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#73- Forbidden Knowledge A Conversation with Charles Murray

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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22 April 2017 23:52
 

In this episode of The Waking Up Podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Charles Murray about the controversy over his book The Bell Curve, the validity and significance of IQ as a measure of intelligence, the problem of social stratification, the rise of Trump, universal basic income, and other topics.

#73- Forbidden Knowledge A Conversation with Charles Murray

This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
SlackerInc
 
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23 April 2017 01:15
 

Very interesting.  Sam has been dancing around this issue for many years.  He has hinted that he thought there was something to the race/IQ connection, but that it was probably not worth the trouble of actually exploring it.  In fact, he explicitly named it—in the “Four Horseman” conversation with Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens—as an example of a scientific question that shouldn’t be explored for moral reasons (Richard Dawkins seemed to disagree on principle that any scientific question should be off limits, as I recall).  And Sam did mention this objection to Murray, asking why there should be any discussion of, or inquiry about, race and IQ.

I share Sam’s unease about the topic, and I believe that if we could leave it alone without any harmful implications to public policy, we should.  It’s clear that too many of the people who do want to talk about race and IQ are gleefully into sort of rubbing it into black people’s faces.  I don’t want to have any association with such people.

But what I see happening in the school reform movement makes it imperative that we do in fact face up to this reality.  Public school teachers and administrators who work hard in inner city schools are, year after year, being absolutely excoriated for “failing” their students.  No matter how happy the kids may be, or how enriching an environment these educators provide, the schools are consider “failing” because their test scores lag below the national average.  It is taken as axiomatic that inner city black kids cannot have any inherent reason to score lower; therefore, since they do, it’s the schools’ fault.  This is not only highly unfair to dedicated educators, it causes a lot of unnecessary churn and upheaval in the education system writ large, and it focuses a spotlight on test scores, which cannot be good for the self-esteem of these kids.

In short, what we need to do as a society is to go back to what George W. Bush lamented as the “soft bigotry of low expectations”.  And not make a big deal out of that lowering.  Just keep it kind of implicit and understood, and stop rubbing noses in it.

 
vinainor
 
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23 April 2017 07:31
 

Richard Nisbett’s book on culture and intelligence contradicts a lot of what Murray says here. Nisbett is an extremely accomplished behavioral scientist. It would be interesting to see a debate between Murray and Nisbett. Here is a link to one of Nisbett’s talks on this issue:

https://youtu.be/SbgNSk95Vkk

 
Amar
 
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23 April 2017 08:47
 

I have not read the Bell Curve and I don’t know much of the science behind IQ testing. It seems to me like saying certain races are better at sports than others. Are black people because of their genes more athletic or better at sports like basketball, football, or boxing than white people? Or are people from Spain, Argentina, or Brazil, because of genetics, predispositioned to excel at playing soccer? Are people from Africa, I’m thinking civil wars, war crimes, corruption, more violent than people from other parts of the world? Or is the instability in Africa a result of a low level of general intelligence? These questions seems absurd, but that’s how I understand Dr. Murray’s argument.
Where are the super intelligent? To me it follows that if genetics played such a large role in people’s intelligence then the descendants of Socrates, Plato, Euclid, and other intelligent people in history would more or less rule the world. Sort of an intelligence evolution that would lead to super intelligent humans, a natural eugenics program, but that’s not the case.
Of course, I think that it is obvious that some people are naturally more talented or gifted than others, and I think that genes play a big role. But in my experience, to say that genes determine levels of intelligence and that determines success in life is incorrect. The environment, culture, parents, friends, level and quality of education all have a significant impact on a person’s life. A child that is raised around violence, neglect, and drug use no matter how intelligent he or she is will not be a great student because their survival depends on other factors. Whereas, a child from a well to do family will get the support and the resources that he or she needs to focus on education and excel. It seems to me that the latter child will get higher scores on an IQ test than the former kid. In contemporary America your zip code plays a huge part in your quality of education, and I think that’s a problem that we should strive to solve.

