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You Can't Say That! in England:

Where America is heading, if the First Amendment is found to have a "hostile environment" exception:

A UNIVERSITY lecturer who claimed that black people were less intelligent than whites was suspended from his post yesterday. Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies, was sent home on full pay by the University of Leeds, which accused him of breaching its obligations to promote racial harmony under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. It is the first significant test of academic freedom since the introduction of the Act, which places a duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between different races. .... He voiced support for the theory set out in The Bell Curve, a book published in 1994 by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, that white people had higher average IQs than blacks. He said the study had "demonstrated to me beyond any reasonable doubt there is a persistent gap in average black and white average intelligence". Dr Ellis also told Leeds students that women did not have the same intellectual capacity as men and that feminism, along with multiculturalism, was "corroding" Britain. His views outraged students, who staged a campaign to have him dismissed from the university. Leeds responded initially by stating that Dr Ellis had a right to express his views, although they were 'abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of our staff and students". Officials said that they had no evidence that his beliefs had led him to discriminate against students or colleagues. Yesterday, however, it announced that the ViceChancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, had suspended Dr Ellis and that disciplinary proceedings had begun. Roger Gair, the University Secretary, said that in publicising his views Dr Ellis had "acted in breach of our equality and diversity policy, and in a way that is wholly at odds with our values".

Note that there was no finding of academic misconduct, no finding that Dr. Ellis had engaged in bad scholarship, and no finding that he had harassed, discriminated against, or even addressed his comments to, any student. Rather, he is being "disciplined" solely because students found his views offensive, and thus a breach of the university's obligation to promote "racial harmony" (which sure seems to imply a heckler's veto for any controversial statements related to race). Troubling, indeed.

Hey, but if we're going to fire British professors for disrupting racial harmony, how about Oxford professor Tom Paulin, who infamously stated that "Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers" on the West Bank "should be shot dead"? Don't hold your breath waiting for laws like this to be applied consistently...

UPDATE: Whenever I criticize somebody on this blog, especially with regard to Israel, someone like Jeff H. writes (in ths comments below) something like, "see, what hypocrite Bernstein is, he is attacking someone for exercising their right to freedom of speech." I have never maintained, however, that anyone should be immune from criticism for saying stupid, hateful, or just plain incorrect things. Indeed, people should be criticized for such things (though one should err on the side of civility); but the government has no business passing laws punishing people for such things. And in fact, I've publicly criticized pro-Israel activists who are trying to turn hostility to Israel (and, to some extent, students who support Israel) on campuses in California into a "hostile environment for Jewish students" antidiscrimination issue that calls for federal civil rights involvement.

But the fact that the government has no business censoring speech has absolutely nothing to do with whether I, or anybody else, should feel free to harshly criticize others' speech. Students at Leeds should have every right to protest, complain, picket, boycott, etc., with regard to Ellis or anybody else whose views they dislike, and I'd defend their right to do so even if I think they are being foolish in a particular instance. What they shouldn't have the right to do in any free society, be it England or the U.S., is use the force of the law to shut someone up because they find his views offensive.

PersonFromPorlock:
The thing to keep in mind is that the Brits never have been free, they just had permission to act that way for a while. That permission is now being rescinded.
3.26.2006 8:14pm
BU2L (mail):
I think it's safe to say that even if the results of the "Bell Curve" studies, which I happen to believe are accurate, were manifested by God Almighty, in a voice booming so loud that the deaf could hear, we would still just conveniently forget about it. It's too taboo. People won't deal with it.
3.26.2006 8:47pm
Tamara (mail) (www):
Being under "obligations to promote racial harmony under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000" seems like a pretty worthy reason to discipline this man...

Why is everyone so up in arms?
3.26.2006 8:57pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
I think the relative intelligence of blacks and whites as a group is irrelevant, since you only ever deal with invdividuals, who can be of greatly varying intelligence. If I go to hire an engineer, I am not dealing with a collective group, I am dealing with the guy who puts on a tie and shows up for an interview.

Employers structure their hiring policies to avoid conflicting with the anti-discrimination laws. Since negroid troublemakers are difficult to terminate without costly legal wrangling, one sets dress and behavior codes that preclude hiring them in the first place, or facilitate dismissing them within a probationary period.

I think that all anti-meritocratic measures inevitably fail because people inevitably lose touch with the reasons a system came into existance and inevitably begin to use the system as a means of extracting benefits of some sort. Look at medicare/medicaid for a great example of a seemingly altruisitic system that has been twisted into a money-printing endeavor by the wealthy and powerful. Think of how much of the hospital system is making its living feeding off the teat of partially socialized medicine. And there are those who wish to expand the nightmare.
3.26.2006 9:03pm
dunno:

Where America is heading

Yes, the new generation in power just doesn't have the respect for the founding values its forerunners did. Any day now we'll be no different than them dim furriners.

