Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Definitely not goodthinkful

I am indebted to Mr Smith for bringing the following story to my attention:

One of the world's most eminent scientists was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that "equal powers of reason" were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in the unravelling of DNA who now runs one of America's leading scientific research institutions, drew widespread condemnation for comments he made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour at venues including the Science Museum in London.

The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when "testing" suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson's remarks " in full".
Is that a threat? As Mr Smith puts it:
Somehow I can't shake the feeling that 'studying the remarks in full' translates to 'seeing if we can jail this one after the Nick Griffin fiasco'.
Personally, I doubt that even the EHRC would go so far as to seek the prosecution of a Nobel Prize-winning scientist for making comments that have at least a degree of support among those who have done research in this area. But you never know with these race relations industry nutters. Each time you think that they have reached the absolute nadir of sanity and decency, they manage to surprise you by going lower still.
Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" 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".
Similar comments were made by Dr Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics in a paper published last year. That sparked a bit of a row as well, although at least no one tried to prevent him from expressing his views. Dr Kanazawa should perhaps have counted himself lucky. Earlier in 2006 Leeds University's Dr Frank Ellis had been forced out of his job by left-wing student groups for asserting a link between race and intelligence (Dr Ellis, a lecturer in Russian, made his comments in an interview with a student newspaper). Thankfully, the evil racism of Doctors Ellis, Kanazawa, and (particularly) Watson is being challenged by a far more eminent scientific expert, exemplar of moral perfection, and all round good guy:
Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments. I am sure the scientific community will roundly reject what appear to be Dr Watson's personal prejudices.

"These comments serve as a reminder of the attitudes which can still exists at the highest professional levels."

To quote Mr Smith again:
Isn't it nice when unelected race-agitators of such prestigious background know better than Nobel-winning scientists?
Meanwhile, the 1990 Trust, which publishes the virulently racist Black Information Link, has also got its oar in:
Anti-racism campaigners called for Dr Watson's remarks to be looked at in the context of racial hatred laws. A spokesman for the 1990 Trust, a black human rights group, said: "It is astonishing that a man of such distinction should make comments that seem to perpetuate racism in this way. It amounts to fuelling bigotry and we would like it to be looked at for grounds of legal complaint."
And, reportedly, they will be backing up their arguments with a paper to be published in a peer-reviewed journal early next year...

As I said above, I doubt that even the EHRC will go so far as to prosecute Dr Watson for making these remarks. But the fact that the 1990 Trust is even putting forward the suggestion that he should be prosecuted (a suggestion which, I would point out, even Vaz appears to have shied away from making) really does highlight quite what a bunch of little fascists they are. What other word can describe people who wish to have academics prosecuted for expressing a view, however controversial, on a scientific issue?

Regarding the substance of Dr Watson's claims, I think it more likely than not that he is correct, although I appreciate that arguments have been raised by scholars on both sides of the debate. What I would point out, though, is that while there are those who do not believe that race and intelligence are linked, and who have attempted to disprove such a link by means of calm and rational argument, the far more common reaction, as demonstrated by Keith Vaz and his fellow race hustlers (as well as by PC white liberals), is simply to scream "racist" at anyone who suggests that there could even possibly be such a thing as inherent racial differences. Sadly, the word 'racist' is probative of nothing: it is simply not a rational or objective argument, no matter how often it is repeated, with what vehemence, or at what volume. The fact that we may not like what Dr Watson and others have said about this issue - the fact that we might be happier if what he has said were untrue - does not mean that it is untrue, and simply expressing one's dislike of Dr Watson's views with the cry of "racist" does not disprove anything that he has said. If Keith Vaz or anyone else disagrees with what Dr Watson has said, then let them debate with him on the issues. The attempts of those on the left and in the race relations industry to shut down debate on this issue simply serve to undermine their own position, by suggesting that they are not sufficiently confident in their own arguments to hazard them in debate with their opponents.

Update: Another great scientist has now weighed in on the issue:

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has today condemned the comments made by scientist Professor James Watson, reported in the Independent newspaper today.

Mr Livingstone said:

'Professor James Watson’s comments about the genetic inferiority of Africans, and of black people being less intelligent than white people, represent racist propaganda masquerading as scientific fact.


That a man of such academic distinction could make such ignorant comments, which are utterly offensive and incorrect and give succour to the most backward in our society, demonstrates why racism still has to be fought.

'His offensive and grossly inaccurate comments will no doubt be seized upon by extreme right wing groups to fuel their campaigns of hatred.

'Such views are not welcome in a city like London, a diverse city whose very success demonstrates the racist and nonsensical nature of Dr Watson's comments.'

