Robert, thanks for this, very helpful. By the way, over the past year or so those who believe in a race/IQ connection have gotten very excited about the findings of University of Chicago geneticist Bruce Lahn's publication in my own journal, Science, of genes possibly linked to human cognition, under recent natural selection, and which have an allele distribution suggesting Africans are disadvantaged (microcephalin and ASPM.) Many here may have followed this. In December I wrote a profile of Lahn for Science which raised the social and political issues with a sidebar looking at recent scientific challenges to these interpretations. The articles can be found here: Science 22 December 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5807, pp. 1871 - 1873. But if anyone does not have access to Science online and wants to email me offlist, I will be happy to send the pdfs.

best, Michael

On 2/20/07, Robt Mann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Josť Morales has opened an important theme.
But in doing so he wrote:


my thesis advisor ...  asked me what if researchers had completed a study and found that white people were of superior intelligence to people of color, would I believe the conclusions?  What if the study was rock solid, completely water tight.  Then I went through a series of questions and caveats and he replied yes this study took that into account.  Ultimately, the idea was that all possible criticisms from all corners (people of color, civil libertarians etc.) were taken into account and controlled for.  Would I believe it?  I said, well if all these possible concerns and questions were taken into account and controlled for, I'd have to believe that all white people are of superior intelligence to all people of color.  He said, OK you will be a good scientist.

        Josť's msg doesn't look generally careless or unexamined, so I take this as he states it.
        The idea that 'white people were of superior intelligence to people of color' rocketed to prominence while I was a grad student at Berkeley, where education prof Arthur Jensen stated it (in the form of a difference in IQ medians &/or means &/or modes   -  any or all will serve for present purposes, I suppose  -  between some whites and some Afro-Americans).  The nature of this contention, and of the conclusions from all the IQ measures which were purged from the Stanford-Binet IQ test suite if they showed any difference between men and women, is overlapping distributions with different means.
        Has anyone said 'all white people are of superior intelligence to all people of color'  -  at least during the past century or so?  Is the assertion deserving of serious discussion these days?  Everyone who has experienced a sample >100 of each knows the most stupid whites are far less intelligent than a clever non-white.  The notion of any race whose intelligence distribution fails to overlap those of all other races is contrary to obvious fact.
        Similarly, the slogan 'the Slavs are sub-human' is obviously false.  But it was a major defining slogan of the Nazi party, which you had to assent to if you wanted the social security that was available in Germany for a decade by open adherence to that party.  I postulate that it's in the nature of totalitarian systems to require assent to slogans which are not subtly but flagrantly false &/or immoral.
        What Josť says he would assent to if research concluded it rock-solidly is known to every experienced adult, whether educated or not, to be false.  I am loath to believe that he or anyone else on this list could ever assent to it, whether or not some scientists had asserted it with whatever authority & 'evidence'.
        I focus on this slide from 'race W is, on average, of superior intelligence to race C' to  'all  people of race W are of superior intelligence to all people of race C' because this same fallacy often occurs in polemics about sexism.  In my experience, even when the postulated distributions are drawn with very large extents of overlap (on a paper napkin at lunch in a U staff club), fanatical wimminsLibbers are capable of promptly threatening violence, complaining as if what had been asserted was 'all men are of superior intelligence to all women'.  Such a raver is immediately escorted out of the building, but when outside fails to give any excuse for decking her.  I have seen that mode of argumentation countless times, which is why it interests me now when it comes from Josť (wrt race not sex).
        BTW supposing the Jensen/Shockley-type conclusion had been proven, wouldn't it follow that the disadvantaged group should get special help in education, medicine, nutrition,   ...  ?  That was my response 4 decades ago when those who fancied themselves as radicals vilified Jensen (of whose work I knew nothing else); and is still my answer.  Racial differences entailed in sickle-cell anaemia should be admitted (when proven), and acted upon.  It is not racist to say so.  Why is intelligence utterly different?
        I must add that I'm very sceptical of IQ and far from convinced that the Jensen conclusion describes anything important.  But since Josť has postulated the condition of its being thoroughly meaningful & proven, I want to respond on his reaction to that imagined state of affairs.

        If what Josť said was, instead, an oversight in his writing, then I would like to hear discussion of psychological patterns of this type, which can cause a certain amount of misunderstanding & trouble.





Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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