The ancient Greeks believed in the degeneracy of man, that there was once this age of the Golden Man, and then, well a Silver Man, and heck, even the Bronze Man was better than their age, the age of the Iron Man. That was 3500 years ago. I think we can drop the "we were so much better when" trope now.
3.26.2006 9:10pm
Jeff H. (mail):
You Can't Say That! in England

Anothe example of You Can't Say That! is criticism of Israel. Next thing you know, Bernstein and others will label you an Israel-hater or worst, anti-semite.
3.26.2006 9:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Jeff H.

Can you give me one example of anyone, student or teacher, who was ever fired, suspended, fined, expelled or otherwise disciplined for criticizing the state of Israel?
3.26.2006 9:28pm
SlimAndSlam:
Re the First Amendment concern: Can't an American private university fire a professor for speech alone? The First Amendment only protects speech from governmental retribution.

(Since GMU is public, I understand Prof. Bernstein invoking the First Amendment as currently protecting professors from this sort of fate. Other American professors may not be so safe.)
3.26.2006 9:33pm
davidbernstein (mail):
SAS, yes private unis may fire professors for speech, though generally contract law and fear of bad p.r. prevents them from doing so. Many unis would love to be able to fire professors (and expel students) for speech, especially when it conflicts with dominant left-wing norms on things like race, but need a justification to do so (to overcome contract law and their own professed adherence to open debate). The potential function of hostile environment law is to give them such an out.
3.26.2006 9:45pm
TTT Student:
Slim and Slam,


Can't an American private university fire a professor for speech alone?


Yes, but what Prof. Bernstien was talking about was the government regulating speech not private actors. If the government tried to enforce free speech protections on private actors then it would be supressing the views of those private actors. E.g., a religious school should be allowed to discriminate because that is the whole point of having a religious school.
The real issue occurs when a public university tries to regulate speech.
3.26.2006 9:47pm
r4d20 (mail):
Free Speech also means Free Association - the School has a right to associate with professors of it's choice. I dont know his contractual situation, but barring a breach of his employment copntract they are well within their rights to no longer continue to keep him on.
3.26.2006 10:05pm
BU2L (mail):
r4d20, you are confusing freedom of contract with its very antithesis - government regulation. That's what's at stake here.
3.26.2006 10:10pm
anon) (mail):
Please do not censor this comment.
3.26.2006 10:28pm
Kovarsky (mail):
I believe there is an engineering professor at Northwestern who is a Holocaust denier on his spare time. The university, at least as of a couple months ago, had stripped him of his teaching responsibilities but would not terminate their relationship.

I have to admit that I'm pretty much an extremist on the issue of what university faculty should be allowed to do with their research. Obviously there's academic research being done, particularly at (ahem) columbia that I think comes from a not-so-good place, but I think Northwestern strikes a pretty good balance. Keep Holocaust denial and intelligent design out of the classrooms, but we don't want to be chilling unpopular research.
3.26.2006 10:29pm
Stephen Carter (mail):
The problem, if I might say so, is not simply that the school chose to discipline a professor for his speech, but that its motivation, if the implication of the post is correct, was to mollify students. The danger in American universities, too, is not simply a matter of restricting academic freedom; it is administrators and faculties yielding their adult responsibilities to students.

Having said this, I should add that I am quite familiar with The Bell Curve, having written about it and actually read it. Although the authors score a minor point or two, many of the cited studies are unpersuasive (the authors performed no studies of their own), and, indeed, much of the central argument of the book seems flat wrong. None of the argument is new. But it is nevertheless an argument, and is within the bounds of rational discourse, whether or not I think it wrong, or tendentious, or derivative, or even harmful. One reason I entered academia was to enjoy the freedom of thought that the scholarly life brings. I would not want to be a part of an academy that protected debate only when it reached the "right" answers.
3.26.2006 10:32pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
The thing to keep in mind is that the Brits never have been free, they just had permission to act that way for a while. That permission is now being rescinded.

I think it was G B Shaw who remarked that Englishmen shall always be free--they are free to do whater the laws and customs allow.
3.26.2006 10:33pm
SlimAndSlam:
TTT Student:


Yes, but what Prof. Bernstien [sic] was talking about was the government regulating speech not private actors.


That may have been what he meant to talk about (and his update does push that aspect more to the forefront), but I read the post (as he presented it initially) as being more concerned with professors' speech rights in general. He invoked such factors (not present in this instance) as academic misconduct, harrassment of a student, etc., which are potentially applicable to all professors, not just to those at public colleges/universities.

