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Old 2006-03-25, 10:17 PM   #1
Mikefule
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Dangerous subject opened for mature debate

I hope my profile established over several years in the forum will be enough to persuade readers I am not writing from a racist standpoint. I just htink this is an interesting philosophical problem.

Dr. Frank Ellis, a lecturer at Leeds University has made the headlines for contending that white people are more intelligent than black people. He has immediately been attacked by "all right thinking people".

The implication is that it is an absolute taboo to even discuss this possibility.

But it isn't that simple.

In fact, this is a case where Cathwood's "Social Constructionism" comes into play.

We are used to seeing humanity as separate from the rest of the animal world. The equality of all people is a value we all claim to cherish (I hope).

However, humanity is a species, and within the species, there are races, just as within the species "domestic dog", there are breeds.

It is obvious that a Bantu will typically be much taller than an ethnic Chinese; a Zulu will have much darker skin than a Nordic person; northern Europeans tend to have blue/green/grey eyes, whereas Africans and Asians tend to have brown eyes. All these physical (morphological) differences are taken for granted, in exactly the same way that we expect a mastiff to be larger than a terrier, and we expect a dalmation to have black spots on a white background.

What is less well-known but equally true is that there are physiological differences too. A native Australian (aborigine) has a low tolerance to salt in the diet. Exposure to a European diet could cause severe medical problems. An Innuit (eskimo) has a naturaly high body fat ratio, and is able to cope with a diet which is primarily protein and oils. A black person's darker skin affords some protection from damage from the sun's rays. And so on. There is nothing controversial about the principle, although scientist may legitimately argue about the details and the reasons. In much the same way, certain breeds of dog need different diets, or are more prone to certain illnesses.

Now we get onto intelligence, and suddenly it is a taboo. It is perfectly fair to say that Rotweillers are naturally intelligent dogs, that collies have specific intelligence that relates to herding situations, that labradors and german shepherds have the right intelligence and temperament to become guide dogs, and so on.

But it is an absolute taboo to even make the inquiry as to whether blacks are either more or less intelligent than whites, or asians, or orientals, etc.

Conceptually, it is at least possible (maybe likely) that a properly conducted study would detect differences in the type of intelligence of the different races. It is at least acknowledged that there are gender differences in intelligence types. Men are typically less able to multi-task than women, for example.

But our intelligence is of such fundamental importance to our view of ourselves as a species that we dare not risk conducting research which might be interpreted as "proving" that one race is more intelligent than another. Inferior intelligence would soon be translated into simply "inferior".

But here's another thing, and where Social Constructionism comes in, because any scientist conducting research into intelligence would first have to decide on a definition of intelligence. It is inevitable that his or her definition of intelligence would be based on his or her own social preconceptions. White westerners, and western science as a whole, have a particular view of intelligence. We might not be able to define it very clearly, but we know it when we see it.

An Australian aborigine (from a traditional cultural background) asked to define intelligence would not attach the same importance to IQ tests, geometrical problems and the like. The intelligence that allowed his race to thrive for millennia (without intelligently inventing the gun or the bomb) was based on memory, navigation skills, bushcraft, emotional intelligence, coping with adversity in a hostile and sparse environment.

Similarly, someone from a traditional Chinese background, or Indian, Tibetan, or central African, or indeed, Native American, would produce a very different list if asked to define "intelligence". The native Americans were too intelligent to slaughter all the bison at once.

So the western society who sets out to find whether one race is more intelligent than another is - perhaps innocently, perhaps not - really setting out to find which race's "intelligence" is most like his own. Unsurprisingly, he will usually "prove" his own race to be the most intelligent.

And maybe, just maybe, the other races are too intelligent to even ask the question!

It is strange, though, that people who reach a "supremacist" viewpoint, whether through philosophy, mythology, religion, or science, always conclude that their own race is the supreme one. As an example, no Frenchman would ever say, "Sacre bleu! I have done le research and proved that les Anglais are the most intelligent."

Perhaps the only widely known inception is a short, dark-haired, brown-eyed Austrian guy who drove the world to war on behalf of a supposed master race of tall blonds with blue eyes.
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Old 2006-03-25, 10:19 PM   #2
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this will get some serious replys, to bad this isn't one of them
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Old 2006-03-25, 10:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikefule
Men are typically less able to multi-task than women, for example.

But here's another thing, and where Social Constructionism comes in, because any scientist conducting research into intelligence would first have to decide on a definition of intelligence. It is inevitable that his or her definition of intelligence would be based on his or her own social preconceptions. White westerners, and western science as a whole, have a particular view of intelligence. We might not be able to define it very clearly, but we know it when we see it.
You must define it in a way it can be MEASURED in order to come to any conclusions. Most IQ tests correlate with and predict school achievement. If a particular contains biases in socioeconomic status (SES), poor people will not achieve. It's not by chance that parents want to move to better (wealthier) school districts, where their children will get a better education. Then there is that unfortunate correlation of wealth with race, adn poverty with race. But economics trumps race as an explanatory factor for school achievement.

