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Thread: Liberal Creationism, or: Yippee, It’s Bell-Curve Time Again!

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    Default Liberal Creationism, or: Yippee, It’s Bell-Curve Time Again!

    I did actually revisit the Bell Curve discussion earlier this month, thanks to old interview with Charles Murray (such great enunciation!). But that’s neither here nor there.

    This new Slate series I have been reading is interesting since the writer, William Saletan, is an avowed egalitarian, or as he puts it himself:

    I've been soaking my head in each side's computations and arguments. They're incredibly technical. Basically, the debate over the IQ surge is a lot like the debate over the Iraq troop surge, except that the sides are reversed. Here, it's the liberals who are betting on the surge, while the conservatives dismiss it as illogical and doomed. On the one hand, the IQ surge is hugely exciting. If it closes the gap to zero, it moots all the putative evidence of genetic barriers to equality. On the other hand, the case for it is as fragile as the case for the Iraq surge. You hope it pans out, but you can't see why it would, given that none of the complicating factors implied by previous data has been adequately explained or taken into account. Furthermore, to construe meaningful closure of the IQ gap in the last 20 years, you have to do a lot of cherry-picking, inference, and projection. I have a hard time explaining why I should go along with those tactics when it comes to IQ but not when it comes to Iraq.

    When I look at all the data, studies, and arguments, I see a prima facie case for partial genetic influence. I don't see conclusive evidence either way in the adoption studies. I don't see closure of the racial IQ gap to single digits. And I see too much data that can't be reconciled with the surge or explained by current environmental theories. I hope the surge surprises me. But in case it doesn't, I want to start thinking about how to be an egalitarian in an age of genetic difference, even between races. More on that tomorrow.

    Part 1: Liberal Creationism
    Part 2: Environmental Impact

    More parts to follow.

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    A really interesting subject -- pity I don't have much free time at the mintue.

    Do you read gnxp or Gene Expression (confusingly seemingly written by the same peeps) at all, Guybrush?

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    Liberal Racism, or: Yippie, It's Eugenics Time Again!


    Bell Curve researchers on a 'scientific' lunch break

    "The Pioneer Fund, which was founded in 1937 to promote eugenics programs modeled on those of Nazi Germany. The Pioneer Fund is most notorious for funding research that proves the intellectual superiority of whites: its recipients have included Arthur Jensen, William Shockley, and J. Philippe Rushton, and a great deal of Pioneer-funded research was cited in Murray and Herrnstein's The Bell Curve. In short, the Pioneer Fund is committed to promoting science that "proves" white supremacy. (I recommend William Tucker's The Science and Politics of Racial Research and Russell Jacoby's anthology The Bell Curve Debate for more material on this subject.)"

    "At this stage, discussion of The Bell Curve's notorious race-and-IQ chapter is almost a done deal. Inequality by Design echoes Berkeley sociologist John Ogbu's work on the matters of caste systems in societies. Yes, American blacks score one standard deviation below whites on IQ tests. This is more a result of low ethnic or caste status than it is of any biological factor. Polish Jews emigrating to America tested poorly on IQ tests, and Koreans living in Japan have patterns of poverty, crime and school performance similar to those of blacks in America. Low caste status contributes to three factors-socioeconomic deprivation, group segregation, and the stigma of inferiority. Castes assimilated through conquest or capture (Irish in Britain, Maori in New Zealand, Koreans in Japan, blacks in the U.S.) have a harder time assimilating than minorities who immigrated willingly. And when we consider the arbitrary distinctions that mark the Indian "untouchables" and Japanese burakumin as low-caste, we are forced into realizing that race matters only as much as people want it to matter.

    When The Bell Curve was published in 1994, few reviewers were equipped to re-evaluate the data in time for publication deadlines. Some admitted ignorance of statistics, while others rested on denunciations of the book's logical fallacies, implied policy demands, the precedent of the previous century's race-science, and the book's reliance on white supremacist-funded research sources. The more thoughtful reviews went over the classic criticisms: the misuse of the concept of heritability and debates over the validity of IQ tests and Spearman's g. A more detailed analysis of the data would face the prospect that The Bell Curve's impact wouldn't last very long, and a rebuttal book published a year or so down the road would be irrelevant.

    So we can be thankful that Inequality by Design's detailed and scrupulous re-analysis of Herrnstein and Murray's g-over-all theories has been published. (Welcome to peer review, guys.) But the authors go on to present a good discussion of how economic and social factors shape inequality in the United States. We don't succeed or fail because of our individual IQ or talents alone: nearly all of us are beneficiaries of a vast system of social support, ranging from tax breaks for homeowners, the national highway system, and grammar school immunizations, to the WIC and food stamp programs. True, there are people who do stand on their own two feet, free from reliance on society. Problem is, they also sleep on steam vents."

    What a sickening thread ...

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    Surely if the whole point of these things is to push white supremacy, why say that east Asians are top of the pile, html?

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    If not quite fitting the white-supremacist agenda, the idea that east Asians are cerebral etc is certainly another racial stereotype...?

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    It's not a particularly demeaning stereotype, given the rewards on offer in the White Man's society for those with smarts.

    If I wanted to prove 'innate white superiority,' I'm sure I would do a better job of 'fixing' IQ test results than that.

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    I'd just like to point out that, in regard to the "100 year" trend of IQ differences referenced in the first link guybrush posted, that the early versions of the IQ test used to have such zingers as "On a sinking boat who should you save first? a) yourself b)your family/friends c)women children and the invalid" (rough paraphrase).

