Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meta-Thoughts on "Race and IQ"

I don't have a position on the IQ wars as such. I find it difficult to control for the tendentiousness of most writers on the issue, and I simply don't know enough about the nature or size of systematic errors to interpret the data for myself. Obviously all the crypto-racist VDare types cherrypick results. Evolutionary psychologists also know what they want to be true: strong racial differences a fortiori mean strong innate differences, which make them happy. On the other hand, I wouldn't exactly trust obliging strawman Steven Rose -- or Gould -- to be fair. Consequently, I don't have the grounds for an informed opinion.

I do have a meta-opinion on research funding for "race and IQ" work, though: I don't see why refusing to fund or publish such research is a bad thing. Whether there's a race-IQ link isn't a central, or even theoretically important, question in biology, as either answer is consistent with current dogma (therefore this is not like Lysenkoism). Nor is the issue technologically important like, say, human cloning -- if you drive race-IQ research "underground," it will end up getting published in white-supremacist-funded journals, and thus getting discredited by association with white supremacists. ("White supremacists" is a very generic term here.) This effect will discourage serious academics who are not white supremacists from undertaking race-and-IQ research: which, assuming you don't want race-and-IQ research to be done, is precisely the desired outcome.

So race-and-IQ research is only worth funding if you think the answer is relevant for social policy. I don't. Even if Charles Murray were right about everything he said, it would still be the case that inner-city schools are crappy; it's not as if we're sinking large amounts of money into educating black or Hispanic kids beyond their "cognitive limits."

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