I poked someone with a stick, and they got pissed off, all that would prove is that I was a dick.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on November 18, 2007


Once again, if race is a social construct, what accounts for the ability of forensic scientists to accurately identify the race of individuals by analyzing DNA evidence?

If nations are not a social construct, how is it that scientist can determine what nation someone is from just by analyzing the location they were born!?

You've got to be joking. Physical attributes are the hallmarks of race. And physical attributes are genetically determined.

You don't seem to understand the difference between correlation and causation. DNA defines appearance, and appearance determines what race people are categorized into by society. That doesn't change the fact that the categorization is done by society, not 'nature'.

And yeah, sadly your comments make it appear that you're just not bright enough to have a real discussion about this with.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on November 18, 2007


In this case, however, it appears that science is pointing toward a conclusion that fucks with left-leaning world views....This leads me to see that people aren't actually supporters of science. Rather, the support science only when it confirms their existing beliefs.

I guess you win. Because I don't care if it's science. I don't care if it's the theory of relativity. I don't care if Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye come to my house and whip up a batch of it in my kitchen.

I. Don't. Care.

I don't care cares if this data represents reality. Because I can't think of any reason why I should want that reality. Want that reality. If denying that it's real makes me a fool, then I am a fool. Because I will not stand idly by, stroking my chin and contemplating science while someone trots out yet another reason that me or anyone born looking like me might be in any way inferior.

If science is just now getting around to it, then they're just too damn late, because the rest of socity has been jamming this weak ass shit down our throats for damn near 400 years. Sorry science! You missed the bus. Go study whales or something.

For you to use this topic as some sort of intellectual-political litmus test is arrogant, intolerant, and flat-out demeaning.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:39 PM on November 18, 2007


No, PT. Blackness accurately described this sonofabitch, as any three-year-old can see.
posted by cousincozen at 7:44 PM on November 18, 2007


Because if these conclusions are correct, they have serious implications for foreign aid to Africa.

Well, that's refreshing. I think I'll let Mr. Wallace speak for me:
You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say 'nigger'—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

But more than that, no one should have to defend their curiosity. Curiosity requires no defense. People wonder and they discuss.


Good. Let's stop talking about how stupid black people are while you let us know how the child raping has been working out for you. Curious minds want to know!

And I have seen no proof that the GNXP post is racist dreck. An analogy of races to dog breeds doesn't do it. All that he was illustrating there was an isolated population.

You do not talk about dog breeds or apes or monkeys while you're discussing the genetic intellectual inferiority of people of African descent. Talk about tulips, or dolphins, or more appropriately, unicorns. But you don't mention dogs, apes, or monkeys unless you're using these coded, loaded terms to give your readers a wink.

You do not pepper your article with exclamation points. Not on this subject. I'm not sure this subject ever has a reason to be broached--but if it must, it should be done with the greatest delicacy and decorum. That man writes with glee.

And honestly, you don't write pseudo science blog posts defending Watson's racism with cerry picked, out of context results with that image--all in the hope of proving that black people are less smart than other people--unless you are a racist.
posted by cytherea at 7:46 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wondered how long it would take cousincozen to get here.
posted by robcorr at 7:33 PM on November 18

??
posted by cousincozen at 7:46 PM on November 18, 2007


i could come up with a scientific inquiry into how long, on average, it would take me to cut a 4 year old's throat with a dull butter knife, but do you seriously think i should do that?

Of course not. What happens though, if as a result of investigating murders of children, you happen to learn that it takes, on average, forty seconds?

Are you then supposed to ignore that information? Or should we make the official line that it actually takes five minutes to cut a child's throat, on the grounds that some people might think that if it takes longer, then they'll be less likely to try and do it?

is it useful? is it ethical?

I don't think you can predict the value of facts. Something that, right now, might appear to have little or no utility, may later turn out to be the key to solving a great mystery. If you choose to suppress knowledge on the grounds that it has unpalatable implications, that can also have unintended consequences. The fact that many humans aren't sufficiently emotionally or intellectually mature enough to draw sensible conclusions from the data really doesn't seem to me to be a good reason to suppress it.

And so while I don't know enough about this debate to have a position either way, as soon as anybody tells me that I shouldn't be able to study something, I immediately start to get interested in the subject -- and I also tend to be dubious about the robustness of their position. I mean, if it was really that robust, why would they be so worried about further enquiry into the issue?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:52 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Good. Let's stop talking about how stupid black people are while you let us know how the child raping has been working out for you. Curious minds want to know!"
posted by cytherea at 7:46 PM on November 18

Holy crap, cytherea! Do you want to get wished to the cornfield!
posted by cousincozen at 7:53 PM on November 18, 2007


You see the term [race] used quite often in botany.

Which is exactly why I specified animals, as delmoi noted. Botany and zoology often diverge in their usage of a terms. So, I'll just say it again:

I'd love to meet a biologist who spends time with "race" as a meaningful concept in any non-human animal.

And yet there is this strange insistence - mostly by people who talk seriously about "measuring" intelligence - on the use of the concept of race in homo sapiens, despite the fact that the folks who study all other animal species manage to get away without the term at all. It's very strange, no? The folks who insist on the term have an obligation to explain why biologists should treat human categorization differently than that used for non-human animals.

I'd love to hear a good explanation for that.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


One time I tried to teach my dog how to speak English, she is has white fur so I thought it would be a snap turns out she's just as dumb as a gold fish.
posted by nola at 7:55 PM on November 18, 2007


No, PT. Blackness accurately described this sonofabitch, as any three-year-old can see.

i'm disappointed - i expected a link to his dna profile and instead, all you have to show me is a photograph

we've all explained it to you - even your own story proves the point - if you don't understand, it's either because you don't want to or you're not smart enough to know the difference between genetics and the social construct that you seem to believe in quite fervently

i'm through
posted by pyramid termite at 7:56 PM on November 18, 2007


Of course not. What happens though, if as a result of investigating murders of children, you happen to learn that it takes, on average, forty seconds?

Are you then supposed to ignore that information? Or should we make the official line that it actually takes five minutes to cut a child's throat, on the grounds that some people might think that if it takes longer, then they'll be less likely to try and do it?


Uh, no, but the only people who would actually care about that information are forensic scientists and child murders.

Applicability to this thread is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 PM on November 18, 2007


For you to use this topic as some sort of intellectual-political litmus test is arrogant, intolerant, and flat-out demeaning.

Thanks, billyfleetwood. You said it better than I ever could.
posted by nasreddin at 8:00 PM on November 18, 2007


I have an IQ of 180, yet I have done fuck-all with my life except sit around and be a loser, smoke dope and drink myself into alcoholism. So much for high IQ.

amen, brother.
posted by waxboy at 8:00 PM on November 18, 2007


"all you have to show me is a photograph"

Yes, it's what the cops used.
posted by cousincozen at 8:02 PM on November 18, 2007


Of course not. What happens though, if as a result of investigating murders of children, you happen to learn that it takes, on average, forty seconds?

Are you then supposed to ignore that information?


if you're not going to act upon it, why would you need to know?

Or should we make the official line that it actually takes five minutes to cut a child's throat, on the grounds that some people might think that if it takes longer, then they'll be less likely to try and do it?

if the moral considerations aren't enough to prevent people from doing so, then what's the use?

