Saturday, September 17, 2016

John Horgan: "Should Research On Race And IQ Be Banned?"

   Posted Without Comment.

[The Mystic does comment. I agree completely.]


Blogger Dark Avenger said...

The next thing you'll know, they won't be able to get funding for studying phlogiston or to study the luminiferous ether.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

And yet it moves

8:17 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

You remind me of the Church leaders who refused to look through Galileo's telescope, Winston.

As Carl Sagan put it:

The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

To the facts in the case:

The race concept should be removed from genetics research for the following reasons: Genetic methods do not support the classification of humans into discrete races, [and] racial assumptions are not good biological guideposts.Races are not genetically homogenous and lack clear-cut genetic boundaries. And because of this, using race as a proxy to make clinical predictions is about probability.

Of course, medicine can be about best guesses, but are we serving patients well if medical decisions are made because a patient identifies as part of a certain racial group or are identified as belonging to a specific race? What if, for example, the probability is that if you are white you are 90 percent likely to have a beneficial or at least non-harmful reaction to a particular drug? That sounds pretty good, but what if you are that 1 in 10 that is likely to have a harmful reaction? That doesn’t sound so good, and that is the problem with most race-based predictions. They are best guesses for an individual.

We also believe that a variable so mired in historical and contemporary controversy has no place in modern genetics. Race has both scientific and social meanings that are impossible to tease apart, and we worry that using such a concept in modern genetics does not serve the field well.

Here's some recent findings in the inheritability of human intellugence:

Intelligence is a core construct in differential psychology and behavioural genetics, and should be so in cognitive neuroscience. It is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes such as education, occupation, mental and physical health and illness, and mortality. Intelligence is one of the most heritable behavioural traits. Here, we highlight five genetic findings that are special to intelligence differences and that have important implications for its genetic architecture and for gene-hunting expeditions. (i) The heritability of intelligence increases from about 20% in infancy to perhaps 80% in later adulthood. (ii) Intelligence captures genetic effects on diverse cognitive and learning abilities, which correlate phenotypically about 0.30 on average but correlate genetically about 0.60 or higher. (iii) Assortative mating is greater for intelligence (spouse correlations ~0.40) than for other behavioural traits such as personality and psychopathology (~0.10) or physical traits such as height and weight (~0.20). Assortative mating pumps additive genetic variance into the population every generation, contributing to the high narrow heritability (additive genetic variance) of intelligence. (iv) Unlike psychiatric disorders, intelligence is normally distributed with a positive end of exceptional performance that is a model for ‘positive genetics’. (v) Intelligence is associated with education and social class and broadens the causal perspectives on how these three inter-correlated variables contribute to social mobility, and health, illness and mortality differences.These five findings arose primarily from twin studies. They are being confirmed by the first new quantitative genetic technique in a century—Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA)—which estimates genetic influence using genome-wide genotypes in large samples of unrelated individuals. Comparing GCTA results to the results of twin studies reveals important insights into the genetic architecture of intelligence that are relevant to narrow the 'missing heritability' gap.

8:58 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I can't get over the fact that these people opposed to merely observing an apparent correlation between race and IQ seem to be victims of their own inability to understand the simple fact that odious ends are not warranted by such observations.

Per the article, for example; if it is true that Hispanic people have, on average, a lower IQ than white people, that does not justify screening immigrants for IQ. What the hell is that? We don't give people IQ tests before they're permitted to be Americans. There's no justification for choosing characteristics such as IQ (or strength, or weight, or height...) to be requirements for citizenship in America. What, are we going to give these tests to all children born in America, as well, and deport any who fail to meet the standard?

Such a measure has nothing to do with the correlation between race and IQ at all. Its worthiness of implementation has nothing to do with that correlation.

It would probably actually be better for America if people had this data shoved into their faces so the population at large would have to grow up and figure out the simple fact that people aren't to be discriminated against because of such attributes. People would have to realize that a morally upright person who seeks what is good despite a low IQ is far more valuable than a morally despicable person who makes use of a high IQ to do wrong. And who would you rather have as a neighbor?

Humans covered this shit forever ago. Socrates whomped Thrasymachus into submission, proving that might does not make right, and that applies to physical as well as intellectual might. You don't get to abuse others because you're stronger than they are, and you don't get to abuse others because you're smarter than they are.

Unless I'm missing something extremely obvious (and thereby demonstrating that a high IQ, which I possess, is no guarantor of intellectual success), this stuff is so simple, it's just pathetic. If we can't realize that we must coexist despite even important, consequential distinctions in our qualities, we're going to be eugenicist, totalitarian asshats in no time flat.

These people arguing against investigation into correlations between race and IQ are basically agreeing with the racists they despise in some critical fashion. They're saying, in effect, that we must avert our eyes, for if we see the facts we think we will see, then we'll have to admit the racists are right.

And that's some bull shit, right there.



9:35 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, see, I already made that Galileo joke about you, so you have to think of something different to respond with...

Though I probably should have acknowledged that the phlogiston quip was at least pretty funny.

