13 3 mins 15 yrs

Im not sure what to make of this in all honesty. Pub Philosopher suggests that the following was inevitable. I wonder if this isnt simply more media hyped issues presented as race crises to provoke heated controversy all round. The Science Museum has cancelled Friday’s talk by Dr James Watson, the scientist who, together with Francis Crick, discovered the DNA double helix. The museum banned him because of his comments in this interview with the Sunday Times.

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”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.

He goes on: The Equality and Human Rights Commission says that it is considering Dr Watson’s remarks, presumably to see if it can get him under any of the UK’s race-hate laws, and the 1990 Trust is demanding that he apologise to “Africa and all people of African origin”.

He also points out that every time a scientist advances such a hypothesis he is silenced 

Do you agree with Susan Greenfield who commented

Nothing should stop you ascertaining the scientific truth; science must be free of concerns about gender and race.

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13 thoughts on “race row

  1. Science should certainly be free of considerations of such things as gender and race. The trouble with race, however, is that it has insufficient scientific basis.

    In this case the bigger problem is that we don’t have a good way to accurately measure intelligence. Those who study it don’t all agree on what it is, and IQ tests that are supposed to measure it mostly measure what somebody has learned, not his or her ability. There’s also plenty of evidence that IQ tests aren’t measuring the same things in different cultures. Yes, research with these tests shows differences based on race. But it’s not at all clear that the tests are accurately measuring intelligence.

    Scientists shouldn’t be silenced (if they have been) for trying to look at such things, but they should certainly be challenged for unscientific aspects of their work.

  2. IQ tests don’t measure nothing: they measure something and that something relates very closely to the ability to understand technical concepts which are found in the world of industry. The performance of racial groups differs markedly with orientals coming out ahead of whites, and blacks some way behind.
    One may reasonably compare sub-Saharan Africa with Japan/Korea and of course, Taiwan (as an indicator of where China is heading) because the performance of a country or region is dependent on the people who are in it.
    And then one may compare the performance of racial groups within one country, say the US. 

  3. Indeed Colm, and it allows me a look at how well the Japanese are using technology given that they, as a population group, average 107 IQ as opposed to whitey’s 100.

  4. Allan

    That’s a disgracefull racist slur against us whiteys. I think you ought to ‘nip’ that argument in the bud right now !

  5. The threats of legal action against James Watson are disgraceful although the Science Museum is free to invite and disinvite whom they please.

    Personally I thought the way he expressed himself in a mainstream publication was foolishly blunt, but there are legitimate researchers who believe that the observed differences in IQ results for different groups of people have a genetic origin. That doesn’t mean that they’re right, my own view is closer to the environmental explanation, but it must be legitimate to look into it.

    There was a good article on the subject by Thomas Sowell last week:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2007/10/04/what_is_intelligence

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