I don't think you can predict the value of facts.

so, i have no way of telling whether the study of the possible life-cycle of a star 2,000 years away might not be as valuable as the study of our own sun's life cycle?

how do scientists ever decide what to investigate if there's no way to predict the value of facts?

i think we should put all the world's scientists to work looking for invisible pink unicorns next year - there might be one - i mean, we can't predict how useful the facts we find might be

The fact that many humans aren't sufficiently emotionally or intellectually mature enough to draw sensible conclusions from the data really doesn't seem to me to be a good reason to suppress it.

but what useful conclusions will we get from that investigation?

it's a legitimate question and one that people keep avoiding - why is this hypothesis more worthy of investigation than others, including the existence of invisible pink unicorns?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:05 PM on November 18, 2007


It would be an interesting exercise to design an IQ test that would advantage African-Americans.

Has this sort of experiment ever been done? Genuinely curious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:06 PM on November 18, 2007


I'll give this a shot, although I don't have much hope that it will resolve anything.

Let's say that I decide that people with red hair and green eyes who have detached earlobes and can curl their tongue belong to the "Squinky" race.

Does the "Squinky" race exist? If it does exist, is it a social construct? If it does exist, does it have any scientific import?

My answers:

The "Squinky" race exists, yeah, but only as the result of circular reasoning. There exist people with those qualities, and I've given them a name, so that name applies to them.

Now, let's say I convince millions of other people that Squinkies are their own race. Well, then, the perception of that race will probably change life for the Squinkies, one way or another, but it's still a social construct. And hey, maybe Squinkies could be identified by DNA testing! So what? They'd still be a social construct. DNA testing would just reveal the ingredients we use to build our social construct.

Now, if I went to any sort of scientific organization and said "Hey! Let's study the Squinkies! Let's see how they differ from people of other races! Let's find out if they're smarter or dumber than the rest of us!" that scientific organization would have every reason to suggest that I'm off my clown car. The concept of the Squinky race, while it can be linked to some identifiable genetic traits, is just a grab bag of stuff that seemed important to me for reasons completely unreleated to things scientists actually study.

I'll also point out that if I did my own scientific study, I might conclude that Squinkies, on average, sunburn more easily than white people. Would that be proof that Squinkies are their own separate race? Would it justify starting an Institute for Squinky Studies? No, it would just prove that I managed to rediscover that redheads are more likely to burn, only I missed it because I was performing my studies on meaningless groups of mostly unrelated attributes.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:07 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


"The folks who insist on the term have an obligation to explain why biologists should treat human categorization differently than that used for non-human animals. I'd love to hear a good explanation for that."
posted by mediareport at 7:54 PM on November 18

Well, the well-publicized destruction of the co-discoverer of the double-helix and renowned Nobel laureate might serve as very effective object lesson.
posted by cousincozen at 8:10 PM on November 18, 2007


cousincozen: What, you're surprised? You had a FPP nuked last week that wasn't a heckuva lot different to this one, and your contributions are... well, at least they're consistent.
posted by robcorr at 8:10 PM on November 18, 2007


To further explain why race is subjective let us go back to previous times when most people believed things that weren't true. I won't pick any particular belief; choose your favorite. Somehow, despite popular opinion, a few people would come up with alternate explanations for phenomena that were either true, or at least closer to the truth. Eventually everyone else caught on and were swayed by the facts.

Today we are also trying to disseminate a new fact: what people term 'race' is a self-perpetuating term that can only be defined with circular reasoning. Any objective measure of race breaks down. I'm going to give a likely flawed attempt do so.

Hypothesis 1)There are different races because when people look at pictures of other people they place them into groups by race. When other people do the same they will tend to put the same pictures into the same groups.

Break down 1)Does this really define race? Or just that people put those that look different into different piles? What if you asked people to sort photographs by an 'x factor' where people in the photos who looked similar would be put into the same piles. I believe this would also likely work out similarly as asking them to separate the pictures by race. But what if the tester chose many or all photographs from people who are 'bi-racial'? Will the test subject a)say that the person in the photograph is bi-racial, b)place the photograph in with a race of either parent a statistically equal number of times, c)place the photograph into predominately one pile over the other or d)place the photograph into a pile of a different race than either parent.

I suspect most would do c) or d) and do this based on the skin color and perhaps if they had any cultural markings like a long beard, hair style, etc. I think we can agree that facial hair, head hair, choice in apparel are culturally motivated than racially motivated.

Now you might say "Well, if they are separated into a different race from the parent it just means that they Are a new race!" If that is the case, wouldn't all child pairings from people of race A and race B look alike? I do not think that is the case. In fact, I think it varies considerably, even among multiple children from the same couple! If a 'race' is such a strong concept why would the offspring from two races fluctuate skin color so much?

This shows that such an image driven test would have to account for a large number of variables and would likely produce vastly different results across cultures as well as being heavily influenced by the pictures chosen for the test. I'm sure a scientist could use a bunch of misleading pictures to produce any result they wanted to. As such this kind of test wouldn't be a reliable indicator that there is a concept of a 'race'.

Hypothesis 2)Some 'races' have larger percentages of people with a specific genetic problem than other 'races'.

Break down 2)We already know that genetic problems are hereditary so those that have been confined to one location without breeding with other populations will create a more concentrated amount of people with that genetic problem.

Hopefully now that there is more cross-cultural breeding the waters will be muddled enough that we'll all be able to think of skin color as just another trait like hair color and our great grand children will laugh at how people used to separate each other by that, of all things.

And ladies: I would be honored to work you to make this happen. If you know what I mean.

On preview: holy crap that's long.
posted by Green With You at 8:13 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't care cares if this data represents reality. Because I can't think of any reason why I should want that reality. Want that reality. If denying that it's real makes me a fool, then I am a fool. Because I will not stand idly by, stroking my chin and contemplating science while someone trots out yet another reason that me or anyone born looking like me might be in any way inferior.

The only reason that people think it matters is because we allocate resources on the basis of certain occupations, and access to those occupations is determined on the basis of this particular test. If we chose a more equitable basis on which to allocate resources, we might value qualities other than intelligence more highly. Qualities like loyalty, kindness, wisdom, etc.

I have no idea whatsoever whether these particular traits are distributed equally in different geographical regions and among the decendant of people who originated in those areas.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2007


robcorr: Actually, it was two. But who's counting?
posted by cousincozen at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2007


"the general consensus of whether a person is 'white' or 'black' or whatever".
Physical attributes are the hallmarks of race. And physical attributes are genetically determined.

I'm Bangladeshi. That makes me Asian, but I don't have the long straight hair or the single eyelids "Asians" are supposed to have. The "general consensus" cannot come to a consensus on what I'm supposed to be. I've been considered Fijian, Spanish, Malay, Indian, African, Chinese, a Japanese Ganguoro Girl, mixed-race (usually part English or American), all sorts of things.

I'm from Malaysia. We're South East Asian, but even in Malaysia we can't seem to agree on a common "race". Everyone is Malay/Chinese/Indian/Other. Being a non-Tamil Indian makes you "Other". Being a Muslim Chinese makes you "Malay". Being a non-Muslim Malay makes you nonexistent.

What race am I supposed to be from your "scientific" studies?

I took the MENSA tests in Australia earlier this year. Two tests - one was language/logic/maths, one was visual. Both were at least 50 years old. The language section required a strong command of the English language (so what happens if English is not your first language? Heck, I have better English skills than some native speakers...), and the logic section was VERY culturally biased. One question went like this:
Mr X lost all his money, is very depressed, and is considering jumping off a bridge. At the last minute, he doesn't do so. Why?
a) He fell ill
b) He got talked out of it
c) He felt better
d) He got his money back
How do questions like those actually reveal intelligence of any kind?! How are you supposed to answer that?! As someone going through depression, I found that utterly stupid. And yet that is how people are quantifying "intelligence", and making value judgements on you.

Notice how the survey says Asian-AMERICANS, African-AMERICANS, Jewish-AMERICANS. What about the NON-AMERICANS? Do scores differ? What are you testing them on? Who's taking the test? Are they self-selecting?

