Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Bell Curve, part deux

That’s James D. Watson – Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix – on the cover of tomorrow’s Independent newspaper in London.

You guys ready for another media carnival ride through the world’s most dangerous topic: race and intelligence?

Matt Drudge links to the Independent’s news story tonight.

According to the article, Watson told the Sunday Times of London that “Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts.”

That October 14 Sunday Times article is online here.

The fact that Watson’s out there plugging a new book leads me to believe this thing might grow into a “Bell Curve”-sized controversy.


SJ said...

Wow quite astonishing. And to think a premier biologist said that...I don't know what to say.

jena6 said...

Is having a Nobel Prize supposed to validate this? This such make a lot of bigots happy.

The article mentions that he "argued in favour of genetic screening and engineering on the basis that 'stupidity' could one day be cured." Hope he volunteers for that trial when the time comes.

dez said...

Can they make him give the Nobel back?

Bay Radical said...

Eh, Watson and Crick didn't really discover DNA anyway.

(And the Nobel Prize is pretty sullied already - it doesn't get much worse than Henry Kissinger winning the peace prize. Except maybe when F.W. de Klerk won it.)

S.O.L. said...


Why do you give Matt Drudge the time of day? The same goes for Ann Coulter.

You're way too smart for those morons. I'm just saying.

Thordaddy said...

What exactly is so controversial other than the fact that Dr. Watson spoke "truth to power?" Is speaking against liberal pieties a crime in the 21st century?

If you believe in evolution, as most scientists and liberals do, then you must accept the consequences of such beliefs. Have all humans evolved equally...? Preposterous... Can evolutionary differences be marked by skin color...? Certainly... Are all humans equally intelligent...? Hardly... Can intelligence be differentiate by geography and skin color...? Why not???

ItAintEazy said...

As a recent grad in biological sciences, this has to hurt me the most, since we've been told every semester how brilliant the Watson/Crick pair (and yes, bay radical, even Rosalind Franklin to a lesser extent, sadly).

And Thordaddy, learn about the subject before spouting nonsense. Like how there are more genetic differences within a so-called racial group instead of across them, and how if races are not evolutionarily divergent if members can have viable offsprings across racial lines

Amber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber said...

Ah, yes. This reminds of good times as "that black girl" in my mostly white k-12 education. For some reason, I was deathly afraid of seeming stupid--even though I was in gifted classes, scored a perfect verbal on the SAT, and simultaneously had (have?) an intellectual ego the size of China...

Isn't it refreshing that Watson's brand of assholery is represented as good-ol', stick-it-to-the liberals forthrightness in the Sunday Times' butt-kissing profile by a "former protegee?" Those pesky feminists "are a constant source of trouble for him," apparently. I don't know why those feminazis (or just plain women, regular human beings, or even the pro-lifers) would be concerned when he posed this hypothetical:

“If you could detect it [homosexuality] pre-natally, could a woman abort a child who was homosexual? I said they should have the right to, because most women want to have grandchildren, period. We can’t do it, but it’s common sense. Anyways,” he says, shaking his head wearily, “it was a bad day when that headline hit. I was just arguing for the freedom of women to try and have the children they want, not what is right or wrong.”

Oh, yeah. Eugenics masquerading as "choice." Such a misunderstood man!

Did the interviewer even think of challenging him?

"He says that he is "inherently gloomy about the prospect 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”, and I know that this “hot potato” is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."

So she lets him natter on with his racist views, and since addressing them would be "difficult," she just frames his incendiary comments as "calculated. Not maliciously, but with the mischievous air of a great mind hoping to be challenged." Oh, it's so reassuring when sexism and racism are cloaked in the armor of intellectual debate and academic freedom! No wonder Watson has found that "there’s no [minorities] to recruit" to his Harlem "DNA learning centre." Because when I look for an employer, my first criteria is that he view me and my people as intellectually inferior.

It's all right though, according to the author, since his driver thinks he's a nice guy:

“Dr Watson’s so kind and still very young at heart,” he drawls as we leave the campus behind. “He’s got a lot of curiosity about everything and he’s always working. But to him it isn’t work: it’s a challenge to the mind. And if he runs into a problem, it’s fun time.”

This article gave me a migraine.

RC said...

I can easily predict that you and cNulan and also the wonderful Auster will be having some heated exchanges shortly. Take your argument vitamins UBM, you'll be needing them.
Perhaps you can just let cNulan go at Auster directly and you can just enjoy the melee.
I'll have to run down the interview and see if there is any factual information involved or it's just poorly done research.
When one realizes that so many of the advanced scientists and engineers in the states now are imported from around the world it would perhaps be extrapolated that all Americans of all races are dumbing down to where they just can't do the heavy mathematical and research lifting. Maybe we should advance that theory which seems to have some data to back it up.

