The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Is the IQ debate racist?

Well, let's define our terms. The Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “racism” as follows: “the assumption that psychocultural traits and capacities are determined by biological race and that races differ decisively from one another which is usually coupled with a belief in the inherent superiority of a particular race and its right to domination over others.”

That’s pretty much the definition I’d agree with, while emphasizing that NOT ALWAYS is it coupled to a belief that the superior group believes it has the right to dominate others. Often, but not always. The rest? Sure. A discussion of racial I.Q. differences is then, by dictionary definition, a “racist” discussion. One who holds these beliefs is, again by definition, a “racist.” I don’t see how I can avoid that conclusion.

I’m not saying their beliefs are wrong—just that I disagree with them. I’m not saying they are bad human beings. That would be determined by their behaviors. But let’s call a spade a spade here (so to speak.) Don’t shoot the messenger. I never said people shouldn’t have these beliefs, or hold these conversations. If you can’t stand the label, maybe you should look at yourself more closely.

People who believe in racial IQ differences will say that the Left is blind, or dishonest, not to agree with them. Wow. Couldn’t it be that there’s more than one legitimate way to look at this? Considering that, to my knowledge, there ain’t much evidence that political leaning predicts honesty, intelligence or education, anyone who can’t deal with the fact that those on the other side might be just as smart, just as honest, and see things differently may themselves be perceptually crippled.

My answer? We’re not pristine intellects sorting reality. Our intellect is filtered through layers of perception and belief. Where do they come from? Well, that’s back to the nature/nurture split, isn’t it? Those who say “nature” can say that our souls come into this world with the inclination to believe one way or the other. Those who say “nurture” can say we’re programmed by our parents or societies. Whatever.

But those who have hurt feelings because I say this discussion is “racist” had better just get over it, or go somewhere else. I respect you, but apparently you don’t respect the dictionary. You want the right to say things that a reasonable person might consider incredibly hurtful, and simultaneously deny that it causes pain. I NEVER SAID NOT TO TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS. In fact, it's downright weird that we can be in the middle of the discussion, and someone will say "but we're forbidden to discuss this." Feh.

Whatever. Speak of whatever you wish, as long as it's polite. But don’t for an instant think you can get away with saying that it’s not racist, and not hurtful. I may believe that it is not your intent to hurt, but like they say…the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

And regardless of your humanity and kindness, the David Dukes of the world are quite grateful to you for your support. Live with that. Stop hiding behind the notion of intellectual purity, or that one side of the political spectrum has “truth” while the other side is composed of deluded self-righteous children.

Being pretty much half white/half black, all my life I’ve heard hard-liners on either side assert that THEY know that whites, or blacks, hold the majority of the world’s positive attributes. And I’ve taken heat from both for not taking sides.

Here’s the deal, everyone: you have nothing I want. I don’t write this to sway opinions, or sell books, or make friends. Read it or don’t. Come here or not. This is written to work through my own stuff, and I use you guys as sounding boards. If you want to believe that one group—any group—is the arbiter of reality, and that your group sees clearly while the rest of the world is clouded…I’m going to laugh at you.

If you have top marks in relationships, career and fitness simultaneously, I’ll applaud, but still not put your opinion above my own (nor do I suggest you put mine above yours). But ladies and gentlemen—if you are lacking in two or more of those arenas, as far as I’m concerned your perceptual lens is seriously cracked, and you have serious work to do before you can even PRETEND to see the world clearly. Again…this is just my opinion, the way I sort things. Don’t believe me—balance these three arenas, and see for yourself. But you know something? The people I know who ARE balanced in all three rarely, and I mean RARELY buy into the “X group is better than Y group” business. And people who are REALLY imbalanced seem to have an almost pathological need to believe that because of political affiliation, racial group, religion or nationality they are better than someone else.

You really have to watch the human tendency to mistake insecurity for enlightenment.

If you want to believe that Christians, or Americans, or Muslims, or Republicans, or Homosexuals are the Chosen or Corrupted People, have at it. And I’m going to laugh at you. From where I sit, the show is mighty funny. From time to time I cry, but a good clown triggers that response, doncha know?

Send ‘em in.

1 comment:

Ben said...

No, because it predicts the East Asians have, on average, the highest scores on the non-verbal component. This appears in South America, the US, the UK & Australia.

In terms of the verbal component Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average. There appears to be a genetic basis for this through selection pressure.

The reason this is all controversial is because people think it will lead to oppression. Not necessarily. Since when are individual rights dependent on everyone having equal ability? And in any case, the figures relate to group averages. Not individuals and there is overlap amongst groups.

If people are going to legitimately ask why there are group differences then they need to be prepared to look at genetic influences.

The response should not be to decry the science. Instead, people with progressive sympathies should study the issues and how we should respond.

Peter Singer has suggested this, and Steve Pinker has made contributions as well.—-02.htm