Why people who are normally rational approach the race and intelligence debate in irrational ways

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Why people who are normally rational approach the race and intelligence debate in irrational ways

In the various nature versus nurture debates, left-wing people tend to come down heavily on the side of nurture (perhaps with the exception of the cause of homosexuality, wherein they tend to be very supportive of the nature explanation).  It's no secret that most Atheists tend towards leftism, so, as an Atheist who opposes all dogma, both religious and secular, I feel the need to address this topic because I see a large percentage of my fellow Atheists falling into religion-like thinking, as I shall outline below.

Various studies in the U.S. have shown that the mean IQ of people whose ancestors are indigenous to northeastern Asia, Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa are around 103, 100, and 85, respectively.  Now, the nurture camp has a tendency to react very emotionally to this data, and condemn hereditarian explanations before even giving them a fair consideration.  In other words, it is very evident that there is a widespread a priori bias against the notion that the IQ gaps between races is partially hereditary [note:  no one denies that environment accounts for part of these gaps, rather, what is disputed is whether the gaps are 100% due to environmental differences or partially due to environmental differences].  When books and articles favoring a partial hereditarian explanation are published, the nurture camp behaves like Christian and Muslim fundamentalists in the following ways:

    * They deny the data outright because it conflicts with their prior ideological commitments (this is reminiscent of the creation-evolution debate)
    * They make up nonsense excuses, such as "IQ tests are culturally biased in favor of European-Americans." [this is utterly ridiculous, since Americans of northeastern Asian descent have a higher average IQ score than the other two groups, as stated above] (again, this conjures up images of creationist behavior)
    * They accuse the hereditarian of having sinister ulterior motives, such as wanting to make it socially acceptable for whites to lynch blacks again (just as creationists accuse evolutionists of having a naturalist/materialist ulterior motive to deny the existence of god via their work)

Regarding the last item, I am offended by these immature accusations.  I simply love knowledge, and I also believe in the rule of law as well as the Golden Rule.  I am interested in the truth of this issue, just as I am interested to see that cosmologists have revised their estimate for the age of the universe from 15 billion years to 13.7 billion years, and that an octopus was just observed using coconuts to build a shelter, and all sorts of other discoveries across all fields of human knowledge.  I love the truth, and I am a law-abiding, respectful person, period. In one-on-one conversations with nurture people, I have conveyed this to them, whereupon realizing that I am not some asshole out to change society for the worse, many of them have confided in me that they realize that the evidence for a partial hereditarian explanation is quite strong (with DNA evidence just coming out, trans-racial adoption studies, and so forth), but that they publicly react in a knee-jerk, emotional way because they think that the masses cannot handle this information in a mature, non-violent way.  So some of the nature people fall into the dishonest category.  Others seem to fall into the deluded/arrogant category, wherein they think that the universe just so happens to resonate with their a priori ideological convictions ("My ideology is X, therefore reality must behave like I say it behaves.&quotEye-wink.

As food for thought, consider this:  http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14742737

Note:  I am putting this thread in the Philosophy and Psychology forum because I wish to discuss the way many people (many of whom are Atheists) react to the evidence and arguments in favor or the partial hereditarian explanation, more so than the evidence itself.  Even if the IQ gaps turn out to be 100% environmental, the ways that supposedly rational people have reacted to ideas that they don't agree with is shameful, in my opinion.  So I'd like this thread to focus more on the philosophical outlooks and psychological dispositions that cause rational people to fail to address an opposing idea calmly, civilly, and rationally, than on the body of evidence itself.
 


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So... what you're saying

So... what you're saying here is that the black Americans, on average, are stupider than the Chinese and European expats, and that you have statistical proof that shows this in a non-ambiguous way, is that right? That might be the case. I don't know.

However, what I do know is that no such research exists in a vacuum.

Who ordered these data and what kind of larger program are they meant to support? This is the first question that comes to my mind. Who needs this data? You see, my honest and law-abiding friend, reacting negatively to such information isn't necessarily a question of being leftist or politically correct. It might also be an intuitive disapproval of that which is hiding behind your statistical IQ figures that I am sure are neatly classified in terms of race, gender, class, and whatnot. What kind of subconscious undercurrents are there in this picture?