Undercover Black Man said...

RC, you seem to think I enjoy acrimonious exchanges with racialists. I’m just a squirrel out here trying to get a nut.

Racial differences in intelligence is a fascinating subject... but I hesitate to delve into it because it triggers such hot wrath from leftist egalitarian enforcers who don’t want the matter legitimized at all through public discoure, and who bandy about terms like “scientific racism” to shut conversations down.

But there is no idea which I fear. I’ll talk about anything.

So, if there be any committed egalitarians out there who can keep a civil tongue, let me present one challenging piece of information – call me the Blue-Eyed-Devil’s Advocate – and see what kind of discussion it leads to:

I think we can all agree that playing chess is an activity that requires what’s called “intelligence” (abstract thinking geared towards problem-solving).

In the 57 years that the World Chess Federation has been ranking world-class players, only one black person has attained the title of Grandmaster: Jamaican-born American Maurice Ashley in 1999.

There are about 1,100 Grandmasters in the world... and Mr. Ashley remains the only one of African descent.

Does this mean anything?

The World Chess Federation also ranks nations according to the average rating of each nation’s top 10 players. By that ranking, the top five countries in terms of the quality of its chess players are: Russia, Ukraine, Israel, the United States, Armenia.

China ranks 8th.

India ranks 14th.

Cuba ranks 23rd.

Egypt ranks 55th.

The Dominican Republic ranks 74th.

The highest-ranking nation from sub-Saharan Africa is South Africa in 79th place. And only two of its top 10 players are black.

Again I ask: Does this tell us anything meaningful about the world?

Bryan Wilhite said...

"Africans are less intelligent than Westerners" is an unintelligent statement as the continent of Africa is not in the orient---Africa is in the occident, which makes it black full of "Westerners."

These media exercises are designed to keep Negroes more busy and more confused. Watson is just pissed off because he knows with scientific accuracy that his DNA is recessive and mine is not. It would be demeaning of me to tell him to suck my dick.

msl said...

I don't think the chess rankings tell us anything meaningful because I remember reading, I think it was in "Searching for Bobby Fischer", that in order to be able to play chess at a Grandmaster level, you must begin serious play and study before the age of ten. So, unless you come from a family seriously interested in chess, or attend a school where students are taught chess in the elementary grades, as I understand they do in some New York private schools, you can never be a world class chess player.

Bay Radical said...

UBM, Come on, surely you agree that access to resources impacts a person's ability to achieve. Not to mention cultural values that emphasize certain skills over others.

If you come from a family of chess players, you go to a school with a chess club, or your dad can afford to give you chess lessons, doesn't that make you more likely to become a chess champ?

Conversely, if you're dealing with extreme poverty, as a large percentage of sub-Saharan African residents are (sorry, too lazy to google stats right now, but you can agree with that right?), aren't you forced to focus on daily survival rather than sports like Chess?

On a cultural values note - I'll bet that most Go champions are Japanese. Is that because Japanese people are smarter than everyone else in the world? Or is that because Go was invented in Japan, and so more kids grow up playing Go, and studying Go in Japan than anywhere else?

Sure, there are always exceptions. There are always people who are drawn to practices that aren't prioritized within their own families or cultures, and there are always people who manage to succeed in their fields despite crushing poverty or other life circumstances that keep most people in similar circumstances out, but when you look at human 'success' in any specialty – chess, business, music, whatever, can you see patterns forming around both areas of cultural prioritization, and access to education, money, or just to basic resources like getting enough to eat?

When it comes to something like chess, isn't it possible that plain old nepotism plays a role too?

Do you really believe that any kid can grow up to be president, or is it possible that some kids have access to education, resources, connections, etc that make them more able to succeed in certain fields than others are?

The Pop View said...

It seems to me that I recall that IQ tests, as created by Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon, were really intended to test judgment and how well you had learned your culture: "It seems to us that in intelligence there is a fundamental faculty, the alteration or lack of which is of the utmost importance for practical life. This faculty is judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative, the faculty of adapting oneself to circumstances. To judge well, to reason well, these are the essential activities of intelligence..."

But even if we take IQ tests with a grain of salt and view them in the appropriate context, has anyone really proved black people are less intelligent -- as opposed to less educated, which is a different issue?

