Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

That which must not be said - and why it must be

Dr. James Watson at 79 should be used to controversy by now. Evidently he is known as somewhat of a loose cannon at scientific conferences for coming up with off-the-wall statements on all kinds of subjects, not always related to his area of competence.

However, now he's gone and done it. While on a tour to promote his new book, he not only said something on a taboo subject, but one that is disturbingly close to his area of expertise. So of course, he has to be shouted down.

The basic story is: he told a newspaper interviewer that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospects of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really." He further said that while there is a natural desire to believe all people are equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

As a result, his tour was terminated and he was dismissed from his 40-year tenure as chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. He is also being denounced as a racist in the US and Britain.

He has issued an apology but it doesn't look like it's going to do him much good. It may well be that for the rest of his life, his reputation will be overshadowed by this one incident.

Now note something please, he is everywhere being condemned for his statements, nowhere are they being answered.

"Why is it necessary to answer racist hate speech?" I can hear.

Fair question, and I'll offer an answer of my own. First though, let me direct your attention to Dr. Thomas Sowell, who I have written about here http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2007/04/review-conflict-of-visions-by-thomas.html

Dr. Sowell is African-American, and that's probably the first thing you'd notice about him if you met him. Superficial perhaps, but that's just the way it is. What you'd notice after reading his books and articles or speaking with him at length, is that he's a genius polymath.

Dr. Sowell has dealt with the question of racial differences in IQ scores in a highly controversial manner. What he did was to strip the question of the emotional freight it carries and treat it as a straightforward hypothesis.

His examination of the question is fascinating and goes into factors of geography, ecology, history and culture. One of the overlooked facts he found was, that while gaps in average IQ scores have persisted, overall scores are rising for every group. The "average" score (100 on the Stanford-Binet) has had to be re-normed every generation, or we'd all be living in Lake Woebegone, where "all children are above average."

I urge you to look up Dr. Sowell's writings, but bottom line is: a number of factors, taken individually or in combination, are sufficient to explain differences in average IQ scores among racial/ethnic groups. He concluded that a heredity hypothesis is simply not needed.

So why do I think it is necessary to even consider such controversial ideas?

Because treating the question as a taboo subject that polite people do not bring up may have done immeasurable harm to millions of Africans.

No sub-Saharan African country's population has average IQ scores much above 80. This is a fact that makes people avert their eyes and pretend not to see.

That's why they miss that one of the most important reason contributing to this may a high incidence of cretinism caused by a dietary deficiency of iodine common over much of the continent, that drags the average down.

In other words, the unwillingness to even look at the question prevents addressing a problem that could be fixed for literally pennies per person. For heaven's sake, making Morton's iodized salt widely available could fix it!

Other factors are no doubt significant, and a subject for another discussion. Point is, declaring any subject taboo does more harm than good. Liberals used to harp on this constantly when it concerned sex, why is it any different for intelligence?

P.S. I've been called a racist plenty of times, for writings on subjects that had nothing to do with race, and I expect that this time will probably be no different. But before you do, please do me the courtesy of reading what I have said on the subject:

Racism, some questions http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2007/02/racism-some-questions.html

Racism versus culturism http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/11/racism-versus-culturism.html


  • At 4:49 PM, Blogger Galt-In-Da-Box said…

    "Racist", like "antisemite" is more leftist jingoism than reality, anymore.
    It's what comes from the mouths of PC-brain-filthied robots when they blank out that with which they don't want to deal.
    In this particular case, no one but perhaps yourself has dared to even consider the idea this issue has next to nothing to do with color, and almost everything to do with culture.


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