Prof. Bernstein: Thanks for the real-world response to my comment. Do the contracts for professors (and non-professorial instructors) generally contain clauses specifying that the school won't fire the professor for speech alone? (I'm talking about professors at private colleges, of course. And I suspect the answer might be different at Liberty University than at, say, Case Western Reserve...)
3.26.2006 10:37pm
DavidV (mail) (www):
Re: Bernstein's updated comments regarding private criticism vs. government censorship

Not only is criticism by an individual fundamentally different from official censorship, a healthy public dialogue can discredit ideas that might otherwise be judged so offensive the government is obliged to censor them.

For example, Europe has a tendency towards anti-Semitism, but many European nations also have draconian Holocaust denial laws, as evidenced by the recent imprisonment of harmless crackpot David Irving. In contrast, most Americans scoff at Holocaust deniers, while leaving them free to continue spouting their discredited drivel.

When ridiculous ideas are dissected by an alert public, the wheels of government censorship will usually remain stationary.
3.26.2006 10:37pm
Kazinski:
r4d20:
Private Universities have freedom of association, Government Univerisities don't, and in this country private universities that take any government funding do not. For the most part govenment programs do not have any freedom of association right in western democracies. That is discrimination. In a welfare state like the UK, "freedom of association" for the govenment based on unpopular views could have devestating consequnces.
3.26.2006 10:42pm
happy IQ (mail) (www):
Hi, wonderful comment place and design
3.26.2006 10:56pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Slim, tenured professors, almost everywhere, can only be fired for "cause", which does not include offending people, as such. Untenured professors have less security, but often have their free speech rights protected by union contracts, or by "faculty handbooks" that are incorporated by reference into their contracts.

Prof. Carter, thanks for your thoughtful post here, and also elsewhere, I appreciate your contributions to the discussion.
3.26.2006 11:11pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I have to admit that I'm pretty much an extremist on the issue of what university faculty should be allowed to do with their research. Obviously there's academic research being done, particularly at (ahem) columbia that I think comes from a not-so-good place, but I think Northwestern strikes a pretty good balance. Keep Holocaust denial and intelligent design out of the classrooms, but we don't want to be chilling unpopular research.

But you'd be excluding half the fun!

A friend, who went to high school in the DC area, recollects how disappointed the students were when the school refused to allow a neo-nazi, and the Soviet ambassador, to speak.

They'd already formulated their plans.

The neo-nazi was about to receive a detailed questioning on reports of Hitler's perversions, and why anyone with an IQ over that of a sea slug would invade Russia in the fall. The Soviet ambassador was to be grilled over the invasion of Czechloslovakia, the violent suppression of the Budapest revolt, etc. All the students had been inspired to hyperactive research in the hopes of embarassing the invited speakers.
3.26.2006 11:16pm
Bemused (mail) (www):
The funny thing about Dr. Ellis being suspended for saying that "white people had higher average IQs than blacks" is that there is absolutely no controversy over that fact among anyone who knows anything about psychometrics.

Here's the result of the largest recent meta-analysis of the white-back IQ gap in America: 105 studies of 6,246,729 individuals found an overall white-black gap of 1.10 standard deviations, or 16.5 points.

Source: Roth, P. L., Bevier, C. A., Bobko, P., Switzer III, F. S. &Tyler, P. (2001) "Ethnic group differences in cognitive ability in employment and educational settings: a meta-analysis." Personnel Psychology 54, 297–330.

The only controversy is over the causes of the gap: are they 100% environmental or is there also a genetic component?
3.27.2006 1:43am
Anonomous Statistics Student:
Quoth Bemused:



The only controversy is over the causes of the gap: are they 100% environmental or is there also a genetic component?



Just a minor nitpick:

You left out possibility #3, that the gap is an artifact of the measurement system.
3.27.2006 2:46am
Kovarsky (mail):
Dave,

But you'd be excluding half the fun!

A friend, who went to high school in the DC area, recollects how disappointed the students were when the school refused to allow a neo-nazi, and the Soviet ambassador, to speak.


I think we're in agreement here. When I said "keep it out of the classroom" I merely meant subject matter that consumed finite educational assets in classrooms where there is some tangible stewardship going on (more than just public school curricula, also most major courses at the university). I certainly did not mean public speakers.

Also, I don't know why this is reminding me of this little anecdote, but I remember Alan Dershowitz spoke at the Yale Law School sometime in 1993 or 1994. He was introduced by the President of the student bar. It was right after he published his book entitled "Chutzpah." The poor student body president was so nervous, he accidentally pronounced the "ch" in "chutzpah" like the "ch" in church. This, of course, in the most disproportionately Jewish forum one could possibly imagine. The only time I've ever seen gentiles more confused at a Jewish phenomenon was on the Tuesday after Yom Kippur - which had follen on a Monday - when, on the Amtrak, the conductor paged a "Mr. Goldman." 85% of us laughed pseudo-hysterically; 15% were just profoundly confused.
3.27.2006 2:50am
Kovarsky (mail):
By the way, the more and more I think about it, the more and more I think there should be some component of law school curricula that requires students to learn basic statistics.