 
candid_observer
 
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23 April 2017 09:31
 
vinainor - 23 April 2017 07:31 AM

Richard Nisbett’s book on culture and intelligence contradicts a lot of what Murray says here. Nisbett is an extremely accomplished behavioral scientist. It would be interesting to see a debate between Murray and Nisbett. Here is a link to one of Nisbett’s talks on this issue:

https://youtu.be/SbgNSk95Vkk

I think that this paper by Jensen and Rushton address many of the weaknesses in Nisbett’s views:

http://www1.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/30years/Rushton-Jensen-reply-to-commentaries-on-30years.pdf

 

 
candid_observer
 
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23 April 2017 09:49
 

It’s good to see Sam Harris getting into these issues.

The Big Question of our time isn’t whether God exists. It’s whether there exist biologically based differences in social traits between human groups. Virtually all of our politics is based on an answer to that question. Justification of political correctness hangs on a particular answer: No, nowhere, nohow.

[ Edited: 23 April 2017 09:57 by candid_observer]
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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23 April 2017 10:44
 

I am a long time fan and sympathizer of Charles Murray. I remember his appearances with Ted Koppel way back on Classic Nightline. I read The Bell Curve and a couple of its torrid follow-ups. I have a vague memory of sending him a note of support. Fan mail.

The book fueled everybody’s fire. There were a lot of arguments. To the right-wing-radio crowd, it was manna from science. The New World Order was the White Man’s Burden. This is not Mr. Murray’s argument.

Others decried it as Bad Science. “Well, it gotta be, hasn’t it?” It is not bad science. I’m just a loonie but it is some of the best science I ever seen.

It was a bit of a shock how fast this ignited so many strong and firey opinions when the effort itself was so genteel and not at all firey. It worked as an all purpose Patch to fill out a lot of cloudy points of view. One painful discussion was with a person who’s only knowledge of the book was what I told him about it. Somehow, the discussion landed on, “I can accept that we all descended from primates, but not the same primate, and Murray bears that out!” I sure Mr. Murray would be horrified to know that someone used his unread book to confirm their opinion that Palestians are dogs.

I was also interested in the rythmn and musicality that took over one’s speech when declaring their firey opinion about it. Arm would air-conduct, fists would form and clobber the final point onto the desk or steering wheel. Mr. Murray would get involved in TV debates where opponents spit their answers out rapidly and usually when he was half way through a longer detailed and genteel answer. Some said the book’s very publishing was a neferious social experiment.

I was once involved in a similar nefarious social experiement in junior high school. My class was chosen to take a variety of IQ tests, maybe two or three. We spent many days quietly filing out test forms. At the end, we were given charts and a Number that averaged the test results. Days later we were told to disregard them as it was only an experiment. A small fuss had developed because parents heard about it from their children. Some objected that the tests were done without their knowledge or permission and all objected to giving the students the results in class.

Well of course… what are twelve year olds going to do with a new adult-approved ranking system that wasn’t there yesterday? Did we need one more social hurdle to worry about? It was like we could see each other’s brains. How embarrassing! Students who niavely revealed low scores were suddenly burdened with ‘low expectations’. “Watch out for that kid, he’s stupid!”  or, “That’s the stuck-up weirdo with the scary number!”  I came in second, which my mom assured me shows how these tests are completely bogus. Do they really mean something? They better. Only what?

I’ve had one lifetime friendship (til he ended his half). We were nine points apart in that neferiousness. We’re we bonded by the experience?

It all vaguely outlines a big hole. A Trump-shaped hole is putting it nicely. Mr. Murray refers to his code of genteelness and how it has always led the way in his life (he always comes across that way). They then proceed to discussing the elite who isolate themselves from the yahoos. This is where, from my perspective, these guys always nonchantlantly drive right past the hole in question.