I eventually was accepted into MENSA, but got turned off by the whining I heard from the MENSA Facebook people about how no one takes them seriously because they're "too intelligent". After a few months of waffling, I eventually joined - because I'm thinking of getting the young MENSA members together to work on social change and making a difference.

I don't know if the other young MENSA members are intelligent enough for that.
posted by divabat at 8:32 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, apparently you're counting. I guess I should be thankful the other one was deleted before I saw it, but on the other hand, I'm glad I know about it.
posted by robcorr at 8:33 PM on November 18, 2007


"DNA defines appearance, and appearance determines what race people are categorized into by society. That doesn't change the fact that the categorization is done by society, not 'nature'."

Some categories are purely social. But most are probably there because it turns out that they are useful and predictive clusters: something growing out of the ground that is green also tends to have roots, tends to need water, tends to need sunshine. We call this categorization "plant." A shiny metallic looking object is less likely to have these attributes. The human mind picked up one set of attributes and said there were other attributes likely attached to it. That's categorization.

Now it's a separate question whether race is a predictive cluster. But not all categorizations are purely "social."
posted by shivohum at 8:33 PM on November 18, 2007


"That doesn't change the fact that the categorization is done by society, not 'nature'."
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on November 18

Well, I guess air is a social construct, too. Correct? The constituent gases may very well vary from place to place. So what's really meant by "air"?

I'd never really thought about it in that way before.

BTW, though...did you realize that you ended that last sentence with a preposition? Tut-tut, smart boy.
posted by cousincozen at 8:39 PM on November 18, 2007


Also, if it is true that it is now possible that scientists can pin-point the 'race' of an individual from their DNA how do we know it's because they found a 'race' gene and not because they just are getting really good at finding out which traits were local to a particular population. You can look at DNA and say "this person has this list of 100 traits. our database shows that people with these traits are black 99.9% of the time. not all black people have these traits though, in fact only about 1% of black people have these traits". So I fail to see how being able to say what 'race' someone is is so much about race as about 'yay databases and traits'.
posted by Green With You at 8:39 PM on November 18, 2007


Since hispanic people score lower on IQ tests than white people, and this apparently means they are genetically stupider than white people, does this mean that the Spanish are genetically stupider than the English, Irish, Germans, etc?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:49 PM on November 18, 2007


why is this hypothesis more worthy of investigation than others, including the existence of invisible pink unicorns?

It isn't a hypothesis that I'm personally interested in investigating. But people investigate all manner of stuff that I'm not interested in. Like UFO's and the search for Bigfoot. Generally, those enquiries tell us something. Usually, it's that there's no good reason to believe in UFO's or Bigfoot. But very often, we learn other stuff as a by-product of that enquiry that actually does have value.

how do scientists ever decide what to investigate if there's no way to predict the value of facts?

Go searching for a heart drug, find a drug that treats erectile disfunction. Somebody was quoting Paul Feyerabend earlier on, and Feyerabend's books are full of these accounts of how scientists went looking for X, but found Y instead.

I'm not suggesting that governments or research institutions should be prioritizing or spending money to measure these differences. However, much of what we know, we learn as a bi-product of some other enquiry. For example, we learn a lot about people's occupations as a by-product of collecting taxes. Once you've actually got that data in, you can't 'unlearn' it. If curiosity drives somebody to want to expend intellectual energy on thinking about this issue, then the way to deal with that is by insisting that they do so rigorously, and by challenging their underlying assumptions, not by wishing the actual data away.

if you're not going to act upon it, why would you need to know?

Because we're innately curious creatures. Because you can never tell what benefits knowing might bring in the future. It's like the Space Programme. While the goal was to beat the Russians to get the first man onto the moon, we had no way of predicting the amount of basic science that we'd learn as a consequence of doing that work, nor would we have predicted the implications for materials science, and its knock on effect on manufacturing, etc.

As you say, it's not a particularly interesting thing to measure. Divide groups arbitrarily, and then measure the different groups on various axes. I think the only reason that I'd find it particularly interesting is if I were a member of such a group myself, and felt some sense of solidarity with other members of that group. Under those circumstances, if my group was disadvantaged, I might want to know if it was actually true that we weren't performing as well as other groups, and I might want to investigate some of the possible reasons why that might be so, in order to try and do something about it. Scientific methods in the service of political change, so to speak.

I suppose there are those who might argue that knowing the truth about such matters is disempowering. Personally, I tend to think an accurate assessment of your weaknesses is just as important as an accurate assessment of your strengths as both are necessary to deciding where best to deploy your resources in order to try and make the best use of the strategies available to you.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2007


"I guess I should be thankful the other one was deleted before I saw it, but on the other hand, I'm glad I know about it."
posted by robcorr at 8:33 PM on November 18

Here you go, robcorr. Enjoy.
posted by cousincozen at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2007


Well, the well-publicized destruction of the co-discoverer of the double-helix and renowned Nobel laureate might serve as very effective object lesson.

Of what? The perils of credentialism? That well-known scientists can be wrong about something? Wow, that's a newsflash. You're avoiding the question, Alan, which isn't surprising, since you don't have a good answer. The least you can do is admit it's an interesting point worth exploring further.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 PM on November 18, 2007


Wow.

I really hope that "cousincozen" is a sock puppet account so that you can keep your delusional racism separate from the rest of your online identity.

But if this is it, if this is the sum total of what you read and post, and if you're the vanguard of the white race preparing for the coming Hispanic intifada... well, then I for one welcome our new non-white overlords.
posted by robcorr at 9:03 PM on November 18, 2007


Can't be bothered to read through the whole thread, but this is a stupid stupid article.

Economic and cultural theories have failed to explain most of the pattern, and there's strong preliminary evidence that part of it is genetic.

Wrong and wrong. Economic and cultural backgrounds are incredibly powerful predictors of IQ. There is only very weak evidence that IQ is hereditabile at all, and most of that is based on weak twins studies.

Anyone who has read this far, PLEASE read this essay by Cosma Shalizi. It is the best thing I have ever read about hereditability and IQ. He looks at the actual studies done in this field and finds they all have major flaws, and that the whole concept of a general hereditable intellegence factor is deeply questionable.

Money quote:

Building factors from correlations is fine as data reduction, but deeply unsuited to finding causal structures. The mythical aspect of g [a general factor for intelligence] isn't that it can be defined, or, having been defined, that it describes a lot of the correlations on intelligence tests; the myth is that this tells us anything more than that those tests are positively correlated. It has been known for almost as long as factor analysis has been around that positive correlations can arise in many ways which involve nothing remotely like a general factor of intelligence. Thomson's ability-sampling model, with its myriad independent causes rather than a single general cause, is the oldest and most extreme counter-example, but it is far from the only one. It is still conceivable that those positive correlations are all caused by a general factor of intelligence, but we ought to be long since past the point where supporters of that view were advancing arguments on the basis of evidence other than those correlations. So far as I can tell, however, nobody has presented a case for g apart from thoroughly invalid arguments from factor analysis; that is, the myth.

In primitive societies, or so Malinowski taught, myths serve as the legitimating charters of practices and institutions. Just so here: the myth of g legitimates a vast enterprise of intelligence testing and theorizing. There should be no dispute that, when we lack specialized and valid instruments, general IQ tests can be better than nothing. Claims that they are anything more than such stop-gaps — that they are triumphs of psychological science, illuminating the workings of the mind; keys to the fates of individuals and peoples; sources of harsh truths which only a courageous few have the strength to bear; etc., etc., — such claims are at present entirely unjustified, though not, perhaps, unmotivated. They are supported only by the myth, and acceptance of the myth itself rests on what I can only call an astonishing methodological backwardness.