Given our increased ability to collect, store, and search information, the statistical scrutiny under which lawyer's work will come is increasing dramatically. I find that it becomes increasingly difficult to talk meaningfully about affirmative action, profiling, "goodness of fit," the eighth amendment, default arrangement in contracts laws, etc. without an some understanding of rudimentary statistical concepts such as samples, statistical biases, and standard deviations.

As cloying little "meta-something" aside, it occurred to me that perhaps my perception of the increased need for statistical familiarity is perhaps biased by my own incresased participation on threads involving these types of issues.
3.27.2006 3:02am
AppSocRes (mail):
Just to inform the discussion: In The Bell Curve Herrnstein and Murray make the following major points: (1) Whatever IQ tests are measuring is highly heritable; (2) Whatever these tests are measuring is highly related to success in life by any measure one chooses to adopt (academic success, income, prestige, etc.); (3) Marriage in developed countries tends to be homogamous for -- among other factors -- intelligence and success. Putting all these together they suggest that it is a truly worrisome possibility that advanced industrial democracies may be accidentally creating a genetic elite.

I had the interesting experience in the past year or two of being present at a Seder comprised entirely of people with IQs in the above 140 range, married to one another, and with children, all of whom with but one exception were headed to Ivy league Universities. Murray and Hernstein came up during conversation and it appeared that everyone at the table except myself, had not read the book and was violently opposed to everything they thought was in it. Their opinions seemed to be based on what they had read in the popular press or apparently ill-informed hatchet jobs like The Mismeasure of Man. I didn't have the heart to inform those at the table that they were a perfect confirmation of the book's thesis.

By the way, every passing day provides more evidence that IQ tests measure something which now appears to have a biological basis as well as a clinical-psychological one. There exists a gene whose presence or absence accounts for a half-standard deviation difference in measured group IQ (see Stve Pinker's Blank Slate for the reference). Recent studies reported in the NYT and other papers of record show that there are differences in the genetic makeup of Ashkenazi Jews and other populations who consistently measure higher on IQ tests than the general human population. These genes control various aspects of brain structure and activity.
3.27.2006 8:42am
Bpbatista (mail):
There already is a "hostile environment" exception to the First Amendment: Sexual Harassment.
3.27.2006 8:57am
BU2L (mail):
AppSocRes,

thanks for that post - I just ordered the book on amazon. do you happen to know if the gene identified by Pinker is dominant or recessive?
3.27.2006 9:32am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Their opinions seemed to be based on what they had read in the popular press or apparently ill-informed hatchet jobs like The Mismeasure of Man. I didn't have the heart to inform those at the table that they were a perfect confirmation of the book's thesis.

You think the Bell Curve is well-researched yet you call The Mismeasure of Man a hatchet job. Did the research on your Ashkenazi Jews also show that they were genetically predisposed to be money-grubbing, selfish, and conspiritorial?

IQ measures a few aspects of what we call human intelligence, and when IQ tests are given enmasse, they measure those very poorly. Who is more intelligent, Wynton Marsallis or Steve Jobs?

If the conclusions of The Bell Curve are correct, then we should be encouraging the breeding of extremely bright people with the not so bright to acheive an overall Lake Woebegone effect. Also, one would expect that the overall intelligence level in this country would be rather low as, to paraphrase Bill Murray in Stripes, most of the population in this country is made up of people kicked out of the decent countries in the world.
3.27.2006 9:53am
AppSocRes (mail):
Freder Federson: If you'll check my post, you'll notice that I did not once mention intelligence. I'm talking about a psychological measurement, vulgarly regerred to as IQ. You -- like the author of The Mismeasure of Man -- clearly are not terribly familiar with the literature showing the high correlation of individually measured IQ tests with individually measured indicators of success (academic achievement, income, etc.). Group average scores on IQ also correlate highly with group measures of achievement, so I don't see how you can claim that there's something wrong with IQ test given en masse. Of course, you're talking about something you call an "intelligence test", and I'm talking about "IQ tests", so we could just be talking past each other.

Bill Murray is a comedian. I'm a demographer. Research on migration suggests that there is actually a strong selection among migrants -- particularly those who make it to their destination -- for traits that favor success in variouis endeavors.
3.27.2006 10:38am
Kovarsky (mail):
AppSocRes,

All due respect, you don't mention "intelligence" because you tried not to:

Putting all these together they suggest that it is a truly worrisome possibility that advanced industrial democracies may be accidentally creating a genetic elite.

When you mention a "genetic elite," that presumably refers to an enclaved set of the population with heritably superior biological assets. Whatever diplomacy you were trying to achieve by not saying "intelligence" doesn't resonate particularly well.