He suggests that one learns to live by a code. What if that means having a code that leads your way in life is an ability that requires training of a certain character? What if it’s an extension or bolstering of a perception that allows us to harvest more of our own intelligence? What if the yahoos only think two steps ahead because it hurts when they try for three? What if there were two kinds of training that deliberately separated the swells from the yuks? One that lets you see personal commitments to codes with encouragement to look ahead and see for yourself and one that blinds you to them with rote and punishment.

It is not morbid to look. It is vital. The hole refered to is likely the same one involved in our attempt to understand terrorists and fanatical beliefs and why in the Blazes Trump was elected. Murder weapon indeed. It’s like Vonnegut’s handicap obsessed society… no citizen should have to deal with anything greater than 2 on The Malarkey Scale. It is asking too much of those who were not shown the way to Swellville. It’s a narrative muscularity that fills the hole.

I am serious, there are days when I don’t what’s up with trioon. Days when I need outside inspiration. Mr. Murray and his firestorm are part of what fires trioonity.

 
vinainor
 
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23 April 2017 12:50
 
candid_observer - 23 April 2017 09:31 AM
vinainor - 23 April 2017 07:31 AM

Richard Nisbett’s book on culture and intelligence contradicts a lot of what Murray says here. Nisbett is an extremely accomplished behavioral scientist. It would be interesting to see a debate between Murray and Nisbett. Here is a link to one of Nisbett’s talks on this issue:

https://youtu.be/SbgNSk95Vkk

I think that this paper by Jensen and Rushton address many of the weaknesses in Nisbett’s views:

http://www1.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/30years/Rushton-Jensen-reply-to-commentaries-on-30years.pdf

 

I know this work, and I find it to be outdated, along with the Bell Curve, The interpretation of the evidence in these works have been thoroughly addressed by Nisbett in his 2009 book, “Intelligence and How to Get It” The problem I have with the hereditary view of Intelligence is that the hereditarians rarely acknowledge that the heredity of intelligence varies so much across cultural contexts. Even within the US, the heredity of intelligence among the middle class white population is close to 0.8, while for the American working class white population, it is close to 0.2. That is a dramatic population difference in how heritable intelligence is. This population difference in the heritability of intelligence can also be attributed to the environment. In other words, as NIsbett argues, the socialization that affects cognitive development in children is much more similar among middle class white Americans than is the case among working class white Americans, and that is why the heritability of intelligence can vary so much across cultural contexts. Between East and West too, the heritability of intelligence in East Asian cultural contexts is much lower than is the case in the US context, and this can be largely attributed to cultural attitudes towards intelligence. That is, East Asians take much more of a growth mindset approach to intelligence and therefore approaches education and childhood socialization with the idea that intelligence can be largely acquired through effort. This means that in East Asian educational systems and family socialization contexts, there is much more room for the environment to play a larger role in intelligence than is the case in the US educational system and family socialization contexts. The American educational system, for example, tends to separate “fast learners” from “slow learners” into different classrooms from early elementary school, rather than trying to use fast learners to get the slow learners to improve their learning, a common cultural practice in other industrialized societies like Germany and Japan.

Ultimately, the point is, it’s never nature OR nurture. It’s always both. It’s always a meaningful and profound interaction of both genes AND environment, no matter what the heritability of a specific trait is in a specific sample of a specific study. This translates into how the RELIABILITY of the heritability of intelligence can be high within a particular cultural context but low across dramatically different cultural contexts. Consequently, we need more cognitive complexity regarding this issue, and I find the cognitive complexity regarding this issue to be conspicuously lacking in the literature of the hereditary approach relative to what I find in the literature of the cultural approach to intelligence. Furthermore, the evidence that suggests that intelligence is quite malleable by varying cultural attitudes towards it, by manipulating attitudes towards growth mindset and fixed mindset, and by equalizing the access to good education across all socioeconomic status groups (e.g., the work by Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth, etc.) seems quite overwhelming. If anything, at least in the United States, academic achievement can be largely attributed to the socioeconomic statuses that people are born into much more than it can be attributed to individual genetic predispositions to high or low intelligence, at least in TODAY’S American cultural context (this might not have been true 30 years ago).  In contrast, in Australia and Western European countries, genes seems to play a bigger role in academic achievement precisely because access to a good education is available to more or less everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. These findings were published last year in the top psychological science journal (see http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797615612727).  I would also recommend Joe Henrich’s book, “The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter.” In it, Harvard psychologist-anthropologist-economist, Joe Henrich, provide biological, archaeological, psychological, and anthropological evidence to suggest that humans have relatively high intelligence because of culture, not the other way around.