The bottom line is: The sooner we stop paying attention to g, the sooner we can devote our energies to understanding the mind.

posted by afu at 9:04 PM on November 18, 2007


robcorr: Living in Australia, what's it to you?
posted by cousincozen at 9:08 PM on November 18, 2007


Every time you post in a Bell Curve-related thread your IQ goes down a point, permanently.

oh shit
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:10 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Of what? The perils of credentialism? That well-known scientists can be wrong about something? Wow, that's a newsflash. You're avoiding the question, Alan, which isn't surprising, since you don't have a good answer. The least you can do is admit it's an interesting point worth exploring further.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 PM on November 18

Of what? Of making damned sure one toes the party line. To me, the Watson thing was a career assassination, a hit job. As I understand it, the conversation that got him in trouble was rather private, not a great pronouncement by any means. In fact, very similar to the Larry Summers escapade, in which his remarks were made in a closed meeting with twelve people. In regard to the preceding, botany and zoology overlap in taxonomy, and that's the realm of race. In botany, the term race is interchangeable with variety, and I think that's essentially what race represents in animals and humans (but I repeat myself). It's the degree of significance, if any, that is intriguing to some. And yeah, what the hell, it's an interesting point worth exploring further.
posted by cousincozen at 9:35 PM on November 18, 2007


that has nothing to do with the social construct called race and the association of "intelligence" with that

You're right... that's what i've been telling you, man. I don't want anything to do with the social construct, because I've never been talking about it. It's complicated and subjective and not related to my argument. I'm talking about, and always have been talking about, believe it or not, what I now have to call "geographic races" to separate them from the social construct. The social constructs of races are real, important, and certainly more influential on a person's life, character, and capabilities than their genetic ancestry. That's not the issue. The issue is that people are denying that the genetic ancestry part can't possibly have any effect, which seems silly to me because they are just arbitrarily setting aside a set of traits as locked.

Genetically distinct geographical populations, often identified by common features and simplified into the commonly-referred-to "races," potentially have significant differences under the hood apart from the superficial ones, because they have been under different selection pressures for tens of thousands of years. It's enough time for something to change - and despite delmoi dismissing my little off-the-top-of-the-head neurological adventure, enough time for something substantial upstairs to change. You understand, now, that I am not saying that is has, one way or the other. But it's possible that it has, and to deny that it's even possible is ridiculous.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:36 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


To me, the Watson thing was a career assassination, a hit job.

I'm in agreement with his idea, the one I've been trying desperately to convey to these people, but Watson blew it with this whole thing. I don't mean to defend his conduct because when you say something like "anyone who's ever had blacks working for them knows what I'm talking about" you've pretty much assassinated yourself, nobel laureate or not.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:39 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Three thoughts. Firstly, the tension from this kind of data is a replay of the classical confusion between "equal" and "the same". (Similarly made by early communists - that the natural path to an equal society was ensuring everyone owned the same things as everyone else, crushing taste, personal preference, individuality, all the things that make us human. It seems so stupid in hindsight - what were these social designers smoking?! And yet, this woolly thinking remains as common as ever).

Secondly, racial sameness is a good and necessary fiction for a successful society, but people who insist on it being a literal gospel Truth that is off limits to even scientific study, have missed the point and by being silly about it, probably Aren't Helping.

Lastly, you don't need to be a PC-gone-mad type to know that lower IQ doesn't mean inferior. It might mean less intelligent, but racial superiority or inferiority is meaningless nonsense without a context. Typically this context is a layman error of anthropomorphising of evolution as something with a purpose or something that is going somewhere, or heading in a specific direction, and this race or that is further along this path, thus better. Take people from the most "inferior" race you can find, put them in direct competition with the most "superior" race you can find, who wins is merely and entirely a function of the environment in which the competition takes place. Put me in charge of their environment, put your money on the superior race, and I will retire on your foolishly-bet riches :-)

Heheh, now that I think about it... maybe this is the unexplained motivation behind the experiment in the movie "Cube". Someone bet that the strong smart charismatic guy would beat the weedy retarded guy, and someone else said "sure - I'll take that bet - but I'm designing the environment - and parting this fool from his gold!" :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:40 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hope you brought some vaseline, harlequin.
They aren't very nice here.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:46 PM on November 18, 2007


"...when you say something like 'anyone who's ever had blacks working for them knows what I'm talking about' you've pretty much assassinated yourself, nobel laureate or not."
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:39 PM on November 18

As I remember seeing Bush's former spokeshole, Ari Fleischer, say during a press briefing, as he looked around the room menacingly, Watch what you say.
posted by cousincozen at 10:00 PM on November 18, 2007


Take people from the most "inferior" race you can find, put them in direct competition with the most "superior" race you can find, who wins is merely and entirely a function of the environment in which the competition takes place.

Yep, despite my surburban middle-class upbringing and lfailure in every sport i've ever attempted, put me out there on the savannah with a spear and a shield and i'd outperform the rugby-playing white girl who grew up down the street from me. makes perfect sense.
posted by mayfly wake at 10:05 PM on November 18, 2007


*failure
posted by mayfly wake at 10:06 PM on November 18, 2007


In botany, the term race is interchangeable with variety, and I think that's essentially what race represents in animals and humans

Um, "race" doesn't represent anything in animals. See, that's kind of the point. It's not used at all, let alone even close to the same way "variety" is used in botany. You're obviously still having trouble with this, but I don't know how else to try to help, so we'll just leave it at goodnight.
posted by mediareport at 10:13 PM on November 18, 2007


"Um, 'race' doesn't represent anything in animals."
posted by mediareport at 10:13 PM on November 18

In a taxonomic sense, it does. Goodnight.
posted by cousincozen at 10:23 PM on November 18, 2007


mayfly wake: You're just arguing my point - you designed an environment in which your traits were of small advantage, and those of another were of considerable advantage. With a similar effort, you could likewise design an environment taylored to your traits and not hers.

Like I said, whoever designs the environment gets to choose the winner. Glad you agree :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:30 PM on November 18, 2007


In a taxonomic sense, it does.

That's precisely the sense in which zoologists do *not* use it. Again, it is difficult (I say nearly impossible) to find zoologists using "race" in taxonomic terms in regard to any non-human animal. I've been asking for an example for hours now; no one's come up with one. That should tell you something.

Sweet dreams.
posted by mediareport at 10:33 PM on November 18, 2007


robcorr: Living in Australia, what's it to you?

Ah, it all makes sense now.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 PM on November 18, 2007


Harlequin, have you ever read Brave New World? Did you come away from it with the impression that here, indeed, was an egalitarian society where individual differences in ability were respected?

Because what you're arguing here, if generalized to a societal level, gives you precisely that society. Or, for that matter, feudalism. Or H.G. Wells' Morlocks and Eloi.
posted by nasreddin at 10:38 PM on November 18, 2007


The issue is that people are denying that the genetic ancestry part can't possibly have any effect, which seems silly to me because they are just arbitrarily setting aside a set of traits as locked.

Look, you're a guy who referenced a paper that said "Our evidence for clustering should not be taken as evidence of our support of any particular concept of “biological race."" As evidence of a biological race. You're just a very stupid person, and ultimately it's impossible to argue with a stupid person because advanced concepts just make sense to them. That's the problem here. You simply can't understand why you're wrong.