Also, my eight year old Bell Curve is sitting in front of me and I used to write online behavioral models for quite a recognizable company. It bothers me when people attempt to assert a privileged understanding of the Bell Curve on the basis of a background in statistics. Ironically, what makes the Bell Curve problematic is PRECISELY the statistical bias that most lay people immediately intuit.

Also, could you put the Pinker claim in some context for me? I'm unfamiliar with that piece.

Thanks, Lee.
3.27.2006 11:04am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Well you are disingenuous in the extreme. True, you didn't mention "intelligence" once in your post, but you mentioned IQ several times. What on earth do you think IQ means? IQ tests measure the types of cognitive skills that are required to succeed in the structured educational system that is prevalent in the United States, ergo it is no surprise that people who score well on IQ tests also do well in school and end up successful. I could make a joke, but apparently from your response to my post, you score remarkably low in humor IQ.

My point, which you apparently missed completely or chose to ignore, is that IQ measures just a tiny fraction of what we call "intelligence". And admittedly, people who score well on those tests will probably do well in this society. But does that mean they are smarter or more intelligent than other people in the society. That is a dubious proposition at best.

I have degrees in law and chemistry. As far as I am concerned people who got better grades than me undergrad were indeed smarter than me or worked a lot harder to get those grades. When I went to Law School, I never got the feeling that the people who got better grades than I did were necessarily smarter or working harder. Some were, but frankly, some of my peers at law school who were at the very top of my class and some very successful lawyers I met practicing I thought were dumb as a box of rocks. Frankly, that is why I don't practice law.

I also worked at Sprint and had the opportunity to have an extended conversation with our former CEO, Bill Esrey. He had to be one of the most inflexible, arrogant, idiots I had ever met in my life.
3.27.2006 11:10am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Freder, your anecdotal evidence alleging the idiocy of your apparent betters reveals not a higher degree of a "differnet kind" of intelligence, but quite simply, bitterness. I also find it ironic that while you disparage (with some justification), IQ tests as a measure of intelligence, you find your own flawed perceptions to be a more accurate alternative.

You also, inexplicably, overlook the fact that IQ tests deal with statistics and not with individuals. Your account of a particular successful individual being an exception to the rule, says nothing of hte rule itself.

Finally, the reason our education system "structured," is not arbitrary. It is designed, (if not fully effected), to train people for success in our society. If, on average, people who get high IQ's succeed, and people who get low IQ's don't, how is the IQ test a poor measure of one's chances of succeeding?
3.27.2006 11:26am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Freder, your anecdotal evidence alleging the idiocy of your apparent betters reveals not a higher degree of a "differnet kind" of intelligence, but quite simply, bitterness. I also find it ironic that while you disparage (with some justification), IQ tests as a measure of intelligence, you find your own flawed perceptions to be a more accurate alternative.

First of all, I don't consider people my betters just because they make more money than me or are the CEOs of major corporations who take their corporation's stock price from $70 to $2, try to engineer mergers with criminal corporations and commit tax fraud.

And you will note that I said that when I was an undergrad I bore no bitterness to the people who did better than me. Nor did I bear bitterness to those who did better than me at law school. As I said, I thought some were brighter than me, I just thought that some who did very well were not very bright, in fact downright stupid, and I couldn't figure it out. Likewise, there were some people who struggled in law school who I thought were very intelligent people and I couldn't figure out why they were having such a hard time. By the way I was in the top quarter of my class and on law review, so I was hardly barely hanging on seething with resentment at all the smartasses looking down their noses at me.

But don't get me started on the ethics, that is where I do bear a great degree of bitterness. I saw what power and connections lets you get away with both in law school and out of.

As for IQ being a predictor of success, so what? I thought we were talking about intelligence. If your only contention that people who score well on IQ tests are more likely to be materially successful in this country, then that is hardly startling or revolutionary. But you are claiming that IQ is mainly genetic, a completely unproved assertion as that assertion is based on the results of IQ tests that are hopelessly tainted by environmental factors. Then you imply that certain groups have genetic traits that might make them more intelligent (without explicitly saying so). This is a dangerous road to go down, as it just as easily be used to "prove" the genetic predisposition of negative traits (greed, selfishness) as positive ones.
3.27.2006 11:55am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

But you are claiming that IQ is mainly genetic, a completely unproved assertion as that assertion is based on the results of IQ tests that are hopelessly tainted by environmental factors.

I'm claiming that? Please show where. To be sure, I agree that IQ is genetic, but when did I say that?


Then you imply that certain groups have genetic traits that might make them more intelligent (without explicitly saying so).

You keep it up, and you are going to run out of straw pretty soon. When did I say that
3.27.2006 12:03pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I'm sorry, I thought you were AppSocRes. You seemed to be responding directly to my response to his assertions and I didn't note the author of the post.