[ Edited: 23 April 2017 13:11 by vinainor]
 
Günter Weber
 
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23 April 2017 12:58
 

As long as Mr. Murray explains his scientific findings, he sounds pretty convincing. But when he tries to articulate his stance against affirmative action, I fail to find any reasonable argument. That Mr. Murray holds poorly founded objections against affirmative action is one thing, but he brings this up when asked why he is interested in studying race-based IQ difference. This is really troublesome. The average IQ of any subpopulation/race has nothing to do whatsoever with the question if affirmative action is a legitimate tool to empower these groups of people.

 
lmerryangel
 
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23 April 2017 14:14
 

Ms, Edelman, if you TRULY care about the lives/health of black youth, have the courage to read and respond to the following SAD statistics which are ALL related to behavioral CHOICES!
When will you and other black leaders going to work on REAL solutions?
I was honored to do a chapter in a social ethics text on the individual and societal benefits of traditional marriage, and how the absence of fathers in a household can be damaging.
 
  I wanted to share some information with your as you write about social issues like poverty.  I’m sure you are aware of the changes in our culture, particularly the acceptance of sex outside of the centuries old boundary of marriage.  MOST religions endorse sex in marriage as the SACRED union of a man and a woman AND for procreation-to raise responsible children! What I also would like to add is that it is SECULARLY HEALTHY for mothers and fathers to be there to raise responsible children,  the Fatherhood Initiative has MUCH data on why children suffer without fathers.  Cultural disintegration is the cause of the socio-economic status of those trapped in poverty,  but the one under-lying factor to many other social ills is the absence of 2 married committed parents, fatherless households and the acceptance of sex outside of marriage.

Liberals call it “FREE LOVE”, but it has NOT been free, and the negative consequences are particularly evident in black families, not only with out-of-wedlock births, fatherless youth and abortion choices, but other consequences like rates of STD’s and emotional distress.

Although we have numbers for white and Hispanics, which are also very troubling, the sad numbers reflect that blacks are particularly negatively affected. These statistics are from our own CDC and US Census Bureau.

While whites have high numbers of people affected by the lack of marriage commitment,  blacks account for 12-13% of the U.S. population—yet they have higher
numbers as a percentage of their race in all of the following social ills:

POVERTY-The #1 group trapped in poverty are single female -headed
households—NO marriage—sadly, blacks have 70% + out-of-wedlock births. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that marriage drops the probability of child growing up poor by 80%!
The number of whites as a percentage has also gone up since we accepted/subsidized single moms when the dads refuse to take responsibility!

SCHOOL DROP-OUT RATES are much higher in households with no fathers—go to the National Fatherhood Initiative and read the amazing disparities!

STD’s—Blacks have higher numbers of ALL STD’s -not just
HIV/AIDS—which in
some areas they account for 50% of the new cases—but also for Herpes,
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea..and others. One estimate noted that we
spend $20 billion on screening/treatment. MOST STD’s are linked to uncommitted pre-marital sex.

CRIME—We know that blacks engage in criminal behaviors at MUCH higher rates and on more black victims—we also now that 70% of the men in prison came
from homes with NO fathers—NO marriage—thus NO positive role model—people making sexual choices, but then abandon their responsibility! How does one begin to factor the costs of an unproductive life spent behind bars,
along with the estimated $40,000/year per inmate for upkeep in prison?

