Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Racial differences in intelligence - the commentary that followed

So the discourse unfolded over at Stumbling and mumbling as follows:
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Curious, your post merely proves that if someone is looking to be offended, they will be offended.
Actually to me the author seems to be underlining the point that the problem with the performance of black children in our schools is likely not because of inherent differences but because of cultural and/or institutional barriers, such as those you point out.
Posted by: Aceris March 13, 2006 at 12:17 PM
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I do find your [Chris Dillow's] 'unworthy thought' a bit conspiratorial. The most obvious reason there is no research showing an intelligence diffence is that there is no intelligence difference. The main reason normally to be suspicous that you aren't getting the whole picture is when the conclusions are clearly at odds with what 'common sense' would tell you. In this case as they are in line with 'common sense' it seems odd to wonder whether they are only partial.
Posted by: Matthew March 13, 2006 at 02:17 PM
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Ditto to Matthew. If a study showed genetic differences, it would be filed under "interesting but probably an outlier, more research needed". Think of the studies that appeared to show that homeopathy worked; they haven't been discredited, just diluted to insignificance by further studies which didn't show it working.
Posted by: Phil March 13, 2006 at 02:42 PM
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To Aceris:
I have come across your comment "if someone is looking to be offended, they will be offended" many times within the context of people being unable to comprehend the experiences of others and as a consequence, the interpretation of their actions by other people.
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Your comment would hold true were it, for example, just one case and one experience. However, many have found that in situations where offence has escalated to verbal and, subsequently, legal action, the accused more often than not states "if someone is looking to be offended, they will be offended." It's a get-out-of-jail-free card that is often used and understandably has the sympathy of others of the same ilk.

I have not misunderstood the article, on the contrary. I, like Mathew (comments above) find the 'unworthy thought' a bit conspiratorial. I agree with Mathew that "The most obvious reason there is no research showing an intelligence difference is that there is no intelligence difference."
My comments address the following question and its premise: "This only raises the question. If there are no innate differences in mental abilities between blacks and whites, why do black boys do so badly at school, in both the US and UK? Are black boys held back by teacher racism or by "black culture" or what?"

WHY DOES THIS SORT OF RESEARCH ALWAYS AROUSE PEOPLE'S ANGER? BECAUSE THE PREMISE OF THE ARGUMENT IS NOT SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OR FOR ANY OTHER PURPORTED REASON OTHER THAN TO ASSERT ONE RACE OVER ANOTHER. There have been papers published at PhD level in American universities that argue that Blacks are superior. This too is unacceptable!!!

At any given time and place, any time in the past and in the future, this sort of useless, self-fulfilling, prejudicial research will destroy rather than build on society, science, etc, regardless of whatever race the researchers are from.
I hope you get my point.
Posted by: Curious March 13, 2006 at 02:58 PM

'curious', given that Chris D has hypothesised that your explanation (teacher racism) fits the data, why fly off the handle? Part of me is morbidly curious about how you'd react to someone who actually _disagreed_ with you...
Posted by: Chris Williams March 13, 2006 at 03:14 PM

"why do black boys do so badly at school, in both the US and UK?"
Two words: welfare culture.
Posted by: John Hustings March 13, 2006 at 03:24 PM

To Chris Williams:
You wrote: "Part of me is morbidly curious about how you'd react to someone who actually _disagreed_ with you..."
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I quite love a good debate/discussion. I don't believe in dogma. People can agree or disagree, like you can choose to disagree.
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I responded to this question: "If there are no innate differences in mental abilities between blacks and whites, why do black boys do so badly at school, in both the US and UK? Are black boys held back by teacher racism or by "black culture" or what?"
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My view is that the DIRECTION of the question suggests that the "proposer" believes in White intellectual supremacy over blacks, otherwise why ask "why do blacks do worse if it is not because they are intellectually inferior?"...or as Chris put it "If there are no innate differences in mental abilities between blacks and whites, why do black boys do so badly at school", which is the same thing.
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The premise of this question is extremely racist. And as I said in my comments, maybe you HAVE to be a minority to see it.
Posted by: Curious March 13, 2006 at 03:33 PM
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I'd like for John Hustings to please clarify his answer.
Posted by: Curious March 13, 2006 at 03:34 PM
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And by the way, I read Chris' blog and have a link to him from mine. I am thoroughly into plain-good intellectual banter. However, I uncomfortable with this latest post.
Posted by: Curious March 13, 2006 at 03:37 PM
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This may be of some interest:
http://anjool.co.uk/dissertation.pdf
I am saying no more, this issue is *such* a can of worms!
Posted by: The Moai March 13, 2006 at 03:41 PM
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Curious,
A premise is "a statement presumed true within the context of a discourse". The only premise I can see in this post is that that black kids fare worse at school that white kids. Your own initial comment give anecdotal evidence of that.
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You must be offended by something else. You seem to think that the way the question is phrased (its "direction") somehow favours the explanation that there is an innate difference in mental ablity. Is that it? If so, well, I think you're mistaken.
Posted by: Luis Enrique March 13, 2006 at 03:58 PM
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It's amazing how a small grammatical tweak can make such difference. Curious takes exception to the phrase: "If there are no innate differences in mental abilities between blacks and whites, why do black boys do so badly at school?"What I could have said was: "Given that there are no innate differences in mental abilities between blacks and whites, why do black boys do so badly at school?" Until now, I wasn't aware that the difference between "given that" and "if" was great enough to make the difference between being a racist and a non-racist. Curious, I'm sorry if I gave needless offence. Blame my weak grasp of the English language.
Posted by: Chris (author of stumbling and mumbling) March 13, 2006 at 04:04 PM
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To Chris:
I read a lot of your stuff on markets (page 42 of the Investor's Chronicle) and other stuff that you write here. The bottom line is that you don't come across as gramatically ineffective nor do you come across as offensive. As regards being racist or otherwise, the question posed comes across conspiratorial and - to me - suggests a predisposition that I obviously cannot prove exists but I cited as infered.Had you worded it as "Given that there are no innate differences..." I would still have offered my comments but there would be nothing relating to the premise of the question.