The reason why you don't "get it" is because you're not looking in the right place.

And before you think that *I* am a leftie; I am not. I am an aristocrat. I am so conservative I make Djengis Khan look like a freewheelin' hippie boy.

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"IQ test" is a misnomer.

"IQ test" is a misnomer. They don't measure intelligence. IQ tests are aptitude tests that test for skills that can be learned. So pointing out that people from cultures largely incompatible with our own who lack modern schooling score poorly on IQ tests doesn't mean a lot.

Even the idea of intelligence being some linear trait that a number can be assigned to is laughable. All of human intelligence can be boiled down to a one dimensional scale and a written test can tell you where you are on that scale? What a joke.

Add on top of that the fact that our conception of races has nothing, let me repeat that: absolutely nothing, to do with genetic similarities. Are American blacks on average as good at academics as American whites? No. Are they perhaps genetically predisposed to stupidity or aversion to schooling? Maybe, but don't make genetic claims without genetic evidence. Maybe they are culturally predisposed to be adverse to schooling in much the same way that white trash (whom are as white as rich whites) are adverse to learning in schools.

 

Quote:

So I'd like this thread to focus more on the philosophical outlooks and psychological dispositions that cause rational people to fail to address an opposing idea calmly, civilly, and rationally, than on the body of evidence itself.

Absolutely not. The facts of the matter (ie: IQ tests not measuring intelligence and our conception of races being arbitrary and completely devoid of any physiological or genetic basis) are very relevant. I will not ignore them in order to quibble over vague philosophical feelings.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Marquis wrote:So... what

Marquis wrote:

So... what you're saying here is that the black Americans, on average, are stupider than the Chinese and European expats, and that you have statistical proof that shows this in a non-ambiguous way, is that right?

First, I'm not referring exclusively to expats.  I am referring to people whose ancestry is from those regions who live in the U.S. (since the studies in question are often conducted in the U.S.).

Second, as for what I am saying:  this entire debate isn't over who is "smarter" and who is "stupider", but instead, over whether the observed differences are entirely environmental, or environmental and hereditary, in nature.  I am saying that the evidence supports the latter position.

Quote:
However, what I do know is that no such research exists in a vacuum.

Who ordered these data and what kind of larger program are they meant to support?

1)  Why is this question relevant?  A truth spoken by a person of shady character and/or bad intentions is still the truth.

2)  The question that you ask can easily be the prelude to an ad hominem fallacy (not that you necessarily have that in mind).

3)  As a matter of fact, the people who ordered this data are a diverse group.

Quote:
This is the first question that comes to my mind. Who needs this data?

1)  People who are curious need this data to satisfy their curiosity.  Nothing should be off limits to investigation.  To maintain otherwise is to maintain the ignorance is preferable to knowledge in some cases, and that is a despicable position.

2)  It has been suggested that gene therapy may be used to boost the intelligence of cognitively deficient people.  Ironically, if this turns out to be a viable option, it is the dogmatic egalitarians who are impeding equality by trying to silence and intimidate their opponents.

Quote:
You see, my honest and law-abiding friend, reacting negatively to such information isn't necessarily a question of being leftist or politically correct. It might also be an intuitive disapproval of that which is hiding behind your statistical IQ figures that I am sure are neatly classified in terms of race, gender, class, and whatnot. What kind of subconscious undercurrents are there in this picture?

Again, how is any of this relevant?  The truth stands no matter who discovers/reports/promotes it. 

Quote:
The reason why you don't "get it" is because you're not looking in the right place.

And before you think that *I* am a leftie; I am not. I am an aristocrat. I am so conservative I make Djengis Khan look like a freewheelin' hippie boy.

I understand.  However, political correctness is so pervasive that even conservatives practice it in various ways.  Hell, Bush Jr. (and yes, I know, he's not a conservative in the classical sense, but in the context of the modern-day U.S., he is on the right side of the spectrum), praised Islam as a "religion of peace."  Non-liberal politicians bend over backwards to be PC all of the time.  Surely you're aware of that.