ABORTION—We know that since 1973-Roe v. Wade that 55 million unborn
babies have been KILLED in legal abortion—BUT 1/3rd of those-18 million—
were black and Planned Parenthood-et.al, .Black Americans for Life calls it genocide-
I THOUGHT BLACK LIVES MATTER!

If any of you claim that abortion should remain legal—PLEASE go to abortionno.org and view the IMMORAL reality—how can any sane person support this atrocity?

I also want to include the devastation from emotional effects of
pre-marital sex like
increased rates of depression and suicide, loss of self-esteem and many
other emotional negative effects that we spend millions on
counseling!
Two new books, “Unprotected” by Dr. Miriam Grossman and “Hooked” by
Dr. McIlhaney discuss the hormonal influence with sexual choices, and how
many youth do not understand why they feel so depressed after being
used/dumped after casual sex.

The solution is to offer high tax incentives for a couple to commit to each other and their children and reward those parents who teach their children to respect the law and study hard, the National Fatherhood Initiative is trying, but if we continue to not address these OBVIOUS statistics, we will continue to
see the devastating consequences!

MRS. Laura Merriott
If anyone wants to make a REAL difference,  join us @ saveunbornlife.org, we are literally saving human babies lives, we have saved 90 babies by offering hope and financial help to abortion-minded women, enabling them to choose life!

 
OmarGhaffarEsq
 
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23 April 2017 15:33
 

Hello fellow Ham Sarris fans and readers! I am a huge fan of Sam’s yet enjoy a good lampooning now and then smile. I am not an intellectual super-heayweight though did minor in philosophy at Colgate and find his discussions to be fruit for the soul, while also a matter of review.

On twitter I came to the defense of Dr. Murray post-Middlebury and am glad to have learned that my previous “opinion” about the Bell Curve (and by proxy Coming Apart) was unfounded and ignorant. With respect to this discussion, Sam does a great job in not wading into “muck” with Dr. Murray. I too disagree with certain elements of Murray’s thinking, such as his opinions on religion, as Sam notes. His socio-economic analyses and examples are at times a bit outdated, though he understands the impact of technology and is not some dinosaur.

Charles Murray is far more centrist in his viewpoints than many give him credit for; the gross mischaracterization of his views is largely the grounds for this relevant discussion. Of particular note to me is the conversation about universal basic income. The notion that UBI should replace the welfare system is spot on, The average ignoramus would be shocked to find that Murray supports such a “liberal” - or socialist in modern parlance - point of view. This is yet another example of why one should scratch deeper than the surface rather than judge a book by its cover. No pun is intended here, though perhaps the latter is well-fitting. Thank you Sam for reaching out to Dr. Murray post Middlebury as I was already very troubled by the incident. The infection that has spread across campuses is not just sad, but requires vocal rebuttal by the rational among us. Props.

 
S
 
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S
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23 April 2017 19:09
 

Listening to this episode of the podcast was very moving. I identify strongly with the struggles of both Harris and Murray in being willfully misunderstood and slandered. I am completing my dissertation in the behavioural sciences and I am coming across findings that are not politically correct. I am somewhat fearful about the repercussions I may face in the short term, i.e. completing my PhD, and in the long term with my career upon reporting these findings, however delicately I couch them.