To Luis Enrique:Thanks for the English lesson on semantics. However, I will go a step further and say that the PREMISE" of a study into racial divides in intelligence is racist, IRRESPECTIVE of which race is undertaking it. Hence my comments "There have been papers published at PhD level in American universities that argue that Blacks are superior. This too is unacceptable!!!"
Posted by: Curious March 13, 2006 at 04:38 PM
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Hey, think nothing of it (although I see you have work to do - a study is not a premise). But anyway, you find very act of investigating possible differences between the races offensive. OK then.
Posted by: Luis Enrique March 13, 2006 at 04:50 PM
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To Luis Enrique:
You must surely be having a joke at my expense (which I don't mind). You wrote: "(although I see you have work to do - a study is not a premise)."

Even with your provided definition, I mean premise, not something else. I mean the idea that forms the basis for the research, an idea that is deemed reasonable by the researchers and faculty, i.e.: as a line of argument, hence the researchers probe into it to investigate. I mean premise.

You wrote: "you find very act of investigating possible differences between the races offensive."
If, as humans, we don't investigate unknowns then we won't have any advances. This is so in economics, pure science, etc. So I disagree with your statement because it lacks the context of this specific research that we are talking about, i.e.: "Testing for Racial Differences in the Mental Ability of Young Children".

The outcome of such research will invariably be:
1. Who’s better at sports?
2. Who’s smarter?
3. Etc,
4. Etc, etc.
I disagree with this kind of research in as much as I disagree with organisations or countries investigating the possible uses of chemistry for chemical warfare.
Posted by: Curious March 13, 2006 at 05:59 PM
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"I'd like for John Hustings to please clarify his answer."
Seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Black people are too heavily reliant on welfare of all kinds. Welfare has hugely damaging effects on the family unit, educational attainment, behaviour, self-respect, and career aspiration. When you have a group of people continually demanding something for nothing (and getting it) there is no impetus to go on and achieve something for themselves.
Posted by: John Hustings March 13, 2006 at 07:24 PM
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Okay... black boys generally perform worse at school than other ethnic groups, and according to this study there's nothing to really indicate that this is genetic, so therefore the question is what does cause it?

That's what I read into the post. No connotations of racial superiority or inferiority, just a plain question.

In a democratic state, if a particular group performs differently to the rest of society then we need to ask why, and look for ways to change it. Research into sensitive topics is one of the only ways we're really going to do that.
Posted by: Matt March 13, 2006 at 08:59 PM

The problem with such questions are that they're used by people with agendas to push their own prejudices...
As an Asian, I'm not offended by the research or the question, but rather by the intention or the agenda. If the BNP lot were to do the 'research' then it would clearly be suspect. Anyway, I think the problems are more social and cultural than racial. For example, Indian/Chinese boys and girls do better than Pakistani/Bangladeshi boys and girls. Though there is a further split with Bangladeshi boys and girls too - with the girls doing much better.

Class is frequently mentioned as a factor, meaning the richer have a bigger emphasis on education. So is the fact that some groups live in socially deprived areas and therefore don't have enough resources or the inclination to study.

