Stephen Jay Gould scientifically explains white supremacy??!!
U58563 at uicvm.uic.edu
U58563 at uicvm.uic.edu
Fri Jul 14 23:17:46 EST 1995
UIC holds a number of excellent seminars by intellectual celebrities. Not
always do you hear what you expect, however; for instance, Jeremy Rifkin turned
out to be quite articulate and not at all unreasonable (as contrasted to how he
was 6 years ago the last time I heard him).
Stephen Jay Gould also turned out to be a surprise, unfortunately. Having
billed his talk as a refutation of "The Bell Curve", he proceeded with three
rather lackluster arguments: That intelligence does not exist as a unitary
quantity (surely true, but this does not rule out genetic syndromes of mental
retardation), that intelligence cannot be accurately measured by IQ tests (also
true, but this argument has not persuaded educational officials; apparently
even an inaccurate test is of interest), that intelligence has no real effect
on one's successfulness --- that the statistics quoted in "the bell curve" have
a very high variance, and indicate very little real effect on economic success.
But this too is a cop-out, since some of us put more priority on intelligence
His last argument was the shocker. Having read some of his essays, I knew
that he had often quoted a statistic that if the entire human race were wiped
out but one tribe in South Africa, that 98% of the genetic variability would be
preserved. In his talk, he revealed, indirectly, that he had been speaking in
rather bad faith in these essays --- because, he claims, the genetic
variability of Africans is immensely greater than of all the other races,
making the others in effect one small branch of the human race. Now *HE* went
on to conclude from this that you could make no statement about "blacks" as a
race, because they were immensely diverse; but it should be obvious that a
statement made about WHITES as a group, compared to "the human race as a whole"
would be quite valid. And superiority and inferiority are an inverse relation.
I cannot believe that he actually failed to realize this point; hence, I
find myself wondering if it was in fact his intent to cede the argument without
saying so, and to favor what he ostensibly opposed.
As it happens, I have had my own arguments concerning the issue,
specifically: "map it, clone it, sequence it, or SHADDUP!" but his oddly
concealed argument attacks this position, which I had thought unassailable.
Because if one supposes that the difference is merely one of genetic
variability, and takes as the hypothesis that the "white" genotype involves a
well-tuned set of many genes that work exceptionally well together, it becomes
impossible to assess any *specific* gene for mental ability in any other
background. Because such a gene might interact well with variant forms of
genes not present in the "white" genotype --- it might actually be associated
with HIGHER intelligence in a variable, African background, even though it
would lead to lower intelligence with the white genotype. Thus one cannot
simply take populations of blacks and whites and examine who has what form of
which gene until winners and losers come out --- one must take the immensely
more difficult approach of examining white families with a small probability
of a variant African form of each gene, and seeing whether any such gene is
associated with a very small drop in average intelligence.
In short, Stephen Jay Gould has not only advanced an obviously bogus
argument, but demolished *my own* argument as well!
Which leads me to the question: *IS* his claim that there is a major
difference in the degree of genetic variability actually correct? Or was he
giving some more half-truths or outright inaccurate information?
I have always said that we must examine such arguments with an open mind,
since one cannot disprove racist arguments without knowing the facts, and
because any subtle forms of mental retardation in ANY race that might
be discovered would then be conditions that might be cured. But I never
dreamed that there would be any question about whether truth was on the side
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