I think it is shameful that researchers have to feel bullied by the zeitgeist that is so much against truth, free inquiry, and freedom of expression. We should not be afraid to look at the world and see what is there. That is the only way that we can truly pursue our values and shared goals of equality and justice. Ignoring inconvenient findings and punishing people for doing their very best to pursue scientific knowledge is unconscionable. Students believing that it is their right to assault people with whom they disagree is criminal, and should be punished as such. I hope that the far left begins to see that these terrible attitudes are a huge part of how most people have been alienated from them, leading to the rise of people like the current president. As well meaning as I suspect they are deep down, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

 
candid_observer
 
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23 April 2017 20:02
 
vinainor - 23 April 2017 12:50 PM

...The problem I have with the hereditary view of Intelligence is that the hereditarians rarely acknowledge that the heredity of intelligence varies so much across cultural contexts. Even within the US, the heredity of intelligence among the middle class white population is close to 0.8, while for the American working class white population, it is close to 0.2. That is a dramatic population difference in how heritable intelligence is….

The issue of differing heritability across SES is hardly settled in the way you seem to suggest. There are a number of recent studies—with much larger samples overall—which conclude that heritability is essentially the same at high, middle, and low SES. I believe some are linked to in the following comment on another blog:

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/ses-and-heritability-of-intelligence/#comment-1684156

But rather than arguing further by matching links against links, perhaps it might be best to pull back and look at the big picture.

Obviously, you and other environmentalists believe that we can change the IQ fortunes of various people and groups of people by one environmental manipulation or another.

But all previous environmental manipulations have never been successful—certainly not in the long run. If any had been, then, of course, it would have been widely replicated. All the books over the years like Nisbett’s suggesting that IQs can be improved dramatically have never been confirmed by a single clear case in which such a thing has actually occurred.

On the other hand, books like The Bell Curve, which suggest that genes play a big role in IQ, and what’s left can’t be much manipulated anyway, get nothing but confirmation of all of their predictions.

If you’re of a rational bent, and not inclined to wishful thinking, which side seems more plausible, given the overall evidence?

 
vinainor
 
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23 April 2017 21:29
 

candid_observer,

I am already looking at the big picture. I’m the only one here going beyond US data and bringing up cross-cultural data, and the cross-cultural data suggests that the LOW reliability of the heritability of intelligence across populations is quite reliable. Also, I am not an environmentalist. I am an interactionist. Most serious biologists don’t take Nature VS. Nurture debates seriously anymore. It’s Nature AND Nurture. Think epigenetics, culture-gene interaction, culture-gene coevolution theory, diathesis-stress model, cumulative continuity, ecological selection of genes (i.e, natural selection), the role of social learning in cumulative cultural evolution, intergenerational transmission of cultural information (i.e., think about the significance that middle class African-Americans have not, on average, been in the middle class as long as white-Americans, on average), etc., etc.

[ Edited: 24 April 2017 09:13 by vinainor]
 
occidentalist
 
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24 April 2017 07:36
 

I’d be curious to hear Sam’s thoughts on Tim Wise’s views on The Bell Curve.

http://www.timwise.org/1994/11/but-i-can-explain-racism-and-the-culture-of-denial/
http://www.timwise.org/1999/03/bias-by-the-numbers-examining-the-data-on-white-racism/
http://www.timwise.org/2002/12/making-nice-with-racists-david-horowitz-the-respectable-right-and-the-soft-pedaling-of-white-supremacy/

Some excerpts:

After all, I don’t recall any indignant criticisms by Horowitz in response to Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s book, The Bell Curve–a collection of sociobiological nonsense, whose authors say blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, and who praise and include the research of Richard Lynn: a racist scholar who has called for the “phasing out” of “inferior” peoples. Among other things, Murray and Herrnstein conclude that for most blacks there is little benefit that can be gained from education since the cost of educational enrichment will not likely be “repaid” by greater black cognitive development.

Yet far from condemning The Bell Curve or the conservative movement that greeted the volume in the mid-1990s, Horowitz’s group — the Center for the Study of Popular Culture — has received roughly $4 million from the same Bradley Foundation that subsidized Murray’s research for the book and continued supporting him after publication. Not only has David never flinched at the thought of taking money from the group that paid for the distribution of such racist scholarship, but indeed when pressed on his own views about the link between race and IQ, Horowitz merely offers that he “isn’t convinced.” How terribly ecumenical.