To bad, so sad, and so dumb. You'll never understand the world clearly, and it's a shame. To say that you're a "scientific person" is laughable. You just lack the intelligence.

mayfly wake: Don't worry about these fucktards.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 PM on November 18, 2007


Mayfield wake: A clarification - I think you might be confusing sample size and generalising. The environment defines which group wins. If each "group" is an individual, then the identifiable traits of that indivdual are the ones that influence success, and thus the ones you use to win the bet. If the each "group" is a large number of people (be they the same race, or mixed, or even mixed species), then you'll be trying to identify strengths and weaknesses of the overall group, so you can rig the game accordingly. You will not be looking for tired racist cliches (unless you want to lose the money you could easily win, or are in the business of silly straw man arguments).

posted by -harlequin- at 10:46 PM on November 18, 2007


"I've been asking for an example for hours now; no one's come up with one."
posted by mediareport at 10:33 PM on November 18

Well, as a teaser...dogs, cats, cattle, swine, fowl all are represented by varieties/races. I've gotta crash, though. In the mean time, here's something for you to peruse, to demonstrate just how nutty (and pervasive) race touchiness is.
posted by cousincozen at 10:48 PM on November 18, 2007


Every hierarchically-ordered social structure contains some ideological claims that the hierarchy isn't really a hierarchy, since everyone is important in some way and therefore the structure is based on functional differences. One example is the lords/clergy/peasants distinction I pointed out earlier. Another is the caste system in India.

In many cases, the differences were originally purely functional. But with time, the more intellectual castes acquire a hierarchical dominance, retaining the ideological claim to functionalism as a kind of smokescreen.

If you don't see how this will shake out/has shaken out with respect to racial differences, you are willfully blind.
posted by nasreddin at 10:49 PM on November 18, 2007


Firstly, the tension from this kind of data is a replay of the classical confusion between "equal" and "the same". (Similarly made by early communists - that the natural path to an equal society was ensuring everyone owned the same things as everyone else, crushing taste, personal preference, individuality, all the things that make us human. It seems so stupid in hindsight - what were these social designers smoking?! And yet, this woolly thinking remains as common as ever).

This is missing the point. Identity implies equality, which is where we derive the concept of human rights (not the other way around). As such, racialists need to prove a distinct non-identity to question our human equality. Humans have different intelligence ranging in their own groups, and not because they are in different races. These races don't even physically exist as separate biological entities, so racialists must prove a mental or moral inferiority. It's the oldest trick in the racialist handbook, formerly based on spiritual aptitudes.

The people who desperately conflate race and intelligence are typically the ones who would benefit from the confusion, by using it culturally to gain advantage over those in any "lower" group who would fairly succeed ahead of them. Because it would be supremely shameful to their ego to be fairly bested by someone in a perceived "lower" group, whether it be a job, apartment, or girlfriend. Accordingly, they see an advantage in raising a prejudice against those groups. It's standard game theory. Same goes for authors who would pander to this demand.
posted by Brian B. at 10:54 PM on November 18, 2007


To clarify the connection:

Bobby, Damario, and Kim are on a desert island. To survive, they figure out who's best at what. Turns out Bobby is best at thinking up rules and plans, Kim is best at making tools, and Damario--guess what, he's good at manual labor!

None of these skill sets can be said to be "inferior" objectively. But you want to make a bet about who's going to end up on the bottom of the totem pole?
posted by nasreddin at 11:00 PM on November 18, 2007


nasreddin: I never advocated an egalitarian society.
Reading your clarification, pecking orders don't become relevant to "superiority" until you define that that is your highly-restricted meaning of superiority, at which point it is true by definition. Which is trite.

On a related note, I don't even think that many people would agree that being the most ruthless and successful at oppressing and manipulating others is any kind of meaning of "superior" that they care to employ. "Superior" as used in racism is normally an objective superiority, not a weaselly little subjective one that means "well ok, they're better at X, but we're better at Y, and while some people think X is more important, we think that Y is more important, so we're superior, from a certain point of view".

You just can't get to "Superior Race" from trivial (or even major) differences in race, because there is no golden trait, or golden set of traits, that doesn't become a liability under different conditions (save perhaps immortality, but I don't see any race with that trait :-)

You're building a car, you've got a weight limit. So do you optimise for drag-racing, or for handling around corners? Or do you have mediocre performance on both?
Which of the three designs is the Superior one? There isn't a superior one because it depends entirely on the track, and it always will.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:20 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Which of the three designs is the Superior one? There isn't a superior one because it depends entirely on the track, and it always will.

I am not arguing that dominance=superiority. I agree: there's no objective way to compare skill set differences quality-wise.

But the world is running more and more on one track. And the idea that blacks have a more manual-labor oriented skillset, when (not if!) it becomes societally applied, guarantees them a certain place on that track.

Last place.
posted by nasreddin at 11:28 PM on November 18, 2007


Damario--guess what, he's good at manual labor!

None of these skill sets can be said to be "inferior" objectively. But you want to make a bet about who's going to end up on the bottom of the totem pole?


On a desert island? How long they on this Island? A long time? Is Kim a woman? Is Damario physically superior to Bobby— hence WHY he is doing the manual labor?

Well. My bet — if history, the Us Army, Survivor, and anthropology are any guide— Damario will end up on top.

Unless Damario has no guile what so ever. And a week or two going hungry and lifting logs for another mother-fucker will grow guile.

Kim will be on the bottom. Sad. But true.

Because eventually her priroties will shift to who ever is the strongest (especially if she gets pregnant).

And Bobby, if he is the type who orders around somebody bigger than him, will get bludgeoned or eaten shortly after he shows the others how to filter fresh water from condensation using a fabric trap/still on the beach.

Unless people are related or bonded friends you need a critical mass of people for an "intellectualized" class hierarchy in small survival situations.

Yep. Skipper would have won. He and Gilligan. The Howells get killed or die pretty quick. They are old. The professor understands he can't compete with Skipper hand to hand and does what he is told. And Ginger gets knocked up and becomes Skipper's queen.

Army Survival school taught me that.

Let's do another one.
posted by tkchrist at 11:29 PM on November 18, 2007


nasreddin: Absolutely agreed.
My concern is that I don't think it helps much to prevent this social structuring if the racism taboo is taken to the point where people deny what is right in front of their eyes - contorted arguments that the skin colour of the 100m sprint Olympic athletes has just been an amazing statistical coincidence year after year just makes the racists look that much more like reasonable people being oppressed for daring to tell the truth.
Racist thinking needs to be prevented, but I've seen it taken to silly levels that it can be counterproductive. As such, I guess I don't see it as racist to think that people of certain skin-tones seem to have difficulty attaining world-class 100m sprint competitiveness - it's not socially relevant and it's not socially damaging, and regardless of whether the reason for it might be social, cultural, genetic, or some mixture of those, it seems unlikely to be my imagination. This 100m observation is racist, but I think denying it is more harmful than accepting it. Perhaps that also differs person to person.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:45 PM on November 18, 2007


Genetically distinct geographical populations, often identified by common features and simplified into the commonly-referred-to "races," potentially have significant differences under the hood apart from the superficial ones, because they have been under different selection pressures for tens of thousands of years. It's enough time for something to change - and despite delmoi dismissing my little off-the-top-of-the-head neurological adventure, enough time for something substantial upstairs to change. You understand, now, that I am not saying that is has, one way or the other. But it's possible that it has, and to deny that it's even possible is ridiculous.

Yes it is possible. But all the evidence we have suggests that genetic effects on the difference in IQ of "races"are very small, while social effects are very large. You seem to keep ignoring that fact for some reason.
posted by afu at 11:53 PM on November 18, 2007


Man. I hope I'm never stranded on a desert island with tkchrist. He'd feast on my bones.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:10 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Intelligence is where I'm a Viking.
posted by dangerousdan at 12:36 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]



Man. I hope I'm never stranded on a desert island with tkchrist. He'd feast on my bones.