Quite how London's success disproves Watson's views is unclear to me, I must say. Indeed, the fact that a successful city like London is situated in Britain, a European country, rather than in, say, sub-Saharan Africa, would seem to give support to Dr Watson's claims, insofar as it has any bearing on the matter.

I'd also point out that, his remarks about London aside, Livingstone also makes no attempt at argument, but simply repeats and rephrases the word 'racist' over and over and over again.

Update (2): Now, via Pub Philosopher, I see that the Wicked Watson has been banned from the Science Museum. Despite the fact that the talk that he was due to give on Friday had sold out, the museum cancelled the event, on the grounds that the evildoer's comments had gone "
beyond the point of acceptable debate". Personally, I'd always assumed that science was about the fearless and impartial search for truth, and that a museum dedicated to science would be the last place to be intimidated into censorship by the squealing of an irrational lynch mob. Clearly I was wrong.


bernard said...

Very eloquently put, FR, esp the last but one paragraph.
This news item was on London Tonight earlier this evening, and the BBC sent out a reporter to talk to a black guy on the street about this item.
Now, me cynical..but one would have thought the BBC would have picked on a smartly dressed bloke in, perhaps, a suit and tie, to dispel any notion of sterio-typing...but no! They chose what could only be called a cross between a bag-lady and a christmas pantomime clown in porkpie hat, and a hairdo like an explosion in a mattress factory.
Added to that, the guy had an Afro/Carib accent to match his ludicrous indecipherable.
In effect,the duplicitous BBC was doing what it loves to do most of all: playing charades.

Elaib Harvey said...

Doubleplusungood, and how. You know, I do hope he is arrested, what larks.
Can you imagine the court case, you know all that evidence stuff showing up

bernard said...

Now wait for the Watson smear campaign on the lines of: much of the research work was done by Crick, and that Watson was merely an assistant.

Anonymous said...

Watson should have said that Orientals do better than whites on these tests, or putting it colloquially, that whites are less intelligent than orientals. Racists such as Phillips and Livingstone wouldn't have worried then.

The Gunslinger said...

I am familiar with this research, and I suspect there is truth in it.

On the other hand, I have to admit, the ramifications of it being proved true are staggering.

I shudder to imagine what sort of "programs" the Liberals would come up with to "help" the poor, less intelligent blacks.

They're already on the Liberal plantation. I fear they'd be in the Liberal basement, chained and shackled.

I realize the blacks fear the White Supremacists...but they are not the real danger.

If Africans are proved less intelligent beyond doubt, countless do-gooders, individual and governmental would see it as their solemn duty to manage black people, cultures and countries.

Can you imagine what Liberal Neo-colonialism would look like...with no end in sight?

I shudder to think.

I can't imagine the horror of being a member of a race that has been proven to be inferior intellectually.It's too horrible to contemplate.

I don't agree with the tactics. But I can appreciate the anxiety, fear and rage.

Galileo Smith said...

Do I write in a blog that no one every reads or do I write in a blog that is so much traffic that my comments get swept away in fifteen minutes? Ahh hell, here it goes...
I think race/intelligence is a fascinating subject. There's all kinds of things going on within it; history, genetics, political correctness, and a few more ingredients thrown in for good measure. Personally I think it is highly likely that there is a difference in intelligence (we’ll call it “academic abilities”) when comparing races. I'm not sure that this will or even could be completely accepted no matter what evidence is unveiled. It's just too politically incorrect. There's just too much history behind the mess. The Bell Curve is often attacked and criticized because the authors did not follow proper scientific protocol, or the authors were not "experts" in some particular field. True or not, I see such criticisms as just splitting hairs. Unless research samples and figures are made-up from fiction, I look at such things as evidence, perhaps not conclusive, but evidence. The stuff is just not that complicated. Most of the data I can figure out on my own. In fact, I don't think the question is so much; "Is there really any significant evidence?", but; "Is the evidence conclusive?" It's not far from it, in my opinion.
I think it's interesting that if a person believes there are differences when examining race/intelligence, then he is often proclaimed be a racist. I suppose by pure dictionary he would be a racist. If that's the case then racism isn't as bad as the stigma suggests, since an anti-bigot can be a racist.

Beyond all that initial controversy, a few other good questions need to be asked. Perhaps the best one is; Do we really want to delve into the subject to its conclusion? There's a lot of people, mostly blacks, but some whites, who find their self-identity in their race. For those blacks it could mean a loss of self-esteem. For those whites it could mean a renewed air of racial superiority. As a race-conscious people, we would have to quickly figure out a new way to view both ourselves and others. On the other hand, it just could be that society would be better off not knowing everything there is to know about itself.