To wit, the recent release of a book touted as “daring” for its ill-conceived conclusion that race and IQ are biologically related, and that blacks are generally less intelligent than whites: a recapitulation of nineteenth century sociobiological nonsense no more “brave” than a book claiming the Holocaust never happened. Its principal author, Charles Murray, is the same self-proclaimed intellectual who ten years ago penned Losing Ground, which eschewed genetic explanations for black failure, and instead blamed “cultural pathology,” presumably bred by the welfare state, which, in Murray’s estimation, encourages dependence, laziness, and an intense desire to have children out-of-wedlock.

Forget for a moment that neither Losing Ground, nor the recently-released Bell Curve, adhere to generally-accepted rules of statistical interpretation; or that its supporters have an obvious problem distinguishing between the concepts of causation and correlation; or that Murray and co-author, Richard Herrnstein, rely on the research of such crackpots as Philippe Rushton, of Ontario, who postulates that blacks have smaller brains because they have larger penises, and “You can’t have everything.” Forget all this for now, and ask only what the popularity of the biological and cultural pathology theories says about our nation’s unwillingness to face up to the possibility that bias against people of color in employment, housing and education may still be a problem.

We so badly want to absolve our nation of the charge of racism, that we will say anything, believe anything, and come up with any excuse for the conditions faced by persons of color. It is telling that Murray’s critics seem most upset that by placing his intellectual eggs in the basket of pseudo-scientific racialism, he might lose credibility as a leading light in the “culture of poverty” school: a school attended religiously by many of these same critics.

One might expect Murray’s detractors to begin questioning his veracity and scholarly competence, given that he has gone from virtual certainty as to the importance of culture on racial inequity, to militant championing of the notion that genes are the primary culprits, all in the course of a few short years. Both books are heavily footnoted. Both feign intellectual certitude. Yet, instead of being laughed out of policy circles for his inconsistency, Murray’s most vocal critics seem as though they would be content were he simply to give up all this IQ foolishness so he could get back to the really neat stuff about welfare queens in Cadillacs, poppin’ out young’uns, and sucking down all that government cheese. Now there’s a social scientist we can live with!

That other explanations for poverty among persons of color, like structural economic dislocation, regressive tax and fiscal policy, or continued discrimination go ignored, indicates how narrow is the spectrum of thought on this matter, the monolithic “liberal” media notwithstanding.

 
candid_observer
 
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24 April 2017 09:18
 
vinainor - 23 April 2017 09:29 PM

candid_observer,

I am already looking at the big picture. I’m the only one here going beyond US data and bringing up cross-cultural data, and the cross-cultural data suggests that the LOW reliability of the heritability of intelligence across populations is quite reliable. Also, I am not an environmentalist. I am an interactionist. Most serious biologists don’t take Nature VS. Nurture debates seriously anymore. It’s Nature AND Nurture.

One keeps hearing the mantra, “It’s Nature AND Nurture.” Of course, in some trivial sense it’s true—but how does it apply to cases we care about?

If someone were to imprison a child and bring them up like Kasper Hauser, no doubt it would have a seriously negative effect on his cognitive abilities. In that sense, Nurture has a major impact on outcome.

But these aren’t the sorts of cases we care about, because they are so extraordinary. The real question is: what kinds of outcomes can we expect in the vast range of real cases of children, family environments, and schools, in contemporary American society? The best evidence is that Nurture, in the sense of shared environment, has a very limited effect in those cases, and that Nature—or, more accurately, Nature + non-shared environment—dominates in determining the outcome.

In short, the claim “It’s Nature AND Nurture” is mostly empty rhetoric. Whether we like it or not, the best evidence is that Nurture does NOT play a big role in the cases of genuine interest. In contemporary American society, the level of economic comfort and schooling for virtually all children is already good enough that we can’t manage to change outcomes by better schooling or, indeed, anything else.

 
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