It's interesting how upside down hierarchy in society gets simply as an effect of population to resources.

A society that cooperates succeeds much better than one that competes with itself. BUT physical power always matters.

When labor is valuable, in the form of raw strength, muscle is king. It's very primal. All our notions of "superior" revert back to animal notions of what is superior.

As a society gets successful and grows, labor has to compete with itself. Then new values rise up. You DO get brains over brawn.

LSS. This is my way of saying I likely wouldn't eat you because I anticipate being rescued from the island.
posted by tkchrist at 12:38 AM on November 19, 2007


As far as humans go, the question is badly phrased. The question comes out "is one group slightly more intelligent?", when really it's "is anyone not quite as dumb?"
posted by spaltavian at 1:45 AM on November 19, 2007


This thread can still get deleted if everyone posts enough ascii art...
posted by stavrogin at 1:48 AM on November 19, 2007


Yep. Skipper would have won. He and Gilligan. The Howells get killed or die pretty quick. They are old. The professor understands he can't compete with Skipper hand to hand and does what he is told. And Ginger gets knocked up and becomes Skipper's queen.

Well, only an ignorant fool would underestimate Mary Ann. Let alone forget her.

Or the Professor.

It's always the "and the rest" folks who fly under the radar and end up taking over.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:19 AM on November 19, 2007


. Somebody was quoting Paul Feyerabend earlier on, and Feyerabend's books are full of these accounts of how scientists went looking for X, but found Y instead.

that's an exception to what usually happens - scientists look for x, find x, or find x isn't true - and they STILL choose to look for x

now why do they do so? why is it so hard for people to admit that the utility of an investigation has something to do with whether it's done?

----------------

I don't want anything to do with the social construct, because I've never been talking about it.

and then you blithely go on talking about "race", never defining what you mean by geographic races, what these races are or anything except that they're not whatever it is we're talking about when we reply to you

now that it's not working out, you're backpedaling into vague cya-type statements - this is not interesting
posted by pyramid termite at 3:14 AM on November 19, 2007


that's an exception to what usually happens - scientists look for x, find x, or find x isn't true - and they STILL choose to look for x


Feyerabend's argument is that a rationalist method is neither how things proceed in fact, nor a good recipe for scientific progress. Personally, I think his arguments are over the top in this respect, though his argument for epistimological anarchism is an interesting one.

why is it so hard for people to admit that the utility of an investigation has something to do with whether it's done?

I don't think it's hard to admit at all, it's something that most people take for granted and as such, is just not very interesting. But I'm starting to get confused now. Is this a functionalist argument you're making? Scientists want to study the relationship between race and intelligence in order to keep the black man down? It sounds to me as though you believe that there is such a relationship, but it's better to just not talk about it or think about it because to do so may have undesirable political consequences?

Well, only an ignorant fool would underestimate Mary Ann.

Not me. I'd much rather be good looking than clever.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:54 AM on November 19, 2007


Why is this dumbfuck post still around? It's total garbage.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:08 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why is this dumbfuck post still around? It's total garbage.

True, and yet I keep going back to it, and I have to say it's useful in that it's giving me valuable lessons in who's a complete fucktard and can be ignored in future.
posted by languagehat at 5:57 AM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


"then why are we talking about it so much? - and your point that we should not choose to remain in ignorance over such a question ... well, should we choose to remain in ignorance over the question of whether jews really are more greedy than other people? whether an irishman's more likely to be a drunk?"

I think useful answers can certainly come out of stupid, bigoted questions which appear to be disgustingly rhetorical, pyramid termite.

Take the horrific "greedy jews" slur.

You can, of course, tell the person who mentions this disgusting slur that they are a Nazi redneck.

Or, you could ask them to think for half a second about why historically Jews ever became associated with the trade of money lending? About how vilified groups use certain portable trades to survive? About the hypocritical contempt hosed on those who lend money and the laws that have simultaneously allowed private lending arrangements as a necessary evil of society - and encouraged hatred of those who offer the service?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:17 AM on November 19, 2007



Or, you could ask them to think for half a second about why historically Jews ever became associated with the trade of money lending? About how vilified groups use certain portable trades to survive? About the hypocritical contempt hosed on those who lend money and the laws that have simultaneously allowed private lending arrangements as a necessary evil of society - and encouraged hatred of those who offer the service?


But it's a game you can't win, if the person is preoccupied with hating Jews/aka "wants to face the facts." They can always say: look at the Rotschilds, look at Hollywood, you're going to tell me that those Jewish pricks aren't keeping me down? Or they can say: yes, the Jews were forced into being moneylenders, but the Medici weren't ripping off the white race all the time.

With a particular phrasing of the question, the racist conclusion is inevitable.
posted by nasreddin at 6:25 AM on November 19, 2007


"With a particular phrasing of the question, the racist conclusion is inevitable."


nasreddin

Thanks for answering without screaming at me! (truly).
Anecdotally, I did make a dirtbag think for a couple of seconds with the sort of politely argumentative stuff I mentioned.

A drop in the ocean, I know...anyway, thanks for your courtesy.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:52 AM on November 19, 2007


The achievement gap is "absolutely, positively not genetic."
posted by cousincozen at 7:26 AM on November 19, 2007


If you wish to study a granfalloon,
remove the skin from a toy balloon.
posted by anotherbrick at 7:29 AM on November 19, 2007


We're linking to vdare now? Seriously, what the fuck?
posted by chunking express at 7:46 AM on November 19, 2007


True, and yet I keep going back to it, and I have to say it's useful in that it's giving me valuable lessons in who's a complete fucktard and can be ignored in future.

HA! I'm even further above this thread than you because I'M keeping a list of who's keeping a list of who can be ignored in the future. Bow before my meta-aloofness.
posted by jsonic at 7:49 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


But a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.
posted by cousincozen at 7:50 AM on November 19, 2007


race [an artificial construct that doesn't exist]

I'm glad to know that there's no racism in the United States, because it can't exist anywhere. Thanks, KokuRyu!
posted by oaf at 8:07 AM on November 19, 2007


Oh go to hell, delmoi. It seems obvious to me that you don't understand what I'm trying to say. And they way you go about this makes it ludicrous to try to convince you. You seem to be willfully ignoring everything I say. And you defend your position in such a pathetically unoriginal way!

Forget this - you guys say we'll never understand, and it seems clear to me that you'll never understand (or don't want to) so let's just leave it at that.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:15 AM on November 19, 2007


Watson wasn't right. Thanks for asking!
posted by algreer at 8:27 AM on November 19, 2007


Oh go to hell, delmoi. It seems obvious to me that you don't understand what I'm trying to say.

What you're saying seems pretty clear to me. It's that since there is geographic genetic variation, it's possible that people from different places in the world have a different baseline general intelligence.

But the problem is that we can't measure those differences without being confounded by the effect of the social construct of race in those outcomes. Education, nutrition, early childhood development, and on and on affect intelligence, and none of those things are genetic, but they do very with the social construct of race.

Just because you don't want to talk about the social construct doesn't remove it from the equation. Religion is a social construct but look at the Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq. Social constructs are very real.

But the other problem is that you really just don't seem to understand how to read science or make scientific arguments. You claimed that because a post on a (crypto-racist) website cited a bunch of work, it was accurate. But misleading, cherrypicked citation is Crank 101.

You also appear to have problems grasping the concept of how social environment might dominate any attempt to measure the genetic component of race.

And of course, it's amazing that you could think that this stuff shouldn't be offensive, If I could prove that someone's mother had sex with hundreds of men, it would still be offensive if I called someone's mother a whore.