Thembi said...

thordaddy - I would love to see you try and define 'intelligence' since no one has done a very good job at doing so. And I'm not talking about SATS or chess either. These are all things that only have importance within a social and cultural context - not everyone is aspiring to master these mainstream forms of 'intelligence' and this is a major division between the 'races' or whatever term they're using these days for something that doesn't really exist.

The debate on how to assess problem solving skills, the closest thing to 'intelligence' in modern psychometrics, is ongoing with no expectation that it will ever be settled. And experts plainly point to numerous biases that cannot be removed from assessments no matter what - the measures will always assume a base, and that base will always be within a cultural context - like bay radical said, IQ really means how well one has learned their culture. I work at the company where the SATS and various other tests are made so this is standard fodder for water cooler convo.

Watson is a biologist, but above all else a CHEMIST - his Nobel Prize was for work at the cellular level, not in psychology, sociology, or even evolutionary biology. And thanks, bay radical for reminding us who really made the discovery!

susie said...

He speaks like an anachronism. Can he actually prove what he's saying empirically, and if so how?

There are so many external variables that come into play in the development and measurement of intelligence and that is where I think the differences in culture can effect outcomes.

If you're talking just biology I can't imagine that race would make much of a difference across the board since human intelligence falls into the same percentages of high and low with a big middle ground. The high and the low are not represented more heavily by one race or another.

My observation is that the biggest variable is economics. To live in the incredible stress of extreme poverty and to not have enough food to eat has all kinds of biological repurcussions and reverberations.

It's amazing to me that in the United States intelligence seems to be trending downward. I got a dramatic illustration of why this might be when I helped to relocate a family who lost everything in Katrina to California. They were a nice couple, white, early 20s, with an 18 month old son whom they fed a regular diet of hot dogs and diet Pepsi.

It's what they grew up eating. Having an abudance of food doesn't make much difference if you're eating trash.

Race has nothing at all to do with innate intelligence. But to say it does will get you all kinds of press.

Thordaddy said...

Again, many want to believe in MET, but then they want to contend with its consequences when it doesn't suit one's political objectives.


What in MET precludes differences in intelligence based on race...? Nothing I say. What do you say???

And of course, as usual, when some particular phenomena violates some liberal piety then we commence with playing the game of "what is race...? "What is intelligence...? Well, what is racism then???

Dougfp said...

Thordaddy, why don't you just come out and say what you so obviously think? That whites are superior to blacks. Embrace your inner racist and stop being a pussy.

Caged Bird said...

Update for UBM: 1st sub-Saharan African Chess Grand Master: Zambian IM Amon Simutowe. He earned his 3rd GM norm with great fanfare at the 2007 Euwe Stimulus tournament in Arnhem, Netherlands becoming the 6th Grandmaster from the African continent and the 1st from the sub-Saharan region.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thank you, Caged Bird! Here is what Newsweek wrote about Amon Simutowe. I can’t believe he’s only 25 years old.

odocoileus said...

There is real, observable test score gap between members of the black American ethnic group and members of the white American ethnic group.

Where the white American mean is 100, black Americans typically score between 85 and 92. The gap varies from 8 to 15 points. It's real, it's persistent, and it has negative consequences for black Americans.

Standardized test scores are not trivial at all. They measure the kinds of thinking that are important in any advanced industrial society. So black Americans can't deal with the problem by pretending it isn't a problem. It is. It's a HUGE problem.

One thing we do know about the test score gap is that it's not genetically based. In spite of numerous claims to the contrary, Africans and West Indians raised in the Western industrialized world generally don't show the gap. They just don't have it. It's a black American thang.

The other problem with claims for a genetic cause is that black Americans aren't the genetic equivalent of Africans, and Africans themselves are incredibly genetically diverse.


On top of that, you've got to address the Flynn effect, and the fact that the human brain, like any supercomplex dynamic system composed of billions of parts, is subject to chaotic effects. That is to say, small differences in initial conditions can lead to huge
differences in outcomes. In pop culture we know it as the butterfly effect.

Given that standardized test performance is such a problem, I've always wondered, where are the black American equivalents of juku, the cram schools for exam prep that are looked on as more or less mandatory everywhere in East Asia.

That's why that racist old git, Watson, will have a positive effect. His insults will help motivate black Americans to start seriously addressing the problem, and stop pretending that it doesn't exist.

Thordaddy said...


I'm not a full-hearted believer in MET... Are you? But more directly, the purported empirical difference in intelligence between blacks and whites is every bit as plausible as the theory of "white racism" as the cause of all black people's ills.

You want to be offended by one theory but not the other, yet have no basis to be offended by either.

sherifffruitfly said...