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Jormungander wrote:"IQ test"

Jormungander wrote:

"IQ test" is a misnomer. They don't measure intelligence. IQ tests are aptitude tests that test for skills that can be learned. So pointing out that people from cultures largely incompatible with our own who lack modern schooling score poorly on IQ tests doesn't mean a lot.

Even the idea of intelligence being some linear trait that a number can be assigned to is laughable. All of human intelligence can be boiled down to a one dimensional scale and a written test can tell you where you are on that scale? What a joke.

I fully agree.  However, if you put all of the sloppyness in the definition and measure of intelligence aside, there is still good reason to think that there are heritable differences in cognitive abilities. 

Take a true random number generator (using radioactive decay, for example) that outputs a 10 digit number.  Have it output a random number, and then

, a minute later, output another random number.  The probability of the two numbers being identical is one in ten billion.  Do you think that groups that have evolved in radically different physical environments for tens of thousands of years will not have any heritable differences in cognitive abilities?  The probability that they do not is very low.

Quote:
Add on top of that the fact that our conception of races has nothing, let me repeat that: absolutely nothing, to do with genetic similarities.

There is slop in conventional racial classification schemes.  However, modern genetic research shows that human geographic populations do cluster genetically:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Luca_Cavalli-Sforza

Quote:
Are American blacks on average as good at academics as American whites? No. Are they perhaps genetically predisposed to stupidity or aversion to schooling? Maybe, but don't make genetic claims without genetic evidence.

Fair enough, but, according to the Economist article linked to in the OP, a tidal wave of such genetic evidence will be forthcoming very soon.

Quote:
Maybe they are culturally predisposed to be adverse to schooling in much the same way that white trash (whom are as white as rich whites) are adverse to learning in schools.

Using the specific example that you chose here, American blacks, there is begging of the question:  how did blacks end up socio-economically behind in the first place?  You may say that socio-economic status tends to be transmitted down the generations, and that most blacks started off dirt poor, and in a disadvantaged position upon emancipation, and I would agree with you.  However, this standard answer begs another question:  how is it that whites ended up enslaving blacks in the first place, and not vice versa?  You may reply "Read Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Stee", which I have done.  The problem with the explanation offered by this book, and similar explanations, is that they really end up supporting the hereditarian position.  According to Diamond and others, the civilization gaps between human populations is due to environmental factors that persisted for tens of thousands of years, but differences in environment are precisely the cause of the evolutionary divergence of isolated populations over time

Quote:
Absolutely not. The facts of the matter (ie: IQ tests not measuring intelligence and our conception of races being arbitrary and completely devoid of any physiological or genetic basis) are very relevant. I will not ignore them in order to quibble over vague philosophical feelings.

I am interested in what you, and others, think of people who reject ideas, without considering the data and arguments presented in favor of said ideas, due to a priori ideological commitments, much like creationists.  That is why I started this thread.  As I said above, the people throwing the hissy fits may happen to be professing the correct position, but they are not behaving like calm, dispassionate pursuers of the truth behave.


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Dogma Hater wrote:A truth

Dogma Hater wrote:
A truth spoken by a person of shady character and/or bad intentions is still the truth.

 

Now I am left thinking that, at best, you have only a very wishy-washy relation to the concept of truth. In my opinion, it isn't truth if it can be questioned, no matter from which angle; much less if the deeds it may lead towards are morally questionable. I myself reject persons of shady character and/or bad intentions on principle. I am not interested in whatever they might have to say. Build character before you build arguments is my position in that issue.

 

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So if a person of shady

So if a person of shady character said that all life on this planet evolved from a common ancestor, you would question his claim?


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Jormungander wrote:"IQ test"

Jormungander wrote:

"IQ test" is a misnomer. They don't measure intelligence. IQ tests are aptitude tests that test for skills that can be learned. So pointing out that people from cultures largely incompatible with our own who lack modern schooling score poorly on IQ tests doesn't mean a lot.

Even the idea of intelligence being some linear trait that a number can be assigned to is laughable. All of human intelligence can be boiled down to a one dimensional scale and a written test can tell you where you are on that scale? What a joke.