    I also quite like this piece of brilliance from the wikipedia article
    The American Psychological Association's report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns (1995)[10] states that that IQ tests as predictors of social achievement are not biased against people of African descent since they predict future performance, such as school achievement, similarly to the way they predict future performance for European descent.
    Gee, school achievement couldn't ALSO BE BIASED now could it?

    I really couldn't be bothered to read all the way through those articles after he tossed away any discussion of social or cultural reasons for IQ differences in the first paragraph and then merrily went on his way. Seems like a pretty clear case of the "if you look for it hard enough, you will find it" scenario in social sciences. The whole thing is just rife with presuppositions and assumptions, mostly about race, which is the thing that they want to find out about in the first place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    Surely if the whole point of these things is to push white supremacy, why say that east Asians are top of the pile, html?
    Since when do racists need to be rational and consistent? Racist ideology: the naturalization and concretization of the arbitrary, organicist construct of 'race', discourse about race that reduces it to a matter of "genes", dispensing with all contingency; notions of racial "purity" being genetic and concomitant with the notion that the "race" will suffer dilution, degradation, and degeneration; racial-genetic relationships to character traits, or social "fitness" in a pathologization of the Social Darwinist model; specifically deriving from the "eugenics" movement and its principal supporters in Western Europe and the United States, racist arguments that misapplied Darwin's biological theory to human societies in overtly genetic terms, or the extreme racial ideology that was the basis of National Socialism in Nazi Germany.


    [Note: Hitler, whose concept of a nation's power and wealth and domination was equated to its racial purity, also believed that East Asians were a race at least equal to the Aryans, referring to the Japanese as "honorary Aryans," fascist Japan also developing its own racial-genetic phantasms. So the Bell Curve racists are in the 'right' company, then ...]

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    hmlt - do you believe that there is *any* variation in innate intellectual ability at all, regardless of the race issue?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hundredmillionlifetimes View Post
    Liberal Racism, or: Yippie, It's Eugenics Time Again! ...
    People often react most defensively when challenged not on their firmly held beliefs but on beliefs they wish were true but suspect at some level to be false. This is the psychology behind the controversy that ensued after "IQ" in 1971 and The Bell Curve in 1994. On each occasion intemperate articles were written (some by the same people, barely updated), and the most strident positions were taken by those least qualified to comment on the science.

    Great article on The Bell Curve and the ensuing debate.

    I agree with what you cited about ‘socioeconomic deprivation, group segregation, and the stigma of inferiority’ being the most important explanations, but I thought the articles adressed, and partly ruled out, those. I’m not sure, though. Will examine them again ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guybrush View Post
    People often react most defensively when challenged not on their firmly held beliefs but on beliefs they wish were true but suspect at some level to be false. This is the psychology behind the controversy that ensued after "IQ" in 1971 and The Bell Curve in 1994. On each occasion intemperate articles were written (some by the same people, barely updated), and the most strident positions were taken by those least qualified to comment on the science.
    Racism + Elementary Statistics = 'Science'

    Quote Originally Posted by Guybrush View Post
    Great article on The Bell Curve and the ensuing debate.

    I agree with what you cited about ‘socioeconomic deprivation, group segregation, and the stigma of inferiority’ being the most important explanations, but I thought the articles adressed, and partly ruled out, those. I’m not sure, though. Will examine them again ...
    Rigidly classifying people on the basis of 'race' - that's what racism is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    hmlt - do you believe that there is *any* variation in innate intellectual ability at all, regardless of the race issue?
    That's not what's being discussed here, the systematic association of an arbitrary measure (IQ) with racial constructs.

    Nothing is 'innate,' genes too being subject to arbitrary (and engineered) mutation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hundredmillionlifetimes View Post
    Nothing is 'innate'
    This is patently incorrect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hundredmillionlifetimes View Post
    Rigidly classifying people on the basis of 'race' - that's what racism is.
    Yes, it’s eminently so, and that’s the thorny issue here: how to resolve the scientific incongruities without getting into murky waters. As an aside, Murray seems to have been particularly ill-suited for the task of defending the book’s scientific findings:

    Herrnstein, a professor of psychology at Harvard with an impeccable reputation for scientific integrity, died of cancer just a week before The Bell Curve arrived in bookstores. This in itself may have had something to do with the frenzy of the public response. Had Herrnstein lived to participate in the debate, critics might have found the book harder to malign than it became when Murray, whose training was not in psychology but in sociology, was left to promote and defend it by himself.

    Not that Murray, the author of Losing Ground (1984) and a vocal critic of the liberal welfare state, failed to do so energetically. But his lack of credentials as a hard scientist, and his overabundant credentials as a scourge of liberalism, made him a tempting target for an attack that was itself motivated as much by political as by scientific differences, and that was almost entirely focused on a side-issue in the book. That side-issue was differences in intelligence not among individuals but among groups--and specifically between whites and blacks--the degree to which those differences might or might not be explained genetically. So heated, and so partisan, was the furor at its peak that even President Clinton was asked about the book at a press conference. (He had not read it, but disagreed with it nonetheless.)

    But enough about The Bell Curve already! About the Slate articles: yes, Turtles is right in that far too little space is devoted to examining possible cultural and socioeconomic explanations, but I found this sentence interesting:

    In Malaysia, Chinese and Indian minorities outscore Malays.

    If that is so, and if it can be established that the Chinese and Indian minorities in Malaysia are less well off than ethnic Malays in terms of their economic, social and cultural standing, then I would say that finding is very interesting indeed.
    Last edited by Guybrush; 19-11-2007 at 09:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    This is patently incorrect.
    Why?

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