If AppSocRes is still out there those comments are directed at him not you.
3.27.2006 12:14pm
PersonFromPorlock:
This thread has wandered off topic, but since it has, may I point out that a lower average Black IQ is demeaning to Blacks only if we assume that a low IQ means an inferior person. In other words, "The Bell Curve" critics' own prejudice against the dull is showing.
3.27.2006 12:29pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Mike,

Finally, the reason our education system "structured," is not arbitrary. It is designed, (if not fully effected), to train people for success in our society. If, on average, people who get high IQ's succeed, and people who get low IQ's don't, how is the IQ test a poor measure of one's chances of succeeding?

I think people would have less of a problem if it was then called the "doin' good stuff in society quotient." The test is frequently administered in English to non-native speakers. You need to speak english to be succesful in society. Of course the two correlate, but do we really want to be insinuating that the test results are about "intelligence."
3.27.2006 12:32pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Kovarsky, I agree with you. Perhaps I should have inserted a similar caveat. In fact, to illustrate your point, I was given an IQ test when I came to the States, at 12. I did OK. I did much better in 3 years, when I actually knew the language in which the test was administered.

With that said, I think we should also acknowledge, that "doin stuff in society quotient," is comprised to a substantial extent of intelligence. The IQ test, imperfect as it may be, and measuring, perhaps, a host of qualities in a manner that adds their sum without differentiating between its parts, is still to some extent a measure of intelligence - whatever we take "intelligence" to mean.

I also agree with the PersonFromPorlock, that a lower (or higher) IQ does not need to connote any moral judgment. I also think that to have a proper context, this debate should touch on aspects of emotional intelligence.
3.27.2006 12:49pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Freder Frederson: You really are ignorant on this subject. Others in this thread should have made that clear to you. I can't be bothered wasting any further of my time on you.
3.27.2006 12:53pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
You really are ignorant on this subject.

Thank you for your assessment of my knowledge of this subject--which is completely incorrect by the way.

It is obvious from your post and your smug dismissal of me, Steven Jay Gould (one of the premier Evolutionary Biologists of the twentieth century by the way), your refusal to address my points, and your defense of a work that was universally derided as sloppily researched and reaching dubious conclusions by the academic community that you simply use this material as a drunk uses a lightpole, for support, rather than illumination. The very first assertion, that whatever IQ measures is highly heritable, is the first of many dubious assertions in The Bell Curve, yet we are meant to take it on faith and run with it.

Your particular derision for The Mismeasure of Man is particularly shocking, since it is a cautionary tale about the misuse of science to "prove" the inherent intelligence of certain subgroups of people and the potentially devastating consequences when sciences is misused to try and engineer social policy. Eugenics led to the dehumanization of entire peoples and helped justify the holocaust in Europe.
3.27.2006 1:15pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Mike,

Of course it measures intelligence to some of an extent - to a lot of an extent. But that doesn't mean that the million dollar question - whether observed differences in IQ test performance are genetic, environmental, or a product of statistical bias - gets any easier to answer.

Also, with this "no moral judgment" business - I appreciate this as an attempt to blunt to the stigmatic effect of the claim about lower IQ, but I think the objection is to WHATEVER inference that claim gives rise to, without respect to whether it is a "moral judgment." I'm just using an extreme example here to illustrate my point, but if I say "this group of people is mentally retarded," I'm not making a value judgment but I certainly think that's besides the point. Again, I'm not suggesting that anybody is calling anybody else retarded; I'm just taking the reasoning to its logical extreme in order to illustrate what I'm saying.

AppSocRes, as someone who is not hopelessly ignorant on the subject but happens to disagree with your "matter of fact" tone about the Bell Curve, I'm still very curious to hear why lay instincts about statistical bias in IQ sampling are not accurate.
3.27.2006 2:17pm
keatssycamore (mail) (www):
The Bell Curve says nothing about any individual you may encounter. It's problem is that everyone runs around thinking the 'conclusions'/'generalizations' in the book are important for that purpose.

Beerslurpy was right on about it in comment #4 on this thread.
3.27.2006 2:20pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Look at medicare/medicaid for a great example of a seemingly altruisitic system that has been twisted into a money-printing endeavor by the wealthy and powerful. Think of how much of the hospital system is making its living feeding off the teat of partially socialized medicine. And there are those who wish to expand the nightmare.

Huh, this is a contrary assertion. The most efficient medical delivery systems in this country are the government operated ones, the least efficient ones private. All the countries that have "socialized" systems manage to cover their entire populations, deliver mostly better outcomes, and at considerably less cost than this country.

Your other assertion--that because it is more difficult to fire minorities, less get hired--is equally without support on either count.
3.27.2006 2:51pm
E.Grim (mail):
Freder,

The late Steven Jay Gould was certainly not "one of the premier Evolutionary Biologists of the twentieth century." He was one of the best known, because of his column in the popular magazine Natural History.

