Friday, January 05, 2007

The innate intellectual superiority of the white male[1]

Private Eye's round up of 2006 reminded me of a "funny if it wasn't so scary" news story from the middle of last year.

Arse and Elbow Award to the [British National Party's] 11 dim-witted councillors in Barking and Dagenham, all but one of whom failed to back a measure they themselves had proposed because they had lost interest in the debate and weren't listening when the vote was called.


The fearless Barking and Dagenham recorder tells a slightly different story:

Laughter broke out as only one of the 11 BNP councillors raised his hand to vote for the amendment.

After the meeting, Cllr Barnbrook claimed the mistake had occurred because his party thought they were supposed to press buzzers to vote.


Apparently the new councillors don't know the difference between a council meeting and Family Fortunes.


[1] I know that four of the 11 councillors in question were women. But then, nobody's arguing for the genetically determined intellectual superiority of the female sex[2], so it's not as funny.


[2] If you don't know who's arguing for the innate intellectual superiority of the white male (or in some cases, the Asian male) see the Bell Curve. It's been stronglr criticised as scientific racisism, but it's worse than that - it's unscientific racism. It falls into two very simple logical fallacies straight off the bat - "asserting the consequent" and "post hoc ergo propter hoc" ("it follows x, therefore it was caused by x). This is before one even takes into account the paucity of evidence - indeed the counter evidence - that IQ tests are important determiners of anything other than the ability to do well in IQ tests.

For a lay person's on a scientifically literate approach to looking at the dual effects of "nature" and "nurture" on intelligence (i.e. one that controls for confounding variables) the News Scientist has a nice article here.

13 comments:

Martin Sewell said...

The majority of experts believe that there are significant genetic contributions to race differences in intelligence.

Auntie Em said...

Layydeeeeees and Genelmen! Roll up, roll up - see Martin and his amazing trained bee! Be amazed as it buzz in his bonnet - leading to ever rasher statements! Gasp as it drives him into emailing frenzies! Thrill as it causes him to make unsupported leaps of logic! Yawn as you realise that the same statement over and over again does not an argument make!

Martin Sewell said...

It just saddens me that due to the unreasoned totalitarian norm of political correctness and the liberal left’s unscientific egalitarianism, the most intelligent and compassionate members of society (that is, those in a position to make a difference) are—quite literally—working against those they set out to help.

Anonymous said...

Buzzz. Buzz Buzz

Auntie Em said...

Does it? Are you sad? :(

Oh well. Look on the bright side eh... When the female dominated hive mind finally takes over there may be work for you as a drone.

DavidC said...

I'm not sure how seeking to avoid causing undue offense (being PC) is necessarily "unreasoned". I don't seek to deny any truth: maybe black people are more stupid than white people - it's just that there's no clear evidence for that.
Plus, speaking as a liberal lefty, I find the label "unscientific" mildly offensive, though I suppose many political positions are just that. It's hard to do a double-blind test of egalitariansm :)
Finally, I have no idea what you mean by "quite literally working against those they set out to help".

Martin Sewell said...

Political correctness is not about “seeking to avoid causing undue offense”, it is about classifying certain groups of people as victims in need of protection from criticism, and dictating that no dissent should be tolerated. It is therefore totalitarian and compromises both free speech and science: this is unreasonable. We have been aware of the direction and magnitude of black/white differences in intelligence since Galton (1869), the genotypic difference is 1.3 standard deviations. The last time I took the Political Compass test I was firmly in the Liberal Left quadrant myself. When I said that the left is now “working against those they set out to help”, I meant that by supporting political correctness (in general) and feminism (in particular), they are working against the ordinary working class man (the least privileged group in society).

Auntie Em said...

Another thing that hasn't changed much since 1869 is the socioeconomic status of most black people. Given that it has not always been the case that Africa was behind "advanced" Europe (unless you also buy the thesis that the pyramis were built by aliens too), then the argument doesn't hold that it's intelligence (or lack thereof) making Africa and black people poor. Plently of well controlled studies do show however that poverty is a great way of stunting someone's intelligence.

Martin Sewell said...

Ever since humans colonised Europe, sub-Sahara Africa has been less advanced than Europe; regarding the pyramids, Egypt is in north Africa and the population Caucasian. It is true that poverty stunts intelligence, but such arguments are circular, why are they poor? Sub-Sahara Africa is poorer than Europe due to the lower intelligence of the population.

Auntie Em said...

That bee sure is distracting you.

As you've just said yourself, the argument is circular. It's what's called a viscious cycle. Poverty leads to lack opportunity and poor nutrition, which leads to lower levels of intellectual development, which, ceteris paribus, leads to more poverty and fewer opportunities. Nothing genetic, nothing predestined, nothing that can't be changed.

I refer you, again, to the highly accessible New Scientist article quoted in the post.

Auntie Em said...

That bee sure is distracting you.

As you've just said yourself, the argument is circular. It's what's called a viscious cycle. Poverty leads to lack opportunity and poor nutrition, which leads to lower levels of intellectual development, which, ceteris paribus, leads to more poverty and fewer opportunities. Nothing genetic, nothing predestined, nothing that can't be changed.

I refer you, again, to the highly accessible New Scientist article quoted in the post.

Martin Sewell said...

The problem with your environment-only hypothesis above is that it only applies to black people. Witness the speed with which Germany recovered after the war, consider the growth of ex-communist countries, etc.

There are good arguments for the genetic plus environment hypothesis, five of which I outline below:
1) Africans and Europeans have evolved independently in different environments over a period of approximately 100,000 years, this was clearly enough time for a lighter skin colour to evolve in Europeans. Europeans were exposed to colder climates which meant that food, shelter, warmth and raising children were harder, so higher intelligence would likely have evolved as an adaption. East Asians have a higher still intelligence, as they evolved in north-east Asia which was even colder.
2) Africans consistently obtain a lower IQ throughout the world.
3) The heritability of intelligence of adults within the same race is high.
4) Brain size has a heritability of about 0.9 and the correlation between brain size and intelligence is 0.4. Europeans have larger brains than Africans.
5) Adoption studies with black infants adopted by white parents showed that by the age of 17, a 17 point IQ difference between blacks and whites remained.

In the past 30 years aid as a percentage of Africa’s gross domestic product has more than trebled, while in the same period economic growth has collapsed from two per cent to zero.

I appreciate the article in New Scientist, 40% of the African/European IQ difference is due to the environment.

If we are to help Africa, a good place to start would be to face up to the truth: Africa will always be poor. Richer nations, therefore, have an ethical obligation to help by paying a “tax” to help boost intelligence levels by improving nutrition, etc.

Auntie Em said...

Ok - you won't listen to me, I know. But maybe you should read this:
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/f02/tucker.html

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