(shrug) And black folks who don't think other black folks belong in spelling bees are better?

memomachine said...


As a conservative ...

1. Intelligence is overrated. I've known some remarkably intelligent people who could barely operate in the real world and some very attractive but not entirely bright people who were very successful.

If you're given a choice between genius and beauty, take beauty. It may be skin deep, but it's deep enough. :)

2. We are the cumulative result of our genetics and our environment. I'm positive that if Africans were subjected to an solid, stable environment where they didn't have to scramble after clean water, decent food and a place to sleep every single day that their supposed IQ would be just as good as anybody else.

When so many people in Africa cannot get so much as a decent meal, an IQ test is pretty low on the priority list.

3. IQ tests are little more than intellectual masturbation. The better you fit the demographic of the test writers, the better you'll do.

And I've known some very stupid people who've claimed very high IQ based on these tests.

Personally I think they're a waste of time.

Undercover Black Man said...

Memomachine: I don't think you truly believe intelligence is overrated or immeasurable.

Let's consider extremes: one person with Down Syndrome, and one person who engineers rockets. Then add an average functioning person.

It is meaningful to understand that one is of low intelligence, one is of high intelligence, and one is of average intelligence.

And this cognitive quality called "intelligence" is measurable. Administer an IQ test to the three individuals above, one will score low, one will score high, one will score in the middle.

"Intelligence" seems to be the only mental processs that is measurable... unlike, say, sanity, compassion, or sense of humor.

But intelligence isn't everything. Serial killers tend to be intelligent... they be playing chess on death row and shit... so there you go.

But that doesn't mean intelligence is meaningless.

You mention scrambling for clean water and food to eat... How do you think a problem like that gets solved on a societal level? Through the high-level cognitive process of problem-solving called "intelligence."

Thordaddy said...


So we see one of the many contradictions that manifest when one says things that violate liberal pieties. On the one hand is the claim of "racism" and then on the other hand is the claim that "intelligence" either means very little or is not definable at all. Again, the conformists are trying to have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

I mark any differences in average intelligence as measured by these tests down as a difference in opportunities. When you struggle to feed yourself, education is not a top priority. When life is easier, there's more time to enjoy more intellectual pursuits.

"On a cultural values note - I'll bet that most Go champions are Japanese."
I'd bet that most of them are Chinese, since the game was invented in China over 2,500 years ago and is known as Weiqi.

memomachine said...



1. I was joking, a little, about intelligence vs beauty, but not by all that much.

Intelligence by itself is completely worthless. Being smart is not a positive value unless coupled to other traits that can modify and multiply it's effects. The greatest genius in the history of mankind who has the no ambition or work ethic is useless.

I'd suggest a logical comparison between beauty, which requires no other attribute whatsoever, and intelligence, without ambition is useless, it is beauty that is the logical winner.

You can be a lazy genius but I doubt anybody would even notice you.

2. Intelligence can be measured, but the process of measuring requires use of techniques that are often bounded within a specific culture and that of the IQ test's writers.

If I present someone who doesn't have any English skills a test written in English, will that accurately determine the IQ of the testee? If I were to take a modern IQ test and go back in time to 1776 and give George Washington the test. Don't you think, even though he was fluent in English, that he'd have a hard time understanding what a "train" was? And where "Chicago" would be? And why a "train" would have any business going from "Boston" to "Chicago" in "4 hours"?

It's all cultural nonsense. Plus raw intelligence by itself isn't really correct. People have specific ares where they may have, or have not, greater ability. Consider the so called "idiot savant". These are individuals who would not rate being highly intelligent but who have genius level ability in one specific area.

3. You mention scrambling for clean water and food to eat... How do you think a problem like that gets solved on a societal level? Through the high-level cognitive process of problem-solving called "intelligence."

I'd suggest that just about anything *but* intelligence is used in such instances.

Consider Zimbabwe. Consider the vast numbers of intelligent people who've been brooding and mucking around with the issues in Zimbabwe.

The solution is to hang Mugabe and his cronies from the nearest tree and leave them for the crows.

Really. How much intelligence is required to know this? Not much. What is needed however is **will**. ON a societal level things are accomplished because of **will**, not intelligence.

Seriously. If someone came up to you and said "I've got the greatest idea in the universe! Let's build a big stone pyramid in the middle of a desert!" you'd think he was mad. However the Egyptians did so because they had the **will**.

Which is an entirely different trait.


*shrug* reality is reality. If reality weren't reality then it wouldn't be reality. In which case beautiful women would take one look at my towering intellect and drag me off to make babies.