Parents may not be too bothered about their kids doing well at school...
The sociological 'self-fulfilling-prophecy' whereby teachers assume that black students are not going to do well anyway. The list is endless. However, I believe its time we, as ethnic minorities, took charge of this problem, rather than blaming the system. How exactly that translates into action... well I'm still working on it.
Posted by: Sunny March 14, 2006 at 05:10 AM
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To John Hastings:
Why don't you sign up to the KKK whilst your at it.
Your sweeping and heavily skewed views, which you made very arrogantly warrant no attention or merit at all. Perhaps the BNP would be interested in your views
Posted by: Curious March 14, 2006 at 09:32 AM
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...And one more thing for Mr Hastings.
Coincidentally, in today's Metro, there's an advertisement for Mayor Ken Livingstone's conference to debate the state of race equality in London (I know this has nothing to do with the research paper above, but your comments have digressed away from the point).

In the advertisement, it states "40% of Londoners are from Black, Asian and minority backgrounds, but many are concentrated in low-grade and menial roles".

I think this is a fantastic opportunity for you to email race.equality@london.gov.uk and tell them that (I quote you) "Black people are too heavily reliant on welfare of all kinds", and "When you have a group of people continually demanding something for nothing (and getting it) there is no impetus to go on and achieve something for themselves."

I also encourage you to show your face an exhibit the same arrogant conviction that you write with. Who knows, you may be seeing the naked emperor that we think is clothed.
Posted by: Curious March 14, 2006 at 11:12 AM
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Let's look at the question: "If Fred Bloggs is not greedy, how come he's so fat?"
Does this imply that Fred Bloggs is or is not greedy?

Neither and both - it all depends on the context.

The question could be angling at two types of response:
(i) Fred Bloggs is not greedy; he just eats the wrong things(ii) Fred Bloggs is greedy; it's the only thing that can be at the root of his fatness. Curious interpreted Chris's question:
"If there are no innate differences in mental abilities between blacks and whites, why do black boys do so badly at school?" along the lines of (ii) - even though I read it along the lines of (i) - that is, "if we're ruling out hypothesis a, what should we be looking at". So it's not just grammar, it's context, and the context you read it in will reflect your entire lifetime of experiences.

As for researching differences in intelligence between the 'races' - I agree it is wrongheaded but do not find it offensive. Viewing differences between groups as if they had racial causes is so ENDEMIC that I have given up hope that people will stop doing it.

Ask geneticists about the use of race as a biological category and they'll shrug their shoulders and sigh. There is more genetic variation within the so-called races than there is between them.
But as a social category, race clearly exists and affects people's identities, the ways the are treated, how they perform at school etc, jobs, where they tend to live (where they tend to have been born, in effect)...

Fifty years ago, the same sort of debate went on about innate intelligence differences between the classes. What am I saying? Fifteen years ago I had posh students at Oxford telling me that the working classes were obviously genetically less intelligent than the middle to upper classes and why couldn't I see this????
Posted by: Dander March 14, 2006 at 11:28 AM

It's Hustings, not Hastings.
And my point had nothing to do with "race". My point applies equally well to the "white" working class. Welfare culture has ruined many generations of people.
I don't see what you achieve by dismissing all those who wish to address racial disparities as "racist". You're the one who sounds "racist" to me.
Posted by: John Hustings March 14, 2006 at 10:38 PM

Pardon me Mr Hustings for getting your name wrong.

You conclude:"...And my point had nothing to do with race."
"My point applies equally well to the "white" working class."

But you started:"Black people are too heavily reliant on welfare of all kinds."
"When you have a group of people continually demanding something for nothing (and getting it) there is no impetus to go on and achieve something for themselves."

I think B&Q are having a sale. You clearly need a bigger shovel to keep digging with.

I wonder if you are going to take up my suggestion, i.e: go to the Mayor of London's conference on racial equality in London and voice your opinion "Black people are too heavily reliant on welfare of all kinds."

I think we all need our eyes opening so that we can see what you see. I for one would like to know what gives you the right to make such sweeping comments, if it is not because you are prejudiced - against blacks, or Asians, or the white "lower" class, or whoever. Prejudice, in principle, can be expressed towards different targets on a whim, be it sexism, racism, ageism, etc.
You might want to hurry, the B&Q sale ends soon.
Posted by: Curious March 15, 2006 at 09:57 AM

And another thing Mr Hustings...
You said:"I don't see what you achieve by dismissing all those who wish to address racial disparities as racist."

I say:If you want to do something constructive, let's all try to address why minorities are marginalised when looking for jobs, learning in schools, get harassed by the police, get followed around shops by security guards (regardless of how well presented and well spoken they are), get confused for the cleaner when they are queuing for a coffee in the office, get approached by unassuming white upper and middle-class for drugs for absolutely no apparent reason, AND THE LIST IS ENDLESS...

Let's NOT instead delve twice as much effort in investigating which race is smarter, because, as Dander above put it, "As for researching differences in intelligence between the 'races' - I agree it is wrongheaded".

That's all I have to say about this issue
Posted by: curious March 15, 2006 at 10:08 AM
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