And look, I do feel kind of bad, you're just not sharp enough to understand these things, so trying to have a discussion is impossible.
posted by delmoi at 9:21 AM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


And of course, it's amazing that you could think that this stuff shouldn't be offensive, If I could prove that someone's mother had sex with hundreds of men, it would still be offensive if I called someone's mother a whore.

(In other words, it would be offensive even if it was true, which it's probably not)
posted by delmoi at 9:23 AM on November 19, 2007


Man, from how stupid everyone in this thread is acting, they must all be black.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


I THINK MOST OF YOU ARE DUMB AS ROCKS.
posted by quonsar at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Good to know quonsar's a rockist.
*makes note*
posted by Floydd at 10:26 AM on November 19, 2007


two kids raised in the same household raised by the same parents

You and your sister aren't twins. You didn't grow up in the same household, and weren't raised by the same parents.

From a genetic standpoint there ain't no such thing as "race", and that's what they mean when they say "scientifically invalid".

You're telling me race isn't inheritable? Perhaps you should go try to teach corn to grow in Siberia, since you think genetics is a bourgeouis pseudoscience.

Apparently, Australia has some of the lowest average IQ people on the planet

They elected John Howard, didn't they?

the question is whether the genes that do affect intelligence are genes that very among races

Right now, the answer isn't "yes." It isn't "no," either. It's "we don't know." Whatever effect there is is so slight that it's virtually imperceptible when compared to what your mom ate when she was pregnant with you.
posted by oaf at 10:39 AM on November 19, 2007


> the problem is that we can't measure those differences without being confounded by the effect
> of the social construct of race in those outcomes. Education, nutrition, early childhood
> development, and on and on affect intelligence, and none of those things are genetic, but they
> do very with the social construct of race.

Such confounding happens all the time, in all kinds of investigation, without making investigators throw up their hands in despair or making those areas of investigation taboo. Very (very!) many constructs that yield measureable differences between instances can and do get conflated with common-language concepts that seem similar in some ways but carry lots of excess baggage. The proper response, from a strictly scientific point of view, is to refine the construct under investigation, or the methods of measurement operationally defined (actually it's hard not to do both at once, they're pretty much the same thing) so as to dump the excess baggage.

In the case of differences between groups of humans, when those differences may turn out to be genetically based or have an important genetically heritable component, somehow the attitude has crystallized in a certain crowd (I am not thinking of delmoi here) that one should not pursue such investigations at all since they can lead to nothing but wicked and dangerous thought.

The attitude has cropped up before. As the bishop of Winchester's wife said in the 19th century, when she first heard about evolution, "Descended from apes! My dear, let us hope it is not so; but if it is, let us hope that it does not become generally known." (1)

One notes that it did become generally known. And Watson is surely right in expecting that genetically based differences among groups of humans will be either pulled out and shown to exist in spite of any attitudes, or else shown not to exist in a way that carries more scientific conviction than is now possible, within a decade or so.

----------
(1) widely quoted, with slightly different wording--this version from Time, and the same wording appears in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.
posted by jfuller at 11:03 AM on November 19, 2007


The whole point of this discussion is that the answer can never be known, due to the fact that the idea of "race" is both biological and social. Yes, biological race refers to area of ancestral origin and the physical development of melanin in response to UV exposure in that geographic area, and is thus not constructive to consider categorically, but the social aspect of our racial definitions define a multitude of other factors that have been mentioned upthread numerous times. In summation, this is a null issue because it's impossible to measure. As some have indicated, there are dozens of factors that effect the outcome of an individual's IQ test that are related to social systems that may have had their roots in racial disparities or classifications. So why all the bluster?

I don't personally believe that race, as defined biologically, has anything to do with innate intelligence; however, it's impossible to extract the various factors that contribute to race and it's impact on an individual to the degree required by a scientific analysis of this idea.

Basically, what delmoi said.
posted by baphomet at 11:13 AM on November 19, 2007


Uh, no, but the only people who would actually care about that information are forensic scientists and child murders.

You think? It it was my kid that had had their throat slashed by a butter knife, I'd also want those providing emergency care to know how long they had before the child was likely to die. Accurate knowledge of such things might mean the difference between their survival and their being completely wiped out.

In fact, if I were the parent of such a child, I'd be pretty pissed off if I found out that people actually had such information but had failed to share it with those best able to make use of it and my kid died as a consequence out of some bizzare but paternalistic concern for my sensibilities as a parent.

Applicability to this thread is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:32 AM on November 19, 2007


On reflection, I retract the word 'bizzare' in the above statement. I actually don't think trying to avoid hurting people's feelings or causing them unnecessary pain is a bizzare thing to do. I just think it can sometimes have unintended negative consequences.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:37 AM on November 19, 2007


Someone tell me when there's a measurable definition of intelligence like there is for voltage or mass, and then maybe it would be appropriate to have a nature/nurture debate about it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2007


Delmoi -

I don't think our positions are so distant, despite the venom.
Please take 10 sec to read what I wrote earlier:

The social constructs of races are real, important, and certainly more influential on a person's life, character, and capabilities than their genetic ancestry. That's not the issue. The issue is that people are denying that the genetic ancestry part can't possibly have any effect, which seems silly to me because they are just arbitrarily setting aside a set of traits as locked.

And you said, summarizing my position:

...since there is geographic genetic variation, it's possible that people from different places in the world have a different baseline general intelligence.

I think that's overstating it a bit, I'm talking about something a little subtler and more modular than "baseline general intelligence." I'm talking about intellectual functions like types of pattern recognition, methods of learning, and so on, different kinds of which would have different fitnesses in different environments.

I am in agreement with you! The social constructs of race and all the things associated with them are more important, I just don't want to exclude genetic ancestry from the equation out of hand. I don't predict it one way or the other, and I don't think we have the ability right now to even accurately do so - I'm saying that to summarily dismiss the idea is a mistake.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:41 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


You think? It it was my kid that had had their throat slashed by a butter knife, I'd also want those providing emergency care to know how long they had before the child was likely to die.

Okay, but that's not what the origional question was

i could come up with a scientific inquiry into how long, on average, it would take me to cut a 4 year old's throat with a dull butter knife, but do you seriously think i should do that?

In other words, how long would it actually take to cut, not how long after the kid would live.

I don't think our positions are so distant, despite the venom.

Riiight. Look, let me see if you can understand this. Obviously not all scientists studying this are racists. On the other hand some of them are especially when you get into people like the writers on GNXP, VDARE, etcera. It's a gradient, you start with normal science, and you see that get corrupted gradually into more crankery, more racist, etc. Just like the global warming debate or something like intelligent design.

If someone spouts something about how global warming or evolution is a myth, you'd dismiss them as a shill for big oil, or religious, or whatever. But the problem is a lot of this race stuff is just brought up by racist, who distort science the same way the global warming denier does. So the obvious conclusion when people like William Salatin, Steve Sailor, The Bell Curve guys, the conclusion you might draw is that they have ulterior motives, especially since they think it is so important that the general public knows and thinks about these things (which, again, is mostly corrupted, not pure, science)
posted by delmoi at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2007


Here you go, Blazecock: the BITCH test. (sample)

Kind of dated (and tongue-in-cheek), but it's not like this subject warrants a dignified response.

One thing I have noticed, though: Metafilter is typically swarming with doctors, biologists and people well versed in genetics, but none of those people ever touch threads like these. It must be because they fear the truth!