... Not that this doesn't happen btw. :)

Amber said...


I think the rocket scientist, average Joe, Down syndrome sufferer comparison is a bit oversimplified.

Let's take a hypothetical comparison among equals. 3 Nobel Prize winners: a biologist, an author, and a politician. Let's further say that each of these people has an equal IQ of, oh, 165.

If intelligence is some sort of general force that can be equally applied, then shouldn't the biologist also be capable of glorious prose, the author capable of brokering complex agreements between warring peoples, and the politician discover a cure for a debilitating genetic disease? I don't really think so. High IQ does not automatically create Renaissance men and women. Intelligence is not duct tape!

For example, the politician isn't just a smart guy - he can understand the complex social and political systems that have led to war and use that understanding to sensitively communicate with both parties and draw them to common ground. But that doesn't mean he'd be great at understanding disease processes.

Their intelligence scores don't really get at their particular aptitude for certain types of mental tasks. That is what I see the problem of IQ as -- people purport it to be a measure of overall intelligence, but it totally skims over the particulars of different individuals' cognitive aptitudes. "Smart," "average," and "retarded" aren't terribly descriptive of the powers of a single human mind.

Undercover Black Man said...

Being smart is not a positive value unless coupled to other traits that can modify and multiply it's effects.

Memo: Part of the problem -- not just in our exchange here but in the larger mudfight surrounding intelligence -- is that you seem to be focused on intelligence as an individual characteristic... and Watson was talking about intelligence as a group characteristic.

If we can agree that "intelligence" is something real and quantifiable (and I'm still not sure why we can't)... then wouldn't it make sense that a society where the average IQ of the population is 90, and a society where the average IQ is 100, and a society where the average IQ is 110, would be different kinds of societies? For instance, in terms of technological advancement?

Undercover Black Man said...

"Smart," "average," and "retarded" aren't terribly descriptive of the powers of a single human mind.

Amber: Like memomachine, you're talking about IQ as an individual attribute, whereas the issue at hand is group IQ as a societal attribute.

My smart-average-retarded illustration was put forth simply to show that "intelligence" is something real and quantifiable. (Although, still, some people refuse to acknowledge even this.)

It takes the intelligence not only of one individual but of a population in order to, for instance, build and maintain an electrical-power infrastructure... or an effective health-care system.

Thembi said...

Just to be clear, as someone who works at a testing organization, we all have to remember that ALL assessments are statistically finalized. Meaning, if the test does not perform in the way that the stats would predict, then the test is no good. This means that if african americans DID score higher, the test would be declared inconsistent and not a good measure of the skills that are being tested!
This is why all tests come with interpretation guides that explain what different testakers SHOULD be scoring based on their preparation, age, race, and other demographics.

Thembi said...

Also lets all be careful not to confuse achievement with intelligence, or confuse genius with intelligence. The genius and the retard are anomolies - complete outliers on any bell curve that shouldnt come into play here.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thembi: I'm fascinated by psychometrics... and am aware of its effed-up history (like when Italian immigrants as a group were ranked as borderline-retarded). I don't know much about the subject, and ask full pardon for my ignorance.

But can I ask you simply: Do you believe that psychometrics is a valid science? Does it measure something useful? Is it useful on an individual basis but not on a group basis (or vice versa)?

Amber said...


You seem to predicate your arguments on the assumption that IQ is a useful and comprehensive descriptor of cognitive ability. That it is real and quantifiable measure of "abstract thinking geared towards problem-solving."

This argument presupposes that humans posses a single "abstract thinking" ability on a quantifiable scale, but we could just as well be born with multiple cognitive abilities, which would be even harder to quantify or develop group generalizations from.

I suppose I just don't understand your evidence for this view. Do enlighten.

jena6 said...

High IQ does not automatically create Renaissance men and women.

Good call, amber! I watched a really insightful Horizon BBC documentary called "Battle of the Brains."

Here's a synopsis:

"Horizon takes seven people who are some of the highest flyers in their field - a musical prodigy, a quantum physicist, an artist, a dramatist, an RAF fighter pilot, a chess grandmaster and a Wall Street trader. Each is put through a series of tests to discover who is the most intelligent?

The principle way that we measure intelligence, the IQ test, remains popular and convenient. Yet most psychologists agree that it only tells half the story... at most. Where they disagree is how to measure intelligence, for the simple reason that the experts still don't know exactly what it is."

Thordaddy said...

The mental torture that "progressives" must put themselves through is quite agonizing to witness.

