First, a warning: if anyone taking part in this thread works in, or may in the future work in, any school or university, any government job, or for any company of any size … then, do NOT express any other opinion besides one of these: ‘IQ is just what IQ tests measure … it has no relevance to anything else’ OR “group differences in IQ are a racist myth which has been thoroughly debunked” OR “IQ is entirely a product of acculturation ,,,being raised in a society where your group is marginalized will affect your IQ” … or some variant of these. Your job will depend on it. Better not to say anything at all, like my friends in the old USSR.
Now .. here is a direct quote from a book, which made a fairly big splash when it was published some years ago: the author is writing about one ‘tribal’ group, comparing them to another (I use ‘tribe’ instead of ‘race’ as I think it’s more precise) :
“in mental ability [members of group X] are probably genetically superior to [members of group Y].”
I have substituted ‘members of Group ‘ instead of the actual races/tribes he referred to, so as not to trigger anyone.
So my question is: should the publisher have gone ahead and published, and publicized, this book, with that statement in it? Or should he have insisted that it be removed, because it could cause ‘harm’? The author was/is a social scientist, and his statements were based on his observations about both groups. He’s a Darwinian, and attitubuted the superior intelligence of Group X to selection pressures.
Doug would you like to cite the actual book so we can comment on something other than your paraphrasing of a text please?
I haven’t paraphrased it. It’s an exact quote, although I have left out the two tribal/racial groups the author is comparing.
The reason I didn’t give the author’s name (and book title) is that i didn’t want to provoke reflex poltiical responses. If I had said the author was Charles Murray, or some other well-known conservative, people would respond to that, rather than to the actual assertion that the author makes.. Same if I had said it was Paul Krugman or some well-known liberal or progressive.
What I want to do is to explore the idea that books and papers should be subject to censorship if their author’s writings might cause ‘harm’ to some protected group.
I personally think this is a bad idea, but I can understand that people who support it have good motives. So I would like to discuss it in as non-political a context as possible.
From what I can tell by reading previous comments, I think most people here would agree with me (as well as not being afraid of the idea that various behavioral characteristics, including ability to do well on intelligence tests, might be significantly influenced by one’s genes, and that these genes might be unevenly distributed among human groups.
However, other reasonable people can disagree — it’s not an issue which is open-and-shut.
But it seems to me that whatever you believe about genes and behavior, you ought to oppose censorship of papers on political grounds. So I’m trying to get a discussion about it.
It sounds to me like bad science, because intelligence is very multi-dimensional. Was the writer comparing one race (e.g., Arabs) with another (e.g., Chinese)? Jonathan Haidt compares the morality of liberals and conservatives, in a very multi-dimensional way.
Yes, I like Jonathan Haidt very much.
And I agree that the word ‘intelligence’ is way too broad.
There is the ‘intelligence’ measured by IQ tests, so-called ‘G’, which is probably just brain-processing-speed.
But I know through personal experience that there are all sorts of people who might do poorly on a standard IQ test — or the reaction-time proxy which apparently correlates with IQ, showing that it really is a physiological thing — but who are also shrewd and able to act ‘intelligently’ in complex social situations.
Another example: if you go to Guatemala today, you will not be impressed by the ‘IQ’ of the indigenous inhabitants. And yet these are people whose ancestors had a high civilization, who invented a positional-exponential numbering sysem, who did astronomy, who had a complex calendar … surely the genes didn’t change.
In any case, in a few more decades, if we don’t have a big stupid war, we’ll be crafting our descendants’ genomes, and everyone will have a stellar IQ, plus all the other desirable character features that genes influence.
In the meantime, even those with IQ’s near the mean can be educated to know much more than they do now in our mediocre education system. But that’s another thread.