While he was a good writer, he was a controversial person in the field of evolutionary biology / paleontology. His writing refuting creationism was appreciated, but many - no, most - of his collegues did not have much respect for his work apart from his popular writing.
3.27.2006 3:04pm
srg (mail):
Keatssycamore,

If you can't get straight the difference between "its" and "it's," you probably shouldn't be writing about intelligence. Or else, you should proofread your posts.
3.27.2006 3:15pm
keatssycamore (mail) (www):
srg,

Its 'keatssycamore'. No capital 'K'.

Thank you.
3.27.2006 3:26pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
If America ever has a "hostile enironment" exception the the First Amendment? The liberals in my law school already think one exists, both professors and students. Especially if you forward conservative/non-liberal/non-P.C. opinions.
3.27.2006 3:41pm
Kovarsky (mail):
i dont think theres much correlation between apostraphe placement and intelligence.
3.27.2006 4:58pm
Hoosier:
Or even with the spelling of "Apostrophe." Zappa's best album, in my opinion. But my IQ is really low. Or high. I forget.
3.27.2006 5:02pm
Hoosier:
The desire to separate "IQ" from "intelligence"--as seen above--fascinates me. I am in higher ed, and remember taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test. It is now simply the SAT. They will not tell you what the letters stand for, and there is no reference to it on their website. No longer is there a claim asserted that the test measures "aptitude."

And yet . . . the correlation between high SAT scores and high college grades is known to all who work with undergrads. I don't know for a fact that IQ and success are closely linked. But I'll certainly accept the correlation asserted above. So it's measuring *something* relevant. But what?
3.27.2006 5:09pm
Kovarsky (mail):
hoosier,

(1) burnt weenie sandwich is the best zappa album. unless you like hot rats. unless you're into classical, then maybe its his london symphony orchestra stuff. o wait - zappa has the best ouvre EVER.

(2) i don't think the idea is that it doesn't measure intelligence. i think the idea is that it measures intelligence plus some other variables masquerading as intelligence.
3.27.2006 5:23pm
Kovarsky (mail):
ouevre. i hate that word.
3.27.2006 5:42pm
Christopher C (mail):
So now I will adopt a US legal conservative's argument, just to be a contrarian:

why should the UK care about free speech concepts in the US? Shouldn't the UK should look to its own customs and traditions, which are much more restrictive of speech, in assessing whether this professor can be fired or not for violating another of its laws? Your post would seek to impose US notions of free speech on a different society with different customs and traditions. By advocating for a universalist position on free speech, aren't you being a tad hypocritical, or at least inconsistent, if you agree with Scalia's (and Alito's and Robert's) critique of Breyer, Kennedy and others for looking to international laws and norms, in construing US law?
3.27.2006 8:19pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
While he was a good writer, he was a controversial person in the field of evolutionary biology / paleontology. His writing refuting creationism was appreciated, but many - no, most - of his collegues did not have much respect for his work apart from his popular writing.

No, he did important and respected work. He was a proponent of punctuated evolution which remains controversial. His political views and and his popularity bent a lot of people out of shape and he was often accused of being a socialist or even a communist (what else is punctuated evolution but "communist evolution"), which of course helped when the creationists went after him for being a godless defender of Darwin.
3.27.2006 9:23pm
James Fulford (mail):
I wrote elsewhere that Ellis



was suspended for saying what Charles Murray recently said in Commentary Magazine, and in the Wall Street Journal. Or he was suspended for saying what 52 scientists said in a signed advertisement, Mainstream Science on Intelligence, also in the Wall Street Journal.


In other words, this is not fringe science. You could look it up.

The problem is that a number of civil rights decisions have locked in the idea of "disparate impact" which makes it a matter of law that if blacks score lower than whites (on average) on a civil service test, then it's the test that's at fault.
3.28.2006 12:51pm
child:
Gould rightly points out two fallacies upon which the theory of biological determined intelligence rests:

a) reification--"our tendency to convert abstract concepts into entities" (56). (e.g. "nation", "race", "human nature", "success", "beauty")

What is intelligence anyway? Is it merely a mathematical acumen or a penchant for memorizing arcane bits of knowledge or performing well on the test day? No, it is a "wonderfully complex and multifaceted set of human capabilities" (56).

b) ranking--"our propensity for ordering complex variation as a gradual ascending scale( 56). This is nothing more than a lust for order and belief in myths of progress.

Truth be told, there is no unitary mode of intelligence, and definitely no method by which to gauge the complex interlacing of talents each human has in unique combination.

The only end that is served but such a classification is social utility. Are we shocked to find, again, and again, from early craniometry through Binet, Burt, and the Bell Curve, that those with "inferior" intelligence are those other than white males?