So we have an argument that now centers on the "progressive" notions that "race" is an invention and "intelligence" is undefinable.

Of course, this is quite an astonishing turnabout seeing that the entire discourse was instigated by a renowned scientist claiming a different average intelligence between blacks and whites which provoked the now cliched charges of "racism."

If race doesn't exist then either does its byproduct, racism. And if intelligence measures nothing then Dr. Watson's statement is meaningless and says nothing relating to the superiority of whites over blacks.

Charges of racism can only stand if race exists and intelligence is definable? The progressive conformists need to get their ideology together.

Thembi said...

My opinion on psychometrics, as someone who has been surrounded by them and/or worked in testing for a few years now, is that it is very valid - for what it purpots to be valid for. Tests have the goal of providing some measure of the testakers possession of certain skills. The biggest disclaimer is that the skills or 'standards' that are being assessed have to be established by someone. These are rather specifc standards, way broader than 'can the student read.' Its the standards themselves - how you define what is important to be able to do or understand - and how/if they are focused on in the classroom that makes the difference in test scores.

Two other things about psychometrics have struck me. One, the SATs were actually started to DECREASE discrimination - against lower-income students who were not eligible to go to Harvard because they had no money. An objective measure of preparation was needed, so this test was created to gauge how well students would do in college - statistically it still does that, otherwise it would be 'statistically invalid' and not serve its purpose. Again, that goes back to determining the purpose of a test. The second thing that Ive realized is that psychometrics is a TRUE school of thought that rests on a collection of core principles just like economics rests on microeconmic theory, bioogy rests on cell theory, and so on. To get, for example, a Masters Degree in Psychology, which is an endorsement from and memebership in a school of thought, you have to get endorsement from another school ofthought by taking atest that will predict how well you will perform in the program - that school being psychometrics. At the end of the day, one school of thought respects the other, so getting with the program with standardizd testing is an inevitability.

Thembi said...

thordaddy:If race doesn't exist then either does its byproduct, racism. And if intelligence measures nothing then Dr. Watson's statement is meaningless and says nothing relating to the superiority of whites over blacks.

This is a ridiculous argument. Race does not BIOLOGICALLY exist - it exists in our perceptions. I am 'black' but more genetically similar to your average Irishman than I am to another 'black' person from the Congo. So racism exists in human behavior because it exists in human perception.

That said, for anyone to say that 'blacks' have lower IQs (which DOES exist - the question is whether this measure is USEFUL for anything regarding actual intelligence) is literally comparing apples to oranges.

Don't confuse yourself by thinking that everyone who disagrees with your views shares one common view. I certainly refuse to apply your views to all white people who are missing the mark intellectually on this topic.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks so much for this input, Thembi!

Thordaddy said...


I'm glad we agree that "racism" is a matter of perception and hardly based on empirical evidence. I suppose you would join Mr. Mills in condemning the nonsense about higher mortality rates for black newborns being caused by "racism." Such a statement is far more insidious as it suggests that whites are literally killing black babies and not a shred of empirical evidence backs such a "perception."

To say that race doesn't exist biologically is to make a definitive statement about MET. If the thing we call "race" signified by different skin color is not inherently biological then please enlighten us as to where it originates?

But please do tell me why the outrage at one man's perception if not for its violation of progressive ideology?

Thembi said...


You did a good job at either twisting my words or demonstrating how far behind the rest of the class you are, so let me clarify. I am not arguing that racism is nonexistent. I find that notion absurd - and racism is not just some notion, its a system. The BASIS for racism does not truly exist because it is based on skin color and little else. And skin color has NOTHING to do with genetics. Skin color is biological but its one tiny piece of code among millions. There is no 'black gene'.If you really believe that evolution would cause melanin to be linked with thinking abilities than please enlighten me. There are black people all over this earth and they share next to NO common genetics among them when it comes right down to it.

I think you need to study a little about history and human evolution before you make certain conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Sub-saharan Africans consistently score 70 on standardized IQ tests. Live with it. It's a fact.

Thordaddy said...


I'll let your contradictions and incoherency speak for itself. But it still doesn't answer why such outrage over such a widely held and seemingly thoroughly false statement?

And a "system" of racism would require empirical evidence that I'm sure you would gladly provide unlike the disparate IQ scores that count for nothing in the case of Dr. Watson?

And please do explain how MET precludes race and intelligence from being highly correlated? Like I said earlier, if one believes in MET then you must accept its conclusions.

It seems to me that one man's racism is another man's truth.

odocoileus said...

**Sub-saharan Africans consistently score 70 on standardized IQ tests. Live with it. It's a fact.**

No they don't.