Add on top of that the fact that our conception of races has nothing, let me repeat that: absolutely nothing, to do with genetic similarities. Are American blacks on average as good at academics as American whites? No. Are they perhaps genetically predisposed to stupidity or aversion to schooling? Maybe, but don't make genetic claims without genetic evidence. Maybe they are culturally predisposed to be adverse to schooling in much the same way that white trash (whom are as white as rich whites) are adverse to learning in schools.

 

Quote:

So I'd like this thread to focus more on the philosophical outlooks and psychological dispositions that cause rational people to fail to address an opposing idea calmly, civilly, and rationally, than on the body of evidence itself.

Absolutely not. The facts of the matter (ie: IQ tests not measuring intelligence and our conception of races being arbitrary and completely devoid of any physiological or genetic basis) are very relevant. I will not ignore them in order to quibble over vague philosophical feelings.

The other thing is that IQ tests are designed in such a way that the tasks/challenges/whatever are self-contained within the test itself. In other words, all the information you need to solve the problem is contained in the questions/instructions. My particular feeling on the validity of IQ tests is that no matter where or how I've taken one, my IQ is always EXACTLY the same as it was when I first had one at age eleven. If it were culturally biased, one would expect that having lived in western culture all this time, my IQ would rise. It hasn't.

I'm not going to touch the other issues in this post because they're too complex and controversial and I need to get ready to go party!

Happy New Year, everyone.


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Dogma Hater wrote:if a

Dogma Hater wrote:

if a person of shady character said

 

Oh dear. You don't get it, do you?

In my opinion, the problem is if a person of shady character talks to me. What he actually says is of no consequence.

No, you don't get that. You are no aristocrat. You have no spine like that.

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I'm afraid that you don't

I'm afraid that you don't understand that I'm secure enough to talk to whomever I feel like talking to. 

What is the value of being an aristocrat?


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Yeah i prefer to  look at

Yeah i prefer to  look at things at an individual level not as a whole after all thats all thats important in our very small lives. Its a null question it doesn't help. There probably is a differance mentally inbetween the races. There are physical differances so it isn't a strech to think there are mental ones aswell. I wouldn't know what they are. But what i do know is there are smart and dumb people in every race. Judging the individual by the whole seems a stupid thing to do. btw that guns germs and steel is a good book, duno the truth of it but it is interesting.

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Jormungander wrote:"IQ test"

Jormungander wrote:
"IQ test" is a misnomer. They don't measure intelligence. IQ tests are aptitude tests that test for skills that can be learned. So pointing out that people from cultures largely incompatible with our own who lack modern schooling score poorly on IQ tests doesn't mean a lot.

QFT. I took an IQ test once. It seemed to be an "intelligence" test of sorts up until it asked me what the capital of Texas was, and various other questions irrelevant to intellect. As of that moment it became as much a test of aquired knowledge as anything. I stopped participating then and there.

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Vastet wrote:Jormungander

Vastet wrote:
Jormungander wrote:
"IQ test" is a misnomer. They don't measure intelligence. IQ tests are aptitude tests that test for skills that can be learned. So pointing out that people from cultures largely incompatible with our own who lack modern schooling score poorly on IQ tests doesn't mean a lot.
QFT. I took an IQ test once. It seemed to be an "intelligence" test of sorts up until it asked me what the capital of Texas was, and various other questions irrelevant to intellect. As of that moment it became as much a test of aquired knowledge as anything. I stopped participating then and there.

That doesn't sound like a valid IQ test to me. As I mentioned above, they should be based on problem solving skills that require no a priori knowledge...


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smartypants wrote:Vastet

smartypants wrote:

Vastet wrote:
Jormungander wrote:
"IQ test" is a misnomer. They don't measure intelligence. IQ tests are aptitude tests that test for skills that can be learned. So pointing out that people from cultures largely incompatible with our own who lack modern schooling score poorly on IQ tests doesn't mean a lot.
QFT. I took an IQ test once. It seemed to be an "intelligence" test of sorts up until it asked me what the capital of Texas was, and various other questions irrelevant to intellect. As of that moment it became as much a test of aquired knowledge as anything. I stopped participating then and there.