So should the professor be fired for his speech? No. he should be ridiculed for his myopic and unreflective pedagogy, and then fired for incompetence.
3.28.2006 9:33pm
TangoMan (www):
It really hurt reading this comment thread, especially when I see people waving a 25 year old book (Mismeasure of Man) as a talisman against current research. Gould was so wrong on so many questions that it amazes me that he's still held up as being an authority on genetics. Why even Paul Krugman sees the obvious:


Now it is not very hard to find out, if you spend a little while reading in evolution, that Gould is the John Kenneth Galbraith of his subject. That is, he is a wonderful writer who is bevolved by literary intellectuals and lionized by the media because he does not use algebra or difficult jargon. Unfortunately, it appears that he avoids these sins not because he has transcended his colleagues but because he does does not seem to understand what they have to say; and his own descriptions of what the field is about - not just the answers, but even the questions - are consistently misleading. His impressive literary and historical erudition makes his work seem profound to most readers, but informed readers eventually conclude that there's no there there.


We're now measuring intelligence (IQ) to brain physiology (see here) and establishing the biological aspects of race:


Without knowing how the participants had identified themselves, Risch and his team ran the results through a computer program that grouped individuals according to patterns of the 326 signposts. This analysis could have resulted in any number of different clusters, but only four clear groups turned up. And in each case the individuals within those clusters all fell within the same self-identified racial group.
3.28.2006 9:53pm
child:
Seems the same old story is resurrected every ten years or so. Really, the brain size hypotheses and theories of anterior intelligence were debunked back in 1900 by Alfred Binet, countryman and follower of famed craniometrist Broca.

Way back in the "dark ages," Binet (yes, the hereditarian IQ tester of the same name) also reminded us that intelligence was not scalabale (like heighth for instance), and that no matter what the measurement, it is only the average of a number of tested events.

What's more, intelligence, he found, could be improved. Again, it is not a thing, it is a unique conglomeration of human capacities. Our culture tends to reward certain strains and aptitudes, to be sure, but that is hardly indicative of what true intelligence is-- IQ tests are merely useful for those in power and ultimately only measure social prejudice.

Lastly, I looked at your links, and I'll need a lot more than a bunch of pretty computerized brains to make me believe intelligence is a "thing" to be measured. I'll read through your pdf when I get time, but so far as I can tell from your bullet points, you're still only talking about brain size differences of a very small measure (millimeters).

Oh, and Gould revised and expanded the book in 1996 which makes it less than 10 years old.
3.28.2006 11:29pm
markm (mail):
"IQ tests measure the types of cognitive skills that are required to succeed in the structured educational system that is prevalent in the United States, ergo it is no surprise that people who score well on IQ tests also do well in school and end up successful."

Freder, if you know of other types of cognitive abilities that are useful in modern society outside of professional sports, and are not counted by the IQ test or properly developed by the educational system, you have an opportunity to be a great benefactor of mankind. Just tell us how to educate the kids who have those abilities and lack the ones needed for success in the current system.
3.29.2006 12:37pm
TangoMan (www):
What's more, intelligence, he found, could be improved.

No, even The Bell Curve's fiercest critic has come to concede that IQ is not that plastic.

BTW, for your reading enjoyment, just published in Nature - Scans suggest IQ scores reflect brain structure:

It's really time to let go of Gould's obscurantism. He's wrong on so many issues that his authority has now been much diminished. Consider his statement:


It looks as though all non-African diversity is a product of the second migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa - a migration so recent that there just hasn’t been time for the development of much genetic variation except that which regulates some very superficial features like skin color and hair form. For once the old cliché is true: under the skin, we really are effectively the same. And we get fooled because some of the visual differences are quite noticeable.”


Juxtapose the recent Lahn findings on the ongoing evolution of brain size varying across population groups. He basically consigns Gould's prognostications to the dustbin of history.
3.29.2006 6:32pm
child:
For the last time, the IQ test is not a measure of intelligence. The intelligence quotient is averaged from a variety of tests that measure approximate aptitudes as demonstrated on a given day. Intellegence, on the other hand, is not a unitary category, nor is it rankable.

What's more, intelligence can be improved. Just because there is a hereditable element does not eclipse the influence of environmental modifications. Gould's example of height is instructive here. A group of average Americans is, say 5' 10" while a small tribe in Africa may be,let's say, 5'4", yet this does not preclude the fact that with a better diet, the second group will be able to emend its heredity. Your pet theory of biological determinism wants to say otherwise.

On the other hand, the number produced by that test you're so fond is arguably immalleable, but as we've been trying to convince you, "Intelligence" is not an entity, a fact you continue to ignore.

Finally, you evidently haven't read Gould's book as he was not prognosticating anything. He was doing forensics
3.29.2006 8:28pm