SSA's raised in the WIW consistently score at the mean or above.

That's the fact.

The rules of this game we are playing say that you can't discard evidence you don't agree with.

odocoileus said...

**And please do explain how MET precludes race and intelligence from being highly correlated? Like I said earlier, if one believes in MET then you must accept its conclusions.**

Races, in the sense of continent wide groupings of people, based on a handful of phenotype similarities, don't really exist. Socially and politically defined groups popularly called "races" do exist, but distinctions which are largely socio-political don't make for good science.

Population groups do exist, but the boundaries of the groups depend on what you characteristics you measure. The sickle cell gene group, for example, includes West Africans (but not East Africans), Sicilians, southern Italians (but not northern Italians).

As Thembi noted, there is no black gene.

Sure it's possible that IQ could be correlated with population group differences. It's been observed in the animal kingdom.

The problem specifically with humans is that we all descend from a very small group of survivors from a relatively recent die off event. So we're all much more closely related to each other, than say one band of chimps is related to another band of chimps ten miles away.

The other problem is the specific mechanism argued for in the Eurasia vs Africa scenario is weak and vague. It's based on a fantasy idea of Africa as tropical paradise, with unlimited, easy access to food and shelter. The brutal environments found in actual Africa, with deserts, droughts, disease, and intense competition for resources, can select for intelligence just as effectively as colder climates.

In fact, the polygamy common in Africa gives a significant breeding advantage to a high IQ men who can command lots of resources and father children with several women.

Some cold climate peoples are doing quite well. Others are doing quite poorly. You can't get more cold adapted than the North American indigenous populations. They're much more "cold adapted" than Europeans, having survived 10 k years through winters that are much colder than those in relatively mild Europe.

Those that have survived the Euro invasion and conquest are among the worst off people in North America by every measurable indicator.

In Europe proper, the most cold adapted people are the Russians. Russia is now, and has been, much colder than western Europe. These days, the Russians have the same astronomical murder rate that black Americans do. Street crime is rampant. Life expectancy is going down. There's a huge substance abuse problem - vodka, not crack - but vodka causes more retarded babies than crack does.

So empirically, the theory doesn't work.

memomachine said...



Memo: Part of the problem -- not just in our exchange here but in the larger mudfight surrounding intelligence -- is that you seem to be focused on intelligence as an individual characteristic... and Watson was talking about intelligence as a group characteristic.

But neither groups nor societies have intelligence as a characteristic. You can't go to a neighborhood in Newark and ask them to solve some serious problem. The actual implementation of a solution always devolves down to individuals.

It is the *will* to accomplish such tasks that groups and societies provide, not intelligence.

America as a nation has a relatively high average IQ. Our country also has many individuals with very high IQ. Yet we as a nation cannot seem to deal with the problem of the looming bankruptcy of the Social Security and Medicare systems.

Are we lacking in intelligence? Dr. Watson would have us believe that is not the case. Is it because nobody believes this is a problem? No a great many people recognize the problems. Where then is the intelligence of the group, society or nation?

Intelligence is an individual attribute, not a group one. You can't assemble 50 people with an IQ of 100 and say we've got a collective IQ of 5,000. And collecting that group and then stating that they have an average IQ of 100 doesn't mean anything either.

Try this. Gather 5,000 random people from off the street and ask them to build the Hoover Dam. Does that sound reasonable?

However if building such a dam were necessary to the survival of the group then if you asked them to support it's construction, then they could offer the *will* to accomplish the task.

IMO the reason why we have high technology today and not 10,000 years ago isn't because of intellect, the ancients were very smart and clever, it's because of will.

If we can agree that "intelligence" is something real and quantifiable (and I'm still not sure why we can't)... then wouldn't it make sense that a society where the average IQ of the population is 90, and a society where the average IQ is 100, and a society where the average IQ is 110, would be different kinds of societies? For instance, in terms of technological advancement?

No. Because advancement relies on individuals.

The only thing that a high IQ might, **might**, bring to a group is the realization that *education* is more important to the survival of the group than a high average IQ.

And this is because the education offered would allow those exceptional individuals to be recognized for what they are and then nurtured through the educational process until they reach the point where they can now be effective in promoting change and improvement.

It is universal education which has transformed the world along with increasing population.


I'm sorry but the whole idea of a group intelligence quotient just seems completely illogical to me.

memomachine said...



Consider this, and keep in mind that I might word this wrong but it's not intended to offend.

Black Americans know that there is a consistent rot within the group. That school dropouts, drug abuse and rampant crime/violence is doing extraordinary harm to the group. But it seems that nothing can be done.