Or because the whole "DNA--->gene--->expression--->protein--->???--->brain function--->intelligence--->profit!!" string of logic that seems to be implicit in the assumptions of this argument's proponents is such a daisy chain of guessing and unsupportability as to be absurd. Or hey, maybe some other reason! My last genetics course was ten years ago so there may have been dozens of innovations and Nobel Prizes given out while my back was turned.
posted by tyro urge at 4:05 PM on November 19, 2007


Scientists want to study the relationship between race and intelligence in order to keep the black man down?

racists do - it's my impression that a lot of scientists don't want to touch this

It sounds to me as though you believe that there is such a relationship,

between the two different social constructs of race and intelligence?

how can one find an objective relationship between two subjective concepts?

but it's better to just not talk about it or think about it because to do so may have undesirable political consequences?

may have?

frankly, i'm sick of political, social and "scientific" arguments and ideas that concentrate on arbitrary collectives rather than an individual

it is somewhat meaningful to say that person x has a low i q, although i have reservations about that - it's pretty useless for someone to take an ill defined, arbitrary concept such as race and then attempt to measure the people classified under that with another ill defined, arbitrary concept such as "intelligence" - you keep saying that it could be useful, but i don't see how one can find out ANYTHING useful from such sloppy, nebulous concepts

except of course that racists love sloppy, nebulous concepts that reinforce their prejudices
posted by pyramid termite at 5:51 PM on November 19, 2007


This is a pretty embarrassing thread, not MeFi's finest hour. MeFi does not do race well and this is exhibit no. 1.

Anyway, on an unrelated note from way up top: I have an IQ of 180, yet I have done fuck-all with my life except sit around and be a loser, smoke dope and drink myself into alcoholism. So much for high IQ. You know, society is pretty fucking hard on intelligent people. The way they are treated, especially as kids by their schools, would make a great post some day, and perhaps already has a few times. This is a big axe grinding issue with me as my children are bearing the brunt of this, and to some extent so did my wife and I, but I think things are even worse now. I am sure that many people here can relate and that is part of the attraction. This is sort of the anti-Fark, yet still fun.
posted by caddis at 6:45 PM on November 19, 2007


Oh, and don't forget that intelligent people have fewer kids. Being to smart doesn't have much Darwinian fitness in our society
posted by delmoi at 9:58 PM on November 19, 2007


Being to smart doesn't have much Darwinian fitness in our society
doesn't have much Darwinian fitness in our society


Exactly. "Being too smart doesn't have much Darwinian fitness in our society."
posted by ericb at 11:15 PM on November 19, 2007


there is quite often cultural biases in questioning.

It would be an interesting exercise to design an IQ test that would advantage African-Americans.

Brilliant! I would love to see it as well.


Just take any standard IQ score and subtract it from 200.
posted by metaplectic at 7:04 AM on November 20, 2007


????
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 AM on November 20, 2007


delmoi and ericb:

id be careful extrapolating that observation too far (although it was funny in idiocracy).

lets say you are rich and smart, in other words you command a lot of financial and mental resources. having less kids means you can share more of those resources with each kid, and since those resources cant really be separated from the fitness equation in this society, chances are your kid will do better. point is when you climb up the social ladder, more isnt necessarily better.

likewise, poorer / dumber folks dont have resources to share, hence having more kids maximizes the (non-zero) probability that one of them will "make it" in the world (e.g. britney spears) and agglomerate resources for your family

course none of this would have much to do with evolution anyway, since the time scales are all nowhere near one another :)

caddis: your kids sound oversensitive. being a kid sucks, and just because they are smart doesnt mean people owe them an easy ride. and i was the same way, i got over it. hopefully, they will too. in the mean time, your poor probably-destined-to-be-rich-and-on-top-of-the-world kids might be advanced enough to understand that through high school is basically the soon to be working slobs getting their licks in while they can, so sit tight and try not to be an asshole when the shoe is on the other foot (which will be the rest of their lives)!
posted by mano at 8:23 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just take any standard IQ score and subtract it from 200.

lovely.
posted by mayfly wake at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2007


Hmmm. . . curious what the racial demographics of MeFi look like. . .
posted by flotson at 11:00 AM on November 20, 2007


Well going by meet-up photographs it would appear MetaFilter is a whole other kind of White.
posted by chunking express at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2007


One thing I have noticed, though: Metafilter is typically swarming with doctors, biologists and people well versed in genetics, but none of those people ever touch threads like these. It must be because they fear the truth!

"The truth" does not exsit as a thing.

Race does not exist as a thing.

IQ does not exist as a thing.

And, ironically, being smart is knowing how much of the so-called truth is usually about racism.
posted by Brian B. at 5:51 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think we should end this thread with a recent commentary by mathematician and author, John Derbyshire, which I believe offers an explanation for the predominant muddled thinking demonstrated by many here. In my opinion, it's more akin to a fashion thing than anything else, and it's not something that's come into existence unaided. But, as Groucho Marx said: "Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?"
posted by cousincozen at 10:06 AM on November 21, 2007


Stop linking to VDare, you racist asshole. And fuck off.
posted by nasreddin at 10:23 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

:)
posted by cousincozen at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2007


From the vdare article:
So as part of my 14-year-old daughter's public education, she is to be exposed to the details of a venereal disease propagated mainly by promiscuous homosexuals and revolting Third World customs, and she will be encouraged to believe that this is a matter of general public concern, relevant to her life and personal development.
Are you fucking shitting me? What was I supposed to learn from that article?
posted by chunking express at 10:34 AM on November 21, 2007


cousincozen, you are a race traitor - you betray your humanity. How rare and precious this human birth; you are wasting yours in ignorance and fear; and worse, seeking to share the poison that has bought you low.
posted by Abiezer at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


I guess that smiley wasn't cutting it for you?
posted by chunking express at 11:42 AM on November 21, 2007


I think we should end this thread with a recent commentary by mathematician and author, John Derbyshire,

Well, I guess you don't have much say in the matter now, being banned and all.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 PM on November 21, 2007


followup in slate basically explaining why this article is wrong.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on December 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


There is nothing special about IQ tests that makes them show race differences. Races are different on practically any measure you choose to look at. In fact the races are more alike on IQ than on many other measures (political power, income, wealth, graduate degrees, crime rates, etc.).

I do have to defend the objectivity of mental testing though. People often attack IQ testing as politically compromised science (S.J. Gould). However, if you actually look at the debate it is pretty clear that it is the attackers of IQ testing that tend to have strong political and idealogical motivations (like S.J. Gould, and 3/4 of the posters on this thread). Most of the people engaged in IQ testing are run-of-the-mill social scientists interesting in intelligence and education (Spearmen, Binet, Cronbach, Weschler, Jensen, Cattell, Carroll, Horn, Snow). These were not people with any kind of agenda. Or rather, the only agenda they had was to help kids, improve education, and foster scientific progess. 90% of the posters on this thread are utterly uninformed. Stop posting and start reading.
posted by Paladin165 at 5:54 PM on December 8, 2007


I don't think the argument is that the IQ test is purposefully designed to privilege white western folks-- the argument is that because the IQ test was created in a specific (white, western) context, there are assumptions of worldview and experience built into the test that make folks from another context have a more difficult time with the test than those who are comfortable in the test's assumed context.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on December 9, 2007


90% of the posters on this thread are utterly uninformed. Stop posting and start reading.

Christ almighty, that is some arrogant shit. If people hold differing viewpoints from you they are uninformed?? We need to stop posting and reading?? Just because I hold the viewpoint that IQ tests privilege a certain portion of the population dos not make me uninformed. I am rather well read on this subject, what exactly makes your opinion unassailable?
posted by anansi at 12:34 PM on December 9, 2007


Or rather, the only agenda they had was to help kids, improve education, and foster scientific progess.

If that was their agenda, they failed at it. So we are to take them more seriously now?
posted by Brian B. at 1:44 PM on December 9, 2007


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