Thursday, 18 October 2007

Conspecific Controversy

James Watson is in trouble again, this time for claiming differences in intellectual capacities between races. “It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments,” says Keith Vaz [1], holding to the baseless, unscientific, and extremely odd belief that the forces of nature must necessarily conspire over time and space to make all groups of the same species equal in their capacities, at least as regards the species Homo sapiens. [2] None of this is cause for a tantrum, except amongst the race-class-sex reductionists; for a man is, after all, more than simply his race, class, and sex; indeed he is a person insofar as he is more.
.....
[1] The Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, quoted by Cahal Milmo, “Fury at DNA pioneer’s theory: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners”, The Independent, 17th October 2007.
[2] Perhaps those who believe so should begin the search for the natural mechanism of it, to which they could give a fancy name, the Conspecific Law of Equalising Inertia, or somesuch. Speciation might take some explaining, mind you.

6 comments:

Hugo Grille said...

This is a case of the usefulness of truth. If a truth results in harm or is not useful, should it be expressed? Schopenhauer's books have been ignored for this reason. Optimism and hope are more useful than pessimistic truth. If a person is told that he/she is less intelligent, he/she loses the motivation to apply him/herself to learning.

Deogolwulf said...

Good points, Mr Grille.

dearieme said...

I have a memory, though I may be mistaken, of Bryan Appleyard saying on his blog that Watson lied about an interview with Appleyard, even though Appleyard had the truth on tape. Blow me, but Watson apparently is now implying that he was misquoted in the Sunday Times. Lovely chap.

Deogolwulf said...

Ah, yes, he's been brought to heel.

Hugo Grille said...

Who would ever believe an assertion such as the one made by Watson? Doesn't everyday common experience fly in its face? Is it so usual to encounter incompetent or unintelligent people of African descent? The behavior of Negroes should belie Watson's words. We can't, however, accept the evidence of test results, such as those of IQ or scholastic aptitude tests. Such results would be the only objective evidence. Everything else is subjective judgment. But, if almost everyone had the same subjective judgment, then it would be almost as good as having objective evidence. Great differences in racial levels of education, viewpoint, and attitude have rendered this problem very difficult to resolve because differences may be the result of non-genetic, non-inherited conditions.

temblor said...

Who would ever believe an assertion such as the one made by Watson?

I would. So would very many other people.

Doesn't everyday common experience fly in its face?

No. Particularly not if your "everyday common experience" consists of work with the very intelligent (e.g. in a physics laboratory) or the very stupid (e.g. in a prison).

Is it so usual to encounter incompetent or unintelligent people of African descent?

Yes. For example, blacks specialize in particularly brutal crimes that are particularly easy to solve.

uch results would be the only objective evidence. Everything else is subjective judgment. But, if almost everyone had the same subjective judgment, then it would be almost as good as having objective evidence. Great differences in racial levels of education, viewpoint, and attitude have rendered this problem very difficult to resolve because differences may be the result of non-genetic, non-inherited conditions.

Decades of work have been done on the topic, but the reaction of many people is simply to begin reasoning a priori.