Is this because of a lack of intelligence? I don't think so since so many black Americans have identified these as problems. Instead it is the lack of will to fix these problems that is the problem.

Consider the "Jena 6" issue. Regardless of who start what the essence of this issue is that 6 black young men decided to kick the ass of a lone white guy and did so. They sucker punched the guy from behind and knocked him unconcious and then proceeded to kick and stomp him while he lay there unable to defend himself.

Yet these same young men are now ... celebrities? For what? Sucker punching someone and then getting the boots in while he's unable to fight?

Is this an issue of intelligence or will on the part of the group?

I'd suggest it's the will and not intelligence. Anyone with any level of intelligence would realize that the personal actions taken by these 6 young men are not really an example to be praised.

What's at hand is the lack of will on the part of the group to enforce this and prevent the aggrandizement of these individuals.

I.e. the core problem of black America today is the lack of will to self-enforce society standards. How that will evaporated or how it will come back depends on the individual theories that people hold. But the lack of will is there, as is the intelligence to see it.

So which really is more important to the group?

Curious Bystander said...

Does anyone have any thoughts on the validity of so-called “culture-free” IQ tests, such as the Raven's Progressive Matrices? Is it possible to construct an unbiased IQ test? Also, why do East Asians outperform white Americans and white Europeans on tests of intelligence developed by white psychometricians?

memomachine said...


@ curious bystander

Also, why do East Asians outperform white Americans and white Europeans on tests of intelligence developed by white psychometricians?

I have yet to meet the Asian mother who isn't completely insane about education. My mother was very much the same way. Her method of getting me out of the house was to drive me to the town library and tell me that she'll pick me up when it got dark.

I really don't think it's all that usual in most American households to have a child required, by the parents, to read through entire dictionaries and encyclopedias. In both cases I literally started a "A" and read through until I hit the last page of "Z". Then I read the supplementaries.

Frankly I read quite a lot. I grew up in rural New Hampshire so it got a bit boring at times. Nearest movie theater was about 25 miles, one way. And we got two channels on the TV plus a UHF channel

Now I don't know about "culture free IQ tests" but I seriously doubt that such a thing is really possible. To create a test requires the use of language, and language is always influenced by culture in both time and place. A test written with today's English would be difficult to puzzle out for someone from 19th century England.

Bay Radical said...


You raised a lot of provoking questions in this thread, but you seem to be making a point of avoiding stating your views on this matter outright. You've also chosen not to engage the question of whether environment impacts intelligence (for example, you didn't reply to those who say that Sub-Saharan Africans who are raised in circumstances where they have enough (nutrition, education, etc) score the same as anyone else on intelligence tests.) Soo….. What exactly are you suggesting with your questions here?

It seems that you're not only interested in open debate, but rather, you seem to be wishing to debate a specific point – even if you're not coming out and saying it.

Hey, it's your blog so it's your rules. Say or don't say what you want. But I sure am curious to understand the thinking behind your questions here.

Undercover Black Man said...

You guessed wrong, Bay Radical. I am interested in grappling with taboo subjects, but I've got no agenda to push.

jena6 said...

Thordaddy, why don't you just come out and say what you so obviously think? That whites are superior to blacks.

And if by some weird fluke this is proven correct then what? What would it mean really? That it justifies all the barbaric things whites have done to blacks and other non-whites? That these inferior types deserve being treated inhumanely because they aren't intelligent enough to be considered human?

The pathological desire for supremacy is unethical to me. But, that's just me.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Here we're getting to the crux of the thing. I don't believe that opposition to white supremacy is contingent upon the egalitarian assumption that everyone is born with an "equal" distribution of traits.

I read an article within the last year... wish I could lay hands on it... about an Amazonian jungle tribe that recently stepped out of the jungle and into a Brazilian city to begin a new life. (On welfare, if I remember right.)

This tribe, this mini-society, did not even have the wheel! Let alone a written language.

Just because these are "primitive" people doesn't mean that they have less intrinsic human worth.

But it also doesn't mean they're equally able to perform in a modern urban society as everyone else.

Thordaddy said...


For those that believe in the supremacy of whites, Dr. Watson's statement will have little impact. For others, who are not Darwinists but still have respect for many things "scientific," Dr. Watson's statement serves as an indictment of left-wing tyranny and irrationality.

No one has of yet explained exactly why they are outraged at Dr. Watson's statement and even less have outrightly claimed it FALSE. It has simply been a matter of violating left-wing ideology and nothing more.