Nobody around these parts thinks that (Ex) (Gx and Lx) entails (x) (Lx --> Gx).

The only thing really relevant in your comment is:

> The race concept should be removed from genetics research for the following reasons: Genetic methods do not support the classification of humans into discrete races, [and] racial assumptions are not good biological guideposts.Races are not genetically homogenous and lack clear-cut genetic boundaries. And because of this, using race as a proxy to make clinical predictions is about probability.

Here is the response to this. We have been through this several times:

You are absolutely right that what you've posted is a version of *the central argument* of race nominalism.

Its conclusion does not follow from its premises.

This is the nature of natural kinds. They are fuzzy. They blend into each other. They have borderline cases and indeterminate borders. They form probabilistic clusters.

Race nominalism / social construtionism about race is driven by left-wing politics, in particular a (laudable) desire to fight racism.

But it isn't science.

or, if it is, it's bad science. Bad science plus bad logic. Bad science plus bad philosophy plus bad logic.

We can't keep having the same conversation every time...

The IQ stuff is fine. It's the result of the very type of research that's at issue. I'm honestly unclear why you included that.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You're a better man than I am, Mystic.

I really was posting without comment... Just sort of contemplating it or...well...posting it...

My principles are against it, for all the reasons you list.

But there's part of me that just wants to hide from race-and-IQ research because it isn't coming out the way I want it to, and...I dunno...bad bad bad all bad.

I know that the feared moral implications aren't actual implications... But it's just so goddamn disheartening. I want to say that it doesn't matter. Part of me believes, with my principles, that it doesn't.


Actual liberalism is a harsh mistress.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Find me one biologist, Winaton, just one, who believes that the concept of human races has a biological underpinning.

We found that high intelligence is familial, heritable, and caused by the same genetic and environmental factors responsible for the normal distribution of intelligence.

You see, Winston, you fail to understand that intelligence is a matter of environment as well, so acting as though IQ is determined mostly by heredity misses the point.

OTOH, given that my mother's family is Asian, unlike both sides of yours, and on average, Asians score higher than white people, that would mean statistically speaking, my IQ should be higher than yours.

So if you want to argue that whites are genetically inferior to Asians and examples of heterosis such as myself between Asians and white people

"Your proposal is acceptable."

12:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Jesus, DA, how can you be so clueless?

1. We've been through all this before--*all of it.*

2. As before: Jerry Coyne:

3. As before: it's largely in the U.S., where the relevant political pressure is operative, that race nominalism is trendy. Get outside of the U.S. and belief drops off. Go to Asia and it virtually disappears. I posted that link for you before, but I'm not going to look it up again.

> You see, Winston, you fail to understand that intelligence is a matter of environment as well, so acting as though IQ is determined mostly by heredity misses the point.


Find a place where I've ever said or suggested that I though that IQ is determined mostly by heredity. I have never said that. I have never believed that. I *would* believe that if the evidence showed it.

You're confusing the following propositions:

A. Races are natural kinds
B. There is a racial component of IQ
C. Race is the primary determinant of IQ
D. Research on race and IQ should be banned.

If you can't keep such different things straight, you can't have a conversation about this stuff.

> OTOH, given that my mother's family is Asian, unlike both sides of yours, and on average, Asians score higher than white people, that would mean statistically speaking, my IQ should be higher than yours.

FOR THE LOVE OF BLOODY GOD YOUR IQ **IS** LIKELY TO BE HIGHER THAN MINE (that is, if race is all we have to go on.)

I simply do not know how to make that any clearer. That is the current consensus among those who study such things.

Now, if you look at our arguments...well, I'd say that might alter the predictions somewhat...but let that go...

> So if you want to argue that whites are genetically inferior to Asians and examples of heterosis such as myself between Asians and white people.

The mind, it reels. I now realize you aren't even trying, and I'm wasting my time.

First, nobody said anything about genetic superiority nor inferiority. well, *you* did...nobody else did.

Is having a higher IQ on average genetic superiority? If so, then yes: Asians are in that respect genetically superior to whites. I'd rather not talk like that if it's avoidable, but that's a different matter.

I don't actually mind talking about groups being superior to the ones I belong to, but I'm a bit squeamish about talking about it in the other way.

So if you think you're scoring some kind of rhetorical victory on that, I'm sorry to disappoint you.

You're wrong on every single point, DA.

You're wrong in the same ways you were wrong last time, plus a couple of new ones.

You know that you are not really interested in reasoning about this stuff. I know that you're not really interested in reasoning about this stuff. You've got your view and it will not move. In that respect you are a happy partisan of the left. I'm a reluctant dissenter who will abandon my current position and run back to your position streaming tears of joy...if only evidence and arguments would show up that indicated that position were true.

Nothing about my current position makes me happy. For one thing, I have to put up with people like you, who understand about half as much about all this as I do, trying to slyly suggest that I'm a racist.