Thankfully, no one is so ignorant as to say: Wealthy people are the most intelligent group.
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Old 2006-03-25, 10:52 PM   #4
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I think you're onto something, but I doubt it will ever be researched, and anyone who tries will be severely looked down upon
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:00 PM   #5
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This is a tough question and some would argue to not even take it further. Are they going to carry out research into this prediction? I do not feel this is racism, it might turn out that British people have "Inferior intelligence" and I would still be interested. Where did you read this from, was it in the magazine "new scientest"?

Sorry for the questions.

Mike
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyman
I think you're onto something, but I doubt it will ever be researched, and anyone who tries will be severely looked down upon
Im not sure, I have faith that people will try to look past this, and see it is in the name of science so to speak. I do not think that this research should be carried out because it could be used against people in court and in other arguements.

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Old 2006-03-25, 11:05 PM   #7
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Maybe people on here, because most (coughhabbywallcough) people on here are intelligent...I meant about the general public though.....I think that most people would get offended, and that it would cuase a huge controversy (moreso than nnow)
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:17 PM   #8
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I can hardly see this going to be researched into. I think there would be too much of a public uproar.

Mike
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:20 PM   #9
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well ive learned that some black people are babys who need to just relax, everything that someone says about a black person doesnt mean its racist just because they say black not african american, and white people now adays dont have anything to do w/ slavery,ive heard that one being used by a black person who gt in trouble by a white cop
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:20 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=Mikefule]I hope my profile established over several years in the forum will be enough to persuade readers I am not writing from a racist standpoint. I just htink this is an interesting philosophical problem.

Dr. Frank Ellis, a lecturer at Leeds University has made the headlines for contending that white people are more intelligent than black people. He has immediately been attacked by "all right thinking people".

The implication is that it is an absolute taboo to even discuss this possibility.

/[QUOTE]

Interesting there is the propagandist and unsubstantiated statement about "all right thinking people", which would seem to mandate that anyone who did not attack Dr. Ellis, and certainly any that might consider agreeing with him, is not thinking straight. Judge/ jury and executioner without a trial.

Dr. Ellis may or may not be correct, I don't know, I have not seen his results. I cannot see that someone in his position would make such statements without thinking he had the means to back them up. Very difficult to call in any case, as intelligence has both an environmental and a genetic component, and separating the two in the population at large would be a statistical nightmare.

He should at least be allowed to provide his substantiation for the assertions. If wrong he should be proved wrong and not just condemned by a few terse politically correct phrases. It might provide an interesting legal test case if he were to be prosecuted under the race relations act for making what he could prove to be a true statement.
If he is wrong then more fool him for opening his mouth.

Whether there was any need for his research is another matter entirely, and another on which I shall hold back, at least for the moment.


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Old 2006-03-25, 11:21 PM   #11
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There are some questions that we neither need to know nor should we know.

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Old 2006-03-25, 11:25 PM   #12
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I have always said that not everyone is equal...people tend to interpret that incorrectly though. No one person is "better" than any other person. However, one person can easily be better at something than any other person. For example, Africans are crazy good endurance runners. They can also jump. And Asian people tend to be really really smart. It is difficult, if not impossible, to say anything "stereotypical" about an American, because America is just a collection of everything else. Anything you say generalizing Americans is something they learned, not how they are naturally.

I would be very interested in research on this topic, but like someone above me said, that probably won't happen anytime soon because of the racism thing....
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:34 PM   #13
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Not only would you have to establish a common ground for intelligence, which doensn't apparently exist yet, you would also have to define "black" vs. "white." How black? How white? Is this based on heresay records of your lineage, or some more-objective DNA?

There are plenty of smart black people out there, and probably even more dumb white ones (based on population percentages). I'm not going to worry about it much.

Perhaps isolated tests could be conceived, and tested across cultures/races/ages/sexes? Like individual puzzles you have to figure out? Those might be fun to research.

Gattaca. That was the name of the movie I was trying to think of. A future society where your blood's DNA tells more about you than perhaps should be public. You have a potential heart weakness that may lead to premature death by heart attack. Therefore you can't get a "good" job. You end up doing manual labor, like janitorial. If your "race" is identified to have a lower level of intelligence, what would that do with discrimination?
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Old 2006-03-25, 11:40 PM   #14
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Gattaca. That was the name of the movie I was trying to think of. A future society where your blood's DNA tells more about you than perhaps should be public. You have a potential heart weakness that may lead to premature death by heart attack. Therefore you can't get a "good" job. You end up doing manual labor, like janitorial. If your "race" is identified to have a lower level of intelligence, what would that do with discrimination?
Good movie, that...rather scary to think about, actually. However, I think it would be beneficial to, not entirely, but partially "assign" jobs to people based on their natural strengths. Some people really are more cut out for manual labor. The problem for this is the pay difference...that, I don't know how one would figure out. I donno, this is confusing stuff, man....
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Old 2006-03-26, 12:33 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by johnfoss
Not only would you have to establish a common ground for intelligence, which doensn't apparently exist yet, you would also have to define "black" vs. "white." How black? How white? Is this based on heresay records of your lineage, or some more-objective DNA?
One thing we do know. If you pay for the best DNA test for race, we all originate in Africa.....
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