James Watson - Africans are less intelligent than Westerners

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by nbs2, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #1
    James Watson of Watson and Crick fame is being condemned for his remarks that Western policies regarding Africa are doomed to fail because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really".

    I don't know enough about current genetic or social research to say that's the case, and his comment that "people who have to deal with black employees find [the idea that all people are intellectually equal is] not true" goes a bit far to say the least.

    But, I do wonder - how much of intelligence is genetically based? And if it is, how do we, in a society that is valuing intelligence more than physique more and more, handle that? Do we try and dumb down to accommodate the less intelligent, do we create intellectual divisions where there were racial and physical divisions? Any thoughts?
     
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

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    #2
    First, it needs to be proved. Until then, it's sort of pointless. However, we do know that a healthy mother produces healthy and intelligent kids. The poor are more likely to not be healthy, have little or no access to health care and have less than stellar diets.

    Instead of trying to prove a genetic link to intelligence, why don't we try to fix the things that we KNOW are dumbing people down.
     
  3. skunk macrumors G4

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    #3
    My first thought is that you appear to be implicitly accepting Watson's findings. Intelligence is so variable within populations, so notoriously hard to quantify, its metrics so liable to cultural distortion, its alleged possessors so unreliably advantaged by that possession, that any system of generic rating is both invidious and utterly inapplicable to any meaningful conclusion. I know several small furry animals more functionally intelligent than several world leaders.
     
  4. nbs2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    I don't accept them, but I don't reject them either. Also, I don't know if he really has findings or just theories. What I am curious to know, is if his theories have any meat.

    Your point on quantification is one that I'm hoping can be overcome. If there was a reliable method of quantifying intelligence, rather than the absurdity that is IQ testing, and Watson is right, I would think that people that are genetically challenged might get more help than they are getting. Additionally, we could more easily identify the intelligent kids and help them develop their skills. How many bright kids, especially from poorer areas, are denied the chance to improve their lives because their parents couldn't move to better school districts or afford private tuition?

    Of course, Watson could be full of crap.
     
  5. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

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    #5
    I've heard of Watson being a bit of a bigot before, but I have to say I'm shocked at this latest outburst.


    A critical point to be mindful of - statistically speaking, intelligence varies much more widely between individuals than it does between races; i.e. "race" has absolutely no relevance when it comes to the intelligence of a group of humans.


    In addition, the ways that we measure intelligence are, frankly, dodgy. Read Steven Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man for an excellent discussion of racism in science, the development of IQ testing and the problems therewith. Gould attacks the notion of measuring intelligence and racial predisposition to certain levels of intelligence as laid out in Richard J. Herrnstein's The Bell Curve.
     
  6. obeygiant macrumors 68040

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    You don't talk to these furry animals do you? :)

    Is Watson saying that some people are smarter just like some people are taller than others. Because I would agree with that. I've met some brilliant people and its not because they went to MIT or had a better situation growing up, they are gifted that way.

    Although an entire race of people being less intelligent is very questionable considering all the variables.
     
  7. nbs2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #7
    But, is it possible, however unlikely, that genetics plays a role in intelligence (even if we can't measure intelligence)? Regardless of race, sex or whatever other group distinction we may find, is it possible that some individuals are "designed" to be smarter than others? That's what I'm curious to know.

    I guess the only way we will find out is when people begin to value intelligence more than physical attributes, and natural selection begins to weed out the less intelligent. If we see a constant percentage of idiots, I suppose we can attribute intelligence more towards nurture than nature. Of course, Watson will be long dead by then....

    Oh, please excuse any mistakes in my understanding of genetics, as it has been more than ten years since I've had anything to do with the field.
     
  8. GfPQqmcRKUvP macrumors 68040

    GfPQqmcRKUvP

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    IQ testing is somewhat reliant on how much you've been taught or critical thinking skills learned, so that's not too much of an accurate predicter. My view, which I have no idea if it's right or not, is that there are a lot of people who are stupid, and a lot of people who are intelligent, but little connection between races. I tend to think this is true, haven't heard of anything against that.

    On a related note, I think the type of household raising the child would be a large determinate of future success. It always helps when you have a supportive two parent household that gives you attention, reads to you, puts you in a good school, and so on. So I think we need to put some of the blame on the parents of some of these dysfunctional households and on prevailing culture (such as a black kid studying or doing well in school might be thought of a sellout and ridiculed). I think it's going to take a culture change, and while improving the quality of schools will help, some attitudes need to be changed first and foremost.
     