Among the many reasons that shit is disgusting is: racism is a really bad thing, and so its disgusting to misuse such accusations simply because you lack sound arguments.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Of course the discovery that people in different places are different is a trivial one. At issue is the pattern of those differences and its relation to the classification of the human species. To equate the existence of between-group variation to the existence of human races is to miss the point of race entirely. Race is not difference; race is meaningful difference. It’s the “meaningful” that takes the question of human races out of the geneticist’s domain and places it into the anthropologist’s domain (which is where it has always been – although occasionally opposed by reactionary geneticists like Charles Davenport and Ruggles Gates, whom Coyne would do well to read). At issue is the (cultural) decision about how much difference and what kinds of difference “count” in deciding that this kind of a person is categorically different from that kind of a person. The merest familiarity with the modern literature on race would have made that clear to Coyne. Coyne echoes right-wing ignoramuses with the sentiment that “the subject of human races, or even the idea that they exist, has become taboo.” Jon Entine made the same claim in his stupid 2000 book on the imaginary genetic superiority of black athletes; and the segregationists made the same argument in the early 1960s.

But of course, race is only taboo in the same sense that creationism has become taboo, as being a false theory about the world, from which scholars have moved on. In fact, Coyne’s anti-intellectualism here is the equivalent of the creationist’s claim that “We obviously did not evolve from apes, since apes still exist”. It reveals such an abject ignorance of the topic that all you can do is suggest a return to kindergarten.

Coyne’s post, as it turns out, was inspired by a review (in American Scientist by Jan Sapp) of two books on race. He explains, “I haven’t talked much about Sapp’s review, as I find it tendentious; nor have I read the books he’s reviewing.” The books he’s reviewing are:
Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth, and Culture, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan.

I haven’t read that one, but I can vouch that many of the contributors – including Troy Duster, Duana Fullwiley, Jonathan Kahn, Joe Graves, and Pilar Ossorio - have written insightfully and at considerable length on the subject, and know a heck of a lot more about it than Jerry Coyne does.

The other book is called Race?: Debunking a Scientific Myth and is actually by a biological anthropologist and an evolutionary geneticist – Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle. If Coyne ever gets around to handling a copy of the book that inspired the review that inspired his ignorant blog post, he’ll discover that the jacket blurb says,

a prominent anthropologist and a prominent evolutionary geneticist have teamed up to give us a powerful scientific critique of the commonsensical idea of race. Distinguished scholars and skilled communicators, Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle show clearly how “race” simply cannot be used as a synonym for “human biological diversity”. In the age of genomics, this partnership of intellectual specialties is particularly valuable, and the result is a splendid testament to the merits of trans-disciplinary collaborations.

The good news is that there are evolutionary geneticists like Rob DeSalle out there. But the scholarly boat seems to have sailed away without Jerry Coyne on board. Ironically, the last time I gave a talk at the University of Chicago, about three years ago, it was on this very subject. My title was, “Some More Things I’m Pissed Off About”. Coyne wasn’t in attendance.

Sorry, Winston, but your biologist is full of it.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


TVDA, outmatched in argument at every turn, finally, about a year ago, exclaims: "Show me even one biologist!"

I explain that it doesn't take a biologist, that the arguments show that the race nominalism arguments are logically invalid, attacking a straw man, and predicated on a cartoonish view of natural kinds...

I acknowledge that the current weight of expertise *in the USA*, anyway, is against me, as I always have, and urge consideration of the reasoning.

TVDA: "Show me even one biologist!"

Ok--I immediately produce Coyne, a very prominent and very smart biologist.

No word from TVDA for about a which point he, once again, tries arguments until he loses...

...and then exclaims "Show me even one biologist!"

At which point I again produce Coyne...

Time to move the goalposts again!

TVDA, reverting to arguments,...asserts, on the basis of a few sketchy gestures and allusions to disagreement, that Coyne is wrong...

To review:
Lose the argument, ask for experts instead.

Shown experts, revert to bad arguments.

Added bonus: include blurb from jacket of book.

*argumentum ad jacketum*...

And Coyne didn't come to my talk! My God! WHY DIDN'T YOU LEAD WITH THAT? I had no idea...

You're wrong, DA.

Yet again you've been bested at every turn.

I don't want to make this into a debate, but you are just plain in over your head, and your weasely arguments show that you realize it.

I mean...either you *realize* that you're being weasely or you don't...and either one is bad...

3:40 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Sorry, Winston, but your effort to verify 1850s science about humanity has hit a wall, once again.

I suggest you go out and drink, to celebrate your victory.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You started with the fallacy of the continuum (yet again), failed to even *attempt* to explain why we should allow such fallacious reasoning in the case at hand, and ended (yet again) by running away from argument and asking for experts. I provided this (yet again)...and you said it didn't count (in effect) because he didn't agree with your preferred position.

This is like a master course on how not to inquire.

It's hard to be wrong on every single point, DA, but you managed to do it. Since you didn't even try to defend any of your arguments, I reckon you realize that.

*In futuro*, instead of bringing up this train wreck of a theory yet again, I suggest you just come back here and re-read this exchange.

7:40 AM  

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