That doesn't sound like a valid IQ test to me. As I mentioned above, they should be based on problem solving skills that require no a priori knowledge...

I took an IQ test that had analogy and anagram questions. That tests a person's vocabulary. If you already know what words like philology and anadromous mean you'll get a higher score and there's no explanation of those terms in the test.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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In my complaints about IQ

In my complaints about IQ tests themselves, I forgot the most damning problem with them: the Flynn effect.

Over time all of Western society's average IQ score has increased by a lot. The tests have to keep being re-normalized in order to drag the average back down to 100. For instance, the IQ test results of Spanish kids in 1970 and in 2000 were compared. The kids in 2000 had an average score of about 10 points higher if the same standard of what "100" means is applied to both groups. Though of course, thanks to normalizing the tests, the current average is "100" and the average 40 years ago is "100." But those are two very different "100"s.

Are all people in first world Western countries are getting more intelligent as time progresses? Using our modern standards for determining the average intelligence, the average person in the 1930's was borderline retarded. That doesn't seem to make sense. We aren't inherently much more intelligent than people who lived 80 years ago. The average 1930's guy wasn't on the verge of mental retardation.

So why do we score so much higher on IQ tests than people from previous decades (to the point that they appear to be verging on retardation by our new standards)? I subscribe to the idea that our modern schooling (and perhaps better childhood nutrition and overall health) is upping our IQ test scores. We teach kids how to take standardized tests. The youth of today is much more familiar with standardized tests than a person of the same age who lived in the 1930's or a kid who lives in some shithole third world country and has never seen a school. And so, we score extremely higher on average than people from past decades or people from extremely poor nations. We aren't objectively smarter, but we are really good at filling out those tests.

And when you compare a bunch of well schooled upper-class Americans or British to poor people who don't value education or Sub-Saharan Africans who effectively lack schooling, what do you find? The poor and the Africans score, on average, much lower than than the rich and Westerners. And yes, poor Westerners score significantly lower than rich Westerners. Does that really mean that the rich and the Whites are genetically superior in terms of intelligence to the poor and Africans? I don't think so. But, we are way better than them at filling out those tests.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Jormungander wrote:In my

Jormungander wrote:

In my complaints about IQ tests themselves, I forgot the most damning problem with them: the Flynn effect.

Over time all of Western society's average IQ score has increased by a lot. The tests have to keep being re-normalized in order to drag the average back down to 100. For instance, the IQ test results of Spanish kids in 1970 and in 2000 were compared. The kids in 2000 had an average score of about 10 points higher if the same standard of what "100" means is applied to both groups. Though of course, thanks to normalizing the tests, the current average is "100" and the average 40 years ago is "100." But those are two very different "100"s.

Are all people in first world Western countries are getting more intelligent as time progresses? Using our modern standards for determining the average intelligence, the average person in the 1930's was borderline retarded. That doesn't seem to make sense. We aren't inherently much more intelligent than people who lived 80 years ago. The average 1930's guy wasn't on the verge of mental retardation.

So why do we score so much higher on IQ tests than people from previous decades (to the point that they appear to be verging on retardation by our new standards)? I subscribe to the idea that our modern schooling (and perhaps better childhood nutrition and overall health) is upping our IQ test scores. We teach kids how to take standardized tests. The youth of today is much more familiar with standardized tests than a person of the same age who lived in the 1930's or a kid who lives in some shithole third world country and has never seen a school. And so, we score extremely higher on average than people from past decades or people from extremely poor nations. We aren't objectively smarter, but we are really good at filling out those tests.

And when you compare a bunch of well schooled upper-class Americans or British to poor people who don't value education or Sub-Saharan Africans who effectively lack schooling, what do you find? The poor and the Africans score, on average, much lower than than the rich and Westerners. And yes, poor Westerners score significantly lower than rich Westerners. Does that really mean that the rich and the Whites are genetically superior in terms of intelligence to the poor and Africans? I don't think so. But, we are way better than them at filling out those tests.

You're absolutely correct in your criticisms of IQ tests.  They are poorly designed and lack standardization, and often measure one's level of education more so than one's inherent aptitudes.  However, this begs the question:  Why do Western countries haver better education and more wealth in the first place?