  9. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

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    #9
    If intelligence is indeed a function of genetics, then it would stand to reason that yes, some groups may be genetically inclined to be "smarter" than others, but then only across averages. A similar observation could be made about the distribution of average height throughout the world - your average person of say, Nordic ancestry is likely to be taller than someone from say, the Far East. That doesn't rule out, though, an unusually short Scandanavian or an unusually tall Asian.

    In this case I'm going to argue the opposite. There have been studies that show that smarter (read more successful) people have fewer children on average than the not-so-smart, usually because they're too busy off being successful. Historically, it's been the lower classes that reproduce faster. Also, the problem is that we're biologically conditioned to seek out the [physically] strong to mate. In other terms, all other things being equal, who looks more desirable to the average woman - Mr. Big Star Athlete who's smart as a barrel of hair, or Mr. Nerdy Scientist who's more interested in what he just discovered than anything else?
     
  10. SMM macrumors 65816

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    #10
    I notice you have highlighted the word 'designed'. My immediate thought was that you are promoting a creationist agenda. So, I would answer your question quite easily; no, I do not believe there was a 'design' to have any race, or sex, more intelligent than another.

    I do not think a geneticist can answer that question right now. Just because we have been able to map the human genome, does not mean we are anywhere close to understanding it. There are millions of processors, working 24 hours a day, trying to answer an unlimited number of genetic questions. The primary focus is on medical research (where it should be), not trying to solve racial debates. If your question is answered anytime soon, it will be a byproduct of research being conducted for different reasons. Few people really care what the rat's tail is connected to.
     
  11. jamesi macrumors 6502a

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    #11

    i was just about to mention Gould
     
  12. bartelby macrumors Core

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    #12
    Are they gathered together in a cave grooving with a pict?



    The guy also said that a woman should have the right to an abortion if a test can prove the baby will be homosexual.
     
  13. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #13
    Not enough to do anything less than give every human being an equal opportunity to excel.
     
  14. solvs macrumors 603

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    #14
    Well, I did know this blond haired, blue eyed white girl from Africa who wasn't that bright... but I'm guessing that wasn't the point.

    For the record, I'm blond and blue eyed, and I have a pretty high IQ. One of those annoying people who scores really high on tests without even trying. But I do some pretty stupid things too and I work for a bunch of idiots who make 10 times what I do, so yeah, this is pretty much completely ridiculous.
     
  15. Queso macrumors G4

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    One only has to see who sets the 419 scams and who falls for them to realise that his point is bunk.
     
  16. solvs macrumors 603

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    #16
    Are you saying that Nigerian isn't going to send me millions of dollars from my dead Uncle, or that he isn't even Nigerian? :eek:
     
  17. Queso macrumors G4

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    Sorry to burst the dream :D
     
  18. wordmunger macrumors 603

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    #18
    Actually Gould's The Mismeasure of Man and The Bell Curve (Written by Herrnstein and Murray, not Gould) have opposite theses. The Bell Curve posits that there are racial IQ differences. The Mismeasure of Man shows why The Bell Curve is a load of cr*p.
     
  19. nbs2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    No agenda, no belief that some races were created more intelligent than others. I use the word design because of the analogy that you can draw from DNA to blueprints. The quotes are there because I am curious to know if there is a relationship - and how much so. How much is nature, how much nurture?

    I just see this as something that isn't going to solve racial debates so much as affect policy and strengthen countries. If there is a relationship, not only do we face a future of physical-super-soldiers, but mental-super-scientists.:eek:

    I guess I see pseudobrit's point that everyone should have the opportunity to excel, but think that if we could identify weaknesses, that we could compensate for them in our teaching methods - giving more people more opportunity to excel.

    All I'm saying is that Watson could be full of crap or he could have a point or he could have a point but the division isn't race some other arbitrary division. If the not the first, then why not find out?
     
  20. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

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    #20
    Bad wording on my part - I meant to say just that...:eek: I proofread my thesis drafts but not my posts...

    My point was that you should read The Bell Curve before reading The Mismeasure of Man for full effect.
     
  21. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #21
    Any genetic disposition would be so heavily outweighed by individual differences that using race as a way to separate individuals would be worse than worthless.
     
  22. skunk macrumors G4

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    #22
    If you really believe that, you are guilty of almost incredible naivety.
     
  23. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    Incredible to the point where it almost seems deliberate.
     
  24. nbs2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #24
    I said strengthen, not make them better. You really don't think there are countries that wouldn't take advantage of genetic testing to isolate the most intelligent in an effort to strengthen themselves? Before you answer, remember that Kim Jong Il is still in charge of North Korea. I think the risk of that happening would affect our policy towards some other nations.
     
  25. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #25
    I hate to Godwin this thread, but wasn't there a similar program in Germany in the 1930's-40's?
     

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